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

Posts tagged ‘Parents’

Losing my Brain Power, and the Awesomeness Hall-of-Fame

I went out for dinner with some girlfriends last week.  While we were eating, I got a call from Zeke.  He wanted to know when his appointment was to get his hair cut.  I couldn’t remember.  I made the appointment that morning.  I had to call the hair stylist to confirm the time during dinner. I called Zeke back to let him know.

After that conversation with Zeke, I must have had a bad look on my face.  My friends looked a little worried.  I told them that there was a tiny chance I was experiencing some disease related memory loss.  Jumping to conclusions always seems like the best course of action.  I’m good at it.

I do worry.  Lately, I’ve become weary of my brain’s shortcomings.  It’s hard being me.  I just don’t know any other adult women who lose mittens daily, forget the names of common objects with such annoying regularity, and more often than not have the wrong time and date.  For everything.  I’m really not trying to be cute when this stuff happens.  I just haven’t figured out how to correct myself.

I must have looked genuinely nervous (I was) after my call with Zeke, because my friends jumped in to comfort me.  I told them that I was just forgetting so many things lately.  I was kind of losing trust in myself.

My friends all said, of course, they forget things all the time too.  I have so much on my mind, I couldn’t possibly be expected to remember every hair cut appointment.  They’re the best lying friends a girl could have.

I was worrying about this fading memory of mine some more on my way to work the next morning.  By the time I got to work I was thinking this:  my brain might be losing power, but it is still serviceable.  You know why I thought that?  Because I made a list.  I wrote down everything my brain had permitted me to do by the time I sat down at my desk at 8:10 that morning.  Here it is:

1. Made a Doctor appointment for Zeke

2. Arranged for a friend to take Zeke to that Doctor’s appt

3. Arranged a ride for Olivia to her basketball tournament the next day

4. Arranged for someone to feed and walk Reggie when we were all gone on Saturday

5. Called my parents to make sure they know that if they’d like to watch the kids participate in athletics, and the weather turns bad, they’re welcome to stay in our newly refinished basement

6. Sent a group text to some friends with a message I thought was funny

7. Put some nonsense on Facebook

That’s not terrible.  And, I didn’t include  getting ready, making my bed, packing a lunch and walking Reggie. I think I could do that stuff without brain power, right? So, I thought maybe that stuff didn’t deserve to make the list.  Believe me.  I wanted to put it on there.  That’s why I told you about it any way.

I had to make this list.  I had to reassure myself that my brain still works, because I really need my brain.  My clients and family need it too.

The list made me feel a little better.  But, not much.

The other thing that’s on my mind is awesome people.  I love awesome people.  Awesome people should be celebrated.  Here’s today’s awesome people list:

Ellie and Austin

Ellie and Austin are sweet and funny kids.  Their family is involved in the wrestling program, and that’s lucky for us.  I’ve posted Facebook messages about Ellie’s little brother, Austin.    Austin is one of Scott’s good friends.  Austin told  Scott to PLEASE keep coaching until Austin was done with high school.  Austin’s convincing argument was, “You can’t just wet me westle for a stwanger.”  Which, of course, is true.

Scott gave Austin the business this summer, because Austin was going to miss a summer school wrestling class for some kind of event at the fair. This event included cake, which Austin said was the best part.  Scott made sure to let Austin know that the least Austin could do was bring Scott back a piece of cake.  Austin didn’t.  Instead, he brought Scott an entire cake.  Austin delivered this cake to our front door.  He made it himself. From scratch.

Ellie is Austin’s sister, and she is my friend.  Sometimes I sit by Ellie at wrestling meets, and she makes me laugh.  Not like, “Oh.  I’m laughing to be nice, because you’re a kid and you’re supposed to be nice to kids,” type of laughing.

Real laughing.

Ellie is smart and sharp as a cute little tack.  I love hanging out with her.

One wrestling match last year, Ellie came with her crochet needles.   She was learning to crochet.  She had a little stretch of something that she had started.  It was about as long as a ruler, but she thought it might eventually be a scarf.  I told her she should make me a scarf some time, and then I laughed.  I never thought about it again

The wrestling season has started again.  Ellie was at the first match.  She walked up to me, and gave me a beautiful blue and green infinity scarf.  She told me she thinks it took her two months to make it, or maybe one, she thought.


So, I guess the point of this story is never tell these sweet kids that you want something.  They’ll feel obligated to provide it for you. And,  if you want to know how to make sweet kids, you should probably ask Ellie and Austin’s parents.  They have two other sweet boys too.  These parents know what they’re doing.

Some more awesomeness I have been considering is the Wood family.  The Woods have four kids too.  Maybe that’s all it takes to be awesome.  Ben Wood is the son of one of the finest couples I’ve had the pleasure of knowing.  We don’t see this couple much anymore, but they’ve been mentors to Scott and me in our lives.  This couple focuses on all the right things, and they’ve shown Scott and me that long marriages can be fun and full of adventures.

The Woods have two great kids.  Ben is their son.  He is a Pastor in Wisconsin.  Ben and his wife, Jen, and their four kids will be headed for Thailand soon.  They have decided that they are going to join a ministry dedicated to preventing child trafficking.

Ben, Jen and their children are God’s answer to my prayers.  When I’m out walking, I pray for children and pets who have no protection from evil.   I’m haunted by these thoughts; I try to turn those haunted thoughts in to prayers.  I think God hears me.

Our family is going to financially support the Woods.  I can’t think of a better use of our resources:


Yes. That shiny head in the back ground IS Grandpa Wood.

The last person of distinguished awesomeness, is Scott’s Dad, Marcus Smith.  Scott inherited all sorts of admirable qualities from his Dad.  One of my favorites is gentleness.  Marc is incapable of being overbearing and in your business.  He just quietly loves you to pieces.  Marc and Scott’s Mom, Gail, came to Scott and the boys’ first wrestling meet.

Scott and Marc gave each other the best spontaneous hug before we said goodbye.  I was mad I missed it, so I asked for a redo.  Marc loved that.  He made a little joke, and pretended like he and Scott had to keep posing for the picture, because he really just didn’t want to stop hugging his son.  It’s hard for me to believe that my husband, and the father of my children, was this guy’s baby.  But, he was.   Parental love is so fierce.  It never stops. Adult children should try to remember that.

Scott Marc hug


That’s it.  This was my Awesomeness Hall-of-Fame.  I liked doing that, and you deserve to be on the list of awesomeness list for reading it.






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.

Villas and Driving a Flip Flop

This past weekend we had a girls’ weekend with my side of the family.  Not everyone was available. When you have a big family, having EVERYONE in one place at the same time is close to impossible.  That’s why we’ve given up on trying to make that happen.  Now, we just set a date, and be happy for whoever can come.

girls weekend

Our girls’ weekend was at the Blue Harbor in Sheboygan.  Have you been there?  It’s really nice.  It’s kind of fancy.  We stayed in a villa.

I come from solid, middle class folks.  It seems like my folks bred mostly more solid, middle class folks.  Now we’re turning around and breeding more of the same.  It doesn’t appear as if there will be a millionaire in the bunch.  It’s my parent’s greatest shame.  Maybe if my parents would not have gone so heavy on the, “money doesn’t buy you happiness” speech when they were raising us, we’d have just one rich niece or nephew.  A niece or nephew  who could pick up the tab on our vacations.  Very short sighted on my parent’s part.

Us middle class folks are used to staying in something pretty sweet called a “Hotel”.  I’m not sure if you’ve ever been to a hotel, but they’re pretty nice.  At hotels you get to stay in clean rooms, use the pool, and your breakfast of homemade waffles and fake eggs is usually free. Very nice.

At the Blue Harbor, we stayed in a villa.  Villas are swank.  A villa is like a little house. We decided that if we split the cost of the villa enough ways, and only stayed for one night, we could swing it.  When I pulled up to the Blue Harbor, and parallel parked my Hyundai Elantra between the Jaguar and BMW to check in, I knew I was home.

Can I take a side street in this story I’m telling you?  I want to stop and talk to you about my Hyundai Elantra.  I’ve been thinking about my car a lot lately; I want to get some thoughts off my chest.  Scott and I bought this cute little car a couple of years ago.  We wanted better gas mileage.  I have a decent commute to work.

Would you like to hear my review of our Hyundai Elantra?  No?  Okay.  Then, skip the next paragraph.  I thought you cared about me, but that’s okay.  I get it now.

I feel like driving my Hyundai Elantra equates to driving a flip flop.  Know what I mean?  Of course you do.  That is so clear.   I’ll explain myself anyway.

I have a really awesome chiropractor.  He hates flip flops.  I like this chiropractor.  I think he is so smart, and knows much more about health and nutrition than almost anyone I know.  He says that he knows flip flops are fashionable, and popular, but they’re just terrible for your body.  He says flip flops are not safe to wear.  He thinks flip flops are junk.

I trust my chiropractor.  That’s why  I have invested in some Teva sandals.  They are made of sturdier material. They have a strap for support around the back of my foot.  They probably aren’t at the top of any most fashionable shoes lists, but I love them.  I’ve been wearing my Teva sandals for two years.  They are NOT junk.

Now, I don’t think my car is junk.  It isn’t.  It turns on a dime (whatever that means), and you can hear the radio really good.  Plus, it is cute. The problem is, I don’t feel like it’s safe.  I feel like there’s a good chance it’s made of tin foil, spray painted brown.  I feel like if I ran into a   tricycle, my car would be totaled.  If I ran in to a semi?  Well, I doubt the semi would notice.

Then,  there’s winter driving.  My car is insane when it comes to winter driving.  And, by insane, I mean terrible.  When it snows, I feel like I’m sledding to work on bologna skin tires .  Lately, in Wisconsin, it snows almost every day in the winter.  I have to take our heavier van to work when it snows. I guess all that good gas mileage isn’t doing me much good in the winter.

I was driving my cute little car one day, and I suddenly figured something out.  We accidentally bought a pair of cute, fashionable, junky, and dangerous flip flops for me to drive. We should have bought some Teva’s.   Dang it!

Thanks for letting me get that off my chest.  I’m sorry that it was a little boring.  The whole point of that story  is, I thought if it wasn’t too much to ask, you could maybe drop off a sturdier, nicer car in my drive way.  I don’t mean to sound greedy, but you do enjoy my blog. So, I guess we’d be sort of even.

But, we are SUPPOSED to be talking about a villa. Let’s get back to that.  Villas are not junky or cheap, like flip flops and Hyundai Elantras. Villas are nice.  When my sisters and nieces and I all walked into the villa, I thanked God for making us middle class.  It was super fun to be so impressed and appreciative.

I’ve told you about my funny niece, Libby.  She will make you laugh all day long. Libby and I immediately jumped on the king size bed in the master suite.  We did donkey kicks and all sorts of dance moves on that big bed.  We yelled,  “Yay for being poor!  Yay for loving big giant beds that we will never be lucky enough to own!  Yay for being happy to spend our entire vacation hanging out on this bed.”  That took a lot out of us, but it was fun.

libby and miki

We laughed a lot.  We went to the beach and we played games.  We played one game called “Mafia”.   Each round, whoever was the mafia would kill off the other players.  The trick was to find out who the mafia was before all the players were dead.  My sisters, nieces and daughter are so nice to me.  So nice, that they made sure I was always the first one killed.  It’s times like that when you realize no one in your family ever really liked you.

I try not be on my phone too much when I’m in public.  That’s rude. You know what else is rude?  Killing people.  I told my family I was just going to hang out with my Facebook friends, while they played their dumb game.  Here’s a picture of me talking to my Facebook family, and ignoring the other family.  The family that kept killing me.  I know what else you’re thinking about this picture.  Just when you thought my hair couldn’t possibly look any better, here it is.



On Sunday morning I worshiped God like this:


coffee at lake



Have you ever thought that we should all just stop trying so hard all the time?  I see this picture, and  it occurs to me that some of the best things in life take no effort at all.

I heart this past weekend.  I heart friends and family.  I heart villas.










Vacation in Galena and a History Lesson

I can’t remember if I told you how much I love Scott’s family.  Did I do that?  I meant to.  Scott has jolly parents, two brothers and a sister.  Scott is the oldest child.

In the family I grew up in, we are all huggy, and I love you and let’s talk this thing out.  Scott’s family is not like that.  Scott’s family is all let’s show up for each other, like all the same things,  and  have a great laugh.  Both kinds of families make me happy.

We just had our 16th annual Smith Family Summer Vacation.  Wow. What a wild party.  And by wild I mean most of the guests were 7 and under.

Scott's family

We went to Galena, IL.  Galena is a beautiful place.  Rolling farmland and a quaint and historic downtown area.  Scott and I went to Galena for a romantic getaway when Eddie was a baby, 16 years ago.  That was the first time we left Eddie over night.

Galena 2

Scott’s parents watched Eddie.  I remember that leaving our baby over night was very, very hard for me.  I was nervous and scared.

As we were driving away from Scott’s parent’s house, Scott reminded me that he was pretty sure his parents knew how to take care of a baby.  They’d done so successfully four times.  I wasn’t easily convinced.  I mean, let’s be honest.  Scott has issues.

Scott’s parents still have the double-sided, single spaced, hour by hour instructions I typed up for them before we left their house on that first trip to Galena.   For some reason, that  precious piece of memorabilia is still alive today. Maybe to  keep me humble.

At this very moment that piece of paper is lying  between the pages of my in-law’s 10 pound Catholic Bible.  The Bible sits on a special chair in my in-law’s formal dining room. I’m not exactly sure how my instructions ended up there, or how they survived all these years, but they have.

Maybe Scott’s parents  shut the door behind my young mom self and thought to themselves, “We got this, little lady. We respect your wishes.  To show you just how much, we’re going to place this lengthy list of instructions in the Bible.  Just don’t expect us to follow all of them. Or, read them.”

Who knows for sure?

When Scott and I went to Galena as young parents, we took a tour of the home of Ulysses S. Grant.  Grant used to live in Galena with his family. Just a little history lesson for you.  I’m surprised you didn’t know that.  I’m a bit of a history buff.  So,  that’s not really fair to you.

You and I are friends, so I can tell you the truth. I’m not actually very smart.  Maybe you have suspected that about me.  You are right.  You would totally slay me in a game of trivial pursuit.

I might not be that smart, but I sort of  do like going to museums. I am mildly interested in history and what not.  I just think I would appreciate a condensed version of most museums better than the full version.

When I visit museums, I don’t   hold on to what I have learned much beyond the time it takes me to walk to the car.  So that kind of stinks. I want my kids to be better.

Scott and I had pleasant memories of our Grant Home Tour.  We wanted to do it again with the kids. Our family was the first of the Smith clan to arrive in Galena,   we decided to take the kids to see Grant’s home..

I wish I could tell you that our kids were like, “Wow.  Thanks Mom and Dad.  You’re so cool the way you always give us opportunities for cultural enrichment!”  I wish I could say that.

Our kids actually asked us if we were kidding.  They totally didn’t believe us when we told them we were going on a historical tour.

Our kids are used to us playing basketball, ping pong and bad mitten with them.  Museums, theater and opera have been off our radar.  And, I think we all know we can blame Scott for that.  Mostly, because he doesn’t read my blog, and can’t defend himself.

Our kids’  upbringing has been kind of lopsided; more physical and  less cerebral.   But, don’t you think I should at least get a few points for using the word cerebral?

I assured the kids that learning something new would be fun.  I said, I remembered enjoying the tour when their Dad and I visited the first time.  I didn’t tell the kids that I actually couldn’t remember one single thing I was told on the first tour.  (Really, what IS the point?  We should just play bad mitten.)

Scott made me stuff this in my purse before we went into the home for our tour.  You know, just in case.

Grant 4

If there’s one thing the State of Illinois Historical Society encourages, it’s throwing a football through their 160-year-old, priceless, perfectly preserved museum.  They’d be silly not to, really.

I asked my family to show some class.  Stand by this picture of Ulysses and Julia Grant, and act like you appreciate their hospitality!

Grant 2

I’m sorry for my family, Ulysses and Julia.


You can see the disgust written all over Ulysses and Julia’s faces.  It’s this generation, Mr. and Mrs. Grant.  You just can’t do anything with them.

On this visit, I promised myself I’d remember some stuff:

1. Ulysses and Julia held hands, and were affectionate in public.  This was uncommon for that time period.

2. Julia’s feet were size four.

3. Women in that time had to wear black for two years after their husband died.  The black clothes would often dye the women’s skin black.  Meanwhile, men only had to wear a black band around their arm.  The main reason for that is because men back then were stupid.   It’s true.  Look it up.

That’s all I got.

I know there was something else in there about presidents and wars and blah, blah, blah.  I just remember the interesting stuff.

Tag Cloud