Monday, December 22, 2008

The Storm

Once again, I am up in the "wee sma's" thinking of my upcoming week.

As I sit in front of my computer screen, I can hear the wind howling outside and am so grateful that we are safe and snug and warm in our home. There is a soft quiet throughout the house and the knowledge of my guys sleeping soundly in their beds satisfies me.

I have not been feeling great, there is still so much to do and it looks like we are going to have some trouble getting out of Michigan Wednesday morning because of another snow maker, but the Lord has given me a peace in the midst of the storm.

I had made plans to see my Aunt Friday morning, but with the snow storm and Lance's staff person not coming, I had to cancel. When I talked with her yesterday, she sounded so disappointed that we may not be able get together before I leave. That's when I started to think about what is truly important.
  • The gifts will get wrapped even if I have to wrap them down south.
  • We have enough cookies between my sisters and I, that baking another batch or two won't matter.
  • Dusting and vacuuming my house before we leave isn't important, even if my dear mother-in-law will be bringing in our mail.
  • That racing to leave at a certain time isn't as important as visiting an Aunt that I love and a dear friend who had surgery.
  • Calling my Dad and telling him I love him, even though I am still so hurt by his actions.

As I ponder all of this, I began to think about what I can give to Jesus for His birthday?

To make each moment count, to share His love with others as He would share it and to give of myself. I don't need to "do" all these other things, I need to experience peace only He can give and to be...

Besides, what would be better in a house full of laughing children, barking dogs and family all talking at once? An oven full of Chai cookies baked with the cardamom Phil is sending me, that way they will be fresh and eaten immediately, instead of sitting in a cold car that has traveled in snow and rain for 15 hours.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Early in the Morning

It is five in the morning and I have been awake since three.

I have been thinking of all the things that need to be done before Christmas and it kept me awake. I didn't want to wake the guys, so I decided not to do anything around the house.

I couldn't ask for a better time to spend with the Lord. We sat together and I chit chatted about my worries. I shared how hard it is this time of year without my mom. We read His word together and just sat in Communion.

He brings me peace. He brings me comfort. He brings me hope. He gives me balance.

I need Him...

Yes, it was a blessing that I couldn't sleep.

Early mornings...

Friday, December 12, 2008

Five Minutes of Blog Time

So I literally only have about five minutes and I wanted to keep everyone in the loop.

Lance's birthday was yesterday, our little miracle turned 23. We celebrated with his Grandparents. They had pizza, Parmesan sticks and salad, boy do they know our Lance, that is his favorite meal and he could eat it three times a day. They also gave him the perfect gift, a gift card to Blockbuster's.

I had a crazy weekend last week and it looks like it will be the same this weekend. I have been working at the Disney Store and lots, I mean lots, of parents are coming in to take advantage of the holiday sales.

Oliver and I have been working very hard with his training. It is going quite well, thank you Lord!

I want to bake some more and finish my shopping over the next few days, but we will see what happens.

I have trying to make a family calendar for my father and that has been going so slow, I guess I will need to put some overtime into the project.

We have been praying for all the people who have been affected by the auto industry collapse, it is devastating our area.

My five minutes are up and I have to change for work. Blessings to you all.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Tentative Victory

I met with the trainer today.

It is so amazing when we get to see the giftings of people in action. Karen is incredible with dogs, not only does she come to your home if you need her to, but she takes in the hardest to handle and puts them through boot camp. I, on the other hand, am just plain afraid of the smallest of God's creatures.

She tested an e-collar with my little Pocket Beagle and wallah!!!, I think we have it. Oliver reacted the way he was suppose to. He growled at me when I got too close to his food bowl and Karen gave him a little tick and he pulled away immediately. After three tries, he let me put my hand in the dish while he still had food. YES!!! Once we got home, I let him out without his lead and he tried to sneak under the fence and all it took was one little prod and he no longer tried to get out of the yard. It's working!!

She told me that our little Oliver is very smart and really very sweet, he just needs to let go of wanting to be the one in control.

So obviously God is, not so very subtly, trying to use this lesson to teach me about not wanting to relinquish my control to Him. Why does He have use little prods on me? Am I that stubborn? How long will it take for me to let go?

I think Oliver is much brighter than I am.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Patience

So it has come to this...

I am worn out every night, my blood pressure has gone through the roof and I am at my wits end.

Oliver...

He still is the cutest little doggie, but there is this streak... I have written about it in earlier posts. He doesn't like to be alone, EVER! So he whines and barks. He has nearly taken off a finger or two if I get too close while he is eating. He was trained not to go up to the second floor, but now he will not stay down if I am up. If I put him behind the gate, he carries on for what seems like hours (I am sure it is only 15 or 20 min. but it seems like hours). He is still having accidents on the floors and carpet. He jumps up on people when they stop in. Blah, blah, blah...

Kevin has said if these things don't improve soon, he's gone. (The dog, not Kevin)

I finally called the trainer I spent hundreds of dollars on when Oliver was only 11 weeks old. We talked for a while and this is what she said...Oliver is a very dominant dog (which she suspected way back when) and these behaviors will not go away on their own, they will only worsen.

So now I have a dilemma, spend more money or give the little monster away.

Karen was great and knows that money is tight for us, so she made a few suggestions and even volunteered to work free of charge for one afternoon. I am thanking God she had pity on me and is willing to help me out.

We are planning on taking the little guy with us for our Christmas trip to visit our daughters and they have three dogs between them. So there will be four dogs together for a week. I need to see an improvement with Oliver in the next two weeks.

Oh, by the way, there will be seven kids running around as well...

I guess I need to get my blood pressure medication refilled, have my checkbook ready and start praying for patience.

What is the old saying...never pray for patience? Hummm...

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Making a List and Checking all Day Long

This morning I had to make a list of the things I want to accomplish today...

Mix up a batch of cookies, put in fridge
Make beds
Wash wood floors
Vacuum all carpets
Dust the furniture
Bake the cookies
Go buy some chewies for Oliver
Pull out some more Christmas decorations (to be put up at a later time)
Put together the casserole for dinner
Do a couple of loads of laundry
Cook the casserole
Clean up kitchen
Get Lance ready for PT
Help Lance with PT
Relax and watch Biggest Loser Families
Make lunches for tomorrow
Go to bed

The funny thing is, I use to hate lists...really, really hated them. Kevin has always loved them, he does everything with lists. I always prided myself on being able to remember everything without making one. Well, three children, thirty one years of marriage, and a host of other distractions later, I cannot do anything without a list.

Without a list I get distracted and won't accomplish anything. Literally! I have to check off the item that I have finished and move on.

So this is my list for today and hopefully I will not have any of these items crossover to tomorrow's list.

Oh...I forgot to add blog to my list and now I am already behind. Go figure.



Noel Cookie Gems

I made these cookies last weekend for work and had tons of compliments and requests for the recipe. They are lighter in color and texture than their counterparts and freeze very well. I will bake a batch and put them into the freezer for the holidays.

Makes three dozen
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup shortening
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2-2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup sour cream
3/4 cup finely chopped nuts
1/3 cup seedless strawberry or raspberry jam

In a large bowl, cream the butter, shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. combine the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda; gradually add to creamed mixture alternately with sour cream. beating well after each addition. Shape into 1-1/4-in. balls; roll in nuts.

Place 2 in. apart on greased baking sheets. Using your finger make a 3/8 to 1/2 in deep indentation in the center of each ball. Fill with jam.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove to wire racks.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Traditions

I grew up in the Catholic faith. My sister and I went to parochial school, so needless to say, we have a huge history of Catholic traditions. About 30 years ago, I came to develop a relationship with Christ and started to attend a non-denominational church. I loved learning about Jesus in a more personal way and found freedom in the way this church worshipped.

But as time went on, I began to miss and crave my more traditional roots.

I find that as I grow older, I need to dive into the reverence of particular Holy days. During lent I want to focus on the Death of Christ and have actually gone back to the Catholic Church for the Stations of the Cross as well as communal confessions. And now that Advent is here, my family and I are going to focus on Advent as our preparation for Christmas.

I will never forget the salvation that Christ has brought to me and my family and I will relish the freedom of worshipping with my whole heart and soul, as well as participating in worship and not just being a spectator. But, I will also not forget the reverence, traditions and lessons I learned as a child.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Day 4 of Thanksgiving

I first heard the little squeak at 5:30 a.m. I tried to ignore it, but he wouldn't be ignored. So I plod down the stairs and opened the door and there he was, tail wagging, eyes gleaming and bounding around like he hasn't seen me in a year, even though I had let him out at 11:30 the night before. I put him out to do his business and by that time the other one was up. I put on the Disney channel, set Lance up on the couch, brought Oliver's bed out of the bathroom, gave him a bone to chew and headed back up to bed for a little while longer.

I crawled into bed and the room started spinning, my stomach gave a lurch and there you have it, my Thanksgiving. How am I suppose to be thankful, I asked myself. I tried to get a little more sleep but my body wasn't having it. I knew I had to prepare a few dishes to take to the in-laws for dinner and I also had to bake a couple of batches of cookies for work the next day.

I got out of bed holding my stomach, trying not to tumble into the walls and started my day for real.

After pulling out the ingredients I needed for the Sweet Potato Casserole and the modified Green Bean Casserole, I had to go sit down for a bit. And that is how my morning progressed, I'd do a little bit and sit down, do a bit more and sit down.

I finally had to make the decision not to go for the Thanksgiving celebration with Kevin and Lance and stay home on the couch for the day, and it looked like it was going to be a long, lonely day.

Now comes the hard part...what can I be thankful for?

I was able to spend some time with the Lord. I got to watch Miracle on 34th Street (I love that old movie!) I took a nap, not once but twice and I just plain ole rested, something I haven't done in forever. I talked with Brigette a few times, because she was by herself too. It turned out to be a quiet and slow day. I like those days. And I do have to say, today I am feeling so much better, which is a good thing, because I have to work at the mall today, yes Black Friday and I don't know how I would have done it not feeling well.

Thank you God, for the restful day yesterday and for the blessing of working today. Thank you too, for the lesson of knowing you have my life in your hands, no matter what happens.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Day 3 of Thanksgiving

I am thankful for returning to Michigan...

About eight years ago Kevin and I started to feel a nudging to move. We looked all around the area but couldn't put our finger on the right place. We looked high and low, houses, condos, and townhomes. Nada, nothing. Later that year, I drove my mom down to visit my sister in Charlotte and fell in love with the area, not to mention seeing Lisa again after so many months away from her.

I told Kevin and we planned our vacation visiting yet again. He too loved the area. While there Kevin contacted and interviewed with a Christian contractor and was hired on the spot. We went home and started to pray, and boy did we pray. To uproot Lance, leave a very good job, leave family and friends and move across the country was a huge undertaking and we wanted to be sure it was God leading us. After much council, encouragement from most everyone, and my parents deciding to move with us, we took the plunge and started to have a home built in Fort Mill, SC.

It was a huge step of faith and the start of one of the hardest time in our lives.

One month after moving in to our beautiful southern style home, Kevin lost his job. We began to question our decision. We drained our savings to pay for health insurance and the mortgage. What was suppose to be a wonderful time became extremely stressful. I went to work first part time and then full time. Kevin fell into a deep depression.

We found a great church that had a special needs ministry for Lance. We found out about the Joni and Friends ministry and received a lot of support. I made some wonderful life long friends and grew so close to my sister. My sister and my mom were able to spend a few beautiful years together that they may not have had otherwise, and I got to be there when my niece was born. I loved my job, and the experience I gained from working was immeasurable. Lance had the opportunity to attend a brand new program in the best school district in all of South Carolina. I can go on and on but I won't.

Kevin finally found a new job, but it was a very uncomfortable place for him to work and he continued to look for something else. In the mean time, my mother fell ill and started to decline very quickly. Things were changing again. Lance was coming to the end of his school years and there wasn't any place for him to go after graduation.

2006-my mother died, Lance graduated, we sold our home because we could no longer afford to live there. Kevin got a call about a job opportunity in Michigan and he took it. It broke my heart because I left my girls and sisters there.

We have come to find out that Michigan, leads the nation for services to people with special needs. Lance is doing well and receiving many benefits by living here. Kevin is still working in spite of the tough economical times. We have a wonderful church to attend. I still grieve over having to move back, but God knows what he is doing.

I am thankful for this, truly thankful for what He has done for my guys by moving us back. I am also thankful for the amazing lessons I learned while living down south and hope that one day I will return.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Day 2 of Thanksgiving

"In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."
1 Thessalonians 5:18

I do not want to trivialize the importance of being thankful for my family, home, food, clothes, comfort...I am, I really really am thankful for the wonderful blessings of God. But I have been thinking of the importance of being thankful for everything in my life.

I remembered reading years ago the account of Corrie Ten Boon's life in a concentration camp during the reign of Hitler. In the book "The Hiding Place" she told of some deplorable conditions, but the one thing that really struck me was the story of an infestation of fleas in the barracks. Corrie's sister Betsy told her that they needed to thank God for everything including the fleas. Corrie couldn't believe that Betsy would even think of thanking God for the pests. But it was those fleas that kept the guards from doing inspections and because of that, they were able to keep a Bible, pray and share the love of God to all the women and children who lived with them.

How about the persecuted Christians in places like China who feel sorry for the Christians here in the United States. They thank God everyday for the opportunity to share in His suffering. They actually feel closer to Him and stronger because of it.

What is it in my life that I complain about but really need to be thankful for?

Moving back to Michigan when I didn't want to? Watching my father marry someone who I don't feel is a good choice for him? Having a son with disabilities? What about waiting in a long line when I have other things to do...

Monday, November 24, 2008

Day 1 of Thanksgiving

What am I thankful for...this question really makes me uncomfortable.

I have many things I am thankful for, family, a home (especially a warm home), food, clothing (even if they are a tad bit tight), a car, health...

But what am I truly thankful for? I am going to ponder this over the next few days.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Our Son


Lance.

He brings more joy to us than anything else in the world. He brings more struggle to our lives than anything else in the World.

Lance was born six weeks early, he weighed a whopping 5 lbs. 1 oz. Very big for being that early, if things had gone the way the were suppose to, he probably would have weighed eight lbs. He came very fast, I went from being dilated at four to delivering in 10 minutes. The doctors knew there was something wrong. He was whisked away and taken to the special nursery. After 10 hours it was determined that they couldn't take care of him there and transferred him to the big hospital down the road where they could put him in the NICU.

He didn't reach his milestones on time, at eleven months he was just starting to roll over. When he turned eighteen months old our world stopped, he was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy and seizures and we were told he would never walk, or talk.

He showed those doctors a thing or two...he started to walk at two and a half years old. He said his first word at three and even though he struggled, he could talk. But other things were popping up and over time we learned that he was cognitively impaired. He was diagnosed with ADHD, boarder line Autism, OCD and his talking never did improve much. He currently has the cognitive ability of a seven year old.

Lance will be 23 next month. He loves, loves, loves the Beatles. He can tell you (if you listen carefully) every movie, Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Robbin Williams and Tim Curry is in. He knows who did all the voices for the characters in every animated film that has come out in the last ten years. (Bet you didn't know Bernadette Peters lends her voice as an angel in the Beauty and the Beast Christmas movie and do you know that John Ratzenberger's voice is in all the Pixar movies?)

Over the last year we found he has a Cavernous Angioma and a compressed brainstem. The angioma is not causing any problems at the moment. The brainstem compression is causing Lance to regress in certain areas. Both of these issues may require delicate surgeries but not at the moment. He receives physical and speech therapy to slow the regression.

Lance needs help with some dressing, tying shoes, hygiene, bathing, cutting his food and basic life skills. He attends a vocational school and has three people that come throughout the week to spend time with him.

He is happy all the time, he loves a good joke, spends way too much time watching TV and listening to music. He loves to go to the special needs Sunday School class and boy does he love to eat! He hates to exercise and adores his family.

We adore him. He is our everything.

We see the world as unfair. We see the challenges of many who are not quite perfect. It makes us angry.
He sees the world as amazing.

He is our son.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Faith View

Today is prayer day.

It is the day I look forward to all week.

There was a time in the not so distant past that I didn't want to go. First of all, my illness whacked me out so bad that I had to make myself leave the house and when I did there was a good chance that I would have a panic attack. Secondly, I was gone for so long that going back to prayer was difficult. Lastly, and I am not sure how to explain this, but my view changed a bit while living down south.

My faith view.

Things that I use to feel were important are no longer important. My prayer is for a deepening relationship with Him. To be willing to do what He asks me to do even if it hurts. (And many times it has!) My prayer is that my family will keep Jesus first in their lives. That we will have the courage to reach out to those who need us. My comfort is no longer important. My image is not worth a hill of beans if I am not putting others first. I have to let my pride go by the wayside.

I know you may think, well duh...this should have been my view all along. And it was, but in a selfish way. I wanted God to take notice of what I was doing for Him. To answer my, oh so spiritual prayers. To make my family and I successful and then we could do amazing things for Him. To walk in wealth and health and spiritual maturity.

God's faithfulness...He wouldn't let me stay that way. He won't let any of us stay that way. He craves a deeper relationship with us. He desires for us to look to Him for everything. He wants us to grow in the Word. He wants true prayer and communion with Him. He wants our fellowship to be pure. He loves us.

I get to go to prayer and I have a new faith view.



**My friend Cindy at Letters from Midlife is doing a give away. They are beautiful handmade note cards she made herself. Go check it out.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Oliver, Chapter 2 or is 3 or 4?


Oliver, Oliver, Oliver. He is our 7 month old puppy. I think he is the most adorable puppy ever created. I know he is the most frustrating puppy ever created.

He was house trained to go outside, he was trained to stay on the mainfloor of our house. He was nuetered one month ago.

EVERYTHING went out the window.

It turned cold and when he goes outdoors he stands at the door and shivers. It doesn't matter how long I leave him out (not longer than 5 minutes!) he will come in and promptly use the rug or floor as his pee pad. The dinning room rug is where he does his number.

He decided he would rather be upstairs than down and no matter what I do he still sneaks up the stairs and goes into Lance's room to mark it and steal his things.

The problem is I can't look in those eyes and not love him to pieces.
Help!!! I need advice to retrain. Do you have any ideas?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Longing

I am in a funk, a blue funk to be exact.

Angela, our oldest, lives in Charleston, SC, right now. She left home right out of High School to go to College two and a half hours away, while there she met David. After they graduated they married. She would never come home to live again.

Brigette, our middle one, lives in Charleston, SC with her sister and brother-in-law. She left after three years of school at the local university. She moved to Minneapolis for another couple of years then came home (it was a disaster) and moved into an apartment until three months ago.

We moved down to South Carolina for a while and I was able to share Lisa and Rhonda's lives with them. (my sisters) It was wonderful.

Mom and Dad moved with us. Mom, my friend, confidant, caregiver for Lance when I needed her, my number one cheerleader, passed away while living there.

We moved back to Michigan. Dad remarried. Phil and Russ (brothers) live in CO and CA.

I miss my family, they mean everything to me. So today I am wallowing in my funk and longing for them.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Goal

I decided I needed to have a goal for Christmas. But the question is, what kind of goal?

What if I plan to get all my shopping done online this year, this way we will not have to worry about all the gas that we would use going to the malls or the strip stores, they are quite a distance from our house.

How about baking a batch of cookies everyday for the next few weeks and freezing them so I won't be frantic the last week before Christmas trying to get all the baking finished.

Or there's the Christmas cards, if I would get up earlier than normal the day after Thanksgiving, I could probably get it finished before breakfast.

And if I do my decorating the day before Thanksgiving, I wouldn't have to worry about trying to jam it in while I am addressing the envelopes for the Christmas cards the day after.

So I am stopping to think...what would be the best goal to set for Christmas?

All these things are good goals and in fact I may initiate a few, if not, all of them. But, I think my goal will be to remember the old cliche` "Jesus is the Reason for the Season". What would be the best way to remember? Give my life again to Him, love my family and friends, reach out to those who are down and out. Celebrate what He has done for me.

He is my Goal!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Facebook Warnings

I joined facebook quite awhile ago at the request of a friend I use to work with. I joined, but being somewhat computer illiterate, I didn't know how to use it and besides I was pretty sick at the time and could barely keep up with my e-mail.

Well, a few months back, I got back on and started to figure it out and even though I still need a lot of instruction on how to use the program, I am basically an official facebooker.

I love it...it is amazing that some old friends have found me and we have reconnected. I also have talked a few of my family members to join and it is fun to see what they are doing throughout their day. We can post pictures for each other to enjoy and best of all you can throw a purple octopus at someone. (Sorry to anyone who is not a Wings fan.)

THIS IS MY WARNING!!! If you really don't want to know what your young nephew or cousin is doing, don't accept their request of friendship. Yikes, I knew these kids (okay, I will give them credit and let you know that they are young adults), had fun away from home, but golly gee, I have been naive. Some of the things people post online for everyone to see is frightening.

Enough of my old age, head in sand, naive rants. I love facebook and it's fun.

Gina is excited to be blogging at the moment.

Oh, and one more warning, it will suck you in.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

More Favorite Things

Here are some things that I enjoy.

  • Wood burning in a fireplace
  • A children's choir singing
  • Books, books and more books
  • Josh Groban CDs
  • A snowy night when all the sound is muffled and the air is crisp
  • Pictures from the family
  • Lance laughing at Zack and Cody
  • Shrimp Cocktail
  • My fluffy warm bathrobe on a cold morning (thanks Brig)
  • Facebook
  • Kevin watching the Red Wings
  • A country Christmas Store
  • Reminiscing
  • Oliver chasing his tail
  • A mug of Mexican hot chocolate

I guess it's easy to make me smile. What are yours?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Help!!

Since my father recently remarried and I didn't know what to get him (them) for Christmas, I decided to make a family collage calendar. I have asked my siblings to send pictures of themselves and their children and grandchildren. I am excited about this venture but not quite sure how to go about it.

I checked out many photo web sites, but found their templates were too limiting, they only allow one, two or four pics per page. So, I thought I would do my own...and there's the rub.

I am basically a technophobe!

Yes, I blog, with many tries and restarts, but actually putting together something like a scrapbook calendar, well let's just say, I NEED HELP!!

I would love if any of you wise crafters and scrapbookers and well, anyone who is just plain computer literate, would offer some suggestions.

Thanks!!!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Desire


Some like it plain, others like it loaded.

It can melt in your mouth, melt on your hands, melt on a child's face or melted and served over ice cream.

Made hot with marshmallows.

It can be ooey and gooey and chewy.

It can be light or milk or dark.

You can cook with it, bake with it, fondue it or freeze it.

It can be added to coffee, milk, tea or sauces.

You can add crispies or raisins or almonds or peanut butter to it.

It tastes amazing and I crave it.

Chocolate

Oh, sweet chocolate...


Wouldn't it be great if we desired the Lord like that?

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Normal Days

A year ago I had some simple surgery to remove a parathyroid gland as well as half my thyroid gland. Little did I know that what was suppose to correct some annoying and frustrating symptoms, ended up causing a major body and mind meltdown.

After going to the emergency room three times only to be told I was having anxiety attacks, I finally went to my chiropractor. He has been a Godsend more than once to our family. (Thank you Jeff) He took one look at me and sent me to a different doctor who admitted me immediately to the hospital and called the Chief of Neurology.

I was told I had a very rare disorder called Sydenhams Chorea. This was the result of an infection I picked up during the surgery. Instead of my immune system attacking the infection, it attacked my brain, resulting in uncontrollable movements (similar to a seizure or Parkinson's) and psychosis. I was shaking so bad that I was unable to walk unassisted and couldn't feed myself, but the worst of it was the extreme paranoia and depression. While in the hospital I was put on massive doses of intravenous antibiotics and they tried many different drugs to control the involuntary jerking. The doctors finally found one that worked best but it caused severe cramping of the feet, so I had to be put on another drug to help with that. I was also put on antidepressants, xanax as well as oral antibiotics. I think I was taking seven different medications.

As I look back now, I realize just how sick I really was and it was many months before I started to feel better. This was on the heels of major surgery, my mother dying and moving back up to Michigan and leaving my daughters and sisters down in the Carolinas, need less to say, my world was turned upside down.

I mention all this, because I surprised myself by telling Kevin last week that I was happy. I really am happy again. I am about 80% recovered from the knee surgery that I had in May. I can get through the day without having to take a nap or spend a major part of my afternoon on the couch. My body needs some loving care in the form of exercise because it has gotten very flabby, but it is working again. I know it is the faithfulness of God that has brought me through the most horrible time of my life. He has healed me!! I still have times of being down or crabby but I am over it quickly. These are normal days again (did I just say NORMAL!?!)

I am smiling and I am happy!!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Renewed

I have to admit that I had a rough day yesterday, it was full of sadness, frustration, fear and plain old lack of faith.

I then went to prayer with a couple of friends who themselves, were struggling with outcome of the election. As we talked we started to encourage one another.

First of all, if we just step back and look, we would see the historic significance of what had just happened. Our great nation had elected the first black man in history to serve as president. I wish it would have been someone much more conservative, but there you go.

Next, we are on the cusp of an amazing change for the Church. I talked with several people of different denominations and they were all saying the same thing, it is so important for us to pray for those who need Christ.

Finally, let's make a difference in our own world while looking heavenward to the next.

So no matter what we may feel, think or believe about what has happened, we need to remember that God is in control and pray the prayer that never fails, "Thy will be done, on earth, as it is in Heaven".

Monday, November 3, 2008

Helping Hands

With such dire news about the economy lately, and the recent announcements of government budget cuts, I have been concerned about the organizations and charities that rely so heavily on our help this time of year. Most, if not all, get the largest amount of contributions between Oct. 31st and Dec. 31st. This when they make up their budgets for the rest of the year. With so many people losing their homes and jobs you know that donations will be down big time, as well as more and more people needing assistance themselves. Our church resently collected coats, change, canned foods, etc...to give to local charities. Here is a list of suggested organizations. Also, will you please consider sending this on to others and add on in the comment area if you have others, we really need to help this year.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Scaredy Cat


I decided I needed to get Oliver some exercise, so I took him to a dog park. Now, I need exercise too, but I thought he would enjoy running with other dogs more than walking with me. When we walked through the gates, he took one look around and tried to climb up my leg. I walked him further in and he literally hid between my legs. When ever I moved, he was right there moving with me. Other dogs came over to visit, he couldn't get any lower to the ground. His poor little tail was curled up under his belly. I moved across the park to a bench where it was empty and he hid under the bench.
THIS IS MY AGGRESSIVE PUPPY!!

He is so friendly with people and little dogs, but when it comes to bigger dogs, well lets just say, he is a scaredy cat.

I will take him again soon.

Meow

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Guilty Pleasures

As I watched my DVR'ed program this morning, I started thinking that there are certain things I wickedly enjoy. Yes, I am admitting to some guilty pleasures, please don't judge.

I really, really enjoy "Pushing Daisies", this program makes me laugh out loud even when I am alone. (Which is the only time I watch it, because Brigette isn't close by to watch it with me and Kevin doesn't care for it)

I sneak a Snicker's bar every so often when stressed (thanks Tina).

Janet Evanovich novels (thanks Lisa and Mom).

Watching reality TV (Biggest Loser, Survivor, Jon & Kate plus 8 and Little People, Big World, which I also DVR because Kevin doesn't enjoy them).

I absolutely love watching a fight break out on the ice while the Red Wings are playing. (Kevin does watch the Wings with me and probably enjoys the fights even more than I do).

A grande peppermint mocha latte with whip, thank you.

Looking in people's windows at night when their shades are up (only because I want to see how they decorate their house).

Organizing my pantry so all the labels are facing forward and the cans and jars lined up exactly (my whole family thinks that this is a bit of OCD, okay, a lot of OCD, so I try not to do this too often!).

Singing or humming to myself in public (it's amazing how many looks I get, so I don't do this too often either).

And last but not least, chips with french onion dip.

There I confessed, so now you know. What are your guilty pleasures?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Chilly Morning

Last night we had a few wet snow flakes fall for the first time this year and we woke to a very chilly morning. We have been diehards and haven't wanted to turn on the furnace, the floors were cold and we all had goosebumps. When it was time to send Lance to school, I bundled him up in a sweatshirt and winter coat and sent him out to the driveway to wait for the bus. In the mean time I had on my big fluffy bathrobe and warm socks and I was fine. Both Kevin and Lance are gone by 6:30 a.m. so this morning I decided to climb back into bed and curl up under the comforter for another hour.

When I got back up, I realized it was even colder yet and finally broke down and turned on the furnace. After about ten minutes I began to wonder where Oliver went to, I couldn't find him anywhere and that's when I discovered that he was partway under the front of the couch. We have a register behind the couch and you can feel the heat radiating from underneath it. He found the perfect spot to warm up.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

A Good Day

We had a beautiful day yesterday. We traveled a little over three hours to visit Maranatha family vacation/conference center in Muskegon, it is right between Lake Michigan and a small lake named Mono Lake. Even though it was rainy at times it was also lovely with the fall colors and falling leaves and what beautiful facilities they have!! We were there to check out the site for the summer Joni and Friends Family Retreat. It will be able to hold approximately 95 families. (truly amazing!!) I wrote about our summer experience this past August in upper MI, in an earlier post. It is such a necessary break for many families who have who have loved ones with special needs. This facility has condos, hotel rooms, apartments and houses, they have a beautiful pool, tennis courts, a climbing wall and a zip line. There will be horseback riding, a gorgeous beach and trails to wander as well as fishing and boating. There is an amazing gym with a workout room and a fully staffed cafeteria (believe it or not, the food was very good!) There are also plenty of meeting rooms and a huge chapel for services. The people who plan this event were so excited and can't wait!!

Now comes the hard part...we have to find Short Term Missionaries or STM's for short. We are going to have start recruiting area churches to look for people who want to serve. It is a great way to experience a mission trip without having to pay so much and travel out of the country. Everyone who serves love the experience and want to go back, our problem is we always need to find more people because there are so many new families each year.

We need to pray and ask God to lead us to the right place and the right people.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Forever Friday

That's what I would like it to be, forever Friday. Fridays are so expectant, they are full of plans and feel so different than a Monday or a Tuesday or Wednesday or even a Thursday and they don't have the gloom of a Sunday evening. They hold promise. On Fridays you are making plans for the weekend such as going out on Friday night or staying in and hunkering down. You plan for Saturday whether it is doing a family outing or staying home and working around the house. And of course there are the football games or a Saturday day hockey game. Family birthdays are usually planned for the weekend and best of all, Sunday morning breakfast with church service following and a family lunch or dinner planned for later that day.


So here's to you Friday!!! I am so glad you are here! I have a nice weekend planned with dinner tonight with friends, a Saturday drive out to Muskegon with Kevin and Lance and a relaxing Sunday. I will also get a hockey game or two to watch. And I will not think about Monday until Sunday evening.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Last Visage of Summer

It was a glorious weekend and we were able to finish most of the yard and outdoor work. I cut down all the hostas, astilbes and peonies, but I couldn't bring myself to cut down the last of the perennials. They survived last week's frosts and continued to bloom. Here are a few pics.



We also were able to get a some what chilly bike ride in. Here is Kevin and Lance on Lance's tandem.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Rants and Raves


I had to take Oliver to have his stitches removed and do a few errands. While out, I decided to treat myself to a cup of coffee. I only had a couple of dollars in change (rant #1) so I pulled into a Burger King to get a Mocha Joe. Now, I prefer to go to Starbucks, Caribou Coffee or even an independent coffee shop but a Mocha Joe will do in a pinch. Anyway, while waiting in line in the drive through, I saw a woman in a black Cadillac Escalade very sneakily, throw her trash out the window. It infuriated me!! All the talk about the environment and keeping our planet clean, you would think that she could just hold onto it until she got home... Well now we get into the whole entitlement thinking thing and you don't want me to go there.


We went to see the new Christian movie "Fireproof" last night. I was very disappointed. I realize that Christian film makers are trying to break into the movie industry and I applaud their efforts, but you have to pick GOOD ACTORS!!! As the movie got going Kirk Cameron started to become believable as well as some of the firemen in his department, but that is where it ends. The rest of the cast just couldn't pull it off. I know there are very talented christian actors out there, please look for them. I guess it is like the music back in the eighty's and early ninety's, eventually they will get it.


What is it about staffing for the special needs or elderly? There is not a week goes by that one or more of the staff people, who work with Lance, call to cancel. I know that they are not paid well (which is another grip that I won't get into right now) but it is a job and Lance looks for forward to seeing them. He does not have friends outside of school and gets pretty lonely at times and let's face it, what 22 year old young man wants to hang out with his parents all the time. They help him with some of his chores or help him make a simple meal or dessert or they go out into the community. He treasures these times and is so disappointed when they don't show up. Also, do they realize that when we don't get the full amount of hours allotted through the county, we end up losing them?


Okay I am finished at the moment, thank you for letting me get these things off my chest. I will face my day with optimism and hope, I will also look for the good in all that is around me.

Monday, October 13, 2008

A Big Breath of Fresh Air


My day has been hectic. I didn't go anywhere or really do anything important.

I stayed home and vacuumed, dusted, washed the dishes. I did a couple loads of laundry. I chased Oliver up and down the stairs (he is not allowed on the second floor). I talked with my sister, brother and daughter. I cleaned up a pee and poo accident from Oliver. I made beds and tried organize Lance's closet. I had to discipline Oliver because I got too close to his food dish and he growled at me.

That's when I started to feel really overwhelmed. Why is it, when the simplest things in life don't go quite the way we think, we lose it?

Okay, I need some fresh air. I went out on the balcony and took a big breath, I sat down and started thanking God for the little things in my life. (I need to remind myself of these things every so often)

We have water to wash the clothes in, there is enough food in the house to dirty the dishes. I really enjoy the way made beds look and it's not hard to do at all. I love talking with my family, I look forward to it every day. Even Oliver is a blessing, it wasn't too long ago that I cried because I thought I wouldn't see him again and to tell you the truth, it was fun watching him try to sneak up the stairs when he thought I wasn't looking. It is beautiful outside and looking at the river calms me.

I needed this.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Incredible

Oliver, don't even think about it!!

video

Owning a beagle, I am not surprised at the determination.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Johnny Depp and Other Fun People


While talking with Brigette this morning, she informed me that Johnny Depp was staying at the hotel where she worked. Of course she hasn't seen him and probably will not get to because he is pretty well secluded and protected.

This brought on the conversation of all the famous people she and Angela have had the opportunity to meet. Brigette worked at a theater while in college and she met many celebs. Now I have to clarify that these celebrities are B rated and (sorry, her term, not mine) old. They include...

Susan Summers
Tim Conway and Harvey Korman (she loved these guys!!)
Victor Borge
The Beach Boys
Frankie Avalon
Tom Jones
Rip Taylor
Gallagher
The Oakridge Boys (her favorite people to work with)
Don Rickles
Bobby Vinton
Frank Sinatra Jr.
John Tesh
As well as others...

She also got to meet...
Nocole Nordeman
Twila Paris (one of the most gracious, kind and genuine people she has ever met)
Avalon
Anointed
Clay Cross

Now Angela has met lots of people as well, but she tends to keep it under wraps except for the chance meeting of Tom Hanks. He thought she was a sales person in a store she was visiting and anyway, he was embarrassed, blah, blah, blah.

The funny thing is, Lance thinks his sisters are best friends with all these people and it makes us laugh it also makes the girls feel important. Like the time Lance told Angela to tell Tom he said hi.

It made me think, what would our society look like if we study the Bible like we study the tabloids? Would we be as intrigued with others who know Christ? Would I get excited over my friend having a relationship with Him? Or on the flip side am I embarrassed that Angela got to meet Tom? Just some thoughts to ponder...

And in the mean time, tell Jesus I said hi.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Tidbits



Not a lot going on in my life right now, so here are a few tidbits from the last few days.

  • Oliver was neutered, hoping it will help the little bit of aggression he still has. I feel bad though, because he is very sore and sleepy.

  • Only watched a little of the debate and then turned it off. Couldn't stand the mudslinging.

  • Lance went to a respite home this past weekend, we were not very happy with the staffing there. I will write more about services for the special needs in a future post.

  • Went to my first meeting at the Disney store. It was okay, but I am wondering if they will be retaining all the new hires because of the constant bad news about the economy.

  • My brother and his wife moved into the house next door to us. It is nice to have him close by.

  • Enjoyed prayer with Chris and Bernice this morning. Love getting together with them every Weds. and praying for our families, churches and country.

  • Spent time reading the Word. Love the time I share with the Lord, only I need to do more of it.

  • Talked with my daughter about her new world down in Charleston. She loves school and working in the city, but has some difficulties with the changes in her life.


That's it for now...I have to go grocery shopping. Ugh...

Picture is of Kevin and Lance at a Tiger's game.

Friday, October 3, 2008

I Want to be Different

Yesterday I had the opportunity to read Margret Feinberg's blog about what kind of Christian we want to be. It was very challenging and thought provoking and I have to say, that I want to be a November 5th Christian. A Christian not in word or vote only, but one who truly makes a difference.

I don't want to be one of those who complain about my government or people or church and sit around and do nothing. I want to make a change in and around me . My hope is that I am doing that in the special needs community. Did you know that 95% of families affected by disabilities are unchurched? I want to change that and reach out to those people. I want to listen to other parents as they share the struggles they face or help the person who is unable to get around
himself by giving him a ride. What about those who, because of government cuts, can't pay rent or put food on their tables, I want to make sure they are being helped. Many of these people are unable to work because of their disabilities. I want to make a difference, I want to bring them hope, I want to bring them Jesus.

Jesus, please help me to be an effective witness for you. Please help me to meet the need when you ask. Please allow me the opportunity to show your love to those around me.

So, for all I complained, I repent. I want to be different. I want to be a November 5th Christian. I also want to challenge you to be a source of change in the world around you. Don't just vote November 4th, make a difference November 5th.

Thank You Sarah


I, like millions of others, watched the Vice Presidential debate last night and I have to say I was riveted to the TV. Of course most of us were watching to see how Sarah Palin would handle herself and if she would be the same Sarah we saw at the GOP convention...HURRAH...she was!

I love the fact that Sarah came across as a feisty, home grown, hockey mom who has the same concerns for her family as I do for mine. She was witty, funny, firm and confident. She admitted to the fact that she had only been doing this VP thing for five weeks which gave her a vulnerability that I can appreciate. It was obvious that she worked and studied hard. She also mentioned that there were a few issues that she and McCain didn't agree on, that made her real. But I think the most important thing that came across were her values, they are values that I can relate to.

Thank you Sarah for giving me hope again. I still hate politics (see previous post) but now I feel I can vote. Whether or not McCain/Palin are voted in is up to God, but in the meantime I will will be praying, hoping, watching and believing for what I feel is the best for America.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

I Hate Politics

Yes, I hate politics. I can't stand the negative adds or the constant arguing or the promises that cannot be kept because the house or senate disagree. I wonder if this is because I grew up in an extremely dysfunctional home whose parents argued and fought continually.

I would prefer to hear of the changes and/or policies the candidates will bring to the table and to have the parties come together for the good of the people without the tearing down or ripping apart. I know, I live in a fantasy world.

It is interesting to watch the local news, as you know, Michigan is a battle ground state and the talk all around is about the huge undecided vote. And even more interesting is the fact that these undecideds are waiting to see the veep debate tonight. I never thought I would live to see the day that we would use our votes to elect a vice president instead of a president, but I have to admit to wanting to do the very same thing...

I am waiting to see how Sarah Palin does in this debate. I, like so many others, loved the fact than she came out and knocked the socks off of everyone at the GOP convention, but let's be honest, her performance in the Katie Couric interview was less than stellar. I am hoping it was nerves.

So, I too, am going to watch the debate tonight. I will be wringing my hands and biting my lips, rolling my eyes and disliking the fact that I am giving up my evening for it. I will also be praying because I need to see someone I can believe in to vote for. To see someone who has the same views I do and feel that these issues are important. I also know that I cannot vote for Biden.

Grrrrr...I hate politics, I wish it were December!!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Kevin's Day


Yesterday was Kevin's birthday, he turned 53. Because Lance had physical therapy at 7:00 p.m. we decided to wait until today to celebrate. I asked him what he wanted for his bday dinner and he told me he wanted spaghetti like our friend Jan makes. Well this is a challenge...Jan married an Italian and learned to make this meat sauce from his mother. I have never made the stuff because it is so involved. I found an old recipe and looked up another two online and meshed the recipes together. I started this last night and it is now cooking away in my kitchen. It has ribs, meatballs and Italian sausage with fresh herbs and garlic, blah, blah, blah. Well I have to admit it smells out of this world and since I don't have an Italian bone in my body, I am hoping for the best.

I asked Lance what he wanted to get for his dad, he told me a tool. Kevin is the tool king and I am sure the last thing he needs is another tool, but Lance wanted to do this. We drove to the hardware store and Lance picked out a hammer. (Kevin must have eight of these!) It made me smile because it shows he pays attention to what his dad enjoys doing. For a guy with special needs he is quite intuitive with those around him.

I have been looking for a championship locker room Red Wings cap for months for Kevin and have struck out every time. He really wanted one. (We are huge Wing nuts) I finally found one on Ebay and won it, he will be so surprised.

I think he will have a wonderful evening with us and his parents. I am so happy to do something special for this amazing man God gave me. He is faithful, loyal, has incredible integrity and is so loving and helpful. He has been a great father and husband and I pray God will bless him with all he desires.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Fun With Chicken


We worked on the front of the house all afternoon. Washed down the siding, overhangs, light fixtures, railings as well as the windows in and out. It needed to be done on the balcony as well as the front porch. We couldn't ask for a better day, sunny, temps in the 60's and no wind.

Around 5:00 I began to think about dinner. We didn't have enough in the budget to go out again and I had some thawed chicken in the fridge that needed to be cooked. What to do? I get so bored with chicken, it's always the same.

I decided to pull out an old cookbook and started to look for a recipe that calls for ingredients that I had on hand. The problem is I need to go shopping and each recipe had some ingredients I had and some I didn't. So now what? I started to play and in the end I came up with a Caribbean style chicken that my family loved. The sauteed chicken was topped with a topping that consisted of lemon juice, brown sugar, coconut, raisins, onions and butter and then baked. (Okay, so it wasn't low fat)! I served it with brown rice and a mixed green salad with pineapple.

I am not a photographer but this is sort of what the chicken looked like. Need less to say, I ended up being creative and had fun in the process.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Going Deeper

Our Church has initiated a new series call RE:FORMATION. It is taking place over a period of 100 days and challenging us to deepen our walks with God. Now to be honest with you I am only in the very beginning and already feel like I have failed the task. We are encouraged to read 1/100th of the Bible every day, I haven't. In fact I was a part of a Bible Buddies group who were reading through the Bible in a year. I haven't followed through with that either. (Just to let you know, I have read the Bible through many times but not recently) I read the Word everyday, okay if I am being honest, not every day but most days, but sometimes I just read one chapter and that may not be in the books that I am suppose to be reading. I do tend to stay in the New Testament most of the time because I love reading what Jesus tells us...

I really want to move closer to the Lord but find I am so weak. So this is my challenge to myself. I will read a portion of the Word everyday and write it at the end of each post on this blog. If I don't have much to say (blog) I will at least post my reading. That way I will feel accountable.

So off I go on another journey. I will report what I am learning along the way. I will also share some of the other books I may be reading at time.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

More Favorite Things


Mr. Handsome, Noah



The little sprite, Olivia



The Little General, Lily




The Young Lady, Emma (You are growing up too fast Missy)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Ode to Autumn


In my younger years I was much more optimistic, but time and life have changed me and not for the better I will have to say. I now lean to the pessimistic side. (Thanks mom!)

Yesterday was the first day of Autumn and I read many poems written in honor of it. Words and pictures devoted to the fall time of year, crunching leaves, russet colors, cooling temps, apples picked, cider made, pumpkins ripened and of coarse the donuts. Okay, I will give you the cider donuts, but I can't help to think that all this is just a prelude to the cold and snow.

I came to love the warm winters down south while we lived there. I think the four of the five Christmases that we spent there had temps in the 60's and 70's. Last year, back in Michigan, Christmas day was dingy and cold. Burrrr...

My son loves to plan. He has autistic tendencies and one of the problems he faces is compulsive planning. He plans his breakfasts, lunches and dinners days ahead, this also goes for holidays. He has been talking about Christmas for several months now. I have been thinking of Christmas for months now. We will be going to Charleston, SC for the holiday. I will get to spend it with my girls, bask in the warmth, walk along the shore and of course go into the city and forget the frigid weather up here.

So here's to you Autumn! Come on in and lead us to the cold and snow, Lance and I are planning our escape. Until then I will drink the cider and eat the donuts and even crunch some leaves under my feet, but you will not get me to write an ode or two to you.

Monday, September 22, 2008

...of mice and men.


I worked Sunday afternoons holding open a model home until four weeks ago. There are people moving in now and I no longer have a job. The problem is I need a princess job...my son leaves for school at 6:30 a.m. and returns home about 2:30 p.m. four days a week. Who is going to hire me for those hours? I can work nights and weekends but the economy is horrible here in Michigan...

In the egress window at the model home lived two frogs, an assortment of spiders and a very small, furry mouse. It was great to go down into the basement every week and see my own little eco system. The last time I was down, I saw that little mouse all curled up in the sash of the window sleeping contentedly. I began to related to that little mouse. I am very content living in my own little world, not willing to try to escape from my small surroundings. I love just being in my home cleaning, cooking, reading, watching TV...not venturing too far.

I use to live and work in the Carolinas and miss it terribly. I long to go back. I guess that is why I curl up and sleep. It is time to venture out and move on, what ever that means.

I found a part time job at the Disney Store and I am still looking for other work. I need to get more involved at church and get to know more people. I am just not sure how to do it, it has been so long.

Help me Lord not to be too content and sleepy and also help me to trust you to move me out of my little window.

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Best Laid Plans...


Tuesday afternoon I decided that since my knee is much better (still not 100%)and I am feeling pretty good now, I will start my diet and workout at the gym. I walk with Oliver for about 20-30 min. everyday but that is a slower walk and we are beginning to bike again but not everyday.

My brother had given be a recipe Sunday and told me it was to die for. Peanut butter popcorn. I know it has been around a while but he and I have never made it before. Anyway, I decided to make it Tuesday night for the one last hurrah. Okay...that wasn't a good idea, I couldn't stop eating it!!! I finally got up and threw out the last half. Yes, I know me and knew I wouldn't stop eating it, so out it went.

Wednesday was an okay day as far as the diet goes, but I didn't go to the gym because I was so busy. Thursday was another okay day but I made quesadillas for dinner, again no gym. Thursday evening my brother called and asked if I made the popcorn...I told him what happened and he had the nerve to laugh.

Now the thought was planted...AGAIN!!! Yep, I made the peanut butter popcorn. I didn't throw it out this time, I set it on the counter and every time I walk by I grabbed a piece. Now I want you to know that I cut the recipe down by half and only ate half of that last night. It is still calling me.

I think it will end up in the trash again. And today I am going to the gym, oh wait, I have to clean the house and go to the pharmacy and stop at the library and do a couple loads of laundry and...okay, I'll go to the gym tomorrow.

Peanut Butter Popcorn:

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup or honey
Bring to a rolling boil; remove from heat

Add:
1/2 cup chunky peanut butter or you can use creamy peanut butter and add some chopped peanuts
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Drizzle over 2 quarts of unsalted popped popcorn (1/3 to 1/2 cup of unpopped popcorn)
Stir to coat

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Money Pit


* Initial purchase price - $$$$$
* Premium, all natural food and treats x 5 - $$
* Supplies, toys - $$$
* Inoculations x 3 - $$$
* Monthly heart worm and flea and tick treatment x 4 - $$
* Behaviorist - $$$$
* Parasite treatment - $
* Trip to breeder's (to return him) - $$
* Trip to breeder's (to pick him back up) - $$
* Mange treatment x 3 - $$$
* Parasite treatment again - $
* Adoring eyes, uncompromising love, walking partner - Priceless

*OLIVER*

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Quandary


Kevin and I sat in the front row and Lance, our son, sat in the defendant's chair. He was wringing his hands and talking to himself. Susan, his court appointed attorney, was sitting next him and laid her hand on his shoulder and reassured him that it was okay. We were listening to the school psychologist tell the judge that Lance has the cognitive and physical ability of a five year old, he would never be able to be alone.

It was very hard to listen to the negative testimony of Lance's abilities, or should I say disabilities. But after the Judge rendered his decision and appointed me his guardian, I have to admit that I was, in a very small way, relieved and yes, even happy. I will always be able to take care of him.

A few weeks earlier I went down to Charlotte, NC, to help our middle daughter pack up her things, put most of it in storage and moved her and her dog Pippin, to Charleston, SC, so she can finish her education. She will be living with our oldest daughter and her husband David and their two doggies, Tilly and Kally. She would not listen to me and move home where I can take care of her.

I find that I am in a quandary. Our friends' children are all leaving the home and they (our friends) are becoming empty nesters, we are not and will never be. I grieve at times because I can never leave the house anytime I want or eat in front of the TV or just run around the house without clothes on. I have to find someone to be with Lance if we want to go out. We eat dinner at the table every night because he is not able to balance a plate in his lap and the no clothes thing?? Well, lets just say, I would probably have never done that anyway... On the flip side, I have someone around to crack jokes with, like - "Why did the chicken cross the playground? To get to the other slide!" I get to watch Hannah Montana whenever I want and I will always get to be a mommy to a little boy and feel needed.

With Brigette and Angela I watched as they moved on with their lives. I will never be able to be a mommy to them again. But this I can say, I am proud of both of them, the decisions they have made and the lives they are leading. They are beautiful, strong, independent and love the Lord, what more can a mother ask for.

So I straddle this life God has given me. I love it and at the same time I ask why I have to live it this way. I will probably never have the answers, but it's okay. In the meantime Hannah comes on at 3:00 and I get to see if Lola will be wearing her pink wig today...or will it be the purple one? Mmmmm....

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Non Smoking

Lance and I walk in, the hostess asks "How many?"
I reply "two."
"Smoking or non smoking?"
"Non smoking please."
"Right this way."
We follow her and sit down. Lance is becoming nervous. For some reason unbeknown to me Lance has a hard time with little children. There are little children just behind him that are acting up.
We order. I decided on the soup and salad bar and Lance has a Big Boy combo with sprite.

The hostess seats another family kitty corner to us, more kids...good grief. Lance's eyes are now darting around from one table to another.

Within a few minutes Lance's burger is there and I get up to get my salad. The gentleman with the newly seated family walks by with a lit cigarette looking for an ashtray. I decided to find a waitress to ask if we were put in the smoking or non smoking section. I was assured it was non smoking and our waitress went over to ask the fellow not to smoke. He said he asked for the smoking section. The waitress offered to move them...he said it was fine and put out his cigarette, they would stay where they are.

I am very frustrated by this point, Lance eyes are still darting and he is shoveling in his food and the woman of the smoking family starts to mumble. "Mumble, mumble...pisses me off...mumble, mumble...come over herself...mumble, mumble...does she think she is...mumble, mumble"

The waitress comes over and apologizes. I start to feel guilty and say "It's just that I have asthma." She then goes over the smoking folks and says "...she says she has asthma..."

I can't finish my salad and Lance's food is gone and fidgeting so we ask for our bill and leave.

*Mom died of lung cancer (smoked all her life)
*Dad has COPD (still smoking)
*Kevin has adult onset asthma
*Angela has asthma
*Brigette has asthma
*I have adult onset asthma
*Lance was in the NICU for two weeks because of lung issues

Why should I justify wanting to sit in non-smoking...

When I got home Lance and I had a big bowl of Moose Tracks ice cream, that made me feel a little better.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Baching it


Kevin left this morning to fly to California and so I am in the official single mom mode. It's not the first time he has left me and I am sure it will not be the last but I definitely have mixed emotions. The first is Wahoo!! I don't have to fix a good dinner, I will eat cereal and Lance would love chicken nuggets or pizza rolls. Then I think with Kevin gone I tend to procrastinate and I really don't like this about me. I love being accountable to someone. If left to myself I would end up being the laziest person around.

The next emotion is another Wahoo, I get the whole bed to myself!! I love being able to stretch out...the funny thing is I don't sleep well with him gone, even with stretching out, go figure.

I will have to help Lance with all his grooming needs including going into the bathroom while he is showering and making sure he rinses his hair and washes well. This is somewhat embarrassing for him. He doesn't mind me shaving him which is a good thing since I love it when he has a clean shaven face. (Having said this, Lance would rather have a beard, he thinks it is cool!)

I will enjoy the quiet for a while, Kevin loves to talk...but after a few days I will get lonely and crave the chatter. We talk about everything.

I am looking forward to doing some things that I normally would not do such as go to a movie by myself. (Kevin and I have completely different tastes in movies) Lance is going out with Marie Friday night, so I am planning on the movie at that time. But being in a theater with couples all around me will make me feel funny.

Kevin is in California for a training seminar at the Joni and Friends International Disabilities Center. Our prayer is that God will show him if this is the direction he needs to keep following. He is just not sure if this ministry is where he belongs. I know he will do great, he has such a compassionate heart and a love of helping people in need. He absolutely loved the trips to Kenya...

In the mean time Lance, Oliver and I will be on our own and I will have to deal with the good and bad of it and we will miss Kevin.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Remember

I never want to forget that terrible day seven years ago. I continue to pray for the families of those that are gone. May God be with you and watch over you.

Remember 9/11

Contentment


The last weekend in August Kevin, Lance and I went to the Joni and Friends Family Retreat in upper Michigan. This was our fourth retreat and just like always, it was amazing. I believe it is possibly the only place where families with disabilities can go and totally relax, renew, and recreate. In the normal world we walk in everyday, we are always conscious of the way our loved one is viewed, at the retreats we are the norm and everyone is accepted no matter what. It feels a little of what I expect heaven to be like. We are whole in God's eyes. Each person with a disabilty is paired up with a volunteer short term missionary who spends the entire time one on one with that person doing things such as going to services, making crafts, hiking, paddle boating, singing, swimming, horseback riding, eating, etc... Jon, Lance's STM is an amazing man. He has two daughters with disabilities himself, which gave him incredible insight with Lance. They got along wonderfully!

I was asked to facilitate a small group composed of women with adult children with special needs. This was so humbling. When each woman told her story I became so grateful for the small inconveniences that I experience with Lance. One mother's daughter has juvenile arthritis who is confined to a wheelchair and unable to do anything for herself. This women is in her 70's and is still bathing, dressing, feeding and moving her forty something daughter (who, by the way, is an incredible woman in her own right). She also is caring for another daughter who has recently escaped a horrible abusive marriage and was diagnosed with stage three cancer.

Another woman's youngest son (of five boys!!) is severe/profoundly disabled and in a wheelchair. She takes care of his needs without complaining...she is also taking care of her mother who has Alzheimer's and is a wheelchair as well. Do you know what she was so excited to do while there that weekend? Walk down stairs and hold hands with her husband.

The stories go on... The common thread spoken throughout the camp was "and I thought I had it rough". You see, when confronted with what others go through, our own struggles don't seem so bad. We also see the amazing Grace that God gives to each of us to carry the burdens we have. "...I want us to help each other with the faith we have. Your faith will help me and my faith will help you." Romans 1:12, New Century Version.

I came away from Family Retreat once again with the feeling of contentment. Yes, I struggle everyday, but knowing that God is there and is lifting me up, helps me get through the tough times.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Favorite Things Part ll

Not in any particular order

A fixed computer
Sunny 70 degree days
A walk with Oliver on a sunny 70 degree day
The book The Sacred Echo
Kevin's blue eyes
Long rides on balmy summer nights
Brigette's many phone calls
Angela's infrequent phone calls
Services at Woodside
Homemade granola
Lisa and Phil

Friday, August 15, 2008

Frustrations

I have once again been down with a computer bug, as a matter of fact, I am posting from my sister's computer who lives in NC. I can't wait to get a new computer!!! This is my dilemma...another dell or a mac? The macs are so much more expensive but have fewer problems down the road...but we can get a dell without having to save up. Hmmmm...what to do...

I have finally begun to journal (albeit online) for the first time in my life and of course this is what happens, bugs, bugs, bugs.

I have lots to write about so maybe I will get the chance this week while visiting my sister and my daughter.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Things I love


Not in any particular order:

The view off my balcony
Daisies
February Song
The color green
The color brown
Lady bugs
Kevin
Bats flying at dusk
Lavender scented candles
Brigette's voice
Partridge Creek (not necessarily the stores)
The two frogs in the egress window at the model
Angela's voice
Thunderstorms
Oliver's ears
Chit chatting with God
Lance's smile while he is listening to Paul
Lance's smile while he is eating Root Beer ice cream
Emma and Lily's hair

To be continued...

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Balance

A friend of my daughter met a man on the internet and got engaged after one month of corresponding. She said it was God leading her. When they met (her son with her) he sweet talked her and ended up sexually abusing her.

A family member of mine says it is God, everything is so positive and nothing they read in the word shows them otherwise. They got engaged after a couple months of dating. He has alienated his entire family and is not making wise decisions concerning his finances.

How can people manipulate the Word of God to get what they want? Or want something so bad that they can't see logic or use the Word of God and "positive" feelings to justify making very bad choices? Why would we say "God, my life is very uncomfortable and I don't like it, so I am going to do what I want and put your name on it"? Sometimes life is uncomfortable or down right nasty. Sometimes we are lonely or struggling financially or sick or depressed. God is there to help us through. He is there!

God, where is the balance in walking with you? Do we throw caution to the wind and just go with it or do we walk so tenderly around everything and not take any chances at all? What are the risks in running full steam ahead and not having you lead us or waiting and risk missing your timing? Do we allow you to love us during the hard times or "believe" that you will make it easier for us? The problem is there are times for both, how do we know Lord?

Please God, be my balance.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Bugs, Viruses and Rashes

I called Dell, they don't have warranties on computers over three years old. Called the "Geek Squad", they don't work on computers on-line over three years old...you have to have someone out to the house or take it in to have it serviced, but the warranty is only for 30 days. The virus is driving me crazy but the cost of having it taken care of is outrageous, so I trudge through and WALLAH, I am able post tonight. After consulting with Angela, we think it will be better to invest that money into a new computer...don't know when, but until then, I will have to fight the virus.

Lance came home from the work program Wednesday with a rash on his waist and hip. After his shower I gave him some Benadryl and sent him to bed. Thursday morning his chest and back were covered with scarlet colored welts. By that afternoon it was spreading to his arms and legs...in we go to see the doctor. The doctor was fascinated with it and told us it was very impressive and most definitely an allergic reaction to something, what it could be is any one's guess. He gave Lance two injections and a prescription for steroids and Clariton. Friday, Lance was scheduled to go to a respite home for the very first time, we had to send five different meds and hoped they will dose it correctly. We needed to fight this rash so he could have a good time.

In the mean time, I woke up with a stiff neck and an intestinal flu bug, I had to cancel physical therapy, take Lance to the doctor's, get everything together so I could pack for him and go see my Chiropractor. How do you fight a flu bug when you have so much to do?

Well, I am hoping for the best for the computer virus. Lance's rash is almost gone and he really enjoyed his weekend. We now know that there is a place for him to go if Kevin and I need to get away. I rested and recovered Saturday morning while Kevin was working and Lance was gone. By that evening we were able to go to Partridge Creek with Oliver, got a peanut butter and chocolate milkshake and listen to the band that was playing.

Things are never quite as bad as they seem. (Well almost never...I keep having to click off the antispyware pop-up balloon, grrrrrrr!!)

Saturday, July 12, 2008

I'm sick with a virus!

I am so frustrated.  Right now I cannot access the blog from my computer.  I was just getting into this blogging thing when I got a virus! 
Please bear with me as I try to get up and running again.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Oliver


Angela and David have Tilly and Kally, two long haired teacup Chihuahuas. Brigette has Pippin an Olde English Pocket Beagle. Lance loves them to pieces.

In comes thought, discussions, prayer, more talking and then the decision...yes, lets get Lance a puppy. I want a long haired teacup chihuahua but realize that it may be too fragile for Lance. Okay, lets go with an Olde English Pocket Beagle. We e-mailed the breeder and sent in a deposit with this request...calm temperament, female, small and brown and black, a lot like Pippin only calmer and we will name her Olive. April 14, the puppies are born, two females, three males. Kate, the breeder, names her female Olive not knowing we were going to name her that. Must be providence, only she isn't brown and black, she isn't the smallest and she isn't the calmest. Now what do we do? Kate tells me she has a male that is much calmer than the rest of the litter and he is the smallest of the gang. I am concerned because we have never had a male dog and I have heard horror stories about the aggression, the marking, the humping... She assures me that if you neuter the dog before eight months he will not do these things. She sent pictures and we were smitten, all right, he is Oliver and he is ours. Two weeks after my knee surgery we head to Ohio to pick him up. While there he is still tying to nurse. He sleeps in my lap the whole way home. He is so tiny, so sweet and so calm for two weeks then he turns into Cujo!!! Yes, our adorable little peanut begins to hump the toys and my leg...I scream because he is only ten weeks old! He growls and bites if you get too close to his food and don't you dare take away a chew toy. If we are holding him and he wants down, well lets just say it isn't pretty.

So today I pay an outrageous price to a dog behaviorist and she assures me everything will be okay. He is just asserting his dominance and with constant training and supervision for a few months he will be the sweetest dog ever. So here it goes...no talking on the phone, no blogging until Kevin is with him, no leaving him by himself. He has to have a leash on constantly and be taken outside every 30 minutes unless he hasn't gone, then it is every 15 minutes...

We just wanted a calm, female, small and brown and black puppy!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

CTA


Why is it when you have to get up extra early, you end up not falling asleep until a half hour before the alarm goes off?!? I had to get up at 4:45 a.m. to take Lance to the hospital for a CTA scan. Because of his disabilities he needs to be anesthetized so he doesn't move. That means that we have to be at the hospital at 6:00 a.m. for a 7:30 a.m. test. His grandmother was so sweet to come and keep us company, we needed to pick her up at 5:45 a.m. The good thing about all of this is we were home by 9:00 and have the rest of the day to get some things done...such as a nap! I am hoping Lance will sleep a little because I won't be able to unless he does. The type of meds they used will be with him most of the day and that means that he will be even wobblier than normal.

Lance has a recently discovered brainstem compression and the doctors at the Cleveland Clinic (where we are getting a second opinion) wanted him to have further imaging done. His neurosurgeon has recommended surgery to repair it, but it is very risky and we are reluctant to subject him to this unless absolutely nescessary. So hence, the second opinion. I will talk more about our son's disabilities and the brainstem condition in a later post.

He is our joy and we are so blessed to have him.