1. It has been a while since I have blogged. Life has been so very full lately and there has only been time to dash off a few lines on Facebook. I run into folks all along who say they miss my blogging. And, I miss it. Plus, I miss keeping in touch with friends around the country. So, I am going to try getting some posts up in a more timely fashion.
2. I have had to be on several medications to be able to function in the outside world. Things like walking and bending and picking things up…it is very hard without some help. But, as a side effect of this, I have gained weight. And, I do not like it. I know what I look like, however, and do not need anyone reminding me of the fact, as someone did TODAY. I am trying to come off on one of the meds now and it will take about 3 months to get off completely. I am coming off only because of my weight. If I can’t function, I will have to go back on it. So, if you should feel the need to remind me that I am quite a bit larger than I used to be…not necessary. I know. And, you are unkind for even mentioning it. That’s all I will say about that.
3. I recently had an event to attend and it required semi-formal attire. Well! I had nothing suitable at my present size…so I went to a store in town and bought several things…certainly not planning to keep them all. It is just that, some days, I am able to move around better than others, and squeezing myself into one of those little dressing rooms was not on my list of things that were going to happen that day. I was able to find something nice. So, the remaining clothes were folded nicely in a bag until I could get back into the store. In the meantime, life happened. Several big life things. Along with everyday life things. And, those clothes were the farthest things from my mind. In fact, they left my mind completely. Another by-product of medication…and my aging brain. Together they are happily taking all sorts of facts and tossing them to the wind!!! Anyway, TODAY was the day I gathered it all together…along with the receipts…which, by the way, I have carefully tucked away and kept safe until I needed them. All was together, and I set out for the store.
Now, for those of you who do not live in our town…we do NOT have the best selection of places to shop. It is decidedly better than it used to be, but still is lacking. I went to our only mall, which is anchored by 3 department stores…JCP, B**K, and D…d’s. The store I was heading into was D…d’s. Finally, I was going to give these clothes back to the store and they were going to credit my credit card. And, all would be right with the world! I needed to go upstairs…going to ride the only escalator in town…and get this done. The escalator was still…the entrances blocked. Not a good sign. I should have taken it as an omen…but I just bopped happily on to the elevator.
Now let me stop here to say that this store is in deplorable shape! Some of the bottom floor has been renovated, but not all. It looks old and dated. And when I got to the elevator…it was stuck in a tiny hallway with barely enough room for two people to wait! The hallway had dirty floors and walls. When I stepped off the elevator, I was face to face with the restrooms, and dirty sticky floors, and nasty walls. Everything…the floors, the walls, even the ceiling looked filthy. I made my way through a maze of turns to enter the sales floor.
When I originally went to this store to get the clothes, I wanted to try on and purchase just what I needed. I even took the clothes into the dressing rooms. Friends, I did not know what I was walking into…but I was afraid to undress and try on anything. Doors were falling off the wall…mirrors were cracked…there were no hooks to hang your clothes on…only gaping holes where they once were. And, the ceiling looked none too sturdy. The floor had not been swept in forever and was full of unknown stains. So that’s why I had the clothes with me in the first place.
TODAY…there I was, back in the same department with the same salesclerk. And, she said to me, as I handed her the clothes and the receipts that I had cared for so diligently, “I’m sorry. It’s been over 30 days.” ”Excuse me,” I said. ”You can not return anything after 30 days. See?”, she said , as she showed me a sign posted by the checkout counter of that fine print stuff they always get you with. ”So, you are telling me that I cannot return these clothes that do not fit and will never fit and that I have no use for?” I asked. ”Yes, that’s right, they are yours,” she said. ”Thank you very much,” I told her. I was so mad, I had to walk away and find a place to cool down. As I thought about it, I knew I had no recourse. It was my fault, after all. But, it will be a long, long time before this store gets any more of my money. And I walked over to the customer services person…and asked them to close out my account. And, they did.
They have their dumb policy, and I was dumb not to know the policy. It is my fault, I am stuck with these clothes. Live and Learn. So, I’m ticked. Really ticked. And, even though I saw…on my way to the customer services area…3 of the most beautiful sugar pine cones, at least a foot long each…which I have been looking for forever…I held them and put them back. I did not buy them. Nor did I buy my make-up from the Clinique counter when I went back downstairs. Nor did I look for a pair of boots that I have planned to buy.
They don’t care, but it made me feel better not to buy from them. And, I won’t. For a while. Till, I need something they have, and I’ll make just one exception. Then another and then I’ll forget and I’ll be their customer again. But, by then the sugar pine cones will be gone. And, I’ll regret not getting them when I had the chance and I’ll forget that the reason I didn’t is because I was trying to teach that store a lesson that they never even knew of and wouldn’t have cared about even if they did. Oh, what a mess I make for myself! It is still a nasty store, though, and should be cleaned up if they are not going to renovate. It should be cleaned up even if they are going to renovate! And, it sure makes me miss my favorite store ever, Parisian, which took things back anytime at all.
4. When I got home from the disaster that was my shopping trip….my housekeeper said, ” Don’t come in here! There’s glass everywhere!” Now, that’s always a bad sign. Being as clever as I am, I knew something bad was waiting for me. And, I went into the den where she was furiously trying to vacuum up the slivers of glass that were once one of my prized mercury glass ornaments, purchased from Pottery Barn several years ago. This was not a good thing to come home to in my present mood. Turns out, she ‘heard a loud noise, and when she came to investigate, it was shattered on the floor’. I’m not doubting her. I’m sure it happened exactly that way. Tina D. and I could have failed to properly hang that ornament last night…when she so kindly gave up her time to help me get it done. I find it harder to believe that of Tina than of myself. Cause I tend to forget to be extra cautious at times…she never forgets. But, the fact is.. it is gone. And, it’s OK…it’s only a ‘thing’. But the floor under my tree still has small slivers of glass under it. I know this for a fact because when I got down on the floor to put the skirt around the bottom of the tree, I got a sliver in the palm of my hand and one in my knee. So…besides not being able to adequately bend my body down to smooth the skirt around the tree…which frustrates the mess outta me…now I have to go digging for glass…in me… with a needle! And the cloth does not look right. Both of these things are making me quite unhappy.
5. My tree is in an awkward place this year. Why? Because that’s where Don put it. Oh, it’s such a long story, but I’m in the mood to talk if you care to listen. Several years ago, I began a love affair with mercury glass. I loved the way it looked shiny new and old at the same time. It became my favorite thing to collect for a while. When I begin a new collection, the friends and family all get on board and shower me with the item. It took no time at all for me to have an amazing # of mercury glass balls and ornaments. The year we moved into this house it was two days before Christmas and we had no tree. But, the whole next year I looked forward to getting a huge tree and filling it with all the mercury glass I had collected. I knew it would be gorgeous. And, it was. In fact, it was gloriously beautiful! But, the next year, no one would get the huge tree out and put it up for me. So, I put up a little tree…and no one but me even cared. Last year it was the same way…no one had time to help me get the tree set up. I’m telling you..it is massive. If I could do it myself, I certainly would. So, again…a smaller tree had to do. This year, I put my foot down and stomped it a little and yelled and fussed and got my tree up the day before Thanksgiving. And it is in the library. Don decided to put it there since we are having a big party in a few days and it would give us more room if the massive tree was not in the way. Of, course, if the tree was not in the library, people could also congregate there. Oh well, it is up! Sweet Suzanne made a wonderful bow for the top with some glitzy ribbon, and she and Tina O. put it on and fixed doo dahs down the sides of the tree. Beautiful.
I got out all the mercury glass this week…it took all day to unpack it all. I walked past the ornaments lying there on the floor in the middle of the den and the more I looked the more it just didn’t fit. All those colors jumbled together! And, I love lots of color…but this didn’t please my eye. Well, it wasn’t working in my mind, anyway. I don’t know why. I still love the ornaments…they are beautiful!
My dear friend, Tina D., kindly offered to come over and climb the ladder to adorn the top portion of the tree, and help me with the rest. We put all the silver ornaments on the tree and then added in all the red for a ‘pop of color’, as they love to say on HGTV! It turned out to be quite elegant looking. I am very happy with it. Now it needed something red around the bottom. I didn’t have a tree skirt that would do, so I thought of my red tablecloth. It was bright red and would do just fine. My housekeeper went to get it, but it is nowhere. in. this. house. We looked everywhere! I had to buy some fabric to cover the stand and the cords, and I found some on the sale table at Hobby Lobby. And, that is why I was on my knees under the tree. Where I got glass in my hand and knee. And, it still needs to be straightened out, and fixed right. By the way, the whole tree sits atop the zebra skin rug!
6. I ran into a dear friend I used to work with. Man, it was so good to see her. When I was working at the school, I used to go every morning to her room, as I was making my rounds, and sit and talk with her and her aide. When we visited for a while, I realized again how much I miss the sense of togetherness and oneness we teachers had. She and I talked and laughed and caught up on a little bit of news. And, I am going to miss her again. Because our paths do not cross often. I am missing her already. And, the other ‘girls’. This makes me sad. BUT, sweet Levi will begin three year preschool there in the fall of 2014! (If he learns what he is supposed to do when he is sitting on a potty, that is!) This makes me happy!
7. My sister, Joy, came by to get some ear muffs and other warm accessories. She and Tommy are leaving on a fabulous trip to Europe tomorrow. They are going to Austria, and Germany, and then to Paris…where they will attend the Christmas markets! Oh, I am jealous! Not really. I am thrilled that they are going and hope they have a most wonderful time. And, that they bring me something amazing from the Christmas markets. I’m kidding. No, I’m not!
8. It is dark outside (dumb daylight savings time) and the house is quiet, I have gotten myself a glass of sweet tea and have settled onto the chaise. My feet are up and I have the heating pad to my back and the laptop in my lap. Today is over and boy! it has been full! I don’t get out many days, so I really enjoyed it! (Well, I didn’t enjoy the dumb store part!) I managed to get a little more of my Christmas shopping done, too. And, I enjoyed talking to YOU again! Let’s get together again real soon. I’ve got lots more to share with you.
9. I do not know why I have used the word ‘dumb’ so many time in this post. It is not even a word I use that often. And, I checked to see if I was using the correct grammar with “ornaments lying on the floor”. I could not tell any better today than when I was in school. That one has always been hard for me to get right! Excuse me, then, for my unimaginative vocabulary and possible grammar misuse. I hope I haven’t offended your ears.
Last year, I began to get notices from my Sky Miles people about my points. I must ‘use them or lose them’. Since I had no intention of going anywhere, I just ignored the letters. Finally I opened one and it read, “… convert your sky miles to magazine subscriptions.” Well, I earned them, I might as well use them for something, I thought, and that is how I ended up subscribing to 12 magazines at the same time. Do I ever have time to read them all? Never. So, they just stack up in the kitchen until Don or I get fed up and throw them out. Especially the Glamour and InStyle…what was I thinking? I’m quite a ways from being InStyle (their version)…and I don’t think I’ve ever been accused of being Glamourous!
Well. Since this was a Saturday morning, I could take my time at breakfast. I turned on TV and watched a little of HGTV’s ‘Love It or List It’. Don’t even get me started! They must have 100 or more episodes of this show and every. single. one. of them is the same show. One spouse wants to move and the other doesn’t. The crazy ‘Love It’ lady always runs out of money and can’t finish. So she leaves something really important undone and tries to dress things up so the owners don’t notice. The equally crazy ‘List It’ man sets out to find a house. He is going to show them 3 with the final one being the one to impress. For some reason he doesn’t even listen to their requests on the first two, so they are basically a ‘show this house’ video. The owners always love what Crazy Lady did, but are so disappointed she didn’t do it all. Oh, and surprise! value has been added to their house by what she has done though, so maybe they CAN buy the house that Crazy Man showed them that was over budget, but so perfect, otherwise! They are torn about what to do and amazingly…in the space of 30 seconds, have a discussion about something as important as whether to stay or go…and decide! We are on pins and needles until we find out their decision. This same scenario is played out on every episode. Wake up, HGTV!!!
It is a shame what you will watch if you are tired and sleepy and lazy! It is a greater shame to admit you do.
When I came to my senses, I got one of the magazines out of the stack and began perusing it. This one was one of those less expensive mags you can pick up at the check out counter. Did you know… there are about ’30 ways for you to dress up a pumpkin and make your house the cutest on the block for Halloween‘. Yeah. Well, we don’t do Halloween. Next! Here’s an article that is going to tell me‘ what jeans to buy for my body type’. We all love jeans, and since I do have a body type, I thought this may have some useful info. Ha! What is so dumb about these aticles is they dress the models up so they look great. (And, let me give credit here…this magazine actually had models who were short and wide and fluffy, tall and skinny, short and skinny, tall and fluffy, flat in the front, but curvy in the back…you get it. Most of the time they show all the styles on the average size 8 model who is tall and thin and has her clothes specifically tailored for her!) They had all the ladies looking very nice…and then showed 2 styles of jeans that would accomplish that look. Neither of which was on the model. But, you had to read in very, tiny print to discover that. And, naturally the jeans that looked so good on her was some brand no one I know has ever heard of and no one I know would ever buy because it would cost them a weeks salary! So, that was a bust. However, I know that it is possible for all size ladies to look good in a pair of jeans…if you make the big bucks!
Flipping over a few pages, I ran into an article that told me how to ‘stay in touch with a faraway friend’…and another on why ‘coconut oil is a super food‘, now. I also learned that if you put cold eggs in a recipe it will cause the fat in the butter to harden and nothing will mix evenly. Now, I did not know that. But, it has always been enough for me to know that if a recipe said room temp eggs…there had to be a good reason. I now am a better educated cook. Don will be so happy.
Going on through the book, I find help for the same problem I face week after week at my house...’HELP! I Have Leftover Sphaghetti’. NOT!!! I learned this, though…The Healthiest Vending Machine Snacks…***crunchy granola bar***caramel corn rice cakes***pretzels***Sun Chips (a healthier potato chip)***and a ‘Smart Splurge’ would be…peanut m&m’s. Hmmmm…chocolate of any kind is always a ‘Smart Splurge’ to me! :-) Don’t you agree?
Then I spot a title that causes me to want to check it out. DON’T STRESS OVER SUPPER. It says I can ‘play all day and still have dinner on the table in no time’. This sounds interesting. While it is for sure that I don’t like to cook…it would be nice to fix something fast and yummy from time to time. I kid you not…the first sentence in the first recipe says to prepare the filling two days in advance and freeze it, then thaw to finish recipe. I don’t even plan two hours ahead, let alone two days! The recipe goes on to list 18 ingredients…18! For a fast supper? I stopped reading after 5! Here’s another that begins by telling me to ‘move all the racks in my oven’…already too complicated. Oh, here’s one for Spinach and Feta Pie. Pie is supposed to be sweet, is it not? Are you serious? And, next, a huge bowl of Sausage and Chard soup. Is there even such a thing as chard? OK…that is all of this I can stand. Let’s move on.
Now, I tried to read this next article, so I could give you the condensed version…but I’m not sure I understand exactly what it is and why I need it. BUILD THE BEST PRICE BOOK. You actually buy a blank book and build yourself a price book listing all the things you buy and what they cost and where you got the best deal on it and what you were wearing at the time and if you had your children riding in the cart with you. Then you will “Never, ever have to pay full price again…you will know a good deal when you see it…and you will know exactly where to shop. Just write all your prices…even call around to check on them, when you have time. And, remember to always keep it with you, wherever you go.” First of all, if I wrote all this down in a book one time…I would never be able to find it so as to use it a second time! And, secondly, I can’t even manage to get my keys and cell phone and debit card in the same place all at once! I can not possibly keep track of something else!
I learned that I should get my pup a pal, and my horoscope says I will have a ‘new financial game plan’..could they possibly be talking about my new PRICE BOOK!!! (see previous paragraph). Oh, and September is National Yoga Month. Now where did I put that old yoga mat?
Bet ya know where I stored this little periodical…….
If you missed it, you can read Part 1 of this riveting saga here. That was in the early 60′s.
Now here I am in 2013, and I am knee deep in swim lessons again! But, not for me…for Levi. And, not just any swim lessons. These are the ISR lessons, which teach kids from 6 months to 6 years to self rescue if they happen to end up in a body of water. The Center for Disease Control states that the leading cause of death for children ages 1-4 is drowning. But, students who complete the ISR program have a big advantage. Over 40 years of reasearch has gone into perfecting these teaching methods. The children are taught to float…swim…float till they can get to a place of safety. To learn more about the ISR program and what all it teaches, you can find information here. The lessons in Dothan are given by Holli Closson.
Levi had not been in the pool since last summer, and he didn’t know Holli, so it took a day or two before he was comfortable enough to turn her loose!. But soon, he began to understand just what it was that she wanted him to do. She uses a touch method that the children soon learn means to float or turn over and swim or go back to float. He had it down in just 9 days!
He got it! And after only 9 days!
And, here he is in the middle of clapping for himmself! He was so proud that he had done it!
Then came the day, he had to practice in summer clothes, including shoes. This is to see if they can still float and swim with the added weight of clothes.
He did it just fine…
And, he was not happy when that lesson was over and he had to get out of the pool!
He practiced every M-F for 6 weeks! And, by the end, he was doing very, very well! Ms. Holli was pleased, too. Then came the final test. He had to go in the water with winter clothes. He had blue jeans, sox and tennis shoes, a long sleeved knit top. He passed this one with flying colors as well. But, sorry, no pics.
Levi soon got to the place where he was so comfortable in the water. He would get in at the side and push off and just float so peacefully.
So, the course was completed and our daily swimming was over. It was amazing for this grandmother to see all the children in this class doing so well. The youngest was 8 months! Can you imagine? But, she did it! Don and I feel so much better living around a pool, knowing Levi has this knowledge! I try to keep him within my sight when he is with me, but now I have an extra bit of protection in case he were to get to the pool without me. And, I have no doubt that if he could get out of the house, that is exactly where he would go! He loves it so! His other grandparents have a pool, as well. They are as thankful for the lessons as we are.
I encourage you to look into classes for your little ones up to 6 years old. This is a nationwide program and you should be able to find a qualified teacher in your area of the country. Remember it is ISR…Infant Swimming Resource. The lessons are for 6 weeks, M-F, 10 minutes a lesson and one on one instruction. She works with only one child at a time, so she and they will be the only ones in the pool. It could be the best gift you could ever give your child or grandchild.
There is a wonderful program that is available to kids in our community. It has them in the pool everyday…but it’s not swimming lessons. Well, not swimming lessons in the sense you usually think of them, anyway. Not the kind I took…
I remember, years ago…quite a few years ago, when I really stop to count…I took swimming lessons at the Rec Center. That’s what it was called then. And, it was THE place to see and be seen…oh, and to swim or learn to swim, or just bounce around in the shallow end. I can easily remember how I felt about swimming. We arrived for lessons early in the morning and about 25 or so kids got into the cold, cold pool and lined up against the wall. Then we all held on to the side and kicked our feet.
I’m swimming,” I thought. But, no…then we had to stick our face under the water. This was something I had tried to always avoid. It seemed to me, it was a little hard to breathe when your head was down under. And, I know I was right because one time, I accidentally forgot about that and while I was bobbing in shallow end, I went down too far and happened to breathe in at the same time I bobbed down and severe panic ensued! PANIC, I tell you true! ”Get thyself out of the pool and forevermore, never put your face in the water,” I told myself in no uncertain terms. And, that became one of my LIFE RULES. Until now. Here were these Rec Center lifeguards…who were part mermaids and mermen…surely having been born in some other world and transferred here to ours…because they actually SAVED people! And, they had little whistles that hung around their necks and when they blew them, every body looked up to see who had messed up big time. Some times they only issued a warning…but other times…they had the power to banish you to sit on the sides or even leave the pool for the whole day! And, here they were…telling me to put my face UNDER the water. Now being the intuitive child that I was, after a few more’breathing under water’ incidences, I learned to ‘hold my breath’. That was not as easy as it sounds and entailed strict preparation. First you had to bob up…then wipe all the hair out of your eyes, pull your swimsuit out of the nether regions, take in a gulp of air as large as possible, This made a large sound which warned people nearby you were about to make your move and not to get in your way. Then you closed on that huge gulp of air which cause your cheeks to puff out like a squirrel in October! Next, you held your nose with one hand…this gave you two life lines… no air out of the nose and no air out of the mouth! And I suppose that’s the reason I squinted my eyes so tightly closed was to prevent water from escaping there, too. Though, that was pure instinct…I don’t think I thought about that. Though, it does make perfect sense, doesn’t it?. Then, giving a little jump up in prep for the bob down…I would GO FOR IT! And as quick as I sensed the water touch my face, WHOOSH, I was up again. Now whether I actually went completely under the water, all the way, totally immersed, whole head wet, is a mystery to this day. I, of course, like to think for sure I did, but it really is a toss up. And, now, these water gods were telling us not only to calmly lay our face over into the water…they actually wanted us to blow out our air while we were under there!!!!! BLOW OUT OUR AIR? Then what are we supposed to do? Magically grow gills? No. No. Now, if I were to actually lean over and calmly put my head under water, I can promise you that I would not let go of the only thing keeping me alive at that moment. NO WAY was I going to let my air out in bubbles! HA! Craziest thing I ever heard of! But, I noticed that all the kids around me started doing this death defying act. They acted like it ws no big deal. They had probably never had the scary encounter I did with the ‘monster water’ getting into my eyes, and nose and ears and surely right into my brain, itself. They didn’t know the dangers. And, now one of those mer-girls was heading my way, to see me do it. I was about to be humiliated in front of the whole water logged beginner swimming class. I had to do it, I had to. She stopped right in front of me. ”Let me see you blow me some bubbles, Sweetie,” she said. ”Put your life in danger while I stand here and watch,” she said. (She had the thickest Southern accent I had ever heard). And, so I began my prep for the task. Bob up, hair back, swimsuit out, big gulp, hand to nose bob up then down…rising upon feeling the water. When I had finished wiping the hair out of my eyes and sputtering and coughing, I looked to her for her approval. She was laughing. At what, I don’t know…but I was sensing no humor at that moment! ”Sweetie, that’s not it…you act like that water is gonna bite you or something!,” she said between laughs, “Here, it’s like this.” And with that, she leaned over and put her face in the water right in front of me, and then she blew bubbles out of her mouth…and as they slowly rose and danced to the surface, she just stayed under longer. Her blond hair, pulled back into a ponytail, did not get into her eyes at all. I do not know why my Mama did not put my hair into a ponytail! She should know about these things. Could have been because my hair was permed on the sides and back within an inch of its life and my bangs were cut near to my scalp in the front. My hair did not lay smoothly in the water like Ponytail Girl. No, it freakishly clung to the sides of my head in big blobs like a bird’s nest, all tangled and twisted. I knew what it looked like because I had seen Joy, and Mother obviously liked what she did to my hair, cause she did the same to Joy’s. So what her hair looked like wet…mine looked like wet. I was a hot mess. I digress. Anyway, when the water goddess finally decided to rejoin the human race, she came up and just opened her eyes and started talking, right normal like. No coughing, no sputtering, no wiping her eyes. And, then she had the gall to say, “Now, sweetie, you try it.” Yeah…you don’t give a girl much mercy here, do you, She-ra of the Pool? ”I’ll practice on it, ” I said. And she said she would be right back. But, she forgot and I did not remind her. I’m sure that was a sin and I will be shown that one day, but at that point in my life, it was a matter of survival. And, when the mer-people said we could go for today, unless we wanted to stay and practice, in which case, they would hold the opening of the pool an hour, I found Joy and told her we were getting out quick cause Mama needed to go somewhere. And, we must not keep Mother waiting. Lie number two. I know. I know.
The very next day, with not even a day to rest, we had to go back. We lined up against the side again, and first we practiced holding on to the side and kicking. Fine. I did it. But, I was no dummy, I knew what was next. They blew the whistle and everyone stopped and turned to look at them. ”Now, y’all practice putting your face in the water and blow me some pretty bubbles. Now, I know some of you had to leave to go with your Mamas yesterday, and didn’t get to show me, so I’ll be sure and see you do it before we can go on to something else.” Wow! Way to go…make me responsible for the whole Rec Center Beginner Swimming Class of 1959 not being able to progress and have to spend another day ‘blowing pretty bubbles!” So, I had to do this. ”Just do it,” I told myself. And I leaned over and took in that gulp of air and held my nose, then I put my face in the water and blew out all my water in one large SWOOSH! But, it came out and I didn’t die! I didn’t die! So, I kept practicing and practicing and soon, she of the blond ponytail showed up and told me it was time to show her what I could do. And, I did. Not pretty bubbles, but I had it down to 2 swooshes instead of one. I came up and she said, “Well, Sweetie, you are doing so much better! I’m so proud of you. Now you just keep practicing and one day THIS WEEK I want to see those pretty bubbles like I showed you.” I told her I would get right on it . Lie number three. That was enough lessons, but no, I hear the whistle, and they tell us what we are going to do today. We are going to PUT OUR FACES IN THE WATER AND PUT OUR HANDS IN FRONT OF US AND PUSH AWAY FROM THE WALL!!!! DANGER! DANGER! DANGER, WILL ROBINSON! This is not fun anymore. I want to leave. I don’t care if I ever swim. I don’t even WANT to swim. It was all Mama’s idea, anyway. Who needs to know how to swim? Give me a book and a sofa and that’s enough physical activity for anyone! But, I knew I would not be able to ease out of this. Mama wanted us to swim. That was enough. She never went swimming. Why was she making me? I hate swimming! I was so mad, I began hitting the water until the girl next to me started looking at me like I was looney! Then I put my face in, pushed off, all the while holding my nose. And, I found I could do it without blowing bubbles. So, that’s the minor adjustment I made in my attempt. The Sweetie Queen came over and told me that wasn’t right. I could not do it that way, cause I was going to need both my hands for the next step. And, it was then that I told Mama I had an ear ache, and she told me to get back in that pool and do what the nice girl said. I learned to do this routine, and I learned to simulate moving my arms too. And, I faked all of it I could.
The last day finally came and instead of looking forward to it… I went into it with the same way I imagine some walking to face a firing squad. We had to jump off the diving board and swim to the side to graduate. WHAT? And, somehow, I got up on that low diving board. Everyone was looking! I was the last one. I heard Mama, “Tonja Lynn, you jump right now!” I didn’t. Then she yelled across the whole Rec Center pool, so everyone in the whole town could hear, “Joy already jumped and you’re the BIG SISTER!” Way to put the pressure on Mama.
And, I jumped. I don’t know how. I don’t remember jumping. I don’t remember the hour it took to hit the water. But, I remember being under the water. Way under the water. I must have gone to the bottom of the pool being as I was older and all. There was water all around and I could not get out of it. By some miracle, I felt my head come out of the water and one of the mer-men saying “Come on, just swim over here!” What? The 5 miles to the side? And, I began hitting the water and slapping the water and I felt 2 strong arms give me a push in the right direction, and the boy at the side reaching his arms out and grabbing my hand and pulling me to the side. I inched my way slowly down the side of the pool to the steps, holding tightly to the sides with my bent fingertips. And, when I got there, I turned and looked back at the water and there was Blond Ponytail giving me a thumbs up! And, I got out and gave her a thumbs up back. But, I didn’t mean it. I wasn’t proud. I was thankful I was out. I vowed no one would ever get me into another swimming class even if I had to feign a broken leg! Never. And, that is one of my promises to me that I have kept. Not that it is a good thing. Not that I am proud of it. But I kept it. In the years since then, I have learned to swim…somewhat. I can take care of myself in the pool. I can swim with my face in the water or out. I can bob and go under still and I can even blow pretty bubbles. But, I have never, ever, ever gone off a diving board again. And, while there are still things I would like to do in this world before I take my exit, I can live out the rest of my years and go to my grave and never go off a diving board. And, still die happy.
I lost my keys. I LOST MY KEYS! I CAN’T FIND THEM…I’M ABOUT TO COME UNDONE! I LOST MY KEYS!
Has this ever happened to you? It is about to make me lose my religion! Why is it (other than the obvious reason) that we get so upset when this happens? I think it’s about more than ‘keys’…it’s about…“I can’t drive my car”…“I can’t go where I want to go”…“I will have to stay in my house forever”…“If I get locked out, I’ll have to live on the patio for the rest of my life.” All these things and more. Which, when you continue boiling it down, adds up to a loss of independence. And, I am independent, if I am anything at all. And, it’s also because I have had the same key chain since I was in high school. I found this large brass clothespin long,long ago. And, I bought 2 of them. I gave Joy one and I kept one. It is basically the only thing we have ever used. She, being a pianist, she doesn’t like to play with her rings on. So, she always hooks her rings on the clothespin to keep them safe. I, working with children and art and craft projects, have had a safe place to keep my rings. And, when I was working in nursing, I could keep my jewelry pinned and safe also. And, it’s perfect to clip your keys onto those little rings they now have in most purses, or onto the straps. Well, perhaps that’s reading more into the ‘key’ situation than necessary, so, I’ll go on with my story.
My housekeeper was here and Don was here and Levi was here…and me. Levi was here for the day and we were all having breakfast. My housekeeper was ironing in the laundry room and she called me. I went to see what she needed. My iron had chosen that moment to die. And, it died a quick and immediate death. No hanging on long enough to iron my favorite linen shirt or Don’s work pants…nope. It was over in a second. So, since Don was still here, I decided to run up to our local T*rget store and get a new one and get right back. ( Well…I wan’t going to ‘run’…I was going to drive! ) Put on some lipstick, put on some shoes, pick up my phone and purse, pick up my keys…NOooooooooooo! Where are my keys? Who moved my keys?
Now, friends, when I say I went into search mode…it’s a true story. My houskeeper helped me, while Don entertained Levi. At first we blamed Levi. We looked IN every toy, UNDER every toy, everything that had a place for a set of keys to be…we checked! Every toy was touched and looked at. I actually asked Levi so many times, “What did you do with my keys?” He actually began echoing me “Keys? Keys?”. Then we checked everywhere he usually runs to when he knows he not suppossed to. No keys.
Of course, Don had a word of wisdom, ”Tonja, you cannot keep up with anything. I’m going to get you one of those beepers that helps you when you lose your keys!” So he, obviously, was going to be of zero help in this crisis. Anyway…I did not lose my keys. See I always put them on the round foyer table when I come in. It is a habit I made myself get into because…I tend to lose things. But not my keys!
Next we thought Levi may have thrown them into the garbage can. He likes to do that. I have found one of his shoes, a hard backed book, a sippy cup, unopened cans of food, a few clean diapers…all in the garbage at one time or another. So, Otelida, my housekeeper, went through the garbage. Which had already been collected for tomorrow’s pickup. And was already at the street. In the big can that holds a weeks worth of garbage. Bless her heart, she went through every piece. Twice. No keys.
Into the closet. Check the pockets of every pair of pants I’ve worn lately. Looked all over the floor. No keys.
So, I decided to sit down and pray. And think. Do you have to just sit quietly, sometimes, and let your thoughts have room to run from here to there and back again in hopes of running up on the information you are looking for? Well, I do. So, I did. And I prayed. I prayed for the keys to turn up. I prayed for us to run across the keys while we were searching. I prayed Levi would bring them to me. I prayed they would magically appear in my purse…when I looked in there…for the fourteenth time. None of those things happened. But, I did think about the people who had been in the house since I last drove. The only others…Adam and Suzanne.
So, I texted them both. Adam texted back “Nope, don’t see them anywhere.” I texted Suzanne, “Do you, by any chance, have my keys?” Almost immediately she texted back “No.” Otelida said, “She didn’t even look…that was too quick!” But, I knew Suze would look if I asked her to, especially since I never asked her that before and she knew it must be important or I would never have bothered her at work. So, that was another dead end.
I didn’t have anybody else to ask. We had looked over and under and around everything in the house. So, I took my extra key and went on to T*rget and bought an iron and another hundred dollars worth of junk I didn’t need (except the eggs). I was so bummed about my keys and it is not safe for me to go shopping when I’m bummed about anything.
Levi is in the midst of swimming lessons (post coming about that…amazing)…and they are giving a class for 6 at our pool. Usually Levi and I go out and sit on the screened porch when the lessons start about 3:00. He likes to watch the other children while they swim and he can’t reach the door handle to get out of the porch, so I can relax, too. We wait there for Suzanne to come from school and then she has about 20 minutes to rest and visit and then they get ready for Levi’s lesson at 4:10.
She asked me about my keys…did I ever find them. I told her I didn’t. She then said, “Why would you think I had them?” “I didn’t really think you did, but I was just asking in case you had picked them up by mistake,” I said. “Well, yeah, I didn’t even bother looking…I knew I didn’t have them, “ she replied. I laughed and said, “Otelida said you didn’t even bother to look.” Then she offered, “Well, you sit out here with Levi and I’ll go in and look around and see if I see them. Maybe a different set of eyes can spot them,” she said.
And she went in the house.
Less than 30 seconds later, I felt her presence next to me at the French door. I turned to look.
There she stood, with a guilty, impish grin. She was swinging my keys in her hand!
I jumped up and opened the door and she came outside and said, “I’m not even going to tell you where I found them. You just really don’t even want to know.” First, I thought for sure I had them in some obvious place and that Otelida and I and Don and Levi had all overlooked them. Then I was afraid that perhaps I had put them in the freezer or something and this was going to be the first clue that I was, in fact, getting senile. Which my boys accuse me of quite often. I just knew I was going to feel so dumb if she told me. But, the mystery got the better of me. ”You have to tell me. I can’t stand it”, I begged. Then she said……
“They were in my purse. I thought I’d just humor you and look there first. I must have picked them up by mistake and thought they were mine ’cause they were right where I keep my keys.”
I really didn’t hear much after she said, “They were in my purse.” I thought of how I had searched all morning and all afternoon. I thought of how my mind was coming unglued because I was so afraid I had put them in a crazy place. I thought of how my very soul was at unrest. I took my phone and looked at it and told Suze ”I sent you that text at 11:55…it is now 4:00.” She hung her head…in shame. She was guilty…and she knew it. It is only because I am the kind and gracious, loving mother-in-law that I am, that I didn’t heap more guilt on her. ”Please forgive me,” she said. And, I did. Because the only thing that really mattered in the situation was that
I was not senile I had my keys back.
Oh, and another good thing that came out of the whole situation…Levi can now say “KEY?”!
I talk. I talk too much. I sometimes get in trouble for not keeping my mouth shut, but I just love sharing what’s going on with me with those I care about. (You do know that includes you, my faithful readers.) I don’t know why I think everyone should be interested in what goes on with me. And, it’s not that exactly, it’s just that I like to talk. A lot.
Well, I’m not into making big changes here in the ‘mature’ years of my life. Today, I wish to continue to share with you the story of my grandson, Levi. You walked the way with me as we waited for him to be born and have shared my joy as I have spent days with him here at home. You have shared his birthdays and Christmases with me. He has been such a joy and continues to delight us day after day with his determination and spunkiness! He is a wonderful gift to this family.
We began to notice, when he was 10-14 months old, that he was not verbally where we thought he should be. He was not saying those first words that we were all waiting to hear…”MaMa…DaDa…ByeBye…Go…Ball…you remember. When it was first mentioned to a pediatrician (not his regular one), he said “no problem…he’s just a boy. He’ll talk soon.” His parents and we grandparents noticed how he was often frustrated when trying to communicate with us. He would go to the refrigerator and make sounds…loudly…but there was never any “BaBa”. I began teaching him some very simple sign language. He quickly learned “please, thank you, cookie, more, eat, drink, all done, help. ” He picked these up and soon it was easier for him to communicate with us. This seemed to make him less frustrated. However…it was always obvious to us all that he fully understood all that was said to him. We slowly began to hear Ma and then Da…finally he began to wave bye bye…but not say it. Still, he was not making the sounds that seemed to lead into recognizable speech. He surely tried…always making lots of sounds…but they weren’t the right sounds.
I suppose since I have worked with young children all my life, I noticed it first. And, also, having the history we do with our 3 boys, we know the importance of watching carefully and picking up things early. Early intervention and early diagnosis is what saved Adam’s life. And Ian came into this world fighting to eat and suck. And, we knew if there was a problem with Levi, it needed to be discovered early. Adam and Suzanne are such good parents and have been closely watching Levi. They read with him every night and he knows many words…when they say them, he will point to them. We have all worked with him to get him to speak. And, he has recently rewarded us all with ‘tact-tor’. His Papa rides on one to cut his yard. He’s has his own version of ‘turtle’ also, but I couldn’t express it to you how he says it. It is obvious to us how badly he wants to speak.
When he went to his two year check up, Suzanne and Adam talked to his regular pediatrician about this and fully conveyed their concern, and he suggested that the first step was a hearing evaluation. Levi seems to hear well, but there are times when he doesn’t acknowledge us at all. It’s as if he’s turned his hearing off. But, the evaluation showed his hearing was normal. It was then suggested that he go to a speech pathologist for a full evaluation. And, that was where we found ourselves on Friday.
Because Ian was born with a cleft lip and palatte, he spent much time in speech therapy. But, both my other boys did, too for short times. We were so fortunate to have the therapist that we did. And, even more fortunately, she was willing to take on Levi. We know what a blessing this is and are so excited to have her guiding our sweet Levi.
So, does he have just a problem with pronunciation or a lisp or stuttering? No, none of those and we knew it wasn’t that before we went. He has a disorder called Childhood Apraxia of Speech. Bet you never heard of it. Well, we know lots about it now.
“Developmental apraxia of speech is also known as childhood apraxia of speech. This condition is present from birth, and it affects a child’s ability to form sounds and words. Children with speech apraxia often have far greater abilities to understand speech than to express themselves with spoken words.”
“Childhood apraxia of speech (CAS) is a motor speech disorder. Children with CAS have problems saying sounds, syllables, and words. This is not because of muscle weakness or paralysis. The brain has problems planning to move the body parts (e.g., lips, jaw, tongue) needed for speech. The child knows what he or she wants to say, but his/her brain has difficulty coordinating the muscle movements necessary to say those words”. From the American Speech-Hearing-Language Association
“With apraxia of speech a person finds it difficult or impossible to move his or her mouth and tongue to speak. This happens, even though the person has the desire to speak and the mouth and tongue muscles are physically able to form words.”
So, this is where we find ourselves now. We have a diagnosis which is always the best first step. And, so we begin to tackle Levi’s speech. He will require extensive speech therapy for years. Another thing that is a concern is the speech in CAS often aquires a monotone sound with no inflection. So, as we work on the proper pronounciation, we also have to work on the inflection he uses. Inflection to me is like the ‘music of speech’. It is almost like a melody line as we speak normally. The highs and lows we use in our speech (such as in “UH! OH! or BYE-BYE) is like the melody line in a written piece of music. (This is a Tonja explanation. If it doesn’t make sense…consider the source!}
Some children may require sign language on a permenant basis or a word pad that says the words as you type them or touch pictures. We, however, are believing that God is going to help Levi have the best outcome possible! This is not on the autism spectrum or a form of Asperger’s. Levi is very intelligent and quite strong willed. He has a determined spirit and loves to figure out ways to do what he wants. (This sometimes gets him in trouble.) We are, at this point, teaching Levi how to listen to speech. He has to learn that what he hears can be spoken. This seems to be his greatest need at the present…to learn how to listen. Funny thing… I can hear myself saying “You need to listen”…or “Why don’t you try listening?” to my own boys through the years. But, in this case, Levi actually has to be taught how to listen.
We have such a wonderful opportunity here to show just how God works. We had a problem, and at first, we did not know which direction to travel. After prayer, God impressed upon us the need to talk with the pediatrician and to continue on with the followup. When it became known to us that we needed a speech therapist, we knew who we wanted to use, but I also knew she did not take many patients anymore. We all prayed about it and she agreed to see Levi for evaluation and for therapy. Isn’t God good? He is meeting every need as it comes up. I have seen Him do this before. And, since we know that He never changes, He will continue to help us as problems comes up. I do not know about you, but this is one of the dearest truths that I hold onto in my life.
”And, my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of
His glory in Christ Jesus” Phillipians 4:19 NIV
This little boy is so fortuate to be surrounded by family and friends who will be constantly helping him. So we walk this new path with thanks and gratitude for his determined spirit and strong will. We give thanks for his fine hearing and for his ability to learn. We give thanks for the ability to pay for his private lessons. Nothing, nothing, nothing good comes to us by any means other than God. So, Levi will learn to talk slower than most children…and he will learn to talk a whole new way from most children. And, we parents, and grandparents and aunts and uncles will all learn how to help him and encourage and all will be well! We claim that promise!
“Tell the righteous it will be well with them, for they will enjoy
the fruit of their deeds.” Isaiah 3:10 NIV
Spring! How beautiful is the
Spring! How wonderful is the
Spring! How majestic is the
Spring! How fantastic is the
Spring! How tantalizing is the
Spring! How glorious is the
Spring! How melodious is the
Spring! How joyful is the
Spring! How breathtaking is the
Spring! How uplifting is the
Spring! How happy is the
Spring! How magnificent is the
Spring! How colorful is the
Spring! How tasteful is the
Spring! How memorable is the
Spring! How flavorful is the
Spring! How aromatic is the
Spring! How sweet is
Spring! How beautiful is the
Poem by Alex Fisher………Fish caught and proudly displayed by John Thomas Bush……….Spring, the world, and everything in it, created by God.