Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Shilo in Training

Sunday, January 23, 2011

This song reminds me so much of my dad

Yesterday we drove to Clarksville Arkansas for my dad's memorial service. I spent much of the time regretting that in almost 20 years I never made it back to Clarksville. Not that I didn't keep in contact with my dad, I had regular phone calls and he was not in Clarksville most of that time, he was traveling all over the place, so every time he came near where I live he would stop for dinner or to stay the night. It was all the rest of his family, that I regret not seeing over the years. It was great though I had tons of hugs and missed yous from the time we arrived until we left.

Then I attempted to take the family to a place that dad used to take us on a regular basis in the summer time. He always called it "Little Piney" however we couldn't find it. Another reason I should have been visiting the place, I couldn't remember where stuff was after all these years. As we were driving around looking for this creek I thought, see I still need my dad, I could have called him and ask for directions. I wanted to take the kids to this spot because it is the place where I caught my first fish.  It was the summer between 2nd and 3rd grade. Dad insisted that if I wanted to fish I had to fix my own pole and even put bait on it.  I spent a good half hour putting all the stuff on the pole and attempting to worm the hook. I had no fishing experience and no idea what I was doing.  In my mind the bigger hooks where easier to use simply because the hole for the fishing line was so big.  I eventually got the rod all set up with a huge hook, an evenr bigger bobber and a bout 1/4 of a worm. Dad and I had these 5 gallon buckets turned upside down to sit on. I threw my line out there and waited very patiently for a fish. Once I finally got a bite I was jerking the pole and reeling that line in like I had a fish the size of a whale. When I finally got the fish reeled in, it was about half the size of my hook! There I stood with this hook dangling in front of my face with tiny tiny minow on it! Apparentlty this was pretty darn funny because dad started laughing so hard that he fell backwards off this 5 gallon bucket, he laughed for a really long time before he studdered out " how did you catch that tiny fish with that huge hook!" Then he attempted to inform me that the fish was to small to keep and I would have to throw it back. I was heart broken, it was my first fish and I wanted to keep it!  He finally gave in and said "ok, I will build a little circle wall out of rocks to put it in so that you don't have to give up your bucket to sit on" umm yeah he build a circle out of rocks in the water, the wall wasn't as tall as the water was high so when he put the fish in there it simply swam away! His reaction to this was to say "opps, looks like he got away" and I being so young didn't realize he had released my fish, I thought it really excaped!

We never did find the creek yesterday and eventually I turned around and took them to see the place where I grew up. For my entire life the area where I grew was called "Patton Hill" by everyone I ever knew. This was because it was all of my dad's family who owned the land on this dirt road.  Unfortunately the roads have been changed, some blocked off by the city when they bought all the land and put in a water treatment plant others created to give access to the area where I used to live.  I was disorientated at first because the house we lived in is no longer standing and another building is there. I only recognized the place because there is a telephone pole standing in the middle of the area. Years ago there was a dirt drive that is now covered over with grass, the land  across the road had a barbed wire fence that sat back off from the dirt road. Later on  my friends Julie, James, Lisa and Brenda lived on the property for a while. Our drive, the road and this empty space made an excellent dirt track for a go cart. we used to fly around this telephone pole at what felt like break neck speed to a bunch of kids. Once my younger brother leaned a piece of plywood against the fence and after a couple of good turns around the pole he drove straight up the ramp and over the fence, caught a huge amount of air time, then landed and kept on driving back through the gate out to the pole just in time for my grandparents to happen to be taking a Sunday stroll up the road to visit.  Now my dad had came out and was watching but he arrived to late to realize what my brother was about to do, he saw the event he just didn't arrive in time to see the preparation. Now honestly once the dare devil stunt had already began there wasn't much my dad could have done until after the fact. My grandmother didn't arrive in time to realize that my dad had not approved or assisted in this stunt, so my poor dad got the chewing out of his life. My grandmother threatened to break off a switch and use it on him for allowing us kids to do such dangerous stuff. It was extremely funny, however the downfall to seeing dad get told off  by his mother was that the rest of us kids never got a chance to try out the ramp!

I actually drove away from the place feeling let down really. I don't know why I thought it would be the same houses, same people same life sitting there waiting for me to return after all this time but I was just disappointed to see how much it had changed. Growing up on that hill we lived at the end of the dirt road, us kids were allowed to roam around it as much as we wanted because it was all family living in the area. There was a good section of just woods to play in and a dirt road. I spent my summers traipsing up and down that dirt road barefoot, picking berries and plumbs and drinking from a water hose. I honestly don't think I would let my kids walk the area barefoot today, the place seems to have deteriorated over the years and it truly is sad.

Once we left the hill, I took Stephena and the kids into town just to look around. While we were heading into town Tyrel called to invite us over to his house to have a look at the mobil home our dad was living in just before he passed away. He wanted me to look and see if dad had anything I wanted. For me this is just to hard, I feel uncomfortable going through anyones stuff but for certian my dad's stuff. I left with a hat, that was definatly something that my dad would have worn, Stephen picked out a pocket knife from a stock of stuff that I am sure my dad planned to sell at a flee market or knife show or something. I just couldnt go through it like a flee market and take stuff, it just didn't seem right to me.

Afterward we had pizza at Tyrel's house with his wife, son and daughter-n-law. It was nice just catching up and spending some times witht them. We left with the idea that in the summer we will get together and have a weekend at the lake together. It something I pland to do for sure because until this last week the only person in my family that my kids ever met and saw more than once is my dad, its strange for me to have such a strong sense of family when it comes to my own children yet they have never met mine, its another one of those things that just don't seem right.

Saturday, January 15, 2011


For the last few weeks we have had plans to go to Ponca City today and take Stephen's hawk for this Eagle Watch event that takes place every year. However two things happened. First Stephen's hawk decieded to catch a skunk yesterday afternoon, after de-stinky efforts Stephen, his hunting clothes, and the car are relatively free of skunk stink. The house is almost clear, I personally think I can still smell a hint of stink. The hawk and her hood are the problem, they still smell considerably stinky. We then thought we would still attend the event and simply not take the hawk.

A few days ago I got a voicemail from my dad saying he was in the hosptial and maybe I should call him back. I have been attempting to call him every since, however he didn't seem to be answering the phone.  I wasn't terribly worried because every since about August he has been keeping me informed about a couple of non-cancerous tumors that he needed to have removed.  However as Stephen and I stood in the stinky kitchen discussing the idea of leaving Willow at home for the event my younger brother called to inform me that those simply non-cancerous tumors were possibly a bit more complicated than what I had understood. After a call to my oldest brother (Teryl) our plans changed. We left home around 4am with the idea that we would go to the hospital and get some clear answers to confirm what the two brothers had been told, not that I didn't believe them but more that dad likes to be veigh about stuff so Teryl and I felt a face to face meeting with the doctors would help us understand better what exactly is going on.  We kind of thought that an hour or two at the hospital would be enough for dad to deal with so we would carry on to the event and then come back to the hospital afterwards.

That plan didn't work to well. Once I got into dad's room I couldn't make myself just leave.  Finally around lunch time I decieded that dad needed some sleep and we left to get some lunch and let the nurses handle their business with dad's care. Once I left the hospital for lunch I couldn't bear the idea of just going off to this event and leaving dad there, I had an urgent need to spend as much time with him as possible.

Once lunch was sorted out we headed back to the hosptial and met up with Teryl. Stephen and I had a breif conversation with the doctor before lunch, but I really felt that Teryl, being the oldest and the one in charge of dad's affairs should be there for the details, however Teryl and his wife Arnita had not arrived from out of state yet. While we were at lunch Teryl managed to catch up with the doctor and hear what we had heard first hand.  Things are so much worse than a simple tumor that needed to be removed. The short of it is that at age 82, dads bladder, kidney's, abdominal wall, lymphnoeds and possibly his lungs are completely engrossed with small cell cancer. I didn't ask for the long medical name, small cell is enough information really. The type of cancer he has is fatal even to a really healthy young person so at his age and health there is no surgical or chemotheraphy options. The issue at hand at the moment is to make sure that dad has his affares in order, that he is comfortable in his last days and at his request that he returns to Arkansas where his roots are and his home is and always has been. 

At one point Stephen and Arnita left Teryl and I in the room with dad on our own. First of all I can't express how much that ment to me and I am sure to Teryl as well. I think you can love someone so very much, and that person can be your soul mate, spouse, best friend and the one person you always want close to you and still there are moments that you need some personal time to sort out and cope with life and the things that naturally take place. Teryl and I have never been at odds, but there is a large age gap between us, we were not raised together and even though we know each other we haven't seen one another in many years.  I think we both were very close to breaking down as we stood in dad's room watching him cope with the pain and discussing his life.  Some times when a person passes away at a young age with a lifetime full of things left undone it makes the passing so hard on the ones left behind. But for me, standing there remembering the times and events of dad's life I can truly say that he lived a long, very full life that anyone would be proud to have lived.

My dad has a basic herd of children with out ever having any biological children. In his first marriage he aquired a 7 year old Teryl. Dad and Teryl have a mutal respect and love that is stronger than the average father son relationship. In some ways I think this may be down to something that I heard from my dad over the years.  Dad chose to be Teryl's father, he didn't make a baby and then feel obligated, he made a  choice to love this little boy as his own. That choice of love can at times create a bond stronger than blood ties.

Later in his life dad married my mother and aquired three children ages 10, 8 and 6, even later dad and my mother adopted two children. By the time this marriage took place 7 year old Teryl was grown, married and had three children of his own. This is the reason for the relation with out a close relationship, as a child I knew him and his family, we spent holidays together and thought of each other as family, but it wasn't the same as growing up with someone in the same home.

From the start of that marriage I believe that there was one purpose for the marriage, there was a total of five young children that needed a father and my dad was the right man for that job. I often heard dad's " I chose to be your dad" view of our relationship. Along with that he often used the expression "if you don't work, you don't eat" or "no workie, no eatie" Those two ideas stuck with me my whole life. I often tell my dad that I will work until I fall over because he instilled in me the idea that you never "get" anything in life you "earn" everything you have.

Along with taking on six children over his life dad accomplished a few other things. I have never met any man who has done as much as he has. I probably can't tell every thing he has done but off the top of my head I know he served in the military before he was of legal age to do so, it just happens that once upon a time birth documentation was not as well kept as it is today and he used that fact to smudge the truth enough to get int he military before he was suppose to. During his service he was severely injured and suffered greatly with burns and loss of hearing.  Beyond the military dad worked with the police, I have seen an id card that would lead me to believe that he also worked with the DEA, he drove a semi for many years, he came out of retirement to start up a landscaping business and apparently was the third top salesman for Kirby vacuums at one point. Dad spent a lot of his time riding motor cycles across the country, training horses, traveled all around the country selling stuff at various flee markets and fishing through the night. 

Teryl called him a jypsy today, as he said, Dad likes to move so much that in 9 years Teryl attended 12 different schools. Another term that Teryl used that fit my dad so very clearly dad was very much a "networker" he traveled all over the country and had friends in every town along the way. He could never have stopped in a town without knowing someone there.  Both Teryl and I said today that if we are as active as dad was at age 80 we would be happy. 

I feel as if my dad had lived a full and good life, as I sat there recalling various memories of him and watching him shake and cry in pain,  I knew that there wasn't any reason why he needs to hang around suffering. He has accomplished more than most people would have ever dreamed of attempting and he has left no unfinished business in his past. I think in some ways it makes it easier to let him slip into this next phase with out a fight, but in other ways because he has been this amazing person in so many people's lives it make it even harder to let go. It seems unfair to let him suffer but it is heartbreaking to think of him not being here in our lives any more. It's an internal battle to wish him peace and want to hang onto him for as long as possible.
I think if he were in my shoes he would tell me relax and let nature take it's course so that the pain and suffering can be over with, I hope I have the strength to be happy for him when it is time for him to let nature take it's course. I suppose I won't have much choice and I know that I need to ready myself for the fact of it all, the last thing that dad said to Stephen and Teryl before he fell off to sleep tonight was that he is tired and ready to go home, he has people waiting for him on the other side and they happen to have the best fishing boat he has ever seen.

I have to say that the whole thing is being made easier by Teryl. I know that in many ways my mother hasn't been nice to him over the years. I also know that when someone makes your life hard it is easy to feel like you don't want any part of them or anyone connected to them. I haven't seen Teryl in years, not due to any problem that he and I ever had, but mostly because at age 18 I left home and staid as far away from home as possible. My one great tie to home and my roots is dad. My mom and dad divorced when I was 16, once I turned 18 and left her home I never attempted to return to Arkansas because I always felt that my mother left there on such bad terms that I wasn't sure how my intruding on the lives of my dad's family would be taken, even if I had the best of intentions because my mother had laid such a hard foundation. I always kept in touch with dad and saw him as often as possible considering my distance from the family. I walked into dad's room after lunch to a hug, and several to follow throughout the day.  While talking to Teryl we quickly realized that our views, and what we wanted for dad was inline with one another. Several times during the course of speaking to the doctors and the palliative care personnel Teryl turned to me and said " Latrell and I will be making the decisions together about dads care and the path we take", It mean the world to me to be included as his daughter  in making those choices. I think I will forever be grateful to Teryl and his wife Arnita  for welcoming me into this important time after I have been so distant for so long.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Finally a doctor that listens

Every since Sara got pregnant with Ayden there has been this real issue with doctors saying that she is now medically emancipated. My first thought about this is that if a 16 year old wasn't capable of comprehending medical issues such as pregnancy prevention then what makes people  so sure she is capable of making life changing medical decisions. I realize these laws are in place to prevent forced abortions or the right to have an abortion but put that issue aside and look at the general health and welfare of a 16 year old child trying to make medical decisions. I had no clue what to say to a doctor at 16 and I know that Sara doesn't either. She sits there and shakes her head yes the whole time, she never ask questions or tells the doctor details about what is going on.  Right after Ayden was born Sara had to change doctors, she wasn't allowed to see her pediatrician any more because she had a baby, she can't see the gynecologist (her gynecologist does gyno and regular family care also) but her gynecologist does not treat children unless they are pregnant. Needless to say she had to find a primary care provider. The clinic we use suggested a PA because Sara preferred a female provider.The first visit to the PA, Sara was told to stop taking her metphormin right away. This is medication that she has been on for about 5  years to control her insulin levels. When I went to see the PA with her to explain Sara's history and why she needs to stay on the metphormin, the PA turned to Sara and said " you are my patient, not your mom, I am not listening to what she has to say, do you want to be on the metphormin or not?" Sara replied that she wanted to stay on it because she don't like the way she feels when she is off of it. The PA relied with "well you will have to find another provider then" and left the room.

Sara always says she don't feel comfortable talking to the doctors about her health because even though they inist she is medically independent she don't feel like they listen to her. Today I went with her to see the doctor that I use when ever I don't have time to deal with the VA. I explained Sara's history to the nurse and then to the doctor. Both were a bit shocked that the PA tried to stop Sara's metphormin, both were a bit shocked at the PA's attitude as well, this PA is in the same clinic as the doctor we saw today.  The doctor instantly told us that first because Sara is and has been on metphormin then she needs to stay on it unless she was to loose a major amount of weight, then he would look at lowering her dose and eventually taking her off completely, however that would only happen if she was to loose to much weight which is very unlikely with her medical condition. Secondly the doctor ask her about depression after delivery. Sara just kinda nodded her head and smiled. He ask me, I told him that I feel like she has post pardom depression because she swears she don't cry a lot but I see her cry every time anyone says anything to her she tears up and even really cries, not to mention that she has been on bed rest the entire school year and had to do her school work from home, she has no job and all of her friends have became occasional text buddies and that is about it. She has to start back to school next week, be a mom, try to make adult decisions, pay bills and be in a relationship. It is all life stuff but stuff that you typically don't deal with at 16. At age 16 I had a job and school and rarely saw my parents because I was on the go, Sara is sitting at home wondering what life outside this box is like. It would depress me and I am far from 16. Sara has goals set, she is making plans and preparing for the future but at this moment she is feeling trapped to the point that just a few days ago she said to me that every time her boyfriend walks out the door to go to work she hates him because he gets to leave the house and she is trapped here. Not that she don't want to be around her family, but Sara is a lot like me and sitting at home 24/7 is not possible if we want to keep our sanity.  The doctor (who has 7 children) understood the emotional roller coaster that being on bed rest and stuck at home has on a person combined with the extreme changes that have taken place over the last few months. He offered her some anti-depressant medication and a medical plan for what happens if this isn't the correct medication, and a plan for what happens with her metphormine down the road. He assured us that Sara doesn't need to stop the metphormine, she is on the right path to get on her feet with her health and her life. He also told Sara that with any patient, even the adult patients, having some one close to them come to her appointments was not only ok but actually essential. As he explained to her, with all the things that most people have going on, typically the patient won't see the signs of depression, signs that their  medication isn't working. Even with the metphormine, Sara is very away of how the metphormine makes her feel and how she feels when it isn't working but she don't notice the need to sleep all the time and the emotional changes that I see in her when her metphormine isn't working.  Needless to say I am extremely happy that this doctor took the time to listen and talk to Sara and me like he understood rather than blowing us off.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

More projects

In 2009 at Thanksgiving we were set to have a few people over when I had a sudden panic attack because I realized I had no place for anyone to sit and eat. We  had a table that was fine, but the chairs to that table seemed to fall apart on a regular basis. Stephen had repaired them several times but it never failed a couple weeks later they would fall apart again. Not to mention that the kids where constantly dragging the chairs to their bedrooms for some unknown reason.  So out of pure necessity we drug the picnic table in from outside. I cleaned it up and put table clothes on it.  We missed having a picnic table outside but this was the perfect solution to the constantly breaking and always missing kitchen chairs. Eventually we purchased a picnic table for the kitchen and returned our outside table back to the barbecue area.  The plan was to sand and stain the table right away, however that didn't happen because it was Easter or some other holiday and the table was placed in the kitchen the night before we were having people over.  With procrastination being our number one asset we simply never got around to staining the table.  As well when we bought the table it wasn't the season for summer goods, so we bought the last table that Home Depot had and some of the boards seemed a bit warped.  We seemed to constantly be cleaning the table, but unstained wood seems to never look clean to me. Not only that, but Katie is going through this stage where she wants to draw all the time, I spend about half of my weekends helping Katie scrub her drawings off the walls and everything else she can find to draw on, even the TV screen and her body, oh man her body is the worst. She constantly finds Sharpe markers from who knows where and draws on her body head to toe so quickly that most of the time I see her clean then drawn all over and I never see the actual act of drawing  ( she is the same with scissors and her hair!) This is what the table looked like yesterday when I started:

Yesterday I got all caught up on the sanding and staining of Shelby's bed and was waiting for the next piece, standing there with the sander in hand I kept looking at the table thinking how badly it needed to be sorted. I found myself sanding the table in between sanding and staining the bed. I had enough left over stain that I eventually got around to staining the table as well. This morning Stephen helped me turn the table upside down so that I could finish staining the legs. We noticed right away that the warped boards could easily be fixed. The table is put together with screws, except the support pieces, those had been put on with nails, which had pulled out and allowed the boards to warp.  Stephen put some screws into all the support bars and wow all the boards are now level! Here is the odd part that we noticed yesterday and it has me puzzled. We purchased 3 inch wood screws, and every board that we purchased, and all the boards on the table are all 2 inch boards, it would stand to reason that if your screwing two 2 inch boards together with 3 inch screws then there should be an inch of wood between the end of the screw and the other side of the boards, however on the bed and on the table the screws came through to the other side ? This led to Stephen then having to grind off the excess portion of the screws. I have attempted a few times to capture the sparks that fly from the grinder. Today I got a pretty good shot of this.

I am not completely finished with the table, the stain we bought had polyurethane in it, however after I stained the table I re-sanded it. I wanted the grains in the table to show and that wasn't happening with this particular wood and the black stain. I am about to send Sara and Luke to Lowe's to buy a small can of polyurethane to finish the table off, but for now it looks like this: (be sure and ignore all the saw dust and junk on the floor under the table lol)

Ok so an update, I added two coats of Polyurethane, tomorrow I will lightly sand the table and add another coat of Polyurethane, the plan is to have a nice shine to it when I am done....

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Happy, and very busy New Years

For weeks now we have been looking for a set of bunk beds for Shelby's room.We have been desperate to get Katie moved in with Shelby, however as things go around here Shelby had a California King size bed in her room which didn't leave much room for a bed for Katie or any of Katie's stuff.  It happens that I had the California King bed only because when the girl's and I moved into this house we moved here by our selves, with work, school and single motherhood we struggled to get moved. As a result the Saturday that we started moving I made several trips bringing loads of stuff here and left the rest to be moved one mini-van load  every afternoon until I got it all moved. The first weekend I brought the girl's bedroom stuff, and all of our clothes and the electronics. I didn't bring my bed, most of my clothes, and most of the other household items, unfortunately everything that was there was gotten stolen.  A seriously selfish person actually stole my bed, all my dishes and pretty much everything of mine as I had brought the majority of the girl's stuff on the first few trips.  Someone actually gave me a California King bed, I suppose they felt sorry for me sleeping on a military cot lol.  However once Stephen and I got married and he moved in and I got pregnant there wasn't room in our bedroom for that huge bed, a baby bed and all the computer and camera gear, so we got a smaller bed. At the time Sara loved the big bed so we gave it to her. Now that She has had Ayden she was having the same problem, a baby bed and all the baby stuff and all of Luke's stuff didn't leave much room for a huge bed. So Sara got a smaller bed and Shelby inherited the big bed. Now even though without the baby bed we could probably manage with the big bed in our room again, we love our, much more comfortable, smaller bed.  

After searching for an affordable set of bunk beds for Shelby and Katie Stephen decided he could build a bunk bed for less than what most places are charging. Things didn't start off so great, we went to Lowe's and picked out all the supplies to build the bed, I left the store to move the car up to the exit door.  I get the car pulled up and the hatch opened when I see Stephen come charging out of the store, he grabs the hatch and slams it shut, gets into the car and slams the door. Apparently our Debit Card had been declined, well our's and three other customers with ATM cards from our bank had been declined. My first action was to call the bank, but they were closed, so I call  home and have Sara go online and check the bank, the money was in the bank, so we tried several ATM's. Three of our bank's ATM's and one of another bank's ATM's. Some said there was no funds in the bank, others said the ATM was not currently working. I tried again to call the various numbers for the bank and eventually got a message saying that they were having system problems.  I mentioned to Stephen that it was strange that just a few minutes before we were able to make a purchase at the gas station. Stephen realized that the gas station had ran our card as a credit not a debit, So we went back to Lowe's with a check book and the ATM card. Running it as a credit card worked, however later in the day even running the card as a credit card won't work. Needless to say, calling the bank is my first priority for Monday Morning. 

Once we managed to purchase the materials for the bunk beds, Stephen began sawing and chipping at the wood, as I began dragging all of Shelby's stuff out of her room to make room for the new bed. I figured this was the perfect opportunity to re-arrange her room, throw out a load of stuff that Shelby really don't need or use any more and maybe create some space for Katie to really move in there.

Notice all of Shelby's clothes piled behind Stephen, yeah all that was under her bed, in the bottom of her closet and any where else she could manage to dump it rather than put it away.  

While Stephen was chipping away at the wood, the rest of us all found jobs to help the process. Anna (Shelby's friend) and Shelby took over sanding some of the pieces of wood and helping with Ayden (we had previously agreed to watch Ayden while Sara and Luke went shopping) 

Katie spent her time entertaining Charlee, that dog is even more hyper than Katie so they make a good pair!

Go figure Shelby found time to get in a little Wii action while the rest of us slaved away cleaning up her super ditry room and building her a bed. 

Once the girl's took over some of the sanding duties I began to stain the pieces of the bed, well I had a little ooooppppss with the stain on a stool, I am hoping that I can sand all that off tommorow.

By the end of the day  Stephen and I were a bit wore out and ready for a break. 

Once the bed was in place, and the cleaning was done, it didn't take long for the girls to make the bed look like it always belonged  in their room! Now the really problem is to figure out how to get all that stain off of me!