The Good, The Bad, and The Amusing

I know I’m late on this, but…

Happy New Year, Y’all!

I’ve been wanting to write many times lately, but I’ve been in a particularly nasty MS relapse (going on week 7–yuck!), so my brain just wasn’t/isn’t working correctly.  2013 was a horrendous year, so much so that at the stroke of midnight on January 1, 2014, while everyone else was celebrating a New Year, I was screaming, “I survived!  I survived!”  And, even though I was hoping to start 2014 symptom free, that wasn’t in the cards.  It’s ok, I’m hopeful that things will improve soon.

No New Year’s Resolutions for me–I always hated that concept (you don’t need a new year to make a change in your life)–so I intend to do what I’ve already been doing.  Work on my faith, try to be a good mom and wife, fight for my health, and do it all with a smile, especially when I want to smile the least.  I also plan on laughing at myself…because, really, life is just too short to be so serious.  Plus, I find myself funny when no one else does.

I would love to share some wonderful insight from 2013 or say something amazing and inspiring about the upcoming 2014, but this disease messes with my already dim cognitive abilities.  So, since my writing abilities aren’t quite up to par yet, let’s do something easy, shall we?

2013…The Good, The Bad, and The Amusing.  A Year in Pictures:

Captain Jack Sparrow, the...Jedi???

Captain Jack Sparrow, the…Jedi???

 

 

January started with heartache…my paternal grandfather passed away on January 1.  Within the next 5 months, I would also lose my maternal grandmother, then grandfather.  My kids saw a lot of loss last year.

 

 

 

 

ms

 

In February, we finally got a glimpse of why I had been so ill for so long.  On Ash Wednesday (poetic, no?), it was first suggested that I had Multiple Sclerosis.  While researching my newfound friend, I came across this gem.  Since laughter is the way I deal with things, it totally hit home.

 

 

 

The Older Boy placed second in the Special Olympics:

special olympics

 

coffee

 

 

Leaving at 3:30am for one of our trips to Houston for testing, I see this.  Both were for The Husband.  You know it’s a big job when Batman is the back-up.

 

 

 

 

Going to my maternal grandfather’s funeral, I saw these signs posted all over.  So simple, yet so important.  This served as a gentle reminder that we are not alone, even when we feel complete isolation. 

pray

 

The Older Boy came home with this note at the end of the school year, and it completely touched my heart.  He may have a lot of struggles and may not be blessed with the same talents as other kids, but if he is someone who others describe as having a “selfless and giving heart,” that’s ok in my book.

sweet

 

I was very ill most of the summer, spending almost all of July in bed.  So, we tried to make the best of a bad situation with silliness at home:

I love it when I find things like this. Apparently, Superman is kicking butt on the roof, while a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle is getting a pizza from a dinosaur. I love to watch kids play!

I love it when I find things like this. Apparently, Superman is kicking butt on the roof, while a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle is getting a pizza from a dinosaur. I love to watch kids play!

I love the flame-gloves in the middle of summer, thereby proving his awesomeness.

I love the flame-gloves in the middle of summer, thereby proving his awesomeness.

I find these guys on the couch, obviously tired from battle. I'm not sure what happened, but I am sure of this: it was epic.

I find these guys on the couch, obviously tired from battle. I’m not sure what happened, but I am sure of this: it was epic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Older Boy is showing me his muscles after getting 2 shots. Soon after, we hear a baby crying/screaming very loudly, and he says, “you hear that baby? He got shots too! I’m brave. He’s not!”  Well, go ahead with your bad self…

brave

Apparently, his immunizations made him feel invincible, because a few days later, John Edward informed me that he is, in fact, Iron Man.  I don’t know about you, but I will now be sleeping better.

ironman

 

Just another reason why I love my sister…she has my back.  This was actually on the first day of my current relapse.  She has threatened MS many times, usually using terms like “shank.”  (We share the same freak sense of humor.)  One of my biggest supporters, she has been amazing this year.

caitlin text

 

The guys at the end of 'No Shave November.' Not my favorite look for either one of them, but good lookin' fellas regardless.

The guys at the end of ‘No Shave November.’ Not my favorite look for either one of them, but good lookin’ fellas regardless.

 

The Husband and his brother, both fully participating in “No Shave November.”  Jeremy is on the left…see how happy he is with all of that hair on his face?  Many a night I was tempted to shave him in his sleep!

 

 

 

 
serviceFrom one set of brothers to another.  The Younger Boy has waited, quite impatiently, since his First Communion to become an altar server.  Both Philip and John Edward served together–for the first time–during Thanksgiving Mass.  I was so nervous; I just knew that they would fight on the altar, but they proved me wrong, giving me something to truly be thankful for on that day.

 

In the beginning of December, we got great news!  My neurologist finally decided to make the formal diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis!  I know this may not sound like good news to you, but for us, it was a final answer, along with a game plan of how to fight this disease.  I started treatment a few weeks ago, and so far, so good.

meds

A new sign of our lives…

 

This was the scene pretty much every day from Thanksgiving to Christmas morning.  Anticipation, anyone?

anticipation

 

Lastly, a shot of myself.  Here’s how this came about:

“Mom, can I take your picture?” -Philip
“I guess…” –Me
“Will you post it on Facebook?” –Philip
“I’d rather not. I’m tired, I don’t have any make up on, I haven’t even brushed my hair, and I spent most of the day in the hospital. Not really up to sharing this look with others.”
“But you’re my mom, and I love the way you look. Even when you look like a mess. Pleeeease…”

 

How can you refuse that? So, against my better judgment, and throwing all dignity and vanity out of the window, here I am obliging the kid. (This was way after I had enough of this game, and I’m fussing at him to go to bed…according to Jeremy, this is my ‘mean face’ that he always sees. Ha!)

dignity

 

So, there’s 2013 in pictures.  Loss, illness, love, laughter, acceptance, and support.  If you look at the events from this year, it’s easy to say it was a really bad year.  If you look at the people, you can come to a quite different conclusion.

I choose to look to the positives, so I guess I can say it was a pretty good year.

Here’s to more of what’s great in 2014!  Whatever this year has in store for me, I know that I can make it through, especially when surrounded by such wonderful loved ones.

From my family to yours, we sincerely wish you a very Happy New Year.  May you find your positives in 2014.

boys

Apple Butter, My Grandmother, and The Cops…Nothing to See Here

It was two days before Thanksgiving, and my family was all a flutter.  We love Thanksgiving; it’s always been my favorite holiday of the year.  It’s such a simple holiday, just a meal with the ones you love.

For the past few years, the boys and I have made goodies for our friends and family as little “Thank You” gifts, and although I wasn’t feeling well, this year was no different.  The day before, we were busy making apple butter and pecan pie muffins, and now it was the fun part–delivering the goodies!

Just a few of our goodies, packaged and ready to go!

Just a few of our goodies, packaged and ready to go!

We also had plans to drive 45 miles to a nearby town to visit my grandmother.  I wasn’t going to be seeing her for Thanksgiving, and the boys and I were going to meet her for lunch to get some quality time in.

The day went on as planned.  We started off with Mass in the morning, delivered apple butter and muffins to our loved ones nearby, then headed off to meet my grandmother for lunch.  We visited with her for a few hours; the day was going so well!  The weather was very cold and wet, but our hearts were warm and happy.

But then…disaster.  (Not really, but wasn’t that dramatic?  Cue the music…)

We had to go to the church to meet a friend who was donating canned goods for The Younger Boy’s food drive (more on that later), and I was running late.  She was going into Adoration, and I wanted to meet her before she entered the chapel, so as to not disturb those praying.

Now, there is a road in our town that is a well-known speed trap.  The speed limit is ridiculously low, and there are usually cops hiding on the side of the road.  I know this and am usually really good about watching my speed, but I failed terribly on this day.

As I’m racing down the road (really not meaning to), I see the familiar white hood of a police car.  I uttered a “Crap!” under my breath and hit the brakes.  And, at first, I thought I had slowed down in time.  I passed the cop, holding my breath, and he didn’t turn around.

He didn’t turn around at first.

Soon after I passed him, I looked in the rearview to see him quickly coming up behind me. I’m watching to see if he’s going to put on the lights or siren, but so far, nothing.

Nothing except my kids acting like nuts.  They’re both on their knees, turned around, waving like maniacs at the cop.

Yeah, something like that.

Yeah, something like that.

“What are y’all doing?!?  Turn around and sit down!  He’s going to think you’re not wearing your seat belts.  You are wearing your seat belts, aren’t you?  And quit waving at him, we look guilty!”

We kept on for quite a little while, and I really thought he was going to let me go.  So, I pull into the church parking lot (which is where I was going anyway), put the car in park, then notice he has followed me.

And now he decides to put on his lights.

You’ve got to be kidding me.  Really???

The ringing church bells signaled 4pm, which is what time the rectory closes.  I quickly look in the direction of the office, which has a full view of the parking lot, and I see that the lights are still on.  Any other day, they would’ve been gone already.

Great!  Now, I’ll get a ticket in front of my friends.  This just keeps getting better.

The cop signals for me to meet him between the cars, and he asks the usual questions:

Hi Ma’am, you want to tell me what your hurry is?

I’m sorry.  I was trying to meet a friend here for 4, but as you can hear by the bells, I’m late.  (Shut up Amie!!!  He does not care that you are late!  He’s about to give you a ticket, you dummy!)  At this point, I actually considered telling him that I was picking up food for my 8 year old’s food drive, but I figured he would never believe me.  Plus, I was speeding, so I guessed I would take my ticket like a big girl.

I know the speed limit is low on that road, and I’m usually really good about not speeding on that road, I just wasn’t paying attention.  Oh, dear Lord, shut my mouth!  I am now admitting to the cop that I usually speed, just not on this particular road.  I swear, it was like I just couldn’t stop my mouth.  I guess my filter was broken.

Hmmm.  Well, you were going 40 in a 30.  I need your license and proof of insurance.

I turn to go back to the car to get the requested paperwork, and I can see my two kids waving at the cop like he was some long-lost family member.  Didn’t they know he was the enemy?

Plus, I see the rectory lights are still on, as well as the Ninja-Priest-Friend’s office.  Oh Geez…  I will never live this down–isn’t he supposed to be on vacation this week?

I get into the car, and now I have to deal with the kids’ questions:

  • Mommy, are you getting a ticket?
  • He’s not going to take you to jail, is he?
  • What did you do?  Did you run over someone?  (What?!?  Why would this even be a question???)

Guys, please be quiet.  Mommy is a little busy right now.  I’m getting a ticket because I was speeding.  It was my fault, I should’ve been paying more attention.

After I say this, I noticed the cop had appeared at my window, which was down and heard what I said.  He smiled.  Hmmm…maybe an admission of guilt will win me some brownie points…

So, the cop is at my window, I’m frantically looking for my proof of insurance, and the kids are still waving at said cop, even though they thought he was going to haul my butt off to jail just seconds earlier.

And, of course, in true Amie fashion, I cannot find my proof of insurance.  I had just paid the bill online, so I knew it was in good standing, but apparently we never printed the proof last time we renewed it.  The cop tells me he’s going to run my plates, and I tell him that I am calling The Husband to see if he knows where the proof of insurance is.  Of course he doesn’t–I love him, but he never knows where anything is.  He did, however, take the time to point out that I always criticize him for speeding down that same road.  Oh hypocrisy, you are an ugly one!

While the cop is running my plates, I tell the kids that they can go inside the chapel to get the food donation–the whole reason we’re here in the first place.

Then the phone rings.  It’s the Ninja-Priest-Friend.

Amie?

Yep.

Are you ok?

Oh, yeah.  I’m great.  I just decided to get humiliated today, and I felt the best way to do that was to get a ticket, and to get that ticket in front of my friends.

He laughs.  Ok, well do you need any help?

Nope.  I can handle this one all on my own, thanks.  Cop’s back, I gotta go.

Cop: Is that your husband?

No.  That’s actually my priest calling to see why I was getting pulled over in his parking lot.

Kids come running out of church, laughing and giggling, carrying bags of food donations.  The Older Boy yells “Hi Mr. Policeman!” as he hops in the car.

Cop looks at me a little crazy.  I’m thinking there is no way he is believing any of this…he pulls me over at the church, a priest is calling to check on us, and my boys are acting as if they are trying to win some “friendliest kid” award.

Well, I ran your plates, and your car is actually flagged as not having insurance, which is illegal in this state.

Are you serious?  It has to be a glitch!  I really do have insurance, and it is currently paid in full!  Can I–

So, what I could do is to give you a ticket for speeding, give you a ticket for no insurance, put a neon sticker on your car marking it illegal, and you’d have to go to the DMV to get it fixed.

I am fighting tears at this point.  All I could think of was “how much is this going to cost?”  I cry easily, but there was no way I was going to cry in front of this guy.  I was just so angry at myself for being so careless.

He continues:  That’s what I could do.  But I’m not.  Your record is clean, I’m off for Thanksgiving, and I’m in a good mood.  Here’s your license.

Wait, what?  Is he really letting me off???  This kind of stuff never happens to me!

Thank you so much!  I’m really not lying, we really were coming to the church.

I know.  I figured that when I saw you actually park in a spot.  Drive carefully.

Whew!  That was a close one!  He was a little arrogant, but I didn’t care.  I truly was thankful that he let me go.

He drove off, with the kids still waving to him.  Except this time, I was waving as well.  If I’m going to be viewed as crazy, I might as well live it up, right?

As we drove off, and I was starting to regain a little bit of pride, The Younger Boy tells me, “You know why you probably got off?  Probably because the people in the chapel prayed for you.  John went in there and told everyone you were getting a ticket.”

And, pride was gone again.

Thanks God, for the lesson in humility.  You always keep me grounded.

Not So Ordinary

It’s November, which means one thing: my Facebook feed is riddled with “today I am thankful for… posts.”  And, although I think these are great for the most part, for some people, I’m like,

november 2

I know.  I’m horrible.  Pray for me.

I very passionately think that we should be thankful every day for the blessings in our lives, regardless of how big or small, and I try to instill this belief into my children.  However, since being thankful is the theme of November, we do have a similar tradition in our household that we started last year.

Behold our family Thankful Tree of 2012:

Our tree from 2012

Basically, every night at dinner, each family member writes what they are thankful for that particular day on a leaf which is taped to the tree.  Here’s a close up:

2012 tree top

My favorite from last year was The Younger Boy’s leaf that read ‘Ninja Turtles.’  Because who doesn’t love the Ninja Turtles?!?  He also had a leaf for ‘good things that God made,’ showing us that once again how exceptional our then 7-year-old is.

This year, the kids were so eager to start the Thankful Tree again, that at the end of October, they were pestering me to cut out a million construction paper leaves.  We had to be ready for November 1!  And, we were.  Here’s our tree so far for 2013:

IMG_6073

And, as usual, my boys don’t disappoint.  On day 1, The Older Boy was thankful for cats.  Not us, not other family members, not his friends.  No.  His cats.  Which reminds me of this post.  Geez…that kid is so obsessive.  Is there such a thing as ‘cat detox?’  But, don’t fear, ‘cuz he’s also thankful for popcorn.  Hallelujah!!!

The Younger Boy is thankful for pilgrims and indians, as well as dolphins and sharks.  Apparently, he is in a contrasting mood lately.  Also, the leaf that reads ‘Jeremy,’ which is his father/The Husband, has devil horns and a tail.  I’m not sure yet if I should laugh at that one  or schedule therapy.

Kids are wonderful creatures.  They love everyone and everything, and sometimes they love these things equally.  My mom?  Awesome.  My cat?  Awesome.  Popcorn?  Aaaaa-mazing!!!

So, taking a cue from my kids, I’ve decided to list some of the not-so-obvious things that I’m thankful for.  God, my husband, my boys, my Church are a given, but there are many things that I am truly thankful for that may not seem so obvious to some.   Plus, after being so sick this year, you do gain a new perspective on things.  Things that I count as blessings today are things I took for granted yesterday.

Without further adieu, here are just a few of the things that I’m thankful for:

  • Every day that I feel well.  People always say that they are thankful for their health, but lose it, and you will really gain a new perspective.  I got dressed by myself today! Like a big girl!  Woo Hoo!
  • Razors.  No, I’m not joking.  The Husband is participating in ‘No Shave November’  and has had a full beard since November 3.  I’m currently resisting the temptation to shave him in his sleep.  So, yes, I’m thankful for razors.
  • December 1.  I know it’s not here yet, but this will be when The Husband, willing or not, will shave his face.  Come on, December!
  • I’m thankful that The Older Boy is oblivious when other kids are making fun of him.  I’ve personally witnessed other kids picking on him for being a special needs’ child.  It breaks my heart; I become enraged; he doesn’t even notice.  He is confident in who he is.  I’m thankful that these little jerks aren’t changing who he is, aren’t making him question his own greatness.
  • Soap.  I’m a germophobe.  ‘Nuff said.
  • Incredible people, who for a lack of a better word, I guess I will just refer to as friends.  These people seem like so much more, I even consider many of them family at this point.  Topping the list would be the Ninja-Priest-Friend, who has been ever-present, bringing Communion when I couldn’t make it to Mass, hearing confessions in my home, and giving spiritual advice when I felt like I was on the brink of a spiritual meltdown.  In addition to him, we have many friends who have surprised us by cutting our grass when we just got out of the hospital, brought us meals, babysat my kids, and called or texted me just to check in.  They have made this whole ordeal a little more bearable.
  • A twisted sense of humor.  I have laughed at myself more this year than I should probably admit.  It should be sad…but it’s not.  Life’s too serious.  Lighten up.
    • For weeks, I couldn’t feel my fingertips, so I went around saying, “Who’s got 2 thumbs that she can’t feel?  This girl!!!”  
    • My left leg was dragging for a little while in October, so I was trying to figure out how to fit it into a gimp costume of some sort.  
    • I had to sort all of my meds into a million-compartment color coded pill-box to keep them all straight, and I laughed about how I could hang with the geriatric ward.  (A week ago, I kid you not, I was visiting with The Husband’s grandmother, and she asked me how many medications I was on.  We had a whole conversation about meds.  Kindred spirits!)
  • I’m thankful that The Younger Boy is a little freak.  I’ve always been a little weird, and apparently the freak apple doesn’t fall far from the weirdo tree.  For example, the kid went to the library a few weeks ago and looked for a biography on Alfred Hitchcock.  You should have seen the look on the librarian’s face; I’m sure he doesn’t get many requests from 8 year olds for that sort of thing.  Philip is so different and unique, and I pray that he remains that way, regardless of how his peers may view him.  He’ll be one cool adult.
  • Indoor Plumbing.  Because, eww.
  • Headphones.  As much as I love my children, and as much as I like spending time with them, sometimes I just need to drown them out.  Enter the headphones.  God bless whoever created them.
  • I’m thankful that I’m thankful.  No, I haven’t lost my mind.  Just stick with me for a moment here.  Gratitude is a virtue, and I believe that true gratitude is a very important part of being a true Christian.  To be grateful calls us to be aware of the gifts that God has bestowed upon us, whether they be big (like family and wonderful friends) or small (like soap and razors).  It calls us to see the things around us not as entitlements, but gifts.  It is quite humbling to realize that we are so fortunate to live in an area that has indoor plumbing and running water when there are areas of the world that do not even have clean drinking water.  So yes, I’m thankful for being thankful.  I’m grateful that God has opened my eyes and shown me how fortunate I am.

There really are many more things that I’m thankful for, and I could go on and on, but I won’t.  Not because I’m worried about boring you–see how considerate I am–but more so because my little blessings are about to get off of the bus and utter chaos is sure to abound the minute they enter the house.  In a few minutes, there will be screaming and crying.  Tantrums will be thrown about homework and chores.  Fights will ensue.

And that’s just me.

So, share with me.  What are the not-so-ordinary things that you are thankful for?

“All that is good, all that is perfect is given us from above; it comes down from the Father of all light; with Him there is no such thing as alteration, no shadow caused by change.”  James 1:17

What The Husband Taught Me

The Husband was reading through older posts the other day, when I heard him let out a huge sigh.

“What’s wrong?” –Me

“Nothing.  You have all of these nice posts about the kids.  What about me?”  –Jeremy

“Really?!?  I was trying to be considerate of your privacy.  I didn’t think you’d want to be written about.”

“Well, you have What The Older Boy Taught Me and What The Younger Boy Taught Me.  What about me?”  Almost instantly, he realized his blunder.  He realized what he was saying.  At this point, he was trying to back out, telling me he didn’t really want to be written about.  He was just teasing me, just giving me a “hard time.”

It was too late.  He asked for it.  He should’ve known better.  It was like an invitation to mock him; I couldn’t pass that up!!!  What kind of wife would I be?

So, here goes… Continue reading

Kids These Days…

“What is wrong with these young people?!?”

I find myself saying this often lately, and every time I utter this phrase, I get depressed.  Not because of the state of the world, but because when you start fussing about “kids these days”, you realize that you are no longer one of them.  No worries.  I’m not looking into nursing homes quite yet.

Completely irrelevant, but this totally cracked me up.

I do wonder about the younger generations, though.  I’m generalizing, of course.  But, for the most part, they seem to be spoiled and lazy.  Hard work seems to be a foreign concept to most, and there is definitely a sense of entitlement with these people.  Why they think they deserve everything to be given to them is a mystery to me.  You want something?  Work for it.  Period.  No one owes you anything.

Again–irrelevant, but funny.

Every once in a while, though, something wonderful happens, and my faith is renewed in the future.  We had such an experience this past weekend. Continue reading

God, Angels, and Seat Belts…A Conversation with Philip

The Younger Boy and I have some of our best conversations in the car.  We live in the country, so it takes us a little longer than others to get to our final destinations.  Since his mind is always running, we talk about all sorts of things, ranging from superheroes to schoolwork to ice cream.  But, more than anything, we talk about God.  Here is a conversation from the other day:

“I’m so glad God made cars.” –Philip

“Well, God didn’t really make cars.  People did.  But,” –Me, until the kid interrupted

“But, God made people.”

“Right.  He blessed us with intelligence to create technology.”

“And we use tech-whatever to make cool stuff.”

“Right.”

“But, sometimes bad people Continue reading