Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Blogger Challenge - Day 6

Yea, I'm a little behind.  I'll do day 6 at the same time I update everything else.  Pictures coming for:

1.  Crossroads.  Wow.  THE single largest athletic event for young ones I have EVER been to.  I've been to sporting events.  Lots of them. State everything . . . but this was something else.  Wow.  They ran 80 volleyball courts, all day long, from 8 am until 8 pm, in three overlapping waves, for three consecutive days.  And that was just the first weekend.  I've been to major events where 20 guys played and there were 40,000 fans.  But, I've NEVER been to an event where there were 12 parents for each team on the sideline and 160 teams of 15, all in the same building at the same time.  It was nuts.

2.  Most folks live in a house.  We are currently living in a freakin' petri dish.  Ewww.  Another one home sick today with pink eye.  Both eyes.  Sheesh.  I just can't catch a break.

And now, Blogger Challenge . . . . I almost want to defer this one to another day to think about it, but I'm behind already, so I'm pushing forward.

Day 6:  Five things that the younger generation is missing.  What will you do to teach them and bridge the gap? 

My first thought, of course . . . am I the younger generation (ha!) or is that my kids?   My gut tells me to write about the kids, because I have more things I'm committed to teaching them.  So . . .

The younger generation, on the whole, is missing (1) respect.  They (2) fail to make eye contact.  In the age of texting, they (3) don't know how to speak to each other and seldom carry on a "real" conversation.  They are (4) too eager to seek help and can't problem solve or trouble shoot on their own.  (5) A few old traditions are out the window.

Respect is big in my house.  My pet peeve is tone of voice.  I can say just about anything I want to, as long as my tone is nice.  I could probably tell MOTH to "eat shit" as long as I said it with a smile.  That might have been severe, but the point is, I can NOT handle a snotty kid, especially a tween-age girl . . there's my pet peeve.  Eye rolling?  No thanks.  Big wore a blindfold for a full day to break that habit.  I'm into respectfully disagreeing.  Speak your mind but be nice about it.

I'm thinking eye contact, or lack thereof, and failure to communicate lie in the age of digital communications.  In our house, I push everyone to unplug at dinner time.  No screens at the table.  No texting.  No phone calls.  No TV.  No, no, no.  Just talk.  Talk about stickers or bathtubs or places you might want to go.  We do "bee-dubs" every night at the dinner table.  B is for Best.  Dub is for W -- worst.  We share the best and worst part of our day.  Every night.   For kids, they are unplugged except for nighttime music,  which is delivered by iPod,  and reading-on-your-kindle time from dinner until bedtime.  There are no video games in bed.  No iPod games, no iTouch apps, no Angry Birds, no DS time, no computers.   The kids watch TV on the weekends  . . . it amounts to about 4-6 hours per week, on the high side.  Unless, (yes, of course there is an exception) . . . unless someone is sick.  Then, all the rules are out the window and they can watch a marathon of Dirty Jobs all day long.  Not Nickelodeon BS brainless stuff, but they can watch NatGeo until the cows come home.  

Did I cover it?  Respect.  Check.  I'm sure I can come up with more.  Maybe I'll revise.  Eye contact.  Check.  Conversation.  Check.  Oh, has SIRI made it so easy to just ask your cell phone.  I love it, but I HATE it for my kids.  I wish SIRI knew where I moved the snack bags.  Still, I think my kids know the "stink eye" when they say something like (Hey, Middle just walked in here and said, "Mom, do you know where my kindle charger is . .  (insert stink eye) . . . uh, never mind . .  I'll look for it a little longer. . . ")  Yeah.  I should tweet my victory!   Think, younger generation.  Bang your two brain cells together and think . . . . hmmm.  Painful, but so necessary!

Old traditions  . .

I'd like my kids to know how to give a gift.  More than giving, I'd like for them to know how to give . . . from the heart and because you mean it and it's right for you . . not because you "should".  I'd like them to know how to accept a compliment.   I'd like for them to know how to write a thank you note.  And how to say they are sorry.  I'd like for them to listen to their true inner voice and trust their whisper.  I'd like for them to lead by example and live like leaders.  I'm not sure they younger generation is missing that, but it's a personal aspiration for MY offspring.

Today is . . .

Today is Leap Hump Day.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Blogger Challenge - Day 5

Day 5 . . . .  ONE single photo that best describes what you'll be doing over the next 48 hours.  One photo.

This is an easy one for me.  I got out of jail free.  Lucky me.  We'll be at a long tournament . . . . back to the challenge next week . . . .

As for today's photo:

Thursday, February 23, 2012

2012 Blogger Challenge; Day 4

Day 4:  A list of projects that are started, but currently undone in your house.  If you are really bold, add a time frame for completion.

Oh God.
Oh God.
Oh God.

I'm doing this one, but it's in draft form.  I didn't look ahead and didn't come prepared.  Thus, oh God.

1.  Ongoing project:  Scanning the kid-stuff.  I'm up to date right now, but need to go back and pick up things I missed when the scanner was on the fritz.  I'm brave, so my timeline for completion is sometime before I have grandchildren.
2.  Ongoing project:  Digital photos.  I'm digitizing everything I can.  Creating a sleek, clean album out of pictures that I can't bear to throw away.
3.  2011 Family Album.  Currently underway.  Big is helping.  It will be done sometime soon.  And by soon I mean, um, by May.
4.  Dad's Life Album . . . is underway . . . . Big is helping.  It will be done by July 1st, so that it can be displayed at his memorial on July 16th.
5.  I'm the photo historian for Middle's gymnastics team.  I have a digital photo-book in progress.  It will be done by May, so that the girls can be given copies at the awards banquet in June.
6.  Dad's photo-DVD . . . for the memorial.  Working on it.  I get easily overwhelmed and side tracked with pictures.  Need an iMovie tutorial.  It will be done by July 16th.
7.  Scanning old personnel files.  It sucks.  I do one per week.   It will be so liberating when I can sell the hunk-of-junk tin two-drawer file cabinet that is functioning as the end table in the guest room.  I've always hated that thing.
8.  Donations.  I'm doing the 40-bag thing.  I saw it on Pinterest.  Can't remember where but I've vowed to not turn down a donation truck in this calendar year.  Even if I only have one or two bags, I will give, give, give.  I have a box in the garage at all times that things get put into.  You'd think it would be empty after last weeks' massive pick-up.  You're wrong.  It's full again and the next pickup is March 5th.
9.  Furniture.  I want to get rid of the table in the extra room.  And the corner cabinet in our bedroom.  I'm just over them.  They're extra and I'd rather see the baseboards.  My ongoing project is to sell them.  I'd like the timeline to coincide with new carpet, so they can go out before new carpet comes in and never get put back.  Wishful thinking?  Maybe.
10. Carpet for the upstairs.  Measurements on Tuesday.  That's a huge project.  I'm not even sure it's in the budget, but there's no way to tell until after we have measurements.  So, I jumped in with both feet.
11. Carpet upstairs begets two other projects:  tile in the master bath.  Because I don't want carpet and if they are ripping it up, I also don't want splintery subfloor.  AND . . . . master closet reorganization.  Uh.  That's so big it makes me shake my head.  Timeline:  no freakin' idea.
12.  Project paint-the-downstairs-bathroom.   It's been beach-y for a while.  I'm ready for a change.  I'd like a picture mural but I don't like the price tag.  I might paint it.  But I'm a little afraid.  The walls have no texture and that presents a problem.  Timeline:  ideally, before Homestead visits this summer (hint, hint).
13.  Ongoing project:  meal planning, preparation and healthy lifestyle-slash-eating for the family.  I'm obsessed with TLC programming.  Right now, I'm hooked on "My 600-pound Life."  Amazing.  Just amazing.  I'm also borderline obsessed with weight loss gimmicks, advertisements, fitness stuff and overall diet and health related stuff.    Mostly, because the whole idea of healthy lifestyle is about SO MUCH more than being skinny.

I'm certain I will revisit that in the next day or week and change/amend.  Hmm.  Curiously, I actually feel a little more organized right now.  Rock on.  I think I liked that.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

2012 Blogger Challenge; Day 3

Day 3:  A photo from your day today

Wow.  Imagine a post and challenge that coincide with a day that something amazing happened.

Today was my dad's memorial service, put on by the Colorado State Veterans Nursing Home.  I went with my mom, Big and Mimi.

We left home shortly after noon and took a nice drive (despite the high wind advisory) to get there on time. A Vietnam Navy Veteran who does volunteer work at the nursing home presented my dad's life.  His name was Gary Baldwin and he did an amazing job of discovering his history and presenting his life, his military time and focusing on some amazing details.  I was amazed at the time and effort that went into his presentation, in research of Japanese American Army Units and history alone.

See the hat?  That's dad's original Army issue service hat.  The social worker at the nursing home found it through a series of military chat rooms.  A military collector living in England bought it at a thrift shop in Ireland.  He had recently posted my dad's name in a military chat room with, "does anyone know anything about this guy? I just bought his hat.  The original name is inside."   The social worker jumped right on it and started negotiating a price for the hat.  He ended up getting it, and it was presented to me (formally) today (see below) . . .

Along with his original service cap, a group of Veteran volunteers at the nursing home presented me with this:

That's a bronze star . . . the military's fourth-highest award for bravery, heroism or meritorious service.   The list of the medals that are coming is amazing.  I had NO idea.  My newest goal is to educate myself on what they all mean and how he earned them all.  There is, of course, more of a story to the bronze star but I need a wee-bit of time to process all of it.

Suffice it to say that today was an amazing day.  It was a "memorial" day, but it was filled with lots of hugs, tons of love and such good stories and recollections about my dad.  It's so very clear from talking to the ladies and gentlemen at the nursing home that he was loved by so, so many people.  There is certainly a Roy-sized hole in eveyones' heart, but his memories and the legacy he left are warmly cherished.   I sat with Max today.  Max, my dad's BFF, who visited while dad was in the hospital.  Forgetful Max, who hung his head at the bedside and sobbed, saying, "get better soon  . . . I sure miss you."  Max, the grieving man who left it all at the bedside and absolutely ripped my heart out.  Max.  Sweet, sweet Max is getting better.  The nurses tell me that he is coming out of his room now and that he is starting to find his way.  He hugged me like there was no tomorrow and asked me to write to him.  He told me he was honored to be a friend to my dad and that it was one of his life's blessings to have the privilege to spend time with dad.

It was an amazing day.  It was a truly amazing day.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

2012 Blogger Challenge; Day Two

In picture or written form, ten of your favorite things:

1.   Blogging
2.  My kids

3.   Coffee

4.  Organization . . . it makes me feel centered and together
5.  Giving . . . it makes me feel good.  Whether it's a piece of gum or hours of volunteer work . . it makes me feel good.

6.  Sharpies.  Go figure.  I just love them.  Scratch that.  Replace with 'office supplies'.  I love office supplies.

7.  Waking up before the alarm clock goes off.  Just a minute or two, and it feels best if I awake refreshed.  

8.  Laughing.  Almost any form.  Movies.  Books.  Jokes.  Practical Jokes.  Comedy.  Stand-up.  I love, love, love a gut-busting giggle that makes me laugh until the tears run down my legs.  I especially appreciate a witty and quick dialogue that cracks me up hours or days later when I replay it in my mind.  Inside jokes, too.  Love those. 

9.  Pinterest.  Oh, great time sucker, but oh, so fun. 

10.  A good vacuum.  Especially when the *&^^% dogs are shedding & I'm over-run with dog hair.  A good vacuum makes me very, very happy. 

Pikes Peak Cup 2012

I hinted around it and promised pictures but never got them taken care of.  Drumroll, please.

Pikes Peak Cup 2012 was a raging success.  Girls from our home gym looked great, represented well and had a great meet.   Middle's session was the last session of the weekend, session 17.   She had the best meet of her Level 5 season.  She won all-around for her age division and she also took first on beam.  She took second on floor, second on bars & second on vault.

Isn't it just cool . . . that her teammates are in the 2nd and 3rd place spots, too??

So, so, so very proud of our tiny gymnast :)

She had been eyeballing the all-around medals all weekend, saying how 'cool' they were.
I'm glad she got to bring one home! 

Four blue ribbons . . .YEAH!!

Proud mama & papa with our tiny little champion :) 

Monday, February 20, 2012

2012 Blogger Challenge; Day One

I'm taking another Blogger challenge.  Won't you come along with me?   I'm changing a few things along the way, only if the category falls into my personal pit of blogger-taboo topics.  And, I'm adding pictures where ever possible.

And so . . .

Day One:  Something that you are good at

In our house, I am the un-tangler.  I'm highly skilled at un-doing spaghetti.  Cords, necklaces, any kind of three-dimensional puzzle.  Like this:

Perfect 4th Birthday

I"m catching up on some photos I've been meaning to blog .  .  . 

With winter, illness, wellness, volleyball, gymnastics, the holidays and blah, blah, blah, the list goes on forever, my desktop is filling up and today is the day to get some space out! 

Mimi's 4th birthday . . . . there's nothing like starting the morning with a full-on bear-hug tackle style, in the kitchen. 

And a morning present . . . 

And birthday crumb cake with a 'happy birthday' chorus . . . 

Then later, a mommy day full of stuff that ended in baking cookies :) YUM!! 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Good Gosh and Golly-Me.

Today is sucking.

In case you don't really believe that it is, indeed, the little things, believe it now.

It IS the little things . . . they can add up to a beautiful thing or they can form an angry hoard of mosquitos that sting you in the tenders, all at the same time.

It started with Little and a fever.  Great timing, since he was already going to the doctor this morning for blood work.  Perfect.  As if that wasn't stressing me out all on its own.  Polyuria.  Polydipsia.  You know where I'm going with our family history and those two things.  I was holding my breath.

Anyway, getting kids out the door and off to school today was a small act of God  . . . I moved mountains to get them there on time.  I hate those kind of mornings.

Then Little to the doctor.

But work got in the way as I was walking out the door.  Nothing major.  I know I bitch about work.  I have what most folks would consider THE perfect job.  But it doesn't light my fire and most days I feel exhausted and drained  instead of rewarded and invigorated.  It's not what I wanted.  Scratch that.  It's not what I want.  Past tense.  Current tense.  Both.  Together.

Little presented at the doctor's office for a urine test and blood screen.  Ah, with a fever of 102.4.  Awesome.  A strep screen and two sick visits later, we left with the all too familiar, "it's a virus" diagnosis. I knew that.  I wouldn't have even taken him to the doctor today except that he was already scheduled to be seen.  But, that bought him a stay-home-with-mom-all-day ticket.  Which was lovely.

I had a series of emotional moments revolving (a) work, (b) my mom and work (c) my mom, (d) work again, (e) some beef jerky that came through the washer, out of the pocket of my dad's Mr. Roger's sweater, (f) generally being overwhelmed and grumpy and (g) being just flat out lonely.

Though it seemed like a good idea to plant myself on the couch with Little and watch the boob-tube all afternoon, MOTH arrived home early and I snuck off to the gym.  Two and a half miles on the treadmill left me feeling . . . . . not as great as I had hoped.  Still, I'm proud of myself for making the choice to go.  It would have been much easier to pop a bag of Orville Extra Butter and be a fat-ass with my feverish son.  These are the days when I need the gym most . . . when I don't want to go at all.

My favorite jeans are missing.  What the hell?  How does a pair of jeans that is in every-other-day use go missing?  All out gone.  I tore apart closets today in search of my favorite contrast stitched Tenleys.  I can't find them.  And that pisses me off.  I made heaps of clothes in frustration.  I created a much bigger mess to clean up.  I pisses me off that I got pissed off enough to create more work for myself.  How dumb was that?

I even tore into Big's closet.  Sometimes, when MOTH thinks he's helping, he tries to do some laundry.  These are the times when white things suddenly look camo-tie-dyed and all of my stuff ends up in Big's closet.  Don't get me wrong, I'll take the compliment that my jeans look like her jeans (they don't if you have an eye for it . . there is a big difference between mom-size jeans and a cute little juniors size 1), still . . . I thought MAYBE they'd be hiding in her closet.  Not so much.  I'm secretly horrified that they may have snuck into one of those eight Lupus Association donation bags that were in front of my house yesterday.  Damn, damn, damn.   Husbands and laundry.  I could post a whole post on husbands and laundry.  I know some guys are super adept at laundry.  MOTH?  Not so much.  He could hold his own, if death and dismemberment were on the table, but I have a feeling he'd just get to the bottom of the barrel and buy new duds.  Sometimes I think he secretly sabotages his laundry performance so that I will throw my hands up and say, "Holy, cow, I've got this . . . go find something else to screw up!!"  This, as he slinks toward the couch with a "ha, ha, ha", that-worked-like-a-charm grin on his face.

As of right now, I have upped the previously offered $5 reward to anyone who finds my missing jeans to $10.

In the midst of the day, I had to buy a new thermometer.  We have four in the house but none of them work either.  I took my temperature with one and am proud to announce that I'm functioning well despite my hypothermic temperature.  New batteries for old thermometers are $7 a pop.  The heck with that.  But the new thermometer I bought is also a dud.  Awesome.  Had to go back to Walgreens to return that.  Only things are never just a simple exchange.  It needs some magical tag and to be processed like a return.  Then I have to re-purchase.  Sheesh.  All this when I could touch a cheek to a forehead and announce, "It's 101 . . here, have some Motrin."

Little, despite feeling like crap warmed over, attended his Tae Kwon Do awards ceremony tonight.  He earned his yellow belt and three stars for academic performance.  Yea.  Go Little.

Okay, I have a few more things that are stuck in my craw, but it's 8:20 and I'm tired.  I've got a ton left to do tonight, so I'll form a better thought out iRant later.   Plus, I need to think about something other than my missing jeans, fevers & the aforementioned list of little things that have me stressed out and hacked off.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Really good.  It was a kindle deal-of-the-day.  I pre-read it for my 10-12 year old crowd.  Very good.  Unique concept, well written, just when you think "what else could happen?", something else happens.  A good lesson in honesty  . . . .

Four stars for the 4th to 8th grade reader . . . .

The charity was good, but the reality sucked.

Well, here's the photo of what the Lupus Association Donation amounted to this morning.  Eight really big bags.  Eight, industrial sized, really large, extra full bags.   Seven of these were personal belongings of Pop's.  Clothes, mostly.  I'm not much of a sentimental keeper.  I don't have a strong pull to hang on to things like windbreakers and socks and sweaters and such.  Still, when it was all out in the drive, there was a bit of a sting.  It kind of sucked.  And even going through his things, pangs come from nowhere.  

I've no place to record them but here . . . . 

He wore windbreakers.  When I close my eyes and see him, he's in a windbreaker.  Button up the front, slash pockets.  He was on a lifetime search for better pockets on windbreakers.  Slash pockets dump the contents all over and his pockets were always full of coins, toothpicks, mints (wintergreen Certs or Werther's original).  He pinned the pockets together with safety pins and then cursed that they were hard to get into.  I can hear him saying, "well, at least my stuff didn't fall out in the car seat."  One of those bags has LOTS of windbreakers in it.  I found a few stray toothpicks and some certs.  A few rolos and a penny or two.  

I saved a few shirts.  He was a sucker for gawdy Hawaiian shirts.  They will make a nice piece of the scrap quilt I'm saving for.  He had a grey Mr. Rogers sweater that I loved.  I kept that, too.  I'm not sure exactly why.  It just felt right.  And handkerchiefs.  I'm a sucker for hankies.  Gross, I know, but get past the blow-your-nose-in-them-and-carry-your-own-boogers-around-in-your-pocket-all-day aspect and they are kind of sweet.  Traditional.  For our wedding, I had hankies embroidered with our names & the date. I found that hanky in his stack.  Hello, tears. 

I'm working through boxes and bags.  The goal is to get through the majority of it before next Wednesday when I go pick up the rest.  Eureka, I know.  I can only handle a bag or two per week.  It's overwhelming and makes me ache.  Deeply, viscerally ache.   

Shields, Pigs, Monkeys, Owls, Socking Evil in the Jaw and Ninjas Need Love, Too.

When Big was little, she said "val-is-tines".  We still say it around here.

Happy Val-is-tines Day, World.

And . . .

Valentine's Day.  Didn't I post a long deal about Valentine's Day last year.  Not my favorite.  I think I researched St. Valentine.  Oh yes, here it is.   No need to repeat my un-love for the commercialization of Valentine's Day.  It's yet another opportunity to spend money on crap that people give away.  Ugh.  I'm off on another tirade.  Still, we "do" Valentine's Day around here.

Big, middle schooler that she is, didn't have major plans for hearts day.  I still sent a love note in her lunchbox.  I'm like that.

Little's class made love potion and had popcorn.  They had assignments to make their own Valentine boxes.  My challenge was to use what we have.  No money out.  Here's what he came up with.  Yes, I helped.  I sawed the corners off of the pizza box, but the idea, paint & design is all his.  Finished product:

Google images inspiration:

I'm thinking, "yea, totally."

Middle had a party last week.   Same challenge applied to her.  She made a purple box pig.  Like this:

And Mimi spent long, long hours taking care of Valentine business.  Sticker mania.  She had a ball.  When she was done here, she stapled little packages of sweet tarts to these guys.  She became so engrossed with monkey making and owl crafting that she actually made enough for Middle's class too.   Do I ever LOVE the power of the sticker.  Absolutely mesmerizing.

Oh, wait.  One more thing on Valentine's Day.  Today is my Grandfather's birthday.  He would have been, um, hold on . . math in my head . . . . he died in 1980 and he was 97, I think.  So what's that . . 129?

Wow. Happy Birthday & Happy Valentine's Day.

Oooh-ooh, one more thing.  I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Valentines for boys.  Little delivered this to my desk this afternoon with a hershey kiss.  Sweet.  And I almost choked on the kiss when I read, "sock evil in the jaw."  Now THAT'S true love.  Say it loud and with super-hero conviction and intonation, like this, "SOCK EVIL IN THE JAWWWWW!!!"

And, the conversation went like this:

Little, "I'm wearing all black today."
Middle, "It's Valentine's Day  . . . don't you want to wear red?"
Little, "No."
Middle, "Really?  Everyone wears red or pink on Valentine's Day."
Mimi, "Yea, or purple."
Little, "Well, I'm wearing all black."
Me, "You look like a ninja."
Little, "Well, ninjas need love, too."

Monday, February 13, 2012

Finding Kind

Finding Kind . . .

Big's school has instituted a new program to help prevent and to increase awareness on female bullying.  I think it's amazing.  But it took some convincing for me to make that call.  When the paperwork first started coming home, I was MORE than hesitant.  There was a launch night and a mandatory school assembly for all the girls.  The boys attended a different gender-specific thing.  The question that kept running through my head was:  is that REALLY necessary?  I was thinking about it along the same lines as a minority club.  My take?  Complain that you don't fit in . . . and then ostracize yourself by choice in a place where you only eat with people "just like you".  Before the emails and comments start pouring in, know that I AM a minority.  I was in a minority club. I believe in them, when they are done with the right intent.  Anyway, my fear was like eating disorder support group, where you leave with awesome ideas on how to further fuc* up your metabolism, the girls would leave with new and better ways to torture each other.

The program is called Finding Kind.  Watch the youtube trailer here: 

It's the story of Lauren and Molly.  One day, they loaded a minivan with themselves & their mothers and they set out on a cross country road trip to shoot a documentary and build a school program about the power of kindness.  It's amazing.

Last week, there was an open forum at school.  Mothers and daughters attended and did a series of workshops and discussion topics.  I have a bunch of thoughts on this, but I'll boil it down to this:

1.  I love this program because I push and preach kindness in our home 24/7.  A little kindness goes a long, long way.  I'm in the group that raises their hand when the opening question is asked, "raise your hand if a fellow female's comments about you or to you have had a negative impact on you."  I raise my hand.  The thing is, it's not just when you are in 6th, 7th, 8th grade.  I'm in the group that raises their hand because as an adult, I've been impacted by someone, something, some series of events.

2.  We've had a bunch of recent events where kindness matters.  Kindness just matters.  Big's volleyball team plays in a league in a town about 30 minutes north of here.  The man and woman that run the facility are absolute ogres.  They march about with frowns upon their faces searching for small children that they can correct and make cry. It's stressful to go there.  It's a terrible way to run a business.  It's a terrible situation.  I'm sure there is more to the story, but as a guest in their facility, it's a nerve-racking, God-awful experience.  Every week.  See, a little kindness would go a long, long way.  Supposedly, they run an amazing volleyball program and turn out great players.  But my daughter will NEVER know that potential, because I won't pay to have her surrounded by adult mentors that are mean and menacing and use fear to motivate.

3.  Here's one of my biggest soapboxes.  There's more to every story.  We all hate to be judged, so I have to pass along this story to the best of my abilities.  In the mother-daughter event last week, there was a brief open mic portion where mothers could share their stories.   One lady stood and began to tell her story.  She had been bullied terribly as a high school student.  At a recent class reunion, she saw the girl (now grown woman) who had reigned such terror down on her.  She boldly chose a seat next to the woman and they began a conversation.  As the night progressed, she became much more bold in the conversation that was progressing and she asked, "why were you so mean to me in high school?"  At the question, the woman broke down into tears and apologized profusely.  Then she explained that during high school, her parents had just divorced, and in those years, she was living with her mother and new step-father.  Her step father was sexually abusing her and she did not know how to cope with it.  She admitted that she was foul in high school and that she treated people terribly.  She apologized and asked for forgiveness and explained that the power she used over other girls in the school setting was the only power that she had.  I have to think about that and let it sink in.  The only power that she had was being mean.  Wow.  And I think it helps to know that sometimes, just sometimes, there is more of a reason that just "being mean".  It's more that just a "mean girl" or doing awful things for the thrill of eliciting a bad reaction.

4.  It's a lot of work.  To parent and teach and learn and be vulnerable with your child.  It's a kind of parenting that wasn't even around 20 (or maybe 10) years ago.  But it's worth doing.  Anything worth doing is worth doing right.  Moms of daughters . . . go look at that trailer.  Find a screening of Finding Kind.  Go see it with your daughter.  Start the discussion.

I'm starting my week with that thought.  Be kind.   It's the one thing we can all do.  We might not all be pretty.  Or smart.  Or thin.  Or enough.  But we can all be kind.

Just be kind.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Pop's Obituary

This ran today . . .

Roy S. Fujii, 92

Posted: Thursday, Feb 9th, 2012

COLORADO SPRINGS — Surrounded by family, long-time Valley resident, Roy S. Fujii, 92, passed away on January 20th, 2012 in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Roy was born in Portland, Ore. on February 25, 1919. During his time in the Valley, he farmed in the Waverly area, working in the insurance business in Alamosa and could be seen with friends on the golf course or at many area lakes with fishing pole in hand. He enjoyed attending sports functions, keeping up with area happenings and raising his two children in the Valley.

Roy served in the United States Army for many years, working in Military Intelligence during World War II. He served under General MacArthur in the famous Battle of Bataan. Later, he served in Minnesota where he was the Army athletic officer and coached baseball. He left the Army as a Captain and returned to the Valley where he married LaDonna Jean Prall in 1968. They enjoyed 26 years of marriage. In November 2011, he was among the veteran members of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, 100th Infantry Battalion and MIS to receive a Congressional Gold Medal for his service.

Roy was an avid sports enthusiast with a special passion for baseball, basketball, volleyball & golf. He enjoyed and encouraged his children and grandchildren through their years with gymnastics, cheerleading, track and field, wrestling and judo.

Since 2000, Roy has been living at The Colorado State Veteran’s Nursing Home in Walsenburg.

He is survived by his son, Terry (Erin) Fujii of Phoenix, Ariz. and daughter, Laura Jean Sumiko Fujii-Hagler (Kevin), of Colorado Springs, his grandchildren, Shae, Rees, Kai & Tess (Hagler) and Jade (Fujii), and two sisters, Esther and Kim.

He is preceded in death by his parents, Katsusaburo and Asao Ishibashi Fujii, two sisters, Alyce and Mary, and two brothers, Carl and Ben.

A memorial service and military honors will be held in Colorado Springs on July 16th, 2012 at 2 p.m. at Swan-Law Funeral Directors, 501 North Cascade Avenue, Colorado Springs, Colo. 80903.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a contribution in Mr. Fujii’s honor to Pikes Peak Hospice & Palliative Care or Colorado State Veteran’s Nursing Home.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

My Floors: Our Love-Hate Relationship

Grrr.  Let me just start with a deep growl.

These are my floors.  When was this upgrade?  I'm not sure.  2009.  Or maybe it was 2008.  Or maybe 2010.  I can't remember.  What I remember is really being in love with bamboo flooring.  It's what I wanted.  But then when I saw the samples IN my house, it turned out . . . not so much.  I didn't like it.  It was too uniform and too dark (or too light), but not just right.  Plus, I liked the snarls and knots and dings in the flooring that I actually chose. This.  It's walnut.  I still love it.

One of the things I really love are these contrast areas.  Dark walnut.  Light walnut.  I also have a couple of direction changes which I really do love and would definitely do again.  Likely, just like I did.  I like it all that much.  It makes sense and it's very aesthetically pleasing.

Here's something I don't love.  See that big honkin' crack?  There are places where the wood shrunk.  Significantly.  Even in the rainy season and even when I run a humidifier 24/7.  There are still gaps.  Shit gets in those cracks and it makes me bonkers.  Yes, I'm kinda anal about that.  It makes me nuts.  Dog hairs, popcorn kernels, bird seed.  I'm constantly vacuuming the floor to suck cracks.  Whatever.  Laugh if you want.  I'm a shameless crack sucker.  Thank heavens for Dyson.

And here's one more thing.  It's NOT scratch-proof.  Ha.  I laugh at the guy who sold it to us saying it would stand up to 150 pound dog and four kids.  HA HA HA HA HA.  See those gouges?  I'm not sure any flooring, any surface, anything could stand up to Moose when the doorbell rings and he comes barreling through the house at full tilt.  So, yea, there are scratches.    I guess I'll sand it down, buff it out and reseal it after the Moose era ends.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Some Jazzy Ideas . . .

Rubbing a walnut over scratches in furniture will disguise dings & scrapes.

Re-use a wet-wipes container for plastic bags.

Add baby powder to your beach bag.  Baby powder gets sand off of skin easily.
Use wire to make a space saving storage area for gift wrap rolls.

Find tiny lost items like earrings by putting a stocking over the vacuum hose.

Use a muffin tin as a craft caddy.  Magnets hold the plastic cups down.

Bread tags for cord labels.

Tension rod under the sink for spray bottles.

I can't wait to try this.  Turn a muffin pan upside down & bake cookie dough over the top.  Voila.  Cookie bowls for fruit or ice cream.  Sheer genius. 

I also can't wait to try this one.  Create a window box veggie patch using guttering. 

This came at such an appropriate time . . .

My dear friend, something-like-a-mother, emailed this to me the week Pop died.  I've been thinking about what to do with it.  Of all the cards and letters and things that came to me, this is one of my very favorites.

This seems appropriate . . .

I am a doctor specializing in the Emergency Departments of the only two military Level One-Trauma Centers, both in San Antonio, TX and they care for civilian Emergencies as well as military personnel. San Antonio has the largest military retiree population in the world living here. As a military doctor, I work long hours and the pay is less than glamorous. One tends to become jaded by the long hours, lack of sleep, food, family contact and the endless parade of human suffering passing before you. The arrival of another ambulance does not mean more pay, only more work. Most often, it is a victim from a motor vehicle crash.

Often it is a person of dubious character who has been shot or stabbed. With our large military retiree population, it is often a nursing home patient. Even with my enlisted service and minimal combat experience in Panama, I have caught myself groaning when the ambulance brought in yet another sick, elderly person from one of the local retirement centers that cater to military retirees. I had not stopped to think of what citizens of this age group represented.

I saw 'Saving Private Ryan.' I was touched deeply. Not so much by the carnage, but by the sacrifices of so many. I was touched most by the scene of the elderly survivor at the graveside, asking his wife if he'd been a good man. I realized that I had seen these same men and women coming through my Emergency Department and had not realized what magnificent sacrifices they had made. The things they did for me and everyone else that has lived on this planet since the end of that conflict are priceless. 

Situation permitting, I now try to ask my patients about their experiences. They would never bring up the subject without the inquiry. I have been privileged to an amazing array of experiences, recounted in the brief minutes allowed in an Emergency Department encounter. These experiences have revealed the incredible individuals I have had the honor of serving in a medical capacity, many on their last admission to the hospital. 

There was a frail, elderly woman who reassured my young enlisted medic, trying to start an IV line in her arm. She remained calm and poised, despite her illness and the multiple needle-sticks into her fragile veins. She was what we call a 'hard stick.' As the medic made another attempt, I noticed a number tattooed across her forearm. I touched it with one finger and looked into her eyes. She simply said, ' Auschwitz.' Many of later generations would have loudly and openly berated the young medic in his many attempts. How different was the response from this person who'd seen unspeakable suffering.

Also, there was this long retired Colonel, who as a young officer had parachuted from his burning plane over a Pacific Island held by the Japanese. Now an octogenarian, he had a minor cut on his head from a fall at his home where he lived alone. His CT scan and suturing had been delayed until after midnight by the usual parade of high priority ambulance patients. Still spry for his age, he asked to use the phone to call a taxi, to take him home, then he realized his ambulance had brought him without his wallet. He asked if he could use the phone to make a long distance call to his daughter who lived 7 miles away. With great pride we told him that he could not, as he'd done enough for his country and the least we could do was get him a taxi home, even if we had to pay for it ourselves. My only regret was that my shift wouldn't end for several hours, and I couldn't drive him myself. 

I was there the night M/Sgt Roy Benavidez came through the Emergency Department for the last time. He was very sick. I was not the doctor taking care of him, but I walked to his bedside and took his hand. I said nothing. He was so sick, he didn't know I was there. I'd read his Congressional Medal of Honor citation and wanted to shake his hand. He died a few days later.

The gentleman who served with Merrill's Marauders,

the survivor of the Bataan Death March,  (My side note: These words ring in my ears . . . I read an article written about my dad last week after I collected his belongings.  Even I, his daughter didn't know that he narrowly escaped The Bataan Death March.  He was in the small group that evacuated to Australia only hours before thousands of American soldiers became POW's.)

the survivor of Omaha Beach,

the 101 year old World War I veteran.

The former POW held in frozen North Korea,

The former Special Forces medic - now with non-operable liver cancer,

the former Viet Nam Corps Commander.

I may still groan when yet another ambulance comes in, but now I am much more aware of what an honor it is to serve these particular men and women.

I have seen a Congress who would turn their back on these individuals who've sacrificed so much to protect our liberty. I see later generations that seem to be totally engrossed in abusing these same liberties, won with such sacrifice.

It has become my personal endeavor to make the nurses and young enlisted medics aware of these amazing individuals when I encounter them in our Emergency Department.  Their response to these particular citizens has made me think that perhaps all is not lost in the next generation.

My experiences have solidified my belief that we are losing an incredible generation, and this nation knows not what it is losing. Our uncaring government and ungrateful civilian populace should all take note. We should all remember that we must 'Earn this.'

Written By CAPT. Steven R. Ellison, M.D. US Army