Fine Arts Competition 2018

Saturday morning was one busy day! The annual PenDel Fine Arts competition Sectionals were held in Bethel Park, PA. It is an event held for 6th-12th graders, representing an Assembly of God Church.

For the last two years, our youngest son has competed in the Short Sermon category. Last year, he scored high enough to go on to the District Level Competition. He has wanted to be a Pastor for as long as I can remember. It’s been a blessing for him to be able to stretch his spiritual wings and write his own, original sermon.
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Winter Storm 2/7

On 2/7, here in PA, we experienced multiple seasons in one day! What started as snow (3-5 inches), within an hour became sleet/freezing rain. An hour later it was straight rain. This alternated the same way from 4 AM until 3 PM. Crazy!!

You can see the ice hanging from power lines. Praise God- we didn’t lose power! Our lines, literally, go through the woods to connect to multiple homes. The trees, everything, had ice.

Winds of Change

No doubt, no one’s life is without change. This month, however, we’ve been in the midst of some mind-blowing changes. My husband has always had a bad back. I’ve known about it since we met almost 20 years ago. It has ‘gone out’ in the past. Usually, he rebounds within a week. Last year, when neck pain began, we sought a doctor’s opinion.

They called it a type of degeneration of the vertebrae in the neck. He was put on a brief stint of steroids, NSAIDs, & supplements. Things have been decent for him for a while. That is until about 2 weeks ago. We’ve had brief days of snow here. One particular day, we got almost 6 inches. He went to plow & salt a parking lot, slipped, and jarred his back. Calling home soon after, he told me, his back went out & he was hunched over.
I knew he hurt. I didn’t know how badly. He started to improve within a few days. Unfortunately, it didn’t last.

One night, I fell out of bed, face first. As I tried to get back into the bed, impeded by a 60 lb dog hogging the blanket, he got out of bed and in a freak accident, fell over me. I’d been sort of kneeling so he tripped and fell right over top of me. It hurt us both. What was the worst, was that he’d tried at the last minute to prevent the fall, forcing his back & sides to tense up.

Immediately, he was in agony. Nothing worked. No pain relievers, heat, cold, nothing. Since then, he hasn’t improved. I am on disability. He has always been the strong, super hero. Rock climbing, running with the dog, former military. I never imagined he may not be able to work. He is a contractor. His back/spine controls almost every single thing he does.

Now, we have a MRI scheduled for the 15th. I spent an hour on the phone with the Laser Spine Institute. We’re considering our options. But, he’s been saying (a lot) lately, that he may not be able to continue working. Today, our son went to work with him after his school duties were finished. How much longer he’ll be able to hold out, I don’t know.

But, I have been spending a lot of time in prayer. I’m seeking God’s guidance in every move. We would certainly have to eliminate some spending. My disability checks are a joke, if we’re being honest. They’re not even a 1/4 of what I was making working. But, I know God has kept us from every losing our home, delivered healings, pulled off the unthinkable. I’ve seen today miracles and know of Biblical ones.

Some how, this is going to work out. I have a peace I cannot explain. Will he continue working? Will we both be on disability? I can’t say yet. But, I’m buckled up, holding Jesus’ hand, and waiting to find out.

Are You Ready For Winter?

Every year, winter becomes more unpredictable. Meteorologists can’t seem to keep up with the changes. At any given moment, we could be snowbound for an indefinite period of time. Last year was kind. We had snow, but nothing near where we have before. But, with uncertainty looming again this year, as a reminder to myself as well as others, I am once again compiling a list of sorts to help get everyone ready.

1. Batteries are not just for toys & remotes! How many batteries do you have on hand? Estimate how long they’ll last. Some may be generic and some brand name. Determine which items are in need of fresh batteries that can be replaced right now. If they’re iffy, change them now anyway and be ahead of the game. Make a list of any additional batteries, a week’s worth, that you’ll need.
2. Portable charging devices are our friends. We have five total. Make sure they’re charged! They’re no use to us if they’re dead. Fully charge them and then hide them, very well, from the teens! Have at least one per cell phone.
3. Lighters aren’t just for smokers. Have at least one, unopened pack, in an accessible location. We’ll get to that location in a minute. Do not open the pack for any reason other than an emergency. If you go through lighters quickly, buy a few extra $1 packs. Have one of the extra long lighters for candles.
3. Candles aren’t just pretty. Big candles burn longer. Expensive ones do, too. We’re not concerned with fragrance here. Just make sure there is at a minimum one, medium candle per room of your home. Now’s the time to place them. Never burn a candle if you’re not in the room with it. It’s chancey. Put one in room and leave it alone. Don’t burn these specific ones. Tealights are a waste in these situations. They burn too quickly to be effective.
4. A manual can opener may save the day. Believe me: it has bailed me out a few times. Put it with your lighters.
5. Make a location- a drawer, backpack, extra purse, old diaper bag- your official blizzard preparedness location. This is where you’ll stash the chargers, lighters, etc. Put it where you’ll see it everyday. A closet, a drawer, anywhere you come in contact with it every day. This way, you’ll never forget where it is. Label it. Make it off limites to anyone other than you.
6. Pet food/treats- make sure you have enough for a week. If you can swing it, either portion out a week’s worth from what you already have or buy a super small bag/cans to put in your blizzard bag. If you get samples from somewhere of treats, etc. put them in that bag, too.
7. Emergency contact numbers: who needs to know that you’re snowed in? Who needs to call you if they’re snowed in? Make the calls, send the texts, email them- get it together now. If you have elderly neighbors, be a good person. Take care of their lists with them, too.
8. Generators, kerosene heaters- if you operate these regularly, awesome. A blizzard is NOT the time to try them out for the first time. Now is! Get familiar with them. Have a full, unused, safe can of kerosene and/or gas available. Make sure you can retrieve it in a foot of snow! One year, we stored it across the property then couldn’t get through the snow to get it! Not good.
9. If you plan to use a fireplace, make sure it’s in working order. If you haven’t been able to maintain it, don’t use it.
10. If you are ready to use your fireplace, do you have a week’s worth of wood? Check your stockpile then buy or get chopping.
11. Food is an iffy thing. If you can run your fridge or stove off a generator, then you should be fine. If you can’t, make sure the pantry’s stocked. Is there a week’s worth of non-perishables? Cereal, crackers, peanut butter, etc. Check. Make a list. Shop soon. As much water as you can stockpile is essential. Buy, refill, etc. There’s never too much water.
12. If you have young children, add some things to the bag that they can do. Card games, new crayons, and thing that isn’t electronic that may keep them occupied. New books are good too. Speaking of which, make sure your reading devices are full charged when a storm is predicted. Phones too. Of course, those portable devices are fine to recharge them, but start out ahead of the game.
13. Invest in a charcoal, cheap grill. Buy a bag of charcoal, too. In a big blizzard, where there’s no power (we had a 18 day one, once), charcoal can keep you fed. It’ll be a good way to utilize perishable food too and not feel like you’re roughing it. Everyone loves grilled food. Make sure you have lighter fluid, the long lighter and a well-ventilated space.
In a pinch, your generator can run a Panini maker, etc. if needed.
14. Clothing- do you have warm clothes in the event a heating source is scare. Put extra gloves, hats, etc. in the bag. Socks, too. Make sure the kids have their gear at the ready. Stack extra blankets in a space near the bag.
15. Medicine: If you don’t get 90 day supplies, consider it. Make a list of everything you take from vitamins to pain relief. Do you have at least a week’s worth? Make sure they’re all together in case of an emergency, grab-and-go situation if you have to leave your residence. Same goes for an extra pair of glasses (we have an old pair of my son’s in the bag) and contacts + solution.
16. Copies of driver’s licenses,birth certificates, medical cards, and social security cards should also be in your bag, together. In a grab-and-go, these are always forgotten! They’re important. If applicable, do the same for vet records. Make sure you animals have their tags. If the situation warrants that you need to go to a shelter, you’ll need these on-hand.

Prepare now. Right now. Don’t wait. Twenty years of living rural, at least 10 separate blizzards, two floods and multiple ice storms have force us to get our act together. We’ve learned from out mistakes.

Buster’s Accident: A Nightmare For Our Family.

Thursday nights here are usually quiet. I was cleaning the dinner dishes. My husband was talking to me. Our 14-year-old son said he was taking the dog out. Buster can be a handful. But, our son has always had a rapport with him which made walks and such a breeze.

That’s why it was so shocking to hear him scream that we were needed outside immediately. What we found when we went outside was Buster, standing on the porch with blood streaming down his left front paw. Immediately, my husband went into former military, assess and rescue mode. Scooping the dog up, he began cleaning the leg to find the wound. Meanwhile, my son was detailing the incident.

Buster had gone halfway through the yard with him. Recently, major storms have swept through so there are a lot of branches, leaves, sticks, etc. all through our yard. Most of the time, he and Buster just jump over things. The Whippet part of Buster adores jumping and leaping over things. But, this time, Buster caught sight of a group of bunnies. Naturally, he wanted to play/chase them. What he didn’t pay attention to, which is the Pit Bull part of him (react first, think later), were the branches. An ill-timed leap resulted in a sever laceration.

We didn’t get all those details until much later. All we knew then was that Bus was bleeding- a lot. My husband soon realized how deep & wide the cut was. He quickly told me that this was most definitely not a treatable wound for us to care for. Panic set in. Due to debt consolidation, we don’t qualify for things such as Scratch Pay or Care Credit.

My baby needed help, NOW. As my husband wrapped his leg in gauze and bandages, I began calling to find an emergency vet. Finally, I got a hold of University Veterinary Specialists. These angels detailed what we should do. I called my immediate family and my sister basically told me to do what was necessary and then we’d deal with the bills later. Of course, we agreed. Buster is priceless!

Soon, we loaded him into the truck, our son holding the leg up above his heart. The vet was a good 45 minute drive so we had brought along Buster’s lovey and his blankie as well as a plethora of towels. My house already looked like a crime scene and we were trying to keep Buster as clean as possible so they could see the wound better after removing his homemade bandages.

The folks at UVS are angels. They took him from my husband’s arms, whisked him back, and gave us food and beverages to calm us down. I wish our local emergency (people) places were this efficient. Fast forward a bit, the wound was assessed and they determined he cut deep enough that he’d clipped an artery. Surgery was necessary. The option was given for us to stay or they’d board him overnight for free. We all agreed that he could stay. To close the wound, this brave boy who never even whimpered, was given 10 stitches. He also got antibiotics and pain meds.

The staff at UVS fell in love with him. He greeted every one with a kiss. They told us he’d been a joy despite his pain. He was trying desperately to walk. He’s not the type who enjoys lounging. The cone of shame is now being referred to as Buster’s Cone of Bravery. Here it is, Monday and he still hasn’t cried. He wants to cuddle so badly but the cone won’t allow it. We’re taking turns carrying him out to potty. Being that we’re so rural, the ground still has some debris and is a mud pit. We can’t take the chance that he’ll get the leg dirty at all.

There will be more medical care required. We don’t know how much. But, he’ll need follow-up. This is one of those times that I wish my Dad was still here. A horseman for 40+ years, he always knew what to do. Bus is extraordinarily healthy. We’ve always made sure he was, right down to his snacks which are always the healthiest by choice. He will recover. But, now, we are in a huge bind. I am not good at fundraising no matter what the cause may be. But, I humbly started a Go Fund Me for him.

All prayers are greatly appreciated. If you’re able & God moves you to, here is his link to donate: https://www.gofundme.com/uc72sg-busters-medical-bills

Thank you ahead of time. Updates will follow. Today, he’s taking it slow, but eating and we are blessed to have him one more day.

May’s Firsts in My Year of Firsts

May brought another month of opportunity to try new things. While they aren’t big things whatsoever, they were firsts for me.
A weeknight with no dinner plan presented an opportunity. I searched for a recipe we hadn’t used and decided to make homemade sloppy joe’s. Usually, I’d go with Manwich from the can. But, since I had the ingredients, I went for it. While it didn’t turn out great, it wasn’t awful either. Manwich is still a better option, though. I was missing that vinegar type taste and the off brand ketchup didn’t help matters.

Two firsts involved Buster. Usually my husband & son are in charge of giving Buster a bath. He can be quite a handful and I just honestly assumed it would be too much for me. But, he’d been extra itchy lately & the hubs has been super busy. So, I geared myself up with some grubby clothes and went for it. My youngest son did help by lifting Buster into the tub. That was just a physical impossibility on my own.

However, once the heavy-lifting was done, I was on my own. Surprisingly, I did a great job. I also proved a little something to myself by tackling a project I deemed too hard. But, the second Buster activity did require a partner in crime, per se.

We’ve had awful luck with vets. In fact, they’ve been so off the charts expense that we’ve utilized a local clinic for shots & routine things. But, an acquaintance of my husband’s suggested his dogs’ vet so we went. Many things concerned me. There would most definitely be other animals there. Buster does not play well with others. Plus, any new situation causes him to regress into an animal without any brain. Bottom line: he’s a bit nutty. But, I was armed with my super strong husband, a new harness and some willpower.

We had it well planned out. My husband went in first, Buster-less. With the new harness, a one better suited to my stupid Parkinson’s hands (grr), I hooked up the leash & walked Buster to the grassy area. I love this harness. It’s a God send. We’d outfitted him into it before we loaded him into the truck. Surprisingly, Buster seemed to be really enjoying himself. He wasn’t being choked by the harness because it’s really comfy. He even felt comfortable enough to plop down in the grass & watch the cars drive by.

Inside the vet’s, he was pretty good, too. I warned another Dog Mommy over my shoulder that he was dog aggressive so she’d hang on tight to her beautiful Boxer pup. Regardless, Buster waltzed right by him with barely a bark! He was perfect during the blood work and even fell for Dad’s distraction techniques. Both the ride to & from were generally drama free. I declared the whole day to be miraculous. Long story short, I proved something to myself & Buster did too. We aren’t helpless & we can get things done.

Finally, we began some home remodeling to our ancient home. So far, we have the living room completed. However, I know nothing of remodeling. As a contractor, this is as normal to my husband as brushing his teeth. While there are obviously a ton of things I can’t do due to lack of knowledge in construction, I was able to assist in carpet installation. I was also given the arduous task of pulling up old staples. Wee! So, not fun. I continued this task with breaks, frequently, because my stupid hands won’t cooperate.

The floor work was increased when I stepped in the wrong place & literally, fell through the floor. One leg went into the floor, one was up in a sort of vertical split. I am not built for splits. I picked splinters out of myself for several days. However, it was funny and I convinced the youngest to not YouTube or Snapchat it.

Looking forward to June!

My Year of Firsts

I will be 40 this year. I have no idea where the last decade went. It has NOT been an easy decade for sure. So, this year I decided that I would take every opportunity to try new things this year. It’s not a bucket list. It isn’t a wish list either. But, when an opportunity presents itself, I will jump on it. It’s a promise I made to myself.

I’ve been taking stock of things, internally, lately. I figured this would pull me out of my slump, get me moving more, & maybe, just maybe, motivate our youngest to try new things, too. Now, some things might not be big things. In fact, most won’t. I suppose my theory is to just do things. Having two debilitating diseases, one of which is progressive, makes a person re-evaluate a lot of their time and effort. The bottom line is that if my body is going to be tired anyway, I might as well give it a good reason to be tired!

A hinderance for me has always been anxiety. Whether it’s caused by or in addition to, my diseases, the doctors can’t specify. But, I do have issue with crowds, strangers, etc. Wal-Mart is a literal nightmare for me. So, some of my firsts are going to challenge me. I know that. It also takes me twice as long as my husband & son to get somewhere we’re walking to and I am usually exhausted a whole lot quicker. So, the firsts will be a physical challenge too.

So far, I have done some small things. I ate at our local VFW with a crowd of people there. It was a major step for me. However, the people were pleasant, the food was fantastic, & we had a good time. I also tried yoga for the first time. But, I did The Yoga Prayer. Basically, it’s yoga but at times when one would meditate & such, Biblical Scriptures are read along with a Christian prayer. It lasted 45 minutes. It was tasking, difficult, but motivating & I felt accomplished when I’d finished. For a few of the poses, I did have to change a bit. There a just a few things my body can’t physically do.

Win, lose or draw, I hope to accomplish a lot more as the moments arise. If nothing else, I feel like I have a goal for the year. Hopefully, I will have a much fuller list when 1/1/18 arrives!