Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Mini Update and Christmas Eve

I've been meaning to update you all but I've been busy with taking Miss Jess to school, picking out new glasses, taking her to her peds cardiology appointment, taking Brandon to the orthodontist, other mandatory "Mom" things as well as last-minute Christmas shopping. I guess that last run-on sentence was an up date in itself. hehe... Here is an update on my previous post:

Come to find out, Karl had in fact fixed the oil leak but since he had added so much oil, the excess was running off and that's why it seemed to be leaking like a sieve! There hasn't been any more leakage that we can tell and Justen checks the oil every day... the level is still way above the full line so we are happy about that! I hope it's ok for it to have too much oil!

The package I mailed to my friends arrived safe and sound and both families were able to receive it in time for Christmas. What a relief that was to me! I probably shouldn't get so stressed out about things like that but I am just so concerned about one family - which happens to be Paige's family. I have posted prayer requests about her here before and unfortunately she still doesn't seem to be doing any better. She doesn't qualify for a heart transplant due to some other medical issues so those need to get cleared up so she can receive a new heart. Her strokes have left her still unable to talk or really move much and it's unclear how much she is able to understand. She is breathing on her own and makes slight progress but this is very hard on the rest of her family. So please continue to keep Paige and her family in your prayers.... she has been in the PICU since September and her brother is staying with grandparents - 4 hours away from where his mother stays with Paige in the hospital. Paige's dad has to work to support the family and keep their insurance so he leaves during the week and tries to go visit his wife and daughter on the weekends.

I took Jessica to school for about an hour on Weds. Her class had their Christmas party then and she really wanted to go. We are talking about having her graduate this spring. Since she isn't able to hand large crowds or long ceremonies, we are going to have a private graduation ceremony for Jessica and include her classmates, teachers and family. She will be allowed to go back to school to visit whenever she wants but that's about all she is doing now - just visiting on occasion. One of the teacher's assistants suggested that we do this before she (the TA) retires at the end of the year. I got to thinking that we should do it while Jess is still able to participate in something like that.

I'm about to fall asleep here and I think I hear Santa's reindeer on the neighbor's roof, but one last thing: We had a lot of family come to dinner at our house tonight. We had ham dinner, singing, guitar playing, violin and piano solos vocal solos and duets, clarinet solo and the reading of a unique version of a Christmas classic: "Twas the Night Before Christmas - Spanglish style." Since all of my family (myself, my sister's husband and my brother's wife) grew up in the Northern part of Mexico - and we live practically on the border to Mexico, this poem seemed appropriate. My brother who now lives in CA read it to us. I thought it was quite cute and many of you will "get" it too.

'Twas the night before Christmas and all through the casa,
Not a creature was stirring - ¡Caramba! ¿Qué pasa?

Los niños were tucked away in their camas,
Some in long underwear, some in pijamas,
While hanging the stockings with mucho cuidado,
In hopes that old Santa would feel obligado,
To bring all children, both buenos and malos,
A nice batch of dulces and other regalos.

Outside in the yard there arose un gran grito,
and I jumped to my feet like a frightened cabrito.
I ran to the window and looked out afuera,
And who in the world do you think that it era?

Saint Nick in a sleigh and a big red sombrero,
Came dashing along like a loco bombero.
And pulling his sleigh instead of venados,
Were eight little burros approaching volando.

I watched as they came and this quaint little hombre,
Was shouting and whistling and calling by nombre:
"Ay Pancho, ay Pepe, ay Cuco, ay Beto,
ay Chato, ay Chopo, Maruco, y Nieto!"

Then standing erect with his hands on his pecho,
He flew to the top of our very own techo,
With his round little belly like a bowl of jalea,
He struggled to squeeze down our old chiminea.

Then huffing and puffing at last in our sala,
With soot smeared all over his red suit de gala,
He filled all the stockings with lively regalos,
None for the ninos that had been very malos.

Then chuckling aloud, seeming very contento,
He turned like a flash and was gone como el viento,
And I heard him exclaim, y ¡esto es verdad!

Merry Christmas to all, ¡y Feliz Navidad!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Stressing out....

Dan insists that I need to update more so I guess I'll humor him a little. Let's see... where to start first?

Oh yeah, how about starting with the pick-up truck. It's a 91 Toyota and has been leaking oil for awhile. Recently it suddenly started hemorrhaging oil! We would give it transfusions every day and still would be dry by morning. Time for surgery. Karl is a JVS (junior vehicle surgeon) and figured out what part needed to be replaced. After calling most parts places and not being able to find the particular part he needed, he decided to go for a 2nd opinion and get an estimate. The estimate was about $400! Did I mention that the part only costs $11! So the SVS (Senior Vehicle Surgeon) talked to Karl about what steps he needed to take to replace the part - AND gave him the name of a store which sells the part so Karl could work on it himself. This surgery is not an easy one since everything has to be taken out of the truck and out of the way just to get to the part. The patient had to stay up on blocks in ICU over-night since most of it's innards were strewn all over our front yard. Karl has Hazardous Materials classes every day this week and can't take a day off to fix the truck so he has been working on it in the evenings. Justen is the main one who uses the truck and he has been helping his dad do the work. Well, this evening all the parts were put back together and the truck started right up. Karl took it for a test-drive and guess what? THE BLASTED THING IS LEAKING LIKE A SIEVE! For crying out loud! Karl looked and looked at it with his flashlight and it seems to be leaking in a different area then the one place he worked on. He will have to take apart the truck to get to that place too. UGH! Very frustrating. Justen has to miss doing his mission tomorrow since we don't want him driving the truck very far. He can only take the truck to work. Fortunately he works less then 2 miles from here, where his mission is more like 8 or 9 miles away.

Karl is still working on enclosing the carport. It's amazing how much work has to be done on this thing! We had the "intermediate electrical" inspection today but didn't pass. There are a couple of things that Karl need to change. These aren't huge things but it will take more time and work... and of course, more money. Even though we aren't as cold here as many of you gals and guys, it has been cold - down to as low as 29° - and since there is no insulation in the walls of the new room yet, cold air has been coming into the house. Karl put up some make-shift doors to help keep the draft out of our house but it is still seeping in. Jessica has been getting too cold so we turn up the thermostat to keep her warm and then of course our bills go up. We can't put the insulation up until we pass the electrical inspection. We were hoping to have passed the inspection today and been able to quickly put in the insulation the rest of this week but the inspector - and our pick-up truck - had different plans for us.

I am a bit stressed out about a package I sent to someone for Christmas. The package I sent was for two families to help them out with Christmas. If it's any body's fault what happened, it was mine, but mostly it was all a misunderstanding. I spent $40 to sent the package over-night to family #1 and nobody was there to accept the package. According to the tracking record, they left a message for the family to go to the post office to pick it up (last Saturday) and it still hasn't been picked up. The online record said that if it isn't picked up within 5 days (from Sat) then it would be sent back to me. Family #2 has a child in the hospital far away from their hometown and a family member was to pick up items for the child on Monday at the address of the first family, so I sent it over-night so that both families would have it in time for Christmas. I haven't heard anything from family #1 and I realized, after reading through some email, that they may not have been in town over the weekend - in fact, I'm not sure exactly when they were returning. If I had known, again - I should have read email and figured things out, I wouldn't have mailed it over-night and would have saved a few bucks... especially since family #2 has probably already missed out on picking up their gifts before Christmas. Note to self: when wanting to mail packages, don't ASSUME ANYTHING. Be sure to prepare package early and know for a fact that it will be able to be picked up on time! LOL! I could have saved myself a lot of grief by preparing the items earlier and mailing the package sooner. As I said, I am not upset with either family, just mostly with myself for not being on the ball. I am concerned that I haven't heard from family #1 so I emailed them tonight to see if they even knew they had a package waiting to be picked up. I will be very upset if the package gets sent back to me because I really want these families to have the gifts. My kids contributed to the package and I know they genuinely care about those families too. There have been times when USPS has left those messages without enough information or in places where someone wouldn't find them. Hopefully family #1 will get my email and can go and retrieve the package.

Jessica has not felt up to going to school AT ALL this year yet. One of her best teacher's assistants called me and asked if Jess wanted to go to their class Christmas party. Of course Jess asked to talk to the TA and wants to go. The party is tomorrow, on Weds - I say tomorrow because it's not quite 2:30am and I just got her into bed again. School lets out early tomorrow at 11:00am so the party starts at 10:00am. Usually Jess doesn't get up in the morning until 11:00am so it's going to be interesting trying to get her up at 8:45 in order to get her ready to go. I felt really bad for her because she was getting some things ready to put into her backpack to take to school tomorrow and then she was huffing and puffing... she started to cry saying that she didn't feel well. She gets out of breath so easily and tires so quickly. I was able to get her calmed down after a little while and I just hope she feels well enough to go. My heart breaks for her. She has such big hopes and dreams and her body just can't handle hardly anything anymore. I hope she can handle going to see her friends and teachers tomorrow for a little while. It's something she really wants to do. The special Ed teachers have been talking about Jessica and asked me if I want her to graduate this year. She doesn't go to school but a few times a year and they said that she is always welcome to go back to visit. She isn't even doing school work because she fatigues so easily. She is able to do very basic addition and subtraction, she can read at a 2nd - 3rd grade level which is pretty good for special ed. I talked to them about possibly having a small ceremony since I don't think she could handle a large ceremony. When Justen graduated a few years ago they held it out on the center of the football field. Even though the graduation ceremony was held in the evening, the sun hadn't gone down yet and it was HOT! We had a hard time finding a place in the shade for Jess to sit and she was exhausted before it was over. This was before she started having lung bleeds, arrhythmias and had been going to school on a more regular basis. I just can't see her trying to be out on the football field in the sun for the whole ceremony. I was told that they are already looking into having a private ceremony for her and having her teachers and classmates participate. I think it would be a really nice experience for Jessica to be able to wear a cap and gown, have her pictures taken and have a small ceremony just for her. Although, talking about these arrangements makes me realize again how fragile she is and how much she has declined in the last year or so. Technically, she could stay in special ed for another year or even two but if we want her to be able to graduate, we need to do it now (meaning in the spring) before it's too late.

On a good note:
Santa is going to come to visit Miss Jess at our house either Friday or Saturday evening for a little while which is always really nice for her. She really loves those visits since we try to keep her away from the crowded mall and other places where germy kids like to gather. I don't think she needs to be in a long line of children waiting to have a quick visit with Santa. This Santa has come to our house for the past 3 or 4 years and he looks forward to seeing Jessica every year. Of course the boys are always involved too but they don't think they need to believe in Santa anymore.... but Jessica sure does! I love her innocence and her joy in talking to Santa and taking pleasure in the simple things in life.

Speaking of Christmas and packages, etc... I've been running myself ragged trying to get everything ready for Christmas. Every year I always end up wishing I had ONE MORE WEEK to get ready! We are doing minimal decorations this year since things have been so crazy. Jessica has had several doctor's appointments lately and has another cardiology appointment on Thursday. Brandon has an orthodontist appointment tomorrow afternoon too. I usually do most of the Christmas shopping with my friend, Keri and then Karl will help me do the rest but since he's been so busy this year, I've had to run out and do it all. Also, Keri up and moved out of state so I've really missed her this year! (Geesh, Keri, can't Bert just commute? haha!) Karl and I usually wrap gifts together but the way things have been going, I have been doing the wrapping by myself too. I kind of feel bad that Karl hasn't been able to participate in these preparations for Christmas since he usually likes to help pick out fun things for the kids, etc. It's just been such a crazy year! He has really been going to a lot of specialty classes and doing special details with his job... then spending as much time as he can working on the room. I try not to complain about not spending as much time with him nor the huge messes that keep being made with the construction, but it's wearing on me. Hopefully once the insulation is in Karl will be able to relax a little more and not feel so pressured to get it finished. I know, the biggest mess is yet to come. That dry-wall is HORRIBLE, especially when they will have to sand it. Oh boy, I am NOT looking forward to that! But you know.... it will all be worth it. Not only because I will have a nice room of my very own, but because I know that my sweet husband is doing all of this for me. He loves me and I tell him every day how much I appreciate all his work. This evening he came into the house to wash his hands a little before taking the truck out for a test drive. He has smudges and specks of oil on his face and in his hair that I wiped off with a rag. Karl told me that it's little things like this that let him know that I love him. hehe... and I do. He's a cutie - just like a little boy who gets all dirty while playing outside in the dirt (and oil).

Well, that is my whinny update. I feel better just getting all that out. Most of the time I have been very happy that all my kids are home, safe, and mostly happy. Hey, I have teens so of course they aren't going to be ALL happy ALL the time! hehe! I am really looking forward to spending time with family that is coming into town for Christmas and with those that live here too. If all goes as planned, my family will be coming to my house for dinner on Christmas Eve. I think I convince Karl that ham would be nicer (and easier) than a turkey for dinner. On Christmas Day, we are going to drive out to Karl's parent's house for a nice, quiet lasagna dinner which my Mother-in-law is cooking. It will be nice to relax and enjoy a quiet evening with them too.

What is stressing YOU out? (Besides reading this long-winded post?)

Monday, December 17, 2007

12 Days of Christmas?

I have been decorating for Christmas (FINALLY!) and listening to Christmas music. Here are a couple of fun YouTube versions of "12 Days of Christmas". Neither is your typical version so I highly recommend that you watch them and have a little giggle.

Hope you all are getting your Christmas shopping done and are more on the ball than I am.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

What is your definition of beauty?

Beauty, they say, is in the eye of the beholder. Is that true? Then why does society try to fit the term "beautiful women" into a small cubbyhole - one that only allows tall, thin, young women with full lips, high cheek bones, large eyes and flowing long hair into it? Here is a video clip that has been on many blogs and sent around via email but it deserves to be posted again.

Here is another one that my friend Dan posted on his blog recently:

I grew up thinking I was too fat, too short, too this, too that, but definitely not beautiful. I would wish I could be more like so-and-so or the latest model or actress. My dad has always said that people put far too much emphasis on beauty because beauty is fleeting - it doesn't last forever. I had people in my life who would tell me that I was beautiful just the way I was, (thanks Mom!), but somehow that just wasn't quite enough. Everywhere I looked, in the magazines, on TV, movies, etc, there were the "beautiful" women that I could never look like. I still have very few pictures of myself that I like. I am far more critical of myself then those who love me... my husband tells me every day that I'm beautiful and he says I insult him by rolling my eyes or making silly faces back to him. I've been trying to not do that as often and realize that he really does look at me and sees me as beautiful. I am trying to view myself as he sees me.

Jessica sees people with her heart - she saw a picture of my great-grandmother and said, "WOW! She's beautiful!" I have to tell you that I have looked at that same picture many times and wondered how such a wonderful woman could be so homely? I've heard many stories of my great-grandmother and she did so much good for so many people, she was a mid-wife and delivered hundreds of babies, she did a lot of service for people in her community and church and she was so talented.... she did amazing handwork, some of which my aunt has samples of. She blessed every life she touched and I look forward to meeting her when I pass on... but I never thought of her as "beautiful". My mom sent me a picture of her and Jessica asked, "Who is that lady? She's beautiful!" She didn't even know who it was and yet she knew she was beautiful.

I want to be more like Jessica when I grow up.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

The Lazy Blogger

I am a lazy blogger and copied most of this post from an email I sent to my friend, June, who emailed to check up on me. How sweet to have a blogger friend that was worried about me since I hadn't updated in awhile. So here is my update with only minor changes from the email I sent her.

Things have been crazy-busy around here. Jess has been up and down - she's had some pain in her right foot and she's been fighting congestive heart failure. We've been to the doctor's a couple of times and done x-rays on the foot and blood work. Apparently the x-ray was normal so she must have hurt it somehow but fortunately didn't break anything. Her foot seems to slowly be feeling a bit better. Her blood work came back that her thyroid was still low so her doctor increased that medication. I spoke to the cardiologist and I'm allowed to give her 1 or 2 extra doses of lasix per week but not more. She already takes it twice a day and if she needs more then we will have to give her more aldactone too in order to keep her potassium in check. Her legs and feet are less puffy and her primary care doc said that she looked pretty good. All blood work was good so she isn't in CHF too badly.

We had a marvelous Thanksgiving and I keep meaning to upload pictures and post them here. We had family come into town and I got to see my nephew who is battling brain cancer. He is an awesome young man and he and his brothers are growing up so fast! It was great to see my sister and her husband again too. My parents came in from out of town and my mom's sister, husband and son also came from the Phoenix area. We got to see friends of the family and my siblings that live near us and their families too. It was a crazy-noisy-wonderful time!

The best news is that my oldest son (who has aspergers) took a date to a formal dinner/dance at the church tonight. He brought his date over to meet us and I took a few pictures. I am so happy that my son felt comfortable enough to ask a girl out on a date. This is only his 2nd date EVER! He is 21 yrs old but his aspergers has made it very difficult for him to reach beyond himself and be sociable. He has come a long way since he was diagnosed almost 2 years ago and I am very proud of him. Karl and I have been coaching him on how to be a gentleman and he did so well! I am very impressed with the girl he brought to meet us. She is 18 yrs old and was so nice - especially to Jessica. She and Jess really hit it off. After Justen and Raven (his date) left for the dance Jessica talked non-stop about Raven and how nice she is and how they have so much in common. She asked me if Raven would be able to come over and play Nintendo with her and Justen, etc. hehe After the dance, Justen told me that it went really well and they had a good time. He plans on asking her out again and possibly bringing her over to hang out. Apparently she said that meeting us wasn't "as bad as she thought it would be". haha! I'll take that as a compliment! Karl and I wanted her to feel welcome and I hope we achieved that. We are both so happy that our son is progressing and making good choices.

I'll upload pictures soon - I promise! I haven't been getting much sleep and was ill most of the day today so I slept - now I've been up for awhile and am heading to bed. We are supposed to put up our Christmas tree tomorrow so I'm going back to bed so I can feel well enough for that fun family activity. Of course I'll be taking pictures of that! ;-)

I am so blessed to have such a wonderful family and awesome friends. I just couldn't ask for more.