Friday, June 25, 2010

Please keep the families of these children in thoughts and prayers.

Vincent lost his battle with Rhabdomyosarcoma this month. This is the second child that this family has had to bury. You can read about him at the link to Annabella's Garden I have posted under links. This is a foundation established by his parents as they stab back at pediatric illnesses despite the loss of two of their children.

Gatlin lost his battle with Ewing's Sarcoma this month. Before Gatlin died, he organized a fundraiser for pediatric cancer research and raised almost 15,000 dollars and was featured on Fox News in New Mexico as well as in their local paper. Gatlin lived his life as fully as possible until the very end.

Ellie lost her battle with Rhabdomyosarcoma two days ago after a long and very courageous battle. Ellie leaves behind a twin and two of the most faith filled parents I have ever met. Lance Armstrong tweeted about Ellie. You can read about her at

Matthew lost his battle to HLH. Matthew lost his little brother Andrew to HLH a year ago. His parents have buried both their children in the span of a year but despite their grief, they fight for new treatments and therapies for this rare disorder and carry on with undying devotion and faith to God.

I am always struck by the strength and faith of these families. They have experienced the worst that life has to offer yet they still hope. They still dream. They still carry on. They teach and inspire and though I wish with all my heart that I never had to journey on in cancer, I can't help but be thankful that I have been shown and taught about life and death from this community. Too often in life, we get caught up in the "shoulds". Children should be playing and happy and be spoiled. Every child should have two parents. Every family should have 2.5 kids, a suburban mortgage and a faithful golden retriever. No parent should bury a child. No parent should have to deal with cancer when they still have young kids. We all should live to 88 and die in our sleep. Shoulds do not exist. There is no specific way life is supposed to be. "Shoulds" are something that humans create. They rarely reflect was truly is or what is truly important. They don't point to anything important. This past Tuesday, I watched the finale of "Saving Grace". I was not a regular watcher but I was interested in seeing how the series, which focused on a police officer that walked the line between good and evil, ended. God sends her an angel who emphasizes that God has a task he wants her to perform, that only she can do. Grace took three seasons to tell God she would do what He asked. What that task is, is to face evil. She does and she wins but how she wins requires her to perform the ultimate sacrifice for her fellow man. The critics stated that the show forgot to save Grace. There SHOULD have been a happy ending that resulted in the defeat of evil without a sacrifice. But there was a happy ending and Grace was indeed saved. It was a more spiritual definition of saved, not the human definition. With God, there is no life or death. There is only life. Death is a change of state, like a solid ice cube evaporating into a gas. It's still water no matter what form. And though I've met many families who have lost children, parents, sisters and brothers, those gone from this planet are still alive...alive in memory, alive in their writings, musings, grief, joys, and successes. How we face death, speaks volumes about how we face life. We should do it without a preconceived notion about what should be and just deal with what is.. It is a shame that the greatest teachers for such a lesson are the children.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day to all the dad's out there!!

What a difference a week can make. Slowly but surely all these little nickel and dime issues are being worked and resolved. The new stove and washing machine are up and running. The dishwasher is defunct but Cass and Kris work if you feed them. Emily was horrible for about a week but thankfully, her father had FINALLY put her on his plan. It only took him 4 years! She is medicated. COBRA thing is straightened out and it's affordable until December. After that...well, I will cross that bridge when I get to it. Unemployment is straightened out for now though I missed a day of class to tend to it and it turns out the class was not the issue. I am still scratching my head trying to figure out what the issue was exactly but whatever! I certified my benefits and will have to do it again in another week. The last things on the MUST GET DONE LIST, are brakes and oil change and find a job.
I got a call last week to interview for a 3rd shift dispatch position for a logistics company. I was excited about the interview but received a call at the last minute canceling the interview. The company decided they wanted candidates with dispatch experience. All they wanted was customer service experience at first. Then the rules changed. I was disappointed. But the very next day, I received a call from a company that I was HOPING and PRAYING would call me for an interview, AND THEY DID!! If I get the job, that would be wonderful and it would scratch a HUGE to do off my list. I'm trying so hard not to get my hopes up but I am excited about this potential position. I'm trying a little visualization and sending my order out to the universe ala "The Secret" and we shall see what happens. It's a tech support position. MY FAVORITE! COME ON JOB!!!!!
I applied for a job at my old company in their customer service center. I have 3 years experience as a team leader in an inbound call center. As I met all the other criteria, I sent in my application. It took less than 45 minutes for them to send me a bong letter. "While you certainly meet the requirements, we are looking for candidates who more CLOSELY meet the requirements." HUH? "But.." the letter went on, "If we are lacking in qualified applicants, we will give you another look." Yes, I'm scratching my head a bit. I looked at my candidate profile today. It appears they are lacking in more closely meeting the requirement candidates because my application is now "under review."

Chemistry is going well. I am finding that I *gasp, ENJOY the class. I may change my mind after this first test but, the labs are fun. Maybe I just secretly like setting things on fire. I did a good job of accidentally setting on fire a beaker full of wooden sticks. Here's a lesson for all you novices out there. Make sure that after you do your flame tests, you double check to make sure that the fire is completely extinguished on the match before you put it in the waste container. Fortunately, I noticed the flames before we were evacuated. But a day in chem lab without flames is well, an oddity for me. I don't know why my teacher likes me. I've got this little black rain cloud, which may have come in handy on Thursday if it had actually rained, following me around. And, speaking of rain, we had a gully washer blast through here on Friday. Thanks Iowa! The storm came through at 75 mph and brought 90mph wind gusts with it. All 6 cats, 3 kids and I were downstairs. I had kerosene lamps, candles, flashlights and a change of clothing ready JUST IN CASE. When the first wind gust hit the window, my house shook, the lights went out, and the kids shouted an expletive because they didn't have time to save their WII game.. While I was fiddling with the candles, the lights came back on. Thank goodness! (This time I made sure the match was out. Good thinking huh?) The storm blew through in 30 minutes. WE ventured on back upstairs and life returned to normal for a time. Round two was scheduled to hit us around 9pm. As it was Friday, I had a shift at Walmart. When I got there, all the employees in my strip mall were standing outside. The store was pitch black. Power had been out to that side of the road since the first gust which knocked down a pole. I didn't complain. I sat down outside and chatted with my coworkers until the lights came on 90 minutes later. Hoards of people came running into the store when we reopened. I looked at the steady stream of people running in here like we were the last bastion on the planet for paper towels and expected big important things to cross my belt after all, the second storm was less than an hour away and it was just as red on the radar as the first. I looked for granny's heart meds, maybe some diapers for the baby or extension cords and flashlights for those who still didn't have power. I got none of that. My first order that night was little trees and soft soap. LITTLE TREES (car air freshener) AND SOFT SOAP???? That guy trampled over tons of people to buy LITTLE TREES????? This dude risked his life in cruddy weather so his car will smell mountain rain fresh??? God bless America! The subsequent orders were just like that. Hair dye. Doritos. Pepsi. Condoms (which I can ALMOST see), make up, perfume, and those stupid animal shaped rubber bands. When round two hit, the store looked like the NY stock exchange. Of course the power went out for a few minutes. When we got the lights back, the registers were having a very hard time getting back in action. I looked at a sea of angry faces and heard the same question "How long is it going to take?" over and over and over again. I wanted to say "I dunno. Weather fairy is not in my job description" but I simply stated that it took over 20 minutes for the registers to reboot the last time but it was difficult to tell and it was still storming outside with some very nasty lightning and wind. Some took their place in line and waited and I also watched a mass exodus of grumbly people who did not want to wait and then spent the night picking up and sorting abandoned carts. Good times! Good times!

So..there you have it. I have a nice tasting glass of red in my glass, a chemistry book that I really should be looking at and my blog right now. Back to the books!
oh yeah..scans are on Thursday.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Unemployment......the saga.

One week of unemployment and life has been .....irritating. I call these nickel and dime days because nothing has been life threatening just.....irritating.
Last weekend at the Mart was Hell. Friday night, I worked from 6pm-11pm non stop. After returning home at 11:30, I had a very hard time falling asleep and didn't drift off to dreamland until way past 1am. Four hours later, the alarm went off. I dragged my butt out of bed at 5am so I could be at work at 7 and it was of course, really busy all morning. I could not WAIT until lunch. After my hour lunch flew by, I reluctantly walked back to the front. One of my co-workers met me and "suggested" I head back to the break room and take cover. A fire in a transformer knocked out all the power. The store was on backup generator and only 3 registers in the entire store were functional. Hundreds of customers with carts full of everything from flowers to frozen foods were read to hang us in effigy. It was my job to collect all the abandoned carts, sort them and refer all the screaming customers to management so the customers could scream at them and management could tell them that there was nothing they could do about the power outage. Wal-mart is huge and powerful but we do not own our own electrical grid. We were down for almost 4 hours. The doors were locked and no lie, people were pressing their noses to the glass, screaming at management in anger as if we were not one of 5 Wal-Marts in a 10 mile radius but that's OK. Obviously for them, it was cathartic. Sunday was equally as hellish without the power outage. After lifting at least 200 48 packs of bottled water, 20lb bags of dog food and kitty litter, I was pooped when I left the store on Sunday and once home, I hit the couch and didn't move. Monday, it rained. It rained out our BBQ. Fine. Whatever. It was a great workout for the new stove. On Tuesday, I had a 504 meeting planned for Emily at her school at 3pm. I received a call from the U of C that I had an appointment scheduled with the Dr. at 1:30. OOOO! Not good! With the traffic, there was no way I was going to be able to make it to her school by 3. Called early to see if I could have the blood work done another time. "What if we got you out by 1:30" said the nurse. UGH! OK. I made the trek in. I sat in construction and horrible traffic and it took 90 minutes to get downtown. Of course there was a delay in the blood lab. I didn't get out by 1:30. I got stuck in the elevator and the valet took 30 minutes to get my car. At 2:20, I was finally on my way and sitting in traffic....a LOT of traffic. Traffic that translated to 2 hours to get from the downtown to Arlington Heights. I missed my meeting. I was annoyed. We rescheduled it for Wednesday at noon. Emily's kindergarten graduation was at 5. I made it home from the hospital at 4:20 and we had to be at school by 4:30. I raced in. Kristopher was not home. I was annoyed. We left without him. At 4:45, he called from somewhere. "You have until 5 to get to the school" I told him. After the graduation, I raced Emily to tee ball. While there, Cassie called to ask me to bring home hot dog buns. As it was 7:45 now and I had not been home since 11:45, I stopped off at the little Mexican tienda on the corner. They had 2 shelves full of hamburger buns but not a single hot dog bun. I went to dollar general next door. Nada. 7/11 had them for 3.50 but I didn't care about price anymore. I just wanted to go home. Wednesday, I woke up early and sat down at my laptop. It wouldn't boot up. GREAT!!! It was making a grinding noise before it stopped working all together. That makes one stove, one washing machine, one dishwasher and now one laptop on the fritz. Fortunately, the laptop is on warranty. After shuffling through piles and piles and piles of papers, I found the warranty info and of course, there was no 800 number. I called Tiger Direct, now COMP USA and was met by two confused employees. After being "disconnected" twice, I was given 800-comp-usa to contact. Whoever answered the phone was not the nicest and told me they had nothing to do with warranties and try whoever gave me the warranty in the first place which was Bankers with no 800 number. He did find me the 800 number and I called only to find myself in a huge VRU loop. The option that applied kept disconnecting me and when I tried other options, it referred me to option that kept disconnecting me. In absolute irritation, I kept pounding 0 which connected me to a person...finally and the technical equivalent to Nurse Ratchett answered the phone. I told her i believed that my laptop had a bad fan. It's not the first bad fan I had ever had so I recognized the symptoms. "Well, let's do some troubleshooting anyway" she said. "OK," I said, "but it's the fan." She wanted me to remove the battery. Try as I might, I couldn't get the battery out of the back of the laptop. "Maam, you're going to have to call me back. I have people waiting." LIKE HELL I AM!! This person was going to WAIT until I wrestled that DAMN battery out of the back of the laptop and if she so much as thought of disconnecting me after the problems I had getting to her in the first place, she had another thing coming. As she tapped her pencil, she said once more to get a neighbor to help me and call back. With a final pull, that battery finally came out. OK, she said. Power it down, remove the power cord, hold the power button for 40 secs and then plug it back in and boot up. Done, I said. "What does the screen say?" She asked. "Fan error!" HA! ....I'll get my laptop back in 3 weeks. In the meantime, I'm on the slow as molasses backup computer. I was annoyed. Yesterday, in the mail, I received a letter from the State of IL that they are not granting my unemployment benefits until I have a face to face meeting with them regarding my school schedule. The meeting is in 2 weeks. WONDERFUL!!! As it will take 8 weeks for AT&T to give me my severance, what in the world will I have to live on for 2 weeks? Annoyed again. Apparently, full time school schedules are not allowed on Unemployment. As I put down that I am taking one class this summer and one class in the Fall, I think it's pretty clear that I'm not going to school full time. But if they want to waste time with a meeting, so be it. My employers have been paying my unemployment insurance for 20 years and my little Chem class is now an issue. I don't see how a phone call could not have set things straight but this is the government.
Wondering why it smelled like crap and dirty socks in Kris's room, I investigated. I found my answer and EWWWWWW!!! is all I'm going to say about that. I cleaned two rooms from top to bottom. I have done oodles and oodles and oodles of laundry and am one sweaty tired out mess by the end of the night and the house still looks yucky because I have disassembled in order to reassemble if that makes sense.
I hope I find a job soon. This "nothing to do" is exhausting.

As a PPS: I went to the pharmacy yesterday to pick up Emily's meds. Her first day out of Kindergarten was hard for me and for her as her routine was disrupted. She was absolutely horrible all day. When they said it would cost 200 dollars, I was stunned. The pharmacist told me to call the company and find out what happened. I was practically in tears when I walked away. No unemployment, no paycheck, no 200 for prescriptions. AT&T canceled the benefit but had not put the COBRA through. This means that the Dr. appointment I had on Tuesday was not covered either which means another headache. All shall be cleared by Wednesday but will we survive an unmedicated Emily? We'll find out.