Saturday, November 26, 2011

A Cooks Best Helpers!

The 3 most special ladies in my life took charge of Thanksgiving supper this year. All 3 are great cooks in their own right. Jessica loves to try new recipes and especially enjoys making appetizers and dips! And boy were they good! Amanda is a meat and potato kind of cook. She always makes homemade noodles and this year she tried her hand at pies. I sampled the pecan pie and it was delicious! Maddie also enjoys helping in the kitchen. She loves to set the table (with special delight in hiding her Papa's utensils and napkin!) and she will stir anything available. My role in the meal was much less this year (fruit salad, green beans and rolls) and it was probably the best meal we have ever had. Who says too many cooks spoil the broth? NOT ME! I welcome all the help I can get. It was a wonderful day spent cooking, visiting, eating and playing games. Oh, and we managed to spend a good deal of time looking over the ads. I hope your holiday was just as lovely!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Lifelong Impact of a Teacher

Please accept my apologies in advance for the wet spots on this blog. I am about to write a very emotional post about a wonderful lady, a teacher, wife, sister, friend and mother. . . specifically my mother. My mother passed away 25 years ago at the age of 52. She lost an 18 month battle with breast cancer. Prior to her death, she spent 25 years of her life teaching 2nd grade. Mom was a very humble person, who never thought she was exceptional at anything. She had a wonderful gift of compassion and love that she gave to everyone she met. Mom knew what it was like to struggle in school and at home. The youngest of 3 children, she lost her dad when she was 8 years old. She attended a strict Catholic school and remembers being severly disciplined by the nuns when her academic work didn't measure up. She had to repeat 1st grade due to prolonged absences for ear infections. I believe that these experiences helped to mold her into the kind of teacher who had empathy and compassion for ALL students, poor, dirty, slow or unloveable. Her favorite expression was: "The children who are the least loveable are the ones who need love the most".
Growing up, I used to be jealous of my mother's time. Anytime we went out in public, parents and children alike would corner my mother to talk. It would take hours just to get through the grocery store. My mother always had time to listen, laugh and encourage her students. I remember that before the school had a breakfast program, my mother would quietly take breakfast food to her students that came to school hungry. She would take mittens, spare socks and stocking caps to kids who were sent to school without. Her teaching techniques were uncomplicated. She loved to share books with her classes, but what she really gave them was so much more than books could provide. She hugged them when they came to school, when they left for home, when they had a success, or when they were having a bad day. She was probably the most genuinely kind person I have ever encountered.
As I write these words, I imagine the readers maintaining some skepticism about the truth to this tribute. Of course, you may be thinking, you would feel that way, after all, she was your mother. Any daughter would be bias when telling about the attributes of a parent. And of course, you would probably be correct. However, I am getting to the substance of this post, the photo shown above. I still reside in the same town in which my mother taught. I know many people in the area, and quite a few have shared stories with me about the influence my mother had on them during their elementary years. I have had grown men and women become teary eyed when telling me how my mother affected their lives and education. This week, however, I was given a very concrete example of the impact my mother had (and still has) on her students. While away from work recuperating from surgery, a former student of mom's (I will just call her T) left the pictures posted above for me with a lovely note. In the note, she explained the collection of photos in the frame and what each picture represented to her (The keys were her Grandpa's. . . he helped raise her, the cat is her daughters, the rock a gift from her son when he was in preschool, and the ribbons and bows represent her and her daughter's youth). I won't share all of the note, but in it she writes; "Your mama loved me and hugged me when I truly needed to feel safe and loved. She was Jesus to a lost and broken little girl." I remember Mom talking about T and the rough home situation she was in. Her grandparents ended up taking her in and raised a wonderful young woman. T and my mom never forgot each other. We would see her around town and Mom would always hug her and ask about her life. I knew they had a special bond.
In the note, T mentioned that she made a copy of the framed photos and donated it to the elementary school library that was named for my mom. T is now in her 40's. It has been probably 36 years since she had my mother in 2nd grade. To say that my mom had a life long impact on this woman would not be an exaggeration. She has raised two children of her own and works in the field of education. I know she would not want me to cry over her gift, but tonight that is just what I did. I shed tears of happiness that I was blessed with a mother like I had, I shed tears of sorrow that we lost her so young, I shed tears of regret that she would never be able to see all the impact she had on so many young lives, and I shed tears for the courage and thoughtfulness it took T to open up her heart and soul in the way she did. Even now, after writing all this down, I have feelings I can't explain welling up inside of me. . . I have had 25 years to come to grips with my mother's death, but this unexpected gift has brought so many memories back that I have tried to bury.
I think that it was no accident that this came to me during the week of Thanksgiving. I am truly Thankful for my mother and the gift she was to me and so many others! I love you Mom. . . and I hope you know how special you were to so many.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Tis the Season!

Every year I like to get Maddie and Mason a Christmas decoration or Holiday Tradition starter. This year (with the help of a little elf I know), we got them the "Elf on the Shelf" book and shelf sitter. The idea is that the little elf is placed in a different place every night (after the kids are tucked into bed) and when the kids wake up, they are anxious to see where the little guy is hiding out. The elf watches and listens to the kids the month before Christmas and reports to Santa about their behavior. Amanda is going to take a daily photo of the elf and the kids interactions with him (yet to be named) and we hope to put together a photo book to share with them someday. I can't wait to see how this goes. It sounds like a lot of fun!!!

Josh is not a "cake" person. His favorite dessert is home made apple pie. Maddision insisted that we put 30 candles on it for her Dad's celebration. The smokey look of the picture is due to all the smoke! The menu for his birthday celebration included lasagna, salad, rolls, apple pie and apple crisp. I still can't believe that my baby is 30!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Heigh Ho

Yesterday I got the okay to go back to work on Monday. The follow up Dr's appointment was quick and contained no surprises. He told me that the lingering pain in my side and the feeling of being constantly bloated were perfectly normal and would eventually go away. I am going to be glad to get back into a routine and tackle work issues. This last two weeks has allowed me to decide that I am not quite ready to retire yet. (By our company time line, I have 6 more years until the minimum retirement). Of course being sick is not quite the same as feeling good and being retired! I have had the chance to watch every cooking show featuring thanksgiving food on the planet! (The big question is: to brine or not to brine the turkey. . . . I was overruled and we are frying ours this year). I could probably wipe anyone off the face of a trivial board. I have watched/listened to and read more news than I ever care to again! My house is clean since I have had bursts of energy when I have taken one area and cleaned it. . . plus I bullied my husband into vacumning. I have even done some on line Christmas shopping (nothing purchased yet).
What I haven't done is spend quality time with Maddie and Mason. Josh broke my heart yesterday when he told me that Maddison was sad the other night and when he asked her what was wrong she said; "I am missing Mimi". Boy am I missing her too!! And her little brother!
So I am finishing up my convalescense time at home. I will quickly be absorbed in the 40 hour work week again. It will be a stark contrast, but I think I am ready for it. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

My weeks of recovery

Pictured is sweet little Maddison sorting and reviewing the get well cards I got while I was in the hospital.

I know I haven't posted in awhile. What the heck have I been doing home all day recovering from surgery? Almost 2 weeks ago I had surgery for a leaky and finally ruptured appendix. I have tried to be a good patient and follow Doctor's orders (which in itself can be challenging!). I have rested, slept, taken all my medications, taken it easy and in general been rather bored. I have debated about writing about my illness and it finally occured to me that I should put the experience on record for my own benefit of memory. So, here is a warning: read at your own risk. I generally do not like to complain about health issues, knowing that no one really wants to hear about someone else's aches and pains. However, since this has been such a BIG part of my life in the month of November, I shall write about it and then put it in the memory books.

I was registered for a computer update training the first Wednedsay, Thursday and Friday of November in Jefferson City (about 70 miles away). I made it fine on Wednedsay but had a rough night Wednesday night. I got up almost every hour with a pain running in my lower abdominal area. I had been fighting a sore throat for several days before this, and I just thought it was a complication from some type of flu. When the alarm went off at 5 on Thursday morning, I told Randy that I was thinking about staying home. It was a rainy cold day and the drive to Jeff seemed almost insurmountable in my current state. To be on time, I would have to leave at 7. . . maybe I would feel better by then. Finally at 7:45, I decided to go ahead and go to Jeff. I had left my notebooks there, and I didn't just want to be a no show. The stomach pain came and went, so I felt like I could "tough it out". I was 45 minutes late, and during the morning the pain kept coming and going. When we broke for lunch, I told the instructor that I wasn't feeling well and that I thought I should head home. After a LONG rainy drive, I made it home and went right to my bed to rest. I slept for almost 2 hours and when I got up, the pain had intensified. I took my blanket to the couch and waited for Randy to get home. When he came in, I think he knew instantly that I was not up to par. While he heated up some leftovers, I took a warm bath (after all, a warm bubble bath can cure anything, right?). I laid back on the bed, and when Randy came to check on me, I was feeling worse. He asked about the need to go to the ER. I said not yet, and asked him to get me a heating pad. About 20 minutes later, the pain was almost unbearable and I could not get comfortable in any position. He took control of the situation (I tend to be stubborn about things sometimes. . . . I know, who would guess?) and told me to get ready to go to the ER. During the trip, I was able to get in a position where the pain was less, and I asked him to turn around and take me home (the trip to Columbia is about 30 minutes). As embarrassing as this is, I had convinced myself that I was just constipated! Fortunately, his good judgement overruled my bad judgement and we continuted on.

Once at the ER, a male nurse from Moberly took me in for a triage. Long story short, I eventually was taken for a CT scan and the diagnosis was made. By this time it was close to midnight. I was taken to a room and kept on pain medications until 7 the next morning when they took me to surgery. The 45 minute proceedure took close to 2 hours when they discovered that the appendix had burst and been leaking for some time. I am so thankful for a skilled surgeon that was able to do all this laproscopically, saving me from additional pain and discomfort. The first night in the hospital, Randy slept on the couch. . . or I should say was on the couch, I don't think either one of us slept much. When I got out of surgery the next morning, Jessica was the first face I recognized. . . I will NEVER take family for granted after this experience. Being in the hospital in an emergency situation is frightening. . . eased only by having the people you love with you.

I ended up spending the rest of Friday and most of Saturday in the hospital. The room where I stayed was part of a brand new addition and it was beautiful. Every room is a private room, and the surroundings are very peaceful and serene. If you have to be sick, it is a nice place to be.

On Friday night, I had the nurse/tech team from hell. Actually, the nurse was pretty good (after she scolded me for having unopened lemon mouth wipes on my tray. . . . which had been brought to me by another nurse for dry mouth. She said that they were "not allowed" in the hospital. I was left to wonder how they got there, because I certainly didn't bring them in!). The tech, however was a different story. In no uncertain terms, she let me know that her rules were the rules we were going to operate under during her shift. I couldn't do anything the way she thought I should. She came in for vitals at 3, and to try to ease the tension I commented that there wasn't much to watch at that time of day. Her reply was: "You mean they have 64 channels on that TV and you can't find one thing to watch?" Aye, yah, yah! That is pretty much how it went the whole 12 hours shift with her. I was never so glad to see the staff change in my entire life!!! It seemed like everything the nurse told me, the tech disputed (crossing legs, how much to drink, how to mange the pain etc.)

So, here I am, back at home recovering from the most surprising health issue to visit itself upon me in 54 years!

This experience has made me thankful for so many things, but most of all family and friends who offer comfort, support and care when you need it the most!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Dear "A"

Dear "A", We did alright together for many, many years. You stuck by me and did your job. . . I stuck by you and did what I was supposed to do. What really happened between us? I don't remember any one specific time when I did anything to make you want to part ways with me so rapidly. (Although I have to say, I am not sure what your job was exactly, I was just happy you kept on doing it). Up until last week I thought you were happy and content. You certainly kept me happy and content.
Now we have parted ways and permanently separated our future together. You have gone your miserable way and I am going mine. There is no future for us and I might add that you have caused me considerable pain in my present state. If I had know it was going to end this way I would have considered booting you out a long time ago. As for now, it is good riddance from me and a not so kind goodbye.
May you rest in peace my irritable, leaking, ruptured appendix. May I soon be able to forgive and forget the pain and suffering that you have brought to me. . . without provocation! I am declaring independence from you and a new life without your association. RIP Friday, November 4, 2011.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Ironman and Miss Vampire

Mason was dressed up as "Ironman" for Halloween.

My favorite little Trick or Treaters take a second to pose before their big outing. The weather was perfect for Halloween!

Maddie really played up her role as vampire. I am not sure she really understands what a vampire is. . . but she played it well!