Friday, September 28, 2012

Nothin' fancy...

When you stop for a minute and sit down, do you fall asleep?  Is that normal or am I becoming an old woman at 48?  As Mac would say, "D, all of the above, Mom."  

Yeah, he's right...all of the above.  Today started early in the morning when my cat brought a mouse, alive and in bed at 3:45 am because he loves me so much.  I jumped up,  ran around the room and then shut the bedroom door and went back to sleep.

The alarm went off at 6 and I woke my youngest up.  He is like a bear...sleeping and snoring and not wanting to get out of bed.  It takes a wake up every 5 minutes for him to finally get up.  As I was thinking I would call Jim in London and tell him it was his fault that we had mice, the phone rang...at about 6:15 and it was Jim.  Weird, huh?  We caught up on the day and believe it or not, discussed how we missed each other...how we do better when we are both home.  

Howie and I put the dogs out, shut the house down, drove to school...him driving, and then me to the gym.  Talk about no energy and total body fatigue...you could find my name in that column.  I was pouring sweat, complaining the whole time and just miserable.  All the beautiful ladies that I aspire to be were cheering me on.  "Come on Terry, you can do it"  and finally I said, "Isn't anyone tired today...come on."  They said they were but they have way less body to exercise and I guess that helps.  Anyway, I made it through the class and wished I could go home and nap.  Nope, not today.

I headed over to the office and figured out my day.  5 patients to get taken care of.  "I can do this" I thought.  Went about my day pretty uneventfully, thank God.  Then to the grocery store to shop for the band.  Need to get the final items to feed the gang tomorrow at the competition.

Finished shopping, headed to pick up Howie from baseball practice and began to cook.  As we speak, there are 75 potatoes baking in my oven, two pots of chili on the stove (regular and veggie), onions, chives, tomatoes and lettuce chopped up in the fridge.  The car has 120 little waters on ice for pre-show water, an "on the bus breakfast" and there are two coolers in the kitchen to load at "O dark-thirty" to leave for the competition.  Here's the thing, that's one third of the work it takes to keep a group on 100ish teenagers fed for band.

To top it off, Howie and I had a great dinner of grilled steak, baked potato for him and veggies for me.  We sat at the kitchen table, said our prayers and ate like little pigs.  We know how to have a good time.

My husband called during the day to say hello.  "What time is it there" I said as I heard him yawn.  It was around 8pm and he was tired.  "Where are you, anyway?" I asked.  He told me the name of the hotel and I had to laugh.  I have been too busy to even worry about how or where he was.   Jim and I have been married for almost 24 years and together for about 25.  That's more than half my life.  

I missed him this week.  I missed my best friend.  After 25 years, we know what we are thinking (even if we don't admit it), we know how to make each other mad and we know that even when we are sick of each other, eventually, we need to connect again.  We have to or things just aren't right.  He is a great person, a great father and best friend...I couldn't have asked for a kinder person to put up with me all these years.

Tomorrow, the band will march at 10:45 am and we will wait all day to see if they get to march again in the finals.  During that time, I will be looking at my watch and wondering where Jim is...on a plane from London, on a plane from DC where he had a connecting flight or is he on his way to the competition.    Either which way, I have been missing him and want him home.

If the band does "go", the plan is for Jim to take a cab over to the competition to see the band perform.  He loves those kids and already missed the competition on Monday.  In my mind, I have been imagining him walking into the crowd at the stadium and seeing him, tired, happy and looking all 51 years of his age.  I also imagine that I will give him a hug and a kiss and tell him how glad I am he is home and okay...Nothing too fancy, but that is how we roll in our house...nothing too fancy, just us.

It's after 9pm, and I am exhausted.  The last bit of food is almost cooked, the marching band uniform is washed, the shoes are shined, the kitchen is clean, the dogs are in, my son is sitting here doing a bacteria computer game and I have poured myself a glass of pink wine. 

Now that's what I call "Nothing fancy" but a good day...and I can tell you, I'm still really tired.

We'll tawk tomorrow,
I love you all,

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Just a little more time...

Today, I got a hospice referral for a patient that I have been taking care of that has cancer.  When I admitted her a month ago, she was recovering from a surgery, planning on chemo and radiation and wanted more time with her husband.  She knew that she had a cancer that wasn't curable but she wanted to fight.  And yes, she is pretty young to die.

After week one,  we spent alot of time talking about the future, about what needs to happen to heal and how she was in for a hell of a fight...but it could be done.  I told her that I could help her no matter what but for now, we were a team fighting this cancer and hoping for more good time.

It's not going that way and hasn't for the last few weeks.  I would make a visit, talk about how she was weak and tired, but she wanted to stay the course to improve.  Every visit, we made a game plan and went from there.

After each visit,  as I was leaving, I would hug and kiss her and she would hug and kiss me.  We were becoming friends along with me being her nurse.  I know that isn't "professional" and I am supposed to keep a healthy distance.  Well, I haven't known "professional" my whole nursing career and you cannot stop a heart from falling in love and caring for those you love in a certain way.  So I don't become  someone I'm not...I fall and become attached.  Just as I would hope my nurse will be when I am dying...someone who really cares.

So, now, back to the referral...She has been in the hospital and she got the news...there is nothing left to do.  Chemo isn't going to help and as a matter of fact, it will make you sicker.  Oh and radiation, it's not doing a thing so why bother...

She and her husband have decided that she will go home.  She will be in her beautiful home, her husband caring for her, her animals climbing all over her for lovins' and her family free to visit when she wants them to.  She will be in the livingroom, in a bed, where she will "hold court."  It will be the best of a terribly sad time.

I am sure she will ask me what it will be like to die..."will I be in pain or will I suffer?"  I can honestly say that she will not.  She will not be in pain and she will not suffer...she will know when it's coming, her family will be able to tell her everything they need to and she will tell them everything she needs to as well.  Her husband will be close and because she picked an awesome man, he will care for her and love her until the very minute she takes her last breath.  I have seen that before and it is beyond humbling.

I am sure this is what I am supposed to do...love that family and care for my sweet patient until she isn't with us anymore, but it is gonna be a tough one.  She is young, close to my age and should be here for quite a while longer.  For that I have no answers and while I don't get the "God's grand plan" even though I do believe in God, I know that I am here at this part of her life...and death to be a loving presence and a help in time of trouble.  I believe that is one of the gifts I have been given and I am to use these gifts when I can.  This is going to be an instance that I can.

So that's the report from here...nursing the living and dying, feeding the band and trying not to gain a bunch of weight in the process.  I am pretty lucky to be here, huh?

We'll tawk tomorrow,
I love you all,

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Ministry or...just being a sucker as it related to band...

Yesterday was a busy day.  No getting around it.  I went to the gym as I am still fighting my weight and unfortunately not winning...then to work, which means going to patient's homes and nursing.  I consider it the best job ever.  But, yesterday, I couldn't work all day because there was a marching band competition.

My  kids have done marching band since 2006.  The Queen started it and we never looked back.  Last night was the Jeffco marching invitational...usually the first big show and the bell weather for the season (I think.)  My job in all of this is to feed the band, staff, some parents and of course, if there is food left over...stragglers.

I am not doing this alone so don't feel sorry for me.  There are two other moms that have signed on for the long haul and they are in it too.  There are about 90 kids in the band, 20 staff and at least 20 parents that help every time.  So if you do the math...we are feeding a bunch of folks.  We plan on about 140.

Last night, we had the 8th graders that did band from the middle school to show them what a good time band is...so add another 30.

We fed them and they loved it.  Spaghetti, meatballs, bread, salad...desserts and drinks.  They even had carne asada from a wonderful parent if the Italian fare wasn't good enough.  Definitely better than I feed my family at home.  It was exhausting to heat everything up in a parking lot and put it out for these kids.  

Then, if that wasn't enough, when a marching band is competing, there is an element of class that needs to be shown.  It comes in the form of hair up, shoes shined, everyone looking crisp and the same. With another group of parents, we got on our knees and shined shoes.  Then, we wandered around with bobby pins and put hair up.  I threatened a few boys to bring the clippers next competition.

They played their warm ups and sounded beautiful.  I couldn't get enough of my son...honestly I love this kid so much.  So proud and excited for him.
Howie is the first tuba 

Guess what?  They went out on the field and left it there.  They sounded amazing, looked great and won the class they were in.  They were humbled and stunned because they haven't won in a while.

Here's the thing...as they were going through the line for dinner, kid after kid thanked me...

"Thanks for feeding us, Mrs. Ritter", I heard over and over again.  As I was on my knees, shining shoes and behind them, touching their shoulders, pinning stray hair up...I felt like I was meant to be part of this...at this time in my life, this is my mission, ministry and validation that humans are good.  Then as I followed them around with water, before the contest and then after..."wow, water, thanks so much, Mrs. Ritter", I heard over and over.  

I felt exhausted by all the work but also so fulfilled by the work that was done and the kindness that was shown by these teenagers... the sweet acknowledgement of service and time spent on them.  I felt very blessed and humbled by the kids and their thankfulness...it was a great feeling.

They won and I won.  I got to take care of them, love them and connect on a level that makes me happy.  I understand now that I do this for exactly that reason.  Sometimes, we get glimpses of what  life is about in the most interesting places...last night, as I was on my knees, shining shoes...I got a glimpse.

If these kids don't win another thing, I am proud to be helping them become who they are and who and what they are to become. 

Hey Lobo Regiment, thanks for the wonderful night and the amazing show.  You guys deserved first and it was a blast to be there with you.  Here's to more of that!

We'll tawk tomorrow,
I love you all,
(AKA: Mrs. Ritter)

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Fall Saturday in Conifer...

Today was a beautiful fall day here in Conifer.  The leaves on the Aspen trees are a shimmering yellow/ gold color and the temperature is a lovely 70 degrees.  This is my favorite time of year.

The "Mountain Bowl" was played today at the high school and it is a rivalry that goes back years and years. The stands were full with parents of teenagers and the mood was positive.

My youngest got to play his tuba in the half time show and did a nice job...

My son is the third  from the right with the gold tuba

It was a shame that the Conifer Lobo's lost but in the immortal words of the Queen, "Band team always wins" so at least one group of kids I was pulling for won.

Ever since I came home from the cruise, I have been struggling to find a new normal with three of us in the house.  I have made dinner for 5 for years and then 4 for two years and now I am making dinner for 3...hardly worth it to me.  But I have been.  It's taken all of my energy to keep mothering.  I'm not sure why but it has.

The cruise was good...bittersweet.  There is nothing bad about smiling dolphins

crystal blue water and snorkeling around trying not to spill your drink...

drinks that were served in plastic replicas of blow fish

and feeling the sun, sea and cool breeze of Honduras.

It's a different world on a cruise ship in the Caribbean than in the little town of Conifer.  Two Saturdays ago, it was a "fun day at sea" where I was on ship time.  The pool was warm, the tropical drinks were flowing and if we played our cards right, a nap in the middle of the day would allow for another round of one too many tropical drinks before bed...and let me tell you, we played our cards right.

I couldn't live like that and really, I couldn't have done too many more days of that either.  God knows, I could hardly button my shorts on the last day.  But it made me appreciate the contrast that my life is...the fact that I get up every morning, hit the gym and go to work helping people...that I can't be on "ship time" because I need to pick my 15 year old up from school and do the "Mom" thing (even if I am just going through the motions) and if I was independently wealthy, I bet I would need a purpose besides drinking and relaxing in the sun.

Here's the thing...I wouldn't mind trying it for awhile again!

We'll tawk tomorrow,
I love you all,

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Car time...

I have been driving my blue durango since 2006 and it has been old reliable.  I have almost 230,000 miles on it...It has hit birds, squirrels, dogs, elk and a mountain lion and kept on going.  I depend on the car, it gets me to my life outside of the house.

Almost a month ago, it started to overheat.  First, I needed to turn off the AC and open the windows.  Then I needed to turn the heat in the back on, then I was driving in the summer heat with the heat on high in the car to get anywhere.  It was a hot summer anyway but this made it ridiculous.

Jim decided he would work on it, you know, replace the thermostat and that'll do it.  Well, on a test drive, it still overheated.  Then he decided to change out the radiator, replace the hoses, etc, etc.  He had it up with the nose in the sky to let the air bubbles out of the radiator...yeah, yeah...that's it, the air bubbles in the radiator.  Guess what...it wasn't the air bubbles.  It was the head gasket and it is "blown".  So, there, I was right...she (the car) is terminal.

I move on  to the subaru.  This thing has been dying for a year or two now.  The check engine light is just on.  It never goes off.  When I ask my husband about it, he says, "oh, you can drive it, it's just a misfire" and goes about his business.  Not to mention that this thing has 220,000 miles on it as well.  

OK, I can drive it.  It overheats and the air conditioner blows hot air but hey, it runs.  I have been driving it for about two weeks when it decided to die as well.  Howie was driving to school yesterday and we couldn't make it up the hill out of the subdivision...it was sputtering and misfiring and not moving.  Then I looked over and the check engine light was flashing and the battery light was flashing as well.  Howie decided we needed to turn around and get the last running vehicle (besides the tractor) we could drive.

That would be the 1991 F-150 "toothpaste" blue ford truck that Mac drove his senior year of high school.  Talk about a piece...It's got 178,000 miles on it, it's been hit on one side, the keys don't work in the locks, it's got a stick shift with a baseball for the knob, and a real live rabbit foot that was acquired on a camping trip hanging from the mirror.  It gets about 2 miles to the gallon...

I have been driving the truck for two days and have had enough.  As Howie said on the way home from school..."Mom, every car we own has been on it's last legs for about a year.  It's time to buy a  new car."  He is right.

I have been overly sweet to my husband about a new car.  Yes, honey, I know we just paid tuition for two at college, that I went on a cruise, that you have a car payment for your (midlife crisis) truck.  Yes, I know it's a difficult time to take out another loan.  D...all of the above.

Last night, I took Howie to masterdrive and Jim met me to take him home.  I gently pointed out how I have not gotten on his back and rode him like a big dog about all the check engine lights and overheating and how I told him the cars were dying...aren't I being such a wonderful wife?  He looked at me as serious as he has been in a while and asked, "Who else do you know that gets to drive a pale blue 20 year old truck with a baseball for the shifter and a real rabbits foot on the mirror?  You should consider yourself lucky..."

I had to laugh because it was funny but....

Here's what I know, there's a 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee with my name on it somewhere in Denver that I will be driving in the next week and the beautiful pale blue truck with the baseball shifter and rabbits foot will go to it's intended driver...

And it ain't me.

We'll tawk tomorrow,
I love you all,

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Bad luck bird?

I made it home from the cruise in one piece.  While I was gone, Howie bird sat.  The neighbor went on a trip and the bird lived at my house.  My mother always said birds were bad luck.  I told Jim that jokingly but half serious.  He looked at me like I was crazy but after the week that everyone had when I was gone...I think she was right.

The bird arrived on Friday to stay until Wednesday.  I left on Saturday.  Between Sunday and Wednesday,  Jim spent the night in the hospital, the kids were in a car accident, Christie got stitches from the accident, Howie had his first migraine along with an allergic reaction.  All this loveliness while I was cruising on the Caribbean seas with a fruity drink in my hand and the bird was in a cage in my living room.

It all turned out okay and everyone rose to the occasion and took care of each other.  Christie took care of Jim, Mac took care of himself and Jim and Howie spent time over at a friend's house.  

We are so lucky and I am so glad to be home.  Jim will see the specialist on Thursday to see if he needs to have surgery to remove salivary stones, I will take Christie's stitches out this weekend, and we will keep Howie well hydrated.  

Oh and I put on 8 pounds while cruising the Caribbean.  Tons of food and drink and family time.  That's what taking a vacation will do to you.

My neighbor came and picked up the bird on Wednesday.  I think secretly Jim was glad for him to go home.  When Sunday came along and Jim picked me up from the airport, he said..."Maybe your mother was right, that bird was bad luck."

Old wives tale...I think not.

We'll tawk tomorrow,
I love you all,