Thursday, July 31, 2008


I have reached my first plateau since surgery.  Can I tell you it bites big time?  I have been sitting at 257 all week and have not gotten the scale to budge.  Of course, VBS has not allowed me time for any walks or biking either, which is probably not helping.  By the time I get home from work, I have enough time to do a little house cleaning or laundry before it is time to head back to the church and by the time I get home at night, it is getting dark outside.  I'll be glad to get back to my routine.

I had heard in the WLS community that plateaus happen, but nothing can really prepare you when you have been happily averaging about a pound lost each day to suddenly come to a screeching halt.  My eating hasn't really changed much other than really making an effort to have more protein in order to get that number up by my six month check up.  So is there a magical way to jump start the scale into moving again?  Of course, I can't be too upset at the moment because the gal who used to wear a 3x shirt, had on a 1x last night that was a little big, but still, it will be a relief to see the scale moving downward once more.

Saturday is Aaron's birthday and we are heading to Frederick to go bike shopping.  He wants a new bike and The Brit is also in the market for one.  So after Saturday, we will be a four bicycle family for the first time ever. 

Isn't life wonderful?

I have been reading "The Shack" and am finding it totally interesting.  Not a dull read at all and there have been lines I have had to go back reread a few times to be able to grasp what the author is saying.  While a work of fiction, the Holy Trinity is just presented in a way that for me anyway, helps me to understand it better.  I have always grappled with that concept and though the author may not have it right (none of us will know what is right this side of heaven) it is definately helping me in this life.  Go buy it.  Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

NonExistent Spare Time

Bloggy friends, I promise to play catch up on your blogs after this week is finished.  It has just been insane and I'm tired and I have a second slide show to make on Movie Maker for the finish (YESSSS) of VBS on Friday night.  It has just been crazy this week and in all honesty, I have not even had to time to put my thoughts in order about what to even blog about!  I am currently downloading 195 photos to peruse to see what is good and what is not so good, and then I have to decide upon music for the show, blah, blah, blah.  I actually enjoying making these; I just prefer to be able to take my sweet time doing it, but that is not the case this week.

And of course, half the pics, the kids have red eye, so I have to fix that.  This could be a long process.

Quality posts coming soon to a blog near you!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Short and Sweet

I am really tired tonight so this is going to be really brief.  VBS is in full swing and kicking my butt.  I've been working in the morning until 12:30, running errands afterwards (to the store, to the library, to the vitamin store, Borders, blah, blah, blah), getting home to tidy up and then leaving for the church again by 5:30 (I have about two spare hours between getting home and leaving again, at least the last two days.).

I'm also currently getting over a dumping episode.  Thankfully, I do not barf when I dump; at least so far. Basically, I get really hot, and feel like I'm going to toss my cookies, then get really sleepy.  My mother gave me fruit at VBS and now I wonder if it was fresh or canned in heavy syrup, because dang!  Blah!  So not fun.

Has anyone heard all the hype about "The Shack"??  My sister was telling me how good it is, and my other sister read it and bought it for my mom.  I went on eBay and all the copies had numerous bids on it.  On Amazon, it had nearly 400 reviews.  I went to Borders today to get it, thinking I would have to go to the Religious section to find it, but there were dozens of copies everywhere in the store!  I just started it and am not very far.  You Christian gals, might want to check it out and let me know what you think.  I'm gonna go read now.

Monday, July 28, 2008

RSS Hugger

Through reading my WLS blog friend's post, I discovered and just signed up for RSS Hugger.  From what I've been reading, it hooks up bloggers (me) with readers (you) by finding out what both of our interests are.  In this case, my blog has much to do with weight loss surgery and my feeling has always been that if I can help someone make the decision to have or not to have it, or answer any questions about the process, both post-op and pre-op, I am all for it.  I am a pay it forward kind of gal! 

So, I am scoping out RSS Hugger to see what it is all about and I'm excited.  I love new toys that help people to find my little blog and I will love using it to find the blogs of others as well!

Life, On-Line

Last night, after all the men in the family had headed upstairs to bed, I ventured to the board that I shared with Jane and about 7 other women.  I went back through the archives, reading old posts that I had posted and reading the responses from these wonderful women, including Jane.  I wasn't surprised to find myself reduced to tears of mourning for this dear friend that I have never met face to face.

The really hard part of grieving for an on-line friend is that if you don't have on-line friends, chances are, you don't "get it".  How can people who have never shared lunch, share a friendship?  Years ago, people had Pen Pals and though I never had one, I have to liken my on-line to that.  Anyone who had a pen pal, I'm almost certain came to care about that person so why would an on-line friend be any different?

As an adult, I love and cherish my girlfriends, some of which I have never met face to face.  Nina, Juli, Jane, Ruth, Jo, Jaime, Ellen, Jeanette and Jan, I have known for nearly ten years.  I have laughed and cried with them, rejoiced and mourned with them.  A few years ago, we lost another member off this same board and it was every bit as painful as the loss of Jane.  A few years ago, another member lost her son in a car accident and my heart ached for her as a mother and a friend.  Some have battled cancer and we support each other and cheer each other on when the good news happens. 

Andie, who I have spoken of before, has been my friend for 6 or 7 years now.  We have exchanged Christmas and birthday gifts and shared in each other's trials and struggles through written words in a chat window.  I have probably spent more time talking to her in chat on any given night than I talk to any one of my face to face girlfriends in one day.  How can I not come to love and care about her as if we lived next door to each other?

My blogging friends, I have not known as long, but they have been an endless source of information and support for me through my surgery and weight loss.  No one I know face to face  (other than Celia and we converse via email alot) could have provided me with such knowledge.

Deyse and Gaby, I have spent most Saturday and Sunday evenings chatting with for the last few years.  Their lives are different from mine as one lives in Mexico and one in Brazil but we have an amazing rapport as we share our lives.

My friend network is very diverse; some I go places with and some I just spend hours talking to.  Does that make one group more important than the other?  Not for me.  I love them all.  That's why Jane's passing is so hard for me and for all the other women of that board who loved her.   We are a small, intimate board of women, just there to support each other in life and in faith.  I know them well and would not be the same person I am today had I not known them.

Many of you have probably seen this little poem, but I love it as it says exactly what it is I feel.

Dear Lord,

Every evening as
I'm lying here in bed,
This tiny little prayer
keeps running through my head.

God, bless my mom and dad
And bless my little pup
And look out for my sister
When things aren't looking up.

And God, there's one more thing
I wish that you could do
Hope you don't mind my asking
But please bless my computer too.

Now, I know that's not normal
To bless a motherboard
But just listen for a second
While I explain to you, my Lord.

You see, that little metal box
Holds more than odds and ends.
Inside those small compartments
Are a hundred of my 'friends'.

I know for sure they like me
By the kindness that they give
And this little scrap of metal
Is how I travel to where they live.

By faith is how I know them
much the same as you
I share in what life brings them
From that our friendship grew.

Please take an extra minute
From your duties up above
To bless this scrap of metal
That's filled with so much love!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Celebrating Life

My friend, Jane, who I asked you to pray for died yesterday evening.  She was sixty years old.  Sixty year old women who are full of life and laughter really shouldn't die, yet we live in an imperfect world where bad things happen.  The good news is that she is now Home, out of pain, out of the hospital and with her Lord and Savior.

I wasn't sure what to blog about today because I've been feeling sad over Jane's passing.  Knowing what I knew of Jane, I was certain at the last minute she would pull through as she struck me as the kind of woman who would simply say, "To hell with the odds!  I'm not going yet!".  Yet, that was not to be and last night, I lost a friend. 

But as I walked around the park a few minutes ago, I was thinking about what to post in light of this sad news.  I was just going to state that Jane had been called Home and leave it at that, but somehow, that didn't seem fair and it certainly didn't seem like something Jane would have wanted.  She was so funny and full of life and there is no doubt in my mind that she is in heaven, cracking everyone up with puns and jokes.  So in thinking about Jane, it just seemed fitting to talk about celebrating life, even if it is mine, because since surgery, I have found so many reasons to celebrate.

I did about a twenty minute mile today, which while not great, was better than it would have been in the fall.  Physically, I felt fabulous doing it; there was a gentle breeze blowing and the sun was shining and reflecting off the lake.  I love putting my ipod on Shuffle and getting the surprise as to what song comes on next, as with 312 songs, it is always a surprise.  Today it was Rascal Flatts and Chris Rice and Abba and Casting Crowns and Natalie Grant.  I love the music blocking all the outside noise and allowing me to focus more on what I see and smell.  It was rejuvinating.

I need to start some strength training soon in preparation of horseback riding (Ironically, I believe Jane loved horses as she was collecting the Breyer ponies).  I don't want to finally get into the saddle only to suddenly find myself on the ground.  We're planning on rejoining the YMCA once the kids go back to school, but maybe I can get The Brit to do it sooner and we could alternate evenings or something while the kids are still on vacation.  My upper arms need work!

I am finally at a place in my life where I feel as if anything is possible; that my dreams really are within reach.  I've always had dreams, but only now do I really believe that they are attainable.  God has given me an incredible opportunity to truly live.

Rest in peace, Jane Rowan.  You'll be sadly missed down here, but yet, I kind of like knowing you are up there looking out for the Mags and I know when I'm called Home, you will be there waiting to greet me.  Keep a special eyes on your PICC too because she is really going to miss you.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

A Delightfully Calm Day

After a lousy week, today has been a vast improvement.

Slept in a little and then headed out to get my nails done.  After that, I finished my slide show of the mission trip as we are viewing it tomorrow in church and then Robyn and Lisa came over to "knit".  "Knit" is apparently girl talk for "talking" because no yarn was actually touched.  Lisa, sweet gal she is, made me a sugar free fruit trifle for my birthday and man, is it good!  No sugar added angel food cake, lots of fruit, sugar free pudding, sugar free cool whip, sugar free YUM!  Tasted delightfully  sinful for sugar free and I love it when that happens.

Robyn brought protein, er, shrimp and fat free cream cheese with cocktail sauce and healthy chips (Sun Chips and another kind).  I love my friends who are looking out for me even though they don't have to! Of course, Lisa looks amazing as she has lost like 71 pounds!  What really cracks me up, is the weight loss makes her look taller!  Now, how does that work?

Tonight, we went to dinner with Paula and her family and some of the youth group kids, and that is always fun.  Of course, my mother informed me yesterday that "You must be having a second childhood as you want to ride horses and some of your best friends are teenagers."  Yeah, so the war still wages apparently.  I guess that only kids ride horses, though many of them have hormonal issues as they look really old!  I love my youth kids too as they are fun, but we don't run around together.  Kirk and I have always been close; he has always been a kindred spirit for me and as he says, I have never treated him like a kid.  And you know what?  If these teens help to keep me young, I'm all for it.  I not only have a good time with them, but I listen to their problems when they have them and try to offer advice as an adult.  The kids trust Paula and I and that is worth it's weight in gold.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Please pray with me

A very good internet friend of mine for years now, Jane Rowan, has been in the hospital for five months with infections and other issues that arose suddenly.  Things today have taken a turn for the worse.  Please pray for her.  She has been on our prayer list for weeks, and they aren't expecting her to live much longer, but we pray to the God of miracles, so I would ask all of you to pray with me.

Jane has called me before to help me with problems that can come from raising an ADHD child and I just think the world of her. 

Thank you for joining your prayers to mine.

Words for Life...Mine at Least

Since surgery, words, quotes and symbols have become very important to me.  Like the horse necklace as a realization of another goal (tho my mother has decided I am going through my second childhood because I want to learn to ride.  Yeah, only children ride horses...whatever).

For my birthday, Robyn got me a lovely wooden cross that has an awesome quote by Erma Bombeck on it.  It says:

"when I stand before God at the end of my life I would hope that I would hae not a single bit of talent left and could say, 'I used everything you gave me.'"

Isn't that awesome?  I love that and I want it to be what I do say when I arrive at Heaven's door.  I want to live my life to the fullest now.  I want to realize every single dream.

With birthday money today, I bought a necklace I have had my eye on for a couple of months now.  "Embrace the Moment".  Aren't those great words?  Aren't they words we should all live by?  Embrace the moment, no matter what the moment is, whether it be happy or sad, embrace it and own it and learn from it; experience it, even if it is painful (such as my most recent events...sure did learn from that!).  I just love that. 

I love words that are reminders.  Words that remind me of what I am doing here.  Words that remind me that we only get one shot down here, so we need to make the most of every single minute of every single day.  Reminds me of the lyrics of the new 33 Miles song (brand spanking new...can't even download it yet!).

"You only get one time around,
You only get one shot at this.
One chance to find out,
the one thing that you don't want to miss.
One day when it's all said and done,
I hope you see that it was enough
 this one ride, one try, one life to love."

Try it all, bloggy friends.  Don't wait for tomorrow because it may not ever arrive.  No one at the end of their life down here will ever say "I wish I had spent more time at work" or "I wish I had spent more time worrying about tomorrow."  What we do down here is up to us, though we need to use our lives to glorify Him. 

I want to glorify Him by using every talent He gave me.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Real Scoop & Happy Birthday to me

Okay, here is the deal.  I have been tiptoeing around this situation for two days now, using generic references and all that good stuff.  But it's time to put the story out there and before I do that, just let me say in advance, I am not doing this to upset anyone.  I am doing it to put it out there for me, so I can hash through it, then put it behind me and stop feeling like dog shit about it.  I have been on the verge of tears nothing short of three times today over this situation and enough is enough.  I can't change it; it happened, it is what it is.

The argument I made reference to two weeks ago was with my mother.  After said argument, I did not call her for two days (this is not really abnormal as I don't talk to her every day anyway.  The difference is we ended on a bad note.).  Before I went to DC, I called her because I didn't want to go away with a disagreement hanging between us, regardless of whose fault I thought the argument was, I try to live my life with a "no regrets" kind of policy.  We spoke again on Sunday in church, and then again on Monday.  On Tuesday, I went out for a pedicure and when I came back, my mother and my sister, Vicki were here.  We chatted and it was all well and good, but mom did say she was going to Baltimore on Saturday.  As Vicki lives down that way, I assumed she was going with mom as mom does not drive in the city or even on the highway.  So when they were leaving, I asked Vicki if she was staying until Saturday and she said no, that she wasn't going to Baltimore.  After several more questions (I kind of felt like mom was trying to keep information from me) mom said that my other sister, MaryAnn was here with her husband and that John, my younger brother and his wife were taking her to Baltimore to meet up with MaryAnn for a ballgame and dinner.  I had not even been aware that my sister was HERE (she lives in California).  It was at that point, that my mother, who was still annoyed with me apparently from the argument the week before said, and I quote, "You and the boys were invited to the beach with them but you weren't talking to me so I didn't tell you."

I was obviously furious.  I don't get to see my west coast siblings very often and I reacted to the situation with the anger I was feeling.  I immediately called John, to ask him for MaryAnn's cell phone number and I explained the situation to him (This was time #1 when things could have been corrected.  This fact will be important later).  He gave me the cell numbers.  I called MaryAnn and asked her if we could still come down and she said yes (Technically time #2 things could have been explained to me but this would have been the most awkward way to find out for both MaryAnn and myself) and asked me if mom was coming with me.  I told her not that I knew of, but agreed to call her to ask.  So, I called mom to tell her the kids and I were going to the ocean to see MaryAnn and was she going. (This was time #3 things could have been explained).  She said no, because Vicki was down and they had decided not to go.

The next morning, Vicki called and now I forget why (time #4 it could have been explained to me) but we talked a bit and she agreed that mom had been rather nasty the night before.  The next day, the kids and I left and when we arrived, something didn't feel right to me.  In all honesty, I had some time within an hour of being there when all I wanted to do was to turn around and go home.  No one said anything to cause it; it was just a feeling I had.  But by that night it was better and we had a very nice time.

Since coming home, yesterday, Vicki called me to explain the story, which was as follows.  MaryAnn and her husband were there for a three year planned family reunion.  MaryAnn has a daughter and so does her hubby and both those daughter have a total of five kids between them.  The one daughter had to take her family and leave on Thursday, two days early, so MaryAnn had been hoping mom would come down but knew mom would not drive herself.  She asked Vicki to bring her, but that didn't work out and apparently my name came up as a way for mom to get there.  So, it wasn't really me or the boys she wanted, it was mom.  BUT, no one told me this!  What I got was "You and the boys were invited to the beach with them but you weren't talking to me so I didn't tell you." and that's it.  All I had to go on.  Vicki also told me that when she and mom left my house that night, she told mom that she had not represented the situation correctly, but again, no one bothered to clue me in.

After talking to Vicki yesterday, I emailed MaryAnn to apologize.  I mentioned no one's name in how I knew the situation was misrepresented to me, only that it was and that I felt now like I had invaded a vacation I should not have.  Of course, she came back saying it was fine and that they enjoyed having me and then explained that the reunion had been planned for a few years, etc and that then they were going to go to Baltimore to meet up with the others (not me nor my family however). 

Today, I got an email from my sister in law, explaining the same thing; the real story which no one bothered to tell me. 

I guess I am from the school that there are just some things people don't need to know. I went over this with my youth kids on the mission trip, after one of the African American kids called one of our boys a "hunchback quasi modo" and two of our girls came in and told the boy he said it.  There was no point in that information to be repeated, other than to upset the boy who was called the name.  In retrospect, if no one was going to tell me BEFORE the fact, what the hell is the point of telling me AFTER the fact other than to make me feel like a total shit, which is where I've been for two days now.  People could have fixed this if my mother wasn't going to, because obviously I was the ONLY one who didn't know the situation.  I am so angry and so hurt right now it is hard to see straight.

I also have a new motto:  If I don't get an engraved invitation from a family member to be somewhere, I'm not going.  The last time people from this family were together, my feelings got tromped on and I don't want to play anymore.  I'm quite happy with my husband, sons and friends who are like family to me, because none of them have ever made me feel lower than I do at the moment.

Okay, case closed.  I'm drying my eyes now and moving on.  Life is too short and I have dreams to realize and I have all I need right here to do that.  If this posts sounds negative, I'm sorry it is, but I'm really hurt by how all this played out.  I'm sure I'll get over it in a week or so, but the engraved invitation thing?  That still stands.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Family Dynamics

Coming from a large family can sometimes suck.  There are just times when no matter how much you want to fit in, it just isn't possible and someone's feelings get hurt and I have been on the receiving end of that enough to know, as have others.

Tonight, however, was very pleasant.  My sister and brother were here from out west for my sister's dad's funeral and we all went to dinner tonight.  It was stress free and easy, which made it nice.  It was my sister's birthday (we're a day apart in b-days as mine is tomorrow) so I got to share that with her and I'm sorry they are flying back on the red eye tomorrow morning.  The Brit told my sister that once he and I had both lost our first 100 pounds, we would be flying to Vegas for a long weekend and to visit with she and her husband.

I'm trying to do better with my family but sometimes it is just really hard.  I seldom remember birthdays and flying out to visit is hard to do with two kids.  Prior to the kids, we were just not financially sound enough to do much traveling.  My mind just sometimes feels that I am imposition to some of them, while with others, I am always comfortable and feel a sense of belonging.  I don't know if some of this is in my head or not but sometimes it feels like the perception.  It might have to do with the vast age differences and the fact that most of us did not live together for long.  Maybe it has to do with my own insecurities.  Maybe it has to do with the geographical distances between many of us or what we prefer to do socially.  I don't know what it is exactly, but I do know that the mechanics that make up my family will probably always remain somewhat of a mystery to me.

And then there is the big perception for me.  Many times, I didn't think I fit in well with some of them because of my weight.  The mere thought of that makes me shudder, but it is still a fact.  So, is that just an illusion and maybe it is just who I am that doesn't always fit? 

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The ties that choke us

Sometimes it's really hard to write about stuff here because I don't always want to use names and I don't want anyone getting any wrong ideas. 

I have recently come to the conclusion that I have certain traits that I inherited from another member of my family that I'm not really sure I want.  I love this family member, and in all honesty, growing up, I think we are sometimes blind to the truth about those we love.  And it has nothing to do with this person being "bad" or anything along those lines.  It has to do with my own insecurities about certain aspects of my life and know being able to more clearly see where I get these problems from.

The first one to point it out to me was actually a friend and when she pointed out the shortcomings that I had learned from, you could have knocked me over with a feather.  I had never seen it before; in fact, I really didn't even believe it.  Then recent events led me to have this discussion with a few other family members, who also said the same things as my friend did.  So now I am faced with coming to terms with things about someone that I also see reflected in myself...and I don't like it.

When we get something honestly that we don't want, how do we change it in ourselves?  Is it even possible to do?  I always thought there was some kind of defect in me; I never dreamed they were more learned behaviors stemming from childhood.  I just didn't see it before now and now that I do see it, it almost screams at me daily.  How do I fight against it?  Can I change what has been ingrained on my soul?  While I have probably also gotten good traits from this person, it is the not so good ones that are plaguing me right now; the ones I didn't see before.  I don't want them. 

I have to come up with a post for Kim's blog as I'll be guest writing a day for her while she is away this weekend, so look for me!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Three month post op

So there was good and bad at the doctor's apppointment today.

The good:

Most of my numbers look good.

In three months I have lost 32% of my excess weight.  By six months, most people have lost 50% so I am slightly ahead of the game.  I have only to lose like 27 pounds in three months to be right on track and I am averaging close to 20 pounds per month now.

The bad:

I need to go back to Flintstone vitamins.  I am very slightly deficient in some of the vitamins I should be getting from my One A Day and Pat said that their nutritionalist swears by the chewables because they are better absorbed.  I find the chewables disgusting, but I will try to do it and smile.

Though my calcium looks good I need to be taking three doses of it a day.

The Ugly:

My protein is low, putting me into the mildly to moderately malnourished catagory.  I don't know how easily these numbers move, but I am currently at a 12.9 and to get to normal, I need to be at a 17 minimally, but the range is 17-42.

So, all in all, not too bad.  The way I see it is you don't know where you stand until your first labs, and once you know, you know where the work has to be done.  Meat has recently gotten easier for me, so I just need to increase my intake of it daily.  It's either that or find a good protein supplement and that seems impossible, so we'll go with the meat thing.

I saw my oldest brother tonight at my sister's father's viewing and he couldn't get over how good I looked.  It felt really good to hear, despite how much more I have to go.  What I can't get over is how really good I feel and I'll be increasing my protein to make sure it stays that way.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

I don't wanna dwive....

That little title was especially for Lisa.

I don't know how commuters do it, but I was obviously not cut out to be a commuter because after the past three weeks, I am sick to death of driving!  Drove on the mission trip, to and from and all around Mon Valley.  Was home less than a week and drove to Shady Grove to catch the metro to go to Women of Faith.  Less than a week later, drove to and from Ocean City.  The very next day, drove to the airport.  Tomorrow, drive to Baltimore for my check up.  Wednesday back to the airport.  ARGGGG!  I'm not complaining about any of the destinations, just about the getting there and back!

Usually, I love to drive and I love a good road trip, but this has been a lot in a short period of time and it is kicking my butt!  I'm dog tired tonight!

My oldest sister's father passed away on Thursday (my mom's first husband) so tomorrow evening, I am going to the viewing, though I won't be able to make the funeral.  I only met the man once but I know my sister was close to him and was planning to be here this week (She lives in Henderson, NV now) to spend time with him as he has been sick with cancer.  Sadly, he died before they ever took off.

I recently spent some time with a recovering alcoholic, who likened becoming sober to "coming out of the darkness".  When we were talking about that and about my WLS and I told her about my next goal of horseback riding, she smiled, "Coming out of the darkness and living your dreams.  You're doing the same thing as me."

Coming out of the darkness.  It's a blessing.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Beach Baby

I love the beach the way some people love a good book.  I just can't get enough.  It was a wonderful two days with family, including meeting my 7-year-old great niece Brianna.  My sister had a magnificent place this year that she and her hubby rented.  Our view from our 4th floor deck looked something like this:

The kids swam in the surf and made attempts at boogie-boarding:

The kid has no fear.

We walked the boardwalk and the first night I had my very best meal since surgery: steamed crabs.  Small bits, a little bit at a time that taste wonderful.  It was a perfect stress-free meal.

From left to right: My niece, Kelly, great niece, Brianna, sister, MaryAnn and brother in law, Ron.

Hopefully it won't be another 5 years before I go back!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Three Month Check Up Fiasco

So on Tuesday, I had to go get three month blood work done as my three month check up is on Monday.  We have several labs in Hagerstown and The Brit directed me to one across town that is rarely busy and actually I was in it once and it was indeed quiet and I was in and out quickly.  So, I drove over there before work, hoping to make things short and to the point.

Only the place was packed.  I got a number from the machine: 42.  Looking up at the counter, only one woman was working it and it was now servicing # 32.  Great.  Ten people ahead of me who were not even checked in yet.  I sat down to wait and she finally lit up #33 and spent the next FIFTEEN MINUTES with #33.  Not being a real patient person, I gathered up my stuff, laid down my #42 on the bench and departed, heading for another lab closer to home.  This one was pretty empty and gazing at my watch, I saw I was already a half hour late for work.  I checked in at the desk and gave them the blood order and then the nurse came up once I had sat down and I could hear her asking questions about what exactly my blood order was asking for.  This went on for about ten minutes and then she was searching for the number for my surgeon, which she didn't have the right number and then she was asking me if I had the number and I did on my dead cell phone in the car.  So, out to the car I went to get my phone and my charger to plug in at the office to get her the number.

Finally it was all said and done and the blood was taken *shudder*.  So hopefully all my levels will be A-ok.

Still at the beach, soaking up the sun!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Beaching it

I have absolutely nothing to write about, but I had the opportunity to go to the beach for two nights as my sister from California is there, so I threw the kids in the car this morning without telling them where we are going. The drive is about four hours, but for this girl who as not seen the ocean in years, it is well worth the trip! I am going to take pictures and soak up the sun and just have a great time!

Now I have to make up a post for Friday! Ugh! Sometimes Blog 365 is so complicated!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Where Am I?

So yesterday, Meg was talking about being happy or not where she is in life right now, which inspired me to take my own lifelong inventory.

At almost 42 years old, I can't remember all my goals from when I was a teenager.  I know that I always wanted to write, and though I do write in several personal venues, I have not written anything that I have tried to have published and that, in some ways, is still a dream of mine.  However, with the presence of new goals, it doesn't seem quite as urgent all the time.

The funny thing is that my mind has always felt way younger than it really is. Oh sure, I have more wisdom now (at least I think I do!) than I had at 16, but in trying to wrap my head around being almost 42, I almost can't do it.  That inability is almost more difficult now since having surgery and losing 55 pounds so far (that damn last pound to make it less than 100 pounds to lose is just not happening!), because my body feels better than it has felt in years! 

Of course, feeling that way has caused me to have brand new goals that were only pipe dreams before.  For months I had bookmarked on my internet browser, the picture of the bike I wanted.  That bike is now mine and I am bicycling for the first time in 26 years and loving it!  With that goal being achieved, I have been spending time thinking and anxiously waiting for the next goal to be met, which is to learn to horseback ride.  I bought this today from eBay:

which was a negotiation from this one:

because the latter was over $100 and the one I bought was $24.  But it's a reminder of the next phase, the next dream, the next goal.  Where I want to be.

I finally feel like I am living life to the fullest.  Not that I did absolutely nothing before, because I have always kept busy, but there is a real joy in having a body that is starting to work properly and is cooperating with the things I want it to do.  There is still work to be done, but it is happening.  I feel more impulsive now instead of more guarded (I'm hightailing it out of town tomorrow with the kids to drive almost four hours to the ocean for two days.  A year ago, I'm not sure I would have done that sadly). 

I'm living a life right now I only dreamed of before and the possibilities seem endless and it isn't that my life is magical or all my problems have suddenly disappeared.  It's just that not everything is measured in pounds for me anymore.  Simple things that used to be hard, are now enjoyable and that constantly amazes me.  Add to it a wonderful family in The Brit and two kids, friends who so positively support me and a God whose mercies are new every morning.

I am right where I want to be.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

I don't get people

So it seems that you are no longer able to get angry with someone you are close to without them playing rather dirty and that really ticks me off.  I had a riff with someone last week and the riff consisted of them being partially right and partially wrong. The problem was that the timing stunk and to me, it felt more like an attack than anything else.  I wound up walking out of the house and didn't speak to the person for two days.  Then, before going to the conference last weekend I called this person to make ammends because I don't like being angry with someone and I didn't want to go away with that hanging in the air. 

The problem was that while I "wasn't speaking to" this person (as I was informed) there came about a bit of important information that I would have liked to have known and the individual elected to keep it from me until it was nearly too late to act upon.  Please note, I only didn't speak to this person for two days while I sorted it all out in my head and calmed down enough to make the call, but this person sat on the information until tonight.  Luckily, I was still able to work things out, otherwise I would have not seen someone who was visiting, who I have not seen in two years, who is important to me.  And when I originally found out this person was coming, I assumed that person had not told me, but as it turns out, she had told the person I riffed with and that person was supposed to tell me.  Confused yet?  Yeah, me too.

Anyway, tonight, I tried on some shorts I got off eBay a few months ago that were nowhere close to fitting at the time and guess what?  All but one pair fit, baby!

All in all, life is pretty damn good!

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Halfway Mark

Most of you know that I love summer.

Mostly, I love the heat as opposed to the dreadful cold of winter.  In the winter months, I can never seem to get warm and I fear this winter will be even worse because I am rapidly losing insulation (one more pound and I have UNDER 100 pounds to lose to get to my goal!  Stupid scale didn't move this morning!)!  However, about this time, about mid-July, I start to become eager for summer vacation to be over.  It happens sometime between the vacuuming up of dental floss in the living room and the wondering why the furniture in the dining room has been completely rearranged while I was upstairs cleaning out my closet.  The tide begins to turn when the carefree noises of children playing turns into near death threats as they threaten to kill each other and suddenly, the six weeks until school starts cannot get here fast enough.  That commercial with the parents dragging their kids through the store to buy school supplies while singing "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year"??  Yeah, I totally get that.

So it seems someone tried to break into our house while I was in DC last week.  Two of our screens had been taken out of the windows but as we keep the windows locked at night no one got in.  Of course, we notified the police and they will be patrolling the area.  It has always amazed me how people seem to think they have the right to steal from anyone else.  That is a sense of entitlement I will never understand nor do I want to.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

What I Notice So Far...

So, Godaddy added a font color thingy and it doesn't seem to work.  I tell it what color I want and it tells me black is my only option.  Whatever.

I am very much starting to notice some things now that 55 pounds are gone forever.  Wow.  I can barely even say that sentence and believe it, but the scale tells me it's true!  So, just for my own little blog memory book, here is what is happening:

  1. I was able to run...let me say that again....RUN up the steps at the Verizon Center this weekend at the conference.  AND, I was able to truck my ass around the concourse in record time...AND I was not even out of breath.

  2. I fit in the seat at the conference...comfortably.

  3. I walked all over DC and other than my heel spur, it did not bother me at all.

  4. To church this morning, I wore a pair of pants I have probably had for 11 years and before today, they had never been worn because they did not fit!

  5. I feel more confident in general.

  6. My clothing options are so much better now!  Styles I could not have gotten away with 55 pounds ago, now look pretty good.  Do I have a long way to go yet?  Yeah, I do, but it all seems possible now.

I have also started investigating my horseback riding lessons and have found a stable close to me.  I have shot some emails back and forth with the owner and I could actually start my lessons now at my current weight, but I want to wait until at least fall, if not spring to get started.  It's hard to wait though because I am very excited!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Women of Faith 2008

Wednedsay night, I blogged three posts for you; Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, because Thursday afternoon, Robyn and I headed for Washington DC for the Women of Faith conference.  I have attended this conference for the past six or seven years and every year I am reminded of how much I treasure this gathering of girlfriends. 

I try to go into the conference weekend with an open heart, ready to listen to what God has for me.  His message often comes from a different speaker each year and it may be as simple as a sentence at times, that strikes my heart and lets me know that was what He wanted me to hear.  This year was no different and though I'm not going to go into detail, there has been something I've been struggling with.  It's been a really hard thing for me that I've been beating myself up about mentally and today God gave me my wake up call.  I could so see myself mirrored in the words that were spoken and I am reminded of the tremendous blessing God has given me.  I am also reminded that I have been trying to handle this issue on my own and that is just not possible for me to do.  I need to start each morning with God time, asking for His help with this problem during the day.  Doing it on my own has not been working and sometimes we just have to let go and let God.  He already knows my struggle in this area and has been waiting for me to talk to Him about it and I did that today.

I can already feel the tide starting to change.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Monessen: Final Thoughts

Monessen is a place that I have been unable to get out of my head since I left, because here are the facts.  Since the steel industry closed in Monessen, there have been few jobs which is why poverty is at a high in that place.  Most of those kids we loved on there are never going to get out.  Chances are those kids will either join a gang and/or get killed, or the nicer kids will be eaten up by that enviornment.  These thoughts nag at my soul every day now. 

Though in my heart, I have always known that poverty on this level existed in our country, this was the first time I have been face to face with an almost hopeless situation.  Without the jobs, there is little hope for these kids and some are already the products of where they live.  They are angry and abused and neglected.  In some cases, kids who you may never have thought could dabble in drugs, are earning money to feed their families by watching out for the police while the dealing takes place.  Is this child wrong to do this?  There are parents and siblings to feed and he is maybe making $50 a night to help with that. How long before he is the one doing the dealing?  This is all this child knows.  He won't go to college and will maybe even drop out of school early. Where are the answers for these children, who are all God's children?

I'm thinking of writing to Shalon, the sweet little girl I befriended the first day at Kid's Club.  I'm not sure what to say to her, but I only hope to strike up some kind of mentorship.  Though Shalon is only one child, I want her to not fall into the trap.  I don't want her to get pregnant at a young age by some dealer on the streets.  I don't want her to drop out of school or to be eaten alive by Monessen and it's problems.  She is too precious for that.  They all are.  Yes, some of the kids are bullies, but what does that tell me?   That they are being bullied at home.  Abused even.  They have to be tough just to survive.  And maybe as the summer progresses and there is a new group of teens with YouthWorks each week, they will let down their guard a fraction, but in September, the groups stop coming until next summer.  So for nine months, the choice of role models is scarce.

Pray with me for Monessen and it's children.  Pray for those that strive to make a difference there, like Kelly and Butch and Jason. 

Prayers may be all they have at the moment, so it's important.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Monessen Day Five: We're tired now

On our second day of work projects, we were a bit low on energy.  We finished up the apartment we'd started and Butch stopped down to chat with us and to praise us for how amazing the place now looked.  He talked about how he, Jason and Jason (the other maintenance guys at both project sites) were on call 24/7.  He told us about a single mother of three kids, who met a man in China over the internet and left to be with him, leaving behind her furniture, clothing, birth certificates and social security cards.  Oh, and she left her three children behind too.  I have so much respect for these three men who strive to make a difference in this place, who can still look at a disgusting vacant apartment and say "We need to clean it up so that if we wanted a place to live, we would chose here."  How easy it would be to become apathetic, but they aren't.  They care.  They told us how kids like T were pushed out the front door in the morning and told not to come back until it was dark...and we wonder why T has such a chip on his shoulder.

After lunch we started cleaning up another apartment where milk had been left to sour. The smell was incredible.  PK, who was not feeling well, started to feel worse, and I wound up leaving early to take her back to our living quarters.  Sarah and Kelly were right there once we returned, helping me fix PK toast and finding some medication to settle her stomach. 

Friday night was insanely busy with a community cookout.  Lots of kids came, barely any parents and that seemed to be the common theme.  Shalon was there though and as soon as she arrived I heard a "Miss Kim!"  What a cutie.

Shalon and Kirk at the cookout.  I pray for Shalon everyday, that God keeps her safe.

Something else I forgot to mention in yesterday's post.  An odd thing started to happen.  When Paula, Papa Don and I would return each afternoon from the leaders meeting, there wouldn't be any place to sit at our table.  Seems our "loud and weird" kids were attracting a whole bunch of other kids.  Funny how that worked out.

Friday nights at YouthWorks are emotional, especially for first timers, but even for those of us who knew what was coming.  Sarah's lesson that night was about Jesus washing the feet of his disciples and then the YouthWorks leaders washed the church leaders feet.  Then, in turn, we washed our kid's feet and prayed over our kids.  What an honor to be able to pray over these teens who I love so much!  All of our kids have been on YW mission trips before, but not a one was dry-eyed, not even the boys.

Our last night church group time is spent with a ball of yarn.  One person starts it and throws the yarn to the person of their choice, then says what they want to say to or about that person; what makes that person special or unique.  Then that person keeps hold of the yarn thrown to them and throws the ball to the person they choose, etc, and the yarn forms a web of sorts over the table.  At the end, one person is asked to release the strands they hold and we watch as the web begins to fall apart, symbolizing how we are all interwoven and parts of a whole and that we need each other to survive.

After we returned from our church group, we stayed up much too late playing Big Booty with about thirty other people (fun game.  I was hooked).  The kids were now all friends, brought together in a strange place where they had to learn to rely on each other.  The next morning we would pack, clean and depart.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Monessen Day 4: Work Projects

Wednesday was the day the groups switched and those who had been doing Kid's Club now went to work projects and those who had been doing work projects went to work at Kid's Club.  We knew the other group that contained the rest of our kids were going to be in for a big shock with Kid's Club. 

That morning when orientations happened, Kelly pulled aside the leaders who were supposed to be heading to Highland that morning and told us we would all be going to Park.  There had been a gang fight the night before and though she fully expected all of it to be settled down by the following week, she was going to keep us at Park for our two days of work projects.

When we arrived at Park we met Butch and lemme tell ya, ladies, if I were a few years younger and single....Hi Honey!  This was not only a cutie, but one of the nicest men I have ever met in my life.  Very soft spoken and very supportive of YouthWorks.  He told us to do what we could, but most of all, to have fun doing it.

Paula, Butch and I at the community cookout on Friday.

We were divided again into smaller groups, and Paula and I, our kids and some kids from Michigan were assigned to clean up a recently vacated apartment.  Folks, I wish I had taken Before photos, because no words can describe the amount of yuck and sludge that were all over the kitchen and the bathroom.  The Michigan gang offered to start painting, where our church preferred the cleaning end of things.  Paula bravely volunteered for the bathroom, God bless her, because I could not have done it.  The kitchen was bad enough.  The sink was loaded with cigarettes, ashes and corn of all things and Kirk took it on, while Corrina and I dealt with the fridge.  The fridge as well as counters and windowsills contained (I kid you not) piles of dead gnats.  They were everywhere.  Of course things had leaked in the fridge while the guy was still living there, so getting the gunk out took time.  PK worked on the counters and Rachel painted and though it took most of the day, the kitchen didn't look like the same place when we were finished. 

At lunch time, we had met up with the rest of our group to eat on the bleachers by the kickball field and for the first time, I saw some of the other kids interacting with our kids.  It was tentative, but it was happening.

That night after dinner, we went to a community church service at a gospel church.  There was singing and dancing and "Amen"s and "Alleluia"s.  What struck me as odd was that they sang along to a CD that was blaring where I had been expecting a Gospel choir.  There was also a mime who lip synced two songs and he had some awesome facial expressions. 

(he turned out to be a jerk though, calling one of our boys a "quasi modo hunchback" at the cookout on Friday).

After the church service we headed back for Club where we laughed until we about cried.  The groups were given out small slips of paper with Bible stories on them they had to re-enact, but there were stipulations.  Chris' group, for example, had the last supper, but they had to use the words "Hi Ho Silver away" in the skit three times.  So Chris, playing Jesus, would pretend to hold up a cup and say "The blood of Christ, shed for you." and as he lowered the cup, he said "Hi Ho Silver away."  Too funny!

By the end of the night, we realized our energy was waning after four days of constantly being on the go and not having much sleep.  Only one more to go and then Friday, we would drive home.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Monessen Day Three: The Problem Kids

Because we did not need a second orientation on Tuesday, my group was scheduled to go to the other project to entertain the kids for the morning and to have lunch with them before leaving for Kid's Club at 11:30.  We arrived at Park Manor just after 9:00 and the kids quickly found us as they are now used to having YouthWorks kids to play with twice a week.  We headed over to the kickball court (Park is the nicer of the two Manors.  Highland did not have the areas for the kids to play like Park did) and one boy, I'll call him "T" started dictating orders as far as who were the team captains.  Rach, one of my girls, teasingly asked him "Are you in charge around here?"  T looked at her with daggers coming out of his eyes and replied, "You gettin' smart with me?" We were all a bit taken aback by his attitude and a bit later, when Rach again tried to make conversation with him, he told her to "shut the f#&* up." and the went on to say that he "didn't need to play with this piece of trash."  God love Rachel, she never stopped smiling, though I was livid and even though it was not very Christian-like, I threw a few comments T's way.

The game was short-lived due to T's mean nature, such as when a little girl of about five went up to kick, T abandoned his place in the outfield to come right up to her, knowing she would be unable to kick the ball very far and used her as an "easy out".  The little girl left the field crying with her sister.  About that time, our group decided they'd had enough of T and kickball and they headed to the basketball court.  T, a kid of big build, was not that great at the game and seemed to settle down a little other than shoving Rachel once.  I yelled at him that I was about to take him out of the game if he touched her again and the morning went by with no further incident. 

We found out that morning that T was one of the kids who had been suspended from Kid's Club for a week.  Go figure.  When we headed to lunch (the women at the apartment site prepared lunch for the kids in the summer as so many of them are on their own all day while parents work) T actually sat with Rachel and was well behaved interestingly enough.

Kid's Club brought its own set of challenges on Tuesday.  A little boy who had been so well behaved on Monday had to be taken home as he refused to listen to anyone.  Another eight year old girl, who looked and dressed every day of 15, kept pestering us to use a cell phone.  I sat outside a closet where a little boy hid and still another hid under the table (as it turns out, the table hider's mom is in a mental institution and his dad is in jail.  The little guy is in a foster home).

When I went to take the first batch of kids home, one boy refused to get in the car and Kirk had to walk around to him before he would get in.  When he got in, he stated, "Fine, I'm in, but I ain't wearing no seatbelt."  I informed him that the car was not moving until he was wearing it but he still refused.  I then turned off the engine and replied, "Well, then you aren't getting air conditioning."  The other kid's club kids went crazy on the kid until he put on his belt.

I spoke with Kelly later that day about T and she explained to me that T did well when he was buddied up with a teenage boy at kid's club.  She stated that T had not had that last week and had gotten into trouble.  I decided to talk to our Chris, who would be with the kids the next day, to see if he would be willing to take on the task.  It was a huge job, but Chris (big, dumb) is indeed big; broad shoulders and chest, but really good natured. When I talked to Chris, he agreed.

After dinner, three local teens took us on a prayer walk and we walked down an alley that used to be called (I think) Drug Alley.  They stopped in front of this wall that YouthWorks had painted over a few years ago and they explained that on the wall used to be the names of people.  Once their name was crossed out, that person would be dead in a few days; all part of the drug dealing and using life.  Another story they told was of a little girl who had walked down to play in the river.  A gang member, under the influence of drugs, went down there and killed her.  Since that time, community members teamed up to try to stop the violence and now the alley is regularly patrolled by the police. 

We walked up to the church, 162 steep stone steps and I did it!  Nearly killed me, but I did it.  I was last, but I did it!  We were actually supposed to walk up the hill instead of the steps, but there were police cars in the area so they rerouted us, much to Paula's and my concern.  We could see Kyle talking discreetly on the phone and we gathered that there had been some gang activity at Highland, which was were my group was scheduled to go tomorrow to help the maintenance guys.

During church group time, the kids and Paula expressed their concern on going to Highland, so later that night, when I saw Kelly, I spoke to her.  She assured me that the maintenance guys were very protective of the YouthWorks kids and if there was even an undercurrent of something going on, they would not let us come.  She also told me that she would call him in the morning to find out where things stood.

As it turned out, we were not going to Highland.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Monessen Day 2: The Kids

Our first full day in Mon Valley started early with a shower at 5:45.  See, I had to wake up, and then walk to the third floor to pee.  From there, I walked down one more flight to the second floor to shower and then the whole way back up to the 4th floor again.

We ate breakfast and I came to the realization that I was going to need to pop over to the supermarket during our free time later as breakfast was not giving me many possibilities.  After breakfast, we had devotions and then my group followed Kyle across the alley to where Kid's Club was hosted for an orientation.  

I was a little floored and confused by all the rules.  After all, Kirk and I had done Kid's Club the previous year and there really weren't any rules and Megan had even told us last year that if there were any disciplinary problems to bring the kids to her as she was the one person who would be with them all summer.  Now, here was Kyle empowering any of us to give timeouts.  

After orientation, we broke down into groups.  All of my church kids elected to head up crafts, which I hate, so I wound up going with music with a handful of teens I didn't know.  They handled things more or less themselves though I made a few suggestions.  At lunchtime, before the kids arrived, we had to eat with our groups and I am one who is surprisingly shy with folks I don't know.  I could see our kids at the craft table and I longed to be with them as they laughed and teased.  Then one of the girls I was sitting with said, "That Maryland group is weird."

I was very much taken aback.  Did she not know the group she was talking about was mine?  I elected not to say anything as she continued, "I mean, they're nice and all, but they're really loud."

I was rather offended.  The fact was that our kids are extremely outgoing.  They are the group that never meets a stranger and will welcome most anyone into their fold.  They are as close as siblings and all these traits had always struck me as positive things.  I didn't comment on what was said and as soon as lunch was over, I spoke to Kirk and we both pondered over all the rules of Kid's Club.

My vehicle was one of the cars that would be dispersed to go and pick up kids from the projects and I had to take a male and a female youth with me, so Kirk and PK came along.  We followed the directions up the hill and we laughed at all the shoes tied to the power lines (we didn't learn until later that the shoes represent gang activity) and felt a little uncomfortable at all the men hanging out along the streets, jumping to and from cars.  The area we'd been in last year was very rural, but it was becoming abundantly clear that we were now in a very urban neighborhood.

We arrived at the project development and the African American kids swamped the car.  We had to check them in and stamp their hands as to what development they would be returned to.  What seemed really odd was that there was not a parent in sight.  We could take 4 kids each trip and Pam, one of the other adult leaders from Michigan was also picking up from this development and she had a van.  Even with her van, my car had to make three trips to get all the kids.

When we arrived back at Kid's club, it didn't take long for us to understand why there were so many rules.  The kids were a different breed altogether.  Some were adorable and sweet and others were loud, disrespectful and carried two ton chips on their shoulders.  Paula and I buddied up with two girls, both doll babies, named Shalon and Miya and we played a game of Sorry until it was time for the kids to move up for songs and their Bible lesson.  This is the time when the problem kids acted out the most.  Two of us, had to essentially play Bouncer by making sure no kids tried to escape lesson time.  Others would talk loudly during the lessons and songs and we had to try to get them to pay attention. 

When the lesson time was finally over, the kids split into two groups; the older kids had playtime outside and the younger ones had craft time and then in thirty minutes, it would switch.  As music was over, I headed outside to help Paula, who was on game duty.  Most kids shot baskets or played Four Square.  Others played in the trash can that the balls were kept inside of.

The time went by fast and I helped usher the big kids back inside and prepared to help the little ones outside to play.  Pam walked up to me and whispered, "Holy shit."  So I knew it wasn't just me getting an eye opening experience of where we were.

The rest of the time went by quickly and soon we were driving kids back to their respective developments.  When we returned, I approached Kyle and informed him that he was definitely going to heaven and was sitting next to Jesus.  As we all took seats and discussed the day with Kyle we learned that there were actually kids who were on a week suspension from Kid's Club but would be returning on Wednesday. I think we all secretly rejoiced that on Wednesday, we would no longer be at Kid's Club, but would be painting and cleaning up apartments at the projects.

We were supposed to go swimming that afternoon, but due to rain, we were unable to go.  So our group headed to the grocery store, where I bought some low fat peanut butter and bananas for breakfast.  The rest of the evening was dinner, Club and church group time.  The kids were still disgruntled about their lack of friend making, but we assured them it was still too early to judge anything.

Preparing for Kid's Club

Four Square

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Monessen Day 1

We departed from the church somewhere around 12:30-12:45.  Papa Don took the lead with Big Dumb Chris as his co-pilot (the kids nick named Chris that name affectionately.  Chris is big, but not dumb at all and he is a very good sport).  Paula's vehicle was in the middle, due to her fear of getting lost on a road that leads to a big city (seriously, this is her greatest fear) and she had her youngest son, Dane, PK, Corinna and Rachel.  I brought up the tail with Kirk, Molly and Shawnie.

The drive was pretty uneventful.  We stopped at Taco Bell (ugh for a WLS patient!) and I ate a couple of nachos.  Then we were onto the PA Turnpike for the remainder of the journey.  We arrived at 4:00 on the nose and were the first church group to arrive. 

 We immediately met our leaders, Kelly, Sarah, Jeremy and Kyle.

As we began to unload our vehicles of suitcases, duffle bags, sleeping bags and air mattresses.  Turning to Kelly, we asked where our sleeping quarters were and we were informed they were on the fourth floor.  There was no elevator.  Okay, so exercise was not going to be an issue.

We hauled all our stuff upstairs and the good part about arriving first was being able to select our sleeping quarters.  Once we were unpacked and our air mattresses were blown up, we headed back downstairs to the dining/kitchen/club room to wait for others to arrive.

When the other groups began to arrive, they did not seem all that friendly.  I said hello to some of them and they nodded in return but all in all it felt awkward.  The other groups were all from up north (Canada, Upper PA and Michigan) and it seemed they were just not as warm and outgoing as our kids were, but it was still way too early to tell.

We had dinner (I totally forget what we had) and just before that, the adult leaders headed upstairs for a meeting with Kelly, where we divided our kids into work groups for the next day.  My group, which consisted of me, Paula, PK, Rachel, Kirk and Corinna, would be starting off our week with Kid's Club, which is essentially a VBS for the neighborhood kids.

After dinner, we had Club, which is usually a time of music, some fun and then a more serious talk given by Sarah.  After Club each night, we all had our individual church group time and the first night, the kids were a little disgruntled but how cold some of the other kids seemed to be.  We tried to assure them that it was only the first night and that they needed to give it time, but actually, only time would tell.

When we were finished church group time, we headed back up to the 4th floor for bed.  Wake up the next morning for the adult leaders would be 5:45 if we wanted to shower.  I did.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

I want to ride my.....

I promise to update tomorrow on the mission trip as today other interesting things have happened. 

The kids went with their grandmother for a little bit this afternoon, and The Brit told me we were going for a ride but would not tell me where we were going.  We drove to Frederick, which is about 25 miles away and when it was all said and done, I had an early birthday present:

The salesman took the bike outside the shop for me so I could try it out and I was scared to death.  I am turning 42 this month and have not ridden a bike since I was fifteen or sixteen.  Surprisingly, other than being a little wobbly, I did all right and was rather pleased with myself, though I had been convinced that The Brit and the salesman would be picking me up off the sidewalk!

I did take a little spin on it this evening, and again, a little scary, but I'm thinking it will get easier the more I ride it!  Thought for sure I'd be falling off when I came down our street and turned into the alley to take it around back, but somehow I did okay!  So, bike riding was one of the things on my list of what I wanted to do after WLS and I did it!

We had some major rain tonight and my kids, being a bit like me and insane, decided it was as good as a pool.

This was right beside the curb in the street!

And everyone knows you can jump higher on a wet trampoline!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Back, Thanks and More to Come

Holy crap, they added a font color picker....but I'm too tired to figure it out.

It was an exhausting, exhilerating, sometimes frightening yet amazing week, that I am still processing.  I am terribly sleep deprived and looking forward to a full eight hours in my own bed, instead of on an air mattress on the floor in a room with other people that I didn't know.  Sharing with our own kids and leaders was wonderful, but I can do without people that don't know how to take me.  This is the first time I have seen a computer, a television or a newspaper in nearly a week and for the most part, I didn't even miss them.

Thanks to my wonderful guest bloggers.  Laura, I LOVED the pictures!  I don't even remember any of them being taken as it seemed like a kabillion years ago!

I'll start relating the details of the mission trip tomorrow, once I am rested and in the meantime, I hope everyone had a great 4th of July!

 Monassen (Mon Valley) YouthWorks crew the week of June 29th-July 4th.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Guest Blogger The Brit

Well good news everyone........

The fish are still swimming, the cats are well fed and the guinea pig is still living... My jobs on the list (does that suprise you that I had a list) are complete

Now the next big question is should I attempt to Vacumn, could be going to dangerous terrority I think.

I also have one last journey I am thinking of attempting. Laundry..........

Should I go there? Is it safe? Am I going to end up with this foaming mass of bubbles filling the basement? I took a look at the machine and all those dials and buttons, they frighten this tech guy I can tell ya.

I know dirty clothes go to the basement and noise happens and then clean and dry clothes come up. Sometimes they appear while I am watching TV and this fresh clean smell drifts past me as the clothes are being folded by my gorgeous loving wife (can you tell I am missing her).

Well wish me well on this adventure. No doubt Kim will let you all know how well I did or didn't do.

Now where is the laudry liquid kept...Jeez this stuff is hard.

Have a happy and fun filled 4th...

PS. Any chance we can have the country back LOL

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Guest Blogger Kelly

The Cost of Being Ill   


Had planned for something a little more interesting, but then I succumbed to illness and kept thinking I can’t afford to be sick!  My original thought was I couldn’t afford the lost time of being sick, but then I started thinking about the actual cost and figured this for my run of the mill sinus infection:


Copayment at the doctor’s                           $15.00

Antibiotic                                                       $15.00

Mucinex – Generic form                                 $9.99

Nasal Spray (so I can breath again!)            $3.99

Vapor Rub – Generic form                             $3.99

Head On Headache Relief                            $4.99

Tissues                                                        $3.99

Premium chicken soup for a couple of days   $5.00


$61.95 for a freakin’ sinus infection!  And that’s with good insurance and a decent pharmacy plan!  To heck with the time, I literally can’t afford to be sick!   Really makes me wonder how those without insurance manage. 


On an upside – USA Network has been running “Law and Order” marathons the past couple of days and I actually managed to wake up long enough to watch one I’ve never seen before!


I promise next time I guest blog (provided I’m asked) I’ll make a little more interesting and maybe include some photos.  For now congestion and icky tissues are all I know.


Wishing you all a sinus-infection free summer! 

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Guest Blogger Laura

Hello all - again!!!   But this time instead of updates....I get to do my very own blog!!!

For starters, Kim & I met back when we were in high school.  It may be hard to believe but psycho mom (PM as Kim affectionately calls her here) introduced us (the one good thing to come out of that nutty friendship) and we discovered that our dads worked together at the post office (small world, huh?).  We ended up going to church together as well. 

My ambition back then was to marry Adam Ant (Kim & I did see him in concert) and Kim was going to marry a man with a British accent < only one of us achieved our goal - wonder who it was...... >.  Anyway, another thing Kim and I did together was work at Burger King and we each moved our way up the ladder to be Production Leaders.  Now at the Burger King we worked at a Production Leader was what they called you when they wanted you to be a Shift Manager at a regular employee salary (yeah, we were that dumb) most other Burger King's it meant you could train new employees.

So, as I forewarned Kim on several different occasions, I have dug out some old Burger King photos to share.

But first I want to share our Senior Pictures with you:

     Me, of course to the left (Class of '82) and Kim to the right (Class of '84).

And now, for Burger King.....


To the left is our Store Manager, Mary and the right is the Asst. Manager Betty Jean.

The next few (as were the above two) were taken at one of the Christmas Parties:


Kim, very shy and then after the booze hit her (okay not really-we weren't allowed to drink at these things).

     Sharing the holiday spirit with Jimmy and Matt (I think Matt was his name).


                                        Kim very hard at work!

Always well liked by the crew...with Candy in the first and Teresa & Candy in the second. 

This photo was taken at the Christmas Party also...the lady standing is Kim's (and mine) friend Robyn (who y'all have heard her talking about)....and speaking of Robyn, when she became the right age...she came to work at Burger King as well:

Robyn (left) with Deena singing.....we worked at Burger King back in the days when you called the orders over the after closing, when we were cleaning, we'd sing over the microphones with the radio!!!

Since I was behind the camera, there were no photos of me...however, I did find this one of me and Jimmy at the same Christmas Party:


From looking at this photo and my senior picture...I am very happy to say that I now have an excellent hair stylist - God Bless Him!!!

And in case you were wondering which one of us achieved our goal....well, let's just say I'm not married to Adam Ant.