October, 2012

October, 2012
October 2012

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

So I Am Supposed To Be Thankful?

Yesterday was not a great day.  I was beginning to wonder if the warm fuzzies of Thanksgiving passed me by this year. I hate days like that.  I wake up with a smile on my face ready to face the day and within five minutes I want nothing more than to crawl back in the bed.  Here is how it went....

--I was out of coffee and had to walk all the way downstairs to get a new container from the deep freezer.  Normally this isn't a big deal, but I just wasn't awake yet.

--I stood outside with the puppy in the rain only to have him go to the bathroom in the house about five minutes after we came inside.  Another day of keeping the steam cleaner on hand.  Did I really say yes to a puppy?  

--The first words out of Anna's mouth when I woke her up were "My stomach hurts".  

--It took 3 times to wake Brooke up.  This is not unusual, but some days, more irritating than others.  This particular day I was wishing I had a bull horn.  Or maybe a bucket of ice water......
--Benjamin decided to come to breakfast naked.  Nobody wants to see that first thing in the morning even on a good day.  

--Finally got them out the door and safely on the bus only to turn around and see that the puppy has gone to the bathroom again.  Seriously?  I need a bus to come by and pick up the puppy too.  

--After I cleaned that mess up I started doing my usual walking through the house and picking up after my family.  I found myself thinking a variety of not so nice thoughts.... "Do THESE PEOPLE not have any respect?  Cereal bowls and milk still on the table.  Socks (including Jason's) and pajamas in various locations throughout the house.  Am I asking that much that they clean up after themselves?  Do they even notice how hard I work for them?" 

--Around 11 I headed to Kroger thinking by going on Monday I would beat the Thanksgiving crowds.  Wrong.  The parking lot was packed so I turned around and headed to Zaxby's.  I was going to need more strength than I thought to tackle Kroger. I ate lunch in the Kroger parking lot and noticed people had a weary looks on their faces as they loaded groceries into their cars. Maybe we didn't need groceries after all.  

--In I go. Coupons organized, list ready....even had my pen behind my ear.  It was probably a bad sign when I just about got run over as I was picking out apples.  Then the same lady showed up again when I was picking out onions. Again, I must have been invisible because she almost ran over me.  Not like there was a shortage of onions.  It was beginning to feel like a Walmart black Friday sale in the produce section.  I resisted my usual urge to say something. 
--Wish I could say it got better after that, but I can't.  They were out of Parkay, eggs, half and half and buttermilk.  Guess I will also be going to Food Lion.  Great.

--Returned home with enough time to unload groceries, take the dogs out and check in with the girl who takes care of Mom on Mondays before heading out to an appointment with Ben's pediatrician.  

--Today was the day Ben would be starting medication for ADHD.  Not really where I imagined I would be with Ben.  There is a lot more to this....but let's just say it makes my heart hurt.  

So, that was most of my day.  So much for a spirit of thankfulness. Maybe I can skip Thanksgiving.  

Well....maybe not.

The REAL truth is I have nothing to complain about and everything to be thankful for.  I am so endlessly lucky.

--I didn't mind going down to get the coffee....I am thankful we were able to buy the new deep freezer this year.

--The puppy....well he is so darn cute I can't really get mad at him.  Besides, that's why we have a steam cleaner in the first place.  Life is full of little messes.  

--Anna felt better after she had been up a few minutes and went on to school.  No crisis there, and I was thankful she felt better.  I sent a note for her teacher just in case!

--Waking Brooke up....I wouldn't really use ice water.  Besides, it used to take 4 times to get her up!

--The lady in Kroger.  The truth is I smiled at her and commented on how busy the store was today.  Wasn't until the onions that we realized we knew each other.  We talked for a couple of minutes about her grandchildren and how my parents were getting along.  It was good to see her!

--Ben and the ADHD diagnosis is a big hurdle for me, but he has a terrific doctor who answered all of my crazy questions and reassured me that Ben would be o.k.  It is a team effort and if this helps him learn then it is a good thing.  He made me feel better. It is also good to feel like we may finally have answers.   
--Last but not least.  My family.  Yes, they leave their stuff everywhere and it is quite possible they believe a fairy comes along and picks it all up because they certainly don't seem to notice me doing it.  But what if I didn't have them to pick up after?  The world would be an awfully lonely place without them.  They don't just raise my blood pressure.....they cause my heart to keep beating in the first place.   

So it isn't that I have to be thankful because it is Thanksgiving but instead a belief that the feelings of Thanksgiving can happen every day we are on this earth.  Some days we just have to look harder for them than others.  

Happy Thanksgiving!  

You Raise Me Up

Friday, July 15, 2011

Just Write D-U-M-B Across My Forehead

Today was a day that Ashley and I had planned for and coordinated for a couple of weeks. Well....ok....I had been doing most of the planning because I am a Type A and Ashley had been letting me because she is definitely not a Type A.  At any rate, Ashley moved into her first "all by herself" apartment today and I of course was there to help her.  We had already had a huge shopping trip to buy a lot of what she would need like a vacuum cleaner, new kitchen utensils and small appliances. Everything was in place....cable guy coming between 10-2, KU turned on today, and my neighbor's sons made the trip to Lexington to help with the "labor".  I even planned for my usual stop at Starbucks on the way.  

So we managed to get the first load unloaded quickly and Ashley, Will, and Mike headed across town to load up the rest of Ashley's stuff.  Ben and I stayed behind to unpack her kitchen and do some cleaning.  I was determined to have the kitchen in shape before they got back.  With Ben's help, I actually accomplished this rather quickly.  

While I was waiting, I thought I would start on the bedroom.  First on the list was to unpack a new lamp.  Here is where the trouble started.  You know, why do they put those darn unbreakable zip ties around the cords?  Frustrated, I decided to use a paring knife since Ashley did not have scissors.  Better yet, it was a brand new, just out of the box, paring knife. D-U-M-B.  D-U-M-B.  D-U-M-B.  When an paring knife slices through you index finger at the joint....it causes a lot of damage.  Mind you, I didn't feel it slice through my finger, but I had no problem seeing the blood spurt out of my finger.  

I dunked my hand in the dish water and told Ben I had a problem. 

"Wow Mom! Is that blood?"   

"Yes Ben.  See if you can find me a band-aid."  

"Where am I supposed to find a band-aid?" (smart boy...everything is in boxes)  "Gosh that is a lot of blood Mom."

"Ben, I think I have a problem.  I am going to need help."

Ben got kind of quiet.  I tried at that point to form the words to explain to him how to unlock my cell and call 911.  The words weren't coming.  I realized it wasn't going to be long before I passed out.  All I could think about though, was what would Ben do.  What if he tried to go find help and got lost?  Or worse, someone took him.  I had heard a terrible story about a little boy in New York this week who got lost then abducted and then found murdered. Geez, how do I create these messes?  

I made it to the wall across from the front door, propped it open with my foot, and sent Ben to the apartment right across from Ashley's.  I could see their door and I am sure it was quite a site when they opened it and saw Ben's little face then looked across at me.  They called 911 and stayed with me until they arrived.  By now I was laying down on the floor and Ben was sitting right next to me.  

They arrived and determined that I would need stitches and then gave me the choice of riding with them to the hospital or going to Urgent Treatment within the hour.  They were very nice.  I kept apologizing for calling them, and explained that I was worried what would happen to Ben more than myself.  They said I had made the right choice, but I still felt bad for causing the trouble.  One of the guys called Ashley for me so that she wouldn't be alarmed when she pulled in and there was a fire truck and ambulance in front of her apartment.  

In the end, I only needed  3 stitches, not the 5 or 6 originally thought.  Ben thinks they are cool. We also were able to get Ashley's apartment 90% unpacked before I headed back to Danville to pick up the girls.  Ashley now has something to really tease me about and Ben has an interesting story.  

I realized though, that I had been waiting for Ben to be "old enough" for me to explain what to do in an emergency.  That was a mistake and it is a mistake that alarms me.  The very thing I was fearing in the moment could have been a non issue if I had already taught him to use my phone and dial 911.  He knows now.  

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Heartbreak and Hope

Sometimes the unexpected happens.

A few weeks ago my Dad told me he had given my phone number to one of mom's former students.  He couldn't quite remember her name but he knew she had visited them, sent them cards at Christmas, and called them several times over the years. Odd, I thought that she would want to talk to me, but ok.  He said he thought she probably wanted to ask how mom was doing. 

Within a few days I discovered a message from a lady named Fern.  She explained in the message that she really wanted me to contact her and that it was really important.  She left her number.  

Honestly, something seemed strange so I put off calling her for over a week.  Then I decided I was acting childish and went ahead and returned her call.  What happened next was unexpected and heartbreaking and I know it will stay with me for a long time to come.  

The conversation started quite normally even though I could sense a nervousness in Fern's voice.  She asked about Mom's health and how long they had been living with me.  She talked about how she had visited my parents and kept up with them over the years.  Then, she asked about my brother. She called him by name and said she remembered that they had adopted him when they lived in Russell Springs.  I thought....oh no....what has he done now.  He is a destructive force, but one of Mom's former students?  I braced myself and about the time I started to say "What has he done now" out loud, the conversation totally changed gears.  Fern said she had better tell me why she had called.  She wanted to tell me her story.

Fern was the youngest of nine children and they grew up in Russell Springs, Kentucky.  They were dirt poor, but her parents had done the best they could to take care of them.  Her mother and father had both passed away young, so really Fern had taken care of herself.  When she was fourteen she was raped by a family member and as a result became pregnant.  This had happened in the spring of 1961 and she went on to explain that back then there weren't a lot of options for poor unwed mothers and so she kept the pregnancy to herself for as long as she could.  That fall she began her freshman year at Russell Springs High School.  This is where my mother came into the picture.  Somehow my mother realized Fern was pregnant.  Fern says from then on my Mom saved her.  Mom encouraged her to stay in school and helped her realize she could give the child up for adoption.  Mom introduced her to the social worker who ended up handling the adoption.  Her baby, a boy, was born in December of 1961.  I suddenly felt pain for this woman because I knew where the conversation was going next. 

Fern explained that she had kept up with my parents and my brother over the years because she felt that Eric was her son.  Now that she was getting on in years and my mother couldn't remember her anymore she wanted to talk to me about Eric.  She thought Eric was her son. 

I had a moment where I realized I could let Fern keep on thinking that Eric was her son to save her the heartache.  I also realized just as quickly how wrong that would be...even if the truth was painful.   

I stopped her story and gently explained that Eric was not hers.  He had been born in April of 1962 in Ashland, Kentucky.  I also explained to her that I had found Eric's mother several years ago and that she lives in Georgia.  Suddenly it was very quiet on the other end of the phone.  I didn't say anything.  I just waited.  

Finally she explained that the reason she had thought that Eric was hers all of these years was because after the social worker would see her at the school, she would often go to Mom's classroom to see Mom. She didn't know why at the time the social worker was visiting with my parents, but after the announcement of my brother's adoption came out, she had made the connection to her baby because of the social worker.  It had never crossed her mind that it could be mere coincidence.

My heart broke for Fern.  Can you imagine?  All these years.  I understood her story more than most would.  I also knew from conversations with my birth mother, how painful the not knowing where I was or if I was safe had been for her over the years.  Fern had spent the last 49 years following from a distance the life of a child she thought was hers.  She had taken comfort in knowing he had a good home and more secure about her choice because of that.  

I felt I had taken the wind out of her sails, but we talked for a bit longer.  In the course of that conversation I told her about my own search for my birth mother and my search for Eric's birth mother. I told her if she wanted she could send me copies of all the information she had and I would see what I could do. I explained not to put a whole lot of hope in my efforts and that while finding Eric's had been quick, my search had taken 17 years. 

I wasn't sure I would hear from her again, but a couple of days ago I got a rather large envelope in the mail from her.  Inside were copies of everything she had about her son, whose name had been Leroy, including the letter she had written to him that was added to her state record many years ago in case he ever searched for her.  There was also a very sweet note thanking me for the conversation even though it was difficult and for offering to help her. 

I am not sure what I have gotten myself into or if I will have any luck at all.  What I do know though, is that if there is the slightest chance I can help mend a stranger's broken heart, I have to try.  

We go through what we go through to help others go through what we went through.
--- Unknown


Thursday, May 19, 2011

This and That

A few days ago I discovered that someone in my household downloaded a book to my Nook.  This irritates me because there are very few...well maybe not any places in my house, that little hands don't find their way into.  Of course leave it Jason to point out the obvious- I gave them my password.  Ok, so it is my fault, but I was still irritated and was about to go wake the angels from their peaceful sleep to preach to them about respecting my stuff when I read the title of the book. "100 Quotes to Make You Think" by Wolfgang Riebe.  Hum....these kids may know me better than I think!  I guess I won't fuss at them after all. 

Since I seem to have no theme to my blog, really just whatever randomness has popped into my head, I thought I would share some of my favorite quotes from this book.  

-Sometimes I think the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us.

-Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes.  That way when you criticize them, you are a mile away from them and you have their shoes.  

-It may be that your sole purpose in life is simply to serve as a warning to others.  

-If you think you are too small to be effective, you have never been in the dark with a mosquito!

-A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort!

-It's not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are. 

-When your dreams turn to dust, vacuum.  (THIS IS ONE OF MY FAVORITE)

-I have learned that everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you're climbing it. 

-Take twice as long to eat half as much.

-Forgiveness is me giving up my right to hurt you for hurting me. 

-Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.

Friday, May 6, 2011

When you know you know.....you know......understand?

This has been one of those weeks when I can't seem to get through a day without doing or saying something idiotic.  A week when my mouth has often been ahead of my brain.  All week I had been wondering what was wrong....hormonal imbalance, wrong phase of the moon.  I needed an excuse for my stupidity.  

Thursday, I had almost made it through the entire day without making a fool of myself.  Almost.  In fact I got a lot accomplished early in the day because I knew my afternoon would be full taking the girls for camp and 6th grade physicals.  The visit started out as nothing unusual...sign in, make sure nothing has changed with insurance then have a seat in the waiting room.  We didn't even have to wait but a minute or two which was a relief.   Then it all went downhill.

I knew already that since Brooke was there for her 6th grade physical she would be needing shots.  Anna was going to have a 4-H camp physical and she would not need shots.  The first thing the nurse said to me was that since they didn't have Brooke's shot records there at the office, they wouldn't be able to fill out her immunization record today.  WHAT?  Maybe I heard her incorrectly. She said that the first time they had been to that office was in 2008.  I said that couldn't be accurate.  She said they had looked for the records and there weren't any before that time and there wasn't an immunization certificate for either girl. She even said to me that they don't keep hard copies of doctor visit records.  That they only keep important things like shot records.  I suddenly felt quite unnerved.  These are my children's medical histories that have traveled with them through the years.  I depend on knowing where those records are in case they are ever needed and suddenly I didn't know where they were. What did she mean "they don't keep them"? 

When you know you know something is true and someone is telling you it isn't, it is a frustrating feeling.  To make it worse they were truly acting like I was crazy.  I wasn't rude at all, but I was insistent that the records were there.  They did find records for Ben and Ashley going back to early 2006.  Yet, when I said that Brooke and Anna's records were there also because it wouldn't make sense that I would bring my oldest and youngest child, but not the 2 in the middle, they gave me a look like they truly pitied my stupidity. 

They said they would go downstairs and look one more time.  They didn't find the records, but they did bring up Ben's immunization record so they could show me that he had his first shots in Richmond (we lived in Richmond until October of 2005) and maybe that is where the missing records were.  At this point I just gave up and said maybe they were right.  I apologized that I couldn't remember things correctly and for asking them to look again for the records. Perfect.  Another day this week when I am feeling like a fool.  I spend a lot of time around someone with dementia...starting to know how she feels.  

I went home and tried to put it out of my head but I couldn't.  Then it dawned on me that the best place to figure this out was the billing department of the doctor's office.  Billing departments never lose any paperwork.  

So this morning I gave them a call and explained the situation as succinctly as possible.  Took less than a minute for her to tell me that the first time Brooke had been seen in their office was January 2006.  In fact all of my kids were seen there in 2006.  Thank you....I am not crazy after all.  She also said she would have them check again for their records and call me back if she found them. Would you believe when she called me back she said the records were right where they should have been for both girls.  They weren't even out of alphabetical order.  Oh, and in that folder of records.....IMMUNIZATION CERTIFICATES and the form I had filled out in 2006 requesting records from Richmond be sent to Danville.  I have decided there must be two basements and the nurse from Thursday night had gone to the wrong one. 

When you know you know something......you know it....period. Oh, and finding out today that I didn't make a fool out of myself after all helped me make it through the rest of my Friday craziness free. 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Interesting Friday

This past Friday I went to Lexington to go apartment hunting with Ashley.  She is going to be getting her first "big girl" (as she called it) apartment in May.  This will be the first time she lives without roommates and she is excited about it.  I must say, that I am excited about this too because the place she lives in now leaves a lot to be desired, at least from a mother's point of view.  I will be glad when she is out of there! 

On the way to Lexington I kept getting a call from a Michigan number. I don't know anyone with a Michigan number so I decided not to answer it.  Whoever it was kept calling over and over until I finally gave in and answered.  It was Ashley calling on a friend's phone.  Instinctively I knew we had some sort of problem if she wasn't calling on her phone.  I was right.  Her purse had been stolen the night before.  That meant her bank card, phone, and house keys were gone.  Apparently she was at Redmonds the night before with some friends and turned her back on her purse for just a minute. 

So, after we went to look at apartments, we headed to the Sprint store.  Here is where my story gets interesting.  I was about to have an experience that left me wondering if I should feel really old or....well, I wasn't  sure what to feel.

As we were sitting there waiting for our customer service lady to set up Ashley's new phone, another customer service guy walked over.  I would guess he was about 25 and relatively nice looking.  He looked at me and he said, "I don't want you to take what I am about to say the wrong way...(I felt a little panic.  Had I done something embarrassing I wasn't aware of?) but you have the most beautiful blue eyes."  Huh?  I just kind of looked at him.  I had never been told this before.  Then his purpose flashed across my brain.  I said, "Thanks, but Ashley here is the one with the beautiful eyes."  He said, "Well, I do see the similarity."  Then he talked to her for a bit.  

Did that just happen? That was the smoothest "man move" I have ever seen.  He used the mother to get to the daughter.  Ashley didn't even pick up on it until I explained it to her later.  So I left the Sprint store not really knowing how I should feel.  Proud on one hand that this guy obviously thought Ashley was a beautiful girl with startling blue eyes.....on the other hand, strangely sad that the 25 year old guy probably didn't think these 42 year old eyes were that great after all.  Ashley's response to the whole thing...."Geez Mom, he was completely bald."  


Saturday, April 16, 2011

It's The Little Things

 This picture was taken on our trip to Chicago.  We had walked about 3 miles and Ben
was getting tired so Ashley told him to hop on.  To me it was a special "little moment".

Fancy Pants Designs, my favorite scrapbooking company, recently put out a line of products called "It's The Little Things".  I usually want every product the company puts out, but I practice some, not a lot, but some self control.  This time I knew I had to have the entire collection.  I loved the retro colors in the papers and embellishments and the qoutes and sayings were great too.  What really drew me to the collection though was the name itself....little things. 

I have always been aware of small moments of importance and how something so seemingly small to one, can be extremely meaningful to another.  I have scrapbooked for years and any scrapbooker will tell you that the whole point is to freeze little moments in a creative way.  Scrapbookers spend hours attending to small details.  Yet in the midst of capturing all of these little moments, I discovered I had been missing the big picture.  

This time last year, I was in the first true depression I had ever been in.  I had never been like this before. In fact, I never could understand how people got so depressed in the first place.  Stuff happens and you pick yourself up, brush it off and go on.  I was too strong for that....so I thought.  I thought I had been preparing myself for my job loss months in advance. We had been told early on that there would be losses and I knew I would be one of them.  So I made jokes about it and talked about it.  I really thought that the more I got it out of me, the easier it would be.  I was wrong.  I hit the bottom so fast I don't even fully remember the trip down.  Oh, I functioned enough to go to work every day but I was a zombie at home.  My family would be talking, but I didn't hear a thing.  I would cry without warning and be unable to stop.  I started to wonder how I could get out of this life because I didn't want to be here anymore.  I couldn't get it off my mind.  I was miserable and I don't doubt that I made everyone else around me miserable too. All I could see was that a dream was gone and I was too tired to chase another one.  

This went on for weeks, then one night, one of those nights when I couldn't stop crying, my husband did something I will never forget.  He laid down beside me and put his arms around me.  He didn't say a word, he just held me.  He doesn't know this, but it was those moments that saved me.  Someone was there for me.  Of course I had been so self absorbed that I had missed the fact that he, and others, had been there all along.  Jason probably thought this was just a "little thing" he was doing, but it was huge.  

I began to slowly change my thoughts and it wasn't easy.  I started to make myself notice the little things and tell myself how thankful I was for them.  I had a ritual of sorts.  Each morning when I opened my eyes I would say to myself how glad I was to have such a warm quilt on my bed.  Or maybe I would tell myself how glad I was to have such a great toothbrush.  It didn't matter how mundane or silly it all sounded, I just started being thankful for every little thing around me.  It worked.

By about the second week in June, I knew without a doubt that I was going to be ok.  I wasn't going anywhere if I could help it.  I knew I still had a ways to go because there was anger and pain yet to work through, but I knew I could do it now.  Life was suddenly more worth living that it had been in a long time.A year later I am still not quite sure where life is taking me, but I know I want to be here for the journey.

This past Friday I ran into a girl who had done some of her practicum work at the school where I taught.  She had since graduated and gotten a teaching job.  A few weeks ago she had been pink slipped.  She and I talked for quite a while and she said how glad she was to have run into me.  She said no one understands what this is like unless they have been there.  I told her she was absolutely right, it feels like a dream was crushed.  Then I told her my "little things" story.  I told her the next few weeks were going to be tough. When she is sitting in those faculty meetings as they plan for next year or looking at her son wondering how she is going to put food on the table just start looking around for little things to be thankful for.  I said she may not see them at first, but they are there and they will save her and give her more reasons than she realizes to move forward.  

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A gardener? Who? Me?

If you would have told me as recently as 3 years ago that I would be a gardener, I would have said you were crazy.  Just the mere thought of toiling over dirt for the "possibility" of a few tomatoes and ears of corn would make my head hurt.  This reaction is not without foundation.  I grew up in a family of gardeners.  My father has a degree in agriculture from UK and my mother was a home economics teacher back in the day when they still taught students to cook and preserve foods.  In addition, they grew up in a time when you grew your own food or you didn't eat! So growing up, gardening and canning foods took up a lot of the summer.  I spent more hours than I care to remember in the hot sun picking strawberries and grapes or hoeing weeds and picking potato bugs.  Then there was the stringing and breaking of beans, shelling peas, and picking those gosh darn silks out of the corn.  I was also a 4-H'er and grew my own vegetables in pots on the back porch that I would then enter in the county fair each year for prize money.  I didn't hate it back then....but I didn't love it. 

1980 with my 4-H projects

Fast forward about 25 years and here I was living in the house and tending to the yard where all of this gardening had taken place.  The garden tools still hung in the same spot in the garage and I knew without having to look too deeply what garden chemicals and fertilizers occupied Dad's garage shelves.  Not only that, my parents left at the end of July that year and there were still tomatoes and corn growing in the garden.  Suddenly I was expected to take care of the garden and deliver the vegetables to my dad at the assisted living home.  I agreed to do the best I could not to let the tomatoes die, but didn't make a lot of promises about supplying them with a winter's supply of corn on the cob.  I had no clue how to freeze corn.....I had been a silk remover, but tried to stay away from the kitchen when the freezing and canning was going on.  I did the best I could and delivered Dad several rounds of tomatoes.....but for the most part, I told the neighbors to take what they wanted.  

The following January, Dad started asking me if I was going to grow anything in that garden.  I sort of fumbled with my words, trying to quickly think of reasons why I couldn't.  Then Dad, in only a way a dad can do, said "Boy I sure would like to have some tomatoes and corn this year." Darn.  It is hard to tell him no.

Seemed like winter passed quickly and before we knew it (I say we, because by now I had gotten Jason involved....I needed manpower) Jason was learning to use a plow without killing himself and I was trying to figure out why there were so many different varieties of corn and tomatoes?  Wasn't a tomato just a tomato?  What the heck is early corn, sweet corn, or heirloom corn?  Doesn't it all look the same?  Of course my best source of information became my dad.  Sometimes there was more information than I was able to absorb, but slowly, it all came together.  

I was now a gardener.  Not only was I growing corn and 2 varieties of tomatoes, but we also had potatoes, green, red, and cayenne peppers, eggplant, zuchini, squash, cucumbers, cantaloupe, watermelon, onions, green beans, crowder peas, marigolds and zinnias.  I was a very proud first time gardener.  Of course as I have learned gardening, is that there are successes and failures.  My tomatoes grew beautifully and so did the cucumbers and potatoes.  The zuchinni and squash were also big producers.  I had fresh cut zinnias on my table everyday for 2 months.  For some reason though, my green beans never even got going and although the corn grew as it was supposed to, I harvested it too early out of fear it was about to be taken over by corn ear worms.  I have bad childhood memories of silking corn and one of those darn worms would come crawling out.  The corn was still better than store bought and we had corn on the cob all the way up to Christmas.  Yes, that means I also learned to freeze it just like mom used to do.  Well, almost like Mom used to do.  I also made pickles and salsa.  I was proud of what I had accomplished, but more than that I knew that I was hooked.  I LOVE GARDENING!!!  Turns out, sitting for hours picking potato bugs off of plants and watching them drown in a jar of gasoline is rather therapeutic. And those corn silks?  Well I passed on that joy to my own children who actually did it with smiles on their faces.

I started planning for this year in December as I imagined a true green thumb would do.  I poured over seed catalogs and planned on how to expand the size of my garden so I could try new things.  The UK gardening guide has become my go to garden book. I read a lot about raised bed gardening, and all about the differences in varieties of vegetables.  My dad, as always, is a good source of information although he still can't wrap his mind around why I need to have raised garden beds.  I am hoping to show him the merits of this method by the end of May when we have fresh spinach, lettuce, radishes, carrots, green peas and turnips. These are vegetables he never had a lot of success with. I have at least doubled the planting ground that my dad was using 2 summers ago in addition to the 3 raised beds that Jason built for me.  I also started 3 varieties of tomatoes and my cucumbers indoors. I watch over these tender seedlings as if they were children.  

I realize that just like last year, there will be successes and failures.  I plan on growing peanuts and popcorn and am not exactly sure if I have all of the information I need to have success.  I am also expanding the space which means I may be dealing with ground that isn't as fertile as it will need to be.  Knowing how to fertilize and when to do so is still something I am learning through trial and error.  Yet, this girl who once got a headache just thinking about garden hoes and dirt couldn't be more excited!!!!

Some of my "babies"--tomatoes and pickling cucumbers--4 weeks old.

Cherry tomatoes, 4 weeks old
Spinach and carrots sprouts outside in one of my raised beds. 
 Outside, a pea sprout.  I planted 50 peas and so far I have 25 sprouts---not too bad...I think?

*Please excuse my sideways pictures.  I rotated them, but for some reason when I uploaded them to the blog, they were still sideways.  I am technologically challenged sometimes. 

Friday, March 25, 2011


Yesterday was one of "those" days.  It started with a phone call from my former sister-in-law.  She was letting me know that my brother was up to no good again.  This was at 6:45 AM.  By 9 I was headed across town with a friend and "bodyguard" in tow to check on the house my brother lives in, but my father owns.  I went without Dad's knowledge to check out damage that I had been told about and to see if my brother had abandoned the house.  I had grabbed the wrong keys, so I was only able to look in windows and go into the garage.  I knew he wasn't there, but it still made me nervous.   I am always in this terrible position of being given information and then having to inform my dad.  It has been this way for years.  When he stole dad's social security number 3 years ago and ran up $17,000 in debt in 3 months, I was the one who had to tell my dad.  When he traded the 3rd car my dad had given him in 2 years for drugs, I had to tell my dad. So, needless to say, I spent most of the morning sick to my stomach and angry at myself that after all these years of dealing with a sociopath, it can still have this kind of effect. So yesterday I had to tell Dad that there are several holes in the walls of the house, the carpet has been destroyed by dogs, and the best one.....Eric ran into an interior wall in the garage with his car and has caused structural damage to the house.  The wall in the living room is now buckled. Great. Good morning Dad, hope you are enjoying your Cheerios. 

We actually haven't heard from my brother in about 7 weeks.  Dad says it was Feb. 1st.  He knows this because he wrote Eric a check for $50 that day and said it would be the last one. He hasn't said a lot about this lack of contact, in fact I think it has been a break for him.  He scares my Dad and he is just starting to open up about those fears.  Not seeing him has been a good thing. There are still daily phone calls to my dad's number--debt collectors looking for Eric, but my dad has fallen into a routine of not answering or hanging up on them.  If I happen to take the calls, my approach is different.  I tell them Eric is a criminal and they need to quit disrupting my 92 year old father's life everyday.  I am not nice about it, but by the time I finish they usually agree to take Dad's number off their calling list.  This works for all callers except the Sprint collection people.  We can't get rid of that call because my brother took the phone out using Dad's social.  As far as they are concerned it is Dad's bill. 

So why am I writing and sharing this now?  Well, I have always talked too much, but more than that I am angry.  I am angry that once again I allowed a day to be lost to his craziness. I am angry that my Dad needs me to help him handle things because he has gotten too old to do it on his own. I am angry that he has hurt so many in his 49 years.  I am angry that he took "normal" away from so many and continues to do so.  It hurts.  It hurts to know the irreparable damage he has done to his children, to 2 wives and their families, my parents, and me.  He has robbed us all of those extended family moments--Christmas, Thanksgiving....all of it.  He has robbed children of normal childhoods.  I hate addicts.  That is a strong word, but it is how I feel.  I think unless you have lived it as we have, that may seem heartless.  I see stories of addiction on TV and sometimes I feel sad for them, but not for long.  We all have choices and some of them are very difficult.  Addicts take the easy way out and then blame everyone else.  In our case, we are dealing with more than just addiction because he is truly a sociopath, but addiction is a big part of the picture.  

So today, we will do what most addict's families do.  We will tell ourselves this is a new day.  We will pretend that everything is normal and take a break from discussing the elephant that is always in the room.  There will be jokes, discussions about gardening, and the daily critique of my evening meal. There is a UK game tonight and we never miss those.  I also have a friend coming to visit that I haven't seen in a while and I am excited about the visit. This is our normal.  For today at least, God will grant us the serenity to accept the things we can't change and change those that we can.  Maybe tomorrow we can discuss how to get one step closer to getting the elephant out of the house. 

Friday, March 4, 2011

Basketball, the Benjamin Way

I was really excited this year when Ben said he wanted to play basketball.  I saw this as a great opportunity for him to learn about the game and how to be part of a team.  I didn't count on just how entertaining watching 5 and 6 year old kids play basketball would be. Or at least how entertaining my son would be. Honestly it is some of the funniest stuff you will ever see.  

First of all, the coaches are literally on the floor running back and forth with the kids.  They really get a workout. They have to run up and down the court with the kids because for the most part the kids don't know what is going on.  There is a lot of yelling "Hands in the air" and "Dribble the ball".  There are a few stand outs who seem to already have a grasp on how the game is supposed to be played, but for the most part this is just kids having fun.  The looks on their faces when they "accidentally" make the basket is priceless, even when the basket made is not on the correct end of the court.  There are also those dumbfounded looks when an opposing player steals the ball out of their hands.  When there is a "fight" over a ball, it is a true wrestling match and most of the team...well at least those paying attention...are involved in the battle. 

Unfortunately for us, Ben is one of those players who starts out paying attention, but then loses it quickly.  Tonight he seemed to forget he was there to play at all since he left the floor twice as his teammates ran the opposite direction.  The first time, I guess nature called and couldn't wait.  He ran off the floor.  The coach didn't seem to notice he only had 4 players on the floor.  By the time Ben came back, I guess he forgot he was supposed to be playing, because he went and sat down on the bench.  I yelled his name until I got his attention and pointed to the game and he ran back onto the floor.  He played with his mind on the game for about the next minute or so.  Then, I looked up and he and the girl he was supposed to be guarding were at the opposite end of the floor than the rest of the players and seemed to be talking smack to each other.  I could tell it was a heated conversation because she had her hands on her hips and her little pigtails were bobbing up and down.  By the time they finished, the team was coming back towards them so they decided to play again.  That was the first half of the game. 

During halftime, Ben took another bathroom break.  This was good, he would be ready to play, I thought.  He sat on the bench for the first part of the second half and I was proud that as he sat there, he seemed to actually be watching the game.  Then it was his turn to play again.  Within about 30 seconds he managed to hit the referee in the face when he tossed him the basketball.  The whole crowd made a sound.  I just shook my head.  The ref recovered quickly and the game resumed.  Ben finally did some decent dribbling and had 2 great efforts at shots.  Then, when I thought he had finally settled into the game, he left his team on the floor for the second time.  He left the floor, walked right over to me, gave me a hug, then went back to playing.  I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.  I mean it is hard to turn down a hug from Ben.  

Finally, the game was over.  I have no idea who won because they don't keep score with this age group.  All in all both teams had played a good and very entertaining game.  

On our way out, I found out that during his second  trip to the bathroom he had decided to check out the girls bathroom, because as we were leaving he told me the girls bathroom had white paint.  I decided not to ask if there were any girls in there at the time.  I was already mentally exhausted. 

His last game of the season is tomorrow morning and I think I will have Jason take him.....I am not sure I can sit through it again and keep my mouth shut.  One thing is for sure though, Ben has enjoyed playing.  He is sad that tomorrow will be his last game and I am a little sad too.  It will never be as simple and carefree as it is at this age.

Monday, February 28, 2011

What was I thinking?

I would consider myself a fairly good parent.  I have been at it for over 21 years, so you would think I had it down pat.  Yet, sometimes I get "ideas".  Mind you, they seem good at the onset, creative solutions even, but it doesn't take me long to realize they aren't very well thought out.  The latest of these ideas came last week.

You see, my kids are driving me crazy.  They can completely destroy a room in about five minutes. Like miniature tornadoes.  I had begun to feel like all I ever do is bark orders about cleaning up messes.  Most of the time it is me who cleans up the messes, but not with a smile on my face.  I believe if they see how frustrated it makes me, they will feel bad and help me out.  WRONG.  I have finally accepted that this will never happen, ever.  They do not care.  In desperation I came up with what I thought was a solution for Brooke and Anna's room.  I would make the room being clean a competition.  Whichever one had the cleanest side of the room when I did a random check would get 50 cents.  Great idea right?  

The thought behind this idea was that they would see how easy it really is to keep their room clean...that it would become a habit after a while and they wouldn't need the reward.  They would magically hang up all of their clothes and stop stuffing everything they didn't want to put away under their beds. They would get a sense of satisfaction from the experience. Plus, competition can be fun and that would be a strong motivator.  The biggest part of this farce though was that I thought I would no longer have to say the words "clean your room" or that this type of competition would be a good thing. 

Basically all I accomplished with this was to create an additional problem. Oh, it went o.k. for the first 2 days.  O.k. for Anna anyway.  You see I forgot that Anna is already neat, so this was a breeze for her.  Brooke on the other hand is scatterbrained and chaotic by nature and there was no way she would ever win. The room was clean, but that problem had been replaced by a new problem.  Brooke was whining and Anna was gloating.  Shouldn't I with all of this parenting experience have predicted this? 

So I have come to a new conclusion about the whole cleaning their room thing.  This is my problem and my problem only.  THEY DON'T CARE!

Here is my new idea...I am going to let the mess go.  I am going to tackle MY problem and let my children be normal children.  It is time to do what I did with Ashley.  When she got to a certain age, I just started closing the door.  If I didn't have to look at the mess, it didn't bother me as much.  My hope is that they will get sick of it and clean it up every once in a while, but I am not holding out a whole lot of hope. 

After all, this is MY problem.  They are not crazy, but it is quite possible I am. I should be glad that my children are comfortable in their own mess and don't mind showing it.  I think that cleaning, even as a child, became a way for me to control something about my world.  I would close myself in my room and empty every drawer and closet shelf and then organize everything and put it neatly back in place.  This would take hours, but it gave me a "high" of sorts even as a child.  When all else failed, I would clean and organize something and suddenly feel better.  I have done this my whole life. My children don't need the same safety net I needed as a child.  They are already feel safe and a clean room is not what has given them that feeling. Brooke and Anna are in the bedroom I grew up in.  A room that truthfully held a lot of dark memories for me.  I have to shift my focus and be thankful that this room has become a place of happy memories.  They laugh, they fight, they share "sister" secrets in that room.  Things are just the way they should be even if there are clothes and toys all over the floor.

I am still taking bets though on just how long I will be able to go without saying "CLEAN YOUR ROOM"! 

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Three Names

Last night I was watching a new show called "Searching For..." on the OWN network.  I love this new network.  Most of the shows appeal to me.  A lot of real life stories, but positive ones.  The show "Searching For...." particularly appeals to me because it is about family members finding lost loved ones, mostly adoptees looking for parents, and birth parents looking for children they had given up to adoption.  Their stories are mine.  

Most people come in to the world and their parents give them a name that they have thought about for months.  Many times it has a family connection as my children do. Not the case in my life.  I have really had 3 names.

Maybe I should start at the beginning.  Laura Anne.  I always liked my name it had a pleasant ring to it.  I knew quite a few people with the name Lori or Laurie, but no one with the name Laura. Originally I was going to be a Rebecca after my aunt, but they quickly settled on Laura.  My parents didn’t have the usual amount of time to come up with a name.  The announcement of a daughter to come came in the form of a phone call from the Kentucky Child Welfare Cabinet.  They had been on a waiting list for a couple of years to adopt a girl to join their adopted son. The call came at the end of February 1969.  

It is really interesting how it works……kind of like giving you a call to let you know that “something” you ordered has finally arrived and you can come and pick it up.  So my parents and my brother loaded up in the car and drove to Frankfort the first part of March to check out the merchandise and decide if it met their specifications.  I was five weeks old and had been in foster care since my birth.  On this day, I was at the office waiting for “inspection”.  Parents go in and “check out” the baby----make sure it is cute enough and passes muster.   I couldn’t lose, I mean who could possibly turn down a cute bald headed baby girl?  My dad told me just a few years ago that he really hadn’t been on board for adopting another child.  He was 51 and really felt that he was too old to take it on.  I could see where he was coming from.  I can't imagine starting with a newborn at that age. He said he thought about his misgivings from the time they got the call until he walked into the room and saw me.  He swears that at five weeks I looked at him and smiled and he knew I would be alright……and more importantly so would he.   My life as Laura Anne had begun.

I had no idea I was adopted.  I always thought I looked like Dad.  He was left handed and so was I. If you have ever heard adoptees tell their story, many will tell you they always felt different and that is true.  There were subtle hints along the way, but I was too young to pick up on those.  I was different than the rest of my family.  I was always more outspoken.  They were very reserved. Unlike most children, I never heard stories about my birth or me as a newborn.  There were no pictures of me early on.  But there were no pictures of my brother either, so I guess that didn’t seem strange to me.  I can remember as a little girl sneaking into my mom's closet and looking for her maternity to clothes to play dress up in.   I did this more than once and never could figure out why there weren’t any.  I never asked her about it though……then she would know I was sneaking around in her closet.  Life went along and I truly never had a clue. 

There are certain memories we all have in life that stand out clear as a bell.  As if we are right back in that moment.  Vivid.  I remember the day I found out I was adopted as one of those moments. I think they are vivid because they are pivotal moments in life.  Moments that change you forever even if you don’t realize their impact just yet.  I was 13. I was sitting in the passenger seat and mom was driving. She often had to be at basketball games at the school where she taught and I usually went with her.  We were coming back from a game and were having a conversation about a boy in our church and I told her that someone had told me he was adopted.   I will never know what came over her at that exact moment.  Maybe she had been waiting to say those words.   Instead of answering my question about the boy, she very quietly said…..”well, you are adopted too.”    Believe it or not, that was that.  She didn’t say another word about it.  I just sat there in silence thinking about what she had said.  Her lack of emotion and matter of fact tone didn’t surprise me.  She was a no nonsense kind of mom and she also had an impeccable ability to completely ignore difficult emotional things.  Now some kids might have burst into tears or expressed any number of emotions, I mean I was a 13 year girl after all.  My first thought though…..oh that’s why she didn’t have any maternity clothes.    Silence the rest of the way home.    A few weeks later, I wrote a poem to my birth mother thanking her for giving me life and letting her know I was ok.  I was proud of this poem and it had allowed me to get a lot out.  I somehow thought mom and dad would like it too.  I was wrong.  My mother was angry….really angry.  I think she missed the part about thanking her for the life I had.   I never spoke with my mother about my adoption again.  
As a child I didn’t understand her reaction.  As a woman and a mother I understand it better and it has taught me some great life lessons.  In her time, my mom was born in 1927, it was expected that women would marry and have children, but not being able to have them wasn’t talked about.  My mom couldn’t have children and adopting made that known to everyone.  There was also the stigma of illegitimacy. My mother told me when I was pregnant with my oldest and not married that back in her day if a woman had a child not married and she happened to die she was buried in an unmarked grave.  In their day, illegitimate children were scarred material somehow.  I also realize now that she didn't want me to think about "another mother".  I understand her fears but also know these were my mother's problems.  Deep seeded beliefs that only in recent years I have I realized had nothing at all to do with me. 

Her reaction hurt me though and I think a part of me wanted to get back at her.  My mom valued silence.  Silence was golden, especially if it was something she wanted to keep secret. So that was in part why I told anyone whom I felt like telling that I was adopted.  I was actually proud of this in many ways.  It made me unique.  This all made my mom really mad…..she asked me several times why I couldn’t keep my big mouth shut!  By this age I couldn’t keep it shut because she was telling me too, but also because I needed to talk about it.  I had gone from thinking I knew who I was and where I came from to suddenly knowing nothing and all of this during those turbulent teenage years.   I suddenly knew that my left handedness had nothing to do with dad and when I looked at family pictures any resemblance was now just coincidence.  I had lost my identity and due to other events in my life, I desperately needed it.  When you are young the world still seems like a small place.  Even in my teenage years I didn’t understand the scope of this so I would search crowds looking for myself.  Imagine not knowing who you are.  People at the grocery, classmates, people at church…were they related to me?   We all need a face to put with our own.  How often do we hear you look like your father or you have your mother's mannerisms.  I wanted that.  

Wasn’t until after Ashley was born that I felt some relief about my own identity. I was now connected to someone else.  This someone looked like me in many ways……a fact that we would hear about for years to come and something I treasure.  A gift that I can never be thankful enough for.  Ashley's birth really got me to thinking about finding my birth mom.  I wasn’t dreaming about magical reunions or craving mother daughter moments.  But I needed to know where I came from and I was growing tired of not having a health history to put on medical forms.  Those health history questions seem like no big deal for most, but imagine how many times we are asked those questions in our lives.  Imagine never having a single answer, then also not having those answers for your own children.  This reason alone was enough to push me into searching. 

For several years my search got me nowhere.  I started with nothing. I had a birth certificate, but I found out it wasn’t the original.  Once you are adopted the certificate is amended to show your adopted name and the original is sealed away in a file.  A file I could never have access to without my birth mother's permission.  How could I get that if I didn’t know her?  Then something wonderful happened.  I was told that there were indexes at the Fayette County library.  These indexes listed birth certificates in alphabetical order by birth mother's last name and went through 1969.  They ended in 1969, the year I was born. I was in luck.  One problem I didn’t know her last name.  What I did have though was just as valuable.  The number on my amended birth certificate was the same as the original.  That number, like a social security number, never changes.  This was going to be quite a task, but I was hopeful.  I started with the first index of 1969.  Letter A.  Each index had probably 500 pages or more and I had to look line by line and match the number.   This was going to take a while.  I spent about 10 hours over the course of several days then on the 10th day I found what I had been looking for.  Volume G.  I had to look at the number several times before I was convinced I had the right one.  The number matched so I traced my finger along the line.  There in front of me was a piece of a puzzle I had dreamed about for years----Anna M. Gordon, my birth mothers name.  Wow!  Not only did I have her name, but it was similar to my middle name and the same as my youngest daughter.  What are the odds of that? The next part of the line…..Amy Jo……my first real name.  Hum…Amy Jo.  I kind of  liked it.  Suddenly I felt like an Amy Jo.  Forget Laura Anne.  I was Amy Jo and I was happy.  

Of course my search had only just begun.  There was no way I could stop at just a name.  I spent the next 8 years on and off searching.  I searched death records, marriage records, any records I could find.  I even had a subscription to Ancestry.com.   I eventually found she had been born in Michigan and that she had a sister named Susan. Then another dead end.  I had come this far and felt that hiring someone to complete the search was the only option I had left.  I located a reputable searcher whose cost was $750. This was a lot cheaper than most searchers, but I had done most of the work that they would normally do.  I sent him an e-mail with the information he requested.  I wasn’t sure he would ever respond.  Within 3 days he contacted me by phone.  He had found her.  Anna Mercia Gordon, along with an address and last known phone number.  She lived in New Mexico.  He also told me my aunt lived in Cincinnati and he gave me her last name. 

My hands were shaking and quite honestly I was scared to death.  Twenty-five years of knowing I was adopted and I held the possibility of her in my hands.  Of course I called right away…..no answer.  I did this several times over the next several days, but never got an answer.  Maybe the searcher had been wrong.  I finally got the idea to search her address and find other addresses and phone numbers in the area.  I called one of the neighbors and yes they knew her although they seemed hesitant.  I realized they probably thought I was after Anna but maybe not for anything good.  I decided the best thing was to let them know who I was.  They told me she wasn’t there very often but they would leave a note on her door and talk to her when they saw her.   I was back to the waiting game….or so I thought.  I had almost forgotten the aunt in Cincinnati.  Didn’t take me long to find a number I felt was probably hers.  I called and Susan answered.  I asked if she was Anna’s sister.  She hesitated, and before she could answer I began telling her who I was.  She was very nice and said all of my facts added up so she felt I was telling the truth.  We talked a long time but she never offered Anna’s phone number.  I was so excited I didn’t find that odd.  She said since she lived so close she would love to come down and meet me and I agreed.  

You can’t imagine how this all felt.  If you have ever seen these stories on tv and thought the people were being overly dramatic, I am telling they are not.  Years coming together in an instant.  The first time in my life I had spoken to someone who shared my blood.  Each moment in this journey was getting more and more exciting.  I had never in my life been on such an unusual high.  I still knew there were rough spots ahead in this journey…scary moments, but I was excited.  This was my aunt, who was so welcoming and open, but what if my birth mother didn’t share the same warmth?  Over the years I had heard other adoptees talk about how difficult it had been to deal  with the rejection involved in being given up at birth.  I had never felt that.  I knew that if I had the opportunity to find out why, I would understand no matter what the reason.  I had been where she had been…young, pregnant and scared to death.  Whatever her reasons were, I knew how personal and painful the choice may have been and knew I wouldn’t harbor any resentment.  I also knew that she might not want to know me or even admit I had ever existed.   Again I had heard those type of stories and how hurt and bitter the adoptees had become at a second rejection.  I knew whatever the outcome with my mother, I already had more than I ever had and knew how lucky I was. 
So my Aunt Susan came.  Honestly, she didn’t look a thing like me.  Although she searched my face, I don’t think she saw them in me either.  None the less we spent the next several hours talking.  I suddenly had tons of medical history. I learned about my grandparents and my mother's childhood.  She brought pictures and a huge box of writing my grandmother had done before she died in her early twenties. Not all of the story was warm and fuzzy, but a true family story is rarely free of dark moments.  I found out I have 4 brothers and sisters. Yes, you read that correctly …..4 siblings.  I have an African American brother, 2 brothers who are Guatemalan, and a sister with Peruvian roots.  Imagine this blond haired blue eyed girl as part of that family.  I also learned that my youngest sister was younger than Ashley.  Crazy and exciting. 

As the visit drew to an end I finally asked Susan if she had a way to contact Anna.  I now knew that my mother had lived a rather nomadic life and so I really thought she would tell me she didn’t know how to reach her.  Instead she pulled out her phone and said, "Well let's call her right now".   Seriously.   Right then? Oh my, could this finally be it?   I heard Susan say hello to Anna.  There was a short conversation about something, I honestly can’t remember, and then Susan told Anna she was sitting there with Amy Jo.   Apparently there was silence.  Susan repeated Amy Jo.  More silence.  Then Susan said, I am here with the daughter you had in 1969.  Then I could hear her.  What I heard was excitement,  what I felt was relief.   As you can imagine I don’t remember every detail of what was in the conversation that followed, only that I was handed the phone and I heard my mother's voice for the first time.  What do you say after 38 years?  In our case, you say “How have you been” and you go from there.  Pivotal moments…memories frozen in time.

So what about that third name?  The third name is why she didn't recognize the name Amy Jo.  Turns out that back in the days of Catholic homes for unwed mothers, the girls were encouraged strongly not to name the children as if they were their own.  It was suggested that she choose the name of a character from a book. She chose Little Women, Amy and Jo…..so I legally became Amy Jo.  How strange and how perfect that from those characters she would choose the two that I would turn out to be the most like! When I asked Anna what she would have named me if they had let her she said…….wait for it……..Emerald Sky.  My name would have been Emerald Sky.   All of those years, in her heart, I had been Emerald Sky.  Well, I was born in the sixties after all! God bless her, and mom and dad.  At that moment I decided Laura Anne was a perfectly beautiful name.     

    I have met my mother and have a lot of respect for her.  She came and spent the night with us not long after I first talked to her. I see a lot of myself in her and finally understood why I had always felt so different than my own family.  Anna is opinionated, strong-willed and passionate in her beliefs.  She has lived through a lot of adversity. I could relate to that although I knew by comparison I had been lucky to have the life I had.  She had done the right thing for me. Even though distance keeps us from getting together very often, we do talk several times a year and I feel a connection and a bond with Anna that I am so thankful for. 

Anna, in her late twenties
 My grandmother Beth, Anna's mother

Sunday, February 20, 2011

My Chainsaw Nightmare

We didn't realize until we moved into my parent's house in the fall of 2009 what we were getting into.  Not a lot of thought went into going from 1/8 acre to 2.  We also didn't realize that many of the trees on the property were in bad shape.  Of course my thought was to hire someone but Jason had other ideas.  He could do it himself.  

I have to admit I didn't have a lot of confidence in him.  Not because I thought he wasn't capable, it was just that Jason is more of a hang out on the couch kind of man.  I knew this fact well because that's where he usually was at our old house when I was out mowing and doing yard work. 

Something about this yard must have motivated him though because many times he would come home from work and hop on the mower right away.  He said if he was on the mower he didn't have to listen to me.  That's fine, and true, but it didn't explain the subscription to TURF Magazine that began showing up in the mailbox. 

Our first spring he decided it was time to get serious about the trees.  Time to bring out the chainsaw and get down to business. I have to tell you, I hate chainsaws.  They terrify me.  Being who I am, a chainsaw brings to mind images of Jason laying on the ground minus a leg or arm.  When I tried to plead my case, he told me to stay out of it.  I decided to change my outlook and try looking on the bright side...when I  thought about it, a man wielding a large power tool looked kind of sexy.

Maybe I told him he looked good with the chainsaw because it suddenly seemed like he was pulling out the chainsaw more often than needed.  Even our neighbors started to notice.  I would be sitting on their porch and Crystal would say, "What's that sound?  Does Jason have the chainsaw out again?"

The sporadic chainsawing continued through summer and early fall.  Little by little there was improvement in the yard.  My Dad had moved home and he and Jason decided there was an old apple tree that needed to come down.  Just what I needed, another chainsaw happy man in my life. My dad set himself up in a lawn chair near the action.  I reminded Jason to be careful because I certainly didn't want my 92 year old father crushed by an apple tree while sitting in his lawn chair.  Things went smoothly and by next year we should have some nicely seasoned applewood to burn in the fireplace.  

You may be wondering why I called this a nightmare.  Well, I learned nothing gives a man with a chainsaw more confidence than successfully taking out a 15 ft. tree.  Jason informed me that next he was going to take out the 50 ft. wild cherry tree that sits between our house and the neighbors.  Huh?  I surely didn't hear him correctly. My pleading about the dangers began again and I felt my case was strong this time since the neighbor's property was involved.  Knowing Dad wouldn't be much help, I decided to talk to the Sam and Crystal.  Surely Sam could help me.  

I guess all men think alike because Sam suggested he could help by tying a rope to the tree and pulling it with his truck as Jason was making the necessary cuts.  This is not at all what I was hoping for.  The only one on my side was Sam's wife Crystal, but we were outnumbered.  At this point the only good thing about this situation was that the weather was turning cold and Jason needed a new chainsaw.  The tree would have to wait until spring. Maybe Jason would lose motivation and decide bringing in a professional wasn't such a bad idea.

So here we are just a few short weeks from spring.  Although I prayed really hard that the winds of recent weeks would take the tree down, naturally not even a twig fell.  Talk of the tree has begun again.  Jason has a new chainsaw and I have officially given up my fight.  In fact Crystal and I will probably sit in lawn chairs next to my dad and watch the show.  A pitcher of margaritas with a little extra tequila may be in order and I will have 9-1-1 on speed dial just in case.  

You can probably tell that it is the dead looking tree farthest to left. The picture doesn't do it justice.  There is a huge branch on the back side that accounts for some of the tallest parts of the tree.  That is the part that will probably land in the neighbor's yard.