Friday, July 29, 2011

A Dentist, a Doctor, and a Clown

Wednesday, for me, was a lot like a baseball game. Quick sudden bursts of action crammed into short amounts of time paired with a lot of waiting around.

As most of you know, I was running in the Ronald McDonald 5K Wednesday evening. For many, a 5K is a walk in the park, but I have to mentally and physically prepare for such a venture with all of my being, and I am much better off if my day leading up to a 5K is relatively uneventful. Wednesday was not such a day.

The kids had their first ever dentist appointments Wednesday morning at 9:30 am. Yes, yes I know...this is something that should have been done a long time ago, but we've moved an average of once a year since Elijah was born, and changed insurance more times than I can count, so yeah, I was a little lazy about finding a dentist to take care of teeth that wouldn't be around much longer. Let's move on.

The dentist appointment was scheduled a week in advance, so it's not as though I didn't know about it. I was fully prepared, and understood that I should get my rest, since it wasn't going to be such a typical day. I went to bed at 9:30 Tuesday night. I had the most wonderful night of cricket farts to be had (read previous blog), and awoke all on my own at 7:45 am. Plenty of time to be ready and early to the dentist!

After showering, and eating, and readying myself like a champ, I gave myself a pat on the back for being ready before the kids were even up. I sat down to play around on the computer just knowing that the kids would be up any second. After all, they're up on any normal day around 8:15 to 8:45.

But like I said, this was no typical day. Of COURSE this would be the day they sleep, and sleep...and sleep! I had to go wake them up just after 9, which, as you know, did not leave us nearly enough time to get out the door and to the dentist on time. I ran two confused toddlers around to get dressed, find shoes, and brush their teeth all while rubbing their eyes at me, but this did somehow build up the excitement of going to the dentist, and by the time we pulled up they were shouting, "we're going to take care of our teeeeeeth!"

The children came through with flying colors. Of course there was the hand holding, and the singing, and the "Yay! Your teeth are getting a bubble bath!" In fact, there was so much of that, that I couldn't fill any of the paperwork out until they were both all done. But the fact that they let the dentists there touch them without screaming so loudly the whole building heard, was a miracle in itself. And I learned that by calling them dentists, not doctors, the children were much more responsive and eager to please. So I was pleased.

I hurried them home because they had yet to eat anything and it was now after 11. I sat them down with special bowls of Lucky Charms (which they totally earned and deserved), and then started my morning chores around the house. This usually begins in their room, because, while it's neat otherwise, they mess their beds up so badly while they sleep that it looks like a tornado slept there. It was only about a minute after I heard them yell, "I ate all my food, Mommy!" that I heard a small thud, and Chastity's scream immediately followed.

Now you have to understand, that happens nearly every day. She is either tumbling on the floor, off the couch, or spinning until she can no longer walk. It is endless entertainment, but also the constant cause of minor injury.

My first reaction: "You're OK!" as I continued to make her bed. Elijah then came in to let me know that Chastity hurt herself. The screaming didn't stop, and Chastity came to find me. Upon lifting her I noticed she wouldn't move her right arm, and the screaming got louder. I rushed her to the couch and stripped off her shirt like a band-aid to exam her. The way she was holding her arm made it look like she'd dislocated her shoulder, but she screamed no matter where I touched it.

It was now 11:45 am. I was hoping to avoid the ER, so I called her pediatrician. That conversation went well.

"Hi, this is Erin Greene. My daughter, Chastity has an appointment with you tomorrow, but she just hurt her arm badly, and I'm wondering if I can bring her"
(Chastity screaming in the background)
Receptionist: Ummm...You want to combine it with her well visit...with her shots and stuff?
(Yes, yes, that is exactly what I'd like to do...she's not screaming hard enough, so give her some violent shots to her legs as well, please.)
"No, no. I just want someone to look at her arm...if at all possible. If they then recommend that I take her to the ER, I will, but I'd like someone to check."
(Chastity continues to scream)
Receptionist: Oh, ok, because we can't combine it with her well visit. We wouldn't have enough time to do both.
(Thank you for that. Good to know)
"Ok, well can I bring her in right now?" (Now 11:47am)
Receptionist: Sure, how's 1 o'clock sound? Does that work for you?
(Really? Does that sound like NOW? Do you hear the words coming out of my mouth?)
", right now?"
Receptionist: Sorry, we take lunch from noon to 1, so we can't see her before 1.
"Ok then. I'll take her to the ER. Thank you very much (for nothing).

I got Chastity to the ER quickly, constantly checking my mirrors, just daring a cop to pull over this mom on a mission.

I never did put her shirt back on. It would have been too painful. So I carried my half naked little girl into the ER, and gave them her name. Hoping to rush them through their computer system, I opened with "Chastity Greene, she's been here before," and gave them her birth date. Because she had a minor injury to her left arm about 6 weeks ago when she pulled hard from holding my hand while crossing the street.

In hindsight, that may not have been the best introduction, since the cop sitting right behind the receptionist didn't stop watching me the rest of the time we were in the waiting area. However, they did get us in quickly. That's about the only thing they did quickly. After about a half hour someone came in to examine her. This was quite the difficult task, because it didn't matter where the doctor touched her, she screamed simply because a stranger was touching her. They decided to go ahead and x-ray the whole arm, shoulder to wrist, since the exam was so inconclusive. It was another hour before anyone came to take her in for her x-ray. After the x-ray, we sat in there, alone for nearly 3 hours before someone finally came to tell us that they determined she had a closed fracture of the elbow, and would need a soft cast. At this time, it was after 4, I hadn't had any food or water since around 11am, and my 5K was at 6:30!

Let's recap: my children hadn't seen a dentist before Wednesday, I fed them Lucky Charms immediately after the dentist appointments, I yelled to Chastity "You're OK!" after she took a tumble that landed her in a cast, and yes, I'm still going to run a 5K after bringing home a tired, hurting little girl from the hospital. I know, I know...I should be nominated for Mother of the Year.

It all sounds bad, but I promise you she was in good spirits by the time we left the hospital, and Jelani is quite capable, contrary to what you may have heard.

We were home by 5, Jelani started dinner for the kids, and I ate some quick bread and butter (the pregame meal of champions), and headed out the door to the Ronald McDonald House 5K. I couldn't let my supporters down, and, let's face it, a good run after a day like that should be very therapeutic.

Only it wasn't. It was nice to get out in the fresh air, but bread and butter is so not the pregame meal of champions. I was tired, and dehydrated, and just plain malnourished, and after only about half a mile, my legs felt like they were going to collapse beneath me. But, if playing basketball at the Division 1 level taught me anything, it was how to push through pain and get out of my comfort zone, so I continued on, and was surprised to find that my 1st mile time was 8:53. I smiled to myself just knowing that I could run this all in less than 28 minutes even on collapsible legs.

By the third mile I started to see men as old as or older than my dad (no offense Dad) passing me. Unacceptable. I kicked it up a notch...or so I thought, only to find a nice long hill at the very end of the race. I...uhhh..."sprinted" to the finish, but, alas, my efforts produced only a time of 28:41. At the time, I thought that was alright, but later realized that my last 5K was finished in 28:25.

So I took a few steps backwards. I can live with that. And my excellent mommy instincts told me I shouldn't stay and participate in the after party, but rather get home to my aching little girl.

Thank you to my supporters for helping make my run possible and support the Ronald McDonald House. I don't have a picture from this race because, sadly, I ran this one alone, and though I didn't see Ronald, I'd like to believe he was there, as he should be, supporting the cause which holds his name.

I went home, hugged my babies, and ate a fudge brownie sundae. What a day! 

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Case of the Mysterious...Cricket Farts?

I might tell you that I am a light sleeper. Jelani would tell you that this is an understatement and that I "wake up to a cricket fart."

I can't even tell you the last time I slept all the way through the night, and my children are perfectly good sleepers! Most recently our dog, Selah, has decided she is going to be a barking dog. So I'm no longer waking up to cricket farts, I'm waking up to Selah barking at cricket farts.

When we first rescued Selah, I went several months thinking that she couldn't or didn't know how to bark. Her only form of communication was growling at us very much like Chewbacca to get us to do what she wanted us to do. At the time we lived in an apartment on the bottom of three stories of apartments, in a college community where parties went on around us late into the wee hours of the morning, and the couple above us often participated in some very loud...uhhh...calorie burning activities anywhere from 2 to 5 in the morning. Selah never barked. Our next move was to a house placed only about 200 feet in front of train tracks where the train passed by around every 30 to 45 minutes. Still, Selah rarely barked.

Jelani would tell you I am wrong about that, but trust me...he'd be wrong. If Selah barked at that train constantly during a time that I had a new baby, I would have kicked her out of the house so fast...

But I digress. From there we moved back to Pennsylvania. Selah barked more often there, but not every night. The silence of small, backwoods PA confused here, so the cricket farts were a lot easier to hear I guess.

After only a few months there we moved, yet again, to Elmira. With no air conditioning we had the windows open constantly. We had a house about 5 feet from us on either side, and were on a street where traffic moved constantly. And still, Selah's barking was at a minimum. The barking that did ensue there, we later discovered, was the result of chasing a mouse or two around the apartment in the middle of the night. Those were some fun nights in Elmira.

Our next move was to a very small apartment in Buffalo. It was inside a building with three other apartments, all filled with college students. Our apartment, of course, was the first one inside the door, so we heard everyone coming and going, and the couple living above us had a dog that barked nonstop while they were gone. I am sure they just thought she was the best, quietest dog ever. She never made a peep when they were home, but when they were gone, and I was trying to get the kids to nap, I had to pray the wind didn't blow a single branch and that no one walked past, or that dog would (and did) bark all day. Yet, somehow, through all of that, Selah still remained calm, cool, and collected, only barking a normal dog.

Lastly, we moved to the apartment we are in now. We're near UB's South Campus, on a busy street, so we see and hear college students walk by often. However we don't live near many least not the wild ones, because we rarely ever hear parties. We do hear the drunk college kids walking down the street after leaving the bars occasionally though. But we have lived here over a year now, and just this summer has that become an issue. It's hotter than a sauna in here (no joke our thermostat currently reads 89 degrees) with windows in the living room caulked shut, we have fans running everywhere, and every other window we can possibly open is open. The dog happens to sleep right next to one of those open windows, and just within the last month has decided to bark every night anywhere between 1 and 4 in the morning.

At first I was concerned that something was really wrong. I was all like, "What is it girl? Is someone bad trying to get into our home? Is there a fire?" I would eventually discover that it was nothing, send her back to bed and calm her with a nice pat on the head, as if to let her know how much I appreciate her trying to protect us. Now, when I find myself suddenly awake to her insistent barking, I throw the covers off, stomp out of bed and down the hall mumbling like a lunatic, "What is it? Did one of hundreds of cars drive by? Did the wind blow a leaf by the window? DID A CRICKET FART?!" And I send her back to bed with a slap on the rear.

If this were the one and only issue in the night I might be a little more sane (or a little less insane, depending on how you see it), but I constantly find myself just about to drift off to sleep when I hear a loud THUD, or maybe several quieter thuds in a row. Sometimes I can feel them before I'm awake enough to hear them. If any of you parents out there have children relatively new to twin or toddler beds, you probably recognize the sound of a child falling to the floor. Only here, with all the fans on full blast, everything is a little muffled, and I never knew if it was just the neighbors moving around upstairs, or if it was one of my children, until I began to hear the startled-awake screams which followed. Then, last month, our upstairs neighbors moved out, leaving me wondering what the heck was going on in the middle of the night in my kids' bedroom! It became a mystery to me. The thuds never stopped, and Jelani's theory was that I was hearing things...creating something out of nothing in my paranoid, 24/7 mommy brain, because of course he sleeps through everything.

I was beginning to think that maybe he was right...until last night. One would think that after going to bed at 9:45 last night, I would be well rested today. One would be wrong, and here is why:

11:30 pm - Selah barking
1:23 am - Selah barking
1:35 am - dang it, now that I've been up, I have to pee
1:56 am - THUD thudthudthud.............thud
2:01 am - one more little thud, and I'm up standing at the kids' door, waiting to hear that darn cricket
2:05 am - heard nothing at door. got back in bed
2:28 am - Selah barking
2:50 am - THUD THUUUUUUUUD I thought for sure something happened that time
2:56 am - heard nothing at door and got back in bed
3:31 am - Selah barking (made Jelani go kick her)
3:42 am - THUD......THUDscreamTHUDthudthudthudscreamTHUDthudthudSCREEEEEAAAAM 
3:44 am - Jelani returns after putting Elijah back in bed, and noticing that the night light (which shuts off after 45 minutes) had been turned back on, and Chastity was very much pretending to be asleep with her eyes squinted tightly shut

AhHA! The cricket has been located. I am not crazy, and I do not make up noises in my head. It would appear, through a series of events and deductive reasoning, that Chastity is the cricket..."farting" around in the night when she is supposed to be sleeping. This explains my sleepless nights. This explains most of the light thudding. And this explains her more recent, unusual grumpy behavior in the mornings.

And maybe...just maybe if I can get the cricket to stop farting, then the dog will stop barking, because clearly, poor Selah has been just as confused as I have!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Samson the Grateful

Every afternoon and night before nap and bedtime we have Bible time with the kids. Most often we read a story from their children's Bible, apply it to our lives as they would understand it, and then we pray. One of the stories is about the notorious Samson, titled "Samson the Strong." For those of you who are unfamiliar with the story it is about a young Israelite boy. God told him he must never cut his hair and in return He would make Samson very strong. However, instead of being grateful to God for his gift of strength, and instead of praising God for his blessings, he was proud and boastful. So God allowed circumstances (Delilah) to cut his hair causing Samson to lose his gift and become weak.

Throughout the last two years of my college basketball career, this particular story resonated with me. The talent, passion, and understanding I had for the game of basketball was a gift from God. He allowed the doors to open giving me a chance at a free education. Don't get me wrong. I worked very hard to get to where I was. My dad always told me, "God helps those who help themselves," and "Pray as though you depend only on God, but work as though you depend only on yourself." But see, somewhere along the line I stopped relying on God. I was not using the talent and passion He gave me to glorify Him. So, not unlike Samson, circumstances unfolded and my basketball career came to a premature end.

At the end of Samson's story, however, Samson realizes his mistakes and prays to God for forgiveness, and God, in His infinite mercy, returns Samson's strength to him. I can remember, in my final years of college, crying out to God, "I get it now. I am so sorry! Please forgive me. I promise to use my talents to glorify Your name!" For reasons I am sure I will not understand until I am standing face to face with Jesus, God did not return my talent to me. My ankle never truly healed, and graduation approached rapidly while I was still dealing with surgery options.

After my second surgery I was told I would likely never play basketball competitively again, and even running regularly for exercise would be questionable. Now, more than six years later, I have been able to return to the basketball court, playing with old friends whenever I can, and I have run two 5Ks, my first since 2002. It has been a long journey, but God as been with me every step of the way.

June 21st I ran in The Best of Eggertsville 5K with a time of 35:52. Here I am with my friend, Allison. She runs with me whenever she can!

Then, June 29th I ran in the Celebrity 5K Run with a time of 28:25!

This is what my husband and kiddos made for me after that run:)

On the 4th of July I ran 5 miles (the farthest nonstop distance I have ever run), in 53:03. God willing, I would like to be able to complete a half marathon by this October.

I have learned that the running is a wonderful time for prayer and worship. It helps the run to go by faster while keeping me calm no matter how hard I'm pushing myself. Most importantly, it keeps me from reverting back to the "proud Samson" I once was. I am just so grateful to finally be back to doing what I love!

My next run is the Ronald McDonald House 5K, July 27th. If you would like to support this run and Ronald McDonald House Charities, you can donate right here at the end of this blog. Thank you for your donations toward this awesome charity and toward my healthier lifestyle!