Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Broken...

Last night I received a phone call from a friend that I have known for 12 years.  Most recently life has been unfair to this person, and I can definitely testify to that as I have watched from the sidelines as people have destroyed his reputation.  Before you ask, yes, I did step up and stand up for him as did his other friends, but to no avail.  This man is broken, and as I spoke to him last night on the phone while he cried and thanked me for standing by him and his family, my heart broke for him and I also cried with him.  Today many of us are meeting up with him to say goodbye to him, and if you are reading this, I just ask that you pray for my friend and his family.  He is a broken man and did not deserve this.  My hope is that God has something much better in store for him.

**********************Update ************************
If you prayed today, thank you.  It was bittersweet saying goodbye.  Tears were shed all around.  His wife and daughter were grateful that we showed up to say goodbye and help him pack.  As we packed, we were able to remember the good times that we shared and found things left by students current and past that brought back good thoughts.  God is good.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Ragged Edge...

I have reached the ragged edge.  Since Friday, I have crammed a semesters worth of Physics into my brain.  I have taken over 20 pages of notes. Worked numerous physics problems.  Hauled physics books back and forth to my duty and back and forth to work and home.  I have studied a ridiculous amount of time.  I have completed the final exam study guide.  I have gone to two real teachers and said, "explain this so I can understand it" too many times to count.  I am exhausted.  I can barely think at this point.  Tomorrow I will walk into a physics class and begin to review a semesters worth of material that I struggle to understand myself.  I think I now have a decent grasp of it, but my confidence is shaky at best.  I don't even know if anyone reads this, but if you do, send up a prayer for me over the next several days that I can convey the material correctly to these kids.  They deserve that.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

I Know Kung Fu...

If you haven't seen the movie, The Matrix, this clip probably doesn't make sense to you (honestly I didn't understand any of the movies in this trilogy, but Ryan LOVES them).  Basically they are downloading all sorts of skills and training into Keanu Reeves' character in the movie.

Right now, I wish this was how I learned.  I had a brain injury just over 10 years ago.  Most people don't notice it now, because I have learned many ways to compensate for it (although crowds of people still make my skin crawl and I get agitated so if you notice me with a book in my hand or my kindle, it's a coping mechanism to keep me from freaking out).

I was reminded of it recently, however.  Over the next 2 weeks, several of my friends at work and I will be teaching Physics for the remainder of the semester during our plan periods (I'm not going to go into the reason why, but if you are curious or want my opinion be prepared).  The majority of us are not familiar with Physics.  I taught Matter & Energy for several years at the start of my teaching career, which I will call physics "lite".  This is way out of my comfort zone, and learning new things does not come easy to me post-brain injury.

I went to my good friend who teaches Physics and asked her for a book that would be understandable for people like me.  She has known me from the beginning so she knew exactly what I was asking for.  I have spent the past stress filled days, frantically taking notes and working problem after problem hoping that somehow this Physics would stick in my brain (because I have short term memory loss, it makes it a bit more complicated to transfer information from my short term memory to my long term memory).  Let's just say, I'm wishing I could just plug the back of my head into a computer and have it all downloaded.  I am sure that is how my other non-Physics friends are also feeling at this moment too, so if you're reading this, send up a prayer for us to get through the next 2 weeks and be able to help these students.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Angels Come In All Shapes & Sizes...

For about the last week and a half, Juliana has been going through a difficult phase.  I'm not sure what brought it on, and I can't wait for it to finish.  She has begun throwing her tantrums and screaming for no apparent reason again.  It's like her senses go on overload and she doesn't know how to process it and the only alternative left is for her to scream.

It started last Monday.  She didn't want to go to swim lessons, which was weird.  She's been so proud of herself ever since she moved to lessons "without momma", but on Monday she didn't want to go.  We got to the Y, and Noah got ready for his lessons.  Then, without reason, Juli began to scream in the locker room- I hadn't even asked her to start getting changed.  I was getting looks from other people in the locker room as she just stood there and screamed and screamed.  I got her calmed down a little bit, and talked her into putting on her swim suit.  Then she started to scream again.  I calmed her down again and talked her into just sitting on the bench with me while Noah swam.  She sat next to me on the bench and screamed (honestly, I just wanted to put her bubble on and put her in the water, but her instructor was a sub this week and was like 17 years old and he had a terrified look on his face of being trapped with a screamer).  After 15 minutes she stopped screaming.  She was still sitting next to me on the bench, but she was quiet (thank God, because I had a migraine).

Then, a different instructor approached me.  Her name is Kenya and she had the more advanced swimmers.  She asked me if she could try with Juli.  I said, "sure".  She sat next to Juli and we talked.  I told her that Juli isn't afraid of the water.  I explained that sometimes she goes on sensory overload and doesn't know how to process except by screaming.  She told me one of her sons was the same way.  Somehow she talked Juli, even though she was crying, into the water and into the last 15 minutes of her swim lesson.  Juli cried for about 3 more minutes, and then Kenya had her swimming all over the pool.  She even convinced her to jump in.  Juli made it through her swim lesson and I thanked Kenya profusely for everything she did for Juli.  Not a lot of people understand what it's like to have a child like Juliana.  When people see a kid screaming like she does, most people cast immediate judgement that they are a spoiled brat and that is why they are tantruming.  I can assure you that I do not spoil my children, but I have experienced the judgemental look plenty of times.

On Tuesday I picked Juli up from the sitter and we went home.  I got out her speech folder to do our nightly speech homework, but before I could even get us started, she began to scream.  I don't even know why.  She screamed the entire 30 minutes before we left to pick Noah up from school.  She continued to scream the entire walk to Noah's school (that was a fun walk, let me tell you) and she screamed the entire walk back home. 

Wednesday & Thursday pretty much started the same way.  Once we got Juli out of bed, she began to scream until we dropped her off at the baby sitter.  This made for very stressful mornings for all of us, because you can barely hear yourself think when she is screaming so communicating to the other people in your family is difficult as well.  I picked her up from the sitter on Thursday, Halloween.  She was good.  We picked up Noah from school.  She was still good.  I got them changed into their Halloween costumes for trick-or-treating.  Still going well.  We left to go trick-or-treating.  We had been out for almost an hour, and Juli had only had one small episode of screaming and after Noah had told her that she was ruining it for him she had stopped. 

We were getting close to our house, and Juli tripped and fell on the sidewalk and landed at the feet of a hispanic man (he turned out to be the dad of a girl in Noah's class).  He picked her up and brushed her off and the 2 of us checked her out to make sure she was okay.  She had a small cut on her hand and that was it.  She cried a little bit, but was okay, so we decided to hit a few houses on the way home.  All of a sudden Juli began to scream.  I ran up to her, thinking I had missed something when she had fallen, and her hand was covered in blood and her sleeve was soaked in blood.  The dad ran back to see why she was screaming as well, and he helped me search her arm and hand looking for the source of the blood.  Neither of us could find anything except the very tiny cut on her hand.  I ran her home, Ryan could hear us and as soon as he saw all the blood, he grabbed Juli and ran her to the sink.  Once we got her hand and arm cleaned off, all we saw was the tiny cut on her hand, and a splinter.  Apparently that was the source of ALL that blood- we had to soak her shirt and wash it multiple times to get the blood stains out.

Juli continued to scream after we finished cleaning her up.  I figured since she was already screaming, I may as well take the opportunity to remove the splinter.  That was a poor decision on my part, as Juli refused to let me near her.  She screamed like someone was killing her and kicked the wall over and over again, in between hitting and kicking me.  I gave up before I snapped and left her screaming upstairs as trick or treater after trick or treater coming to our house looked at us with huge eyes.  She continued to scream upstairs all by herself for another 20 minutes and then came downstairs.  Ryan was able to get the splinter out of her hand, but that also resulted in another bout of screaming.  By the end of the night, I was emotionally drained from the screaming from the week, and I was in the middle of a bad migraine cycle.

By the time it was the weekend, I was exhausted emotionally and physically from my migraine as well as from all the screaming that had been done by my daughter.  I was also thankful for the 2 angels who helped me this week: Kenya at the Y and the dad who was out with his kids trick or treating.  Instead of judging me or my child, they accepted her and her issues and helped us.  I will be forever grateful for that.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013


It’s the hardest thing to give away
And the last thing on your mind today
It always goes to those that don’t deserve

It’s the opposite of how you feel
When the pain they caused is just too real
It takes everything you have just to say the word…

-Matthew West
I sat in the parking lot not wanting to walk into the building.  I thought I had gotten over what had happened to me just 3 months earlier by a couple of people, but in reality I had just pushed it away instead of dealing with it.
"Do you want me to come out and walk back inside with you?" one of my friends texted me.  I just sat with my phone in my hand, deciding what to text back.  What I really wanted to do was drive back home.  Then, "Forgiveness" came on the radio.  I closed my eyes and listened to the whole song, said a prayer, texted back, "No, I'm on my way" and walked into the building.
I have been a fan of Matthew West's for a while, and I knew most of his song's had stories behind them.  So when I got home that day, I looked up the story on YouTube.
Here it is: 
So after listening to that, how could I not start on my own journey of forgiveness?  Especially as I am not blameles myself and God forgives me.  It's not going to be easy, but I'm working on it.
It’ll clear the bitterness away
It can even set a prisoner free
There is no end to what it’s power can do
So, let it go and be amazed
By what you see through eyes of grace
The prisoner that it really frees is you

Forgiveness, Forgiveness
Forgiveness, Forgiveness

Show me how to love the unlovable
Show me how to reach the unreachable
Help me now to do the impossible
-Matthew West

Monday, September 2, 2013

An Ode To My Night Guard...

I know, that's an odd title, isn't it?  Just go with me on this one.

 About 8 or 9 years ago, my dentist noticed that my teeth were wearing funny and asked me if I ground my teeth at night.  I didn't know, I was asleep, but Ryan confirmed that he had heard my teeth grinding in the night.  The dentist recommended I get a night guard.  At the time we didn't have children, and we didn't see children in our future, so we invested in a night guard from the dentist's office (they are expensive!). 

I wore it faithfully, bringing it with me when we went on vacation, spent the weekend at my parents' house, even when I delivered both my kids.  I found I couldn't sleep if I didn't have it, and if I didn't have it and did manage to fall asleep, I woke up with a bad headache and jaw pain in the morning.

Every Saturday, Ryan cleans the bathrooms.  On this particular Saturday, the case to my night guard was still open (because I hadn't brushed my teeth or night guard yet, I was getting dressed at this time), and all of a sudden I heard, "Uh oh."  Ryan had doused my night guard with a ton of Comet, and when I say a ton of Comet, I mean a ton of Comet.  It had slipped out of his hands and emptied right into my night guard case.  Feeling horrible, my wonderful husband told me he would take care of fixing it so that I could go run the errands that needed to be done.  Later, I discovered that he had run it through the dishwasher, to make sure all the Comet was gone.  This was very sweet of him, but he had forgotten, even with his chemist background, what can happen to polymers when they get heated.  When I went to put it in my mouth, it no longer fit.  It was warped.  We tried reheating it to fix it, but nothing worked.

In desperation, I drove to Wal-Mart and Target searching for a night guard that I could use.  I found one and it worked for about a week.  Then, I started waking up in the middle of the night, choking on pieces of plastic.  I was grinding my way through the plastic mold.  My dad gave me the kit that he had bought but never opened.  It was made for people 5'9" and over (I am not even close to that height).  When I tried to put the mold in my mouth, it was way too big and I couldn't even close my mouth, so apparently when they put a height requirement on certain things, they really mean it.

I started looking on Amazon for night guards, and I found one made by Sporting Smiles.  It had pretty good reviews and was actually made in a dental lab.  They mail you the materials and you make a mold of your mouth and mail it back.  So, I went to their website to check them out.  They were cheaper through their website than through Amazon, and had free shipping.  So, I bit the bullet and ordered one, upgrading to the heavy grinder material, for $5 more, but still less than $100 and much less than the dentist had cost. 

The materials arrived, and I mixed them together and put the mold in my mouth.  The only downside is sitting with it in your mouth for 5 minutes.  Then, I popped it out, filled out the paperwork, put it in the envelope and put the prepaid shipping label on it.  2 weeks later, my new night guard arrived.  I took it out and examined it.  It was MUCH less bulky than the one from the dentist's office.  It was also slightly flexible.  It kind of looks like those invisalign braces people wear.  I have had it for about a month now, and I have to say it is holding up extremely well.  There is no evidence of wear and tear on it and it fits perfectly.  So, if your dentist ever says you need a night guard, I would highly recommend this place.  They did quality work and I paid SIGNIFICANTLY less than I did the first time around.

And that is why this is called an ode to my night guard.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

14 Wonderful Years...

So back in March, I was watching the WGN morning news (I love them because they don't take themselves seriously just like me), and Dean Richards was announcing that the Ravinia had released it's list of artists for the summer season.  I listened to him read off the names just to listen.  I had been to a concert at the Ravinia a long time ago when a co-worker and friend of mine had an extra ticket at the last minute (for free), and it was a great experience, but expensive.  Then, I heard him say, "Josh Groban".  Now, if you haven't heard Josh Groban sing, you must be living under a rock (just kidding), but you need to listen to some music, because you are missing out!  Even my kids like to listen to him.  Their favorite song right now is Brave.

My conversation with Ryan went like this, "So...I have an idea of something we can do for our anniversary (we usually just do dinner and a movie if we do anything)."  Ryan: "Oh yeah? What?"  Me: "Josh Groban is coming to the Ravinia to do a concert.  We could get tickets.  Not to sit in the pavilion, because that will cost like a bazillion dollars, but to sit on the grass and listen and have a picnic dinner."  Ryan: "That's an idea."

Later at work, I got an email from Ryan that said the tickets were reasonable for the lawn, but they didn't go on sale yet and how about asking my parents and sister and brother in law if they wanted to go.  They were all in.  The morning that the tickets went on sale, Ryan got up early to order them.  He was able to get us 6 lawn seats, and the concert sold out quick.

On August 10th, we met at my Dad's work to head to the Ravinia.  All of us had packed food to share.  We had received an email saying arrive early because they were expecting a crowd, so we did.  We were lucky and found free parking close to the Ravinia and were like 12th in line to enter the park (yep, you had to stand in line to stake out your piece of lawn).  About 15 minutes before the gates opened, my dad told me to turn around and there was a sea of people behind us.  Bill (my brother in law) was pulling this wagon that had a mind of its own, and I worried that he might get trampled.  The gates opened, and my long legged sister took off weaving through people with my mom behind her.  I gave the wagon a push to get Bill a start and followed after them.  Jaime found us a good piece of lawn, whipped off her chairs and started staking out our territory.  My mom followed suit and when I caught up to them I also helped.  Bill made it to us unharmed and we set up our camp and began our evening of gluttony. 

Hummus, meats, cheeses, fruits, veggies, strawberry shortcake, cupcakes, chocolate chip cookies = evening of gluttony
As the evening continued, people flooded the park and the sea of people really turned into a sea of people!  At one point, I looked behind us and I was like, "hey, I know that guy!"  It was my friend and co-worker who had taken me to the Ravinia for free the first time and his girlfriend (what are the odds that I would run into him there?).  He told us that one of the security guards said that there were over 13,500 people there!

This doesn't even begin to show how many people were there!

Finally, the time for Josh to come on stage came.  He is one of those performers whose voice isn't changed in the studio.  It is as amazing in person as it is on my iPod.  We did weave our way through the people to the Pavillion to "see" him before it got dark, and he was really there :-)

It was so cool to sit there an listen to him!  He is a big goof ball, funny and down to earth.  He ran out into the audience to give a hug to one of us "lawn people" hanging out by the Pavillion who had a sign that said: Josh, can I have a hug?  He also answered questions that we could post on facebook. I took some videos, but the only ones I'm using were taken by the people who sat under the Pavillion, because mine you can only listen to him (which I'm fine with).  He ended the night with his best known song, which if he hadn't sang, Bill would have cried, I think. 

Anyway, it was a fantastic anniversary present from my wonderful husband of 14 years.  Thank you, Ryan!

Bill and Jaime
Dad and Mom
We were tired-that's all I can say, ha ha

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

No More Fatties...

Back in July, my sister Jaime, and I decided that we were tired of not being "in shape".  We really wanted Ryan to be our trainer and tell us, "Don't eat that, fatty!" because we love food.  Ryan said that that was a bad idea.  So then Jaime said, let's just do it through My Fitness Pal.  I agreed, and then we got our mom in on it too.  The 3 of us have been working out and logging our food for just over 20 days now.  I haven't stepped on the scale again, because I really don't want to, but I can see a difference in my body.

Jaime has gotten me addicted to 2 workouts: Insanity and TurboFire. I also have added into the mix, Bob Harper's various DVD's, and he enjoys kicking my butt as well.  1 or 2 days a week, I also run.  Yesterday I ran.  It was a really good run.  I stretched first and then I ran.  I was faster than I was last week, so I ran just a tad further than my usual 3 miles- not much further, just a little.  I stretched when I got home, and then I iced my low back like I usually do.  After my shower, my low back had this ache in it, like the last time I hurt it.  I stretched again and iced again.  Then, we went to the campground where Ryan's parents are staying in their 5th wheel to hang out with everyone.  My low back was hurting more and more.  By the time we got to lunch and had finished, I needed help getting up from the picnic table.  I knew that was a bad sign.  Ryan drove me back home & dropped me off and I called our chiropractor who was able to get me in.

After he examined me, he determined that I had herniated a disc in my lumbar region and that I had sprained my SI joint, which was why I was having difficulty getting up to stand.  With all of this, the muscles around the disc were in spasm, so he hooked me up to a machine that stimulated my muscles for about 15 minutes.  I'm not going to say it was enjoyable, but on a scale of 0-labor pains, it was about a 5.  After that, he adjusted my sacrum and hips for about 15 minutes, and when he was done, I was able to stand without pain.  He then showed me a couple exercises to do at home until I returned the next day (today) for another adjustment.  He also told me to "ice, ice, ice", which I had expected and had some ice packs sitting in a cold bag ready for the drive home.

Today, everyone is going to Starved Rock to hike.  He told me not to go, as that would be bad on this injury.  So I get to stay home and do my cobra exercises and leaning against the wall stretches (that one makes me want to put my fist through the wall because it hurts a lot) and ice, ice, ice in between.  Sounds like fun, doesn't it?  Not really.  I'd rather be hiking at Starved Rock- Ryan and I love to go there.

Hopefully, today's adjustment will go well so that I can go out with them tomorrow and maybe be back to working out later this week or this weekend, because I'm a bit twitchy today.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Why I Do What I Do...

People have asked me why I teach, and I don't really know how to answer.  How do you explain something that you love to do?  I teach because of the kids.  I love being around my kids.  Yes, they are my kids.  Sure they belong to someone else, but during the 56 minutes that they are in my classroom, they are mine.  I get the privilege of watching them grow and learn.  Teaching them that if they just push themselves a tiny bit further than they think they can, they can accomplish more than they thought possible.

I do it for moments like this:

Nick, Ryan, myself, Kristen, & Amanda
I had all 4 of these kids at different times (kind of).  On the far right you have Amanda, she was the first one I had.  She was a cheerleader, now she's a Marine Corps Boot Camp Drill Instructor, and she just had a baby boy who is sooooo cute!  Keep Amanda in your prayers, she's a new mom, and Caleb's dad (also a Marine) is currently deployed.
This is Amanda- In case you didn't think that smiling sweet girl was really a Drill Instructor

Next to Amanda, you have Kristen.  I had the privilege of having Kristen twice- as a sophomore and as a junior.  As a Sophomore, I had Kristen in Chemistry and she had a rough start to the school year when she fell and broke her finger and I believe part of her hand and required surgery.  We were able to use her x-rays the following year when I had her again in my Honors Anatomy class.  Kristen is currently a very successful college student at NIU.

On the other side of me is Ryan.  I had Ryan only for one semester, and I didn't even get to have Ryan for the full semester, because I went into labor with Noah.  He did work hard for me while I was there and he was great for my maternity sub.

At the end is Nick, and he is the reason we are all together.  On Saturday I was invited to his graduation party.  Nick graduated from high school.  Here's the funny thing: I NEVER had Nick as a student.  Why were you at his graduation party then, you might ask?  When Nick got to high school, Kristen was also still in high school.  Kristen made sure Nick knew who I was.  Nick visited me almost every single day, especially his junior and senior years of high school, even though I was NEVER his teacher. 

Can you tell that this family is extremely special to me?  All four of them are amazing people, and you should meet their parents!  This is why I do what I do. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Big Sleepover...

So, Ryan and I had this idea of having Jaime's 3 kids come down and spend the night before Rori's birthday party so that Jaime and Bill could get their house ready for the big bash.  The night before, Jaime called and warned me that Liam (6) and Brendan (3) were having second thoughts and may not come, which I totally understood, because Noah is also a huge Momma's boy and homebody.

Friday morning, Jaime called me and told me the boys were a "go", so Ryan picked them all up after he finished summer hours and drove them down to our house.  The first 15 minutes was pure chaos with children running and yelling all over the house.  It was insane!  Then, we packed snacks and water and had all the kiddies put on their swimsuits and sunscreened them up, we were headed to the splashpad.

The kids played at the splashpad for over 2.5 hours.  I think the other people at the splashpad thought that all 5 kids were ours and that we may have had 2 sets of twins (Noah & Liam, Juli and Brendan).  Of course there were injuries- poor Liam tripped and fell, skinning his knees and 1 elbow.  Then he slammed his face on the slide.  Good thing I always keep a first aid kit in the van!

After that, we took a walk, and they ran around some more, playing and dancing on the stage that was there, Ryan decided, "Hey, lets do ice cream before dinner!" So, we headed to Mickey D's for ice cream cones.

Yes, I know we forgot to lower the head rest on Noah's booster after Rori sat in it
From there, we picked up a couple of pizzas for dinner and headed back to our house.  The kids didn't eat much- I think due to the excitement of the day and the ice cream.  The 3 big kids then played some Lego Star Wars on the Wii, and the 2 bubba's went outside to play.

Later, we sent all the big kids outside to play and Ryan filled the kiddie pool and set up the sprinkler for them.  They ran around like crazies and played for another few hours.  Of course there was another injury- poor Rori fell off the swing and hit her chin on the ground.  Then, we did sparklers and made S'mores in the fire pit.

All the kids smelled a little smokey from the fire, so we decided to give the big kids showers, and the little kids a bath- because Rori's birthday party was the next day.  Rori is self-sufficient, so we just had to turn on the water and she took care of herself.  Ryan bathed Juli and Brendan, and I was the lucky recipient of Noah and Liam's shower (holy cow, 6 year old boys are crazy!).  By then it was well after 9 PM, so Ryan and I set up 5 beds in Noah's room for the kids, while the kids watched a movie and had some snacks, and then we joined them. 

A sea of beds
Around 10, we called Jaime and Bill to say goodnight, brushed teeth and headed to bed.  They settled down fairly quickly (Ryan gave up around 10:15- he needs sleep, or it's not pretty), except for Noah and Rori who were coughing.  After some cough medicine, and a call to Jaime to see what else I could try for Rori's cough, I returned to Noah's room, to find Rori sound asleep and curled up next to Noah in his bed.

Noah and Liam slept until 6:30, Rori and Brendan slept until 7:30, and Juli slept until 8:30.  Ryan cooked them a delicious pancake breakfast, and then we started getting everybody packed up and ready.  Of course, Juli said to Brendan, "Come on, let's be naughty!" (That's what the 2 of them do), so we had to keep one eye on them while we were getting ready to leave.  And then we headed up to Jaime's house for Rori's birthday party.  Her party consisted of water balloons, the cup game, and lots and lots of swimming.  Everyone had a great time.

When we left their house that night, it didn't take long for our kids to conk out, and they slept until 9:45 the next morning.

It was a good time and we look forward to many more sleepovers like this one :-)

Monday, July 8, 2013

Why So Silent?

I have been silent on here, not posting much this year.  There are a few reasons- losing Finchy so soon after Chili Dawg hurt quite a bit, our family has been plagued with illness (I haven't had ear infections or sinus infections since I was a little kid and a teenager and then pink eye hit our house...), but there's a bigger reason.

Have you ever done the right thing?  I mean, you KNOW in your heart of hearts that you have done the right thing.  You've prayed about it.  Been up thinking about it because it's constantly on your heart.  You know that when you do this right thing that it may cause waves, but it's the right thing to do.

Yeah, that happened to me.  I did the right thing.  TWICE.  The first time, I watched and nothing happened, so I went one step beyond.  Nothing happened.  The people that were supposed to change the thing that was wrong didn't fix it.  There was no where left for me to go from there.  I will admit, it devastated me for a long time.  To know I did the right thing twice.  Not once, but two times, and nothing happened! NOTHING!  I was angry.  Very angry.  Ask my friends and family, it wasn't pretty.  But then, other people stepped up and said something as well.  Because they saw how angry and hurt I was, they said something.  Nothing has happened still, but more people have spoken up.

Will I still do the right thing again, knowing that this will probably happen to me again?  Of course.  That's how I was raised.  That's the example I want to set for my kids. 

Monday, June 10, 2013


I was sure that Juliana would be the first child to go to college in diapers (sorry, Jaime, I kind of stole that from you), or at least Kindergarten.  She had no desire to be potty trained.  I have been trying to potty train her since last summer when she was 3.  That was a disaster.  Then we tried over Christmas break.  Disaster.  Spring break?  Not interested.  I won't get graphical here, but let's just say she was happy being wet and stinky.  So, the last month of preschool, Ryan and I talked up potty training big time.  We told her "potty training boot camp" started the first Monday of summer vacation.  We even came up with a lame chant that she picked up and started to say as well.

Sunday night (the night before boot camp), Juli was having "second thoughts" about boot camp, but we told her there was no going back.  Right before bedtime on Sunday, she told Ryan she wanted to sit on the potty, so he put her on the potty and she pooped.  That was a big surprise for us, and I was like, well, maybe this week won't be so bad after all if she has one of them down already.  Oh, silly me.  I spent the next several days cleaning up accident after accident.  No matter how often I put Juli on the toilet (every 15 minutes) she still managed to pee all over herself and the floor, which resulted in tears.  Wednesday, after cleaning up the 2nd accident, I said to her out of frustration, "Juli, if you pee in your Cinderella underwear, the fairy godmother is going to come and turn you into a pumpkin", and Juli said, "Oh no!"  About an hour later, she comes running into the house saying, "Mom, pee is coming! Go potty now!"  And it has been that way (most of the time) ever since. 

On Thursday, Juli was talking to Grandma on the phone and she told Grandma, "If me pee in 'rella undies, 'mother is gonna come and turn me into Punkin Horsie!"  Then, I had to explain what that meant to Grandma.  Of course, Juli has had a couple little accidents here and there, but for the most part, after 4 days I can say that my 4 year old is finally potty trained for the day time.  Now if we could just get her off her high calorie beverage we could be done with diapers/pullups at bedtime, but she would have to eat in order to do that.  I wonder if the fairy godmother has anything for that...

Sunday, April 28, 2013

My Ladybug Girl Turns 4 Today...

My ladybug girl turns 4 today.  I am so proud of how far she has come since we brought her home from the hospital.  She rides the bus like a big girl, 5 days a week ("I ride bus!" "Bus driver, take me home!") to and from preschool.  She loves her teacher, Ms. Julie, and all 3 of her therapists: Ms. Ryane, Ms. Jackie, & Ms. Karen.  She loves her classmates, especially her little friend, Nina, who is her school version of her cousin "Bubba"- they get into mischief together (Ms. Julie, you are a saint!).

She sings songs.  Some of her favorites being: "If Your Happy & You Know It," any song from the show Doc McStuffins, and just like her brother, Noah, she is a TobyMac fan.  I didn't realize that Juli was as into TobyMac as Noah was, until we were driving home from some place and the music started up for one of his songs, and Juli just started singing along with him.

She loves animals.  She has recently made the realization that we have "one gog-(dog), Buster".  Before that, she would ask when Finchy was coming home from the vet ("Finchy bery sick").  When we walk to and from Noah's school, if anyone is out walking a dog, Juli insists we stop and ask if we can pet him/her.  She loves to get out Noah's doctor kit and "take care" of Buster (he is so good with her) or anyone else.  She loves to take care of her baby dolls, too.

She loves to look at books.  Especially the ones that have flaps to lift.  She also has started to sit and listen to the Ladybug Girl stories and brings those out at bedtime as well.  Her favorite movies include: The Lorax, Horton Hears a Who, and Cinderella (grandpa bought her all of them for Christmas). 

While Juli is still on the small side, she makes up for her size with her voice, her spirit, and her determination.  As Shakespeare said, "Though she be but little, she is fierce".  I have no doubt that whatever this little one decides to do, she will get it done.

Happy Birthday, my ladybug girl!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

My Heart Turns 6 Today...

My heart turns 6 years old today.  They say time goes by fast, and they aren't kidding (whomever this "they" is).  I still remember the day we drove to the hospital, not even thinking that this could possibly be the day our baby boy would be born- 3 weeks early, but it was.  It seems like just yesterday, you fit in my lap and we would rock and rock and rock.  You still snuggle in my lap, but now you're all arms and legs, and you're always hungry (is this a glimpse of your teenage years?).

You now wear "big boy" glasses- without the wrap around ear pieces, you go to Kindergarten, you let Daddy give you a buzz cut instead of the little boy hair cut you once sported.  Where has the time gone?

I am so proud of the "big boy" you are turning into.  I love that you spontaneously break out into singing "Kings and Queens", "Where I Belong",  "Whom Shall I Fear", "Tonight", or "Eye On It".  I love that when you are asked who your favorite singer is, your immediate response is TobyMac.  I love that you were shocked when you learned that not every child has a Bible and that in some countries you aren't allowed to worship Jesus.  I love that you immediately wanted to use all your money to buy all the children in the world a Bible so they could read about Jesus at bedtime like you do.  You love to give to others and that is a wonderful trait of yours.

I love that you want to be a dolphin trainer when you grow up so that you can work with Winter the Dolphin and other injured dolphins.  You were Chili Dawg's champion when we amputated his leg.  You always stood up for him when people gave him strange looks or said something about him only having 3 legs.  You were always quick to point out "how much cooler our dog was than their dog, because their dog needed 4 legs to walk and ours could walk with 3".  You loved Finchy so much, and our hearts broke the night you realized he wasn't coming home from the vet and you cried that mournful sob.  You have such a tender heart and a desire to help others.  Your Kindergarten teacher thinks that you will make an excellent doctor one day.

Happy birthday, my dinosaur loving, angry-birds loving, sweet boy.  You are my sunshine!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Farewell To A Faithful Companion...

I have put off writing this post for almost 2 weeks now.  Tomorrow it will be 2 weeks since we sent Finchy to the Rainbow Bridge.  Last Monday, his ashes came home.  It's not that I didn't want to write a tribute to him, it's just that doing so marks an end to an era.

About a year after we got the Chili Dawg, we realized he needed a companion to play with.  We began looking at animal shelters, but couldn't find the "right" companion.  Then, a co-worker mentioned that she knew of someone who didn't want their Boxer anymore and just wanted someone to take him off their hands.  We drove up to meet the dog, with Chili Dawg.  They seemed to get along pretty well, & as a bonus, they were pretty close in age- only 6 months apart.  And so, in pretty much the same manner as our acquisition of the Chili Dawg, we acquired Finchy, 2 pure bred dogs, both unwanted by their original owners, and both given to us for free.

We came to realize, early on, that Finchy had not had an easy life in his first year and a half.  His ears had teeth marks in them, he had a case of worms, he was terrified of thunderstorms and fireworks (he had been forced to live outside on a tieout- which for a Boxer with very little hair in IL, is not a good decision), and for the first year living with us, he was terrified of Ryan any time Ryan held a magazine or newspaper in his hand.  We tried to change his name, as the name Finch, didn't really appeal to us, but Finchy proved to be a stubborn dog and wouldn't come for any other name then Finch (or Finchy), and so we stuck with that name. 

Finchy was not the brightest Boxer.  Every spring, without fail, he would run into the screen door the first time it was there after the winter months were over.  We ended up having to replace the screen with pet screen, because he ended up going through it at one point.  He refused to learn the command, "lay down".  In order to get him to lay down, we had to say, "sit", and then "sit again".  Only then, would he lay down. 

He was the fastest dog I have ever met.  I refused to rollerblade with him, because I was afraid I would die.  Finchy didn't believe in pacing himself, like Chili Dawg would.  When we would take the dogs rollerblading, Finchy would take off like the devil was chasing him, and Ryan would get the ride of his life for the first half of the skate.  Then, Finchy would get tired, and Ryan would take the lead or end up carrying him home (yes, I am serious), while Chili and I finished it out- this is why it's good to pace yourself.  Finchy would chase a ball, squeaky toy, or frisbee until your arm gave out.  Then, he would bring it back to you until your other arm gave out, and he would still want to keep going.  He was the energizer bunny.

He was also the most sensitive dog that I have ever met.  He was a worrier.  He knew when Ryan was going out of town and would start to whine.  He knew when a thunderstorm was coming and would start to whine.  He was a worry-wart.  Whenever we left with Chili Dawg for the vet, he would whine and pace until we brought him home.  I think he knew Chili Dawg had cancer before we knew.

When Chili Dawg crossed the bridge, Finchy was lost.  He paced and he whined and he looked for his friend.  He turned gray fast.  I hadn't realized how quickly he turned gray until I looked at some pictures recently.  Finchy and Chili Dawg were like peanut butter and jelly.  You couldn't have one without the other.  They would lay with each other on the couch, or out in the yard, or on the floor.  It was hard for Finchy to move on without his brother.

When we got Buster, Finchy perked up a little bit.  He started to eat again and play again.  Some of the old spark came back, but Finchy was different.  Then, he got sick and the "c" word was mentioned.  I can't tell you how much I hate cancer.  Taking Finchy to the vet this last time and having him admitted for pancreatitis, Ryan asked me, "Do you think Finchy will come home this time?"  I wanted to be optimistic, but I wasn't.  When Ryan came home that Sunday after visiting hiim in the animal hospital, I saw it in his eyes too.  He knew Finchy wasn't coming home again, but we both wanted the last ditch blood test for Noah- who asked about him constantly. 

Monday night when we went to see Finchy for the last time.  He walked into the room and I could see it in his face.  His butt didn't even wiggle to see us (that's a signature Boxer move- sometimes called the jelly bean dance).  His nub of a tail moved just a bit.  He was panting heavily, because he hurt.  He couldn't figure out how to lay down, so Ryan helped him to lay down on the blanket they provided.  His legs were swollen and covered in strange bruises, and his abdomen was swollen.  We were told that they could send us to some specialists to figure out what was wrong with him, because they didn't know what else they could do.  Ryan and I didn't want to do that.  He was clearly telling us that he was hurting.  I told the vet that we wanted to end his pain, that it wasn't fair to let him suffer anymore.  We said our goodbyes to our special boy and then he was gone.  They let us stay with him as long as we wanted and then we went home. 

We had Chili Dawg for 8.5 of his 9.5 years, and we had Finchy for 9 of his 10 years.  I would like to think that Chili Dawg met him at the Rainbow Bridge and they are now back together again, the way they were meant to be.

Forever Running- 2009
Best Friends- 2011

December 2012

“Such short little lives our pets have to spend with us, and they spend most of it waiting for us to come home each day. It is amazing how much love and laughter they bring into our lives and even how much closer we become with each other because of them.”
John Grogan, Marley and Me: Life and Love With the World's Worst Dog

Monday, February 4, 2013

My Heart...

"Mom, I thought we were going to work on getting Buster to sleep in my bed every night?" Noah asked last night (Noah desperately wants Buster to sleep in his bed with him at night). 
"We are, buddy, but Buster is sad tonight, so we are just going to leave him alone tonight," I said. 
"Is it because Finchy isn't home?" 
"Yes.  He misses Finchy." 
"I miss Finchy too.  When is he going to come home from the animal hospital?" 
"Ummm.  Finchy is pretty sick.  I am not sure if he is going to come home from the animal hospital." 
"You mean he is going to go to Heaven and be with Jesus and Chili Dawg?" 
"Maybe.  We don't know yet." 
"But I want him to stay!  I LOVE HIM!" 
"Finchy is in a lot of pain, though.  It would be selfish of us to ask him to stay with us when he hurts so badly, don't you think?" 
"Well yeah, but it will hurt us if he has to go away." 
"I know, but sometimes doing the right thing is hard and hurts even though it's the right thing." 
"I feel like my heart is breaking into pieces." 
And then Noah began to sob, and when I say sob, I mean a mournful sob that pierced my heart and broke it into pieces.  He wrapped his arms around my neck and cried and cried, while Ryan and I held him and cried with him. 

Today we find out the results of the last ditch blood test and make our decision about Finchy.  If you have an opportunity, please pray for Noah- he could sure use it.

Sunday, February 3, 2013


We got Finchy when he was just over a year old.  Chili Dawg was lonely and needed a brother.  We checked out various animal shelters looking for the perfect match for him, and then one of my co-workers said, "I know someone who is giving away a Boxer for free.  The family doesn't want him anymore and he has to live outside."  We checked him out, and he seemed like a good fit for Chili Dawg.  We tried to change his name, but Finchy didn't feel like learning a new name.

When you look at Finchy, the first thing you will see is that he is skinny.  No matter what we try to feed that boy, he won't gain weight.  When we first got him, he weighed in at 45 pounds.  Now, at 10 years old, he fluctuates between 52-55 pounds (average weight for a male Boxer is 60-70 pounds) and that's a big weight gain for him!  The next thing you will notice will be his face.  Most people get intimidated by his face, because Boxers look mean.  They have a smushed in face.  That couldn't be further from the truth.  Finchy is a lover, not a fighter, although, when we first had Noah, Finchy did protect him from the "evil vaccuum cleaner" by getting in between the 2 of them.  Boxers are good family dogs, and Finchy loves our kids.  He would protect them if he ever needed too, but he loves them very much.

Chili Dawg and Finchy were inseparable.  If one of them went to the vet, the other would sit by the door until the missing one came home.  Finchy is a worrier, and he would whine and whine while Chili Dawg was gone.  When Chili Dawg crossed the bridge, Finchy waited by the door for several days waiting for Chili to come home.  He even went and looked for him in the garage.  It took a while for him to fully realize that his "brother" was not coming home.  He began to lose weight, and since he was already under weight, this was not a good thing. 

Rescuing Buster was as much for Finchy as it was for me.  Buster brought new life into our house.  Finchy started eating again, playing again, doing his "wiggle dance" again.  It seemed like smooth sailing for a little while.  On Halloween, Finchy turned 10, and he was still going strong.  He could still outrun any dog in our neighborhood- that boy is f-a-s-t.  Then he came down with pancreatitis and he slowed down a little bit.  Over Christmas break, he slowed down some more. 

Yesterday, I took him to the vet's and I didn't come home with him.  He was admitted to the animal hospital, and Ryan and I are unsure if he is even going to come home this time.  Our boy has gotten older, and while he has been a faithful companion to our Chili Dawg and to us, it may be getting close to our turn to set him free from his pain, and I am not looking forward to that.  It's been almost a year and half since we sent Chili Dawg to the bridge, and I remember I said, "I don't know how long Finchy will make it without his brother, especially since they are so close in age". 

So why subject myself to the heartache of losing another dog to yet another cancer?  Here are a couple quotes that explain my reasoning...

 "God has not changed his mind about the animals. He has made provision for them. In truth, they really are his animals and not ours. They belong to the one who created them and gave them life. They are merely on loan to us, and as inconceivable as it may seem, God loves them more than you and I ever could."
-- dog quote by Gary Kurz, Cold Noses at the Pearly Gates

“A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.”
Josh Billings

“Such short little lives our pets have to spend with us, and they spend most of it waiting for us to come home each day.
It is amazing how much love and laughter they bring into our lives and even how much closer we become with each other because of them.”
John Grogan, Marley and Me: Life and Love With the World's Worst Dog
From Last Year's Monkey-Butt Calendar

"It came to me that every time I lose a dog they take a piece of my heart with them. And every new dog who comes into my life gifts me with a piece of their heart. If I live long enough, all the components of my heart will be dog, and I will become as generous and loving as they are."

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Mother/Son Dance...

"Mom, your lazy," said Noah.  Any normal day or week, I would have brushed off the comment, but Friday my response was instead to burst into tears.  Why, you ask.  Well, Ryan flew out of town Sunday afternoon.  Monday morning, Noah woke up having breathing problems.  I took him to the doctor, he had a respiratory virus.  Tuesday morning he woke up having even more difficulty breathing, but it was too late for me to call in, AND to top things off, I was being observed in my classroom by my new boss (Tino, man I miss you).  I called my co-teacher, and explained the issue, and she was quick to say, "Just do a half day, I can teach our afternoon classes." 

Anticipating that I would need to stay home on Wednesday, I wrote subplans.  Smart decision, because Tuesday night, Juli began to run a fever of 103.5 degrees, with a cough that hurt me to listen to her.  I was up with Juli, rocking her and trying to comfort her, until 4 in the morning on Wednesday.  Noah was starting to improve on Wednesday, so I planned on sending him to school on Thursday.  Juli's fever was still going strong at 103.5 degrees Wednesday night, and we spent another night rocking while she moaned and cried pitifully in my arms until 4 in the morning.  I took her to the doctor's on Thursday where our awesome pediatrician tested her for all strains of the flu (she was negative).  He determined that she had a nasty virus, but because of her febrile seizure almost 2 years ago, he was concerned that her fever wasn't going down.  He gave her some medicine in the office and gave us a cough medicine to help her sleep at night.  Thursday night went a little better, although her fever was still 103.  I only got up with her 3 times, BUT the Carbon Monoxide detector went off in between that- awesome, I know. 

So, by Friday night, I was on the ragged edge since I averaged 3.5 hours of sleep a night maximum, or as I told my co-teacher, "I'm on the slippery slope to insanity".  When Noah told me I was lazy, that was something I did not need to hear at that time.  We were preparing to go to the Mother/Son Dance at his school.  When we had signed up 2 weeks earlier to go, I had been excited, but at that moment on Friday, I was tired and would have rather gotten in my pj's and headed to bed.  Instead, I was moving a little too slowly for someone to get my shoes on to go to the dance. 

After seeing how upset he made me, Noah immediately apologized and burst into tears.  I knew he hadn't meant to hurt my feelings, but I had been overwhelmed by the week of being a single parent of 2 sick children and having very little sleep or adult contact.  We did go to the dance, and we had a pretty good time. 

When we got there, we were given 2 green bandanas to wear- when they called our color we could do the obstacle course.  Some of the mom's were complaining about "ruining their hair" by wearing a bandana, and Noah told me I didn't have to wear mine on my head like he was, but I told him I didn't care.  We had some dessert at the dessert table, got our pictures taken together by the photographer (Noah will get those later), and then we made our craft- a drawing that will be turned into a magnet.  Then, I dragged Noah onto the dance floor and made him do the "Cha Cha Slide" with me.  He ran around with some of his friends for a little while and then he came and found me and told me he was ready to go home because he was starting to wheeze.  Ryan took our picture when we got home that night- I look tired, but we did have a good time.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Ever Have A Month Like This...

Well, it's been a while since I have blogged.  Not on purpose or anything, we just can't seem to catch a break.  Christmas break came and went.  Ryan used up the rest of his vacation days for the year, and we had plans to take the kids to the museums downtown, show Noah Sue the Dinosaur, do some fun stuff together as a family.  Things don't always work out how you plan though.  On December 22, we were at my sister's house decorating Christmas cookies (Jaime and my mom had cut out over 150 cookies for all 5 kids to decorate- insane!), and towards the end of the night, Ryan turns to me and says, "my throat hurts".  My throat had started to hurt too, but I had been trying to ignore it, because just a day before I had threatened my classes with, "if one of you gets me sick for Christmas break, I'm going to give you an F on your final exam" (of course I wouldn't really do that, but they thought it was funny anyways).

The next morning, Ryan and I woke up miserable.  On the way home from church, Ryan stopped and picked up a bunch of sinus and cold and flu over the counter stuff for the 2 of us, and then just on a whim, picked up some cough medicine for Noah and Juli.  Things progressed, and as it turned out, I had it the worst, then Ryan, and then the day after Christmas, both kids woke up with it.  We had the respiratory flu at our house, and let me tell you, this flu bug is tough to shake.  The four of us were sick for basically the entire 2 weeks we were off, with me still being sick when it was time for us to head back to school.

I finally felt better about mid-week that first week back at school.  Ryan was, of course, out of town for the entire week.  That should have tipped me off on how the week was going to go.  On Wednesday, Juli woke up with a fever and said she wasn't feeling good (she never says that- ever).  It was way too late for me to call in sick, so I gave her Tylenol and sent her to day care (worst mother ever, I know).  I did check on her and she was running around and playing like a crazy lady.  I thought we had gotten through the "worst".  I was wrong.  On Thursday, right before we had to pick up Noah from school, Juli threw up all over herself and the floor.  I cleaned her up fast and then we booked it to make it to Noah in time.  I was hoping it was just a fluke.  After we got home, Juli proceeded to vomit every 45 minutes, and most of the time we were able to make sure she hit the garbage can, but I still was doing a lot of laundry.  I called in sick and after both kids went to bed I wrote my sub plans.  Just as I got into bed, Juli started to cry and call for me.  She had thrown up in her bed.  From that point on, until 3:30 AM, she threw up every 30 minutes.  About 50% of the time she gave me fair warning, so I could make sure I got the bucket, but we went through a lot of towels (I laid those over her pillow and sheets so I didn't have to change them every time), and I moved her to my room since we still have a toddler mattress and she could sleep on the floor next to my side of the bed.  I don't even know where the vomit was coming from, because I cut her off of food and liquids at 5 PM.  After 3:30, she let us sleep until 6 AM and then the vomiting began again.  Our washing machine got a workout.  I can't wait to see the water bill.  Around 11 AM, Noah said his head hurt, and then he threw up.  So, I called him in sick as well.  Fortunately, Noah only threw up twice and then just had the dry heaves with his sister for the rest of the day.  Ryan arrived home late that night- isn't that how it always works?

Last week, Ryan was home for the entire week, and things went fairly smoothly- minus the stomach flu hitting me at school (that was magical).  I got caught up on the sleep that I had been deprived of from when Juli was sick, and the kids were healthy again.

Today, we are off because of MLK day.  Because we didn't really get to do anything "fun" over Christmas break, I was going to take the kids to the Jump Zone in the morning for some fun in the bouncy houses.  Normally, Ryan also has this day off, but of course, he flew out yesterday afternoon for a trip.  This morning, Noah came and woke me up because his "chest hurt".  He was wheezing and had a bad cough.  Ironically, he was fine yesterday and today he is sick as a dog.  So, we spent the morning in the pediatrician's office while Noah did a breathing treatment and we got some medicine & some other meds so I can do breathing treatments with him at home for the next few days so he doesn't get bronchitis or pneumonia. 

I think it's my turn to go out of town.  What do you think?  Ever have a month like this?