Is There Really Life After Childbirth?

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I can still remember the skeptical eye-rolling, head-shaking reaction I had when those “old-fogeys” lamented the end of letter writing. They felt that email had taken all of the personalization out of communication. What did they know? You were still communicating and you could do it faster than ever. It wasn’t until I became an old fogey myself, that I began to see their point.
So many of the things I took for granted that my children and their children would do in life have fallen by the wayside. Not all of these are bad. I love that you don’t have to iron anymore (although I am so proud of my wall-hiding ironing board, that I still force guests to check it out). I have even accepted those annoying phones attached to our bodies, since they have kept me from having a couple of false alarm heart attacks on more than one occasion. It’s the things that I never really thought about that I miss the most.
I never thought I would lose my job to people on the other side of the world. Luckily, my kids have adapted to that problem and are finding jobs in industries that still require a human presence. How long that will last remains to be seen. They don’t have careers anymore. The thought of staying with one company from beginning to end doesn’t happen very often. I can live with that.
The problem is…they don’t have fun at work anymore.
When I first went back to work (when my kids were in grade school), we still had pot lucks, Christmas lunches, surprise birthday cubicle decorating parties and all sorts of foolishness that is just not done in the corporate world today. Did we not get our work done? Yes, we did! And I didn’t have the overwhelming sense of doom creep up on me every Sunday night that I seem to experience today.
I will never forget my first attempt as a working mom to show how adept I was at running a home and having a career. We were having a pot luck luncheon and I was bringing a black forest cake. A homemade black forest cake. I was pretty happy with the results, too. Two layers of chocolate gooey goodness with cream and cherries perched on top…it was perfection. I wrapped it in Saranwrap (who had cake carrriers back then when we really needed them!) and placed it in the front seat of the car. I herded all the boys and their school paraphernalia into the back seat. Just as I began to back the car out of the driveway – whoosh – here comes a baseball glove flying over the seat and landing right smack dab in the middle of my cake.
I was too stunned to be mad. Why on earth would a kid throw his ball glove into the front seat? He had never done that before (or since, I might add)! Turns out, he didn’t know why either. It just seemed like the thing to do.
Well, I had no backup plan, no time for extra stops at the store. I dropped kids off at school and proceeded to work with my now deflated cake. I debated even taking it in, but for some strange reason decided to go ahead. The really interesting part? There was not one crumb left on the plate after lunch. It seems people at work will eat anything with chocolate on it, too, especially if there is a good story involved. And we laughed for years about the “puddle” cake I took to work.
Twenty years later, I’m back working for the same company. They don’t do lunches anymore. They don’t throw baby or wedding showers. They don’t have Christmas parties or dress up for Halloween. How sad is that? Now we get corporate emails wishing us a happy and safe holiday season. And the really bad part? None of them will ever get to taste one of my famous homemade black forest puddle cakes. Which is probably just as well, I don’t seem to remember how to cook anymore anyway!

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Like the heavily coated bedroom furniture, the rocking chair has been a chair of many colors.
My first recollection involves “rocking” on MaMa and PaPa’s front porch watching traffic and swatting skeeters. At that time there were a couple of chairs and they held no special significance to me except for the opportunity they provided for the grownups to watch us kids climbing antenna wires, hanging from tree limbs, and catching fireflies.
Catching fireflies is a wonderful outdoor sport spoiled only by the combined activity of “chigger” collecting. The later collection could only be accomplished by bare skin, preferably tender young ankles, being directly exposed to grass. I take that back. You could actually have chiggers tasting your skin simply by looking at grass. Even if you wear a full set of body armor, somehow they know that dinner was out there somewhere and by employing transportation methods that are the envy of any Star Trek or Wars fan could be teleported from the “lawn” to your legs. NASA should investigate this phenomenon.
The chair was originally obtained to rock baby Cracker, a fact I did not uncover until I was using it to rock baby Justin. I knew that I had been rocked in it as a baby, because there is a picture of me and MaMa rocking away.
I painted the chair a couple of times to match whatever room it occupied and eventually restrung the seat. It has had chair pads, colorful throws, and several contented, lazy cats for decorations throughout the years, but it doesn’t seem to mind sitting alone on its new front porch waiting for the next grandbaby to get it rocking again.
P.S. I wrote this several years ago, prior to baby Ethan and baby Ryleigh. It’s time to get busy and dust that chair!
P.S.S. Why are my ankles suddenly itching?????

When I was in the sixth grade, I moved from sharing a bedroom the size of a walk-in closet with two younger brothers to my own spacious penthouse apartment. OK. It wasn’t exactly a penthouse apartment, but it might as well have been as far as I was concerned.
After years of sharing a pathway that connected my parent’s bedroom and the single solitary bathroom (containing one of the two closets in the entire house), I thought I had hit the proverbial big time. The only storage space I had during my formative years existed under my bed. We had a single dresser that I had to share with my brothers and I tried all sorts of plans and schemes to make them keep their “stuff” off of my portion of the floor. As do most well-laid plans, these were all destined to backfire one by one.
There was the “plant the evidence” plan where I stuffed a cake batter-covered dish towel under their bed. It wasn’t found for about 3 years and was stiff enough by then to be used to patch the roof. The fact that neither one of them ever actually stirred cake batter (thereby providing an opportunity to drop a dish towel into it) was not lost on my mom.
Perhaps the worst backfire was the “tie the pajamas in knots if they’re ever left on the floor”. Yep, you guessed it. I was the first offender. So I guess, in reality, that plan could have been a success if I hadn’t gotten mad and canceled it.
So you can imagine my excitement when I was able to have my very own full-sized room complete with its own closet (and only one entrance so I never had to be the victim of any drive-by incidents that had plagued my past).
My great-grandfather was in the process of downsizing (he didn’t realize it at that time…back then it was just called “moving to a smaller house”) and my grandmother gave me her mother’s prized three piece bedroom set from The Room No One Was Allowed to Enter (MaMa actually said it like that, like it was all capital letters). The black oak four poster bed, vanity and chest of drawers probably weren’t considered antiques at that time (after all this was a loooonnng time ago), but I’m sure purists would have fainted at my plan to make this a replica of the white bedroom set I’d seen in a catalog somewhere. So I proceeded to put about 30 coats of white paint on it (twenty or so more were added throughout the years) and replace the handles with delicate white and gold pulls. I was enthralled. I was finally a princess.
I redecorated MY bedroom every few years, always being careful to pick a shade of paint that would highlight that bedroom suit. Pale green was probably the most successful. It’s actually back in style again now. The worst was the peach that ended up so orange and bright that it caused many a parent to stop and try to turn the light off when they passed my door. I also vowed never to store anything under the bed again. This promise provided my dad with a place to hide from my mom when she was in her “I think you need a B-12 shot” mood. That vow has also gone by the wayside, since it is now considered trendy to store stuff under your bed. They even make special boxes for it. If only I had realized how far ahead of my time I was, I could probably be the CEO of The Container Store instead of one of their best customers.
My bedroom suit and I traveled the country…from Olustee to Sapulpa to Las Vegas and back to Sapulpa. On its last journey (to my dream home on the lake), I decided it wanted to be free of its many coats of history. Fifteen cans of paint stripper later, all of the white paint has been removed and it sits proudly in all its grandeur in my guest room today just waiting for its new little princess.
After
OK, boys. No fighting over who gets to inherit the ratty old bedroom suit from mom now that you know its provenance (HA…I bet you never thought I would be able to use that word in a sentence!)

My future was shaped by two grandmothers as different in style as they were in appearance.
My father’s mother, Grannie, was tiny, weighing 100 pounds only if she were holding a ten-pound turkey. For most of her life, she had waist length black hair with only a few silver strands that she could comb, braid, and wrap in a bun without looking in the mirror. She raised four sons and ruled the roost with a peach tree switch (the worst kind, so I’m told!) Years later, the “boys” towered over her but still cowered in fear of incurring her wrath. Yet she managed to instill in each of them a love of family and childhood they carried with them throughout life. It was many years before I realized not every ones dad played hide-and-seek, commandeered the basketball court (surrounded by bouncing, screaming children wanting their turn), and hogging the Christmas toys Santa left every year.
Grannie’s primary diet consisted of Pecan Sandies and RC Cola. She is the one who actually coined the mantra, “All I am or ever will be, I owe it all to RC.” We were never able to convince the company to use her as their spokes model.
I remember sitting on her couch eating a box of chocolate covered cherries (she always kept a new box for me) pouring over the Sears and Roebuck catalog. I would carefully decorate and furnish my future home and then choose a lavish wardrobe for my family. It was during one of those visits that she remarked, “I think you’ll have a bunch of kids and they’ll all be boys.” I didn’t realize then, but “bunch” was the key word, as in “several items grouped together.” At the time I picked up on the word “boys.” I thought this over and decided she was probably right. I began crossing off the frilly satin and lace dresses. I probably would have crossed them off at some point anyway. After all, it is difficult to play basketball wearing four petticoats and a pair of patent leather shoes. It can be done, by the way, but no one will give you overs if you slip in the gravel.
My maternal grandmother, MaMa, was big and funny and always on the go. She never missed a “trip into town” or a chance to stop somewhere for a hot fudge sundae. (Is it any wonder I can’t get enough chocolate in my life!) Visits to her house were loud and fun and filled with great food and cousins.
She had the most infectious laugh and we were always trying to be the one that brought it out. No joke was too old or told too often for her. To this day, I don’t know how she could still laugh after the 114th rendition of catching a squirrel by climbing a tree and acting like a nut.
She was the one who told me I would have twins. At least she had the good sense to wait until I was pregnant to make that announcement. Otherwise, who knows what different course history might have taken.

In our quest to find a suitable home for Magic, we located a rescue group on the web that indicated they might be able to help. We were asked to bring her to their facility (about 90 miles from our home) for evaluation.
Can you spell S-U-C-K-E-R-S!
We all piled into the car. This was not as easy as it sounds since the mere sight of a leash sent Magic into full blown hysteria. We had to actually pick her up and put her in the car. Once in the car, she was perfectly behaved and actually seemed to enjoy the outing (as long as she didn’t have to look at the leash). We arrived at our destination, remaining optimistic despite the fact that the “facility” appeared to be a rather run-down house in the middle of town. There was no way we were leaving Magic here, but we thought we might be able to post her picture on their website and oversee the adoption ourselves. So we stupidly got out of the car. Not Magic…apparently she was the only one with any sense.
We were given a tour of the “shelter” which consisted of several pens of wire holding tons of dogs trying to escape through the wire. One dog appeared to have her head stuck in the wire. There was also a blocked off section of the front porch crammed full of puppies. The smell (and keep in mind this is outside) was horrific.
Were we smart enough to retreat with our tails between our legs? OH NO! Not only did we stay, we actually picked up a roly poly pup with a pink nose, pink foot pads, and a white tip on his tail. Did our stupidity stop there? OH NO! We paid a small adoption fee and rescued the little thing from certain death, taking him home to join the crew. Right about now, my maternal instincts are kicking into overdrive. There is something wrong with this dog! I JUST KNOW IT! But we take him home anyway.
Sure enough, one day (and 200 diarrhea clean ups) later, at one minute before closing time, I call the vet. Buffalo Bill Cody has parvo. Never name a puppy before you have the vet check him out. Once they’re named you cannot say “Yes, we should probably just put him down.” Once they are named, you say “OK. Do what you can to save Cody.”
One week and a maxed out credit card later, we bring him home.
Now I’m not saying all this illness (he proceeded to be infected with every type of parasite known to man) is what did it, but this dog is quite possibly the dumbest dog ever to walk the face of the earth. The dog eats wood. He eats wire. He eats toys that are guaranteed to be indestructible. He eats anything else he can fit into his mouth. And his mouth is quite large. Once his medical problems were solved (and the second mortgage on the house was approved) he quickly grew from 5 pounds to over 70. Unfortunately, his brain still thinks he’s a 5 pound dog. He wants to sit in your lap. He wants to lie on the back of the couch. He wants to romp and play with the other 5 pound dogs. His idea of fun (second only to eating his dog house) is to knock you over, run into the house, grab the first dog toy he can find, knock you over again, run out of the house and disappear into the woods to hide the toy, preferably somewhere where there is mud.
We just “celebrated” our first year with Cody and can safely say that he is the most expensive free dog we have ever rescued. They tried to convince us that he was a full blooded pit pull. Now look in those bloodshot eyes and tell me he is not a big old dopey hound dog.
Oh well, ya gotta love a mug like that!!
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After much deliberation (it has just been sitting here for days!), I was thinking that I might begin with a couple of projects that I have recently completed. There’s no learning experience quite like undergoing a major home project. I’ve always said that couples should do a couple of particularly anxiety ridden tasks together before they get married. Nothing brings out someones true colors like lost luggage, trying to pack two houses worth of stuff into one trailer, or a big home repair fiasco.
With our barrage of pets (check out the Crazy Critters category) it is next to impossible to keep carpet clean, so we decided to pull up the ancient carpet from our living room and replace it with a concrete overlay. Moving all the furniture out of the way went pretty smoothly. Ripping up the carpet wasn’t too bad either. Things went downhill from there pretty fast.
We had a guy come out to give us an estimate and to make sure that he would be able to do the stem wall that came up the side of 2 walls of the sunken living room before we ever started. He assured us that it would be no problem. (Learning experience #1 – get every little detail in writing!)
They did a fantastic job of patching a couple of cracks in the floor and were pretty quick with the underlying color, taping of grout marks, and making sure that the color was what we were expecting.



However, it was sometime during this period that we were informed that they would not be able to do the stem wall. They took some money off of the bill (they added money for patching the cracks…that wasn’t included in the estimate) and suggested that we use tile to finish the project. This sounded reasonable until we tried to find someone who would do the actual work. Not only was it going to cost as much as the entire floor had cost, it wasn’t going to look too great since there was a slight dip in the floor that would be accentuated by any linear design.
The next problem was with the epoxy gloss that we chose to put on top to help protect the floor. We were told that it would make the floor slightly darker. (Learning experience #2 – ask for specific examples of how much darker!)


Luckily, we could live with the darker floor. After the initial disappointment, we decided that it was not so bad and things proceeded. Finally, after 2 more days of drying time (a total of five days in exile), we were able to emerge from the 12 x 17 room where we had been living with 2 cats and 2 dogs. We moved the furniture back into place and began the adventure of finding someone to put 6″ of tile around the two walls, including 3 areas that step up into another room and would require a transition piece to finish it off.


After weeks of research, head scratching, and intense discussion (OK..arguing), our only option was to do the job ourselves. I found a place in Oklahoma City that sold a product (FossilCrete http://www.fossilcrete.com/ ) that sounded like it would work for us. Since the space was limited we weren’t going to be able to use a stamp, like they suggested, so I just tried to form shapes like the rocks in our fireplace.
The next step was coming up with a way to paint the shapes so that the colors not only matched the fireplace, but looked somewhat natural and not like painted concrete. We bought a base paint in a tan color and used a dark gray for the grout. I then used four different colors of translucent glaze in varying blends to come up with the different colors shown.
All in all, I’m pretty pleased with the results.


As you may have noticed, I have not followed any particular order in detailing our incredible critters. Hopefully, you won’t think this is because I started this whole endeavor without a clear plan in place. That would imply that I am not organized or logical. Of course, we all know that can’t be it! Of course not. However, it should be noted that this particular event did transpire shortly after the passing of MaMa Kitty. I can think of no reason that it has taken me this long to document, so let’s just dispense with the disappointing noises and looks. OK????? Thank you.

It would probably be considered an understatement to say that our neighbors have noticed our uniquely eclectic collection of wildlife. So it was not unusual for one of the neighbors to call about a stray dog she had seen in her yard for a couple of days. She knew that I worked with someone who volunteered with a local pet adoption service and hoped that we would be able to help find the dog a home. I was working on this solution when I received a call from my husband, Krazy Bob. “Guess what’s in our backyard?” Oh yes, it was! He had sat in the road with bits of food trying to coax the frightened dog into our yard. And, of course, he had been successful.

The poor dog was starving, covered with ticks, and extremely timid (especially around men). It was quite obvious that she had been mistreated. We took her to the vet for tests and shots, feed her (almost constantly) for several days and set about trying to find a good home for her.

None of the animal rescue groups would take her. No one had room. (Let me take this opportunity to stress the importance of spaying and neutering your pets. Please! You’re welcome, Bob Barker.) We took pictures of her, posted them around work, and even drove to a place about 90 minutes away to try to find the perfect place for her. (More on that trip in the next post).

Well, you know the rest. It’s been over a year and Black Magic is happy in her new home. Yes, our home. She is very loving and extremely grateful to be a part of the clan. And the neighbors now have our number on speed dial!

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