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Friday, August 28, 2009

In my mind's eye

Well, we all officially survived the first full week of school. Aaron has decided that he doesn’t like 8th grade so much. I have a feeling it got off to a bad start when he missed suiting out for the first day of football practice because I forgot to get his paperwork notarized. Then, his allergies kicked in on the first day of school as well. I teased that maybe he really is allergic to school! Alisa is still hanging in there although her work load is quite a bit heavier than it has been in the past. I think she is afraid to complain much since she wanted so desperately to go to a new school. I have decided that I think this is going to be a great semester, partly because maternal child health is an area of interest to me and partly because my instructor is a woman after my own heart—no nonsense. I haven’t been able to get in the groove of things which sucks for me because it’s not like we have a lot of time for putzing around.
My “fairy book” rendition of the way things in a perfect world would go has been blown to smithereens this week. I envisioned myself maximizing the use of my time on campus and spending time in the library after class to study uninterrupted. After clinicals on Tuesday when we were dismissed early to get cracking on online assignments I should have headed straight to the library for the remaining two hours my family thought I would be in class anyway, but no, I stopped by the store and headed home and fixed them dinner and stayed up late with children doing their homework. Thursday, I awoke thinking, “This will be a super-productive day!” I’ll drop kids off at school. Mike will be gone to work. I can get a lot done. Only I was so exhausted that around 11 a.m. I just had to lie down for a nap and didn’t get up until almost 2 o’clock in the afternoon. By then, it was almost time to pick up Alisa and get on with the evening duties, like dinner, dishes & kids’ homework. I still deem my family to be my first priority, crazy as it may sound.
In my mind’s eye, this is the way my days would go:
Monday: Get kids to school, wash up breakfast dishes, pack a lunch and then get to school myself by 9:45. (On the course description, class is to begin at 10:10, but Mrs. Blue calls roll at 10:00 and is already into her lecture by 10:10). After class ends at 12:00, I eat my lunch and head to the library or computer lab to study and review lecture notes. By 2:15 I am headed home to be there in time to pick up Alisa from school at 3:15 (and maybe catch a 30 minute nap if I’m lucky). Alisa has from 4 to 5:30 to work on homework and ask for assistance. Football practice is over for Aaron at 5:30, so I pick him up and prepare dinner while he showers and takes a “break” before eating dinner and hitting his books. Dinner (which is preplanned on a monthly calendar and for which groceries were purchased over the weekend--I said in my mind's eye!) is served between 6:30 and 7:00, so we’re all done by 7:30 at the latest. I then help Aaron with his homework (if needed) between 7:30 and 9:00. At 9:00 I read a chapter to Alisa form her current library selection. By 9:30 Aaron’s headed to bed. I could theoretically be in bed by 10 or 10:30 p.m., which would be especially helpful since I have to be up by 5:15 on Tuesday for a 6:20 a.m. start at the hospital.
Tuesday: I would be up at 5:15 to shower, dress in uniform, eat breakfast & pack a lunch and snacks for the hospital with an estimated departure time of 6 a.m. Mrs. Blue does not do “late.” After my 9 hours at the hospital (Mrs. Blue says she dismisses a bit early so we have ample time to do online assignments), I’d head to the library to take advantage of an hour or so of uninterrupted study time before heading home to see a hubby and kids who have made dinner, eaten, saved me a plate, and washed up the dishes. I could then field any homework questions, read to my bunny and get to bed by 10 or 10:30 p.m. (or earlier if possible-that 5 a.m. wake-up and no chance of a nap is a beast!)
Wednesday would most likely be similar to Monday. Only I could use a couple hours in the evening to study, read or review online exercises since I do not have class on Thursday morning. I could have 10:00-11:30 p.m. to study myself before turning in.
Unfortunately, my week went nothing like any of the above. Aaron & Alisa were both up well past 10 o’clock themselves a couple of nights which pushed my “study time” past 11:30 one night. I was so exhausted I didn’t get much done. Wednesday I had to hurry home to meet Mr. Ray, the pool repair man who was to arrive "in the afternoon" (i.e., no specific time given). I already recounted the events of Thursday, and this morning after dropping kids off at school I had to head to the dealership to get my inspection sticker renewed (I did get in a good hour’s worth of reading there). I just did have time to get home, grab a bite to eat for lunch and head back out to pick up Alisa (her new school dismisses is early on Fridays). I baked cupcakes for Aaron’s Fine Arts picnic this evening. I did manage to get about an hour and a half nap. I cannot understand the exhaustion I feel. I can’t help but wonder if it’s hormonal or something because I feel tired all of the time. Wednesday, I took 2 naps! If I do manage to get in bed at a “reasonable hour” (i.e., before the crack of dawn or midnight-ish), I find Mike laying in wait and thinking it’s all for him, so my actual “get to go to sleep” time is just as late as any other night.
I must be the world’s worse time manager because there never seem to be enough hours in a day to finish what I need to do. You notice there’s no mention of laundry or other housework outside of cooking and washing dishes referenced above! I feel like I’m in constant motion (which is the name of my future autobiography, by the way: In Constant Motion: a Story of the life of Eastlyn White) but never productive enough to feel a sense of accomplishment. Just once I would like to be like one of my classmates who manages to go to bed by 10 o’clock (or earlier) every night and still gets all assignments done on time, stays caught up with the reading and assignments and shows up to class refreshed and ready to learn. I feel like a newborn who has her days and nights mixed up. If I could get to bed at a reasonable hour maybe, just maybe I could function without the daily naps. But how do I turn it all around when I have to be up until the crack of dawn helping young people with their studies? Please pray for a more balanced schedule as the semester goes on. I need all the help and prayers I can get. Good night. Until next time…

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

1st day of clinicals

Well, I'm waiting for the Ray the pool service guy to come and reattach the leads to our non-chlorine system on the swimming pool. I tripped over them at the end of last summer (right after we'd had them replaced) and figured we'd just do without the system and go back to chlorine. As it turns out the chlorine-free coppper/ion system keeps costs down considerably and it's like swimming in bottled water as opposed to dry, itchy chlorine skin. Missy is going ballistic. Ray must be in the backyard...I'll be right back.
Turns out Ray has been in the backyard long enough to finish the work and didn't even charge me. What a blessing! And, I can get the pool back right and maybe even enjoy a few more swims before the weather cools off. This, folks, is why you keep the faith.
At any rate, it's about naptime right quick before I have to pick up kids, run errands, fix dinner, study, read, help with homework, etc. I just wanted to tell you about my first clinical day.
We didn't have to arrive at the hospital until 7:45 a.m. (unlike 6:20 a.m. beginning next week) for orientation yesterday. I didn't leave home until almost 7:30, but managed to catch the same shuttle from the parking lot to the hospital as my instructor. She has made it abundantly clear that she is not one to tolerate "late." Hospital staff went over some basic information, then we marched upstairs to get our ID badges and back down again to take our dosage calculation exam (yes, on the first day of clinicals!-good to have it over with). We took about an hour break for lunch and then toured the hospital. Mrs. Blue informed us that she would deliver us to our assigned spots next Tuesday and after that we'd be on our own to get where we belonged. In my opinion, finding one's way around the hospital is one of the hardest tasks of nursing school! Most people have heard of "code red" meaning fire or "code blue" meaning someone has stopped breathing. I think MCA will have to implement a code turquois (TCC uniform color) meaning lost TCC students are wandering aimlessly about the hospital. Oh well, I guess we'll figure it out over the next couple of weeks. Because we only have 6 actual clinical days we don't get to spend a great amount of time in any one area. We will have just one or two days in antepartum, labor & delivery, postpartum, neonatal intensive care unit, newborn nursery, OR and/or triage. At first I was a little bummed because I would have liked more time in this area, but given the choice of one or two days only and extending school an entire extra semester, I'll gladly take the one or two days! At least I get 2 days in L&D. Mrs. Blue dismissed us after we got "checked off" on administering an intramuscular injection on an infant mannekin (piece of cake-we'll see how it goes next week on real newborns). She wasn't just being nice, either. She gave us about 8 different assignments to work on along with online study assignments. She meant for us to go home and get right on the computer for at least two hours. I was on the computer all right--chasing my tail around in circles trying to figure out what in the world the online assignments were. I finally resorted to reading a bit and crashed around 12:45 a.m.
Between the hospital and home I stopped by Costco for a few staples we were out of. I couldn't find my Krusteaz pancake & waffle mix : ( so I went with Bisquick instead. I headed home, got on the computer for a bit, wanted (needed) a nap, but I figured I'd better a dinner plan together. Alisa requested Popeyes (2-piece for 99 cents on Tuesday), and who was I to argue? I stopped by Fiesta for fresh fruit & vegetables then grabbed the chicken and made it back home.
I called Aaron en route and asked him to put on the water for the mashed potatoes since I was close. I came home to water, milk and butter in a saucepan on the stove and Alisa was measuring the instant mashed potatoes. There I said it! Yes, I use instant mashed potatoes sometimes. As much as I would have liked to praise her for her efforts, the first thing out of my mouth was "why did you add the milk?" I tried to explain that the reason I rarely allow her in the kitchen is she doesn't follow directions. It was just a big mess. I ended up throwing out the milk, water & margarine and starting over-what a waste! We all survived, then A & A both had unfinished homework with which they needed help. So, I finally got around to mine just after 10 o'clock. Never did get that nap...that's why I'm headed that way now. I have approximately 50 minutes before I have to leave to get Alisa. More later...maybe.
p.s. I made 100% on the math exam! It was pretty tough. Usually I'm done with plenty of time to spare. This time around I barely finished checking my work before she was calling for the papers.

Monday, August 24, 2009

A short bit...yeah, right

Hello, all! This will seriously be a short bit just because it's 10:20 p.m. and I have an early start tomorrow as I tour the hospital, take a math test and practice giving an injection to a newborn (yikes!) mannekin before the real deal gets underway next week. Today was my first day back, and I'm strapping on my elbow pads, knee pads and helmet because it's going to be some roller coaster ride for the next several weeks. I'm excited because it's all about labor and delivery which many of you know is my passion, but I'm also apprehensive because there's so much to learn and I'll have two patients (mother and baby) instead of just one. [insert nailbiting emoticon with sweat popping off of it's forehead here]
It looks like I last blogged on Thursday of last week. Let me back up and bring you up to date as quickly as I can in the next five minutes: I finally registered for class and signed up for the payment plan to pay my tuition (nothing like putting that off until the final hour, huh? In my defense, no money is no money). Barrett hung out with Aaron & me on Friday. He had one of those rare two-weekend-days-off. He brought me a filter for the internet so my internet connection wouldn't be compromised whenever the telephone rings, but the cable wasn't long enough. Good try, B. Thanks, anyway. I'll have to contact AT&T about getting a phone jack installed in my office. I picked up Alisa at her designated dismissal time (3:15) , then Sasha came over while her parents (brother Shawn & his wife Renee) went to the Cowboy's game at the new stadium. She ended up spending the night with us.
Saturday morning, we got up had waffles for breakfast. This was Sasha's request because she told me we always have pancakes, pancakes, pancakes! I did a ton of laundry in preparation for everyone being caught up and ready for school/work on Monday. That evening, the kids and I ran out to do some last minute school supplies and shoe shopping. We ended up ordering pizza from PaPa John's (buy one, get one free offer online!). Mike was working late; yet and still we had barely finished eating our pizza when he made it home.
Sunday, my main agenda included attending early mass, stopping by the grocery store, baking cookies for Fran's belated birthday, taking a nap, delivering the cookies, fixing a nice soul food dinner (with peach cobbler for dessert, of course) to be served by 6:30 p.m., wash dishes, blog a bit, and get in bed at a reasonable time. Lo and behold, I just happened to look online for my class schedule and there was an assignment (to have been submitted via campus cruiser yesterday!) not to mention a ton of "notes" to download. My day was shot. I didn't end up leaving for the grocery story until 6:45 p.m. The kitchen was still a wreck. Dinner wasn't served until 9:00 p.m. (without peach cobbler, I might add), and I didn't go to bed until around 12:30 a.m.
I have 5 chapters to read before Wednesday (2 of which should have been read for today) plus more math to review for the exam tomorrow-this is a dosage calculation exam we take in the beginning of each semester. We have two chances to pass with 90% or better or we won't be allowed to attend clinicals this semster. For obvious patient safety reasons medication errors simply cannot be tolerated.
I think I set a record. This blog only took 25 minutes to compose. Now it's off to study *yawn.* Wish me luck tomorrow! Good night. Until next time...

Thursday, August 20, 2009

comedy of errors

Today is the last Thursday of my summer break, so I'm trying desperately to learn to keep my blogs short and sweet (yeah, right, after yesterday's post, huh?) so I can continue to blog and not feel guilty about it.
Alisa survived day #2 at her new school, and pick up went a lot more smoothly. I still need to go online and check out their volunteer opportunities so I can do my part, limited though it may be.
Tia had a lunch date with some of her lady friends from Cursillo (semiannual Catholic retreat movement) so she asked me to watch Xavier and Leyla for a couple of hours this afternoon. I don't get to see them much, and it will be even less once school is back in full swing so I agreed. She dropped them off around 11 o'clock.
Prior to that I couldn't decide whether to tidy up the kitchen and be ready to help Xavier bake a cake for his Mom & Dad's anniversary or take a nap (I had been up quite late posting yesterday's blog and I was tired). The nap prevailed. I fell asleep listening to the Chaplet of Divine Mercy (a chanted or sung version of the Holy Rosary). I awoke and headed straight for the kitchen to get ready to bake. I also had to make cupcakes for the teachers' back to school luncheon at Gunn tomorrow. I opened the oven door and noticed the floor of the oven was a little nasty. I think I mentioned a burning oil smell when my turkey was roasting the night before last. If not, the smell permeated the house, and I think I asked my sis-in-law for suggestions for getting rid of the smell. Anyway, I went to wipe the bottom of the oven and it was saturated with oil. I mean it looked like someone had just opened a bottle of olive oil and poured it in my oven! My first thought was some variation of the word "dam," followed by the realization that my entire family could have been deep brown and crispy like the turkey turned out had all of that grease caught afire in the middle of the night. the aluminum roasting pan obviously must have had a slow leak (there were still a lot of drippings in the pan with the turkey). Thank goodness the temp was on a moderate 325 degrees and not any higher! When Xavier arrived I explained that I had a huge mess to clean up before we could begin baking, and that I could use his and Aaron's help to keep an eye on Miss Leyla while I went to work.
Once the mess was no more than a bad memory, I baked the cakes for Xavier, then baked my cupcakes. (I could still smell the burning oil smell a little-maybe I'll set a measuring cup of vinegar in the oven overnight.) It was going on 2 o'clock and not looking as if I would have time to decorate the cake before Tia returned to collect the kids. I hadn't even made the buttercream frosting. We came up with a plan: If I wasn't done with the cake by the time X's dad picked him up from Tia's house, I would bring the cake to their house while Xavier and his family were at his school to meet his new 5th grade teacher. It would be more of a surprise that way. Xavier had planned out a menu which included Ramen noodles and salad as appetizers, cheese sandwiches, steak, fruit salad and quesadillas for the main entrees. Bless his heart; he wanted so badly to surprise his parents on their anniversary.
Here's the plan we came up with: Tia made chicken spaghetti for the Flowers. I baked and decorated the cake for their anniversary. Xavier was supposed to make the salad. I had to let Derrick in on the secret a little bit so he would leave the screen door unlocked for me. All I told him was there was a delivery scheduled for their house while they were at the school. Sneak a peak started at 6 p.m. & Shannon was supposed to leave work, pick up her family & head to Xavier's school. Tia & I would sneak in the house, leave the food and anniversary gift and be gone by the time they returned home.
Here's how the plan finally went down: Tia & I pulled onto Shannon & Derrick's street at 6 p.m. thinking they should already be at the school. I called D's cell phone just to touch base, and he was still at home waiting for Shannon to show up. Okay, slight change of plans. I told Derrick to hide in his bedroom and have Xavier open the door. We could still drop off the stuff and be gone by the time Shannon arrived. Xavier opened the door with the telephone to his ear; and to whom do you suppose he was speaking? His mother, of course! I stick Tia's dish in the oven and rearrange a few things in the fridge to accommodate the cake plate, gather up the boxes and bags and head back for the front door thinking, "That wasn't too bad!" I turn the bend from the kitchen to the foyer and what to my surprise do my eyes behold?! Alisa talking to Aunt Shannon on the telephone! She ended the call as Aaron, Tia & I stared daggers through her. What was she thinking?! How exactly did she explain her presence at Aunt Shannon's house? We skedaddled out of the house, into the van and down the street. It turned out that Xavier kind of spilled the beans when Shannon told him it sounded like Alisa in the background and he somehow got the impression that he should pass the phone to Alisa (tell-tale heart :-).
Xavier called me later this evening to tell me everything went off nicely. Shannon and Derrick were grateful for the food because they were tired and hadn't really made plans for the evening. Again, I say to you, all's well that ends well.
We stopped by Lorenzo & Lani's house for a quick visit then headed home to "barbecue turkey sandwiches" and fruit for dinner.
My neck has been bothering me most of the day. I don't recall whether it was hurting when I awoke this morning or if started after my nap. Obviously, this can be attributed to "sleeping wrong." At any rate, the kids took turns trying to "adjust" my neck by pulling on my head and trying to massage my neck. I'll have to put Mike on the task before he drifts off which will probably be any minute now if he's not already knocked out after working a double shift today. Good night. Until next time...

p.s. I need to work on timing a little more. This blog took the better part of an hour even if I subtract the time spent chatting with Mike and tucking in Aaron. Of course, once classes resume next week, I won't have nearly as many adventures to blog about. I'll just come up with a template like we used to give the parents at Advent PDO: Today your child was:____. This is what we did today: _______. S/He ate ( ) all ( ) some ( ) none of his/her lunch. S/He slept/rested from ___ to ___. etc. Only mine will look like this:
Today class was: ( ) boring ( ) exciting ( ) somewhere in between
I learned about ____________________. My next exam is ___________________.
I did/did not attend study group.
Here's what I did today:_____________.
And so on and so forth! Oops! I just added about 10 minutes to my blog time. Gotta go...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

They are precious in His sight

I just logged off of Lisa's blog ( She has posted pictures of her precious baby boy who was delivered into God's hands last night. Please continue to pray for the Banks family as they adjust to life without their little one.

In a world where we can find so much to complain about...long lines at the grocery store, the price of everything, dirty clothes on the floor, etc., it only takes a moment like this to realize the beauty of a life we are fortunate to have in the first place. My heart is absolutely breaking for the loss of two "babies" in one week's time. Little Hailey Mayz unexpectedly left this world to be with God last Tuesday, and now Patrick Steven Banks has been called home as well. Praise be to God.

Gosh! I didn't realize it has been over a week since my last update ("Free tacos" was actually from last Tuesday 8/11/09 although I posted it Friday the 14th). So, I guess I had not shared with you the news of Hailey's death before now. This is the granddaughter of a friend of my aunt. When Hailey was born three short years ago, she was premature and had medical complications which kept her in and out of hospitals. Her mom had just posted a blog celebrating Hailey's life and health last month after Hailey's 3rd birthday. On Wednesday morning (8/12/09) I received the news from my aunt that Hailey's mom put her down for a nap Tuesday afternoon, and she never woke up. The fact that Hailey had just been to the doctor for a check up prior to a family trip and received a clean bill of health confounded everyone all the more. I continue to pray for her family and ask that you do the same.

We've been busy getting ready for a new school year. Friday was dedicated to shopping for school supplies on a shoestring budget. We found some great deals between Wal-Mart superstore and Office Depot. Saturday morning Alisa had her "meet the teacher" back-to-school picnic at Randol Mill Aquatic Center. The kids were upset that they were not allowed to ride in the Volkswagen test drive fundraiser where the school receives $5.00 for every adult who test drove their Toureg (minivan) or the convertible. We rushed home from that to change clothes, grab lunch, and deliver kids to PaPa & Tia's house. Barrett and I headed to Our Mother of Mercy for a meeting of C.C.E. teachers with the director of religious education. Afterwards, B hung out with us for most of the afternoon. I received a phone call from Mom asking if I'd ever heard of "salivary gland stones." For some reason they sounded familiar--I didn't know much about them, but I had heard of them before. It turns out my brother had been to the ER the night before, and that was his diagnosis. I stayed up researching the condition and forwarded my findings to both Lani (sister-in-law) and Mom.

We attended 10 o'clock mass Sunday morning, and received a surprise when Fr. LeDoux had a concelebrant: Fr. Louis, a new priest from the Friary next door. I got a little choked up thinking of Hailey's family, but I managed to pray for them and my nephew, Trey, who celebrated his 23rd birthday on Saturday, and my brother. I could not pray aloud for Lisa Banks and family but I did so silently with a huge lump in my throat. Jesus really does love the little children. I can only imagine the strength, courage and faith one must have to be prepared to say goodbye before you have the chance to say hello.

Barrett joined us for lunch (of tortilla pizzas made to order, I might add) after church and even updated his blog (at long last)! He headed home for dinner, and I fixed steak fingers, mashed potatoes with cream gravy and green beans for me and the kids. Mike was working late, and would probably grab something at the airport.

Monday, Alisa had another "meet the teacher/open house" at her new school from 9-10:30 a.m. We all got up, had breakfast and headed out. Her new teacher, Mrs. Ford, formerly taught 3rd grade, but has moved up to teach 6th grade this year. Alisa will rotate to 2 other six-grade teachers throughout the day in addition to a variety of other classes for art, P.E., Spanish, etc. I dropped Alisa off at PaPa & Tia's to "babysit" Leyla and hang out with Xavier. Unfortunately, Leyla slept most of the time Alisa was there. I picked her up just before 5 p.m. to take her to try on more uniforms at a second hand shop I learned sold Parker brand uniforms. We found 2 pieces that fit-a khaki skort and navy shorts, but they weren't the exact style as was listed on the school's list. I may go back and purchase them, ask about the style at the school office and return them if they do not qualify as "official" uniforms. The prices were pretty steep in my opinion for a resale shop, but I had to admit that they were between 35 & 40% less than the brand new cost. That evening I returned to the school for "curriculum night." There were probably only about 10 parents present for this meeting. I guess by 6th grade a lot of the parents knew the drill and also knew they'd get the same information sent home on the first day of school. I had left a pot of spaghetti sauce simmering on the stove and put on a pot of spaghetti noodles to cook before I left. When I returned home Mike & the kids had already eaten and were washing dishes. What a welcome sight!
Tuesday morning Alisa & I headed out after breakfast to get our hair done-hers relaxed and mine cut off. Thank you to Tia and Aunt Shannon who scraped together enough money to cover Alisa's hair. Thanks to Alisa who loaned me her birthday money to get my hair cut. PayDay Loans don't have anything on family! Mike and Aaron had headed out to cut the grass at Jessie's house and then left a message that they had gone to Dallas to pick up Mike's dad so he could tour the new Dallas Cowboys' stadium. When Alisa & I had been in the house just long enough for Alisa to warm leftover steak fingers & mashed potatoes with gravy the doorbell rang. It was Aaron. Mike & his dad were in the car wanting to know if we wanted to join them for lunch. We all loaded up and headed to...Pappadeaux's around 1:30. (Mike's dad was treating.) They have changed their lunch menu a bit, but it was all good. Aaron & I ordered po-boy sandwiches which were so big we could barely finish half! Mike & his dad ordered the seafood sampler or something like that: fried catfish, shrimp & crawfish with a ton of fries--YUM! At first Alisa said she didn't want anything, but then decided she wanted fried crawfish (which turned out to be more expensive than Aaron's & my po-boys). Of course, Mike just had to have dessert, so he and Alisa split the praline cheesecake. I had to help Alisa finish hers because she was just miserable even though she hadn't eaten much crawfish. Can you say "sinfully scrumptious"? In retrospect I think Alisa could well have eaten the crawfish off of Mike's platter and a few French fries off of my plate and been happy-especially since Mike did the whole insisting on having dessert thing. That would have saved Mike's dad about $12.00, too. Oh well, I didn't fuss or argue about it.

Anyway, Mike drove his dad home to Dallas & Alisa & I fell out (a case of the "itis"). Aaron was chillin' out watching TV. Later we had to run to Walmart for a backpack, socks and a couple other school supplies (thank goodness I found $20 of Alisa's Christmas money stashed away). We spent $20.21. We made one last stop by Target before returning home for the night. By then it was after 8:00. Alisa was in bed just after 9:00, but she kept getting up. I don't know what time she finally went to sleep. I stayed up to make tuna salad for Alisa's lunch and roast a turkey (just to have something for us to eat for the next few days). I fell in the bed just after midnight, but set my alarm to get up at 1:00 & check on the turkey neck that was cooking on the stove for Missy. I asked Mike to wake me before he went to work so I could check on the turkey itself. He apparently thought this meant to wake me when he woke up and talk to me for 30 minutes while he got dressed. This is how my day began this morning.

The turkey looked and smelled fine. I went back to bed and awoke around 5 a.m. to remove the turkey from the oven. It was all golden brown and crispy--I had slathered real butter on the skin and sprinkled it generously with salt and pepper. I stuffed coarsely chopped onion, green pepper and celery into the cavity. Unfortunately, it looked better than it tasted. I sampled a bit when I sliced some for a sandwich for Aaron's lunch. Once it had cooled I took all of the meat off of the carcass and refrigerated it.
Let me back up just a moment. Today was Alisa's first day of school! She looked absolutely adorable in her uniform (plaid jumper & white blouse with peter pan collar) with her hair all straight and shiny. I'm sure she'd prefer another adjective, but precious probably wouldn't satisfy her any more than adorable. Tia stopped by to take a couple pictures & I took a couple as well. Alisa was very nervous about her first day at a new school, but I assured here that she would not be the only one. She was #13 on the waiting list, so chances are there are several other students who are new to the school as well. After dropping Alisa off (I did park and go in just because today was the first day and she had all of her school supplies in addition to her backpack, lunch & snack), I returned home and spent most of the morning checking e-mails, on the phone, paying bills, etc. Around noon I was already anxious to pick Alisa up and find out how her day had gone. Around 2:15 Aaron and I set out to run a few errands before picking up Alisa at 3:15. I had made a colorful sign to stick on my dashboard announcing that I was there for "Alisa White, 6th grade/Ford," but I left it on the kitchen island, so I made another with a piece of paper and orange marker I found in my car while we waited. We sat unmoving from 2:55 until about 3:10. I wasn't sure if I was in the proper lane when cars in the one to my right started moving. As Murphy's Law would have it, the moment I found someone to let me ease into the right lane, it stopped and the left lane I had just jumped out of began moving. C'est la vie, no? It was about 3:25 when we finally pulled off of the school lot. We ran a couple more errands, including picking up Aaron's friend, Shawn, to come hang out for a while.
Alisa came in, ate her leftover crawfish from Pappadeaux and got right onto her homework. I was impressed. She didn't ask for help or complain about doing it...just got right to it! I definitely hope this is a new leaf she has turned over.
I logged onto my computer just to check for new e-mails (I was awaiting a couple of replies from my sister-in-law), and that is when I discovered Lisa's update to her blog which she (or more likely someone else) had apparently only just posted. My heart sank. I just looked at the precious photos and cried. All of us who had been following her blog knew that what was to come was only a matter of time, but Baby Patrick Steven took us by surprise and surrendered in his own time. I guess he figured there was no use waiting around until 9-9-09 to get to heaven. I posted a few words of encouragement to the Banks family on the blog and returned to the kitchen to get back to the business of living which is what we must do.
I decided on Stove Top Stuffing and greens to go with the turkey. I made gravy from the drippings and cranberry sauce with frozen whole cranberries (it was a little on the tart side...guess I didn't add enough sugar)! I called Jamie to ask about the greens and she was cooking some, too. We stayed on the phone chatting and cooking for the better part of an hour. Aaron's friend stayed for dinner, which we didn't eat until just after 8:00. I dropped him off at his home a little after nine. Meanwhile Alisa hopped in the tub so she'd be ready for me to read to her upon my return. It was past nine-thirty when I began reading so I didn't read for long. She and Aaron have been asleep for a couple of hours now. Know that I gave them both extra hugs and kisses at bedtime tonight. I'm glad that although they're no longer "little children" they still allow me (even expect me) to love on them at bedtime. How I love those two kids of mine, and I thank God for them. If you never believed it before, I hope you realize that life is a gift!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Free tacos

Needless to say, Aaron was not a happy camper about having to get up and go to band camp from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. today. He actually lucked out because he was supposed to be there yesterday as well, but I forgot, and he was off shopping when I remembered. I got up and fixed blueberry muffins from scratch and put some bacon in the microwave. I dropped him off around 8:40 and felt kind of bad for him; not enough to not make him go, though. He has chosen not to practice that trombone all summer long, so now is his time to get back in the swing of things. I spoke to Mike's brother Jeff who says the part for my a/c is still en route to the dealership, so I'll probably have to drop Mike off to pick up my van sometime after lunch. Meanwhile, there are dishes to do and papers to go through and school supply lists to consolidate and a checkbook to balance and a library book to finish because it is due today and I cannot renew it again, etc...
Around 4:45 Mike (who had just returned with my van) & I left home to pick up Aaron from camp and Alisa from Tia's (Alisa had been summoned to Tia's around 3 p.m. to "babysit" Sasha who was whining that she needed someone to play Barbies with her).
Earlier in the day, Barrett had left multiple messages telling me to check my e-mail for a coupon Lani had forwarded for two free tacos at Jack-in-the-Box. That sounded like an excellent idea for our "Tex Mex Tuesday" dinner theme, so I formulated a plan in my head: I'd pick up the kids after band camp, get the free tacos**, come home and eat, visit Jessie, stop by library on way to Shannon's, drop off kids at Shannon's (I was working the band table at registration on Wednesday morning) & head home for the night. Well, we got a later start than I had intended. It was 6:30 before we left home. Then, it took about 15 minutes to get to Jessie's new place. The house was nice, but Jessie just sat there not really engaging in much conversation. I mean, she would respond if we said something to her, but it was really just kind of quiet and uncomfortable for the kids. Mike even admitted that it is unsettling to see his mother struggling to remember who we are and where she is. He asked her if she wanted to show me her new room, and she said she didn't live there. We just left that alone. I think one of the most difficult things about Alzheimer's disease is that the person still looks like the same person, but it is oh so obvious that they are different on the inside. There is a certain "blankness" or lack of expression about their countenance that is so difficult to comprehend when you're accustomed to seeing them smiling, laughing, and joking around. After about 30-40 minutes we went on to Shannon's. Yet and still, all was going according to plan until Mike suggested we try an alternate route leaving Jessie's to get to Shannon's house. I didn't even think about the time being close to 7:30 and the library closing at 8:00. Furthermore, I do not pretend to know a thing about directions. I have to stop and think long and hard about which way I'm heading and which way I'll be going if I turn left or right. I'm definitely one of the females that comedians love to blast about giving directions by landmarks vs N-S-E-W directions. At any rate, I was totally at Mike's mercy to get me from point A to point B and the library was forgotten. If we had just dropped the kids off (which was my intention), we might still have made it to the library before closing time, but Mike had to go in to use the restroom. I'm lingering by the doorway, not really wanting to venture all the way in. The next thing I know I see the back of Mike's peanut shaped head sticking up over the back of the couch! What was he doing making himself comfortable?! I thought this was a drop off and go deal! Obviously, I was mistaken. Derrick was watching a fight, and Mike wanted to know if the Cowboys' first pre-season game was on tonight. Shannon brought up the pictures of their trek to the Cowboys' stadium on her laptop. Let the slide shows begin...It was 8:33 when Mike & I crawled in the car and I spotted the library book bin full of now overdue books on the back seat. I was hot with Mike, but he took the attitude that I was the one looking at photos and holding up the show. I figure one day I'll use The Blame Game for the title of my blog and explore that a little further! Good night for now. Until next time...
**oh yeah, about those free tacos: we got what we paid for with that deal! I'd never had Jack-in-the-Box tacos before and don't know if I'll ever have them again if the ones we got tonight are the norm. We couldn't tell if they made lots of them in anticipation of people coming in with coupons or if that's just how tacos are coming from a burger joint. Ours were not very good--I might have been upset, except they were free!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Teenager in the house

Happy Birthday, Aaron! I crawled out of bed while everyone else was still sleeping soundly to start clearing dishes and getting yummy stuff chopped up for Aaron's omelette which he had requested for his birthday breakfast. No matter how tight money is, food seems to take a certain level of priority in our household. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not. I'm probably sending some wrong message that food is love and my kids will one day hate me for it as they struggle with weight issues as adults. I hope they just remember that I love them (period). And that food is good (period). And that they shouldn't get it twisted! I grated colby-jack cheese and chopped mushrooms, jalapeno peppers, onion, tomato and a few slices of leftover bacon. I even cut up red potatoes and onions to cook "on the side" with a touch or salt, pepper and thyme. That was the difficult part. The omelette part was simple: you just have to keep the heat low and not be in a hurry for it to cook. I made-to-order individual omelettes, so everyone was happy. Alisa even had toast instead of the potatoes.
After breakfast, Mike took off for the dealership with my van to see about getting the a/c repaired--Thank goodness he's off on Mondays! Tia picked up Aaron to take him birthday clothes shopping and dropped Sasha with me and Alisa. Alisa was a real trooper and made every effort to keep Miss P-pasha entertained while I washed dishes & laundry and tried to make heads & tails of my office. It hasn't quite recovered from the "get worse before it gets better" phase much to my chagrin. This goes back to my "everything takes time" blog, but it's getting a little frustrating.
Aaron returned from his shopping spree with a pair of jeans and two polo style shirts that looked big enough for the both of us to fit into. He also had new "ear buds" for his MP3 player, thanks to Tia. Sasha wasn't ready to go home with Tia who was now rushing back to her house to exchange Aaron for Leyla. Derrick was taking the boys to see G.I. Joe. Alisa wanted desperately to go with Tia to "babysit" Leyla. As smart as Sasha is, she realized she wouldn't stand a chance of keeping Alisa's attention with Leyla on the scene, so Alisa and Sasha ended up staying here at our home when Tia and Aaron left. We ran to the store for a few items; then, I resumed my cleaning and baked Aaron's birthday cake -chocolate cake with vanilla whipped cream frosting (as if we didn't have cake leftover along with a sampling of the other desserts from the night before in the fridge!)
Just as I was taking the cakes from the oven, Derrick & the boys and Renee showed up at the same time. They helped eat some of the leftover birthday cake, which I greatly appreciated seeing as how we would have another whole cake to tackle later that evening, then everyone left (except those of us who live here, that is).
Eventually, Mike made his way back home from the dealership and dozed in his blue chair while the kids went for a dip in the pool. They didn't seem to be having much fun and didn't stay out there long, but it was long enough for me to defrost hamburger meat and make homemade hamburgers on the George Foreman with tater tots for dinner. I felt bad that Aaron's birthday wasn't what he'd hoped for, but hopefully we can do something with his friends before school starts in two weeks.
We stayed up way too late! After burgers & tots at 9 p.m. I made Aaron's "cool whip" frosting, but the kitchen was so hot I didn't dare try to frost the cake. I put the frosting in the fridge and the cake in the freezer so it’d be good and cold when I frosted it. I washed up a few dishes (never can manage to get them all done) and the kids & I played monopoly. Aaron won by the skin of his teeth. Alisa had taken a Benadryl earlier because she had taken a bite of the Almond-something granola bar then read that it contained peanut flour. She was almost asleep sitting at the table. By the time we sang Happy Birthday to Aaron it was officially no longer his birthday (as in after midnight). I tried to stay up and blog some, but just couldn't keep my eyes open. It dawned on me I hadn't had a good nap in a couple of days. Good night. Until next time...

A good cry

Well, Sunday was almost done, and I was tapping away on my computer keyboard before I retired for the night. Aaron likes to play “watch dog” as I’m reading e-mails and blogging. He hovers around past his bedtime acting concerned for my health (go to bed, Mom!), but I know he’s usually just stalling for time. Tonight was a little different though. He was reminiscing about past birthday gatherings and who all had come. The three-way celebration at Lorenzo & Lani’s (for PaPa, Aaron & Trey) was nice, but it was a small affair compared to past gatherings at our home where Mike’s family attended as well. The conversation finally got around to where I had a feeling it was going: Grandmother (Mike’s mother, Jessie, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease). We haven’t been to see her since the home where she now resides moved a few weeks ago. Aaron and Alisa thought Grandmother hung the moon when they were younger. This is because until they came along, Grandmother’s youngest grandchild was about to graduate high school. I think Jessie was overjoyed to have babies around again. I think she especially enjoyed getting to be grandmother and not a parent figure. She did so much for Aaron & Alisa, including watching them for me on Saturdays so I could have a day to run errands or take a nap or whatever. She fulfilled the stereotypical “Grandma” role: she’d fix them whatever they asked for or let them decide where they wanted to go out to eat. She would “overpay” them for the simplest of tasks. Birthdays meant a huge gift bag from the dollar store filled with clothes, socks, underwear, etc. Aaron was missing all of that, and before long he grew quiet and the tears began to drip silently from his eyes. I could tell it was more than the toys and clothes that he was missing. It was Grandmother herself. At first we laughed and joked a little when we were sitting in the front room visiting with Jessie and she made a comment about Mike as if he weren’t sitting right there with us in the room. I think now, though, the realization has settled in that Grandmother whom we know and love comes and goes; she remembers and doesn’t remember. We’ve spoken very frankly with the kids about how Alzheimer’s disease progresses, and somehow the day before his 13th birthday I think the understanding “clicked” for Aaron.

I understood how Aaron felt. My heart was breaking for him. I told him of my first significant loss when I was around his same age. My dad's sister, Aunt Demples, who was an alcoholic was wasting away in a hospital in Lawton, Oklahoma. We went to visit, and I remembered thinking she looked older than my great grandmother! Her face was drawn and her belly was bloated. I prayed and I prayed for her to make it through. I guess in the mind of a 14-year-old people really can change. I just knew Aunt Demples would change her ways and stop drinking if she got a second chance. A couple of weeks later we received word that she was doing better; then, the next thing I knew we got the dreaded call that she had died. I was confused and hurt and angry because I didn't understand then how someone could be getting better and then die! I now understand that that is often exactly what happens. I believe God lets us see our loved ones improving so the last impression we have of them is more positive than negative. Then, too, I tend to believe that the reason sick people begin to get better is that they know their suffering is coming to an end. Aaron and I cried together and shared a box of tissues: me and my teenager of a son, no longer a little boy, but not quite a man...

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Bread of Life, August 9, 2009

Well, another Sunday has come and gone. We headed out to 8 o'clock mass this morning and Fr. LeDoux spoke more on Jesus as the Bread of Life. This theme has been recurrent for the past few weeks. I prayed for the Banks family that they will cherish these last couple of weeks with their unborn baby and then have the courage to allow him or her to rest in Jesus' loving arms when the time comes if that is God's will. I had to pray silently because the tears were already flowing freely and I couldn't speak around the lump in my throat even if I wanted to. Talk about faith!

We returned home by 9:45-ish. The game plan was for the kids to change clothes and have a bite to eat before I delivered them to Aunt Shannon's house around 10:30 a.m. Shannon & her family had invited A & A to tag along when they went to the free tour of the Dallas Cowboys' new stadium which was open from noon until 4 p.m. I wanted to go along, too, just because I figured I'd never see the inside of the stadium any other time, but I had "chores" to do in order to be ready for the PaPa, Aaron, & Trey dessert buffet at Lani & Lorenzo's home this evening. Barrett decided to stick around and borrow the computer while I combed Alisa's hair (actually, I flat-ironed her hair because she had worn it in braids to church) and helped her and Aaron get ready. Meanwhile, I put together and baked the crust for the Texas Panhandle Yum-Yum dessert Aaron requested for his birthday so it would have time to cool while I was shuttling kids across town. We finally headed out around 11:15. I was in no particular hurry because when I called Shannon around 10 o'clock, she and Derrick were just getting up and in gear. Derrick was on his way to the grocery store to purchase their weekly rations, so I figured I had a little time.

On the way to Shannon's my air conditioning went out in my van. It was blowing fine one minute, then I went to adjust the temp and the entire thing went out. Barrett tried to convince me that I had accidentally hit the off button. I stressed to him that I did not in fact inadvertently turn off the air. The panel still read "auto" indicating that the A/C was indeed on; it just wasn't doing anything. Then, it started blowing again all on its own, but the air was warm and getting hotter. We rolled down our windows. Alisa suggested we turn off the A/C before something burned up, and I agreed.

Upon our return from Shannon's I kind of rushing Barrett out the door. He had asked if we would be back from Shannon's by noon and it was about ten after, so I really thought he was going to be late for work-he still needed to stop by home, gather his lunch, and change his shirt and shoes. Only after he left did I realize he probably didn't need to leave home until just after 1:00 in order to clock in on time at Tom Thumb for 2 p.m. Sorry for rushing you, B. Embarrassed
Even if Barrett wasn't rushing I felt like I was. The birthday bash wasn't until 7:00 p.m., but I still had to put together the layered pudding dessert (aka Nancy's delight or Texas Panhandle Yum-Yum), make the frosting and decorate the birthday cake. I also wanted to catch a nap and clean up my kitchen before leaving. The kids were at Shannon's, so I didn't have to worry about feeding them, but Mike & I needed something to eat, too, since the gathering was desserts only.
I managed to finish everything except clearing the dishes in the kitchen. I even got to lie down for about 30 minutes. We made it to Lorenzo & Lani's about 20 minutes past 7:00. Lani had everything set up nicely. The table was adorned with a red velvet cake with huge white chocolate curls on top, sliced watermelon, white chocolate dipped pretzels, cookie cups (chocolate chip cookies baked as a shell in a miniature muffin tin and filled with a cream cheese and powdered sugar filling-mmm!), a bowl of nuts and the cutest miniature "hamburger" cookies (nilla wafers with real sesame seeds on top for the "bun," a peppermint patty for the "meat," green tinted shredded coconut for the lettuce; she even rolled out orange starbursts and cut squares for the cheese and little strips of fruit roll ups for "bacon," and red & yellow icing to kind of hold them together and represent ketchup and mustard--again, too cute & tasty, too!). Tia made banana pudding (a favorite of Trey's). I added my birthday cake and layered pudding dessert. Oh I almost forgot...Trey made really good chocolate chip, toffee bit & walnut cookies, too. I didn't think I'd be able to look at anything else sweet for a while. Leyla sat on my lap and ate a whole slice of watermelon by herself. All of the usual guests were present: Our hosts, Lorenzo & Lani, of course, along with Trey, PaPa, Tia, Ed, RoseMary, Grandmom, Uncle Mark & Delores, Shawn, Renee, Sasha, Shannon, Derrick, Xavier, Leyla, Mike, Aaron, Alisa & me. I mentioned before that Barrett had to work. Everything was tasty! Well done, Lani & Lorenzo. Thanks for hosting the get together.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

A bath at last

I love to laugh. Usually, the sillier something is the better (to a certain extent). I am a huge fan of both Far Side and Calvin and Hobbes comic strips. I remember one cartoon where Calvin asked Hobbs what he'd wish for if he had a single wish. Hobbes answered, "a sandwich." Calvin went into a diatribe about what a stupid answer that was: "Talk about a failure of the imagination! I'd ask for a trillion, billion dollars, my own space shuttle, and a private continent." At the end of the strip Hobbes is in the kitchen eating his sandwich. He tells Calvin, "I got my wish." So, I ask is it better to set your sights "realistically" even when dreaming and feel the sense of accomplishment when you achieve your goal. Or, is it better to shoot for the moon and miss in the stars?
My main prioritiy today was getting the dog bathed. She smells, well, like a dog. Everytime she goes outside in the heat for any period of time her dog smell is amplified upon her return into the house. Mike laughs all of the time because the "Mike" we got Missy from talked about what an outdoor dog Missy is, and how we'll practically have to drag her in to eat and what not. She is totally the opposite. At times we have to force her outdoors to do her business, and she usually does not tarry long. Anyway, I did manage to bathe the dog this afternoon and, therefore, my day was complete!
In the morning, I spent my obligatory hour outdoors scrubbing the pool which still has a slight green tint to it, but is improving, and pulling weeds in preparation of bathing the dog (I'd hate to inadvertently water the weeds while hosing down the dog). Aaron was actually up and I recruited him to help scrub and backwash. I also ventured out to Walmart Superstore in search of soda ash for the pool to no avail (I did, however, pick up a few groceries and school supplies). Then, I ran by Leslie's because I knew they'd have the soda ash. I returned home and put away the groceries and gathered Missy's bath supplies. She's a smart dog and realized exactly what I was up to. It took some effort to get her chained to her "bathspot" in the back yard. Missy received a little reprieve when Morris Baker, my former boss at the Dallas Peace Corps recruiting office, who is otherwise known as "Uncle Buddy" called to update me on what's happening in his life these days.
I bathed Missy then came in and bathed myself before eating a peanut butter sandwich and lying down for a nap (which was well-deserved, I might add). The kids were busy watching Race to Witch Mountain, and Mike had drifted off to sleep on the couch.
After my nap (3:00-ish to almost 5 p.m.) I stayed in my office organizing old receipts and bills. The desk is coming along, but I have a long way to go. I wanted gumbo for dinner, but I figured it was a little too late at 7:00 to be trying to pull that off. Lucky for me a found some in my freezer. I put on some rice in the rice steamer, defrosted and heated the gumbo, sliced the last of my yummy watermelon and dinner was served.
Alisa, Aaron & I played monopoly and Alisa cleaned our clocks (or at least wiped out our bank accounts!) She loves to play when she is winning...not so much when she loses. At any rate, it's past my bedtime, and I'm heading to 8:00 mass in the morning, so I'll close for now. Good night. Until next time...

Friday, August 7, 2009

Food for thought

My sister-in-law sent me this food for thought...

There are four things that you cannot recover in life:
(1) The Stone..........after it's thrown,

(2) The Word.............after it's said,

(3) The Occasion....after it's missed, and

(4) The Time............after it's gone.

I was pondering the veracity of it as I glanced up at the clock and noted that it is after 1:00 in the afternoon, and I have relatively little to show for the 5 1/2 hours I've been awake today. Sure, I’ve spent my usual early morning stint outdoors lamenting over the algae in the pool and trimming back my mint while the breeze was still cool and refreshing and the sun not quite up and at ‘em. Then, I came in and gathered the trash for pick up and set it on the curb. I ate the leftover blueberry pancakes I came across while cleaning out cucumbers that had gone soft and other perishables that had perished since last trash pick up. As soon as I sat down at my computer and turned on the modem the telephone rang. (I have the cheapest DSL internet plan there is, and I’m missing some filter. So, whenever I’m online and the phone rings my internet connection is disrupted.) Cousin B was en route to a job interview and seeking words of encouragement. That conversation completed, I returned to the task at hand: checking e-mails. This time I actually got all the way to my inbox and discovered 14 new messages awaiting my attention. I automatically deleted the unsolicited ones (ads about financial aid to pursue an online degrees, etc.) or those from unrecognized senders. That left about 10 messages to actually read. I can always tell when someone else has been sitting at their computer “catching up” on e-mails, too, because my inbox fills with forwarded “must read” alerts and “pass this on if you love God” prayers and “please do not break this because it’s going all around the world” messages. I began with my sister-in-law since we were going back and forth hammering out the details of the birthday bash she is hosting for my son, my dad & my nephew this Sunday. I had made it to about the 4th message when the phone rang again. B’s interview was over and he was pulling into my driveway and needed to know if I was decent (the interview was about 2 blocks away at A & A’s elementary school). I shimmied into appropriate undergarments and let him in. An hour and a half later I was forcing him out of the door. We had chatted about how the interview had gone, our financial woes and our hopes for a more financially sound if not prosperous future. Both of us were about as unenergetic as could be, and instead of uplifting one another we were just dragging each other down. That’s why I had to take the initiative to “force” B out the door.
All of the above counts for the first 3 ½ hours of my day. I guess I devoted about another hour to the internet from roughly 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. then the telephone rang 3 times. First, Mike calling to say he was not working late and would need my van when he got off work. Next, Barrett calling to tell me to get off of the phone with Mike or Jamie (good guesses, B!) and give me an update on his computer situation while en route to work. Finally, Tia called just to chit-chat about what I was doing, the errands she was about to run and whether or not I needed anything from Costco. Another hour had passed while I was on the phone. So, I guess my entire morning really was accounted for, even though the things I did “accomplish” (visit, check e-mails & chat on the phone) didn’t really correlate with my mental list of “things to do today.”
Now, here I sit blogging away about how time gets away and you never get it back when my list of things to do is still undone.
There are two basic things in life that have to happen in order to be productive and successful:
1) One must realize that everything takes time. I think I touched upon this in an earlier blog, but I'll elaborate again in a minute.
2) One must operate with intentionality in mind. I haven't read Joel Osteen's The Purpose Driven Life, but I'd be willing to bet that some of what I'm about to say is akin to what is in his best-seller.

When I say “everything takes time,” the meaning is two-fold. On the one hand, doing things and doing them well takes time and effort: the old “Rome wasn’t built in a day” adage comes to mind. This is of some consolation when you feel your progress on some big project is a little slow. On the other hand, every little thing you do takes up some of your time. I have a tendency to overestimate how much I can get done in a given period of time and underestimate how long it takes to accomplish a task. Either one of those shortcomings is bad enough by itself. Put them together and you have a recipe for disaster every time! Answering the telephone may take a minute if it’s the library’s automated system calling to tell you a book is ready for pick up; or, it can take an hour or more if it’s your girlfriend with whom you haven’t touched base in a few days. So, I ask myself why I feel compelled to answer the phone every time it rings. Answer: out of sheer habit. I don’t have caller ID to “screen” calls, so I just answer. I usually regret when I pick up and it’s someone begging for money, a telemarketer trained to get three rebuttals before ending the call or worse yet someone conducting one of those annoying surveys where they must ask you a million questions even if you have already explained that you do not listen to a particular radio station or shop at a particular store. Tick, tock, tick, tock…the minutes of the day are ticking away. You’ve lost your momentum for whatever you were in the process of doing whenever you answered the phone in the first place. In this case, the act of answering the phone takes up your time.

My online defines intentional as an adjective meaning:
1. done with intention or on purpose; intended: an intentional insult
2. pertaining to intention or purpose
synonyms: planned, designed; see deliberate
Intentionality-(noun version) is the state of having or being formed by an intention.

Growing up we were never allowed to use a form of the word in the definition of the word. What’s up with that?! In my own words, intentionality means: if you don’t use your time wisely someone else will be glad to use it for you. It’s similar to the phrase, “If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.” Think about it. If you call your doctor’s office, they usually have someone whose sole job is to answer the telephone, take a message and inform you that the doctor will return your call between this time and that time. Imagine if the doctor paused to take every call that came through for him/her! There would be relatively little time to actually see patients. The doctor intends to meet the needs of his in-house patients as well as those who have called the office. To accomplish this, however, he or she must have a plan. If you don’t have a clear plan and means to accomplish it (intentionality), then others feel you have all the time in the world to devote to what they would have you do. Am I making sense, or am I just rambling on and on? I guess what I am saying in a nutshell is it is not enough to hope things happen; sometimes you have to get to work and make things happen. If you intend for it to happen you need a plan and means to accomplish it.
One last example then I’ll close. Every year Mike bids for the next year’s vacations sometime around October. Inevitably, a vacation week rolls around, and he is 4 days into it when he says, “We should have planned a quick trip to wherever.” Then, in the blink of his eye (the time drags on for me) he is headed back to work, and we haven’t been anywhere or done anything worthwhile (like spring cleaning type stuff). We haven’t mastered the art of intentionality. Usually, that’s just the way the cookie crumbles because Mike is off work, but the kids & I are still in school. This past vacation, however, we were all off from work and school for 9 days in a row. We had no funds to travel, so it would have been the perfect time to get “stuff” done around the house (and God knows there is plenty to be done!). We caught up on some old movies, but that’s about it because we lacked the fundamental intention (deliberate plan) to get anything done. Nine days we won’t get back because they have already passed. I’ve brought this topic to family huddle, but nothing seemed to come of it. I’ll keep it going, though, until I can get my point across. Good night. Until next time…

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Wednesday rolled around and found us gearing up to shop for Alisa’s school uniforms. With Mike back to work, however, I awoke with a desire to begin the process of tackling the mess called my office. I made a little progress (meaning I could tell a difference, but probably no one else could); it really was a case of “it has to get worse before it can get better.” Right now, I’m still at the “worse” stage. I broke to comb Alisa’s hair & eat lunch before heading to the Parker Uniform Store in Fort Worth. I knew I should have called before driving out there! They were assisting customer #33 when I pulled #49 off of the “please take a number” dowel rod. We had Sasha and Tia with us as well. We waited patiently along with everyone else, and all in all, we were in there for about an hour and a half. A hundred ninety-two dollars and some change later, Alisa was equipped with a jumper, culottes, a blouse, a cardigan sweater and a skirt (which will be mailed to us because it was out of stock). With our receipt we were given a chance to complete a survey online and receive 20% off any one item. I may just do that and try to get Alisa a pair of khaki pants. She may not want them now, but come winter time, she’ll probably change her mind. Thank you, Tia, for funding half of the uniforms.
We dropped off Tia & Sasha; then Alisa & I headed to PetCo for Alisa to finally check out her hermit crabs. See, here’s the thing about “birthday” money. I kind of thought Alisa should have helped foot the bill for some of her uniforms with that money, but I know she thought otherwise. She has been looking forward to getting “birthday money” to get her hermit crabs since before Christmas. This is one of the reasons (besides the fact that we have no income to devote to allowance) that I haven’t instituted an allowance in our household. Yes, I would love for my kids to learn to manage money with hands on experience—maybe it will help them avoid financial blunders down the road. BUT, it’s a job and a half trying to figure out all of the details: how much allowance is appropriate? What are the kids now responsible for paying for on their own? What do the kids have to do to get the allowance? Different “experts” say different stuff, like, “Allowance is not a reward for behavior. It should be given just to be given and not in return for chores.” Others say teach your children to give 1/3 to charity, 1/3 to savings and 1/3 to spend. I am all for that, but I personally do not see giving an allowance to kids who refuse to make their beds, empty the dishwasher and keep up their grades. Oh well, I’ll cross that bridge a little later. By the time I can afford to give A & A an allowance, they’ll be old enough to do odd jobs and earn their pocket change.
Back to the hermit crabs…Alisa bought two and a start up kit. They’re both considered “fancy crabs” since somebody painted their shells. She named one “Liberty” because it has an American flag painted on its shell, and the other “Red” after the dad on That 70’s Show who “loves to say the ‘a-word.’” They have to be spritzed with water several times a day because they need a humid environment, and, according to the book that came with the start up kit, they like to snack on all sorts of things like grapes, potato chips & saltine crackers. Their water must be de-chlorinated and poured on a sponge to avoid drowning. Sounds like a lot of responsibility to me! Alisa is fascinated with them (if not a little afraid of being pinched) for the time being.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Guerin girls, Cierra & Sheridan, arrived around 7:15 a.m. on Tuesday. I had already been up for an hour washing dishes (some of the same ones I had left in a tub beside the sink on Friday! Thank heavens I rinse stuff off prior to washing). Alisa got up and put in a movie which they watched while I ran to the grocery store to get bacon & biscuits (thanks to John & Chermain who gave me what cash they had on hand!) for breakfast. We had breakfast, then after a little time had passed Mike sat outdoors keeping an eye on the kids in the pool while I (you probably guessed it) washed more the dishes from breakfast and beyond.
I ordered pizza from CiCi’s for pick up ($4.99 large pepperoni or cheese pizzas everyday!) and cut up lettuce, tomato, carrots, onion & green pepper for salad. I put them in separate bowls so the kids could build their own. I also sliced some more of that delicious watermelon. While the kids were showering and getting dressed (and playing with a captured June bug smuggled indoors in the critter cage), I ran to CiCi’s to pick up lunch.
Somewhere in the 3:00 hour John & Chermain returned to pick up the girls (Cierra had soccer practice that evening). Alisa & I headed out not long thereafter to pick up Barrett from DFW Airport. I missed the 8-30 minute toll fee of $1.00 by about 2 minutes and ended up having to write a check for $2.00! Barrett & I had about $1.35 between the two of us…and that was counting the change in my ashtray (talk about sad)! He claimed to have an excellent time, even if he did feel the need for another vacation to recuperate from his trip to Ohio to visit his dad & stepmother. He told me I’d have to read all about it in his blog which would be forthcoming. Still no word as of Thursday. Yeah, B, that's a challenge!

Monday, August 3, 2009

What a busy week so far! I was originally going to do just one blog with a "snapshot" of my week thus far; however, the blog continued to grow and grow and take on a life of its own. So, I will break it down day by day instead for those of you who have small snatches of time to read vs "nothing better to do all day long!"
Monday, Mike was supposed to go in to work for somebody, so he got up, ate a big breakfast and headed out around noon. I had been by to check on Barrett’s apartment in his absence, and Mike awaited my return before leaving for work. Within the hour he was back. Apparently his coworker had called in sick instead of taking a personal day so Mike could pick up her shift. That doesn’t happen often, but I really hate it when it does happen! Now, not only does Mike not make the extra bucks, but he has wasted gas driving out to the airport and back for nothing. (Not to mention the fact that I get a lot more done when Mike’s not around.) At least Mike & Aaron would have a chance to get our yard or Jessie’s (Mike’s mother) yard cut since he wasn’t at American.
Later that evening, I took Alisa to Walmart to spend her gift card. She did really well—a pair of jeans and 2 pair of casual shoes (canvas tennis & Mary Janes), and she only had to add a couple of dollars to her gift card. I think she’s beginning to understand that everything costs more than you’d expect when you’re shopping on a budget. I think she was watching the Ross commercials where you can “get 3 outfits for the same price you’d pay for one at department stores” without realizing that each of the Ross outfits probably cost $20 to $30 a piece (on a good day). We stopped by Lo Jr. & Lani’s on the way home to visit a few minutes and retrieve the “lactose-free reduced fat milk” the kids left behind. Thanks, Lani, for the yummy taffy from Coeur d’Alene Resort Shopping Plaza! I love the black licorice (first time trying that flavor ever!) and the caramel apple. Also, you can’t ever go wrong with the peppermint (white taffy with red stripes on the sides).
William Wilcott had called me before Alisa & I left home to tell me PaPa John’s was having a half-off pizza sale which ended the same day. He ordered an everything on it for about $10.00. I had just been thinking about the fact that we rarely had pizza on Mondays even though Mondays are designated as “Mama mia” Monday on our meal planning calendar (when we get around to planning menus, that is). We usually fix something Italian: pasta alfredo with chicken & broccoli, spaghetti, lasagna, etc… I kept that thought in the back of my mind as Alisa was shopping. Then Chermain called. She is my dear friend and the godmother of both of my kids. She and John (her husband & the kids’ godfather) had a bunch of non-kid-friendly errands to run on Tuesday and wondered if their girls (ages 13 and 9) could spend the day with Aaron & Alisa tomorrow. I said sure, they could come and swim, too, if they wanted. I had to rethink my pizza for dinner, though, figuring pizza was always a quick and easy lunch plan after a good swim.
Well, Alisa & I stayed a little longer than expected at Lo Jr. & Lani’s, and I knew the boys (i.e., Mike & Aaron) would be ready to eat when we walked in the door as we had left them doing yard work. So, we stopped by Sonic to get chicken strip sandwiches from their $1 menu. I borrowed a 5-spot from Alisa and ordered Mike a Limeade chiller as well (the kids & I had chillers the day before when I picked them up after my weekend away). I handed our server exact change along with the coupon for the chiller, and she handed me the drink and bag of sandwiches. I didn’t remember getting a receipt, and I made the fatal (well, not really fatal, but…) mistake of not checking the contents of my bag before I pulled off. I called home to tell the boys we were on our way and ask Aaron to put some tater tots in the toaster oven.
As you might have guessed, when we sat down to eat I discovered there were only three sandwiches in the bag. I had clearly ordered and paid for four chicken strip sandwiches. I didn’t feel like going to the car to search for a receipt, but I did grab the phone book and look up the number. I called and the phone rang and rang and rang. No one ever answered. Mike opted for a ham and cheese sandwich even though that’s probably what he had eaten when he came in from work, too (that’s definitely one of the things I love about the man…he truly is not picky about what he eats!). The rest of us ate our sandwiches, tater tots and watermelon.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A realization from August 3, 2009

Why is it that I do so much for others? I ask myself this question quite often, especially when it seems that I barely have time to do the things I need to do for me when I allow myself to put others’ needs before my own. I think it all has to do with one’s perspective. This is something I gained from the training weekend I just completed.
One of the presenters, a young man by the name of Scott, recounted his friend’s reaction when Scott told the friend that he and his wife were expecting their first child. Scott says he was in his early 20’s (as was his friend I’m guessing), and the friend’s reaction was a concerned, “Dude!” Scott was so excited, he couldn’t understand his friend’s glum and less than enthusiastic response to news of the pregnancy. “What’s with that? Aren’t you going to buy me a beer or something to celebrate?!” Scott asked. The friend explained (and I paraphrase), “You and your wife had plenty of time together, your money was ‘right,’ you could travel or hang out with friends when you wanted. A baby will change all of that. You won’t have any alone time. You’ll have to get a babysitter to go out. All of your money will go for baby stuff, etc…” Then, Scott’s response was, “Dude!” He apparently hadn’t thought of all of that. After giving it some thought Scott concluded that having a baby would bring him and his wife closer together from a “babies-are-a-gift-from-God-and-a-source-of-grace-which-draws-Christians-closer-together” kind of perspective (again, that’s me paraphrasing what I recall Scott saying). So, it’s all in the way you look at it or your perspective on a matter.
Now, back to my perspective on helping others…Every time I do something for someone else, deep down inside I see it as an act of love. Sometimes I fuss about it, and that’s not so cool. I must get better about that part. For the most part, I feel blessed when I help others because I remember to pray for them when they have a need that I can fulfill. The trick is determining when my “helping” others is actually detrimental to them in an unhealthy, codependent “enabling” sort of way.
Let’s take my kids, for example. As a “stay at home” mom* when they were younger, I felt it was my “job” to do for them: keep ‘em bathed and fed and exposed to “the arts” and opportunities for physical activity. I also felt like it was my “duty” if you will to take care of Mike in much the same way. After all, he was missing out on lots of stuff in A & A’s lives because he was the main breadwinner and had to work lots of hours (especially after all of the madness that followed 9/11/01). The trick is gradually “weaning” them from this mentality that “everything is Mom’s job” (meaning every chore around the house-both inside and out) and cultivating independence and responsibility. Any parent knows that’s often easier said than done. To this day, I continue to do things for them (things I know they should do for themselves) for many reasons:
Superwoman syndrome: my way is the right way and if you want something done right you do it yourself.
They allow me to (i.e., they’d rather not do it themselves)
Choose your battles: in the time it takes me to argue about whose turn it is to do a certain task or who did it last time, etc. I could have already had it done (the way I want it done, too, mind you).
It’s the principle of the thing: Why call someone from way in the back of the house to put away the milk when I’m standing less than 3 feet from the refrigerator?
*I put “stay at home” mom in quotes earlier because ever since I quit working outside of the home full time (after Alisa’s birth), I have done some type of work to supplement Mike’s income: medical transcription, caring for my nephew & niece, working at Parent’s Day Out, etc. Again, this is my way of showing love.
Maybe this entire line of reasoning is nothing more than an attempt to justify or rationalize my actions so I don’t come off looking like a spineless wuss, but really, my point is this: If I look at my doing things for others as “acts of love” vs. “chores” then I keep my sanity to a certain degree. If I dwell on everything I do for others and cry, “Woe is me!” while hypothetically “playing sad music on my violin” for doing it then I feel abused, depressed and/or angry. It’s all in the way I choose to look at it.

Another of the presenters, Patty, spoke of the importance of the hospitality committee, and the role they play in the RCIA program. Evidently, in her parish she can call on members of the hospitality committee to prepare fresh-baked cookies, breads, etc. for the candidates going through the program. Patty said she or anyone else could stop by Kroger and pick up packages of cookies, but the act of baking home-made goodies embodies the concept of giving of oneself and one’s time as an act of love. If you think of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, you’ll remember that basic needs (food, water, clothing & shelter) must be met before advancing to safety/security and self-esteem needs. Feeding people physically is just as important as feeding them spiritually, especially when the meetings are held in the evenings, and many attendees come straight from work and my not have had a chance to eat. This dialogue is meant to show a connection between my hospitality toward others and the hospitality ministry at one’s parish.

This reminds me of the book Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel. The main character Tita is the youngest daughter of a family from Old Mexico; therefore she must prepare meals, care for her aging mother and never marry. Naturally, she falls in love, but her beloved marries her older sister so he can be close to Tita without breaking with “tradition.” Tita is crying as she bakes her sister’s wedding cake, and when the guests consume the cake they all begin to cry as well. Imagine if someone was praying all the while they were baking for the RCIA program! Think of the little elderly, widowed parishioner whose kids are grown and long gone to live their lives. She who may or may not get out very much anymore. Her contribution of baked goods validates her existence and fills a need for others as well. Maybe she can’t sing in the choir or visit the sick and shut-in, but she can bake some scrumptious cookies. It really brings to life the phrase: “homemade with love.”
I think the bottom line of this "post" is: I am a better person for helping others, and I hope those whom I help are better people for having been helped. Maybe they will "pay it forward" somewhere down the road.
Just a little note about the terminology. RCIA stands for Rites of Christian Initiation of Adults. It is a program for people who wish to become Catholic to learn more about the Catholic faith and doctrine. Sometimes “cradle Catholics” (i.e., people who were baptized as infants and raised in the Catholic church) take the course as well to better understand their religion. A “catechumen” is the person going through the initiation or conversion. The “catechist” is the teacher or leader of the RCIA training. To put it all together, the training I attended over the weekend was entitled: Fort Worth Diocese RCIA Catechist Training Seminar. The seminar was presented by representatives of the Association of Catechetical Ministries (ACM) who introduced us (current and future catechists) to excellent resources for our parish RCIA programs. That's enough of all that! Good night. Until next time...

from August 1, 2009

It’s day two at DFW Hyatt Regency for the Diocesan RCIA training I must admit that the seminar has been extremely informational. The presenters are obviously well-trained and familiar with the content because they present it well. Scott and Bill both appear younger than me, but are both married with 4 children each. Pattie is a bit older. She has been married 40 years and has 6 children and an “ever-increasing number of grandchildren” according to her introduction. I can’t help but wonder what my life would have been like if I had married a “good Catholic young man.” Even with four children these young men and their wives are active participants in their faith communities. I can’t even get my husband to attend mass on the Sundays he is off work 4 times a year. I could so see myself working with programs like Pre-Cana, which is like a marriage preparation program where married couple “mentor” couples preparing for marriage and other “couple-centered” groups with a different partner. On a painful and personal note, one thing has been made abundantly clear: that is, I am a terrible witness. My story, my faith, my Christian example are not enough to win Mike over. I just try to remember that it has more to do with God’s time than mine. Oh well. I don’t know if it’s good. I don’t know if it’s bad. All I know is it is what it is.
We have eaten well today. Breakfast was Belgian waffles (not so good; a little tough), scrumptious red-skinned potatoes and sausage patties. Lunch was chunky chicken noodle soup (I mean lots of chicken), huge sandwiches: layers of smoked turkey, cheddar cheese, lettuce & tomato on a large ciabatta-type roll, salad with buttermilk ranch dressing and a choice of individual packets of chips. Finally, dinner consisted of a salad (fresh baby spinach, a strawberry halve, mandarin oranges, spiced walnuts, grape tomatoes, and thinly sliced red onion served with honey mustard dressing), chicken breast served over cornbread dressing and whole “skinny” green beans sautéed with onion. And, for dessert: pecan tarts with a dollop of whipped cream and shaved chocolate on top and yummy swirls of some type of vanilla cream (maybe condensed milk) and chocolate syrup around the tart on the plate. Ummmmm! I ate every bite and washed it all down with a cup of decaf with plenty of cream and sugar.
I’ve chatted with the kids who are having fun with T’Lani & Uncle LoLo. Lani & I talked at length—about nothing really; just catching up over the past couple of days. Now, I’m watching a re-run of Saturday Night Live and about to call it a night.
Tomorrow breakfast is at 8 a.m. I’ll have to check out some time before mass which begins at 11:00. We have sessions up until 3:00 p.m. then it’s off to pick up A & A and head home. Good night. Until next time…

Sunday, August 2, 2009

I'm back (sort of)

Hello blog buddies...just a quick note to say I haven't forgotten you. As you may know I was away at an RCIA Catechist Training Seminar this past weekend (sounds "Greek" if you're not Catholic, but I'll explain later). I do have a brief blog about that, but it's on my laptop, and I'll have to connect my internet to the laptop to copy it onto my blog. I'll try to do that tomorrow. Right now it's midnight on Sunday night/Monday morning, and I'm going to turn in for the night. Just wanted to touch base and assure everyone that all is well. Please pray for Lisa Banks and family of Arlington, TX, as they are standing in the need of prayer--no activity on their blog in a week, and that concerns me given all that they're going through right now. Good night. Until the next time...