Monday, January 26, 2009

Stage Specific. . .

I have never been able to stand people in their late 30's, early 40's, droning about their health. I swore up and down that I would never get this way. I am. It started with me getting a rash on my leg whenever I drank wine or beer, so I didn't drink wine until a good friend turned out to be a connoisseur and my friend is an angel and I enjoy this person's company so the wine problem because a bigger problem. On my birthday I tried a wine so I could tell him that I'd tried it and I woke up with bad itching. So. . . I went in for an allergy talk with a doctor.

This doctor asked me many, many questions, saw the rash and said that I am probably not allergic, but that my immune system is shot because my body was reacting to the yeast in the foods and it was getting worse. (I get sick several times each season-- she says that this is not normal.) She held a mirror up to my face and said I was pale. She pointed out the blue pallor in my nails, the ridges in them, and she felt my face, it being "lumpy" under the skin. These are all signs of sever mineral deficiencies. She has prescribed some vitamins for me and is testing me for food intolerances and allergies, but really thinks that my intolerances are due to absorption problems caused by the mineral deficiencies.

These problems are not age related, but she said that the calcium loss in me may cause issues should I Heaven forbid break a bone. She doesn't think these issues are age related but due to me having been pregnant so much in the last 20 years.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Reduction in Forces

It seems that Peaches is pretty much out of our lives now except for when she has time in her schedule. This is OK-- she is graduating with great grades and she is a super person. It looks like Tiger will soon be going to Wyoming. This is how it is to be. I wish I had money to send to them should they have problems, but with lots of prayers on my part and a lotta luck on their parts, they won't need my help.

Walking to the school today with seven kids and the dog, Darrin and I enjoyed ourselves. It's more than just a little odd with it being January and the temperature being +45. The near-by creek was thawed and gushing and most of the walk was snow free. My back is still giving me little issues so I struggled a few times on the ice, but other than that it was OK. The boys and Cloud had a football that they were throwing around and Cloud was frequently yelling at them to slow down or stop-- I think that she wants kids when she gets married, but no brothers!

Starshine held my hand most of the way, or she held on to Darrin. Mudd wanted to hold whomever's hand he wasn't holding. Calamity Jane was between holding mine and Darrin's hands, then wanting to run with the older kids. She kept coming back, then wanting to run ahead again. Dmitri likes walking with the dog. Basil was usually throwing the ball.

Guy-- he's a little on the slow side, but I can never tell if it's his delays or his y chromosome that makes him a little odd. He does odd things like wanting to walk on the other side of the railing of a short bridge, or moon walking in the middle of an icy cul-de-sac. He got way behind then ran through someone's yard to catch up. The people in my 'hood don't like that, so he got scolded. I had him hold my hand the rest of the way home. The turkey rolled his eyes, walked with his coat over his head, tried walking backward and even started to sneeze on both our hands-- Darrin said that he was acting mature, that is, normal for a teenager forced to hold Mom's hand!

I cannot help but feel like we are terribly small. I do miss my eldest daughters, and look forward to having them home with their spouses and children, perhaps with the extended Crumpet clan being 20 deep with people and more football tossing. There were only 9 of us out there today. A few summers ago, we were 11. I do not know how much longer these walks will last. Will Cloud want walk with us in the next year or 5?

Sunday, January 18, 2009

You Come, Too

The Pasture
Robert Frost

I’M going out to clean the pasture spring;
I’ll only stop to rake the leaves away
(And wait to watch the water clear, I may):
I sha’n’t be gone long.—You come too.

I’m going out to fetch the little calf
That’s standing by the mother. It’s so young,
It totters when she licks it with her tongue.
I sha’n’t be gone long.—You come too.


We are having spring weather. It will give way to freezing temperatures again soon and it will look like winter before too long, but this poem, memorized in 7th grade, is going through my mind.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

I woke up to April!

I never understood why anyone discussed the weather at length but when it's as bizarre as ours, I think it needs to be discussed. It's been like this since I moved to Anchorage in 1980-- but every year I am shocked. Our weather is cold for a bit, then freezing our tails off cold for a bit longer, then it warms up and rains, then snows, then nosedives into cold weather again. It's just not fun. We have green grass sprouting right now, mud puddles in the yard, and it's no fun. You can't send the kids out to play in it because it's not snow boot weather-- snow boots get caked with mud, but rubber boots are too slick. (I'm not discussing, I'm complaining!)

My brain is shorting out on me. Forgive my sentence fragments. I'm doing school work with Calamity Jane singing and trying to play Honkey Tonk Angels on her guitar (she's not good yet) and Mudd banging on a drum and singing Twinkle Twinkle. Calamity is funny because she knows nothing small. No Home on the Range for this kid, she goes for imitating Dolly Parton and k.d. lang and the finest. . . oddly this is what her mother listens to! Starshine likes to clap to the music, and she actually keeps time pretty well. Mudd? He deliberately gets out of sync. He's funny, too.

Peaches is gone. She can't handle high school. She signed herself out the other day-- she is 18 and can do this. She has all the credits that she needs to graduate. My husband wants her to stick around, but she is being obnoxious and texting me at midnight saying that she won't be home. I don't know what she has here now. She wanted to take me out for coffee, but I am afraid I will say something hurtful. After she accused me of only wanting her around for her dad's money, I don't know what boundaries she has or what consideration she feels up to showing. Don't get mad-- just love them. I dealt with worse on internships.

Now we are in the next phase of parenting. Cloud is going into her high school soon, and Guy is entering middle school. The next 5 years will be about getting the younger set up and ready to launch as well as getting the tiny babies into reading and being active. We have an insane sporting season coming up and I am tying up my classes.

I am at a loss on what to do sans child support, but my husband says we'll make it. I can't work-- they get sick and need someone home with them. Child support is an issue, but it wasn't why I wanted my daughter home. She says she wants to make her own mistakes-- on that one, you just back off. "Ok, make'm."

At my Facebook, I have encountered the kids who lived on my street who I grew up with. They were my brother's friends, but they'd come home and I'd already be there and I'd be baking cookies or brownies. They are very, very successful and I felt silly telling them about what I am up to, but they razzed me and are more interested in my work with a volunteer radio station. They remember me stuttering and getting into speech and debate.

I was apparently in indirect Cupid for a marriage! It was funny as my parents were selling their house and at this point I was 21 or so and back home post divorce. A very articulate woman called and asked about the house and we connected over the phone—I really liked her and she liked me, too. Right before she came over, a smarmy guy called and asked if we’d be willing to sell to “Japs.” I was ticked because of his term and asked if he was trying to get me into legal trouble because it was illegal to discriminate, then I started talking really fast at him, using my words like stones and hopefully maimed him for a week! He was calling from some place in Vegas and was just smarmy. She showed up right after that and I was still FUMING. I told her why. She happened to be Black and I was like, “You are human! If the money is green, you qualify.”

She kissed my cheek and said, “This is the house I want to buy. Bring me the papers.” I told her that she had to see the flaws by law and besides, my dad would kill me if I let her sign without knowing so she followed me around and signed a promise to buy right there. She was looking at the paperwork while I canceled other appointments for that afternoon.

I called a friend who said, “Her husband is White. She’s faced discrimination.” I told my friend she was full of it (she was White and married to a Black man and EVERYTHING was a racial issue to her) and she said, “You were set up by the phone call—she wanted to see if you were friendly and you passed the test with an A+.”

Sure enough, that night she signed the actual papers and said, “I want you to see my family!” and showed us a photograph. I started laughing and told her what my friend had said. Well, she had faced discrimination. My ‘hood was all white, upper class, and they are upper class—but neighbors would make some snide remarks to my father later. Well, their daughter married my brother's best friend who lived next door! She is beautiful-- and this guy is so laid back and nice.

One of the other friends who contacted me was into economics and now teaches. His brother is a lawyer, another friend lives nearby and instead of balking when I teased him that I'd dump my kids at his place, he said he'd coach them! These are people who I used to ride bikes with late into the night and watch them play basketball (my eye-hand coordination is nonexistent due to my vision) and they played sports with my baby brother. The brothers gave me a clock for my first wedding. The clock is long gone but I have replaced it and it is still "the clock that ___ and ___ gave me." I have thought of them all often in the past 15 years, but that clock made me think of those two in particular a lot.

The other day I received a note from a prof whose class I'd highlighted in my paper. She'd prayed for 10 students-- she got 18 signed up for her class, thanks to my help. She is a really wonderful person and she is very gifted-- I'm very happy that so many took the class!

I went with my church to the prison this past week. I'd been thinking of one of our ladies from Kairos and a lady knew her and let me know that she is in The Hole-- solitary confinement. They are put into a room alone with just a Bible.How the Hell does anyone read a Bible? Without understanding it is impossible and just words. She deserves to be there, but how they do the solitary confinement doesn't help the person out. Who decides how long they be there? They don't have any set guidelines as far as anyone knows-- it creates a psychological mess for the person.

I feel like a catalyst-- I don't know how long I will stay with my church group. Too many of us makes us too eager to talk to offenders. At the same time, if I am on a rotation I can't commit because I have other things to do. Still, I get with things, connect situations like getting my church into the prison, and then seem to need to move on.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Big Bang Fury

I found out that by making Peaches take all the hard courses that I set her up for nothing but college and that this is bad. I was told that I only made her stay in school an extra semester to get child support from her dad who is now playing victim. His wife is messed up-- she has an obsessive-manic personality and went off on drugs, shopping, etc. and Peaches is understandably stressed over him. I understand. On my birthday she was wanting to tell me but I was in no shape to be dealing with anyone. I am ticked that she wanted to tell me on my birthday. Such is life.

I have too much to worry about for now. . .

Sunday, January 11, 2009

I just became 40. . .

My birthday was a good day, but I am studying and I am 40 now. This song is by the Traveling Wilburys and it was going through my head all day.

I had an allergic reaction to the wine that I drank at lunch and it happened off one glass of wine, but it was a nice time. More later.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

'50's House Wife

I just went to the book store today and looked at a book on aprons. My mom was given one by my aunt when I was 16 and I wore it till it was thread-bare. Now they are all the rage-- I am so happy about that. I am about to become 40 and my generation grew up with Clair Huxtable and modern women. We made fun of the '50's wives and how perky they were, but I was looking at all those pics today and some depicted them and they had grown up during the Great Depression! Modern conveniences were being created for the woman of the house, not just cars or factories. Microscopes were seeing things that no one had seen before and they obsessed over how they had survived before. Yes, the '50's hausfrau was OK to be happy.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

And then the washing machine breaks!

I didn't get a lick of stats done today. As soon as I got done with my last post and got my books in order and my Pandora station set, my husband came in to me and whispered that our bathroom sink was leaking and that it had been for a number of days. Hobbling and hopping, only I could see what was needed to be saved. Bending was rough and painful. I cleaned it then helped my husband clean up the watery mess. Somehow over the course of the past 10 years I never bothered with cleaning under that sink. It was a catch-all for pageant make-up, awards, 50 bottles of nail polish and soaps. How did I get two sets of hot rollers in the mess? My hair is wild and I don't try to tame it so I don't use them.

I lifted the mess and hurt myself again when I got outside. (I do not identify with my present back situation but it has to be worked around.)

After that I lay down on an electric blanket and took some pain killers. I got up and made dinner (my husband was trying to get my Diva running) and got the kids fed. (I have discovered uncooked tortillas-- I love cooking with them and the kids like it, too.) After dinner. . . the washing machine broke. If we can' get it working, we'll have to bag up the clothes and go wash them all at a laundromat.

Is this a sign from God to get out and give up on my degree or a test to see how persevering I am? Everything is normal, no big deal, we can handle it.

I'm listening to Barry Manilow right now-- I'm chillin'!

Calamity Jane has listened to k.d. lang and loves he and I am getting some of her CD's this week. She started belting out Honky Tonk Angels, then they took it off youtube, but she likes some of her other work. Not bad for a six year old!

Getting into It. . .

I am at my kitchen table with the kids. Mudd, 5, heard me comment about math and numbers. Well, he is good with numbers so he has taken out his Dominoes and Tantrix games and put them on the floor, offering to help me, showing me that he knows a lot of numbers. "See? Fiffy-five! And this is thritty-three!" Darrin came in and asked what he was doing and he said, "I'm helping Mom with math. Now she knows numbers!"

The older kids are playing a game at the other end of the table with. . . Cloud and Basil in the kitchen fighting. Basil just splashed Cloud with dirty dish washer. Will I really look back as these being the good old days or will my selective memory kick in?

My hips and lower back are driving me crazy. Darrin said I was crying in my sleep. Calling doctors is silly-- they send you in for x-rays then give you mega doses of Advil and muscle relaxants. The bill at 20% is around $200 for all they do and I cannot afford it. I think the cold is having an effect on this. It's really my pelvic bones giving me Hell. They never fuse; they are always flexible and when I move they also move. My husband said I was doing yoga positions laying down and rolling over by grabbing the other side of the mattress and pulling or using my upper arms to pull my body up on my pillow. (I'm glad to see that my CNA training went into my core. I'd show patients to do this when they had weak backs.)

Anyway, back to work. Laying down is not comfortable so I'm in good shape to be sitting perched at the table. Standing is also not nice. A perfect day to study!

A Little Concentration Goes a Long Way

Today with time to focus and study, I got through most of a statistics chapter. I'm doing pretty well at it. I've not been able to concentrate like this in years. Like seriously, since 5th grade. I handed my husband my cell phone so no one but my mom or kids could call me and I communed with my numbers. It makes sense-- I don't know why I have such a hard time with it.

Darrin is awesome-- he is so patient with me. I have been building up in stress to this (Ropi, you and all of Hungary laugh at me!) and just been on the verge of panic for the last month, feeling like the sky would turn to stone and cave in on me. It won't. I kept saying, "I need to do my stats!" then curl up in bed and sleep. This wasn't lazy-- lazy means I go sketch or call my mom, or I procrastinate and do laundry or clean the garage. There are THREE stress reactions. While most people go into fight or flight, I fall asleep. Today I hurt so much, and for the past few days I have been hurting and couldn't sleep. I never thought I would be happy with a sore back!

I made the kids play with Legos and their puppets (quietly, but Mudd gave the princess puppet a light saber and calls her Princes Leah! Today she fought with a pig a few times, then Darrirn read them a story to act out, building Lego structures to go with it. Most of the kids are not feeling well so I wiped off the Legos with bleach water.

Tomorrow I plunge again. I expect to not do well on the test, but it's a mid term. It's OK, then I will wrap up my biology class but mid February and have the rest of the semester to work alone on statistics.

Did I really think I could do med school? I was crying about it today and DARRIN called my mom to have her talk to me and she said, "You can do anything you set your mind to! The problem is, you can't set your mind to anything that requires concentration for more than a half hour most of the time." Life is crazy-- I can't drop off and pick up where I was last thinking. It's so frustrating, but it's not about spazzing out... it's about staying as focused as I am able.

Sometimes I want to divorce Darrin-- in the forefront of my mind, I sometimes feel like he impregnated me six times when I already had 3 kids, so it's his fault that I am so strung out. (I could have also done the operation.) The problem is not the number of children; it's the dynamics that they all go through. Cloud and Basil have been fighting non stop for the past month-- she is almost 13, he is almost 10. This will last for a few years off and on. These two can be worst enemies one moment, then best friends defending each other the next. (They do a lot of push-ups for the things they do to each other and have started facing off and clapping between push-ups.) Anyone with 2 kids knows they will fight. The 3 tiny ones sing obnoxious songs and giggle, then Mudd antagonizes the girls and chases them through the house with a toy alligator! I fortunately see the humor in the midst of it, but dang-- can't I have a week-long divorce where I go to Vermont alone to cross country ski and hike? This nice thing is that when things are great and everyone is getting along I am also "blaming" him.

We have 9 great kids total-- the eldest 2 so far who he got through the hard math classes and the science classes, I sure couldn't have tutored them. They are surely better people for him. On days like today, I remember that he tirelessly works his tail off to support us, believes in what I want to write about, encourages me to write, calmly tells me to get back to work (OK, he sometimes yells and gives me bulgy eyes when I don't concentrate when he sits with me and helps me, but can you blame him?) on my stats, and he says when I get it, "Do you see? You told me you'd never get this an hour ago. Now you have it!" I caught him in a mistake today and he kissed me for it. I cry because I feel like I am doomed, then I "get it" and I cry because I got it. Thank a loving God that I only need one stats class!

Saturday, January 03, 2009

"Are Mushrooms Kosher?" Random Thoughts While Doing Statistics

Today I am prepping for a stats test. I had to take an incomplete in it. The Temperamental Diva isn't running so I cannot say that my children had to be taken any place. They did, and I had to listen to them complain. My husband had to do some other running around and then got home and didn't want to go any place unless it was here.

I had to do my school work. While sitting here I have been yelled at by a very good husband who realizes that when my dad told him I would drain his patience, he wasn't joking. I resist so much, but I like it once I get into it. As I have studied, my husband has growled at me because of how my mind resists working. I have been working and just said whatever was in my mind, "Are mushrooms kosher?" "Can we assign an x variable to my thoughts?" Finally I just had to look up and he said, "TEA! GET TO WORK!"

If I like a topic, I practically teach the class. If I do not, I am a drain on my professors. I like statistics. As soon as I put the kids down for mandatory naps (including the older kids) I got things done.

My back is killing me. The weather is bad. I think I do better when resisting the pain. I tried laying down on our bed but every time I got up, pain shot through my back and legs. I have to sit at the table. I made stuffed peppers for dinner. I am doing it again. . .

Now I must get back to my work.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

The Joy of Writing Bad Sex, Coming Home, Sending Horses to an Indoor Arena, Corsets, etc.

I came home to find sick kids. Last night my husband did not have a good time. After I left something emphatically hit a few of the kids and they were in bed or asleep on the couch. They are fine but sleeping a lot.

I threw out my back while straightening up Danille's tack room. Not wanting her to know, I didn't get aspirin at her place and kept up massaging her. Anything I feel with my back is minor. My back pain is an 8 and will be an 8 for a few days, but hers will be at a 10 until the cold snap is over and will probably take several more days for her to recover. Her husband and kids came home when I found out that if they signed the contract early that they could get her horses in to an indoor arena for a couple of months. He'd been wanting to do this but she didn't like being far from her equine babies! They will only be a few miles away but women and their horses have a pretty strong bond. He wanted to get them over before Danille changed her mind and he was too happy to get back early.

With my back hurting but me still doing what I was asked to do, I was taking extreme care of it. I don't bend, I swoop, using my legs. Danille thought this was great, "Honey, watch Tea! She has perfect posture when she shovels manure!" I couldn't even grimace as I chipped manure to demonstrate my perfect posture lest they catch on! She knew that I'd gone to finishing school when we were in high school and she was laughing, "I can't believe how you are so perfect in negative weather!" Perfect in negative weather-- ah, that's me!

I corset, so swooping without bending is something that I have learned to do when laced up. Last year I was going to get surgery because birthing 9 kids took a toll on my bladder control. Six weeks after starting to tight lace, I didn't need the surgery that was to sling my bladder up. Swooping without bending my back for 6 weeks did more for me than doing over a million Kegals over the previous 10 years. I look atthat surgery that I was to get and I am flabbergasted that in the time it takes to recover from the surgery, I solved the problem with a corset! Aside from me having zero recovery time, it cost way less than the surgery would have cost, too!

Steve at On the Slow Train sent me to Eudaemonia's article on writing about sex. This was helpful. She also directed her readers to Elizabeth Benedict's Joy of Writing Sex. Before I go any further I am going to buy this book next week.