Saturday, May 31, 2014

For once, I wasn't late!

People who know me know one thing that’s very true about me: I am always late. Late for class, late for an appointment or late picking someone up. I’m either late or I’m running late. Sometimes I manage to get to certain places just in time, but sometimes not. I’m usually late when I pick Jennifer up from school, as well as the little girl I occasionally babysit.

In fact, this morning, when I was dropping her off at school, I told Jen today was Early Release so I’d pick her up at around that time. Then, remembering I’m usually late, I threw in an “ish.”

She made a face, squeezed her fist as though in a fight, and said in what LOOKED like a growling voice, “Be on time!”

I squirmed in my seat and said, “Okay! You don’t HAVE to get all Exorcist on me about it!”

After I got Jesse off to school on his bus later on (which I arrived EARLY for – YES!), I realized I only had 55 minutes of free time before Jennifer got out of school. So I just ran some errands instead of TRYING to get some work done on the books, because I REALLY would have liked to have a whole hour to do the stuff I had to do. I didn’t HAVE an hour so I took care of some other things.

Then after that, I went to Jen’s school and sat in the car in the parking lot, drinking my coffee. After the coffee was gone, I started organizing things in the car. (Been too busy all week to clean up the mess the kids made in the backseat!) After that, I noticed more parents were arriving to pick up their kids, so I decided to head on in to see if school was out yet. (I don’t have a watch and my phone was not working at that time so I had no idea what time it was.) After I went inside the school, I made small talk with one of the secretaries then realized that school had JUST let out so I went looking for Jennifer. When I found her, I was all like, “I’m on time!”

I was also on time picking up the little girl, who also had Early Release today (an hour later!). In fact, I got there EARLY. (I got there early for Early Release. Hah!)

An hour AFTER that, it was Jesse’s turn to be dismissed from school (no Early Release for him today – how weird if it was Early Release at 3 different schools on the same day!). I arrived at his bus stop to pick him up – EARLY! Woo-hoo!

I was early three times today! EARLY, not late! That was pretty awesome. Don’t think that miracle will happen again anytime soon, though. But it was nice that it did.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

My 40th birthday

On Sunday, I celebrated my 40th birthday. I didn’t blog about it because I was not on the computer very much. I am starting to spend A LOT less time on the computer than I have in the past – and, the truth is, I am enjoying every minute of it. This was one of my goals for 2014 and I’m so glad I made that goal. True it means I get a lot less work done so fast and I’m not on social media so much anymore, but I really am happy to not be so “chained to the computer” anymore.

And I didn’t blog about it on Monday because it was Memorial Day and that was a day meant to honor our soldiers. Then life got crazy busy and I just didn’t have time.

But now I have the time to blog about this.

I had two other goals before I turned 40 that I was able to accomplish, as well: Have a child and author/co-author 20 books. I am thrilled I was able to accomplish these goals. I do have other goals I want to accomplish, but they are not age-specific.

Some people dread turning 40 but I was actually excited about it. Believe me, I don’t miss being 30-something! I had to learn SO MUCH in my 30s. There were just so many trials, so much heartache, betrayals and pain I had to go through in my 30s. Good riddance to all of it! Now I am 40 and embracing this second chapter of my life. I’m excited to see what my 40s brings and even though I know there may be some bad things, I am optimistic there will be a lot of good things!

Since the 40th birthday is a big deal, I knew I had to decide what exactly we would do for it. I knew I wanted to spend the day with my husband and children, the one group of people in my life who TRULY love me and care about me. So I wanted to be with them on this special day! I decided we would go to the Science Factory and visit the planetarium they have there. I’ve never been to the Science Factory and I’ve heard a lot about it, so I wanted to check it out! It was awesome – the kids had fun there – and the star show we saw at the planetarium was just so neat!

We also went out to lunch and I had a VERY fudgy birthday cake.

As to gifts, my youngest sister, Millie, sent me a poetry book and chocolates. (Thank you, Millie!) From the hubs and kids, I got a Starbucks gift card, gift card to Barnes & Noble, a collage photo frame, a coffee cup and MORE chocolates! (Very cool it was a very chocolatey day!) From my friend, I got a gift card to Fred Meyer, which I was thrilled about because I’d had my eye on a certain movie thee, as well as a certain T-shirt and a certain book, and thanks to my frind, I was able to get all three! Yay!

We capped off my birthday by watching the movie, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. (I LOVE the Pirates of the Caribbean movies!!!)

Also, I received so many birthday wishes on my Facebook page. (Thanks again, everybody! You rock!) I also received a couple of personal birthday emails from a couple of friends. I am so grateful to them for taking the time out of their busy lives to wish me a happy birthday! And I was touched they remembered.

Aside from one bad thing happening on my birthday, it was a really good day and I was very happy.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Volunteer Celebration

Recently, I received an invitation in the mail from my son’s school. The school was planning to have a Volunteer Celebration as a way of thanking all of the people who have volunteered at the school this year. I volunteered to help out for one of the field trips so they included me on the list of people to invite.

At first, when I got the invitation, I was confused. When I had volunteered on that field trip, I did it because I WANTED to do it. Ever since Jennifer had started going to that school, I had always hoped I could volunteer in some way or another. “Volunteer work” is actually something I have on my bucket list, so I was happy when, finally, after several years, the perfect opportunity arose for me to volunteer. And I was happy to do it. It was an awesome experience and a great way for me to help out and connect with the children.

So, I was confused by this invitation. I did not volunteer to get appreciation or to be noticed. I was happy to do it. I didn’t want any attention or any kind of special recognition for volunteering. You know? I didn’t want to be singled out or have any kind of attention focused on me. I don’t WANT attention.

So for a while, as I was debating whether or not to attend, that introvert in me stood in a corner, folded her arms and said, “Don’t wanna.”

I posted about it on Facebook and family members encouraged me to go.

Fortunately, that writer in me kept poking me to go. What was such a celebration going to be like? It said there was a performance by the children; what kind of performance? What exactly would happen at such an event?

I kept puzzling over these questions. And the more I thought about them, the more I started leaning towards going. I HAD to find out just what all this fuss was about! I had to see what it was like! After all, what if I write about something like this in a future story? This was the perfect opportunity to LIVE it so I could write about it!

So, yes! I HAD to go!

And I went. I was a little, teensy-tiny bit late because it was a crazy day with lots of running around (in other words, a typical day!), but I went. And I’m glad I did!

When I arrived, one of the secretaries was surprised to learn I had done volunteer work. She cheerfully told me where the celebration was. When I got there, I walked around a bit and sort of just cased it out. It looked like everyone was just getting their dessert and getting to know each other. I noticed none of the students were present. I had thought maybe the students in certain classes would get to attend but apparently not. One of the secretaries was bringing in extra chairs and I chatted with her briefly asking about it. She said that some volunteers brought their younger kids (one of them even had a baby with her) but the students were not attending. This was just for the volunteers.

I checked out the desserts available. There were so many goodies! Lots of cookies, cake, pies, brownies and cobbler. I noticed some fresh fruit so I got a plate of that. I also got a cup of water. (They were also serving coffee but it was decaf so I passed.)

I found a table and sat down. There was a lady sitting at the table but we really didn’t talk so much. I just sat there eating fruit and looking around. There were quite a lot of volunteers! This made me feel happy that so many people helped out at the school.

Then the performance began. At first, the young kids performed, singing and dancing. One little boy danced and I really enjoyed watching him. It was SO CUTE!

After that performance, people started moving around and talking. I spent the time admiring the plants on the table. There were flowers and they had a sign in each one that read “Thank you!” I thought they were cute. One in particular caught my eye. It was a blue flower. (Later, I would be told it was a petunia.) I admired the flower then put it back, thinking how nice it would be to have such a flower at home.

Then I noticed that the lady at the table was trying to get my attention. I apologized for not seeing her and told her I am deaf. She was surprised and told me she knew a little sign language. Then it was my turn to be surprised. How cool I ended up sitting at a table with someone who knew how to sign!! That was just awesome. She asked if I could read lips and I told her yes but mostly she signed to me. She told me her sister was born deaf and they had to learn sign language to communicate with each other. I was just so grateful I could communicate with someone who could sign! All that time I was thinking I wouldn’t be able to talk to anyone at this event because I might not be able to lipread them or they wouldn’t know sign language. But here was this woman who did know it! And I had sat at her table!! Wow.

We introduced each other and talked briefly about our volunteer experiences. Then the older kids performed. More singing and dancing. It was nice to watch, especially with one kid doing a hula-hoop act.

After the second performance, I noticed it was almost time for the event to end. The lady at the table told me that we were allowed to take one of the plants at the table home with us as well as have more dessert before she left. I told her thank you for sharing that information with me and told it was nice to meet her. Then I happily picked up the blue flower, excited that I could take it home!

And I was grateful I met that lady. Get this: Her name was JENNIFER! My daughter’s name! How very cool that I chose to sit at a table with someone named “Jennifer” who knew sign language!   All of a sudden, I was picturing my own Jennifer, grown up and reaching out to a deaf person and telling that deaf person she knew sign language because her mom was deaf. Somehow I think divine influence was at work here.

As I started to leave, I spent some time talking with the school staff. I also talked with the principal and gave her a hug. She noticed I only had one plant with me and encouraged me to take another. She took note of what plant I had then looked over the many on a table to find another. She did, but the flower’s stem was weak. She was discouraged by this but I still decided to take that one home as well. I don’t have a green thumb, but I love flowers and maybe I could nurse this one back to health. (I did manage to do that, later. Yay!)

I said my goodbyes to everybody then left the school. I am so glad I attended the Volunteer Celebration. And, you know what? I wasn’t singled out or given attention for the volunteer work I did. Actually, the ones who got all the attention and were in the spotlight were the children performing for us. Thank you, children!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The average trip to pick up Jennifer that wasn't so average

Not too long ago, Jennifer joined the Boys & Girls Club. It has been a great experience for her. Not only has it been a great relief for me that she has somewhere to go after school if I can’t pick her up in time but it is also a perfect place for her to connect with peers her age as she makes the transition into the teen years later this year. She now has friends there who have “been there, done that” and can help her through those turbulent years better. It also helps that it is a safe and positive environment for her to be in.

So, for most of the week, she goes to the Boys & Girls Club after school. The time I pick her up from there varies. When Jesse was playing soccer, I’d pick her up at different times depending on when his practices ended. Usually, though, she’ll suggest a time for me to pick her up.

Today, that time was at 5:30. I ended up leaving a little after 5:30, however, because Jesse was at a playdate today. So after I picked him up from his playdate, we went straight to the Boys & Girls Club to pick up Jennifer. I also had the little girl I babysit with me. I will call her “Leigh” in this blog post. (I don’t know yet how her mom feels about me including her real name in a public blog post.)

It was 5:40 when we arrived. Usually, if it’s after 5:30, Jennifer is at the main office instead of at the Teen Center. So we went to the main office to look for her. We were told she was still at the Teen Center. I debated whether or not to go look for her there, because sometimes if she’s not at the main office then she’s usually on her way there. We waited for a little while but after Jennifer did not show up I decided we would go to the Teen Center to find her. I told the secretary that maybe we would run into her on the way.

That’s not exactly what happened, because today was not a day everybody did things the same way as before.

Like with me. We took the long way to get to the Teen Center. The long way is the way all around the school building. Normally, I went through the school to get there, but since I figured Jennifer was on her way AND since Jennifer normally goes the long way to the main office, I thought maybe we’ll run into her this way.

But we didn’t. We got to the gated area where the Teen Center was only to discover that the gate was … LOCKED! ARGH!

I looked through the doors and noticed the lights were on. That meant there were people still in there.

We tried calling to someone but that didn’t work. Then the kids tried climbing the fence to open the gate (since it opened only from the other side) but THAT didn’t work, either. I thought about using a stick to tap on the window next to the door but we couldn’t find a strong stick. We did, however, find some stones, so we all took turns throwing stones at the window to get someone’s attention. No luck.

Leigh asked why we didn’t just turn around and go through the school building to get into the Teen Center. I said that if we did that, there was a chance that we would miss Jennifer if she came out and took the long way to the main office.

Leigh suggested she try going around to try the other gate that was across from us. I told her to go ahead. So she ran around the building to try the gate. Only to find that THAT one was locked, too!

However, I noticed a button near the gate to open the door for people in a wheelchair. I suggested she try pressing the button to open the door. She did and, thinking it would open, I was all, “Yes!”

The door DID NOT open!

Disheartened, I groaned, “No” as I lowered my fist. Then I angrily grabbed the bars of the fence and shook them in frustration, screaming, “AAAAHHHH!!!!”

Still, Leigh kept trying that button. I suggested she give up since it obviously didn’t work. She said maybe it would sound an alarm that the door needed to be opened for someone in a wheelchair. Or something like that!

On the door was a sticker reading, “CAUTION! AUTOMATIC DOOR!”

I saw this then grumbled, “Automatic door, my foot!”

Leigh must’ve seen this because she laughed.

Then I looked down at Jesse and an idea popped into my head. I suggested he go through the school building and come out the other door then open the gate to let us in. He agreed and took off running to do just that.

Then Jennifer appeared. She and her friend came through the door from the school building and saw each of us on either side of the hall.

She was like “Wha??!!” as she looked at me then “Wha??!!” as she looked at Leigh.

“Let us in!” I cried out, shaking the gate again.

Jen went into Kung Fu mode and kicked each gate open. We happily entered the hall and, at last! We were reunited!

What happened was, Jennifer had left the Teen Center around the time we had left the main office to come looking for her. And, of all times for her to do something differently and ME to do something differently, we each went in different directions! Good grief!

All was good, though. We were together now, except we were missing one person.

“Jesse went around to let us in!” I said.

We all swung around then ran through the doors to enter the school building. There was Jesse running towards us in the hall.

We laughed over the whole thing then the next thing I know, the four of them took off running to exit the building.

“What the…?” I wondered, watching them run off. Then I shrugged and said, “I guess we run!” And I took off with them.

The five of us were out of the building and, eventually, on our way back home.

I apologized to Leigh for the hold-up but she said that it was okay. It was really fun.

I think so, too.

My life can be crazy sometimes.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

My Mother's Day Miracle

In the last blog post, I mentioned I had a title stuck in my head at the time I was writing a Mother’s Day story. The title was “A Mother Day’s Miracle.” And I found that odd, because that’s not a title I would use for this story. It’s nice and all, but not the title for this story.

So, why was this title stuck in my head?

Turns out, it was not a title for a story. It was a title for something to happen.

Because of Jennifer’s surgery in Portland on Friday, there was a chance she would not be home for Mother’s Day. And, yes, I could have gone to the hospital to visit her, but I’d been sick with a stomach bug.

Thankfully, I am over that now. But that was not the miracle that happened. The miracle that happened was that Jennifer was able to come home from the hospital yesterday. And she got to be at home with me on Mother’s Day.

I was able to be with both of my children for Mother’s Day. I was SO happy!! And I felt so blessed that we were not kept apart for today.

So I ended up getting my Mother’s Day Miracle after all. The best Mother’s Day gift ever.

Friday, May 09, 2014

Goodbye, tumor!

Most of my friends and family know that my daughter, Jennifer, has had a tumor in her arm for some time. Thankfully, the tumor is not cancerous. When her doctor discovered it was a tumor, he theorized that perhaps it had developed from Jennifer keeping her arm in a certain position for extended periods of time. Jennifer admitted that she did have her arm a certain way a lot because she’s an artist. Who knows if this is why the tumor developed. I was only glad it was not cancerous! (Especially since I was dealing with my own cancer scare at the time.)

The doctor suggested removal of the tumor and he also referred Jennifer to a hospital in Portland. Unfortunately, all the scheduling, paperwork and communication in getting the surgery set up was taking an awful long time. We just bid our time, trying to get it scheduled whenever it got scheduled.

Then Jennifer started complaining about pain in that arm. I was shocked when she told me it hurt every time she pushed with that arm. It even hurt when she tried to brush her hair.

After this happened, we knew she had to get rid of that tumor FAST! My husband started contacting the hospital more often to see if they could schedule her surgery ASAP. They finally did schedule it and we made preparations for the big day.

Now, this would be Jennifer’s very first surgery, at age 12. (Jesse had surgery on his eyes when he was 2.) So she was a little nervous and a little scared about it. I could not entirely relate; after my car accident at age 20 months, I was in and out of hospitals and had so many surgeries by the time I was her age that I had no idea what she could’ve been feeling. But I tried to comfort her the best way I could and I assured her she would be okay. I also told her everybody was praying for her and thinking of her. And her best friends definitely became a strong support system for her.

I also made sure Jen got to have as much fun as possible up until the day of her surgery. I arranged for her to have sleepovers and playdates with her friends. I also made her favorite meals for dinner (she even made dinner one night!) and we went out a lot to do stuff. (I’ve been dealing with a stomach bug all week and haven’t felt so great but I went out with her as much as I could.) We also watched movies and had a lot of time just talking and spending time with each other. Yesterday, I took her out shopping and to buy frozen yogurt at TCBY and just spoiled her.

Today was the big day of her surgery. It was such a stressful day for me. I tried to stay strong and told her she will be fine. I reminded her she’ll probably be a lot happier after this surgery because she won’t have to deal with that pain anymore.

But during the time she was in surgery, I just stressed out. It was hard not to be at the hospital with her, but I knew the decision to stay home because of my not feeling well was the right one to make. My husband texted me when she went into the operating room and I was just a nervous wreck pacing around the house and praying. I did A LOT of praying! It helped I had Jesse to take care of, to take my mind off of it, but it was hard. After 3 hours of no news, I was ready to text my husband but he texted me first to let me know Jen was out of surgery and she was okay. It was a success. The tumor was gone and she was fine. THANK GOD!!

I was just so relieved. And I was happy, too. I texted everyone in the know to let them know Jen was out of surgery and doing okay, and I posted the news on Facebook, too.

Now, one thing I knew about this arrangement was that I might not be able to spend Mother’s Day with Jennifer in the hospital. The hospital is in Portland and I am in Eugene. That’s 2 1/2 hours away. I was really upset about the prospect of not being with my daughter on Mother’s Day, especially with her being in the hospital. It’s so hard to be apart from my daughter. (We are very close.) My husband’s car is a two-seater, so even if he came to get me to take me to Portland on Sunday, there was no room for Jesse in the car. So, I was basically stuck here. However, my friend offered to let us use her van and we were very close to considering it. I had hoped that stomach bug would get better but it did not.  So, because of this, we decided I would not be at that hospital on Mother’s Day. This was a really hard decision for me to make. I felt better after doing 2 things: I wrote Jen a very special poem just for her and told her she could only read it on Mother’s Day, and also I decided I would call her via relay on Mother’s Day. She would get to see what it was like to get a call from a deaf person on relay for the very first time! When I told her about this, she actually got excited and looked forward to it.

Even so, I was feeling a little bummed. I have been trying to write a Mother’s Day story and it hasn’t been easy because it makes me think of my mom and I still miss her so much. I still grieve over her passing. It’s really hard. Then I got an idea for a title: “The Mother’s Day Miracle.” Is this a new Mother’s Day story? The title is not the one I am using but that title has stuck in my head for a few days now.

And I am beginning to realize why. Today I was told that Jennifer might come home from the hospital tomorrow. She just might be home for Mother’s Day after all! That would certainly be a Mother’s Day miracle.

I am just glad this is all over with.

NOTE: Forgot to add that I do have a car that would fit all of us into it, but my car needs a part and would not be able to make it to Portland.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Taking care of April business in May

The last week of the month is always a time of dread for me. That’s when I need to sit down and take stock of what I have managed to accomplish that month – and what I didn’t accomplish. It’s also the time I have to prepare a budget plan for the next month. And the very last day of the month is the day I ask myself, “Any last-minute things I need to do for this month?”

When I asked myself that yesterday, I realized that, yes, I did still have a couple of things to do before April was officially over. But, unfortunately, I did not have a chance to do them.

Today I made sure I DID have that chance, because I really did need to do these things (add the April newsletter to my website and return a manuscript I edited). So I got them done today, in addition to some “May business” I had to take care of today as well. (There are other “May things” I have to do this month, but all in good time.)

What’s interesting is that I started early on May business during the last week of April. I set the wheels in motion to take care of a couple of things.

So I was pretty much doing May business in April. And April business in May. Fair trade!

I did add my newsletter, though. And while I was doing website updates, I decided to move a book on my “Coming Soon!” page to my book page. I have a new release today! Woo-hoo!

The month of May has gotten off to a pretty good start so far. Things have been insanely busy but as long as I keep at it and stick to my planners, I should get other May things done this month.