Friday, August 31, 2007

Somewhere Over the Rainbow - TT style

The boys and I went to the Castle today to visit friends and get away from the stresses of the week. After errands to the mall and Cancer Society (best clothes in town!), the boys bought new DS games. On the way home, with the boys deeply invested and involved in their DS adventures, I put on some full-tilt girl music.

As the dramatic version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow hit it's finale with "if blue birds fly...over...the...rain...bow....why....oh, why.........can't.......IIIIIII," TT, in tune and with the same pace and drama sang boldly, "'re not.....a....biiirrrrrddddd."

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Do ERs give frequent flyer miles?

Tuesday night at 9:40 p.m., we headed hurriedly to the ER. Again. Not for a parishoner. For Sony. He was having intense pain on his left side that doubled him over in tears and agony. Rab called our 24-7 nurse helpline and they said to take him to the ER. Rab volunteered to stay home with a very worried Minky (who desperately wanted to go and make sure his brother was ok) and I headed to the next town with a screaming, crying, hurting kid.

The admitting person was getting someone back to room and said she'd be with us in a moment. This was understandable but made me growl internally - here was a kid in obvious distress and the people looking at magazines further back in the nurse's station couldn't assume the check in lady's task? A nurse who was walking out of a room heard Sony and caught my eye. She immediately came over and took Sony back, but I couldn't follow because he had to be checked in. I hate paperwork details - especially when the rules separate me from my child.

A few minutes later, I was able to go back to him. The nurse was absolutely fantastic. She was very patient and caring and attentive. Sony could barely speak and she worked with that reality. Far, far later - much too much later - the doctor finally saw us. I've worked in hospitals and I understand triage but I was not impressed with the pace - even if the nurse had determined we could be at the bottom of the rotation (which I guess is what happened).

Twice while we were waiting, I went to the nurses station only to find the two doctors on staff chatting. Grrr. Once I went out to let them know that Sony's pain was worsening. "Ok, thanks for letting us know," was the doctor's response. But still, nobody came into our room. Then, about 1/2 hour later, I saw our nurse in the hallway, caught her eye and asked her to come see what Sony was doing (he was flinching and involuntarily moving his head). She came in and took a look. Eventually - my guess is that it was 1.5-2 hours after we arrived - the doctor came in.

She literally yelled at him, screaming, "You have got to stop that! I can't hear your heartbeat," and "HOW AM I GOING TO HELP IF YOU WON'T COMMUNICATE!" and "This is just not going to work." When I tried to answer questions, she stuck her hand out and snapped, "I've got this under control, Mom!" Yeah, sure you do lady, that's why you're screaming at my kid. Oh, and by the way, maybe if you tried being kind, my son would not be turning away from you. Just a small hint...She was HORRIBLE! I have never been so unimpressed in my life.

When the nurse came in to see if he'd gone to xray yet, I told her, "You know, I'm normally pretty patient with doctors who don't click with me or my kids, but that woman will not come back in here as long as my son is in this room. Do you have another doctor around right now or should we begin the process of changing to Hospital in the Next Town?" We were quickly transferred to another doctor's case load and suddenly treated very well. It was a bit disgusting how important we'd become when the hospital realized they might lose our business.

Long, long, long story short, we ended up coming home around 2 a.m. after two rounds of blood tests and an xray. Today, we head to Sony's regular doctor to follow up on some of the concerns that were found in the bloodwork. It all looks managable, but I'm seriously considering calling the hospital and lodging a complaint.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Why I can never be an Optimist

This morning, the Jerusalem Optimists invited me to speak and introduce myself. They've been asking me to come to speak at one of their 7 a.m. meetings since I moved here, but motherhood has trumped my morning availability to community groups. Now that Rab is home with the kids, I was available. So at 6:15 a.m. (ugh), my alarm went off and I dragged myself out of bed very unenthusiastically. Even the dog thought it was too early. He actually glared at me with bags under his eyes when I suggested he get out of his kennel and go outside.
I arrived at the meeting and was met warmly (how else would a group of optimists welcome a guest?). They were a lovely group of people exuding enthusiasm and joy. They began their meeting with the Pledge of Allegiance and then the Optimist Creed. I was already pretty sure I couldn't join any group that chose to meet at 7 a.m., but I was reluctantly willing to consider it at least briefly. Yet upon hearing the creed, I was sure I could never join the club.

...To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong
for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.

Call me idealist or a realist or a skeptic or a Lutheran theologian. I'll take any of those labels on. But to think that I can possibly be too large for worry, too noble for anger, etc., etc. is to attempt to live in great denial of life's realities. I'm angry that there are starving people in the world while others dine at the Ritz and I think that's noble. I worry about how my shy 11 year old will adjust to middle school and I think that makes me a large hearted mama. I fear snakes and my 8 year old's future in life, and I am still a strong woman.
It just seemed too Pleasantville for me. Life is not black and white. To live in denial of worry, anger, fear or trouble makes me prone to mental illness not optimism. I understand that these folks are wonderfully engaged in the community and that they make a positive difference in the world. I applaud their efforts, but not their creed. Maybe I'm onto something....or maybe I just need a nap.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Wounded Butterfly

On Navy Pier the other night, as Southern Wisdom and I shared our stories and souls, a butterfly came soaring out of nowhere. I thought it was a bat at first - a deceptive first impression. Then I looked again.

I looked down at my feet and saw a wounded butterfly. It was hobbling around. It could no longer fly. It flapped its wings energetically but helplessly. This formerly vibrant butterfly wouldn't give up. It garnered the attention of the collected people at the cafe tables along the lake - everyone's souls seem to sink as they watched it. Nobody did anything to help it - none of us seemed to be sure how we might be able to help.

I can't get that butterfly out of my mind. And, strangely, the timing of its interruption could not have been more metaphorically fitting to the topic of our conversation.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Is the Weekend Over Yet?

This weekend, Cartoon Network has hosted a million hour marathon of every Naruto episode ever made. The last one just aired. Thank God. That's all that's been on our TVs. Even Rab has been hooked.

Maybe I Should Move to the UCC

During the summer, my UCC colleague and I share the preaching load. From July 4 - Labor Day, we split the Sundays and each preach at both our own and the other's church on our assigned Sundays. It's a great ecumenical experience that saves our churches some money, gives us a nice break and helps the congregations know the pastor who usually provides vacation coverage.

This morning, preaching Luke 12:49-56 was an interesting experience. The sermon, like the text, was more law based than most. The sermon was peppered with my dry humor and musings on reality. My own folks never laughed - a small few may have leaned their head back and shrugged their shoulders in a "I find that funny enough to move but not funny enough to make a noise" kind of way. The UCC congregation cracked up left and right (and they were laughing with me, not at me).

I'm not sure what to make of the experience, but it does cause me to once again (and this time lightly and only in jest) consider whether or not the Lutheran church is the place for me to be serving. Lutheran theology is a given - I love it, breathe it and attempt to live it. Yet, sometimes I cannot help but wonder if that candidacy psychologist was correct when she said, "You're an ENFP?! Lutherans aren't ENFPs?!?!" Can a Lutheran ENFP lead a group of whatever letters Lutherans typically are? I've always thought so, but now I'm clear that the Lutherans may not get ENFP humor and I'm not sure what to make of that. Maybe the UCC is made up of ENFPs.

Friday, August 17, 2007

I feel so cosmopolitan

On the way home today, I acquired an iPass. No more fumbling for change, no more slowing down to wait in line to pay a toll on I-90. What freedom!

It felt great to just cruise on by each of those toll stations without slowing down. Yep, you're right, it doesn't take much to make my day.

I might just need to go to Chicago more often.

A Breeze Blowing from the East

What a great time. What a lovely night. I finally made it to Chicago around 3:15. Southern Wisdom had a meeting in the hotel lobby at 3:30, so I sorted briefcase contents and began this Sunday's sermon in the room (This week's text is a pistol by the way.).

Around 5:00 or so, SW returned and we were free for the night. Heading into downtown, we were faced with surprisingly little traffic. felt good to head to the city, to drive in traffic, to feel again. Home. There's just something about the city that fills me and makes it easier for me to simply breathe and be in the moment. Call me crazy - I know most people experience this away from the big city. For me, though, it's one of two extremes: the beach or the highrises - the two places I can be and feel fully myself.

We arrived downtown and, because I'm both stubborn and cheap, we circled and circled attempting to find a meter or an empty spot. We finally found one after about 20 minutes of Israelite-like driving around and near our destination. The journey to find our spot made the big city experience a full one. During our circling of roughly 8 or so blocks, we saw:

  • two 20-something guys in business suits threaten each other physically for a parking spot
  • a handsome 40-something man with a tight, square jaw and a lime green tie who Southern Wisdom was sure would be a fabulous dinner guest
  • a guy getting arrested while his confused and helpless friends scratched their heads in amazement
  • a bus come within inches of my driver's side mirror as it turned into my lane and the adjacent lane
  • a couple doing what should only be done in private, and
    a near collision as one car attempted to turn left on an orange (not quite yellow anymore) light.
Like I said earlier, there's nothing like the city.

I took Southern Wisdom to Ed Debevic's. She enjoyed it, although I was a bit disappointed in our fairly tame waiter. Near the end of the meal, he made my day when he apologized for something and SW said, "I thought you were all supposed to be ornery around here." He just smiled and I interjected, "I brought her here for a dose of good ole Chicago charm - she's from the South." At which point, he bellowed to the entire restaurant, "Hey y'all...this lady is from the South. Let's all give her a big 'Howdy y'all!!' and the restaurant patrons obliged loudly and enthusiastically. SW promised her revenge would come later. But she's all never did.

After Ed's, we drove up Michigan Avenue so she could at least experience it by sight (most everything was closed by the time we were done at Ed's). It was full of people and activity and was fun to cruise. Oh my...I just realized that my nearly-40 friend and I just cruised as an activity on a Thursday night. We really need to get out more. Anyway, I digress. After our tour of Michigan Avenue, we headed to Navy Pier.

I'd never been to Navy Pier and I'd heard from many folks that it was just a big ole tourist trap. Yes, it's true we paid $16 for parking. It's true that the place was populated by tourists. It's also true that there were a million shops all selling Chicago wares. But so what? There was also a live band playing outside, a bunch of chairs right along the lake inviting us to sit and talk, a perfect 70 or so degree night, and an absolutely amazing view of the Chicago skyline. We sat and talked for hours, sharing our hearts and worries and fears and wonderments. I'm so lucky to have SW, a trustworthy, intuitive and insightful woman, as a friend. We had an absolutely wonderful time on that tourist trap pier and, in retrospect, neither of us would have chosen any other venue for our re-connecting, hours-long conversation. Life is good.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Windy City, Here I Come!

YAY! Tomorrow, Southern Wisdom arrives in Chicago and I get to see her and spend time with her! I can't wait. She arrives at 2pm, so we should be able to hit all kinds of fun spots. I'm thinking of taking her to Ed Debevic's for dinner - so not a Southern type place. She thought it sounded great. We'll probably also hit good ole Michigan Ave. We won't be able to go to my favorite Chicago breakfast haunt, Oak Tree, because she has a meeting at HQ on Friday am. Oh well, we'll still have a great time reconnecting, laughing, and adventuring.

Tonight, Ozzie and Harriett's kids are staying the night. All four kids are in Denver Court level paradise. It's fun to see them all so jubilant and full of excitement. Rab and I had a great time catching up with O & H when they dropped the kids off - we just wish we'd had more time to talk and commiserate. We really need to plan previous-dwellers-of-Denver-Court reunions more often.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Pray for Me

Jerusalem had their town festival this weekend. On our walk downtown (Yep, we're close enough to walk), we stopped at the library book sale. In addition to a bunch of books for Minky, Sony found a new book and Rab found a few too. To round us off to the $1.00 mark (the bargain price was 10 books for a buck), I picked up a copy of Marcia Clark's memoirs of the OJ trial. I'm hooked. I'm embarrassed to admit that I'm having a hard time putting it down. I can't wait to find out how it ends...

Friday, August 10, 2007

Simpsonized Family

Instead of watching the Today Show after the last post, the fam gathered around the computer and Simpsonized ourselves. Nothing like a little Friday morning family bonding. Here are the results:

Day 5 of VBS, 2 sermons and a loaded council agenda

Here in Jerusalem, we've turned country this week. Our VBS theme, Avalanche Ranch, has been littered with bad Southern accents, tons of food, and a bevy of willing and enthusiastic volunteers (if only the Stewardship committee could be so enthused....). 65 kids come through our doors each night - the most Jordan has seen in a long time. It's exciting to see all the frenzy and flurry - especially the frenzy of panicking kitchen staff who exclaimed on Monday, "There are too many kids!!!" I walked through the kitchen just in time to hear that comment and responded with glee, "What a wonderful problem!! Too many kids in the church - I hope that problem never goes away!" My comment was met with confused and bewildered stares.

With a VBS service and an I-hate-children-who-don't-sit-silently-in-worship prayer service this week, I have two very different sermons to prepare on two different texts. As I sat down to write yesterday, I thanked the Holy Spirit as I noticed that the theme of each text is fairly similar: our unpredictible God and the call to live in faith nonetheless. Last week, the sermon was about whether we live in faith or in fear.

Next Monday, we have Church Council. A look at the agenda causes me to wonder if we'll all still be there next Wednesday. There are 16 items for old and new business - all topics that the President and I agree need to be addressed this month.

On the homefront, Rab is fulfilling the role of stay at home dad this month. Minky's meds have been a bit off kilter and we decided that it was worth the financial sacrifice to have Rab home keeping Minky's life stable and predictible. While we still believe this to be true, it's hard when push comes to shove and we find ourselves with mounting bills and down to one car because we can't afford a new tire for the truck. Thank God for a mother-in-law who takes pity on our plight and sent money for a new tire.

We found out yesterday that Minky's beloved psychologist is not on our insurance (we thought he was), so we now owe over $1000 that our "out of network" coverage will not pay and we are on the hunt for a new psychologist. This is just what Minky needs: another transition in his life. I absolutely hate insurance companies and their rules and loopholes. Even with what many would consider great insurance, we have consistently spent between $7,000-$10,000 annually for Minky's uncovered medical care. Such insanity.

So that's what's going on here in Jerusalem. I suppose I should get back to watching the Today Show and sipping coffee on this partial day off. Then I'll need to gear up for the final day of speaking with a corny and probably bad Southern accent.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

I Really Should Be Writing My Sermon

Instead, I'm finding out what I'd look like as a Simpson's character.