Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Go Blue April 2, 2011

I do not personally know any children with Autism, but I follow a few blogs of and have a few FaceBook connections to a few Mom's with Autistic children.

Sometimes their stories make us laugh.
More often their stories break our hearts.

Go Blue April 2, 2011

Fab Friends Thursday Blog Hop

If you are looking to increase Blog traffic, Blog hops are a neat tool to do so.

To join the Fab Friends Thursday Blog Hop, here's what you do:

1. Become a follower of the fabulous hosts: All That Glitters: Girly Fashion Trends, Hip Chick’s Guide to PMS, Pregnancy and Babies, and Kid’s Audio Book Review via Google Friend Connect.

2. Place their Fab Thursday Blog hop button in a blog post. This way, people have a place to comment when they follow you. (link to one of the hosts to grab their button)

3. Add your blog’s URL and blog name to the list on the blog hop post of the co-host's pages. (Click on the “Add your link” button and fill out your URL, blog’s name, and email, and click “Next step.”)

4. Follow Anyone Who Follows You. Always leave a comment with your URL on their blog, so that they know where to follow you back.

5. Have fun!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Babies Babies Babies!

WOW! Ok, so I had my babies at 17, 21, 27, 30 and 34. I started early and at 40 I am cresting the hill. I can almost see the other side and I LIKE it. I never  thought I would say that, especially given the fact that I was PISSED OFF that Hubster actually followed through with the vasectomy! It was my idea, but really I did not think he had the balls (har har har) to do it! In fact I was so certain he would back out, I sent him on his own to the Dr. Meanwhile, I took our 2 month old (at the time) baby to the shopping mall and got her ears pierced. I stayed out ALL DAY and had a blast. When I got home, he was all iced up and looking pitiful, and I was stunned. Truly, utterly astounded. I think no one was more surprised than I was that I was suddenly ANGRY about this turn of events. Being a MOM and having babies was an integral part of who I was and I was unable to separate the two, for a while. Eventually I came to realize that it was for the best and I forgave Hubster for having bigger balls that I thought he had. As near as I can tell, he forgave me for doubting strength and quality of his balls.

A couple years ago, a girlfriend I have known since JR. High age got pregnant with twins. We were all ecstatic over this news, because she had fought hard to get babies at all. About the same time frame, a friend from my childhood neighborhood FB-mailed me to say she was having a baby. My best friend from High School chatted me on FB to tell me his wife was pregnant with their first baby AND he also said that his brother's wife had just had their first baby. Shortly after that, yet another JR. High girlfriend announced her pregnancy -- again we were all ecstatic as hers was also a hard won baby. Last month said HS bestie's wife had twins -- imagine 3 babies under 2!!!! I would be in the nut house! The sister of a guy I dated in High School announced on FB that her 4th baby is turning 1 today -- and that is actually what set off this post. The list goes on and on. There must be about 5 more peers with new babies that I can think of off the top of my head.

Out of all the old friends who were the closest, I was the second from the youngest. No one else was really having kids when I was. They were all going to college, bar-hopping, dating etc... while I was giving up a baby, then changing diapers, looking for Pre-Schools and eventually getting married.

I was a wild child and I learned not too long ago that some of my friends thought I was "cool" way back when. I was both flattered and disbelieving as I am 100% certain I was anything but cool. I gave up my wild life to become a whole new me. Actually it was the same me with a different status. With that, I found myself somewhat separated from all my old friends. In time some began wandering back for more frequent and meaningful periods of time. I was glad to have them back. Then we moved 800 miles away and they all started having babies. I mean really the floodgates just opened up and whoosh babies babies babies!

I am not jealous of them. Usually. Sometimes I get wistful about a baby, but I am glad to be past the diapers and formula and to finally have some me time. Now I just need to figure out what my me time means to me and how to utilize it.

I am happy for all my friends that they have their babies and are in that wonderful place. I remember it well and it really is a wonderful place to be. I just wish I was able to relate to them. Instead I find I am once again in a completely different place and have completely different things on my mind. Hubster and I are more concerned with his bad knees, paying for all these kids to go to college, where to retire AND what kind of house he will build me when we retire! (No pressure there! LOL!)

I went in search of Blogger groups to see if I could find Mom's in the same boat as I, but instead found more of the same -- Mom's with younger families. I read the blogs and they are interesting for what they are, BUT they are about things I am not in sync with anymore. Car seats, diapers, baby bumps, mini-vans etc...

I am at an impasse and I am searching for the right direction to go. Nothing is really ever easy, so I suppose I should have expected I would not fond the answer to my problems right away... BUT a girl can hope, right?

Friday, March 25, 2011

What I am reading...

I just began the book UNBROKEN, by Laura Hillenbrand.

I absolutely loved Seabiscuit's story as a kid and rider of horses. When L.H. wrote Seabiscuit, I was equally excited and worried. Until you read a book for yourself, you just don't know how you feel about it. Reviews mean little to me as a reader. I have read reviews for books (and movies for that matter) that were glowing, yet I thought the praise was unwarranted. Same has happened in the reverse. So... Reviews by others I use for interest only. I decide on my own what I like and why -- which is how it ought to be I.M.H.O.

Anyway, I really enjoyed the writing style of L.H. and when I happened upon Unbroken in the bookstore recently, I plopped it in my already overflowing basket. It is early in the read and our main man Louis "Louie" Zamperini has been called up with the rest of the flying team he trained with. They are headed out in their "Flying Coffin" aka B-24 Liberator, dubbed "Superman".

Thus far I have enjoyed coming to know the character that is Louie Zamperini. In fact, I think I would love  to meet this man. Obviously I doubt that will happen, but if he is written accurately, he would be an amazing person to listen to.

If you have read this book or are planning to -- please let me know what you think, as I'd love to see what others come away from it with.

Editor's note:
A link has been removed that was irrelevant to the book.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

In sickness and health...

When you get married, and if you say those words during the ceremony, do you ever really think of the impact they may have? I know that, for me, the ceremony and the words were all a blur. The only really important part for me was the pronouncement that my man and I were indeed now Hubster and Wife.

I was approximately 12 to 13 years old when I started smoking. When my oldest was 11, she was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma. She was suddenly not a candidate for the future smokers of America club, so I really did not worry about her smoking -- still don't truth be told. I had quit six weeks prior to her diagnosis and was doing really well with that -- until the diagnosis. The stress and anxiety was too much for me and I needed to smoke. Now, I look at my 12-1/2 year old son and think that there is no way I can picture him doing anything as remotely stupid as smoking -- and he can pick some doozies when he tries... The maturity level of my son vs. how I feel like I was at his age are FAR FAR different!

Early in our marriage, Hubster said something very important to me. The gist of it went like this:
I will say this to you only once and then I will never nag you about smoking. I want to grow old with you. I want to have a long future with you. I want to have a life with you after kids are grown and gone. I want to travel with you to places we cannot get to now.

These things he said had the desired effect of worming their way into my head. Often they would return at odd and unexpected times. I quit every pregnancy after that and managed to make it a few days or weeks after having a baby. Unfortunately, I struggled A LOT in my motherhood and the stress usually got the better of me. In 2004 we had thought we were finished having kids. Our daughter had gone through chemo and was getting back to her life. Somehow, birth control had been neglected. I am sure you are shocked to know that I found myself pregnant with kid number 4! I quit smoking and assumed that I would be smoking again in about a year.

Baby C came along and afterward, though I struggled again with my life changing, I had an unexpected reaction to the smell of smoke. It made me feel sick during pregnancy -- every time so that was how I was able to quit, BUT this time it had the added benefit of sticking around long after the baby was born. To this day, 6.5 years later, I still get queasy around the smell and cannot stand to be anywhere near it.

Each pregnancy has it's own issues. I never really gained much weight with any of them -- the recommended 20 pounds, if that, was about it. My problem was and still is that I never lost any of it after giving birth. Don't misunderstand... I did try. I walked. I swam. I gardened -- a lot. I took jazzercise. I took riding lessons and had to do the requisite physical labor involved with caring for the horse as part of it. I ate like a bird and still plugged along with no change. I tried not eating after 7 p.m. and then tried not eating after 6 p.m. with no change. I tried goofy diets, and Dexatrim type stuff. No change. At one point, I was diagnosed with post-partum depression and they put me on Zoloft. I gained 20 pounds in less than a year. I was switched to Lexapro and gained 20 pounds per year for the 2 years I was on that. I tried to quit taking the medications altogether but that had negative results in other ways and did not cause me to lose any weight anyway. My latest doctor switched me to Wellbutrin last year. I lost 14 pounds in the first 2 weeks! I was SUPER excited about that. Not that the weight loss continued, because it did not. Over the past year since, I have slowly inched back up to the weight I was before Wellbutrin. Not for lack of activity either. I was even in PT for a while and they worked me hard and I was super good about accomplishing all my home requirements. No change.

Some people ask me why I don't try Alli or some of the other fat blocker medications out there. I cannot take these, because I have no gall bladder. I would never leave the bathroom! It would be like living with a daily dose of colon cleanse. I cannot live that way and should not have to either. Besides that would be unhealthy for its own reasons. I don't have thyroid problems -- yet anyway, they check every year because my Mom has Hypo-Thyroid. I don't have a B-12 deficiency like my Mom either. I had a full blood panel done, no issues -- and was even checked for a Vitamin D deficiency and that was negative as well. No underlying infections. Nothing!

Hubster has also gained some weight since we married. Much of his is directly related to the torn meniscus in his knee. So far none of the orthopedists he has seen have been able to improve his problem and so he has pain which is exacerbated with too much physical exertion. On top of that he needs new knees, which there is no point in replacing if he cannot get the other resolved.

Needless to say we are a pair of rejects that need some solutions and are not getting anywhere with the medical community thus far. I told Hubster recently that I wanted him to think back to that day when he said those wonderful things to me about our future. I told him to keep those words in mind and know that I want the same things as well. I also said that I intend to nag about it for both our sakes. So, we now must embark on a journey. Somewhere out there, there must be a doctor who can help his torn meniscus and then his knees. A doctor who can define the causes of my weight issues and maybe then find a resolution that I can apply to my life.

I want to live a long and happy life with Hubster and he says he wants the same. So, in sickness and in health we will somehow find a way, I just hope neither of us dies trying, because that would ruin things for sure!

Editor's Note:
Some minor edits have been made to this post.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

I've got things to do, BUT...

Instead of doing them I am sitting here at the laptop, drinking my coffee and trying to find an iota of give-a-crap to get me moving. I suppose I am making excuses for not cleaning house, which I TOTALLY need to do before we have our Spring Fling cookout on Saturday.

I think I am just plain exhausted from the weekend. We did some necessary spring yard clean-up , dug up a pipe buried about 3-4 feet under heavy mud AND hauled our chainsaw over to the tornado house to chunk up the downed tree limbs. When we arrived , the homeowners were picking away at the enormous debris pile left by their roof in the neighboring yards. Needless to say we joined in and not long after that there were a good dozen of us volunteers out there hauling roofing, trusses, guttering and soaking wet drywall. It was a lot of hard work, BUT it was a great feeling of community. I think our friends were a bit overwhelmed -- yet again -- by the fact that we all just pitched in unasked.Yesterday, Hubster took off work for some Doctor appointments in the morning. When we got home, we went back and helped load more debris into the new dumpster. I am so sore now, but it is a good sore -- at least that is the line Hubster and I are feeding each other! HAHA! =]

Sooooo, while I am not feeling much inclined to get a move on, I am not feeling too guilty about it either. No worries, I will feel the guilt when I am racing like a mad woman to get the house sorted before Saturday!

In the meantime, I think I might grab a book and hit the hot tub, before the rain comes!

Hope you have a great and productive day!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Our Schools and the Financial Crisis in Illinois...

I have only lived here in southwest IL for a few years. I was born in PA, but that doesn't count for anything beyond my Dad going to college there. My one true real home of all homes is Montgomery County Maryland. A suburb of Washington DC. Things are VERY different between here and there. Here, we are in the Bible Belt and if you do not (and we've already established that I don't) worship the Bible and all its various characters, you are noticed. Interestingly enough, I have met more mean spirited people here in IL who profess to be devout Christians/Believers than anywhere else I have EVER been. People here seem to be no less greedy than back home, maybe even more-so!

Greed is the official cause of this post. One just watches the news here and comes away feeling dirty. Last night the news had a story about the Cahokia School district Board's hearing  about their upcoming vote that could cost 70 teaching jobs! The article I linked does not include a lot of the things mentioned on the live newscast last night. One of those is the trip to Vegas the school board took -- all in the name of "helping" the children. I realize that teachers need help and tools and such, but THEY are the ones who should be going to these seminars, assuming that anyone should be going at all. The school board is not in the classroom! All that aside, the budget crisis here has been well discussed for the past couple years, so any trips should have never been made, knowing that there were issues with funding and that the State is in a meltdown situation.

I will not sit here and tell anyone that the school system back home is perfect, because it is far from it. However, it is run far differently than those here and I believe that the state and the individual townships here could benefit from a similar set-up. Almost every town here has its own school district and subsequently its own Board of Education. I don't know how many that is off-hand, but it is a lot! Back home, schools are run at the County level. One B.of E. in each county. State and Taxpayer monies are collected, pooled into the district coffers and distributed to the schools. Buildings are repaired, replaced, built -- sometimes not as fast as or to the degree that folks want, but that happens everywhere -- by the County School Board. I believe that the County level system benefits the students better for the long haul. If there is a school that is struggling they can add resources so they can work with and through it. When it has gotten its feet under it again, they can do it for another if needed. Additionally, because there is only one board, there is more money to run the district and distribute amongst the schools. The bus system is run by the county. They own their buses and maintenance centers and they pay the drivers salaries, thereby avoiding the additional costs associated with paying a contractor. Same goes for the cafeterias and maintenance.

The point is that the State of IL is broke, they are behind in their payments to ALL the school systems. The school boards do not seem to have any oversight to make them stop unwise spending in this time of crisis, and they are apparently OK with sacrificing the quality of education because of it. A County level district would make the Boards members accountable to a lot more people come election time. If the districts were consolidated, there would be fewer salaries to pay to School Boards and more money for teachers salaries and probably more positions as well. The teacher is the most important position in a school, after all! Another bonus is that families can sometimes get their kids to other schools that offer programs and classes that their own school does not. Our high school in the town we left in MD to move here had a Global Ecology Program that was a really big deal. Kids from all over the county were able to take advantage of it if they wanted AND the county bus system got them there. We got to choose between 2 elementary schools because one had an integrated Spanish program and a more in-depth Computer lab program, while the other had a typical curriculum -- BOTH of which were good. It just gave people some choices they may not have otherwise had.

I have an additional rant about the schools here and at home and anywhere else that has this issue to be quite frank. When I was a kid, we had PE daily and Art and Music 2-3 days a week in Elementary School. Apparently that is no longer the case at home and apparently is not done here either. The big deal over this is OBESITY! Now, probably more than any other time in history, it is vitally important to have DAILY PE! Art and music are also extremely important, because we need these kids to have more to do than just video games. Giving just a few lessons in art and music means fewer children are having the chance to be inspired and nurtured for it. This country is already losing its footing in the world and this is not helping. In this economy, for varying reasons, many parents either cannot or can no longer afford to pay the high costs associated with after school sports and so PE is the one place to get their kids some healthy controlled exercise. A burden is surely on us as parents to get the kids out from in front of the t.v., video game, computer etc... BUT the schools teach them differently than at home -- it is a more consistent education in community and socialization for the whole group than what we each do in our families. PE can help these kids, especially the high (and ever rising) numbers if ADD/ADHD kids that need to let off some energy, which helps concentration and hopefully means fewer disruptions. Recess is not enough and many schools are reducing recess so much it hardly matters. I have even heard of some eliminating it altogether.

By the time these kids get to Middle/High School where the PE is daily, they are almost all set into the patterns that will shape them for life, no matter what the talk in the classroom is about health. As with additional languages, the younger mind absorbs best and to foster good physical activities one needs to start them young -- the younger the better.

Alright all you back-HOMies... weigh in on the county school district. Especially K.T.S.W. since you work in it.

Monday, March 14, 2011

EF2 Tornado in the hood

Late Sunday February 27th into early Monday February 28th, 2011, our neighborhood experienced an EF2 tornado. It baffles me how much and how little damage weather can cause just in one small area.

Behind my home, 2 over to the left a neighbor's home lost the entire roof. The family was in bed and asleep when the parents heard the hellacious winds. At the same time, my husband and I were watching the weather radar and had moved the upstairs sleepers to the basement for safety. When the proverbial "train" came, Hubster and I were in our room upstairs and yet we felt nothing. It was all wind noise. During this same time the 4 neighbors behind us suffered varying degrees of damage. to the right rear, they lost a few fence panel, directly behind they lost a 20 yr old pine -- I believe largely due to the already wet ground. One over to the left had a piece of their fence blow over and some unknown large panel of sorts was lying across another section of it.

Other than wind noise, we heard NOTHING else. We heard no cracking, no crashing, no banging. We looked out our back door and discovered our grills had been blown over, but they were largely unharmed. Other neighbors began to poke heads out and that is when we discovered that the neighbor 2 over had lost their roof! Worse news was that the Mom, had been hurt. As she tells it, the "train" awoke her husband who shouted and jumped out of bed which awoke her. They both ran to the 2 kids bedrooms. 2 boys in each room. Grabbing her 2 little boys she was about to make for the door, when she realized that they were not going to make it to the basement. The wind was lifting the roof off their home and she says she felt herself, holding one kid under each arm, be pulled up and then slam back to the floor. The ceiling to the bedroom fell and landed on her head. She began pulling mattresses over their heads. In all this commotion a roof truss fell in and blocked their exit from the room. When the noises stopped and she realized they were alive, she shouted to see about the other half of her family. They too had all survived. Their dog wriggled in through a spot in the doorway and she and her kids were able to use it to get out.

Heading for the basement only to find it flooded, her husband realized she was bleeding profusely. When the ceiling landed on her, she got quite a laceration to her head. Suddenly, not knowing the extent of the wound made getting her to the local hospital an immediate priority. Going out to load their family into the van to race off, they found that their vehicles were not easily accessible as the garage door had been blown in. Their neighbor heard the shouting and came to see what was happening. Immediately she took charge of the kids and handed over her keys so they could race to the hospital without having to attempt to dig their vehicles from under the debris.

In the end, our neighbor is fine. She had a large area that required stitches, but she will heal and she is alive and well -- albeit emotionally battered. Her family is fine, though the kids are apparently still a bit shell-shocked. The clean-up began first thing the next day with neighbors and family pitching in. Now, they have the beginnings of a new roof, however the entire interior of their home must be gutted to the studs. Adding insult to injury, we had a thunderstorm shortly after the tornado and much was soaked through -- floors, walls and ceilings, not to mention all their belongings and furniture. The strength of the roof lifting off caused  the plumbing stack to shift and as I understand it, that was what caused their basement flood. All the electric and gas lines will need replacing because they aren't positive that things were not compromised by all the shifting. Better safe than sorry I think.

Garage door on top of vehicles and left garage wall gone completely. 
Garage saved from collapse by one lowly 2x4 that managed to hang on through the storm.

Above gutter line, the only things to survive were some of the chimney and the apparently well installed t.v. antenna

Viewed from my backyard, the panel lying on the fence turned out to be the wall of the garage!

2 Neighbors behind us with just fence damage and a felled tree.

Hard to see, but we the next morning, we discovered we had only lost a few shingles on our roof.

Surely in the retelling of this story, I may not have gotten all the details100% correct, but I believe I have gotten them pretty darned close. The most important part is that in the end, all were OK and for that we are all grateful!

We moved to this area in August of 2006. When we bought this house in spring 2007, we had been aware of a tornado that had visited the town  and more specifically this neighborhood. That one ran between our side of our street's homes and those of the street behind us -- essentially following the drainage field that travels between us and the rear neighbors, the beginning of which is visible in the photo of the felled tree. We had to remove the trees from our backyard, because they had been damaged significantly by the storm. At the time of the 2006 storm, it was said there had not been a tornado in this town in about 60 years. Now in the span of 5 years we have had 2 very near to the same location... Go figure.