Saturday, June 30, 2012

Witnessing History

I love my job.  I love it so much that I could write a whole separate blog, just about that.
Well, at least I could think about writing another blog. In reality, there's no way I could keep up with another blog.

Some of you have written me and asked for more work stuff.  So, here you go.  I have had some GREAT adventures lately!

My number one favorite thing about my job is that it gives me the opportunity to witness history with my own eyes.  It is a privilege and a joy to be one of the people in between the viewers and the actual history happening.

It's amazing.  I will have lots of great stories to tell my grandchildren one day, if I remember them.  If not, maybe they can read this blog!

Thursday was one of theses historical days.
You may have heard there was a little decision coming out of the Supreme Court.

I got there pretty early.  Around 7:30am.  Not a lot going on at that point, just a bunch of media setting up (including us).  Major media events in DC like this are fun, because I see a lot of my media friends who are usually spread out - covering Capitol Hill, the White House, or the campaign trail - all in one place.  It's like an NCC all church gathering - all campuses are represented.

So, things were pretty quiet until the belly dancers showed up.  Because I want you to experience this yourself, and because you probably didn't see this on the news, here you go:

I love the scene of people with signs from different positions, side by side.  I even love people arguing with each other about who is right.  I love this country.  I love that we are generally civilized enough to debate each other without shooting guns into the air in a crowd.

As we got closer to 10:00am, when the decision was supposed to come down, the crowd got significantly larger.
There were so many people outside the Court that I wasn't able to use my phone (for calls, texts, emails or searching the internet) for like four hours.  No one had service.  When the decision came down, there was mass confusion. What was decided? It was struck down? It was 5-4? No, it was upheld? It was 6-3.  So much confusion, and few copies of the actual ruling were handed out, so I started asking sources who were there what they knew, and tried to piece together exactly what happened.  I needed to get some interviews, but I needed to know what happened so I didn't look like an idiot asking questions!

I couldn't watch TV, obviously.  So, I just walked over to where they were making it, and listened.

Thank God for ears.
Armed with the information I needed (and I did eventually get a hold of a copy of the ruling that oh, by the way, I had to read like 4 times before I really understood it.  My one Jurisprudence class from college was used to the max.

We gathered some interviews. Then my correspondent, David Brody, met us out there, did a few more interviews, an epic standup in the middle of the crowd, and we stuffed into a cab and headed back to the bureau to put our story together.

And when I got home I took a really long shower and crashed.
On days like this, I don't have time to process my own feelings on the actual history that has happened, because I'm super busy in "work" mode, just trying to get the facts about the story, and make sure our viewers understand what happened.

When I got home, and watched this story on the network evening newscasts, I thought to myself, "I can't believe I was there."  It never gets old.

And no, I will not be sharing my personal feelings/thoughts/analysis on this. I like my job and value my reputation as a fair journalist. When I retire, I will vent. 

Saturday Morning Post: After the Storm

Good Saturday morning, everyone.
I am so thankful that we have power this morning.
Some crazy thunderstorms rolled through the area overnight.

We have a big window in our bedroom.  When I noticed the lightning flashing, I opened the blinds, pulled them all the way up, and snuggled up next to my Michael. We watched the lightning flash, and the trees sway, and the rain pound the window.  Probably not the safest thing in the world, but it was romantic. I love a good storm.

Our power flashed a few times overnight but it is on this morning and the A/C is blasting. Thank God.  I went outside to check on our SUV and our plants, and everything is fine.  There was a tree branch right BESIDE our car, but thankfully not on it.  And the only casualty from our porch was the American flag I got yesterday at the Dollar Tree for July 4th.  It was on the ground, still in one piece.  I picked it back up.

I'm sure our plants loved the storm.  It has been very hot lately, and they can't seem to get enough to drink.  I feel bad for them.  Oh, check this out:

I found this wrought iron hanging plant thing near a dumpster.  I have always wanted one of these! Score!  So, yesterday, I bought a hanging basket from my favorite local produce stand which also happens to sell plants and flowers. 

Rorer's Produce is a quaint, locally owned business on Route 1.  It's been family owned for like 30 years.  I love places like this. Buy local, shop small businesses and do your part to bring our economy back!!

When I first started writing this, Brokaw was begging me for a rawhide chew.  Now he is snoring.  I love it when I win. 

I need to get going. I have to get Michael up and ready, and take the dogs to the groomer (Princess is getting a total doggie makeover and B is getting his nails did).  We are planning to go to a concert at Kings Fest at King's Dominion tonight, but I'm kind of concerned about the storms.  

Have a great day, everyone!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Don't Know Where to Start

I am so overwhelmed by how blessed I am, I don't even know what to write.  I have such a long list of things I want to write about on this blog - about our life, and ways that we do things that may be helpful to other couples who also juggle a disability in their relationship.  And other stuff - like behind the scenes shots of my job, which is in so many ways more than ever could have dreamed of.  Even more - the stories of how God led me to where I am today, and how He has been faithful even when I thought He had abandoned me.  It goes on and on - I want you to know the ways that Michael has been there for me that no one ever sees. And share with you dreams I have of the future.

But I have insecurities as well.  Will you be bored or feel like I'm making this blog a scrapbook of our life and not be interesting to you?  Will it seem overly self-centered to keep talking about myself all of the time? I mean, this if our blog, but sometimes I do feel that way sometimes.

So, maybe I'll just go to the gym.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

How to Get Your Man on the Couch

Isn't it great when you have one of those light bulb moments?
Where a common sense solution pops in your head for no reason.  You've had the problem for years, maybe.  And the solution was sitting right beside you (or under you) that whole time.  But you just couldn't see it.

Then you do.
And life gets a little easier.

I had one of these moments in our living room, recently.

Problem: Watching TV together doesn't feel all that together, because I'm on the couch and Michael is in his wheelchair.  We want to snuggle, but it's a big production of transferring and lifting and pushing and pulling and nudging and a hurting lower back when it's time to get him back into his chair because it's like lifting 150 lbs of dead weight from a low angle (ouchers) and tossing it up and to the side.

Solution: Take the cushion from the arm chair and put it on his side of the couch.  Makes a higher seat for him on the couch.  Higher = easier to transfer him into AND more importantly, easier to transfer him OUT of.

Pure genius.  

And we enjoyed our snuggle time.
We did this one other time since taking these pictures, and that time, we had the wheelchair facing the other direction and I learned that it is very important to go with your strong side on this transfer.  My strong side is the right.  No two transfers are the same, remember that.  But, I have found that if I move him TOWARD my strong side for the more awkward transfer (in this case, the more awkward transfer is TO the couch) then there will be a lot fewer "pull my pocket here"/having him bend over and pull his jeans at the back to scoot him in, etc. And it's all of that stuff that is hard on your body, because those motions are so not natural.  

So, try it.
Double stack your couch cushions.
Transfer TO your strong side.
And enjoy some love seat snuggles together.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

This Little Community of OURS

I am home.

Home.  Where my husband lives, and my bed is, and my spot on the edge of the couch is warm again, and covered in Puggle hair.

I love it here.

I have been traveling a lot for work lately.  In the last 2 weeks I have been to Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Virginia Beach and New York.  Next week I will be going to Dallas for a couple of days.

It has been GREAT. We are getting a lot of good stories done and I am having the time of my life.  I miss my husband like nobody's business, but you knew that already, right?

What I am so thankful for is all of Y'ALL. Do you guys get that?  When I started pouring my heart out on this blog, it was to vent. Free therapy, I like to say.  Writing makes me feel better. People's encouraging comments and prayers propel us to keep going, and to stay positive.

But over the last year, something amazing has happened.

We have become a community of our own.  One of the best things about traveling for my job (and even on our recent vacation) is I can almost always find one of you to connect with.

In Nashville, Michael and I met Katie and Bryce - we stayed with them.  We had only read about each other online, and exchanged e-mails, and we stayed in their guest room, and enjoyed dinner and live music out in Nashville with them and Katie was the best hostess ever, sending us off with a homemade biscuit breakfast, and chocolate to go!

Katie and I could not possibly have more in common, I don't think. We even have the same dishes, I mean, come on!  Her husband, Bryce, is also a quadriplegic - similar to Michael - and they are alike in many ways, too.  We had a blast with them.

Last week, when I was in Salt Lake City for work, Jason and Kolette came and picked me up at my hotel and treated me to dinner!  I think we were there for like four hours talking! It felt like we had already known each other for years. Jason is a quad too, and they have been married for almost 20 years!
We talked about all of the stuff you're technically never supposed to talk about over dinner - religion, politics, going to the bathroom, and making babies.  And in the end, we were even closer than ever! Hahaha.  That's usually how these meetings go.  Jason and Kolette were some of the first people I met online when I was searching around for information about Spinal Cord Injuries and marriage.  They both have blogs, and I soaked both of theirs in, and they have both been a great resource for me.  So thankful for them!

And last night, in New York City, I had dinner at Applebees with Lina.  Lina is another friend I have made over the last year because of the blog, and our connection on Facebook. Her fiance', Leon, is a paraplegic as of about three years ago.  It was so nice to sit and talk about all of this stuff together, that so many other people may try to understand - but bless their hearts, just don't really get.

I can't even begin to express to you guys what this community means to me!  There have been numerous other people and couples I have connected with, either visiting here in DC, or throughout my travels covering politics, this is just in the last month or so! And Saturday Michael and I are looking forward to meeting up with Jim and Karen, who live not too far away, in Maryland.

These get togethers, our Facebook connections and the emails that we share with each other are just priceless to me.

I went from feeling SO alone, to having a national network of friends who are there for me, and who I/we can be there for - it is a blessing I didn't see coming, and the number one thing about this blog that I LOVE.

Please, if you follow us and you have a spinal cord injury or other disability, and you want to share this heavy load with us - email us or find us on Facebook. We want to be here for you.  We want to stay in touch.

The icing on the cake is when I see you guys interacting with EACH OTHER.  That's what's really fun!  To know that through each other, we are forming this little network - it makes me almost giddy.  It makes my heart happy.  And I don't think I would mind one bit if this just grows and grows and grows and I end up devoting the second half of my life to it.

I love you guys.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Live from Panera

This post is brought to you by the Dark Roast and free internet at Panera Bread.
I did NOT get a bagel, even though I really wanted to, because my legs are made of bagels and I don't need anymore, no matter what my taste buds think.  This post is going to be random. Don't blame Panera.

My back hurts.  Ouch.  I'll take your prayers if you can squeeze one more thing on your list.  I have two standing prayer requests if you ever think of me: Pray for a strong back and good audio.  Both are keys to success in my life.  Thanks.

My heart is heavy today as I pray for my friends Nate and Tricia.  Many of you follow them online on Nate's blog, so you know the story.  Tricia has Cystic Fibrosis. Four years ago, she gave birth to a tiny miracle baby, and then received a double lung transplant on Nate's birthday.  Well now, her lungs are struggling, and today she starts a very long and difficult treatment.  Please pray for them.  They are such a sweet, sweet family and rely so much on their faith.  Share on Twitter: #prayersforpattysue

I realized yesterday that I graduated from Indian River High School 15 years ago.  For a second, I thought - dang, I am getting old! I remember when my mom had her 20th reunion.  When I finally have a kid, they will remember my 50th high school reunion!  Sometimes I feel so far behind in life.  We don't have a house or kids, and looking at Facebook - it's like a never ending feed of new house pictures and ultrasounds.  Sometimes I have to step away or my jealous heart really acts up.  But, I think about how much love there is in my life, and my good health and prosperity when it comes to work - I mean I have had DREAMS come true over the last couple of years like nobody's business! and then I am truly thankful for the blessings in my life over the last 15 years.

Speaking of anniversaries - tomorrow will mark 18 years since my husband broke his neck.  18 years paralyzed.  That's insane, isn't it?  That's a long time.  His spinal cord injury could vote! I don't know how he does it.  I think being paralyzed would get old in like oh, .5 seconds, but he rocks it out - day in and day out. He is my hero, in so many ways.  I will never understand it, but I have finally given up trying to. I know everything happens according to God's will, so we will journey on, together.  It's amazing how when you get married, the Lord takes your two stories and weaves them together as one, as he weaves the two people together as one.  It's not easy - being woven like that - but oh, is it worth it!

I am home for just a couple of days in between work trips.  My brain is overloaded.  I have so much to digest mentally.  And with my back hurting - I guess I will have the chance to sit down and do that.  If your news feed is clogged up with "Love Like This Life" updates over the next 24 hours - that's why.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Best Web Project of My Career!!!

Mike and Amy at Baptist Medical Center
I'm gonna share with you guys the best web project of my career.

Last winter we saw a post that my cousin Amy was badly injured in a wreck outside Hot Springs, Arkansas. We were devastated. It was the closest I've come to realizing the shock my friends and family must have felt when I broke my neck in '94.

I felt so far away from everyone. I wanted so badly to reach out and do SOMETHING. Because I knew what they were going through, I wanted Amy's family to know they weren't alone. People were going to her Facebook profile and her family's for updates. It was all disjointed and anyone who wasn't their friend wouldn't know. Then it hit me --a Facebook page.

It was like God was whispering in my ear.

So, I did it. I put together a Facebook page and called it, "Hope for Amy K".

Overnight it went from a dozen to over a hundred subscribers. The numbers continued to climb into the hundreds. I reposted updates from Amy's family and close friends. People left comments, prayers, and memories. Strangers picked up on the story. Friends of friends of friends joined in. It was amazing!

As Amy recovered we all rejoiced. As she had setbacks we hunkered down and prayed.

In time, Amy's family took over administering the page with updates. They posted events and milestones.

Now, Amy is the main admin. We follow Amy's personal updates to her page. She has almost three thousand likes on her page. Her greatest tragedy is touching people she will never meet.

Nobody ever paid me for this project. There was no mass marketing plan; no researching demographics; no business model. It was simply a desire to do something for somebody else. This project has reached more people than I imagined and lasted longer than I dreamed. It has been a place of hope for so many. That's something I'll never forget.

You can see the page and share the story here.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Sweet Baby Dog

Hello, friends.
I have SO much to tell you about, but I'm on the road for work.
There is no time to blog right now, but I will catch you up soon

For now, I give you this. In fact, I'll go ahead and make it extra large for you.

This is Brokaw puppy, the Summer of 2006. What a great Summer.  In this trip, we were driving from Pittsburgh down to Nags Head for July 4th.  He was the cutest puppy I have ever seen, and I wish almost on a daily basis, that I could shrink him back down.

I'll write some real stuff soon. I promise. Thanks for hanging with us.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Getting Through Trials And Coming Out Stronger

Good morning.
I had a very decent night’s sleep and I’m not dragging, which I consider a “win” going into a Monday.

My friend Katie introduced me to a devotional book called “Jesus Calling,” and I just love it.

This morning’s entry read: 

“Welcome challenging times as opportunities to trust Me. You have Me beside you and My Spirit within you, so no set of circumstances is too much for you to handle. When the path before you is dotted with difficulties, beware of measuring your strength against those challenges. That calculation is certain to riddle you with anxiety.”
Isn’t that the TRUTH!?!?

This takes me back to that first year we were married, when things were so tough. When I literally couldn’t make it through a day without crying just a little bit. I would cry when I could cry – in the shower, in my car alone, or in the bathroom. Life was SO HARD, it felt eternal and it felt impossible.

God was there. Like He promises, He never left me. But, I was mad at him. How could he let this happen to someone who loved Him and served Him? And, I wasn’t just talking about myself. I was talking about Michael. Then, my discontent grew from looking at Michael struggling to see myself struggling, and I questioned what God was doing. I tried to tell Him I couldn’t handle anymore, so he could go ahead and stop anytime.

And, it happened.
I don’t know if managing my life as a wife, a caregiver, and a journalist got easier, or if I just got used to being stretched, but the fear, doubt and anxiety eventually faded.  We prayed and prayed, I know we had people praying for us.  We got help in the way of counseling.  We started this blog, and met other young couples in situations similar to ours.

We started working as a team. And now, when things go wrong – like a catheter coming off, or a really long bad day, or a challenge comes up – like a road trip or a tight month budget wise, we get through it.  Together.

And my prayers have more faith and thankfulness.  I believe God can work all things for good, because He has done it in my own life. Perhaps that isn’t real faith, because it relies on something seen rather than unseen, but the point I’m making here is – if it’s tough for you right now – if you’re mad at God because of your difficult circumstance – and you can’t get through a day without salty tears, keep on keeping on.

Because one day, you will look back, and realize that no, maybe you aren’t stronger for it (or maybe you are), but somehow, you got through it. He carried you through it.

And you’ll be able to read a Bible verse like James 1:2 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds,” and not roll your eyes with disdain for the Lord.

Maybe it will get easier, maybe you’ll get used to it, maybe time is the best healer of all. 

But don’t cave. Because this challenge you’re in the middle of right now will shape you and give you great perspective and compassion for the people who will walk behind you into their difficult days.

And maybe you can help them. There is great joy in the helping. Trust me.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

2012 Ritter Family Vacation

A few weeks ago, we pretty much drove half way across the United States and back.  And I think now I am finally able to talk about it. 

It was a lot of driving.
But it was so great.

This vacation was the perfect mix of time together, time with family, time with extended family, and time with old friends and new friends.

I can say we both came back truly refreshed.  Recreated.  Which is the whole point of vacation, right.

I am one lucky girl, because I married into a great, big family that loves each other and loves the Lord, and accepted me into the family like I had been there since the beginning of time, and I really enjoy them.

Here are some photos from our trip.  It was amazing.  They are very much not in order, but I think they do an okay job of capturing our family vacation.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Radio Show About Caregiving

This morning, my SUV turned into a little radio studio.

Okay. That's a stretch.
But I did do a half hour radio interview with Denise Brown of, which is an amazing group of family caregivers.  I was Denise's guest on "Your Caregiving Journey," and it was a really fun experience and I came away from it with lots of encouragement from people who were listening.

You can listen to the interview here.
Thanks so much for all of your support.

I did the interview in my car so a certain Puggle wouldn't also make his internet radio debut, if you know what I mean.