mandyholbert

A glimpse into our family – the good, the bad, and, of course, the funny

My Worst Nightmare May 17, 2014

There are things that happen to people.  Bad things.  Things that test the limits of their sanity.  Things that can break them.  That can push them over the edge and change them.  Things that cause people to lose themselves.

One of these things happened to me.  And I knew that if I didn’t conquer it, I would never be the same.  And while it may not be easy for others to understand, for me it was real.  Very real.  I knew it was a battle that I had to win or it would defeat me.  It would define me for the rest of my life.  It would rule me.  If I didn’t finish that bologna sandwich…if I didn’t force myself to eat the entire thing…if I didn’t consciously choose to chew it up and force myself to swallow it…I’m quite certain there would have been permanent damage in my mind.  I was on the verge of being broken.  Yes, my battle was a bologna sandwich.  I’m not proud of it, but we can’t control these things, can we?  Stay with me.  I’ll explain.

To set the stage, I need to share just one tidbit of background information:  I’m terrified of frogs.  Boy, it feels good to have that off my chest.  Yes, I’m scared of frogs.  I’m scared of frogs!  I know that by disclosing this, you may never look at me the same.  You may think of me as the weird woman who is scared of frogs instead of as me, an otherwise normal individual who functions just fine in society.  But I had to share.  You had to know this in order to understand the sandwich.

So, it all started, well, let’s be realistic, this story started somewhere back in my childhood.  But we don’t have time for that.  We’ll skip over the traumatic frog experiences of my life (did you know they scream when on fire?  did you know they pop when run over?) and get right to the events leading up to the bologna sandwich.

It was a dark and stormy night (seriously), and we were camping.  I thought I would take the dog for a little walk even though it was wet outside.  After all, we were camping anyway.  So, I leashed the dog, and we took off.  A girl and her dog.  Off for a little walk in the rain.  In the dark.  I know, I know – what was I thinking?  I was practically begging for a frog encounter.  But, honestly, I thought I had my fear under control.  I thought I could handle walking in the general vicinity of croaking amphibians without losing it.  And I probably could have.

Until it happened.

My worst nightmare.

I’m not exaggerating.

This is something I have obsessed about ever since I was a little girl.  Something that has been in the forefront of my mind every single time I walk outside at night.  Something I have lain in bed at night an contemplated, only to give myself the shivers and force the thoughts from my mind.  Literally, my worst nightmare.

I stepped on a bullfrog.

Remember, it’s pitch black dark!  It’s raining.  I can’t see a thing.  But I felt that bulbous mass under my left arch and I knew right away what it was.  It was a hideous feeling – worse than I imagined.  But, I had a lightening fast reaction, and I rolled my foot to the left to get my precious foot off the beast.  And something worse than I ever could have imagined happened.  The frog jumped up the leg of my pants.

I immediately flailed and kicked until I caught a glimpse of the reflection of the moon off his grotesque white belly as he flew spread-eagle through the air.  And then I was frozen.  I couldn’t move.  I mean, how could I?  I couldn’t see anything, so I didn’t know where that villainous creature was or if he had an army of cohorts nearby ready to attack.  But I knew the longer I waited, the greater the chance that I was being surrounded, so I began a panic-stricken shuffle back to our campsite.  I couldn’t breathe.  I was doing some sort of high-pitched moan that didn’t quite sound human – certainly not something that’s ever come out of me before.  I couldn’t think.  It was the longest 100 feet of my life – just trying to reach safety.

I’ll spare you the details of the rest of my panic attack.  Let’s just say it was ugly and leave it at that.  It took hours to stop crying, to calm my racing heart, to stop shaking.  Hours of laughing and crying and laughing while crying.  I was not in control of my emotions, to say the least.

And when I finally calmed down, I was hungry.

Enter the bologna sandwich.

I sank my teeth into that sandwich, and all I could think about was the striking resemblance between the cold, clammy, moist skin that was pressed up against my left leg and the remarkably similar texture of that cursed bologna.  Every time I chewed, I felt that frog on my leg.  I felt it like it was really there.  And then I tasted it.  I felt that amphibian skin in my mouth.  I looked at that slice of bologna between two slices of bread, and I saw that frog looking back at me with his ugly little froggy eyes and his arms and legs overhanging the crust of my bread.

I had to finish that sandwich.  Don’t you see what was happening!?  If I didn’t finish that sandwich, the frog would have won.  My mind would have never been the same.  I would have been broken.  I had to force myself to overcome those temporary pangs of insanity.  I had to eat a bologna sandwich made out of a frog.

And I did it!  I gagged my way through it.  I concentrated.  I dug deep and fought to keep myself.  I chewed that sandwich.  I ate that sandwich.  I finished that disgusting, froggish, nightmarish sandwich, and I was victorious!!  I WON!  I will not be controlled by my fear.  I will live a normal life!  The frogs will not rule me!  I will not make accommodations for amphibians.  I will live my life to the fullest!  I finished the sandwich!!!

But I will never wear boot-cut jeans again.  I mean, skinny jeans don’t look good on me, but let’s be realistic – they are much safer.

And I will always carry a flashlight.

Oh, and I’ll never eat bologna again.

 

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Why I am Late for Work – Excuse # 76 September 30, 2012

It was already “one of those” mornings.  I was running behind schedule and nothing seemed to be going right.  I still needed to pack lunches, feed the kids breakfast, get them both ready, and I hoped to have time to fix my hair and put make-up on for the day…

Kendra ran into my room with a terrible look on her face.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“I don’t want to tell you because I’m afraid you’ll be mad,” she answered with a trembling bottom lip.

“No, I won’t,” I said, even though I knew there was a distinct possibility that whatever she was going to say could very easily make me mad.  I started running through possible scenarios in my head.

“My hamster DIED!” she wailed and immediately started bawling.  “I.  went.  in.  to.  feed.  her.  and,” she explained in between dramatic sobs, “she was DEAD!”

RIP little guy

“Oh, honey, I’m so sorry.”  I pulled her into my arms and tried to comfort her as she cried.

Then, Max walked in.  He looked at his crying sister then at me then back at her.  He shrugged his shoulders and said, “You should have been more responsible.”  I glared at him as fresh howls came out of Kendra.

“Maxwell Trenton!  Get out of here!” I yelled.

“It’s all my fault,” Kendra kept crying.

Arg.

I tried to comfort her and still get things done since we did have school and work to try to get to on time.  I sent her to brush her teeth.

I rushed around the house like a wild woman, throwing lunches together and banging things around.  I could hear Max singing in the back of the house, but it didn’t register exactly what song he had chosen for the morning.

Then, when I heard Kendra start yelling, I realized what that little rascal was singing at the top of his lungs.  That’s right.  None other than “Another One Bites the Dust.”

How fitting.

If that’s not a reason to be late for work, I don’t know what is.

it was fun for a while…

 

Six words never to say at school September 19, 2012

Filed under: children,family,humor,Max,parenting — mandyholbert @ 6:30 am
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Max is figuring this kindergarten thing out.  Last night, when Ronnie tucked him in, Max told him a few things:

“There’s six things you can’t say at school.  You can’t say poop at school.”  He raised a finger. “You can’t say bomb at school.”  Another finger.  “You can’t say guns at school.  You can’t say foopy-bo-poopy at school.”  Still counting on his fingers.  “You can’t say fart at school.  And you can’t say weirdo at school.”

This is very serious.  How will he manage not to say “foopy-bo-poopy” for an entire school year?

He also told Ronnie, “I cried on the outside at school today.  Most of the time I just cry on the inside, but today I cried on the outside.  My leg hurt and it was bleeding so my teacher gave me a Band-Aid.”

Did it really happen?  We’ll never know.  But, he has mentioned several times that he’s struggling not to cry at school.

The other day he told my mom that he cries on the inside all day at school because he misses me.

Last night, he told me he needs to go to the doctor because something is wrong with his eyes.  Of course, I thought he could be having vision problems, so I asked him what was wrong with his eyes.

“They keep wanting to burst into tears,” he answered.

He’s melting my heart.  We’re encouraging him and making school sound exciting and fun.  He’s doing great in school – he has been a good boy, he’s making new friends, and he loves his teachers.  He’s still just struggling with doing it all on his own.

For being such a tough little guy, he sure has a sweet, tender heart.

 

Shape up, Son, I’m serious! May 22, 2012

After the baseball game Friday night, we went to a very late dinner at McDonald’s.  And not just any McDonald’s.  We went to the fancy schmancy one near the Biltmore Estate in Asheville.  It’s a strange place, really.  There’s a “magic” grand piano that plays itself, a fireplace, real art…but they still serve the same squashy burgers wrapped in paper.  The whole experience is like an oxymoron.

Fancy Biltmore McDonald's

Fancy Biltmore McDonald’s (Photo credit: Steve and Sara)

Well, there we were.  Eating cheeseburgers at 10:30 at night.  And, for whatever reason – probably because we were grossly overtired – the kids and I had the giggles.  Everything was funny.

“Oh, you got some fake hair extensions in your Happy Meal?”  Hilarious.

“You’re putting ketchup on your fries?”  Stop, stop, my stomach hurts from laughing.

When Max looked at us and asked, “What does moist mean?”, we kind of got carried away.  Well, I guess you would consider it carried away if someone chokes.  And Max did indeed choke.

I ran him to the bathroom so he could hack up the bite of food that was lodged in his throat, and to be honest, we laughed the whole time.  We were just being plain silly, and we couldn’t stop.

When we got back to the table, Ronnie had had enough.  I guess Max’s choking was the final straw.  In retrospect, I guess I can understand where he was coming from.

“No more laughing at this table.  And I mean it.  Just sit there and eat your food.  Stop being ridiculous,” he scolded us.

Max whipped right into shape.  He straightened his posture and transformed his expression from jovial to stoic in a matter of seconds.  Wow.

He looked over at me, and very seriously inquired (with intense interest and focus), “So, have you ever heard of peanuts taking over the world?”

Kendra and I laughed so hard that we both had tears running down our faces.  Ronnie gave Max “the look”.  Max didn’t flinch.  He met his father’s gaze with confidence, shrugged, and gestured towards me with his thumb.  What did he mean by that?  He meant Why Father, I’m shocked that you would accuse me of disobeying your wishes.  I, unlike my sister and mother, am quite seriously sitting here enjoying my late-night cheeseburger.  I’m insulted by this false accusation.

And with that, Ronnie lost his composure and joined in our silly laugh fest.  As they say, if you can’t beat them, join them!  And there’s clearly no beating Max!

 

Max’s Grand Entrance – Part 3 April 30, 2012

Filed under: family,Max,parenting — mandyholbert @ 5:45 am
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On May 7, ten days after my due date, we had to report to the hospital at 4 am.  We got up early and snapped a few photos.  It was an exciting morning, especially for me – anyone who has gone past term on a pregnancy can attest that those extra days feel like weeks.

We had full expectations that this delivery would be a repeat of the last one.  Having Kendra was easy, actually an enjoyable experience.  The only difference this time was that we were doing it without medical insurance, but we had already prepaid for everything, so we felt good about that, too.

Contractions on Pitocin are intense.  I went several hours before asking for an epidural.  I can remember the pain being so extreme that I literally fell asleep between contractions, only to be awoken by the next one.  Ronnie sat by my bedside, his expression revealing how much  he wished he could make me stop hurting.

After the better part of the day had passed, I knew very suddenly that something was wrong.  I could feel myself bleeding, which shouldn’t have been possible for me to feel with the epidural.  Ronnie called the doctor and I told her.  She tried to brush off my worries, but checked to humor me.  She went from nonchalant to intense in a matter of seconds.

The next few minutes were a complete blur.

I remember bits and pieces – secure an O.R., an elevator ride, more bleeding, no one talking to me, the confusion on Ronnie’s face, contractions.

In contrast, the first moments in the operating room are vivid in my memory.

They wouldn’t let Ronnie come in while they prepped me for surgery, and I’ve never felt so alone in my life.  I was scared and confused.  I was on a table in the middle of a stark white room with my arms outstretched and strapped down.  It was a bustle of people intent on the task at hand – and none of their jobs was to comfort me or explain anything to me.  I was vulnerable and terrified.  All I could do was repeat over and over and over in a trembling voice “I want my husband, I need my husband, please, my husband.”  I strained to make eye contact with anyone who passed by.  Those were eternal minutes.

When they finally let Ronnie back in to stand by my side, I calmed down.  I told my doctor I could feel my contractions, so I got another epidural while we waited for the head doctor of the practice to come assist in surgery.  They had also paged a pediatrician to be on hand.

The actual Cesarean was fast.  Ronnie maintained eye contact with me through the whole thing.

And then came that magic moment, the moment I had longed to hear since that first doctor had told me I never would – the moment my son cried.  All of the anxiety of the entire pregnancy and the intensity and confusion of the last hour melted away instantaneously when I heard that beautiful cry.  What relief!

And then…nothing.

I watched in terror as my doctor handed my son to the pediatrician.  After that first cry, he abruptly stopped.  He was purple.  I laid on that table and considered the biggest decision of my life – did I want to hold him if he was dead?

I started hyperventilating.  This is where everything becomes a blur again in my mind.  I was heaving.  My doctor was yelling, “I can’t operate – calm her down!!”  Ronnie was trying to calm me.  I was straining to see my son.  Was he alive?  Still hyperventilating.  My doctor ordering someone to calm me down.  I begged not to be knocked out.  “I promise I’ll calm down!  Please don’t knock me out!”

And that’s the last thing I remember because they sedated me.

 

How to Stop a Stranger’s Baby’s Tantrum March 16, 2012

Filed under: children,family,humor,parenting — mandyholbert @ 5:21 am
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We were in Target the other day, and there was a baby crying, more like wailing, at the top of his lungs. He was buckled into the seat in his mother’s shopping cart, and she was totally ignoring his screams.

We were simply trying to do some shopping.

It was the kind of crying that could be heard aisles and departments away. The kind that made you wonder what’s wrong with that kid? I hope he’s not hurt.

I have kids. I’m not insensitive to the challenges children present when taking them out in public. Let’s see, Max has embarrassed me in both good ways and bad. I remember distinctly a few episodes.

There was the time I had him strapped in the buggy at the grocery store. We were in the cereal aisle. I turned my head while pushing the cart, and he stretched his arm out, held it rigid, and swept all the boxes of cereal off the shelf. He has thrown up in the bakery department (of course he has). He has flipped a shopping cart over on himself (that one made me feel like a very inadequate mother). And he, at two years old, sang Beyonce’s Single Ladies at the top of his lungs the whole time we were in Target. There were, of course, the usual tantrums every parents deals with at one time or another as well.

Anyways, the kid in Target would. not. stop. crying.

We had to walk right past his cart. His mother had her back turned looking for a birthday card. Really, I couldn’t imagine having the patience to read greeting cards while my kid was screaming his head off. She must have had nerves of steel.

We walked past the cart, and the kid abruptly stopped crying. The tantrum that had been going on for at least ten minutes ended as soon as that tot and I made eye contact.

“Huh, he stopped crying,” I said to Ronnie, with a mischievous and rather triumphant grin on my face.

“What did you do?”

“Oh, I just helped that mother out. He’s not crying any more. Isn’t that nice of me? I just have a way with kids.” I was laughing really hard.

“Mandy, what did you do?”

“I just looked at him. Like this.” I contorted my face into one of the ugliest expressions I could muster. That kid stopped crying because he was shocked. How dare some strange lady make an ugly face instead of avoiding him or coddling him?

Ronnie shook his head in disbelief. Well, not really. I think he has finally come to expect such things of me. Now everyone in the store could shop in peace.

And, hey, at least it wasn’t our kid making the scene this time!

20120316-052219.jpg

 

Wait a Minute! Shouldn’t My Dog Have Warned Me!? March 7, 2012

Filed under: family,humor,pets,Silly Situations — mandyholbert @ 5:10 am
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Every once in a while, my mind takes an extra moment to register something. Oh, what pretty ice crystals, I thought when I saw the shattered glass of my driver’s side window shimmering on the ground after work one night. That guy has a really big thumb when a man parked beside my car and showed me something that I did not want to see that was certainly not his thumb. That looks like a copperhead as I barefooted out the driveway with my dog at dusk one night.

That looks like a copperhead! Stop walking, self!! Stop walking towards it – that is a snake!!

When I finally stopped walking, I was within a few feet of the fat devilish beast. I screamed hysterically. I tried to call Ronnie to come kill the snake, but it sounded more like someone was burning me at the stake and the fire had just started roasting my toes. Unintelligible.

It should really tell you something about my way of reacting to things that Ronnie did not come running. He walked over, saw the snake, laughed at me, and w-a-l-k-e-d to get a shovel.

In the meantime, I was standing guard, making sure that poisonous fiend that had encroached on my yard where my children play didn’t get away before Ronnie could end its hideous existence.

When Ronnie finally got back wearing heavy work books and wielding a shovel, he assessed the situation carefully before striking with the shovel.

He missed the head and hit the snake in such a way as to pin it down, but it was still able to hiss and fight violently. Ronnie quickly (there’s a nice change) realized he couldn’t pick the shovel up to try again as he was now in danger of being bitten. He told me to run to the garage to get another shovel.

Well, I ran. I can’t exactly say where I ran, but I ran fast. Kind of like one of those cartoons that shows the dotted line that is the path a silly character takes to get from point A to B. My line would have charted loops and curves as I apparently forgot where our garage was located.

“MANDY!” Ronnie yelled to refocus me. “The garage! Get the shovel!” That snake was struggling like crazy. He barely had it.

I retrieved the shovel, but then I experienced another problem. I couldn’t physically make myself get close enough to him to hand it to him. I mean, a shovel is what? only five feet long, or so, right? I literally could not force myself to hand it to him.

I was standing about ten feet away, crying, doing this strange kind of dance that I can only really compare to the pee-pee dance I did as a kid when I told my parents I had to go and the next rest area was twenty miles away and when we finally got there all the stalls were full and all the sinks’ faucets were running and there was a rushing waterfall and everyone was chanting “pee-pee-pee-pee-pee….”

Anyways, the snake was fighting, Ronnie was yelling at me, I was dancing, the dog was watching. I finally danced my way over to my husband holding the shovel parallel to the ground with my arm stretched as far as I could reach. Ronnie reached as far as he could while still holding the snake to the ground. He brushed the tip of it a few times with his fingers, and then he finally got it.

As soon as it was in his hands, I bolted.

Ronnie did the deed. No more snake. Once the danger passed, he went from being a little perturbed with me (I still don’t understand why) to laughing hysterically (once again, I don’t get it – we could have died out there!).

In my defense, at least this one was poisonous. That’s not always the case when I freak out over things. Something just happens to me. It’s like I don’t know myself for a moment. There’s just something about snakes…

…and frogs.