I am back from Leadership, and I am exhausted! My return flight landed in Colorado Springs yesterday at approximately 11:30 a.m., I stopped to get lunch on the drive home, and the rest of the day, I was in recuperation mode. I napped all afternoon. My husband and I flew to Orland together last Monday and spent a day in Epcot. I had never been before. It was fun, but I was a little disappointed in the fact that it appeared to be mostly restaurants and gift shops. But, we did get to see some of the other attractions like Mission Space, Spaceship Earth, and Soarin’. We were going to do the design a car thing at Test Track, but it began experiencing technical difficulties as soon as we got into line and it ended up being a longer wait so we skipped that one.
Hubby left Orland on Wednesday morning as my stampin’ friends began to arrive. Leadership was a whirlwind of activities with many new announcements mostly relating to Stampin’ Up!’s renovation of their compensation plan and events schedule since it is quickly becoming a global company with demonstrators all over the world.
I left Orlando exhausted, excited about all the new changes, and loaded down with a lot of free product from Prize Patrol and give a ways. I am anxious to get into my stamp room.
Today I am posting the card I made for our team swap along with a gift cardholder I made for my roommates. A word about the card: the sentiment is done in Early Espresso Embossing Powder. I used this color because the Soft Sued ink the rest of the card is done in didn’t appear dark enough. It is stamped on white vellum. Before I stamped the fern design behind the sentiment, I stamped off once. I also stamped off once before stamping on the Crushed Curry circle. Another thing you might want to know is I used Best Year Ever Designer Series Paper and ribbon from the Best Year Ever Accessory Pack which are both in the Sale-a-bration Catalog. You get 1 item FREE from this catalog for every $50.00 you purchase. The gift cardholder was cased from one I saw elsewhere, but can’t remember who I should give credit to. Sorry. The hearts are embossed on vellum using the Happy Heart Textured Impressions Embossing Folder. Hope you like both.
It seems the last two months have been a whirlwind of activities. I haven’t had much time to stamp, and I have missed it quite a bit. I’ve thought about it every day. The whirlwind started with our first time trip to Cancun, Mexico the week before Thanksgiving. Remind me never to take a vacation immediately before a major holiday again. We returned home the Monday just before Thanksgiving. I was fortunate in that I didn’t have to prepare Thanksgiving dinner as we were invited to a friend’s home for the event.
Shortly thereafter, Christmas preparations began with decorating, baking, and shopping. It seems we always make such a fuss for such a short amount of time. But, Christmas was excellent this year. We were lucky to have all four of our collective children home for the holiday. Only one, my daughter, lives out-of-town and she was able to be here. She doesn’t live that far out-of-town; she’s only a two-hour drive away in Ft. Collins, Colorado. I was able to spend four entire days with her, as her boss allowed her to work from home one of the days, so she worked from my home. Unfortunately, she had to return to work early the Friday after Christmas, so she had to leave here by 2:00 p.m. on Christmas day in order to miss the snow storm that was due to arrive. As it was, she hit snow just 5 miles north of Denver and had to spend the last hour of her trip driving in it.
Something else was thrown into the mix to make life a little extra hectic around the holiday. I started a new part-time job as a bagger at one of the local military commissaries the Saturday after Thanksgiving. For those of you that don’t know, a commissary is a grocery store on a military installation. Only active duty or retired military personnel and their dependents are allowed to shop in it. Government employees work in them as cashiers, butchers, etc. Only active duty or retired military and their dependents can be baggers. Baggers work for tips only. My husband put his name on the waiting list to be a bagger about a year ago. He thought it would be a good thing to do to keep himself busy since he retired from his civilian job. It has been 10 years since he retired from the Air Force. He started bagging in September. After his first day of work, he came home with $60.00. I said, “Hey, how hard can it be? It isn’t rocket science. Put my name on the list. I want $60.00 a day for bagging groceries too!” So¸ he put my name on the list. I didn’t expect to be called for about a year. But, the phone call came the week before we went to Cancun.
It is low stress, and those bags and buggies don’t talk back like kids (or parents and principals) do. LOL! How hard is it to bag groceries?
You would think it is simply putting groceries into a bag, but did you know there are thirteen rules on the How to Bag Groceries hand out presented to me at New Bagger Orientation! In addition, there are 34 items on the Line Procedures and Bagging Rules to Promote Equality for all Baggers handout. (Recently revised on September 19, 2014, so I know it is current). Moreover, I had to sign a Commissary Bagger Independent Contractor Agreement and the Defense Commissary Agency’s Bagger Standard Operating Procedures before I could start working. So is it NOT rocket science?
Some of the baggers I am working with have spent years perfecting their craft. Some have bagged for 10…No…20 years! I am not exaggerating. It is out of the bag now! Commissary bagging has been the life work of many. Imagine…20 years bagging groceries!
That is all I am going to write about this for now. Some of my experiences as a Commissary Bagger would, according to my children, make an excellent Will Ferrell movie. You will just have to wait until next time before you learn any more about my bagging adventures. I am sure you are waiting with bated breath.
I got the inspiration for my card from December’s My Paper Pumpkin. It’s a Valentine Card that uses a few new things that you will be able to order when the new Occasions Catalog goes live next month. It is a pop up shaker card. I think that’s what you would call it. The stamp set I used is in the Annual Catalog and it is called Groovy Love. I used the new Confetti Heart Border Punch and new Stacked with Love Designer Series Paper Stack that will be available in the Occasions Catalog on January 6th. It looks as if I punched some confetti hearts out of white paper, but I didn’t. You are just seeing the backs of some of the ones I cut using the Red Glimmer Paper. Hope you like my creation and you enjoyed your visit today.
As my husband and I were finishing dinner the other evening, he asked me to read the bill for him. The restaurant, dimly lit, made it difficult for him to see it. I sighed, pulled my glasses out of my purse, and looked at it.
“It’s $45.00,” I said. This wasn’t bad as far as I was concerned since we each had had two beverages and shared an appetizer along with an entre apiece.
My husband opened his wallet, removed his credit card and handed both the bill and the card to the server as she walked by.
When the server returned with his credit card and the check, my husband again asked me if I would write in the tip amount and total. I complied and in the process asked rather sarcastically,
“Would you like me to sign it for you too? I could, you know. I know how to sign your name exactly as you do. Nobody would ever know. I just have to make the ‘G’ look like an ‘L’ and write Lary …. I know your ATM pin number too, you know. If I wanted, I could clean you out.”
I like to tease my husband about this kind of stuff, because he once was married to a woman who did just that while he was on active duty and deployed overseas. When we married 14 years ago, we were sure to keep a few financial things separate. However, as time has gone on, we have mixed more and more of our assets together. I know it is mean to tease him, but sometimes he is so “tease-able” about this issue that I have to admit I get a little passive aggressive pleasure out of watching him squirm. Not a great quality of mine, I know.
“No, that’s okay,” was his response. “Besides, you can’t make the ‘C’ for our last name like I do.”
“Do you really think that?” I asked him. “I’ll just write your signature onto this piece of scrap paper and we will compare the two.”
Upon comparison, the two were similar, but my duplication of his signature in no way looked just like his. You could definitely tell which was counterfeit.
“I have told you the story about my dad being a forger, haven’t I?” I asked him.
I had, but I will retell it for you.
Both of my parents were born in the late 1920’s to early 1930’s. They both came of age and married each other in the early 1950’s, so you could say they were the typical 1950’s and 1960’s couple. My dad went to work every day, came home, and in the summer time worked in the garden. My mother stayed home with us kids most of the time. There was a brief period when my sister and I were very young that Mom worked at the soda counter in a local drug store. That didn’t last very long. It was just to help make ends meet while my father was laid off from his job at the steel mill in Youngstown, Ohio. He soon found a job again with the water company, and my mom quit hers. My mother especially, they both believed certain things were a “man or woman’s” role. Earning a living was a “man’s” job, and staying home and running the house was the “woman’s.” My mom eventually did go to work when both my sister and I were in high school, but she made sure her friends and family knew it was because she WANTED to go to work and not because she HAD to. She was always sure to let my father know that he was the MAN of the house. She strived to never do or say anything to make him feel otherwise.
My father did nothing other than going to work every day, and working in his garden when weather permitted. The routine, mundane household chores were up to my mother. Dad’s philosophy was, “Why should I have to do that stuff when I got three women living in this house?” The three women were first my mother, and then eventually my older sister and me. My sister and I were also his reasoning for never getting my mother a dishwasher until we were both grown and out of the house. He believe he and my mother had brought two perfectly good ones into the world.
That was my father and by the values of those times, he was a good one. He went to work every day, handed his paycheck over to his wife, and let her manage everything relating to home and children and finances the way she thought best. He could do that because my mother could be trusted, and she was good with money. My father loved us. He would do anything for us. We knew that then; we know that now. He proved it daily.
My mother was of the opinion that a woman should make her man feel like a man as much as possible. Mother did everything for Dad. From ironing his boxer shorts to pressing his hankies, she did it all. To prove even further that my father was the MAN of the house, the KING of his castle, the HEAD of his household, everything was always in my father’s name even though everything was in joint ownership with my mother. The car title was in dad’s name only, but it was their car. The telephone and utility bills were in my dad’s name only, but Mom always made sure she paid them on time. Their personal checking account…that was different…it was in both their names.
I mentioned earlier that my father went to work, and on paydays, he handed his check over to my mother. But, he didn’t sign it. He didn’t need to. I told you Mother did EVERYTHING for Dad. Whenever she deposited his paycheck to their personal checking, she always signed it for him… with his name, not hers. Whenever she wrote a personal check against their jointly owned checking account, she always signed his name, not hers. You know, you gotta make a man feel like a man! (I say with a bit of sarcasm.)
Mom always kept some cash stashed away in a drawer for day-to-day expenses. My father knew this, so when he needed or wanted money, he went to the stash and took what he wanted. After all, he had earned it. There were no questions from my mother, no arguments. As long as there was money to pay the bills, take care of the family, and save a little, Mom never said much.
One time my mother wrote a check for me to pay my college tuition, and she signed my father’s name.
“Mom, you can’t do that! Why don’t you sign your own name? Aren’t you on the account?”
“Of course, I’m on the account. But I sign your dad’s name,” she admitted.
“Mom, that’s illegal!” I exclaimed.
“Tell your father to have me arrested,” she chuckled. “Let me tell you something,” she schooled me. “If I wanted to, I could have cleaned your father out financially years ago, and he knows it. If your father ever went to the bank and signed his own name, they would arrest HIM for forging his signature.”
God bless my mother and father! My father was the KING of his castle. My mother? She was NOT his minion! They were married for over 50 years. Maybe the rest of us could learn something from all of this.
Today I am sharing a card that I made using some of my favorite Christmas colors; blue and silver.
I love the way this turned out! Some things you need to know about when making this card. I used silver embossing powder on the doily. I had to versa mark quite a bit of the doily in order to get all of the lacy edge covered. You might even have to versa mark and add embossing powder several times to get it completely covered. I’ve seen this done before, but never tried it myself. Another thing you need to know is I embossed the stamped image of the ornament in silver powder as well. I did the center and the holly leaves and berries twice, cut and punched each out, and attached them using dimensionals to add depth.
Hope you enjoyed your visit today. Until next time…
On Wednesday (my last blog post), I began writing of the second most difficult experience I have ever had. This is Part II of that experience.
That Christmas there was a lot to celebrate. Chris made the 6 hour drive from Roswell to Colorado Springs with another classmate to spend the holidays at home. My mom and uncle from Ohio also visited that Christmas. Chris and I drove to Denver International Airport one evening to pick them up. Since I have poor night vision without my glasses, Chris agreed to drive us home.
As we were barreling down I-25 at 75 miles per hour and conversing with my mother and uncle, I glanced over at Chris. I noticed his eyes were wide as his head turned from me to the road in front of him. He looked like he had just seen a ghost. His lips smacked, and his fingers on each hand extended with the palms of his hands in contact with the steering wheel.
“Chris? What’s wrong?” I asked. My heart was in my throat.
All he could manage was to look from me to the road in front of him.
Again, I asked, “Chris? Are you okay?”
No response, but again his head turned as if looking at the road and then me.
After a few seconds the event subsided. “What in the hell was that?” I asked. “Are you all right? Do you need me to drive? You looked like you saw something scary!”
“I’m fine,” was all he said.
It happened a few times again after that. Before he went back to school after the holidays, we had him checked out at the Air Force Academy hospital.
What we described to the doctors resembled Absence Seizures. Absence Seizures usually occur in young children. Chris was about to turn 21. According to epilepsy.com website, absence seizures are “lapses in awareness, sometimes with staring. They begin and end abruptly, and usually are so unnoticeable they can go undetected for months.”
The website also says there are two types of absence seizures. Directly from the website, these two types are:
“Simple absence seizures: During a simple absence seizure, a person usually just stares into space for less than 10 seconds. Because they happen so quickly, it’s very easy not to notice simple absence seizures — or to confuse them with daydreaming or not paying attention.
Complex absence seizures: During a complex absence seizure, a person will make some kind of movement in addition to staring into space. Movements may include blinking, chewing, or hand gestures. A complex absence seizure can last up to 20 seconds.”
I had never noticed anything like this in my son ever before.
His father and I stayed in denial for quite a while. However, I will say, I think I began to accept reality sooner than his father did.
Concerned for his safety, his father followed him back to school when he had to return to Roswell after the holidays. In retrospect, we were not concerned enough. We should have NEVER let him drive back to Roswell!
Try as we might, we could not convince him that he should not report to the Merchant Marine Academy the following June. We kept telling him they would send him home as soon as they discovered his condition. However, like all young people, he had to learn the lesson for himself.
That summer, my husband and I along with Chris and his dad flew to Long Island, New York. After a few days, we left Chris to begin his first year at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy.
Two days after we returned home, that fateful phone call came. Chris experienced two episodes and was hospitalized. The academy was beginning paperwork to send him home. They were however, putting his appointment on hold for a year. If he got his medical condition stabilized within a year, he would be allowed to return to the academy.
He never did get to return.
Being away from my child at a time when he was experiencing such mental anguish over the end of his lifelong dream was heart wrenching. I cannot say first-hand how he was feeling, but I can say that I had an ach in my chest so strong that it felt like a burning dagger had pierced my heart. I would have given my life at that moment to stop any pain he might have been experiencing.
To say he was angry (and rightly so) when he returned home was an understatement. Never one to talk about his feelings, Chris took the opportunity to take out his anger on those that love him the most. Isn’t that usually what we do?
As soon as Chris returned home, a long-time friend hired him to work part-time in his archery shop. The friend’s concern was that Chris might become depressed, so he wanted to keep him busy.
Another thing we did right away was have him enroll in classes full-time at the University of Colorado here in town. “Just because the Army won’t take you, doesn’t mean you can’t get a Bachelor’s degree in something and go to work full time,” we told him.
Meanwhile, Christopher tried one anti-seizure medication after another, sometimes a cocktail of three or 4 combined, to no avail. He’d go for a few weeks without an event, and then he’d have one.
One Friday evening around 7:00 p.m., I received a phone call from his father. Chris had been in a car accident. He had totaled his truck. He had a seizure after stopping at a red light on the way to his father’s house. For some reason we were still thinking we could keep him safe while following him while he drove. DENIAL DENIAL DENIAL!
Fortunately, no one, including our son, was hurt. There happened to be no one on the road. THANK GOD FOR SMALL MIRACLES! We were very lucky!
Every state regulates its driver’s license eligibility for people with different medical conditions. Colorado does not require physicians to report when they have a patient that has seizures and does not have a set amount of time it requires a person to be seizure free. It is up to the individual with the disability to self-report to the state.
After the accident, Chris stopped driving. If he needed to go somewhere, his father or I drove him. Sometimes his friends would give him rides to and from wherever he needed to be. He rode the city bus whenever he could, until the city cut back on some of its bus services. Chris began walking the three miles to and from campus whenever he could. I bought him a bicycle, and when the weather was nice, he would ride his bike. I would drop him off at his university at 6:00 a.m. some mornings on my way to work where he made friends with a building custodian who would let him into the building early to wait for his 8:00 a.m. class. Sometimes I would pick him up on my way home.
I agonized over Chris. I wondered if his situation would ever be resolved. Would he ever be able to be independent and self-sufficient? Would he always have to have another person around to help him? What woman would want to marry him knowing he had epilepsy? What would he do when his father and I were too old to help him anymore? What about when we were gone? Would he have to live with his sister? Would it be fair to ask that of her? Would he ever be able to find a job that would provide him with a decent living? I literally lost sleep over this situation. Isn’t that what parents do?
Finally, his neurologist referred him to another neurologist at the Anschutz Medical Campus—University of Colorado Denver. This new neurologist ran a battery of tests on Chris and felt he might possibly be a candidate for surgery. The goal was to find the exact point of origin for his seizures and remove that portion of his brain. I had known about this type of surgery years earlier and attempted to have him seen at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio shortly after he returned from Long Island, but Chris wasn’t ready to hear about it at the time. In addition, his doctors were not ready to consider it yet either. They had to try all of the medications available first.
I took a week off work to be with Chris while he was in the hospital. I told him I was going to stay with him and he yelled at me, “You are not camping out in my room the entire time I am in the hospital!”
“I will if I want to! You might be 25 years old, but I am still your mother and I will be there at least the first 24 hours after you come out of surgery. You can argue with me as much as you want, but you aren’t going to get your way on this one!”
If he realized the seriousness of the thought of brain surgery, he sure was hiding it well. He didn’t seem scared at all. That’s probably because I was anxious enough for all of us.
Two years ago, Chris had a left temporal lobectomy and with the assistance of his medications, he has been seizure free! He began driving again after one year of being seizure free. Except for the time he went away for a weekend with some friends and didn’t take his medications, he has been doing well. That weekend of fun cost him three months behind the wheel. As long as he takes his meds, he is good to go.
Chris does not believe the surgery helped, but I will argue the opposite every time. Before the surgery, the medication alone did not work. Now, it works! It helped.
Chris is finally finishing college. He had to take a year off after the surgery. In a few weeks, he will be finished with his student teaching. He will be a high school physics and chemistry teacher when he is done. He is proud of the scar he has on his head. I think it might remind him of the long road to success it has been. That is okay. Usually the long road makes us ever more grateful and appreciative of the good things we have in our lives. When I asked him why he chose teaching after he lost the military, his response was, “Well teaching is a leadership position, isn’t it?”
“It sure is, Chris. One of the most notable ones there is!”
You make me proud, son.
Here is today’s card.
I really like the way this card turned out. I love the colors! They are Pistachio Pudding and Wild Wasabi. Would have never thought to put those two together. I was inspired by one of the cards in the current issue of Stampin Success.
Hope you enjoyed your visit today. Thanks for stopping by. Until next time…