Tag Archives: life

Big Prayers for Big Kevin-The Homecoming

Big Prayers for Big Kevin-The Homecoming

Kevin bangin’ the gong!

Several times I have sat down to compose an update on Kevin’s cancer treatment and I have found myself overwhelmed by the task of wrangling words into some sort of logical sequence to sufficiently fill the space between the last post and where we are now. Each time, I found myself overwhelmed and unable to whittle down the sum of the experiences into a simplified version of a complex equation.  I would like to point out that this is yet another example of how my life-long search for a situation in which Algebra would be applicable and useful remains just an empty promise from my high school Algebra teacher.  There is no balancing the cancer equation.  There is no solving for X or Y and there are certainly no easy solutions and sometimes there are no solutions at all.

I decided to start simply and lookup the definition of cancer and this is what I found:

/can·cer/[ˈkansər] noun-the disease caused by an uncontrolled division of abnormal cells in a part of the body. 

Well, that sounded practically harmless. It certainly didn’t paint the picture of the shit show that has been our life for the last several months.  So I read on:


/can·cer/noun-a practice or phenomenon perceived to be evil or destructive and hard to contain or eradicate: synonyms: evil · blight · scourge · poison · canker · plague · pestilence

Now I was getting somewhere. This is more accurate.  Thank you, Oxford Dictionaries©, for recognizing cancer for the bastardly equal opportunity butt licking tribulation of chaos it is. The day that sometimes seemed to be moving further away instead of closer finally arrived. Kevin completed his 32nd and final radiation treatment on February 16th. I have chronicled some of the brutal side effects he has suffered over the last couple of months and it has been excruciating to witness so I cannot venture to imagine what it was actually like for him to experience it firsthand.  Each day of radiation took more and more out of and from Kevin.  Although he is unable to eat anything other than the Boost Plus shakes and water, he managed to avoid the feeding tube. I am not sure why the folks weighing him didn’t notice that he had 7 layers of clothing on and a jacket when it was 70 degrees; not to mention the $17.00 of change in his pockets, but I guess that is none of my business (insert eye roll here).  When the radiologist told us that the results of skull based radiation are traumatic, he wasn’t just whistling Dixie.  The physical toll has been extremely difficult to witness.  The weight loss, the vomiting, the pain in his head, mouth, throat and face, the skin changes, the loss of hair, the extreme fatigue, and the dead and burnt flesh and mucous he flushes from his nose several time a day—let’s just say, pussies need not apply.

The physical impact has been hard, but the emotional toll it has taken on him has been equally as brutal and nearly unbearable for me to stand. I think most people who know Kevin would agree with the fact that he is pretty laid back.  He doesn’t ruffle easy, nor does he get too excited about much.  Whereas I tend to get super excited about things such as when the Cheerios left in my bowl make the shape of a rabbit or I see a red fox cross the road or when every single sock in a load of laundry has a mate (a true miracle akin to the statue of the Virgin Mother crying tears of blood).  I worry about coyotes chasing me on my way back from the barn and lose sleep pondering my chances of being filleted by a serial killer and wondering what picture my family would use if I went missing.  If our brains were colors, his would probably be a calm constant shade of calming blue and mine would be a bag of Skittles.  I guess that is why the extreme anxiety and ill-ease he experienced had us both on the ropes.  Seriously, folks, there is only one crazy seat on this train and I am in it.

The babies welcoming their daddy home.

We were beyond relieved to return home. Stefon Klugg graciously shuttled my step-dad, Ron and baby sister, Emily, to Houston in his super cool plane and they drove our truck back, while Mr. Klug flew us to our homeland.  Not only did we avoid putting Kevin on a commercial flight (a.k.a. a flying incubator of germs), we were also welcomed at the airport by a host of family and friends.  There were hugs and tears and some more hugs and some more tears.  I had tried to warn those eager hosts that the man I took to Houston was not the same man I was bringing home, but some were not prepared.  Cancer and his caustic sidekick radiation had worked him over…but we were finally home. We were surrounded by people who love us, which is really what home is and it felt AMAZING.

Radiation Crew

As we try to acclimate back to some sort of normal (believe me I am using this term in the loosest sense) life, Kevin struggles every single day with the lingering effects of the radiation. He still is only able to tolerate Boost shakes, water, and we recently added bone broth to his menu.  Some days are better than others.  He is weak and tires easily, has intermittent pain and discomfort and continues with a lengthy regimen of sinus rinses, mouth swishes, fluoride treatments and skin creams.  He has dropped more weight and has only slept twice through the night since we have been home.  His taste buds are completely out of order and the few attempts he has made at tasting food resulted in the same conclusion:  “it tastes like ass”.  Although he has used this same phrase to describe some of my cooking in the past, this time it has nothing to do with my lack of culinary skills.  In spite of all the struggles, he is making progress and for that I am immensely grateful.

It has been a long road and I am perpetually exhausted, both physically and emotionally.  There has never been a season in my life where I have felt more completely helpless.  There were days when my attempts to find ways to ease his misery were nothing more than exercises in futility. As he continues to grow stronger and his health is restored, I hope that I am able to dial down my heightened state of constant readiness; my personal goal is to at least plateau at DEFCON 3 on or before April 1st.  In so many ways I feel like I have been holding my breath since this ordeal began and I am apprehensive to exhale.  I don’t want God to interpret my need to breathe as a sign of being complaisant.  I am not sure how to balance the joy of being on the downhill side with my need to stand vigil for any sign of trouble returning.  I really don’t think it is too much to ask to have left Houston with at least a ’30 Year Cancer Free Guarantee’.  So many things about this stupid disease do not add up-there are no simple solutions.  We may not be stepping into tomorrow with a bumper-to-bumper warranty, but we certainly aren’t empty handed and our hearts are so full because…

  • We have been shown immeasurable love by our family, friends, and community.

    The Elite Cancer Squad…our forever friends.

    My Sweet Ladybug-Meg.

  • We have made beautiful new friendships in the middle of ugly circumstances.
  • We have seen the selfless generosity of others meet our needs, often before we knew what the needs were.
  • We have witnessed the power of prayer daily.
  • We have learned that faith is an action verb and must be practiced daily (even if it is wobbly)
  • There are people in my life who love me enough to come into our home and tackle the task of sweeping, mopping, dusting, sorting, and restocking provisions in the aftermath of six weeks of being inhabited by savages (a.k.a. our children and the menagerie of our furry friends). That is BIG LOVE! My tribe is above awesome.


I appreciate you allowing me this venue to express my fears, frustrations and the plethora of other unpleasant emotions. Thank you for tolerating my posts about mucous, puke, sinus flushes, and burnt flesh.  Above all, thank for your unwavering love.  I want to leave you with a smile (maybe even a chuckle).  I have been given temporary custody of my grandcat, Fiona.  She is the sweetest most precious cat in all the land.  Her beautiful long fur wasn’t brushed daily in our absence and became matted.  I thought you might want to see the end result, when I had to shave my daughter’s pussy kitty.

Fiona- Before








Partly Sunny with a Chance of Cancer

Partly Sunny with a Chance of Cancer


The fact that I am 44 pisses me off. I might look 44, but I rarely feel it and even less than rarely act like it. It is only when I have to dig my readers out of my bag so I can read a menu or someone asks me my age and hearing myself verbalize the truth always sounds strange; that age belongs to someone else—someone old. Then I have to get real with my aging self. There are signs all around me that I am no spring chicken. I don’t dare jump on the trampoline without completely emptying my bladder first. I have to pluck more areas on my face than just my eyebrows and if that isn’t bad enough, I turn down the radio in the car when I want to talk. WHO AM I?

It may be part of my internal denial and my hopes to cling to the youth I once had, but often I don’t take time to ensure that my ‘old lady’ medical checks are done routinely and regularly. If my body was an automobile, it would not get the routine maintenance, fluid checks and changes, or the occasional diagnostic checks. Nope. I just kick the tires and turn up the radio to drown out any clanks or knocks.   This is exactly how I ended up way behind on my annual health checks (and when I say way behind, I mean several years, not months).

A couple of weeks ago I was rarely not traveling for work and folded under the intense pressure by my husband (who is also not as young as he used to be) to get my wellness exams caught up. I showed up to complete the well-woman’s circle of life maintenance check. They looked in my throat and under the hood and checked the pipes and that all went fabulous. I ended the fun-filled day with a mammogram relieved to finally have all of it completed. What I wasn’t expecting was the call I received shortly thereafter—We need you to come back in for an additional test. There was something suspicious on your mammogram. And just like that, things just got real.

I spent the next week out of town with work and tried to tamp down the word “suspicious” that kept slipping out of my subconscious and tap dancing all over my conscious. It is really hard to focus on work when you have an ambiguous word tap dancing in your brain. I arrived home and went for boob-smash ‘take two’, which led to yet a THIRD boob smash a couple days later. Boob smash number three was the equivalent to having someone fold my right titty into an Origami swan and then secure it firmly into a vice grip. The whole thing gave “titty twister” a completely new meaning, with the end result being that it wasn’t the end at all.

I was scheduled for a needle-guided surgical biopsy the next morning. The good news is that I was asleep for the “surgical biopsy” part. The bad news is I was wide-ass awake for the “needle guided” portion. Holy God, a little GHB or chloroform next time, please! I should mention this included mammogram number FOUR, and a big needle, and a Styrofoam cup taped over a wire hanging out of my boob? It was all kinds of glamorous. In addition, I had my husband, and Mom and Stepdad with me, which would have been appropriate if I was having a heart transplant, but holy cow it does feel good to be loved.

And then we waited. Waiting was difficult enough, but I was scheduled to fly out of town for work and so I had to wait 700 miles away from home. I do try and plan ahead for these situations. Unbeknownst to her, I had put on my initial paperwork that any and all health information could be shared with my sister, Kim. She called me early in the week to ask if I had heard from the doctor.

Kim:   Have you heard from the tests?

Me:        I am not calling.

Kim:       Yes you are. We have to know.

Me:       Yes, we have to know, but I am not calling. You are.

Kim:       What the hell? They won’t tell me anything.

Me:        I already signed a consent saying they could tell you anything.

Kim:       You are shitting me.

Me:        I shit you not. I can’t hear bad news from the doctor. If it is bad I need you to tell me.

Kim:       I hate you.

Me:        I know.

Kim:       I love you.

Me:        I know.


She called and we had to wait a few more days before the results were finalized. In the interim, I didn’t sleep much. I prayed a lot. God always knows when I am in trouble. I am so predictable. I also inventoried my life and the way I live it. My life is a continuous battle to keep what is important at the forefront. My little priority ducks are a bunch of bastards that I can never seem to keep in a row. I consistently fail at being present in the moment and I had to have a suspicious something show up on a mammogram to remind me that I don’t have an infinite amount of moments. I still have so many damn ducks to wrangle. At some point in my existence I want to present my wily-ass little ducks to the world in a complete and unified row.

Later in the week:

Kim:       Hey! How are things in Texas?

Me:        Mostly sunny with a slight chance of cancer.

Kim:       (sobbing)

Me:        The results are negative, aren’t they?

Kim:       (sobbing) Yes!! And now I can breathe again. (I knew if it had been bad news, she would never had let me hear her cry. She, too, is predictable).

Me:        Thank you!

Kim:       I hate you. Don’t ever do this to me again.

Me:        I love you.

Kim:       I know.

Cancer is a beast and I have seen mighty warriors fall to its ruthlessness. I will not pretend that I was not scared shitless. I am NOT a warrior. Hell, I can’t even keep my ducks in a row.   My days of kicking the tires and running on empty are behind me. I came away with a heck of a scare and a right boob that looks like it might belong to the Bride of Frankenstein. But those are two outcomes for which I have boundless immense gratitude. Life’s forecast can change without warning and I am blessed beyond belief with family and friends with whom I can find shelter, when there is even a mere threat of a storm. The truth is, I probably won’t ever get my shit completely together, but I will bet my right boobie that I won’t miss another mammogram!






The Security Breach at Breakfast

The Security Breach at Breakfast

There was a time not so long ago that the avoidance of national and world news by my sister, Kim, was viewed by me as bordering on irresponsible. I would ask her opinions on a crisis, mass murder, or natural disaster and she would respond with, “I have no idea what you are talking about and I don’t want to know. So, shut up.” Recently, I have started to envy her ability to close herself off from the world that seems to be unraveling. It seems to be open season on human beings killing one another has had me considering looking for real estate under one of the secluded rocks she likes to hide under. The world is a scary place.

One would think that with all the headlines screaming violence, I would be extra vigilant in protecting myself, my family, and my home from the volatile world. In many ways I am. I have educated myself on gun and personal safety and I have obtained my Conceal and Carry permit. I have purchased a firearm I am comfortable carrying, handling, and shooting. While traveling, I try to be aware of my surroundings and not put myself in vulnerable situations. But Sunday morning, when a homeless young man showed up on my porch asking for a drink of water, my heart overrode my brain and I invited him inside for breakfast.

He couldn’t have been more than 20 and he had a heavy pack and a long road ahead of him. It wasn’t just hot; it was MISSOURI sticky-sweaty-humid-as-hell hot. When I went outside and handed him a couple bottles of water he was very grateful and thankful for my offering and as I watched this kid turn back toward the highway, it never crossed my mind that this shaggy-haired tattooed kid with more than one piercing was a serial killer or an axe murder. All I saw was a kid who probably needed something in his belly and so I called after him, “Hey, are you hungry?”

After offering him a seat at the table, I made him a plate of biscuits and gravy, something to drink, salt and pepper, etc. His only request was a napkin which he placed in his lap. While he ate, I asked him where he was headed and if he had any family in the area. I didn’t want to pry. It was obvious this kid had a story, but it isn’t my story to tell. He ate. He said very little.

Things really got interesting when I went to the bedroom to give my husband, Kevin, a heads that I was feeding a wayward stranger breakfast. He was not overcome by the warm fuzzy feeling of helping out our fellow man. In fact, I believe the emotion I identified reflected in Kevin at that moment was: completely pissed off. We had a rare and heated exchange in whisper voices:

Kevin: What in the hell were you thinking?

Me: I don’t know. What was I supposed to do, let him starve?

Kevin: NOT invite him inside the house would be a reasonable thing to do.

Me: I had to invite him in so he could eat biscuits and gravy.

Kevin: You know better!!! I can’t believe you.

Me: ….


In all my arguments with Kevin I end up sounding like a toddler, especially when confined to whispers. It is hard to really sell a good point in ‘whisper voice’. Kevin went into full protector mode talking briefly with the young man and seeing him on his way, all the while keeping our .38 in his pocket. He made sure the kid made his way down the highway and proceeded with the following: Complete perimeter check, locked and secured all doors, reviewed the security modus operandi with the kids for locking cars and doors, emphasizing the point that someone had breached security protocol and so we were all going to have to be EXTRA vigilant for the next few weeks (followed by an accusing stare at me for my reckless behavior).

I went about my day justifying in my own mind what I failed to articulate to my husband. Later that afternoon, I asked if he was still angry at me for inviting a potential murderer, terrorist, puppy kicker inside for breakfast. He assured me he was not mad, but I had to promise not to do it again. I was compelled to try and justify my actions and I probably should have just made my promise and kept my mouth shut.

Me: Kevin, I traveled thousands of miles around the world to feed hungry children in Africa! Do you think I could just let a kid starve on my front porch?

Kevin: Of course not, you invite him in and feed him biscuits and gravy. We will see what a good idea it is when he comes back and kills us in our sleep and steals all our shit.

Me: …..heavy sigh.

Kevin is right the world is a scary place and I could have very well invited danger into our home. I appreciate his ability to protect us and keep us safe. I do hope that in some small fashion he finds a way to appreciate the innate flaw in me that allows my heart override my head in some situations. The truth is, I am so caught up in my own crazy life I neglect so many opportunities to make a difference in the lives of others. My focus has gotten so blurred that it has become easier to see only what I don’t have and I have become blind and complacent to the abundance of my blessings. I hear the news, read the headlines, and I become consumed by all the things that separate us. I needed a reminder of the one thing we have in common; at the end of the day, we are all just human beings.

heartPerhaps the good Lord sent that young man to my door to remind me that I need to look for opportunities to lift up others around me. Perhaps, it was God himself coming to the door as a scruffy homeless kid to see if I would give him a drink or turn him away. Truly If nothing else, I can rest easy knowing that had I been chopped up by the biscuit eating guest, I would probably go to heaven (the way I am quick to anger, cuss like a sailor, struggle with envy and pride and occasional slothfulness I need all the help I can get)….AND if it was God testing us, I fed him biscuits and gravy and Kevin covertly held a gun on him while he ate them (I am still winning). We make a great team– I can try and save the world and he can try to save me from the world…and myself…and coyotes….and spiders…and BigFoot… I think this text he sent me says it all:


FAKEBooking-Mastering the Art of Omission


My mom asked me three questions, when I was 16 years old, to which I answered honestly. Subsequently, this left her standing in the kitchen sobbing into a dishtowel.   Her response ultimately being, “Why can’t you just lie like other teenagers?” Okay…that went well. I should have used my filter. The greater part of my adult life has been trying to tame the wily beast that is my tongue. Sometimes I am able to remain silent, at least in the time it takes to reformulate more socially acceptable responses. Most of the time, this requires the firm use of my teeth on aforementioned tongue and walking away, but progress is progress. With all of my attempts to be authentic without the use of blunt force emotional assault, I sometimes still lose the battle. War is hell and my tongue hurts.


There is a place I still struggle to remain authentic and that place is on social medial. It is a fine balance between sharing too much (which I often do) and cutting loose without abandon with every shitty thing happening in my life. Teetering on the virtual tightrope between TMI and Debbie Downer all the while trying to avoid getting to sucked into the dark abyss of ‘my shit is perfect’; the struggle is real and my shit is far from perfect.


My newsfeed is alive and well with posts ranging from folks’ fun-filled summer vacations; good times spent with great friends, the proud moments of sports parents and last but not least, the selfies. I have posted numerous times in each of these categories. How authentic are my posts? How well does the life I portray on Facebook reflect the life I actually live?? Not even close. I am living a lie, virtually.


Classic examples of my Facebook Omissions:

sophi fist day

Fact: Sophi’s first day of her junior year.

Omission: She was totally Pi$$ed that I asked her to take this picture because she was running late. She was not very nice about it and I wasn’t very nice back.   It was an ugly exchange.


Fact: Hanging out with Patch, the new horse on the farm.

Omission: I was supposed to be on a run, but I stopped and played with Patch, because I am out of shape and I was dog-ass tired of running.



Fact: Sophi got out of the shower and played corn hole in her towel. Things like this really do happen in our home.

Omission: I can’t beat Sophi at corn hole and it makes me crazy. I can’t beat Kevin either. I can beat Riley, but she doesn’t count. She is horrible.


Fact: Kevin coaching his Magic girls in a rare moment of spirited coaching in response to the team not playing well at all.

Omission: Briley, the center, hurt her back early in the tournament and with her mom’s permission I gave her some muscle relaxers. Kevin hurt his back last week and took the same kind of muscle relaxers and was groggy and couldn’t stay awake for a couple of days. Yeah..maybe that is why Briley was having trouble getting up and down the court. Ooops!


I think there is a part of my life that I vehemently try to hide on Facebook.   If I had to put a label on it, think it would be vulnerability. What parts of my life can I reveal and not be judged by my Facebook community as a shitty mom or crazy wife or horrible person (I have been called all three).

There is nothing virtual about my reality.


I am blessed with good kids and they are basically happy and healthy, but they drive me bat-shit crazy sometimes. They fight. They can be hateful as junkyard dogs to me and each other. I push Sophi too hard, haven’t pushed Evan hard enough and Riley has basically co-parented herself, so there is that.


My house stays clean for exactly 2.3 seconds and then the chaos erupts. The cute little dog, Piper, whom is adored and treated like a baby, won’t pee in the grass if it is wet.   She sneaks into the kitchen and pees in the floor. I cover for her and tell Kevin she is sorry. She is not sorry.


Kevin really is the mild-mannered, cool-headed voice of reason in the family. He did say he wouldn’t love me if I lost both of my arms, because I wouldn’t be much good to him. I am pretty sure he was kidding though; sort of kidding.


I can’t take a selfie that is worth posting. If I try, it takes me 37 tries and by the time I get one that is halfway decent, the moment has passed. Actually, my selfie ship has passed. Perhaps, being a woman of a certain age, I don’t feel compelled to see my mug daily on a newsfeed. Honestly, I don’t want to. I require a lot of makeup, low-lighting, and numerous filters to pull it off. I have a scar on my chin, crow’s feet, and ain’t nobody want to be looking at all that (see the horse picture above…I am the one on the left). I am not that cool and I know it—affirmations through comments be damned.


I am flawed. I am not the matriarch of the Sunshine Family. Sometimes I am sad, scared, and stressed. My kids aren’t beauty queens, top athletes or anything extraordinary, but they are unequivocally loved. Our home is filled with more laughter than tears, but laundry is more abundant than either. There always seems to be more wants than money, more things that need to be done than there is time and more places to go than gas in the cars. We sing, we dance, we wrestle, and we laugh. I love to share the moments of my life, but the life I share is often a watered down version of the real thing. The watered down version is never as good as the real thing. Live your life—love your life—no filter.


The Epic Tirade Over Bleepin’ Wet Socks

The Epic Tirade Over Bleepin’ Wet Socks

Every once in a while, I completely flip my $hit. I have scaled down my grand meltdowns and while I have no specific data to back up my bold claim, I am confident the number of Richter scale measurable come-a-parts has been on the steady decline over the last several years. I am uncertain of the reasoning behind the lengthening of my fuse and the rounding out my sharp edges. Perhaps arriving in the fourth decade of my existence has brought about a shift in the hormonal tide.  It may be attributed to a heightened awareness of the struggles of those around me and a growing appreciation for mankind. Truth be told, it is most likely that I just don’t care enough to work myself up into an emotional lather… well that and I am slightly medicated.


The push to take ‘don’t sweat the small stuff’ to a new level hasn’t always been easy. Laundry thrown haphazardly next to the hamper on most days is met with a sigh and a quick deposit into the receptacle. Other days, I can just ignore it. There are those days, however, when I feel the adrenaline surge through my veins, and I have visions of lighting the whole damn pile on fire and walking away. I have found that visual imagery helps alleviate my stress and seems a viable imaginative alternative to a verbal assault on my family and/or acts of arson. I am learning to self-soothe, which I am counting as a sign of progress.


Nothing seems to validate all of my hard work, like witnessing a colossal screaming crazy rant of another. While staying at the historic (and haunted-another story) Congress Hotel in Chicago my husband, Kevin and I were audible witness to the tyrannical verbal hurricane of a neighboring guest. As we were leaving our room late one evening, we were halted in our tracks (okay we stopped and eavesdropped outside the door) of a man who was coming completely undone, specifically because his socks were wet.




Actually, Sir, the entire 14th floor heard you. That was some powerful rage over wet socks. I thought about tapping on the door and sharing my visual imagery techniques, but I figured he probably wasn’t to the receptive stage in his development and decided against it. Then my heart started to imagine the receiver of that powerful verbal pounding. Of course, I imagined a little lad of 8 or 9 standing there in his PJs with wet hair and big sorrowful eyes. I pushed that image out of my head, it was too much. I started leaning toward the battered and abused wife, but that wasn’t any better. I settled on the recipient being the madman’s adult unemployed sloth of a brother, who drank all his beer, sleeps on his couch, and is still favored by their mother. One thing I am sure of, he wasn’t berating himself for not wiping up the water in his bathroom floor.


I haven’t thrown too many sticks or stones around, but I have tossed some pretty harsh words at the people I love most in the world and I am pretty sure some of them left a mark and probably even a scar or two. The scars on the hearts of the people I love are permanent. I cannot erase them with a million apologies or cover them with platitudes. My only hope is that my moments of tenderness, my smiles and laughter, and unconditional love can patch the holes I may have made. Love can’t float with holes in it, but a good sturdy patch may be just the thing to keep it from going all the way under.   I can’t guarantee things will always be smooth sailing. I am 100% human and a continued work in progress.


If you ever find yourself standing in the bathroom with bleepin’ wet socks, remember somewhere I am standing in my own bathroom sitting fire to a pile of laundry in my mind. Life is too short. Be kind. Be real. Be careful what you scream in a hotel room…

A Mother’s Day Wish List-Revised Edition

A Mother’s Day Wish List-Revised Edition

As Mother’s Day approaches, I have been making a gift guide for my sweet children to utilize, in the event they want to borrow money from their father and purchase me a little sumthin’-sumthin’.   The following is the first edition of my Mother’s Day Wish List:

  1. Fitbit Fitness Band (in black)finch
  2. Converse Monochrome shoes-Size 8.5night vision googles
  3. Atticus Finch T-Shirt and the Preorder purchase of Harper Lee’s Novel Go Set a Watchman, to be released in July (the T-shirt will keep me happy until the book release).
  4. Yukon Night Vision Tracking Binoculars
  5. Conceal and Carry Compression Tank (in black)
  6. A very tiny monkey.

After reflecting on the likelihood of my Mother’s Day wish list ever coming to fruition, I decided to make some revisions. As I attempted to whittle the list down and refine the focus to practical customary wishes, it was apparent the list, while authentic, was not representative of the true spirit of Mother’s Day. I dug a little deeper and explored what my true wishes were for Mother’s Day. The following is the compilation of my revisions:

  1. For my oldest daughter, Riley, I hold these wishes for you. I wish you could embrace the amazing young woman you are and hold tight to the beauty of your soul. Each morning, when you wake and you look at your reflection in your mirror, I wish you no longer sought out your perceived imperfections, but instead focus on the gifts God has given you. My hope is that with each passing day, you will learn to love yourself. The many ways you guard you heart serves you well, when done so for the right reasons. Hearts are made to be broken and human beings rarely escape a life without some degree of heartbreak. A heart that has been broken beats on, but a life without love is just a beating heart. May you always know how much of love being your mom.                            Addendum: I wish you would someday in the future reconsider your decision to opt out of motherhood. I cannot be a Nana to a batch of rescued cats.
  2. For my son, Evan, these wishes are for you. Looking back on the long journey that has brought you to this moment, I wish you to know how very proud I am of you. I know that the things that are so easy for others were not so easy for you. I want you to know that the mistakes I made along the way were my attempts at helping you the only way I knew how. There were many people who might have given up on you, but that was never an option for me. It is my hope for you that you will remember to give more than you take, lift others up, treasure the little things, and don’t be afraid of failing. There is something great inside of you, Evan and I pray each day you have the courage to discover what it is, the resilience to carry on when you fail, and the graciousness to appreciate those who help you along the way. Don’t let a day go by without fully knowing how blessed I am that God chose you for my son. Addendum: I wish you would please stop teasing my sweet old Cooper. He is over 70 years old in people years!! Please be kind to my crabby geriatric furry friend.
  3. To my baby girl, Sophi, I wish these things for you. There will never be more minutes in an hour, more hours in day, more days in a week or more weeks in a year. I know of no other who crams more living in a space of time than you. It is my wish that you are able to make the most of each moment and give yourself some space to breathe. The only thing that ever gets in your way, Sophi, is you. It makes me proud that you are motivated to set the bar high, but don’t forget that you don’t have to be perfect. All that you have to do doesn’t have to be done today. It is my wish for you to find balance and understand that if you always stay true to God, yourself, and the people who love you, the life you make will be successful. You are forever and always my bonus baby.                                     Addendum: I wish you would PLEASE put the lids back on your makeup and quit leaving it all scattered on the bathroom counter!! And for the love of all that is holy, you only need ONE towel for a shower

kidsThe truth is the greatest gift is one I have already been given. It cannot be purchased at the store or ordered online. I have been blessed with the privilege of being a mother, and this is simply all I could ever want (except for a very tiny monkey, that would be freaking AWESOME)…and maybe the night vision goggles. Seriously, this nest is going to be empty someday. I really should start planning ahead.

Living the Simple Life Status Update…It’s Complicated

Living the Simple Life Status Update…It’s Complicated


Whoever said living in the country is the ‘simple life’, obviously never lived in the country. Country living takes grit, resilience, and emotional fortitude. It has been just over two years since I said farewell to the city limits and embraced my tougher rural side. The transition has been filled with a multitude of learning opportunities for me and I am woman enough to disclose that I sometimes lack grit, resilience, and emotional fortitude. Sometimes, I am just an idiot.

My first faux pas was made with good intentions. Spirit is the resident matriarch horse on the farm. She is a beautiful Morgan Paint, which loosely translated for town folks means she is BIG and looks like Tonto’s horse from the Lone Ranger. Each morning before leaving for work, I would take Spirit an apple or handful of carrots. Her forelock (loosely translated—horse bangs) was always hanging in her eyes. My attempts to use my hairclips to pin it up out of her eyes didn’t go well. She lost every single one of my hairclips. I decided to give her a trim. Spirit ended up looking more like Jim Carrey in Dumb and Dumber than a beautiful horse. As it turns out, the forelock is important for keeping flies and other debris from irritating the horse’s eyes. Who knew horse bangs were more than a fashion statement??dumb

In addition to the acceptable grooming practices of horses, I have had my eyes open to other farm animal maintenance. If a baby calf gets stuck in her mama cow’s vagina, it is customary to hook chains to the calf and help pull it out. The boy cows don’t have it easy either. If you are unfortunate enough to be born a boy cow and you aren’t given immunity status to continue growing into a bull, a routine circumcision would be a welcome trade for what is in store. The little boy baby cows are rounded up and their little baby cow balls are cut off and tossed into a bucket. Chains in a vagina and a bucket of cow balls…all in a day’s work.

As luck would have it, I am not involved in the day-to-day operations of the farm. It is probably a good thing, because I am a little too emotionally high-strung to be of much use. One of the baby donkeys got stuck in the mud near the pond and drowned. All the Animal Planet viewing in the world did not prepare me for this travesty! While tuning into Animal Planet, I fully expect crocodiles to leap out of the water and snatch up little water buffalo, but this isn’t the Serengeti! We are smack in the middle of America’s heartland. Mother Nature’s bitch-slap is far reaching.

donkeyI don’t cut off baby cow balls or get near the vagina of a cow birthing her young, but I do have animal responsibilities on the farm. I am the caretaker of the barn-cats. Barn-cats are an integral part of country living and I do my part to make sure they are fed, warm, loved and cuddled. According to barn cat protocol, barn-cats are not to be named, as there is a high turnover among the resident barn-cats and thus, I have been advised not to get attached. I seldom follow sound advice (heavy sigh).

LuLubelle was one of the initial barn-cat residents and the beginning of my cat wrangling adventures. LuLubelle was born with a hole in her diaphragm, which resulted in her not being a candidate for spaying. Contrary to popular belief, her breathing difficulties did not eliminate her from lifting her tail for the first Tom Cat who came along. LuLubelle’s transgressions led to a small but robust barn-kitty boom. I had my hands full trying to keep up with finding homes for adoptable kittens, foster mothers for the shitty-kitty moms’ kittens, and keeping up with sterilization for the youngsters coming of age.

LuLubelle tired of the mother (and now grandmother) grind and headed off to take up residence in the solitude of a quiet, not so crowded, barn (this is what I tell myself anyway, because recognizing the fact that she may have been a late night snack for a coyote is just too horrible). Finally, all the kittens had homes, LuLubelle had moved to her retirement home, and our barn was home to one small kitten named, Yellow Cat. My work schedule had been rather hectic and I knew I had several months before Yellow Cat would be mature enough to have kittens, but evidentially some kitties mature faster than others…and now we were suddenly back up to six barn cats.

**WARNING: This is the point in the story, where things take a tragic turn and cat lovers and the squeamish should probably bail out now.**

I found yellow cat with her new brood in the hay manger in the barn. It was early morning and I was headed to work. The light in the barn was dim and she wasn’t really keen on me poking around. I could still see that several of the kittens weren’t cleaned well and I was worried that she was going to be a shitty-kitty mom. I gave her some words of encouragement and headed off to work. Returning that evening, I went out in the barn to check on her. I brought a flashlight so I could get a better look at how the situation was progressing and I was totally unprepared for what I was about to encounter. There were three kittens nursing and two seemingly piled beneath them. I started moving them around to get a better look and I saw what looked to be a placenta, which Yellow Cat should have gobbled down long before this point. Confused by the mangled ball of kittens, I reached in and picked one of the kittens up, and instead I hoisted up four tangled kittens. They were all still attached to one placenta and completely entangled in a web of umbilical cords.

The act of me picking up the intertwined kitten-placenta ball caused one kitten’s umbilical cord to pull off and I couldn’t control the bleeding. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to save that little guy, so I reluctantly turned my attention to the other three still mangled together. With hands shaking, I was able to tie off and cut the cord, freeing one kitten from the mass. The remaining two were in a pitiful predicament. It was obvious that the kittens had been tangled long before they were born. Their little legs had been cinched together with an umbilical cord so tightly and for so long, their little tiny paws hadn’t formed. There was just rotting dead tissue where little paws should have been.

One of the kittens was visibly smaller and looked as if it was already succumbing to the infection that was no doubt raging. I had to get them apart. I went plundering for medical supplies. Running back to the barn, I had discovered that the weaker kitten had died, but was still hopelessly tethered to its sibling. Using every ounce of courage I could muster, I carefully snipped the rotten leg off of the dead kitten. I surveyed the situation; I had one living kitten, which was not a part of the original tangled mess. I had one living kitten that I had been able to successfully free, two kittens that had not survived, and one kitten with a rotten leg, still attached to both the placenta and the severed rotten leg of its sibling. Kitten farming is REALLY hard.

kittySadly, even after a successful amputation and antibiotic therapy, little “Stumpy” kitten wasn’t strong enough to make it. I buried him in a sunglasses case under the tree near the barn, where yellow cat likes to sun herself in the afternoons. Sweetie and Dot are the surviving twin brothers of the ordeal and have grown into a handsome loving duo. Sweetie, Dot, and Yellow Cat have decided to leave barn-living behind. Mama and her two sons have moved into the garage, where my husband has built them a two story insulated and heated condominium. They often join us in the house and stretch out the furniture or curl up in a lap, before retiring to their kitty-condo.

It has been hard for me to convey the situation I encountered in the barn that day, even to my family. When I arrived at the house bloodied, panicked and carrying Stumpy still attached to the severed leg and nasty placenta, my family questioned my sanity (this is not the first time my sanity has come into question). Several days later, my daughter’s friend commented that her throat was hurting and my daughter replied, “Don’t tell my mom, she might cut off your head.”cattwins

I read somewhere that tough old farmers don’t cry, but I know better. This country way of living is still pretty new to me, but I have seen enough to know that tough old farmer also have the biggest hearts. I am not sure if having a big heart is a prerequisite for the job or rather something they acquire along the way. I assume if it is okay to sometimes cry in the barn, perhaps I have some farmer potential. It is probably better to look at my potential as a farmer more objectively and as my dad would tell me, “You aren’t tough enough to make a scab on farmer’s ass” and I am pretty certain he is absolutely, 100% correct.