In The Middle

Life, Family, Yoga, Stuff

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Happy 18th Lauren

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Lauren.  Wow!  How in the world did you ever get to be 18?  I have no idea.  You are beautiful.  Witty.  Smart.  And you’ve never so much as had a warning, a traffic ticket or an accident or fender bender.  Amazing.

We ate at Red Lobster with her dad and her boyfriend CJ on her exact birthday.  I usually teach yoga for a couple of hours on Thursday evenings, but I’ve been off yoga for the whole month of January.  A choice I made after I found out I had an inguinal hernia and then I decided t get it fixed pronto, so I’ve been recovering.  I feel as though a replay from 18 years ago is happening in the way of groin pain.  I had a C-section with Lauren and this feels like I’ve had half of one. Not so much fun.  Much easier when you have a baby to focus on instead of just PAIN.

Our dinner was nice, we all had a great conversation.  After that her beau took her to the mall to buy a pair of Converse.  Her dad gave her cash.  She had mentioned getting a tattoo for her birthday, so I was thinking that’s what she’d do. But no, she came home late Thursday night with a Hookah instead.  What’s worse?  A Hookah or a tattoo?  Not sure I can really answer that one. Neither I guess. I know her friends vape and I know she does sometimes as well.  I know when you turn a certain age, it’s cool to do something that you can only do when you’re that age. Like going to a bar when you’re 21, even if you don’t really drink.  I think her boyfriend hit it on the nose when he said to me, “I think she’ll be done with it in like 2 weeks.”  He knows my kid well.  And I’m glad.

So far she’s on the honor roll in school this year, so that’s exciting after a few years of not really giving a crap about school.  She also wants to go to college now which is good and bad. She lost her two free years at OTC due to the not “giving a crap” issue.  She’s into childcare and does go to a daycare for school a few times per week.  She’s also in a Forensics class and loves it. She mentioned going to school to be a Child Forensic Psychologist.  I was like… that a real job?  Of course it is.  What do I know.  She scored well enough to get into MSU on her ACT (surprise) but I think we’ll feel out OTC first. Cheaper and just in case she feels like quitting, it will be less of an investment.  The forensics program is also at MSU.  But if she chooses to do that she can get her basics out of the way at OTC then transfer over.

Lauren has not had a job YET.  This needs to change.  She did help me clean a bunch of buildings back when I was doing that, but so far nothing on her own. I am hoping now that she’s 18 she will find something that she likes to do.  It’s harder when you’re 16. But still.  I give her $40 a week for stuff around here and she has to buy her gas out of that.  None of her friends work either.  Weird.  We all worked, from like the day we were old enough to.  Things are different that’s for sure.  I’m sounding old aren’t I?

Lauren.  Follow your heart.  Stand up for yourself.  Be kind.  Stay smart.  Show compassion.  Fall in love.  Get a job.  Keep doing well in school.  Stay the beautiful, responsible soul that you’ve turned into.  I honestly hope that I had a little to do with that. Love You!


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SAMSUNG PHONE PHOTOS 176I have always guarded and very much enjoyed my time alone.  But not here lately.  Perhaps I’m getting old.  Perhaps I need a hobby.  Wait.  I have plenty of those, but none of which seem that engaging at this very moment.  I don’t even want to read.  Or maybe.  Just maybe that one person that I’d really love to be with right now isn’t here.  That’s it.

I took a vacation day from work today.  It rained.  It didn’t just rain.  It rained a nasty ass drizzle the ENTIRE day.  And it was only around 50 degrees.  I didn’t really take a vacation day because I had something to do.  I took it because I simply feel as though I need one whole weekday off – per month – from my job.  I know.  Do I want some cheese to go with that whine?  You bet.  Excuse me while I get a glass – of wine.

I only had one plan for today.  It didn’t happen.  I got the little weekday only kind of things taken care.  The car serviced and all that jazz.  Of course the place I take my car to is open on Sunday.  But do I want to spend my Sunday over there?  No.  No I do not.

The rest of the day was spent fighting with this rain, running about tending to things that came up unexpectedly with my daughter.  Things that I wished I wouldn’t have had to deal with.  I am though, thankful that I had the day to take care of these things but at the same time I am choosing to complain.  Why is that?  I guess I wanted to do something else today but I don’t really know what that would have been.

Funny isn’t it.  We have everything we want yet we complain.  I’ve started a gratitude journal once again.  I need to hit my yoga mat as well.  I know why I practice and I know why I choose not to.  And guess what?  It’s none of your business.  Today anyway.

So tonight I am thankful that I am here and that I am healthy.  That my kid is healthy.  That my family is healthy.  My pets are all awesome and healthy.  Apollo, the new dog is going to daycare once a week. He’s making improvements.  Oh and we got him a shock collar with a zone and he hasn’t touched the furniture since.  Who knew?  I am thankful for the job that got me this house and in turn, I wish I never had to leave it on a daily basis.  I am thankful that my washer and dryer are cranking away at this very moment.  I could after all, be in a Laundromat.  No thanks.  I am grateful that I actually have two more days off.  And that they’re supposed to be warm, bright and sunny and maybe, just maybe filled with yoga.

Think I’ll go and grab that gouda now.  My work here is done.

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The Dog

When I moved into this awesome little dream house I came with three cats and two dogs.  One cat split a few weeks after we brought him here.  The two dogs are smaller, like 15 to 20 pounds.  So.  We HAD two cats and two dogs.  Until this one day in the middle of November.  My daughter is a lover of big dogs.  Actually she’s a dog lover.  I’m the cat person but I will say I have grown to really love the dogs that we have now.

Sadie the Cocker Spaniel was given to us by a homeless man that was hanging out at the Branson Landing.  She’s a pure bred dog.  She has one blue eye and one brown eye.  She’s also very small for a cocker.  She wasn’t potty trained and we didn’t have a fence or a dog door at my old house.  Yuck.  I ended up tossing my most favorite rug in the world.  A prayer rug, a big one, made by the Kurds in Afghanistan.  I cried.  Need I say more?

A year after we got Sadie one of Lauren’s friends had a long haired Chihuahua that they didn’t know was pregnant when they got it.  Oh boy.  Could be please get a puppy?  Sadie was about 3 when we got her so of course I said yes.  Enter Eleanor the awkward puppy that is SO not a Chihuahua!  Her dad must’ve been a bird dog.  The vet said she looks like a miniature Pointer and she does.  She also has epilepsy and has to take meds twice a day.  Who’s the one that distributes that pill on a more than regular basis?  Yours truly.  I do so wish that we could’ve got Lauren a puppy when she was younger.  She’s so busy now.

Back to November.  I pulled in the driveway and saw three kids out back.  Three kids and a big dog.  Immediately Lauren said, “Mom.  Don’t be mad.”  Mistake number one.  Not getting mad.  Mistake number two.  Allowing this dog to stay here until we could find the rightful owner.  The kids had gone to Target one night.  One night when it was like 3 degrees.  Low and behold this dog was running around the lot and they captured it.  Lovely.  We now have a 45 lb. dog that we knew nothing about.


I immediately shot pictures and posted ads on Craig’s List, Leah’s Lost and Found and anything else I could find.  Time passed and no one claimed him.  We had to work and be at school.  Would this dog hurt the little dogs?  Being dog stupid and totally unprepared we locked him in the laundry room.

Lauren came home sick from school that same day to find this.  Luckily she was home at 11:30.  I even had to replace the window blinds.  I had a glass jar of laundry detergent that I’d just made.  Broken glass, torn up jackets and towels, you can pretty much see the carnage.  I immediately spent $100 on a crate on the way home.  A few evenings later I left him out of the crate while I was gone for 2 hours.  In that time he ate the book I was reading, a box of Kleenexes, a fall floral arrangement, a cool slipper from Japan and whatever else you see pictured below.  He started chewing on the plastic crate so I sold it on Craig’s List for $50 before it got too trashed.  Then I purchased a wire Kong crate for $145.  Good thing my boyfriend has a good job! The next time he was home alone he tore up the back pillow on the sofa.  Ok.  So the couch is super old and the back pillows do suck.  Another time he completely shredded the other one so as of the moment, we have a couch with a cowhide rug on it and no back pillows.


We continued to crate all day and leave him unsupervised for a few hours at a time and all was well.  Well until he shredded the side of my chair.  This was rather disheartening.  I was just in from teaching yoga when this one happened.  And I’m certain if would’ve happened after I returned from doing anything else, this dog would probably be dead.  My sister custom made those slipcovers for two chairs that I got at a flea market.  Yeah.  They’re really old chairs but they’re comfy and they WERE in perfection condition.  Not only did he destroy the fabric, he also chowed down on the wood on both chairs.  Nice.

I called a dog trainer.  She came over and gave me some great tips but the main thing was do not free feed and change their food.  That has made a world of difference.  She said to use a bitter spray on things you don’t want him to chew on.  Wish I would’ve known that in the beginning, it works wonders!   Next up we are going to puppy classes.  I make Lauren take him.  He has a name, it’s Apollo.  She takes the dog and her buddies to class on the night that I teach yoga.  He’s had three lessons so far and only one was a good one.

The vet said he’s not more than 2 and he’s a Shiba Inu/Lab mix.  He is a gentle dog and Eleanor LOVES him for they are probably the same age.  Sadie can really take him or leave him and I’m thinking leave him most of the time.  One night he was being rough with the girls so I locked him outside for 15 minutes.  He totally destroyed the flap and the bar on the dog door.  Of course this had to happen when it was SNOWING and my beau was working out of town.  I glued it and it lasted one week.  Luckily my awesome boyfriend who can do anything repaired it this weekend.  It should hold up for a long while.  In the meantime I have new parts on the way.  For $36.  So far without replacing any furniture this FREE dog has cost us about $700.

But you know what?

I’m determined.  I’m in love…..with my dog and with my boyfriend.



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Happy 17th Lauren

My daughter is now 17 years old.  How did that ever happen?  I know folks say time travels fast but I truly believe it travels much faster when you have a child.  Even if you just have one.  The birthday celebration lasted all week long.  We got cupcakes from The Cup on one night.  The actual birthday evening me and two of her friends went to Red Lobster.  It’s something we do every year.  Small tradition that we’ve been able to keep.  The rest of the week was spent shopping and hanging out with her friends.

I have to enjoy the photos of my kid that I have around the house because I hardly ever see her face.  She’s busy.  Not with school.  Not with a job.  But with friends.  I’m glad I was able to get her the car to drive to school since I chose to move out of the school district.  We had to transfer over to keep her at the same high school.  She’s smart, but she’s lazy.  She loves to procrastinate and demonstrates NO sense of urgency most of the time.  She has a sarcastic and incredibly witty sense of humor.  She’s absolutely gorgeous.  She’s had a couple of boyfriends but not with anyone that she can’t seem to live without.  She’s messy and I mean like totally unorganized.  In her room and in her car.

Basically, she’s the opposite of what I am.  And it’s OK.  Believe me I wasn’t always OK with that.  I wanted her to be organized, tidy, retentive about her school work, and to show a stronger sense of caring and appreciation towards others.  But.  She’s not me.  She’s her own beautiful kind of mess.  And to that I have to say I am a pretty proud parent.

Be your own true self Lauren.  Shine On.




Who Am I?


I never really gave them much thought until it came the time to change mine.  Again.

My last name used to be Kukal.  There is NOT a single person in the world named Kirsten Kukal.  Not that I could find anyways.  I got divorced (again) in 2014 and changed my name back to Gardner.  I thought this would be the simplest thing to do.  After all, my daughters’ last name is Gardner.  You know.  So when the school calls, etc. we totally have the same name kind of hook up.

As I began to build my new personal website for yoga I realized I had to change everything.  Again.  Not just my last name.  But my e-mail address.  My bank account.  My car registration.  My car insurance.  My workplace 401-K/paycheck.  All of my credit cards.  My Yoga Alliance registration.  You name it.  It had to be changed.  I realized as I was typing in search engine ideas on my new web site that there are more than a few yoginis with the name Kirsten Gardner.  Bummer.  Kirsten Kukal was SO easy to find.  I was the only one out there and it was a good thing.  So one would guess.

I was born Kirsten Pearson.  My mom got divorced and my stepdad adopted us, so my surname changed to Hampton.  Shortly after high school I got married to the love of my life.  My name would then become Houston.  The universe took that situation away and my surname once again became Hampton.  Five years later I remarried and my last name was Gardner.  The universe took that situation away and I kept my name.  I remarried a third time (I know you can quit reading here if you want) and then my surname became Kukal.  Kukal.  What kind of a name is that?  A Czech name.  An uncommon name.  One that would definitely separate me from all of the other Kirsten’s in the world.  Believe me.  When I got married I actually thought nothing of the name.  It was different and basically nobody could say it correctly.  Kind of like my first name, I got used to it.

So now, my name is back to Kirsten Gardner.  Lots of people have it.  Which I find odd.  When I was young back in the day, there weren’t that many people (that I ran across) named Kirsten.  Today.  There are more than a few.  A lot of them happen to be yoginis.  So I’m trying to figure out how to set my website apart from the rest.  Would it be sacrilegious to tag a Kukal in the site?  I’m thinking not.  After all that was my name and folks have been trying to locate me.

There have been a few times I actually thought I should change my name to a symbol, kind of like Prince did several years back.  Don’t think I’ll go there though.  Tempting none the less.  Will I ever change my name again?  I don’t know.  But if I do, I know exactly what it will be.  And it will be that last, and final time.

P.S.  My first name came from a movie my mom saw when she was pregnant.  Days of Wine & Roses.  The lady in the film was an alcoholic.  Good thing that didn’t transfer over, I think I’m from a long line of heavy drinkers.  My mom almost named me Wendy.  But since I was born on Halloween, they thought everyone would call me “Wendy the Witch.”  I like the name Kirsten, and I’ve never felt like I needed a last time to go along with it.  That is all.



Whoa. Has it really been this long since I blogged? I guess it has been. I think when you’re unhappy or too focused on something, that you actually quit doing the things you love. Enough said. That’s what happened to me. I slowed way down on yoga. I quit blogging entirely. I focused on where I wanted to be and what I needed to do. I said it out loud to people that I knew. The universe finally dropped it in my lap. Sort of. Not without my help of course. It has been exhausting.

I think I have a ten year attention span for things. Things like jobs. Things like relationships. Maybe. I don’t know. I’m done trying to figure it out. All I know is that where I was – was where I didn’t need to spend the rest of my life. Don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t a bad, dark, evil place. I just knew in my heart I needed and wanted something different. And I got it. Finally!

You may remember I cleaned a movie theater for an entire year or more. It sucked but it got me the money I needed to be where I am right now. I’ve had a dream of owning my OWN place for a very, very long time now. And I’m happy to say that – that time is pretty much now. For as I write this, I pen from my computer on my OWN sun porch in the house that I bought with my own blood, sweat and tears. Nothing has felt more complete. Huge stress on the nothing, that’s for sure.

I’ve been on a house search for years now. A secret house search that my husband was unaware of. I know. I’m terrible. I knew what kind of place I wanted to live in. I knew how I wanted to live. The place I landed at with him just wasn’t cutting it. In more ways than one. So. I saved some cash. I got a full time job that doesn’t pay super great, but it pays enough. I don’t need nor do I want a lot anymore. I like simplicity. Food. Shelter. Gas. You get my drift.

A few years ago I found a house. I loved it. My parents had this great realty lady. She showed me the home. I told her my yoga income and all the sources from which it came. Not a happy thing. So. I kept looking at homes. I kept searching for a full time job. I got the job. And in March of this year, I got the house. It had been listed for two whole days. I’d been getting extremely antsy. I wanted to move. I wanted a bungalow that wasn’t too old. One that wasn’t too big. One that didn’t need too much work. I wanted a garage. A fireplace with windows on either side and a pretty, but small kind of yard. Too much too ask? Pretty much. I started looking at houses openly once I told my husband of my intentions. So with my daughter in tow, we looked. We looked in great hoods, we looked in bad hoods. I was about to give up. And then I told her this. I told her we will find a place just for us, in a place that we never considered living. It will have everything we need and everything we want. She rolled her eyes and pretty much told me we would be moving to the ghetto.
I laughed and seriously thought she might be correct. I thought about getting a gun and the permit that would be necessary to carry it in one of those purses we sell at my work. I hate guns.

We found a house. It was on the NORTH side. OMG I know. How would I deal with the flack? How could I leave my lovely, clicky neighborhood of Phelps Grove Park? Easily. That’s how. It just felt fantastic from the get go. The house had everything I wanted with the exception of a fireplace with windows on both sides. But it does have a gas fireplace which I have learned to use and totally love!

It was spur of the moment. We were out looking at several ranch style homes in the center of town in the school district that we needed. I said I’d like to view this one so I can forget about it because it’s on the north side…lol. Off we went. It was perfect. Then the realtor said, “What a shame, it’s such a pristine property, I can’t let you live over here with your daughter all alone.” OK. The street’s a bit janky. There are about 5 homes on this street that are vacant. But you know what? It’s freaking quiet as hell. Long story short she finally said, “Let’s walk.” So we did. First house we hit was a dude wearing a bathrobe. He was smoking on his front porch at 2 p.m. Child molester? Probably. Turns out he was a bartender at Parlor 88 where she’d had a party a few weeks ago and he remembered her. He had just got out of bed. OK. Good sign. Let’s walk some more. So we did. We met several folks, most elderly and most had lived here for like 45 years. Rock on. We sat on the couch in the house, we checked the crime reports. Pretty much about the same as the hood I was leaving. My thoughts were, we’re buying the house. And so we did.

We’ve lived here for almost one month now and I don’t think I’ll ever get unpacked. I have a shop out back that measures 18×30 so that pretty much takes care of all the clutter. I have a carport and an attic. I have a fenced in yard and dog door for my animals. I have a garden shed with skylights and a beautifully landscaped but small enough to take care of kind of yard. I have hardwoods and carpet and an awesome bathroom and kitchen as well as a big front porch. Built in 1954 when ranches were a big deal, but it looks like an older bungalow. The place was completely remodeled in 2009. How lucky are we?

I think when we say things out loud they are more apt to come to us. No lie. I did a lot to help this along the way, but I also put it out there into the universe. I waited. I worked. I saved. The people that lived here before me had a lot of crystals, rocks and books on Reiki. I told Lauren that I thought that these were “our people” and oddly enough she agreed. She’s 16 and she’s probably smarter than I give her credit for.

So. If you’re not afraid to travel through the ghetto to the “north side” stop by and clink some glasses on my back deck, front porch or kitchen. Life is amazing when you just let it unfold. Cheers.

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Thai Food & Classic Tunes

This is the time of year that my husband has to work a lot of hours.  I don’t mind so much because I totally guard my time alone.  Always have.  I’ve heard people say that’s unhealthy, but I beg to differ. I think it depends on the individual.  And for me?  I think it’s totally healthy.  If I don’t have that space I get really pissy.

My daughter has a great friend who lives at our place on the weekends.  Sometimes she lives with us during the week as well.  I don’t mind.  I only have one daughter and my son is in college so he’s not around anymore.  When the girls are together I really don’t know that they’re here.  They hang out and play the PS3, they watch Netflix and geek on Facebook.  It’s all good.

Last night it was just us 3 chicks for quite awhile so I rummaged the cabinets to see what I could fix.  The rain has been totally insane for the last 24 hours or so and to top that off, it feels like freaking winter out.  Ridiculous!  In other words I did not want to go out.  Luckily we had most everything we needed to whip up a decent Thai spread.  Rice noodles, chicken, onions, tomatoes, cilantro, peanut and teriyaki sauce and red wine for me.  We jammed out to some Traffic, the Kinks and Van Morrison.  What a fun night!

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The party was in celebration of my FIRST FREE weekend after I quit cleaning.  I have had places to be, things to do or been sick since I quit!  And what am I doing on my free weekend?  Besides eating Thai food and drinking wine, I’m prepping the bathroom for a paint revamp.  Yep.  We are leaving the freshwather fish border and mossy green paint behind.  Going soft, pale blue with black accents.  Lauren will have a new background for all of her Facebook shots that she takes in there since the light is great. 

I’m covered in Kilz.  Later.



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Sulfa Drugs Can Suck It

I quit cleaning.  Not just the theater, but all of it. 

My theater cleaning partner got a job at the same place where I’m working now.  She has a two year old and didn’t want to work 7-days a week like I was.  As much as I loved that paycheck from cleaning every Friday, I decided to let it go as well.  Basically we both quit at the same time.  Not without lots of notice though.  We even helped train and I offered to work if they are in a bind or whatever.  I am crazy, I know it.  Go ahead say it out loud, I can handle it.

My new job is great!  I totally love it.  I really do.  But on Mondays I was so freaking tired that it wasn’t even funny.  I also felt like due to my fatigue I was making too many errors and that’s not a good thing.  So Sunday, March 17 was my last weekend at the theater.  I had to keep my other cleaning gigs (2 other buildings) a week longer. 

Quitting my cleaning jobs happened at the perfect time.  First my brother was ill.  I took off one day from the theater for that as I was so mentally exhausted.  Then next was my mother-in-law and her illness.  Somewhere around all this mess I got a UTI.  I chugged the cranberry juice and was feeling pretty damn good.  But.  I was due for my well woman check up and while I was there I had them check my urine.  To be on the safe side, they prescribed an antibiotic to me that had Sulfa in it. 

Remember I said I was hot at the funeral home?  Well, yeah I was.  That was on Thursday, April 4th.  I was due to take my last pill on Friday morning and take it I did.  I worked on Friday the 5th and by noon my chest, neck and face were bright red.  Co-workers were cracking jokes about how old I was and whatever.  I felt it was not menopause, like I would know what that feels like, but it was just intuition. 

By the evening, I had to take a cool bath to cool down.  I put Cortizone 10 all over my face because I had hives.  I took some Benadryl and went to bed.  Enter Saturday morning.  We are in the middle of planning a funeral remember.  I woke up totally on fire.  My back was beat red.  I looked like I’d been at the beach and fallen asleep or something.  Don’t I wish that would’ve been the case?  Yes!  I called my doctor’s answering service and they said a doctor would call me back in an hour.  Call he did.  He said take more Benadryl. I went to Wal-Mart and about my day looking and probably feeling the same way a boiled lobster does.

I stopped at the Wal-Mart clinic on the way out and the nurse working said that sometimes the doctors there cannot prescribe steroids.  I said forget it and drove straight to Urgent Care.  I was on fire from the inside out!  I walked in calmly and sat at the desk.  They told me to have a seat and it would be just a second.  I.  Am.  So.  Sure.  It’s Urgent Care and I knew I’d have to wait.  So off I went to the bathroom and seconds later they came into the bathroom looking for me.

The nurse took my arm and said come with us.  I got scared because an elderly lady tried to ask the nurse what doctors were working.  The nurse asked her if she was having an allergic reaction and when the woman said no, the nurse said, “Well she is!”  Off we went to the little doctor room.  They asked me if I was alone and if I needed to call anyone.  I was like yes and I guess.  They said I would have to stay until I was better.  Whoa.

Immediately an IV was administered because I was freaking dehydrated and still burning up.  My throat had also started to constrict so that was somewhat scary. What a weird feeling! Then they started another IV with a steroid and Pepcid.  Yep.  Pepcid is a badass histamine blocker.  I had no idea but it’s better than Benadryl.  After about 45 minutes I was feeling cool as a cucumber, still red, but cool.  They even dimmed the lights for me and I pretended I was having some sort of hydrating spa experience.  It was awesome.  I didn’t realize how hot I actually was until I cooled down.  Just crazy.

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There would’ve been no way I could’ve cleaned a movie theater or my own house for that matter that weekend.  The timing was perfect, I was more than glad that I had quit.  Of course so far I was off to a pretty crappy start with my first weekend off for sure. 

I walked out of there with a list of over the counter drugs to take.  Listen to this.  I had to take THREE Zyrtec every night (all at once) for 7 nights in a row.  I also had to take two Pepcids a day and not drink any wine.  That can exacerbate Mast Cell disease which I guess is what I have.  I am super sensitive to smells, have heightened awareness in the sight department at times and also on the level of hearing as well.  It can be damned annoying.

Have you ever taken THREE Zyrtec a night?  I sure hope you never have to.  I would wake up with sheet marks all over my body that would last for about two hours.  I am sure this was from the salt, the sulfa and I was totally exhausted until about lunchtime.  I didn’t miss the funeral.  I didn’t miss a day of work due to this issue.  And to top if off, yoga at MSU also started the week I had to start taking this crap.  Holy man.

I guess a lot of people have bad reactions to medications that contain Sulfa.  Now I know that I do.  And wha’ts weird is it happens for a lot of folks up to a week or so after they’ve finished taking it.  I was trying to figure out what I had gotten into.  Did I eat something different?  Did I touch a plant?  Was it the caskets at the funeral home?  Was it that great laundry detergent that I’d just started making at home?  Nope.  It was the evil Sulfa drug!

I am much better now.  I still have a few red splotches and feel warm now and then.  They said this can last awhile.  If it comes back you’ll see me at Urgent Care again like pronto.  In the meantime, I won’t be taking anything that has Sulfa in it.  Ever. Again.

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February Birthday Party

My husband turned 50 on February 21st.  Our niece Hannah celebrates her birthday the day after, so we usually have combined parties for Frank and Hannah.  We always go to Julie’s house (Frank’s sister – Hannah’s mom) but this year we partied at our place.  The old people next door haven’t been traveling much further than our home here lately.

My mother-in-law Juanita has been up and down for the past year or more.  She went from being completely normal to an angry, crazy old woman in a short period of time.  It was hard to get a diagnosis as her husband didn’t really think that there was all that much wrong with her.  Finally, last May she got very violent.  She was going to hurt herself or someone else (like her husband) if we didn’t get some help soon.  She received medication for Alzheimer’s and it helped out a lot.  The only regret I have is that she didn’t get it sooner.  But.  This was not my decision to make.  I am the support person who offers ideas but I don’t make the calls.  She is also diabetic and has had health issues her entire life. 

So. Back to the birthday party for Frank and Hannah.  We had a fish fry and Frank’s mom and dad walked over.  If you’ve forgotten, they live right next door.  We noticed that Juanita looked very yellow.  Not good.  We enjoyed our meal and cake and made the decision to take her to the ER as soon as we were finished.  And finish we did pretty quickly.

At the ER she was diagnosed with jaundice and admitted.  The next day they ran a scope down her throat and found the blockage which happened to be pancreatic cancer that had spread to her liver.  They inserted a stint to drain the liver and she stayed in the hospital for a few days.  She is 80 years old and decided against chemotherapy.  Though it may’ve prolonged her life, it might have made the quality shittier than it was going to be.  Read on.

She came home from the hospital and walked from the car to the house.  She had a place in her easy chair for for about 8 or 9 days before she became entirely bedridden.  Just like that.  The flick of a switch.  No more moving the arms or the legs.  No more feeding herself or getting on the toilet alone.  Fortunately, Frank’s sister had quit her job in January and now we know why that went down like it did.  We needed her close by for help. 

Frank and I both work full-time and to make it worse, Frank works in Branson so that’s a 45 drive one way.  Julie bathed her, painted her nails and fixed her hair.  I went over and visited, bought any groceries if they were needed and helped get her on the potty chair.  It was getting pretty tough even for two people to do.  After all his dad is 88 years old.

On April 3rd she was fine in the morning.  By lunchtime we were all called and told she was in the active stages of dying.  Wow.  Just like that.  I left work.  Frank left work.  She passed away around 5 that evening.  By 8:30 the funeral home had picked her up.

I took off work the next day and we drove to the town she was from and spent the day there planning a funeral.  That was something that I had never done.  I actually have only attended a few funerals and I really don’t recall that much about them.  I feel lucky in that sense for sure.  I walked around the room looking at caskets and urns.  I totally want to be cremated and placed in a biodegradeable urn that holds the seeds of some flowering bush or plant.  Plant me in a park or some public place please.  Lenette.  Remember this OK?  Anyhow I started getting really hot at the funeral home and I thought that my body might actually cremate itself.  More on why that happened in the next post.  It’s been a long couple of months.

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We spent the evening picking out 50 photos for a slide show to play during the visitation and before the funeral.  We held a visitation at the church here in our town on Sunday evening and then held the funeral at the church the following day with a burial in the cemetery in her home area.  Somber day. 

I see the lines in my face and the spots on my hands.  I know I will get old and die as well and I wonder at times just exactly how will that happen.  Will I get sick?  Will I be sick for a long time?  Will I get in a car accident?  Will I fall and break my neck in yoga?  Will I die in my sleep with a book on my chest?  Who knows?  The only thing I know for sure is that I will die someday.  And oddly enough I think I will be ready for it whenever that time comes.

Good-byes are only for those who love with their eyes because for those who love with heart and soul there is no such thing as separation – Rumi

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I know.  It’s been forever since I posted….as someone just reminded me.

Lots of things have happened.  My life has been full lately in ways that are good and ways not so good.  That’s just how life works doesn’t it?

So for your reading pleasure I think I’ll alternate between things good and bad.  In fact, I am sure that’s the order anyways.  So, I shall start with February, a crazy month indeed.

The middle of February my brother had a mild stroke.  This was crazy shit as he’s super healthy, an avid bicyclist and he just turned 40 in October.  He had all 4 of his wisdom teeth pulled on a Friday and sometime over the weekend he stroked out.  We thought he was wigged out on pain meds.  He even drove himself to the ER the following Tuesday…and they said he checked out fine.  To make matters more frustrating he had just moved to Portland, Oregon in November for his job with Yakima so he didn’t have the close network of friends he left behind in Boulder.  And of course our family is spread between MO and FL, so we were feeling helpless.

He could text but it was difficult.  He could talk but he was slow and at times had a hard time finding words.  My brother is no low I.Q. kind of dude so this was scary.  He said that spelling was difficult but reading wasn’t so bad.  He said typing and texting was hard and when we asked him to spell the word difficulty – he said he couldn’t do it.  Jacked up for sure.  Between my mom, my sister and I we sought out friends on Facebook.  One of the few times I’ve truly been thankful that I have a Facebook acount for sure.  People started checking on him and connected with us.  It was a good thing.


One week to the day after he had his teeth out he found himself in a doctor’s office.  The doctor immediately sent him back to the ER that released him (scary I know) to have an MRI.  The MRI showed a stroke and he was hospitalized for a few days.  My folks were on the next flight to Portland.  Mind you they live in SW Florida, so a long journey for them it was.  My brother, Evan, was assigned the top neurologist in Portland so that was a good thing.  They ran test after test and found nothing wrong with the clotting of his blood, no high cholesterol or heart issues.  He wore a heart monitor home from the hospital for a week or so. 

He could identify words that say, would start with an S, but if you asked him to pull words out of his head that started with an S, he couldn’t do it.  He could read but he couldn’t spell worth a shit.  I can only imagine how frustrating that must’ve been.  Anyways, he went home and worked with a speech pathologist who gave him exercises and installed an app on his phone and worked with him on some math as well.  The part of his brain that was affected is receiving blood flow as tiny vessels are finding their way around the dead spot.  He is very lucky that this was so mild and none of his motor skills were affected.  But what caused it?  No one seems to know.  There seems to be no correlation between the stroke and the wisdom teeth removal.  I beg to differ because he was FINE until then.  But no one can prove anything. 

We are happy he’s doing so well.  He has almost made a full recovery.  He still has to think for words sometimes and he always apologizes for that.  We tell him not to worry and that we understand.  A stroke was one of the last things that we thought about that could’ve been wrong with him.  Boy were we wrong.  I know for sure if we would’ve been there with him we would’ve been able to figure it out sooner than later.  But we did what we could from afar. 

We love you Evan!  Keep believing because with that thought, anything is possible.