Sunday, June 27, 2010

"I can't think about that right now. If I do, I'll go crazy. I'll think about that tomorrow."

It's been one of those weeks, where one by one each member of this family has gotten on my nerves so badly that I would have gladly voted them off the island, if given the opportunity.  And around day six, when even my precious six month old started to wear me down a little, I had to ask myself.... Is it really ALL of THEM or is it ME?  I hate asking myself that question.  Sometimes, I make up excuses for everyone else... Bert's just stressed with work, so he's taking it out on me;  Her Highness is bored, not seeing her friends everyday;  Thunder is sleepy, since he stayed up too late last night;  Lightning's had too much sugar today;  Hail is just being... well, Hail;  And Flash Flood must be cutting a tooth.  Those excuses worked for another day or so.  But when I screamed at our sweet doggie for having the nerve to scratch the back door in request for fresh cold water and food, I realized, it's not THEM... It's this heat!  No, really, it's ME. 

Wednesday, I hoped going to Zumba would help work out some of the hormones and stress.  I've enjoyed going to Zumba for the last three weeks.  One of my best friends is teaching, and many of my girlfriends are attending the class with me, so it's been a super fun way to sweat and not realize just how hard we're working. But on Wednesday night, kharma decided to bite me for being so fussy with my family all week.

Not 10 minutes into the class, while doing a very simple side-step move, something snapped in my right knee.  It felt as if there were a rubber band in there, and it had been pulled as far as it could, then let go.  Pain shot all through my knee, and ran up and down my leg for a moment.  I continued through the class, trying my best not to put any pressure on the right side.  For those of you who have been to Zumba, you can imagine how ridiculous I looked, trying to keep all pressure on the left side.  As if my moves weren't goofy enough.  I used to consider myself a dancer.  I once thought of myself as a half-way decent athlete.  I think all my coordination must have been sucked from my body, when delivering these five children, because when I first began doing Zumba, I was dumbfounded by how hard I had to concentrate to do the moves.  It was slowly coming back to me though.  I was finally starting to feel more comfortable doing the cha-cha and the mamba.  That is, until Wednesday night.

I hobbled in the door nearly in tears.  Bert made a giant icepack and forced me to sit for 20 minutes.  The next morning, my knee was HUGE.  And continued to swell throughout the day.  By Friday, the swelling went down a bunch, but the pain was still there.  Since then, the swelling has continued to diminish, and the pain is not as severe.  But, I still cannot straighten my leg or bend it fully.

I haven't been to the doctor yet, because I wanted to see if it would feel better on its own.  And it is.  Just not as quickly as I would like. 

The fact is, I'm getting old.  Thinking of 29 as old is laughable to some.  But when I compare myself at 29 to myself at 19.... I could eat nothing but frozen pizza and popcorn, work out without ever warming up, stay up until 2am, eat an entire tube of cookie dough for a snack, then get up for an 8:00 class and feel great.  Now, I'm having to make sure and eat enough fiber to stay "regular," work out like a geriatric, go to bed by 8:00 and drink two cups of coffee just to see straight.  And if cookie dough comes near my lips, it shows up on my thighs by 8am.  Oh, 19 year old self.... I sure do miss you.  Sigh.

Then, on top of a hormonally wild emotional roller coaster kinda week, this morning I tried to upload 175 pictures and videos to my computer.  I got a new iPhone.  Not the newest new one, but the newer old one.  I previously had an iphone that was a hand-me-down from a friend.  It died, as all technology does in this house.  Storms and technology just don't mix.  So, since we were eligible for an upgrade, Bert got me another iphone.  This morning I was planning to sit down and upload all the photos and videos from the last few weeks.  We celebrated Her Highness' and Lightning's birthdays, and did some other fun summery things, that I captured with my iphone, since the camera on there shoots pretty good photos and video.  And since my camera sucks worse than a mosquito, I was happy to have such a clear and convenient way to capture our memories. 

I plugged that sucker into my computer this morning, but since it was the first time I had, it asked me if I would like to "restore" my settings.  I skimmed down through the tiny print and saw, "restore contacts."  "Heck yes I do!" I said as I clicked away, because at the AT&T store they were unable to retrieve my contacts for some reason, when they sold us the new phone, so I've been using a phone book, (gasp!) to look up numbers. 

As my computer and phone began restoring one another, they forgot to mention that in the process, ALL NEW PHOTOS AND VIDEOS WOULD BE LOST.  LOST.  As in GONE.  FOREVA. Squints' voice, (from Sandlot) keeps ringing in my head, "FOR-EV-ER. FOR-EV-ER. FOR-EV-ER."  A hard lump filled my throat when I tried to swallow.  My mind began racing as a montage from the last month played:
There were the videos of Her Highness and Thunder performing a duet as "Taylor Swiss and Justin Beeper."  ...the video of Lightning plugging his ears as everyone sang Happy Birthday... Her Highness making a wish and blowing out her seven candles.... Hail swimming across the pool... Lightning riding his new "big boy" bike for the first time... Thunder learning how to dive....

  I immediately unplugged my phone and called customer service.  I explained, fighting the quiver in my voice, what had happened.  "Surely there's something we can do to retrieve them!  There were 175 pictures and videos from my kids' birthdays!  Surely!"  I could practically hear the lady rolling her eyes as she explained, for the third time, "No.  Not since you have a Dell.  But if you had an Apple computer, we probably could have.  I'm sorry."  That's when I started to cry.  And I didn't stop for about an hour. 

Bert proposed we throw another round of parties and video it all again.  Her Highness was on board for that. I rolled my eyes at them both.  I do have a couple photos that were taken with my crapola camera.  But, they're fuzzy.  And I realize that the memories were made, but as I already mentioned, with the rest of my body falling apart, I'm afraid my mind is to go next. 

(Enter background music from Gone with the Wind, and read the remainder of this post with a Scarlett O'Hara accent)

So, until I can get over my loss,  I will be hostessing a Pity Party in my honor.   You're all invited.  Gifts of chocolate and Chardonnay will be accepted. Along with mopping.  And folding laundry.  Yes, surely all of those things would make poor lil' me feel better.  We can even party for your pity if you want.  Just grab a hankie (and a bottle of Chardonnay) and come on over. 

I'm quite ridiculous, I do realize.  I blame my heritage.

Now, if you will excuse me... It's time for Rhett, err, I mean, Bert to bring me an icepack for my knee.  And if I can look pitiful enough, perhaps he'll give me a massage too.  Or, he may just say, in typical Rhett/Bert fashion, "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn."

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

You ever have one of those days when....

...You look around and ask yourself... Is this really MY life??? Does my house REALLY look this bad by 9:00 every. single. morning??? Is there even a point in straightening those frames for the fifth time... today?

Are these REALLY my children??? ALL of them???

Oh, my. Looks are so deceiving.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

To: My Daddy Dearest

Dear Daddy,

You were my first love. And though I've fallen hard over the years for some other men , (Bert and The Storm) my heart has continued to grow, because I love you even more now than I did back then....

I love all the memories I have of you singing to us, especially "In the Shadow of His Wings." I love hearing you sing it still, to my children.

I love that you always made us recite the Books of The Bible on the way to church... Every. Sunday. Morning.

I love the way you always smell of fresh soap and Old Spice aftershave.

I love that you have always written sweet notes when you could tell I was stressed out....

I love that you always get my jokes, and laugh, even when no one else does.

I love that you grit your teeth and talk with them clinched when you see or hear of an accident or even a near accident with any of the children. And remind us, with your teeth still clinched, while pausing in between words, "Y'all have got... to be... careful... with those children." And that you used to do the very same thing when we were children, and gotten sunburned, or injured.

I love that you were always such a stickler for both sunscreen and seat belts. By doing that, you've saved our lives more than once, I'm sure of it.

I love that you taught me what to look for in a husband, by being exactly what I needed to look for.

I love that on my wedding day you were just like Steve Martin in Father of the Bride, and nearly left me, to go sit by Momma, when it was almost time to walk me down the aisle. It's one of my favorite memories of that day. You raised my vale, kissed me sweetly, and said, "I love you, Holly Berry." Then turned to join the wedding guests already seated. For a moment I thought you must be walking over to the sound booth, to tell them I was ready, then I realized you were taking a turn towards the aisle. So I tried to whisper, "Daddy." Then, when you didn't turn back, I had to get a little louder, though still a whisper, "DADDY!" Finally, in a hoarse attempt to keep the attention off the scene I was creating, I screamed (softly), "DAAAAADDDDYYY!" You turned around, quickly realizing you had forgotten your escort, shook your head, then came back over to me and said, "I would have remembered before I sat down!" We both laughed heartily and hugged tightly, one last time with me as your single daughter. I'm sure in your head you heard "Sunrise, Sunset" instead of "Trumpet Voluntary."

I love that you've only ever had eyes for our Momma, and made sure you told her that, in front of us, repeatedly. But, even if you had never told us, we would have known by the way you've always treated her.

I love that my boys always want to be with you. And beg to call Cookie, then ask for you as soon as she answers the phone.

"A good father is one of the most unsung, unpraised, unnoticed, and yet one of the most valuable assets in our society." -- Billy Graham

I love that you have always contributed to our society by not only being a great Father to your biological children, but also to the many lives you have touched in the many places you have volunteered, and been a wonderful example of what a Father should be, for those who didn't have one.

I love that when you taught me how to ride my bike, you were there to scoop me up each time I fell off, hugged me for a moment, then forced me to get back on and try again, even though I didn't really want to... And I love that you've done that exact same thing in many other areas of my life, each time I fell.

I love that you always put your family's needs above your own, no matter what the circumstance. I'm sure you would have enjoyed a much newer car, but still drove that old as dirt Ford truck until it had over 300,000 miles on it, so that you could save up to put FIVE children through college... with no loans. I'm still amazed by that fact, and never had fully appreciated you for those sacrifices, until I had my own five to worry about and feed.

I love that you are not only a good Father, but a LEADER as well.

I love that you have always put GOD first, and made it your goal to teach us to do the same.

I love you, Daddy.

Happy Father's Day!

Love, Your Holly Berry

And, Bert... Happy Father's Day to you too. Since you're not a huge fan of touch-feely stuff, you can just re-read this post from last year: "Happy Fadda's Day!" I love you!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Heart Attack Inducing Little Turkey...

If I have a heart attack before I'm 30, this Little Turkey is why...

Hail is fearless around the water. He can actually swim, which makes me even more nervous when we're at the pool/lake. My Momma always said, "There's nothing more dangerous than a two year old boy." And I'm believing that statement now, more than ever.

I was having a hard enough time letting my big kids jump off the "plack-ferm."
And then Hail decided to venture up that way....

And insisted on going alone, since he's a "big boy." All two and a half years of him...

You may notice one member of The Storm missing from those shots. Lightning, though most definitely our toughest when it comes to handling pain (and giving it) prefers to relax in the water. He reserves his super hero stunts for the pool....

While Flash Flood hangs out in the shade and calls me over from time to time to kiss all over those sweet rolls....
Hope y'all are enjoying your summer as much as we are!
I've got to go take my daily baby aspirin....

Friday, June 11, 2010

Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear.... and Fuzzy Rita was a guinea pig

...and I'm happy to report, Fuzzy Rita still is a guinea pig, though at moments, I had my doubts she would make it. Let me back up just a second...

When Her Highness, Flash Flood and I returned from our trip, the entire family hugged and kissed as we typically do when reuniting. We told of our adventures and things we'd seen while away, hugged each other some more, then heard the adventures of those who were left behind.
Bert interrupted the weekend recap to say, "Oh, hey. I got something to tell you. Promise you won't get mad?" I hate when things are presented in such a manner. "No, I don't." is my typical reply. "Well, The McElroy's are heading out of town early in the morning so I told them we would be happy to keep Fuzzy Rita...." waiting for my response, he paused to read my anger meter, then added, "...for four days."

The thing is, I wasn't mad at all. I love The McElroy Family very much. I am more than happy to help them out anytime and anyway we can. But, Fuzzy Rita is a family pet they love dearly and have had for a long time. I was nervous and scared about having Fuzzy Rita's life in my hands... and even more nervous about her life being in The Storm's hands, literally.

My anguish over such matters stems from an experience in pet sitting that happened in the sixth grade. Our class had two baby bunnies that had tragically lost their mother. Mrs. Hutchingson's sixth grade was planning to nurse the babies back to health, then set them free in the wild later in the year. During spring break, since Mrs. Hutchingson had vacation plans, and I had pet bunny experience (which is laughable) I was elected as Spring Break Baby Bunny Pet Sitter. I was ecstatic. I ran all the way to my Mother's classroom across campus, squealing with delight, and a rattly cage filled with pellet pooping bunnies, whose days on this earth were diminishing quickly, unbeknownst to us all.

I'll never forget the look on my Momma's face when I popped into her classroom with that cage in hand. She grinned, I'm sure thinking it was a prank being pulled, since she was the school prankster, then pursed her lips before saying, "I guess since we do have two other rabbits at home, we can handle these two as well."

I think those bunnies lasted three days. If that long. I walked down to our garage, where the cage was being kept, and noticed how sweetly they were both sleeping. Then, worried when only one of them woke to eat. Then cried when I realized the other wasn't asleep, but dead. My Daddy took it into the woods, in a small box of some sort, and buried it in our own pet cemetery. I was sad all day, thinking about what in the world I had done wrong. I was mortified later, to find the other one had passed away too, from heart ache. At least, that's the way my Mom tried to package it, to help me cope with my loss. "Honey, it's not your fault at all. He died because he was so lonely for his brother, so now they are in bunny heaven together, jumping and eating carrots."

The rest of spring break, I dreaded facing Mrs. Hutchingson and my class.
Each night that week was filled with nightmares... I just knew the entire class would line up to spit on me and use cuss words out of context, since that's the only way we knew to use them then.

I felt sick returning to school that Monday, empty handed. I was thrilled when Mrs. Hutchingson took the fall and announced that it was impossible to save the baby bunnies, since they were too young to survive without their Mother, and apologized in front of the whole class for putting that stress on me. The burden was lifted immediately, when I realized none of the sweet kids in my class were planning to spit on me during PE, or use any bad words like, "You're dumb as hell, Holly. Way to go." None of my fears were realized, as the class didn't seem to even care. We played our usual silly games during recess, and cheered for the boys who were our "boyfriends" that we never even talked to, as they played football on the dirt field. And, I was relieved.

So, it was this experience that made me nervous about pet sitting for a small pet that was loved so dearly by The McElroy Family. Knowing how The Storm lovingly kills frogs, lizards, and anything else that can't get away fast enough added to my stress. The only pets that can weather our Storm are sturdy ones... like cats and dogs who can run away quickly if need be. Knowing Fuzzy Rita would be in a cage, and unable to make a quick get away made me sweat.

Day ONE was filled with oohs and ahhs and Rules: "Momma! Look at the bunny! I wanna hold her!" "Honey, that's a guinea pig, not a bunny.... Remember, only pet her gently.... No, you cannot hold her like that. Hold her like this, and pet her gently.... GENTLY! No, she only gets food twice a day.... We already fed her this morning. NO MORE FOOD!... Go wash your hands, you just touched her poop. No, that's not her food, that's her poop!!... Please don't mess with her water bottle. Gross, don't try and drink out of it!!.... Lock the cage back after you pet her. Because she can get out and run away, and while I wouldn't blame her, I don't want to find her and her poo-poo pellets in my clean laundry pile.... Go wash your hands again!.... GENTLY!!!..... NO MORE FOOD FOR HER!!!........"

Day TWO: "Momma, can I hold the chipmunk please? It's my turn to feed that chipmunk!"
"No, your brother already fed her. And it's a guinea pig. DON'T FEED HER AGAIN!"

Day THREE: "Who wants to feed Fuzzy Rita? Who wants to hold her?" Silence. "Has anyone fed her yet?" Silence. "I said, does anyone want a turn to feed her?" "Momma, I already played with that bunny today. You can have a turn to feed her." "Fine, I'll feed the chipmunk-bunny then."

Same song, different verse. Every pet we own (two cats and a dachshund who suffers with Napoleon syndrome) start out belonging to the kids and Bert. And after the excitement dies down a little for the kids, Bert takes over... for a little while. Then, slowly but surely, they all become MINE. Which is exactly why when Fuzzy Rita was safely returned (alive and well) to her home with The McElroy's, I laughed at the kids' request to go buy our own bunny-chipmunk-guinea pig.

Congratulations, Fuzzy Rita. You weathered The Hudson Storm. May your life be long and happy after surviving such a feat. You can proudly brag to your bunny-chipmunk-guinea pig friends, as if you've climbed Mt. Everest. You certainly earned the right.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

"Oh, they say when you marry in June, you're a bride all of your life..."

June is such a lovely month for weddings. This past weekend, I traveled with Her Highness and Flash Flood to visit some of my most favorite relatives on my Mother's side.The Startup Family (pictured above... picture stolen from Facebook. Thanks, Al!) is a great family, all around. Funny, good-looking, great personalities, smart, and truly on-fire for GOD are just a few of the characteristics I can name about Allison, Don and their three sons: Drew, Will and Nick. (Sidenote: Will has a neat blog where you can read for yourself to see what I'm talking about when it comes to the character of these handsome guys: The Startupdate.)

I have such fond memories of the Startup Family and our fun get togethers. This past weekend will be added to the long list of wonderful memories, as I got to witness the youngest of the Startup boys, Nick, marry the love of his life, Allie. We didn't get to spend nearly enough time together, as you never do at a wedding, but we soaked up every second we could.

Her Highness was honored to be asked to serve at the reception, and thoroughly enjoyed her roll as "waitress." Grinning ear to ear, she walked around to each table asking, "Excuse me, are you finished with your plates?" And would take the empty plates and cups to the trash can for the other wedding guests. Each time someone would respond, "Why, thank-you. Aren't you so cute!" Her Highness would giggle and say, "It's my pleasure." Every few tables she cleared, she would skip over to our table and exclaim, "This is soooo FUN! It's like being a waitress! I really love my job!"

Her Highness' "job" continued after the reception when she got to pass out tiny bells to be rung as the Bride and Groom made their exit to the "limino" that was waiting for them outside the church building, red carpet and all.

Flash Flood soaked up all the attention he got from his Cookie and Grandy. I missed the rest of The Storm, but it was nice to be able to sit and chat without worrying who was sticking their fingers in the groom's cake and who was going to knock over the punch bowl. After the Bride and Groom left, we said our goodbyes and headed out on the second part of our journey, which was a huge surprise for Her Highness....

With her seventh birthday quickly approaching, Cookie and Grandy wanted to give Her Highness an early present. Her Highness is big into the American Girl Dolls and books right now, so Cookie added to her collection and gave her Kit. We then took a quick trip to the American Girl store.

Her Highness excitedly told Cookie as we entered the store, "Oh, wow. This is definitely going to make my Momma's blog!!"
We danced down the aisles and tried on cute (over-priced) hats.

We showed Molly and Kit how good they had it, living in the Hudson House with The Storm. Life with four boys may be rough at times, but they could be living in a glass box like poor Rebecca.

Flash Flood enjoyed looking at the Bitty Babies and tried to strike up a conversation. He was a trouper the entire day.
I'm not so sure the rest of The Storm would have enjoyed our trip quite like he did.
Bert and the boys did some male bonding, which included the usual things men do when they're home alone... not sure what all that entails, but I do know that my house was turned upside down. Well worth it though, as we were all happy to reunite late that night. It's fun to get away sometimes, but I missed that crazy bunch and loved getting tons of hugs and kisses once we finally returned.
Her Highness wasn't the only one to get surprised that day. Bert had one waiting for me too, and her name is Fuzzy Rita............