Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Knocking On Heaven's Door To Release The Potential Within

As I drove home from work yesterday, after a grueling weekend of suffering from stomach sickness, as smile reached across my face arcing into the biggest upturned semi-circle one could imagine. That day I chose to accept the principal's offer of working out during my conference period with a class of the boys. I wasn't sure what to expect, but to my surprise they were well mannered, lighthearted, courteous, and completely disarming. I also agreed that the next day, today, I would take them for mile run, and I did.

Driving home yesterday, Knocking On Heaven's Door played on the radio. I turned it up, belted out the words and experienced a complete and utter satisfaction of being in my skin and my world. The song is more suggestive of a dying experience, but for me the song took on another connotation, one of knocking on heaven's door because of the full potential of my life being released.

Sure, I have two broken down lawn mowers and my grass needs cutting. I have accumulated debt that I'm slowly working through. The master's program isn't a reality for me this year. My employment will end next August. My vehicle is fifteen years old and rattles down the highway. But even with the added strife...I'm still singing.

As the lead guitar solo soulfully sings out it's song to me from the bluesy melody, I felt uplifted and alive. As Annie and I begin to clear the ground for the prairie, discarding the unwanted items, it seems to smack of pulling the same out of our lives, finding out what hindered our growth.

Holding onto broken reality, broken things, broken relationships...we're now releasing these fetters and seeking a new reality, new things and new relationships. It's okay to change, adapt and try something new...and that's where we are.

Monday, September 28, 2009

A Few Things I Do To Cultivate Gratitude

Don Young commented that gratitude is one of the secrets of life. I completely agree with Don and I've been thinking about how to put into words the things I do to cultivate gratitude. So, here they are:

1. Before my feet hit the floor I find three things to be thankful for. I say it out loud and sometimes, it makes me giggle, which is even better.

2. I recognize what I value in other people. Sometimes, people will wonder why I've done something nice for them. I tell people what I like about them, such as how well they write, or take pictures, or how they take time to help other people. What I've noticed is that the value I've recognized continues to surface time and time again.

3. I allow what's good and positive to sink deep into my bones. I do this by enjoying the moment that I'm in. Gratitude is a deep emotion for me.

4. I smile even when I don't feel like smiling. The boys where I teach call this fake it to make it. It's difficult to say something mean and nasty when you've got a smile on your face. Try it, I dare you. :-)

5. I try to look for what is good in everybody and in every situation. I realize that there are some BIGGIES out there that require some whistle blowing and digging up, okay...I'm excluding those. Just try it with the people close to you, like your kids and friends. Stop critiquing and evaluating those that love you.

6. I try to find the positive intention. This comes in way handy for where I work. The boys daily delve into behavior that is quite annoying, but I look beyond the behavior and try to find the unmet need. Usually when I meet that need, the crazy behavior ends.

7. I have been trying hard to master this objective...sending thank yous. Just taking time to send a thank you to someone. Some people are quite thrown off guard by this simple gesture. I also look for the "quiet heroes" in my life, that don't toot their own horn.

8. I've made a list of the people in my life that I am grateful for, who have encouraged me. I go out of my way to let them know how much I appreciate them. I'm thinking that sometimes, this small act on my part may come at a perfect time for them.

That's my how to be more grateful to do list. Ultimately, you are in charge of how you respond to the events of life. Why not respond gratefully?

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Grace and Gratitude Nourish Hope

This weekend, starting about 2AM Saturday morning, I was hit with a bout of sickness. Every hour until 1PM Saturday afternoon, the sickness didn't subside. I was supposed to bring Jesse sandwich fixings for him and his sister, but I was unable to get very far. Around 3PM, Jesse called inquiring as to what happened to me. I explained how I was feeling, which then prompted Jesse to making a run to the store where he purchased plenty of Gatorade, Immodium AD and Pepto.

Jesse has that kind spirit that always has him looking out for others. He lost his mom and dad, both to cancer. Right now, he has two sisters fighting isn't doing so well, the other is responding to experimental treatment down in San Antonio. Bringing the Gatorade and other medications had me very grateful. There's such a grace about Jesse--a graciousness that's disarming and refreshing.

I listen to people a lot. I listen to their spoiled remarks. I listen to how we allow foolish little things annoy us and we give our strength to things that should not even get our attention.

Gratitude is a powerful thing. It produces resiliency and hope. Gratitude encourages the heart. Gratitude heals.

There's been research that draws a direct correlation between gratitude and health:

Research suggests that grateful people have more energy and optimism, are less bothered by life's hassles, are more resilient in the face of stress, have better health, and suffer less depression than the rest of us. People who practice gratitude--and yes, it is something one can learn and improve--are also more compassionate, more likely to help others, less materialistic, and more satisfied with life. Lisa Aspinwall, PhD University of Utah

Gratitude really does have a way of changing everything...beginning with how you feel.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Wink's Beautiful Starlets

During the Roy Orbison Festival, Shelby Richardson was crowned Pretty Woman. Durango commented that all Wink Women look alike, well...I'm here to provide some evidence that, that's not the case. Several new Wink beauties were caught on film, strutting the latest designs and hair-dos. Some might even say they look like a gaggle of angels or maybe a flock of seagulls.

The senior football boys dressed in drag to raise awareness and money for children with Down's Syndrome. A ceremonious beauty pageant was attended by all, and although we got plenty of laughs, we were reminded that any effort to aid a cause is worth doing.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

My View of H.R. 3200 continued (this could take a lot of blogging)

I've continued to read the H.R. 3200 bill and have come across another crucial piece that I'm liking quite a bit. That's the "timely payment of claims" portion. I'm not sure if it only applies to the national payor or to all private insurance in general. I've billed medical insurance for thirteen years. Medicare always paid timely, you just had to make sure you had the following: Certificate of Medical Necessity, qualifying diagnosis, every little box that needed to be checked, properly would usually see a turn around of about 4 to 8 days. Private insurance on the other hand, usually needed a preauthorization, then an authorization, then a participating physician, a prescription, and had to be filed within 30 to 90 days depending upon the carrier.

Blue Cross Blue Shield was notorious for "never" receiving the claim. And unless you had a good aging report that caught these unpaid claims quickly, a lot of times you'd be out of luck, because then you'd be out of timely filing. With medicare, you have 18 months to file the claim. Why so long? Well, sometimes a service may be provided in the emergency room, by a resident or visiting doctor. That doctor is the attending and ordering physician. If that doctor is visiting he/she may not be there anymore when you send the certificate of medical necessity for his/her signature. That's when the real fun begins...tracking down that doctor. So, if this bill requires private insurance to follow in the steps of medicare then that will be a big improvement in our healthcare system.

Here's a part of the bill that I think answers or quells all those people screaming that we won't have access to doctors:

No Restrictions on Coverage Unrelated to Clinical Appropriateness- A qualified health benefits plan may not impose any restriction (other than cost-sharing) unrelated to clinical appropriateness on the coverage of the health care items and services.

I'm not seeing where there will be long lines of people just waiting to see the doctor. I'm also not seeing where people will be denied preventative maintenance, yearly check ups or delay in getting treatment. I know I got lots more to read, but so's good.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Big Ed Lopez the Cowboy Fan...Not Durango's Big Ed

A couple of days ago I mentioned to Durango that a few of my friends from work attended the Dallas Cowboy's game in Arlington on Sunday using the ever popular Party Pass. After reading his blog, I wondered if my friends were one of the lucky ones that actually got in to see the game.

Not only did Big Ed Lopez get into the game, but he was featured in the big game's program. Soon we were all a buzz over this fantastical happening out here in West Texas. Big Ed Lopez was then interviewed by the local 9 News West and was a feature story on the television.

It's quite an entertaining news story. Big Ed Lopez was also featured in the Odessa American. I was also given a very cute baby shower invite which resembled a Dallas Cowboy game ticket.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Tsk...Tsk...Tsk...Hutchison is such a Cop Out!

A while ago, I sent a pleasant email to Kaye Bailey Hutchinson, pleading with her to consider co-sponsoring the FRAC Act. Here's my email:

I urge you to co-sponsor H.R. 2766/S. 1215 to repeal the
exemption for hydraulic fracturing in the Safe Drinking Water
and require public disclosure of the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing fluids. This exemption, also known as the "Halliburton Loophole," means that hydraulic fracturing, an increasingly common aspect of the oil and gas production process, is not subject to the same standards as other industries when it comes to protecting underground sources of drinking water. It is one of several environmental loopholes granted to the oil and gas production industry. Hydraulic fracturing involves the injection of fluids, often containing toxic chemicals, into oil or gas wells at very high pressure. This technique fractures the underground formation and can cause underground sources of drinking water to become contaminated. Other forms of underground injection are regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act to protect drinking water, but in 2005 Congress exempted hydraulic fracturing from the act to benefit Halliburton and other oil and gas companies. I am concerned that some families have already experienced drinking water contamination linked to hydraulic fracturing operations. Communities across the country are suffering from pollution caused by the oil and gas industry. We should hold this industry to the same standards as any other and close the Halliburton Loophole, and all other loopholes, to achieve consistent federal oversight. Natural gas may be an important part of our energy portfolio, but the right balance needs to be established between oil and
gas development
and protection of our precious natural
, including clean air and clean water. This legislation is simple, straightforward and reasonable, and I hope you will co-sponsor it. Every American deserves clean drinking water. Sincerely, Joely Trujillo P O BOX 337 Wink, TX 79789

And here's how she responded:

Thank you for contacting me regarding S. 1215, the Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals Act (FRAC). I welcome your thoughts and comments.
On June 9, 2009, Senator Robert Casey Jr. (D-PA) introduced S. 1215. Hydraulic fracturing pumps large volume fluids into a formation. The formation warms and causes a high-pressure combustion to increase oil production. The FRAC Act would amend the Safe Drinking Water Act to require companies to disclose the chemicals they use in their hydraulic fracturing processes. On the same day the legislation was introduced, the FRAC Act was referred to the Committee on Environment and Public Works, on which I do not serve. Should S. 1215 come for consideration before the full Senate, please be assured that I will keep your comments in mind. I appreciate hearing from you, and I hope that you will not hesitate to contact me on any issue that is important to you. Sincerely, Kay Bailey Hutchison United States Senator

I've read and re-read this email several times, and for the life of me...I can't figure out if she's for it or against it. So, I sent a follow up email asking her to clarify her position:

As your constituent and a supporter of the work of the League of
Conservation Voters
, I just became aware of your poor environmental voting record in the 2005 National Environmental Scorecard. I am deeply disappointed that you consistently voted against commonsense environmental protections. When it comes to protecting our air, water and natural heritage from corporate polluters and developing a forward-looking energy policy, we need a Member of Congress who will stand up and do the right thing. You conveniently told me that you do not serve on the FRAC Act committee, while omitting vital information: "On the same day the legislation was introduced, the FRAC Act was referred to the Committee on Environment and Public Works, on which I do not serve. Should S. 1215 come for consideration before the full Senate, please be assured that I will keep your comments in mind." What comments of mine will you keep in mind? That the toxic water used in fracturing is deadly? I'm curious to know your feelings on the FRAC Act and what way you plan on voting. I believe that as MY STATE
in the senate, I have a right to know. You owe me full disclosure. I am hoping that your constituency and I can count on you to represent our views and vote to protect the environment more frequently in the key debates expected in the second session of the 109th Congress. Sincerely, Joely Trujillo

I can't wait to get a response. It's like waiting to open Christmas presents!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Scantily Clad Men Serving at Hooters

I spent most of my Saturday over in Midland and Odessa. My primary reason for being in Midland was to keep a laser hair removal appointment with my laser technician, Alma. She says I've got one more appointment and then I'm done. I like the permanent hair removal. Having the hair removed permanently has decreased my prep time in the tub. All that shaving was a huge hassle! Word of caution to anyone whose interested in this process...don't wait. The laser only affects dark hair, so if you wait too long and it starts to turn grey...well, then you're less of a candidate for laser hair removal.

My secondary reason for the trip into town was to buy poster paint. I'm responsible for creating 4 catchy homecoming slogans for football signs. There was only one place for me to go and that was to Hobby Lobby. Hobby Lobby for me is like Bed, Bath and Beyond for others. I just love Hobby Lobby. Well, the Hobby Lobby that I frequent is right next to Hooters. Usually Hooters has scantily clad women, but today I got a treat! Outside in front of Hooters were men in speedo swimsuits washing cars!

I was very curious and wondered why there were men washing cars and not women in bikinis. As I got closer, I observed that these brave young men wearing skimpy swim wear were the swim team for UTPB. Apparently, they were putting on a car wash for a fund raising event. I've got to get a better camera, because I sure would of liked to have had a few pictures.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Ghost Rider by Neil Peart Chapter 8 We Are Islands to Each Other

It took the boys and I almost two weeks to get through Chapter 8 of Ghost Rider. Ever since the unfortunate imprisonment of Neil's friend, Brutus, the style of writing changes and becomes informal letter writing. As Neil pens these letters to Brutus, he periodically stops and asks, "Are you with me here? I know you are." The first time I read that out loud, a cold shiver ran up my spine...the boys also stopped looking at their books, because I suppose the way I read it, was more like I was asking them the question.

What does Neil mean by that? I questioned. One boy responded, "Neil carries Brutus with him as if he were really there." Yes, I agreed, maybe Neil needed to feel connected to something because what he once knew was gone...Jackie, Selena, the music...all of it. Only his friendships remained.

In chapter 8, Neil crosses into Mexico and gets all the way down into Belize. I shared with the boys my one and only trip to Belize. I was 18 years old, away at college. A mission group selected me to do puppets, singing and piano at a small church in Lady Ville, Belize. I spent a week there with 11 other college students. Although, the experience occurred many years ago, each face and memory remains vivid and etched deep within my psyche.

There were quite a few metaphorical terms I had to explain such as "phantom pain" and "no room at the inn." Neil describes the melancholy for Selena and Jackie as phantom pain. Missing something that used to be there, feeling their presence, but realizing that they're no longer there. I told the boys of soldiers that would lose a limb, but could still feel pain as if the limb were really there.

The end of chapter 8 had Neil back in Mexico. He left his bike to be repaired, booked a flight and headed back to Canada for the month of December.

The evening plane rises up from the runway

Over constellations of light

I look down into a million houses

And wonder what you're doing tonight

If I could wave my magic wand

I'd make everything all right

Presto, 1990

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

HCG Diet, Side Effect...Fat Eradication

I did two rounds of the HCG Diet, once in March and then again in May or June. The only side effect I noticed was fat eradication. My hair didn't fall out, my skin didn't go bad or I didn't experience any ill effects that I'm aware of. It's not like this diet just popped up on the market, I mean it did in the United States, but it's been around since the 40's in Europe.

I did both drops and shots. I didn't like the drops, not because they tasted bad, but because you had to hold the HCG under your tongue for 30 seconds and that was difficult. And then, you couldn't drink anything for 15 minutes. Since I took the drops in the morning after waking, it interfered with my java intake.

With the shots, I didn't have to worry about not drinking anything or worry about holding the liquid under my tongue. The shots just seemed to be easier for me to do. Giving yourself a shot probably sounds scary, but it isn't. The needle is very minute and it wasn't painful at all. I did have experience because of the glucagon that I injected for hypoglycemia, but even without that experience I still think I would have been fine.

I lost a total of 37 pounds. I went from a size 10-12 to a size 4. You don't have to work out or exercise on the diet, but I did. I weight lifted in order to firm my body after losing the weight. Also, from being on the diet, I found that I had retrained myself on eating habits. Today, I find that I still skip breakfast without any negative side effects. I usually have an apple around mid-morning and then tuna and crackers for the afternoon. I rarely have a meal at night, I just snack on something like a salad with cucumbers and maybe a few slices of turkey.

I'm thinking I still need to drop about 10 to 15 pounds more. With that thought, I've thought about doing one last round of HCG beginning in October. This way, I'll insulate myself against Winter gain and Thanksgiving and Christmas goodies.

Here's another recipe from the HCG Gourmet Cookbook:
Tomato Basil Soup
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth

2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes
3 ounces of tomato paste
4-6 leaves of fresh basil rolled and sliced
1-2 cloves garlic crushed and minced
2 tbs chopped onion
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp dried oregano
Pinch of marjoram
Salt and black pepper to taste
Puree all ingredients in a food processor or blender. Pour into a saucepan and heat to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. Serve hot, garnish with fresh basil leaves or parsley.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Two Places At Once? I Think Not...

I arrived at work today to remember that I was supposed to be at a work shop in Midland, 55 miles in the opposite direction, for 9AM. The realization didn't occur until 7AM, a substitute didn't arrive until 7:30AM. Once the substitute entered the room and I explained to her what needed to be done today, I went to let Mr. Hennigan know that I was on my way.

The sub didn't last long, she came storming out of the class room, saying she wasn't going to put up with it. Apparently, one of my little darlin's called her a whore. I know the boys didn't mean it, some times they just say things to see if it'll get your goat...and well, they got her goat. I've always been non-confronting in a situation like that, it seems to work. I immediately went into Mr. Hennigan's office and relayed the message. As I was walking towards my vehicle to hurry onto my destination, but not my final one, I looked over my shoulder and observed through the window, that Mr. Hennigan was now teaching my class.

I arrived for training about 10 minutes late, but not late enough to cause any huffiness from the presenter. The work shop I attended today, had to do with the proper administration of the Woodcock-Munoz test, which tests the language proficiency of English language learners whose native language isn't English.

Since arriving home, I've baked about 50 brownies for the football boys' goody bags, helped Annie with her homework, worked with Annie on the prairie project, blogged about the prairie project here, and now I'm getting ready to go run. I love busy days!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Wanna Take A Ride On The Teeter Totter?

Finding out that Patrick Swayze succumbed to pancreatic cancer today dealt a tremendous blow. I adored his characters, they always had a good guy quality with a bit of roughness around the edges. He had some great movie quotes other than, "Nobody puts Baby in the corner." One of my favorite lines of his was from Next of Kin. He's chasing his wife, played by Helen Hunt, around their house, he catches her, pulls her on top of him and asks, "Wanna take a ride on the teeter totter?" Classic.

He starred in lots of movies I really enjoyed, such as The Outsiders, which everytime while watching I cried. Red Dawn, instilled a sense of patriotism causing me to want to be a wolverine, also. Too Wong Foo Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar, gave me the ability to laugh at myself because of seeing that hunk of a man dressed in drag. He also co-starred with another favorite actor of mine, Sam Elliott. They played in the movie, Roadhouse. I also like the fact that Swayze choreographed the dance steps to Urban Cowboy, the quintessential 70's to 80's crossover film.

Swayze's admiration for his wife has always been another thing I truly liked about him. He worked hard, made some great movies and left me with some wonderful memories. He was a part of my growing up, from the Outsiders to Black Dog. I liked his positive attitude and I strive to carry a bit of that with me. Below is one of his real life quotes, that happens to be quite nice:

"I have a great deal of faith in faith; if you believe something strongly enough, it becomes true for you. I would like to believe that my father is right here with me in this room and that he`s my guardian angel, that there`s life after death -- because if there isn`t, why are we here? I don`t believe that just flesh and bones can contain from the point of view of physics this very real recorded energy inside of us. Whether it`s true or not, we need to believe it."

Mr. Swayze, you truly contained a great deal of vibrant that it glowed for almost six decades. I believe that you're now a brilliant ball of effervescent light, a luminary gliding effortlessly amongst the heavens.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

H.R. 3200...A Middle Class View

I'm in the process of reading H.R. 3200 which is the National Health Care bill that's on the table for confirmation. I got the idea of reading the bill because of the recent 9/12 protests rallies. I was asked to attend the one over in Odessa, but I declined. My reason for declining was because I wasn't quite sure what I was protesting. I mean, what if this health care bill really is a good one and I'm out there yelling against it, that would be pretty asinine of me.

So far, I've not come across anything that scares the beegeezus out of me. But I'm only at the beginning and I fully intend to read the bill, the entire bill and nothing but the commentary or someone else's opinion on what he/she thinks it really means. I'm rather tickled with the naysayers and doomsayers.

There are a few things that I really like about the proposal; strong insurance reforms, allowing us the option of a national health payer or private insurance, reduced insurance costs set according to one's income (that's sorta like reduced and free lunches for kiddos at school), but...I'm not so sure exactly what "shared responsibility" is referring to, and that's the one I'm gonna have to read a bit more about. I'm thinking that the "shared responsibility" has to do with the basic concept of our government "promoting the general welfare."

As I kept reading, I came across something truly wonderful and that's this:
Prohibiting pre-existing condition exclusions. That's a big one and a major reason why a lot of people can't get insurance. I worked in human resources for about 3 years. When a person leaves a company, they have the option of continuing their insurance coverage under something called COBRA. Of course, the person loses what employer contribution was being made, and has to foot the entire bill. Most times this is extremely expensive...upwards to about $700 - $800 per month. Some people have no choice, but to keep the insurance due to maybe already having a disease, such as diabetes or COPD. They just can't fore go having insurance until the next job, also they risk being denied new coverage for "pre-existing" diagnosis. It's a horrible calamity.

I also keep hearing (ooops, I said I wouldn't listen to others) that the feds have screwed up medicare. I think medicare works just fine. Medicare claims are paid timely. In fact, years ago, a provider could electronically submit claims to medicare get reimbursement within a few electronic deposit. It wasn't until SOMEONE decided to farm out the management of medicare to some PRIVATE insurance groups such as SECURE HORIZONS that things started getting really messed up.

That's all I've read so far, and I'm only at the beginning. The only thing I've come across that I'm not liking is the tax on people who don't have insurance.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

A New Addition to the Family

This morning I went out to have my first cup of coffee on the carport while the sun rose and the air around me was a cool 65 degrees. I had left the window down in my old 1992 blue Nissan pickup and as I walked past it, I noticed a small black furry object laying on the seat. It was larger than a tarantula but smaller than a skunk. Upon further inspection, it was a kitty that started his little row boat just a purring up a storm as soon as it saw me.

Hmm...what to do? I knew the moment that Annie sees this little creature that her first question would be, "can we keep him?". I lifted the kitty from my vehicle, placed him on the ground and quietly shooed him away. He didn't listen, but continued to gradually purr louder and louder and rub against my legs. I've been told that you don't pick cats, they pick you. I suppose this little black and white kitty already knew this was his new home.

As a momma, you sometimes have to allow your children to earn or work a little for the things they want. I've learned over the years, that things gotten easily are easily lost or forgotten, but those things in which you've had to work hard for...treasured and appreciated. I didn't tell Annie about the kitty, but thought I'd let her find out about him all on her own.

I came inside leaving the kitty outside and then proceeded making blueberry muffins for breakfast. The baking of muffins and washing of bowls woke my youngest. The first thing she does upon waking is find Shelby, the munchkin and she always goes out front to check on her flowers.

I sat quietly, awaiting my little one's re-entrance into the house...I knew it wouldn't be long before she'd have something to tell me. "Momma, there's this really cute little black and white kitty outside. It's tail is bent and it has a scratch under his neck." I replied, "Really?" "Oh, yes. And you should hear him purr...he sounds just like Sparky." Sparky, was our Russian Blue that died mysteriously a few months ago.

I went out with Annie to inspect the kitty. Agreed with her that he purred just like Sparky. Noticed that he got along well enough with Diamond, our Siamese. That's quite a task, because Diamond is a snob and she doesn't like anyone. She only hissed slightly at the kitty and then stalked away, tail high in the air.

I went back inside and finished up morning dishes, cleaned the counters, swept and mopped the kitchen floor. Annie approached me yearning to ask a question. "Momma, the kitty's really nice and he's not afraid of Diamond. He won't stop following me around. He doesn't have many fleas and he looks pretty you think we can keep him?"

So, we have a new kitty. Annie named him Whisky. She bought him a flea collar, some Friskies can food, a toy mouse and made him a scratching post. Soon, we'll take him to the vet for a check up and shots and possibly if he's old enough to be neutered.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Still Remembering

When I arrived at work today, the flags were at half mast in the hopes that we would all remember 9/11. The teachers at my daughter's school did a good job helping her remember, because she was only a baby when that event occurred.

Annie came home telling me all about 9/11. "Did you know that people jumped from the Towers?" "Some of them even held trash bags over their heads when they jumped out the windows, in the hopes that it would help them." "After that day, America changed." "They changed the way we looked at security and now we take it more seriously. Now, they lock the doors on airplanes." "There was another plane that was trying to hit the White house, but the people on that plane never gave up and kept that from happening. They were very brave." "Did you know that children died? They had day cares in the buildings."

Annie even drew a picture and then wanted to know how old she was when 9/11 happened. I told her that she had just turned a year old and on that day she was with her grandma. She wanted to know how old her brother was, I told her he was 8. "So, he remembers." I said, "Yes, we'll always remember."

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Natural Consequences of Tough Love

This summer was the first summer I'd not had off since 2004. This summer was the first time my children were left home alone. My eldest is fifteen and the youngest, nine. I felt that the eldest could attend to the youngest until I arrived home at around 2PM in the afternoon. Overall, the experience was not negative and the two got along fine enough.

I also felt that since my eldest was now fifteen, driving and texting, but not at the same time, that he should be responsible for cleaning his own bathroom. We discussed in length the proper procedure for cleaning said bathroom. I purchased and put cleaning supplies in the little cabinet under his sink in his bathroom, also got him his very own toilet brush; it was truly a proud day.

I decided that I wasn't going to check up on the cleaning of the fifteen year old that I would allow him to take on this responsibility fully. I didn't check the bathroom in June, July or August...but I did check the bathroom just a few days ago. I suppose some of you have noticed my lack of blogging, well, let's just say that the fifteen year old's bathroom needed some attending to.

Upon entering said bathroom, I found a layer of dust so thick that astronauts wouldn't have had trouble leaving their prints. I also found the darkest, toughest hard water stain around the toilet bowl. The sink was filled with man facial hair, I suppose from shaving. The floor of the bathroom was a nice grey color instead of it's usual white. I can say that fortunately, the shower was pretty clean.

The above mentioned teenager of mine knew better enough not to say a word, but immediately proceeded to do some honey do's around the house, like the dishes and sweeping and mopping the kitchen floor. After inspecting the bathroom and finding the unruly mess, I walked straight up to my son and held out my hand. Without a word he placed a teenager's most prized possession within it...his cell phone.

While I've spent the past few days fumigating, sanitizing, scrubbing, sweeping, mopping, and scouring that boy's bathroom, he's been phoneless. For any of you who are familiar with the daily lives of teenagers, you know that a teenager without the ability to text becomes quite a sullen figure.

Maybe you're wondering why the cell phone? Well, I figured that some of his time spent texting could have been better used by cleaning the bathroom. Today, my son met me up at the gym, he had that sheepish grin on his face that only a mama could love. I smiled back. He glowingly reported, "I've washed the dishes, took out the trash, vacuumed the living room and put away my clothes." I replied, "Would you like to have your cell phone back?" Time will only tell if this would be a lasting lesson, but for now all's right within the family home.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Annie Draws Inspiration From The Tandy Hills

That's my daughter Annie, posing in her prairie grass. Last year in her science class she participated in an online prairie restoration game. She excitedly related the story to me and then we played the game at home together. I remembered while reading Durango's blog about a place that he hikes frequently, Tandy Hills. I shared the website with Annie and she was so enamored with the prairie and the pictures and the things Mr. Young wrote about the Tandy Hills that she begged me not to cut the tall grasses down in the empty lot next to our house.

"Clouds of busy dragonflies swim on the heavy, morning air. Sky-slashing, Cooper’s Hawks, keep my senses sharp while a growing population of Cottontail rabbits keep Olive the prairie dog on full alert. Life is good at Tandy Hills Natural Area.

After reading those few lines by Mr. Young, Annie's little eyes lit up and she was hooked. Those words and pictures seemed like magic to my nine year old little darling. She asked, "Can we go to Tandy Hills? Will Olive the prairie dog be there?"

Annie keeps very good track of all her money. She's been saving her Christmas and birthday money for quite some time and has amassed a small fortune of $1200. She couldn't ever decide what she wanted to do with it, but said that one day an idea will come to her. That day has finally arrived.

"My imagination is roaming free in grasslands." Annie

With her $1200, Annie purchased four small city lots on the outside of town. Each lot cost $25 each. She and I then did our research and purchased prairie grass seed as well as wild flower seed. Due to the lack of rainfall in our part of Texas we chose drought resistant varieties:

Big Blue Stem, Canada Wild Rye, Porcupine Grass, Indian Grass, White Prairie Fringed Orchid, Common Spider Wort, Purple Coneflower and Wild Bergamont.

She wanted me to purchase the Western Meadowlark birds, but I assured her that once the grasses and flowers were growing and blooming the birds would come.

Now, we're spending time piling up caliche rocks, pruning Mesquite trees and dreaming of a prairie.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Feeding Twelve Hungry Varsity Football Boys

It's the day of the big game against the Jal Panthers and this morning I told my son to invite some of his friends over for a pregame meal. I knew the boys wouldn't go for the usual organic healthy food I usually prepare, so I made what any proper West Texas mom would make, fried chicken strips, mashed potatoes, gravy, rolls...I did whip up a salad and some steamed broccoli just in case there were a few health conscience boys in the mix.

After the pep rally, I asked my son how many of his friends were coming over and he said he hadn't gotten around to ask, so I figured maybe the usual 4 or 5 would be coming. I got home and started preparing the meal when a group of 4 came strolling in the door. I smiled asked them if they wanted a soda and continued cooking. Then another group of 4 came in the door. Okay, that's fine I can handle it. Then there was a knock at the front door, and 4 more boys came in. (YIKES!) So, there were a total of twelve hungry boys!

They dual linked the XBOX 360s, had 6 boys in my bedroom, with another 6 in the living room all playing HALO. There was a lot of hooting and hollering back and forth between the rooms, but I didn't mind, it was nice to hear them all having a good time. I busied myself in the kitchen frying up the chicken strips, boiling potatoes and whipping up gravy. A first batch was done and I called out the dinner bell. Within minutes the plate of strips were gone, I told them not to worry more was on it's way.

Annie, my daughter, was also in on the fun and commented that having them all there was better than watching television. I had 12 boys all calling me mom and saying thank you for letting them all come over. 64 chicken strips, 24 potatoes, 24 dinner rolls, a large pot of white gravy and 3 12 packs of soda...devoured in less than 30 minutes! They all had to be up at the stadium for 5:30, and within 5 minutes the house was clear and quiet once again.