What is happening? Part 1

So many things have happened in the last week, I don’t know where to start. It feels like a year has passed in a week. I will try to start at the beginning.

My faith feels tested. I’ve been asking God for a sign. But so many bizarre things have happened within a week that I don’t know how to interpret them.

It started last Friday as I was picking Arabella up from volunteering at Bible camp. I finally got a call from the doctor’s office. I don’t have Celiac and the polyps that were removed are benign. My stomach is starting to feel better. The doctor said if I went off Prilosec too fast, it will cause an excessive amount of acid to pour into my stomach. That is probably what happened, but I scheduled an appointment for allergy testing anyway.

Friday night a huge storm hit where our cabin is up north causing massive damage. I think that the power finally went back on yesterday. What a mess that will be to clean up. There were multiple trees down. Thankfully no one was hurt and the cabin is fine.

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Saturday morning we awoke to get ready for my Uncle Rick’s wedding. He had a whirlwind romance proposing 36 hours after meeting and moving in with her the following week. They married 7 months later, her 4th wedding and his 3rd. They seem like a good match. I really hope it works out for them.

We were going to leave early to meet up with my brother Luke and his family for lunch. It was my daughter Angel’s 21st birthday the following day and more than anything she wanted to meet up with the family for sushi. Just as we were ready to leave, another severe storm rolled in. There was a tornado warning for the path of our house, the restaurant we made reservations at, and where the wedding was going to be held.

The sky grew dark as night and sirens were going off. The wind swirled around in many different directions. Lightening bolts slashed through the sky as thunder clapped to usher in a torrential downpour. The rain came down so hard and fast that it poured into my son’s bedroom. After the storm passed, we mopped up the water as fast as we could in our dress clothes. We were running very late for lunch. Paul was an usher for the wedding and Angel was singing. They couldn’t be late. I worried that perhaps my uncle’s union wasn’t meant to be.

We made it to the restaurant an hour after our reservations. There were only a handful of customers. The place was always a classy joint, but on that day the music was the chef’s choice. They were playing rap. When a song came on with lyrics containing every profanity known to man, my brother Luke quietly left the table and complained to management that their choice of music was not appropriate for his little girls.

The wedding itself was held in a small church without A/C. I was a little worried that all of our cell phones would go off with the weather alarm during the ceremony, but the weather turned around. After the ceremony, there was a reception with an open bar. Once one of my aunt’s found out that Angel was turning 21, she started plying her with alcohol. Why wait?

It was at about this time that my son told me he no longer believes in God. I wanted to reassure him but I reminded myself that I was having my own crisis of faith. When I was having the most doubt, other people started cramming their faith down my throat which weakened my faith even more. I knew from my experience that I just had to listen. He left after the meal telling me that his rap band had their first gig that evening, but I wasn’t invited. He turned off his locator on his phone and returned home between 4 and 6 AM.

My daughter Angel caught the bouquet. Will she be the next to marry? As she danced with her boyfriend Dan, I thought perhaps she would be.

That evening Paul and I took advantage of a stunning sunset after weathering the storm.

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And the two shall become one.

To be continued…

Still waiting for answers

I turned 45 this past weekend. Apparently I am now at the age where I can start to have long conversations with people about my declining health.

I had big plans for my birthday. I mean you only turn 45 once, as if I didn’t turn 29 or 44 once. Okay, I guess I did turn 29 a couple times.

Anyway, on Saturday the sailing club was having a pub crawl cruise. What a perfect way to celebrate my birthday. After all, I love craft beer, sailing, music festivals, great weather, and fun people. We were going to sail into town, go to a few breweries, and listen to live music. Perfect for a birthday weekend. Right?

But there was one problem, my stomach. I had a huge late lunch at our first pub stop along with everyone else and ordered a beer flight. I have to follow a perfect algorithm if I don’t want to be in pain. My stomach can’t be totally empty, but I can’t eat too much either especially paired with drinking. I couldn’t take my time because everyone wanted to head off to the next spot. Taking Tums for me is like putting a tiny bandage on a gushing spurting head wound.

I ended up in a great deal of stomach pain again like I have been off and on since I stopped taking Prilosec. I ordered nothing at the next pub and kept quietly to myself since I was in a lot of pain. Everyone asked me if I was feeling okay. I had to go through the whole health explanation that I went in to be scoped and was waiting for the results of my Celiac test. It was awful. I was hoping not to have to mention the health issues I was having and just have a fun time.

Then we walked a block to the music festival. I was asked if I would be able to walk the whole block to the festival. I am a marathon runner. I felt very sick and thought if I couldn’t find a place to sit I would lie down on the ground. People kept asking me over and over if I was okay. It was humiliating, I just wanted to be left alone. There were people everywhere. I decided to go back to the boat and lie down.

At one point even a homeless man came up to me and asked if I was alright. I know people were genuinely concerned, but it was really wrecking my tough girl persona. I don’t know what hurt worse, my stomach or my pride.

So this is how it has been. I have not been feeling well and have been waiting for answers to figure out how I can feel better again.

I had friends over on Sunday. I felt a little better because I was at home and could eat and drink at my leisure. We went swimming but spent most of the day sitting around talking and laughing.

Paul tried really hard to make the weekend special for me. He cooked my favorite foods and entertained with his music. I realized that I don’t share my music with other people. A majority of the songs I like, although good, are incredibly depressing or angry. Kind of like me I guess.

I’m still waiting for answers. The doctor’s office said that I would most likely get a call on Friday, Monday at the latest. Here it is Tuesday evening. Don’t they understand how frustrating it can be for patients to tell them they would have answers sooner than provided especially if they are not feeling well?

Waiting…

A pirate looks at 50

Today my husband Paul turned the big 50.

We don’t have big plans for the day. We have play practice tonight. Paul, Arabella, and I tried out for the local community theater’s musical last week. Paul got the lead part and tonight is the first rehearsal.

This past weekend, I threw Paul a huge party with 70 of our closest friends and family. Just kidding. In my calculations, I didn’t know 6 out of the 70 people that showed up. It was a great day, no rain, and not too chilly. Since I hosted the party by myself, I decided to have food catered in. It was pricey, but worth every dollar.

This was the first party I hosted at our new house and this was the biggest party I ever hosted. It was stressful to know how much food to get, etc… Some people showed up that¬† weren’t expected and some didn’t that I thought would. My guess was that we would have 64 people, so I wasn’t too far off.

If I could do it all over again, I would’ve asked someone specifically to take pictures. I didn’t take any. I just didn’t have time.

Alissa, there is a child swimming alone and unattended in the pool. Alissa, we need a plunger. Alissa, the faucet isn’t working and I can’t turn off the hot water. Alissa, Alissa, ALISSA!!!!!!!

I loved every minute of it though. The planning, preparation, and especially cleaning up afterwards. I worried though. I wondered if I got enough food and drinks. Would the weather be nice? What if I drop the cake? What if it rained? Or snowed? What if it was too cold?

The worst thing that happened was that I felt sick with allergies/head cold the week of the party. It made cleaning and preparing on top of my regular schedule that much more demanding.

From what I heard, everyone had a great time. In fact, someone suggested that I host a party once a month. We’ll see about that!

Fortune cookie wisdom #14

You never suffer from a money problem, you always suffer from an idea problem.

Before we start today, I want to tell you that this is not my fortune. My daughter Angel received this on her 20th birthday. My fortune was so boring I left it behind. Paul’s fortune said that his life would be filled with happiness and peace or some crap like that. He is always the luckiest! I mean, he does have me after all…Ha ha…anyway..

So as of this past weekend, my oldest is no longer a teenager. Wonderful news! Now I only have two teenagers. But I am not about to change my about page anytime soon.

Angel was a great teenager to raise…although there was that little blip right at the end that really showed she was a teenager. At times she was a little mouthy, but she also is an endless optimist, has leadership skills, has charisma, woo, maturity, and is beautiful both inside and out. The good far out weighs the bad. She is so charming that the rest of us have a hard time keeping up.

Most days go well for Angel, but her birthday was a little rough. She wanted to go sailing to the beach but the weather was not favorable. It was windy, rainy, and cool. Rumor has it that a sailboat capsized at the sailing club that very day. So we sat around home and didn’t do much which was a mild form of torture for me.

I did pick up a new hobby though..Weeding! How come none of you gardeners told me how therapeutic it could be?? I weeded for hours, until my carpal tunnel acted up.

Anyway, back to the birthday…Angel wanted Paul and I to take Dan and her out for sushi. Dan never had sushi before and it is one of Angel’s favorite foods. Dan totally hated it. He stayed out late with friends the night before, was crabby, and fell asleep once we got back home. Angel played her music, an opera song that she is hoping to be able to sing by the end of graduate school. Dan said he didn’t care for the song. Oh boy!

Other than that, things have been going well with Dan.

We are hoping to take Dan and Angel out sailing to the beach before she has to go back to college…We’ll see what happens.

I hope she doesn’t run out of time, ideas, or money.

 

My 4th marathon

On Thursday night, or I should say in the wee hours of Friday morning, I picked my family of travelers up from their vacation. As I went to bed at 3 AM, I dreaded the thought that I would be getting up in a little over 24 hours around the time I was going to bed that night to run my 4th marathon.

I didn’t get much sleep, but took Friday off to pack and get ready for camping. My husband went into work for a couple hours and was suffering from jet lag. We had to drive three hours to get to the campground.

We set up camp as a storm was blowing in. The torrential downpour started as soon as we had the tent set up. It rained two inches that night. When we went to pick up our race packets, one of the tents collapsed from the rain. We were going to go to my cousin’s camper for a spaghetti supper, but went out to eat instead. It was hot, humid, and stormed most of the night. But our tent stayed dry for the most part.

I woke up at 4:30 AM after a restless night of sleep. I was dead tired and had to scrape up some energy for a marathon. The marathon itself was brutal. My cousin said that it was the most challenging marathon he ever did. There were some very difficult steep inclines. We had to walk across slippery bridges and wet rocks. I didn’t fall, but I saw others fall and almost fell myself several times.

It was a very picturesque course with beautiful views at the top of the bluffs. It seemed surreal like I was on a movie set. I was waiting for the dinosaurs to come out at any minute. Even though it was a rather remote trail run, there were enough bathrooms and aid stations. I even drank some pickle juice which seems to be the new craze.

It was a tough race, but we finished it. Afterwards, we decided to head to the beach to cool our aching legs. I was only in the water for 10 minutes when someone took my beach towel. The beach was absolutely crowded on a hot Saturday afternoon.

Showering was another challenge. I showered in the handicap stall just because I thought that it would provide an area for me to sit. Undressing and dressing was a bit of a challenge. There was nowhere to sit and there was a lot of standing dirty water on the floor. So I decided to dress from the waist up and go into the dryer bathroom portion to get my shorts on.

I wrapped a towel around my waist for the short trip outside to the bathroom. When I walked into the bathroom, there was a man inside. He seemed to be checking on the cleanliness of the bathroom. He put his initials on the paper by the door and exited quickly. The bathroom and shower stalls were absolutely filthy. I struggled to get my pants on without having to take another shower.

That evening, my cousin and his wife made the spaghetti dinner that the storm prevented us from having the previous night. His dad and step-mother came over for a visit and wished me a happy birthday. They brought homemade strawberry shortcake. It was a nice evening.

After that, I spent another restless night trying to sleep in the tent. My body ached and I couldn’t get comfortable…Sunday morning we packed up for the long ride back home. I couldn’t relax. I found myself feeling agitated and depressed. Although my body ached, my mind couldn’t sit still. I took the dog for a walk when I got home and felt a little better…then had another restless night of sleep.

I think I had one good night of sleep in the last month. Staying up until 3 AM and then getting up very early to run a marathon probably pushed me over the edge. I hope I feel like my old self soon. Tomorrow I’m getting a massage. Maybe that will help.

May the fours be with me

I’m turning 44 this weekend. In celebration, I’m going to run my 4th marathon. Boy, that’s a lot of fours..I didn’t really notice that until now. I sure hope it’s my lucky number!

This is going to be one of the most challenging races to date. I am exhilarated and absolutely terrified at the same time.

The course is going to be breathtakingly beautiful and treacherous. I read the reviews of the race. The first three reviews said to expect to fall. After that I quit reading. I am going to be running a marathon through the bluffs. Predictably, there will be a lot of sharp inclines and steep descents. I can’t imagine why anyone would fall?

Supposedly, the rocky path is worse if it rains. So far, the whole weekend is predicted to be stormy. It is supposed to be hot, very humid, and chances of thunderstorms and rain are at 80% on Friday, 60% on Saturday, and 80% on Sunday. Break a leg then, hey? Not to mention being at the top of the bluffs during a thunderstorm. Or having screamingly sore legs already.

I also heard that there are only 2 bathrooms on the marathon route which is rather problematic for the likes of my old bladder. Do I head for the hills if nature is calling? Will I get lost trying to avoid the onlookers? Or maybe find myself some toilet paper in a patch of poison ivy?

I don’t feel ready for this. Kind of like last year when there were 5 foot waves when I was swimming for the Half Ironman. Seriously, how do you train adequately for that?? In a wave pool??

One of the hardest parts will be sleeping in a tent. I don’t sleep well in my sleep number bed in a dark quiet room with air conditioning. I wonder how I will sleep in a stifling hot tent through storms anxious about the early morning marathon?

The first thing I had to do was find our tent. I can’t remember the last time we slept in a tent. It was at least 5 years ago, back when the kids thought that it was wonderful to hang out with their parents camping for the weekend. We had some awesome adventures camping though. We weathered some pretty scary storms. We hiked, biked, swam, and explored most of the state parks within a three hour radius of our house.

We pretty much stopped camping when we got our sailboat. Now the perfect weekends in the summer month consist of sailing, racing, going up north to the family cabin, or just hanging out around home. Of course, this summer has been a little different with moving and going to Vegas.

I only signed up for one race and this is it! The big hurrah for my birthday weekend!

Folks, this just might be my last birthday.

What did I get myself into this time??!?

May the fours be with me!

 

Moral dilemma 4

This past weekend my son celebrated his 18th birthday. I was probably naive in thinking that absolutely everything was going to go smoothly after his friend sleepover Friday night went pretty well.

Recently my daughter Angel started dating her brother’s friend Dan. It’s complicated because Angel and Dan graduated from high school together and were friends until Angel’s ex boyfriend put the ax to all of her male friends.

Then Dan and Alex started hanging out. They played a song together for solo and ensemble years back. They built a computer together. Alex rode motorcycle with Dan. But then Dan stopped coming over to hang out with Alex.

I was hoping with Dan and Angel dating that they would all be friends. I was hoping for once in their lives that Alex and Angel would get along. But….Alex feels like he lost a friend. Dan is siding with Angel. It started a whole new war in my house.

That takes us back to Saturday night, Alex’s birthday.

Meanwhile, Paul and Arabella sailed to Door County to see a music festival for Father’s Day weekend. The weather was volatile and they had to dodge between storms to get there. It was supposed to be in the 90’s all weekend, but it barely made it up to the 70’s Friday and Saturday. No one on the cruise had proper clothing for the weather.

I made the mistake of inviting Dan and Angel to go to the festival with Alex, his girlfriend, and I. We were going to head up after Angel was done with work. Alex, his girlfriend, and I were going to attend a graduation party until then. It was on the way to the graduation party that Alex told me that he really had a problem with his sister dating his friend. He didn’t want them to go with later in the day.

Now I felt really bad because I asked Angel to come with. Dan was coming to our house after Angel was done working and we would all leave together from there.

Since it was Alex’s birthday and he felt hurt about the relationship, I had to call Angel to tell her that she should not come along with Dan. I felt really torn about making that decision. I don’t like making choices where I have to side with one of my kids. It was awful!

We were at the graduation party when Angel got done with work. Alex and his girlfriend were tubing and I was riding on the boat. It was too noisy to call her so we had to communicate via text which was awful.¬†Maybe you shouldn’t go. It’s your brother’s birthday and he is upset that you are dating his friend.

Alex, his girlfriend, and I met up with Paul and Arabella at the music festival without them. Angel was very upset with me because I invited her and then uninvited her. She sent me texts the whole evening about feeling excluded from the family.

When we got there, it was getting pretty cold out but I had extra warm clothes on the sailboat. What I didn’t realize was that Arabella did not pack any warm clothing and she was wearing mine. I was freezing.

I was also under the misconception that the music festival was outdoors like a fairgrounds where you can listen to music and buy concessions. It was not the case. We walked around to find that later in the day the music was in the bars. You had to pay a $10 cover charge to get in. Everyone hanging out in and around the bars was drunk. It was not what I expected at all.

I didn’t feel comfortable taking Alex’s girlfriend in the bars with us. The whole thing was awful, not what we were expecting at all. So we turned around and drove back home after we found something to eat.

Alex’s birthday was a real dud. Angel was angry with me. Dan felt like we didn’t like or accept him. A lot of it was my fault for having too high of expectations…that the weather would be nice, that the festival would be nice, that my children would magically get along by my daughter dating my son’s friend.

I suppose it could be worse…I have a couple of friends whose moms married their sisters husbands. From what I heard, that really didn’t turn out well.

I always thought it would be nice to be friends with someone that my sibling is dating…

Given some time, maybe Alex will get used to it.

 

 

Moral dilemma 2

I had another moral dilemma recently…Oh believe me, the topics are only going to get progressively worse..

Recently my daughter Arabella celebrated her golden 15th birthday by having a sleepover with some friends.

I’m going to give the disclaimer right now that my kids are I are very open and honest with communication which oftentimes means that I hear a lot of things that I don’t want to hear.

Last year, my daughter wanted me to contact her friend’s mother whom I am a good friend with because her daughter was sharing with my daughter that she was very depressed. This is right around the time that her daughter came out of the closet with her close friends. It was a really hard time for her. Arabella was really worried about her.

I called her friend’s mother and told her that Arabella was worried about how depressed her daughter was. I left it at that. As of right now, I am really the only adult besides my husband and adult daughter that knows about her daughter’s orientation. It really isn’t my place to tell her parents.

But here was the moral dilemma…Arabella’s friend was in a relationship with another girl that was invited to the sleepover. I told Arabella flat out that I did not want anyone in a relationship sleeping together in my house. But remember, I was not supposed to be privy to the information.

Arabella told me that the weekend previous to her party that her two friends in a relationship were having a sleepover together at her friend’s house. Again, I felt that it was not my place to tell their parents.

Arabella told her friends that I knew about their relationship and that I did not want them sleeping together at her party. They were afraid that I would contact their parents.

It is very difficult sometimes to be a carrier of knowledge, the keeper of secrets. Sometimes I would rather be oblivious to what today’s teens are dealing with. Some days I would rather bury my head in the sand…everything is fine and dandy in la la land..

But I also want to be the adult that understands, cares, and listens. I will not break that trust unless, like previously mentioned, I feel like someone could be in danger.

Everything ended up turning out fine in the end. One of the girl’s in the relationship could not attend the sleepover, so that was one less thing to worry about.

Tonight I am hosting a sleepover at our new house for my son’s 18th birthday. What could possibly go wrong??

 

 

Birthday blessings

Today is a special day because it is the golden birthday of the child we recently sponsored in Togo, Africa. I’m sure he won’t be complaining that the birthday money I sent will be a little late.

This child comes from one of the poorest countries in the world. He has a big head and a tiny little emaciated body. Almost half of the people don’t have electricity. Most don’t have indoor bathrooms and have to walk for miles to get clean drinking water. That is their normal. I feel grimy if I can’t shower everyday. Showering is probably the least of their concerns.

The average annual salary in Togo is $400, so the $30 that we are sending him every month is considerable. But what is it to us? We probably spend close to their annual salary in one month of internet and cell phone charges. We are giving $30 out of our excess. Pocket change..coffee for a month..

It reminds me of the Biblical story of the rich man giving a lot of money and the poor widow giving the last of her money. Who gave more? The rich man. But did he really when the widow gave everything she had?

We had the opportunity to sponsor a child years ago but didn’t. Money was tight starting a business on one income with 3 little mouths to feed. It seemed practical to not spend any extra money. We didn’t give when we had little to give.

The child we sponsor sent a letter saying that he was praying that God would bless us for our giving. I’ll admit, it did give me warm fuzzies. But am I really that great if I am giving out of my excess? Maybe I should sponsor 100 children…but I would have to give up blogging to write all of those letters.

To tell you the truth, it is really hard to relate to a child whose favorite toy is a ball. He would be overjoyed to receive a new ball for his birthday. A ball? Not the newest iPhone? Or how about a fidget spinner? Or is that fad over now?? That’s right, most of the children in Togo don’t have the opportunity to stay in school. The literacy rate is horrifying, not to mention how the kids become easy target for sex trafficking.

Someday we would like to visit our child in Togo. I think it would be a humbling experience. Paul and I always spoke of doing a mission trip. We would love to help people rebuild their lives. But we wouldn’t be able to commit to anything until after our children grow up.

Paul mentioned how nice it would be to go to Togo to bring our sponsor child home with us to the land of milk and honey. Or the land of beer and cheese depending on how you view Wisconsin.

Can you imagine what it would be like to place an iPhone in the hands of a child who lived his whole life without electricity? He would be sickened by our excess.

Is it arrogant to think that our way of life is better?? I mean, my kids don’t call me a blessing every time they nickel and dime ($5 and $10) me. Which, come to think of it, happens pretty often.

I bet the food our country throws away in one day would be enough to feed another country. Remember the guilt trip our parents took us on about the starving kids in Africa when we didn’t eat all of our food? If only our parents could’ve sent our food there.

I think the average American would love to help those in desperate need if they could. If they can’t physically help, they would love to send money. The problem is that we are afraid. We all know of someone that was scammed. We cannot trust that our money is going to where it is supposed to go. There are some bad people out there that really ruin things for the people that need help.

Regardless, I feel blessed to help a child. Happy birthday to my other ‘son’.

 

 

Competing against the clock

My birthday is coming up in a few days. To celebrate, I am going to do my first Half Ironman. It just sounds so wrong. Maybe what people say about me is true…overachiever…workaholic..

Would I have more fun sitting on the couch watching a Netflix marathon instead of doing an actual marathon? Probably not!

I really don’t like the taper week. When you are used to working out an hour or three at a time it is physically hard to take it easy. I have to push myself to sit still. My mind is restless and my body is antsy. I want to run off the nervousness inside.

Last night I had my first pre-race nightmare that something was wrong with my bike. The seat was too low and I couldn’t adjust it. I had to bike through crowds of people, but couldn’t seem to make the pedals work right.

To tell you the truth, I am terrified of doing the Half Iron. More terrified than turning another year older. I feel like I am racing against time. I am not competing against you, nor me. I am competing against the clock.

I talked to some others over the past few weeks…I used to run marathons when I was young like you..That implies that someday this will all end.

The sands of time slip through my fingers… I never thought that I would be old. I never thought my kids would grow up. I always pictured us stuck in time at the perfect age. The age when we first met and fell in love. The age when our kids were little and had full confidence that we had all the answers.

It is horrifying to let go. My son got his motorcycle license yesterday. My daughter left for college last year and said that this is her last summer she plans on coming home. They are doing adult things like holding down a job.

When the terror sets in about what I am about to do…a Half Iron…I think back on all that I have already accomplished…3 marathons…WOW. If I fail miserably, I still have accomplished more than most people I know.

When I start feeling the horror of my lack of control as a parent, I have to remind myself that I have teens that are growing up to be wonderful responsible young adults.

As I turn another year older, I think about how much I’ve learned and how much more life is in front of me. If I look back to where I came from, it is pretty amazing that I got this far.