Monday, May 25, 2015

Waking up with a wake-up call

“I really don’t want to wake up in a hospital room on my birthday.” That was something I said yesterday, while at the hospital to be treated for chest pains. Well, this morning, I didn’t wake up in a hospital room, but I did wake up with something else: A wake-up call to take better care of myself. That point was hammered home even more as I stared at the hospital ID bracelet I still had around my wrist.

Yesterday started out to be a day I wanted to get a bunch of things done. I even had a to-do list to conquer. With the next day being my birthday, a day I wanted to relax, I wanted to get done as much stuff as I could. Now, it might’ve been that particular stressor that got to me, or maybe because I hadn’t exactly been eating very well the week before, or maybe it was just stress, but when I was about to do one particular item on that list, I was suddenly struck with massive chest pain. The pain was really bad and I started to feel nauseated too. I went into the bathroom thinking I was going to vomit but then I started feeling sluggish. It was hard to stand up. The pain intensified, the room started spinning and I began to sweat. I really thought I was having a heart attack.

My husband helped me to bed. After I raised my arms over my head, the pain started to decrease. Eventually, I was feeling better, but I couldn’t stop wondering what had happened. After talking with Jen and checking my symptoms on the Internet, it seemed like I had had a mini heart attack. I texted my youngest sister about it and she strongly encouraged me to go to the hospital. I really didn’t want to. I was so weak and still a little dizzy. I just wanted to stay in bed. But my sister was alarmed and urged me to go. So I texted a friend of mine who is a nurse and asked her if I really needed to. She said I should call 911 and definitely go in to the ER. Not only did she give this advice but she, her husband and daughter raced over to check on me. (Need I say again how so very awesome my friends are?) Her husband called 911 while she helped me to sit down and checked in with me. The next thing I knew, paramedics were at my house and I was being hooked up to a portable heart machine. They also gave me baby aspirin. I checked out okay with the paramedics but they encouraged me to go to the hospital. At this time, my husband was back home and he said he would drive me to the hospital. Our friends followed us and helped us to get checked in. We were there for several hours and I had all these tests and X-rays done, as well as blood tests. Guess what? Everything was NORMAL. There was no evidence I had had a heart attack. But after hearing of how this has happened many times before, once being so worse that I did vomit, and my family’s history of heart problems, the doctor encouraged me to see a cardiologist. In fact, he referred me to a heart clinic and I have to call them tomorrow.

So. After all of that, I have realized that my poor diet, sedentary lifestyle and life stressors have really taken their toll on me. This all happened the day before my 41st birthday, a day I was actually planning to make some major life changes to improve my health. The irony of it all is not lost on me. Now, more than ever, I see how all of those bad things need to change. I need to eat better. I need to lose weight and some inches on my waist. I need to REALLY make time and effort for exercise every day. (I never really stuck with an exercise routine and always checked out when it got to be too painful for me.) And I just need to stop sitting at the desk so much or on the couch so much. My life REALLY needs to be more active. I always let stuff hold me back: My desire for isolation, my preference for being in the home instead of outside and my unease about being around people who ALWAYS want to talk or communicate when I’m not too much for socializing. But I’m sure I can get past those hurdles in order to have a more active life. I’ll figure something out.

I want these changes to happen. I have had enough with the old me. I’m tired of the old me. It’s time for a new me. It’s just time. So I am eager to move forward and welcome the new me. I am doing this for me but I’m doing this for my kids, too. I want to be able to watch them grow up, graduate from high school, etc. I want to be around for that. And I’m pretty sure they will want me to be around for that, too. So I need to forget about labels. Forget about fears. Forget about anxieties. It is time for me to step out of my comfort zone. Time to challenge myself to live the kind of life I kept telling myself could not happen. Well, maybe it can.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Pictures of birds

These are just pictures of birds that I took today. Couldn't decide which one I liked best so I am posting all of them. I got as close as possible and used the zoom on my phone cam to take these pics. Granted, they're not very good pics, but oh well.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Lockdown and the identity crisis

Yesterday, my daughter’s friend’s school went into lockdown. This happened because the fire alarm had gone off. I’d been aware of this through a FB group that I am a part of; people were sending messages about it. One parent was upset because she could not contact her child attending the school, get into the school or talk to school staff during the lockdown. She was frantic and unaware of what was going on. Fortunately, thanks to that group, more information about what happened came through and it turned out it was nothing major and no one was hurt.

Today it was another school’s turn to go into lockdown: My son’s elementary school. When I picked Jesse up from school today, he was upset. I asked him what was wrong and he explained that his school had gone into lockdown. I decided to talk more about it with him after we got home. By that time, however, his school principal sent out an email to all the parents about the lockdown. The same message was sent out over the phone. I was surprised to learn that the lockdown had happened hours earlier. I had not been aware of it at all. I was also a little upset because what if something had happened? I would have LIKED to know something was up at the school so I could be aware of any messages or emails to watch for on my phone. I was also concerned about other parents being worried when being told by their children at the time they were picking them up that the school had gone into lockdown. With so many bad things happening at schools these days – shootings and such – of course we’ll be a little worried when being told the school has gone into lockdown, but it would have been nice to know when it actually happened and not hours later when the situation had ended.

Well, obviously, nothing did happen. There was a police incident in the area and the police had requested the school go into lockdown. That is all that I know and all that I was told. Unfortunately, there was nothing about this police incident on the news this afternoon. So the details are sketchy.

I explained all of this to Jesse and assured him that everything was okay. He was upset that a lockdown had even happened at his school. I explained to him that his school went into lockdown for his safety. They did it so that the bad guys could not get into the school or be anywhere near the students playing outside. I pretty much told him it was so the school could keep the bad guys out. He was still troubled about it. I assured him that the school did it to keep everybody safe and that the staff know what to do if anything goes wrong. They are trained to act in emergency situations. I reminded him about learning about school lockdown before. It seemed to make him feel better.

Also today, I came across a funny historical fact in a World War II book I am currently reading. Before Eisenhower became President, he was in the military. He and some other fellow officers had their picture in a newspaper. Unfortunately, whoever captioned the photo incorrectly identified Ike as “Lt. Col. D. D. Ersenbeing.” Um….Ersenbeing?? LOL I had a good laugh over that. I even verified that on the Internet and it really happened. Eisenhower even admits to this in his memoir.

Wow, and I thought MY maiden name was often misspelled.

But my first name is often misspelled, too. I have had it spelled “Don” or even “Donn” so many times, sometimes I wonder if I am two different people! Yes. My masculine alter ego is indeed named Don Kolkausser. Let this be known! He is not to be confused with Daniel Colclasure!


This reminds me of silly and confusing voicemail messages I have received on my phone. I am not talking about people calling a wrong number, either. I am talking about recorded messages from my kids’ schools. I have a feature on my phone that transcribes voicemail messages into text and, well, it looks like it ain’t exactly perfect.

These are some of the messages I have received:

“Hey Simmons, I has got a picky guy. Nathaniel.” Then: “Dear parents, guardians, students of (some school my daughter doesn’t go to).”

“Hey Simmons, I had set up with you Dennis.” Then: “Dear parents or guardians. Please your calendars for our families star night on…”

“Hey Simmons, I had set up with you Dennis Daniel.” Then: “Dear parents and guardians. Please set…”

“Hey, Samantha has a picky guy. Nathaniel.” Then: “Dear parents, guardians and students…”

“Hey Simmons, I had set up at the dentist by noon.” Then: “Dear parents, guardians and students…”

My kids have also been misidentified, with names ranging from Justin, Donald and Jonathan. (Interestingly, they have uncles named Justin and Donald.)

Sure, I have a good laugh over these incorrect names, but even more of a laugh when the wrong words are used. It’s all good, though. I am usually able to figure out most of what the messages are trying to say!

Monday, May 11, 2015

A case for Mother's Day

WARNING! This blog post is a rant!

Earlier today, I read came across something on Facebook that made me see red. Apparently, a mom out there in the world thinks that we should not celebrate mothers on Mother’s Day, because doing so makes it seem like mothers are more important than women who are not mothers.

Excuse me?

I for one think there DEFINITELY needs to be a day celebrating moms, just as we definitely need a day celebrating dads. What’s next, saying there shouldn’t be a Grandparents Day either??

I don't regret celebrating Mother's Day. I truly feel it is a day moms, the GOOD moms, totally earn. (And dads earn the Father's Day, too!) For those of us moms who actually CARE about our kids and want to do what we can to keep them happy and healthy, I think one day of recognition is nice. It feels nice to be appreciated for all that we do.

Sorry to those women out there who don't have kids, can't have kids, won't have kids or lost their kids. Or are sick of their kids. Or who lost their mom and are bummed by Mother's Day. (FYI: I know that pain.) We need to keep Mother’s Day whether you like it or not!

Believe it or not, there ARE good moms out there. I have seen my share of bad moms, but good moms DO exist! And for those of us who sacrifice so much for our child/ren, we moms really give a lot of ourselves! Especially when we are by ourselves and hardly have anything. Let alone money to feed our child. Believe me, I know. I know the struggle of trying to have a happy home when by ourselves. I have been there. I was alone with my child once upon a time.

People who are not parents will NEVER understand what a parent would give up for a child. Now I know these people count among them women who are NOT parents but only because they can’t have children themselves – that doesn’t mean it’s okay to hate on other women who ARE moms! And don’t hate on Mother’s Day, either. Then there are the selfish crowd, which includes celebrities without kids. They’re too busy loving themselves, focusing only on themselves and living for themselves. They never think about a child’s welfare, let alone anybody else’s child.

So. That said, don’t hate on Mother’s Day just because you are feeling left out or think this “mom thing” is overrated. Like I said, it’s nice to be recognized and appreciated for all that I do for my kids as their mother. Even if it’s just for one day a year.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mother's Day 2015

Before today came along, I had an idea of some things I hoped to be able to do or get done today. I carried them around in my head for a while before finally writing them all down. Mother’s Day this year seemed to be pretty blessed for me, because I was able to check off almost everything on that list!

The day started with me sleeping in. Then I got to watch Sherlock while Jesse played. (So nice to watch TV without interruption!!) After that, I enjoyed two cups of coffee while reading a novel – also without interruption. (That item got crossed off my list!) Then I took a long, hot shower. After that, hubby and kids gave me their gifts. I received a box of chocolates (yay! I’d hoped to be able to eat some chocolate today, so that item got checked off). I also received a scented pillar candle and a salted rock that lights up. (I’d been wanting one of those for a long time!) Jesse gave me not one but 3 Mother’s Day cards this years (one of them a shared card). Two of them were homemade cards. They were soo cute! He also gave me a cute project he worked on at school for Mother’s Day and a coupon for “uninterrupted reading time.” That’s always nice! I also got artificial lilies from Trev. (I actually wanted artificial flowers, not real flowers. I am hopeless with plants. I don’t have a green thumb, unfortunately. So if I’m given real flowers, they don’t last long!)

I also spent some uninterrupted time on Pinterest. I enjoy pinning stuff on Pinterest. Don’t hate!

Another thing I hoped would happen is going to IHOP for lunch. At first, hubby suggested Ye Olde Pancake House since IHOP was so far, but by the time we got to the Pancake House, they were closed. So we went to IHOP! Yay! I just wish there was an IHOP that was closer to us. We’d go there more often! We had a nice lunch at IHOP. The food was delicious.

After we came home from IHOP, I took a nap. Then I watched a TV show called Nature’s Weirdest. It was pretty cool! After that, the kids and I went to a playground that we’d never been to before. So fun to explore a new place! They have a different kind of monkey bars there. They are like a twisty kind. Jesse tried to go on top of them and at first he was scared, then after a while he did it. Woo-hoo! We had a great time there and it was nice to check out that area.

When we got home, we just chilled out around the house. Hubby got us McDonald’s for dinner and now I have written this blog post, another item I hoped to check off my list. I also hope I will be able to check off the last item: Watch Supernatural!

It’s been a great Mother’s Day and I feel so blessed to enjoy it with my kids.

Saturday, May 09, 2015

The last soccer game

Today was Jesse’s last soccer game of the Spring season. When the season started, I was worried about his seasonal allergies being a problem. There were only a couple of times his allergies were a problem, though. Nothing major happened. No asthma attack or anything. The one time it was at its worst was when I forgot to give him a bath after practice (to wash all the pollen off of him) but that was it. He made it through the season okay. I am very grateful. It also helped that we remembered to keep him on his allergy medicine every day!

He has enjoyed playing soccer this season. It has been quite an experience for us getting to the practices, games, and coordinating a communication system to make sure I knew when everything is supposed to happen. We look forward to the next season!

Here are pictures from today’s last game. (Jesse is #24.)

Friday, May 08, 2015

Don't call it what you want

I have said it before and I'll say it again: Labels suck!

How damaging can it be when someone is just casually living life, being herself and doing her own thing, only to suddenly have a label planted on her and now all of a sudden she doesn't know who she is anymore? Very damaging, apparently. So damaging that it caused said person to suddenly be so confused about herself that she had to go to counseling.

Said person happens to be my daughter.

For the longest time, my daughter has been a tomboy. TOMBOY. It's a word. We've been using this word for years to describe girls who are not very girly. You know these girls: They dress like boys, they talk like boys, they do "boy stuff" and play with "boy toys" (although, in MY house, we DO NOT have such distinctions!). You know, they prefer guy friends over girl friends. They'd rather play basketball instead of doing their nails.

And for the longest time, girls were cool about being a "tomboy." Even though it's a LA-BEL. But we went with it because that's a pretty accurate and not-so-complicated a description of the kind of person we were. It was a flexible description – and that's why it worked.

And I was a tomboy. I wore jeans and flannels, hung out with guys, played B-ball and all that. I just related to guys better. (I STILL relate to guys better!) So I know all about it.

That's why it didn't bother me at all that my daughter was also a tomboy. I was totally cool with it and I still am.

But, now, all of a sudden, we can't use the word "tomboy" anymore. Now we call such people "gender fluid." And apparently, that's a VERY complicated person to be, because being called "gender fluid" means you are someone who is CONFUSED about yourself, CONFUSED about who you are and CONFUSED about how you are supposed to live life.

I can only shake my head and think, Seriously?

This is why I hate labels. Labels just make life COMPLICATED. I mean, when somebody labels you, all of a sudden you have to fit into this mold and be what the label says you must be. You can't be you, you have to be what this label SAYS you must be. You. Must. Blend in!!

Excuse me while I get up on my soapbox and scream: STOP THE INSANITY!!

WHY do we have to attach labels to people? Why must we look at someone and automatically label them?

"Oh, she's wearing a crucifix. She must be a Christian."

"Oh, he's got his black hair up and all wild. He must be a Goth."

"Oh, she's wearing a Yale sweatshirt. She musta gone to YALE!"

I mean, the labeling thing gets really out of hand. It's like we can't live a certain way anymore, talk a certain way anymore, or dress a certain way anymore without someone coming around and slapping a label on us.

I for one don't buy this whole "gender fluid" thing. I mean, if it's just another way of calling a girl a "tomboy" or a guy "metrosexual," then FINE. But I'm not okay with it if it is going to mess up somebody's life and suddenly make them feel uncomfortable to be who they are just because they don't fit a mold. If they’re gender fluid, then cool! Be okay with that. Embrace that. But don’t let it shatter your world and make you confused about who you are.

I, personally, think that from time to time, the male gender and the female gender will tend to dominate for a while. You know? At the very minimum, we do not have a gender. It's all based on the scientific composition of our bodies. We are born a gender but we’ll feel the opposite on the inside. A guy will act feminine because the female gender is dominant. Or, a girl will act masculine because the male gender is dominant. It's NORMAL. And it's not permanent. It can last a long time, yes, but it's not permanent. And it can suddenly happen at any point in life. It’s normal for this to happen and it’s totally okay.

That is what I feel. That is what I believe.

And that is what I have been trying to explain to my daughter. There's no reason to be confused about your identity. You are 13 and don't have all the answers right now. Just be you. Be yourself. Keep doing your thing and live the way that is comfortable for YOU, and not how other people preaching "gender fluid" say you should be.

Don't try to be someone you are not just because you have been labeled. Don't give up on who you are just for the sake of trying to fit into some mold.

Be true to yourself. Be yourself. And be happy with it. Please.

LATER: Jen and I sat down to a good long talk and I shared with her many of the things I have written here. She seems to feel more certain about herself and a little better. That gives me hope that she'll be okay.

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Pinterest grievances

Some time ago, I joined Pinterest. I got interested in it after I noticed the child I was babysitting was using it on her phone. Curious, I asked her about it, then checked it out myself. I liked what I saw so I signed up. Soon I learned people I knew were also using Pinterest so I started following them. I also followed people who shared my interests, as well as boards that I liked. Wasn’t long before it became an addiction for me, and I am happy to report that I curbed that addiction in time. I set up a system of “Pinterest use” where I was not ALWAYS on Pinterest.

Still, it’s a fun site. I have enjoyed using it.

That was, until I followed someone who thought it was okay to spam his followers.

Because my son plays soccer, I set up a soccer board on Pinterest. This is for me to learn more about the sport, pin pictures about it and just anything related to soccer, really. I did the same with baseball because my daughter used to play baseball – and I just love baseball, anyway.

Well, I followed one particular pinner who has a lot of soccer boards on his account. In fact, he wrote an ebook about soccer playing tips. I know this because I saw it advertised as a free download when I read his “About” description. (I read that of everyone who follows me on Pinterest.) Soon after I followed this guy, he sent me a message letting me know he had a FREE ebook about soccer and I could just email him for a copy. That particular message irritated me, first of all because I already KNEW about the free ebook, and if I wanted a copy, I would’ve contacted him about it. Second, it’s outright spam. And spamming people is NOT cool!

This dude also used something called a “pinbot” to send me pins he thought I might like. I did not look at these pins. I did the same thing I do when Pinterest sends me such emails: I DELETED THEM.

I don’t want people sending me pins to check out on Pinterest. When my family or friends do it, fine. But with people I barely know? Not so much. It’s really annoying because they do not know me at all, I do not know them, and why the heck do they think it’s okay to send me pins I might like? Let me find it on my own! Even better: Just pin it! I’ll see it in the feed! Y’know?

Despite these grievances with this person, I have not unfollowed him. I ignored him, yes, but he’s got good soccer stuff on his boards I know I’ll want to check out. But if he does spam me again, or uses that “pinbot” thing again, he’s gone. I won’t tolerate that from people I don’t know.

Pinterest has been a pleasant experience thus far and I enjoy using it. I only hope the spamming and the “pinbotting” thing does not come at me from strangers in a flood of emails. I really don’t want to deal with that. I am fine with people commenting on pins -- and, sometimes, I'll even comment, too, if I have something to say. Comments are not the problem. Spam is the problem. And if it gets out of hand, I might contact Pinterest about it or set something up where messages have tighter filters.

P.S. I also find it annoying they changed the way the pins appear when you click on it in the feed. In the past, I clicked on a pin so I could see the WHOLE thing or read it better or watch a clip, and it would come up without the feed changing or anything. Then it closed right back to where it was. Then they changed it. If I click on a pin, it goes to that page. I have to go BACK to get back to the feed but it automatically reloads with NEW pins added when I do that, taking me back to the top to see all the new pins. And thereby losing my place. I can’t go back to where I was. It’s REALLY aggravating! I have started to open pins in new tabs to avoid this but sometimes I forget and lose my place in the feed. And I lose pins, too. I don’t have the TIME for that, people. But that’s just me!  NOTE: They changed it back! YAY!!! Thank you, Pinterest! You rock!