Friday, October 31, 2008


Well, this has not been fun.
I've had three rounds of fevers now, hitting 102 plus and you know what, it's tiring.
Last night I was able to actually lie down, which felt great. I only slept a few hours though before I woke and something was just "wrong". I had the worst headache of my life, was nauseous and just felt "wrong". It was kinda scary. J. sat up with me for about an hour on the couch while I forced myself to drink water . . . I suspect dehydration was a big part of this. I then slept off and on the rest of the night. Today, I just feel exhausted. I get to take a shower, which I know will feel wonderful. I HAVE to work tomorrow--this is my last day off, so I need to feel better faster, damn it!
My bandage is coming off today so I can wow my children with my incision and stitches. :) I am sure they will be thoroughly impressed.
So, keep sending good thoughts. I really need to get through this and it is taking far more from me than I had anticipated. Gee, maybe I"m getting older than I thought. . .

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Just a Note

Just a quick note to update those who wanted to know how the surgery went.
It went fine. They took out one gland==it was 25 times the usual size, so good thing, eh?
I have to admit, I wasn't really prepared for it to hurt this much afterwards. I can't lie down at all and am incredibly sore. My throat is torn up from the extra large breathing tube they used too. I'm taking pain pills but they just take the edge off. Last night, I fought a pretty good fever all night. It was still 102 when I got up this morning. Now it's down to 99 but I am sure am shakey.

This is not how I pictured my recovery time. I have work due on Monday and I'm going to have to feel a whole lot better than this before I can do it. I was hoping I'd be tired but comfortable. This ain't comfy, believe me. I feel like someone hit me in the neck with a baseball bat a few times.

Anyway, didn't come on to bitch. Actually just to update. Today is my 26th wedding anniversary too. I don't think we will do a lot of celebrating but we sure are grateful that we have each other.

More later when I'm a bit less feverish and more rested.

Thanks for the good thoughts you all sent--much appreciated.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Wish Me Luck!

Well, it is 10 pm. and I have have surgery in about 9 1/2 hours. I went to the pre-op today and went through blood tests, an EKG and typical exam stuff. All was well. Listened to the list of risks of the surgery (eek), how long things will take, what to expect and so on. Nothing surprising. I've done hours of research on the topic, so I didn't think anything would be.

So, I probably will not post for a bit. I have work to get back to ASAP and that will be my second focus. My first will be recovering. I plan to spend all of tomorrow, post surgery, napping and resting. I hope to do the same on Thursday and perhaps even on Friday. ON Saturday, I will begin doing some work and on Sunday, a bit more. OF course, my opinions on all of this may easily change once I have the actual surgery. Ha.

So tomorrow, I go into surgery at 7:30 Pacific time. If you can, send a prayer, think a good thought, cast the stones, dance around naked, bow your head, chant under the moon or whatever works for you and I am sure I will know it. Most of all, I am planning to close my eyes and think about my mom. I know that she will be there in spirit in any way possible. I can already feel her smiling at me.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Blown Away--Almost

I don't recall if I've mentioned it (and yes, am too lazy to scroll through all of my postings to find out) before, but since the end of August, my kids, hubby and I have been sleeping out on the upper deck. We have a queen air mattress out there and two futons. When we started, we just needed sleeping bags. As the months have progressed, however, we have added several layers as the temp drops.

It has truly been a rewarding experience. Being a "city girl", just sleeping out in a tent was all new to me. I enjoyed it though. I have to say that I like this better, however. I'm still close to the bathroom and if anything annoying arrives, like bugs or rain, I can quickly go inside. So far, that has only happened three times--and each one was rain. We just don't have bugs at our house.

It has somewhat transformed going to bed. I am not a morning person--I like the late night hours. However, going to bed is such a pleasure now, that I look forward to it. The air mattress is actually more comfortable than our regular bed. I love going out and feeling that sharp chill against my skin and then diving under the blankets. It reminds me of when I was a kid and I slept in an icy cold room (because it was where the house air conditioner was) and I was under tons of covers. Delicious.

So we are enjoying the adventure greatly. Last night, as has happened a couple of times before, we were hit with a wind storm. The back of our yard is lined with tall trees, pine and otherwise. When the wind comes, you can hear it approaching through the trees. It builds and builds and then crashes across the deck. As Nicole stated, it was like ocean waves. While it made sleeping difficult for this auditory person, it was also thrilling and exciting. I could almost imagine myself sleeping in a log cabin in some desolate prairie or on the deck of an ocean liner in the middle of a storm. Of course, we don't need to talk about what my hair looked like when I got up . . . .

Well, I have just about 68 hours now until the surgery. (Sorry, Susan) In that time, I have two more books to write, 13 educational items and one passage. My work is cut out for me indeed but at least I will keep busy. My work load after the surgery is growing fast also, so I am wishing for a very speedy recovery indeed.

When you go to bed tonight, think of me out on the deck, huddled under sleeping bags, snuggling as close as possible to my hubby to leech his warmth and listening to my children (two of them--the third sleeps in his room so he can stay up as late as he wants and we won't know) whisper in the darkness. Hopefully, none of us will get blown away.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

A Serious Case of CRS

For most of my life, one of the things I prided myself on was my ability to remember or recall things. Need a phone number you haven't used for months? Ask me cuz I will remember it. Need a person's name you briefly met last year? I know what it is. What was the title of that book you read last summer? I can tell you.

Well, no longer.

Maybe because of age--and mostly because of this damn hyperparathyroidism (HPT)--my memory seems to be full of gaping holes. Things that I usually remember without any effort are just beyond me these days. Last night, my son needed a password I had set up for him just a few weeks ago. I could not remember that password to save my life. Now I use the same two for everything but this one required throwing in a number and letter, etc, etc and I just could NOT recall what I used. I ended up more upset and frustrated than he was. This wasn't the first incident either. The other night I wrote about 1000 words and the computer lost them when I went to transfer them from one to another. I had to completely reconstruct them and it about killed me. I was in tears and it took me more than 30 minutes just to begin to rewrite it.

To make matters worse, when I run into something like this, it is almost impossible for me to let it "roll off my back". I have had more trouble controlling my frustration and tension levels than any other time in my life. I am a mellow person by nature. REALLY. But in the last few weeks, there are times I really have to fight not to act like . . . fill in the blank with your favorite word of choice. This too is a sign of the HPT. I keep telling myself that as soon as this surgery is over, I will be healthier, happier and able to remember things again.

Currently, it is about 92 hours until that surgery.
Can't tell I'm eager, can you?
I'd tell you more about it, but I can't remember what I wanted to say . . . .

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Of Rants and Raves

My husband is currently suggesting to me in his not so subtle fashion (i.e. repeatedly, loudly and frequently) that I need to start a second blog. This time it should be dedicated to ranting about the ups and downs of life as a freelance writer. This is probably out of self defense more than anything else. Right now the place I go to rant is HIM. I rant about editors who tell me one thing and expect another. I rant about editors who change their minds about something AFTER I've finished the assignment. I rant about editors who, six months or more after I have turned in a book manuscript email to ask me where I got the statistic at the bottom of page 54. I don't know! I've written a dozen books since then. I can't remember, so I have to dig through notes until I find it. I rant about editors who want revisions in 2 days even though they have had the manuscript for a year. Occasionally I rant about deadlines that I am not meeting, research that is impossible to find or interviewees who don't respond to my questions or phone calls. But, yea, mostly I rant about editors.

I have the best job in the world, mind you. I can do it at home, at my hours, in my pajamas. If I need to get up and run an errand in the middle of the day the only permission I need is my own. I get to be with my kids and answer their questions, attempt to solve their disputes and hug away hurts instead of doing it over the phone or when I get home that night. I really am lucky. But, it isn't all peaches and cream. I have dozens of bosses and man, can they be tempremental.

Recently, I had an editor say that I had written a part of a book about the differences between Christianity and Chinese superstitions with a clear bias towards the superiority of Christianity. If you know me well at all, you're already chuckling. Between the two, you can bet I would choose the Chinese superstitions.

I ranted for an hour over that one. Joseph listend with kindness and patience, with a mention of another blog every few minutes or so. But you know what? He also wrote me this really sweet little note and handed it to me while I was working. 26 years and he can still be so romantic. I put it up on my bulletin board. It's a reminder that even if I do start a new ranting blog, he will remain my favorite sounding board because blogs are nice, but Joseph offers sweet notes, soothing hugs and soft kisses. No competition.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

By Request: Once a Month Homeschooling

I was asked to explain my "once a month" homeschooling program I am doing with my kids, so here goes.

I developed this idea when my now 24 yr old was about 12 or so. She thrived on it, making these amazing posters, reports and essays--talented kid (still is!). However, as time passed and more kids came and time got shorter, I forgot all about it.

Last month, at the beginning of September, my youngest (12) came to me and ASKED for homework. (Yea, I know . . . . he's sommmme kid). We are pretty radical unschoolers but I could sense a need to purpose and direction in him, so I sat down and started working on it. As I did, I remembered the Once a Month thing I did years ago and I put it together for him. By the time I was done, I was inspired enough to do the same for the 17 yr old and the 15 yr old. (Nah, they weren't nearly as enthused and even shot the 12 yr old a few dirty looks, but it has actually worked out a lot better than they had figured.)

At the beginning of the month, I write out what I want each one of them to accomplish during the next 30 days. I tailor it to their preferences (one loves to read, one to write, etc.) but I also stretch them in directions they wouldn't normally go. I involve reading, writing, speaking, researching, drawing and everything else in each one's assignments, but I shift the emphasis depending on his/her interests. I categorize the assignments under typical educationalese titles (English, Reading, Math, etc.) but that's more for my benefit to make sure I am covering the basics. I work VERY hard to make sure everything they are doing is RELEVANT to life--no busy work allowed. Here are some of the most important things I do with these lessons:

(1) They are based on a point system. You earn/lose points depending on if you turn it in early, on time or late. You can also gain points by NOT skipping any of the lessons. I always state that each one can eliminate two activities of their choice. This gives them more autonomy. Of course, the ones they skip are likely to show up again somewhere down the line because I am sneaky that way. The points are used for a book at Border's, a meal out with just me, etc.

(2) They have 30 days to complete it. If they do it all in the first week, fine. The last two days, fine. They have to live with the consequences and that way they are learning time management.

(3) I strongly focus on making everything relevant. For example, none of them could write their names in cursive at all or if they did, it looked very childish. This had caused enough of a problem that my son turned down something he wanted to go to because he knew he would have to sign in and was embarassed. So, right now, they are practicing their signatures five times a day and already the change has been so significant they can easily see it.

(4) Each month, I ask them to provide me with a list of what they would like me to include--or NOT include--in the next month's lessons. I want them to have control over what I put in their lessons. No matter what it is, I follow up on it and get the info they need to learn more.

(5) I include activities like doing things together, making phone calls for information, researching ideas online, etc. It isn't just stuff they sit in their room and do.

(6) Each month, they have gone out together on the Max downtown to a bookstore and worked on their homework, helping each other if someone gets stuck. I can't begin to say how pleased I am to see that! What relationship lessons!!!!

(7) At the end of the month, they bring it to me and I go over each one individually to see what they have done. I ask questions, give feedback--and give them undivided attention--something that is rare around here.

(8) Part of each month's lesson is to read a book of their choice off one certain shelf in our house. All three of my kids rank reading right up there with eating and breathing, so convincing them to read is NO problem. However, they have their genres that they stick with and I want to expand that. All of the books I provide are either nonfiction or historical fiction. They can choose from more than 20 titles, so it is hardly limited. There are a few modern classics in there, some historical fiction, some autobiographies, etc. Again, this way, they have choice and that often makes all the difference.

(9) I try hard NOT to nag them. I want them to learn how to selfdiscipline and self monitor, so nagging would just negate that. Instead, about once a week or so, I slip a "Hmmmm, the month is half over already" or "How's the homework coming?" comment. In the first month, they all turned their work in on time. Two were three days early and the third came in minutes before midnight. It will be interesting to see how that does/does not change this month.

(10) We are always available to help. If they are stuck, confused, frustrated or lost, all they have to do is come to us and we sit down and help. Last time I did this with my oldest son, we finished and he grinned at me and said, "With you helping me, I feel like I could learn anything!" That's a statement I am not likely to forget for a long time.

I still strongly feel that we are completely unschooling but I also know that they are learning some material that they really need and will use. Can I keep this up amidst the coming surgery, holidays and work load? I sure hope so. Will they continue to like it? I sure hope so.

Did this post explain my method clearly?
I sure hope so.

Saturday, October 4, 2008


Remember the old game you could play in the car? If you spotted a VW Beetle, you'd say "Slug Bug!" and punch the person next to you. The person who saw it first got to do the punching. A sure fire hit with siblings in the back seat.
Of course, in Portland, one could get a broken arm if playing this too long. This city appears to be the mecca of VWs. We see--literally--at least a dozen types a day.
So, somehow, we have started a new tradition in our family.
Whenever we started spotting the occasional shopping cart sitting on the sidewalk, hiding in the bushes, toppled over in a driveway or filled with trash in an alley, one of us would shout, "CART!" It started off silly but it has grown over the last year. We have actually gotten quite creative. We have pondered, at length, mind you, about starting a business where we gathered all the carts we found in our trailer and then charged companies to return the missing carts to them. We figured we could make a pretty penny that way.
We have also gotten rather original in how we see the carts.
One perched half on the sidewalk and half on the street is a " cart living on the edge".
A cart pushed together with several others? A "cart orgy" of course.
A cart hidden back in the bushes? "Shy cart"
A cart toppled over on its side? "Downed cart!"
A cart of any color that isn't silver? "Minority cart!"
A row of carts? "Cart train"
Is it ridiculous? Yup.
Is it fun? You bet.
It's one of those strange things that we have developed as part of our family's traditions.
Someday, when our great-grandchildren ask why they play the "Cart Game", I hope someone is around who remembers--it started here.