Friday, October 26, 2012

little big sighs :)

Today we had the cutest little Asian girl prancing around the ballot table while her Dad was patiently waiting. A worker decided to ask her a few questions to help keep her still, and here's there conversation:

Worker: What are you going to be for Halloween?
Child: in a whisper, Tinkerbell.
Worker: Tinkerbell?
Girls nods.
Worker: Not (and she names two other names I'd never heard of but which made the girl grin and shake her head no.)?
Girl: I've already told you. Tinkerbell.
Worker: Because she's pretty.
Girl: rolling her eyes and saying in an exasperated tone, Because she's GRE-en and has WIIings.

We were still laughing about that later. Green and Wings. What more could a girl want?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

a reminder

I've been reminded this week of our ladies' study from a few years ago where we focused on "whatever is true".  This last week I've been continously amazed at the number of people who hear or think something (about a wide variety of things) and decide it is true without investigating or thinking or studying the matter at all.

And of course, with election season upon us, I deal with people on a daily basis who like to rant and be heard. Thankfully of the 800+ voters we handled yesterday, there were only 2 or 3 that way. And when you stop and think about it, that's not too many.

What I am seeing more of, and has taken me by surprise, is helicopter Moms. It's not uncommon for a Mom to say "This is my child's first time to vote, and he's unsure or has some questions, etc"  But it is uncommon, and strange to me, that a parent will say "I can't....because I have to help my child vote." or "Can we share a voting booth? It's her first time."

It's not uncommon for a couple to share a booth, though usually when that happens it's because one of the two is depending on the other person to tell them what to do. I feel more comfortable about the family members who get booths near each other. They're close enough to help if asked, but not so close that one is dominating the other.

Thankfully most of today's younger generation is acting self-sufficient. Even if they come in with Mom or Dad they're not acting helpless. But yesterday I saw it more than I've seen in all the other elections combined, and it was scary. I understand now why colleges are so concerned, and it makes me more than tad concerned about the future of our nation.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

today's thankful list

  • chocolate chip cookies
  • Facebook
  • choir practice
  • laughter
  • freedom
  • a crazy dog
  • friends
  • the internet
  • my husband
  • running water
  • clean water
  • indoor plumbing
  • sunshine
  • vehicles
  • abundantly stocked grocery stores
  • hugs
  • smiles
  • the end of this round in the incubator
  • only 2 chicks

Monday, October 22, 2012

tick, tick, tick

There have been some nights when I absolutely could not sleep and I could actually hear the clock in our bedroom ticking out the seconds. THAT is annoying.

Thankfully, that was not the case this last week, nor do I expect it to be the case anytime during the next six weeks (unless I forget and drink caffeine after 4pm again).

Yesterday during the kids choir practice time, a child raised her hand and wanted to know why anyone would want to be a star. (The play is about a boy who wants to be a star in a play, and he ends up getting a role as understudy and at the last minute is in the play and actually points the way to the Star of Bethlehem). She only knew the term as in "twinkle, twinkle, little star". I'm not sure I adequately explained it to her. Yes, I am certainly used to working with older kids.

I feel unorganized this year. We chose this play because it could easily incroporate all age groups under 6th grade, should hopefully take less practice time, and yet I continue to feel uneasy. I think it's because there's just so much going on in our life right now, and knowing that I'm going to be gone the week prior to our last rehearsal only adds to that stress a little. But, like every year, it will happen. The younger kids will either gladly perform or hide; the older kids want to withdraw into themselves and are super worried about whether or not they'll look stupid. I can count on that. ;)

And in the midst of this craziness, I'm brought back to earth about what is really important.
Last Thursday Bobby's best friend (suppose I should say his best male friend) went in for a biopsy and tumor removal. They opened him up and closed him up. The surgeon doesn't recommend any treatment, but he'll still meet with an oncologist this week. Evidently they sometimes do some treatments to lesson the pain.

I know that none of us know when our last moments on earth will be. I can head to the kitchen now and drop dead of a heart attack, or head to the gym and die in a car crash. I could face an irate voter these next two weeks at work and get shot or stabbed. We never know. But there's something sinister about having the end of our your life mapped out, at being told a maximum amount of time that's left. It gives a new meaning to "the valley of the shadows".

And speaking of shadows, I need to get back to mapping out the stage for a quickly approaching play.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

my thankful list

I started to title this post my Monday thankful list, but then I realized today wasn't Monday. :/
But here we go:

1. anticipation of holidays & fellow family members (on both sides!) who like to work puzzles
2. cookies, specifically chocolate chip
3. sweet tea
4. a supportive husband
5. electricity
6. laying hens
7. friends who like to read
8. belonging to a church of compassionate people
9. being an American citizen where everyone has the right to an opinion
10. checklists

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

time warp

I have my Thanksgiving decorations out. :)
My husband was a bit disconcerted by that. I didn't tell him that I had briefly contemplated pulling out Christmas stuff so I won't be rushed later. But in my mind, I know once Tuesday of next week comes, I have no more free time before Thanksgiving. That scares me more than a little.
So my grandma's little ceramic turkey is on the dining room table, along with a fall flower arrangement.  I don't think I'm going to mess with a pumpkin this year (although I'm sure the dog would love it).

And today I remove the egg turner from the incubator and have the pleasure of cleaning up two bad eggs, one of which has cracked, while returning the others for three more days of resting in the heat before hatch time begins. Could someone please remind me why I didn't just toss them? I tell myself I'm not a hoarder, but I do hate for things to go to waste. We watched our first episode of Hoarders a few weeks ago and on one of the shows Bobby and I were both greatly disturbed at the amount of things placed in the trash (furniture and clothes) at one of the homes that could have been donated to a thrift store. It was so wasteful. The other home? No one would've wanted anything out of it.

Wants and needs - those topics seem to be coming up a lot lately. I'll have to save that for another day.

Happy early Thanksgiving. :)



Monday, October 15, 2012

not so simple

Someone in my family gave me a request for Christmas a while back that I thought would be very easy.  My family meets for Thanksgiving this year, so that means all my Christmas stuff for that side of the family needs to be completed by then (although I'm hoping we can take a trip in either right before or right after Christmas). So I thought I could go online, fill out all the information, upload a few photos, and boom! The personalized calendar is done.

But no. It can't be that simple. I'm missing a few photos, as well as a few birthdates since that person decided it wasn't enough to do our extended family, but aunts and uncles and all their descendants should be included as well. And of course, they have a list of all that stuff SOMEWHERE, but has no clue where.

This "easy" project has taken me all day and I'm still not finished. I have to remind myself that quilting takes weeks, if not months, so I should be enjoying this process. My brain's not buying it.
It is the thought that counts, right?

Friday, October 12, 2012

a classroom of 30

For 6th-8th grade, I was in a one room classroom at Victory Christian Academy. We called it "The Learning Center".  Using an ACE curriculum, 6th-12th grade used an old sanctuary of the church where we had desks with dividers along every wall and in the middle of the room. It was an interesting experience that came with many life lessons. I'm guessing we had 30 students in the whole room. Of course, being in middle school, we watched the high schoolers like crazy, and took note of everything they said and did.
One of the high school boys that all the girls were crazy about was very quiet. He interacted with everyone equally; he didn't treat us middle schoolers as stupid; he lived his faith. I had the utmost respect for him and hoped when I grew up I'd find someone similar to him to marry (and I did! :)

This week his 20 year old son Trent died. I've never met his wife Lorna, but they have been SO heavy on my heart ever since I heard the news. I find myself uttering prayers for them as I iron, while I cook, and even while I drive from one appointment to the next.

Twelve years ago the church I attended lost a young man the same age, also unexepectedly. The grief was horrendous, and our entire church body physically hurt. We hurt with the pain of saying goodbye to someone we all loved, we hurt for his parents who everyone loved as their own. We hurt watching them hurt, because there was absolutely nothing we could do to make them feel better. We could only take them to the Great Physician who in his time heals wounds. Times like this remind me that while I like to think of myself as a helper or fixer, I'm not. I can be the friend who helps carry the gurnery to the Almighty Doctor and waits, but I am not capable of healing.

We expect our grandparents and parents to receive the glorious room service call that their heavenly room is ready long before we do. And yet, it still hurts and our hearts have a void when they're gone. But when someone so young gets that call, it seems to tilt our whole world out of focus. Walking through death's shadow when it's a young person makes death seem more ominous and horrifying. Like Will, Trent would have been voting in his first presidential election ever. I know it seems odd to think of things like that, but I remember clearly Watson Hall telling everyone to go and vote as they left his house. Evidently that was one of the many things they had talked about in their last conversation with Will.

If you get a chance today, send up a prayer for Scott and Lorna Harbison and their remaining son and daughter, that they will feel the soothing from the Balm of Gilead and that their hearts will experience the Comforter in unimaginable ways.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

goose hunting

This past Saturday we took advantage of the wonderful weather and did a little yardwork, in between visits from great nephews. And I'm happy to report that A) I finished thinning out the irises by the back ramp and B) the older nephew seems to have lost interest in chasing my chickens. :)

The new game is "goose huntin'".

 Grab a toy gun.
 Aim at the geese on the other side of the pond. (and or course, you get them all)
 Move to another location, and hope younger brother doesn't throw his gun in the pond.
Isn't that what you do with stick things? Oh wait. This one clicks.
 
I like this game much better. And it's even okay if they decide to "shoot the fish" at feeding time. That game works even better, for when the fish take their food out of sight for moment, Trey really thinks he's succeeded. :)


Monday, October 8, 2012

rain

What happens when you try to stay relatively dry while getting the dog in the car before you head to the vet:


Buster's appointment is now rescheduled for Thursday.
I guess I'll spend my afternoon sewing and cleaning after all.

a new normal

Tonight we meet with someone in hopes of providing some encouragement as they learn to deal with a new normal. Changes are hard to deal with, regardless of what area of your life they impact. The challenge for me is reminding myself that it really doesn't matter how my life compares to anyone else's situation. We deal with our life; we're happy. When we start throwing other people's view of normal into the mix, things get choppy.

And even in the disability world, normals vary from person to person. Sometimes I head to the forums to find out what others are doing or how they're handling certain problems, and I always come away shaking my head at some of the staunch opinions. For example: wheelchair cushions. These air/foam cushions are the first line of defense against pressure sores in the worst places, yet every person has a different need in a cushion because of body types, wheelchair use, and mobility amount. The other day I read at least two postings ranting against Roho cushions and how awful they were. Bobby has used a Roho cushion for 32 years with very good results. I don't know how many years he used the low profile cushion, but when he switched to this wheelchair it didn't work quite as well. The tech said that particular chair worked better with the high profile cushion, so we pulled out his old backup cushion, which was high profile, and the problems ceased. I might share with someone the pros and cons of the Roho cushions, but I can't ever imagine myself telling someone not to try a product just because it didn't work for us.

Emotions, public reactions to disabilities, accessibility issues - those things are going to be very similar regardless of the situation. But once you get past that point, everything really varies from individual to individual.

So here's to Monday- a celebration of life with all its ups and downs, and a grateful spirit that the highs and lows mean no one has a handle on what is "normal".

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

election crunches

It's here. Well, it will be here as of 9am tomorrow.
Election training.
Tomorrow is hurdle one.
Monday is hurdle two.
Tuesday is hurdle three.
Then I have 10 days to totally familiarize myself with the manuals.
On October 24, the insanity begins. 10am-8pm days (except for weekends which are slightly better) until November third when early voting ends.
November 4th I pick up supplies for the regular election.
November 5th I'm on call.
November 6th my phone starts chirping at 6am and I gladly turn the phone off and return it to the Board of Elections at 9pm.
Perhaps I'll have time in my ten days off to schedule several blogs to upload.
I'm sure I'll have tons of stories that I'll desperately want to tell you but can't, but know this:
Nothing aggravates me more than to hear someone criticize the Wake County Board of Elections. People who do show how little they actually know about what's involved and how much work takes place behind the scenes. They are fair; they work hard; they train us hard; they do a great job. I like to think we temporary employees do a decent job ourselves. This is my eighth year working with BOE, and I can honestly say the process only gets better. I don't know if I'll shoot for ten years or not. A part of me says this would be a great year to end on. The other part of me really likes the paycheck.
So whatever party you belong to, you have less than a month to research the candidates and make your voice heard. Voting is more than a right; it's a responsibility. And for us girls, it's one that many women were denied in our country for many years. Let's not insult the ones who went to jail just so our voices could be heard.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

shoes

Yes, I know this is my second post for today. Yes, I can do that. :)

One of the crazy things about life with a disability is the difficulty in finding shoes. It throws a whole new kink in things.

I think I've shared in the past how I hated shoe-shopping as a child because stores never carried extra-wide widths, or they'd have two options out of the 30+ shoes in my size. But that is a blessing when I compare it to trying to find shoes for my husband.

When you sit in a wheelchair all day long, your feet swell. Yes, he does boost to shift his upper body and he can twist and turn in his seat, but his feet basically stay planted in the same spot (unless something bumps them or he uses his wheelchair feetplates as a bulldozer, which happens fairly often). And if your feet swell and your shoes are fitted, it not only cuts out the circulation in your feet but leaves horrid marks and sores. So shoes have to be soft and expandable. That's issue #1.

Side note: 32 years ago, at the time of Bobby's accident, Wallabee's were in style. And they worked PERFECT with issue number one . So he's continued to wear that style of shoe, even when it went out of style. A few years ago, those shoes came back in style, and one of his older nieces was shocked to find out they used to be in style, saying "I thought those were just handicapped people shoes." Yes dear, even Uncle Bobby can be fashionable sometimes.

Issue #2 is a bit harder to deal with: seams and inseams. Have you ever stopped to examine HOW your shoes are put together? Feet are one of the body parts that easily develop what is called a pressure sore. Pressure sores are any part of the body where there's not a lot of fat between the skin and bone (shoulder, elbow, wrist, tailbone, hip bone, ankle, heel, toes, and balls of feet) where an extended amount of unrelieved pressure can cause a sore (hence the name).  Seams in shoes tend to be very hard and create pressure on some of those sensitive spots.  Before we buy a pair of shoes, we have to check where the seams and inseams are to ensure there's nothing that could apply the slightest pressure on any of those spots.

Issue #3: stability.  Our muscles were meant to be used. Our bones were meant to be moved. Over time, if they're not moved, muscles atrophy and bones begin to shrink and condense. Hightops or anything that supports the ankle from flopping over or provides extra stability is high on our list.

Issue #4: size.  Ever tried putting a shoe on a toddler? Know how they scrunch their toes up? Try putting a shoe on an adult who is unable to hold their leg up, who has no control over their toes, and whose foot is sometimes swollen. Getting a size on that? Do you want the 6am size, the noon size, or the 9pm size? (or any variable in between?) And the heel of the shoe has to fit in the back of the wheelchair footplate. (Shoes are MUCH cheaper than new wheelchair parts.)

It was probably 8 years ago or more the last time I ordered Bobby a pair of shoes. It took four returns before we got all the issues squared away and found something we could use that had us both happy. Well, I was happy until last year when I broke my arm and ALL our help became very puzzled when I told them to get his "black" shoes. Turns out those shoes aren't black after all, and Bobby got a good laugh as he got to tell everyone about me being partially colorblind. He didn't realize I thought they were black for 6 years. Sigh... Anyway, I have since glued the soles back on those shoes, and they're starting to come lose again.

So we started the process of ordering a 8 EEE in something he can wear that looks appropriate for a law office or meeting at the legislature. We found two options. And I think we were both very happy with how it looked. Day one...no problems until the end of the day. Day two...Sunday week ago, he had some problems but we couldn't tell if it was the shoes or something else.  Day three, Thursday, we tried them again. He came home with 2 pressure sores, one of them in a very bad spot. So Friday he worked from home, meaning he could go without a shoe on that foot, as well as Saturday, and Sunday, we pulled out his old hospital slippers (for once I'm thankful the man never throws anything out), and he went to church like this:

Old shoe on right, bandaged sock foot on left.
 
 
You can imagine my surprise when one of my good friends asked me "Why didn't y'all just get a wider shoe?"  We did, dearie. That's why he's in this shape now. Sigh. Some things can't be quickly explained.
 
But I'm happy to report the sore is slowly but nicely healing. Maybe by Sunday he can be back in his old shoe. Meanwhile, we've just laughed that a different young niece (or two) would be horrified if they lived nearby and saw him like this. But it would also be a good life lesson: looks are certainly not everything.

eggs

Egg production is one of those things you have no control over. One day your chickens lay 8 eggs; tomorrow it may be 4.  Though usually, when that happens, it means they are laying somewhere else. And we have searched for that elusive nest, and finally found it, but only because a hen emerged at the "wrong time." She wasn't too hapy to see me when she came out.
 

 And this is the view from standing up...just a few eggs.
 
 This was the view when I got down on my hands and knees...um...quite a few more.
 
It was 21, to be exact. Green, blue, brown, cream... in other words...almost ALL of our birds have laid an egg there at some point in the last month.
 
They are now in an incubator. This was not a chore I anticpated on having this fall. Is it evil to hope none of them hatch?