Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Monday, December 29, 2008
Today we went to a beautiful lake and had lunch. The drive there had beautiful scenery, and the beautiful restaurant was an idyllic setting.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Friday, December 26, 2008
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Today is the kind of Christmas I LOVE...Being somewhere different, surrounded by my family, with the emphasis on Jesus, and not on the presents. Brenna and I (with help from others) made breakfast for her team (ten people), our family (+five), Jenna's family (+three) and Marijke's family (+four) for a total of 22. I love the noise, the confusion, the hubub. Having the house full and people eating is the best! We made cinnamon rolls from scratch, muffins, fruit salad, eggs and bacon. Yum! Brenna opened her Christmas stocking. (The other girls had theirs at home before we left.) We sat around eating and laughing. Many of the girls Skyped home. Lauren, whose family isn't coming opened her present in front of her computer so her family back home could watch. There's something surreal about getting a digital picture frame filled with family pictures and showing it to your computer when a cool pic comes up. "Oh, this one's great Mom. Remember when..." The technology really helps keep you in touch, but also pulls at your heart because you can actually see what's going on at home that you are missing.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Sitting in Starbucks at LAX last night, surrounded by most of my family, I couldn't believe my good fortune: that I was actually going to get to go to El Salvador to see Brenna. It's like Christmas already for me! My life has been torture for me navigating the medical world, enduring hour after hour in the ER, being punished with a broken furnace (which means a cold house, AND having to research and pay for something that doesn't even make home better--it only gets me back even.), and various other slings and arrows, like a stressful deposition. When I got on the plane at 11:30pm for the five-hour flight, I knew I was actually going to get to see Brenna and have my family back together again. Halleluah!
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Sunday, December 14, 2008
See? I'm not unhappy ALL the time. I'm even smiling in this picture. We had fun with good friends at a gingerbread house-making party. Never mind that my heart was a little sad to be doing this event without the girls. It's something we've done as a family since they were little.
My brother, who lives in Palmdale, came to my Dad's house and didn't call Dad to let him know he was there, or come to visit Dad at my house. Jim and Dad went to pick up some things from the house, and found my brother very drunk. He had been staying there awhile. Dad was upset. I was upset for Dad. Neither of us need this on top of all we are dealing with. Life is hard enough without that. I pray that my brother will get the help he needs, and will be whole and healed and start making good choices for his life.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Friday, December 12, 2008
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Saturday, December 6, 2008
Friday, December 5, 2008
Thursday, December 4, 2008
This post should go before the last one...I thought I had published it, but I had only WRITTEN IT. As I've stated before, I'm sort of losing my mind. The following I wrote yesterday. (Before today's post.)
I think I’m going to implode. All week I’ve felt like I couldn’t handle one more thing, and then one more thing happened. My dad looked terrible enough when I got home from work that I called 911. I thought he had experienced another heart attack. We argued with the ambulance people to take him to the hospital he was in before, but they had to take him to the one closest to my house, which meant we have to start all over again with new doctors, new nursing staff, and a new, unfamiliar environment. As it turns out it wasn’t a heart attack, but rather a drug reaction. I’m becoming too familiar with hospitals, and I’m worn out.
The other things I’m dealing with: Doctors’ offices, the auto insurance company, the police, the health insurance companies, and trying to keep my life and my job running. There’s also a huge family rift developing around ranch owned by my family. One of my cousins wants to sell out to a developer. She refuses to be bought out by the family partners. It’s a mess. They found my car. Damaged. Three hours away from me. “You need to pick it up within the next half hour or we will have it impounded and it will cost $400 to get it out.” Great. Called the girls. Molly could get a friend to drive her, and was all set to go when she realized she didn’t have a key. What to do? Call a locksmith? We finally called the insurance who let it be impounded and will pay the charges to get it out, and towed to a body shop and delivered to us. We love our new auto insurance.
There are bright spots. My teaching partner is going through a tragedy parallel to mine. Each morning we debrief on the wonderful or terrible event that happened with our parent the night before. I have good friends who have surrounded me. My brother’s been sober for four days. My children are doing well, and they bring me joy. Friends from Turkey are staying with us and they are a blessing, and a help. Tonight, when she offered to run any errand I needed tomorrow, I burst into tears and hugged her. I am too overwhelmed to actually think of anything for her to do for me, but just knowing that someone is willing to do anything for me, and actually has her days free to do it, is like getting an early Christmas present.
I changed young lives for two hours this morning, when it became apparent to my husband that my dad was not doing well again. I came home at 10 am. SJRMC hospital is closer to our house than CMH hospital, but the ambulance service won’t believe the most trustworthy information provider ever: Google. The ambulance service people prefer to rely on their own pea brains which claim that 6 miles is shorter than 5. WHATEVER. We drove to Dad’s and called 911 from there so we could go to SJRMC. When the ambulance arrived and they asked what hospital, I told them, and then they said “Well, we may have to take you to CMH because SJRMC is full.” AAAGGGGHHHH. I feel like I have something figured out, then another thing blindsides me. I can handle A. I’m good at A. I’ve learned about A. Then it’s B. Gotcha! Sigh. I’m becoming far too competent at these medical things: take Dad’s precious Cross pen out of his pocket and leave it at home, guard the hearing aids, get a list of medications, pick up the notebook with the medical history, then grab the phone charger and a bunch of food. At the hospital: keep track of every doctor's name, the nurses are your best source of information, don't ask questions while a doctor is thinking or reading a chart b/c you will interrupt his train of thought, the coffee lady is very sweet, there's no wireless anywhere, and when people get to know you, they try to help.
So, we’ve been in the ER for a million hours. Tomorrow maybe I’ll be able to do something more fun, like have a root canal or be pecked by a thousand chickens, or get to watch ten crying infants. But for now I’m stuck in ER hell. And I’m so tired I can’t even watch my language. I’m way past the end of my rope. I’ve let go of the rope and I’m in freefall. They’re going to admit Dad to the hospital. My friend RP assures me that I’ll make it through and look back on this as a rich time. The intimacy I will gain when I walk with someone through the shadows of life will add richness to my own life that I will always treasure. At least that’s what she says. My brain is too full of mush to know whether that’s true. I have no deep thoughts. Only blathering. Please let me lay in my bed and drink tea and surf the Internet. PLEASE!!!
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Friday, November 28, 2008
The girls went Black Friday shopping at O'Dark Thirty, and then we went to breakfast at Mystic Mocha, a neighborhood coffee shop full of ambience and great food that we have grown to love. My sister-in-law gave us tickets to the SD zoo, so we spent the rest of the morning there. Kelly has a season pass but even she got to see animal behavior she's never seen before. The tiger cubs came right up to the window to frolic. The Polar Bears put on an amazing water-wrestling session. One woman said "This makes the San Francisco Polar Bear exhibit look so sad." I liked the baby Panda, too, and thought of my friends in China. I love all the languages being spoken at a tourist place like this. My favorite "animals" were the little children, jabbering in French or Indian, excited about the fish or the bears .
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Friday, November 21, 2008
I took a time out from my own grief today and along with another friend, played a good prank on our two newest teachers at school. (One teacher is going through chemotherapy, the other's mother survived being accidentally run over by a motor home. It's a tough time for both.) On the front door of both classrooms was a sign that said "Prepare for a heart attack." Then we covered their desks, drawers, floor and every flat surface with hearts. (I give Brenna credit for the idea.) We had heart chocolates and puns on hearts and even put hearts in ther attendance books and student folders. They will be finding hearts for a long time to come. My partner walked in and said "What now? Prepare for a heart attack!!!???" She sounded like "Don't I have enough on my plate without this too?" but when she saw the hearts she was so happy that she started crying. It was great! She didn't know it was me (and my accomplice) until she found the hearts in the refridgerator only on her food. Drats! I'm not an expert yet at all this covert stuff. The other teacher was thrilled, too, and it felt so good to get my mind off my problems and be able to make someone happy during this trying time.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Friday, October 31, 2008
Monday, October 27, 2008
When I think about my most valuable possession, it's probably my wedding ring designed by my father's friend since childhood. Or the ring I wear with it from Ireland that Jim gave me for our 20th wedding anniversary. I hope I never lose these precious items. But I think about my dad, whom I love far more than these, and no matter how much I try to hold onto him, and how much I protect him and care for him, I'm going to lose him. It's a given. When my dad had a heart attack in the wee hours of the morning last Monday, I realized how quickly things can change. One day he's planning his next road trip and practically needing a social secretary to keep up with all the fun things he does, and the next he's in the hospital looking more tired than an old Rambler. The head of cardiology said "I've done a lot of heart surgeries, but I've never met anyone with 16 heart bipasses." (He was one of the first people to have open heart surgery in 1975, and had two more heart surgeries after that.) He's out of the hospital now, and I hope he'll make a full recovery. But I think my heart is a little damged from the ordeal, too.
Sunday, September 28, 2008
We attended Parent Weekend at SDSU and had a great time. We had hoped to meet some of Molly's friends, but since it was Parent Weekend, all of her friends were busy with their parents. It is fun having both Molly and Kelly in the same city, and we are slowly developing fun traditions. We walked on the promenade at Pacific Beach (see photo), which is a yuppie beach town, where we consumed huge quantities of sugar, carbohydrates and caffeine. We usually go to Ikea, but this time we deviated and went to Costco. (Dorms don't supply toilet paper any more, and apparently Molly's room mates could win a prize for using the most paper in a week.) Last time Kelly gave us directions to Ikea, we thought she said "Turn right at the rock." OK. The rock. Hmmm. Turns out she said "The Ross." We didn't get lost quite as much on this trip as we have on previous trips. San Diego has a zillion ethnic restaurants, which works well with our adventurous tastes. The Persian restaurant there is my favorite restaurant in the whole world. (Sorry, Tipp's). I suggested eating at the Moroccan restaurant where Jim and the girls ate last time without me, Kelly suggested Ethiopian, but in the end we ate at a delicious Thai place. We shopped at the Japanese store where you can buy a wide variety of fun items for $1.50 each. Then the requisite trip to Yogurt World, where you can load seven pounds of toppings onto your yogurt as you read a huge sign detailing ten health benefits of eating frozen yogurt. People in San Diego feel strongly about their yogurt and are more loyal to their yogurt brand than their coffee store brand. We don't even HAVE frozen yogurt stores in my town. It's extra sad to say goodbye to the girls these days. We kissed Molly farewell last night, and had breakfast with Kelly at a coffee place with amazing muffins. (Today--pumpkin raspberry corn muffin). Jim and I are both a little depressed on every drive home. We don't know when we'll see them again, and we just miss them.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Molly is meeting lots of good friends. On the Saturday we were there, she introduced us to a friend, whom she seemed to know well. “So are you from Ventura?” I asked. “No, we met on Facebook.” Later Molly took her computer to tech support, and a girl there said uncertainly “Molly?” “Um. Yeah. Do I know you?” “It’s _____. From Facebook!” “Oh, HI!” She’s connecting in real life with people she’s been talking to for months, and has friends who will give her rides to church and invite her to their family’s home for games. It’s really cool. Her room mates all steal food from each other. But no one seems to want to steal Molly’s hummus, edamame, tomatoes, snow peas, and other food.
Brenna is living in a part of El Salvador that is perfectly safe. That is, it’s safe because it’s gated and has guards with huge guns patrolling her neighborhood. Not exactly comforting to me. But no different than the Guardia Civil that were on every corner in Spain where I lived for a year under fascist dictator Franco. Somehow activities that seem perfectly safe to do myself, seem worrisome when my kids do them. She is one I don’t have to worry too much about, though, because she makes good decisions, and has “street smarts”. She’s got a great team and I’m happy to support her in what she’s accomplishing there.
Kelly gets to go to Norway next week. She has this nanny job for a sweet toddler, and his mom is going to Norway, so Kelly gets to go, too. It’s very exciting. She really wants a teaching job, but to do that may require actually quitting the nanny job (that she loves) to substitute teach (which probably isn’t as much fun as teaching toddler Cole “A is for ‘Abolition’”). After Norway.
Jim has work in Chicago, Florida, San Diego and Los Angeles. That he has work is wonderful. That it’s not in our town. Not so much.
And I wish Matt a happy 21st birthday. Although he'd rather be celebrating with Brenna, I hear he isn't spending his days in a a corner crying into his root beer waiting for her return.
Sunday, August 31, 2008
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Friday, August 29, 2008
This picture is symbolic to me because when Molly was born, our physician, (and good friend). and Jim sat around eating Oreos while I was in labor. It seems apropos that he's eating Oreos as we cut the umbilical cord once more.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Is anyone else unhappy with the cultural insensitivity of the US commentators at the Olympics? China is an amazing country of fabulous wonders and amazing people, and the reporters seem to seek out stories that are demeaning, rather than complimentary to the Chinese.
For instance, they commented about how New York cabbies would think Manhattan was Mayberry compared to driving in Beijing. They don’t talk about how beautiful the city is or how friendly and kind the Chinese people are. The media representatives are GUESTS there, in a culture that is so eager to gain the world’s approval. What do you gain from laughing derisively at your hosts?
In a later segment they showed the Great Wall. One of the great wonders of the world by any measure. But did they comment on that? No! One of the athletes is pepper dancing down the stairs on the wall. The Chinese woman behind her is just trying to get down the steps, but the crazy American keeps weaving from side to side, so the woman can’t figure out how to proceed. So they circle the woman onscreen and mock her!! In China they revere older people, and this set my teeth on edge.
China has the most delicious, and wonderful food, but the reporters have sought out only the weirdest foods like seahorses on a stick, duck feet, and scorpions. They leave the impression that China has only bizarre foods. The woman last night said “I FINALLY found something good here.” What about beef and broccoli or spicy green beans? I loved all their fresh vegetables stir-fried to perfection, and their fish was to die for. It’s like they sought out bad food, and then complained that Chinese food is horrible, when delicious food is available at every turn. But the Chinese are such good hosts—they even provided a fork to eat it with, which I didn’t know existed there. To scorn China for its human rights record or its treatment of Tibet would be fair, but to criticize Chinese food and driving just seems tactless.
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
Author Aleksandr Solzenitsyn seems like someone who should be immortal. I haven’t thought about him for a long time, but when he died last weekend I realized how much he impacted my life. I am a strong believer in the power of the written word, and his tales of life as a prisoner exiled to the Gulag Archipelago revealed the evils of communism in a powerful way. Living in Palos Verdes, I always felt like a square peg in a round hole. I couldn’t compete with the girls who had live-in seamstresses, and mothers (or servants) who bought them the latest shoe styles and accessories. I wasn’t athletic, didn’t write for the school paper, and couldn’t sing well enough to get a part in the school musical. I didn’t fit in anywhere in this materialistic and shallow world. But when I read The Gulag Archipelago, it revealed a world to me that I had never seen in my insulated town. There were people out there who were suffering for what they believed?! There were people who felt lucky just to be alive and to not receive any broken bones that day? There were horrible atrocities perpetrated on other human beings? The issues he brought up seemed really important, and I began to see that perhaps knowing how to put on make up perfectly or being able to lead cheers at football games was not the most important thing in the universe. Having compassion and working to make positive change in the world began to seem much more imperative. I still felt out of place in Palos Verdes, but Solzenitsyn made me think less about the kids who were handed shiny new cars, and more about the kids in Russia who had no say in their future.