Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Newspaper Clippings & Mirrors

I was reading a blog post from one of my favorite bloggers, Andrea Merriman, today, and she reminded me of a childhood memory.  You can read Andrea's post here:  http://andreamerriman.wordpress.com/2011/05/

I've explained in earlier posts that my Dad was an extremely eccentric person; lovable, but weird.  Dad read the newspaper in a fashion like nobody else.  He spent a few minutes in the morning looking at the headlines with a pair of scissors.  If there was something that caught his eye, he cut it out and put it in his inside suit coat pocket.  Throughout the day, as he had a few minutes, he would take out an article and read it.

Now this system worked for Dad, but it didn't work for anyone else in the family.  The only way to read the newspaper in our home was to get up very early prior to Dad's date with the scissors.  Dad didn't think it was a problem.  If he saw an article that he thought applied to one of his children, he cut it out and taped it to our bedroom mirror--selective reading, of sorts.  I didn't get to read anything but Dad's "selections," until I left home.  I did, however, look forward to seeing clippings appear on my bedroom mirror.

Leaving home didn't stop Dad from saving articles for us.  Dad would carefully address an envelope to each of his children, and to his friends.  When he saw articles that he thought we would like, or a cartoon that applied to our lives, he would place it in our envelope.  When there were two or three clippings, he would put a stamp on the envelope and mail it to us.  When Dad died, Mom asked me to go through his desk.  There were several envelopes in his desk waiting for mailing, including one to his deer hunting buddy (which we mailed with a note).

I've never figured out why he read the paper this way, but then again, I've never figured out the why behind many things my father did.  Dad gave us lots of things to laugh about when he was here, and now that he's gone, we're still laughing.  I do miss those clippings coming in the mail.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Spending Time Together

Sports really isn't my thing.  I just don't "get it."  The only sport I can understand to any degree at all is baseball, but even with baseball there are certain rules I just don't understand no matter how many times they are explained to me.

It doesn't really matter whether I understand sports, because I do enjoy spending time with my husband doing something that he enjoys, and he reciprocates and does things for me that probably wouldn't be his first choice.  It's all about time together.

Last night we had tickets to a Sacramento River Cats (minor league) baseball game.  It was a bad game, which was really over by the end of the second inning.  We lost 14-1.  To top it off, it was cold and windy.  The wind made spring allergies pretty intolerable.  Somehow none of that mattered.  As a matter of fact, we stayed until the very last pitch.  There is something to be said for sitting next to each other in the stands at a baseball field, wrapped up in a blanket, eating hot dogs, sharing peanuts and popcorn, taking in the aromas of the various food stands, and hearing "Cotton candy, get your cotton candy here!"  I wouldn't have wanted to be anywhere else last night.

Two nights earlier, my husband went with me for a cultural experience.  We went to a Hindu 50th birthday party for the father of one of my co-workers.  I love cultural experiences, and Danny has learned to take them all in with me, just like I take in sports with him.  We watched Indian dancers, and took in the lovely saris.  We ate Indian food.  We even watched a man dance Indian dances dressed as a woman.  We had a terrific time.

It's all about spending time together.  It doesn't matter what you do or where you go, as long as you enjoy spending time with each other.  Sharing a $5.00 foot long Subway sandwich is as much fun as eating a $20.00 steak -- it's all time together.  All I want in the world is to sit next to the guy I married, and leave the craziness of the world behind.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

They Are Too Innocent

There was a picture on Facebook the other day of a baby who has heart problems.  Those close to the family were asking for others to fast and pray on behalf of the baby, the family, and the medical staff who will be performing surgery shortly.  I don't know the family, but immediately my heart went out to them, as it always does when I hear of little ones suffering.  We have been there.

My first pregnancy was very difficult.  I gained 80 pounds, and it was not because I was eating.  As a matter of fact, about the only things I could consistently keep down for nine months was Jello and raisins.  Meanwhile, the doctor was yelling at me for eating "fried foods."  Yeah, right.   Whatever!  If it had not been my first pregnancy, I would have known something was wrong.  Molly would kick me until I would double over in pain.  I didn't know that was not normal.  Two weeks past (the doctor's) due date (only three days past mine), my water broke, and it was green.  I didn't know that was not normal either, but soon found out that meant trouble.

To make a very long story short, Molly had a lung cyst the size of a baseball.  Unfortunately, only one in 100,000 babies has this problem, and the symptoms are the same for a diaphragmatic hernia, so she was originally misdiagnosed.  A diaphragmatic hernia is caused by the lack of a diaphragm so the bowels move up into the lungs.  They go in, put everything where it belongs, and then try to form a diaphragm.  They originally gave her a 50/50 chance of survival.  Before she was 12 hours old, she underwent two separate surgeries.  They took her in for surgery originally for the diaphragmatic hernia, but after five hours of surgery, came back and told us that she had the lung cyst.  She was still under the anesthesia, and they were about to do the second surgery.  They told us that they might have to remove part or all of one lung, but that the other lung would probably grow to twice the size to compensate.  It turned out that they were able to remove the cyst without removing any of the lung.  The recovery process was long and hard, but she is now my rocket scientist with a family of her own.

Hannah was my most healthy child, but when she was four months old they almost put her back in the hospital because she wasn't gaining weight (which was a problem with all my children).  They waited one more week, and then she began to pick up a little.  There is actually a note in Hannah's medical chart that says, "Nonthriving child; good mom."  (In other words, don't call Child Protective Services.)  Like Molly, Hannah too survived, has a career and a family of her own.

After Hannah, I had a miscarriage.  I wasn't very far along, but I still think about that baby.  I wonder if we'll have the opportunity in heaven to raise the baby.  We don't know, because it is one of those things that Heavenly Father has not yet revealed.  I hope I'm prepared for the answer when it comes.

I was borderline diabetic when I was pregnant with Ezra, so he was born addicted to sugar.  I wasn't even allowed to hold him when he was born.  They ripped him away and began pumping sugar down him.  He was followed by an endocrinologist until he was 15 years old because of his odd growth patterns.  He was short for a very long time.  There was a point where they wanted to give him growth hormones, and we said no.  I'm so glad we did, because he finally caught up.  If we had given him hormones, he might have been eight feet tall!  Ezra also grew to adulthood, and he also has a family of his own.

I had the flu when I was pregnant with Kaylonnie, and the amniotic fluid was contaminated.  When she was born, instead of taking a large breath and getting all the fluid out of her lungs, she took a tiny breath and left most of the contaminated fluid in her lungs.  We almost lost her to pneumonia.  I had never heard of a newborn with pneumonia.  I came home from the hospital on Mother's Day, leaving Kaylonnie in the Nursery Intensive Care Unit.  Kaylonnie is a fine young woman--now 21 years old and will soon be off to serve a mission in Brazil.

These little babies are much too innocent and precious to have to deal with all these problems.  There were obviously some lessons that we needed to learn as parents.  Someday, one of the first questions I'm going to ask Heavenly Father is if there might have been a better way to teach me those lessons without my children having to deal with all that.  I know there must be a reason that I can't now comprehend.

So what did I learn from all this?  I learned that my marriage can withstand anything if my husband and I stick together through thick and thin.  I learned that every tiny baby is a fragile and precious gift from God.  I learned to rely on Heavenly Father when there is nothing that I can do on my own.  I learned that life is not easy, but well worth it.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Stained Glass Curtains

My Stained Glass Curtains
I was about six years old when my parents bought a new house.  At first, they couldn't afford to buy curtains for the sliding glass door in the family room, so Mom retrieved her collection of fabric scraps.  Mom made patchwork curtains for the sliding glass door.  They were supposed to be a very temporary solution, so she didn't even line them.  When the sun came through those curtains, it was magic!  The whole room lit up!  It was like a beautiful stained glass window.  We all loved them so much, that Mom left them there until they completely rotted away before replacing them.

I always said that someday, I would have "stained glass curtains" in my house.  We built the addition to our home the winter of 1986 - 1987, I believe.  For the first time, we had a sliding glass door.  I didn't have a collection of sewing scraps because I'm not the sewing wizard that my mother was, but I bought some fabric to make curtains.  I wanted all the colors of the rainbow.  I wanted them to last a long time, so I bought white muslin and lined them.  I thought they were beautiful, and I was very proud of them.  I loved being in that room!

As my children became older, however, they referred to my work of art as "gay" curtains.  It's was very odd to me that "all the colors of the rainbow" meant something completely different to my children.  About a year ago, I finally had to replace those old curtains.  It was a sad day for me.  The curtains I made this time around are from one fabric.  It was a much more expensive fabric than my original curtains.  I lined them with better fabric, as well.  I like them.  They go with my family room. quite nicely -- but nothing could ever replace my stained glass curtains!

Kids, laugh all you want -- but sunshine coming through the colors of the rainbow still make me happy.  Mom, thanks for teaching me that beauty is seen in many ways -- and it doesn't have to be expensive.  I miss you.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Paper Maze Post 9/11

It is increasingly difficult to move freely in a world that seems otherwise to move too quickly.  It is becoming very difficult to prove who you are to those who need (or may not need) to know.  To say that "Big Brother" is watching is pure understatement.

Anticipating that my daughter would be serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I encouraged her a couple of months ago to get her passport in case she was called to serve outside of the United States.  Kids being kids, she ignored me until she actually received the mission call to Brazil.  Then I insisted she move quickly because we both have heard that getting a visa to Brazil takes time.

First revelation:  The website for information for a passport says, "Warning, the rules have changed," or something to that effect.  As of April 1, 2011, a passport applicant has to submit a birth certificate that has been issued within the last year!  In addition, that birth certificate must list the full names of the parents.  We now were faced with having to get a new birth certificate for our little missionary.

Second revelation:  My daughter's original birth certificate listed my husband's middle name as "LER," when it should be "LEROY."  This put Mom into panic mode.  I could not imagine that I would not have caught that error when my daughter was born -- I'm a legal secretary -- trained to look at legal documents with careful eyes.  On closer examination, it looked like there was a possibility that the "OY" might have just rubbed off over the last 21 years, as other letters were starting to become faint.  (I was hoping that I didn't miss an error because she was the fourth child instead of the first.)

At first, we were going to fill out paperwork for an amended birth certificate just in case we needed it.  My research uncovered the fact that an amended birth certificate would take MONTHS to complete.  Notarized statements are required from both parents, as well as one from the hospital medical records department stating the error.  An "Amendment Specialist" is assigned to the "case."  We decided to go to the County Recorder's office, order her birth certificate, and just see what it said.  FORTUNATELY, my husband's name really is LEROY on her birth certificate.  After we had the new one in our hands, we pulled out the old one to show the County Recorder.  She was absolutely amazed that the old birth certificate had deteriorated to that extent.  She also verified that had my daughter needed an amended birth certificate, it would have taken "a very long time."  This is really interesting to me because my first-born child has an amended birth certificate because of an error in my husband's age -- and that only took a couple of weeks to accomplish -- but then that was in 1977 -- long before 9/11.

In spite of the birth certificate scare, her passport application was submitted (expedited) Monday afternoon -- which is great since she only received her mission call last Thursday evening.  She should have her passport in the next two weeks.  Hopefully, the process for the visa will move as quickly.

In this fast-paced world, it seems crazy that our freedom to move around has become so entangled in red tape and scary paperwork.  We may not have numbers engraved in our foreheads, but have you tried to do anything without a Social Security number, birth certificate (issued within the last year remember), driver's license, and proof of insurance lately?  If you book an airline flight, you have to give them your birth date and your name exactly as it is on your driver's license.  Passports now have "chips" so we can be tracked -- of course, so do cell phones these days.  I get lectured by bank tellers (until I put them in their place) each time I go to the bank because I don't own an ATM card.  I don't need or want an ATM card!!  If they want my business, they can give me customer service!

Where do we draw the line between fear and privacy?  Osama Bin Laden may be dead, but in a lot of ways, he won -- we no longer live in a land of the free and the home of the brave.  We live in a land of fear and red tape.  I'm not an expert on the scriptures by any stretch of the imagination, but if I were a betting woman, I'd bet we aren't too far from the Second Coming.