Another long update

Life has been very busy in this house. Also, I’m not of the generation who grew up with blogs and social media as an everyday part of life so updating this space seems difficult to me when I’m in the thick of life. So, I’m sorry for the long absence again. Here is all the news that’s fit to print:

April & May were busy with the usual end of the school year stuff. June brought Marching Band Madness to our usually laid back & tranquil summer plans. Ditty participated in the flute section for the first time (she could have participated last summer but I’m glad she didn’t). They had a week long sweat camp and then it was 2-3 parades per week for the rest of June. One parade got rescheduled because of rain, so that week had 4 parades, the rescheduled one on Tues, another on Thurs & Fri & Sat. So glad that’s done, none in July & just one more exhibition parade on Aug 2nd. They did earn some good marks and even received one Grand Champion recognition. I didn’t get to watch them perform at any of the parades, so I’m looking forward to watching on the 2nd. June also brought Driver’s Ed classes back to our schedule. Ditty now has her learner’s permit and needs to get 30 hours of behind the wheel in the next 6 months in order to take her test for a conditional driver’s license. Teens don’t get full driving privileges straight off anymore.

DH learned the importance of teaching your teen driver exactly what your “driving slang” means before you use it on them. Ditty’s first behind the wheel attempt with us was driving his truck over to Clearwater/Pleasant regional park. She was backing out of the driveway and he wanted her to turn more sharply onto the road so he said “crank it”. She applied the gas and we bagan to shoot across the road. I yelled “Stop!” and she applied the brakes, thankfully before we wound up in the neighbor’s ditch. DH asked her why she stepped on the gas and she replied “well, I thought that’s what you wanted me to do.” Teach them the meaning of your slang so you will live longer-just saying. Also, saying Crank It when you don’t give them a direction to turn in isn’t very helpful. Hard right or hard left would help a beginner more. Maybe this was why the eldest always wanted me in the vehicle with her. If that happens again, I really need to get some valium.

We brought BooBoo in to the doctor in June and we have finally received some answers to his issues. We now know that he has ADD, the inattentive type and he has now begun taking medication to help with his attention issues. This has also greatly improved his anxiety & depression. It really feels like we have our old Buddy Sunshine back again. He comes up the stairs with a spring in his step and no longer balks when we interrupt what he wants to do with a request to complete a chore.

July has been, well, interesting-let’s just leave it at interesting. The 4th brought the usual parade & 2 potlucks. A neighbor invited us over for fireworks and that was nice. I am getting a little tired now of picking up the debris from my yard. Apparently fireworks are for the whole month of July. Oh well, they are good neighbors the rest of the year. Speaking of neighbors, I think we finally have some new neighbors kitty corner across the street. There was a trailer there yesterday along with 2 large vehicles so one can hope that house is finally going to be someone’s home.

I finished writing the new Nature program for our Girl Scout day camp. 2nd grade learns about mammals, 3rd grade learns about bugs & butterflies, 4th grade learns about birds, 5th learns about trees (and has the coolest craft), 6th learns about reptiles & amphibians & fish, and 7th learns about wildflowers. 2nd & 3rd don’t do a nature craft, they have games instead. 4th & up do a craft that relates to what they are learning about: Bird feeders, Pine cone boxes, Toad homes & Wildflower presses. The girls seemed to enjoy their time in Nature this year, especially their nature hike/exploration day. I think it was the fact that they had permission to look & touch & observe their surroundings that captivated them. The 6th grade girls loved going out to catch frogs & toads. We learned that we have a lot of Leopard frogs in our day camp area. We also found a baby Great Plains toad. Maybe next year we’ll have to catch some insects too and see how the frogs and toads catch their meal. (This thought is due to the Cope’s Gray treefrog that was clinging to our deck door last night. I watched it crawl, looked like an Army crawl, up the side of the door and then leap at a bug that it ate.)

July also brought 2 more visitations/funerals. My last uncle on my dad’s side passed away in June, then the father of a friend’s husband passed away in early July and another friend’s husband was tragically killed in a motorcycle crash this past weekend. It has been a mournful month. May their souls and all the souls of the faithful departed, by the mercy of God, rest in peace.

I am looking forward to enjoying our final 5 weeks of summer vacation. BooBoo wants to have the guys over for a fire and hot dogs soon. Ditty has swim team practices starting up again in August. We still need to update her flute and she wants to start learning the saxophone as well.

Time to get BooBoo started on his guitar practice. Hope your summer is going well.


MPO (missing, presumed overwhelmed)

Wow! Have I really not posted a single update since last August? Well, the blog doesn’t lie. I certainly have been missing from this space for a long time. I’ll try to give you a concise update of the past several months.

Since the job loss last August, I was unemployed for a total of 6 weeks. That’s a very short time based on what some of my friends have experienced in their own lives. I took a job with an international provider of fulfillment services in October 2013. I was taking inbound customer service calls for a major sweepstakes company. I say was, because in mid-January, I became ill and then in February I began having dizzy spells again. I was diagnosed with Menier’s way back when I was about 22 years old, so dizzy spells are nothing new to me. In March, I had a dizzy spell at work on a Friday morning. The following Monday, I woke up at 1 a.m. with a dizzy spell and just thinking about going in to work the night before had triggered an episode that ultimately lasted about 9 hours. I knew that I needed to quit my job. My health wasn’t going to rebound until I did. So at 1:30 that Monday morning, I spoke with DH and broke the news. He took it well, saying “You have to do what you have to do.”. I knew he was disappointed, but that he understood the spells were beyond my control.

Understand that I have held several jobs since being diagnosed and the only common ground this job held with the one other job that I had quit due to dizzy spells was that both companies treated their employees like machines. The first company had unachievable standards for productivity. And I really mean that. We were expected to complete our assignments in 1 hour and then get the next hour’s work from our supervisor. No allowance for the time it took to stand in line with the rest of your shift waiting your turn for work was given. No allowance for the needed time to organize the work or pull the correct files was given either. Everyone (yes, we talked on breaks & lunches) was continually being given verbal or written warnings that they had better bring up their productivity or risk being terminated from employment. Ridiculous!

My recent past employer also maintained an atmosphere that made us feel like we were less than human. The 2 days that I was legitimately ill in January dropped my attendance rating from a 5 (highest given) to a 1 (lowest given without termination). The company HR department and my supervisor had both firmly stated that if we were ill, because we are a large call center, do not come in to work because it would just make more people ill and increase workloads for those not ill. And yet, they dock us for not coming in when we are sick. Yes, that rating of 1 on my attendance meant that although I had achieved the 25 cent/hour bonus pay for the 3 months prior, I was not eligible for that bonus for the month of January-due to my “poor” attendance. I was also informed that even if I had gone to the doctor and received a note stating that I was indeed ill, the note would not have taken effect until the day after I received it. I’m sorry, am I supposed to request that my cold/flu should give me 24 hours notice before taking me out? How absurd! Well the stress this brought on (and other issues there) triggered some lasting episodes of dizzy spells through February, culminating in the March episodes. This forced me to rethink my employment there and I went in the following Tuesday morning and told them I needed to quit and that I was sorry but I wouldn’t be able to give them the customary two weeks notice due to the unpredictable nature of the dizzy spells. I was kind. I blamed my illness, not the company, but I had to get out of there. Since leaving, I have had one full-fledged dizzy spell and many close calls, probably due to residual stress. I am praying that the month of April sees my return to good health.

During this time, last August, I also returned to being a catechist for a group of twelve 9th grade boys. You see, I can handle stress just fine 🙂 ! I’ve always enjoyed teaching and I do enjoy teaching this group of guys as well. I was informed (frequently!) that this group was difficult to work with and would try my patience. Good grief, they’re just boys! And unfortunately, the methodology used to teach them (lessons on video) does not work well with the learning style of boys. Nor does it impress upon them the need for a deep faith relationship with God. I understand why this method is being used. it is used because, unfortunately, we can not count on getting volunteers to step forward and teach who are faithfully Catholic. How sad that there were so many years in the formation of today’s adults where the beauty of our Catholic faith was not taught to us and so very few of us realized that we had an unfulfilled yearning for God and looked for that beauty later on in our lives. The early mistakes made in the implementation of Vatican II cost our churches dearly. I am grateful for the nudges that made me look deeper and deeper into my Catholic faith and it’s customs & rituals. Those nudges helped me to realize the beauty that lies within those sacred ceremonies. Thanks be to God!

Teaching the boys has been very rewarding. They have been open to trying new forms of prayer. They seem to have enjoyed some of our non-scripted discussions. I even brought in dessert as a treat for our last class before spring break and, true to their teenage years, they were quite enthusiastic about that as well. I’m thinking about trying the sung version of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy with them for two reasons: 1: I’ll bet no one has ever taught them the beauty of the chaplet and 2: Not one of them is in band (Ditty is and I never saw any of them at the concerts which are required attendance for band students) so they must have taken choir (9th grade is required to take one year of music class for high school graduation). Since I therefore have singers in my class, I say “Let’s get them singing!”. For their own comfort however, we will go down to the chapel for this part of the lesson so that they don’t have to sing (and risk being heard) by the other 9th grade boys class which meets across the hall from our room. Yes, I do take their feelings into account and I realize that they might not be ready yet to stand strong and proud in front of their peers as followers of Christ.

We had a nice Thanksgiving and a lovely Christmas. The kids enjoyed the break from school and I wished that I would have had more time off with them. (Wish granted, I guess.)

DH & I had a nice time at the ice fishing tournament in late January with our friends. Although that was when I suspected the dizzy spells were coming on. Kavanaugh’s was a nice time away for us.

We went to Florida this year for the kid’s spring break and all 5 of us were able to go making this the first real, total family vacation we have taken in about 6 or so years. It was a nice time even if it was a bit cold down there. And here’s a tip, if you’re looking for a really good seafood dinner: Go to George & Wendy’s Seafood Grille on Sanibel Island. They have the best fresh seafood items I have ever tasted!

Well, that brings you up to date, more or less on where my life is. I hope & pray your life is going well and that you enjoy a long life and happiness as well.

Sometimes I wonder

Why some people are loyal beyond measure while others show no loyalty to anyone outside their family and sometimes not even then.

Why some people wouldn’t think about lying, or would dismiss the idea, and will admit their mistakes while others can’t be trusted to tell the truth even when they would suffer no consequences from it.

Why some people have a moral code that will not allow them to dismiss their responsibilities while others walk away from their responsiblities without a backward glance.

How did they lose their sense of right and wrong?  And why don’t they care enough to change?

I guess all this came up from an issue with one of the costumes in the play my kids’ are involved with.  Someone cut the neckline of a costume.  I don’t know who.  I’ve been told that “they’ve got that figured out”.  The thing is, at one point I was the one accused of either cutting it or helping to hide that it had been cut.  I did neither of those things and yet no apology for accusing me has been given.

Anyone who truly knows me, and I thought there were several involved with this production, would never believe I would do anything of the sort.  I would never take a scissors to a costume with the intent of destroying it.  I would never help someone hide their deed either.

I’m really disappointed in the way that this incident has been handled.  I won’t be volunteering again next year.  My daughter who enjoys acting in these productions will have graduated from the school and my son will be encouraged to try chess club or something.  I simply don’t want to be there anymore.  I’ll finish out my commitment this year, but no more.  There really is no joy left in this for me.

The diet again & other things

Sorry, didn’t mean to make this a diet blog.  Just a quick update.

Day 3 went well.  Even got in my exercise.  Today I made turkey chili, no beans-they’re not allowed in the first cycle, and added extra veggies in the form of carrots & celery.  You may not think carrots & celery belong in chili, but I can state, from my vast experience as a Girl Scout outdoor trainer making many pots of vegetarian chili, that they do.  Plus I get to eat as many “cleansing vegetables” as I want so why not bulk up the chili, right?

Truly though, it’s the green tea that just gums up my determination.  Tea in general and green tea in particular are about as appealing to me as stewed prunes.  Oh well, slug it down and continue on.

A quick update on DH’s cousin.  Last week was a much beter week.  Mary was moved out of ICU and into rehab last Friday.  She did have an infection then, but they have cured that.  And since Tuesday, Jan 18th, there has been wonderful progress.  Mary is more verbal.  She sometimes speaks in full sentences (the Mary kind of sentences-long, complicated ones) where her parents & caregivers can only understand the first few words.  The doctors say that is common at this stage.  But sometimes she speaks in unprompted, full sentences that are clear.  For example, her speech therapist was talking to her about the Westminster dog show and Mary said “What time is that on?”

She is off her feeding tube and is able to feed herself with a bit of help.  She is also doing real well in physical therapy.  She can even push the wheels on her wheelchair to move down the hall (albeit very slowly).  Overall, the physical problems are healing nicely and the doctors are very happy with her neurological progress. 

Thank you for your prayers up to this point and please continue to pray for this amazing young woman’s complete recovery.

Breaking the rules

I’m breaking our house rule of no computers on Sunday to bring you an important update.

DH’s cousin spoke!  Yesterday morning, for the first time since the accident 9 days ago, she spoke.  She said “My neck doesn’t hurt” in response to a question.

I’m smiling and crying and want to leap for joy!  This is such fantastic news.  She still has a long way to go in her recovery, but for now at least, we can rejoice in this victory.

Please keep her in your prayers.  And thank you for praying with us.

Even Less Good News

Recovery, your’s or someone else’s, is fraught with ups and downs.  I know this.  We’ve been through this with DH’s mother.  Somehow, that still doesn’t make it any easier to get news like this:

This is Michael and I just had dinner with John in Boulder.  Unfortunately, the latest is not good news.  It seems as though Mary is not recovering at the pace the doctors expected her to recover.  They did some further tests and found that Mary has further damage to her brain John referred to as ‘brain shear’.  While there is still a reasonable prognosis for full recovery, the timetable has been moved from 3-6 months to 12-18-24 months.  Needless to say this is a real setback for Mary and John & Julie are taking it very hard.  If at any time they needed our prayers this is the time.  John asked me to share this information and I am sure he will update the family as he is able to do so.”

I asked a nurse friend what “brain shear” is and she explained that the brain is attached to the inside of the skull.  During extreme trauma, for example the violent snapping motion of a car crash, some of the connections can be severed or sheared away.  The brain/body will try to regrow these connections and that it can take up to 2 years for the connections to completely regrow.

Please continue to pray for Mary and her family.

Thank you

Crashes, comas and such . . .

We received an update on the condition of DH’s cousin.  The update was sent out on Jan 5th:

There is good and less good news on Mary. Her pelvic fracture is not too serious; the doctors believe it will heal by itself, and don’t plan surgery. Her ankle fracture is also not too bad. But since it is on the same side as her pelvic facture, she will need a very strong ankle, so they will probably put a pin in her ankle.

The less good news relates to her head injuries. She suffered a concussion and brain bleed, and was briefly (a few hours) in a coma. The brain bleed stopped fairly quickly after the accident, and the brain swelling has begun to subside. But she still sleeps most of the time. She seems to recognize Julie, me, Joe and Marguerite (Joe and Marguerite came as soon as they heard–they were the first ones to hear, and the ones who told us–and have been taking great care of her). But she is not very responsive, and hasn’t really spoken in the last two days.

The doctors are cautiously optimistic about the proespects for a full recovery. The CAT scans and MRI show no worrisome signs. They expect her to be in ICU for 1-2 weeks, then a month in a rehab ward, followed by several months of continued rehab.They say it will probably be 3-6 months, maybe longer before she is fully recovered.

I will stay here until Mary is clearly on the way to recovery–hopefully out of ICU–but then will have to go back to Tanzania. Julie will stay here as long as Mary needs her.

As for what happened, Mary was crossing in a crosswalk. Several cars had stopped for her–the law in Colorado–when one car, driven by a yong girl, swerved around the parked cars, hit Mary, and kept going. The other drivers called 911, and covered Mary with their coats until the ambulance and police arrived. Given the number of witnesses, and the fact that debris from the car was at the scene, the police believe they know who the driver was, and are about to arrest her.

Please keep Mary in your prayers. Thanks.

Love, John

Please keep praying for Mary as she continues to try and move forward with her recovery.

Thank you.

Say a prayer please

My husband’s cousin was the victim of a hit & run at the University of Colorado, Boulder on Wednesday night.  She was a pedestrian and using the crosswalk when she was hit.  She has serious head & internal injuries.

Please say a prayer for her recovery.

Thank you.

Prayer request

Dear readers, I have received a prayer request from a friend and I hope you’ll join me in praying for Harlan who is undergoing treatment for esophageal cancer.  Harlan is one of those people whose calm, quiet ways perfectly balance those of us whose lives are not calm.  Please join me in praying for his return to good health so that my friend and her family can enjoy his special gifts for many years to come.

Thank you

Prayers Needed

Your prayers are needed today for my cousins in Missouri as they deal with making funeral arrangements for their mother, my aunt, who died Sunday afternoon.

And also for Stacy and her family as they deal with the multitude of challenges involved in rebuilding their home after it was damaged by a tornado this past August. 

Thank you.

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