Wednesday, November 27, 2013


My grandma passed away last Saturday.  She had been doing better for a couple of days and we all thought that this was just going to be another close call.  Then I got the call that she wasn't expected to live much longer when I was two and a half hours away from home for a soccer game.  I turned around and began one of the longest drives of my life, praying that I would make it in time to see her one last time.

Luckily, she held on for several more hours and all of our family was able to get to the hospital in time.  I'm convinced that she held on until we could all be there.  I'm not sure that I've ever witnessed anything so sad as my grandpa saying goodbye to his wife of 61 years.  Nothing can prepare you for hearing him say "I better go give her a kiss while she's still alive."

Toward the end, everyone but my sister and I left her hospital room as they couldn't handle just waiting for her to die.  I stayed because I didn't want her to be alone.  I told her it was okay for her to go, she had suffered long enough and we all were there for her and loved her so much.  I held her hand and counted her breaths.  First she was breathing every three seconds, then every five, then every seven, then every ten...and then she was gone.

In the past few days, I have learned that even if you sort of know that something like this is coming, there is no way to prepare for it.  It's a toss up as to whether it's been worse losing my grandma or watching my grandpa try to figure out how to live his life without her.  Logically, I know that she was sick for a long time and in constant pain and now she is at peace and no longer suffering.  It doesn't make me feel any better, though.  I am so overwhelmingly sad that it almost physically hurts.  I miss my grandma.
Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Just When You Think Nothing Else Could Possibly Go Wrong...

I really don't know what I did to piss off the universe, but the hits, they just keep on coming.  Now my grandma has pneumonia and is on a respirator in the ICU and not expected to live.  She's 80 years old and has had a myriad of health problems for years, including diabetes and congestive heart failure, so it's not like this is a huge shock.  Honestly though, she's pulled through all of her issues so many times before, you just kind of expect that she'll keep on trucking, you know?  One time, she was actually in a hospice center and given a few days to live.  That was over three years ago.

In June, my sister and I took our grandparents out to dinner to celebrate their 61st wedding anniversary and she was doing pretty well.  Lately though, she's had more bad days than good, it seems.  Last week, she told my grandpa that she is ready to die because she just can't keep living anymore.  On Sunday she couldn't breathe and was rushed to the hospital only to discover that her heart rate was under 50 beats per minute.  Yesterday she had a temporary pacemaker installed while they tried to get the pneumonia treated and her liver and kidneys began to fail.  Today she started running a fever.  Now, the doctors say it will be a miracle if she wakes up. If she doesn't, I'm really going to miss her.  
Monday, November 18, 2013

Random Things I Remember, Teacher Edition

I have a really good memory.  Like, really really good.  Unfortunately, I mostly remember useless junk.  Like what I was wearing the first time I rode a roller coaster when I was six (white romper with pastel stripes).  Or what the next three numbers of Pi are after 3.14 (159).  I can throw down on some Trivial Pursuit, yo.  Useless knowledge, I have it in spades.

So a few weeks ago, I decided to see if I could remember the names of every one of my elementary school teachers.  Turns out, I can and I actually have specific and vivid memories of each and every one.  Isn't that kind of weird?

Kindergarten - Mrs. Stalker:  I remember she was an older matronly type and on St. Patrick's day, she made us believe that she caught a leprechaun in a bag but it popped it and got away.  That night I searched my house up and down for another leprechaun, but alas, never found one.

First Grade - Mrs. Smith:  I remember two things about Mrs. Smith - 1) She was a finalist for a  spot on the Challenger space shuttle that eventually went to Christa McAuliffe and 2) my class had a set of identical twins and one of them puked on her feet one day during story time.  All she said was "Oh my!" when she had to be thinking "OMFG, gross!" because I don't remember her having any kids at the time.

Second Grade - Mrs. Wolford/Mrs. Shipman:  I had two teachers this year because we moved and I changed schools mid-year.  I remember Mrs. Wolford grabbed me by neck one day when I didn't erase the board after she told me to.  I was very upset because 1) I didn't hear her ask me to do it and 2) Hello!  She grabbed my neck.  Methinks such antics would not fly today.  I actually had Mrs. Wolford again years later for seventh grade math and she was out of school for a long time that year after she broke her leg slipping on some ice.  Karma, man.

Mrs. Shipman had really thick glasses that made her eyes look huge.  But, she was super nice and gave me a hug at the end of the year, my first teacher that ever did that.   Clearly, that was in improvement over the neck-grabbing from Mrs. Wolford.

Third Grade - Mrs. Winslow:  I loved, loved, loved Mrs. Winslow.  She was and older grandmotherly type and was the third grade teacher that EVERYONE wanted to have.  She used to give us salted unshelled peanuts instead of candy as rewards for right answers, etc. I actually loved her so much that we were pen pals for a while after I 'graduated' from her class.

Fourth Grade - Mrs. Ketterman:  Mrs. Ketterman was kind of old and grumpy.  I remember learning multiplication tables in her class and her timing us by slapping herself on the leg to count out the seconds.

Fifth Grade - Mrs. Cutsinger:  This was another pretty grumpy teacher.  She had a big wart on her nose and finger so when she would get mad and point at you to emphasize, you never knew where to look.  She took a liking to me though after discovering that we both had dogs at the time that were named Stubby.

Sixth Grade - Mr. Geha:  Mr. Geha was a single man in his forties who lived with his mother.  He called us 'folks' a lot.  He taught us about the US government by holding student council elections and after winning the position of class Vice President, I realized that Vice Presidents really don't do anything but sit there and try to look official.

See what I mean?  Who remembers that kind of stuff?  Apparently, I do.  Who wants to play Trivial Pursuit?
Friday, November 15, 2013


Earlier this week, an old friend that I've known since elementary school was killed in a car accident.  She was only 34 and leaves behind a husband and three small children.  Yesterday, she would have turned 35 years old and instead of celebrating another year gone by, her family was planning her funeral.  Yet another reminder that life is just not fair.

I can't help but think about the fact that two of her children are young enough that they probably won't remember her as they get older.  Think for a second about a mother's love for their child.  It's so palpable, you can almost touch it. And yet, her poor little babies will probably have a hard time remembering her love for them and or what she was even like.  I haven't seen my friend in many years and still, I will probably have more memories of her than her own children.  That also doesn't seem fair.

There about a million quotes out there about that fact that life is short, we all should make the most of every moment, you never know when your time is up, etc. Don't you think though, that most of us look at death as something nebulous that won't actually happen to us for a really long time?  I know I always have.  This week I got a reminder that those sayings are quite true.

So today, I will remember my friend for her sweet soul and shy smile.  I will hug my kids a bit tighter and hold each moment with them a little closer to my heart.  And I will be thankful that when my time here on Earth is finished, they will be able to remember me.
Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Wherein I Pay Attention

Not long ago, I was driving in the car with Violet when "Blurred Lines" by Robin Thicke came on the radio.  I was aware of some of the controversy a few months back regarding the lyrics to the song, but admittedly, I hadn't paid very much attention to the hoopla or even the lyrics in question.  Whatever, the tune is catchy and it's just a song, right?  Right.

Anyway, back to the car ride with Violet with the song in question playing on the radio.  When it got to the part of the song that says 'You're the hottest bitch in this place,' Violet commented that she thought it was so dumb that the radio bleeped out the word 'bitch.'  When I asked her why, she said it was stupid because it's just a song and they aren't saying anything mean.

As I listened more closely to the rest of the lyrics, I heard this little gem:  "Hit me up girl when you're passing through, I'll give you something big to tear your ass in two."  Not cool Robin Thicke, not cool.  I looked incredulously at Violet and asked her if she thought that was also okay.  She just laughed and said that she thought it was fine because again, it's just a song and those lyrics are "funny."  I say "funny" in quotes there because I think that that line of the song is actually not "funny" at all.  More like "disgusting and hugely disrespectful to women."  I tried to explain to Violet why the lyrics were actually the furthest thing from funny, but honestly, I'm fairly certain it went in one ear and out the other.  To her, it really was no big deal.

This was a huge reality check for me.  It actually turns my stomach more than a little to think that my daughter thinks it's okay to be called a "bitch" as long as it's followed up by saying said bitch is "hot" and that degrading lyrics are "funny."  It's hard enough to raise confident and well-adjusted young women these days without songs, movies and TV shows making disrespect to women seem like a normal and accepted practice.  I'll definitely be paying attention from now on.
Friday, November 8, 2013


When Violet was born, I distinctly remember thinking to myself "I wonder what she'll be like when she's fifteen years old." I'm not sure why I picked a random number like fifteen, but it's just the age that popped in to my head.  At the time, I also remember thinking that it seemed like a million years in to the future and we would all be driving flying DeLoreans by then.  Then, I blinked and this past August, she turned fifteen.

As I type this, she's on the way to the DMV with her dad to get her learner's permit.  She already passed the road signs and road rules tests online (which, did you know you can take your written driving tests online now?  In my day, you had to study a book and take the test right at the DMV), so all she has to do is pass the hearing and eye exam and have her picture taken and she'll have her permit in her hot little hand.  The good news is that she has to have her permit for a year before she can take her driving test and get her actual driver's license.  In about a year, one of my children will be a licensed driver.  Lord help us all.

I'm just glad we don't have to teach her to drive in a flying DeLorean.
Thursday, November 7, 2013


We're not huge on holiday traditions in our family. Sure, we decorate for the major holidays and I've even started making an attempt to do a little decorating for what I consider "Hallmark holidays," like Valentine's Day.  We just don't have a lot of things that we do year in and year out just because "it's a tradition."  Some years, we go to a Fall Festival and pumpkin patch to pick out Halloween pumpkins and some years (like this year) we buy them from a random roadside stand.  Some years I make my famous pumpkin roll for Thanksgiving dessert and some years I decide it's too much work and buy pumpkin pie from the grocery store.  Some years I bake cookies and make candy for the holidays and some years I don't feel like it.  You get the idea.

Over the years, I've often wondered if I'm doing a disservice to my kids by not having more family traditions that they can count on.  It's hard when you see hundreds of Facebook and blog posts with everyone's yearly traditions on display to not think that you might be missing out on something.

Yesterday, I was driving Lily home from soccer practice when she mentioned that while she was kind of excited for her soccer tournament Thanksgiving weekend at Disney's Wide World of Sports, she was kind of bummed about it too.  When I asked why she said that it was because we were going to have to miss Thanksgiving.  For the last few years, we have stayed home on Thanksgiving and watched the Macy's parade, then football and had my two single brothers-in-law over for Thanksgiving dinner.  Sometimes we cap it off by watching A Christmas Story that night to get in the holiday spirit.  We barely get out of our pajamas all day and it's pretty glorious, if I do say so myself.

I reminded Lily that we weren't actually going to miss Thanksgiving this year, we were just going to go to her grandmother's house instead and then leave to go out of town from there.  I was a little surprised when she lamented that "It just isn't going to be the same!" because I had also thought to myself that I was a little bummed that we weren't going to be able to do our low-key Thanksgiving celebration this year.  Maybe we have more holiday traditions than I thought.
Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Gym Rats

For the last couple of months, I've been waking up at 4:30 AM three days a week in order to get to the gym by the time it opens at 5:00.  Crazy, right?  I know, but really, it's not that bad.  I find that it's handy to get a workout in before the day starts because with my kids' school and sports schedules, hitting the gym at any other time than before sunrise is just not in the cards.  I have to take Violet to school every day at 6:30, so I have just enough time to get in my workout before I have to get home and fire up Mom's Taxi Service.

The gym I go to is on the smaller side and generally, I see the same group of individuals every time I go.  The cast of characters includes:

- Old Treadmill Guy: This is a man in his 80s who walks r-e-a-l-l-y s-l-o-w-l-y on the treadmill for a really long time.  Usually he's already on the treadmill when I get there and generally, he's still on that treadmill when I leave approximately an hour and fifteen minutes later.  I would venture a guess that he maybe walks about a mile in that timeframe, but brother is old and good for him for doing any type of exercise at all, right?  

- Stairmaster Lady:  I'm going to guess this lady is in her early 60s and she does nothing else but walk on the Stairmaster for about 45 minutes while she also reads a book.  The weird part is that she does this while wearing one of those weightlifting belt things that body builders wear when they lift really heavy weights and I've yet to see her pick up even so much as a hand weight.  It's all Stairmaster, all the time for her.

- Friendly Guy:  This is another older gentleman who makes sure to wave a friendly hello to everybody while he goes about his workout.  I like this guy, he made me feel welcome in what felt like an intimidating setting at first.

- Hot Stuff:  As you can probably tell, the crowd skews a little on the older side at my gym, at least that early in the morning.  I would say Hot Stuff is somewhere in her forties and I get the distinct impression that she enjoys being one of the younger women at the gym.  Let's just say that Hot Stuff does a lot of stretches that put her goods on display.  For some reason, she really likes to lift her leg over her head. That said, she works out pretty hard and for being toothpick skinny, she can lift really heavy weights.

- That Guy I Kind of Sort of Know:  There is this one guy that I've actually met a few times that works with my husband.  He doesn't seem to remember me.  In his defense, I go to the gym with my hair pulled back and no makeup on so I'm fine with not being recognized.

- Mr. Perfect:  Every gym has at least one of these.  They're the guys that stare at themselves in the mirror during their entire workout, checking out their muscles, face, body in general, etc.  I actually find the most interesting thing about this guy to be that he drinks hot coffee while he works out.  Isn't that weird?  I think that's weird.

- Captain Smelly:  This guy.  Just, ugh.  Shortly after he starts working out, he begins to emit the most foul body odor stench that wafts around him like horrible, terrible cologne.  I really try to avoid Captain Smelly as much as I can but as I mentioned, the gym is small, so it's hard.  I've also tried breathing through my mouth and holding my breath, but that's difficult mid-workout.  He actually hasn't been at the gym at all this week so I'm hoping he fell off the gym wagon and won't get back on.  That's probably mean but seriously, gross.

Even still, I like my little gym.  I've belonged to more than one fitness center in the past that was nothing more than a glorified meat market.  The women there spent more time getting ready to work out than actually working out and the guys all stood around and ogled said women.  I'll take my merry band of misfit gym rats any day.  Even Captain Smelly.
Tuesday, November 5, 2013

I'm Not Mad, Bro

I suffer from chronic bitch face.  What is chronic bitch face, you ask?  Bitch face is an affliction that makes you look like you're angry and as if you're thinking 'Don't even come near me, lest you incite my rage', even when you are perfectly happy and content.

I've been a chronic bitch face sufferer since I was a kid.  How do I know I have this unfortunate affliction?  It's because there is rarely a day that goes by that I don't have random strangers tell me to 'Cheer up, it's not that bad!' when I'm simply out and about, minding my own business.

For the longest time, I would wonder what in the hell these random people were talking about because I was not in a bad mood.  After a while I realized that they were just reacting to how my face looks.  Even my husband, who knows me better than anyone, will sometimes ask me what's wrong when there is absolutely nothing wrong at all.  For a while I tried to consciously change the expression on my face to avoid the problem, but I quickly learned that that's like trying to write with your left hand when you're right handed; it just doesn't work.

I've often wondered what would happen if I told these random strangers that tell me to cheer up that I appreciate their concern but I'm actually in a good mood and that's just how my face looks but thanks for noticing?  The problem is that would make for some awkward encounters and if there is anything I hate more than random stranger interactions, it's awkward random stranger interactions.  So instead, I just emit a small chuckle, smile at the random stranger and go on my merry way.  I figure that if nothing else, they might think they actually made me smile and that they had a small part in cheering up a person that was in a bad mood.  Even though I wasn't in a bad mood in the first place.  My face just looks like that, I swear.
Monday, November 4, 2013

Relatively Speaking

When the going gets tough, I tend to draw inward.  I isolate myself from friends and family, sit at home and do nothing and even avoid the phone when it rings, letting voicemail pick up.  That's one of the reasons that I had not posted here in so long.  2013 has not really been a banner year in the Chick household and when 2014 rolls around, I will be more than happy to wish this year good riddance.

I am not trying to wish time away, but it's really been one thing after another around here.  Right after we listed our old house for sale last Spring, I had a health issue that was both emotionally and physically draining.  I was still recovering from it and dealing with residual issues when we ended up homeless for the two weeks before we could close on our new house.  The closing agent called me at 9:00 on a Monday morning to state that we had until midnight to vacate our house.  Let me tell you, you haven't really lived until you've coordinated moving an entire house in 15 hours, especially when you have no place to actually move to with everything you own in the world.

And now we are dealing with Mr. Chick's health issues with no end in sight.  He had back surgery a week ago today and his recovery is not really going as planned.  As in, I don't think the surgery worked at all - if anything, he is worse than before surgery.  This has happened to us before with this same surgery, and it's like de ja vu all over again.  We head back to the doctor on Wednesday and I am really hoping the news is better than I'm anticipating.

Even still, there are things to be thankful for and I'm trying to remember that:

- We have good health insurance so all of the doctor bills for both me and Mr. Chick are only costing an arm, instead of an arm and a leg.
- That good health insurance covers mental health counseling, which has been a blessing I could not have imagined.
- Mr. Chick has a lot of sick and vacation leave built up so for now, that's not a problem.
- My schedule is flexible which makes it easier to pick up the slack on things that Mr. Chick usually handles.

While I generally hate that saying 'It could always be worse' - it really is true.  But there's another saying that also rings true to me and that's 'It's all relative.'  And right now, things seem relatively bad.
Friday, November 1, 2013

Life, Interrupted

I haven't posted in a long time because seriously, life was ridiculous there for a minute.  Really, the level of ridiculous in my life seems to hover somewhere around 'Tolerable as long as you don't like to sleep or bathe' but for a while there, it ramped up to 'You are not getting through this with your sanity intact, nope, no way.'

Among other things, we sold our house and moved, again. But, due to an incompetent mortgage broker and real estate agent, we found ourselves homeless for two weeks after we closed on our old house and couldn't yet close on our new one.  Notice that I mentioned that this was something that happened AMONG OTHER THINGS.  As if that one thing where I ended up homeless with all my worldly possessions stored in my brother-in-law's garage with no clue when I would be resolving my homeless situation wasn't enough by itself to put me in the loony bin.

This week, I'm on nursing duty as Mr. Chick recovers from his third back surgery.  I think I've had about 6 hours of total sleep since Monday, while I play nurse (which I'm not very good at, I get annoyed easily, especially on no sleep) and also single-handedly shuttle Violet and Lily to their various schools, sports practices and soccer games.  Of course, all of those things occur at different places and at different times, and sometimes at different places at the same time, leaving me feeling stretched too thin.  Lest I sound like a whiny shrew, I am entirely aware of how fortunate I am that 1) I work from home and 2) I am self employed, so I have flexibility to make all of those things happen without actually ending up in a mental hospital.

Also, I did just take a vacation for the first time in a year and a half and also, I started Christmas shopping yesterday, so there's that.  Life would still be easier though if I could find a way to clone myself.