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Put It Away

ORGANIZATION AT WORK OR HOME

My BLog

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Growing older and my most embarrassing moment.

Posted on September 18, 2012 at 4:36 PM Comments comments (3)
It is raining today. What a blessing. We are still in the drought and have not had any rain for several weeks and just had two weeks of high temperatures. Rain seems so foreign, but soooo welcome. A perfect day to just lie in the hammock all day, but of course, not enough time to do that anyway.

Besides, honestly, I am not a hammock person…I get dizzy if I am in anything that moves: swinging or around. I get so sick I cannot even walk.

We are having a garage sale this weekend. Hummm. I think I remember that last time I had a garage sale saying I would never do it again. But, Maria and Travis had some stuff to sell and suggested we do it together so I have been gathering stuff. It is simply amazing how you can accumulate so much unnecessary stuff.

And then I get to thinking…why did I buy that in the first place? What possessed me at the moment that I thought I had to have that certain item? I guess we all just like to buy stuff. That is one of the reasons I record all the shows we watch, so we can fast forward through the commercials and not be tempted. That is also why, when I bring in the mail, that I stand by the trash can and throw away any circulars, etc. so that again, I am not tempted to look through them and want to buy something.

I have cut back my schedule where I am working less days, which is really nice. Before; the computer class I taught…I went Monday through Thursday for just an hour each day. I asked them if they could change it to two days a week for two hours each day. They did, which means I am making the same, but I only go two day a week. Yea!

It also works out better for the class. It would seem as though I would just be explaining something or we would just be into a project and then I would have to go. It is much better now that the classes are longer.
I have been working really hard on the gardens in the front of the house. I really neglected them during the 100 degree temperatures this summer.

They were looking horrible, but I now have them 2/3’s weeded. This next week, I hope to start moving plants around. We are going to eliminate one of the large gardens in the front.

For years, I have had large gardens and have taken flower arrangements to church each Sunday. However, in a moment of self-reflection (and trying to figure out how I can finish a book that I am trying to write). I realized that it had become more of a duty than a pleasure.

I spoke with Fito and neither of us wants to keep spending the amount of time that is needed to keep on so many gardens. Time to downsize.
I see this in many older people. They simply cannot maintain the same home, yard, garden, and so on as they have done for many years. If they have the resources available and chose to do so, it is fine if they stay in their home. However, if they do not have the money, I do not think it is right of them to expect their children, friends, or church friends to do all of their maintenance.

An occasional hand up or help out is okay, but they should not expect others to do everything for them. Unless of course, there is a win-win situation. What is a win-win?

That is when each one “scratches each other’s back”. Maybe you cut their grass each week- but they babysit for you when there is an emergency. It is finding a way to say thank you, but in a tangible way. Each working to bless the lives of each other.

After my father died, we did many things for my mother (and her for us) which worked fine. But there reaches a point when health declines to a point that a loved one cannot, nor should not be alone, nor driving, nor doing other things alone. And to ask a child or a friend to keep maintaining your home and yard, while maintaining their own home is just a little too much.

Circumstances occurred that we moved and then my mom ended up with us (I went and rescued her from a nursing home…yucky place to be…I tell everyone to NOT put a loved one in one until you have spent at least 72 hours [without leaving] in one to make sure it is the right place)…and I will add that sometimes it is the right thing to do.

Sharing a home has truly been a win-win for us as well as for my mom. But I am preparing now to be ready for my time of old age. Each year, I need to down size a little more and try to eliminate chores, clutter, and un-done paper work so my children don’t get stuck with messes to clean up or worry about.

I have had a horrible persistent cough. I really wouldn’t be surprised if I found out I had walking pneumonia. I have been on two different antibiotics. I think it is going away after four to five good hours and then it returns with a vengeance. It seems to be lurking in my lungs…ready to sneak out and embarrass me by making me cough while teaching, giving a presentation, etc.

Speaking of embarrassing. Perhaps the most humiliating moment in my life happened over 29 years ago when I was similarly sick.

I was a missionary at the time and had the same horrible, suffocating, wrenching cough. I was in the car with my companion in the front passenger seat and two elders (male missionaries) riding in the back.

I do not remember where we were going or if we were coming from a meeting or what. I only remember that I had run out of tissues and needed to spit. (Yes, this is really gross and I cannot believe I am sharing this).

I kept coughing up phlegm and swallowing it because, first of all, a lady does not spit, and second, there was no place to put it. Then I started having almost a seizure, the coughing was so bad. I then did the only thing I could-- and spit out the window.

But the worst is yet to come. The phlegm went out the window and flew right back in and landed on the Elder sitting behind me. He yelled. I frantically left the highway. We finally found a place to stop that had paper towels and got him cleaned up.

Actually, he was pretty gracious about it and the Elders teased me incessantly about it. I apologized probably 100 times. I am still alive, but I still cringe every time I think about that horrible moment.
 
 
 

Girl's camp, major cooking, and Tammy rants about parenting and how people dress

Posted on June 21, 2012 at 10:45 AM Comments comments (6)
Another wonderful weekend, except for a very hectic Saturday morning where one thing after another went wrong. The day just went from long to longer.

My mother-in-law was coming today, so I woke up early and cleaned and cleaned. Bedding needed to be changed, toys put away, laundry, floors swept, bathroom cleaned, etc.

After about two hours of working on my own, I woke up the children and put them to work helping me. Then I started cooking. I made Spanish Rice, Carne Guisada and then Elizabeth asked me to make some Chili which I did.

I had already made a new pot of Pinto Beans with the left over Ham bone and gravy from the ham from last week.

My mother-in-law finally arrived. Travis and Maria picked her up from the airport and her plane had had mechanical problems so she had been rerouted through another state and had been delayed several hours.
Matthew came over as well and we visited and ate.

I then had to take Elizabeth to a public pool to get her a swim test in preparation of going to Girl’s camp next week. The life guard did not have her certification with her, so I will have to have them fax it or email it on Monday.

They were really nice to work her in and let her take the test while they were still running the pool. There still are many nice people out there that can “make do”.

Then we found out that her ride to camp was not going to materialize. We had misunderstood the plans of someone else, so I decided it was just best to drive her to her cousin’s in Dallas and let her just travel to the camp with the whole group.

I left with Elizabeth at 5:00 pm and arrived back home just a little after 11:00 pm. Then a week later, I drove back to Dallas to pick her up, except this time I hit traffic...yuk.

I actually like driving, but these trips are when I wish I had satellite radio in the car. I took the Suburban and realized again that I really like driving it. I think I want to trade in my Mercury for a small SUV.

Well Sunday came and went. Fito went to the Spanish service with his mom, while the children and I went to our service. They invited over a family…we invited over a family…so lots of company at the house.
Monday, I contacted the supervisor at the Parks and Recreation Department to get them to fax to the camp the life guard’s certification.

I was told they could not do so without permission from the City Clerk.
So I called the City Clerk and was told they needed a written request asking for the release of the information. I sent an email doing so.

I went on with my work and day and then realized Tuesday morning that the camp still had not received the info. I called the City Clerk’s office and was told it was in the legal department. I called there. Each time I called one of the departments, I was put on hold, had to wait, be transferred to person to person, until finally I would find the person who knew something or would try to find out something.

Another day comes and goes. Now it is Wednesday morning and I had been unsuccessful in reaching someone at the girl’s camp. I was so afraid that because they did not have the certifications from the life guards that they were not letting Elizabeth swim or participate in the water activities.

I again called the Park and recreation Department, the City Clerk’s office, and the legal department. I finally was told that the Park Dept. had permission now to release the certification’s, but that they did not have them because the Red Cross had not sent them as yet.

I then spent time talking to individuals to see if I could find someone to write a letter explaining that the life guards were certified, etc. After 2 hours of different calls, I went on to work and then home.

When I got home, I checked my email and a woman with whom I had had no contact had emailed me the certifications…and over 2 hours ago! I had spent all that time on the phone for nothing.

I faxed and emailed them to anyone I knew that might have contact with the camp leaders, hoping to get the information there so Elizabeth could swim.

Of course, I found out later, that the leaders had trusted us, and had gone ahead and let Elizabeth swim the whole time. (Yea, for common sense).

But can you believe the bureaucractic red-tape gobbly gook? And they wonder why they are inefficient? Companies, governments, organizations should look for ways to reduce paper work, forms, policies, and procedures. But instead, they usually just add more regulations, more forms, more…more…more…which just makes it more complicated and less efficient.

I still have been waking up early…is it summer hours? But I get a lot done. Right now, with my Mother-in-law here, I do not have to cook as much, but I take her places and so forth so the time saved disappears in other forms.

Took mom to her hair appointment and then out to eat. Her short term memory is even worse. Yesterday, I was with her all afternoon and she asked me perhaps seven times what the date was. She kept thinking it was April or May. Even things I told her just a few hours or days ago are lost to her and she doesn’t remember.

Today, she came into the kitchen all dressed and ready to go. Fito asked her what she was doing, and she replied, “Tammy should be here to take me to my hair appointment. “

Fito said, “Mom, today is Wednesday, not Thursday.”

Then she said, “Oh, I guess I will go back and do whatever I was doing before, but I do not remember what I was doing before…so I guess it doesn’t matter.”

Last night, I made 3 huge pans of Goulash and put them in the freezer. Next week is a family reunion, mainly for my mom…of my siblings and their children. Four of the six children will be coming and about ½ of the grandchildren will be here.

I also made a great big batch of the filling for Pupusas for the reunion. I saved some and Nena (my mom-in-law) and I made Pupusas for dinner.
I also had made the Apple-Coconut bread this week and changed it somewhat. I did not have two cans of apple to add. So I substituted a can of tropical fruit instead. Wow. The bread was great. Also, when I add a can instead of using real apples, I take a knife and cut the apples (fruit) into small pieces.

We went to a wedding on Friday and then their reception on Saturday evening and that leads me to discuss again “Parenting”.

I sure wish the parents of the children I saw at both occasions would read my blog. Boy, do they need some advice.

Friday, the wedding was at the temple, which in our religion is extra sacred, even more so than our churches. There was a young couple with 4 small children in the waiting room. I am guessing the oldest was either 4 or 5 years old.

The parents let the children roam at will. They were eating and carrying Graham Crackers and Fruit Snacks. Both of which, fell on the floor.
The parents did not worry about their children making a mess in such a sacred place, nor did they worry or reprimand them for swinging on the door that covered the TV, running, talking loudly, playing with a truck, etc.

They let their 18 month old? 2 year old? Play with markers. That is debatable at home, but in a public place? And at a sacred place?

Unthinkable!

At one point, I took a trash can, kneeled on the floor and proceeded to pick up all the crumbs, pieces of food, and fruit snacks lying on the floor. The waiting room also serves as a break area for workers and as the people walk through there, I was afraid that they would step on the food and grind it into the carpet.

The parents did not say a single thing as I cleaned up their children’s mess.

Later, when we came back to the room after the wedding ceremony was over, the mess was even worse. The mother had gone to the ceremony leaving the father to watch the children. My husband and I had left our shoes in that room and the children had played with them and left them at random.

Parents! Your children are NOT to touch other people’s property! This is one of the first rules of civility…manners….etiquette…have you heard of those words?

When they come to my house, I do NOT want them touching my glass, the house plants, musical instruments, etc. When they come into my classroom, they are NOT to touch the chalkboard, my purse, my desk, or other things in the room.

Teach them to ASK for permission…using “May I please…” to touch something or go somewhere.

Then Saturday night at the reception…incredible what happened. It was a Mexican reception and so they had the whole family come forward as in a procession. The couple started dancing in the middle of the dance floor as the other family members formed a circle around them and started dancing around the couple. Then one by one other family members would leave the circle and go dance with either the groom or the bride.
Everyone was dressed so lovely, the music was wonderful, and the photographer was inside the circle taking great pictures.

BUT…there were several unattended small children, that were not family, that were playing inside the circle. They kept getting in the way of the couple, of the family members, and of the photographer. I was about to go grab them, when the photographer told the disc jockey to announce over the microphone for their parents to come and retrieve them.

One older sibling came and got two of the children. The others were still there. The photographer asked him again to tell the parents to come….then he asked him again. Then some parents finally came forward to get their children. One mother, when she came to get her son, knocked him on the head.

I wanted to knock her on the head. He was too little to have paid attention to what was going on and the minute the family came forward for the procession, she should have come and gotten him then.
Better yet, she should never have let him run around free in the first place.

Parents! Another rule: when you are in public, your children are NOT to run free! If you do not want to control them, do not bring them into public!

Enough of my rant…actually, I think I am going to make a page on my website that is: Tammy’s Pet Peeves…

Hummm…like when I see your underwear? Guess what folks. We do not really want to see your underwear. Boxer or briefs is NOT what we are concerned with. We do NOT want to know what color your bra is, nor do we want to know under that very tight skirt or pants that you are wearing lacy panties because we can see it, the line, the straps, and so forth.

Please do us a favor. When you try on clothes; look in a full length mirror. Use a hand mirror to see the back. Not only do I not want to see your underwear, but I do not want to see your crack, your hairy back, your underarm hair, strange bulges, your cellulite, your roll of fat hanging out the side, your sagging breasts, your nipples, and so on.

Now one final rant. To those of you who wear under clothing that is considered sacred, and in the Jewish, Muslim, and Christian faiths there are different types of sacred clothing…please wear it properly.

When you wear it improperly or show us something that we should not see, it is awkward and we actually wonder why you are doing that. Cover up what should be covered up and if you wear something religious, please do so correctly to honor your faith.

 Blah, blah, blah…I guess I am through ranting for now.

Tile and Pirates on a Sunday afternoon.

Posted on May 28, 2012 at 9:19 PM Comments comments (11)
This has been an up and down week.  We had company on Sunday and I made Pupusas. I also made two pans of blonde brownies with chocolate chips. It was a nice day and we had a really nice afternoon.
 
About 3:00 am, I woke up with severe cramping. It did not stop and I ended up in the bathroom lying on the floor and it went from bad to worse. The pain was so bad it was like being in the last stages of labor.
 
Then waves of nausea hit me. I broke out in sweat, and the pain and the nausea continued for several hours, but thankfully, I never threw up. I did have diarrhea though, and did not go to work for the next three days.
 
At first, I thought I was having a gall bladder attack as I have occasional stones that I have to pass (usually, only when I have been bad and eaten too much grease).
 
I decided in the end that it was a stomach virus as some of the children were not feeling well later in the week, although none of them had the severe pain that I did.
 
On Monday, I slept in and then watched TV all day. Talk about boring. After your third movie you feel as though your body has gained 30 years and you are stiff and awkward.
 
I was made to work. When you accomplish something in your day, you always feel so much better. So on Tuesday, with no pain, but not ready to leave the house, I started tiling some of the sections that needed to be done.
 
When we added on to the house several years ago, we put carpet in Mom’s section. However, we left the entrances plain and have never finished them. I started the task.
 
It took me four hours just to gather up everything and then I had to buy a new pump and blade for the tile (wet) saw. While at Home depot, the guy tried to convince me to buy a cheaper blade, but I had already looked on line and found what I wanted.
 
When I got home and started cutting the tile, I was so glad I had purchased the better blade. I was cutting 24” porcelain tile and it is super hard. The blade cut through it like butter (ha) but it did a nice job, while the old blade was making nicks. The new blade was well worth the $45 I paid for it. It even cut glass tile really smooth.
 
By Thursday afternoon, I had most of the tile cut and glued down. But as we were going to Manhattan, Kansas to see Benjamin for his birthday, I had to stop and get ready for the trip.
 
We had invited 3 of our nieces and nephews to go with us and so I realized that we would have 9 people in the Suburban and we no longer had our small trailer to haul the luggage.
 
I spent all day Friday, looking for a trailer on Craigslist. Then taking the trailer to make sure it was ready for trips. I had to go to several paces to get everything and to have it all ready. Then home to get everyone packed and ready to go.
 
Fito came home from work and we still weren’t ready to go. At times like that, I often think, “Why do we go on trips? It isn’t worth it!”
 
But then we go and it is always great (although, there are occasional moments…) and I am glad we went.
 
We got on the road by 6:45 and made it to Manhattan by around 11:00 pm. I thought it was going to be 5 hours, but we only took about 4 hours to get there and to come home.
 
The hotel had an indoor pool that was a good size, so that is what everyone wanted to do on Saturday and play games. We had a nice visit, saw Ben again on Sunday, then came home. Unpacked and put things away.
 
Sunday and Monday, the children and the cousins made videos outside and played games. While outside (which was absolutely perfect- weather wise), they made these pirate videos.

 You can see the video on my Facebook page at

They show our backyard, the lake, the dock, and gazebo and how much fun the children have just playing outside and being with family.
 
Children need to play outside. Adults need to play and work outside. I think a big problem with our society is simply that we are not outside enough, or when we are it is in crowded, man-made areas and we do not spend enough time outside in areas where we can ponder on the creations and the beauty of the earth that God made for us.
 
The rest of this week has been spent grouting the tile and cleaning the house as we have a family reunion at our house on Saturday.
 
I made a super large batch of beans to use for the reunion. (I will can what we don’t eat). I also made 21 loaves of apple, pineapple, and coconut bread.
 
Then on Friday, I will make enchiladas. I only cooked three times this week as I was busy tiling. (When I get busy with a major project…I let other things go).
 
I cooked a ham one night so we could have leftover ham for sandwiches if needed. I also made rice one night and chicken. The rice was from India and was extra-long. I mean it was really long rice. I think Fito bought it, but I do not know where. I would not buy it again as it took longer to cook and I had to add extra seasonings as the rice has a stronger smell to it.
 
It did come out good and everyone ate it, and the chicken was really simple. I just took two bags of frozen chicken legs and cooked them in some water and dehydrated onion until they were soft. Then I added two cans of Cream of Mushroom soup, one package of Sazon Goya (yellow), then a little garlic, salt, and pepper.
 
We ate the chicken and rice together and the soup made a gravy that we put on the rice.
 
The third meal was just cutting some of the ham up, frying it, and then making scrambled eggs. We had that with toast.
 
I also have been trying to finish weeding the gardens, doing a little in the mornings (I count that as my exercise?!?). I am almost done and then the house will be perfect for the reunion.
 
Everyone have a perfect memorial weekend and may God Bless You as you remember departed loved ones this weekend. Remember they are just on the other side of the veil and we will soon be with them and no more tears will be shed.

$2500 stolen...what a week!

Posted on March 13, 2012 at 3:13 PM Comments comments (5)
Well, a very long week has gone by. It started with the death of our friend’s child and it just kept dragging and continuing. Monday morning, after I had not slept at all on Sunday night, I went to work.
 
I had told my class I would make them Pupusas so they could see how they were done.I took everything to class and made them. I then went to my next class out at Tinker, then home. I spent the afternoon on the phone planning meals and other needed services, did Landry for the family, then went on to my evening class.
 
Tuesday was much the same, except that I made Pupusas for my evening class. I also took Rebeca with me to class, as Fito took the older children to the Temple for the evening. She sat quietly and just drew.
 
One interesting note is that while I was making the Pupusas (and the students were working on practice GED tests, a Spanish woman entered the room. She questioned me as to where another classroom was in the building.
 
I told her where to go, when one of the students asked me, “Hey, Dr. Tammy, how did she know you spoke Spanish?” I then realized, she had indeed, spoken to me in Spanish. This is the first time that has happened as people always address me in English. Was it the Pupusas?
 
Wednesday, the same: work, making phone calls, arranging things. I did make a Spanish Turkey for the family and Elizabeth made mashed potatoes.Thursday was the same, except after class I met Matthew, some of his friends, Maria and Alexander, and the four younger children at Chili’s for lunch.
 
It was Matthew’s birthday. We had such a nice afternoon being together, teasing him, and probably being too noisy for other patrons. I kept telling my children to not be too loud, but some of them simply do not listen to me.
 
I was going to clean the family’s car this afternoon, but after the lunch I ended up doing some paper work for the college that I had to turn in.This whole week I have been working in the early mornings with David on his Geometry. I finally am learning it after 30 years.
 
That is one good thing about homeschooling, especially if you love to learn. You keep learning alongside of your children.
 
In the evening, toward the end of my computer class, Fito called me. He was frantic and asking me where I had put his suits. I had taken them that afternoon to the dry cleaner as the funeral was Saturday. I did not know which suit he was going to wear, and as I had not cleaned them for a while, I just took them all.
 
He then informed me that he had hidden money in the suits. We had just sold a trailer and he had the cash. He didn’t want me to find it so he hid it in the suits. One of the suits, I actually missed taking-- so thankfully, we did not lose all the money, but we did lose $2500.
 
After class, I drove to the dry cleaners and saw a phone number for their security company. I called the company, gave them my cell phone number and he passed it on to the owner. The owner called me and then met me at his company. We looked through the suits, but did not find the money.The clothes had not been cleaned yet and were still in the sacks.
 
It had to be the owner (he arrived before I did and already knew which sacks the clothes were in, or it was the woman who received the clothes. She had looked through the pockets and found some tissues and a card, but I do not know if she felt the money and just waited for me to leave to get it, or if it was the owner that found it.
 
I do know that when I went to pick up the clothes on Friday afternoon that she had just had highlights added to her hair. She also had on all new clothes and was wearing new shoes. Coincidence? Who knows?
 
I did tell her that the money was cursed and she asked why. I said that my husband had been unemployed for almost a year and we were going to use the money to pay bills. That one of the bills was tithing and that in the Spanish culture if you steal from a church or charity it puts a curse on the money.
 
I actually feel sorry for whoever took it or anyone who does that type of thing. First of all, they cannot trust people because they think everyone is like them. Second, they have to lie and remember who they lied to, what they lied about, etc….that is too much to remember for me. Lastly, they will not be blessed and therefore, have turned down the richer blessings they could have from God for material goods which rust and corrupt.
 
The other thing is that after having seen the loss of a child, made it seem so irrelevant. Yes, we really did need it, but at the same time, it is just money and can be replaced. I learned long ago that when a window is closed...a door opens.
 
Friday, I did not have to work and met some of my students for lunch. I took Rebeca with me and we had a great time. Afterwards we did some errands and then came home to do school work. I did take a much needed nap. It had been such a long week.
 
Saturday was the funeral and it was a very nice one. They did a good job explaining that the spirit is eternal and separate from the physical body, which is mortal.We believe the spirit and body together are the soul of man and through Christ all men will one day be resurrected, which means that their spirit and body will be united forever and it will be perfect…no sickness, no sorrow, and so on.
 
We also believe that families are eternal and that once we have been married in the Temple that our children, through covenants, and through the atonement of Christ are sealed to us for all eternity.
 
In other words, the family unit is in heaven.Since their son was so young and below the age of accountability (understanding sin) he is saved through the atonement of Christ and automatically will be exalted and reunited with his family in the next life.
 
For more of an explanation of what I believe go to my academic link and read a philosophy paper I wrote for school. It is called Human Nature.
 
After the funeral, we had a family dinner for the family and friends. There were so many people that brought food, that helped set up tables, stayed and cleaned up, did things for the family, took the children out for an afternoon, bought the mother a new dress, bought their little boy a new suit to be buried in, cleaned, washed clothes, comforted, prayed, cried with, wrote poems or notes, invoked blessings…
 
I could go on and on.We even had so much food leftover from the funeral (after sending home many dishes with the family) that I called a friend of mine that is always doing service. I asked her if she knew any families that needed food. She and her husband were actually on their way to the church to pick up a check to go and buy food.
 
I gave them all the leftover food to take to 3 different families, whom they said were out of food. So much service this week. Thank you to all those individual who serve.
 
Whether it is just a smile or complementing someone, or stopping to help a stranger stranded on the highway…there are a thousand ways to serve. Thank you to each one of you for each act, each sacrifice that you make to benefit others and the world.
 
Sometimes it seems that we only hear the bad things that go on in the world, but I see the wonderful acts of love and service every day. We truly do live on a wonderful earth and there are so many good and strong and valiant people today on the earth. You are not alone. Remember you are loved. You have worth. And know that I and many others appreciate all that you do.
 
 
 
 

The death of our friend's 3 year-old son.

Posted on March 6, 2012 at 4:55 PM Comments comments (7)
How do I start to describe my week so far? On Sunday, we went to church in the morning as normal, and then had friends over after church. One family had come earlier and they were almost through eating (I had made Pupusas) when the second family called and said they had to go help someone move.
 
I told them to just come anyway and that they could eat real quick and then take our Suburban with the boys and go help the other family move.
 
Soon after they left, the phone rang and Elizabeth answered it. She didn’t speak to the person and then hung up the phone. She said it was a lady from the church who lives near us and that there was an emergency and we needed to go now.
 
Fito and the other husband left immediately, and then the other mom and I headed over in our car. When we arrived, there was already a sheriff’s car there. We ran to the backyard and there by the side of the pool was the father bending over his 3 year-old son giving him CPR.
 
Being an ex-EMT. I immediately ran to the baby and asked him if he wanted to start 2 men CPR, but he said that now they suggest only doing the chest compressions. My previous training compelled me to try to give him a few respirations to try to expel any water in the lungs and hopefully bring much needed oxygen to his bluish body.
 
He vomited and some water came out, but no breath, no response.  His pupils were dilated completely and he had no pulse, except for the compressions. His lips were blue and his body had the cast of one whose spirit has left the body.
 
My mind was racing, but I have also seen times when the impossible occurs and someone returns to their body.
 
The father continued the chest compressions, while I tilted the head back trying to keep the airway open. The EMT’s then arrived and took over and did two-man CPR with respirations.
 
Shortly, they loaded him and took him on to the hospital. His mom and dad went with him. He never recovered and they pronounced him dead a few hours later.
 
I stayed with the family all evening, cooking, cleaning, and taking moments to speak with someone, hug someone, let someone cry. I could still smell the vomit in my nose and I kept seeing his empty eyes.
 
I could not sleep that night. I would see his lifeless little body, then my strange, uneasy dreams would change, and I would see the lifeless body of my dear sweet Michael who was stillborn.
 
I had not felt such grief for years.
 
The next two days have been crazy. I still went to work, but have been helping with arranging everything, contacting people, and so forth.
We did gather up all the dirty clothes when we were there on Sunday and brought them home.
 
I have to brag on Elizabeth, my 12 year-old. She made sure all the laundry was done (the others helped…but it was mainly her) and then Maria took it back yesterday with some goodies she had bought from Sam’s.
 
I am also proud of Maria. She showed up as soon as she heard and was ready to go to work, but at that point she was asked to leave as the police were conducting an investigation.
 
Let me give some advice: do not be afraid to serve. Even if you do not know what to do…find something to do. Mop, sweep, clean a bathroom, do laundry, clean the kitchen, clean a fridge, plant a tree, write a letter, send a short note, bring a meal, bring snacks, bring cereal and milk, bring paper products, even toilet paper, take the younger children on an outing, take an older child out to eat and to visit, take mom to buy a new suit for the funeral, clean the family car, offer to pick up a relative at the airport, help get beds ready for company…
 
I could go on and on, but I do want to add, that people are individuals and each grieves in their own way. Do not assume they will act a certain way or respond a certain way. Listen- to them and to your intuition, then act accordingly—to your own talents, time and resources.
 
A news crew came later and we closed all the blinds in the home and tacked up sheets over the living room windows that did not have blinds.
 
Why the world must peer in on other people’s tragedy or privacy is beyond me. We as a society have lost all sense of civility and appropriateness.
 
Here is a family of 10 children, two whom are on missions; one serving in Guatemala, one in Argentina, whose children are smart, intelligent, vivacious, and well-behaved now being hounded by the government. Instead of being able to huddle together and to comfort one another over a misfortunate accident, they are treated as criminals and spied on in their own home.
 
We fought the American Revolution to keep British troops from being boarded in American homes, to keep unreasonable searches from occurring, and to allow a jury of peers decide one’s fate…after evidence is presented. One is innocent until proven guilty.
 
And yet our so called child-protection agency regularly assumes one is guilty (unless you are on drugs…and then they look the other way) and you have to get a lawyer and spend thousands proving you are innocent (sometimes just from an anonymous phone call that could have been made by a disgruntled client, ex-spouse, personal enemy, etc.)
 
They do not have to provide a search warrant. They do not have to have reasonable suspicion; they are outside the peer (jury) system. They are judge, jury, and executioner all in one moment.
 
The family was informed yesterday that they had to have a cover on their pool before nightfall or the children would be removed from the home.
 
There had been a cover on the pool, but in a wind storm, it had ripped and the mother was afraid that the boys would walk out on it, and then fall through the rip, and be trapped underneath the cover.
 
She therefore, took the cover off with plans to purchase another.
Anyone who has ever raised a small active boy knows how quickly they can find trouble.
 
When my boys were young, I knew that if I didn’t hear them, I had better investigate quickly.
 
Through the years, I have had children flush stuff down the toilets, unwind the toilet paper and drag it all through the house, climb bookshelves, climb kitchen cabinets….actually, climb anything they could.
 
Wall paper torn, walls drawn on, one time I came into the kitchen to find a son dropping eggs on the floor. He said it looked cool.
 
I have had children wander off, hide in closets, one hid from me at Wal-Mart, kept completely quiet…I was franticly looking and calling for him, and was about to call for an Amber alert, when he popped up from under a display, and yelled, “Peek-a-boo, Mommy!”
 
Today, parents are so afraid that they keep their children confided to indoors, watching TV and playing video games.
 
Perhaps they are safer one way…but is that safer for their mental health?
 
I truly believe that children need to be outside. That they need to run, jump, climb, use their imaginations by riding bikes, hiding in the woods, climbing trees, swimming in a lake or pond, camping, hiking, playing in the dirt or sand, playing in rain puddles, and so on.
 
I believe if we let children be children again and they played outside daily--there would be less ADD, ADHD, bi-polar, etc.
 
There will always be evil in the world. There will always be the chance that an accident can occur. However, statistics will show that children can hurt themselves even inside the home.
 
Let our children be children. Let us contain our run-a-way government and take our country back.
 
But most of all, let us have compassion again. Give mercy and forgiveness, even to yourself. Forget evil when it happens and live with charity.
 

A stomach virus, wrecked truck, re-arranged house, and a water leak week!

Posted on February 13, 2012 at 7:38 PM Comments comments (60)
It snowed last night and was icy so the college did not start classes until 10 am. My class is at 9 am. In other words, I did not have class today. Yea! I just stayed home.
 
I still woke up early and read for a while. I just finished, “Killing Lincoln” by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard and now I am reading, “To Try men’s Souls” by Newt Gingrich and William R. Forstchen.
 
Both books are hard to put down and are excellent. I am making Felipe, my 17 year-old read both.
 
I then recruited Fito and a friend who is staying with us, Jorge, to help me rearrange furniture. We switched the couches that were in the living room to the playroom and also switched two cabinets.
 
I brought the oriental cabinet and the black leather couches to the living room and the Honduras cabinet and the brown leather couch went to the playroom.
 
Then I took two headdresses that Fito had made: one of parrot feathers, and the other of Turkey feathers and put them on each side of the Honduran cabinet.
 
The Buffalo hide is now on the back of the brown leather couch. Fito and I like both changes. Now I just need to buy either an entertainment center or two tall cabinets to go on each side of the TV in the living room.
 
We had leftover mashed potatatoes, so I made Hamburger Gravy tonight to go with them before I had to go to my evening class.
 
On Sunday, I canned some Turkey broth that was leftover from a turkey we had last week when the cousins were here from Dallas. David made the Turkey. I called him from work and told him to get down the roaster pan and what to do. He did a good job…of course though; it is really easy to do a Spanish Turkey.
 
I also made 19 loaves of Poppy Seed bread. I need to take some this week to two different classes for celebrations.
 
I also cleaned my office area this weekend. We had two leaks by the water heater and had to have a plumber come out. We did not have water Sunday for half a day, but we were prepared and it wasn’t a problem.
 
My office area has not been this organized in a long time. We added another file cabinet to the area and I rearranged files, folders, books, software, cleaned drawers, put away stuff, made new files, dusted, swept, etc.
 
It is an amazing feeling to have your office organized. I also found a few items that I had been looking for and threw away three bags of trash. (I too, am guilty of hoarding things).
 
This past week, we had cousins come and stay and I did a lot of cooking. My friend, Kathy, cooked for us, too. It is always fun when family is here.
 
Friday, Fito and I awoke early and drove to Missouri to a tow yard to pick up the wrecked truck of Tony (our oldest son). He had slipped on the ice the previous weekend, fishtailed and ended up colliding with a cement barrier.
 
The trip there was 7 and ½ hours. We then drove an hour and a half to pick him up in Fort Leonard Wood. We ate at Panera bread and then headed for home with the pickup on a two-wheel dolly connected to the back of our Suburban.
 
We had to drive slower. When we stopped to get gas, one of the tire straps had come lose and we even had to recruit help to rock the truck to pull the strap from under the tire and refasten it.
 
We headed home and it took about seven hours to get to OKC. We had left a seven in the morning and got back after midnight. A very long day.
Everyone in the family had been sick with a stomach virus, starting Wednesday night. All the cousins ended up with it. Our whole family (except me) had it and even the others who had visited while the cousins were here.
 
Fito was going to Missouri alone, but I went to help drive as he had been sick. Then Saturday, he went to help Tony find a new car while I cleaned my office. I also made Pupusas on Sunday before Tony left, but did not cook on Saturday.
 
My 80 year-old mom was sick, too, and that was scary for a while as she just couldn’t keep anything down and it is so hard for her to move. She definitely cannot do anything quickly.
 
Lots of cleaning and lots of laundry. It never stops does it!
 
After writing this…now I know why I am about to drop from exhaustion…whew! What a week!
 
I do have to admit, though. Whenever there is sickness like that it makes me very aware of just what a blessing it is to be healthy. And I do enjoy good health. I have been so blessed to have such good health.
 
It also makes me aware what a great blessing it is to have running water, a washing machine, and a dryer inside my home. We are truly blessed!
 
 
 

New Year's- Staying Clean and Organized

Posted on January 4, 2012 at 9:53 AM Comments comments (206)
I had to write about our New Year's experience. We went to Houston and had such a strange and wonderful time.
 
We stayed with Douglas and Ary, and guess what...their water heater broke the day before we got there. They took cold showers, but not me.
 
I said, if I had to, well okay, but I have too many friends in Houston to be taking a cold shower. We ended up going to Ary's parents and as always they were so gracious and hospitable.
 
Fito and I then went to visit some friends that we hadn't seen for some time. They are going through some really rough times and we spent the afternoon talking to them.
 
We then went to Ary's parents for their New Year's party. It was heaven walking into their clean cheerful home compared to the dreariness and emptiness we had just experienced.
 
I guess that's the way life really is: an up and down roller coaster ride, full of highs and lows, beauty and dreariness, happiness and pain, sweetness and bitterness...
 
I just wanted to hug Mirna (Ary's mom) and thank her for her hospitality, for providing a clean bright beautiful home. One of the greatest blessings a woman can give her family.
 
When a home is taken care of, the family demonstrates stewardship. They are also demonstrating to God their gratitude for what they have been given.
 
Think of the child who is given a toy and then proceeds to destroy it and not care about it. The message to the Giver is that of indifference and ingratitude.
 
My mother-in-law, whose husband was shot in El Salvador while she was pregnant with her sixth child had to go to work to provide for her family.
 
She hand washed her children's clothes and pressed them every day as they were the only clothes they had for school. They were taught to be very careful and take care of everything they had...for it was all they had.
 
She taught me, there are three main rules to keeping your house clean (I came from a so so cleanliness background).
 
First, no shoes in the house. The Asians are correct. The home is a temple and shoes should not be worn inside.
 
Second, No food or drink are to be consumed anywhere in the house, except at the table. This is a really hard rule to follow, but when it is followed...the house is 10 times easier to keep clean (especially with little children).
 
Third, no pets in the house unless they are trained and kept clean. We bought a parakeet a while back for my Mom, but the dander and fluff was horrible. I finally took a thick plastic and duct taped it to the bottom half of the cage. That has prevented all the mess from falling everywhere.
 
I also bought a plastic floor mat (the kind that goes under office chairs) and put it under the cage.
 
If I had not found a solution, though, the bird would have found a new home. We had a dog that we gave away because when we put the carpet in my Mom's section that dog decided it like to pee on the carpet.
 
It didn't seem to matter what we did, that dog peed only inside and only on the carpet.
 
We found a family that had wooden floor. They adopted our friendly little dog and both have been happy.
 
But do NOT allow your home-- your heaven-- your temple-- to be destroyed by either an animal or a human.
 
When I was getting something out of my bag, Celeste (two-years-old) saw a dry erase marker in the bag. She pulled it out and said, "No color on walls." Now how did a two-year-old know that?
 
I didn't ask her parents, but I am sure she did color on the wall and then Mommy's and Daddy's reaction was so extreme that it was imprinted in her mind to never do so again.
 
I want to add one more rule on keeping any area clean and organized:
 
Have a place for everything--and keep everything in it's place.
 
Do you have a place for your keys? Most people do not. Most people lay them down, lose them, and then are looking for them when it is time to go.
 
At our house there is a hook right inside the hall closet. All keys hang there. I noticed in Ary's and Douglas's home, a key holder hanging in their entry way. All their keys were hung on it.
 
This rule saves you hours of frustration and worry. You do longer will have to look for nail clippers, or scissors, or that paper...because it will be where it belongs...in the place you assigned it. Use labels if you need to to get started.
 
On a bookshelf or in a closet or in drawers...put labels telling what goes where...many schools and offices do this to help everyone know where things go.
 
When I had some people living with us awhile back, the microwave was always dirty. They would not use the dish cover. I finally took a 3 x 5 card and wrote in Spanish and English: PLEASE, COVER FOOD and taped it to the front of the microwave.
 
Guess what...they did. My microwave stayed 3 times as clean.
 
It all boils down to desire...then habit. If you have the habit to leave your keys everywhere. Why not simply change it into a habit to always hang them on a hook.
 
Through the years, my husband has taught me a thousand such small, seemingly insignificant habits. But when you put them all together, they add up into hours of time saved and less work.
 
Hang up your clothes when you remove them....this was a bad habit that I did not change for years. I was in the habit of laying them on a chair and hanging them up later. About 4 years ago, I made the concerted effort to change this one habit and now it drives me crazy if I do not hang them up immediately when I take them off.
 
Our habits RULE us, why not let them be good ones.
 
Enough of this. We left Ary's family and went to a cousin's home (of Fito's) that was having a party. We stayed there until 4 am and had so much fun we did not want to go.
 
Good food, great conversation, incredible music (cumbias from El Salvador) family, friends, warmth, friendship, a beautiful clean vibrant home, and a friendly hostess (like Ary's mom).
 
It was such a wonderful night. No one ruined it by getting too drunk, by having a fight, gossiping, etc. We had so much fun and everyone was great.
 
Sunday morning, I took Celeste for a walk in her stroller. I took their dog too. He got away from me and finally I caught him...what an adventure. The neighbor's dog got away from them and I helped them catch their dog. New Year's Freedom dog syndrom?
 
Also, I need to mention, that we went to visit my nieces and nephews later and as we were leaving their home, one of their neighbors was a approaching with his teenage son. He had backed out and hit Douglas's car (which we had borrowed).
 
What honesty! We started talking and it happened that he knew my father. We told him that we would not say anything to the insurance ( I have six sons) I know what one small accident can do to your premiums. He guaranteed he would get the car fixed and we believe him...he told us the truth in the first place. That says a lot about his character.
 
We also ate at an El Salvadoranian restaurant on Friday night when we arrived in Houston. WOW! Their Pupusas were better than mine. And their tamales were incredible. I ate red little refried beans with eggs and fried platanos and cream...oh my...what incredible food. We took home food...we ate so good the whole weekend.
 
 

Christmas and cleaning

Posted on December 31, 2011 at 1:21 PM Comments comments (72)
 
We are in Houston right now visiting with family and friends. We came down yesterday. We only have Tony (he came from Fort Leonard Wood late Thursday night), Felipe, David, and Elizabeth. Matthew, Benjamin, and Maria all stayed in OKC as they all had work.
 
Fito and I stayed with Douglas and Ary. Celeste (2 years old) and I have been watching Wee Sing videos today (a gift from us) and dancing. She wants me to hold her to dance.  We opened presents with them last night and she is at that perfect age for Christmas.
 
Tony and the younger four stayed at their Aunt Tami’s with their cousins. They haven’t been together since we lived in Houston…almost five years so it should be a good visit.
 
Other cousins have been calling us as tonight is New Year’s Eve. It looks as though there are two main places we need to go to- from different sides of the family. We will go to one first, and then go to the other family’s party.
 
We haven’t come to Houston for New Year’s for several years-- it will be fun to see everyone.
 
Last Monday, I didn’t have to work so I started to put away the Christmas tree, but then Fito wanted to burn therefore, we all went out to burn. Matthew and Gabe came to help, too.
 
We have about 5 acres of land and 2 and ½ of them are wooded. Also, the lake is really low from the drought and that gives us the opportunity to clean out areas that are usually under water. We also have a new neighbor whose land aligns with ours and our woods are preventing them from having a view of the lake.
 
They have been helping us clear that back area so they can see the lake from their porch. Monday, they and we all worked clearing brush and burning piles. The piles did not want to catch on fire. The ground is soggy from the lake and the brush was soggy as well.
 
I worked all day and when I came in, the boys were moving sacks of feed from one shed to another. (Fito and Jorge (a friend) rebuilt the shed that had been destroyed from the tornado.
 
They were laughing at me because I looked like a chimney sweep. I had soot all over me and my face was super dirty. The next couple of days I was sooo sore, but thank goodness my sciatic nerve did not begin to hurt.
 
After two days, I stopped hurting…yea…really for 52 years old. I still do well. And I always forget how good it feels to just go out and work all day doing physical work. There is something completely refreshing, soothing to work outside beautifying the earth…whether it is gardening, landscaping, clearing the land…
 
When I was little, I always had the desire to go to Alaska and tame the wilderness. Now older and wiser? I know I do not like the cold, but I do like working in the earth.
 
The tornado, too, messed up our woods. At one point, we almost had the woods cleaned out. We had worked for over six months cleaning and then the tornado came and now there is debris, downed trees, broken branches…little by little…we are getting it clean again, and we are getting lots of firewood for the future.
 
I have canned turkey and broth from leftovers and I have started writing a book on Critical Thinking. After my home page and my blog, Critical Thinking is the most viewed page on my website.
 
The other day, I was doing a training and it came to me that almost every other skill depends upon our ability to think critically….decision making, problem solving, goal setting, setting priorities. If your thinking is distorted or incorrect, or you are blind to reasoning or creativity you will not prosper as much as you could if you were thinking better.
 
I know for me, that when I do something dumb, it is because I did something without really thinking it through.
 
For Christmas, for Douglas, I made a quadruple batch of Snicker Doodles and took them to Houston for him.
 
Our Christmas was nice and I think everyone was pleased. The night before Christmas, Felipe was commenting that he only had one present (a large, very light one) and he asked what was in it. I said it was a Teddy Bear.
 
He said that if it were a teddy bear that he was going to run away. The thing is…there was a teddy bear in the box…as well as an envelope with money.
 
We made him open his present last. When he saw the teddy bear plus other stuffed animals- everyone started laughing and they all told him he had to run away. He was very happy with the money.
 

Pictures of (almost) finished house...after tornado.

Posted on December 15, 2011 at 12:47 PM Comments comments (91)

Christmas decorations and more canning done

Posted on December 7, 2011 at 1:07 PM Comments comments (79)
Another week and come and gone…and what a week! I worked on a big training that I actually did today, and it went really well, except that I probably over prepared. I had too much content.
 
Next time, I will do less content/theory and will have more activities to make the content more practical to them.
 
It went really well (at least it seemed that was) we will see what the evaluations say…
 
We also put up Christmas decorations on Saturday. Elizabeth and Rebeca helped me and they are amazing helpers so it went up quicker than in years pass. I still haven’t found the top to the tree. (It has been missing since we moved). Last year, I took off one of the lower branches and fashion a top of sorts. Well, this year, I took off another lower branch, then I had Fito wire the two branches together so it was even thicker than before.
 
It actually looks okay. The two branches aren’t enough of a triangular shape sothe top comes down and then the tree spreads out. I tried to mold the upper most branches and hang the ornaments in such a way to minimize the difference.
 
Like I said…it’s okay…but the real top was much better. I guess I am going to buy another tree, but I will wait until after Christmas when they go on sale.
I canned 13 quarts of Turkey and 3 quarts of broth last Friday. I had class in the afternoon, then sang in the Christmas Concert in the evening…so I did not have a chance to clean up my mess until Saturday. One of the jars did not seal so I need to make something with chicken soon. Hum? Enchiladas? Tamales?
 
Saturday night, Fito and I are having our annual Christmas party with adults. We eat, then have a White Elephant gift exchange. I do not know if I am going to make Pupusas or tamales…decisions…decisions…maybe both?
 
 
It rained really hard this past week which is great as we are still about 10 inches behind where we usually are and all the ponds and lakes are really low or even empty.
 
It has gotten colder and we have had fires going…nothing quite like sitting in front of a fire, the Christmas lights twinkling and sipping on some hot chocolate.
 
I do like the idea of living by the beach, but I would miss the four seasons. It is supposed to snow tonight—our first snow of the season. The only problem in Oklahoma is we never know what kind of snow we will get. Rain first, that freezes under the snow, making it impossible to drive on?
 
Wet mushy snow? Dry, pointy, hard, icy snow that pricks your skin in the ever blowing, nasty, cold north wind? Or actually, a pleasant soft, slightly sticky snow that makes great snowball and forts and snowmen. We vote for the latter, but we will see.
 
May you have the snow of your dreams…or the sunshine of your wishes, and may you be blessed until we meet again.