What Happened Next

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

December has been an eternity wrought with pain, sickness, and a multitude of blessings.

As long as I live on this earth, I will never forget the sound of my sister's voice telling me over the phone that her daughter had just been diagnosed with leukemia. What has felt like a lifetime in some sort of alternate reality has only been 23 days since that Sunday afternoon. As a family, we held our breaths until we knew which leukemia she had, which translates in its most reductive form, into the odds of her survival. Not to mention, the preservation or obliteration of every dream we've had for a lifetime with these three little girls we love so completely. It is acute lymphoblastic leukemia, and she is in the high risk category due to a genetic component. Three words, this ALL diagnosis, that can never translate into any measurement of her suffering every day during treatment or give a finite amount of tears that will fall or even begin to cover the true depth of this collective familial heart break.

While I have desperately wanted to be at my sister & niece's side down at Vanderbilt, my household cannot get or stay well long enough for me to be able to. I had a respiratory virus with a bad cough when she was diagnosed and as soon as I could get through a night without coughing my head off, Kindred came down with a stomach virus that has lasted longer than any stomach virus I had ever heard of prior to this one. If it weren't so incredibly frustrating, I would laugh at the absurdity of it all. We are never this sick. How could we be this sick now, when it is crucial that we be well? I think about how frightened I was to have a baby during the flu season, when so many family members were sick. And, I think about my sister now and how terrifying it must be to hear of so many cases of flu, strep, stomach and various respiratory viruses circulating our region now. If ever there was a case for constructing 'the bubble'...surely Naiya is the perfect candidate for its first occupant.

So, that's where we are now and a little of what happened next.


Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Our world is forever changed.
My niece has leukemia. 

Lil' Babywearin' Mama

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Halloween 2017

Wednesday, November 01, 2017
We have Trick or Treated in our small hometown since Dylan was toddler. We only missed out on a few years due to moving away and him getting too old while Kindred was too young. Besides the close proximity to my family, this tradition is my favorite thing about living here. 

On to the pics!

Kindred wanted to be Ariel, Tinkerbell, and finally settled on a Witch once she found out her two cousins were going as witches. We dressed the girls in a theme (Wizard of Oz) last year, but this year we didn't consult each other. Ash decided on a witch for Naiya. Nova wanted to be Winifred Sanders but settled on a light-up witch costume. When Kindred jumped on board..err, on broom, I put her costume together from a couple different stores. Michael's for her hat, Once Upon a Child for the jacket & ruffled shirt, my striped socks, and the tutu from her Lightning Bolt costume a couple of years ago. It turned out so cute...except the hat was slightly too big and kept coming off. So, we just kind of ditched it toward the end. Didn't seem as necessary once she started calling herself 'Skeleton Girl' anyway. The interesting thing was that none of us knew what kind of witch the other was planning...but all three girls had purple as the accent color in their costumes. Ha! Sister magic...

Eye on the prize, Kindred...Nova better watch her candy closely.

Let it be known in the future that In The Time Of Now, I was a very happy mama...

I can remember taking Kat when she was younger than Nova. Where does the time go?

Speaking of time...Dylan came along, as a typical teen with an iPhone. But, in my mind's eye, I can still see him as a Ninja Turtle, a Spiderman, a Batman...walking these same sidewalks.

This was Kindred's last house. The next one, she told her daddy "I have enough candies. Let Nova have it." You know, the Top 1% in our country could learn so much about humanity from the giving heart of a child...

So, that was our Halloween and a good time was had by all... I can't believe how lucky we are that this is how it all turned out. How blessed.

Dear Daughter,

Monday, October 23, 2017

After we met up with your cousins and finished walking the Scarecrow trail, you said you were just out of energy. Then, you fell asleep in the car on our way to the grocery store. I did all my shopping like this. Sometimes I had to hold your face in my hand as I reached for an item. I wanted to just stop and alternate studying and kissing your sweet little face as you slept. Moments like these are so precious to me. I love you, Kicky-Girl.

Scarecrow Trail

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

A spontaneous meet-up of my sisters, nieces, and mama earlier this week. Does our pumpkin patch look sincere enough for the Great Pumpkin to visit us? We had such a good time chasing the girls down the scarecrow/pumpkin trail. Moments like these are quite a blessing, no?

Even though I want so badly to travel and fall in love with a new place better suited for our family's personal beliefs & interests, I am aware of just how lucky three sisters were in having these three little girls at practically the same time. With our age gaps, we didn't get the closeness we see unfolding in Kindred, Nova, and Naiya. Moving away someday leaves me feeling very conflicted.

For now, I am just going to enjoy the present moment and see where life/fate takes us... There may never be a place quite like home. Who knows?

The Big Six-Oh

Monday, September 18, 2017

Because he managed to survive a significant blockage & stent placement last week, my dad lived to see 60 on Saturday. I took him to dinner at the iconic Loveless Cafe in Nashville, after I spent a week lecturing him on diet. We both passed on the fried chicken, but we did try their famous biscuits. And, they are indeed the most delicious biscuits I have ever eaten in my life. I don't even want to know what the nutritional facts label would look like because the butter content is obviously very, very high. Just, don't ruin it for me.

If you aren't from around here, a little history on the cafe: Lon & Annie Loveless started their restaurant outside Nashville on Hwy 100 back in 1951. After awhile, they built a surrounding 14 room motel which is now an assortment of gift shops. You can buy food stuffs like preserves, country ham, etc. You can buy touristy stuffs like tshirts, keychains, and a variety of merch emblazoned with 'Got Biscuits?' You can even have a wedding reception in a fancy barn they've added out back.

 The Loveless is about a 15 minute drive from downtown Nashville. It is located along a winding country road that takes you into the hills and offers only a peek of the Nashville skyline between the trees. Judging by the signed pictures on the walls, just about every musician from Nashville plus those American Pickers guys have been there. The decor is cute & kitschy. We really enjoyed it.

 Under doctor's orders, Bill couldn't really party like it was 1979 but we did drive down Broadway to see what the crowd was up to. It was the typical Nashville scene...various revelers, lots of honky tonking, an overly intoxicated bachelorette party being loaded into a waiting cab by a Nashville police officer, and somebody robbed the Subway nearby.

 I did run into Elvis again. For some reason, it's a thing that happens to me.

My dad is the stuff legends are made of. I desperately want to sit down with a recorder and write a book about him & his four brothers. They did the 70s & 80s BIG. I have memories of seeing them roll up my aunt's driveway in an assortment of muscle cars and Harley Davidson motorcycles. I do not know how I share DNA with this group because I have never had the intestinal fortitude to brave even half of what they did.

Dad has so many good stories, mostly incriminating and would no doubt turn my Aunt Enola's hair white from the shock. I don't know how he survived it all, but I'm thankful that he did! He's a character, that Bill. I'm lucky to know him.

This Little Light of Mine

Monday, September 11, 2017

...has recently stopped saying 'hashbrows' for eyebrows. But, she still says 'Kamp you' for 'Thank you' and there's no sign of that slowing down. She loves to play dress-up and has recently discovered the joy of clip-on earrings. She asks to get into my jewelry box and goes right for the same ring of my grandmother's that I always asked to play with. She is both a girly girl and 'I am woman; hear me roar!'. 

Oh, how I love her.

My Darlin Clementine

Saturday, September 09, 2017

In the fall of 2006, I drove to Paris, Tennessee to rescue a Chinese Crested female puppy. I named her Clementine and she was the quirkiest, funniest little creature I had ever known. I am her human, and I'm not sure anyone has ever loved me the way that Clem does. She wound up being half-Chinese Crested & half-Chihuahua so she is smaller than a pure CC. She has a sweet mullet on her head and little cuffs of fur around her feet, but she is gray & white skin everywhere else. So, we always pack a sweater in the winter or keep her in the shade during summer. 

We've been on many adventures together, but the times I've enjoyed the most have been just lounging around together. Her cuddled up by my side.

Clem has zero patience for our other dog, Bella, as they had a falling out in 2012.
But, she's cool with the cat.

Clementine lost her vision in a short period of time a couple of years ago. So, we try to keep her on a routine she feels safe with. I will be wearing her in a doggy sling when she shows me she can no longer figure out where she is. She'd do the same for me...


Monday, August 28, 2017

This morning, everything is gray and I can't find my computer mouse.

The probability it is in Dylan's room is so high that I don't even bother trying anywhere else. I open his door quietly, though Kindred has Masha & The Bear on blast in the living room. He doesn't even stir, as bedtime was probably so late that it was actually early. Almost immediately, I see the mouse on the dresser, but I linger to get a better look at him. It still seems impossible that he is grown. I search his face for the little boy he was, but instead I just see both his father and mine. They are there in the eyebrows, the cheekbones, the scar above his left eye. I don't even remember how he got that one, but he spent his childhood climbing everything. Pushing boundaries, ever the prankster, those qualities are theirs as well. I wipe a curl back off his forehead and he furrows his brow. Slowly, I back out of his room before I wake him.

Nothing was conventional about his arrival in my life. I was induced over a three day period which concluded with about four mega-contractions taking me from a 7 to 10. It was a brutal 20 minutes that brought him earthside. Within minutes of his birth, I was told words like "heart murmur" and "immediate transport to Vanderbilt NICU in Nashville". Those words did not make sense. I hadn't even gotten to really hold him yet, how did I already break him? When the ambulance arrived, they wheeled his incubator in so that I could see him before they left. Wires attached him were hooked to monitors that spoke an indecipherable language of beeps to the professionals. And, suddenly, it was time for him to go. I howled as my Grandma laid her body over mine to hold me. My heart, no longer confined to my chest, was on its way south. My mama was going with him, which brought minimal comfort. I wanted to be there with him more than anything I had ever wanted in my life. So much so that early the next morning, I woke up, got out of bed and, once again, started packing my stuff up to be with Dylan. When my nurse said I couldn't leave until the Dr came to check me out, I informed her that he had best to hurry it up because I was still leaving. I didn't even bother with getting my prescriptions filled, which meant that I walked in six inch painful shuffles. But, eventually, I made it to his side. And, we spent our first night together on a couch bed in a guest waiting room at Vandy.

In truth, we've grown up together since then. It has been through many trials & tribulations. Thankfully, he just rolls with it. Dylan is a true Gemini. I am a Gemini rising, so it helps that I speak his language. Unfortunately, sometimes that language comes in fiery outbursts. Primarily because he is more me than I am prepared to deal with. I feel for my husband...stubborn, stable Taurus...holding the pillars of the house up as fire(me) & gusts of air(dylan) invite chaos around him. We once had a British neighbor, who has been around the world a few times, and he told us that Dylan would be really going places in this life. He said Dylan had that spark one needs to get out there and really live...a curiosity, a thirst, and a genuine personality. I believe him, wholeheartedly. If we can only get young Gemini to focus his energy. 

Back to present day...life has interrupted me as I attempted to put these thoughts down. So, at this moment, Dylan and Kindred are in the play room. She is building a tower of blocks, but having some engineering difficulties, and he has offered to help her several times. The tiny Goat refuses. I hear him ask softly, "Will you just let me help you?" and she, uhh, well...she just blew a raspberry at him and kicked him out of the room. He paces around a few minutes. "Can I come back in here now?" is immediately met with "NO! You're still in trouble." The entire exchange feels more like a continuance of a time gone by. It will be an interesting relationship to watch, these two.

Though I have been begging him to keep his feet on the ground since he gained upward mobility, he's the wildcard. And, I knew he would be before we even met. 

Recent Epiphanies

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

I have not been feeling well this summer.

It started about mid-June. I suddenly felt slightly dizzy and nauseous all the time. Not pregnant! But, I had gotten both a new phone (Google Pixel, woot woot) and new glasses. So, I'd attempt alternating abstinence from each in hopes of nailing down the culprit. Unfortunately, I suck at that. My new glasses were cute and scratch free. My phone was a new toy, of course I'd play with it. Wash, rinse, repeat. By about mid-July I realized that on some days I could use my phone or wear my glasses with little to no consequence. Some days I did neither, yet wound up feeling terrible. And then...the headaches started. I am very fortunate to never have suffered from recurring headaches. I know this now more than ever. There were days when they got scary painful and my head felt like it was in a vice. So much pressure! Not to mention, anxiety had already taken over my thoughts. I spent about two weeks suffering silently from an unshakable feeling that I was terribly sick and would not be here to raise Kindred. It was the worst, even though I would interrupt the thoughts with "This is anxiety. This is not real." I still felt pretty immobilized by fear.

A couple of weeks ago, after waking up to a slight fullness in my left ear, I made an appointment with my practitioner. We tested hormone levels, ran a full blood panel work up, and discovered that I was running a fever. Aha! So, it must be some type of infection. Mentally, I began my descent from the top of Worry Mountain. It was low-grade, 100.3. She asked if I was feeling worse than I had been recently, but I wasn't. My head had started pounding in the waiting room, but that had become typical. She checked my left ear and saw no infection. I started climbing back up the mountain. She looked in my right ear and saw a little more fluid, so perhaps fluid is trapped in my left inner ear. We agreed to meet again, same time, same place in a week. After that, pending test results, we would talk MRI as sudden onset headaches can signify some trouble, she said. I confessed to having googled. She was very kind and told me that we all do it.

Once I got home, I began researching inner ear infections. Turns out, they are very different from what we are used to feeling when we have classic middle ear infections symptoms. With the inner ear it is more common to feel dizziness, headaches, anxiety, and fullness in ear without pain. And, it can last for a couple of months! I remembered that in early June, I had a bad summer cold. It was a couple weeks later that the dizziness started. I felt so much relief in that moment. Fluid from the cold was probably trapped in my inner ear. I started taking colloidal silver and Vitamin C. I was taking my temperature regularly to pinpoint if headache meant fever, and indeed it did. For the three days leading up to the appointment, I felt much better. But, on appointment day as I drove to the office, my head began to pound and fever registered 100.4. I told her about the summer cold I'd remembered. She went over my test results and that nothing had stood out as being terribly wrong. Her feeling was that a viral inner ear infection had gone bacterial. So, I'm on an antibiotic & Zyrtec as the colloidal silver was just not strong enough. I am feeling much better and only one headache has sidelined me since I started meds. Hopefully, all symptoms will subside soon. If not, we may have to get in there and drain the fluid, but I will still take that as getting off the hook easy. Score one for western medicine!

My epiphany lies in coming back home to how all we really have is the present moment. The anxiety was terrible, except that it served as a reminder of how precious time with my children is. How nothing else really mattered but them. I was reminded of how much I love my life and the people, the books, the scenery, the seasons, the songs that I am blessed by. My phone made me dizzier, so I didn't pick it up as often. There is no question that I was less distracted because of that. I was determined to go out and do things even though I felt bad, which made me appreciate how good I've had it in this healthy body I was gifted at birth. I haven't been able to do yoga in a really long time because going upside down would make the room spin around me, so that has been a bummer. But, I have still been able to get out and do other things I loved. Like, celebrating my son's girlfriend's birthday with the BEST CHAI TEA I HAVE EVER HAD IN MY LIFE. Feeling bad, and fearing worse, really made me prioritize my life. I stopped getting on Facebook regularly. I was reminded to love and take care of this body I am in. As I have felt better over the past week, I started falling back into bad habits...politics on Facebook, eating the devil's delicious lemon sugar cookies, etc. But, the eclipse yesterday reminded me to stay mindful of my energy. We are all living through weird, trying, disheartening times...but, we are still living! Can we wake up in the morning and smile about that? Really tune into our senses as the day goes on and joyfully experience the sensation of being alive!?! This is my renewed intention...


Monday, August 21, 2017

Well, I must say... It lived up to the hype. 
The eclipse was a certainly a sight to behold, wasn't it?
As the sun and moon held their holy meeting in the sky, I could not help but feel like the small, ephemeral being I am. We know so very little about life, as humans. Our entire momentary existence is spent on a speck of stardust in an infinite Universe. As we go about our lives, governed by so many forces unseen, we lose sight of that. So, for me, peeking out into the heavens brought a little insight. 

Since we are nearby the point of greatest eclipse, Hopkinsville, we enjoyed over two minutes of darkness. It wasn't really a blackout, more like dusk popping in at midday. Discombobulated insects kicked up their nighttime symphony and the temperature dropped noticeably. When it was safe for all of us to look up, I believe our minds were blown. 

It was a magical experience and I'm grateful humanity had a moment to stop and marvel at something collectively. 


Saturday, August 12, 2017

How's it goin'?

Nighttime Spencer's Run

Friday, August 11, 2017

Is It Just Me...

Monday, August 07, 2017

...or, are these two absolutely freakin' adorable?

Family Bonding

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Playground Fun

Friday, August 04, 2017

Scenes From A Thursday

Thursday, July 27, 2017