Tuesday, October 1, 2013


I had a bit of a flashback this weekend, and it wasn't the good kind. Or drug-induced. My son woke up at 4am screaming out in pain because he couldn't move his leg. He couldn't stretch it out. He couldn't touch his knee. When he tried, he shrieked in pain and tears came streaming down his chubby cheeks. I was able to get him back to sleep for a while, only for him to wake up a couple of hours later feeling no better. He kept insisting that his leg hurt and that he couldn't walk. After getting him out of bed with the help of my hubby, he couldn't even hold his hurt leg up on its own, so crutches were pretty much out of the question. Because of that, Jeff carried him to wherever he needed to go that morning. It's a good thing our house is small.

After a few hours, we went to his sister's soccer game, and Ben stayed in the van for a while...until he decided to get out to say hello to a couple of friends who came to watch Anna play. He tried using the crutches we brought with us, but because he couldn't hold his hurt leg up, he thought he could rest it on his good foot while he shuffled along with his crutches. Combine that off-balance stature with gravel in the parking lot, and you get a stocky 9-year-old splayed out on the ground, unable to stand on his own. We lifted him up and carried him back to the van and drove straight to the "urgent" care center. I use the quote marks because we were there for four looooong hours. After many tears, pain, and x-rays, we were told that nothing significant was showing up on the x-rays. The doctor examined Ben's knee extensively (while Ben cried quietly, not wanting to embarrass himself in front of the doctor) and concluded that he had some swelling, but wasn't sure what could be wrong. He advised us to give him ibuprofen for the inflammation and contact an orthopedic specialist in a few days if things didn't improve.

While some of my Facebook friends prayed for Ben, others gave their advice that it was just growing pains. I will be the first to admit that he can be dramatic and will cry over a splinter. On the other end of the spectrum, his sister could probably have a compound fracture during a soccer game and would insist it's a mere flesh wound and would beg to keep playing. As a mom, it's hard to know sometimes whether to tell a kid to suck it up and rub some dirt on it or when to take him seriously. Generally, after a fall on the playground or a skinned knee on a sidewalk, I tell him to be brave and push through the pain. But the pain in his voice that day made me take notice. And this is where my flashback comes in to play.

When I was 18 years old, I started having pain in my right arm for no apparent reason. I complained about it to a few people, but got little sympathy. There was nothing visibly wrong with me, so what could possibly be hurting me, right? Even my loving sister whom I adore to the moon and back called me a hypochondriac. Fast forward four weeks later, and I was in a St. Louis hospital under the care of an orthopedic specialist who was forming a plan with an oncologist because the early diagnosis was bone cancer. Thankfully, after more testing, it turned out to be a bone infection (which could have killed me had it gone untreated for much longer). So after three surgeries, a broken arm and seven weeks of heavy IV antibiotics, I was cured.

As I listened to Ben scream and wiped his tears, my mind went back to the time when no one would listen to my scared 18-year-old former self. Did I think that, more than likely, nothing was wrong with him? Yes. Did I think that maybe there was a slight possibility that something serious was going on? Most definitely. Which is why I took the precautionary steps I did. For all I knew, this blog could have turned into his own "five more years to live." A day earlier, I had just read an article about a young girl who was diagnosed with bone cancer in her leg; and a fundraiser was happening that Saturday night to help with her medical expenses. Stories like that make mothers take notice.

A good friend of mine told me that she thought Ben was milking the situation on Saturday night at dinner because he said he liked being waited on. Perhaps. But I don't know anyone who doesn't like to be taken care of with a little extra service when they are sick or in pain. It was a few days before Thanksgiving when I had my first surgery on my arm, so my family waited on me that day with anything I needed. And I certainly enjoyed not having to wash dishes or make the fruit salad that year!

Now, three days since the 4am wake-up call, Ben is walking fine without pain. We still don't know what caused his pain. He had fallen on his knees last week after turning a flip around a bar, so that may be why. Maybe he was having horrible growing pains. Or maybe there still is something wrong and it's just hiding from us. At any rate, I'm happy that he isn't crying now when he moves. And Jeff is happy that he doesn't have to carry the big boy from place to place.

Parenthood is so full of "what ifs." Hell, life is full of "what ifs." Sometimes quieting the "what ifs" takes a few hours in an urgent care center. If the alternative is worry and wondering, I will take that kind of silence any day.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Started on #14 tonight

While at Anna's soccer practice, I decided to work on some of my 5-year list. If it were a game, I'd be cheering and jumping up and down from the sidelines...but in practice, I'd look a bit odd doing that while she ran drills. And she'd disown me if I did. So I sat in the shade and made a list of books I wanted to write. The setting wasn't very conducive to actually starting the books. Or an outline for a book. Given the fact that I didn't have a computer or notebook with me kind of hindered that. So...on to another goal. Lucky for me, I have a list of 14 other things that I can work on. Ideally, I'd knock out #7 or #10 this week, but alas, I haven't had a chance to work on that vacation fund just yet. And besides, I still need to accomplish #2, so those items will just have to wait.

I had my phone, so I downloaded the Bible Gateway app and poked around on it. Lo and behold, there was a section for "Reading Plans," and in that section was "New Testament in a Year." What a fabulous tool! I can read a passage every day (and can even set a daily reminder), and in a year, I will have finished the entire New Testament. When I opened the plan, today's excerpt was 1 Corinthians, Chapter 4. I'm no Bible scholar, but I was pretty sure that wasn't the beginning of the New Testament. It took me awhile, but I figured out that if I just set the date to January 1, 2013, it started with Matthew. I'm a freakin' genius! :)

To make it even more interesting, I can choose between 30 versions of the Bible. So if I'm reading the NIV, and I have no idea what I've been reading for the last two paragraphs (which happens quite often...I'm not really a genius), I can switch to the Message version that explains things in a story-like way. And if mine doth feels so inclined, I can take a peek at the King James version. I don't necessarily understand it, but it stretches my brain a bit. Kind of like reading the Spanish version of an instruction booklet when putting a toy together.

So day 1 of reading the New Testament is complete...just 364 more, and I can mark off that goal! And more importantly, I hope to learn to be more like Jesus along the way.

Monday, August 19, 2013

"I wish I would have spent more time on Facebook"....said no one on their death bed. EVER.

How many of us are guilty of looking at our smart phones or computers to check on other people's Facebook statuses (mostly people we hadn't even talked to since high school until Facebook came along) instead of being in the moment with our loved ones? Who among us is addicted to Minecraft (I call it "Minecrack"), Words with Friends, or my husband's favorite, Candy Crush? Do you catch yourself mumbling "uh huh" or answering your child's or spouse's question without even taking your eyes off the screen? (only to forget the details of the conversation later)

I am very much guilty of looking at my phone more than I should to check emails, texts, and Facebook. So is my husband. And guess what...we now have two children who are addicted to their own electronics and will spend hours on end with those gadgets. I know kids have a natural attraction to toys like that, but I'm sure they also learn by what they are exposed to.

If I have just five more years to live, do I want to spend those 1,825 days looking at another stupid cat photo or reading a friend's status that tells me what they're having for supper? Or should I be more in the moment with my friends and family...especially my children and husband? I'm not saying that I need to totally walk away from Facebook because I do enjoy seeing photos of my beautiful great nieces and nephews and reading about accomplishments and funny stories of friends. But I'm pretty sure life will go on if I don't look at those status updates hourly. However, my kids will grow up before my eyes. In five years, they will be 14 and 16. What kinds of things will I miss if I don't give them the attention they deserve? Will Anna not tell me about a bully at school for fear of making me mad if she interrupted me as I answer an email? Will Ben turn to a friend to ask important questions about drugs if he thinks I look too busy? Will my husband feel ignored or lonely when I don't engage him in conversation after the kids go to bed?

Maybe family units were much stronger before electricity when the parents and children worked side by side on the farm or family business without the distractions of today's gadgets and fast-paced lifestyles. They had meals together without sitting in front of the TV. They listened to each other without being interrupted by an incoming text message. They read books to each other, played games together, and loved one another. Kids weren't pulled in different directions with dance classes, music lessons, ball practices, and more. Life was simpler, and perhaps the family bonds were stronger. On the other hand, families may be stronger today with modern technology. It doesn't take all day to wash laundry...leaving more time to spend doing other things with the family. Air conditioning exists, so people aren't hot and grumpy and yelling at each other. And at a moment's notice, you can open the freezer to find your favorite ice cream flavor. The "olden" days had its advantages, and we have ours. But I digress.

In my mind, I have just five more years to live. I don't want to take my last breath wishing I had done things differently.  I'm going to put my phone and computer down more when the kids are around. I will strive to do more important things in my life such as helping others instead of watching the next hilarious video on Facebook. Don't be mistaken...I want to stay in touch with the ones I love near and far...but I will make a concerted effort to curb my electronic addiction. Seriously...I'm sure no one will ever say on their death bed, "I wish I would have made it to level 250 on Candy Crush!" Well, maybe my friend Krista.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Just Five More Years to Live...the first step of my journey.

Recently, it hit me that I've done very little with my life. Oh sure, I'm a mom to two amazing kids and wife to a funny, gifted, loving man. But I feel a twinge of inadequacy when I see people on TV, online and magazines who climb mountains, travel, and decorate their homes for every holiday. Of course, I also see people who seem miserable with their lives in shows like The Real Housewives of Atlanta. I don't necessarily want to be Supermom or go all OCD on my family, trying to shove something into every single minute. I mean come on...I need to have some time for my guilty pleasures such as watching Duck Dynasty or Tattoo Nightmares. But there are 24 hours in every day. Am I really making the most of them all? So I guess what I want is to live my life more like those depicted in photos of Better Homes and Gardens and Travel magazine and less like an episode of Hoarders. Is that too much to ask?

I realize that I will not live forever, and on my death bed I don't want to have regrets about things I never accomplished or experienced. Of course, I don't know when my ultimate demise will be...it could be 3 weeks from now, or 40 years. But, I decided I should take the advice of the popular song, "Live Like You Were Dying." So I'm going to write my own bucket list of experiences I want to have and things I want to accomplish before I die...with the idea that I have just five more years to live. I have a huge list swirling in my mind right now...some things will take a few months, while others may take the entire five years to achieve. I'm sure I will add to this extensive (but by no means "exhaustive") list as seasons pass, and I may not make my goal of achieving everything. But I know that if I don't have starting place, a plan, or an end goal in mind, then I will most definitely be spending my last few breaths wishing I had done all I could to take that trip to Hawaii or learn how to play guitar or publish my best-selling book.

So here it goes. My "Five More Years" list (in no particular order of importance):
  1. Write and publish at least one book.
  2. Fit into size 12 pants again.
  3. Take my kids to the Grand Canyon.
  4. Learn how to play the guitar.
  5. Write a screenplay.
  6. Design (and have printed) a photo album for each year from 2000-2018. (Shutterfly account already created!)
  7. Vacation in Hawaii.
  8. Move to a larger house.
  9. Build my dream backyard oasis in that larger house.
  10. Go on an Alaskan cruise.
  11. Own a convertible.
  12. Teach my son and daughter all the basics of cooking, cleaning, laundry, yard work, and importance of car maintenance.
  13. Write a journal of memories to leave to my kids.
  14. Read the entire New Testament.
  15. Leave a legacy of generosity and service to others.
There you have it...the beginning list of my hopes and dreams for the future. I'm sure I will add more. And I will journal about my milestones along the way during the next five years. The destinations will be thrilling, but the journey will be sublime.