Friday, September 18, 2009

Aunt Carol

Aunt Carol,

It doesn't seem like it has been a year. I took this picture of you at your Happy Heaven Party, though we didn't call it that to you. August 2008 was when we got confirmation that your cancer had returned. As we knew that you would, you took the option of chemotherapy. Anything that would buy you more time, you were for. You knew that the chemotherapy could be the final nail, though. They told us that it could put you into an immediate coma state. They told us that it could just shut your brain down immediately. What they did tell us was that it wouldn't buy you much time. Still, you wanted it. As a surprise, the picnic was pulled together. In a few days, your kids contacted as many people as we could get together and we descended upon your humble little home. You were so surprised! You were so happy to be surrounded by everyone. This was what we grew up doing. It only seemed that a farewell picnic to you be done for you in the very same way that we celebrated family birthdays nearly every month for nearly every year of our lives in youth.

I spent so much time at your house. After all, you were my Godmother. And you were my Godmother until your last breath.

When my parents were divorcing, we lived at your house that summer.

I spent so many nights at your house and did the paper route with my cousins so many times that I could have done it myself. To this day I remember house, skip, skip, house, skip, house. We assembled papers, delivered them and collected payment for the paper. The miles we walked. The stories we told while doing it.

I was playing on a skid at your house, fell and blackened both of my eyes.

We made the poor kid's version of the Slip and Slide in your backyard using plastic sheeting. We also made a kiddie pool with a wooden frame and plastic sheeting.

You had an awesome swingset. It was only swings, but the swingset was so big that we spent hours and hours flipping over the side support bars.

I used to always go to your house to make Easter chocolates. I painted so many molds that I can't even guess the number. I probably walked away looking like a chocolate mercken, because I ate so many!

You had cable and I remember watching Goonies at your house for the very first time.

I fell off a horse while visiting your house, mom had to come back for me to go to the hospital to get 11 stitches across the back of my head. I was trying to ride bareback. When I slid off, I smacked my head on a rusty hay trailer. Ouch.

I began my journey of monthliness at your house. You gave me the talk. You gave me the stuff. You told me what to do. In fact, I didn't tell my mom, because you took care of all the details.

You always had a cake dome of cookies in the middle of the table and American cheese slices in the refrigerator door. Everytime I came in, I always beelined for the cheese. You laughed each and every time.

Your door was always open. You accepted everyone. If there was someone in need, you were there to help. You did foster parenting until you decided that you couldn't keep a child temporarily and give them back with no contact. You said that the next child that was placed with you, you would adopt. You did. That is how Jon came to be in our family.

Before your friend Joann passed away, you promised that you would take care of her children. You did. You took them in as your own. They lived with you. Ate with you. They were there at your very last breath and you treated their children as your grandchildren. They were listed as such in your obituary, too.

When I was first married, I would call you and my mom nearly every night when I was cooking dinner. Between the two of you, you talked me off the cooking ledge and got me to where I needed to go.

I remember when you were diagnosed with your brain tumor. It was July 2005, K- was 18 months old, we had just heard about her brother and were in the process of trying to get him. Both you and Grandma Gum were diagnosed with stage 4 cancer in less than a weeks time. I was working and doing VBS at the same time. My house was also infested with fleas. I thought that I was going to lose my mind. I threatened to dig a hole in the backyard and put my head in until the crap stopped. But then, Grandma Gum started radiation, was told that she could live a long and healthy 10 years anyhow with her cancer. You had surgery to remove the walnut-sized tumor (Glioblastoma) from your temporal lobe, started chemotherapy and radiation and you seemed to be doing okay. Though we wanted him, K-'s brother was taken in by his father's family. The fleas? Yes, they ended up going away. Eventually.

You started your pretty intense road of prayer. That was the same road that you were riding up until your last cognitive moment.

I'll never forget that, either. I was just getting ready to go on the overpass, turn to enter the expressway and my cell phone rang. I had just dropped K- off for the day, you were intensely in my thoughts as we knew that your last days were numbered. It was you. You were asking for prayer. You were asking not only for yourself, but for others.

You always thought of others no matter how times were for you. May I always remember that lesson you taught me.

I miss you. I miss your having lost track of time and calling me at 6 AM. I missed my birthday call. I miss you calling me in the morning to sing, "Good morning, good morning, good morning to you. Good morning, good morning and how do you do?"

It's just not the same without you. It would be selfish to want you back. Though the brain tumor had been removed, your brain had been cancered. You suffered from brain swelling as a result of the cancer, which ended up twisting your brain stem. Though you didn't complain, we started to see you beginning to slip about 9 months before your re-diagnosis.

You are in a beautiful place. Poppy is in his chair, Grandma is rocking my baby and you are in the kitchen, baking cookies and keeping stock of American cheese slices.

Just know that I miss you more than I can possibly say.



For more information about Glioblastoma brain tumors, please feel free to go to This is an organization that my cousins have adopted to raise awareness of brain tumors and cancers. Hopefully one day we can make this stop.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Red Phone Rang

My second post for the day, but one that deserved a mention.

Remember my reference to the Presidential War Phone? The red phone? Yes, well, I got a call from K-'s school today telling me that she had fallen ill at lunch.


I'm happy to report that though Hubs was worried that the kids would laugh and made fun of her for her digestive distress, she reported that the kids were sad for her. Sometimes kids are a bit more understanding than people give them credit to be.

When I went to get her, the poor thing was so sad and crying. She apologized to me for getting sick. She apologized for a minute amount getting on her shirt. She was sad to miss gym and Mr. Gymsocks. She was sad that she wasn't going to get her Kinderbucks. "You see. They have their heads down and they are resting. I'm so sad that I don't get to!"

Poor dear. I'm thrilled that she loves school that much.

For now, we are on the 7-up diet. Hopefully we can call it the 7-down diet, as up is not the direction we wish to go. The animal saltines seem to be sitting, though a stomachache has started and I'm wondering if another attack of stomach no-thank-youness will commence shortly.

As for the rest of you, may your red phones remain silent.

Ending my work week on a high note.

As I was shutting the nightlights out, we still had a few people milling around the store. There were ladies who walked in, noticed the lights being turned out, but I asked if there was something that I could help with. "I was wondering if you could give me the price on something." "Sure. I'll see what I can do." She takes me out to our courtyard, points to the biggest hanging item and tells me that is the one she wonders about. I found the price. "$1100.00." I stepped down and waited a moment. "Yes, I believe that is the one." "Would you like me to take it down for you?" "Yes." I was doing jumping jacks inside. I was slightly bummed when I found that its weight was that of a small car and I couldn't take it off the wall, so I went to our sister store and drafted my good buddy, Joe. "I'd like a 314, please and if you could bring it to our counter, that would be great." Everyone jaws just dropped. Mine had already dropped, so I was basically dragging it along in happy end-o-the-day sales bliss.

Joe carried the item over, made a big curly bow for it and everything. Another coworker and the son-in-law of the owners helped me to empty out the back storage area of the van that the woman was driving, to get everything loaded, covered so no one could see and it wouldn't rip up the seats or carpeting, re-pack her prior purchases and get her off and on her way.

In the end, her total amounted to more than $1800.00. I danced. I look more like Elaine Benes when I dance, but I danced. :)!

Smiles in my day:
- Well, obviously the sale above had me beaming!
- The customer who complimented me on saying hello to her and her friend when they entered our store. She said that in the years that she has shopped at the gallery, never once has anyone ever told her hello. So sad, but I tell everyone who walks in hello. Habit from the previous gallery.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Works for Me Wednesday: Restaurant butter pats

Two weekends ago, we had my in-law's over to celebrate my father-in-law's birthday. We decided to have a cookout on our fire pit/grill. Since they brought us corn, we thought it a perfect opportunity to have some roasted corn with our dinner. The fire was all set. The corn had been soaked in salt water for about a half hour. It was ready to roast. Then the father-in-law announces, "What we need is some spray butter." "I don't have spray butter." "Oh, whatever liquid butter you have is fine." "I have no liquid butter. I have sticks of butter." "No, no." "I have a tub of Smart Balance." "No."

Hmm. I went in, feeling slightly defeated that I didn't have the butter that the FIL likes, but the corn was a surprise, so it wasn't like I forgot it. I opened the refrigerator and as the light came on, the angels started to sing. I saw it. My saving grace!


Weird, I realize, but these were the pats in the little plastic package with the foil pull off top. (My aunt receives meals for the blind and doesn't use the butter pats that come with her meals, so she passes them on to me.) They were the perfect size and since they were refrigerated, they were hard enough to hold in the package so that we could easily butter the whole ear, while protecting our fingers from heat and mess. Even my mother-in-law was impressed with how easily it worked!

The butter pats are the perfect size for throwing into macaroni and cheese, quick meal noodles and rices, potatoes and vegetables. No reason for perfectly good real butter to go to waste! I'm so happy to have them on hand when I need!

Smiles in my day:
- I survived my very first PTA meeting and I didn't sign my life away for 10,000 activities. I volunteered to serve cookies at the quarterly awards assemblies, 3-times-a-year RIF book giveaway (they give 3 books to each student 3x per year!), cookie baking for the Post Office sponsored "orphan" Thanksgiving dinner and to take some photos every now and then throughout the year for the year book. Well, I'm also on as a room parent who will help with cookies/craft supplies for 3 parties throughout the year. Easy enough. I help. I'm involved. I'm there for K-, but I also have a life and am able to clean the house and eventually get the kitchen painted.
- Freeing the store of orange sale stickers. I'm so tired of seeing the sale stickers.
- Getting my co-workers so addicted to Oscillococcinum that I had to place a huge order through the Vitamin Shoppe to take care of their needs. (I order, they pay, it's all good.) It was $10.35 for 12 doses. (I did have a 10% off coupon.) That's actually pretty cheap when you realize that the one girl was paying $10.00 for 6 doses. It's good stuff.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Tales from the Trenches: Are people really thoughtless and disgusting?

On Saturday, Kim and I went to the opening game at the new football stadium for the local university. What a treat to go to an event and see the facility when it is pristine. (Yeah, yeah and the game, but I'm going with a theme here.) We were right of center field, 15 rows up. We were in patron seating.

Can I tell y'all a secret? The patrons? They were pigs. P. I. G. S. Got a soda? They left the cup behind. So many water bottles were strewn about that near the end of the game, the kids were gathering them up and lining them up along the abandoned benches. Wrappers. Napkins. Peanut shells. Do they realize the hazard that peanut shells present to folks that are allergic? I'm guessing not.

So, they took the once pristine stadium that took several years in planning and building, 17,000 yards of cement, 408,000 bricks and they trashed it. Why? Well, obviously someone must clean it up, so why not give someone job security, right?

In a stadium that was jam-packed with a sold out seated crowd of 27,000, but probably accommodated 1000 more on the student lawn seating, I suppose it could be much worse. Even if we hadn't won 41-0, I mean, where is the respect?

The plastic bag lined, cylindrical things at the exits? Those would be for garbage. Please utilize them. Thank you.

Smiles in my day:
- Joe did the red rover and hung out with us today.
- Selling the lady this morning the beautiful and huge Fire and Light shallow copper colored glass bowl with the smaller bowl to match. Selling the salad tongs to her to, telling her what a gorgeous centerpiece a salad would be in that fantastic, handcrafted dish. Then, the salad bowl a good 2 feet in diameter, and the complimenting pieces needed wrapped. It took me a half hour, but she was rather impressed. I carried it out for her and she was thrilled to tell me it was her first trip. We had impressed her. We had impressed $440.00 out of her, as well. It was the sale that saved our day in the little off-shoot store.
- My daughter volunteering to sit between the two boys that kept "touching each other, mommy," because no one else volunteered. "You wanna know somethin', Mom?" "What, baby?" "They still ended up touching each other anyway."
- The folks waiting on their porch this morning for K- to gallop by. Hilarious, I tell you!
- My friend, Kim, and my husband telling me about how the walking I've been doing has been toning a bit here and there. Kim told me that I looked FABULOUS! That made me more than smile. God love her.
- Hubs just showed me this. Alice in Chains is coming out with a new album 9/29! This is huge, since Layne Staley died in 2002. The new lead singer? Sounds just like Layne. We are so excited for this! (It's the big things in life, you know.)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

I promised that I would pull this out of the archives. Can I stick to it? Let's hope so. Here goes!

Monday: Macaroni Monday brought to us by Hubs.
Tuesday & Wednesday: Crockpot Kielbasa Soup
Thursday & Friday: Chicken pot pie (crockpot whole chicken)
Saturday: Sammie Saturday-- Chicken salad sandwiches (reserved chicken from p/pie whole roaster), cherry tomatoes and whatever else comes to mind.
Sunday: Crockpot pork chops, whole grain rice and sides.

Yes, I'm dusting off the crockpots. (I have three and there are times I've used all three.) We have entered fall and the many things that happen in fall. M-W, I work. Thursday morning after I walk K- to school, I'm going to try to have a bike riding date with my friend, Kim and her friend. Thursday is my cleaning day and God willing, I'll finish purging the toys this week. Friday I've committed myself to packaging the Fall Festival cookies for church, which is a 9 AM-1:45 PM job. Saturday is the Fall Festival and we are going to hang with Kim, her hubs and their two kids. Since we'll be there all day, I've decided to do an easy dinner that we can just whip together quick. Just yesterday, we started Festival choir. That will be my Sunday obligation from now through the Christmas season. It is from 4:30-6 PM and the first Sunday of the month is our Leadership meeting.

Can we say busy?

I love my crockpot. Perhaps the small group of us that gather here would be interested in having our own crockpot recipe swap? Maybe others would be interested? Let me know what y'all think. Maybe we could by the end of the month? I'm pretty lame at the computer design thing, or I'd make a button. So let's think in print for a moment. Hmmm. Shall we say September 28th for the 1st annual Bailey's Leaf Lovin' on the Crockpot Fest? Y'all, I need some new recipes. HELP!

Smiles in my weekend:
- The game on Saturday! We had so much fun!
- Starting a new study at church on being a Peace Maker. I walked into the study blindly and was half way frightened to open the door, as I knew that personally I would hold myself to attending the entire 13 weeks. (I commit and don't flit.) I was so happy to see that it was something that I could really use.
- Writing messages to Kim's kids on their windows. Later they called me to tell me that I was "busted." Don't worry. I used white crayon and it wipes right off.
- K- continues to read books TO us. Amazing, I tell you. Now, again, it is by sight and with picture clues, but it is working for her. She is recognizing more and more words, though. (She points them out as we read to her.) We have been working with her on sounding things out, but Hubs was pulling out the Dumb and Dumber bit by saying "te-hee" for "the." I told him that once she has it and fully has it, he can goof with her. Not now. He apologized. It goes along with that time that he ran a Christmas Story bit with her when she was 2, showing her how to eat like a piggy. Yes, he had to do some re-programming. Poor guy. He apologized for that one, too.
- 42 people showed up to choir practice! Let's hope that we keep that number up or better! A crowded choir loft is better than a roomy one!
- K- had a time out kind of day. Tired and hungry don't work for her and when she doesn't listen to her body, it rebels and goes against her better judgment. When in an extended time out this evening (15 minutes), she fell asleep. The timer went off, Hubs yelled, "K-" and all we heard was a snort and snore. It was funny then, but not when I had to battle her later to get her back to bed because she had taken a cat nap while in time out!