Oh, how I love our Tivo!

March 29th, 2007

TivoYou know, many homeschoolers (especially fellow christians) feel that television is bad. I highly disagree. I think that the homeschooling family that denies their children to watch educational television is depriving the next generation from a wonderful learning tool. Take in point, our beloved Tivo. Do you realize how many WONDERFUL shows there are on at 2 a.m.? Of course not! How many parents with children waking up at 6 a.m. with growling tummies would be watching television at 2 a.m.? Surely, not me!

When my husband talked me into a Tivo, I thought: “Oh boy. Another expensive toy for the house.” Little did I know that our homeschool would depend on this little box to further our education. For two visual learners, it was the PERFECT educational tool. Slowly, my husband introduced me to this fountain of education. Need to learn more about the Assyrians? Tivo can find shows on that! Need to learn more about the people of Mexico? Tivo can find shows on that! Want only educational (and parent approved) shows for your children? Tivo has a “Kid’s Zone” that only lets them watch shows that YOU have put into the system for them to watch. How cool is THAT?!!

Honestly, our family would have never learned about some of the fantastic programs on television without our beloved Tivo. Wonderful shows such as: Planet Earth, Dragonfly T.V., Popular Mechanics for Kids, Biography for Kids, Kids Ultimate Guide to Amazing Animals, and Wishbone. As our dear child also likes cartoons, we have also added: Time Warp Trio and Grossology (history and science).

I love the fact that homeschoolers (and public school) parents have this amazing option to help enhance our childrens’ education. Little Tivo, I thank you for helping me teach with more than a book. Our entire family LOVES you.

Capitol 10K, Mimosas, and Our Obnoxious System

March 27th, 2007

I ran the Austin Capitol 10K on Saturday. It was hill, hill, hill, hill, straight, hill, hill….(you get the point). I really wanted to run the 6+ miles in under an hour. It was REALLY sticky that morning (90% humidity). I was doing great with pace until I heard the word “Mimosa”. I saw up ahead that a couple was serving tiny little cups (like your dentist uses for mouth wash) for Mimosa cups. I thought: “Why not?!”, so I ran over. There were no cups poured so I waited a second, chugged it down, said thanks and kept running. I finished my run in 1:00:30. Yup, 30 seconds over. Would I drink that Mimosa again? YOU BET!

I am really angry today. My husband filed with his contract firm in October 2006 for carpal tunnel in his left wrist. His company, Big Blue, had laid off many people in his department. Although there were less people, the workload was the same. My husband had to step up his workload, but was told that he could not put in overtime. Needless to say, he started eating lunch at his desk.

Anyway, after seeing 3 doctors (our family doctor and 2 specialists), having a painful nerve conduction test, and being told that he has severe carpal tunnel in both wrists and one elbow, he was told that he is “faking it” by the Workman’s Comp. company. He called his contract firm 3 months ago saying that he would have to go to a lawyer. They never called him, sent him an e-mail, or visited after that. It has been SIX MONTHS and my husband has had NO pain meds. None. We were told by our personal insurance company that they won’t touch the case until after the state board has reviewed it. He has an appointment with the state next month! They have been sitting on the paperwork for over a month now. Ahhh!!!

As my husband is only getting between 3-4 hours of sleep a night (and can’t play Lego with our son, drive long distances, work any length of time on his car, fix things around the house, type for long periods of time, etc.), he decided he had had enough. He scheduled a meeting with his supervisor at Big Blue for this morning. His super sent him an e-mail saying that they are “hands off” and that his contract firm would see him for the meeting. FINALLY! He would get to talk to someone at his firm.

He went there this morning. The meeting lasted maybe 8 minutes. He took a huge folder in with him with all the correspondence, doctor records, etc. They told him that they couldn’t help him at all. They told him that if he were “really in pain” that he should pay for the surgery out of pocket on his own. SAY WHAT???!!!! We are a one income family taking care of a disabled father-in-law. Why should he pay for an injury that happened WHILE ON THE JOB out of our pockets? The pain in his wrists started after all the employees were laid off. This is WORK RELATED! We aren’t looking for a dime in this whole thing. My husband just wants relief/surgery and get back to the job he enjoys doing. That’s it.

I can’t begin to tell you how depressed I am for my husband. He is such an honest, good man. It kills me to see him in so much pain. He has always been such a “happy-go-lucky” kind of guy. Lately, he has been depressed and snaps at our family over the littlest things. I know it is because he is in pain. I feel so helpless. It is so incredibly difficult to see those you love in pain and be unable to take any of it away.

I am SO ANGRY at “the system” right now. The contract firm is spineless, the Workman’s Comp is worthless, and the State sees us just as a number in the system. Aahhh!!! Honest people just don’t win any longer.

Pre-Teen and knowing everything

March 21st, 2007

For those that have “pre-teens” in their home, they will understand this comment. I wantTeenager to turn mine in and get a new model. I want to upgrade to the model that listens, doesn’t question EVERYTHING, does school in a timely manner, and appreciates my husband and I. Our current model must be defective. It used to have the above characteristics. Maybe the warranty ran out? Maybe it needs an oil change or a 100,000 mile servicing?

Whatever the reason for the current flawed model, I want it fixed. Now! My model went from being kind, loving, and hardworking to uncooperative, negative, and self-centered. I don’t believe that was in the owner’s manual. Come to think of it, our model didn’t come with an owner’s manual. Sure wish it had. Maybe I have done something wrong? I have tried to put the model first. We clothe it, feed it, make sacrifices so it is personally educated by us and trained professionals, provide it with stimulating media and entertainment, etc. Maybe I am a bad owner? Maybe “I” am the one that is flawed?

I will continue to work with the current model. Maybe this is just a system error and it will reboot itself. I sure hope so. I miss the old model so much.

Virtual Me

March 16th, 2007

Virtual ShanSo…I am trying to lose weight. I am actually wanting to lost 30lbs. Sounds like a lot. I don’t want to think about that right now. I measured myself yesterday and had lost 4.75″ around me in 2 months. Something to be proud of. I also had lost 2lbs. the previous Friday. Things were looking great.

This last week I averaged 1645 calories a day, burned almost 3000 calories through running and speed walking, started doing strength training, had 9-14 glasses of water a day, took my multi-vitamin almost every day, and was getting 8-9 hours of sleep. Things couldn’t have been better. UNTIL I stepped on the STUPID scale this morning and it said I had GAINED 4lbs!!!! What the??!!!! Could be muscle. Could be water weight. Could be my scale hates me and is trying to make my life miserable. YOU WILL NOT WIN, evil scale!!!

I found a site that does a “virtual you”. Here is what it thinks I look like. Gotta work on those hips. I WILL lose these pounds. Oh yes, I will.

Viva Mexico and Emergency Room for Dad

March 12th, 2007

Shan in MexicoMy hubby and I went to Mexico on Saturday. We decided to make a day out of it and took our monster to my in-laws’ house for the day. I have been to Mexico about 4 times before today (Tijuana, Ensenada, Playa de Carmen, Chichen Itza). Today we drove to Nuevo Laredo. We felt like doing something different for the weekend and go shopping.

I was a bit apprehensive about going to Mexico and especially Nuevo Laredo. You hear about tourists being robbed (or worse) or getting in the crossfire of local gangs, drug deals gone bad, etc. I was apprehensive. The trip really wasn’t that bad.

The good stuff:

1) You can still haggle over goods. We bought 3 beautifully embroidered peasant blouses, a blanket, some Kalhua, and pure vanilla extract. The next time we go back, I think I will look for a new cell phone and shoes. I saw some great deals on shoes.

2) There are some really beautiful people down there. The women under the age of 20 are so lovely and extremely FIT. It seems everywhere I looked, I would see gorgeous late teen – early 20 yr. old women in skin tight jeans and cute little tops. Is it in the water or something?Sweetness in Mexico

The not-so-good stuff:

1) My husband is about 99.9% sure that a pick-pocket was scoping him out. As my husband has taught me, BE AWARE OF YOUR SURROUNDINGS. My husband is constantly looking around when we are in a city. He makes eye-contact and lets people know that he is aware of them and doesn’t look at the ground or get distracted. That can get you robbed. He avoided being the victim of the pick-pocket by doing a “quick foot shuffle” and stepping to the side. He also made sure to keep his wallet in the front pocket of his jeans.

The only time I really felt “this is not a good thing” is when we were in a U-shaped store and 2 guys followed us around. I was in front of my husband single file and saw the men behind my husband. When I heard my husband say “Keep Moving” in a weird tone of voice, I knew he meant “We need to get out of here – NOW!” Thankfully, the men did not follow us.

2) Everywhere you go, folks are asking you for money. Let me just pause here and say something. I realize that there is poverty and that helping those that sincerely need it is right. I also know (by a dear friend that came from Mexico) that many families in Mexico send out their children to beg for money so the parents can live a life of luxury. THAT is why seeing the kids beg for money REALLY makes me mad. Mom and Dad, GET A JOB and send these poor kids to school!

3) Just a weird one. I had a guy TWICE try to sell me diet pills. Granted, I am 25lbs. overweight (by the way, I lost 2lbs. this week and am really working on losing the 25). Should I be insulted that someone was trying to push diet pills on me? Hmm…no more Hershey syrup in my coffee, I guess.

Just plain strange:

1)One of the stores that we were in had on the television. I am not kidding about this one. They had on a game show where two very attractive women were playing Jenga. You know. The block game where you take a piece from the bottom and put it on the top without making the whole tower fall down. The show even had suspenceful music. How crazy is that? A television show featuring a board game! LOL

2) I really think that most folks in Mexico are deaf. If they aren’t, they will be soon. Pretty much every other shop we passed by had HUGE speakers just at their entrance blaring Tejano music about 1,000,000 decibels. I swear that folks in Canada could here it! My ears still hurt!

On our way back home, we called my in-laws. They were watching our monster for the day. My in-laws were in the Emergency Room. Dad had had a very bad seizure (he has epilepsy) and it wasn’t his “normal type”. His seizures usually run 3-5 min. long and he stares into space. This one lasted over 30 min. and he was twitching. Our entire family is scared. We want Dad to get better very soon. Thankfully, he is doing better today and will be calling his doctor to get an appt. regarding his unusual seizure. I sure hope they figure out what is going on and fix Dad. We want him around for many more years.

Something so small can mean so much

March 7th, 2007

Our ringsSeveral days ago, my husband of almost 17 yrs. lost his wedding ring. I realize that many men don’t like their wedding ring and never wear it. Mine does. Our matching rings were made by a friend. He carved them out of titanium for us. (If you have ever seen the movie Abyss and watch the scene where Ed Harris stops the submarine door from closing with his ring…you will see our rings.) The picture to the left is our ring. Anyway, they are special to us. Really not worth much monetarily, but priceless to us.

As I was saying (I tend to ramble), my husband lost his ring several days ago. As he is experiencing painful carpal tunnel in both hands, he can’t feel his fingers 95% of the time. He thought that maybe it had fallen off of his finger when he was driving home (ever notice that men tend to lean one arm out the window while driving?). We have both looked high and low for this ring. We’ve pretty much torn the place apart and found nothing.

This morning, I was making our bed and what did I find? THE RING! Woohoo! Man, were we both thrilled to have found it. What is it about a piece of metal that could mean so much? We both wear our rings with pride. We are so fortunate to be married for so long…and happily (I might add). All I can say is that I am happy it is back on my husband’s hand. These rings are part of us both. Glad to have you back home.

Ups & Downs of Homeschooling Part 2

March 7th, 2007

My husband recently mentioned on a chat board that we homeschool our child. As we always hear: “Aren’t you concerned about the lack of socialization?” Do people really think that sitting in a classroom full of children the exact same age and not being allowed to interact/talk about anything until recess is SOCIALIZATION? For us, it is far from it.

Socialization to us is being allowed to interact with all ages, occupations, nationalities, etc. Our homeschool life allows us this freedom daily. Our ds doesn’t need to raise his hand to go to the bathroom or wait his turn to ask for help with a math problem. The fact that the general population doesn’t realize what wonderful freedom homeschooling allows makes me sad at times. Let me give you a for instance…

I am not a math genius. Far from it, really. My brother was a whiz in math and so was my Mom. My Dad and I were/are artists. My favorite subjects were art, poetry, history (but only the parts were I learned about the people – I couldn’t have cared less about the battles or dates), P.E., botany, and print shop. All other subjects were boring to me. I think that God really has a wonderful sense of humor because he gave me a child that really doens’t like art or the subjects that I find interesting. He likes math, science, and “building stuff”.

Here is where the beauty of homeschooling comes in. I have a father-in-law that is a math whiz. He is also unable to work due to epilepsy. Recently, he has started to work on advanced math with my ds. What a joy to be able to pass the baton to someone that is gifted in an area I am not!

I don’t think most folks realize how many wonderful opportunities homeschoolers have. Besides the freedom to practice their own religion (or not), travel anywhere and take a field trip at the drop of a hat, we can do: Sports, foreign languages, debate, sciene & math team, PSIA, scouts, musical instrument classes, martial arts, and even college classes. When a homeschooling family needs someone that is trained in a certain area, we can join a cooperative or take special classes in that subject. We will be taking special courses this next semester from retired professors in Spanish and Science Lab. Smaller classes allow the students more “hands on” work then traditional schools would.

The misconception is that homeschoolers fill their days by only staying within the walls of their homes reading books. This is SO FAR from the truth! We have the freedom to experience life and meet new people each and every day. I am SO THANKFUL that we have this freedom in our country.

Have Carpal Tunnel? Keep suffering!

March 2nd, 2007

Man fall I am at a point in my life where things really peeve me. When something bothers me, I am becoming more inclined to voice (whether verbally or in this journal) my displeasure. Our family is dealing with an issue that although I don’t have any control over, I could just scream about.

My husband of 17 yrs. has been working for Big Blue for 7 years on and off. I say “on and off” because he has been laid off from them about what? 4 times now? Not due to bad performance. It is all “making the numbers look good at the end of the quarter” thing. He works hard and enjoys his job, for the most part. He has put in countless overtime hours and weekends to get projects done. Has it made a difference? No. Why? He is a contractor. Many Big Blue “official” employees think that contractors are paid more and treated better. Oh, how wrong they are.

On to why I am angry. Let me just say, we are honest people. Stupidly honest. My husband is the guy that found over $1K in a wallent once in the Price Club parking lot. There was no I.D. inside. He could have taken the cash (at the time we were newly married and could have REALLY used the money), but instead took the wallet into Price Club and turned it in. We found out later that the money belonged to a retired couple and that was their monthly living money. My husband is REALLY honest. I have never known him to lie or hurt others. He is always there when someone needs a person they can depend on. So….

On October 1, 2006 my husband started experiencing pain in his left hand/wrist. He is right-handed by the way. As he works for Big Blue and sits at a high table (not a desk) in a crappy chair (contractors get the crappy chairs), he thought it might be his work environment. He went to our family doctor and the doctor said he had a textbook case of Carpal Tunnel.

Here is where it gets fun. He contacted his contract firm and filed a Workman’s Comp. case. From then on, he was treated like a criminal. The W.C. adjuster made him sound like he was “making it up”. His contract firm wouldn’t return phone calls. You get the idea. My husband met with THREE doctors and had a nerve conduction study done (which I am told by many is painful). The verdict? Severe carpal tunnel in his hand and elbow.

Where are we now? Oh yeah! It has been FIVE MONTHS and my husband still hasn’t had any medication for his pain. We have gotten a letter from the W.C. saying “You might be in pain, but we don’t think it is from typing on the computer for 8+ hours a day at a table in a crappy chair. Suffer because we aren’t helping you.” We also got a letter from a third party saying that my husband definitely needs surgery but that W.C. won’t help us.

GREAT! Now what? On top of being honest, my husband is a really great dad and friend. He plays Lego with our son, he works on cars with his friends, he helps my in-laws with odd jobs around their house, etc. He can’t do ANY of those things now. About two months ago, his other hand started to hurt, badly. He wears wrist braces on both hands and takes the maximum amount of Ibuprofen each day. There is no relief. After only sleeping 3 hours this last Sunday, we had had enough. We contacted a lawyer and the Texas Board for protection of workers.

We came to the decision that my husband was in so much pain, we would just pay out-of-pocket for some sort of relief. Whether it be a shot in the wrist, etc. He can’t take the pain. My husband made an appt. to see the doctor and was promptly called back with a cancellation. Why? NO doctor can see or treat him until the agencies decide what to do. Can you believe that? We are looking at least 30-60 days out before he can get relief.

So, I want to warn all of the hard-working, honest people out there that do their jobs and are always there for others. It doesn’t matter. The system doesn’t care whether you are honest or a deadbeat. You WILL be treated like a criminal and denied relief. Makes you kind of wonder what would happen if you are burned or get a broken limb on the job, doens’t it?

We aren’t looking for money or fame. My husband needs relief from his pain so he can go on being a good employee, Dad, husband, and friend. Five months since reporting the pain and NO RELIEF. What a wonderful system we live in.