Friday, December 11, 2015

Entrusting my life to a teenager

I finally got to ride Devany this summer! I always predicted that I would start riding her as a 3 year old, but alas, her maturity dictated waiting another year. She has been fabulous in every way possible and proven herself to be a steady, reliable, and athletic equine. She is such a personable and relational horse - always whinnying at me when she sees me, including when she's standing in the horse trailer and I get out and say "hi" to her - I love it!

She questions my decisions a lot more than Fancy ever did, and will sometimes give a little squeal or kick out with her hoof if I ask her to proceed where she doesn't think we should. She always gives in, though and ultimately trusts me in the final decision(s) on things. She rarely spooks and has learned to approach anything she fears (as long as I've "got her back" and encourage her forward). 

We've mastered over 61 miles, since June, and already she's yielding to my leg aids, half halts and transitioning from gaits beautifully. She has mastered steep hills (both up and down), rocky terrain, deep mud, river crossings, and jumped over fallen trees. She has encountered 4-wheelers, bicycles, golf carts, barking dogs of all shapes and sizes, blowing tarps, rain + wind, riding in the darkness (oops), deer in the woods, coyotes and hikers. She continues to astound me! I'm so happy with her and so completely in love. :-) 

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Female humans

(In a whisper into my ear, one evening) "Mama, I don't know which is worse. Watching Jevy get out of his bed [after you told him not to], or having to not tell you because Daddy said he doesn't want me telling on Jevy."
"Well, Bundle, aren't you telling me right now?"
"Not really because I'm just whispering and telling you about my troubles. I'm not really telling on Jevy."

"Madigan, what are you doing? You look lost in thought."
"I'm coming up with an hypothesis."
Of course you are... you're your Daddy's son.

After a long day of running errands in preparation for our long journey west, Paugie slid into my lap with his snuggle face on. I inquired, "Paugie, are you alright? Do you know how much I love you?" After a lengthy pause, he replied, "Mama, some days I feel lost without you." Little boy of mine, I will stop this world from spinning right now just to hold you and remind you that you are never lost - I'm here and my heart is yours.

As I helped him into his shirt one morning, I asked, "Madigan, how did you get those scratches on your tummy?"
"Oh, I can't say for certain... it was definitely one of my baby brothers."
"Which one?"
Hesitantly, "Probably the smallest one." Big brother loves little brother.

"Paugie, why do you need to take your shirt off? Is it because you're hot."
"No. I just choked on my milk and now I need my shirt off." I'm really trying to understand...

"Paugie, I need you take a quick shower, so please hop in."
"No, Mommy, I'm too cold and it will make me too much colder."
"Paugie, it's warm water and will help warm you up."
"Whaaaaaatttttt? I CAN'T take a warm shower because I will be so much hotter!"

"Mama, I just got eye boogers out of my nose."

"Madigan, please stop chasing your brother! He's not enjoying it."
"I wasn't chasing you, Paugie, I was chasing the bug that was trying to suck your blood." So, even if you weren't enjoying it, you should be thankful that I always have your best interest in mind. Obviously.

Conversation I overheard between Madigan and Paugie tonight: 
"Madigan, are we humans?"
"Yes, Paugie, we're humans, just a different kind of human [from Mom and Dad]."
"Yes, I know that we are different. I can tell."
"And Mama is a female human, so she's different, too."
"What about our Aunties?"
"Yes, our Aunties are all female humans as well. Aunties are humans that long to see their male human grandchildren. Well, actually, I think it's nephews they are wanting to see. I get it confused, but the important thing is to remember that Aunties are different because they are female humans and they love us terribly."

Here are a few photos from our adventure in Arizona over the past couple of days: 

Friday, December 04, 2015

Powdered Sugar on my boiled eggs

As we brainstormed about additional ways to raise the remaining funds needed to cover Sabina's surgery, we decided to rent our house on Airbnb for the month of December. My parents graciously offered to host us for the month, (Kris had dear friends also graciously offer to host him until he joins us, in a few weeks). So the 7 of us (yeah, that's right: Mama, 4 amazing boys, 1 Scottie for good measure, and the (in)famous white dog (with the broken leg) began our journey westward from Nashville to Arizona. "You can do this", my dear George assured me on the morning of our departure from Nashville - he didn't know how far his faith would carry me in the coming days.

Day 1:
Endless rain, of the pouring variety. Roads water logged. Traffic slow. Visibility impaired, at best.
Traffic stopped on two separate occasions for over 1 hour each.
We're now three hours behind our trajectory, making our intended destination an impossible venture.
Jevy barfs all over his carseat, himself and the seat.
Kelton starts screaming, uncontrollably.
Rain still pelting down.
Call George, crying, to see if he can locate an alternate hotel for us, 3 hours shy of our original destination.
Arrive at alternate hotel. Room on the second floor, by the stairs. Unload kids into hotel room. Key cards don't work (no, they did not get near my cell phone or anything else magnetic - they just didn't work).
Go to front desk to have them reset. Jevy and Kelty scream every time I leave the room to make another trip whilst unloading. Unloading takes 50 minutes. Neighbors across the hall complain to management who complain to me about the noisy children.
Almost done unloading. Take Kelty and Jevy (still covered in vomit) with me to unload Sabina. Key cards don't work. Go to front desk to get them reset. Sabina can't do stairs. Find the elevator where a vicious dog and his owner greet us. Wait for another elevator opening.
Meanwhile, Valiant poops on the floor in the hotel room.
Wash carseat cover in bathtub. Set aside to wash out Jevy's clothes.
Turn around to find Jevy throwing newly cleaned carseat cover in toilet full of pee.
Kelton spills dog water over the entirety of the bathroom floor.
Rewash carseat cover.
Dry carseat with blow dryer.
Dogs won't stop barking throughout the night; fairly sleepless night.
Things can only look up from here. Tomorrow will be better, right?????

Day 2:
Reload car leaving kids upstairs in the hotel room - Kelty and Jevy scream, waking up neighbors, who again complain. Manager knocks on door to inform me of second complaint, which causes Sabina to bark. Manager scowls.
Great day of travel - kids wonderful, everyone in good spirits, hot dogs and Starbucks, weather fabulous, several great stops to walk around and keep ourselves sane and happy, no traffic. Happiness abounding!!!
Arrive at hotel in Nowhere, New Mexico, and get checked in. Restart truck to park and hear horrible clacking under the hood. Discover a broken fan blade (miraculously nothing else appears to be damaged).
Hotel room on second floor by the outside door, again. Unload the car, carting Jevy and Kelty along for each load. Takes 45 minutes.
Go to get ice (with Jevy) and the ice machine is broken.
Downstairs neighbors complain about walking noises above them.
Kelton won't go to sleep and I put his bed on top of my bed, so that the neighbors below won't hear his movements.
I sleep on the floor because Kelty's bed has absorbed all of my bed.
Kelton wakes up all night. Kelton gets a second bottle of milk at 2:00 am.
Fridge in the room breaks, ruining all of our perishable items, except for the 1 gallon of milk that had been frozen.

Day 3: Jevy wakes up at 5:20 and wakes up everyone else.
Reload car, with Kelty and Jevy in tow, lest they wake the blessed neighbors.
Check out of hotel in case we're able to leave this dead town sometime today.  
Drive broken truck to mechanic (2 miles) with much trepidation, lest the fan blades break further.
Mechanic says he can fix it but has to order part from Albuquerque.
Part will arrive tomorrow, possibly as soon as 9 am, but possibly as late as noon, depending on when UPS will deliver.
Mechanic says not to drive car except back to hotel. If another piece breaks, radiator could go.
Drive back to hotel. Ask to re-check in. They say not until 3:00.
Go to car and cry. A lot. Text friend, Shelly. She suggests taking all the kids and crying in front of hotel staff. I do as she suggests, and they let us into the room at 11:00.
Unload car, with Kelty and Jevy in tow. Takes 45 minutes.
Make Mac n Cheese, by pouring boiling hot water on the noodles and letting them soak for 20 minutes. Boys approve. Whew... no restaurants nearby, no vehicle and food in short supply.
Try to turn on Nick kids, but TV doesn't work.
Take kids and Val for a walk, but they all run into stickers - evil stickers. Sit by the side of the road picking out stickers for 1 hour.
Kelton spills the dog water on the hotel floor.
Someone puts washcloths in the toilet (not sure who). At least it was flushed this time.
Let kids run around hotel parking lot for 1 hour.
Running low on clothes... enough for one more day.
Wash my socks and lay over vent to dry.
Order pizza.
Kelton wakes up many times in the night because he's cold - thermostat won't heat above 67 degrees.
Shower at midnight... I'm cold and it's my only "free" time.

*Every time I have to take the dogs out to go potty, Jevy and Kelty have to come so they don't scream, and Sabina has to use the elevator. This part of my day(s) gets wearisome.

Day 4:
Paugie wakes up at 6 and wakes everyone else.
Feed everyone cold pizza and the last of the previously frozen milk.
Dress everyone in last remaining clean clothes: Pajamas.
Try to locate my socks (washed the morning before) only to discover that one is missing through the vortex of nothingness - gone forever. Put on one clean sock and one mismatched dirty sock. Yum.
Reload car, taking Jevy and Kelty back and forth every trip, to prevent panic/screaming.
Wait for a text from the mechanic letting me know part has arrived.
Call mechanic 4 times to see if part has arrived.
Wait until 11:00 am (check out time) to check out, and ask for extension, since part for truck still hasn't arrived. Request denied. Let kids play in parking lot at hotel from 11:00-2:30.
2:45, get text that part has arrived.
Drive truck to repair shop - wait in the truck while it is repaired.
4:00 pm: on the road again.
Krista uses points to get us a really nice room in a really nice hotel.
Find a grocery store (restock milk supply and gather other essentials for the remainder of the trip).
Break glass bottle in grocery store, requiring clean-up from their staff.
Arrive at hotel at 5:00
Unload vehicle, carting Kelty and Jevy along. Room on the fifth floor. Elevator insanely slow. Faster to walk stairs.
Make dinner - first real meal in 2 full days - feed boys, bathe boys.
Kelty spills dog water on bathroom floor.
Take Jevy out with me to potty the dogs for the night in the back of the hotel. Key card doesn't work to come back into hotel. Walk to the front of the hotel to enter. Reset key card.
Put everyone to bed with only diapers - no clean clothes left.
Hand wash clothes in the bathtub so they have clothes for next day. Plan to air dry clothes in front of vents.
Attempt to turn thermostat up a little higher as it is chilly. Thermostat falls off the wall.
Replace batteries, set temp and wait. Nothing.
At 10:00 pm, call front desk to let them know the temp has dropped to 67 degrees. Put more covers on the naked children.
Front desk employee offers to assist me. I place Sabina in the bathroom with the noise machine turned up to full volume jungle noise so that she won't hear the "intruder" and wake the sleeping boys. Employee arrives and kindly offers to show me how to work it. Thermostat falls into his hands. He replaces battery and resets it. When it doesn't come on, he says he can move us to a new room. Boys already asleep. I decline his offer. Temperature continues dropping.
Decide to blog to help refocus and not feel like my sanity is edging on a precipice. Internet needs password. Text Krista for the PW, but my phone decides to stop sending texts.
Call George, sobbing, at 11 pm. Sanity seriously in question. He calms me. Helps me regain hope.
Shaking constantly - fatigue. Stress.

Day: 5
Wake up early - it's cold - and go grab breakfast. Check the salt and pepper shaker lables to ensure they are correct before heaping some onto my boiled eggs. Sit down to feast upon breakfast, only to discover that my boiled eggs are covered in powdered sugar, not salt.
Reload car, carting Jevy and Kelty alongside. Check out of hotel.
Only 7 hour journey predicted - we can do this! Everyone hopeful (though, in all candor, my hope may have been tentative, at best).
Paugie says he needs to go potty. We stop, go potty, As we enter on-ramp to get back onto the highway, Paugie says he has to go potty again. I tell him he will have to wait. Paugie poops in his pants/carseat. Paugie couldn't wait. We pull off at next exit to get cleaned up and regroup (BTW whoever invented babe wipes should be lauded a saint).
Kelty cries. A lot. Sick of traveling. Wants to snuggle with his Mama and blanket. Too much carseat.
Jevy gets motion sickness on the winding mountain roads of Arizona, so we stop every 10 minutes for 2 hours to ensure that barf does not accompany us.
George gives me directions for "short cut" to my parents house (traveling an unfamiliar route). Unfortunately, my parents address is not unique, so directions failed.
Topography all wrong. Road is a dead end. Darkness replacing sunlight. It's okay... I'll just call and get directions.
No cell phone coverage. Drive 10 minutes to locate signal. Get directions. Misunderstand directions (Left vs.West). Drive 30 unnecessary miles. Kids unraveling. Madigan trying to stay positive and keep Mama looking ahead.
Find another cell signal. Call for directions again. Total darkness.
Finally arrive at my parents house!
Prepare the kids for bed. Milk frother (for the nightly warmed milk) breaks. Seriously?
Gumbum (Grandma) sick.

Day 6:
Drive to mountain cabin in Flagstaff to avoid getting sickness from Gumbum.
Heavenly. Fire roaring in the fireplace. Christmas lights sparkling. Boys happy to be free to move, play with toys, watch fire.
Madigan getting sick. Here we go. Sigh.

I may never travel again - that's true. But I've learned some important things on this journey:
  • Bad things do happen, but they could often be much worse
  • I have a lot of ugliness and raw humanity inside that I don't as often come into contact with - it's not pleasant and I'm not pleased by it
  • I have some amazing friends and family
  • My boys are resilient, loving, hopeful and remarkably forgiving