Family life, Paleo-ish eating and Coping with Chronic Illness

Posts tagged ‘Basement’

I’m Not High; I’m Happy.

I am happy.  I am happy to be alive, and happy to wake up, and happy to go to work, and happy to be breathing.  I am just happy.   Happiness isn’t the best subject for a blog.  I know that.   Because, really, life just goes to crap so often, and who wants to read about some annoying lady who is happy? That’s not helping.  That’s kind of boring, and I don’t blame you for saying it.   But, I just gotta call it like I see it.  I’m not good at fake stuff.  You just have to go where you’re led, right?

Lately, I’ve been feeling kind of high.  You might not believe me when I tell you that I’ve never been high, but I’m not joshing ya. I just dealt the stuff, I was never dumb enough to take it. I’ve got a lying problem.  I’m sorry for that.  And, maybe I should try to remember that not everyone who reads my blog is a close friend, or related to me.  Some people might not actually realize that I wouldn’t be a very good crack dealer.  It’s just not my skill set.

What I’m trying to say is just that I think how I feel right now might be what feeling high is like. If  that’s true, I can see why people become addicts.

Last year at this time, life was hard.  I blogged my way through it; thank you for that.  Blogging helps.

Eddie was so sick at this time last year. Really sick.  I don’t want to say we were desperate, but we were desperate.  The whole winter was excruciating, really.  We just kept waiting for a reprieve; we couldn’t seem to find one.  Watching my son’s body be beaten by illness was bad. And, by bad, I mean soul crushing.  Physically, things were a mess.  Mentally, things were worse.  The whole ridiculous battle just felt like too much.

It’s hard watching people you love face pain and hardship. You try to fight for them, but, eventually you realize you really can’t.  They have to fight for themselves.  You watch them fight alone, and you hate it.  You’re not sure they’re strong enough to win. Eventually, they get tired.  They quit believing winning is possible.  They want to quit fighting. You hate it more.  You hate it as much as you’ve hated anything in your life.  You wish you could start from the beginning, but you can’t.  This is your life.

Last year there was a lot of fighting.  Last year there was a lot of me watching my son fight alone.  Last year there was a lot of crying, and wondering just what was so wrong with me trying to fight for him.

Last year, my counselor told me to, “stop”.  He did.  He told me to hand the gloves over to Eddie and to back out of the ring. He told me It was time for me to trust Eddie to fight for himself.   My counselor said this exactly, “A parent can never make something happen for their child by wanting it more than the child does.”

I’m not sure anyone has ever said something I needed to hear more than that.  That sentence from my counselor changed everything.  I’m still not exactly sure how, but my obsession with Eddie’s health, happiness and future, was making Eddie sicker, actually.

I’ve made a lot of dumb mistakes in my life.  I’m sorry for them all.  I’m especially sorry for making Eddie sicker.  I didn’t mean to do that.  This mistake of mine brings tears to my eyes, and fills my heart with regret. I wish I would have known.  But, some things you just can’t know until you know.

I make too many mistakes.  I know I do.  But, I also learn from them.  Once the counselor illuminated the truth, I grabbed it, and I held on to it.  I stopped.  I just stopped everything.  I stopped hovering, and planning, and calculating, and talking and obsessing.  I just quit it all, and quitting it was really hard.

Eddie was born tough.  He really was.  Both my sons are tough.  I’m not bragging.  It doesn’t have anything to do with me. Tough is how God chose to make these two.  My sons like to do battle.  When our boys were pretty little, they’d go down in the basement with Scott,  and their toy swords.  For a half hour or more, I’d hear yelling, laughing and loud THWAPS.    All three boys would eventually emerge upstairs laughing, looking like they had the time of their lives.  All three of them had raised, red welts all over their skin.  See?  Now, I think that is absurd, but boys are weird.  And stuff like that makes me 100 percent sure I’m not one of them.

Eddie likes to do battle.  He’s good at it.  Eddie is resilient and focused, and he won’t go down easy.  He’s much closer to being a man than he is to being a little boy now.  He’s so much better at doing battle than I am. It’s time I let him do it.

Eddie is feeling significantly better than he was last year.  He looks better too.  I’m not sure what’s happening.  We did so many things, maybe one of those things worked like magic.  Or, maybe Eddie is just growing up and away from this thing.  Or, maybe God just decided it was the right time for a reprieve. Or, maybe Eddie is just so much better at battling things on his own.  I don’t know, and I don’t care.  Wait. that’s not true.  I do care, and I would like to know.  But, not knowing does not lower my inner happy.  My inner happy is through.the.roof.

I guess you wouldn’t know how good it feels to come up for air, if you were never drowning.  Pain, sickness and hardships make peace so, so much sweeter.  I’m thankful for that.  I don’t know what tomorrow holds, but I’m embracing today.  I’m happy.


Remodeling, Buddah and a Mustache

Do you remember that I told you we are finishing our basement?  That crap is crazy.  I haven’t been paying attention to the progress because life.  Yesterday, Zeke told me I should go down and look.  Wow. I guess I still just can’t believe it.  All the framing is up, and I can actually see the rooms.  This is happening.   I’m glad I remembered to take “before” pictures.  I hope you didn’t think you’d be spared the before and after pictures.  You KNOW those are coming.  This is what our basement looked like a couple of weeks ago:


Hard to believe it will look better than this


Here’s what I think might happen:

basement remodel

Can’t wait for this!

It will be so cool to have a real bar for Scott to serve me up my bourbon on the rocks after work.  Yeah.  You caught me.  There won’t be a bar, because we’re us.

There will be a living room, bedroom, bathroom and a place for a wrestling mat.  But, won’t our guests think we’re sophisticated when we ask them to join us for a drink on the mat?

I’ve decided I’m not really designed for project management.  Scott is.  He won’t admit it, but this basement thing is his baby.  He says things to me  like this, “The door to the boys’ bedroom is going to have to be shorter, because of the air duct.  The carpenter wants to know if we want the bathroom door to be the same size as the door to the boys’ room, or standard. What do you think?”

I’ll say, “Hmm…” then give it a few moments to pretend like I have on opinion.  Then, I’ll say, “Well,maybe we should have both doors the same size.”

Then, Scott says, “Well, I was thinking the bathroom door should be standard.  Why have it shorter, if it isn’t necessary?”

Then, I say, “Yep. That.  That’s what I think too.”

Being married a long time is awesome.  After a while, you finally start to understand your spouse’s unspoken words.  Like, I know now that when Scott says something doesn’t matter to him, that usually isn’t true.  Especially if we’re talking about things in our house.  He actually has very specific opinions.  He’s just not a guy who likes to be over bearing, and blather on about things.  He’s hesitant to own his instincts.  I’ve asked him stop that.  His instincts are tremendous.  I mean,  he married me.  Enough said.

Every decision Scott has made regarding a home improvement has been solid.  I can’t say the same for myself.  The truth is, I get really bored with making decisions.  I can’t conceptualize very well, so when someone is explaining the options to me, I just lose interest.  I say something like, “Yeah.  The first thing you said.  Let’s do that.”

Then, I see the end product (like our living room carpet) which I have chosen, and I think, yuck. Why did I choose that? Too late.

The answer is, because I couldn’t  stop day dreaming for 5 minutes to let some poor bugger finish his spiel.  I hastily chose the first thing I saw.

Scott likes to think it all through, and consider the advantages of every option.  He really takes his time about it. Oh man, does he take his time.

The quickest way for Scott to clear the room in our house, is to ask who wants to go to the home improvement store with him.  We all run for cover.  If Scott is replacing 50 cent outlet covers, you can believe you will be standing in the outlet aisle with him discussing the advantages and disadvantages of white verses beige outlets for 30 minutes, maybe more. It’s tedious.

When it comes down to deciding what you want on the walls, or which cushions to throw on the couch, come talk to me.  I’m more interested in the important stuff.

I get it.  I have limited intelligence, and a limited attention span.

Zeke is a miniature version of Scott.  They really get each other.    It has been a very, very long time since Zeke has asked me for help with his homework.  He’s nice about it, but it’s silently understood that he left me behind in 4th grade.

Last night, Scott was doing his crossword puzzle.  He asked me what a four letter word was for a Hindu God.   I gave him the obvious answer, “Buddha”.  I know.  That’s six letters, and probably the wrong religion, but I don’t think you need to be nit-picky about it.

Zeke said, “No, Mom.  That is Buddhism.  Hinduism is a polytheistic religion.  The answers is Rama.”

I asked Zeke, “Where did you learn that?”

He said, “I don’t know.  I just remembered it.”

I told Zeke, “Well, here’s something else you might want to remember.  No one likes a show off.”

And THAT, my friends,  is what you call a teachable moment.  I might put it in my book on how to be an awesome parent. Until then, I’m just gonna hand that kind of advice out for free.  You’re totally welcome.

And on another random note, do you ever get your eyebrows waxed?  Most of us women do.  I get it done 3 or 4 times a year.

Recently, I went to a salon to have them done, and there was new person to help me.  She was young and beautiful. When she was done with my eyebrows she said, “Now do you want me to do your mustache?”

What the?

I told this precious, precious young lamb of God, that the thing is I’ve never had my “mustache” waxed.  And, the reason for that is I do not HAVE a mustache.

She stared at me.

I said, “Fine.  Do it.”

She was gleeful.  “You’re going to love this.  Just wait until I show you the strip with all the hair on it.”

I said, “Yep.  I’m gonna go nuts over that.”

Owwwww!!!!  Mother of…that hurts.

“See?” She said.  She put the strip in front of my face.  “Look at all those hairs.  You really needed that.”

When I was done with the waxing and my hair cut, I checked out.  At this salon you pay your bill, and then you leave the tip in a separate envelope, and put the envelope through a medal slot.  I put my tip in the envelope, and wrote a few words of encouragement on the outside for the young eyebrow/mustache waxing lass.

“You suck!”

Because she does.  She really does.  I didn’t know I had a mustache.


I keep thinking of the word duplicity.  Here’s what it means:
1. contradictory doubleness of thought, speech, or action;especially :  the belying of one’s true intentions by deceptive words or action.
2. the quality or state of being double or twofold
I was going to describe my behavior with the word duplicity; I know that I am two things at that same time.  I don’t think I’m all deceptive about it though.   I’m the second definition: I’m straight up about my duplicity.
Scott and I have made a HUGE decision.  It occurs to me that this would be a fun place to write something outrageous.  Something to really capture your interest (ie divorce/sex change/joining the circus).  Nothing cool like that happens around here. So, I’ll just tell you the truth.
We have decided to hire professional people to finish our basement.
This is monumental.  We are extending ourselves more than I’d like.  We’ve talked about it, prayed about it, thought about it, and now it’s done.  Well, not the basement, but the extending ourselves part.  This is a calculated risk we’ve decided to take.  As long as the economy doesn’t crash, or we  don’t all contract Ebola, odds are this risk will not take us under.  It might be a risk that will at some point, give us a return on our investment.  Maybe.
So, that’s scary.
We meant to finish the basement ten years ago, when we moved in our cute house; a bad roof, bathroom, central air and sick kid later, we decided we’d just have to make do.  For several years, Eddie and Zeke were sleeping in the basement.  We worked hard to make the basement look as nice as possible.  If I put a wig and clothes on my dog, would you think he’s a human?  No.  An unfinished basement is, really, always still an unfinished basement.
Last year, we moved Eddie upstairs to see if it might make him feel better, and to get him closer to the bathroom.  Lo and behold his little brother wasn’t keen on staying in the basement by himself.  Zeke’s been sleeping on the floor upstairs for almost a year.  Here’s his bed:

Zeke’s Bed

So.  That’s our story.  We’re doing it.  We’re putting a bedroom, three-quarters bath and a living space in the basement.  We’ve been cleaning out the basement in preparation.  Last week Zeke and I were talking about how this thing is going to look.  I wish I could have recorded the look on his face when I told him he was going to have a bed, and be a short distance from the new downstairs bathroom.  He could hardly believe it.
Then he asked, “What about our clothes?  Will we still keep them all in the laundry room?”
I said, “No.  You will have a closet, Zeke.  A real closet.  You’ll have a dresser too.  All of it will be in your room.”
Zeke was amazed at this news.  Like, he thought he won the lottery.  I loved that moment.  I felt happy to see Zeke get so excited, and to realize we were doing something that would improve his quality of life.  Then, we both laughed.  We realized that the level of excitement we have about a closet might be weird.  Of course, I couldn’t resist pointing out that the level of excitement he had was his parents’ gift to him.
I said, “What if you’d just had a closet your whole life?  You wouldn’t even know a closet was something to be grateful for, right? So, yeah.  You’re welcome, kiddo.”
He shook his head at me.
So, we’re doing all this, and one part of me is glad, and thinks it’s right.  And, one part of me feels bad, and thinks it’s wrong. .  We might just be getting caught up in it all.   Tricking ourselves into thinking we need “stuff” to be happy.
I have this gentle friend from church who grew up in a third world country very far away.  Her parents are in their 80’s now.  Her parents worked their entire adult lives on translating the Bible into the tribal language of the people they served.  Her parents’ bodies are frail now, but recently they took a risky trip to this distant land to deliver the finally completed Bibles.  These missionaries weren’t about to pass up an opportunity to cross the finish line.
This same gentle friend has a young daughter who is also now a missionary. She’s in Guatemala.  I read her blog this week.  She thinks  the Guatemalans have a culture that emphasizes gratitude.  She explains that they have customs and language to express their gratitude. She can’t find an equivalent counterpart for these customs in the United States. Then, she talks about how the children she works with name what they are grateful for: learning, school, food, etc.
See?  They’re not spoiled. No one mentioned closets.
I read this sweet girl’s blog, and I  envied her.   She is not one bit confused about what is  necessary and what is indulgence.  I thought maybe I would like to work in the world she describes some day, where there’s no confusion.   A place where family, food, shelter and education are revered as life’s greatest blessings.
I sent the blog to Scott.  He emailed back and said he longs for a simpler life, serving others. He said maybe we could do this kind of work when the kids are older.  
I  replied, “Did you really just say that?  I was thinking the same thing.”

Katie and her Guatemalan friends

So, that’s an idea.  We’ve had that idea before, when we were young.  We went as far as talking to people in a Guatemalan orphanage about how they could use us.  The answers didn’t seem very clear.  Then, roofs, kids, and basements made us forget. I’m starting to remember now.
I bought a print to put on the wall in our house. I’m going to frame it and put it up by the door when all of remodeling is done.  Scott and I were looking for something that would be like a blessing for the kids as they walked out the door.  Normally, I’m kind of hasty about choosing home decor.  Not this time.  I searched and searched the interwebs.  I wanted something that would almost be like our family motto.  I found it:
In everything give thanks - 1 Thessalonians 5:18 - Typography Wall Art - 8 x 10 or larger print - inspirational quote Bible verse

Family Motto

 I showed Scott the poster online.  He said, “Yep. That’s it.That’s the one.”
We liked this verse.  We know that every time our children walk out our door, we lose our ability to protect them.  They will experience disappointment, hurt, rejection, jealousy and anger.  We can’t stop those things from happening.
If our kids have this verse hidden in their hearts, and they believe it and practice it, they will be content in all circumstances.  It won’t occur to them to feel sorry for themselves.   I can’t think of a better family motto than that.

Why I’ve Been Acting Like a Brat:

I’ve been acting like a brat lately.  Well, maybe I haven’t been acting like a brat, but I’ve been thinking like a brat.

I’ve told you about our sweet little ranch style home that we live in, right?  I like our home a lot. A few  years ago, we put an offer on a larger, newer, nicer home.  There’s no reason in the world that I should not have been excited about moving into that home.  I wasn’t.  I was relieved when the deal fell apart.  I was just going through the motions, because I knew Scott liked that home.  It was nice. Who wouldn’t?

I’ve never yearned for a large home.  I remember when I was in college and I saw my first really upscale neighborhood.  This wasn’t small town upscale, this was big city upscale.  We were in a suburb of Atlanta.

The homes were beautiful and huge.  My girlfriends and I were impressed.  I didn’t tell them then what I was thinking; I didn’t really understand it myself.   I was thinking that I was happy for the people who lived in those beautiful homes, but for some reason I never wanted one of my own.

My favorite home in our town is one that I walk by in the early morning every day.  This home is a Cape Cod style cottage.  The exterior is made of large white and gray stone.    The home is extremely well maintained.   You can tell the owners pay great attention to detail: pretty planters in all seasons, welcoming patio furniture in the summer and nothing is ever out of place.  I love all that, but what I love even more is the cute little retired couple that I always see sitting in the 4-seasons patio in the morning.  The lamp is always on in there.  Their pretty dog lies between them while they read.  She usually has a book, and he reads the paper.  Doesn’t that sound nice?

One of these mornings I’m going to knock on their window.  When they look up, I’m going to yell through the glass, “Can I come in?  My house is a mess and we’re all on top of each other over there.  I really think I’d like it better in there by you.”

Don’t you think that will be a nice surprise for them?  People just don’t take time to visit the elderly much anymore.

cape cod

I like small houses, but lately I’ve been thinking that I get why people live in big ones.  We’ve lived in our house for 10 years.  From the beginning we have planned on finishing the basement.  A whole bunch of real life stuff has prevented that  from happening.

The basement has some paneling up now, but that’s about it.   We’ve done our best to make it feel like it’s finished with some paint and remnant carpeting, but you can only dress up a turd so much.   I know.  I’m pushing it a little far, but remember I said I was kind of being a brat?  That’s how a brat talks.

Unfinished basements are kind of like turds.  They smell bad. You just don’t care much for looking at them. And, you really don’t want to hang out in them.   We have a game system in our basement, wrestling mats and our ping pong table.  We go down there to play some games and do laundry; we don’t linger.

I would guess we exist in about 1200 square feet of living space.  NORMALLY that is fine.   But lately I’ve been thinking that it isn’t.  By lately, I mean since the start of this year’s NFL Draft.

Scott and Zeke are sports information junkies.  ESPN is successful because of guys like them. Scott and Zeke can NOT know enough about the sports they like, and the people who play them.

You may not realize it, but while you weren’t paying attention the NFL Draft has turned into this big, long, drawn-out and televised production.  That means for days and days there are men (mostly) sitting around hashing over the ins and outs of all the prospective players, and how to make the best picks.  I promise you not as much talk has gone into how to create world peace, as how to choose the right football players.


The detail these guys go into on this Draft thing  is mind blowing.   These guys talk around. the. clock.  They NEVER run out of things to say.  And that fact right there, is the source of my bratiness.

We have one TV that I watch.  Don’t even tell me to go watch in the turd.  I’m not doing it. And I’m sure as heck  not watching in the office-slash-Eddie’s-bedroom.  Eddie has a knack for leaving rotten banana peels under his pillow.  His socks can  be cracked in half by the time they make it to the laundry room.   You would need to sign a waiver before I’d let you go in that area of our house.

I can’t watch a darn thing, because every moment I’m home, Scott and Zeke are listening to and watching the latest released information on the corner back from Texas who may or may not have suffered a recent knee injury. Blaach!

In our house you can not say, “shut up”.   Saying shut up in our home is the equivalent of dropping the “F” bomb.  Well, guess what kids?  In my head, I’m telling the NFL Draft guys to SHUT UP.  SHUT THE HECK UP!   SHUT UP RIGHT NOW!!!!   I don’t know how you could possibly  still be talking about this boring subject.  Why do people care?  I don’t.  I don’t care the tiniest bit, and I only want you to, for once in your life…be quiet.  Stop talking.  Please.  Stop it.

As soon as Scott and Zeke leave the living room, I put the TV on mute.  I feel instant, physical relief.  It’s like I was being pinched before.  I hear the silence and I’m instantly pain free. That is why I’ve been thinking about big houses.  In a big house you probably have a place to escape the NFL Draft.

Another time I’ve been feeling bratty is in the morning.  We have one full bathroom.  It’s small, but it’s nice.  Then we have a half bath between our room and the living room; the room where the NFL Draft folks hang out, making the world a better place.

During the wrestling season I usually am out the door with the dog in the morning before Scott wakes up.   When I get back, Scott is gone.  We don’t cross paths.  Lately we’ve been crossing paths.

The other morning we were both in our small half bath.  We were jockeying for position in front of the small sink.  I am almost sure that he was hogging more than his fair share.  There is a chance he’d say I was  doing the same.  Scott asked me,  “since when do you use my bathroom in the morning?”

Where’s a girl to start with that?   I told him  I have been using this bathroom all year.  I said he didn’t know it, because he was still sleeping.   Then I said it must be nice to live a life of leisure and sleep in every morning (5:45 AM).  Because that’s how you hit Scott below the belt, you imply that he could try harder…at anything.

Then I told him that I was not aware that it was his bathroom, but we certainly could look into putting his name on the door.  See?  I’m just feeling bratty all the way around.

Now that the Draft is over,  we can resume our normal lives.    Or, maybe I’ll keep feeling bratty and tell Scott there’s a week long “Real Housewives” marathon that I have to watch.  I’ll assure him that there will be plenty of commentary to enjoy.  It will be very detailed, and  in depth.  I’ll tell him he’s welcome to watch with me, or feel free to hang out in Eddie’s room or in the turd.  We’ll let him be a brat for a while.

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