18 years of wedded bliss

March 17th, 2008

Today, St. Patrick’s Day, is our 18th wedding anniversary. I can’t believe that we are closing in on 20 yrs. Wow! Where does the time go? I have to just say to all those people that made comments like: “They are so young. Their marriage won’t last 6 B&W couplemonths”….you were a bit wrong.

My dh and I have definitely had our ups and downs in the last 18 yrs. With something like 6 lay-offs, a son, a move, 3 career changes (2 for him and 1 for me)….it has been an interesting journey.

I can look back on the last 18 yrs. and smile. It has been a great journey. I believe that each of us are married to our best friend. We talk, we laugh, we cry, we share. We both know that the other will be next to them “no matter what”. We put the needs of the other above our own. We enjoy being together. We both have our hobbies & interests. We don’t have to share them to be happy. We can respect each other’s space and need to “do their own thing” at times. That is what makes a marriage a success. Honoring one another as an individual – realizing that you can’t change them to custom fit. We married each other loving who they were – it would be a shame to change them.

Us in 50 years To my dh, Happy Anniversary babe. 18 yrs. went by pretty fast. Wanna stick around for another 60 or so? I love you, handsome.

Funny how people deal with grief

March 16th, 2008

You know, it is interesting to see how people deal with grief. For me, I NEED to stay busy. Cleaning for Nana and helping her deal with her grief, helps me. I got comfort in cleaning the oven and counters at Nana’s house. I know it drove her crazy to see me clean, but I felt like I was helping her. Cleaning is something she doesn’t have to worry about right now.Crying Child

For others, they cry. I have seen our aunt cry, a lot. For some, they get mad. That would be my son. Death can make some angry and confused. For a small group, just ignoring the situation helps. If they aren’t around the grief, they won’t feel it. Each type of individual can be emotionally draining. Knowing what to do for those that are drowning in grief is impossible. Comforting those that are angry with God or the deceased is pointless. Asking for help from those that are ignoring the situation can be fruitless.

Grief is a strange thing. Death makes us all question our own mortality. We wonder how long we will live. We wonder if we did what was right, or said everything that we could to the person that died. Could we have done more? Should we have spent more time with them? Were they proud of us?

As I have seen 5 family members die in 7 years, I have learned some very important lessons that I would like to pass on:

  • Take care of your body and mind. Abusing them now will hurt you later.
  • Don’t care what your neighbor thinks about you. Life is too short to keep up with the Jones’.
  • Family and faith matter most. Although you may have friends, many won’t be with you when you need them most.
  • Laugh at yourself. Be silly. Like who you are.
  • Don’t tell yourself :”When I have enough: money, time, etc.” I will do…(DO IT, NOW!)
  • Make time for those you love and tell them you love them OFTEN.
  • If you want to dye your hair purple, wear bowling shirts, and drive a Segway..go for it! Conforming to what the world thinks is acceptable will leave an empty hole in who you really are.
  • Be proud of your faith, country, and heritage. Pass on your history to the next generation.
  • Never stop learning. Read books, listen to good music, appreciate art. There is so much to learn. Just because you stopped going to school long ago, it doesn’t mean you stopped being a “student” of the world.

Which ever way you display grief, know that others feel it differently. Letting them know that you love them and are grieving too, helps lessen the pain.

Helping Nana cope w/losing Grandpa

March 15th, 2008

I stayed the night with Nana last night. I didn’t want her to be alone so I packed up an overnight bag and threw it into the car. Although Nana isn’t my natural Grandma, she has always been very special to me. My husband appreciated me offering to take care of his Grandma. My husband and son stayed over at my in-laws house while my in-laws & I went over to the funeral home to meet Nana & relatives. When I walked in, Nana opened up her arms and I gave her a HUGE hug. I told her that I would stay at her house so she wouldn’t be alone. I think she was happy to hear it.

As Grandpa had been in the Marines for 27 yrs., there will be a 21-gun salute at the funeral. He would’ve liked that. Once a Marine, always a Marine. For the funeral, cremation, salute, etc., the funeral came to $5200. Nana doesn’t have that money so my in-laws offered to pay for the funeral until life insurance came through.

Through all of that, Nana was a real trooper. She and Grandpa had been married 45 yrs. I can’t imagine what she is going through. We went to dinner after the arrangements and then I took Nana home.

Nana has never been a big housekeeper. She has said many times: “If people come over to see my house instead of me, they don’t need to bother coming over!” My personality is such that if I care for someone, I do things for them (i.e. cook, make a card, run errands, clean their house, etc.) All night, the phone kept ringing with friends/family giving their condolences. While Nana talked on the phone, I started to clean her kitchen. Older people just don’t seem to notice the grease splatters on the fridge or they crumbs in the corners of the kitchen floor.

Nana wasn’t happy with me for cleaning a bit of the kitchen. She wanted to talk. So, we got into our jammies and talked and talked. We talked until almost 1am. I think she needed to just gab and not be lonely. Grandpa wasn’t the type of guy that really “listened” to his wife.

We realized this morning that quite a few people were coming to the funeral from out of state. They all would be staying in hotels, but they wanted to come and visit with her before/after the funeral. I know she didn’t have the energy (physically or emotionally) to clean. So, I told her to relax and went to work for 4 hours of MAJOR cleaning.

Although she was peeved that I cleaned, I know she appreciates it. My husband, son, and I plan on going over to Nana’s in the morning. I want to get in 2 hours of heavy cleaning. My hubby wants to help Nana go through some paperwork. Grandpa was an INSANE pack-rat. He has drawers of paperwork dating back to the 1970s! Thankfully, they did have 2 life insurance policies. Nana refuses to move in with my in-laws or our other aunt/uncle in the area. She is a “tough, old bird” and wants to live on her own. At 84, I do worry about her. Thankfully, we live 20 min. away and our homeschooling schedule lets us bring our school books over. I plan on doing that quite a bit in the future.

I am constantly reminded that God allowed us to homeschool for a reason. Our flexible schedule (and being able to pack our books with us) have given us the chance to help family when others couldn’t. We are blessed indeed.

This will be an insane week for my husband, son, and I. Between Grandpa’s funeral and getting ready to leave on a week & half vacation to the Grand Canyon on Thursday, my head is spinning. So much to do, and not enough hours to do it in. Relax Shan. It will get done. I know that Grandpa would appreciate everything that the family is doing. I so wish that he were here. Big, stubborn, lovable guy. *sigh*

So Tired of Death

March 14th, 2008

We are given these amazing bodies and expected to care for them. Some of us choose to abuse our bodies with drugs, alcohol, smoking, stress, or by excessive binging. The thing we don’t realize when we are destroying our bodies, is the effect it will have on those that love us. We are so intent on our own destruction, that we fail to see what it is doing to those around us.

Five years ago, a special uncle died suddenly in our family. He was in his early 40’s. He had had a heart condition and kept it from the family. He refused to follow doctor orders and didn’t take the medication that was prescribed. He had a heart attack right in front of his wife and died.

After that, our Grandpa sort of “gave up” on life. His son was his pride and joy. Grandpa stopped talking to people. He stopped “living”. He smoked and drank although he was on a pace maker and the doctors told him to stop. He started to lose weight and went from 170lbs. to 136. His family watched him slowly kill himself. No matter how much they told him that he was loved, he continued to self-destruct.

At 7am this morning, we were called and told that he was in the hospital. My husband, not wanting to take our son to the hospital, asked if I would stay home. He rushed over to the next city hospital to find out that Grandpa had passed away. He was 75.

If anyone is reading this, please know that YOU ARE SPECIAL. That there are many lives that you have touched and that people love you. By caring for yourself, you are caring for others around you.

I have lost 5 relatives in 7 yrs. (My mom, 1 Grandmother, 2 Grandfathers, and 1 Uncle). I have come to dread hospitals. My heart has hurt so much over the last 7 yrs., I can’t begin to tell you.  4 of these 5 people had one thing in common: STUBBORNNESS
4 of these people did not care for themselves. They never exercised, ate nothing but sweets, smoked, etc. They died from Diabetes, Stroke, and Heart Disease. They didn’t care that they were on a one-way road to an early grave. They didn’t care about those that loved them. They were selfish.

My heart hurts today. Not just because Grandpa died. It hurts because he chose to die early. He didn’t value this special gift of life.

If you are reading this, value your life. Tell those that are close to you how much you love them. Make sure they know that you care. Do everything you can to take care of your body so you live a long, happy life. Don’t be selfish. YOU ARE SPECIAL! Don’t ever, ever, ever forget that.

9 Days Until Grand Canyon

March 13th, 2008

As my husband has this week off from work (due to scheduling..woohoo!), we decided to go for a hike yesterday. Our family has been trying to get into shape so we can hike/camp down at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. That is 9 days away.

We filled our hiking backpacks with water, various clothing, and food items that would simulate the weight we would be carrying down the canyon. We were carrying things like bags of rice, a canister of oatmeal, a canister of grits, bags of beans, dog biskets, and peanuts (yum..doesn’t all that sound tasty?).

When all was packed, our son was carrying approx. 20lbs., I was carrying approx. 30lbs., and my husband approx. 40lbs. Honestly, I thought I was more-or-less “in shape” as I have been running so much. I was wrong. Dead wrong. Lugging around 30lbs. on your back is VERY uncomfortable. However, you do get used to it.

We decided to hike at a local park called St. Edwards. It has a lovely creek running through it and lots of shade. The first half mile was a killer for all of us. No matter how many times we have hiked together (lots and lots), you just can’t get used to that extra weight on your back. I was thinking during the first mile: “Can I even do the Grand Canyon? This is tough!”

Thankfully, after that it started to get easier. I think we all started to get into a rhythm and began to enjoy the scenery more. We all had our Camelbacks and drank water.

My husband (smart man that he is) brought our camp stove and a backpacking meal for 2. After a quick boil of 2 cups of water (and 13 minutes to wait for the dehydrated food to cook), we had Jamaican BBQ Chicken by Backpacker’s Pantry. It was actually pretty tasty. The best parts were that it satisfied all 3 of us AND we cooked the meal in a bag. Incidentally, you have to pack out ALL items that you take into Grand Canyon as there are no trashcans. Less trash is good for all. Not having to wash dishes, priceless.

We were energized after lunch and continued on our hike. We finished up a hike just short of 4 miles. We have been hiking quite a bit, but this was the first time with carrying our packs. I think we are going to try and get in another hike w/packs this weekend.

Our vacation is quickly approaching. There is so much to do. We have been investigating hiking foods. Although you can pay $6-$12 for a “hiking meal”, you can purchase “only add water” items at the local grocery store. Weight is a big issue for extended hiking trips. The heaviest items will be protein. They now make chicken & fish fillets in packets. Although we won’t be eating 5-star restaurant style, we definitely won’t be living on trail mix only. How boring is that?!

What are we bringing on our trip?:

  • 3-20 degree sleeping bags
  • 1-3 person tent weighing 6lbs.
  • 3-large hiking backpacks
  • 1-Katyn water purifier
  • 1-MSR Whisper-Lite camp stove
  • 3-Thermarest camp mats
  • 3-70 oz. Platypus water bags
  • 1 change of clothes per person (4 pr. socks, zip-off hiking pants, moisture wicking clothing)
  • 1-fully loaded first aid kit (moleskin, medication, Ace bandages, anticeptics, etc.)
  • Food that helps hikers (i.e. protein, carbohydrates, replaces sodium lost)
  • Many Ziploc bags (everything gets a bag)
  • Toilet paper/baby wipes
  • LOTS of water

Can you teach an old dog new tricks?

March 10th, 2008

Ok, I can draw. I always remind my son that everyone has a gift in life. Mine is art. I love shape, color, design, and the whole creative process. I love to look at the world and see the beauty in it. To me, the whole world is a big box of colored pencils and watercolor paper.

Notes Just Hanging AroundTo me, music is art in the form of sound. I might be able to put something on paper. Musicians put art into our ears. I have always wanted to learn music, but never had the money or courage to try it. It was always: “One day, I would like to try that”.

Our home has been filled with the sounds of a classical guitar for over 2 yrs. now. Our son has been taking weekly lessons and gotten quite good over these last few years. Playing the guitar soothes his moods when he is feeling stressed or anxious. As our family loves classical music, hearing him play fills my heart with joy.

A week ago, our son needed to write 12 bars of music for Boy Scouts. He needed to write and play this “song” for his leader in order to fill a music badge requirement. As we found out about this assignment last minute, our son was thoroughly stressed. He asked for advice from his guitar teacher and he helped as much as he could.

Even though I know NOTHING about notes, playing speed, etc., I wanted to help out. My son thought I was a musical idiot and pretty much told me “No thanks, Mom”. I was determined to see how this music thing worked so I asked: “What do the black dots sound like?” (I had no idea what note was what. I just wanted to hear them played.) My son humored me and played some notes for me. I started to think: “I can write a song. If I know what the notes sound like, I can make up something.”

So, I got a crash course in what note was what. I know my son thought I was a complete moron, but he was a good sport about it and played notes for me. I took one of his blank sheet music pages and started to “write” a song of my own. In a half of an hour, I had “written” my first song. Granted, it was horrible and musicians around the world were covering their bleeding ears, but I didn’t care. I had gotten the music bug.

That night, I mentioned to my husband that I wanted to learn to play the guitar. I didn’t want to buy an expensive classical guitar as I really wasn’t sure if it was for me. I found a musical instrument vendor on Ebay that sent out tons of instruments a month. I won a blue, classical guitar for $7.99. With shipping, it was $32. Not a big investment for a new hobby.Blue guitar

Today, my guitar arrived. What a beauty. BLUE! My son took out his first song that he had learned and walked me through playing it for 45 minutes. Tonight, I played it for my family. I had done it. This wanna-be-artist had begun a new trick…to play music.

I dream of one day playing Pachebel, Debussy, Mozart, Bach, Ravel, and more. That is MANY years away. I am okay with that. Until then, I will plunk away at the strings and try to squeak out “music”. This old dog just might learn a thing or two. Who knows? I might graduate to a “real guitar” as I get better. I might plurge for a $50 one next time around.

As for my son’s song, it turned out just fine. He played it for his music teacher. He said that it was a great “first attempt” at being a composer. He tweaked it a bit here and there and it started to sound really great. I don’t think that our son liked the whole creative process though. I think he would much rather play something that someone else had written. Personally, I enjoyed writing a song. That is something I would like to look into in the future. Until then..I am moving on to Row, Row, Row your Boat. LOL

I’m a Running Fool!

March 8th, 2008

I was a running fool this week. I burned 5253 calories through running. I have put in over 34 miles. That is a lot of miles for me normally (my norm is around 25). I just felt like putting on my new running shoes and hitting the road.

Funny thing is, I don’t think I am eating enough. Honestly, I REALLY need to see a sports nutritionist and talk about calories & exercise. My normal daily calories are between 1600-1800 a day. I don’t think that I am eating enough, but I feel GUILTY when I eat that 1800 calories. My Weight Watchers leader told me to eat around 1200 calories a day and I would lose weight (that was when I went to meeting in 2007). When I did that, I GAINED 6 pounds in a week! Umm…I don’t think that is quite right with an exercise fool.

You would think that with all my miles, I would be losing weight. I am not. My clothes are just as tight. Does that discourage me? A little. When I was 20, I was a lifetime member of Weight Watchers and the weight FELL OFF. I didn’t exercise – AT ALL! Now, I am 38 (almost 39) and exercise like a maniac. The pounds are stubborn and not coming off.

You know what? So what! I FEEL GOOD. I am confident and love the chick within. Sure, I would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to lose 20+ pounds. For now, I am just comfortable with who I am. I may not be a skinny chick, but I am a content chick. I am proud of myself for making my health a priority. My attitude is good and I look forward to my workouts and healthy eating. Can’t go wrong with that, right?

My goal is to run 1000 in 2008. I ran over 100 miles in Jan., 29 miles in Feb. (I had the flu for 2 weeks), and am at 34.5 for March so far. This is going to be MY YEAR to make 1000 miles. I promised myself 2 things for hitting over 1000 in 2008:

1)Run the Goofy races at Disney World in Jan. ’09
2)Buy an awesome juicer for ME to enjoy healthy fruit/vegetable juices

Two healthy goals for keeping my health a priority. Go me!

Don’t offend the test takers! Can’t we all get an A?

March 5th, 2008

We have a dear friend that left working at IBM last year (after 11 yrs. and making over $100k) so he could learn to become a chef. He had always dreamed of being one, but had never had the courage to pursue it. He left his job behind and enrolled in the Cordon Bleu Cooking School. He is 41 yrs. old.

He realized that he was probably the oldest student on campus, but that didn’t deter him. He has been working hard and has gotten straight A’s in all of his classes.Test cheating

Recently, he had a huge review test covering months of work. He studied for weeks so he would pass. He got his test back and received a 100% correct. He was thrilled. He then heard his fellow students make comments to the teacher like:

“The test was too hard!”
“I didn’t know….was going to be on the test. I didn’t study for that!”
“I really don’t think the test was fair. You didn’t tell us that….was going to be on the exam!”

He then heard the teacher quiet down the class and say: “You are right. The test was hard. For all of you that missed questions, you can go back to your books and find the correct answers. You can turn in your new answers for another grade.”

Our friend was DEVASTATED. He had studied many afternoons/evenings/weekends to get his grade. It didn’t matter. Those that didn’t study were being rewarded with a second chance.

THAT my friends, is what the world is coming to. Just another reason to homeschool our children. My husband says: “Let the world teach children like that. When our son gets out into the world, he will roll them all over. He will know that you don’t always get what you want.” Something to think about…

20 Years IS a Good Start

March 5th, 2008

The title above is what was written on a card that came with flowers. I was pleasantly suprised to answer the door on February 29, 2008 (Sadie Hawkins Day) to a flower delivery man. My husband remembered (I hadn’t) that we had become a couple 20 years prior. Everyone said Leap Year (2/29) was Sadie Hawkins day. I have found out since then that Sadie Hawkins day is actually on November 15th. That doesn’t matter to us. We celebrate it on 2/29 (like many folks do).

When we met, I didn’t like my husband. He was my brother’s friend and completely “bugged” me. Time went on and we became friends. Then, I realized that I was I head-over-heels for him. On Sadie Hawkins Day, 20 yrs. ago, I got up the courage to ask him to be my boyfriend. (Sadie Hawkins is supposedly the day when a girl can ask a guy out-a bit of role reversal). I remembered being really scared that he would say “no”. (I now know that guys have it really rough asking a girl out…speaking of putting your heart on the line!). Thankfully, he liked me too and became my boyfriend.

Lichtenstein Kiss This month, we will be married 18 yrs. Nowadays, that is a l-o-n-g time. I don’t know what the national average is for marriage, but a good marriage takes work. I once worked as a waitress and was serving a couple that had been married 50 yrs. I asked the man: “What is your secret for being married so long?” He replied: “When you put the needs of your spouse above your own, and she does the same, it makes marriage easier.”

My husband and I don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day or fall for the “buy her diamonds” for Christmas. We say we love one another several times a day and go out of our way to show each other that we care. It could be as simple as getting a cold drink for them. It could be as huge as helping them through depression or a lay-off. Putting each other first makes all the difference. A good marriage isn’t about “what do I get from this”. A good marriage is what can we do to make a better life our “us”.

The flowers were beautiful. Remembering a moment so long ago made my year. 20 years IS a good start indeed.

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