Friday, October 31, 2008

A True Spooky Story for Halloween

Since it is Halloween, I thought I would dabble in the unknown and share one of the true, weird stories that has happened to me.

It was a dark and stormy night...

Nah, it wasn't, but isn't that how they should all start?

Anywho, I used to live in one side of this old German style brick double. It had two livable floors, an attic and the scariest basement you have ever seen. The attic was actually one floor, so both apartments were combined in that section of the house. I had two roomates and there were two guys next door. The guys next door where genuinely nice guys, so we never worried about them.

One day, when I was in my house all by myself and the guys next door were out of town, I heard a sound in my basement. Unfortunately, this house was 150 years old and had mice, so I thought I just heard vermin scurrying about. This didn't make me feel great, but I could accept it. But the sound got louder. Whatever was making the sound was bigger than a mouse.

I was kind of getting scared in this big old house all by myself now. We didn't live in a bad neighborhood, but it wasn't the best. My car had been damaged a few days before by vandals and people had been mugged in the grocery store across the street, so I was afraid someone was breaking in through the basement windows, although I thought it would have had to be the world's skinniest robber to fit through those teeny, tiny windows.

I knew I wouldn't be able to sleep that night if I didn't go check it out, so I mustered my courage and very cautiously opened the basement door. I switched on the light, the one swinging overhead light bulb that lit the dirt floor and hand hewn brick walls. Walking into our basement was like walking back into time 150 years ago. It was used for cold storage when the house was first built and showed the age of the house. I slowly walked down the wood stairs, hoping no hand was going to reach between the gaps and grab my ankles. When I got to the basement, I took a good look around and it was then I saw him.

And it was a him. It was a very thin, very weary looking, very tall and lanky Civil War soldier leaning against the wall, breathing heavily as if he couldn't walk another step. He was holding a matted and dirty piece of fabric against his side where he appeared wounded and looked at me with the most lost and pained eyes I had ever seen. I felt this immense sadness just flood my soul. Surpisingly I wasn't scared. But in just a moment's breath he was gone and I was just left with this overwhelming feeling of loss. I later learned that the house I lived in was part of the Underground Railroad. I'm not sure, but I think I saw a Southern soldier trying to escape. Whoever he was, I am sure that I saw him and I feel positive that he saw me.

And whoever he was... I hope he finished his journey.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Parenting 101

I have sat all day in a tiny little wooden chair talking to parents of preschool children, filling their heads with images of their smiling darlings hard at work and doing nothing but gently gliding through our classroom and joyfully sharing classroom materials all day long with nary a word of discontent. I listened as the lead teacher glossed over the incident with the boy who tried to shove a tack in his eye because he didn't want to do his Kindergarten work. Or as she told the parents of the boy that I shall not label that he is coming around socially when he isn't, even as the mom expressed her concern that her son might not be progressing normally. I smiled and nodded because that is what I am paid to do. But here is what I really wanted to say. These are my parenting rules to live by:

Rule #1: A clean child is a sign of a sick parent. A child who never has dirty finger nails, spilled food on his shirt or a swatch of dirt smeared across his forehead is not being allowed to explore his world or feed himself. Let the kid get exposed to germs. He will be healthier for it.

Rule #2: If your child falls and there is no blood or obviously distorted bone, don't rush in to save your child. Chances are your child does not have a broken bone or a gaping wound and will be better off for picking herself up off the ground. If you always rescue her, she will NEED to always be rescued.

Rule #3: Children must experience danger. They must climb tall things and swing great heights. They must cross a street. If they never experience danger, they will never learn to think before they leap.

Rule #4: Children must play outside without adult interaction everyday. Period. Let them play. Only interfere when absolutely necessary.

Rule #5: Children must be allowed to experience boredom. No child needs to be entertained every second of every minute of every day. Let them be bored. Tell them to entertain themself and leave all electrical appliances OFF!

Rule #6: Children must be read to or with every night. No excuses. I don't care how busy you are, how tired you are, how overscheduled you are, how resistant your child is. I DON'T CARE! You are the parent and it is your responsibility to read to your child. It matters to their development. Trust me, IT MATTERS!

Rule #7: No means no. If you are going to use this word, mean it! Don't waffle back and forth and cave in the end. You make it impossible on a teacher.

Rule #8: Do not tell you child Santa won't bring anything if they are not good. This sets him or her up for failure. He or she tries so hard to be good around you, that they have to melt down someplace else safe, usually school.

Lastly, Rule #9: If you think there is something wrong with your child, trust your instincts. You know your child best. But if a teacher is trying to tell you that a second opinion is needed, listen. A second opinion never hurts and can only help, especially if the teacher is wrong.

Phweww, I feel better. Feel free to add your own parenting rules. I'm sure Anonymous thinks I am being Rude and Angry again, and maybe I am. But I'll tell you, I follow my own rules. I love the children I work with in spite of some of the parenting they have received. Over the years I have seen the best and the worst of parents. And don't think I am targeting one specific kind of parent. Today I sat talking to a 20 year old mom who has the best 3 year old girl in the world and the mom is the most grounded, responsible, caring mom I've ever met. If a 20 year old can pull it together to parent, why can't we all?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Not the Adult!

There is a very nasty, albeit fast moving stomach flu going through my classroom right now. Each day about 4 children are staying home throwing up. Last Wednesday (class picture day) my stomach suddenly started to hurt, my skin turned frighteningly green and I had an overwhelming need to lie prostrate on the floor. I was down for the count. Luckily I have an iron stomach and have only thrown up 5 times in my entire life. I was miserable and sick, but not vomiting like every other person being infected with the malaise. I went home from work two hours early and put Hubby on single parent duty. My fever broke at 3:00 AM that morning and I was back at work by 7:45 AM on very little sleep. I worked my full day and then went back for an Open House until 7:00PM. I was exhausted.

That night we took in a puppy for a couple that went out of town and couldn't kennel her because she hadn't had her full round of shots. Did you know puppies don't let you sleep at night? So here I am, no sleep from the night before and still no sleep (puppy finally went home today.)

In the meantime, my classroom kids are just melting down all over the place because they are either getting sick or getting over being sick. It got so bad and I felt so bad that on Friday at dismissal, my kid-who I am not supposed to label as Asperger's- and my drama queen girl started screaming and crying at each other and I was the last adult left in the vicinity to deal with it. I swear I almost started crying, too. I really didn't want to be the adult.

The weekend was puppylong and I was getting more and more sleep deprived. Remember, no one takes my flu seriously since I don't actually throw up. I was SO looking forward to getting to sleep at 9:00 last night and trying to sleep, even with the puppy. But Hubby came out from putting E to sleep and told me his stomach hurt. Then he started feeling ill. Then the proverbial and literal shit hit the fan. I have been with Hubby over 14 years and I have never seen that man laid low. I have seen him sick, in the hospital, feeling miserable and just downright puny. But I have never seen him as sick as he was last night. But my husband threw up at least 10 times last night, ALL NIGHT LONG! There went my sleep.

So excuse me while I feel sorry for myself, because I am actually so tired that I hurt and I can't breathe and I feel like I am an inch away from a panic attack at any moment. I am hoping against hope that tonight is the night I get to sleep. Hubby is better, puppy is gone. I just hope and pray E makes it through the night without telling me her tummy hurts.

Friday, October 24, 2008

From an Anonymous Commenter

"Very rude for you to judge people. That's not what christ taught at all. To each their own, God is the only judge. You are a very angry RUDE person!"

Just When I Thought I Had Seen it All


I have been working with kids now in various functions for nigh going on 20 years. All ages of kids, all kinds of kids. That means I have been working with all kinds of parents. But I saw it all.

Today one of my sweetest and most lovable kindergarteners brought in a show and tell for class (one child is chosen for each day.) Out of the show and tell bag comes a clipping from a branch with dark blue berries on it. Then out comes a plastic baggy full of dark blue berries to share. This little boy and his mom had gone out into his yard and collected enough dark blue berries for EVERYONE in the classroom to sample some. Only, notice how I placed a space between blue and berries? I did this because he didn't bring in blueberries, he brought in the dark blue berries of the Virginia Creeper. The POISONOUS dark blue berries of the Virginia Creeper.

I swear, people should be required to take a parental training class before being allowed to have a kid.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Topamax and Me

For several years I went to a very scary doctor. At first I thought scary doctor was good for me. He made me take my high blood pressure seriously. He talked to me about nutrition and dieting. He scared the crap out of me, but at the time I listened to him.

After a year of being his patient and dieting, I lost 27 pounds. Not bad for a year. But he wasn't happy with my cholesterol. My bad cholesterol was normal, but my good cholesterol was low and no matter what I did, it wouldn't budge. So he kept trying to talk me into taking cholesterol meds and I kept saying no. Finally he said it was not an option if I wanted to stay his patient so I caved and took the meds. The first cholesterol medicine attacked my joints within days and caused me unbearable pain. He took me off of that immediately and prescribed another one. I dutifully took it and, oh, how I wish I had stood my ground.

I started to be unable to sleep. I had panic attacks again. Worst of all, I started to gain weight, even though I was still maintaining 1200 calories a day and exercising regularly. I gained 29 pounds. I went to scary doctor in tears and told him the Crestor was destroying my quality of life. I researched this medicine online and found others suffering the same side effects. I needed to come off of it. He basically told me I was an idiot and refused to take me off of it. I stopped taking it and found a new doctor. Not only a new doctor, but one recognized as one of the top 100 internal medicine doctors in the US and a specialist in Metabolic Syndrome.

Two weeks after stopping the Crestor, the weight gain stopped. My new doctor flagged me as statin-intolerant and told me to never again let any doctor put me on cholesterol medicine. He took a battery of tests, ordered all of my old records and gave my body another month to try to right itself from the statin damage. I lost a whopping 1 pound. My body was in trouble. My doctor told me it needed help.

Enter Topamax. Topamax is a medicine used for anti-seizure and migraines but it has a peculiar side-effect of causing rapid weight loss. It also has a lot of other not very pleasant side effects. It's nickname is "Dopamax" and I see why. You have to understand, I didn't come to the decision to take this medication lightly. Bipolar disorder runs in my family and this medicine also has "mood stabilizing" effects. I have no desire to see that gene suddenly activated in my body. But I also can't stand being this weight and suffering from weight related illnesses. I took my first dose last night and have been slightly miserable all day.

When I was younger I tried pot a few times and really didn't like it all that much. I drink occasionally and enjoy being tipsy, but only once in a while. I'm just not someone who thrives on being "out of it." And that's exactly how I feel. I can deal with all of the other side effects, but the one thing I can't stand is not being on top of things. I am always the person who sees things before they happen and prevents mishaps. I think things through and offer solutions before anyone realizes there might be a problem. Today, I completely lost Monday. I thought it WAS Monday, not Tuesday (a listed side effect.) I know this will all dissipate, but...

But then I thought, maybe this is meant to be right now. I always feel so much stress at being so totally in charge and in control. Maybe I need to take these few months and accept that I can't be that person and just see if the world ceases to spin on its axis. So, I just wanted to give you a head's up if my future posts have a lot more typos or seem fairly fuzzy, they're coming from a muted brain right now.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Here We Go

A woman appeared at our church today. Not just any woman. That kind of woman. The prostelytizing, fast-talking, trying to save my soul while she looks around for something to steal, kind. And here we go again.

I can spot a religious con-artist before I even hear them speak. It's just a talent I have. I first noticed this woman in the church kitchen this morning. Her eyes were darting around everywhere and she was talking to anyone who came within 5 feet of her, talking about what a hard life she had, how she had been run out of her last church and then put in a mental institution in another county because someone mistook her for another woman. She was telling every one! I walked as far away as possible from her.

But fast forward to this afternoon. Our church had an afternoon picnic and there she was, fast talking at one of our more shy congregants who I happened to like until I heard my so-called friend say "Let me introduce you to the pastor's wife." I had no where to run and no tree to hide behind before the woman was passed off to me. She immediately started talking about her three ex-husbands and Lucifer throwing trials in her path and how dark-haired men are the devil and she just wanted me to know where she was coming from and...and...and...URGH!

Hubby came up and just stared at the woman-watching my head get bigger and bigger- just smirking as he thought of it exploding any minute. But did he save me? NO! I would manage to slip away from her and she would start attacking someone else and they would bring her back over to me. I couldn't get away. No one wanted to be near her.

I know her though. I don't know her personally, but I have been a pastor's wife going on 10 years now and I have seen people just like her. She tries too hard to fit in. She wants people to think she is so pious because in her mental state she thinks that is what we want to hear. She is trying to gain the trust of the church people and when she thinks she has it, things will start to disappear. Not much at first, the money in the church alms box that is unguarded in the narthex. Then the DVD player will suddenly be gone. Finally, she will approach someone in the church and try to get a large sum of money with a pity story. The person will see her for who she is (because she is definitely not in the league of the Stalker Congregants) and she will steal one last big thing and be gone.

I just hate that we are going to go through this again. But that is the thing about church, you get all types. The sad thing is, there are some mentally unstable people with really good hearts and no criminal history who could really use church as a stabilizing force, but because there are so many pschizophrenic religious zealot con-artists out there, they get pushed aside.

We had one woman in our church who said she was ADD AND (And what she never said). Talking to her was really hard, but she was such a pure light of a soul, you hung in with her because you knew she needed you. She left the church because she felt like she made people uncomfortable, and that made me sad. But this person, who I know is eventually going to cause Hubby and the church grief, this person is going to drive me crazy.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

And yet another former blog transfer

Hubby does not have the gift of foresight. Most of his life lessons have been learned the hard way, using hindsight. I, thank goodness, have the ability to look at a situation and say, "Oh, this is bad, abort!" However, I can not be with Hubby 24/7, it's just not possible or healthy.

Well, before Hubby decided to become an ordained minister, we lived in a very small town (population 259) smack dab in the middle of the country. The nearest McDonald's was 45 minutes away, the nearest grocery store was 20 minutes away. We got our water from a well and it went into a septic tank. This town was so small, the only restaurant in town was the little grill attached to the gas station. You could fill up your car, get a greasy burger and buy bait all in one stop. This town was so small that the biggest news for 3 weeks running was the beaver problem up river. The beavers kept damming up the river and with hurricane season, it was threatening to flood the area. It was BIG news, let me tell you.

The other thing about this town was the drainage system. We didn't have sewers, or water lines, or any fancy way of directing water when it rained. Our entire town had 3-4 foot ditches dug along the roads. The few places where the ditches couldn't be dug, due to walkways or large tree roots, had big metal pipes for the water to run through. Each person in the town was responsible for keeping their "ditch" clear of weeds and debris. Hubby took this task very seriously and maintained our ditch religiously, especially since our ditch joined up with one of the few drainage pipes that ran behind the neighboring church.

Eventually, however, he got bored with the process and one day decided to try to speed it up by doing a controlled burn. The ground was a little wet and the gasoline he used wouldn't catch the weeds. At this point, impatient Hubby got the bright idea to go and get the Coleman fuel we kept in case of hurricanes and use that to throw on the weeds. He poured a large amount on it and stepped closer to look. Still, the grass didn't catch, so he poured just a little more gasoline on it.

I was in the house when I heard it. It was the loudest boom I have ever heard in my life and the house shook like the foundation was going to crumble in on itself. I rushed outside, honestly thinking a crop duster had crashed in our little back half-acre. And there was Hubby..... He was standing, amazed that he was still alive, albeit a little singed, just staring at the home-made cannon he had created. The Coleman fuel had finally caught on fire and, all at one time and with a mighty roar, lit up the ditch and created a fireball that shot the half a block through the water pipe that traveled under the church property, erupting out in a poof of fire and smoke on the other side. Neighbors came running out of their houses to see what had happened. When I saw that Hubby was still alive and the fire had been so explosive as to burn itself out, I went back inside with a shake of my head and ordered another 50,000 be added to Hubby's life insurance.

This is all a true story, except for the life insurance, Hubby is already well-insured and you can see why.

Still Transferring

Hubby had to work today so I took E to the local mammoth playground. It's one of the last, great, death defying structures in our area. All the other playgrounds have been stripped of anything that could cause potential harm to children. Ramps instead of climbing bars, seatbelts on the swings, prison bar railings to prevent falls. But not this one. This one is 12 feet off the ground with firemen's poles and climbing walls and lots of places to fall. E loves it and I love it for her. I think kids need these kind of playgrounds to learn common sense. If we sanitize every environment they are ever in, they are never going to learn caution and consequence.But I digress, this post is not about that.

This post is about the seemingly very nice dad I met while waiting for E to fall head first from the unsecured twisty slide. His daughter, C, and E very nicely hit it off and played for almost two hours together. Inevitably, as Southern social custom seems to dictate, the dad and I struck up a friendly, superficial conversation. We talked about our kids's schooling, places that we have taken them, yadda yadda yadda. But then the dad asked me if E had a Wii. To be honest., although I have heard that term being bandied about, I don't even know what a Wii is. I know it has something to do with video games and such, but, no, we don't have one. I simply said that no, E is more of an outdoor child and we like it that way. She doesn't have an interest in such things. She does like the computer, but we limit her time on it.

Then the father asked me if I attended a church. Warning bells started going off in my head. I very politely answered that yes, my husband was a pastor of such and such church. To which the dad responded, "I could tell that you are someone with a lot of morals and very traditional values." Well, yes, as a matter of fact I am, but not because of church. I knew at that point I was in trouble. He started to tell me about the Yay God, mega church he attended. From there he talked about how he felt that when he gets to heaven he is going to be able to meet up with his deceased animals and his childhood cat was going to pin him to a wall for owning a dog in his adult life.

Somewhere in all of this Hubby showed up at the playground. C's dad started talking to him and pointedly looked past me (as in this was no realm for a woman to be involved in) and asked him about his politics. Hubby has this great way of brushing that question off where you think he is answering you, but when you walk away if you ponder the conversation you'll go, wait, he didn't answer me. So, Hubby did that. Then the man started talking about Huckabee and wondering if he was really what he appeared to be. (Hubby has a friend who worked for him and said, yes, he really is what he appears to be. that doesn't mean we are going to vote for him! Ah, but I wandered off the path.) The kicker came when C's dad said, "Really, when people ask me about politics, what I answer is, Jesus is my commander-in-chief!" That's a new one for me. I came so close to saying back "Yes, and DOG is my co-pilot!"

You would think I would be use to it by now; the proselytizing, the assumptions, the outrageous comments people make to me. Do I believe I'll see my dead dog again? I don't know. I like Hubby's explanation of heaven, it is the only one that so far has made sense to my scientific mind. He says Heaven is just your energy, or your soul, joining the presence of God. You may not be a body, have a sense of being whole or even thought, but your energy is in the presence of God. I don't know if I believe it or not, but at least I can say energy cannot be created or destroyed, only changed, so his explanation makes some sense. But I have no desire to even get into that conversation with someone who has a bowl cut and probably will send his child to Jesus Camp ( a very disturbing film, by the way). But I was polite and said very little and I am sure the man walked away feeling better for having spent time in the presence of a fellow pious Christian. He angled to try to get our phone number so we could arrange a playdate for our girls. I played dumb and he eventually went away. Thank goodness.

A Post from my Former Blog

What does one use duct tape for? Let's ponder this question. I use duct tape on when something comes apart. You may use duct tape on plumbing or electrical fixtures. I knew someone once who used duct tape to hold pieces together on their 1976 Vega (okay, that was me too).

But my Mother-in-law came up with what can only be described as the most NON-recommended use for duct tape. One day she was contemplating waxing her legs. You lather the wax on, wait for it to harden a little and then pull till your eyes water. Well, she thought, why pay so much money for wax when DUCT TAPE WILL DO THE SAME THING! I kid you not. She asked me my opinion of using duct tape to wax her legs and I just about choked on the drink I was sipping.

"Surely you're not serious," I said.

"But why not?" she replied, "it couldn't hurt any worse than waxing."

"You don't think so? Duct tape is meant to stick FOREVER to something. WAX is not."

Now, I don't really know if she proceeded to try this or not, but she was seriously considering it. I bring it up because my hubby and his family seem to be preoccupied with being hairless. MIL didn't like hair on her legs, fair enough, but Hubby HATES hair on his back. He hates it so much that one day he decided he would try to use NAIR on his back.

"Um, Hubby, have you ever used Nair on any part of your body before?" I asked, hiding my rolling eyes.

"No, but if it works on legs, it should work on back hair, right?" He theorized.

"Maybe," I said, "but you need to do a skin test first. Use a little bit on an inch of your skin and wait a day. I mean, it burns the hair off, it's pretty rough on your skin and the skin on your back is pretty soft."

"That's silly. People use this all the time. Just rub this on my back, will you?"

I pursed my lips and did as Hubby asked. He gets stubborn like that sometimes and I have learned it is better not to argue. It's part of his learning through hindsight as opposed to foresight thing I mentioned a while back. The next day the hair had been completely removed from his back, but you couldn't tell because his back was completely covered with a nasty, blistering burn. He was in body-shaking pain for about three days. Any chance I got I patted him on the back, just to make my point.To this day, when he gets a burr up his butt that I KNOW to be a bad idea, I still say "Remember the Nair?"

Friday, October 17, 2008

Why I Moved My Blog and the Meaning of Muddy Waters

I know some of you are wondering why my move to a new blog page and what happened to my old blog. Being a pastor's wife forces me to maintain a sort of anonymity. Things that I put in my blog should not be able to be directly traced back to me, but that is just what happened. I put too much personal information in the last blog and a vindictive person had a chance to take advantage of that, so I deleted anything that might be incriminating or cause my husband strife.

On my old business website, some strange anonymous email started coming through that was vaguely violent and sexual. I had no way of tracing it and it kind of freaked me out. But I brushed it off as just some spammer phishing. On Sunday, however, I received the same email through my former blog site and realized it was coming from someone who knew me. The person I suspect it of being is not very stable and I just couldn't take the chance that she might out me. That's why I choose a site where I can monitor who is monitoring me. So, some slight drama, but not enough to worry me.

As for the name, Hubby went to a church while he was on his retreat where they "called the Holy One" by praying to the four corners and burning sage and sweetgrass. They then went on to play Grateful Dead music and preach on Muddy Waters. The pastor talked about how we sometimes can't see our way out of muddy waters, but it's all water and water is life and everyone swims in it eventually. That is exactly where I am in my life right now and so I stole his stuff. Thanks, Howard, wherever you are.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Two Kind's of Pastor's Wives

As far as I can tell, and I think I've been doing this long enough to speak with some authority, there are two kinds of pastor's wives. There's the kind like me-dedicated to our husbands but slightly lost in the shuffle and desperately trying to balance a family life with our own dreams. I meet these women from time to time. Not often, but when I do, we commiserate with each other and offer sympathy, uh, I mean, SUPPORT!

Then there's the other kind. I call these women the Insipid Spouses. When I was 5 months pregnant Hubby and I went to dinner with a newlywed couple. The husband had just started seminary and the wife was a botanist. Both were very religious and seemed to have a deep commitment and love for each other. The Hubbies were friends and had beer, so they instantly started doing that male bonding thing, shutting us women out and leaving us to converse with each other. To this day I have never forgiven Hubby for this dreadful experience. The woman was only able to talk about two things: plants and her husband's ministry, which he hadn't started yet because he was still in school.

Okay, I am a kind of jack-of-all-trades, pillar of worthless knowledge kind of person, I can talk about plants for a little bit and not sound bored. So we did. We talked about what she did in her lab, the famous scientist she worked with and what discoveries they had made. Then we talked about her husband's desire to start a prison ministry. She would have stayed on that subject the entire time if I had let her. But Hubby had arranged this dinner in hopes of finding a clergy couple that we could hang out with and talk about NON-church things. I tried everything to engage this woman in secular conversations but she wouldn't bite. Finally I asked her what other interests she had besides her husband and plants. I swear this is her response- "Nothing." Um, WHAT???!!! I tried again and said, "Surely you must have something besides your work that is yours?" To which she said, "No, all I need in my life is my job and my husband. I just want to support him in everyway I can." I realized it was useless and stopped there.

But 5 years later this couple is divorced, the husband has been stripped of his ministry and, if the rumor mill is to be believed (they're pastors, so you kind of believe it) is very happy with his boyfriend.