Monday, January 30, 2012

Happy Birthday to My Son

There once was a son who was loved by everyone
Jon at three months

He was gifted
Jon displaying his Magna Opera from age seven
An art work rendering his study of
birds and their habitats
Creating Julie's Memorial Garden
Building a patio for Julie's Garden

And Smart
Proud Mom with Jon
Graduation from University of Colorado
Colorado Springs
On Campus of Boston College
Jon & Atticus
Boston College
Just before he began his Masters Degree
With such a big heart
Jon in Bangladesh
Spending one day working as a driver
And, I'm so glad he's mine.
Jon & Sally
February 1978

The words I used with the photos above were written on the birthday card I selected to send my son for his birthday this year.  Though the words are not original, believe me, the son is.  Jonathan Aaron, my fifth born child entered the world on January 31, 1978.  My world has never been the same since!

I once wrote to him:
No one has ever been able to put a label on you, 
but there are many words to describe you:
The Pied Piper
Wonderful Father,
Faithful, Loving, Sacrificial Husband
Good Son,
Much Loved Brother,
Adored Uncle,
Good and Loyal Friend,
Non-traditional and Very Traditional All In One
Good at Conversation,
A Thinker,
A Writer,
A Reader,
Passionate About Your Beliefs,
Always Interesting.
Much Loved Brother
Jon, Julie & Atticus

Adored Uncle
Jon & Atticus
Northeastern University
Boston, MA
Wonderful Father
with Atticus

Hard Worker
Picking Apples
Passionate About His Beliefs
My son, the activist
Hiking in Colorado
With His Bonsai Plants
Braintree, MA 2011
Faithful, Loving, Sacrificial Husband
Jon Married The Love of His Life
Samantha, Atticus, and Jonathan
Summer 2011
Mom's House in Colorado
I love you, Son.

Happy Birthday

Friday, January 27, 2012

Humpty Dumpty Is Slowly Being Put Back Together

Free falling...
I'm free falling.
Bouncing down the steps, 
I found myself
Searching for something to grab.
Gravity took over.
I hit the floor with a thud.
I had a strange thought.
"This floor is very unforgiving."
My head bounced against a very hard surface.
I felt my teeth rattle.
I immediately yelled to my husband,
"I have fallen, and I am very badly hurt."
Mostly I did that 
I wanted to make sure I could still

Now, twenty-five days later, yes, it has been twenty-five days, I finally believe I will get better.

I have had two CT scans of my head and neck.  These show no permanent damage.  I have been in the emergency room four times.  During the time that I was recovering, I also suffered from a nasty sinus infection.  Were the headaches from sinus problems, from the fall, or from my neck?  Then, I had a terrible bout with the worst stomach flu I have had in years.  

I have seen and ENT doctor, and believe it or not, and ophthalmologist.  Both of the doctors have been extremely helpful.  I saw the ophthalmologist on the recommendation of my chiropractor.  Many head injuries cause visual problems created by a visual midline shift.  I presented as if this had occurred in me, but when I had the full exam, which was extensive, we found that I am not suffering from a visual midline shift.  If I had been, this condition is treated with prisms in the lens of eye glasses.  

As I said, this ophthalmologist was very through.  He gave many tests.  I failed the test that indicates a  vestibular disorder.  Since I have been struggling with dizziness since this past summer, this makes perfect sense.  The fall probably exacerbated a problem that was already there.  Thankfully, there is a specialist that deals with these problems in Castle Rock, Colorado.  I will be checking into an evaluation and possible treatment by her.

Next week, I will also be meeting with a doctor who treated me a number of years back after I suffered a brain injury due to a chemical exposure at work.  (That is a long story, that I will tell another day.)  He will be doing an evaluation to see what has been going on with me since my fall.  

At that time of my previous injury, I was treated with neurofeedback.  Basically, neurofeedback modifies brain wave activity.  When I first learned about this type of therapy, I was skeptical at best; however, because I was nearly unable to work because of my symptoms after the chemical exposure, I decided to give it a try.  I had excellent results, and after about six months of treatment, I was so much better.  I do not know if he will determine I need additional treatments or not.

In the meantime, each day brings new healing.  I no longer have excruciating headaches.  I am able to read more.  I am able to spend more time on the computer.  I am able to type and make my fingers do what my brain wants them to do.  I am less anxious and not as easily frustrated.  I tire less easily and can accomplish a few things around the house.  I find I am coping with life and those around me better.  I am walking again.   I am not driving yet.  I hope to drive again soon.  

I hope my blogging friends know how much you have meant to me.  I have not responded to your kind comments because I have not been able to do so.  Know that you have encouraged me and made me feel very cared for.  Thank you for the personal notes and emails.  

Blogging friends are the Best!  I hope to be back to my old blogging self soon.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Happy Birthday to My Daughter, Keicha

Today is my oldest daughter's birthday.
I wrote this on a private family blog a few years back.
I am republishing it here.


I have been thinking of the day you were born and some other events surrounding your first years all day. The day you were born was a Sunday, so you are a "Sunday's child, full of grace." 
Keicha about six months old

I was reading about Abraham Lincoln the summer that I learned I was expecting my second child. I bought a red dress that I loved just before I learned I was expecting. It was a cotton dress with a red and white design. It had a Nehru type collar and was quite short - a mini-skirt of sorts. I had it on July 20, 1969, when your dad, Ryan, and I went to Grandma and Grandpa Christiansen's to watch the landing on the moon. I remember thinking that my great grandfather had been in the Civil War, and that now I was expecting my second child and watching someone walk on the moon. It was all surreal.

The day before you were born, I went to town while your dad was "at army" to get some diapers, a few other things, and a nightgown that buttoned down the front, just in case I actually went into labor the next week. I believe you were due on January 26th. Since Ryan had been born overdue, I did not think you would arrive on your due date. The night gown I bought was a short hot pink silky type number. The collar, cuffs and buttons were made of a darker hue of hot pink satin. It was really more of a robe, but I needed something I could unbutton so I could nurse my expected child. The nightgown became one of your favorite things and long after it was worn out, you would carry it around with you. Was it the silky feel of the fabric or the hot pink color that you liked? I remember you also loved to wear the gown. It was quite pretty! Perhaps that is when you first began to to be attracted to retro clothing.
One year

Anyway, back to the story - on that Saturday evening before you were born when your dad got home from army, your dad, Ryan and I began to drive through heavy fog out to a new home that Clayton and Debbie had rented. Was it in Harrisville or Plain City? I don't remember. We had been invited over to have chili with the family. It was a cold, foggy, miserable night. We had a hard time finding our way, and then on top of that, we got a flat tire. Your dad got out to change the tire and the car fell on him and hit his head. We arrived at Clayton's with your dad holding a bloody handkerchief to his head. It was determined at some point, that he need to go to the hospital to get a few stitches. When we got there, he was somewhat ignored because the ER people all thought I was there to have a baby.

The next day, your dad went off to "army" while I settled in to type a paper for him that was due the next day. In those days, I really don't remember what we used for a typewriter, but I would think it was my portable that I had taken to college. What ever it was that we used, was a pain in the butt, but it was what we had. Your dad would write out his papers by hand, and I, his chief editor, would literally cut and paste paragraphs to a piece of paper so that it was in the order I thought it should be. He would add his additional thoughts and corrections and by the time a paper was ready to be published, it was pretty hard to read and follow.

Dressed in my old one-piece "lounging suit" of green fabric that was literally bursting out the seams in the stomach area, I sat down and began to type. When your dad came home at lunchtime, I told him that I really didn't think he should go back. About 1:00, I began to have some pretty good contractions. Feeling the pressure of the paper that was due, I pretty much was really in denial of the imminent delivery and thought that resting would help my symptoms go away. I went back to the typewriter after a while. I then went back to bed. Finally, at about 2:00 I told your dad that I thought we should call Dr. Farr. My pains really were a minute or two apart. Really. I was not exaggerating.

Finally, I think it was about 2:30, reality and nudge from the doctor set in, and we began to make plans to get me to hospital. Did Irene Smith, our upstairs neighbor and landlady, come down and get Ryan until Grandma Chris could get him? I don't remember now. I just wanted your dad to get me to the hospital. We got there at 3:00 p.m. and at 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, January 25, 1970, you were born. I was thrilled beyond measure to have daughter I always wanted.

Your father's paper was not finished for a while. He finished it as some point while I was in the hospital. He also was caring for Ryan and the landlords were painting the apartment, so it must have been a fun time for him.

Perhaps the traits that would always typlify you were evident at your birth: 1) you were a day early; 2) you were a very easy delivery - three hard pushes and you were here; 3) impatient to wait on others, you were delivered by Dr. Monson because Dr. Farr, hurrying to the hospital from Salt Lake, got there about half an hour or so after your arrival.

At 6 lbs. and 1 oz. (I think), and 18 inches long, you were my smallest baby. I would feel as if I was rolling up your nightgown forever looking for your tiny legs when I would change your diaper. You needed doll clothes because newborn clothes were way too big for you. I had to make all kinds of folds in the cloth diapers that you wore to get them to fit. You wore size 2T dresses as tops until you started school I think. You have always been petite.

In a letter written to my folks on February 25, 1970, I said some of the following:

"Kiecha is a month old - she went in for 1st check-up today and weighs 8 lbs and 6 oz and is 21 in. long." She really is getting cute tho with her fat little face even her skinny legs are getting some meat on them."

Later in the same letter, but dated Mar 2, I wrote, " Well Ryan and Keicha are in bed so maybe I can finish this. Note the spelling in Keicha's name. Yesterday Barry blessed Keicha and put the spelling down this way on Church records. He said he decided it was better that way. I made her a cute little dress for the occasion. It's sorta like the one I had on my baby doll - long with a yoke + round neck + puff sleves. I put cotton lace around the neck, the bottom of the yoke + the skirt." I did make the dress to look like the one my doll wore, and I didn't use a pattern. It really wasn't success, not what I wanted at all, and by the time I finished it the night before you were blessed, it was too tight and I could hard get you in it.

Ryan adored you. He would try to get your attention all the time. He loved to make you laugh. Right after you were born, I found his beloved blue truck in your crib next to your head. He said he just wanted you to have it in case you woke up.

As I recall, your first recognition that rebus (well maybe not rebus but representation of print on a page) had meaning was when you were still crawling and you found a mimeographed copy of music somewhere in the house and began to sing. I thought you were a genius because you understood that print had meaning.
Keicha in her favoriete dress
She had to have the ribbon tied in front so she could see it.

You were such a beautiful little girl - all girl - right from the get go. The only time you disappointed me when I got you all dressed up was when you chewed and slobbered on your green underskirt of the beautiful dress I had dressed you in for church while I was getting ready to go. It was all wet, crumpled and ruined, and I had to change your clothes before we left. Since the dress was to be hand washed with no wringing, it was forever ruined by your chewing on it with your slobbery gums!

Keicha & Sally
Keicha & Sally 2010

You and me and your siblings
Julie, Keicha, Mom, Jonathan, Amy, Ryan

There is so much more that I could say...For today, I just wanted to put down some very early memories of you, my precious daughter.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

January - Trying to Get Through It

January of 2012 seemed so promising on its second day.  I had high hopes for the day, for the month, for the year.  And, then, in just an instant, everything changed.  I fell down the basement stairs.  I didn't fall far, but I fell hard.  Since that time, I have been mostly absent from life as I knew it.

I have not driven.
I have not read.
I have not written.
I have stayed away from the computer because I cannot tolerate the light from it, 
nor can I tolerate the text I see written on it.  
I do not watch television.
I cannot watch movies.
I cannot tolerate crowds of people.
I cannot tolerate noise.
I prefer darkness over light.

I have focused on getting through each day.
I have focused on believing that I would see light coming through the dark clouds that seemed to always be overhead.
I have tried to hang on to hope:
hope that I would get better,
hope that the pain and dizziness would go away,
hope that I would be myself again.

Today, I had the best day that I have had in 17 days.  I am finally feeling better.  I am finally believing that I will be better.  We have an action plan as far as how to deal with this injury, and I am sure that in time, I will be better.

My husband has been my constant encourager.  He has allowed me to sit quietly in the dark for hours on end so I could give my brain time to heal.  He has downloaded stories for me to listen to on my iPhone.  He has driven me to get my hair cut so I would feel better about the way I looked.  He has driven me to doctors.  He has been patient.  He has, as always been my champion.  I don't know what I would do without him.

Yesterday, my dear friend from college days told me that her mother always said, "If you can make it through January, you can make it through anything."  True.  January can be so bleak at times.  It can be a harsh month to get through.  I am working on that right now.  I am working on getting through January.

I have missed my blogging friends, but I am not quite ready to read blogs again.  I will check in as I am able.

Writing this post is an accomplishment.  I hope to be back going full steam soon.  I hope you all are well.  I miss you.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Looking Back - A Repost from 2008

I am taking a blogging break.  While I heal from a fall, I won't be writing.  I am sharing a repost that first posted in 2008.  It is interesting to me to look back to see what I was doing a few years back.


This year has been a very interesting year. I have done some things I have never done before, and I have had to adjust to a new stage in my life. I began 2008 by taking on a new job in Colorado Springs. This meant that I had to "go to work everyday" which my friend Don Weinhouse reminded me would happen if I took the job!

It was an adjustment to get up at 5:15 a.m. just so I could be on the road by 6:45. I had to be at Bricker Elementary at 7:30 a.m. This was a change. I no longer could roll into my office at the University around 9ish two or three days a week. (Speaking of my office at the University: My new classroom in the elementary school where I would teach ESL was smaller than my office had been at CSU-P.) This picture was taken on the last day of school in my classroom.

Despite the early morning drive, teaching elementary ESL was a great experience. I felt like I had truly gone full circle in my career by taking on this new venture. I began teaching over 40 years ago as an intern for Head Start the summer before my junior year in college. My real teaching career did not begin until 1995. From that time until 2008, I taught secondary students, 9 - 12, English or ESL.

In 2004, I left the classroom to go to CSU-Pueblo to develop the endorsement program in linguistically diverse education.  I loved writing curriculum, developing a new program, and working at the higher ed level.

It was a huge change for me to go from teaching teachers and future teachers to teaching second through fifth graders. I felt like I was out of my comfort zone, but I loved the entire experience. I had never really taught at the elementary level.

I loved the kids, the other teachers, and the principal and assistant principal. There were plenty of challenges, but it was good to be in the real world of teaching again. I loved the elementary setting also, but I also learned that I am a secondary teacher at heart.  I knew, as much as I loved those elementary age kids, I was most comfortable with high school kids.  I don't do the turtle in the classroom thing very well if you get my drift.  Teaching freshmen and seniors is where I feel most comfortable.

At the end of 2008,  I had to make the decision not to go back again when the school year ended. I would have had to give up my retirement, and I knew that I was not physically up to making the drive another year. I was sick nearly all winter from all of those new germs that float around an elementary school. It was like my first year of teaching all over again.

My SCWP Group
As soon as the school year was over, I was able to participate in the Southern Colorado Writing Project at CSU-Pueblo. For over eight years, I have wanted to take part in this project, but family needs and professional duties at CSU-P did not allow me to do so. Finally, as a retired teacher, I became a member of this wonderful project. I found that the National Writing Project, of which SCWP is a part, to be the most wonderful professional organization that I have ever experienced.

The month of June when I was taking part in the project was brutal. I was working from very early in the morning until 11:00 at night on my reading and writing assignments, but I loved it! The professional learning community of which I became a member is one that I will alway treasure. We had time and opportunities to come together as teachers and talk about our profession while learning how to become better at what we do.

Dinner with My Teaching Friends from Russia
Two of my favorite people, Lynette Lievers, a teaching friend from my days at Centennial, and Dr. Katherine Frank were our mentors. I made new friends, developed new professional contacts, and even developed an international relationship with two professors from Russia.

Wow! Now that I think about it, I wonder what I did with my life before SCWP. One night, my Russian friends, Irina and Tamara and I took some time off and went to dinner with Jim. I became quite close to both of these amazing women and really miss them!

I am continuing to stay involved with SCWP and will presenting at a conference at the end of January that Dr. Frank (Katherine) has put together. I am wondering what I got into because the featured speaker is Tom Romano. Educators know he is a very BIG name. I am really quite nervous about the whole thing. 

In July I went to the Boston area to spend two weeks with son Jonathan and grandson Atticus. We had such a great time together. It isn't often that a mom gets to spend such quality time with an adult son. We did many of the tourist things that one does in the Boston area, but we also just got to hang out together and talk. This was a highlight of my year. Jon is such an awesome dad. He and Atticus have such a special relationship. I know the summer was hard on Jon as Samantha was in Bangladesh on a grant with the State Department again for the second summer in a row. I hope my time with him helped the time apart from Sam go a bit faster.

Another highlight of the year was a trip to Alaska with my husband Jim. I had always wanted to go to Alaska and was glad I finally made it. Since we went on a cruise, that also was an entirely new experience. I think in a way, we were both surprised we actually made the trip. We had a great time and I will forever treasure the memories that we made.

It seemed that this year was the year for some wonderful vacations. In October, I made a trip to San Diego. Daughter Keicha and granddaughter Gillian flew in from Utah just about an hour after I did. We spent the next three and a half days doing San Diego! As a double treat, I was also able to spend much of that time with my sister Suzanne and even spent one day with my niece Sarah. I truly don't know when I have enjoyed a trip more than this one - except of course for the two trips just before it! The weather was unbelievably warm. We felt like we were in paradise. What a blessing to be able to spend this type of time with my children and grandchildren.

Throughout the year, I have done some professional development for schools in the area and hope to do more this coming year. This keeps me busy and involved. I also taught the Secondary English Methods class in teacher education at CSU-P this past semester. I had a great group of students and enjoyed the class.

Finally, to finished out the year in a perfect way, Jim and I drove to Utah for Christmas. The roads across Wyoming were horrendous. I did most of the driving since Jim really doesn't feel comfortable driving in the snow. The wind blew snow across the roads between Laramie and Rock Springs and as the day progressed, the conditions became worse and worse. Thankfully, I had suggested that we make a reservation at Little American right after we left Laramie. (Thank goodness for cell phones!) We slid into Little American about 8:00 p.m. and were ever so grateful for that oasis in the middle of nowhere!

The time spent in Utah was picture perfect. Of course, snow that keeps piling up on Christmas Day always set the mood. I love being with my children for Christmas! I wish they all could have been there, but at least we were with the oldest two and four of my grandchildren.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Off To A Bumpy Start

Yes, 2012 got off to a bit of a bumpy start.  Let's just say, I'd like a "do over."  Have you ever wanted to do something over?  I have.  I wanted a "do over" when I fell and broke my elbow.  I especially wanted a "do over" yesterday when I fell down the basement stairs.  Yes, that is how I started 2012.  I fell down the stairs and hit my head on the cement basement floor below.

My goal for yesterday was to get the tree down.  That involves bringing up boxes from the basement and then taking them down again.  In the process of getting laundry started and getting the ornament boxes, I started up the stairs, remembered something I had forgotten, and turned to go back down.  My foot, clad only in socks,  slid off the stair as I turned and headed back down.  From there, it was a rocky ride to the bottom.  It the floor back of the head first on cement floor which was thankfully covered with a piece of old carpet.

My brother-in-law said I needed to wearing some Capezios  if I were going to be doing pirouettes on the stairs.  I think I'll just not do any more pirouettes on the stairs.  My daughter-in-law suggested I wear a helmet around the house.  Perhaps, I will just start by wearing shoes.  I then hope to put up railings on both sides of the stairwell.

Needless to say, the Christmas tree is still up and may be for quite some time to come.  I spent the day in the emergency room.

Thankfully, I only suffered a mild to moderate concussion.  It could have been so much worse.  I also gave myself quite a whip lash.  Of course, I also have hurt my lower back and hip area.  Over all, I certainly could have done much more damage to myself.

I am to limit my reading and listening to music for the next few days.  I am to limit my computer time.  I need to not be giving my brain a lot of stimuli for a couple of days.  According to the doctor, I could be recovering for at least a month.

This is not how I had planned on starting a new year.  Ringing in the new year by bouncing my head on the floor was not in the plan.  One blogging friend suggested I invest in a big bubble for my husband and me.  She may be on to something.

I am taking this forced rest seriously.  I am trying to learn to be kind to myself, to be gentle.  I must take the time to heal.  I am taking a blogging break for a few weeks.  I won't be reading blogs or writing on mine during that time.  I will read and post comments as I am able.  I will miss you all, but I think that I really must take this time to fully recover.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Thoughts on Moving Into A New Year

A word to carry with me as I move forward into 2012

hitherto |ˈhiðərˌtoō; ˌhiðərˈtoō|adverbuntil now or until the point in time under discussion
I love that this word is an adverb.  It tells how I will move from 2011 into 2012.  Hitherto implies looking back as one moves forward.  It serves as a reminder of the past as one goes into the future.  I'm not sure we can move forward if we are not able to carry with us lessons from the past.
In someways, it seems that my husband I have ended the past year at a somewhat tenuous point.He has not fully recovered from his recent heart procedure.We are having to implement new lifestyle changes.Each day presents its own new challenges.
Hitherto,we have met other challenges.We have faced these challenges together.
The journey is not done.Many miles have been covered in the past year.Mile markers have been reached,but the journey is not done.Thankfully, there are more miles of track to follow.

I am reminded of all the people who have been there to encourage me on my journey throughout my life.
I am reminded of all the great blessings that I have received throughout my life.
Today, I am especially reminded of that great passage of scripture in I Samuel 7:12when Samuel erected a stone and called it Ebenezer, meaning Stone of Help,and said, Hitherto the Lord has helped us.
And so, it has always been that way for me.Hitherto,thus far,the Lord has helped.
I have no doubt that He will continue to do soas I move forwardwith renewed hopeinto 2012.
Inspiration for this post came from the December 31 devotion from the classic devotional Streams in the Desert by Mrs. Charles E. Cowman.