Samuel Jerome and Richnightder

Samuel Jerome and Richnightder
Our boys in Haiti

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Nothing is ever easy or simple

My eye is even more lovely than it was yesterday.  The lower eyelid is swollen significantly and has now moved low enough to encompass the entire under eye area.  Yep, it's one fine looking mess.  I head to the opthamologist today at 4 and am hoping he tells me it something simple to take care of and not some rare, exotic, deadly disease.  See.  I'm just a LOT of a hypochondriac.

Thomas and his knee are causing us a little bit of a logistical headache.  When I phoned the orthopedic clinic yesterday, I explained that the pediatrician wanted him to be seen  by an orthopedic surgeon due to her suspicions of a torn cruciate and/or meniscus.  The young man taking my phone call told me there was an opening with Dr. XYZ on Tuesday at 10AM.  Great, and I took the appointment.  Today I got on the computer to have a little looksie at whom I was entrusting my son's future mobility to, and was shocked to find out that the 'Dr.' was actually a nurse practitioner.  Now I have nothing against a nurse practitioner and have actually chosen to see one as my primary in the past.  However, when I request a doctor, I expect to be given an appointment with a doctor and not a close second. 

Thomas also carries the Sickle Cell Trait which is half the genetic component of Sickle Cell Disease.  Having Sickle Cell Trait is fairly inconsequential in daily life and is only really important during extreme heat and exercise, high altitude hiking, and of course procreation....but that's a ways down the road yet!  The most critical aspect of SC Trait is knowing this and relaying the information to a doctor before surgery.  SC Trait means that half of his red blood cells do not carry oxygen efficiently through his body and this affects the way he handles and processes anaesthesia.  This was very carefully explained to me by the pediatric anaesthesiologist at Emanuel Children's Hospital in Portland when Thomas had emergency life saving  surgery at 9 months of age.  The anesthesiologist was emphatic that Marc and I understand this and to always impart this knowledge with doctors before surgery.

When Thomas needed surgery soon after we moved to Bismarck, I shared my concern that he have an anesthesiologist familiar with SC Trait kids.  The doctors reaction left me cold and Marc, Thomas and I left his office immediately.  The doctor scoffed at my worries and told me that putting them to sleep was always easy.  Really, no duh!   It's the waking them up part that worries me.  We took Thomas to Children's Hospital in Minneapolis and had a wonderful physician and had a very comforting, reassuring discussion with the anesthesiologist who once again, validated my concerns about the nature of SC Trait. 

As I type, Marc is at his office trying to schedule an appointment for Thomas at Children's Hospital in Minneapolis.  We need to have him seen by a surgeon and to establish the relationship with a physician that can provide the surgery at a hospital familiar with kids with SC Trait.  The anesthesiologist at Children's have been wonderful to Thomas in the past and I have ever hope that their skill will meet the level I desire for my child. 

I am so frustrated by the medical services here.  I am also immensely humbled that while I sit an complain about my frustrations, I can still pick and choose which doctor and where to take my son for treatment.  It's so sad to realize that just 500 miles from the tip of Florida, people are dying everyday because they do not have access to a doctor and simple medicine.  The people of Haiti know what real frustration looks and feels like.  I have very little room to complain right now.

I am grateful that we  are able to provide the best medical care we can and that we have options.  So many in this world do not.  That's a reality that breaks my heart.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Hi ho, hi ho, it's off to the orthopedist we go

Thomas has been complaining of his right knee hurting for about 2 weeks.  Twice now, his knee has given out and he has fallen while walking down the stairs.  Yesterday at soccer, he stopped playing to rest it and then continue on.

Thomas has a fairly high tolerance for pain.  He's just plum stoic.  I took him to the doctor's office today after we finished school.  Since we didn't make an appointment with our pediatrician, as a walk-in, you see the pediatrician on call.  She's a nice, YOUNG gal and gave Thomas a thorough going-over.  He actually exhibited pain when she flexed the knee and twisted it.  Ah ha!

Off we went to x-ray.  I just got the phone call that as expected, the x-rays were fine.  Now we see an orthopedist on Tuesday.  He'll schedule an MRI and it looks like Thomas may have a partial tear of his anterior cruciate and/or blown his meniscus. 

He has been told to stay very INACTIVE and not move around much until then.  Great!  How do I keep a kid in constant motion, quiet and still?  He's on some anti inflammatories and Motrin 24 hours a day now and I can only hope that he just has some soft tissue tears like muscles that don't require surgical correction. 

And to make my day just a little more interesting, I woke up with my first ever eyelid stye.  It's on my lower right eyelid and I look a little dopey and maybe even a little like a battered woman.  I can only hope the swelling goes away before I have to take Thomas to the doctor's next week.  What a pair we'll make.  One limpy, gimpy kid and his mom with a puffed up, red eyelid!~

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Nouns and Verbs

My sweet baby boy, Jerome just about killed me today with his school work.  As an English language learner, he still struggles to understand some of the fine points of our language, as do most native English speakers.  English is a complex language with lots of messed up rules, and exceptions to the rules.

For the past week or so, I've been sensing that he is just guessing at whether or not a word is a noun or a verb.  So today I made up a list of words from his spelling words and had him sort them into piles; one for verbs and one for nouns.  The first card was 'chin' which he methodically agonized over.  He repeated the word, chin, about 4 gazillion times before announcing it was a verb.  At this point I had to muffle my internal scream.

I backed up the learning train and reviewed that a noun was a person,place, thing (and am currently omitting that a noun is also an idea as it's way to ambiguous for him) and a verb was an Accctttiiiooooonnn word.  I asked him if he could act or do, 'chin' and he said no and touched his chin.  I pointed out that he was touching his chin which makes it a 'thing'!  He finally put it into the 'noun' pile and we moved on.

Next card was drum.  I had drawn a picture of a drum and was intending on the picture denoting a noun and not the action 'to drum'.  He looked at the picture and loudly announced it was  verb.  Once again I squelched my scream and pointed out that the picture was of a drum.  Could he touch it?  Yes, he could.  Then it was a thing which is a noun.  He placed it into the Verb pile and pointed at me and said I was drumming my fingers. 

If I'm frustrated, he must be even more agonized over this.  He continues to smile and work his happy butt off to do school, learn and try his absolute best, but this English stuff is killing me.  Is this normal for an English Language Learner?  Richnigthder is doing much better at his English work, but even he still has issues with adding and 's' to words to denote ownership or plurality.  For example; today he was talking about a friend named Kidane and he said, "Kidane LIKE fruit."  I corrected that one person 'LIKES' but one than one person, like we, and it's 'LIKE."  Tough stuff to teach someone who's only been learning English for a relatively short time.  Am I expecting too much?  Is my Grammarian father's intense desire to speak correctly burdening my two little boys?  Maybe it's just me and I'm a total nut job.

When I hear incorrect grammar, it's like nails-on-a-chalkboard....screeching and infuriating!  Will my little guys ever get the finesse of the English language?  I know as a home educating mom I expect more from my kids, but am I pushing it with their English.  I can't just ignore it when they make these mistakes, but how do I continue to gently correct them without them just shutting down. 

For now I'm just happy that Jerome continues to try over and over and over and over and over again with a smile on his face.  Noun, verb.....I know one cuss word that can be used as both and I'm screaming it to myself right now.  Yep, I'm the next mother of the year!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Date night

Marc and I escaped for a few hours last night.  We left Madison at home, in charge of all of her brothers.  She made homemade Macaroni and Cheese for dinner and scotcharoos for dessert.  Given her dominatrix type personality, it wasn't hard for her to force her 3 brothers into cleaning the kitchen and doing the dishes.  Hey, I really don't care how she did it.  All I know is I came home to a clean kitchen.

We went to see 'The Help' and it was an emotionally moving movie.  I do think the book was better, but I think everyone always feels that way.  Marc even got teary at a couple places in the movie although I don't think he'll publicly admit it. After the movies we headed to Applebee's for dinner.

The nano-second we sat down, my phone started to ring.  The first call was from Madison in hysterics trying to explain that Thomas had seen a skunk in our garage and he had gone outside to chase it down with his bb gun.  Marc calmed that situation down and explained to Thomas that chasing a skunk is never, ever a good thought for a bunch of different reasons.

The phone rang again with a happy voice explaining that the package from  had just arrived.  I bought the boys new winter coats and Madison a pair of clogs like mine and everyone was thrilled and happy!  Score one for mama!  And just so you know, clothes from Hanna Andersson are exceptionally well made and last Forever!

The third call was Richnigthder complaining that Madison is working him like a dog.  She had him clean a bathroom, sweep and feed the dogs.  Life as a dictator must be taxing for Madison and oppressive for her minions!

The final phone call was from Thomas informing us that one of the Rottweilers had just spent an hour or so barfing on our bed.  Naturally we asked why he hadn't taken the dog outside when he realized she was hurling and he emphatically told us, "Because you told us to keep the dogs inside while you're gone."  The one time he follows directions and it has to be this time? 

Sensing the fun of our date alone had reach it's maximum, we headed for home to deal with skunks and barf.  Indeed the dog had barfed on our bed.  She barfed up one of Marc's socks, a partial cow hoof and what appears to be several crayola crayons....or so the wrappers denote!

The skunk left behind a signature scent but we haven't seen his Pepe LePew butt and it better stay that way.  I don't know if we can handle another date anytime soon.  It's just too damn stressful to deal with the chaos thru the phone.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Rural living in an industrial zone

We bought our house and 40 acres for the peace and serenity it offered.  We live approximately 25 miles Northeast of Bismarck and specifically chose to live further out from the city to avoid urban sprawl, city lights and noise.  Well guess what?  For 2 years we have been fighting unsuccessfully to prevent an energy company from placing 66, 300feet tall industrial wind turbines on property that adjoins ours.

These looming towers will be placed approximately 1750 feet from our back door.  For those of you who don't know what these monsters look like, go to this  These people have been living with and dealing with the effects of turbines for several years.  Our county commissioners are well aware of the data, to include the United Nations recommendations that wind turbines be place at least 2 kilometers from an inhabited structure, but for some unknown (GREED) reason, they have chose to force these turbines upon the residents of our township.  Oddly enough, the commissioners are aware that 2/3 of the residents of our township DO NOT want these, yet they are forcing the will of the minority on the majority. 

The property where the turbines will be placed so closely to our home is actually owned by someone who live 6 miles away.  He has stated that he doesn't want to see the turbines or hear I guess that means it's ok for them to impact our life and re-sale potential.

Multiple studies have shown that turbines located within 1 mile of residences reduces re-sale value by 30-50%.  That's logical.  Who will buy our house with the looming turbines, blinking lights, shadow flicker and constant whooshing, pulsating sound?  NO ONE is the answer.

In our last ditch effort to draw attention to our predicament, NBC did a story on our family.  Here's the link  We've been dealing with this for 2 years and it appears we have exhausted all avenues to prevent these industrial wind towers from being just outside our back door.  If we had known 5 years ago that we would live in the middle of nowhere and be forced to live in the middle of an industrial zone, we obviously never would have purchased this home.  Burleigh County Commissioners have chose to side with NextEra and sell out for the almighty buck......even though the majority of us DO NOT WANT THEM! 

I'm seething with anger and broken-hearted to know that our quiet, peaceful enjoyment of our property will soon be taken from us.  The view out my back door will forever be altered and we will be forced to live with it.  We've done our best in life to provide for our kids and give them a quality of life we find enjoyable and through no fault of ours, it's being stolen.  I guess this is how Democracy works in Burleigh County, North Dakota!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Someone get this kid a Valium

It rained, and rained, and rained yesterday.  The wind was blowing mightily and it was a rotten day for anything or anyone to be outside.  The crummy weather meant Madison could not practice riding. 

She awoke early and headed outside to move jumps around and lay cavaletti poles down.  She was wearing her mud boots and getting stuck in the mushy mud.  When I saw her saddling Ka Ching, I knew I had to intervene.  I simply told her it was not safe to ride when it was still so slick and muddy.

That's when the tears started.  She wailed about how she had to practice before her lesson with Karla today.  My words of caution for her safety and that of the horse's fell on her determined ears.  She wanted to practice come hell or high water....both of which I feel are in our near future!

Finally she relented, through tears and stomping feet and marched the horse back into her stall.  I'm hoping she can focus today on trying to put the pieces together and make for a clean ride.  She is such a perfectionist about riding that her anxiety is out of this atmosphere.  This kid need a Valium and I need a date with Jose Cuervo!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Taking her lumps and moving forward

Last Spring, Karla, Madison's dressage and jumping trainer had all the riders in her barn go out for dinner.  As we sat around the table enjoying each other's company, the riders, of which Madison is the youngest, were asked to share their specific goals for the year and long range in regards to riding.  Madison shared that she wanted to be the best: to have her name known in the dressage/jumping world and to win national titles, international titles and the Olympics.

This kid has more gumption that Forrest!  She is determined and dedicated.  Good thing after yesterday's lesson.  It was a wonderful day to ride outside in the 70 degree temps and early fall sun.  Her lesson got off on the wrong foot (literally) the moment she and Ka Ching began to canter.  Karla asked her to canter some small 15 meter circles and Madison's were closer to 20 meters.  She was even on the wrong lead one time, failed to notice it, and was posting on the wrong diagonal.  All of these errors are rookie mistakes and Karla demands, Demands, DEMANDS, 110% all the time. 

Her ride degenerated downhill from the opening warm ups and bending lines to the jumping.  Both Ka Ching and Madison are right-handed/dominate, and both struggle to go left as easily as right.  Neither of them could get a correct lead coming into a jump from the right, bending sharply and clearing the jump and landing on the left lead.  Karla was yelling and I mean yelling at Madison to get it right. 

Neither the horse nor Madison quit.  They rode and sweat buckets until Karla could see that Madison was trying in earnest to do it as well as she could.  Her eyes were full of tears at the end of the ride, yet she shook it off, and committed herself to do better on Wednesday for her next lesson. 

Honestly I have to admit that it wasn't hard for me to watch Madison get a tongue lashing from Karla.  Oddly, Madison has always succeeded in life at whatever she desires with very little effort.  Things come naturally for her.......until yesterday.  I trust Karla enough to know that she wasn't just yelling at Madison for kicks and giggles, but because she KNOWS the kid can and has done better.  Jumping is dangerous and there is no room for sloppiness.  At the end of the lesson, after the horse was bathed and loaded in the trailer, Madison went to Karla and thanked her.  Karla hugged and kissed her and told her she expects her to work her butt off  to reach her goals and she did it because she cares.  Together, Karla can help her reach for the stars and in return she expects Madison to give her heart and soul to her riding and make every ride count.

Karla has put in her time in the trenches.  She has her Gold medal for dressage and her daughter who's 22 just won the Canadian nationals.  Her goal is to get to the PanAm games, World Equestrian Games and eventually, the Olympics!  Madison wants to achieve along those lines too.  Marc and I will do all we can to help her achieve her dreams and yesterday was just the first among many future tongue lashings. 

I was proud of my kid and how she held it together, kept trying and is not letting it define her.  From this crappy ride, I am sure she learned more lessons about life than the thousands of good rides she has had.  Hopefully, fingers and toes crossed, tomorrows lesson will be less brutal.  Either way, she is learning about perseverance, drive, determination and humility.  All lessons I am sure will aid her in blossoming life.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Parental alone time, or lack thereof

Marc and I had a sort of, kind of date today.  We intended to ride our horses together after church, alone, just the two of us, but Madison some how tagged along.  Three is most definitely company.

While it's not that her company was bad, it's just that Marc and I are never, Ever, EVER freakin' alone.  Well I can't say never as most nights between 11PM and 5AM we are alone in our bed, but even then it's often interrupted by a kid who has a bad dream, can't sleep, has a bloody nose, has a blah, blah, blah!  It's hard to have time alone together with 4 kids and a Noah's ark load of animals to care for.

Marc and I crave time alone together.  We need time alone together.  It's virtually impossible to discuss important aspects of life while being interrupted by the incessant demands of the kids.  We need to get away and spend a few days just being Marc and Geralyn and not mom and dad.  While I know we will be mom and dad until the day we die, it would be kind of nice to revisit the qualities that initially attracted us to each other.  Of course, Marc was attracted to my intellect...bahahahaha....and I was drawn to his carefree, throw caution to the wind attitude....bahahaha...NOT!  Initially he was attracted to my youthful zest and sorority girl giddyness and I was attracted to his pensive, goal-oriented plans for life.  Um, yeah, totally polar opposites.  But whatever.  It's worked for almost 21 years and we are damn proud of it.

But back to the freak show we call our life.  Marc and I need to find a way to be alone.  We don't know how to squeeze that into our busy, warp, speed- of -light kind of life right now.  Each kid is busy with their own activities and that has both of us running kids to opposite ends of town at the same times.  Somewhere, somehow we gotta figure this out.  I'm a nicer person when I get to spend time with my best friend and even though we cohabitat, we still are not spending any time with each other.

I don't know what the answer is.  All I can tell you is that I better not have to wait until Jerome goes off to college to have a date with Marc.  That's not very promising either as Jerome often tells me that he's going to live at home with us forever, to which Marc just groans and grunts.  I provide the obligatory smile and hug and roll my eyes over his head because as sweet as my baby boy is....he's gotta fly the nest sooner or later....right?

Saturday, September 17, 2011


When we dropped Madison off this morning to work at her cheese curd stand (blech again, sorry Tina), we brought the three boys and one of our Rotties, Kitty.  We are used to casual and not-so-casual stares from people as a multi racial family, but realized quickly that one thing that causes more stares than usual is to bring your Rottweiler along. 

Kitty is a fabulous dog and has earned her CGC, or her AKC Canine Good Citizen certificate already.  She heels, sits, greets other people and dogs politely and is a sweet dog with a very waggly stub of a tail.  Heck, even her eyes and mouth virtually smile at people.  It was crowded and packed with all kinds of smells, people with strollers, kids running to pet Kitty as their parent's gasped in abject horror and recoiled, and lots and lots of noise.  My dog is an awesome ambassador of well behaved, personable, engaging Rottweilers.

And then we saw the stereotypical ill informed 'Michael Vicks' of the dog world.  There on the crowded street, stood a young man with lots of tattoos....not a judgment, merely an observation...spikey mohawk, Doc Marten kick ass boots, and of course, a poor Pit Bull on a spiked collar and heavy gauge chain as a leash.  UGH!  The dog looked large and well muscled and had the saddest eyes on any dog I've seen in a very long time.  This guy and his dog are what those in the Pit Bull and Rottweiler world attempt to dispel as horrific stereotypes. 

Any dog can be aggressive.  ANY DOG!  Just like any person can be mean and nasty for no good reason.  Large dogs like Rottweilers and Pit Bulls can be wonderful family pets with some very specific parameters.  First, a dog should come from a reputable breeder that breeds two dogs that have highly stable, well socialized personalities, and that have been screened for diseases like hip displaysia.  Secondly, the owners of any large, strong-willed dog needs to be committed to training the dog every single day and exposing the dog to every possible situation you can imagine.  Lastly, take your dog with you to show the public that well bred, well trained Rottweilers can be fabulous family dogs. 

The guy with the Pit Bull on a chain is a disgrace and he is one guy who should never own a dog that could cause harm to any person.  He perpetuates the stereotype and hurts those of us who are committed to having loving, family companions that are large sturdy, determined dogs. 

I'll hop off my soapbox now and get ready to go get Madison.  Her 2 days of working are quickly concluding and I look forward to hearing her complaints about the numerous morons that she encountered at the street fair.  Maybe it's a North Dakota thing, but who buys a whole turkey leg and accessorizes it with cheese curds and wraps up the meal with funnel cake?  I can't believe I just asked that question, when I've found a huge cardboard bin of bras and panties at the farm and feed store in town.  Now that's as redneck as it gets, eh?

Maybe for added stares tonight, I'll take our other Rottweiler, Bunny and one of the Shelties.  Yep, that and 4 black kids should just about do it!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Look out world, here comes my baby girl

Tomorrow and Saturday, Madison will be gainfully employed.  Alright, it's only for 2 days, but it's her first real job besides babysitting or cleaning horse stalls.  She will be working in the Wells Fargo booth downtown Bismarck during the street fair selling Indian Tacos, funnel cake, cheese curds (Blech) and other assorted heart attacks served on a paper plate! 

With her earnings, she will be purchasing a new bridle for Ka Ching.  It's a used one, but falls within her price range and she will have the full satisfaction of knowing she bought it with the fruits of her labor!

Where has time gone that she is old enough to have a job?

Her riding with Ka Ching has really taken pun intended.  Karla believes she will be able to progress thru training level 1,2, and 3 and move into first level dressage next Spring.  She adores dressage and is crazy about jumping with Ka Ching.  Ka Ching is an honest jumper and gives her all to Madison.  Together, they are a cute team and Madison looks forward to competing with her with great enthusiasm.  My baby is growing up and sometimes I really don't like.  Other times, I'm counting the days until I can move her into a college dorm!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Golly, that was embarassing

Jerome had his opthamologist's and optometrists doctor appointments this morning.  It's been 18 months since he had his eye surgery at the University of Minnesota and this was his final post-surgical follow up with the local doctors.  Everything looks fantastic and the surgery was a resounding success!

I consumed about 4 cups of coffee  while waiting for the optometrist to see Jerome and then had yet another cup of coffee while we waited for the opthamologist to do his stuff.  I figure I had at least a half a pot of coffee at the doctors' office, which of course, created a need for me to find the restroom. 

As we waited, we made small talk and I mentioned to Jerome that the doctor better hurry up and look at his eyes, or I was going to wet my pants.  He laughed and a moment later the doctor walks in and makes the usual pleasantries.  He turned to me and asked how I was and before I could give the standard response of 'Fine, thank you', Jerome interjected that I had wet my pants.  My first reaction was to stand up and demonstrate that I had NOT wet my pants, but continued to stammer that I needed to go wee wee due to the coffee I had consumed in the last hour. 

The doctor just looked at me like I was a mental patient, temporarily released on a day pass, and tried to focus on Jerome.  Rarely am I embarrassed by something, but this one caught me.  I think it was the dead pan expression on Jerome's face that gave credence to his assertion of me being a panty wetter.  Nonetheless, we left with great haste and I had to suppress my desire to draw attention to my DRY pants.  It must have been Senior Citizen day at the doctor's office as the waiting room was full of geriatric patients.  I suppose had I wet my pants, no one would have noticed since the waiting room was full of potential bladder control suspects!

Just another day in my life!