Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Somebody's mom isn't in a wheelchair

I remember really clearly the day they told me.

I was sitting in the blue chair in the formal living room. We always had Christmas and family meetings in the formal living room. Other than that, we weren't allowed to sit on the furniture in there.

Usually family meetings meant more chores. But not this one. This one changed our family's reality forever.

They took out her CAT scans, which they have always called her "Halloween pictures," and pointed out the lesions, explaining that a normal brain doesn't have these and that they cause the neurons in her brain to stop communicating correctly with her body.

My brother and I didn't say much. We had never heard of Multiple Sclerosis, and it didn't really occur to us that this was a really serious diagnosis that meant her life would be uncertain forever, something they had probably cried about together and thought really hard about how they would tell their 11 and 14-year old kids.

Our lives went on as normal and we didn't think much about it except for when we were teasing her about her "brain problem," parking in a handicapped spot, or watching her get an injection every other night. We were kids; we didn't really think about the fact that she got tired easier because of the MS, or that the MS was the reason her leg would jerk and accidentally kick us lightly when we laid next to her, that the MS was why we had to get to rest stops fast on road trips when mom had to pee, or that the reason she felt crappy sometimes was because the Betaseron gave her flu-like symptoms.

(The link at the end is from last year - it's 2011 now, not 2010)

Looking back and seeing the miracle of how this newly-developed drug that Mom began taking affected the progress of her MS is really striking. No, we don't actually know what would have happened to her had there not been treatment, but I'm really glad we didn't have to find out.

She has hard days. There is no doubt about that. But it could be worse. With this disease, it could always be worse.

And now, there are eight FDA-approved disease-modifying drugs for the disease. Eight. Plus countless others in the pipeline, being tested and waiting for approval. Drugs that mean new lesions won't develop, that symptoms won't get worse, and that life with MS can be less scary and uncertain.

And soon? I believe they'll come up with that cure we so desperately need.

So this post is really kind of a pep-talk, to myself and to others, that it's all going to be worth it. All the planning and coordinating a currently unsponsored BikeMS team, all the training on a bike when I have no interest in doing so, all the extra hours spent on this when I have no business adding to a full schedule.

It's worth it.

Because somebody's mom isn't in a wheelchair, and may not ever have to be.


(If you'd like to learn more about my BikeMS ride or donate to the National MS Society on my behalf, you can do so here.)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Car washes aren't as sexy when you're mouth-breathing

This post doesn't have a lot to do with car washes. It's just that I washed my car today. And my dad's car. And I can't breathe very well on account of the leprosy. Or whatever it is that I have. A cold? Oh. Well that sounds much less interesting.

At least I'm pretty sure it's also bronchitis.

I'm catching up on The Office on because for some reason our DVR doesn't record it anymore, and rather than figuring out why, I've decided to just watch them online. That's totally easier. Plus, I could take or leave The Office at this point. It's like they just gave up. Except this last episode, "Threat Level Midnight," is all kinds of hilarious.

Anyway, they're putting commercials for on Isn't that a little repetitive redundant?

So, here's the thing. Yoplait light has this red velvet cake yogurt. And ever since that I made that darn Pioneer Woman's red velvet cake for the first time, I have needed red velvet cake all the time. Need. And the yogurt has 100 calories instead of 10,000 and probably no butter or cream cheese or 18 servings either, so I like to keep it in the house.

But here's what I discovered in the snack aisle of shame on a recent grocery trip with Jack (which always turns into one giant QUICK!-throw-the-junk-food-into-the-cart event):

These are friends.

And you know what? They are also 100 calories. Yogurt that kind of tastes like cake? Or cake? So forget you, yogurt. I know you have probiotics and other good things in you, but real cake, you win.

I'm going somewhere with this, really.

So my friend Brittany came into town last Sunday, which was the day before Valentine's day, and because I am slightly crazy I decided to make a red velvet cake at 11pm. Brittany said she had never tried red velvet cake before, so I reached into my pantry and handed her one of these little cakes to try.

A few moments later, she handed it back to me.

"Um, we have a... situation," she squeaked, through clenched teeth, handing the little cake back to me.

"What's wro... oh noooooo," I said, as I saw what she was seeing. "Is it... inside?"

"I think it is," she replied, surprisingly calm considering that she was the friend who had a very hard time eating off a spoon she saw me (gasp) hand wash in college and for whom I extra-specially sanitize the guest room and bathroom when she visits. I call it "Brittany cleaning."

So I would imagine it was difficult for her to remain calm when she discovered this:

Moth larve. In the red velvet cake. Oh my cow, help.

We blamed Little Debbie at first, but upon further inspection, we discovered the larve wasn't actually inside the snack cake, but behind the fold on the outside of the plastic.

Which was bad, very, very bad.

So the next day, I began inspecting my pantry. And to my horror, I found this:

I tweeted this picture to Brittany and she responded "at least now you have something to blog about" and began trying to decide which diseases/superpowers we would get from the moths (like with the mouse).


So I spent the week making my pantry look like this: making my kitchen look like this:

Hold me.

So I got air-tight canisters for all my flour and things, threw out most everything that was open, and all the food I kept has been quarantined all weekend in plastic bins, and I think the moths are gone.

At least until I put everything back into the pantry.

Then they'll be back.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

It's going to be awful

You know that first couple days after your wedding, where you're going along, doing your thing, and then all of the sudden, you're like "Oh yeah, I'm married. Woah." And you kind of giggle when you refer to your spouse as your "husband" for the first few weeks at least? And it's weird, all of the sudden being something totally different than you used to be, and realizing you're never going back to what you were?

It's like that when you buy a business too.

Jack and I will be doing whatever, and all of the sudden he'll look at me and say "We own a karate school." And we both laugh. Because, woah. We own a business. When did that happen?

But it's not really that easy to forget it. Since we're working all the time and all. His dad is here every weekend helping him build something or paint something or tile something for the school (GOD BLESS THAT MAN), and Jack is up until 2 and 3 and 4 in the morning doing accounting or filling out paperwork or whatever, and I am making door signs and websites and banners for the school and HOLY COW WHEN WILL IT ALL END?

Oh yeah, it won't end. Because we are small business owners. And my goodness, we are happy about it. Some of us are happier about it than others at certain times of the evening.

Exhibit A:

This was taken at 1:30 in the morning, after we had painted lumber for three hours in our garage at the end of a 12-hour workday. I could barely stand up. And he? Looked like that. And, like most any other time, was talking about a million words a minute.

"Mandy! Isn't this cool? We own a karate school! Want to help me sort out all these contracts for MY KARATE SCHOOL? Look at the pretty colored folders, Mandy! I'm glad we got all that wood primed! Now we just have to paint it. Won't that be great, Mandy? YAY, LIFE!!!"

It's funny the reactions people have to good news. I don't know what it is that makes them point out the worst possible scenario to whatever situation you're in.

Getting married? MARRIAGE IS A PRISON FROM WHICH YOU CAN ONLY ESCAPE WHEN YOU DIE! DIIIIEEEE!! Also! You'll never have sex again because HA! HAHAHA! Married people hate sex! And you're going to fall out of love as soon as you see his living habits!

Changing jobs? You'll probably be just as unhappy at your next job! All bosses are the same and you'll always have terrible terrible problems and you will never be happy no matter what you do!

Enjoying being married for a few years without children? Why haven't you pro-created yet? WHY? Where are the children? Children are a BLESSING! YOU ARE CLEARLY NOT BLESSED.

Having a baby? They're going to spit up all over you and poop on you and get sick all the time and you will do everything wrong and you'll never sleep again and they will ruin your marriage!!"

I guess I shouldn't be surprised. From what I hear, haters gonna hate.

But for future reference, world, if you're going to warn me about the pitfalls of everything, please also inform me of things like Bulk rename is AWESOME! DOWNLOAD IT IMMEDIATELY!", "You can design your own Chucks!", and "There is a website that automatically removes line breaks for you!" I want to be informed of these things too, you guys.

Anyway, when we announced that we were buying a business, almost everyone we talked to said the same thing.

"You know you're going to be working a lot more, right? Like, all the time. It's going to be awful. You're never going to get any rest."

And we were like "REALLY!? SMALL BUSINESS OWNERSHIP REQUIRES WORK? WE ARE SO GLAD YOU HAVE PREPARED US FOR THIS REALITY THAT WE NEVER ONCE CONSIDERED BEFORE! We thought maybe we would just lay around our house in our underwear while making millions by doing nothing! Never mind. We don't want to do this after all. Hard work? Gross. Thank you so much for showing us the light!"

(For future reference, if you're giving this advice in the future, please also throw in "AND YOUR HOUSE WILL BE A DISASTER ALL THE TIME ALL THE TIME ALL THE TIME!" too. Because, it will.)

But seriously, thanks for the advice, but this wasn't surprising to us. Hard work is part of the deal with business ownership, but was that supposed to stop us?

Yes, we are tired. Exhausted, actually. But there is hope in sight - hope for a new routine, hope for a finished permanent space, and hope to pay off the school in a few years in preparation for the life we want. And guess what! Jack wrote himself his first paycheck yesterday. To Jack Hornbuckle. Signed, Jack Hornbuckle.


And this guy? Who has dreamed of this kind of terrible, horrible, awful, hard work since he was 12 years old?

He doesn't mind the hard work one bit. In fact, he's more than a little excited about it.

Go figure. With a great attitude like his, it's not quite so awful after all.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Will you Ree my Valentine?

Alternately titled: "SQUEE rhymes with REE."

So, Ree Drummund came to Dallas today.

The Pioneer Woman.

The one with all the butter?

And the love in the cooking?

And the photos? And the cows? And the JOY AND THE HAPPINESS?

She came to Dallas.

So my friend Jeri and I left work at 4:30. And 5 hours later, this photo was taken:

Alternately titled: TOTALLY WORTH A 5-HOUR LINE.

Alternately alternately titled: SHE IS SO RIDICULOUSLY PRETTY AND NICE.

And! I saw her husband! And! The kids! Were hanging around right next to me while we were waiting! And! I would have talked to them! If I knew anything about how to interact with children!

I told her my husband thanks her for teaching me how to cook. She asked me how I knew Sara (for whom she was signing a book), whether she was doing okay, and how I knew her.

And then I melted into a tiny puddle on the floor and disappeared, a la wicked witch of the west. Because my life was complete having had a conversation with the Pioneer Woman.

A really, really dorky conversation. Exhibit A:

(Obviously, I had my friend take this video for Sara. That's why I said "Hello Sara" in an English accent. I don't know why I do the English accent with her, but I do it every time. You can ask her. I've never sent her a video without a British "HELLO SARA!" at the beginning. THERE IS SOMETHING WRONG WITH ME.)

Notice the awkward stance and nervous, stammer-y responses to everything she says. Am giant dork around giant girl-crush authors, evidently.

And something? Is wrong with my hands. I do a strange thing with them when nervous, evidently. Exhibit B:

I told Sara that I think I may have been holding one of my hands so the other one didn't start stroking Ree's hair. It was a real possibility, I think.

And I have a feeling that hair-stroking may have lessened my chances at becoming best friends with her.

But don't worry. There was no hair-stroking.

So I'm pretty sure we can still be best friends.

Friday, February 4, 2011

It's about time

Unfortunately, I am no longer ahead of the game for next Fall. Upside: polka dots!

This kit is called "This Moment" by Creations by Rachael

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Small business ownership: Day One

This morning, I had already gotten emails about work and all the school districts around here being closed due to the inclement weather (read: SHEETS OF ICE ON THE ROAD AND TEXANS CAN'T DRIVE AHHHH!)

Jack stared out the window wistfully.

"But... it's my first day," he whimpered, "I don't want to close the school."

Unfortunately, his desire to keep himself, his staff, and his students alive outweighed his desire to have a first day open today. So he closed the school.

But if every day of small business ownership turns out to be like this?

We're going to end up being really relaxed.

Poor, but really, really relaxed.