Test Time!

Okay, not so much a test as it is a survey. Just wanted to see if anyone started to sweat. No? M’kay, figured.

So, I’m wondering a bit about the lovely folks who read this lil’ ol’ blog. That’s where Survey Monkey comes in. (And I didn’t get paid for saying their name. Although it is fun to say. Anything with “monkey” in the name = gold.)

Just clicky-click this link to answer a handful of questions that’ll help me in the running of Meg, Acting Out:



Fancy! Not.

Pretty easy, no? And while you’re at it, if you’d like to share any of your own suggestions, feel free to leave a comment! I’m open to constructive criticism…and funny GIFs.

Thanks, in advance, for your time and input!

Mesothelioma Awareness Day

You may be wondering why I’m writing on a non-Monday, Wednesday or Friday (my usual posting days).

Well, I received a sweet email from a kind blog reader named Heather who shared her harrowing story of cancer survival with me. Needless to say, I was touched. Who among us hasn’t been touched by cancer of one form or another? So, when she asked if I’d help her get the word out about Mesothelioma Awareness Day today (and to spread some hope — one grim prognosis and 7 years later, she is a survivor!)

Her goal is to reach 7,200 social media shares. Please help us out! πŸ™‚

Here’s the link for her page on the Mesothelioma web site:

Knowing the exposure that my stepfather had to asbestos, through his work on construction sites and other plumbing projects, and that he’s had a lung growth monitored for many years, this hits home for me (as it does to many others, I’m sure). Please take a moment to visit the site and especially check out her video. If it raises awareness, great! If nothing else, maybe it’ll be just a simple pause and reminder to appreciate the good in your life.

Have a great Thursday!

Reset Button

Since Dave started his wonderful new job in the world of PR (and, more recently, after having a health scare with Hadley), his perspective has changed…which means that our family perspective, too, has shifted. While I wish my schedule was more conducive to accommodating his new ideas, I’m generally ecstatic to see the changes.

His mind is far freer to explore the parts of life he had grown out-of-touch with. He’s able to put his time and energy into his writing, but also researching healthy living ideas (sometimes even happening upon articles or websites that I had showed him a year or two ago that he didn’t have the time or mental astuteness to look into), decor for his awesome new office, family activities, and more.

I’ve always loved my husband (obviously…well, maybe not obviously, but I’m saying it here — I’ve always loved my husband!), but I hate, hate, hated what his previous job did to him. I didn’t necessarily hate the job itself, but the fact that he was always beat, always on-call to fix problems or post to the web (or getting called in), always experiencing weird chest pains, always full of stress and anger and anxiety, rarely able to help out around the house (I tried my best to juggle cooking, cleaning, baby-bathing…his one joy of the day that I was glad for him to do was reading the baby his bedtime stories), rarely able to enjoy life…that, I hated.

But, with his new job, even if he tries to stay late, his co-workers will call him out and say that it’s time to go home. *clouds part, angels sing* There’s practically no way for him to over-work. It’s beyond lovely.

So, with this newly-freed mind, here are a few ideas that he has happened upon…


These are all part of one topic in our conversation. The Chipotle commercial to which we’re referring is this “Scarecrow” vid (which even has its own game app…yes, I downloaded it, although I simply lack the coordination to play games with a phone. It’s a fact.) which evokes almost every emotion a person can have. Don’t believe me? Check out this article. The guilt, anger and sadness is horrible…the ending, a little uplifting and inspiring that we can, possibly, make a difference in what we eat.

If only we had a Chipotle restaurant in our area. From there, we discussed other things that we can do since any chain restaurants (and a vast majority of the locally-owned ones) have deplorable ingredient sourcing practices. We also recently made the realization that the only places that are 24-hour around our joint are Wal-Mart (we don’t go there) and McDonald’s. When we needed a last-minute prescription for the baby, Dave had to drive 45 minutes away to finally get the stuff (all the local pharmacies closed EARLY…E-A-R-L-Y)!

The local eating website he shared was okay, but I still prefer localharvest.org (it’s easier to search, has more information, and is just cleaner-looking). That’s just how I feel. πŸ™‚

So, what’s the take-away here? We’re going to work on eating better…TOGETHER. It’s not as much of an “I’ll go grocery shopping and try to figure this thing out on my own because my husband’s got more on his mind than bananas” situation (although there are crazy times of the week that I will head there on my own for a few of the essentials). Instead, he’s going to help…and even *gasp* cook from time to time. *clouds part, angels sing*

Β 
Yaaaay, score! We didn’t have much vacation-age going on over the summer since Dave was (all together now) leaving his job (and needed to give them numerous weeks, no vacation time to be used, to help out…worth it in the end, but the summer kinda sucked because of it for him). We usually take one Friday off to go visit Old Forge. They have an awesome farmers’ market, then we hang out by the lake and walk around town doing touristy things, then finally eat at “The Old Mill” (or some other place like that).

So, while we’ve officially missed that train for the year, knowing that we can head up north to take in the autumn scenery (the Adirondacks ROCK for that) and have a casual time of it (read: if the baby melts down, it won’t be in the middle of a nice restaurant or something) sounds like heaven to me.

(I’m also hoping that may be a gateway to finding some family-friendly hiking up north. *fingers crossed* Man, I hope the hubby’s reading.)

Needless to say, I’m very much enjoying this new job situation. πŸ™‚

Autumn Decor – A Modern Mismatch

So, my attention had been diverted from any and all thoughts of autumn decor with our little guy’s health scare. Things are getting back to usual around here, though, and it’s nice to have a little mental break, so I’ve decided I need to join a party — a link party!

Today’s post is the mantel zshuzshing theme. Since I’ve only got a fake mantel (actually a relatively small shelf), I did some accessorizing there, as well as on the nearby “awkward places” that separate our living room and dining room. Uuuummm, yeah. The pictures help explain that a lil’ bit.

Since I haven’t been able to hit up the craft stores with going-on two weeks of family illness creating homebodies out of all of us, (and our grocery store only carried cruddy orange pumpkins…some already painted! What’s the fun in that??), I didn’t have the items I wish I had to accessorize. I know. Excuses, excuses.

So, instead I decided to work with what we have BUT to keep it simple…for once. πŸ˜‰ Given that I DID have Clementines on hand (Vitamin C!!!), I did end up with a punch of color.

I did realize that I mixed some metals, in faux mercury glass hurricane vases and some brassy accessories, and I’m surprised that I actually like the effect. I still don’t feel comfortable wearing my white gold ring with my brassy necklaces, but I’m getting over it. Am I the only one??

The “mantel” itself has a mix of textures: the shiny brass on the school bell, shimmering glass of the mini-hurricane and clock, earthiness of old wine corks and wood tones, softness of my gloves (I have another antique pair of leather ones that I’m considering switching out)…and it’s all grounded by the vintage books.



As far as the “awkward spaces”, I kept it vintage yet clean and unfussy. So, in a weird way, it comes off as modern. Scary. It’s like I planned it or something. Don’t believe it!

The left side has a project that I completed a few years ago — an old skeleton key glued to some nice textured fabric in a frame, easy peasy — as well as a simple vignette of a stack of old mags, an old mustard yellow book, a hurricane vase…and a couple of oranges to finish it off. Simple but nice.



The right side has some layering from one of my textured scarves (use whatchya got!), a vintage cake stand, another hurricane vase (to balance both sides from afar), a brassy cup filled with oranges (probably a candle holder), my spiky white urchin, and a tiny antique print. Again, a mix of old and new that somehow comes across as modern. Well, whadya know about that?





I’m sure I’ll add something here or there when I finally get out to grab the crafty items I was hoping to grab (and as I work on the other projects; rotations happen, people. That’s autumny, right? Substitutions? Football?). So, there we have it! What’re you doing to fall-ify your place?
Linking up at Thrifty Decor Chick (love her!).

Friday the Thirteenth

Dave posted his version of this story (in a wonderfully succinct yet emotional way), so I can luckily edit mine back a bit…ha, right. There are parts that I just don’t want to forget; there are others I forgot the moment they happened that he probably included. Here’s my version, mostly so that I can look back in a week, a month, years, and remind myself of our luck and happiness.

I completely jinxed myself. In a major way. First, I was mentally celebrating Hadley’s 14-month “birthday” (even posting it on Facebook, which is big for me lately), joking that Friday the 13th isn’t unlucky since he was born on the superstitious day — and what a joy he’s been since. Plus, the prior Wednesday, I wrote that I’d try to write some lighter blog posts, and Friday I followed through. Then, in a very real way, all hell broke loose.

We awoke on Friday to find that Hadley had a low-grade temperature. He was relatively normal, but still tired (since I often get him up at 6:45 to rush off with Daddy by 7am), but a) it was too late for me to call in to work (and my schedule this year has yet to be re-printed, so it would’ve been tough to provide sub plans, even emergency ones), b) he was going to have a day alone with his grandma, so he was going to have one-on-one care, and c) it could’ve been teething for all we knew, although his little cousin had had what seemed to be a virus earlier in the week which consisted of about a day or two of sluggishness and fever that safely ran its course. All signs pointed to being safe to head to work.

Since Dave was going to be promoting his online comic series at a local convention all weekend, I headed off to Utica to pick the little man up after work. I had received a few updates throughout the day, and was asked if he should have some more Tylenol before I picked him up. I wish I had answered sooner rather than finally getting to the text and saying he could wait until I got there. We can’t say that would’ve helped the situation or not, though, but regardless…hindsight is painful.

Something felt wrong as I drove. I couldn’t put my finger on it. Was it the high-stress workweek I had just completed? Was it a change in the weather? My nerves were up, and I must admit they haven’t totally let up yet.

When I arrived, I found a concerned grandmother holding the little man, clearly sluggish and seemingly watching TV. She mentioned that he had been shivering, but had recently had a strange shake, and that we might want to take him to urgent care that evening. Then things took a sudden downward spiral.

We gave him some children’s Tylenol (a natural version) but I noticed that he wasn’t sucking on the syringe the way he usually does. In fact, he was hardly moving, and he hadn’t responded to me once (very, very rare for suddenly having a parent arrive). We both agreed I should call his pediatrician. After running to the car to get my phone and finally calling, they agreed that we should take him to the hospital. During that time, he grew worse, clearly in the middle of a seizure.

Donna drove my car while my tremoring voice constantly assured my now vomiting little baby that everything would be alright. I was breathless. He wasn’t acting violently in his carseat; the Tylenol and what appeared to be drool and bile oozed from his mouth, his eyes glassed over and almost closed, his body both stiff and limp simultaneously. The hospital, only a handful of blocks from my mother-in-law’s home, showed itself before us and I ran in what felt like slow motion into the ER (nearly knocking over a man pushing a walker), hardly stopping to talk to the staff. Thinking back, I felt he was already brain dead in the car. I felt we were losing him. That fear still hasn’t left my gut, although he’s with us, able to eat, to play, to move again.

The ER staff was absolutely incredible, the best medical technicians I have ever seen in my life. They insisted that things would be fine, and while I trusted them, I didn’t believe them. Normally, I trust medical personnel (whether I should or not) and put my faith in their hands, but their actions and tones of voice indicated that they were highly concerned. I didn’t leave his side, feeling as if I had absolutely zero control over what was happening…and I didn’t. None of us did.

His fever hadn’t gotten that high, maybe 103 at the most. Babies can hit 105 or so commonly (although it’s not a good thing), but I was later reminded that we have a few family members who naturally run a low temp, so there’s a chance that the 102-point-whatever that he reached might have been his “high”.

About 45 minutes to an hour after arriving, which felt more like 10 minutes, he started seizing again, his eyes rolling and his body shaking, which concerned the (AWESOME!!!!!) doctor since his temperature at that point was below 100. We later figured that he had simply spiked too much, but he was honest with us that it was rare for a child with “no fever” (practically no fever, at least) to seize, so this was the point that his father and I had to decide how much testing we needed to do. (Dave had come straight to the hospital, as did his father.) His brain might have damage. It could be meningitis. It could be something else we were completely unaware of.Β 

I wanted to sing to him more than anything on Earth, to talk to him with a calm demeanor but my body wouldn’t allow me to. I whispered in his ear and kissed his face, but I’m not sure anything I said made sense. I was in shock. I was starving, I wanted to go to the bathroom, but I couldn’t move from Trauma 2. At times, I held him, my limp little doll, receiving no indication that he knew I had him. For the first time, there was nothing my mother’s love could do to fix the situation. I ached from the numbness. I would have rather died in that moment than to see him lost.

We made a fast decision to do a spinal tap to determine if it was meningitis. I looked into the doctor’s eyes, which were anxious but kind, and I nervously told him that I trusted him. We shared an unspoken awareness and respect in that moment. Hadley was stable (albeit still unresponsive), so we were taken to a quiet room while they did the procedure, picking my sister up at the door along the way. She later told me that she wanted to throw up or pass out when she saw the looks on our faces; we all looked like we had already lost him, apparently. I think we all were in serious shock.

After 15 years…minutes…we were led back and I held him, his pale body in nothing but a diaper with oxygen and IV tubes wrapping us up together. I rocked him subconsciously as the doctor said that it seemed we were clear for meningitis. It was discussed that if the seizures continued or they couldn’t determine cause that we would be heading to Syracuse (the best place in the area for a sick child, but dauntingly terrifying for us to be an hour from home…there are worse things, though, and I was glad they were willing to hand his case over if need be), during which a family tiff arose over whether we’d use an ambulance or helicopter. The doctor, Dave and I agreed that an ambulance would be safest and simplest (not to mention cheapest) and I had to silently but stalwartly put my foot down; we’re the parents, we make the decisions. Luckily, everyone understood; besides, I said, it might not even come to that. Part of me wished we could be alone with our son; another part of me was happy to be surrounded by support.

The next decision was whether or not to expose the little guy’s brain to the radiation of a CAT scan to determine whether there was any brain damage. The irony of all the little choices we make to make our little boy as healthy as we can, every organic cheese stick or homemade whole wheat muffin, hit me hard. One in 5,000 chance of developing a tumor; not a huge risk, but not a small one. After some conversation amongst the family (my mother had also arrived, thank God, looking just as hopeless as I felt), though, and lots of mental flip-flops, I had already decided. For the most part, I had been quiet. Shock, fear, and hopelessness will do that. But, I needed to know for the future if every twitch or strange behavior (which may or may not be a normal reaction of a young child) was actually due to a seizure he had when he was 14 months. I had to know.

I held him on a gurney as Dave and I were ushered to radiation. Along the way, we passed a sweet family with an infant and a child just older than Hadley. I couldn’t help but look at them with tear-filled eyes and a half-smile, silently telling them to hug their kids a little tighter at bedtime, then hang my head. Watching his little body lie in that huge machine as his perfect little brain appeared piece-by-piece in a blue image on a screen, I immediately knew he was okay. I was starting to feel more hopeful, but still couldn’t breathe.

The anti-seizure medication wore off as time went on, and while he wasn’t smiling or normal in the slightest, seeing his droopy eyes start to work again was encouraging. Still, I couldn’t breathe fully, or think much, or allow myself to let my guard down. I figure it’s probably how a mama out in the wilderness feels after a close-call attack from a predator; it’s a relief, but they must still be on high-alert…constantly.

Dave’s parents arrived with mountains of food for us, my mother had arrived at some point, and the nurses said that we could try some apple juice with the baby since he needed fluids (although he also had the IV); we later found out that the small pouch of food and fluids he downed was a no-no since there was a higher chance of asphyxiation during the night if he had another seizure or anymore vomiting. Dave decided to take his car home with his dad (to have a ride back) and to grab necessities for us and feed the cats. As my sister, and later my mother left, I could see that they were still concerned. We clearly weren’t out of the woods and the night ahead was sure to be difficult.

Still on a gurney, the baby and I, along with Donna (my partner in tragedy, at this point) were brought to Room 357, which housed a cage-like bed for Hadley and a smaller-than-a-twin hospital bed which Dave and I ended up sharing for the night. I don’t remember whether I held the baby after settling in or if he went into his “cage” (exhausted and still under the effects of medication), but I chatted with Donna until Dave came, starting to feel as if everything might just be okay. My heart was still in my throat that the night could prove terrifying.

The baby received a regimen of painkillers/fever reducers throughout the night. The rest is a blur — about 2 hours of sleep for each parent, some fussiness but general exhaustion from the baby, a rebellious breastfeeding at 3am (I know his hungry cries (obviously), and I also knew I wasn’t going to be sleeping the rest of the night so if there were issues with seizing and choking, I’d catch it immediately), lots of IV bag changing, chest listening and hiney temp checks (which was getting sorer and sorer since a bout with diarrhea had started). The more aware he became, the more pulling-out of his nasal oxygen tube he did, clearly frustrated, himself. His temperature was still fluctuating, but not higher than 102 (generally between upper 99s and 101s.

When morning broke, his oxygen was checked and deemed fine; only the IV left to go. It was also decided to try some food, of which he ate an entire pancake, yogurt (ugh, with corn syrup), at least 1/2 a banana, some juice and milk. Kinda usual for him. He still didn’t look at all like himself, but his energy grew and he became fidgety without being able to toddle around or play much.

A doctor finally came and Hadley’s mood was pretty cheery by this point. His fever had yet to break (still fluctuating between upper 90s and lower 100s) but the doctor thought that his condition was good enough to go home. At this point, we were confident that we could handle it since he was acting more like his old self.

Over the few hours that it took to write up our release papers, however, he started to show signs of sluggishness like the day before, and his fever hit the 102 area. Again, this doesn’t seem very high for a baby, but with a usually low resting temp this was discouraging. (I also wish the doctors took this into account more, but it is what it is.) We let the head nurse know of our concerns about heading home and found out that, because the doctor had already signed off, we could stay but our insurance probably wouldn’t cover it. Eep.

We called our doctor’s office (since they doctor through another hospital). We called my mother. We called a friend who just happens to be a patient advocate. Anxiously, we finally decided just to bring him home and see what we could do for him, sure to ask exactly what to do if he had another seizure.

Within 45 minutes of returning home, the baby was still “sick looking” but acting a lot better and had a much lower fever. We slept on his floor that night, a sleeping bag unzipped, blankets and pillows piled, a cool mist humidifier flowing. The cats slept closely, clearly concerned about our little family.

Things improved, although his temp still fluctuated, and we both decided to stay home Monday with him. We cuddled and hit him with the BRAT(TY) diet (for his diarrhea), and slept alongside his crib again Sunday night. Monday, we visited his doctor to determine if we were doing what we should be.

Still giving pain/fever reducing medications on an alternating schedule, he has since maintained a lower temperature but developed the sniffles and a croup-like cough. And, of course, Mommy has, too. The lack of sleep, general worry over him and what not left me open for that, I figure. I ended up taking an entire week off from work, between taking care of him early in the week and coming down with the nasties myself the rest of the week.

It was the epitome of a roller coaster weekend, and we both left it with a very changed life perspective. After experiencing some scary local events earlier this year, I can still say that this was the most terrifying moment either of us have endured to this point in our lives.

That being said, we’re no fools. We know that febrile seizures are common — like, one in every 25 kids common (and 1/3 of those that experience them will have more). We’ve heard from friends (um, and even strangers) whose kids or grandkids or niece’s child or (you get the point) have had them. In some ways, it’s encouraging and humbling to know we’re not the only people on Earth (or even on our block) to go through this. We’re not special, of course, and we know it. I’d like to call it the Febrile Seizure Club if it comes to that.

But that doesn’t diminish how frightening the experience was for us or anyone else present, or what it taught us about life, its preciousness, and even the importance of embracing the moment. So, thanks for indulging me in getting our story out there. We’re grateful for the opportunity.Β 

Speechless

For once in my life, I find myself devoid of words to explain what’s happening. Let’s just say our family’s been experiencing a bout of illness (which even landed us in the ER last Friday), so I’m taking a little time away. I’m also working on a post about that scary turn, but need my head a bit clearer before hitting “publish.”

Thanks for your patience. You’re so kind. πŸ˜‰ (“The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That” reference FTW!)

Side note: Doesn’t this guy look like Matthew from Downton Abbey?
(May he rest in peace.)

Falling Into Style

While I tend to experience an anxiety spiral at the beginning of every school year (just tellin’ it like it is), the return of fall is still one of my favorite parts of living in upstate New York. It’s by far our favorite season. The colors. The crispness. The apples (and apple products). The corduroy jackets. The comfort food. What’s not to love?

I like to incorporate the different seasons into our home decor, but try to avoid the blatant leaf garlands and what not. Even at Christmastime, I try to use cozy items that will carry us past the holiday and through winter. I’ve even outgrown some earth tones (which I once really liked) and the rusts, golds, and oranges that usually encompass autumn. So, I’ve been on a search for some ways to switch things up a bit without falling prey to the old autumn gimmicks.

Enter Pinterest, stage left. It still takes some searching and sifting, since there is a healthy dose of bedazzled faux pumpkins (I kid you not; I’m all for using fake pumpkins year-to-year, but the sparkles…oh, the sparkles) and ghostly projects, but I did find some ideas that at least get my juices flowing (um, ew).

Source (original Source)

Wait. Dude. Didn’t I just say no autumn garlands? Yes, yes, I did. You are correct. This, however, isn’t your mother’s fake leaves attached with tiny plastic tubing to attempt the look of nature in the most unnatural of ways. (Actually, I don’t remember my mother attempting this. I clearly didn’t acquire her taste in the gene pool of life.) And, for the record, I used to decorate with those things. πŸ™‚

Plus, while this “garland” technically has some fall colors goin’ on, it’s also able to walk the line into other seasons pretty easily. I’ve also seen several garlands using rustic-looking cloth which I’d love to try.

Source

Wow, another Etsy find! I could just buy it, but then what would be the fun in that?? I don’t need the rhinestone awesomeness or even the swirly…what is that dusty messy looking stuff? Anyhoo… The decoupaging of book pages seems simple enough, but if I could find a stamp or book with a neat print or image, I’d be all over it. I have enough ancient books hanging around this place, I should be able to find something…right?

Not to mention, the styling of the other products at Cloth and Patina give me gobs of inspiration right there. Knowing that you can attain “AUTUMN” with creams, crystal, porcelain, and paper makes me pretty happy.


If I did want a splash of color here or there, I’d totally try this. Painters’ tapeΒ + paint + pumpkin (real or fake) = a fun way to add some pattern (and the only chevron in the house is one of the fitted sheets for the baby’s crib…he’s so much hipper than us). If I didn’t want to ruin the neutrality from above, I can see a cream-and-gray tonal one. Can’t you?

Source

We can’t ignore the table, right? Even though I honestly can’t remember the last time we sat at our dining room table, as a family, to eat a meal. Easter? (We generally eat at our tiny kitchen set-up out of convenience.) And, odds are Thanksgiving will be another year of table hopping at out parents’ houses. But, a girl can dream, right?

The cool thing about this little tableau is that I already have an awesome antique drawer/box thingamajigger that would provide a neat-o replacement for this rustic box. Mix in some white pumpkins (vs. the traditional orange), and I’m a happy camper.

It saddens me to take down the Beatles quote that’s currently hanging in our living room, but chalkboard art is meant to be enjoyed, then changed. Hey, much like a season! Look at that, being all metaphorical. Anyhoo, I like this Camus quote (although we’re working with a horizontal board, so I’d have to finagle it). Oooorrrr…

Source

…I could try THIS, or something like it. Hmm. Again, a girl can dream, right?


Here are a few pops of inspiration that only need a few words of explanation:

Use this idea as a small piece of framed “art”?


Source
Three words: Mercury “glass” pumpkins. LOVE.


Source
I adore the simplicity of this one. It’s somehow earthy, textural, warm, monochromatic and modern, all at the same time. I’m on the hunt for some wheat.

So, while I may not implement all of these ideas, or even half of them, they give me a good jumping off point from which to start. And the first step is going through the stuff I have already, big and small, that might work. Goodness knows I have a buttload of candles and cylindrical vases. πŸ˜‰

What do you think? Elegant? Rustic? Or too bland? Do you prefer warmifying your house with the colors of the season? There’s totally nothing wrong with that! After all, after I get past the initial “aw, crap!” of seeing the first leaves change, I get a huge thrill taking a short road trip to a cider mill amidst the colorful rolling hills. Ahh. Now I want cocoa.

P.S. Happy 14-month “birthday” to Hadman! Every Friday the 13th I find myself growing nostalgic for that day and sad (yet proud) of what a bright, sweet little person he’s become. *sniff, sniff*

Framed

I know that I’ve been doing some pretty heady posts lately (I try to maintain a balance…really, there’s a rhyme to my reasoning!), but I felt too strongly not to write something. I promise I’ll do some fun, fluffy pieces soon. πŸ™‚ We all need a bit of mental neutrality now and then.

This past weekend, we made a quick family trip to buy frames. Dave is excited to add some pictures to his new office, as well as get the chance to price out a framing option for his favorite Grandma Moses print. While we were at it, I decided to switch out the old, cheap, too-traditional frame for one of my favorite possessions; my dad’s photograph.

The picture was taken, as I have been told (and memory may or may not be an accurate thing; that happens a lot for me when it comes to my father), the morning that he returned to work after another round of cancer treatment. By the afternoon, he called home telling Mom that he had found another lump. It was only a matter of time before he was gone.

The original copy of this picture rotated throughout our childhood home as a plain, silent shrine. We were painfully aware that he was gone, but hardly spoke of it. So, there he sat. The one gentle reminder with a Mona Lisa smile and just enough youthfulness to make it burn a little more.

Over the years, I happened upon other photographs, mostly old family candids, that helped tell me a story of the man I hardly knew. Partly mischievous, partly serious, always so handsome. I carried one of the copies of his senior picture in my wallet as a teenager, even going so far as to tape it in my locker alongside a bittersweet shot of my sister and I sitting alongside him in “his chair,” all in sweats, an enormous fruit basket in the foreground. Looking back, I realized how gray and gaunt he looked, and that it was just about the time he left for the hospital (which I faintly remember), never to return.

But, still, this photo was quite literally his personification.

I don’t quite remember when, but my mother decided to have prints made and framed. Four; one for each of us. I’m sure she was apprehensive, worrying that we would all hate the reminder (much like when we received a very kind Christmas gift of all the old McCoy home movie footage on tape; there were plenty of tears that holiday season, but it was nice to see him in motion with our aunts and uncles, in living color). But, we were all deeply grateful to have our own piece of him.

That copy, in a couple of different Dollar Store frames over the years, has followed me to college and back, to my first apartment, to my first house; through family fights and deaths and marriages and babies. No matter my variance in moods or ups-and-downs with depression, it was a stalwart on-looker who always helped to pull me up by my boot straps. Not until I reflect on it now do I realize that, yes, Dad really did have an influence in my life over the years, though it was a very private, quiet one. I may not have any recollection of his personality or his voice or his opinions and views, but he has been there for me.

Of all my possessions, big and small, this image is the one thing that I would grab in a storm or fire or nuclear attack. (This, of course, does not include living things, which are actually family and not “possessions.” Child and cats included. ;-)) There are other important things that I’d like to grab — namely, my Katharine Hepburn autograph — but if I couldn’t, Dad would come.

So, as I stood before a row of frames in all their splendor, some plain and dignified, some with enough traditional curlicues for royalty, I found myself overwhelmed and fighting back tears. This frame needed to represent him, because the picture IS him. I finally landed on a couple of wooden options; one with dozens of rustic-looking coconut shell inserts and, finally, this one —

Crappy cell picture. In crappy lighting.
Win-win.


It’s plain. It’s a bit rustic. It has structure. It reminded me of Dad’s younger days farming his family’s land, his love of sports, and what I’ve heard about his methodically perfect way of doing projects (when he finally buckled down to do them). The frame just felt like “him”, or at least as much as my basic shy-of-4-year-old memory could ascertain.

It’s good to know he’ll be “around” for Hadley to know, even in his minute way.

Attack of the Porch-Eating Tomato Plants

As I mentioned recently, I’ve slacked a bit on my backyard garden this year. It’s pretty much gone to seed and ready to have its flowering trophies of my laziness pulled up.

However, the three small cherry tomato plants that I started (as a bit of an experiment versus regular flowers) next to our front porch have quite literally taken over. It makes me wish I’d taken a time-lapse video (and not just crappy iPhone pictures).



Insane. Over. Under. Through. Everything. The thing currently is that they’re still bearing fruit, so we don’t feel right just pulling them out if we can still harvest from them. I only wish I LIKED tomatoes! (My husband and the baby do, as do our parents and neighbors, so at least we’ve got options.)

I’m telling you, though, if it’s still going strong after a few more weeks, I may do some clipping, if not PULLING. Then, it’s “say hello to my little mums.”

Next year, I may put some herbs there, since my planters on the deck also failed to do much.

How about you? How does (did?) your garden grow? Does it embarrass you like ours? Seriously, what must our mail carrier (not to mention the neighbors) think?!

Currently

Since it has been a rollercoaster week full of back-to-school, return-Hadley-to-Grandma’s, husband-starting-awesome-new-job, my brain is FRIED like those old egglicious drug PSAs in the 80s. Seriously, this is your brain on life.

But I still want to write and share and connect and, in essence, blog like usual.

What to do…what to do…

*light bulb*

HK


I tend not to take part in the “new topic every week” (or, God forbid, every DAY) linky parties. Don’t get me wrong. I love me a linky party as much as the next blogger. They’re totally like speed dating for bloggy friends! But, if you’re a regular reader, you know I have a hard time stickin’ with something. Case in point: The never-ending bathroom project. I’ll get there, just don’t put a timeline on it. I’m defiant, especially when defiance gives me an excuse to procrastinate. I’ve always been the “I’ll do it when I’m damn good and ready to do it and not a moment earlier” girl (my poor mother). Then, when I set my mind to it…I do it RIGHT. And in miniscule pieces at a time.

But, ANYhoo, the occasional “here’s a topic, aaaaand GO” post? I’m game. Here are this week’s topics….


(I heart Microsoft Publisher)


I’m growing the heck out of some man-eating tomato plants. I kid you not. The rest of the garden looks like the Land That Time Forgot (namely because *raises hand* I was a bad Garden Mama this summer…I was an awesome Hadley Mama, if that’s any consolation). But, I threw three cherry tomato plants into a little plot next to our front porch instead of flowers…y’know, to make better use. I’m SO one of those folks that would love to convert the front lawn into a garden full of medicinal herbs and heirloom what-nots, but this experiment taught me something about myself: I care a tad too much what the neighbors think. These plants have grown OVER, UNDER, AROUND and THROUGH the porch. Our. Poor. Mail carrier.

Irony? I hate tomatoes. What I hate even more? Picking…you guessed it…tomatoes. Especially when there are squishy ninja ones just waiting to pee tomato juice and guts all over my roaming hand. I want to throw up just thinking about it.

We’re buying shampoo (and have been for a little while now). Yep, I’m no longer ‘poo free, although I’d like to get back to it. I’m a tad more worried about the sheer number of grays popping through lately and whether or not there’s a more “natural” way to handle it. Oh, and especially with the Hadman back at his grandma/sitter, we’re buying the heck outta diapers. And food pouches. Just keepin’ it real. We’re consumers. Guilty ones, but consumers nonetheless.

I’m earning my keep again. READ: School’s back in session. This year, I’m really EARNING it, too. Next to no down-time in a day. But, it’s a job and I’m lucky.

We’re judging our finances. Seriously, we’ve made a Money Date (to take place during one or more baby naps this weekend) to analyze the crab cakes out of what we make and how we use it. I’m thinking of Dave Ramsey-ing our life a bit. And while we’re on the subject of “judging” – I’m judging myself for the fact that I technically do not use a black-and-white, set-in-stone budget. And I really, really need to. *hangs head in shame*

Dave is embracing his new job, and I’m embracing the “new Dave”…which looks a lot like the “old Dave” but with a huge weight off his shoulders. It’s a relief to me to see how well he’s responding to the new gig, and that it’s not a case of “the grass is always greener.” When the grass is half dead and overrun with weeds, anything’s an improvement. In this case, however, it’s truly a luscious field rife with long green grass and fragrant flowers. I don’t use this word much (and we don’t look at life in religious terms), but we are blessed. And you’d better believe we’re grateful. It’s a refreshing change of pace for the whole family. Peace.

And, as always, we’re embracing every single moment of Hadley-ness. As all babies tend to, he’s growing up so fast. The crisp fall air means a change from shorts to pants, and just seeing how long they make his legs appear…and the mini-sneakers he trots around in…holy crow, it’s insane. He’s a little boy. Sure, he’s still a toddler, at least, and isn’t very verbal (if at all), and gets needy here and there, but he’s SO not a baby anymore. Excuse me while I go sob into my pillow. Side note: Frost advisory tonight, but next week it’ll be warming up again. Hooray for toddler shorts again, just for a few more days!! Grasping at something I can’t hold.

So, that’s what I’m up to “currently”. Linkin’ up? You better believe it. Have a slaptastic weekend, folks!

Shout-out to Nekaro, whose blog I enjoy creeping…which is how I found this linky party. (I so invited myself. I’m a party crasher, but only on the interwebs. SO not brave enough for that in reality.)