The Chicken versus The Wasps

I woke this morning feeling fragile. I took a new medication last night to help with my pain. I broke consciousness, and found that I was experiencing several common side effects of the drug--nausea, drowsiness, dizziness, blurred vision, headache and dry mouth. That list would normally dissuade me from any medication, but the pill was doing its job. I could point out the places on my body where I should have been feeling pain, but I either did not feel it or it was very dull. I may have almost puked bile into my dirty toilet this morning, but it was worth it.

I took phenergan (gel) to help me eat a little rice cereal for breakfast. I napped in the recliner while Sara took her morning snooze and Micah watched a Baby Einstein DVD. (Feel free to judge if you must, but take my advice--when judging, proceed with caution.) The gel and nap helped a little, but they did not eliminate my problems. As I folded laundry in the utility room, I prayed for help--

"Lord, today I am set up for failure. I feel miserable, but better pain-wise, which means I'll be tempted to overdo. I'm nauseated. My head is spinning. I have a weird headache. It's almost certain that I'll do something I regret like raising my voice at the children or making a selfish choice. I confess my weaknesses to you. All of them--those of my mind, body and spirit. I boast in those weaknesses so the power of Christ will rest on me. When I am weak, I can be strong in you. Help me today to abide in you, so you can abide in me."

I read my Bible, fed the children a snack, and finally noticed the beauty of the day. We have a tropical storm creeping in our direction, and the days before us will remain beautiful, but in a grey, windy and very wet kind of way. Today is beautiful in a bright, happy, and very hot kind of way. Micah asked to go outside and swing. I agreed.

As I dressed the kids for outdoor play, I chose a hat for Sara. Naturally, Micah had to have a hat, as well. He searched his drawer, but could not find the hat he wanted. I told him that I knew where the desired hat was located and that I would retrieve it for him as soon as I had him dressed. Protruding his bottom lip, he complained, "But . . . . I want it now." He continued to search for his hat, begrudgingly willing to settle for any hat that would fit.

I stopped him, saying, "Micah, I know exactly where the hat you want is hiding. I will get it for you in just a moment, but for now you must trust me." On a Spirit-led whim, I added, "It's kind of like trusting God. He tells us that He is real and that He loves us, but we can't see Him. We just have to believe that He is real and that He loves us, and know that one day we will see Him because He promises that we will. Will you trust me, Micah?"

He gave a mournful nod. I smiled. "Good."

I dressed him, then asked, "What am I about to do?"

He grinned. "Find my hat."

"Yes," I affirmed. "Follow me." And I took him to his hat, which was wedged between two pieces of furniture on the floor of my bedroom.

We then ventured outside. I carried Sara, thanking Jesus for allowing me to do so painlessly. We headed for the swing set. Before setting Sara in her swing, I thought to check for wasps. I knew from experience that they like to build nests in the hollow underside of infant swings. I gave the swing a gentle bump, and an orange wasp flew out. A miracle--I managed to choke back a scream.

Before I progress, I must make a confession--wasps frighten me more than just about anything. I am afraid of many things--spiders, heights, needles, snakes, latex gloves and horror movies, to name a few. However, I think I would rather sleep with a spider, jump out of a perfectly good plane, submit myself to full-body acupuncture, be bitten by a poisonous snake, be in a room full of doctors simultaneously snapping on latex gloves and attend a horror movie festival, all in one day, than take on a wasp.

I am disproportionally afraid of wasps because I perceive them to be life-threatening. I have very little data upon which to base my hypothesis--only that I was stung once as a young child and therefore could have antibodies built up against the venom and that my body is known to be ridiculously allergic to the world in general. In my mind, if I get stung by a wasp, I'm dead, and my death will be quick . . . . too quick for a run back into the house for Epi Pens. And then my children are left only-the-Lord-knows-where with a dead mother and no idea what to do. I cannot imagine anything worse, and imagining worse case scenarios is a particular talent of mine.

Earlier this year, my fear took me over. I could not enjoy being outside because I was always on the lookout for wasps, as if I expected them to fly out of nowhere and attack me. (Feel free to laugh. I am admittedly ridiculous.) A couple of times, this actually happened, but being the chicken I am, instead of swatting them away, I flapped about in true poultry fashion, turned toward the house and ran for it. To my credit, I had the children in tow. One afternoon in April or May, I had taken a can of wasp spray outside just in case it was needed. This is so embarrassing to admit, but that day I came dangerously close to spraying the kids while aiming for a passing wasp. After that, I told myself that I was no longer allowed to carry wasp spray. My fear made me wild and irrational and likely to do more damage than good.

Today, when the wasp flew out, I told Micah to run, and I jogged with Sara to a safe distance. I watched the wasp. He was angry, but unlikely to attack us where we stood. I tried to see if we were dealing with a nest. Micah has learned my fear, so I distracted him with a patch of mushrooms that desperately needed to be kicked over while I checked the back of the swing from a safe distance. I couldn't see a nest, but the swing had many blind spots. Deciding that swinging was an unsafe activity, I told Micah that he would have to be happy with a walk up and down the driveway.

As we walked, I told him that wasps weren't really bad and that God has a plan and a purpose for wasps, too. They are only dangerous if we get close to their houses. That is why we can't swing . . . . because there might be a wasp house in the swing. He absorbed my lesson quietly.

After a few moments of silence, I decided to change the subject. I reminded him of the Bible verse I have been teaching him to help him with his anxiety--"When I am afraid, I will trust in God." I told him that it is okay to be afraid for a moment, but that we must trust God to keep us safe and give our fears to Him. I told Him that God does not promise to never let bad things happen, but that He promises to take those bad things and turn them into good things . . . . . so bad things like bo-bos and sad things and wasps can become good things if we trust in God.

He listened quietly. When he was sure I had finished flapping my jaws, he said softly, "Momma? I wanna swing."

Here I was, spouting platitudes about fear and trust, and I was so afraid of the wasps that we were going to neglect the main thing we had come outside to do. In that moment, I realized that I could tell Micah all day long about trusting God and he would never get it, but I had before me a unique opportunity to show him which is far more powerful. I prayed silently for courage and a plan.

Once I had decided upon a course of action, I told Micah, "Micah, Mommy is going to trust God to keep her safe. I'm going to kill the wasps so we can swing, but I want you and Sara to stay under the carport. I will come get you when it's safe."

His pleased grin exposed his dimple. "Okay, Momma."

I went inside to do what I had told myself I would never do again. I grabbed the wasp spray for offense and my new Shutterfly book for defense. Reminding Micah to stay put, I walked around the corner, and located my targets. One wasp perched on the side of Micah's fort. The other swirled around the perimeter of the swing set. I took a deep breath to steady my shaking limbs. I took aim at the stationary target first. My aim was true. He fled to the forest, mortally wounded. The swirling wasp flew in my direction. With the speed and precision of a fearless warrior, I shot him out of the sky. And again when he hit the ground. And again when he tried to get up.

When I was sure the first two were no longer a threat, I gave the swing a kick, ready for another wasp to make my day with its demise. Nothing flew out. I kicked again, harder this time. Nothing. I was almost disappointed. Almost.

I had taken on not one but two wasps! Nothing but Micah's need to see my faith in action could have given me the incentive. Nothing but the Lord Himself could have given me the courage. It may not sound like a big deal to you, but through today's victory, God proved to me that He had delivered me from the fear that had threatened to eat me alive. The primal rush of adrenaline in the moment of perceived danger is more than just a habit. It's human instinct. My chicken dance is second nature to me. The only explanation for today's success is that God answered my prayer. He helped me to abide with Him, and He was faithful to abide with me.

I listened to Him as He prompted me to teach Micah about fear and trust in word. I obeyed Him when He prompted me to teach Micah about fear and trust in deed. This was so not my victory . . . . not really . . . . even though God definitely allowed me to share in it. I was drowsy, dizzy, nauseated, blurry eyed, cotton-mouthed and pee-in-your-pants afraid. In my flesh, I would have excused myself from obedience--"I'm in no shape to fight a wasp today. I can't even see straight. We can swing another day." Without trust, my attempt would have failed, I would have gotten stung and Micah would have learned the wrong lesson. Thankfully, I had already made up my mind to obey God during my prayer time that morning. His command was not a welcome one. Who wants to act out a memory verse by facing the thing she fears the most? But I received my reward--
two smiling red-heads . . . . . 
and a lesson Micah won't soon forget. 

Mini Me

Micah will be 7 months old on Saturday. He is physically impressive with his thunder thighs, faux biceps, tubby little tummy, box feet, cherub hands and perfect face all capped with an ever-growing shock of curly, red hair. He looks larger than many year olds that I have seen, coming in at a little over 19 pounds. He's getting to be such a big boy, and every day seems to go by faster and faster. Time is running away from me at a break neck pace and I'm too slow, flabby and out of shape to keep up! As these sweet days pass before my eyes, I fall deeper into a melancholy state somewhere close to the midpoint of bitter and sweet. Bitter because I have put away almost all of the cute clothing that loved ones purchased just for him when he was little more than a clump of cells and a great plan that only the heavenly Father was privy to. And sweet because his personality is developing even faster than his body.

His many facial expressions are beginning to mean something to me. His cries carry greater nuances than they once did. I am beginning to decipher some of the meaning behind his sweet babbling. He is revealing preferences, fears and expectations I did not know he had. For instance, he clearly prefers his jumper to his swing and avocado to squash. He is horribly afraid of loud noises such as the vacuum cleaner, the blender and the coffee grinder. He expects me to react in some way to his cries. Like his mommy, he hates to be ignored worse than anything in the world. He hates it worse than being lonely or being in the same room while I'm vacuuming. When he hollers, I better get my behind in gear or he will let me know about it! If he cries from hunger, he better see me rearranging my clothing or preparing a bottle. If he cries from boredom, I better pick him up or lie down with him and start a game. If he cries from tiredness, he better be equipped with a paci and a pair of arms that will cradle, pat and gently tickle him until he falls asleep. Speaking of sleep, Micah still isn't much of a sleeper. If I'm lucky, he'll sleep a total of 10 hours or so at night, but not all at once. Two in the morning is party time! He'll nap a little during the day. If he's napping exceptionally, I may get a couple of hour naps out of him. But that's exceptional napping. Thankfully, the amount of sleep he gets shows no correlation with his mood. He smiles at everyone, and only fusses in displeasure. As so little in life displeases him, he's not much of a fusser. Last weekend, he was coming down with an ear infection. We were up all night Thursday trying to get him comfortable. Comfort just wasn't happening for him, so I started playing a game he seems to like in which I bounce him up and down in a steady rhythm, and say "boobidy, boobidy, boobidy boo!" He began laughing out loud! The child was sleepy, uncomfortable and very upset, but he began laughing out loud!(Granted, I used a form of the word "boob," and like any man, anything containing the word "boob" probably has the power to relieve his troubles.)But hey, learning to laugh in the midst of less than perfect circumstances is an advanced skill, AND it's a piece of advice I gave him in his six month letter posted on August 19th--

"7) Find humor in everything, especially the crappy parts of life. It’s there; I promise, and it will lighten your load when times get tough."

He not only has a great sense of humor, but he's a quick learner!

I've been telling my mother about Micah's attributes bit by bit, and all along she's been saying, "You have yourself made over." I didn't really believe her until three things happened.

1) He began suffering from allergies. If the child is a copy of myself, he will be allergic.

2) He screamed at me. I mentioned earlier that he doesn't enjoy loneliness, but hates to be ignored even more. Well, he occasionally has to suffer one or two of these states. I mean, I have to shower every now and then! One day, I set him in his walker in the bathroom, left the door open so he wouldn't get too hot, and left the shower curtain open as much as I could so he could see me. I started to shower, and he started to cry. Talking to him didn't work. Dancing didn't work. Singing didn't work. Nothing worked, so I just tried to complete the shower as quickly as I could. It wasn't quickly enough for him. He stopped crying for a brief moment. I looked at him, and smiled. I was about to say, "See, it's not so bad, Angel Face." Well, my little Angel Face didn't let me get it out. My little Angel Face, stormed over, turned beet red and furrowed at the brow. He raised his arms at me to make himself unquestioningly clear. Then, the shrillest sound to come out of my sweet child thus far--"Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" Then, more crying. That was the first time he had ever screamed at me. I was doing something other than what he wanted to do, and the little bugger SCREAMED at me. That was the moment of revelation--this child is mine; he will have a strong will; he will be stubborn; he will throw temper tantrums when he doesn't get his way; I'm bloody in for it. And oh. If he inherits my gift for debate, I'm really in for it.

3) This fit lasted for some time. I had to get a quick bite to eat before students began coming in, so I sat him in the big arm chair that he sinks into so deep, he can't do much but squirm until he's nearly upside down. I got a quick lunch together, then came to check on him. This is what I found--

It's hard to see on the page, but his hair is sticking STRAIGHT up.

Not so different from this--

Maybe anger, like humidity, poofs your hair . . .

Anyway, the world better watch out--there's another one of me coming its way soon.

Cease from Anger and Do Good

When you have a positive experience of any kind, there is an inevitability that something or someone will come along to ruin it for you, usually sooner than later. This is especially true if the positive experience was spiritual. Every time I have an encounter with God, that encounter is challenged. Maybe this is good for us, the way things should be. I mean, how do you know what you felt was real unless you are tested? But, oh man! Sometimes the test can be a real pain in the butt!

This past weekend, I had the privilege of attending the Beth Moore simulcast with a precious friend from church. I must be honest--when I agreed to go, I agreed for the same reason I might consent to eat cabbage--I know it's good for me even if I gag a little as it goes down. I know this isn't a healthy view of events such as these. That's not the point. I went. I learned. I changed. I have never been so happy to have my presumptions and prejudices proven wrong in my entire life. I gloried in my wrongness. I learned so much last weekend, but the lesson that has lingered most clearly in my mind was not taught in Beth Moore's absurdly large classroom. It was taught in a one on one tutoring session with God . . .


Last week, I spent several hours preparing a studio policy for my piano and voice students. It was good. It was close to fool proof. I felt secure that no one could take advantage of me after signing this bad mamma jamma. Thursday night, I had a meeting at my house for my students and their parents. The policy was signed by everyone, and I even had one family pay, which I was super excited about as I had in my policy in THREE separate places that all monies paid were NONREFUNDABLE. I already had $60, and I hadn't even taught lesson number one! Yay! Surely this family was serious! Surely they would be excellent clients! I said goodbye to everyone, excited about what possibilities laid in store for my new students. That was prior to my weekend with Beth Moore.

*Back to the tutoring session with God*

Less than 24 hours after the completion of the simulcast, a test literally came knocking on my door. Brandon and I had to teach children's church Sunday morning, and we were cutting it close with the time. I had just finished blow-drying my hair, hadn't yet put on my make-up and was not yet completely dressed. The doorbell rang. I looked at him and asked incredulously, "Who is ringing our doorbell on Sunday morning?" He shrugged, and answered the door while I began to flatiron my hair.

I heard someone ask to see me, but I knew my man would take care of it and send them away so we could make it on time for church. He said, "She's getting ready for church right now," and he began closing the door. The woman stepped over the threshold, ignoring my husband. I side-stepped out of the bathroom into the hall so I could see who this impertinent person was, and realized that I had never seen her in my life. I thought to myself, "Who does this stranger think she is? She's going to make me late, and people are depending on me."

"Ms. Keaster?" the woman asked. As she was over twice my age, I knew this little visit was most likely in reference to my studio. With as much dignity as one could muster when they look worse than they would if they had just rolled out of bed, I answered, "Yes."

She introduced herself as one of my student's grandparents, and told me that her grandchild would not be able to take lessons this year. I asked if anything was wrong because I liked this particular child a good bit and had enjoyed teaching her during the month of July. The woman said that the child was fine, that she was going through "some life changes," which I thought was unreasonably vague. Naturally, this student was the one who had already paid for the month, and naturally, the woman asked for the money back. She was not the guardian that had accompanied my student on Thursday night, so I told her that I had gone over the policy the night that I was paid, and according to my policy, all monies paid are nonrefundable. I also said that I would think about it and get back to her, but I couldn't do anything about it at the moment. I was late for church. She then returns with, "As it wasn't due until her first lesson, I figured we could get the money back." She exited my home with a huff. Had her tone not been abrasive, I still would have been considerably more than irritated for the following reasons. One, I had spent a good amount of time on that policy, thank you very much. Two, I had basically read it to everyone and forced them to sign it before leaving the meeting on Thursday night. Three, she did not call to give me any warning about this visit. Four, she picks SUNDAY FREAKING MORNING to pull this little stunt. Finally, she didn't have to take that tone with me as she left. She bombarded me, while looking gosh-awful mind you, and I told her I would think about it . . . AGAINST MY POL-I-CY.

I'll be honest again. I didn't even fight to keep my temper in check. I began ranting to my husband at the top of my lungs, completely put out--We were late! She made me late! She came into my house without permission! She demanded money that was no longer hers! She got snippety on her way out! I ranted as we ran out the door. I ranted as we began driving down the road. I called someone at church to let them know we would be late. I also asked this dear one to say a prayer for me because I knew that I was in no shape to teach little kiddies about the Lord at that point. I hung up, and ranted some more.

About the time we left the town of Farmerville, words from Psalm 37, the passage we had studied only the day before, came to my mind like a slap to the face. It was as if the Lord said, "Melissa! Get a grip!" The words were "cease from your anger and forsake wrath," and "trust in Me, and do good." I stopped ranting for a moment, and chewed on that thought. I knew what I would do. I would do good. I would give the woman her money back. I knew that was what God was telling me to do, and I would do it. But I could still be mad about it, right? WRONG!!!! "Cease from anger," He whispered again, "forsake wrath." And then I was given a gift . . .

an image . . . a mental picture of what I must have looked like to that woman when she came through my door. And I'm passing this gift on to you because you won't fully understand why I did what I did next unless you see it for yourself. Understand that with this particular hair cut I look like this after flatironing my hair. This is how the public at large sees me on a day to day basis--

So, against the desires of my ego and self-respect, here is what I looked like when she saw me last Sunday morning--

Or better yet, scary hair with my "angry" face.

And that, my friends, is why Brandon and I laughed our heads off all the way to church, and were more than ready to teach our little kiddies when we arrived. And that, my friends, is how I forsook wrath, and took pleasure in doing some good.


Those who have known me for a few years have keyed into this very important fact about me—I am a flippin’ klutz. I may not be the most accident prone person you have ever met, but I should rank in the top three. I have lost count of the concussions, x-rays, CAT scans, sprains, strains and plethora of other injuries to my person because there have been simply too many to remember. I was the girl who was in a walking cast for her first prom because she fell down a flight of stairs. I was also the girl who almost broke her wrist opening a door. Speaking of doors, have you ever opened a car door, and managed to clock yourself in the eye? I have. Twice.

As I’m in pain and unable to do much from my most recent graceless escapade, I decided that I should recount some of my most impressive ungainly feats.

I’ll start with my first concussion, which is only somewhat impressive as I was playing national league basketball with female giants from Dallas (they grow ‘em big out in Texas), who were supposedly in the 11-14 age bracket. The girl I was guarding shot, and I went in for the rebound before I remembered that my coach would chew me out for not blocking out. I backed up to block out, and somehow my feet ended up over my head. The next thing I knew, I had about five worried adults leaning over me, and the ambulance was on its way. But hey, I got the only standing ovation of my basketball career that night, even if it was as I was carried out by the paramedics.

Over the course of a few years, I banged my head on cabinets, refrigerators, car roofs, doorways, walls, and the ground without worrying too much because I learned from my first head injury that I have unnaturally strong bones. My neck and back would be sore for a few days, then I would be free to go about my business as usual. That was until the incident in the dressing room.

I was shopping for a swimsuit at the Pecanland Mall, and like every other body-conscious female, I was determined to find the most flattering one. I went all over the mall, so I don’t remember the exact store in which I executed the most monumental moment of klutziness of my life. I had what I believed was “THE ONE” in hand as I traipsed off to dressing room. I put it on, and found myself a little disappointed with the effect. I was impatiently taking off the bottom piece when I lost my balance, fell over to the side, banged my temple on the clothes hanger thingy, and lost consciousness for what I guess was a few seconds. I came to, head throbbing, dizzy and annoyed that the swimsuit responsible wasn’t even worth purchasing. Imagine my embarrassment when I had to explain what had happened to my mother, my doctor, my radiologist, my nurse and my friends when I missed the blasted pool party.

After marrying Brandon, my inner klutz went into hibernation for awhile. I thought I was safe, that maybe I had grown out of it. I was wrong. Dad had an operation awhile back at St. Francis Hospital, so Brandon and I went to visit him on a rainy day. Mom chose to walk out with us to the parking garage for some reason or other. Knowing that she liked the take the stairs when she could, I headed that way. I did not make even a full step before the condensation and the slick underside of my shoe did me in. My foot slipped out from under me, I flew halfway down the stairs, which would have been fun had I not landed on my (you guessed it) head. I managed not to succumb to the dark, painless bliss of unconsciousness, so I heard the shrill voice that shouted, “Oh my Gawd!” from several feet away. A nurse who was trying to head home couldn’t pass up the opportunity to care for one more patient. She called the EMTs despite my earnest pleas that I didn’t require medical assistance, that I have the hardest head in the universe and that I would be just fine. Anyone other than me would have sung her praises, given her a plaque, and offered to buy her dinner. I was just disgusted. And horribly embarrassed. No less than two EMTs greeted me with a wheelchair in which I was required to ride as I was wheeled back into the hospital, right into the ER. Naturally, the ER doctor stated his belief that I had a concussion, prescribed me some pain medication and recommended I take it easy for a few days. I didn’t tell him that I probably had pain medication left over from my last injury, and that I was well-aware of the recuperation procedures by now. When the hospital tried to bill me for this ER visit a few weeks later, I laughed, refused to pay it and hinted to hospital billing that they didn’t want to press the issue.

While I could recount several other injury stories, I choose to close with my most recent one. Monday evening, I had the task of folding two weeks worth of clean laundry. The towels and washcloths had formed a mountain in the laundry basket, and several strays has tumbled over the side. I bent to pick up what I had fallen to the floor. Believing that I was clear of the cabinet overhead, I stood with a good bit of force, and found myself right back down on the floor. I swore. I couldn’t help it. Pain and surprise do that to me. I stood up, dizzy and seeing black spots dancing in my line of vision. I went back to folding clothes. A few minutes later, I was horribly nauseous, and I had quite the knot forming on the crown of my head. Yesterday, I awoke with pain from the top of my head to my lower back. Today, I am barely moving. So I had to explain myself to my husband, my mother and the parents of the piano students I was supposed to teach today, who are probably all thinking as I am, “WHO gets whiplash from a CABINET??” As if my humiliation was incomplete, my husband’s response to whole ordeal was this little condescending stinger--"While we’re baby-proofing the house, I need to goofy-proof it too.”

Tummy Time Adventures

Friday before last, Micah began creeping. He did it again the next day. But the week after that, he pivoted a little on his tummy, and hasn't shown much more interest in mobility (which is kind of fine with me). It wasn't for a lack of trying though. After the doctor ordered us to give Micah more tummy time to help round out the flat spot on the back of his wee head, I put him on his tummy everyday as often as he would allow. I now invite you to witness our Friday adventure.

Here is Exhibit A. He had spat up on his other quilt, and this one was too thin to cushion his head by itself if he rolled over. I folded it, but then he couldn't find the traction he needed to actual move from point A to any point B.

Here is Exhibit B. Since he had so much trouble, I put him on the hard (but mostly clean) floor. I didn't anticipate his tummy sticking to the floor as it did. I suppose I kind of worked against him there. Daisy decided she wanted to play too. So, she offered her toy to Micah, expecting him to throw it.

Finally, Exhibit C. When he didn't throw her toy, she decided to get his attention first by barking. That didn't work. So she tried nuzzling him. That didn't work. So then she tried to get his attention as she would mine. I didn't like this too much. I liked it even less when Brandon told me that she apparently does this all the time.

All in all, Daisy and Micah have a pretty good relationship. I'll let them play more when I'm not so afraid she will hurt him by accident.

The Deadly Attributes of Chow Mein Noodles

 Vietnamese Chow Mein
Original image via Flickr Creative Commons courtesy of Herman Saksono

A couple of weeks ago, I posted a fun, lighthearted account of my discovery of three grave plots available to me.  Though I've only used a little over 1/4 of my measuring cup of life, it was my plan to get right on the task of choosing one of those plots.  As I pointed out, " assume one as puny as I will live to be 100 is humorously presumptuous. I mean, it's quite possible that I will happen upon a doughnut-throwing contest, open-mouthed, and meet a glutenous doom well before my time."

Well, on Thursday night, I did almost meet a glutenous doom. But not via a tasty doughnut. Oh no. I nearly met my end by way of the rather bland, but potent chow mein noodle. Made of little more than fried wheat, chow mein noodles are basically small strands of death. They come in various guises, but in this instance, the little buggers were masked behind the friendly title of "chicken salad."

Allow me to set the stage. About three times a year, I am invited to a small, Union Parish Baptist church to sing at their monthly singing service. A potluck dinner inevitably follows. (It is a Baptist church, after all.)

I hesitantly began searching for something to eat that wouldn't do too much damage, and finally spotted something with a seeming bit of promise. I asked the lady standing behind it what it was. "Chicken salad." Now, the only thing I've ever had to watch out for in chicken salad is the occasional tree nut. I gave the stuff a quick glance, and decided it was harmless enough.

I sat down with my scoop of chicken salad and took a bite. My first thought was something along the lines of, "Bleh! This is the worst chicken salad I've ever tasted. Oh, well." I took a second bite, thinking, "This tastes so strange." The third bite was halfway to my mouth when an all too familiar sensation began in my lips and on my skin.

I excused myself to retrieve Benadryl from my diaper bag. I took two, then returned. I was feeling very annoyed at this point because I knew I would be ill for days over the worst chicken salad I had yet encountered. I sat back down. My grandmother and her friend looked at my skin and freaked out a little. I had a nice rash forming. I started digging through the chicken salad in an attempt to identify the culprit. Finally, I happened upon tiny noodles that had been chopped and softened by the juices in the salad. I was livid.

"Who puts noodles in chicken salad?" I whispered to my Nona.

She shook her head. "I don't know, but it's not even good." So it wasn't just me.

After a couple more minutes passed, I realized I wasn't feeling better but worse. Surprised, I left to take another Benadryl. I gave this capsule another few minutes, but my symptoms didn't improve. I told Nona that I was leaving, and she insisted upon driving me home.

We had not fully left the parking lot of the church when I felt my chest begin to get even tighter. I had never experienced such a thing after taking THREE Benadryl. I wasn't frightened, but I reached for my Epi pen, muttering to Nona about how this was going to be a long night. As most of you know, I have an acute fear of needles, so I had to count to three aloud before I was able to jab the thing into my thigh. But the point is that I did it. I called Brandon who was at home, and told him to get ready to leave, we had to go to the ER. He was annoyed, but not yet overly worried.

When I arrived home, I prepped a bottle for Micah, knowing he would be hungry and assuming I should not nurse. I also packed an overnight bag for him just in case he would have to stay with my mom. Brandon took Nona home and put Daisy in her pen. We were calm and methodical. Half an hour passed before we were on the road.

Brandon drove quickly with his hazard lights on while I fed my hungry boy. He took it like a champ. Five minutes from the hospital, we turned onto an entrance to the interstate when I felt tight in my chest again. But the entrance was closed.

I said to Brandon, "Don't freak out. I have to use the other one." Brandon said a few choice words, made an illegal U-turn, hopped the median, and sped across the Louisville bridge.

We arrived at the ER. I could barely stand, but the receptionist asked me to fill out an information sheet. I couldn't write, so I gave her my license and sat. They then took me to triage where they asked a series of questions which were rather annoying to a person struggling to breathe because she ate two bites of a bad chicken salad. Fortunately, the second Epi did the trick because it was another half hour before I saw the doctor.

The doctor entered the room at a lope. When he spoke, his voice reminded me of Kermit the Frog. I concluded he was having a nice night in the ER because he also possessed Kermit's "always look on the bright side of life" attitude. He asked me what happened. I told him. He said, "The second shot probably wasn't necessary. The tightening in your chest was probably from the first shot."

I wanted to say, "Look here, Kermy--I know what happened, I know what I felt, and I don't have a habit of stabbing myself for fun!" Instead, I said nothing.

He declared me free from swelling at that point, ordered yet a shot of Decadron (another shot!--yay....), and a pack of steroids to take at home. I was free to go.

Fortunately for me, the deadly attributes of chow mein noodles were overcome by the life-saving ones of the Epi pen. I could've been in trouble had I not had them. I may have even needed one of those grave plots, but I never thought about that in the middle of the crisis. I just did what had to be done, and I'm glad to know I can handle something like that.

I scared my poor husband, and I can't nurse until Wednesday evening, but everything is alright now. I'm still irritated, still unwell, but I'm fine. The moral of the story? Don't trust potluck chicken salad, and don't joke about glutenous dooms.

Eeny, Meeny, Miney, Moe . . .

I began writing a novel last Sunday. I have known for awhile that I wanted to write southern fiction, but I had not yet decided upon a plot or characters, two slightly important details to consider when writing a novel. Micah woke me early Sunday morning (even though that is quite late for him), but my brain wasn't the fog it usually is at 6:00 am. The creative neurons were in overdrive, much like Micah's suction. And there, as I nursed my apparently ravenous son, I was given my idea like rain to a seed. I began writing that morning,but I knew my idea would require a good bit of work in the way of interviews, so I began scheduling them as quickly as I could. I have four lined up for this week!

Yesterday during interview number one, I discovered something that could be described at once as interesting, disturbing, problematic, money-savvy, and extremely confusing. I have my choice of not two, but three burial sites, bought and paid for. That's right. Three different people have located and purchased a place for me to be laid to rest. Until yesterday, I have considered my death only as hypothetical and honestly, in tandem with my husband's. For example, if Brandon and I were to bite the dust, who should raise our child? Yesterday, I was forced to face the fact that even if I were to live to be one hundred years old, 25% of life has passed me by. At best, my life represents my 3/4 measuring cup, and that visual is not so encouraging. Furthermore, to assume one as puny as I will live to be 100 is humorously presumptuous. I mean, it's quite possible that I will happen upon a doughnut-throwing contest, open-mouthed, and meet a glutenous doom well before my time. In that case, what should I do about these three probably costly burial plots which come with all but a tombstone with my name on it? Do you see my dilemma?

Anyway, I'm thinking I should probably start deciding. I could "meet" my prospective neighbors, get a feel for the atmosphere and observe lawn care and maintenance. Maybe dad will take me. He's the only person I can think of who enjoys touring cemeteries in the sweltering summer heat.

I have my work cut out for me between taking care of Micah, keeping house, teaching music lessons, writing a novel and deciding where I should decay.

Favorite Confessions of a Potentially Crazy Person

I feel that my blog has been too heavy this week. After getting my nightmare off my chest this morning, I decided to save my old Myspace blogs to my computer, and shut the account down. I read as I saved them, and started laughing. Magically, I was better. I thought I would recycle the laughter. Keep in mind that these posts are all over a year old. Enjoy!

Confession #6:
I've chosen a career that forces me to stare at little black dots all day long.

Confession #11:
I have a bizarre sense of humor. Those of you who know me understand what I mean. Those of you who don’t will learn if you keep reading.

Confession #15:
Occasionally, I will spontaneously burst into song. This doesn't mean I spontaneously burst into RANDOM song. It's usually after someone says something that activates my extensive song repertoire. Then, I will just start singing. I can do this up to 20 times a conversation. I think this form of craziness is genetic though. There seems to be no escaping it. All of the Chapmans do it (my dad, his brothers and sisters, and his dad). So if I start singing while I'm talking to you, it's your fault!

Confession #17:
I may try to hide it. I might even try to deny it. But THE BOSSY lives inside of me. I was born bossy. I will die bossy. It's a part of my way too opinionated, just way-too-much-in-general personality. God made me this way. If you have a problem, take it up with him.

Because I know that many people consider bossiness an extremely abrasive characteristic, I do whatever I can to keep The Bossy hidden. When I was a child, I didn't do this so well. The Bossy kept screaming to come out. (What? It was suppressed by The Bigger Bossy living inside of my sister.)

My three favorite games to play when the neighborhood kids would come over were:
1. School -- But I SO had to be the teacher. If anyone made me be the student, I would be a BAD student. But if I was the teacher, you did REAL schoolwork from the workbooks I had saved from school over the years. My friends learned in my classroom. I was a good teacher. I still am. Maybe that's why I've chosen this career.
2. Basketball team -- I'm sure you already know that I was the coach. My team began practice by running a lap around our circular subdivision. Then they did strength exercises. Then they did drills. I was tough. I demanded a lot. My team would have kicked your team's butt.
3. Drill sergeant-- Yes, I was the drill sergeant. DROP DOWN AND GIVE ME 50!!! I was training a battle-worthy army . . . until all of the little neighborhood kids got wise and quit playing with me.
It's a good thing that people like Amber, Torey, Morgan and others like them loved me for me. I was a trip to put up with. Still am.

So, drop down and give me 30! I DARE you to tell me I'm crazy!

Confession # 21:
I have several pet-peeves. This fact goes along with my anal, OCD, bi-polar personality, so it's really no wonder. Some of my pet peeves include ignorant dogmatism, my husband not putting his dishes in the dishwasher after I've already done the rest of the dishes, and people keeping hermit crabs as pets. Can we say, “Animal torture?” One of my biggest pet peeves is the dumb quips Baptists put on their church signs.

ex. Is your pew your lawn chair or your launching pad? --- Are we scientologists?
ex. You can depend on God, but can God depend on you? ----- excuse me while I add . . . . Noooooo . . . . Well, maybe to screw up.
ex. God does not put anything on us we can't handle.---That’s not even true.
ex. Remember the banana. When it got separated from the bunch, it got peeled.—What does that even mean?
ex. Three things necessary for a Christian: Determination, Direction and God—How about Grace, Mercy, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit?
ex. You think it’s hot here? Keep living the wrong way.---How is this even helpful?

What must non-Christians think about these signs? If I didn't know that good people that just don't think put these ridiculous sayings up there, I would stay FAR, FAR away. So, if you are in charge of your church's sign, please don't try to be clever. A Bible verse or an announcement is just fine. Thank you.

Confession #23:
I love my sleep. I must have my sleep. I need 9 hours of sleep per night. I never get that. Oh well. Sometimes it's because I'm too busy; other times it's because of other reasons. When something strange or out of the ordinary occurs during the middle of the night, I get a little tickled. For instance, the night before last, I woke myself up with the hiccups. I tried every trick in the book to stop. I couldn't. When I had managed to wake up both Brandon and the dog from their comas, I couldn't help but be amused. I stayed amused until I fell back asleep . . . still hiccuping.

My best example comes from last summer. Brandon and I were in Florida while my parents were in Orange Beach. We decided to meet them where they were staying, and spend the night with them in order to get up early and go deep-sea fishing. This seemed like a clever idea at the time. I was wrong on so many levels. I had thought we would be staying in a condo, first of all. Wrong! We stayed in a one room hotel with two queen beds. (Having your parents sleeping three feet away will kill any romantic vacation spirit you may have.) Even with my parents sleeping so closely to my husband and I, matters managed to worsen. Daddy began to snore. It started out kind of like a pig's grunt, and then the dynamic expanded into the roar of a freight train. I fell in and out of sleep for about an hour. I caught winks in between Daddy's wall-rattling inhalations and exhalations. Then suddenly, I was awakened by a new sound. It was softer than Daddy's snore. It sounded kind of like a little neighing pony. The neighing settled into a rhythm of hitting the off- beat of each of Daddy's snores. Yes--my mother had turned Daddy's raucous solo into a bizarre duet. No more sleeping in between the snores. I was delirious and confused. My parents never snored like this when I lived with them. Believe me, I could have heard it down the hall (and probably down the street, for that matter). No, it was a new habit. Then I realized it--my parents were getting old, and they had lived so long together, they had subliminally learned to make not-so-beautiful nighttime music together. I began to giggle. I tried to restrain myself. I really tried. But I couldn't any longer---I punched Brandon in the side, woke him up, and said, "Listen to this. It's the craziest thing in the world."

I'm not really sure how long I cackled. I just know that the next morning I felt as if I hadn't slept. And thanks to me, Brandon hadn't slept much either. And we didn't even get to go fishing. But I got one of the greatest laughs of my life that night. Too bad I had to sacrifice sleep for it.

Confession 59:
My stomach is a diva. Its personality is larger than my own. It literally cries out for attention. My stomach embarrasses me all the time. Like me, my stomach enjoys singing, acting, can be quite talkative and has a bad habit of acting up at inappropriate times. One day last semester, my stomach insisted upon singing a very high-pitched "eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee" throughout my Twentieth Century Music Analysis class. On this particular day, it felt it necessary to deliver its opinion of George Crumb. I told it to shut up, that I personally liked George Crumb, and that I really wished it wouldn’t embarrass me like that in front of Dr. Mobley.

But my stomach committed its worst social crime to date during my psychology test this morning. For some reason, it thought it would be clever to make Godzilla-like laughing noises every time I had trouble with a question. Not only was that a highly inappropriate moment to make any noise at all (others were disturbed while taking their tests), but I was mortified that my stomach would be so rude to me! Of course, it fell completely silent the moment that I exited the classroom . . . . once it didn’t have an audience anymore. Hateful digestive system!