Showing posts from October, 2009

World's Cutest Ninja

Of course, I'm a little biased.

It's about 85 degrees right now, so Chef shucked some of the elements of his costume. Other than the mask, everything is reusable. Let's just say I'm happy with both kids allowing me to pull together their costumes. They both are really happy with what we ended up creating this year.

Score one for Mom!

Picachu, I Choose You

Game Teen is happy with my crafting abilities. He wanted a Commander Cody from Clone Wars costume. However, my budget had other plans.

I'd suggested Pokemon trainer Ash Ketchum last week. He decided that he liked the idea a lot. I liked it, too, because my total outlay on things that were costume specific was less than ten bucks.

Homemade Costumes are Awesome!

This year, my kids had definite ideas about costumes. Chef wanted to be the Snuggie Reaper and Game Teen wanted to be Captain Rex from Clone Wars.

We'd seen a Tie Dye Snuggie on TV and his plan was to wear that, carry a scythe and he'd tell people "I'm here to kill your high". I thought it was inspired. Unfortunately, the only way you could get that Snuggie was online-the stores carry blue and pink. Oh, and it's been in the high 80's around here, much too warm for that costume.

Meanwhile, Game Teen also had considered being Ash from Pokemon. I thought that was a better idea, as he is now too big for most kid's costumes.

Tonight, we went out to the stores and got the stuff for good, old fashioned home made costumes. The end result is that tomorrow evening, we'll have Ash from Pokemon and a Ninja warrior going through our neighborhood.

Pictures to follow. Chef's turned out really good, and Game Teens requires minor surgery to a blue tee shi…

Two Percent Girl Strikes Again

Thanks to having Factor V Leiden, I tend to be cautious with surgical procedures. Especially if the decision to have one requires lifetime medication that I cannot take because it would cause my blood to clot more than it already does.

Three years ago, I had a surgical intervention to avoid another one. At the time, I asked my doctor what complications she knew of that only happen to a small group of patients. The only one she could come up with was one I could live with.

About a year ago, I started experiencing pain and thought it was related to something different. It was intermittent, but the same every time it did occur. A few times, it was so bad that I contemplated going to the ER, even without insurance. However, there are family members with issues I thought were the same, so I called and asked if the pain sounded like it could be that problem. The answers were yes, it did sound similar.

Now that I have health insurance, my first order of business was to see a doctor for t…

What's For Dinner Wednesday

Tonight's dinner was really yummy. I cheated and bought a rotisserie chicken from Sam's club, but I paired it with rosemary roasted potatoes and made a pan gravy from the drippings in the container with the bird. Then I added a salad.

Unfortunately, I sent Chef over to Jane's with her dinner and he called to tell me she wasn't answering the door. A few panicked minutes later, a check of the house and a phone call later (wonder how I memorized the hospital's number?) and I found her in the hospital.

If I had arrived at the hospital a few minutes sooner, the picture would have been Jane's Mexican Mystery Meal. She says it is good, but she started drooling at the picture of what dinner should have been tonight.

I am charged with making it for her when she gets home.

With Apologies to Janis Joplin

Oh Lord, won't you buy me a new king size bed?
The queen size has spent many nights supporting our heads
My back, it is aching, and it won't ever mend
So Lord, won't you buy me a new king size bed?

Hey, at least it's a lot cheaper than a Mercedes Benz!

The back doesn't like me very much lately. I've got a call into a physical therapy practice for the doctor prescribed sessions. Once they check with my insurance, get a copy of the MRI and see what the doctor wants them to do, I should get some sessions going.

Part of me wonders how much this bed is exacerbating the problems, though, because what had been an issue with the neck and one shoulder is now affecting both arms, between the shoulder blades and my lower back. I know things are bad when I stopped in at Game Teen's school and the nurse asked me what I did to my back-she could see how stiff I was.

I broke down and took a Vicodin an hour ago.

This is getting old...

The Mile Long To Do List

Do you have one of those?

I'm being pulled in a bunch of different directions, between school, the kids, the nursing home, Jane, the vacuum, trying to find a physical therapist. I made a list today and there's 34 things I need to do this week. Aaaack!

I need a 25 hour day so I can get all this stuff done. Is anyone working on that? I will say this-that phone has definitely helped on one front. I can multitask while I'm waiting in line somewhere and check that email or college web site.

Someday, this stuff will ease up. It'd better, because half of that list is Mom and Jane tasks and responsibilities. When I get my normal life back, it'll seem so relaxed.

Think I can sneak in a soak in the tub?

A Good Time Was Had By All

The last time we attended a council wide camping event, we camped in a field next to a busy rural highway at a racetrack. It was hot, there weren't enough porta potties and NO running water. The heat brought on a nasty migraine and sent a leader to the hospital.

That was my first scout camping trip, after a nearly 20 year hiatus from camping. The fact that I went back six months later should tell my kids how much I was willing to do for them to enjoy their scouting experience. Thankfully, that one was much better.

This time, the council utilized three of the Boy Scout campsites for what would normally be called Cub World. There were six activities during the day, then a costume contest, carnival games and a 'spook trail' at night.

As the site is huge, and we didn't know how far we'd have to hike into our location, the leaders made the decision to provide meals for everyone. I am here to say how much I LOVED this. No cooking gear, no cleaning (well, only for a …

A Camping We Will Go

It is 90 degrees and there's barely a cloud in the sky. This means we're camping with the cub scouts.

The usual camping trip is just our pack, but our council coordinated a 'Spook o Ree' at several Boy Scout camps for all the local packs. As I am posting this, Chef is enjoying BB shooting. Next, they'll be doing the pumpkin launch. Game Teen, by virtue of being small for his age, got to participate in archery (his favorite sport).

Our days of cub scout camping are drawing to a close. Next month, Chef goes on a special Webelos/Boy Scout camping trip, so we will miss the Cub pack trip. Then, the next trip is in February-and Chef crosses over to Boy Scouts at the end of the month.

So, I will enjoy the communal camping while I can, because it will feel weird to not have boys congregating in my tent and parents to sit around the camp fire with until 2am.

If you told me four years ago that I would be bummed at the prospect of no camping, I would have told you that you …

Lunch in Sarasota

Guess who drove all the way to Sarasota and was operating under the assumption that everything was in the damn box? Especially since I was told that the items were indeed put back in the damn box last night?

Yep, that would be me.

I left Lakeland at 9am and didn't get back until 1pm.

I got to the place to return the damn vacuum and the woman assisting me asked "where are the parts?"

"They're in the box, aren't they?"

"No ma'am, they aren't." She then got a manual to show me what was missing.


Today's original plan was to work on my Power Point for my mid term in IT Ethics, then head out to the campsite for this weekend's activities. The four hours spent on this errand meant that I didn't finish the assignment until 7pm. There was no way I'd get to the campsite in time.

We're leaving at 6am.

Oh and the attachments? I have to overnight them on Monday.

If a Kirby salesperson shows up at my door, they're going t…

A New 'Do

My hairdresser is on a leave of absence. I got my haircut the week before she was going in for some surgery, and she expected to be back in about six weeks.

At the appointed time, I would pop in to the salon each week and see if R had returned. I was growing concerned, but the other stylists assure me she's doing okay and looking good, she's just not ready to return yet.

I had my first 'event' as part of the Leadership Society and felt I could wait no longer. My hair was looking scruffy and uneven. Even headbands weren't enough to tame the wayward locks.

Yesterday, I went into the salon again. As R still hadn't returned, I bit the bullet and asked one of the other stylists to even up the current style until R could work her magic. We conferred and she agreed that my hair does grow unevenly, and was about to start on it when another hairdresser came out of the back and I loved her hair.

So I commented that I wish my hair was thicker, because I love that cut. …

Three Hours and 180 Miles

On Friday, I will be driving over to Sarasota and returning the @#$%@$@%@$ Kirby. I explained to the company manager that Jane is incapable of standing and doing her dishes, do you honestly think she's going to be able to push a vacuum?

She asked if it was obvious that Jane might have clouded judgment to the average person. I said to our lawyer, yes, but the average person, not so much. I would think that the fact that the woman used a walker to get to the front door and is tethered to an oxygen machine wouldn't really be able to use their product might cause them to think twice about selling the product to Jane or any other disabled individual. I mentioned that Jane's DPoA is sitting at the lawyer's office, ready to go, that we felt that it could wait until she was in assisted living to activate- but I could change my mind and do it now.

After a few minutes on the phone, she said she would call Jane to verify what I had told her. She did, asking Jane why she pu…

$58 a Month For 30 Months Gets Me

Extremely hot under the collar.

I swear, it's like the salespeople see an easy mark from miles away. On October 13th, someone felt the need to buy a Kirby vacuum cleaner. A very EXPENSIVE Kirby vacuum cleaner.

Why? I do not know. We cook meals for her, because she really isn't up for the standing at the stove. Heck, she's not even able to clean up after the things she does prepare, so pushing a vacuum around while lugging around oxygen lines? That is so not happening.

The salesperson got their hooks in good. They went on and on about how it's so good for picking up cat hair (Game Teen and I are allergic, and current plans are tentative that we will move into their house after our lease is up, but I was fully expecting to rent an industrial shampooer to do both houses before that happened) When I said I Dyson Animal could do the same thing for a quarter the price, she was crestfallen.

I'd pointed out what a bad idea it was and that wasn't cool. Unfortunatel…

The Lesson For Today? Ethics and a Cheater...

I'm taking an Ethics class this semester. Internet Ethics. Yes, I willingly chose this class, then when I read the syllabus, worried about what I was getting myself into. There was a lot of reading, and SIXTY percent of my grade would be based on group assignments. I don't know about you, but when the majority of my grade depends on other people, it is disconcerting.

Fortunately, there's one other person in my group who has been fantastic. M has the same work ethic and we're keeping each other sane with the workload. Another student, E, has moved here from Cuba recently and he and I talk each Friday night before turning in our book assignments because some words have dual meanings in English and they conflict with the one in Spanish.

As I said, the majority of the work is submitted as a group. There are ethical dilemmas that are presented and each member is expected to submit their interpretation to a private group discussion board. One of the two main projects …

Our Day At Sea World

Every October, Sea World has a Halloween Spooktacular and we've made a point of getting over there for it at least once. Today's original plans involved a potential meet up with an online friend, but that fell through. I'm glad that I mentioned the visit to Maureen, for she, Coaster Kid and his friend Big Guy joined us for the perfect weather.

While I had the Nikon in my bag, today was a perfect day to test out the iPhone camera's ability in normal use. It passed with flying colors, taking decent pictures without a flash.

Some new things I experienced: Manta and adjoining aquarium, the revamped Wayfarer's Inn and A'lure, the Call of the Ocean.

Yes, I went on a coaster with neck pain, because the newer coasters at the BuschInBev soon to be Blackstone parks are the smoothest you'll ride. Manta didn't disappoint on that or any fronts. If you're intimidated by the fact that your weight is held by the shoulder harness and ankle restraints, then don'…


Yesterday, I drove back over to Tampa to undergo two tests to determine what nerve was being pinched and what was causing it.

First up, the MRI. The last time I had one was in 2001 to figure out what was causing my benign positional vertigo. That was not a pleasant experience, because the tech basically put me in the air conditioned coffin for 45 minutes and didn't say a word to me while I was hyperventilating and going deaf in the darn thing.

When I got there, I asked if I could listen to music. Alas, based on where they needed to scan, no dice on that. The machine was a 'wide open' style, but again, they needed to scan my neck and shoulder, so I dealt with being closed in once again.

I probably would have been okay with the top of the thing being inches from my nose IF my arm wasn't shoved against the side while I was sliding into the machine. If you need an MRI, as soon as they get you situated on the table, close your eyes and keep them closed-it won't be a…

Things That Make Me Happy

The local supermarket I frequent just started carrying Zweigle's White
Hots.Thank you, Sweetbay.

Isn't It Ironic?

The other day, I finally saw the neurologist. It was something of a relief to hear his expert opinion that what I've been enduring is probably not a spread of RSD, but a pinched nerve.

That's not a complete diagnosis or answer. What is causing this pinched nerve? Is it muscular or skeletal. Based on some of the symptoms I've experienced, I'm pretty sure this thing is skeletal. Why is that? When I'm not in a ton of pain and actually lift my arm higher than chest height, I feel the two bones of the upper arm 'pop' in and out of place.

So, tomorrow, I get to experience two lovely tests. First, an MRI to look at what's going on in my neck and shoulder. Then another test, an EMG or Electromyography, in which my new neurologist places some needles in my neck and arm and then does a nerve conduction study. He feels this is the best way to get at the root cause.

I also have an order for some physical therapy. What is a bummer for me is that I can tel…

What's For Dinner Wednesday

A few months back, Chef came up with his idea of a good sandwich. He started with asiago cheese bread, slathered on honey mustard dressing, added applewood smoked ham and cheddar cheese, then grilled them.

These panini's have been a family favorite ever since. Tonight, the boys asked for pizza, but we also had some last night. I decided that I was having panini instead.

The only thing I altered from Chef's 'recipe' was that I used sourdough bread in place of the asigo. It was a good replacement. I fully expect Ed to ask me to make some when he gets home from work in an hour...

Finally, Caring and Compassion

After the past few weeks of dealing with the not so lovely social worker at the hospital, I was starting to get jaded about the prospect of finding professionals who actually CARE about the patients to whom they are charged with providing service.

In visiting several nursing homes, I found several places where the initial impression that the staff had a lot of compassion for the residents. A gentle touch, a kind comment, using their names-they go a long way. At one facility, a resident had wet herself, and the administrator who was giving me a tour promptly found two caregivers and explained that the resident would need a change and one jumped right on it.

One of the places we visited seemed a little hectic, noisy and smelled unpleasant. The staff, however, was just as pleasant and helpful as any of the other places we'd visited. This facility jumped when I explained what our needs were-contacting the insurance company on our behalf and getting an approval for Mom.

Since she&…

Chef Explains Why He Likes Bad Guys

Scene: My car, Saturday morning. Chef Jr and I are driving to his popcorn show and sell. I realize that my phone is in my bag behind me and I need it. The days of old are gone, I can't reach behind me, so I appeal to the child to grab it for me. He does and I comment "You rock, kiddo." This is what commences:

Chef: Well, I dabble in the good.
Me: What do you mean? You're a good kid.
Chef: No, I'm evil. I am a bad guy.
Me: Why is that?
Chef: Because I feel bad for them. They always lose. Good always triumph. I figure I can help them to win a few. See, the good guys can't resist my curly hair. No one can defeat the wonderfulness of my curly hair.
Me: Is that so?
Chef: Yeah, and when I add my secret weapon, good guys are vanquished.
Me: What weapon is that?
Chef: This pout.

Chef; No one can defeat the pout, not even the bad guys.

He does have a point. Think I should line up the interviews with the FBI, Interpol, Scotland Yard and other law…

Suzanne's Soundtrack Sunday

What am I listening to the most these days?

Not songs. I wish that were the case. However, a house with two kids who are loud and like their video games and tv shows is not condusive to studying. Add my ADHD, and any songs I might have playing in headsets will cause me to focus on the song, not the text book.

I've turned to white noise.

No, I don't have the television tuned to a channel that doesn't have anything broadcasting, I've been listening to rain storms, lightning and waterfalls. THEN, I got the iPhone last week and got an app that Jill suggested, Binaural Beat.

It's pretty cool. I can tell it what I'm looking to do and it will give me appropriate soothing sounds. Sleep? Gotcha covered. Relaxation? There's a format for that, too. Study aid? That's what I'm listening to.

It has a steady rainfall track, interspersed with some deep wind chimes and thunder. Underneath it is an oscillating tone that helps brain function. Sometimes, I h…

Happiness? Just Add Cat

Word to the wise: Double check that something has indeed posted to the blog by using the "View Blog" feature. In my rush to get back to schoolwork, I didn't-and this was stuck in draft!

Jane and I stopped by the nursing home today. Mom seems much better with a good night's sleep. She likes the caregivers, the roommate is nice and it appears all will be well with this temporary arrangement.

However, we know she misses the creature comforts of home. We brought her television and a few more items that she needed. She has a Jiminy Cricket plush that normally sits next to the TV, and we brought that, too. She was happy to see it and gave it a hug.

We saved the best for last. She has been moping, just like a certain feline has. I asked last night and was told, yes, we can bring the cat in, so long as he leaves when we do.

When I lifted the cat carrier onto her bed, her face lit up like it was Christmas morning. Her Jiminy climbed out of the carrier and into the crook…

Crossed Another Hurdle

Ed's mom is sleeping in a bed in a nursing home tonight.

We're getting somewhere, and I feel less of a burden hanging over me, now that the insurance approved this placement. Interesting story there: I stopped by their local office today and the patient services rep that I spoke to had NO RECORD of any requests for rehabilitation placement until the place that she is currently placed at submitted one yesterday.

Yes, I do have copies of her two screens, but the woman didn't understand what I was saying when I asked if she would be able to see any requests that were denied. After all, she's supposed to be able to speak to their clients about their accounts, right? Monday, I call their headquarters and get the answer to that one.

If the hospital didn't request rehab, and fed me a line about the insurance company denying her because she has dementia? Well, they're going to be sorry they were leaning on me about a hospital bill.

I'll have TWO major incide…

Jumping the Hurdles of Health Care For the Elderly

Today, I share some of my learning experiences of the past few weeks in the hopes that you don't have to cross these hurdles someday with your aging relatives. You will have planned ahead.

1. The elderly are eligible for Medicare once they reach age 62. This coverage does NOT cover all medically related expenses. Oh, and if you receive Medicare and are offered the opportunity to go to a PPO or Managed Care Option? DO YOUR RESEARCH FIRST!

Some of the crappier companies will sway the elderly into signing up for their plans by inviting them to a free presentation, give them a meal and a couple of cheap items with the plan's name on it (like pens, credit card holders or refrigerator magnets) and the gullible will think "they are so NICE, they fed me, therefore they must care." No, they don't. Such is the case with my in laws. (They're sweet people, but savvy, they are not.)

A good rule of thumb: if it's a big name and you've heard of them before (U…

What's for Dinner Wednesday

There are many meals in this house that we disagree over. I love pork chops-Ed can do without ever having them. He likes veal, I refuse to prepare it because I lived near farms with 'veal calf jails' for many years.

The number one, don't make it for me because I won't eat it meal has always been Shepherd's Pie. It seems that Ed's college cafeteria would take the previous night's leftover meat, slap a bunch of mashed potatoes on it and call it Shepherd's Pie! Even veal parmesan (one of Ed's favorite meals that I refuse to make). It sounds gross, so I'm not surprised at his aversion to this meal.

When we worked for the meal prep kitchen, they had a version of the dish that used shredded beef that was divine. Knowing he wouldn't want it, I made my portions into micro-mini portions for me and the kids, and then Ed blew that concept by liking their version.

Lately, we've seen a commercial for a sausage based pie, so tonight, I did my spi…

Scrambled Sue

There was a lot on my plate today:
Fill out Mom's Guardianship paperwork
Visit the hospital with Jane and Ed
Talk to Mom's doctor to find out why they approved her release
Call her insurance and see why they won't approve a nursing home
Visit as many nursing homes as possible so we can pick one
Do my Lit homework

Well, the hospital visit took twice as long as I expected, but that was good. Initially, Mom didn't recognize any of us, but ten minutes later, she did. She told interesting tales-that her doctor told her she was losing her house, didn't have one anymore, either. I don't know if she was imagining that or if it was really said. If so, I'm sooooo reporting the doctor.

She is on board with going to a nursing home. That doesn't mean she likes the idea, because she really feels that Jane should be taking care of her. However, she understands that Jane can't, so she'll go.

So we grabbed lunch and dropped Jane off at home. I sat down in fro…

Sunrise on Lake Parker

Taken with the iPhone. I really need to find out if this thing will zoom, like my old camera phone did.

Smart Thinking

At the beginning of the semester, I printed out hard copies of the three syllabuses that were available online (my Intro to Counseling Skills did not have one posted, we got it in class). It's partly due to my desire to have something to mark up, to show progress, that I'm completing something. Mostly, I do it because I know there will be times when I'd like to review what I need to do when I know I'll be away from a computer. Like for instance, while I sit in a doctor's office, waiting for an appointment.

The ingrained need to have a paper syllabus, like the old days, is one that seems to have served me in good stead this semester. One instructor had a syllabus that was posted by the former instructor, but she then wiped it off, preferring to only post two assignments at a time. Interesting note: they match up with what I have, if not the order that they were assigned by the previous teacher.

Yesterday afternoon, there was a power outage on the main USF campus…

Suzanne's Soundtrack Sunday

I have a confession, one that my friends and family have known for a long time.

I like punk rock. Since I was a kid, and heard the Ramone's "Rockaway Beach", the driving rhythms have my toes tapping. The Clash and the Sex Pistols came along, and yet again, the driving beats of "This Is the Radio Clash" and "Anarchy in the UK" were incredibly appealing.

Probably the most notable punk experience I've had in my life is seeing ex Sex Pistols lead vocalist Johnny Lydon's Public Image LTD perform at my college union's ballroom. The room was one giant Mosh pit-and I had plaster from fingertip to elbow!

I was sure that someone would end up with stitches or that the cast would be slammed off me. However, someone decided to tick Mr Lydon off and he left the stage with the comment "I don't like be'in 'pit on by ahs' holes!" He did come back, but the crowd calmed down.

Over the years, there have been bands that follow th…


Proof for the northern relatives that we do know what pumpkins are and
can get them in Florida.

I Caved In

Lately, my phone has been underwhelming. In one week, I have had 20 calls go to voice mail because it didn't ring. Thus, I was considering a crackberry. The access to email has become more important since returning to school.

Today, it came to a head. I received critical phone calls from Medicare and the hospital that were time sensitive and my phone did not ring once. Time to go track down a crackberry. After visiting Walmart and the AT&T store, I walked out with a new phone.

An iPhone.

Let the geeking begin.

When the Solid Excrement Hits The Oscillating Cooling Device

The hospital called Jane several times this morning. "Your mother's release paperwork has been signed by her doctor. You need to come pick her up." The patient that is incoherent, incontinent and cannot get out of a bed unassisted is going to be sent home to live with someone who is marginally able to care for herself, so long as Ed or I make food and run errands? Right.

Jane couldn't handle the phone calls, they were upsetting her, and she shut down again. The social worker was then told them to call me. This was after Jane cried on the phone and told them that she can't take her at home several times. She's devastated that she can't do for her Mom what Mom did for Nana. The social worker played the guilt card "Shouldn't you be a good daughter and bring her home?" Finally, I happened to call while she was on the phone with them the third time and told her to have them call me.

I called the lawyer's office, leaving a message to tell …

Taking Some Steps

Ed, Jane and I visited a lawyer today to explore options for Mom's situation. She's still not coherent, cannot get out of bed or a chair without help and has other issues. The hospital has called Jane a couple of times to ask if anyone could care for her at home. That answer is a resounding NO.

So, thanks to my landlord's suggestion, we visited a lawyer today who specializes in Elder law. She was wonderful, guiding us through what steps we need to take.

First up, she and a notary need to visit Mom at the hospital to see if she's coherent enough to allow us to make Jane power of attorney. I think that means we need to visit her this weekend to let her know we're doing this for her. If she's not cogniazant enough to agree to a PoA, the next step is to appoint a guardian. The lawyer really wants us to try the PoA first-it's cheaper and easier to work with.

Then, she explained how their assets worked and can be protected. She agreed that we have to refuse…