Friday, December 10, 2010


When I was little there was a view of a large blue house across an acre-sized field that we could see the back of from our own front windows. It was an old grand victorian--probably one of those that people bought all the supplies and blueprints for in a Sears and Roebuck Catalog from 1899. In the wintertime, that ornate old place looked positively ethereal. After the snow fell and the clouds had cleared and there was a full moon, everything reflected blue and white and grey. Because of the moon and colors, the house itself looked like it was glowing a bit. The field sparkled as did the icicles hanging from the neighbor's roof. Occassional deer would wander through the scene, looking for food. I remember standing in our dining room, staring at that old blue place -- yearning.

Another time we were driving home from Cedarville. We had just put on an MPAT Christmas performance. As we drove through the mountains, the uncontaminated snow silently waited on pine trees. Shadows played games with boulders partially hiding under drifts, and stars shimmered. I was with my friends, the car was warm. I was happy.

I inwardly dwell in winter. Sometimes, when I am feeling sad or anxious, thoughts of those scenes pop into my brain. Pine trees and moonbeams, twiggy leafless branches and stars call to me. I think I love Southern California for living life, but I think I love the mountains for dreams. I picture myself living in a house full of brass and bronze, tarnished silver and mahagony -- Christmas trees as tall as my 14-foot crown-moulded tin-embellished ceilings will allow -- wearing kid-gloves and capes and dresses with trains (and not having it be just "dressing up"). Candles and lanterns instead of flourescent bulbs. Violin Music. Burgundy-reds and forest greens. Our neighbors are at least 1/2 a mile away and the only thing you can see is occasional slices of stars through the giant fir trees surrounding our house.

But I want it the way I want it, though. The winter can't be cold. There must always be a fire to keep us warm. Aunica will love wearing dresses (she doesn't right now). And Greg will always be home.

My mental heaven.

Saturday, November 06, 2010


Warning: Boring information ahead:

I am studying right now, and I have been studying a lot recently. One of the things that keeps coming up in my head (distractingly, so) while I am reading is the use of highlighting as a tool for learning.

When I was in high school, a certain teacher held up a book for the class to see (mine)--using it as an example of "excessive use of highlighting". He then held up a classmate's book (don't recall who) as an example of "just the right amount of highlighting". It was defnitely noticeable, the difference between our two books. And it's not like I actually *use* the highlighted info later on. I think the reason I do it is to go over information twice--"Oh! That's important!" so I highlight it (while reading it again, I guess).

But it is EXASPERATING to me that I just can't get this stupid incident out of my head--and it still comes up while studying 14 years later.

During reading for my English classes, I wouldn't just highlight--I would write in the margins, I would underline twice. I would ruminate on and remember stuff that stood out. The stuff I am reading now is so straightforward no extraneous thoughts come to mind. There are no abstractions, no expansions to be made regarding the material I am reading in Anatomy or Language Development or Audiology. It's all fact-based. So instead of thinking about the material I am reading, I end up wondering if I am highlighting too much. And it is distracting and it is maddening

The end.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Finishing Statistics

Never in my 29 years have I EVER worked so very hard for a class. I started statistics with fear and trepidation. I have never been very excited about math--let alone good at it. But honestly, of all of the math courses I have ever had to take, Statistics has been the most enjoyable. It has real life application, and that is helpful. I *see* what is going on and I really like that about it. I also have enjoyed having access to all these tools to help me do well--online calculators and Microsoft Excel.
I am surprised at how well I did. I don't know my final grade, but suffice it to say, I know I did better than I ever would have expected.
In opening my bookmarks just now, I ran across my "statistics help" folder, which actually made me say, "Awwww.. I won't be needing you any more, little Z-score calculator"...
Now onto grad school apps. Joy.

Friday, September 24, 2010

1:08 a.m. Randomness

Things that are fabulous right now:

I got Greg this book for his birthday. It is chock full of geekalicious goodness -- time-space paradoxes, flow charts--who could ask for anything more?

In addition, as a late "celebration" for Greg's 40th, we are going here . This has become a semi regular yearly event for us. It's just a really great place to visit and be romantic and things.

I am doing Awana this year, which has been a lot more fun than I expected. Sam is in Sparks, and since I am a Sparks leader, I get to watch him do all sorts of super great things. Here is a link to him doing the pledge of allegience as practice for getting his vest and book. He also got up in front of his class and sang the Awana theme song and very sincerely told them about Adam and Eve and sin and the fall of mankind.

So far, I am doing fabulously with my own school studies, though I miss Greg/the kids. I literally spend about 10 hours per day studying. This is why I am up at 1:30 a.m. writing this post. I have had no down-time to speak of. But guess what. I am actually really happy. I don't have any of that weighed-down feeling anymore. I feel like I have a brain again. It has been extremely invigorating. I am still worried about Grad School acceptance, but God will take care of it. I really do have faith in that.

So that's what's new.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Can't I Just Love Jesus

Without re-posting all those Christian status updates?


Thursday, September 09, 2010

Where Have I Been???

Things have been insane. Sam started school mid-August, and I am running around like the proverbial headless chicken. I am excited because I am getting closer to applying to graduate schools. I am nervous because I am getting closer to applying to graduate schools. I am taking 4 classes this term (5, if you count the one that is an anatomy class/lab combo as 2 classes). It is overwhelming, but good to have a big workload. I feel as though I am learning how to juggle more this way, which I am sure will be useful very soon.

In the meantime, Greg is turning 40 on the 12th. This has been difficult for me. Growing up as a pastor's kid, I have seen way too many single elderly people being lonely and sad to not care about Greg getting older. You are probably thinking,

"Dude, Crystal. You're the one who married a 32-year-old when you were 21. You asked for it."

And I think that to myself too. But then I remember how *worth it* Greg is--how much I cherish and love him and how God brought us together in a way that we couldn't have helped falling in love, even if we hadn't wanted to (which I actually kind of didn't at the time). But yeah, I am anticipating the last part of my life being spent alone. And that is hard. But this is how I prepare myself for things--I have to think about the worst because I hate being caught off guard more than I hate anticipating the inevitable.

For now, I am loving every minute I spend with my husband. And I am loving our kids, too. Which brings up another topic. Sam--he is preoccupied with death these days. A while back, my Great Aunt Ada passed away. Sam knew her and her death really impacted him. He keeps asking us when we are going to die--how old we are--if we are "healthy". Greg sees it as a sign of depth of character on Sam's part. It makes me feel bad for Sam, though. I don't want Sam thinking about these things. I want him being a kid--having fun chasing the animals/his sister around the house... pummeling things. But he does do those things too. So I guess he's ok. I guess I don't need to worry until he starts dressing like Greg did in high school, right?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Going Back To Work

I've been thinking a lot about the future recently. As you may have seen in my last post, I am going back to school--probably "for reals" this time. And as I consider that somewhere down the road, I will very likely be taking on a real job, with real pay and real benefits, I panic. I don't panic because I don't like the thought of these things. I panic because I do. I worry that I am going into this for the wrong reasons--security, stability, knowing I have something to fall back on. Are these the right reasons to get into something?

But here's the thing: Greg has already had cancer once. He is 11 years older than me. We have two kids. If he died (I know it's a ridiculously morbid thought, but it's one we have to address), what would I do? Move back in with my parents?

And this house--this house is tiiiny. It feels so cramped to me sometimes I feel like the incredible hulk, and somehow, if I get too mad or something, the house will explode around me, and I will be standing there on our foundation with no walls. We've decided we are either going to add onto this one, or buy a new one. But that's not feasible right now... we need more money in order to do that. We are 100 grand upside-down on the house the way it is right now.

And I feel sorry for our kids. They are here at home all day with their bored and cranky mother--how stagnant I feel being here all day. I am realizing the whole super-mom label doesn't fit quite right (even though it feels like that's what I should expect from myself, since I am only a mom right now). How I get antsy and angsty, and how ungrateful I feel all the time. I feel like a fairy-tale princess pining away in her castle, waiting for life to happen. I am realizing this *is* life and there is nothing to be done but to do something about it. I wish I could be content with talking about the kids 24-7 with other mothers--bad mouthing my husband and renovating and moving furniture around and sanitizing. Honestly, as much as I have hated studying for the GRE, I find it preferable to "home-making". And as much as it sounds like I have scorn for women who choose to stay home with their kids, I actually find them amazing. I wonder how they do it with enjoyment.

So, ultimately, I come to the conclusion that my motives are right... that my working is the lesser of two evils--that I would rather be tired from work and happy to come home than tired of home and want to go back to work.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

What To Do Next?

So I am working on a degree in Speech and Language Pathology. I am more than a little freaked out right now. I am such a wimp when it comes to getting things done, and that is because I am deathly afraid of things not working out. I don't know where this comes from. Generally, my life has been handed to me on a silver platter. Sure, I've had my moments of hardship (especially in the past 5 years or so), but this all started way before that. Maybe I've been told I'm not good enough? Maybe I tell myself I'm not good enough? Either way, here is what I have to accomplish in the next 12 months or so.

-Pass the GRE with a score of 1200 or better
-Find professors willing to give me stellar letters of recommendation
-Raise my GPA from 3.16 to 3.3 or better
-Take statistics
-Take 30 other units of online classes
-Apply to grad school
-Get accepted to grad school

I'm feeling really overwhelmed. I just don't know what to do with all of this, and am trying to prioritize and figure out what should come next.

I would appreciate prayers from anyone who reads this

Monday, July 05, 2010

Those Special Moments (Part I)

Have you ever thought about how some specific points of growing up are utterly disturbing in nature? And yet, we celebrate over them. Our parents told us these events were "special" and their parents told them the same thing. Who knows how far back this brainwashing really goes. I think humans do this so the freakishness of these events will not seem so alarming. Also, kids are wonderfully gullible, impressionable little suckers. For example:

So I am six years old, taking a bite out of an apple and one of my front teeth literally falls out. This. Is. FABULOUS!!! Some of my fellow classmates have also lost their tooth, and they have gotten immediate bragging rights. I get to give said tooth to the teacher, she announces it to the class and I am so excited. I take it home in an envelope. That night, the tooth fairy comes. She leaves me a note (my goodness, her handwriting is exactly like my mother's) and a dollar in quarters. From that day on, I am tooth-loss obsessed. I go so far as to let my friend Mandi play dentist and extract my teeth for me over lunch recesses (even when they are not completely ready to come out). I earn a whopping 4 dollars in 1st grade, alone! People on the street tell me I look cute and my parents tell me I look cute too. There is nothing better than this.

Really, Crystal? You weren't disturbed by this? Your teeth fall out and you are happy about it? I recently realized Sam is getting relatively close to the age I was when I lost my first tooth. As I often do to my son, I thought I would do a psychological experiment on him. I love getting to be the person who sees his face when he's told about things of this nature. I was not expecting a positive reaction. As predicted in my hypothesis, Sam was extremely weirded out by this revelation, and immediately covered his mouth with his hand, emphatically pointing out that he would like to keep his teeth.

God bless whoever came up with the idea of the tooth fairy, though. Now Sam is stoked. Like his mother in kindergarten, he has now heard of the joys of toothlessness from friends at school and family members and he is no longer afraid. I am glad of this, because I don't want him freaked out over something that can't be helped. He is blissfully unaware that it is highly likely that when he is 80, he will start losing his teeth again--this time with no replacements. And there will be no rejoicing. People will say, "Oh, poor Sam" and avert their eyes as he inserts his dentures.

Not only is the tooth fairy myth awesome for its calming properties, but also for the fact that it allows parents to dispose of (or at least hide away) the teeth their children have lost. Greg recently had a wisdom tooth pulled at the dentist. We took it home so Greg could show Sam. When we told Sam he couldn't keep Greg's tooth (we knew we'd find it around the house), and we were just showing it to him, he was heartbroken. Teeth are pretty icky--kind of like toenail clippings and hair from hairbrushes. It's not like any parent really wants to make a necklace out of their kids teeth or anything. That would be so completely culturally unacceptable. So, when you think about it, you realize the tooth fairy acts rather like a broker ("You give me your tooth, I'll give you a dollar!"). What a deal! Everybody wins.

We believe our parents when they tell us things are special. But once kids experience these things, sometimes there is no joy in mudville and there is no turning back.

I had surgery when I was 9. I got my adenoids out. In order to lessen the anxiety over undergoing the knife, the doctor and my parents both encouraged me by saying I would get to eat all the ice cream I wanted.

As I woke up from surgery, I started vomiting like I had been on an all-night drinking binge. Ice cream was the furthest thing from my mind. I was much wiser the second time I had to have the operation (my adenoids grew back) and nobody even bothered to try to calm my heart. We all knew what I was in for. This time, I got a bike instead.

The best example for me and a million others, though:

The whole collective experience of adolescence/puberty was SUCH a letdown. I went to public school. Toward the end of 4th grade, we were given a two-hour rundown of what we were about to experience in our "tween" years, as well as some of the things that would come further down the road. The girls stayed in Mrs. Carsten's room, and the boys went to talk to Mr. Harder. We watched a video starring an actress who had played Annie on Broadway, who told us all about our changing bodies, sex, getting pregnant, and periods and all of the extra hair we would be getting. The boy stuff pretty much remained a mystery (we were given a few disgusting details), which was fine with me at the time.

Sex didn't sound all that appealing to me (guh-ross), but for some reason, periods did (yay?). This became the equivalent to first grade's tooth loss, and we girls awaited our first cycles with the expectancy of a slumber party. We also got very competitive about it. Whoever got their periods first was obviously way more "mature" than anybody else and therefore way cooler. Periods came with "accessories", and you got to chose from a whole variety of options. My mom also promised we'd go out for ice cream whenever "it" happened. I couldn't wait.

Three years later-- oh wow, what a wakeup call. I will spare you the details, but I remember the bathroom, my mom standing in the doorway, me weeping, "I HATE this!". I also remember thinking, "Ice cream is so not worth this". Welcome to PMS, 12-year-old self..

Having boobs was not rewarding in any way, shape, or form (no pun intended) either. If boys noticed, I wasn't noticing them noticing--and I was still too gawky and awkward to know how to dress to make them look good (and my mom sure wasn't telling me). And bras were annoying beyond belief.

And my butt was suddenly really droopy. And I had cellulite (before you go and chew out my mother, nobody told me this. I noticed it on my own) And I constantly was cutting myself shaving my legs. And suddenly I was stinky and having to shower all...the...time if I didn't want to be stinky. And I ravenously liked boys even though I didn't want to. My friends and I were becoming cattier and more competitive than ever.

I didn't feel grown up.. I just felt miserable. I didn't like myself. I remember grieving because I literally felt childhood slipping away. It was extremely sad to me, and I missed that wonderment and innocence.

But I am sure that as my children continue to grow, I will tell them most of the same things my parents told me. If I had known how annoying and embarrassing and disgusting a lot of the things that were going to happen were, I probably would have closed myself up in my room and never have come out. I am glad I was able to live in some ignorance of what was to come. Life was a little bit more fun because of it.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

A Controversy of a Very Serious Nature

So Greg and I are debating an extremely important problem that is pertinent to the generation before us, as well as any generations that will succeed us after we are gone.

The question is this:

In the song "Do a dear" from "The Sound of Music", there is one line whose meaning has become a source of great contention between Greg and myself, as found out this morning as I was brushing my teeth:

"La...a note to follow So"

Greg is under the impression (I say wrongfully), that the word "note" pairs with "La" in that law can be reinterpreted as "Law". Therefore, the line means that La is (within the context of the song), a law to be followed in a certain way (so).

I, however, believe that the line is actually rather lame, and has no other "special" meaning other than what it says, because obviously a law is not a "note". Money, yes. Laws? No. I am thinking the writers couldn't come up with anything more clever than one note following another.

Thoughts? We are having a very difficult time with this one. Lawyers.. can the word "law" be synonymous with the word, "note"? (Please say no because I'd so love to be right on this one).

Monday, May 24, 2010

Cancer Scares

They come more frequently than I would like. Greg will feel something down there that doesn't go away and will later tell me.

And as Greg tells me he's found a new lump (this has happened 4 times now, twice since his vasectomy)-- every time it is the same.

I can't speak for Greg. I don't know what his heart and mind go through when he finds something new. Inevitably he lets me know of what's going on while he is at work, so I am often alone with the kids when I find out.

And what I go through is starting to get familiar, but it is definitely not getting any friendlier.

I get this weird cold vibrating feeling that starts at the back of my head and travels down my neck--almost like someone put ice there.. at first the feeling is completely physical and I feel no emotion other than shock. And then I can't say anything for a minute. And then I say, "Are you sure?" And of course, he is sure. And then I try to reason with him--come up with some logical explanation for why there is a lump on his testicle (as if there is any "normal" reason for such a thing to happen). Then the panic sets in, and then I feel light-headed and like throwing up and then I start crying. And then I usually call one or both of my parents and weep to them ("What will HAPPEN to him????"). And they don't actually have the answers I think I need, and I am annoyed at myself for freaking them out before we really know anything. But it is good to hear their voices anyway.

But it stays like that--I feel insane and completely distraught for as long as we don't know Greg's ok.

And I plead with God--beg Him to let this not be happening again.

And I try not to, but I can't help it --I go ahead a month... three months... a year in my mind and imagine the inevitable stuff we will go through if it is what we don't want it to be. I see Greg recovering from another surgery, Greg's parents taking care of the kids--frazzled and scared, Greg going for more rounds of chemo (this time there will have to be more because it is a recurrence), Greg being violently ill because of an out-of-order immune system, Sam bringing home more illness from school, me staying up all hours of the night, sick myself with the kids sick too...

I skip imagining the Greg dying part--it's just too horrible to imagine. I go straight to me alone, having to figure out the bills, the mortgage, not having a job, moving back in with my parents, Greg's parents a painful reminder of their son...

Thoughts like this remain until Greg is able to see a doctor. And then Greg and I go to the doctor and the doctor will either say something reassuring or say they don't know for sure and Greg should go get an ultrasound to be sure.

We got lucky this time--Greg's doctor was so certain it was epididymal cyst, he didn't even send Greg for an ultrasound.

Seriously.. how many men can say they are relieved they have a cyst on their testicle? But we are always relieved by anything that isn't cancer.

"Oh, you mean it's just a cyst forming because of some traumatic injury to my epydidimus? Sweet!"

But we still want to be cautious about how we approach it, because hope is flighty and unreliable. We almost fear hope more than we fear cancer itself. Trust me--it is not better to have hoped and lost than not to have hoped at all. There is comfort in expecting the worst because the worst can never let you down.

But later on, the hope comes anyway. I find myself feeling a little lighter. And I thank God a million times, and hug 50 Greg times more often than normal, and I can play with the kids without feeling distracted, and I am breathing again.

It is good to get good news.


I know many of my friends and family have actually been further down this road than I have ever been, and as a result, I often feel really jumpy in my reactions to Greg's bodily idiocyncracies. It makes me feel like I am being selfish because Greg *did* make it through the first time around. So many people don't get that lucky. Survivor's guilt.

I know I blow things way out of proportion. I know that deep down, I will always be paranoid of the words "lump" and "tumor" and that that is ridiculous. But sometimes, when you have been through something awful, your fear outweighs your mind. And you don't have any clue as to why you react the way you do--you just know that you are afraid.

And the fear is always there crouched in the corner of your brain. It gets smaller, but it never really does go away.. not completely. You end up wrapping your life around the fear instead. It is always there at the center, but it is cut off until the next scare. And then it grows and shrinks again--kind of like a tumor of its own.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Symbols of AnxietyTransformed To Symbols of Hope

It's funny how certain mundane, seamingly meaningless, things take on a lot of importance depending on the situation you are in.

I've been staring at this ID card for Aunica's Medical Insurance every day. Since Greg got his preliminary layoff, that ID card has come to mean "May 30th"--the day that our insurance would expire if Greg got that final layoff notice.

Greg's ties, hanging on the coat hanger in the living room have meant days spent not knowing whether he would need a tie in upcoming months.

The calendar on the fridge has meant a constant countdown to the day when we might be without work.

The checkbook and debit card have meant money disappearing and maybe stopping coming.

Oh, and the gas price signs? Don't even get me started on those.

You begin to realize that it's not that you are worried about the *stuff* you have. It's worries about maintaining life as you know it. It's about uprooting once again. It's about having to wonder if you are going to have to move in with your parents or in-laws. It's about having to figure out if you can pay for insurance, mortgage, and bills on a substitute teacher's salary alone. It's about those practical things that you always take for granted.

God is definitely not letting us take anything for granted. Ever. And I am actually thankful for that. Because when we lived in Whittier, I was miserable. I couldn't pin it down to anything at the time, but now I think I just had it too, uh, cushy? Life was just too easy. It never felt anything but.. mundane. Since 2004, we have had nothing but upheaval, but if nothing else, you can say it has kept life interesting.

It's nice to worry sometimes.

So yesterday, we were supposed to get Greg's layoff notice. We didn't. We still could get it tomorrow, but I am hopeful that it won't come. And Greg is too. And we are all dancy and excited because we get to stay in our house and we get to relax just a little more.

And slowly, the insurance card is beginning to mean we will have insurance for one more year. And the bank accounts are not going to tap out. And we are going to be able to buy gas. And there will be another calendar on the fridge.

It's good to have a little of both hope and fear. I'm glad life isn't too easy. Things are more interesting and I am more grateful this way.

(But that doesn't mean I really want another layoff notice next year)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Grandpa Campbell

Sometimes I think of him just out of the blue.

He was a the best grandpa a little girl could ask for. All I remember of him are good things. I honestly can't remember having one negative thought toward him. The things that were strange about him, they were just quirks--they weren't *bad*, just funny. He was charasmatic and joyful. He always was smiling and was the most kind-hearted person I think I've ever met.

Trips to Reno (where we'd go pick him up at the airport) were some of the best traveling experiences of my life. I remember he would sit in the front seat, and I would always sit directly behind him. I remember staring at the back of his bald head and saying, "Hi Grandpa!" just because I didn't have anything else to say--I was just happy he was there.

I don't know why my assocations with childhood and Grandpa are so interlinked, but they are. Maybe it's because he was a person who truly knew how to love, and all the best things about childhood had him as a part of them--Christmases, Thanksgivings, Birthdays, Summers... he made sure to be there for many of them from my adoption to just before I turned 7.

He was giving, gracious--my mom says he was a "man without guile. He loved books, and therefore was totally excited to read to me. I think he was a major factor in me becoming kind of a ravenous reader.

He was a definite lover of Southern California and lived there his whole life. I think that love rubbed off on me quite a bit. I still have this palm tree obsession, even though I see them all the time around here. I have yet to have one of my own. We're trying to grow one, but it's really little and so it doesn't count.

He took us to Disneyland twice. Those were the best trips to Disneyland I can remember.

Grandpa was sophisticated, but not pretentious. He loved anything classy--old movies and musicals were his favorites. He had been a tour guide and gave garden tours in Europe. He was very in-the-know when it came to new technologies. We have home movies he put together from when *he* was a young man, up to home movies from when my sister and I were little. Greg was touched when he saw all the home movies of me. He said, "Wow. Grandpa Campbell really loved you."

My mom says he was short, but I remember him being tall. I suppose that is because I was little the last time I saw him, and maybe because I looked up to him so much.

I was devastated when he died, even though I was only seven years old. It was a month before my 7th birthday. We were expecting him to come to visit, and I am still feeling like it was pretty unfair for him to go and leave like that. It's only because he was such a great person. I would have kept him around forever. I wish he could have met my kids.

Grandpa, I love you and miss you and can't wait to see you again someday.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Thank God for Happy Endings

So today we had a scare with Aunica. Well, to be more accurate, I was more scared than I probably should have been. Greg kept pretty cool. Though he was at home.

Oh, you want an explanation? Okay.

Aunica came down with a 101 degree fever during her naptime today. Fevers are not unusual in this family for the most part, but when Aunica gets them, they are rather mysterious. She is a tough little cookie, as well as non-verbal (for the most part) and so you can't tell if she's just over-heated, sick, getting sick or what. I had noticed her pulling on her ears so I decided it was probably an ear infection.

So, we drove the 40 minutes to Fontana and went to Urgent Care. We got in quickly, which was nice, but then the doctor could find nothing *really* wrong. But then he said the dreaded words:

"I think I'll test her urine"

See, there's this funny thing about being a new parent. There are these things people don't tell you you will become paranoid of: the first time your kid gets sick (not just cold-sick--I mean *sick* to the point if you aren't sure if they are going to be ok) it just about kills you. As you probably already know, Aunica's brother, Sam had urinary issues when he was two weeks old that hospitalized him and traumatized both him and us. He underwent multiple invasive tests which involved needles, catheters, continuous radiating for an hour (not to mention much screaming on Sam's part and weeping on our part)...

It turns out Sam had urinary reflux, a relatively common problem in infants and toddlers--Sam's was a higher grade and he was given a 30% chance of recovering from the reflux on his own--surgery if he didn't. He was on antibiotics for the first 2 1/2 years of his life, but we took them off when we realized he was getting 1/3 the dose he needed (the doctor hadn't updated us on dosage, age and weight so we thought we were doing fine) So far, he has not had another UTI and he is almost 5.

But even though he has been fine, I have thought the beginning of every illness was a sign of something worse--something more drastic, something dangerous and life-threatening. He sneezes and I say, "Are you ok? Do you feel alright?" And I know it is wrong, but I still worry about him because I am caught off guard by my love for him all the time--this completely unrelenting love that won't let me not be devastatingly afraid of things being wrong with him.

So when the doctor said he wanted to test Aunica for a Urinary Tract Infection(because she was otherwise symptom-free), this huge battle between my heart and brain broke out.

My irrational mommy-heart was saying, "No, please God, no. I don't want to go through this again.. not with Aunica, too."

And my brain was saying "Yes, there is and was a 50% chance she would have Sam's defect, too. We knew this was a possiblity."

And then my heart said, "Maybe if she does have a UTI, somehow I could disinfect the urine so they wouldn't be able to tell, and then she won't need further testing."

And then my brain said, "That is just ridiculous. If she has a UTI, she needs TREATMENT, you dolt. You can't just wish it away."

So, we slapped a urine bag on her (yes, it is an adhesive bag that collects urine for testing). Aunica *hated* the thing. I stood in the bathroom at Kaiser for 45 minutes coaxing her to pee into the bag (she's not at all potty trained yet). Finally she did pee and we got to turn it into the lab.

Kaiser is pretty good about getting labs done quickly and the results were in as soon as I got home. Everything was within normal ranges and there were no indications of UTIs whatsoever.

I went and kissed Aunica up and thanked God for making her a-ok and suddenly was starving.

So that's my emotional journey for the day.

Monday, April 26, 2010


I am a chronic worrier. My life has been based on worry and fear for, well, just about 6 years now. I've been married 7 years this August. Which basically means that the vast majority of my married life has been spent creating more wrinkles in my forehead than most people my age. I would also say I am 70% gray-haired at this point (thank God for hair dye).

But recently, I've been realizing something that should be super obvious, and probably is to most people.

Worrying really gets me nowhere.

I have spent countless hours freaking out over smallish things--money, Greg's job, my future career, how Sam will do in school, the car breaking down... you get the idea.

All of these worries are very practical, which makes them feel sane. But worry isn't sane. It makes you feel worse inside than you feel when you are sick, and it can actually *make* you sick in that stress can lower your resistance to illness and cause problems with digestion, and it ages people.

I have also been really snippy and irritable with my family, which makes our home life rather miserable. Greg comes home from a stressed out day at work to a stressed out wife. That does not help him any more than it helps me.

So, I've been intentionally trying *not* to worry for about 3 days now. I have been trying to take a 'que sera' approach toward all my fears. God is going to do what God is going to do. Worst case senario? Greg loses his job, we lose our home, our kids are put in foster care, we move to the street and die of starvation. I mean, if we're talking about taking it to the ultimate extreme--but I really doubt that's going to happen, because we have people surrounding us who love us and will help us through whatever happens. But even if that *were* to happen, we would be in heaven.

The worst thing that ever happened to our family was Greg getting cancer. It was not something expected, and it was not something that could be helped (other than treating it once we knew it was there). God got us through it, though, and if we can get through that, I think we can get through just about anything.

We are still praying for all the other stuff still...

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Having kids

Is like falling in love a little every day.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Helping Haiti

I read a report recently about how unqualified people were messing up rescue efforts in Haiti.

This makes me sooooo angry and defensive for those who went and didn't make the cut of being worthy of being there. Can you imagine how you would feel, spending thousands of dollars to fly to Haiti to physically be there and help out (because who knows where the money you sent really went), only to be told to go back home because you aren't good enough?

Dude, rescue workers. Just give the well-meaning helpers a job to do. Hand them a shovel or something. It's not that difficult. Or are they just interrupting your own amazingness?

The article said something about how everyone wants to be a hero, and it just doesn't work that way. Oh, so you are saying you are definitely heroes, but anybody who doesn't have a 4-day training to work for red cross is inferior? To me that just screamed of arrogance and self-superiority. I am fuming. Really.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Honest Scrap?

Thanks, Rachel for the nomination. I feel so special. Are there seven people who read this blog? If so, I nominate all of you to do this as well. I guess I'm supposed to write 10 interesting things about myself and my nominees (you) are supposed to do the same.

So here goes:

1. I have a weird thing for candy. And I don't mean just adult-oriented candy (although Godiva chocolate is the bees knees). I am really a huge fan of immature, childish candies. Zots, everlasting gobstoppers, candies shaped like brains--you name it, I probably like it. I am pretty obsessed with mall-based sweet factory stores and would rather go candy shopping than clothes shopping any day (and it has been like this as long as I can remember). The counter employees are always a little taken aback when I gleefully hand them my bagfull of confectionary novelties and debit card. I guess they must be used to seven-year-olds with their allowances. Greg is suprisingly supportive of this little obsession of mine, and often participates as well.

2. I grew up a country girl and really hate country music with a passion. Most people in my town were huge fans, but I just could not bring myself to enjoy it.

3. I was 16 when I had my first kiss and was a virgin when I married Greg.

4. Confession. I love my Kindle. Okay. You can quit booing now. Seriously. This thing is the bomb. When I finished college as an English major, I was sick of books. I mean, I-didn't-want-to-read-another-book-again-in-my-life sick. But when my parents bought me this Kindle for my birthday last year, I was able to fall back in love with reading again. It's transportable, it's fun, you can clip a booklight on it without having to re-adjust pages later, your hands don't get tired of holding it open because you don't have to hold it open, and the books are cheap if not free. I know owning a Kindle (or any other e-reader) is the cardinal sin of the *true* book lover, but if I'm not a book lover, I'm an e-book lover. (I do miss the smell of new books sometimes though).

5. I like the thought of collecting, but can't decide on what to collect. I like rocks, I like unicorns, I like fairies, I used to like cows (though this is getting old)... I think I'd go with unicorns and fairies if I had an extra room to fill, but I don't and I can't.

6. Southern California reminds me of my Grandpa Campbell (mom's dad) who lived here, and I think that is the biggest reason I love it so much. Good memories, good associations.

7. I abhor the smell of baby powder and feel like gagging every time we have to walk down the baby isle at the grocery store.

8. I have lost 14.5 pounds since March 1st, 2010. Sweet, huh? I'm on a roll!

9. We sort of named our son Sam after Samwise in The Lord of the Rings (Samwise means half-wit in Old English, so we chose Samuel for him instead, which means heard of God). And we named Aunica after the borg character, Seven of Nine's real name from Star Trek Voyager (you'd get it if you'd seen it).

10. I insanely love my husband's artwork. He has a gift and I wish he had more time to draw.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Letter To Dad In Belize

My dad and mom are in Belize at the moment. They have been there for about a week. They left last Sunday night. This is the first year my mom has gone. My dad has been doing this for about 5 years now. And every year I worry. I worry he's going to get Oregon Trail Style Dysentery, Malaria, or the very worst possible thing you can acquire in central America (in my opinion): a Bot Fly .

Prayer is a good thing because my parents were in a pretty bad accident on the way and were miraculously un-harmed. It was raining and as a result, hydroplaned, hit the center divider and bounced across four lanes of freeway near San Francisco. They were not hit by any cars and were basically just sore afterward. They are either real troopers, or kind of insane because they still went to Belize anyway. It does sound like they have been doing fine, though my dad does tend to play down drama a lot. I haven't heard from my mom. I'll let you know how they are doing after they get home.

Anyway--after hearing about all of this, I got really upset for a few days. What if they *hadn't* been fine. Everything has been fine up until now. Honestly--my childhood was kind of a breeze. There are always issues in *any* family, and we have definitely had our fair share. But I wasn't ever beaten, I never dealt with a drunken parent. I was never molested. I don't mean to discount the problems we did have, and I am not pretending there were none. But they were relatively small compared to what some kids go through. And my parents are my parents no matter what our problems were, and I would love them no matter what--as much as I know they would me.

So, after the accident, and I finally got an email from my dad, I got all teary and missed my mom and dad like crazy. And more than that, I missed being a kid again--being taken care of. I missed my mom's cool hand on my forehead when I was sick. I missed being taken to the pool. I missed my allowance. I missed being told I needed to be home by a certain time. I missed having others being responsible for me. All the responsibility of being an adult/wife/parent is heavy duty stuff and it would be nice to have some occassional, I don't know.. lightness once in a while--to have someone be in charge of me because sometimes I feel like I don't really know how to be in charge of myself yet (let alone two little people of my own). But I am doing my best at what I am doing now. And we are going to visit Mom and Dad in June--a trip I am crazily looking forward to.

Anyway.. here's an excerpt from an email I wrote to my Dad in Belize:

Hi guys!

It's a positively BEAUTIFUL day. I mean it's a 72-degrees-smelling-of-fresh-cut-grass-and-golden-sunshine-through-new-leaves-making-everything-sparkly kind of beautiful. Which makes me miss being little and getting popsicle sticky and aquiring sunburns at the Alturas pool and riding horses at Josanna's house and the worst problem in my life being not knowing what to do and being bored and having to practice piano. You guys made childhood easy and fun--and I kind of miss that these days.

So I am super excited to get back to Alturas and re-experience my childhood again in June. I am excited to sit out on the sidewalk and spit cherries with Karlie. And maybe I can help Dad garden a lil' and maybe Mom and I can take walks. Homemade popsicles must be a part of it too. Oh, and barbeques. We are hoping to take Sam to the caves--we think he's really going to like them. We are also going to have to test out tent camping in the front yard for a night and see if the kids are up to it yet.

Things we've done today:

-Our lilac tree is in full bloom. I didn't even know we had a lilac tree when we bought the house so it was a happy surprise when they started popping out the next spring.
I cut a sprig and put it in a vase inside. Not quite fragrant enough to cover up the smell of kids/cat/dog, but almost.

-We went out to La Mirada last night for what will probably be the last time. We'll really have no reason to go out there anymore without Paul and Kristin living there. They are probably going to be out here on the 27th of this month--moving in. So we said goodbye to the house and went to the Swap Meet. Found some killer nail polish and a mood ring (yeah--like I said--I miss my childhood).

-Greg still doesn't know anything about his job, but is still feeling pretty hopeful.

-I've lost 13 pounds since starting my diet on March 1st. Not bad, eh? Maybe I'll be all skinny when we get there!

-I am turning 29 this year. TWENTY-NINE! Is that insane? I am freaking out. But worse--Greg is going to be FORTY! We haven't decided what we're going to do--maybe have a party in the back yard with twinkle lights and champagne. I've always wanted to have a party like that. I think a 40th birthday would be a good excuse.. don't you?

-Well--I have to go take care of the kids. Sam has been running around in the sprinklers and Aunica just joined him. Better go make sure they're not dying of hypothermia.

I love you guys. Glad you are having a good time, but I am definitely looking forward to you being back home--SAFE. And yes--Dad, I totally think it's time for your miata.

Love you so much


Because Rachel Is Tired of Me Not Blogging

So I am bad at being a regular blogger. I guess it's possibly because only one or two people ever comment on the occassional emotional barfing that lands here. I have three followers (as far as I can tell) And I am narcissistic enough to care.

There is another reason I don't blog very often, and that is I often say things that get me in trouble. I seem to have this subconcious urge to make political/church-related/relationship-related commentary and I end up wishing I hadn't said what I said. I *do* tend to care what other people think, and snarky comments make me sad. Like, curl-up-in-a-ball-and-cry-to-Greg-sad. And then Greg will say things like, "Well, just don't post anything controversial". And then I agree, but then I feel like I'm not... contributing anything worthwhile.

So, faithful followers. Should I just suck it up and post what I am thinking, no matter what and suffer the consequences (maybe not having everyone like me?)? Or should I just post less-frequent, meek, quiet-like blogs that aren't controversial? Or should I just not blog at all?

To follow will be a not-so-controversial post: a letter I wrote to my dad who is in Belize.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

When It Rains, It Pours


I need it because this has been one hellish week so far.

Oh my goodness. Here is what has been going down. (Feel free to give me pity/sympathy).

Problemo Numero Uno:
Greg (along with another 290-or-so other teachers) is most likely going to get another R.I.F. (layoff) notice this year. It will most likely get rescinded, but it's just one of the little black rainclouds making us blue.

Greg's school is in the bottom 5% of schools in California. And as much as Greg has had to work his butt off to get the thumbs up from his adminstrators, he has kind of gotten used to them. Now the school district is looking at replacing his principal. And Greg does not like that. It makes him nervous. In the meantime, he has 4 CSTs in the next two weeks.

We are in trouble with the City of Yucaipa again. Thanks to some hapless intern, our file was pulled and the city is looking into whether or not we have to destroy Sam's room and our dining room and convert them back into what used to be a garage. A word to the wise: when buying a houe, make sure to check out whether or not everything in/on/around it is permitted. For now, we are just waiting for an inspector to come out and examine our home to make sure it's exactly how the city would like it to be. Even though we already know it's not.

Sam is starting *real* school next year. We are really unsure of what we are doing right now as far as that goes. We're hoping we can get him into the charter school. The other option is to beg the district to let us put him in a different school than our zoning would allow. The public school he is supposed to be going to does not look/sound so hot from what we have heard from other parents.

Greg's computer got attacked by a nasty spyware program today and I don't really know how to fix it. Hopefully Greg does because it's not looking good.

I am having an unbelievably difficult time getting my undergraduate work done for SLP. It has become such a headache. I just know whether I'm supposed to be doing this. It's like forcing puzzle pieces that don't fit.

God's good. And I know he will work all of this out the way He wants to. But sometimes it's just so difficult to trust Him.

On the happier side of things, Aunica turned 2 on the 8th. Yay!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Help A Cat IN Need?

So, I was at Stater Bros Grocers with my offspring today. We were in the pet-food aisle and I was commenting about how much our cat eats to Sam and Aunica.

As often is the case, there was another human being in the pet department with us. As is not often the case, however, I was chatting it up with my kidlettes, and this woman interrupted me and said, "Sorry, but did I hear you say you have a cat?"

She then proceeded to break into tears. She said, "I'm sorry. It's just that my mom just died and I can't find a home for her cat. He's all alone. And my boyfriend is allergic."

Being the pushover that I am, I said if she'd give me her phone number, I'd talk to my husband about the situation and let her know later.

Of course Greg said, "No".

So here we are--involved with a woman who's name I can't remember who is taking care of her dead mother's cat. I have her number, but don't know what to tell her now other than, "I hear the pound takes animals".

According to her, the cat is male but fixed, and de-clawed.

If you are interested, please contact me.



Tuesday, January 05, 2010


My Great Aunt Ada died yesterday. She was in her late nineties (I had a hard time keeping track because she was very reluctant to tell you her real age).

We are losing a treasure.

From childhood until college, my desire was to write her off as just another crotchety old lady with weird taste in food. That would have made it more simple--easier to say goodbye.

At first glance, Ada was not all that loveable. On the surface, she was a prickly disciplinarian--a former school teacher/principal with more than 40 years of experience with unruly children under her belt. Ada believed in order, manners, and cleaning up your plate. She'd endured the great depression and her frugality was exemplary. She never married. She was prim, proper, *ALWAYS* concerned about her hair and attire (she fell a number of times in the past few years--and even at 3:00 in the morning after a night in the emergency room she'd ask us how her hair looked). She liked to give my sister and I "pointers" on such things as posture, talking back, and our eating habits when we were kids. I felt slightly afraid of her growing up because her scrutiny seemed really severe to me.

*But* as I grew up, I began to get to know her better and I found out there were so many little surprising, quirky things about Ada that utterly forced me to love her.

I found out she was a huge fan of the grandiose and beautiful. She took us to see Kimberly Crest (a 100+ year-old Victorian mansion in Redands) a number of times. Uptown Redlands itself is devastatingly pretty--everything you want Southern California to be, and uptown Redlands was where Ada (and two of her sisters) made her home.

She went and saw the movie "Titanic" three times in the theater when it came out. She loved the live broadway version of "The Lion King" and went and saw it at the Pantages when it was there. I guess this surprised me because I knew at least one of her siblings was of the conviction that most forms of entertainment were sinful. I had just assumed she would have been of the same opinion as them. I was pleasantly surprised by her open-mindedness and this was one of the first things that let me feel a bit of a bond with her.

On the even-more-suprising side, she had a 20-some-odd-year-old bottle of Kahlua in the cupboard above her fridge that was still mostly full (she must have only taken it out for certain visitors--who were they? I don't know. She never offered me any).

She once told me she almost got married as a young woman, but when the opportunity to move from Nebraska to California arose, she came out here instead. She got misty-eyed when she told me the story--a thing that *does not* happen that often with many of the elder Bodmers, so I know this boy had meant a lot to her.

She was a world traveler, and had been everywhere from Paris to the Taj Mahal. She taught school in Germany and was fluent in the German language. There is a cute story Ada loves to tell: When some American students and administrators came to visit Ada's school in Germany, the principal Ada worked under got up to speak at a dinner they were having. Using his very best English, the principal said, "I thank you so very much for coming. I thank you from the *heart of my bottom*. This story made Ada laugh super hard every time she told it.

I found out that Ada knew Greg's grandma years-back. Ada, her sister Tillie, and Greg's grandma Evelyn Mehring sat together at First Baptist Church Yucaipa. Tillie and Evelyn would pass notes and Ada would give them scolding looks. (Small world, right?)

At Ada's retirement community, Plymouth Village, Ada had a friend named of Martin Munz who had also been a principal at Redlands Unified. He unabashedly called Ada his "girlfriend" and visited her apartment on a regular basis. We loved to tease Ada about Martin, and she always got all embarrassed and blush-y whenever we mentioned his name.

Probably because she never married, Ada was extremely close to her family. She sent out an extensive yearly christmas letter for as long as she was able. She also made disasterously good Christmas food and sent us a box of Redlands oranges and christmas goodies every year. I still associate those Redlands oranges with Christmas whenever I see them in the store. I also *loved* the candied figs she and her sister made. (Old people food really isn't alllll bad).

Ada was incredibly generous and gave of all that she had to countless people through charities, monetary gifts, and volunteering in various organizations.

For my grandpa's 90th birthday, Ada flew with us to Des Moines to celebrate--not an easy feat for a 94-year-old lady. But she was so happy to be there and spent the entire visit just reveling in the company of her brother and sister-in-law. As harrowing as the experience was at the time for me (being 4 months pregnant and dealing with Ada's forgetfullness during the trip) seeing her joy made it worth it.

Shortly before I met Greg, Ada started showing signs of dementia at the same time as going blind from severe macular degeneration. She moved to Plymouth Village in 2001--a retirement community/nursing home in Redlands. Greg and I moved out to Yucaipa about 3 years later, and because we were close, we started visiting her more regularly than I ever would have otherwise. I started helping her with her monthly bills because there was no other family around.

I can honestly say I never really *had fun* hanging out at Ada's in the past few years. There were always things I would have rather have been doing. I felt as though visits with her were rather like talking to Dory from Finding Nemo. The same questions with the same answers over and over and over. She often didn't remember who we were. It was hard not to be impatient. I often felt as though I was not making her day any happier.

But she did enjoy our son Sam VERY much. When Sam was born, she said, "I think this might just be the cutest little baby I have ever seen". I treasure that one comment about Sam more than almost any other from his babyhood. She thought he was hilarious when he got a little bigger--even when he was getting into her stuff. She had a colorful camel-hair blanket from somewhere in the Middle East and it had these big tufts of fringe at the ends. Sam was obsessed with those colorful tufts and could *not* stay away from those things. Seeing him destroying her blanket every visit drove me nuts, but Ada was just amused that that was all Sam wanted to play with.

And she positively *LOVED* Greg. I don't really know who couldn't love Greg, but one of his best qualities is that he has a very calming presence and Ada latched onto that. After Grandpa Bodmer died a few years ago, Ada had a drastic drop downhill from independent to assisted living and then from assisted living to the nursing home all within a matter of a couple of years. My dear, sweet, caring husband came with me to see her countless times during that period in her life--even though he wasn't directly related. He prayed for her and with her, and he is taking me to her memorial service this weekend, for which I am forever grateful to him.

I know Ada was ready to die. When my mom and dad went to visit her a while ago, she told my mom she was just tired of this life and was ready to go to Heaven to be with her family.

I believe she is there now--partying it up with her 5 siblings in the presence of God. She can see again, and she can not only remember, but she *knows*.

But I still miss her.

I miss her like I miss Lucille Green, and Lorraine Cantrell, and Robert Bob, and Grandpa and Grandma Bodmer and my Grandpa Campbell and the numerous others who have impacted my life in so many different ways and are now-----gone.

I feel as though we are losing a generation of people that have a legacy that we can so easily ignore. With them go art forms, words, ideas, stories--countless aspects of a whole group of people we will never get back here on this earth. And to me, that's unbearably sad.

Ada, you are loved and will be missed. Tell everyone 'hi' for me and I look forward so very much to seeing you again.