Monday, May 16, 2011

Consider Yourself Warned

It's been an interesting month.

It started a month ago when I finally went to the doctor because my guts are broken. Again. I've gone for four years and kind of forgot that I have a chronic auto-immune condition that can flare up anytime. Until it does-- and then boy do I remember!

Long story short, the doctor tells me I'm way overdue for another colonoscopy and schedules one for April 19th. Yikes!

You see, I can push myself through 100 mile bike rides, I can work just about anyone under the table, and I can accomplish just about anything I set my mind to. The one thing that I cannot do is make myself drink the gosh-awful stuff that cleans you out the night before the procedure. Just. Can't. Do. It.

I think that my guts know exactly what the purpose of the horrendous mixture is and as soon as it hits my stomach, my stomach clenches and chucks it all back up.

No more details. It sufficeth to say, I had a horrible night.

Anyway, I made it through the night and the procedure pretty well, but sure enough, I was in the middle of a huge flare up-- one that required a different course of treatment that I have never tried before-- steroids.

Steroids frighten me-- ever since my mom was on a course of them and actually developed a condition called "steroid psychosis." I worried it might be hereditary.

It wasn't. But over the course of the month of taking them, I have had some pretty interesting side effects.

  • I am hungry. All of the time. I eat a meal and an hour later, I feel ravenous.

  • As a consequence of the above, and also I am hoping some water retention, I have gained back most of the weight that I worked so hard to lose after Christmas. Pardon my French but DAMMIT!

  • I have hot flashes. If this is an indication of what is to come when I am much, MUCH older, then I think you'd better shoot me now.

  • I am unpredictable. Sometimes I feel manic euphoria and sometimes I feel rage.

  • I can't sleep. Even with Ambien. That's when you know you're in trouble.

In other words, these steroids have turned me into a teen-age boy.

I will try to remember this when my boys get to be a little older and I want to kill them for eating too much, growing too fast, never wearing jackets and acting like cretins.

When I started experiencing the weirdness, I looked up Prednizone online to see what side effects were listed. All of my symptoms were in the common section. There was also one piece of advice that I think they ought to list on the bottle:

"You should let your family, friends, and co-workers know that you are taking steroids and that your behavior may be erratic."

Consider yourselves advised. :-)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

My Proudest Moment

You'd think growing up in a house of only sisters, I would be a girly-girl. I think that the all-girl thing actually worked against my femininity, because there was no brother to take away my dad's attention. After 4 or 5 tries for a boy, he finally resigned himself to the idea that, if he wanted someone to play baseball with, he was going to have to settle for what he had.

My sister and I turned into sports nuts. I like just about every sport. I kicked trash this year at fantasy football. I know all of the teams in the NFL and I could probably tell you who their starting quarterback was last season. In our Relief Society directory, I am the only one who put Monday Night Football as my favorite t.v. show.

I also like pro cycling, golf, and basketball. However, what I really love is baseball.

My dad was a fantastic softball player. He played on work, city and church leagues. We went to every game. Summer meant ballgames.

My dad taught me to hit a ball. Hard. He taught me how to catch in the pocket of my mitt. And, most importantly, he taught me how to NOT throw like a girl.

Now I have kids of my own and I have waited patiently for them to be old enough to play baseball. When Em was 5, we signed her up for tee-ball. I was so excited! What a let down. Tee-ball is NOT baseball. There are no outs. There is no pitcher. There are a lot of little kids who don't know which way to run.

Next, we found a competitive machine pitch baseball league for Mike when he was 7. Full uniforms and outs and everything.

Just like that, I became a baseball mom.

Here's the problem, though. I think that I like baseball better than my boys do.

They like it all right, but they also like to shoot baskets in their new basketball standard and they like to play Wii. I'm not sure that baseball even ranks top 3. They won't sit and watch Red Sox games with me (even though I redid their whole bathroom in RedSox decor). They don't want to spend hours in the yard practicing.

What the heck? It's probably good-- because if they loved it, I'd move heaven and earth to get them on super-league teams and into camps and stuff. Such is life.

However, last night, we had a moment that made up for my little disappointments.

Mike was playing in his second Little League game. He is on the Indians and his team ROCKS. He is the youngest and the 2nd smallest, so he's having a little adjustment from being THE MAN on his Rookie team last year. Instead of playing 1st base, he warms the bench or plays outfield. He does, however, get to bat.

This is his first year on a pitching league, instead of machine pitch. It scares me a little to see my little guy up there against these 11-12 year old pitchers. I played in hundreds of games growing up and I don't think I was ever as nervous for myself as I am for my son. I was literally praying for him to just do his best and oh, could you maybe just let him hit the ball? 1st time at bat and he gets up there and smacks a wicked curve ball out past second base for a single. Woohoo!

His team was up 12 to 2 when he got up again. (I told you they rock.) He stood up there, took one strike, then on the second pitch, he got smacked in the head so hard that his helmet flew off. I thought my heart stopped. He calmly picked up his helmet, tossed his bat toward the dugout, then trotted to first base. His coach asked him if he was all right. I could see that he wanted to cry, but he is trying desperately to fit into this team of big kids who have all played together for 3-4 years now. He manned-up and stood his ground.

The pitcher threw a wild pitch to the next batter and Mike stole second. They tried to pick him off, but the second baseman missed the throw. Mike stole third. They tried to pick him off there, but over-threw a little and the coach sent him in. He ran faster than I've ever seen him run, slid his little butt into home and was SAFE!

It took everything in me not to run over and smother him with motherly concern and affection, but I didn't want to undo all of his hard work. I glued my butt to the seat.

I don't think I've ever been more proud of him, and it had very little to do with baseball skills. My son took one for the team, showed courage while in pain, then got the job done when he needed to.

He'll probably never play for the Red Sox, or even the high school for that matter, but he is learning some really important lessons.

That's why I love baseball.

And, there's still always Doug. :-)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


I've been really excited for Spring Break.

Not because we're going anywhere cool-- we're not. Not because we're sleeping in-- not doing that either. I'm excited because I rented a dumpster and Spring Break is going to be Spring Purge at the Garrett house. And yard.

Most people move at least a couple of times in the first 15 years of marriage. I have one sister who has had 7 addresses in their 14 years of marriage. Not us. We've lived in the same house for almost 13 years.

Our house is 4,000 square feet. It seemed like a mansion when just the two of us were living here. It is still pretty big for just a family of 5. However, all of that extra storage room coupled with never having to move has left us with a lot of crap.

Hence, the dumpster. (Thanks, Uncle Jeff!)

I've been tossing stuff for three days and it feels great-- kind of like when you eat something bad and you puke it up. You're really tired after, but you feel much better, you know?

So yesterday, I de-junked the boys room, cleaned out the very scary shed, dismantled and tossed the rusted swingset, then got to work digging out the old basketball standard to make way for the new one that the boys got for Christmas.

That little project took 45 minutes of digging, an hour of breaking cement with a 10 pound sledge hammer, and another 30 minutes of cursing while I tried to tip it out. The swear words finally did the job, and I got the dumb thing tipped over.

Just in time to realize that it was way too heavy to pull out of the hole.

I called my dad and Layne and asked for help. However, help was already on the way.

An hour or so later, a couple of darker skinned guys show up in a green truck with a trailer. (I am declining to state their race, as I wouldn't want to post any racial slurs on my blog :-) They asked if they could go through my dumpster to get all of the metal out to recycle it. I said sure.

They took about half of the stuff in the dumpster before I got a bright idea. I told them if they could get the big metal post out, they could have it too. You'd think I offered them $100. (Maybe I did-- don't know how much you get for stuff like that.) They worked and struggled for 30 minutes or so and the job was done.

They were happy, I was happy and Layne and my dad were REALLY happy.

Today, I have a crew here filling up the rest of my dumpster with branches, weeds, leaves and other crap from my yard. (This was my splurge from our fortuitous tax refund.) My yard is looking great, my house is junk-free, and I am one seriously happy camper.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Sorry, Anonymous

For the first time in my illustrious blogging career, I have removed a post. The post which I wrote earlier today, entitled "Gym Rats" no longer exists.

The post was a silly commentary about the funny people I have seen at the gym over the last 6 months. I changed small details so that no one could trace my observations to any specific person. It was sarcasm and made to poke fun at a place that is really an ecosystem all its own.

However, my jabs offended someone. I say someone because the offended party refused to make a comment under their own name. She (or he, but not likely) posted as "Anonymous." He/She wrote "Detailed judgement of others coupled with name calling and racial slurs is not being a very good example to those around you."

I have a couple of things to say to my friend Anonymous.

First of all, I am sorry. I am by nature a people watcher. I am fascinated by the dichotomic and sometimes ironic actions of humanity. One of the beauties of writing my blog is that it is just that-- MY blog. It gives me a chance to "call 'em as I see 'em". It lets me be creative and silly and sometimes a little irreverent. However, that doesn't mean that I should be rude. I made up a funny name for someone and I characterized someone as Latino (quite honestly, that was nicer than what I was going to put originally), but apparently that is a "racial slur." For those things, I am sorry. For these errors in judgement, I took the post down.

However, in my "calling 'em as I see 'em" way, may I be so bold as to point out the irony in Anonymous JUDGING me as judgmental?? And may I also point out that at least I have the guts to state my opinions as myself? I own up to my criticism-- can you say the same?

A couple of years ago, I was sent a letter also signed "Anonymous" which rocked my world. It criticized me for trying the very best I could in fulfilling my church responsibilities. While that letter crushed me on a personal level, it did something even worse. By not signing that letter, Anonymous de facto assigned blame to everyone I met. For months, every time I ran into someone in my ward, I had to wonder, was it you?

Eventually, I made peace with the situation and genuinely forgave whoever wrote it. I only bring it up now to make a point. If you have criticism that you feel is a)worth saying and b) genuinely your responsibility to offer, OWN IT. Very few situations meet both of those criteria.

By offering your unclaimed criticism, you assign a little of the blame to everyone. You are like the kid who throws something at the teacher when her back is turned so the whole class gets punished.

Yep, you are THAT kid.

The fact is, there aren't that many people who read my blog. I could spend a few minutes and trace back the origins of Anonymous, but I won't. After I push the publish button for this post, I won't spend one more second thinking about what some self-righteous, pretentious hypocrite had to say. Quite honestly, if I could figure out how to do it, I'd re-publish the post and be proud of it.

If you don't like what I have to say in my blog, DON'T READ IT. It's as simple as that. Maybe I'm not always a great example-- I never said I was. As Charles Barkley once said, "I am not your role model." However, I am honest and I own what I say. If you can't own what you say, you are no longer welcome to comment on my blog.

I can take criticism-- I will even change my ways if it is legitimate. But ONLY if I respect the person that it comes from.

P.S. Anonymous, that's not you.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Goody Two-Shoes!

In spite of the fact that nothing with Emalee's broken foot has gone right, for once, things went as expected and she was able to come out of the air cast and put on two shoes for the first time since January. Talk about a happy little girl. And a happy mom, because she is back to normal just in time for my Spring-Break-Clean-The-House-Extravaganza. She's so lucky. I've been thinking about her broken foot issues and thinking about the good and bad associated with this trial. I don't think that she sees much good in it yet-- but as her mother, I can see that this experience has helped her to grow in a lot of ways. She has learned patience through situations she can't change. She has learned that people love and care about her and that Heavenly Father always sends someone to answer her prayers. She has learned that sometimes there is nothing you can do about a situation-- the only thing you can control is your own attitude. She has learned to be grateful for health and strength. It makes me think about my own trials in my life and wondering if Heavenly Father looks down at me and makes a list of the things I have learned. Sometimes I wish that He could just send me an email and let me know what it is that I am supposed to be taking from each experience. Wouldn't it make it a little easier if you knew that you were supposed to be working on gratitude through a certain trial? What I do know is that my daughter is finally standing on her own two feet-- quite literally-- and we are all very grateful that this trial appears to be over. Onto the next one... :-)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

School Lunch

Doug has been asking me for months to come to the school and eat lunch with him. I've been with Em before-- I brought her Arby's on her birthday once. I was the hero.

With good reason.

Anyone remember school lunch? Today was a choice of hamburger or turkey and mashed potatoes. I remember the mashed potatoes very well. (Remember the days of mashed potatoes and hamburger gravy? Don't think they serve that any more.)

I chose the hamburger.

It was still tasteless and cold. The peas were army green. Now, though, kids get to chose fruits, veggies and other sides. They get to put on their own pickles and ketchup. Lucky stinkers.

When we were young, everything got slapped on our green plastic lunch trays-- whether you wanted it or not. I don't remember "fresh" being an adjective for anything served on that tray either.

Now, my kids get 5 Buck pizza and a cookie every Monday. We had hamburger pizza with the weirdest tasting tomato sauce I've ever had. They get orange chicken-- we had fish sticks. Unfortunately for them, however, the schools no longer serve peanut butter bars. Those were actually good.

The funny thing today was that Doug had asked me to pack a lunch. He had a piece of left-over pizza from last night, some crackers, a cut-up apple and a mini-Twix. I tried to trade him his Capri-sun for my milk-in-a-carton. No dice. I tried to swap him my jello cup for his Twix. Yeah right. My kid's no dummy.

I don't remember anyone ever having their parents eat lunch with them at school unless they had started a food fight or something and they had to have parental supervision. It was a mark of shame. Now, I guess, it's cool to have Mom and/or Dad come for lunch. Either that, or Doug started a food fight and this was his tricky way of having parental supervision there. Hmmm. Have to ask his teacher about that one.

Would have been cooler if I would have been like the Mom and the next table and brought McDonald's.

I'm pretty sure that Mike will want us to come eat with him now. I'll know better next time.

I'm bringing Subway.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

G.P.A. 2.21

Report cards came out today. My little brainiacs did very well. Nothing less than an A- and even then, only 2 of those among the three kids.

They get it from their dad.

Got me thinking though, what if someone gave me a report card? I'm the only one who can do that at this point, I guess, so here it goes.

Cooking: B Don't do it enough

Cleaning: A- I scrub it every week, but by the weekend, it looks like a zoo.

Laundry: C What the heck is an iron? Do I have one of those? I do wash and fold, though.

Compassion for my kids: B I've been trying, but it seems like I'm always telling them to "suck it up." Stubbed your toe? Suck it up. Papercut? Suck it up. Broke your foot and have to have a metal plate screwed into it? You got it. Suck it up.

Budgeting: C Is there money in my account? Yep. I can go shopping.

Chauffering: D Hit one car with the other one this year. Double whammy. I'd get an F, but I didn't get a speeding ticket this year, so we're making progress.

Yardwork: F The only bad thing about summer. I asked Layne if with my part of the tax refund (the first time we've had a refund in 8 years!) I could hire a yard service for the year. He laughed. Does that mean no or "of course, dear?"

Time Management: B Getting better at that one, but it's not my fault that things keep getting busier! I can manage the heck out of my day, but if all of the things I have to do add up to 25 hours in a day, I still have a problem...

Crap. If I'm figuring right, my g.p.a. is a dismal 2.21. And, I'm probably going to have to make up yardwork. No credit for flunking...
What happened to my high school 4.0?

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Crap. Quite Literally.

We live in a nearly 40 year old house. We've lived there for almost 13 years and it seems like we've pretty well rebuilt the thing by now. We have installed a new furnace, air conditioner and water heater, fenced the yard and ran an entirely new sprinkling system, and remodeled the family room, kitchen, 2 bedrooms, the master bedroom and two bathrooms.

The one thing we have never had to deal with is the septic tank.

Until last night.

Layne thought one of the kids had flushed socks down the toilet. Again. (Don't ask.) I reminded him that our kids are old enough to know better. He reminded me that they are still morons sometimes.

It's unfortunately true.

However, when the 24 hour Rotor Rooter guy came out at 10:00 last night, he told us that our problem is not with empty brained kids-- it was with a full septic tank.

(Insert your favorite "full of crap" joke here.)

I am absolutely disgusted by this concept. As far as this topic is concerned, I want to flush the toilet, run the washing machine or turn on the food disposal and NEVER know what happens to the matter that is disappearing. I would love to stay ignorant to this topic.

Alas, that is not my fate today.

There are people in the world whose job it is to take care of other peoples' crap. They gave me a bill for $3000 today. I gasped, but I still don't think that it is enough.

Got me thinking though, about the metaphor in this story. What other kinds of crap back up in our lives? How many emotions and "issues" do we flush down our internal toilet-- never wanting to know where they are going, until one day, our proverbial septic tanks back up on us and we blow.

There is something to be said for a "sewer system" which constantly takes our "crap" far away from us-- 'relieving' us from the danger of it building up under the tree in the front yard. However, when the sewer backs up, you don't just have your own crap to deal with-- you've got everyone elses too.

I've been hiding out at the office all day. Not because I have things to do here (obviously, I'm blogging from my desk), but because if I go home, I will have to face the sad truth that there are not magic fairies who just come and take away all of the bad stuff in my house.

That stinks.


Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Yes, It's Me.

I've had many people call, come up and talk to me, email me and facebook me asking if the article in the Ensign this month is mine.


It is entitled "His Grace Is Sufficient". You can read it here.

I wrote it almost two years ago. I had an experience one morning and I felt like it was something that other people might benefit from. The problem was that it was a very personal experience and I didn't really want to share it with the whole (LDS) world.

However, there are times as a writer when I feel like the words coming out of me are being Divinely directed-- there is no writer's block, no lack of inspiration. It is at those times that I know that the Lord is asking me to share something, and this was one of those times.

I sent it to the Ensign-- to the same editor that I worked with before for my other article. They immediately accepted it for publication-- which never happens. And then I waited for a year and a half for it to be printed.

I have worried about it coming out because it exposes some very personal challenges-- things I don't really like to talk about. Quite honestly, it's been about as embarrassing as I expected. I even had one well-intentioned (?) sister ask me, "What made you do that?" So, here I am, answering her question.

I did it because the Spirit told me to.

It was hard and uncomfortable, but sometimes using the talents we are given means that we squirm a little. It's okay. It makes us strong. It makes us humble. And it makes us valuable to God. Isn't that worth a little embarrassment?

I'll keep telling myself that...