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Monday, January 30, 2012

Husband Makes Dinner, House Still Standing

Baked pork chop, Zataran's jambalaya mix, and steamed stir fry veggies
Tonight I cooked dinner because Dana was a little overwhelmed. She said, "mmmm, it smells good in here," as she walked through the door. It feels good to save her that half hour or so and start the night off right.

Okay, to the  menu:

  • Two pork chops drizzled with Italian dressing and baked
  • Zataran's jambalaya mix (no meat added)
  • Stir fry veggie mix steamed in the microwave and seasoned with garlic salt and fake butter
  • Tortillas with apple butter baked (for  dessert)

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sign Up for E-Mail Updates

Dearest Blog Readers,
We hope you know how much you mean to us!  There are some exciting things going on in our lives right now, specifically related to this little blog.  We are working on building an e-mail address so we can send out monthly newsletters, and big announcements - like when our eBook is finished! And, we hope to do some pretty cool give-aways soon.  So, please share your e-mail address with us.
A couple of promises:
-We PROMISE to not give your e-mail address to anyone else
-We PROMISE to not e-mail you more than once a month
-We PROMISE not to send you any spam.  Ever.

Just to be clear - this is not where you sign up to receive an e-mail to let you know when there is a new blog post. You can sign up for that if you want, over on the right hand side of the screen.




Sunday Afternoon Post

I missed my weekly Saturday Morning Post yesterday, because we were out of town on our church's annual Leadership Retreat. Michael is leading a small group this semester (Tuesday nights at 7pm, going through Pastor Mark's new book, "The Circle Maker," if you're interested), so even though I no longer lead the Prayer Ministry, we were still on for the retreat.

The retreat is at this old, outdated church campground in West Virginia, about an hour and a half (theoretically) from DC.  Our church has about 300 ministry team/small group leaders, so it's a lot of people.  They pay for everything, so all we have to do is show up.

The Praise and Worship music is AMAZING. The videos the church staff put together are HILARIOUS, and the vision casting and preaching is CHALLENGING.

Michael and I reflected over the time since last year's Leadership Retreat.  WOW. What a year.
Last year, one of our church staff came to us, and asked to pray over us.  He prayed for us, then told us, simply, that he thought we should tell our story.  He didn't make a big deal over it, like it was all prophetic, or something, but take it for what it's worth.

A couple of months later, I got a message from my friend Michelle, who wanted to write an article for Gladys Magazine about us. I immediately thought about that prayer.  We shared our story.

Now, looking back on all that sharing our story has brought us over the last year, I am humbled, and excited about what God is doing in our lives, and through this little blog.  And, I'm reminded that even when we take what in the grand scheme of things, are little baby steps of obedience, God sees that, He honors that, and multiplies it.

Pastor Heather said Friday night, "Jesus can't avoid people who are desperately determined to get to Him."

That struck me.
I realized that about a year ago, I was desperate.
But, it took some time for my desperation caused me to be determined to get to Him.  I was mad at God for a while.
So glad Jesus could see straight through my anger and know that even in that season, I was desperate for Him.

I am so thankful for a church that pours into its leaders. I am so thankful for a husband who loves the Lord, and I *can't wait* to see him live up to his potential in this new ministry role.  And I'm so ready to pray through where God wants to take us over this next year.

So, there.
That's my contemplative Sunday afternoon post.
Brought to you by a very relaxed me, as I sit on my heating pad, sip Pumpkin Spice Tea, and I watch Michael fold laundry.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Facing Disability Post: Spinal Cord Injury: A Wife's Perspective

Earlier this week, I had the honor of guest posting on Facing Disability's blog.  I linked to it on Facebook, but just in case you missed it and are interested, here's what I wrote:
Two years ago, I married the man with the prettiest blue eyes I could find. He’s smart. He’s funny. He’s sweet. He’s handsome. And he gets me.

He does all of this, from a wheelchair. When Michael was 17 years old he broke his neck in a gymnastics accident. He’s a C5/6 quadriplegic, paralyzed from the chest down, with limited use of his arms and hands.
I am not sure just how much my perspective as a wife of a man with a spinal cord injury varies from the wife of any other man, because this is all I have ever known, but here goes.
There is certainly a lot to get used to. Not everyone will agree with this assessment, but to me, as we were settling into that first year of marriage, it sort of felt like we had a third person along for the ride.
That third person being my husband’s disability: the special needs it has, the equipment it requires, and the patience and effort required on my part to accommodate it. The catch was, unlike an actual person, the disability doesn’t communicate. You can’t reason with it. You can’t compromise. You can’t take turns. You just have to move out of the way when it is going a certain way. When it slows you down, you just have to slow down. When it goes haywire and changes your plans because of a bodily or equipment malfunction, you have to go with its flow. It doesn’t care if you are sick, or tired, or need a break. It must be handled first thing in the morning, last thing at night, and whenever it wants. It often cannot be “prioritized” or manipulated.
This was a major adjustment, especially for a control freak like myself. Because with other situations in life, you can plan ahead, you can work harder, think faster, be smarter, and get your way.
Being the wife of someone with a spinal cord injury can provide you with great perspective. Nothing like waking up every day next to someone who can’t move to make you realize whatever you are dreading or are afraid of that particular day, doesn’t really matter. But, if you’re not careful, that “perspective” can make you feel like you don’t matter.
I learned, not so quickly, but eventually, to not take the third person “personally.” It took time. And lots of love from a husband who was not willing to let his disability swallow his wife.
It is so cliché’, but communication really is key. Communication is key in any marriage, but in a marriage where a lot of the physical activity falls on one partner, because of a disability, communication is the glue that holds you together.
Just as it is important for the able bodied, ”caregiving” spouse to make sure all of the needs of the disabled partner are met, it is important for the disabled spouse to make sure the caregiver is taken care of.
There is so much support you can give, even if you have a spinal cord injury. My husband has found dozens of creative solutions to contribute. His legs may not work, but his ears do. He is an excellent listener.
There have been times when I have felt third in line in this marriage, behind him and his disability. Because he was able to see me, and hear my perspective, he was able to change it. To make me realize that we are a TEAM. There’s nothing either of us did to deserve this. It’s not anyone’s fault. But neither one of us is in this alone. We are on the same team.
Being part of a team is empowering. When you are weak, the other is strong. Two heads are better than one. Another cliché, but all of that is true. And when you’re dealing with a hard-headed non-compromising wildcard of a third person, you need as much power on your team as you can get.
My husband and I write a candid blog about our life called “Love Like This Life.” We write about life, love, faith, work and disability. We put ourselves out there in the hope that we will connect with others and encourage them along the way. Come rock this out right along side us!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Peace: Wait for It

I just ate a Kit Kat in like .04 seconds.  Oops.  I should demand that all vending machines be removed from my workplace, because they will eventually be the death of me, I'm convinced.
My love for chocolate is actually tied with my love for coffee, which is ranked just slightly below my love for my husband.

Last week, I made a new friend.  Her name is Katie, and we have so much in common.  Katie recommended this book to me, "Jesus Calling." It has a little daily reading, and it's written from the perspective of Jesus, speaking to you.

Before I lose you, hang with me.  This is not crazy religious stuff, I promise. It's all based on Bible verses.  I have been reading them on the Metro on my way to work for the past week or so, and almost every day, they have been SO. ON. POINT.

For example today, it was about the Peace Jesus offers:

You receive this gift by trusting Me in the midst of life's storms.  If you have the world's peace -- everything going your way -- you don't seek My unfathomable Peace.  Thank Me when things do not go your way, because spiritual blessings come wrapped in trials.  Adverse circumstances are nomal in a fallen world.  Except them each day.  Rjoice in the face of hardship, for I have overcome the world.

So. Um. Yeah.  I hear that!
I am the QUEEN of getting my way.  Of course, I make this happen myself whenever possible.  And, like any spoiled brat, when I don't get my way, you better watch out!! 
Being a Type A personality can be a good quality.  I have been quite successful in many areas of my life.  But, I have to remember that all of my efforts are worthless without the blessing of God on my life!

I am also trying to learn to ACCEPT the Peace of Jesus rather than trying to control my own circumstances to the point that I have enough peace of my own, and I don't realize that I need HIS peace.

Does that make any sense?

Case in point: Our little adjustment period I told y'all about yesterday. Last week, I fought the peace.  I was frustrated, needy, demanding and unhappy.  I could have rested in the Peace offered to me, but instead I obsessed over when the home health aides were getting to our house, what they were doing when they were there and exactly how they were doing.  I was looking at my phone every 5 minutes wondering why Michael hadn't texted me that they were done.  It was not pretty.

My dear husband has taught me so much about this same thing.  He loves to do things to help me, to serve me and to bless me.  But I have to sit down long enough to let him do it.  That's not easy when I am such an impatient person that literally waiting 15 seconds for anything feels like it is going to kill me!

One day last week, Michael knew I was having a bad day.  So, he took the initiative to start on dinner while I was commuting home.  I have to admit, the thought of my quadriplegic husband rolling up crescent rolls and baking them in the toaster oven did give me a couple of heart palpatations. And I figured Brokaw would benefit quite a bit in the kitchen, as M dropped something.  But when I got home, there they were.  Baked, warm, ready to go.

And that's not all.  Michael also made me a "fire."  And had some soft, soothing music playing in the background.  We ate dinner, and chilled out.  
Then he busted out the Aromatherapy lotion and gave me a really good shoulder massage.  It's amazing what those skinny, pointy elbows can do!!  I relaxed some more, reading my Kindle, then we shared a new dessert we tried for the first time -- coffee ice cream, pistachios and chocolate syrup. Try it. It was delicious.
My whole point here is that sometimes, we just have to wait for the Peace of God, and stop trying to make our world peaceful, ourselves.  Because that night could have been different. I could have rushed home, made crescent rolls while picking up the house, served dinner myself, cleaned that up and served ice cream in a lot less time, and probably with less mess.

But this way, there was more Peace, in the end.
Marriage really can teach you SO MUCH about God.  It's cool like that.

Monday, January 23, 2012

We Are Going Through a Little Adjustment Period

I wrote the following entry LAST Tuesday night.  We have moved to having home health aides come help Michael a few mornings a week, with his personal care.  It's an adjustment for both of us. 

Update: Last Wednesday, I ended up at Starbucks instead of the gym.  Oops. Friday and today, I just came to work early.





We are going to have a home health aide come out tomorrow. I think I am ready to give this whole let someone else take care of my husband thing a shot. Translation: I am tired of doing it myself and I am drooling over the possibilities of things I could do with that time. I could work out. I could go to Starbucks and read and write. I could go to work and start my day early. I could organize coupons.

I have tried this before and the ritual left me in tears for a couple of different reasons. Mainly because leaving my husband in the bed made me feel like something was wrong with him. Like he was sick. Like he was a patient. I hated having to face that over and over.

Who knows, maybe something has changed? Maybe I have realized once and for all that there is something wrong. That my husband is paralyzed and can't get himself out of bed so someone else has to do it. Maybe I am ready to face that that is not normal. Maybe I am over "normal" and trying to kill myself trying to achieve it.

Or maybe I am just being selfish.
I don't know for sure but I feel ready. Ready to try.

I am going to try to not judge myself and I would appreciate it if you dont judge me either.

I think there is an insecure part of me that worries that if I don't get him up, showered, dressed, fed etc. myself that I am not this superwoman that people make me out to be.

My friend Abby hit that point on the head.

Maybe I am ready to not care about my superwoman status just enough to cut myself some slack and not care if anyone thinks I'm a fraud.

I guess we'll see.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Facing Disability: A New Way to Connect After a Spinal Cord Injury


This is a guest post written by Annie Hambleton of Facing Disability.  This is our first guest post, and we are so happy to partner with Facing Disability!  It's a great resource for SCI families, and anyone who just has questions about how a spinal cord injury affects a person, and how they and their families manage moving on.  

When a spinal cord injury occurs, it impacts the entire family. It seems like no understands their new situation in a way to help them deal with their lives ahead. That’s why the Hill Foundation of Chicago created the new website, FacingDisability.com, to connect families facing spinal cord injuries with others who have been there before them.

FacingDisability.com has more than 1,000 videos drawn from interviews of over 100 people with spinal cord injuries, and their mothers, fathers, siblings, children and caregivers. Every person was asked the same 48 questions, such as “What was your greatest fear at first?” and “What do you wish you had known at the beginning?” It is the only place on the Internet where you can see and hear the voices of experience.

Michelle, who became quadriplegic at 21 said, “I wish I would have automatically had known that I was always going to be myself. I don't know what I thought the wheels were dramatically going to do to me, but I wish that I would have known that the things I enjoyed before, and the way I was before, was all going to be the same. I would just have to go about things in a different way.”

Jennifer, who was a teenager when her mother became quadriplegic at 42, said, “I wish I had known that this was actually going to be a better thing for her, that this really was a window opening and not a door closing for her. Even though there are periods of time when it's really hard, her life is so much better, all of our lives are so much better. The time we spend together is more special now, and we make more of a point to do things together…she's so active in so many of the things that she does, and I wish that I had known that her life was going to be better as a result of all of it.”

If you’d like to hear from someone like you, FacingDisability videos are arranged by relation to injury as well as by question. You can watch individuals with SCI, parents, spouses, sibling and children, and refine your search by level of injury (paraplegic or quadriplegic), gender of person injured and age at injury. Follow this link to see all of the FacingDisability questions and answers on living with paralysis.
There is also an “Expert” video section made up of over 200 videos from interviews with top spinal cord injury experts. Here you can find professional answers on topics most people want to know about right away, such as “Spinal Cord Injury 101,” “Transition from Hospital to Home” and “Sex and Fertility after a SCI.”

Connecting with someone who has “been there” is one of the best ways to deal with a new injury. FacingDisability has a “Peer Counseling” service, made for people who want to connect one-to-one through an anonymous email system. There is also a “Forum” section where you can ask questions, or share answers.

Finally, FacingDisability.com has over 300 of the best resource on the Internet in the “Resources” section.

FacingDisability.com was established by the Hill Foundation of Chicago. Their mission is to provide Internet-based information and support for people with spinal cord injuries and the members of their families. Connecting with the life experiences of others who have been there before often helps people find the strength and support to face their new lives ahead. For more information, contact FacingDisability at info@FacingDisability.com.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Saturday Morning Post

Well, Good Morning, y'all.
What a week it has been.
It was hard.
It was great!
But, I am glad it's over.

There's a little bit of snow on the ground and the local news is squeezed back, and freaking out.  I love watching these people on TV but boy, am I glad I am not out in it, or in the control room, trying to decide which live shot with half an inch of snow to go to next.  Lol.

My best friend, Ann, made it home from Thailand and I got to talk to her on the phone!
We're still waiting on official word on when my brother, Chris, gets home from Afghanistan, but we're getting close, and that has everyone in my family on edge.
I was in DC this week, not in South Carolina - which led to some serious campaign withdrawals!
I was actually in the office for the first time in 5 weeks - and it was slightly stressful.

Wednesday and Friday, we had home health care providers come and take care of Michael in the morning. My plan to go to the gym was tweaked a little - Wednesday I went to Starbucks.  Friday I went to work early (which I later realized was a mistake, because I ended up staying late). I am still getting used to this.
I saw a friend this week and found out she is pregnant!
Paula Deen is diabetic.
I cancelled a double date last night with another friend I haven't seen in forever because Michael and I were having a little, ahem, marriage communication hiccup.
Two GOP presidential candidates dropped out.
I decided to get back on the couponing train in order to save enough money to buy myself and Michael both iPads.  I'm excited about this goal! I love goals, I ATTACK them.
Etta James died.
I realized, yet again, that I am a control freak and part of that is my nature, but quite frankly, part of that is sinful, and I had to repent and turn from that.  Sin = never fun!

I tried Starbucks' new lighter roast.
And realized, I like my coffee dark, and bold.
And my hair, blonde.
Three out of five of my morning commutes took more than an hour. Not cool.

I made FOUR new connections online with couples who are also juggling a disabilities in their lives, and over the next week, I am going to meet THREE of these people in person. I am beyond stoked about this.

I am so excited to see what this year will bring for us, our marriage, and our ministry!  Chances are, it will be much like this last week - dreams coming true, my sin ruining some things, some of "my" plans working out, and some fizzling out, and Michael and I growing closer to God, and each other in the end. Don't you wish you could pick out the parts of life that are fun, exciting, and good and what you want, and just have those and leave the other stuff behind?

Yeah, that would be nice.

Remember, if you do a musing Saturday Morning Post yourself, link it up, here!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Managing Care and Marriage

Whenever a couple gets married there are several things to work out. One of the things Dana and I are still working through is managing my care. It's really complicated because I'm not physically able to do it, so ultimately rely on Dana for so much. For her, as she has described, she feels it's a responsibility. When I do take the reins, it is a problem.

We both have best intentions. We both want to help each other. We both want to do what we should.

This isn't a deep or raw entry. Maybe our readers have some insight. Feedback is welcome.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

On the Other Side of the Media

Last week, I got a message from a friend who is in the journalism biz (for the company I used to work for) asking me if he could e-mail me some questions for an interview.  I was of course delighted, because I really want to grow this blog, and get our story out there to anyone who it can impact in a positive way.

He posted his story to WBALTV.com (that's a TV station in Baltimore, about an hour north of where we live) yesterday.  I linked to it on our Facebook page, but just in case you missed it, here it is.

I admit, it feels a little strange to read a 'news' story about myself, rather than being the one writing the news story.  But, I knew I was in good hands. :)

Caregiving.com Post: What Made Me Cry

As I mentioned, I'm going to re-post my blog posts for Caregiving.com here, so here's the one from this week:

After my introductory blog post, Denise asked “Would you mind telling us a little more about your tears? What was most overwhelming for you?”
I don’t mind sharing at all! After all, that’s what we’re all here for, right?
What made me cry? Hmm.
There was a lot of crying during our first year of marriage. Mostly on my part. A lot of it was normal we-didn’t-get-married-until-we-were-in-our-30s-and-set-in-our-ways/standard adjustment stuff. Like, what? I’m not the most important thing/person in the world and what I want doesn’t trump all other desires/feelings/plans?
And on top of all of that, was the disability stuff.
I will expand on this further in a future post, but having a disability in marriage is much like having a third person in your marriage. It took me many months to realize that this was how I felt. Crowded. Stifled. Overshadowed. Jealous. All of that. Once I figured that out, I was able to work with it, and start healing.
But up until I realized the “3rd person” thing, I kept getting hurt every time my husband’s disability would take center stage our plans, because I wanted to take center stage. I wanted to be in control of the plans.
I felt like I was being forced, over and over again, to realize that my husband was paralyzed. It kept slapping me in the face, out of nowhere, and it hit me like a Mack truck every time. Usually, it was the visuals that would bring me to tears. Like in the morning or evening, when I was draining and cleaning out his leg bag or bed bag (used to collect his urine).  I would see myself in the mirror, this young, healthy blonde newlywed standing there in the bathroom of her newly decorated apartment, draining a giant bag of stinky urine, and I would think…
Is this really happening? Is this really how it is going to be forever? Can I really do this? God, are you there? Do you see what’s going on here?
And  then, well-meaning people would come up to me or e-mail me and tell me how amazing of a person they thought I was for marrying a guy in a wheelchair. Like I was some sort of saint. It was nice of them to say that and all, but when I was staring at myself in the bathroom mirror, emptying bags of urine, and not liking it I felt like a horrible person.
I realized there was a lot of the caregiving stuff that I just didn’t like. Especially bathroom stuff. Let’s face it, bladder and bowel care is just not a lovely thing. Well, I was beating myself up. I was realizing that I didn’t like it, and I was worried that that meant I didn’t love my husband enough, that I wasn’t living up to these expectations of other people who thought I was an angel, and I felt like a fraud because I did know what I was getting into. I thought I could handle it, but here I was, falling apart.
I finally admitted to him that I didn’t like that stuff. Until I did that, I didn’t think he would understand. Because he’d been paralyzed for 15 years, he was really  used to all of this, he would literally hum while he was going to the bathroom, and I’d be just on the other side of the door, feeling so guilty and balling my eyes out! He seemed so happy, so okay with everything. I didn’t want to bring him down. But, when I finally did open up (translation: when he pulled the truth out of me) I was so free! He completely understood that it was possible for me to not like the nasty stuff, but still completely love him.
It certainly didn’t happen overnight, but things are WAY better now.
I would also cry when metro elevators weren’t working. I cried when I felt like my family was making a big deal over him, I’d cry at church when I felt ignored. I would even cry when he would fall asleep in the car when I was driving, because I was like, really? You can’t drive, so I have to drive everywhere – you can at least stay awake! I’d cry on my way out the door to work in the morning, because I had already been awake for 4-5 hours taking care of all of his needs, cleaning, making breakfast, and I knew I was looking at an hour and a half commute, plus a full work day at a new job.
Phew. Yeah. It was a lot of tears. Not all of them were because of my new caregiving role, some tears were from too much change at once (new job, new place, new marriage) but it was a dark time.
So thankful to my family, my God, my friends, and my teammate – my husband – who got me through that season.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Exciting News: Blogging on Caregiving.com

I have some exciting news for you guys.  As if you don't get enough of me pouring my guts out here, haha!

Seriously, this is an answer to prayer.  I have prayed, asking God where he would lead us and this blog in 2012, and I felt like the goal should be growth.  And, I have been blessed with a new opportunity to share our story, and my journey on Caregiving.com!

I am a new blogger over there.  So far, I have published two blogs:

An introduction, and an explanation of my history of crying, which you all know a little something about by now. :)

Anyway - if this sort of thing interests you, I hope you will follow along over there.  I will also be re-publishing my Caregiving.com blogs here.

Cheers.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Good Food for Cold Weather: Corn Chowder


I don't know about y'all, but I sure like to wear jammie pants all day and eat soup when it's cold outside. Recently this corn chowder did the trick.  The recipe is originally from Family Circle.  I modified it some.

What you need:
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 carrots, chopped
1 rib celery, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 large Idaho potato (I used a few russets instead) cut into 1/2 inch cubes
3 cups chicken broth (I used homemade frozen broth)
1 bay leaf
3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon paprika
4 cups frozen corn
2 cups milk (I used skim)
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons white wine
3/4 teaspoon salt (I skipped this)

What you do:
Heat oil in a skillet.
Add carrots, celery and onion, cook until softened.
Put veggie mixture you just cooked into a crock pot, with the potato cubes and add bay leaf, dried thyme, and paprika.  Cover, and cook on HIGH for an hour and a half, or until potatoes are cooked through.
Then, stir in corn and milk, cover and cook for another hour on HIGH.  Make sure everything is heated through.
Use a potato masher to mash the soup together.
Cook some bacon, chop it up, and top each bowl with bacon and some shredded cheddar (I added that).

MMMM.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Road Warrior Secret

I travel a lot for work.  You know this.
When one travels a lot, and stays in hotels a lot... one can tend to forget which room one is staying in on said trip/night.

So, I came up with a little trick so that I'm not sliding my hotel card key in the wrong door (anymore).



That's right. The second I check into my room, I take a picture of my room number with my phone. Go ahead, steal it. It's genius. I know this.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Sharing YOUR Stories

Over the next couple of days, on our Facebook page, I will be posting some photos and links to people, couples and families who we have been blessed to virtually meet because of this blog.

These are the people we feel a special connection with because they are in similar situations, regarding having a disability, or someone with a disability in their family.  We love ALL of our blog readers, and hope you will all enjoy "meeting" these awesome people.

So, please join us on Facebook this week, and "share the love!"

Some Pumpkin Love

I see no reason to make pumpkin goodies only around Thanksgiving.  However, I did make this Pumpkin Trifle for Thanksgiving this year.  Michael and I ended up eating it ourselves, because we were sick, and didn't drive down to the 757 for the holiday.  It was amazing. And, some of it is still in the freezer.

I didn't make this one up, it's from Paula Deen.

Another yummy pumpkin dish that I want to eat RIGHT NOW is the pumpkin spice pancakes from Aldi.  The box makes an insane amount of pancakes - like 20 or something crazy - we ate them for like four days.


I just made them according to the box directions, then topped them with a mixture of cinnamon and sugar, whipped cream, and some pecans.  Oh, and the last of that real maple syrup I got on a campaign coverage stop in New Hampshire.  Delicious!

Saturday Morning Post


Good Saturday morning to all of you.
This Saturday morning post is brought to you from my love seat, instead of my beloved chair.  Thanks to an unexpected blessing of ca$h, we were able to re-decorate our home a little, and in that, we re-arranged the furniture in the living room.  So, I'm doing something new: sitting on more than one piece of furniture (not at the same time, I'm not that fat!).

It's cold outside, so I'm still wearing my Uggs from walking the dogs this morning. The temps are in the 20s. Brr. Sounds like another day to stay inside and snuggle.  But, Michael and I have a date night planned thanks to a gift card (are we super blessed lately or what?), so we are really looking forward to that.

I am a little bit sore from my workout yesterday, which I consider a good thing. I went to a class at the local REC Center, and it was so great. A solid hour of ADHD working out: 5 mins rowing, 5 mins weights, 5 minutes jumping on a ball, 5 mins weights, 5 mins biking, you get the picture... repeat for 55 minutes.  It flew by. It was really fast, and even in my chubby, non-working out at all lately condition, I survived. So, I was really proud of myself, and I can't wait to go back.

I love taking classes at the gym way more than working out on my own.  But, because I haven't been in a position to join a gym since I was a member of the YMCA when I lived in Norfolk like 6 years ago. Geez, where does the time go? Apparently the same place as the cookies... my thighs.

Let's see, what else is going on around here... Oh, yeah, I'm hoping to work on our office some more today, touching up paint. And, I'm hoping to buy a great full-length mirror for that room off of Craigslist.  I may or may not be Craigslist's worst nightmare. I'm kind of a stalker.

I found out that I am not going to South Carolina for the primary there. I'm kind of sad, because I love covering politics, but kind of glad too, because I love my husband more and I'm excited to spend some time at home with him and the pets. Plus, my SUV needs to be inspected this month, so maybe now I can do that.

Cheers to Saturday!
**What's on your heart and mind this Saturday morning? Write your own "Saturday Morning Post," and link up here!**

Friday, January 13, 2012

On Letting Someone Else Take Care of My Man, and Yes, I Have Issues

I have shared with you before that when I travel for work, we have hired help that comes and helps Michael get up and take care of his personal business.  We don't do this when I am home, because I have a hard time dealing with it.

Well.
Right before New Year's, I pulled my back, and it's made some things hard.  Like lifting my husband, and bending over.  Michael's morning routine involves at least three transfers, and lots of bending over, reaching over, stretching side to side, it's quite the twister game that ends with a handsome man up, dressed and fresh for the day!

I am thankful for a husband who loves me, who knows me, and who looks out for me.  Even though I was home this morning, his scheduled bathroom day, he insisted he have a home health care provider come out to take care of the twister game.

I tried to resist this.
But then, I heard a voice in my head.
It was as if I was my own friend, giving myself advice:
"Take this break. You need it.  It will be a good thing. You can get out. Go to Starbucks, or go to the gym."

But, it is hard.
It's hard to hand control over.
I recognize that I can't take care of my husband when I'm not here.
I get that.
But I hate to let go of that control when I am here.
Because I know how good I am at it. And quick.  And I have this amazing ability to put everything back where I got it/where it belongs.  Not to sound full of myself, but what wife doesn't know better than anyone else what is good for her husband?
So yeah, I have a bit of a trust issue.

I also have a guilt issue.
Right now, our home health care is paid for by Medicaid.  The State of Virginia pays for it. This is a huge blessing to our little family right now.  I have never been one to like a handout, so I had a bit of a moral struggle accepting help this morning, knowing I could have done it. I was here. Would it have been hard? Yes.  Would it have hurt? At times, for a couple of seconds, yes.  But, I could have done it.

Okay, so those are the issues with having someone here.  Then, there are a couple of more. Yes, I have a lot of issues.  :)  I am an all or nothing kind of girl.  So, if I'm going to have issues, I'm going to have them all.

There is the privacy issue.
This one has gotten better over time.  I've gotten used to having people all up in my place when they're taking care of my husband.  I don't particularly like coming home and finding there is NO toilet paper in MY bathroom, and long black hairs on the floor.  It's not my favorite thing to see laundry that has clearly been folded by someone else, and I really don't like trying to find something in my kitchen because someone else put it back in some random spot. (Maybe I should bust the label maker back out and make places more clear?)

Anyway. I'm super proud of myself.
Because this morning, I got up, took care of the dogs, laid Michael's phone on his chest, and headed to the gym.  I did *NOT* cry!! I took a cardio/strength class at the local REC Center.  And I liked it.  And on my way home, I got the text from Michael: "Done."

I asked him, is the coast clear? Once I got the confirmation that it was (I still have major issues about actually BEING HERE while someone else is here taking care of him), I came home.  He was up, dressed, fresh. I made breakfast, and we got on with our day, and it has been a great day.

Not to pat myself on the back too hard... because this was Michael's idea after all... but I'm proud of myself.  For pulling this off with no tears.  And, for going to the gym.

I should do this again.  Sometime.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Q and A: Favorite things in DC, Heroes, Coming to Christ and the Today Show

I would like to do Q and A posts on a regular basis. So, please, send us some questions, so we can blog some answers!  You can e-mail me at: danabrownritter@gmail.com, or post questions on our Facebook page.

Faithful blog reader Kristen asks:

"What are your favorite things to do together in DC?"

Well, unfortunately, because of my hectic work travel schedule, and the bum wheelchairs, we really haven't done much outside of our happily little apartment over the last year.  That sounds pitiful, and it has been frustrating at times, but the slower pace is nice sometimes, too.  When I am in town, and Michael has some reliable wheels, we love going into DC.  We love going to Nationals Baseball games, to museums/art galleries, and of course, the White House.

Recently, we had the privilege of going on a Christmas tour of the White House.

And we stumbled upon a great little place to have a cheap Happy Hour after that.
It turned into quite the lovely little date night!

2nd question from Kristen:
"Who are some of your heroes?"

I can't answer for Michael, but I can tell you about my heroes!  As cliche' as it sounds, my heroes are made up of my family members.  My mom is my biggest hero.  She is super smart, she's cute, she's funny, and she gets things done.  She started her own business when she was only like 22 years old, with no college education.  She has incredible gut instinct, a super quick wit, and she has never, ever let me down in a million years.  I never doubted that she would catch me every single time I was on the verge of falling.  I want to be so much like her.  Which is a good thing, because that seems to be happening, naturally, haha!  She is also very compassionate and caring.  There have been so many people she has helped over the years. She has raised kids that were not technically her own, she has taken in mothers in law, she routinely helps families in need who come to her baby store, the list goes on and on.  And, to top it all off, she has rock solid biceps. So, yeah. I wouldn't mind being like her when I grow up.

3rd question:
"How did you come to know Christ?"

I came to know Christ the Summer before my senior year in high school.  I did not grow up in a religious household.  My household was not anti-religious, but church just was not a part of our lives.  This may sound crazy, but out of nowhere, I just had this urge to go to church.  So, since I could drive that Summer, I started going.  I chose Atlantic Shores Baptist Church, because I had been there a few times with a friend, when I stayed the night with her.  After my 3rd week there, I realized that these people had something that I didn't. I didn't know exactly what that something was, and I didn't want anyone to know that I was missing anything.  When it came time to turn to a book in the Bible, I would flip through the pages, acting like I knew where to look, but I totally didn't!  Then, one Sunday, at the end of the message, the Pastor invited people to "be saved." I did not understand what that meant, but knew I needed to do that.  So, that Sunday, I came back for church in the evening. That night, they had communion.  And the pastor explained that if you had not given your life to Christ, you shouldn't take communion. I seriously faked communion, because I did not even want to know what would happen to me if I drank that grape juice, haha! As I was leaving church that night, I saw a little pamphlet on the wall that said "What must I do to be saved?" I took it.  It had verses from the book of Romans.  When I read this, I realized I had heard of this before! I was like, "Oh, this is that."  I was reluctant at first, because I was scared of becoming an overly religious crazy person! But, I couldn't stop thinking about it.  I memorized those verses, and the little prayer on the back.  I decided the next Sunday, I was going to go forward at the end of the church service.  So, naturally, my 16 year old self bought a new green dress, and I curled my hair.  Then, I had a flat tire! I was so bummed.  I kept reading my little pamphlet for another week.  That Sunday, I made it. I couldn't wait until the end when the Pastor would tell people to come to the front to be saved, and the praise team would sing "Come Just As You Are." He asked people who wanted to give their life to Christ to look up at him. I did. He said, "God bless you." I thought to myself, was that it? Am I saved now? Hmm.  Then, he invited people to come forward. I popped out of my seat, got on my knees at the altar, and started praying the little prayer I had memorized. Then, a lady came and put her hand on my back, and I followed her into a locker room. (This was the "contemporary" service in 1996, so the service was in a gym! Haha. She started telling me the verses from Romans, and I was like, "I know, I know! I just need to pray!" So, we did. And she told me to always remember the date. June 21, 1996.  I will never forget it. Life certainly has not always been easy since that day, but I have always known that I am not alone.  God has always had my back.  Best decision I ever made.

Last question:
"You've mentioned you can't stand the weekday Today Show, but didn't you also say that for years it was your dream job?"

This has the potential to also get really long, but I feel like I have already written a book sharing my testimony, so I will try to make this short! Yes, I did use to dream of working at the Today Show.  When I was growing up, watching the Today Show was a big part of what made me want to be in TV News.  And when I was a young journalist, I was so inspired by the Today Show.  I loved the way they told stories, how they were always first to get the big interviews, and the writing and creative standups were just great.  Then, the show just went downhill. Way downhill.  They started covering all this celebrity crap.  9/11 happened, and it was great again, for a while, but now it's back to being about Michael Jackson.  I miss Katie Couric.  The show hasn't been the same since she left. Matt Lauer is the only thing the show has going for it, and they don't use him enough.  I like to watch NEWS, so, I like Morning Joe.  We don't have cable, so I can't watch that.  Honestly, want to know a secret? I get 99% of my news these days from... wait for it.... Twitter. #imsorrytvnews

Monday, January 9, 2012

Going through My Piles

While we were getting the desks cleaned out lately I was reminded how much I hate dealing with paperwork. Dana was working very hard to get the house ready before she left for her next trip. We had several days uninterrupted over the Christmas / New Year break and took full advantage of them. She tackled her desk and closet, was working on cleaning out our spare room. Then came my messy corner.

For some strange reason I cannot keep things neat and tidy. I'm clean. Even picky. But not tidy. I once heard it described, "some people are filers, others are pilers." Maybe I'm the latter. I don't know why, though. I really hate dealing with paperwork. Sometimes it's inconvenient. Other times it just falls where I can't get to it. Then there are the things I don't want to deal with.

Most of the paperwork has to do with things that remind me of my failures or limitations: credit card stuff, doctor bills, student loans, bank statements. I get overwhelmed thinking, 'yep, ANOTHER thing you didn't do.' Throwing it in a box or pushing it to the back of the desk 'till I can get to it --at a better time-- is easier. That is, until I have to clean up the piles. Then it's all there staring me in the face.

To make matters worse, somebody has to help me go through all of this. Here enters Dana. I said, "we can do this in fifteen minutes." We were okay at first. Then the piles on the desk: frustrating, but got through it. Then the big orange box. It was unbelievable what I had stuffed away in a year. Some stuff we shreaded. That felt good. I didn't want to look at the undone stuff from months gone by. There were notebooks with ideas I hadn't achieved. Threw some of them away. Others I couldn't part with. They had notes to myself of things I don't want to forget; the reminders of how I got where I am today.

Two hours passed and we were through it. Much of my clutter was gone. My piles whittled down to the essential things I had to keep handy for now or wanted to keep for posterity. This hoarding and purging is such a chore. I don't know why I do it to myself. I don't know why I do it to whomever is helping me.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Mission: Organization

It was so nice to come home yesterday to a clean, organized house. It didn't hurt that my husband had put all of his stuff away and cleaned up and that he was heating up dinner when I got home. :)  I don't mind that one bit.

I am only home for like 30 hours before going to New Hampshire.

Before I left for Iowa, I spent many hours organizing our whole apartment.  It was a lot of work. It was a lot of fun. (I happen to love that kind of stuff!)  And, now, being home for just a little bit, it brings me so much peace and happy order knowing that everything has a place, and there's a place for everything.

I invested about $25.00 in a label maker.  This proves that my organizing is on a whole new level.  It's a progressive disease, what can I say.

I really had fun going around and labeling everything, and no, Michael does not have a "husband" label across his forehead.

Here's some of my work:
The medical supplies in Michael's closet.  I hope this is helpful to the home health aides that come to help him when I am not here.  I hope it helps them, ahem, put stuff back where it goes. Ahem.
Under my bathroom sink. This is an example of things I probably didn't need to label, because nobody ever really goes under there looking for hair clips other than me, but labeling is addicting. What can I say?

 Yep, I'm the girl who does that. You who don't, envy me. It's smart. It's practical. And everyone knows you use them, so get over it.

This is Michael's tea drawer.  It's where we keep lots of different kinds of hot teas (that's his thing), splenda, straws, the straps he uses for eating utensils, and plastic plates, at his level.  I'm all about creating opportunities for independence.  a.k.a. opportunities for me to sit down and watch TV while he makes himself a cup of tea. ;)

 
Pantry before.

And after. This was before I busted out the label maker.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Bless this Home

We love our family and friends visiting. The past month we have enjoyed hosting. Dana's sister visited with a couple of friends. Her parents visited. Mike's parents are visiting this week.

We joke about the way people throw around the word "blessing." Sometimes it's the only word that fits. Blessed is the way we feel when our home is full. We get excited planning and cleaning for company. We reflect on the trip when they leave.

We got so excited about all of our company we repurposed our extra bedroom. It was supposed to be our office: two desks, a bookshelf, boxes and a futon. We cleared out the desks and posted them on Craigslist. We moved the futon around. We made things warmer.

Mike's parents are the first to enjoy the new room. Ann will visit soon. Hopefully there will be more to come. We have so much fun when we have somebody to share life with. Sometimes we'd really rather be together without extra company.

Now we have a redecorated guest room and living room. Our home is cozy. Whether it's friends or family, we're excited to share. Our home is really a blessing. We want it to continue to be that.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

On The Road Again

I'm writing this from 30,000 feet. On my way to Iowa to cover the 2012 Iowa Caucuses - very exciting! This is the very first step in determining the GOP nominee who will run against President Obama later this year.  I have a front seat for all of the action, and I love this stuff, so I am pumped.

Here's a little sneak peek of my life on the road over the last year!



Bring on 2012 and all of the adventures and Hilton Honors points! :)

Today we got upgraded to First Class.
I'm lucky enough to be 5 feet tall, so I have my little legs 100% stretched out.