Yes, it is!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

So Happy Today!!

This morning I went for a pedicure and manicure.  My pedicure looks great.  The manicure?  I don't even know why I bother.  I can't even get beyond the drying are without messing up the manicure.  But my toes look great.  I even had a design painted on the big toes.  Cool!
After I left the nail place, I headed over to Ann's bra shop.  Since I have what is considered a rare size, that is the only place that I have been able to find properly fitting bras.  I was one of the unlucky people who ended up being bigger busted after nursing each kid.(If you're really interested in what size I got up to, then message me)   I was really counting on the natural reduction after each kid.  But alas, my body failed me.  This past Winter, I consulted with a plastic surgeon who recommended reduction based on my body size vs. breast size.  And Tricare approved it.  Well, part of it.  Most of my friends were supportive of my decision to reduce but there were others who were kind enough to remind that "people pay a lot of money for those".  Well, guess what?! The grass is always greener on the other side and I have never been drawn to the idea of large breast.  It is not comfortable and it makes me very self-conscious during certain activities like running. 
This past February, I started a fitness routine so I could get back into shape, lose a little bit of weight, and start to feel good about myself.  I've never had to good fortune to lose weight on top so I really did not count on losing weight on top this time.  However, I was determined to get the rest of my body in good shape.  I figured that if I was in better physical shape, then maybe my recovery from the reduction would be easier.
The reason I am so happy is that it appears that I have lost a little bit on top after all.  I was able to buy a new sports bra 3 sizes smaller than what I was currently wearing.  YES! The fitting specialist at the shop probably thought it odd that I was rejoicing over a bra size but I don't care.  I'm so excited that I have a little less weight on top now and with my new bra, I can finally wear the cute sport tops that I've been wanting to wear. I even bought a Jane strap.  In extra-small.  Extra-small!  And it's still a little loose but it's the smallest size available.  Which means that I am now about 30-32 around instead of 34.  So, I'm going to have a friend adjust the Jane strap so that it will fit a little tighter the way it should.
Sixty two dollars later and I'm so excited.   Well, not about the price tag. 

Friday, July 30, 2010

A Ben Funny and Boys Are Gross

Ben never ceases to keep me humored.  Tonight as he was sitting on the potty, I went ahead and took his pants and shirt off so I could get him ready for bed.  Ben must have felt a little chilled because he gestured for a shirt.  So I showed him the ASL sign for shirt.  The way to sign "shirt" is to grab with the index finger and thumb the upper part of your shirt (I grabbed closer up toward the shoulder) and tug out a couple of times.  Easy enough, right?  Heheh, well, Ben was way off when he grabbed his left nipple and pulled out.  I couldn't help but laugh. Jackie noticed it, too, and she got a good laugh out of it. 
That reminds me of what Ben did to me last December when we were visiting family in Texas.  All 18 of us were sitting around waiting for our reserved area to be prepared.  Ben came over to me and wanted me to hold him so I obliged.  I happened to be standing in clear view of everyone around, and not just our party, when Ben decided to humor everyone by grabbing my breast and honking it a couple of times.  That was the first time Ben ever did that to me.  Embarrassed, I immediately looked up to see who noticed and of course, I see people about ready to roll on the floor in laughter.  Boys!
This next bit may be TMI but I am still learning just how gross toddler boys can be.  It seems that Ben has discovered additional anatomy of his... umm... male anatomy?  Well, while Ben sits on the potty, he has been squeezing open this particular part of his male anatomy and it skeeves me out.  Of course, I try to get him to stop.  With Ben's imagination and his love of sticking things inside of things, I just hope he doesn't try to stick something in this particular anatomical structure anytime soon.  Imagine explaining that in the emergency room.  

Personal Training

I had another personal training session this morning with Misti.  Today I was scheduled to train alongside a wonderful new friend.  It was great to have somebody to commiserate with. 
Anyway, I got to the Y and met up with Shelly and we walked around the track a few times to warm up before Misti joined us.  Even though I am NOT a morning person, I was ready to work.  Until I saw all the stuff that Misti wanted us to do.  Okay, so I got through the 3 sets of jump-roping (100x), obliques, steps (40x), and some other stuff.  Okay, so not too bad other than the fact that I kept smacking myself in the head with that darn jump-rope.  After those sets, we started on the arms.  It was hard work but I got through it.  After Misti had us run our final laps around the track, I saw the clock and thought that time passed very quickly.  Like they say, "time flies when you're having fun."  I thought it was time to go and I followed Misti and Shelly downstairs. 
Little did I know what was in store for me.  I was all ready to say goodbye to Shelly (and Misti) when I somehow realized that I must have been blind when I looked at the clock upstairs.  We still had 20 minutes left of our session.  Twenty minutes! 
Of course, being the seasoned trainee that Shelly is, she proceeded to show off her skills on this ridiculous machine.  I don't even know how to describe other than that it is an impossible machine.  But Shelly made it look easy.  So I watch Shelly on the beast of a machine and think "okay, this is a piece of cake."  Heheh,
So it's my turn and I climb up on this thing and get my arms and knees situated on this beast machine and Misti lets go. Whoa, I flew down.  Embarrassing!  So, I get situated back into position and start to proceed.  I got the first one done and it was quite easy. So I made the mistake of telling Misti that I thought that I needed a little more weight.  She adds more weight and I was able to do 2 more before I realized that I should have kept my mouth shut about the additional weight.  I. could. not. lift. My arms were giving out.  Oohhh, I was in pain.  So, with Misti's gracious (sarcasm inserted here) help, I made it through the set of 15.  Then I had to climb off and face backward on this dumb beast machine and get into this position (that I won't even describe) and push the bench down without losing my balance.  Well, that was an embarrassing fail, too, but Misti helped me get through it.  Next up was this other tricep machine.  Not so bad, in fact it was a nice change from the aforementioned nightmare set.  Then push-ups were next.  I got those done and Misti promptly (or gently?) told me to do another set of these last three exercises.  Oh noooooooo, not the beast again?  I pulled up my big girl panties and stepped up to the plate determined that I was going to conquer this beast machine.  Big fail.  Again. But Misti was not letting me off and as hard as I tried to get through this particular machine, I just could not seem to get the strength.  My eyes actually started feeling hot with tears.  Since starting this personal training program, I have had to slow my pace at times but I've never felt like giving up.  I've been determined to get into shape.  But this freakin' beast machine nearly brought me to the breaking point.  Thankfully, Misti must have seen it and helped me finish.  Even Shelly and some other strangers tried to encourage me through it.  Or maybe I was just imagining things.  Oh, I don't know and I don't care.  All I remember at that point was that I wanted to run out of there and hide because I don't like attention being drawn to me.  And all eyes in the gym were definitely on me.  But, I made my way over to the other machine and did a decent set there and then finished my push-ups.  I've never been so glad to be done with a session.  Today was a killer session for sure.  However, I am not giving up and I WILL conquer that dumb beast machine... one day. 
Shelly warned me that my arms may be plastered to my sides due to the exercises we did.  My arms did feel like jello as a I drove home but I couldn't dwell on that as I had too much work to do at home.
I made it home and immediately got to work helping Jackie clean her room.  I also dismantled Ben's toddler bed and set up his big bed.  I got some other housework done before taking a break to make some phone calls.  Then it was Zumba time later in the afternoon.

Blogger Messed Up

Dang Blogger.  I changed one thing on the format and now the entire thing is messed up.  Please be patient until I make it nice again.

Want to Know Something Funny?

Here: http://www.upi.com/Odd_News/2010/07/18/Food-bank-mistakenly-gives-out-dog-food/UPI-68411279478355/

Now that is funny!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Ben's Progress

During this last week since Ben's evaluation with the Developmental Pediatrician, Ben has shown a good deal of progress with his speech. He has been starting to voice more consonants when isolated. But he is still missing a lot of his consonants in actual words. His words still tend to be vocalic.
On Monday, I took the kids to a babysitter so I could attend to an appointment. When I picked up the kids, the babysitter told me that Ben was saying duck during the game "duck, duck, goose". Of course, he omitted the final consonant but I was very pleased to hear that Ben was using this word again after not being able to solicit that word for the past couple of weeks. Ben has also been watching our lips even more and trying to imitate the movements. He is still using more sign than words but we are seeing progress on the verbal front. Ben has known quite a number of signs for some time and this past week he has picked up some more and is starting to more consistently use the existing ones.
Tim came home from out of town this past Monday and during that evening, he spent time tossing the frisbee for Dugan, our dog. Tim was able to witness Ben saying Dugan's name. It comes out as "doo" but we knew he meant Dugan due to the context of the situation.
Ben is able to pronounce "momma" for me and "dada" for Tim. We have yet to get him to pronounce Jackie's name. Even when we use another nickname, Ben is still unable to refer to his sister verbally. Instead, he either points toward her or he will go up to Jackie and tap her. Earlier this evening, Jackie and I were playing a game with Ben to try to solicit more sounds. Again, if a sound was too hard for him to form, he would just sign it or point to the object or person. When we asked him to say "mimi" (grandma's name), he immediately put his hand up to his ear and signed phone. We got a kick out of that. Ben is so smart. Even though he rarely sees his grandparents and his current age doesn't really know them (or so, I though), he affiliated his mimi with being on the phone.
Speaking of phones, I think Ben is a genius at electronics. He never ceases to amaze me with how he seems to know how to operate phones, TVs, etc. I try to keep my cell phone out of Ben's reach but I sometimes forget about it. Ben knows he is not allowed to play with the cell phone and every-time I catch him with my phone, he immediately puts it down and tries to walk away quickly like he's innocent. Ben has figured out how to bring up the dial pad to try to dial a number. I know he doesn't know anybody's number but I'm pretty sure he has called several strangers. I know for a fact that he has called a couple of people who are in the phone book on my phone. So I will apologize in advance if you ever happen to be one of his victims. If you hear heavy breathing on the other line, rest assured that it isn't me; it's probably Ben. Ben also seems to know exactly which buttons turn on any TV. It doesn't matter if we're in a hotel or in somebody's house, or even a store, Ben just seems to know right off which buttons will turn the TV on and which ones control the volume. He blows me away. Ben is also good at problem solving and has been able to figure out problems for as long as I can remember, way before he was a year old.
I am encouraged at the progress that Ben has made just in this past week although he is still sounding hypernasal. That was a concern about that during last week's evaluation. I hope to see even more progress during this next week.

Bathroom Issues?

Okay, so yesterday, Jackie happened to be using the bathroom when I went in there to put towels away. I noticed that she was holding her nose and I asked her what the problem was. Jackie apparently has a problem with her own smells while using the potty. I just shrugged and walked out. I should say that at least she doesn't make me run for the hills like another unnamed person in this household.
This afternoon, Jackie came up to me and said that she needs to go potty. Gee, kid, you're 5 1/2 years old, don't tell me that you need to go potty. Just go! Well, it seems that Jackie was worried about the dead fly in the toilet. The dead fly that I killed earlier and just threw into the toilet. The dead fly that I did not flush down the toilet, yet, because it was just a dead fly and I didn't want to waste a flush of water on the stupid, dead fly.
I have weird kids. Or maybe I'm the weird one.

Coach Samantha

Yep, I'm a soccer coach now. A couple of weeks ago, I signed Jackie up for Upward Soccer. On one of the forms, there was a short questionnaire. One of the questions asked if parent would be willing to help out with coaching responsibilities. I don't know what I was thinking. Maybe I was just trying to be nice. I answered "yes" thinking that the chances were slim that I would be needed. I was very confident that I would not receive a call for help and I was absolutely fine with that.
Well, on the way to my personal training session today, I got a call from the person in charge asking if I would be willing to coach my daughter's team. Oh boy! Dang, why did I answer the phone? And how could I turn him down? They were in need. So of course, I said yes but explained that I have not played soccer in years and that I would rather be an assistant. "No problem" he said and explained that another dad had offered to help coach. So now I am an assistant coach. Yep, Coach Samantha. How cool is that? Not! I'm going to try to be excited about it, though.
So, after my training session, I went over to the church where the practices and games will be held and I picked up my coach's manual with DVD with the promise that I would also receive a Powerpoint via email. Oh, joy!
I also will have to call the parents to introduce myself and coordinate snack and drink schedule. I don't have a problem with scheduling as I like to do organizational stuff like that. But, I have to call strangers on the phone. I get really nervous when I have to talk to new people.
Coach Samantha, heheheh. That just sounds funny. I never envisioned myself to be a coach of any kind. I can see all my friends laughing at me now. Go ahead because I'm laughing, too.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Keep the Compliments Coming

Wow, the compliments I've been receiving are making my head swell. Actually, not really but they are making me feel better that I am really making a difference by staying in a regular exercise routine.
A couple of days ago as I was working on the front yard, a neighbor couple was walking their dog when they stopped to chat and let Ben pet the dog. The wife commented on my hair and then said that I was looking good. I shared with her how I have been going to Zumba for the past several months and have even taken up jogging/running. I don't really even know the neighbor but she noticed the change. I even made a joking comment that my husband has yet to say anything about my getting into shape.
Then yesterday at Zumba, one of the other attenders complimented me on my good moves. And she was serious. Of course, then I became very self-conscious and started to miss many of the moves during some of the routines.
Yesterday evening, Tim got back home from being out of town. He immediately got to work mowing our embarrassing lawn. After the kids were fed, bathed, and bedded down later, Tim made a comment about my tight butt. Whoa! He actually noticed? I don't know if he was trying to make moves on me but I'll take it. Especially since it was unprompted. The compliment that is.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Saturday Garage Sale, Ugly Yard Contest, and Jackie Funny

This morning, my subdivision held a subdivision-wide garage sale. Whoever coordinated it this year sent out notices just last week. I was undecided if I was really going to participate even though I have a lot of stuff to get rid off. So last night, I got everything that I wanted to get rid of out of the basement and set up a couple of tables in the garage. After waking up this morning and getting the kids breakfast and then dressed, I opened up the garage door and people immediately started to stream in. One of the people brought me a toy that I had marked for $10 and asked if she could have it for $2.00. Now this was no ordinary toy. This was a sensory type of toy and a very expensive one. This particular item normally retails for between $60 and $80. No way was I going to let it go for $2.00. Especially since it was in excellent condition and clean. I mentioned this to this person and I also mentioned that I would rather sell it on consignment than let it go for $2.00. Then suddenly I was bombarded with more people. Apparently this previously mentioned lady took advantage of the situation and figured that I would not notice if she were to steal the toy. She stole the toy and I noticed it all right. Unfortunately, it was too late to catch up with the thief. It is a real shame when people have to stoop so low as to steal from a garage sale. A garage sale! Where you can get things for much, much less than a store in most cases! She doesn't have a conscious. That was evident since I had mentioned that my daughter needs hearing aids and the money I made today was going to help with that expense since our health plan does not cover hearing aids. We're looking at $2000-$4000. I just hope now that it ends up getting stolen from that thief.
It was so blazing hot by 10:00 that I closed up the garage before 11:00. I didn't do too bad for doing the sale for just about 2 1/2 hours. I made right around $100. I could have made more if it wasn't for the thief. I did get rid of a bunch of stuff and lots of offers from people to buy Tim's dirt bikes and motorcycle. And I was left with the gift of a Watchtower magazine by a Jehovah Witness. Thanks, but no thanks.
After I closed up the garage and ran a couple of errands, I came back home and started on cleaning the house and working in the basement. I wanted to do some work on the yard, too, but it was just too hot to do anything outside. I kept busy working inside.
After I got dinner done for the kids, I decided that I must do some work on the yard. It is starting to look really bad. It has not been mowed since we came home from vacation over 2 weeks ago. Tim has been gone on business all week and since taking the boat out before he left was much important than maintaining the lawn last weekend, the yard is looking quite bad. Embarrassingly bad. In fact, we're in the running for the ugliest yard of the community contest. It's so bad that the weeds, crabgrass, and other crap is growing right through and around the toys that I had stored under the deck before we left for our vacation over a month ago. We even have baby trees growing under our deck. After the kids finished eating dinner, I went out to the back yard to start trying to trim. Like I said, it's bad. So bad that the crabgrass has completely grown over the brick landing at the bottom of the deck stairs. I grabbed the clippers and started by trimming the tree branches that are growing over our deck. I tried to pull the crabgrass covering the brick landing. I cut the 3 ft tall grass and weeds under the deck. I hate bugs. And crickets. And both were quite bountiful. After about a half hour, I gave up and went inside. Tim is either going to have to prioritize better or he needs to let me hire somebody to maintain our lawn during the summer months. It is embarrassing to have the ugliest yard in the neighborhood. By the time I got inside, I was drenched in sweat, in fact, the sweat was even dripping right onto my eyeglasses. I rarely get that sweaty.
While I was outside trying to work on the yard, Jackie and Ben played on the trampoline. After a short time, Jackie stopped and asked since we were outside if she could just pee outside in the grass. What the &$%#? Now she has had to void outside just once when we in the middle of nowhere in Indiana and we pulled off the interstate because Jackie just could not hold it any longer. There were no bathrooms in sight for miles. It was not a fun experience. So I don't know why Jackie suddenly decided that it was okay for her to pee outside. Then I remembered. A couple of weeks ago, the kids were playing in the backyard while Tim and I put the trampoline together. I guess Ben had to go to the bathroom so Tim took Ben over to the tree and told him to go pee. I just giggled at the time. Well, it wasn't too funny when a couple of days later, Ben used my living room table as a tree trunk. Needless to say, I was not very happy with Tim's pee-on-a-tree lesson that he gave to Ben. Back to Jackie tonight, the answer was no. She tried to explain to me that she should be able to pee outside because it was outside and it would be good to pee on the grass and that the rain will wash it away. Answer was still no. It was kind of funny, though, how Jackie tried to justify why she should be allowed to pee outside.
After I got the kids bathed, I took care of a couple more tasks before getting a shower. While I was finishing up cleaning the kitchen, I felt something crawling up my side. Since I don't like bugs of any kind, I immediately grabbed my shirt and pulled it off. It was a lady bug. You may say harmless but I still say eww. I hate bugs of any kind including "harmless" lady bugs. I dropped everything for the moment and quickly got into the shower.
Boy, was I looking forward to my quiet time tonight after the kids went to bed. Mother Nature saw otherwise. A half hour after Ben went to bed, a major noisy storm came through with lightening so of course, Ben starts to cry and wants out of his room. Ughhh! There goes my much needed alone time tonight. I just continued to clean some more. After I brought my laundry from downstairs, I noticed Jackie had fallen asleep on the sofa. With her toothbrush in her hand as if she had fallen asleep mid-teethbrushing. With toothpaste still around her mouth. Poor thing. So, I walked her to bed. Then it was Ben's turn to get back into bed.
Today was a little trying with the kids' fighting and screaming. I am looking forward to Tim's return on Monday so I can go on vacation. By myself. Before Tim leaves for yet another 2-week trip. Oh, did I yet say that I'm looking forward to Jackie's first day of school?
I really do love my kids. Really, I do.

Friday, July 23, 2010

A Diagnosis for Ben

This is going to be a long and difficult post. First, I want to reassure that Ben is a very smart little boy and his diagnosis is not relevant to his intelligence level. Ben's cognitive abilities are intact and in fact, they are somewhat advanced. Okay. And forgive me if this post ends up rambling.
I knew from the moment I first held Ben after he was born, he was going to be an exceptionally smart kid. He was so alert and he immediately nursed like a champ. As the weeks passed, Ben continued to be very aware of his surroundings. He also sat up early, crawled early, stood early, etc. He was very motoric from the very beginning. Ben also said his first couple of words around age 8-9 months and they were intentional, not just cooing. He was able to say and wave "bye" and he referred to me as "mama". But by Ben's first birthday, Ben was no longer saying words, or least what we could understand. So many people told me to not worry about that because he was so motoric early on, he was probably taking his time with the verbal development. At around 18 months, Ben was finally evaluated by the Early Intervention and he qualified for speech therapy without any problem. The evaluation indicated that Ben's receptive skills were high but his expressive skills were lacking. I knew Ben had no problem with receptive as he understood everything we said to him. He would follow 2-3 simple commands with no problem.
Ben has been receiving speech therapy for nearly a year. Occupational therapy started a few months due to the possibility of Ben also having some sensory processing issues. Ben's very high activity level pointed to that possibility.
After six months of speech therapy with very little progress with verbal output, the sessions were increased to twice per week. Even with the added sessions, Ben has still shown little improvement with his verbal skills and is still unintelligible. As Ben's mother, I can pretty much understand what Ben is telling me depending on the context. Ben does talk and he tries to form words but the words are unintelligible. Consonants are a real problem for Ben and he also uses a lot of glottal stops. Sometimes, Ben will say a word very clearly but then we won't hear that word again. With this, we knew Ben could talk but there was something preventing the connections between his brain and his oral-motor structures from relaying messages appropriately. In other words, it is a motor-planning problem. This has caused an enormous amount of frustration within the entire family. And Ben shows his frustration through pinching. He used to bite and at times would even break the skin when he bit his sister. I don't know which is worse, the pinching or the biting, as they both hurt. Thankfully, though, Jackie and I were Ben's only victims. I would have been even more mortified if Ben had attacked other kids or nursery workers.
After showing so little progress with his speech development, Ben was finally referred to a Developmental pediatrician. There is a long waiting list for an appointment but we finally got our appointment for this past Wednesday.
Ben and I arrived to his appointment this past Wednesday and I was immediately impressed with the way the staff put me at ease and seemed eager to help me find an answer to Ben's problems. The doctor, the speech pathologist, and a resident doctor gathered in the room with Ben and me. After a few preliminary questions, the speech pathologist started working with Ben while the doctor asked me lots of in depth questions. I was able to watch a little bit of the interaction between Ben and the therapist and I must say that I was VERY impressed with this therapist. She was able to solicit words and sounds from Ben that I and his other therapists have yet to obtain from him. I was blown away. But that doesn't mean that Ben will now just start spitting out the words. It only shows that the ability to form those sounds is there. It was also observed that if Ben found a sound to be too difficult, then Ben would turn his head, stick his lower lip out, and cross his arms. He would also shake his head at times.
Once the doctor finished all of her questions and the therapist finished her evaluation, the doctor went over some of the preliminary findings and explained that I and Ben's doctors will be getting a detailed report in a couple of weeks. The doctor was able to give me a couple of answers as to the cause of Ben's expressive delay.
Now with a diagnosis of Verbal Apraxia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apraxia), I have at least one answer for Ben's problems. Apraxia has nothing to do with a child's intelligence level. It is an oral-motor planning issue and even though there is a disconnection between that and the brain, it has nothing to do with being developmental delayed/disabled. So many people, including certain people in my family, have a tendency to link speech problems with being low intelligence. It's sad but true and I am here to set the record straight. It's just like my daughter who has cerebral palsy. There is an area in her brain that has been damaged due to injury but that does not mean that she has been cognitively affected. It's quite the contrary. Both of my kids are very smart and have been quick to learn new things. They just have special needs that require special services. My children are indeed special.
Now that we have an initial diagnosis, the next step is for Ben to undergo genetic testing for a specific chromosomal disorder. If Ben does test positive for this syndrome, DiGeorge syndrome (velo-cardio-facial syndrome), then he would have a partial deletion. I don't think Ben has this syndrome as he does not quite fit the criteria but there are a few concerns based on the genetic background of a few relatives on both sides of our families. And since I have no clue about my paternal heritage whatsoever (due to Mother refusing to divulge any of that information), there could be something that I may have inherited from that side that I am not aware of which I then passed down to my own kids. If Ben does test positive for the syndrome, then Tim and I will have to undergo the genetic/chromosome testing. A couple of the signs for the syndrome are apparent in my direct family although it may not necessarily be due to any particular syndrome. Those concerns are hearing loss (me and Jackie) and I've had a few doctors who suspected that I may have a submucous cleft palate. I do have a fistula on my palate, too. And Jackie has a sacral pit which is considered a cleft. As an infant, I had a heart murmur. Heart defects are inherent with the syndrome. So, now we're just waiting on Tricare approval for the initial testing on Ben. But, I really do not believe that Ben has the syndrome. Time will tell.
Needless to say, these past couple of days have been filled with searching the internet and asking myself what I did wrong to cause my child's problems. Did I feed Ben enough? Did I not work with him enough? Did the pneumonia he had at 8/9 months cause this? Did the x-ray cause this? I know these are stupid questions and the doctor reassured me that it was not my fault, but still as a mom, I can't help but wonder what went wrong and where or when? Even though my undergrad and some grad work was in the area of speech disorders, as Ben's mom, I still can't help but wonder if it was something that I did to cause Ben's problems.
I try to ignore those who say that Ben just isn't ready to talk or that he's just lazy or taking his time. Or that he's just fooling us. Or that I'll regret the day when he does start to talk because then I won't be able to shut him up. I am anxious to be able to understand what Ben is saying almost 100% of the time. Right now, that is a huge source of frustration. I know Ben is talking and he knows what he is saying but he is so unintelligible.
As a former student in the field of speech disorders, I am very much aware that with the diagnosis of Apraxia, we have a long and frustrating road ahead of us. Ben is so smart and because he is so smart, he gets extremely frustrated with us when we can't understand him. He does use some sign language and we are looking into an assistive communication device. I just hope that people will see Ben as he is: a very smart, lively, adventurous, loving little boy.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

How Much More Can This Family Suffer?

Over a month ago, I wrote about the tragic shooting deaths of 2 cops back home in Tampa. One of the officers had 4 young sons and the other office was expecting his first child any day. The latest news is that this baby was stillborn this morning. Even though I don't personally know these families, my heart is very heavy. It turns out that Jeffrey Kocab and his wife, Sara, knew that there was a strong possibility that their precious baby may not survive birth due to a major abnormality. Sara's husband lost his life in a senseless killing and now she has lost her child due to a deadly diagnosis. What kind of god allows this to happen? Sara is left husband-less and now childless. If God truly is real, how could he allow this double tragedy? I often hear that God knows everything that is ever going to happen before it even happens. If that is the case, then why could he not spare this grieving widow at least one member of her own family? If God knew that Sara's husband was going to be killed one day, then why did he allow the baby to be formed with a major birth defect that would take her life? Or vice versa? Why? I just don't understand this so-called god these days.
Before I became a mother to my own children, I always thought stories about children dying were really sad and I felt bad for the parents. But now that I am a mom, these stories really affect me deeply. I just cannot imagine the pain of losing a child. Or a spouse. I feel pain sometimes for what my daughter goes through but I am so grateful that she is relatively healthy and she's thriving. I just cannot imagine my children being taken from me in any way. I'm so thankful that my precious daughter survived the chorionic hemorrhage after being told that I had a 50% chance of losing her during the pregnancy. I had already lost her twin due to the hemorrhage. This latest story just really makes my heart feel heavy but yet, it reminds me that I should never take my children for granted. They are both the best gifts that I have ever received in life.
Link: http://www.tampabay.com/news/humaninterest/article1110253.ece

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Pets, Let's Take Care of Them

This morning as I drove through St. Louis to take my friend to the airport, we witnessed a very disturbing scene. We noticed 2 cop cars, with lights flashing, on the side of the interstate and as we approached closer, Lisa and I both glanced over and noticed that instead of a car being pulled over, there was a dog who was frantically pawing at his canine partner, who had apparently been hit and killed by a car. The deceased dog was lying by the side of the highway. It was quite obvious that the live dog was desperate for his partner to get up. Very traumatic. Both Lisa and I were very disturbed and upset about this.
Most of my friends know that I am a huge fan of dogs. And animals, in general. My friends also know that I am also an advocate for kids, special needs, and seniors. I especially have a heart for kids with special needs and our senior folks. I just wanted to make that clear so people won't assume that I am putting animal rights ahead of human rights.
Our pets count on us humans to take proper care of them, to provide for their needs, to provide a safe environment. It really pains me when I see people driving on a highway with a loose dog in the bed of their truck. Does the driver not realize the danger in that? Or do they not care? It also pains me when people let their pets run loose and expect that pet to not wander off. Dogs are curious creatures, just as are kids, and most of them have a propensity to explore, especially those dogs who mostly operate with their noses (Beagles are notorious!). People never cease to amaze me when it comes to animals. It's as if pets are just chattel, and disposable if it doesn't fit whatever mode. That really pains me. Pets to me, are NOT chattel; they are part of the family.
It really irritates me when people buy these cute little furballs just because they are just so cute and cuddly. People need to realize that these cute little furballs will grow up, they will chew, they will have accidents in the house until trained properly, they will get into stuff, they will plain irritate just like other family members. Pets are NOT disposable. I could go on but I'll just get off my soapbox now before I go further.
My wish is that people would at least provide a safe environment for their pets and if they no longer want said pets, then the owners should take the pet to a shelter where the poor animal will not meet their demise on the highway after being hit by vehicles. This morning's scene was just so traumatic and I can't get it out of my mind.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

VBS Wrap-up

This past week, Jackie enjoyed going to Vacation Bible School at a local church. The theme this year was Saddle Ridge Ranch. This morning, they wrapped up the week with a short program. I am so proud of my Jackie for working hard to learn the hand movements and the words to her class song. As most of you may know, keeping up with hand motions is not an easy task for Jackie due to her CP that affects her left hand. But Jackie did a great job this morning.
video

Saturday, July 17, 2010

So Thankful

This morning, I took Jackie to sign up for soccer. She is so excited and so am I. This is one activity that has been highly recommended to help increase coordination and strength on her left side. Practice starts in a couple of weeks and her first game is in mid-August.
After signing Jackie up for soccer, we came home for lunch after which I gathered swimsuits, towels, sunscreen, and life jackets. We took off to meet Tim at Carlyle Lake to go out on the boat for awhile. There is a nice little beach area and a very nice park adjacent to the boat launch. Tim took us out for a ride in the boat but Jackie was not too thrilled with how bumpy the ride was. So after about 30-45 minutes, Tim took us back to the beach area so the kids could play in the water. I kept the life jackets on the kids and I am so thankful that I did so.
At first, Ben was hesitant to go beyond where his feet could touch bottom, even with me holding him. The beach was very crowded and Ben could see the bigger kids going further out then he was. So, he started to get braver about going further into the water but I kept my hands on him while he tried to swim. At one point, Tim and Jackie both had me distracted at the same time with Tim trying to tell me something and Jackie yelling for me from the shore. As they say, it only takes a second to lose track of a child, especially around water. And I found that to be true today. After being distracted by Tim and Jackie, Tim asked where Ben was and then said, "there he is" just as I turned around to see Ben bobbing in the water. Around lots of other people who didn't even notice Ben bobbing around in the water in his life vest. Tim plucked Ben, who had swallowed some of the lake water, out of the water and I quickly made sure that Ben was okay. Whew! Thank goodness I had the life vest on Ben. I don't even want to think about the "what if". But it just shows how easy it is to get distracted when you have 3 needy persons in your life who seem to need you at the same exact moment.
Right after that happened, Tim decided that he wanted to head back to the launch area and load the boat back onto the trailer. He asked if I was going to stay at the beach area awhile longer to which I replied with a resounding "no". With Ben's high activity level and Jackie's constant neediness, there was just no way I was going to stay at the beach alone with two kids when the beach was so crowded as it was. It is much easier for me to keep track of my kids in much smaller crowds.
Talking about distraction reminded me of another incident today that makes me thankful for our safety. After the kids and I arrived at the lake, Tim met us with the boat at the beach area. I got the kids on the boat, got their life vests on, and then settled Jackie with her daddy and Ben in the seat with me. Tim had started the boat and while he left the motor idling in the no wake zone, Tim got distracted with trying to get Jackie seated in a better position where Jackie could "help" her daddy operate the boat. Well, while Tim is doing that, the boat starts to head toward another boat coming toward the shore. A boat that was towing a huge raft with a person on it. We were headed straight for them and were just a few feet away. I told Tim to please look up because we were ready to hit somebody. No response. Tim was distracted with Jackie. So, I yelled a little louder for Tim to steer the boat the other direction because we're getting ready to hit another boat. Then Tim yelled at me to not yell so loudly at him. Because he doesn't want to cause panic to other boaters. What?!! Okay, next time I guess I'm to just stay quiet and allow us to hit another boat. Then what? Plus, did he not notice that the people in the other boat noticed our close presence? I kept thinking about the "what if" with that situation, too.
Regardless of Tim's opinion of my so-called "yelling" at him, this is one that I am taking no blame for. Somebody in this household has to make sure to work at keeping us all alive. And guess who that may be? It's not he, though you might have already gathered that from reading previous posts. Ha!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Today's Good News

1. My kids didn't drive me insane today. Even though there were a couple of screaming matches between the kids, I managed to keep my cool.

2. My car was not messed with when I checked on it this morning. (Read previous post)

3. The best news of all... my best friend's husband is okay. Even though he was told to expect the worst, there is NO CANCER! Yes! I am absolutely thrilled for Lisa and her family. Her husband, however, will be undergoing a treatment for a time to clear up whatever it was. I'm not sure if they even know what is causing such an ominous-looking area. This whole ordeal was surely a wake-up call for some of us who take our health for granted.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Weird Thing Happened This Morning

Okay, now I don't believe in ghosts but this latest situation has me questioning that belief, or disbelief. Last night, I picked up Jackie from VBS and after arriving home, I pulled the car into the garage and Jackie and I went inside. I never lock my car while it is in the garage since the garage is locked up everynight. I know, without a doubt, that when I came into the house last night, the car windows were rolled up, the car was unlocked, and the windows were unlocked. Another reason I know without a doubt is because as soon as I got out of the car, I had to rush inside to the bathroom before I wet my pants. Jackie was not quite out of the car at the time. I also had the car key with me.
So this morning, Ben had his occupational and speech therapies. As soon as the therapists left the house, we had to leave for Jackie's occupational therapy appointment in St. Louis. I gathered the kids, secured the dogs, and we headed out into the garage. As I went to put my stuff in the passenger side seat, I noticed that window was about a third of the way down. How odd, I thought. And the doors were locked. All of them. So, I unlocked the doors, put my stuff in the front passenger seat, then proceeded to open the back door to put Ben into his seat. Then I noticed that window was a third of the way down. Hmm. I looked across the car and noticed that the other two windows were a third of the way down, too. Now that raised a bit of concern but we had to get going so we wouldn't end up being late to Jackie's appointment. Jackie got into her seat. After I backed out of the garage, I went to roll the windows up and realized immediately that they were not moving. That's when I noticed that the security button for the windows was engaged to lock position. Now, I know that I did NOT roll any windows down, nor did I engage the window lock. I also did not lock up the car. It's even more weird that the windows were partway down with the doors locked but one could easily reach in and unlock. I thought that maybe somebody tried to steal my car but that was not possible. The garage was locked up last night, and the car keys were in the house. The keys are required to deliver power to the windows and locks.
With all of this in mind, it un-nerved me a little and I called Tim. I figured maybe Tim thought it would be nice to have the windows down a little to keep the car from getting too hot. But why would he lock it, too? It doesn't matter because Tim denied it and I really do believe him. He didn't have time to do all of that this morning, anyway. So, then I thought that maybe the neighbor was playing a cruel trick on me. After all, they know our garage code in case of emergency. But nope, nada. The wife was gone very early this morning for work and the husband was home with the kids. Plus, they don't have a copy of the car key.
So something weird was going on this morning and it has me just a little bit nervous. Okay, maybe not a little. A LOT!
Whatever it is, it has me a bit concerned.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

This is What Happens When the Master Bathroom is Left Unlocked

Here is proof of what can happen when the master bathroom door is left unlocked:
The first 2 pictures show where I was chasing Ben down and he kept running from me when I caught up. He thought it was funny. I on the other hand... well... I did laugh. But I'm not cleaning it up. That job will be reserved for another person when s/he gets back home. Hahaha!

Monday, July 12, 2010

RIP Norman

Norman was a spectacular little dog. He was a Jack Russell terrier and what a cutie he was. I just met Norman last week in Blythe at Uncle Ron's and Aunt Glen's farm. Norman was given up by a previous owner after that owner's husband died. Norman was actually taken to a local vet there for euthanasia or adoption to another family, perhaps because this previous owner didn't want any memories of her deceased husband for whatever reason. Norman was subsequently adopted by Ron and Glen just about a month ago.
Norman quickly won over Uncle Ron's heart and made himself at home right away. He was full of character. I was able to witness Norman after he hunted down a gopher. He was so proud of that prize. Norman kept circling around that gopher and occasionally he would pick it up, perhaps to check how dead it was. Norman followed Uncle Ron everywhere. He really seemed to enjoy living it up on the farm. He also loved to roll in mud and required baths often before he was allowed back inside the house. Inside the house, Norman had the best manners. My dogs could have used a few lessons from Norman about appropriate indoor behavior.
Norman was also very entertaining. He barked at his own shadows. And every time Norman barked at his shadow, the shadow moved and Norman would move in that direction and bark again. It was hysterical to watch.
Norman was also good with the kids. I'm not sure if he was raised around kids but I got the impression that he was not. Even so, Norman was awesome with Jackie and Ben.
Norman was also a very smart dog. Within a couple of days of being adopted (at age 8 1/2) by Ron and Glen, Norman learned his boundaries in the house. And he stayed within those boundaries. Now that is impressive.
I am so glad that I snapped a picture of Norman on the morning of our family's departure from Blythe. I don't know if Uncle Ron was able to get any pictures during the short time that Norman was at the farm. Everything that I described above made me fall in love with Norman. I thought Norman was such a lucky dog to have won the hearts of Uncle Ron and Aunt Glen and thus to live a good life on the farm.
Unfortunately, as fate would have it, Norman perished from a tragic farm accident. I was devastated to hear the news from a younger cousin who was there to witness it. I shed many tears tonight for this wonderful little dog, Norman. He will always be remembered by me.
Norman, even though it was just a few days ago, I am so glad that I had the privilege to meet you. Rest in peace now.

The Little Exhibitionist

This morning, around 10:30, my doorbell rang. At the time, I was in the process of getting some play clothes on Ben. Since Jackie spent the night with her friend next door, I figured that it was just Jackie and the neighbor. So I told Ben to go in his room and wait for me while I let Jackie in. Once I opened the door, I realized immediately that it was not Jackie. It was 2 neighborhood girls looking to play with Jackie. I stepped outside to let these girls know that Jackie was next door and that they could come back another time and perhaps even play on the trampoline. I noticed that they didn't really look at me and they were sort of scrunching their noses but I really didn't give it any thought. Until...
When I turned to go inside and close the door, I saw Ben standing... in front of the glass door... butt naked. Oh my! I wonder what those little girls are going to tell their mommies. I know for a fact that one of them has 2 sisters, no brothers and who knows what she has seen in regard to male anatomy. All I could do was just laugh hysterically. Boys!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Vacation is Over! Some Closing Thoughts

Wow, that was some vacation. Well, if you don't count the Amtrak experience. After we left Flagstaff, AZ on Thursday morning, we headed toward home. It was so neat to see so much unspoiled, beautiful country. If we look on the bright side of the Amtrak experience, seeing so much beauty in the Grand Canyon and across the countryside as we drove home is something that we would have missed out on. Sure, we would have seen some beautiful country from the train but we would not have had the option to stop and explore.
On Thursday afternoon after we got into Albuquerque, Tim decided that he wanted to stop and eat at Rudy's, a unique BBQ restaurant that he had eaten at when he was deployed at Kirtland AFB a few years ago. After we enjoyed Rudy's, Tim took us over to the Old Town shopping area. That was a neat place with lots of shops selling Indian art, jewelry, crafts, etc. It seemed to be never-ending. I bought a couple of books and I got the each of the kids a little doll.
After getting back on the road, we drove until we reached Amarillo where we reserved a room for the night.
The next day was our final push toward home. It was a long drive but I think we did good timing considering that we slept through our alarms. We got on the road about an hour and a half past our planned departure time. We finally pulled into our driveway just a few minutes after 9PM.
Looking back over our trip, I have to say that this is THE best vacation that I have taken with the kids. Jackie is at the age now that she will have memories of going to the California, seeing the seals, visiting the Grand Canyon, etc.
Coronado was absolutely beautiful and I can understand why people flock there. Unfortunately, the sun did not shine bright most of our time there because we happened to be there during their June Gloom which went into July. It never got hot and the evenings and mornings were cool. Thankfully, I had packed lightweight Jackets for all of us. The weather was perfect for doing stuff like going out on the boat, visiting the zoo, watching the seals, visiting the tide pools, riding around Coronado, playing in the sand at the beach. It was all-around fun and enjoyable. I did NOT want to leave. If only we could afford the real estate.
I was pleasantly surprised that it didn't feel hot as we drove through Arizona and New Mexico. In fact, it was perfect temperature at the Grand Canyon and in Flagstaff. New Mexico was hot but it was very tolerable, at least for me. We were able to shop at Old Town in Albuquerque without feeling uncomfortable from the heat. Even Jackie didn't complain too much and she can't stand the heat.
The most difficult day was our last day on the road. Jackie's behavior was boorish and the kids kept fighting over toys and the DVD player. It was quite stressful and even though I was sad about the end of vacation, I was very happy when we finally pulled into our driveway because I was fed up with the kids by that point. Lucy and Dugan were very happy to see us, too.
Unfortunately, with the end of vacation, I received two pieces of bad news. My 37 year old cousin is in the hospital with liver and/or kidney failure. I don't know all the details, yet, and I'm anxious to find out more. She's so young. The other news has to do with a very close friend whose husband is just now being diagnosed with a potential terminal illness. I can't divulge too much on that one, yet, but I am very concerned for my friend and for her husband. He was widowed by his first wife and left with 3 children and now he is facing a very serious situation again. My friend and her family are going to need lots of support if this situation does turn out to be a grim one and I plan on being there for her every step of the way. Please pray for them.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Grand Canyon




Wow, what a sight. We finally arrived at the south rim of the Grand Canyon late in the afternoon. The views are breathtaking. We stopped at several of the observation areas to get pictures. Of course, in Tim-fashion, Ben got a too-close look of the canyon. At one of the observation areas, the walkway and the canyon were separated by large stones instead of a fence or metal rail. Tim and Ben got ahead of me and Jackie while I took some pictures. When I finally caught up with Tim, he had Ben with him beyond the large bricks of which there are warning signs along the trail to stay within the boundaries on the trail. My heart stopped again for a moment and I calmly (I think) and slowly told Tim to hand Ben to me. I really would like to see my boy grow up. Why do my boys (Tim included) like danger? Do they not realize that they are exacerbating to my neurotic tendencies? So, I got Ben and and with Jackie, we walked a little further down the trail where they were content to jump from one large rock to the next one. On the other side of the trail. Ben, however, spotted his dad again at one point and started running full speed toward him. All I could see at that moment was my baby boy running over the edge and hurtling down the cliff. I ran and caught Ben and my camera, which was around my neck, swung wildly and then it hit Ben in the head. Ugghhh! But after a short protest, Ben was fine. Tim, on the other hand, was still causing my heart to tremble after seeing his perch from where he was observing the canyon. All I could think about at that moment was widowhood. But I'm happy to announce that Tim did make back up alive and well. Whew! Why do these boys do this stuff to me?After we left the canyon, we drove back to Flagstaff where we reserved a room for the night. The kids held up well during the drive all day and I hope they will do the same tomorrow when we head out closer to home. Did I already say that I want this vacation to last forever?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Heading to Blythe

Today is the day we headed to Blythe. Tim took the little rental car back to Budget and picked up our rental for the cross country drive, no thanks to Amtrak. But, here we are in Blythe for the night before we head for home tomorrow.The drive to Blythe from Coronado was very interesting. I didn't realize how close to the border that Uncle Ron's farm is to Arizona. Just three miles. We went from a June Gloom environment in Coronado to hot, hot, hot Blythe in just 3 1/2 hours. But as hot as it was (over 100 degrees) when we arrived, it was quite bearable, perhaps because the humidity was so low. The kids and I got to meet Uncle Ron's new baby horse. He was so cute and came right up to me for me to pet him. Jackie and Ben were fine just observing the horses from a distance. Then we drove around the farm.Uncle Ron has a very cute Jack Russell terrier who he adopted just about a month ago. He is a rescue and is over 8 years old. His name is Norman. Funny, but cool, name for a dog. Well, Norman is quite the hunter. We had the opportunity to witness his hunting skills as Norman snagged a gopher out of it's hole. Norman was so proud of his prize catch. After circling it for awhile and occasionally picking it up, Uncle Ron decided it was finally dead enough to dispose of the carcass. Norman is cute, smart, and he is quite humorous. He barks at his shadow. It was funny because every time Norman moved, his shadow would move and Norman would back in that direction. It was a funny scene.After dinner, Tim, Clinton, and I went riding the the 4-wheelers. I drove the Polaris quad. We rode down to the Colorado river and rode around the banks and inland. It was very dusty and the boys literally left me in the dust. I would hang back often because the dust from the other 4-wheelers was so thick that I could barely see and it was getting into my eyes and mouth. Then when the dust would finally clear, I would try to catch up but Tim would race ahead of me again. I was getting a little annoyed by that but he later explained that he was trying to stay out of the dust because he didn't even have sunglasses on. I, at least, had my sunglasses on but they weren't much help. As much fun as I had, though, by the time we got back to the house, I was ready. And the dust, whew, it was thick. I'm sure Tim was proud. It took me twice as long in the shower to scrub all the dust off my skin and out of my hair.
Tomorrow we are heading to the Grand Canyon. Tim has never been. I was there in 1984 and I remember that it was a breathtaking sight.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Seals, Seals, Seals, I love Seals

Today was spent going to La Jolla to see the tide pools and watch seals. Wow, I've never seen tide pools. The beach and scenery around it is absolutely beautiful. The tide pools seem to be popular with the kids. The kids could be seen looking for crabs and other life in the tide pools after the tide filled the pools. What an amazing sight!We walked a couple blocks over to what used to be the Children's Pool but it has pretty much been taken over by seals. I was thrilled to see these creatures in the wild. I walked down to the beach area and saw a couple of seals playing in the water near the shore. It was almost as if they were daring the public to come in the water to join them. They kept popping the heads out of the water then then would dive back down and slap their tails on the water. I was in heaven watching them. Then over to the side, there were lots of seals just basking in what little sun was peeking out. Every now and then, one would pop their head up or roll over. It was quite smelly, though, and the reason became quite clear after witnessing some seals emitting some... umm... not so pleasant sounds. After I snapped a few pictures and a couple of video clips, I stood there for awhile just watching the seals. I was tempted to tell Tim to just leave me there for awhile and go do something with the kids.After watching the seals on the beach for awhile, we made our way over to the walkway to get somewhat of an aerial view of the seals. On one side of the walkway was the ocean and the beach was on the other side. Seals could be seen on both sides. I tried to get pictures of the seals that were out in the surf but they were just too quick and kept diving. The waves were incredible, too. The walkway was quite crowded and it was narrow making it difficult to walk without having to weave through people. Plus, I was concerned about the railing as it was obviously not childproof. Jackie stayed close to me and I told Tim to PLEASE hang onto Ben. Ben is famous for climbing into and up on things. I just so happened to turn from the surf and look toward the beach area when I noticed Ben standing on the edge of the wall. On the other side of the railing! Oh my heart stopped and I screamed for Ben. It was just automatic and of course, people immediately started looking toward me. Embarrassed, I went over and grabbed Ben and started to take him off the walkway. Of course, Tim says Ben was fine. No, he was not fine, Mister! It takes just one little bump from somebody and Ben would have been a meal for a seal. And the rhyme was not intentional, I'm serious. Ben does not have any concept of danger. He loves the thrill, I guess. Gah! Ben definitely keeps me on my toes.
Well, after my screaming and rescuing my son episode, I whisked the kids off of the walkway and waited for Tim. After Tim met up with us, I then took off back to the walkway sans kids with strict orders to Tim to keep the kids away from the cliffs near the beach. I was able to watch the seals a short while longer without the worry of my children becoming seal meals.
Even though the sun still was not out fully and it was still mildly gloomy, it was still a beautiful day.
Later in the evening, I took another bike ride around Coronado. I just absolutely LOVE riding around this island. This is one of the things that makes me want vacation to last forever. It is so awesome here.
video

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy July 4th

Happy July 4th!
Today was another nice day in Coronado. This is also the day that I was planning to run in my first 5k. Unfortunately, my knee is still quite swollen and painful. I've been taking Ibuprofen on a regular basis and it does help with the pain. But I can definitely feel the pain as soon as the drug starts to wear off.Tim and I decided to take the kids, including cousin Sydney, to the San Diego zoo for the afternoon. Tim went to the travel office on base to get our tickets. Our tickets included unlimited rides on the skyfari and the tour bus. The bus was useful as it gave my knee a break from having to walk around the entire park. Sydney and Jackie each got face paintings. Jackie was thrilled that her face painting matched her clothing that day. The kids LOVED the skyfari ride although it made me a little nervous being so high up in a little bucket suspended in the air.After we left the zoo, we stopped at the Inn & Out restaurant for a late lunch/early dinner. We don't have those restaurants here so I had no idea what to expect. I was very surprised at their simple menu. All hamburgers (3 varieties), french fries (made fresh), soft drinks, and shakes. I don't eat red meat so I just ordered french fries. Now those were some good fries.
After getting back to the house a little later, we enjoyed another light meal before walking to the Landing at Coronado to watch the fireworks display from the bay. The fireworks display was fantastic. Last year, we were in Florida for July 4th and we all parked in a lot across from the Brandon mall to watch their display. It was pitiful and lasted about 5 minutes, no kidding. Apparently, most areas around Tampa last year cut back drastically with the fireworks and lasted just a few minutes. But San Diego? Wow, awesome job and they didn't hold back, either.
Thank you, San Diego, for a beautiful show to celebrate our country's freedom.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Coronado Fun & Amtrak Business

Coronado held their July 4th parade today. Tim and I walked the kids a block to watch the parade. It was a long one but the kids really enjoyed watching. It was a such a beautiful day for a parade. People were out riding bikes, skateboarding, roller-blading, walking their dogs, everything. We even met an unusual parade spectator, a bearded dragon. One could tell that she was well-loved as her owner even brought her pink crate along in case the lizard got too tired or bored. People can be weird for sure. After the parade, we came back to Aunt Glen's house where we all enjoyed lunch outside. After awhile, Jackie went with her cousins Leslie and Sydney to the beach. She was ecstatic to wear her new swimsuit from her Mimi & Poppy.
While Jackie was at the beach with her cousins, Tim and I took Ben with us to take care of business with Amtrak. Tim dropped me off at the train station while he drove around with Ben and I went inside to get a refund for our return trip tickets. Thankfully, the man behind the counter was very helpful, in fact, he was the most helpful person so far whom I have dealt with at Amtrak. He explained that usually the roomettes are not refundable (nearly $400!) but that a voucher is issued. Oh, no, this was not going to work as we are done with Amtrak. But this very helpful employee asked me to explain everything from the beginning. After explaining Tim's terrible experience and then my horrific experience (including further injury to my knee), he explained that because he did not want to lose us as a customer, he was going to work around the system and provide a refund for not only our coach tickets, but for the roomette, too. Whew! I almost cried because this man was so kind and helpful and so apologetic. So, we got a refund minus 10% of our total ticket purchase. He also implored me to write a letter explaining EVERYTHING, including my injury, the lack of baggage help, and the horrific transfers (yes, plural) from trains to buses to trains and back to buses. He was pretty certain that we would be given a voucher that would cover more than half of what we originally paid for the entire trip. So, I will be busy writing letters when we finally get back home.
After taking care of that business, we did a little bit of browsing/shopping at the brand new PX at the San Diego Navy Base. Wow! It was so nice, including the commissary. The commissary seems like it's more than double the size of our commissary at Scott AFB. But, the people are just as crazy there as they are at Scott. They still block the aisles with their carts, push their carts in the wrong direction or right in the middle of the aisle, and are just plain rude. If there was not such a cost savings at the commissary, I would never go there. But alas, grocery shopping at our local grocery stores can cost us more than twice as much.
After arriving back at Aunt Glen's house, I got back onto the computer to finalize our car rental for our return to St. Louis. We considered flying back home but I need valium or something like it to get onto a plane. I do NOT fly well at all. Just ask Tim about my neurotic tendencies. We ultimately decided to just do the car rental so that we can see parts of the country that we were unable to see from Amtrak. We are also hoping to make a side trip to the Grand Canyon. I have been there but Tim has not. If you have been to the Grand Canyon, then you understand what a sight it is. It is something that I have yet to forget. Visiting the Grand Canyon is incredibly breathtaking. Now that we know that we will have more control over our trip back home, we are now breathing easier. It's really a shame that the Amtrak deal did not work out. That was something that we had discussed for a few years and really looked forward to.
Later in the evening after a very casual dinner, I took off on one of the bikes here to do some riding around the island. It was starting to get dusk but it was still a very nice ride. I met a couple more very friendly dogs and the owners were very friendly, too. One of the best things aside from the scenery that I just LOVE about Coronado is that it is so bike friendly and best of all, it is very pet friendly. I am in awe of the many well-behaved dogs that I have seen around here walking with their owners. Gee, Dugan needs to learn good manners from these good dogs here.

Friday, July 2, 2010

On the Boat in San Diego

Yesterday was a beautiful day for boating in San Diego. Tim's cousins, David and Clinton, arrived from Blythe and David brought his boat. This was an impromptu boat ride for us but we quickly gathered the necessary items and took off for the boat ramp. The kids were awesome. This was Ben's first real boat ride and he loved it. Jackie was excited to hold a fishing pole but she was not too pleased when she realized that the fish we were catching were not going back into the water. They were meant for the dinner table later. Haha. I think Jackie is over her trauma today because I have yet to hear anything this morning about the nice fish being eaten.It was so beautiful out in the bay. We witnessed one of the carriers from North Island going out to sea. It was so huge and awesome. We also saw lots of sailboats. Two pelicans kept following us every time we moved to a new location. Unfortunately for them, they never got the free handout they were hoping for. Haha. We spent 4 hours on the bay before we headed back to shore. It was so beautiful. All the more reason to live here in this paradise.On the running front, my knee is still hurting and is quite swollen. As much as I'm trying to rest it without walking too much, the pain continues. I had been taking Aleve but I think it started upsetting my stomach so yesterday, I switched to Ibuprofen. I'm afraid that my first 5k is out of the question tomorrow. I didn't think I would be this bummed about it but I am definitely quite disappointed. Even walking it is out of the question.