Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas is gone for another year!

I was worried that this holiday was sneaking up on me and coming at me with both barrels. I was right - I did get everything accomplished that I wanted, but it was a lot of last minute work and switching some things around here and there. But, it was totally worth it to participate in the festivities.

Even though the weather was less than desirable, we drove to KC to see my family and play "the game" with everyone. It was fun. Thank you to Rex for doing all the driving. I'm usually the one behind the wheel and yesterday he braved the bad roads and frigid temps to take me to see my family. It was greatly appreciated (Amy can give him a big ole kiss and hug from me). The snow was blowing, the roads were awful, and the temperatures were bitter cold, in part because of the wind.

We didn't leave here until about noon. We would have gone sooner but couldn't decide if we were braving it or not. Amy didn't want to make the decision, Rex didn't want to make the decision, and I didn't want to impose on them because I knew it would be an up and back in one day trip, which is hard in good weather. If I drove myself, I would have spent the night and come back today (maybe - maybe not; the weather has not improved there) but no one wanted me to have to make the trip by myself and to drive on the horrid roads by myself. It was nice, because all of my siblings were there and all but a handful of the 2nd generation was there. Quite the crowd at my sister's house. My mom's health is not good and we all just wanted to spend the holiday together.

The game is an added benefit to the annual dinner. This year, I took a 12-inch seasoned cast iron skillet and 4 packages of corn bread mix. It was a hit. My sister Kris opened it, my brother Jerry stole it, and then my sister Michelle stole it from him. Michelle had brought a set of three cast iron skillets and was hoping to get one or the other of the gifts (she almost stole hers back but decided she could go get another set from JCP if she really wanted the other sizes). I ended up with the gift that Amy bought to take, which is a really nice wine bottle opener. Yes, I like wine. Not all the time; not every day or even every week, but I do like some every now and then and red wine is good for your heart. Doesn't do me much good if I can't get it open, though. hehehehe!

One of the gifts that Kris got was a table-top orange juice dispenser. It's made for a party - maybe a brunch - so people can help themselves. I wanted it but knew that it would be a dead item before I would get to it (my number was 29 out of 30; an item can be touched only 3 times before it's dead). My SIL Susie opened it, my brother Rob stole it, and Brandy's husband Bryan was going to steal it from him. But, he spoke too soon about wanting it and the course of action went like this... Michelle stole the frying pan from Jerry, Jerry stole the tools from Rex (the same tools that Rex had stolen from him), and Rex stole the drink dispenser from Rob. Bryan was not happy but that's how the game is played - buy the best gift you can for $15-$20 and see how many people really fight for it.

Rex said he took the tools originally because Jerry was talking about how much he liked them and how badly he wanted them. LOL - Amy had wanted Rex to steal a remote control car from her so it would then be dead and Isaiah could have it. Amy was #20 and Rex was #21 so they were good; Rex took the tools instead so then her cousin Jamie took it for her son Aiden. Rex said everyone expected him to take the car for Isaiah, but it was more fun for everyone for him to take the tools.

On the way home, he said that if Ron could use the drink dispenser he'd leave it for him. What do you think?

You put ice in the middle tube, hook it to the lid, and then put the water in the carafe - turn the handle and get nice, cold water.

Amy brought home a game for Isaiah after all - an electronic basketball game. He'll love it. Another SIL ended up with an ant farm. Unfortunately, she doesn't have any young sons to give it to and I'm afraid that we'll see it again next year.

Ron and Keith stayed home because Ron didn't think that he would be able to get into Michelle's house very easily. It would have been tough with the snow on the ground and probably not too safe for him to try. Keith's housemates were going to bring dinner to them but the roads were too bad, so I asked Ron's ex-wife if they would mind feeding them. She said no problem, they'd have plenty of food so she brought over enough dinner for them both - and as an added bonus, two of Ron's kids came and three of his grandchildren. It was nice for him to see them and he enjoyed it. We'll see the other grandchildren on Wednesday evening and then we also will see two from yesterday another day because I didn't know they were coming and I didn't leave their gifts where he would be able to get them. Oh well - that just means that I get to see them next week, too! LOL!

We're looking forward to seeing Shaun and Jenny next week! Alexander and Kaitlyn will get to have their Christmas with us on Saturday and then Sunday we'll go back to KC to show everyone the new baby. Fun, Fun, Fun!

I hope you all have a blessed New Year!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Doctor updates

The main hole looks pretty darn good. It's only just slightly below the surface, which is amazing. The new hole isn't bad yet and we caught it pretty early, so hopefully we got it in time. Doc cleaned them both up pretty good and just put a light dressing on them both. We decided that maybe one of the reasons the brace isn't fitting well is because the dressing was too thick. So, a thinner dressing it is.

The knee surgery is on hold for a while. The next appointment is January 11 and if Ron has problems between now and then, we'll discuss surgery. So, maybe we won't need to go down that road.

So - basically all good news.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Two years…

That’s how long we’ve officially been working on keeping Ron’s foot attached to his leg. The first hole was the most severe and took from December 2007 until November 2008 for it to get to the point that it no longer needed the wound VAC, but didn’t completely close until March 2009. Since March, we’ve been dealing with a new hole that was caused by the first brace they gave him. Ron’s skin is so sensitive that it breaks open very easily. Just the crease of the seam of something across his skin can cause it to break down, and that’s what happened in the 2nd instance.

It’s finally almost the same level as the rest of his skin after having been doctored and trimmed on for several months. During this time, he’s developed what can only be called a callous on the side of his foot just past where the NEW brace hits. I’ve been watching it and last week I told him I thought it was seeping some fluid. That is not good where he is concerned.

I changed his dressing on Saturday evening and it was a little damp. We changed his dressing on Monday evening and the callous has broken completely open. It wasn’t solid underneath – but instead became a soft issue. Last night, not any worse but not any better.

Honestly – I know there are people in this world who are dealing with much worse problems than what I’m dealing with. They’ve taken care of health issues in their loved ones that completely surpass what is going on in mine. My hat is off to them because I don’t know how they keep a “stiff upper lip” and keep going. I greatly admire them. I work really hard at putting on a cheerful face at work but if people ask me how Ron is doing, I don’t lie. I say he’s not good. He moves from the bed to the chair. Then he’ll move from the chair to the bed. In between he’ll take himself to the bathroom and maybe – just maybe – go into the kitchen for something to eat that’s easy for him to fix. He goes nowhere unless I take him, which isn’t to much more than the doctor. We will occasionally go to the movies or to eat breakfast together. Not much more than that. Now that the weather is bad he probably won’t go out as much as before because he knows it’s really hard for me to take care of the scooter in the cold.

I really think he will be having knee surgery soon and I hope we can get it scheduled for while Shaun and Jenny are here to help with him. He sees the knee surgeon and the foot surgeon on Monday morning. I hope the knee doctor can schedule surgery right after Christmas and I hope the foot surgeon has good news about the foot and can tell us what to do for the recurring holes in new locations.

Friday, November 13, 2009

I have the best teacher...

School is going well. My first two classes finished with an A+ in each. My third class ended last week and it was also an A+ (Corporate Finance, no less - what a shocker; but since it was mostly a paper writing class - and I can write papers - I did well). The fourth class doesn't end until December 20 and there is quite a bit of writing for it as well.

This class is very interesting as it's an educational philosophy class. The early philosophers (Aristotle, Plato) really laid the foundations for later philosophers to follow (Bacon, Locke, Descartes, and more). Many of these have similar thoughts and ideas concerning education and many of these have very differing ideas.

This week, we are studying Jean Jacques Rousseau, Pestalozzi, Comenius, Froebel, and Elkind. On Thursday of each week, we have a post due regarding a discussion question. By Sunday, we have to reply to at least two other posts and also do some other assignment (varies each week). They're not hard but do take some time, especially for me because I don't like to do anything half-way and if we're to respond to two, I usually respond to five or six. My case studies are longer and my papers are longer. That's just how it's done. It works for me and I have an A+ so far to show for it.

With Ron's surgery this week, I got behind. For some reason when I sat down tonight, I thought I was working on my Thursday assignment - which I was, but it's FRIDAY. So, I sent the teacher a note and explained that life had gotten in the way of my best laid plans, Ron had surgery, I was behind, and didn't realize that I was a day late. I also asked her some other questions on a couple of issues I have about other assignments that I cannot quite do because of Ron's health.

She is fantastic. She sent me back the nicest note and said that we would work outside the box for me and that with my crazy life, she was more than willing to be very flexible with what I had left to do.

I told her I thought I could just kiss her. LOL - but I was serious.

Well...

I know I said I wouldn't post again until I had something positive to say. I do...

Since my last test, Ron has seen the gastro and had a motility study (which was negative) and this past Monday he had surgery. Now, a colonoscopy with polyp and hemorrhoid removal is not a major thing; in fact, it's usually pretty minor. What most people don't realize is that nothing with Ron is a minor thing. They had to do light general anesthesia because of his sleep apnea, and had to put a tube down his throat. In doing so, they scratched his throat and pinched his top lip. His lip is still swollen but not as bad as it was and his throat finally doesn't hurt.

Dr. Porter said he removed several very LARGE items from the area and some smaller polyps. He told me that he did some pretty major work there and that Ron would be very sore. He was not kidding. If this was someone who could take care of himself, it would still be a pain in the rear (pun intended) but with Ron he doesn't really have the manual dexterity to run the bidet and he absolutely cannot get into a tub of water (with his foot the way it is, he cannot submerge it into water). Plus, he's supposed to use the bidet each time he goes to the restroom. It's been pretty hectic trying to get him his "scheduled" times for soaking and then adding the extra times for soaking.

Ron's been on his normal pain medication routine (Fentanyl patches, Lortab) and got Percoset added. He says he's in as much pain tonight as he was on Monday. Poor guy. Can't sit, can't stand, and not too terribly comfortable lying down, either. I feel so sorry for him (and for myself just a bit as well; when he's up then I'm also up). I'm sure he will be very glad when things start feeling better.

But - PRAISE GOD - there was no cancer! That makes this a very positive post.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Ramblings from the mind of a tired person

I am, in a word, exhausted…

I took Ron to see our family doctor on Monday and she referred him to a gastroenterologist. We saw that doctor on Tuesday. Ron had to swallow a capsule containing little B-B-type things and on Sunday, he’ll get an x-ray of his colon to see how many are still in his system. Then, on the 9th he’ll have a colonoscopy to determine if he’s got anything growing there that he shouldn’t have. Not sure how long before we get test results back on those. Dr. Alvarado’s office called today to say his thyroid function was a bit down, so they’ve called in another medication for him to take. What’s one more anyway, when you already take 10-12 per day???

I guess I still have a Vitamin D deficiency; I’ve been on over-the-counter medication for a while now and it doesn’t seem to be doing the trick, so I get a new medication, too. Oh joy… I can hardly wait.

The hole in Ron’s right foot is not healing. It looks like someone has sliced down into the meat of his foot about an inch. That doesn’t sound like much, but it sure looks like a LOT when you’ve got a hold of the foot and you’re looking directly into the hole. Ron goes back to see Dr. Heady on November 4th. I don’t think he’ll be too happy with how it looks. The callous is growing over the hole, but the hole itself is not healing. We really cannot afford physically, emotionally, or financially for Ron to have any more surgery on that foot or for the wound vac to be put back on. I think Ron would refuse and I can’t say that I would blame him. We’ve already been five months trying to get this to heal. He’s not walking much at all – mostly just around the house – so it’s not like he could stay off of it much more than he already is.

On November 16, Ron sees a neurologist to determine what can be done, if anything, to help stop the tremors. Even when he is resting, you can frequently look at him and see his whole body twitching; some days it is worse than others. I will sometimes just put my hand over his and hold onto it, hoping, I think, that the pressure of my hand will stop the movement. It usually doesn’t but sometimes I feel that I just have to do something. It’s all so depressing. Last night, I woke up to him squeezing on my arm, so I asked him what he needed. He wanted to know why I was waking him up; he didn’t know he was twitching enough that it felt like he was squeezing me. He is very depressed over the whole situation. There are a couple of class action lawsuits against the makers of the medications he took that have been proven to cause these tremors, but because he has so much other stuff wrong with him, no attorney will take the case. So, others with fewer symptoms will get compensated but he will probably just get worse and worse until he can no longer do anything for himself.

Ron is pretty depressed and upset right now that people he believed cared about him don’t pick up the phone and call or come by to see him. Some of them have said “well, he can call us if he needs anything” but they just don’t get it – he can’t see the numbers on the phone (they blur as he tries to concentrate on them) and his fingers don’t often hit the right numbers when he’s trying to dial. Even on his cell phone, which is easy to use, he’ll frequently hit 2-3 numbers at the same time and the wrong one will register. He is not supposed to drive, so he can’t go visit. Even if he could drive, he can’t walk far enough unaided to get into a house or up stairs. Whatever happened to people visiting shut-ins? Am I just expecting too much from people – people in the ministry whose JOB it is to minister to those in need? If someone could tell me that I’m out of line, I’ll concede and move on. I’ve mentioned to more than one person – people who are in touch with ministers and lay persons who visit the sick – that Ron would really love to have someone come visit him during the day to pray with him or read the Bible to him. What kind of response have I gotten? None – no one – zip – nada. My next phone call may be to the Mormons because I know they’ll visit and read the Bible to him.

This all kind of sounds like I’m whining – and I guess I am. I don’t know if it goes with the territory or if I’m just being difficult. Lord knows, he doesn’t want to be in this situation any more than I want him (or I) to be in it. He said the other day that he really feels like he’s going downhill and he doesn’t know how to stop it. I am so numb to everything that I don’t even know how to react to something any more. I think I have to stay back just a step so I don’t have a nervous breakdown thinking about all the stuff that’s wrong with him. I don’t want him to think I don’t care, but I’m to the point that I don’t need to hear about every new pain he’s got, or that his hands are stiffer, or that he can’t grip something, or that when he tries to hold a fork he gets spasms up his arm. I just don’t know how to deal with all of it. TMI! TMI! TMI! (just kidding…)

I don’t like the position that I’m in any more than I like the position that he is in. I feel a tremendous burden and weight on my shoulders with all that I’m responsible for. My house is a mess (I’m too tired or too busy to clean) and I just look at it, then go into the bedroom and shut the door. No one is really cleaning. Everyone picks up, but no one is really cleaning. My back can't stand the heavy stuff like moping and running the sweeper so Amy will run the sweeper but no one dusts unless it’s me. LeCole is busy doing endless loads of laundry (LOL - I don't remember ever doing that many clothes during a week but I guess I did since I had three at home) and will sweep some if Amy's not home. I usually clean the hall bathroom but I can’t even begin to say when someone has last mopped. When I go into the kitchen, I’m usually picking up dishes, loading or unloading the dishwasher, cleaning off the counter, turning out lights, clearing stuff off the table, taking out trash, etc. There is always something to pick up and put away.

This ended up being way longer than I intended – but I did say “ramblings” in the title. I promise, my next post will be much lighter and I’ll be in better humor. This is the only place I have where I can vent. I can leave it here and move on because I’ve got it off my chest. I do spend a lot of time talking to the Father about my troubles and I know that He has me securely in the palm of His hands, and He will guide me through. I know that with the very core of my being, but there are those times when I’m still very much a selfish human and want to get out from under the troubles and move on to better pastures.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The rules of life

Rule #1 - Don't get on the scales the morning after having a "girlfriends' weekend out."

Rule #2 - If you broke rule #1, don't sweat the three pound weight gain the girlfriend weekend caused.

Rule #3 - Don't let breaking rule #1 and #2 determine your feelings of success or failure.

Rule #4 - If you can't obey rules 1 - 3, have some chocolate!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The circle of life

I've been finding myself deep in thought these days. Not sure if I'm contemplating my future, reminiscing over the past, regretting parts of it - or maybe a combination of all three. I look at my husband while he's sleeping and wonder what is going on in his body and his mind. I can't help but wonder how much longer I'll be blessed with his physical presence in my life; he'll always be in my life but not always physically. I watch Isaiah at play and marvel at the person that he is. I think about Alexander and Kaitlyn - waiting for that day when I see our baby girl for the first time, lose myself in my love for her, and give Alexander a big hug and kiss from his grandma. I want to catch up on all the things that I've missed on his growing and where he'll go from here. What goes on in his mind? What is he thinking and how can I get him to share it with me?

There is a circle of life that encompasses us all – dream – hope – faith – live. You can’t have one without the others and life is not complete without hopes and dreams. I have to admit, I am a dreamer. Dreaming gives me hope for the future, for without hope you have nothing. So, there you have a continuous circle… Live…dream…hope…faith…live… the circle of life.

I dream about many things – futures for my children and grandchildren, better health for my husband, happiness for my friends and family, and even how I can be of service to others. I am a “rescuer” and sometimes I dream about being the “rescued” one instead.

Does that make me selfish because I want to be resuced for a change? It's nice to have LeCole here and willing to do Ron's wound care. I can do it, but it's not something I enjoy doing. Amy can do it, but she enjoys it less than I do. If I'm out of town, Keith will come do it but it's not convenient for him to do so. I love having Amy, LeCole, and the kids around and it gives me a break because I don't feel bad when I do leave Ron for a bit. I have gone to KC without him (he can't get into anyone's house because of the stairs) but I don't like to go without him. I did a "girls night out" slumber party last night and had a great time and didn't call him once (shame on me!). But, today when I saw him and realized how badly he feels I felt bad that I didn't call him last night or this morning.

Oh well - life goes on and we do the best that we can.

I could cry, but it wouldn't help

And, I get anxiety attacks when I can't breathe - and we all know that crying really does a number on your sinuses and breathing capability.

Ron's "holey foot" is definitely more holey. Our resident medical assistant says the skin was starting to close over the hole, but it wasn't healing inside. She cleaned it up yesterday and said it's very spongy inside. I tell ya, the man just can't catch a break. LOL - I guess that means I can't either.

We go to see our family doctor on Monday. He asked me this afternoon if I was going to get the doctor aside and tell her my Alzheimer fears. I said no, that I was going to address them straight on. He's not confused like he was last year, but he's definitely not thinking clearly. Giving out his financial information over the phone and then taking medications that he didn't remember taking have indicated even to him that there is a problem going on.

We truly just take one day at a time. We trust in God and believe in miracles. If God's answer for Ron is to take him from this world, then as much as I would hate it and miss him, I know that he would no longer be suffering like he is today. If God's answer is to heal him and restore his health - then I wish He'd get with the program and get it done!

Until then, we'll just keep on keepin' on. Keep those prayers coming.

Humor

It is the facade of life... The way to hide the truth. Inject a little humor into conversations and you leave people thinking what a great sense of humor you have.

Humor makes all of the day-to-day challenges more manageable. Without it, life would be totally depressing. Who really wants to hear "how you're doing" when they ask it. Most of the time, do they even wait for an answer. The pat answer of "I'm fine" covers all the bases and gets others off the hook to actually listen to you.

My new answer is "I'm good, thanks" and it has a double meaning. If all is well in my world, then I am definitely good. If not, I'm not doing anything "bad" behavior-wise, so "I'm good" is true in a behavioral sense. It takes care of everything.

I don't have to lie and say I'm fine, when I may not be, and you don't have to listen to something that doesn't interest you. Gets us both off the hook.

Aren't you glad I'm good?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

My first award! One Lovely Blog Award

Pat, my friend over at A View from the Edge gave me my first blog award! Thank you very much for the award! I appreciate it and get to pass it on. (I started this post on 10/8/09 and although it shows 10/8, I am just now getting back to it on 10/17. Life... very busy.)

So, here are the rules of the "One Lovely Blog Award".Accept the award, post it on your blog, together with the name of the person who has granted the award, and his or her blog link. Pass the award to fifteen other blogs that you have newly discovered. Don't forget to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

Here are the blogs - in no certain order (I don't have 15 but I will be adding to this list):

Isaiah's (Eyes) "I"s - this one is mine and I have to say that I do think it award-worthy, so I am bestowing it upon myself.
The Wilson's - one of my co-workers with the most lovely set of triplet girls. Total cuties.
Tammy's Place - a scrapbook, card making site. She does great stuff.
Trying to Stay Calm! - Shauna has great posts and she never ceases to have something good to say or give away.
Kathy's Kampground Kapers - I know, I'm not first but I enjoy her blog so much that I have to reward her, too.
Jill's Paper Jems - great site for paper-craft lovers!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Health updates

Let's see... where to start.

Ron's kidneys are doing better. His colon is not. It's having difficultly letting him do his "bizniss" on any given day. Gastroparesis is an ugly thing to live with. He takes more than one medication to help provide him with relief but nothing really works very well. One new item is an injection called Relistor. It's specifically made for narcotic-induced colon paralysis. He also takes Polyethylene Glycol every day. It doesn't help much but I guess it does keep him from exploding. If not, the headlines might read "This just in... Kansas man says he was minding his own bizniss when the s**t hit the fan!"

The tremors are worse and he jerks a lot during the night. It's difficult to get really good sleep when I'm waiting for the bed to jerk. Some nights I sleep very soundly (or so he says) but other nights, I know I'm just "waiting" for the next jerk. It's so much fun.

He says his hands are worse than they've ever been. It's discouraging for him, and for me. I don't want to "not" listen to him but I hear him talk about how badly he feels so often that I think I'm numb to it. I think that I just can't take any more. I'm already doing as much for him that I think I can do and to think that his hands might be the next thing to really "go" means I'd have to take over even more. I just don't know that I'm up to it. I lay out his pills every day now because his hands shake so badly that it's really too hard for him to do it. He doesn't do his insulin shots very often, either. When he does, he ends up making himself bleed and then there's just a mess on his shirts.

He can't put his brace on, so I do that and then, once it's on, I have a hard time getting his foot into the shoe. My thumbs hurt so badly some mornings that it's a real struggle to get his shoe on. I have figured out how far I have to unlace the right shoe and if I can get my forefinger in the "loop" at the back of the shoe, I can do it with one or two tries. The left shoe is difficult because the prosthesis ends at the same point where the laces start and many days his foot just pops right out of the shoe. He doesn't have much foot to put into the left shoe and the placement of the tongue/laces makes it difficult for him to keep it on once I get it laced up.

Ron can still only walk about 10-20 feet at any one time before he has to sit. The "new" hole in his right foot is slowly healing and (thank God!) it never got to the same degree as the last blister got. I honestly don't think I could manage another $50,000 bill. I still don't have the last bill from the wound vac paid (I still owe nearly $5,000). Ron's using the wheelchair when we go anywhere that I can't drop him off at the door and use their wheelchairs. He can take himself to our family doctor to have his blood drawn but it's difficult for him. I almost really need to do that, too. It's just a matter of the financial aspect of it. I've not used as many FMLA hours this year, but I also was not approved for as many. I can have up to three instances each month, whereas last year I had up to three instances per week.

Life, as usual, has its ups and downs. Life is definitely better than the alternative but he has mentioned more than once that he doesn't know how long he can live like this especially if he continues to decline.

I keep saying God's not finished with him yet and that's why he's still here. It may be for my benefit, or it may be for his benefit. But, I'm sure that when it's time for him to leave this world that God will have a pain-free place for him in the next.

A+ and A+

Two classes down - two grades posted. A+ in each.

Not bad for an old lady who has been out of school for a long time.

The classes I'm currently enrolled in will be a bit more difficult for me. One is financial management and numbers are not my thing. The other one is a philosophy class and it's also different. The level of work required for each class is quite high but I am up to the challenge. I'm looking forward to learning more and more.

The amount of work required and the time required does mean that my blog postings will be less frequent. I had a goal to post every day but I've not been able to do that for quite some time. I do need to do an update on Ron's health and the hole in his foot, so that will be my next entry.

But, for now...

Go, Teresa - go, Teresa...

Thursday, September 17, 2009

So far, so good

I currently have 98% in each of my classes for the items that have been graded. I was especially pleased to find that I received full credit (100 points) for a paper I wrote on gender roles. I had thought it was pretty good, but I am sort of biased. I do know when I write something that I'm totally unhappy with and then am very surprised when I get a good grade on it. My lowest score on a paper is 45 points out of 50, and I totally agree with it. It was NOT one of the better papers I've written. In fact, I knew when I submitted it that it was missing something - I just couldn't put my finger on it.

Now I know... It's missing five points of "quality" work. LOL!

Here is my Understanding Gender Roles paper...

“Gender, the sense of being male, or female, is well established by the time children reach the preschool years” (Feldman, 2009, p. 255). As children get older and mature, gender differences become more pronounced, from the types of play they engage in to the playmates they choose. Societal influences impact not only they types of play boys and girls choose, but also how they are rewarded, referred to, and what is expected of them during play. Boys are typically encouraged to take on more mentally challenging roles, while girls are usually encouraged to be compliant, polite, and to develop their personalities. Parents begin at an early age in the differences in their treatment of their children. Women tend to respond to both boys and girls differently than men, and both respond to girls differently than to boys.

Boys are expected to be rough and tough, while girls are supposed to be more demure, quieter, and prefer more domesticated types of play. Even in preschool-age children, they have very pronounced ideas of how each gender is supposed to act and are less tolerant of variations in their expectations (Feldman, 2009). Although hormone influence can’t be denied in gender development, it’s important to note that there may also be biological differences that exist within the brains of girls and boys. This biological difference may be caused by the differences in experiences between girls and boys. If girls are exposed to watching their mothers in active or athletic roles, and boys are exposed to watching their fathers take a more active role in the running of the house and with the children, then they’ll each grow up with the ideas that these are not necessarily “gender specific” roles and be more inclined to integrate both into their lives (Health Topics FAQs).

As children reach preschool age, they begin to show defined preferential treatment to others in their same gender class. Girls would rather play with other girls and boys would rather play with other boys. According to Freud, children at this age are going from the phallic stage into the Oedipal stage, which occurs around the age of five. Since boys have the fear of retaliation from their fathers because of their “sexual interest” in their mother, they take on more identity of their fathers and attempt to be as similar to them as possible (Feldman, 2009).

Girls, on the other hand, are seen to have developed envy of the male genitalia and, in an attempt to solve the dilemma, they develop stronger bonds with their mother and begin to emulate their activities and actions. Based on the tendency of girls and boys to bond with their same-sex parent, they continue to pass down the gender expectations from one generation to the next.

Many researchers believe that learned gender influence can start at a much younger age than five and even occurs in households with only one parent (Feldman, 2009). In addition, not all gender influences are positive. Because the strongest influences on perceived gender roles are parents, both positive and negative influences have the potential to be passed down. If children grow up in abusive environments, they have the potential of repeating the same activities as adult (Health Topics FAQs).

Even television and movies tend to play into the gender specificity connotation. Many shows portray the victims as female, softer and in need of being rescued. Males, on the other hand, are often portrayed as the hero, or the villain, or some other potentially “strong” individual.

One way to help overcome gender-specific roles and assumptions is to shoot for more androgynous activities – those that cross both sides of the spectrum. By encouraging boys to view typical “female” traits as non-feminine and acceptable, and by encouraging girls to view typical “male” traits as less male-appropriate, then each gender will be more inclined to accept the others on a more individual basis instead of “because he’s a boy” or “because she’s a girl” in their interactions (Feldman, 2009).

References:
Feldman, R. (2009). Social and Personality Development in the Preschool Years. In Development Across the Life Span (5th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education International.
Health Topics FAQs. (n.d.). Gender roles. Retrieved from http://www.faqs.org/health/topics/8/Gender-roles.html

Monday, September 14, 2009

My Father - My Hero

Every little girl (at least the little girls I know) considers her dad to be her hero, in some way or another. I was no different. Although my dad and I didn't always get along and I didn't always agree with his parenting style or his actions, he was still a hero to me. My dad had a rough road to travel and he had obstacles on every path. He started his life with my mom when he was just 18 years old (and she was just barely 19). They would have celebrated 60 years of marriage this year (September 8). I said "would have" because today is the 4th anniversary of his death. They brought seven children into this world and ushered one out far too early in her life. They weathered many heartaches, trials, and tribulations. He was loved, scorned, hated, admired, disrespected, and venerated many times in his life.

My dad was not a “giant” of a man, but when he walked into a room his presence was felt and he made himself known. When he spoke, you listened. When he was mad, he was very mad. But when he was soft and gentle, he was very soft and gentle. Holly Dunn had a hit song with “Daddy’s Hands” several years ago and it was very much something that could be related to my dad…


“Daddy’s hands… were soft and kind when I was crying
Daddy’s hands… were hard as steel when I done wrong
Daddy’s hands weren’t always gentle but I’ve come to understand,
There was always love in Daddy’s hands.”


When he died, it left a void in the lives of everyone. My mom spent 56 years with him and has missed him terribly. There were many times during that timeframe where leaving would have been easier, but they were dedicated to each other and sticking it out was the right thing to do.

Amy and Shaun were both on active duty when he died and although Amy got to come home, Shaun did not. His ship was off the Gulf Coast helping Katrina victims. The Navy has a poem they read at the retirement of personnel and Amy took it and modified it for my dad, who was in the Air Force when he was younger. It’s called The Watch and she read it at his funeral. It was very touching.

The Watch

For years
This airman has stood the watch

While some of us were in our beds at night,
This airman stood the watch

While some of us were in school learning our trade,
This airman stood the watch

Yes…even before some of us were born into this world
This airman stood the watch


In those years when the storm clouds of war were seen brewing on the horizon of history
This airman stood the watch

Many times he would cast an eye ashore and see his family, stand there
Needing his guidance and help
Needing that hand to hold during those hard ties
But he still stood the watch

He stood the watch for years
He stood the watch so that we, our families, and
Our fellow countrymen could sleep soundly in safety,
Each and every night, knowing that an airman stood the watch

Today we are here to say,

“Airman…the watch stands relieved,
Relieved by those you have trained, guided, and lead
Airman, you stand relieved… We have the watch.”


We were fortunate that my dad lived as many years as he did. In the spring of 1987 he had a quadruple bypass, followed by a heart attack in July 1987. If he had not had the bypass he would not have survived the heart attack. The next 18 years were filled with heart problems, stents, a pacemaker, and a couple of heart attacks. Each time he got sick and was near death, he’d bounce right back and come home from the hospital.

So, when he went into the hospital on August 20, 2005 we all expected that he would once again bounce right back and come home. He didn’t. He got progressively weaker and was transferred to a nursing home for “rehab” but we all knew that there was really no way to rehab a worn-out heart and it would be just a matter of time.

The nursing staff went in and spoke to him at 6:15 that morning; when they went back at 6:45 to give him a washcloth for breakfast, he was gone - In a flash, the blink of an eye, a single heartbeat.

Even though you’re as prepared as possible for an event such as this, you’re really not. You just pick up the pieces as best as you can and move forward. He got to see the first great-grandchild born into the family, but there are seven of them now.


He was baptized in February 2005 so my mom has that comfort to lean upon. She will see him again when her time here is also done and that gives her peace.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

It's Trimspa, Baby!

Wasn’t that Anna Nicole’s line when she started advertising for Trimspa? I thought it was pretty corny until I decided I was going to use it. Now, when something is really spectacular, “it’s Trimspa, baby!”

Speaking of Trimspa, there’s a new forum out there (www.trimspapr.com) and it’s chock full of weight loss tips and motivational stories. Trimspa is now available for purchase online and is supposed to be back in stores later this month or early next. It does not have ephedrine in it so it sounds pretty safe. In fact, I’ve ordered some and it should be here later this week.

Our family reunion is Sept 20 and I had hoped the pills would have gotten here earlier (I ordered them about six weeks ago) so there’d be the “WOW” factor when family member saw me, I’m still about 15 pounds lighter than I was last year at our reunion. I have to admit that I haven’t worked as hard at losing weight this year as I did last year, but I’m ready to get back on the wagon and shed the remaining 30-40 pounds (I’m flexible – if 40 happens, great; if 30 happens, great).

I think the Trimspa will really help me in the mindless snacking that I’ve noticed me doing. I’m not hungry, but when I study or write I want to be snacking on something. Since I’m spending more time on the computer at home (doing school work) I am constantly looking for something I can chew on. Even low-calorie, low-fat stuff can be too much if you overdo it. {sigh} So, enter Trimspa.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

School Update

I've survived three weeks of school and I've been much busier than I thought I'd be. I knew I'd be busy but there is a lot of writing, which I'm a bit out of practice with. LOL, I know that sounds funny being a technical writer, but it's a totally different type of writing.

I have gotten 100% on all the papers and discussion questions that have been graded. I've missed one point on one quiz and two points on the second quiz. I'm happy with that. The one point I missed on the first one was something I just didn't know; the other two was because I flip-flopped the answers in a multiple-choice environment. After re-reading the questions and the possible answers, I'm not sure I would have changed my answer. They were close in definition.

This term has three more weeks and I know there is a lot left to do. I believe that I can do it.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Birthday Wishes and Weekend Fun

My birthday was a really nice day. We met our friends early (after breakfast) and headed for Fantastic Caverns. Debbie has a knack for getting sidetracked, so we ended up at Tanger Mall. That was OK (she asked before she told her husband that we might want to go there) because I wanted to go anyway. I went into the kitchen store to pick up a couple of things for my coffee pot. Then, we headed to the caverns. The caverns were very interesting.

Next up, a trip to the Z-Coil shoe store. Debbie has worn those type of shoes for about six months and they have made a big difference in the pain in her feet and knees. We decided it was worth a shot for Ron. These people were so nice, they sold him one shoe from one box and one shoe from another (size 11 and size 12). I've never seen anyone offer to do that. Of course, they were not cheap but even his orthotic shoe guy wouldn't order him one in each size. They adjusted the coils and Ron wore them for about six hours. I need to check his feet for blisters or uneven wear but I think once he gets used to the spring action, he'll walk better. He already said the left knee was not as painful.


Then, we went to Lambert's for lunch. LOL, after we waited for an hour, it was more like an early dinner. That's OK, it was delish. Debbie and Ron each had fried chicken, Debbie's husband (Herb) and I each had prime rib. We had a great dinner. I got mine mostly free ($9.99) and it was very good. The "pass arounds" for the day were fried okra, black-eyed peas, and fried potatoes with onions. Very good. Oh- and can't forget the "throwed rolls" as that is one of their signature items. They've definitely got a great recipe for their rolls.

Later, we went to the Hollywood Wax Museum and had a pretty good time. I was a bit disappointed in some of the art and thought that many of the recreations were less-than realistic. I did love the Forrest Gump display and had to have my picture taken with him.

On Sunday, we went to the Titanic exhibit. I was totally bowled over by the quality of the replica of the ship and the interior sections they've created. It was really sobering to see the photos of people as they're loading up the ship and getting ready to head out, knowing that many of them did not survive. As we boarded, we each got a boarding pass of someone on the ship. The people Debbie and I had both survived, but those that Ron and Herb had did not.

They didn't allow any photography inside but they did take our pictures and superimpose them in a few places. I went ahead and bought the package of pictures so I'd have something to put in my scrapbook.







Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Anniversary update

Our trip to KC on Saturday was a lot of fun. We went to my mom's house and then on to the restaurant. We ate at Buca di Beppo on the Plaza. It is in the basement of the building and goes a full city block UNDER the street and parking garage. There were so many rooms that when I took my mom to the restroom, we made a wrong turn coming back. They had to get her a chair so she could rest before we made the rest of the trek back to the table. Ron had to sit on the way to the table the first time and then barely made it to sit down at the elevator. When we called to ask about handicap accessibility, they directed us to where the elevator entrance was, but no one said there would be a 1/2 mile walk to the table. My mom and Ron barely made it in or out. But, the food was excellent. I doubt we'll go back, but it was a nice place to visit once.

I'm a bit concerned about Ron. He's got the shakes really bad this week. His whole right side was shaking the other night and it comes and goes. He has trouble resting when he shakes like that and I do, too because he sometimes shakes the bed. I don't know what to expect from his medical condition anymore. It changes so much all the time. He has us worried. I think he is tired of living this way but we don't have a clue how to improve it.

I'm making plans for him to get out and do things, hoping that it gives him a reason to look forward to a new day. We're going to Branson for the weekend with friends and I know he's looking forward to it. I'm just praying every day that he still feels like going come Friday afternoon.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Blessed Beyond Measure

It's been 25 years and I am blessed beyond measure. I have been lucky enough to spend the last quarter-century with my soul-mate, my best friend, my strongest supporter, and the one who has given meaning to so much in my life and the lives of my children. I thank God that He brought me to Wichita, KS and steered me to the only apartment complex in town that would work out for us.


We've changed a lot in 25 years but that's the way it's supposed to be. We've each got a bit less hair than we had then and a few more pounds, but I still see the same man I married and I hope he still sees the same "girl" I was way back then, but with more wisdom and maturity than I possessed then. Growth is awkward and sometimes painful, but it must take place for life to be lived to its fullest measure.

We've had a lot of trials in 25 years – and a lot of wonderful experiences that I wouldn't trade for all the money in the world, even if it meant re-living the trials.


In 25 years we have learned to…
not sweat the small stuff – it will still be there tomorrow

Budget – and adjust the budget – again and again

Buy a few cars together and make a few mistakes along the way

Deal with many surgeries and life-threatening events. We've sat together for many hospitalizations and doctor appointments

Learn how to be poor an hour after we've been paid

Make our house a home – no matter where it was

Laugh lots - and often

Say good-bye to loved ones

Support each other in decisions that affected the whole family – even if we weren't 100% sure it would work out. They usually did but there were some bumps along the way.

Raise a blended family of six kids who love each other and consider each other siblings.

Stick it out even when leaving might have been the easier thing (at the time) to do. We both knew that we were here for each other for the long haul and did what it took to make it work.

Work together in all that we did

Compromise
Give 150%

Grow in love daily

Laugh at our mistakes, pick ourselves up, and proceed

Yes, we have physically changed a great deal in the last 25 years, but the one thing that has never changed is that we love each other. In fact, if it has changed at all, the love and respect we feel for each other has just deepened.







Thursday, August 13, 2009

25 years is BIG

I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I am looking forward to going to Branson but my mind thinks that something else should be going on, too. I remember my parents having a big 25th anniversary bash and one of my brothers (besides me, the only one to be married 25 years to the same person) had a big bash for his 25th. I feel a bit of a letdown. Spending the weekend with Ron (and we’re meeting some close friends there) will be really nice but celebrating this event with my family is also important.

Number 1 – no one thought we’d make it 25 months, let alone 25 years.
Number 2 – it’s a miracle that Ron is still alive to be able to celebrate at all.
Number 3 – I don’t have a good number 3, but didn’t want to stop with just two. {grin}

My mother’s health is too frail to come down here for a celebration and most of my siblings would probably not be able to make it. One will probably have to work, one will probably have to take his daughter to soccer/basketball/softball, etc. practice or tournaments, and one will probably just not reply at all. Plus, I have a couple of nephews who I’d like to invite so it would just be easier on everyone that if I want to celebrate I take the celebration there.

We could go to dinner but the tab but it would definitely be a BYOD (buy your own dinner). I’d like to go to The Melting Pot but it is very expensive (that’s what I’ve been told – never been there) and Ron probably would not enjoy it. I would thoroughly enjoy it but not sure that my mom or my husband would enjoy it. LOL – and I know that Isaiah would not. He’s way too picky.

So - I gave Amy the task of setting up some kind of celebratory dinner in KC, maybe down on the Plaza. Someplace nice enough to be special but not so nice that we can't afford it. We can also celebrate my mom's 79th birthday and my birthday as well. Actually, if we get right down to it, there's another anniversary and at least two more birthdays we could also be celebrating at the same dinner.

I'm looking forward to the big celebration.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Fantastic Caverns Trivia

When I told my mom that we were going to Fantastic Caverns for our anniversary, she gave me some interesting information...

Seems my great-grandfather (Richard Dowdy) and two of his sons (Claude and Ed) ran a Speakeasy in the caves during Prohibition. There's a building on the property that is now a community center, but it was the school my grandfather attended.

Very interesting...

Navy Poem

Amy was, and Shaun still is, in the Navy. I have been blessed to be able to spend time with each of them on their respective ships and I thoroughly loved it. I wished many times that I had followed the path of joining the military after I got my Associate Degree in Applied Science. I had plans to join the Air Force but my parents talked me out of it. There were a lot of extenuating circumstances as to why they didn't want me to go but I have been sorry most of my adult life that I didn't just "do it" anyway.

Amy has a new siggy line on her email that I thought was excellent. When I sent her the comment, she sent me the whole poem. It's so awesome that I had to post it here. I don't know who the author is and Amy didn't know who the author is. If anyone DOES know, I'd love to give him/her credit for it. It's an awesome piece.

I Was a Sailor Once

I liked standing on the bridge wing at sunrise with salt spray in my face and clean ocean winds whipping in from the four quarters of the globe.

I liked the sounds of the Navy - the piercing trill of the boatswains pipe, the syncopated clangor of the ship's bell on the quarterdeck, harsh, and the strong language and laughter of sailors at work.

I liked Navy vessels -- plodding fleet auxiliaries & service ships like the Ute and Emory S Land...and amphibs like Inchon and, sleek submarines like Haddock, Amberjack, & Finback and those steady solid aircraft carriers.

I liked the proud names of Navy Carriers: Midway, Lexington, Saratoga, Coral Sea, Lake Champlain, Valley Forge - - memorials of great battles won and tribulations overcome. I liked the lean angular names of Navy "tin-cans" and escorts like Spruance & Maddox - mementos of heroes who went before us.

And the others like San Jose, Los Angeles, St. Paul, & Chicago named for our cities and those named for counties like Harlan County and Park County

I liked the tempo of a Navy band.

I liked liberty call and the spicy scent of a foreign port.

I even liked the never ending paperwork and all hands working parties as my ship filled herself with the multitude of supplies, both mundane and to cut ties to the land and carry out her mission anywhere on the globe where there was water enough to float her.

I liked sailors...officers and enlisted men from all parts of the land, farms of the Midwest, small towns of New England, from the cities, the mountains the prairies, the swamps & the deserts...from all walks of life. I trusted and depended on them as they trusted and depended on me - for professional competence, for comradeship, for strength and courage. In a word, they were "shipmates"; then and forever.

I liked the surge of adventure in my heart, when the word was passed: ''Now Hear This'' or "Now set the special sea and anchor detail - all hands to quarters for leaving port", AND, I liked the infectious thrill of sighting home again, with the waving hands of welcome from family and friends waiting pier side.

The work was hard and dangerous; the going rough at times; the parting from loved ones painful, but the companionship of robust Navy laughter, the "all for one and one for all" philosophy of the sea was ever present.

I liked the serenity of the sea after a day of hard ship's work, as flying fish flitted across the wave tops and sunset gave way to night.

I liked the feel of the Navy in darkness - the masthead and range lights, the red and green navigation lights and stern light, the pulsating phosphorescence of radar repeaters - they cut through the dusk and joined with the mirror of stars overhead. And I liked drifting off to sleep lulled by the myriad noises large and small that told me that my ship was alive and well, and that my shipmates on watch would keep me safe.

I liked quiet mid-watches with the aroma of strong coffee -- the lifeblood of the Navy permeating everywhere.

And I liked hectic watches when the exacting minuet of haze-gray shapes racing at flank speed kept all hands on a razor edge of alertness.

I liked the sudden electricity of "General quarters, general quarters, all hands man your battle stations," followed by the hurried clamor of running feet on ladders and the resounding thump of watertight doors as the ship transformed herself in a few brief seconds from a peaceful workplace to a weapon of war -- ready for anything.

And I liked the sight of space-age equipment manned by youngsters clad in dungarees and sound-powered phones that their grandfathers would still recognize.

I liked the traditions of the Navy and the men and women who made them. I liked the proud names of Navy heroes: Halsey, Nimitz, Perry, Farragut, John Paul Jones and Burke. A sailor could find much in the Navy: comrades-in-arms, pride in self and country, mastery of the seaman's trade. An adolescent could find adulthood.

In years to come, when sailors are home from the sea, AND SO WE ARE,--We still remember with fondness and respect the ocean in all its moods - the impossible shimmering mirror calm and the storm-tossed green water surging over the bow. And then there will come again a faint whiff of stack gas, a faint echo of engine and rudder orders, a vision of the bright bunting of signal flags snapping at the yardarm with Sailors "manning the rail" in dress uniforms, a refrain of hearty laughter in the wardroom and chief's mess and on the mess decks.

Gone ashore for good we grow humble about our Navy days, when the seas were a part of us and a new port of call was ever over the horizon.

Remembering this, WE stand taller and say, "I WAS A SAILOR ONCE."
-Unknown

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Application essay

I had to write an essay on the importance of teaching. I decided I'd post it here, too and see what you all thought of it.

The Importance of Teaching

Charlene Law. Bill Grace. Kathy Gold. These are just a few of the many teachers who either directly, or indirectly, demonstrated to me the importance of teaching. You might ask why these three names stick in my mind above all of the other countless teachers I’ve come into contact with. Charlene Law was my sophomore English teacher and she nurtured and encouraged a love of reading that continues to this day. Bill Grace was my high school Music teacher and he taught me that it takes many subjects to create a well-rounded person and music was one avenue in which to shine. Kathy Gold was my sister and she left a legacy behind that impacted her students and their families for many, many years. In some instances, she taught two generations of the same family and the ideals and memories she instilled in all she came into contact with will continue to impact countless others.

The children in classrooms today are our future leaders, doctors, scientists, teachers, and everyday heroes. Included in this group of children are those from within my own family – nieces, nephews, children, and grandchildren. I often wonder where they would be tomorrow without the teachers of today. In fact, where will any of us be with this group of students without effective teachers? Can we rely on people to just inherently “know” the intricacies of a particular subject, how something works, or how a goal is accomplished? No, I don’t believe that we can. Just because there are a few who intuitively know how to figure something out, or how to understand an action or a set of instructions, there are many, many more who would never be able to comprehend the necessary components to be able to accomplish a task without interaction with a competent or well-trained and caring teacher.

Can you imagine a doctor trying to operate on a patient without the required tools that teachers provide? Or, imagine an architectural engineer trying to design a building to withstand a hurricane, a tornado, or an earthquake without the proper background. Those, plus many more, careers would be totally impossible without the valuable input from teachers on every level. Knowledge, and the desire for knowledge, is created and cultivated at an early age. Every teacher, at every level, has an important role to play in that quest for knowledge.
Teachers provide the foundation upon which every other thing in life is built. Do you know how to count and to make correct change? Someone had to teach you. Do you know how to read and to write? Someone had to teach you. Do you know how to evaluate and to use complex thought processes to figure out a situation? Someone probably had to teach you the skills necessary for such an action.

In reality, all I need to do to recognize the importance of teachers in today’s world – and all of the tomorrows to come – is to look at my six year old grandson and marvel at the changes and accomplishments that he has achieved and know that many of them would not have been possible without the teachers that he has already come into contact with. Isaiah, who was diagnosed with developmental delays, has been blessed to have outstanding teachers who recognized their importance in his life and how that would translate into the lives of those he touched.

My goal is to play the same type of role in the lives of others.

Feel free to send me your comments or suggestions. I'm sending this tomorrow.

&*%$, &*%$, &*%$

Use your imagination on what those symbols mean...

For those of you who have been following Ron's health issues, you know that within days of him being given permission to walk he developed a new blister. We've been going back and forth to the doctor for about three months with this one. It was healing.

So we thought. It's developed a very distinct smell - the smell that can only mean he's got infection in it. I clean it and I change the dressing, so I know it's being taken care of. The problem is that he pronates very badly on that foot and puts all of his weight when walking directly on that spot. Insurance had denied the doctor's request for a full contact brace to keep his foot in the correct walking position. They've changed their mind and says that they'll pay for it but he's got to get it healed up before he can walk again.

He has an appointment with the foot doctor on Thursday and until then, he's on walking restriction. None. That's the goal but that's impossible. He has to be able to move from point A to point B in the house. He doesn't want me to bring the scooter back in but I'm going to do so. He's pretty disappointed. So am I.

Ugh...

Sunday, August 2, 2009

I have decided...

I am going to go back to school. I really appreciated the comments my new online friends left for me. You're absolutely correct - I should follow "my" dreams now and I'm going to turn 53, 54, 55, (God willing) etc. whether I go back to school or not. No sense in putting off something and then two years from now wondering why I didn't go through with it.

So far, I've requested my transcripts, filled out a student data form, applied for student aid, and sent in an application for admission. I've checked the course descriptions and the course requirements. I think I have enough of the correct credits and classes to start the program this month.

So far, so good... Now, I just have to wait until I start getting answers back.

Patience, patience, patience... {sigh} Not my strong suit.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Contemplation

I will be 53 in August. I'm amazed that I'm really going to be that old. I don't always feel like I'm that old but when I look back at the decades of my life, I realize that I really AM that old. It's amazing.

I have a BS degree in Computer Information Systems and a MS degree in Management. I'm content with my career choice at this time but am finding myself being drawn in a new direction, a direction that has been buried and not allowed to be in existence for over 30 years. I want to return to school - evening and online classes. I'm not sure that I will but I believe that I am headed that direction.

I don't see retirement in my future any time soon - or even within the next decade. If that is the case, then continuing my education and possibly obtaining my teaching certificate does not seem like a bad idea. There are a lot of reasons that this makes sense, just as there are a lot of reasons that people would say I'm crazy.

I am, after all, almost 53. That can go either direction. Because I'm almost 53, I could be considered too old - just stay in the profession I'm in. Because I'm almost 53, I could be encouraged to follow my dreams - dreams that started over 30 years ago and I let others dictate my dreams and my future to me.

Because I am almost 53, I should be looking towards preparing for retirement. Because I am almost 53, I am looking towards preparing for retirement. Retirement for me will probably not come before the age of 65+. Do I want to spend the next 10+ years sitting behind a computer screen, or do I want to spend it engaging the minds of others?

What to do, what to do. Time to pursue the dream and make the passion a reality or time to stay put and let the dreams of youth belong to those who have come after me. My time has passed - or has it?

New addition to the family

My son, Shaun, and his wife, Jenny, were blessed with a new baby girl yesterday.

Kaitlyn JoAnne made her grand debut at 10:14 PST and weighed in at 6 lbs 14 oz. She was 19.5 inches long. The funny thing about her statistics are that she's the same weight as her brother, Alexander, but he was 20 inches long.

We are so thrilled to have another baby in the family and ECSTATIC that it's a girl. It's been 14 years since there was a baby girl born into this family. That's a long, long time!

Here are some pictures of our little princess:




Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Ring.... Ring..... Ring....

Ring…. Ring…. Ring…. Thank you for calling XYZ. How can I direct your call?

This is Teresa yada yada yada. I need to talk to someone regarding blah blah blah.

Sure, Joyce. Let me just get a little bit more information.

OK, but it’s Teresa. Not Joyce.

Oh – sure. Sorry about that. Now Shirley, I just need to get some more information.

Grrrr… What part of “Tuh-ree-suh” am I saying that even remotely sounds like Joyce or Shirley? I could see people hearing “Tracey” because I do have a bit of an accent and I may say my name kind of fast, but Joyce or Shirley? No way…

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

"I'm a size 2 - 4"

Did you happen to catch Oprah yesterday? Her guests were Valerie Bertinelli, Marie Osmond, and Star Jones. Valerie and Marie each had about 15 minutes of time and Star’s story took the rest. It was pretty interesting to watch but I think in the 15 minutes that Marie was being interviewed, she said she was a size 2 – 4 at least three times, and maybe four. I was born that size. Even when I’m at my skinniest, sickliest looking I’m no where near a size 2 – 4.

Call me crazy, but I like Marie Osmond and Valerie Bertinelli. I wasn't too familiar with Star Jones - only the negative stuff that I'd heard when she "refused" to discuss how she lost weight. It was her right to refuse to discuss it. It was no one's business but hers. I was totally on her side with that. After last night's interview, I can say that I like Star Jones, too. I think she's totally real and was very honest in her comments. She verbalized things that I'm sure many of us feel and are unable to verbalize.

Food can become your best friend and your worst nightmare - all at the same time. I've battled a weight problem my whole life - well, since puberty anyway. I've commented before how my dad, in his infinite wisdom, used to tell me that no one wanted a fat wife and I'd never get married. Obviously, he was wrong but between his comments, my brothers' comments, and my first husband's comments - the ground work was laid for me to be obsessed with food. I've hidden to eat, I've hidden things I've eaten, and I've hidden things to eat later. I've never been anorexic and I've never purged. But there have been times that I've really wished I had the guts to purge. And the guts to starve myself.

I've tried (among others):
  • Weight Watchers
  • Atkins
  • Cookie Diet
  • HMR liquid diet
  • Metabolife
  • Cabbage soup diet
  • MediFast
  • South Beach diet
  • Phen-Fen
  • many, many more...
I'd lose weight on all of them, but when I quit the diet and started eating again, the weight always came back. Usually with a few friends. Each time it was harder and harder to lose anything.

What I needed instead was a healthy approach to food and to eating. I think that I've made real strides in the past 18 months toward this goal. I still need to lose 30-40 pounds but having already lost 50 is a big plus to me. I've changed my wardrobe a couple of times because I've dropped at least four sizes. I still wear some things that are too big for me just because I can't see myself in a smaller size or I don't want things to cling to me. But, I know that some of the things I wear are just TOO big and should not be worn. I've put on a few things in the last month and decided they just had to go.

I would love to do either Jenny Craig or NutriSystem. The cost is prohibitive. I don't know how "normal" people who have to buy groceries for a family can afford to spend $300 a month on one person's food. I know I cannot. I've looked into the programs in the past and they are just out of the ball park for me. A couple of years ago, I bought Ron one month of NutriSystem because he thought he wanted to try it. He did not like the food so it lasted him more than one month. I liked the things so I ate what he didn't. Some of the stuff was icky but that's the chance you take.

I don't know how much Jenny Craig is, but I'm sure the cost is comparable to NutriSystem. I just need to figure out a system that will work for me and not break the bank. I love fresh produce (which is an "extra" on those plans anyway - in addition to the program cost) so could maybe build something around the available options in the area.

We shall see... I'd like to be headed toward my goal weight before the end of the year. That's my goal.

I haven't tried wiring my jaw shut. Maybe I should think about that choice.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

I feel...

Like crap.
Like *&%#.
Like *&%# on a shoestring.
Like *&%# on a shingle.
Like I've been run over by a Mac truck.
Like I've been gut kicked.
Like my head is going to explode.
Like my ears are going to implode.
Like my body has been trampled by a herd of elephants.
Like...

I think you get the picture.

Standard doses of medication don't usually do too much for me but with the hazards of over-dosing on prescription medications all too real, I'm hesitant to mix too much or take too much more than the prescribed amounts. I was prescribed Cheratussin AC 10-100MG/5ML cough syrup (1 tsp every six hours) and 500 mg Amoxicillin (1 caplet twice a day). I was assured that the cough syrup had a narcotic and, along with knocking out the cough, would make me sleepy. Well, that is partially true. It does knock out the cough - but only for about 2-3 hours (one dose lasted 4 hours). It has failed to help me sleep. In addition to the doses of the cough medicine, I've been forced to take Mucinex DM. That still doesn't totally clear up the congestion in my sinuses.

I don't do "congestion" very well. I suffer from claustrophobia and feeling like I can't breathe is a really big issue for me. I have visions of me being an 80 year old lady in a nursing home they put in a straight jacket because I've got a cold and can't breathe - so I have a panic attack. Panic attacks are totally awful for me and I don't know how to stop them. I can tell when one is coming on, but I can't stop it. I find it even hard to write about the things that cause one without feeling like I could have one. Why? Why? Why?

What in my life could have caused such a bad reaction to cause life-long problems? I know that when I was a kid one of my brothers used to torment me and physically/emotionally abuse me. I know that sounds odd - you don't think of siblings so much as abusers but more just sibling rivalry, but he really was abusive. He thought he was being funny but he was being cruel. One of the things he used to do was sit on my chest and pin my arms to the ground with his knees while he tapped my chest with his finger. He called it "Chinese Torture Test" to see how long I could take it. Just visualizing that in my mind is nearly enough to drive me right into panic mode. That had to have happened over 40 years ago. Could this one thing be the whole source of my anxiety attacks? I don't know but it's really been a life-long crippling item.

I take Celexa daily but I don't think that is helping in this area. I used to take Welbutrin but that didn't seem to help either. I'm not depressed but I definitely have anxiety. I've put on clothes before that were very close-fitting and immediately felt like if I didn't get them off, I was going to have to cut them off. Luckily, I've not been to the point where I've taken scissors to something, but I've been very close. I can't wear turtlenecks, choker necklaces, or items of clothing that are form fitting. I want things loose and flowing - away from my body.

Back to the congestion... I'm not sure how I'm supposed to function at work tomorrow if I'm not any better than I am today. It hurts to blink. It hurts to turn my head. It hurts to cough. I just plain hurt. I have less than 3.5 days of PTO left for the rest of the year. That's not good in any body's books. I had left myself 5 days but being sick for 1.5 days took a chunk away that I was planning on using for "fun" later. I have one day in October I want to use in Kansas City for a scrapbook convention. I want to use 1/2 day in August for our anniversary. That would bring me down to less than 2 days. I definitely can't get sick any more this year, and I definitely can't take any time off for Thanksgiving or Christmas. Darn the luck.

I guess I'll take it one breath - one sniffle - at a time.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Home from my trip

We arrived safely back home from our trip and it's been a busy week trying to catch up on things. On top of that, I brought a bug back with me and by Wednesday night, I knew I was getting sick. I managed to work about three hours on Thursday but didn't even get out of bed Friday except to go to the doctor. I have bronchitis, ear infection, sinus infection, and "almost" pneumonia. Coughing makes me feel like my head is going to explode. It's been loads of fun. My body aches in places I forgot I owned. I feel like I've been run over by a truck. I thought sure I had the flu, but the test came back negative. That's good. I have a better chance of not passing this to Ron. So far, so good.

I think I got so sick so quickly because of all the excess stress I've been under. My body just couldn't fight the bug and it decided I needed to rest. LOL! This is not the kind of rest I had in mind. hehehe!

Work is going OK. We're really busy right now with several deadlines looming over us. Me being sick right now was not good timing on any count. But, you do what you've got to do and Vanessa was very understanding when I told her I was sick. In fact, she sent me home on Thursday saying I sounded awful and I shouldn't be there. Since I sit right across from a pregnant lady, we were all concerned that I was contagious and we don't want her getting sick. She's due the end of this month and being sick while pregnant is not a good thing.

My house was in pretty good shape for two guys being home alone. The kitchen was pretty clean and the rest of the house was definitely better than I thought it would be. I need to clean now but part of that is because of all the things I unpacked and brought in. The spare bedroom is a total mess with suitcases and clothes all over the place. I just haven't felt like doing anything this week at all.

Ron and I decided that we needed to do something "fun" every month or so by driving somewhere on a Friday night or Saturday morning, seeing the sights, spending the night, and then coming home. With our anniversary coming up in August, I thought that would be a good time to plan our first weekend outing. Neither of us have seen Fantastic Caverns, which is near Branson, MO and Ron's never eaten at Lambert's, so I decided that we'd try doing a Branson weekend. Fantastic Caverns is a great way for Ron to see some sights without having to walk.

We are booked at a hotel for Friday and Saturday night the weekend after our anniversary - which just happens to be the weekend of my 53rd birthday. We've got some good friends who live near Springfield, so I asked if they wanted to meet us there and they are going to. It should be an agreeable weekend of fun and fellowship. It's about a five hour drive for us so will leave work a bit early on Friday. Driving the dark curvy roads in that area is not fun so trying to get there before the sun goes down will be a plus.

Ron sees the foot doctor and the knee doctor on Monday. He's going to try driving it himself. I'm not too sure about it but it would be nice if he could take over the driving for his appointments. We'll try it this one time and see how he does. The biggest thing is parking and getting into the office from the car. I usually drop him off at the door and he grabs a wheelchair. Then, after I park I come back and wheel him into the office.

On the 23rd he sees the eye specialist. He is overdue for having his eyes checked. I'll have to drive him for that one because they'll dilate his pupils. On the 27th, I see the cardiologist. I had a heart cath last year, which was normal, and then I have to be re-checked yearly.

So... This was kind of a boring post. I guess they can't all be funny and entertaining. Better luck next time. LOL!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Doing better

I must be in a better frame of mind. Maybe it's the weather. Maybe it's the double-height air mattress. Maybe it's the coffee pot. Maybe - just maybe - it's all of the above.

I got Isaiah and I a hotel for Sunday night in Seattle. I thought about going back to LaQuinta, since I know that is close to the airport. But, I wasn't in the mood to spend $109 plus taxes and fees for a place to sleep, so I went to hotels.com and to Priceline. I ended up offering $65 for a three-star hotel and my price was accepted. I decided that I'd try three stars first and if that was declined, I'd switch to 2.5 stars. I didn't want to spend any more than $65 before taxes and fees and the cheaper hotels on hotels.com site did not seem to be in any decent areas or they had bad reviews. Since I'd be by myself with Isaiah, I wanted to find something a bit safer. The Hilton Airport and Convention Center accepted my bid (their published rate for that night is $179). I was amazed! But, I am sure we will enjoy the conveniences of that hotel and being so close to the airport.

We need to be at the airport no later than 9:00 am and since it is about an hour drive (with no traffic), I didn't want to fight inbound traffic on Monday morning. Plus, I figured we could go into Seattle early enough on Sunday to either go to the aquarium or to the zoo. If Shaun and Jenny don't feel like going with us, then we'll just have to say good-bye early and go off by ourselves. I hope they do come because it will be more fun to have other adults there. I asked about them getting a hotel room, too but I think they'll probably head back home in the late afternoon or so. Not sure what rush hour will be like but that's OK.

The weather has also cooled down so sleeping is much more comfortable and the days are more tolerable. It's been misting rain a bit today and is very nice. I wanted to take Isaiah swimming but I think that it's too cool for that. He turned blue the other day when it was hot so I'm sure that today would be a bit much on his system. We will get out and do something though. Just not sure what. I took him to the local mall yesterday to the arcade and then went to Penney's to get him a jacket. Being from the Kansas heat, we did not expect to need a jacket so we didn't pack either of us one. I will be OK on the dock but I know that he will get cold.

I took Isaiah to GameStop the other day and let him pick out a new game for his Nintendo DS. He's been very good about entertaining himself. Amy sent him some activity books but Alexander wants to be right with him and imitating everything he does, so we haven't gotten them out.

Ron said that Keith has spent every night with him except one, so that is good. Keith has changed his foot dressing, brought in the mail, and taken out the trash. He also took Ron to the grocery store, so that was another good thing. I'm sure they both enjoyed having more food in the house. LOL, Ron said his stash of food did go down faster than expected since he was feeding another boy - a healthy eater at that. Keith likes to cook so I'm sure he's taking very good care of his dad.

I will be glad to see my big boy on Friday and will be glad to see my other boys next week. Ron sounds like he's in better spirits and, since Keith is with him, is not as lonely. He knows that he'll have someone with him every night. It's nice that Keith is willing to put his social life on hold for 10 days to stay with his dad. We appreciate it.

Isaiah is looking forward to seeing his mom. This is the longest he's been away from her since 2005, when he came to live with us while she finished her tour in the Navy. I had him for three months from the end of December 2005 until the end of March 2006. He was much younger then and not as verbal, so he didn't realize that he was missing her then. Or, maybe he did and just internalized it. Who knows...

Monday, July 6, 2009

Vacation? Not really

Even though I am thoroughly enjoying seeing Alexander and visiting with Jenny, I am not enjoying what would commonly be called a vacation. They live over an hour away from Seattle and because she is nearly to term, she does not feel like doing anything. That's OK, but there's nothing to do in this town, either for me or for Isaiah. Luckily, he is enjoying playing his Nintendo DS and playing with Alexander. Plus, he also enjoys Noggin, which is on all day.

I, on the other hand, am terribly bored. There is only so much Noggin I can take. There is no air conditioning in the apartment and only today has the temperature dipped low enough to make the day tolerable. Because the apartment is so small, and overrun with toys and toddler things, there is no place to really sit. The only chair available is directly in Alexander's path to where he likes to play with his cars and there's no place to move it to. There is no storage space and no place to really relax. I feel like I'm going to go home more stressed than when I came out. I love my family but there is only so much of this that I can take.

I cleaned up the kitchen and put away food that was still sitting in grocery sacks; I cleaned up the bathroom and wiped down the sink so I could put out toiletry items. I cleaned off the balcony of cardboard boxes (they have a recycle bin with the trash) and carried out four trash bags of refuse. All things that Jenny just hadn't felt like doing. I told Shaun that he had to come home prepared to clean up and pare down as there was really no space for Kaitlyn or her things. I would think the stress of having too much clutter in too small of a space would be hard on Jenny but she's (luckily) able to block it out. Not I... I told her that I am a minimalist and I don't want to offend her, but the clutter is almost too much for me to handle.

I got a couple of tubs and started putting Alexander's toys in them in the evening, but once they're picked up there is no place to put them. They seriously need Clean Sweep or some other professional organizer to come in and help out. I also told Shaun that they should consider a housekeeper to come in twice a month to help out, but before that could happen, the housekeeper would need to be able to find a place to put the stuff. Until they sort and pare down, that won't happen. It doesn't help that the apartment complex won't let them hang anything on the walls (no holes whatsoever). I'm going to try and get some Command hooks and see how they work. Amy's used them before with no residue left behind so I think they'll work.

The kitchen is about the most unusable space I have ever in my life seen. No counter top space, no cabinet space, and no storage space. You can either have a place for your dishes or your food; not both. It's pathetic. Jenny likes Chinese snacks and because the closest Chinese market is over an hour away, she buys lots. There is no place to put them so they're just in sacks in the corner of the kitchen floor.

I didn't come to clean or to offend so I just sit. Because, if I truly cleaned then I would surely offend. I need a vacation from my vacation.

{sigh}

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Leaving Ron Behind

Isaiah and I are off on our big adventure together. I was worried that he'd be hard to travel with at night because he'd be tired. He was amazing. He did sleep for about 3 hours on the 2nd plane ride, but woke up and actually walked for me. He was a big help at the hotel and was just a lot of fun for me. Of course, he charmed everyone. The lady behind us on the first plane ride said she was very impressed with him. Also on that flight was a young black lady (age 19) who has MS. She was traveling with her mother and when the mom sat down, Isaiah said, "Hello, my name is Isaiah. I like your hair." She was flabbergasted and told him thank you. The daughter, Marva, chatted off and on with Isaiah and they both said how cute and well-behaved he was.

The second flight was the longest but he did amazingly well on them both.

I hated to leave Ron behind. He feels so bad right now that I was really worried that he was going to go into kidney failure or something while I'm gone. We spent Thursday getting him ready for my trip as much as getting me ready for my trip. I changed his pain patch, dressed his foot, loaded up his pill dispenser with 5 days worth of pills (Keith knows he's got to do the rest of the days, change the pain patch every 3 days, and dress the foot every other day). I got Ron's laundry all done and put away so he'll be able to find things. Stocked his cabinet with extra toilet paper (if he ran out he wouldn't know where to look), went to the store and bought things he could fix in the microwave, bought him fresh fruit and his favorite soft drink - Sprite Zero. Then, to make him feel extra-special, I stopped at Sonic and got him a Route 44 Diet Limeade with extra lime.

At one point during the course of the day he looked like he felt really bad and when I asked him what was wrong, he just started crying. "I'm going to miss you while you're gone." Ah.... I felt so bad for him that I tried to talk him into coming, knowing as I was doing so that I'd have a hard time coming up with matching tickets and that taking care of him and Isaiah would be almost more than I could do. As much as I hated to leave him behind, I don't think I could have done both of them.

I made sure that Keith knew how despondent he was and he promised me that he would spend more time than not with his dad. That is a relief. Amy will be back from western Kansas on Tuesday so she'll be home with him after school that day. Then she can work out a schedule with Keith to decide who is staying with him what nights of the week. Isaiah and I return on the 13th.

I am calling him every night.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Tammy's Place Blog Candy

Tammy's Place is a blog I found a while back and she's got great stuff on her site. Right now, to celebrate her one year anniversary of blogging, she's offering some great blog candy.

I haven't quite figured out how some blogs just grow and grow - and the readers multiply like rabbits. And then, I see other blogs that are pretty stagnant. I write as often as I can and I hope that what I write is somewhere above the "boring" line. Some posts are better than others, but truth in blogging is important.

My style of writing may not be as entertaining as some and when I read other blogs I sometimes think to myself, "why didn't I write it like that?" LOL! Maybe next time.

Maybe not...

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Comments...

I have decided that although I want to always be nice to people, and to not go looking for things to disagree over, I'm no longer going to just let people talk to me any way they want to without me saying something back that lets them know that I am no longer a door mat.

I have someone I am very close to who has a 7 month old baby. Said baby is quite large and has outgrown his rear-facing car seat. My innocent comment was how cute he looked in his seat but mom may want to look into the laws of her state because most states require rear-facing car seats for infants under 12 months of age and 20 pounds. The baby has to meet both criterion - not one or the other. And, to make sure that I wasn't misinformed, I went searching to make sure I wasn't giving incorrect information. When I found a site that had a lot of information regarding car seats (for all states), I sent her the link. She has comment moderation enabled on her blog so the "how cute" comment was never allowed to be posted.

My return comment was "I have done my research. I don't need help unless I ask for it."
Ouch... Just trying to make sure your child was protected in the event of (heaven forbid) an accident.

My reply: Well, excuse me for being concerned about ****'s welfare. It won't happen again. Kiss my ***. (And, yes - I said that word. Not because I wanted to be nasty but I don't tolerate my own kids talking to me like that and I'm not going to tolerate some other 21 year old talking to me like that, either.)

"You have been hanging out with ******* too much. I just said I don't need help on this subject."

It was the way you said it. I don't need help unless I ask for it. Sometimes people don't know they need help on something until someone with more experience points it out. You could have said thanks for your concern but I made sure he would be OK before I did this NOT what and how you said it.

"For your information, that big boy car sear is rear facing. It's a convertible and that's why I got it."

OK, that is good but you have forward facing in the car and in the seat belt. It is natural to think you are transporting him in this fashion. Instead of getting touchy you could just try to be nice in your comments and rephrasing before you comment. And for your information, I am not hanging out with ****** so phooey on you! hahahaha. (The last paragraph was intended to show that I'm not angry with her but I expect her to treat people who are older than her with respect. In case you are wondering, we are related so it's not like I'm giving advice to some individual just for the heck of it. I was truly concerned that she was unaware of car seat laws - after all, she's not had a baby before.)

After looking at her personal "page" I see that I am not the only person who was concerned and said something. Just because she says it's convertible and that's why she got it, does not explain that she's hooked it up into her car as a rear facing - or that she just photographed him in it as front facing to show how big he was. A little bit of explanation would have been great. Her comment online is "what's worse - having your baby in rear facing even though he exceeds the weight limit or forward facing because he's under a year old." And, she included the addition that it's a rhetorical question so to keep our opinions to ourselves. She did actually get some advice to do what she wants because he's her baby. {sigh}

The problem is that the law says rear facing until over 12 months and over 20 pounds. Unfortunately, doing what's best for baby isn't always what makes them happy or completely comfortable. Many places are plugging for rear-facing until the baby is two years old. Convertible car seats will have to be changed to accommodate these growing legs because that would be very uncomfortable. My comment back was that hard decisions today make easier decisions later. Kids are going to want to not wear seat belts later or to not be in car seats later so making them do what's safest for them now may be what has to be done. Make a decision today that is for their benefit and decisions later might not be so hard. She deleted all comments that did not support her decision in what she did.

I just read a post from someones Facebook page.... We must all suffer from one of two pains - the pain of discipline now or the pain of regret later. I've had it both ways and I think that the pain of discipline now is much easier to bear.

It is so very true and so very appropriate. My comments were not meant to intrude or to offend - but to provide information that she might not have had. One day she may learn that people aren't trying to tell her what to do when they offer an opinion or a suggestion. Some people may actually know what they are talking about and are just sharing information. Some day... but I won't hold my breath and I won't be talked to with rudeness without saying something back.