Friday, February 27, 2015

The no fish fry

Fred must have made some hefty Lenten resolutions this year. None of the normal things that usually drive us both nuts seem to be affecting him since Ash Wednesday. Things like poor customer service, bad manners, incompetency are all being met with patience and kindness in my husband. Its been so startling that while I haven't outright asked him, I am positive he has made some formal resolution to be a better human being in the public sphere. It's driving me crazy. (  OR he has been diagnosed with a terminal condition and is keeping it from me- either way- pray for me!) Anyway- not to be outdone in Lenten resolutions, I determined yesterday that I would try to follow his good example.

Fish Fry's during Lent are a given. They also support worthy causes. "Gee, why not get on board" I thought to myself. When I told Fred he said he was game and we headed out. At the door we looked at the menu and prices ( it was expensive, but for a good cause). 54.00 later I paid for 7 of us to eat fried fish.

Two of us were served before they ran out of fish.

The two fishes we did get were not fully cooked (Sushi essentially).

We then waited 27 minutes for french fries,dry macaroni, peas, coke, and brownies.

All my Lenten resolve to be a better, kinder person was drained from my tragically weak flesh.

Just as my last nerve was about to be way more fried than the non-existent fish, we won the 50/50 raffle. it was worth 53.00 total.

So the way I figure it,  I spent 1.00 for sugared up kids, a stomach ache, and fifteen more years in purgatory.

How's your lent going?

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Fire in my eye, a cautionary Valentine's day tale

Fred and I are well matched when it comes to morning routines. We both like the morning well enough, we just don't want to speak to anyone at all, including each other, until we have had our coffee and said our morning prayers. That's about a good solid 20 minutes of quiet. After almost 22 years, you'd think we would have it down pat. Not this week. This week was different. (Keep in mind Friday the 13th feel this week.)

 After finishing a basement remodel by mid week, Fred decided upon waking one early morning, he was going to get a jump on that  stuff that had been adding up in the house and nagging at us both. Mind you, not things like too many dishes, or piles of laundry type things, or haven't been food shopping in 8 days no, no, no- he wanted to tackle the BIG stuff like doctors appointments, dental work, and eye exams. Noble things.  Things that require a person in the household who knows everyone's schedule to actually make those appointments so they come off without a hitch and don't have to be rescheduled over and over again at later dates with annoying receptionists who don't get family life with twelve people very easily.

 I suppose this is the correct place to alert my readers that Fred doesn't run his own work schedule.

 I run his schedule.

I do this  because, while carpentry is his area of expertise,  timing- is not. So to ask questions like "Can Fred remodel my basement, put up new siding, tear out my kitchen"  etc.  go ask Fred for a resounding yes, Yes, and YES!. But if you want to know WHEN he can do that job for you- you're in trouble if you're not talking to me.

On Wednesday when I stumbled out of bed, and before coffee was part of my metabolic condition  once more, Fred fired a long list of appointments at me that he had set up for our entire family. Doctor appointments, orthodontic appointments, and curiously even eye exams for both himself and me. Certainly I was having trouble seeing my coffee mug, but otherwise my vision is pretty good, so its hard to figure how I got in the mix. He also managed to set some of those preliminary appointments for that very afternoon, despite checking with me or any of the kids first to see availability. P.S. we were all unavailable. After he left to run an errand, I got a host of incoming complaints form the kids " Moooommmmm! I'm not free this afternoon!" 'I had plans..." "I don't need that right now..."

I silenced them quickly by pointing out  Dad was being so kind by thinking of us all and our needs and the least we could do is be grateful he cares about our health. Check ups are a good thing and to prove I was in solidarity with them, I pointed out that I was personally scheduled for an unnecessary eye exam on Valentines Day. This was met with serious howling from my sons, as they are just beginning to realize how that whole 'romance' thing takes part in relationships and its vital importance to many women they currently know, or would like to. ( in his defense, Fred did offer to reschedule the eye exams once he realized the whole 'Valentines Day' might have been the reason the ophthalmologist had open back-to-back appointments that day.But I wanted to set a good example for the kids so I told him to just keep it.)

Today, this cold sunny February 14th, I found myself with perfectly good vision, being swept into a small optical nightmare.

After filling out the initial paperwork, I watched as Fred went through his preliminary tests- distance, glaucoma, tracking. Check, check, and check and off he went into the private exam room.  I was left behind with the kindest, most grandmotherly woman in all of Frederick County. She pulled me up for my three preliminary tests, distance went fine. Then she tried checking for glaucoma by shooting a burst of air directly into my eye ball.

To say I flinched is an understatement.

 She needed to repeat it several times cause "Oh dear- that reading looks a little high to me!" Having someone, anyone with a grandmotherly voice tell me something looked wrong with my vision was disquieting. At this point I realized  I was totally unsure of  what glaucoma even was.I had a vague feeling it meant I had high blood pressure in my eyeballs. It began to feel that way.

I was also somewhat aware that shooting bursts of air repeatedly into said eyeball may in fact be the best way to raise the pressure there-in. It was certainly raising my blood pressure significantly with each passing moment. After repeating this sequence several times, she "hhhmmppphed" to herself and stopped trying.

Finally I was escorted to the private doctors exam room. As I sat in the darkened room waiting, I let my imagination wonder to all those awful places glaucoma might take me, despite my  very limited knowledge. Whoever said "A little information is a dangerous thing" must have known me in another life.

So, Dr. Matter-of-factly comes in and proceeds to do the old fashioned tests and hold things further away then closer  at a dizzying pace, while I'm reading my  X Y Z P D Q's and next thing I know -I'm about finished.  That is of course, until I opened my big mouth. "But I thought my  eye pressure wasn't right on that original test?" I muttered. He looked down and said "No, its not that bad, don't worry." I sighed in relief heavily.

Stopping,  and looking over his notes again, he pulled out a bottle of drops.

"I'm gonna check the pressure again just in case with these drops" he said,  and seriously- before I could blink, he was pulling at my eye lids and squirting  bright yellow liquid in them. I know it was bright yellow because he also thrust tissues into my hands to wipe the excess liquid that was now streaming down my face away. "Oh, OK then, this is a better test I guess?" I told myself. He was trying to be thorough. And then  I began my lamaze breathing. He proceeds to pull up a different machine just as I begin to notice that my eyes - felt mighty strange, certainly not a feeling I've ever experienced before. Plunging the machine closely to my face, he announces:


Que Ellen's personal horror fantasy music.

I think I blacked out for a few minutes. It felt that way. Or maybe that was just the blinding and numbing medication I had been assaulted with moments earlier. Or the pointy plastic piece he was sticking in my eye as I held this position so as not to become permanently blinded for life. A picture of the movie "Fire in the Sky" flashed  through my mind. If you haven't seen that movie- don't. Ever! Aliens abduct some poor country boy and probe his eye with a needle, while he is strapped into a chair unable to blink his way out of it. Welcome to Ellen's version of hell, and happy Valentines day to you too sweetheart.

Exiting the room, Fred  looked at me horrified. He said He was sure they diagnosed me with some form of ocular cancer by my whitened hue. My eyes were like pie pans, and still  glowing an unnatural yellow.

The good news is, I don't need glasses.

But Fred's new ones look great.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

That could've gone better

Fred has been wanting us to get a family portrait done for the last year.We haven't ever done a 'real' family portrait yet with all ten kids. Seriously. Its not that I don't want to, it just never seems to work out. So, like I said, he's been pushing me these few months especially, but even that hasn't turned out well. First, we actually contacted someone and set an appointment, but weather destroyed that chance. Then my niece offered to do one, but we decided that since we had no indoor space available, we had to wait until Spring for any reasonable chance of a good photo.

In the meantime, our church is putting together a new photo directory, and they have been signing families up to get a photo done. I kinda avoided the idea all together, until the church ladies grabbed me outside of the parish one Sunday. Next thing you know, we had an appointment. When I told Fred, he was super happy because at least we were getting into the ball park of getting a decent family photo.

I mapped out the date and time to fit into the rest of my schedule accordingly. So, the photo was supposed to be tonight at 5 pm, only it wasn't.

It was actually LAST NIGHT at 5 and I realized this somewhere  yesterday early afternoon. But yesterday wasn't a good day around here.

Yesterday I wasn't even slightly prepared for a photo shoot.

I woke up needing to go immediately to a first med for an allergic reaction I was having to hair dye. This threw my entire day off kilter. I got home  at 11am and rushed through the school lessons my younger kids , finishing in just enough time to pack my bags and teach at Sacred Heart Tutorials like I do every Monday and Wednesday, closing the opportunity even further to plan and prepare. Pushing thoughts of photos back out of my head for the next 2 hours I taught my class. Arriving home at 3:20 I looked around and saw I had no, and I do mean NO clean clothes for the girls. At this point I mildly despaired. I actually considered just kicking back and having some coffee and letting us all show us for a REALSIES type photo-op. Then I saw that Mary still had jelly on her face from a donut and Sophie had some stuck in her  very , overly, lengthy bangs, and I snapped back to my senses.

 JP and I  dropped Matt at the barber since his hair was actually longer than the girls, and then headed to the thrift shop in town knowing at least their clothes would be cleaner than the ones laying all over my laundry room floor. I found three white shirts, not matching, but correctly sized for the girls and drove home. Boys were sent scurrying at 4:10 to find khakis and a dress shirt preferably in some hue of blue. I then clipped the girls bangs and washed their faces, and managed to dress them in the most unflatteringly plain clothes they have ever worn in their lives.

Stop. Don't ask about shoes. On good days we struggle with shoes. Remember this was simply not a good day. Shoes just didn't factor into this equation for anyone.

I texted Fred and Peter who still were not home and told them we were getting dangerously close to arrival time.  I also woke Andrew who had worked the night shift and was finally able to catch a few Zzzz's.

I proceeded to iron 3 pairs of pants, and the front of 4 shirts ( cause I didn't have time to do the back).
At 4:40 Fred walked through the door from work, as he always does, covered in a layer of grime, dust, wood chips, and dirt- he promptly headed for the shower. Peter arrived five minutes later and did the same.

At 4:45 I took my favorite blue scarf and cut it into 3 pieces, completely destroying it in the process, and tied the pieces around the girls necks so they had at least a splash of color to make them look human. At 4:50 Fred called for the kids to get into the van.

At this point I had no clothes picked out, no make-up on, and my hair, oh  gosh, never-mind. Peter headed to the car in front of me. I manged to be in the car at 4:55 with a hair brush and a make up bag in my lap.

We arrived on time, but slightly out of breath for our session. We were then posed and prodded and pushed together for the next half hour, into various configurations. Afterwards we were escorted to the large monitor to view how the photos came out.  I was so relieved it was over and then....

Fred gasped, (and it wasn't a good gasp). Looking at the pictures we realized one of our little darlings PURPOSELY made hideous-Jim-Carrey-like faces for most of the pictures. I wont draw any attention to the child  lest he be completely ashamed


 but half, HALF, of the photos needed to be immediately discarded. Fred let out an expletive in the parish hall before he fully regained his composure.

Not so sure we will have the courage to get back in that ring anytime soon.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015


I'm posting about vaccines, because- hey why not jump into a huge controversial issue late on Tuesday night? One can hardly get away from the topic for the last week having been on any news or social site. I am kinda blown away at how heated the topic has become. But since some of you younger Moms have been asking my opinion on what to do in regards to vaccines, I'll tell you what I think, if that's worth anything at all.

First, I will say that all of my ten wonderful children are vaccinated. I think there are serious benefits that outweigh the risks some of you are legitimately concerned over. I may have never been personally exposed to many of these awful illnesses given the generation I was born into, but I knew a priest while we lived in VT who had polio as a kid, and only walked with great trouble and  double canes that alerted me to the raw facts of  that cruelty of life, when I had small children and had to make those decision.

I also know that some people have objections to vaccinations for very good reasons, I am reminded of a friend whose daughter had a severe reaction to a vaccine that landed her in the hospital  and I have prayed every single time I got my kids their shots something similar wouldn't happen to one of mine. Thankfully, these episodes are  very rare, but don't be so quick to jump the gun when you want to go kill an anti-vaxxer,  as there are real stories and faces and people behind these decisions, and they aren't all just uninformed Henny-Pennys. (I actually know two people personally, so there!)

Freddy and I wrestled with those questions when the kids were little, but not because we were afraid of autism ( I haven't heard that one in a long time to be honest) but simply because the actual schedule is grueling to  parents as well as kids. The doctors offices will give up to five shots to a kid who is pretty tiny in a single afternoon ( and they want to finish them all by age 2) and by golly, you are a braver soul than I- if you don't gulp a little bit at what is being pumped into those gorgeous tiny plump bodies God gave you responsibility over.

So whats a parent to do?  I can only tell you what made it way more manageable for Fred and I. We chose the middle road. We didn't want to NOT vaccinate, but we also didn't want to pump in five vaccines in a day. So, we followed OUR schedule for when our kids should get vaccinated. A novel idea, I know. What this meant was that when I would go into the doctors office for a "well child visit" I would ask my doctor what they wanted to give my kid that day, they would take out the laundry list, Fred and I would say "Ok that's more than we are comfortable with in one day" and we'd negotiate down to the two or the they felt were most important to give at that time, and wait til the next visit to negotiate again. My docs have always been awesome about this.

The downside to this is that my kids finished their shots a little older than most kids ( lets say by 4 or 5 instead of 2), but it also got done, and we were more comfortable with the slow and steady approach which allowed us to assess after each round how the kids managed, and also gave us confidence they wouldn't have poor reactions, cause they do in fact get fevers, and crankiness, and soreness at the sites etc. that needs to be monitored for a couple of days for all mamas to feel safe again.

So yeah, I had to buy them consolation prizes after I left the doctors office, but that is a small down side in my opinion.

That's my two cents. I hope it helps.

Vaccines are a good thing. If you are really just uncomfortable with the schedule, figure out a way to make it work so you are comfortable with it. It doesn't have to be all or nothing for your kids to get the needed protections, and also be a responsible citizen in a world full of lots of dangers, some of them very controllable.