Daily Affirmation

The best things in life are free.
The second best are very expensive.
- Coco Chanel

Friday, February 28, 2014

An Evening To Myself

Friday night - so good to have this week behind me!  Work was hectic, and I feel guilty even trying to complain about working hard when I never have to leave the house, and I can work in my comfy comfy yoga pants.  I rarely shower before 3pm.  Yes, I'm a disgusting pig for the better part of the day, but that's our little secret, n'est ce pas?  Working from home is wonderful, but it really was a busy week, and I'm looking forward to relaxing tonight. 

Andrew is here for the weekend - a little reprieve from Utah's frosty weather.  How sad, then, that it's raining here.  All weekend.  And not just a little rain, either.  Seriously, I wish you could watch our local weather people on TV.  They are absolutely drooling over the fact that we have weather for a few days.  The storm of the decade.  Or at least the worst one on a few years.  And that's the funny thing about living in Orange County.  We never get hit with weather nearly as hard as other areas of Southern California.  According to the news, I should have been afraid my house was going to slip down the hillside (and that IS a real concern for some in California where last season's fires left bare hillsides.  Not joking about that at all.) Yes, it came down hard here and there, but it was just... hard rain.  Nothing the rest of the country doesn't have all the time.  I sent a short video of it to my coworker in Minneapolis.  Her response?  "What's the temperature?"  (It was 63 degrees at the time).  She replied that it was 5 degrees there.  Our "weather" doesn't impress anyone.  But it's all we have, so I tried to enjoy listening to it while I worked.  It was kind enough to let up when I left to get a pedicure.  (A beautiful little Iris colored polish, in case you were wondering.) I do love weather that is mindful of my needs...

But back to Andrew's visit.  LaMar got tickets to the Lakers game at the Staples Center, and the boys just took off a few minutes ago, happy as clams.  I've got a whole evening to myself.  So I'm blogging while I lick chocolate frosting from a spoon.  Its a guilty pleasure.  I made a killer devil's food cake last week and had some frosting left over.  Too scrumptious to throw away, and I enjoyed it just now.  Well, to be truthful, I've been sneaking spoonfuls of it all week.  I'm just polishing it off now.  C'mon now - don't even pretend you've never done it yourself.  Or if you haven't, I don't know if we can be friends.  It all goes back to when my mom would slather leftover frosting on a graham cracker.  That was livin' back in the day.

After I finish here, I'm going to watch a taped episode of "Reign" and who knows what else?  The sky's the limit.  I've also got a J Crew catalog calling to me.  I love looking through catalogs.  I fold down the pages of things I love, and then I only buy a fraction of those things.  But it makes me excited to entertain the possibility of actually owning them.  My budget is the limiting factor, the check and balance to my system.  But for an evening I imagine buying all of it.

Tomorrow is hair cut and color day.  One of my favorite days of the month.  Everything gets spiffed and spruced up.  Lines are sharpened, color is freshened and brightened.  It's a renewal.  It will feel good after the past two days of not feeling that great.  The old shingles are responding to the challenge of medication and admitting defeat.  Good riddance, I say.  I hope I never get that again, although I know it's possible, and I also realize I had an extremely light case of them.  I love it when I get lucky.  Unlucky, yet lucky.

It's time to get on with that ME evening.  Turn on the TV, open that catalog.  I may even get crazy and read a book.  Put on a soft T-shirt, ditch the bra.  Admire my newly polished toes.  These kind of evenings don't come along all that often.  Which is what makes them so delicious.  And the fact that it will all be accompanied by the sound of rain on the roof makes it even more cozy and magical.  The only thing that would make it perfection would be a thunderstorm... be still my heart.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Big news: I'm sick

Today was an interesting first:  I was diagnosed with shingles.  I would rather have had some other kind of first, but you get what you get.  I thought it would be worse than it is - but so far it hasn't been too bad.  It was an annoying little patch of rash on my left side for a couple of days.  I mixed up a little salve with some of my DoTerra oils and some coconut oil, and it was soothing and felt good.  But it didn't go away, and yesterday when I noticed that the patches had multiplied times 4, I knew I was in a little more trouble than I'd originally thought.  Especially after I looked at a few images on Google.  (Me + Google = Amateur MD)  Yep, Google had pictures of exactly what was ailing me.

So today I went to the doctor.  I hadn't been there in 5 years.  That's how often I get sick - about every 5-7 years.  He seemed a little bit excited to see something different than garden variety colds and flu.  Happy to oblige.  And after a little visit about how contagious I am (not at all, except to babies and small children, and anyone who hasn't had chicken pox), and what kind of prescription he was calling in for me, I was out the door and on my way to the pharmacy.  Short and sweet, just the way I like doctor's appointments to be.

So far, it's just made me a little tired, and it's a little bit sore to the touch.  After hearing how painful it can be, I consider myself very lucky.  Maybe my little homemade salve was helping out, after all.  It was 1 T coconut oil, 5 drops each of melaleuca, lavender, and frankincense oils.  And after I realized what I have, I also added in eucalyptus and thyme oils.  It hasn't spread any more and one of the patches seems to be going away.  I'm still counting heavily on the antiviral prescription to knock it out completely, and much faster than going it alone, but I like knowing that I can help myself a little bit too.  There's a bit of the pioneer country doc in me, I think.  If I must be sick (and apparently, every 5 years or so I must), then at least let me learn how to help myself a bit.

I'm lucky that it came now, instead of later.  We have trips planned in early May and again in July to go and see Lexi and Mia for their 8th birthdays and subsequent baptisms. 

Its big stuff, and I'd hate to miss these little ladies on their big days.  I'm so looking forward to seeing all of the little munchkins again.  Although I noticed via Facebook that sweet Skylee head butted on of her aunts and had given her a black eye.  I may approach her cautiously...

Drezden has learned to roll over, and he is smiling all the time for me when we visit via FaceTime.  It used to make him look worried to see me talking on this little tablet, but he's grown used to it, and he seems to enjoy me talking ridiculous baby talk to him now.

Hayden stole a toy dinosaur from the local craft store the other day, and had to suffer the shame of returning it and apologizing for the petty theft.  It made us all wonder: why a dinosaur?  Particularly, why a teradactyl?   It remains a mystery.

Curious what appeals to us, sometimes... However, her life of crime was cut short, she served her sentence honorably, and she now knows the joys of a clear conscience, after suffering the woes of a guilty one.  (Although, I suspect not for the last time... that little one is a pistol.)

Ronna had a birthday this last week.  Rex sent her to a spa for the day for a facial and massage - now that's my idea of a perfect day!  One of these years I wish I could actually spend some time with my girls on their birthdays - I'd like to get in on that spa day with them!

And that is life in the OC for this girl.  Little ones getting bigger and learning new tricks (and not always good ones!), FaceTime chats, celebrating birthdays from afar, and coming down with the creeping crud. (It could be worse - it could be on a visibly prominent part of me.  Like my face.)  I'm lucky it's confined to a small area on my left torso.  But I need to go - it's time to take that big horse pill they prescribed me to banish it.  Hopefully forever.  Wish me luck and send cards.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

No Wedding - An Unexpected Funeral

Rex had his birthday.  I talked to him early in the day, and he sounded happy.  Getting ready in a couple of months to baptize his oldest, Lexi.  I am so proud of him, and it made my day to hear of all the good things he has going for him now.  Beautiful son with a beautiful family.

I continued on with my workday, and it was fairly mundane and peaceful.  Until about 2:30.  L called and said his sister had called and said that his dad had a heart attack and that it "was bad."  He had been taken to our little local hospital so I grabbed my keys and flew out the door.  L was on his way home, but from Torrance that can be an hour or more.

I pulled up to the hospital and was lucky to find a parking spot right away, and right in front.  I was feeling lucky.  I ran to the waiting room and couldn't find anyone from the family there.  I kind of looked around and waited, not sure what to do.  Finally, I went to the reception window and asked about my father in law.  In a minute, she came through the door, and ushered me in to where L's mother and sister were.  They looked dazed and scared.  And after I took a look at my father in law, I was scared too.  It didn't look like anyone was home anymore.

Apparently, he'd had an aortic aneurism that had sprung a leak.  Several days before he had been doing some concrete work around the house, and lifting heavy bags of concrete (at 80!)  Afterwards, he had complained of a backache.  Seems normal enough, right?  The doctors said that the backache had probably been caused by bleeding into his abdominal cavity.  He walked around like that for a few days.  He didn't feel well, but thought he'd just overdone it.  It wasn't until Monday that he really started to feel truly awful, and he and Barbara went to see the doctor.  And - so typical - they sat in the waiting room for over an hour.  Just waiting.  Until his blood pressure became so low that it triggered a heart attack.  When the staff at the doctor's office realized what was going on, they rushed him into a wheelchair and ran him across the parking lot to the ER.  By the time I got there he was unconscious and the doctors were giving him a 1% chance.  1%.  Those are not good odds.  They couldn't give him coagulants to stop the bleeding because of the heart attack.  And they couldn't give him blood thinners for the heart attack because of the bleeding.  And they couldn't get his blood pressure to stabilize enough to get him anywhere for surgery.

The poor man went through half a dozen units of blood before they decided to do a Hail Mary and try to get him to the airport to helicopter him to USC for surgery.  One of my friends is the ER supervisor at the hospital, and she came out of his room with tears in her eyes and said that we should say what we wanted to now, as she didn't think he would make it to USC.  And sadly, he didn't.

Jennifer went with him in the ambulance.  She didn't have to.  It was a kindness to Richard, and us, his family.  They got no further than St Jude hospital when he coded in the ambulance and they rushed him to the St Jude ER, where they worked on him for about 15 minutes.  L and I were on the way there when the doctor called, and said they had no pulse, and did we want to continue?  L called them off, and the doc told him that his father would appreciate it.  And I'm sure he did. 

And so we continued our stunned and sad way to St Jude.  Wondering if we should call the siblings and tell them while they were driving.  We opted not to, thinking it better if they found out when they arrived.  Hopefully we would be there before them.  As it turned out, Jennifer was the one who told everyone.  She waited at St Jude for everyone to arrive, and gently broke the news to L's mother and sister.  She cried with them, and cried with all of us.  I will never forget her kindness that night.  It was a tender mercy.

We went in and gathered around the bedside and wondered what to do next.  We closed the curtains around us and L gave a family prayer.  He struggled a bit to get through it, but it was so sweet.  Heaven seemed very close that night.  And we knew that all was well with Richard.  He was with his son Ryan, who had passed away a few years ago.  He was with his parents, and other loved ones.  He was probably having a really happy time, dang it.  It's hard to remember that when you're shell shocked from losing someone who had not seemed even remotely close to leaving this earth.  And all I could think of was how happy I was that we'd given him that awesome 80th birthday party back in October.  Silly what comes to mind.

So that's been the past week.  Lots of family, lots of gathering together, lots of plans and decisions to be made.  I'm proud to say that I ordered the flower spray for the casket.  And it was absolutely gorgeous.  I didn't want something right out of the sample book.  It had to be special - no mums or carnations or daisies - and I probably drove the florist nuts with my particulars.  It's hard to get what you want on short notice on Valentine's weekend (as it turned out I wasn't able to get the peonies I really wanted), but I persevered and it was really pretty.  All white - roses, orchids, and stock - with ferns and trailing ivy.

Of course, we weren't able to go to the wedding in Santa Barbara on the 15th.  We were both sorry to have missed it, but we were destined to be at a funeral that day instead.  I finally put my dress back in the garment bag on Sunday.  I looked longingly at the new earrings I've not worn yet.  Maybe another time - a happier time -  I'll get to wear everything.  The funeral was nice - a family friend gave the eulogy and it was perfect.  If you didn't really know Richard, it made you want to know him.  And it started on time.  Richard was a very punctual man, and L made sure it all ran like clockwork.  I'm sure it pleased him.  Everything - from the words spoken, to the love shared, to the overflowing church - would have pleased him.  I hope he peeked in.  I know if it were my funeral I'd want to eavesdrop, so maybe that's allowed.  Wherever he is, and whatever he's doing now, I'm sure he knows he is missed, and that his family is looking forward to that day when we all meet again.  Until then, Richard, happy trails, and try to look in on us now and then.  You're the family's newest guardian angel, and we can use all the help we can get.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Happy Birthday, Rex!

February.  The start of the birthday season.  Up first is my firstborn's birthday.  Rex.  I will never forget how beautiful a creature he was the first night after he was born.  I was amazed at his perfection.  From his lovely, perfectly bald little head, perfect little ears, to his ten fingers and ten toes.  And talk about an angel baby?  This little boy slept through the night in less than two weeks.  He would wake up in the morning and just look around quietly in his crib.  I would (at 10am or later) crack open the door to see if he was awake, half afraid that he'd died in his sleep. (I have morbid fears like that...)

He had a belly laugh that made everyone else in the room start to laugh.  It was infectious.  The first thing he really giggled over was my long hair waving back and forth.  Since he had none, he must have thought it hilarious.  He laughed, and laughed, and laughed.  I was in love.  Later, that big laugh would get him in trouble at school, because when he started laughing, the whole class would start in.

He started humming and singing before he could talk.  Always on pitch.  The Christmas before he turned two, he could sing Silent Night better than most adults.  It never failed to amaze me.  When he would wake in the night, many times he would crawl out of his crib, switch on the light, turn on his record player, and rock and sing "It's A Small World" or whatever other record he wanted to hear until he was sleepy again.  I would hear his little voice singing away down the hall, and I could see the light on under his door.  After a few minutes, the music would stop, the light would go off, and he'd crawl back in his crib and go back to sleep. 

He was 3 when Katie was born.  His Katie.  If I scolded him, he would go and lay his head on her tummy where she lay in her baby carrier, and take solace from her.  He gradually had friends in the neighborhood, but still tolerated his little sister tagging along after him.  He was a kind little boy, always sticking up for his friends.  At least that's how I remember him when he was young.  His brother and sister may have different memories, but I prefer to remember my tow headed little boy with the big laugh as having a sensitive and kind heart.  When he saw the movie ET, he cried when he thought ET died.  He saw it a second time and cried again.  I've always loved that about him.

I used to help in his classroom at school.  I helped with the art projects, and it was my favorite day of the week.  I loved seeing him in his class.  In whatever grade it is where they make models of the California missions (3rd grade?) we worked together and made a mission out of sand.  Like a sand castle.  It was held together with starch instead of water and it was pretty good.  It weighed about 2 tons, though.  We got it on the bed of the truck and slowly, SLOWLY got it to school.  It lasted a day in the class, until one of his classmates tripped over it and broke it.  But it was a good project that we had fun doing.  Well, I probably had more fun than he did.  (Yes, I'm one of THOSE parents... sue me.)

When he was in 6th grade he wanted to be Wolfman for Halloween.  I bought him a crazy hairy wig and did a makeup job on him so complete that no one recognized him.  That was a good Halloween.  That was the year that Katie was a witch (also unrecognizable - I went crazy with the makeup that year!) and Scott was a Mutant Ninja Turtle.  There are days when I long to have those little children back - just for a day or so.

 Rex and Katie in the Christmas Eve nativity, 1980-something

 And now look at them...

He played French horn in band.  His horn teacher said he was one of the most talented students he'd ever had.  I loved to hear him play.  He auditioned for, and was accepted into a junior youth symphony for two years in a row.  I would haul him to Cypress College once a week for practices, and every year there was a wonderful year end recital at Chapman College.  I had dreams of him playing professionally, but alas - football won out, and the horn got set aside in favor of the pigskin.  We must all follow our own dreams, not the dreams of our parents.
His high school days are a blur.  Football games every Friday night.  One spectacular Reebok Bowl game that was televised.  And there was Rex, the starting center.  My heart was bursting with pride.  He drove an old gold 80s Buick that I'd bought from my dad.  He called it the Hoopty, and it held all of his friends and then some.  School dances, getting him ready, so handsome.  Graduation, tears, realizing that my little boy was not my little boy any more.

He served a two year mission for our church in Columbus, Ohio.  In later years, when my husband and I were in that same area of Ohio where he'd served, I had Rex on the phone and he was remembering landmarks and telling me to look for this, and do you see that?  I was so proud that he'd spent his time so well there.

 Rex and Ronna's engagement photo

Years go by, life happens, and now Rex is a husband and father with four little ones of his own.  And he's such a good daddy.  And a good husband.  Nothing is more important to him than Ronna and the kids.  He's overcome such obstacles - all because of love for his family.  He's learned that life can sometimes be hard, and many times harsh, but that with faith and perseverance anything is possible.

Rex and Lexi (5 months)
Rex and Matthew

Ronna, Lexi and Rex - Lexi is Daddy's girl

Rex and Matthew, 2010
Lexi and Rex, 2010
I'm so proud of him.  He's strong.  He's opinionated.  He's like his dad that way.  Me?  I tend to blow with the wind.  I just want everyone to get along.  But I admire his strength and tenacity.  He's taught me so many lessons about love and strength and forgiveness.  And he has the best hugs.  He thinks no one sees his sweet heart.  But he's wrong.  Mothers can always see.


                                                                         Rex & Lexi - bedtime snuggle

Happy Birthday, Rex.  I couldn't love you more.

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