Friday, March 30, 2012

# 238 - Happy Faces

Heart be still...few words are needed to express the love we feel for our pets. I am happy to share the love and fun we have with our dogs.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

# 237 - Assembling our Country Cabin Contractors!

A garden center near our home has built on-site a beautiful office that is very similar in design to what I am wanting to build for a country home. While on their property, I stand in their office and my heart goes pitter-patter a bit faster each time I see it.

I would love to have something similar to this house. Of course, the front porch would have to be wider and there would have to be a backporch overhang as well, but I truly love this house. The designer put in so many details that make this a special, well-built house. All the little things add up and the dedication to craftsmanship is impeccable.

I hope that we have beautiful, lush landscaping around our cabin in the woods, but we will have to stick with shade loving plants because the cabin will be tucked into the forest.

The double front door is something simple, but it's an element I want to incorporate into the design of our own home. Double doors can indeed come in handy, especially on moving day.

I already know that the front porch will have posts that will be substantial. You can't get these from an ordinary hardware/wood supply store, you must go have them specially cut, raw cut to your specifications.

For the bulk of the exterior, I might consider nicely painted hardiplank siding, but the wood on the front porch must retain the appearance of its natural grain and character, we mght stain those pieces. A metal roof topping off our house would be a delight. Previously, I'd not wanted divided light windows, but these days, the division of window panes is an illusion because the division occurs in between the glass panes, so these windows are easy to clean. I still favor picture windows, but a picture window must be in the proper place to look right. I do like the symmetry of this little house. My front doors will likely be something different, but this overall look is what I'm shooting for, on a budget.

The accent window is a nice touch. I love surprise elements to a home that make it pop.

This front porch is warm and cozy, but not large enough. We must have a porch that is sizable enough to accommodate a porch swing angled sideways and to hold a few tables and chairs for fun gatherings. The house must be designed with both front and back covered porches. I don't particularly care for the bright green trim, but I don't pay much attention to cosmetic aspects that I can easily change.

This house will have to be built larger to expand it to hold three bedrooms. But, the basics for the house are in place. This home is built on pier and beam with decorative concrete forms used - you can see the swirls and it is a nice touch. I guess the drainage here is helpful. That will be a concern for us, to make sure everything is graded properly when building our home and workshop so that it will not give us problems with drainage.

Getting a shot of the electrical and mechanical hot spot is important as well.

And this garden center definitely has an architect and designer close to my own heart. As for this entrance, I will be glad to have something similar to it on our land as well. Of course, we'll personalize it, but this design gives me a good head-start.

The workshop across the drive is also nice and has elements to tie in with the house, such as the windows and doors as well as matching colors.

The great news looks as if we've found an awesome concrete team for our area. They do much of the work for the city and for many people around town who are full of gratitude for their incredible knowledge and skill. I've spoken with people who had their concrete foundations poured by this team nearly 20 years ago and it has been better than any other they've seen. They'll be able to do both our workshop with the concrete foundation along with the pier and beam foundation for our house.

Additional good news is that we've also found a master electrician who is nice young man, former military and very fair. He knows his business and will be working with us on the side to get our electrical needs squared away.

Looks like things are falling into place. We should be making a trip to our acreage pretty soon, another camping expedition. Maybe, one day, even after we have built a house on our land, Deputy Dave and I might still pop a tent on the other side of our land and have a little bit of old-fashioned fun. Until then, we'll enjoy the hardships because the best parts and the richest memories can usually be found in the midst of hardship.

In a blink of an eye, I'll be sitting on the front porch of our house. Living in the woods will be a dream come true. I believe life is about to become more fun and more full than it's ever been. We have tastes and bits and pieces of country's always been beautiful and welcoming to both of us, but getting to live it full-time will be astronomical. Living in a place you've dreamed of living in brings a feeling of delight and EXCITEMENT --- no matter your age!

Is it Christmas? I feel like a kid just thinking about moving to the country! A great big wood package is waiting to be enjoyed every day for the rest of my life. I'm ready to get started!

Buyers for our city house can show up this weekend. We're ready to sign the paperwork and put our city house under contract to sell. It's time.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

# 236 - Snake in the House!

We had an interesting happening this past week. Deputy Dave and I were sitting on the loveseat in our living room with the dogs laying all over us; it was a nice moment of trying to give the dogs some needed attention. All week long I'd been so busy that we'd not even had time to play a game of ball with the dogs, and Howdy can play ball for two straight hours; it's serious business around here. Even so, the dogs were so good all week, as if they sensed a problem and tried to be on their best behavior, so we were giving them lots of cuddle time while watching the big screen tv.

Stefie comes shuffling into the room with her stiff posture from her back being hurt. As she walked toward us in the living room, she looked down at the floor and said, "A WORM!"

In the span of the next few seconds, we were puzzled. Yes, we have chickens and I'd been feeding the chickens a treat of worms purchased from the fishing section of Walmart. The night before, Stefie had stood by as I poked holes in the top of the worm container. The worm container was sitting just a few feet away from us, on the kitchen serving bar. As her eyes widened at the sight of this worm in our house, I imagined that I had poked a hole too big in the container, allowing a worm to escape.

Even with a stiff back, Stefie's country-girl side took over and with an erect back and awkward posture, she knelt down to pick up the worm. She hadn't even given the urge to pick up that worm a second thought, she was doing what came naturally to her. Get the worm.

Suddenly, as her fingers were about two inches from picking up the worm, she looked up at us with a shocked, yet guarded expression. Then, she calmly said, "Oh, this is not a worm, this is a snake."

I know she was very concerned because her dad is NOT a fan of snakes, not at all. The coffee table was blocking our view of the snake, the table lay between us sitting on the loveseat and Stefie kneeling over the snake.

Immediately, we jumped into action and Stefie let out a little squeal as the snake began to quickly slither on the tile floor toward the chest against the wall that holds our television components. All of our voices and body language went up a few notches.

Get the snake.

Howdy, our Aussie, had obviously taken note of our tone of voice, our alarm and our body language. In two seconds flat, he ran to Stefie's side and took the snake in his jaws. At this point, our living room is in chaos.

I yell, "DROP IT!"

This is a regular command for the dogs at our house. Howdy knows this command.
I had no idea if this snake was poisonous, but Howdy listened, immediately. The good thing about Howdy is that when my voice is with conviction, he heeds my words. Without hesitation, he twisted toward me and dropped the snake from his jaw and looked to me for instruction while swinging his head wildly the opposite direction to also keep the slithering snake in his view.

Meanwhile, Deputy Dave had decided that he couldn't start shooting the snake while inside the house, so he ran for the broom and dustpan. The snake was about a foot long and quickly making its way toward the cover of the cedar chest.

I had hit the point of saying aghast, "I can't believe we've been sitting in the living room this entire time WITH a snake close to us!"


Deputy Dave swept the snake into the deep dustpan and high-tailed it to the front yard for release. Turns out, it was a grass snake. A healthy grass snake. Still, it's a snake and I don't like them in my house. Obviously, Howdy grasped the snake in his jaws just enough to pick it up, but not kill it. The snake appeared unharmed.

By the way, this is the second episode we've had with a snake in our house and I'll have to tell about the first experience on another day. It was beyond creepy.

I wondered for a moment...How many critters will intrude into our house once we're in the country?

Another question I pondered was the one with Howdy. It was obvious that he is definitely on-task with picking up verbal ques and body language to pounce upon the danger at hand, without hesitation. He is ready to defend, to rescue, or to come to our aid. The problem is...I've got to teach him to not rush to attack a snake or other animal that he perceives as a threat to the ones he loves. He is so in tune with our body language and tone of voice that it takes little to bring him to heightened attention.

I initially felt great concern as Howdy dropped the snake from his jaws because the motion caused him to fling a huge line of slobber across the room, as if his saliva glands went into high production. It did not seem to be an appealing moment for him, but he stood over the snake, watching it slither across the tile, and I could tell that this dog was determined to stop that snake. He then lunged forward with his huge claws to attempt to stop the snake from moving, he will pin things to the ground with his paws or with his entire body, so I had to again tell him to stop. But, he kept his body aligned with the snake as it wiggled on the tile for cover.

We were all relieved once Deputy Dave quickly scooped up the snake and escorted it out of the house.

The most funny moment of all was when Stefie realized that her fingers were within two inches of picking of the "worm." That girl has no fear at times because she was raised fishing, and she played with worms enthusiastically. She spent much of her life in the country.

If she stops to think about what she's doing, she'll be less inclined to approach the creepy crawler, but her auto-pilot is driven toward being unafraid of nature. These days, her lack of excitement toward country life has to do with wanting the luxuries of a real house. Since she was a child, we've been going to our acreage and she savored the exploration and fun that being on raw land offers; however, at her age of 21 today, she savors a fully working bathroom, air-conditioning and a stocked kitchen with a microwave.

Regardless of the little luxuries on our acreage, I believe she will still gravitate toward the worms. I hope she doesn't ever lose that side to her. Worms should never cease to be intriguing. The child in all of us should continue to be magnetized toward nature.

Nature holds me captive. I surrender.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

# 235 - Govt. Services for Your Land

Having raw acreage to prepare for construction and a homestead can be quite a daunting undertaking. Years ago, one of our first hurdles to confront with owning acreage was to get to the post office to file for our "911 Address" which gave us our street address and a mailing address for us to be a part of the outside world in typical postal fashion.

On a pizza delivery note...if a pizza place ever opened close enough to our land, we'd at least have a physical home address to provide for delivery. Sadly, as it stands, I believe we are too far from town to get deliveries. Besides, I suppose we'd have to stand among the forested road to wait for the delivery because the house will be constructed a good distance from the entrance to our property. I think moving to our acreage will mean the end of pizza's okay, we'll adapt, take-out will rule the day.

Another exciting angle we've taken with our acreage is to work with the National Resources Conservation Services (NRCS). We completed a "SCIMS" form which then required a copy of our deed and survey for the NRCS to conduct a soil sample of our area. Turns out, National Resources Conservation Services has been conducting nationwide soil testing and is compiling a national data system which is quite complicated.

The National Cooperative Soil Survey produces information about soil data through the Web Soil Survey (WSS); all ran through the National Resources Conservation Services. To date, there are soil maps and soil data available online for more than 95% of the nation's counties. It is very interesting. You can even do an online search for your area.

For our land, we will be working closely with this office because we have natural springs and creeks on our property which contribute to soil erosion.

Part of our land is susceptible to being extra-squishy.
Deputy Dave's truck had been stuck in this area, but he's an
expert at becoming unstuck.
If you are interested in soil studies for your particular area, go to and you will see a series of selections. If you go to the one about soil, you can get started. The process looks a bit complicated and it appears that you need your legal address, not your 911/street address to access data. As I stated, we're going the hard-copy route via the SCIMS form. If your land has not been soil surveyed, you might be able to get them to include it in the study by submitting the proper paperwork.

Since we have completed all of the necessary paperwork, we are allowed to pick up a "Soils Book" from the NRCS office in Livingston. However, since we're not able to find the time to make the two hour trip (one-way) to Livingston, we are having them FED EX the book to us at our home in the Greater Houston area. The shipping method is left to the discretion of the NRCS office personnel. The book should arrive next week. If we had been able to pick up the book, there would have been no cost involved to obtain the Soils Book, but the shipping costs required to send to the book to us will be on our dime.

The next task for us to complete is to keep working with another agency, the Farm Service Agency. This agency is literally next door to the National Resources Conservation Services office. The Farm Service Agency is working in conjunction with the NRCS and will use the paperwork we've already sent to assign us our Farm and Tract No.

Deputy Dave
I guess we'll see what happens as we mosey along with all of these processes.

For those of your who have been reading, Stefie is well enough to drive back to college this afternoon. She's still stiff and in pain, but is doing much better. Physical therapy is helping, especially the aqua-therapy to take the pressure off the disc bulge and compression that is causing her so much pain.

Once she leaves to go back to school, this old gal will be whipping the house back into shape for more showings this coming week. We'll be employing an OLD marketing technique called..."lowering the price."  ------- I am cracking up.

Anyway, I hope the reduced house price will attract a new segment of buyers who cannot qualify for the $5,000 difference that had perhaps held them back from qualifying. Every $5,000 opens up the potential for a new cluster of buyers. I guess we'll see what happens. I have until Wednesday to get the house back into tip-top shape because that will be the day that our price reduction will be effective. It's good to make changes to your marketing on Wednesday because potential buyers and agents will likely be in heavier property-search mode by Thursday morning for the next few days of showing appointments.

I believe the good weather, the reduced price and the almost-April-time-of-year will work to our advantage. It's kind of the time-frame I had planned. I wanted to sell the house around the end of April. Since it took us longer to get the house on the market, I need to allot for an adjusted sell date. Probably mid-May is when we will close. And, that's my positive mind-set at work folks!

We've always sold our houses very fast. This economy is surely reflecting the hesitancy of buyers and lenders to move the housing industry in anything but a snail's pace. The good thing is...the difficulty with purchasing a home means that you have less people crossing your threshold who aren't qualified buyers. I don't allow anyone to make an appointment to see our house unless they have a letter of qualification from their lender on hand. When you are selling your home, you don't feel like entertaining bands of sight-seers.

Keeping the sight-seers down to a minimum is also the soaring gas prices. Gone are the days when people would pile into the car to roll around town to leisurely drive down street after street in an attempt to catch a real estate sign in desired locations. These days, we stroll on the Internet first, it's a gas-saver.

I guess we'll see how this next week will go...hopefully I won't have anything but a boring good old time!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

# 234 - The Country Waits Patiently; Me...Not So Much!

As of this week, our house will have been on the market for nearly one month. We've had some showings that had potential buyers, but we've also had horrible weather that keeps people from getting out to see houses.

Usually, April is a super "hot" month with people trying to find their next house. For buyers, the school-year is coming to a close and the timing is perfect for the buyer-family to find a house and get everything in order to start the summer somewhere fresh.

To help things along, we will probably have a slight price drop to make sure we hook more buyers. It's always good to start off higher and work your way down.

I have a strong feeling that once we lower the price, we will be swamped with showings. Between the time of year drawing closer to the end of school and summer, along with the weather improving, and a price drop...I believe we will soon be tackling the serious end of packing.

As for our acreage, I have been trying to put everything together in an organized fashion so that our move and construction process will go smoothly. However, it seems that I never have enough time or energy to do all that I need to do. The good news is...we've found a great concrete worker for our country area and they come highly recommended. This is important because the soil at our acreage is much different from surrounding cities that have a higher clay make-up.

We've reconsidered our construction process and will probably start off with building the shell for our cabin; we're thinking of building it with a metal frame for the main supports. There are so many considerations and expenses; it can be overwhelming. However, once we sell this house, we won't have the high monthly outgoing expenses. Those can be redirected toward building our home in the country.

Just imagining how overgrown our land is at this moment makes me shudder. As Spring approaches, the land has a burst of thick growth and becomes unruly.

I'm hoping we can get moved before the full heat of summer kicks in around June. Before that time, we can work in relative comfort during the early morning hours and late afternoon hours. Since most of our land is shaded, it will be nice, but we'll have to be careful about dehydration and heat stroke. Being in the South means to beware of the heat. It cannot be underestimated.

Pacing ourselves is most important.

For now, we need to get back on track with selling our house. I need to resume my pre-packing and get our house readied for the big move!

The country waits for us. It holds back for nothing and for nobody. As for the two of us...we're ready for the shocking change that will come with moving from the city to the country.

I think we'll adapt just fine. I guess we'll figure it all out, one day at a time.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

# 233 - Nickname Madness

Families usually have nicknames for their loved ones. Sometimes we don't want to be called these wondrous names, other times, they are better than the legal names we were born with.

My brother is one of these people who was given a nickname upon his birth. He's my "little" brother and he's my "Bubba."

Yep, that's what we've always called him in my family, "Bubba."

Even my daughters call him "Uncle Bubba."

Isn't there a saying that every Southerner knows a "Bubba?" If so, I guess it's true.

In the picture above, that's my sister with my brother. We call her "Robin." But, that's not her legal name. However, we just recently discovered that many people who've been in our family for years didn't  know this fact about her. She's never used her legal first name...not even for work. We began calling her "Robin" when she was about six weeks old because she had begun to whistle in her crib. I've never seen such a thing before or since her whistling baby days.

She whistled for a few weeks, as a newborn baby, then she stopped. By the time she quit whistling, everyone in the neighborhood had been called to witness her amazing feat and she was dubbed the little singing "Robin." It seemed, for a time, instead of crying, she had begun whistling. After a while, she figured out the voice part of the equation. But, she never really cried. She was probably one of the happiest babies I've known. And, I've had a couple of my own. Regardless, her nickname stuck.

She's a school counselor and an amazing woman. She's only 36 years old --- I'm the older sister of both of those critters.

Here in Texas, sisters often call each other "Sissy." Robin is my "Sissy" and I'm her "Sissy." When we are speaking about each other, we frequently refer to each other as "Sissy." Beyond that, when I'm talking with my youngest daughter about my oldest daughter, I ask, "Have you spoken with your Sissy?" We've got a lot of women around here referred to as "Sissy."

I never really understood that the name "Sissy" or "Sister" is extremely familiar here in the South until I saw Urban Cowboy many, many years ago for the first time. Then, I began to pay closer attention to my grandmother and how she called certain loved ones "Sister." I realized that this is a learned nickname that is passed down for generations, just as is "Bubba." Sissy or Sister is a term of endearment in the South, the same as saying, "Sweetheart" or "Baby." And you do call your sister "Sissy" or "Sister." It's a sign, in our family, of loyalty.

Below is another picture of my Bubba a few years ago --- as he's having a ball at his favorite place, Big Bend. These days, he still looks the same, even though he's officially 40 years old. He's joined me in the realm of 40-something fun.

The last photo shows my brother with his best-friend and buddy, Chris. My brother is the hairy guy in the hat and his friend is the bald, shirtless guy. Chris is called "Chris." If he were born into my family, hardly anyone would know him by his legal name. I can only imagine what we would've called him.

I am starting to think that my family had reason to hide our names from society. It's not that I'm actually becoming paranoid or concerned about my family consistently using concealed identities with "nicknames," but I do kind of feel sorry for certain in-laws and out-laws who have been in the family for approximately 20 years, yet are just finding out that our names are not our legal names.

Their shocked expressions and squinting eyes at the revelation showed a conveyance of them feeling betrayed. What? Come on! You didn't know Robin wasn't really named "Robin?" You never heard the story about the whistling? Oops!

It's okay, we'll still be calling her Robin for the next 36 years, I promise. The nickname is her identity. The same for the rest of us. It is what it is.

As for these two guys, they served in the Marines together. My brother served in the Middle East and that was a horrific time in our family. Military service impacts everyone in the family. My heart always goes out to every military family out there. The way I see it, each family member is also serving their country in sacrifice. Since my brother didn't actually have a brother, he claimed Chris as a brother. They've been through some very...interesting...times together.

For any of you out there who have had a brother, I'm sure you understand.

The nicknames apply to pretty much everyone around's a way of life. As for me, I answer to "Woman" since my husband likes to call me that in a low tone reminiscent of a caveman. It's kind of cute and sexy, in a historical archaic kind of manner. Until...the day my youngest daughter reached about three years old and began calling me "Woman" in a contrived deep voice that had all of us in hysterics. I think she thought it was my name.

Did it stop him from calling me "Woman?" Absolutely not. In fact, to this day, my NOW 21 year old Stefie frequently uses that deep, powerful voice to call me by this nickname. It still cracks me up. The only difference is...she's 21 now, so I get to use it right back at her.


# 232 - No, Stefie is Not an Astronaut. Thank God!

This morning, the orthopedic surgeon said that Stefie didn't need back surgery at this time, but she does have a large disc bulge in the lumbar spine and they are trying to relieve the compression in a few ways, so the surgeon had her begin physical therapy that same day. Therefore, yesterday afternoon was her first session in physical therapy.

The orthopedic surgeon also wants her to see a Neurologist because not only are her legs hyper-reflex reactive, but her arms are too...this shows that her spine nerves are injured higher up in the spine or brain. He asked about prior head injuries and the car accident in 2009 included a closed head injury with a brain bruise that he remains concerned about. He said it was imperative she see a Neurologist and have a another brain scan. So, it seems on one had that we're starting all over again.

Fortunately, this orthopedic surgeon was right around the corner from us. We live near NASA and this doctor's office provides medical treatment for the astronauts who train directly across the street from their office.

Stefie coming out of orthopedic surgeon's office, not feeling well.
But, you can see part of NASA complex directly across the street.

I took a few pictures of the NASA memorabilia that hung upon the wall in the patient room. Since I'm from this area and have had many family and friends work for NASA, I've had neighbors who are linked to NASA and have sat talking with astronaut parents as if they were NOT a "space man" but simply an ordinary parent, even though they were sitting next to me in a NASA flight suit.

It seems that this has been the time for Stefie to be connected to all things NASA. Her surgeon's office includes Dr. Santos who is actually a flight surgeon who goes into space as a treating doctor for manned missions.

It's always been interesting for most people in our area to have NASA memorabilia. For our area restaurants, etc., it's a normal way of life for the walls to be covered with photos of the astronauts who trained and entered space.

In fact, Stefie had her MRI last week in a machine that was considered an Open MRI and the high-technology didn't stop there...she was able to have her MRI while sitting upright. In addition, a flat screen television was set up in front of her and the cooking channel was playing with closed caption included so she could focus on the tv instead of the MRI sounds. For anyone with claustrophobia of any kind, this MRI would be a dream.

It was interesting to learn that the astronauts returning from the International Space Station were having MRI's at this facility. After returning to Earth, astronauts often experience great pain in their spine. I can't imagine going from a weightless environment to suddenly entering Earth's atmosphere and the compressing gravity that comes with it. The pressure upon the spine after having a reprieve in space must be horrendous. So, astronauts are being studied upon their return from the International Space Station. They are given MRI's at this facility in which Stefie had her own MRI because they can study the astronauts spine in a sitting position, to better study gravity's impact on the spine before and after their visit to space. An MRI study of the spine in a lying down position might not give a true representation of the spine's anatomy as a person has weight upon it. So, this MRI performed while sitting up would be considered a "weight-bearing" study.

For an old gal who has an interest in human anatomy, this is fascinating to me. Plus, having family members who do NOT like being enclosed in an MRI will be thrilled to have this kind of study instead of being stuck inside a narrow tube; hence, most military trained people and first responders do not like being in an enclosed space, it goes against everything in their training to allow themselves to be in that position, especially with the MRI machine directly hovering over their face.

So, the neurology office is supposed to be calling us today and she already has her first physical therapy appointment this afternoon. She's a bit devastated about missing classes today, which was supposed to be her first day back after Spring Break, but the doctor wants her to have at least a couple of days at physical therapy before she attempts a long drive back to school.

I feel as if everything has been nonstop. We keep going. Our family is VERY accustomed to having health battles, but we keep moving forward and try to do "normal" things in spite of the hurdles. Every family has their own circumstances; I always remember that each of us has our battles. We're all linked in this world and trying to muddle our way through.

As for the house being up for sale, I had to turn down showings this week because Stefie could not easily move around and her comfort was more important than a showing. If a potential buyer was truly serious, I offered an alternative appointment within 48 hours so we could prepare for her to be moved and not set up so comfortable and with the messes that accompany "comfort" so I don't feel bad about my stance.

And today, the weather is horrendous, so there won't be showings. People don't like to go look at houses in tornado kind of weather. So, we can be messy today.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

# 231 - Stefie Update

This past week has been a painful Spring Break for my Stefanie. She'd hurt herself just a few days before Spring Break was to begin, but she made it home and we could clearly see that her injury was all-consuming. She'd hurt the area of her back that had previously been fractured in a car accident, in 2009.

Since our regular family doctor was on Spring Break vacation with his own kids, we began the ridiculous hoop jumping to find a last-minute substitute. Well, we did find a great doctor, but his staff was NOT adept at getting the testing cleared with our insurance company, especially for an MRI that had been ordered to be administered on the same day as we had initially seen the doctor.

Sadly, because of this doctor's pre-certification team, we ended up having to wait nearly four days for Stefie to actually get her MRI. And that was only because I called the insurance company myself and did some momma-snooping to find out that the pre-cert woman at the clinic had been lying about contesting the original decision to deny the MRI. This woman had told us that she was doing everything possible to get the MRI approved. In reality, she never even make one attempt to get the guidelines from the insurance company to contest this particular denial. It needed a one-word change in the MRI request from the doctor. If she'd have called, this would have been handled without issue.

I was perplexed, we had NEVER experienced such problems with our other physician, but his staff is well-versed in the ways of ordering diagnostic testing and in getting FAST insurance approval.

Turns out, this new doctor's staff was telling me that they were fighting to contest the original denial of the MRI, but in truth, they had done nothing since the moment their office had received the initial fax denying the MRI request. I was not a happy momma. I should not have to follow behind people to make sure they do their jobs so that we can make sure our insurance premiums are being put to proper use. Regardless, a few phone calls were made and Stefie FINALLY got the MRI that she should have had days before.

After a follow up appointment to discuss the results, they decided that she needs to see the Orthopedic Spine Surgeon...Monday morning at 8:00am.

So, I am having insomnia...a bit concerned about her going for this appointment and having so much trouble with her back while knowing that she has class on Monday at 2:00pm, so we'll be cutting it close to get her back to school. Well, I'm praying that the surgeon will give us an opinion that she just needs more time to heal and that her life won't be interrupted for much longer. I cringe at the thought of her having back surgery while so young. I know a little about that awful mess from my own back surgery and wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy.

Anyway, she is a trooper. This weekend she had been sad about having her entire Spring Break be spent in misery. So, her daddy went to Kemah (seaside community-nearby) and bought crawfish. On Saturday afternoon, we had a great crawfish boil, even though she had to shuffle slowly to her seat and shuffle slowly back inside, it was worth it. At least she'll be able to say she did SOMETHING fun on her Spring Break!

The good news is...we always find something to do that is enjoyable. We don't have to schedule anything fabulous; we don't have to be entertained; we don't have to even leave the house...we've found ways to have great times, even when the body is not wanting to cooperate.

So, this weekend, I am thankful that the little woman in our house is still trying to smile, in spite of all her pain. She tries to be sweet and kind, even when she is in agony. She's a young woman of great character and of great perspective; I admire her strength and determination.

Things in life are certainly NOT going her way right now, but she still has a great attitude.

Tomorrow morning, I'm praying the doctor gives only good news. Since she needs to head back to college tomorrow, I am ready for a positive send-off. We want to keep helping this daughter of ours to have every opportunity that we gave to our first daughter through her years in college, even though it's been more difficult putting our second child through school, we keep trying. I am thankful that things are happening for Deputy Dave and I so that we can better assist Stefie with finishing her degree; let's just hope that her back cooperates and that she stays vibrant and healthy. She's never missed a semester, even in 2009 with a BROKEN BACK and a HEAD INJURY!

I marvel at her determination. It's easy for some of these kids to complain at the slightest problem, but I am always so proud of Stefie and her optimism while embracing a "can-do" attitude in the midst of troubles.

I guess the morning will bring us more news...I just keep hoping it will be good news so we can keep watching this spunky gal make her way in the world at such a young age. She's going to be the one who probably keeps going straight through school toward her upper studies, so I'm cheering her along. Good thing is...she is focused and on track.

She's a 21 year old woman, but I appreciate her as my child and as my friend, she's earned the right to be called my friend; however, she sure makes me love being a mommy, even on my worst days, she is a sweetheart. She deserves all the best in the world. I hope good news tomorrow brings relief so she can continue on her merry way in this life that we all know has a habit of throwing curve balls!

Friday, March 16, 2012

# 230 - Lazy Boy Boat

Fishing has been a huge part of our lives. I grew up fishing in the area of our acreage, on Lake Livingston. My grandmother had her own tackle box and she knew how to use it. She knew how to tie the knots, how to bait the hook and how to perfectly reel in a catch.

I loved fishing with my grandmother. No one else took me fishing as I was growing up, except for my grandma. I think my dad tried a couple of times, but it wasn't his thing. He enjoyed boating, but on a sports-activity level.

Until...I began going out with Deputy Dave. As teenagers, we had an awesome time fishing and seeing what we could pull up in the cast-net.

For years, Deputy Dave has fished via an Ocean Kayak. I have my own kayak, but it's a squat little thing that leaves me mostly sitting in water and as Deputy Dave's kayak slices through the water with minimal effort and incredible aqua-dynamic capabilities, I am wobbling through the water, going side to side like an injured fish.

I think I got this kayak because Deputy Dave enjoys the humor of watching me in the bright orange waddle boat.

Here is the serious set-up of a fisherman who knows his stuff.

 Moving to our acreage will be a different way of life for us in the area of fishing, but I've been thinking this through.

Deputy Dave has already had a shoulder literally torn apart because of kayaking and hooking into a big shark that dragged him around the bay. He got into that red-zone of not wanting to let go, so he ended up injured and requiring his entire shoulder to be put back together.

Since then, it's been more difficult for him to kayak, but he still does it.

The great thing about moving to our land is that we'll have access to a huge lake. One that we've enjoyed for most of our marriage and one that I've been going to since I was a baby.

I think the two of us would enjoy kayaking around these waters, as we've already done. Forget sharks, in this water, we have alligators to contend with. However, the catfish make it ALL WORTHWHILE!

We know that mating season is the most active time for alligators, mostly in May and June for our area.

Back in 2009, a five-year kid killed an alligator estimated at over 800 pounds on this lake. The head alone weighed over 100  pounds. *** Shudder ***

My point is, even though we have an incredible time fishing in salt-water, I believe the lake offers just as much fun on the other end of the line, especially Lake Livingston. In fact, even though Deputy Dave has enjoyed the hands-on aspect of fishing from a kayak, I'm at the phase in life to where I eagerly want a fishing boat. I believe Deputy Dave won't complain too loudly at being able to steer instead of paddle.

A simple boat would be nice. Nothing fancy, but a floating contraption with good seating would be perfect...hmmm...maybe an old, worn recliner placed up front with rod holders on each side instead of drink holders? Wouldn't that be a Dream-Boat for most men? We'll dub it the "Lazy Boy Boat."

Seriously, all we need is something we can take out for a day of enjoyment on the water, fishing, a bit of sight-seeing, nature kicking back and reading a great book while he fishes longer than I desire.

Since we love eating fish in our family, especially catfish of every kind, it will be great to continue catching dinner. Another bonus with moving to our acreage is that Lake Livingston is so close to our property. Unlike having to drive to the bay in Galveston for fishing, which can take 45 minutes one way, once we're living on our acreage we'll be much closer to fishing at Lake Livingston. And on the days we don't feel like tackling the huge lake, we can take a short walk to the back of our property to fish on the private spring-fed lake.

I plan on putting a sitting area near our little lake on our land, a bench with a trellis covering for protection from the sun.

A fish cleaning station near our country home will be a necessity.

I love being on the water, and it will be incredible to not have pasty white legs any longer.