Monday, December 29, 2008

Reality Check

It was back to the real world for me this morning. I am so tired. My plane landed at 9:30 local time, but I was still on CA time (7:30). By the time I got my luggage and got home, it was 10:30. After I unpacked and cleaned up a bit, changed Ron’s dressing, and got to bed it was midnight. I slept really well until about 3:30 and then again until 7:15.

Yesterday was such a bittersweet day. I was looking forward to coming home to see the rest of my family, but hated to leave Shaun, Jenny, Alexander, and my “new” family. I got all teary-eyed saying good-bye to Thomas and Tina yesterday (plus Kim, Cindy, and Wesley) before I even had to say good-bye to Shaun, Jenny, and Alexander.

It was very obvious during my stay how much they love Alexander. Alexander is really going to miss them (and vice versa) but I’m sure that Thomas and Tina will be back in the US as often as possible to visit with them.

I’ve invited them to Wichita for Easter and I hope they’re able to come. We have several birthdays in April, including Jenny, Amy, Shaun, and Isaiah so it would be nice to be able to celebrate them all at once (even though Shaun will be on deployment). Thomas and Tina can take Amy’s bedroom; Jenny and Alexander can take Isaiah’s bedroom. (Amy and Isaiah can take my room.) They’ll have a private bathroom there and if we’re lucky and it’s finished, access to a little kitchenette with a stove top, fridge, sink, and microwave. If Cindy and Wesley come, we can figure something else out for them, even if it’s air mattresses in the family room. Jenny said earlier that when they come they plan on getting a hotel so they don’t put me to any extra trouble, but I want a chance to at least try to be as good of a hostess as Tina was.

I feel so badly for Jenny. I know she’s going to really miss being so close to her family. Shaun leaves on deployment the 19th of January and her family goes back to Taiwan on the 10th for the Chinese New Year. I wish I could afford to make a couple of Friday to Monday trips after Shaun leaves and before Tina is able to come back to stay some with her. I could take the PTO but can’t afford the cost of the tickets to do that. (I do need to watch my PTO usage because I can’t use any more FML until March and I want to be sure to have a week when Shaun returns – and the baby is born.)

Oh well… back to the drawing board.


I was missing him before I even got on the plane yesterday. He is so cute! Tina and Thomas clearly adore him, as do Cindy and Wesley. Kim also is very attached to him. He is a very friendly baby and very good natured. But - he does have a temper. LOL! He shows it especially when he is tired. Jenny told me that her mom said she had a temper like that when she was a baby, too.

It's so funny to watch him have a fit. He very gingerly gets down on the floor and then very softly bangs his forehead on the floor. He doesn't want to hurt himself but just show he's displeased with something. He is very strong and when he wants down out of your arms, it's quite difficult to hold onto him.

He loves to go outdoors and have grandpa carry him around the garden (Thomas has a beautiful garden area around the house). Luckily, he's not learned how to open the front door or he'd let himself out. Even if he did, the garden is gated so he couldn't ever get out of the yard.

He is somewhat of a picky eater (go figure on that - after all, Shaun is his dad) but yesterday I fed him broccoli crowns, asparagus, and cantaloupe. He was eating a piece of pineapple between bites (if I wasn't fast enough). He loves these baby rice crackers that Jenny gets from the Chinese market. I tasted one and I don't see how he likes them. LOL, no flavor and no substance. But, he absolutely loves them.

He loves taking his toys and trying to bounce them across the entry floor. Only problem with that is the floor is tile and he could break the toy, or the tile. I would take the toy away from him and tell him no. He'd take the toy and throw it down again. I'd repeat. He'd repeat. So, I took the toy away and tried to re-direct to a different toy. Nope, he wanted to do it HIS way. Down on the floor he went. He also hated that we laughed and thought he was funny.

But, as young as he is, he is easily re-directed to something else (most of the time). He is very smart and only needed to be shown a couple of times how to work something on his new toys and he could do it. He's not quite as coordinated for some so he got a little irritated and impatient, but I think he'll master them in no time.

Man - I'm going to miss the little guy.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Food for thought from a friend

I have a friend who frequently sends her Bible studies and/or daily devotions to a group of people. I asked her once if I could share her words of wisdom on my blog and she said she'd be glad to let me. This posting I received today and thought it was something to pass on...

Hey there, ya'll!
I got somethin I wanna share with ya. While doin my mornin devotions, I came across somethin that really spoke to me. I had my bible (Amplified Version) and was just readin away, when I came upon Proverbs chapter 15. As we all know, Proverbs is just FULL of really cool stuff that thumps ya on your head and gets your attention. Well, today was no different. So grab your bible and your helmet (protective gear for that thump), and I'll show ya what I learned today. We'll be reading verses 4 and 7.

Proverbs 15: Verse 4 (NIV) "The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit." Um.....what's a tree of life? Seriously...think about it. What does it mean? Uh huh.....and when you speak with that tongue, is it life words? Or "death" words? in, hurtful, hateful, depressing, negative words. Well, sad to say, I'm guilty of a few of those! If you read throughout your bible, we're told to be careful how we use our mouths. We gotta pay attention to the words comin out that mouth. We ain't supposed to pollute others, or ourselves, with negative garbage comin thru our lips.

Did you notice in that verse where it says 'spirit' with a small 's'? You know what that means, right? It's not talkin about the Holy Spirit. It's talkin about our own human spirit. Here's a statement that really hit me: "Depression of the human spirit is another problem created and magnified by wrong thoughts and words---our own or those of others." So, how many times have you heard yourself or someone else speak negative garbage.....and just allowed it? You didn't stop it or nothin! You just let it go. Or how many times have you said stuff and didn't even THINK what was comin out your mouth, until later....then it hit ya. Don't lie, man...I know I've done it. But according to this verse, that crushes the spirit---YOUR spirit. Have you ever seen/met someone who's spirit is totally crushed? It'll make ya sit right down and bawl like a baby, trust me.

And by speakin trash, we're not only crushing our spirits, but also those of others. Now, when ya think about it....what about these young people runnin around spoutin off the garbage that they hear others sayin? Have you actually listened to what they say? It's horrible! And do you think "Where is that kid's mama? If that was my kid I'd....." and so on. Well, do you suppose that teen has a crushed spirit too? In this negative world....I'd bet they do. So, maybe the next time we hear garbage comin out someone's mouth, how about if we see their 'spirit' instead of their negative facades? How about if we instantly, on the spot, say a prayer for them? And if we did that to everyone we see, what kinda impact would that have? (Um...not just on them but on you too) Yeah, cool, huh?

Now, real quick, check out verse 7---"The lips of the wise spread knowledge; not so the hearts of fools." If you're wise, you spread knowledge. If you're foolish, you speak whatever comes to mind. Which one are you? Most people nowdays don't use wisdom when they speak, do they? All ya gotta do is look at some of our world leaders to know the answer to that question. Do yourself a favor---ask God to help you identify AND correct any negative foolishness in your life and in place of you to use wisdom instead. My mouth has gotten me in so much trouble in the past but the way I see it.....I'm a work in progress. And it's verses like this that slap me back into place. Hope this has helped you as much as it did me. Did you feel that thump? Hurts, don't it? LOL!

Still learnin to serve,

Universal Studios

This afternoon we went to Universal Studios. I took both of my jackets because I wasn't sure how the weather was going to be, and I'm very glad I did. I initially thought my light windbreaker jacket would work but as soon as I stepped out into the wind, I changed my mind. While Shaun was getting Jenny a wheelchair, Cindy and I ducked into the nearest shop to buy gloves. We got the last two pair of adult gloves in the store.

We took the back lot tour first, and I'm glad we did it first. As the day progressed it got colder and colder. I think at one point it was about 55 degrees. I was freezing. Poor Jenny was even colder.

We only rode one other ride and it made Jenny really sick to her stomach. It was the Simpson's ride and I have to say I had a blast. This picture shows how much fun I was having, and how miserable Jenny was. Jenny is next to me, then Cindy and Wesley. Shaun is behind Wesley.

Shaun rode the Jurassic Park ride while Jenny was resting in the first aid station. She was so sick to her stomach that we took her in there to warm up and rest. The lines to the other things of interest were just too long for me to want to stand in, even if Jenny felt good enough to do so. It was so cold.

Tomorrow, if all goes as planned, we're going to Disneyland. I don't know if Jenny will feel up to it or not. I sure hope so as I've still got to get a present for Isaiah. I said I'd bring him something and I didn't find anything today. I should have gotten him the dinosaur from the Toy Story movie the other day, but I thought I'd find something better.

If we don't end up going to Disneyland, I'm sure I can go to some store here and get him something.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Dinner - Asian Style

We went to another fabulous Chinese restaurant today for lunch. It was equally as yummy as the previous restaurants have been. They had lettuce wraps on the menu so I ordered them, along with beef and broccoli. There was also the same spring roll in seaweed, a chicken dish (looked like moo goo gai pan), rice, rice noodle with chicken, rice noodle with shrimp, fried calamari, and 2-3 other things I'm sure I've forgotten. Again, it was served family style in the middle of the table.

I tried to pick up the tab for lunch today but Thomas and Tina would not let me. They said I was their "best" guest and could not possibly pay.

I know it's not nearly enough but I gave Wesley a $20 red envelope gift from Ron and I, and a $20 red envelope gift from Amy and Isaiah. Jenny said her parents would appreciate that gesture since Wesley is a college student and always strapped for cash. He purchased gifts for each of us, so this is the least I could do.

As far as the gifts go, I received an absolutely beautiful piece of wall art with a glass sculpture and Chinese saying (loosely translates to "If you have the love of family, you are wealthy") inscribed on the face of it, a beautiful lavender pashmina shawl/scarf, a Chinese coin purse (from Wesley), a Chinese wallet (from Cindy), slippers (from Wesley), a Beatrix Potter bar of soap and soap dish (also from Wesley), a magnetic "health" bracelet (it's gold-tone and white - very pretty), and I had already received a crystal dolphin from Shaun and Jenny. I know that one of the gifts from Thomas and Tina for Ron is a pashmina scarf, one is a magnetic bracelet, and one is a wall clock. Their generosity is so much that simple words alone could not possibly convey my appreciation.

I felt my gifts to them were woefully inadequate, but I was pleased to see they liked them. Jenny's dad is an avid gardener so he was really impressed with the sunflower plate. They probably need more than 12 place card holders so I think I'll tell Jenny the website where I purchased them.

Merry Christmas!

I hope and pray that everyone of you has a wonderful holiday, blessed with the presence of your family and friends. Gifts are wonderful, but the best gift of all is to be in the company of those we love.

I am in California with Shaun, Jenny, Alexander, and Jenny's family - Thomas (dad), Tina (mom), Cindy (sister), and Wesley (brother). They are such a wonderful family and have really made me feel very special and very welcome.

When I walked in on Tuesday, Tina immediately put a cup of hot tea in my hands and brought out a plate of grapes. We visited for a little while and went to lunch. Lunch was at a traditional Chinese restaurant, where servers with carts roamed the aisles and if you saw something on the cart, they put it on the table and stamped the ticket. Every thing I said that I had tried before and liked, they also ordered. The table was laden with wonderful dishes - seafood dumplings, beef and broccoli, lemon chicken, rice, and a few things that I don't recall the name of.

Then Thomas and Tina kept Alexander while the "kids" and I went to Disney's California adventure. We met them for dinner at a Japanese restaurant that evening.

Dinner was another amazing experience for me. I ordered shrimp tempura - fried shrimp and vegetables. It came with a cup of soup that although it was good, it was a bit salty for me to be able to eat much of. When my plate arrived, even Shaun said something about how big it was. It wasn't a plate but more like a serving platter. When the server said it was four shrimp, I thought that was OK and I'd be able to manage that with no problem. I did, but it was the rest of the plate I couldn't finish. They all laughed at me. Shaun's plate was even bigger and he couldn't finish either.

Yesterday they kept Alexander again and we went to Bower's Museum. It was an awesome display of culture from around the world and from many different cultures. The American quilt display was beautiful and the China display was very impressive. All of the cultures represented were just amazing.

Last night, we went to May's Garden, which is another Chinese restaurant. We met up with the "POA lady" (Kim, who handles Jenny's father's business affairs in the states when he is in Taiwan), her husband, and her son. Her husband is in metal finishing and his company has done business with Boeing and Cessna in Wichita. Small world...

The food came out in HUGE platters, all eight courses of it. I took just a tablespoon or so of each course and I was so full I thought they were going to have to roll me out. There was lobster "bisque" (which was whole lobsters that had been broken up and then a buttery garlic sauce served over it - yummy), deep fried taro (very sweet, almost like a mashed sweet potato without the color), spring rolls wrapped in seaweed and deep fried, fried rice, a dish with three different types of shrimp (my favorite was done with a sauce that had walnuts), beef dish (no clue what), "salad" (shrimp, lettuce greens, tomato, pineapple, cherries, chicken, and some other ingredients), fish soup, and probably some stuff I'm leaving out.

Today promises to be another wonderful adventure. I know there are Christmas gifts under the tree for everyone in my family and what I brought for them is so small that it's really quite insignificant. I brought Thomas and Tina a baby book that I had created on Snapfish, a 12-piece set of silver plated fortune cookies to be used as place card holders for dinner parties (they entertain a lot), and a little plate that's shaped like a sunflower.

I also bought a thank you card because I want to make sure I show how much I appreciate the hospitality and extra effort they are going to on my behalf. (They went to the store and purchased a new towel and hand towel, toothbrush, and toothpaste for me, then went and bought a special mug for me to use when ever I'm here, and Tina put together an absolutely wonderful photo album of Alexander for me. I have been very touched by their generosity and welcome.)

Merry Christmas to all!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Despereaux tried to move in…

I think he was going to bring back Ratatouille and the gang, too.

I’m not usually the kind of person who screams easily, and I’m not afraid of mice. But when I’m startled by sudden movement that I’m not expecting, AND it’s a mouse, then screams are bound to happen.

Friday night, I was rearranging things in my closet and suddenly something darted across the floor. I did the normal thing… I screamed. And then I realized it was a mouse so I slammed the closet door shut and went looking for something to trap it with. (My noble husband was eating his dinner in the other room. There could have been a chain saw murderer in there for all he knew since I’m not a screamer. All I got was “are you ok?” Sure, I am… OK – so what if he couldn’t run in to save me. At that point, that was a minor detail.)

I decided that I needed to move the excess stuff off my closet floor in order to have better access for a trap. Plus, I didn’t want the mouse to crawl into the bags I had on the floor (getting ready to wrap Christmas gifts). As I was moving one bag, the mouse darted out from his hiding place. I screamed again. Very loudly, I might add.

I’m really not sure which one of us vacated the closet the quickest. All I knew was that I had to keep him in the bedroom so he didn’t hide somewhere else in the house. I pulled out the bed, both nightstands, the dresser, and the clothes hamper. No mouse. I got a flashlight and looked under things. No mouse. I closed off the heater vents (just in case) and then left the room. I had to go get mouse traps.

I went to Lowe’s and came back with two of the covered traps (to be thrown away) and eight of the sticky glue pads (just in case he brought his family). I could not believe that Lowe’s sold “catch and release” traps. No way… The only mouse I want to release is a dead one into the trash can. I set up the traps according to the directions and went to bed.

Not in my room though. Ron was gifted with my presence in his bedroom Friday night. There wasn’t any way was I going to sleep in a room where I knew a mouse was trapped. When I told him I was sleeping with him, he just laughed.

It worked, though. The trap went off about 7:00 AM on Saturday morning. So, Despereaux is dead.

Friday, December 12, 2008

CA for Christmas

I'm going to CA for Christmas to meet Jenny's parents, and to see Shaun, Jenny, and Alexander. I'm looking forward to it.

Last summer (before we knew when and where Shaun was transferring), they wanted all of us to come to CA for Christmas. With Ron's health the way it is and with me using all my PTO, we said we couldn't financially do it. So we wanted them to come here and it was talked about until the transfer was going to happen around Christmas.

Since Jenny's parents will be there, we decided that I could go there. It should be fun. I just hope that I didn't put them in an awkward position by asking if I could come.

I think we're going to Universal Studios and Disneyland, plus any other place we can squeeze in. I'll be there five days (7 counting the travel days).

I'm so looking forward to it...


Quite frankly and quite honestly, my husband is being a pain in the butt.

Whereas he doesn't really go out of his way to surprise anyone for birthday, anniversaries, Valentine's Day, or Christmas, I like to surprise people. I work really hard at listening to what people say they'd like to have and then I set about trying to find something that will fit the bill.

When I went Black Friday shopping in KC, I bought him a really nice gold watch. It's one that runs off of the light and doesn't need a battery. He also won't have to worry about kinetic movement. It's nice.

He won't SHUT UP about wanting a new watch. It's not like he doesn't have a watch because he does. Several of them. He got three watches for Christmas two years ago. And an electric watch winder. He likes watches and he likes to watch shows about watches.

He wants me to take him to the jewelry store so he can buy himself a gold watch. I bought us (with his approval and at his suggestion) a JVC video recorder. It's small and light-weight and the price was right. So, now he implies that since "I" got a video recorder that he should have a new watch. And it's not like he's only mentioned it a time or two - oh, no... he's mentioned it lots of times. I know he's said something several days this week about going to the jewelry store.

He does this ALL THE TIME around the holidays, every year. He spoils it for me. I am about ready to shove the watch package down his throat. Or somewhere else.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

One Dollar Give

I found this quite by accident but I think it's an outstanding idea. The basic concept (in a nutshell) is there will be a featured charity each day of the month. If you want to donate to that charity, you do. One dollar is the requested amount.

Click the button, or visit more information.

The One Dollar Give

Update to "I'm rich"

I continue to receive these scam emails, and today I just couldn't help myself. I answered one. My answer is the beginning and the email I received is at the bottom:

Wow - I am so excited!!! The [name removed] contacting little ole me.

But wait... there are several things that clue me in that your email is fraudulent and just trying to get my ID so YOU can commit fraud...

1. An email address - give me a freakin break. Do you really expect anyone with even a little bit of intelligence to fall for an email address that's not even remotely business?
2. Addressing me as "Sir" - another clue that you have no idea who you are sending this message to.
3. Spelling errors - have you never heard of "spell-check"? Oh... but you'd have to have English as your normal language (last time I checked, English was the language of Great Britain - true?). Cussion, diffiuculteis, and openned are all misspelled.
4. Poor grammar and punctuation - yet another LOUD indicator that You don't know how to Capitalize or punctuate , proper English language.
5. Send reply to - puh-leeze - what kind of moron would think that a BANK would have a ROCKETMAIL email address? Do you think that legitimate businesses would use something other than their own domain email address? Too funny.
6. Official "sounding" acronyms and abbreviations - wow - AU and NFIU *really* makes me certain that your email is official and above-board. Right...

So, now that I've let you know that I have no desire to fall victim to your scheme, please take your efforts elsewhere. Better yet - why not try to get a REAL job and leave folks who are trying to make an HONEST living alone?
[named removed]
[name removed]
Metro Plaza, Plot 991/992 Dangote House
Aguyi Ironsi Street
Maitama District, Abuja.



The [name removed] in Nigeria received a report of scam against you and other Asian, Australian, European, South American and US citizens by citizens of either Nigeria, Benin Republic, Ghana , Bokinafaso, Equatorial Guinea and the entire West African states (AU). The Government of the West African Countries have recompensed you following the meeting held with the Government of the various countries' high commission for the fraudulent activities carried out by the her Citizens on your person. This is to cussion the effect of the present economic diffiuculteis on you.

Your data confirms that you were among those defrauded as listed by the Nigeria Financial Intelligent Unit (NFIU) through email scams. A compensation has been set aside to all the affected victims.Be informed that a total of two Million four hundred and fifty thousand US dollars ($2,450,000.00) was allocated to you by the heads of states of the African Union as you were indicated as one of the fraud victims.

Your current phone number/contact address should be made available to this office in acknowledgement to the receipt of this mail to effect the processing and release of your fund by the nominated bank in UK through our email address ([name removed]

You can as well contact the bank directly with their information as follows.
Barclays Bank
PLC1 Churchill Place, London, E14 5HP.
Phone: +44 703 591 4563
Contact: Mr. Fred Brain.

Further communication between you and anyone claiming to be holding your fund (fraudsters) should be discontinued as such will result to a total cancellation of the release of the stated fund to you.

You are requested to acknowledge the receipt of this mail for proper update of the files openned for you in this regard.

Yours faithfully.
Bob Dewar

Monday, December 1, 2008

The jewelry saga

I bought myself a ring. I didn’t need the ring – I just wanted it. I’ve wanted it for about a year and looked at it several times. I have never even asked the price because I figured it was too much. I finally did ask about it this past weekend. It was ½ price – which was a great deal. I also got an extra 15% off the sale price, making it even a better deal.

The best sale price they have ever had on this ring is 30% off. So, I decided that I’d bite the bullet and get it.

I’m taking it back today. I batted it around all weekend (after I bought it). First I decided that I’d wrap it and put it under the tree, then I decided that I’d take it back, and then I flip-flopped again. We’re trying to get our bills paid off, so taking the money I would spend on the ring and putting it somewhere else is really a better idea.

I could tell Ron wasn’t really thrilled that I bought it, especially since I’ve been telling him that we’re cutting back. I don’t want to have something that I’ll feel guilty for having (even if he’s not trying to make me feel guilty). He didn't say too much until I showed him what I'd bought for gifts and then I could tell he was concerned.

He said he thought we weren't spending much money for Christmas and I assured him that I had not. I think I'm spending about 50% less this year than last year - and probably the same from the year before that.

His final word on the subject was "I'm going to buy myself a gold watch." That will be just lovely. I wonder if he'd rather have the one I bought or the one he'll buy himself. LOL - I don't care.

"Blue" Christmas

I think I must have seasonal depression or something. No matter how hard I try to be upbeat this time of year, I find myself getting melancholy. I can’t tell you why, or how to fix it. Obviously, I don’t know how to fix it or it wouldn’t be something that seems to repeat itself year after year. I sometimes wonder if the build-up to the event is what causes the crash afterwards. I'm inclined to believe that is the culprit.

I thoroughly enjoy giving gifts to family and friends. I like being creative and putting a lot of thought into the things I buy or make. I don’t usually expect gifts because Ron’s not been consistent with buying gifts (my kids always get me something but this year I even told them to not and to only buy for Isaiah and Alexander). His thought is that if I want something or need something, I can buy it or we can go shopping together. He’s right but there are times when I want him to totally think of me on his own and then work to provide it. Sometimes he does and sometimes he does not.

I am totally thankful for the times that he does and try to mentally be ready for the times he does not. If I plan for nothing, and get something, then I’m doubly pleased. But, if I plan for something and get nothing, then I’m upset. I’d rather plan for nothing so when I get nothing I am not blindsided.

I’ve never neglected to buy him something for Christmas. Even the years when finances were tight I managed to put together something for him, although it may have been a couple of things he needed (such as shirts or work pants). The gift/no gift years are so hit-miss with Ron that I can’t really say how many years I’ve gotten or not gotten a gift that I didn’t pick out – and sometimes even pick up. Even years that he could not have gotten me a gift he could have at least gotten a card - but he did not. Said he just didn't think of it.

We decided that we mostly didn’t have the money for gifts for each other this year. I still got him a watch that has an Eco-drive movement (he doesn’t need one, but he wanted one that he doesn’t have to replace the battery or shake his arm to keep going). I also bought him the complete first season of CSI and a set of 800 threadcount sheets. I gave him the sheets already because his skin has been hurting so much (I thought that would help).

The sheets were a really good deal ($169.99 regular price, on sale for $59.99) so I bought a set for the other bed, too. Ron said I could have gotten cheaper sheets at Wal-Mart. He’s right – but not 800 threadcount. 600 threadcount is the closest in price and they are over $50. So, I decided to give the queen set to my mom for Christmas since she’s got the same sensitive skin issues Ron has. He can't complain about that one - and he wouldn't. He knows how much pain my mom is in.

This year I absolutely don't expect anything from him. He's been in that wheelchair for almost a year, doesn't have a vehicle to drive (even if he did he couldn't get out to drive it), and because he isn't working he doesn't have ready access to money. I'm fine with that.

For real and for sure.