Thursday, July 21, 2005

What's Your First Memory?

What is your first real memory? Is it happy or sad? Do you remember it as a visual or emotional memory?

Looking back, I think my first real memory is of a rainy day, probably in 1967. My mom was driving me and my brothers around in her baby blue Volkswagen bug. It was raining and I was strapped in my car seat (a metal and vinyl contraption, rather primitive and dangerous by today's standards). I had my blue and white polka dotted elephant stuck under my arm and I was "reading" my favorite book, a very colorful book about a grey mouse, a purple monkey and a pink elephant in a green jungle (man, I wish I knew what book that was!). I seem to remember looking out the window and babbling about my book, my elephant and the rain. I don't remember much more than that visual picture, but when I remember it, I have a sense of contentedness, so I must have been a happy girl that day.

When pull this memory out of my heart's scrapbook, look at it and see how I acted, I see so much of Sweet Girl in there. Sometimes, watching her is like watching myself grow up. It makes me wonder what the earliest memory she'll recall in later years will be. I hope it is happy.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Of Faith, Fear, and Fences

Yesterday I wrote about Champs' eyes and the possible rejection of both corneal transplants. This morning, Princssis, my sis-in-law, made this comment to my post: "So glad his vision improved over the weekend. We will be praying that this rejection stops! Just don't need any more delays in your move to Another State."

How interesting that she honed right in on my thoughts.

Yesterday when I got home from work, Champs and I went to Target to pick up all the medicines he would need for his trip. We left Sweet Girl with grandma and I was glad because it gave us a chance to talk. I was really glad, because, you see, I'm having a battle between faith and fear.

Champs and I decided nearly a year ago now to move to Another State. We wanted to wait until spring to allow me some time to heal from my 2nd hernia operation and let Sweet Girl finish preschool, as well as prepare the house for selling and take advantage of a better real estate market in the spring. We expected to move by June or July so we would have time to get Sweet Girl enrolled in school before the term started.

Well, fast forward to Christmas, when the hernias popped out again (talk about getting a lump of coal for Christmas!). I knew we couldn't move until I had them operated on, and as I've explained, I spent the next six months fighting with the insurance company to get approval for the full operation.

Then, in April, Champs needed another corneal transplant. We couldn't move until that and my surgery was done. Take another step to this month. The house is still not completely ready to go on the market, I will have major surgery on 7/29 and Champs is fighting rejection in both corneas.

'Scuze ME? What's goin' on here?!?!

It's funny, really. Not funny haha, but funny ironic in that get-out-of-here-Murphy-kind-of-way. Until we can put the house on the market, we are spinning our wheels. We haven't applied for jobs because we don't know when we'll get there. Without jobs, we don't know what kind of insurance we will have. And with my hernia happenings and Champs' cornea concerns, I started to get a little shaky. That's the fear part.

And yet, the odd thing is that we know it's the right thing to do. It's the right time to do it. That's the faith part. So, I got to Champs yesterday and told him all about my fears. What will we do if we don't have good benefits? The Big Company gives me a sense of security that I will be giving away when we move to Another State (and I think most wives and moms reading this will understand how important that sense of security is). I asked him just how sure he is that we should move. He is absolutely certain. I asked, have you prayed and prayed and prayed and, more importantly, do you KNOW you've heard the right answer? Yes, he has and yes, he did. We will find good jobs, we will have benefits, even if it means that Champs works 3rd shift (yuck).

That's the verdict. Faith wins (as it should) and fear loses. My heart is already moving to Another State, but my head is stuck here in the (apparent) safety of The Big City. Fear needs to leave, since
"God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power and of love and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7)"

This is where the fence comes in. Champs and I have a good relationship and because we trust one another, we can talk about things like fear and faith. I want to build a fence around that, so that our faith stands firm and our fears are dispelled and our relationship stays strong.

and I really, really want for me to not have any more hernias

and for Champs to not reject his corneas

and to finally move to Another State where we belong.

So many questions, but one answer at least: Not fear. Faith.

Sorry for the sermon, folks... but I'm pretty much preaching to myself!

Monday, July 18, 2005

He Really Knew What He was Doing.

I planned a busy, productive weekend for our family. We were going to get the basement cleaned, the garage cleaned, and all the paperwork up to speed. So much for the best laid plans of Blond Girl, the supermom. We didn't get to any of it, and here's why:

On Friday, I took Sweet Girl to her 5-year checkup with her pediatrician. I did all the stuff they asked; fill out the forms, have Sweet Girl draw a picture, help her pee in a cup, check her hearing, check her sight. Check her height, check her weight, stand up, sit down, fight. fight. fight. The entire appointment took 2.5 hours, during which I learned that she is 41 inches tall and 34.5 pounds, putting her in the 25th percentile for height and weight (that's why I always say she's a little peanut).

The highlight of the appointment was the vaccination. Her pediatrician was compelled, for some reason, to tell Sweet Girl about the shots a full half hour before she got them. Now, I'm all for being honest to a child, but not brutally so. Since both Grandma Bina and I are diabetic, Sweet Girl gets to see plenty of shots. She knows what they are. I spent the next half hour trying to calm her down. She was distracted through the rest of the tests, near tears and continually telling me how scared she was of the shots to come. I repeatedly told her that they would hurt a little, but only for a moment and not to worry about it. Fat lot of good that did. (Side note, I really like her pediatrician, but I may need to give her some feedback about how she approaches the shot issue. Yes, warn the child. Right before the needle gets visible, and not sooner. Why stress them out for half an hour? But I digress.) So she got the shots - 2 of them and now she's OK to go to kindergarten. But they told me at the office that the shots could make her feverish and tired for the next couple of days.

Fast forward to Saturday, when all the work was to commence: Champs eye started giving him trouble. You may remember that he has had a corneal transplant in both eyes. His vision went horribly blurry on Friday and was no better on Saturday. So, we went to see one of the doctors at his eye clinic. The doctor came in special just to check his eyes. It doesn't appear to be rejection or infection, but possibly some toxic overload from all the drops he puts in his eyes. So, the hubby had next to no reliable vision for getting stuff done. We went to Target for a new prescription then went home. Sweet Girl was sleeping when we got home. At 5, she rarely ever naps anymore, but she was down for the count. So, we took a nap, too.

See, it's hot in Minnesota. Well, if radar is to be believed, its hot everywhere, but it is really hot here. It reached 97 degrees with unbelievable humidity both yesterday and today. When it's this hot, you can't really go outside. You can barely function. A nap seemed to make good sense to both of us. We didn't get up until nearly 5:30, when I finally started the laundry. I got it half done and the family watched "The Incredibles".

So, yesterday was a total wash. Today wasn't much better. We went to church and when we got home, Sweet Girl was pooped again. Her arm is one big red hot welt from the vaccination and she was like a damp rag. So, I had her go to lay down with a book and Champs and I took a nap as well. 45 minutes later, Sweet Girl came into our room and crawled into bed next to me. I told her to go to sleep. Miracle of miracles, she did, her warm little body pressed up against me.

I eventually dozed off for awhile, but soon I was awake again. Here I was; the work wasn't done, the air conditioning wasn't cooling the house (I'm pretty sure it's dead) and I had my husband on my left and my daughter on my right. I was trapped between them, hot and mildly frustrated that nothing was getting done or was likely to get done.

And then it hit me. Suddenly my mind went back ten years. I remembered being alone and despairing that I would never find anyone. I remembered the unrequited love that I held for one of my college friends and how I was never good enough for him. I remembered how my dad treated my mom like crap for years and years and I always figured that if I did find someone, I would end up with the same.

Then I looked to my left and saw this man who, for 7 years, has treated me like a queen. He may not be a millionaire, but he understands the finer points of love. Then I looked to my right and saw this beautiful little blond girl, who loves me and whose favorite pastime this week has been "attack kisses".

Suddenly, my heart welled up within me in absolute gratitude. "Thank you, Father, for bringing me this wonderful man. And thank you for giving us this beautiful child. I can't believe they are mine to love. Thank you."

And it didn't matter that the air conditioning is dying. It didn't matter that money is tight and the paperwork is still waiting to be done. It didn't matter that my basement is still a mess. What mattered is that God, in his infinite wisdom and love, saw what I needed all those years and sent me Champs and gave us Sweet Girl.

He really knew what He was doing.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Is The Sky Red Where You Are?

It is July. I can hardly believe that 2005 is now half over. How in the world did that happen? Of course, I always feel this way when I start to think about how fast time flies. In fact, it seems like just yesterday that we told Grandma Bina that I was pregnant. This will take awhile, but it's worth the read. Every word is true, I promise.

You will need three important pieces of information first to truly understand this story:

1. My mom is the original blond girl... She doesn't celebrate blond moments any more, but she does have more than her fair share of "senior moments". She is well known for being a lot like Edith Bunker. Lovable and somewhat ditzy.
2. I didn't meet Champs until I was 32. I am the youngest of my mom's 4 children and even though she already had 4 grandchildren, she wanted them from me, too. In fact, the first thing she said to us when we got out of the sanctuary after the wedding was "when do I get grandbabies?" We told her to let us enjoy our wedding dance and then we would worry about procreation.
3. My father was still alive at the time of this story, which takes place in 1999. He died of lung cancer in 2003, but played a small but important (and pretty darn funny, too) role in this narrative.

On a Friday morning in mid January of 1999, I realized that after 2 1/2 months of marriage Champs and I were going to be parents. I waited all day for Champs to come home so I could share the news with him. It took until about 8:00 that night before he knew everything and we could begin calling the family. Of course, my mother had to be first on the call list, so I called over to her home. Dad answered. "Hi Dad, can I talk to Mom?" Dad gave a little grunt (he grunted to mean just about anything from "whatever" to "oh my word, that's exciting!") and told me she wasn't home and would be gone until Sunday afternoon.

I hadn't realized she was going to be out, so I asked him where she was. He didn't know. "Dad", I asked, "what do you mean you don't know where she is? What if there is an emergency?" Dad calmly replied, "there won't be any emergency. She's not here. She is the emergency." Well, you can mess with logic like that, so I asked if he had any information at all. He knew she was somewhere in White Bear Lake for a church conference, so I went into detective mode.

After calling about 10 hotels, I found the one hosting the church conference and found the room of the friend my mom was staying with - success! I asked to leave a message and was patched through to voicemail. I asked Mom to call me, no matter how late. There was no emergency and nothing to worry about; I just wanted to talk to her.

Fast forward to midnight. The phone starts ringing and when I answer, Mom frantically asked " what's wrong?!?!" I assured her everything was fine and I had just wanted to talk to her. "Oh", she replied. "I just got a piece of paper that said "call your daughter no matter what". So much for the voicemail and the friendly hotel staff. After I got her calmed down, I got Champs to pick up and extension and we called Dad to get him on the line with Mom.

Once we were on the line, I explained that the reason I was calling so late is that I wanted to share some special news. "You're going to be grandparents again!" My dad, typically, grunted. I think there might have been an "oh, ok" in there too. My mom, who moments before was so fantastically frantic, said, "oh, that's nice honey. Is the sky red where you are?"


"Mom", I said, "your youngest child just told you she is pregnant. You've been waiting for this for years! What do you mean 'is the sky red'?" "Well", she replied, "the sky is just so red tonight. I've never seen anything like it at all!" Seeing that this conversation was a lost cause, Champs and I were soon off the phone and scratching our heads.

Unfortunately, 2 months later, we lost that baby. It was very sad and my parents (and everyone else) were very supportive. It took awhile but eventually we were ready to try again. The following October, we found out that I was pregnant again.

This time, I tested myself at 4:00 in the morning. I couldn't wait to tell Champs, so I woke him up. He was ecstatic! Out of courtesy we waited until 6:00 a.m. to call my mom. Champs got on one phone line and stood in the hall where he could see me on the bedroom phone. The phone rang and rang, and finally a muffled voice said, "mello?"

"Hi Mom!" I sing-songed (remember, I'd been up for 2 hours and was pretty pumped). "Is the sky red where you are?", I asked. She drew a deep breath and said, "I don't know. Hang on" and proceeded to drop the phone with a chunk! Champs and I looked at each other in wonder as we listened to her footsteps shuffle away and then shuffle back to the phone.

"No honey, the sky isn't red. It's black. It's night out", Mom explained, still clearly asleep. Barely containing my laughter, I decided to give her a hint. "No, Mom. I know the sky isn't red right now. Remember the last time we talked about this very same thing, all you could say was how red the sky was? Remember that?". "Ohhhh....", she said. Champs and I thought she might understand now. Then she showed us that she still wasn't quite tracking with us yet when she said, "I do remember. The sky was just so red! I've never seen the sky that red before!"

By this time, Champs and I were torn between astonishment, laughter, disbelief and a myriad of other reactions. I spoke very clearly; "no, Mom. Remember? The last time we spoke about THIS. VERY. SAME. SUBJECT.... You were more concerned about the sky than my news. Remember?"

Just as the sun broke over the horizon into our window, the light dawned on Mom. "Oooohhhh! A baby?" Champs busted out laughing. "ding ding ding ding ding! Tell her what she's won, Johnny!"

Well, Sweet Girl was the happy outcome of that pregnancy. We warned Mom that if we ever called and asked "is the sky red where you are?", she'd better know what we meant! Unfortunately, I'm having my tubes tied, so I guess we won't be asking that question again. But the memory and the story are just as sweet and funny each time we tell it.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

What Are You Thinking?

It's a woman thing, I know. Your husband sits quietly for awhile and you figure that something MUST be going on in there, so you smile gamely and ask, "what are you thinking?"

I'm not sure who dreads that moment more; the wife or the husband. The husband because he just wants to be left to drowse in peace. The wife because she's wondering when she'll hear something other than, "oh, nothing really".

Ask me at any moment what I am thinking and I will probably give you a song title (that's been plaguing me all morning), a work problem (that's been plaguing me all week) and a money problem (that's been plaguing me all month) as well as a happy thought to balance it all out. For some reason I have a V8 brain - and all cylinders are running at full speed, thank you.

My husband, though, is content to be on idle most of the time. I ask him what he is thinking and he genuinely doesn't have an answer. It's like he's found nirvana and forgot to leave a map to follow him. I really don't understand!

The worst time to ask what your husband is thinking is after being *loving*. There I am, suffused in the happiness of our love and forever union, so I ask the fateful question. I am silly enough to expect an answer in keeping with my emotions and what do I get? "Oh, I was thinking about that last episode of Max-X".... How did he get THERE?

This isn't a smart-or-not-smart thing. It's a guy thing. I'm learning, though. I haven't learned not to ask what he's thinking yet, but I don't ask it as often!

Friday, July 8, 2005

Don't Laugh When Disciplining Your 5-Year Old

Not too long ago, we laid down the law for Sweet Girl. You see, the girl can talk. She can talk, talk, talk, talk, talk, talk, talk, TALK. Normally this isn't a problem. When you're the mother to a child like this, you get really good at listening, interjecting the expected comment at the right time ("Oh really? Your toys told you that they want to go McDonald's, huh? That's interesting) while doing a myriad of other motherly tasks.

It is a problem, though, when it comes to dinner time. Sweet Girl is a tiny thing. At age five, she weighs all of 34 pounds. Although we don't make her a member of the "clean plate club" (since we don't want her to get "food issues"), we do expect that when it is dinner time she will eat. It's a little thing, really. Just eat, honey.

So we laid down the law. If we had to tell her three times during the meal to stop talking and start eating, she would need to leave the table and go to bed without the rest of her supper. We've had to carry through on the consequences a few times now.

Well, the other night we were having a very good dinner which she really likes; penne with marinara sauce and salad with all the really good vegetables including broccoli and avocado (Sweet Girl's favorites). After receiving two warnings that she needed to stop talking and start eating (I believe one admonishment was "I need to see less words coming out of your mouth and more food going into it"), Champs decided it was time for another one of his amazingly effective "daddy/daughter talks". He had her come to his seat and he put her in his lap.

He explained the importance of eating a full diet. She got that. He explained that the rules wouldn't change and reminded her of the consequences of her choices. She got that. He told her to go back to her seat and "eat up your dinner". To which she lifted up her shirt, pointed to her little belly and said "but Daddy, my tummy is all squishy!

Champs tried, but he just. couldn't. make. it.

He laughed at her antics. He managed to recapture the "authoritarian" look and get her back into her chair. She even ate her dinner without further intervention.

But that twinkle in her eye told me that his discipline wasn't as effective as it would have been if he hadn't laughed.

Thursday, July 7, 2005

Happy Birthday to the Sweetest Part of Me!

Happy Birthday to the Sweetest Part of Me

One of these days, I intend to write the story of how Champs and I met and got married; it's a great story. But the important thing today is that God, in His infinite wisdom, compassion and love brought the best man in the world for me to me. Not a day goes by that I am not thankful for the gentle man who loves me. I spent too many years in poor thinking: I thought I wasn't ever going to find love and that I must not be worthy of love and if I ever did find love, the man would treat me like crap, because that's what I had seen my whole life.

God knew better, though. He brought me Champs. His nickname was Champs when I met him and he explained that it was because the soccer team he coached won a championship. That's what his nickname means to him but to me it means so much more. He is the champion of my heart in so many ways; he protects, loves, defends, supports and keeps me in his heart. I knew these things about him shortly after I met him and I knew a lifetime with him would not dim these qualities.

When we were married, I sung a song to him that I had written. The chorus goes:

Champion of my heart
More than just a dream
You're my reality.
Of two, the strongest part.
You will always be
The sweetest part of me.

You've heard people say "my better half", right? Well, that's the idea here. That's what Champs is; the sweetest part of me. If any of you read my blog and think "she's got it all together", please know that it is first because of the absolute grace and mercy of Jesus Christ and second because of the security of walking through my life knowing that Champs will be there with me and that he loves me and our daughter.

He is the best dad! I can't believe what a blessing he is in Sweet Girl's life; I know she will grow to be a self-confident woman and to set a high standard of what she expects from her relationships. She has a wonderful example of a great husband living in front of her everyday. For that I am truly grateful.

It is Champs' birthday today! He's on the road for work, so I haven't even had the chance to give him a birthday kiss. But I have thought about it many times today. I even paid for and downloaded the "happy birthday" song to send to him in a text message, but then the phone said it was too big of a file to send (yeah, right... It wasn't too big to charge me for and send to my phone...). So, we haven't celebrated yet today; we'll celebrate on Saturday. It will be a real zoo of a party, actually. We'll be having a combo party; Sweet Girl's 5th birthday, Champs' 33rd birthday and Grandma Bina's 70th birthday. Whew! I know I'll sleep good on Saturday night; I'll be exhausted from the party!

So, happy birthday, hubba-hubba-licious! May your year bring you new joys, new victories and more happiness than you've ever had before. I love you today and I will love you more and more every day. Times 5. Plus 4. Times 3 to the 8th power. Plus infinity.

Times 1.

Friday, July 1, 2005

We Should Have Just Gone Home

Murphy is not well liked in our house.

His law is liked even less.

After work (where, by the way, I didn't get a darn thing done) Champs and Sweet Girl picked me up. I asked Champs what he wanted for dinner and he replied that he wasn't really hungry yet. Knowing that we didn't have much food in the house, I asked him if he wanted to go grocery shopping ("not much in the house" means we have lots of various ingredients but fall short in the complete meals category). He said "sure", so away we went.

Murphy decided to see how much fun he could have with us in the store. We got there and sat outside in the car for a few minutes making our shopping list. Before we went in, I grabbed my cell phone, made sure Champs had his wallet and locked my purse in the trunk. We are planning a birthday party for Sweet Girl (as well as Champs & Bina) for July 9th. Knowing we won't have too much in the way of "disposable cash" by then (mortgage time, you know), I decided we should get as much of the supplies and food we needed for the party as possible. It didn't take long for our cart to take on a life of it's own, and I knew this was gonna be expensive! Fast forward to the end of the trip. When I went to pay for all the groceries we picked out, I scanned Champ's check card through the reader and it came up "transaction blocked". I tried again and still "transaction blocked". I heard Murphy snicker.

I certainly couldn't understand why his card wasn't working, but in order to use mine or pay by check, I needed my purse, which was locked in the car trunk. I explained this to Champs. "Well, go get it", he said "I'm bagging groceries." I told him I needed the keys to which he replied "I don't have the keys. You do. You drove." I know I had a look of pure horror cross my face. Champs said, "You didn't!" and I, through my hand which I had slapped over my mouth, replied "Oh god, I DID!". I heard Murphy snort.

Hoping I might have left a door open so I could unlatch the trunk, I ran out to the car. The doors were locked, alright, but my keys were not in the trunk in my purse (as Champs and I had surmised), they were swinging merrily from the ignition. I had forgotten to take them out after we made our shopping list! I heard Murphy giggle.

I went back into the store, where Champs had the bright idea that I should use the ATM card and take money out. This was a great idea, so I went to the machine. New problem. See, about a month or so ago, my check card got lost so both of us got new cards. The old cards had a $500.00 per day withdrawal limit. I found out the hard way today that they didn't raise the limit on the new card; it was down to a $200.00 per day withdrawal limit... and we had $277.00 worth of groceries. I heard Murphy chuckle.

At this point, I knew we needed uniformed assistance, so I went to the service desk attendent, who called the community service cops to come out and unluck my car. It took a good 15 minutes for him to show up. The whole time, I was worrying about the ice cream melting. I know I heard Murphy laughing by now.

After the cop came (who, I might add, Sweet Girl hugged 3 times. That girl has no shame), I went back in and wrote a check for our groceries and we were finally able to leave. As we drove away, I could hear Murphy hooting....

I'm gonna find Murphy one of these days and I AM going to hurt him.