Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Newest project!

I had a blast making this. I began with a little kit I found at, of all places, the dollar store. I only used the back part of it (the arched chipboard that was covered in elegant black and white florished print). And from there got an inspiration for a beautiful winter wedding. The black white and red just seemed so natural to me so here it is.

It's just a table decoration but it's a perfect gift for Valentines or a wedding!

It measures 13" long and 4" high and includes such fun as Basic Grey rub ons (both black and white flourishes), Provo Craft Alpha chipboard, Bo Bunny rub ons ("true", "Love" and "Always and Forever") and flowers of many different kinds. Not to mention the plethora of ribbons! I had so much fun making this!

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Projects con't...

These are all for the cub scout book I'm working on... (Yeah I know. I've not done a single thing for myself in ages!)

These are all very simple. Nothing I can do for the scouts can be my usual frou frou stuff as it would take me FAR too long to accomplish anything so thus, simplicity, ease and quick scrapping. The tags on the layouts are blank for the leaders from last year to record names and memories from the trips. These were done this summer.

The bag is from Dalton's teacher gift from the end of the year. (LOVE the cricut for cutting out those letters for me. I'm SO glad I no longer have to be xacto challenged to cut those out by hand any longer!)

I'm so bad about posting my projects!

So I've got a couple projects I have created not only recently but some over the summer. I've been horrid at actually posting said projects. This summer it was illness, this fall it was schedule and now it's time. I've finally gotten my computer where it needs to be (if you remember my horrid computer repair fiasco from January through May... it is STILL not satifactorily completed but I've let it all go). Indulge me while I upload some OLD but fun projects!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

From Our House to Yours

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It was a magical time of year...

Christmas has passed and while I have had issues with the photos I took, all in all I think they truely reflect the magic of the season.

My "almost dad" sent me a wonderful email (sent to his distribution list of folks and posted on his blog too) that helps keep the season in perspective.

"Let the Light Shine" from

Whatever we do, however we share, we mark the time,
the season, the feast as a place of light and love. And
in so doing, the gift of the Baby under the star has a
chance to transform our world into a bright oasis of
grace and mercy.

So as you gather today, whether with friends or even
by yourself, mark the time. Mark the day. Mark the
feast. And let the light of Christ come into the world.

This is truely how I've felt once Christmas day arrived. Before that, admitedly, I had trouble getting into the spriti of the season. Financial issues, heat pump problems, car troubles, etc etc all add to the issues of the hustle and bustle that increases this time of year. While I still have the hope that all this is improving and will continue to do so, I also was recovering from the surgery which requires me to sit on my ever increasing in size derriere while I wait and watch others do what I want so badly to be doing. I wanted to get up in the attic and get all my decorations. I wanted to get my tree up before Dalton's birthday. I wanted to get my house clean (I'm still praying and waiting on that one to be completed) before Dalton's birthday so I could have it here but that didn't happen either. All these things prevented me from fully enjoying the season, the reason for the season and getting into the mood properly. Not even the beautiful magical eyes of my darling little boy could brighten up my spirits.

We had Dalton's 8th birthday party and it was wonderful. To hear him say to my dear friend Susan, "Miss Susan, this was my best birthday EVER!" was awesome. I wasn't into it really despite having tried so hard to be there.

To hear him tell me how excited he was about Santa's impending arrival and how he knows that Jesus and Santa had to have been friends when Jesus was alive on the earth because where else would Santa have gotten his giving spirit was so precious. But where oh where could I capture that feeling for myself??

Taylor arrived home from college for the holidays, Reaves and Taylor were getting along and we were all actually laughing together. But even that wasn't enough. Both my older boys asked me on Christmas eve eve, "Geez mom! Please! You've done nothing but hollar for four days. You're so grumpy about everything. Please stop!"

It wasn't until I snapped these photos the day before Christmas I finally found it inside me. It takes the magic of a little boy, the faith of a child that no matter what, Santa and Jesus are going to come and there is going to be a holiday. Not one filled with gifts, but one filled with joy, love, peace and happiness. It is a holiday filled with the love and faith of a little boy in a baby who came to save us all from the evils, all the sins we commit daily, all the hardships from which He wants us to be freed. Dalton is a true believer. He shows me daily how faith is simple. It's easy. You just believe. You simply put all your faith into one basket labeled "Jesus" and all your troubles, sins, transgressions, issues, what ever you call them, all go into that same basket.

Also into that basket go beautiful words like "blessings", "gifts", and "joy". Dalton brought it home for me. Watching him decorate the tree and the look at all the house decorations I finally managed to get up brought me to watching him lovingly touching one of the many nativities I have. Describing to me and to the baby Jesus what the wise men looked like, what Mary and Joseph must have been thinking that night. Telling me about a star that shone so brightly and how the angels sang beautiful songs heralding the heavenly child's birth. It was through this little boy, I finally found my spirit once again. Sounds like history repeating itself doesn't it? We can and should all take a lesson I think...

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday. I hope you all found your "reasons for the season" and had a blessed and magical Christmas.

Peace and love to all of you...

Friday, December 19, 2008

Ooo I've had a fun time!

This past summer, knowing Christmas would be lean, I decided to make some Christmas presents for some gal pals of mine. I bought the beads, bought findings, used some beads my dad had given me that belonged to my mom and proceeded to design what I wanted to make. Then I put it in a box and left it there.

Fast forward to yesterday! I made all of these in two hours! Made me wanna buy more beads and make make make!

I also made the little boxes that I put two of them into to give as pressies last night. Love the cricut! I do wish I had the expression so I could cut larger boxes but it's all good. They do say good things come in small packages!

Here are the latest bracelets and earring sets I made yesterday along with the little boxes.

Click on them to see them larger if you want.

Thanks for taking a look! Happiest of holidays...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Just a few cards...

I've got so many thank you's to write for all the folks who were so sweet to me during my hospital stay. These are a few of the cards I made to say Thank You!

There is also an altered diary (with a little lock) and a sympathy card I made earlier in the summer for a friend of Kevin's who lost a relative.

I'm so hoping to get my Christmas cards done in time. Who knows what I'll get done.


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Hello All and Merry Christmas!

Well as a quick update. The surgery on the 25th went well. The doctor said (in the hospital on the 26th) I was doing really well. I've got to remember to take it easy and not be too eager. He wants me to walk and that's it. No lifting more than 5 pounds, no bending, twisting cleaning cooking etc and I'm really trying. But you have to put yourself in my position. I have three boys (two at home) and a husband. None of them are winning awards at cleaning, care taking or cooking. So, if I want it done, I either wait four or five days or I end up doing it myself.

Case in point. We have four cats. Two of them are outside, one is indoor/outdoor and one is strictly indoor. The ONLY thing the boys will do (including the biggest one) is feed them - IF I ask.

So, that leaves the matter of the cat box. Thank goodness there is only one cat using it because it's not been cleaned since Thanksgiving. (That darn litter was expensive but when it said you only had to change it every two weeks it was serious! No smell, no problems!)

Then there are the dishes. They hate dishes. I don't know why. Of all the jobs in the house, this is by far the easiest. Nope... the dishes stay dirty. So what happens? When the big one is at work and the oldest of the three is sleeping (don't ask, I swear I think he's a vampire) and the little one is at school (the middle one is away at college) at some point I actually do get hungry. So, I manage to get up, go to the kitchen and voila! All the dishes call out to me because, hungry though I might be, there is NOT ONE clean dish off of which I may eat. Okay... if that's not bad enough, should I even want soup, there's not a single clean pan in which to cook...

No, I'm not kidding.

So, between my dad, my friend Susan and I, we have read the "men" in the mix the so called "riot act" and let them all know what the expectations are. If I'm seriously not going to be allowed to do housework for 90 days, they have REALLY got to step up to the plate. Daddy swears he'll put the house on the market and move Dalton and me in with him. At first I thought he may be just upset and would never seriously entertain this idea, until he told me he'd already investigated the schools, where Dalton would go to school and, he says, "By the way, you KNOW he already has friends next door so he won't be hurting for playmates. I'm not kidding about this."

Hmmm... yes, I have to admit the idea is a bit entertaining. I LOVE Daddy's house and I could seriously use the break and I know darn well I'd heal a lot better up there because I wouldn't be tempted into doing things I"m not supposed to be doing, but it would make me crazy at the same time. I'd seriously miss being close to my friends and at least able to chat via phone when I wanted to rather than costing a fortune in long distance charges.

Then again, if I could convince Daddy to get cable internet... hmmmm... yes, becoming more and more inviting...

So, I'm two weeks into my so called convalescence. I still have no feeling in my foot but the feeling is gradually returning to my thigh. My calf is still gone and I still don't have full muscle control. I may not ever regain complete control of the leg as the nerve has been compressed for so long it may be permanent but we're holding out for FULL and COMPLETE recovery. That's what I'm claiming anyhow.

I have to admit not being the best of patients. I know I have UCTD. I know I have Fibromyalgia. So what??? I know I have the same issue in my neck I have in my back only that's not been operated on ... yet. (Supposedly my neuro wants to looking into that in the Spring. We'll have to see.) I know that because of that, my healing will take longer and is more strenuous, but honestly people. Do you know me? Do you really know me?

I will NOT sit still, I can't sit still. I have to be doing something or it makes me nuts. I made all of Dalton's little birthday invitations. (They were adorable if I do say so myself. While I forgot to scan them, I can tell you they were of a pool (blue vellum) with waves (cut on the Cricut) with little girls and boys in the pool relative to for whom the invite was intended. For instance, for my friend Susan's kids, Wesley, Walker and Whitney, there were two little brunette boys, one brunette girl and little blonde Dalton in the pool swimming. In the lower right hand corner, also cut from the cricut it said, "It's A Party". Darling really.)

I have organized his party to be at the local recreation center where the children will swim for an hour, then we'll go to the party room for an hour and have cake, ice cream and presents. It's a small party, not too much for mom but fun for Dalton to have a swimming party in the middle of December to be sure.

I've completed nearly all my Christmas shopping (thanking you God for On-Line retailers who carried black Friday sales) and of course, my old stand by, Ebay.

The only thing left to do is to wrap. This is proving to be quite a challenge. I can't bend over the table. The chairs I have are all too short. I can't sit on the floor because I can't get up and I"m not supposed to have my legs at a 90 degree angle to my body (I'm supposed to stay in a reclined type position when I'm not walking). Yeah... wondering how to get the wrapping done but this too will happen, I'm certain. I might just get my friend Lisa to wrap everything for me in order to get it all done right.

I have bought all the cookie stuff to make holiday cookies and Dalton and I will be making Christmas Candy this afternoon and on Saturday for presents too. Monday, his real birthday day, he'll be taking cupcakes to school that he will be making with me on Sunday. It's going to be pretty full time wise around here.

Oh yeah. and at some point, putting up a tree might be nice. I'm the Christmas tree putter upper. No one but me. Everyone else hates it. So I'm interested in figuring out who's gonna do that.

Let's just hope it's not the day before Christmas folks.

Enough about me, how's everyone? I've got so many of my good friends on my prayer list. The economy has been so horrid. I want all of you to know that you're in my thoughts and prayers. Typically recessions pull out within two to three years so let's hope we're at least a year down into this thing. I remember well what it was like living through the last one. It was tough but doable. We'll all get through this in time. Gas around here (I live in a tourist town - ugh talk about a bad economy) has finally gone down to around $1.76 for mid grade. Regular is, in some places, $1.59. Never thought I'd see that again. Food remains outrageous but I know my waist line is appreciative. Even the dollar store "oreo" cookie packages are getting smaller for the same price. Shame but it really does help us all eat better. You cut out all the junk and focus on what's good for you.

I suppose that's it for me for now. Remember to keep your eyes looking up, sending your prayers to the heavens. For which ever God you pray, thank Him/Her for the blessings of your life, your love, your health (however minimal or troubled) and your gifts. Focus on the positives and be positive. Claim what is yours and believe in that. Live your life as fully as possible and remember that HE wants that for you too.

Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, Happy Holidays and much love from my house to yours.

Lissa and family

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Countdown to D-Day and Happy Thanksgiving!

So Tuesday is the day. I go into the hospital at 6:15am and surgery is to begin at 7. So far I'm at the top of the list. Barring anyone with complications (diabetic, pediatric emergency, geriatric emergency or heart patient) I'll be the first surgery Tuesday morning.

To say I'm frightened is accurate. I'm oddly at peace with this. I'm a little bit apprehensive, which I think is completely natural, but other than that I'm looking forward to the relief. I know that all surgeries have pain associated with recovery. I've had enough surgeries to know that. But I have to believe that the recovery is going to be minimal compared to what I've been through the last three weeks.

All in all, I'm looking forward to being in there and getting this done. Not to mention the peace at night to sleep unbothered by anyone calling, needing me for something etc. To think that my family is going to step up and do all my normal chores for the next 90 days is absolutely laughable. I know better than that. The doctor says no lifting, bending, squatting, slouching, reaching, pushing etc for 90 days. I'm not allowed to drive for 2 weeks. I will NOT be cooking Thanksgiving dinner nor will I clean it. I will not be taking the laundry tot he garage to do, cleaning the bathrooms, emptying all the household trashcans, getting the recycling to the curb, etc. I won't be vacuuming, waching the tub, mopping the floors, sweeping, cleaning the cat box. I will not be driving out in the middle of the night to pick up the oldest from work. I won't be hauling in the grocery bags or raking the yard. I won't be picking up little boy. I won't be playing in the snow (if we get it). I won't be helping him with his bicycle. I won't be pulling his games off the shelf or putting them away. I won't be sitting and playing his games for hours and pretending that the 9th round of Monopoly is actually fun.

I will be fretting over all the above not getting done. I will be walking. I've been told to walk walk walk. I'm looking forward to that part. Not keen on the 39 degree weather we've had for the last three days, but walking is good! I wish I could get something done with my knee that would allow me to walk pain free but that's for another time.

While I have to walk with someone for the first few weeks, after that I've been encouraged to walk as far as I can, as long as I can. I can do that! I'm looking forward to these long treks. I'm looking forward to journeying through my neighborhood to see the decorations, to pet all the dogs and cats, to enjoy listening to the laughter of the children playing in our park. I'm looking forward to meeting the school bus once again. I'm looking forward to feeling like I'm really living again instead of watching life from a distance.

I"m looking forward to enjoying the meal that my kids will cook on Thursday. I"m looking forward to all the blessings I know are in store of us. While this may be tough, I know there are many blessings to come from it. I thank God for the opportunity to go through this and come out on the other side.

In case I miss you on the other side, I wish you all a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving. Take some time to remember how blessed you are, to find the goodness in what and who is around you, to snuggle with your children on Thanksgiving day while watching the Macy's Day parade and smelling the turkey or ham cooking in the oven. And if you're having a tough time this holiday like so many of us are, I wish you many blessings, a day of love, thanks and goodness. I wish you a day of joy, a day of gratitude and a day of abundance.

Great blessings to all of you, where ever you are, whom ever you are.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Well, I got tagged by a good friend of mine a while back (Hi Jodi!) and I've neglected to do it. (sorry... tucking tail and walking slowly away...)

I'm really no good at picking 7 random facts about myself. I've pretty much been an open book my whole life so it's hard to choose 7 things about me that haven't been shared...

Let's see...

1. I love Pomegranates. They are my second favorite fruit behind strawberries.

2. I am terrified of blood and needles. Despite how many times I have my blood drawn (every 6 weeks!) I will NEVER EVER watch or look at the different vials of blood they take from me!

3. I have a secret passion for Redi Whip shot straight into my mouth from the can.

4. I have only recently discovered how much I like Capri Pants. Surprisingly, they look pretty cute on me!

5. I have lost 32 pounds and I have no idea how.

6. When I was 22 in the summer after I graduated college, I worked three different jobs, not because I had to but because I liked working.

7. I was a district manager for Photo Hut when I was 18 and supervised more than 10 stores. I never saw the inside of any of them other than my home store!

Now, I'm supposed to tag 7 other people and leave them a note on one of their posts that they've been tagged. However, I can't think of 7 people who haven't been tagged by this already so I'll leave it up to you! If you do this, leave me a note won't you?


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Well well, two posts in a singel day? Whooeee!

I know the election is over and I know there is nothing I can do now but pray for our new president elect to have the knowledge, guidance and proper direction when he takes over as leader of the most powerful and greatest nation in the world. I am praying for the Lord to be with him through each step.

That said, I received this in my email today:

"Things are heating up..."

You Tube Video.

Now, I went to that youtube video and watched intently while yet another person pounced on Obama's lack of sharing a credible birth certificate. I decided to do a little digging on my own.

Since then, I decided to dig a little further. says they have seen, touched and validated his Honolulu Birth Certificate. So on this point I feel as though to argue his birth right as a naturl citizen is mute.

There are however more questions. Apparently there is question now as to whether, as a result of Indonesian adoption, he is now a "Naturalized Citizen" rather than a Natural Citizen.

Apparently, his step father (who is Indonesian) adopted him, after his mother's marriage to his step father, when he arrived in Indonesia . He says he immediately started school on arrival. At that time, (January 1, 1968) the only way to attend school there was to be either born in Indonesia or to have become a citizen in Indonesia. For a child, this means the parent (or step parent) has to either have the child in country, he/ she has to be adopted or the step parent has to Acknowledge (verbal adoption that is legal in Indonesia) the child.

The enrollment records, a legal document, show the following information. Barack Obama's name is Barry Soetoro. He was born August 1, 1961 in Honolulu, Hawaii. His nationality is Indonesian and his religion is Muslim. The Indonesian government issues all children an identification card with the child's name and information. As a matter of legal record, Obama's name was Barry Soetoro. There are NO American or Indonesian records showing a name change BACK to Barack Hussein Obama.

As a point to be made, (however mute this entire argument seems to be), in Indonesia, it is illegal for one faith to try and convert to another. For example, it is illegal for a Catholic to try and convert a Muslim to Catholicism. Proselytizing is illegal in Indonesia. The school in which he was enrolled was a Roman Catholic School but, since he was listed as MUSLIM the school was required, by law, to teach the Koran and the facts about the Muslum faith. They HAD to teach him the Islamic Faith. It would have been ILLEGAL to have taught him anything else. This is why his faith is listed on the school enrollment form.

Obama claims, even today, he has NEVER been and has never practiced the Muslim faith. He was 7.5 years of age upon his enrollment in this Indonesian school as a first grade student. While as children we do as we're told by our parents from school to church to play, and he may not have had a choice as to which religion his family practiced, it would seem to be far from accurate to say he has never been nor practiced the Muslim faith. He was seen on Larry King clearly indicating he wasn't raised in a Muslim Home. How can he refute Government documents that show differently?

Additionally, at the time of his school enrollment, Indonesia did NOT have a dual citizenship agreement with the US. Therefore, upon his return to the US, he would have become a naturalized citizen, rather than a natural citizen as a matter of LEGAL record.

Truthfully, I really don't care if he was a natural citizen, became Indonesian and then returned to the US and therefore, legally, he is a naturlaized citizen. Honestly that's splitting hairs. My concern is this. If a man who is to lead our nation out of recession and into prosperity, who has such grand ideas of "Change" why would he feel it necessary to lie about something as simply as his home's established religion as a child. Many of us experienced church school in one religion and have since converted to another. Some of us were raised Catholic and converted to Judaism. Some raised Baptist and converted to Muslim, some Protestant and became Catholic, some Judaism and became Christian. Being Muslim does not mean he's less worthy as a president. I have no qualms with his religion. I do have concerns with the political and ethical ramifications it will have with regard to his dealings with Iran and the Middle East.

But why lie? Why keep this a secret? If you'll lie about something like this, what else will you lie about? What else will you keep from your country? As our parents used to say, even things you fail to tell us when revealing the "whole story" or the "whole truth" is still a lie by ommission. What does this say about our President Elect?

I am not comfortable. I have some serious concerns about the safety of our country, of our troops that are overseas, about the economic well being of our country (now and future) and I'm not feeling like I have a big reason to believe in Obama being the one to pull us out of anything, much less recession and war, with any semblance of strength, position or sense of well being as a country. I really don't know how to feel.

The only words that come to mind are fearful, fretful, confused, bamboozled, scared, unsettled, wary, leery.

Anyone else?

Blessings and love,


I saw the Neurologist yesterday who has recommended immediate surgery. I see a surgeon tomorrow.

I have four bulging discs in my lumbar spine and the last one (the fifth) has, as the doctor put it, "blown up". There is a fragment of the disc compressing the sciatic nerve on the right side creating intermittent "tingling and loss of feeling" in the right leg. The disc has protruded so badly on the left side it has compressed the sciatic nerve flat against the bone. As a result, I have no feeling in the back of the leg or in my left foot but severe pain deep in the thigh and throughout my "nether regions" (for a lack of nicer term to use!).

My hope is that I will not have surgery until after Christmas but I have to leave that to the discretion of my surgeon. Apparently I'm in danger of creating permanent damage to the nerves. As I am currently still battling a sinus infection, I know it won't be until I have gotten this out of my system, and I am opting to have this done in Richmond, if possible, at MCV (Medical College of VA) by a guy who is one of the top 5 on the East Coast. I'm very very nervous about this decision. Not because he's not good. He's one of the best.

By having this in Richmond, I'm not going to be where my family can see me easily. I"m going to be where my Dad can get to me but not my children or my husband. I'm not sure how long I'll be in the hospital, but with my autoimmune problems and the fibro and thyroid too, I feel like I need to be where the best teams possible will be there to accomodate each and every possible complication.

The ride back to Williamsburg will not be an easy one. It's approximately 50 mins from the hospital to Williamsburg. My best friend has a wonderful van (many thanks to her daddy) that will be a PRIMO ride back to town and she's already offered it. She, Lori and Shell have all stepped up and said they'll do whatever they can to help wtih Dalton and school. Reaves has said he'll do his best to help with the house and with making sure Dalton eats. (Kev's not always really good about remembering that little guys have to eat a NORMAL meal at a NORMAL time and has to go to bed at the SAME time each night - with a bath - and poor little Dalton complains that he's hungry most all the time when he's in Daddy's care.)

Taylor will do what he can, when he can but he'll be a school and it will be more difficult for him to help out.

Needless to say, by doctor's orders, I am confined to a chair, walking with a walker when necessary and doing exactly as the doctor says which is positively nothing. I'm bored out of my mind to be honest but my fear of never walking again is outweighing my boredom.

Please, if you're so inclined, would you keep my family and the doctors and caretakers in the hospitals in your prayers?

Many blessings,

Saturday, November 8, 2008

A new place for me

There's been something on my heart for a long time and I've prayed on it, thought about it, and I finally just did it. I decided that as long as I've wanted to be a minister (more of a pastoral counselor really) I should just do it! Most of my friends look to me for guidance like this, which is how it's been most of my life. So, I just took the plunge and did it. My new name is Pastor Elizabeth Ballard! I have been ordained as a minister (non-denominational faith).

As you can imagine, with this comes some personal responsibilities that I have put on myself and typical of most blessed decision, things like this come with great tests. Not in any way do I feel as though I'm being tested by God, but I do think that evil can and does come in many forms for many reasons. It's like how you'll always find the devil fighting you hardest on Sunday morning, just when you're getting ready for church. If anything can go wrong it will, if anyone is out of sorts, it will be Sunday morning they'll choose to unlease their frustrations. The devil loves working on people on Sundays, particularly in my house.

Well, wouldn't you know it as soon as I took on this new responsibility (and yes, I do feel as though this is a huge privilege as well as carrying responsibilities) the tests came. A hospital trip with no feeling in my left leg, tremendous pain from my waist down and the need for a walker of all things was the first trial to hit me. This was quickly followed by a sinus infection and bronchitis. Not to mention how this has affected my family members and their responsiveness to my being completely incapacitated. I've been told to not drive, not lift, not walk unless with the walker, not cook, not clean, not vacuum, not not not... You can imagine how well this has gone over with my family. Their attentiveness has been overwhelming. (Do I detect sarcasm?)

But in all of it, I know there is much to be learned. There are many lessons I must learn here with my family in communication, thoughtfullness, attentiveness, preparedness, how frustration can infest your heart and become resentfullness and how this must be overcome. It is imperative I learn through this so I can help all of us work through it and grow. So, until I complete these lessons, I'm sure there will be plenty of tasks to come. Until the devil learns that I won't be swayed, until my family has turned round to a brighter more healthy and sincere focus of positive energies for the benefit of the family (and not the benefit of the one or few), and until I have come to a place of peace with all of it, I'm sure there will be plenty of fire. Keep us in your thoughts if you will.

I know that He has taught me well. I know that with Him all things are possible. I know these adversities are temporary and this too shall pass. I know that if I am supposed to be healed in my body He will bring my healing. I know that when I remember that it is not my life but HIS, and stop trying to control things too much there will be difficulty and until I learn to keep the communication flowing 24/7 there will be resentment.

I also know that I cannot make people change and I can't change people. I have to accept folks for exactly who they are and what they are and not expect anything different.

I'm excited about my new future. I'm excited about the new possibilities. I love how enriched I already feel and how much more I know is in store for me. I am thrilled about the new places I go in my heart and I'm already enjoying the new things I"m learning. I pray that I will never fail this new responsibility, I will always live up to what this new responsibility will require of me, of my heart. I pray He will always find me deserving and I hope that He will continue guiding me through my journey to becoming the counselor He wants me to be.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Well, there's never a dull moment...

In my world, things can change at the drop of a hat. In my case the drop of a hip! LOL.... A little background, (you KNOW I have to give you background... I'm a woman of so few words HA!)...

About two weeks ago now, I was kissing Dalton on the cheeks, our favorite morning ritual, to wake him up and couldn't stand up. My back felt like someone stuck a knife into my tail bone. Kevin came in, got me upright and I decided to take it easy for the day. Ice on the back, 20 on 20 off etc. Took a nice looooooooong shower and it seemed to get better. Unfortunately, it seems it just took on a life of it's own and by Sunday (this Sunday past) I couldn't move, I couldn't breathe, my legs felt like they were on fire. It was strange. Above my waist was fine, below the waist was hell.

Off to the ER we go. Now, I'm not one of your typical patients. I don't - DO NOT - want a pill that's going to make it all better. I'm fed up with pills. I take them all day every day and I'm not about adding one to the pile. When I got into a room, the first thing they did was put in an IV line. I asked what it was for and with a very sour note, the nurse says, "Well, you want pain meds don't you?"

to which I replied, "Not really why I'm here..."

She copped an attitude with me and got the doctor. He comes in, hears my 8 year history with all this crap, says, "What medicine does Dr. X give you for breakthrough pain?"

"I don't have anything for breakthrough pain. I've never experienced anything like this before."

Thirty minutes later, he hands me release orders along with three prescriptions - pain killer, muscle relaxer, and steroids - and the nurse is administering pain meds through the IV with instructions not to drive under any circumstances. I'm also told to use my wheelchair or walker, which ever is best for me but not to put much weight on the left leg until we know more. (The driving call was a total duh moment... I was asleep before I left the parking lot.) He says, "Follow up with your primary this week."

Ok, first of all my primary doesn't treat me for this, which you should have realized through our conversations. I already have appointments scheduled for my pain management doc and my rheumatoid doc this week, so I'll follow up with them.

The rheumy says she's worried about the leg - I can't feel anything from the hip down on the back of the leg. My foot is completely asleep and I wish it didn't feel like it was completely asleep. My right leg isn't bad. I can use it fine. She's sending me for an MRI of the lower lumbar (where I have two herniated discs already) and the SI joints. I called my neurologist who wants me to come to his office immediately following my mri and he'll interpret my results right away. My pain management doc thinks it's time to see the neurosurgeon again but wants to see the MRI results first.

The primary doc said to see the others.

So, my walker and I are getting familiar, my house is a wreck, I've not eaten a decent meal in days and I wish with all my heart I could go to the potty but the Vicodin took care of that for me. (I know, TMI...) My bed and I are getting close and I've read two books and am nearly done with the third. I do suppose there are silver linings. I've been wanting to get back into my reading!

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Happy Election Day, Happy Birthday Momma!

This is just about the best prelude to Election Day I've seen... Love it!

Happy Election Day...

Today is my mother's birthday. Were she still with us, she would have been voting proudly today, musing about how it is our civic responsbility etc. So, knowing all that, I proudly got up today and my husband and I went with our little guy (7) to the polls.

The school where we vote typically is very unorganized with the entrance into the gymnasium. Today in the rain (always fun to stand in the rain in line to vote...) they switched up the line to form under the MAIN entrance to the school, thus allowing for long lines to form under the wonderful "tunnel" leading into the front door. This will alleviate many many difficulties with people coming in and leaving by the same door as it's been in recent years. In a neighboring city they've had trouble with the ballots being accepted by the mean green ballot eating machine because people were so wet the paper was just too mushy to go into it. The advice of the election officials in their town said, and I do quote, "You must dry yourself off before entering the voting area." Great, no problem! It's pouring down rain but if you supply me with the towels, I'll dry off before attempting to vote!

Rain not withstanding, typically handicapped folks such as I, go to the front of the line so we don't have to stand longer than is necessary (those of us who aren't confined to chairs quite yet). Not so today. Thankfully Kevin was there to help me stay upright! I got my pen and my big long ballot with the great big letters so those of us who are half blind and don't have glasses can read it, went into my voting booth, voted in all three categories and quickly bent my ballot (not creasing it, just gently bending it) in half. I did this so when I walked with my walker to the electronic box (that somewhat obnoxious contraption that both reads and sucks up your ballot quickly rather like jerking it out of your hand ungratefully so you have no time to change your mind), no one would be able to see my votes. Now mind you I'm not ashamed. However, I do believe that my vote is MY vote! It doesn't matter that I have a presidential candidate sign in my front yard. It doesn't matter that I've spoken openly about my choices. What matters is that in this place, this "sacred" voting place, aka the elementary gymnasium, my vote is secret.

Now why this old codger decided he needed to peek inside my folded ballot, rather blatently I might add, is beyond me. Furthermore, I find it downright amusing. How many years have I heard from the older generations that "your vote is private and it's your vote. It's no one elses business for whom you vote but yours." Well, so much for privacy.

I nearly stopped dead in my tracks and asked him did he want to see it! As I approached the ballot eating machine there sits another old goat who blatantly does the same! As I manipulated my ballot to be accepted and read by the box, he all but broke a vertebrae trying to see my presidential vote! At that point it was downright funny. I asked him in my best honey dripping southern belle voice, "Did you see what you were trying to see?"

With a red face and a duck of his head, he simply replied, "Thank you for voting."

So, go people, wear your best red white and blue, put on your poker face and vote. And when all those old codgers try and get their peeks, ask 'em if they'd like to put it in the eating machine for you!

Happy Birthday Momma!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Here on my soap box again...

I was recently sent a link to follow, read and offer my opinion on it. To say I was horrified by what I read is an understatement. I'm not really a political person except to say, my beliefs and thoughts are my own and a freedom I have to do just that. I do not presume to think they're perfect or right. Rather I believe that we are all given a choice and the ability to make choices based on our faith and our ability to feel. What choices we make are dependant on our life experiences and our responsibility to make well informed decisions. Our experiences and environments are not enough information on which to base seriously life altering decisions.

With that being said, please, follow this link: This is Your Nation on White Privilege

Once you have read that, I offer my opinion below:

I find the article to be "trashy" at best. It is a statement that is highly biased and incredibly emotional. This article to me was written solely for the purpose of inciting a tremendous emotional reaction from sympathizers to some "cause". I think that in our nation our people, black, white, purple, pink or polka dotted, was founded on truth, Christian values, and faith in all mankind. God made us ALL. He made a glorious quilt of color and custom. It is not my place to judge His decisions. In no place in our faith - ANY faith to my knowledge except those of extremists - does it say we are free to be judgmental. We are taught in the Christian faith, "Judge not, lest ye be judged." It isn't my place to judge the person who wrote this as he and she are entitled to their opinions. However, I was asked to reply as to my thoughts on this piece and I will share this.

I think in the last 100 years we have worked hard to alleviate the divisions between the races and cultures, even within our own country. We abolished slavery in the late 1800's. It was the decision of the war and of our national leaders that all men should be treated equally. This decision was made by loss of life and through a restorative government to produce a more stable, compatible and cohesive nation. I understand there are sects within our nation that have worked to realize a steady division. I also recognize that these same groups that others have tried to alienate have worked equally as hard to further that same division. They create their own subcultures into which no "white man" is allowed. They create their own spaces within society into which they do not WANT whites to interfere, intermingle, and intersperse. It's shameful to continue blasting the Caucasian race as segregationists when it is their own races that work at building walls that the government of "white people" worked hard to eradicate and make smooth transitions between the society of old and the "new" worlds. It's positively disgusting to read articles such as these that serve to do nothing more than build up those emotional walls.

If someone chooses to call themselves an "effing redneck" why should that bother me? It doesn't, because I have a choice to be bothered by it or not. Should I be offended? Should it bother me more than to hear men of the black race call each other "nigger"? They are mightily offended to hear anyone outside their "race" call them that, yet they freely call out to one another with a name they claim is bigoted, racial, offensive, highly segregation, wrong?

Our entire country has embraced the wonderful teachings and dreams of the great Martin Luther King. We have all recognized our own abilities and freedoms to have a dream and further to pursue it. Black, white, yellow, red, mixed, no one is told they can't pursue that dream. It is, however, up to us to find our own way. Sure, some people have more money than others and the pursuit of that dream is easier; the road to the pot of gold noticeably easier. However, the same steps must be undertaken by all. By virtue of brains, some people are allowed shortcuts; classes they don't have to take, steps they can skip. Should I be jealous because I had to work harder? Should I be ungrateful for my education because someone else received scholarships based on academic excellence or athleticism who could have well afforded to pay their way to college but didn't have to? Should I hate them simply because they had more privilege than I?

Should I hate that more blacks and Hispanics are given public benefits than white?

Should I hate that in my own neighborhood, there are illegal citizens and blacks being given public benefits and yet have never worked a legal day in their lives?

Should I hate that despite having worked 30 years friends of mine have been denied assistance because they were honest and gave an accurate account of the household income when seeking a temporary need for food assistance, only to find out that the bread winner made $398 GROSS income and didn't qualify, but if they were to consider NET income, the family of 4 was more than $500 BELOW the poverty level and well qualified for assistance.

Should I hate that there is a black couple in my neighborhood who receive disability for "questionable" illnesses (illnesses they freely admit are simply on paper and not real) but their neighbor, who has been disabled for more than 10 years STILL cannot get approved despite his inability to walk without assistance, cannot use his left hand (not his writing hand) but still has a college degree he's got hung on the wall so the "Government" thinks he should still be able to do something, anything, JUST by virtue of his having worked hard to achieve his degree, his dreams?

I see all these things in my world. I watch the iniquities. I see the injustice every day. It does affect me, my thoughts, my feelings. It does NOT however, make me blame an entire race. It does not serve to cause me to be judgmental. It simply isn't my place to judge.

It IS my responsibility to be a well informed citizen. It is my responsibility to vote into office those individuals whom I think will be the best persons to create a more evenly balanced society. It is my responsibility to help create a world in these United States that has both left wingers and right wingers. It is my responsibility to believe in the government we voted and created based on the vision of our forefathers. It is my responsibility as a citizen to be active in my community so as to have my voice heard by those in power by voting, writing letters, participating in my local government in what ever capacity is right for me. It is not only my responsibility but my RIGHT to do so.

That brings me to my last point. It is the RIGHT of the individuals who have written this emotional note about "White Privilege" to say what they say. They have that right because of thousands of brave individuals of every race, creed and color, from the year 1607 to current day who have sacrificed their lives, their families, their fortunes, their blood, sweat and tears for us to be FREE to say the things we feel in our hearts. So to the writers of this horrible piece of writing I say, I respect your right to your opinion. I respect your right to assembly. I respect your right to even publish your opinion.

I hope you respect my right to disagree vehemently. I hope you can respect my right to call your writing trashy and the very emotional garbage on which the unrest in our nation is fueled. I despise what you wrote, not because I think there is a spec of truth in it but because yet again, someone who feels as though something is "owed to them" based on the 19th century history of our country. It's done, it's over and it's been beaten to death. Let's let the mistakes of our forefathers be buried and let's proceed living in the world intended by our true Father. God never promised us the world was easy and simple. He never put us on this magnificent Earth and told it was a rose garden that never needed to be tended, weeded and fertilized to produce the beautiful roses. You have failed to see the broader vision.

It is our RESPONSIBILITY to tend this garden, the beautiful quilt called MANKIND. We are all different sizes, colors, creeds, cultures, nationalities. We all have minds and freedom of our thoughts. God gave us that right when he gave us the ability. It is our responsibility to God to tend this beautiful garden. We are to care for it lovingly. We are to respect the gifts HE gave us by feeding it, taking care of the planted, the transplanted, the volunteers, the old, the new, the revived. We water it, we fertilize it. When we give it bad fertilizer, it gets tainted. Let's not taint our garden. Let's take it upon ourselves to cultivate His garden, His gifts just as He gave them to us. Let's not accept these "weeds" into our gardens to choke out the beauty and glory of it all.

In Galatians 5: 22, 23 we are apprised of the Fruits of the Spirit. These are the actions which we should all strive to emulate and share: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. People of all religions. People of all nationalities. People of all cultures. They are the very spirit of all PEOPLE. They are the spirit of a more perfect society. They are the very core of our being and they should be the very core of all of our lives. IF we were to ALL live according to these, why would writings such as the This is Your Nation on White Privilege even be published. They would be completely unnecessary. I do NOT presume to say all people should base their beliefs on the Christian bible. I do however believe that all people should base their very lives on those basic principles. What could possibly go wrong if we should all choose to live exhibiting love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness gentleness and self control? If we are to be guided by emotions, let it be, at the very least, positive emotion.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Wow... I'm really here...

Oh my word. I know, I'm slack... been away for a long time and no excuses - just a couple explanations!

Let's see... where did I leave off? Egads... June. Okay - here goes

June found me suffering from a horrible case of heat stroke. The heat stroke brought on some really fun (NOT!) health issues that pretty much had me in bed for the summer. While I did get up and manage to move about some (from my house to Lisa's, occasionally to Michelle's and on a couple of occasions to Daddy's) for the most part, I was home bound. We (Dalton and I) had a case of strep, two rounds of bronchitis for me and two acute cases of sinusitis. We missed both hikes with the Cub Scouts that took place during the summer. I did however have a wonderful time staying close to home and going over his new Cub Scout requirements. While he didn't know it, he completed almost all his requirements for his Wolf Badge before we even started the new season!

In June, Taylor and Reaves entered a competition to eat a HUMONGOUS pizza. The 30" pizza challenge, if you complete it, gives you free pizza for a year. You get a pizza a week if you can eat this tremendous pizza in one hour between two people. Taylor was prepared, having spent the last two months at school eating like crazy in preparation. Justin was supposed to do this with him but hadn't had a chance to prepare and didn't think it would be good for him to do it. Reaves, who adores pizza, thought he'd be able to handle it and gave it a go. Unfortunately, the pizza got the better of him! I've never seen so much cheese in my life. Taylor got through his half, but Reaves' lactose intolerance got the best of him in about 20 minutes. He thought if he could get through the crusts and them slam the cheese down all at once, he might be able to do it. Unfortunately, his strategy backfired on him and he had a tough time. He gave out about 30 minutes into the challenge. The look on his face kind of says it all!

June also saw Dalton going to a beach for the first time in his life. Lorie took Dalton along with Nash and Mason to Yorktown Beach. He'd never seen a surf (even thought it's the bay, it still had a small surf and sand) nor been in salt water. He had a great time swimming and playing in the sand. Lorie was sweet enough to get photos for me!

We got to see my brother in law along with my niece and nephew this summer (whom I hadn't seen in two years). They all grew up so quickly. They are beautiful, wonderful, witty, charming kids and Mike is a great guy. It was terrific to have lunch with them in Richmond while they visited with Daddy. Most of these photos were taken by Dalton with the exception of the one of him and the cousins with Papa, and the one of him (which was taken by his cousin Ryan). He's pretty good, isn't he!

I've missed them so much and I was so happy to see them all!

That was in July. Also in July I got a massive pain in my head that resulted in my left arm going numb immediately. At first we thought it was a mini stroke. I didn't have any other symptoms though and a cat scan ruled out stroke. Unfortunately, I was left with diminished strength in my left hand and was referred to a Neurologist. I couldn't see him for another month.

In mid August, Lisa and Paul celebrated their birthdays. I'm so fortunate to be a part of such an extraordinary family. They are wonderful people. So loving, so compassionate and so giving. They are giving of themselves, their time, their good nature. Each day we have with them in our lives is a great and wonderful day and I'm blessed to know them. They adore Dalton too and he feels as though they are family. I love Lisa's daddy too. Bob is so much like my dad. We grew up with such similar backgrounds and while we (Lisa and I) are very very different people, we are soul sisters. We do everything together and talk every day. I adore her and she feels the same way I do. How fortunate to have someone in your life like that! Are I blessed!?!

Unfortunately, the day of Paul's birthday party, there was a small emergency - HA! Small... his middle son David, who is a terrific guy but reckless none the less, accidentally shot himself through the forearm. As I was the only non-drinker in the bunch and it was, after all, a birthday party, I was elected (actually I volunteered) to take Paul to the hospital. The story is this...

David lives out in the boonies. His home, while in a nice development, is not at all close to the next door neighbor. They also live near a rail road track. The trains have a tendency to stop in that area. Because of the "rail riders" - folks who don't have tickets to ride and who may be riding for less than honorable reasons - David carries a loaded pistol in his SUV. Each time he gets home he removes the magazine, cocks the gun, points it at the ground and shoots it to remove anything that may have jammed in the gun. He follows this routine for several reasons. One, he wants to be sure and surprise anyone who may have been hiding in his home to let them know to get the heck out of Dodge. Two, he wants to be certain no one has tampered with his firearm while it was in his vehicle. Three, this ensures that when he does put the magazine back in the gun, it will operate properly. Four, when he takes it in and cleans it (which he does every night) he knows he won't be shooting himself inadvertently. This is the same routine he followed the night of Paul's party. He and Sarah had left early to take Molly (his 4 year old daughter) home and get to bed. Unfortunately, the gun misfired, there WAS a bullet in the ready and while he DID shoot at the ground, it did NOT fire out of the gun. When he leaned over to exit the vehicle, the gun, in his right hand, discharged and he shot himself through the bicep. Yep, clean through. Holy crap it was gruesome... So yes, as I was stone sober, and Paul needed to get to the hospital to be with his son, I drove him. We got there (in another town as our hospital doesn't have a trauma unit) about 35 minutes after he had done this and he was just coming out of xray. We were with him through the worst of his cleaning and stitching and shots to avoid lock jaw etc and then endured the police interrogation of not only him but his girlfriend as well. The police were certain Sarah had shot David. (So not normal... she would never have done that - not no way, not no how... If you knew Sarah, you'd know that.) We left the hospital at 6:00 and got home about 6:45. I was in the ready to start my day. What a great day it was for a church service! I needed those lessons. It was a great day to give thanks. David, which the wound was horrible and would take about 6 weeks to properly heal, did NOT do any permanent damage to his muscles and the bullet missed his bone and ligaments. He would have a 100% recovery with little else but a scar on both sides of his arm. What a story that would be for the future! That was such a blessing!

Wow, August was shaping up to be a fun month so far! I ended up sick with a horrible sinus infection and had to reschedule my neurologists appointment.

In the mean time, I have more definitive information from the rheumatologist. I have the following: UCTD (Undetermined Connective Tissue Disease), Fibromyalgia, CMV (Cytomegalovirus), Hypothyroidism, Vitamin D deficiency, low potassium and a few minor things. I'm on so many meds it makes me crazy but it could be worse. The worst part of all of them is the self injections of methotrexate. I really hate giving myself the injections. It makes me so queasy to do it myself. At least it saves a bundle of money to do it here rather than paying $30 everytime I have to go to the office and have a nurse do it.

August also saw Taylor leaving for his sophomore year at Longwood University. While he didn't get his financial aid this fall, we were able to secure a private loan (egads the interest rate was horrible) in order to get him back in school. I'm afraid he's going to have to do the same thing in order to secure his Spring place as well. God only knows what his loan bills will be like when he graduates. Holy smokes...

We did have a good time taking him back. It was such fun to see him living on the same hall I did while at Longwood. He's in the same room my sister was in when she lived in the basement in South Cunningham. What fun it was reliving those fond memories on our return this fall! We also had a chance to visit the cemetery where I was able to chat a bit with my grandmother and uncle. I like to make sure their stones are clean and their area tidy as well as my great grandparents. I'm so grateful for the heritage I have, the legacy they left me and the opportunities their experiences opened up for me. The house pictures is the house my great grandparents lived in. I've fallen in love with the little story book house and would one day LOVE to own it. Farmville is lovely and quiet and just right to retire. (Not really but I like to make up my own stories in my head... :) )

So, nearing the end of August we're getting ready for school. Dalton, I swear, grew before my eyes this summer. He has learned how to swim (not well, but he can definitely hold his own and I"m SO proud!), he is wearing a 7 pants (I have to buy him slims because he's so tall and lanky) and he's reading well. He is not looking forward to going back to school (what little boy really does?) but he is looking forward to seeing his friends again. He's really missed his playmates and my having been down most of the summer was really difficult on him. Had it not been for Nash, Mason and Molly, he would have been bored out of his little mind. God bless our neighborhood friends!

So, September arrived and we took our annual visit to Waller Mill Park. I always take Dalton to the park and take pictures of him beside the bridge pilons and walking across the bridge to show his change in height each year. I love getting those photos. He really grew so much this year! While he still wearing many of the shirts from last year, he really isn't in any of the pants. His legs look like little colt legs. All knee and tiny thin legs. And he's quick as a flash!

This year, I took Nash with us to the park. He (Dalton) didn't want to be alone but he also wanted to take his fishing pole. We had a great time together. Nash tried to fish too, but he's not as familiar with a bait cast reel like Dalton, nor had he ever fished with artificial bait. Dalton is quite accomplished with his rod and reel and did very well. He got a few bites, but the fish weren't really doing too much. It wasn't really the right weather (hot as all get out and no weather changes in the forecast). Lorie and Mason joined us while we were fishing (Nash's mom and a good friend of mine) and we had a lot of fun together!

Dalton started school the next day. I got my obligatory shots that morning. He was so excited he just could hardly stand still! Bless his heart, he can't decide whether to be happy or frustrated or everything in between. He's lucky that he's got the "cool" teacher, Mr. Cahill. We had a nice time visiting him on Back to School day the previous Thursday afternoon. He has two very good friends in his class this year, Nash and Todd. He's known Todd since he was a baby so this is going to be fun.

In September, we celebrated Ive's (Lisa's Mom) life on the anniversary of her homecoming. She was an exceptional person and quite inspiring to me. She spent her life so much like my mom did. Every where she went she shared a smile that touched everyone around her. She was happy, a lovely person, in love with her life, her husband, her family. She exemplified everything my mother did, and everything I strive to be. While she was riddled with medical issues, he goal was to live. As Peter Pan said, "To Live, that is a mighty big adventure!" She had a will to survive that was simply incredible. She inspired me to keep striving for better health and to continuing to be the best I can be despite my physical limitations; to push myself to achieve more than I think I can; to do something each day that would help me grow as a person and to remember that it's not my body, it's His and to revere it as He would. The only difference between Ive and my mom was their heritage. My mom was Scotch/Irish and French. Ive was full blooded Italian (born in Italy!).

The party we had was an Italian party. Only authentic, hand made Italian recipes allowed. One of our friends and neighbors actually made his own pasta! It was a fabulous family affair and delightful to look out into the yard and see children playing, and everyone gathering in love and friendship. We were in age from 4 to nearly 100. Laura, a dear friend who was quite pregnant, had her sweet little Pepper (Cayenna Jo) on the anniversary of Ive's homecoming and we know that Ive came to us that day in spirit. Laura had a relatively easy delivery and little Pepper, as Paul has dubber her, is the sweetest little joy! She weighed only 4 lbs 7 oz and today, a month later, has grown 2 inches (to a whopping 19 1/2") and now weighs a hefty 6 pounds. My goodness! My three were much larger than that upon their grand entrances into the world. Holding her is like holding a baby doll. She's so precious!

Here area few photos from the party and a few photos of sweet Pepper!

My sister came to visit in September. Hallelujah! It's been two years since I've seen her and Boy Howdy have I missed that girl! I was so excited to see her and Daddy was sweet enough to bring her down. The A/C in my house decided to go on the fritz that very day, but seriously, though it was hot, it was not my concern. I just wanted to be with her. I wish we had had more time to talk, play and just be in each other's company. It was awesome to see her and get the time I did with her. Sometimes you really don't know how much you've missed someone until you see each other again. It was like that for me with my dear sister. Dalton was equally thrilled to see his "Auntie Chockie". He had just been talking about missing her and wishing he could fly to Atlanta to see her, so her trip was well timed. Here are a couple photos; one of me and my boys, one of Martha and her nephews.

October has begun without much fanfare. The temps are wonderful, my a/c is still broken, but fortunately, the heat is fine and I"ll wait until taxes come back to worry about the a/c being fixed. In the mean time, we're saving some money. Window fans are fine!

I got a call Wednesday a week ago from Lisa. She was frantic as she cried into the phone, "I think Paul's having a heart attack. I just called 911. I just wanted you to know what's going on." Naturally, I went into overdrive. I got Reaves to work, arranged for Tony to grab up Dalton and watch him and I swept up Lisa to take her to Riverside. (Again, we were routed to Newport News because of no trauma unit at our local Sentara...)

I called Kevin to collect Dalton from Tony (he was busy working on a guys kitchen trying to help him out). Lisa and I arrived at Riverside to be greeted by Paul's sisters, Sue and Lisa, two of his sons, John and Kenny and his brother, Gary. I was told that for all intents and purposes, I was family and the boys were instructed that I was Aunt Lissa, Lisa's sister. (Not my idea, Lisa and Paul's!) When we got to the waiting area for MRI's, we learned that Paul was in horrible shape. He had coded twice and the second time was "gone" for two minutes. The cardiologist on staff was VERY good and we're so very grateful for him. He told us that he immediately went in to do a catherization and take a better look at what was going on. He saw that of the three stents Paul had put in last November (yes, only 10 months ago) the upper stent was semi blocked, the center one was 100% blocked and had slipped out of place, and the lower one was fine. The slippage was attributed to Paul's having returned to work far too soon after his surgery last year and the blockage was, in part, attributed to not following a proper diet and smoking. Everyone was admonished severely by the doctor when he came in to talk to us and everyone (but me) was outside, on cell phones, smoking. He was not a happy doctor. He said that he cleaned out both stents, inserted a fourth between the original second and the last, and the next 24 hours were critical. He, at that time, was not at all certain Paul would make it through the night. What a horrible bit of news to get! Everyone was stricken with fear, disbelief and horror. Lisa cried and cried that she couldn't do it without Paul. She then corrected herself to say, with her eyes looking upward, "Oh Lord, I can do it, I just really don't want to! He's my everything! Please bring him back to me!" I was reserving my tears for my private time. Time when I didn't need to be strong for the Lisa's, Sue, the boys and all the other family members. We stayed at the hospital until about 11 and we went home. We had all seen him (as allowed by the doctor). I was going to wait until he was stronger, but to my shock, he asked for me. Lisa said, he told the nurse, he wanted to see his sister, Lissa. Now how I rated all that is beyond me, but it was good to see him and set my own mind at ease over the start of his journey to recovery. He expressed his fears to me, I told him to let God take over his health, and start listening to his wife. He would be better in no time. God is so good. SO SO GOOD!

Lisa and I went back the next morning nice and early. We returned home about 3:30. Paul had had far too many visitors and wasn't getting any rest. Without rest, a patient can't recover. The nurse ran everyone off and coming home to rest ourselves was on the top of the necessary list. I had scouts that night anyway, as we were preparing for our Fall Campout and I needed to be home too.

He got so much wonderful rest that night, they moved him OUT of CICU the next morning and into his own room. Oh my goodness! It was astonishing! Not only did he make it through the first 24 hours with flying colors, he was making remarkable progress for a man who died twice just 36 hours before hand. Prayers are so so powerful and I know how grateful everyone is for the prayers this man and his family received. Not to mention the prayers for the doctors and nurses that He would guide their hands and keep Paul on the right path.

I went camping with the Cub Scouts (where upon I promptly lost my cane on arrival at camp - UGH!) at Cheatham Annex here in Williamsburg. We were right on the river and being in such a beautiful place kept me close in prayer. We had a great time with the kids. As I was sans cane, I was slow moving but I was having a good time. Pain not withstanding, not only did I move from station to station, I even was able to participate in the parent/child events! Dalton and I were facing each other in the Obstacle Course. I didn't do all the different things (such as crawling on under the ropes, the crab walk or the sack race) but I had a blast doing the other things, even enabling a bit of a jog! Dalton was a great sport and I love him so dearly for coddling me a bit. He's such a doll. We really did have a great time this past weekend. My girlfriend Susan and her family are great camping companions and I cherish her friendship. We put up the tent together, we co-lead the scouts (den 6) and enjoy other activities together. I really value her and her kids. What a great person. I'm blessed to know her. She and Lisa (Packer) cooked the meat together and pulled it Thursday night, which Susan finished Friday morning. It was an awesome meal. I loved it and was fortunate to be able to bring some home to share with my family. Can we say yummy!!

Saturday night we had dinner and campfire. We had had a casualty that afternoon. One of the Webelo I's dads had fallen and torn his shoulder ligament. We originally thought he had broken his collar bone. Luckily it wasn't that severe. As they live in our neighborhood, Ira (another leader) and I took the kids home since it's against Scout regulations to sleep in a tent without your parents. Fortunately John was in good spirits and the kids were glad to see him and know he was okay. When we returned, the campfire was in full force, I'd missed our skits, but it was good to be back and ready for bed. The kids ended up playing flashlight tag until about 9:30. They all had a blast and were ready for lights out at 10. I can tell you that the moment Dalton's eyes shut he was out like a light. Bless him, he was truly worn out despite his attempts to assure me otherwise!

Sunday morning saw us rising early, with a 7:30 breakfast call. While I had the boys at breakfast, with the camp policing afterward, Susan and Kevin (her Kevin) were striking our camp. How kind of them to take down my tent and pack up everything in Susan's vehicle! I was shocked when I returned after the closing prayer to find everything ready to leave! We were home before 11:30. I literally nearly fell into the couch. We showered and bathed and I took Dalton back to Susan. He accompanied them to Wesley's soccer game and had a blast! Susan said he was so wrapped up with the game he didn't want to play on the side lines with Walker. He promptly proclaimed to me that he wanted to play soccer "Really Bad Mom!". I couldn't be more delighted having wanted him to play soccer for years. Susan let me know the rec league, that will begin again in the Spring, is relatively inexpensive and a great way to begin. Dalton will be signing up for that as well as for winter Basketball. I'm looking forward to all of it! He'll have a great chance to see how well he can adjust to playing a sport and keep up with school work. So, that night we ate dinner at Susan's (I'm telling ya'll she's awesome!). We came home and literally fell into bed. I slept SO good that night and Reaves got another ride home so I didn't have to get up. Wow.. it was quite a weekend!

Here are some fun photos from the camping trip.

So that was that! We had a blast together all weekend.

This week has been rather uneventful until my appointment yesterday with the Neurologist (finally...). While I fully expected I'd had a full recovery (I've been exercising my hand and arm so I would have regained my strength by now), I learned quite the opposite.

Dr. Soueidan did some tests that were different that anything I have done (of course... that's why he makes the big bucks! hee hee). I learned that not only do I have no strength in my left hand vs. my right, I have diminished strength in my whole left side. I've also lost 31 pounds. I've not been trying really. I've been a wee tad more active and I've been taking notice of the fact that I haven't had an appetite. I've been careful about the kinds of food I've eaten (vs chocolate since that really is my nemesis). I never anticipated 31 pounds until I stepped on Lisa's scale and saw the number. I did notice my clothes were fitting better and the jeans I had on at camp I've not worn in two years. But it was shocking to me to learn that there might be a different reason I've lost that weight. The doctor had me go immediately to the hospital for blood work and I've got an MRI of my brain scheduled as well as a doplar of my carotid arteries. I've been very forgetful lately too and he says that he's very concerned about what he's hearing and seeing. He's worried that because of my age and because of my autoimmune disorders, and all the symptoms I've exhibited, I've got vasculitis. I'm not happy. His words were, "I need to get you in the right away and make sure you're not on the verge of a heart attack that will leave you with irreversible damage."

Oh gee thanks... not happy.... Not not not happy. If you're so inclined, there are a few requests. Please keep my friend Paul in your prayers. While he's home (he actually was released Saturday - HOLY COW!), he still has a ways to go before he can stop being cautious. He has to stop smoking which as any smoker or former smokers knows, is not an easy task. Despite the fact he was told, "If you light up another cigarette, you will die. I'm not sure I can bring you back next time. The damage to your heart is yet undetermined but it is extensive. You absolutely cannot smoke again." He's been a smoker more than 30 years. It's a hard thing to stop all of the sudden.

He's got to change his complete eating habits too. Paul loves food. He's a good old country boy who loves country food. Biscuits and gravy, mac and cheese, burgers, ribs, fried fish and on and on. Everything with cholesterol in it is on his menu of favorite foods. And there have to be significant changes made. While Lisa has been attempting to enact these changes in his diet since he had his original stents put in, he's not been a great listener (um.. hello... he's a man!). It's going to be tough but living is worth it. He knows he's been given an extraordinary chance to keep going. He's got to do it right this time!

Lisa was so scared that she'd lost her sweetheart. While they do have their moments, they have many more loving ones than rough. (It didn't used to be that way! It was just the opposite for a while.) They celebrated their 14th wedding anniversary on Wednesday and thanked God for the chance to do it.

Please, keep them in your prayers, if you would, for Paul's continually improving good health, Lisa and Paul's ability to stop smoking and their ability to change those things that are necessary to change for survival.

Secondly, if you could keep my daddy in your thoughts I'd greatly appreciate it. They diagnosed him with the earliest of stages of Parkinson's. While he shuffles when he walks and very rarely but he does shake in his left hand, we are hoping the medication he's on will keep this disease at bay. I know he's 82 and things like this are normal to start happening, but I can't be with him 24/7 and it concerns me that he's alone up there. I'm terrified he'd going to slip on the steps or fall in the shower. He's tried to get his alarm system to send him the information on the "Help I've fallen and I can't get up" devices and they've yet to comply. I'm just nervous about not being close enough. He's an amazing man and I can't bear the idea of something happening for which I'm not there to care for him.

If you have time left over in your prayers, if you wouldn't mind including me and my doctors in your thoughts I'd greatly appreciate it. I know I've asked a lot, and for that I apologize. I have so much to life for. I have so much to do in my life. To be told that I potentially have a disease that has gone untreated since July (for which there is a 100% mortality rate if left untreated) is unsettling to say the least. My next available appointment to see my neurologist is not until November 24th despite my "immediate" MRI and dopplar, bothers me and I will be bothering their office phone lines beginning the 22nd of this month. I'm just not capable of waiting that long without hearing the results of my tests.

Taylor is due home from Longwood today for Fall Break. I'm really looking forward to seeing him. It's been a month and each time I see him after not seeing him for a while I feel like he changes tremendously. I miss my boy (my boy who is tall, and thick, and so not a boy but most definitely a young man now...).

I'll be glad to get hugs from my boy. I love getting hugs from all my boys. They make everything so much better. I thank the Lord for my boys, for the joy and love they give me and share with me daily.

So I leave you here. Peace, joy and blessings to all of you!