Saturday, September 29, 2007

11 Years Ago Today...

My Warrior was born. He's such a blessing. He's the youngest of five and answered prayer to his sisters. My Knight and I looked forward to having a quiver full.

When I think about him, I think about the things he says, the things he does. I see his facial expressions. I see his little hands. I see what I call "beauty marks" but other's might call a freckle or birthmark. I see the love or twinkle in his eyes or the mischievous smile. I feel the warmth of his hugs, his tender loving kisses which he's always ready to give. I see him standing there ready for me to pat his hinnie cause he knows I'm going to walk by him "reach out" and pat him. I hear and see him get excited when his sister's are home from a day school. I see him looking lovingly into his Nicodemus' (our Golden Retriever) eyes. I hear him get all excited cause he completed all levels of a video game in record time. I see him cry while watching soldiers die in a movie. I hear him stand up to a bully and defend the one being picked on. I see his tender heart. I see his love for justice and truth. How can I describe him? I can't find the words to express who he is or how he is. If you could only see through my eyes...

Happy 11th Birthday Sweetie... I love you more than words could say.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Florence Nightingales

I'm blessed beyond measure. I feel loved and cherished. My Knight and my children do their utmost to look after me. Not only when I'm well, but specially when I'm not.

Let me start off by saying that I have an EXTREMELY sweet tooth. I LOVE my sweets. If I didn't have children, I would eat my dessert BEFORE I would eat my dinner. If I could get away with it, I would eat a piece of cake and coke for breakfast. My ideal snack would be cookies, cake or chips with coke. Not only do I love sweets, but I love junk food. When it comes to food, I'm not one to set a good example. Well, to be honest, I'm not one to set a good example about many things. But right now, I'm talking about food and my "bad" (good to me) eating habits. Since I know about my sweet tooth, I'm very careful about having a good brushing habit. Like the dentist says, "only take care of the teeth you want to keep!" So, I'm a little OCD about that. If I wasn't how would I be able to eat all my sweets?!

Monday I had a "procedure" done. Now a days everything is called a "procedure". What did I have done? I had my 2nd molar extracted. Turns out that it had cracked and I hadn't noticed. My dentist wasn't able to crown it, so it had to come out. But he couldn't do it, because of it's angle. So I had to have an oral & maxillofacial surgeon do the work.

I was his first case of the day. My appointment was at 8am. That in itself, is a problem. You seem, I am not a "morning" person. Not that I wake up grouchy or can't function. It's that I'm a "night owl". I can stay up until 2-3 am with no problem. I rather be up at night, than be up early. The bigger problem was... that in order for me to have my "procedure" done, I have to take an antibiotic before I have any type of dental work (even a cleaning) or any type of surgery. The reason for that is because I have a shunt in my head. The antibiotic is to prevent any "potential" infection. Well, I had to take my antibiotic 2 hours prior to my appointment. That meant, I had to be up at 6am! Now, I know I'm sounding like a girlie girl, but I'm not use to being up at that time. Well, there are times that I am trying to go to sleep at that time, but that's another story, for another day.

I had opted to be "put out" for my procedure. Well, wouldn't you? I didn't want to "hear" anything that was going to go on. He had no trouble finding my veins. I've been told I'm a dream come true for a Phlebotomist. My Knight was in the room with me until I drifted away to La La Land. Next thing I knew, I was being asked to walk into the recovery room. I must of drifted off, cause then I was being walked to my carriage. I don't remember the ride home. I can't even recall getting into my pj's.

I've been able to rest and recover nicely, thanks to my beloved family. They're all so nice to me. Also due to some prescribed pain medication. PRAISE THE LORD for those! It's also helped with my headache. I get a doozy of a headache whenever I see the dentist. You see, in order to work on someone's teeth, the dentist has to hyper extend the patient's neck, so he can have a better look while he works. For a person like me, who has chiari malformation, and cranial settling, hyper extending the neck is not a good thing. I have headaches for days. The numbing and tingling gets worse. The intracranial pressure gets worse, even though I have a shunt. But after a few days, things settle down.

There is a lits of things I can't have for 6 weeks. That, I can deal with. My biggest dilemma... I can't have any coke for 48 hours! Oy vey!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Why Am I So Unfocused?

Since I was little I've always enjoyed reading. I know this will come across as being boastful and I'm sorry about that, but I was very proud of my spelling and grammar. I wouldn't correct others, but I expected perfection from myself. Math was at the bottom of my list. Sports, History and anything having to do with reading was my favorite in school.

So why does my writing come across so unfocused? Why do I skip from topic to topic? Why is my grammar and spelling so bad? Well, here's why...

When I was about 14 years old, I started to have bad headaches. In 1982, at the age of 19, I was diagnosed with migraines. I was given a shot of demerol and phenergan, when ever I had the "migraine". I never thought to question my doctors. After all, they've gone to medical school and they are were the experts. No x-rays were taken. No MRI's were done.

Early in 1993, I started to have some numbing sensations in my fingers and hands. I was told I had carpal tunnel syndrome. Was given some braces and sent on my way. It sounded logical. I was working more with computers and was writing more.

During my 4th pregnancy (1993) my symptoms began to increase and get more frequent. I wasn't the "typical" case, so I went on for a couple of years with different symptoms before being officially diagnosed and treated in 1999. At that time I was diagnosed with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, also known as SLE.

In September of 2003, I was diagnosed with chiari malformation 2 w/ 12mm herniation and hydrocephalus. To tell you the truth I was relieved. One might think, "What are you talking about? What is that?! How can you be relieved?!" Well, at least now I know what I have. Now, I know it wasn't all in my head, well it was, but not really..... LOL! My brain is herniating 12mm down into my spinal cord. No wonder I'm so smart. My head can't contain all my brain! :o) Hydrocephalus is cerebrospinal fluid build up in the brain. By this time I had had 5 MRI's. The surgeon said that the chiari malformation was evident in ALL of my MRI's. It had been overlooked.

In the winter of 2003, I had my first brain surgery. I had a shunt installed in my brain. It helps to relieve the fluid build up and drains it into my abdomen. I know this sounds "Frankensteinish" but to look at me, you couldn't tell there is anything wrong with me. I was in the hospital for about one week,due to having a chemical unbalance. Recovery from this surgery took about 4 months.

In the summer of 2004, I had my second brain surgery. I had a procedure called, Decompression with duraplasty and laminectomy of C1. I know, it's sounds "Midevelish". Recovery from this surgery took over a year. But I am now able to cheer, holler and scream without passing out. :o)

I share all this because it might help some one else that also has chiari malformation or lupus. I use to be very active. I enjoyed horseback riding and doing aerobics. I played on a women's softball team, played volleyball, snow skied, and spent lots of times in the outdoors. Due to the lupus, I can't be out in the sun long. Having chiari, I can't do activities that cause my head to shake or bobble. So I am not allowed to run, ride horses or any of the other activities I use to do. If my brain continues to herniate, it would cause paralysis. Stress causes my lupus to flare up. Once I'm in a flare up, it takes me anywhere from 2 days to weeks to recover.

I have had to change my lifestyle. I've had to "de-stress" my life. It hasn't been easy, because I really enjoyed playing sports, but it was necessary. I was in denial for a long time. Then I realized that if I didn't change, not only would I suffer, but my beloved family would suffer too. Now, I don't over commit. My life is simpler now.

I just noticed that I shared the "why" I come across so unfocused. Well, I have trouble processing my thoughts. When I write my thoughts, it looks exactly like what I think I'm writing. Yet, not all the words get written (or typed). As for my spelling, I know how to spell it, but when I type, I type the letters in the wrong order. Even though I "know" that "their" means it belongs to someone and "there" means a place, I'll type it wrong. I "know" how to spell my, but I type "mi". Oh, and it's not because I'm Spanish. LOL! I'm also getting more forgetful. It's not that I'm not focusing. It's the chiari.

There is no cure for chiari malformation. The decompression only helps alleviate, the pressure. Once the brain herniates, it can't go back up. A whiplash can cause my brain to herniate further into my spinal cord. A trip to the dentist could cause more herniation. That's because they hyper extend your neck to clean your teeth or do work on them. Oh, just in case you are wondering, I do see my dentist twice a year. :o) He's know about my health and he's careful not to hyper extend my neck. So I do have nice, clean healthy teeth. LOL!

I have to honestly say that I'm thankful. Yes... thankful. I'm thankful that it's me that has it and not my Knight. Not my children. Not my family. It has helped to slow down and enjoy life. I have time to spend with my children instead of running around doing "stuff". Since I'm not "stressed" from a chaotic life, I'm happier. If mama is happy, then everyone else is happy too. ;o) But most of all, it has brought me closer to my Lord and Savior. I know that He is in control.

And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
-2 Corinthians 12:9

Monday, September 17, 2007

Life In Our Castello

There is so much happening in the lives of those who dwell in our Castello. Lots of changes. Some of the changes are good. God is stretching us. We are stepping out of our comfort zone. Some of the changes are sad. All the changes are drawing us nearer to our Lord. Growing pain hurts, but He has a purpose. God is good... ALL the time.

My Knight and I have been asked (three times) in the past, if we would be interested in teaching the college/career Sunday School class. It's not that we didn't want to teach that class. It's that we've been working with the youth. My Knight teaches High School boy's Sunday school class and I help teach the high school girl's class. We have felt that, that's where God wanted us to be. Well, lately we've been wondering what He wants us to be doing. Through a series of events, we feel He wants us to leave the youth and teach the college/career class. The high school class is split up by gender and grade. So now my Knight and I will be teaching together. I'm really looking forward to being together in a Sunday School class again.

I was a little concerned about how Soaring Amongst The Clouds and Still Waters felt about it. They have had me as a Sunday School teacher all through high school, but I wondered if they minded having me as a teacher again. Would they be embarrassed? Now that they are young adults, would it be a nuisance for their parents to be the teachers in their Sunday School class? My Knight and I prayed and talked about it. We felt God leading us in that direction. We spoke with our Fair Maidens and were blessed by what they shared with us. They were pleased to hear that we would be teaching their class. The only thing they asked was, for us not to call on them and "make" them participate. We will honor their request. I'm so blessed by them.

The Seamstress (my mother in love) just celebrated her 80th birthday. Back in the beginning of August, I went down to her home (265+ miles) , to pick her up and bring her to our home. She had not been doing well. Her bp was 210/108 and her blood sugar was 250+. She was very agitated and not thinking straight. She was not herself. We were concerned that she was having some sort of dementia. We were able to get her in to see a specialist the day after we got her to our home. After MANY doctors visits and seeing many specialist, her bp has returned to normal. Her blood sugar is now below 100. YEAH! She is taking some medication to help her memory. She has the beginnings of Alzheimer and was diagnosed as being depressed. The medication she's taking is helping her. BUT we have realized that she can no longer live on her own.

We are praying and trying to decide what to do. Putting her in a home is not an option. She will be living with us. I knew that this is what God would want us to do. I just felt a little threatened about having "another woman" in our Castello. I felt that the Seamstress might judge me. I also didn't want our children to hear how critical she is or to be around her negativity. God spoke to me and I realized that I was letting my flesh get in the way of His work. So I've laid it all at His feet. I know that He will see us all through it.

I look at my children and can't believe they are 20 (next month), 19, 17, 13 & 11 (in 2 weeks). That means, that my Knight and I are also getting older. Since we are getting older, our parents are getting older too. My dad celebrated his 71st birthday this summer and my mom her 65th birthday. I never really thought about them as "getting old". Seeing what the Seamstress is going through has made me realize that one day, my parents will be in the same situation. I mean I know they were getting older but I haven't really thought about it. The thought saddens me. God in his infinite wisdom knew what I needed to hear.

Below is the devotion I received in my email this morning. I know it might not look like it has anything to do with what is happening in my life, but it does. It's exactly what I needed to hear. I hope you are blessed by it, I know I was.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: When you are tempted to complain about something
you don't have, stop and remind yourself to be thankful for what you
do have. God will reward your thankfulness.

SCRIPTURE FOR THE DAY: Let your conversation be without covetousness;
and be content with such things as ye have. Hebrews 13:5

Headed Homeward
by Max Lucado

Aging is God's idea. It's one of the ways he keeps us headed
homeward. We can't change the process, but we can change our
attitude. Here is a thought. What if we looked at the aging body as
we look at the growth of a tulip?

Do you ever see anyone mourning over the passing of the tulip bulb?
Do gardeners weep as the bulb begins to weaken? Of course not. We
don't purchase tulip girdles or petal wrinkle cream or consult
plastic-leaf surgeons. We don't mourn the passing of the bulb; we
celebrate it. Tulip lovers rejoice the minute the bulb
weakens. "Watch that one," they say. "It's about to blossom."

Could it be heaven does the same? The angels point to our bodies. The
more frail we become, the more excited they become. "Watch that lady
in the hospital," they say. "She's about to blossom." "Keep an eye on
the fellow with the bad heart. He'll be coming home soon."

"We are waiting for God to finish making us his own children, which
means our bodies will be made free" (Rom. 8:23).

Are our bodies now free? No. Paul describes them as our "earthy
bodies" (Phil. 3:21 MSG). Or as other translations state:

"our lowly body" (NKJV)
"the body of our humble state" (NASB)
"these weak mortal bodies" (NLT)
"our vile body" (KJV)
"our simple bodies" (NCV)

You could add your own adjective, couldn't you? Which word describes
your body? My cancerous body? My arthritic body? My deformed body? My
crippled body? My addicted body? My ever-expanding body? The word may
be different, but the message is the same: These bodies are weak.
They began decaying the minute we began breathing.

And, according to God, that's a part of the plan. Every wrinkle and
every needle take us one step closer to the last step when Jesus will
change our simple bodies into forever bodies. No pain. No depression.
No sickness. No end.

This is not our forever house. It will serve for the time being. But
there is nothing like the moment we enter his door.

From Traveling Light
Copyright (W Publishing Group, 2001) Max Lucado

It takes courage to grow up and turn out to be who you really are.
~E. E. Cummings

Saturday, September 08, 2007

The "O" Family

I was looking through all my old entries and noticed, that I hadn't written about my Knight's side of the family. We don't often get to see them, even though they only live about 30 minutes away. They all lead a very busy life.

My Knight was born in Jersey City, New Jersey. His mom loves to tell the story of how she prayed every day that he would look like a little boy she had seen on a calendar. When my Knight was born, she says her prayers had been answered. He had the bluest eyes she had ever seen. He is the youngest of two. His sister is 7 years his senior. When he was 4 yrs. old they moved down to Florida. Which is where we met. He married His Lady G at the age of 19.

His dad, The Chef was one out of five brothers. The Chef's parents died when he was young. He was the youngest brother. He was sent to live with a distant family member. He was born and raised in Cuba. He was only able to get an elementary education. He had to go to work at a young age. He came to the United State with his wife and young daughter, in search of freedom and a better way of life. They settled in Jersey City, New Jersey. He worked hard in order to provide for his family. He was as a waiter in a well known hotel in New York. I'm sorry to say, that I can't remember which one. He instilled good work ethics in his children. He didn't believe in making any purchases unless he had the cash for it. So if they couldn't afford it, he would save until they could, or he wouldn't buy it. Now a days that's unheard of. He always enjoyed cooking. When they moved down to Florida, he took two jobs. When The Seamstress would get home from work, he would have dinner ready. The family would eat together and then he would go off to work. He passed away at the age of 70.

His mom, The Seamstress was the youngest out of five sisters and two brothers. She was also born and raised in Cuba. Her mom died when she was very young. As a youngster, she was given the choice of working the farm or learn to sew and be indoors. She chose to learn to sew. She didn't like the outdoors. When they settled in New Jersey, she worked in what now a days we would call a "sweat shop". The owners quickly realized how talented she was. They would take the Seamstress to New York and have her sketch and design outfits. Now at the age of 80, she still enjoys sewing.

I'll call his sister, The Matriarch, because she is. She is the leader of her family. She was born in Cuban. Once she came to the states (she was 3 yrs old) she wanted to change her name, because now, she was an American. She wanted an American name. She graduated salutatorian of her school. She was offered a scholarship to a very prestigious university. Her dream was to be a doctor, but became a CPA. She got married right out of high school. She was a 17 yr.s old bride. Through the years she has held several jobs. She was a CPA for a couple of years, a French teacher at a high school, worked for Merrill Lynch and then decided to be a stay at home mom for a while. Once her children were a little older, she went back to school, Nursing school that is. While in school she toyed with the idea of becoming a midwife. She decided against it and became a labor and delivery nurse instead. She loved being a nurse and she was very good at it. I've always thought of her as Super Woman. She's done it all. She is married to...

The Fortune-Hunter, I named him this because he is always trying to look for a way (ALWAYS legally) to better his life and his beloved families life. He was the typical All American- Apple Pie kind of guy. He was always into sports. He met his lovely wife while in high school. So they were high school sweethearts. His senior year his family moved to North Carolina, but he couldn't leave his true love. So he stayed behind, graduated and waited for his love to graduate. He is three years older than his beloved. He went to a prestigious University and got a business degree. He also went got into his family business, which is a paper die cutting business. He also played semi pro football and was an avid soccer player. The Fortune-Hunter and The Matriarch make a beautiful couple, not just because they look good together but because get along so well. He is a blond, blue-eyed, 6'4" handsome man and she is a dark eyed, dark hair, 5'2" Spanish beauty. They were blessed with three boys.

The Constable is the oldest of the three. He is a realist and the most serious of them all. There is no sugar coating with him. He knows what he believes and no one can change his mind. He graduated top of his class in Law, at the University and went into Law Enforcement. He has moved up the ranks and has surprised those in charge. He is now a Lieutenant and a District Commander in the Sheriff Department. He is only 30 years young. He's a fine young man and a good role model. Just recently he got his real estate license. He's got a bright future ahead of him. He is married to...

La Madre, I love this girl! She is the real deal. She of Italian decent and she fits right in with the family. She's sweet, smart and feisty. They met while they were attending the University. I wish I could say I remember what she studied, but I don't remember. Most important (in my eyes) is that she became a mommy this year...

Scooter was born earlier this year. I'll call him the Scooter for now cause he scoots all around. No characteristics yet other than, cutie, cuddly, smiley, adorable, cherub and so on. He's brought much joy and happiness along with him.

The Jester is the second born. You are guaranteed to laugh until you cry, when he's around. It is non stop. He's done all sorts of sports. He even did a triathlon when he was only 10 years old. He played high school football and was on the crew team. While in high school some of his "cheer leading" girlfriends talked him into trying out cheer leading. You see he was a tall muscular guy. He figured, "hey, I can either get hit and get the girls or not get hit and get to toss and hold the girls!" And that he did. He did it so well, that he got a scholarship to a well known University. A University that has always been a family rival to us. YUCK! Right now he is busy being a being an entrepreneur.

The Charmer is the youngest and the carefree one. Like his brothers he loves sports. He played baseball all through school and while he attended the University. He is a sweet talker. This one can get away with anything. He loves life and likes to have fun. He's also very tender hearted. His smile and charm gets to you.

I mentioned before that we don't get to see each other often. My nephews are much older than our children. They are busy working and just with life in general. It's hard to coordinate gatherings. When we do get to fellowship, it's wonderful. We have a great time "catching up" and there is always lots of laughter. We are looking forward to a new beginning now that all the cousins are a little older and they all drive. Thank you Lord for fresh starts.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Wild Bill Stanton Watching Your Back

Two nights ago I watched a program that left me feeling lots of different emotions. It left me upset, sad, dishearten, in disbelief and speechless. The program was on NBC. The program was called Wild Bill Stanton Watching Your Back.

If you go to the link above, you can see some of the segments that he's done. Monday night 4 segments were shown. Two of them aren't online yet, I will be sure to write an update once a link is provided. But the other two I saw were Balloons and Puppy Test Kids and the Wild Bill Graffiti Artist. Please bare through the "commercial", it's worth it. The other segments were on pickpockets and do men step up when they see/hear about a man put the date rape drug in a woman's drink.

Basically two of the segments were about, "would you step up?". My Knight and I watched the program. I was so enraged about what I was seeing, that I didn't even think to tape the program. I would of LOVED for my children to see it and would of shared it with my friends. The next day I even thought, had I taped it, I could of shared it with our youth, and the college/career at church. URGH!!!

Segment one was about pick pockets. They showed how easy it was to pick a pocket or purse. Purses that are open or don't have a zipper closer are the easiest to "pick" out of. Men who keep their wallet in their back pocket are easy preys also. The man who was the "pick pocket" demonstrated just how easy it was. Over and over again, he picked the wallet from men and they didn't even "feel" it. The "pick pocket" even stole a tie, that was tied around a guys neck. The "victim" didn't even realize it until he was complimented on his tie. A pair of sunglasses, that were hooked on the "victims" t-shirt were taken without him noticing it. They showed how a pick pocket works with an accomplice or two. One distracts the victim, the second one does the "picking" and passes the item to the third accomplice. They showed how easy it was for a purse to be stolen while it's hanging from a chair. The "picker" passed by the chair, while hold a sweatshirt, coat or jacket, he would get the purse and conceal it in the garment he's holding. No one can "see" he has the purse. I know that I try to be careful about where I hang my purse, but I found this program to be very informative and eye opening.

Segment two dealt with the issue of graffiti. Would someone step up and stop or report someone that's painting graffiti on a wall. The graffiti was written in a high traffic public place. Of course the local authorities knew this was being done for a program. You wouldn't believe the number of people who walked or drove by and didn't say or do anything. One man walked by taking on his cell phone. Wild Bill kept on spraying, but asked him, "Are you calling the cops?" The guy said no and kept on walking. None of the store workers in the are called the authorities. Two teenagers came up to him and told him he was doing it wrong. And proceeded to instruct him on how to do it. They never touched the can, they just verbally told him what to do. One lady told him he shouldn't be doing that. That it's against the law. Another lady, walked right up to him and started bagging up the spray can, to take them away from him. Later on they talked to both ladies. The one that had dared to walk up to him was told that she should never do that. But to call the police. She herself could of gotten hurt. I wash shocked that no one called the police. We know this because the police said that no calls were received. AMAZING!

Oh what was he spray painting on the wall?... "Why don't you stop me?"

The last segment is the one that shocked me the most. It was in two parts. Part one dealt with how many ladies would accept a drink from a complete strange when they are in a bar or our dancing. Wild Bill marked all the glasses with invisible ink. The purpose of this was to show that a drink could of been laced with the date rape drug and the ladies wouldn't of known about it. None of the ladies he approached declined the drink. He later went back and talked to them about it. Some said that they accepted because they were there with their girlfriends and they wouldn't let anything happen to them. The problem was, that the girl friends had ALSO accepted the drink. What do you do then? Part two dealt with, how many guys would step up and stop him from lacing a drink with the date rape drug and giving it to a lady. THIS ONE MADE ME CRY! Wild Bill was at the bar and started talking with a man at the bar. The man in the bar did not know that, the woman Wild Bill was talking about was in on it too. He was telling the man that he was going to lace the drink. The man told him he shouldn't do that. But they kept talking. He pretended to lace it and took the drink over to the lady. After a while, they headed out the door. Half an hour later Wild Bill was back in the bar without her. The man came up to him and asked what happened. He just laughed and said she was outside under the bridge "sleeping it off". The man said, "She shouldn't be out there alone, tell me where she is." Then proceeded to saying that, "He didn't mind sloppy seconds." MY MOUTH DROPPED! Wild Bill then went to a different place and struck up a conversation with two college guys. He did the same thing. But before he laces the drink, the two college guys went to get two more of their buddies. They were all saying how they had always wanted to do that but didn't even know where to get the stuff. Wild Bill gave the drink to the lady and after a while left. When he came back, the two guys saw him and walked up to him. They asked how it had gone. They also asked where they could get some of that stuff. Wild Bill asked them for their numbers and told them he'd call them. Two of the numbers were bogus, but two weren't. When he talked to them on the phone and told them what he was really doing, they said that they really weren't going to do that. They were just playing along with him. YEAH RIGHT!

The last segment is the one that REALLY got to me. These men, knew what Wild Bill was going to do and did absolutely NOTHING about it. No one stepped up. How can they allow that to happen? I just don't understand. I couldn't help but cry. It broke my heart to think that, these are our future leaders. Men who won't stand up for what's right. Men who won't look out for women who are being taken advantage of. My heart is heavy...