Thursday, October 27, 2011

Seniors making the neighborhood better or why I do what I do

http://oakcliff.advocatemag.com/2011/10/a-life-worthwhile/
The link above is a story about some of my friends. These are the people who motivate me to do the job I do every day.  I don't write about my job often but hope you will allow an analogy about it as it has been quite a week at work!

You know sometimes how you decide, just one dip of Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla ice cream sounds so delicious and the perfect sweet treat, but then before you can get the first bite down, you decide if you just sliced up a banana in it, that would make it taste even better, almost like a banana split, right?
But then you remember you have some nuts that you just bought and just a few of those, with the banana, would really make that ice cream delicious?

And once you've gone that far and you now have a faint memory of some ice cream dish you had somewhere that was really good but it had coconut on it too, so you add just enough to make it a vanilla ice cream, banana, coconut, nut dessert instead. And about that time you remember it also had some hot fudge on it, so you stop and look for some chocolate syrup, which you don't have, but decide you can substitute caramel to finally make it the perfect, absolutely without a doubt, best sweet treat ever.

So that's how I do my job.

I think of something that sounds like such a great idea and that is really all we need.
But then I sit there thinking, that while that is really a great idea, if I just added this one more thing to it, it would be so much better.

And before you know it, I have a program that no longer resembles that first idea, but now includes all the extras that can make it the perfect, absolutely without a doubt, best program ever!
And I have to say that people like those in the story above are who motivate me to keep adding those extras to finally reach a point where I think we can do the most good for the older adults in our community.

Well, that is all well and good if you are only preparing one dish at a time, but unfortunately, at any given time we have a number of  "dishes" being prepared at once. One day this week, we had 6 events occurring simultaneously! So, needless to say, it has been a pretty full week.

So because of people like those in the story above, I am driven to do even more and never seem to learn my lesson. Would anyone like dessert?

Monday, October 24, 2011

No room for adoptive parents!

I was shocked when I got the message below from our local Families with Children from China yahoo group. It is so hard to believe we are in the 21st century and the application for Texas colleges and universities would have such outdated wording and no consideration for the many children who are adopted.
 
I have cut and pasted the actual wordage that appears on their website further below. I hope you will also contact this institution and tell them you expect better for our children.
 
https://www. applytexas. org/adappc/ html/preview12/ sch_2.html

Note from original post - "I was looking at the sample common college application for Texas colleges and noticed that it only asks for information about biological or step parents.
Since my daughter has no information on her biological parents, I guess she will leave this blank and thus qualify for financial aid :)

But seriously, for many teen adoptees, questions about their biological parents raise lots of anxiety. Applying for college is stressful enough without insensitive and incorrect wording on the application adding to it.

Please review the application yourself at the above link, and if you think warranted, please email applytexas@austin. utexas.edu<mailto:applytexas@austin. utexas.edu> with a request that they change the application language to make it easier for adoptees to provide information. It shouldn't be hard to ask for information about legal guardian or parent with whom you live vs "biological" parent.

Please pass on to other adoption email lists. November is Adoption Awareness month - let's make Texas colleges aware of adoptive families."
  1. Biological Father's Information
    OR Deceased
  2. OR Not Applicable
  3. $ .00
    OR No Income
    1. Biological Mother's Information
      OR Deceased
    2. OR Not Applicable
    3. $ .00
      OR No Income
    1. Step Parent's Information
      OR Deceased
    2. OR Not Applicable
    3. $ .00
      OR No Income
    1. If you are living with someone other than a biological or step parent, please provide their information below.
      OR Deceased
    2. OR Not Applicable
    3. $ .00
      OR No Income
    It's not about sandwiches! It's about my life!

    Thursday, October 20, 2011

    The changing seasons

    I had two terrible things happen to me last week.

    Every year as the calendar changes from August to September, I think to myself, I can still wear _____ (fill in the blank). This year, as in many other years, I was sure I would continue to wear my sandals, my white skirt, that favorite sleeveless top, even when it got a little cooler. The weather never really gets that cold here that I could not keep wearing these favorite items.

    But then one morning I wake up and cannot even imagine wearing that white skirt, that sleeveless top, or those sandals, because it is too late in the year! It has finally gotten cooler! So many reasons and then I realize the seasons did change and my perception of what is "right" has changed so gradually that until that moment I wasn't even aware of it.

    Age and seasons seem to be a common analogy and while I was sure I was still in the prime of my summer, these two terrible things happened that make me wonder if my seasons changed so gradually, so subtlety that I had not noticed.

    I went into a shop to buy a cute Halloween card to send my nieces. The only cards they had were $6 each!!! I commented to the manager that the price was too high. She, being younger and blonder, did a quick nudge and wink, and said, "Well, you will get the senior discount!"

    WHAT??? Who is she talking to? Did someone come in behind me? I know I don't look like I should get that discount.

    THEN, something even worse happened.

    On Wednesday I realized that I only had a half tank of gas. I immediately started planning when I could get over to the service station to fill up. I worried that I only had half a tank. HALF a TANK! Yikes! When did I start fretting over having "just" half a tank? I used to think that going to fill up before the warning light came on was a waste of time and energy! Much less it made for way too many trips for gas! Yuck, who wants to go more often then they HAD to?

    Then an unexpected errand made that gas gauge register even lower! But by the time we were headed home from the errand it had gotten dark and I hated to stop.

    No problem, it was not my week to do the car pool. I only had to drop the girls off at our meeting point and onto work, a total of about 2 miles, so I was surely safe, BUT I should probably drop them off and then head straight to fill up. I had LESS than HALF a tank, I should hurry and get it filled up. I might have to be a little late to work, but I HAD to get it full.

    That's when it hit me. Who am I???

    I know my Dad fills up the second his car drops to three quarters of a tank! BUT not ME! I would be willing to put $1 in and see just how far I could go and then HOPE that I made it in time to buy more. Now I was worried with a half a tank!

    Oh my! Have I slipped into that next season?

    Wednesday, October 12, 2011

    Do you suffer from these problems?

    I drive my co-workers and others crazy by being able to accurately diagnose their problems.

    Tonight, I have self diagnosed a condition that has become a chronic condition in the last few years, Ican'tstandtoseedirtydishesinthesinkitis.

    I've decided it is a condition you only acquire at a certain point in your life as the younger members of my family instead have the condition known as Imightbeabletostuffonemoredishintothesinkitis.

    I have to say I have really good daughters, really good and each one has their chores they are to do each week for their allowance, which is not as consistent as it should be but the chores are still expected to be done.

    Their chores include the laundry, one washes, the other folds and puts away; the trash, one takes out the recycling, the other takes out the regular trash; and the dishes, one unloads the dishwasher and the other loads. Some weeks when homework is taking its toll I jump in and help, but for the most part, I expect them to learn to budget their time to ensure everything gets done.

    The only problem is that I want it done when I want it done, not necessarily when they get around to it and as a result I have developed this condition where I hate to see a dirty dish in the sink! When I start to cook, I want everything clean, as I have a really small work surface and need all the room I can get. This is a fairly recent development for me because I truly was like my kids and had the old, I can still fit one more dish into the sink syndrome before. If the Queen of England had dropped by, there would have been dishes in my sink, no doubt about it. Now, it would make me crazy! I can't hardly stand to go to bed until that sink is clean. (That sentence sounds very Texan or just country!)

    I'm not sure if men suffer from this but I know growing up that Dad had a condition known as iseverylightoninthishouseexcepttheoneinmycloset? I think that one is reserved for men though because I don't mind having every single light on including the one in my closet and don't mind paying the bill even, I like it well lit!

    I have had this other problem for a long time, whatisthathorriblesmell? itis. I've been blessed (?) with an ultra sensitive nose but what I don't understand is how my girls, who get home an hour or so before me, can be in the house and not notice that the trash MUST go! You can almost hear them saying, "HUH? Smell? I don't smell anything!"

    I'm not sure if there is a cure for any of these problems, but hoping that Congress might consider sending some serious funding for research and I will be glad to help out by hiring someone to do it exactly when I want it done!

    Tuesday, October 11, 2011

    Cutting through the thick of it!

    Recently we had a cooking demonstration for a program we had at work. She spent a bit of time discussing the need to have really good quality knives and that a good knife should cost about the same as a little black dress. Well the last time I bought a little black dress, my budget was all about me, not split three ways.

    I thought I had some fairly good knives and it had not been a problem until she put that idea in my mind.

    Then last week, I tried to slice the pot roast I had prepared and instead it ended up looking like "pulled" beef.

    AARRGGHH! I wanted to take every knife I had and throw them away!

    Instead I posted a question about favored brands of knives on a mom's group I am a member of and boy it stirred up a lot of interest and I started getting responses almost immediately. People feel very strongly about the knives they use.

    Yesterday I made a quick trip to the Crate and Barrel Outlet. They had a great deal on a good set and I felt I must have it if I was ever going to possibly continue to cook.

    I had not taken the time to even open the package but I was running a little late getting started on dinner tonight so I opened it up quickly and decided to give the chef's knife a quick wash. Rather than use a dish cloth I just ran my finger down the blade and promptly cut the fire out of my thumb. Of course you already saw that coming.

    I must say a good knife does make all the difference, it is much faster and more efficient, or at least I think it is. Holding the tourniquet on my thumb made it a little difficult to maneuver but it did make for a good clean cut!

    Drive Time

    To the man who was in front of me, beside me, and finally behind me in traffic today:

    I know what you were thinking. You thought I should have left earlier if I was in that big a rush that I was switching lanes that much.

    I promise, I did leave on time but somehow traffic was against me and less than a mile from work and 15 minutes had already passed.

    When I realized that I only had 15 minutes to drive the majority of my trip I did speed up. I was just sure I could finally get around the clump of traffic that you too were stuck in, but you kept going the same speed as I bobbed and weaved and cut in and out but somehow we always ended up either side by side or you were still ahead.

    I could sense your disapproval. I did not need to see your face because I felt it.

    But you see, I was in a hurry.

    I needed to pick up my daughters and I have to admit, I hate to make them wait. No, they aren't impatient, but I always worry about them thinking no one is coming to get them. Their early years were rough and too many times there wasn't someone there to pick them up, so I admit, I hurried to get there so they wouldn't have any doubts that I would be there to pick them up.

    BUT you will be glad to know, I felt your disapproval and I knew I was wrong. While it is very important for my daughters to know I am coming, it is more important for me to get there. I slowed down. I made it safely. Thank you for your concern.

    Monday, October 10, 2011

    Thanks Mom!

    "That is so pretty!"

    That was my mom's response as I held up a stick with just a few autumn leaves still attached after I had stripped it of its pretty flowers

    But you see, that is my mom. She can find the good in EVERYTHING and EVERYONE!

    I obviously did not take after her.

    I kept waking up worried about how I was going to tackle the project, formerly known as our house. While I can organize a meal being served for 300 in 15 minutes, I cannot seem to organize this house. It is always out of control so when Mom dropped in today, I immediately unloaded on her about how overwhelmed I was by trying to clean our house. Even though she probably did not feel like it, she went home, got her favorite dust mop and cleaners and came back and began to tackle the living room. With her involved, she made sure the girls were also and within an hour the mountain became a mole hill.

    I know how fortunate I am as not everyone has a mom who believes in them like mine does. She even let me cut her hair when I probably should not have been allowed to even use scissors! Even at this age, I can show mom a spot so tiny that it would take a magnifying glass to see and she will respond appropriately with the right amount of sympathy. And on the opposite end, she can be sitting there looking at me and then ask if my eye might be swollen.

    Thanks Mom!

    Tuesday, October 4, 2011

    U.S. History

    I have no idea how Annabel has been able to do all she has in learning English and the monster sized homework assignments she completes and much less how she continues to make good grades and only every now and then, she needs some help.

    Her recent U.S. History assignment required an understanding of the U.S. History that I think we develop after hearing it, reading it, and learning it for years, not just the sampling she has gotten in the last 3 years!

    The assignment was interesting and I learned quite a bit too, but they were to pick one of the original 13 colonies, find the basis of the colony's creation, the culture of the colony, and prepare a 5 minute speech pretending to be a colonist recruiting people in England to leave their homes and join them in the new world.

    The research was fine and even the poster was fine, but trying to develop the speech was really difficult. She went from being the comedian, to the ad libber, to despair, and about the time I thought we had reached the breaking point, she got it down to a pretty succinct presentation with all the details and emphasizing the important points of her research.

    As I dropped them off for school I was still saying a little prayer that she could remember all the details, not get distracted, and hopefully show her teacher some of the hard work she had done.

    In the middle of the day I got a recorded message from the school that while there had been a power outage at the school, things were ok and the power was back on. Hmmm, wasn't sure what that meant, but when I picked them up, Annabel jumped in the car full of news!

    The power had gone out almost as soon as school started and U.S. History was up first, so class was held in the dark, basically.

    Annabel volunteered to go first, BRILLIANT!, and the teacher acknowledged the challenge of presenting in the dark and she got a 93!

    I love it when even the bad things can work together for good!

    Saturday, October 1, 2011

    A hard week

    This has been a hard week and I am treasuring some quiet time on Saturday morning, enjoying a cup of coffee in an actual cup, not my thermal to go mug, and watching cooking shows, while Annabel tackles homework, and Grace catches up on her beauty sleep.

    For a living, I try to come up with things to keep the older adults in the community active and healthy. Sometimes my ideas get way bigger or way more than what should be tried, but I feel so committed to try to improve the quality of their lives, that I push on.

    At the end of the a week like this, I think I must be crazy!

    Of course a common theme of any "get healthy" program is eat better and exercise more, but I know at some point that holds less and less appeal. Actually, at this point in my life, the exercise more is not thrilling either.

    Anyway, this week we had three days of "trial" exercise programs as well as health screenings, but what made this week the hardest, was saying good bye to a dear friend, who also happened to be a volunteer.