Sunday, December 26, 2010

Sick on Christmas

Christmas is supposed to include candy canes and mistletoe. But, this year, my Christmas included sneezes and coughs. I’ve been dealing with a nasty cold and have been taking DayQuil. Unfortunately, it has taken some time before the relief from symptoms were an actual relief. All the same, I swallowed the pills on Christmas morning and hoped for the best.

The night before Christmas, Jennifer was too excited to sleep. We had to keep sending her back to bed. This had me wondering if she was going to be up bright and early on Christmas Day. Nope! Actually, I was the first one up yesterday. And, believe me, I cherished that “calm before the storm”! So I let the dog out, made coffee and made sure everything was in order. Then Jennifer finally woke up and, after seeing the presents and getting all excited, she ran to wake her brother up. Both kids started getting all excited around the tree and I reminded them we needed to wake up their dad before we opened gifts. I waited until 8, then I told them to go wake him up.

As if on cue, the coughing and sneezing hit me with a fierceness when we sat down to open gifts. Jennifer played Santa. Because Jesse wanted to help pass out gifts, too, he was designated as her elf. It was cute watching her read the labels, handing him a gift and telling him who to give it to.

Jesse got a lot of toys for Christmas this year, but also a good supply of new clothes. Jennifer also got new clothes, as well as a chess game, books, art supplies and a snow globe (which she’d had her eye on for months). She also wanted just one big thing for Christmas, if nothing else on her list: A Nintendo DS. She was disappointed that it was not among her gifts. When she unwrapped an Atari game console she could hook up to the TV, I thought hubby had no luck in finding the DS. (We could only find the DSi and DS Lite, but not the regular DS.) But then he said there was one more gift for Jennifer hidden under the tree. She had to go hunting for it. I thought it was cute he had hidden her special gift, but he didn’t stop there! Not only had he hidden it but … he’d overwrapped it!! Jen opened one gift bag after another and another and another until she got to the box. Which was a box within a box! We kept laughing over her little obstacle in trying to unwrap her secret special present. Finally, after the third unwrapping of a box, she had her REAL present. And she was ecstatic to see it was the Nintendo DS! Hooray! He’d found it! She was walking on air. So excited she FINALLY got a Nintendo DS.

Now I must include a side note here. Up until now, I have banned video games from our home. I did this because I was worried about Jennifer becoming a video game addict. I don’t want to be one of those moms who let their kids play video games all day! But, see, the key word here is “let.” It’s up to the parents to draw the line on that kind of thing and curb the video game addiction. Nip it in the bud before it gets worse! Since I have been doing this with Jennifer and her computer games, I have come to realize I can probably do this with her video games, too. And as if to test this idea, I had to tell her absolutely NO video games at the dinner table when we sat down to dinner that night, and told her to set it down. (Hubby didn’t help my cause much. He picked it up and started playing it, too! I had to remind him that I was trying to set an example here.) So now we have video games. I will just have to make sure it does not become an addiction.

As for me, Santa (hubby) brought me the file cabinet I wanted. My sister, Millie, got me the flannel PJs I wanted. (Thanks, Millie and Allison!) And I also got chocolate covered and flavored sweets! Yay! (Thank you, Bob and Kathy.) I also got the Jovan perfume I wanted (again, from hubby), a Fred Meyer gift card, more chocolates from hubby, and bath salts (thanks, Stephanie!). We also got a beautiful crystal palm tree ornament – again, from Millie and Allison. It is so pretty. The palm tree reminds me of my desert home, so it’s meaningful to me. (I guess the California desert will always be my home no matter where I go!) I was really moved by this gift. It’s beautiful. Another “family gift” from them were, you guessed it, chocolates! (We’re big chocoholics in this house!)

One thing I wanted to get hubby for Christmas was a tool cart on wheels. It also had a locked drawer on it. Even though it was marked down, I could still not afford it. I was really bummed about that. But he was happy with the creeper I got him. I could not wrap it -– the box was too big! Jennifer got him an auto first aid kit. I advised her to get him one that has flares in it, but none of the stores here had any! So I got online and was lucky enough to find one on (Good thing I shopped early this year!) Jesse got him a waterproof pouch for his cell phone. He also got a movie, as did the children.

After the gift business was taken care of, it was time for breakfast. Every Christmas, we have cinnamon rolls for breakfast. However, because I’m sick this year, I just wasn’t up to baking cinnamon rolls. So I told hubby to get a pack of them from the bakery at the store. He got the kind with cream cheese icing – which are heavenly, actually. I lubs them! But Jennifer … did not. She didn’t care for the cream cheese icing. I felt bad. I felt like I ruined her Christmas breakfast tradition! Was I being selfish on account of being sick? That’s a guilty feeling I really wrestled with. We also had the movie A Christmas Story on during breakfast, which was also part of that Christmas breakfast tradition. At least she still enjoyed the movie.

The medicine seemed to kick in, finally. I had enough strength to do dishes, laundry, make beds and do some other assorted chores around the house. I also managed to go to the grocery store. After I got home, I baked a pizza from the store while Jennifer’s friend, Michael, visited. Then he left and we ate lunch. After that, my strength had left me. I crashed on the couch. I don’t know how long I slept – probably not that long – but after I woke up, I was refreshed and ready to go again. I used this new burst of energy to make Christmas dinner: Ham, mashed potatoes, corn, carrots and dinner rolls. (I made corn AND carrots because one child wanted one veggie and the other child wanted the other veggie.) Jennifer couldn’t get enough of the ham, even though it was not a traditionally baked ham. (Again, me being sick, I wasn’t up to that.) After dinner, we had pumpkin pie, then the kids had their baths then got into their new PJs that was part of their Christmas present from their paternal grandparents.

I didn’t take any pictures for Christmas. I know parents usually do this, but I did not even THINK about taking pictures, because I was so “out of it’ with my darn cold. Even if I had some physical strength here and there, my head was just too congested and foggy.

I keep telling myself that next year will be better. Next year, we’ll have lights on our house for Christmas. Next year, we’ll have an area rug under the tree so that any glass ornaments which fall won’t break on the hardwood floor. Next year, I’ll get hubby the gift I WANT to get him. Next year, I’ll send out the cards early, and start shopping early, too. (I’ve entertained the idea of shopping for Christmas all year.) Next year, we’ll have more Christmas decorations and Christmassy stuff in our home. Next year, I’ll be able to afford buying gifts for EVERYONE in my family. (All 46 people – unless there are more babies!) Next year, we’ll make homemade gingerbread men that taste AWESOME! And homemade sugar cookies that are Christmassy and taste better than the ones we got from the store! Next year, we’ll have a garland on the fireplace mantel. Next year, I will remember to take pictures of the children opening their Christmas presents on Christmas Day. Next year, we’ll have the usual kind of cinnamon rolls for our traditional Christmas breakfast. Next year, we’ll have Christmas music playing in the house!

And, next year, I won’t be sick on Christmas.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The gingerbread men mystery

Every Christmas season, Jen and I get together in the kitchen for our annual baking of gingerbread men. That’s exactly what we did last night, but this year, our bonding moment didn’t turn out so well.

All I can say is, I am so glad I did not end up taking this year’s gingerbread men to her school, as we planned to do, because this year’s batch just tasted awful.

But the thing I don’t get is, what had happened? Where did we go wrong?

See, we normally use a boxed mix to make our gingerbread men. This year, however, I came across a recipe and thought, why don’t we make the gingerbread men from scratch this year? I got excited about this prospect, because I’ve never made them from scratch and I always want to learn how to make something or other from scratch. And when I told Jennifer about this idea, she go excited about it, too. Still, hubby ended up buying the box mix all the same. I promptly deposited it into the cupboard, determined to make gingerbread men from scratch that would rival any box mix.

So we got the necessary ingredients, I got out the rolling pin, and we set to work. The recipe says to leave the dough in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, but we ended up leaving it in there much longer. Something like 2 hours or so. (Maybe that’s where we went wrong?)

Because Jennifer is an aspiring chef and because she’s so eager to learn this cooking and baking stuff, I let her do the bulk of the work in kneading and rolling out the dough. She also cut out almost all of the cookies. She learned about using flour on the surface, rubbing flour onto the rolling pin and using flour on your hands so the dough won’t stick to them. She had a hard time standing the heat of the oven when she had to put the cookie sheet in, and I reminded her to ONLY touch the pan and NOT the oven or the racks if she is not wearing a mitt when putting the pans inside. After the cookies were done, we let them cool and she decorated them herself. You can see some of her work on here.

One of the cookies broke during handling. I laughed it off and told her that we get to eat the mistakes. Wow, what a mistake it turned out to be! And not just as something that broke or had a decoration goof on it. I broke off a piece of the cookie and tried it. It didn’t taste very good. In fact, it tasted horrible. I gave hubby a piece to try and he agreed it didn’t taste good, either. Well, at least I knew now it wasn’t just me and some kind of mutant taste buds preventing me from enjoying a cookie! Even Jennifer tried it (the chef MUST do a taste test, after all) and she didn’t like it, either. Still, she kept decorating all of them. While I enjoyed her decorations, I kept trying to think of what to do with these yucky cookies. Was it too late to use them for decoration? How does that work, exactly? I wouldn’t donate them; they don’t taste good, so why give them away to people who wouldn’t even be able to enjoy them? Should I trash them? They looked too cute to toss into the garbage.

For the time being, they are stored in the refrigerator. And as I try to figure out what to do with them, I’m also trying to figure out what exactly went wrong. Why don’t they taste good? We used safe food handling. The surface they were rolled out on was clean. I suppose the rolling pin was clean – though not entirely sure there. There hadn’t been anything accidentally added to the dough, and we had followed the instructions. So what had gone wrong?

Maybe it was just a bad day to make things from scratch. If you looked at the picture in the link, you could see the corn muffins that I also made from scratch last night. They didn’t taste good, either. Actually, they were bland. Flavorless.

Maybe it is just the recipe itself. Maybe I should just keep looking and trying until we find one that is perfect.

And, meanwhile, stick to the box mixes.

Friday, December 17, 2010

A day of surprises

Today was Jennifer's last day of school for the year. Hooray! She took a Christmas present to her teacher but I wanted to do something to make the day even more special. So when I dropped her off at school, I said, "I might see you before school is out." Little did she know I was up to something.

I went to the grocery store after I dropped her off and browsed through the bakery department. I checked out all of their goodies. My plan was to take something from that bakery department at the store to Jen's class. Up until today, we had talked about baking gingerbread men and taking the bulk of them to her class. (We bake gingerbread men every Christmas season.) But then I remembered that the school won't allow homemade goodies -- for some reason. (I have never figured out why, or even asked why.) So I decided to get something from the bakery department at the store. I scored a tray of over 3 dozen Christmassy cookies for just $7.

The first thing I did was plan to be at Jen's school in time to join her for lunch. I got there JUST in time! So we enjoyed lunch together and played together at recess. (Well, she played. I just pushed her and her friend on the swings.) Then I brought in the cookies and everybody got happy and excited. I held the tray while Jen passed the cookies out to each child in the class. The teacher got one, too. They were all happy to get a cookie and I thought it was a nice "end of the year" treat to offer to everyone in her class.

There were leftover cookies, so I gave the rest to the office staff. they were happy to receive the cookies, too, and one secretary I've known there ever since Jennifer's first day of kindergarten gave me a hug. I was surprised by the hug. I'm not usually one to give hugs so easily because of bad experiences in the past with people who I thought I could trust. (It takes me time to warm up to people.) But her hug didn't bother me and it was just nice to have that gesture.

It was also a good thing that I went, because Jennifer's teacher needed some papers back from me and also needed me to take care of some other business.

After I got home, I was in a really good mood because it was such a pleasant experience. I was in an even better mood later in the day when my copies of the haunted houses book finally arrived. Hooray! Here is a picture of me holding one:

This is my third book out this year. Very exciting! I keep staring at it because it's still so hard to believe I started writing this book all those years ago, and what it has turned into now. It was a nice surprise to receive the books.

Later, I surprised myself when I hugged another person I barely know; The mother of one of Jen's best friends. I don't know her very well but I thought, heck, she's trusting us with her daughter for one whole night (the girl is having a sleepover here tonight), so, why not?

You know? Why not. It's just a hug. It's not THAT painful.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Weekend warrior

Today, after I gave the dog a bath, I cleaned the bathtub.

Then I realized, I'm already in here with the Comet. Might as well clean the toilet, too.

So I cleaned the toilet.

Then I realized, I cleaned the bathtub and the toilet. Might as well clean the sink, too.

So I cleaned the sink.

Then I realized, I'm already in here with these paper towels. Might as well clean the mirror, too.

So I cleaned the mirror.

Then I realized...I've cleaned the bathtub, the toilet, the sink and the mirror. Might as well clean the floor, too.

So I swept then mopped the bathroom floor.

So now I had a clean bathroom. And just think: All I did was go into that bathroom just to give my dog a bath.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

My day as a haiku

Blogged, dishes, email.
Read book Girl, Interrupted
Pizza and movie.

Monday, November 29, 2010

A lifeline

For most of the day yesterday, I’d been dealing with chest pain. I didn’t say anything about it, thinking it would go away. It was probably just gas build-up in my chest. So I didn’t worry over it so much.

Later, however, the pain became pretty intense. It got to be so bad, I had to lie down. But as I lied there, flat on the bed (I thought if I lied flat, it would help), the pain only worsened. It grew and grew in intensity. It was pretty bad. I was on hat bed, writhing and in tears, as it felt like something was squeezing my heart and growing bigger by the second.

I tried sitting straight up, up against the pillows against the headboard, but that didn’t help. I tried squatting over the side, lying on my right side, standing up against the wall. Nothing. The pain only got worse.

Then something else happened, something I’d been dreading: I could hardly breathe.

At first, my breathing came out in short gasps of air. I tried to keep that air in my lungs but, soon, I could hardly breathe at all.

“Breathe!” I instructed myself. “Breathe! Breathe! Breathe!”

I struggled for air that was quickly disappearing from my lungs. I started to panic and worry over what to do. I’d tried breathing exercises earlier but that didn’t help. And I was running out of air fast.

At one point, I didn’t even have enough air in my lungs to talk anymore.

I lied across the bed, gasping for air. As I did so, I started to remember a time I had gone through a similar episode. I was alone one evening and, all of a sudden, I wasn’t able to breathe anymore. It’s like my lungs had closed up. I’d struggled for air, even going outside to try to get some fresh air. That is where I passed out on the ground. After I woke up from that, I could breathe okay. But what had happened before then is that I had been up in the stars of the night sky. The stars had been so close that I could almost reach out and touch them. That experience had been very frightening. I shuddered as I remembered it, hoping it would not happen again. What if I didn’t wake up this time?

I started to wish someone in my family was there to help me. Millie, Allison, Elizabeth, Jeanette, Melissa, my mom – even my cousin, Carol. A familiar face. Family. I wished so hard that someone in my family was there to help.

But I was alone in this struggle to breathe. Then I realized, no, I’m not alone. I’m not. I could turn to God. And that’s what I did.

With nothing else to help me breathe again, I started to silently pray for help. I just prayed and prayed for air to return to my lungs.

Soon, the pain in my chest lessened and I could breathe again. Thank God! I sat up, breathing normally now, so thankful for this air in my lungs again. I said a prayer of thanks then got up and left the room. I went to the kitchen and drank some water. I went to check on the kids, who were in the bathroom with hubby, having their bath. I told hubby what happened and he told me to sit down. After I did that, the remaining pain in my chest disappeared.

As I sat there, I started to think of what I should have done to get some help. I know I should have run out to get help from my husband, but I didn’t have the strength. A call to 911 might have been in order – but there is no phone in that room. And, anyway, I’m not exactly 100% sure how a deaf person should call 911. I mean, we were taught in high school to dial 911, wait a few moments, then say we are deaf and what the emergency is. I am not sure if that method would be very effective.

Then I thought, what about my cell phone? What if I could text for help? Would I be able to text for help if I was having another episode of being unable to breathe?? It was still better than nothing.

I thought for a few minutes. I had to think about the very few people I know in Eugene who I text. Finally, I decided on one of the moms of Jennifer’s friends. Jen has had a sleepover at her house before and she and I often send text messages here and there. She’s an awesome lady, about my age, and very friendly. So I got my phone and texted her, asking her if she would be willing to call 911 for me if I ever needed that kind of help. When she replied, she said that she would do it and, actually, she even asked one of her girlfriends the same thing. (Is this some kind of network among friends I am unaware of? Hm.) She also said that if we needed somewhere safe to go, we were welcome at her place.

I breathed a sigh of relief and thanked her profusely. Didn’t I say she was awesome?? She rocks! What a huge relief that this is in place, for emergencies.

Now I only hope that that particular kind of emergency doesn’t happen again. This was actually the second time I have had chest pain so bad, but it was not so bad before that I ended up struggling for air. Then again, I had been taken to the ER when I had bad chest pain that lasted for a long time. (They ran all these tests and couldn’t find anything wrong, so they just gave me something for the pain.) This time, even though that latest episode ended, I’ll get it checked out by my doctor. I still have some tightness in my chest this morning, so it might be a good idea to get that checked out.

At least I have someone to reach out to for help if there are any emergencies. Thank goodness for that!

Friday, November 26, 2010

A belated Thanksgiving blog post

(I meant to post this last night but because I burned three of the fingers on my good hand, typing was not something I really wanted to do when I had the chance to type this post out. A phone call to my mom on Internet relay and a few emails were about as much typing as I was able to withstand. Thank goodness for ice packs and Tylenol. On with the blog post!)

Even though I do enjoy cooking and baking, the last time I made a large meal for my family, hardly anyone ate any of it. As it was, hubby didn't touch any of it. He just left to go back to work. That incident left me feeling not-so-excited over the prospect of making yet another Thanksgiving feast for my family. Last year, Millie and Allison visited for Thanksgiving, and the 3 of us scurried around in the kitchen, hard at work on the meal. This year, it was just me again. Another thing I did not look forward to. (It's no fun cooking a big meal by yourself.) So I awoke to Thanksgiving day feeling a little bummed. Add to this I couldn't visit with any family today.

But then after I wished my 3-year-old son a happy Thanksgiving, I asked him, "Do you want a turkey dinner?"

He got this wild look in his eyes. He grabbed his tummy with both hands and licked his lips.

That's a yes if I've ever seen one! So if it was a turkey dinner that my son wanted for Thanksgiving, a turkey dinner he would get!

That determination faded somewhat after hubby told me he was VERY sick. He spent most of the morning in bed. The day before, Jennifer got very sick, too. Her temperature was 102! Fortunately, when she woke up this morning, she was not as sick as before. She only complained of a headache. The baby had been sick with a cold, but on Thanksgiving, he was just as bouncy and mischievous as ever! After an episode of him laughing and tackling me as I sat on the couch with him, I mumbled, "I guess he's starting to feel better now." His congestion had finally cleared up and his runny nose was not as bad as before. Thank goodness that at least the children were well enough to enjoy Thanksgiving!

Still, I kept to my vow to make a big Thanksgiving meal for my family. When Jennifer saw all the things out on the countertop, her eyes widened and she said, "We're going to have a feast!" I laughed and said, "That's the idea."

My determination to make a great Thanksgiving meal was renewed later on. After the children saw the turkey in the oven, they got excited and happily danced around the kitchen.

It turned out that I was not alone in the kitchen cooking the meal after all. I had a helper. Jennifer has told me many times she wants to be a chef and she loves to help me cook and bake things. So she helped with the pumpkin pie and she was my assistant with the other items on the menu. I was certainly grateful for her help! Yet another thing to be thankful for on Thanksgiving. One of these days, who knows? Maybe she'll be making some of the side dishes or pies for Thanksgiving.

At one point, however, I was rushing about trying to get everything ready at the same time. I ended up getting a little distracted. This is where and how I burned my fingers. I grabbed a pan without realizing it had been on a hot burner and screamed as I released it. The kids and hubby came rushing into the kitchen to see me bent over and clasping my hand against my legs. I told them I'd burned my fingers and hubby was all, "Don't scream." Jennifer, however, was more sympathetic and hugged me. She helped me get an ice pack together and, while I was putting everything on the table, I was going back and forth to that ice pack because my fingers hurt so much. I also had to take turns between buttering rolls and soaking my fingers in ice water when we were all at the table. Ditto while I was eating the meal. (Thankfully, when the blessing was said, it was not a long one!)

After we ate, Jen and I were the only ones who had dessert. We sat at the table eating our slices of pie and talking about the day while hubby gave Jesse his bath. Hubby complained that I made too much food. He said, "You made enough for 10 people and there are only 4 of us." I had to smile over this. Old habits and all that. I come from a large family so I am USED to big family dinners and making big meals. And, anyway, we can be thankful for leftovers -- more food to eat for tomorrow!

Later, Jen and I shared what we were thankful for. I told her I was thankful for my children. She said she is thankful for her family.

I also thought on some other things I am thankful for.

I am thankful I got to talk with my mother on the phone. Also thankful that they were able to give a Thanksgiving meal to a family that had nothing for Thanksgiving. I am thankful that my elderly dog has been able to spend yet another Thanksgiving with us (he got extra helpings of turkey this year!). I am thankful for the chance to send ecards to certain people on Thanksgiving. I am thankful for our new home, which, even though it needs some more work (especially the back yard!), is a home that I love and especially love the central air and heating! I am thankful for a car that has a heater, even though lately it has not worked as good as before. (Must get that checked.) I am thankful for the accomplishments I have made so far this year. I am thankful we are able to live comfortably and not go hungry and that we all have a bed to sleep in and nice clothes to wear. I am thankful the children can occasionally hear from their grandparents and relatives. I am thankful for my friends -- both in real life and in cyberspace. I am thankful for the people I have worked with in the writing, editing and publishing industry.

But, most of all, I am thankful for my faith and for God being there to turn to in hard times. For answering my prayers and my concerns in His own way. For the Bible to offer guidance and wisdom. And for the second chance I have been granted in life -- for turning away from the person that I used to be and honoring that promise I made to myself to be a better person and strive to be the best I can be. With God always at my side along the way.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Counting on your fingers

In the adult world, counting on your fingers is supposed to be a sign of less-than-optimal intelligence. But in the deaf and hard-of-hearing world, those who sign use their fingers to show numbers all the time. Just as there are signs for the letters of the alphabet, there are also signs for numbers.

When Jennifer was little, I taught her the alphabet by voice and sign. I would sign and say the letters at the same time. This was repeated when I taught her numbers. We are doing this with Jesse, as well. Just as we sign letters to him, so he knows what the signs are, we also sign how to count on his fingers with each number.

When children use their fingers to count, it usually goes that they would hold up each finger and count to 10 with both hands. But for signing, we only use one hand for all the numbers.

To get an idea of how to sign the numbers with one hand, check out this video:

Anyway, I have been working with him on that. It took some time for him to grasp signing "3" the way it's done in ASL. Holding up the three big fingers for "3" is the same as the letter "W" so, for a signer, we use the middle, index fingers and the thumb for the number "3." (When hubby and I watched the movie Inglorious Basterds, I had to marvel over how a character discovered a spy based on how the bad guy indicated the number "3." He did so using the way the number is signed in ASL. I could only think that a deaf person during that part of history must have been too scared to sign "3" for fear of being accused of being a spy!) But he has finally been able to sign "3" like we do, though occasionally he reverts back to "W" instead. And, for a time, he also forgot the number "4," both verbally and physically (yes, he counted 1-2-3-5 for a while there).

Yesterday, while we were waiting to be called at his doctor appointment, I tried to keep him preoccupied by counting things. He would point at pictures of flowers and count them in each photo. He counted all 10 flowers in one picture. And he counted on his fingers correctly. I praised him and gave him a little cheer for counting to 10 both verbally and physically (the way a signer counts to 10) and he was quite proud of himself. He counted all 10 flowers again before dashing off to study something else in that waiting area.

I am glad he can count to 10 the way a signer does. Now we need to work on getting him to count higher -- both verbally and on just one hand.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

"I can't read your lips with that thing in your mouth!"

The plan was to get Jesse off of the pacifier (“binky”) when he turned 3. His third birthday has come and gone…and he is STILL using the binky! But, thankfully, we have managed to get him to understand that binky is for sleep time, not any other time. Of course, he’s so attached to his binky that he STILL tries to use it for every other time of the day. But we have been working with him on that. I just don’t want him to be one of those kids with blistered lips because he’s still sucking on his pacifier when he’s 5 years old.

Certain changes in his life have meant disposing of the binky. For one thing, he has started preschool, so on the days he goes to preschool (two days of the week), I tell him “no binky at school” before we head out the door in the mornings (on weekdays) and he’ll happily spit the pacifier into the sink (I wash them religiously so we have taught him to spit used binkies into the sink).

For another thing, he has gotten pretty talkative now – and I just can’t lipread him when he has the binky in his mouth. I have told him several times, “I can’t read your lips with that thing in your mouth.” Of course, he has continued to try to talk to me with the binky in his mouth. And, for some time, I have been telling him the same thing: “I can’t read your lips with that thing in your mouth!”

He does know some signs, and even as he tries to sign other things, he hasn’t quite mastered it yet. So for things he can’t sign, we rely on lipreading to understand what he is saying.

As often I have tried to get him to understand that I can’t read his lips when he talks to me with the binky, it really never got through to him, because he kept trying to talk to me with that binky in his mouth. I feel that, perhaps, tonight, I have finally made some progress.

After I gave Jesse his bath this evening, I had him on my bed, drying him off. He was trying to talk to me, but he had the binky in his mouth. (I had promised him he could have it back after his bath.) I stopped drying him off, got to his level, and explained in as simple language as I could that I needed to see his mouth when he is talking to me and his dad. I can’t understand him when he talks with the binky in his mouth. Gradually, I coaxed the binky out of his mouth and told him to tell me again what he said. He pointed at his leg then said that he has an owie. (He got a scratch on his leg last week and, ever since, it has been his cross to bear.) I acknowledged his owie and reminded him, as I had before, that it would go away. He got his binky back and I finished toweling him off then dressed him. After we brushed his teeth, he said goodnight to his big sister (who gets to stay up tonight because of no school tomorrow) and I put him to bed.

As I was saying goodnight to him, giving him hugs and kisses and telling him goodnight, he stood still in his crib, looked at me and said something.

“What?” I said. “I can’t read your lips with that thing in your mouth, Jesse.”

I tested his reaction as I gently pulled on the binky. He had no problem letting me remove it from his mouth. "What did you say?" I asked him. He looked at me and said, “I love you.”

I smiled. At least this was something he could sign, even with that thing in his mouth. I told him I love him, too, gave him an extra kiss then gave him back his binky. Then I reminded him that “I love you” is something he could sign. I showed him the sign for “I love you” and he did his best to sign it the normal way, not his way. But it’s close enough, and at least this way I get what he is saying whether or not I can lipread him.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

YOU again!

Sometimes, I can be so forgetful. As it was, I have been to the post office three times this week, for three days in a row. But I had a good reason to be there!

This week, I had a few things to mail: A new book contract for the signatures (yay!), a copy of one of my books I have been invited to have displayed at a book fair being held next month in Kentucky (yay!) and my sister's VERY LATE birthday present (um, yay?). As it turned out, however, I was informed on Monday that Tammie King of Night Owl Reviews shipped me a box on Monday -- BUT I forgot to give her my new address! (We moved in April.) Actually, I forgot that I EVER gave her my mailing address at all, because for a while, I was only reviewing E-books. I have since "graduated" to reviewing print books (yay!) and I was waiting to hear from her about my mailing address. Turns out, I'd given her the old one while I was at the old one. Gah! So I let her know I had a new address and she said she hoped the people at my old address would send the box back. (I didn't hold out much hope for that. When I moved, I made a list of people I had to notify of my new mailing address, but I think I forgot a few. Such as, oh, say, the editor of The WRITERS' Journal, because the magazine my article appears in was sent to my old address and, well, hasn't been accounted for since and they never got it back. They sent me another copy -- thanks, Leon! -- but who knows if that original copy was kept by the new tenants at the old addy.) So, I assured Tammie I'd ask about it at the post office the next day, since I was planning to go there to mail stuff, anyway.

See, that was my plan. But you know what they say: "Man plans and God laughs."

Sooo, I headed to the post office on Tuesday morning. Got the birthday present mailed off.

But I forgot to mail the contract. And the book. And ask about my package!!!!!

Wednesday, I was back at the post office. I mailed the book. Woot! Mailed the contract. Yeah! Buuuut.....I FORGOT TO ASK ABOUT MY PACKAGE!!!

So, here we are. Thursday. I go to the post office AGAIN. This time, with only ONE THING to mail, but with a mantra repeated in my head the whole time I walk into there: "Ask about the package. Ask about the package. Ask about the package."

And I did. Yay! FINALLY! I remembered to ask about the package. Woot! Turns out that BECAUSE I'm still in Eugene, BECAUSE they have my forwarding info on file (and, um, cough-cough, I've recently bugged them about forwarding my mail to me at the new address *innocently looks away and whistles*), and BECAUSE it's still the same zip code, I have nothing to worry about. They will definitely forward my package to me when it gets there.

Maybe because they know that I'll bug them if they don't.

TIME FOR A DISCLAIMER!!!! I am not some homicidal maniac stalking employees at the West Side Eugene, Oregon Post Office!

I'm glad I finally remembered it. Yay! Tomorrow, no post office. But I WILL need to go to the bank. I just hope I remember to stick the check into my purse so that I'll have it with me to deposit while I'm there....

Monday, October 25, 2010

Three years old

Despite turning only 3 years old today, Jesse knew something was up. I think he figured out today was his special day after I kept wishing him a happy birthday this morning, after he woke up. At one point this morning, while I was in the kitchen making Jen's lunch, he walked into the kitchen and danced side to side as he sang the happy birthday song. (This was sooo cute!)

Up until his special day, I'd been trying to figure out how we were going to celebrate it. Eventually, I decided not to have his birthday party anywhere and not to have a theme party, either. We just had a cake and ice cream thing at home. We considered inviting his one friend over, but since this was on a weekday, that wasn't doable since his friend would be in daycare.

For his presents, he got new pants and a toy car from me and hubby (he LOVES cars!), a PillowPet from Millie and Allison, and a pair of SpongeBob PJ's and Thomas the Train bath toys from Jennifer. I took a few pictures, which I plan to upload on my Facebook page -- just as soon as I find the dang cord to do that!

I keep thinking this is all a dream. My son is three years old, but I still have a hard time believing he is actually HERE! I am just really amazed and I feel so blessed to have my little boy in my life. Sure he gets cranky and has tantrums sometimes. and he wants to do EVERYTHING by himself. But I just love him SOOO MUCH! I give him lots of hugs and kisses every day. Every new day with him is a gift. Even Jennifer still says she is happy he is in our lives. He is really special and I'm thankful he is with us.

Happy Birthday, Jesse! I love you more than anything. You are one of my two favorite people in the whole wide world. Here's to many more birthdays.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Smarter than SpongeBob

Last night, as I was washing Jennifer's hair in the bathtub, she grew sad and told me that she had something to confess. I asked her what it was and she explained that the kids in her classroom thought I look ugly. (Here we go again, with the whole "looking ugly" thing! Sheesh! But with children, this kinda thing is inconsequential, because children are not mature enough to understand that there are burn survivors in this world.) I have visited Jennifer's classroom MANY times. The people there know me because I am there so much. (And I kinda have a face that's hard to forget and easy to recognize! LOL) So I have been there enough for her classmates to know what I look like.

This confession did not surprise me at all. I explained to Jennifer that it's only natural for children to think that, because they don't understand why I look the way I do. We discussed how some people try to cover up their scars with make-up and stuff. I told her I would never do that. I am not so ashamed of my face that I will cover it up for the world. I do wear make-up for special occasions, but not every day. And it's only BECAUSE of the special occasion.

I guess she felt bad telling me this because she assured me that she thought I was "beautiful" and she counted off all of the good things I have done for her and her little brother. That just warmed my heart. It's not every day a mother gets thanks and appreciation like that after giving so much of herself to her children every day. I let her know I was glad she felt that way and I appreciated how she told me that.

We talked again about my burn scars. I told her I couldn't do anything to fix it. I have severe third degree burns. The skin is destroyed and it can't be repaired. I told her some people wear skin-type gloves and coverings over their scars but I won't do that. That thought made her remember an episode of SpongeBob Squarepants, where SpongeBob wanted to have muscles so badly that he bought fake ones to show off. She recounted the episode, though I already knew it because I've seen it a million times. She said that was a stupid thing to do. I agreed and I told her I wouldn't do that. "I'm not going to be a fake," I said. "This is the real me, and I want the world to see the real me."

She thought for a minute, smiled then said, "You're smarter than SpongeBob."

I laughed and said, "I certainly hope so."

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Never be nice to a stranger

This morning, I was alarmed to read that an 8-year-old girl was kidnapped and sexually assaulted by a man who succeeded in luring her to his truck. A nearby adult who saw this shouted out to them and the man grabbed the girl and sped off with her. Thankfully, she was rescued by someone who recognized the abductor's vehicle from an Amber Alert, but not before a horrible thing had been done to her. Sexual assault can mean many things -- exhibitionism, fondling, sexual harassment and exposing a child to pornography, among them -- but the fact remains that this man put this child into a situation that was considered to be "sexual assault" and whatever it is that happened to her is something she will have to live with. It's so horrible the perverse things that monsters do to children in this world.

I keep thinking about how he managed to lure this child to his truck. I've gone over the "stranger danger" conversation with Jennifer many times. I have explained to her some of the tricks strangers use to lure children away from a safe area. One of them, such as asking a child to help them look for a dog, is one that actually happened (and which I saw for myself) but thankfully Jennifer was smart enough to tell him no. But even after that, I still had this conversation with her again later on.

Even so, she has sometimes forgotten safety rules and did things she was not allowed to do. One thing, for example, was reaching into a truck to pet a man's dog. The man was sitting there without a shirt on, for crying out loud! He could've grabbed her arm and pulled her inside. (She is lightweight so it could happen.) Afterwards, I lectured her AGAIN about tricks strangers use to get to kids but I don't think I'll ever need to ease up on that. As it is, I give her the "don't talk to strangers" warning every single time she goes out to ride her bike. I have also told her if a stranger tries to get to her, scream and run away. I told her if she screamed, it would attract attention.

But another warning about strangers I have given her is that she should never, EVER be nice to a stranger. Of course she knows she must be polite and respectful around grown-ups, but I have told her that when it comes to a stranger, don't be polite or respectful.

In fact, be rude.

Don't talk to strangers. Don't sit next to a stranger who asks her to sit with them. Don't help a stranger.

I know that this makes it seem like I am telling Jennifer to be selfish or disrespectful, but actually I'm trying to teach her yet another way to stay safe. We live in a world much, much too dangerous for children to be nice to everybody. Being nice to strangers, helping them find or move something and showing them where something is (such as her home) are all ways she could get kidnapped.

I remember a story my grandmother told me long ago. Once, as a young woman, when her husband was away for the night, she was awakened by a phone call by a man who asked her how to get into her house. "You don't," she answered, then hung up the phone and unplugged it. That story reminds me of how we DO need to be rude to strangers. I mean, why be nice to somebody who is planning to hurt us or do something terrible to us? I am the same way myself. I have taken many walks alone and men who try to talk to me are ignored or I just steer clear of them. I don't trust people I don't know well enough to trust -- and that right there is another important safety lesson a child should be taught.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Nine years old

It's been 9 years since she was born. Nine years of going through the ups and downs of parenthood.

I love her more than anything in the whole world. I love her when she is good. I love her even more when she is bad.

She may have a sibling in this family, but that fact will never ever replace the special place she has in my heart. She will always be my baby, no matter how old she may be.

Happy Birthday, Jennifer. I love you for always.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Living life ugly in a beautiful world

Not too long ago, I was reading the Dear Abby column in my local paper. A letter in there was from a woman who was confused because her friend all of a sudden started to ignore her, give her the brush off and just not arrange to meet with her anymore. At one point, this woman tried to reach out to her friend via email, only to get a response from her along the lines of “leave me alone.” She wanted to know why her friend was all of a sudden shutting her out, since she couldn’t come up with an explanation herself.

This was something I could relate to. I know someone who has done this same exact thing – not just to me, but to us.

When Jennifer became friends with a girl at her school a couple years ago, her mom and I started to communicate via email. This particular friend was one Jennifer couldn’t stop gushing about! Every day, she had this or that to say about her friend. They also talked on the phone for hours. So it was arranged Jennifer could have a sleepover at the girl’s house. I met the parents and they seemed nice. The sleepovers happened, as did several playdates. The two of them were in BFF Heaven.

Then, something happened.

Jennifer would call her friend only to be told that her friend could not talk now. Whenever we asked about sleepovers, the friend said that her dad was sick – but I started to grow suspicious after the friend kept feeding her that line for several weeks.

I tried to reach out to the mother via email. She refused to reply, so I tried to communicate with both her and her husband. I kept the emails to every so often, NOT every day, just so it would not look like I was “hounding” them. I asked about what was going on and expressed my concerns for the friend’s dad being sick for so long. I apologized for every imagined crime under the sun. I gushed over what a “beautiful and smart” daughter they had (which is the truth, actually). Finally, out of frustration from not receiving an answer, I just came out and asked why they were not communicating with us anymore.

Nothing. Zip. Zilch.

I considered the possibility that they had changed email addresses. That they lost their Internet connection or that my messages just somehow ended up in their spam folder. However, I knew they still used that email address, because I later would occasionally see them as logged in.

It wasn’t any of that. They were just ignoring me. Yes, I KNOW this is rude, but I’m used to this. People HAVE ignored emails from me. Yes, it is rude, but they just don’t seem to care and decide to be rude anyway.

So I decided to just let it go. They didn’t want anything to do with us. Fine. It wasn’t like I was THAT desperate for this woman to be my friend, anyway.

But what pissed me off was how they were hurting Jennifer in all of us. They did not see the sad or hurt look on Jennifer’s face when she could no longer talk with her BFF on the phone, how there were no more playdates or sleepovers. The friend even started to ignore Jennifer at school. That was even MORE hurtful for her! I would even see that happen myself and just get so angry that this was likely the girl’s mother forbidding she interact with my daughter.

I mean, at this point, I was boiling!

It was just so wrong they were doing this to my daughter. Hurt me, I can just walk away. But hurt my kids, and I go on the warpath.

Then I read that letter in Dear Abby. Dear Abby (in title, not as a show of affection) threw around a bunch of possibilities why this friend was acting the way she did. Why she shut her BFF out and just stopped communicating. But, in the end, she suggested to the writer that she just give that friend her space and wait until she decides to come around again, if that ever happens, and until then, just be a friend.

Even as I related to that woman’s predicament and wanted to know what to do myself, the answer Dear Abby gave was useless. I had pretty much given up on that friend’s mother. I’d given up on the possibility that Jen’s BFF was even a friend anymore. I started to encourage Jennifer to find new friends, even a new best friend. I counseled her so many times on this and reminded her that sometimes, things like this happened.

As for me, I just washed my hands of those people. I just didn’t care anymore. They didn’t want communication. Fine. They didn’t want to explain themselves. Fine. Whatever! Life goes on.

Then the other night, after Jennifer had experienced all the excitement of entering third grade this year, I decided to ask her about how things were going at school. We three sat at the table, eating dinner, and I asked her about the new friends she was making. I also asked if she happened to see any of her old friends. Eventually, the former BFF came into the conversation. I was surprised yet VERY relieved to hear that the girls were playing at school again. This was a weight lifted off of me, especially since I could see how Jennifer’s eyes lit up as she talked about what they did. She had that BFF spark again!

But my happiness was shot when Jennifer grew sad then mentioned that her friend had explained why her parents didn’t want to see us anymore. I held my breath, unsure about whether or not I should allow this to continue. But I DID really want to know! So I asked her what her friend said.

Want to know their reason for shutting all of us out of their lives? It wasn’t for something like an unintentional faux pas or something we said.

It’s because we are ugly!

Or, so THEY think. Actually, they think hubby and I are ugly. So they’d rather avoid us like the plague. Ooh, beware! Don’t want to catch the Ugliness!

Good grief.

And all this time, I thought maybe they thought we were devil worshipers, or something. I never would have guessed it was because of something so petty and shallow.

When Jennifer told me this, I was shocked. I was dumbfounded. I couldn’t believe it! I know my burn scars make me unattractive. And, if it weren’t for them also thinking my husband is ugly, I would have pinned the blame on that. But, no. It’s not my burn scars. Or maybe it is. I don’t know.

The truth is, I don’t CARE.

Like I said, I washed my hands of those people. As shocked as I was that a supposedly MATURE and ADULT person would sink to something so low, I realized that there are just people like that in the world. There are people who think looks are EVERYTHING. They have this shallow idea of how people should always look BEAUTIFUL and PERFECT.

Well, guess what?


Deal with it.

Even so, I do not consider myself to be ugly. True, I’m not exactly a knockout. (And this particular mother is not a knockout, either. Neither is her husband. Actually, they are average.) But I know I’m not ugly.

And you know what? Neither does Jennifer. She kept insisting that I am not ugly and that her daddy is not ugly. She told me she told her friend, “They are wrong.” Her friend AGREED.

I told Jennifer if that is the kind of people that they are, then I didn’t want to be friends with them, anyway. Some people just can’t look past what they see on the outside of a person. They only focus on what they see, not on what they can find. They are a waste of my time and I don’t want friends like that. Phooey on them!

Still, I grabbed that window of opportunity and explained to Jennifer that it is what’s on the inside of a person that is important. People should NOT be judged by their appearances, by their scars or by their weight. They should be judged by how they are on the inside. We may live in a society that demands beauty and perfection and that takes everybody who is fat, scarred, short and disabled and labels them all as "ugly." But people who follow that religion are missing out on the important things in so-called "ugly" people that are more important than appearances. Things like honesty, helpfulness, selflessness, compassion and generosity.

And, best of all, we know what REAL beauty is. It's not what you see. It's what you feel.

Believe me, I have known “beautiful people” who were jaded, selfish, greedy and filled with some kind of “holier than thou” attitude. Some of them like to play head games with others, trick people and use them for their own sport. They are NOT pleasant people to be around!

And I have met people who society perceives to be “ugly” – the obese, the scarred, the physically disabled and the plain Janes – and these people have hearts of gold. They are so giving, so kind, patient and helpful. THEY are the people I would feel blessed to call my friends. THEY are the people I want to have in my circle.

That night, when I tucked Jennifer into bed, I kissed her and told her, “Goodnight, my beautiful daughter.”

She smiled and said, “Goodnight, my beautiful mom.” Later, she made me a card gushing about how “beautiful” she thinks I am. She made one for her daddy, too. In this card, she even pointed out some of his better qualities.

I can shake my head and roll my eyes over how petty some people can be. I guess age and life experiences just won’t decide on how mature a person can be. That’s life. What matters is that we are able to walk away from this confident in the fact that WE know what beauty really is, and that at least we can share that true inner beauty with each other.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The money comes and the money goes

Okay. New plan.

I'll be attending school to study for job certification NEXT year. Not this year.

The money I had for this had to be used for family expenses (that's just the way life is!). So, I'm going to start all over again and save up for next year. Also, it's probably just as well. The classes I had to take were all full. So maybe next year I can get in there early and get the classes that I need. Jesse will be in preschool fulltime next year. And at least this way, I can get a regular job (not the kind you need certification for) and just work my way through that and have regular employment in place if I don't end up being able to get a job in my desired field after this schooling ends.

So, it's all good. It'll work out. I'm VERY frustrated, because I was so ready to do this, but that's just the way life is. Maybe this can be a good thing. Hubby keeps telling me this approach would be better. He stressed that even if I went to school and got a certificate in medical coding, there's no guarantee I'll have a job waiting for me. I can see how that could happen. The new plan just makes better sense, because I'll have something to fall back on even after I complete the schooling. So I'll do it this way.

I just have to be careful with expenses. I will REALLY need to be firm to save up for this. It's just that it's leaves your hands faster than it can stay in them! The money comes and the money goes. Hubby and I have been trying to establish a savings for YEARS, but it's like there's ALWAYS something that comes up. The car needs a new tire, something in the house breaks and needs to be fixed, something comes up at our daughter's school that we need to pay for, etc., etc. It's just, always something! As it is now, even as I have a nice check on its way to me, that money isn't going to last, either. My dog has a loose tooth and I need to take him to the vet to get that taken care of. (We don't have pet insurance. Is there even such a thing??) So that money has to go towards that. Such is life.

This is part of the reason why I want to have regular employment. We need to have that extra money there -- if anything, so that we can build up a savings. We literally have NOTHING saved. So if our house is crushed by a wayward comet, we'll be living on the streets. I know it's important to have a savings, and that's why I want a regular job. Hubby's job pays him well and we also have my annuity. But that can only carry us so far. And, like I said, things keep happening where the money just doesn't last. So if I have a good job that I receive certification for, that will help us a lot.

For as long as it can, anyway.

I just need to try to hang in there. Next year will be better. But that's what we all would like to think!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

9/11 -- We Will Never Forget!

Pictures from the following sites:

Also, please visit this memorial site:

These photos are not copyrighted in my name. I am sharing them so that people see just a glimpse of the images kept on other sites which capture terrifying moments from that sad day. If you visit these sites, be warned that there are disturbing images of people leaping to their deaths from the flaming Twin Towers.

God Bless America. Nine years later, they are gone but not forgotten.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

And when he was bad

I've got it! The perfect title for a book if I ever decide to write about my son's life: "And When He Was Bad..."

I love my son. Really, I do. He is so precious to me. BUT! Believe me, he is VERY mischievous. My mother used to share horror stories of the kind of mischief I caused when I was a toddler. I guess history is repeating itself.

This month, a new book for parents of 2-year-olds came out called The Terrible Twos: A Parent's Guide. It's by my friend and fellow writing parent Shanta Everington. I mention this book because I am in there, discussing how I'm getting through the "terrible twos" with my own toddler. I have earned my place in that book! I will be sharing some instances as to the sort of mischief Jesse has caused in his short life on her blog next weekend.

The kind of mischief Jesse has caused has been enough to make us scream, tear our hair out, have our hearts in our throats and cry. Yes, cry. But, we need to laugh, too. For instance, Jesse got a hold of the hose this evening while I was cooking dinner. His older sister was supposed to be watching him (as hubby was busy in the garage) but she had other plans. Anyway, Jesse was in the back yard, got hold of the hose, pointed it inside the house and...let it rip. It took hours to clean up the mess. We were cursing, grumbling, stomping feet, refusing ice cream to the children and sending them to bed early. But in the end...hubby joked about it. He said, "At least the house is cleaner than it was before."

You just have to laugh at these things...after you cry.

Not too long ago, I was on the phone with my mom. I was sharing with her my worries over Jesse's latest ailment (the doctor thinks he has a cyst next to his eye) and complaining of how it was so unfair that Jesse was going through so much medical trauma at such a young age. There was this, then that and then THAT! Heck, he was born with the side of his head uneven! But I reasoned that, just as I went through so much early in life and all that nonsense ended later on, as I got older, maybe it will be that way for Jesse, too.

I'd like to think that the same could be said as far as Jesse being a troublemaker is concerned.


Who knows.

A girl can dream!

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Down with diapers!

I have a new mantra: Down with diapers! Up until today, we have been going back and forth on the pottytraining thing with Jesse. Some days were good, some not so good. Today, however, I feel more confident about this pottytraining stuff, because today I got Jesse everything he needed: A potty training seat and his own underwear.

Yep, that's right. His first underwear! No more diapers!

I have, however, kept a few of his diapers on hand, mainly because he WILL be wearing them for his naps and at bedtime. But other than that, he's going to be wearing the underwear and not much else besides a T-shirt. I think it would be better if he mastered the whole picking up on when he had to go potty, experiencing the accidents and learning how to pull the underwear down and up thing before I add pants to that mix.

This is the way my mom pottytrained her kids and grandkids. I have heard of some parents letting their toddlers run around with NOTHING covering the bottom, but I don't feel comfortable about that. I think it's better to have him wearing underwear instead. Worked for my mom, so maybe it will work for us, too.

I have also noticed, as I worked with him today, that he got impatient waiting for something to happen while he sat on his potty. So I got a bunch of his books and put them into a drawer by his potty chair. I joked to Jennifer about how I never understood the whole "boys and reading while on the potty" thing and she admitted that she liked to read while using the potty, too. So she, too, had some of her books put into the bathroom. I guess I am the only one in this family who doesn't read while on the toilet!

The book thing worked like a charm. He quietly sat on his potty chair, going through his books. Sometimes, though, he would say he had to go potty and when he was on that thing, nothing happened. I think he just wanted to sit on an uber comfy seat and enjoy his books!

The potty chair I got for Jesse had an inflatable seat on it. I told Jennifer they didn't have anything like that when she was pottytraining and she was NOT happy. I told her the potty chairs they have for babies now are so different than what they had when she was a baby. Heck, one of them even plays music! And Jesse's even has a bar on it for toilet paper. We no longer have Jennifer's original pottytraining seat but it was interesting to compare how they were all different. The one thing that stayed the same, however, is that Jesse's chair can be converted to a stepping stool, just like Jennifer's was.

I'll be working with Jesse this week on getting this pottytraining thing down pat. And I just may start reading on the toilet, too -- not while using it!! -- because I have noticed that sometimes it takes him a while to go to the bathroom and determine if he is done.

At first, he wanted to check out the potty chair, take it apart and put it back together again, and I read this is normal at first. I am reading EVERYTHING I can on this pottytraining stuff -- not so much to refresh my memory but also because this time it is with a BOY! And I read that you should teach boys how to pee sitting down first, then later how to do so standing up. (That will be where his father will come in.)

It has been quite a challenge but I know it's important to stick with it. After all, Jesse is READY for this phase of his life. So I have to keep at it until he figures out how to do this on his own.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

It's beginning to look a lot like September

It's that time of the year again! Line up, troops! Backs straight and eyes forward! Pencils sharp and lunchboxes packed!



And as if to herald this busy time of the year, I was on the phone for over an hour the other day making all the necessary doctor and dentist appointments. (Gotta keep those kids in tip-top shape, dontcha know!) I even scheduled a check-up for the dog!

And last night, I was going over various extracurricular classes for the kids to take this fall. In the end, I chose swimming, gymnastics, karate and music for the both of them. (Well, Jesse's not old enough for karate yet, but he, too, will be taking swimming, gymnastics and music. He'll also have a "toddler playtime" class on days he doesn't have preschool.) Despite the busy schedule in place with all of these activities, Jennifer wants to do one or two more things! As it is, she will have Friday and Saturday "off." I told her, "You will be grateful for those days off!" Still, she wants to do more. So I thought that maybe it would be a good idea for me to find a "mommy and me" class that we could take together, on Saturdays. Since Jesse will have a "mommy and me" class for the swimming, it's only fair that Jennifer has one, too. We've narrowed it down to a few options: Yoga, art and cooking. I hope I can find something that will take place on Saturdays. She wants to be a chef, so I am hoping I can find a cooking class we can take together. (I love to cook, too, so that should be fun!)

We've been buying the kids new clothes and shoes for the new school year. Jennifer also wants a new backpack, even though her dad says the one she has now is fine. But we both think it would be neat to have a new backpack for the new school year, so we'll keep our eyes peeled for a good one. She also wants a new lunchbox. After three years with the same old lunchbox, I agree that it's time to retire it for something new.

As to Jesse, I am planning to enroll him in the same preschool Jennifer went to. This time, however, he'll be attending two days of the week, instead of four. I also want to start him off on the "half day" schedule, just until he gets used to this. (OK, OK. Until I get used to this, too!) We have been working on pottytraining him, to get him ready for this. That in itself has been a work-in-progress. He has done well with it but just having trouble recognizing when he has to go to the bathroom. So we have to keep asking him, "Do you have to go potty?" So we are working with him on that. I can't believe my baby boy is almost three years old! Time sure flies. Wow.

But I know this will be good for him. He needs to build those social skills and explore his physical skills. I have every faith in Kim to be able to work with Jesse and also nurture his creative growth. I just hope we can still get him in there!

It's not just the kids who are going to school this year. I will be "attending" school, too! But, only on a part-time basis -- one, on account of the baby, and two, because the school I'll be taking classes at is soooo far away. It's about an hour away! And, three, because by going part-time, it won't cost an arm and a leg to take the class. I'm starting with ONE class and I'll work my way through it. The classes I'm taking are mostly available online. I think there are one or two of them I'll need to take that are not available online at this time. But that can come later. By the time I'll need to take those courses, the baby will be in kindergarten (not a baby anymore!), so I'll have time to make that commute. I have been talking with an instructor of the courses and checking out what I need to do. This is for the medical coding job. The training will last for 3-4 years at the rate I am going -- which is fine by me, really. I need to have this time so that I can still be available for my children and be at home until the baby is older. I DO want my kids to be independent and self-sufficient, but they are still too young for a lot of things that go with that.

Overall, it's going to be a REALLY busy autumn/winter. Of course, I'll also have to get Jennifer signed up for basketball, when that time comes. (She plays it every year.) I'm excited about this new adventure and I know the kids will be happy to learn all these new things, too. They have enjoyed their "lazy time" during the summer. Now it's time to get back to that old school desk, and to get busy!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Normally, I am not a very talkative person. After I lost my hearing, my mom was afraid I'd lose my voice, too, so she was encouraging me to talk A LOT. And quite loud, in fact. And I guess being around so many people to actually talk to, I had no choice but to yak my head off every day. Ever since moving to Eugene, however, that has changed. Sure, I talked with the friends I had (emphasis on "had"), but it's not like we chattered away at all hours. Mostly, I was quiet. And I have grown quieter still, despite writing so much and being a virtual chatterbox on the World Wide Web.

But that's as far as it goes.

These days, I don't have friends to hang out with or family to talk to in person every day, so I really don't feel so compelled to talk so much. I guess I'm trying to salvage the kind of silence I could not have during my teen years. But because I have small children to care for, silence is darn near impossible. There are many times I have to talk with my children ... A LOT!

I suppose I should be grateful my kids want to engage in so much conversation with their parents so much (even the baby, who will be 3 in October). After all, they'll be teenagers before we know it, and they would rather talk with their friends instead of their parents. But all of this yakking can get frustrating, especially when I am trying to drive and I have to keep my eyes on the road and NOT on my daughter's face to read her lips. These are the times I'll announce "Driving!" when she tries to tell me something, and she'll know she'll have to wait until we get to a red light or when I can stop briefly to turn around and read her lips. (She is learning she can't take these small windows of time to sit there and go "uuummmmm....").

It's also frustrating when I just want to STOP talking so much. As it is, my throat hurts if I have to talk so much, even if I drink water while I am speaking. So sometimes, you know, I just have to tell the kids, "Give me 5 minutes of peace!" OR..."Eat your food and stop talking so much!"

This evening is a perfect example. At dinnertime, the kids just yakked and yakked. My husband and I are not big talkers when we sit down to eat, so both of us tend to get a bit rattled by the kids constantly getting our attention to tell us something or ask questions. Or, as often happens, to go over words in sign language. (And, yes, he does speak, just as I do.) At one point, I had to tell Jennifer to wait before telling me something YET AGAIN because I had to run to the baby, who was getting into something.

Then, when putting the baby to bed, we spent time together in his room as he pointed out things and I had to say what had to go to sleep now, because ALL of us had to go to sleep now. So I kept having to say "Caterpillar has to go has to go sleepy....chair has to go sleepy....night light has to go sleepy....backpack has to go sleepy..." And just on and on.

Then, finally, after a while, my throat was hurting from talking so much, so I just calmly sat there nodding and saying "mm-hmm" every time he said something to me from his crib. (Heh. What if his baby talk translated to "Mom, there are aliens outside my window"?? Mm-hmm.)

Then Jennifer showed up, asking me to read them a story. I was tired, wanted to STOP talking, but how could I turn away a child who wants to be read to? So I read them a story. Afterwards, Jennifer went back to bed. Eventually, the baby fell asleep. And I could once again fall silent without any need to talk again.

At least....until tomorrow comes.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

So long, and thanks for all the fish

In my last post, I noted that I made the switch to a vegetarian diet. However, it was not a TRUE vegetarian diet, for I still ate seafood. I did this because I know there is nutritional value in seafood which is not in any other foods.

After a while, though, I got sick of eating so much seafood. I ate so much of it, my breath started to taste like tuna! I know it is dangerous to eat too much seafood, because of mercury, but I still ate it, anyway.

Until now.

Today, after some serious thinking, I decided to end my semi-vegetarian ways. That's right; I will go back to eating meat! And poultry.

Did I make this decision because I'd grown weary of eating so much seafood? Well, partly, yes. But the other reason why I abandoned this diet is because the rest of my family is not vegetarian, or even semi-vegetarian, and I hated seeing meat and chicken going to waste. One thing I CANNOT stand at all is waste. Wasting money, wasting energy, wasting resources, and, especially, wasting food. My grandma made it through the Great Depression and she, too, always made sure food never went to waste. Even if she had to give food away so it would not waste, she gave it away. (I do that, too.) I sort of picked up that habit from her. So, this was the BIG reason why I decided to start eating meat again. And, to make it official, I made meatloaf for dinner tonight. And ate it, too.

All the same, I won't go nuts eating meat, like some people do. I will try meatless meals whenever possible -- and, of course, the seafood, though not as regularly -- but I will also be eating meat again.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Jeans weirdness

Last weekend, I went to Old Navy to finally buy a new pair of jeans. The ONE pair of jeans I owned were getting holes in them and I don't like wearing clothes that have holes in them. (I usually assign such old clothes to my pajama drawer, but not jeans.) I just got really fed up with them so I threw them out and decided to get new jeans. The plan was to get two pairs for now, since I'm trying to lose weight and want to get to a smaller clothing size in the near future. So, I finally made the trip to buy them, and since Old Navy had a jeans sale going on, that's where I went. I grabbed a bunch of jeans and tried them all on. All of them barely fit me -- and they were ALL a size 14! I almost cried. The only time I've been more than a 14 was when I was pregnant. And since I'm not pregnant now, there's no reason for me to be that size! But I DID need jeans. I decided to get ONE pair of the 14s (I was too humiliated to get 2 pairs, or even to try on the 16s) and maybe I will "fill them out" later so they won't be too tight.

Oh, boy. Did I ever fill them out!

Now, four days later, I put the jeans on again. I seriously debated keeping them, since it would be an even bigger rush to see how many inches I could trim down from a size 16, but I just couldn't bring myself to exchange them for a bigger size. And, anyway, like I said, maybe they won't be so snug later on. So I took the tags off. Threw the receipt into the recycle bin. Washed them and dried them.

Then I put them on.

Guess what? THEY WERE TOO BIG!! What the heck!

I tried to wear the jeans, anyway. After all, they weren't exactly sliding down to my ankles. (I hate wearing belts and won't wear them.) But later on in the day, it got to be REALLY annoying how they slid down so much and how I had to keep pulling them back up. UGH! They were so big, you could literally pull them right off of me! That's crazy!

Finally, out of frustration, I took off the jeans and changed into pajama pants. I was angry and upset that I NOW have a pair of jeans on my hands that are too big for me and I can't return them to exchange them! What a waste of money! I've already washed them and worn them. I don't understand how this happened. How can a pair of jeans that are tight one day end up being too big to wear four days later??

I considered the possibilities. One, maybe I dropped too much weight in that time. But I don't have a scale to weigh myself and see if that is true. I DID go back to a vegetarian diet as of the first of this month, and even as I know my weight plummetted the last time I was a vegetarian, it couldn't happen that fast! I DO look a bit skinnier in the mirror, but like I said, don't have a scale to find out. All the same, four days to slim down like that is just too scary a thought. And not very likely, either. Besides, I haven't been exercising -- unless you count the insane amount of housework I have been doing lately. That definitely has made me break a sweat! And I've noticed I've been more flexible because of it (sit-ups are no longer a nightmare, for example).

Of course, I thought, maybe it's the jeans? Maybe they're the kind that just stretch out when you wash them? Or...that's the style? But I made sure they were regular jeans when I bought them. Not low-riders, or something like that. Normal jeans. I thought if I throw them into the dryer enough, they will shrink to fit. Maybe.

Nevertheless, this is really confusing. I wish I could exchange the jeans. Maybe I will be able to. I'll have to stop by Old Navy when I'm out in that area this weekend and find out. And, meanwhile, stick to wearing the two pairs of pris I have that aren't too big for me (got a lot of clothes like that now), or the dreaded skirt.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Changes, and fears, are in the wind

As the start of the new school year approaches, we've been preparing for some big changes at home. For one thing, we're working on getting back to the "school year schedule." For another, I have started potty training Jesse, because I'm making arrangements for him to attend preschool in the fall.

As for me? My changes are getting back into an exercise routine and getting out of the house for a job!

Admittedly, I have the same old reservations about saying goodbye to being a stay-at-home mom. What if my kids need me and I can't be there for them? What should I do if the kids are sick and can't go to school? (I don't think hubby will be working the night shift forever.) How am I going to handle being apart from them? (It's hard enough being apart from Jennifer during her whole school day!) As to the last concern, I think if I make the transition slowly, then that would work best. This is part of the reason why I like Kim's schedule so much. It's only for a few hours for 4 days a week. Not 5 or 6 hours! EEK!

But aside from those usual concerns, I have some others, too. What if something happens at the workplace that puts me in jeopardy? What if someone tries to assault or kill me? (I am trying to get into a self-defense class, so I think that would help alleviate that fear.) What if I get hurt? What if I get into a car accident on my way to work, which would NOT have happened if I had NOT been on my way to a job??

I'm sure there are a lot of moms out there who have had to cope with these very same fears. I know I COULD just continue to be a SAHM and happily stay in my comfort zone. After all, hubby keeps telling me he's cool with it either way -- job or no job.

But I am doing this for me, first thing, and for my children, second thing.

I know it would help me a lot to just get out of the house for a while. It would also help improve my social skills, if not my communication skills (thereby opening me to new communication challenges I will face as a deaf person and challenging me to find a way to resolve those hurdles). I wouldn't be so isolated, and it would open me up to new experiences. Most of all, it would be a great opportunity to get new ideas for things to write about (like this transition, for example?).

My children would benefit because they would see me, a woman, going against the traditional expectations set in place for women. I keep telling my daughter that the whole idea of "a woman's place is in the home" is just so oppressive, archaic and out of fashion these days. Well, I think it's time to step up and practice what I preach! No, I don't believe a woman's place is in the home, and I also believe that housework/cooking/childcare should be split between parents on a 50-50 level. Not 25-75 or 10-90. So this is partly why I want to join the workforce. I grew up watching my mother bear children, cook, clean and take care of us kids (sometimes while in a wheelchair) while my dad just worked and didn't do much else (besides enforce discipline). I grew up thinking this is what women do. Now, at 36, I no longer subscribe to that belief. No way! A woman can work just as a man can. And a man can do housework just as a woman can. (Hubby actually cooks and cleans better than I do!) So seeing this message in action will only reinforce my teaching both of my kids that they should not expect one gender to be better than the other and that some traditional roles and ideas no longer hold as much weight in society as they used to.

So, with this goal in mind, I set to work researching the best job options for me. During the time I was signed up for Workers Rehab, my counselor went over several job options with me. I even had a doctor do a physical to see what kind of job environment would be best suitable for me. However, that was then, this is now. I am not in the same physical shape I used to be in (though I am trying to fix this problem, as well, if I can ever figure out how to get my hip and foot to cooperate!).

I started my research anew.

At first, I thought maybe I could work with herbs, since I grew up with a father entrenched in herbal remedies and who often shared with me insights on certain herbs to use for certain ailments, but after some thought, I decided not to pursue that avenue. Biggest worry? That I might accidentally kill somebody! (There are some real toxic herbs out there.) I don't think I could handle something like that. So I crossed that off my list.

Then I thought, childcare? Maybe I could work at a daycare center. After all, I could be close to Jesse. But the truth is, I have a short fuse. (Yes! I'll admit it!) I just don't have the patience to have that kind of job. (I am trying to resolve that problem, as well, but it's slow going and very hard to break away from. I know I must eventually deal with all the anger I carry around inside. I am angry about a lot of things. I know I must resolve those issues and not let the anger weigh me down anymore.)

I then thought of working as a freelance editor. This is still a possibility, but I need to go to school for that. And I have no way to pay for school at this time. And, anyway, that thing is iffy and better suited for my own home-based business thing. Not as a career. I need a career. (Technically, I consider being an author my "career," but that's apples and oranges.) So, I'm saving that for later. After I can go to school for that, THAT can be something I can do from home. (A Plan B, I guess. LOL) And, actually, I have worked as an editor before -- for magazines and even a few books -- but I would feel MUCH better about making that a home-based business only after I have educational training to back me up on it. At least so far, I have experience! Yay!

Next, I thought landscaping could be in my future. After all, I DO make a fuss over a yard looking nice. And I DO have ideas for making up a yard. Also, it's so embarrassing that I'm married to someone who thinks all you need to do is mow a lawn or trim some hedges to take care of a yard. (No offense to hubby, but there's so much more you can do with a yard besides mowing it! That's the creative in me, ayup.) But then I thought...naahhh. Don't wanna be working outside day after day after day after day. Plus, I want a job where I could wear something nice. Not work clothes; office clothes.

Hmm. Office. I know I'd probably go batty having to work in a cubicle or at a desk all the time. But maybe I will find a way to make it survivable?

So I thought and thought. Eventually, I recalled reading a blog post on Karen Putz's blog, on a profile she did of a deaf medical coder. So I thought, medical coding? Could I DO that?? I checked this job out on the Web, reading up on what's required, what the job calls for, the kind of person it would be best for. The job DOES involve calling up people, but after thinking of how one deaf lady worked around that, I think I, too, can work around that. After all, the people at the business would KNOW I am deaf, right? It's not like they'd put a gun to my head and force me to use the telephone! I mean, surely, they would make exceptions? The big part of this job is using a computer and working with forms. I could do that! I also liked how this job does not require you to work on weekends, which I'd definitely want to spend with my kids.

I contacted someone via email who teaches classes on medical coding and hope there will be a response. If not, I'll keep trying to find somebody who can get me started on that path. As mentioned, the funds available to pay for this is scarce, so I'm hoping I can get a job that will help me to pay for that, so that I can then start my training for that desired job.

And all this time, I'm thinking, wow. Job. Up until now, I've only done side jobs and the regular teen jobs. Babysitting, housecleaning, office cleaning, petsitting and I was even someone's personal driver (though minus the big black hat. Haha). This will be my FIRST REAL JOB! I will actually be joining the workforce for the first time. Wow. But as excited as I am about that, I'm also nervous. I mean, I AM 36 years old. How many 36-year-olds do you see flipping burgers? (I have actually seen some 30-somethings working in fast food places, but usually as a manager.) It's embarrassing. More embarrassing that I won't know what I am doing or that I have to learn stuff 20-somethings have already mastered.

But...this is just the way it is. Thems the breaks. This is what happens when a stay-at-home mom joins the workforce for the first time. As nervous as I am, I should also be grateful. Because, bottom line, this is not an experience everybody has. This is MY experience, sure, but it's also one that is not so widely common. Also, at least this way, my getting through this experience will teach me how to help my own daughter should she go through this very same transition later in life. And, on top of that, it's just one more thing I'll get to write about.