Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's Eve

Happy New Year's Eve! Many of the blogs I read have a wonderful end-of-the-year post - a review of the year or how they are looking forwarded to the New Year.  Sadly, that won't be this blog.

Not because the year has been bad - it wasn't. Not because I'm dreading next year - I'm not.

But I am enjoying time with my family this week.


I hope you are as well!

More to come next year - and may it be merry and happy!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Weekend

We really had a sweet Christmas - even after all the drama of my father's fall.   We had Drew's parents here as well as one of his sister in for the weekend.  Friday morning my mother-in-law and I got most of the cooking done. Friday afternoon we just stayed around the house - played games - just enjoyed being together. 

After an enjoyable Christmas Eve church service, we came home for a great meal.  Sonny & Mary Estelle brought one of our favorite pasta dishes - we all fell in love with this dish in earlier in the fall. It has just about every thing in -I'm afraid to add up how many calories it has....but it's so worth it! It has sausage, shrimp, crab, Alfredo sauce, rotel....just such goodness!  After dinner we finally put the kids' out of their misery and opened presents.  I think everyone enjoyed their gifts.  All the kids got rockets, so I'm sure by week's end we'll be blasting them off. We ended the night with our tradition of going to look at holiday lights.

One surprise for us this year is that we won the neighborhood's Christmas lights contest!! We were so surprised!! I came home from the hospital last Tuesday with my mother and brother and wondered what sign was in my yard.  When we got close enough, I could see it said first place - wow!!!  $50 VISA card was our reward!! I need to make sure I get a picture of the house - We really didn't think it was worthy of the win.  We (well - Drew, really) out-lined the front of the house with the icicle lights.  Simple but, makes a statement, I guess (and it helps that not too many other's decorated their house!!)

Saturday the kids received their big gifts and stockings. William got a remote-control helicopter (that Drew broke upon the 3rd flight), Melissa got a sewing machine (she's ready to start a project!), and Ben a soccer net.   For dinner we had three of Drew 's co-workers join us. They seemed to have a good time -  I hope so.   All are active-duty with the Air Force - I know how hard it is to be away from family. They were all good sports and played "Apples to Apples" and "Catch-Phrase" with us.

Sunday we packed up - Charlotte headed back to Texas, and the rest of us went to my parents' house. The original plan was for my family to join us here at our house, but after Dad's fall we all thought it was best for him not to travel. But still. We had a nice time.   I love having everyone together. I hope my kids realize how lucky they are to have all four grandparents in the same room.

Sweet times.

Late Sunday afternoon my dear childhood friend, Janean, came over for a visit.  After knowing each other for over thirty-five years, we still laugh! Even if she did beat me in Scrabble - which if you know me - that's not hard to do!

Such sweet times!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Sandwich Lady

Shortly after I married a friend started to refer to me as "the Sandwich Lady" as a play on my new-very-long-Italian-sounding-last name.  Lately I have been living up to the name as I am now "sandwiched in" between raising my kids on one side and helping my parents out on the other side.

While I know some hate this point in life, I wouldn't have it any other way.  This is just another stage in life and I feel very blessed to be close enough to help my parents out.

Tuesday was such a sandwiched day - well, most of the week, really.   As I was helping the kids get ready for school I received a phone call from my brother, Ricky, saying that dad had fallen while getting the paper and was being taken to the hospital.  I finished up the kids' lunches then jumped in the shower to get ready.  After the big kids were off to school, Drew took over Benjamin and so I got on the road for the ninety minute drive.

It seems that at some point after five in the morning Dad got out of bed. Mom thought he was in the den watching TV, but we have since figured out that he missed up the TV setting and could not fix them, so he went to get the paper instead.  Some how he fell - we don't know why - but he landed on the upper left side of his face - hard! And based on the cuts and bruises he all over his body, he rolled after falling. (He looked so bad - so swollen....bruised up all over!)

A neighbor found him in the street and brought  him inside the house sometime just before six.  My mom woke up to a man in the hallway calling her name asking her to wake-up. (Now that's enough to give any women a nightmare!)  The neighbor stayed and made sure she called for an ambulance as well as my brother (whom he is friends with).

Shortly after I arrived the doctor came in to say that the scan showed a 5cm bleed and that could possibly cause the brain to swell and if so, would need a hole drilled in the skull to relieve the swelling - if not it could cause death.

Nothing like having your stomach drop out from underneath you.

Because there were no neuron-surgeon available in the local area, he would need to be heli-ported to the trauma center at LSU Medical Center in Shreveport (close to my house).  Within an hour of being told this, he was on a helicopter.  Drew was able to re-arrange his work schedule and met Daddy at the trauma unit.

Late in the afternoon the trauma doctor gave us a report from the scan they did - the bleed was only 5mm - not cm as the first ER said.  The trauma doctor said he if had known that, he would not have air-vac-ed dad over. Oh, such deep relief!!  This was not as serious as we were first told.  Nor would he require any holes drilled into his head.

But this doctor wanted to be on the safe side and keep dad in ICU over night.  So, within another few hours, dad was taken upstairs to the ICU, but we were not allowed to see him for a few hours.  We did warn the nurse that dad is not a good patient and he would pull out his IVs.

And he tried.  By the time we saw him again the next morning his hands were tied down and he was still sleeping. It seems that he was given benadryl at some point.  (I personally think the nurses gave him benadryl to calm him down and to make him sleep so he would quit pulling at his IVs as well as quit calling for my mother every two minutes!!)

We were able to speak to the doctor  - asking what type of time-line did we have for being released.  He assured us that the bleed was not a real concern, but then he said, "But we have more serious issues that this bleed."

Yikes! "What does that mean?"  I asked.

"For a man of sixty years his brain has a lot of vascular atrophy and he is very disoriented. He can not answer simple questions nor follow simple directions."

"First off he is seventy not sixty, and secondly, since his stroke three years ago he is not able to answer a lot of questions nor follow a lot of directions- this is normal for him."

"Oh, that case he's good to go - he should be released to the upper floor soon."

We were a little frustrated! Did any of these doctors read the chart??!!

Late that day (Wednesday) he was released to the floor. While my mother was able to stay with him, neither got much sleep. I think dad was just excited to have mom with him again.  And of course, sleeping in a hospital is never fun - too many people coming in and out of your room.

In order for Dad to be released he had to be cleared by just about every department in the hospital.  It seemed like a never ending process!! I lost track of the number of doctors, nurses, and therapist that come in. And of course, we had to repeat his whole history every. single. time.

Do any of these doctors read a chart??!!!

And to top it off, the first doctor would be a student and quickly realized that this was a complicated case with chronic issues not acute issues, and so they would call for their supervisor. Which is nice. Until we had to repeat everything again.

Several times I told mom we should just sign him out and take him home and end all of this!

But at seven Thursday night all the paperwork and approvals were done and we were able to walk out.

We gave serious thought to taking him home to my house for the night, but in the end we all knew he would be so much happier at his house, so my brother meet us half-way.  It was an exhausting few days, but I'm glad I was able to help.

All of his injuries should heal in a few weeks.  He broke his cheekbone and some sinus bones in several places. He is very sore  and stiff -  has a hard time moving around.  His left eye was swollen shut at first and when the swelling went down and he could open it a little it was totally red  - not great at all to look at. His whole left side of his face was so bruised as well as his knees, elbows, toes name it - it was either bruised or scraped. Dad kept saying, (in joking) "See what she did to me?" 

At least he still has a sense of humor.

We were also told that something else appeared on the scan - a "mass" on one of his kidneys...and we were told that it could very well be cancer.  Mom was able to make an appointment with his doctor after the holidays to get this checked out. 

But for now he's taking one day at at time....just focusing on healing from this fall...and enjoying being together.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Hiding Places

The night that Melissa came home from the hospital, our neighbors brought over a plate of sugar cookies. It was so sweet of them to take the time to cook some cookies to show their relieve that she was home and healthy. Of course, we all enjoyed several -very tasty.

The next morning as I was cleaning up the kitchen I thought that something was missing off the counter, but really didn't think too much about it. Later that night we were all in mine and Drew's bedroom watching TV when Melissa got up and then returned with a cookie. We all were like "oooo! I want one!"  She said, "Okay, but I'm rationing them out! You can only have one! They are MY cookies!"

Well...alrighty then...  And that's when it dawned on me what was missing from the kitchen counters: the plate of cookie! She had hid them!!

The next day Melissa stayed after school for a club and William and I were home...all alone...and hungry for some cookies.  We then proceeded on a search and eat mission. 

After our success, we felt it was only right to hid the cookies a different spot.

After dinner we said, "Hey, Melissa - you should pull out the cookies for dessert."

"Okay - but I get to pass them out!"

Oh, the look on her face when they were not where she hid them was priceless. Of course, I could have done without the scream of "Where are MY cookies!!??? What did you do with them???""

She really doesn't do well when everyone is laughing...but her....

In the end she got her cookies and even passed one out to all of us. Of course, we'll see if she ever shares with us again, but she probably  will be finding a new hiding spot if she does.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas Party

Last night we had our Sunday school's Christmas party. It was a night full of unexpected surprises (which if the were excepted then they wouldn't be surprises, I guess would they?)  As we were eating one of the ladies next to me shared with the table how her father was in the hospital gravely ill and how her mother would not leave the hospital at night.

He's 94 and has been very ill off and on for the last few years.  At four different points the family was called in to say goodbye, but all four times he rallied. They nicknamed him "Lazarus" and the proverbial "Cat with Nine Lives".  Not ten minutes later after this conversation, her cell phone ranged saying her father had passed away.

Oh, wow. Not what you expect at a Christmas paty...even when you know how sick he is.

Later in the evening we played a round of "Apples to Apples"  we found out who are the sore losers in the class (not me!!) and who are the competitive ones.  But we laughed. Oh, how we laughed.

After our game the teacher (also our pastor) had us go around the room and sharing something interesting or unknown about ourselves.  What a great idea! So many of us in the class are new and we don't know each other's stories.  It was really eye-opening to listen to these small tales...who knew in our mist that the seven-month pregnant lady played soccer in college and still has some national records, or the quiet guy in the class was a re-po man, or that Drew (my husband) didn't cut grass as a teen to earn money, but put on magic shows, or the smallest most petite sweet quiet lady in class in the local prison warden! Most unexpected!

But that's what I love about getting to know people.  There's all the parts to them...just like it's been said before by several - we really are like onions with many layers. Isn't great that Jesus made us this way?  How boring we all would be is there were no surprises in people.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


Last night the musical minister spoke at the service due to the pastor being out of town.  His statement sort of shocked me. He said, "I'm a dis-contented person and have come to the realization that contentment is a myth."

Wow. From a minister, that's shocking.  But as he spoke it started to make sense. He said that discontentment can be good - but that it does have a dark side.

It's this dark side that many of us think about when we talk about discontentment.  But its discontentment that makes us better - that drives us to improve.

Looking at contentment that way - it makes sense.  I think we should always strive to improve our relationship with the Lord and others, but we should not strive to make ourselves and our possessions perfect.

Few other thougths he said was that discontentment can make us ungrateful for what we do have - that's one of the dark sides of it. Discontentment can, also, lead us make hasty decisions.

We need to understand our natural tenancy of discontentment. It comes from a deep longing we have.  So many of us try to fill that longing with the things of this world...whether it's possessions or accomplishments. But in reality it will only be filled by the Lord and only completely filled when we are in heaven.

So, the next time you are discontent, take a moment to focus on the Lord.  Seek Him to fill you....not the things and people of this world.  As C.S. Lewis stated,"If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world."

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Sense of Humor

I saw this the week before just cracks me up. Yeah....I have an off sense of humor.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Sheer Craziness

Life turned a little crazy last week....well...a lot crazy.  My daughter became so very ill that on Saturday that we ended up in the ER. Now we're waiting for test to return to see if she has a blood clotting disease. Drew and I have talked several times over the years about how blessed we feel for the health of our children.  Still feel that way. Of course, now I'm very grateful for the doctors and medicine that can keep them that way even more than ever before.

I guess like so many things in life, this was totally a surprise. Nothing before has indicated a blood problem. But things change on a dime, don't they?

We'll know by the end of the week. If the test is positive we will see a hematologist for a plan for the future.  It's controllable and treatable.

Which is good because, I never want to go through anything like this again.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


There's one blog that I read that I'm a little unsure of what I'll  find.  I honestly would not be surprised if there's a post by the author's husband saying she committed suicide.  I'm always greatly relived to see a new post by her as I was again tonight.  She's been through a lot in her life, but the main thing that sticks out to me is the lack of faith.

She seems to cling to the things of this world and is finding them wanting.... Makes me sad for her.   Drew and I both have at different times made comments about the comfort we have in our faith - in our Lord Jesus - and how we wouldn't want to go through life without Him....wonder how others do.

This lady shows that some do go through life with out Him  - and "do" life badly.

Yes, I'm praying for her. And  yes, I'm thinking of an email to her about faith.....just need the right words.

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Food Challenge

The day finally dawned. I had been asking for this day for over six years.  A food challenge. Why was it so hard?? Most doctors wanted nothing to do with one. After all, if it went bad - it would go bad very fast. None wanted to be responsible for that. And frankly, I can't say I blame them.

I did have one doctor willing to do a while ago. But that was when Drew was deployed and I was at a low point in the deployment....the point of just doing what I absolutely had to do - work, feed, clean, and clothe the children!  Since there were no allergist on Guam, we weren't able to have it done there.

Here we are assigned civilian doctors instead of military doctors and clinics. And that has made all the difference in the world! We are now able to get some consistency of care for the kids. (Don't get me wrong - we have had some great military doctors over the years. But with two wars going on, deployments hit everyone - including the doctors.) One of the first things our new pediatrician did was to refer us to an allergist for our food allergies.  Over these last few months we have worked through the process and to arrive at the food challenge day. 

Benjamin went first. He was very apprehensive. If you have ever seen the size of the needle on an Epi Pen, then you would understand why. Not a pretty sight.  Not a good feeling having one stuck or rather slammed into your thigh. And not any fun being hooked up to heart monitors afterwards because it can effect the heart. 

But none of that happened. In fact Ben said several times he was bored.

Yeah for boredom!! Chocolate is now his friend.

We have a few weeks before the other two have their day with chocolate..... I think Melissa will do fine as well. But William.....well......I have a feeling it's not going to be a good day for him.....

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Rest of the Weekend

While Thanksgiving was wonderful, the rest of the weekend was amazing.  Friday we spent a large portion of the day cooking, cleaning, and decorating for my mother-in-law's 80th birthday party.  Of course, we had to have at least one lunch at Biscuit and Blues - a tasty restaurant owned by a cousin of Drew's. Good thing there's an upstairs room otherwise we would have totally taken over the place there was so many of us. After that tasty food I got to shop a little in the downtown stores with one of my sister-in-laws and two nieces. Fun times.

Then it was back to getting ready for the party.

And oh, what a party it was! I was able to catch up with some friends and even more family members, but the best part was I think my mother-in-law had the time of her life! The theme was "Queen of Hearts". My sister-in-law, Margret, did an outstanding job with all the decorations - red &  black with a few zebra stripes thrown in.  I will try to post pictures soon.

A very entertaining moment was when my sister-in-law,Kathleen, gave Mary Estelle a book of letter and cards - all wishing her a very happy birthday from many in the family and lots of friends. One brother-in-law ever wrote a poem about her and read it out loud - what great humor this family has!  Then all the granddaughters preformed a little skit- while the grandsons hid on the stairs trying to be "cool".  Several of the older granddaughter as they were growing up would put on skits for us whenever we got together.  This was a nod to that - and to pay homage to their beloved Nana.  They did a great job - it was "Farewell, Good-night" from the Sound of Music - with the words changed to honor Nana.

I think the best part of the night was towards the end. It was just the family with a few cousins thrown in and we did a "quiz" on how well you knew Nana.  It was so much fun - often hilarious  - going over the answers. Several thought they knew the right answer only to be surprised by the truth! Afterwards one of the cousins who was sitting next to me, said "I think I just witness a very special moment in life."

And she was right.  That's how I felt as well. As we were sitting and laughing, I kept looking at my kids and praying that this night will stay in their memories forever. How incredibly lucky they are to have such a family...grandparents alive and well at 80 and 84 (mine are also alive and well - but  few years younger) have so many aunts and uncles and cousins....all who love them and will always be around for them.

We are so blessed.

Saturday morning we woke up early to participate in a 5K Turkey Trot....and we needed to trot off some turkey...and dip....and cake....and cookies....  Drew ended up winning third in his age group, William third in his age group and Melissa was first in her age group. I ended up winning lots of calories off my butt....but had I known prized (okay, just medals!) were in store maybe  I would have walked faster!!  Of course, I was in the walking part and they were in the running part.....

After eating some delicious party left-overs along with some fresh donuts and fudge cousins brought in, we headed to spend one night at my mom's house. We watched Ole Miss' last game of the year. Sadly, they did not play well....actually it looked like they didn't care anymore. And with a losing record, who can blame them.   I ended going to bed way before the game was over. Sleep was way more important!

And with that another Thanksgiving was over and done...our first back in the States...and what a great one it was.