Birthday Reflections…..

I began this blog on October 3rd, but life took over and I wasn’t able to finish and upload this till today…….

Yesterday I turned 38.

A feat that humbles me and makes me reflective. I think up until a few years ago my birthdays passed without much contemplation and I took them for granted.

Not this year.

Yesterday I turned 38.

This actually hit me about a week ago. And it almost made me breathless. It’s just a surreal experience, outliving someone older than you.

But that’s just what I’ve done as of this morning.

My mentor and friend Heidi died from cancer in 2012. She died on her 38th birthday.

Yesterday I turned 38.

I’ve always been aware of death since I was a little kid. The moment I found out people die, I remember being completely devastated.

In fact, when I turned 10 years old I distinctly recall thinking, “Well, people usually die when they are two digits old. It’s just a matter of time.” (And I’m just realizing how darkly philosophical of a kid I was. Yikes!)

But I digress.

My friend and mentor Heidi was an amazing soul. A missionary kid, she was born in California but moved to Jerusalem at age 3. Then her family moved to Thailand when she was 15 and she graduated high school there. She married her college sweetheart a few years later, and they went on to teach English in Japan for a few years before settling down in Goshen, Indiana and expanding their family to include 3 boys and a girl.

Their daughter Willa was born with trisomy 18 and died 8 minutes after she was born.

If I could think of two words to describe Heidi, it would be fearless and determined. When she was 4 months pregnant with Willa, the last time I’d see Heidi, we met for coffee one afternoon when I was home for Christmas. It must have been a warmer day because she arrived on her bike, even though piles of snow were still visible at the end of sidewalks and edge of the streets.  When I asked her how she was feeling she told me she was feeling good. Even knowing Willa’s diagnosis and that she’d likely not survive, Heidi was happy. She told me that she was OK because she knew as long as Willa stayed inside her womb, she’d have what she needed to live.

And I can credit Heidi for where I am today. When I was 24 I finally decided I needed to move out on my own. My goal was to move out by the time I turned 25. And Heidi met with me privately many times to work out a plan to make that happen.

And it did!

I celebrated my 25th birthday in my new apartment in Louisville. And Heidi didn’t let the day pass without acknowledging my accomplishment. She made a giant birthday card for me, had people from my home church sign it, and sent it to me in the mail. And it hung in my room until I moved to my new apartment one year later.

Heidi helped me grow up and spread my wings.

Yesterday I turned 38.

And this year I plan to live with more intent. To try things that are new and scary. To get to know people who are different from me. To spread my wings further. 

Just as Heidi taught me. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4S5e7c2_YO8

(Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers “Learning to Fly” appears courtesy of YouTube and Bonnaroo) 

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LAFF on Sunday: Accidents In the Home…..

They say that (Ok, I’m not actually sure the percentage) of accidents happen in the home. According to a quick google search, (because it’s me and I want to get this up before midnight 😉 and besides it’s the internet so you can believe anything you read, right?), the number one listing of accidents in the home is from falling objects.

So you probably see where this is going, but there’s a twist. While I am certainly no stranger to accidents at home (throw back to the time this happened…) this latest incident was a first. 

This morning I had a dream that I was picking something up off the ground. I can’t remember what the object was, so I can only assume that it doesn’t matter. I immediately felt a sharp pain in my left eyeball. 

Then I woke up. 

To discover my cell phone in my hand. Apparently I had grabbed my cell phone (*ostensibly to record my dream for future blog content.) and accidentally dropped it on my face. 

Apparently this is my new talent. Let me know if you think I should try out for America’s Got Talent. 

Cheers! 

*this is the first time I’ve used this fancy word in my blog and I was able to correctly use it in a sentence before double checking the definition. Go me! 😀 

LAFF On Sunday: Vacation Part 2: Country Roads, Take Me Home. (Seriously, We Gotta Pee)……

Welcome back to my page! If you enjoyed part 1 of this story, you are in for a treat as today I’m sharing part 2 of our vacation adventure.

Our story begins on the day after we arrived at our campsite in KY. In the morning we drove to Hopkinsville, KY for the total solar eclipse. The eclipse itself was indescribable and I’m SO glad we were there. Honestly the experience was right up there with witnessing a live birth. But in person. (I’ve never seen a live birth in person but I imagine it has similar awestruck feelings.)

Now Hopkinsville (or Hville as I’ll be referring to it in shorthand) is a relatively small town in the Midwest. With a population of only around 30K, hosting eclipsers was going to be a daunting task. I’m not sure of the exact number of people who came to Hville to see the eclipse, but I would venture to guess at least half of the total original population based on the traffic we had getting out of the city. Of course this estimate is conservative depending on who you talk to.

Speaking of the traffic, It was the worst I’ve ever been in. Which sounds dramatic, but let me explain further.

This traffic was most of the state’s visitors leaving at once FROM THE SAME DIRECTION. Also, Hville is situated along mostly country roads so the option of pulling over for a pit stop at a gas station was NOT an option.

But we didn’t think it’d be a big deal. We figured we’d be out of Hville soon and we’d be able to do a pit stop at a gas station or convenience store.

NOPE. We were wrong. Normally it takes a little over an hour to get from Hville to Evansville, IN on the border.

It took us 7.5.

7.5 HOURS in SLOOOOOWWWW *ss moving traffic. On mostly country roads, and the roads that weren’t isolated in the country had NOWHERE to pull off and use the restroom.

Chad suddenly had to go.

In all honesty I had started to get an inkling that I had to go about an hour or so before he did, but I figured that we’d DEFINITELY find a place in the next few miles.

Which turned into more miles.
Which turned into more miles.

And the ENTIRE time we were in slow *ss moving traffic that NEVER sped up beyond 5. MILES. PER. HOUR.

And about two hours in, it finally happened. Chad couldn’t hold it any longer. So we began trying to figure out what to do. Now I already had to go but let’s just say that ship had uh, sailed, and had circled the harbor at least once. So really the priority was Chad.

At more than one point we contemplated pulling into a random person’s driveway and asking if we could use their bathroom. Honestly, I can’t believe Hville didn’t see this coming and put random Port-a-Pottys along roads, spaced out over several miles. (Note to Terre Haute in 2024: This needs to happen).

But we (and by “we” I mean Chad and since he was driving he really had the final say so as to whether something was “not appropriate”) decided that it wasn’t a good idea to stop into someone’s driveway and ask if we could use the bathroom. Even to test how true their own state licence plates used to be (“Kentucky: We ARE That Friendly”).

But it got to the point where I’m pretty sure Chad contemplated just that if only for a moment. Instead he said, “OK, this is what we are going to do.” and picked up a large plastic cup (like those cups you can get at 7-11 for those Slurpees you buy that are as tall as 5 chickens standing on top of each other) from the driver’s side door from a previous roadside stop.

While keeping one hand on the wheel, we were still moving, he takes his other hand and leans his seat back so he had more room (and other cars couldn’t see), unzipped his pants (we were stopped for a moment but were moving again-but no more than 5mph), angled the cup and let loose.

We both prayed to Jesus that he wouldn’t overflow the cup and every second the flow didn’t stop we panicked that we were about to be out in the middle of nowhere covered in pee. Imagine the conversation……..

(Officer: Do you know why I pulled you over?
Us: We were undressing in stopped traffic with the windows open.
Officer: That’s right and I’ll be charging you with indecent exposure, can you step out of the car please?
**Chad steps out of the car to help me out**
Officer: Sir, what is that on your pants?
Us: Well you see officer, we really had to pee, but as you know there is nowhere to pull off to do it, so we had this cup and I really had to go and………
Officer: **looks extremely flustered** Ga….My bad. You folks have a nice day!)

Thankfully the stream stopped literally millimeters from the top. Then Chad handed me the cup as I’m rolling with laughter in the passenger seat. “Here,” he said. Now, I’ve never been handed a cup of pee as tall as a 5 chicken Slurpee, so I didn’t know what to do. I just took it and stared at it for a moment before gingerly reaching for the window-putter-downer in an attempt to dispose of it out the window (Shout out to the car behind us, I’m sorry!?). “NO! Don’t do that.” Chad panickly announced. “Just open the door and pour it out.”

Which I guess is definitely more discreet. So I carefully cracked the door open (yes, we were still moving but no more than 5 mph), and slowly poured the mammoth cup of pee out on this now defiled road. This task is immensely more difficult when one is laughing hysterically at what we had become in this moment.

8 hours later we stumbled into our house, thankful we had survived such a crazy adventure. 

So the takeaway from this story is three-fold:

1. Keeping a cup in the car as tall as 5 chickens standing on top of each other is a pretty great idea in case of emergency.

2. You’ve never truly appreciated a car with good leg room until you are in a similar situation.

3. In hindsight, that lady who wore astronaut diapers to drive across the country doesn’t seem so crazy after-all. 

LAFF: Vacation Part 1: Literally the Dumbest Reason I’ve Cried As an Adult……

I’ve had this following story in my head for 3 weeks and I can only hope I can tell it sufficiently so it is as entertaining as it was for us when we lived it. Honestly I should have taken electronic notes, but we were both in such a state that coherent diction would have been next to impossible. Also this will be a two parter.

This story begins the day after Chad and I were at Holiday World on that devil machine where I swear I saw Saturn’s rings. We slept on the grounds of Holiday World (in the lodge) and woke early the next morning and left our friends to drive to Hopkinsville, KY to witness the first total solar eclipse since 1979. Why Hopkinsville? Because I married an astronomy nerd and Hopkinsville was in what they called, “the path of totality” and was one of only a handful of states in the US where you’d be able to see the full, total eclipse. 

We stopped overnight at a campsite about 20 minutes from Hopkinsville. Now, one thing to know about me is I’m not the camping type. And that’s not because I’m particularly extra or spoiled in life (ok, I kinda am. Lets be honest. 😉 ). I don’t enjoy camping so much because in its most primitive form, one has to squat by a tree to pee. 

I can’t squat due to my disability so it’s much easier for me to use an actual toilet.

So when I heard that we were going to be camping at a primitive site, I was more than a little panicked. I should probably point out that we had driven several hours, I was tired and more than a little bit hormonal. 

A wonderful combination. 

So when we finally pulled into our campsite after midnight in the pitch dark, I was glad that soon we’d be able to slide our seats back and go to sleep. But I had to pee. We had heard their were bathroom facilities on the campgrounds and assumed there was a bath house.

There wasn’t.

We were told instead that there were Port-a-Pottys.
But we had to walk to them.
1/4 mile down the road.
In the dark.
On uneven ground. 
With only the flashlight on Chad’s smart phone to light our path. 

Now I already am a pretty emotional person, so as you can imagine I was just not having it at that point.
Irrational I know.
So I burst into tears. And immediately announced to Chad, “These tears are not about you, but about the situation!” (I may have lied, but only 0.5%. 😉 ) 

Literal tears falling out of my almost 38 year-old eyeballs. All because I was going to have to pee in a Port-a-Potty. I admit it wasn’t my finest hour. Thankfully the Port-a-Potty had a spigot fountain with a soap dispenser to wash your hands right outside the door. 

As I climbed in and situated myself, I began to calm down a bit and looked around at my surroundings. And discovered this particular Port-a-Potty was painted a lovely shade of Tiffany blue. “Huh,” I thought. “This color would look amazing in our living room.” 

And that long story is how we decided on our living room wall color. 😀 

Cheers! 

LAFF On Sunday: Trust Issues

*Blogger sidenote: Anyone else have issues with cutting their lip while using a spoon? Just me? Cool. Let’s move on. This conversation never happened…… 😛

Last weekend Chad and I took our first 3-day weekend vacation in 6 months. We traveled with our best friends to Holiday World in Santa Clause, Indiana. Holiday World is our favorite amusement park because it’s a relatively short distance away, the parking is free and they also offer free water and soda stations and free sunscreen. The sunscreen was particularly helpful as we picked the hottest day of the year to be outside.

Now, a bit of background on our best friends; they are roller coaster enthusiasts. Like, they visit different amusement parks just for the coasters. Which I suppose is quite a normal thing to do, but I’m not a roller coaster person and usually only go to amusement parks because of the food.

I need to eat one elephant ear or funnel cake at least once every few months. For my health.

On this particular outing, we came across a ride called, “The Crow’s Nest.” It is essentially a huge swing that rotates in a circle as a crane type mechanism lifts you higher into the air.

As your legs dangle into nothingness.

And the only things that are protecting you from crashing down to the ground is a seat belt that goes over your lap and a belt that comes over your crouch.

The crouch belt contains a rather large metal buckle that sits directly over what you don’t want to injure in the event of a malfunction and sticks to your inner thighs. It’s safety over comfort on this thing, apparently. Although I still worried about my legs being free to just swing in the breeze willy-nilly, but at least my hoo-haa would be protected from ice chunks thrown up into the ride from a rogue child standing on the ground just wanting to test physics.

Holiday World tries to prepare for everything, apparently.

There are two seats on each crane arm and the seat that is furthest from the middle goes higher in the air than the one on the inside. Since I’m not a fan of heights, I chose the inner seat.

This was probably the only smart move I made. Nope, I’m sure this is the only smart move I made. I just shouldn’t have gotten on this devil machine. I’m not sure how high up we were, but I could have sworn at one point I saw Saturn’s rings.

Maybe.

Although truth be told I clamped my eyes real tight for most of the ride as we were going up, except for a split second when I felt brave and opened one eyeball just a crack.

It was a mistake. I thought the end was near. So I snapped my eyes back shut and held on for dear life. And prayed it’d be over soon. And focused on NOT vomiting. It looked a little something like this:

Now you may be wondering WHY in the WORLD would I get on a ride that goes so high that Saturn’s rings would be visible if I have a phobia of heights?

I mean, that’s a good question.

I believe it was all based on a lie.

See, of these friends of ours who are roller coaster enthusiasts, one has a fear of heights but loves this ride. The other one doesn’t have a fear of heights but promised this would be a relaxing experience and would help cool me off.

The operative phrase was “relaxing experience.”

Again, I should have never listened to my friends or believed the ride would be “relaxing” because it was “very much not. Like at all.” Even with my favorite human in the world right next to me. Although in my friend’s defense, it did cool me off.

Which I guess was the world’s thinnest silver lining.

The entire time I was on the ride, besides focusing on not dying or puking, I kept remembering that I told myself that when the ride was over, I would treat myself with a henna tattoo.

Which I got about an hour later. Henna tat’s are temporary but are supposed to last up to two weeks. Mine barely lasted 3 days. Why? Because even though I’m an adult, I don’t always make responsible decisions, and so I forgot to wear sunscreen the next day and as a result got a sunburn that had to be aloed once a day and the tattoo rubbed off as a result. My happy, bubbly sea-horse turned into a sad, crusty, flaky shell of what it once was. 

Like me when I found my first gray hair. 

So dear reader, the take away from today’s tale is two-fold: 

1. Never trust the word of a guy who’s a rollercoaster enthusiast but has a phobia of heights and,

2. Always wear sunscreen, especially after getting a henna tattoo.

Cheers!

LAFF on Wednesday: Unrequited Love…..

A few months ago we had some excitement in our house so I began to write this blog and today I wanted to share the story………

Riley is in love. But there is a twist……..

She doesn’t love him back.

So he’s been a bit depressed.

See, 3 weeks ago, Chad went out to the car to get something out of it. On his way back to the house he observed a stray cat sauntering up to our front door. Riley happened to be on the other side of the door and the moment he saw her, he was smitten.

Seriously. This was OMG-I-have-to-have-you-right-now-even-though-I’m-fixed-and-I-don’t-know-what-“have-you”-means kind of love.

But again, the feeling was not mutual. Here, take a look:

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He’s all like, “Let her in! I love her!!” and she’s all like, “Eh. I’m bored.” (Or as my mother-in-law suggested, maybe she was getting ready for their future date. But I doubt it. Why? Keep reading….)

When Little Miss Stray finished her grooming and turned around to face the door and Riley, she hissed.

In some ways, I honestly don’t blame her. I mean, if I was as pregnant as she was and came upon a member of the male species, I may have had the same reaction.

Oh yeah. I forgot to mention, Miss Stray Kitty appeared to be slightly less pregnant than Octomom. Unfortunately we couldn’t figure out when she would go into labor.

So I set up a box on the porch a few nights later, lined with a blanket and lid so she’d have a good place to give birth when the time came.

And she kept coming around every evening around 7. She’d come running up to our porch for a little snack (yes we kept a small bowl of food out for her). And right as rain, Mr. Riley would run to the door to watch her eat and pine away. His pining would inevitably include clawing at the door and cooing in her direction.

It was all very romantic.

But the thing was, she kept coming around. Every night between 7 and 8. And slowly but surely she began to coo back at Riley.

And thus began a relationship, albeit through a glass door.

It was beautiful. And I started to feel things stirring in my soul.
I wanted to keep her.

But I knew we couldn’t. Because two female cats in one house had never gone over well for us. It inevitably leads to one female to cower under the kitchen table and a puddle of pee on the kitchen floor. 

And honestly I don’t think that’s good for my bladder. 😛 

But the weeks went by (Yes, weeks. We did put out a message on our local missing pets forum on FB, but got no leads.) I began to look forward to seeing her every evening. 

One evening as we were watching her eat, Chad asked me what we should name her. 

Apparently he had feelings too, but those feelings didn’t stay inside. They fell out of his mouth. I tried to maintain my dignity and not let my emotions over-ride what I knew we had to do: 

“This one isn’t allowed in the house. She doesn’t get a name!” 

We named her Merida. (I cracked. Don’t judge me. 😛 ) 

Thankfully we were able to get her to the humane shelter days before she delivered.

Unfortunately we hadn’t prepared Riley for her absence, so for the next week or so he’d go up to the door around 7pm every evening and meow and scratch the door. Then meander back and forth between me and the door, sadly meowing and wondering where his woman was. It was sad. And it took a few weeks for him to get over her and be happy again. 

And maybe we all hope that someday Merida will move next door so we can visit her and her kittens again. 

Here’s hoping.