Monday, August 25, 2008

Five Year Journey to Eternity

Today was Joey's first day of fifth grade. He was really happy because he got the teacher he wanted and his best friend is in his class for the year! Five years ago on Joey's first day of kindergarten I got a call from my father telling me that my mother was seriously ill and in the hospital. They did not know what was wrong with her but she had lost a lot of weight and could not eat. They were doing all sorts of tests but they did not know if she would make it. I had to pack up Joey and we headed up to Arkansas as Bob took charge of the older boys. Thus began the long series of hospital stays, frailties, organ failures, surgeries, broken bones, and pneumonias.

The battle finally ended Tuesday, August 19, 2008. I really still can not define what went wrong. Except that everything went wrong. She did not have cancer. She was only 71. She had taken anti seizure medication for 35 years, which caused severe osteoporosis. The alternative was to probably die of a seizure at a young age.

I am relieved that this episode is over. I wish I could say that I feel no guilt about administering the morphine which relieved her pain, but hastened her death. I felt a lot better about it 12 years ago when my Grandmother Bullock was under hospice care and the nurse gave her morphine. The hospice my mother was under prescribed the morphine but the family administered it. Maybe this is part of the advancements we have made in medical science over the last 12 years.

My mother was really close to death several times over the last 5 years. Her main concern was that she would not have a decent funeral. I promised her years ago that I would make sure she was buried in her temple clothes, that the funeral would be held in a church, that an LDS bishop would preside at the funeral, and that she would have flowers. I think she imagined that my father would not know what to do and would just do the traditional Stockam graveside service with a Baptist preacher who would not know the deceased and would deliver a fire and brim stone sermon.

So I did my best to put together a nice funeral that would have made her happy. My sister Deanna and my niece Kathleen helped me dress her appropriately. She was so small that it was pretty easy. I really don't think she weighed 80 pounds when she died. We had to fix her hair. I do not know what the beautician was thinking but we walked into the room an were aghast to find the hair styled in some weird spiky punk rocker/ lesbian biker style. A can of hairspray and a comb helped. Fortunately most of her hair was covered by her veil. We also had put on some makeup. It seems like when you get to some of these back woods mortuaries they are afraid of offending God by putting makeup on the deceased. I had Bob drive the 15 miles from the house to bring me makeup. When we finished she looked beautiful!

We were able to provide family members to do all of the program except for playing the piano. Everyone did so well. It was one of those funerals that you could walk out of and just feel like hugging almost everybody.

I was really grateful that we did not have any tantrums or fights at the funeral, burial, or family dinner. Stockam funerals are known for dramatics and some of my worst memories are of these episodes. Now that the funeral is over the family gossip will fly ,so if you hear any questionable rumors about me, there may be an element of truth to them, but please don't give me the opportunity to defend myself. I really don't want to hear what everyone is saying because some of the past gossip has been really hurtful.

It is kind of hard to be around people who can be so unkind, ungrateful,cruel and rude, while putting a happy face on myself and trying not lose control or give them more ammunition. I know that not all families are like this. I know that not everyone in this family is like this. I have my husband, my children, and a wonderful son-in-law who love me! I have a sister and her family who work as hard or harder than I do to try to create beauty and harmony in a senseless situation.

When I got home last night at 9:30 Bob helped me unload the car. I sat down and was thinking about the events of the last 8 days. I found myself crying. I had been so busy and so on guard up in Arkansas that I could not shed a tear.

My mother was a wonderful woman who did the best she could with the hand she had been dealt. She was learning disabled and she had an extreme speech impediment. We all had to pull together. My sisters and I grew up with a lot of responsibility early on. We had to interpret for my mother because she was so hard to understand. Most of the time we did a good job at this but I have to admit that we were not always saints. There was no one to help us with homework. I remember tutoring my younger sister Deanna for hours every day. I was only 2 years older than her. It was a miracle that I would be willing to teach her and even more of a miracle that she would be willing to listen and learn. My mother always made sure we went to church. That was really hard because we never lived close to a church and she could not drive. She just called people and asked them to give us rides. Like I said, she did her best and she never gave up. I love her and I miss her. I know Mormon doctrine is that when people die their spirit leaves the body. The spirit does not have limitations like learning disabilities or speech problems. And when we are resurrected we will have perfect bodies to match our spirits. I just can not imagine my mother as a normal person, even though I longed for that so much while she was alive. How will I recognize her? These probably sound like stupid questions. But I bet that almost everyone who has lost a disabled loved one has similar issues. Heavenly Father, help this midshipman's mother.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Secret Weapon Underneath A Naval Officer's Uniform


I love this picture of John. This was taken Sunday after church. The Annapolis ward is very small. If I was to say I have a lot of confidence in this ward taking care of John I would be lying. Bob went with John to Elder's quorum and they took turns reading the lesson. The bishop's wife gave a really long drawn out analogy of a drowning child during her talk for sacrament meeting. She tried to tie it into missionary work. I had to go out and take a walk because I could not take it. I know I am sensitive about this subject, but come on! How could that analogy possibly be inspired? We went to a plebe parent information meeting during the Sunday school hour. This was actually informative and we got to meet the other plebes and their parents. We talked about missions and how midshipmen do this. They actually go to school for two years then go on the mission. They serve for about 20 months which is a little shorter than the average mission. They said that one of the main reasons they go after two years is because plebes typically get really low grades and it is hard to get readmitted with a low grade average. This excuse for low grades just did not sit well with me. First of all, freshman low grades are not unique to the Academy. Next, Muirs do not blow off freshman year. I understand that he needs to go for two years before he goes on his mission, but do not give the him this excuse for poor performance. Okay, enough complaining.

One thing I like about the ward is that they assign a sponsor family to the mids. They are the home away from home and a place for normal in a difficult world. John's sponsor family is the Lund family. I will do a separate blog on this wonderful family later. They invited us to a barbeque on Sunday and it was really nice meeting them. I appreciate their willingness to help out my son.


Here is a closer picture taken at the same time.


After church John changed into his PE clothes so that he could be a little more comfortable. He has to wear something called shirt stays as part of his uniform. The stays are made out of elastic and connect to the shirt tails, The elastic shirt stays go down and around his feet. The purpose is to keep the shirt tucked in and the creases sharp. The cost is that they pull out his leg hairs one at a time by the root. He got out a razor on Saturday and shaved certain parts of his legs to decrease his discomfort.

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This is a picture of John's summer Company. They had a formal parade on Saturday morning. Can you find him in here? I think I agree with Joey who said that he can't tell the difference between any of them because they are all tall, skinny, nearly bald, and dressed in white. Where's Waldo?

On Friday and Saturday John was so happy to be with us and we had a great time. We went out to eat and watched The Dark Knight. We ate at Pot Bellies, Panda Express, Burger King, and a local Mexican restaurant. I will have to say that John probably won't be getting descent Tex-Mex until he comes home for Christmas. We ordered Chile Rellenos. They were the size of small jalapenos. We had to ask for tortillas with the meal and the waitress could not understand why we would want tortillas with our meal. We got charged 25 cents each for them which was not bad but we thought it was weird that you would get charged for tortillas.

On Sunday there was a definite shift in John's mood. He was just down. After talking to him I realized that he had used the thought of Plebe Parent Weekend to get himself through the last 6 weeks. Now what? He can choose to look forward to Christmas but I had a better idea. He is going to be starting real college in the next few weeks. The classes will be challenging and he has to keep his head in the game. I gave him my typical freshman pep talk about how he can be at the top of the class, how he needs to go into every class and size up his competition. I also sarcastically reminded him about how much fun he had his senior year of high school. He really is ready for this challenge. Incidentally, the upper classmen were playing Christmas music out of their windows when the Plebes came back. Gotta love those guys! They understand just what these kids are going through and they know how to twist the knife. I thought it was kind of funny but I don't think John appreciated the humor.

John always tells me that at the end of a long, boring story you say, "Then I found $20." It always perks things up. Well, yesterday on the flight home we had a stop in Memphis. An announcement came that they were overbooked and would anyone be willing to take a later flight and get $300 in flight credit. I yanked Joey up and we got $300 each and a food court credit to eat breakfast and lunch while waiting 4 1/2 hours for the next flight. As our luck would have it, The next flight was overbooked as well so we volunteered again for the same deal. That was $1200 for about 6 hours of our time at the airport. I bought a used copy of the BBC version of the Chronicles of Narnia and kept Joey busy the whole day. I could have done that the rest of the day and the next day too, but the next flight actually took us to Dallas. What a good way to end the trip. Then I found $1200.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Plebe Parent Weekend


I think John has grown over the last 5 1/2 weeks. He went in at 5' 11''.


Bob is 6' 3" and John is just as tall now. Okay, the hat probably gives him 3 inches. But I really think he grew an inch. You should see his arm muscles and abs. They looked great before, but now...


John really wanted to go get a Whopper and some pop for his first meal on liberty. He squared his first bite but decided in the interest of keeping his uniform clean he should eat like a real person.


The red bar is for serving at a time of war. The next two bars with the E is for expert rifle and expert pistol. This is the highest level. I really did not know he was a great shot.

He told us about his worst day which included getting in trouble for going to the head during the I-day ceremony. He was confused when he got in trouble because he did not go to the head. I guess the detailers have trouble telling these guys apart too. They must have realized the error the next day because he was not in trouble anymore. During that bad day he spilled barbeque sauce on his uniform during lunch and was harrassed for hours about disrespecting his uniform.

His great experiences included every other day. He enjoyed the marching cadences, the marshal arts, sailing, damage control, and memorizing all of the info plebes are required to memorize. He enjoyed briefings and I think he really likes the blue and gold meeting which is a wrap up meeting of the day. He is looking forward to trying out for glee club. He has enjoyed singing in the protestant choir because he gets to sing and because he gets out of drilling for an hour or so.

He was so happy today to get some freedom. He started texting and talking to all of his friends. One really neat thing about him is that he greets everyone that he sees now with eye contact and a good morning or afternoon. I don't know why this is so impressive. I think it just seems friendly and respectful.

Tommorrow we get to watch the parade and then take John out for another day of fun!
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Monday, August 4, 2008

Sir, Help This Midshipman

We got a really cute letter from John a few days ago. First, let me report that he is having a GREAT TIME at the United States Naval Academy. That is direct quote. He is doing fun, dangerous things while exercising past the point of exhaustion, and being scrutinized and yelled at all of the time. Sounds like my idea of a great time. He came up with this little list on Sunday which is his only day to have any personal time during the week. He says that Sunday is his favorite day of the week now. I remember when he was a little boy and he used to cry on Saturday because the next day would be Sunday. My, how your perspective changes when you grow up. So about the list.

You know you are an LDS plebe when...

You Square the sacrament.

You find yourself addressing the Lord as Sir when you pray.

You ask the Lord to "help this midshipman make it through another day."

You check to make sure there are no detailers around before you sing yourself a hymn in your room.

You sneak your scriptures into you rack to read them after taps.

Plebes have special rules. They have to chop through the dorm. That means they have to run. They have to eat square meals, which means they have to sit at the edge of their seats, sitting very strait. The fork or spoon is brought straight up. When it reaches mouth level it is brought, via a 90 degree angle into the mouth. It would have to be awkward. But John does not know if he will be able to eat normally again. He says that he personally does not square the sacrament, but he saw other plebes do this at services. I don't know. I will be seeing him in a few days when we go to Annapolis for Plebe Parent Weekend. We will attend church with him and I will be looking for this.

I am just impressed that he is going to church, he is praying, he is singing hymns, and he is reading his scriptures. He is doing this of his own free will and choice when mom is not reminding him or rewarding him. Wow! No wonder his brother Jeff nicknamed him John the Revelator.


Okay, in my last two posts you learned that I bought a jump party at the Spring Fling. That was not my only purchase. I also bought two passes to the water park NRH2O. This is a water park in North Richland Hills which is just north east of Fort Worth. I have always thought the name of this place was great marketing. The only catch on the tickets was that they had to be used Monday-Thursday. I took Joey last Wednsday, July 30. We were trying to go with Joe's friend Daniel, but Daniel had some intestinal problem so he could not go. Once again I got to be Joey's companion and mother. I will have to blog about this another time because this is pretty deep.

Back to the water park...There is a big problem in the Dallas Fort worth area right now at public pools and water parks. It is called Crypto. It is a terrible intestinal infection that causes severe diarhea for about ten days. We went anyway because I already paid for the tickets back in April. I am pretty sure my reasoning was faulty but, hey, both Joey and I would not suffer too much if we went on the crypto-diet and ended up loosing ten pounds, so we took the chance.

The first slide I went on was called the Black Falls. It was one of those black out slides, and there was no line to go on it! As I started going down the slide I realized why it may not be as popoular as the others. It started out with a extremely long, steep drop. I realized the problem right away. Let's just say that I renamed the ride the Black Falls Enima after I experienced it. As I was exiting the pool I realized I had also lost my sunglasses along with my dignity. I never went on that slide again. I kept thinking of the Crypto for the rest of the day and realized how at-risk I was now. Fortunately Joey and I escaped any illness and it has been five days now.


I lost Joey for about an hour at the park. He claimed that he had spent the hour loking for me, but I told him I did not believe it. After an hour of looking for him my bathing suit was completely dry and his bathing suit was wet and cool. Maybe he thought I was in the wave pool or in the splash house or on a slide, instead of sitting by the picnic cooler scanning endlessly for any sight of him.


Have you ever noticed that you can't get great pictures at a water park with a digital camera? I will have to remember to take a disposable water proof camera next year. I will also have to take a good look at any slide I decide to ride and if there is no line that will be my first clue.

By the way Daniel was only sick for about one and a half days so he did not have crypto. I also found my sunglasses at the end of the day. Then I found $20.

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Jumpin for Jo(e)y Pictures

Costco cakes are so delicious. They have a cream filling which is something you don't get from Sams cakes. One homemaking skill I chose not to develop was cake decorating so I just buy cakes for special occasions.


The menu was pizza, sprite, cake and ice cream and peanut butter crackers.
In this picture Joey is sitting by Calvin Herbst and Daniel Webb.


Here is a picture of Erin with Taryn Marstella, Sarah Trujillo, Nichole Thorsen, and Sophie Black in a bounce house.


And who created this magic? The moms...Bonnie and Alison!

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Jumpin For Jo(e)y

One week ago on July 28th we had a really fun Birthday party for Joey and his friend Erin Thorsen. For the last few years Alison Thorsen and I have jointly bid on a birthday party from the Spring Fling silent auction. We do this for a couple reasons. Joey and Erin are about 6 days apart. They have been friends since birth and they have the same friends. We have a big party and Erin invites the girls while Joey invites the boys. This ends up being about half the price and we have a blast! No one feels excluded because everyone at school and church in their grade are invited. I guess I feel like being inclusive after having been excluded too many times when I was a kid.

This year we had the party at Jump Town in Plano. Joey told me that he thought kids stopped having parties there after 2nd grade. He and Erin also informed us that they want separate parties next year. They would also like to have the party closer to the birthday instead of two and a half months late. What can I say but scheduling was a problem with two busy ten year-olds. I just know that in a few years they are going to be begging us to have joint parties again. We just have to wait until the boys and girls get over their cootie problems.

But I have to report that the party was a huge success. Almost everyone came who was invited and very few were 2nd graders. They played loud, fun music so the kids got into a pretty good game of boy chase girl tag which is always fun. We ate pizza and cake and ice cream and every kid got a pretty good dose of sugar in the party bag.

About Me

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I am a stay at home mom but the clock is ticking. My husband and I only have one child left at home. I enjoy shopping and finding great bargains.