Thursday, September 30, 2010

And the Big Box Goes to...

Pookie chases after a big box o' chocolates last Easter, 2010

Do you like Big Box stores?  You know - the ones that entice you with all the yummy samples and good deals when all you went in to get was their tasty organic salsa jumbo-sized and you walk out with 1/6th of your two week envelope budget floating in the wind.  So to speak.  I mean, I'm stocked good and plenty on all things red - Salsa.  Spaghetti sauce.  Ketchup.  But man-oh does it ever bother me that I'm left with only 4/5ths of my budget already.  (OK 3/5ths cuz we also stopped by Target and bought - necessities only - things we need.  Seriously ~ the 9 year-old needs socks that go past the arch of his foot - those belong on the 6 year-old foot by now.)  And it's the first day of this envelope.  Good gravy.  It's a good thing I can get creative in the kitchen.  Oh wait.  I can't.  *sigh*

Seriously, I am on a kick people.  This week I began reading Radical by David Platt.  Yeah, yeah, I know -If you know me in real life then you may be feeling like I'm a broken record.  But there is so much excess in this world.  I still have a giant storage locker full of stuff we don't even need after 6 months ... well, about 1-2 times per week the kids will ask for something and I'll start, 'Sorry guys.  I think it's in...' and they don't even need me to finish before they lament with a big giant chip on their under-excessified selves, "it's in storage  *big sigh, heave shoulders, the whole bit.* "

I love June from Bye Bye Pie (originally Bye Bye Buy - which I adore.  Sugar I won't denounce quite yet.  But she is crass and funny and real.  And usually I laugh outloud when I read her posts).  For an entire year, she and her husband did not buy more than what they needed.  Last night, Hubby and I decided to start contemplating whether there was anything we purchased that day that wasn't necessary.  I can't promise that I can go an entire year, but it certainly puts spending into perspective when you think, "Do I need this or want this?"  And "How wisely did I spend my money today?"  Ouch.

Now, tying all this together, I go back to the big box stores.  I can see the benefit of stocking up.  But man-oh it hurts to shell out the cash up front.  I almost wonder if it would be better for me to go buy a smaller bottle of ketchup (oh yes - it is an essential, believe me) for $3 than 3 ginormous ones fo $10.  What do you think?  Do you big box or not?

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Black, White and Gray In Between

I heard music coming from my purse.  I stopped in the aisle at Walmart and fumbled around inside my bag.  Flipping open the case after seeing the school number on caller I.D., I said, "Hello?" half expecting the nurse.

A male voice replied, "Mrs. Jackson?"  He unnecessarily identified himself as the school principal.  I recognized his voice.  After I acknowledge it was me, he continued, "Mrs. Jackson, do have a minute?  I have Meiners here in the office with me."

Mr. D continued to describe in a serious tone what had occurred that morning on the school playground.  "...kickball...argument over outs...Meiners punched a boy...first offense for a first grader...he spent his lunch with you want to talk to him..."

Meiners came on the phone.  He cried uncontrollably into my ear.  None of his answers were intelligible.  "Meiners, did you hit someone on the playground?  Why'd you do it?  It's not OK.  We'll talk about this tonite.  Let Mr. D have the phone."

After the storm had passed, I talked more with Meiners about what had happened on the playground.  What took place involved Meiner's oldest and dearest friend.  I call him Meiners' True North.  For Meiners, TN is home.  Does that make any sense?  Comfortable.  Predictable.  Loyal.  Safe.  He's the one who is always there.  Is always going to be there.  Home.  Everyone needs a friendship like Meiners and TN's.

This day, TN decided to play kickball with Meiners.  And he kicked the ball.  Then ran to first base.  But another boy declared him out.  Meiners - for whatever reason - argued TN was safe.  Was it because he was safe?  Because he didn't want TN - who usually doesn't play kickball - to give up and quit playing?  Because he wanted to defend his best friend?  It doesn't matter.  Meiners said he was safe.  But the other boy insisted the other way.  And put his hands over his ears.  And yelled, "Nah nah huh boo boo."  At least in Meiners' version.  And Meiners responded, "I am now forced to talk with my hands!" 


Friday I took my boys to the pediatrician for their well visit.  She looked into Meiners' ears and whistled.  "He's got fluid in his ear.  Oooooh and an infection in this one."  We discussed the dark circles under his eyes.  How signficantly badly he had performed on his hearing test in her office.  She said, "Allergies like this can lead to a serious lack of sleep, outbursts, and easy frustration."

I took a step back.  Not to excuse the behavior - or the very nature of his loyalty and competiveness and the spirited person we have always known him to be.  And the job we have even now to teach him to make good choices and to exhibit self-control as appropriate.  But also to give him a chance.  And a seat closer to the teacher.  And maybe some allergy meds.

I love you Meiners.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


I think I'm just buried in Life right now - and have lots to say and no ability to say it --- if you're a blogger or a writer, in fact, I know you know what I am talking about.  I am going to start carrying a notebook with me to record my ideas.  Because Ideas I have, but follow-through I lack.

I would appreciate any and all prayers for Pookie.  She is going into week 7 of unhealthy lung issues.  She attended two full days of school this week (maybe up to a total of 10 for the year so far, and that's being generous) - and experienced one unfortunate playground incident where a dear friend left her in the lurches.  Tough for Mama Bear to keep her wits.  I love my girl.

And as you can see, Li'l Bit has been having some difficulty breathing, too.  Fortunately, she looks up to Big Sis and puts up with the motoring meds spewing into her face.  At least in the daylight.  She's a bear cub overnight.  But we've made it.

Thanks for checking in.  And I promise, sooner than later I'll be back with pithy stories and a splatter of recipes to boot.   Love you all!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

For You

My friend called today.  She asked me the deep, dark questions.  I spoke honestly.  I explained that I question.  Even when no one around me seems to be questioning.  I admitted I pray often for Faith - even the size of a mustard seed.  I told her that I resent how not everyone seems to be afflicted equally.  But I remembered this video.  And because I don't have your email, I am putting it here.  Because I know you read.  And I love you for your brave honesty.  For your heart and how you love your kids.  Even the tough ones.  Thank you for allowing me to share my heart.  Even though it's broken and complex.  And sinfully human, too.  May you find Peace - and maybe even a little of what you are looking for, here.

God Bless.

Monday, September 13, 2010

on enhancements

Oh you know I'm laughing about that title...I'm so double entendre.

A number of weeks ago, our wish granter called to tell me about an enhancement activity she put together for Pookster and the rest of us.  This is an activity/something special Make A Wish tacks on to an otherwise already wholly wonderful once in a lifetime opportunity that, well, completely adds to ~ or enhances ~ the original wish.  It involved a behind-the-scenes look into our personal favorite show of all time: 
 The PNC Bank Sea Lion Show
at the world famous St. Louis Zoo!!!

(I'm not kidding - we love that show!  T could be heard throughout our tour, "You say that in the show."  "I've heard that in the show."  Yes, we go every time we visit the zoo in the summer!  And this time - WE were on the stage!)  That's right - today we would have been home from Hawaii with just one more wee li'l day off from school to go behind-the-scenes with the sea lions.  An activity I've tried to sign Pookie up for for two years in a row - and they always get booked up before she gets in.  You might remember this story  and here when Meiners was picked from the audience.  Solidified Pooks' desire to be the star.  And today was her day.  Despite a change of plans for Hawaii, we agreed we couldn't miss this opportunity. 

Pookie enjoyed the absolute time of her life.  And so did I.  I may have mentioned previously that in high school I wanted to be a doctor.  But in college, I wanted to be a marine biologist.  When I couldn't cut Chem120 and Calculus, I settled on becoming a speech pathologist.  My senior year, however, I managed to win a coveted scholarship within my department by writing an essay describing my desire to incorporate my two loves - biology and talking - in hopes of one day studying and exploring the benefits of using marine life to facilitate communication in children with limited expressive skills.  Yeah.  I was pretty idealistic.  Especially since I applied to grad school and attended in the midwest.  Where there were no dolphins.  (Is there any question that Pookie is a Mini-Me when her favorite animal is ... the dolphin??)

Today she received the royal treatment.  She walked through the aquatic offices, watched Benny take a bath, explored the show stage, and participated in her own private PNC Bank Sea Lion Show!  And then the rest of us did, too!  (Minus daddy - 5 people was the limit.)  Pookie recieved a sea lion stuffed animal (OMG - can you say HEAVEN??) and everyone else got frisbees.  We all brought home zoo hats, some zoo cups, and a whole lot of exhaustion.  Plus, memories of an absolute lifetime.

Thanks CJ, Make A Wish, and the St. Louis Zoo for giving me this:

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Just think.


This morning...
  • I made three extra trips to bring a backpack, a library book, and medicine to school.  And to think, I could have been in Hawaii.
  • I spent 3 hours shopping at Walmart with a 3 year-old.  And to think, I could have been in Hawaii.
  • I answered three calls from the school nurse.  And to think, I could have been in Hawaii.
  • I fielded a phone call from the principal over a playground scuffle.  And to think, I could have been in Hawaii.
  • I came home to find the dog chewing trash on the floor.  And to think, I could have been in Hawaii.

new card line I found at WalMart called 'Connections from Hallmark ~ Saturdays' --- HUHlarious.

This afternoon...
  • I ran up and down 2 miles of steep hills while pushing 50 pounds.  And to think, I could have been in Hawaii.
  • I scheduled a mammogram to diagnose a lump.  And to think, I could have been in Hawaii.
  • I said, "Don't break your arm," as she fell from the swing and probably broke it.  And to think, I could have been in Hawaii.
  • she fell and scuffed her nose and her knee while leaving the park.  And to think, I could ahve been in Hawaii.
  • a gray hair nearly hit us while passing through an intersection in rush hour - and HE gave ME the finger.  And to think;  I COULD HAVE BEEN IN HAWAII!
Today I am grateful...
  • to live close to a school with a wonderful nurse and a compassionate principal.
  • to have time and money to shop for the things my family needs.
  • to have a vacuum.
  • to be capable of running while my toddler naps.
  • for my health and our insurance.  
  • for their health and our insurance.
  • for the horn on my van and restraint on my lips.
  • that we are rescheduled to make our trip to Hawaii!

Praise God!


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

More Than Enough

For those who are checking - thank you.  Pookie is making a slow but steady recovery.  She attended half a day of school and is hoping to stay the entire day tomorrow.  Thank you for asking and for caring for us.

Fashionista Summer '09  (she does not come by this naturally)

I don't shop.  Well, I mean I totally shop - for groceries, for new blogs, for books on photography, but I...ya know...don't shop.  Maybe it's because I have four kids and more times than not I spend my time 'shopping' actually cajoling a child out of the clothes rack or to stop beat-dancing in the cart before it topples.  Anyway, I don't end up buying a lot for myself.  Except icee mochas.  But that doesn't count, either.

Recently, I found a store.  I love this store.  Like love it love it.  I could buy everything there.  And the prices aren't ridiculous.  And I want more stuff.  From this store.  But my envelope is empty.  Or at least, there's only enough money in there to buy groceries.  And really not even for that.  Cuz there were just a few too many comfort-trips to the Bread Co for mac-n-cheese and salad last week (there's a Bread Co just a block from the hospital...and a mile from my house.  But whatever.)

So this morning, I want fancy clothes and fancy food (made by someone else), but instead I sat down to write my online Bible study message to my online Bible study girls.  Here's what I wrote:
My Bible verse is "It is better to be patient than powerful; it is better to have self-control than to conquer a city." (Proverbs 16:32 NLT)

I'm lacking self control in the spending and in the speaking categories of my life lately. I don't buy things for myself very often, and have recently stumbled upon a store that actually fits my style to a T ... problem being that now I want to return and buy that other thing(s) and the math doesn't add up this envelope. Boo.

"We work to feed our appetites; Meanwhile our souls go hungry." (Ecclesiastes 6:7, The Message)

I pray that saying no to myself I will be reminded that "The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for Him." (Lamentations 3:24).

And tomorrow I'll deal with controlling my tongue. 
I'm writing this here so that I don't forget.  I don't forget that I cleaned out my fridge today and don't have anything to feed the family, and yet there is food enough for every meal.  I folded 6 loads of laundry and yet I apparently need more.   ...  ??

God has provided me my portion.  Indeed, more than enough.  For that, I am grateful.

Friday, September 3, 2010

In Seven Days

I felt the squishy friese underfoot as I crossed the room, stopping at the top of the stairs.  I listened.  Sounds of cheering came from the game on tv.  I waited.  It came again.  The faint sound of a seal barking. Stealthily, I descended the stairs.  I stopped again at the bottom. Unseen from the rest of the room, I stood, listening.  Moments passed.  It came again.  Bark bark bark.  Bark.

I passed the treadmills in the center room and quickly entered the bunk room - the bedroom we'd converted early in the summer for all the kids to sleep, a bunk bed lining each east and west wall.  Mentally taking inventory, two were asleep in the bottom of the cherry bunk.  One quietly asleep in the top of the cherry bunk.  Bottom pine bunk empty (Sash had climbed in with Meiners).  Top pine bunk ~ coughing.  I stepped over piles of folded laundry on the floor to make my way to her side.

On the top bunk, Pookie's head lay parallel to mine as I peered through the bars.  Although sleeping, she slept restlessly.  Moaning.  Cough.  Moan.  Cough cough.  I left her side and sprinted up the stairs.

Earlier in the night, Pookie complained before bed.  Hers is a predictable bedtime routine.  All the other children pop their vitamins into their mouths, head to the bathroom to brush their teeth, and trip over each other to get down to their bedroom before daddy counts to 30.  It's a traditionally successful means of getting the kids to bed quickly.  Except for Pookie.  She has several medicines to take.  And she distracts herself watching TV instead of taking them until I lose my patience.  And lately she's added to the longevity of her medicine regime by getting nebulizer treatments before bed, as well.  Add 15 minutes for that.  Then she'll plod off to brush her teeth.  Out she comes to ask for her retainer to be cleaned in Efferdent.  Back she goes to finish brushing.  Out she comes to ask for water.  Notices TV.  She sits nonchalantly on the edge of the couch pretending to get sucked into the show her dad is watching.  I yell.  She maintains her gaze on the screen as she backs toward the steps.  I stand in a threatening way.  Daddy starts to count.  She races down the steps.  Minutes later, she reappears, asking for water.  A hug. 

This night, Pookie followed her usual protocol for bed.  Only she added complaining.  Complaining that her chest hurt.  Complaining that her back hurt.  Complaining that she just didn't feel well.  I was losing my patience.  Again.  Not because I'm an unsympathetic mom.  But because this had been going on for a week.  Every day, the nurse at school called.  "She's compaining that her chest hurts."  "She's complaining that her side hurts."  "She's complaining..."  I'd talked to the pediatrician.  I'd talked to the cardiologist.  I'd talked to my friend the respiratory therapist.  I'd talked until I was tired of asking and hearing the same answer: her ancillary muscles are fatigued from the asthma exacerbation last week.  Give her Tylenol.

I brought Pookie's nebulizer downstairs and started plugging the machine in and preparing the medicine.  I climbed the ladder and straddled her.  "Pooks.  You're having a hard time breathing.  I'm going to give you a treatment.  OK?"  Her eyes fluttered.  She groggily nodded and allowed the band to stretch around her neck and the mask to be placed over her mouth and nose.  While the medicine splayed into her airways, I laid down beside her and prayed.


Pookie's heart pounded in her chest.  She sucked in half breaths that racked her body.  She coughed.  Tears streamed down her face.  "It hurts!  It hurts!  It hurts!"  She coughed again.  The dark road stretched before us as I entered the highway and pushed the gas pedal down as far as it would go.  The treatment had ended and the coughing intensified.  I found the phone and called the hospital.  Earlier in the day, I had called both the pediatrician and the pulmonologist to see what to do about the crackles returning in Pookie's lungs upon ausculatation from the school nurse.  The pediatrician advised going through pulmonology.  I felt lost without the safety net of our lovely, sweet, maternal doctor's after-hours exchange.  I launched into a description of the previous three weeks with the unfamiliar, non-english-speaking doctor from the hospital's pulmonology department who took my call.  Upstairs now, I could hear Katelyn crying and coughing and my husband yelling for me to come quickly.  Coughing up blood.  I hung up and grabbed the bag Daddy had speedily packed for Katelyn's now-inevitable trip to the E.R.  We debated calling an ambulance.  I turned the overhead lights on to keep an eye on Pookie from the rearview mirror.  Speeding through stoplights I reached the highway.  I turned on VBS songs to calm Pookie from the backseat and to give myself the chance to pray.

Briskly, I walk along the familiar path between two concrete buildings.  I promised to be back in 20 minutes.  I wonder at a car driving through the court which was once a driveway but is now remodeled into a walkway.  I slurp my frozen coffee.  I consider antibiotics and how easily I confuse their names.  On blood thinners due to her artificial mitral valve, I find myself repeatedly telling the nurse, "She can't have that ~ it interacts with her coumadin."  It's no surprise that the doctors have to carefully consider what medicine to give Pookie to combat this aggressive pneumonia.  I think about a trip to the ER in Nashville three years ago when the doctors gave Pookie a shot that resulted in a week's hospital stay due to Ceftriaxone's interaction with Coumadin.  I struggle to remember the newest name to memorize, Cefepine, that the doctors today promise does not interact with blood thinners in the same way.  And Unasyn that they discontinued because it is too closely related to the augmentin that Pookie had been on for 10 days prior to this hospital stay.  And the Cefdinir she took as a pre-med for her orthodontic appointment Wednesday in the midst of the augmentin regimine.  And I walk along the sidewalk and pray.

I sit on the eve of what would have been our biggest family vacation of all.  Her wish granters visited her in the hospital on Sunday night.  Their generosity astounded all of us.  The week passed and the I.V.s were pulled.  She came home to recover.  And to pack.  But late last night, as I contemplated which suits and where were the goggles and floaties, she stumbled upstairs.  Itching.  Scratching.  Allergic.  The medicines prescribed to help her over these last few days of fighting an aggressive and resistant pneumonia became too much for her 46 pound frame.  She itched and scratched and bled.  And we called it off.  It has all been too much - for her and for us - and she needs time to recover.  So we wait.  And Make A Wish will reschedule.  And she will heal.  And I pray.

Dr. Pookie
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