Sunday, November 30, 2014

Red and Yellow, Black and White...

I haven't written.  I haven't been able to.  Too many thoughts are all tangled up in my head and heart.  Not to mention that my body is weary.  Taking care of the Hubby is taxing it as hard as everything else is taxing my mind and heart.

Hubs is doing well, he is still wobbly and in pain, which is to be expected when they move that many muscles and replace joints.  I am sure of it.  He's trying so hard to be independent, hating that he has to rely on me so much.  He's managed the stairs a few times and is standing for brief minutes solely on his own.  He's trying so hard not to be bed ridden and care dependent.  The reality is, that it isn't time for that yet.  Last night was the first time in a week that I have had a full nights sleep.  He didn't need to wake me to change the sheets because the bed was soaked from night sweats or to help him to the bathroom and back in bed.  He's making progress.

He's napping now, when he wakes up we will work on his therapy and then start the process of helping him get cleaned up for the day.  He'd kill for a shower, but that is evidently at least another week away.  A sponge bath just really does not compare, despite what anyone might think.  He wants a shave too, but standing for that long would not be pleasant right now.  Soon...

Thanksgiving was a very tiring and stressful day.  I had much to be thankful for, the nurse, the physical therapist and my eldest for starters.  We hadn't expected the nurse or PT until Friday, and were pleasantly surprised when they called and asked if they could come on Thanksgiving.  We left the hospital woefully unprepared for what waited for us at home.  They gave us a list of don'ts but forgot to give us any do's.... when you've never dealt with a joint replacement, that is hard to work with.


Between the three of them our hearts and home were put in order.  They gave us simple directions and tricks to make things easier, to help us with day to day until the OT could come this coming week.  The girl put her family aside for a bit and came to help me cook and clean to ready our home for Thanksgiving dinner. It was wonderful.

As usual things didn't turn out the way expected, do they ever?  But the girl and the grands were all here and ready to eat on time.  With smiles at the pies they love and happiness at being together, it was wonderful. Hubs even made it down stairs and to the table to join us all.  He'd managed to stay upright for three hours, mostly I think he was waiting for his youngest two, sadly he was wiped out by the time they arrived and only spent minutes with them.  It happens.


Through all of this, I have been cautiously watching the news, listening to hear what is going on.  I'd waiting on Wednesday to go to the hospital, there was a shooter in a car one exit down from mine on the route I had to take.  I wasn't worried about the shooter, more so the traffic jam it no doubt created.  I have been sadly listening to the news since Monday.

I can't say I am proud of what is happening in my adopted city.  Nor can I say it has anything to do with a young man breaking the law being shot by a young cop doing his job. This happens daily all over the country. Too many lives have been changed.  Black Friday was made into a debacle, yesterday another one, and who knows what today is going to hold.

My heart broke when I spoke to my dear B - to hear that the shop that people she loves had created for their community had been looted and vandalized.  I was so hurt and angry for them.  These are good people, people that take care of their neighbors, that give to their community and help build it up.  To strengthen it. To hear her softly say that it is embarrassing, that she is ashamed of her race.  I almost threw up, my stomach was coiling and my heart breaking.

It is nothing for her to feel shame about.  It is nothing for her to bear any embarrassment over.  The reality is we all need to feel that shame for the people that are being so horrible and hurtful.  And we are all part of the human race, the skin tone does not define any of us.

The people that are using this as some type of an excuse, they are inexcusable.  What are you hoping to prove?  Seriously... What?

The media is helping perpetuate a lie, living here the story is different.  What the national and international stage are seeing is not the same.  Just what is your point?  I am tired of hearing about "white privilege", about "not understanding what it's like to be black", about "inequality", about "being held down"... I am really tired of all of it.

Here are a few facts, at least from my point of view...

White privilege = nothing... everyone has the ability to succeed or fail.  It doesn't matter the color of your skin or your nationality.  Will it be harder for some, absolutely.  Will it be worth the fight, absolutely. I wasn't born with a silver spoon in my mouth.  Generations of my family have worked hard to get where we are. Some successful, some not so much.  We've all had ups and downs.  There have been many times I could have given up, played the government welfare game and probably come out ahead of where I am.  I didn't. Because that isn't how I was raised.  I was raised to hold my head high and respect myself.  Regardless of where I was in life.  No one, and I mean NO ONE, gave me a pass for being white.

Not understanding being black = irrational stupidity!  Sorry, but none of us truly understands what it is like to be anyone but ourselves.  And many of us struggle just understanding that.  This is brain washing in the extreme.  If you look at it a different way, honestly being black comes with so much "guilt" attached to it, that many things are given needlessly.  I assure you that if there were a Ivory channel, a white history month, a national society for white people, a national Caucasian caucus in Congress or anything else or any other "race", i.e. Middle Eastern, Far Eastern, etc... it would cause a bigger mess than there already is.  Was I the only one paying attention in Sunday school?  "Red and Yellow, Black and White, they are precious in his sight..." So I really can't take anymore of this not understanding... seriously... I don't understand myself some times... stop it.

Inequality?  This one completely blows my mind.  I can tell you what I found to be a serious inequality, the fact that I pay hundreds of dollars a month for medical insurance.  And yet when walking back to hubby's room from the pharmacy at the hospital, where I have just paid $50 in co-pays for a months' worth of medication I happen to be walking behind  two young girls (one looking about 15 and VERY pregnant) and a young man talking about medical care.  The young man asked her how much it was all going to cost her and she replied in something that I believe passes for English (?) "not a thing!  I have my Dad's insurance and Medicaid, I don't even have to work".  To me that was inequality.  As they walked off laughing I felt ill.  I work hard to keep my family insured, I am burning my sick leave to care for my hubby and keep my job. My taxes are paying for that.  I don't care what color they were, they were all able bodied and simply didn't want to work.  That's inequality.

And as for being held down... well no one is holding anyone down.  No one except yourself. If you choose to live on government handouts, using your free phone, having child after child knowing that there is no way you can support those children without the money from the government.  Refusing to marry the father's because you will be held accountable for your actions.  Refusing to study in school, finding it more fun to get wrapped up in evil and irresponsibility, then frankly... you are the only one holding you down.

This isn't about race.  This isn't even about those two young men whose lives were tragically changed in August. And yes both of their lives were changed.  This is about someone's agenda.  This is about hatred and ugly.

I have loved reading the few great stories that have come out of this mess.  The artists painting beautiful murals on plywood covering windows to repair their damaged communities, the young people out every morning cleaning up the carnage left of their communities after the idiots have gone to bed for the day.  The go-fund-me accounts that have more than paid to replace what the small business owners have lost in the insanity.  The young men that guarded the gas station that employed so many of them from looters.  I am sure there are just as many of these great stories, the media doesn't care about those....

They want to focus on the "protests" in the malls miles and miles from the community that this all started in. The "affluent" neighborhoods.  Well I live in one of those neighborhoods, and it's because I work hard to be there, and I assure you I am not affluent.  I live pay check to paycheck and do without when I cannot afford what I want or need.  This has nothing to do with those two men, they are the excuse.  Closing down malls has nothing to do with police brutality, with violations of rights, or even with equality.  It's just being bullies and jerks. It has no purpose.  IF it did, people would understand and support the cause. Not to mention that protesting on private property is illegal, and they should be arrested.

This morning I saw they've started burning the American Flag.  To me... this is sacrilege. You don't like what our flag stands for leave. Make room for the people that want to be here.  Go to one of the countries that you view as utopia. But leave here.  Too many American's have fought to protect all that flag stands for. That very flag was fought for to free slaves and unite a country.  That flag has represented so much in this world that people are illegally coming here to be protected by it.  So if it means so little to you, leave.

Now you see why I haven't blogged.  I am frustrated, angry and worn out.  I don't believe that destruction and hatred are ever the path to making a good change.  I believe that energy needs to be channeled into good.  That instead of burning, looting and destroying... clean up your community, give to those less fortunate, build up the youth to feel the pride they should have.  Take all that "power" to enact a positive change.  Make a difference... see what happens....

Miss B's family and friends immediately set about making things right at the store.  I am sure that her son and family and friends were furious, but they turned over the video's of the culprits, cleaned it up and went back to doing good in their community.  Because that is what good, honest, caring people do.  That is how you make a difference and enact change.

This week has held too much.  Too much emotionally, physically and mentally.  This week has been overwhelming.

Today they are marching to the capital of Missouri, to demand change.  Newsflash, change starts at home. We've all seen how well that demanded of the government works out for all concerned.  I wish them well on their journey, that no one is killed or injured.  The NAACP is funding it, maybe they should consider that they are more the cause of it... How about if we simply have a national association for the advancement of all people?

I need to stop... I need to go back to baking cookies, checking on my family and friends, I need to lift up prayers to stop this hurt and heal it... I need to not allow it past my door.

I have friends and family of many races, many creeds, and many lifestyles... I love you because you are you and because you are good.  Not for any other reason...

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Heading Home...

Sitting here in the silence, Hubby snoozing softly - a pre-lunch nap, watching the snow coming down outside the hospital window and praying it doesn't stick.  Or maybe praying it does.  Falling on the hospital roof tops it is not nearly as beautiful as on the trees in the backyard.

I have mixed feelings about this week.  I've been sheltered from the chaos that is causing destruction and now death in my adopted city sitting here in this hospital room.  Part of me thankful for not having to go into the city itself away from the highway closings and strife.  My heart is going out to my co-workers and friends that are not that lucky.  Part of me feels like I am neglecting the very people I could be helping.

Right now, at this point in time, I am right where I need to be.  By my husband.

Yesterday was not a good one for him.  He didn't sleep well the night before, the pain too much to handle. As the doc keeps saying he's a big guy and giving him the same treatment as a 100 pound woman is not effective.  He spiked a fever last night, and was awake for a bit of the night, another reason he's sleeping now.

He's doing well all considering, the doctor was quite pleased.  He is very wobbly and to see him so unsure when he walks is difficult.  I know he will sleep better when he gets home and snuggled up in his own bed. Don't we all?


The snow is still coming down, fast and heavy... maybe mother nature is trying to help cool off the heads that are ravaging our town.  Maybe, just maybe the snow and cold will convince them to stop, take a deep breath and realize that what they are doing is solving nothing.  That it isn't changing peoples hearts for the better and it is setting an already ugly situation back to before the civil rights movement.  People are not impressed, they are horrified.

The Thanksgiving Day parade has been cancelled.  They are afraid of violence.  This breaks my heart, I wasn't going to be able to go, but I was going to watch it on television.

I am really tired of all this insanity.  It simply does not make sense... I can only deal with one thing right now and for the moment it needs to be the hubby... and questioning how much fun it isn't going to be getting him in and out of the car and into the house in the snow... Oh my...

Well, I succeeded in getting him out of the car, into the house and into bed.  Whew!  Well actually, my girl and the GB helped me do all of that. I am fairly sure I could have done it myself, but I sure appreciated the extra help.  I was so afraid he was going to fall down the stairs.

Those sweet girls met us with a big bag of ice for the ice pack they sent us home with, it's totally cool and really allows me to keep his leg well iced, without freezing him. And the piece d'resistance strawberry cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory.  I am pretty sure I have already burned the calories from mine running up and down stairs.


I was joking with my girl and told her we should make it a drinking game... ya know a shot for each time up or down.  She cracked up and told me no way... she'd be falling down drunk in 20 minutes.  She's so funny. Actually, it's not that bad, it's just that we need to get into a routine and then it will be just fine.

It wasn't supposed to accumulate snow today... I think I want to become a weather woman, seems you can be wrong most of the time and still get paid. There are several inches on the ground and it's still coming down in big fluffy snowflakes.  Now that I'm home and I have him in bed I am not worried about it.  I sure didn't enjoy driving him home in it, and I really didn't enjoy trying to get him in the house on slightly snow covered sidewalks.  Ugghhh...

Well, he's drifting back to sleep, so I am going to try and get some sleep myself.  I am beyond exhausted from the fun of these past few days.  The stress has been great.  And the nurses are coming at 9:00 am sharp... need to at least tidy the house.  Kind of dropped all his stuff in the doorway when we got home. Like I said... I'm TIRED... I hope everyone is having fun getting ready for the big day tomorrow.  I will host almost all of our kiddo's and the grand kiddo's.  Only one will be missing, and I assure you I will be missing him greatly!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Yesterday...

It's quiet this morning.  There are very few sounds outside, which is remarkable considering the sounds of sirens that filled the air last night.  Inside there is the sound of the boys toenails on the wooden floor, the purr of the kitty and soft sound of the heater warming the house.

Yesterday is a day that will always be remembered in this country.  We are now right up there with Watts, Detroit, New York City and Miami.  There are businesses that a community needed to survive that are gone, forever no doubt, because who wants to rebuild something when idiots will burn it to the ground just because they didn't get their way?

Yesterday...

It was surely a high stress day.  It started out with a very stressed out hubby going in for a major surgery.  It sounds so common place and benign.  Oh... he's going in for a hip replacement, sounds almost like you are going to get a new pair of pants.  They are that common nowadays.

It wasn't.

before it all begins...
Apprehension just grew as the day went on.  His veins did not want to cooperate and kept rolling out of the way, they could not even get an IV started.  Maybe his fears of the day were not so far fetched after all. One ultrasound later they were finally able to locate a vein start an IV and do the spinal block.  While I was waiting out in the waiting room the television announce the Grand Jury had made a decision... One wait was ending, another was starting...

I was able to keep reassuring my drugged, sleepy hubby that he going to be just fine and that even though he was scared it was going to be just fine.  Luckily he doesn't remember any of that, poor guy.  Listening to him made me sad, he knows how to scare me sometimes, evidently even when he is out of it.

As they took him to surgery the doctor smiled that reassuring smile, said he'd see me in an hour and off they went.  Confidence evident in the doctors smile and walk.  I felt strong and positive.  I knew he was in good hands and I didn't need to worry.

I chose the seat in front of the aquarium, watching the gentle motion of the fish always calms me.  I was armed with snacks for lunch since I knew I did not want to leave the waiting room. My yarn and needles to work on a pair of socks, my nook in case I got tired of knitting, and my cell phone with back up batteries.  I was ready to take on that measly little hour surgery. Fully expecting to see him in a couple of hours.  Believing the confident statement.

The news tickers at the bottom of the television screen started talking about the upcoming announcement. The Governor was flying in, they had activated troops from great distances away.  Both the police and national guard. There was fear it would not be received well, wrapped in a cloak of prayers that St. Louis would show the world that we are better than that.

That first hour flew by.  Several inches of sock emerged from my needles.  Causal conversation about knitting with a couple of the folks in the waiting room.  News getting bleaker and more ominous on the television.  Watching the board with numbers... 385331... still the light green of being in surgery...

I should have spoken with the doctor by 1:30 pm, according to him. Taking into consideration that sometimes things take a bit longer I was patient... 2:00 pm, no worries. Around 2:30 pm without any warning the most terrifying feeling overcame me.  I don't know why, I am sort of sensitive to things and it was hard to breathe.  I am far from an irrational person, so a few deep breaths and a more concentrated approach to knitting - although my needles were moving slower at this point.

By 3:00 pm, I was seriously regretting my decision to not make everyone sit around a boring hospital.  The news on the television was bleak and foreboding and it radiated around the waiting room as everyone was fixated on the outcome.  That surgery should have been over by 1:30/2:00 pm at worst case according to the surgeon.  And the only answer available to me was that silly sign that still showed 385331 was still in surgery. I was texting my daughter, trying to stay rational.  In my brain I could hear hubby telling me in his very drugged state that he was not going to make it and that he was sorry.  I was struggling to stay calm and not automatically fear the worst.  Everyone was wanting updates and I had nothing to give. The panic was starting to set in.

I don't like hospitals and have very little trust in doctors of any kind.  Too many bad things have occurred when they shouldn't have... The twins are wanting to come see Dad before the verdict is read, afraid to be on the roads after it has been read... too many promises of violence had the communities that make up St. Louis terrified.  Our own home grown terrorists.

Just as I was sure I was going to lose my mind, just when I couldn't take another moment of waiting at 3:45 pm a very exhausted surgeon, minus the confident air and swagger came out to meet with me.  Hubby was fine. The surgery had ended up being more involved than they expected and his muscular thighs from years of horseback riding and motorcycle's had presented them a few more challenges than expected.  But he was just fine.

As I was soaking up the joy of the moment, the air around me was starting to get that oppressive fear laden atmosphere. The media was building up the moment to the announcement. A community was waiting poised with literal matches, ready to strike the first one.

Night before surgery ice cream treat

Our beautiful grand baby, and her wonderful momma stopped by yesterday morning.  GB wanted to bring her Grandpa some flowers and Snickers before he went to the hospital.  She's lost a lot this year, it's only made her love and compassion deeper.  Those roses and the chocolate bar sure made us both a bit teary eyed.  But nothing was as powerful as the smile that came flying through the door at the hospital.  Eyes bright and expectant at seeing her Grandpa on the road to recovery.  My girl stopped and brought us some dinner, although Hubs was having a pretty amazing one courtesy of the hospital.

They didn't stay long, the impending news from the Grand Jury and the worry about the response was enough to make it not safe.

I was watching the news with hubby and a nurse when the "no bill" was announced.  Driving home a bit later, the sound of sirens echoing in the air... Wondering how much worse tomorrow would be... it's not over.  Far from it.  The family attorney is promising a civil suit, the outside forces are throwing more powder on an already explosive situation.  And an area that for whatever reason has been a racial powder keg appears to have gone up in flames.

In a week that should be filled with family, love and blessings.  A chance to be thankful for all we have, we are left wondering what a new day will bring.  Praying for less violence and more peace.  Praying for rational to overcome irrational.  And wondering how it got this far down the road.

I am heading back to the hospital.  I want to be there with hubby as he starts the therapy that will get him back on that blue Harley with a devil may care look in his eyes.  And I want to beat the folks that shut down the highways last night.  

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The gifts of nature... they come when you need them most...

What a beautiful morning!  Mother Nature has so many gifts for us if we slow down and appreciate them.  


Just a week ago...
I just got back from my walk with the boys.  Oh how I wished I'd had my camera, although using it while holding the leashes of two rather busy boys might have been more than I could handle. 

A week ago, it was bitterly cold and snowing, giant wet snow flakes were rushing to the ground.  It was perfectly beautiful.  Today just one week later it's in the mid-50's and no coat was required.

We took a slightly longer walk that usual, Gator likes the nicer temperature and the fact that while it was wet, it was not raining.  On our way out, we heard it.  There's an owl up the road that shows up some mornings. He's got a deep throaty hoot, the kind that makes you pay attention.  I haven't seen him before, and on our way out, it was so dark that I was only able to catch a glimpse of his outline.  Way up at the top of the highest tree.  

His hoot was quite impressive, not sure if he was warning me and boys off or not, but he had a lot to say all of the sudden. 

I stood waiting for him to move, wanting so much to see him in flight.  Hubby had seen him last time and assured me he had a broad wing span and looked massive.  I gotta say I was sure longing for my camera. We wandered on after a few minutes.  As much as I was enjoying the view, I felt guilty evidently causing him some distress. 

I've never seen an owl outside of the cages at the zoo.  I was truly mesmerized. 

We strolled along for another five or ten minutes, the boys were enjoying the nice temperate  morning.   So was I. 

On our way back I was sad to see the large dark spot had moved on, I'd missed it again.

As we passed the HUGE pine that is in front of the tree he'd been on, I heard it again.  Deep, warning and this time almost echoing.  I listened searching the surrounding trees.  I knew it was there, I just couldn't place it.  Was it in the pine and that is why I couldn't see it?  Or high in that old oak that was holding on to it's leaves?  Turning, ready to surrender the search, even though the sky had lightened and I might be able to see, I started to leave.  I could hear the odd echo to the hoot, not sure what it was, but that was all.  

Suddenly in that tall old oak, silhouetted perfectly against the lightening sky, I saw not one, but two beautiful owls.  They were talking to us as they flew to higher branches.  Not happy with our early morning intrusion as they were getting ready to tuck in for the day (night).  

I had a feeling from the direction of the head with the tufted ears on top that I was being watched.  Snatching my handy little flash light out I searched the branches again.  

Beautiful!  Both of them were there, tufted ears, golden eyes in the light of the flashlight and a soft white downy looking chest.  I am not an owl expert, those two looked like the stereotypical owl, straight from any coloring book or story. 

They weren't fans of my flashlight, looking away and hooting even louder, so I put it away and grudgingly headed down my road.  I wanted to see them spread their pretty wings again.  I wanted to see them in the daylight, which was rapidly approaching.  The boys were ready and tugging to go home for their treats, evidently not as enthralled with the beauty as I was. 

Minutes later I was rushing back out my door, camera in hand, boys in the house.  Maybe, just maybe...

Nope... it was moments too long, they probably flew off as soon as we left.  All that was left was the damp, sad look of an autumn day ready to give it's reign over to winter.  No beautiful colors, a muted sunrise - the kind that simply brings a lighter gray to the cloud cover, and lots of mud.  

It's okay, I needed that.  I looked up what I'd seen.  Looks like it might have been a pair of great horned owls.  So beautiful.  Proof there is still amazing beauty even in the heart of a city.  

Tomorrow is surgery day for the Hubsters... The next few weeks are gonna be a struggle for both of us. They say "if an owl has visited you, an incredible gift has been bestowed. And that animals are only called to those who share the same energy." I chose to believe that means good things for they are called wise and intuitive.  I guess I needed a double dose this morning....

So much to get done today, to make sure the house is ready for him to be able to function once he comes home.  And so that I don't lose my mind sitting around the hospital tomorrow.  I am packing myself a little bag... some knitting to keep me sane, some snacks to keep me fed.  It will be a long day tomorrow.   Today is the day to finish my chores....

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Picture Perfect Day!

Big wet snow flakes are falling... not enough to stay, but plenty to be the perfect end to a day that was as close to perfection as I feel we can get.

A full twenty-four hours of the Grand Baby are enough to make the entire world spin straighter on it's axis.

For the first time since her Daddy went to Heaven she came to spend the night.  Gramma is a bit tired sitting here tonight looking at those big wet snow flakes.  Not exhausted, not mentally tired, not fed up wanting to hide tired.  It's the tired that comes from keeping up with an eight year old that is on a mission.

Sitting here in the silence I am listening to a new version of one of my favorite Christmas Carols, feeling grateful to my Aunt for sharing it.  I am reflecting on the pure joy of having that little cherub tell me that this was the greatest day and that she felt special. I felt special too.  Grampa and I felt loved and blessed to be part of her day.  To help her accomplish her goal.

Her Bubbie is coming home tonight.  He's her youngest step brother, the two of them are darn near inseparable.  They are two peas in a pod.  He's her protector and she is so excited to have him back home. One of her mission's for the day was his welcome home banner.  It's bright, cheery and proclaims an eight year old's love of her brother.  Her joy is returning.


The other piece was a bit more interesting.  She decided she needed to make a scrapbook.  Not just any scrapbook.  She didn't want a photo album.  She wanted something to hold her memories and to tell the story of her life.  She's only eight and she already has very firm idea's about this.

Almost two full hours in Hobby Lobby and she'd found all the supplies she needed.  She'd found her memory book although she still wasn't too happy about those plastic pages they'd put in there.  She needed white corner tabs, beautiful colored papers, a book that had a place for a picture, and it had the word "memory" embroidered on it.  Of course we had to add some stickers and a bling letter A.  I mean after all it needed to reflect her personality.

carefully picking out captions
She was so determined.  It seemed odd.  All for a picture and a ribbon from a race she hadn't wanted to run and had not been thrilled with.  I was struggling to understand where this "new hobby" had come from. Where was this going to lead?

She gave me snippets of hints, it had to be the story of her life.  It had to have stuff that pertained to her life, that she could remember.  I was a bit confused as she slowly peeled back the layers of her story, her reason. And then it became clear.  It wasn't so much the story of her, but the story of her life before this fall.  It was the story of her memories of her Daddy.  She wanted to preserve that.

our scrapbook queen
G-Baby and I have a new hobby as she informed me tonight.  It's scrapbooking.  The gramma that put together 5 years worth yearbooks and swore there would never be a scrapbook of any kind in her life, spent hours helping her sweet girl find all the pictures that she wanted, ran the printer out of ink and listened to her talk about the importance.
This one blurred because of the dogs, but it was too perfect a moment to not include
She'd entrusted Grampa and I with helping her to preserve those memories.  Refusing to take home the left over supplies and telling mom "sorry... this is mine and Gramma's hobby". (Because let's be real I need more hobbies like hole in the head).  She had included us in such a special and sacred endeavor. That book will grow, it will expand to hold more precious memories.  And as she put it "they have to be picture's that mean something to me".  She looked through the photos on Facebook, in mine, mom's, dad's and grampas folders.  She went through with a critical eye and picked the ones that she found to be perfect.

We printed pictures until we ran out of ink.  She was truly on a mission.

The hours of the day quickly slipped by, we were so engrossed in her and laughter and love that surrounds her.  We danced, we ate, we created, we talked.  There was absolutely nothing more priceless.

She talked about her Daddy in heaven and being able to send him text messages, because in heaven you have everything you need so Daddy has a cell phone to get those messages.  We talked about her firm belief that he is around her all the time now, just like the air we breathe.  How that makes her happy.  Not all the conversations were happy, she told me how it made her sad that when he was alive he didn't spend more time with her.  It wasn't whining or with tears, but matter of fact.

That little angel is wise beyond her years.


Once Mommy arrived she found it hard to decide to leave.  Grampa had taken her to get her cell phone fixed today so she was busy catching up.  She had text messages to send and stuff to do.  It felt good to know she wasn't rushing out the door.  That she was finally comfortable being away from Mommy.  It's been a few months.  Although I completely understood her fear and why she wasn't willing to be away, it was heart warming to see that being pushed behind her.

She'd decided to leave a few toys here, she would need them when she comes over again.  She was not willing to leave her memory book though.  That was important.

As I helped her get in the car, bubbly and excited because her bubbie would soon be here she stopped, reached those sweet little arms up and gave me a huge hug.  Then in her grown up little girl way told me. "When Grampa has his surgery, I will be here.  But if I am not here call me.  I will come and take care of him, he needs me".
Me and My girl!
Yep, that angel melts me like butter.  And I needed a super strong dose of her.  The world feels better now, things are less stressful and rocky.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

making sense of it all...

The beauty... 
Hubby's built a raging little fire in the fireplace.  It's full of crackling pine to take the deep chill off this wintry cold fall morning.  18 is not a usual temperature for this time of the year.  We've already done a few chores and are taking a few minutes to sip our coffee and enjoy the warmth.

This week has been full of ups and downs.  I am starting to feel that no one I know has had a remarkable 2014.  Or maybe it is just those here in the metro east.

Hubby had his pre-surgery meeting with the anesthesiologist yesterday.   Just over a week, hard to believe in January he'd started mentioning an occasional stabbing pain in his hip, which our "trusted physician" told him was just bursitis and to basically get over it, to facing a total hip replacement in a week.  Not even a full year later.  And they wonder why I don't trust the medical profession...

Its a common surgery now, he will be up and about before Christmas even arrives.  I've had dear friends dealing with more illness and injury than is imaginable.  Too many either struggling to survive or losing the battles.  It's just been so much...

There have been major car accidents, job losses, family dysfunction. Just so much.

And somehow in the midst of it all, I've seen such powerful goodness.  Maybe that is what has made it so easy to hold it together through it all for so many. Even us.

Friendships have gotten stronger, relationships deeper.  There have been people putting aside themselves and their needs to uplift those around them.

There is chaos here in the Midwest, sadly we've made international news.  Right, wrong or indifferent this will all have to play out.  There are far too many outsiders stoking the fire.  Eventually they will read their "verdict", eventually we will see if the goodness in our neighbors can shine brighter than the hatred of the outsiders trying to use a terrible situation for their own agenda.

I am prayerful that the goodness I have seen this year will allow us to survive this with our families and communities intact.

In the midst of all this I have a dear friend that is dealing with something so unbelievable that I cannot comprehend the devastation in her heart, nor where she will find the strength to survive the battle ahead.  I don't know where she will find it, but I know that she will.

I don't tend to do the "thankful" posts in November.  Each day I thank God for what I am thankful for.  I am thankful for my family, my friends, the people (2 and 4 legged) that I share this crazy little life with.

Last night I was thankful for my beautiful little grand baby spending the night with us.  She and I stayed up for hours, talking, snuggling and watching movies.  My heart melted when she told me that in Heaven you have everything you need, so she was able to send her Daddy a text message telling him that she loved and missed him, and he could see it.  She's 8, just turned 8, that isn't something she should be dealing with. She hadn't spent the night since the night he died.
my heart

When she wakes up we'll have a special breakfast and then probably run a few errands, she's been wanting a scrap book to start saving her treasures in.  She has a picture of her crossing the finish line at a run at school that has motivated this.  I think it's a great idea.

When I watch her simple 8 year old way of dealing with hurt and heart ache, and she still smiles and laughs.  I know that this crazy world can survive.  That there is goodness that will win the day. Her bubby comes home tonight.  She is so excited.  She will have her family all together again.  Both of her big brothers will be back close to protect her and love her and complete her family.

Just a thought... hold your family and friends, your loved ones, close.  Do good, and put good out to the universe for those that may need the extra strength.  Send prayers towards Heaven and be someone else's heart when they need it.  Those are the things that will change our world... all for the better!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Invisibility is NOT a Super Power

And BOOM... over night things change....

The leaves have almost all fallen in the brisk northern winds that blew through over the past few days.  There are a few that are holding on to their splendor.  Those bright reds are always my favorites.

Just like the weather everything changes.  Sunday hit me like a ton of bricks.  Literally.  After nearly 18 years you would think I would finally have a grasp on what is going to make me hurt, sap my energy and literally make me miserable physically, mentally and emotionally.  Or maybe a better statement is you would think I would pay attention to what I know.

I wasn't expecting to wake up Sunday in a full fibro flare. The weather change hadn't been too dramatic, I'd been watching my energy expenditure, making sure to keep processed foods to a minimum, water to a maximum, trying to get enough sleep and frankly I thought I was handling the stress factor pretty amazingly.

Well played life, well played... because evidently the answer is no.

Fibromyalgia is one of those "invisible" illnesses.  I can't tell you how much I absolutely hate that phrase.  Or what it brings to mind.  Yes, I look healthy.  If you look at me you wouldn't realize that I am struggling to process life.  And no I am not looking for sympathy, there is a reason I have this, and I have always tried to learn from it.  I am looking for understanding.  Not for me, but of what it's like to be invisible.

Sunday ended up being a wasted day.  I stopped.  I had to.

All the ironing the day before had fatigued my arms to the point that I was not even able to lift them.  Not without extreme pain and serious concentration.  Oh I can't damage my muscles by making them work, but the struggle of making it happen is mentally and physically exhausting. Just brushing my hair was too much.

My legs have been threatening, walking the boys solo has been taxing the limits.  I knew it.  I've been trying to be careful, that is why I walk them together.  I take it slow, I am cautious.

It ended up not mattering.

Even my hubby, who should know me better than anyone, didn't notice. After climbing the hill repeatedly to help him with a project that he'd decided to tackle (he was medicated) I gave up.  I was cranky and angry.  I was in excruciating pain.  My sensory system over loaded.  And I was mad.

I was mad, because I was "invisible".

99.9% of the time you will not see cracks in my armor. You won't know that the lights blazing all around me are taxing me, are causing my eyes to throb and making me long for dark sunglasses.  You won't know that the constant non-stop noise from all angles is making it almost impossible for me to function.  That it is all overloading me.  Causing every pain sensor in my body to malfunction. I am not going to tell you that the run down a flight of stairs due to an imagined "emergency" (here you can read a case of stupidity) has made me hurt so badly that I am simply longing for my bed.

I've heard folks saying that I wear my clothing too baggy,  it would be more stylish if I wouldn't. Well, that is true, but my skin would never forgive me.  The constant touch of stiff fabrics would be enough to make me stark raving loony.

You won't know that there are times I have to struggle to focus my eyes.  That no matter what that hazy blur is everywhere.

And I haven't even described for you the charming effect of fibro fog.  To have your thoughts get jumbled, to know what you want to say and think and not be able to.  Well, that's a special kind of crazy making there. To know that you need to do something, to have it just out of reach in your brain.  Ugghhh... that is the worst.  People look at you like you are absolutely a moron, without realizing you are doing everything in your power to survive a temporary loss in memory or cognitive ability.  You can read the same sentence over and over and have it make zero sense, when you are the person that wrote that sentence just a day before and completely understood it and what it was directing you to do.  Thank GOD that this only happens to me in extreme flares.  The ones where I haven't paid attention to warning signs.  When I've pushed past my boundaries.

This is probably the most frank I have been in a long time about what it is like to live in my skin.  Hubby saw it when he looked, the medication he is on temporarily wiping out his pain fogged his ability to see.  I hate that he is hurting right now, I am thankful that it is temporary, that they can "fix" it.  Sadly it gives him a window into my life.

I hate that it's invisible.  I hate that people assume it's "pretend" or all in my mind.  Newsflash... it isn't! I've been awake since 3 AM, in unbelievable pain.  I will try to get a nap in, that might allow my brain to go into REM sleep for a bit, that will help.  But other than that... I will simply continue to live my life, because that is how I am.

I do not take medications for it, learned a long time ago that that isn't me, that I can control it better with the things I listed at the top of this.  I know what brought on this flare.   I did.

I did, because I am a people pleaser.  I did, because I am someone that will push myself to insure things don't fail.  I did, because I don't know how to say no.  I did, because I knew that hubby needed extra care right now, but didn't want to disappoint others in my life by slowing down in other areas.  I did, because I have been worried about hubby, my daughter, my grand children, my dear friend and her brother.  I did, because I am me.

I will get a grasp on it, I just need to reevaluate a few things, maybe meet up with a massage therapist, I will get control of it before Hubby has surgery on the 24th.  He will need me strong, I will be strong.

We finally have an answer on his hip.  It isn't one we wanted, and definitely not so soon.  But it is needed. I know there will be stress for both of us.  He is concerned, I am concerned, that leads to stress.  Planning how to deal with his recuperation time, and balancing it out with work demands.  All of it is stressful. All of it can be handled.

This wasn't a plea for sympathy or even empathy.  It was just something I needed to say.  To ask everyone to look beyond smiles, laughter and see the person.  Everyone is hiding something, a perceived weakness or pain.  The good Lord decided I needed humbling, I am sure, so he brought a little tick a long time ago... I try to see deeper, I fail often.  Not every illness or struggle is on the surface.  With sweet hubby you can see it in his eyes, even if the limp and awkward walk doesn't give it away.  You can see the red rims to his eyes screaming out the pain, the new creases from pain etched into his face.  It's easy to recognize.

Are you going to see that I am walking slower?  The dark circles under my eyes?  The fact that my lunch is packed in all easy to manage containers?  That I changed clothes six times this morning to avoid anything that had the remotest possibility of making my skin crawl?  Are you going to see how badly my legs will swell before the night falls?  Will you notice that I am moving back into the shadows a bit more and shutting my doors to avoid noise and chaos? No, because those are invisible.

Who else do you know that is struggling silently?  Invisibly?  I am going to guess that a large majority of the people we all meet each day are struggling.  I ask empathy and compassion.  I ask that we all try to understand and support one another.

I watched a prominent person make a very public announcement about an invisible battle he'd been fighting. I was asked if I thought he was lying.  My answer... no.  I don't know this person, but I understand what he shared and I recognize those invisible battle scars.

Today, I am off with Hubby, celebrating Veteran's Day.  He served as did most of the people in my life and for them I am proud and thankful!  I will use the day to rest.  And take a few baby steps.  Sadly... I need to.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Pressing on...

Love the crispness...
It's one of those super crisp mornings.  The kind that remind you winter is knocking at the door and is only going to be so patient.  The moon isn't full anymore, but that doesn't mean it isn't bright.  Four-thirty in the morning and I was able to see so clearly, probably because of the crisp dew on everything.

Grass crunching, naked trees, every bunny and squirrel moving is a loud scurry.  I love this time of year.

They are saying it will be colder tonight and tomorrow.  The boys weren't willing to walk so far this morning, I think the cold on their little foot pads was a bit shocking for them. Wonder how they are going to like their baths they are getting a bit later today. I am betting both will curl up in front of a fireplace and chill out.

I am going to pull some wood upstairs today, I have a feeling tonight after dinner a nice fire is going to be very welcome.  Warmth for the soul and the body.

I didn't get as much done as I had hoped yesterday.  Although I came to the conclusion that I might have a bit of a hoarder tendency when it comes to fabric, yarns, fibers and any books relating to all of that.

A mouse had gotten into my fabric cabinet during the move.  Being the person I am when it comes to my fabrics I decided the whole mess needed to be washed.  Now, it's highly possible that I did not take into consideration the scope of that project.

Should have been easy to unpack... Should of...

I have been sewing and doing needle work since high school, but conservatively  lets say since before my daughter was born, then the years won't seem so shocking.  There are decades worth of memories tied up in those bits and pieces.   I was a bit brutal with throwing out fabrics that I now know cannot be used for quilting, that being said, the first box is almost finished.  Over six hours of yesterday was spent washing, ironing and sorting.

Simply doesn't look like six full hours does it?

I don't even want to face the fact that I still have at least two more boxes that I am aware of that will need the same tender loving care.  Ugghhhh...

I am feeling like I am never going to get my sewing room together.  I need to at least have a space to work, Christmas is coming and I still haven't finished the items that should be done for other projects.  I am getting ready to commandeer the kitchen island for an indefinite amount of time at this rate.

I have a really hard time throwing away things that I know I can and will use later.  Earlier in the year I got rid of about a hundred cross stitch books, my young cousin needed some and I don't really do much of that anymore.  I love how it looks, but my patience has faded as my eyesight has.  The time commitment is too much in my world.  Even knowing this it was a painful experience.  I remembered how hard it was to gather some of that in the years that I lived "across the pond".

I'll spend today working on it too. After I get home from an early morning grocery run.  Darn critters need food and I hate weekend crowds.  I would rather get up in the morning than deal with hundreds of people all in a very small space.  It just doesn't work for me.

I hope everyone else is having a productive weekend!  Looking at all those stacks it doesn't look like I have really done anything.  I know I have, but it sure doesn't feel like it....


Saturday, November 8, 2014

it's about perspective...

What a week it's been...

Actually what a month or year would be better put...

It's quiet in the house right now, the boys and I just got back from walking and I am savoring my coffee before the busy schedule of the day starts.

I'm tired.  Not physically, that isn't what is wearing on me.  I am mentally and emotionally tired.

2014 has really been a year full of challenges and trials.  And they have been balanced out by extreme blessings and prayers answered.  The mix has me so worn out from the emotional roller coaster that I can't even see straight.

Monday was supposed to finally get things back on track.  After literally months of extreme pain and almost helplessness, they were supposed to be able to get Hubby not hurting again.  After so much, the doctor assured him that drawing out fluid and a cortisone shot into that hip would have him moving much easier. Able to fully participate in life and not just be a pain ridden bystander that was existing on pain medication. Feeling useless and refusing to believe that sitting down and resting instead of forcing himself to help was really okay.

All of that was supposed to end.

Monday didn't quite go as planned.  Seems that in the rush to read the MRI's so they could treat the pain, in the initial look they'd missed something.  They'd determined he has severe osteoarthritis but that it was super early and with treatment, physical therapy and some weight loss to take the pressure off his joints he was years away from a hip replacement.  That was Thursday.

Monday... brought a different story.  By Monday they'd had time to really look at those MRI's study them and get second opinions.  The doctor at the pain management center hated telling Hubs that there was very little he could do for him.  Monday they drew the fluid, gave him the shot and hoped for the best. Monday they told him that years away was a pipe dream, that the deterioration is severe.  And the only solution is replacement.

The best didn't happen.  We go this Monday to meet with the surgeon that will ultimately replace his hip. We don't know how soon, or how long.  We do know that the pain he is in is horrible and unrelenting.  There are days that the stairs in this beautiful home are his worst nightmare.

And I'm just tired.

The stress of it all is wearing on me.  No one wants their loved ones hurting.  No one likes feeling helpless. We are still trying to finish getting settled.  I am only one person.  His ability to help right now is minimal at best.

a get well picture for Grampa

I am celebrating the little accomplishments.  Trying to finish one room at a time.  I keep running into road blocks.  I am frustrated.

I know I am not the only person that struggles with life.  I just want a minute to vent, to sort it all out and start over.

Last night, I should have been working on the house.  I have so many things that I need to finish and my exhausting level isn't allowing it.  I am struggling to keep my own health demons at bay.

My heart and soul were filled with joy last night.  I didn't work on my house.  I reveled in the reason I moved.  My grandson has a bad cold, I offered to make chicken noodle soup, you know that cures everything right?  Initially my daughter said no, but asking him, he wanted it.

I'd already made dinner for Hubs, and we'd enjoyed it in our beautiful dining room.  He'd gotten up to come and eat and helped me make the soup before heading back up to bed.

The smile on his face, on all their faces when Gramma showed up with a big pot of chicken noodle soup, it made the world right.  It made me feel fulfilled and happy.

At my very core I am a nurturer.  I want to take care of my family and loved ones.  I want this more than anything else.

As I walked the boys this morning, I got brave and took them both at the same time, I had time to think and enjoy the beautiful early fall morning.  A soft breeze was blowing, wispy clouds were chasing the stars.   I am finding I am adapting how I do things, because I have to.  In the silence I sent up a prayer to God, a soft request.  I am good with challenges, God doesn't give us anything we can't handle, but Lord can 2015 be a bit heavier on the happy times and a bit lighter on the sad, stressful, challenging ones?



Sunday, November 2, 2014

In my life...

Leaves are swirling outside my windows, there was frost on the ground this morning, and exhaustion was in the air.  My poor ferns are slowly fading away, my petunia's are determined to last a bit longer. There is something about a gray autumn day that just makes me feel like hibernating.

No time for that though, after a great party for the Princess yesterday, and no work getting done here, I needed to catch up.

I am sitting here relaxing for just a few.  It's been a busy morning, I am honestly thankful for that extra hour of sleep.  I evidently needed it, as I slept a full three hours longer than I usually do.

I am putting together some boxes of stuff for the Red Cross this weekend.  They are collecting clothing and household items.  With the move we've uncovered a bit more stuff hanging around, things that had been stashed and we'd forgotten about.  They aren't coming until Wednesday, but I know work will capture me and my time starting tomorrow, and I need to finish unpacking at some point.



My house smells so good this morning, welcoming.  I refuse to let food keep going to waste because I am not home to make use of it.  So... three loaves of banana walnut bread are cooling, right beside the bowl of cinnamon applesauce.  I plan to serve the applesauce with dinner.  We're going to have Jager Schnitzel and spatzel.  I cannot wait! Some brussel sprouts and hot rolls (wish it was brotchen, but I haven't made time to order any of that lately). This fall weather has me craving Germany.


I am getting excited for the Holidays... they are right around the corner.  It's almost time for my son to come home, those two weeks are going to be priceless.  It's been far too long. I have never gone this long without seeing him.  I am so proud of him, but wish he could have followed his dreams and found happiness closer to home.

Does anyone else hate that stores open on Thanksgiving?  I have really been stewing about something since last night, it really made me mad.  I mean seriously mad!   I try really hard to respect other's opinions, even when I don't agree.  It would be a very ugly world if we all agreed about everything.  So when I post things that state my opinion I get really steamed when someone will jump on my page and basically change the whole tenor of the idea to state their thoughts as to why I am wrong.  I will be the first to admit I do not even remotely know everything.  I will also be the first to tell you that my opinions are just that mine.

I posted about my feelings of stores being open on Thanksgiving - okay - let me be clear... I don't believe stores should be open for Easter or Christmas either.  And if you are not a Christian and own a business and want it closed on your major holiday's I am really cool with that too.

I personally feel we have created a very retail based society, and it makes me crazy!!  I know it is my personal opinion.  But it is really asking to much for non-essential businesses to be closed a few times a year to allow for family time?

Do I know that there are hospital workers, first responders and military members that will not have that luxury?  Of course I do.  I spent a lot of years of my life connected to the military.  I've baked lots of cookies and goodies over my lifetime to deliver to those that had to work.

Do I also know there are those without a family to spend those precious days with.  Well yeah!  My own son is too far away to be home for Thanksgiving, this fact alone rips my heart out! And I always invite those that might be alone to my home, I always have.

So when someone feels the need to justify the fact that medical personnel  work those holiday in a post about not going to a retail store on Thanksgiving... well frankly... that annoys me.  I do not even feel those two items should be listed in the same sentence.

My entire point is that I would NOT be going to any stores on Thanksgiving, actually the day after either. My Thanksgiving is spending time with my family.  Soaking up memories and enjoying each of them.  It has nothing to do with shopping.

It has everything to do with the way I feel today, with my house smelling yummy.  With a strong desire to be with my kids and my grand.  It is about family.

It's taking a minute to allow everyone to slow down, it's about allowing people to reconnect.  It's "over the river and through the woods..."

I don't begrudge anyone their opinions, I sure wish that sometimes folks would respect my rights to have one too.  I hate when I am made to feel I need to just delete a post because someone else's need to be snarky. I try to not put drama on my page.  It's mine to do with as I please, and often I just delete something as opposed to allowing that to happen.


I am sorry that I ended up ranting about my feelings.  The reality is that my feelings were swirling as much as those leaves.  They were feeling as dull and dimmed as each one of those naked tree branches.

If you read this far, thank you... your patience with my vent means so much to me.  And if you didn't, well, does it really matter?



It's time to go back to feathering my nest, getting my home and life ready to be part of my family for a long time to come.

p.s. I won't be shopping on Thanksgiving.  And I will be giving thanks for all those essential personnel that will be working...

Saturday, November 1, 2014

And poof...

I was reading a comic this morning, it was Cinderella and her Fairy Godmother... "and at the stroke of midnight... poof Christmas carols will begin..."

We went to sleep last night to a cold Halloween evening, we woke up this morning to winter temperatures and Christmas stuff out at the grocery store.

What? I could be shocked, I could be sad that autumn is rushing away so quickly.  I'm not.

Sitting here by my beautiful fire, looking out the windows at the bright crisp view outside, sipping on the Bloody Mary that hubby made me this morning.

Crackling fire, peace and quiet (now that I have shut off the television that no one was watching), and my beautiful room!  This is my favorite room, it is me. My spinning wheel is in the corner, my favorite chair is here, my ammo boxes, knickknacks and plants.  This room invites me in, it asks me to stay.  Invites me to daydream and think.  It encourages me to just relax.

Last night was the first Halloween hubby and I have ever had with actual trick or treating.  Our cul de sac gets together at one house. With fire pits and munchies, the adults with grown kids hang out and give out candy while those with youngsters take their little ones out.

Halloween has changed so much.  I miss it. I miss the costumed kiddo's knocking on the door, the parents hovering at the end of the walk.  I am fairly sure there were not even 30 kids all night, and I don't count the costumed 8th graders as kids.

I guess in twelve years, society has caused a monumental shift in Halloween. Now it is trunk or treat or private parties.  Stores offering candy to keep the kids from outside.  Have we really become such a horrible society that parents are afraid to let their children trick or treat?  Has it become more about adults that kids?
Around seven we gave up.  Not only do we not know our neighbors, many of them weren't even inclined to speak to us.  Seems most of them have lived here since these houses were built almost 20 years ago, they have their own little group and we are the new kids.  Wow, thought those feelings and attitudes had gone away when I grew up and was no longer always the new kid in school.

I'd wanted to trick or treat with my girls, but couldn't get away from work, as the other directors had all left early to spend time with their families.  Lost opportunity.   Halloween has always been something they celebrated together, Mom, Dad and baby girl.  I know they were fine, but... Oh well, I know they had a blast with their friends that they have spent almost every Halloween of the grand baby's life.  This is her buddy since birth, they are only a few months apart in age.

My boy is so far away.  It was making me so sad.  Until he posted a picture of him in his costume and the treats his sweet girlfriend made him.  I don't know her, I've only gotten to talk to her on Facebook.  But the picture he sent me later in the day with both of them smiling and happy... Oh she has won me over!  Any woman that can make my boy look that happy is pretty darn special!

It ended up okay.  Hubby and I went out and had sushi... yum!  Never would have thought they had sushi without raw fish... I love vegetable sushi.  It was more like a traditional Halloween for us.  Our old house, no trick or treating ever happened.  No sidewalk, major road, following me?

I won't have my expectations so high next year.  I won't be disappointed that it isn't like my memories.  Just for the record, military communities know how to celebrate holidays.

Here is it November, tonight we will help our girl throw the baby girl a great Halloween bash.  Hopefully the kids will show up, she's had such a rough few months.  I want to see her laughing and being the life of the party, just like her mom.  I want her sparkle to be there.

In the meantime, I am going to work on my house.  I want all the rooms to be as warm and welcoming as this particular space.  My room.  This weekend, I am going to tackle my sewing room and start on the bedroom.  I love the fireplace up there.  And it looks so lonely, that room is naked.

Hubby is hopefully getting his hip fixed on Monday, so the days of me being solo on so much will soon be over.  I am prayerful, this will be the fix.  That the drugged, painful existence he's been dealing with will soon be a normal life again.

For a minute, it's time to savor life.  To sip my drink, to bask in the dying embers, and enjoy the leaves dancing in the breeze as they fall to the ground.  It's time to plan, to think and to just be.  I don't seem to be making enough time for that lately, I need to change it up a bit...