Twenty-fine?

I took a blog vacation for a little bit, mostly because life was too busy to stop and blog. It’s true. In a nutshell, I was struggling with the greatest level of discontent I have ever experienced, coupled with big life choices, and employment decisions. And I was feeling antisocial in a way that extended to the blog world. I’ll touch on some of those details while I explore my thoughts on last year, and what I hope for this next year.

So, yesterday was my birthday, and I honestly haven’t ever wanted to celebrate it less. Seriously. For someone who has always loved birthdays, I just was not feeling it this year. “Twenty-fine” is really an appropriate play on words. Because while it could totally refer to my feeling oh-so-fine, it really relates more to my answering, “Fine” when someone asks me how I’ve been. You know, “not that fine,” but still breathing. This time last year, I started my “twenty-great” year with high hopes and dreams, but life’s circumstances just about crushed me. Clark’s pregnancy, health concerns, graduate school, work, finishing Ben’s degree, etc. It was truly an exhausting journey and honestly just a pretty shit year. One that squished out so much of my sparkle and has made me feel very old and very tired. I know, I know, people who have lived longer say, “Oh, but you’re so young! Life is just hard.” And I kill them. Well, in my head I kill them. In real life, I just give them a tight smile and say “Yep. It sure is…”

I’m feeling anxious because I was given the choice to choose an easier life and continue to be a nurse at my sweet little preschool; an easy and happy job with great hours and a steady paycheck. Or, I could finish my masters degree program and become the nurse practitioner I set out to be when I first began my nursing journey. Surely after this year, no one would begrudge me taking an easier route. But, because of who I am, I cannot. I am looking at all of the possibilities and responsibilities and MAN–the struggle! Yet, I am willingly, albeit hesitantly, choosing that harder path. The persistently nagging feeling about finishing this degree has shown me that despite my feeling puny and beaten down, I still have some fight in these tired bones.

So, for the last month, I have searched for preceptors (took about 18 different rejections to find an OB/GYN preceptor), paid off tuition, registered for classes, quit my sweet job, and just about lost my mind with these sick kids. Seriously Clark and Darcy have been sick forever and I’m about to give them away because if I get puked on one more time I will lose what’s left of my mind completely. It has been a busy month, but until I had preceptors lined up and tuition money paid, I didn’t know if I could quit my job or not. It took a while for everything to cooperate and fall fully into place. 

This past year, I have prayed, cried, rejoiced, and trembled in fear more than I have ever thought myself capable of in an entire lifetime. I have heard the phrase–paraphrased from Isaiah 61:3-that, ‘God makes beauty from ashes’ and mistakenly thought that the ashes were what I was dealing with when the ultrasound was bad, when the assessments were scary, or when the doctors speculated, but  I was wrong. It was then that I was in the flames, and it is NOW that I am looking at the remaining ashes wondering just what in the hell I am supposed to do with them at this point. I mean, how do you heal from the trauma of sustained, high-level stress? But I start with this. I need to finish this program. I need to rediscover my hobbies and passions, and renew old friendships. I mean I should probably take a yoga class, and spend more time on things that I enjoy. Hell, I need to try to remember *what* I enjoy.  I gotta water these ugly ashes and plant some seeds, so that there is at least a glimmer of hope that something beautiful can grow out of the scars of this past year. I AM thankful for surviving this past year. But I hope my twenty-ninth year is the year in which I thrive. Love to all.

Help me, I’m stupid.

And some questions to help me get smart

So, in one of my previous posts, I detailed the weekend before Ben’s birthday. We went to the coast, ate fancy, and basically were #goals. His actual birthday fell on the following Tuesday, and I still wanted to do something special for the actual day. I got cards from the kids and myself AND I ordered a cookie cake for him. Ben really loves cookie cake. It’s his request every year, and I usually get it from a particularly awesome bakery in town. That bakery is kind of out of the way though, and this super awesome grocery store, only a half mile from my house was just remodeled and has a bakery. So I call, and I order a cake. Here’s where I went wrong. I had decided that didn’t want the small 8″ round cake, so I decided I would get a sheet cake. My mom always makes sheet cakes when we have a crowd and they are pretty huge. So I knew I would want half that amount since it was just Ben, Darcy,  and I. Being a reasonable person and all, I ordered a 1/2 sheet cake. It was like twenty-ish dollars and I thought that was a little high, but whatever. I told them to put a lot of icing on it because Ben loves that.

I go to pick up the cake.

Me:”Hey, I’m here to pick up a cake for ‘Rayner’.”

*sets massive box on counter*

Me:”Oh, no, you see I ordered a little cookie cake.”

Bakery:”Here it is!”

Oh shit. I ordered enough for an army. You see, what my mom refers to as a “sheet cake” is actually 1/4 sheet cake. I wanted 1/8 sheet cake. But because I am an idiot, I ORDERED DOUBLE WHAT MY MOM MAKES FOR OUR TWENTY-PERSON FAMILY. Lord, help me from myself.  It was beautifully done, and honestly at $20ish dollars,  it was a damn steal. Anddd I learned my lesson. We had cookie cake for days, so it could have been worse. But, I’m really thankful I didn’t order a whole sheet cake.

In honor of that act of stupidity, I’m going to post a few questions I have for the greater world. Some are legitimate questions while others make fun of people who have crappier judgement than even me. I can’t help myself y’all. Feel free to help me out here, people.

  1. Why are workout classes/gym memberships so dang expensive? Is it necessary to pay $1 a minute for a class? I’ll just wear ratty tennis shoes and run around my neighborhood, thank you.
  2. Are lunchtime margaritas a thing? Or does ordering one make you look like an alcoholic? I’m asking because I’m going to eat Mexican in the next hour and this is a priority right now.
  3. How often is it acceptable to check up on favors? You know, when someone offers to do something to help you out, but you don’t hear back from them? You don’t want to be all, “Hey girl, remember that time a week ago you said you would help me?” but you feel kinda like, “Look here lady, you said you would help me. I’m gonna need you to do that.” When and how do you check up on that?
  4. Why do they have tube tops and crop tops for toddlers? It just seems so weird to me. I’m just really confused on this topic.
  5. Do people really make that much money with MLM? From the way people post, they’re making a lot of money. Is this real life, or are they lying? This is an earnest question y’all because I want to buy all the things.
  6. At what point do you quit trying with people? Like you’ve tried to foster a relationship with them, and they are just not very responsive. I’m not talking about random people, but people you’re “supposed” to be close with.  When do you give up? Or are you just supposed to keep at it forever?
  7. Is there anybody  that actually watches movies on Netflix? Like doesn’t play on their phone the whole time, agrees with partner/friend on which movie to watch, actually enjoys the movie?? If so, throw suggestions my way.
  8. How much spit up requires an outfit change?
  9. How often does a child really need to bathe? Especially when he or she screams like a banshee the entire time? Please don’t say daily.
  10. In light of the whole “Me too” and feminist movement (rise up, ladies!), are we still shaving our legs? Because that’s the important question here. I won’t if you don’t!

So, here are my stupid questions along with a little pearl of advice–don’t order a 1/2 sheet cake if there aren’t at least 20 people present. Unless you like cake for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for a minimum of a week. I actually did enjoy that part, so maybe I’ll ignore my own advice on that…

The “Girls’” trip

No boys allowed. Not even Clark

I always question people who say they are not close to their siblings. Like, why? I’ve already shared my love letter to my brother, but I also have two older sisters, and I talk to them all the time. Every summer, my mom, 2 sisters, sometimes my sister-in-law Lakon, our combined 4 daughters, and I go on a beach trip. We first started this tradition when my eldest sister was in high school, and then it was interrupted for a few years while she and my other sister were in college, med school, grad school, etc. Basically they were too busy building their fabulous lives to go on vacation with me. Those bitches 🙄.

The girls’ trip. No boys are allowed. Not even tiny ones. I mean, think about it. Guys always want to do things on beach trips instead of just relax. Also chicken salad and fruit aren’t enough to satisfy them for lunch. So, basically they aren’t allowed to come and poop all over our trip. Seat’s taken, you can’t sit with us, bye Felicia 👋

Anyway, when Katie (#1) was pregnant with her first baby, we started up the tradition again. We stayed in a hotel on that trip, and Katie was all, “I’m cool, no worries. Y’all can watch TV while I sleep. It won’t bother me!” Five minutes later, the room next to us was being a little loud. She shoots up out of bed, grabs her slipper from the floor and begins smacking the wall, “BE QUIET!!!” She promptly lay back down with her eyes closed. Anna (#2) and my mom and I exchanged glances, turned off the TV, and wordlessly went to sleep at 7 pm 🤫. No one wanted that wrath (or slipper) directed at them.

We’ve since mostly stayed in condos, occasionally hotels, and most recently at my parents’ new beach house. We eat chick food, are supremely lazy, and laugh a lot.

One year, we were staying at a condo in Gulf Shores, and my niece chunked her baby doll’s pacifier off the balcony. She then cried and cried for it because toddlers are rational. We looked for ages, but never found that one. Then there was the year that Lakon had to dig a belly hole in the sand to accommodate her very pregnant belly. Then there was the year Katie took a muscle relaxer for her janky neck before playing cards and just got stupid. Probably the only time I’ve been able to beat her because she was literally moving in slow motion. I’ll never beat Anna. She’s a freak and can play a whole deck. Ugh, and last year I was about 11 weeks pregnant with Clark, and Darcy wasn’t walking yet. Toting her and our beach gear while I was miserably ill was awful, so Anna and Mom did the grunt work on that trip. Also Darcy was basically just miserable on that trip. She was demanding (surprise, surprise), and hated the beach after about 30 minutes. We tried to make it more bearable with a baby pool for her to play in. My sister Anna had to blow that bad boy up and ultimately it did nothing to convince Darcy that the sand and water were not the devil. Anna still bitches about that.

This year, we had our first stay in my parent’s new beach house. It is just beautiful, and I swear we had the best time! I should mention that Katie is a gourmet chef. Seriously, she is amazing and everything that we ate was sublime. My favorite was a sea bass dish she made. Also she mixes fabulous cocktails, and I was the only one to benefit because Anna is pregnant and my mom doesn’t drink at all. Katie and I also took the kids crabbing one night, and it was hysterical. Katie’s daughter is a beast at catching things and crabs are no exception. Anna’s kids–not so much (God bless ’em), but seeing all of them chase after those crabs was hilarious. We then took the golf cart off-roading. Not exactly intentionally, but memorable all the same. I really haven’t laughed that hard in a long time.

Anna has had a difficult pregnancy and doesn’t need to carry anything but herself, so Mavis, Katie and I carried all our gear to and from the beach each day. This wasn’t a problem until one afternoon where Darcy decided she needed to be carried across the sand. I told her, “No.” Cue the full-on meltdown. She screamed from our spot on the beach all the way to the boardwalk. We passed by a tent of people laughing and they pointed to her and said, “Does she happen to be about two?” “Uh, yes. How ever could you guess?” They just laughed and said, “Darcy, what’s wrong?” Darcy cut them an evil look and continued to sob. But guess what? The next day when I told her no, she didn’t cry (as much). So, I’m counting that as a win. 

My mom plans all these precious parties for the girls during the trip. She picks a theme for every night and it was just the cutest thing. The first night was a barn party, the second, a unicorn party, and the final night was a pink pirate party complete with a scavenger hunt. It was so much fun! The adults had just as much fun as the little girls. My mom really is amazing. She cares about all the little details and makes everything so special. She’s always been that way, and I strive to make similar memories with my babies.

Ladies, if you weren’t so fortunate to be born into a girl-tribe, then you’ve gotta make your own. Pick your friends and hold them close. Go on the beach trip. Help your girl out when she is big and pregnant and basically useless, and forgive them when they’re being a bitch (never me). Cook the amazing food and laugh at each others kids when they faceplant during a tantrum. Go off-roading with the golf cart. Make fun of each others hairy arms and talk about everything from Jesus to snissing to sex and all topics that fall in between. You can google snissing if you don’t know what it means, but if you’ve had a child then you’ve experienced it.

If you were born into a girl tribe, then you are lucky. Super lucky. Foster that relationship and love each other hard. Just because you aren’t close now doesn’t mean you can’t build that relationship into something worth having. Look, I love my sisters, but I definitely still argue with them. For instance, two weeks before the beach trip I told Katie she was uncompassionate and sucked at being a sister. Three days later, I apologized and told her that I knew I was actually being crazy, but she still sucked and was old AF. It’s all about balance, you see. I love these women so much. I mean, they’re control freaks and judgmental and not nearly as funny as I am (God bless ’em), but I love them and couldn’t imagine my life without them. I am #blessed.

Kidnapping a grown man

Ben’s 30th birthday

I’ve been quiet on my blog lately. Why? I don’t really know other than I haven’t particularly felt compelled to write. I’ve had enough adventures and happenings and thoughts to fill at least 4 blog entries, but I just haven’t had the itch? Maybe Raynershine’s days are numbered! 🙀

Anyway, in early May, I decided to begin planning for Ben’s 30th birthday. I had exactly zero clue as to what I should do. There are all kinds of ideas available on the world wide web: surprise cancun trips, surprise party, blah, blah blah. Ben is not what I would call the party type. He’s the spend quality time with family type. I even asked him offhandedly what he would like to do for his birthday and he said, “I don’t know. Nothing. Hang out with you and the kids.” Yeah… not giving me much to go on, dear!

So I decided to plan a getaway. I talked to my mother-in-love and scheduled her to take both kids for the night and booked a cottage in Ocean Springs. I asked one of my sweet Phi Mu sisters, a Gulf Coast native,  for her suggestions on what to do, where to eat, that kind of thing. Following her suggestion, I made reservations at a restaurant in nearby Biloxi, and I told Ben that he needed to come home early on the Friday before his birthday. And that’s as far as I got for a while. Ben’s starting of a new job combined with the end of the school year was even further complicated by Clark’s medical scare and kept me busy. So, before I knew it, the getaway was only 2 days away, and I didn’t even have anything else planned. Yikes. So, I decided that on Saturday we could have breakfast in Ocean Springs and tour Beauvoir, the last home of Jefferson Davis, before heading back to Baton Rouge.

Friday morning arrived and I dropped the kids at daycare, got gas in the car,  packed our bags, put them in the car,  went on a quick run, came home and showered, and then panicked. Because I didn’t have a card or gift or anything cutesy to tell him where we were going and I needed a new dress because I hated everything in my closet and this idea was basically a stupid disaster. He was going to be home in an hour and there were no lunch plans, or any plans at all besides showing up at our cottage and our dinner reservations at seven. This is his 30th birthday, y’all. He just graduated from his third and final degree. I am trying to do this thing right! You see, fortunately or unfortunately, Mavis is my mother 😜, and I just couldn’t not have all these extras. I ran to the grocery store and picked up champagne, glass-bottled Cokes because they are way cuter (obviously), cheese, and fruit. I bought a funny card with naked old people on them (those always make me laugh) and a new dress.  I raced home and got out the picnic basket she gave us on our wedding day, packed it up and placed the card on top. I then “cleaned” the house with a quick once-over and waited.

Ben walked through the door, saw the basket, and smiled, saying, “What’s all this.” “Read the card.” The card explained that he was henceforth kidnapped and would be allowed a short bathroom break before following me to the car. He looked a little confused and said, “Wait. We’re going for the whole night? What about the kids?” “Your mom is watching them.” “Wow. Okay. Let me pack!” “Your bags are in the car. Move it! We’re leaving.” “Wow. Okay!”

And we took off to Ocean Springs, snacking on fruit and cheese and those bottled cokes. We got to our precious cottage, put our stuff away and then walked downtown to the stores in Ocean Springs.

There were so many restaurants, bars, and boutiques. The downtown area is just beautiful with large live oak trees framing the shop-lined streets. We grabbed coffee and just enjoyed talking to one another without diapers needing to be changed or babies needing to be fed. It was incredible, and it struck me just how important this time together actually was. I could look at this man and remember the boy he was when we first got started. The first birthday we celebrated as a couple was his 23rd birthday. He had just moved to Michigan, I was still in nursing school in Mississippi, and everyone said we weren’t going to “make it.” Now we were hand in hand on a pier in Ocean Springs celebrating his 30th birthday after 4.5 years of marriage and 2 children. It was a strange, almost wistful feeling to say the least.

That night we went to dinner at the White Pillars restaurant and it was pretty amazing even if I did think that the tiny complimentary tasting was the appetizer we had ordered. I was feeling pretty cheated! The bourbon-based drinks and delicious entrees were only eclipsed by the amazing White Pillars chocolate bar dessert. Seriously, I was living my best life for that plate.

The following morning we had pancakes at a local breakfast joint and then went to Beauvoir. It was beautiful and coincidentally it was Jefferson Davis’ birthday so they did a whole salute and shot cannons to mark the occasion. Also. Cupcakes. So I’m counting that as a win in my book. Ben and I love history so it was the perfect end to our trip.

And that’s how I kidnapped my husband. It was great, and I highly recommend it. Also, that boy better spoil me for my 30th, but it’s a while until then because I’m his much younger and hotter wife 😈.

Am I the only one?

Musings over my second cup of coffee

So, now I’m out of school, Clark is out of the woods, Darcy is out of her mind, and I finally have a moment to blog. I decided that since my unpopular opinion post was a hit because apparently we all have thoughts that suck, I decided to have an “Am I the only one?” post.

Am I the only one who…

  1. Hates hearing about television shows I don’t watch? Shut up about Supernatural or Girls because it is NOT happening. The only shows that count are the ones I watch. Obviously.
  2. Feels superior because I floss my teeth daily? Like, “I bet they don’t floss their teeth daily. Gross.” *scoffs*
  3. Breaks out in my sorority stomp while waiting for my food to finish microwaving? I mean, were you even in a DSU sorority if you don’t do this?!
  4. Thinks of someone randomly, and it makes my heart want to burst with love for them? Even if I haven’t seen them in years? I love people hard, man.
  5. Imagines a scenario or listens to a song so sad that I actually cry? Why do I do this? What is WRONG with me?!
  6. Eats a food because it is healthy, cheap, and convenient even though its texture and flavor are just barely above disgusting? Bananas. I’m talking about bananas, y’all.
  7. Smells meat/milk past their expiration to decide how “expired” it really is? I live  dangerously for someone who has had food poisoning before.
  8. Cleans house like someone with a major disorder? I start by cleaning the bathrooms. But when I go to take the trash out, I walk into the kitchen and decide to unload the dishwasher and then reload it…which then leads me to the bedroom to grab the glass on my nightstand which is covered in dust so I go to get the dust cloth and see the clothes that need to be washed and suddenly its 3 hours later and my house still looks like a pile of dog poop. Le sigh.
  9. Forgets that my sweet little dog is actually a vicious predator? Yeah…Libby has reminded me lately that she’s actually a damn savage. She decapitated a rabbit 2 weeks ago and ate its entrails. She left its carcass in front of Darcy’s playhouse. It was beyond repulsive. Two days later she killed a squirrel, and most recently, she attempted snake-murder. She would have killed the snake had Ben not intervened because it was a “good” snake. So she’s basically an absolute savage who sleeps on my pillow.
  10. Thinks Tom Selleck is still an absolute fox? This is actually probably a stupid “Am I the only one?” because obviously I CANNOT be the only one, here. I love you forever, Tom.
  11. Thinks Amy Schumer is too crude to be a fan of her? I can’t y’all. She’s like Sarah Silverman to me, who is also too crude. Or Dane Cook, who is ALSO too crude. You can be funny and clever without being disgusting. Hello, Ellen DeGeneres and Jimmy Fallon!

I LOVE hearing about other people’s weird habits. There’s just so much more to appreciate about a person when you know some of their tics. So feel free to share them! I probably won’t judge unless you are just a freak. Or don’t share my love for Tom Selleck. That’s a deal breaker, there. And that’s it. Not a lot of substance here, today. But honestly I’m glad. Because my personal life is a little too exciting sometimes and not in a feel-good kind of way. So you’ll have to contend with my random musings or find another more interesting, compelling, and/or exemplary blog. You’re always welcome here, though. Love to all!

Results?

And my crappy Lazarus analogy

Negative. Mayo Clinic has deemed the results negative, but did acknowledge an elevated level of glycosaminoglycans. They believe this to be from contamination, or could be a sign of some other disorder. So though the answer is not a perfect and resounding “NO!” it is more of a “Almost assuredly and mostly no.”

You would think I would have jumped for joy, but instead I felt immediate fear. What if the elevated levels mean that he actually does have Hurlers?! What if we have to repeat this test?! I CANNOT WAIT AGAIN! I will kill myself. I will jump in front of a bus. I will die because I cannot take one more ounce of stress. These thoughts were immediately followed by more fear that by me saying ‘I can not take any more’ that I was issuing a challenge to God to give me more pain and anguish to prove that I can take it. Cynical, I know.

I put too much faith in science and logic and exactness. Jesus knows that about me, and He wants me to trust in Him whatever the outcome, and I struggle with that–with saying, “Whatever the outcome, I love and trust in You.” Because a part of me, the sinful part, does not feel that way. I love Jesus when I receive His blessings and goodness, and I often lose faith in Him when “it’s not fair.” Jesus knows this about me. So, I believe He gave me a lab result that wasn’t quite perfect. And I reacted predictably–in simultaneous relief and despair.

I am reminded of John 11 account of Lazarus. Jesus loved Lazarus and knew he was very, very sick. Despite this, Jesus stayed where he was for 2 days and said (paraphrased), “This will not end in death, but this will be for God’s glory, and God’s Son will be glorified through this.”

Y’all. Lazarus died. He had been dead for 4 days by the time Jesus came into town. Lazarus’ sister Mary told him,”If you had been here, Lazarus wouldn’t have died!” And then Jesus opens the tomb of a dead man, tells him to get up, and he DOES! Like a mummy, Lazarus walks up out of the tomb. Seriously on the mummy part. John 11:44 says his hands and feet and face were wrapped in cloth 😱

What I’m trying to say, and probably failing at, is that God rarely gives me expedient, nice, and tidy answers. He gives me halfway answers, prolonged waiting times, and frustrating questions. I forget that an answer of “maybe” is not the same as a hard “no,” and sometimes I forget to be grateful for that. Jesus is working for something huge, here. Bigger than huge, even. My despair is caused by putting my faith in the world instead of the One who created it. Shame on me. Jesus is healing my baby. I’ve seen proof of it over and over again, and I still doubt. And today, He answered our prayers. Thank you for your prayers. I am blessed beyond measure by those who love and pray for me and my baby.

Clark is an overcomer, and we are mighty when we unite in prayer. Love to all ❤️

EDIT: I was hesitant to submit this update because my pediatrician wanted to talk to geneticist to clarify the confusing results. I decided to believe in the negative result. I pressed submit and my pediatrician called me immediately. He said that the Mayo Clinic geneticist said the elevated level was from craniosynostosis and NOT Mucopolysaccharidosis. You will never convince me that wasn’t Jesus. 😭👏🏻🙌🏼❤️

An update with a pending update

So basically I still don’t know anything

Waiting.

We sent off labs a couple of weeks ago on Clark to test for a rare metabolic disorder called Hurler’s syndrome. The symptoms are vague in the first year of life, but become more apparent the older the child becomes. He has a few of the vague symptoms and early intervention is essential. Without treatment, children with Hurlers rarely live past 6 years old, and with treatment, some are living into their 20s. It is a life-limiting disease. All week my prayers have been that Clark does NOT have this disorder. I’ve been calling the lab directly to see if the results were in, and at 9:00 a.m. this morning, the lab confirmed that they were resulted. And now, I’m waiting.

Waiting for the doctor’s office to call me with the results. Waiting to know if our lives will be completely uprooted. Waiting to know if a timer has been set on my son’s life.

I’m scared to know what the results are. I’m scared to know whether my son will require a bone marrow transplant thus necessitating chemotherapy. I’m scared that I’ll have to leave my Darcy to be with Clark in the hospital for months. Some people say that it is foolish to “borrow trouble.” We don’t know if he even has Hurlers, afterall. But we will know today, and I’ve made plans. I’ve looked at different hospitals that treat Hurlers and offer bone marrow transplants. I’ve thought about how we can make it work living apart from one another as no hospital in Baton Rouge can treat this syndrome.

I’m praying constantly that this is not going to be a part of our story. Please pray with me, for guidance and strength. I will update very soon. Love to all ❤