My life the Seinfeld series

I have said nearly my whole young adult life into full-fledged adulthood that my life is like a continuous Seinfeld episode. I just have too many similarities to the show, this day being one of them. It started out as one of those days where everything goes wrong. Yesterday was gloomy & rainy, I didn’t have much planned since The Berry Patch would be slow, so Ava & I went to Mama & Daddys to hangout & help with their Christmas decorations. It all began when Mama dropped an essential part of her Christmas decor which was a silver candlestick to place a Christmas tree on to give it proper height on the mantel, the candlestick shattered into 1,000 pieces. Being the kind, produce-minded daughter that I am, I did two things in this order-I cleaned up the mess, then looked for an alternate height lifter for the tree. A can of mustard greens was the winning decision, who knew a can of greens could provide the same girth as a fancy candlestick…country girl wins (or so I thought). Remember the mantel episode on Seinfeld when George said his whole life could of been different if his parents had a mantel?

As Mama was decorating her house, we decided her decorations were outdated & dinky. She needed an emergency Kirkland’s trip, stat, poor Daddy! We didn’t take my car (mistake) because it was filled with pocketbooks & coats that I cleaned out from her closet last weekend & other stuff of mine that makes my Yukon look like a gypsy wagon. Our dining choice was a 1/2 hearted Ruby Tuesdays. Ava voted an emphatic no, Mama & Daddy said they didn’t care, I wanted a salad & their salad bar is usually pretty decent. We should of listened to the 13 year old. There are a few problems with RT in Southern Pines. First, getting in & out is their biggest crux, along with staffing issues, then there’s the quality of the food. Why would we go there you may be asking, good question! I wanted a “big salad” as Elaine from Seinfeld would say. The restaurant was dirty, servers were arguing with one another, plus there was a school bus in the parking lot, the sweet tea was horrific (all HUGE warning signs), but we stuck it out & ordered.

While eating our salad, Ava mentioned something about food poisoning. Which brought us to the time I actually had food poisoning while on “vacation” at the beach with the parents & the boys (pre-Ava days). I’m going to take you on a journey, a journey to explain why my life is like a sitcom & sometimes like the movie Deliverance. The boys were small, Jack was on the ketogenic diet for treatment of his seizures. The diet was extremely rigid & everything had to be followed to a T in order to be effective. Effective it was for 2.5 years (no seizures or medications during this time). All his food had to weighed, so I would make up his meals in advanced, label them, & be set for the day. In all my packing, I forgot the scale to weigh Jack’s food on. This was no ordinary scale, it was a gram scale, of course not something easily accessed unless you’re a coke dealer or a ketogenic diet follower. I didn’t discover not bringing the scale until that evening. I should of taken this as a sign to go home, however, the boys were so excited to be at the beach, but I was not feeling quite right. I made the dreaded call to Lee to see if I could talk him into bringing the scale to me 2.5 hours away. Now he had already farmed that day from sun-up to practically sundown, but he did. He arrived at the beach around 10pm, spent the night, left around 5am, bless his heart.

I awoke that morning deathly sick with severe cramps & severe diarrhea (the hardest word to spell ever). It was so severe that I had to go to the ER at the beach. Poor Daddy had to watch the boys & Mama was my CNA. The doctor prescribed me something that made me worse, diarrhea & cramping were intensified. I really tried to stick it out & not go back to the hospital, but the pain was overwhelming. I’ve had three natural childbirths with large babies & none were as painful as this. I think Coleman’s head was as big as it is now! My sister Jodie was on her way to join our lovely vacation that night (again, bless her heart), as soon as she walked in the door, Mama, Daddy, & myself loaded up to go to a different hospital. The hospital at that time of night was packed & I was the low one on the totem pole. My outfit was a pair of boxer shorts paired with a short robe which was really short considering I’m nearly 6 feet tall, hey, I had to have clothes that were easy to get on & off considering my status. I was laid out on those nasty waiting room chairs, up & down, back & forth to the restroom. People were talking, what is wrong with this chic! My parents were questioned by another woman waiting wanting to know about my condition. They said we think she has food poisoning. She went on to say I’ve probably got a worm, she had a friend with one who exhibited the same symptoms as mine. Her friend got it from drinking water. I remember Daddy chiming in to say, “boy, she drinks the water”. These three people diagnosed me in the waiting room & made me think I was dying, let me tell ya, I felt like I was!

Hours later & countless bathroom trips, my name was called, hallelujah! All I remember is the doctor asking about what was going on. Mama said, “I think she has food poisoning, but whatever it is, you’re gonna have to kill her. She has ruined our vacation thus far!” I am dying laughing as I type this. Then I remember the best part of this whole ordeal…morphine. Best stuff ever. I did not have a worm, but I had a very upset husband. Lee had to come back to the beach the next day & pick me up. I will make his remark clean, I was told he was coming to get my “tail” & he was not coming back. He had already been to the beach twice in less than 24 hours & never even got to see the beach! A few days later, I began to improve at home & was so very thankful.

Here’s a few clips of our reminiscing, kids always have the camera rolling.

As we were telling Ava about our vacation from hell, we were crying laughing. Such a funny story to look back on. Back to our Ruby Tuesdays experience. After eating, we ran to the car because it’s raining cats & dogs, I try to crank the car & no luck-dead battery. Jodie & her boyfriend saved the day by giving us a jump. We headed to Advanced Auto, got a replacement battery, then off to Kirkland’s to get a supply of stylish, contemporary, big (not dinky) Christmas decor. After a little shopping, we started home through the Pinehurst area. As soon as I saw the blue lights, I knew I was in trouble, there was a license check. When I turned 43 this past October, my license expired. I have had a little too much to worry about over the last year-my expired license was the last thing on my mind. Ava was hysterical! She thought I was going to jail, was already questioning who she would stay with while I was in the slammer. There was no amount of reasoning with her, she was crying uncontrollably until I told her I would not be going to jail unless she kept on, then I would be arrested for beating her in front of the popo (of course this would never happen, but mamas got to threaten sometimes). The cop comes back to the car after running my license with a ticket & said it would be dropped if I got them renewed & took my ticket & my new license to the DMV. What ever happened to warning tickets!

After Ava’s nervous breakdown, my next worry was where to the hide the evil spawn of the devil. What is the evil spawn of the the devil you may ask? It is the Elf on the Shelf. How I hate this stuffed red devil so much. I can not be the only parent out there. The woman that invented such torment needs to be held accountable for the torture parents are put through by something that isn’t real & weighs less than two ounces! I wake up at 3am some mornings in a cold sweat panicked remembering that I didn’t hide the elf! Jack is the only believer in the house now, was not even interested in anything the elf did last year, so it’s nice to have his interest again. But to all you parents that breakout the bags of spilled flour or sugar that your elf made a mess with or those that build an elaborate scheme with rope, toilet paper, & legos, kudos to you. I’m just lucky to put ours on a ledge of a shelf or sitting on the steps.

None of these things get me in a tizzy. I can usually laugh about my stories & I hope you can, too. I never thought I’d be writing a blog, much less a blog about diarrhea. Perhaps Hollywood will get wind of my tales & we’ll be the next Seinfeld show. There are many to share, hope I made you smile. Until next time…

Panic Room

Unfortunately this is not a movie review for Jodi Fosters “Panic Room”, it’s a live video feed of my bull in a china shop. Jack goes through various cycles, both good cycles & bad. The bad ones are more often than not. I have a confession, I have a panic room, my panic room is my bathroom. Not an ideal space to spend the morning hours in hiding, but it works for the most part. I’ve been in the panic room because I was frightened about his behavior before, but not in a while, it’s more of a hiding space when Jack becomes too aggravating to deal with. My mornings are like being hunted down by Big Baby in the “Toy Story” movie. I think of Jack as a giant two year old in many respects, and in others he’s a regular teenager.

I videoed me hiding out in my panic room this morning. Jack was wanting my attention & I was trying to get ready for the day. He was talking about getting a crowbar & busting down the door. I’ve seen Jack’s strength firsthand, the boy don’t need a crowbar to bust through the door! It’s times like these that I am thankful Coleman & Ava are in school.

The simple things that most find cheerful & joyful are heart-shattering to me. I found myself crying over an episode of Trisha Yearwoods cooking show. Trisha was cooking for her niece who is a nurse or doctor & other employees at the hospital because they were working during Thanksgiving. I would love to do that for Coleman & his suitemates or random people, but it just doesn’t fit into my timeline with Jack. I watched a video Jack made of himself singing Frosty the Snowman tonight, it broke my heart. As he continues to divulge in his addiction to the computer & inappropriate things, here he is singing Frosty. I’ll never sleep tonight thinking about that (it’s after 12:30am now). I look around at other families with a longing heart because we can’t have the togetherness they share at a dinner table, on vacation, or anywhere. Any move made outside of the home, we pay for a sitter or one of us stays behind. As your kids get older, they stay with friends, family, or home alone, we don’t have that luxury. We have to leave our house in order to have some sort reprieve. Your home is your safe haven & for us it’s The Berry Patch, a ballgame or a restaurant. Have you ever came home from work & wanted to collapse & do just that? I never have unless I have been deathly sick which doesn’t happen often thank goodness. As soon as I walk through the door, I become Jack’s butler fetching food, his remote, watching tv with him if his cycle allows for that, drink refills…perhaps he’s related to diva Mirah Carey! I have to drug him to get him to sleep, which causes me to be sad & happy all at the same time.

I have a friend that teases me about going to Southern Pines all the time. For those that don’t know about our area geographically, Southern Pines houses stores like TJ Maxx, Ross, a fabulous Belk (the store of southern women), & good restaurants. It’s about 30 minutes from the house. My posse (Ava & Mama) go to Southern Pines once every 10-14 days. It’s called our escape. Ava used to hate shopping when she was younger. When she was around 4 years old, we headed out to Southern Pines for a day of shopping, she cried out in the car, “I wish Ellerbe had a Southern Pines”. That is still the funniest thing to me. I hate having to leaving our home in order to enjoy myself & enjoyment can’t be fully experienced since I am continuously worried that Jack will have an altercation while I’m gone.

The happiness & safety of our children is of utmost importance to Lee & myself. Coleman is making his mark at State, involved in clubs, meeting new friends, checking out the downtown scene, pulling all-nighters, loving life. What a blessing that is for us. We want the kids to succeed, but being joyful & in a safe environment is what we truly want for both Coleman & Ava. Coleman & Ava only know mayhem. They have faced maybemhead-on every single day for most of their lives. I miss Coleman tremendously, but I am over the moon elated that he is experiencing something we weren’t able to provide. The type of turmoil they have gone through had to be a driving force for Coleman. His success was something he could control & he did it so well. All children are different, but Coleman & Ava are so much alike personality wise. Coleman is the computer expert, whereas Ava is the athlete. My prayer is that they can find love, fun, & a safe haven wherever life takes them.

With the Christmas season nearly among us & the little Hallmark Christmas movies are streaming 24/7, they make me sad. I want a cozy fire, cute Christmas outfits, perfect Christmas decorations, snowfall, & those delicious Christmas cookies that adorn every table in those movies. Every one of those movies are the same. Busy female executive or flower/bakery owner or Christmas shop either struggling to find the meaning or has a ton of Christmas spirit, falls for old flame or town bed & breakfast owner, they have a misunderstanding & in the last five minutes of the movie, love prevails once again & they live happily ever after. Instead, my movie life is something from the Sci-Fi network!

Speaking of Christmas, I have toyed with the idea of getting an artificial tree. Now this goes against ever fiber of my being. First of all the chemicals in the making of those trees is ridic, secondly, we like to support farmers & local businesses, & I love the smell of a Frasier Fur. This season is very different from last year. Last year at this time, Jack had lost 25% of his body weight in a few short months, his behavior was out of control, he was not drinking any liquids nor was he getting out of the bed for days at a time even to urinate. Jack didn’t go with us last year to pick out our Christmas tree at Lindsey’s Christmas tree shop since he had no desire to leave his bed (all this was due to the side effects from the medication trial of Epidiolex aka medical marijuana). Jack was reminiscing about last years Christmas a few days ago & said, he couldn’t wait to get some of Lindsey’s hot chocolate like he did last year. This is a kid that doesn’t forget anything, just an example of how messed up he was last year both mentally & physically & the reason why I won’t be getting an artificial tree this season…hot chocolate memories. He gets so excited about Christmas, that just a few years ago at Lindsey’s while we were picking out our tree, he had a seizure. What a life, we are often damned if we do & damned if we don’t.

With the holidays around the corner, remember to be thankful for your many blessings. For some, it’s hard to find the blessings. I know Lee & myself have struggled with this because Jack’s diagnosis is so complex & tiring. This year, my favorite blessings are Coleman relishing his school experience, Ava adoring her junior high school scene immensely, & a few sweet moments with Jack recently. If you become stressed during the holidays over having to run here & there or become snappy because no one helped you in the kitchen or you drop the turkey, remember this…be thankful you don’t have to be in a panic room.

Flat Pepsi

I’m sitting in a waiting room getting my oil changed listening to two ladies talk. Their conversation drifts towards what one does for a living which is a CNA at a hospital ER. This later leads to how many kids are brought into the ER by their parents or grandparents because they could not handle him or her behaviorally any more. This hits me hard, many emotions stirring over their talk. Wanting to interject but too embarrassed, wanting to cry because I’ve been that parent. The non-CNA stated she didn’t know parents could do that. I wanted to say, yes it can/has been done. This was a last result option for us & I pray that it will never occur again. Watching your child thrash about while tied to a bed is a disturbing image. The conversation between the two brought back these flashbacks, making me feel uneasy about the rest of the day with Jack. When I think about Jack’s last outburst, I feel the nervous butterflies appear. The CNA said that one teenager had been at the ER for close to a month because there was no place for him due to the lack of facilities for children. The lady next to her started talking about how some folks in homes were mistreated. This is one small fact that makes our lives & decisions so very difficult. Even though Jack has not had any violent outbursts since December of last year & let me knock on the biggest piece of wood possible-somebody take me to the Redwood National Park in California for that knock, does not mean our lives have been easy. For those that follow my blogs know this is true. I allow some of Jack’s entertainment to be shared, many are just too shameful for me discuss. Jack realistically belongs in a facility. This would be the only fair thing for our family, sadly, due to the circumstances stated by one of the ladies in the waiting room, there are no places for children. Jack is 17, he will not be 18 until August. The disruptions he causes in our household are daily. Unfortunately, Lee & I aren’t getting any younger. We have two other kids that need us, a business that requires A LOT of attention by us both, we would love to have time to enjoy our lives as a whole family unit, & we need a little thing called sleep (which we get very little of). The latter two suffer…tremendously. The ladies in the waiting room did not mean any harm, we all have conversations that bring up good or bad memories and/or emotions that others overhear that’s just part of life, it felt really ironic that this was their conversation. I wanted to burst out in the Alanis Morissette ‘Ironic’ song, but that might of seemed a little Jimmy Fallon-ish. I felt like they were talking about my son. My son who has beat my tail & called me a stupid idiot-all during an outburst.

With all of Jack’s intellectual & health impairments, he is a quick thinker, fast on his feet, & too smart for his own britches with electronics. Sunday night Jack gets his meds at 10pm, this includes a sleeping pill which has been newly increased due to super-late bedtimes. Thankfully, I was blessed to be a night owl-just not past 1:30am. Lee & Ava were peacefully asleep, I closed our bedroom door because Jack was blaring the Wiggles music & singing very loudly in his room. Not able to hold out any longer, I drifted off. Fifteen minutes later, Ava burst through our bedroom door (RoadRunner style) saying Jack was playing music on Coleman’s computer. Coleman & Ava’s room are upstairs, ours & Jack’s is downstairs. The musical savant (Jack) has learned to play music on both Coleman’s smart TV & Coleman’s computer (which looks like a setup from the back of a FBI stake-out van) via Jack’s iPhone while he is downstairs & all this equipment is upstairs. It would take a hard beating & a dozen calls to a teenage savvy kid for me to learn to do that. Ava & Jack are arguing in the hall while I’m trying to be the diplomat because Jack could easily be set off. He was finally convinced to stop playing the music upstairs, however, he did resume the playing downstairs. Multiple times that night & morning Lee & I were awakened. The next was at 3:00am when he was looking for food in the refrigerator. The next was around 5:00 am when I heard him, then when Lee got up to start his day at 6:00am, Jack was finally asleep. The baby monitors I would normally keep in Jack’s room have to be stored in our room now & hidden. He thinks he’s too old for that. There is no shutting off the light & closing his door, it’s like shutting down a warcraft after a bombing. We’ve got to plug in the monitors, turn off all the electronics because that rascal sets timers on everything, clear off his bed that’s full of food he refuses to eat, Power Ranger toys, search for the home phone that he takes in his room everyday (yes, I still have a landline, always will), physically pick him up & place him under the covers, the list is longer than his Santa list! After all was said & done, he got about 5 hours of sleep…us, not so much.

Hang on, the Pepsi part is coming!

Jack fights sleep tooth & nail. He is like the Energizer Bunny, keeps going & going. But he’s like this with everything. He requires elephant strength doses of medication to work. His willpower is amazing. Jack would of made an excellent athlete or a man in a weight loss contest (you know men have super powers when it comes to weight loss that us ladies just can’t seem to do as well)! I have upped his sleeping pill dosage multiple times. A lot of nights it is like nursing a newborn, up every two hours to feed, but in this case, it’s up every two hours to see what sort of mess Jack has created. Because of so much that’s been going on with work, Ava’s volleyball games, my softball games, & at home, this is the first year I didn’t decorate for fall. My helper Coleman is the box lugger from the attic to downstairs & he’s gone. I have not been in any sort of mood to decorate & it’s my favorite time to decorate.

Pepsi is sort of symbolic of my life, our lives here in this house. Pepsi has always been a staple in my life. We have so much in common; we were both born in North Carolina, love red, white, & blue, have seen many changes in our lifetimes-some of theirs not so great (ya know, formula change), the great number of formula changes we have experienced with Jack’s dynamic, Pepsi received its name in August-the same month Jack was gifted his name, & Pepsi went through a financial loss at one time during the Great Depression, we have as well with medical bills (we are still suffering from a ‘Great Depression’🤣). Our similarities are uncanny. I’m told I threw my milk bottle out the window at 10 months of age to trade for a Pepsi, I’ve never drank milk since.

Note: nothing is any worse than a flat Pepsi. I don’t drink a lot of them, only allowing myself 1/2 a can a day if I even have one. But when I do, I think of the cracking of the can, the icy coldness, (canned drinks must be extremely cold to be enjoyed), the burning the fizz creates on the back of your throat, & how very satisfying a Pepsi is with a pack of Nabs. But when I am dead-set on an ice cold Pepsi & it is flat, I feel like my day is ruined. Flat Pepsi is evil, as are Jack’s hobbies & behavior. His daily activities are killing our fizz, wreaking havoc on our sleep. We’s gettin’ old-ish, I ain’t no Cindy Crawford, & our Pepsi is getting flatter.

I am a survivor

I am a survivor, a survivor of the 70’s & 80’s, eras of many horrors that were just plain wrong; big hair, wind suits, brass home furnishings, brown paneling, Home Interior parties, cigarette smoke, Coke changing its formula, Alf, shoulder pads, & so much more. But so many things were right about these eras, too. Riding on the back of a truck, walking around barefoot, making mix tapes of your favorite tunes, shopping for the best hairspray to give your hair maximum height (my fave was Rave), gathering of family & friends & staying up late into the night listening to the adults gossip as they sat around drinking Maxwell House coffee & smoking, hanging out the window of a car hollering at friends, plastic charm necklaces, Scooby Doo, Mama’s Family, jelly shoes, Member’s Only jackets, Swatch watches, talking on a landline phone for hours & prank calling people, who shot JR. I could write on this for hours. I had such a good time growing up even though I can’t remember who shot JR!

What an amazing time for my parents generation. They lived through such an explosion of changes. Daddy didn’t have electricity until he was a young boy, neither Mama or Daddy had a television until their teens, they used party lines to talk-often picking up the phone & to hear other conversations about people in the community. A lot of you reading this have parents who were born in the 40’s or earlier. They worked on the farm or worked for a farmer picking cotton, priming tobacco, pulling watermelons, etc. Look at us now, we are on handheld phones constantly, able to find out any type of information instantly & wouldn’t dare think about going outside barefoot much less going into a field to get vegetables or going out in the backyard to kill a chicken for a meal. Speaking of farms, one of my fondest memories is of Daddy plowing the field & I would walk through the field with the cool sand flowing in between my toes, nothing was any better. Well, let me rephrase that, almost nothing was any better. The best was riding to the store & getting a square of greasy, room temperature hoop cheese & a Pepsi for a treat.

I played outside as a youth, but still our grandparents & parents would say ‘those Ataris have ruined kids, they never go outside any more’. I do suppose when tv came about & later on video games, that’s when the trend began of kids staying indoors. I am a huge fan of playing outdoors just ask Coleman & Ava, I made them play outside all the time & I joined them, but television & video games saved my hide nearly everyday when the kids were growing up & now since Jack often could/can not enjoy outdoor play due to heat or cold (intolerant to both as a result of Dravet). These modern conveniences are absolutely wonderful for a lot of reasons.

Do you remember sitting in front of a box fan & talking into it to hear your voice change? Maybe we were trying to cool off or maybe we were just entertaining ourselves. Many a Saturday evening was spent in front of the box fan shelling peas & watching the Yankees. I looked so forward to the weekends, just not Friday nights-that was cleaning night. Every single Friday night while growing up (and my parents still to this day follow this rule), sheets are washed, floors vacuumed, mopped, bathrooms cleaned, dusting, the works. Saturday’s were the real treat. If we didn’t have to shell peas that evening, we went to town. This town is known as Rockingham, a neighbor to my hometown Ellerbe. 15 minutes from our house, small, but it had Belk & a Western Sizzler! This was when a steakhouse was great. Beef tips with peppers & onions, a piping hot baked potato, & a salad bar. We would hit Belk afterwards, Daddy would stay in the car to people watch & Mama & I would shop. Belk is “the” store all southern women shop. Whether you need an Easter dress, a baby shower gift, a wedding gift, or a new pair of tennis shoes, Belk was/is the place to get all of the above. It was not uncommon to see ladies in Belk or the grocery store with their hair in curlers in preparation for church the next day out shopping! I think of this image all the time. Can you imagine going out in public like that today? You can rest assured your picture would be on Facebook! I remember going to the fish camp & getting my parents packs of cigarettes out of the vending machine or running in the store for a pack of Vantage cigs when I was 6!

Now you can’t even smoke in a restaurant, which is a wonderful thing. I’ve always hated smoke even though I was surrounded by smokers as a kid. The parents smoked, aunts & uncles chained smoked, all my friends parents smoked, the teachers lounge was like a bar scene except the drinks were glass bottle Cokes (with the one exception of a certain teacher) & a thick cloud of smoke wafted through the halls, there was even a smoking section for the students at our local high school. I am thankful I did not get the urge to put a burning ring of fire to my lips!

How I would love to go back to the good old days when times were simpler. I, too, like many teenagers & young adults have become a phone junkie. When Jack started school, I had to keep my phone on me all the time in case of an emergency & the same still holds true, I must keep it on me at all times when I leave the house or even while I’m at home in case he tries to get rowdy. My addiction kicked into full gear when I started staying up late at night last year waiting on Jack to fall asleep. I needed something to stimulate my mind to keep from drifting off from the hours of 12am-sometimes 4am. Reading lulls me to sleep, so I indulged in too much Facebook & Instagram to keep me awake. I learned the hard way that electronics does something kooky to the brain. It is very much like a drug. I find myself checking my messages constantly, checking Facebook & why? It is a fun way to connect with others, I really do love it, but the constant need to be on a phone during downtime is kind of ridiculous. Now while watching my favorite shows like Grey’s Anatomy or one of the Real Housewives, I am also on my phone texting or Facebooking. Forget actually being 100% into the characters, now I’m into 2,900+ friends & their business, plus a tv show. This multi-tasking has been proven not to be healthy for our minds. While I recognize the problem, the question is, will I be able to reduce my screen time. I’m really going to try to. I do a lot of texting to many people; employees about work, updates on what’s at The Berry Patch, my ball team people, I text look-a-like pictures throughout the day to a lot of friends (that’s one of my obsessions as well), I text odd pictures of produce & have friends guess what they look like, I do weird things. Pictured below are sweet potatoes Lee grew that I sent to many people to get their take on what the taters resemble.

This is one of my phone comparison pictures of two celebs, Amy Schumer & Fredrik Eklund:

Could be siblings, right? Coleman & Ava hate me texting them, usually because it’s typically something strange or like the above pictures. You know, teens hate their parents any way, why not give them more ammunition!

I listen to podcasts on my phone to help me not be so consumed by the struggles at home, I am forever taking pictures of various beautiful & odd things, & let’s not forget one of my favorite apps-QVC (highly recommended).

Our phones do so many amazing, wonderful things, however, they can’t create the pleasure felt from interacting with family & friends, our phones can’t go outside & exercise for us, nor does the silent option allow you to experience the joy of complete & utter silence on a lazy Sunday afternoon because your phone is still looming nearby. These are the things a lot of us are missing…as I type this blog on my iPhone-no judgement 🤣. I want to one day write a blog titled “I am a phone survivor”, but don’t think this will be possible with all the cool things this gadget does for me & the diversions my iPhone creates. I will just keep looking for ways to create new fun memories & have proof of them on my phone.

The Paths of Destruction

I am willing to bet a lot of you that follow my blogs think how on earth could I have anything left to write about & probably wonder why I write such things. I have found it fun to write about our lives & so many people ask about Jack & it’s not so easy to explain in a few sentences. Since I’ve already titled one blog “Hurricane Jack”, this one is still in the same realm of hurricanes, mainly the destruction. As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, you are so very fortunate if your mornings start off by spilling your cereal, oversleeping, or starting off your morning without a cup of joe. I wish our morning problems were these troubles instead of the horror (I mainly, some we) are forced to deal with every single morning. Those problems when they occur I know aren’t simple but comparatively they are. The shenanigans Jack pulls on a daily basis is really hard to fathom. He can take something so simple & dissect it quicker than a viper. I’ve always compared him to a viper. When he gets violent, he strikes out of nowhere & swiftly, when talks, he speed-talks, when he walks, he runs. My aunt Sue had a perfect name for the kids when they were trying to show her how to operate an electronic, she’d say, “alright Fasty”! All this is done out of need for him to be the first heard, the loudest, the center of attention, the most annoying, & aggravating. People ask me all the time how Jack is doing. Health-wise, he’s amazing, behavior-wise, he is the most aggravating, annoying human on earth. I really can not imagine another person on this planet being as complex, irritating, & exasperating as he.

I’m going to tell you a little about the two days the past week with Jack. He is currently in a bad sleep cycle, meaning he’s not going to sleep until 2-2:30am every night, sometimes 4am, but wake up time for him is 11am or later. After watching tv for 30 minutes, he’s off & running, faster than the Roadrunner being chased by the Coyote! Someone gave him a Sonic card, a simple, reasonable for Jack. Here lies the problem, nothing is ever simple for Jack. He wouldn’t dare put that card in his wallet & say the next time we are in town, let’s swing by Sonic. Instead, he downloaded the Sonic app, placed an order via the app, & wanted me to go pick up the large sweet tea no ice before I went to The Berry Patch. Now for those of you that don’t know our region, Sonic is 15 minutes from our house. After I explained that I couldn’t go to Sonic before work for a tea, he wanted me to go while Ava was at dance that evening (Thursday night, my most dreaded night of the week). He then wanted to know what time dance was, I knew that if I told him the time, I would be on a time-frame to pickup his meal from them. When I told him I didn’t know, he demanded to know the name of Ava’s dance teacher. With quick thinking (Amy Quick, no pun intended), I made up a name of Betty Boules. Why make up a name you ask? Well, because he went on Facebook, typed in this name & was going to ask her about dance times. Thankfully, there was no one on Facebook with that name! Once 6:30pm rolled around, Jack called me while I was in town & said I had 3 minutes to get to Sonic to get his order. Since I have the word “Uber” tattooed on my body, I went to pick up that blooming large sweet tea no ice for him that he paid for with his gift card however, I had to pay for his two double cheeseburgers & tater tots. I only have $8.56 to go on this card. Lord help me Jesus, how many sweet teas with that buy! While I was picking up his order, the manager came to the window & asked if Jack had placed an order the previous day, not knowing anything about it, I just said probably. She said he called her & wanted a refund because he placed an order & couldn’t come pick it up. Do y’all see the intelligence? If he were not mentally & physically handicapped, this child would be running the world!

On Friday, Jack started with a different kind of chaos. His first 30 minutes of being awake were pretty chill, but when I went outside on the deck to try to read before his sitter got there, all hell broke loose. As I was sitting on the deck, he joins me & has to sit directly on top of me, digging his feet in me, etc. After spotting a hammer left on the deck, he started banging & banging the deck. I was reminded of the song “If I had a Hammer”. I always liked that song, I didn’t think then was a good time to introduce that song to Jack. He may of taken the lyrics too literally. I walked back into the house because I knew he would not stop by me asking, Jack only stops doing something when he wants to. No amount of reasoning works with this child. Once he got bored with the hammer, he flew back inside Roadrunner style with the mop that was left to dry on the deck. He soaks it in water, makes a trail through the house knocking down several things during his cleaning escapade, & finds another task.

Everything out of the ordinary has to be put up in our house & adjustments have to made. It is a lot like preparing your home for a crawling/walking toddler, except this is a 17 year old. I normally keep the tape dispenser in a drawer, but if got left out & Jack was walking by, there would be no more tape left. We’ve had to start giving him paper plates & plastic spoons which I despise because I am a part-time environmentalist 🤣🌲. The reason for this is because he has started banging on the china with the metal utensils & the end result is broken dishes. Now, the mop is going to have to find a new place to dry.

Back to my Friday tale, Jack often calls our local library here in Ellerbe in search of books. Now one would think this was a positive thing, it’s not. He’s so obsessive about calling, worries our poor librarian to death inquiring about books on Australian language, British wars, dinosaurs, Native Americans, the list goes on & on. Many times, they can accommodate his requests, but others they don’t have the material. When I go get the books that our most kind & gracious librarian saves for him, they lie in his room untouched for the duration of checkout, never once cracking them open. It is this way every single time. This is just something else this child to worries with. The poor thing doesn’t ever have any peace in his mind. A thread on a pair of pants will quickly become a hole the size of a fist, a picture being crooked will drive him crazy until it’s fixed, a dead battery in a toy he hasn’t played with in three years deserves the utmost attention, a piece of torn cuticle becomes a bleeding frenzy in a matter of minutes & this is everyday. Everyday his brain is churning around & around in circles 24/7. It does not turn off, not even when he’s sleeping. During sleep he’s talking constantly. I value my time so much right before bed (when Jack is asleep that is). It gives me time to sit in silence & focus on a book or magazine without any noise, well, other than Lee snoring that is. When Jack is up, there is always a path of destruction. Whether the path is destructed physically by him tearing something up, knocking something over, and/or playing & singing music to the top of his lungs at all hours of the night, calling people repeatedly, interrogating me about what year he started watching the Wiggles or who Steve Irwin’s wife was, or invading our family time, the path is an evil one, much like the paths a hurricane takes. The things that go on here in our house are unreal. I’ve said it before, but Adam Sandler needs to be the star of our reality movie, I’m thinking Julie Bowen would be a good fit for me! Now do you see why I compare Jack to the famous children’s book, “If you give a Pig a Pancake”? If you give Jack an iPad might be the title of my children’s book!

One of the highlights of my Jack tales is when I told Ava to go get Jack’s mouse for his computer, she comes back with this:

Now, it’s a mouse no doubt, but it can’t operate a computer! I’ve got to keep laughing & finding ways to laugh or this path is going to harden me terribly more. The best advice I can give anyone that is struggling with a difficult moment in his or her life or dealing with depression, is to find ways to make you laugh. Laughter is the best medicine!

Hurricane Florence Woes

I’ve already named a blog Hurricane Jack, so I was majorly bummed when I couldn’t use that title for this blog. I think most of you who read my blogs are/were affected by Hurricane Florence. For our area, we experienced power outages at home & our business (an ice cream shop for those that aren’t familiar with the world’s largest strawberry), lots of rain, & wind. Being without power at home is no biggie for me, I was raised in the boondocks of Ellerbe. Anytime a storm brewed, our power went out. When Hurricane Hugo came through in 1989, we were out of power for nearly two weeks. Thankfully, Daddy kept us going with the help of a generator. When we knew a hurricane or ice storm was coming, we had to draw water up because they have a well, make sure no clothes were in the dirty clothes basket, get the candles together, flashlights, Daddy would load & unload the generator, gas up the cars, get extra gas for the generators, & so on. Much like many of us did in preparation for Florence. With Florence, we only lost power at our home for 36 hours-that’s great compared to two weeks! During Hugo, I was a teenager & big hair was the rage. The worst part of that hurricane was having to make appearances with flat, lifeless hair! The worst part of Florence was dealing with a computer/iPad junkie named Jack! It was like a coke addict who could not get their next hit. I’ve heard of people talk about their animals acting strange prior to a storm, the same holds true for children & particularly Jack. My aunt who drove a school bus & was a teacher assistant for many years, always said children got wacky when it rained. Turns out she was right! Prior to the hurricane actually hitting when the local channels were going crazy with excitement about the possibility of the hurricane in their viewing area, this made Jack go even more nuts. He couldn’t sit still, needed constant attention, touching me all the time. Jack’s behavior prior to a storm, is very much like an animal sensing something with the weather, he went wacky. Sadly, Friday morning our power went out around 8am & did not get restored until 6:30pm Saturday night. I am not complaining because the power was out, but trying to give perspective on the addict. Jack could not wrap his head around the why we were out of power. He kept flicking the light switches, messing with the router, his computer. Lee had a generator & was able to give him power for his devices but there was no internet. He wallowed around on me & interrogated me about the power. The child even got so desperate, he prayed. Jack never prays. He prayed that the power would please come back on. When night was upon us, he worried me to pieces about the candles I had lit. Wanting to cart them around the house, eventually blowing them all out (he nearly burned down the house once with a candle once-a story for another time), putting the flashlights in our eyes constantly. Gah, we needed a Valium for us & him! Lee’s Aunt Vickie & Uncle Chuck helped us by having Jack over for a few hours since they had power. They were sanity savers!

Lee, my Daddy, & a local friend spent the week prepping for the hurricane. Buying parts for the huge generator to run The Berry Patch. There is so much work involved in farming. A lot of the labor goes into preparing the farm for weather or a weather disaster. Not only did Lee have the farm to worry about, he had to worry about the homemade ice cream in storage. Thursday afternoon, we spend the latter part of the day boarding up the produce stand & boxing up jarred items & things that could potentially fall-which was basically everything . We absolutely could not lose that inventory. The power went off several times at the big strawberry & Lee had to leave & start the generator several tunes. Pictured below is the enormous giant generator used to power The Berry Patch. We are forever thankful for farmer friends & Daddy’s.

As the hurricane continues to pass through our area today, Jack has been much more manageable, but that’s not saying a lot. If I was lying around reading, I was be summoned to his room. If I was walking by, I was called in his room. The hum of the generator was definitely not a pleasant noise, kind of reminded me of being at the State Fair, I just needed a funnel cake, a lemonade, & greasy french fries to complete the scene.

Coleman & Ava stayed with Mama & Daddy since they had power most of the time. Other than damage to our mental states & becoming partially blind from having a flashlight in our eyes at all times, we are thankful for safety, the men & women who provide us with luxuries & then repairing them, our first responders (in which we have needed so often), & caring family & friends. As we all recover from this storm, please remember to support your local businesses. A lot were closed for several days & that hurts the pocketbook, support when you can. Now it’s back to awaiting for Jack’s sleeping pill to kick in & fall asleep to the Golden Girls-I’ve missed those ladies!

The day after…

Jack’s long seizure-free streak was broken last night. He had an almost four month run, this was a record that we have not seen in quite sometime-actually since he was one when he started the ketogenic diet. What attributed to the seizure? Perhaps it was a change in pressure due to the looming hurricane on the east coast, the lowering of a dose in medication, or it was just time for one. The day of a seizure & the day after are rough to the say the least. Last night, Jack had a full-body convulsing seizure around 10:15pm. He typically sleeps for several hours afterwards, but over the last year, he has awoken within thirty minutes of the seizure & this is not a good thing. Jack was awake & roaming the house exactly thirty minutes later. Walking around being even more extra fidgety, pretend sleeping while walking, rolling around on the floor, piling his legs on top of mine. It wasn’t until after midnight that he finally knocked out for the night. His sleep was peaceful, but when the tiger woke up, it was on!

  • 8:15am he begins the day by screaming my name repeatedly for me to pick him out a shirt. Then he wants eggs, turns on the stove & runs back to his bed only to make a jump landing. While the master is awaiting breakfast in bed, he pulls the heavy plantation-style blind down on top of him. When Jack gets restless, the blind cord is his fidget spinner-the cord has literally been cut! Whilst eating his eggs, Jack uses the spoon as a hammer on the side of the bowl, striking the bowl each time with powerful force. Guess what happens next, he breaks the bowl! As I’m trying to get clothes washed & hung out in preparation for the hurricane, Jack will not leave me alone. He’s worse the day after a seizure than his normal days & those are pretty bad. He followed me out to the clothesline to get his wet pants because he wanted a specific pair & was going to wear them wet. After a little convincing, he put them in the dryer. Think of Richard Simmons on LSD, crack, & cocaine all at the same time! Energy through the roof, no satisfaction can be found (I think Mick wrote that song just for Jack), constant pulling & tugging of his clothes, annoying, clingy behavior. The list goes on & on of things he did today. It is enough to make one want to drink a lot of liquor, but I abstain.
  • This is what a seizure does to the brain. It causes all sorts of misfires & simply makes the person feel all out of sorts. We all realize that Jack is not responsible for this behavior, however, it does not make it any easier to deal with when you’re living in those moments of pure & utter terrorization.
  • One of the things I love about Facebook, is the ability to connect with other parents that have kids with Dravet. We can learn so much from one another. I asked a question earlier today regarding the “day after” behavior we see in Jack & one mother messaged me to say she sees the same thing in her son & gave me some suggestions on what to talk to the doctor about prescribing to help curtail this. Dravet kids are so sensitive to medications with each responding in different ways either positively, negatively, or not at all. It’s really trial & error. If only there were a “day after” a seizure pill.
  • It’s now 1am & Jack still isn’t asleep. He’s had his sleeping pill for two hours now, how does this child function with so little sleep? I started writing my blog as I sat outside on the porch this morning hiding from Jack which the date was 9/11. I thought back to 09/11/2001. I was sitting in my recliner nursing Jack in my nightgown, 16 month old Coleman roaming around the house, & me half watching the Today show with Matt Lauer & Katie Couric. How times were so different. Me the mother of two little boys, boys that were sweet & manageable, but feeling terrified at home alone wondering what our nation was facing. On 09/11/2018, around the same time as the first plane crashed into the twin towers, I still sat in my nightgown & felt scared. Scared of the possibilities we face daily with Jack. Times have changed drastically for Matt, Katie, myself & my family. Matt is getting to sleep-in now due to his creepiness, Katie no longer has to get up in the middle of the night by choice, & me, I’m still stuck at home during the Today show hours in my nightgown trying to figure out how to make it through the day without having a nervous breakdown. 09/11/01 & 09/11/18 will be days I always remember what I was wearing, where I was sitting, & what I was feeling at that exact moment.
  • My life is the Kermit the Frog meme that I get a kick out of every time I see it, but it doesn’t only apply to Sunday’s, it applies to every.single.day.!