Tag Archives: childhood memories

Everybody’s Got Something


It is the first day of first grade. I’m decked out in my favorite dress (blue, of course) with matching barrettes in my hair. I haven’t yet grown to dread the bus ride or the seemingly endless succession of school days that lie ahead. I climb onto the mostly empty bus, take a seat about halfway back and wave goodbye to Mommy.

Down our road and around the corner is a new housing development with lots of young kids. As the bus nears the stop, the kids scurry to pick up backpacks and lunch boxes and cluster in a group by the curb. They pile onto the bus and I take note of the familiar faces. There’s Dana and Chrissy and Emilee, all girls from my class last year. There are a lot of older kids I don’t know, and a couple of the boys sneer at me as they pass my seat, but I do my best to look past them and connect with my friends. I see a bald head pass by… who is that? Her eyelids are droopy and she looks barely awake. Even though I had not heard of cancer before then, it is clear to me that this girl is very sick.

As we travel on to school I begin to wonder where my friend Jessica is. I hadn’t seen her get on the bus. Then something dawns on me. I turn to look at the mysterious sick girl sitting a couple of seats back and realize that it’s her. She looks almost nothing like the energetic, goofy girl I remembered from kindergarten.

I soon learned that Jessica had leukemia and that the chemotherapy had temporarily taken her hair and her energy. In the years to come, I would find out that the treatments for her leukemia had done a lot of damage to her body. She ended up enduring more gruesome medical treatments than I ever did. Yet through the years she always seemed to have a smile and a positive attitude.

I wish I could say that knowing Jessica put my own troubles in perspective. Perhaps it did a little bit, but I still spent a lot of time feeling overly self-conscious about my looks. Jessica’s hair eventually grew back and by then she was energetic and bubbly once again. Those of us who were closer to her saw the scars from her heart surgery, and understood that her kidneys and bladder had also been damaged from the treatment.

Looking back as an adult, it is horrifying to comprehend all that Jessica went through. As if having leukemia and chemotherapy wasn’t awful enough, the process of ridding her little body of cancer essentially ruined the rest of it. While I was having plastic surgery done on my face, she was having open-heart surgery. While I was taking antibiotics to battle my ever-present ear infections, she was taking medication to keep her body from giving out way too early.

When we went on an overnight class trip, she asked me to help her put on a diaper before bed. Due to the kidney/bladder damage from chemo, she was already incontinent at the age of 11. Meanwhile, I just needed to take out my dental appliance and clean it, put some Vaseline on my eyes to keep them from being stuck shut in the morning, and put my ear drops in. Despite my ever-present self-consciousness, and her seeming lack thereof, I did not want to trade places with Jessica.

Perhaps it is an unfair comparison. Really the only thing we had in common medically was knowing that being in the hospital meant you were in for some kind of pain and suffering. Luckily for me, mine usually only lasted a few weeks post-op and then I was back to normal.

Many years later, I was browsing an online newspaper from my childhood hometown. Amazingly I came across an article about Jessica. Through this article I learned that she’d had a successful heart transplant. It took my breath away to know she’d gone through this. I now know that she is married and that she and her husband adopted several children. Considering what she went through, it’s amazing that she is still alive. Talk about strength and perseverance!

So why do I share this story? Perhaps Jessica’s situation impacted me more than I knew. Despite all that she went through, she never gave up. Perhaps it helps me remember that no matter how bad you think you have it, you can always find someone who’s got a rougher road.

It’s not even always about physical stuff either. There are so many people who’ve got invisible hurt going on. You just never know what others might be dealing with, or may have gone through in the past.

Maybe you were born missing a body part or two. Or maybe some body parts didn’t form right. Maybe your parents got divorced when you were little. Maybe you never even knew your biological parents. Perhaps on the outside, your family seems “normal” and happy, but there is anger, bitterness and grief. Maybe you never learned how to deal with your emotions. Maybe you’ve got a chemical imbalance and you can’t control your thoughts or your behavior like other people can. The list goes on.

What it all comes down to is, everybody’s got something. I’ve often wondered if anyone really does have it worse than anyone else, or if it all evens out somehow in the end. What do you think?

 

Who I am and Why I’m Here


Hello! Happy New Year!

One of my objectives in 2016 is to improve my blog by posting more often, posting more interesting content and reaching more people. I also want to take the time to read other people’s blogs and make some blog buddies. (If that’s a thing… if not, I’m going to make it a thing.)

I recently saw that WordPress was offering a Blogging 101 course, so I jumped at the chance to join it. Even though I have been blogging here for over two years, there’s always room for improvement.

My first assignment on Blogging 101 is to write a “Who I am and why I’m here” post. It’s funny because lately I’ve been thinking that my reasons for blogging have morphed a bit since I first started on WordPress. I’m thinking about revamping the whole blog to make it more appealing to a wider audience.

Who I Am

I am a 30-something year old woman who has always had an itch to write. Thanks to an encouraging first and second-grade teacher, I began writing “books” at a very young age. I wrote about going on a whale watch with my parents. I wrote about our whole family being sick with the flu (complete with illustrations of each one of us with our tongues hanging out of our mouths). I need to do a post about those books. Noted.

When I was 10, I got my first diary for Christmas and soon began chronicling my life. This habit continues with me to this day, although I definitely don’t write as often as I used to. I make up for it by blogging and sharing my thoughts with whoever wants to read them.

I’m also really into art. Basically I like to create stuff, one way or another.

Aside from the fact that I like to write/create, I happen to have a rare genetic disorder called ectrodactyly ectodermal dysplasia clefting syndrome, or EEC Syndrome. You can read about what it entails in About EEC Chick and What is EEC?

Why I’m Here

I started this blog in 2013 because I was inspired to create a personal account of my life with EEC. I had some childhood situations I was eager to share and process through writing. I wanted to be an example of someone who grew up with EEC and lived to tell about it. I wanted kids with EEC to be able to read my blog and realize that someone else had been through what they’re going through. Etc. Etc.

I did all that and it was pretty great. Sharing long bottled-up stories, like the emotionally scarring day at the water park, or the middle school angst related to not fitting in was actually therapeutic for me. It was almost like a burden had been lifted by sharing those deeply emotional stories.

I also got great feedback from parents with kids with EEC. One mom even printed out my blog posts so her son could read them! It was so cool to hear that. Probably the coolest thing that happened thanks to the blog was meeting the Claire family. They found my blog while researching EEC, which their unborn son had been diagnosed with in utero.

After I wrote all the big things about EEC, I started writing more about my normal life. In 2015, especially, I began writing about things like trips I took, projects I was working on and musings about life. I’m afraid that because of this I may have lost some of my earlier readers. Yet I did gain new readers with the travel blog aspect.

So that’s where I’m at right now… considering whether I should modify the theme of the blog, or start a whole new blog where I can focus more on creative writing and art… I just don’t know at this point. So bear with me please, as I figure it out!

This was a huge amount of detail for “Who I am and why I’m here”, but I guess it’s complicated!

Major Life Influence #2: Moving to Vermont at 16


This is the second of a five-post series of major life influences. See here for where it all began, and here for the first major influence.

The second major life influence was when my family left the Philadelphia area and moved to rural Vermont the summer I turned 16.

We had only discovered Vermont a year earlier, when family friends of ours (The Tebbs) invited us to house-sit for them while they spent several weeks on an overseas trip. We had easily fallen in love with Vermont, with its lush, rolling green hills, crisp mountain streams and glittering starry nights. We spent the next 8 months or so obsessing about it until finally my parents announced that we were going to move there.

One of the things I liked instantly about the culture in Vermont was how laid back everyone was about appearances. It might be something that would turn off the more fashion conscious person, but to me it was great. People wore practical clothing. Dressing up meant putting on your nicest pair of jeans and a clean shirt. Women didn’t dye their hair when it started going gray, they just let it do it’s thing. And speaking of hair, there was a lot of it. Men, women, children, everybody just let it all grow out.

IMG_5303
So. much. hair.

It’s beginning to sound like we went and lived on a commune. It wasn’t that extreme. We did live with another family for a couple of years though. The Tebbs were also slowly working their way out of Christadelphia, although I don’t know that any of us really knew that at the time. What had bonded our families together was a similar open-mindedness about our faith and similar interests in education.

Living with the Tebbs family was a really cool experience, although it was at times stressful. Before we moved up, they built an addition to the house to make more room. When everyone was there, it was six McKelvies, four Tebbses and whatever boyfriends were in the picture at that time. The Tebbs were from England and often had visitors come and stay while we were there. We also had visitors from back home, and so sometimes the little house was positively bursting at the seams. That was when I loved it the most.

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Happily squished around the dinner table.

Most of the time though, it was much quieter. Dad continued working in Philadelphia, and Uncle Trevor took on various professor jobs at colleges too far to commute to, so he was often living away as well. So the usual household was us kids and mom and Aunt Jenny.

Going to high school in Vermont was a world of difference from high school in New Jersey. As I mentioned earlier, people dressed much more practically. In fact, I even took scissors to my jeans and sewed patches on them to make them look more worn out and hippyish. I soon learned that the standard winter outfit was jeans, thick wool socks, a t-shirt and a heavy sweater. Thanks to the wood stoves in every home, you often had to take off the sweater or risk overheating.

Pursuing my passion as an artist seemed to fit better in Vermont as well. Of course it helped that we were living with the Tebbs, since Trevor was an accomplished painter and professor of art, and Jenny was a writer and a musician, and both of their daughters were artistically gifted. It was very inspiring to me and whatever time I wasn’t spending outside was spent hunched over a sketchbook or canvas, drawing or painting.

tarbaby_by_vermontchickie-d1mfmm81
An illustration of Br’er Rabbit and Tar Baby I did for a high school project.

Speaking of outside, there was so much of it! I would often wander around in the woods with the dogs for hours, just thinking and looking at the different kinds of trees and plants. My favorite time to do this in the winter was twilight. The sky would go through a series of beautiful pinks and purples that would turn the snow and the world around me into a magical place.

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Wandering around with the dogs and my 35mm camera.

In the summer, the Tebbs had beautiful gardens all around their house. I watched and helped Jenny cultivate the plants, and later, after I began a part-time job with Boardman Hill Farm, I started my own veggie garden plot. We’d had vegetable gardens in PA and NJ, but it wasn’t until VT that I really got into it myself. Sidenote, when I worked for Boardman Hill, they did not yet have pigs for slaughter. I would not have been down with that.

I liked living in Vermont so much, it’s a wonder that I ever left. But once I hit my 20’s, I got antsy and I thought I had a better chance at getting a good job in Connecticut. Which turned out to be true, of course. I still miss living in Vermont and it is my hope that someday I will be able to move back.

For now, I will just make do with regular visits.

Other Life Influences:

Being Raised Christadelphian

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I spent four years prostrate to the higher mind, got my paper. And I was free.

Throwback Friday – It’s Potty Time


Due to technical difficulties, I was unable to complete yesterday’s Throwback Thursday (look for it next Thursday…)

So I hereby present a special Throwback Friday, to 1981, where a one-year-old me was already learning to multitask.

1981 Potty Training
Just looking at a book on the pot, nothing to see here…

I found this picture in one of Gram’s photo albums shortly after she died. It brought back a flood of memories. It’s not often that you have a picture of your childhood toilet, or that you’d really think much about your childhood toilet, but really, a lot happened in that room.

Across from that toilet was the medicine cabinet/linen closet. It always had a strong smell of cough syrup or antiseptic, combined with the more gentle hint of fabric softener. When Kris and I were older, we would hide the Fisher Price tape recorder in there to try to catch each other talking to ourselves in the bathroom or better yet, making bodily function noises. Hilarious!

Use a hair tie to hold down the microphone button and you've got yourself a spy tool.
Use a hair tie to hold down the microphone button and you’ve got yourself a (not very discreet) spy tool.

To the left of the toilet was the sink. Oh, we had a lot of fun in that sink. We would play scientist by taking all manner of items from the medicine cabinet and mixing them together with q-tips in paper cups. A favorite ingredient was baby powder because it would make wonderfully thick concoctions. (Highly viscous, as a scientist might actually say.)

The sink was part of a long counter, which we would use when playing doctor.  A towel was laid on the tile and and the patient would lie there while the doctor used various implements, bottles and bandages found in the medicine cabinet.

We also played hair dresser, which was yet another exercise in imagination that combined  water and various ingredients from the bathroom.  The bathtub served as the waiting room, with a few little plastic chairs for the next customers.

These chairs!

The bathtub. Oh boy. I’m sure I could find pictures of the tub, but I will spare you. The tub was another source of fun and adventure. On more than one occasion I would get a little too excited and create tidal waves, which would then spill over the edge of the tub and soak through the floor and down into the family room below.

A lot of reading went on in that bathroom too, especially as I got older and was more and more obsessed with books. I distinctly remember sitting on that toilet and crying as I read about Laura Ingall’s dog Jack getting swept downstream when they crossed a river and Pa wouldn’t let Jack ride in the wagon. What the hell, Pa?

So yes, that little picture of baby Heather learning to use the potty can certainly stir up a lot of memories. It also explains why I still prefer to have some reading material when I head to the bathroom.

Throwback Thursday: In My Heart Deeply Berred…


Sibling confessions
Sibling confessions

This throwback is true heart-warmer for me. There is no date on the paper so I don’t know exactly when it is from, or even why it was written in the first place. I have had it for a long time, tucked away in a box entitled “A Few of my Favorite Things”.

I vaguely remember my mom handing this paper to me when I was about 13. She found it while going through Kris’s school papers. If it was for an assignment, it must have been a rough draft because there are no markings or comments from a teacher on the page. I never told Kris I had it and I wonder now if he will remember writing it.

Typed as it was written – adorable spelling errors and all. 🙂 Also, please imagine this being spoken with a Philly accent.

In my heart deeply berred is someone I truely love. My sister Heather is a part of me. Some of me takes after her. It’s not bad. Thou sometimes I do get so upset when she goes oh, blast, I messed up on my picture! Even thou it’s almost perfect. But besides all that art in her theres another side and it’s humorous. She is funny. I have never lived a day with out a laugh from her. I can get out of control and when something happens I’m lost and don’t know what to say? But Heather is like Oh! My love are you alive! In a funny but nice way! I can refere to her for help even when I’m too embaressed to ask someone else. I’d be a snobby bratt without her. Whenever I’m down she helps me. I love it when we go places together by are selves. Even thou she looks different I don’t care. She is always the best and only sister I have. When a friend comes over and asks what’s wrong with her, I say “nothing!” She is the best sister in the world. I even tell people that she is Zach’s girlfriend and there like Hey she’s lucky! But with all honesty, she is the best you can get as a sister.

All together now: Awwww!

Anyone who has a sibling or two will understand that the relationship can be rather challenging sometimes. You’re basically thrown together with this other person and expected to share everything. Of course there end up being lots of frustrating moments where one person is grouchy and the other is goofy, or both of you want to use the same toy (or exist in the same space) at the same time and there is conflict. There was plenty of conflict with Kris and I, oftentimes just because it seemed easier than being nice. But there were a lot of good moments too, and I have many happy memories.

Never too old to be cheeseballs!
Never too old to be cheeseballs!

As Kris mentioned in his writing, we would sometimes go places together by ourselves. This was mostly just taking walks in the park next door, and when we moved to New Jersey, it meant riding our bikes to the shopping center and blowing our allowance money in Rite Aid. I think our age difference also made it tough sometimes. Since I am four years older than Kris, I was naturally going to be better at things, like beating Super Mario Bros. or building a play-doh sculpture.

Over the years Kris and I have been through a lot together and I am grateful to have him in my life. He is one of the few people who really knows me and ‘gets’ me. Now, instead of taking walks together or staying up late to tell scary stories, we do most of our bonding on road trips. We really don’t fight at all anymore, probably because we’re not sharing a bathroom. 🙂

Don't worry guys, this is fake conflict. I think.
Don’t worry guys, this is fake conflict. I think.

Be nice to your siblings. They’re your best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future. (Mary Schmich)

Throwback Thursday – Autobiography Part 2


Last week I began typing up the autobiography I wrote for my 11th grade developmental psychology class. If you’d like to start at the beginning, check that post out first. This is part 2 of 3.

Childhood

In first grade I had an awesome teacher named Mrs. Bush. She was the best teacher I’ve ever had. As soon as we could read and write, she had us writing our own stories and reading things not only to learn, but to have fun. She taught us words like amphibian, camouflage, reptile, and azure. she began each day with a letter on the board for us to copy into our notebooks and fill out the blanks. We liked her so much, and she liked us so much, that she decided to teach all of us again in second grade. In second grade she taught us sign language, we built a mouse house, learned about the Amish, barn owls and England. We even put on a puppet show for our parents on Open House night. I think those two years were the best of all my years in school. That year the school district redrew the district lines and as it turned out, my house was closer to another elementary school, so the next year I had to transfer to Longstreth Elementary. Third grade was a big adjustment. I had a hard time making new friends, but I survived.

In November 1988, my brother John was born. I had my first kiss around that time too. It was at a bible class which was being hosted at another family’s house. My friend Tim and I were playing together in his room while everyone else was downstairs. I was just innocently playing and talking to him when he grabbed me and kissed me right on the lips. I was so happy! I remember we used to hold hands together and I truly believed we’d be together forever (at the time I was only about 9 years old.)

The summer of 1989, Dad built us a big playhouse in the backyard. It had two ‘houses’, one for me and one for Kris. My house was on top and it had a wobbly bridge across to another platform with a sliding board. Kris’s house was under the slide platform and under my house was another open platform to climb on. That summer we played constantly, pretending to be Swiss Family Robinson in the playhouse, mermaids in the swimming pool and Indians in the woods.

In August of 1989, I had surgery on my ear to remove a benign tumor. It was only supposed to be an outpatient procedure but when I woke up, I was told that the doctor had found a bigger tumor than expected. It had intertwined itself around everything in my ear and the doctor decided to remove everything in my ear. Since then I have been deaf in that ear. At the time, I wasn’t too upset, probably because I was still groggy from the anesthesia. My parents were really upset though. I was supposed to have been well enough to go back to school with everyone else, but when the doctor took off my bandages he discovered that the incision behind my ear had become infected and hadn’t healed. I remember my mom almost fainted and I started crying because blood was running down my neck and the doctor was saying “This isn’t supposed to be happening!” So, in order for it to heal, the wound had to be kept open and an antibacterial ointment used on it every day. Dad was the only one who could change my bandage because mom couldn’t bear looking into it. I hated to have the ointment put on because it was very uncomfortable. About a week or so later, I was back in the operating room to have my ear sewed up again. I was glad when that finally healed. I ended up missing the first week of school because I was still recovering.

I was well enough to go to Disney world in October. I remember that trip well. it was really exciting for all of us because we’d saved the money for a long time to go on that trip. Fourth grade was a lot better than third grade. I had a lot more friends, but I hated most of my classes except art, which was my favorite.

In the summer of 1990, I had to I had to go in the hospital for an intravenous treatment because the tumor was growing in my ear again. We had switched doctors since the ear operation, and my new doctor believed that the IV treatment would be much more successful than another operation. I was glad of that, but 10 days in the hospital, however exciting it may seem gets really boring after the first day. I watched a lot of T.V. and I was homesick and dying to get out of there. I remember talking to Mom on the phone and begging her to come and take me home. She came to visit every day, but I wanted her to stay with me the whole time. I did have a lot of visitors though. Gram came a couple of times and brought magazines and food for me. The rest of that summer was fun though. Chrissy and I played in the woods, building forts and pretending to be Indians and fair maidens and everything else we could possibly imagine.

Fifth grade was a great year. I had great teachers and good friends. We went on a class trip to the Poconos for three days and two nights, we had a Greek Festival and we wrote a book together as a class. In February 1991, I missed about a week of school for surgery on my mouth. I had to have a bone graft to close up the gaps in my gums on either side of my two front teeth. I was so scared of that operation. I was convinced that I was going to die. I think it was because they were going to use bone from my hip to do the graft. I thought I would have a permanent limp, because I didn’t understand that the bone would be taken from the outer part of my hip. As I lay on the operating table slowly breathing in the anesthesia I kept repeating the Lord’s Prayer over and over in my head and as I slowly began losing consciousness I begged God to be with me and keep me alive. I was so afraid. It’s a horrible feeling, as you lose consciousness to know that you are no longer in control the doctors and nurses had total control over me and that freaks me out.

Fifth grade was my last year in the Elementary school. My friend Marie moved to Alabama right after school let out and Chrissy had moved in April, so I really didn’t have many friends close by to spend my summer with, but I enjoyed it anyway. I read a lot, rode my bike everywhere and swam in the pool. I got together with Joanna a couple of times and went to the beach with Gram.

—To be continued—

Editor’s note: When I wrote this, I had a very childlike understanding of what had happened in my ear. I refer to it all as a tumor, but it was more than that. I wrote about this in more detail in my post about my early experience with cholesteatoma.

Throwback Thursday – Autobiography of a 16 Year Old Me


In my junior year of high school I took a developmental psychology class and loved it. One of the projects in the class was to compose an autobiography and pay attention to the stages of development throughout our lives.  So here is what I wrote, with a few edits for brevity and privacy. Even with my edits, this is super long, so I’m going to break it up into 3 posts. Keep in mind that I was sweet (and innocent) 16 when I wrote this!

The cover has seen better days.
The cover has seen better days.

Infancy and Early Childhood

I was born EEC Chick in June 1980 to Mark and Susan in Abington, Pennsylvania. I was a healthy 7 pound, 21 inch baby, but it was a shock that I was born with a cleft lip and palate and cleft hands and feet. My mother didn’t even get to hold me right away because the doctor rushed me off to examine me. I had to have many surgeries those first few months of life to close up my lip and palate so I would be able to eat and look presentable.

I was an only child for the first four years of my life. I remember we lived with my grandmother, who I called Gram. Both Mom and Dad worked so Gram took care of me during the day. I started talking at about a year old. My first words were cookie, eye and flower. I began walking in September 1981. I stood myself up with the help of the television stand and walked towards Mom and Gram as they sat on the sofa watching Lawrence Welk.

Our family went to Sunday School and Meeting (Church) every Sunday, so I had friends there from the very beginning. Becky, who was six months older than me, and Joanna, who was six months younger. We had a lot of fun together. Becky’s older brother Ben would play with us too.

I don’t remember much about my surgeries except for the one I had to fix the big toe on my right foot. It stuck out so far that my mom had to cut a hole in my shoe so it could stick out. I remember Mom, Gram and I got up really early and went to the hospital. When we got there we had to wait for a while and then my doctor came and asked me if I was ready. I said I was and he picked me up and carried me into the operating room. There he put me on a table and put a funny mask on my nose and asked what flavor I would like, strawberry, banana, chocolate, or bubble gum? I asked for banana and soon I was sleepily breathing the banana scented anesthesia. I was really grouchy when I woke up. As soon as I woke up I was taken to the physical therapy room so I could learn to walk on crutches. I was really mad and I screamed and yelled until they let me go back to my room and go back to sleep. All I wanted to do was go home! Once I did get home it wasn’t long before I was walking again despite the cast on my foot.

I just walked down these stairs with two different sized feet... no big deal.
I just walked down these stairs with two different sized feet… no big deal.

When I was three, my mom became pregnant with her second child. I was going to be a big sister! I couldn’t decide whether I wanted a girl or a boy but my mom told me not to worry, God would choose what it would be. So, 6 days after my fourth birthday, my first brother Kris was born. That year I began taking swimming lessons at the YMCA. I couldn’t wait to begin. I loved swimming in our pool at home and I was ready to make new friends. My mom was nervous about how the other kids would react to me, but her fears were quickly overcome when she met my teacher, Suzanne, who had exactly the same things wrong with her as I did! I had a great time there. Swimming was my favorite, but I also loved arts and crafts and gymnastics too.

Around that time, my great grandfather died. I wanted to go to the funeral but Mom wouldn’t let me. I had all these questions like, would he be naked? What would he look like? Was he going to be a skeleton? And of course, why can’t I go? Mom said funerals weren’t for little girls. Oh well, I had fun because my cousin Karen babysat me and I thought she was really neat. She was 16 and I wanted to be just like her. Not long after that, Gram moved out. She was going to go live with my great grandmother, who needed someone to take care of her. I was very sad that she wouldn’t live with us anymore, but I would still see her a lot because she would be less than an hour away, in New Jersey.

One day I was out playing in the yard when I heard a voice. “Hello, little girl!” At first I was scared because we didn’t have any neighbors and I couldn’t imagine where the voice was coming from. Then I realized there was a woman and a little girl about my age standing between the grapevine and the big pine tree that separated our yard from the next. “Hello, this is Christina, your new neighbor!” said the woman, motioning towards the girl, “and I’m her grandmother. Who are you?” She smiled as I walked over shyly. “I’m Heather,” I whispered “Let me go get my dad.” I ran into the house and found Dad in the kitchen washing dishes. He came outside and talked to the woman. I shyly asked the girl to play and we hit off well. Actually, to say we hit off is rather funny considering how much we fought. It seemed that we finished each of our play sessions with a fight and I would swear that I wouldn’t play with her again for a year, but by the time the next day rolled around we had forgotten about the fight and were ready to play again.

In September 1985, I started Kindergarten at McDonald Elementary School. I was very excited, I couldn’t wait to go to real school like a big kid! The first day came and I climbed onto the enormous yellow school bus that would take me to the even bigger red brick school. I thought Mrs. Schulden, my teacher, was kind of scary because she was so strict. Once, we were taking a test and she had set up books on our desks so we couldn’t look at the person next to us. I was confused about one part and I leaned over to see what the girl next to me put on her paper. (Little did I know that Mrs. Schulden was standing behind me.) She pushed my chair in hard and fast so that my ribs hit the edge of the desk. I tried not to cry, not because it hurt, but because I had done something bad and I felt ashamed.

One day just before it was time to go home, Mrs. Schulden asked if any of us had left an umbrella in the coat closed the day before. She held up a blue plastic handled umbrella with a clear plastic top that had little fish on it. Wow, I thought, that is a really neat umbrella! I raised my hand when I saw that no one else was claiming it. “Are you sure it’s yours Heather?” asked Mrs. Schulden. I nodded, and the umbrella was mine.I told my mom that a friend had given it to me at school. A couple of days later, Mrs. Schulden asked who had taken the umbrella because a girl in her afternoon class had lost one. Everyone knew I had taken it but I claimed it was mine.

Riding the bus was always interesting. Chrissy and I sat together and once we got in a big fight and the bus driver told us that if we didn’t knock it off, he’d send us to prison. That quieted us down quite a bit. We also had problems with boys. Once, I got punched in the nose by one and then Chrissy tried to beat him up before the bus driver intervened. One boy in particular, whose name was David, made fun of me to no end. he called me blondie and was always teasing my friends and I, until one day Mom got on the bus (much to my embarrassment) and told him that if he didn’t leave me alone, he’d have to deal with her. I guess that was a pretty scary thought, because he never bothered me after that.

—- To be continued —

Whew! My hand is tired from typing all that out. Obviously I don’t have the original word document from 1997. Hah. For some reason when I type, I just hold my left thumb up in the air all the time, and after a while my hand starts cramping up. Awkward.

Anyway… If you’re curious to know what I edited out of this wordy introduction to my life, it was about 20 “I remember”s and a section where I talked about the senile old lady who lived next door before Chrissy’s family moved in. How odd that I found that to be something relative to my life when I wrote this autobiography.

Also, it’s kind of alarming to realize how much of my early life I have forgotten. I have NO memory of being punched in the nose on the bus, and I definitely had not thought of Mrs. Schulden or the umbrella I stole in many years. (What is with me and umbrellas?)

I hope you enjoyed this throwback within a throwback. Next week I will post the ‘Childhood’ section, where there was lots of learning and playing and a couple more surgeries to boot.

Throwback Thursday – Thanksgiving 1991


Happy Thanksgiving!! I hope all of you reading this are having a lovely day with the people you care about most. Here’s a little flashback to 1991, when we lived in PA and always had a bunch of people over for Thanksgiving dinners. But I didn’t really describe much of that here. IMG_2550

What was I doing while the whole family gathered around? Playing Nintendo, of course!

Thursday November 28, 1991

Today was nice, I helped Mommy make stuffing, coleslaw, carrots. it was fun. Then around four o’clock the Mayocks came, then the Fausts and Uncle Jim, Aunt Boo, Lindsay and Jackie and Drew + Jane + Karen. Also Gram and Aunt Evelyn. Jay and I played Nintendo all night.

I had to include the next day’s entry too because I can’t stop laughing at the ridiculous self portrait I drew.

Friday November 29, 1991

Today was okay we had no school so we played outside today. I had fun. Tonight we watched TGIF. (Perfect Strangers, Full House and Family Matters, anyone? Whatever, I was 11!)

Anyway, check out what I imagined myself looking like “in at least 5 years”

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It looks like I have a butt growing out of my chest. Much to my disappointment, I did not have anything resembling cantaloupes in my shirt 5 years later (or ever), but I did succeed in growing my hair very long and getting a nice set of teeth. I was pretty happy about that!

Kristina and me
Late 90’s. Still waiting for my melons to sprout.

Throwback Thursday – Train Wreck


Several years ago, I came across a box of my school things. I’m certain the contents of this box will provide much fodder for the Throwback Thursday series, but for today I’m just going to comment on my memories of learning to read and write.

I was one of those lucky kids who learned how to read easily. I can hardly remember a time where I couldn’t read. Once I started reading, I couldn’t stop. I would read everything I could get my hands on – even reading all the labels on the soap, shampoo and toothpaste in the bathroom. I wanted to read EVERYTHING!

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My second grade reading workbook. Hated it!

At school, reading class often consisted of reading aloud from our text book, one student reading a paragraph and then someone else reading the next. I quickly tired of dragging along while some of the kids stumbled over words, or read at a snail’s pace. So I would read ahead in the book, and end up reading the whole story before the group had moved past the third paragraph. Then I would grow bored and flip ahead and read something else in the book, or I’d doodle and daydream until it was time to do our workbook lessons.

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My first recorded use of the word “hate” in reference to school.

Does anyone enjoy doing worksheets? This I remember being even more agonizing than listening to my classmates read out loud. Sadly, being that this was 2nd grade, I had another 10 years of worksheets ahead of me. Dun dun dun!

I much preferred when we were able to do creative writing exercises, like contemplating potential disasters.

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What might cause a train accident????????????????

I’m almost certain that my teacher did not ask us to write about what would cause a train accident. Unless one had recently been in the news and she was helping us work through our fears, but I kind of doubt it.  Whatever the case, I got a +400! Wow!

Throwback Thursday


I’ve decided to liven things up by doing a weekly “Throwback Thursday” post. It will consist of photos, journal pages, and who knows what other mementos I will dig up. Hope you enjoy!

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Goofball. Summer 1987
My mom and I were being silly as I got ready for bed. I probably asked her to play with my hair and this was the result. I loved making goofy faces to make my mom laugh.

This picture was taken shortly after my nose revision surgery. If you look closely you can see how red the scars are around the bottom of my nose, plus some of my stitches got infected so I had sores too. Ow.

I feel like this picture sums up how I felt post-surgery. After getting over the hump of feeling sad and wounded, there’s moments of feeling pretty happy and silly.