Thursday, September 30, 2010

Tidings On Thursday

The kindness of people around us continues to amaze me. Especially in the high school counseling department. After a lot of planning and discussion, Andrea's guidance counselor and social worker arrived at a plan which will enable her to drop the classes which are creating intolerable stress, pick up a couple of classes on the computer, change one class to a different period and finish school by the end of November. I think the weight of the world was lifted off that girl's shoulders! Andrea seemed so much better last night, I cried. This morning was a bit different - she didn't sleep well - anxious about facing the changes today. But, once she gets into the new routine, I believe she'll be fine.

Michael seems better too. The hospice nurse increased his anxiety meds and he has a new oxygen machine with more power - the levels on the old machine were lower. I am concerned the changes being made are heralding a decline in his health. We all knew that was coming though. It's one think to talk/think about it; another to go through it.

Thank God for bringing Milly into our family. That little kitten has done more to lift our spirits than any medication ever could. She's an absolute bundle of energy - so fun to watch her scamper throughout the house. Daisy's become quite attached to her - the two of them play together now. Last week when we had to take Milly to the vet twice, Daisy became so agitated. Poor kitty had an adverse reaction to the booster shot. She's fine- a steroid shot did the trick.

So, I'm slowly becoming more hopeful about everything. My stomach's only tied in two knots today. LOL. No sewing last night - we didn't get home until close to 8 because of eye doctor appointments for me, Andrea and Tattoo Boy. New factoid: Did you know it was possible to have freckles on your eye? Well, I do! Bad news: I have a tiny cataract forming on my left eye - the doc wasn't concerned and said we'll just monitor it for now. Not affecting my vision.

The song running through my head this morning: "Great is Thy Faithfulness"

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thy own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy Faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided -
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Love ya,

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Halloween's A-Coming

I unpacked all my Halloween quilts and put them on the dining room table before I decided where to put them around the house.

Guess who found them?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Finding Daily Strength

Although I was off work all last week, it wasn't the easiest of times for me. It was sheer heaven getting up early, seeing Andrea off to school and then sewing until Michael decided to get out of bed. I managed to put together a good amount of items to sell at the craft fair. The unfortunate bit was poor attendance at the event. Still, it was a good time and Andrea enjoyed it too. We'll try to do another fair soon.

I'm struggling with how to word what lays so heavily on my heart at the moment. Michael's anger has affected us all. He has said some extremely hateful things to me and Andrea. One problem with that is how it affects Andrea whose self-esteem is so low. She cut herself the Sunday before last in an effort to handle all her stressors. At least she found the strength to come get me before it got out of hand. Her counselor thinks she needs out-patient care so I've contacted Lindner Center again. A break from the daily grind may help her.

Meanwhile, Andrea and Michael are not talking with each other at all. Michael feels he has done nothing wrong - he is no worse than any other dying man. (I beg to differ with him on this subject!) I am on edge constantly when I am around him - knowing what I say or do will set him off without warning. I talked with my brother and he's agreed to let Andrea and I stay at their house if things get too much for us. The hospice social worker told him he needs to find another way to handle his anger, but that went in one ear and out the other.

So, my pals, it's not too easy at the moment. If it wasn't for my faith, family, and sewing (of course!) I would be g-o-n-e.

I finished a quilt to donate for a raffle to raise money for a co-worker's medical costs. Sure hope it makes a difference. Next on tap - two quilts for buddies at work - for hire. They're all pieced. Then I have to quilt my cousin's wedding quilt - it's all pieced as well. So, loads of time on the frame for me in the immediate future. That's when and if I can grab the time.

I think I've used this quote before on my blog, but it bears repeating:

Our broken lives are not lost or useless. God's love is still working. He comes in and takes the calamity and uses it victoriously, working out his wonderful plan of love.
-Eric Liddell

Keeping my eye on that victory and love!

Love ya,

Friday, September 17, 2010

Keeping At It

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus
Philippians 4:6-7

How empowering is that? I have read and re-read that verse every day this week. It's powerful stuff and the joy it brings me is immeasurable.

It hasn't been an easy week. Andrea's stressed out by the demands of AP Art and being a senior. She signed up for the ACT exam and had a melt-down when she learned the test would take up half of a precious Saturday. I cannot shield the girl from the demands of college planning and preparation. She needs to grow up in her understanding that if you want something out of this life, there are things which need to be done or paid for up front.

Michael has calmed down a bit, although he refused to accept the help anxiety medication provides. The hospice nurse offered it; he declined. I'm grateful that I will have the opportunity to meet with the nurse in person next week. Together, we may be able to convince Michael to accept the help that is available. He is concerned that his oxygen generator is not providing enough for his lungs and it's max'ed out. We may have to obtain another or a second machine. This may require another trip for pulmonary function testing - something Michael has also refused in the past. He has written "letters" to both my children and my mother - content unknown. But, I get the feeling that these "letters" posted via Facebook are to say good-bye. I don't think the kids or Mom have read them yet - nobody's mentioned them to me.

I have a pretty upbeat mood at the moment. I'm off work all next week to get some sewing done for the craft fair next Saturday and to get the house ready for fall (cleaning, organizing, etc.) The thing that helps me the most these days is prayer. I talk with God every morning on the way to work - just a conversation - trust me, I don't close my eyes during the drive! LOL. Some people are prayer walkers, I'm a prayer driver!

Milly has taken to a spot on the dining room table, so we will need to start "telling" her that's not appropriate spot for a proper kitty. Meaning: I have to find a cheap-o water pistol. Another one of her favorite things to do is climb up the legs of our jeans. The debate to de-claw or not rages on at Chez Howe. Milly also got bold enough to pounce on old Daisy. I don't think she'll be doing that again for a while!

One of the projects I'll be working on next week is a quilt for a raffle at the office. One of my co-workers was diagnosed with breast cancer earlier this year. Our horrible health insurance is not covering all her expenses, so we're doing a variety of things to raise some funds to help her out. The quilt raffle was my idea. I have the top all pieced - will order the backing and thread today so I should be able to get it loaded on the frame by Tuesday. I know one week is not going to take care of all the projects I have!

Last night, Andrea, me and Andrea's best friend re-organized the family room, put on a yoga DVD and for 45 minutes the three of us exercised together. I'm extremely proud that I made it through the routine for one thing. Additionally, it was nice to do something with both of the girls. I really hope we can keep it up. AND - Michael was a gentleman (for once) and didn't make rude comments or make fun of us.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Love ya,

Monday, September 13, 2010

Looking Back At The Weekend That Was

Here were the bright spots for my weekend:

-Attended the quilt show at the Sharonville Convention Center on Saturday. Bought some fat quarters and a new stencil
-Spent some time at Sew Ezy - they have a list of fantastic classes for this fall and I'd love to take one or two of them. Also found the variegated thread that I need for a quilt.
-Worshipped and prayed for two hours at church yesterday. My pals in Sunday School are becoming so important to me. What did I do before I started attending class?
-Shopped at Wal Mart with Andrea and her friend Jordan.
-Sewed in between all the events and Michael's "spats".

I had a conversation this morning with Michael's social worker from Hospice about Michael's hateful attitude and verbal abuse toward me and Andrea. I also wanted them to be aware of an event that happened yesterday. He took it upon himself to move an air compressor from one side of the garage to the other in the hopes of pumping up a tire on his truck. The physical work taxed his lungs to the point where he didn't think he was getting any oxygen. Then, he began to have a panic attack - worst one I've seen him have. He "rushed" into the house and screamed that he wasn't getting any air and grabbed his portable oxygen unit. I ran to get the morphine and "panic" pills. Between all that, he wet himself and it took 15 minutes to get his breathing under control. Then, he wept uncontrollably for a while. I don't know whether he cried from fear or his inability to do anything around the house. I believe the former, but he won't admit it. It's so difficult to see him like that. Also, difficult was the verbal abuse he spat at me and Andrea when we drove to dinner on Saturday night. I won't repeat what was said, but rest assured it was not a happy meal. Andrea and I talked over dinner, but anytime we asked him a question or tried to engage him in conversation he ignored us.

The social worker noted all these events and promised to report them to his nurse who is scheduled to visit on Wednesday. We may have to change his medication or increase what he's currently taking. She also agreed to have a pulmonary therapist visit him at home to go over the workings of the oxygen concentrator and portable machine especially the portable one since he struggles so when using it. I felt genuinely better after speaking with Lynn. She was appreciative of the call too since she thought Michael was "pulling the wool" over her eyes during their in-person conversations. He's no exactly upfront with the Hospice workers which I can understand. To him, it's admitting weaknesses. To me, it's asking for much needed help and he can't see that.

Andrea and I are taking a yoga class at the Community Center tonight. I have the Advil ready for myself. (LOL) Wednesday night is college admissions strategy lecture at the high school. Saturday, my college roommate and her husband are supposed to drive here and go to the riverboat dinner/cruise downtown. I'm not committing one way or the other about Michael. It's a minute by minute thing with him and he's already made it clear he didn't want to eat dinner on the boat - takes precious time away from viewing the scenery. Plus, he's hyper-sensitive about being seen in public in a wheelchair with the portable oxygen. So, it's a full week. I've scheduled some PTO time next week and am hopeful of getting a lot of quilting done in time for the craft fair.

Not all rainbows and kittens in Chez Howe. Just one kitten and she's doing her darnedest to keep us smiling.

Love ya,

Friday, September 10, 2010

Serenity Now

Peace and tranquility rule today in Chez Howe. "Bad boy" Michael is very contrite. He knows how poorly he treated me and Andrea and is acting much better for the time being. I owe a lot of that to Michael's friend Martin.

You see, Martin and I "chat" on Facebook most nights. Martin truly loves Michael and wants an honest appraisal how his bestest buddy is doing. He also serves as a sounding board for my feelings and if Martin thinks Michael has been abusive, he lets Michael know in no uncertain terms. (Are all Englishmen brutally honest?) I believe that's happened. Like some men, Michael doesn't take what his wife says to heart. But if he hears the same thing from a guy - WHAMMO - it hits home.

Michael has never had and kept a lot of friends. Martin is probably the only friend Michael has so it's unfortunate that sometimes my spouse treats his buddy poorly. He moans about Martin's stupidity, lack of model train skills, poor money handling, etc., etc., etc. Michael's eldest daughter, Leah, told me that she doesn't remember her dad ever having buddies the whole time she was living at home. Sad. I don't know what I would do without my buddies - both via the internet and in person. Little wonder Michael feel so lost and alone - no faith in God and no buds.

Andrea stayed home from school today - she had a major art project due and was no where near completion because she kept changing her mind on the topic. I permitted her brother to "skip" school one time for the same reason, so she asked for the same treatment. It's 2:30 and the project is done! I'm anxious to see it - she did a pencil drawing of herself as an infant - and it was looking fantastic last night. She is so talented, but has little faith in her abilities. We're working on that.

Mark Lipinski was supposed to be at the quilt show in Sharonville this weekend, but as many of you know, Mark is battling polycystic kidney disease and is on the transplant list. He cannot be more than four hours away from home right now. Keep him in your prayers.

Well, I was resigned NOT to attend the show, but one of the quilts I'm working on would look fantastic with a variegated thread which I'd either have to order via internet or pick up at the show. Being that I'd prefer to SEE/TOUCH the thread first to make sure it suits the quilt, I may be headed to Sharonville.

Tattoo Boy had another one of his art pieces in a gallery show this weekend. His phone "blew up" again, so I have no way to get in touch with him other than Facebook and he doesn't log in there very often. So, I have no idea what gallery, times, etc. I'd love to see his work.

So, things are serene for now. I can certainly get used to them staying this way.

Love ya,

Thursday, September 9, 2010

A Better Day Ahead

Nothing like a kitten to cuddle to take the rough edges off life!
Happy Two Week Anniversary with us, Milly Bean!

A Long Night

Michael can be extremely cruel to Andrea and I at times.

That was pretty evident last night.

She and I drove to the community center to get a calendar for fitness classes in the hopes of finding a beginning yoga class we could take together. By the time we returned (20 minutes later), Michael was seething and accused us of of purposely cooking up excuses for leaving the house. He's lonely, he bellowed. To which Andrea replied that she's lonely during the day at times despite being surrounded by people at school. Then he said something really cruel to Andrea which I hope she didn't hear because by that time she was halfway to her room. (It's a coping mechanism she's developed - find a safe spot away from it all.) I told him he was totally out of line.

Not willing to fight/argue, I told Michael in total sarcasm, "Yes, you're right we look for things to do outside home to get away from you."

His response, "Fix me a cup of tea." The rest of the night before bedtime was tense. I reminded him that my brother and his best friend want to spend time with him, but he's pushed them aside. (Don't like Martin - he's an idiot. I have nothing in common with your brother.) He's jealous of the time I spend with Andrea - his needs are more important than hers, he claimed So, I sat in the family room with him, listened to him and watched the inane television shows he likes (South Park and Tosh.0) and then excused myself to get ready for bed.

I had trouble getting to sleep so I read some more of Carol Kent's book that I mentioned yesterday. Was it ever meant for me! The chapter began with a quote from Eric Liddell: "Our broken lives are not lost or useless. God's love is still working. He comes in and takes the calamity and uses it victoriously working out his wonderful plan of love."

It's pretty apparent that Michael doesn't have a clue about redemption - to help in overcoming something detrimental. The anger in him oozes onto us and somehow we have to find a way to rise above the gooey bits. Even in this situation, as Ms. Kent, pointed out, we can experience a spiritual and emotional empowerment. I can certainly help Andrea toward this as well.

What about Michael though? Anger and stubbornness are two of his traits which never were endearing, but at the moment they seem to be possessing him more and more. As he pointed out again to me last night, he's dying. Wouldn't we want to say in the future that we helped him, he asked. My position is this, how does he want to be remembered?

Right now, the answer to that one is not nice.

I gotta get to work. Sorry for the tone of this post today. I had to get it off my back, so to speak.

Love ya,

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Crime and Discussion

I had to commit a crime to get to work today. No, not the typical speeding down I-75. I forgot my corporate ID. Another employee was kind of enough to let me into the building, but then insisted he "escort" me to the security desk. WHAT? I've worked here for nearly ten years and this is the first time I forgot my ID. Did that warrant being treated like a criminal? OK, got to the security desk and the guard asked me to sign in and show my driver's license. Whilst digging through my purse for my wallet to produce requested license, I found my corporate badge. Phew! I'd been paroled! It was so embarrassing and pretty stupid of me.

That's what I get for leaving the house in a hurry. I was so busy getting dinner in the crock pot, starting a load of laundry and trying to track down Milly; finding and putting on my badge kinda got forgotten.

Ever read a book and you can't get the story out of your head? I'm reading "When I Lay My Isaac Down" by Carol Kent. It's extremely powerful stuff and I'd recommend it. Carol's only son was found guilty of first degree murder. In this book, she outlines the emotions and difficulty in giving it all to God - her dreams for not only herself, but her much-loved son and family. While I could not imagine going through Carol's heartache, much of what she outlines is applicable when you're faced with a major life crisis/challenge. Inspirational stuff and it'll be made even better next month when Carol lectures at our church.

The importance of prayer: It's something I don't do enough. It gets lost in the shuffle of daily activities. One "Guideposts" reader suggested praying during red lights and traffic jams. Excellent not only for improving prayer life, but also reducing road rage. I tried it last night and found myself chatting with God long after the red light turned green. And it felt GREAT!

Unfortunately, the holiday weekend is now just a memory. A good one. Andrea and I got some additional bonding time in by shopping at the outlet mall, Joanns, Half-Price Books, Panera's for breakfast, etc. Michael didn't go with us very much - difficult for him to get in and out of the car. Saturday night we purchased "Stardust" at Walmart and had family movie night. It's an enjoyable film- one of the rare ones that all of us like. Only $7.50 - great buy!

Michael had another spell where he feels like he's drowning - he gasps for air, yet it doesn't hit his scarred lungs. I've become quite adept at dispensing morphine - that seems to be the only thing that jolts him out of these episodes. These events are happening more frequently.

I pieced two more quilt tops and some placemats. The Go Cutter is an absolute God-send! It took me less than 20 minutes to cut the fabric for those projects. I agonized over purchasing the thing since it was expensive. The more I use it, the happier I am that I spent the money for it.

Keep my nephew Wesley in your prayers today. He's trying out for the lead in the school musical. Wes has practiced all summer for this part and he's quite determined.

Love ya,

Thursday, September 2, 2010

A Good Week

Thursday is usually my favorite day of the week. Odd, huh? I think of it this way: the entire weekend is in site and I've successfully navigated through three work days without creating too much chaos.

This week's been a bit different. Andrea and I attended a luau at church on Tuesday night. Great food, wonderful friends, loving family and a fantastic message to "lei" your burdens down. The program also showcased some upcoming events in our church's women's studies program for the fall.

I usually don't leave the office for lunch, but on Monday, I met Linda at IHOP. It's always good to reconnect with her. We e-mail and phone - honestly good stuff - I just prefer the face-to-face time with my loving friends. And Monday's lunch was no different. Linda's courage and strength are amazing. And her enabling skills are pretty fantastic, too! She told me about a going-out-of fabric sale in Hamilton which I HAD to check out before going home that night. Thank you, Linda! I added 33 yards of fabric to my stash for $80 - all wonderful, shop quality stuff.

Andrea, Michael and I had dinner out at Penn Station last night - something we're doing less frequently since it's difficult for Michael to get in and out of the car. After we took Michael home, Andrea and I searched the shelves at Half Price Books. Somehow, Andrea always manages to find something. Me? I have far too much sewing to get done to pick up new books. I haven't read the last two books I bought.

Milly decided to spend some time in the sewing room last night. Once she discovered how much fun it was to claw the flimsy draped on the frame, I had to "escort" her out of the room. What is it with cats and fabric anyways? Smudge always loved to lay on fabric and Milly's doing the same. I gave her a couple of scraps to play with-kept her entertained for two seconds. A long thread on the floor was vastly more fun. So was dodging between the boxes and storage containers underneath the frame and sewing table.

Not much planned for the weekend. Andrea and I want to hit the sale at Joann's to pick up Eeyore fabric for a lap quilt she wants and a few other odds and ends. Perhaps breakfast at Panera's for us girls on Saturday morning. A friend from Columbus may be visiting either Sunday or Monday (plans need to be finalized). One thing's for certain: sewing. The craft fair is only three weeks away and we need more merchandise.

I wish you all a fantastic, restful Labor Day weekend.

Love ya,