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

Posts tagged ‘ping pong’

A Note to my Friends who Just Aren’t Feelin’ It.

It’s Christmas Eve.  I have been up since 4:19 this morning.  That’s about an hour too early.  I could have stayed in bed, pretending my body has a bit of common sense.  That’s futile, in my experience.

I might be too excited to sleep. It’s Christmas Eve, you know.  We’ve got chestnuts to roast, and popcorn to string. Well, maybe I would rather read my book and play some ping pong, but still.  It’s a day to enjoy.

I have this buzz in my head.  It’s persistent.  I stopped this morning to acknowledge the buzz; I’ve been hearing it for a week or so now.   I asked God if He’d translate what I’m hearing.   I hope He answered.

I have been thinking hard about my friends and family carrying grief this Holiday Season.  If that is you, then I think the translation of this buzz is meant for you to hear.

I think I’m supposed to say two things:

  1. Tomorrow won’t look like today.
  2. You’re sad, and it’s okay.

My sister, Gail, posted a picture this week of a past Christmas.  She said it was one of her best Christmases.  That Christmas, Gail’s beautiful son, Ryan, was alive.  Ryan was a fun maker.  He was full of joy.

Gail said that she remembers laughing so hard it hurt that Christmas; she has a picture as evidence.  I enjoyed my family too that year.  But, I look at that picture, and I have a different memory.  That  was another Christmas when I faked it.   There have been more Christmases than I want to count when I generally faked having fun, and faked being present.  Grief and sadness keep your mind occupied.

christmas sisters

That Christmas, like so many others, I was wrestling with thoughts of Eddie’s future; trying to make peace with his health that seemed to be in an eternal downward spiral.

One year, on Christmas, Eddie was too sick to take the trip to Iowa to see Scott’s family.  Scott and I made what felt to us like an excruciating decision.  We left Eddie home with my parents for the day while we made a lightening quick trip to drop off presents, hug Scott’s family, and then turned around to come back home.

This decision felt traumatic for Scott and me.  We just had a hard time accepting that this was our son’s life; missing life, really.  It felt like a grave omen.  As we were getting ready to leave for Iowa, I heard Scott sobbing in a corner of the basement.  Scott was grief stricken too. Those were sad days.

That was yesterday.  That isn’t today.  I thank my precious Savior in heaven for showering mercy on this family of mine, and restoring Eddie’s health.  All good things come from HIM.

The fact that our deepest wounds have been healed, does NOT put me in a position of authority to talk about dealing with grief at Christmas.  You may rightfully be thinking, “You don’t know how I feel, Miki.  Your problem is solved.”

You’re right.

That doesn’t change the fact that my heart feels pain for others who have to fake it this Christmas, or any Christmas.  And, I feel compelled to tell you it is okay. YOU are okay.

I want you to know that you are NOT alone.  You are not forgotten.  I prayed for you this morning.  I care about you.  But, I also want to tell you that the God of the universe cares for you too.  I’m not preaching to you.  I’m not interested in converting you.  I just want you to know today, that if you are sad, and you feel hopeless, there is a supernatural hope that can be found through faith.  My faith in Jesus is not my religion.  This faith I have is practical and supernatural., and sustained me  when grief gripped my heart.  This faith of mine yields hope, and that’s what I know you  need.  Hope.  We all need hope.

Hope that a better outcome is ahead.  Hope that we can survive the present.


Romans 5:2-6

2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. 6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 



I want you to have hope.   Today is not tomorrow.  You are not stuck here.

If you’re faking it today, it’s okay.  It’s really okay.  I want to tell you that you are brave.  You got up today.  You showed up.  That is enough.

Be kind to yourself.  Thank yourself for moving along.  That’s all you need to do. You just have to take the next step.

I will keep praying for you today.  I will pray that you know you are not alone.  I will pray that you find supernatural hope.  I will pray that you just take the next step, and congratulate yourself when you do.

You are loved.  This is your time and place on this Earth, and your life has meaning.  I pray you feel God’s love for you this Christmas.

Merry Christmas, my friend.








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.

How I Like to Party

It occurred to me that I could write up a decent list of things I have learned about raising a chronically ill child. On the list would be this, “Don’t feel guilty that you don’t have a social life. Don’t feel guilty that you don’t want one.”

When your sick child is home, missing out on fun and not being a part of typical rights of passage, the thought of leaving him so you can hang out with other adults for the purpose of having a good time is appalling. Over the years I may have dabbled in some guilt over not having an impressive social life. Like when I go outside at night and realize I have forgotten what stars look like; I’m rarely out past dark. I don’t feel guilty for long. When I break it down in my head, I realize 100 times out of 100, most moms and dads will choose their suffering child over fun.

Let’s examine the silver lining here. If my life had taken a different path, it’s likely I would have put my husband through all sorts of social anxiety inducing parties and get togethers he would not have chosen on his own. We both like people a lot. I just happen to enjoy them in much larger doses. Instead, we live pretty quietly. Turns out I like this too.

Just a few times a year though I get a little antsy for something fun. Coincidentally, that urge usually hits me around my birthday. Two years ago, when I turned 40, I emailed Scott an invitation to send to some of our friends. It was an invitation to my Birthday Party. I thought it may be more socially acceptable to make it look like the invite came from him. You know, so maybe someone would think he planned the party.

It didn’t work. Our friends know Scott a little too well. I did have fun dramatizing my surprised and bewildered response to all the fuss everyone put in to the party I planned for myself. I still can’t believe they went to all that trouble. I just don’t know what got into them.

I got another goofy idea in my head this year for my 42nd Birthday. When I first conceived the idea to have fun, I knew I just wanted to laugh and be silly. The most fun thing I could think of was having a big dance party. Dancing to “Can’t Touch This” with my husband and friends sounds SO AWESOME!!!! I don’t want to brag, but I have mastered some pretty classic 80’s dance moves. It’s a shame I don’t have more opportunities to bust these out. And frankly, a real loss for those who don’t get to see them.

Can you believe that not very many people in their 40’s think that a dance party sounds fun? What’s wrong with them? I Googled, “40 something-year-old dance clubs”. I got nothing. I know. It’s crazy. That’s a million dollar idea right there. If you run with it, I expect to get a cut.

So, scratch the dance party. What else is fun? Scott and I have never claimed to be very sophisticated. I remember going on a trip with Scott to the Caribbean. It was a trip I earned. We were with hundreds of other couples who were with the same company. That’s the week that something became clear to me. After a week of hanging out with sophisticated couples who were sipping fancy umbrella drinks, lounging for hours by the pool and attending black tie only cocktail hours, I told Scott, “Can we just be honest about something? I think we both know that we’re just pretending to be adults.”

We spent our week in the Caribbean figuring out how to make the best use of the free continental breakfast (you can actually get two meals out of that deal), playing ping pong, tennis and racing each other in the pool. It was a slice of heaven.

I knew for my party, sitting around drinking cocktails could not be the main event. So I picked something almost as glamorous, mini golf. It was a competition. Because if it wasn’t, can you tell me what would be the point? We split up into teams. We played mini golf, shot hoops and played trivia at dinner for the final round. Scott and I were a team. We didn’t win, and that still hurts. I can’t talk about it right now. Just give me some time.

Here’s what a group of good sports looks like. I really need a new camera:

golf group

These guys were too good at this game. I’m not inviting them next time:


We ended the evening at a restaurant. I was excited to eat out, because it happens infrequently. The waiter was a super nice young man. He was also funny, but maybe he didn’t mean to be? He spilled water all over our table, but didn’t come back to clean it up. Scott and two other people in our group ordered hamburgers. They looked so delicious on the menu. When they were delivered they resembled ashes on a bun. I noticed the woman in our group who ordered the burger immediately and nicely asked to have it returned and replaced with something that was edible. Scott and the other guy who ordered the burger must have silently decided to celebrate guy code. They didn’t return their burgers. They toughed it out. I think they thought it would be okay if they just drowned it in enough ketchup. That might have worked, except for some reason the ketchup tasted exactly like a strong glass of Merlot.

I really can’t recall a time that Scott has ever complained about his food in a restaurant. That’s usually my deal. But, that Merlot flavored ketchup really threw him. He hasn’t had a sip of alcohol in 20 years, that’s not the way he wanted to break his streak.

When we were leaving, the waiter handed Scott the black leather thing they give you with your receipt and change. He looked Scott in the eye and said, “Here you go. Here’s your change. It’s 26 dollars.” He said it slowly and clearly. It seemed unusual that he was making such a point of it, especially since there was only 21 dollars inside.

The waiter bid us good bye. He said, “Be careful folks. It’s really getting shi**y out there.” I was surprised. I like to keep my eye on the forecast. I thought the weather was supposed to be fine. When we went outside the weather was calm; just the way we left it. It made me wonder if we weren’t on a hidden camera show while we were eating.

That waiter was a nice kid. I’m not complaining. I actually should thank him, because sometimes I run out of things to blog about.

The night was a success. My fun cup is full now. I’m probably good for another 10 – 12 months. I did think about something when we were playing mini golf. I wondered if Scott and I will ever officially grow up. It feels like I’m always going to like playing more than doing grown up things like going to cocktail parties and talking about property taxes and riding lawn mowers. I didn’t see any elderly couples at the mini golf course though, so I’m not sure if this is done. Maybe I just have to get to a certain age before the “likes boring stuff” gene activates. I’ll let you know.

mini golf

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