Laugh or Cry

That is what I keep telling myself as I continue to work through the challenges my family has been dealing with over the past month. This past week I’ve spent the majority of my time driving to and from my daughter, Shantel’s, school, doctor’s appointments, pharmacy’s etc. etc. etc… As a result of all the appointments, I had to switch my normal days of visiting my mother at the care center where she lives. I called the duty nurse and asked if she would please let my mother know that due to the many appointments consuming my time,  I would come to visit my mother on Friday, and that I would be there early because I had another appointment around 11:00 Friday morning.  The nurse communicated the information to my mother, but my mother kept forgetting what day I was coming so she called me everyday wanting to know why I hadn’t come, and when I would be there…?

Yesterday my mother called me and said it was urgent that she see me, and asked me to bring her a bag of depends when I come to visit today, Friday. I asked her if she was sure she needed them because I just brought her a new pack last week, and at that time she had two packages of unopened depends on her table. She insisted she needed them so today I took her another package only to find a full unopened package sitting right where I left them for her last week. However, as I was visiting with mom, I noticed a large bruise on the top of her right hand, and a smaller, but still good size bruise on her left hand. I asked her what happened to her hands and she told me an Aid, that was new, gave her a shower and was pushing so hard on her skin that she told her she was hurting her but the Aid said “I’m not hurting you” and just kept scrubbing. My mother said she reported it to the duty nurse who was supposed to be taking it up with the Director of Nursing. I immediately went to speak to the Director of Nursing myself. The Director of Nursing told me she just found out about the incident herself and she is investigating it. I let her know I want the person that caused the bruises on my mother to be removed from caring for my mother and said in fact, I thought she should be fired as I considered it abuse, especially when my mother told her several times she was hurting her. It is under investigation as I type this, and I will be called later today with the results.

So, with that taken care of, I proceeded to try to continue visiting with my mother. I asked her if she went to Wal-Mart with the other residents last Friday and she said “yes, I bought a pair of pajamas.” She wanted me to see them and told me to look in her closet. I found the pajamas and was very surprised at how small they were. I asked my mother if she was sure she could fit into them? She said “yes, I’ve already had them on twice and everyone said they were just made for me.” I looked at the tag and saw they were a size 11 junior.” There is no way my mother could ever fit into a size 11 junior. She wears a woman size 16-18. But, she insisted she can wear them so I just let it be… I tried to find other topics to talk about, but, she was very distracted, and said she wanted to go to her exercise session which takes about 45 minutes. I reminded my mother I had to leave by 10:00 because I had another appointment I needed to go to today… my mother just looked up at me and said “BYE”. So I took her to the exercise room, hugged her, said good-bye, and came back home after spending a total of 20 minutes at the care center… I guess it wasn’t that “urgent’ for her to see me today after all…

I swear, sometimes it is all I can do to keep my wits about me in the midst of all the craziness around me, and I often find myself thinking “what in the hell did I ever do to get selected to be the gate-keeper for all this craziness…?? Then, I realize I have two choices…, either laugh or cry about it…

With a little help from my family, friends, and a little yellow-tail, I believe I will just keep trying to find humor in it all, and choose to LAUGH... 🙂

Stay tuned!

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Strong Support System

Our daughter, Shantel, is in her final semester at South Mountain Community College (SMCC). She will graduate in May, then transfer to Grand Canyon University, a dream she has been following since she was a sophomore in High School. Over the past three years, Shantel developed a very good relationship with the Disability Services Department at SMCC, and has received excellent support from them. They have really done a great job of making sure her text books were scanned and sent to her electronically,  so she could access the information on her phone. In addition, a note taker was assigned to her classes to take notes from class lectures, because Shantel can’t listen to the instructor and the voice over on her phone at the same time. And if the instructor was writing information on the board, Shantel needed someone to capture that information in the lecture notes as well. For the past thee years, all class notes were done as a Word Document and sent to Shantel as an email attachment… All of that has been provided, without fail, for the last three years.

However, now, due to reduction in staffing, or at least that is what Shantel has been told, all of a sudden, the Manager of Disability Services, who nurtured the great relationship with Shantel, and who also met several time with me over the past three years, and has always said she so admires what a “strong support system” Shantel has at home… is using that “strong support system” to excuse herself from doing her job. Plain and simple in my opinion. When the going got tough, she bailed…

I’m going to share with you what we were told and let you decide for yourself…

This semester Shantel is taking Accounting III, Biology 201 (with lab), and Psychology Statistics.

This past week the assigned note taker in her Accounting class showed up and took notes for Shantel…This is what was given to Shantel at the end of class.

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Yep, that’s right, six pages of hand written notes given to a totally blind student… ARE YOU KIDDING ME???

When Shantel met with the Manager of Disability Services to let her know she needs these notes typed into a word document and emailed to her as an attachment…she was told  “since you have such a strong support system at home… your mom can read these notes to you and help you with the assignments... Here we go again… let me translate for you what I have learned over the years a  “strong support system at home really means… you are now a short timer at SMCC, and we don’t have the resources to support you, so we are going to DUMP all this on your mom, because we know she will not let  you down this close to earning your degree…!!!

I was OUTRAGED to say the least. I mean, who in today’s world of technology can’t supply the note taker with a laptop so they can type the notes into a word document and send them to Shantel as an email attachment so she can access the information from her phone, and the voice over will read the notes to her, and she can access the information over and over again as needed until the test…? But, no, they sent the six pages of notes home to me to read to Shantel… Well, I  got up very early the next morning, and typed the hand written notes into a word document and sent them to Shantel as an email attachment… She received them and has been reviewing them all weekend… If I can do that for her, why can’t they…?

Then, to add salt to the open wound, she also was given the assignment  to have read chapter one of her Accounting III book, which hasn’t been scanned yet… So guess who they said could read 40 pages of that to her over the weekend??? Yep, that would be me… the “strong support system at home…” Now, don’t get me wrong. I will do anything to help Shantel, but this is ridiculous… At this point, I honestly believe they have checked out on her, and know that I won’t. So now the new “dump on your mom phrase has become YOU HAVE SUCH A STRONG SUPPORT SYSTEM AT HOME… I asked Shantel what she thought when they said that to her and she said the same thing… they are short-staffed, so it’s OK to dump this on my mom…

Again, I will do ANYTHING to help Shantel. That said, please know, I NEVER, EVER, liked math, or anything to do with reporting numbers…. so what part of reading 40 pages of this do you think I’m excited about???

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OMG, it’s all about numbers, and creating statistics tables…. OK, yes, I was a Manager of three departments at one point in my Corporate America Career… but anyone who knew me knew I HATED anything to do with budget, or statistics… HATED it, and was soooooooooo glad that budget only came around once a year.

I welcome your comments and always appreciate your support…

Stay Tuned!

Oh Rats

As I mentioned in my past post, our family has been dealing with a difficult challenge for the past month, and we are still very much in the middle of getting things under control and back to “normal” or at least back to whatever our “normal” is…. And, because I was asked not to blog about the details of the situation which was all-consuming of my time, energy, and emotions…I found it easier not to blog at all this past week.

However, over the past week, I did a lot of praying, self talks, long walks, and trusting that everything will work out to a positive outcome as I know it will…. and, I continued to look for something, other than our challenge to blog about so here it is…

Our daughter, Shantel, is taking Biology 201 this semester, which is Human Anatomy & Physiology. She really wasn’t looking forward to this class in the beginning. However, she really likes the Professor, Dr. Spencer. She said he is really great about getting your attention and keeping you interested throughout the entire lecture and lab which is a total of 2 1/2 hours every Tuesday and Thursday.

On day one of the biology lab, the class was divided into groups. Shantel is in a group with three other students. The first assignment was to chop up squash as a way to help the students learn the biology terms, and how to use the tools used when they advanced to actually dissecting RATS, which happened in the very second lab.

Since Shantel is blind, she said she and the group all very quickly decided Shantel would not be the one using the scalpel… good decision on their part I think. But that did not mean Shantel would not have every other opportunity to fully participate in the lab experience.

Each group was given one rat and told to “pin it down so it wouldn’t move around” which quickly struck panic in one girl who said “OMG, you mean they are alive…”  Shantel said the whole class erupted into laughter at that. Dr. Spencer pointed out that no, they were not alive, but if you don’t pin them down on the tray, they will slide around when you are cutting into them…

So, once the class was back under control, the dissecting began. Shantel said Dr. Spencer insisted she hold the heart of the rat her group dissected, and that she touch the liver.

One group had a rat that was pregnant and that group had to take the unborn baby rats out of the mother. Then, Dr. Spencer had Shantel hold one of the unborn baby rats.. I asked Shantel how big the unborn baby rat was and she said about an inch long including the placenta that was still attached and hanging off the tail.. oh my!!! I wish I had a picture of that…

Now, for those of you who may not know, Shantel has REAL issues touching things she thinks might not be clean. She won’t even touch raw meat when we are cooking together, not even if she has gloves on… So for her to hold the heart, touch the liver, and hold an unborn baby rat was a HUGE achievement for her. HUGE!!

I asked Shantel what she was thinking while she was touching the heart, liver and unborn baby rat. She said “all I could think of was putting it down” She said she thought the whole experience was gross! I’m sure she did. But the main thing is she did it, and that is something to be very proud of. She didn’t let her fear get in the way of fully participating in the assignment. She knows she has to pass this class to earn her degree and graduate in May so she can move on to her next goal of attending Grand Canyon University in the fall.

I reminded Shantel that overcoming a fear is sometimes just a matter of changing your thoughts. It’s been said when you change your thoughts, you change your world… If we could all just remember that, and do it, we might not find ourselves thinking “Oh RATS!!!

Have a GREAT weekend.

Stay Tuned!

Finding Calm

When I find myself dealing with stressful situations, which of course we all know rarely happens around my house…. but when they do… and I need to relax, calm, or center myself from what is outside my control, I have a wide variety of things I enjoy doing that work well for me.

I love spending time in church or our Adoration Chapel. I love to go for long walks and do so almost everyday. I find reading or going out to a movie very relaxing. And one of my main go to activities that helps me relax is cooking. This past week, was a bit unsettling, and I spent a good deal of time cooking a variety of meals. Here is one of my family’s favorite comfort foods that is healthy and easy to make.

Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie. Yum!!!

Ingredients:

Several large sweet potatoes (depending on how much you want to make)

Several Red Skin or Yukon Gold potatoes (I used Red Skin this time, again depending on how much you want to make)

1/4 (ish) cup fat-free milk or fat-free half and half (I used the half and half)

Salt & Pepper to taste (I used no salt seasoning and pepper)

Olive Oil

Fresh onion and fresh garlic chopped

A couple fresh carrots diced or chopped (I had baby carrots so I just chopped them up)

Ground meat (I used ground turkey)

Fresh thyme chopped (I like fresh thyme so I use a lot. If you don’t like it you can use rosemary, or any other herb you love, or skip this step…there is on right or wrong in cooking, it’s whatever makes you happy…)

2-3 tablespoons flour

1 1/4 (ish) cups of chicken or beef stock or broth (even though I used ground turkey, I used reduced sodium beef broth because I like the richness it gives to the dish. Makes it taste like you used beef instead of turkey..)

1/4 (ish) cup tomato paste

Peel sweet potato’s and cut into cubes. I washed the red potatoes and cubed them with skins on because I need all the fiber I can get, but you can peel them if you have a mind too. Put sweet potato’s and red or Yukon potato’s in a pan of water, bring to boil, and cook until potatoes are fork tender.

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Chop onion and garlic

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Chop or dice carrots

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Brown onion, garlic and carrots in olive oil then remove from pan and set aside.

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Brown the ground meat then add carrots, onion, garlic back into the pan. Add salt and pepper to taste, then add in flour and stir to ensure flour gets completely mixed into the meat mixture.

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Dice fresh thyme and add to meat mixture

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Add beef or chicken broth or stock

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Add tomato paste

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Bring the meat mixture with the tomato paste, beef or chicken stock/broth and thyme to a boil, then reduce to simmer until mixture begins to thicken.

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Spray an oven proof dish with cooking spray then add the meat mixture in the bottom of the dish. Mash the potatoes using the fat-free milk or fat-free half and half, then spread the potatoes over the meat mixture.

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You can run a fork over the top just to create a little design, or not…

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Bake in 350 degree oven until everything is heated through. I forgot to get a photo of this dish when it came out of the oven, or when I served it, but just know it was beautiful and is the perfect comfort food…it’s the good without all the bad… 🙂

Enjoy!

Cooks Note: You can add cheese on top about half way through the heating process but keep in mind the more cheese you add the more fat you are adding too… If I add cheese, I use reduced fat cheese.

Stay Tuned!

Check

Hair deep conditioned and cut: CHECK. I sure wish I had thick curly hair like that… 🙂

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Nails filled and painted a pretty blue with one finger on each hand painted clear with a flower design on it: CHECK

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School books bought and being scanned so Shantel can read them on her computer or phone: CHECK

Must be time for Shantel to start back to her college classes on Monday, after the holiday break… CHECK

Shantel and I spent Thursday at the college practicing her routes to and from each of her classes. She never ceases to amaze me by how quickly she can memorize the paths she needs to take. We only needed one day for her to commit to memory where each of her classes are. This semester she is taking:

Accounting Principles

Human Anatomy & Physiology,  with the laboratory

Introduction to Statistics

This is Shantel’s last semester at South Mountain Community College. She will receive her AA in psychology in May, then transfer to Grand Canyon University in the fall of 2014 to earn her BS in Health Care Administration. We are so very proud of her and all she has accomplished. Great Job Shantel, GREAT JOB!!!

Update: Shantel is also still in the process of finding a house to share with two other girls. If they find a house they can all agree on, in the right part of town that will make travel to and from school/jobs convenient for all of them, and the price is right, and the stars all line up just right, they will all be roommates in February or March. However, in the event the roommate situation falls through, Shantel said she still wants to move out and into an apartment of her own. If that comes to pass, my husband, Bill, and I, will do all we can to help her move into her new apartment or house that will be convenient for her and in a safe area of town. This, of course is a BIG transition for our family. Of course, as her mother, I will miss her and worry about her…. And, I will need to adjust my life to fill in the hours I’ve spent with Shantel… But, at the same time, and as I choke on my own words…, in my heart, I know it is time for Shantel to leave our home and make a life of her own.

Yes, I do feel the pains of the impending  empty nest, AGAIN. And, yes, I will deal with it AGAIN, just like I did the first time my nest was empty when my Katie left home… I will give myself permission to feel whatever I need to feel, for as long as I need to feel it.., Then, I will start a new phase of my own life with the love of my life, my husband, Bill. A life full of doing what makes us happy. If all goes well, Bill  (and I) will be able to retire within the next 3-4 yrs. And, believe me…we have no problem knowing how to entertain ourselves and finding things to do that make us happy. One thing we made very sure of was to not lose sight of who we are as a couple over the years, so when the day comes that we find ourselves spending 24/7 together, we won’t have to start all over finding ourselves… That’s why I LOVE my Bill so very much… We started this life together in love, and shared all the joy and sorrow it gave us… And, we will end it together in love with all the joy and sorrow that is yet to come…  That is what life is all about in my book…. accepting the good with the bad, the joy and the pain, and knowing in the end…. it all balances out… 🙂

Stay Tuned!

It All Started

When our daughter, Shantel, wanted the upgrade from her 4S iPhone to the newer 5C iPhone which she heard was all the rave from her friends who have the 5C iPhone…

The past few weeks have been very rough as we have been dealing with some scary issues at our house with family members not feeling well which required many trips to the doctor’s office etc. and is why I haven’t had time to post any blogs lately. Special thanks to all my readers who noticed I hadn’t posted in a while and sent me messages asking if everything was OK. That means the world to me and  I so appreciate it as I love my blog and if I don’t post at least a couple of times a week…usually it is because something is keeping me from it…Long story short, things are starting to get back to “our” normal now which I’m never really sure is the “real” normal at all… However, I have to admit the issues of the past few weeks made this new issue seem like a day at the park…

My husband, Bill and I took Shantel to the Verizon Kiosk at the Mall this past weekend to get her upgraded 5C iPhone. After receiving the new phone, Shantel went across the mall and sold her old 4S iPhone to Game Stop for cash. All was good and we went home…

Once home, Shantel had Bill help get her Apps and music on her new phone, then she tried her new phone out. After spending some time navigating through her different apps and such, Shantel decided she didn’t like the new phone because of the quality of the voice over, which is an access ability feature in every apple product that allows her to use her phone as a sighted person would. The phone speaks to her, and when she uses the phone for doing school work it also reads the information on the screen just like her computer does… Shantel said she couldn’t use the App store, iTunes, or Safari (internet) on the new phone. She said she was going to ask us to take her back to the Verizon Kiosk the next day to return the phone and get another 4S phone like she had before the upgrade. Verizon said she had 14 days to return the phone if for any reason she didn’t like it. So, she put her new phone on the kitchen counter, where she always charges her phone, and left it to charge for one hour and went to her room. By now it was 10:00 p.m. and Bill and I were already in bed for the night…or so I thought..

When Shantel went back to the kitchen an hour later, now 11:00 p.m. she found lots of water all over the kitchen floor.  She said she walked through the water on the floor to the kitchen counter where she had her new phone charging, and found the new phone lying in a pool of water on the kitchen counter. The new phone was dead by drowning…

Shantel came and woke me up and told me there was something happening in the kitchen and I needed to come and see what it was. I got up and went to the kitchen only to find at least a half-inch of water all over the floor and equally as much on the kitchen counters. However there was no water running from anywhere… I looked under the sink for a broken pipe but all was dry. I looked everywhere for any clue of how so much water got all over the counters and the floor but I found nothing wrong… I believe Shantel washed her hands at the kitchen sink but didn’t turn the water off all the way (by accident) and the faucet was turned completely towards the backsplash and must have run for the hour Shantel had her phone on charge… That would at least be an explanation of how so much water got on the counters and floor when still as of this writing it has not happened again… However, Shantel said she didn’t wash her hands in the kitchen that night but I can’t find any other explanation that fits… Either way it was a rude awaking in the middle of the night and a real mess for me to clean up… And, once Shantel did her part to get me up…she asked if she could go back to bed… So while Shantel and Bill (he had to work the next day) slept, I got to  mop up the kitchen… 🙂

The next day, Bill called the insurance Shantel purchased when she bought her old phone, and which transferred over to the new phone, and they said the phone was covered for water damage. However, there was a $170.00 deductible, which Shantel agreed to pay to have the phone replaced…

When Bill got home from work on Monday, he took Shantel to a Verizon store (not a Kiosk). They were told they couldn’t help them because the phone was purchased at the Kiosk and not a “real” Verizon store… Who Knew???

So, Bill and Shantel drove all the way back to the Mall Kiosk, and were told they needed to set up a claim with the insurance company first and have them send a new phone to replace the one that was dead. Since Shantel already knew she didn’t like the quality of the voice over, and she had already called Apple about it and was told they knew about the problem but wasn’t going to correct the problem until the next upgraded phone comes out…, the Mall Kiosk sales person told Bill and Shantel they could return the new replacement phone from the insurance company for the 4S iPhone like the one she had before this whole nightmare started…

We paid the $170.00 deductible and sent the broken phone to the insurance company. They sent out a new replacement phone via next day delivery.

Today, Shantel and I took the new replacement phone to the Mall Verizon Kiosk, and as just as I suspected… no one knew anything about anything we were talking about because the sales person that told Bill to bring the new replacement phone in and they would make the exchange for the 4S iPhone like Shantel had before was not a manager with authority to tell them that and was not even on duty today… So, I asked to speak to a manager who just happened to be on duty and was not happy about helping us at all… She first tried to say she couldn’t help us because the new replacement phone has a different model number so they couldn’t “fit” it back into their inventory… Are you kidding me??? I insisted she call her district manager which she reluctantly did and they had to have her call someone in a high position at the Corporate Office who after a VERY, VERY, long wait finally agreed to give approval for the exchange…

So, we had to leave the new replacement phone from the insurance company with the manager at the Mall Kiosk so she can send it back to the insurance company when the new exchange 4S iPhone hopefully arrives via next day delivery tomorrow at the Mall Kiosk where Bill can pick it up after he gets off work since it is just around the corner from his job…

Lesson learned… We will NEVER, EVER, do business with a Mall Kiosk again…EVER!!!

Stay Tuned!

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