Sunday, November 11, 2007

DADS - November 2007

My father was born in 1931. He passed away in 1979 at 47 years old.

His father started out working for the railroad and went on to become a farmer. There was never much money around. Often my father told the story of his mother going to work cleaning a school at night in order to get money for him to go to school. I only remember seeing his mother once, while passing in a car.

My father went on to obtain a PhD in Chemical Engineering and he worked for a defense contractor. He grew to dislike the job a LOT, more for the politics than the actual work. (I can SO understand that right now).

He went to college at WVU, which is where he and my mother met. He apparently joined the German Club to be able to meet her and wound up helping her with algebra, which was not her best subject.

Two memories of my father from my childhood stand out:

1. He got us (my brother and me) up one night and made us go downstairs. To get to the downstairs we had to go down a wooden staircase (with no railing). The basement was unfinished cement and cinderblock. We could hear our mother screaming - she was apparently quite sick and taken to the hospital by ambluance. I remember driving by and looking up to a window and seeing her wave from there. She was supposed to have an emergency surgery, but credits her faith with making it not necessary.

2. My Dad taught me how to ride a bike. When the time came to take off the training wheels, he would hold onto the bike and walk/jog around the block with me. Once when we got back to our driveway, he told me that I had been riding a good part of the way by myself and he had been jogging to keep up! That made me feel really good about myself.

Christmas 1971 he came home and said that we were moving to Utah in two weeks. At the time, I had no idea where or what "Utah" was. :) His work transferred him.

Dad took alpine skiing lessons with my brother and me that first winter we lived in Salt Lake. Mom, of course, had been skiing her whole life.


OK. I just had a cold shiver run down my back. My father worked 17 miles away from his job there. He grew to hate it toward the end. One day, when he was 47, he came home sick from work. A week later he passed away.

I work 17 miles away from my job. I grow to dislike the politics of that workplace more and more each day. This week I barely pulled myself back from "the edge". I am 46.


What's a memory you have of YOUR father?

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

MOMS - November 2007

I seem to be having a theme of "welcome to my world" this month, so I thought I'd tell you all about my Mother.

My mother was born in Davos, Graubunden, Switzerland in 1923. Her father was Swiss and her mother was American.

Her father wanted to be a banker, but his parents insisted he be a lawyer. This was back in the day when you didn't say no to your parents about anything. So he became a lawyer ... and started drinking. Mom didn't say anything to me about this until within the last ten years or so; I guess she was ashamed, although she needn't have been. Whatever money the family had was spent on drink or on taking care of Nayni (as close a phonetic spelling as I can get) once he developed the health problems of an excessive drinker.

Mom, her brother and mother spent a lot of time living with other family and friends.

Then, in her teens and early twenty's WWII exploded all around the little haven that was Switzerland. Even today it doesn't take more than like two hours to cross the country, so it must have been terribly nerve-wracking back then. I think that is where I get my determination and persistence from ... her backbone.

Like I said before, my Nani (Swiss for grandmother) was actually born in the US, and emigrated to Switzerland when she was 17. She was a beautiful woman (I've seen pictures) in her youth and according to my Mother had quite a few "gentleman callers". Mom has some old rings of Nani's and you just don't get the same craftsmanship today as you did back then.

Anyhow, my grandfather was the suitor that she chose to marry, and am I ever glad that she did! *LOL*

On the downside, I date most of my problems with self-esteem from the time I wanted to enter a children's beauty pageant when I was about 5 or 6, and my mother's response was "well, you know not everyone wins". For all I know, it could have been that we didn't have the money for the entry fee ... but my little self took it as that my mother did not believe I could win.

On the plus side, my Mother has surprised me more than once with shows of support. I suppose the biggest one was when I had to tell her I was pregnant the first time. Normally, not a hard thing to tell one's mother, especially considering it would be her first grandchild - and she had started to think she wouldn't live to see them; however, I was *scary movie music* "not married". She really stepped up to the plate on that one, regardless of what I might or might not have deserved at that point.

Mothers are people too. They're not angels, but they're not devils either. If yours leans more towards the angel side, you are truly blessed. If, on the other hand, your mother has had ... more than a fair share of problems ... you have my sympathy and my admiration for surviving in spite of it all.

Oh, remind me one day to post the picture of my mother alpine skiing in her bathing suit. She was a hottie back in her day! :)

Sunday, November 4, 2007

WORK - November 2007

I have two income-producing activities at the moment.

Firstly, I work outside the home at a residential/teaching facility for adults with mental retardation and developmental disabilities. It can be difficult work, but it has its rewards - like when you see someone learn something new, or see a face light up when you walk in the room or they hear your voice. It is probably the first job I've had where I feel like I've made a substantive difference in someone's life.

The trouble comes in with the administration. I have to either suppose that they are inept and just don't see the way things are, or unfeeling and don't care. For instance, during the latter part of the summer, we had a heat wave here. They were issuing municipal warnings to stay inside if you didn't absolutely have to be out. Kids at school did not go out for recess. But we had to take our residents out of the homes from 9am to 4pm to various classes and locations on the campus ... residents with seizure diagnoses and breathing troubles. Sometimes it just seemed downright irresponsible. But the staff would get in trouble if it was not done.

The next two weeks DOJ (the Department of Justice) and OIG (Office of the Inspector General) will be 'surveying' the operations of the facility. We've been given required activities to do with the residents in the home as well: exercise, music appreciation, socialization and crafts. We've been given a specific set of words we need to use when someone unfamiliar comes into the home.

Staff: Welcome to Home 6. My name is _____. Would you like to sign our guestbook? Right now, we are engaged in (insert activity) with the individuals because it assists in developing the (leisure, etc) domain of their ILP (individual life plan).

It sounds so forced and artificial.

But the muckety-muck who came through our home to "quiz" us on the above ... I have to give him a little credit. He came in right after we had finished dinner. There was only me and another lady as staff. We introduced ourselves, got him to sign the guest book and the log and said we were going to be engaging in evening activities with our ladies. It came out that supplies had been ordered and were not expected until the next week. He said, "That is unacceptable. There's a WalMart next door, isn't there?" There were hundreds of dollars of supplies for arts, crafts, and sensory activities in the home the very next day.

I can't wait until the surveyors get there actually. I will be diplomatic, to be sure, but I will be honest with my opinion if and when they ask.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

HOME - November 2007

Last month I sang the praises of "home" life. This month I'll introduce you to my "house". I'll just have to paint with words as I don't have a picture to put up here.

The original part of the house was moved to its present location from across the street in the 1920's. I know this because there is a part of a wall sticking out from under the side/back porch in which someone has scratched 1926. Also, I was speaking with a home school mom from across the street and she told me that my house used to sit where hers does now, and that it was moved. But I got the bonus tidbit that the house sat in the middle of the road overnight (for whatever reason) and that the woman who owned it slept in the house ... right in the street! There's a few cars that pass by now every once in a while, but back then, I'm sure it was just a dirt road with like one or two cars a month passing by. *lol*

I think the front part was all there was to the house when it was moved. So that would make it 3 rooms: what we use as our bedroom, the living room and the "hallway" / entryway. Then at some point, the back part was added on, effectively doubling the size of the house. (And thank goodness for that, because we are cramped as it is.) But there is another bedroom, the kitchen (which is the largest room in the house), a bathroom and small storage/utility room. The back part of the house is not as wide as the front part, but longer, so there is a little "hidey-place" on the one side that I like. I can go out on the back porch and not really be seen from the street, which is ok with me. It is the back porch of inspiration, that gave me the name for my other blog, Back Porchervations. A porchervation is an observation made on a porch. *lol*

There is only one interior door, and that is to the bathroom. That was my biggest adjustment. I'm used to doors. I like doors. I probably wouldn't pull the covers over my head so much if there was a door to my bedroom. :p

Well, that's my house in a nutshell. It isn't very big. Real estate agents might call it "cozy".

I like the back yard. There are a LOT of trees that must be 100+ years old. It looks like a forest, and I like to think that it is much as pioneers might have found it back in the day.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

FAMILY - November 2007

This month I thought I'd introduce you to my family.


My mother was born in Davos, Graubunden, Switzerland in 1923. She has one brother. She spent early adulthood smack dab in the middle of WWII Europe. Her father was an alcoholic - something I did not find out until the late 1990's. Mom doesn't like to talk about it. Her hair was jet black in her youth ... and as long as she bothered to color her hair. Now it is a nice silvery-white. It was quite a shock, though, when I flew out of Salt Lake one time, leaving her there with black hair and came back a couple of months later to see her with white hair. *LOL*

She was stern in bringing up my brother and me. She wore horn-rimmed glasses for the longest time. I guess it was a 60's thing. We got disciplined by being spanked by a wooden spoon - this was back in the days before spanking was considered child abuse ... but THAT is a topic for another day.

I also credit her with raising me in such a fashion that I did no more than dabble with drugs and alcohol. She took the news that I was pregnant (and not married) a LOT better than I thought she would. For a while, though, I considered myself closer to my MIL than to my own mother ... until MIL tried to get custody of my sons about 7 years ago. Mom stood by me in that and I am grateful.

I appreciate my mother a whole lot more and feel much sorrier for how I treated her while I was growing up now that I have kids of my own.



My brother is 22 months older than me. When the tooth fairy "forgot" to visit me one night when I was little, he dug a quarter out of his piggy bank and gave it to me. When we moved from Maryland to Utah, he punched me in the arm (in an annoyingly brotherly sort of way) more times than I care to remember.

I felt bad for him when he had started college and lost a scholarship based on .001 of a grade point ... and because I happened to have a teensily higher GPA (I was still in high school) that term ... and our parents never let him forget it.

My brother is an EXTREMELY TALENTED keyboardist. He plays mostly piano and organ. He has played with the Utah Opera (as a rehearsal accompanist), accompanied many voice students at the University of Utah and is in the Master of Music program there.

He is a ROCK.



I met my husband online. He is my 2nd husband.

You could say that we complete each other ... or you could say we're co-dependent on each other. He has manic depression (bi-polar disorder) - and I'm beginning to suspect BPD - and I have clinical depression.

We've been married ten years and counting and are still learning about each other. I hope that never stops. There are a lot of things I like and admire about him ... and one or two things that don't sit quite so well.

He is nearly totally self-taught in computers and I say with confidence that if there is something he cannot do with a computer ... then it pretty much doesn't need doing by the vast majority of folks.



DS1 will be 11 on December 1st. I still remember going into the hospital for him to be born. I remember the utter terror when they wheeled him into my room for the first time (he was on O2 and I was restricted to bed for 24 hours).

He has ADD and is starting to enter that flippant "tween" stage. (I am headed to the store for vitamins ... and maybe valium.) He is also one of the brightest, most inquisitive people I know.

The cutest thing about him is when he got mad at the nurses in the NICU when his sister was born because they wouldn't let him take her home so he could take care of her!



DS2 was born 18 months (almost to the day) after his older brother. I figured we were done having kids then because each of us had been born in a different state ... and we had no plans to move.

DS2 has SPD. His intelligence his deeper in his person than is his brother's. It takes him a little longer to catch on but once he does, he remembers forever. He likes to draw (a former speciality was butterflies - and I had to literally bite my tongue the day he brought me one ... it must have been female because the top half was anatomically CORRECT!) *LOL*

He is one of the sweetest and kindest individuals I know. He enjoys doing things to make people happy, and giving them nice surprises.



DD is my miracle baby. I was 41 YOA when DD was born - 8 weeks premature. We were told to expect her to stay in NICU until the original due date, but she was progressing well enough that we were able to bring her home at 22 days old! The hardest thing I have ever done was to have to leave her in the hospital when I was discharged.

I roomed in with her the final night. There were several rooms in the NICU unit that were like little hotel rooms, where the parent/s could stay with their preemie alone, but still have the hospital staff within hollering distance should the need arise. The next morning, it was time to go. She was dressed in her white lacy going home outfit, when it became apparent that she needed a change. Once I got her wiped up, and before I got the new diaper secured, she squirted out another poopie all over her going-home outfit, pretty blankets and ALL OVER MY ARM! *LOL* (I knew I'd laugh at that one day!)

She has impossibly curly hair (less so now that her hair is a little longer) and likes pink. Last week she talked for two days about getting a tool set ... so Papaw took her out and got her a tool set. She was thrilled!

Now she wants a cupcake set ... whatever that is.


How about y'all? What does YOUR family "look" like?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

VACATIONS - October 2007

The last 'vacation' on which my family and I went was last holiday season ... to San Francisco. MIL and her husband lived in S San Fran at the time (they have since moved to Ft Worth, and I've been informed we are going for Thanksgiving ... but THAT's another story.)

It was the first time DD and DS2 had been on an airplane, so I was worried. The Conair crash in Lexington was still semi-fresh in people's minds, so I was worried. We were all traveling on the same plane, so I was worried. (Are you sensing the theme here?). I had gum in case the kids' ears started to pop. DS2's did and it scared him a bit. But I shouldn't have worried (as much.) I was sitting with DD (and she was next to the window). As we started to speed down the runway, she SHOUTED, "Faster! FASTER!!!" *lol*

Our flight from Louisville on Southwest was shortly after 7 am I believe and we were there by 4:30. Admirable, but nothing was open that early...not even the baggage check-in. But we did find the closest parking spot in long-term parking. It is quite difficult to keep three high-energy children safe and entertained in a nearly deserted airport for a couple of hours.

On our plane change in Las Vegas, I wanted to take a turn at some slots ... but it just didn't work out. Later, we arrived in San Jose and "Grammy" (MIL) was waiting and estatic to see us ... well, the kids anyway. While we were waiting for the luggage, she offered to take the kids to the car and come pick us up. Due to certain events in our shared past, I was not in favor of that option. We got out all the same. She had rented a small SUV for the duration of our visit, because her Cadillac (the only kind of car she will drive-don't I WISH!) wouldn't fit us all and the luggage too.

There is, of course, a LOT more to this story, but that will come out over the months. One thing I did vow, was that I would NEVER again travel at December holiday time with the whole family. Well, at least this year, we will be gone (to SLC to visit MY family) and back by December 17th.

I wish I had seen this list for "Navigating the Airport During Peak Times". It's great to see familiy, especially during holidays or birthdays or at family reunions. But give yourself every advantage you can, so the vacation can be a relaxing change, and not just recovery from the trip!

Feel free to post any additional travel tips you may have. Thanks!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

INSURANCE - October 2007

The last couple of months for my family have proven how valuable insurance is not for our physical health, but also for our financial health.

My husband began experiencing chest pains. We went 4 (?) times to the ER in 6-8 weeks, including two trips by ambulance. It wound up being his gallbladder. There was one surgery (that was bungled in the pre-op phase, and nearly killed him) which was not actually done, and another surgery (in a different hospital), complications from that necessitated a return trip to the hospital and a 2nd outpatient 'procedure'.

I shudder to think what our bills would be like without insurance.

Then there were the bills when my daughter was born. I had insurance through my work. On my 2nd OB visit, the office presented me with their calculation of what I would still owe the doctor, once the insurance had covered what they would cover ... and it was about $1200, which they would graciously allow me to pay over 6 months. I just about crumbled at that point, because we didn't have $200 TOTAL to give the doctor, let alone $200 per month for 6 months.

I turned to Medicaid at that point. I'm not sure, but think that pregnancy is just about an automatic in for Medicaid at the income level we had then. And thank goodness it was!

I had a high-risk pregnancy, due to my age, high blood pressure and gestational diabetes, so I also had to visit a specialist. My daughter wound up being born 2 months early, weighing 3 lbs .4 oz at birth. She stayed 22 days in the hospital and the hospital bill (covered 100 pct by my insurance at work) was in the neighborhood of $60K.

It can be frustrating, too. We have dental insurance through my work. But it sucks. There is a yearly limit per person of $1,000. I can't even get one tooth fixed for that much, KWIM?

Then there is life insurance, which is another near-necessity, especially if you are a one-income family. What happens when the wage-earner passes on? This was the case with my father died at 47 years of age. He only had term life insurance, but luckily it was still in force. It was of sufficient amount to pay off the mortgage to the house in which we were living, which was a HUGE load off my mother's mind.

Do you have any stories about insurance - good or bad? Feel free to share them here!