Friday, December 29, 2006

House Hunting

After seeing a fairly new house and falling in love with the vaulted ceilings, open, airy rooms, oversized garage and updated appliances, it's kind of hard to go back to an older house. At least it is here. The houses are so different - if they are newer then they are just as I described. If they are older, they are more like a little box, low ceilings, less sq ft, older appliances, 1 car garage with a sparking space, have nice yards, and are usually in areas that are closer to the highways, beaches, etc. because of when they were built. The problem is they are often more expensive than the new houses - so go figure.

Anyway, we went to see one of these older houses today. He didn't like it and that's ok. We're going to see a good one tomorrow - and to be honest, I hope it is the ONE so I can stop looking and start making my plans to move. With a 17 day overlap of both places, it should be pretty easy to be moved out of here on time. It actually is two-full weekends plus the day we have to be out is a Saturday, so any last minute cleaning that has to be done will be easy to do because we'll have everything out of here by then! Sounds like a good plan, now I hope and pray that's how it happens.

We have some disadvantages - Roland can't lift anything over 10-15 lbs; my foot is still in recovery so I think I'll still be wearing a "boot". Both of my daughters will be here, we do have a truck and an SUV to take things to the new place but only 2 drivers (I can't drive as long as I'm wearing the "boot"). But I can pack and unpack, organize and hang things. So I can help out alot. Just can't carry much.

We will have daily trips, weekend trips, help from the Marine's when it comes time to move in the furniture. I do have pretty much to plan and organize - Just have to secure the place!! Wish me luck!!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

House Hunting

It's hard for me to rest...

I am finding that I want to be on the go, more and more but I can't. It's so hard for me to rest, keep my foot up and stay off of it!! I always think I have so much to do, especially right now. It's a week that he's off work, so I have a ride to places I need to go to, for one. Another thing is that we have to move in Feb, and that's not too far off - we have to start looking now to find the right place! Plus, when a GREAT deal comes along I don't want to lose out! Tamara is coming, so we have to make room :)

We were going to try to find something in the same price range. Man, it was challenging - but I did it - I found the PERFECT townhome - 2 big bdrms, 1.5 bath, 1 car garage with washer/dryer hookup in a complex with a pool and a jacuzzi. $1100 - SWEET!!

But then.... there's always a catch isn't there???? .....he decided that we really need a 2 car garage. So we looked at a couple of those this morning - not too far from where we live now and to be honest - wow!! They were BEAUTIFUL - 1275 sq ft! 3 bedrooms, 2 bath, 2 car garage, super large patio, eat-in kitchen, big living room with vaulted ceiling and fireplace, washer/dryer hookup, lots of storage space and lots of windows. The rent was more than what we originally wanted to spend, $1477/month, but we get so much more. The other catch with this place is they require the first lease to be a 6-8 month lease, which is ok, except at that time they can raise the rent!! Plus, then they will offer the 12-month lease with the possibility of the higher rent. The reason they want to do that is so that the lease will run out in the summer, easier time to rent than end of the year/first of the year. I'm not too keen on this.....

Now, keeping in mind that the new requirement is a 2 car garage instead of just a garage (and I should explain - garages here are VERY small - only a car fits in them, no room on the side except to get out and in, no room for extra storage and no room to work on them) I did a search on my favorite utility - - everyone uses it here in San Diego. The first place I found I think is it!!

Tri-Level Townhome - 1500 sq ft, 3 bedrooms, 2 bath, sunroom, 2 car garage, washer/dryer, pool and jacuzzi in common area, patio, yard, living room, dining room, kitchen. It sounded very very nice plus the rental agent sounded even nicer. I really want it and we haven't even seen it. The location is great, close for everyone to get to work, school, shopping, and dialysis. We're gonna see it on Sat morning, first thing - we were the first one's to call, so I hope we get the first shot at it. She said we would.

We have to pay a partial month's rent in Feb here, a deposit and full month rent when we move into the other place Feb 1, so for 17 days we will be paying double rent. I guess it's just the way it goes. My guess is the rent will be $728 for the 17 days in Feb, but the good part is, we can start moving into the other place on the 1st and have 2 weeks to get things moved in and settled, like we can get the kitchen set up, our clothes in the closets, the bathrooms set up, everything in my garage can get into the other place and most of it can be unpacked - FINALLY!! I'm really happy because I believe I'm gonna be in a nice home for our duration of our stay in California. YIPPEE!!

Well, I am asking for anything that you think will help us be certain that we get JUST THE RIGHT PLACE. Crossing Fingers, Saying Prayers, Burning Candles, Repeating Mantras, ANYTHING....just so we get led to the RIGHT PLACE FOR US!!

"There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure."

-- Colin Powell

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

new Pics at Flickr

I added some new pics on Flickr, so scroll down and on the left, click on the Flickr box of pics. You'll see Jake's wedding pics, some California scenic pics and family/friends pics!!


Vacation Week

I'm on vacation this week. So is my sweetie. I'm not sure that working from home over the last week and a half doesn't constitute vacation as well - but at least this vacation means I don't have to open my work laptop and read any emails.

But what it does mean is I have to take care of some things with him while he's off work. PLUS a couple of friends are visiting San Diego, so we have some plans with them.

The most important thing is to try to locate somewhere to move. I know I'm looking a little early, but it gives us plenty of time to look around and if we find something that is hard to pass up, then we can jump on it. Like a place that we looked at today. It's perfect for us - which makes me nervous because I am not getting a speedy return phone call from the rental agent that I would expect to have. I have talked to her a couple of times, but each time she was in a hurry, couldn't talk right now, will have to call me back - sometime this afternoon. OK,'s only 3:15pm HOWEVER to me that's afternoon, I finally broke down and tried to call her again - left another message and apologized for "bugging" her.

We just don't want to lose out - it's great - 2 bedrooms - really big with lots of closets. laundry room that walks out to a 1-car garage with extra room for storage. Nice size living room, half bath downstairs that is really big and a big full bathroom upstairs. We could park the car in the garage, have one assigned spot and park the truck on the street. We could actually get to use our washer and dryer instead of it sitting in the garage doing nothing. There is a pool and a jacuzzi in the subdivision so actually we would have EVERYTHING we had hoped for - and for a price that we can afford.

Now I just have to wait, I'm not too good at that. But I'm praying that it works out, keeping in mind that if it doesn't something else will be coming our way that we like and works for us just as well. If we get this it's gonna cost us extra for a couple of months. We have to give a 30 day notice and we have to stay until Feb 19th to complete our lease, so we'll have to pay Jan rent and a partial month's rent for Feb - But if this comes available and they want to rent it out Jan 1 - then we will have to pay double rent Jan 1, start moving in when the girls get here and be completely out of our apartment for inspection on Feb 15 - but pay until Feb 19. It's ok, if that's what happens, in this case, it's worth it not to lose the place we found.

In the meantime, I'm just trying to mend - letting my foot heal and trying to take good care of it. And my friends are coming by later tonight for dinner - heading out to get sushi. I'm not real hungry, but I can get a nice roll or something that I really love!!

My honey's at dialysis, I'm here by myself just relaxing. Hoping for the phone call.

"There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure."

-- Colin Powell

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Another Holiday Surprise!!

It's the day before Christmas and all through the family some members are in need of more attention than others. Sound familiar? Of course it does, tis the obligation of a mother to know which of her kids needs more than the others and when! My oldest daughter has not needed much from me in the last few years. In fact, she's been very self-sufficient and independent. But she should be - she's 30!

But even adult children need help from time to time and this is one of them. She's recently been through a pretty serious break up and it's had it's toll on her. So we've asked her to join us here in California to get a break, a change of scenary and get a little needed help - a mental rejuvenation as it were. So today she agreed!! The plane ticket is bought, she's coming back with Beka on Jan 9 and gonna stay until October. 10 months to get it together. I think it can happen.

Please pray for her and her "rejuvenation".

Well, Merry Christmas! I hope that everyone has a Blessed, Joyous Holiday!!

Saturday, December 23, 2006


THANK YOU AND GOD BLESS everyone that was able to contribute to Teri's family and to ALL OF YOU THAT PRAYED that her needs would be met!! It all worked out BEAUTIFULLY!!
God Bless every donation - I pray that you receive the blessings back 100 fold!!

Here's a recap!!

1. She had her paycheck and her husband was able to make a little extra money plus your contributions allowed her to pay her rent ON TIME - NO EVICTION!!!
(who on Earth would evict a family 3 days before Christmas!?! I would like to find out her name and write letters to her!! but that's another crusade!!)

2. A Christmas tree with lights/decorations was delivered and her kids went crazy!! They got it put up and decorated! The kids started getting excited - finally Christmas was arriving at their house! Thanks and God Bless you for bringing the TREE!!

3. Presents - It's been a miracle and a blessing!! Gift cards, presents in the mail PLUS a family collected enough money to go out and buy 9 presents for each of their 4 children, wrap them and they filled the underneath of the Christmas Tree!! It's amazing!! GOD IS AWESOME!! This is what Christmas Spirit is ALL About!! Thank you for parting with presents for your own children to take care of someone else's!!

4. Food - Kroger Gift Cards!! Food - people went shopping for her and she called me last night crying - her refrigerator is PACKED full of great food and they will have the most wonderful Christmas Dinner now!! You are the BEST people!!

5. A little extra cash - allowed her to get
gas in the car and possibly get her Van fixed. I don't know what's wrong so I don't know how much it's going to cost. But they will be fine until the next pay period. And they will be able to pay their rent again in January out of their first paychecks.

I just can't say thank you enough. Teri sends her appreciation to each and everyone of you. I do too. This could not have happened without your kindness and love for each other! That's what is so important!!

And again, I know the blessings are with you, the giver, Teri, the receiver, but also I have been blessed not only from giving but from watching everyone else and hearing so many wonderful stories! You know I'm away from my family - even though this makes me want to be there EVEN more, it's ok - because I know that my children live among some of the kindest, most loving and generous people on EARTH!

Thanks again, and God Bless You!! Have a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS and the HAPPIEST OF ALL NEW YEARS!!

Thursday, December 21, 2006


1. Am still falling a little short on money for Teri's rent. Have about $400 committed already, need another $100, would prefer $200 so we have a buffer.

2. glad my daughter traveled on Tuesday, through JFK with a delay than through Denver to become stranded. My heart goes out to approx 5K people who are stranded in Denver, plus all the others that can't get there or get their connecting flights to get home for Christmas.

3. going to see the Nurse today to get my bandages changed. Will update you later on my foot after the appointment.

4. planning a Christmas Goose Dinner this year. It's a first for both of us. I'll give it a try. Putting the dinner plans together today. Going to make an upside-down Cranberry cake to compliment the goose dinner.

Hope these last few days before Christmas are Blessings for you and your family!!


"There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure."

-- Colin Powell

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Hey Google, here's a limitation that should be fixed!! I have been using Google Docs & Spreadsheets to publish to my blog because it's easy, convenient and I can start something, get interruped and it saves it for me to come back to later. I tend to be long-winded, can't help myself, I have lots of words inside of me dying to get out. As a result, I think I uncovered a limitation today. I have been able to publish my blogs, no problem, until my last one. it was kind of long and it kept throwing an error from the tools. But this one published, so it's not the settings, it's a size limitation!!


What Christmas is ALL About!!

My dear friends and family, all I can say is how wonderful all of you are. Yesterday afternoon, I received a phone call from a young mother of four who lives in Cincinnati. It's a long story, but I've known her since she was in grade school. We used to live in the same neighborhood and during jr and sr high school, she babysat Jake & Beka. As the circle of life tends to complete itself, Beka ran into her when she was in Jr. High and started babysitting for her up until we moved to California. But we talk to her all the time and Beka is extremely close to Teri's children. It's always been a wonderful relationship and I was proud of Beka to make this family part of her heart and of course ours.

The phone call was to ask me if I could help her. She didn't know what to do. She works but doesn't make a ton of money. Her husband works, is a home remodeler / construction type person and hasn't had any work for a while. They found themselves in a bit of a jam. They are being evicted from their rental, have no Christmas presents for their 4 kids, no Christmas tree up and their van broke down to boot (they have another car, but they don't need something else to be wrong!!). Well, as one person I could help out, but I couldn't take care of it all. So, after I cried hearing their plight, I thought about the best way to solve this problem.

And then I got the idea (Thank You Lord!!).

Send an email out to my friends, family & business acquaintances in Cincinnati and see what happens. I was hopeful and almost immediately I started getting responses. $100 here, $100 there, gift cards for presents, a tree, food and $$$!! It's such a blessing for Teri, she and I cried on the phone last night while we were waiting to see what happens. I'm certain that God will provide what they need and the "right" people on my list will answer the call for help. Teri's family will have the BEST Christmas ever!!

It works out because Beka is visiting Cincinnati for 3 weeks and part of her plan was to stay at Teri's through the weekend and help Teri with the kids. So now, Beka can help coordinate with everyone to get the money, etc. to Teri. So the BEST PART IS FOR BEKA AND I!! So many things have already happened. For one, I had the chance to talk to a few people and hear their stories which lead them to help this family (see below) and I get the chance to talk to some folks I haven't talked to in a while - that's VERY COOL! My daughter is blessed because she gets to help out with all of this, watch God's hand move over this situation and watch people's hearts open up! It's a very good experience for her and for me and for the people giving! WOW!!! A COMPLETE WIN-WIN FOR EVERYONE: helpers, givers, receivers!! God is awesome and watching him do his handy-work is even more awesome!!

If you are intersted in helping and I forgot to send you an email, comment me back and I'll tell you how. I'm collecting money via paypal to make it easy.

here's a couple stories which made me cry:

1. a friend of mine used to live in Cincinnati and like me, moved away about a year before I did. She has 2 children and like all couples, they have had their lean times, but have still been fortunate. Their children are 7 and 9 I think. Well, the kids received gift certificates for Christmas but they're only good at two malls - one over an hour from their house and one in Cincinnati. So, the original thought was they would spend them when they come to Cincinnati to visit family spring break or something. When their Mom told them the story, the kids immediately offered one of the cards for those kids and they would share the other card!! It's SO AWESOME - children with such BIG HEARTS!!!! They are fantastic and everyone has been crying over their generosity!!

2. another friend and I talked this morning. She shared a story about a time in her life when things were pretty lean, small children, only one person working, early baby delivery, and wondering how they would cover Christmas. Well, someone her husband worked with surprised them and went Christmas Shopping and brought tons of presents over and blessed them with a great Christmas. They knew that "one of these years" they would be in a position to pay it forward. Already a few weeks ago, they decided this was the year, but they didn't want to just give money to a charity. They really wanted to be sure that the money was going to directly help someone. And then out of the blue, my email arrived. Not only do they have the opportunity to make a difference in Teri's family by contributing a tree and other items, but some of her co-workers have offered grocery gift certificates!! Another example of God touching hearts and people listening to the call!! It's AMAZING!!

3. my own experience, my kids were little, we were broke. I had $100 to buy presents for 4 kids - wasn't going to happen, so I took the money to Goodwill and searched for toys that I could clean up and clothes on the racks that still had tags on them. I did find some, but I was crying most of the time at the store. It was so depressing to think that I was in such a mess. How could I ever get through this??? Feeling such despair. I went home with my used toys and new clothes with store tags on them, started wrapping them and crying. My step-son was a senior in high school. He came home with his friends, had no clue things were so bad. They caught me wrapping and crying, so I confessed to them how sucky Christmas was going to be - crummy presents and all. The next day, they all showed up with presents for the kids and I mean REAL presents!! I was so blessed! I will never forget their generosity. Some came directly from the kids, some came from their parents and some even came from the high school! Wow!!

4. another friend shared with me that without her family's support through the lean times, she would have been in the same position as Teri. Possibly facing eviction. Fortunately she had a good support system, went to college and has a great job now - a woman with a plan!! You gotta love it!!


"There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure."

-- Colin Powell

Monday, December 18, 2006

Beka's 20th Birthday

Today is Beka's 20th, my 'baby' is 20. No longer a teenager! That freaks me out!! You know what that means, I'm getting older whether I want to or not.

I'm so proud of her, she's plugging away at her college degree. She's experimenting with new subjects and classes and even when it's hard she presses forward. She's working 25 hrs a week and keeps a very positive attitude about work. They really like her, so much that she is taking her 3 weeks off to go to Cincinnati and has a job when she gets back! That's impressive.

Last night, we opened Christmas and Birthday presents with her. This is a FIRST EVER to open both at the same time and early at that. The one thing that I LOVED is after she opened her presents and some were REALLY nice - she said "Thanks! I got EVERYTHING I wanted!!!" WOW! We were so happy to hear that. She was kissing us and hugging us and happy, happy! That made me happy.

She's leaving tomorrow for 3 LONG WEEKS in Cincinnati, visiting family and friends. She's been saving money, her friends have been saving money to take her out and of course there's the holidays. She's my ambassador at all Christmas parties. She'll pass out Christmas presents at Jake's for all of the kids and we'll be on the phone. I hope everyone likes what we are getting them.

Today, she's preparing for her trip, doing laundry, getting a manicure and pedicure, then going to drive me around for the last time in 3 weeks. Man, what will I do without my driver?? I can't drive for a long time still........Roland is back at work, so I'm stuck until he can take me out. Boo-bummer!!

God Bless Beka on her birthday, I pray for safe travel to Cincinnati tomorrow and hope she has a good time in Cincinnati, stays safe and returns to me on time, in one piece and ready to get back to the routine of life in Southern Cali!!

Love you, Beka! Happy 20th Birthday!!

Schmap!! Anchorage

Our trip to Anchorage last year has paid off again!! Now I have two photos in the Schmap Anchorage Travel Guide!! I'm so excited! Look down the left side of my navigation for the Schmap Picker. Pick the Anchorage guide to see pics by Peg!!

Also, enjoy the travel guides, they are really well done and I'm proud to be a part of the publication!

Hey, Brian! I am published!!

Friday, December 15, 2006

10 more days to Christmas!!

and 13 days into RECOVERY!!

Ho!Ho!Ho! What do you do to get into the holiday spirit?
  • Putting up and decorating a Christmas tree
  • Holiday shopping
  • Wrapping presents
  • Shipping presents
  • Mailing Christmas Cards
  • Baking cookies and various treats
  • Planning the Christmas Dinner
  • Attending Christmas Parties, work, neighbors, friends
  • Singing Christmas Carols
  • Watching Christmas Movies
  • Decorate your house for Christmas - inside and out
  • Go drive around your community and look at Christmas Decorations on Houses
  • Entertain guests
  • Distribute Food & Presents to Needy Families
  • Donate Food & Presents to Needy Families
  • Adopt a family off of the "Christmas Tree" in your community
  • Work at a shelter
So, this year, I've done quite a bit of these things. Some I can't do because it's only been 13 days since my surgery and by the time Christmas is here, it will only be 23 days. For something as radical as mine was, that's not much time. However, we have done quite a bit of these on the list.
If you have more things that you do to get in the spirit, please let me know! I'll compile a list and send pictures if you can and I'll post them. I'll update this blog tomorrow with tons of pictures of these activities!!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Christmas Cards

Merry Christmas!! I wasn't sure how I'd feel, having the surgery, if I'd be able to get into it. But I'm surprising myself, I'm really getting the Christmas Spirit. I have all my shopping done, presents were bought either before my surgery or online last week.

The presents that I bought online last week, I had them shipped directly to Jake's house. On Christmas, we can all be on the phone then Beka will play Santa (as always!!) and pass them out!! In fact, I'm giving her money to buy a Bengals Santa Hat and she can wear that to pass them out.

Roland is going to bake brownies and cookies for the kids. Not sure if Beka wants to take them on the plane or not. If not, we should ship those to Cincinnati. Still have to ship some presents for some of the kids on Beka's list, plus want to buy some gift certificates for the kids & cards with cash for the kids. Beka can take everything with her on Tuesday when she leaves.

And yesterday we mailed out Christmas cards to our family and a few friends.
We created our own this year and thumbnails in this blog are the pictures that we used. They are so adorable and it was fun going to the beach to take the pictures. Someone gave me a REALLY GOOD IDEA for our Christmas Card picture next year, so just wait until you see that!! We'll go this year and definitely take her suggestion, it will make a GREAT card.

Plus, I'm creating a 2006 Haustetter/Haire Newsletter. I'm nearly done with it and will be sending that out shortly to everyone. I've never done that before, always wanted to but it seemed so "self-serving". But, so many of my friends and family do it and I always enjoy it, so I'm going to do it too. I'll post it on my blog too, if I can.

Merry Christmas everyone!! Happy Holidays!! Happy Hannukah!!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Recovery - Day 11

Back at work!

Day 11 of recovery became Day 1 back at work. It wasn't too bad. I read tons of emails, still have more to go. I let people know I was back at it, catching up and everything was falling into place. Alot of people let me know that they missed me, my boss teased me about "the place falling apart" without me! All of that made me feel wanted!!

It's a great place to work. I like my job, I like our products, I like my co-workers and my teams. It's pretty much fun which makes working super nice!!

Well, things are getting better day-by-day with my foot. I am following the Dr's orders to the letter and seeing improvement daily.

Tomorrow we're going to see some of the Christmas lights in neighborhoods. That will be fun!!

"There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure."

-- Colin Powell

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Congratulations Cincinnati!!

Cincinnati is ranked #7 in the nation for READING!! That's so great!! The rankings are based on reading web material, newspapers, books, and magazines! It's not a surprise really! Most of my friends read alot, especially on the web. Professionals tend to read quite a bit, not only their own trade rags and information, books and so on to advance their careers, but they read the paper, are well informed and read for fun!

Well, I'm proud to be from Cincinnati and will be proud to be back there - one of these days!

here's the top 10 and I have to say, Cincinnati is up there with some pretty impressive folks!! Congrats to all and keep on reading!

10. Portland, Oregon
9. San Francisco, California
8. Denver, Colorado
7. Cincinnati, Ohio
6. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
5. St. Paul, Minnesota
4. Washington DC - tied with #3
3. Atlanta, Georgia
2. Minneapolis, Minnesota
1. Seattle, Washington - do you think that have a zillion Starbucks in Seattle helped this stat??

"There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure."

-- Colin Powell

Recovery - Day 10

Had a Dr. appt today to see the nurse and have the stitches taken out of my foot. It was like something out of a 50's horror flick, I swear! I had stitches all down the side, in the middle, across the toe knuckles at both joints. YIKES!! And she had to take them all out - which freaked me out so much! There was one stitch that gave her AND ME some trouble. It was 'ouchy" to the max. But once she got that done, it wasn't so bad, so maybe it was good that it was toward the beginning. I don't know how many stitches there were, but I could guess over 100.

Plus I got to see my toes - pins sticking out of the ends of toe #2, 3, & 4. The pins go through my toe, through the joints to help the joints heal straight and proper. Then in toe #1 (big toe) there was a pin in the toe by my joint of the toe and foot. That one came by surprise, I thought I'd have a screw in that joint, so maybe there was less damage in my joint and he was able to fix it with only a pin. I'll be sure to find out when I see him in January. That pin will come out in January, the others will stay in until Feb/Mar timeframe, I'll find out in January.

So after the stitches came out, she wrapped my foot in gauze, leaving my toes exposed. Then an ace bandage went on over the gauze. That will stay on until I go back to see him in January. Well, with one exception, I'll go back in a week or so (before Christmas) and have her remove this bandage and put on clean after some more of the swelling goes down and the stitches are healed.

In the meantime, I thought I was getting a cast BUT I was surprised! He decided to order a special boot for me to wear. It's designed so all the weight goes on the heel of your foot and your toes don't even touch the ground. Now my foot's still bruised, swollen, but as the swelling goes down and the bruising gets better, it won't be so bad to walk on that. So in the meantime, I can use either one crutch with the boot, or my walker with the boot and still use the wheelchair to go out in or hang out in the living room.

All-in-all, I didn't know what to expect, so here's what I saw:
1. straight toes - don't remember when I ever saw that on my foot
2. still a hump where my bunion was, but I suspect it will go down as the swelling goes down
3. pins in 4 toes
4. still don't have all the feelings in my foot and toes everywhere, but it will come back as it heals
5. swollen foot, ankle
6. bruising, but not as bad as I suspected

So far, so good! Thanks Dr. Pfeiffer!!

Monday, December 11, 2006

The Devil in the White City

I'm reading a non-fiction book, The Devil in the White City, by Erik Larson. It was recommended by a friend of mine at work. Well, let me tell's kept me enthralled. I've been off work and in bed, so reading this book has been good in between sleeping, resting and playing on my computer, like now.

It's about the man in charge of building the 1893 World's Fair grounds and buildings in Chicago and another man who was a serial killer and used the fair to lure young women into his hotel that was built for with death chambers.

It is so sad to think of all the young women that went to Chicago to become independent and self-sufficient and only found themselves in his horrible house.

So far, I would say the book is written with subtlies, but allows for the reader to understand what the killer did without being so graphic. I like that. I'll give you more when I'm through, I'm about 3/4 of the way right now.

"There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure."

-- Colin Powell

Surgery - Day 9 - It's amazing!!

I have to say that I am blown away by how quickly I am feeling ok. I mean, my foot does tingle, I do get pains in it, but it's nothing like I was worried it would be. I've been very careful with it, I've followed the Dr's directions to the letter. Elevation, keep it totally dry, no direct pressure on my foot only using my heel for balance from time to time. resting, staying in bed (which I am quickly becoming to hate), using all of my mobility helpers - crutches (haven't used yet too much), the walker (it's been my lifesaver) and my wheelchair (another lifesaver, it has allowed me to actually go out of the house and enjoy a little outing or two or three!!).

I've taken my pain meds, and so far, so good. I have weaned myself down to just a little each day, I'm not even taking them every 4 hrs now, just when I need them. So, I'm really proud of my progress. In fact, tomorrow I go to the Dr's, get the stitches removed and I think I get a hard cast put on, right now I have a soft cast/splint up to my knee protecting my foot, not allowing it to bend at all. That's been a good thing!!

I have been out of the house thanks to the use of a wheelchair and my loving family taking me out - it's kind of hard - almost like taking a baby out by the time I get all of my "stuff" together. Pillows, jacket, purse, wheelchair, heave wheelchair in back of SUV - that takes a little muscle! But they have been wonderfully kind in taking me out just a "Little".

Friday - Beka took me out of the house, for the first time since the surgery. It was a beautiful day, sunny, warm, a little windy. We went to her college for an art fair. There were so many wonderful, charming pieces that students made and were selling. Blown glass of all shapes and sizes, pottery, knitted scarves, handmade nature greeting cards, ceramics in every shape and size and utility, and of course the ever popular jewelry. I bought a few things for the kids and a couple things for myself. It was fun just her and I going out and she was ever so mindful in taking care of me. :)

Saturday - Roland and I went up the street (drove this time) to the neighborhood movie theatre to see a matinee. We went to see "Deck The Halls" with Matthew Broderick and Danny DeVito. It was very funny, I caught myself laughing out loud several times. I totally enjoyed it - maybe it partly the percocets and partly just being out of the house, but it was fun!! Besides, there was only a grandma with her grandson in the theatre. So, it was kind of like a private showing!! That's why we LOVE the matinees!!

Sunday - Roland and I went to a co-worker's home for a lovely Christmas party. It was a little of a hassle in the wheelchair, getting in the house was an issue. We had to go thru the garage, hop up a little step and then in thru the house. The thing is here in California houses are not that big, so we pretty much had to rearrange as we went through the living room, to find me a spot that was off to the side and out of the way. It was nice to go though, and I had previously warned Sue that if I did come, I would be in a wheelchair. I got to meet quite a few people's spouses and children from work, so that was very nice. I think there was a lot of people there, I couldn't see everyone, of course from where I was. The food was lovely, I had some things that were quite different. Cucumber chunks stuffed with crab salad, that was delish. Then there were nacho chips (full sized) with guac, sour cream and chipotle chicken stuffed in them. That was good too. Lots of sweets appeared on my plate thanks to my adoring honey!! Such as: miniature cheery cheesecake in graham cracker crust EXCEPT it wasn't cheesecake it was a graham cracker crust, a dab of choc pudding the rest of vanilla pudding and a spoon on cherry pie filling on top. It was very good. There was cheese trays, lots of imported beer, some dinner food that was a little too exotic for my tastes, but nonetheless, there was something there for everyone and everyone was having a good time.

So, today, I rest, I might venture outside to sit in the sun later, I'm not sure. But I will rest, relax, and enjoy because I'm going to get back to work on Wed. I'll work from home, I can't go into the office, but I can help with some issues that have been going on while I've been out.

Thanks for all the well wishes from my kids, family and friends, glad they have been calling and checking up on me. Thanks for my daughter, Beka, for being a wonderful assistant, waiting on me when she is here to help out. And mostly for Roland's dedication to serving me, helping me and taking care of me. I couldn't have done this without you, sweetie! I love you every day more than the day before. (He's been off work the entire time to help me, I love that man sooooo much!!)

"There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure."

-- Colin Powell

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Santa & Sarah:

Three years ago, a little boy and his grandmother came to see Santa at Mayfair Mall in Wisconsin. The child climbed up on his lap, holding a picture of a little girl. "Who is this?" asked Santa, smiling. "Your friend? Your sister?"

"Yes, Santa," he replied. "My sister, Sarah, who is very sick," he said sadly.

Santa glanced over at the grandmother who was waiting nearby, and saw her dabbing her eyes with a tissue.

"She wanted to come with me to see you, oh, so very much, Santa!" the child exclaimed. "She misses you," he added softly.

Santa tried to be cheerful and encouraged a smile to the boy's face, asking him what he wanted Santa to bring him for Christmas. When they finished their visit, the Grandmother came over to help the child off his lap, and started to say something to Santa, but halted.

"What is it?" Santa asked warmly.

"Well, I know it's really too much to ask you, Santa, but ..." the old woman began, shooing her grandson over to one of Santa's elves to collect the little gift which Santa gave all his young visitors. "...the girl in the photograph. my granddaughter ... well, you see ... she has leukemia and isn't expected to make it even through the holidays." she said through tear-filled eyes. "Is there any way, Santa ... any possible way that you could come see Sarah? That's all she's asked for, for Christmas, is to see Santa."

Santa blinked and swallowed hard and told the woman to leave information with his elves as to where Sarah was, and he would see what he could do. Santa thought of little else the rest of that afternoon. He knew what he had to do. "What if it were MY child lying in that hospital bed, dying." he thought with a sinking heart. "This is the least I can do."

When Santa finished visiting with all the boys and girls that evening, he retrieved from his helper the name of the hospital where Sarah was staying. He asked the assistant location manager how to get to Children's Hospital.

"Why?" Rick asked, with a puzzled look on his face.

Santa relayed to him the conversation with Sarah's grandmother earlier that day. "C'mon .... I'll take you there," Rick said softly.

Rick drove them to the hospital and came inside with Santa. They found out which room Sarah was in. A pale Rick said he would wait out in the hall. Santa quietly peeked into the room through the half-closed door and saw little Sarah on the bed. The room was full of what appeared to be her family; there was the Grandmother and the girl's brother he had met earlier that day. A woman whom he guessed was Sarah's mother stood by the bed, gently pushing Sarah's thin hair off her forehead. And another woman who he discovered later was Sarah's aunt, sat in a chair near the bed with a weary, sad look on her face. They were talking quietly and Santa could sense the warmth and closeness of the family, and their love and concern for Sarah. Taking a deep breath and forcing a smile on his face, Santa entered the room, bellowing a hearty, "Ho, ho, ho!"

"Santa!" shrieked little Sarah weakly, as she tried to escape her bed to run to him, IV tubes in tact.

Santa rushed to her side and gave her a warm hug. A child the tender age of his own son -- 9 years old -- gazed up at him with wonder and excitement. Her skin was pale and her short tresses bore telltale bald patches from the effects of chemotherapy. But all he saw when he looked at her was a pair of huge, blue eyes. His heart melted, and he had to force himself to choke back tears. Though his eyes were riveted upon Sarah's face, he could hear the gasps and quiet sobbing of the women in the room. As he and Sarah began talking, the family crept quietly to the bedside one by one, squeezing Santa's shoulder or his hand gratefully, whispering "thank you" as they gazed sincerely at him with shining eyes. Santa and Sarah talked and talked, and she told him excitedly all the toys she wanted for Christmas, assuring him she'd been a very good girl that year. As their time together dwindled, Santa felt led in his spirit to pray for Sarah, and asked for permission from the girl's mother. She nodded in agreement and the entire family circled around Sarah's bed, holding hands. Santa looked intensely at Sarah and asked her if she believed in angels.
"Oh, yes, Santa ... I do!" she exclaimed.

"Well, I'm going to ask that angels watch over you!" he said. Laying one hand on the child's head, Santa closed his eyes and prayed. He asked that God touch little Sarah, and heal her body from this disease. He asked that angels minister to her, watch her and keep her. And when he finished praying, still with eyes closed, he started singing softly, "Silent Night, Holy Night ... all is calm, all is bright." The family joined in, still holding hands, smiling at Sarah, and crying tears of hope, tears of joy for this moment, as Sarah beamed at them all. When the song ended, Santa sat on the side of the bed again and held Sarah's frail, small hands in his own.

"Now, Sarah," he said authoritatively, "you have a job to do, and that is to concentrate on getting well. I want you to have fun playing with your friends this summer, and I expect to see you at my house at Mayfair Mall this time next year!" He knew it was risky proclaiming that to this little girl, who had terminal cancer, but he "had" to. He had to give her the greatest gift he could -- not dolls or games or toys -- but the gift of HOPE.

"Yes, Santa!" Sarah exclaimed, her eyes bright.

He leaned down and kissed her on the forehead and left the room. Out in the hall, the minute Santa's eyes met Rick's, a look passed between them and they wept unashamed. Sarah's mother and grandmother slipped out of the room quickly and rushed to Santa's side to thank him.

"My only child is the same age as Sarah," he explained quietly. "This is the least I could do." They nodded with understanding and hugged him.

One year later, Santa Mark was again back on the set in Milwaukee for his six-week, seasonal job which he so loves to do. Several weeks went by and then one day a child came up to sit on his lap. "Hi, Santa! Remember me?!"

"Of course, I do," Santa proclaimed (as he always does), smiling down at her. After all, the secret to being a "good" Santa is to always make each child feel as if they are the "only" child in the world at that moment.

"You came to see me in the hospital last year!"

Santa's jaw dropped!! Tears immediately sprang in his eyes, and he grabbed this little miracle and held her to his chest. "Sarah!" he exclaimed. He scarcely recognized her, for her hair was long and silky and her cheeks were rosy -- much different from the little girl he had visited just a year before. He looked over and saw Sarah's mother and grandmother in the sidelines smiling and waving and wiping their eyes.

That was the best Christmas ever for Santa Claus. He had witnessed --and been blessed to be instrumental in bringing about -- this miracle of hope. This precious little child was healed. Cancer-free. Alive and well. He silently looked up to Heaven and humbly whispered,
"Thank you, Father. 'Tis a very, Merry Christmas!


Surgery Day 4

Feeling much better. I have cut down my meds per my Dr's instructions - 1 to 2 tabs as needed every 4 hrs. So today, I'd down to 1 tab every 4 or 5 hrs as needed. I'm still needing it but not like it was just 2 days ago. Plus, today I was able to stand and brush my teeth, I know that doesn't sound like a big deal - but it is!! I wasn't dizzy and was able to stand long enough to brush my teeth - this is HUGE!! hehe!! I get amused very easily these days! I watched a movie with my honey last night, sitting in my wheelchair with my leg propped up. And I actually ate dinner at the table. I felt human again!!

The most fun has been being able to just relax, read, listen to the radio, musc, blog, surf the internet, read and write emails just for fun! Wow, I never get to do that.

So, as long as I keep doing what the Dr says, I am sure I'll recover just nicely. I hope to surprise him and heal faster than he expects - just like when my knee cap was fractured. They thought it would be 6-8 weeks and it was 3-4!! half the time! I guess having a healthy diet helps!! Plus, since I have no other things wrong with me, it's easier for my body to focus on one area and do the repairs needed.

Google is so cool!!

Ok, I have to write about technology, it's been a while and I haven't been impressed like I am right now. Google is so cool, they just keep improving their services every day. They add so many features to their products that work together so well. I just love it!!

I have tried other tools, plug-ins and methods to publish my blog independent of actually being logged in and using their editor. I used to use a blackberry, so when Blogger introduced blogging via email - I loved that. I could be anywhere and send it from my blackberry - my blog was much more spontaneous back then! I loved that the most. But then they introduced a Blogger plug-in for Word. That was nice, easy, I could format the fonts, insert pics, make it look really nice and publish directly from Word. Another nice - easy way to blog.

I upgraded to Beta Blogger, which I like alot for TONS of reasons: easy to update the blog, move collection blocks around, update HTML collection blocks easily, add, delete, modify the site in an instant, have more control over the design, more designs available, faster updates, LOVE IT LOVE IT LOVE IT!!

I just want more and who doesn't?? I want the email thing to work, I want the word plug-in to work. But that's the only feedback I could give that isn't positive, and it's not negative, it's just an enhancement/feature I would like to see.

Now, I tried 'performancing' - don't like it, I tried some other blogging tools - didn't like them.

So, thanks Google for allowing me to update from Docs/Spreadsheets! This is so easy, so cool and I am happy to have this new feature!!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


I think the worst is over. Or at least the worst of the beginning is over!!

I survived my surgery with very little side effects or issues. There was no one BIGGEST thing, but there were some things that were challenging.

1. the anesthesia got to me after the surgery, but to be honest, I had been lying in recovery for nearly 4 hrs before it got to me and only because I really should have been in a room by then, snuggled in for the duration. I think I got sick because I needed a drink or ice chips or something and there was no one there to help get that for me. They wouldn't let Roland come back there with me, which was a total bummer. He was irate and I needed him by my side to help me.

2. I got to my room, finally, and they didn't prop up my foot properly - but I didn't find that out until the NEXT morning when the orthopedic resident came in to check on me. She works with my Dr. and was totally familiar with everything he had done to my foot. She fixed my bed, propped my foot up more, which helped with the pain.

3. speaking of pain - OUCH!! 6 mg of Morphine every 3 hrs and 2 percocets every 4 hrs (alternating of course) only took the EDGE off for the first 28 hrs. Until I got released. I think just the idea of coming home, having my total sweetheart take care of me made me feel better.

4. and the bedpan - YUCK!! Need I say more?????

All-in-all, it was pretty intense until I got home. It still hurt until I got past the 48 hr mark, then it started getting better. I took a bird bath, he washed my hair, changed my clothes, fed me great food and let me sleep as much as I could. He's a GREAT CAREGIVER!! The recovery process is long, drawn-out: can't walk on it for 6-8 weeks, can't drive for 3-4 months, won't be 100% for a year, but it will be better than it was.

When I get pictures I'll put up before, during and after pictures. For the time being, it's still too embarrassing to post the pics. I swear, it's unbelievable how crippled my foot was and how I was walking. But I managed because I could NEVER have had this surgery without Roland's help. My kids would have helped, but it's not the same - they would not have been able to stay home every minute of every day to take care of me. I'm still in bed and will be for the week. Then he wants me to stay in bed for another week, only going out to go to the Dr's next Tuesday.

I'll get the stitches out on Tuesday, get a hard cast and go to the next step of recovery. But again, I could not have done this without him helping me. This is what relationships are about - it's love in action, that's what it is................I love him so much!

Friday, December 01, 2006

surgery is back on

My surgeon was sick on Monday - so the surgery was postponed until tomorrow - yes, that's right a SATURDAY!! I appreciate his dedication - it left me little time to chicken out. So, tomorrow is a big, 4-hr surgery to fix my foot. I hope that it turns out half as well as I picture it in my head.

But, we're going to get our Christmas tree today and he can decorate it. He loves it anyway - he can do that while he's taking care of me Sunday. Unless he does it tonight.

Christmas - I can't believe it's time again and this year, I won't see my family. I miss my kids and especially with the surgery, I want them to come to see me. Oh well, 3,000 miles is alot!!

I love you guys!!

"There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure."

-- Colin Powell