Thursday, January 31, 2008

Happy Birthday Valve!

A year ago today my mom went through open heart surgery and had her atrial valve replaced. She had a rough time with the surgery and the few days immediately following. Here are some of the emails I sent out to the family as all this was going on.

January 25, 2007: Hi everyone...just wanted to let you know that my mom is being admitted to ****** Hospital this evening. She's had an atrial valve (in her heart) issue for several years now and has been doing fairly well with it because of her diligent workouts at the YMCA. She knew that she would eventually have to have atrial valve replacement surgery. In fact, her plan was to discuss the surgery with her cardiologist at her semi-annual appointment this afternoon. She thought that if she had it now, she would be all recovered for their annual trip to Myrtle Beach this summer.

She saw Dr. R at 3:30 this afternoon and he told her to go to ****** Hospital as soon as she could. Apparently she was in atrial fib, which in layman's terms means that her heart was beating extremely fast. She said that they couldn't even take her blood pressure because it was beating so fast. Dr. R said that she will be admitted and will have a heart cath done tomorrow. I asked her if she would stay in the hospital until they did the surgery and she said that she had asked Dr. R the same thing and his response was to take one thing at a time.

So for now, all we know is that she is being admitted this evening (they were en route when she called me) and will have a heart cath done tomorrow. I will let you know how things go with that when I find out.

January 29, 2007: Hi is the latest news on my mom:

Saturday they x-rayed her teeth. Around 4:45 pm today they took her to the dentist there in the hospital, just as Ted and I got there. When she came back, she said that the dentist examined her teeth and cleaned them. Apparently this is all part of what they now do before heart surgery.

She commented today that this whole ordeal is no longer "fun", hahaha. I can't even imagine.

Ted and I were there Friday night when the cardiologist came in to talk about her heart cath results. He said that there was good news and there was bad news. The bad news is that her aortic valve is in TERRIBLE shape. The good news is that there are NO blockages! Although that's pretty much what we thought, it was nice to hear it "officially."

Her surgery is scheduled for 8:00 am Wednesday, and at that time they will replace her aortic valve with a tissue valve, formerly known as a "pig" valve, and NO, it does not really come from a pig! The nickname has something to do with the tissue that the valve is made of and how it's similar to that of an animal....or something like that.

As you can imagine, my mother is not the best patient in the world, HOWEVER, considering everything, she's not doing too bad. She can tell me all about each nurse she's had, and even called the dentist "a red-headed dago"....can you believe it? And he was a very nice man! He said she was a little ornery, imagine that.

And for those of you wondering how my father is handling all of this...well, he's actually doing quite well. I've told him to let me know if he needs anything and he keeps saying that he's in good shape. This evening mom said that if dad needed anything from the store, he would go get it himself. I asked her if he'd ever been to Buehler's before (our local grocery store) and she replied that she thought he had been in there once...a L O N G time ago!

I've suggested that she come here to our house to recover when she gets out of the hospital and that dad could come too, but they both said thanks, but no thanks. I understand that she wants to be in her own house, but I just thought it would be easier and I could do their laundry and cook for them and everything would just be right here. You know how independent she can be.

Thank you all for the good thoughts and prayers...we really appreciate it. If you could keep the prayers coming, that would be great too. Apparently this is a pretty routine surgery for all those involved...EXCEPT the patient! It should last around 3-4 hours and I will let you all know how she gets through it.

January 31, 2007: Hi everyone....well, it's been a long day, even though it's only 4:15 pm. We all got to the hospital by 6:30 am and got to spend some time with mom before they took her down to the surgical waiting area. When they took her down there, we were able to be in there with her while the nurse anesthetist came in and talked to her, and then while the surgeon came in to talk to her. After they took her, we went out to the cardiac waiting area. They had a family liaison who was just wonderful! They also gave us a beeper and told us they would beep us a couple of times throughout the procedure, and then we were to call and they would tell us what was going on. Michele, our liaison, told us exactly what would be going on and when we could expect to be beeped from surgery. She was a wealth of information. Dad was there, as well as Aunt Dolores, Ted, and I, and Spence. The waiting room we were in was just for our family and had a TV in it. Each cardiac surgical patient family had their own waiting room. They beeped us right after they had opened her up. When I called, they said that they had started and all was well. Around 12:20 they beeped again and when I called they said it was finished and everything had gone well, THANK GOD! They also said that the surgeon would be out to talk to us in about 20 minutes or so. When he came out, he said that this valve replacement DOUBLED the blood flow through her heart immediately! I think she was in worse shape than any of us thought. We were told that we would be able to see her in about an hour to an hour and a half, so we went and ate lunch. When we got back, it was only a few minutes until they said we could see her.

At this point I can honestly say that I really and truly didn't know what Ted went through when he first saw me after my hysterectomy, my colon cancer surgery, and my colostomy take-down. WELL, I DO NOW!

Mom basically looked like a drunken sailor! They were keeping her well medicated and she was asleep and would remain so for at least 4 hours. She has a central line in her neck, a tube down her throat, and on a ventilator. Dad and Spence chose not to go back to see her...and I totally respect their choices. Some people can handle that, and some people can't, and they know that they can't. If it was a stranger, then that's one thing, but to see a family member like that...well, that's something else entirely.

Aunt Dolores, Ted, and I went back and got to talk to her nurse and see her. At that time, they said she was doing great. Her heart rate was very good, her BP was very good, and her pulse ox was very good. In cardiac ICU, they have one patient per one nurse, so we know that she is getting undivided attention. She will probably be moved to the step down unit tomorrow sometime.

We have all been SO impressed with ****** Hospital. They have been extremely professional and have kept us completely informed of every little thing. Not only have they taken excellent care of mom, but today they made sure that we were comfortable and right on top of things. We can't say enough good things about the staff and facility. Everyone we came in contact with introduced themselves to us and told us what their role was. They each asked us if we had any questions or concerns after they finished telling us what they needed to. Mom even said the other day that the food was pretty good too!

She will probably go off the vent sometime tonight or early tomorrow, and get the tube out of her throat. Probably sometime tomorrow morning she'll get the central line out and they plan on having her up in the chair twice tomorrow and walking on Friday! She will have NO external stitches! Modern medicine just continues to amaze me...

Thank you all for the prayers and good far they've worked in our favor!

February 1, 2007: Hi everyone...I just got home from the hospital a little while ago, and Mom is doing pretty well. She is still in CVSICU (cardiovascular surgery intensive care unit) but will probably be moved to the step down unit in the morning. She was still on the vent when I got there because she was not breathing deeply enough on her own. Although she was able to breathe on her own, it wasn't deep enough. I was able to talk to her and she could nod or shake her head "no" in addition to wiggling her toes and squeezing my hand. One of the anesthesiologists came to see her and checked everything out, then told the nurse to take out the vent. They asked me to step out for that, so I took a little walk. When I got back she was looking so much better. She was even opening her eyes a little and trying to mumble. Over the next couple of hours her slurred speech improved and she was able to communicate a little more. She said she was not in any pain, but was just so tired. She still sounds like a drunken sailor too!

She commented at one time that if she had known it was going to be this rough she wouldn't have had it done. Uh, sorry Mom, it was going to be done. Period. Then she said that she felt like hell. I told her that she'll feel a little better each day.

She grinned and almost chuckled when I told her that Dad had to take care of a few things at home today. He discovered last night that he had a tire going bad on the car, so he had to deal with that this morning. When he got home, he realized that the furnace had quit working, so he had to call the repairman for that and wait while he came. I told him not to bother coming up (He had called the nurse to see how Mom was and when she was finished talking to him, she gave the phone to me.) today because (at that time) she still had the vent and o.g. tubes down her throat. He really couldn't handle seeing her like that, so if he waits for tomorrow things will be much better for him.

I was absolutely amazed at how much she improved from the time I got there a little before noon until when I left at almost 5 pm. She had gotten some ice chips and had done the spirometer, or however you spell it, a few times. That's the thing that you have to breathe into and make the stupid ball go up, so you don't get pneumonia.

At one point I asked her if she knew what day it was and she said it was Wednesday. I told her it was Thursday and she turned and looked at me, like she didn't believe me! I told her that she basically lost an entire day. She asked what time it was and I told her it was around 2:45, and she didn't believe me. The nurse verified the information. Then she asked me why I didn't go home. I asked her if she thought it was 2:45 am and she said YES. Oh my...this is really good stuff to keep in mind for a later date, hahaha!

Anyway, she's doing much better and will probably be moved to step down tomorrow morning. Again, thank you for all the prayers and good thoughts!

February 2, 2007: Well this afternoon around 3:00 pm Mom was finally moved out of CVSICU and into the Step-Down unit. She's still sleeping most of the time and the anesthetic is very slow to get out of her system. She had trouble last night swallowing some pills and couldn't eat any jello, so apparently they had to put another tube in her today. Dad went and spent the afternoon with her and is still there at this time. I stayed home today and tried to get caught up on things here and did some laundry for Dad. I called her room a little after 3 and spoke to Dad. Mom was "with it" enough to direct him to answer the phone when it rang, so that's a good sign. None of us (including her) knew how sensitive she was to anesthetic, but now we do, and that's something to keep in mind in case she ever needs it again.

Hopefully she'll snap out of this soon...and be back to her old self, resuming her matriarch role in the family! I can say though, without a shadow of a doubt, that Dad has really stepped up to the plate and has taken care of things at home very well. I'm really impressed with him!

February 3, 2007: Mom seems to be doing a little bit better. She went for two very short walks today, down the hall a few yards. She also sat up in the chair for a while. She has a feeding tube in her nose and the yummy white liquid stuff that they had to put into her tube (can we say YUCK?!?!) was making her nauseous. Apparently she threw up before Ted and I got there for her earlier feeding. She was also a little light-headed. In addition to all that, she was in atrial fib again.

We were there when she got a feeding around 3:00 and I mentioned to the nurse (very nicely, of course) that perhaps if she fed her slowly it might not be as bad. That's exactly what she ended up doing, and it took about 10 minutes to get a can of that stuff in the feeding tube.

Dad was there most of the day, Aunt Dolores also came to see her, and my brother was there for a little while, in addition to Ted and I. Dad left before the rest of us, and it was somewhat comical to hear him mention that he was going to stop at Buehler's to get some groceries before going home. It was suggested that he make a little list, but he swore he didn't need one. But then Spence found something to write on and wrote things down for him. On his way out the door Spence asked him if he had his coupons, hahaha. Dad is really handling things at home very well. I'm so proud of him. This whole episode has brought out a side to him that we haven't seen before. When Mom was told that she really needed to use her spirometer again (the device she has to blow into that forces her to take deep breaths to prevent her from getting pneumonia) I asked her if she wanted me to help her and she shook her head "no" and pointed to Dad. I asked if she wanted Dad to help because he was gentler with it and she shook her head "yes!" Imagine that...

Ted and I left for a while around 3:30 (we met some very good friends for dinner, who happen to live fairly close by), then we went back to the hospital around 7:00 pm. Mom was sleeping in bed, looking as relaxed as you can under these circumstances, and we didn't wake her up. She woke up on her own around 7:30 and I asked her if she was able to keep her last feeding down and she said yes. That was good news. She said that she didn't feel nauseous or light-headed. That was also good news. But the best news was that her nurse said that she converted back to normal rhythm around 5:00! Hopefully it will stay like that now.

This has been quite an ordeal for her. I feel so helpless when I see her suffering like this, and other than just trying to be there, and encouraging her, and praying for her, I don't know what else to do. None of us have ever seen her like this and even though we know that she will be feeling better soon, it's just difficult for us all. Like I said, Dad is handling it well, but you can really tell how much he loves her by how he is with her. It reminds me of how Ted was with me when I was in the hospital with my cancer surgery. Maybe we just don't give some of these men enough credit...until we find out that when push comes to shove, they CAN rise to the occasion.

Okay, that's it for today. All in all, a wee little improvement. I know this is redundant, but we all really do appreciate your thoughts and prayers...they mean so much to us!

February 5, 2007: This morning mom got her feeding tube out and it IMMEDIATELY made a HUGE difference! It's as though she started improving by leaps and bounds each hour of the day! She ate a few bites of a REAL breakfast, then again ate some of her REAL lunch, and then ate some of her REAL dinner! She went for a few walks too, and can even go to the bathroom all by herself now. It's just amazing how that darn feeding tube was holding her back in so many ways. She is doing so well now, that the surgeon has signed off on her, and when the other doctor signs off, she can actually COME HOME!!! This may even be as soon as tomorrow, believe it or not!

I know that I'm very pleasantly shocked at this turn of events, and couldn't be more thrilled for her! We all know that it's been everyone's good thoughts and prayers that have gotten her to this point, and for that we are all eternally grateful!

If she IS released tomorrow, once she feels the bone-chilling temperature of 1 or 2 degrees (that's ABOVE zero, for you folks who think 40 is on the cool side!) and a wind chill of -15 (yes, that's MINUS 15) she'll probably want to head back into the hospital for another day or so....nah, on second thought, maybe she won't!

I'll let you know tomorrow what the verdict is.

February 8, 2007: Well, I am very pleased to report that our beloved patient is FINALLY home! I was beginning to think that she just didn't want to leave the wonderful confines of ****** Hospital...I mean, after the stories she shared about her wonderful physical therapist and occupational therapist. I think she's going to miss spending quality time with them. And of course there's the fact that she just LOVED it when they woke her up every couple of hours to do this or that. (Maybe I should tell dad to wake her up every hour or so, just for old times sake, you know?).

Anyway, she was finally declared "ready to roll" this morning and they got home early this afternoon. She has very few restrictions, and that's good for her. However, she can't drive for FOUR weeks...and we know what THAT means! Not only is dad going to be taking care of a lot of things around the house, but his most important assignment will be that of chauffeur! (For those of you who may not realize it, mom would go "somewhere" every single day...I once told dad that a lesser man would take it personally! Whether it be off to the YMCA, to get the daily paper from out-of-town, or to stop and pick up the Drug Mart ad that might or might not show up in the mail on that same day, or to stop at the mall, or run to the bank, or stop by the post office...she just went SOMEWHERE!)

I spoke with her on the phone a short while ago and it's just amazing how much better she sounds! She's not out of breath as she talks and she isn't coughing all the time. She's extremely glad to be home and ready to have dad minister to her every need. I told her how well he did with things while she was in the hospital and we agreed whole-heartedly that he definitely rose to the occasion! He surpassed all of our expectations, and now that we know what he's capable of....well, let's just say that he won't have any excuses to not have that household running perfectly, hahaha!

We've all been truly blessed with the modern marvels of medicine and are so grateful for what not only those marvels, but the medical personnel who can execute them. Without the combination of those things AND your prayers and good thoughts, this entire ordeal may not have turned out as well as it has. Believe me, we are thanking God for everything right now!

And here we are a year later and she is doing absolutely FINE!! We had Mom and Dad over for dinner tonight, and even had a cake that said "Happy Birthday Valve" on it. How cute is that?!?!

And for those of you looking forward to the next chapter of "Cindi and Ted," it will be coming very soon...possibly even tomorrow!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Cindi and Ted, Chapter Two

So Ted was the guy with the concert tickets...hmmmm....I was trying to remember everything I could about him, which wasn't a whole lot. But I did recall his smile and his eyes. As I was thinking about this momentarily, Jim mentioned that the concert was on July 22.

Hey! That's my birthday!

"Sure Jim, I'll sounds like fun!"

Now in the back of my mind, I was wondering if this would ever actually happen, since things like this absolutely NEVER go my way, but thought that I had nothing to lose.

A couple of weeks later I called Jim to see if it was still a "go" and he said that it was and that Ted would pick me up around 5:00 the evening of the concert.

I had mentioned this to my folks in passing when it first happened, then in typical teenager fashion (I was about to turn 19), I didn't mention it again, because if I had mentioned it, there was a chance that they would say that I couldn't go. And I wasn't going to put myself in that situation.

My dad was on the Ohio State Highway Patrol, and as any child of someone in law enforcement can attest to, there is a different set of rules for us. We're usually brought up in a little stricter environment, because our parents have actually seen what could happen to young people. While I definitely appreciate that NOW, back then I wasn't quite so crazy about it.

So on July 22 that year, I came home from my summer job, took a bath, got all ready to go on this date, then knew that I had to face the music. I went out into the kitchen where my mom was fixing dinner and of course she asked why I was so dressed up. I reminded her that I had a date. I will give her credit... although I could tell that she wasn't real happy, she didn't say a word. I told her who I was going out with and where I was going, then went to my bedroom to brush my hair. Again.

When Ted came to the door, my mom answered and let him in. He sat down in a chair, and within a minute or so my dad came home from work. I guess it can be a little intimidating to pick up your date for the first time and her dad comes in wearing his uniform and gun. I thought it was a good sign that that didn't scare him off. Right after that I came out of my bedroom. (We lived in a ranch house, and since I'd had my bedroom door open, I was able to sort of see what was going on in the living room. The Merv Griffin Show was on TV, and Wayne Newton was his guest. For readers of this blog, you already know how I feel about Wayne, but for those of you who don't know, I love him!

Ted and I said hello to each other, then we left, after hearing the "Be careful!" from both of my parents.

I knew that Ted had gotten four tickets for this concert, so Jim was in the car too and we were off to pick up his date.

The four of us talked on the way to the concert which was a little over an hour away. We had a good time on the trip there. After we arrived and parked, we went in and found our seats. We were seeing "Climax Blues Band" and "Bad Company" and I was looking forward to it.

This was the first concert I had ever been to, so it was also rather amusing.

To be continued...

Friday, January 25, 2008

Cindi and Ted, Chapter One

Last weekend I wrote about my dateless sons ( okay, so I haven't quite figured out how to make a hyperlink look like regular words...although I think I did it one time, but now can't figure it out again, sigh). I mentioned how they inherited their lack of confidence in dating from their father. is our story.

Although I had dated several different guys throughout high school, the first "semi-serious" guy entered my life in mid May of my senior year. We dated all summer, then through our first year of college. Unfortunately we went to different universities, and that took its toll on our relationship. We broke up as our freshman year ended. It was a difficult time for an 18 year old female, thinking that this might have been "the" one, however it was clear that our time together had run its course and it would be in both of our best interests to move on.

After several weeks of not dating anyone, I was finally ready to put myself "out there" again. I happened to be at our city park (which is absolutely phenomenal for families, kids, and teens) and ran into a guy I had known from high school. Although he was a few years younger than me, we'd been in band together, so I'd known him for a long time.

We talked for a while, updating each other on our lives, as we hadn't seen one another for over a year. I told him that I was "on the market" again and asked him in a joking fashion, who I could go out with.

He commented that a buddy of his had just gotten tickets for a concert and might need a date. I thought to myself....well, I've never been to a concert, so it might be fun. I asked who the guy was, and he told me it was Ted. I had to think for a minute, then said that I remembered him from school. I described him and Jim said that I was thinking of the right guy. I thought...this really could be fun.

I was in band in high school and during my sophomore year, we were invited to play in the Astro Blue Bonnet Bowl (it no longer exists), a football bowl game played in the Astrodome in Houston, Texas. It took an immense amount of planning to get this one pulled off, but our directors undertook the challenge and made it happen! We were in Houston from December 26 until December 30 and it was obvious that the directors and band parents wanted us to not only work hard, but give us an experience we would never forget. And they did!

We stayed in a motel that was divided into buildings. Our band, the directors, and the parents who came along all took up an entire building, so we were more or less by ourselves. Until the game on December 29, we had just about every second accounted for. After the game and we got back to the motel, we finally had some free time. Oh yeah, and starting the morning of the game, a type of intestinal flu started going around the band.

THAT was just so much fun...I was the only one in my room who didn't get sick, thank goodness.

Since none of us had access to a car, we all just hung around the motel halls. There weren't all that many of us who were even able to get out of bed by that point, so it wasn't too crowded. I recall us "well" ones gathering in a certain hallway to talk. We were sitting on the floor, just having a good time.

And I recall Ted sitting in the doorway of a room, leaning back on the closed door. Yes, Ted was in band too. (He quit band after that year though.) I remember him being very quiet and shy. He hardly said a word, but would laugh quietly when something funny was said. I liked his laugh and his smile, and his eyes were really pretty.

Fast forward three and a half years....Ted was the guy with the concert tickets!

To be continued...

Monday, January 21, 2008

Joe Gibbs

Unless you're an NFL or NASCAR fan, you may not know who Joe Gibbs is.

He was the successful head coach for the Washington Redskins for 12 years, retiring in 1992. During his time with the Redskins he lead the team to three Super Bowl wins! After his football retirement, he focused on his NASCAR teams for the next 12 years, and won three championships. In January of 2004, he returned to football to again coach the Washington Redskins, and earlier this month (after a very challenging year) chose to resign his position.

Ted and I (and Alex, but not Joey) are big NASCAR fans, and when we would travel to Myrtle Beach each summer, we would spend the night in Mooresville, NC. It just so happens that Mooresville is the home to many of the NASCAR race shops, so we would try to visit a few each year. Just down the road a few miles, is Huntersville, NC, home of Joe Gibbs Racing.

One morning in late June 2003, we left our hotel in Mooresville, and headed toward Myrtle. Twenty minutes into our journey, we decided to stop in Huntersville, to see the JGR facility. It was absolutely WONDERFUL! The building is not only huge, but it's also so bright and open. We were able to look through a glass wall and see the actual shop where they build and work on the cars. The entire shop was SPOTLESS!! They had a white floor and there was not a speck of dirt anywhere!! Talk about impressive! All the employees that we came across were so kind and polite. It was such a pleasure to visit a place like this.

After we saw all that we wanted to see, we were walking out to the car. Joey was not with us, as he chose to stay home during that trip and work. Alex and I were ahead of Ted at the car, waiting for him to unlock the doors. I can recall saying to Alex, "I wish your dad would hurry up, it's so HOT!"

Suddenly I heard Ted calling my name. As I looked around at him, he said, "There's Joe Gibbs!" and I said, "Well...I think I need to meet that man!" and I promptly followed him into the building!

He stopped at the round main desk and begin to sign little pamphlets they had about him and the lessons that he's learned along the way. I went up to him, and he smiled at me, asked me my name, then handed me a signed copy. I was sooooooo thrilled! I mean, this is JOE GIBBS....JOE GIBBS!!
Alex and Ted had followed me back into the building, and after I thanked Joe, we were all walking out together. I commented to Ted, "Do you remember when we were in Bristol (for a NASCAR race) how Joe was the only 'big name' who would wave at us? All the others just ignored the fans." Ted said, "Why don't you go tell him that?"

That was all I needed...back in I went.

"Excuse me, Mr. Gibbs, I'd like to tell you something."

He stopped signing, and looked at me, in the eye!

"My husband and I were in Bristol last year and as we waited with so many others to catch a glimpse of a driver or owner, you were the ONLY ONE who took a second to wave at us. We weren't asking for a photo of anyone, or an autograph, just a simple acknowledgement to the fans. I realize that it's not that big of a deal to drivers and owners to see fans, but it's a big deal for the fans themselves."

Joe said, "It IS a big deal, and I'm thankful that the fans take the time to show their support."

I said, "Well, I just wanted to let you know how much we appreciated that wave. It meant a lot to us."

Joe said, "Thank you for telling me this. That means a lot to me."

I was grinning from ear to ear as I walked out, and he returned to autographing.

What a nice guy!!

Joe Gibbs has been nominated for the NFL Coach of the Year, and you can vote at . You'll need to scroll over to the far right to see the actual ballot. Voting ends today at 6:00 pm.

Not only is Joe Gibbs a terrific coach and fantastic car owner, but he is a God-fearing, family-loving, wonderful man!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

My Dateless Sons

This was taken in Myrtle Beach, SC, when Alex was 8 and Joey was 12.

I don't know what the problem is, but neither of my sons has EVER been on a date!

Joey is 20 and he is an old fashioned soul deep down inside. He thinks that Archie Bunker from All in the Family is absolutely right about everything. (I have NO idea where he got that!!) Anyway, I think that he is so afraid of rejection that he won't ask a girl out. He's never had a circle of friends, because he hasn't found other guys who have the same interests that he has. Can we say "lack of compromise" here??? He's so set in his ways that he gets upset when people don't see things his way. Yes, he can drive us crazy at times, but he has many good qualities too. He's a hard worker, he's very dedicated to what he decides is important. He's a good looking guy too. He never went to a high school dance, and whenever I mentioned "PROM" to him, he just cringed and said, "MOTHER!" I really do think that he's terribly afraid of asking a girl out and her saying "no" and that is what is keeping him from doing that. If I ask him if there are any nice girls in any of his classes, he tells me that he doesn't even look at them and he's taking classes for an education, that's all.

Alex is 17 and has not been on a date either. His personality is soooooooo different and I think we might be making a teeny weeny bit of progress with him. At least he is no longer having a royal FIT when I mention "PROM" to him. He just simply says, " I ain't going." (He says "ain't" because he knows that I can't stand it!) I told him that we're forming a team to get him a prom date. As you can imagine, he's not too excited about that. There are several potential prom dates in mind, only these girls don't know it yet, hahaha! He would be a great date...he's got a real sense of humor, and is very good-hearted.

They obviously inherited their lack of confidence in dating from their father...I'll explain that in my next post.

In the meantime, I'm going to keep working on Joey having his first date and Alex having his first date AND having a prom date!

I think I've got my work cut out for me!

This was taken this past October as Alex was turning 17 and Joey was 20.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Ipod Success!

Ted has spent most of the afternoon in the den on the computer. Apparently Alex figured everything out on his ipod and has been teaching his dad how to do things.

Alex even wrote out a simple set of directions that he titled "Ipods For Dummies." Ted has been sitting there, with the directions in one hand, and a CD in the other hand, ready to pop in as soon as the current one is finished.

Maybe I shouldn't have gotten him an ipod for Christmas. I think between Alex and me, we've created a monster.

However, Ted is thoroughly enjoying his ipod, so I'm not going to complain one little bit!

Thursday, January 17, 2008


Shy...a word that was only used once in reference to me. I applied for a summer job many years ago, for the Ohio Historical Society. I wanted to be a guide in a restored Christian Indian village. I sailed through the interview, or so I thought, but found out a few days later that I didn't get the job. Shortly thereafter it came to my attention that the woman interviewing me thought I was too shy for the job.

She obviously didn't know how to judge people.

It all worked out for the best, because I was then offered a position in a gift shop and didn't have to wear the long, HOT costume all summer long.

People who know me, might notice that sometimes I don't say much (okay, so it's pretty rare that I don't say much) but trust me, it's not because I'm shy...I'm usually thinking at those times. I don't ALWAYS like to put my foot in my mouth and occasionally need to think about what I'm going to say or do, before I say it or do it.

Yeah, me...shy. Right.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

It's Just a Job

I sure wish I could have that attitude...but it just doesn't work for me.

Maybe I care too much about the kids.

Maybe I care too much about our school's test scores.

Maybe I care too much about our district's, building's, and my reputation.

Maybe I care too much about wanting to be really good at a job I really care about.

We currently have a little chaos going on in our district as far as our reading intervention program is concerned. There was a big, long administrators' meeting yesterday about our program, and when our principal got back to the building, we asked her if she could tell us what was going on. She said that we would hear it this morning, at a meeting called by our coordinator. She said that we all needed to hear it at the same time, in the same way, from the same person. I'm sure that this response was discussed at the meeting, and all administrators were told to answer all questions in this way. That was probably a good idea.

This year I'm spending two afternoons a week at a different building in our district. Although the staff is wonderful, I don't really care for the time I spend there. I'm working with 5th and 6th graders and I just don't care for the age level. I was told that this was a ONE year only deal.

Next year there will be a couple of reassignments, but fortunately all that will happen to me is that I will be at my regular elementary every day, all day. In a totally and completely selfish statement, I say THANK GOODNESS!!!

However, I do feel bad for the two teachers who will be facing a new assignment, especially the one who currently spends most of her day in our building, in addition to a few hours daily at a different school.

It's so obvious that to some people who teach in our district, that teaching is "just a job" and these people come in each day, put in their time, and go home. This is how they view teaching, and it truly is a JOB to them. They are in it for the summers, weekends, and nights off. They are always looking for the easiest way to do everything.

For some reason, this aggravates me to no end. WHY are you in this field if you don't feel some passion for it??? Is there ANY job that you would feel passionate about?? Or are you just here on this earth to put in your time?

I still enjoy my job and feel that I can contribute to children's education in a big way. Yes, I still have the "passion" that I'm talking about.

That's why I'm still doing this.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Ipod, Schmipod

I got Ted and Alex each an ipod for Christmas. Due to the normal holiday confusion, only Alex got his out and messed with it. I knew when I got them that there would be issues as far as Ted was concerned, so I figured that if Alex got his figured out (an ipod Shuffle), it should be easy for him to figure out Ted's (an ipod Nano).

Well....things don't always go as planned, especially in this household.

Alex and I have been messing with Ted's ipod (with a little help from Ted) for approximately the last 6 hours. I think I might have it figured out now.

I'm not terrible at technology, but come on! You'd think that a small little device wouldn't be able to get the best of me...but it almost did!

Since Alex started with Ted's ipod, I didn't get to see any of the "first" messages that came up. Therefore, I didn't know until later that unless you click to manage your songs manually, everything that is on your itunes list will automatically go onto your ipod. I really didn't think that Ted would want to listen to old American Idol songs, but hey, who knows? (He doesn't...I found that out!)

Just trying to get it set to do things manually was a feat in and of itself.

Then came the really hard part. I had to delete all the stuff on Ted's ipod that I didn't think he'd want. It's a real trick to delete them from the ipod, but not the itunes library. The American Idol stuff is from several years ago and I really don't want those 30 songs to disappear. I doubt I could ever get them back again.

I think I finally have it taken care of and set in a way that either Alex or I can put on Ted's songs, and not everything. I had NO IDEA that ipods were this difficult to figure out!

It better be worth it!

Friday, January 11, 2008


For many years I've asked for the same thing for Christmas.

I would LOVE Alice from the Brady Bunch!

If I had someone who would run all the errands, clean the house, cook the meals, do the laundry, and take care of the grocery shopping I would be absolutely THRILLED!

Imagine no longer feeling overwhelmed...or frustrated at the lack of time...or guilty because you did laundry instead of playing a game with your kids. Just for a moment, imagine what it would be like to leave a list of errands that need run as you yourself run out the door for work, knowing that they would be finished when you got home. Imagine, again for just a moment, to know that when you arrived home from work, the aroma of dinner would be in the air, ahhhhhhhhhhh....... And just imagine, if you will, the laundry always being done.

Oh yes, Alice would be an ideal gift for anytime, not just Christmas!

I wonder how much it would cost....

Tuesday, January 8, 2008


The Buckeyes lost the National Championship Game.


For the second year in a row.

I hope we're not starting a pattern here.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Need I Say More?

BCS Game Tonight

THE Ohio State University Buckeyes

Coach Jim Tressel

The Buckeyes singing "Carmen Ohio" after the game:

Oh come let's sing Ohio's praise
And songs to Alma Mater raise
While our hearts rebounding thrill
With joy which death alone can still
Summer's heat or winter's cold
The seasons pass the years will roll
Time and change will surely show
How firm thy friendship ...

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Is This Not the CUTEST Baby in the Whole Wide World?!?!

This is Michael, our nine and a half month old great nephew. Isn't he absolutely adorable?? The coat he has on is one of the Christmas gifts we got him, and the hat that matches it so well was one of the Christmas gifts from AP and UT.

Those baby blue eyes are going to melt some girl's heart down the road.

Saturday, January 5, 2008


I'm finding out that more and more men are like my husband and older son when it comes to phones.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Scene 1:

The phone rings.

Ted: Don't answer it. I hate phones.

Me: It's "so-and-so" and it'll be for you. (we have caller ID)

Ted: I'm not here.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Scene 2:

The phone rings.

Ted: See who it is.

Me: It's so-and-so.

Ted: Well hurry up and answer it. (the answering machine kicks in during the 4th ring)

* * * * * * * * * * *

The phone rings.

Ted: Why are people always calling us? I'm getting rid of that phone.

I usually just ignore this one.

* * * * * * * * * * *

When I call home from school and either Ted or Joey are here, I swear the phone is only answered about 10% of the time. They both detest phones and just won't answer them. In our basement we have 10 rooms. One room is Joey's workout room. There is no phone in there, as per his request. If he's down there in that room and the phone rings, he always has the excuse "I didn't hear it." He also refused to have a phone put in his bedroom. It took over a year for Ted to finally agree to put a phone in his "guitar room" down there. I told him that there might be an emergency sometime and it would be imperative that he answer the phone. He still rarely answers it if he's down there though.

We have a phone in the laundry room, but the caller ID doesn't work on it because the batteries need to be replaced. A couple of weeks ago, I was in there with Joey and the phone rang. He immediately asked who it was. I told him I didn't know, and proceeded to answer it. He was SHOCKED that I answered the phone without finding out who it was first! Come on now... that's a little ridiculous.

Today's youth has no idea what it's like to NOT have caller ID, or to have to use a "party line" God forbid. Oh my, that would really be hilarious! I barely remember party lines myself, but I could see plenty of problems with kids today if they had no cell phones and only a party line at home! And imagine if they had no push button and had to put their finger in a hole and move the dial!

Who checks the caller ID or the answering machine after we come home from somewhere? ME. I got the biggest kick last night. I was in the den working on the pictures that we have on the computer, trying to get them all organized into files and putting them in chronological order. It was well after 9:00 pm.

I hear Ted come in from out in the garage and mumble something about the answering machine. (He had been home all day, as he had taken a vacation day.) He presses the button on the machine and it's a message from work. He was to call the shop by noon today to tell them how many hours he actually worked this week. Suddenly I hear, "I didn't know anyone called. I never saw this blinking before. When did they call? Why didn't I hear it?"

I wanted so badly to say something along the line of "you have selective hearing" or "you never answer the phone anyway" or "you always depend on someone else to take care of the mundane things in life, like checking to see if there are any messages." But instead, I said nothing and just sat here grinning from ear to ear.

He has a cell phone for work and I've actually witnessed him tossing the phone when it rings, sort of like the "Hot Potato" game we played as kids.

Someday he'll miss a REALLY important call and that might make him change his tune.

But then again, maybe not.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Mission Accomplished, Part ONE

This morning when I got to work and noticed how cluttered and trashy my desk looked, I vowed that I would not leave the building today until it was cleaned off.


Of course I really couldn't get a lot done until after school, so that's why I didn't get home until after 6:30 pm. But it was really worth it.

I don't like to leave on Fridays until my plans are all set for the following week, because you just never know what can happen on a weekend. Usually I get my plans done on Friday afternoons because that's my scheduled planning time. It takes about 3-4 hours to get everything ready for the following week, so I try to start on Wednesday or Thursday during lunchtime. I have to decide which books I'll be using, based on the needs of the students, so it can sometimes take a while to find the right book on the right level. Then I need to read the book, decide on the skills that I will emphasize and then make notes for myself as to what all I want to do with that particular story. After doing that, I have to make copies of the books I'll be using (I can use up to 4 a week, depending on how things go), along with any worksheets or quizzes. With third grade, I also like to create a skill sheet based on the skill they will be emphasizing that week. That doesn't usually take too long unless it's an "offbeat" skill like text structure...or generalizing...or something like that. Once all that stuff is done, I have a plan chart that I fill in for easier reference, and then a lesson plan grid with more detail. Then for each book I do, I create a 4 day lesson, with specifics on what I'll do each day, along with any homework I'll assign.

And that's why it can take 3-4 hours to do my plans and do them right. I used to do them in less than an hour, but they just didn't give enough information so that I could do my job effectively. The way I do them now helps me to be a better teacher. Of course I'm always willing to go off "the beaten path" and "wing it" with anything that comes up during the lesson.

As usual, I'm totally off the topic....I had papers and stuff piled all over my desk and table and I knew that today was the day to take care of it. So I did. It took a lot of hard work, a lot of time, and a little bit of chocolate, but I finally got to the point where I could see my desktop. Then I cleaned it with some spray cleaner and I feel SOOOOOOOO much better about it now!

When I go into work on Monday, I'll have a clean desk to start the week and it will make everything go much smoother!

(It's amazing what certain things can do for my outlook on life!)

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Family News

My cousin Damon has been dating a very nice girl for a couple of years, and when they were here at Thanksgiving, I took him aside and asked him about the status of "things." He told me that he was going to be "popping the question" sometime fairly soon. I just told him that he shouldn't do it at Christmas because it's a special event all in itself and the ring should not be considered a Christmas gift.

He said he already knew that.

Smart man.

Then I told him to let me know when it happened....and true to his word, he called me just after I got home from work today and told me that he and Cathy are now officially engaged!

He asked her on New Year's Eve, right at midnight (what a romantic!). He said that he thought that she thought he was teasing, so he asked again. Then he mentioned something about not being down on one knee, so he got down and asked a third time. Apparently by then she realized that it was the REAL thing and was crying!

I asked Damon if he feels "the magic" when he's with her...and he said "absolutely!" That's fact, that's great!

They are looking at getting married in a couple of years, as they have some bills to pay off and want to save up for a big shindig....I can hardly wait!

Damon used to work for the Professional Bowler's Association, setting up tournaments and events. While he was working for them a few years back, the tour went to Japan and he spent some time with some of the local businessmen.

Often we "see" Damon in Alex...the mannerisms, how he talks, how he can B.S. his way through just about anything (Alex is still working on that one!), and the clothes thing.

We're just thrilled that we'll have a family wedding coming up in a few years. It's been a while, so this is definitely something to look forward to!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Not a Follower

Since I've been on Christmas break, I've been reading a few other blogs that I've never read before. I've got to be honest...some of them are downright trashy. I completely respect the writer's right to say what they want, how they want, and I have a right not to read it (which I am exercising).

Some of these people let the really (and I mean REALLY) foul language fly. Some can get extremely graphic in their descriptions of various things. This is their choice and they can do what they want on their blog.

I've chosen not to follow their lead. I try to keep the language pretty clean here, and if I do go into detail about things that might make some people squirm, I usually try to warn them ahead of time.

As I've said before, this is MY blog and I will write it in such a way that when my parents, other relatives, and friends read it, I will NOT be thoroughly embarrassed. For the most part, I've succeeded in that.

I guess I'm just disappointed that some people take trash to a whole new level. HOWEVER, as I've said before, that is THEIR choice. They are free to exercise their right to free speech.

As am I.