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!

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Pardon the poor picture quality.

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

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

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Close-up

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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!

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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.

10/7/15

October 7, 2015 in Lymphoma by Reta Reed

I logged in to add a post and found this draft from a few weeks ago, so I’ll go ahead and post it.

We’re back into the swing of school and schedules and homework. The big change is that the girls are driving! They’re sharing the car, but they’re making it work. Alex has started a class at the community college and will start two more later this month. Travis is doing very well and continues to blossom.

What I logged in to post is this:

Have you ever annoyed yourself with something you do, but you can’t seem to make yourself stop doing it?

Every time I see a date in 2013 or earlier, I relate it to what Jeff was doing. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes definitely NOT good.  “That was the year we went to the Grand Canyon.” “That was our last trip to Galveston.” “He really loved that truck.” “Jeff was halfway through chemo.” “Those nurses at Harris Fort Worth treated Jeff like a rock star!” “That was our first trip to Houston.” (F*ck, I hate Houston! I know some of you poor souls live there and some have had to seek treatment at MD Anderson like Jeff did, but it holds not one good memory for me. The entire city is forever tarnished. I don’t think I’d blink if it was wiped off the map.) “Jeff was in ICU then.” “That was his first day in hospice.”

Facebook memory posts are the worst. I see what someone else was doing in 2013 and it is in such stark contrast to what our family was going through. It makes me envious, maybe a little bitter. It’s so unfair. I know, I know… life isn’t fair.

I know all our memories are supposed to make our lives richer, complete – you can’t appreciate the good without the bad… blah, blah, blah – but if you could erase one memory, maybe a whole day or even a week, would you? I think I would. Jeff doesn’t have to live with the memories, thankfully.

Queen headboard

August 8, 2015 in Projects by Reta Reed

Note: I did this a while ago and didn’t post it, but, dammit, I’m proud of the headboard so here it is. Pardon the goofy layout of this post!

So, I down-sized from the humongous king headboard and footboard to a queen-size bed. I knew right away I wanted to make my headboard. I found this tutorial and knew it would be easy. I surveyed my materials:

  • Big piece of plywood, OSB, or particle board – CHECK! I’ve been bumping the car door into it for years as it has been leaning against the wall in the garage.
  • Fabric – CHECK! The mile-long window scarf will be perfect. (A la Carol Burnett’s Scarlett O’Hara  “Ah saw it in the winduh and Ah just couldn’t resist it.”)
  • Staple gun – CHECK! What self-respecting DIY-er doesn’t have a staple gun?
  • Circular saw – DUH! Of course I have a circular saw.
  • Jigsaw – Double DUH!

I had a thin twin mattress pad but I wanted the headboard to be really cushy so I ordered another 3″-thick twin mattress pad from Wally World for $25. It was convoluted, but I figured I’d just put the bumpy side toward the wood or to the thinner twin pad.

I bought a set of decorator needles ($2.97) that are super long for pushing through lots of foam, wax thread (because she said so) ($3.47), and three packages of make-your-own fabric-covered buttons ($1.77 ea).

To hang the headboard easily, I discovered French cleats. If you’ve never heard of them, you’ll be glad you’re discovering them now. They make hanging large, heavy items so freakin’ easy! I bought two of them at Big Orange for $7.97 ea.

I also discovered I needed something better than boxes of tile to serve as support for cutting the wood to size, so I bought a two-pack of sawhorses at the Big Orange store. (I don’t count those in the cost of the headboard.)

A grand total of $52.69, plus a little tax that I didn’t feel like calculating.

THE DETAILS

Safety first! I donned my reading glasses (nerd alert!) so that a) I can see what I'm doing and b) flying crap doesn't get in my eyes.

Safety first! I donned my reading glasses (nerd alert!) so that a) I can see what I’m doing and b) flying crap doesn’t get in my eyes.

I love my fancy sawhorses. They extend up and out too.

I love my fancy sawhorses. They extend up and out too.

Cuts done. I cut the big piece of OSB down to 61" long and 34" wide, then used a paint can lid to trace the curve on one corner. I cut the curve with the jigsaw then used the scrap wood to trace the curve on the other corner.

Cuts done. I cut the big piece of OSB down to 61″ long and 34″ wide, then used a paint can lid to trace the curve on one corner. I cut the curve with the jigsaw then used the scrap wood to trace the curve on the other corner.

Holes for buttons. Even I can't see the holes in this picture.

Holes for buttons. Even I can’t see the holes in this picture.

I again used the scrap wood to trace the curve to cut the foam.

I again used the scrap wood to trace the curve to cut the foam.

Foam sammich

Foam sammich

The fun part! I brought everything inside to add the fabric. Since the window scarf is a light color and since it is a mile long, I doubled it so there wouldn't be show-through of wood or whatever.

The fun part! I brought everything inside to add the fabric. Since the window scarf is a light color and since it is a mile long, I doubled it so there wouldn’t be show-through of wood or whatever.

I used a spongy sandpaper block to soften the corners so it's easier on the fabric. I didn't cover the wood with batting like others have done.

I used a spongy sandpaper block to soften the corners so it’s easier on the fabric. I didn’t cover the wood with batting like others have done.

I don't care what the back looks like! You just pull and staple the heck outta everything. Again, I sat on top of the whole thing to compress it a bit as I stapled.

I don’t care what the back looks like! You just pull and staple the heck outta everything. Again, I sat on top of the whole thing to compress it a bit as I stapled.

It's already gorgeous!

It’s already gorgeous!

The buttons are stupid easy to make.

The buttons are stupid easy to make.

This extra long needle was essential!

This extra long needle was essential!

Be sure to cut enough thread that you don't lose it in the foam.

Be sure to cut enough thread that you don’t lose it in the foam.

Feeding the needle back through and finding the hole was a bit tricky. Just try to keep the needle horizontal to the floor and perpendicular (Google it) to the wood.

Feeding the needle back through and finding the hole was a bit tricky. Just try to keep the needle horizontal to the floor and perpendicular (Google it) to the wood.

Once I had the needle to the back of the wood, I put one of Travis's Play-doh containers on the floor, centered under the button I was attaching, so that as I pressed on the wood, the foam would be compressed and allow me to pull the button tight. Staple the thread ends to the wood. Pound those staples in good and tight and knot the thread to keep them from relaxing.

Once I had the needle to the back of the wood, I put one of Travis’s Play-doh containers on the floor, centered under the button I was attaching, so that as I pressed on the wood, the foam would be compressed and allow me to pull the button tight. Staple the thread ends to the wood. Pound those staples in good and tight and knot the thread to keep them from relaxing.

Ta-da!

Ta-da!

Fancy hangers. (French cleats.)

Fancy hangers. (French cleats.)

I found the horizontal center of the wall where the headboard would hang and marked off with tape the general outline of the headboard. I then measured down from the top of the imaginary headboard to place the wall piece of the cleat.

I found the horizontal center of the wall where the headboard would hang and marked off with tape the general outline of the headboard. I then measured down from the top of the imaginary headboard to place the wall piece of the cleat.

It even has a handy-dandy level bubble that slides into a groove.

It even has a handy-dandy level bubble that slides into a groove.

Place the other piece of the cleat on the back of the headboard and then slide it into place. So easy!

Place the other piece of the cleat on the back of the headboard and then slide it into place. So easy!

6/20/15

June 20, 2015 in Lymphoma by Reta Reed

Wow, it’s been a while since my last post. Things are going well I guess. The kids are out of school, kinda. (Kristen managed to pass all her classes by the hair of her chinny-chin-chin.) Travis is in summer school, aka Summer Intervention Program, though he missed most of this last week because he was sick. Just one more week, then he’s done. The girls are with their dad for the next ten days for Father’s Day and his birthday.

Father’s Day… It’s another rough time for me. My relationship with my dad is pretty much non-existent, so I feel a lot of loss there. (I was invited to his birthday dinner last month [after not seeing him for…years] with my brother and his wife and it was the ultimate non-event. No great revelations. No reunion. Just dinner. And heartbreak.) And I feel loss for Travis because his dad is no longer here. I took the girls shopping for Father’s Day cards for their dad and it hurt to look at the cards, so I quit looking at cards. The boyfriend is such a good guy and very much wants to be a dad for Travis, but it’s just not time yet. I can’t explain why. It just doesn’t feel right yet. So there’s not much to celebrate.

I’ll meet the boyfriend’s parents soon. I don’t know why that terrifies me, but it does. I’m not great at small-talk. I don’t keep up with current events. I’d love to be charming and likeable, but I’m a tattooed, pro-choice, pseudo-Republican, atheist, potty-mouthed widow who is afraid of appearing stupid. Certainly I can’t screw up too much in the course of one dinner, right? Right?

Maybe we’ll go to the park and shoot rockets tomorrow. That sounds like fun.

47th

May 3, 2015 in Lymphoma by Reta Reed

It’s certainly not a manly cake, but there’s love in every crumb. Happy Birthday, Jeff.

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3/17/15

March 17, 2015 in Lymphoma by Reta Reed

Today would have been our 14th wedding anniversary. We had a nice, small wedding in a friend’s house. She had a large great room with stairs coming down from the gameroom above. The girls and I readied ourselves upstairs while guests gathered downstairs. We had rehearsed the day before in the empty house, but on the day of the wedding, the girls froze midway down the stairs. My maid of honor had to escort them the rest of the way. Once downstairs, Kristen went to Jeff, hugged him, and took her seat next to my mom. Alex was to do the same, but she was so scared and shy that she didn’t let go of Jeff. He walked her on his knees to her seat, with her still clinging to him. I could hear the laughter upstairs, but didn’t know what was going on.

We didn’t write our own vows and I don’t remember what the pastor had us say. I assume it was the usual. We were already committed to each other in my eyes. I didn’t see the point in the piece of paper, though I do love the ceremony of weddings. I suppose the paper is a necessity for taxes, insurance and whatnot.

Most of the attendees were work friends, so our wedding photos look a little like a work gathering. All in all, it was a wonderful day; the beginning of our lives together. We moved into our house some three months later. Life was good. This wonderful man had joined our family, bravely taking on kids who were not his own and the accompanying ex-husband.

I woke up this morning crying as I remembered driving by the hospice last week on the way to Wendy’s for lunch. I then attempted to visualize a different route to Wendy’s from work. (At 6:00 in the morning, this is not easy.) The route I take on autopilot takes me by the hospice where Jeff spent his last days. I can’t look at it. Can’t even see it in my peripheral vision. This means I have to look in the opposite direction as I drive by, which makes it hard and a bit dangerous to drive. There are still too many reminders, too much pain there. It’s where he took his last breath, spoke his last gibberish, last opened his eyes, where I last held his hand.

I formed the thought today that I didn’t get to say goodbye. Well, I did. But I didn’t. How do you say goodbye to someone who isn’t ready to go? Even his first night at hospice, he didn’t want to lie down. He kept feeling he wanted to go to the bathroom, but as he would sit on the side of the bed trying to gather strength, the feeling would pass. He was too groggy and weak anyway. So, I hope he has heard me in the last year when I’ve spoken to him, that he has seen me working and trying my damnedest. I guess the way I’ve said goodbye is by continuing to live.

 

3/7/15

March 7, 2015 in Lymphoma by Reta Reed

Had a bummer day Wednesday. I was driving to work, listening to the Kidd Kraddick show on the radio. They were talking about a Kidd’s Kid, Rowan, who has a pancreatic disease and needed a bone marrow transplant. This 8-year-old kid has been struggling with a chronic/terminal disease but is still raising money for Kidd’s Kids by selling his autographs, lemonade, whatever he can do. He has spent 900 days in the hospital, has had 69 trips to the ER. The last thing I heard was that his siblings were tested and they had good news. I had to change the station. Not because I was touched for this young boy, but because I was feeling sorry for myself. I was jealous.

Of course, I wanted so much for Jeff to be able to at least have the opportunity to get a bone marrow/stem cell transplant. Every hope hung on the possibility that it would cure him, or give him more time. It would have turned our lives around. We were going to be better together. Everything was going to be rosy.

I also wished he had been taking better care of himself and that he had never gotten sick in the first place. But then, we would have likely continued on in our “okay” lives, going through the motions, taking each other for granted, doing what we felt was our best at the time, with nothing to snap us out of it. That made me even sadder.

The cold, crappy weather doesn’t help my mood, either. At least we had a little fun in the snow while it lasted.