Archives for January 2008

The Black Hole, Part Two

Back in 1988, my new friend, Mr. Psychologist, who was helping me cope with the side effects of the head injury recovery process, shared a word picture that helps me even today.

He said, “Everyone has a sack of pebbles they carry on their back. Some have larger pebbles than others. Some have more pebbles. Some have less.”

I then announced “if everyone has pebbles then I have BOULDERS in my sack.” Remember, head injury patients are prone to ill-timed emotional outbursts and I was a textbook case. These days when I act out I just yell “Coma” so everyone remembers it’s not my fault. It doesn’t really work all that often but can you blame me for trying?

Focus, Sherra, focus.

Okay, so the real lesson here is not that I have boulders and you don’t. I believe we all have pebbles, rocks and boulders and we all cope with them in very different ways.

Your boulders may be bigger and heavier than mine. They come in all shapes and sizes and weights. (Hey, just like people.) We’re not here to judge anyone’s boulders so please, let’s start by not judging mine. We are not in a boulder competition. I repeat, this is not a competition!

Rather, we need to look for ways to help each other see past the boulders, move them, chip them away – do whatever it takes to get that other human being around, over or out from behind the boulder.

Upon realizing that The Black Hole (TBH) was a giant boulder and it was getting in the way of my day-to-day life, I knew I had to do something.

The first thing I did was to make a doctor’s appointment with my OB/gyn. It conveniently coincided with that extra-special annual appointment that we all love so much. I did feel a tiny bit productive multi-tasking like that.

I’m pretty verbal (as if you haven’t already figured that out) and I know the importance of being my own medical advocate. I shared with my doctor who I had been seeing since just after the twins were born, that I was having a hard time “coping” at home and my PMS seemed to be lasting, on average, about 28 to 30 days every month.

I really believe that knowing the rhythm of our bodies is crucial for our health and well-being.

My doctor listened, nodded, and made some notes on his new hi-tech laptop that held my new paperless medical records.

Then he sent me home with the latest, greatest anti-depressant and patted me on the back and said to call if I needed anything else…

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To be continued…

If you missed part one…

The Black Hole, Part One

Or to read more of the riveting story that I probably should just turn into a free ebook…

The Black Hole, Part Three
The Black Hole, Part Four
The Black Hole, Part Five
The Black Hole, Part Six
The Black Hole, Part Seven

Scary Baby scares herself…

Scary Baby has always been good at finding ways to occupy herself. On this day two years ago, we were all inside when we heard an ear-piercing scream in the backyard. By the time Roger Leroy had flung the deck door open to see what was happening, Scary Baby had made it around to the front porch. She was banging on the front door screaming, “I’M BLIND, I’M BLIND.” We opened the door to see this (except she had clothes on and her eyes were shut)…

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This is what happens when you beat a can of spray paint with a rake.

PhilBillPaul yelled at Wizzy to go to the basement and get PAINT THINNER.

Sometimes our loved ones do not think clearly when faced with an emergency. PAINT THINNER???

I scooped up Scary Baby and ran upstairs with her and put in her in the bathtub while trying to calm her screaming and saying, “Keep your eyes closed tight and I’m going to rinse them with water. It’s going to be okay…”

Meanwhile, Roger Leroy had gone to the backyard and recovered the evidence–one very dented can of spray paint and a garden rake.

I’m not bragging here but I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you that…poison control said flushing with water was the right move and did not recommend using PAINT THINNER on her skin or hair.

Paint residue remained in her hair for several weeks.

I’m very happy to report her eyesight was not damaged.

Life Lesson (LL):Cans of spray paint, rakes and unsupervised children don’t mix well.

Share a Life Lesson (SALL):Any good stories you can share about leaving a child unsupervised so I can feel better about my slacker mom skills?

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The Black Hole, Part One

My journey into The Black Hole was not as easy to summarize as I first thought. Here is the beginning of the story that I will continue to share in the coming weeks. Not because I think the details are fascinating or I am trying to be more depressing, but because if my story can help just one woman who is going through something similar, I want to reach out to her…

I have discovered that I have the ability to muddle through even when life gets hard. It’s part of who I am. A stubborn, hardworking, Midwestern girl who knows bad things can happen to good people.

I have also discovered that it really takes a lot to send me spiraling into “The Black Hole” but spiral is what I do when faced with boulders. (More on boulders on another day.)

So far, three boulders have been put in front of me that have overwhelmed me enough to warrant intervention, professional counseling and/or drugs:

Boulder #1: The car crash, coma and learning to live with a head injury. May 1988

Boulder #2: Helping my mom take care of my dad when he was dying of multiple myeloma. February 2000

Boulder #3: An explosion with a flash fire at our house where PhilBillPaul and I suffered severe 2nd degree burns. September 2006

Lest you think I’m whining, I share these things with you to give you a bit more insight into who I am and let you know that I don’t typically fall apart when life gets hard.

I now realize that the fire was really a post-traumatic stress trigger. It brought up feelings so similar to the car crash “boulder” that it was almost eerie.

Except this time I had three teenagers and a 2nd grader and two dogs and I could barely function. It took all my strength to get out of bed and get cleaned up to “appear to be fine” at a school function or sporting event or anywhere in public.

My semi-rational brain knew that old adage of “surround yourself with positive people” is usually true.

Unfortunately, my irrational brain was working overtime. Positive people were the last people I wanted to be around. They can be very irritating to those of us who are not feeling so positive. Positive people were not invited into The Black Hole. This was a private party for one, thank you very much.

So I started avoiding doing anything that required me to get out of bed or get cleaned up or basically interact with other humans beyond my immediate family.

I was anti-social and preferred to be in my bedroom (in my bed) whenever possible. I answered the phone as little as possible.

I was a barrel of fun to live with.

To be continued…

To read more of the riveting story that I probably should just turn into a free ebook…

The Black Hole, Part Two
The Black Hole, Part Three
The Black Hole, Part Four
The Black Hole, Part Five
The Black Hole, Part Six
The Black Hole, Part Seven

Weather Alert: Georgia Blizzard!

Snow HIT Georgia last night in case you didn’t see this National News Story. Thankfully, my daughters took some pictures.


Since I grew up in the Midwest, I don’t really freak out when it snows. But I respect the fact that it is an exciting time for people who see snow just a few times in their life. I think it’s a marvelous thing for kids to experience.

Sometimes I even get a little sad thinking my kids have missed some really great winter activities like sledding, skiing and snowmobiling.

As you can see, we got a a really, thick blanket of snow. I wish I had a picture of my 8 year-old standing in the street with an umbrella watching the snow fall for two hours freezing but full of glee.

The 11:00 news story made me laugh. I know these kinds of interviews are what gives the South a bad name. You know what I mean, as if people in the south aren’t the sharpest tools in the shed…

They actually interviewed a grown man and a 17 year-old boy who described how he made a snowman. It went something like this and you’ll have to insert your own twang while reading:

I started with a small snowball and then I started rollin’ it all over the yard and it just kept gitin’ bigger and bigger then I made another one and another one. Then I went inside and got him a hat.

Then they showed his creation which I’m sure was a very proud moment for him and his maw and paw.

You might think I’m makin’ fun. But I can’t. Not really. Because then my 16 year-old twin daughters came in and showed me this picture of their very own creation.

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Enough said.

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It gets Different…

BIG LIE #2

“It will get better.”

LIE LIE LIE

That’s what countless moms tell each other. I know–they’ve told me. I can promise you that I have never, ever said that to anyone!

Truth:

It will get DIFFERENT.

You may or may not enjoy different parts of parenting and when we compare stories we will surely disagree on what part was “easiest.”

For me, I love, love, love the zero to 12 month stage. I truly love the sweet baby stage.

Favorite part: I like that when you put them somewhere, you come back and they’re still there and they don’t talk back. For me, after they became mobile it was all over.

Still to this very day, I find myself chanting, “I’m not qualified for this job.”

So what stage are you at? What stage have you liked best so far?

Not your average mom

This is not your average mom blog. But then again, I’m not your average mom.

I’m the girl who said she “might” have kids but two at the most.

I have four kids.

It would be lovely if I could tell you how we planned each pregnancy and I glowed with excitement at the thought of becoming a mom. That would be BIG LIE #1.

The complete story of *why* we have 4 children will come soon. Don’t get your panties in a wad that I’m damaging their self-esteem by telling the truth. Each child is truly a gift from God and we love, love, love them.

We just don’t like, like, like them all the time.

Oops, sorry, I’m getting off topic (the random thing again…)

When surprise baby #1 arrived life got a lot more complicated. Then surprise baby #2 became baby A and baby B (“Do twins run in your family?” the sonogram technician calmly asked and then said, “I see two sacs” to which I replied, “Two sacks of what?”)

Then, because they all were pretty darn cute and I have this thing about even numbers in families, we PLANNED baby #4 who everyone quietly thinks was a surprise.

We’re way past potty training though I am sure I’ll find a way to entertain you some bathroom stories. Our family enjoys a little toliet humor now and again.

Bridging the gap from toddlers to teenagers—that’s my goal when I write.

It’s that pivotal time in life when moms stop talking and start lying. They smile and decide it would be easier to lie than to tell the truth.

This is when women start to alienate themselves from those old playgroups and friendships and connections. This is the time when sending a happy holiday card letter is easier than explaining what’s really going on at home (aka finding the positive, hiding the negative; hence the “happy” part of the card which is why I love to read them but have never written an “official” holiday letter).

This is when life starts to get really, really interesting.

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I am a severe head injury survivor

“I’m not the ‘me’ I used to know.”

That sentence sums up for me how I’ve felt since I woke up from a coma in June 1988.

The quote is from another traumatic brain injury survivor. I have since lost that little scrap of paper I carried around in my wallet for many years.

In one moment my world was turned upside down.

We were hit head-on by a drunk driver. I was driving and the most seriously injured. I was airlifted to Bayfront Medical Center and was in a coma for eleven days.

Something happens when you have been to the edge of death and have been given a second chance at life.

Phillip and I had been married just seven short months and we lived in Tampa, Florida. The crash happened on Friday night, Memorial Day weekend at about 11:30 pm on our way home from Clearwater to Tampa. I was driving. Phillip was in the passenger seat. An old friend and my roommate before we got married was in the backseat. We had actually driven over to Clearwater to feed her boss’s dogs. I volunteered to drive as they were both tired from a long week of work.

We never made it home.

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I have always known that if I had not been wearing a seat belt, I would have died that night. (Airbags or automatic seat belts did not become mandatory in passenger vehicles until the next year.)

Phillip was the only one who was able to get out of the car and get help. The drunk driver had crossed the center line and I took the brunt of the impact. A two lane highway with water on the right side. No one could have driven out of it. It took me many years to really understand that.

My friend was trapped in the backseat with a crushed hip. I had grand mal seizures and I stopped breathing on the helicopter. I was put on a ventilator at the hospital and the next night, my heart stopped beating.

Believe me when I say it is a miracle that I am typing this today. That I can walk and talk is nothing I take for granted.

I’ve lost count of the life lessons I’ve learned from this experience.

Maybe, in the coming weeks, I’ll start by sharing the things I did in the hospital when I woke up. Let’s just say I was very, very busy…

It will be 20 years on May 27, 2008.

It is a date we will never forget.

It is an anniversary we do not celebrate.

It is our life and the people we love that we treasure…

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Clam Chowder. Love it or hate it?

This is the time of year when I love to have soup for dinner at least once a week.

If you love clam chowder, then you’re in the right place. Here is a recipe I’ve had for more than 20 years. I got it from and old friend’s mom. She got it from a restaurant in the St. Louis area.

Being the professional google researcher that I am, I checked to see if the restaurant is still in existence and tried to confirm if the recipe is authentic or a copy-cat recipe. My best guess is that it is a copy-cat recipe.

Some of you may recognize the restaurant so here’s a bit of history and nostalgia for you about Noah’s Ark in St. Charles, Missouri.

This soup is excellent and so easy to make. Pretty much anything that takes a quart of half and half is going to be tasty (just my opinion). Let me know if you make it and if you like it!

Our way: I used minced onions or onion salt. I do not buy onions. I do not chop onions. Onions are a vegetable, aren’t they? I cook on a stovetop and have never baked soup in my life.

Clam Chowder

  • 1/2 stick butter (also known as 4 Tbsp)
  • 1 medium onion (chopped)
  • 1 can clams (drained)
  • 2 cans Campbell’s® New England Clam Chowder
  • 3 cans Campbell’s® Potato Soup
  • 1 quart half & half
  • salt & pepper to taste

Melt butter and sauté clams for 15 minutes. Mix all ingredients together. Cook for 4 hours on stovetop or bake 1 hour at 350°

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Happy 2008!

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