Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Three months after the heart scare

A few months ago – on the day before my 41st birthday – I had what I later called a “heart scare.” You can read about what happened here. Suffice to say it was a huge wake-up call for me. While I WAS planning on making dietary and living changes on the day of my birthday, this incident hammered home just how important it was to make those changes.

Up until that point, I’d been dealing with occasional chest pain that was so severe, I’d be on the floor clasping at my chest. It usually happened once a month. One time, it was so bad, the skin of my right hand turned blue. (My daughter had called 911 at that time.) This was something I figured I just had to live with, but after the worst of it – on May 24th of this year – I decided I’d had enough. I had to DO something! I had to make some changes.

So, I made changes.

First, I changed my diet. I added more fruits and vegetables to my diet and I started drinking A LOT of water. I cut down on my soda consumption as well as how much alcohol I consumed (which is usually beer – I can’t stand the taste of other alcoholic beverages).

I also started taking aspirin every day. Eventually, I started taking a multivitamin every day, as well.

I tried to start walking, but a burning sensation in my chest scared me so bad that I stopped. I learned that was just my lungs not used to this exertion and returned to walking, though at a shorter distance. With the kids home from school, my time to exercise was compromised, but I did squeeze in walking where possible. With the kids going back to school soon, I’ll be exercising more often.  

These changes have been good for me, because aside from the burning lungs, I have not had ANY other chest pain at all. I am grateful for the opportunity to try new foods and eat healthier, and I am also happy that I am more active now. I also think all that extra water I’ve been drinking has been good for me too. And I am grateful I haven’t had chest pain. I’ve made 3 months without it! Yay!

These changes have not been easy. I did allow the weekend to be my cheat days, when I could eat whatever I wanted, but it’s like I am frustrated with this diet. I am tired of it. I know it has been good for me but lately I’ve been thinking of ditching it. We will see, but so far, I have been doing better.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Why full-day kindergarten was better than half-day for my kids

Back-to-school is in 3 weeks and something is going to be different for many kindergartners in the Lane County School District: Full-day kindergarten. This will not be new. Used to be that many elementary schools, as well as many K-8 grade schools, had full day kindergarten in the past. For a while there, however, they switched to half-day kindergarten. I figured this was done for financial reasons. I get it that schools have to do what they have to do to keep their doors open and continue to pay teachers. (Sadly, many schools in this area have been forced to close and many teachers have lost their jobs.) I totally get that switching to half-day kindergarten was just one way for schools to cut costs. I am all for keeping schools in a good financial situation. In the past, I’ve donated to fundraisers and financially supported my kids’ school in whatever way possible. But given that each of my children have experienced full-day kindergarten as well as half-day kindergarten, I gotta say that given a choice between the two, I support full-day kindergarten.

These are just some of the things I learned from my son’s experience of going to half-day kindergarten compared to what my daughter got out of full-day kindergarten:

Full-day kindergarten prepares students for normal school hours.

Both of my kids attended preschool and sometimes they were not there for a full-day. I tried to have them attend full-day whenever possible because they LOVED their preschool and I felt it was a great way for them to prepare for being at school, albeit “Big Kid School,” for a longer period of time. This, however, didn’t happen and, wow, did my daughter have a time adjusting to being away from home for so long. She was used to it by the time she got to first grade, however. With my son, he was only at Big Kid School for a few hours – a BIG change from his preschool hours! Then after he went to school fulltime in the first grade, it was hard for him to adjust to being at school for so long. He just was not used to it, even though he was going to the same school he attended in kindergarten.

I understand that not all parents can afford to put their kids into preschool. I can’t judge how first going half-day then full-day in between grades would affect young children. That’s something for another parent to share about, I suppose.

Half-day kindergarten seemed like a waste of time.

As I went back and forth dropping my son off for school then driving to pick him up again, there were MANY times when I’d arrive at his school or his bus stop asking myself, Wasn’t I just here? Seriously, it seemed like only a few hours ago he was off to school. I seriously began to doubt if he was gaining much out of that very brief time he was there. Exactly how much teaching can you squeeze into that short amount of time? His teacher often sent home “supplemental schoolwork” for him to do at home and this further made me wonder if that stuff could’ve been worked on at school IF he was there long enough for it. With my daughter, she often came home from school with so many stories of ALL the things they did in her school day and things that happened at the school. It just seemed like my son barely even had any kind of kindergarten education when he attended for half-day.

The half-day schedules were CHAOS compared to full-day schedules.

Many schools have “no school” days. When my son was attending half-day kindergarten, however, the “no school” days became a game of cat and mouse. My son attended P.M. kindergarten and when it came to a “no school” days or half days, it was not easy figuring out who REALLY did not have school. On some days, the A.M. kinders had school but not the P.M. kinders – or vice versa. I always had to figure out myself if my son had to be at school on a certain day or no. Plus, they often changed release times for special days. Then if that wasn’t enough, it messed around with his bus schedule. I found that out the hard way when a bus driver on a different route had to let me know my son was on his bus. So what bus he got off on those special hours was always a mystery to figure out. With my daughter, however, on full-day kindergarten, “no school” meant no school.

Lunch was an issue.

The brutal truth about children: They get hungry. A LOT. And when a child is in school for even a few hours, he/she is gonna start asking for a snack every now and then. Being hungry at school was not an issue for my daughter because she was there for a full-day and got to eat lunch in the cafeteria and they also had snacks. But with my son, they didn’t serve lunch at first. I would, of course, feed my son breakfast before driving him to the bus stop, but eventually he started coming home and complaining about not being able to eat anything at school. Not even a snack. I took this up with the school and soon they started giving the P.M. kinders a brown bag lunch. The children were not able to eat in the cafeteria like the other kids, unfortunately, and, because they got a brown bag lunch, their choice of food was limited to a sandwich, fruit or veggie, milk and a cheese stick. This was not much of an improvement for my son because the only sandwich he would eat at that time was a peanut butter sandwich, and because a child in his classroom (where they were eating their food) had a peanut allergy, that kind of sandwich was forbidden. I really tried to get Jesse to eat the meat sandwich the school gave to him but he WOULD NOT touch it. (Even today, he doesn’t eat a meat sandwich!) I had to resort to sending along snacks, like crackers, for him to eat during their lunch time. When he went to first grade, however, the variety of foods available at the cafeteria took care of his lunch time problem.

Full-day kindergarten was SO much better than half-day because I had more time.

Now I have a personal reason why I like full-day kindergarten better than half-day: I got so much more done while my child was at school longer. I was able to work on my books longer, write more articles, read longer and run more errands – all because I had the time. I was able to get SO MUCH done in that uninterrupted time and it made for a better afternoon for myself and my child because, after a productive day, I could spend more time with her and give her more of my attention. I worked from home when both of my kids were in kindergarten so I did the bulk of my work while my daughter was at school. With my son, I did spend time with him for a while after he came home, but then I was back at the desk working on finishing up that last article I had to turn in to meet my deadline.

Going to kindergarten for half-day was not a complete disaster for my son, however. He still got to experience being in an elementary school setting. He still went on the annual field trips and got to attend the annual events. He still got to experience riding the bus to and from school. And he still got used to what kind of behavior was expected of him with his classmates and his teacher. I just really think full-day kindergarten would have been better for him because he would have been at school the same time that everybody else is at school and he would have been able to do more things. Learn more things.

Full-day kindergarten seems to have more benefit to children, in my opinion. I just really think it’s best for a child to attend kindergarten during the same hours their first grade and fifth grade classmates attend, because it will cause less confusion. I also feel they will be able to do more “kindergarten” stuff. I am glad students will be attending kindergarten fulltime this school year and I hope it will help ease their transition to regular first grade schedules when that time comes.

Monday, August 17, 2015

The parental order that is keeping us fat

A lot of people have probably gone through this situation: As a child, they would not be able to finish their meal. “I’m full,” they would have said. Despite the food still left on their plate: The half-eaten chicken, the mashed potatoes they made sculptures with instead of devouring, and the green beans they were loath to touch but they had to eat a few bites of it anyway because their mother told them they need to eat their vegetables. Well, eating your vegetables is NOT bad advice from a parent. In fact, it’s GOOD for kids to eat their vegetables! I tell my kids to eat their vegetables all the time. (It’s an ongoing battle.)

I don’t have a problem with that sort of parental instruction. But what I do have a problem with is the reply that most kids get and have gotten whenever they try to leave the table when there is still food on their plate: “Clean your plate.” This is usually followed with, “There are starving kids in Africa who have nothing to eat” or “Most kids don’t get to eat that food.” I had this happen a lot, especially since I grew up in a family of seven kids and one working parent. We really struggled, especially with food. And my mom always told us we had to eat ALL of our food. We were not allowed to leave the table unless we cleaned our plates. My grandmother, who lived through the Great Depression, always heaped food on us too, and she always encouraged us to eat every bite. (Heck, she fed anybody who came through her door. God bless her.)

The reason why I have a problem with this kind of instruction is because it’s one way a lot of people end up packing on extra pounds. A lot of the meals that people eat are not portion-controlled and restaurants are KNOWN for heaping too much food onto plates when they serve an order.

This is certainly one way I have put on extra weight. I was skinny in my early twenties but, yes, I have put on weight since then. I recently made changes to my diet and it has made me take a good hard look at the foods we’re all eating, how much we eat and eating habits that keep us from losing weight (like eating in front of the TV, eating when we are bored, etc.).

But there are many times when I will have my mother looming over my shoulder in some form and reminding me of something or another (like “say thank you even if you hate the gift” or something like that). And one thing she said to me as a child that sticks with me? “Clean your plate.” But the problem is, sometimes I can’t clean my plate! And I don’t think we should have to, either.

Ever since I made these diet changes, I have noticed my appetite grow smaller. I just can’t eat the same size or amount of foods that I used to. (Something I am happy about!!) Like today, for example. I started out as eating a peanut butter sandwich for lunch. Three quarters into that sandwich, hubby wanted to split his ginormous-sized Greek salad with me. I happily accepted, because I love to eat salad and also because I never had Greek salad before so I wanted to try it. What was left of my sandwich was soon forgotten as I dug into that salad, but I soon noticed that I was full. (One of my new eating habits is to pay attention to when I am full and stop eating.) Ordinarily, I would force myself to finish eating the sandwich (the salad did not go to waste because hubby ate the rest of it), but I no longer force myself to keep eating a meal if I am full. And I really didn’t think the world would end if I didn’t clean my plate. (It didn’t.) I did feel a tinge of guilt as I threw away what was left of the sandwich and if my mother were alive to see it, she might’ve been upset. But I think she would have understood why I just can’t continue to clean my plate at every meal.

No, I’m not doing that anymore. And I don’t make my kids do that, either. (I WANT them to stop eating when they are full! Or no longer hungry.) I really don’t think it is a healthy eating habit to force ourselves to eat when we are full. Sure, I see the reason why so many parents tell their kids to clean their plates at mealtime, but is it really a good idea to force our kids to keep eating when they are filled to bursting? I think that the better thing to teach them is to listen to their bodies and to stop eating when they feel full. Otherwise, it’s an invitation for extra pounds weighed up at the scale.

If we can’t clean our plate, it can mean a variety of things. It might mean we don’t like the food. It might mean that something came up and we can’t finish eating. Or, you know, it might also mean that we are full. There’s always that possibility. With me, as long as my kids took a few bites of the IMPORTANT food that is on their plate (the main course), I’m okay with them excusing themselves because they are full. And I think some other parents should try to be okay with that too.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

25 more letters

Sometimes I have a “Plan A” to resolve problems or work through a situation. Too often, though, Plan A fails. I often joke that the motto of my life could be, “OK, new plan!” Because I’ve had so many experiences where Plan A just didn’t work out the way I had hoped. For this reason, one of my sayings is, “Always have a Plan B!”

But for some reason or another, I did not have a Plan B for a certain situation I hoped I had worked out. I just thought Plan A was enough. But today I learned that it was NOT enough! Admittedly, I did not think my plan through. Today, I sat down to do just that, just to see if it would REALLY work. I was really disappointed to discover that, unless I won the lottery or got a huge ghostwriting contract, it was not going to work. Darn!

And, I know, I shoulda just been okay with that. But I wasn’t. I was really bummed. I thought this plan was going to do it and, stupidly, I had my heart set on accomplishing this goal with THIS plan. That was my mistake. I should not have attached myself emotionally to making that plan work. Because I got so upset when realizing it wasn’t going to work. And while I know I gotta figure out something else, I am dealing with the disappointment of that plan not being the right one to accomplish this goal.

Then I remembered a quote I have seen before: "If Plan A doesn't work, the alphabet has 25 more letters." I have actually had to use those extra letters before. Once, when I was trying to do something, Plan A did not work. So I switched to Plan B. That didn’t work either! As I transitioned to Plan C, I started to grumble to myself, “How many letters of the alphabet do I have to go through before I find something that works!??!!”

Eventually, I did get done what I needed to do. It took several tries and lots of brainstorming but it finally happened.

I tried to console myself with this thought today but it didn’t help. Even so, I did come up with a new plan today. But then I realized that plan, Plan B, would not work either. So now I am on Plan C. This new plan changes everything but hopefully I will reach the end result that I hope to accomplish. I just want to accomplish this goal. Even if I have to take care of it until my last breath!

I am glad I came up with a better plan and I have a feeling that this one will work. From all that, I have learned that I have to avoid getting too set on a plan. Many times I have reminded myself to “stick to the plan” for some thing or another, but sometimes a plan just won’t work the way originally thought. Plans need to change or be dropped altogether. If Plan A doesn’t work out, then move to Plan B. And if Plan B also fails, keep going through the rest of the alphabet until a better plan surfaces.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Gluten-free foods are no joke

Today I found something attached to my screen door: A menu for a new pizza place. Ordinarily, I’d throw that stuff out, but the name of the pizza place grabbed me so I decided to look over the menu. Some of the choices looked pretty good and I was thinking of trying one or two of the pizzas on that menu sometime. Then something on their menu caught my eye: A claim that almost all of their pizzas are gluten-free. I sorta rejoiced over this, grateful that yet another food establishment is FINALLY recognizing how important it is to include foods that are gluten-free.

But why should I even care about that sorta thing? Because someone in my family almost got to a point where gluten became a “big deal.” That someone is my daughter.

Some time ago, my daughter, Jennifer, became ill. We were not able to figure out what was wrong and none of the medicines we gave to her helped. So, I took her to the doctor to find out what was wrong. After he examined her and she talked to him about her symptoms, he ordered a round of tests to be done. One of those tests was to see if she had Celiac Disease. When I saw that, I was puzzled. I was not sure what exactly Celiac Disease was. I have heard of it, but I didn’t know what it was. I got some feedback about it through my Facebook friends but I also did A LOT of research about it on my own. I came to find out that Celiac Disease meant someone who could not digest gluten, which is found in wheat. I was stunned to realize that this was a very real thing affecting a lot of people. All this time, I thought “gluten-free foods” was a joke. I did not think it was really important to remove gluten from foods. But this experience was a huge wake-up call and I was further surprised to learn that a relative has Celiac Disease. I realized that it is Very Important to remove gluten from foods because there really ARE people who cannot digest gluten or are even allergic to it. To say the least, my research on this sort of thing really opened my eyes to how important it is to have gluten-free foods. Seriously, this is no joke.

Well, the good news is that my daughter tested negative for Celiac Disease. But the whole experience made me more sensitive to people who are allergic to gluten and even those who have Celiac. Now I see all those “gluten-free” foods in the stores and I am grateful they are there!

And I think we need to spread more awareness about gluten-free foods, too. Today, when I was checking out a bunch of recipe boards on Pinterest, I didn’t see any that were specifically for gluten-free foods. For this reason, I decided to create a Gluten Free Foods & Info board on my own Pinterest account. You can find it here.

This was the first time I created a Pinterest board that didn’t have ANYTHING to do with my own interests, lifestyle, diet or personal situation. But I wanted to create the board all the same, because I personally have realized just how important it is for there to be gluten-free foods.

But it seems like a lot of people don’t really understand the full scope of the whole “gluten-free” thing.

Later on in the day, I was sitting on the couch with Jesse while he was watching one of his shows. In this particular episode, a character was trying to find out if she had a gluten allergy. At her doctor’s appointment, her doctor told her that her test results showed she was not allergic to gluten, and that he had suspected as much because, as he said, he reminded her that she told him she liked spaghetti.

THIS really irritated me. I guess the writer for that episode DID NOT do his/her homework! I rolled my eyes and grumbled, “There is gluten-free pasta.”

It’s this kind of disinformation about gluten intolerance that REALLY makes it important to spread the word about gluten and the kinds of gluten-free foods available on the market. Being allergic to gluten is not the end of the world. It doesn’t mean you can’t eat anything at all anymore. Yes, gluten is in a lot of foods, but you know what? There are a lot of gluten-free foods out there, too. A person with a gluten allergy can still eat spaghetti thanks to food companies producing gluten-free foods. We need more of them, I think. Until we knew my daughter’s test results, I took a really good look at just how much gluten-free foods were available at stores and just how lacking some stores and restaurants were in making gluten-free foods available to consumers.

Gluten allergy is a very real thing. Gluten-free foods are no joke. There are actually people out there who need those kinds of foods because they really CANNOT digest gluten. So I think we need more stores and more restaurants recognizing this sort of thing that is something that we need right along with low-sodium foods, and these places need to start working harder to make sure those kinds of foods are available.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Three things from my morning

Today was an unusual day – or, should I say, an unusual morning. Every once in a while, my mornings can be eventful. I get up and there’s something or another going on and I have to take care of that before I can even have my first cup of coffee. That’ll happen sometimes. But this morning, three different things happened, all in one morning! I know they say that things usually happen in threes, but these were not “bad” things. Just things that really had an impact on me.

Well, the first thing that happened this morning had to do with an event I had been invited to on Facebook. I need to back up a bit on that first and provide some background. I used to know someone locally through my daughter’s friend. This was the friend’s mom. She seemed nice so I figured I’d stay in touch with her and communicate with her every so often. Then she moved and we lost touch. Because we were connected through Facebook, I had hoped we would stay in touch at least through Facebook, but that didn’t happen. I did hear from her sometime after she moved – she needed my help with something – but after that, nothing. It’s like she dropped off the planet, or something. I figured, it’s fine. She’s going through stuff. I’ll hear from her when I hear from her. But it got to be like she didn’t really make much effort to try to communicate with me very much. I mean, it was years until I heard from her again, and even then, it was about something to do with stuff I was writing. (It was nice to know she was paying attention to what I was writing!) Then I recently heard from her again, about something mysterious, and then I get an invite to her event.

Which brings us up to date. This person organized a rally that she was hoping to get “at least 200 people” to. The rally was to be held in downtown Eugene. Now, I know that Facebook’s event invites system has it where EVERYBODY on the Friends list gets invited to an event, but when I got the invitation, I was not sure I wanted to go. I did feel bad for my friend and I expressed to her my condolences over her loss. But I was not sure about attending the rally. I had to put some serious thought into it. Be there for a friend who hardly kept in touch with me? Or put my kids first and not attend something where I could be arrested, Tasered or trampled to death if the shit hit the fan?

I decided to go with the latter. I had to think about my children. I just could not put myself into a situation where their mother would be arrested, Tasered or trampled to death if the shit hit the fan. (FYI: Part of the theme of this rally was anti-police.) I made peace with this decision – or so I thought.

This morning, as I was drinking my coffee and reading the news, I saw a news announcement about this rally on my personal Twitter feed. I took one look at that and ALL of a sudden, guilt reared its ugly head. I felt bad. I felt guilty. I felt like I was being a lousy friend.

But…I know that I made the right decision as a mother. I know that choosing NOT to participate in the rally was the right thing to do for my kids’ sake. I HAVE to be there for them. And I have to put them first. Even if I feel guilty about it or look like a lousy friend. So I saw that and just reminded myself, I made the right decision.

I had to remind myself again later on when I was logged in at Facebook and going over the Events calendar. I usually just scroll right past them when I check to see if today is anybody’s birthday, but for some reason this morning, I felt a strong feeling to look at the event invites very carefully.

Which brings us to the second thing that happened. Earlier this month, Jen got an invitation to a friend’s birthday party. The mom created an Event for this on Facebook. Because I am paranoid and suspicious by nature, I contacted the mother personally to let her know we would be there. This is why I did not say if I was “going” or to “decline” on the event page. I don’t post my plans for events and so forth on the Internet because you never know who will see it and might show up and end up killing everybody. You know? But maybe my not doing that is what caused me to be left out when I saw that the date of the event had changed. I took one look at that and I was all like, “Gah!” Suddenly I was in emergency mode, because I was pretty sure that date conflicted with something else we have plans for later on in the month. I ran to check my calendar and, sure enough, we had a scheduling conflict. I immediately contacted the friend’s mom and we talked about alternative plans. At first, I thought it was a mix-up on the date, but then I realized later on that I just did NOT get the memo that the date had been changed. I made a mental note to keep an eye out on that for next time. (Still not gonna “decline” or “accept” invitations on Facebook Event pages! Oh, I’m sure some homicidal maniac lurking on the Web, or even Big Brother, would like that.)

I am just glad that I saw that and worked things out to fix the scheduling conflict. 

As to the third thing that happened: When I was on Facebook today, I was busy scrolling through the Timeline, liking and sharing things. Also reading links to articles as well as blog posts. (And getting frustrated over a video about a church sermon that WAS NOT closed captioned so I couldn’t read anything the pastor said. Boo!) I came across something one of my friends shared that just really made me think. It was about this lady’s day in Portland being among the homeless. You can read what she wrote here:

I thought that was an amazing thing to read. So powerful. It really moved me. The homeless problem is not just bad in Portland but it’s also bad in Eugene, too. I see A LOT of people on the streets anyime that I drive anywhere. I give when I can. And I have given in the past. But it seems that we need to do more than to just give to the homeless. The author of that article pointed out something else we need to do too: “Talk to them.” She shared how she learned so much about the people struggling on the streets and cared more about their situations just by talking to them and hearing their stories.

This gave me pause. But it also reminded me of something that happened not too long ago.

See, I don’t make it a point to talk to people. I am NOT a social person. I don’t run my mouth when I’m around people. I am usually quiet, sometimes lost in thought, sometimes lost in a fictional world or listening to the music in my head. (Music I remember before I became deaf.) Yes, it is true that my deafness is the reason why I don’t socialize. I have had to deal with SO MUCH frustration over not being able to communicate with hearing people who could not sign or did not want to write things down that I just threw up my arms and gave up trying. I would LOVE to be able to talk with hearing people, but I can’t. That’s just the way it is. (It sucks being deaf!!)

And this is why I don’t really talk to the homeless people I see on the streets. I just can’t communicate with them. It’s not that I don’t want to; it’s just that I can’t!

But this one time, something really interesting happened.

One day, not too long ago, I was driving home from a doctor appointment. I came to a stoplight where a homeless man was holding up a sign saying “ANYTHING HELPS.” As a deaf driver, I make it a point to stay attentive to my surroundings and take notice of EVERYTHING when I am at a stoplight. This way, I can catch sight of people waiting to cross the street, a bicyclist coming to a stop beside me or a siren flashing of a police car or some other. I took notice of the man standing on the corner before I started looking around at everything else. (I have to rely on my eyes since I can’t rely on my ears!) Then I happened to see that the man was talking to me, gesturing and saying it was a hot day. I smiled at having understood what he said and replied that, yes, it was hot today. He started using gestures as he talked and, surprisingly, I was able to understand what he was saying as he talked just BECAUSE of these gestures. I was basically able to have a brief conversation with him thanks to his hand movements. That was a really nice surprise and I was glad for it too. I was glad I was able to understand the silent voice of someone who just wanted to be heard. And guess what? On that day, he was heard by a deaf person.

So after reading that article, and remembering that experience, I realized that, you know, maybe it wouldn’t hurt to give talking to them a chance. If I don’t understand them, then I don’t understand them. I will have to cross that bridge when I get to it. They just want someone to talk to or to get a smile from. If I can do that one thing despite being deaf, then I’ll call the rest of my day a good one.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

The case of the violin lessons

So there I was sitting at the desk, minding my own business and just passing the time. Then my daughter shows up with a request. On the face of it, the request seemed pretty normal: Jennifer wanted violin lessons. Sure I was surprised, but hey, what can ya do in this crazy world when everywhere you go there’s some surprise or another just waiting for you right around the corner? Still, I pondered the request. Violin lessons? Seems pretty normal. But why violin lessons, right out of the blue? Why now? And was this her way of taking after her idol, Sherlock Holmes? Never mind that she’s tried to practice the very same deduction skills so brilliantly implemented by Mr. Holmes, or the fact that she is slowly collecting the very same clothing that he wears. Even so, who better than to take after than the world’s most brilliant consulting detective? As long as she stayed off the drugs, I reasoned, I’d be fine with it. To that end, I decided that the violin lessons were a go. I would help her to start receiving them.

Next came the task of finding somewhere for her to take violin lessons. Being a part of a neighborhood watchgroup affords me the opportunity of sending out a request to the group for information of where violin lessons can be obtained. I deep-sixed the idea, though, after recalling my failed attempts to reach out to the group for another non-emergency service. That’s when Google knocked on my door. There entered Google, looking as smart as ever with eyes sharp as a hawk. The tone of voice was friendly and his offer to help me find local violin lessons seemed pretty darn persuasive. What the heck, I thought. What have I got to lose? So I paired up with Google on a hunt to find local violin lessons. One stop turned out to be a bust, as I soon came across negative reviews of one service that sent up a lot of red flags. Then Google introduced me to some dame innocently browsing the superhighway. She had all the right moves and knew the right words to say. Google seemed to be more certain about this one, so I did a background check before going any further. Turned out to all be legit. I phoned her the next day and we got to talking about these lessons that she provides. No song and dance here; she was straightforward and to the point. I have to admit, I was sold. It didn’t hurt that the price was right. We set up a day and time to meet and I penciled it into my schedule.

You would think that getting off on the right foot meant easy going all the way. Everything was fine until the day came for me to actually drive to the location where we agreed to meet. There were handy directions that helped me find my way, but some bozo sidetracked me and pretty soon I was lost. Next came the terrifying feeling of treading unknown territory. I was a stranger in a strange land.

Then help finally came to me as a Good Samaritan looked over my directions then pointed out where I had to go. His directions were easy enough and soon I was back on track. All this trouble just to get my girl to her violin lessons.

Finally, we arrived. Nice neighborhood. Suburban-type homes complete with a little kiddie slide in one yard and a basketball hoop in another. Families lived here. Real families.

I kept my cool. No sense in losing it when you’re in unfamiliar turf.

We walked up to the door and knocked. The dame greeted us with a smile and an aura of cheerfulness. We waited in her living room, sitting on her overstuffed couches, while she finished the lesson she was providing to some other odd soul. Then it was my daughter’s turn. I was invited to sit in an armchair decorated with a stuffed owl and a stuffed Grumpy Cat as Jennifer first learned how to hold a violin, understand the notes on a violin, write notes, etc. Arrangements were made for her to rent a violin until she procured her very own. 

Next came the paperwork. Nobody likes paperwork but it’s part of the job. I asked a few questions as I filled everything out and the next thing I knew, Jennifer was officially signed up for violin lessons. Her next lesson is next week – same day and time.

We left the place feeling that today was a good day. We accomplished what we set out to do. Got the job done. Now it was time to head home and call it a day.