Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The "K" Syndrome

This past week has brought a lot of changes here -from four new kittens to family fishing on Sunday, Kurt's ever-expanding vocabulary and comprehension skills and even one completed knitting project and another begun. So although this has nothing to do with the chemical element "K," I figure since it involves kittens, kids, Kippers (well, that fish, isn't it?), Kurtis and knitting, I'm in a bit of a "K" element all my very own today.

Several people have commented about the kittens -Suldog suggested I check out Manx or Japanese bobtail cats to see if there is a genetic link to either of these to the two kittens with the stubby little tails. Thanks for the link, Jim. I did look those up and the Japanese Bobtail can immediately be ruled out but maybe there is a slight possibility that the rogue father in this family might have a recessive gene -or maybe Nina, the mother does -that could link them to the Manx cat family.Others have asked to see some pictures of the new babies and Mandy -being the photography fiend she can be at times -had been taking pics of the kittens whenever she had a chance and I just got them downloaded from the camera tonight. So here's some of our new family members!
Here's either a very tired or very bored Nina, the mama cat, with her brood.
Maya, giving a loving pat to one of the babies. Note, Nina's very comfortable having Maya around the kittens and Maya is really happy and excited over the babies too!
Here's all four of the kittens doing a tiny bit of exploring in the new bed Mandy fixed for them and Nina. Nina had the kittens on Maya's big bed, upstairs. A good place in that initially it gave Nina free reign to come downstairs anytime she wanted to use the litter box or have some food but not the best place either because who wants kittens squirming all over one of the beds in the house? Mandy found she had to find a container to put them in and do it quickly too because yesterday, Nina moved the kittens over to an open drawer on Kurt's dresser -filled with his shirts -and then, after Mandy removed them from that hiding place, she moved them again in the middle of the night -over to Mandy and Bill's current room and stashed them under the crib there! So today, Mandy found a nice-sized heavy tote box bottom, lined it with an old pad and some old baby receiving blankets and now, the kittens, as well as Nina, seem to be quite content. Wonder if Nina will try to move them again tonight or in the near future though?

Sunday afternoon, Mandy and BIll took Kurt and Maya, along with the kids' older half-brother and sister out to Black Moshannon State Park to do a little fishing and give the kids a chance to enjoy an afternoon of fun and sunshine.

Here's a few of the pictures Mandy took of that event.
Bill and Shane fishing from a boat dock at Black Moshannon.
Bill, giving Kurtis some instruction in the fine art of fishing!
Of course, Maya had to go see how Shane and Daddy were doing too!
Judging by the look on Maya's face and her hand gesture, I get the feeling she wasn't near as excited about "going fishing" as the guys in the family were.
Sierra, trying to entertain herself, along with two easily bored siblings -Maya and Kurtis. Although, I think the little ones were having a good old time at this point.
Sierra and Kurtis checking out the shoreline.

Yesterday, Bill and Mandy had the kids out in the backyard, playing on the swing set and other toys in and around the backyard. One of the toys that Bill got out of the storage shed was the little plastic tricycle that "Pappy" (Grandpa Wagner) got Maya when she was about 2 1/2-3 years old. When they came back in the house, Mandy brought the trike in with them and Kurtis immediately sat down on it and began trying to ride it. Well, he has no clue, as yet, about the pedals, but otherwise, he really enjoys it a lot. Today, he added "Tricycle" to his vocabulary as he said that word and actually said it quite plainly too.
Here's Kurtis, taking his favorite possession -his "Bear" pillow - for a ride with him on the tricycle. Gotta love that he's wanting to share his fun with "Mr. Bear."

Over the weekend, I did a bit more knitting. Started and finished yet another scarf -this one made with two different kinds of yarns. I don't have a picture of it as yet though. But it's purple fun fur with accent yarn of a nubby-type thread yarn (a generic brand I bought cause I didn't want to spring for a lot of money if I couldn't manage to work with the texture of the stuff) in a purple/lavender shading. I know, once I do try to photograph it, I doubt the camera will pick up very well on the accent threads. Maybe I should have used white for the accent?

Yesterday, I started working on a sweater -hopefully, for Maya. I tend to be a rather slow knitter at times so I'm just hoping I stay with this sweater thing and get it done quickly so I can start back in working on some more embroidery stuff, ya know. I have the back about 3/4 finished so far.

Last night would have been a good night to work on the sweater if I'd had a set of ear plugs. Kurtis fell asleep around 9 or shortly thereafter and things looked good until a little past midnight when he awoke and began to fuss. At first I just ignored him, figuring if I didn't talk to him, he might settle back down on his own, fall back to sleep. But I was wrong. After close to an hour of his crying, I tried to offer him milk, to see if he wanted picked up, needed changed or whatever, and all my moves towards him just set him off even more -kicking, screaming, generally having one major hissy fit. Finally, around 2 a.m., Mandy came down in response to his constant cries of "Unny. Unny? Unny!"

It took her a good 45 minutes before he seemed to settle down enough that she dared go back up to bed. As a matter of fact, when she left him, he was standing in the playpen, waving bye bye to her, all smiles, saying "Nite nite" and "See ya" but that joy was short-lived as within ten minutes, it was business as usual again with the crying and such. I did get him calmed enough that it appeared he was going to snuggle down with Mr Bear and his blanket to go to sleep, so I retired then to my room.

It seemed that no sooner had I dozed off to sleep but I was awakened by a strange thumping kind of noise. Then, I distinctly heard footsteps and a voice that I couldn't quite identify. Half-awake then, I was a bit confused trying to figure out who was walking around the house. Then, all of a sudden, I heard a noise at the door to my room, turned and looked and there stood Kurtis, with Mr. Bear dragging on the floor too!

So, I got up with him, got him resettled -not exactly to his liking but he wasn't being really obnoxious and I went back to bed. Within about five minutes, I heard noises coming again from the living room but only for a couple seconds and it was quiet. However, I waited a bit before getting up to go see if he was in or out of his bed and there he was, seated on the sofa, holding something it appeared he was playing with. But when he saw me, he dropped that and came running over to me and allowed me to put him back in his bed. I decided to try the food routine next then to get him to go to sleep but when I offered milk, he just screamed. So I asked him if he'd like a slice of cheese and that actually brought a positive response.

Well, two slices of cheese and about a half-bottle of milk later, he finally gave up the ghost and was asleep -even snoring! So I finally got back to bed then a little after 4 a.m. Needless to say, I was kind of dragging fanny today thanks to Kurtis and his midnight trials!

So far tonight now, he's been out, like a light, since about 8 p.m. cause he didn't get much nap time in this afternoon so I figure he's pretty well tuckered out tonight too. But, as it is nearing his "witching" hour of midnight, I think I will just close this post now and try to go to bed, hopefully to go to sleep too!

Or if that doesn't happen, I definitely am gonna need a dose of the K element -Potassium, in case you've forgotten you chemical table stuff -and have Mandy go to the grocery store in the morning for some bananas for me. Darned good source of potassium and great energy food -or so they tell me.

And before I forget -remember April is Autism Awareness month!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Just Like GE

Saturday morning -looks like the weather isn't going to be quite like predicted here. It was supposed to be sunny, with temps as high as 85 today. Earlier, the sun was out, nice, bright -really a pretty day appeared to be on the horizon. Now, maybe for the past hour or so, the sun seems to have disappeared. Although you can't tell by the inside of this old house, it is kind of warm outside now -not hot -but just a nice warm with a mellow breeze. (This house tends to stay cool inside until the really, really hot and very humid heat of summer hits and then, it stays warm with no respite coming forth -or so it seems. Wish it could hold that heat over to the dead of winter so our fuel bills wouldn't be so high!)

Mandy just left to run to the laundromat to wash up some of the comforters from the double beds. They won't fit into the our washer here so she'll get them washed there, then bring 'em home and hang 'em on the line to dry -get that nice "fresh air" smell to them then that way.

We have a new addition here to our family. They arrived Thursday afternoon and into the early evening hours as Nina -my son's cat -had her litter of kittens! We had him bring Nina here two weeks ago because it was quite obvious she was due to deliver any time and with my son being on the road for 5-6 days at a clip sometimes, just thought it would be better for Nina to be here with people to look after her a tad -and look after her new babies a bit too.

Nina is the orange cat we had for about a year -until Bill found Jorge, the stray that was hanging around the garage where he used to work part-time last winter and he brought her home. At that time, we also still had Gracie -our beloved old (16 years) and Nina so really didn't need a third cat to tend to and my son, lover of cats that he is, said he would take Nina up to his house to live. Thankfully, cats can survive on their own, so to speak, fairly decently and we would stop up at his house frequently to make sure her food and water dishes were cared for along with an occasional cleaning out of the litter box too.

So anyway, this past Thursday afternoon, Nina quietly gave birth to four little kittens -one is a tan-orange shade, another is orange like Nina and then the other two are buff color. All are really cute as newborn kittens go though. Coming from me, that's quite a complement as I've not been known to be a big fan of orange cats -mainly because two different Tomcats we've had here over the years -both orange -were the meanest, most contrary cats I've ever seen! I know, shouldn't judge 'em all by the actions of a handful applies to cats as well as people, doesn't it?

One thing rather odd though that Mandy noticed last night is that two of the kittens have the "normal" long, pointy kind of tails but two of them have short tails, almost stubs, really as tails go. I've never noticed any little kittens with tails like that before. Anyone know if that means anything or what?

Now, joy-joy, you know -in probably another month or so, no doubt we'll have yet another litter of kittens arriving here once more as we're fairly certain that little Chino -one of the kits from the litter Jorge had last May that we kep -will probably be having her babies then. I think she's pregnant anyway. She was making some of those lovely noises that cats in heat make about 5-6 weeks ago and we were trying to make sure she didn't get out of the house but one night, she did manage to scoot out the front door and didn't return (disappeared into the dark of night, she did) for several hours but since then, she's been back to being her regular very quiet self -rarely meows at all! So I'd say she managed to "cure" her ailments when she escaped that night, wouldn't you?

Now, on to other things, non-cat related.

Kurtis is picking up more and more words almost daily it seems. This morning, Mandy was down in the basement and the phone rang. I answered it and as it was for her, I called out her name only to hear an echo by my side. There was Kurtis, looking towards the cellar door and saying quite loudly too, "Mandy!" I told him to go call for Mandy again and he repeated it! Yes, indeed he did! It was a good friend of Mandy's on the line and I heard her asking me if that was Kurtis talking in the background, calling Mandy's name. Yes, it was I'd told her and then asked -rather reduntantly really -if she'd heard him over the phone then and she said she'd heard him, loud and clear!

The vocabulary and comprehension thing is something to behold at times. Most kids by the age of three know the names -or have some derivative of the names of people closest to them, in their own household by that time. Kurtis knows all the significant people in his life -parents, siblings, aunts/un cles, cousins, grandparents -to see them. (Well all but his maternal grandfather who he hasn't seen since he was about 5-6 weeks old cause that grandpa lives in Nevada and doesn't get back east to visit all that often, ya know.) But even though we know he knows each of us, he doesn't generally use any "names" for people here -except to say "Daddy" and that he calls Mandy, "Unny" (his version of saying "Honey.)" Rarely does he say anything sort of resembling Grammie except once in a blue moon, if asked, he might say "AA-Nie" which we gather must be his pronunciation of Grammie, since he looks directly at me when he says that. Maya, he will now and then call her "Nia" which is funny because when she first started to talk and if asked what her name was, she would say it was "Nia." It's all pretty much a big go-figure at this point in time though.

But, this morning, in addidtion to Kurtis saying "Mandy" and very clearly too, when Mandy left to run to the laundromat, I was braced for an onslaught of lots of crying and screaming, wailing and gnashing of the teeth kind of behavior which is the norm for him when she leaves the house but surprisingly enough, neither he -nor Maya -even so much as blinked an eye over Mandy's departure today!

Yeah, I know -this may be a one-time shot in the dark kind deal and the next time Mandy even so much as heads to the basement he might break out into a major hissy fit but dang, it was exciting as all get out today to see him react in such a positive way. Hope -just around the corner every day ya know.

Or -to cite the old advertising slogan of General Electric's from many years ago -"GE -Progress is our most important product." and even if it is only a one-time happening for now, it's still counted as progress in my book!

Peace -and have a great weekend wherever you may be!

April is Autism Awareness Month.

Friday, April 24, 2009

See Ya!


Don't let the title of this post fool you. No, I'm not going any place -well, at least probably not any place any further than the local Walmart anyway. But this is my "Only The Good Friday" piece for this week.

Finally, my Jeep is fixed. Well, almost fixed that is. It's back home tonight anyway and that's some good news, some progress. My son-in-law had it in his garage for the past two weeks and two days to work on doing a head gasket job on the old buggy. He ran into problems with a couple of things which is why it took two weeks to get it back together. First off, his friend who had been helping him from time to time at the garage apparently decided he needed a bit of a break from working and disappeared for about a week which left it to the SIL to do all his regular mechanic work plus find time to piddle with my jeep too, all by his lonesome. Then, twice he ran into problems with parts. First, the parts he ordered two weeks ago, when they arrived, they were not the correct parts so they had to go back and the correct parts ordered. It turns out for this particular unit, the parts needed were special order, so that took a bit more time as well.

But finally, this evening he brought it home and says it is running great now. Still has a couple of other things that need to be fixed -like the light on the dash that registers that the jeep is in part-time 4-wheel drive when it really isn't. Initially, SIL thought this was merely a sensor problem but he has decided after checking it out a bit more that it is a little more complicated than that and he wants to get that corrected asap -probably early next week.

I'm just hoping that repair won't be one that is expensive because it is getting near to the end of the month and I'd like to -hopefully -finish out the month with at least a couple of bucks left in my checking account to start out next month on a semi-positive note.

Next month is going to be a bad month, money-wise and I have the lovely social security department as well as the State of Pennsylvania to thank for that.

Remember, back in January, the SSA announced that retirees and those -like myself -who receive social security due to disability -would be getting a large increase in their monthly checks. My check in January -as well as the past three months since then -increased by a whopping $62 a month! A nice little increase, to be sure. However, in February I received notification from the State that because of the increase to my social security payment, my income level now exceeded the amount the state allowed for them to make my medicare payment -which is $92 a month to Social Security and therefore, my Social Security would have that $92 a month deducted from it henceforth.

Well, they never took it out in February, March nor April but about two weeks ago or so, I received a notice from Social Security stating that my allotment that would arrive in May would have $300 deducted from it to make those payments that had not previously been deducted from my check!

Now, it will be a tight squeeze for me to manage what bills I pay here with having that much money taken off the top, but yet, I have to say I am fortunate in that with Mandy and Bill (and the kids) living here, they cover the bulk of the months expenses so I won't go into hock because of this one-month, one-time, reduction in my check.

But I think about others across the country who are not near as fortunate as I am in this respect -those who have bills -rent, utilities, medicine, food, you name it -and it was already a tight squeeze for them to survive even after we got the raise in our checks but to have a three-month payment to medicare deducted all at once? Boy, that is going to be really hard on a whole lot of people.

What gets me about this raise that took me over the income limitation level for the state to pay my medicare payment is that now, after the medicare payment for one month is deducted from my check, what will be deposited in my account will be an amount that will be less that what I received three years ago from Social Security!

So much for getting a nice raise of $62 a month that leaves you with $36 a month to come and go on, huh?

Ah, government! Gotta love it, don't 'cha?

Tuesday evening, I started reading the book my older daughter gave me for Christmas and boy, I have to tell you all about this book. It's wonderful!
This is it! Written by Harry Bernstein, this book, 'The Invisible Wall" is one of the very best books I have ever read! It covers the first twelve years in the life of Jewish book in the mill town of Manchester, England from his earliest memories at about age four until he was about 12 years old, and it covers the era of World War I. Yes, you read that correctly. This is not an old book, recently brought back to life either. It was written by Mr. Bernstein, after the death of his wife of 67 years when he was 93 years old!

Mr. Bernstein will be 99 on May 30th of this year and according to information I found online about him, he is still writing! He has another book already published too -"The Dream" which is about his life and his family after they immigrated to the United States in 1922.

The main premise of the book I read though is the prejudices that existed during his early life in England between the Christians and the Jews.

It is truly a fascinating story, and even has a love story woven in to his autobiography. The fact that he was in his 90s before he wrote this book, makes it all that much more incredible as well.

And, as I read it, so many of the events of his life surprisingly mirrored events of my own childhood, growing up here in this little coal mining village in central Pennsylvania because even in the 50s and early 60s, the prejudices that began with the early immigrants to this place from Sweden and Slovakia were still "alive and functioning" still then. Those prejudices didn't really start to dissipate here until the mid-70s. Old habits truly do die hard, don't they?

So, if you haven't already read Mr. Bernstein's first book, take my advice and get yourself a copy of it and settle back for a very interesting story. You will never regret it!

Now, to explain the title of this post.

The speech therapist who had worked with Maya from the time she was about 21 months old until she was almost four and started going to the preschool program two years ago, and who two months after the speech therapy she provided Maya ended, she returned to provide speech therapy to Kurtis for the past 18 months is no longer with us as Kurt's therapist.

It was, indeed, a sad day last Tuesday when we said "Goodbye" to her because she had become very much a part of our family. Due to the regulations of the Agency that provides the therapists for the kids, she only works with the early-childhood intervention team children so once a child reaches age three, her services are terminated. But the speech therapy isn't finished -just that we now get a new therapist to work with Kurtis until he begins attending the pre-school program like Maya did -which will begin for him sometime in June of this year.

So anyway, he -Kurtis, that is -had met his new therapist two times before she came to the house today to begin working with him. He was friendly with her, worked quite well with her today as a matter of fact. And when she went to leave, she made a big fuss over him, telling him "Bye bye" and "See ya" and waving to him. Finally, he did wave to her and said "See ya." And she left.

She had no more closed the door and started walking to her car when he piped up and said, "See ya, Roxanne!"

Now the fact that he said "See ya" after she was gone is not unusual. It is a bit unusual for him to say it directly to the person leaving. But the fact that when she left he said that and included her first name -well, that really blew Mandy, me and Sam -his TSS -away today!

I can't wait till she comes back next week and we can tell her what he said immediately after she left. I'm sure she will be pretty flabbergasted by that achievement, as much as we were!

So many things -and so varied too -that affected me this week -as well as all the time too -and for which I can see "Only the Good" with each of them.

First, that my son-in-law is a mechanic and got the work done on my jeep for much less cash outlay than I would have needed if someone else had done the job. Saving a bunch of money to maintain one's transportation and thus, a bit of independence too, is a darned good thing. Being able to receive Social Security Disability -well, it's kind of a double edged sword in that I would much rather be able to have a job and go to work five days a week but my body has deteriorated a bit too much for me to manage that so having that bit of income -you betcha that's a good thing, isn't it?

Having a daughter who thought about what book she figured her Mother would enjoy reading and gave that book to me as part of my Christmas gift -knowing how much I do enjoy reading -is an wonderful gift to receive. Carrie, I am truly grateful that you gave me this book and I hope you have already read it too but if not, you can borrow the book you gave me to sit back and enjoy this lovely story. That is as soon as Mandy reads it and also, your brother -as I told both of them that they HAVE to read this book, absolutely have to do it! Just being able to read is such a blessing and one that far to many people don't realize the joy, the value that comes with reading, with discovering a fascinating story through books -or magazines -or newspapers and such! I am very blessed that reading is such a favorite past time of mine.

And finally, that little surprise the grandson provided us today as he waved and said "See ya, Roxanne" is such an excellent thing to receive and something that ranks really high on my "Only the Good" list for this week!

Now, take a look at this -This Eclectic Life which is written by the lovely Shelley Tucker and it was Shelley's idea to start this weekly event for bloggers who want to participate in the "Only The Good Friday" and maybe you'll decided you'd like to do a post about your "Only the Good" things too!

Don't forget that April is Autism Awareness month too.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Books, Hooks, Needles, Craft and Kids

As promised yesterday, I'm gonna give you a view into what I've been doing the past couple of weeks -along with a look at some stuff I made a couple years back too. Nothing fancy in this mix - just some of the stuff I enjoy making from time to time.

First -some books!
This is the book I read last week -started it Wednesday night and finished it Friday morning. The author, John Grogan, is a columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer and I actually had the pleasure of speaking with him on the telephone about 4 years ago this coming August! He had written a column about a pay raise our legislators rammed through their last session of the summer that gave, at a minimum, an $11,0000 per year raise to each and every representative and senator in Harrisburg. Many got even higher raises depending on their status in the House. Through his column, I got information about a grassroots organization called PaCleansweep.com, organized by Russ Diamond of Lebanon, PA and run strictly via a website that I joined. So I had e-mailed a note to Mr. Grogan to thank him for the information and he in turn, decided to telephone me, mainly to learn where on earth this town called Grassflat, Penna. is located! For the next ten months or so, I became very familiar with Mr. Grogan's columns pertaining to the infamous pay raise and enjoyed reading every one of 'em too -along with many other columns he had written as well.

Last summer, Mandy and I both read the book, "Marley and Me" by Mr. Grogan and we both loved it. We passed our copy on to my son and Mandy bought another copy of the book to give to my grandson, Alexander, for his 11th birthday too! So at Christmas, when I told my kids they could get me books and/or embroidery projects, Mandy got the above book, as well as the one by President Obama, "Dreams From My Father," which I have not yet begun to read.

But this book -"The Longest Trip Home" deals with Mr. Grogan's life, growing up in the Detroit area, the son of very strong Catholic parents and how over the years, he fell away from his religion but eventually kind of relocated it. Just a really great family story about love and faith unbounded.

Here's the other book I started back in July of last year and which kind of got pushed aside as I went on my major tear of creating one embroidered item after the other between mid-August and Christmas!
Charles Frazier, the author of this book, also wrote "Cold Mountain." The above book is a fictionalized account of the life of a man living in the southern states -probably Tennessee or perhaps Georgia and much of it pertains to the relocation of the native Americans from that region and the era often referred to as the "Trail of Tears." I enjoyed this book a lot primarily because I like to read fiction (and occasionally non-fiction) about the early history of this country. I think anyone with interests in the early history of the United States or reading about the relocation of the Native Americans would most likely also enjoy this book very much too.

Now -on to some craft stuff!
Here's the counted cross stitch picture I did and surprisingly enough, I didn't go completely berserk working on it! Although, when I opened it to start work on it, I was really surprised at the size. This picture is 11x14 inches and I was expecting it to be a 5x7 picture! Don't look too closely at the stitching here though because on this -as well as most everything I do -you're bound to find some errors. I was just pleased that this turned out as nicely as it did and that I didn't go cross-eyed or completely blind or totally nuts cause counted cross stitch usually does that to me.
A cross stiched pillow case set -standard size. I don't do the queen or king size pillowcases mainly because I don't know what size pillowcases others may have (if I use these as gifts) and I figure most people usually will have at least one set of standard pillow in use someplace.
Here's the other set of pillowcases I completed. This is called "Pansy Parade" if I recall correctly -or maybe it is "Pansy Patch" but whatever, it's pansy something or other! (This set is also a standard size and done in cross stitch.)
Ah -a few more pansies except this is a set of two terry cloth hand towel, done in cross stitch.
And here's another set of two hand towels -flowers and butterflys but these are done in regular embroidery as opposed to cross stitching. (Kurtis loves to look at the butterflys on these towels and to do a bit of touchy-feeling over the embroidery work.)

And that's the end of my embroidery stuff done in March and April of this year.

Now -on to the four scarves I knitted over the weekend. These are fairly long - the three-color one is very long, like about 84 inches I think whereas the other three are maybe 5 or 6 foot at most. I put each one around a beige jacket of Mandy's to try to give a little idea of how they look when being worn.
This scarf is made with eyelash yarn but I can't remember now the name of the yarn. This one is a dark brown with gold metallic flecks in it and though this yarn is eyelash and soft, it also has a bit of a stiffness to it -probably due to the strand of metallic flecked thread that is intertwined with it.
Another scarf of the eyelash yarn with the metallic threading but this one is in a really deep plum color and has pink metallic threading in it. Depending on the light, sometimes the color of this yarn looks almost like a dark brown with a bit of a purplish overcast to it.
The yarn in this three-color scarf is Lion Brand's Fun Fur Stripes and it's supposed to automatically knit up into bands of stripes, all the same size. Yeah, it does that but the directions only called for two skeins of the yarn and I noticed that the starting color of the second skein didn't begin exactly like the first skein had but still, it worked up okay. This yarn is very light-weight, soft, very fluffy feeling but they do provide a whole lot of warmth on a cold, wintry day. I have several scarves in various yarns and colors that I made for myself and I can definitely attest to the warmth of these things!
Here's the last of the four scarves I finished. This one is made with Lion Brand's FunFetti yarn and I love scarves made from this yarn! I have one I made for myself that is red -bright red -with the multi-colored "confetti" -and boy, it really is a great scarf, a bit heavier in weight than the fun fur or even the eyelash yarn with the metallic threading and it stays in place really nicely too!

I got hooked (no pun intended) on these scarves about four years ago when my late Aunt Mary sent a package to my girls and me containing four beautiful scarves made of the fun fur. Aunt Mary was a fantastic knitter and her handiwork was also always perfection, for sure! But when I phoned her to ask about how she made these scarves, she told me that they are a very simple pattern, using very few stitches and done completely in the garter stitch -which, as far as knitting goes, I tend to not like to work the garter stitch. Don't ask me why, but for some reason or other, it tends to confuse me at times. But this yarn and the garter stitch -well they work up relatively fast (as knitted projects go -a really experienced knitter could probably knock a scarf out in an hour, two hours at the most but they tend to take me 3-4 hours to do one scarf.)

Since I had the camera out and was taking some craft item photos, I decided to show you a couple other scarves I have made. (I should have a fairly large plastic bag containing about 10-15 other scarves but right now, I can locate it!)

Here's six of the scarves I made probably 2-3 years ago. THe red one on the left side is like one I made for myself with the FunFetti yarn except this one here is shorter as are all six of these scarves. I think the longest these are would be 3-4 foot in length. The blue scarf, purple scarf and brown scarf are all made using Lion Brand Fun Fur. THe black scarf with red splotches (sort of) is made from a combination of Boa yarn and I think knitted with a skein of red fun fur. THe last scarf on the right is a yarn I think by Jai Alai but I don't remember the name of the yarn itself just that it is a combination or verigate of red, black and grey. I wasn't really happy with that particular yarn after it was knitted up though -just didn't look as nice as I thought the fun fur and the fun fetti yarns looked when finished.

Here's some pictures of projects I made about 10 years ago when I was on a kick -sewing vests -most of them reversible -for women and children. These vests are all children's vests.









This is the front and back of a child's vest -probably a size 8-10. The design is a country design in school print. This one was one of my favorites.




This vest -a really neat country teddy bear print -was also available in adult sizes too. With the coordinating fabric, when finished, these vests were totally reversible and really cute.





This vest -front and back, shown here -is a size 6-8, and a really cute print for a little girl too! I wish I could find fabric with vests like these pre-printed and then get coordinating material to use for the linings too as I'd love to make some of these vests in several different styles and prints for Maya.



This is the last of the children's vests that I happened to have handy to show you tonight. I figure you really don't want me to go through my complete stockpile of vests in adult women's sizes as well as the ones I have in the children's sizes too now, do you?
But this one shown here is a Noah's Ark print and was really sweet! It was one that actually sold whereas apparently the others just didn't appeal that much to the folks who used to like these kind of clothing items for their little girls.
The way the Noah's Ark vest is cut, it is a size 6-8 but doesn't look quite as large or loose on Maya as does the red print vest which is also a size 6-8 so I'm hoping that perhaps come fall, when Maya starts kindergarten, at least the Noah's Ark vest might become part of her wardrobe at that time.

There you have it -enough photos of craft stuff to probably have long ago put all of you to sleep!

I'm going to have to work on getting a bit of elbow room in my bedroom so I can get to my sewing machine as I have a request from a lady at our church to make four aprons for her and her mother-in-law. She bought the fabric -that way she will get the material of her choice and I will use the standard "butcher apron" pattern I always use for the aprons I make. Once I get them done, I also have a pretty good sized stock pile of fingertip and terry printed tee towels that I plan to make bibs out of then. I make the bigs with a rib trimmed neckline so they just pull over the baby or toddler's head and then, they cover a whole lot of the child and their clothing that way! Easy to wear, easy to launder, wear like iron and also, very easy to make too! And depending on what's available in the printed tee towels or fingertip towels, sometimes I can find some really adorable or comical prints to use too!

Now, I've about put myself to sleep with all these photos so I think I will toddle off to beddy bye for the night!

Peace and Happy Crafting or Embroiderying, or Knitting, or Sewing. Whatever!

My Apologies


I'm really behind tonight -mainly because the past 4-5 days I have been busy doing something besides blogging and embroidery. I read a book -one that Mandy got me for Christmas and it's one I would highly recommend to anyone too! Written by John Grogan -the Columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer and also the author o f the bestseller -"Marley and Me" (from which the movie was taken) and it's about his life, growing up and his relationship with his parents, especially with his father. Although there are many humorous parts in this book, it isn't funny as "Marley and Me" is, but it is gentle humor, often self-deprecating and just enough to keep the story going with a lot of interest in his family.

Besides reading that book, I crocheted two little dish scrubbies -just as an experiment really cause my crochet abilities generally lend themselves mainly to making things like baby afghans or every once in a blue moon, a full sized afghan. I'm not all that great at reading crochet instructions, ya see.

And then, I got on a kick to do some knitting too and I finished three boa type scarves, working on a fourth one now. These are made from yarn called "eyelash yarn" and I love to make these -love to wear 'em too!

Oh and I did finish another embroidery project as well -a set of terry-cloth hand towels.

As soon as I get my act caught up on my blog reading, get a few photos transferred over and such, I'll post some photos then in the near future with pictures of my latest craft endeavors.

So, if I haven't been by your place to read your latest post, hang in there, I'm working my way through a long list of posts to be read and I'll get there -hopefully soon too.

Monday night (yesterday now,) Mandy and the kids and I went to State College for supper at TGIF's (Thank Goodness Its Fridays). We met up with several of Mandy's friends from the autism support group as we all had coupons through the Easter Seal Society for an Autism Family Dinner night! Mandy and I had to pay for our meals but the kids got their meals free. I thought that was a pretty nice gesture on the part of the restaurant through the Easter Seal Socieyt and they had one section of the restaurant set aside for anyone with an autistic family member by designating the tables and booths with three balloons tied to each booth or table. THe kids loved it! Both of 'em even ate their meals very nicely too! Because they have macaroni and cheese on the kiddy menu there, Mandy and I both figured Maya would want that but she surprised us by ordering the cheeseburger and for her side dish, she chose to have a tossed salad with ranch dressing. The salad was really a big shocker to us and even more so when she ate almost every bite of it too!

Kurtis gave us a little surprise as well at the restaurant. Mandy had ordered an appetizer -salsa-type chips with spinach dip -and Kurtis ate the chips and even ate the dip too! This is the child who normally will turn his head and push (even throw) anything that even slightly looks like it may contain a vegetable so to see him eating these chips with the spinach dip was quite a surprise to us. Then, after he finished eating, he managed to grab Maya's cup with a straw in it (just water in the cup but Kurtis didn't know that) and he tried his level best to drink out of the cup using the straw! For him to try to drink anything that isn't served to him via his bottle -and isn't white milk too -is a recipe for disaster usually involving his pitching of a major fit and possibly throwing the item if he gets the chance at doing that. But tonight, he tried, really tried, to get a drink from that cup and using the straw. Gives us renewed hope that someday -possibly soon -we'll be able to see him graduate from using a bottle to a sippy cup!

The other thing I'm apologizing for tonight is that I have had to make a change to my blog and if you leave a comment, you'll see what I mean. I had to reinstate the word verification once again.

This was necessitated today because my blog got hit by not one but three spam comments -all about viagra! Just the thing that I know everyone wants to read a big blurb about, don't 'cha? From reading blogs this a.m., I saw that I wasn't the only one to get hit by this type of action nor was I the only one who decided to counter by enabling word verification either. Blogger Lime was hit even harder -way harder -than I was in that she recieved 13 comments of the spam variety!!!

What really ticked me off about this particular episode of the spam comments was that when I went to my sitemeter to try to see where (geographically) the commenter is located, there was no record on my sitemeter of this person's having visited my blog! So, I whipped off a little note of inquiry to Sitemeter asking how this could be. THeir response was that perhaps it had come from someone reading my blog via a reader and commenting from that. However, I know several people who use reader to read my blog and they always have to go to my blog and enter it (as I have to do when I leave a comment on any blogs I have on my reader) so that leaves a "footprint" then on my sitemeter and I can tell when then have been visiting that way. I've gone back through 4-5 days worth of records on my sitemeter and could find no evidence whatsover of when/how this spam blogger/commenter had visited. However, the person who had commented did have a blog and the name showing -highlighted -in my e-mail about the comments led me back to his(her) blog which with no posts whatsoever on it and it being a new blog -just set up within the past month -leads me to believe the person who did, is doing this, is just that -a spam blogger only! So I did take some actions from that point of notifying Blogger about this particular blogger. Maybe they will shut him down or at least cut him off at the pass for a day or two -or more!

I'll be back soon -I hope -with a post and also with photos of my projects too!

In the mean time, don't forget this is still Autism Awareness month too.

Oh -and one more thing, before I forget - the news on Mandy and Clate's friend -Lacey -who had the kidney transplant last week is still all very good! As a matter of fact, she came home from Pittsburgh sometime over the weekend -has to go back this week for her first out-patient type checkup with the surgeon but overall, she'd doing great!

So I'll close this out with that -on a positive note!

As Suldog would say here in closing -"Back soon with better stuff!" Well, I can't compete with him on the better stuff, but I can say I'll be back again soon, I hope!

Peace!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Another Friday

Some will say it's just another Friday or perhaps, those working and heading into a big weekend will comment, "TGIF." Thank goodness it's Friday. True enough perhaps whether you're still part of the working community or retired or whatever.

Thank goodness it's Friday in Blogland means finding the good things in life, being optimistic whenever, wherever possible, according the my friend, Shelly Tucker who started the "Only The Good Friday" blog event. Today, those who subscribe to this are to blog about things that make them or help them to keep a positive attitude.

I've had a lot of things going on in my life of late -and yet, I haven't really got that many things accomplished. Why is that? Mainly because for a little over a week now it's been a daily struggle to stay awake. Granted, Kurtis and his nighttime issues are responsible for one, maybe two of the days when I was extra tired but overall, of late, he's been doing much better with his sleep patterns. And even though he had me up for several hours Wednesday night into Thursday morning, the fact he was being extremely pleasant, wanting to converse (although I have to confess there's a whole heck of a lot of his vocabulary that none of us has figured out as yet) and generally being a little sweetheart. All too often, his wakeups in the middle of the night have been difficult to deal with as he would cry and scream much of the time till he'd finally fall back to sleep, exhausted. So, considering how considerate he was the other night on my eardrums, I'm counting this in the "Good" column.

This past Monday was a big event here for us and especially for Kurtis as it was his third birthday. I didn't get the pictures I took of him, with his cake and all downloaded till Thursday and I really don't have a clue what my holdup was on doing that either. Just the normal procrastination or forgetfulness I guess. But I have them now and ready to share a couple with you too!

Here's a little glimpse of the birthday cake I made him. I should have taken a picture of it before we cut into it but well, you all know by now I am more than a bit forgetful at times. It was a homemade "Scratch" cake and the name of the recipe is Wellesley Chocolate Cake. I don't know the significance in the name there but I will say this much, it's a very good chocolate cake recipe -easy, no sour cream or buttermilk or other ingredients one may not have on hand. I've never had a problem with this recipe at all. And the icing -beaten icing with two egg whites and one and a fourth cups of white corn syrup, heated to boiling and then poured slowly into the beaten egg whites and then whipped for about 7-8 minutes. Yummy and very, very gooey too!




video

He really was comical as he started out trying to use his fork to eat the cake and just couldn't manage to spear the cake and get it in his mouth. So he decided then to use the tried and true method -hand to cake and then to mouth, which worked great except for the crumbs and icing smeared all around his face as a result. But seeing the enjoyment on his face -all the money in the world wouldn't be enough payment for that pleasure!

It's been a boring week though with respect to mealtime as we had ham for dinner Sunday with way too much of it leftover then and how many different ways can you think of to fix leftover ham anyway? Adding to that problem is the fact that neither Kurtis nor Maya will eat much in the way of meats -mainly chicken fingers or various things with hamburger and pasta, macaroni and cheese, that kind of stuff so although Mandy, Bill and I did have some nice chef salad's using the ham one night this week, another night, Mandy heated up the ham, leftover potatoes and gravy but that still left a whole lot of ham that would go to waste if I didn't come up with a recipe for something else to use up some more of the ham.

Yesterday, I decided to make ham and bean soup -with a little potato tossed in, along with some leftover plain cooked noodles and a surprise -a little dabble of shredded cabbage meant mainly to be used for coleslaw. Because the ham I had cooked for dinner Sunday was boneless, it had very little broth to it so I also used some ham base to make the broth. Surprisingly enough, the soup turned out very good -Mandy loved it, I enjoyed it a lot too and even Kurtis and Maya both ate some of it -which was a bit of a huge surprise to me since they normally wouldn't touch something with that mixture of ingredients in it with a ten foot pole. (I never told anyone about having added the little bit of shredded cabbage, so mum's the word on that part!) But the fact that both of them actually tried something this different and even ate a little of it beyond one tiny taste, I really am counting that as a very good thing!

I think one of the reasons I may be so sleepy -really, really tired -the past week now is because of the medication I am taking. I decided last week that I definitely have to do something to try to stop smoking so I started taking the Chantix again. (I used it for about 2-3 weeks last year but had to discontinue it then because I got sick -totally unrelated illness -and was on two really powerful drugs for the other issue and was afraid of mixing the Chantix with them at that time.

I've given a lot of thought to giving up the cigarettes. I know, for my health alone, I should quit -actually should never have started in the first place but should certainly have never restarted after I quit for about 3-4 months a little over ten years ago. But all that is irrelevant, water under the bridge. Now that the government has increased the cost yet again, I have given even more thought to the idea of stopping. For someone like myself, who has smoked for 46 years now, quitting is no easy proposition, for sure. Cigarettes have become my closest friend in times of need. To any of you who have never tried smoking, never become close to being addicted, you won't understand that statement. Only those who have ever been addicted to nicotine and probably any other substance, would most likely be able to relate to that type of an attachment, but truly, that is how it feels. They've been my comfort zone. In times when I was in physical pain -especially when I broke my wrist and much later, when I had two herniated discs, a cigarette would soothe, take my mind off the pain almost as much as the pain killers I was taking did. They've also been a reliever/comforter with respect to other pain -of the emotional sort -during times of stress with my ex-husband, later with my kids, etc. And someone who has provided a form of comfort -care, almost -at times like that, well, it only adds to the difficulty.

I haven't quit completely -not as yet. I'm working my way up to that status. But I have cut my intake almost completely in half and that, for me, I take as a very good thing!

But in addition to the Chantix, because my nerves are also a bit frazzled due to my son's issues and that his preliminary hearing will be next Wednesday, I'm also taking Xanax to try to keep me on a slightly level plane there too. It does help -a lot -but I think the two combined are what's making me so darned sleepy all the time.

But then again -isn't that a good thing too? After all, if I'm sleeping, I can't be smoking, can I? Maybe the intent is to have the individual sleep away the early days of smoking cessation to help get over the terrible cravings involved there. Whatever the reason, I'll take it and try to enjoy all the extra nap time I'm getting in the process.

There is another slight drawback to all the extra sleeping thing though and that's my embroidery projects are taking a hit cause I can't stay awake long enough to make much progress on them. But, considering I'm not under a lot of pressure to get anything of those items finished quickly - Christmas is a good ways off ya know -I don't think it will suffer all that much, do you?

And finally, what would Easter have been if little girls didn't get a pretty new dress for the occasion -especially a pretty little girl like my Miss Maya? So, here's Maya, showing off her new Easter dress and really looking very much like a little princess in it too!
Okay -a slightly surprised little Easter Princess, perhaps?
And this was Kurt's reaction upon seeing his Easter basket with some candies in it but mostly little toys and some new tee shirts -stuff like that instead of just candy. Although he and Maya still managed to ingest more than enough candy and chocolate on Sunday that it threw both of them into being extra stimulated and massive meltdowns then ensued from each of them! The good there is the reminder of "everything in moderation!"

And that's pretty much what's been happening here this week. Enough that I think I have plenty of things listed here and lots and lots of others that can be counted as Only The Good, don't you?

Now, if you feel like joining in the "Only The Good Friday" event, stop by Shelly's place and sign up for it. It's a great way to turn things around in your mind to finding good in everything!

Hope you all had a great week and an even better one ahead.

Just remember one thing - "It's all good!"

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Saved -Another Life!

My family and I received some news yesterday that was good news but still scary.

A close friend of Mandy's was enroute to a hospital in Pittsburgh, about to undergo a kidney transplant. A match had finally been found for her, the kidney was available. All that remained was for her to get there and have the surgery then wait to see how things transpired after that.

She -the recipient -called my son this morning to report to him that they surgery was done -all had gone well -and she was doing fine this morning!

Hip hip hooray, Hallelujah and Amen, ten times over (at least) again, Amen!

Lacey has been receiving dialysis for at least the past three years now. A young mother of two children, tiny in stature to begin with, she was down to next to nothing lately. It was becoming more and more imperative that a donor be located for her as soon as possible.

About two months ago, my son had decided he wanted to try to donate a kidney to her. He went through part of the testing process but was then eliminated as he wasn't a match for her.

So, it was back to the drawing boards once again for her and waiting. And waiting.

Until yesterday when she got the call to report to the hospital as they had a kidney for her and it appeared to be a good match.

Sadly, the family also learned that this kidney came from a gentleman who had just recently signed up as an organ donor and had taken his own life.
That one had died to restore life to Lacey is the difficult aspect of this process.

But the fact that person had thought enough in advance to designate what could be used of his body in order that another person would regain their health, live for how many years to come is the beautiful part of that man's life.

He's restored a mother to two children, a daughter to a mother, sister to a brother and life itself, with all the promises that come with that, to Lacey!

God bless you, whoever you were and may God be with your family and friends. May they know what a wonderful gift you bestowed on others and that will resonate for many years to come with Lacey, her family, her childre especially as well as with her many friends.

I know Lacey is not out of the woods yet -far from it -but at least one day after the transplant, she says all is functioning fine and she's doing great. All of us here just hope and pray that her healing continues on a good plane.

And God bless those wonderful doctors down in Pittsburgh too!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Autism Support Dog Denied Entrance


For the past several months, one of the bloggers on my favorites list -Michelle at Full- Soul- Ahead has been writing about the efforts she, her family and friends, have been involved in trying to secure a support dog for her daughter, Riley. Riley has Asperger's Syndrome, which is on the Autism Spectrum.

Recently, in the neighboring school district to ours, a mother of an 8-year-old boy with Autism recently was able -thanks to several fund-raising events in the area - to acquire a support dog for her son, Austin. However, since the acquisition of the dog, the school district where her son attends has denied admittance of the dog to come to school with her son.

Yesterday, our local newspaper did an article about the dog, the school's refusal to allow the dog to come with the boy. Since our local paper doesn't have a strong online presence, I transcribed the article and am posting the entire piece here.

I personally do not understand why the school can not see how beneficial this dog would be for the boy to have her with him during school. If it was something recommended for him by his therapists, possibly psychologists and/or psychiatrists as well, then I would think that would or should be enough for the school to go by and to allow the dog to attend with Austin. (After all, if it were a seeing-eye dog, would that be contested based on "educational need" as the school appears to be using as their excuse for not allowing the dog in there.

Here then is the article. Any comments? Feel very free to leave them on my blog or contact me via e-mail.

Taken from The Clearfield Progress, Monday, April 13, 2009

BOY'S SERVICE DOG NOT PERMITTED IN P-O SCHOOLS
By Timothy Nebgen, Staff Writer
WEST DECATUR --Man's best friend is seemingly no friend of administrators at
Philipsburg-Osceola Area School District, who have denied Rosie, the certified service dog of 8-year-old Austin Lauder, access to North Lincoln Hill Elementary School.

In a Jan. 19 letter, signed by district Superintendent Charles Young and Special Education Supervisor Pamela Stone, the district informed Austin's mother, Michelle Frye of West Decatur, that Rosie is not permitted in the school because "discussions are continuing to establish the educational need for this type of support."

In December, The Progress reported on Ms. Frye's efforts to raise money to bring Rosie to Pennsylvania. At the time, the 2-year-old Labrador retriever was already undergoing special training to help Austin, who was diagnosed with autism at age 2, develop his social skills and physically blog self-injuring behaviors he had begun to manifest.

"The people in this town were very giving," said Ms. Frye, who explained that in total she was able to raise nearly $10,000. She said several people called to pledge donattions after the article appeared in The Progress in Decemberand that Austin was also selected to receive a "wish" from a Christmas Carol program sponsored by another local media outlet. That turned out to be a $5,000 contribution that helped pay the remaining balance on the purchase of the animal and permitted the handler to make the trip from California to Pennsylvania and stay the night at the Harbor Inn before returning home.

"(Rosie is) working out very well," Ms. Frye said of the family's new addition. She said there has been a noticeable reduction in the amount of time Austin spends interacting with his hands, which he had begun referring to as "Vince" and "Oobi." It is common for autistic children to engage in some sort of self-stimulatory behavior such as Austin's, but Ms. Frye became concerned when "Vince" and "Oobi," who were initially friends of Autsin, turned against him and caused Austin to being physically abusing himself.

In addition to a decrease in the self-stimulatory interaction and self-abuse, Austin has also begun to engage in more social interaction, introducing everyone to "his Rosie."Ms. Frye admitted she would not have hesitated to bring Rosie into her home even if she had known the district would not permit her in the school. She is confused, however, by administrators' current stand on the issue.

"What baffles me is how supportive they were in the beginning," she said. She explained in December that faculty and staff at the district chipped in by sponsoring a caual dress day, where faculty and staff paid for the opportunity to wear casual attire. They were able to raise $300 by those means, and the high school also donated half the proceeds of a Chinese auction to the cause, bringin the total funds raised by the school district to $1,000.

"I even have a picture of Mr. Patrick Hockey and Mr. RObert Rocco at the rock concert," she said. As such, she said it was something of a shock when she received the letter a day before Rosie was set to arrive.

The Progress spoke briefly with board member Stephen Switala, who explained the board had been advised by its solicitor, Patrick Fanelli of Andrews & Beard Law Offices, not to comment on the matter.

Mr. Fanelli spoke the The Progress and said the district's current standpoint is not an outright refusal to admit the animal into the building. He said he regretted that he could not get into the specifics of Austin's case owing to the district's obligation to maintain the confidentiality of its students. But, he explained the district is required by law to follow certain procedures to determine the educational need for having the animal in the
building. Mr. Mr. Fanelli said his and the district's current stand is that procedures have yet to be completed and Rosie is not permitted in the building until the educational need for her presence has been established.

Mr. Fanelli said he wanted to assure everyone that the district takes the education of all its students, especially those with special needs, very seriously and that the procedures with which the district must follow through by law can be completed relatively quickly.

When asked if he thought it was possible that process could be completed in time for the beginning of the next school year, he said he believed that would be a reasonable expectation.

Ms. Frye said Mr. Young informed her that if the administrators had known it was her intention that Rosie should attend school with Austin in October, they may have been able to make that accomodation.

When asked how it escaped the attention of administrators, some of whom participated in fundraisers meant to help offset the cost of the animal, that it was Ms. Frye's intention Rosie should attend school with her son, Mr. Fanelli said he could not provide a definite answer since he was not previously aware that had occurred. He said he could speculate, however, that the administrators who participated in fundraisers were themselves not aware
it was Ms. Frye's intention to have Rosie attending school.

In the meantime, life goes on for Austin, his mother and Rosie.

"I notice that people seem to be more accepting of him because they recognize that there is a problem and he's not just problem child," Ms. Frye said of the positive changes Rosie has made in their life.

She said more and more people are taking an interest in Austin and Rosie now that they are together, and although Rosie does wear a vest that reads, "Please don't pet me, I am working," Ms. Frye said people shouldn't be afraid to ask anyway.

She said part of the reason for bringing Rosie here was to help Austin with his social skills, and he will be more than happy now to tell you about her.

Friday, April 10, 2009

A Friend Dances


This past week has been full -very full in fact -of all kinds of things. But especially it has been full of many, many memories of a very special lady and friend of mine.

Last Saturday, my family and I all participated in the Walk for Autism at Penn State - a brisk, cold day but one which both Maya and Kurtis thoroughly enjoyed and the mega dose of fresh air apparently did Kurtis a whole lot of good as he slept very, very soundly Saturday night.

It was late Saturday night though that an e-mail came into my inbox with news that was a big shock for me. The message was that a very good, long-time friend of mine had died that day. I was speechless, totally speechless.

I knew my friend had numerous health issues -especially increasing in number over the past 4-5 years but I hadn't heard anything about her of late so assumed she'd been coping as well as could be expected, all things considered.

It wasn't until Sunday afternoon that I called a mutual friend to inquire as to what had happened to our friend and I learned that she had passed extremely suddenly Saturday morning. As a matter of fact, her husband had found her unresponsive in her bed.

Now, I have to confess here that if I were to be able to choose the method by which I will someday pass from this earthly life, I think to go that quickly would be a blessing for me and also for my family too. It may not seem that way at the time but think about it -from the perspective of family members, it would be much, much easier on all concerned to not have to worry about someone dealing with atrocious diseases, mental and physicial disabling factors too. Granted, a sudden passing is difficult to cope with initially because of the huge schock of the loss but once reality sets in, it can also often bring about peace of mind easier and faster than if people have had to watch someone waste away and suffer greatly in the process.

And that is how I have to think about this loss of a very dear friend. She had for the past 4 years or more been virtually confined to a wheel chair, in a lot of pain from back and leg issues that prevented her from being able to walk.

But even with those issues, as well as other health concerns, it never deterred her spirit, her love of her family especially and her friendship with those around her.

About four years ago this spring and summer, she was recuperating from some very traumatic illnesses that had almost taken her life back then, but she had survived and was eventually transferred to a local nursing home to complete the recovery process. As it happened, this was the same nursing home where my daughter, Mandy, was working at the time as a nurse's aid.

Mandy knew my friend quite well as when she and my son were little, they often spent time with her and her children so my friend was like a second mother to Mandy. Most of the other patients on the floor where Mandy worked were much older, often with dementia and thus, difficult at times to converse with. But while our good friend was a patient there, Mandy was often able to slip into her room, catch a couple of minutes to talk to her and keep up with her recovery process then too. She would tell her that she was her own personal "Pbreath of sanity" while at work there as she could talk to her and get good, lucid responses that helped her make ti through her workday.

My friend was only a year older than me -a mere 66 -young by most standards of senior citizenship status. I remember her from my school days from seventh grade on until she graduated a year ahead of me. Friendly, optimistic -always optimistic -a very good student too, popular with one and all because she never looked down on others and never held herself above others as a result of her laid back attitude evident even then.

She really should have gone on to college but back then, there were not very many ways a family or potential student could get the funding for college if the parents had very few means to help with the expenses and so, she never went on to a higher education. But I think had she ever been able to fulfil her dream of becoming a teacher, she would have been a magnificent, totally involved and very loving teacher as children -all children -were always at the top of her list of favorite things.

When she met and married her husband, he was divorced -a single parent with custody of three small children. She took over the care of those children, saw to it that they were fed, clothed, taught to the very best of her abilities and she advocated for them wherever and whenever it was needed. She and her husband then also had three children of their own -bringing the head count of children up to six and there was never any discrimination between the three older and the three younger of the kids. She loved each and every one of them equally and saw the best each of those children had to offer while working with each child to help them to become the very best they could be.

Her husband used to drive a stock car -racing was a big event in her family's life for a long time and it was also something my ex-husband was very interested in as well. For several years, every Saturday night (that it wasn't raining) our two families could be found, parked on the hillside above the race track in Clearfield, watching her husband and our other favorite drivers run the track.

Her youngest child is three months younger than my son and the summer before those two were born often found us loading her five children and my older daughter into this big old station wagon they had and heading to the races together. One such Saturday evening, as we were on our way home, she got pulled over on the interstate. We were busy talking back and forth, the kids were playing and jabbering away in the back of the car and no doubt from time to time either she or I would yell back at them to keep things down, no jumping around, stuff like that. But when she realized she was being pulled over neither or us thought she'd been speeding -though it was of course a slight possibility -but the trooper came up to the car, asked for her license and registiration and then shined that flashlight in on both of us and all the children packed in the back of the station wagon and then, back on her and on me. In the process, he no doubt realized that there were two very, very pregnant women in that vehicle and he quickly wrote out a warning ticket to her -something about her tail light not working properly nad sped off to leave us continue on our way home.

We both laughed over that incident many, many times over the years mainly because of the look on the trooper's face when he saw both of us were pregnant and he no doubt was thinking he sure didn't want to be the one to have to assist in delivery of a baby with all those noisy rambunctous kids in the back of that vehcile on hand too!

That is just one memory of her that stands out very strongly in my mind but there are so many, many more -way to numerous to mention here but most of them mainly involve being able to have someone to sit and talk with over cup after cup of coffee. Someone to share the good events, the fun times, the cute expressions our children said, the worriies we each had of finances, unemployment issues at times, uncertainty of our lives, just about anything from soup to nuts were topics we talked about often, long and hard.

And the nicest thing ever about her was that she never ever passed judgement on others. She truly believed there was good somewhere in everyone.

And as difficult as it has been this week to come to reckoning that she is no longer with her family here or her friends -which were many, many, many -just how lucky I was for all those years to have known her and to be able to say that yes indeed, she was my friend and a darned good one at that!

She was one in a million -not rich, not famous, no celebrity -but rich in how her family adored her, how highly her friends thought of her and valued her friendship and how well-respected she had always been as a member of the community.

She has left her mark on those who knew her, those who loved her dearly, and her ways, her methods will long be remembered by all who knew her.

And I'm sure today, she is able to do somethig she hasn't been able to do in many years -dancing in heaven!

And I am so blessed too for having had the opportunity to share so much of my life with someone who truly was a beautiful, loving, very intelligent and oh, so good, a person.

May the memories you've left us with be only the good and stay with us for ever.

In Memorium
Joan Dianne Confer
1943-2009

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Registration Requirements

Today, Mandy got a big letter from the local school -in a nice large manila envelope. The letter had with it a list of requirements that children entering Kindergarten must have when they start school.

Things like being able to identify the letters of the alphabet, counting to 10, etc. I'd love to be able to type in all these requirements from that list here but unfortunately, I can't find the paper! Normally, Mandy tends to leave all kinds of papers of hers, stuff pertaining to Maya and Kurtis too, all over my computer desk but the one time I actually want to use one of those things, she has evitdently put it away someplace. Kids! Always doing things it seems to go against the grain I guess, regardless of how old they are.

But anyway, this list -as Mandy read down the list of things the kindergarten child is supposed to be able to do, we were ticking each one off -mentally -and Maya is way ahead with respect to all the requirements.

Or so it seemed, anyway. Until Mandy got to the very last one on the list.

Must be able to follow simple three word directives!

And upon reading that one, Mandy and I looked at each other, shook our heads -simultaneously -and laughed!

Maya can follow simple commands, three word directives with no problem. Sure, she can.

But only if she is in the mood, wants to do what she is being told or directed to do.

It makes no never-mind to her how you word these things, the tone of voice you use or any other manner you might think of to give her a directive, because if she decides at the time she hears these things that she doesn't want to listen, doesn't want to obey, you -and the directive then -are dead in the water.

Pure and simple there, huh?

Guess this means we are going to have to spend the next four months readying her for school by trying to find ways around this quirk of hers. Ways to wheedle her into doing the bidding of the teacher.

Thankfully, we've already been told that she will have a TSS -or wrap-around aide -attending to her during her classes to help keep her on track, on target, doing the assignments and such but still, once this child digs in her feet and decides she isn't going to do something, life can suddenly get extremely difficult.

Going off in a slightly different direction here for a bit too -I have a little something to mention about Kurtis too.

Normally, if I talk to him, try to get him to come to me, he will take one look at me, scream and run in the opposite direction. None of us knows the reason of course for his reacting in that manner to me but it's just what he usually does. I pretty sure I've mentioned -frequently -how he gets huge attacks of separation anxiety and begins looking for Mandy, calling out "Unny, Unny" (which is his pronunciation of "Honey" -his name for his mother) if she leaves the room. And if he realizes she has left the house, he really goes ballistic.

But me -I can generally go and do whatever I want and he pays no attention to whether I am present and accounted for or out of range.

Or so we thought.

Tuesday evening, I had a meetting to attend at church and a good friend of mine was going to pick me up to ride out there with her since my Jeep is currently in the shop, being given a new head gasket by my son-in-law.

Mary Kaye (my friend) pulled up in front of the house, I pulled my coat on, grabbed my purase and headed out to hop in her car. She was sitting there waving away when I got in and she motioned to the living room window where Kurtis was perched up on the back of the sofa, looking out the window, watching me get in the car. And he was crying -or at least that is what it appeared to be. Mary Kaye said she was waving to him, trying to get his attention but to no avail and then she said "Oh my! It looks like he is crying, poor little guy."

I told her if he's crying it's most likely because Mandy is probably yelling at him to get down off the back of the couch, to get away from that window sill. He -like Maya -doesn't particularly like to be reprimanded either.

When I got home about three hours later, Mandy informed me that when I left with Mary Kay earlier, that Kurtis cried, sobbed she said, real crocodile tears too, no less, for a good twenty minutes if not more, after I left the house. He wouldn't even come near her, his mother, and the one person he normally runs to over every little unsettling event in his life.

Needless to say, I was more than a bit surprised to hear that he'd had a reaction like that to my going someplace. This was a first for him to acknowledge my presence or non-presence, as it were, in any way, shape or form!

Kind o made the old ego go up a notch, ya know, to realize maybe he likes old Grammy a bit after all!

Wednesday afternoon, Mandy, the kids and I went up to the local grocery store to get a few things I wanted, that we needed, that are on sale this week and also, Wednesday being senior-citizen discount day -a whopping big 5 percent discount ya know -I try to coordinate from their weekly sales flyer to our needs and get the stuff then so I can get my big discount.

As we walked in the store, I was pushing a cart and Maya immediately announced that she wanted to ride in the seat part of the cart. Usually, when she goes there with me, I have to try to sweet-talk her into getting into that seat. I prefer having her in there because that way I don't have to hang on to her arm the whole time we are in the store, risk having her go into a meltdown on me and throwing her self, screaming and kicking, onto the floor. But today, no -she WANTED to ride in the cart. Fine with me! I lifted her up, helped get her legs into tthe openings and started down the aisle to the produce section. Meanwhile, Mandy was behind me -without a cart - carrying Kurtis but also, occaisonally she would put him down and let him walk with her a bit.

When Maya realized Kurtis was not going to be riding in a cart, suddenly that worm turned -in the blink of an eye - and of course, then she wanted down too, wanted to walk beside me, walk with her Mom and her brother, wanted to be anywhere at all except as a passenger in that cart!

So for the entire time we were in the store, she whined and wailed and cried and sobbed -sounded like she was darned near getting beaten within an inch of her life at times too, all because she had to ride in the cart! Then, when finally we were through and went out to the car, she decided to pitch a royal fit and didn't want to sit in her booster chair in the car but wanted to sit in a "baby seat" (Meaning a regulation car seat for babies and toddlers) like Kurtis has! So, for a good while then, in the car we had to listen to more of her whining, crying, sobbing about this huge slight she thought was being dealt her!

Always something, isn't there?