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Tuesday, January 21st 2014

8:54 PM

Almost 5 years ago...

  • Mood: Hopeful
  • Weather: Snow! About 8+ inches
  • Gas Prices for My Car: $3.19 per gallon
  • Michael's Happenings: We are watching "Marley and Me"

I was here. My sister got me hooked on facebook, but every now and then, I wondered what my old blog looked like. Since I was last here, my family and I became homeless in the summer of 2010. David left the schooling behind, and we are paying off the college loans now. I became the studio manager at my job, and so I work full time now. After two years of homelessness, we bought a small single family house. We live in a new town, and after a year of commuting an hour and a half, one way, to my old studio, I finally got the studio manager position, at the location 2 miles from home. Our car, with over 345,000 miles on it finally died. A month later, we were gifted a newer used car, with only 5,000 miles on it. David does the homeschooling. And Michael is a teenager. One very sad thing: Chubby passed away last August. In September, we got a new cat, from a shelter. Her name is Autumn. Things are slowly getting better for us.

What's new with you?

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Wednesday, April 29th 2009

7:01 PM

Very busy lately...

Where to start?

Back in January, David started his clinicals. Most of the time, he had to be at a hospital, usually at least an hour and a half away from home, by 6:45 AM. This meant me waking up at 3 or 4 AM, having lunches packed, myself and Michael ready to leave home by 5 AM, etc. Ugh. After dropping David off, Michael and I headed to the local library. Usually we had some time to kill until the library opened. Michael had some coupons for free food at a well-known fast food restaurant, so we usually went there. During Passover, we could only get the free milk and leave. We stayed in the car, parked on the street in front of the library, and ate our kosher for Passover breakfast foods. In one of those libraries, I read a couple of books, cover to cover, sometimes over a few visits. I can heartily recommend Mike Huckabee's book Do the Right Thing. I also read a book about portrait photography that was very good. I don't recall the title off the top of my head. It was published by Amherst Media, which publishes many good books on photography. Anyway, Michael always found something good to read too. Usually by 1:15 PM, David phoned to say he was done, so we'd pick him up and head for home again. We'd get home totally exhausted, eat an early dinner and go to bed. David's clinical class is over now. His final for it was today. He'll do 3 more semesters of it, beginning in a few weeks again.

My hours at my job have basically dried up. It started due to my lessened availability, which was due to David's schedule, especially the clinicals. On the days of the clinicals, twice a week, I was not able to handle working. The other weekdays, we got home from the college too late usually for me to start a shift at work. On Saturdays, the studio shortened their hours so that it was too short a period for me to work, after congregation. Sunday's hours were shortened too. I seemed to get every other Sunday assigned to work, with a few exceptions where I worked each Sunday. So...

I am starting my own business. I don't want to give away too many details here. Yesterday I got a post office box for my business, and today I registered my business name.

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Saturday, January 31st 2009

8:42 PM

Kajaun

November 3, 1970 - January 31, 2009

My brother Steve said that this morning "Jesus asked Kajaun to dance with him..."

I thought of a song by Paul Wilbur.  Part of the chorus says, "Dance with me, O Lover of my soul, to the song of all songs..."

I've spent most of the day crying.  I know it will continue for days, off and on.  Kajaun is on the other side, of which I can only imagine.  Steve is heavy on my heart.  He and Kajaun were married for just over 16 years.  We all loved her.  She was such a loving sister-in-law.  We will all miss her dearly.

Kajaunie, we'll see you again someday.  Love you...

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Saturday, January 24th 2009

7:13 PM

Everyone included

  • Mood: thoughtful
  • Weather: sunny, with a brief snow shower
  • Gas Prices for My Car: $1.73 per gallon
  • Michael's Happenings: last night we had a heart-to-heart talk about what Psalm 139:13-16 means ... he can easily recognize a baby, even yet unborn, as a baby

Though I am not Catholic, I thought this video was thought provoking.

I am forever grateful that Michael's birthmother recognized his was a life too.  BTW, yesterday marked 8 years since our adoption of Michael was finalized.  I will never forget that day...

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Saturday, November 8th 2008

12:34 AM

I needed a smile

  • Mood: feeling hopeful... come on 2012!
  • Weather: warmer
  • Gas Prices for My Car: less than a few days ago
  • Michael's Happenings: we did some homeschooling outdoors yesterday, for a change

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Wednesday, November 5th 2008

10:39 PM

Where were you born?

  • Mood: I've been better...
  • Weather: it rained off and on
  • Gas Prices for My Car: $2.39 per gallon
  • Michael's Happenings: he was so disappointed when we told him that Obama had been elected as president, he cried... more than once today

Obviously, Barack Obama's grandmother does not know that only a natural-born U.S. citizen can become a United States president.  I understand she was told to keep quiet until after the election...

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Sunday, October 26th 2008

12:12 AM

Barack Obama... Part of the Problem

  • Mood: concerned
  • Weather: it rained hard today, but it's clearing up now
  • Gas Prices for My Car: no change

When I think of what this country could be like under Barack Obama, it scares me.  It should scare everyone.  Let's never find out what that's like.

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Saturday, October 25th 2008

11:37 AM

Michael's cousin, Noah

  • Mood: tired, but content
  • Weather: uh, not sure... haven't gotten dressed yet to open the blinds (I think it's cold)
  • Gas Prices for My Car: still $2.61 per gallon
  • Michael's Happenings: he was thrilled to see this video of Noah, even with the pauses

My sister just sent me this link.  It's my nephew Noah singing along to a music box.  Supposedly, he goes to sleep each night listening to this music box.  On this occasion, he sang the song to Michael, whom he calls his "best friend."  They are really cousins.

Since we have dial-up still, I'm posting this here so when I can find someone with highspeed internet, then we can watch it all at once, instead of with little blips and pauses.  Even still, Michael got a big kick out of seeing his best buddy Noah.

Guess I'll have to make sure Michael has a nickel.  Yesterday, he found a penny in the parking lot, but that's it.

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Thursday, October 23rd 2008

1:33 PM

We saw it!

  • Mood: excited and amazed!
  • Weather: bright and sunny, and cool too
  • Gas Prices for My Car: last I saw, the lowest gas station had it for $2.61 per gallon
  • Michael's Happenings: he's got a wienie-whistle... like the guy who wanted one in the movie "The Santa Clause" (yes, we saw that one)

Today Michael and I went to a local grocery store to pick up a couple of prescriptions.  As we neared the store, I noticed what looked like a reddish and goldenrod colored bus, in a strange shape.  Could it be?  I'd heard about it since I was a kid myself...  Yes!  It was the Oscar Mayer WienerMobile!!!  Michael started singing the little ditty about "my bologna has a first name, it's O-S-C-A-R..."  We got out of the car and walked up to see what was going on.  Like another family that happened to be walking up at the same time, they asked, "Are you selling hot dogs?"  No, they weren't, but they gave each of us a glow-in-the-dark "wienie-whistle," a post card, stickers and coupons.  Michael got to step up and see inside the vehicle.  It was the size of a bus!  Wow!  I was amazed...

This week, it is Respiratory Therapy Week too, or something like that.  At David's college, there was free cake and other foods a couple of days ago.  Today, they were having a raffle, a scavenger hunt, cookies, goodies, a contest, etc.  We gave a small donation and let Michael take a cupcake, a cookie and 2 chocolates.  We picked up the questionaire for the contest, but haven't filled it out just yet.

I've been working nearly every day at work.  Our studio went digital about a month and a half ago, and I can say I'm used to the new system fully.  I need to leave for work in an hour.

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Sunday, September 28th 2008

11:00 PM

Rosh Hashanah

  • Mood: excited, but tired
  • Weather: uh, rainy?
  • Gas Prices for My Car: $3.59 per gallon
  • Michael's Happenings: He's talking constantly about Rosh Hashanah coming up tomorrow evening!
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Sunday, August 10th 2008

10:40 PM

Just an update...

  • Mood: tired, but pretty content
  • Weather: It was less humid this weekend, and I think it was sunny today. I'm not totally sure, as I had to work most of the day.
  • Gas Prices for My Car: Ooooo! It's down to $3.89 a gallon! Yippee!!!
  • Michael's Happenings: He's currently pretending to eat a cake. Sounds good to me!

I thought it was a little funny to read over my last entry after almost 2 months ago.

For starters, the job that David was to have gotten fell through.  The temp agency dropped the ball.  After a week, David phoned them and found the person responsible was not available at the moment, so he left a message.  No one got back to him.  After a few more days, he phoned again.  Again, voice mail and then no subsequent return call.  Eventually, he learned from someone else in that agency that the job had gone to someone else.  David was upset, but nothing could be done about it.  The responsible party finally told David over the phone that he was sorry, and that he was claiming responsibility for dropping the ball.

A couple of weeks ago, after the agency continued to have nothing for David, we decided that it would be better for me to start working at the studio more hours per week, beginning immediately.  I have been able to work half days on the weekdays, and that still allows us time to do a little homeschooling over the summer.  The schedule has already been figured out for the fall months leading up to Christmas, since David will be needing to get to the college each day, Monday through Friday.  I will still work Sundays, and nearly all weekdays in the late afternoon to evening.  I have applied everywhere I can think of that's a safe place to work at nighttime, and into the wee hours.  Then, I can still get home from my second job before the sun comes up, and I can get some sleep before having to make the drive to a college campus or two.  Once David begins doing clinical work, he'll need to get to various hospitals early in the morning.  That's not until January 2009, but I'm hoping to find a nearly full time job, and keeping it until we can afford for me to quit ... like after David graduates.  Even I'm looking forward to that!  (We have one car, and the traffic around here is horrible if the car contains only one person.  The HOV lanes make it a little better at least.  So, it's very possible that Michael and I will be homeschooling, away from home, on some days.  We did it in the fall semester last year, and we'll do it again if we have to.)

Something that I have been looking into closely is starting up my own business.  It would allow me to make the same amount of money I do in 6 or 7 hours, yet in 2-3 hours.  I have been working on writing up a business plan for about a month, and as I realize a better idea, I can incorporate it into my plan.  I've done some research on what needs to be done first, such as obtaining a business license, filing for a DBA, obtaining a seller's permit, etc.  The Small Business Administration has a lot of info in general for entrepreneurs, but I have to do a lot of research on the local end too for the legalities.  I've been told by some that I am a "smart girl" and can do whatever I want, if I put my mind to it.  I looked at the list of qualities common to entrepreneurs on the SBA's website, and many of these adjectives have been sitting on my resume.  So, go figure...  Here's the link where I found those qualities.  Anyway, there are naysayers who think I can't make it, but that I should do a job I hate and am not good at, only because it seems more secure.  Well, I hope that someday I can post an entry that I'm going forward with it, and I'm opening my own business.  I've already had people ask me to do such services for them, and how much do I charge?

Michael is wrapping up the tail end of 3rd grade.  He should be starting 4th grade the day after Labor Day.  I am amazed at how well he absorbed his times tables.  He's enjoyed doing division, if it's quick.  When I say "long division," I hear a little groan emitting from him.  But, it's really not that bad.  The end of his 3rd grade math book has some geometry, and he was very happy to come to that.  He likes math pretty well, especially when we take the book and some sidewalk chalk outside to find a more fun way to complete his math problems.

Michael still finds time each day to occupy himself with more leisurely activities.  He has a neighbor friend whom he plays with at the nearest playground, and when the weather is not cooperating or while I'm at the studio job, he likes to watch TV or his DVDs or he likes to generally rain toys all over the living room floor.  At the moment, he's taken my laundry baskets and turned them into some sort of building or structure.  There is an odd assortment of toys piled on top, but I'm not exactly sure what it's all about.  He's also playing with a jump rope.  Bert, Caillou and some VeggieTales toys are lying on the floor nearby.  I'm guessing he was putting on another one of his shows that he makes up.  Yesterday, a mother at the playground told me that her daughter doesn't play with toys anymore, and she's only 5.  Huh.

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Thursday, June 19th 2008

10:33 PM

Eight is great!

  • Mood: Very content, but very tired too.
  • Weather: It was gorgeous today!!!
  • Gas Prices for My Car: $4.04 per gallon, but I don't drive much anyway!
  • Michael's Happenings: Hey! He turned 8 years old today! What else do you need to know?

Today is Michael's 8th birthday.    It doesn't seem possible ... where has the time gone?  I still remember seeing him for the first time.  It was a few days after he was born.  (Remember, he's adopted.)

We knew we couldn't get him a lot for his birthday, as money has been tight.  So, last night I stayed up late decorating with banners and balloons, to surprise Michael.  But the really big surprise would be inviting his grandmother, aunt and cousin for a visit today.  Michael was clueless, and we all kept quiet about it.  They all live over 2 hours away.  I am told my nephew is always wondering when he and Michael can get together to play again, so it would be a treat for him too.  My sister decided to surprise her son by not telling him either, until they arrived here.  When we heard a knock on the door, I knew who it would be, so I told Michael to go answer the door.  I missed his expression since I was in the kitchen, but I'm told he was speechless and then his jaw dropped open.  My mother swept him out to the playground where my sister and nephew were waiting.  Needless to say, both boys enjoyed each other's company and played for a few good hours.  Unfortunately, our guests needed to leave for home by about 2 PM, so we missed them all too soon.  But, it was fun while it lasted.  Actually, at the end of the visit, Michael fell on the sliding board at the playground and hurt his chin.  He cried, though there was no bleeding.  He got some children's ibuprofen and was soon forgetting the pain.  (He was also watching one of his new gifts: a DVD.)

Speaking of DVDs, they seem to be the gift of choice now.  Michael received a just-released DVD and matching CD from friends in the Chicago area.  On his behalf, thank you so much!  He loved it, and has watched it already.  He also received a DVD from my father and stepmother, and has watched that one too.  (It arrived yesterday, and totally caught even me by surprise!)  They told him that 2 more gifts should be arriving soon too, but they didn't come today.  (Michael is eagerly eyeing every delivery truck now.)  My sister and nephew also gave Michael a DVD, and 2 puzzles.  He's already put the puzzles together ... we are currently waiting for the glow-in-the-dark one to absorb enough light to see if it really glows.  Towards the end, Michael was beginning to get frustrated, but he persevered, and with help from David, they figured it out.  We got Michael 3 DVDs and 2 books.  He also got a gift from David's sister and her husband, to spend on something special.  Michael is probably forming some ideas by now of what to get, but I convinced him to wait until Grandpa's 2 other gifts arrive, just in case Michael were to select a duplicate of something that's already been purchased and soon to be delivered.  I can think of a few things he might choose, based upon what's he's been into lately.  BTW, he still loves .  He likes to put on shows with him, and some vegetables named Bob and Larry.  We still wonder if Michael's not going to be a director or an author or something creative like that some day.

Well, as our custom is, Michael went for portraits today.  I was able to take the portraits myself as I had hoped.  (We go to the place where I work.)  I had planned to buy just a portrait package and an internet service where I can download his portraits, but Michael cooperated too well, and I had trouble deciding which portrait to choose.  I ended up buying sheets instead, so it was a little more expensive, but not too much.  We had a gift card, so after using that up, we owed less than $8.  Wish I could share those with you, but they are copyrighted.  Our family and a few close friends will get something from it.  I am looking forward to getting them in my hands.

In the midst of everything today, David got a phone call and learned he got a temp job (what he was looking for).  We don't know many of the details yet, but he should be starting soon.  We are grateful that it's very close to where we live, and the wage sounds generous enough.  We are praising the LORD for answering our prayers, and for having kept us, even when we were concerned about where our next meal was coming from.  He truely does give us "our daily bread."  We still look to Him, knowing He holds us, and takes care of us.

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Monday, June 2nd 2008

9:56 AM

Wow. It's been a while.

  • Mood: tired, but ready to go
  • Weather: bright sunshine!
  • Gas Prices for My Car: regular was $3.89 per gallon, last evening
  • Michael's Happenings: He just announced that he hopes we can go to the swimming pool today.

OK.  It seems so distant to post to my journal that I almost forgot how to login.  Suffice it to say that life has been pretty busy.

David has completed another semester at college, earning a 4.0 for the semester.  His cumulative GPA is 3.84, which I understand is nothing to sneeze at. Speaking of sneezing, it seems he as a cold right now.  We are praying he'll get rid of it soon.  He has applied at a temp agency to get an office job for the summer only.  Then in late August, it's back to the books.  He should graduate in May 2010.

Michael and I are still homeschooling.  He's finishing up 3rd grade over the summer.  He would have finished sooner, but we had a couple of interruptions over the course of the school year.  He got a cold in early March that was progressing towards bronchitis.  Since he'd previously had pneumonia the year before, we didn't want to see him move anywhere close in that direction.  His doctor prescribed an antibiotic and he began to rebound very quickly.

Just after Michael started that prescription, we got word that my grandmother was dying.  David was on Spring break, but needed to do a take-home exam and homework, plus lab reports and more studying.  Michael and I went to see my grandmother, in another state, before it was her time to go.  David wanted to go too, but couldn't.  My Grandma went home to be with the Lord the day after we arrived and spent time with her.  She was 84.  I know we will see her again.  I Thessalonians 4:13-18

Love you, Grandma and Grandpa

Michael and I stayed with my mother for a week afterwards, until we had to go home because David's break was over and needed to be back in school the next day.  I wish I had been able to visit with my grandmother more than I could.

After we arrived back home, it was hard getting back into the daily schedule of homeschool.  We were finally able to get back to it fully within a week.  Michael has been plugging away at it ever since.  He's learned to write all his letters in cursive, and has been practicing writing assigned words (in cursive).  Here's a scan of his first attempt at writing his first name...

For being 7 years old, I think that's pretty good!  Michael is also enjoying getting back into multiplication.  He learned it late summer last year, but his 3rd grade math book took him back to reviewing addition and subtraction.  He was glad when they finally came to multiplication, and soon it takes him into division ... like sometime this week.  That will be new.  Later yet, he gets to review fractions, which he enjoys.

I've been looking for a full-time (or nearly full-time) job myself, in addition to homeschooling and the part-time job at the studio.  I need a job where I can work 8 PM until 2 AM, six days a week.  Those hours will accomodate David's work or school schedule for the next couple of years.  Then, I won't need to work!  I've been toying with the idea of either that or else going into business for myself, in portraiture, of course.  But, I'm not sure yet what to do.  If I did go into business for myself, I'd have to do it different hours of course, but I could earn more in less time too.

Last weekend, we went on our congregation's retreat for the first time.  It was a lot of fun.  Michael was beside himself, getting to spend about 3 days with his girl friend from our congregation.  They played together at the playground, went to the pool together, ate together, were in the same class for the children, danced together ... and generally followed each other around most of the time.  Besides getting to know some of the people from our congregation better, we met new friends and saw some old friends from our previous congregation.  (It was a joint event.)  One family travelled in from the midwest!  I was very glad to make their acquaintence.  Very nice family...

Well, Michael has finally woken up, so it's time to start our school day.

1 Paid their dues / Add your two cents

Tuesday, January 29th 2008

6:15 PM

Going to see the cherry blossoms...

  • Mood: pretty content
  • Weather: rainy
  • Gas Prices for My Car: 2.94 per gallon, last I looked
  • Michael's Happenings: Recently, he spent the last of his (cash) gift from Grandpa. He saw the Pirates Who Don't Do Anything, and decided to buy some plush toys of the 3 main characters. Now he puts on shows using them and his old favorites.

Inspired by Michael being assigned to write a poem about something that inspired him (he wrote about going to see the cherry blossoms in Washington DC, a couple years ago), I decided to try my hand at writing a little poetry.  Here's my poem below, on the same subject.


Shlepping sunscreen, umbrellas and maybe some drinks... We gawked at cherry blossoms in so many pinks.

From the Washington Monument to the White House... That ice cream we bought was really lunch for a mouse.

Tulips and pansies blooming in gardens nearby... Spied ducks swimming in fountains and birds in the sky.

Though the hot sun blazed down, a cool breeze did blow... We walked place to place, sometimes ever so slow.

By a park bench we stopped to rest our poor feet... In the trash -- a squirrel, hunting something to eat!

Then there he was again, that squirrel in a tree... Scurrying here and there, peeking out at me.

Lincoln's memorial, standing in that great hall... Each time a new photo, watching our son grow tall.

Approaching the memorial for World War II... Strains of music from a marching band, dressed in blue.

To the capital building we walked, step by step... Arriving in time just to see the sun set.

A few blocks away back to everyday life... Dinner at McDonalds without too much strife.

We descended the city, the metro awaits... Back to our car, still shlepping what seems too much weight.

By the time we got home, our son was asleep... Dreaming of french fries and squirrels and cars that beep.


BTW, we really do take a photo of Michael standing in front of the statue of Abraham Lincoln each time we visit the city, and it's funny to see how much he's grown since the last time.  I joked that we could use it like the way some people mark a child's height with a pencil inside the threshold of their food pantry.

P.S.  Tomorrow is Chubby's 13th birthday!  Our family's first teenager...

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Saturday, January 5th 2008

9:07 PM

SMAK!

  • Mood: pretty good
  • Weather: It was pretty mild today for this time of year, but clouds and light rain rolled in after dark.
  • Gas Prices for My Car: uh ... no idea (haven't gased up for a couple of weeks)
  • Michael's Happenings: Thursday morning, as he was brushing his teeth to go to a dentist appointment, he lost a tooth and it almost went down the drain, but we caught it real fast!

Today at congregation, a little girl who Michael likes was sitting next to him during the singing.  She likes to bring a toy sometimes, and occasionally wants Michael to hold it at some point.  Once it was a baby doll, very typical for a little girl.  Michael turned and looked at me with the inaudible question, "What am I supposed to do with this?"  The little girl was already saying that Michael could be the daddy, and she was the mommy.  I gave a slight grin and told him that was just the way little girls were.  It was cute.  Well, today, without warning, she leaned over and planted a kiss right on his lips.  I told myself I'd have to record it somewhere... Michael's first kiss (except from relatives).  I couldn't think of where in his baby book to record this, so for now, this will do.

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Sunday, December 23rd 2007

8:40 PM

For our friends and family who expected to get cards from us, but didn't...

  • Mood: pretty good
  • Weather: It was foggy, rainy and warmer than normal today.
  • Gas Prices for My Car: Uh, I think it was $3.01 last I looked.
  • Michael's Happenings: Hey, I discovered the other day that he's got 2 more loose teeth!
 
 
 
We hope that your holiday was or will be bright, filled with the love of family and friends, and blessed by God.
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Thursday, November 22nd 2007

12:37 PM

Happy Thanksgiving!

  • Mood: thankful
  • Weather: sunny, with some clouds, and 70 degrees!
  • Gas Prices for My Car: $3.09 / gallon
  • Michael's Happenings: He's already gearing up for Chanukah, singing along to a CD we have...

The other night, I went to sleep wondering, "What am I thankful for?"  I quickly realized that I was so very thankful to God for sustaining us.  This has been a hard year, but He kept us throughout it all.  We have even been spared long-running illnesses.  Michael got a cold last week, ate a lot of chicken soup, and seemed fine within a couple of days.  David caught it before Michael lost it totally, but he got over it too, within a few days.

David has been attending college since May.  He has been doing very well, getting all As, except for one B, on tests and assignments.  His GPA must be pretty good.  He studies nearly all his spare time.

Michael and I have been doing homeschool in a variety of different places since ... from the college, to the library, at home, and other places too.  Last week, we were even invited to participate in a field trip of third graders from a nearby school, that were going to tour part of the training rooms for healthcare students at the college.  A few weeks ago, we caught a homeschoolers' field trip to our local library too.

On the weekends and during 2 days a week, I have recently started working full time.  I had applied at a local store that I could walk to, should our car break down or we encounter bad weather, but they did not respond in a timely manner.  Therefore, I told my current boss at the studio that I could work more, with hours available at this time of year.  I work all day tomorrow and each of the next few days, either all day or a partial day.  After December, I will need to track down another job, working full time to get benefits, but for now, I'm set with tons of hours at the studio.  I will continue working at the studio, after December, but at reduced hours and only one partial day per week.

My mother came down to spend the day with us, so I'll cut this entry short.  I hope that anyone reading this (if anyone does anymore) has a Happy Thanksgiving, and is thankful to God for their blessings.

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Monday, April 23rd 2007

12:50 AM

College

  • Mood: hopeful
  • Weather: it was warm and sunny!
  • Gas Prices for My Car: last I looked, too high (but we only put gas in the car about once every 3 weeks now)
  • Michael's Happenings: He's had a follow-up exam and x-ray each month since being released from the hospital. Though the pediatrician said "clinically, he's fine," the x-ray has continued to show something on his lung or lungs. He went for a CT scan of his chest this past Wednesday, and we are awaiting results. But he's as bouncy as he's ever been.

David is going back to college.  There.  I've said it.

Two days before Michael's chest pains, which sent us to the pediatrician ... which was the start of discovering Michael's pneumonia, David was fired from his job.  It came as quite a shock.  Essentially, he had processed someone's request for prescription assistance that should not have gone through, due to a few technicalities.  I personally believe that lives were preserved as a result of what David had done, but someone else didn't see it that way.  After he was let go from his job, we all prayed for the people who would not be getting some much needed medicine.  I hope they are still alive.  And that's all I'll say about the reason why David got fired.  Anyway, as a result of the whys, we have not been able to get "unemployment."  David had built up a 401K over the years, and we've been living off of that.  Prior to his change in employment status, he had begun looking for a new job.  Something closer to home, but within the same pay range.  Nothing was available, unless he was willing to take a major pay cut.  Then without much warning, the bottom dropped out.

Because of Michael's bout with pneumonia, and the hospital stay that ensued, we didn't really deal with David's job situation right away.  Besides, as David awaited his own surgery, he was in a lot of pain physically.  It took until weeks after his surgery for the pain to begin to subside.  Thankfully, the cyst the doctor removed turned out to be benign.  In the midst of all these medical expenses, it was chaotic concerning our COBRA benefits kicking in.  Let me back up a bit.  The very next day after David was fired, he contacted the company's benefits coordinator to ensure they were well aware we planned to pay for COBRA, that we needed to continue our medical insurance.  He inquired about the costs and how to sign up and everything.  The person he spoke to was very helpful and courteous.  They gave him the requested info, and helped again later when some paperwork was delayed in coming.  Our coverage that "ended" January 31, wasn't really over.  All our bills had to be paid retroactively, back to February 1 after all the paperwork was sent, responded to, paid, etc.  Like I said, it was a little chaotic.  We are currently paid up through the end of June for COBRA.  It has cost us about $6400.00.  Worried about other bills too, we have paid all our utilities and car insurance through the end of July.  I've lived without utilities before, and it is not pleasant.

Anyway, while Michael was in the hospital, David came to realize he was going to need to go into a new career field.  He didn't say anything to me about it until after his surgery had been done and my mother had gone back home from her coming to help us out during and after Michael's hospital stay.  (BTW, David's ability to stay with Michael during his hospital stay - not having to go into work each day - was a blessing in disguise.  We were worried to leave him there all by himself at any time, so having David there all the time allowed for me to drive home quick and collect clean clothes or whatever we found any of us needed from home, including all of Michael's toys, "the guys.")  Ironically, what David is planning to go into, I jokingly suggested one day while we were sitting in Michael's hospital room.  David brushed it off, but later told me that was exactly what he was feeling drawn to for a new career.  Here's a clue.

After telling me what his plans were, he began in earnest looking into colleges accredited to give him the training he would need to qualify for the job.  One was an online school which wanted far too much money for their degree program.  The other option was our local community college.  The more he researched it, the better the local college looked.  He would get discounts as an in-state student, and even more so for living in the area, and not having travelled in from outside the area.  There are a few prerequisites he has to fulfill, due to the specific nature of the degree program, and due to the fact that he hasn't been in any chemistry classes in over 10 years.  He is hopeful that some of the typical classes can be waived, and rightfully so, since the college's dean told him he may be able to apply previous college credits to some of the needed classes, ones that he's already taken.  He has 2 Master's Degrees in other fields, in addition to a Bachelor's Degree.  He was doing some post-grad work when we met, but left it before finishing.

He has already applied to the community college and signed up for the summer session classes.  He'll be doing a maximum of 4 classes on 2 different campuses this summer.  The one he is really hoping can be skipped is an evening class, about 4 hours per class.  The days of his classes are Monday to Thursday, but at different times.  Once everything is set for school and books are purchased, he will be prepared to look for some sort of part time job, even if it's only retail for now.  They will have to offer flexible hours, that we know.  Plus we know it's not forever, just for 2 years.  His classes will be pretty much continuous beginning in about a month from now.  There are classes he'll need to take over next summer too.  The classes he would need to take this fall semester happen to be on the same days of the week still.  This is good for us.  Since I was able to increase my hours at the studio to work every Friday, open to close, and have income from it, I have asked for that.  My boss has graciously granted my request.  I will homeschool Michael Monday through Thursday, and Saturday after congregation.  I will go to the studio on each Friday and Sunday, both days working open to close.  David will be here with Michael on Fridays, and if I'm guessing correctly, the playtime he normally would have on Saturday will easily transfer to Friday.

Some might question why we just don't put Michael into public school, and have me work full time.  First, we have one car.  How could I get to work if David had taken the car to school?  Second, besides having deep religious convictions about not sending our son to public school, even if we sent him to a private Christian school, who would be here when he got home from school?  It just doesn't add up.  Besides, without my having a college degree myself, my best hope to bring in big, fat paychecks would involve going out of the area if necessary (probably so), and working in other studios to get full time hours.  That definitely requires my own car, and long hours.  Michael could be sitting at home, all by himself, until nightfall.  It just won't work.

Anyway, David's new career will require testing that can be administered at the college, after the program is completed.  One level of the career requires additional testing, but this program prepares the graduate for either level of certification, or whatever you call it.  David had researched the entry level income brackets, and suffice it to say, locally, the lowest end is about where he left off with his former employer, where getting a raise was very difficult.  David thinks that he had gone as far as he could with that job, concerning raises, so something had to give.  Just in case you still haven't figured it out, he's going to be a Respiratory Therapist.

Oh, one more thought.  David has already applied for financial aid.  For this summer session, it looks like we are on our own, but for the fall semester and forward, perhaps we'll get some help.  I wished I could have gone to college myself, back when I was nearing the end of high school.  It seemed every idea I came up with would not work out for one reason or another.  I had dreamed of being a pediatrician, or a teacher.  A few years out of high school, I wanted to go into nursing, but I had no money for that either.  I thought about financial aid, but was told by several people I'd never qualify due to income levels of my relatives.  At this point, I'd be thrilled to attend a school of photography.  It's right up my alley.  Maybe after David starts working as a Respiratory Therapist, we can afford to send me to college ... after Michael's tuition is paid, of course.  (David said the income bracket around here, after you are in the field a while, is very good.)

Please excuse any typos.  It's late, and I worked over 9 hours today.

8 Paid their dues / Add your two cents

Friday, February 16th 2007

8:10 PM

Here we go again!

  • Mood: Trying to find some level of normalcy...
  • Weather: We had a bit of snow, then freezing rain, and lots of wind days ago... it's still around (parking lot here was finally cleared)
  • Gas Prices for My Car: $2.15 ... Praise the Lord!
  • Michael's Happenings: For Valentine's Day dinner, we stayed home eating a low-key dinner I made myself. Michael wanted some leftover pasta from the night before, but David and I were going to eat fish sticks and tator tots, since we had it on hand and I didn't feel like cooking a huge messy dinner. Using new cookie sheets I'd recently bought, I was irked to find that the fish sticks were burning in the oven. After a few minutes, the smoke alarm went off and I yelled for David to start fanning the alarm to shut it up. After his arms got tired, I found a small portable fan and set it up to blow on the alarm. Finally, dinner was done burning - uh, I mean cooking. I served up these little charred lumps and laughingly said, "Dinner's ready!" I laughed, yet apologized for burning our Valentine's Day dinner. As David looked on, half smirking, half not, Michael piped up, "Oh, that's OK. I'm eating the pasta, so I don't care."

It's been another whirlwind month around here.  Some of the events, I'll talk about.

As January was on the way out the door, Michael came down with pneumonia, and pleurisy to boot.  It came as a total shock, since he was already on antibiotics to avoid bronchitis.  He'd gotten sick January 9th (I remember the date since it was a family member's birthday) and we'd treated him with over-the-counter stuff for the symptoms.  After a week, following the package directions, we took him to the pediatrician.  He listened to his cough and breathing, etc. and prescribed something for the symptoms and an antibiotic to get filled and start, if the symptoms didn't become better in 3 days.  Well, they didn't, so we got the antibiotics going (after a little snag with our insurance, which delayed that prescription from being filled for an additional 2 days).  Anyway, with only the last dose left to take on the tenth day, Michael developed chest pains, and later that day, a high fever.  We worried about something else, but it turned out to not be that.  (Michael got Kawasaki Disease when he was 4 months old, and fevers that don't seem to go away always scare me now.)  He saw the pediatrician the next morning, but not before spiking some really scary temps, like 105 and 106.  They did a CBC and said the results would be back the next day.  Just to be certain, we were sent to a pediatric cardiologist the next morning, where they checked him out too.  It brought back a flood of memories for me when they were doing the echocardiograms, etc.  Thankfully, the cardiologist saw everything with his heart looked fine, but noticed something with the lungs and said Michael had pleurisy.  He sent us for a chest x-ray to make sure his lung had not collapsed, which it hadn't.  As we were still there, he phoned the pediatrician to tell him what he'd seen.  The ped told the cardiologist that Michael's CBC results showed his white blood cell count was extremely high, so they both suspected pneumonia.  The chest x-ray confirmed it.  We were given yet another antibiotic for him, which he absolutely hated.  Augmentin must be the worst tasting medicine he'd ever taken so far.  We could only give him the tiniest little bit, like a drop (it was liquid), and then he had to eat a saltine to avoid gagging.  Most of the times, it took a half hour; once it took an hour.  The doctor was worried he wasn't hydrated enough, and so 2 days later, we were told to take him to the ER for IV fluids.  Just a few hours, and we'd be able to go back home.  I asked the pediatrician if he could see patients in the one hospital I knew of in our county (his office was in the next county, but still close to us) and was told "no" he couldn't.  So we took him to an equally close ER, but where our pediatrician could see Michael, should he be admitted.  Hoping that wouldn't be the case, we just grabbed our coats, gloves and Michael's favorite toy and left.  It was mid-afternoon.  By early evening, we knew Michael was not going to go home that night.  He didn't know, but kept saying, "when we get out of here today, can we go get a McChicken sandwich?"  Eventually, it was certain that he was not going home, but was being admitted instead.  We let the ER doctor break the news to him.  David and/or I were both with Michael the entire time though.  He stayed seven days, and David refused to leave him at all.  I went home every couple of days to shower and bring back clean clothes for David to wear after showering in the bathroom in Michael's hospital room (not shared with any other patients).  The hospital graciously supplied meals for parents who chose to stay overnight and all day with their child, so that was one headache we didn't have to deal with.  After about 3 days, my mother came down to help out too.  One of the mealtimes, the hospital's dietary staff even gave my mother a tray of food.  Anyway, we've all been back home almost a week now.  Michael still has the pneumonia, according to the chest x-ray he had this past Tuesday.  He's still on antibiotics, but in a different form and it seems to be easier to give him.  He needs to see his pediatrician again in a month, and get another chest x-ray to see if it's gone by then yet.  I sure hope so!

During the time Michael was hospitalized, David was supposed to have out-patient surgery himself.  They decided to postpone that since they were worried it was too much for him, plus they might have been worried he could have picked up an infection himself, which was an automatic delay of surgery.  So now, David has been rescheduled to have surgery on this coming Thursday.

So, it's been quite an experience these past few weeks.  I'm just glad my mother has been able to be with us, helping out.  She even did some of our laundry while Michael was still in the hospital.  Through it all, I know and keep telling myself, God is still in charge!  I remember a song I learned years ago, based upon Habakkuk 3:17-19.

Well, here are a few photos from one of the last days Michael was in the hospital.  He was definitely beginning to feel better by this point.

  

  

By the way, that mask thing he's wearing was part of his breathing treatments.  The other hose thing (shown prominently in the last photo, on his forehead) was oxygen, set up as a "blow by" since he really didn't like wearing a mask or the fine tubing in his nostrils.  When he didn't have this going, he didn't do too well.  It was turned off one day before discharge.  I think the worst part of all was when they had to run a new IV line in his arm, since the first one (on the inside of his left elbow) didn't work after about 5 days.  He cried a lot when the nurse was trying to get a new IV in him (finally got it done on the back of his right hand).  The board was added as a last ditch effort to avoid the second IV line, but even that didn't help.  That was on the back of his left elbow, but was moved to his right hand when the new IV line was done.  He still has little scabs where the lines were, and lots of tape marks.

3 Paid their dues / Add your two cents

Saturday, December 16th 2006

2:45 PM

Too much going on...

  • Mood: I needed to sleep in today.
  • Weather: I'm still in my jammies, so the blinds are closed. Not sure what the weather is, but it's not snow at least.
  • Gas Prices for My Car: We are using regular grade now, so it's only $2.23 per gallon
  • Michael's Happenings: His cast comes off next Thursday.

It's been a long time since I've done anything here.  A while ago, I was ready to post something, but I discovered that Bravenet had changed things so much, I didn't know where to start.  My folder of pictures has disappeared and I have to use something called java to upload anymore.  When I tried that, I was told there was an error, but no suggestions were given as to how to fix it.  So, for now, I'm stuck with text only.  I think.

We have been plodding along homeschooling each day without much fanfare.  Recently, we finished reading the book of Exodus in our daily Bible reading.  In October, we went to see a reproduction of the wilderness tabernacle, in Lancaster.  We had planned the trip way back in August for during a school break for us, as we celebrated sukkot, the feast of tabernacles.  It turned out to be the end of the week after the shootings in an Amish schoolhouse.  By the time we went, the media had left, for which we were glad.  We had a mostly sunny day as we drove, stopping to pick up my mother on our way to Lancaster.  Michael had made some decorations for his Bubbe's sukkah, and after we left Lancaster and took my mother home, we stayed to visit, getting to sit in her sukkah.  I have photos I'd like to share, but I'm not sure how to do it at this point.

We had a very nice Thanksgiving day, going to visit relatives again.  It seemed November would pass without much fanfare also, except for Michael losing both of his 2 front teeth within 2 weeks.  I scheduled a portrait appointment for December 1st, while you could still see the big gap.  Not too much excitement for November on the whole, but then in the late afternoon of the last day, Michael was goofing off and broke his arm.  I phoned David at work telling him to come home right away, which he did.  (He had our only car.)  The doctor's office had already closed for the day, but I called their emergency line.  After about 2 hours, the doctor finally called back.  Michael had fallen asleep by then, and woken up again.  I had just given Michael a dose of children's Advil.  The doctor said to tape something straight to the arm and come in first thing in the morning.  We weren't even sure it was broken, as I could feel nothing unusual gently running my fingers up the length of his arm.  I had to use a short wooden spoon and masking tape, plus a sock over it all, to follow the doctor's orders to keep it straight.  (It was between the wrist and elbow that was hurt.)  The next morning, David's getting into work had to wait for the doctor visit where I was nearly certain that a broken bone would be ruled out.  The doctor noticed a faint swelling and sent us for x-rays at another building in the complex.  As they were done, I tried to remain upbeat and happened to glance a computer screen as Michael's x-ray showed up.  Since Michael loves to read human body books, I told him I had just seen his x-ray.  It was the last one the technician took, so she asked me if I wanted to see it again.  She brought up the image again, and pointed to where it was broken, but said nothing about it to Michael.  She then let him get out of the chair where he had to sit, and brought him over to show him the x-rays too.  She didn't point out anything, and he didn't notice the break.  He was probably focusing on all the little bones in his hand.  She told us to go back to our doctor's office and wait.  After the news got to the doctor that the bone was broken, he called and scheduled an appointment for Michael with an orthopedic doctor.  We had to wait at the pediatrician's office for a report, and then to stop back at the imaging place to pick up the x-rays to take along to the orthopedic doctor's office.  We had about an hour and a half until that appointment, so we stopped at a McD's for brunch (none of us had eaten anything) and to take David to work.  Michael and I circled back and arrived with about 25 minutes to fill out paperwork before the scheduled appointment.  That doctor looked at the x-ray and asked Michael if he'd given any thought as to what color he wanted his cast to be.  Michael was speechless, so the doctor suggested red and Michael nodded yes.  I had never seen anyone get a cast, so I was surprised when after soaking something red in water, wrapping it around Michael's arm and patting it down, the doctor said, "there you go... all done."  I said, "but it's wet."  The doctor chuckled and said it would be dry by the time we reached the car.  Yep.  It was.  Oh, and that doctor let Michael keep the x-rays.  As we got into the car, I thought we probably would just go home at this point, but I looked at a clock and realized we could still make the portrait appointment, scheduled for just before 4 PM.  We had about 30-45 minutes till then, so we went.  We took in the x-rays and with the cast, we decided to document with portraits what was his first cast... and it better be the last too!  Lost 2 teeth, gained a cast...

Ready for the merry-go-round to come to a stop, that elusive brass ring stayed just out of reach.  Three days later on Monday, our car would not drive anymore.  This discovery occured about 7 PM, and about 20 miles from home.  Thank goodness we had already gotten David a AAA membership.  The tow truck got him and our car closer to home, at a local garage (actually the closest dealer, since that was the agreement with my father when he bought us this car, used).  A friend from our congregation agreed to pick David up and bring him home.  Naturally, David had to call in to work the next day since he had no ride.  They made it clear they expected him to be there the next day.  (Ironically, his boss lives in our town too, but refuses to give him rides.)  Homeschool went on as usual, including the Hebrew co-op class that comes to our house each Tuesday.  During the class, the garage called and told David the car's transmission was gone.  They said the company no longer made the transmission needed since it's an old car that has been discontinued years before.  They were trying to find out if another manufacturer's transmission might work, or else we could buy a transmission out of a junked car in the next state over (that would sell for $1000, and the labor and other little odds and ends would cost us an additional $1200... and there was no guarantee after 30 days).  A little later, David got the call that the other-manufacturer-option wasn't going to work.  This all occured during the co-op, but I couldn't process it then.  Later, David and I decided that keeping our 93 Previa wasn't going to work.  Since I had asked for a loan from my father and stepmother, I phoned them back to say, "forget it."  Now we were carless, and quite honestly, sort of numb.  I was worried about both of us getting to our jobs, so I prayed and phoned my boss to tell him I probably wouldn't have a way to work for Saturday in the late afternoon.  I asked a coworker then for a ride on Sunday, my usual day to work all day.  She agreed to give me a ride to, but not from.  I'd have to call someone else for a ride home.  Later that Tuesday evening, my father called and said he'd have to get us another used car.  He wasn't happy.  I had already sent out e-mails to our congregation and the local homeschool support group to see if anyone already going that way, might be able to give us rides in exchange for gas and tolls money.  (Toll roads are a way of life around here, and we live walking distance to one.)  There is a grocery store and a branch of our bank right across the street, and Michael and I have often walked there with a wagon.  The grocery stores allows us to bring it in... we asked.  After my father phoned us, the friend who had picked David up from the garage Monday night called to say he and his wife wanted to rent a car for us, for a week, to give us time to at least shop for another used car.  While on that call, my cell phone rang and another local homeschooling family called to offer the use of one of their cars for the next 5 days, needing it back Sunday night after church.  We gratefully accepted their offer, and the husband of that family would pick up David the next morning around 6-ish on his way to an airport where he needed to get to for an early morning flight, and then David could take the car.  They even gave us $20 towards gas or tolls.  We were dumbfounded and plotted to give it back to them.  (They would not accept it though.)  Back to Tuesday night... David told the other friend about this car loan, so though we'd begun to fill out the form on the internet about renting a car, we cleared that out, and thanked the ones who had offered to pay for us renting a car, which was not needed now.  Within a few minutes, someone else from our congregation e-mailed us and asked us if we wanted a free car they were willing to give us.  They would bring it to congregation on Saturday.  It was a 5 speed (manual transmission) that ran well, has AC and a new stereo system.  The challenge would be learning to drive a manual, as neither of us knew how.  The offerer said he'd teach us in the large lower, empty parking lot after congregation.  We said yes, we'd like it.  He sent us some links of websites to read up on how to learn, though all of them recommended still having an experienced driver in the passenger seat to teach us.  I printed out the info from the websites, which we both began reading in the days prior to our first lesson on Saturday.  So, we had a loaned automatic until Sunday night, and a new used 1992 Honda Accord 5-speed beginning Saturday afternoon, which we needed to learn to drive.  On Wednesday, I phoned the garage where our Previa was still sitting and told them we would have to get something else to drive, and could I stop over and clean out the stuff we owned from the car first?  I took the loaned car to do that, and returned in time for David to leave with it for work Wednesday morning.  I stopped to ask the service advisor we usually spoke to if the dealership might be willing to buy it from us, and he said it would need to be appraised first.  He said he'd call us later when the appraisers got into work that day.  The service advisor called later to say it was appraised at $0 value, but he offered to check around and see if any of the mechanics wanted to buy our Previa, at least for parts.  I thanked him for offering to help us.  A few hours later, he phoned to say a mechanic wanted to buy it for $200.  I was thrilled, and said I'd come in Thursday to handle this.  First I would have to go get a replacement title for the car, since I had misplaced it, most likely during our last move.  The $200 would help pay for all the paperwork and inspections that would be needed on the Honda.  The emissions test alone was $28.  The safety inspection is good through next March.  We also had the county decal we would need to get, taxes and titling, registration, etc.  That all came to about $100.  I figured the leftover helped with the last week's extra expenses of the doctor visits when Michael got the cast.  It's been a week.  Or two.

Late last Saturday night, I cautiously drove the Honda to a large empty parking lot across the street, and tried driving in circles as I had done earlier that day during my one and only lesson.  I noticed the gas level was just below half, so I decided to try and go fill it while there weren't too many cars on the road.  Somehow, I had forgotten or too briefly read about never downshifting into first gear to slow the car down.  I stalled over and over.  I had the 4-way flashers blinking, and a homemade sign in the back window: "KEEP BACK!  Driver still learning manual transmission."  Some drivers were careful around me, other's seemed to welcome trouble and pulled up close behind me at red lights.  After the drive to the gas station, and back towards home, I'd had enough.  Sunday night after work, I drove the loaned automatic home, and then let David drive it (to return it to its owners), following Michael and I in the Honda.  More stalling.  Eventually, I remembered or read with understanding the caution to never downshift into first gear while the car was still moving.  Duh.  Monday morning, I gulped my coffee at home, and then the adventure began.  Still with the 4-way flashers, and the homemade sign, I tried my driving on the highway.  There was no other way.  I needed to get the car's emission test done, the titling, registration, decal, etc. done during the day while David was at work.  Naturally, hills and stop signs abounded where I needed to go.  Oh, and a shopping mall where I worked, was a few blocks away, and it's still just a few weeks until Christmas.  Thinking that David had signed all the appropriate spots on the title we'd been given, I thought it would be a one-stop deal.  It wasn't.  It wasn't until Tuesday late afternoon that all was done with the car.  Wednesday was a day mostly at home, homeschooling and laundry.  Thursday, I took the car to get gas on the way home from David's office in the morning.  (David is suffering from kidney problems and way too much stress at work, so I'm driving him to and from, while I get in more practice on this car.  Later, he'll take up the driving lessons again, but at least I'm able to fully get the hang of it.)  The weather was warm the past few days, but we had learned the apartment complex had already turned off the water for their car wash area, for the winter, since there had been a first freeze earlier.  The car needed a bath, so I decided with some trepidation to try using (for the first time) the gas station's car wash facility.  I inquired first if I'd be required to put the car in reverse, since I was still learning to drive it, noting it was a manual.  The gas station attendent assured me that I only needed to drive in one side and out the other, all going forward.  I bought the cheapest wash, to see how this thing worked.  He told me if I had any questions, I could press a button and he'd come.  Afterwards, I realized that was only where I needed to stop and punch in a numerical code to get it all started.  I punched in the code, needing to sheild my eyes from the bright sun in the direction of the signage I needed to deal with just outside the building.  (Later, I would see a large sign, posted on the side the sun rises on, so you couldn't really see it if you were there in the morning, with the sun in your eyes.  It probably gave info I needed once inside the building.)  I drove in and shut off the car... that seemed to make sense.  Yes, in a moment, a large contraption on tracks began to go from the front of the car to the back, back and forth it went a few times.  Michael thought it was too loud, and covered his ears.  I noticed something that said how many cycles were remaining.  When it said zero, another light came on and flashed directions to drive forward.  This is a manual, remember.  I'm not too good at this still.  I hoped the car would not stall.  I carefully and slowly pulled the car forward, even up onto something like a speed bump.  The back garage-style door had closed behind us, I guess at the beginning of the washing cycle.  The front garage-style door never opened.  I was sitting there, waiting.  The car's engine was running, and there were no open doors on the building.  We were inside the building.  I thought perhaps I had not inched forward enough... must be a sensor that will open the door.  I very carefully inched forward some more.  Nothing.  I inched again, until the car's bumper just barely touched the door in front of me.  Nothing.  I began to wonder, and then slightly panic.  I took out my receipt to phone on my cell, the gas station's phone.  No number was given.  There were no signs or instructions inside the building telling me what to do in case of emergency.  I shut the car off and called a friend (the same one who had been willing to rent a car for us the week before).  I told her the address and asked her to look up the station in the phone book and call them.  I beeped my car's horn.  I opened the door quickly and yelled, "HELP!" shutting it quickly so as to not let the car's fumes get into the car.  (I forgot the vent was open however.)  I began to feel sick so I said it to my friend and said, "call 911."  She hung up with me and did so.  I continued to beep the car's horn, now and then looking back at Michael and asking him if he felt OK.  He said, "yes," each time.  At some point, I phoned 911 myself and they told me that someone else had just phoned in and an ambulance was on its way.  I worried that an ambulance was too extreme, but the 911 operator said it wouldn't hurt for them to still show up and make sure I was OK in the end.  I was crying and freaking out by the time the gas station attendant somehow walked into the closed building where we were.  He was standing by my window.  I opened the door and he said I needed to back the car up.  I said I couldn't and tried to hand him the keys.  He took one look inside the car and said he couldn't cause it was a manual.  He didn't know how to drive one.  I was stunned.  He said he could help me out earlier, when he was wanting to sell me a car wash.  With no choice, I got back in and tried to reverse the car.  (At that point, I just felt like collecting my son, maybe my purse, and abandoning the whole situation for the gas station to sort out.)  I did get the car to move without stalling, but still the garage door would not open.  Another attendent showed up and with 2 of them pulling at the door, they mananged to open the rear garage door.  They said I needed to back it up more.  I somehow did and when I got outside of the building, the car stalled.  I shut everything off and opened the door wide.  The ambulance just pulled up and the driver and another guy walked over to me.  BTW, the 911 operator stayed on the phone with me the whole time until I said the ambulance was there.  The gas station attendent who could drive a manual told me to get into the car on the passenger side.  I said no, I was first going to talk to the ambulance guys.  The attendent was adamant that I should ignore them and get into the car.  I was adamant too, and refused.  When the ambulance guys were satisfied that I was physically OK after talking to them (Michael never had any trouble breathing, so I chalked my feeling sick up to being scared witless, and I guess they concurred), they left.  I got into the car and the attendent backed it up going around a tight curve and not hitting the brick building directly behind us as he made the curve, one lane wide.  He apologized and offered a refund of the price we had paid for the car wash: $6.  He admitted the garage door must have been broken, and he'd have to get someone out to fix it.  The other attendent quickly put out a traffic cone blocking the entrance to the car wash before they had another victim.  I refused the refund, saying it wasn't about the money, I was just scared and wanted to get away from there.  I drove home, stalling and grinding the gears at least once.  I was afraid to drive it again.  And I promised myself I'd never go there (or any other enclosed car wash) for the rest of my life.  I phoned my friend back to tell her we were finally home, and asked where they take their car to get it washed.  She said Embassy Autowash, where you get out of your car and watch from outside your car, as it gets washed.  That's the ticket.  When I told David about our experience, he was furious.  I'd like to see the company I had gone to, change its signage: mark the regular doors we could have walked through, had we known they were there, etc.  Post a phone number or emergency button you can push from inside the building, once the washing apparatus is done moving and there are zero cycles remaining.  Whatever.

So, it's been a wild ride these past few weeks.  David learned he has a cyst in one of his kidneys, but can't get off work until January for the next needed test.  Seems if one of his coworkers is off work already, no one else can get off work, no matter what.  With Christmas coming, there's not much chance if you get sick and need to take off... they don't care at work.  He said if he suddenly slipped into a coma, his boss would want to know if he could come into work the day after he woke up, or if he had a heart attack, could he come in the next day?  Too much stress there...

Oh good.  At least this works again.  Not sure why it seemed my pictures were all gone before.  It's been an adventure.

3 Paid their dues / Add your two cents

Friday, September 15th 2006

11:36 PM

Broken glass

  • Mood: mixed... deep down I know I'm OK, but I still feel nervous
  • Weather: everytime I emerged into the outdoors today, it began sprinkling... otherwise cloudy
  • Gas Prices for My Car: in PA, it was $2.65 per gallon... here, it's $2.88 per gallon
  • Michael's Happenings: We did not get to go to the zoo today after all. Perhaps another time.

Last Monday, though David did not physically feel well, he went to work anyway.  Likewise for Tuesday and Wednesday.  Wednesday night, he called and said he felt so sick, he didn't know if he could make it home OK.  I was really worried, and suggested that I phone someone and ask for a ride down to David's office so I could drive him and all of our family back home.  He declined, so I was very relieved when he finally did make it home.  Thursday, yesterday, he called in sick.  Michael and I were planning to take a piece of furniture to PA to put into the storage unit we use up there.  (Thursday's schoolwork would be made up this weekend.)

Since David was not going into work, we didn't have to leave so early for the day.  But then, we wouldn't have to worry about getting back to the area in time to pick him up from work when his work day was over.  We left home around 2 PM and had an uneventful drive up to PA.  After we did the storage unit run with my mother riding along (she has the key to the unit, and knows where the place is at... I can never quite remember), we stopped at Walmart for something I would be needing for today.  We had planned to make our own field trip to the zoo since no one in the homeschool co-op was agreeable to doing it as a group effort.  So, it would be our family; just the 3 of us.  I found what I needed in the Walmart up in PA (our local store here had run out of what I needed) so I bought it and went to the car.  Before I could start the engine, David phoned me.  He sounded so panicked that I feared he was having a heart attack.

Someone had smashed in Michael's bedroom window.

We live on the ground floor, and though David had at first thought it must have been a rock or brick thrown through, we later learned that someone kicked it in with their foot.  A nearby neighbor had been outside at the time, and was obviously not noticed by the guilty party.  They came to tell us that someone had just done something to our apartment, but David was already aware when he heard the loud crash.  The police were called, they came and took a statement.  They also talked to the neighbor witness.  Our complex's maintenance supervisor drove back to work, or more accurately was driven back to work, because she had taken some medicine that could cause drowsiness and she lives over an hour away.  When David was talking to more than one person at once, and I phoned to give him a neighbor's phone number that I had with me, and when he didn't pick up the phone, I freaked out.  I thought an assailant had decided to crawl through the broken glass and do something to David.  We don't keep guns around, so defenses would have to be thought up creatively, and quickly.  I phoned a member of our congregation and blurted out what had happened and what I feared.  "Please go check on him..."  I told my mother that I didn't want to go home alone, so I wanted her to return to our home with me and Michael.  She said she was willing but would need to leave out some food for her cats first.  As I was driving to her place, David phoned me.  I was greatly relieved.  He explained why he hadn't picked up my call, and I told my mother that I'd be OK to go home without her with me.  I still wished I could sprout wings and be home with David in a moment.  But it would take hours to get home.  I told him that someone from our congregation was coming over, and he said the police were on their way too, as was the maintenance supervisor.  I felt so bad that she had to come all the way out, but we had nothing to cover the gaping hole.  Later, David would tell me that some of the shards of glass were about 15 inches long.  We both did a lot of mental gymnastics about all the what if's...

What if David had gone into work for the day after all?  I would have been trying to get down to his office on time to pick him up (very hard to make it there on time, when starting my drive from over 2 hours away).  The window would have been broken before any humans were home for the day, and the cat, totally freaked out, would have probably attempted to get out through the broken window.  If he had made it out unscathed by the broken glass (it was all over Michael's bedroom), he would have probably been run over by a speeding car on the highway, yards away from our building.

What if the person I had offered the furniture to had decided to take it, and Michael and I had not needed to go to PA?  Michael would have most likely been sitting at his desk in his bedroom, even at the time of last night's incident.  He would have been definitely covered with long shards of glass, and might have been killed.  (The windows are double pane, and both were shattered.)

What if any of us had been in that room at the time?  Even the cat.  No one would have come out of it without injury at the least.  But no one was.  Last night, I was glad to have my mother with me in the car when I got the news.  While she definitely prayed, when we realized that David was safe, and the cat was too, and we would get something to cover that gaping hole for the overnight, we knew we were all OK.  Shaken, but OK.  God had orchestrated our protection, one by one.  He knew that this would happen, but He was going to keep us safe through it.  I'm not saying He caused it.  He gives mankind freedom of choosing right or wrong.  Someone chose to do the wrong thing.  But God protected us.

I stayed up till about 4 AM doing the quiet kind of cleaning... wetting and wringing out paper towels, wiping down everything.  There was a lot of glass.  BTW, David and the friend from our congregation, and his son, began picking up the broken glass, wearing heavy gloves.  They filled 2 trash cans.  The maintenance supervisor, replaced the window temporarily and did a lot of vacuuming before leaving for home again.  But even by the time I got there, I could easily seen splinters of glass everywhere.  When I couldn't see anymore, I gingerly went to bed.  (I was still shaken, and worried.)  Five hours later, I was awake and started vacuuming.  I cleaned for another 6 or 7 hours before I called it done.  (I still have 2 large bins of plastic toys that I need to rinse off under running water.  Michael has probably 200-300 Fisher-Price Little People and small accessories that were right below the window that was broken.  That will take a while.)

By mid-afternoon, it was good enough for me to walk barefoot over his carpet, and to lean my arms down onto his desktop, that is right beside another window.  I was OK sitting on a chair that had earlier been covered with glass splinters.  I let Michael and the cat go into the room again.  This was during daylight hours.  When the sun went down, I began to worry again.  I was edgy when Michael wanted to sit in there, at his desk and look out the window.  I wish the guy had been found already.  It is irksome to me that I feel this way.  I know we were all safe last night, so why am I so worried now?

1 Paid their dues / Add your two cents

Monday, September 11th 2006

12:00 PM

Where were you?

I was at home, in our 3-bedroom apartment in Arlington, VA. We shared it with my mother. Since David and I did not own a car, I had taken David to the local metro station and returned home using my mother's car. He had to be at the metro by about 7:15 AM, so I was most likely back home by 7:30. Michael was almost 15 months old, and enjoyed watching some of the PBS Kids shows. He was probably watching Clifford, The Big Red Dog, or something of that nature. I remember he watched that plus Sesame Street around that age. He was still taking morning naps for me, so I was going to put him down for a nap about 9:30 and make a mad dash to the grocery store, sans Michael. My mother was fine with babysitting him when asked, and she had agreed that morning. Michael did not like grocery shopping. If I attempted to shop with him, he usually cried loudly and eventually fell asleep, resting his head in my hand while I wheeled the shopping cart around. Almost impossible to shop then. No, let him nap at home with my mother babysitting. While we were watching kid shows in the living room, my mother was in her bedroom watching ABC's morning news show GMA (which I understand she barely watches anymore... neither do I). Michael's show was just ending when she called me into her bedroom. GMA's people were staying on past 9 AM, when it usually ends and they were talking... wondering about what could have caused this crash and resulting fire at the World Trade Center. Then, like many others who watched it live on television, I was watching the burning tower when out of the corner came something that went behind the tower and did not reappear on the other side. To me, it would have been like watching a show on TV when a fly is buzzing around and happens to fly past the front of the screen. I barely noticed it as it happened for I was fixated on the burning tower. Then there was more smoke, and the talk quickly changed to both towers were hit by something, and not by accident.

In the back of my mind, I knew I still needed to put Michael down for a nap, and possibly still go to the grocery store. I continued watching my mother's television, knowing that Michael was being entertained by whatever was coming up next on PBS. I phoned David at work to let him know what had happened, and to ask him to pray. So far, no one else in his office had a clue. He told somebody and then it was all around the office. Anyone with a radio at their desk turned it on, some of the executives upstairs turned on televisions at their disposal. After I got off the phone with David, I remembered that on occasion, my father had been sent to the WTC on business, and since I didn't usually speak to him but on occasion, I flew to the phone to call and make sure he hadn't been scheduled to be there. No one was at home when I called there. I phoned his office and though he was not there yet, his secretary assured me that he was due in later. Because I was in such a panic before hearing he was not in NY, the secretary asked if anything was wrong. I blurted the news out to her, and she was shocked. No one in that office had known either, but she said she'd turn on a radio or television. I was relieved about my father not being at the WTC, but I was very upset for those who were, and I prayed, as I already had done earlier.

At that point, I ditched the grocery store plan, and was just going to feed Michael a bottle and ease him down for his nap. His eyes were already closing as my mother came into the living room and sat on the couch, drinking her coffee. I remember she was wearing her pajamas still, and I would have been too, except for the early morning drive to the metro with David. I still remember her pajamas were of a shirt and slacks, white background with yellow stripes and roses on it. By this point, the living room television was either off, or turned down low so as to not get Michael's attention. It was probably on ABC still. I was trying to stay calm so that Michael wouldn't pick up any tension I felt. My mother and I were talking quietly and I was nearly ready to move Michael to his crib when we heard a plane going overhead, very loudly. This was not normal at all for us. The closest airport was Reagan National in Alexandria - the town south of us. I had lived in Arlington for just over 3 years, and my mother had lived there for just over a year, and we had never heard a plane so loud there. We guessed it was flying very low. It was surreal... after the events we had seen on TV, and now this. WHAT was going on?! My mother's face showed horror at the sound. It was so loud to me that I was sure someone was going to crash at least a small plane right onto the road in front of our building. Columbia Pike. I stood up and handed Michael, who stirred with the motion, to my mother. I opened our back door but could not see anything but glimpses of the road because there was a 7-11 store, a laundromat and a mechanic's garage blocking part of my view. I closed the door, and within seconds, there were many sirens running up the street, heading east. My mother and I figured they had to do with the low-flying plane we had heard, so we looked to the television for news. ABC was still running the national program, extended, so we switched it to CBS, hoping for local news. Yes, they had it there. The plane had crashed into the Pentagon, just 2 miles away from us. Prior to that day, I had once put Michael into his stroller and walked up Columbia Pike toward the Pentagon, but stopped and turned around when the sidewalk ended and I would have had to walk in the grass or on the street, where there were too many crazy drivers.

At this point, I really became panicked. I phoned David at work and said we were going to quickly pack some clothes, diapers, toys and the 2 cats and all come to get him. I said I didn't care if his boss said he could not go... we were taking David right away. We were driving up to PA, where we would feel relatively safer. My mother wanted very much to get out of there too. As I threw an unopened pack of diapers into my mother's car's trunk and walked back inside, I heard a loud bang, like an explosion. I was really freaked out now. Calmly sitting on the steps of our apartment building was an unshaven man smoking a cigarette, wearing sand colored slacks and shirt, complete with old flip-flop shoes. He lived somewhere in the complex, though I'm not sure which building, but I did recognize him. He was oblivious to the day's events. By now, it must have been pushing 10 AM. I walked back inside the building and continued my mission of packing stuff, quickly. When I was indoors at one point during my frantic grabbing of stuff, another bang and our building shook. I remember David called home and said his office was closing. My mother had long since turned off the TV and was either reading scripture out loud or was praying or was trying to look calm for Michael's sake. He had woken up thoroughly while I was racing around packing, so my mother was either holding him or letting him play in his playpen while she grabbed a few items she would need away from home. One time out at the car, a woman pulled up in her car and was taking her baby's car seat out of her car and commented how she was rushing because she was dropping her baby off at a new sitter's place, somewhere in our building, and starting a new job that day. She was worried that her car's door might have bumped my mother's car. My mother had come out with one of the cat's carriers, complete with cat inside, to put into her car... and this other young mother kept apologizing about any dings in my mother's car. My mother was very unconcerned about her car having a bump in it... she just wanted to get out of that town. I used the bathroom quickly, but found that for some unknown reason, the toilet would not flush. Much later, when we had reached my sister's house in PA, I phoned the apartment complex's manager to report our un-working toilet and she said she would send someone over to fix it. She was surprisingly non-chalant about all the fuss that was going on over the whole day's events. That bothered me. Upon our return days later, the toilet still had pee in it, but there were notices duly typed up and signed by the complex manager warning residents to report anything suspicious, etc. Then, she seemed plenty concerned. Oh well.

We got the cats, Michael and us into the car and started our drive to David's office. His office was west of where we lived, about 22 miles away. Just trying to get out of Arlington was a challenge. Not only were the people who had been working at the Pentagon trying to exit the area, but so were we, probably along with any other Arlington residents who had someplace else to go. Our car was crawling it seemed. Only nearby community's emergency vehicles were trying to get into Arlington. I cried when I realized their heroism, coming in from other towns to help our town. But I was still scared out of my wits. I was too edgy to listen to music, so we listened to silence broken by my occasional sobs or the cats meowing. Michael was asleep. Car ride + missed nap = immediate nap. Once we were "outside the beltway" on the road we were on, there didn't seem to be as much traffic. We neared the town where David worked and tried to find a payphone to call him from, to let him know we'd be at his office in 5 minutes... be downstairs waiting. We tried at least one place, perhaps two, where the phones did not work. We drove to the local library, which was closing early too, and found their payphone outside worked. David met us at the front entrance to his office building and commented that he and one of the executive bosses were the last ones to leave the office. The boss asked David if he needed the company to pay for him to be put up at a local hotel since he had no one there yet to take him home. He assured him that we were on our way, so the boss left. We had arrived within minutes of the boss leaving. Days after our return to Arlington, we would learn that a pregnant coworker, from a different department than David's, had lost her husband in the attack at the Pentagon where he worked.

We continued to drive west before heading north, trying to stay as far from DC as possible. We went up a country road that I had never traveled that part of before, but I travel it now whenever we go to PA. After a while, I said I needed to know what was going on. We turned on a radio and we heard references to the past event of at least the first tower collapsing. It took a few minutes to piece it together, but we soon knew the horrific things that had occurred in NY. Later when we got to PA, we saw what had been filmed earlier but had occurred while we were driving. We stopped to get something to eat at a Roy Roger's in Thurmont. There, they almost seemed oblivious to the day's events. It was strange. Anyway, we continued on to PA and went straight to my sister's house. We used her phone and phonebook to try and find a motel that would take pets. We explained what had happened, how we didn't have a reservation but came to the area with cats, and needed a place desperately to stay. My sister's husband is allergic to cats, and so is my brother and father. There seemed to be no other option. One motel owner agreed to let us bring the cats and we were about to leave for it. My brother phoned and said as long as we kept the cats in one room of his house, they could come. This would minimize the major dander clean-up for his wife to do after we had taken the cats back home, days later. So we called the motel owner back and thanked him, but said we'd found family to take us in after all.

We stayed in PA for days... at least 3 or 4, perhaps more. It was a blur. When we finally returned to Arlington, we drove our usual route home. It happened to take us past a fire company's building, and as we turned the corner to drive into the neighborhood across the street from our complex, a volunteer walked up to our window and asked what kind of donations we had to drop off. We were confused and said we were just returning back home after having gone away. She gave us a paper list of what sort of things were needed for the donations. Later, both my mother and I would shop for some of the things on the list and take it over. Parts of 9-11 are crystal clear in my memory, but then some parts are becoming fuzzy.

My mother remembers exactly where she was and what she was doing the day JFK was shot. She was a young mother of two, and had put us down for a nap while she folded laundry while watching her soap operas. Just going about her routine. As I was on September 11, 2001. So, what were you doing? Where were you when it happened?

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Wednesday, August 23rd 2006

11:43 AM

A way to help

  • Mood: wanting to help
  • Weather: sunny and gorgeous out there!
  • Gas Prices for My Car: uh... I don't know
  • Michael's Happenings: Sunday I came home from work to find a note scrawled in red crayon from Michael. It said, "I Love You Daddy"

Haven't been around here much.  We have been very busy, so this will be quick.  Sesame Street just went off, so Michael is ready to start the rest of the day.

I have found something that helps homeschooling families in need.  And from there, I found a way to help that foundation with funds... to help other families.

When purchasing online, consider first going to Clicks for Homeschooling.  Follow the link to your favorite retailer, and purchase as usual.  The retailer will donate to the Compassion Fund of the Home School Foundation.

Well, I said this would be quick.  Later, I'll add the Clicks for Homeschooling link to my Homeschool Resources  table above.  Michael is ready to go!

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Wednesday, August 16th 2006

10:22 AM

I'd do it all over again

  • Mood:
  • Weather:
  • Gas Prices for My Car: $3.29 last I looked
  • Michael's Happenings: One week ago, in doing some Math word problems, the question was something like: a frog ate 12 flies and a toad ate 15 flies... how many flies did they eat altogether? Michael initially said he didn't know. So I asked him if this involved addition or subtraction (he's only learned the very beginning of multiplication). After thinking for a while, he replied, "we have to subtract." I tried to understand his reasoning, and very quickly I knew where he was going with it. Afterall, the flies were gone since they'd been eaten. He figured this was a subtraction problem.

Today is our 8th wedding anniversary.

Yesterday, I told Michael that today would be our anniversary, to which he replied, "Oh, goodie!  I get to see an anniversary for the first time in my whole life.  I've never seen one before."  I said of course he had... he saw us last year on our anniversary.  He mentioned that we had been married before he was born, so I think he thought we were going to do the wedding all over again.  It would be fun to do the wedding all over again, and if we could, I bet we would.  I know Michael would have enjoyed it.

Today my beloved took the day off work to celebrate our anniversary.

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Friday, July 28th 2006

8:10 PM

Childlike Faith

  • Mood: wanting to remember Michael's childlike faith...
  • Weather: it was hot and sunny... sunset is just about to start
  • Gas Prices for My Car: $3.23 I think
  • Michael's Happenings: He's doing well with his summer.

This is going to be a quick post.  Michael and I were doing our Bible story for today, and it was taken from Exodus 19, where God tells Moses He's going to come down the mountain (in the Sinai Desert) and the people are going to see it.  Explaining to Michael that when the people would hear God's voice speaking with Moses, then the people would know that Moses really was talking to God, and not just making stuff up to tell the people.

Suddenly, I recalled an incident from 30 years ago.  I was babysitting and one of the children was upset.  It happened to be storming, and I thought she was afraid of the thunder.  She tearfully told me she wasn't afraid of the storm, but instead was sad that God didn't talk to her, like He did with Moses.  I told Michael about this memory.  Before I could finish what I was saying, he tried to figure out what I had done or said to the little girl.

"Did you pray that God would talk a little louder to her?"  He was so sweet in his innocence.  I had a hard time not giggling.  I kept a straight face and continued my story.

As a new believer, I told her that God can and does talk to us, in our spirit, or our heart.  But it usually is not audible - you can't hear it with the ears on your head.  I told Michael about this incident, and likewise explained that God can and does talk to him.  When he knows in his heart that he's told a lie, and is suddenly sorrowful for what he did, he comes and tells me.  That's the Holy Spirit talking to him.

At any rate, when the day arrived that they were going to see God speaking with Moses, the Israelites' reaction was not what most might think.  They were terrified, but Michael hasn't heard the end of that story yet.  (The people decided it was better for God to speak only to Moses, and let him pass along God's words to them.)

1 Paid their dues / Add your two cents