You Learn a Lot Over the Years

Six years ago I woke for the first time in this house separated. It was the beginning of the end of my marriage, technically. I don’t talk about being divorced often. I don’t hide it, but it’s deeply personal and people have many embedded and entrenched ideas about divorce and divorcees. I don’t like having them applied to me, so I just don’t make it a topic of conversation on many occasions. However, six years is a bit of a milestone, and there’s reason to reflect.

If you have ever divorced or are especially close to someone who has gone through the experience, you know how challenging the experience is. Those of us who have walked that path understand those embedded and entrenched ideas I mentioned early are the challenges. We feel like failures. Shame, guilt, and a host of other negative emotions come with the experience. We know that rumors are told. People want to know what caused the divorce and they make up stories when they don’t have the truth. Usually, it’s not intended to be malicious, but it is what it is. But then….it ends. Our personal lives are no longer news, and life goes on. But we are not the same person. We are wiser, more resilient, and smarter. We’ve learned lessons that have altered us. We emerge from a very broken version of ourselves into… pop culture calls it….a badass. And this is a very, very good thing.

So tonight, I’m sharing the most important lessons I’ve learned in the past six years as a way to celebrate — not to celebrate my divorce, but to celebrate the person I am now despite having gone through a divorce. Perhaps if you are walking the same path, it will provide you some clarity and hope.

I feel it important to add this disclaimer: my lessons are mine alone. They have become truths for me, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are universal truths. While many of the experiences of divorce are common, each situation is personal and nuanced and unique. Therefore, it is not my intention to assume that these are the same experiences or lessons for anyone else that has gone through or is going through a divorce. It is not my intention to infer that I have divorced in any way that is better or worse than anyone else. Please note these are “I” statements.

  1. Single doesn’t mean lonely. In fact, loneliness very rarely has anything to do with how many people are in the room. I have an incredible support system. I have people I can spend time with. I have people I can call. I have people that I know will drop everything and run to me should I ever need it. And spending a night binge watching a series or cleaning the house or even staring at a wall doesn’t mean I am sad. It means I’m making a choice to recharge my batteries or do something I want to do.
  2. I did not ruin my kids by getting divorced. In fact, I believe there are many situations where the worst thing someone can do is stay in a dysfunctional relationship and give kids that example. Point is, it’s not divorce that negatively impacts kids. It’s how adults handle situations — a divorce or otherwise.
  3. I am in charge of my behaviors and attitudes. When I separated, I knew the kind of person I wanted to be….kind, strong, responsible, peaceful. I decided I would be that kind of person regardless of how my spouse behaved or how my friends acted, or how people in town talked, or how others reacted to the news. Tons and tons of people in this world react to every unfair, unkind, untruthful thing said about them. They react to every passive aggressive social media post. They fight fire with fire. You do you, but I decided that was not who I wanted to be. I wasn’t going to be a doormat, but I was going to be faithful to who I wanted to be. I was going to take responsibility for my own behaviors and attitudes, and not rely on the excuse of “they asked for it” or “they deserved it” or “but, did you hear what they said?”. I was going to be navigated by my own true north. I’ve not always done this as well as I wish, but I almost always at least hold myself accountable. And I’ve never, ever, ever regretted making a decision that has aligned with my own version of my best self.
  4. A divorce is a death. It brings its own special kind of grief. I went through those grief stages of denial, anger, depression, and bargaining, until I reached the acceptance. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t tough days. Most of the times those tough days surprise me. And even more surprising, the days that I expected to be tough sometimes aren’t. But knowing that emotions are always temporary means I can just lean into whatever I’m feeling and then move forward with better days ahead.
  5. Divorce doesn’t have to mean hate. I do not hate my ex-husband. I never will. He is not the villain in my story. I don’t agree with him sometimes just as he doesn’t agree with me sometimes. I get angry or irritated with him even now, and I know he gets angry or irritated with me sometimes, too. And that’s okay. We all get angry or irritated with people that are important to us. That’s not the same as hate. He is a good man with good qualities, but we cannot be married. I’m sure he’d say the same thing about me. I’ve learned that even beyond not hating, we can find ways to support each other. Again, I get to choose what type of person I want to be, and I don’t want to be a person who is full of bitterness and hate. I’m so very thankful he has decided he won’t be a person that hates me, either. …. and while we’re at it, I don’t have to hate others for the gossip, questions, or comments. You don’t have to, either.
  6. If I don’t do the work to examine my own baggage, hurts, faults and patterns, I will repeat the same life over and over but with different people. I will get hurt the same way, and hurt others in the same way until I see my own part in it. This is why filling every ounce of excess time with work, dating, addictions, etc., is not good as much as withdrawing from the world and sitting in isolation is harmful. Spending time doing things I enjoy is good, but I have spent so much of the last five years reflecting so I don’t repeat patterns over and over. Filling every spare moment or jumping from relationship to relationship would not have allowed me the opportunity to do this reflection. It isn’t fun, but it’s necessary.
  7. Every healthy relationship needs boundaries. This is true for every type of relationship. People will not hate me if I say no. It is not my job to fix or control everything. My feelings are my feelings and your feelings are your feelings. I cannot make someone love me or like me. And I don’t even want to try.
  8. I can trust again. I can love again. I am not damaged beyond repair. Neither are you. I will not die alone.
  9. Divorce doesn’t make me unfaithful in my Christian walk. It doesn’t make me a bad person. It doesn’t mean I can’t be used by God. It doesn’t mean that I can’t hold any leadership position within my church that I could have held prior to being divorced. In fact, perhaps it makes me more qualified now because I’m being authentic. And…..hold your hat for this…..are you sitting down? I don’t think being divorced is a sin, and I don’t ask for forgiveness for being divorced. Now, I know what the Bible says. Trust me, I’ve read up on this. It’s cool if I just lost you now because what I am saying here sounds heretical to you and you can’t read another word. But I think divorce is a byproduct of humanity’s brokenness. I don’t think it’s great. I don’t think it’s what God intended. But, no, I don’t believe it’s a sin. I believe the sins are found in the circumstances that lead to divorces. Consider it….nearly any situation you’ve ever heard of that is at the root of a divorce — greed, adultery, disrespect, abuse, neglect, selfishness, and the list goes on and on — is the sin. Deciding to end that situation is a byproduct. And as long as I have breath in me, that’s why I will never understand why in some churches being a divorcee is a single excluding factor to not able to hold positions of leadership. I’ve done a lot of things in my life for which I’ve begged for forgiveness from God, but divorce isn’t one of them.
  10. I don’t want to be needed by a partner. I want to be wanted. In a marriage or partnership, need comes with obligation, burden, …. even codependency. It squeezes out the satisfaction of knowing you are chosen. Being wanted comes with the idea of being chosen, valued, appreciated above others. I’ll take a serving of that any day of the week. Please and thank you.
  11. While I wouldn’t say it would be wise to celebrate divorce, we also don’t need to treat it as if it was the end of the world. No pity. I don’t need anyone to feel sad or sorry for me. Divorce gave me an opportunity to rebuild my life on my terms. It gave me an opportunity to rebuild myself. It was a blank slate. It may have been tough in the beginning, but I actually believe I’ve been blessed in it. My life is so vibrant and full of abundance in ways I could never have known otherwise. And, I honestly believe I’m a better person because of it.
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Adventures in Perfection….again

Several years ago, I used this blog to document that year’s New Years Resolution …. trying something new daily. I had no idea how it would catch on and how people would enjoy my adventures. What people didn’t know is that behind the scenes I was a wreck. I was desperately searching for a way to bring joy and order and a sense of accomplishment to my life. I knew from teaching that novelty has a way of doing that. So I embarked on a journey to provide a path to a life that I knew I wanted and deserved. A life of humor, of excitement, of joy, of growth, of courage, of connection….it was a path to my version of my own perfect life. Not perfect in the sense of everything is right, but perfect as in the life I wanted. Thus, the title for the blog, Adventures in Perfection, was born.

I found writing about my daily challenges energizing and healing. I found enacting these daily challenges and writing about them gave me a sense of control when I felt as though I had very little control over my life.

Now, it’s all these years later and life is good. Perfect? No. But amazing, none the same. But in the process of transforming my life, the time for things that center me and bring me joy have been squeezed out. Things such as writing this blog. And while life is great, it’s not perfect. So it seems like the right time to embark on the journey again. I’m not sure I have the stamina to tackle something and write about it daily at this point, but perhaps? Maybe this time around it will be more about making progress daily rather than completing something daily. To build a life we love, sometimes we have to go deep rather than wide.

So what is task 1 you ask? The process of having less to have more. That’s really just an attempt to be poetic when I say to get rid of crap. Also known as decluttering. I get so overwhelmed by this. I have so much stuff. I thought when I got divorced I would have all this extra space because half of our belongings would be with him. That didn’t happen. He let me keep basically everything …. for which I’m thankful and appreciative, but there’s a lot that has served its purpose and now needs to go. And there’s really something cathartic about making peace with your past by letting the things from that stage of your life go if needed. Forgive me for sounding New Agey/Marie Kondo on you, but I do think there’s something to be said about getting rid of the old to make space for the new. I think you have to make space in your life — both literally and figuratively — before you can accept the new that fits the person you are becoming…the person you want to be.

So, with that said, let me make my fourth trip to the garbage and recycling bin for the day.

What Would MLK Do?

So I read a meme recently on social media that said, “If you don’t say that Black Lives Matter, don’t post any quotes by Martin Luther King, Jr. on his holiday.”

I’ve seen several others that had similar thoughts this year for the first time. I really do not remember a previous MLK Day where my Facebook feed was calling out others for posting quotes, pictures, and memes by the Civil Rights leader.  Being to the point, one said “Don’t post quotes by MLK if you’re a racist.”

Here’s the thing, though.  Most people walking around with ideas or sentiments contradictory to MLK’s stances on race relations, poverty, war, or privilege may not see it.  We all have a strong ability to practice cognitive dissonance when it comes to what we believe and what we do….between what we say and how we act….between what we post on social media and how we live daily.  Self included.  We boil down MLK to simply thinking in binary terms.  I’m an open racist=anti MLK.  Should not post his quotes.  I’m not a racist=pro MLK.  I am permitted to quote him.  We forget it can be much more complicated and nuanced than this.

Oh, it’s easy to look at Martin Luther King and simplify him to solely race relations.  And it’s even easier for us to wrap neat bows around how we classify racist or not racist often overlooking ways our own actions may indict us.

King’s work in civil rights and racial equality was intertwined with his work to end poverty and violence, and to advocate for love– agape love.  If you focus on how to legitimize someone’s worth based on race while delegitimizing one’s worth based on wealth or any other fact, you’re missing the boat.  King’s words provide us guidance on all interpersonal relations, but especially with those we disagree. 

From May 3, 1963, “I remember some years ago, my brother and I were driving from Atlanta to Chattanooga, Tennessee.  And for some reason the drivers that night were very discourteous or they were forgetting to dim their lights…..And finally A.D. looked over at me and he said, ‘I’m tired of this now, and the next car that comes by here and refuses to dim the lights, I’m going to refuse to dim mine.’  I said, ‘Wait a minute, don’t do that.  Somebody has to have some sense on this highway.'”  He went on to connect this same idea to Birmingham.  It’s appropriate….great…. excellent, in fact, to connect the sentiment to the idea of race relations, but let’s not forget there’s a lesson in our everyday interactions, also.    When someone mistreats us, disrespects us, is unfair to us, or even cuts us off in traffic, how do we respond?  These simple interactions in daily life lead to the massive movements that change the world, I think Dr. King would argue.  

Today as I write this, my Facebook feed is blowing up with negativity and thoughts that this world is going to hell in a hand basket.  There are stories upon stories of protests and upheaval and potential violence in Virginia.  People are pissed off about the president (whether because he was impeached or because of his actions).  Memes and quotes can be found about the Iranian tensions.  I’ve read and reread all about how people feel when it comes to gun rights and gun control.  It is important for people to take a stand on issues in which they believe, of course.  But let’s apply this concept of “Don’t post quotes by MLK if …” on to a larger scale.  Don’t post quotes by MLK if you don’t agree with him.  Now this is challenging because he is no longer here.  We can’t read his tweets about current issues or hear new speeches for us to know how he would think, speak, behave in regards to current culture.

But his words are immortal.

“And the leaders of the world today talk eloquently about peace.  Every time we drop our bombs in North Vietnam, President Johnson talks eloquently about peace.  What is the problem?  They are talking about peace as a distant goal, as an end we seek, but one day we must come to see that peace is not merely a distant goal we seek, but that it is a means  by which we arrive at that goal.  We must pursue peaceful ends through peaceful means.” – “A Christmas Sermon on Peace,” The Trumpet of Conscience, Dec. 24, 1967.

“I refuse to accept the cynical notion that nation after nation must spiral down a militaristic stairway into the hell of nuclear annihilation….”  Address to accept Nobel Peace Prize, Dec. 10, 1964.

“To return hate for hate does nothing but intensify the existence of evil in the universe.  Someone must have sense enough and religion enough to cut off the chain of hate and evil, and this can only be done through love.” 1957.

“To retaliate with hate and bitterness would do nothing but intensify the hate in the world.  Along the way of life, someone must have sense enough and morality enough to cut off the chain of hate. ” – undated

“Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.  Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only love can do that.  Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction.” – “Loving Your Enemies,” Strength to Love.

So do your research.  Read his words.  Listen to YouTube videos of his recordings and weigh those sentiments against today’s issues.  Based on what we know, what do you think he would have to say about our relationships with other nations?  What do you think he would have to say about LGBTQ?  What do you think he would have to say about the Me Too movement?  What would he have to say about the different factions and their plans to converge on Richmond?  What would he have to say about environmental protections?  What would he have to say about the economy and proposed budgets and education funding and universal healthcare?  What would he have to say to those that disagreed with his ideas?  What would he have to say about the way you and I conduct ourselves online and with others?  I’m not going to assume to know the answer to these questions, but I think it’s important we ask and reflect on them.

Knowing how to interact with people with whom we disagree or those that mistreat us can serve us well in any and all situations.  Knowing how to stand up for what we believe in without adding to the chaos is more important than ever.  Where are those areas in our lives that we are falling short of this?  Because, realistically, that is us falling short of Dr. King’s legacy.


Julia Child Does Not Live Here

So this month my focus is on nutrition.  I have a rather unusual situation.  I LOVE to eat, but I hate to cook.  I am no Julia Child.

If I were forced to compete in Food Network’s show, Chopped, the other chefs would be making some kind of delicious risotto dish with cheetohs, salmon, and apples while I would be in the corner crying while eating the cheetohs.  If you provide me a recipe, I can (most of the time) follow it, but asking me to whip up something typically results in a call to a pizza place.  I am no Julia Child.

I have a number of terrible eating habits when left to my own devices.  I rely far too much on processed and frozen foods.  I love anything fried and with sugar.  And if you can combine those two into one delicious dessert, even better.  I don’t preplan anything.  I don’t prep meals.  I drink too much soda and not enough water.  And most items in my pantry have an ingredient list as long as the Constitution.

So here I am deciding to get a handle on my nutrition through baby steps.  I’m limiting myself to one bottle of soda per day.  Mind you, it’s a two liter, but whatever.  Progress shouldn’t be downplayed.  In all seriousness, I have my usual coffee in the morning and one soda during the day.  Otherwise it’s water.  Now, for the food.

Since I hate cooking so much and feel inept in my culinary skills, I go out to eat a lot.  Of course, there are other reasons.  I travel with my job quite a bit, and I am a mom so many nights are spent trucking to one place or another making cooking a five course meal near impossible.  Up till now, if I was tired…..or hangry……or (insert any other emotion here) I would often find a way to justify running through a drive through or ordering pizza or going out to eat in someway.  So I’m trying to do better and cook more at home.  And let me emphasize that I’m actually trying to cook….real food.  Not frozen Lean Cuisines or pizza rolls or processed sandwich meat.  But again, I’m no Julia Child.

This is a struggle.  Hello Fresh has helped me.  They deliver groceries that are needed and give me a recipe.  But still….sometimes I’m just tired.  I’m doing better, though.  I’m adding more veggies.  I keep fresh veggies in my fridge to saute quickly or make into a pseudo omelet….pseudo because I can’t really manage the perfect flip and it ends up more like scrambled eggs that have veggies in them.  Again, no need to be critical.  We all know I’m no Julia Child.

I’ve always kept fruit on hand.  It’s rare that I don’t have bananas and apples around.  Yes, I buy the precut and peeled apples because…..let’s be real.  My eight year old will demand they be cut and peeled and I’m too lazy to bother.  Worth every extra dime for little luxuries like precut and peeled fruit.  I’ve tried limiting the amount of chips and “junk” that’s here so I’m not tempted.  Being honest, I’m not above indulging in a dinner of chips and ice cream if it means I don’t have to cook.  Therefore, the best thing is not to have it around.  But tonight……I encountered a new challenge.  My ever-so-picky youngest child has found of the heavenly delight that is Nutella.  Seriously, that’s what he called it….a heavenly delight.  So now guess what’s in the house?  The hazelnut spread that will wreck all my good intentions.  And now I’m typing this with a jar of Nutella beside me and a spoon in my mouth.  Because I’m no Julia Child.

Hello, again, my old friend

So it’s been an eternity since I’ve blogged.  Let me catch you up….I got a divorce, my oldest son had open heart surgery, my youngest started school, my oldest graduated and then off to college only to hate it, I started a new job……you know, the usual.

But in the midst of all that change, I missed blogging.  On this page (or screen, as it may be) is where my thoughts clear and pieces fall into place and I can digest my emotions.  It helps me to make sense and process all that happens in my life.  But I love having a focus for my blogging.

Remember that year where I tried something new everyday and chronicled it here?  That was fun.  I’m so glad you joined me on that journey reading as I typed and published each entry.  And then there was the year I focused on reading the Bible and sharing my thoughts with you here.  That Genesis is a tougher book than I realized.  But you drudged through it with me.  Thank you.  And then there were the times when I veered off my original intent to share my fears, heartbreaks, discoveries, and experiences as the parent of a child with Loeys-Dietz Syndrome.  Not gonna lie.  Many tears were shed writing those.  They still make me tear up when I go back and reread them.  So what’s to write about now?  Where do I go from here?

Here we are in January.  It’s a pretty reflective and often times melancholy month for me.  Of course, there’s the usual New Year festivities and resolutions and expectations that come with the month.  But this year I’m turning 45.  It’s only a couple of weeks away, in fact.  45… feels big.  Not 50 big….it doesn’t have the glamour of a multiple of 10, but it’s big nonetheless.  Halfway to 90.  Less than 10 years from being able to retire in my career.  As close to 50 as to 40.  It feels as good a time as any to be reflective and to ponder where I go from here.

I have a life that I absolutely love.  I often feel like I could be in competition for the most blessed and favored person on the planet.  I have an incredible job, I have two kids that I adore and that are generally respectful and kind, my kids are in good health, I have a good, friendly relationship with my ex-husband and we coparent like beasts, I’m in good health, I have the best most supportive friends, I have a fantastic relationship with my parents and brother, I have a church that I love, and I may not be where I’d like to be financially, but all my needs are met….life is very, very good.  However, this isn’t exactly the life I had envisioned for myself at 45.  In some ways, it’s better.  But there are still areas I’d like to see improved and changed.

Rather than making a New Year’s resolution, I have decided that each month I would focus on one area of my life to improve.  I figured I would be more likely to make long-term changes and experience success with this plan.  Small chunks of changes rather than a massive overhaul.  There’s a lot of discussion about how long it takes to break a habit and form a new one, but certainly focusing on repeating actions will help to institute these leading to long-term success.

This month (January) I’m focusing on nutrition.  I’m adding more water, trying to cut back on sodas, eating more vegetarian meals (at least one per day), increasing fruits and veggies, and cutting back on sugar and processed food.  Made simpler, I’m trying to cook more at home.  And if you know me at all, you’ll know this should be interesting because I hate cooking, I love eating, and I have hilariously epic failures at most of my attempts at anything new.

What about the other months?  I’m not sure what order yet, but I’m expecting to focus on the following topics the remainder of the year:

  • finances
  • exercise/activity
  • stress reduction
  • relationships
  • mental wellbeing/health
  • physical environment
  • nature/travel

Some of these topics will likely overlap.  Some I may revisit periodically.  However, I think if the plan is to focus on one each month, I can see some noticeable changes for the better by this time next year.  And, yes. you counted correctly.  Twelve months and eight topics.  No worries.  Who knows what I might think of by September to add to my list.

Subscribe to my blog and follow me on the journeys.  I promise I’ll be honest along the way with my struggles, my crashes, and my successes.  There is no doubt you’ll be entertained by it all.

Next Appointment

I’ve been waiting about a month to hear from the cardiologist office.  E continues to see Dr. Dietz in Baltimore, but we need a local cardiologist for him, too.  Need may not be the right word, but it makes me feel more comfortable.  In the event of an emergency, I want someone local that knows him and understands Loeys-Dietz Syndrome.  Plus, there are times we can’t make it to Baltimore every six months so having someone local that follows him, as well, and can oversee his echos is a good thing.

Now is one of those times we can’t get to Baltimore.  And E needs an echo.  His last local cardiologist left the area so we will be seeing a new doctor.  His name is Dr. Lisi who has worked with Dr. Dietz in the past so I was thrilled.  So thrilled.  Dr. Jewett, our local geneticist, recommended him so that is all the endorsement I needed.

About a month ago I spoke with Dr. Lisi’s scheduler.  He was going through all of E’s records to see what might be needed and to prepare.  I heard back from them today.  I’m I the only one who finds it very coincidental timing that I heard from this office the day after E had a different appointment with another new doctor at the same hospital?  Anyway…..Dr. Lisi’s office had an opening for a few weeks from now, but that was smack in the middle of final exams.  Thankfully, they were accommodating and comfortable with seeing E after school is out.  So he’ll be at Brenner’s May 30 for the ENT follow-up (and potential CT scan) and then again for the cardiologist and echo on June 6.  Will update once we have the visits and get information.


New Doctors

Eddie met a new audiologist and ENT today.  He doesn’t dread the ENT, but he doesn’t look forward to those visits.  E has had the same local ENT since he was an infant and the man is so kind.  He has an amazing bedside manner and has even come into the office on a Saturday one time to see E.  However, he does not adhere to a super conservative approach when it comes to surgery.  And he doesn’t know a lot about Loeys-Dietz Syndrome…..but of course, that’s not unusual.

Over the years we’ve come to realize E’s experience with ear issues was not that uncommon in the Loeys-Dietz community…..tubes, recurring infections, cholesteatoma, typanoplasty, hearing loss, etc.  And I have heard story after story of failed ear surgeries and procedures, so the idea of putting him through yet another one after the last one was so challenging (and ultimately unsuccessful) did not seem wise.  I wanted him to see a doctor that understood LDS or at least was willing to learn enough about it to handle E’s issues uniquely.

We’ve been hoping for a number of years to coordinate his appointments at Hopkins so he could see a specialist there that is working with the Loeys-Dietz team and has a research interest in connective tissue disorders.  However, the schedules have not been able to align.  Last fall when E visited the NIH team, they wanted him seen by an ENT sooner rather than later because they discovered a nasal polyp they believed was causing him some complications.

All of these led us to Dr. Eleanor Kiell and Janet Black at Wake Forest/Brenners today.  E’s hearing test indicated no real change from the last hearing test a few years ago.  This is good.  He has a mild to moderate hearing loss that typical affects low range sounds.  The main issue is his perforated eardrum.  There appears to be no issues with the bones of his ears.  This is very good.  Letters sounds such as vowels, m, and n are the more problematic, but it doesn’t seem to cause him a great problem in communication.

Now onto his nose.  Bless his heart.  Dr. Kiell performed a nasal endoscopy.  Basically, she inserted a thin tube that had a camera and a light into his nose where the images were projected onto a screen and recorded.  It is a simple procedure that I got to stay in the room for.  No anesthesia.  No relaxation methods.  Just do it.

This was not comfortable for Eddie, to say the least.  That tube was so far in his nose I could see the light shining into his throat.  Seriously.  No hyperbole here.  But she was able to see the polyp.  She said that it is not completely blocking his nasal passageway.  However, the NIH’s measurements indicate it is causing him some complications including affecting the development of his face and craniofacial features and dental issues.  Therefore, it will need to be treated.  But first we need a CT scan.

Dr. Kiell is going to try to get a copy of the images taken of Eddie at the NIH in the fall to save us from another scan.  However, if we are not able to get these, he will have a CT scan of his sinuses when we return to Dr. Kiell in a month.  She said assuming he has sinus surgery to remove the polyp, it should be quick and easy, relatively speaking.  Additionally, we can consider repairing his eardrum at that time with another tympanoplasty since he’ll already be under anesthesia.

With all that said, I don’t see another tympanoplasty in the future.  That first one was brutal when he was 8 years old.  He said it was worse than all the other surgeries he’s ever had because he was so sick and dizzy afterwards.  And if it were to fail again (which is a real possibility because of LDS), we are just inviting issues with scar tissue in his ear.  Eh…..doesn’t seem like the benefits would outweigh the risks to me.  But the polyp is an issue that will need to be handled.  It’s way back in his nose near the maxillary sinus.  Not exactly thrilled about the idea of him having another procedure and being put under anesthesia again, but this seems quick and easy in comparison to some of the others he’s had.  And we really liked Dr. Kiell so that’s half the battle.  Will update when we return in a month.  In the meantime, waiting on all the records to be sent so we can get Eddie an appointment with a doctor that will be his local cardiologist for between Hopkins visits.  Hoping that won’t be too long because he’s due for another echocardiogram.

Days 40-44 – Valentine Sweet Treat

Just because I’m not writing about them everyday doesn’t mean I’m not sticking to my plan of 365 new experiences this year. All are good things, but not all make good reading.  However, I’m going to zoom through my last few days of new experiences so I can move on to today’s new experience that makes for some delicious sharing.

Day 40 – I started using Rodan and Fields’ Soothe regiment.  My sweet, sweet friend gave it to me for my birthday knowing how badly my skin bothers me….and by bothers I mean more like physically can burn and hurt and sting as opposed to being self-conscious alone about it. Day 41 – I left conditioner in my hair.  I don’t know what the hell happened at age 42 that suddenly left the ends of my hair feeling dry and somedays looking like straw.  However, that hasn’t changed the fact that my roots are still oily.  Grrrr… if combination skin isn’t enough, my hair has decided to display multiple personalities.  So I read that leaving in a bit of conditioner to the ends can really help.  I’ve done it twice now and I’m left wondering why I haven’t tried this earlier.  Day 42 – Don’t laugh.  I went to bed with all my laundry put away, my dining table somewhat cleaned off, my bathroom clean, my dishes put away, and my kitchen clean.  Normally, I am lucky to accomplish any one of these things, but all of them????  That’s the stuff of unicorns and fairies.  And I’m pretty sure it’s a first of my adult life.  Mind you, by day 44 of all this had disappeared like a rabbit in a magician’s hat, but I will celebrate victories where I can get them.

Day 43 – I helped my oldest son open a checking account.  This should be interesting.  Day 44 – Again, I hate to be superficial, but…..I got an amazing knit moto jacket in a heather navy and wore it for the first time on this day.  I recently got a shipment from Stitch Fix, and this was in it.  Knit.  Moto.  Jacket.  Navy.  It’s like a cross between badass and café au lait-drinking super mom.  I can’t.

And now day 45.  I could write all about it, but a picture really is worth a 1000 words.  heart pie2

Chocolate strawberry valentine pie.  The easiest thing ever.  I had a heart shaped tart dish I used for this.  It is Valentine’s Day, after all.  I got a box with two refrigerated pie doughs.  I rolled one to make it thin.  I laid one on the bottom of the dish, smashed it against the edge, and cut off much of the excess.  I then sprinkled a mix of dark chocolate chips on the bottom crust.  I only use Ghirardelli dark chocolate chips because of my son’s milk allergies.  It’s the only one I know he can eat with no reaction.  However, milk chocolate would be yummy, too.  In a separate bowl, I quartered fresh strawberries (2 lbs of them!) then added half a cup of sugar, a tbsp. of corn starch and the squeeze of a fresh lime half and mixed gently.  After I spooned the strawberries over the chocolate chips.  Finally, I took the second crust, rolled thin again, and cut out Xs and Os for Valentines.  Then I placed this top crust over the strawberry mixture and sealed the seams.  I brushed the top with a little milk….in our house, that’s soy or almond milk.  Baked at 375 degrees for 30-40 minutes.  I baked for 30 minutes, but it could have used a tiny bit longer.  Here’s the finished product:

heart pie

Day 39 – Keeping Vampires and Germs Away

D is on the road to recovery, but his immune system has taken a hit with this virus.  And I’m, admittedly, paranoid with all the illness we’ve had recently.  I was determined that we were going to eat healthy to help keep the germs away.

I found a recipe online for a crockpot sausage, white bean and spinach soup.  It promised to be easy, and it looked tasty.  It has garlic, spinach, chicken broth….all the makings of a dish to keep viruses at bay.  I used this recipe as the base, but tweaked a bit for our tastes: All credit goes to Ashley, writer of the wishesndishes blog.

My tweaks:  I used turkey smoked sausage and omitted the celery and carrots.  Otherwise, I followed as is…..four cloves of garlic and all.  I’ve got to tell you, I smelled garlic all day long.  I like garlic, but I thought the smell was intense in my house.  Not only are we killing germs, we may be killing vampires.

I knew my youngest would give me a fit about this.  If it ain’t chicken nuggets, hot dogs or pizza, he ain’t havin’ it.  It kills me.  Seriously, it hurts my heart to see him turn his nose up at dishes without an open mind to try them.  Pet peeve of mine.  My oldest, however, will try nearly anything.  So to find a way to give everyone something that met their approval, I served the soup with ham sandwiches (ham is on my little man’s approved foods list) and a baked sweet potato.  I had marshmallows, brown sugar, and cinnamon on the table for everyone to top the potatoes as they wished.

Y’all, I don’t say this often….or maybe never at all, but I killed it with dinner tonight.  Check it out.


This was SO good!  Of course, my youngest was in tears before he left the table because I was making him try everything….eh.  Cry me a river.  My oldest had two bowls of soup and told me, “It’s alright,” which in teenager talk is total winning.

So dinner is a winner and I’m doing my part to keep the vampires and the germs away.

Days 37-38: Deliver My Acorns

Day 37 – The closest Walmart Neighborhood Market is almost a half hour away from my home.  In fact, I can drive in any direction and be at a Walmart in no more than 40 minutes.  But there is no Walmart in my town.  That doesn’t stop me, however, from taking advantage of their ordering ahead service.  I order and pay online and then drive that half hour to the next county and sit lazily in my parking spot while the poor employee pushes the flatbed of my groceries and loads them into my car.  And you know what?  I don’t feel bad about it, either.

I had ordered my groceries Sunday afternoon and scheduled a Monday afternoon pick up.  The idea is I would get off work and drive over there since my school is halfway between my home and the store.  But then D got sick.  And I wasn’t about to leave him with a 102 degree fever to pick up groceries.  And this is where having children a decade apart is awesome.

I checked with my brother who is in management for Walmart (and used to be the manager of this particular Neighborhood Market) to see if I could send my 16 year old to pick up the groceries.  I was concerned since my name was on the order that they would not release them to him.  Taking my brother’s advice, I called the store to let them know, but yes, they allowed him to pick them up.  And then when he came home, he unloaded all of them and put them away so I could stay with D.  Having a teenager can be challenging at times, but he can also be a total rockstar that helps me out.  And that is the story of the first time I let my oldest go grocery shopping (of sorts) for me.

Day 38 – One of the items I got on this particularly grocery run was acorn squash.  I never made them before but I ran across a super easy recipe that looked totally delish.  I plopped the squash in a bowl and put in the microwave for three minutes.  I removed the dish and squash.  Being careful because it was hot, I cut the acorn squash in half stem to bottom.  I removed the seeds and gunk from the middle….it was much like a pumpkin, as you can imagine…..leaving a bit of a bowl in the center of the half.  Then I rubbed the flesh with olive oil.  I placed each half in foil and laid carefully in a baking dish as it would be easy for it to tip over.  Then I let it bake for 30 minutes.  At the end of 30 minutes I put a generous dollop of butter, a heaping spoonful of brown sugar and a sprinkle of cinnamon in the center hollow where the seeds had been.  I then let it back another 20 minutes.  I served in the foil and put another little sprinkle of brown sugar because…..why not?  It was yummy and easy, just like the recipe promised.  Forgive my lackluster photography skills, but trust me.  It was a winner according to my oldest son.


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