I spent the summer rehabbing my back. It has been a longer recovery than I ever anticipated. I am doing much better, except for the muscle spasms. They have become much less frequent, and I mainly only have issues when I lay down or try to get up. If I am up and moving, I am fine.
August was a rough month for me. My father was diagnosed with cancer. Due to some confusion over treatment facilities, doctors, etc., he didn't get a clear treatment plan until last week, but it is one he is comfortable with, so I'm grateful for that. He will be undergoing 8 weeks of radiation, beginning at the end of October.
For someone who craves routine, security, and calm, this news really shook me to the core. I've felt somewhat adrift lately. I loathe that feeling. In addition, Mr. C has been dealing with some stressful projects/clients/contractors at work, and has been gone a lot.
This news has also caused me to struggle with religion. Not my FAITH - my religion. I converted to Mr. C's church after we married. After all he had done for me and the boys, it was really the only thing he requested of me. But this has been an ongoing issue for me - it is not easy to make a change like that. I've thought of returning to my church several times through the years, but every time I'd bring it up, Mr. Cwould become upset. After my father's diagnosis, I once again began to feel the pull to return to my former religion. Mr. C has been gone so much, and when he has been home he has been stressed, so I haven't been able to talk with him until last night. I was afraid he'd be upset with me, but he wasn't. It is amazing how much we grow and change through the years, isn't it? It still isn't an option for me, but at least he was able to talk with me about everything, and was very supportive. Somehow we always manage to come to a compromise on this issue.
And to top everything off, the kidlets went back to school at the end of August. Those who know me well, know this is always a sad time for me. I wish I could homeschool. Mr. C says he loves me very much, but patience is not my gift, so homeschooling would be frustrating for all of us. They are both doing well in their classes, and Brendan had adjusted easily to High School.
With the return of school, came the opportunity for Bren to join the HS golf team. He did quite well, and will receive his Varsity letter this Wednesday evening. He played in a couple of JV tournaments, and three varsity tournaments. He improved so much this summer! Now he just needs to gain some muscle weight, and he'll be able to drive it further, which will help his scores even more. One of the senior teammates is going to start a weight program with Bren during the offseason so he will be ready for spring golf. All in all, it was a wonderful experience for him. The older kids were wonderful with him, and really made him feel comfortable. Bren has been trying out new clubs for months, and found a set yesterday. It will possibly be a Christmas gift - boy are clubs pricey! He wants Titleist AP2. Ouch. It is times like this that I wish I was still working. That 2nd income would come in handy right now. :)
Katie decided to run for Student Council this year. At our school, they only allow 4-6 grades to participate, so this was her first year of eligibility. She ran a great campaign, and was not only elected to represent her classroom, but she was also voted in to be the Secretary of the Student Council! She amazes us with her drive and confidence. Neither of us knows where she got it, but we're grateful she is such a joyful girl.
Our 20th Anniversary is next month. We decided that sometime in the next year or so, we're going to renew our vows. Actually, Katie decided it for us. She was looking through our wedding album, and noticed Marc and Sean were there, but she and Brendan were excluded. Even the fact that they hadn't been born didn't comfort her. She felt it was unfair, so she and Mr. C came up with the idea of us renewing our vows so the two younger kids can share in the joy. So....I'm trying to work out and lose weight so Katie can help me select a gown (she has appointed herself "wedding planner"). Mr. C and I have been looking at new rings, and I believe we found some we love. We just now need to pin down a date, and decide where we'd like this to happen. We're debating between Cheyenne and Santa Barbara. I'd love to do it on the beach in Santa Barbara, but getting everyone there may be an issue. If it proves difficult, we'll just do it here in town.
And that is pretty much the summary of the past 3-1/2 months. Life is good. We've been blessed. And we're grateful.
Just wanted to give an update. The back is still having a lot of spasms, and I found out this could last for quite some time. I try to get all of the important things done in the morning, so I can take a muscle relaxer in the afternoon (when it really gets bad). The pre-surgery pain is gone, except for the spasms, so this is a major improvement. I still can't do much around the house, so the rest of the family is picking up the slack.
The kids are busy. Bren hits the golf course every single day. He likes to get there early and stay until they kick him out so they can close. He has found his passion. He shot an 82 a couple of weeks ago. He is hoping to continue improving throughout the summer.
Katie spent the first two weeks of summer in Religious Ed classes. She is now participating in swim team and golf. She wanted to do tennis again this summer, but we couldn't get the schedule worked out to fit it all in. I think I'm going to put her in the City's tennis program this winter. It will keep her active, and give her the chance to play and prep for next summer.
Mr. C is busy at work. This seems like a broken record, doesn't it? I'm just grateful he is less busy than he was last year at this time, and the year before at this time... He is running when he gets a chance. He takes Bella when he can, but she really got out of shape this past winter, so he takes her for a run, brings her home, then goes back out to finish up. She loves to go, and her endurance is increasing all the time.
Brendan leaves for a week-long faith-building retreat at Notre Dame next weekend. He is so excited to go. He loves ND and has aspirations of attending school there. But his parents have aspirations of retiring at some point in our lives, so this isn't an option for him.
I still need to post pics of Brendan's 8th Grade Promotion dance. He had a wonderful evening, and he looked incredibly handsome in his tux. I am hoping to get some pics posted to my FB page this week.
2014 has already been a crazy year. I don't even know where to begin - so much has happened since my last post.
In January, Mr. C received three unsolicited job offers. He had been working very long hours for the past few years, and we knew he needed to change something. The offers were tempting, and he had decided to accept one of them, so he went in to speak with a couple of the partners, to let them know he was considering taking another position. They asked him if he would give them a chance to discuss it with him the following week. They have been really good to him since before he began working there, and he felt he owed it to them to reconsider. They met, and discussed the changes he needed to make, and in the end, he decided to stay where he is. We feel so blessed that he works for such a great company. We were truly humbled by the way they treated him during the process.
During this same time, my back began causing me a lot of problems.
Back story: I've had two herniated discs for 18 years. I have lived with constant pain, and periods of time where it would go out on me, leaving me flat on my back for weeks.
Last fall I noticed the pain was getting a bit worse. I prayed that it would hold out for our vacation at Christmas, and it did. It hurt while I was gone, but it was livable. About a week after our return from Santa Barbara, it was so bad I ended up in bed with excruciating pain. What I didn't tell many people was that I have been in bed most of the time since then. I would do the things that HAD to be done, then go back to bed.
I went to a local neurosurgeon, and began a series of treatments (Physical Therapy, spinal injections, etc.). The situation deteriorated so much that I couldn't walk without limping, my right leg was numb, and my PT eval showed I had only 50% of the strength of the opposite leg. At the end of April, I went back to the neuro and he told me I needed to have a two-level spinal fusion (L4/L5 and L5/S1). I was not at all pleased.
Eighteen years ago, my only option was spinal fusion, so the neuro told me to put it off as long as possible, in hopes that technology would improve enough to offer me other options. Mr. C and I were hoping I could go for at least 5 years, and I made it 18! It was not an easy process, and there were a couple of times we were afraid I'd have to cave in and have the surgery, but I somehow made it through. So, to have this doctor tell me my only option was fusion was a bit disheartening. I decided to seek a second opinion. I knew there were other options available, but wasn't sure I would qualify for them, but I felt it was worth a shot. So, I found a neurosurgeon in Ft. Collins (he came highly recommended by several people), and was pleased to hear that he strongly believed the fusion was not the best option for my case. He recommended a Laminectomy and Micro-Discectomy (the same surgery Tiger Woods had in March), and I had surgery on May 15.
The surgery went very well. By the next morning, the limp was completely gone. During the procedure, they had to cut my muscles, so I am having a lot of muscle spasms, so I'm on meds for the next couple of months to help with that. The more the muscles spasm, the longer it will take to heal because the muscles are sewn back together using three layers of stitches.
The recovery is a bit longer than I'd like, but I don't want to run the risk of re-injury, so I am following dr.'s orders. Mr. C is exhausted. He is working full-time, handling all the household tasks, and taking care of the kidlets. I feel bad that I can't do more to help.
Now, summer is upon us! School gets out for summer on Friday! Brendan and Katie are excited to have warm weather, no classes, and lots of activities. Golf begins next week, so do tennis and swim team. They have already been informed that there will be more chores for each of them than they are used to, and those chores will come before any activities. Anything to give Mr. C a bit of a break. I can't vacuum or change bed linens for three months! No mopping or sweeping, no laundry, no cleaning bathrooms, etc.
I do have some GREAT news: Mr. C let me get another dog! There was a little pug at the Rescue where we adopted Bella. She was a "senior" dog, and her owner had passed away so she ended up in the shelter. When nobody wanted to adopt her due to her old age, she was allowed to go to Rescue, and I fond her. It took a lot of talking (I.E.: Begging), but he finally relented and let me get her. Her name is Sadie and I simply adore her. Bella is getting more used to her, but it hasn't been an easy adjustment for her.
Well, I'd better get to bed. My pain meds are kicking in and I'm falling asleep as I type. I will make it a point to post more regularly, and hopefully ad more pictures, too.
It has been 7 months since I was last here. That seems so unreal to me. I think Facebook has allowed me to keep the extended family updated on our lives, so I forget to record things here. I use my blog as a journaling tool for future reference for myself, and my children. I need to be better about updating.
2013 was a crazy-busy year. So much happened, both good and bad. We learned many lessons, both painful and not-so-painful. Here are the top 10 Lessons of 2013:
Lesson One: Most people are "looking out for #1". It does not matter how long you've known a person, worked with (or for) someone, or are related through blood or marriage, their word is worth the paper on which it is written. Trust no one. We have been misled, lied to, and treated with complete disregard by several people we had trusted this past year. It was a painful lesson to us, but one that brought much needed awareness that not everyone has the same values and morals.
Lesson Two: Do not delay doing fun things with your children. I spent the entire summer postponing activities because Mr. C was busy. He assured me things would ease up the next week, or the next month. They did not. I missed my nephew's wedding (it involved travel and I wasn't comfortable doing that alone). I put off a trip to Utah to see the older boys and our grandson because Mr. C wanted to go, but ultimately was unable due to work. I barely saw him at all this past summer. He has been swamped for the last year and a half. My life has been on hold during this entire time. I need to just make plans and follow through, even if he can't join us.
Lesson Three: When you have adversity, you find out who your friends are (and those who are not). We have always been surprised by the curve balls life throws at us, but we have been even more stunned at the response of those around us. The people we thought would be there, were not. The people we didn't expect to be there, were.
Lesson Four: Stop living for everyone else. We mothers, especially, need to remember that we had a life before marriage and children. We need to feed our own spirits, or we have nothing left to share with those around us. This is one I really need to work on. I know I need to change, but am not sure HOW to change.
Lesson Five: Do not put your job ahead of your family. Honestly, the sad fact is that your employer does not put any value on the extra time you spend at work. They don't care if you sacrifice holidays, evenings, weekends, vacations, family events, or your health - they just don't. While you are sweating it out after-hours, your employers are home relaxing and having fun with their families. Your sacrifice will not necessarily be rewarded with promotions, good bonuses, or big raises. The more you are willing to work, the more they will expect you to work. Period. I learned this several years ago, and I always swore I'd never again put my career first. Mr. C isn't such a quick learner. I'm hoping this one sinks in soon. After last year, he promised he was going to change, but in the two weeks since returning home from vacation, he has worked several late nights. Some lessons take longer to sink in, I guess.
Lesson Six: When you have people in your life who are amazing, dynamic, and worthy of admiration, let them know. Tell them how much you respect them, appreciate them, and value the relationship. One day it will be too late, and you will regret that you didn't share your feelings.
Lesson Seven: Say thank you! Those two little words can mean so much to someone. We all need to feel appreciated - it rejuvenates the soul.
Lesson Eight:If your employer is looking to hire an employee, DO NOT recruit one of your friends to become a co-worker. Let your employer find employees, and let your friends find their own jobs.There is one caveat to this: If there is a financial incentive, it may be worth it. Mr. C once worked for a great company which offered a $1000 recruiting bonus for bringing in good workers. It was a great opportunity. But if there is no monetary incentive, it isn't worth putting your position or friendship at risk, in fact it may be detrimental to both.
Lesson Nine: Take care of yourself physically. Drink your water every day, sweat every day, and make wise food choices.
Lesson Ten: Cultivate friendships. This one is where I struggle the most. It isn't that I don't have friends, or that I don't value friendships, it is that I have a very difficult time opening myself up and trusting people (see Lesson One, above). I have been working on this during the past year though. I have been trying to be more deliberate in my relationships. I still have a long way to go, but I am taking baby steps.
The best thing to happen in 2013: We did get to spend Christmas with family this year! We drove out to Santa Barbara and spent Christmas with some of my favorite people on earth. I will post pictures soon.
Wow. I just looked at the last post I wrote - three months ago! What happened? I have no idea where the time went.
Well, I do. Life. We were living life. Crazy, busy, stressful, wonderful life.
We also got a dog.She was a rescue dog. Her name is Bella and I love her more than I love my kids. Not really. Maybe. Well, almost.
Bella (she was already named) is a Border Collie / Lab mix, although several people have told me she is a Flat Coat Retriever. I am not a dog expert. All I know is she has black hair, weighs 50 lbs., and is of the canine species. She loves me more than anyone else, which is why she eats only my shoes (6 prs. so far). I take her out running at the dog park every morning, which has helped with her energy level, and assists with her making good little doggie decisions at home for the rest of the day. Some of you may be shocked that we have a new furry family member. Mr. C has long maintained that we could get a dog "over his dead body". I'm so happy he is still around to enjoy Miss Bella. She loves to catch, fetch, shake, give high-5's, lay down, chew (usually on a hoof or a raw hide), and be cuddled (but she only likes cuddling in the mornings when she is lazy and tired). She also enjoys herding Katie in the back yard, chasing birds and grasshoppers at the dog park, and splashing in any available water.
The kidlets went to their last day of school yesterday. It was a half-day, and a total waste of everyone's time. They didn't do a thing except sign autographs, play, clean, etc. I'm glad the school year is over. We were all getting run down and tired of it.
We held Katie's Birthday party last night. Those of you who know her Birthday was in March will be confused. It was like this: she wanted to have an outside pool party for her Birthday, and it is too freaking cold for that in Wyoming until summer (we had two blizzards in May!). Usually she is more of an "instant gratification" type of girl, but I was proud of her for delaying the fun for three months.
Which brings us to today. Our first day of summer break. Usually my favorite day of the year! Guess what! It sucked! I can't even tell you exactly why, it just did. Mr. C is working a lot (don't I always say this?), so I'm not getting much sleep. The month of June is going to be brutal for him. Lots of deadlines and stress. I am praying July will be better, but I'm not holding out much hope. So, I began the day tired, because I don't sleep well when he is working long hours. I hit snooze until 7:30 this morning, then was scrambling to get everyone out the door. Mr. C had work. Bren had golf at 9. Katie had Religious Ed at 9, then golf at 11.
So, my day went like this: Get Mr. C out the door. Get kids ready and out the door by 8:30. Take Bren to golf. Take Katie across town to the church. Take Bella north to the dog park to run. Come home and shower. Pick Katie up at 10:40 and deliver her to the golf course. Bren was supposed to be waiting for her at noon to play a couple of holes of golf, then I was supposed to pick them up for lunch and room cleaning. Well, fortunately, I had a feeling I should wait for Katie, so I spent a delightful hour catching up with one of my sweet friends whilst our children had their lesson. Brendan never showed up (he was out on the course golfing). So I took Katie home for lunch, then had to go back to get Brendan 45 minutes later. He ate lunch, then they both cleaned their rooms, then I had to take them back to the pool (because it was 96 degrees!), then I ran two errands. I came home with major plans to get some stuff done, then Brendan called and wanted to be picked up. Apparently Katie was being mean to him so he wanted to leave the pool. This meant Katie also had to leave the pool. That was not a popular plan with Katie, and she apparently became upset. I got them home, cooled her off (literally and figuratively), and thought I could maybe get a couple of things done. No. Katie wanted the day care kids from next door to come play, and the little darlings went into the back yard and opened the gate, but forgot to shut it. When we let Miss Bella outside, she got out, and she had a blast frolicking through the neighborhood before we realized she was out. We got her back in, and I gave up with trying to get anything done.
So it is now 6:00 at night, and I haven't accomplished anything I needed to, and I am worn out from being hot and tired. I figured while I am sitting here being all grumpy, I might as well write a post for my sorely neglected blog.
I am hoping tomorrow is better (and cooler). Did I mention it was 96 degrees today? 96! We live in Wyoming and have NO AIR CONDITIONING! My house is a balmy 85 degrees right at this moment. The only thing saving us right now is that fabulous Wyoming wind. It is blowing from the west at 12 mph, but gusting a bit higher. I also think we'll be eating out tonight, as I have no desire to turn on the stove or oven and heat up my house any further.
On a happy note: We signed up for the summer reading program at The Laramie County Library. I have read 5 of my 25 books already. Katie has read for 7 of her 25 hours, and Brendan has read 8 of his 25 hours. They love doing the reading program. It is always a fun activity for us to share during the summertime. Mr. C signed up once, but didn't finish anything. He doesn't read for enjoyment very often. I think it is because he is always working and doesn't have the time. Maybe when he retires he'll be able to read more often.
So, our summer schedule has begun: lots of golf, pool days, and grilling outside. I love summertime in Wyoming. We have beautiful summers and falls here. The evenings are especially gorgeous, with brilliant colorful sunsets, and temps that are "just right" for sitting on the patio.
It appears Jenna Bouvier is losing everything: beauty, family, and wealth. When her controlling and emotionally abusive mother-in-law accuses Jenna of an affair with her spiritual director and threatens to expose them, Jenna also risks losing her reputation as a woman of faith. Will she capitulate to her mother-in-law’s wishes again or fight for what she holds dear? As Jenna loses her life, will she find it?
Andee Bell has found exactly what she wanted: fame, fortune, and respect. There’s also a special man in her life—Jenna’s brother. Despite her success, a secret quells Andee’s contentment. As memories torment, will she find peace in a relationship with God, or will she sabotage herself while also taking down the only person she cares about? As Andee finds her life, will she lose it?
Moving between San Francisco and the Napa Valley, Jenna and Andee form an unlikely relationship that leads them to a crossroad. They can follow familiar inclinations, or risk it all and walk in faith. _________________________________________________________________________________
Jenna and her husband Gerard live with his mother, who is controlling and manipulative. Nobody stands up to this woman! Where Jenna is sweet and loving, Brigitte is conniving and evil. The story also includes Jenna's father, brother, and her brother's girlfriend, Andee. Andee is focused solely on her career. This drive is fueled by the deep need to overcome a horrific childhood. As she betrays those who trust her, she realizes she needs something deeper from life. Something more. I wanted to like this book. It was a really GOOD book. This book was filled with incredibly profound thoughts on faith, trust, and belief. The author really made me THINK. It had interesting characters, and it kept me reading until the very last page. But that is where it lost me. And it is 100% NOT because it was not well-written, nor is it due to a lack of amazing life-lessons woven throughout the story. My problem with the book was that the story wasn't tied up in a sweet little bow at the end. It didn't end with the characters being blissfully happy. And that is MY failure as a reader. As a girl, I didn't have much stability in my life. My escape from the every-day was reading. I read constantly. I would immerse myself in the stories and the characters. Books allowed me to be someplace else...someplace wonderful...someplace other than where I was. So, since reading was my ticket to another world, why would I choose to make that world sad? Unfortunately, this tendency has followed me into adulthood. I don't watch sad movies (I think I'm the only person on earth who has not seen Titanic - you know before you see it that it will end badly), and I avoid reading books from certain authors because they weave sadness into their plots (I have yet to make it all the way through a Danielle Steele novel, and don't even get me started on Nicholas Sparks or Jodi Picoult). Give me a good Debbie Macomber novel any day - that woman knows how to write a light, happy story. I also enjoy Courtney Walsh and Amanda Cabot for the same reason: their stories aren't always light, but they wrap up their books in such an uplifting way. The only sadness comes from the fact that the book isn't longer. Now, I KNOW life isn't perfect, nor is it ever tied up in a sweet little bow. And I also realize I am missing out on some really great books because of this. I need to work on getting out of my comfort zone. Do you have a favorite genre of book? Have you thought about why?