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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Welcome to your new home, little goats. May 11, 2012

What in the world am I thinking!?  I am NOT an animal person, and I just spent the better part of the morning wrestling with two baby goats that we brought home last night.  Goats are strong, by the way.  And stinky.

Why do I have two goats in a cage?  That’s a good question.  Let me begin by sharing how we acquired our other animals.

The day we got our dog, we were not even considering a puppy.  I took the kids to the pet store just to look at the animals.  Then I saw her.  She was sitting in that pitiful little pen.  Just sitting there looking at me with those big sad eyes.  Begging to be rescued.  Then I noticed the sign on her pen – CLEARANCE.  I knew I had to have her.  So I paid the slashed price and asked the shopkeeper to hold her while I ran to Wal-Mart to buy the things normal people purchase in preparation for a puppy.  And to call my husband to inform him of the new addition to our family.

Who could resist those eyes?

I was guilted into our next pet acquisition.  Kendra really played me on this one.  How could I not buy her the little kitty when her brother had a puppy.  After all, she had always dreamed of having a kitten for her whole entire life.  So, we bought the kitten and then went back to Wal-Mart for kitten stuff.

Sparkles the kitten.

The dog and cat were enough for a long while.  Until one day, the kids really decided they absolutely couldn’t live without pet rabbits.  So, we bought them.  They had to live in a dog kennel in the garage for a few days while Ronnie built them a hutch.  Why?  Because, once again, we were unprepared.

Pleeease, Mom and Dad, pleeeease!?

Well, after that, we tried fish, but that didn’t work so well as you remember if you read my post To Flush or Not to Flush.  Moving on.

Time went on.  We went through several rabbits, and my sister added a dog to the mix, but we pretty much stayed the same for a few months.  Then, my son started really taking interest in frogs.  Since I’ve always been very determined not to pass my irrational fear on to my kids, I helped him build a habitat in the unused fish aquarium, and we put four frogs he captured in it.  I have to concentrate on not letting it bother me that there are frogs in his bedroom.  I don’t go in there much.

Then, Ronnie decided to get chickens.  Fresh eggs, teaching responsibility, all that good stuff.  I went along with it because the baby chicks were so cute.  However, since we were – you guessed it – unprepared! – the chickens lived in a container in my kitchen too long for me to end up liking them.  And, honestly, now that they’re older, they scare me to death.  They’re like frogs with feathers.  And beaks and long claws.  Terrifying.

So, that brings me to the goats.  We knew we were going to buy them, so we bought all the supplies to build a fence for them.  We even started on it.  Good, huh?  Unfortunately, that’s all we did, so when we went to get the goats last night, we brought them home and had nowhere to put them.  Typical of us, really.

I was supposed to put collars on them this morning, and tie them to something so they could be out for the day until we finish the fence tomorrow.  Good plan, huh?  Well, it was a failure.  Goats don’t like collars.  Goats don’t like being led on a leash.  Goats make a lot of racket, poop all the time, and jump around like bucking broncos.  Who knew they’d be kind of like little donkeys?  Not me, that’s for  sure.

So, Max and I managed to get them to the backyard, but the collars I bought were too big, and everything that could go wrong went wrong, and they probably hate me already, and they’re only 106 days old and now they’re probably traumatized, and I’m afraid they’re going to bite me, and the dogs are barking at them like crazy, and the goats are bleeting at the top of their little lungs, and I have goat pee and poop and hair all over me, and I’m not really sure how I feel about goats now.

We’ll build the fence tomorrow.

In the meantime, I’ve heard a rumor that someone we know has a pot-bellied pig they don’t want any more…

 

 

Max’s Grand Entrance – Part 4 May 7, 2012

Filed under: family,Max,parenting — mandyholbert @ 5:20 am
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When I came out of anesthesia, I didn’t know if Max was alive, and I was alone.  I vaguely remember waking up and a nurse coming to talk to me, but I blocked her out.  All I wanted was for Ronnie to come in and tell me what was going on.

They told us they were going to have to send Max to Mission, a larger nearby hospital equipped with a neonatal ICU.  They let me see him before they took him away.

I’ll never forget looking at my baby in the incubator they rolled in to my room.  It was so painful to see such a small baby writhing and contorting, discolored, as he struggled for breath.  It was so unnatural.  And he was hooked up to so many medical contraptions that I didn’t understand.  I couldn’t even touch him.  I looked at him in my post-anesthesia state, and then they rolled him away.  My baby.

They put me on another ambulance so I could recover in the same hospital as Max.

Those were the loneliest moments of my life.  I was in a half-conscious state, physically and emotionally exhausted from the day’s events.  Max was who knew where doing who knew what.  Ronnie was following the ambulance.  And Kendra was with family.  I just wanted the four of us to be together like we were supposed to be.

It turns out, Max had ingested and inhaled meconium during delivery.  It gave him pneumonia and an overall treacherous start to his fragile little life.  He was in the NICU for ten days before we finally got to take our precious baby home.

The important thing is that Max was in every single way a perfectly happy, healthy, strong baby when we finally got to bring him home.  But, it was a long, hard process to adjust to having him home.

I feel bad even admitting this, but at first I was absolutely scared.  I would put him in his bassinet and just stare at him.  I was afraid that somehow I would hurt him or he would stop breathing or I would do something wrong.  It was a gradual process for me to recover from the emotional trauma of his birth, and I think it was complicated by the fact that I couldn’t hold him for the first precious few days of his life.

But we made it!  Max is our little buddy, and I thank God for letting us have him.

See what I mean about him being a lot of trouble from day one? And I absolutely wouldn’t trade him or any of his trouble for anything in this world!

 

 

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 do you spell s-u-c-k-e-r? March 14, 2012

Filed under: family,humor — mandyholbert @ 5:19 am
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I can’t stand the hiccups.  Kendra asked me how to spell “temperature” right as I took a giant inhale to hold my breath to get rid of the incessant hiccups.  Ronnie was sitting on the couch beside me, so I gestured for her to ask him.

“Daddy, how do you spell temperature?” she asked him.

I sat there and listened as he started spelling T-E-M-P…

All of the sudden, his face contorted as he somehow inhaled the gum that he had been so happily chomping.  The panic on his face was unmistakable.  He grabbed his neck as his eyes began watering.

I told myself to remain calm.  If there’s one thing Ronnie hates, it’s my overreacting in times of emergency.

He stood up and started walking around the living room, half bent over, trying to dislodge the gum.  Once I realized that he was not going to get it himself, I sprang into action.  I ran over and grabbed him from behind and delivered a passionate Heimlich to save him.

He gasped for air.

Then he laughed.  “Are your hiccups gone?” he asked.

“That wasn’t real!?  I just tried to save your life!”  I punched him in the arm.  “You are such a jerk!”

“Yeah, but your hiccups are gone!”

I’ve heard of scaring the hiccups out of someone, but this was taking it a little too far.  I was a little miffed.  Okay, maybe more than a little.  After all, I had just been really proud of myself for staying so levelheaded in a time of emergency.

“At least I know I have a wife who would save my life if I needed it,” he said, trying to smooth things over a little.

It didn’t work.

 

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.