Trying to keep the peace at home and abroad

When Murphy met Lusi part 4: making L&P

So, I have now shared with you the horrors of my trip to New Zealand and the process drained me to the point I could no longer type. Well, not really. I just had a lot of that stuff called life getting all up in my face and so I figured I should probably focus on that instead.
Anywho…
Sir Smiley promised to pop me some yummy pop corn but then got wrapped up in making himself a wallet from leather he bought (to replace the one he lost…) and is right now pounding divots into the belt he also just made himself.

I digress. I started to ponder the fact that since my trip I have only shared the horrors. I am putting a black mark on New Zealand’s name! It must be redeemed! So, I wanted to briefly share with you some of the joys of our trip. I will start with scuba diving. Yes, I did puke all over myself and damage the car getting there. But none of that was the fault of Dive Tutukaka…our dive company. They did a fantastic job, despite the weather and the experience was fantastic. We saw nudibranchs, scorpion fish, moray eels….and a bazillion fish. We swam into a cave, and even drove the boat into the larges marine cave in the world. Here were some pics of our adventures that day:

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Sir Smiley meets a new friend..

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…and then he met even more!

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A yellow moray eel

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The smaller cave we found to explore.

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Sir Smiley playing in the sea weed.

This more than made up for the vomit. I will share more joyous fun later. But Sir Smiley has adjusted his new leather belt so I will leave you now to eat homemade popcorn. Yum!

When Murphy met Lusi Part 3: Chasing Lusi

Here is part three of my horrifying trilogy. This is the link to the backstory of this trip…and here is the link to the first few days of our trip. There…all up to speed? Good!

Day 3 was relatively uneventful (at least in any bad ways). It was our first good day, despite the beginnings of Lusi. She had started at the North and worked her way south. We also were slowly working south…but at this point we were managing to stay just ahead of her. We only experienced brief bouts of light rain and some gusts of wind that were impressive but not shocking. I will revisit this much more pleasant day later when I start to expound on all the amazing and wondrous things we experienced on this vacation (it really wasn’t all horrifying). The only truly bad thing was when we got to our bed and breakfast, Lusi finally caught up to us and while feeling more of her force, we get a message from the next dive center that our dive was cancelled due to the cyclone. So diving an active volcano was kaboshed.


Supernatural reference…it was a tragic moment…

But otherwise it was the end a much more pleasant day 3.

Day 4 dawns with us still in the midst of Lusi. We begin our alternate itinerary and head south six hours to Wellington for a Lord of the Rings tour. It was another fairly pleasant day and we were beginning to feel fairly optimistic. By the time we get to Wellington, the skies were clearing and so we decided we would FINALLY be able to camp! We have terrible directions from their website and by the time we find the campsite, it’s 7:45. It closes at 8, we’re 20 minutes from the closest civilization, and we haven’t eaten dinner. You see the problem. So we dine on Cliff bars and Stinger Waffles for dinner and then go to set up camp. But of course since Mr. Murphy was involved in this vacation, Lusi returns in full force. We find a little alcove sheltered from the wind on three sides and set up camp. We use the car to try and protect us even more.

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Our cozy campsite.

We settle in and about a quarter of the way into the night I wake up to gale force winds whipping at our tent…and half the tent collapsing on us. I panic and look at Sir Smiley who is literally holding the tent up with both arms and yelling at me, “Don’t worry! I got it! I got it!”. He manages to bend the tent poles back and the rest of the night we survived without trauma…although I didn’t sleep much. You could hear the 50mph winds sweeping across the canyon before it would even reach us and the roar of the trees whipping around above us.

funny gifs

End day 4.

The wind calms by morning and we have a dry tent when we wake up. We quickly take down camp and head into town. We obviously know little about New Zealand as we thought Wellington was like the other towns we had been to. But this is no town…it’s city…a capital city…with rush hour and traffic. We go to the i-site (their form of a visitor’s center) to meet with the bus for our Lord of the Rings tour. I assumed there would be parking…there was not. We find a parking ramp…it’s closed for construction. This city is a tangled web of one-ways and curvy roads so we loop around and around and around…and ultimately find a place to park that’s about half a mile away. I quickly pay for parking, put the receipt in the dash and we run. We make it there and head inside only to find out we had literally just missed the bus. I was on the verge of a full-fledged panic attack as I had spent over $300 on this tour and we had driven 6 hours to get here and we had just missed it.

Sheldon hyperventilating Big Bang Theory

But the information desk ladies kindly gave me the company’s number and when I called them, they let me know that the driver had just gone to pick someone else up and then was coming right back. So she picks us up and we enjoy a lovely day…fully embracing my geek side. But, of course, when we got back to our car we discover a parking ticket. Sir Smiley had left the window’s cracked and apparently our receipt had flipped upside down. Awesome. We then camped that night. By now it was dry and pleasant and we again began to have hope for the last part of our vacation. This hope would soon die.

End of day 5

Warning: here we enter the shocking and most horrifying day of all. Day 6 should really be named day 666 for the evil nature of it. It begins well. We wake up refreshed, have a lovely breakfast, and then head out for a long day of hiking. We were headed Tongoriro Crossing. Information about the trek can be found here. It’s about 19km long and probably climbs 1000 feet up. We park at the finish and then catch a shuttle to the start. We arrive at the same time as 2 tour buses full of high school boys. We walk very slowly to let the herds and herds of loud boys go past us so we could enjoy some solitude and peace on this hike. We then catch up to them when they take a break by the “bathrooms” (port-a-potties) so we take a little side trail until they leave.

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The herd of boys that kept us company during our hike…

Then we begin the long trek pretty much straight up a volcano.

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This sign greeted us at the start…we should have listened…

For three hours we hike up and up and up and up. We were a little disappointed because clouds had settled on this volcano so we saw pretty much nothing. We were going so high that I’m sure the views would have been amazing…if we could have actually seen them. But we enjoy the mysteriousness of this land shrouded in mist where they had filmed Mordor. We finally reach the summit and pause to grab a quick bite to eat and enjoy the view…..*hysterical laughter

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The “view”…

Then we begin our trek downhill from there…relieved to be done with the steep climbs up. The trek down is on deep sandy gravel. I really was more downhill skiing then hiking.

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A shot of the trail down…where it ALL went down…

A few yards down and I start to feel something. You ladies know this feeling. I had a pad on just in case but hadn’t actually been having a period…but here it started and it was very heavy. I nab Sir Smiley and drag him away from the adolescent males and warn him we shouldn’t pause or take breaks because I was bleeding now and the next bathroom was an hour and a half hike away from where we were. So we start hiking/skiing more briskly when a few minutes later I feel massive clots of blood exiting. Probably about three of them. Now I’m starting to feel a bit panicked. Would I make it to the bathroom? The answer came right then…something very solid slowly began working its way out of me. I truly was freaked out now. Did I somehow manage to get pregnant and now was losing a baby? No…highly illogical as I had a tubal and an IUD. A was it a cyst or something that had broken loose and worked it’s way out? Possibly. At this point I again grab Sir Smiley and simply say in a freaked out voice, “Something solid is coming out!”. He just stares at me, undoubtedly trying to figure out how best to react. I was informed later he wanted to rant about the absurdity of this all and this vacation but knew I was so freaked out that it wouldn’t have been a good idea. So he then points to a large rock just off the trail…right on the edge of the abyss. “Want to go behind that to figure out what’s going on?”. Did I want to to disrobe and examine myself on the edge of a cliff when I have questionable balance and coordination? No way I was going to risk a half naked death for this, so we hiked a few minutes down to the emerald pools and find an alcove of rocks. I then proceed to strip from the waste down and Sir Smiley gives me some toilet paper he has in his bag (for emergencies) so I can clean up a bit. That’s when we discover that I had given birth to my IUD on the side of a volcano. Of course. Sure, it’s supposed to last for five years and then be removed by a physician but mine decides to just mosey on out when I’m miles and hours away from any type of civilization…on the side of an active volcano…surrounded by teenage boys…armed with one spare pad.

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My brand new “baby” I gave birth to…

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The Bloody Rocks as we now call them…my impromptu dressing room…

I clean up, we put the “biohazard waste” into an empty juice box container and then continue our trek. I was feeling hopeful that the worst was over. But then…of course…proceeded to bleed clot after clot after clot. We get to the bathrooms and Sir Smiley gives me a handkerchief to use, as my womanly supplies had now run out. So girded like it was the 1930s, I then begin the long trek back to the car…another 2-2.5 hours from that rest stop. Still bleeding large quantities of blood, it starts pouring rain. I start sobbing about how I’m now wet in places where the rain can’t reach and how I was wet everywhere else from the rain. I wail about how there is no redeeming quality of this day and I deserve to be miserable. I finally whimper that Mount Doom was so aptly named. At this point it occurs to Sir Smiley that the prospect of camping that night at a campsite with no showers or running water was probably distressing me then assures me we will get a hotel. In┬árelief I just sob and say, “Good, because I need a shower so bad!”

Mount Doom

I want to make this into a shirt…no one needs to know that’s not really lava flowing down the volcano…

We get down the mountain and then have to hike another hour through woods before we even reach the parking lot. We make it to the end and snap a picture of victory. Only then we notice that this was not our parking lot. We apparently have to hike another mile or two down the road to get to our car.
We make it to the car, I grab a towel and sit on it, and we head for the nearest town. I grab some clean clothes and go to clean up in a gas station…as by this time I “looked like I had slaughtered a chicken in my lap” (Sir Smiley’s words…not mine). I had some fish and chips to cheer me up and then we proceeded to find a hotel.

I did bleed a lot over the next several days and by the time I got home I struggled a lot with feelings of lethargy and fatigue. Undoubtedly I was a tad bit anemic… added to the joys of jet lag.

The only other adventure after that was when we checked into our final hotel. We got there only to discover they had no parking left so we had to park a couple blocks away and then haul our bags from there. Also, our hotel room was on the third floor which did not have an elevator straight through. We took one elevator to the second floor, then had to walk across the hotel to the other side and took another elevator to the third. The second elevator squealed and jerked like it may plummet at any moment. By this point I felt any paranoia was highly justified. I’m only grateful there were no stairs. When we got to our room, we discovered there was no AC so we opened the windows and fell asleep to the hot air oppressing us and the serene sounds of drunk people, sirens, and garbage trucks.

Overall, our vacation was an adventure. There were definitely some horrifying moments that never had entered my brain even remotely in the realm of possibilities. But there were amazing sights and adventures that brought us great joy. I will begin with those tomorrow.

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When Murphy met Lusi Part 2: When life gives you lemons, make L&P

So yesterday I gave you the backstory leading up to my epic adventure that was New Zealand *

I have two disclaimers.
First, New Zealand is amazing. Nothing more I can say because the country is too beautiful for words, the people are nice and considerate and full of common sense (Which was soooo refreshing), and the food was fantastic! I absolutely love New Zealand! The problem was that New Zealand did not love me.

Second, these posts are not for the squeamish. In our Bible Study, Sir Smiley made a rule that we could not talk about bodily secretion. Mainly because there were a bunch of mothers in our group which ultimately led to conversations of poop, breast feeding, and periods. I break this rule here…frequently.

And so this epic saga begins. I will be going through my vacation a few days at a time… twice. First, I will be focusing on the insane and horrifying things that tainted so many parts of our vacation…and then later I will be elaborating on the amazing and awe inspiring moments of our journey. This trip needed a good dose of Prozac because the high points were euphoric and low points were truly mortifying.

Possible names and slogans for our vacation:
Chasing Lusi
Adapt, Overcome, Conquer
Roll with it. No regrets.
When life gives you lemons…make L&P (a popular New Zealand drink)

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Our flight out of LAX was pleasantly uneventful. After we landed in Fiji we had our first set of dilemmas. Yes, I said set. We had a three hour layover in Fiji. There were two lines to join when we left the plane, one for reboarding another flight and one to leave the airport. Not wanting to risk running late after going through customs twice, we opted to reboard. This sent us into the airport where we checked in for our next flight…only to find out it had been delayed a couple more hours. So no we had five hours to kill instead of three and the airport was the size of a small food court…only with less to do. So we looked for an exit to go exploring out on the island. But there weren’t any. Once we were in airport we were stuck there. Almost all the staff left and those that were there just shrugged and sent you elsewhere. Fed up we finally went downstairs past the one store in the airport and found a small set of cushioned and long benches we could stretch out on so I took a nice long nap.

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zzzzzzzzzzzzz

A few hours later we decided to get something to eat, at the one small and sketchy “cafe” they had in the airport (and I use that term very loosely). This is when Sir Smiley discovered his wallet was missing. His driver’s license, credit cards, police commission card, ems cards…all gone. Thankfully his passport was stored in a money belt so we still had that but now everything else was MIA. The irony here being that I always lose stuff and he never does…but I was the one who managed to keep track of my wallet the entire trip (thankfully, as we would have had no money otherwise). We tried to call the card companies to cancel the cards…only to discover that none of the phones in this insane airport worked. By this point we were cursing the hell pit that had become Fiji to us (it does redeem itself…more on that later).

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This is basically the entirety of the upstairs of the airport.

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A map of the entire downstairs…that little X on the map is the benches I was laying on in the previous picture…if you want to get a feel for the scale of the map

We finally board our plane and head off to Auckland. We land at about 3pm instead of 1pm and then sit for thirty more minutes as the stairs to disembark did not fit our plane. After much shoving and ramming and shaking, they finally gave up and went to fetch a new set. So now it’s 3:30 and we head off to rent our car…now in the middle of rush hour in one of probably three countries in the world that think driving on the left and sitting on the right is the way to do it. Sir Smiley can’t drive now…as he doesn’t have his license. So I’m driving on about four hours of sleep in the past forty hours, through rush hour, trying to get to our campsite that closes at 8 and is at least three hours away. By the time we finally escape the city we realize there is no way we’re making it to our campsite before it closes so we get some food and head off to find a hotel. Only, everything is booked. No vacancy, after no vacancy, after no vacancy sign. Finally at about 9:30 we pull into a hotel without a no vacancy sign. Nope, they’re packed. She then informs us that the local mine laid a bunch of people off and for some reason that caused people to flood the hotels. So nothing is open. She pulls out a phone book and someone in the neighboring town takes pity on us and gives us a room.


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Pretty much how I felt when we finally got to our room..

Thus ends day one.

Day two begins bright and early as we pack up and head off for our dive, a dive they had been threatening to cancel due to weather but thankfully we were still on for that day. Sir Smiley is an excellent driver and a terrible navigator, I cannot focus worth beans at this point, and when we pass our turn I have to make a u-turn on the wrong side of the road (in my mind anyway). In the process, I get too close to a fence post and two bolts sticking out gouge the whole left side of the car adding a decal that would ultimately cost us $2k. This may or may not have led to some marital strife…something along the lines of “You need to be more careful!” “Well, if you hadn’t lost your wallet you would be driving not me!” “You gouged the whole side of the car!” “Why didn’t you tell me to turn when we were supposed to!” “This will cost us the entire deductible!” “Anything you say right now, I’m thinking a million times worse in my head! I feel terrible!” Followed by uncontrollable sobbing.


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How the accident looked in my head…

We have three minutes to get to the dive center so I slowly drive us there through my tears and then sit in the car crying while Sir Smiley checks us in. I finally compose myself, quickly down my breakfast of a muffin and apple juice and immediately hop on the boat. The staff were friendly and helpful, and gave us a quick warning that the boat ride may be a bit choppy. Neither Sir Smiley nor I were concerned as sea sickness was never an issue for us (*insert ominous music here). We go to the top of the boat for a better view and thus begins our boat ride out to the Poor Knights Islands. A little rough apparently means at least 6-7 foot waves that we were fighting the entire way there. I was doing great until the last ten minutes of the trip when I suddenly started to feel funny. One of the staff members runs downstairs to get me a barf bag just in case…but alas he was too late. I started spewing everywhere. Sir Smiley has been a paramedic for ten years and has never seen such and epic barf. It ended up on:
- the boat floor
- the bench I was sitting on
- Sir Smiley’s arms and legs
- my entire front of my shirt, my pants, my sandals, my watch, my arms…even my face and hair.
Sir Smiley shoves some barf bags at me. Paper thin bags that were neatly folded shut. I was spewing so much I couldn’t yell at him to open them, and since I couldn’t get them open with all the puke already on me, I tried to cup one like a bowl up to my face which served more as a sprinkler effect…spraying all my vomit right back at my face. The staff just stared at me frozen in horror. They very obviously had never seen anything like it and had no idea how to help, Meanwhile we are still going over these huge swells but I’m so busy puking that I’m no longer holding on. Sir Smiley is holding me still so I don’t fly off the boat, but over a particularly large swell he slips on all my puke on the floor and scrapes the whole side of his back on the bench.


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A fairly accurate depiction really…

It finally ends and I feel much better and now smell strongly of apple juice. We make it to the islands and are sheltered from the waves. I sit and try to recover while Sir Smiley snags my shirt and pants (I had my suit on) and did a bit of laundry off the back of the boat and then hangs it up to dry. We get suited up and go diving successfully. Around this time we discover it’s not just a bit of rain, but a tropic storm cyclone named Lusi. Upon arriving back we discover that the roads are lined with emergency response vehicles, emergency generators, etc. in preparation for this storm. So again, we end up looking for a hotel room back in Auckland instead of camping on the beach in the middle of a cyclone.
Thus ends Day 2.

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Me, pre-puke, with the infamous bottle of apple juice that will soon be making a reappearance…

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Putting my wet suit on post-puke.

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Praise The Lord, the puking stopped!

Chasing Lusi to be continued tomorrow.;

When Murphy met Lusi Part 1: backstory

It’s been a long while since I’ve posted anything. Apparently, running the preschool program at your church, training for triathlons, leading a Bible Study, leading Cubbies, joining the PTO board and running a house with three kids ages 2, 4, and 6 leaves a person with very little free time. Go figure.

To avoid exploding from all life’s stresses and to celebrate our tenth anniversary, Sir Smiley and I went to New Zealand for ten days (including travel). It was a roller coaster ride of amazing moments. Moments both amazing in how wonderful it was and how horrifying. This blog post gained it’s title from two very important things. First is Murphy, the ever infamous. His law wreaks havoc on all without mercy. On our vacation, Murphy’s law met with Cyclone Lusi and the result is our epic vacation.

For this series of posts, I will be covering the havoc that these two wrought on our vacation. But to start off, we need a little backstory to set the stage. A few little fun facts that also will serve as foreshadowing for what is to come.

Facts:

Sir Smiley does not lose things. He is meticulous to such a degree it boggles my mind. He honestly cannot leave the house unless he has followed a specific order of objectives. He must carefully assemble his hardware (gun, phone, pocket knife, wallet, etc.) into his pockets. He has to put on his shoes and tie them. He always double checks the entire house and then quickly downs a glass of water. It doesn’t matter if we’re late to see the Pope. He will not skip any of these steps. He has a routine when he goes to work or comes home from work. When he showers. When he eats. There is ALWAYS a specific routine he follows and he NEVER deviates. As a result, he rarely loses things. I am a scatterbrain who will often be searching for the glasses on top of her head. I inherited my dad’s organizational skills (sorry Dad, but we both know it’s true). The running joke is if I can’t find something, to check the couch cushions and we always find it. So me? Yeah, I lose stuff constantly…but he never loses things (disclaimer: unless I moved them).

I do not damage cars. When I first started driving, I rear ended someone and totaled both cars, months after getting my license. The experience terrified me and gave me a healthy respect for the power of the vehicle I was driving. I don’t scrape, bonk, curb, or in any way collide with other objects. Sir Smiley has a big dent on the side of his car from hitting a post while backing up, but my van looks fantastic (I take that back, there is a scratch on the back bumper from when I didn’t pull in far enough and when of the kiddos closed the garage door before I had time to move it).

I have a stomach of steel. I. do. not. puke. Ever. Our family was sick with some kind of nasty stomach bug we kept passing around for six weeks. Everyone one else was puking up a storm. Me? Nothing. The last time I puked was literally ten years ago, when I first got married. Not once since then.

Tropical Cyclone Lusi. She’s a lovely storm that first hit a small island named Vanuatu and left three dead and six missing…then worked it’s way to Fiji and New Zealand. By the time it reached New Zealand it had lessened to only about 50-60 mph gusts with rain thrown in. New Zealand has been experiencing the worst draught ever in 70 years and everyday had been sunny and warm. Until we visited.

I have been having issues with my period ever since I had my third kiddo. Issues like, having my period for three out of four weeks. For the last two years they have been slowly running the gamut of new medications and such to get the bleeding under control. The most recent was having a Mirena IUD put in. It often will reduce your period to nothing, but in my case it only lessened the bleeding a bit. I was still having my period three out of four weeks…but it was noticeably lighter. So back in I went and they had me try some antibiotics and scheduled a follow up in May to see if that had helped. It hadn’t.

So now you have the background of my epic adventure in New Zealand. I loved New Zealand…but as you’ll see tomorrow, New Zealand did not love me.

That-which-must-not-be-named

Sir Smiley gave me the idea for the title of this blog. When I asked him what I should title this blog, he told me it should not be mentioned in the first place…and in popped the Harry Potter reference. This post is about poop. If you dislike poop or any mention of poop, then you should stop reading now. If you find nothing humorous in “potty jokes” then that’s a good indicator that you also should stop reading now. In fact, if you are squeamish in any way…go find a blog about ponies or unicorns because this may scar you for life. Consider yourself warned, and I bear no responsibility for any offense or vomit that may ensue after this sentence is complete.

I needed to write this post as sort of a cleansing…a cathartic exercise. My family has had some stomach issues in our home for weeks. The kids struggled with it for a couple weeks and now seem fine. Sir Smiley and I have been struggling with this since Christmas (literally Christmas Day…as some of you may have read about in this post) but it never actually got better. We would have a day or two where we thought we were finally over it and then either Sir Smiley or myself would get sick again.

The last straw was this past Thursday. It got so bad that I could barely leave bed except to go pass enormous amounts of liquid from the wrong hole and then crawl back into bed. I didn’t eat anything solid for well over a day and a half…closer to two days actually. I lost six pounds in a one day period. So I finally caved, called the doctor, and got a last minute appointment to find out what was going on.

Why did it take me close to six weeks to finally go in? Well, because this is a GI issue. There’s really only one way to truly check and see what’s going on and that’s through a…STOOL SAMPLE. I have never had to give one but it sounded fairly ominous. But in I go, and meet with a complete stranger (my regular doc was already booked up…although to be honest I’ve only met her once too) and then start having to graphically describe my symptoms. No, not a runny nose…a runny butt. I feel gassy, gross burps and such. Yes, that includes flatulence and lots of it. Yes, it does have a distinct odor. How frequently do I need to use the bathroom? How best to describe that one….too frequently? As often as a student checks the clock at the end of class? As often as a pregnant woman in her third trimester? I got the third degree and by the end I felt a bizarre mixture of relief and mortification. Mortification at all the embarrassing information I just had to relate in only a few minutes, and relief that this doctor actually cared about figuring out what was going on and was going to run the full gamut of tests to figure it out. If it wasn’t a virus, she was going to find out what it was.

So I headed to the lab to have blood drawn. Simple enough. I still did not know what would be required of me to give a stool sample. I had a vague idea that I would have some kind of container I would have to poop in and then I would turn it in. I was mainly concerned about the size of the receptacle I would need to take a dump in.

After I finished giving blood, they brought over a big bag. The tech asks me if I have ever given a stool sample before. I can only imagine the look of apprehension as I shook my head no…staring only at that huge bag. So she proceeds to then describe to me the process…and my mortification only grew with each step. First, she shows me these hard, clear, plastic tubes…about two or three inches wide. It had some unknown (and shall remain unknown) liquid in it. She shows them to me closely and points to a line across it (I also see on the label in huge letters…”Do Not Drink!” and could only think, “Dear Lord, did someone actually drink their sample and now they include a warning label?!). Apparently I am supposed to put exactly enough poop in these tubes to fill it up to the line and not above. I was seriously praying that the bag contained some other tools to help in this, as I doubted I could poop into something so small and still be so precise. She informs me that these must be stored at room temperature. Mmmkay. Then the tech pulls out some clear, coffee mug sized jar (Why, oh why are they all clear?!) and then tells me to fill this one at least a quarter full and adds that it needs to be refrigerated. Say what?! I am supposed to store this…in the fridge? With my food? I was appalled.

Moving on from storage, we now enter the procedural part of our tutorial. The tech pulls out something she calls “the hat”. What an unfortunate name. Why they call it this is beyond me. it vaguely has the shape of a hat I suppose, but you wouldn’t want this anywhere near your head. This has a lip to hold the bucket part in place on a toilet…right under your butt. Then you poop in it. I thought “Sh** pit” or “Crap Trap” were more appropriate names for this device. I did experience temporary relief at the size of the hat…at least it was large and I didn’t have to worry about aiming or precision. But that relief was short lived as the tech hands me gloves and a plastic spoon. A. Plastic. Spoon. Apparently this was to help me “ladle” the poop into the tubes. The hat (or shat hat as I took to referring to it) had a nice little spout on one end to aid in pouring…so it would in theory help you get your poop into the larger jar. I just stared at the tech in horror as she asked me if I understood what I was supposed to do. I answered to the affirmative and walked in a daze out the door.

I was successful in collecting my….specimens. I will not traumatize you with details, but I honestly think I would rather have diarrhea the rest of my life then go through that ever again. It was emotionally scarring…and I will be haunted by the memories for the rest of my life. Hopefully in the next week we’ll have nailed down what’s wrong though, and my life can finally start to have some semblance of normalcy after months of health issues.

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“The Hat” in all its glory…

Dinner with a Strong willed child

Dare I say it? My child is….strong willed. Well, that’s putting it mildly. Any time I ask him to do ANYTHING, it is an epic battle of wills that feels like it may to the death….most likely his. He once was so angry that he wasn’t allowed to crawl under the pew and grab the feet of the people behind us in church that even though he was dragged out into an empty classroom with the door closed, my hubby could still hear him. My hubby was on stage with worship band playing the keyboard at the time…with an ear piece in his ear. Let’s just say I didn’t feel close to God that Sunday.
So here we are at dinner. Everyone is doing fine and I cooked. I made chicken and potatoes and veggies and everything. I sit the girls down and tell them the potatoes are French fries and we’re ready to roll. Then I grab King Toot and, of course, he is unhappy. Of course, because I asked him to do something. Never mind that he’s been begging for food for an hour. I dared to tell him we were going to sit at the table and eat. That’s when he started his high pitched shriek. It could break glass….it does break ear drums. Now, these are a few things we have learned through trial and a massive amount of error. If I ever give in, even once, and just let him scream and ignore it….it eggs him on. He will only escalate more, and more, and more, and more. He has followed me around and pushed on the back of my knees to make me fall. He has thrown things at me, hit me, etc. If I immediately address it right then, he’ll stop. The best punishment for him is isolation. We stick him in his crib and call it “a break” and tell him we’ll check on him in a few minutes to see if he’s ready to come out. If he stands up and says sorry, he has admitted defeat and we’re good to go. He has to say sorry…not just a cease in crying is enough. Trust me, I’ve tried. I mean, I’ve TRIED! But he MUST admit defeat or this battle is not done. It’s like the white surrender flag that he waves to admit that he lost this round.
It’s exhausting. Dinner tonight I spent taking a bite, trying to have a conversation with my (at that moment) sweet girls, and then jumping up to offer him a choice between saying sorry and joining us or staying in his crib. He would just stare at me and scream louder! He was not distressed….he was pissed! I had to do this no less than 10 times. He finally said sorry, I told him what I always do…that I forgive him and I love him no matter what but that it’s not an excuse to act that way. Then he proceeded to lick the ketchup up and eat nothing else and then say “done.”. By that point I was too tired to care and let him down.

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My adorable little monster at dinner.

It’s in these moments I always truly doubt myself. I see all these articles my friends post that all basically say the same thing. They have lovely titles, like peaceful parenting, or enjoy motherhood, or loving your kids. They all recommend something along the lines of: ‘there’s no need for conflict! Let them express their frustration, offer them choices, redirect, get on their level, and as long as you talk it out respectfully to them they will respect you.’ I feel a failure because my house is so often riddled with conflict.

But then I remind myself. I taught for several years. I did those things. I know them well in fact. I use them with my daughters with great success. But they made things worse with my son. So, so, so, so much worse. This is the first big meltdown in two days (plenty of small ones, but those only required going in once or twice). It used to be seven epic meltdowns a day…minimum. He is getting better and I am calmer in dealing with him. It comes down to this: parenting is an art…not a science. There is no magic formula that will magically transform every child. For some, if they were to use the tactics I just mentioned they would have a very different response. Parenting is an art because the materials you have been given differ. Some kids are like soft clay (like Urpling) which require gentle molding…anything harsher will crush them beyond repair. Some are like my son…titanium…and must be melted at a million trillion degrees before they will bend even a little. So I just take a deep breath, dress for battle, and remind my son at the end of each day how much I love him no matter what. Because at the end of the day, I know he will grow up to be a strong leader so I just need to give him the foundation to be a good one.

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At the end of the day, how could I not love this little guy!

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Nostalgia

It’s a new year and already I’ve had a few fun moments. Like trying to explain our evening prayer and then glancing at Urpling who has a deep look of concentration…looks at me…and then says, “Look what I can do!” and proceeds to stick her entire fist in her mouth. Or going in to the girls’ room to fix their night light and having Sasquatch announce as she’s shielding her eyes from the sudden light, “The light in our room is brighter than the sun!”
I spent a good amount of time looking through old pictures. So as a walk through the previous year as we move on to a new one, here are my favorites:

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This picture makes me laugh every time I see it.

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I love the faces. It captures them so well…

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Cousins…

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Sasquatch is ready for some good ol’ fashioned paintball!

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Mom, look at what I can do! Ummm…very….nice sweetie…

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I’m ready for my close up…

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I think he liked it.

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Ummm….why is he all wet?

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At least it wasn’t the toilet…

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No year is complete without a tea party.

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I thought, “I don’t have any pictures of all three kids together!”. Then I remembered why…

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It’s always good to share.

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Oh good heavens, what is that?!

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Phew. A person.

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That post had it coming.

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Never let a two year old lock themselves in the bathroom. Thankfully this was the worst of the damage…that I’ve found…

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Sasquatch’s manger scene. I think Woody really nailed his role as Joseph…

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…and the baby angels were a nice touch.

Hope you enjoyed my trip down memory lane!


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