Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Difference - Part 2

You see these 3 trees?

hmm, 2 trees and a stub? I can't tell you how many HOURS and HOURS were spent in this front yard and these 3 trees(because there were 3 growing up) were a vital part of those HOURS spent in the front yard. Why? you ask....that's simple. These 3 trees were "1st base", "2nd base", and "3rd base". We played lots of kickball growing up. That was one of the great things about being part of '4 kids in 5 years'...we were close enough in age that we usually played together...fought alot, but also played.

When I was in high school, lightening struck "2nd base" and that is why it was eventually cut down.

Yes, to you, this just looks like 2 trees and a stub, but to me...oh so many homeruns in kickball because I was "that good"...or at least I like to think so.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Get Real Monday-The Difference Part 1

The difference between you and I (or is it you and me...let's just go with "us")...one of the many differences between "us" is how we see things in life...you know, perception. I went home this past week to spend time with my parents and also to take my mom to a dr's appt. While there, I decided to take a few pictures around the house.

Here are the first 2...

You probably see an old, rusty building. You may think it just needs to be torn down or something, but I see so much more....

To be honest, I think that building was just as rusty 20 yrs ago as it is today!

I see a building where I spend many days playing while growing up. My dad kept so many things in this building....tools, materials, old stuff that no one ever used, equipment, etc. Because of this, there was always something to get into, discover, etc.

Growing up on a farm meant that there were always animals in our lives. Well, we had lots of dogs(among other animals)...who always seemed to be having lots of dogs... Where did they usually have them?(and still do)...in this building. In fact, that door to the right is a seperate room from the rest of the building that has a dirt floor. At times over the years, we would house puppies in here.

My dad took me on a mini tour of the farm this past week. I can honestly say that I haven't driven on the farm in YEARS! I am mad at myself that I didn't have my camera with me the day he was with me because I could have gotten some fun, interesting pictures, but I didn't know that we were going on this adventure either. I will remember to have it with me next time though.

I have lots more pictures I will post over the next week or so. While you may only see old buildings, 'junk', etc, when I look at these pictures, I see so many memories.

The older I get, the more I appreciate "where I came from". Sure, I didn't come from LOTS and LOTS of money, but I did come from parents who loved us all unconditionally(and some of us really pushed the limits..lol), I came from parents who knew education was important and it was expected that we all do well in school(thankfully, we all did). My parents didn't give us everything we wanted when we asked, but our needs were always met. We didn't even have cable growing up(and they still don't have it) partially because they don't have cable that far in the country, but that meant we had to be more creative and spent more time outside playing and discovering new things.

It's nice to go home. Even today, things just seem to slow down. It's nice.

I guess Dorothy was right...."There's no place like home!"

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Get Real Tuesday-Being Thankful

I blogged a few weeks ago about how I feel that God talks to me. Trust me, to say that I think "God talks to me" is a little weird to write. I have always heard people talking about 'hearing the voice of God' or seeing people speaking in tongues and I just never really got it.

Well, I really feel that so often over the past year that I seem to see the same message over and over and over in just a few days and realize that maybe I need to actually PAY ATTENTION.

As you may or may not know, Antonio and I serve at our church every weekend. That means we attend a service and then serve in the next. My place of service??....the 3 and 4 year old class. Let me tell you, this was the last place I thought I would want to serve...in fact, when I agreed to serve, I requested to be in ANY room other than this room...lol...I also know God has quiet a sense of humor.

Anyway, I have loved serving in this class. Sure there are days when I get frustrated with this age, or the fact that Tatum is in my class and doesn't want me giving anyone else any attention, etc....but I love it because the things kids say at this age usually raise my eyebrows. I really enjoy it too because I love to know what Tatum is learning and it is fun to continue the teaching when we get home.

Well this past weekend, our lesson for the 3 and 4 yr old class was about SAYING Thank You.....not just being thankful, but SAYING it. When mommy or daddy cook you dinner, say thank you....when mommy cleans your room, say thank you...when you get a present from your grandmother, say thank you....etc. I even let the kids practice...when we passed out snacks, I made sure they each said thank you.

Well, after church is over and all the kids are picked up, I have to make sure the room is clean, tables are wiped down, supplies are put up, trash is taken out, etc. While I was tending to these things, our kidslife director walked in and gave me a thank you card and this...

...a gift card from Chilli's. She said she knew 3-4 yr olds were the hardest class and just wanted me to know that she appreciated my help. Let me just say that the thank you card was enough, but I did appreciate the gift card too.

Then, yesterday I was going to tutor. When I got to the family's house, my student wasn't there. I figured he would be there soon, so I just sat and talked to his mother who is a friend of mine. About 10 minutes later, my student walked in with these...TWO dozen roses to say thank you to me and tell me he appreciated my time. HELLO!?!?! They are already paying me (very well I might add). He made a 100 on his first test and 96 on his second...I think he has always thought he was horrible at math, but I think he and I learn the same way, so it works. Here are some pics of the roses...

There are so many times that I know I have a thankful heart and I really do appreciate things that people do/say around me, but I also know that I am guilty about not always saying thank you. What is a little ironic in all of this is that I love it when people notice the little things that I do...hard work, putting in extra time, doing little things, etc. yet I am the worst at thank you notes.

So, I guess the point to my blog is this....it's one thing to be thankful, it's another thing to say so.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Get Real Monday

It was a week ago today that I got a text that I hope I never get again. I know I briefly blogged about this last week, but I wanted to blog again to share my feelings and hopefully pass a message that others can learn from.

Mom sent a text last week that my dad thought he was having a heart attack and they were headed to the ER. Let me just say, when I recieved this text, Antonio, the kids, and I were at the YMCA swimming with another family. My mom had shared a week or so before this that my dad was complaining with chest pains, so getting this text didn't send me into shock. I just figured since they were home and these chest pains weren't going away, he was headed to get checked out(or maybe this is just what I wanted to believe?).

The next info I got was that they were going to transport him to Jackson because the Humboldt hospital didn't have a cardiologist and they wanted to do some tests. We were still at the pool, I was a little more alarmed by this, but still assuming the best. I did ask my mom if she wanted me to come and she said just wait until they got more info.

I talked to my mom a few times, talked to my sister as we debated what to do, and talked with Antonio. Laurie and I had decided that we would plan to head home around 4 or 5(it was around 2 at this point). We finished up at the YMCA and we jumped in the car to head home. Antonio had driven seperate from me and the kids because he had been on a bike ride earlier that morning. On my way home I talked with my brother Matt who lives in Knoxville. He was debating on if/when to come home, but was unsure what to do. As we were talking we got the text saying my dad had actually had a heart attack while in the Jackson ER. Immediately, we agreed to head home as soon as we could.

When Matt and I hung up, I got a lump in my throat. The thought of losing my dad was in my head and I was trying to stay positive, but still scared to death. I got home, told Antonio I was going to rush to take a shower, pack a bag, etc and go home. He immediately got the kids out of the car and put them down for naps so I could rush around getting everything together.

The drive from Memphis to Jackson was a LONG one. Laurie and I had planned to ride together, but I decided to stay if my mom needed me to and Laurie had to come back that night. Being alone in the car, knowing your dad is in surgery after just having a heart attack, and having a mind that over thinks everything is not a good combo. I am such a daddy's girl and I guess I just take for granted that my parents will be around forever. I am embarrassed to say that I prayed more this day than I have in a while. I mean, I do pray, but I was pleading with God to let my dad be okay. I was a little bit of a hot mess driving and the only thing that would make me laugh was thinking how crazy other drivers must think I am because I couldn't stop crying. I was trying to figure out how I was going to manage to pull it together by the time I got to the hospital because I didn't want to walk in looking like a crazy, hot mess. Some point on my drive, my mom called or texted and said the dr found 99% blockage and they put in a stent. She said that he made it thru the surgery and took well to the stent. This was much needed news that helped me pull it together a little.

Laurie and I followed each other to the hospital and when we walked in we had to go to the ICU waiting room. My mom, grandmother, James Edward, Jane, and Mr. Charles were all there. After giving hugs to everyone, it was almost vistation time for ICU patients. Everyone left except for my mom and grandmother. We talked about the happenings of the past weeks and morning.

I know this is a lot of typing and if you are still reading this then here is a big takehome for you. My dad had been complaining with chest pains off and on for 2 weeks prior to this day. When the chest pains would come on, he would take 2 asprin and he said the pain would "go away". Well, on Monday, he had some chest pains, took 2 asprin, but the pain didn't go away and this is the reason they went to the hospital. Let me say a few things....my mom had told me about him having these chest pains and I told him to go to the dr to get checked out. He chalked it up to heartburn and didn't want to look silly going to the ER for that. I wish that I had been more convincing or not taken no for an answer, but I figured he knew what his pain felt like better than I did, so I just said okay.

Anyway, when everyone else was going up to see their family in ICU, we were not allowed up. They were having trouble stopping the bleeding for my dad because he had been pumped with so much blood thinner.

Once we finally got to go up, I was so happy to lay eyes on my dad, but I had this feeling of needing to stomp on his toe for being so stubborn about going to the dr. Of course, I didnt stomp his toe...but I did take a few pics so I could send them to Clif and Jennifer and let them know he was doing a little better. Clif lives in Virginia and I know he felt the need to fly out to be with the family, but my dad and mom didn't want him to make the trip because we assumed all would be okay.

Let me warn you, I posted the 2 pics of my dad that I took on my phone while he was in ICU. They aren't bad or anything, but just wanted to warn you.

It was great to see my dad and I really thought he looked pretty good considering all he had been thru. The cardiologist on call that night was not the same one that did the surgery. However, Laurie used to call on the one that we got to see once my dad was in ICU and I was thankful for this. He took extra time to explain things to us and even showed us several different videos that were taken while they were doing the heart cath. He showed us the 99% blockage and showed us the same aretery after the sent was put in.
After our first visit, we had a few hours before we could see dad again. Laurie, mom, and I rushed home to my parents house so that my mom could get things so she could stay at the hospital for a few days. She was grabbing a few things for my dad as well. When we were throwing things in her bag, I had to grab my dad's Bible. My dad reads his Bible more than anyone I know...seriously, ANYONE. I knew he wouldn't be able to read it for a while and wouldn't feel like it either, but I wanted him to have it if he wanted it.
When we went to our visitation at 9pm, we could tell that Daddy's coloring was improving by the hour. He looked even better, said he was hungry, talked more, etc. It was much needed for me. I was still worried about him, but seeing him improving made me feel better.
After our short visit, we headed downstairs for the night. Let me say that Matt managed to make it from Knoxville in record time(without getting a ticket). I think it only took him about 4 hours when it is normally a 6 hr drive(my times might be off a little, but not much). He was flying and admitted to driving up to 110mph. Needless to say, he was a little worried too I think?
Here is where we all slept...mom, me, and Matt.
These chair beds weren't too bad. They provided us with sheets, pillows, blankets, etc. However, my brother snored and I can't sleep with snoring(ask Antonio). I hit, nudged, and rocked Matt several times during the night. I couldn't find anything to throw at the woman across from us though....so I didn't sleep much. Mom and I played on the computer, ate chocolate cake at 2:30am, and giggled alot....at what? I am not sure.
Morning came and we showered, got ready, ate breakfast, and we were getting ready to go up for visitation time. However, the lady at the desk said we couldn't go up...my heart dropped! She told my mom she had to call upstairs and ask for the nurse. I couldn't take it, so I walked away...in a minute, i walked back over and my mom hung up the phone. She was shaking her head a little and I finally said "what?" She said the nurse told her that we couldnt come visit Daddy in ICU because they were getting him ready to move to a regular room. I know I had the biggest smile on my face. She said we could go up to the regular room and wait on him.
Here is my bad camera picture of them wheeling my dad to his regular room...
Once in the room, Daddy continued to improve throughout the week. Originally, the cardiologist thought he may go home on Wednesday, but because of some irregular heartbeat and low blood pressure, they kept him until Friday.
He is still not completely out of the woods, but he is much better than he was 8 days ago.
All of the happenings over the past week have really got me thinking. I know family is important, but I guess I sometimes take for granted that they will always be around.
I am thankful my dad is doing so much better, but my prayers are still with those that we met in the ICU waiting room. The ones that had been there 10 days straight, 4 weeks, 7 days, months, etc. Yes, the patient is obviously not healthy and needs to be there, but it is also stressful for the families that are there for support. They are all hanging around for those 4 short visitation times...9:00am-9:20am, 1:00pm-1:20pm, 5:00pm-5:20pm, and 9pm-9:20pm. Time goes so slowly when you are waiting around to see a loved one!
So, to you readers out there(all 2 or 3 of you), if you hear of anyone having chest pains, don't let them write it off to something small and unimportant. My dad could have avoided lots of permanent damage to his heart had he gone in with chest pains vs. heart attack.
Remember, you are your best advocate when it comes to your health. If you are having an issue and you do go to the dr and the dr. doesn't think it's a big deal, trust your instinct! You will be the one who pays for it long term, so if you aren't happy with your dr. find a new one!
Also, be sure to say an extra prayer for those strangers waiting in the ICU waiting rooms.
Finally, enjoy your families. Tell them you love them. Spend time with them. Make the extra sacrifice to go see them.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Lots of Pictures 2010

I will be doing a month long catch up thru pictures.

The day before we left for our trip to Hot Springs, Antonio brought these beautiful roses in. We have watched them growing in the backyard and he and Tatum decided it was time to bring some in to enjoy.

I have blogged several times in the past about TANNA and THE CHALLENGE .
Well, Tanna and Brylee were coming thru town for another reason, but I was lucky enough to be able to meet them for lunch on their way thru. It was great talking to her in person and meeting sweet Brylee for the first time!
The Sunday before Memorial Day, I dressed the kids in some red, white, and blue. I decided to try and get some pictures of them before church. Tatum was ready to pose, Mateo...not so much.
Of course, I had to capture a few pictures of Tatum twirling because she does this ALL THE TIME!
Once Mateo saw Tatum getting so much attention, he wanted to join in the fun.

We have been enjoying MANY days at the pool this year. Memphis is SO HOT and we needed to find a way to enjoy ourselves outside without burning up. Here are some pictures from several different trips to the pool and/or sprinkle park.

As you can see, we LOVE our fun in the sun! I am thankful to have kids that love being outside playing in the water as much as Antonio and I do. As long as we all stay lathered up with sunscreen and we make sure to have plenty of snacks and drinks, we could stay out for a while!

Girl's Trip (plus Mateo) to Hot Springs

I feel like I am constantly trying to play catch up when it comes to blogging. Once again, I will vow to try to be better.

Anyway, around Mother's Day, my grandmother, mom, me, Tatum, and Mateo all went on a week long trip to Hot Springs. Let me first say, I LOVE Hot Springs. We have been there several times and even though we really don't "do" anything, I find Hot Springs to be relaxing and it is very beautiful there too.

On Mother's Day, there was a handbell choir that were scheduled to play at the 'botanical gardens'-like place. Let me first say when we were packing, it was supposed to be HOT. I packed swimsuits, shorts, tanktops, etc. Sunday, Mother's Day, it was FREEZING....like in the 60's(which really isn't freezing, but it is when you don't have a jacket or jeans). I did manage to throw in a sweatshirt jacket for Mateo and a blue jean jacket for Tatum.

Anyway, we went and the music was supposed to be in a chapel, but this place was BEAUTIFUL!!

We got there extra early to 'get a good seat.' I guess my grandmother and mom forgot that we had 2 little ones with us. I was very nervous on how I was going to keep Tatum and Mateo entertained for so long. We took pictures, looked for bugs through the window, but we finally had to take a walk outside before the music started.

On our walk, we came across this area. At the top were bells that chimed every hour.
I also tried to get some pictures of the kids...

It started sprinkling which ended our outside adventure, so we went back in, but Mateo is ALL about being outside, so Gran decided to take him out for a few minutes.
And finally, the group began. I am curious if anyone else played handbells in church growing up?

Here is the view from our condo where we stayed. I enjoyed being able to look out the living room window and seeing this beautiful view!

Gran and Tatum were off for a walk. This was a daily occurance.
Mateo enjoyed being out in the sun once the weather finally warmed up at the end of the week.

Mateo LOVED watching the boats go by. I think we both could have sat out there hours just watching them.
Tatum said she liked the water too. She was wanting to run around more than sit and observe though.
This cabinet under the TV provided much entertainment for the kids too. It was empty and they loved climbing in and out.

Let me just document for myself how CRAZY this trip was. In fact, I even started taking notes because I didn't want to forget things.
*as soon as we got to the place we were staying, we parked at the office and my mom said something about the dash saying 'low tire'. I opened the back door, and sure enough, the tire was almost on the ground.
*We were lucky enough that some maintanence men patched up the tire for us enough until we could get the tire fixed/replaced. We went to Walmart first and they didnt have the brand that my grandmother wanted. Next we went to Sears and they said they could take care of the tire.
*This tire stuff hit right at dinner time for the kids, so we got to eat dinner in the mall. Normally, I wouldn't have minded this at all, but if you have ever been to the mall in Hot Springs, you know that the pickins' are slim there. We found a place and made it work.
*Finally, we got back to the condo and I started setting up the pack-n-play that the place had for us to use. I know these can cause people trouble, but I am usually a pro at setting these things up considering we have used them since Tatum was born. Well, this was one like I have never seen before and it took me FOREVER to set it up. I had even thought about going to buy one at Walmart, but I didn't want to pay for something that I knew I would have to leave behind because we had no room in the car.
*Even though we went to bed super late, the kids still woke up around 6ish.
*I already talked above about the freezing weather, which wasn't really freezing, but I didn't do a good job of packing the right clothes. And yes, I did check the weather online, but it had nothing about a cold front, I promise.
*After we went to hear the handbell choir, my mom or grandmother decided that Ryan's sounded like a great place to have a Mother's Day dinner. hmmm....I haven't eaten there in a long time, but decided it should be good since it would have lots of different options for the kids. Let's just say it was HORRIBLE....from the fact that there was NO food...they were out of everything, to the kids around us running around our table..seriously, cirlces around the table which almost made my grandmother fall one time....so then she said something to the parents and the 2 tables of people left...lol
*Sunday was a long day and we were all in bed by 8pm.
*The kids and I slept in until 7:45!! That is unheard of in our world!
*We drove around the town alot just to see what was going on.
*Finally, decided to do some shopping after lunch and Mateo had a blowout, but thankfully I was prepared.
*We were back in our condo and cooking dinner by 4:30.
*Both kids were in bed by 7pm.
*This night some bad weather was in the STATE. My grandmother was pretty worried about it, but I kept showing her on the computer that it was WAY north of us. My mom had to call to see where the emergency shelter was...there wasn't one. I finally just went to bed and I dont even think it rained that night.
My official notes end after Monday, but I will document a few other things...
*Had lunch with a friend and her son that live in Hot Springs now. We made plans to get her 2 kids and mine all together for the first time ever the next morning.
*Went back to condo and we all went out to do some shopping. Tatum was complaining about not feeling well....I figured she was tired like I was.
*Our first stop, she walked in with my grandmother, complained that she wasn't feeling well, Gran took her to the car so she could just sit there. About an hour later we were sitting in a Convenient Care. Tatum was diagnosed with strep throat.
*This meant we could not go play with my friend and her kids the next day.
*I started feeling very bad and had to get some meds called in.
*Headed home. Mateo started feeling bad. Made Mateo a doctor's appt so that Antonio could take him as soon as we got home.

*Antonio, Tatum, Mateo, and I were sitting at the dinner table. Antonio was asking how we knew we had strep. I showed him my throat, we looked at Tatum's, then Antonio showed me his....yep, he caught it too!
These are just SOME of the highlights from our trip. We did have a good time. I was just tired when I got home. I don't know how single moms and single dads do it. I missed Antonio so much and missed his help. He does so much for/with the kids and being gone a week wore me out!