Saturday, May 31, 2008

Thyroids and Toes

Yesterday, I observed at my endocrinologist's office. My doc wasn't there that day, but two other docs let me come in and see some thyroid biopsies. They use a large needle guided by the ultrasound, and insert it into suspect thyroid nodules to obtain tissue cells. They numb the area with Lidocaine only. Yikes! I was excited to see something new, but after a couple, I was done. Plus, one of the docs I really did not like. I thought he was inconsiderate to the patients and employees. The two patients that this doctor did biopsies on, complained of pain during the procedure, while the first doc (the one I liked) did not. The first doc was gentle, explained things to the patient as he went along and was quite thorough. The other doc hardly explained anything to the patients, and was quite rough on them. He was also very rushed and had one of those anal retentive personalities. Ugh.

All in all, I did not like that office. I was bored out of my gourd, sitting at a back desk reading magazines, waiting to go see something. They even forgot about me one time, so I missed a procedure. I don't know, it's hard to describe, but it just wasn't what I would call a quality setting to work. I may be ruined by my awesome experience at the imaging center, but at least I know what I'm looking for. When I went to lunch, I decided I was going to leave, so I said that my toe was bothering me (I'll tell you about my toe in a sec) and get the heck outa there.

My toe.

If you don't like to look at feet, especially an ugly toe, don't look at this picture:

Man I need a pedicure. Anyway, on Thursday, I was at the YMCA doing my PE class. I was trying to kill a few minutes at the end of class, and I went over to the calf-raise equipment. There was a girl using it, and there were too many weights on it, so I offered to help take a weight off. It's a big round thing with a hole in the middle, so it hangs on a peg. I pulled it off and thought I was "tossing" it to the floor, but somehow caught my toe. All 45 pounds of it. I said "ow," and thought it would be OK. Then, it really started to hurt - BAD. All I could think about was getting to a private place to work through the pain. So I went around a corner and sat in a chair, and scrunched up in a ball to wait for it to go away. It didn't. I think the pressure was building underneath my nail! Then, of course, my teacher found out, and they had to do an accident report. I found myself with three people hovering over me (remember I just wanted to be by myself!). Finally, they went away. I didn't cry, mind you, until I got home and the pain STILL wouldn't go away. I put ice on it, elevated it and everything. I called the nurse at my doc's office, but it took a couple of hours for her to get back to me. Meanwhile, I cried and tried to squeeze my other toes. I turned on the TV to distract me, but it would just overwhelm me at times. Then, after a couple of hours, it started to subside. The nurse called, and I wanted to know if I should have them drill a hole in my nail to relieve the pressure, but she thought, if the pain was subsiding, it would be OK.

Today is Saturday, and I can still feel my heartbeat in my toe, but it's not too painful. If I keep it elevated, it helps.

That's my toe story.

Aren't you glad you read it?

Friday, May 30, 2008

The Yard Explodes

Our backyard explodes with color every Spring. I have many perennials that I look forward to seeing each year, such as the orange Helianthemum and Blue Lithodora that look so COOL together. We get some hot sun in the back, so I have incorporated succulents into the rockery, which also look pretty awesome. I have also planted a lot of evergreen plants, to provide interest during the winter or dormant times for the perennials. I try to stick to plants that can tolerate full sun, and any type of soil conditions for our hillside. On ground level, I have planted various annuals and perennials. I have to water those more, so that's why they're not on the hillside!

This purple guy is an African Daisy. I have a few planted in my lower flower bed. I couldn't resist taking a picture right after I watered today.

This is one of the succulents I mentioned. I have GARGANTUAN ones. Joe got some from a co-worker, and they love our backyard. I tucked them all over, in between rocks and boulders. They turn red in colder weather, and in the summer, they are more green in color. This one is in a cluster of them, and it's probably four inches across.

These next two pics are from my shade garden (it used to be in full sun until my flowering pear tree grew tall and created the shade!) I love it, though. It allows me to try out new kinds of shade plants. This one is called "Bleeding Heart."

This one I got as a starter from my mom's old house, and I've had it in the yard for several years. I can't remember what it's called, but it has the most adorable, tiny flowers that look like little bells. I have other plants that I received as babies from my mom's old house: Lady's Mantle, the Bleeding Heart and some other native plants. I think it's fun to get "hand-me-down" plants and remember the people you got them from. I have some beautiful, white, vanilla-scented irises that I got from my friend, Dave.

Last weekend, after Joe and I had finished cleaning up the yard for Spring, I spent the day planting annuals in the beds and in flower pots. My favorite, favorite thing is to plant geraniums in clay pots. I just love the look. I plant Vinca in the pots too, so they will cascade down the side of the pot. They're a perennial evergreen, so they can be used year after year. Here's a geranium:

In the past, I have used this antique baby bathtub and enamel container as mini rock gardens with succulents planted in them. This year, at the nursery, they had some displays with the same idea, but they also incorporated mini trees. They look like little Alpine gardens - so CUTE! I had to try it myself:

I LOVE these. The plants are all succulents, except the mini trees and some Woolly Thyme. The trees are only supposed to grow an inch in ten years! Aren't they cute?

Well, that was a long post, but I get excited about gardening. I even love weeding. I love experimenting with new things. The only thing I don't like about gardening, is when parts of a tree get a disease or die off, and I have to prune them way back. It almost makes me cry, because I remember how beautiful it was, and how long it took to grow that much. I had to cut a big hunk out of a perfectly shaped Japanese maple in my front yard this year. It had frost damage, and I had to do it. I always think about God and how he has to "prune" us sometimes. I wonder if He has the same feeling - knowing He has to do it, but it's a little sad and painful.....

Spring Happenings

Every Spring, our kids are involved in some "end of year" event. Amanda has her big recital, Melanie has a school concert coming up and Ben already had his. Here are some pics of some of their stuff....

Ben and his class, walking down the aisle toward the stage for his first grade music program. They all wore sunglasses, because the theme was "Education Rocks," and they were supposed to look like rock stars.

Ben in the front row.

Ben and his teacher.

Amanda's recitals are huge events (and long). They're not your run-of-the-mill recitals, I can tell you that. These students are top level performers for their age - it's amazing. Amanda took part in a few ensembles.

Amanda with her two friends who will be graduating from high school this year (Amanda graduates next year!). After the recital, there is a reception downstairs, where the seniors put up display boards with their high school achievements and letters of acceptance from the college they plan to attend.

Amanda playing next to her friend, Hailey.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

My Daughter Has A Baby

That title freaked you out, didn't it? HAHA! Here's what this is about: my 9th grader, Melanie, is taking a class at school called "Life Issues." As part of the class, each student is required to take home an electronic baby doll. It is life-sized, and anatomically correct. Each doll is equipped with sensors on a bottle and diapers. It cried, fusses, coos, and SCREAMS. It does so just as randomly as a real baby at ANY time and at ANY hour. It even makes breath sounds constantly. There is one cute thing. It makes the cute little sucking and swallowing noises real babies do when they eat. Every time it makes noise, Melanie is required to respond. The baby reacts to diaper changes, bottle feedings, rocking, etc. It even will react if she handles it improperly. They get points docked for any recording if it's head not being held properly. She wears a wristband with a sensor that she scans over the baby to record her responses. She also has to log everything on paper.

Melanie thought it would be cool to have her baby over the Memorial Day weekend. Yeah, thanks, Mel. As I am typing this, I am listening to this baby screaming from Melanie's bedroom. It was not an enjoyable night. I hate this baby already.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Ultrasound Observation Day

Yesterday was AWESOME. I observed in an imaging center for about 8 hours yesterday. I observed two breast biopsies, breast ultrasounds, an intravaginal ultrasound, a couple of renal/kidney ones and some pelvic ones. I was on my feet all day watching (I had to get a band-aid for my foot, as I got a blister!). Two of the breast ultrasounds looked like cancer, which was very sad. One of the women had breast implants, and had found a lump. When they scanned it, it was not a good-looking mass, so they had to let her know they wanted to biopsy it. The poor gal wanted to do it right at that moment, but they couldn't. I totally felt for her wanting to know right away what that thing was. I got to see scans done on a couple of kids and a man, but it was mostly women that I observed. During one of the biopsies, I got to stand right in front of it, and I was curious to see if I could handle watching it as confidently as I thought I could. I did! It didn't bother me at all. They were aspirating a breast cyst, and I watched them numb her up, make the incision and insert the vacuum probe. The probe made a lot of weird noises, but it was cool watching the doc use the ultrasound to guide the probe into the cyst. I'm sure I would be scared to have that procedure done, but the women I observed were very brave.

I absolutely loved this work environment. It was quite collaborative, professional and positive. The sonographers were very cool and worked together so well. I asked them a lot of questions about where they have worked before, and what setting they prefer. They said they preferred the office setting vs. the hospital, for the reasons I would have thought of: to not be around so many sick people. They said that if you work at a hospital, and are "on call," you can make some serious "bank," as they said, but it gets quite old after awhile. The gals I met had worked in that office for 7 and 8 years, which says a lot for how happy they are with their work environment. Most of the sonographers work part time (2-3 days a week), which is what I am looking for when I first get started, because Ben will still be in elementary school. I am so going to be hoping and praying that this office will be where I get to intern at during my schooling. It would be so awesome!

Next week, I will observe at an endocrinologist's office, watching thyroid biopsies. I don't think it will be quite as exciting....

Monday, May 19, 2008

Grandparents Weekend

This past weekend was a full one. Joe's parents were up from Arizona to celebrate Joe's Dad's 70th birthday, see family and last night, we all watched Amanda's last youth symphony concert of the season. The birthday party was held at a pizza place with a great buffet. Ben thought the buffet was very cool, especially when he discovered he could get up and down from our table to scout out food for himself. At one point, he used the tongs to bring some croutons back to our table, and run and put the tongs back! haha! It was fun being with just Joe, Ben and I, as the girls were taking part in a large youth event that night. We knew that they would get to see Nana and Papa at the concert (and out for dinner afterwards), so we let them attend the youth event (as Amanda was playing her violin there also).

Now that Ben is seven, he was trying to figure out "who was who" at the party. He kept asking me, "Is that my uncle?" "Is that my cousin?" So, I would explain everything to him. I think he loved the idea of being around his extended family. Don't we all long for that sense of belonging? Anyway, he got to rough house a little with his Uncle Jim afterwards, which any time Ben gets to play rough with a guy - he is in Heaven.

The concert last night was one of the best we'd ever heard. Now you must know that Amanda has been part of the Tacoma Youth Symphony for four years. It its one of the largest youth symphonies in the country. She is in the top group, which is made of mostly juniors and seniors in high school. I'm telling you-they sound professional! And, last night, there was a piano solo for one piece and a violin solo for another. Joe's Dad was so emotional over it, because he used to be a concert pianist and coronet player when he was in college. Another special treat for him was a brass ensemble. Anyway, we paid the extra bucks and we all sat in the balcony this time so we could see Amanda well. It was the most wonderful experience. I wish I could explain in words how awesome it was. It truly brought you to tears, it was so good!

Amanda was so thankful to her grandparents for coming and seeing her play in the concert. It means a lot to all of my kids when their family makes the effort to see them do what they do. Amanda, in particular, has worked so hard this year, and she was so appreciative of her Papa and Nana being there. I know she's glad that we come to all of her concerts, but I think it makes her feel even more special when there are other family members taking the time to make her feel important and loved.

We went out for Mexican food after the concert, and I think the kids enjoyed being with their grandparents a little longer. It doesn't take a whole lot to let kids know that they're loved and special, and they sure know what it is when it does or doesn't happen. I appreciate the kids' Papa and Nana for the things that they do for my kids to let them know that they're thinking of them on their special days and occasions. My kids will always carry that with them, and I'm so glad.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Ultrasound Update

I have started taking some initial steps to my application for the ultrasound program. I had my official transcript sent over to the school, even though I'm not finished with my psych class (I'll just send that grade over when I'm finished). Then, I sent in the transcript evaluation form, to request that the program evaluate all of my prereqs.

Each of my prereqs grades counts as points. A 4.0 equals 4 points, etc. I can also earn points through completing volunteering and observation hours. And so, last week I set up a few "job shadow" opportunities. The first one I will be doing will be at an imaging center. I have to dress professionally and bring my lab coat. I get to spend several hours there! My second opportunity is actually at my own endocrinologist's office. At my last thyroid checkup, I asked him if I could observe some thyroid ultrasounds there, and it has been approved! I will have the chance to spend about 6 hours there and see some biopsies as well (if the patients give permission). Coool! My final observation will be at the hospital. I am excited for the variety of ultrasounds I might get to see there. I'm just happy that I get to experience such different settings. I think I might get a good idea about where I might like to work eventually!

I can't believe I am so close to getting into the program. The deadline for submitting my package is July 1st, and I will find out in August if I am accepted. I really hope that the combination of my good grades and the extra points I'm getting will be enough. If not, I plan to finish my associate's degree (I only have four classes left), and continue to volunteer in a medical setting. Perhaps I can accrue a lot more points toward being accepted the following year. We'll see. Like I've said before, I keep telling the Lord that this would be a great time to redirect my path if He is going to do so! :)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Read the Billboard

Our government "economic stimulus" check stimulated ME to go to DISNEYLAND!! One more month!! Yahoo!!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

AWANA Awards Nite

Not only is the Derby Car race a big night, but another big night for AWANA clubbers is the end-of-the-year awards nite! Ben received a very pretty ribbon for completing his first book this year. YAY BEN!! He is almost finished with this second book, so his leader said she would sign off his pages over the summer, if he would like to finish it. It's been so cool to see him so excited about AWANA and memorizing those verses. So many great discussions have come up between us about God this year. Two days after the awards night, Ben said he missed AWANA already. I reminded him to not forget about VBS this summer!!!

Newest Macy Pics

Yesterday, we were all eating dinner, and Macy climbed up on her cat tree next to our kitchen table and hung out - literally. She was chillin' good, with her paws dangling over the side of the platform. She was so cute, we were all laughing and giggling like crazy. This kitten is constant entertainment, I tell ya. She just sat there through our whole dinner as content as can be!

AWANA Derby Car Races 2008

Ben had his first AWANA Derby Car Race. Each child purchased a kit with a block of wood they could design a car with. Ben and Joe shaped the car with the scroll saw and sanded it. Then, Ben and I painted it together. He wanted to paint it like Lightning McQueen, so it has eyes and a mouth with a tongue sticking out.

He was so proud of his car!

When we arrived at 9 AM, it was all hustle and bustle, with kids getting their cars weighed and weights added to them. Each car had to weigh 5 ounces, had certain measurements and the same wheels. The only differences were design, really.

Here's the ramp, set up in the middle of the church where AWANA is held. The ramp could hold four cars to race at once. At the bottom, was a digital reader that showed the times for each car. Each child sat at the bottom of the ramp and watched their car race.

Here's Ben and Melanie setting up Ben's car for his test run.

Ben didn't win any prizes this time around, which made him a little sad. I explained that this was only our first time, and next year we would know what things we could improve upon. Melanie and I decided we were going to enter the "open class" for family members next year. I'm going to make a car that looks like a piece of cheese with a mouse on top, I think! :)

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day!!

Her children stand and bless her. Her husband praises her: "There are many virtuous and capable women in the world, but you surpass them all!"
Proverbs 31:28-29

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Honoring Our Church Leaders and Pastors

I wanted to pass on this article to you, sent to me via email from Smoldering Wick Ministries (a ministry for the burned out pastor and ministry leader). It touched me so much as a previous ministry leader, and one who has seen the deep discouragement of a pastor first-hand.........

The Plague: Restoring Honor
via Clayton King by admin on 4/21/08

I am sure that a post of this sort offers itself to misunderstanding. I write it nonetheless, in hopes that you will hear my heart and glean the good from it.The church in America seems to have lost the ancient, and dare I even say Biblical understanding of correctly honoring the man of God; one who dedicates his life to service to God and God’s people (this could be the worship leader, youth minister, or most often the pastor). We have confused honor with obsession, treat our ministers like hired hands, and become addicted to personalities on TV or the internet and swallow anything they try to sell us while starving our local pastor on a salary that allows him to qualify for food stamps.There is a distrust and skepticism afoot that is a result of the hideous scandals of the 1980’s. And I do believe that the Swaggart and Baker scandals were, in the long run, good for the family of God. That bubble had to burst, and the scripture had to come true that judgement must first begin in the house of God. There have been plenty more, even the Ted Haggard scandal of recent days, that have caused the world to view us with a cynical eye. We should expect this and live our lives accordingly so that the world can see a true Christian witness. But in the wake of these scandals, not to mention Enron and WorldCom, there is a “mood” where it seems that churches treat pastors as expendable, replaceable, for hire and for fire. We almost automatically distrust anyone in leadership now.I am not advocating that the church makes the pastor a little king of a little kingdom with freedom to do or say whatever he wants. That is insanity. I am advocating for a return to honoring the man of God, not worshipping him, but understanding the heavy burden laid upon him, the struggles and pressures he faces on a daily basis that NOBODY else experiences, and the specific needs the pastor faces that are uncommon to all other people in the church.Perhaps this is the reason so many pastors burn out and quit ministry. The statistics are staggering, so much so that the Eli Lilly Foundation is pumping hundreds of millions of dollars into churches, seminaries, and other non-profits to try and figure out why pastors walk away and how they can help stop the mass exit. When questioned as to this reality, pastors who quit most often say that a lack of support from the church and lack of understanding from the members as to the stresses and pressures of the job is the largest contributing factor to pastoral burnout.Can we regain a sense of honoring the man of God without becoming obsessed with personalities or worshipping personas? Of course we can. Pray for your pastor. Slip a $100 bill in his hand after church. Send him and his wife on a cruise. Give them gift certificates to their favorite restaurants. Babysit their kids so they can have a night out to watch a movie and eat a good meal. Stand up for them when you hear gossip. Get their back when they cannot defend themselves against the untrue accusations of others. Encourage the deacons or the elders to take up a special love offering for your pastors family once a year, honoring them with respect and generosity.When I was a young boy, my daddy and I got our hair cut every other Saturday morning at Garrett’s barbershop in Fountain Inn. And everytime that a local pastor would come in the barbershop to get a haircut, all the men waiting would stand up, take off their hats, shake hands with the pastor, and it made a heavy impression on me as a little boy. Since then, I have made it a personal goal to always honor the pastor when I go somewhere to preach, to always honor him from the stage, to tell him publicly how much I appreciate him and his family and their sacrifice for the church, and then to tell him personally and privately how much I look up to him. This simple practice has opened up friendships between me and hundreds of pastors over the years. Sometimes, they just need to know that we believe in them and that we’ve got their back when they need us. Let’s restore honor, correctly, to the man of God in the church.

Monday, May 5, 2008

OnThe Fritz

Everything in my home seems to have gone on the fritz this past year. Now, its my computer. I am typing on my daughter's laptop right now. I debated as to whether or not I would take the thing to be repaired. But, it is a home-built job with inauthentic versions of everything Microsoft. And, we got it for free. It lasted us a year and a half, so I figured I should probably get something new. I am off today to look for that.

Our TV has also been slowly dying. So, for Joe's birthday, I said he could get a flatscreen. He was going to revamp our entertainment armoire to make it fit. Well, that didn't work. Now, I am out a very pretty armoire. So, I have to shop for that, too.

I guess the good part in everything needing replacing at once in this house, is that everything will be basically new. That's always fun, and I consider it a real blessing to be able to replace all of these things. I praise God for what we have, and I'm thankful to Him for providing for our needs. There's always somebody who has more than we have, and somebody who has less. I think the key is being continually thankful for what you do have and give from what you have with a cheerful heart. My two cents.