Monthly Archives: June 2010

Stingrays Sting

In case you have ever wondered…an aptronym is a name aptly suited to its owner. 

Adam got it right when he named the stingray…whether he knew back in the Garden of Eden about aptronyms or not; stingrays sting…and I might add, they can really put a damper on your beach vacation.

Here’s the story:

Last week, I attempted to take the kids to the beach for a little vacation. If you are a parent and reading this…you already know…there is no such thing as a “vacation” with kids…especially at the beach. A friend once wisely noted …”A trip is when you take the kids (you still have all the responsibilities of parenting except you are in a different location; it’s just a change of scenery)….a vacation is when you leave the kids home and go somewhere with your spouse that includes a cabana boy bringing fruity drinks with an umbrella.” … I couldn’t agree more!!!

Anyway, back to the story…I was trying to have a little “trip” to the beach with the kids…

After loading an inordinate amount of “gear” (Boogie boards, buckets, shovels, umbrella, cooler, chairs, etc…) and slathering down each squirming kid with SPF 50 (In the 70’s my parents used baby oil…those were to good ole’ days)…I lugged a big honkin’ wagon filled with said “gear,”  a beach bag and two kids on each arm…for a “short” walk to the beach (my parents’ house is on the marsh side/third row).

Needless to say, by the time I reached the beach and assembled the “gear”… I needed some rest and relaxation.

Nope…

Within moments of drilling and securing my umbrella to the center core of the Earth (I didn’t want it to blow away)….I look up and see Jordan… Actually…I heard her first ( I didn’t look right away because I was hoping it was some other hysterical kid screaming for her Mommy)….Not my luck.  I was “the Mommy” and everyone on the beach knew she was my genetic offspring as well.

I didn’t have on my glasses, but I could tell from her shrieks that something had gone terribly wrong.  Jordan does have a flair for the drama, but I soon realized that blood was shooting out of her foot. She was also yelling quite loudly…”SOMETHING BIT ME!!!”  (not a good beach quote)

Well, there you go… as soon as that announcement was made, there was a mass exodus of folks running out the water and screaming mothers corralling their little ones. It was like a scene from the movie “Jaws.”

Meanwhile, I am trying to ascertain what exactly bit her while making a mental note that we are miles and miles from the nearest hospital.  Okay, the panic button was pushed now! Step 1…get her off the beach to the house (not as easy as it sounds…no one helped me carry a 12-year-old 3 blocks back to the beach house while a terrified Tuck clinged to my tankini that was slowly dipping into a plumber’s fashion statement). Step 2…the house is locked (my parents went to run errands)…no house key = no car keys = no hospital. Step 3…find hidden key (again, not easy because the “hidden key for emergencies” location has changed (you’ve got to be kidding me!!!)… once again not a great scenario in an EMERGENCY). Step 4…get in house and find the first aid kit…leave Tuck to tend to Jordan downstairs…when I return, Tuck has miraculously found latex gloves and looks as if he is about to perform surgery. Jordan is hollering something along the lines of…”Don’t let him touch me!”  in between hyperventilating breaths (sibling distrust exists even in the most dire of circumstances). Step 5…call my parents on their cell phone to get home ASAP ( Thankfully, I upgraded them last week from a “bag phone”…whew, that was a close one!) Step 6…inspect the wound (I’m not a nurse for many reasons…blood has a lot to do with it). Step 7…I notice a blueish-green color with swelling is creeping up Jordan’s foot and shin. Step 8…pray to Jesus (should have done that first, but I was in a panic). Step 9…put ice on the foot (it’s swelling right?!?…remember, I’m not a nurse!!) Step 10….my parents return home, thank you Jesus!! Step 11, Mom and I put Jordan in the car and begin to drive in hopes of finding a doctor. Step 12…go to a “doctor’s care” type facility…carry Jordan in screaming, only to find that ALL the doctor’s have gone to lunch (seriously?!?)….Step 13, reload Jordan and attempt to find a REAL hospital. Step 14…found the ‘real” ER, carry Jordan wailing into the waiting room…everyone stares…nurses meet us in the lobby and whisk Jordan off in a wheel chair…one looks at me and says, “We’ve got it. We know exactly what’s wrong. We heard her in the back”…Step 15…I follow behind them in a daze listening to the nurses talk about how this is the 5th attack this month.  Step 16…learn that Jordan was attacked by a stingray and there is a “stinger” from the barb still in her foot that will need to be removed (Isn’t that what killed the Crocodile Hunter?!?). Step 17…Jordan’s foot is submerged in very “hot” water…she immediately stops yelling (apparently that is the initial treatment for a stingray wound…I used ice, the exact opposite of what she needed…motherhood guilt is setting in quickly). Step 18… they whisk Jordan off to X-ray. Step 19…the nurse comes to me for my insurance information…she sees that we are a military family and asks for my military I.D… I tell her my husband is in Afghanistan and she gives me a sympathetic look that is my breaking point…I launch into a really ugly cry…the cry I’ve been holding in ever since I heard Jordan’s first scream on the beach. It was all too much. Step 20…I dry it up before Jordan returns from X-ray. Step 21…I send Chris a text that we are in the ER with Jordan. Step 22…Chris calls. I hand Jordan the phone. She needs him right now. Chris is in a hospital in Afghanistan with a serious case of food poisoning, but he calls anyway…I love him!!! Step 23…My Mom ran across the street from the hospital to CVS and bought me a rather large bag of dark chocolate (unfortunately, in her haste she picked up the “sugar-free” version that causes diarrhea when eaten in excess…this is just not my day…. but, she did get Jordan some Kit Kats  (my family loves you with food). Step 24…The stinger is out, Jordan is calm and we are free to go with a series of serious antibiotics (severe pain aside, infection is the real kicker in a stingray wound).

Well, I guess you can say that this little family trip was “educational” if not a “get-away” from the ordinary. I’m a big fan of the “teachable” moment, but I really could have done without this experience.

Nonetheless, here’s the top 10 things of what I learned on my “trip” to the beach:

1. Stingrays sting! When you go in the ocean…do” the stingray shuffle” to keep them away or wear snake boots (which would be very attractive with a string bikini)

2. When a stingray strikes….hot water! (not ice, which intensifies the agony…who knew?!?)

3. A tankini does not offer adequate coverage of your backside in a medical emergency that involves 2 children.

4. Despite her petite appearance, Jordan is a very heavy 12-year-old. My new muscles from “boot camp” were helpful. You never know when you might need to dead lift 70 lbs on the fly.

5. No one should leave Tucker unattended with latex gloves and a medical kit. (This can also intensify the agony)

6. Chris Neeley will call us in a pinch…. even when he’s in the hospital himself, violently ill and hasn’t eaten for more than a week. He’s the consummate family man. We love that fella!

7. The kids and I are limiting ourselves to sprinklers and pools for the remainder of this blasted HOT summer.

8. You can eat at least 7 pieces of “sugar-free” dark chocolate candy before any negative side effects occur.

9.  The wagon, all our “gear” and my umbrella attached to the center of the Earth was still intact after several hours on the beach alone. Call me if you need to securely ground an umbrella against high winds, retreating crowds or general mayhem.

10. I need a REAL vacation!!!

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Summer Solstice

I flunked Spanish in college.

Apparently, you cannot communicate effectively reading from a Mexican restaurant menu (which was my textbook) or by repeatedly saying, “Hola!” All I remember from my first semester was my professor shaking his head sadly at me saying, “No, no, no…Juanita.” It was quite a blow to the ego. Typically, I was a good student who knew how to beat the academic system and make a decent grade. Spanish called my bluff.

My college advisor was perplexed. I entered college at the age of 16 with college credit already under my belt. I was the Doogie Houser of school. My parents worried that I might stay in school forever and they weren’t far from the mark…especially with a foreign language requirement and a southern girl who had a thick dialect that forced her to pronounce her best friend’s name (Ann) with 2 syllables (A-unn). My foreign language options were few. A dead language my only viable choice.

I loved Latin. I still do. I like knowing the root of things. I like definitions.

Unfortunately, this year for me is hard to define. I really don’t have a handle on it. I’m way out of my comfort zone and there is so much I don’t understand. I’m just as confused and dumbfounded as I was in Spanish class. Everyone’s speaking, but nothing makes sense.

That’s what summer’s like for me this year. There’s a whirr of sound and activity all around me, but I’m alone and wishing it would end. I never expected it to be so hard. I had this crazy idea that no school and a new routine would be a good change. I couldn’t wait to escape to the beach.  I couldn’t wait to send the kids to camp. I couldn’t wait to…feel different. But I was delusional to believe that I wouldn’t feel Chris’ absence. Going to the beach you are surrounded by families enjoying a vacation. Taking the kids to camp, I’m forced to drive (not my forte), navigate (definitely not my gift), and maintain “peace through strength” by holding a “bad spoon” for any sibling scraps that break out. Even worse, our grill sits silent on my deck, rusting and waiting.

Friday afternoons and the summer were my favorites. They represented freedom, time off…a break.  Now, they only serve as a reminder of what’s missing. I haven’t really known what to do with myself without some of my favorites: Fridays, summer, and of course, Chris.

I look at my watch a lot. I’ve paid close attention to the passage of time, and I certainly didn’t miss that on June 21st, 2010 at 7:28 AM , we celebrated the summer solstice. It’s the longest day and shortest night of the year. Sol + stice derives from a combination of Latin words meaning “sun”  and “to stand still.” Once again, Latin helps me define something.

As everyone moves about in this oppressive heat, I’m standing still and wishing with all my heart that the burnin’ hot sun would move and make this year, this day, this moment go faster.

It’s the longest journey I’ve ever taken. I’m ready to see an end somewhere on the horizon.

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Memorial Day in Pictures

This is a day we salute and remember our veterans for the sacrifices made to preserve our freedom.

 

We are proud and thankful to Americans.

We love and respect our flag.

 

We pray for Chris and all soldiers serving this great country.

And we will never forget. God Bless America.

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