Friday, June 30, 2006

How Did You Get Your Hair Like That?

I wear my hair spiked up in the back in a style that sort of looks like bed-head. In fact, a lady once told me, “honey, I wake up looking like that, and I work hard to fix it.”

I told her, “Well, don’t work so hard!”

This past weekend I was at a writer’s seminar, and another woman asked me, “How do you get your hair to do that?” It got me to thinking. Now here is a list of responses I can use:

How Did you Get Your Hair Like That?

1. I slept-walked through a car wash and didn’t wake up until “buff.”

2. A hummingbird forgot to stop flapping her wings before nesting there.

3. I thought I was walking on the fashion runway, and a fan was blowing my hair back, but I was actually on an airport runway and the prop plane was taking off.

4. I thought I was using hair glue to spike my hair. It was actually super glue.

5. I reached for the hair spray, but grabbed the spray starch by mistake.

6. My hairdresser told me to blow-dry my hair upside down. Do you know how hard it is for a 43 year old woman to hang from the monkey bars like that?

7. While watching cartoons, an ACME package arrived at my door. It was a lit stick of dynamite. I lived to tell about it, but my hair will never be the same.

8. My hairdresser said she was going to whip up a new hairstyle for me. I had no idea she would be using her Kitchen Aid!

Kathy Carlton Willis
Living Out Loud Communications and Manuscript Editorial Services

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

How Do We Cope?

Songs and bumper stickers often misrepresent the Christian Life, and mislead believers into thinking they will be happy all the time. Happy is merely a feeling associated with circumstances. It is difficult for any human being to experience happiness 24/7 when God also created other emotions. Even Jesus wept.

Perhaps a Country and Western song would be more appropriate for our journey: "I Never Promised You A Rose Garden." God didn't tell us life would be hunky-dory after we come to Him, He just assures us that He will be with us whether we are in a valley or on a mountain top, in the storm or viewing the rainbow.

This week, I've talked to others who have received bad news, and I personally have had trials. There are those who are dealing with family members who mock them. Doctors' offices have called patients with potentially serious test results. Business associates have undermined others in their industry. Grandparents are caring for grandchildren because the parents are absent or negligent. There are illustrations of trials everywhere you look. Being a Christian does not make us exempt from being hurt or afraid or burdened.

So, how do we cope?

First we pray. We ask God to help us to be willing to let go of our problems and let Him handle them. We seek His wisdom and His solace.

Then we recruit prayer support and encouragement from others. We find those who will empathize and let us lean on them. But we also give others permission to "be real" with us if we need an adjustment in our perspective.

We read God's Word for advice and allow scripture to mold our attitudes and actions. The Bible is as relevant today as when it was inspired.

And finally, we realize our expectations will not fully be met while we are living in this imperfect world, and that we contribute to this imperfect world with our own faults. We give others the benefit of the doubt. We recognize that bad things happen to good people. We become proactive and take responsibility for our own lives, to be lived out in a Christ-honoring fashion. We cope. Coping becomes surviving. Surviving leads to thriving. Thriving in the midst of bad news is the miracle. Not the rose garden, but learning to live out loud in spite of the thorns.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Air Licking

Jazzy (our 7 month old Boston Terrier) never ceases to amuse and amaze me. We left her with a friend for two nights while I was at the writers conference. I was afraid Jazzy would overwhelm Gail with attention and she would decide to never dogsit for us again. Instead, when we returned home, there was a note from her saying she fell in love with Jazzy and her antics, and that she was a KEEPER.

One of the amusing antics Jazzy performs is to drag her bed from our bedroom, out the tight doorway, into the hall, all the way to the great room when it is bedtime. She tosses it too and fro and tackles it like she is on a wrestling program. Then she settles into it, going in circles for a lap or two until she is curled up into the fetal position for naptime. Then she grabs a mouthful of the fleece material lining of her bed, as her "security blanket" until she falls asleep. No matter where she falls asleep, if there is a blanket or comforter or something, she will grab a mouthful for nappy time. Crazy girl.

Also, Jazzy likes to "air lick" when she is near anybody. She is hoping to make contact with any part of a human being with her kisses. If you come near her, her tongue is out, lapping the air until she can smooch you! Not just one smooch either. You have to tell her, "Jazzy-that's enough!" Then she goes on to the next amusing antic.

When my housecleaning crew is here, she is supposed to be "secured." So, I either put her in her kennel, or let her go outside. Jazzy is a drama queen for sure, and gets everyone to feel sorry for her. So she was outside the French Doors watching the two housecleaners, beseeching them with wails and sad looks to entice them to let her in. They asked me if she bites. I said, "No, she will just love you to death." The problem isn't that she is dangerous, but that she thinks they are here to see her. It's all about Jazzy, don't you know? They said I could let her in and not worry about the rule, but I explained that Jazzy would be in their way too much. So, when they were done, we let Jazzy in to greet them and she smothered both of them with kisses. I'm glad she loves everyone and everyone loves her.

We picked a KEEPER!

Monday, June 26, 2006

My Husband Came Home With 25 y.o. Hispanic

You have to know that my husband always kids me by saying his next wife will be a younger Hispanic woman. We both love the Hispanic/Latino culture and have many friends with those roots.

I went to a Writers Seminar this past weekend. One of the Spanish-speaking women approached me and asked if I was Hispanic or Latino. I think my first comment was, "I WISH!" and then I said, "no, I'm sorry." She was looking for a buddy to attend the Spanish-related classes. I had not signed up for those workshops or I would have gone with her.

Then at dinner, a woman asked how long I had been married. I told her it will be 25 years this year. She had a look of shock on her face. Then she apologized (she realized she had lost that "professional edge") and said she knew it was wrong to ask, but exactly how old WAS I? She said she was guessing I was around 25 years old but she knew that had to be wrong. She was surprised when I said I was 43!

A young lady later on asked me if I was her age. I told her I was 43, and she said she thought I was 25! Haha!

Then, when the conference was over, Russ picked me up, and he had 100 Grand waiting for me. No, not cash, a candy bar.

So, Russ was joking that he brought a 25 year old Hispanic gal home from the conference, and I joked that I brought home 100 Grand!

You gotta have some fun in life!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Stopped In Traffic

"Look at that gal talking with her hands," I thought with curiosity. Inquisitive Kathy was at work again, noticing people living life out loud. "Wait a minute, she's not in a discussion, she is doing hand motions. Maybe she is using sign language."

All the time I was observing the girl in the car next to me at the stop sign, I was humming along with the radio. They were playing the praise song, "Lord I Lift Your Name On High." My thoughts drifted (as they are prone to do) to a previous youth service, remembering the touching motions that went with the song.

Then it dawned on me. I glanced over to the car next to me again, and I realized the driver was singing the same song I was singing, and she was also doing the motions, modified for driving. I was inspired to think that we were two women of many in that metropolitan area, tuned in to the same Christian radio station, singing the same song in our cars, along a busy mall road. What is the likelihood of that happening? I don't know the odds, but I do know that others probably thought WE were ODD!

I'm guessing God was blessed by our impromptu worship. "Where two or three are gathered in my name..." We weren't meeting in a church building, but we were together in our focus on God in the middle of our busy days. He wasn't just relegated to Sundays, but was invited into our daily lives.

We can also pray in our cars, as long as we don't close our eyes. I know someone who looks at flash cards to memorize Bible verses while he is driving, but I don't recommend it. Let's keep our eyes on the road, while our hearts and minds visit with God. Even rush hour won't seem so dreadful when we realize we have company on the road.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Kentucky Christian Writers Seminar

This Thursday through Saturday I'll be attending the Kentucky Christian Writers Seminar in Elizabethtown, KY. I was awarded a work scholarship to attend. In exchange for free tuition I will help with the bookstore and registration, or whatever else needs done.

I hope to make lots of contacts while there. I heard from a writer who attended last year that she has had 60 writing assignments from last year's seminar. I would LOVE to be able to report that next year! I made up business cards to distribute and also some booklets with editing tips. I'll sell the booklets and the "Groovy Chicks' Road Trip To Peace" book (it contains one of my articles) at my book table. I've purchased various candies and taffy to have at my table to lure the shoppers to come my way.

I'll be attending various seminar sessions with editors of various publications. I will be like a sponge, soaking up all the tips they teach. I have packed plenty of paper, folders with pockets, pens, and highlighters for the event.

My prayer is that God will open the doors He wants me to walk through with my writing and editing, and more importantly, if there is someone there He wants me to be a blessing to, that He will show me how to encourage them. Will you pray with me towards that end?

Uncle Skillet

NOTE: I wrote my Aunt Deanna (paternal aunt) today, and that note became a seed-thought for this post.

My Aunt Virginia (paternal aunt) recently lost her husband. He passed away at the age of 90. I always knew him as "Uncle Skillet." A week after the funeral, I called her to see how she was doing, and had the best conversation. She shared a lot with me to make me feel like I was there for the funeral, and we had a precious conversation. Almost as good as a hug.

I wish I could have known Uncle Skillet better. He was age 47 when I was born, and often allowed others to talk when we were at family gatherings so I rarely heard him speak. But when he did say something, we all paid attention, sort of like "E. F. Hutton." He adored Aunt Virginia and almost always deferred to what she wanted. I got the impression that Aunt Virginia amused him. He would do anything for her. What a husband!

He stayed young for so long. It's hard to believe he was 90 at his time of death. He could do anything the men in the family could do, even though he was a bit older. And probably the best thing I appreciated about him was that he passed on the same graciousness and kindness to Grandma Mary that he gave Aunt Virginia. He was so good to her! And she seemed flattered by Uncle Skillet's attention. It was a special relationship, for sure.

I could learn from him, to have more patience, to listen more, and defer to the wishes of others.

He lived a long full life. My prayers are extended to the Wornica family during the time of their loss.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Burritos For Lunch

Okay, so maybe you can tell that I was dreading going to the grocery store on a Saturday, so I'm stretching our groceries a little further. For lunch today I wanted burritos, but I didn't have any cheese, so I decided to make a green chili burrito. It's so easy I hate to call it a recipe, but it is a new discovery for me.

I browned a pound of hamburger. I drained it well and rinsed out the skillet. I added the browned burger back to the pan and added a 7 oz can of Herdez brand Salsa Verde. The ingredients in the canned Verde include: Tomatillos, Onions, Serrano Peppers, Salt and Cilantro. The "heat" factor is almost to the hottest stage on their scale. I also added some dried onion and seasoned with Tony Chachere's. That's it! I heated up a burrito size flour tortilla in the microwave between two dinner plates. The best part of a good burrito is to roll it so both ends are sealed in and the meat doesn't fall out. Russ thinks this is magic because he can't figure out how to do it. It really isn't that hard, but it's nice to be appreciated!

We eat burritos filled with leftovers a lot. Or we put breakfast in a burrito for any meal of the day. Flour tortillas are a staple in our home!

RECIPE: Noodle Kuchen

My Granny and Mom were both so good at cooking whatever they had available, rather than running to the store all the time. They taught me not to be afraid to experiment with food. Well, I tried something new, with leftovers, today.

I'd been reading about noodle pudding or noodle kuchen. But I didn't exactly have all the ingredients of any one recipe. So I made my own. I didn't really measure, since I was throwing it together, but these are approximate measurements. I encourage you to look in your refrigerator and pantry to see what you can whip up today.

Mix together:
1-2 cups leftover quality noodles (Amish style)
1/4-1/3 cup half-and-half
1/3-1/2 cup cottage cheese
2 oz. cream cheese
2 eggs
1/3 cup sugar

Top with:
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsps. butter

Bake for about 40 minutes at 350 degrees. Tastes good hot or cold. Similar to a baked custard or a rice pudding. Serves 4-6

I Broke The Rules

Russ says there is a hospitality rule that you shouldn't try out new recipes on guests. This Monday I broke that rule six times. I think that is a record! I made Ropa Vieja (A Cuban beef and vegetable dish that means rotten clothes), Sofrita (a basic mix to season Cuban dishes, with cilantro, various peppers, roma tomatoes, onion, and lots of garlic cloves), black beans and rice, green fluff, angel biscuits, and flan with real whipped cream.

To greater offend the rules of hospitality, I thrust said menu onto guests new to our home: Gail Hodges and Robert Muchmore. I did warn them though-so does that count as being the hostess with the mostest?

We had an absolutely hilarious time of fellowship, falling into the comfortable camaraderie of companionship. Two couples who each like the other three. How hard is that to find?!

They endured my trial recipes and even declared them keepers (except for the flan which was "different.") The endured my exuberant Boston Terrier even more. Actually, Jazzy was well behaved while we ate, sleeping nearby. But she was the after-dinner entertainment! They discovered why we declare Jazzy "brilliant," as they were equally impressed with her skills and personality.

We planned to play some games, but discussion got in the way. Isn't friendship good that way?

I Thought I Saw My Dad!

Yesterday, I saw my dad driving the car in front of me, as we were stopped at a traffic light. As soon as I thought it, my heart fluttered, and then I remembered that my dad had passed away--nineteen years ago! Can a heart really hold on to a memory that long? It can, where there is love.

My Daddy had a distinct profile from behind! You see, he was a little on the short side (about 5'9" or 5'10" I'm guessing). He had wavy hair on the top of his head, and the sides were cut close at the temples. But the most distinguishing characteristic was that his ears stuck out just a little bit. Enough to differentiate him from other men, when you saw him from behind.

So, you can see why I thought this man in the car in front of me was my dad, if even for a second. It made me miss Dad so much. I felt cheated to lose my father when I was only 24. Life was just getting going for me, and I really wanted to share it with him.

This Father's Day, as always, my heart will be filled with fond memories of Charles Edward Carlton, also known as Charlie or Carl.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


• Their wallets contain more photos of their children than of their wives and even their favorite cars.

• If their children do something right, they take all the credit, but when they mess up, they tell their wives, "YOUR child did such-and-such."

• They puff up their chest with pride when their teen son starts to date, but they get the shotgun out when any hormone-raging male comes within 50 feet of their precious daughter.

• They act all tough around their co-workers (gangsta handshake and bad-mouthin the ol ball-n-chain), but when Daddy's Lil’ Gal comes in the room, hearts turn to jello.

• They can fix anything with duct tape. (And it's a good way to hide any leftover screws from critical view.)

• They have a second chance at fulfilling all their life dreams, this time through the lives of their children. Football star? Think potential scholarship. Math wiz? Potential business executive. Computer geek? Potential software designer.

• They are no longer dressed by their wives, but by their teenage daughters who inform them which shirts are disgusting and which ties are an embarrassment.

• Their home theaters or dens have been turned into a fourth bedroom for that nine-month surprise.

• They hate the kids' slumber parties, but when all the kids are sleeping over at their friends' houses, dads are happy campers.

• You can find them crying at weddings-weddings of their little girls all grown up. They'll act like something is in their eyes, but we know it is actually pride mixed with sadness. Just where did those precious years go?

This list is a tribute to fathers everywhere. You may have your quirks, but that's what makes you so special. You make us smile. Your strong character traits amaze and inspire us.

My father passed away 19 years ago, and his impression remains strong on my heart and in my memories. I thank God for his influence in my life. Let's spend this weekend thanking God for our fathers, and letting dads know why they are a blessing to us.

Monday, June 12, 2006

My Can-Can Was Jarred!

My dumb luck! ("if it weren't for bad luck I'd have none at all," is the quote I remember hearing from a famous comedien!):

I was having the house cleaned for the second time today by the cleaning company. The first time, my puppy was at the vet, so there were no problems. I'm supposed to keep the puppy secured and out of their hair at all times. I tried putting her down in her dog run, with access via doggy door to the laundry room. She dug out of the dog run and ran to the French doors wanting in. Crying with a pitiful wail. I blocked where she dug out, and put her back in the dog run, and then she cried harder. I tried putting her in the crate, but she went crazy (because she KNEW we were home). She is quite the drama queen. Since she still has stitches from her surgery, I was concerned she would harm herself trying to find a way to be with the humans. So I decided to let her join me in my office, which is not cleaned by the crew.

She needed comforting, so she climbed up in my lap while I was in the desk chair with rollers. She climbed higher and higher, until she was wrapped around the back of my neck and shoulders like a living fur stole. I tried to put her down, but the chair got out of balance, and fell backwards. I crashed to the floor with a puppy leg stuck down my blouse and the rest of the puppy clinging with as much might as she could muster. The impact, as you can imagine, was quite jarring. I hurt. That's an understatement.

Can you believe my luck? I dont' really believe in "luck" but you know what I mean.

What a crazy day. I'm sure it was a hilarious sight. Now Jazzy is fast asleep with her nose stuck to the crack in the door, so she can sniff the other humans in her domicile!

Friday, June 09, 2006

Sad Commentary on Life

Today I was mixing and mingling with several others at physical therapy (patients and therapists are all in one great big room). I overheard two guys talking about the books they like to read. They mentioned books like "The Shining" and "The Firm." One of them said his wife was always on his case that he needed to pick up the Bible once in a while. His quote, "I do pick up the Bible once in a while, to squash bugs."

How sad to think he finds that the best use of a Bible, when there are believers and seekers all over the world who memorize large portions of scripture and then trade the few Bible pages they can afford with other believers because they do not have ready or affordable access to a Bible.

Even if the Bible is read as a literary book rather than as Holy Scripture, it is a superb example of writing. It has something for everyone!

Grateful Gratitude List

My gratitude list for Friday:

1. I'm grateful to have a Lord who wishes to be intimate with me, rather than one who is too busy for me or stopped being active in the lives of humans "thousands and thousands" of years ago. I just wish I was more focused on being intimate with HIM. I'm not as close as I want to be, because I don't spend the time I need to spend in deepening that relationship MORE.

2. I'm grateful for my friend Stacy who gave me a LARGE pile of clothes (it took the entire back section of my minivan). And even more excited for her, for losing 70 pounds (and still losing)!

3. I'm grateful for daytime naps. Where would I be without them?

4. I'm grateful for honeysuckle. It is blooming in shades of yellow mixed with white, with a fragrance out of this world. I keep a few stems of it in a vase, and just throw it out as it wilts and start over so I have a little bit of Spring indoors.

5. I'm grateful for a piece of land we are just discovering behind our backyard fence. We own it, but it has been so overgrown we have never walked through it. Russ is weed-wacking a couple of paths through the "wilderness," a little at a time, until we get to our creek. How fun is this adventure!

6. I'm grateful Russ was able to "find" and "undelete" a few photos from the Children of the World weekend. I thought they were lost forever. We didn't get back all the photos, but the few we retrieved we will cherish!

Thursday, June 08, 2006

What Being Strong Means

I read this quote today on Carol Feistel's blog (please pray for husband Malcom Feistel, missionary in hospice now with cancer). This quote is a keeper:

***Being strong: Giving up so God can take over.***

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

The Undo Program

We discovered a great new free computer program to retrieve data that was deleted by mistake. It's almost like the "easy" button that one office supply store sells, only it is the "undo" button. This program allowed me to retrieve some precious photos that were deleted by mistake when my computer harddrive died. I thought these photos were gone forever, so you can imagine my joy when they were returned to my computer screen, good as new. I'm grateful for that program, but it made me think of other things I wish I could undo.

Oh if only I could undo some of the silly and stupid things I've done in my life. I would take back some words said, react differently to aggravating circumstances, and just plain ol' DO BETTER. But, unfortunately, I can't undo what has been said and done. I CAN do better today. And tomorrow. And the next day.

The only One who has the powers of ERASE is our Lord Jesus Christ. It isn't a special computer program that erases our sins so He sees them no more. It is the price He paid with His blood on the cross at Calvary. All we have to do is admit we messed up (like I had to admit when those photos were deleted) and accept the free gift (just like getting that free software program). I'm so glad God is willing to erase my errors and see instead the goodness of His perfect Son.

But you know what? Even though that He sees the purity of Jesus instead of my sin, I am motivated to want to do better. I don't have to do better to earn the program or to erase the bad stuff, but I want to do better because of this gift.

Just like I want to be more careful with my computer data, even though I know there is a program to undo the error, I want to be careful with my words and my actions. And even though I can't undo what was done in the past, I can attempt to repair the damage by approaching the ones I've let down. If I go to them with a humble attitude of remorse and let them know just how sorry I am, maybe I have a chance for a do-over.

I'm so glad God has granted me a do-over, and He has even erased what was done in the past so I can have a clean slate. I want to use that fresh start responsibly. To glorify Him.

Today is a new day!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Pray for Wornica Family

I found out that my Uncle Skillet (Lynn Wornica) passed away at the age of 90 on May 25th. He was a veteran of WWII and was buried with military honors on May 30. So fitting to be buried the day after Memorial Day, when each grave was decorated with the American Flag. Uncle Skillet would have loved that!

Those grieving are my Aunt Virginia, and their children Dennis, Gary, and Valinda. Not to mention extended family and friends.

To add to this prayer request, Gary's mother-in-law (Betina's mother) passed away and Gary found out about that on June 3rd. As a couple, I can't imagine what it is like to lose both a mother and father within a week.

Our hearts go out to the entire family.

I can especially relate to Valinda because I know what it is like to lose a daddy. No matter what age, it is hard.

Let us focus on the many fond memories and celebrate the fullness of life!

Friday, June 02, 2006

Mistaken Identity

My heart hurts for the two families involved in the Indiana case of mistaken identity. I can't even imagine. Of course, I'm talking about the two college girls involved in a multi-casualty auto accident. One survived the wreck, but arrived at the hospital with the other girl's identification.

Can you imagine being the family of the girl who had really died? They had sat by this other girl for five weeks, encouraging her to heal. Now they have to deal with the idea that their daughter has really been dead for weeks, and go through the motions of a funeral, after they exhume the body and transport it to their burial ground choice.

Can you imagine being the family of the girl who had survived? They were grieving for five weeks when they could have been at their daughter's side. But now, their daughter, who once was "dead" is now alive! Oh what joy!

And most of all, can you imagine being the girl who lived? As she started coming to, from what I understand, there were a couple of weeks before she communicated her name that she was agitated. How frustrated she must have been to have the wrong family surrounding her bed, and the wrong boyfriend calling her name. And even before that, when she was in a coma, I can't help but wonder if she would have come out of it sooner if she had heard the loving voices of her own family by her bed.

No matter, what is, is, and now the wrongs have been righted. But who pays for the funeral service that has already been held? The family who is now grieving didn't have the comfort of that time, but the family who originally paid for it didn't really need the service they were given. So many details for everyone to work out.

It's just one of those incidents that causes you to scratch your head in wonder. I'm surprised, when bodies are disfigured, that this doesn't happen more often, since purses with identification are often strewn yards from the wreckage.

My prayers go out to these two families, and to the college campus.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Friday With The Girls-Part 2

(Continued from previous post)

We sat down to eat dinner, our first meal together. Happy ate with zeal, trying some of everything. She especially enjoyed the homemade macaroni and cheese, and asked "What is the crunchy stuff on top?" She was good at figuring out dishes. I explained it was crushed crackers.

At that point, Hope asked, "Auntie, do you have some plain crackers, please?" She was a picky eater, but could fill up on saltine crackers and milk. She did eat strawberries, and a few bites of chicken tenders, but that was about it. Happy ate it all, firsts, seconds, and even thirds!

While we were eating, Jazzy stayed outside, watching inside through the French Doors. We decided to let the girls get to know Jazzy by taking her for a walk in the park.

Funny, the girls, the same ones who were a bit hesitant about being near a dog, thought she was great fun on a leash in a park. Happy even begged to walk the dog, and enjoyed every bit of it.

We then took the girls to the playground, and they enjoyed the various swings, slides, balance beams, and more. I photographed them like a silly tourist, taking shot after shot of these jubilant girls.

Our great fun was interrupted by poor Happy's belly. She started cramping up and begged for a bathroom. I took her to the porta-potty, She said, "Auntie, what is Porta-Potty?" I told her it was a metal room with a toilet.

"Does it flush?"

"No baby, it is just an outdoor bathroom. You might have to hold your nose."

When I opened the door to the mysterious metal closet, Happy's eyes widened and she said, "Oh, Auntie, Please, No! May I go somewhere else!"

We begged Russ to rush to get the car, parked far away, and speed us home, just five minutes away. I'm not sure what the bathroom traditions are of little girls in Uganda, but I do know that they told me they had to squat rather than sit when in Uganda. Perhaps they had gotten "soft" in their year in the United States. What little girl wouldn't, when given the opportunity?

After the bathroom visit, and I realized her symptoms, I gave her some berry flavored Tums. She liked them quite well. Good thing, with her eating pleasures! haha! I love a girl who loves food!

We left Jazzy at home, and hopped back in the van to go to the movie rental place to get some movies for our weekend (since we didn't have cable or satellite dish). It was funny to watch the girls in the movie rental store. They had seen every movie fit for little girls to see. We grabbed three, and also purchased some movie-style microwave popcorn. It came in the tubs found at movie theatres. It was funny to see their eyes.

"Auntie, where is the popcorn?"

"It is here, I promise. We will make it pop up in the microwave."

"Will it go BOOM too?"

"No. Just wait and see. You will like it."

They knew they liked popcorn (they both love salty things), but they couldn't understand how it would magically appear in these tubs. It was pretty cool to see their faces!

We watched Ice Princess, and it was quite good. Hope knew every line, and often said the lines along with the actors. I asked them not to tell me what was going to happen, especially if I would be sad or happy, but they told me anyway. It was their way of introducing me to one of their friends, in a way.

During the movie, Jazzy was so good to just lay around near the kids, without bugging them (much). It was neat to see how gentle she was with them.

Then it was time for bed. They begged to stay up later. Of course! I told them we would get a glass of water to drink, would use the restroom, and would have no excuses for delaying bedtime. After they were in their jammies, I said a word of prayer with them on their bed. It was a precious time.

Amazing. In just a few short hours, I fell in love with these girls as if they were born from my own womb. What a bright light they are.

(More to come later.)

Saturday With The Girls From Uganda

I was awakened by Happy, knocking on my door. She was correct about waking at 7 a.m. And she wakes up as well as she goes to sleep-Happy! She asked, "Auntie, what may I do?"

I picked up her pillow and a blanket, and let her curl up in her P.J.s on the couch, watching cartoons. She said, "Auntie, you do TOO have Disney. Look!" I had to explain that ABC uses many Disney children's shows for Saturday mornings. No matter what channel, we were glad to have something on to watch as we waited for the day to begin.

Soon, Hope joined us, and they were glad I wasn't making them jump right into the shower to start their day so early. I offered them French Toast for breakfast. Happy said, "Please Auntie, no cinnamon, sugar, or syrup." She ate hers with salt (her favorite seasoning and condiment!). Hope did not want French Toast, and also did not wish to have the seven kinds of cereal I offered her (don't ask me why I had so many kinds!). So, since the group sponsor told the hosts the kids were taught not to be picky, I decided to scramble the rest of the egg for her, and give her some toast. She ate the toast and a bite of egg with salt. And milk. Milk was the hit of the day.

We made deals about getting showers and dressing for the day. The deadline wasn't strict. We just had to be ready to go by noon. That was when "Uncle" came home from work. We headed for Newport on the Levee. First we ate at Johnny Rockets. The girls wanted two beverages, and we indulged them. Hope wanted French Fries, a shake, and milk. We ordered her a hot dog too, and she ate it once it showed up at her spot. Happy ordered a Cheeseburger with almost everything-she loves tomatoes, but not pickles. Fries. A shake, and an orange soda pop. She is a good eater! I have to confess that people gave us funny stares-these two very dark girls, loving on these two very white adults they called Auntie and Uncle. Let them stare!

I took Hope to the restroom, and enjoyed being in the stall next to her. All I saw were her feet, but I could hear everything. She hummed along with the fifties-style music, and her feet started dancing (while her bottom stayed planted on the toilet). Then she could hardly contain herself and she started clapping too. This little 52 pound eight-year-old has seen more suffering than most humans will ever know their entire lives, yet she knows how to be joyful. No matter what, we need to let our spirits DANCE!

After lunch, we watched a street magician and then walked halfway across the Purple People Moving Bridge-a pedestrian only bridge that spans the Ohio River, joining Cincinnati with Newport, KY. The girls enjoyed the view, and we took great photos (if we can get my camera memory card restored to undelete the photos we lost when my computer harddrive died).

Next was the Newport Aquarium. It was okay, but not as WOW as I expected. The girls liked it. Lots of people though, due to it being Memorial Day Weekend. The big feature was the sharks, but we liked other things better, like the jelly fish and the rays.

We took the scenic river route home. I pointed out a dock for the ferry to cross. Happy said, "Auntie, there are no such things as fairies (thinking I said fairy rather than ferry). They are make-believe." I explained the difference between ferry and fairy. But then I asked Happy how she knew there was no such thing as fairies. She said, "because we went to Disney and saw the wires on Tinkerbell helping her fly. She's not REALLY a fairy." Smart girl, she!

On the way home I suggested we make up relay stories. I made up a sentence and hand off to Hope. She continued to create the story and then hand off to Happy. And then back to me. On and on it went and we had great fun. Some of it was at "Uncle's" expense. According to the story, he landed in jail, where there was not enough hair gel for his spiky white hair, followed by the fact that he ran out of hair for his gel! They loved him, all right!

We went home to check on Jazzy, and walked her at the park again (the girls requested it). More photos, and more playground equipment.

Did I tell you about the rocks game? Hope clutched five small rocks in her hand almost the entire time she was with us. She played a game similar to jacks with the rocks. Actually there were two different ways to play. One was to throw the rocks up and then try to catch a certain number on the top of your flat hand. The other was to lay the rocks on the ground. Throw one in the air, then try to snatch up one rock from the group, then the one thrown in the air before it hits the ground. Then snatch up two and the thrown rock. Then three. And finally, four. I wasn't good at either game, but Hope was an experienced player. I think those rocks kept her company. Maybe they were almost like her pet rocks.

Then, we talked about different choices for a restaurant to eat out that night, or I would cook. The girls asked for Chinese food. We went to a buffet, that happened to have a seafood buffet that night. Happy showed us all up by eating: sushi, mussels, crab legs, and shrimp cooked two ways. Russ introduced her to frog legs and crawfish. She ate it all and declared it was all good! She found other yummy treats as well. Hope wasn't as hungry, but she enjoyed some rice and noodles, and ice cream for dessert. I asked her what her favorite meal was back home. She said it was rice and beans. What she didn't tell me was, it was what she ate almost every meal. What she did say was, "Oh Auntie, our beans are the best. They are a certain kind of bean, grown a certain way, and cooked special. I love them!" Now what a positive attitude to have! Maybe she is afraid to let herself enjoy too much of the American food because she is afraid it will be too much "culture shock" to go back home to poverty and basic meals.

Speaking of Chinese food-around this time Hope declared that she knew three languages. Happy said, "you do not!"

Hope said, "I do too. I know English, and Ugandan, and British."

You would think Happy was her biological sister, because she corrected Hope. "No silly, they speak English there too!"

We sure had a good chuckle over it, though. I guess I'm bilingual and didn't even know it. Tee hee!

Back home, we watched one more movie while we performed manicures and pedicures. The girls dance barefoot as part of the program, so I gave them a nice natural buff color. Happy loved getting her nails done. Hope wanted to do them herself-little miss independent. But we had to tell her that she wasn't allowed to use the nail polish remover or nail polish in the living room. She had a choice between going to the dining room table where there would be less chance for spills, or Auntie or Uncle would do it for her. She took about twenty minutes to finally conclude she wanted Auntie to do her nails. And she was quite proud of them once they were complete!

Remember how I said Happy said she loved dogs but didn't want them to kiss her (lick her)? Well, on Saturday night I noticed Happy and Jazzy were both missing. And quiet. I looked down the hall, and found Jazzy on her back, feet straight up in the air. And Happy was bent over her, planting kisses on her LIPS! haha! It was priceless. They were best buds.

It was bedtime again. I couldn't believe this was my last night with these two precious little girls, so full of life. Wise beyond their years due to the pain and suffering they have endured. They begged to stay up later, saying the sun was still out. It was 9:00 p.m., and they had a strict Saturday night bedtime to be fresh for Sunday performance. We plopped on top of their bed (after Hope bounced up and down on the mattress a few more times, watching her image in the mirror). Bedtime prayers were said. Hugs were shared. And me to my bed, a blessed woman.

Friday With The Girls-Part One

I waited with anticipation to be assigned my girls. These girls are with World Help's "Children of the World." We were given two girls from Uganda, age 8 and 10. I'm not sure if I can use their real names here, as some of this information may be considered sensitive. So I will call them Hope and Happy.

As we drove home, we all asked the usual questions to get acquainted.

Happy asked, "Do you have children?" and "Do you have Disney channel?"

Hope mostly just sat there, quiet and small. Hard to know what had happened in her life to bring her to this point. We were not told their backgrounds, and were instructed not to ask because it might be too painful for them to talk about.

We asked them if they liked dogs, because we needed to introduce them to our 6-month old Boston Terrier, Jazzy. Happy said, "I like dogs. But NO kisses. Happy doesn't like dogs, though."

We didn't know what would happen this weekend, but Jazzy would have to be second fiddle to these girls, for sure.

We showed the girls their room, and their bathroom. They asked if they could change out of their traveling clothes (windsuits with their logo and name on it so we could learn their names quickly). Hope pulled out a cute skooter skirt and top. It was a brand new outfit-she wore it Friday night and all day Saturday. She was so tickled to get it. And it was in her favorite color-YELLOW. What a perfect color to represent this precious child.

I fixed a picnic meal for dinner-only we decided to eat it at the house and THEN go to the park. While preparing deviled eggs, Happy asked me, "What are you doing?" I explained that I was making deviled eggs. She asked, "Auntie, what do you put in it?" I told her it would have the egg yolk, mixed with mustard and mayonnaise and seasonings. She said, "Please, Auntie, no mustard."

As we talked she helped me take the eggshell off of one egg. She noticed her egg was pockmarked, rather than smooth. I have to wonder if she sabotaged it on purpose so she could ask the next question. "Auntie, I'm hungry. May I eat this egg now?" I told her she could. Then she asked, "Heat it?"

"No baby, we can't heat it now."

"Why not? Put it in the microwave."

"It will explode."

"What is eggsplode?"

"It means the egg might go boom, and fly into many pieces."

"No boom. No eggsplode. I show you." Happy took the egg and put it in the microwave and started to program it to cook. I told her we could try it for just 20 seconds on half power.

In spite of my precautions, guess what? The egg went BOOM! Happy thought this was great fun; better than television. We had a big laugh as she said, "eggsplode, eggsplode!" Russ tried to clean up the mess, but Happy kept grabbing the big pieces as he tidied up. But then she had one last question. "Salt?" It would not be the last time to ask for extra salt this weekend.

Lots to Post

What a crazy week this has been. So crazy, I will post some "venting" posts here because I know you all can relate to the run-around of Life. Perhaps you have your own "vents" you will want to post in the comments section. Post away!

Most of you know I've been dealing with some health problems for a while, and most recently with my back problems flaring, as well as some bladder problems. So I will post about that stress.

I had some good things happen with my writing, so I will post about that in a different note.

One of the good things that happened recently was hosting 2 girls from Uganda in our home for a weekend. We absolutely loved it, and would have adopted them if we would have been allowed to. I journaled about our time, but before I could post it here, I lost my harddrive, and lost it. I had recently backed up my computer, but did not get this journal saved. Also lost all the beautiful photos I took on my digital camera. We are hoping to restore some of the photos, by purchasing a special program. I will type up my journal again, and post it, to share this great experience of hosting the girls with you all.

Some of you may have read bits and pieces of this information in letters. I'm sorry for the repeats, but this is the best way to get caught up.

As always, I appreciate you!


I went to start a new round of physical therapy today (Wednesday), based on my doctor's latest findings, and ended up with more restrictions than I expected. I cannot do any lifting or bending and must lie prone every 2-3 hours for at least 15 minutes with an ice pack. The position is crucial to take the pressure off the nerves to my legs, and I'm to avoid being in a C-curve at all (bent forward is bad, bent backward is good).

I have a Tea this weekend, so I'm having to delegate even more of my catering and decorating work. Women have been great in offering to help, so I have no complaints at all! In fact, our Sunday School class is coming this Friday night to help decorate (even the men) and then we will go out to eat. They are awesome!

The therapist today said it is essential I get on top of this, to try to avoid the spinal cord stimulator surgery. No fooling! He said that is a very serious, invasive surgery, with many risk factors, and IT is the BEST of my options if the p.t. doesn't work. But so far, at least no cane! yay! I've been overdoing it because I hate to be forced to slow down, but every day the pain worsens so I know I must behave and listen to the doctor's orders (as much as it pains me to slow down).

Your prayers mean the world to me!

Truly Crazy To Be A Patient!

This has been another one of those crazy medical office mishap kind of weeks. The kind we read about and commiserate with each other about. I figured I'd send this on to you, so you could scratch your head along with me...

I went to my internist last Friday to give a urine culture. It normally takes 3 days, but due to Memorial Day, it would be Tuesday before I had results. The doc apologized for this, but said to be sure to call in that day to find out what is going on. And she gave me a plan of what to do if it was positive (she gave me a script) and if it was negative (to call a urologist about possible Interstitial Cystitis).

I called Tuesday and they said the doc wasn't in. I said I realize she only works Wed-Fri, but she told me to call in and get my results (her other associates cover for her). They said that was impossible-to call back the next day. I said she said to call in, and they said it was too bad, I would have to wait until Wednesday.

But then just an hour later, they called and left word on my answering machine that the culture was inconclusive, and I needed to come in for another culture. They told me to call their office to set it up.

I called the office, and they said they had no record that I was to call in, and that I must have gotten confused, and it was the lab upstairs who called me. No, I listened to the machine again, and it was definitely the doc's office. But they told me I must have had it wrong.

I called the lab, and they said they had no such orders. I called my doc's office back and got voice mail, and said I needed to set up the culture. They called me back and said all I needed to do was come in, go upstairs to the lab, and they would have my orders.

So, Wed. morning I went to the lab, and they said they had no such order. I told them I had limited time due to another appointment and could I just leave a sample for a culture, and we would straighten it out later. They said the doc's office NEVER sends up orders, that I must pick it up downstairs. They let me leave a sample, and then go downstairs to get it. Keep in mind, that I would now have to wait until Monday for results, due to the weekend, so I went from possibly having a simple UTI to waiting for results 11 days from start to finish.

I went downstairs to get the order, and they searched three different piles of orders and couldn't find my order. They said I would need to take a seat and they would call someone to find out what was going on. I told them I had no time to sit down, and could they please, when they found the order that I was told the day before was already called up to the lab, could they walk it up themselves, or fax it up, because I had no time to deal with it, or I'd be late for my physical therapy.

I got home from therapy, and there was a message on my machine. The doc was now in the office, had read my previous test, and said there is no significant bacteria, so I needed to call the urologist if I was still having symptoms. Does this mean it jumped from "inconclusive" to "negative" or what? And why did they call me to have me come back in, if I didn't need to? Frustrating!

So, I called the urologist. I set up to come in for an appointment. The last question, after being on with them for ten minutes, was what insurance I had. I told them I had Humana. They said they didn't accept Humana. I explained that I knew they were out of network, but I would just pay the out of network price. She said, no, you don't understand. We refuse to see patients who have Humana.

So, I'm back to square one after all this run-around.

It is truly crazy being a patient, isn't it?