Mother’s Day

I spent a lot of time thinking about what to get Mom for Mother’s Day. The problem is this: She is not what Society would consider a typical Mom. First of all, it’s difficult to have flowers or something delivered to her, because my parents live on 50 acres, and have a code-locked gate. Flowers would probably just sit there on the fence for three days until Mom went into town to get something.

Second of all, she is not the girly type. I can’t buy her things like makeup, or purses, or fancy watches. She would like it of course, but those things just don’t scream out to me about her when I see them. When I think of my mom, I think of all the great childhood memories she has helped us create. Like our yearly hiking and camping trips we took all over the West.

Letting us help in the yard… 

Sister helping in the Yard

 …and even letting me keep a tiny garter snake that we found in the yard as a pet when I was three years old. (Granted, I didn’t know snakes could climb, so it was only a pet for a few hours before it climbed up the stick I put in its new home – it was a very authentic habitat – and he was gone…in the house).

I was born to be a biologist.

Mom was always so crafty too. (And still is!)  She was a spinner and weaver, she would plan awesome birthday parties for us, and create great Halloween costumes, and now she has gotten into quilting.

Sister’s 6th Birthday – Pirate Theme


She made an island out of veggie dip, carrots, and celery, and the ship was made of chocolate ice cream!


My 5th Birthday – A castle ice cream cake!


You wouldn’t know it by looking at me now, but I used to love anything princess, and wore dresses A LOT.


See? Princess Dress for my birthday!

So, someone (A parent of a girl who was invited to my birthday) decided to give me talcum powder as a birthday present. Still not sure why she thought that was a gift either. But what did she think  a 4-year old did with talcum powder?!

But anyway…..

She encouraged us to pursue our interests – when I found a dead cow on our land (where my parents now live) she and my Grandma encouraged and helped me collect every bone I could find, clean them, and do who-knows-what with them.


Bleaching cow bones – a typical 8-year old girl’s summer day


When I was nine, we went up to Arkansas to visit some old family friends when they needed to do a C-section on a cow. So I got to help!

The little calf that I helped clean up after he was pulled from his momma

I remember when Mom told me they were outside with a vet – my eyes lit up, and I wanted to go watch so bad! So it turned out that we all watched and helped when we could, and my mom gave me the  job of cleaning the calf, and sticking my fingers in his nose to make him snort out all the mucous so he could breathe. BEST. JOB. EVER.

There was also my Science Fair project of taking apart owl pellets to see what kind of bones were inside!

Somehow Mom always found great learning experiences for us too. She worked at The George Ranch Historical Park for years, and my sister and I would volunteer. Some of the guys that worked there had trapped some feral hogs on the river, and decided to use them at the George Ranch (very authentic, since that’s how we got the feral hogs in the first place!) But the pigs were just a little too young when they were caught, so Mom volunteered to bottle raise one of them!

Our little piggy!

My parents were also members of the Fort Bend Archaeological Society and the Rock Art Foundation. With these two memberships, we were all able to learn proper techniques used during archaeological digs, as well as history of different areas. As a child, I remember carefully scraping away layers of dirt, and finding things that had been buried for decades. It was a great experience for me, and I would never have had that chance if it weren’t for my Mom and Dad!

Mom was always the parent that my friends liked, because she pretty much let us do whatever we wanted, and because of the freedom she gave us, we were pretty good kids. I’m convinced of that! We had no reason to rebel against our parents, because there was wasn’t much that they didn’t let us do! Just like when I wanted to dye my hair. Mom always said, “it’s your hair, and it will grow back.”

Because of my mom’s many, many interests, she has over time learned a little bit about A LOT OF STUFF. She’s not an expert on any one thing, but she knows about of lot of things, so that makes up for it. And because of her constant craving for knowledge, she raised us to always want to learn about new things, along with being respectful of other cultures, loving animals, loving books, and loving the outdoors.

Without my mom, I wouldn’t be the girl I am today, and I would definitely not have had a wildhood.

Thanks, Mom. I love you.


Nerve of Steel

I have been having Sciatic pain issues for almost a year now.  That’s what happens when you go from being an active Grad Student doing field work and hiking all the time, to a desk job with a crappy chair.  It slowly got manageable, so I just had concern for my back, rather than actual pain, and if I walked around all day, like when we went to the Boat Show, it got pretty miserable, but that was the extent of it. Until about a month ago. We got really slow at work, so to keep myself busy, I was getting a bunch of old files, purging the documents, and then scanning the old files into the server. A couple of weeks of that, and my back attacked me.

I felt it getting tight, so I went home to do some yoga that night. apparently this is what my back was waiting for, and it struck back with




I called in sick to work the next day and spent the entire day laying on the floor with a heating pad on my sore back trying to calm down my muscles enough to make them let go of the Sciatic nerve that they had taken hostage.

That was actually the happiest I had ever seen Hondo though – I had to help Hubby that morning and follow him to the mechanic and then drop him off at work. So, like we do every morning, we left at the same time. But when I got back from dropping Hubby off at work, Hondo looked really confused for a second (as confused as a dog can look while wagging his stump of a tail), but then he realized that “MOM’S HOME FOR THE DAY!” He got so excited, and when I went back into the house and got my heating pad and a pillow set up on the living room floor, both dogs decided that I had stayed home from work to spend the day with them, and decided to wrestle on top of me. After a while they calmed down, and this is what I had: a serious dog pile on top of me.


There are definitely worse ways to spend the day at home when you feel like crap.

After using a heating pad for a couple of days, my muscles relaxed, but a heating pad does diddly-squat for sciatic nerve pain, so my back still hurts, and now it has turned into the most uncomfortable night’s sleep ever. I have tried sleeping in my recliner, which actually works pretty well, and I have also slept in the guest room where we have a much firmer mattress than in the Master bedroom. Of course, I’m stubborn, so I usually spend a long time tossing and turning, trying to get comfortable before I come to terms with the fact that it won’t happen, and try a different location to sleep. Luckily though, hubby is a very hard sleeper, so I haven’t been waking him up.

I went to the doctor to see if they could tell me anything. The wonderful doctors that I saw gave me no information (other than taking an x-ray to determine I DON’T have cancer on my spin) and said my option if it gets worse is pain injections. Into my nerve. With a GIANT needle. I’m sorry, but I think there are a few less drastic options, right?

This was my conversation with the doctor, in a nutshell:

Me: It hurts. My sister did acupuncture for her Sciatica when she was in high school, and she loved it. Any thoughts?

Female Dr.: Let me get you some information on stretches you can do. If they don’t work, Pain injections are the way to go!

Female Dr. leaves the room, tells Male Dr. what my case is, and he runs in, excited to tell me his life story of how he used to suffer from Sciatica too, and this is what he did (attempts to explain some obscure yoga move that cured him, but I have no idea what he’s trying to explain).

Male Dr: You need to work out

Me: I work out 4-5 days a week

Male Dr: You need to lose weight

Me: I’m working on that. Actually I’ve – (cut off by dr)

Male Dr: Ho-kay (with an exaggerated eye blink to show he doesn’t believe me). We also need to check your cholesterol. (Because that could be the cause…?)

Female doctor never came back to give me the exercises she told me about.

Sends me to get x-rays, and gives me paperwork to go to the lab afterwards, so they can check my cholesterol.

So, I learned that I dont have cancer (not that I ever thought that was the problem). And this is why I have turned to acupuncture. I have heard wonderful things about it, and I’m terrified that while I’m on my up-coming vacation I’ll just be a miserable wreck, and won’t be able to do much, so I want to get this taken care of well in advance of the trip.

Last week I went for my first session.  I had never done acupuncture before, so I asked my sister, That Clever Chick, what she had to do and what she had to wear. She said that all they did was put one needle in her wrist, one in her ankle, and one in her knee.  This is definitely not what happened to me. First, the acupuncturist – no no no, that’s WAY too long and requires way too much concentration to type over and over. Let’s call him Captain Needles. So anyway, Captain Needles massaged the Ba-GEESUS out of my back and down my leg first. It hurt so good. Then he took three needles and put them into my lower back, to the right of my spine, and put another needle in my right buttock. He twisted them around, and then lit a stick on fire and held it to my skin. I’m not sure exactly what he was doing since he was behind me, and I was face down in a massage table, but it was different. There were a couple of times I had to tell him it was getting too hot, but Captain Needles did a pretty good job not burning the crap out of me. When he was done with the fire, I sat there for about another 20 minutes until he took the needles out.

I felt great immediately afterward. Of course, I started walking again, and my nerve freaked out a little bit, but I had a new tingle going down my leg. Meh, that can’t be a bad thing, right? I still haven’t been sleeping well, but my nerve doesn’t hurt to the extent that it was hurting (on the stupid 0-10 Pain Scale that doctors use, it was bouncing off the charts some days) and I was even able to sleep for extended periods on my stomach which was amazing.

Tomorrow, I go for another session, and hopefully there will be even more improvement. I really prefer several tiny needles to one giant one, so I’m really hoping there is something to this acupuncture and I don’t have to get a shot in my leg forcing a permanent Dead Leg.