Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Keep on keepin' on

I am definitely in a better frame of mind this morning. Ron apologized for being thoughtless and ordering the pizza when I’d gone to the trouble of getting stuff for him, fixing chili for him, and putting in a dish ready to be heated. He used the excuse that pizza just sounded so good and he ordered it. I know he figures that he’s got social security money, his retirement money, and his mom’s annuity money coming in – what harm is it in him spending a little bit of that on himself. There’s no harm in it. I spend a “little bit” on him every month – groceries, doctor’s visits, the house payment, car payment, car insurance, health insurance, utilities, and other incidental items like the shirts I just bought him last month because he needed some and they were on sale.

I did some calculating this morning on what it would cost to rent a hotel room for the week we’d be in Washington this summer for Shaun’s homecoming. Based on what I can find for hotel rates, I don’t think Ron and I will be able to go. Ron’s never been to a homecoming so it wouldn’t be fair of me to say “we can’t both go, so I’m going without you.” And, he can’t go by himself because he’d never make it from the airport to the hotel.

With his ongoing medical problems, and him probably needing surgery on his left knee, I planned to take FMLA (time off without pay) to conserve my PTO (although if I’m not going anywhere this summer, not much sense in trying to conserve it) and since life is stretched to the max as it is, I don’t see me being able to save over $700 for a hotel and then another $200 or so for a rental car. Even if Ron could get from point A to point B on his own, he can’t manage the scooter on his own and can’t manage medications, CPAP, or a host of other things without help. We have to have a hotel room because he’d not be able to get up the stairs to get into Shaun and Jenny’s apartment. Plus, the apartment is so small, it would be just too many people there. We’d have to have a rental car that would hold the scooter (which is very hard to take apart and put back together – so we’d have to rent a smaller one or maybe borrow one, if even possible). So – we’ll just have to be content to see them when they come to Kansas after Kaitlyn is born.

We’re just in a Catch-22 situation with no way out. Ah well… such is life. You play the hand you’re dealt and make the best of it. I try to keep it upbeat but you can tell from reading my blog that I do have my moments of despair. We’ve all got them and the only way to really get past those moments is to admit they’re there – and then petition God for more faith and sustenance to get you through them.

I honestly cannot fathom how people who don’t have some kind of faith and a Higher Power to look to make it through daily challenges – and especially through the more intense challenges, such as the illness of a loved one, the death of a loved one, or any of the other countless challenges we face during our lives.

Thank God for God and His never-ending grace in my life.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Should I, should I, should I???

Should I worry about him ordering and eating pizza – or just let it go?
Should I just keep on keeping on?
How do I counteract such activity when I feel like it’s adding to his problems?
Should I just go buy a bunch of snacks and stuff for him to have at the house? Wouldn’t that be telling him I’ve given up? I just don’t know what avenue to take with this. I have so many thoughts and I feel like I’m being negative when I write them down. I don’t want to be negative. I really want to write positive things down, but it’s harder and harder some days to find the positive.

I told him on the way to the doctor’s about how hard it is to keep a budget under control when it’s so full of ordering out. He was asking if there was a diet limeade in his future but since we were on the way to his foot appointment, I said not at this particular moment. Then, when we got there he asked me if I had enough change to get him a diet Dr. Pepper. I did, so I did – and figured that the diet limeade was no longer an issue. I told him how I’ve not spent any money at the deli (except once) all year and that people go out to eat all the time but I don’t – I stay in so I don’t spend any money. I explained that I’ve probably not spent $5 in the machines all year and that’s with buying water a couple of times. I only drink Starbucks when Amy buys it (I have bought it once). I said it’s just hard to stay on top of things with the constant flow of money going out to fast food places. So, on the way home I asked him if I put him some chili in the microwave bowl, with the lid, if he could heat it up for himself for lunch. He said sure. I ate a bowl of cereal and asked him what I could get him. He chose to have two granola bars. I got him a gallon of water, fixed myself a lunch and headed out the door.

I wasn’t checking his account but I was checking the main one and saw the $50 I put in his account on Friday was down to $19. I’m just fried. I called him up and said “I guess the conversation we had on the way to the doctor’s went in one ear and out the other.” He said it didn’t but he ordered two p’zones, a 2-litre of diet Pepsi, and a medium cheese pizza – figuring that would be good to feed whoever was here tonight. He was hungry and says he was thinking ahead.

I cleaned the little tomatoes for him and he said he was eating on those. I am just so ticked about him and food. He can just eat himself to death. I’m absolutely FINISHED with trying to help him. I mean it. He doesn’t care any more about himself and my effort and what I have to do, and what he’s doing for the future, then I cannot let myself care either. It sounds harsh, but it’s tough love. I cannot let him destroy me while he’s in the process of destroying himself.

I probably shouldn’t say stuff like that. So – there… I took it all back.

Seriously, the man has got to be insane to think that this behavior is OK. It’s putting him more at risk for complications. He’s already having problems with weight gain. I am sure he’s depressed and depressed people either don’t eat or they eat too much. He’s got to be in the latter. I honestly don’t know where else I can either cut corners, or how to have the stuff in the house that he will fix. It seems that no matter where I put the stuff, he’s always got the excuse that he couldn’t find anything to eat or there wasn’t anything there to eat.

Note: He called me later at work and apologized. Said he realized I was scrimping and cutting back, and he blows that much money on pizza and he could see that it was not something he should have done. I did stop at Target on the way home and bought snacks, microwave soup, Kashi GoLean cereal, 100 calorie packs of different things, and some peanuts. Hopefully, he'll be able to "find" something that interests him.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Snow Removal

Between us, Ron and I have five children who live in this area. Not one phone call from the bunch of them to see if we could even get out of our garage.

One worked yesterday, one was in Hesston snowed in, one doesn’t work, another probably worked, and the last one never calls on a good day so why I’d think he’d call on a bad day is beyond me.

I think they all figure that since Amy lives here, she can do it. Amy is never home. When she is home, she’s sleeping or reading or doing homework. We haven’t really needed too much in the way of snow removal this year but each of the times we have, I’ve been the one to take care of it. Amy shoveled Isaiah a path to the bus one time.

Although I try to not let it interfere with what I have to do, I do have a physical disability (only one balance nerve that sometimes forgets to work) and I really have no business on ice. I’ve fallen in the past and really hurt myself (once required rotator cuff repair; another time broke my finger, sprained my ankle, and my hip). I fell off the stairs this morning and now my left wrist and ankle hurt. Not bad, but I’m aware of it. My back hurts from the activity. Not bad, but I’m aware of it, too.

I took pictures out the back but I didn’t take pictures out the front before I started working on it. Here are the pictures out the back.

These pictures I took after I’d already shoveled as much as I could. The tape measure shows how deep it was against the garage door, all the way across. This portion I didn’t shovel away. I only cared about getting what stays in the shade shoveled off. The rest will melt without any assistance. The snow on the steps was up to the level of the inside stoop. I couldn’t tell where one step ended and the other started. That’s how I fell. Got too close to the edge of one and fell the rest of the way down. Good thing there was snow on top of the ice.

I think I’ll spend the rest of the afternoon resting my poor, old, tired body.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Let’s face it…

What Not To Wear is never going to come calling. It's up to me to determine what to wear and to be responsible for obtaining it. That's OK. I'm quite used to doing things on my own. I just don't know HOW to achieve this on my own but I will do my best.
I'm watching one today (since I'm snowed in) and feel so in tune with the girl on this episode. There are a few differences between us, but the main one is she's getting to figure out things for her body at a much younger age. She is 29; I am 52. She feels that her clothing controls her and her decisions on what she does. I feel the same. She has let clothing hold her back from attending functions; I have as well. She has a wardrobe of "hoodies" that she feels covers her problems. My security blanket has been my T-shirts. She has items that convey she gives up; I do, too. She's a bit on the larger side and gives the impression that she believes she should not look nice because of her size. Sounds familiar to me...

I decided to go through my wardrobe, take pictures, and post them along with my comments. If someone who has good advice has something to offer, I welcome the suggestions. If you have rude comments, please save them. I say enough mean and demeaning things to myself that I don't need that type of help. Since I've lost 60 pounds (I do still need to lose at least 25 more) I've had to change my wardrobe at least twice. I've given all of my larger clothes away - some of which were expensive and worn one-two times as I was transitioning. The person who received them appreciates it as she is also transitioning into a smaller size. But, it doesn't help the pocket to have to go back and buy more. Thankfully, I have access to Amy's clothes that she can no longer wear. She's also lost some weight and her jeans from last year fit me this year.

Tops are a bit different. I have more upstairs and since I've had more children and abdominal surgeries, her blouses don't fit me. That sends me back to T-shirts. My arms are hideous so I try to cover them as much as possible. I have biceps from lifting the wheelchair and electric scooter (and the ramp, which weighs about 75 pounds). My triceps are still very flabby and I don't know how to fix that.

I have no butt. It's flat. I am wider than I'd like to be and my thighs are just so-so. I need to start walking again (I know... I really do) but when I get home in the evening, walking is the farthest thing from my mind. I'm not an early morning person so getting up earlier is pretty much out of the question. I could walk at work when the rest of the group goes on break but I don't make that choice. I don't know why. I really don't.

So... here are the pictures and my comments. (I know – I should have cleaned the mirror first, but I didn’t think of it and once I realized how many water spots were on it, it was too late and I wasn’t re-doing the clothes and the pictures. Maybe some day – but not this day.)

DSC_0004This lovely shot is to display my arms. I hate my arms. I think they make me look old.

DSC_0008My legs aren’t too bad. Not great – but not too shabby. They could be improved upon and once I start walking again, that will happen. I don’t have much of a butt, though.DSC_0009

Now, here are some lovely wardrobe pictures.


The top three pictures are of just a few tops. The bottom four pictures show (left to right, top to bottom) my jeans, my tops, my camisoles (for under my tops) and some work shirts (with the company logo on them), and my T-shirts. I wear most of them and sometimes I wear them to work. My office is very casual and jeans are mostly worn. We can wear Capri pants in the summer.


This series of photos are of some of the outfits on me. I’m really not impressed with any of them. My arms either look too big or my butt looks too flat, or the pants are saggy in the backside. If I had tops that covered the backside, I’d wear them.

DSC_0005I’m obviously trying to look cute in this top. It’s got a little Empire waist seam, some decoration on the neckline, and some pattern to the top itself. It’s two layers, with the decoration on the outside layer. The inside is solid black.
DSC_0006This top I bought last summer to wear to our July 4th family reunion. I don’t know if I’ll wear it this summer or not.fam-reunion1
I definitely don’t fill it out as much as I did then, but it still doesn’t look too good on me. I may not have any choice in the matter if it’s all that I have.
DSC_0007Another shot of those lovely arms. They’re not as bad this year as they were last year. I can look at them and not think I’m going to throw up.
DSC_0011 DSC_0012

Here’s another lovely shirt.

The picture is really bad; the shirt is not that awful looking. Close, but not quite. I thought this would be really cute; it’s a size smaller than I usually buy in my tops so I thought it would fit better. It doesn’t. So, I tried again with the other green shirt. It’s too big on the shoulders and keeps showing my straps. I’m not a “free and easy” kind of person who thinks it’s OK to show my undergarments.

This shirt came in more than one color – so I bought more than DSC_0014one color. I’m only showing the pink but I also have it in black. The little rhinestones down the front and the “faux” camisole underneath were things that caught my attention. Plus, the sleeves were a bit more substantial than a lot of things I have been able to find. I hate those little cap sleeves that cover nothing and draw attention to problem areas.

DSC_0021I really like this top. The jeans are too big but I wear them anyway.DSC_0022
They’re kind of baggy in the rear and they’re very loose around the waist. I have a pair just like them in khaki and another in black.

I found some more pictures of myself wearing this brown top. These were taken last Labor Day.


october1 Here’s one of my lovely T-shirt outfits. I wear this a lot – even though it’s too big. This picture was taken in October.

This blouse I also wear frequently. I love the october2 sparkle of it. This picture was also taken in October. I’ve lost a little bit more weight since then – maybe 15 pounds. I still wear the tops pictured though.

I tried to find more pictures of my wardrobe, but no luck. I’m not one to have my picture taken because I have such a “positive” self-image. I have decided fairly recently, though, to just suck it up and get in the picture. I don’t want my family to look back at pictures in the years to come and ask why I wasn’t there. I know that I’m an important part of their lives and I shouldn’t let my clothing (or my body image) dictate whether or not I’m participating in life.

I did find some lovely hair shots. I’ve had the same hair style (with very little variation) for 30 years. This past summer, Amy talked me into getting it cut short and letting it go straight. I do miss my curly hair but I don’t miss the cost of keeping it curly. I can’t afford to keep it colored so it’s going gray. Oh well… I think I look pretty good for 52 (almost 53) so if I’m gray, then I’m gray.

all hair

The last picture is my hair today. Incidentally, I still have the T-shirt in the first picture – and I still wear it.

What a great opportunity - WASTED!

Just think - the youth group in a church, going out to the homes of the elderly, shut-in, and handicapped and volunteering to shovel the drive and/or sidewalk. Or - having a fund-raising event of going out and asking for donations to shovel the drive and/or sidewalk.

What a great way they could show God's love and compassion for others by making themselves useful. Our church did that when I was growing up and when my kids were little we frequently sent them to the neighbors to see if they needed anything.

Neighbors being neighborly, family checking on family, Christians reaching out to others. What a concept. Wish I knew some people like that. (We've lived here since December 2007; our next-door neighbors and the ones directly across the street from them have known about Ron's health struggle - even saw the ambulance last summer when he nearly died - and have never asked if there was anything I needed or if they could do anything. The neighbors across the street are business partners with Ron's son-in-law and they've never even inquired about how Ron was. At least the ones next door have asked when they saw me outside how he was getting along and have said for me to let them know if I needed something. I'm the kind of person that if you don't offer directly to do something, I will do my best to not ask you unless I know that I'm just completely in over my head.)

Makes me wish I knew a good Mormon youth group. I know those kids are willing to work and help others. Mormons are a great example of how you should treat your fellow man (woman, child, etc.) without regard to religion or color. I know they're hard workers because I had a group of young Mormon men clean up a back yard for me - and would not accept a dime in repayment. They did better work FOR FREE than the other people I had previously HIRED had done.

I just spent 30-45 minutes chopping away the ice from against my garage door and about 2 feet of my driveway. I figure if I absolutely have to get out, I can get over the remaining hump and out into the drive. The ice and snow against the door was about six inches deep and it's tapered off as it's gone toward the street. I was trying to get as far out as the roof overhang so the sun would have an opportunity to melt what was left.

It's not happening today. It may not happen tomorrow. I'm too old for this and not really in the best of shape or health. Irregular heartbeats started kicking in as soon as I got winded. I leaned my head on the shovel handle for about five minutes until I could get the rate back to where it should be and started the chop/shovel routine again.

We'll see how it looks tomorrow. I think church is out for me in the morning.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

400 calories

I bought miniature powdered sugar-covered doughnuts tonight. There are 24 doughnuts in the bag; the serving size is 4 doughnuts and 200 calories. The thought was that Isaiah liked these and I was thinking about getting him a treat when I picked them up.

I ate one; Ron at NINE! And that's only because I took the bag away from him. When I said what the serving size is, and the amount of calories, he said, "woo... that's 400 calories that I've eaten today."

I asked him why he'd only eaten 400 calories today and he said "there wasn't anything to eat."

If I hadn't been hungry, I would have tossed my dinner and left the room. He made me so mad! I showed him (again) the other day (after hearing the "there's nothing to eat" comment too many times) where things were. I had moved stuff from the pantry to the lazy susan and cabinet so he could get to them easier - and made it a point to show him where things were. There's canned soup, canned chili, canned fruit, and vegetables. In the freezer there are lean pocket sandwiches, single serving packages of frozen vegetables, and several other things.

I cannot believe he had the audacity to say there wasn't anything to eat. Well, he's right if he thinks there wasn't any chips, or cookies, or soda, or candy that he could have gotten to. There wasn't fresh fruit, but there was canned and frozen. He didn't have any money in his account to order pizza (or p'zone) so in his mind, there wasn't any food.

I'm sick to death of it. I realize I'm no Susie-homemaker, but I'm doing the best I can. I do have just a little bit on my mind. I know he really misses Jenny because she kept snacks and stuff in the house the month she was here (that's not the only reason but she did get him any snack food that he wanted and an extra large diet limeade almost every day). She spent a lot of money on snacks and Ron really enjoyed it. LOL - she spoiled him!! I don't really know what else I can do or how I can change things. He really doesn't see how he stresses me over the things he says and does.

I think if he doesn't get a clue and shut up, one of us is going to be really sorry because one of us is going to say things that might be regretted later.

Wouldn't know who that might be though.

It's only three cents...

I needed to go to the store and since we might get bad weather, I stopped at the store closer to my work. One of the items I added to my cart was vine-ripened tomatoes. They looked good and they were on sale if I used my Dillon's plus card. I *always* use my Dillon's plus card.

I got all my shopping completed and waited my turn to check out. The clerk (Denise) was in training but she was doing a pretty good job. It was horrendously busy in there and she was not being flustered at all. But, she put the wrong code in so the tomatoes rang up as scallions (with a total price of $3.89). She couldn't get it to reverse so she had to call the manager over to have an override.

The weight of the tomatoes going in was 1.30 pounds; the weight of the credit was 1.29 pounds - a difference of three cents. I told the manager that I was being charged $3.89 but he had only credited $3.86. His response - it's ok; it's only three cents. My response - yes, but I'm paying you three cents more than you're crediting me back. He said he just put in the credit for the amount and the weight so maybe the weight was off on one or the other. Yes, I say - but I've been charged more than you're taking back off. I didn't buy scallions; I bought tomatoes. I should be credited with the correct amount and not an incorrect amount.

He walked away! I could not believe it. This was a MANAGER!!

I just looked at the clerk and the sacker and said I was certainly glad the difference wasn't a couple of dollars. They just stood there, not saying anything. I asked them again - yes, it's only three cents and I'm not trying to make a big deal of three cents but did they understand what I was even saying??? The manager should have had the smarts to realize that if $3.89 was charged and the credit showed -$3.86, there was something wrong. In essence, I paid for the clerk's finger on the sack because when he did the credit, she was standing away from the register. It's only three cents to me, but how many other customers pay for a finger resting on the produce or some such thing? Three cents charged to me, times XX number of customers a day, could be a really tidy profit for the store.

The more I thought about it, the more irritated I've become. The guy should have stood there until he figured out why the thing was off – or manually put in another credit. If it had been off the other way, I would have said – hey, you gave me back too much money. It's only three cents, but it's the principle of it.

On top of that - the clerk AGAIN charged me for her finger because the tomatoes when she re-weighed them came up as 1.30 pound. Why when it's a charge, it's more weight than when it's a credit???

If this is an example of how this store operates, I'll be sure to take my business elsewhere. I realize they were busy (but it was tapering off - nearly 7:00 pm - so he had the time to figure out why it was off and should have had the level of customer service to have done so). I am very disappointed that I was having to explain math to him and he still wasn't getting it. And, to walk away when an issue is not resolved to the customer's satisfaction is highly unprofessional.

I sent this letter to the district office. The money isn't an issue as much as getting an apology would be. I want the assurance that clerks won't rest their hands on produce bags while they're weighing something and the assurance that the manager will be taught how to fix an overcharge so the amount of the credit is the same as the overcharge.

The man sometimes just drives me nuts

I pour over our finances several times a week, trying to decide where we can cut and what we cannot cut. We sold two vehicles and bought one replacement so we wouldn’t have the extra car payment and car insurance. Ron was OK with that although he hated to give up his Explorer. I hated to give up his Explorer, but it was the best financial option for us.

We discussed it and he was OK. But, he’s not dropped it since. OCTOBER. That’s how long ago we did this. Everywhere we go now, he’s scouting for vehicles. Every time he mentions buying this or buying that, I get a knot in my stomach. Why can’t he understand the stress level that I’m already under and the additional stress him talking about buying a vehicle and driving causes? He is not physically capable of driving right now. I don’t know that he’ll ever be physically able to drive again, but I don’t say that to him. I told him that it really stresses me when he talks about vehicles. I said when the time is right, we'll find him something to drive if that's what he really wants. He says he understands.

We get past the vehicle conversation and he says if he needs a car, he can take me to work and come get me; after all, he’s retired and won’t have anything better to do. If he thinks he needs to drive himself somewhere (like a physician appt), then him just keeping the car is the most economical solution. But, then a week or so goes by and he brings it back up.

I understand that he doesn’t want to surrender the last vestige of independence. I would love for him to be able to drive. I hate being the only person to ever drive anywhere. It gets old. By the same token, I have to be realistic about the whole thing and so should he. It just gets very old for him to waffle back and forth on things.

We decided (mostly, I encouraged and sort of made the final determination) to sign up for a six-month meat/frozen vegetable/frozen fruit plan. I have to figure out exactly how many pounds of food we’re getting but the bill is $207 per month for five months. The food will probably last us for at least eight months – some we’ll run out of before then but other parts of it we’ll still have. It was $197 down and then once the food is delivered, the first payment is due 30 days later. Ron was fine with it at first because he got to pick and choose what meats he wanted, including beef jerky. The hamburger comes in one pound chubs and one pound packages of 3 patties each. There are roasts, steaks, chicken, fish, different frozen vegetables and different frozen fruits (peaches, strawberries, and blueberries). We custom-tailored a plan for us, figuring if Amy and Isaiah were there, we’d still have enough. Plus, we don’t eat meat every night so it’s not a big deal.

The next day, out of the clear blue sky, he says he thinks it's too high. I said fine, I'd call and cancel but I was trying to build in a hedge against inflation and that I thought even though it was six payments, the food would not be all gone in six months. He said OK - since I do the finances and the shopping, then he'll trust my judgment.

Today - new story... Since we can "afford" this meat purchase, why can't we afford to find him a vehicle? He thinks he'll ask his son from 1st marriage about buying his van. {sigh} I felt my blood pressure going up and the knot in my stomach. No, I don't want to buy Aaron's van; he doesn't want a van anyway, he wants a truck. So, why buy Aaron's van (or even try to) if that's not what he ultimately would want. Well, his reasoning, is that he'll then have a vehicle. HE' S NOT EVEN WALK ING WELL YET - and will probably need surgery on his left knee. So - why buy anything now? I don't know.

Then he thinks I'm arguing with him just because I want to be right. I don't want to be right - I am right. Lord knows, I'd love to be wrong. I'd LOVE for him to heal up, not need surgery, be able to function again, and drive. God knows that would take some of this burden off of me.

I don't see that happening any time in the near future, no matter how much we want it.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The end of an era

Forty-six years...

That's how long Ron has played the bass guitar in some fashion or another - first it was in bands, then Christian settings, recordings, and church.

Ron called the praise team people tonight and told them he was retiring, that his hands just couldn't do it anymore, and he didn't want to hold the group back from learning new material. Poor guy - I felt so sorry for him.

I know it was an extremely hard thing for him to do. He got all choked up and had tears on his face when I went through the living room. It had to be his decision as it wasn't one that I could have made for him. Watching him struggle, I knew that the time was coming.

It's just hard to sit back and have to watch him go through this.

Medical Updates

Ron’s blood count is low so he has to take Procrit injections again. If his hemoglobin drops below 12 (the doctor said his should be between 15-17 if he were healthy). The Procrit injections are to help him but they’re just a total inconvenience since they can only be given at the doctor’s office by St. Francis. It takes longer to unload him than it does to get the actual injection, not even including the drive up there and back. They don’t have wheelchairs so I have to take the scooter. Since they’re so expensive (about $700), insurance is very picky about who can give them. It would be really nice if they’d let the nurses at our family doctor handle it but they won’t.

His blood work every Monday is also a time drain. At least they have wheelchairs that I can use to take him in there and I don’t have to do his scooter.

He had an appointment Tuesday morning to see about his left knee. While we were at the orthotic office this morning, his left knee popped and I think he tore something in it. He was already having serious problems with it but now he can’t walk on it, can barely put any weight on it, and can barely transfer from point A to point B. I don’t know how he’s going to get around this weekend. It’s quite the mess.

The skin on his right heel is breaking down. I noticed it last night but didn’t want to say anything to him about it. He said he thought there was a dark spot, and there is but I down-played it. I’m afraid he’s going to need surgery on his left knee, which introduces a whole new set of things for me.

I canceled my mirror repair on my car (I broke the driver’s side mirror on my garage door the morning I had to go early and pick Ron up from the sleep study) and changed his Tuesday appointment to Monday at the same time. He’s got blood work at 8:30 and the doctor at 10:15 so I don’t expect I’ll be able to get to work before noon. The good news is Tuesday I will be able to make it by 9:30. I hope I can schedule the mirror repair for a Saturday morning because there’s no other time that’s convenient.

They made a right-heel insert for his shoe that is kind of a brace, too. It comes up on his ankle on either side to help support it and keep him from rocking to one side. He’s to wear it for 30 min twice a day for 2 days; then one hour twice a day for 2 days, and then build up from there. If his heel is already breaking down from the little bit of walking he’s doing, I don’t see how the brace/insert is going to help him.

I honestly don’t know how people deal with and take care of chronically ill family members year in and year out, for years on end, while they have any semblance of a life outside of that. I don’t want to sound whiney or say I can’t cope, but it sure is draining. I guess I’m going to get the paperwork to apply for FMLA again for this year. I didn’t want to and had hoped that it would not be necessary. Financially, I don’t see how taking time off without pay is going to help us out but I can’t risk having my job in jeopardy without the FMLA. Every time I think I see a light at the end of the tunnel, I realize it’s just another flippin’ train. It doesn’t help when he tells me that I could always pray that he’ll die in his sleep. Oh yeah – that just makes my day even better.

But – my chin is up; tomorrow is still another day and an opportunity for things to improve! I’ve got my big girl smile on and things are better than they could be.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Hoaxes and rumors

Why is it that people can take several minutes to forward a rumor, but they can’t take 2-3 minutes looking it up FIRST to see if it’s true? Why is it that people get ticked off when someone who does take the time to look them up let them know that it’s a hoax? Surely some of the hoaxes and rumors being forwarded over and over again have ended up in their in-box at one time or another. How tough is it to go to www.truthorfiction.com, click Search, and enter a couple of words regarding the rumor???

I’m amazed at the number of times I’ve received the same information from the same people on more than one occasion. I’m amazed at how many times I’ve taken the time to look up the rumor and send them back the link with the information, only to receive the same information 2-3 months down the road from them. I’m amazed that they then get an attitude with me when sending out other things – such as “I don’t have time to look this up but I wanted to warn you all” or “I don’t care if this is true or not so I’m sending it anyway.” Without being rude right back, how do I stop from receiving these things? I’ve tried to nicely indicate I get so many emails that I’d rather not receive their dire warnings, but I still get them. The only things I’m interested in receiving are emails that have been checked out and proven to be accurate.

I don’t want to know that AOL and Microsoft are going to pay me to forward emails. I don’t want to see hokey signature strings that say, “I didn’t believe it until I got my check in the mail.” Show me the check instead. I don’t want to read stuff that says to forward to 10 of my friends and I’ll see something totally amazing on my screen. The only thing I might see is the reflection of a stupid person – me – if I fall for it. I don’t want to know that my cell phone number is being sold or that the atheists are trying to get Christian broadcasting off the airwaves. I’m sure that atheists somewhere are always trying to do something that would inhibit Christian rights, but the proposition mentioned in these emails is bogus – in fact, when Touched by an Angel was on TV the same email circulated about petition 2493 trying to get it off the air. I don’t want to know about spiders under toilet seats, HIV-infected needles in telephone change receptacles, Time Warner and AOL joining forces and paying people to forward emails (AOL seems to be in a lot of these emails; wonder how they stay in business paying out so much money to forward emails. LOL), I don’t need to lock my car manually to keep crooks from getting the code (they can’t), I won’t get gift certificates for forwarding emails from Old Navy, GAP, Coca-Cola, Victoria’s Secret, or Applebees, IBM isn’t giving away free computers, Gerber isn’t giving away free savings bonds, there’s no email tracker system, and a host of other things that keep circulating over and over again.

I have several family members who now ask me about rumors before they forward them. That’s good. I don’t mind looking them up. I’ve been fooled a time or two but not very often. The things that get me the most are the photographs. Now, if I send any of those out it’s with a disclaimer that they’re probably altered but the finished product is very cool looking. Until the photo is proven to be truth, I figure it’s altered. There are a lot of very talented people out there who can do wonders with photo editing tools.

Say I got an email telling me about how John Wayne became a Christian. I can type www.truthorfiction.com/search.htm in about 10 seconds. It takes another 5 seconds to type two words from the email. I’ll use “john wayne” (not even capitalized) and get five responses – with the #1 response being the one I wanted. By the way, it’s fiction, too. If I’m afraid I won’t remember the Web address, I could save it as a bookmark. Now, that would be a smart move.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Sometimes, I wish...

There are times that I wish I could contact all of the people whose lives have been touched or in any way altered because they were fortunate to be in the right place at the right time and met my husband. There are many that I know of, and more than I could even imagine of who I don't know.

Ron knew John McBride before he was married to Martina. Sinbad got his start in Wichita at a place called Mid-America Broadcasting Company. Ron was behind that company. There are Christian groups who have recorded in studios that Ron owned, some of whom never paid a dime to him for the use of his equipment. There are others who used his studio and the cost was absorbed by Ron. There are Christian musicians who learned many things from Ron - one is a bass player. There's another Christian group who benefited in some way from either Ron's talent or his equipment (I don't know for sure because I wasn't married to him then) and the only thing he asked for in return was the words and music to one of their songs so his daughter could record it. They never came through. I'm sure that some of the blessings some people received from Ron changed the course of their lives.

Sometimes I'd like to ask them to take the time to drop him a line, give him a call, or stop by. He often feels like he's fighting a losing battle with his health and although he's not giving up, he is pretty miserable and could use some cheering up. I think he'd like to know that he's not forgotten. His pain level and the tremors of his body are sometimes almost more than he can cope with. His hands don't work and he's very conscious of the fact that he's losing the ability to do more and more things. His foot may be healed, but it's only a small part of a body that refuses to function.

Although Ron's received blessings there are still sometimes that I think I'd like to see a bunch of people come together and let Ron now benefit from their success. That's very selfish of me but the human side of me sometimes still wishes that these things could happen. Just think how his life could be enriched if he had access to some of the things in life that would make his life easier?

Some may argue that I'm only thinking of myself. I would be lying if I said I did not think of myself. Selfishly, I don't like unclogging the toilet two or three times a week; I don't like the thought of him not being able to care for his personal hygiene needs. I don't like stressing over how the yard is going to get mowed, or how I'm going to get a retainer wall in, or how I'm going to get the fence put in, or who do I believe about the well and the sprinkler. Of course, having someone take that load off my shoulders would benefit me.

Vicki News

She’s still got the NG tube and a tracheotomy because her throat is too swollen from the breathing tube. They hook her up to the ventilator at night but she’s breathing on her own during the day. They took the staples out of her arm (don’t know which one or even that it was injured) Sunday. She is awake and can mouth some words but not able to talk. She tried to write something on Sunday but wasn’t able to get it done so I’m not sure if it was because of her confused state or if it was because her hands wouldn’t hold the pen.

We found out there were only two cars involved – hers and the Cadillac.

We found out this afternoon that she’s being moved from ICU to a private room. I guess her insurance will pay for private duty nursing so that is truly a blessing. Lonnie is going to try to get her moved closer to home, which will be nice for all of them. Poor Lonnie is running herself ragged trying to be everywhere she needs to be. As the primary caretaker, I know it's tough and is extremely draining.

Lonnie posted some pictures that she took over the weekend. Vicki is very bruised, which probably causes its own pain. One on the inside of her left thigh is huge and looks very painful. Her face is not nearly as bruised as I thought it would be, so that's a blessing. The airbag probably saved her face from being really messed up.

“Glam-mas” – the new breed of grandmothers – a very long post

I read an article the other day about grandmothers who have told their children to not expect them to be hands-on or to baby-sit. I was amazed at how selfish that sounded. Did these women do it all by themselves, so they expect their children to also go it alone? Did they have such poor role models in their parents that they see no other way to act? I don’t know but I was absolutely appalled.

As a product of the baby-boom generation, I had very little interaction with my grandparents, except for holidays and vacations. My mother worked outside the home the whole time I was growing up but our grandparents did not watch us. Her mother had also worked and I remember that she was still working when I was a young child. She died of cancer in 1969 when I was 13 and she was 65. Because she had been working right up until the time she got sick, she wasn’t really available to us except for the occasional weekend visit to our house. One of my last memories of her at our house was during the summer and I was taking her and my mom each a glass of tea. I stepped on a bee and I remember screaming and throwing the glasses up in the air as I fell to the ground. That foot swelled up terribly and was very painful. My great-grandmother (on my dad’s side) took care of us when I was very small but she eventually went to live in Tennessee with my grandfather.

My mom’s parents had divorced many years earlier and he was re-married to a woman who had seven children. He totally cut himself off from his own family and became a devoted grandfather to her grandchildren. I remember seeing them drive by our house on their way to her grandchildren’s home and if we were outside they’d wave at us as they went by. We were terribly jealous and even though we had the obligatory visits to their home for Christmas or birthdays, I don’t believe any of us felt any kind of emotion when he passed away and we felt even less when his wife died. I remember he came to the hospital to see me when I broke my shoulder and when I had knee surgery. I’m sure he visited my brothers when they were also patients.

My dad’s parents were also divorced and remarried. His mom and step-dad lived in Pennsylvania; his dad and step-mom lived in Tennessee. Every year for my dad’s vacation, we’d take the drive to see one and then the other. My grandfather died when I was about 10 or 11 and my step-grandfather died when I was in my early teens. My grandmother then moved to Kansas City to live with my aunt and I saw her whenever my dad would go get her and bring her to the house. Her health was not great and I remember thinking how old she looked and acted. It wasn’t until many years later that I found out she had only been 65 when she died but looked so much older. My step-grandmother was younger but the last time I saw her was when I was 16 and we went to Tennessee. She passed away about 20 years ago.

My own children missed out a lot on the grandparent interaction because we lived in Wichita and my parents lived in Kansas City, MO. I worked but both of my parents were retired. When I’d hear that they took some of the other grandkids to the movies or kept them overnight or even babysat them, I got pretty jealous. I honestly didn’t understand then, and I don’t have a clue still, why they never thought to invite my kids up during the summer. Even if they didn’t want to keep them all at the same time, I would have made back-to-back trips to take them one at a time if they’d only been invited. I think this still sticks in my mind and I really have to work to not be upset about it. My kids had Ron’s mom and step-dad but they didn’t really interact much with them either. My MIL only wanted to keep one at a time so it’s not like we counted on her for babysitting.

So, that brings me back to the glam-mas in the article. I decided that when I became a grandparent I was going to do things differently than my parents and my grandparents. I remember too clearly all the things I feel I missed out on and all the things I feel my kids missed out on with their grandparents. I may not have been the best parent around, but I’m determined to be the best grandparent possible to my grandchildren – and to my step-grandchildren. I think I’ve been as involved with the “steps” as I could have been and as much as their parents let me be involved. Of course, the level of involvement is different for each child as they’ve each had different needs and interests. I’ve babysat when asked (and when I could) and I’ve taken one of them on more than one trip. I’d be more involved if included in the activities, but that’s where the parents have not extended the invitation or information. I’ve worked hard to really “think” of things they’d like for birthdays and Christmases and done my best to provide them with what they’d enjoy instead of just getting something for the heck of it. At times, I’ve given cash if I’ve really been stumped for a gift that would make them excited. (Cash is always exciting!)

When Isaiah was born I wanted to be as involved as I could, even though he lived in Virginia. I was ecstatic when Amy and Isaiah moved back to Kansas because that meant I’d get to be more hands-on. Isaiah has actually lived with us since December 2005 and Amy moved back home after she got out of the Navy in April 2006. I’ve babysat whenever needed and sometimes just because I wanted to keep him. I’ve bathed him, slept with him, rocked him, cuddled him, played with him, made cookies with him, taken him to appointments, gone to teachers’ conferences, gone to school functions, and been his 2nd mother. I’ve loved it and I’ve often told him that I wanted him to never forget how much he was loved by his grandma and his grandpa. (I don’t recall ever hearing those words from my grandparents; I’m sure they said them but I just don’t remember it.)

We’d like to be as involved with Alexander (and his soon-to-be baby sister) but since Shaun and Jenny live in WA, that is a bit harder. It was very nice that Jenny and Alexander were able to stay with us for a month and that we both have Web cams so Alexander can see us and we can see him. I’m very excited to have another grandbaby – a girl this time – but sad that I can’t spend as much time with them as I do with Isaiah. In fact, I’ll be just as sad when Amy and Isaiah move out.

The reasons these glam-mas gave for not wanting to be involved in the lives of their grandchildren were beyond selfish. I don’t enjoy changing dirty diapers or cleaning up vomit, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t do it if it was necessary. I have a very weak stomach and it was tough for me to clean up after my own kids. In fact, Ron used to accuse me of marrying him just so I’d have someone else to do it. LOL – it did help that he had an iron-clad stomach.

I feel so sorry for the children and their parents to have family members who care so little for others. What kind of role models are they setting for these children? I have no patience for those would take advantage of the other but it’s not the children’s fault. If the grandparents think the children have no limits, then set some for them so they see how they should behave. If all you can give to a child is love, it’s probably what’s needed most anyway. If the parents of the children are too indulgent, whose fault is it? It can probably be traced back to their own parents. Maybe all the parent received from their own parents growing up was “stuff” instead of attention, time, and love.

I know I’ve rambled long enough on this, but I just had to say how amazed I am – and not in a good way – about how some adults act. Sure, maybe there have been some times when I’ve been less than interested in babysitting a particular night but, big deal. It’s not like I had anything better to do. There were times when maybe staying home with a sick grandchild was less than convenient, but big deal. You deal with the situations as they come your way, make the best of things, and move on. I keep Isaiah because I want to, not because his mother expects me to. I can't imagine not wanting to keep him when I can. Why should I make life more difficult and expensive for my daughter when I can make a difference?

I can’t imagine how empty my life would be if I didn’t have such a close bond with Isaiah. I want the same kind of bond with Alexander and his baby sister – and any other grandchildren that come my way. The time spent with family can never be measured in dollar amounts and lost time can never be recaptured.

These glam-mas are missing so much. I imagine that one day they’ll be old and maybe need to be “babysat” by someone. I can only hope their kids and grandkids show more love and compassion than they’re currently showing their kids and grandkids. They won’t deserve it, but maybe they’ll realize just how much they’ve lost out on.

We can always hope…

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

"I declare you healed!"

Dr. Heady thought he'd never see the day where he could say that. Today, we didn't even get a bandage. He put a post-op shoe on Ron's foot and sent us to the orthotics office to have an insert made for his shoe.

He's allowed "some" walking, but instructed to not overdo it. That's good for me as that means he can walk around in the house. Tonight I had to take him for a sleep study so it was nice that I didn't have to load and unload the scooter. This will definitely give my back a break.

I noticed when I got back home though that he had lost the cushion out of the "shoe" so I don't know if it will cause any problems or not. Thankfully, he won't be walking much tonight as he'll be hooked up to monitors. When I go get him in the morning I'll take the cushion with me so I can put it back in the shoe before we put it on his foot.

We go back to the doctor in 2.5 weeks. That is a change, for sure.

A very welcome change.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Vicki update

Vicki had surgery on her hip and ankle last night. Elana (her daughter) said the surgery wasn't over until about 2:00 AM and they ended up having to sedate Vicki this afternoon to keep her from pulling out the tubes. She's all bruised up, but the "only" serious injuries she has are the broken bones.

She's quite heavy and since she'll not be able to put any weight on either of her legs for quite a while, I imagine she'll be in rehab for months. I'm not sure if rehab will be a nursing home or if it will be a rehab center. She's got a long haul ahead of her, that's for sure.

The specialist may go back in on Monday morning and actually replace that hip. He said it was shattered pretty badly and she may do better by having it replaced. She also needs one of her needs operated on (for a different reason and injury) so it would be nice if they could do that one at the same time. I know there is the concern that her body may not handle it well, but it would be better to do it now than to go back in six months or so and be out of commission again.

I'm glad Elana is able to be there with her. I know it's tough on her as she's a single mom (her husband died two years ago) with four children, she's working part-time, and going to school full-time. Dana, her sister, lives in Indiana and probably can't go to Florida for a while due to finances.

We can't go, and even if we could financially, there's no way I could take off that much time from work, Ron can't care for himself let alone anyone else, and I can't take on someone else right now. I did say that after she was done with rehab that she could come here and stay with us. I think she'd be good company for Ron and he'd be good for her. We'll see...

Emergency Preparedness

As we’re heading into the spring weather, and the associated bad weather alerts that go with it, it’s time to think about being prepared in the event of an emergency. We had a thunderstorm/tornado warning in Sedgwick county tonight – the first one of the season. With that thought in mind, I decided to address some of the things we need to keep in mind when deciding what to do, what to store, and how to prepare for any given emergency.

There are several sites out there dedicated to food storage and being prepared for emergencies. One of the best groups I know of to learn from would be the Mormons. Their teachings have advocated food storage for generations. Originally, I believe it was seven years, then two years, and now one year. At minimum, you should have a three month supply of the things you eat on a regular basis, and a twelve month supply of staples and things that will keep for a long time, such as the beans, rice, sugar, salt, cooking oil, etc.

The main thing to keep in mind from each of the sites I’ve seen is to store what you eat, and eat what you store. It doesn’t save you any money if you buy things your family won’t eat, or if you buy things that will expire before you can get them eaten. My daughter is terribly picky and she turned up her nose at my beans (several 1# bags of them). I said if she was hungry enough, she’d gladly eat those beans (I feel the same way about white rice). She was doubtful, but I bet she would. I said she didn’t have to like it, but she would eat it. She’d rather have cereal.
Some of the food storage sites I’ve come across are:

http://www.FoodStorageIdeas.com – you will have to provide your email address to receive information.
http://preparednesspro.wordpress.com/ - I got this link from a friend’s site and it seems to have a lot of good information.
http://pinchingyourpennies.com/ - This isn’t a “food storage” site in the traditional sense, but I got this one from the previous one and it’s got good ideas for getting the most bang for your buck.
http://jordansfarm.wordpress.com/2008/06/19/why-what-how-i-am-storing-and-stocking-up-food/ - this blog entry is fairly old, but the information still very good.

I’ve purchased quite a bit of the extras that will keep for long periods of time. I think I have 10-15 pounds of beans, 5-7 pounds of rice, 3 – 5 bags of flour, 3 - 5# bags of sugar, several boxes of cereal (we like cereal around here and I rotate the stock), 2-3 jars of peanut butter, 2-3 jars of jelly, 6 bottles of spaghetti sauce, several pounds of pasta, about 3 pounds of noodles, a case of Ramen, 3 pounds of powdered sugar, 10 cans of condensed milk, a few bottles of cooking oil, one big box of powdered milk, and then some assorted cases of vegetables and canned fruit. It’s not nearly enough for three months, but it is a start in the right direction.

I need to start buying water since the recommended amount is 2 gallons of water per person per day. Personally, I don’t drink that much water, but that also takes into consideration water for personal use, hygiene, drinking, and cooking. I also need to pick up some extra laundry soap, toothpaste, toilet paper, and other cleaning products. I have a lot of shampoo and bar soap but not any extras of deodorant or other hair care products.

To prepare for the tornado season, I will have an emergency box packed and ready downstairs. We have extra pillows and blankets downstairs already, and our excess food storage is also downstairs. So, we’d have water if we needed it. Then all I have to worry about hauling down will be our medications. Since Ron is more mobile this year, I don’t have to worry about his wheelchair. The one he’s got this year is really too heavy for me to carry and I can’t take it apart or put it back together by myself. So, we’ll take our chances that it will be OK and he’ll just scoot down the stairs and use a cane once we get to the bottom. I can’t put a shoe on his foot yet so not sure how I’d protect it from the potential of broken glass, if something like that were to occur due to bad weather.

Friday, March 6, 2009

I’m getting grayer by the minute…

We received a telephone call at 5:30 this morning to learn that my sister-in-law, Vicki, had a terrible car accident last night. As far as I know now, she’s currently undergoing surgery to repair a broken hip, broken ankle (on her opposite leg), and possibly broken vertebrae. I don’t know if the hip she broke is the same one she had replaced a few years ago, or if it’s the other one. She and another car hit head-on.

It was such a shock to get that phone call and then have to be the one to relay the information on to Elana and Dana. Vicki couldn't remember anyone's telephone number except ours. I was quite stunned to get a phone call from someone I didn't know at 5:15 in the morning but very glad that Vicki was able to get someone to call us.

I think I need to start this week over again – with a better outcome, please.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

In retrospect, in hindsight, etc.

It is a new day and I'm focusing on keeping upbeat and "keeping the faith" that things will work out. One of my friends suggested I contact the appraiser's office and ask about a disability abatement for the taxes or specials. At first the lady didn't know what I was talking about when I asked and said our house was too expensive to be considered. She went on to say that it's reserved for people who have a permanent disability, such as amputation, confined to a wheelchair, or blindness - or something like that. I said that Ron had amputation, was in a wheelchair 90% of the time, and had become permanently disabled less than three months after we moved in. She said then I for sure should apply and directed me to a second number.

That person couldn't help me but directed me to another number, where I left a message. I haven't heard back from them but hope to tomorrow.

I sometimes wonder if I did know then the things I know now, if it would have changed the way I've lived my life. In some cases, yes, I am sure it would have made a difference. I would have still made mistakes - maybe just different ones, and maybe more serious ones. After all, we are all human and we are all going to make mistakes. It can't be helped. All we can do is to do our best to examine all of the issues, potential outcomes, and pray that we're doing what God would have us to do.

Some of the mistakes I've made were a direct result of wanting to have it my way, without thinking about the consequences. I would like to say that was years ago when I was a child, but I know that I've made many mistakes in my adult life. Other mistakes were because I "thought" I had all of the information when in reality, I did not. And even more mistakes happened because my lovely husband didn't listen to some of the advice he received and made poor choices. He's sorry for those now, but we're still "reaping" the rewards from those seeds we've sown.

If my children can look at the things that I've done wrong, and learn from them, then the mistakes will have been worth it. Every last one of them. If not, then I'm very sorry that I didn't set a better example for them to follow and I pray that they will forgive my ignorance and actions.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Melancholy, baby

***This is just a venting post and not meant for anything to anybody but me.***

I've been down in the doldrums a bit lately. I'm not entirely sure why, but I'm certain it's probably for selfish reasons.

I found out today (quite by accident) that our house payment is going up $260 per month because our mortgage holder made a mistake in figuring our escrow account and what our personal property taxes would be. I've contacted the county because what I was quoted when we closed on the house is over $2,000 less than what the loan company says they were given. I went to the website today and can find NOTHING that supports what the loan company says. I can't even find anything that supports what we were told. All in all, it has given me one of the worst headaches of my entire life.

I'm already struggling to figure out how I can cut back on expenses over the next few months so I can get things paid off. Adding this increased amount to our payment is awful. The payment already went up $100 on January 1st so I wasn't expecting any increase again until next year. What really gripes me is they sent us an escrow overage check in November (which I used because we needed it then) and I discovered in January when I was working on taxes that they'd made a different error so I contacted them to investigate it.

Once they figured it out, they said we owed more. I am literally sick to the bottom of my feet. This is a real test of my faith and I've been sitting here all day wavering between nausea and tears, praying as I go. This is not something I can or will discuss with Ron. He's already pretty sick about the situation that we're in because of his health anyway. This would not be something that he needs to worry about when he's trying to get his strength back.

We are still having well/sprinkler issues. The well people insist it's the sprinkler; the sprinkler guy insists it is the well. The cheapest solution for us is to spend approximately $500 to hook our sprinkler up to the city water supply. Oh yeah, that's something I really look forward to. That's $2500 just thrown down the tubes with the cost of the well.

In addition to that, we have to have our retaining wall/rock in this summer. That's probably another $500-$1,000. We were supposed to have it in last summer but they cut us some slack due to Ron's health. I don't imagine they'll be as easy this summer.

On top of all of that, I still have the downstairs to finish. That will be the last thing that gets done since no one really uses the space.

We have our life savings in this house - all of the stock options that Ron has ever earned and everything else that we've poured into it. I don't think I can face saying that I failed and cost him so much. He obviously can't start over and I don't know that I can either. Maybe I can get a job at McDonald's working from 6:00 - 10:00 in the evening or 5:00 - 7:00 in the morning. I don't know. All I know is that I've just got to keep that knot at the end of my rope from unraveling and my focus on God.

Life Lessons

When you think you've got it bad, just look around and you'll see someone who has it worse. When life has gotten you down, take a walk in someone else's shoes and you'll be glad to put your own back on.

I like to watch Extreme Makeover: Home Edition on Sunday nights. They usually rebuild the house of someone who has fallen on hard times, who has someone in the family with a serious illness, or someone who has been a hero to the community. Sometimes, the recipient is a combination of all of the above. Sunday's episode was no different.

The family had lost their home in a flood, but even worse is they also lost the mother's business. She's a photographer and gives the most precious gift to parents of preemies. She gives priceless memories of a brief moment in time when their critically ill baby is on the verge of death or has passed on. The pictures she gives - free of charge - to these parents can never replace the loss of their baby but it at least gives them a small ray of comfort when they look back upon that time. My younger sister's first child was stillborn at 32 weeks gestation and I believe something like this would have been a great comfort to her.

You never know when the gift of life will vanish. It could happen in an instant - one breath your baby is here and the next it's gone. Coming home from the hospital with empty arms - or, in the case of my sister, a flower - can never be forgotten and even another baby doesn't take away the ache for the one that was, and now is no more. The photographs she gives are done beautifully, tastefully, and with great respect and reverence for the family members.

Sears provided her with a complete new studio with the latest in cameras and equipment. The house that was built for them housed the studio and the crew also landscaped the yard so she'll have several outdoor vignettes so she'll be able to take other wonderful pictures.

This is one family that I truly believe deserves all they've recieved because they have given so much.

How tough is it?

My children have all been taught to appropriately thank someone when they’ve received a gift – no matter how “small” it seemed to them. I’m not saying that they now do it as adults, but at least they were taught to do so. I think they still do, at least, call my mom to thank her for things. I can only hope they also show appreciation to others.

I know that I should not give things to others with the expectation of receiving anything in return. The joy of giving should be enough. And, it really is – if I know they’ve received it and appreciate the thought behind it. A thank you card can be bought for $0.50 at Dollar Tree. A phone call is virtually free. How tough is it for the recipient to acknowledge that they’ve received something from someone? This has been a pet peeve of mine for quite some time. I’m not saying that you should thank someone “only” if the gift was expensive or sacrificial on someone else’s part, because every gift or thoughtful action should be acknowledged and the giver thanked. If you know that something was particularly special – be it the value, or if someone really took the time to “think” of you, then you should make extra effort to show your appreciation for the thought and effort that went into the gift – regardless of if you really wanted that particular item or had an immediate use it.

We all want to be acknowledged for our efforts. I have dropped the ball in the past, too, but when I did, I did my best to make up for it in other ways. But – if I’ve ever NOT thanked you for something, then please forgive my oversight and I thank you from the bottom of my heart! I don't want to point one finger at someone else without realizing I have the rest of them pointed right back at me. LOL!


Alexander is so smart! We had baby gates up from the dining room into the kitchen and one from the top of the stairs leading down into the basement. Alexander saw us stepping over the gates and it wasn’t long before he was trying it. If he had been able to get his toe in the opening, he would have climbed the one going into the kitchen. One time, he dragged a chair to the stairs and was going to use it to climb that gate. If he saw us do something one or two times, he was trying to do it, too. He comes from a line of smart people on both sides, so it’s not surprising.

I think the funniest things he did though was to chase our dog through the house. She returned the favor by turning around and chasing him. If she went under furniture, like the dining room chairs, he also tried that. He got stuck a couple of times.

Isaiah sits on a tall chair at the counter to eat his meals. One day, Alexander decided he was going to climb it

Here is the result of that effort:

He was not too impressed with the fact that he was stuck and we were laughing. He didn’t hurt himself, so that was OK. I think Jenny posted some pictures taken at our house of him on her Facebook page.

Here’s one I took of him looking out our front door. Most of the door is frosted glass, but there are some little squares that are clear. The only ones he could look out of were down low.

He is sure a cutie. He caught me with the camera.

Monday, March 2, 2009

House is quiet

Jenny and Alexander left yesterday morning. Shaun was able to fly here from Norfolk on Thursday and then they all flew back home together. I was really glad that he was able to come here. Besides it being nice to visit with him, it was nice to not have to go to WA on Saturday and then back home on Sunday. As tired as I am without traveling, I can just imagine how bad I'd feel if I HAD traveled.

Once I got things picked up and put back in their places, it was so strange to not see toddler toys and things around. Alexander is a charmer and such a cutie. I miss him already.

We went to KC on Saturday to see my mom since Shaun and Keith hadn't been there in a while. One of my sisters, Michelle, came over, too. My mom has a "time out doll" that my sister, Kris, made for my dad several years ago. It's dressed in overalls and has a railroad hat on. Alexander was wearing overalls, too and we tried to get him to pose with the doll.

Michelle got a couple of decent pictures of him and the doll, but nothing great. In this one, he moved just as her camera took the picture.

My mom got a big kick out of him when he exhibited his temper. He wanted to get into the TV stand and take out her VHS tapes. We all said "no" at about the same time and he pretty much ignored us. Until his dad said "Alexander, NO!" very sternly. Then he clouded over and fell to the floor. He is quite dramatic when he doesn't get his way.

I know they're glad to be home, but I sure miss the little bugger. I'll have to make sure he gets to talk to me on Skype.


I’m not usually one to rock the boat when it comes to expressing a different opinion, but I have to at least vent here. I’m so tired of reading about how stupid Americans are for our country being in the state it’s in. Yes, a lot of Americans made a lot of stupid financial decisions and I’ve made my share of them, too. But to lump us all together into one class of “idiots” is like saying all Muslims have terrorist leanings. Incorrect and totally unfair – on both counts.

The bailout will not help us. We don't have a Fannie Mae or Freddy Mac loan on our house. What we do have is a fixed-rate loan at one of the institutions that has been in trouble. They've received money in the bailout but I don't expect they'll be in any hurry to reduce our interest rate to a lower percentage. Why would they, when we're in the class of people they believe will do everything we can to make our house payments. We will; we've got too much invested here to just walk away. Until the economy levels out it will still be an effort for us to keep our heads above water. Ron's illness this past year has really cost us - financially and emotionally. Even though I'm very grateful for His grace, I'm still very weary and fatigued, inside and out.

Our pastor gave a very good message yesterday and I just had to write down some of the facts he quoted. Many of them do, indeed, make Americans look foolish and very unprepared for what the future may hold. In the 1970s, Americans were saving, on average, 8% of their income. Today, that figure is closer to 1%. Many Americans are two paychecks away from bankruptcy, meaning if they miss two paychecks they don’t have enough resources to keep afloat. Many Americans have less than $1,000 net worth; if they sold everything they owned they’d have less than $1,000 to “start over” with. Paying rent on a different place, setting up utilities, putting down a deposit, and the cost of moving would more than eat up that $1,000.

Yes, we are a nation of foolish, reckless spenders who were brought up with the “buy today; pay tomorrow” mentality. We were fooled into believing that we could afford things earlier than we really could. We believed big business when they told us that everything would be OK. Yes, that makes a lot of us truly foolish and wasteful. I guess that gives other nations the right to stand back and make fun of the “stupid Americans” who made such stupid decisions.

Maybe this country, as a whole, wouldn’t be in such financial straits if we, as a country, hadn’t made some of the decisions that we’ve made in the past. Maybe if we’d not sent so much in aid to drought-stricken, starving countries we’d have more resources to take care of our own down-trodden, homeless, and starving residents. Maybe if we’d not rushed to send aid to so many nations who called out for our help, we’d have the resources to send aid to areas of the US stricken by hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods. What country is the first to respond when there’s a disaster ANYWHERE in the world? Nine times out of 10, it’s the US. What country is the first to be ridiculed for it’s actions? The good ole USA, of course.

I just hate reading other writings that do nothing but point fingers at how we made so many mistakes. So did a lot of the other countries who are now pointing their collective fingers at us. Where would these countries be if we hadn’t been willing to step in and pick up the slack when they needed it most? At best, they’d be speaking a different language (probably German or Russian); at worst, they’d be starving and dying in record numbers because of the lack of humanitarian aid.

Many of the poor choices people make are made out of their need for something. Sometimes they’re still searching for what they “think” they want and continue to make the same poor choices, time and time again. I know that some of the mistakes of my past are a direct result of a need. What if my “aha moment” had come one day later? What if that one day had caused me to give up and not pick myself up one more time? I am what I am because of the grace of God. Without His grace, a lot could be different in my life – and I am not talking about a “good” different, either.