Monday, July 26, 2010

Air Condtioning

We are members of an rural electric cooperative. We were eligible for a huge rebate to replace our heating/ac unit last winter, so we kissed the 20-year-old unit goodbye and thought we had eliminated our problems for a while.

Last night at 11:30, our air conditioning stopped. When the repairman arrived at 5:30 today, it took him only 10 minutes to determine that a piece of wire was to blame. It had shortened out and gotten against some other wires, causing the horrendous smell that made us think something was on fire. And apparently, we came close to having that happen!

Tyler, Jake and I were here today with no air. No a.c. makes for a very cranky mother and crankier sons!

Until 3 or 4 years ago (time is getting away from me), my workplace was UN-airconditioned. I remembered today that my favorite complaint to my principal was that "it's 9:30, my underwear is soaked through... it's time to go home!"

I would rather be cold than hot. I kept saying this in Paris as we "froze" in the sixty-degree temperatures. My theory is that you can always put more on if you're cold, but if you're hot, there is eventually a limitation to what you can remove!

The AC vent is right beside me here at the table... brrrrrrrrr.... loving it!!!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

"Blog Light"

If you are looking for deep thoughts in this blog, look elsewhere.

My friend is using her blogging for lengthy, introspective discussions... she's doing a fantastic job and I enjoy taking time to pause and study what she is saying... but my personal blog is my writing surface for whatever crosses my mind as I sit at the computer during a lull in my day or when I'm getting ready for bed.

I think the blog is my newest "doodle" page. The blog replaces:

the notes I wrote on notebook paper during class and then folded into some origami shape to pass along when the bell rang...

the doodling I did during college classes when the "lectures" became endless parades of sound going in one and out the other...

the "notes" I take during faculty meetings and share with my colleagues seated near me ("ask your PERSONAL questions on your OWN time!!!")

Deep thoughts are reserved for the other blog that I write. This one is "blog light". LOL!

Jake has come in and joined me at the table with his watercolors. He's painting a house. Without the ability to read/write, he uses art for expression. It's a great way for me to know what is going on inside that brain :)


Besides his baking skills, Rentel is also handy when my mind doesn't understand my computer (which is often).

Thanks to Kevin for saving my backgrounds from "The Cutest Blog on the Block".

He has my username and password... if strange blogs that don't sound like my bits of wisdom start showing up, he's hacking my pages :)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

"I don't want to be on 'Hoarders'!!!"

I think that was what I said today when I explained that some serious purging needed to be done in the "master bedroom".

I sacrificed... I put 12 bags/purses in the "go away" sack.

The biggest purge was makeup and lotions whose expiration dates have long passed. They were taking up valuable space and I was amazed (and thrilled!) by the space that we gained with all that removed from the shelves!

My ancestors were hoarders... my grandma... my dad... so it's only natural that I would become a hoarder, but fortunately my OCD-tendencies make it impossible for me to be comfortable in chaos. This gene bypassed me but has landed squarely in my oldest child who refuses to part with anything and has the bedroom (basement, garage, truck interior) to prove it.

Who knows what I will find in the next round of purging??? I found some pictures tonight that I was missing. I was glad to see them again. :)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Rentel's Chocolate Chip Cookies

Those of you who know me well know that I do not concede defeat very easily.

I concede defeat to Kevin Rentel's baking abilities.

Kevin has this INCREDIBLE chocolate chip cookie recipe. He makes the cookies and brings them in to school. There are actually audible heart palpitations among us when he whispers "I brought cookies!" (He has to whisper it b/c if the students heard him, they would storm his desk area searching for them. He can/does reward the kids with promises of baking cookies for them.)

They are like little puffs of heaven with chocolate chips delightfully distributed through them. They literally melt in your mouth like every proper chocolate chip cookie should. I got one warm from the oven tonight... fabulous!!!

(Another blog will have to be devoted to his Lemon Blossoms, aka The Cupcake Bastards, but the recipe for those can be found on Paula Deen's website. Kevin has altered it a bit. )

Once upon a time, he gave me the cookie recipe and I attempted the chocolate chip wonders. My husband, who had been previously gifted with Kevin's baking, said "Leave the baking to Kevin".

Apparently, Kevin has the magic touch with his culinary skills. :)

It's good to work with younger and talented people!!!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

My blog backgrounds

Apparently, my blog backgrounds expire Friday.

Apparently, I need a degree in computer science to read the HTML to redesign this.

This was a much easier process when I created these blogs.

So, if you read this on Friday, you may see a white background to my ramblings. Maybe I can make Kevin figure it out :)

No more transfusions in my future so I have to start on school work. ugh.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A Tower in Pisa

I love this picture!

There was a huge area of grass around the Tower surrounded by chains and with signs that read (in ENGLISH) "Do Not Step On The Grass". So, of course, there were hundreds of tourists all over the grass!!!

We did the right thing and stayed on the sidewalk. :)

Christy suggested this pose and I am glad she did because I loved it the minute I saw it in my camera! It only took us one try to get that shot!

Choosing European pix

We finished our 7th infusion today. Hopefully, we will complete the LAST one tomorrow morning. Then we are off to St. John's for bloodwork and hopefully, the PICC removal!

Today I sorted through my pictures from Europe and determined which ones I want to print. I also sorted through Christy's and "stole" some of hers. I sorted through about 1700 pictures and chose only 90-some pix to send to mpix for processing. :P

I think my choices are unusual from what I normally would choose. I chose people pix with the monuments, some of Tyler just being himself, and where we posed in front of a great scene/backdrop. But the majority I chose were architectural... Eiffel Tower, Colosseum, Leaning Tower of Pisa... but also just doorways, windows, views we took from heights, etc... I'm going to put some of them together in a wall collage, but I chose a couple of shots that I'm going to enlarge and put on my classroom wall for those "mini-mental vacations" I try to take about once an hour. :) One of my favorite shots is pictured here... I took it from the top of the castle that Tyler, Christy, and I climbed in a little town in Northern Italy.

Monday, July 19, 2010

To Blog or Not To Blog...

So many thoughts... do I really want them all out there in cyberspace for all to read?

Self-editing has to occur... and I can't self-edit very well (as can be confirmed by my English-teaching colleagues who must edit my written work -- LOL!). I really need someone to pass my ideas by and that person can say "nope, you can't write that in your blog!"

So... I stick with "safe" topics that won't offend or get me in trouble with anyone. Hmm... kind of boring.

But what to write about today??? I could discuss football helmets that don't fit... or entertaining a restless 6-year-old i.v. transfusionist... or DirecTV's "service"... or the fact the dogs barked at something all night long...

Everyone needs a way to communicate their ideas/feelings/concerns/frustrations. A blog seems a peaceful way to piece everything out... and then... if you are feeling adventurous... you hit the "publish post" for all the world to see.

I was told today that it's a lot cheaper than therapy and that's certain! It also saves me from verbalizing something "from the hip" and gives me that time to "self-edit" that I so desperately need :)

Friday, July 16, 2010

Christy's blog

Christy is writing great blog material! Follow hers too!!!


I have a co-worker (that would be Kevin Rentel) who swears Facebook is the work of the devil. Being Catholic, I'm sure he has more knowledge of the Devil and his works than this life-long Methodist, so I've got to listen to his reasoning :)

Kevin thinks nothing good comes of using FB, and after he's had to rid my computers of the viruses encountered through my FB usage, I will contend that he could be correct.


(you had to know that was coming Kev...)

I have 372 FB friends. I used FB to communicate each day's progress while Jake was hospitalized in Springfield. Some of the people who followed it...

my other son
my family, including some family I only see once a year these days
my friends in El Do
my friends from elem/high school/college days
my co-workers/friends
my former students, some of whom I had not heard from in a long time

...and all these people followed the posts and sent well-wishes and most importantly, offered prayers in Jake's behalf.

They also conveyed prayer requests at their churches in El Do and Nevada and I know the power of all these combined prayers helped heal that horrible infection. We are so grateful.

A dear friend of mine also used FB to challenge all of HER FB friends to make their daily post a get-well message to Jake. I read over 40 posts to Jake that night from people of all ages. It certainly brightened Jake's night to hear what people were wishing for him!

So... Kevin might be right that FB is the work of the devil and where the viruses are concerned, I might agree. But I also think that God is at work on FB, providing a way for people to convey needs and having those needs spiral through our community :)

(just think of what FB did for Makenzie's Google Doodle!!! :) )

Here's to careful FB usage :)

Greetings From The Funny Farm

I rode a school bus for nine years and seven of those years, I was driven by a fantastic guy by the name of Mike Clark. Since I was one of the last kids to be let off the bus each afternoon, I got to know Mike well as we would move to the front and visit with him after the large group of kids got off in Harwood.

Our bus was outfitted in a stereo and speakers in the front, middle and back of the bus. I rode a lot of miles listening to WHB out of Kansas City. All of the kids knew each other well, but sometimes fights would begin and Mike would dole out his punishments to the offenders.

One year, I gave Mike a Garfield poster for Christmas. It was Garfield and Odie in a padded room with the phrase "Welcome to the Funny Farm" written on the bottom. Mike put that poster up in the front of the bus and it was still hanging there the last day he took me home on the bus before I transferred to Nevada for high school.

I've been thinking about that poster. I think I'm going to be placed in my own funny farm before school starts. With Jake feeling better, he's able to talk, talk, talk and complain about not being able to do everything he wishes to do... like play with his construction vehicles in his compost pile. My sanity might be iffy as it is and I'm not sure I'll survive until he's fully recovered. :O


From the hospital, we arrived home with a PICC line inserted in Jake's right arm.

It's my job once a day to infuse my son with two medications via the PICC line.

Day One was nightmarish. My training occurred 30 minutes after I arrived home from St. John's (and after 6 days there... and several days of a sick kid... and 12 days in Europe... and 18 hours of trans-Atlantic flight). It was a blur as our home health nurse ran thru the instructions. She left him hooked to the machine and I got to disconnect and cleanse.

Day Two and it's my turn to do this solo. I had several questions and no luck calling the support staff. Thankfully, I have the cell number of an RN in my phone and he was able to answer my questions and reassure me that I could get the job done. (He's always been one of my best cheerleaders! :) )

Day Three went smoothly as I felt more confident in what I was doing.

Day Four had the nurse visiting while Jake was doing his infusion. Jake's vitals were great, the PICC line looks great, and she told me I was doing a great job with the IVs. If only the patient were not feeling so spirited!!! It's getting hard to keep him slowed down!

Only four more days to go! It takes nearly 3 hours for the entire process from start to finish. The nurse gave me permission to speed up the IV a tad and we are going to start earlier each day so the patient won't be as restless as the time wears on...

I'm praying that his blood work will be terrific on the 21st... otherwise I have another week to look forward to of infusions. School is going to start soon and Jake hasn't even been in the water... pool, lake, White Water, anything!!! Poor kid!


Jake was so sick. After the appendectomy, an abcess grew in his lower pelvis. That 5 cm nightmare made our baby feverish - 103.5 degrees at one point - and I found myself growing frustrated as I tried to make him comfortable.

One shift of nurses promised pain relief. The next shift also promised. The third shift explained that a decision had been made not to medicate him so that the procedure to remove the abcess could be performed ASAP.

These women were only doing what they had been told to do. They didn't realize that I didn't know the doctor's decision. But, they worked hard to help me take care of him and they worked hard to keep me calm and patient.

I cannot believe the working conditions they endure. One of our nurses was there every day that we were so she worked 6 days in a row, either 8 or 12 hours per day. She was running back and forth between the pediatric floor and the PICU. The census (number of patients) was low, so the two floors were sharing nurses. (????!!!!!!????) At one point, they were caring for a 10-day old baby on the pediatric floor. He stopped breathing and they rushed him to the PICU, 3 floors down. His nurse had to go with him but she was still responsible for the other patients back on the 7th floor. (That baby was eventually intubated, still did poorly and was flown to St. Louis.)

Another of our nurses worked a 3-11 shift one afternoon/night. I wandered out to the nurses' station at 2 am and she was still there. She didn't have time to do reports on her shift, so she had to stay and complete them after her shift "ended".

I didn't hear a single nurse complain about anything. AND, every single time they came in our room, they not only asked Jake what they could do for him, they asked me and anyone who was visiting us, if they could help us or get us anything.

They let Jake scream and cry (without telling him he had to stop disturbing others), they encouraged him when he wasn't feeling well, and they thrilled in the fact he was feeling sooooo much better after the procedure was complete and the drain tube was doing it's job.

I was so impressed! I appreciate their dedication to their jobs and their love of the children for which they care each day.

Thank you to the St. John's Pediatric Staff!!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Richie Sambora

I forgot to include in my Top 10 UNFORGETTABLE:

We now know what Richie Sambora does when he's not touring with Bon Jovi... he drives a tour bus in Italy. (I know that was him!!!)


What's jetlag???

I woke up Monday in Rome at 6 am (their time), rode a bus to the Rome airport, had my carry-on searched and was frisked, boarded the jet, sat in the middle seat of the middle row in the row directly in front of the bathrooms/attendant service area (no leaning back for us!), endured that for 10 hours, landed in Chicago to experience Customs and another security check (set off the alarm with the belt I forgot I was wearing), ran to our gate, flew to KCI, retrieved our luggage, shuttled back to the Expedition, and drove home. I then showered and got myself to the hospital about 11 pm (our time).

Of course, you don't sleep in hospitals. So after only sleeping a couple of hours on the Rome-Chicago flight and a couple of hours in the chair next to Jake's hospital bed, Jake and I both made it home about noon on Tuesday.

Tuesday afternoon, Jake and I both took a three hour nap, but that's been about it. He wakes up every couple of hours to go to the potty or just to moan pitifully "my tummy hurts!" Eric took pity on me last night (Saturday) and let me sleep upstairs while he took Jake patrol.

(Another fun aspect of the appendectomy is the flushing of wound. I get to flush a saline solution into the wound openings. Apparently this is a chilly experience and Jake hates it.)

So... back to the original topic... what is jetlag? I'm still not sure. I feel like I did after I had the babies. I can't think clearly, I can't keep my mind on what I'm doing, and my eyelids droop... a lot. Sleep is a valued commodity and I can't get enough of it.

Perhaps b/c of an appendectomy and my mommy duties, I didn't experience a true sense of jetlag??? Maybe I've been experiencing it for the last 17 years :P

Not National Lampoon's European Vacation, But Darn Close

Ahhh... back from the European vacation! A few stressful situations were certainly overshadowed by having a great time seeing the sites and enjoying the traveling!

Of course, having your younger son undergo an appendectomy while you are 7,000+ miles away can be a little stressful on your psyche, but I knew he was in good hands and I just gave it over to God's control. That helped to make the last couple of days enjoyable!

My top 10 list of forgettable things:

10. traveling by bus
9. European electricity
8. European showers
7. breakfasts of hard rolls and cereal with warm milk
6. Pasta... served at every dinner (and I love pasta, but there is overkill)
5. the shoving Parisians (I was thankful for having previously played a contact sport!)
4. trying to sleep in the non-AC hotels
3. being frisked in the Rome airport
2. the stench of urine in the Paris subway stations
1. European women's bathroom "facilities" or what we in the USA call a hole in the ground (we only experienced that one time... but still FORGETTABLE)

My top ten list of unforgettable:
10. Watching the Eiffel Tower's lights come on while standing below the Tower
9. being overwhelmed by the history of the Colosseum and the Ruins
8. watching my son experience the Mediterranean Sea... the waves, the salt water, the beaches
7. the Tuscany countryside
6. Leather :)
5. Gelato :)
4. having these experiences with my son and one of my oldest friends
3. photographing these experiences
2. Monaco (wow!)
1. this new feeling of knowing I've been to a part of the world where history is so much more than the BRIEF history of our country, appreciating that history/culture and yet appreciating even more, my rights and freedoms as an American citizen. (Happy Birthday #234 USA!)