Wednesday, October 31, 2007

adventures - when mom's not home

So you want to know what it's like to have six kids....

A few days ago, I had to take Nicholas to the doctor for yet another re-check for his ears. The doctor said we would be waiting it out for the next six months as to whether or not Nicholas would need tubes in his ears. And since the fluid is only in the left ear, they would have to decide whether or not they would just do one tube or both ears. This waiting crap sucks! In the meantime, I have to check to see if his balance is okay, and I have to call his pediatrican and find out exactly how many ear infections he's had and on what side. We go back in December. More gas, more parking, more waiting, more co-pays. But what else can you do! Thank God we have insurance because we would really be up the proverbal creek without it.

Anyway, the hospital/doctor is over an hour (two with rush hour traffic) away. Rich was home, sleeping off a migraine headache. I took Nicholas, Nathan and Sarah (so she could help out alittle bit, play with Nate, etc. since Rich couldn't come). His appt was for 3:15, I left at 2:30. I had to call them and tell them I would be late. That means we had overlapped the appt time, with the kids getting out of school, supposedly to avoid rush hour. Making me home in time for dinner.

The other kids came home from school between 3 and 3:30. Rich was still sleeping off his migraine. Our kids are perfectly able to take care of themselves. Amanda even babysits for us. So with Rich being home, even sleeping, everything should have been just fine.

Now you know what's coming, right?

The kids always come home hungry and raid the cupboards and fridge the minute they walk in the door. This day wasn't any different. Anthony immediately went on a search for food the minute his feet were in the door. He found some french fries and chicken strips and went about preheating the oven. Well, suddenly the oven lit up in flames. Anthony thought he would handle the situation all by himself and tries to put water on it. Umm, yeah you read that right. And then when that didn't work, he ran outside (oh yeah - outside) and grabbed some peat moss and dirt out of the flower tree thing. What he thought that would do is beyond me. But, when that didn't work, he told Amanda to get their dad. Amanda runs into our bedroom, wakes up Rich tells him what's up and he jumps up and heads for the kitchen. Rich opens the cupboard looking for the salt, of course the container's empty. He then looks under the sink for the fire extinguisher. It's not there, big surprise. He yells at Amanda to get one out of his workshop. When she gets back with the fire extinguisher, Rich quickly gets the fire out.

Imagine my surprise when I got home with one baby who pretty much cried the whole way home, an older child (who was supposed to be helping) sleeping in the back seat, and one more precious little boy (that would be Nicholas) who had puked halfway home and all over the seat of the van.

Now, I have six children and a broken oven. Nice that it will need to be replaced right around Christmas time, huh? Rich went out and bought a toaster/convection oven to use in the meantime.

There are plenty of adventures that go on around this house, with or without mom. Now, doesn't that make you want to go out and have six perfectly precious children of your own?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

....In Shining Armour

I've been wanting to share this story for awhile now, and just haven't done it yet.

This summer Rich wanted me to go fishing with him. I hate going fishing, I am so not an outdoorsy person (there's bugs and it's hot and physical, and you can't really look pretty doing all this stuff with the humidity, etc)! But I went with him, because he wanted me too.

We went to a creek and donned hip waders. They are the kind that go up over your hips and have these suspender things attached to them. I'm not a tall person (only 5'2") so his spare pair of waders were huge on my feet (I wear a size 7 and the boots were a size 11) and went clear up to my boobs. I'm sure I made a lovely picture in them, LOL! He also wore his fishing vest which was loaded down with bait and hooks, stuff like that, plus he carried his fishing pole. I carried the net, and my pole (why do I have a pole when I don't like to fish, because everyone in our family has to have one of course, it wouldn't be practical not to have one).

So we're loaded down with all this equipment. It's hard to walk in the water. Especially in big honkin', heavy boots. The water isn't deep in some places, but I'm freaking out, cause I can't swim. We're trying to fish. He caught a couple of fish, but they were little ones, so he threw them back in. He's asking me to give him worms to bait his hook. I can't stand it. I'm such a girly girl!

We walk for what seems like miles. I'm sure he is frustrated with all my whining. He tells me there's a bridge not too far and we can get out of the water and hike back to the car. So we're walking and walking and we don't see any bridge. It's getting darker now, the sun is setting and we're in some woods. He asks me if I want to keep going or climb out of the water and just hike it back from where we were. I say I've had enough and we start to climb out. Only it's all uphill. My boots were so heavy and felt like they were pulling me back down into the water, which now looks so dark like an abyss or something. I'm sliding all over the place and bitching about it.

Rich is all calm and just keeps plowing ahead. We get to this huge steep hill about 9 or 10 feet up pure hill and it's the only way out. Rich just scales right up it, and I get about half way. When my feet start going out from under me, I'm sliding down the hill and it's really dark down there, so I'm crying and grasping my way slowly up this big ass hill...

When all of a sudden I see this hand come down in front of me. It was like God reaching down to help me up. Only when I look up it's my darling husband - reaching for me. I started to cry harder now. I was worried I would hurt his back being fat and heavy (see my other blog). And his back is already hurt, so I really don't want to have him help me. He pulls the fishing pole and net out of my hand. And reaches down for me again. He just simply said "Charlene take my hand, I won't let you fall." So I'm crying and saying Richard, I don't want to hurt you. And he grabs my hand and pulls me up.

Now this is kind of symbolic of our realationship. He is always rescuing me, and saving me, reaching down and pulling me up. But for some reason, I was overcome by the whole thing. I cried and sobbed the whole way to the car. Rich was trying to make me laugh and singing. Always trying to help me.

We walked for miles (or at least it seemed that way, over rail road tracks, we came to a rail trussle and of course since we had to climb up that huge hill to get out of the water, we now have to go down a huge hill to get to the car. Rich made his way down, said he would catch me if I fall. But I was so scared because the boots were dragging me down, making do splits with my legs. I was so afraid. I eventually made my way down, when Rich pointed out how close I was to the ground and I wouldn't have really fallen because he would have caught me anyway. I start crying all over again.

Why does he constantly stand up and save me, reach down and help me up, when I fall, he's right there to help pull me up? Over and over again. I know I'm not the best wife, I constantly do things that annoy him. Things that would probably drive any other man over the edge. But he's still here and he loves me. Really loves me. I really am the luckiest girl on the planet!

I'm sure it will be a couple of years before he will ask me to fishing with him again...

Monday, October 15, 2007


Where to start? A few things have bugged me or freaked me out the past few days.

First, an old lady died at the nursing home. Not a big deal where I work, they are old and lived their lives and die, totally natural. But the circumstances around this woman's passing was odd.

A few nights ago, while V (a person I work with) and I were doing our last rounds, an old lady off another hall was screaming and screeching, it sounded hideous. She was freaked out and said there was someone in her room, watching her (no one was there). She started screaming "They're coming for you, they're coming for you!" over and over again. So the aides on that hall got her up and took her to the nurses station, where she continued to scream.

V and I got done with our halls first and decided to help out the other two workers finish their halls. V and I walked into the room to change a lady, when we turned on the light and walked up to her bed, we both knew she was gone. But both of us were shocked and just stood and looked at each other for a second, and then we both ran out and got the nurse. Now I have worked there for over four years and V has been there longer than me, and we have both dealt with death before, but for some reason, we were both off balance by the situation.

The RN came in, checked her and indeed she was gone. When we were finished and came out of the room, the woman who had been screaming was silent. Not only that, but she was sleeping and looked spent. It was so freaky! Did that woman actually see someone coming for the other lady? How did she know?

I have been somewhat disturbed by this for days. I'm so afraid of dying. Even when I was an avid church goer, I still feared death. Like what happens when you die, do you actually truly get to see your loved ones, will they know you, what happens to your body, your soul, can you look down and see how your family is doing, etc. Can you see why this is bothering me so? I get like this for days, and freak out, and then I forget about it and move on, until something like the above happens and then I freak out again.

Maybe, I need to go to church again and seek out Christ and then I will find peace, I don't know. I know I haven't been a good Christian in years, a decade, going on two, but I do believe in God, and I'm sure that's not enough. Oh, I could go on like this forever....

Another thing that has bothered me, although I have no idea why because I should be used to it by now, is the fact that my mother came down and visited my sister this weekend and didn't stop by to see me or the kids. She lives about three hours away. She is always coming down to go to the dentist, to see her sisters, my siblings; but she never makes time to visit me. The last time she came down (a couple of weeks ago) she called me and said she was down here, to go the dentist, put flowers on my father's grave, and visit my aunt.

She made a big point to say that she didn't even know my phone number and had to call her husband to get it. And all she wanted to know was if she could use my bathroom before she went to her appointment. It's nice to know that I make a nice rest stop for her! She spent more time in the bathroom than she did visiting with me. She barely acknowledged Nathan (granted he was sleeping, but still). She didn't make arrangements to come back and see the other kids after school or anything. That makes twice that she has been down this way and did this (in just a month - she's done it more than that before).

She can't even say that it's because I don't visit her, because I have been there more than my brothers have, my sister hasn't even been there once. She just irks me! I have no idea why I feel like this, I'm a big girl now and have a family of my own. And it has always been this way for me. Everyone always came before me. But it still bothers me. I was in therapy once and the therapist told me I should tell my mother that I didn't feel loved by her as a child. And my mother said, oh you were loved, you were your grandfather's favorite. Well, guess what, he died when I was 3 and he wasn't my mother!

Enough of that, cause I could go forever about it as well...

Nicholas took a pair of scissors and basically scalped himself while I was at work. Some patches are so close to his head, he'll probably have to get his head shaved to make it all even. Ohh the things kids will do!

I broke my glasses. I can't stand wearing glasses anyway. I want contacts so bad. I had them when I was younger, but haven't gotten them since. Now I'll end up with a scratched nose until I can get these stupid things fixed. My eyes are getting bad, I can tell. I wake up in the morning and everything is a big blurry mess, and not just from having bad eye sight. I'm afraid, I have glaucoma or cataracts or something worse than that. It sucks to have bad eyesight! Did I mention that I hate to wear glasses? I hate how they get all fogged up in the winter and rain, or when it's humid. I hate being blinded by the sun, because I can't wear sunglasses. It just sucks!

I'm done rambling.

For now, anyway.....

Saturday, October 13, 2007

My knight....

I wanted to say how lucky I am to be married to Rich. He is such an excellent provider. Even after he was hurt; his good financial planning, the pension he recieved from work, and the savings and investments he made from years of working overtime ensured all our needs were met. Our standard of living increased every single year that we've been married.

I really do take him for granted. The man is truly amazing. I don't think there is anything that he can't do. He changed the motor and replaced an axel in my car while we were dating. He built an addition on our last residence right down to digging the footer and laying the block himself. He can fix almost anything, I couldn't count the number of VCR's, sweepers, lawn mowers, toys, bicycles and other things he has fixed. I have watched him take broken things that had parts missing or destroyed and manufacture new parts for it in his 9x11 workshop and fix it good as new and the only payment he ever receives is the smile on his childrens faces when he hands them back their repaired toy.

Everyone's good at something the saying goes, but Rich seems to be good at everything. At times it makes me upset with him, because he makes solving problems seem so easy and I struggle with whatever I do. He once told me that he wasn't born knowing everything, but rather everything he knows he had to learn himself first, but there seems to be no limit to his knowledge. He can repair an engine, wire an entire house for electricity, install and solder copper water pipes, finish concrete, SOLVE MY CHILDRENS 9TH GRADE ADVANCED ALGEBRA HOMEWORK (you don't even want to know about the math that he can do just in his head without writing anything down - I call him my calculator man). Every job he has ever had from busboy to computer operator to prison guard he has done well and been promoted at every opportunity. He can even build a computer from scratch with just a box full of the right parts. He has a work ethic that is so much higher than my own that I couldn't reach his with a ladder. This seems to be a common trait in his family and I know it frustrates him to see such a poor work ethic in his own children. Even though he has six of them to support they are all spoiled. Each one of them has far more than either him or I had growing up. This man who had to take lettuce sandwiches to school because there wasn't even bologna or cheese for his lunch as a child has given his children Gameboys, TV's VCR's and DVD players in their rooms. There were 4 children in my family and we all had to share one room (talk about a lack of privacy). Despite having more children than my parents had my kids are 2 to a bedroom, and he has even offered to convert the downstairs pantry, and garage into bedrooms for them.

I will call his childhood unpleasant and leave it at that, but as bad as it was it produced in him all these good traits that I admire. If you are poor and your car breaks down and you don't have a way to work or money to get it fixed, then you walk to work each day until you manage to fix it yourself. I realize now that the reason he has these skills and the reason that he makes them seem effortless is that to him they were survival skills growing up. His father died at a young age and his mother was absent and ambivalent and distraught over the loss of her husband. There was literally noone for him to rely on except his grandmother (and he often walked the five miles each way to her house because it was the one place he always felt loved and one of the reasons I loved her so much) then you learn to rely on yourself even if your only 9 years old when it happens.

I can not tell you enough how amazing this man is. He sacrificed his own dream of going to grad school and went to work full time at a very dangerous job that he hated just so I could stay home with our children and have a traditional family. He has saved me from the consequences of my own actions more times than I can count and I know he paid a price in suffering everytime he did. But what is truly amazing about this man I am married to, is his indominatable human spirit. His absolute refusal to give up no matter what the odds are against him. Four years ago, Rich was in so much pain that all he could do was lay on the couch with a heating pad under his back and another wrapped around his leg. He had to roll onto the floor and then climb up the furniture to stand up. He literally couldn't take a step and put any pressure on his left leg without screaming in agony even though he was taking both oxicotin and vicodin at the time. He couldn't dress himself, and he couldn't even use the bathroom himself because he would lose all feeling and control of his legs after a minute or two and fall off the toilet and onto the floor. I know that at that point he was in such misery that he really just wanted to die. If it weren't for his children who would have grown up fatherless without him, and his friends like Vince and Rich S. who spent hours talking to him at this time I am sure I would be a widow today. Praise God that I'm not.

There is a poem by rudyard kipling called IF.


IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: 'Hold on!'

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
' Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!

MY Husband is all that and more and from that low point that was filled with pain and suffering he had yet another surgery, he forced himself to walk four hours after waking up, drainage tubes and all, dragging an IV rack with him and using it for balance. within a month he was able to walk 5 MILES with a cane. Then he found the courage and the will to go back to school after 15 years at the age of 37. He was accepted into WVU's graduate counseling program which was no small feat in itself since WVU's masters counseling program ranks 7th in the entire country. Graduated Magna Cum Laude with a 3.87 GPA. Worked a 40 hour a week internship despite having insomnia that often resulted in him going to work on only 45 minutes sleep, sometimes for several days in a row. In constant pain because his pain management doctor couldn't understand that it is more painful having to drive 1-2 hours each way and work an 8 hour day than it is to go to school and therefore he made no adjustment in his medication. Did such a good job that his supervisor told the school that he was one of the three best interns they had over the past 14 years. He did this while he watched his grandmother, who had practically raised him, die a very painful death of bone cancer. He came home exhausted and then almost everyday he got back into his car and drove another hour in pain to be with her at the nursing home. He also traveled to Florida during this time to be with his mother whose health is also failing and still managed somehow to complete the number of hours for his internship.

Rich often talks about his father with very deep affection. His father died when he was only 9, but in those 9 years his father shaped and molded him into a man that very few other men can measure up to. He defies all odds. He suffered this tragic injury when he ran into the middle of a prison knifefight in order to come to the aide of another officer (how one finds the courage to do such a thing I'll never know). It's this type of tradgedy that often destroys a family financially, emotionally, and spiritually. Yet somehow, mystically this incredible man ensured that his family did not suffer one bit. In fact we have a newer bigger house. I drive a car that not only did he buy for me brand new but told me to pick out whatever car/van I wanted and I got my power windows and my captain's chairs and every single thing I asked for. The new house is in the nicest neighborhood in town and I have a 1/2 acre for my kids to play on (our last house had a postage stamp size yard). He even had an addition put on the house (he paid for the shell to be put up and did the entire inside himself with a friend although it took some time for him to finish it since his injury limits the amount of work he can do).

Forced to retire at 37 he still managed to ensure that we had medical insurance for LIFE and my kids til they are 23. Not once did this amazing man ever let his own suffering prevent him from meeting his responsibilities as a father. What should have destroyed us financially he somehow turned it into a blessing. When I was pregnant with Nathan and complications arose and I was worried that I would lose the baby and that my job would endager my child he didn't even blink before he told me to stop working, and not to worry about the money because HE would take care of it, and if that cause a problem at work to tell them I didn't need the job anyway. If that were not enough Rich has bought me opals, emeralds, rubies, pink sapphires, diamonds and more diamonds. I am so used to having everything we need and most of what we want that I often have to be reminded how lucky I am, not to mention how spoiled I am.

Is it little wonder then that I get down on my hands and knees to put on this man's socks and shoes every morning because I know that often he can't and when he does so himself it is often with great pain. He is a male chauvanist in so far as he believes it is his responsibility to provide for this family and he won't let even this injury prevent him from doing so. He's a chauvanist in that he believes he is this family's protector and he often saves us from the consequences of our own actions. I have been barefoot pregnant and in the kitchen for 15 years and I am happy being a homemaker. Rich is a male chauvanist, and he is MY male chavanist and I would not trade him for the world (george clooney included).

This one's mine go find your own :)