It’s been a while…

July 20, 2017 in Lymphoma by Reta Reed

Kristen graduated! It was touch-and-go there for a bit, but she did it! Her senior year was fairly easy, at least compared to her freshman through junior years. Her schedule was lighter and perhaps allowed her the time she needed for both school and socializing. That girl is a bear without her friends!

Our beloved Manx cat, Smudge, got cancer and we had him put to sleep. He was the only social cat we had and a great hunter. Before we adopted him in 2007, we fostered him and Jeff nursed him to health by force-feeding him with raw egg and oatmeal in a children’s medicine syringe. He was still just a tiny “smudge” of a kitten when we adopted him. RIP, Smudge.

Alex voted for spice cake for Jeff’s birthday this year. Now that I think of it, I think she did that last year, too. Regardless of the cake flavor, we continue to remember Jeff and miss him dearly.

Finally, that “some day” I mentioned in my last post came pretty quickly! We got married on May 29th, Memorial Day! We only had a few months to plan, but I think the wedding was very nice and intimate.

Let me back up a bit… I thought we’d wait until he got back from deployment to get married, but then I quit being so stubborn and dumb. I realized he (we) would get more benefits if he deployed as a married man and figured it would be stupid to pass that up, so I thought about getting married in August. But then Jeff’s parents were coming down from Washington for Kristen’s graduation in May, so we bumped the date up to coordinate with their time here to save them a second trip to Texas. Then the deployment fell through, but we stuck with the date.

Fun facts about the wedding:

  • Greg’s ring is from an AR-15 gas block (of course).
  • Travis was Ring Security.
  • I gave Greg a “back-up” wedding ring which has two Lego studs on it. (The image is a 3-D rendering.) It was 3-D printed out of silver.
  • Jeff’s mom was my Matron of Honor and kicked ass on the hors d’oeuvres!
  • I made a wedding arch out of the lumber that previously bordered the vegetable garden, planted flower beds, made outdoor curtain rods and curtains, planted more flowers, and we cleaned gutters, put up gutter guards, and trimmed many, many branches.
  • Kristen was the photographer and Alex was the music director.
  • We live-streamed the wedding but it was pretty glitchy. We need to edit it and then I’ll provide a link.
  • We had 43 people total at the wedding, including the wedding party.
  • Though we asked for no gifts, we volunteered that Home Depot (bride) or Bud’s Gun Shop (groom) gift cards would be appreciated. We cleaned up on Home Depot gift cards. We have very generous friends and family!

We are settling in to married life. I have commenced to driving him crazy. Bwah ha ha haaaa!

I started this post a few weeks ago. Just last night I asked the husband if he had a bucket list. He said he always wanted to be a husband and father and threw up his arms and said “Done!” I’m still astounded that this man believes I am the one worthy of his time for the rest of his life. He has stopped searching and has settled down with me?!?!? (and Travis) He is truly a gem. I’m not a bad catch either…

New year

January 8, 2017 in Lymphoma by Reta Reed

Happy new year! So there was news between the last two posts. My birthday was quite eventful.

I’m now ENGAGED!

Yeah, I said for a long time that if anything ever happened and I wound up single again, I wouldn’t get married again. I don’t think I’m good at it. I don’t think I share well. I share stuff okay, though don’t creep over onto my side of the bed – I like my space! I don’t think I share myself well. Jeff used to say I was the dude in the relationship. I don’t like to go on and on about my feelings. Woe is me, blah, blah, blah. I like to keep things happy and be thankful for what and who I have around me. I’m independent in that I don’t feel like I need someone to take care of me and the house and the cars, but I like having a special someone who makes me feel special.

It was a Friday. I had taken the day off but went with Alex to her doctor’s appointment that morning. We finished at the doctor so I texted the boyfriend that we were on our way. (He had seemed very interested in my plans for the day, where I’d be, etc. so I figured he had something cooked up for my birthday.) He asked if I could stop and get burgers, though it was only about 10:00. We got to a Braum’s at about 10:20 so we sat in the car until 10:30 when they start their lunch menu. We walked in with food a little before 11:00 and there was a trail of rose petals leading from the garage door to the patio door. (Not the first time to have a trail of rose petals in my house.) Alex and I put the food on the kitchen table and I saw movement on the patio. I opened the door and there was the boyfriend, on his knee with a ring box in his hand. I looked at him for a second or two then closed the door. All I could do was turn and stare at Alex. I still had my hand on the doorknob. I stared at Alex, who had no idea what was going on. I was speechless. I opened the door after a few more seconds and there was the boyfriend, still on his knee. I closed the door again. Still speechless, I thought, “Yup, this happening. What do I do?” In those few seconds I searched my heart, my gut, for what to say. Finally I opened the door again and stepped out onto the patio. Boyfriend was still on his knee to my right. I just looked around the freshly-mowed yard (hired guy had mowed that morning) and remarked about how nice the yard looked and what a nice job he did. Then I looked down at the boyfriend, his eyes red and teary, and he asked me to marry him. I pulled him up and said “Absolutely. Some day.” Maybe he was just happy to get off his knee, but he said he’d wait, he’s in no hurry. So, there’s no date set though we’ve tossed ideas around, what with the increased benefits he’d receive as a married man on deployment and with Travis’ insurance changing.

20160930_120335It’s his grandmother’s ring. He had evidently been planning this for a month or more. He had to get the ring from his mother, take it to the jeweler to get it repaired and sized, and then go back to pick it up from the jeweler. Travis went with him to pick up the ring from the jeweler and managed to keep it a secret from me!

The boyfriend fiancé is a good guy. He treats me like a queen, adores Travis and plays with him all the time. He even likes the girls, though they tend to steer clear of him. He doesn’t hesitate to do the right thing. He’s way smarter than me. He has a good family and we get along well. He makes me feel special. He’s certainly brave to take on this ready-made family and all its baggage!

Three Years

December 8, 2016 in Lymphoma by Reta Reed

(I just posted the 9/26/16 entry today, copied from the ARFCOM site, so if you’re following this blog closely, don’t think you missed anything.)

This is obviously a rough time of year for me. It starts before Thanksgiving, when I remember how badly Jeff wanted to come home after spending so much time in the ICU/hospital, but he really wasn’t ready. I still have his texts where he threatened to walk home if I didn’t come pick him up. He texted that his oncologist said he was ready to go. (I texted his oncologist directly, who promptly denied he said anything of the sort.) Jeff charmed everyone into believing he was okay enough. He got home and got to the couch. And then couldn’t get off the couch. It was too low and he didn’t have enough strength in his legs to get up. He was too heavy for me to lift but we rigged something with a walker and pillows and a belt just to get him off the couch… It was painful to see him struggle.

The day after he got home, he had an appointment in Dallas for transplant evaluation and could barely get in and out of the car. He wanted to be okay. And I let him think that he was okay; let him believe that I thought he was okay and that he would have the transplant and get better. Looking back now, I knew he was probably discharged from the hospital too early, but I didn’t know just how close we were to the end. We were both still hopeful.

So here we are three years later and it’s still painful. This is the one day when I just want to crawl in a hole and do nothing. Maybe it’s a good thing that there are appointments and things to do today that prevent me from going to that dark place. My wonderful man helps tremendously too. He’s very understanding and actually wants me to dump all this on him. I don’t usually like to share the bad stuff. I don’t like people to worry, especially about me. I’m pretty skilled at keeping a brave, happy face, but I allow myself at least this one day to crumble. Just a little. Tomorrow will be better.

9/26/16

December 8, 2016 in Lymphoma by Reta Reed

I know, I know… I’ve been terrible about posting updates ‘n’ such.

The boyfriend is deploying with his unit next year and will be gone for 9+ months. We have plenty of time between now and then, though I know it will creep up on us. I don’t look forward to it. Jeff completed his military service before we got together, so all this is new to me. He’s a good guy, so I’d like to keep him around. Travis certainly needs him around. He’s been very good for Travis – encouraging him, educating him, playing with him, doing gross guy stuff with him. Travis and I understand though that this is what he is compelled to do and would likely not be a very happy camper if he couldn’t do it.

All is well. The kids are good. I’m convinced my middle child has been abducted by aliens and the alien-in-teenager-skin will unzip any second now and devour us all. She’s been doing very well in school. Get this – when her friends were going out (to Buc-ee’s, but still), she said she had homework to do and stayed home! She still needs a job though.

The oldest is enjoying her classes at TCC – Government is boring, Biology is kinda interesting, and Psychology is very interesting. Still no job, but I’m talking her into a volunteer position in the library at Travis’s school. It would be perfect for her. This is the kid who needs ever so gentle prodding or she digs in her heels and becomes Stonehenge. So, I figure a volunteer thing close to home in a familiar place would be good. It would give her a taste of getting out into the “work” force and having to answer to someone, have duties.

Travis is still such a happy kid. We had a little bumpy start to the school year. For repeating a grade, he just didn’t have the focus and sense of urgency that he should have. I believe he is back on track now and we have partnered with his teachers so the poor kid is getting no slack!

I really struggle with Travis. Even before he was born, he had issues. I had two “bleeds”, the second of which prompted his delivery a month early. I believe those bleeds deprived him of oxygen and/or blood flow and caused a stroke or brain damage. I wonder though what the extent of the damage is, if it is repairable and if so, how? His failing is reading. If he will just never get it, fine, but how will we know he just won’t get it? Do we continue to push and push, try different tests, tutors, teaching styles, like trying to shove a square peg in a round hole? I’d love nothing more than someone to be able to test Travis, tell me “this is what’s wrong…”, and “this is what he needs to fix it…” or “he will always have this difficulty”. I hate that he struggles. I hate not knowing how to help him or if he can be helped. We are pursuing an assessment at Texas Scottish Rite, the same hospital where he has had therapy and surgery for his clubbed feet. Their specialty is dyslexia, but they can assess the full gamut. I desperately need direction and I’m hoping they can provide it.

My major project is mostly complete. The idiotic plant ledge is gone, the closet above the archway is complete and the stone around the fireplace is done. I still need to make the mantle and touch up some things on the brick around the fireplace. I’m VERY pleased with how things turned out.

Before and After: AFTER (top) and BEFORE (bottom):

I have many other projects on the horizon. The boyfriend says he is afraid to go away too long, for fear I’ll remove walls and other major structures. I think this was the biggest project and it’s done, so anything subsequent will be a piece of cake

8/21/16

September 6, 2016 in Lymphoma by Reta Reed

Well hey! It’s been too long, I know.

It’s been a good summer. No kids were grounded! The middle child is strutting her stuff cuz she’s a senior this year. Thankfully, the school sells a “senior package” which includes their parking pass, reserved parking spot, prom ticket, and yearbook. Maybe, just maybe, I won’t be nickel-and-dimed all year. She has a schedule issue to fix, but she’s all set. She now says she wants to be a veterinarian. I’ve asked her “Have you seen your grades?” She needs to step it up, big time.

The oldest is enrolled for the fall semester at the county college. She still doesn’t know what she wants to do, so she’s pursuing general studies. Neither of the girls have found work yet, though they’re not trying too hard. The oldest does some commissioned digital art work so she has a little bit of pocket change, but she needs a real job.

Travis is his usual happy self. He got glasses on his birthday and I swear he looks more like Jeff. We just had his birthday party yesterday. Thirteen kids came, most of them girls!

Travis is registered for fifth grade again. That’s been a really tough decision on my part. We had meet-the-teacher Friday night and I really like his teachers. Maybe fresh teachers, special education, and an extra year to grow, mature, and expand his vocabulary will get him on the right track.

We had a great vacation to Gulf Shores. The drive was not terrible and we stayed in a nice condo on the beach. Middle child started getting bored by about day 9, and I wasn’t able to arrange a kayak trip before we left, but all-in-all we had a good time.

My house project is nearing completion. The plant ledge is gone, the closet is finished, things are painted; I just need to put the stone around the fireplace. I’ll probably be painting this week while the boyfriend is gone. With Travis’s party over, I can go back to making messes

6/4/16

June 4, 2016 in Lymphoma by Reta Reed

BIG POST!! Nothing earth-shattering… just a LOT of content, since I haven’t updated in so long.

This must be the year the house goes to shit.

BOTH HVAC units have been completely replaced. Only the ductwork is unchanged. In that process, the city has to come out and inspect. Well, the overflow pans had backflow, so it didn’t pass inspection. The AC guys came back out, rerouted the overflow drains so they could be lower than the AC units. The city was to come back out to reinspect but the inspector said they were short-handed, that they are familiar with Reliant’s work and he was confident that he could just pass it without reinspecting. I made sure he knew it didn’t pass the first time and this was to be a reinspection. He was still okay with passing it sight unseen.

Next the roof shingles were replaced. The roofer had to access the attic because one of his guys broke a standpipe and once he pulled the attic ladder down, he smelled gas. Knowing that the AC was recently replaced, he suggested I call my AC guys. I called and they came out that evening. The house reeked of natural gas by that point. The AC guys were very apologetic and said that one of the gas lines was not as tight as it could have been and they tightened it down, checked for leaks and said everything was good.

That was on a Wednesday. By Saturday (Memorial Day weekend), the house still reeked of gas so I called Atmos, not sure if it just takes forever for that smell to dissipate or if we still had a leak somewhere. The Atmos guy came out and did a pressure test and said there is a leak but he couldn’t find it. So he shut off the gas. (Luckily I had already cooked dinner.) He said I needed to call my plumber to find the gas leak. On a Saturday. Memorial Day weekend.

Have you taken a cold shower? They SUCK!

I called my usual plumber and left a message. Then I looked for an emergency plumber. Though I could get a plumber out, he wouldn’t be able to do anything with it because he would need a permit from the city. Of course city offices were closed for the Memorial Day weekend so nothing could be done until Tuesday. (The worst part of a cold shower is cold water down your back!) Finally the plumber came out, found the leak (a roof nail punctured the gas flex line running along the underside of the roof), did the repairs, and $1100 later (thank you, boyfriend)… we still had no gas. (COLD SHOWERS SUCK!)

The inspector came out Wednesday and okayed the repair, with the caveat that we ground the main gas pipe. (This was a mercifully easy thing to do.) He was to let Atmos know electronically that it was okay to turn on the gas. I was told by the plumber that since this is an electronic process, Atmos should know within an hour or so. I fully expected Atmos to automagically show up and turn on the gas. Late Wednesday, no Atmos. No gas. No hot shower. I called first thing Thursday morning and was told that the homeowner is supposed to call Atmos to set up a time to turn on the gas. >:\       Though the Atmos lady I talked to said it would normally be the next day (Friday), she would override that and get someone out the same day. By early afternoon we were taking HOT showers again.

The back fence was replaced on Memorial Day. It is absolutely georgeous!! It’s nothing fancy. Just upright. All one color. And in one long, straight line.

The kids have wrapped up their 2015-2016 school year. Travis did not pass his second attempt at the STAAR Reading test. He understands what this means and is accepting. He really is a resilient kid. I am confident he will do fine, probably better, getting a chance to catch up. Kristen has been… Kristen. Let’s recap this school year:

  • October 2015, shortly after getting her license, goes to a friend’s birthday party but winds up at another kids house with boys and alcohol and no parents. After progressive revelations about this, lying, and sneaking out in the middle of the night with a friend WHILE GROUNDED, her final sentence: grounded for three months.
  • April 2016 – was past curfew getting home. When she finally answered my call, she was upset because she was stuck in traffic and low on gas. When I asked where she had encountered so much traffic, she said she had been at a party in a not-so-great part of town and was stuck in night-time road construction traffic. I talked her through getting to a gas station. When she got home her friends called her to see where she was. They were still at the party and stuck there because a friend lost her car keys. Her car was holding some of their work uniforms hostage. They were messed up. Some had been drinking and eating special brownies to excess. The boyfriend, Kristen and I drove to the party and brought home two of the kids to crash in the living room. Only one stop on the way home for one of the girls to puke. Kristen and her boyfriend had broken up fairly recently, so I took it easy on her; final sentence: grounded for one week.
  • Late April 2016 – was caught skipping class with three of her friends. They were in her car in the school parking lot, the idiots! I got a call from the assistant principal. I no longer felt sorry for her, so her final sentence was grounded for two weeks.

Even with all this, I still say Kristen’s a good kid. I know it could be worse!

I started a little project while the boyfriend was gone for three weeks. (See what happens when I get bored?) I have long hated the giant plant ledge in the living room. So, I seized the opportunity to hack away at it. This is the original monstrosity:

Hideous plant ledge

Hideous plant ledge with random crap on it.

 I just hate the way the plant ledge butts into the fireplace wall.

2016-05-07 18.02.56

This is the goal. Crappy photoshop skills but you get the idea.

The idea is to get rid of the plant ledge abutting the fireplace wall, put the stone on that I’ve had for over a year, and build a closet on top of the remaining archway which would be accessible from the landing. Can you see it? Don’tcha love it? It’ll be so much better right?

20160604_154034

This is the current state.

I’m fortunate to have a wonderful guy helping me. (Or I’m helping him?) He’s one of Jeff’s buddies from the guard. He just shakes his head at me and my projects. He’s a sweet guy, but I know he’ll be glad when I’m gone on vacation!

Alex, Travis and I participated in an American Cancer Society Relay for Life event last month. I was on a team with some folks from work. We walked, and walked, and walked, and walked… I think I counted 25 laps around the track. It was an interesting experience. I didn’t even cry much. I’d like to do it each year, if possible.

20160513_195505

Sno-cones in hand, the kids were ready to walk!

20160513_213552

Still smiling toward the end of the night!

My computer’s power supply got zapped in one of the storms we’ve had over the past couple of months. Being the wife of an IT guy, I was often exposed to computer guts all over the floor and paid attention to what was going on, so I was able to buy a power supply, install it and get my computer back up and running.

We celebrated Jeff’s 48th birthday this year with a strawberry cake. I did the writing with cookie icing – not meant for cakes. Just a few hours after taking this photo, the heart and flower became mere blobs and the writing started to blur together. Jeff would have loved it anyway!

20160426_205942

Maybe I need to learn to make more manly cakes?

 

This morning I went to open the microwave door and half the handle broke. I’m laughing on the inside.

4/13/16

April 13, 2016 in Lymphoma by Reta Reed

There have been quite a few changes since the last post — mainly, the boyfriend’s deployment fell through. I’m somewhat relieved but I know it was something he really felt compelled to do so I’m disappointed for him.

The girls and I are no longer excited about going to Italy; all the kids would rather go back to Gulf Shores! I have until May to make a decision about canceling the trip, but it’ll cost me a pretty penny.

The downstairs AC finally bit the bullet. I’m getting quotes. (First quote $4600-$8200.) The roof needs to be repaired/replaced. I have the insurance dude coming out next week. The back fence is crumbling and with the last storm several panels/posts gave way. I have a guy lined up to take care of that, or should I say I’m in line behind the other fence jobs he has scheduled. No rush. Fingers crossed we don’t have a major appliance failure too!

20160326_170841

Pardon the poor picture quality.

20160326_170851

It was brought to my attention that the flowerbed border looks like part of the outline of Texas, at least from this angle.

20160326_174554

These bizarre things are called “kangaroo paws” or “joey paws”.

20160326_174611[1]

Close-up

20160403_175949

Pile of branches (still hasn’t been picked up).

I got one fun project mostly done. I think I said last year (or was it the year before?)  that next year I would work on the flower beds/outdoor projects. So I did most of the flower beds and trimmed trees. Certainly gives me a sense of accomplishment and I’m very happy with the results.

I’ve been very busy at work lately too. Lots of nerdy fun stuff is keeping me occupied. I just had my 20th anniversary with the company on March 1st! I started when I was just a wee girl of course 🙂

The boyfriend and I went to a funeral yesterday. I REALLY hate funerals.

Such is life…

February 23, 2016 in Lymphoma by Reta Reed

Just when you’re sitting back, sipping the lemonade you made out of the lemons you “stumbled upon”, things take a turn. I’ll soon have more free time to work on projects around the house, focus on the kids, exercise, and do whatever I damn well please, I guess. I’ll do lots of painting, maybe even tackle my home office. THAT is a major project! I’ll get myself and the girls geared up for our trip to Italy this summer.  I’ll nudge the girls ever so slightly forcefully to get jobs. We’ll see movies, go to the park, do fun stuff. Oh, wait, the girls drive now. They may not want to hang out with me. Sooooo, maybe it’ll just be me and Travis. I’ll dream up great, fun, exhausting things to do in my forthcoming free time.

The reason for my impending free time is that the boyfriend, aka my fourth child/Travis’s playmate, is taking a deployment. Don’t worry! We’ll be fine! Good grief, we were fine for a year before he came along. It’s just that he’ll be gone a long time. I worry for him because of where he’ll be. Travis is very resilient so I don’t think he’ll be terribly heartbroken, but things have been going well with him and the BF. And with me and the BF. (The girls and the BF? Notsomuch, but they’re tolerant.) We’ve settled into some semblance of domesticity. It’s like my glass of lemonade has been knocked over. My fault, I put it down. One of the cats likely toppled it. I have enjoyed having a partner. Someone who cares about me and Travis and even the girls. Wow. The girls sound like monsters, but they’re really not. They’re just naturally resistant. I know it could be a lot worse. It’s nice to have someone in my corner. A sounding board. A voice of reason. A cheerleader. A shoulder and warm hug. Well, he’s not dropping off the planet for Pete’s sake. We’ll still talk. I’m sure it’ll be fine.

Anywho… Travis had an appointment with the wonderful folks at Texas Scottish Rite today. His funky little feet were deemed normal for him. He walks with a bit of a sashay, which was also deemed normal for him. He runs with flare – again, normal for him. He’s doing very well from his initial days of very tangled feet.

Art

December 22, 2015 in Lymphoma by Reta Reed

For the past few years we’ve made sugar cookies at Christmastime. Well, I make the cookies then we all decorate them. Now, if you haven’t figured out by now, we are pretty non-traditional. This is evident in our cookie “art”. You can see some traditionally-decorated cookies, but you’ll also see an octopus, a ghost, a heart, a couple fish, a “dragon”, a hot-air balloon, a guitar, a crocodile head, two spiders, a cat, a squirrel, and two handguns. There is also my feeble attempt at an AR15 bolt face. It’s fun to be creative and laugh and point at our less-than-stellar results. They’re still yummy, though!

20151222_210315[1] 20151222_210304[1] 20151222_210922[1]

It’s that time of year again

December 5, 2015 in Lymphoma by Reta Reed

This is the time of year for hustling and bustling about, planning and attending holiday parties, Christmas shopping, traveling, and seeing friends and family. A time for giving to one another. A time for togetherness. (These should be year-round, but people are people, and we have stuff to do.)

For me, this is the time when those intensely sad feelings bubble to the surface. Those haunting memories come to the foreground. They’re there, in the crowd of other memories, jumping up and down and waving hysterically, begging to be noticed, but not like a best friend who can’t wait to be reunited with you and give you a big hug, then excitedly rambling on about all the things that have happened since your last meeting, and then swearing to not let so much time pass between get-togethers, and maybe next time we should do a cruise. These memories, if given attention, seem to want to swallow me whole and keep me in a dark pit.

The memories and images of two years ago can’t be ignored. I try not to dwell on them because they’re still so painful. I try to change focus to the kids, the boyfriend, work, and house repairs. I go to the gym (since I’m a wuss and won’t ride my bike in temps below 60). I’m doing okay. This is just a difficult time of year. Every year. It’s harder to choose happy. It’s harder to get out of bed. It’s harder to keep the tears at bay.

Still, I get out of bed. I do my damnedest to choose happy. I’m not stifling the tears today and am thankful for the release that comes with shedding them.