Life, Parenting

Meeting Internet Friends

meeting-internet-friend

So here’s the thing, meeting people online, forming friendships/relationships, is not as weird or uncommon as it used to be.

Speaking as an older person, (ahem), I really can’t imagine doing that nowadays though I’m certainly not against it – in fact, back in the day when I used to read a lot of mommy blogs, I seriously thought I would attend some blog conferences and thought it would be fun to meet some of the people I had been reading online in real life.

I never did it though because ultimately, I didn’t care enough to follow through. I was curious, not serious.

But our boys, who have grown up online and who can’t imagine life without the Internet, are a different breed. It’s now the norm to meet friends online, in chat rooms, in forums, or recognize screen names from games.

I can’t confirm this, but I think that both boys, at one point or another, had online girlfriends though they never met them, to my knowledge.

I can always tell when Blake gets attached to someone online. His mood is happy, uplifting, he jokes around and laughs a lot.

And then I can always tell when something happens online, whether someone has disappointed him, or made him angry, or he has lost a friendship/relationship because he falls into a deep depression. He mopes around and sleeps A LOT. It always concerns me a bit when he sleeps so much – I know that’s his way of trying to get away from whatever is upsetting him. But I suppose we all have our ways of coping with unpleasant things.

Brandon is not like that. He doesn’t internalize as much as Blake does. When someone disappoints him, he just gets angry. I can’t imagine where he gets that trait from.

Brandon has a lot of online friends. In fact, he met one the other day and I found this out when I saw his friend’s post on Facebook.

The guy that Brandon met comments on his Facebook account. And I don’t know, I always assumed the guy was someone that Brandon went to school with. It never dawned on me that he was an online friend. When I saw the post on Facebook of Brandon meeting this friend, I was shocked.

I asked Brandon about the meet up when he and Blake came over for Sunday dinner. He said this friend was traveling back from Texas with his parents when they decided to stop in our hometown and meet Brandon. They met at a restaurant. Brandon said his parents even bought him dinner, which I thought was terribly nice of them to do.

Brandon and this guy have been online friends for about 6 years. After I got over my initial shock, I then freaked out a bit. I mean,  you hear all sorts of horror stories about weird people impersonating kids, or serial killers stalking their next victims and well … you just pray that never happens to your kids. But I guess they can Skype each other now and they can see it’s not an old man in his 60’s sitting around in his underwear.

(But they could always hire a kid, I guess).

Brandon also bought tickets to go to Vegas in October. By himself. He is going to some Final Fantasy conference and he’s meeting up with some online friends there, too. In fact, the latest word is, they are all going in on renting a condo for several days. Bran is supposed to be coming over this next week so we can help him book a flight. And I definitely have more questions about this condo, where it is, how much it costs, etc.

I know what you’re thinking – FREAK OUT MOMMA MOMENT. However, I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, NO WAY ARE YOU GOING TO VEGAS. But on the other hand, he’s 21 and if he’s willing to venture out on his own, well, I can’t stop him. In fact, I’m sort of proud of him for biting the bullet and stepping out of his comfort zone. Nearly all of Kevin’s sisters’ kids have traveled the world, in fact, one of my nieces is in Spain right now living with missionaries for the summer, I think my kid can handle going to Vegas.

I’m trying very hard to be cool about this. I would rather he come to me and tell me these things than hide them from me. At least if he talks to me, I can help him prepare for the trip and give him advice on how to be safe while there.

Blake is talking about going to Japan to meet a friend next year. I have no idea if he’ll ever do it but he’s been thinking about doing this for a few years now. (I wonder if that was why he was interested in taking Japanese class in high school – it all makes sense now!)

Of course, we would help him plan. He already has a passport (which reminds me, we need to renew Brandon’s passport. His expired at five years instead of the ten for me, Kevin and Blake, because Brandon was too young to qualify for a ten-year passport at the time). I’m pretty sure I’ll be way more freaked out with Blake going to Japan.

As in, OUT OF THE COUNTRY, PEOPLE.

But we’ll cross that bridge if/when we get there.

We are also working on setting the boys up for a credit card. All they have now are debit cards and well, we all know how risky debit cards are. Besides, they need to start building credit and now is a good time to start.

I’m betting, if the girlfriend thing ever happens for either of our sons, it will be through the Internet. And in a lot of ways, I think it’s better that way. At least that way, they can focus more on her personality as opposed to the physical side of things.

Like it or not, online relationships are real and they are happening, whether we approve of it or not. We might as well get on board.

Life, Roy's Story

Father’s Day 2016

Father’s Day was non-stop here. Kevin and Roy mowed lawns, I did 3.25 miles on the treadmill, got cleaned up and picked up a Jimmy John’s sandwich platter for lunch. After lunch, Kevin, Roy and the boys went swimming at our rental house.  For those of you just tuning in, Roy is Kevin’s uncle (his grandmother adopted him) and he lives in our rental house across the street.

Kevin’s grandmother died in 2008 (?) and Kevin and his mom are Roy’s co-guardians. I wouldn’t say the rest of Kevin’s family wrote him off, but they don’t have a lot of interaction with Roy, Kevin is fully responsible for him, though Kevin’s mom does help out when needed. Roy lived with Kevin’s parents for the first five years after Kevin’s grandmother died and the relationship became strained – plus, Kevin’s parents are getting up there in age and simply can’t watch/take care of Roy anymore – so the responsibility lies with Kevin.

How do I feel about it? I’m a little resentful, I’ll be honest. I admire the hell out of Kevin for stepping up and taking on that responsibility, but I resent the fact that Roy has become part of our immediate family – the boys moved out, and Roy moved in, in essence.

Yes, I realize this makes me sound cold hearted and you would be correct in assuming that, I am a bit cold hearted – I really don’t want to be in this position, but then I immediately feel guilty for thinking that because if Kevin hadn’t stepped in and taken over Roy’s care, he would be in a home right now.

I have a lot of guilt for feeling this way.

But the situation really turned out for the best. We firmly believe God had a plan for us when the woman across the street passed away and her home went up for auction. And Kevin was curious, so we attended her estate sale. I remember feeling so, SO sad walking through her house and seeing all of her possessions laying around for people to nit-pick over. I remember feeling angry that there were people who would turn their noses up at her stuff, stuff that she was proud to have, took care, held memories for her.

And I remember feeling FURIOUS that Kevin bid on the house. Luckily, he lost the bid. I was relieved.

But again, God had a plan and one month later, the guy who bought the house contacted Kevin and asked him if he wanted to buy it – he said yes.

It was my birthday. Happy birthday to me, here’s a rental house.

We took out a home-equity loan against our house and fixed the rental house up. We tore up the carpets and put in hardwood floors. We completely remodeled the kitchen and put in all new appliances. We painted and fixed up the landscape. We got the pool up and running for about $600 even though “the experts” told us it would take about $12,000 to get it working properly.

And by “we” I mean Kevin. Kevin is a master of all trades and quite talented in figuring things out. He did a fantastic job of fixing that house up.

Shortly after fixing it up, Roy’s relationship with Kevin’s parents went south. And Kevin had an idea – why don’t we ask Roy to move? He would pay us rent, Kevin would be able to keep an eye on him and someone we knew would be living there.

Win-Win-Win.

And then Kevin got another brilliant idea – why not move my office into the front part of the house and Roy would live in the back part of the house.

Oh. And how about turning the basement into a music studio for his band to use for practice?

I’m telling you guys, I’m married to a genius.

So that’s Roy’s story in a nutshell. And Kevin is usually at the rental house more than he is at our house, but that’s okay, it gives me a chance to do what I want to do and Kevin has his space.

Win-Win-Win.

Back to Father’s Day.

So the guys are swimming at the house. I don’t swim over there. I never have and I never will. I will not be caught dead in a swim suit in front of Roy. It just feels ……………. icky.

So I went to the mall. And while there, I returned this dress to Old Navy. I wanted to like it, I did like it, my body, however, had other ideas. And yes, I’m on the endless, frustrating cycle of trying to find clothes that will look good on me and keep me cool when we go to Bermuda.

(Yes – we booked the vacation).

I also went to Bath and Body Works to pick up some body lotion because momma loves her some body lotion.

And then I picked up the cookie cake that you see above. We don’t DO cakes in our family – it’s always cookie cakes.

I took it over to the rental house and the guys were ready to take a break from swimming and sugar up.

The fact that this is blurry makes me angry – stupid camera.

The guys lounged around a bit more after cookie cake, some more than others….

And then Kevin made curly hotdogs

and then we all five, me, Kevin, the boys and Roy, all played Lords of Waterdeep. It’s a Dungeon’s and Dragon’s board game – yes, we ARE that cool.

It’s a super fun strategy game and we will be playing that more often. The boys really enjoyed themselves.

Oh, I almost forgot, we surprised Kevin with Blue Puma sneakers:

blue-pumas

He had his eye on these the other day when we were shopping for me for (more) sneakers for work but he didn’t end up buying them. I went back later and got them for him because I knew he would never buy them himself.

Cool sneaks for a cool man.

It was a crazy, busy day but I think Kevin and the boys had a good time. He’s seriously one of the most awesome men/fathers and we are very blessed to have him in our lives.

We love you, Kevin!

 

 

Life

My Eyeballs

I’ve gone a little overboard on buying reading glasses. (I bought all of these glasses, except for the second row, middle picture, through Coastal.com – no, this is not a sponsored post.

I shouldn’t even BE wearing glasses but my eyesight is poor today because of me.

Let me explain.

Back in the early 2,000’s, (that’s still seems so weird to type), I went to college. I went to college because 1. it was a life goal of mine and 2. I wanted to set a good example to the boys.

I loved college, but then I was in a place in my life that I COULD love it. I was a stay-at-home mom during the day, and worked at Wal-Mart at night. I went to class while the boys were in school. It worked out well. I had time to study, (not necessarily the energy to study) and I graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in Technical Writing/Creative Writing minor.

I’ve never really been smart, per se, I have a lot of common sense and the ability to think logically so that saved my bacon when it came to studies. But I came up with this (not-so) brilliant idea of wearing glasses because it would give me a mental “boost” – I would FEEL smarter.

And it worked – I did feel smarter and I felt like I did better. I don’t know why I did this, it’s stupid and I DON’T RECOMMEND it, but again, I’ve never claimed to be overly smart.

This wearing glasses tactic worked as far as my grades but it ruined my eyesight.

That’s not to say I wouldn’t have needed reading glasses later in life anyway, but it would have at least delayed the inevitable by about ten years.

Now? I can’t see squat up close without them. And I can’t really see that great overall without them, but I’m too stubborn to wear them all the time. I can see fine far away, not so great up close.

What really concerns me is I have to renew my driver’s license in November and I’m really hoping I can pass the eye test without my glasses because I don’t want it to indicate that I have to wear my glasses on my license. Again, I see fine far away, but can’t see very well up close so wearing my reading glasses to drive would not be a good idea. I wonder if they will allow me to take the eye test with my reading glasses but not make it mandatory that I wear them on my license? This is all new territory for me.

I have eight pairs of reading glasses. I know – that’s excessive. But I sort of became obsessed with Coastal.com when a friend of mine at work told me about the free pair she got through Coastal.com. (I really must stop talking to friends at work about stuff – it ends up costing me money).

So I went on to the site and started looking around. Then I uploaded a picture of myself and spent HOURS trying on virtual glasses to see how they looked. And then, Coastal figured out I had made an account and started sending me promotional emails about deals and well – eight pairs of glasses later, here we are.

The biggest reason I have so many glasses is because it’s fun to shake up “my look.” I wear scrubs all day every day, I GET BORED. And the only thing I can do about it is switch up my accessories once in a while.

The two pictures with the starburst in the corners are my favorite glasses. I wear those the most. I also feel stupid wearing the cheetah-looking glasses, (top row, last picture on the right) but I always get a lot of compliments from co-workers and patients together when I do. Maybe they all really hate them and don’t want to hurt my feelings. ha!

It’s been two years since my last eye exam. (I feel like I’m confessing a sin here). And honestly, it’s probably about time for me to have another eye exam, but so far, my glasses are doing a pretty good job of maintaining my eyesight and I won’t even tell you how much I’ve spent on glasses (hint – none of those pairs, well maybe one pair, was more than $50) and I don’t feel like I’ve gotten my money’s worth out of them yet, so I’ll hold off on a new eye exam because I’m sure the prescription will come back that I need stronger glasses and I’m not ready to drop another fortune on glasses just yet.

(Side note: my left eye is weaker than my right eye – that’s weird, right?)

Kevin’s eyesight is worse than mine. His prescription is for actual glasses, not just for reading. He’s getting pretty sick of wearing glasses and has made an appointment to have his eyes checked for contacts. He actually looked into laser eye repair but they told him that since he can see far away but can’t see close, that type of procedure would not be helpful to him. They could do one eye, but not both. Not sure I understand the rationale behind that, but okay.

Kevin’s sister wears one contact so that she can see both up close and far away, not sure I could handle that but she seems to be okay with that solution.  I’m not sure how they will fix Kevin’s problem so that he can read but still be able to see long distance with contacts, but we’ll see what they come up with.

I honestly don’t mind glasses. I’ve gotten so used to them now it’s weird when I don’t wear them. But Kevin has gotten tired of always having to have his glasses close by and he says he doesn’t have a problem with sticking something in his eyeball, so we’ll see if contacts are a better solution for him.

Me? No way. Just the thought of touching my eyeball makes me heave a hairball. I’ll just stick to multiple pairs of glasses, thank you very much.

 

Just Write

Just Write: His Consequence Followed Him Home

I love this video for a few reasons:

  1. The dancing is outstanding. These dancers are pretty amazing – I first learned of their talent in the Slip video. For those of you that don’t know, I’ve always wanted to be a dancer – there is no way now, and quite honestly, I don’t think I was motivated enough to really pursue it when I was younger, but I admire the hell out of dancers in general – for their artistic talents, for their hard work and dedication to their art. I could (and sometimes do) watch dance videos all day long. They inspire me.
  2. What about the mood music? It’s happy, go-lucky, innocent tune when he is home and turns sinister when he’s at his destination and fooling around with his lover. If you’re in a situation where sinister music is being played in the background, you shouldn’t be in that situation.
  3. The story in this video. It’s a story about a man who crosses the line and his consequences quite literally follows him home. It may not happen right away, but it will happen and it will be ugly. Is it worth it?

So story idea – how does the wife react when she finds out his lover followed him home?

How would YOU react if your wife/husband/lover brought his/her love affair home one day?

Don’t think, just write.

Abundant Life

God is Love and Sacrificed His Son for Atonement

This teaching is a little more technical, if you will. John explains how Romans 3:25 has mistranslated propitiation: appeasement of an angry God should actually be translated into atonement – which means bring taking two entities and making them one. It’s a better translation and depicts God as a loving God, not as an angry, wrathful God, which is how many people think of God nowadays.

That thinking/assumption is incorrect.

It’s a great teaching on how God is love and wants to love you, if only you will allow him.

Every Sunday I provide videos and valuable links to the Truth or Tradition teachings. We’ve been following the Truth or Tradition teachings for many years now and they have truly blessed our family. We have found peace and happiness through our beliefs and we walk confidently for God. My hope, by passing on this information to you, is that what you find here, or on the Truth or Tradition website, will guide you to a better, more blessed and abundant life.

Thanks for watching.

Check out Truth or Tradition teachings on:

Truth or Tradition Website
Facebook
Twitter
YouTube
iTunes
Online Store

More from Write From Karen

Fiction Friday

Fiction Fix: Paid in Full

friday-fix

You are walking downtown when you realize you are being followed.

“And then I was like, ‘look, you can’t talk to me like that’,” Dorie snickered. “Don’t you know who I’m dating?” She rolled her eyes at her companion.

Bruno resisted the urge to roll his own eyes – dating – is that what the kids were calling sexual relations nowadays? He couldn’t keep up with the trends nowadays, he didn’t care to try. He continued his easy pace alongside the petite raven-haired beauty. He discretely scanned the streets and alleys for potential threats and absently padded the gun at his waist.

Dorie snapped her fingers and assumed a hoity-toity attitude. “I’ll just ask Simpson to fire her ass, that will show that bitch right up.” Dorie looked up at her bodyguard, her green eyes flashing with temper. “Do you think Simpson would fire her if I asked him?”

“I’m sure I wouldn’t know, Miss,” Bruno responded.

“I get so tired of people thinking they’re better than me,” she whined. “I’m just as smart as them. So I didn’t go to college, who needs an expensive piece of paper anyway ….. Ooooh, look at this gorgeous swimsuit!” Dorie practically pressed her nose up against the glass in her excitement.

Bruno sighed and stopped alongside her. “We really need to get going, Miss,” he said.

Dorie ignored him and continued drooling over the suit. “I would totally rock that suit,” she mumbled. “I bet Simpson would buy that for me if I asked him oh so sweetly,” she elbowed Bruno in the stomach and batted her lashes at him.

“Uh huh,” he responded and gently took her elbow again to redirect her back to the sidewalk.

They walked on in silence for a few moments before Dorie began to speak again.

Bruno released a long-suffering sigh.

“Do you think Simpson would ever leave his wife for me?”

He looked down at the 5’3 woman beside him. She looked up at him with hope in her large eyes.

“I couldn’t say, Miss,” Bruno flatly stated.

“I think I could love him,” she continued. “I mean, he’s rather fat and of course, old,” she wrinkled her nose in distaste, “but we have fun together, I guess.” She practically ran to keep up with Bruno’s long strides.

“Oh my God!” She suddenly stopped and Bruno hesitated. “Look at that GORGEOUS necklace! Oh, that does it, I MUST have it.” She whipped out her cell phone, hit 2 on her keypad and waited for Simpson to answer. “That would look so awesome with my emerald dress,” she tapped her foot impatiently. “Damn it, he’s not answering.” She slipped her phone back into her purse and pressed her finger to the glass once more. “And those earrings … I think I might die.” She continued to gaze lovingly at the jewelry.

Bruno lifted a brow.

“I’m tempted to go in there and ask them to just bill him,” she mumbled. “I’m sure he …” she suddenly stopped.

Her silence prompted Bruno to look down at the top of her head.

“Bruno,” she whispered. Her eyes were glued to the glass but they weren’t focused on the jewelry.  “I’m pretty sure we’re being followed.”

Bruno’s large body tensed and he straightened to his full 6’3 height. “Who?”

Dorie casually pointed at the glass. “Look at the reflection. See that mangy man across the street? The one with the black beanie and torn jeans? I saw him earlier, too. He just stands there and stares at us.”

Bruno snapped to attention and cupped her elbow in his big hand.

“No more window shopping, let’s go.” He practically dragged her down the street and toward their car at the end of the block. His eyes constantly volleyed up and down the street.

The man was no where to be seen.

They crossed the street.

“You know, I thought Simpson giving me a body guard was stupid at first,” Dorie said, her voice small and tight. “But I’m really glad you’re here, Bruno.”

They stepped back onto the sidewalk on the opposite side of the street and entered an alley.

“Where are we going?”

“It’s a shortcut.”

Dorie picked up her steps. “Okay, I’m done. This is not fun anymore.” She squealed and stopped abruptly when the man who had been following them stepped out of a doorway.

“‘ello gorgeous,” the man murmured. “What a pity you must die.”

Dorie gasped when she caught sight of the blade in the man’s hands. She whipped her head around to see where Bruno had gone and opened her mouth to scream, but the man snuck up behind her, grabbed her head with one hand and sliced her throat with the other. In one swift, and clean, move, he killed her.

He carefully dragged her body into the shadows and gently laid her down.

“Well, that was easier than I thought,” he grunted. “What a pity to kill such a  pretty young thing.” He wiped the knife on his jeans and stuck it in his waistband. “All right, my job is done, I want my payment,” he said and stuck out his hand. He sniffed nervously and rapidly blinked the water from his bloodshot eyes.

Bruno stepped into view. His face was granite hard and he looked at the man in disgust. “What a waste of humanity,” he mumbled thoughtfully.

“Whatever. Give me my stash or I’ll slash your throat, too.”

Bruno lifted one eyebrow, one corner of his mouth curved up as if to form a smile but it quickly disappeared. “You want your reward, eh?”

“Quit stalling, mother fucker, pay up.” The man shifted the knife in his hand and pointed it Bruno.

Bruno sighed, shrugged, and put reached around to his back pocket. He stepped toward the man.

“Everyone is in such a hurry nowadays,” he towered over the man, who seemed to shrink before his eyes. Bruno stepped into the man’s personal space.

“Consider this payment in full,” he said quietly. He grabbed the arm that held the knife and squeezed until the man yowled in pain and dropped the knife. Bruno forced the man to his knees. He jerked on the man’s arm to straighten it out and savagely stabbed him in the vein with the syringe. He pressed the plunger and injected the drug.

The man cried out in surprise but then licked his lips in anticipation.

“Enjoy the ride,” Bruno snarled. “It’ll be your last.”

The man stumbled as Bruno let him go and fell next to the girl. He tried to sit up but fell back as the powerful drug began to take effect. He laid his head back and sighed, a stupid grin curving his lips.

Bruno reached down and took Dorie’s purse. He then stepped over the dead bodies and left the dark alleyway. He dug his phone out of his pocket and dialed a number.

“It’s done.”

Throw Back Thursday

Throwback Thursday: Introducing the Great Outdoors

This is the one and only picture I have of Brandon reading – and I don’t think I have a picture of Blake reading at all, (unless he’s doing homework and that certainly doesn’t count).

Our kids have never been into the outdoors. The only thing they ever wanted to do was play video games. We tried to discourage this, or at least balance out their time playing video games with other things, but when they got to middle/high school, we just sort of gave up. Why make them stop what they truly loved doing? I would be pretty upset if someone told me I couldn’t read, blog, or watch my favorite TV shows.

We like what we like, whether those around with us agree with it or not.

During the summer months, we tried to get the boys out and about. The picture above was Brandon “reading” Harry Potter outside (he never finished it and I’m pretty sure he’s only seen a few Harry Potter movies – again, not a big fan, unfortunately). It was an attempt to get him to do something other than stay inside and play games.

You can see how that turned out. (**Squirrel!**)

I mean, there were moments when the kids would go outside and play. And they both have pretty good imaginations so they would ultimately re-enact a “boss” scene in a video game or be characters from some game. I wasn’t going to split hairs – I was just happy they were getting fresh air.

And the times I wouldn’t let them play games? (Because there was a time when I tried to monitor their game playing, to try and balance it out with joining the real world, I got this:

But you know what? Boredom is not bad for kids, in fact, I strongly believe it helps them develop creativity.

We went for family bike rides, (which we’re wanting to do again, but when it cools off – our city has expanded our bike trails and we thought it would be fun if we packed a picnic lunch and rode to the lake or something since Roy has FIVE bikes now – the joys of hunting garage sales), and walked the nature trails a lot.

Again, just something to get the kids out of the house and breathing some fresh air.

Don’t tell Blake this, but I think he looks like Forest Gump with his head tilted to the side like that. HA!

But all you can do is lead a horse to water, you can’t make him drink it.

We went swimming a lot when the boys were in grade school. We tried to go a lot when they got into middle/high school, but by that time, they were self-conscious about their bodies and girls, so we didn’t go as much. Swimming was one thing they both loved to do outside, so we took advantage of that. I’m not personally a big fan of swimming mainly because I’m not a strong swimmer, but the boys really enjoyed going off the diving boards, over and over and over again. By the end of summer, they were both sporting pretty fantastic tans.

So yes, we tried to introduce the boys to different outdoor activities, and though they didn’t hate the things we did, they weren’t really into it, either. They just sort of … tolerated our efforts, I guess.

Your kids will grow up and develop their own interests/personalities. All we can do as parents is teach them to be good people and then step back and allow them to become good people.

Vacations

Planning Vacation in 2016

So, I bet you can’t guess what’s on my mind right now…

beach

I initially told Kevin that we weren’t going on vacation this year, that we were going to have a staycation and save some money ….

And then I got to talking to a friend of mine at work and she was raving about her stay on South Padre Island and I thought … hhmm…. that wouldn’t be too expensive, right??

And then I talked to another friend of mine at work who just got back from Destin, Florida and how she rented a car to drive down there and I thought … hhmm…

So I started doing some research.

Let me just say, that I LOVE doing vacation research. The possibilities are nearly endless.

I looked up cars and it would cost us about $300 dollars to rent a car for a week. I thought, okay, we’ll drive to South Padre island, it’ll take us two days down there and back, we’ll take our time, stop off whenever, wherever, we wanted … we would get the XM Satellite option and Kevin would have all sorts of stations to listen to .. it’ll be cool.

Then I started researching hotels in South Padre island and things to do – which admittedly, wasn’t much. But that’s okay, we would relax, enjoy the sun/beach. Our Hawaii vacation, though freaking awesome, was anything but relaxing, we went on excursions every day and we were constantly on the go. But we figured, WE WERE IN HAWAII, and we would likely never go back, so we wanted to see as much as we possibly could. And we did. We island hopped and we got some pretty fantastic pictures, which I have yet to show you or talk about, but I’ll get around to it, eventually.

I presented my ideas to Kevin. I was excited, I had a plan. This would be different, relaxing and relatively cheap compared to vacations in the past.

Kevin was less than thrilled with my idea. In fact, he shot me down. In fact, he hated the whole idea.

He wasn’t excited about taking four days out of our vacation to drive. He’s never been one to like driving anyway, he feels like it’s a waste of time so no, that idea was shot.

I didn’t give up though. He wanted to cash in our frequent flyer miles and fly down there, the problem is, there really isn’t any place to fly TO. There’s Brownsville, TX, but American Airlines doesn’t go there, the closest we can go is San Antonio. So I thought, okay, let’s fly into San Antonio, spend a few days there, see the sights, (they have a hop-on-hop off boat tour thing which I thought looked fun), and then we would rent a car and drive the five hours to South Padre Island, spend a few days on the beach, drive back to San Antonio and fly home.

Again, Kevin shot me down. I just couldn’t get him excited about South Padre Island.

I got to talking to my friend again at work and she mentioned she wanted to spend her 25th wedding anniversary at a Sandal’s resort.

Hmmm….

So I started researching Sandals in the Bahamas. We’ve talked about wanting to go back someday. I figured we could fly out of Tulsa using our frequent flyer miles and stay at the resort for four days, then come home. We would then have a few more days at  home to goof around.

I started shopping prices, dates, things to do, which admittedly, there wasn’t much to do during the day at the Sandals resort, the beach, of course, but so many days of sitting on the beach and even I, who loves to sit and read, would get bored. So I figured four days would really be all we could handle. But there looked like there would be plenty to do at night, so that would be fun.

I approached Kevin and he loved the idea. Sandals is basically a cruise on land. It’s all inclusive, which means it includes food/tips/drinks. We love that concept because then you don’t have to worry about where you’re going to eat and how much it’s going to cost.

We HATE spending money on food. You’re literally eating your money. Hate it.

I had everything lined up. It would cost us about $2,200 dollars for four days. Remember, our flight was “free” with our frequent flyer miles, we would have to pay taxes (GRR) and luggage fees.

I hesitated clicking the “book it” button. We sat around and talked about it for a while then we went to the Sandals website to look at pictures of the resort. (We were booking the resort through hotels.com – highly recommend, by the way).

The pictures were nice – full of nicely-dressed people standing around with smiles and drinks, looking happy and oh-so pretentious.

Pretentious.

Kevin and I looked at each other. “Do we have to dress up for this place?” Kevin asked.

“I hope not,” I said. “Though if we want to eat at some of their nicer restaurants, we’ll have to dress a little nicer than a t-shirt and shorts.”

Now, we know the pictures on the Sandals’ website are meant to entice and advertise for their resort, but honestly, it sort of turned us off because we’re t-shirt/shorts sorts of people and if we’re going on vacation, the last thing we want to do is dress for work. (Well him, anyway, since I’m in scrubs all day every day).

So. We scratched the Sandals idea. Though we would still like to go to one of the resorts some day – we’re not totally tossing the idea. And $2,200 for four days?? We could go on a cruise for cheaper than that.

Which brings us to our latest vacation idea – another cruise.

People, you just can’t beat a cruise, you truly can’t. It’s not as expensive as you might think it is. Especially when you start comparing what you get on a cruise and what you get when you have to pay for all of the individual goodies by themselves.

Again. I fought against another cruise. I love cruising, don’t get me wrong, but they are hard on me. I’ll be honest, I get seasick. Not so bad that I’m stuck in my room puking my guts out, but there have been a few occasions when we have run into rough waters and I’ve had to sit, breathe and drink ginger ale. (Which helps a lot, by the way).

I really wanted to take a break from cruising this year. But then Kevin said, “do you really want to look back at our lives and have nothing to show for it? Look at all of the fantastic vacation pictures we’ve taken over the years and how many stories we have to tell. Let’s do it.”

And still, I hesitated.

And then, I noticed how tired Kevin was looking. He’s been working really hard lately and taking very little time off. For those of you that don’t know, he is self-employed which translates into, he is always working. When he’s not at a client’s, he’s working from his office after 5:00 and on the weekends. He never really gets away from it.

Which got me thinking, what if we went on another cruise, he would have no choice but to relax if we did that. We’re out in the middle of the ocean, he has no where to go.

One of the places we haven’t been to is Bermuda. And to reach Bermuda, you leave from Boston or New York – which we have yet to visit Boston, (well me, Kevin has been for business) and we want to go back to New York because that was the year we left for a cruise from New York for the Bahamas shortly after he had his motorcycle accident and we didn’t get to do as much as we wanted because he was weak (and probably shouldn’t have gone on vacation so soon after his accident anyway).

So I started researching a cruise to Bermuda. Kevin told me dates that would work for him and his business and I set to work

I went to Royal Caribbean’s website first, because we haven’t cruised on that line yet, but their cruises were only 5 days and leaving from Baltimore and New Jersey. That didn’t work for us.

Then I went to Norwegian’s website – we sailed with Norwegian last year when we cruised the Hawaiian islands and we really liked it. I started with leaving from Boston, but the dates didn’t line up so I looked at leaving from New York.

The dates matched.

Then I went to American Airlines’ website to look at flights. I always start my search leaving from Springfield because if we can avoid driving four hours to St. Louis/Kansas City/Tulsa, then we’re going to try and avoid it. The down side to cashing in frequent flyer miles is that you’re limited on your dates. You just sort of have to make it work if you want to cash them in. And since paying for flights can cost $1,000’s of dollars, we make it work.

To my surprise and delight, flying from Springfield would work. (If Springfield hadn’t worked, I would have checked Tulsa then Kansas City – we try and avoid St. Louis airport unless we don’t have any other choices).

Here’s a little tip if you’re looking into booking a cruise – bite the bullet and arrive at your destination the day before you’re supposed to board the boat. We flew down ON the day we were departing one time, ONE TIME, and never again will we do that. It was beyond stressful worrying about whether the flights would leave on time because one little hiccup and we risk not boarding the boat in time. In fact, the time we flew down on the day, we were one of the last to board, we cut it that close.

NEVER. AGAIN.

So we always fly in to the city the day before, spend the night and then it’s no big deal to get to the pier the next day in plenty of time. In fact, we’re always one of the first batch of people to board the boat.

This particular cruise is from Sunday to Sunday. So, the plan is, since we want to spend a few days in New York to finish sightseeing the places we didn’t have a chance to see last trip, we will fly in on Friday, get to New York about 11:00 PM, then we’ll have all day Saturday to sight see. Sunday, we’ll have a nice breakfast, check-out of our hotel and make our way to the pier.

There was one flight back on the Sunday the ship returns but it was at 7:30 AM and the boat won’t dock until 8:00 AM, so that won’t work. We’ll have to spend Sunday in New York, do more sightseeing, then catch the plane back home on Monday. It will be back to work on Tuesday. It will be rough, and I’m sure we’ll be exhausted, but we’ll handle it.

We haven’t booked it yet – we’re still talking, but I think we’re about 80% sure we’ll do it. This is what we do every time we plan on going anywhere – we talk it to death before taking the plunge.

Yes. It will be expensive (but not as expensive as other trips), but you know what? I work hard, Kevin works harder. We deserve one week of the year for some R-and-R.

Don’t you?

Work Stuff

Fractured

Sorry about the graphic parts of the above video, but this is what happens when there’s trauma – it’s messy, gross and painful.

Our doctors actually see a lot of spinal/skull fractures. We would never see an open fracture because if someone presents to the ER with an open spinal fracture, they are likely paralyzed. If they present to the ER with an open skull fracture, they will likely require brain surgery stat.

The fractures we see in the clinic are people who had an accident, fell off something, or were involved in an MVA, (motor vehicle accident), or someone simply tripped over something and fell flat on his/her face.

There’s not much you can do when you fracture your spine – both surgically and literally. When you fracture your spine, you have technically broken your back but not severe enough for paralysis. Most of the time, it’s a hairline fracture and you will be required to wear a brace, sometimes for several months, to allow your bone to grow back. If you do not wear this brace, and you make the fracture worse, then you CAN possibly make that fracture worse and crack it in two.

Then you’re really in trouble.

No one likes wearing the brace. In fact, if the fracture is severe enough, our doctors will sometimes offer surgery in order to go in, brace the spine with rods to hold it in place, and then they come back and have the rods removed once the fracture heals. They don’t do this very often – I’m sure the circumstances has to be just right, but for some people, it’s preferable to wearing a very restrictive brace for weeks/months.

I’ve found that people are on the extreme ends of the spectrum when it comes to fractures. On one end, you have the people that are completely freaked out and are convinced one wrong move will render them paralyzed. And yes, sometimes fractures are that severe and you have to be very careful, but often times, it’s not as bad as one might think. These people are afraid of everything and are very tense.

Then you have people that are supposed to wear a brace and don’t. Those are the ones who aren’t taking the fracture serious enough and don’t seem to realize – a brace is there to prevent you from making the fracture worse. And again, if the fracture gets worse, you’re really in deep doo-doo.

If you have a cervical (neck) fracture severe enough, or close enough to your brain stem, you may have to wear a halo.

The ring is attached by four bars to a stiff, lightweight vest that fits around your chest. This keeps your neck and spine moving as one with your body so the spinal injury can heal. Most people wear a halo for 6 to 12 weeks. You can expect your neck and back to feel stiff or sore at first.

I had to assist a PA in removing one of these bad boys one day. When you wear a halo,  you have to wear it for weeks, and you can’t wash your hair, and it’s very hard to bathe at all. So when patients come in to have their halos removed, they stink.

BAD.

And their hair is greasy and stinky. It was enough to almost make me gag.

The halo part that goes around the skull is literally screwed into the skull on all four sides. I used what looked like a small crescent wrench and loosened the screws. I loosened all of them a little at a time until we could finally slip it off the patient. The patient will have holes in his scalp which will scab over and eventually heal and fall off. So they must be careful when he/she can finally wash his/her hair.

Removing the halo was both gross and fascinating and I’m glad we don’t have to do those very often. But I’m glad the PA gave me the opportunity to remove it, at least once.

Patients with fractures don’t normally require surgery but they must be monitored. We usually see fracture patients back about 4-6 weeks after the injury with an xray prior to see how the fracture is healing. If it’s slow to heal, because the bones are weak, or the patient hasn’t been wearing his/her brace, then the doctor will have them come back in another 4-6 weeks with another xray until he/she is finally released from the brace and the fracture has healed enough not to cause damage.

I thought the part in the video above, how the calcified bone surrounds the injury and makes new bone was interesting. I didn’t know that part, Isn’t it fascinating how our bodies heal themselves?

It’s funny how we evolved like that, huh. (Inside joke between me and Kevin – every time something fascinating happens with the body, Kevin likes to snicker and make fun of evolution – which we obviously don’t believe in).

Fractures are painful an there is little you can do for them other than suffer through them until they heal. I always feel sorry that come in with fractures as we don’t do anything other than monitor how they are healing. Our doctors don’t prescribe pain medication  unless patients have had surgery so we get a lot of upset patients when they come in to see us.

You can’t really avoid fractures, enough stress and your bone will simply snap, but you can keep your bones strong so that they are less likely to snap. A lot of times, if fractures take a long time to heal it’s because the patient smokes (which SEVERELY limits healing of any sort), or the bones density is poor and the bones themselves are brittle.

I’ve started taking calcium, magnesium, zinc and vitamin D every day now. I mentioned in another post how my body was simply aching whenever I went to bed and I’ve noticed it doesn’t seem to be aching as much since I’ve started supplementing my diet.

So seriously, if you’re getting older, pay attention to your calicum/vitamin D intake. You could save yourself from a broken hip later in life.

Life

Tame the Chaos

I don’t know a lot about Autism, but I understand it on some level.

I don’t know the specifics about Autism, how it truly affects people, individual struggles to cope and process environment stimuli, but I get how environmental stimuli could be overwhelming.

I am not Autistic, but I am hyper aware of my surroundings. Without really trying, I am aware of what people are doing, where people are in relation to my position, what they are saying, their body language, their facial expressions and I have potential scenarios running in my head all the time – if this happens I will do this, if that happens I will do that. I pride myself on anticipating what needs to be done next, what someone might need from me, and I will often perform some task without the other person having to tell me.

I would be aware of all of these things in the video, but the difference is, my brain can quickly process it and then discard it as not being important to me or the people I’m with.

Does that make sense?

I suppose my awareness is one of the reasons I’m such a great multi-tasker. I thrive on handling several things at once. I get an adrenaline rush whenever I’m put into a situation like that – I can work on something, answer the phone, answer someone’s question while I’m on the phone, and make an appointment all at the same time. I do this all day, every day at work. I’m good at compartmentalizing. This is one of the reasons why I’m completely brain dead when I get home at night and on the weekends – because I’m juggling my environmental stimuli and constantly adjusting my personality/demeanor to put patients at ease or simply deal with different co-worker, patient personalities.

I can’t imagine being bombarded with all of that information, that over stimulation and NOT being able to quickly process it. It must feel a little like drowning, I would predict.

I work with a gal who doesn’t process very well. For example, we started clinic one day and my doctor got called away for emergency surgery. He had been on call the day before and a patient had been admitted with a brain bleed. They didn’t do anything on that day wanting to see if the bleed would resolve, only it didn’t, and by the next day, the day of our clinic, the bleed got worse and required immediate intervention.

My doctor had to cancel his clinic so he could do an emergency craniotomy (a fancy term that means to cut into the brain to see what was going on) on the patient.

This meant we had to deal with the patients already in the rooms, the patients checking in, notifying the clinic of the situation and calling patients that had yet to arrive. And we had to do all of this super fast – our pace just got jacked up to about five times faster than our normal speed so that the doctor could try and see the patients we had in the clinic before going down to the OR. (They were to call us when the patient was in the OR and ready for him to cut).

It was exhilarating to me, but not so much for the nurse that I work with. I could quickly see she was completely overwhelmed. She had no idea what to do first, couldn’t focus on the task in front of her and I literally ran circles around her taking care of everything.

I don’t say this to brag, I’m just saying that I tend to handle high-stress moments like that. I’ve always operated well under duress. I think quickly – whenever something like that happens, it’s like the fog is blown away and I see everything crystal clear.

But I realize that not everyone is like that. I admit, I got pretty impatient with the nurse for not thinking/moving as quickly as me, but I do realize that not everyone is capable of doing that.

(But you would think thinking quick on your feet would be a prerequisite for nursing as they are often asked to think/move quickly??).

But again, I’m okay to handle situations like that as long as they’re not long lasting. In the scenario above, it only lasted about 30 minutes and then things quieted way down once the doctor went down to the OR. I can only imagine how stressful and exhausting that must be to a person with Autism every moment of every day.

It’s no wonder that Autistic people come up with unique ways to cope – they have to right their worlds somehow – tame the chaos the only way they know how.