Sardines and Food Allergies

This past weekend I took our Princess up to my alma mater where her sister is also a student for their annual event, where alumnae are encouraged to bring young women of all ages to visit as prospective students.  I enjoy it immensely as it has become something of a mini-reunion with fellow classmates, and it culminates in a scholarship fund-raising theater event–STUNT–which I loved when I was there and still love now.

Our Princess has enjoyed going for the past two years, and this year was no exception.  She had her “bag” packed by the middle of last week and woke up on Saturday SO excited.  She knows her way around campus very well, and she has the routine of the day down by now.  However, they did something new this year as an icebreaker.  The younger set of students played a game of “Sardines,” which has best been explained to me as a game of reverse hide and seek.  One person hides, and as you find her, you join her in her hiding spot, until there is one person left seeking all of you.

My girl ditched me and her bags faster than you can say “Golden Heart” (the class she will be at Wesleyan) and headed out for the game.  I was tempted to follow her out into the hall, but I didn’t.  I let her play and found myself holding my breath.  Worrying about how close she could potentially be with others who might have just eaten some of her allergens made me nervous.  I sat there, worrying and yet amazed at how eager she was to go play with these other girls, some of whom she sees once a year and some whom she had never met.  She had a great time, and all was well.  Then it was on to the mini-STUNT scripting activity, and after we took a break during the campus tours.  Later we joined all the others by the fountain for supper (we always brown bag these events), and then it was time for a pep rally and off to the main event in the auditorium.

A great night.  Aub was a part of the team who put the whole thing together, and they did a fantastic job.

On our way home after 11 p.m. that night, I asked our Princess what her favorite part of the day had been. I was sure it was going to be our visit to the campus store or her beloved Golden Hearts winning the STUNT Cup, but no.

“It was when we played Sardines in Taylor Hall, and then later when we played a modified version around the fountain after supper.”

Bless.

Y’all.

Of course.  Her two favorite times were when I wasn’t hovering.  Obsessing over clean hands and what she might be exposed to in the midst of a day outside our norm.

Bless her.  Her two favorite times were both when she had handed me the epipen case she wears cross body style whenever we leave home.  The two times when she let loose and was just another kid running around with friends and some who will be.

It’s hard, isn’t it?  This whole parenting thing and knowing when to let go and when to be on guard.  Add in a life-threatening allergy (or any number of other health issues), and the difficulty level in being a good, balanced parent grows exponentially.

I’m glad she had a great time.  I’m thankful she was safe.  I don’t know what the answer is, from one situation to the next–how vigilant to be without being obsessed and way overprotective.  There’s no precedent here for me, and I’m just doing the best I can in any situation we find ourselves in.  It was bittersweet to be reminded that she only wants what the rest of us want–to fit in and be a part of a good time and not be reminded of what weighs us down.

May we all have those precious moments.

Love to all.

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For more information about food allergies and research, go to http://www.foodallergy.org

 

 

Identity Theft and Taking Life by the Tail

Just another Cooter story to share a smile with you this weekend.

We watch some cooking shows together as a family.  These are usually recorded so we can zip through commercials.  Yeah, our time is that precious.  (And yeah, the commercials are usually that bad.)

Sometimes one of the remote controller people (read me or the Fella) will have gotten up for a minute and miss fast forwarding quite as quickly as we would like.  Sometimes (movie/tv show previews) this results in someone (me) hollering, “Noo, close your eyes! Plug your ears! Nononononono!”

*sigh*

A couple of nights ago, we were watching and the beginning bits of a commercial came on that was about identity theft.  Well, the prevention of it.  You know, one of those services.  To protect you.

As we fast forwarded, I caught some curious glances from the littles.  Sure enough, our Princess couldn’t sleep. She came in after 10:30 that night and said she couldn’t sleep.

“Mama, can someone steal my identity?”

“Well, you’re not on-line, so I’m going to go with no.  Nope.  They can’t.”

She nodded.  This seemed to comfort her, which I was glad about.

It wasn’t until the next morning that I realized it was on Cooter’s mind more than him repeating the words “identity theft” over and over and over the night before.

He came and found me still in my bed underneath my pile of covers including the huge handmade afghan I rescued from the GW Boutique.  It was cold and I was reticent to get out and face it.  He gave me a big hug good morning.  He rooted around in some things next to his Daddy’s nightstand and brought up the Star Wars window decals his Daddy got for Christmas.  We talked about putting them on Daddy’s car and mine.  And then he dropped the bomb, “Daddy wants to park his Z in the garage when it gets fixed.”

He looked sideways at me, awaiting my reaction.  The Z is his Daddy’s “baby.”  She’s getting some long-awaited engine work done, so she’s not here right now.  I caught the glint in his eye, so I decided to play it up.

“Nooooo!  Once we finish cleaning out the garage, I’m parking my car in the garage!  If anybody’s parking in there, I am!”  I really put it on thick.

That boy laughed.  Oh my heart.

“Yeah, if he parks the Z in there, I’m going to go out there and push it back out!”

Oh me.

“No buddy, that won’t be cool.  I’m just teasing.  But it is nice to know you’re looking after me.”  I paused. “Are you going to take care of me one day when I get old?”

He was looking at his book.  He shrugged.

“C’mon bud, I don’t know if I can count on the girls.  Will you take care of me?”

He knew I was messing with him.  He nodded, “Yeah, because they’re boring.”

Then he said, “I will but you have to come live in CooterLand with me.”

Ah yes.  CooterLand.* (And that’s the correct spelling. I just asked.  But he says it more like Koo-ter-len.)  This is all a part of his real estate he’s hoping to accrue.  He wants to build his own country.  It sounds like a peaceful place, but everyone will have Nerf guns, so I’m really not sure.

“And in CooterLand, no one can steal your identity or your money, because I have a plan.”

And there it is.  He was concerned.

“Yeah, you do?  What is it?”

“Well, they can’t get your money because in Cooterland, you have points you can spend, and they’re all stored inside your phone.”

“Interesting.  So you just use your phone to get what you need?”

“Yep.  And you don’t have to worry about someone stealing your phone because it knows who you are and no one else can use it.”

Huh.  Where was this going?

“See, it uses technology and it scans your eye.  And it will only open up for that one person because of their eyescan.”

Wow.

I have to say, I’m impressed.

When I was his age, I was afraid of the dark.  And death.  And that ghost story where the line goes, “I’m on the first step…..I’m on the second step…..”

Yeah.  Terrified.

And here he is, just turned eight.  He heard something that gave him pause.  He asked what it was, and he came up with a solution.

That right there.

I am a little excited to see where life is going to take him.

No.  Wait.

I’m excited to see where he’s going to take life.

Because he’s already taking life by the tail and giving it what for.

Already.

May we all find the courage to face our fears and turn them upside down.

Love to all.

 

 

*CooterLand–name has been changed, well, obviously.  But when it’s open, you will know it, because it will be the most awesome country around.  And well, there’ll be all those Nerf guns.  🙂

 

turning around

her little feet moved smoothly along the sidewalk

gliding, one foot in front of the other

as she enjoyed the cool air

and sniffed the smells along the way

 

I walked along behind her

my pace not as smooth,

as the worries and to do’s

and thoughts about what was next

raced through my mind

 

the only thing linking her carefree heart

and mine,

the leash I held in my hand

 

as she finished the task at hand

I turned around for us to head back home,

where the things that were before me

were piled up such that I found it hard to see

 

I looked up and my eyes

focused on the painting before me,

and it took my breath away

and I was still

and I knew that it was You

 

You had given me this gift

and in that moment,

and for a few after,

my mind was quiet

and all that had weighted down my steps

was gone

 

I’m sorry for all the gifts

from You I’ve left unopened

The times I didn’t turn around

but instead continued on

in the muddle of mad thoughts,

thinking I could outwalk the

worries and woes and wickedness

of this life

 

I am sorry I didn’t turn around

and be still

and see that You were there

 

 

always

 

there

 

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Sometimes we have to stop and turn around to be able to see who has our backs…..

The Weight of Worries and Woes

Some days life is hard.

Not because of what has happened, but because of what could happen.

All the coulds and mights and maybes and what ifs.

Those can pile up on a soul and wear her slap out.

This soul anyway.

I’m tired, y’all.  Between a headache for days and those doggone what ifs and might could happens, I could use a break.

Or I might need a nap.

Yesterday evening I saw this quote shared on Facebook–

“In many shamanic societies, if you came to a medicine person complaining of being disheartened, dispirited, or depressed, they would ask one of four questions:  “When did you stop dancing? When did you stop singing?  When did you stop being enchanted by stories?  When did you stop being comforted by the sweet territory of silence? ” –Gabrielle Roth

This gave me pause.  A long pause.  And a good cry.

Suffice to say–it’s been a while.

On most of it.

I need to let go of the fear, as best as I can, and move forward, dancing and singing and listening to great stories again.  I want to find the place where all that can happen.  And perhaps most important of all, I need to find comfort and not feel trepidation in the moments of silence.  I need to seek silence and embrace it and all that it can teach me.

It’s worth a try to attempt to find a relief from the weight of all the worries and woes of the world.

May you find a moment to dance or sing or find delight in a story and may silence find you and give you peace.

 

Love to all.

 

 

 

The Cacophony of the Week–Playing Catchup

Tonight’s catchup post is brought to you by a stomach bug/fever suffering young’un and a tired Mama.

First of all, this happened this week.

The green in our foyer.  I love this color.

The green in our foyer. I love this color.

This color, out of all of them, was the most stubborn.  It took three or four coats.  The first one looked like my littles had painted the wall.  It was such a thin paint.  I’m learning all about bases and the like.  Base C, and a color with as much yellow in it as this one–those take way more than just two coats.  But I LOVE it.  It just suits.  Us. The room.  This house.  It does.  And there’s a lesson in this.  The two colors I love the most, this green and the gold in the kitchen/living room–I had no samples for.  Not that I will give up trying samples out.  I like the ones I chose after trying way too many colors out, but these two I ran out of time and had to get the gallons needed THEN.  I took a huge leap of something and made the choice.  The gold without backup and the green with my Fella and Aub sharing their thoughts.

From the green of the foyer to the pink of the soon to be library.  Yeah, we go from Kermit to Miss Piggy.  That makes me smile.

From the green of the foyer to the pink of the soon to be library. Yeah, we go from Kermit to Miss Piggy. That makes me smile. (and it looks better than this picture shows)

And turns out I love what happens when I make a choice without obsessing over it.  Is there a lesson in this?  Perhaps.  But I’m a really slow learner.

 

Cooter took this picture of his empty cake saucer.  He loved his chocolate cake.  There wasn't a chance to take a picture of it before it was eaten.  He's just that fast.

Cooter took this picture of his empty cake saucer. He loved his chocolate cake. There wasn’t a chance to take a picture of it before it was eaten. He’s just that fast.

And this happened.  With a child with severe food allergies, we don’t go to a lot of restaurants.  And we especially do not do buffets.  The risk for cross-contamination is just too great.  The last buffet I remember us going to, looking back, I realize she had a mild reaction.  That was before the bad one that made me wake up and start carrying an epi-pen everywhere.

Wednesday was the day I met Mr. A. A. Law in person and finished handling some business for my Great Aunt and Mama.  For those who might be wondering, I behaved myself.  I apologized to the women whom I inadvertently took my frustrations out on via a bad attitude when I spoke on the phone with them last week.  I was prepared to have a conversation with Mr. Law if the opportunity presented itself.  It did not.  And I’m okay with that.  But I acted like I was raised to behave, and that’s all that concerns me.

His office was right across the street from Side Tracks, the buffet restaurant that my Great Aunt used to take us to.  Cooter, who made the trip with me–exactly because he figured we’d have to eat out and he really wanted to,  joined me there for a trip down memory lane.  He’s been there before, back when he ate baby food sitting in his car seat/carrier.  He doesn’t remember going at all.  When his little eyes got over the disappointment over so many vegetables (he’s a self-proclaimed fruitatarian, y’all) and he chose some rice, catfish, and a biscuit, he saw the desserts.  Cake and pie slices wrapped securely under plastic wrap.   He looked, with his eyes popping, “Whaaat is thaaaat?”  “Dessert, buddy.”  “Can I have some?”  Sure, I said.  And he was off.  He carefully perused and chose a slice of chocolate cake.  Bless him.  The joy in that little guy that day is a memory I hope to treasure for a long time.  He took pictures of the plates on the table and he was fascinated with my catfish bones.  If I may for just a minute indulge in a bit of pity pot sitting, food allergies stink.  I wish I could take our Princess too.  I wish we could go in a restaurant without mapping out a game plan first.  I wish I didn’t have to quiet my anxieties every time we have a meal prepared by someone else.  But we do.  And I will do it over and over to keep her safe.  And maybe my meal with my little guy was all the more special because we can’t do it all the time.

And then there’s this.

"Sophie!"

“Sophie!”

"What?"  :)

“What?” 🙂

Miss Sophie sure worried us all after her fairly routine surgery.  She wouldn’t get up and walk around.  I called the vet.  Twice.  One time at 11:30 at night.  He is a kind, understanding person, and I’m thankful for that.  He knows I’m overprotective and a worrier, but when Miss Sophie wasn’t up and walking around three days after surgery, I knew something was wrong.  Turns out maybe she doesn’t like accessorizing.  When I took her cone off, she got up and started moving.  Slowly at first, but then she was back to her old self.  And that little face and wagging tail on the one who barks and pouts when I leave the room–I am thankful for her.

 

Lastly, I was reminded today of what little good it does for me to worry over things.  Things in the future.  Now, don’t think I’m going to stop.  I’m a work in progress and change for me will take as long as the rerouting of Highway 96 out my way will take.  LONG time.  Still.  Lesson learned.  Again.  I’ve been worrying for a week over how to fit things in and do what we were supposed to do today and tomorrow.  I just about had it all figured out, after much worry and figuring and planning, and then this morning at 4 a.m. I heard a little voice next to my bed.  “Mama, I feel like I have to throw up.”  Followed by proof.

And just like that.  Plans for today and tomorrow cancelled.  (Tomorrow’s cancellation was validated by a fever this evening.  Yeah, we’re staying put for a while.)

All that worry for naught.  I do that a lot.  Burn a lot of energy and wear myself out doing just that.  Worrying.

But with Anxiety Girl as my BFF, how could it be otherwise?

Wishing you all a day filled with surprises and good things as full as the dessert bar at Side Tracks.

Love to all.

 

and so I love

I scan the room for him

no sign of his face, those eyes, that smile

I walk to the door and peer outside

someone is lying in the grass, in the sun

napping

or so it seems

It is my friend, my brother

and I am glad he is resting

The rain has poured for days

and his camp was flooded

So now he sleeps

under the sun that for today is a friend

but will soon, in a month or so, become

the enemy

making the out-of-doors unbearable

all over again

I walk over and tease him

He looks up and grins

always in good spirits when he’s had a drink

or a few

He went to church he says

and he is pleased with himself

with the church, the pastor

with the words he heard and sang

They mean something to him

For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?

these words from Matthew 6:25 he hears and agrees with

“you know,” he says to me, looking me in the eyes, squinting in the sun, ” I am like that.  I don’t worry where my food is coming from”

and then his words break my heart

“I know which dumpsters to look in if I’m hungry”

the pain shows on my face

“Don’t look like that–it’s okay–some friends, they put food there, in separate bags”

the image stops me cold

my friend doesn’t worry

he takes life in stride

he finds his food in bags in dumpsters

put there by friends, by kind souls, who know

who anticipate

someone might come along and need the leftovers

the cast-off food,

what can no longer be served?

“oh ye of little faith” echoes in my head

and volleys back and forth

with “the Lord helps those who help themselves”

I don’t know which says what anymore

about my journey and where I am

I no longer know how to help my friend

and so I listen, and I tell him I’m glad

he can find food so easily

though this is so foreign to me

and just beyond my comprehension

I live in a bubble, I think to myself sometimes

I am not strong or aware or making a difference

and so I listen, and I tell him to take care, be careful

He says he is, asks me the time

the time is 3:30 and that only marks for him how much longer

he will be able to lie in the sun

before the gate will be locked for another day

He tells me he will nap

and then head back into the woods, hoping the sun and wind

have been his friend

and dried his tent and blankets

and other things of his

I wish I could take him home with me, or put him in a room

somewhere dry and safe and warm when the night winds blow

but we tried finding him a place, a place of help and

sanctuary and refuge and challenge

and he did well for a while

but in the end, the wind called him back

the bottle sang her alluring song

and, in the words of my Daddy, who had the same blue eyes

and wrinkles when he laughed

“You can want it for them,

but you can’t make them do it”

I can’t make him want sobriety

or a home or to be any different than he is

and I won’t ask him to be anyway

And so I listen

and I love

I love on days that the laughter is slurred

and on days the words are clear

on days my friend is clean and fresh

and on days he misses the sign up for a shower

or doing laundry

I love my friend when he laughs and I love him

when the sadness rolls in

like a heavy fog following an afternoon storm

I love him when the dreams are big and beautiful

and when the nightmares are scary and dark

I don’t have much left to give him

but love

and hope

and acceptance

and

wonder–wondering about that faith of his, is it strength of faith

or foolhardiness

that gives him peace about food and the next day and life

as he lies in the afternoon sun?

God spoke to my friend, this man I call brother

and brought him peace,

peace for today

and for that

tonight

I give thanks