31 May 2012

What do you do?

What do you do? When life throws curve balls at you faster than you can swing. When everything you take for granted is suddenly no longer guaranteed. When you can no longer trust something as basic as your own body.

What do you do? When your Princess cries because you fall into a heap at her feet as you lose consciousness with no warning. When she asks Mommy to come sit in Daddy's chair because Daddy can't get out of bed and she wants someone to watch her play so she can pretend everything is normal. When you have to say no when she wants to go swimming because its not safe for Daddy to be near the pool.

What do you do? When you're no longer allowed to carry your Little Man because you might fall and hurt him. When he looks up at you in confusion because he wants Daddy to pick him up for a hug, but Daddy's arms won't work.

What do you do? When your Sweetheart is so afraid of hurting you that she won't kiss you. When she has a constant migraine from the stress of dealing with so much more than she should ever have to even imagine. When she needs reassurance and you can't even speak coherently enough for her to understand.

What do you do? When your world is turned upside down. When you realize that you are oh so very mortal. When you aren't even 40 and you have to face the reality of advanced directives. When you realize that there are so many gaps in your recent memories that you find yourself asking your Sweetheart if, just maybe, you're actually crazy. When she tells you how many "episodes" you've had and you find yourself wishing it WAS something as simple as you being crazy.

What do you do? When your job is to protect and provide for your family and you can't even walk straight. When you're supposed to be the pillar of strength they can lean on and your wife has to help you into bed.

What do you do when you're scared out of your ever lovin' mind and you don't know what to do?

27 May 2012

Questionable Photo

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I found this photo I took while in the hospital last weekend. There are alot of stereotypes in our world, and most are completely false. Umm, the stereotype about how bad hospital food can be, however, is completely accurate. Possibly even understated. I never found out what this stuff was, but I got sick just looking at it!

26 May 2012

Question of the Day #6

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Is there some kind of rule that says the sicker you get, the more annoying other people get?

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25 May 2012

Thought for the Day #4

Ya know, it really does take all kinds to keep the world turning. I'm not sure exactly who ordered the plain chicken sandwich with cheese and MUSTARD that I just received from Wendy's in error, but they're more man than I. I tried hard to be a trooper and eat it, but my taste buds rebelled, and forced me to complain instead. Shoot, even Princess said "Yuck!" and I'm pretty sure she doesn't even have taste buds.

24 May 2012

Smiles

Sometimes, parenting is so fun! Princess got some weird little hair extension thing in a Happy Meal tonight. She put it in her hair and asked if this blue thing made her more beautiful. Oh my! So I thought for a minute, while she explained to me how girls put pretty blue things in their hair to be more beautiful. I got down on my knees, held her face in my hands and explained to her that she was a perfect mixture of everything good in Mommy and Daddy. I explained how she had my eyes and Mommy's nose (Thank God!) and how she was so pretty. I told her the ONLY thing that ever made her more beautiful than she already is is her wonderful smile. I told her when she smiles, the world spins faster and angels sing. Which resulted in her flashing me a smile that lit up the night and made tears come to my eyes. She took the goofy thing out of her hair and said it would make a good trophy in her pony races. Then she hugged me and said,"Daddy, the only thing that makes you more beautifuler is when we cuddle on the couch." I know my place! I've never been more happy to sit and watch Mike the Knight than I was tonight as Princess snuggled up and wrapped her arms around me. Wow! It is so great to be a Daddy!!

22 May 2012

My Granny Was a Prepper (or Keppra Ramblings)

My in-laws being here over the weekend to help out while I was in the hospital was great! Mom is SO enthusiastic about life, and her attitude is infectious. No matter how bad you feel, or how freaked out you are (like after discovering you have a seizure disorder), just being around her makes you feel happy and hyper. Which is how I ended up cooking breakfast with Dad while my wife looked on shaking her head and telling me I should lie down. I enjoyed myself though. I baked a coffee cake and scrambled some eggs, while he fried up some bacon. That man was grinning like a fool! I love Mom so dearly. She's such a wonderful, caring person, and a great lady. But she keeps Dad on a healthy diet that I have expressly forbidden Sweetheart from ever so much as mentioning to me. Now don't get me wrong, I let her pare down my portion size and pretty much change my whole way of eating, and I've benefited from it in many ways. But I have made sure she understands that at no point in the future may she ever, EVER, try to feed me turkey bacon or fake sausage. I eat pigs. I love pigs. I'm pretty sure God created pigs just because he knew, in his Holy omniscience, that I would require pigs to make my life complete. Yes, God created pigs so I could enjoy the deliciousness of bacon. And that is the truth.

As he was frying up the bacon, surreptitiously licking bacon grease off his fingers while looking over his shoulders to make sure he didn't get caught, he asked me what to do with the grease. Even in my drug-induced haze (or perhaps because of it) I immediately flashed back to my childhood. In that murky, far distant era, I can remember watching the dinosaurs roam in the yard munching on the ferns as I tried to pour used bacon grease down the sink. That's when Granny smacked me in the back of the head. I'm pretty sure she used a tree trunk, but it might have been a wooden spoon...just a really big wooden spoon. As she, um, used creative terms of endearment (yeah, that's right, it's my memory, so I'll remember it however I want to...besides, most of what she called me was in an archaic Texas-German dialect and no one else would understand) she informed me that bacon grease was only to be thrown out when God told her to do so, or when it was so solid with trash, um, I mean taste (her word) that it could no longer be poured into the can.

I have no idea how I survived childhood. But my weight issues make so much more sense now.

Anyway...

I told him to turn on the disposal, turn the water on as hot as he could get it and pour the stuff down the sink. At that moment, I was hit with a splitting headache. Sweetheart says it's a side of the anti-seizure meds, but I'm pretty sure Granny reached down from Heaven and smacked me with that freakin' tree trunk.

I say all this to say, my Granny was a prepper. Before the term was invented. She was a prepper when prepping was called daily life.

When I was young, my favorite place in the world was my Granny's house. It was a wonderland. I wore down the grass in her front yard playing with my cars. I would sit and watch cartoons with my PaPa, laying on the floor while he sat in his chair at the head of the table. I would explore for hours in the storage rooms, the sheds, the smoke house and the well house. There were treasures everywhere! I couldn't identify much of it back then, but oh how I wish I could step back in time now and snag some of the stuff I saw. There were meat grinders and sausage stuffers and grain mills and corn shuckers and shelf upon shelf of home canned fruits, vegetables, stews, jams and jellies. Oh the jellies! How I miss the jellies. Mama made the most incredible plum jelly and Granny made the best elderberry jelly ever to see the outside of Heaven. I didn't even know you could buy jelly until after they had both passed on.

Granny saved everything. Mama did too, but not so religiously. I remember Granny catching me playing with some aluminum foil one day. She cried. Actually cried. Watching me be so wasteful took her back in time to the hardships of the '30s and '40s. That's when I first started learning how hard life can actually be. And how taking a few common sense steps can prevent said hardship. Granny taught me about survival and prepping without me even knowing it. Unfortunately, I was too goofy and young to understand most of it at the time. And I sure don't remember the recipes and techniques she tried to teach me. But every now and then, as I work the dough for the four loves of bread I make every week, I remember her standing in the kitchen, kneading her bread and throwing pearls of wisdom at me in the hopes I would catch a few.

For Sweetheart's sake, I'll let her know now, Granny is the one who drives you nuts sometimes, not me. She is the one who taught me the things I stick to until you grudgingly give in and admit I'm right. For instance, Granny is the reason I have a kitchen gadget obsession. Not that Granny had too many gadgets. Or even alot of them, actually. No, what Granny taught me is that the right tool make the job easy. Simple. I've driven my poor wife crazy with that mantra over the years, but it's true and that's all there is to it. Unfortunately, my memory is really lousy! So I don't know what tools Granny used until I find them by sheer process of elimination. Which, of course, means that I buy something I have researched and think will work, and if it doesn't, I buy something else. Sometimes I get lucky on the first try. Sometimes, I buy fifteen tools before I find one that works. Goodwill loves me. But I always find the one that works eventually.

And Granny is the one who taught me to never throw anything away. Well, PaPa helped with that one. He was a garbage collector, and a borderline hoarder. Oh how I miss that man! PaPa chewed tobacco. And being a good prepper, he never knew when he might need a chew. So when he took a ball of tobacco out of his cheek, he just sat it aside and saved it. God Bless Him! We were finding balls of tobacco ten years after he passed on. Sweetheart, remember that when you get on to me for not throwing things away. Remember, I could be worse, so count yourself Blessed and give me a little leeway. At least as long as nothing I keep gets too cluttered...or starts growing.

Granny taught me so much. And I forgot most of it. So now, Princess and Little Man and I spend our time happily experimenting in order to rediscover my lost knowledge. Princess proudly told her Grandma how she helps Daddy make biscuits in the morning and how she always helps Daddy when he bakes. She's my taste tester. I don't know if she thinks I'm trying to poison the family, or what, but nothing can be served to the others until she approves of it first. Luckily, she likes pretty much everything I make. She even liked the hardtack I made out of curiosity!

Yep! Granny is the mark I strive to reach. She's the reason I keep my pantry well stocked. She's the reason I have organized my kitchen with the goal of sheer utility and efficiency and not good looks. She's the reason Sweetheart sometimes looks at me and rolls her eyes. I mean, come on! What's wrong with sneaking in a soundproofed chicken house? As long as it's soundproofed, the HOA won't have any complaints. And who hasn't eaten goat bar-b-cue. Ah well, that's what I get for marrying a yankee. But I love her, and to her credit, she goes along with most of my ideas (hey, it's my story, I'll tell it the way I want to!) and keeps me from going too crazy in my quest for self-sufficiency.

Ah, who knows. She might have been right about the cow being a bad idea anyway. After all, even though cows produce such a beautiful ambiance, my crazy neighbors probably would have complained.

21 May 2012

ER Amazement

So there I was, sitting in the ER waiting for my room. I had been there for many, many hours, and was thus paying close attention to everything I could hear beyond my curtain. Hey, even when you've just learned (the hard way) that you now have a seizure disorder, you can still get bored and need entertainment. So I was trying to figure out from listening alone, what was going on outside my little curtained world.

That's how I noticed the moaning coming from the next bay over. I said a prayer for the person in pain, and then started listening. Turns out the elderly gentleman in the next bay was having his bladder lavaged. I had never heard of that procedure, but the doctor was explaining everything she was doing for the benefit of a medical student accompanying her. Let's just say I hurt remembering it, and the poor patient probably is still sore. Sore, but relieved. Just under 1500 ccs of fluid was drained from this poor fellow's bladder. Now, according to my layman's research, that's roughly 3 times more than a normal bladder can hold before you feel a drastic urge to pee. Wow!

Excuse me while I run to the bathroom real quick.

Okay, I'm back. Whew!

So his extraordinarily distended bladder was now emptied. Just as the doctor said "Yep, hes feeling better now", the man was doubly blessed. He earned his spot of ER fame and will be remembered through the ages by stunned bystanders and their descendants. You see, an extremely distended bladder can apparently, um, block passage through the rectum.

Imagination working on you yet?

You might have guessed correctly. he did indeed have an explosive, um, movement. That however, is not his new claim to fame.

After his "blockage" cleared, this blessed gentleman amazed everyone present by passing gas for a solid 90 seconds. I know this because I heard the doctor's shocked exclamation of the time. I think I passed out after that.

There may have been longer farts in history, but I've never heard of one. This man actually wept from release as nurses, doctors and EMTs gathered outside the room to stand spellbound, wondering when it would end.

And the proud, and much relieved, farter...the release from pain was so sudden and complete, he passed out with a smile on his face.

20 May 2012

Thanks!

My family is such a blessing! We were on our way to my in-laws house when I ended up in the hospital after having what my wife has since termed a seizure storm. My poor wife was suddenly stuck with me in the ER, the car loaded for a 6 hour trip, two VERY disappointed babies and no way to deal with everything.

Within hours, my in-laws were on their way to our house, where they not only took the kids off Sweetheart's hands, they also cleaned the house and replaced all the CFL bulbs with incandescent bulbs in the hope it will help minimize my seizures. Keeping the kids allowed Sweetheart to stay with me and deal with the doctors and nurses while I was drugged half out of my ever-lovin' mind. Which was great since I was having a little problem with consciousness.

On the other side, my brother called frequently to check on us until he could manage to get here, and my sister-in-law dredged through our past to find every possible diagnostic tidbit to help the doctors decipher what was happening to me. My sister advised me on how to deal with the hospital staff, which was rather nightmarish, to put it simply. And my cousin, who also has seizures, reached out with info on the condition and treatments. My other brother, nephew, and many, many other family members and friends reached out with prayers and babysitting and offers of help.

It is so humbling to be so loved by so many people. I and my family can never adequately thank everyone who came through for us this weekend. It has been an unsettling and scary time, but our friends and family helped us through. What a blessing!

19 May 2012

My Most Redneck Brother Just Said...#1

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"Ya know, cold beer and electricity just don't mix."
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15 May 2012

Anyone Know How To Varnish A Dog?

Yep, I'm tired of that Furball being filthy. He rolls in God only knows what and then comes in here jumping on my lap wanting me to scratch his ears. I figure if I give him a good dip in varnish, then all I'll have to do is wipe him off with a wet rag, and voila! Allergen and germ-proof dog. Maybe shine him up with a little Rain-X so the water beads nicely.

Ok. Before anyone crashes my blog, or sics PETA on me, here's the disclaimer. I don't intend to varnish my dog. I love the little goofy Furball. But I will admit to wishing there was an easy way to keep the chubby little critter clean.

Now I'll tell you how the idea crossed my mind.

Friday, we had planned on leaving bright and early for Grandma's house. But...Sweetheart stuck me in with a cardiologist instead. Seems my lapses in consciousness have become more troublesome. So we had to postpone the trip.

To make up for it, Saturday, I took the family to the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History. Great place! They loved it. Especially the Grossology exhibit. And there's so much for little ones to interact with. From the air park, to the water courtyard, to digging for dinosaur bones. They had a blast!

And then...

Princess started projectile vomiting right before bedtime. All over the kitchen. I'd go into more detail, but I suddenly got queasy remembering it. Let's just say there were many baths in TrekkerDad's home that night.

And then...

Sunday morning, I woke up with the same stomach bug. We missed church, and of course, I was unable to carry out any of my plans for Mother's Day. Needless to say, Sweetheart was disappointed. But she tried valiantly to keep her chin up.

And then...

Her chin dropped. The poor woman had spent two days cleaning up after sick family members when she was supposed to be enjoying her special day. And she had missed seeing her Mom for the second time in a month.

And then...

She began remembering all the events and holidays which had been interrupted by an illness or an accident. There really haven't been as many episodes as she feels there have, but by Sunday night, in her mind, we have never been able to leave our home because someone or other in the family has been sick. Pretty much since time began.

Normally, I would have been pretty upset by this kind of dramatic exaggeration, but after the weekend she had, I didn't blame her a bit. In fact, truth be told, she wasn't exaggerating as badly as I would have liked. There have been alot of illnesses, and alot of accidents. I just figure that's life. It gets messy. Kids have allergies and ear infections. People develop cancer. Accidents happen. Okay, the dog pinching a nerve in his tail and not being able to move his hind quarters IS a bit odd. Spending almost $3000 to get the Furball back on his feet and living his normally comfy life again should convince the PETA folks that this title really was a joke.

But I'm chasing rabbits here. Point was, by Sunday night, Sweetheart was, umm, let's say cranky. Yeah, cranky. The kind of cranky only a woman who spent two days dealing with vomiting family members can be. So as we lay in bed, with me still gasping through random stomach cramps and her being cranky, I made her a promise. First, I reminded her that Mother's Day actually had not come yet. It's next Saturday. I don't know how she got screwed up on the dates, but she did, so I corrected her. Then I promised that, no matter what happened, I would have her at Grandma's house to celebrate Mother's Day next weekend. We can stay as long as she likes, and do anything she wants.

I promised that nothing would stand in the way of this trip, and that I would do everything I could to make sure no event in the future gets disrupted. I'd bathe the kids in alcohol as the come home from school. I'd bring in tanker trucks of alcohol and pump it in through the chimney until is came filled the house and overflowed, killing any germs hiding in there. I'd set up a decontamination station at the front door to clear any packages or guests coming before they come in. I'd buy biosuits for everyone to wear when we go out to protect us from the bugs we keep picking up. And I'd varnish the Furball so he couldn't bring in any more germs!

That's as far as I managed to get before the desired effect was achieved. She went to sleep laughing and happy. Which was good, because if I'd had to come up with any more germ prevention techniques, she might have stopped laughing and called the men in the white coats to come take me away.

But, the promise was for real. And it's public now, so everyone knows. My Sweetheart will be enjoying a weekend with her parents no matter what.

(Anyone know how to get ahold of tanker trucks of alcohol?)

14 May 2012

My Quest for Immortality

Yep! I want to live forever.

Well, at least in the memory of my children and future grandchildren. One of my earliest, and favorite, memories is of getting a hug from my PaPa. I can still feel the stubble of his 5 o'clock shadow, and I can still smell him. He smelled like a blend of aftershave and tobacco. That was the smell of solidity; of joy; of fishing trips; of watching cartoons on a lazy summer morning; of  manliness. It's been about 30 years since he passed on, and I can still smell him and remember the best days of my childhood.

When Sweetheart was pregnant with my Princess, I realized that I wanted a personal memory trigger for my progeny. But everything I used was unscented, and I don't wear cologne. So I began a search for immortality.

Sweetheart has been tickled half to death. She thinks I'm crazy. But she just doesn't understand. It's a man thing.

I didn't realize the search would last three years. I didn't realize I would have to make fundamental changes in my life. But, unlike poor Jaun Ponce de Leon, I succeeded. I am immortal!

And it's mostly thanks to the folks over at The Art of Manliness. I love that blog. Allow me to explain.

You see, I have a very sensitive face. Extraordinarily handsome, of course (Sweetheart thinks so!), but sensitive nonetheless. I was a trucker until Princess was almost 1, and I didn't have to worry about shaving every day. When I came in off the road and began to work at home, and then transitioned to SAHD, I started shaving every day (well, now, not quite every day), and my face was torn up. I was always in pain, no matter what I tried. So, being a researcher, I started researching. And soon stumbled across AoM. They did a post on shaving like your grandpa, and that got me started. I stopped looking for new-fangled stuff that promised a smooth, irritation-free shave with four or five blades. I started looking for the old stuff. The stuff PaPa would have used. And after a little trial and error, I found a great, pain-free shave. And achieved immortality in the mix!

I threw away the cartridge razors and bought a Merkur HD 34C safety razor, some Taylor of Old Bond Street Almond Shaving Cream in a Bowl, a good shaving brush, and, most importantly, Clubman Pinaud After Shave Lotion. The Clubman is the key. That's the scent my little Princess says smells so good when she runs over to give me a hug. And, also important, that's the scent my Sweetheart nuzzles my neck to enjoy. That's also the scent that got me in trouble when I came out of the local Eyemasters grinning because four women were taking some serious interest in my smell while I picked up my new glasses. It got me in trouble because Sweetheart was waiting in the car. Six years and I had no idea she could be so jealous! Talk about an ego booster!


Now, Sweetheart enjoys sitting in the bathroom so she can watch me shave. Says it's sexy! Who would have thought. The old fellers had it right! We tried to improve on something that didn't need improving and just managed to screw it up. And thanks to PaPa, I've become as immortal as he is.

01 May 2012

Question of the Day #5

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Why is it that my little Princess is the one who poured a brand new extra large bottle of shampoo down the drain, my Sweetheart is the one who got so upset she refused to finish her bedtime routine and I'M the one who feels guilty because I got called to finish a routine I can't do and my Princess is screaming and crying?

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