Dec 31, 2007

Time Flies When You're Crazy Busy

I can't believe it's been a week since I last blogged. A lot has happened so I'll keep it as brief as possible. So we bought the Hyundai Santa Fe last Monday, on my birthday. We love it and are very happy with our purchase. Christmas Eve service at Austin Stone was beautiful. Christmas day at Roger's parents was great. We had a lot of fun. We watched a few footballs games over the past week. Happy UT won, sad A&M lost. Too many pro games to talk about, but enjoyed them all. On Wednesday, Roger received the date of his formal hearing for his disability appeal. It is set for February 13, 2008. Not only is that much later than he expected and means he will be there even longer than expected, but it's also his birthday. What a way to spend your birthday plus knowing it's going to suck is worse. So that means he won't be home at the earliest until March 13th. He was quite bummed that day knowing he has to be there so much longer. Tells you how bad it sucks at WRAMC. We've been getting numerous things done around the house since Roger is home to help including organizing the garage. This has taken the most time but we're pretty much done. We are very excited about how the garage make-over has turned out. We can definitely get both vehicles in there again once I get rid of a couple items. So I am spending today freecycling tons of stuff to continue organizing the garage while Roger is taking care of his truck. We are planning to drive him back to DC so he will have a vehicle while he's there so his remaining time won't suck as bad. This will also help him when he comes home for good as he has lots of stuff to bring back since he's been there so long already. We have a bunch more stuff to accomplish before Roger leaves, but only a few things that have to be done. The rest can wait for me to do during the semester or when Roger gets home for good. I'm sure there's more I'm forgetting, but oh well. Tonight we are going to Roger's sister Mirna's home for New Year's Eve celebrations. Hope you all had a great Christmas and will have a happy new year.

Dec 24, 2007

Today Was A First

Roger and I laid down last night after midnight. I knew it was after midnight and it was technically the next day, but it did not dawn on me that it was already my birthday. So as we were snuggling down to sleep, Roger said to me, "I want to be the first person to tell you happy birthday." Oh, he's so sweet. The next thing I know, it's really bright, obviously it's the next morning and I hear a loud, "Good morning!" Roger is walking towards me with a big tray in his hands and a huge smile on his face. He brought me breakfast in bed. I was like, "Huh, what?" I'm a pretty good sleeper when he's home so I had no idea what was going on. That boy got up earlier than me, turned my alarm off, moved our phones far away so no texts or reminders would wake me up. He shut the door to our room and tried to be as quiet as possible. And he pulled it off. I can't believe he did it. I have never had breakfast in bed before so I really had no idea what to do. It was kind of strange. Before he left the room, I thought this is going to be strange sitting here eating all by myself. So I told him I wished he could eat with me. So he ran to the kitchen and cooked his breakfast and joined me. And he was done before I was half way done with my breakfast. Which if you know Roger any bit, that's fast for him. He said he tried very hard not to be perfect and cut corners to be faster. He usually takes forever to do most tasks because everything has to be perfect, the toast to the right browning, the butter at room temperature to it can spread, the jelly spread at the counter before he comes to sit down, his coffee just perfectly mixed with Splenda and creamer by that time my food is cold waiting for him or I'm done eating. So I was quite impressed. He had only gotten up about 30-45 minutes before he brought the food to me. Of course he told me don't look in the kitchen. Don't worry, I didn't. He also gave me a beautiful birthday card on the tray. I love it and can't believe he found it at HEB, our local grocery store. What a great way to start my birthday. Roger always tries to make my birthday special. He's so sweet. I wonder what the rest of the day has in store. Of course, I'll let you know later.

Dec 23, 2007

Weekend Update

Roger and I are sitting here Sunday night watching the Washington Redskins whoop up on the Minnesota Vikings. We had a pretty lazy Sunday. And we deserve it. Friday and Saturday were non-stop so we need a bit of a break. Friday I woke Roger up about 5:30 a.m. because I couldn't sleep. We laid down about 12:30 a.m. and I hadn't been able to sleep yet. So he woke up so we could talk about the 3F's, feelings, fears and frustrations. This is one of many things I miss about Roger not being home. I can tell him anything and he listens well and helps me see things the way I need to see them. We end in prayer and shed tears which always makes me feel better. We talked until 7:00 a.m and I got up and baked those red velvet cupcakes finally. Then we headed to the south steps of the Capitol for Tuba Christmas with Roger's dad and his sister Cindy. It was really nice. We try to go to Tuba Christmas every year. Here in Texas it can be outside, but in DC it has to be inside. After lunch at Waterloo, we ran a few necessary errands before heading back to the house to ice the cupcakes and so Roger could wrap all the gifts he picked up. It takes Roger a while to wrap gifts now so since he didn't want me to see my birthday or Christmas presents, I ran to HEB for some last minute groceries and to top off the gas tank for our two hour drive the next day and then I went to Michael's to exchange my cupcake stand because it was missing parts which made it unable to be put together. Upon my return he was still not done wrapping gifts and I finished icing the cupcakes. Then we ran over to my friend Susan and Tim's house to say hello, drop off some cupcakes and have a glass of wine. It was so nice to hang out with them again. They are definitely our kind of people.

Saturday we went to Smetana for the Wise family Christmas. It was a great day. We'll post the pictures from all these events at the end of Roger's leave and you'll get to see how much fun we had at my parents. Going home to the farm is always interesting and you never know what you'll end up doing. All the kids had fun and us adults too. The food was great. There's nothing like your own parents' holiday cooking. Fried turkey, glazed ham (real ham, not spiral, with homemade glaze), tamales, cornbread dressing, etc. Oh and all the desserts. We took a great group picture in front of one of my dad's tractors and then shot handguns in the front yard. I know, so country. This was the first time Roger fired a weapon in a long, long time and he said it felt good. And he did a good job too. Better than me. We fired a few different handguns, a couple revolvers, a .22, a .45 semi-automatic pistol and another one or two I can't remember what they are. I don't know how exactly it all got started. I was in the driveway hanging out with the youngest kids while they were playing in the sand and saw the gaggle of men, my mom and sister walking to the side yard with pistols and a couple of coffee cans. Of course I had to walk over and see what was going on. None of us had ear protection so we stuck our fingers in our ears except when it was our turn to shoot. I fired a few times before I shot one of the revolvers once and my left ear started ringing and hurting. So I decided I needed to stop. See, you never know what you'll end up doing when you go to the country.

Today we slept in really late. Roger cooked us scrambled eggs and turkey bacon for breakfast at noon. Roger watched football for a bit then we proceeded to trim some bushes, mow the grass in order to mulch all the leaves, fold cardboard, get the trash and recycle out for trash pick-up on Monday and to bring my plants inside from the freeze tonight. But our lawn mower refused to start. It was quite frustrating. I think if Roger could have picked it up and threw it in the street he would have. He finally gave up and we decided we were done with that lawn mower. We've had a lot of problems with it this year and we're not about to spend any more money or time on it. So after getting the trash and recycle bins out to the street we went in to watch more football and eat dinner. While Roger watched football, I decided to do some research on electric lawn mowers on his laptop in the living room with him. I was just interested in finding out about them because I'm sick of gas lawn mowers and wanted to learn about the performance of electric lawn mowers in preparation of maybe getting one in the spring. Roger moved over to join me in my research and we found a really good deal on a highly recommended one at The sale ended tomorrow and we thought about Christmas Eve at the mall and quickly decided to go tonight. So we drove to Sears and bought it. Now, this was pretty impulsive for Roger and I but I am glad we have it so we can mulch the leaves in the yard and I can mow the grass whenever I want to now and much easier than usual. I can't wait to try it out. We already use an electric weed-eater, edger, blower, tiller tool so we're used to using a corded yard tool. And we won't have to worry about mowing the grass early in the morning anymore because it's supposedly as quiet as a vacuum cleaner. And electric lawn mowers don't need any maintenance like tune-ups, etc other than blade sharpening. I'm glad about that because loading that gas mower in the truck by myself over and over again this year was getting very old. Hopefully I won't have to worry about that ever again. And, the best part is the touch of a button start and the fact that electric mowers give off no emissions which is great for the environment. I feel good about that.

So, we didn't buy a car on Friday. Turns out the great deal the area Mazda dealers were having was non-negotiable. So we have decided to get one of our other first choices which is the Hyundai Santa Fe SE. We already test drove it a few times and did some preliminary research but we did more research Friday night and will test drive it again tomorrow. They have some great rebates right now, plus a military discount and Hyundai's come with a 100,000 mile warranty which is unbelievable. I feel very comfortable with the Santa Fe which I didn't feel as comfortable with the CX-7. And in the process of doing all the research on it, Roger found out that Hyundai donates a certain percent from all their sales to pediatric cancer centers across the country. I was already impressed with the vehicle but knowing this made me even more impressed. So maybe we'll buy a new car tomorrow. Maybe.

Dec 20, 2007

The Latest and Greatest

No new car today. We have narrowed it down to a Mazda CX-7 Sport. We have test driven it several times each and read a ton of reviews about it. We have our numbers calculated and actually spoke to a salesman today about buying one when we were done test driving. But he didn't even want to hear an offer amount from us if it was below theirs so we left. The salesman was a real b.s.-er. That is one of the biggest annoyances to me about salespeople and it's so hard to not call them on it even as they are saying they don't b.s. But I was raised to be respectful towards people especially in their face. So we just told him good night and left. We will be making an offer to another dealership tomorrow morning if they have the one we want via email and/or phone, the way we like it. We'll see what they say.

We spent the day at home and we really enjoyed it. We did have two visitors, a plumber and an electrician. The plumber came to fix the overflow plate in our master bathroom bathtub. He was not able to pull the rusted screws out of the pipe and had to cut a hole through the sheet rock in the wall behind the tub which is in the entry of our house. But he did such a beautiful job cutting it that he was able to put the piece of sheet rock back in the one foot square hole and you can barely tell it was ever cut. He was proud of his handy work as we were impressed. He made it very easy to fix. Our home warranty company will send a contractor out to fix it, but if we had to, it would be a cinch. I tell you, having a home warranty has been great. We have used ours three times this year and it has been completely worth the cost. We pay a $55 "co-pay" and that covers everything. Our disposal stopped working a few weeks ago. And because it couldn't be repaired we not only got a brand new disposal but it was a higher horse power and quieter disposal than we had to begin with. All for only $55. If we would have had to hire a regular plumber for today's work, no telling how much it would have cost. And the guy was good. Our home warranty company, American Home Shield, uses ARS as their contractors. And the ARS technicians that have been sent to our house have been great. I highly recommend home warranties.

Now the electrician came to quote the cost to add an electrical outlet to the front of our house and add on two or three light boxes for security lights on the sides and back of our house. After seeing the numbers, we have decided to wait a while before we do that work since we are about to make a huge investment on a new car plus all the expenses of the holiday season.

And as for Roger's PEB, he made a decision today and faxed it to the powers that be. He has decided to appeal the PEB because after reviewing all the specific regulations, the Disabled American Veterans have advised him that he should be receiving 100% disability through July 2008 and be re-rated after July not just receive 30% for the next 18 months. Here's my take on it: the Army is trying to get him for as little as possible, as usual. Most people don't know their options or just give up and take what they are offered, but Roger is not about to give up and he is well informed. Not surprising if you know Roger well. So he signed and faxed his appeal, requested a formal hearing and designated the pro bono attorney assigned to him as his representative. He will also be scheduling a physical with the VA upon his return to DC to continue with the VA disability process. Keeping all this stuff straight is tricky for me and explaining it is exhausting for Roger. It's not surprising that he doesn't like to talk about it nor his grueling experiences at Walter Reed. It's already depressing to live it so why make it more depressing by talking about it. Poor thing. I hate that he has to endure this longer, but no one said life was easy.

Last night we walked down 37th Street to see the very eclectic Christmas lights with Roger's dad Roger Sr, sister Mirna, brother-in-law Joey, niece Ariana and our friend Denise. Tomorrow we are meeting Roger's dad and his sister Cindy at the Capitol for Tuba Christmas then having dinner with our friends Susan and Tim and maybe their daughter Steph. Depending on the response of the dealership, we might stop in to finalize the sale. Then Saturday we are off to Smetana for a Wise family Christmas.

Dec 19, 2007

It's Official!

Okay, it's official. Here's the proof:

I made a B in my history class. Yeah!! I think I'll celebrate by buying a new car today. Just joking! I'm not that impulsive. Roger and I are going to test drive some vehicles this afternoon to figure out which we prefer the most. He will also hopefully be talking to the legal counsel assigned to him today to get more answers regarding his PEB and eventual medical retirement. There are so many details and scenarios. He wants to make sure fighting the PEB is worth it. Please pray he gets the clarification he needs to make the best decision.

We're having a great time together. I wish every day of his leave could be this laid back and relaxing. Of course, I'll have to work a little and we have holiday family obligations. And you know how much fun family events can end up being. I pray those are fun times too and we all remember and focus on the meaning of the season and how blessed we truly are.

Good News! Praise the Lord!

Okay, before I post about Roger being home, sorry babe, I have to share my grade for my history class. So I went to check my grade online and where the official grades are posted it said, "Grades are currently not available for this term." Aughhhh! It was even a few hours after the official time when grades would be available. You know I was quite nervous about my grade in this class and I was not happy about this. So I thought, let me check my degree audit and see if there's any change from "in progress". And there it was, "HIST 481 SEMINAR IN HISTORY 2007 Fall 3.0 hrs B" I made a B! I am soooo happy!! I was almost shocked, but very elated. I immediately thanked the Lord over and over and over again. If it wasn't after midnight on a Tuesday night, I'd go celebrate. But we're in the house for the evening, so we'll have to celebrate tomorrow. Although this is Austin and there are plenty of places we could have gone even this late. Happy, happy, joy, joy. Wow, what a relief. Now I know for sure that I only have to take one class next semester and I WILL graduate in May, 2008. Oh, I am so happy. Have I told you how happy I am?! :) Now, I don't know how official this is, especially since it's on the degree audit but not in the grade display. You know I will continue to check it because I won't feel completely at ease until I see it in the grade display which is official. This also means that I didn't do so bad (I know, not correct grammar, but I don't care!) on my research paper.

I really don't care what grade I made on the paper as long as I made a grade high enough to count for my major so I don't have to take that class ever again. I don't know if I ever mentioned this before, but this was not my first attempt at this class. I tried it first many, many years ago and didn't make a grade high enough to count. I'm sure it had to do with all the partying I was doing in Northgate. The second attempt I withdrew for some reason I can't remember now. I'm sure it had to do with partying too much and a certain loser in my life that I let influence me negatively. And the third attempt, many, many years later, I dropped because I couldn't handle all the many obligations I took on Roger's first year of deployment. So this was my fourth attempt. Talk about pathetic. I'm almost embarassed I shared that. Oh well, those of you who know me very well, know I'm not the person I used to be. And I'm sure you, and my parents, are all saying under your breath, "Thank goodness."

Okay, now we can talk about Roger. I picked Roger up at the airport about 4:15pm today. It was so nice to see him in the Austin airport again. I love it when he comes home. I really don't enjoy going to Walter Reed to visit him. It's awful there. But we have been laughing since he got home. He's pretty much unpacked and seems like he never left except I have to remind him where things are and go. We went to his favorite bbq place, Rudy's on 360, for dinner then stopped at Scooter's on William Cannon for coffee and dessert. We discussed our schedule while he's home and all the things we would like to accomplish and people we need to see. I told you we'd start a new list when he got home. Of course this schedule is not set in stone but it gives us an idea of what we can try to accomplish.

So as far as Roger's day yesterday trying to get answers to his many questions regarding his PEB, I will let him go into detail in a future blog. But I will share that most of the advice he received was for him to appeal the PEB and go to formal hearing. He also found out it probably won't go to formal hearing until the end of January. Which means he won't be home for good until February at the earliest. Although I've have decided he won't be home until I pick him up from the airport for the last time, he is quite disappointed with the thought of staying longer. Of course, we both know we have to do what we have to do for his future health.

On that note, I'd like to share some scripture I came across Sunday. I can't for the life of me figure out where I came across it, but I know I was led to it for a reason. And I'm still trying to figure out what version it is. I've gone through every English version on, but no luck. So if you know this version, please let me know in a comment below. It's the same concept and meaning, but I'd like to find the version because I like it. I hope it moves you as much as it moved me. And I pray for this kind of joy for you.

I've learned how to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I'm just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I've found the recipe for being happy, whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am. Phillipians 4:12

Dec 16, 2007

Weekend Update

I intended to post earlier this weekend, but I had such a productive weekend I got distracted. I ended up getting sick and didn't bake those red velvet cupcakes nor help out at the benefit event Thursday night. The volunteer coordinator told me to stay home and get rest since they had plenty of help coming. Did I do that? Well, I stayed home, but I didn't rest. I started working on my to do list but I didn't work super hard so it's okay.

My parents were in Taylor, northeast of Austin, for another funeral Thursday for a farmer and blacksmith friend of theirs, Charlie Stolte. He and my father were a lot alike and related very well to each other although Mr. Stolte was a couple decades older than my dad. They had similar backgrounds and appreciated each other well. My mom and I always said Mr. Stolte was what my dad was going to look like when he gets old. After the funeral and lunch with friends, my parents drove to my house in South Austin and helped me with a bunch of stuff. I bought an air compressor a week or so ago. We will be able to use it to make putting flooring in the attic an easier task by borrowing my dad's pneumatic nail gun. And we'll be able to air up balls, bicycle and automobile tires and blow leaves from under my front door on the front porch. And if you've ever driven to convenience store after convenience store trying to find air for your low tires to have them not work and lose more air, you know how much we will love having this air compressor. I've been wanting one for about five years now. You know I am going to find any excuse to use it.

So my dad helped me set it up, make sure it was ready to go and showed me how to use it and maintain it. I cleaned out a section of the attic which we will tackle first. The previous owners of our house left us lots of great stuff when we bought the house and I didn't realize how much they left in the attic. Of course everything they left was pretty much trash that we have had to dispose of ourselves. Thanks Stewart family! Anyway, my mom consolidated leftover garage sale stuff into fewer boxes while my dad and I messed with the compressor. She helped me load the boxes into my truck to which I took to Goodwill and helped me clean the garage from the trash I threw out of the attic. They also took a bunch of spare wood we had which helped to empty the garage out more. We're not only trying to organize the garage better but make room for another vehicle. We got two in there before I totaled my car in 2003 so I know we can get two in there again. Friday and Saturday were more projects I've been trying to get done for a while and I got almost all of my list completed. All I have left to do is clean the house tomorrow after I work in the morning and complete a personal Christmas gift for Roger which I'm working on now. I'd tell you what it is, but then Roger would find out. He's already been bugging me about his "real" Christmas present. Once Roger gets home, we will start on a new list. I'm sure he's looking forward to it. You never know, he might be happy and feel more normal to be doing things around the house.

Oh, I almost forgot. I got my anthropology final exam grade Thursday afternoon. I made a 91, A! So according to the professor's grading policy that means I made an 88.75 in the class BUT I went to a museum for two extra credit points. Which means I made a 90.75 in the class. That's a A! I'm so happy about that. Now I have to wait until Tuesday after 8:00 p.m. to find out what I made in my history class. When I think about it, I get nervous. So I try not to think about it. But I have to make a C or better in that class. I really don't want to have to take it again. I've had enough of research papers for a while. I don't want to have to do that again until I go to grad school. So I'm begging, please pray for me to make a C or better in that class.

So the museum I went to with my dad was the Brazos Valley Museum of Natural History. I was really impressed. I was quite surprised with the collections they had and he and I really enjoyed it. Our other choice was the Houston Museum of Natural Science, but I couldn't afford to lose a whole day, three hour drive there and three hour drive back, at the time. I'd love to have gone there, but I needed the time to work on my paper. I can still go but I'd like to go soon since they have Lucy, the "missing link" according to evolutionists. I don't really care too much about seeing Lucy, but I've learned from past experience not to miss out on any opportunity that comes across my lap. I wish I wouldn't have listened to everyone else when they said, "Don't waste your money going into the Great Pyramid. It's not worth it." when we were in Egypt with the Army. I could seriously kick myself for not going into the pyramid. Even if there wasn't anything in there, I could still say I've been in it instead of just saying I've been there. Lucy's only going to be in Houston for a short while and only in a few museums in America so I'd like to see her if I can help it.

As you read in Roger's post from Friday, he got his PEB that morning but was unable to get any questions asked and therefore no answers. I still can't believe two offices whose sole jobs are to be there for the soldiers in these moments were completely out of the office on Friday. I worked for state government for six years before I moved to DC and we were never allowed to all go out at the same time. There always had to be a "skeleton crew" as they call it. I guess federal government is a little different. I mean, I basically knew that from my prior Army experience and with the history of what Roger's experienced so far at WRAMC, I'm not really surprised. Disappointed, but not surprised. Roger will probably have a very hectic day tomorrow trying to get answers in order to make the best decision. He's planning to bypass formation at 0730 and go straight to getting those answers before he starts packing to fly home on Tuesday. Please pray for him. I can imagine it becoming frustrating with the Army and WRAMC's history. So please pray for the Lord to be with Roger tomorrow and help him deal with the answers he receives and for him to get great advice.

Thanks all. Sorry this is so long. That's what happens when I wait to post. I'd say I'll try to be better, but you know as well as I this isn't the first time and it surely won't be the last. One more day and a wake up and Roger will be home. I can't wait. I'm very excited. I know he is too.

Dec 14, 2007

PEB Results Questionable

I got my PEB results back today, but they only rated me at 30% on TDRL. I can’t get into specifics right now, but I am not sure if I should go along with this or contest it. There are two organizations here, the American Legion and the Disabled American Veterans, who help answer questions we have regarding our PEBs. Unfortunately, they’re all out today at a Christmas party at the headquarters office. All day?!? Well, whatever. I left them all voicemails and slid letters asking for help underneath their doors, so I should get my questions answered Monday.

I have a list of questions ready to go and will add to it all weekend. I just want to make sure that I completely understand what is going on here. In the meantime, I have to stew all weekend long. I apparently haven’t learned enough about patience, so the Lord is teaching me another lesson. Please pray that all my questions are answered Monday so that I can make a decision soon. I have until Dec 26th, but I don’t want to have to wait that long. And please just pray for peace for me over the weekend and that this does not drive me crazy. Thanks and have a great weekend.

Dec 12, 2007

Finals Are Over!!

Finals are done and the semester will be officially over December 18th when grades are available for continuing students. But we should get our grades for the anthropology exam we took today sometime tomorrow to which I can calculate my grade in the class. It was actually a fairly easy exam. There were a few questions I had concerns about but answered with an educated guess. Hopefully they were the right educated guesses. Now I get to start my list of things to do before Roger gets home next Tuesday like putting up Christmas decorations, taking boxes of garage sale leftovers to Goodwill and many other fun, fun chores. I have a list!

The funeral for Mrs. Fore last Friday was nice. It was like a reunion in Smetana. Every one's lives are so busy these days, that it takes a funeral or wedding for all of us to see each other. Father John gave a very endearing homily about Mrs. Fore during the funeral mass. He used 1 Corinthians 13:13 to describe her which was perfect because faith, hope and love epitomized her life. I have to think about it to realize she's really gone. It's obviously going to be hard for many to imagine her not in our lives.

Roger has been extremely busy lately with the usual stuff like physical and occupational therapy but he's also had a lot of MWR trips, meetings with the VA and shoots for the newspaper lately. He's been meaning to blog about all his adventures of late, but has been too busy to do so. He even got all our Christmas cards out last night. (Don't tell him I said so, but I'm so glad he did those this year.) Hopefully soon he will blog and let you know all about the cool things he's been doing and interesting people he's been meeting. And post some pictures too. Only five more days and a wake up until he's home. I can't wait. This is going to be another memorable Christmas for us this year.

Maybe I'll post some pictures of my red velvet cupcakes from tomorrow night. Check out the post below. Until next time, Au revoir.

Dec 10, 2007

Studying For Finals

Well, after a weekend in East Texas at my sister's for my niece's 5th birthday party, a small town Christmas parade my nephew's class had a float in, shopping with my mom, sister and her neighbor, witnessing a freshly shot deer being skinned & butchered and eating lots of bbq and cake, I'm home studying for my only final this semester on Wednesday. I'm getting more and more excited about the semester ending. I have a ton of stuff I'd like to do before Roger gets home on the 18th which I can't start until after my final.

To celebrate the end of the semester, Thursday I will be baking an enormous amount of red velvet cupcakes from scratch with homemade cream cheese icing. And you're invited to come taste one, or two, at Ten Thousand Villages in SoCo Thursday night next to Continental Club. I will be there from 5:00 pm-9:00 pm volunteering for VSA Arts of Texas Holiday Benefit. There will be live music, delicious holiday treats and great shopping. 5-15% of the evening's sales will be donated to VSA to support their programs and services. Ten Thousand Villages is a fair trade gift store with colorful, beautiful and unique items from all over the world which provides vital, fair income for artisans in Third World Countries, helping to build sustainability in their communities. VSA Arts of Texas strives to create a society where people with disabilities can learn through, participate in, and enjoy the arts.

So come out if you can. You can see all their beautiful products on their website. Or just listen to the live music and enjoy some yummy treats. I hope to see you there!

Now back to more reading. :(

Dec 6, 2007

Regina P. Fore

August 29, 1933 – December 4, 2007

Regina P. Fore passed away on Tuesday, December 4, 2007, at St. Joseph Regional Health Center with her family by her side. Visitation will be from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday, December 6 at Memorial Funeral Chapel in Bryan with a rosary at 6 p.m. Funeral Mass is set for 9:30 a.m. Friday, December 7 at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Bryan with Monsignor John McCaffrey officiating. Burial will follow at Smetana Cemetery.
Regina was born in Smetana, Texas, on August 29, 1933, to John Jacob and Elizabeth Nemec. She was a lifelong resident of the Smetana community. She was a member of St. Joseph Catholic Church and was a member of the KJZT Association. She attended Stephen F. Austin High School of Bryan. Regina met and later married the love of her life, Daniel Ray Fore, on January 25, 1951. They were married over 56 years. She was always an active homemaker. She worked for Texas A&M University's Agricultural Extension Service Riverside Campus, where she retired.

She really had fun working in the home, making quilts and cooking her special dishes and desserts. She will be remembered for her outpouring love and affection for her family and friends. She was always there to give a helping hand and practice her Christian faith, which could be seen by all who knew her. If she was not at home, you could find her at the cemetery working or tending her Longhorn cattle that she loved so much. She served as the Democratic chairman of the Precinct Four, member of the Brazos County Sheriff Auxiliary, KJZT Association, past president and Board member of the Smetana Cemetery Association and she was a member of the Texas Longhorn Breeders Association of America.

She was preceded in death by her parents, John Jacob and Elizabeth Nemec, and brother, Steve Nemec. Survivors include her husband, Dan Fore; three children, Gina Pavlas and husband, Darrell, of Bryan, Danny Fore and wife, Patti, of Hover, Ala., and Danete Pribilski and husband, Don, of Tomball, Texas; four grandchildren, Tim Pavlas and wife, Lori, of Bryan, Ashley Fore, Trey Fore, both of Hoover, Ala., and Matt White of Bryan; and two great-grandchildren, Paris Pavlas and Michael White, both of Bryan. Pallbearers will be Tim Pavlas, Trey Fore, Matt White, Joe Allen, Donald Ray Allen, Raymond Fore and Duke Singer. The family would like to thank Dr. Elizabeth Berigan and nurses, Lynn Harkey, Sherri Moore, Johnnie Walton and Lori Brockette, for the special care they gave Regina.

Donations can be made to the Smetana Cemetery Association, P.O. Box 3133, Bryan, Texas 77805. Obituary can be viewed at

Dec 4, 2007

Update on Mrs. Fore

Mrs. Fore passed away this morning at 3:02 a.m. I think it's going to take a while for it to sink in that she's not around, ready to help out at a moment's notice. She will truly be missed. Please keep the Fore family and friends in your prayers. I found these great pictures of my mom and Mrs. Fore in June, 2005 participating in a maze at the Prater John Deere County Fair. I know, so Texan and country. My mom drove blindfolded while Mrs. Fore gave her directions. It was a hoot. They tore up the course. Mrs. Fore obviously had no fear.

Funeral arrangements have been made for the dates and locations below. Interment will follow the funeral at Smetana Cemetery with lunch immediately following at the Smetana Community Center.

Rosary: Thursday 6:00 p.m.
Memorial Funeral Chapel
1515 S College Avenue
Bryan, TX 77801
(979) 823-8125

Funeral: Friday 9:30 a.m.
Saint Joseph Catholic Church
600 East 26th Street
Bryan, TX 77803
(979) 822-2721

Turned In Research Paper & Last Day of Class

Well, I just turned in my research paper, again. It's kind of funny now, but of course I was freaking out inside at the time. I submitted my research paper this morning at home. I had gone over it several times to check for, well, everything! I uploaded it to and as I was about to hit the submit button I prayed a little prayer. Actually I prayed a big prayer. I was so nervous about hitting the submit button, but I did anyway. I finished getting ready to leave for campus and thought about something. I ran to the office and grabbed one of the library books I used for a secondary source. I opened my final paper on the computer and found one of the references I used from that book then I checked the end note. My hunch was right. I put the wrong book title and author for it. Yes, my first thought was, "Crap!" I went straight to to see if I could resubmit my paper, but of course, I couldn't. I got the pop-up error stating until the earlier submission is deleted by your instructor resubmission is impossible! So I emailed my professor explaining what I wanted to do and what I needed her to do. I finished eating breakfast and checked my email again before I left. Nothing. I knew she would be in the office today but wasn't sure what time. She has a young child and sometimes gets in later than planned. I had already saved the document to my thumb drive so I would have it with me where ever I happened to be when I was able to upload it. I also emailed it to myself at my school email and my personal email, just in case. So I drove to B-CS and went straight to the library to check my email. The first email listed was from her stating she deleted my first submission. Thank the Lord! I checked it one more time and submitted it. Yes, I said another prayer. Talk about relief. I'm still a little gitty inside but I know this will go away soon enough.

Today is my last day of class. I am really happy about that. I actually only have one class today, anthropology. My history professor gave us the day off to work on our papers. She's wonderful like that. Obviously I needed it. Sometimes I just put my head in my hands and shake it at myself. The rest of this week is work, catching up on reading for anthropology and outlining all the reading for the final next Wednesday. Then Friday I'm picking up my mom on the way to my sister's in Huntington for my niece's 5th birthday party this weekend. My dad will drive up Saturday for the party and my mom will ride back with him. I'm also going to try to test drive a vehicle or two this weekend with my sister and probably some of her kids in tow. Roger & I are trying to figure out what vehicle to buy when he gets home for good, hopefully in January or February. We'll need two vehicles when he returns since I'll have one semester of school left. I'm thinking a compact SUV and Roger wants us to also check out cross-overs. I figured out I don't want a car as I thought I did before. I've been driving our truck for the past four and a half years and have gotten used to the power and being higher off the ground. I've driven a couple of friends' cars in DC the last few times I was there and it drove me crazy. I do not like being that low. I also like the power in our truck but prefer fuel economy. So we've been reading Consumer Reports for recommendations and checking the government crash test ratings. It can be overwhelming. But I've been praying for the Lord to help us make the best decision and I have complete faith He will. If you know anything about Roger's purchasing habits and my research habits, I'm pretty sure the Lord has equipped us with the ability to make a good decision.

It's weird. I've been looking forward to this day the whole semester. But so far it's not the fireworks and champagne popping kind of day I thought it would be. Maybe after this class is over or next week after the final. I kept thinking I should do something to celebrate like indulge in a kolache for breakfast. I know, pretty lame. But I'll control myself and celebrate with birthday cake this weekend. Off to read...

Dec 3, 2007

Prayer Request: Mrs. Fore

A very dear family friend, Mrs. Regina Fore, had a stroke this afternoon (Monday, Dec 3rd) and was taken to St. Joseph's hospital. Mrs. Fore is a friend, sister, mother and grandmother to our family. She and her husband, Dan, are institutions in the Smetana Community. My mom and sister-in-law went to the hospital this afternoon and were able to see her and Mr. Fore and their daughter Gina. It may be too early to know a prognosis yet, but an MRI revealed a lot of blood on her brain. I will keep you posted on her condition. Please keep the Fore family in your prayers, praying for the Lord to meet all their needs during this time. Thank you.

Dec 1, 2007

Feeling Better

After meeting with a writing expert at the University Writing Center Friday morning, not only am I almost finished with my research paper, but I feel a lot better. She helped me rewrite my thesis to match my research and understand how to expand my qualitative analysis which were my two largest issues. Thursday night I was able to go through the whole document and correct the easy stuff. It wasn't a lot but I didn't want to waste time with her over silly things. It's funny, for a "writing expert" her spelling was awful. I didn't want to correct her out of respect but she finally mentioned her spelling was really bad and she depends on spell check. Reminds me of most accountants and their dependence on a calculator. But she was really nice and helpful. She's a graduate history student from Del Rio or somewhere close to the border. And of course, there was a fire alarm during my appointment so we had to evacuate the building. But while we were standing there waiting to be allowed back in, she & I talked about how she came to be in graduate school (couldn't get a job as a teacher) and her thesis topic (something to do with how home economics in schools affects people as adults and parents), which I thought was very interesting. Although most of my appointment time was lost to the fire alarm, she stayed as late as she could, but what we did get through helped me figure out the remaining questions I had planned to cover with her. I greatly appreciate her help and the fact that the university even has a writing center. More people should take advantage of it. The writing center consultants attend trainings for their position. I think it would be good to attend some trainings like that not just for future graduate school plans but also for work. Any improvement in writing would be beneficial in many areas. I'll look into that after I graduate next year.

But I am happy to be feeling better and not so worried. Now I can catch up on my anthropology reading and study earlier for my final so I can get an even better grade. I'm excited to be able to finally have the time to get to some personal reading also. I've been wanting to read Nehemiah for about two weeks now, but I might have to push it aside to read 1st Corinthians. Austin Stone is starting a new message series tomorrow so I'd like to read ahead a bit to be better prepared. Any Bible reading would be good for me.

Roger is at the 108th Army-Navy game today in Baltimore. Go Army! I hope he has a great time. He deserves it. And I hope he stays warm. It's 41 degrees with 27% humidity which feels like 36 degrees according to They were supposed to wear their uniforms and he was concerned because he does not have all the new ACU warm weather gear yet. But they were told yesterday that they could wear civilian clothes and they were getting some kind of jacket. I hope it's not another one of those huge leather Army jackets like he got when he was in the Navy hospital last year. It was way too big for Roger plus it's not really usable here in Texas. And I know this is ungrateful, but it was ugly. It was like a large leather high school letter jacket with really big appliques. I could see it in the inner city, but not in Austin, Texas. I think we may still have it in the tub of winter clothes in our attic or we gave it away to someone. I can't remember.

But he took his camera with him so he will probably get some great pictures and I'll ask him to post some. I don't know if this is also a Stripe assignment for him, but I'm sure they wouldn't mind some great pictures of the WTB (Warrior Transition Brigade) soldiers at the game. I was able to meet all the Stripe staff while I was there during Thanksgiving. They are really nice and care a lot about Roger. I'm glad he had them to lean on during this time and a productive, therapeutic way to spend his time there also. He's learned a lot and of course, his photography bug bite got deeper while he was there. I brought back a whole stack of newspapers with his pictures published in them. Although being separated from him this past seven months was hard at times, it really was a blessing for Roger to get more precise physical and occupational therapy and continued medical care. Plus all the cool things he got to do, people he got to meet and opportunities he would have never received. And it was a blessing for me to be able to concentrate on school this semester since it was a tough one.

Okay, enough sappy stuff. I'm off to run errands I haven't been able to do in weeks and months. I have a list! The best one of course is to return all my library books I used for my research paper. I'm really excited about that. Then I'll drive down the street and pick up some paint color samples for our spare bedroom. I'm really excited about that. I can't wait to paint the samples on the wall to help figure out what color we like best. I want to live with them for a while to see what grows on me. If I can wait for Roger, he'll have a say once he gets home for Christmas leave.

Nov 29, 2007

My Crazy Life

This is going to be a rapid fire, all over the place and long (sorry Steph) post. I'm feeling it today. I'm feeling overwhelmed and freaking out a little bit inside. I got back to Austin last night. Thought I'd be fine and be able to get back to the grind with no problems. I had so much to do last night that I went to sleep really late. But couldn't actually fall asleep. I guess my body got used to sleeping next to my husband. I just could not fall asleep until right before my alarm went off. Then I hit off instead of snooze so I overslept. I don't know how or why I woke up when I did on my own, but I'm glad I woke up at all. I usually get up around 6am and head out by 7am or 7:30am. I woke up at 8:30am! I was gone by 8:50am and arrived at school about 10:45am even after stopping at my favorite kolache bakery in Caldwell. And I didn't even speed too bad, only 4-5 mph over the speed limit where I could. I was starving since I didn't have time for breakfast and really needed some comfort food this morning. I know worldly things won't solve the problem, but it sure felt better as I was eating my favorite kolaches, poppy seed. Yes, that was plural. I had two! It's okay since I've lost 10 pounds this semester, probably from stress.

As I was approaching the parking lot I'm assigned to I could see both buses I can ride driving off. I only had to wait about five minutes for both the #1 Bonfire and #5 Bush School buses to arrive. I jumped on the #5 and arrived on campus with 15 minutes to walk to the building. I got to class on time but didn't have enough time to use the restroom. Thank goodness I didn't have to go too bad, like normal. Sorry. We covered problems people were having with their research paper and got our book reviews back before the professor left so we could do an evaluation. I am not happy with my grade, 79, C+. This is the first C I've made in this class. Of six assignments, I've made 3 A's, 2 B's and now this C. And I thought I did so well on it too. I was actually pretty pissed off about it.

After we finished our evaluations, five of us stayed in the classroom and discussed our disappointment with our grades on the book reviews which led to discussion about our final paper and overall grade in the class. Everyone else is graduating this December so they are freaking out more than me. One girl sat with me and helped me figure out my grade in the class so far. I have an 87.9, B+, which is not bad. I actually had no idea what my grade was because I had not calculated it. So I'm feeling a little better about that since it means if I make an 80 on my final paper, I'll make an 88.1 in the class. If I make a 70 on my final paper, I'll make an 84.8 in the class. AND if I make a 60 on my final paper, I'll make an 81.5 in the class. IF we calculated it all correctly. So I'd have to do really, really bad on my final paper to make below a B in this class. I know I have to make at least a C in the class since it's a class for my major, but I think I only need a C in it to keep my GPA above the minimum for my major.

I'm usually not a person who figures out the minimum I need to make on a test or paper to pass a class, but I do not want to take this class again or pay for it again. My other problem is I'm an overachiever and I care about my grade in this class and what my professor thinks about me. Although I have an "I don't care" attitude, deep, deep, deep down inside, I really do care. I wish I could be like that sometimes, but I can't. I wasn't raised that way. Darn hard-working, respectable parents of mine are to blame for that. SO I made an appointment for tomorrow morning and Sunday afternoon at the University Writing Center for help improving my paper. I'm going to spend tonight fixing all the little problems so I can use all of my 45 minute appointment with a writing expert on the bigger issues.

Once I turn in my final paper for my history class on Tuesday, December 4th by 5:00pm, I will finish reading two weeks worth of assignments for my anthropology class for the final on Wednesday, December 12th. While I was in DC our grades were posted for the third test in that class. I made an 83, B. I'm cool with that. I have an 88 so far in this class and I'm not worried at all about it or my final grade. Plus if I go to the local natural history museum, I can get two bonus points added to my final grade. So you know I'll be going to help my overall grade any way I can.

Now that I got all that off my chest, I feel better. Wow, this blog is good for something. Thanks for reading my ramblings. And thanks for all your prayers. I'll try to post this weekend if I get time about my wonderful time in DC with Roger. It really was a blessing to be with him especially when he received his MEB. I was so happy to be able to be there to see one step of the process and meet so many people that have helped Roger to get to this point and make it through this whole process. It was great to get to celebrate with him. I'll tell you more about it all when I get a chance. Until then...pray for me to make it through this next two weeks and keep praying for Roger to be able to come home to me soon. I love you all and appreciate your love and prayers so much. I hope you all know how much I do. :)

Nov 28, 2007

Me and Owen

I finally got a hold of the picture with me and my buddy Owen hanging out here at Walter Reed. Man, that sure a fun day! We talked about all kinds of stuff... me, him, LA, Austin, Willie. Ahhhh...the memories. They'll last forever. Call me soon Owen - we'll hang out again... for a few minutes. But this time, don't act like you don't know me, even though you really didn't. (Can you tell I'm in a better mood?)

Holly's back in Texas and I go back to my daily grind of Occupational, Physical and Aquatic Physical Therapy tomorrow. And I also get to toss in a bonus SCUBA lesson. Did I tell you I'm taking SCUBA lessons here for free? Yeah... all I'll have to do to get PADI certified is do my four check dives somewhere back home within one year and I'm certified - for life! Tomorrow is my third day in the pool.

Saturday I'm signed up to go to the Army/Navy Football game up in Baltimore. Walter Reed is taking up about one hundred soldiers for the day. It should be a lot of fun. Apparently we're going to get special treatment - whatever that is at a military function where there are 50,000 other people. And we will have to go in our uniforms to represent. I just don't have a whole lot of cold weather gear to go along with my uniform. But I hear we'll get some soon. Oh... my phone's ringing... I think it's Owen... hang on...

Eh - wrong number. Enjoy the nice fall weather! :-)
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Nov 27, 2007

MEB Done... on to the PEB

Well, Holly and I just met with my PEBLO and we were presented with my DA3947, or the finding of the MEB. They agreed with my thinking that there are three things that should be medically unacceptable: cancer, seizures and right-sided weakness. It looked good and I signed it. Now it will go to the PEB tomorrow. I got what I expected, so thank you for your prayers. I'll update you more later on about what's next.

Got The Call

Roger just got the call that his PEBLO wants to see him. We don't know if it's to tell him what the doctors decided or to tell him more paperwork is missing or needed. So please pray for us. We see him at 12:30pm. Please pray that we react in a Godly way no matter what news we receive. Thank you!

Nov 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Good morning beautiful people. And happy thanksgiving. I'm up early this morning getting all dolled up to go see the love of my life. My widget daily Bible scripture today is especially meaningful so I thought I'd share it below. I pray everyone has a wonderful day with family and friends. God bless.


I always thank God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. For in him you have been enriched in every way—in all your speaking and in all your knowledge—
1 Corinthians 1:4-5 (NIV)

If you're looking for some good Thanksgiving articles to read, this website has many to offer. A couple I really enjoyed were "Who'll Say Grace?" and "Don't Ask the Blessing, Offer One." Some of you need to read this one, "Overflowing with Thankfulness." Come on, you know who you are.

Nov 21, 2007

MEB Addendum Complete! Docs Make Decision on Mon?

After my last post, I continued to sit in the waiting room for about 15 minutes. My Neurologist came out and said he was done. He gave me my file and told me to go down to the medical boards office and ask them to process a particular case number that he wrote on a post-it. I hurried down to the office and told them what the doctor told me to say… and they were quite confused. First it took them a while to realize that I was in the Army. Uh, hello? My uniform says US Army! They then told me that he had indeed done a dictation and that it would not be available until sometime next week. Talk about your hopes being dashed. We called my Neurologist again to make he sure he understood what he was doing, and he said yes. It kinda ticked me off because he gave me the impression that he was going to put it in the computer, but he didn’t… he still dictated it. Well, whatever. I’m used to being run over all the time now, so I gave in, thanked him and filled out the required paperwork to route the finished product to me at WRAMC.

I decided to listen to my stomach and went to the cafeteria to get a bite to eat. As a soldier on medical hold with a meal card, I get to eat free there too. On the way to the cafeteria, I saw my Rad/Onc, Dr. Duelge. His wife and daughter were there too, it was nice to see him and to meet some of his family. After eating, I went back up to wait for the bus, which finally came after a few minutes and I was on my way back to WRAMC. But as the bus was driving off, I got a call on my mobile phone. It was the medical boards office. Somehow, the dictation was completed already! She needed my Neurologist to review and sign it and asked me for his phone number… I gladly gave it to her. She asked me to call her back when I got to WRAMC.

I called her immediately when I got off the bus and she said everything was good to go. I gave her my fax number and the fax number of the PEBLO and headed off to the PEBLO’s office. Upon arriving at the PEBLO’s office, I explained that they should be expecting a fax from NNMC and I wanted to make sure they received it. They told me to take a seat and I did. I was sitting for no more than a minute when my PEBLO came walking out of the office! I told him they were faxing over an addendum and he raced off to fetch it. A few minutes he came back with it in hand and I breathed a sigh of relief. Whew!!

He explained that all the MEB docs were gone but he would pass the paperwork to my MEB doc first thing Monday morning. He said that they should have a determination regarding which conditions are ratable and will go forward to the PEB. I will have 72 hours from the day I receive this form to either concur or nonconcur with the findings. If I agree, my case will move to the PEB and they will say that I am either ‘fit for duty’ or ‘not fit for duty’ and then assign a disability rating. If I agree with them and everything goes smoothly, there is a chance (just a chance) that I could be home for good before Christmas. I just glossed over how the system works. It is a confusing system with all sorts of rules and such. If you’re interested in learning just a little bit more about where we go from here, I suggest you check out this link regarding the Army Physical Disability Evaluation System (PDES).

Let me know if you have any questions by posting a comment or emailing me directly. This is what the last seven months here have been leading up to. This is also what the article in the Washington Post discussed earlier this year. I’m diving head first into all of this. I hope I can keep my head above water! Please pray that everything moves swiftly and easily… I would really like to go home soon.

Confusion Leading to the End?

I am sitting at the Naval Hospital in Bethesda waiting to see my Neurologist. Holly blogged yesterday that I was going to see my Neurosurgeon, but she was slightly off. I saw my Neurologist two weeks ago and at that time he answered all the additional questions that the MEB doctors had. In the past few weeks I have seen all the specialists involved in my care so that they could enter final notes into the system for my MEB. They call these addendums. I thought everything was done and I went to see the PEBLO (Physical Evaluation Board Liaison Officer), the guy that is the go between the MEB docs and everything else. He went into the system, printed out all the notes and said he would pass them to the MEB docs. I got a call a few hours later from my PEBLO and he said the MEB docs were ready to move forward with the process... Except for one thing. When I saw my Neurologist two weeks ago, he said he was going to dictate a new board. What that means is he would speak into a microphone all the new information and it would have to be transcribed and sent over to Walter Reed. Minimum time? About two to three weeks. So that would stop everything in it's tracks... Again. So, my question is why?

If he already answered all the questions... Why do this again? I already have a board dictated. Okay... Terminology break. When a doc dictates a board, the resulting document is called a Narrative Summary or NARSUM for short. A NARSUM initiates the Medical Evaluation Board process (MEB for short). From there it moves on to the Physical Evaluation Board or PEB. More on that when we get to it.

So, I already have a NARSUM. It was a very poorly written document and it was out of date. I told this to my Case Manager at the time and she said that was fine. That updated information could be added via these addendums. As far as I understand, all the addendums are in. But as I said, my Neurologist wants to dictate a new NARSUM. He asked to bring my old NARSUM, which I did. But I still don't understand why he couldn't ask the doc that did it in the first place since he's in the office next door! Talk about the right hand not talking to the left!

Anyway, I have no idea what's going on. The big question that I have today is, if all the questions the MEB docs were answered in the addendum, why does a new NARSUM have to be dictated?


Okay, he just called me back and said that he is going to enter the new information, whatever it is, into the electronic system - a new addendum. He says he's putting in a new NARSUM. Whatever. I think I better call and see if what he's doing is valid.

I just called my PEBLO and he said he just left me a voicemail! He said that he can enter a new NARSUM into the system and the docs can start on my case as early as Friday!


I will update you later on what exactly takes place the rest of the day. Looks like things might be moving along! :-)

Nov 20, 2007

Holiday Cards to Wounded and Recovering Soldiers

An email has been circulating asking people to send an extra Christmas card to 'Any Wounded Soldier' or 'A Recovering American Soldier' at Walter Reed Army Hospital. I asked Roger about it at the time but he was unaware of any issues or problems with addressing a card in that manner to the hospital. But today he heard something about it and sent me the link so I could let the people who sent it to me know that Walter Reed Army Hospital and the United States Postal Service can not accept mail addressed as such. The notice does give information on how you can support our troops and their families. So check it out by clicking on the link above if you are interested, but don't send an anonymous card to Walter Reed.

I finished my third anthropology test about an hour ago. I don't feel awful about it so I have no idea if I did good or bad. The grades might be out tomorrow. I'm in the library at A&M waiting to register for next semester. If I left and went home as usual after class, I would be half way through my drive when my time came up to register. I didn't want to take any chances getting the class I wanted. So I decided to hang out until it was my turn. A classmate in my anthropology class is an honor student so she gets first dibs and tried to register for a philosophy class on the first day of registration and it was already full. And it completely messed up her entire schedule for next semester. Since this is the only class I have to take for next semester and I really want to take this particular class, I'm not taking any chances of it being full. It would really be nice to take a class I would really enjoy my last semester of college. I also turned in my book review early Monday morning, so I'm done until I return from Thanksgiving holidays. I will be taking the reading assignment for my anthropology class to read on the flight home so I don't get behind. I'll also be dragging the lovely first draft of my research paper with me to review on the flight up. But I'll be bringing my travel Bible and a magazine with me too, just in case my research paper gets too boring and I need other distractions.

Well, we have one more day and a wake up before Roger & I are together again. We can't wait. We're both really excited. We have one adventure planned and not much else except church on Sunday and maybe a dinner with friends. Roger meets with his neurosurgeon tomorrow afternoon regarding his paper work. So please keep that & him in your prayers. Thanks.

Nov 17, 2007

CNN Article Everyone Should Read

I came across this article on, "Wounded warriors face home-front battle with VA." It made me completely mad and sad. Everyone needs to read this article to know exactly what's still happening to our injured soldiers when they return home. It's completely ridiculous. This is the same process Roger is going through so it hits home for me. Guess I'm a little connected to the issue and that's why it pushes me over the edge. I know even if Roger wasn't going through this process, I'd still be pissed off our soldiers are being treated like this. Make sure you watch the videos. They give a lot more insight into what these war heroes go through when they get back and what goes through their minds. It's crap like this that makes you wonder what the hell is going on in this country sometimes.

Nov 16, 2007

No News This Week

You know that saying, no news is good news? When it comes to the military, no news can be scary. Not that I'm surprised, but Roger did not hear anything regarding his case this week. That was a shot in the dark. The military actually do something efficiently? Ha! Anyway, it's being held up because his neurologist, Dr. Miller, wants to see Roger next Wednesday. And of course, he did not tell Roger why or anything else. So it's very strange and I'm wondering what he's up to or what he's doing. I'm sure Roger is wondering that too, but not trying to think about it too much so he doesn't go crazy until then. That's pretty much a weekly tactic for surviving Walter Reed. Dr. Miller is a peculiar bird so we have no idea what's going on. I assume, you know what that leads to, he wants to evaluate Roger against the updated reports and narrative summary which were supposed to have been submitted to the Board earlier this week. Dr. Miller could make or break him coming home sooner than later. So please keep praying for this situation. Thanks. Hope everyone has a great weekend.

Nov 15, 2007

First Draft Returned

Well, I got my first draft back today. Although I'm happy with the grade, 84, a B, I still have a lot of work to do. I got some really good feedback from the professor which will help me improve it in order to get a better grade on the final draft. I'm just a little overwhelmed by the work I have left. But I'm not going to start working on it until I get on the plane to DC next Thursday. Yes, I'm flying on Thanksgiving day. It's all I could get. I need to go through it page by page which I can do on the flight. Might as well make good use of my time. I always have my thumb drive with all my documents on it in case I need to work on my paper. And I can use Roger's laptop if I get time to work on it. But I doubt I will. That would actually be a pretty pathetic visit if I had time to work on my paper. I'd rather spend time with Roger and work by butt off when I get back. I can sleep when I die. So until then, I'll be spending this weekend catching up on my anthropology reading and outlining it all in preparation for the test Tuesday and writing my book review that's due on Wednesday. The semester's almost over, the semester's almost over, the semester's almost over...

Nov 13, 2007

Only One Class Left!!

I'm so excited! I met with the Anthropology advisor in between classes today and they are going to allow an anthropology class I took at junior college to substitute for a 200 level anthropology class at A&M which means I only have to take one class next semester to graduate in May. Yeah!! I have to take one 300-400 level anthropology class. As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I've decided to take Intro to Biblical Archaeology. I can't wait! Now all I have to do is make it through this semester. There are two and a half weeks left in school. I have an anthropology test next Tuesday, a 3 page scholarly book review due next Wednesday, the final draft of my 20 page research paper due Dec 4th and the final in my anthropology class on Dec 12. I only need C's in both of these classes although I am striving for A's. Please pray for God to give me wisdom, knowledge and understanding from the Holy Spirit.

Please also pray for Roger. He found out all his paperwork was submitted to the Board and there is a possibility he could have a decision from them maybe by the end of the week. If he agrees with their findings and is happy with the percentage of disability they offer, he won't have to go through the formal process and would start working on coming home. Which would be a lot sooner than we have been expecting with other events that happened recently. So please keep that in your prayers. I sure would love for him to be home as soon as possible. It's not fun at Walter Reed at all for him either.

Patience, joy and protection from the father of lies would help too. Thanks you guys. Love ya!

Nov 12, 2007

Weekend Update

Wow, time has flown by this weekend. So fast, I meant to blog on Friday but got distracted and forgot completely this weekend. So this is a little late.

I turned in the first draft of my 20 page research paper on Friday. Yeah! So glad to be done with that. We are supposed to get it back on Thursday, Nov 15th with feedback. The final is due Tuesday, Dec 4th. This is also the last day of classes. Praise the Lord! I'm so ready for this semester to be over. This has been a tough semester. When I was in college full time, I didn't have so many distractions so it was a lot easier. Hopefully next semester, my last!, will be a bit easier. I will find out tomorrow when I meet with the Anthropology advisor if I have to take one or two classes next Spring. Of course, I'm hoping for one, but we'll have to see if they'll substitute one of my junior college classes that's not fitting into my minor requirements. But I do know for sure I am going to take Introduction to Biblical Archaeology next semester. I can't wait. I'm really excited about it. I already reviewed the professor and the book we will be using and I'm even more excited about it. Both got great reviews. Finally college classes I will really enjoy.

So I did the Susan G. Komen race for the cure on Sunday. It was awesome. I had such an awesome time. I can't wait for next year. It's already set for November 2, 2008 and I plan to do it again. I woke up a little later than I wanted on Sunday morning. After waiting in line for a shuttle to the race, I didn't arrive until 8:00 a.m. Once I got off the shuttle and approached the race area, I knew I was never going to find my group. It was so crowded, I couldn't get through the crowd to where we were supposed to meet. And it turns out I would have never found them anyway because I couldn't locate the River tent because there wasn't one. So eager me decided to run to the front of the race and see if I saw them and if I didn't I'd go back and try to find them. Yeah, good intention, not a good plan. There were so many people there. By the time I got up to the front and of course, didn't find them and I was almost at the end. So I gave up trying and decided to keep enjoying the race. By then I stopped jogging and starting walking. There were so many groups of people supporting a loved one or friend. Everyone was having a good time. People are so funny and entertaining. There was a live band on the side performing, cheerleaders from local schools cheering all the way along, girl scout groups cheering and chanting "Early detection is the best prevention, I am the cure!" and even a group of dog lovers with their dogs cheering everyone on. It was great. After I finished and got some water and some sun chips and a soyjoy bar, I went back to the end to see if I could see my group come in. Of course, I didn't but I watched for a long time as people crossed the finish line. It was amazing. You could tell crossing the finish line was a big deal for the survivors. Their friends & family would cheer for them and someone would go ahead to take that milestone picture of them right at the line. It was inspiring and made me teary eyed at the same time. I'm telling you, everyone was having a great time. It was like a huge party. I posted my pictures on Flickr. I took a lot of pictures, most were blurry because I was moving. Sometimes I'd be in the moment of what ever was happening and forget to take a picture. And I'd think after, oh darn it, I should have taken a picture. It's hard to experience something though when you're looking through a camera. You miss the whole experience. So I forgot to take pictures going through the starting area. There was just so much going on and the atmosphere was on fire. It was truly unbelievable. So check out my pictures to the right or click on the link above.

Here are the stats from the race:
Race Participants: 21,057
On-line teams: 1063
Donations: $792,454.95
Registration fees and donations: $1,290,455.43

Not bad. I'll bug you all again next year in time for you to join me. It was a lot of fun. But next time, I'm not going to try to meet anyone at the race, but go there together. I did find two team mates right as I was about to leave. I was glad to at least meet two of them, especially Heather White, our fearless team leader. And they gave me the wonderful hat I was supposed to wear during the race. :)

Nov 8, 2007

31Oct MRI Looks Good

Just a quick post to update you on my MRI last week. Basically, it looks stable and possibly even better than the one three months ago. But this one was done in a different machine at a different hospital, so the differences may have contributed to that conclusion. There doesn't appear to be any new growth so things are good. All of my doctors and therapists are currently submitting new and up to date information to the MEB. I have no idea if that will slow things down or speed them up. With the holidays approaching, I get the feeling they will slow down, but who knows? Thanks for the prayers!! :-)

Nov 1, 2007

Free Breast Self-Exam Shower Card, A Video & Farewell

"As part of the three-step breast health approach, Susan G. Komen for the Cure recommends that beginning by age 20, women become familiar with the look and feel of their breasts through monthly breast self-examination (BSE). Komen for the Cure offers a variety of BSE cards in different languages and for specific populations. You can order a free BSE card."

Also, I came across this video online about a 60 mile 3 day walk for breast cancer: Makes 5K look like a walk in the park.

As for the farewell, I'm only saying good bye for one week. I'll return next Friday to post pics from the race and tell you how it went, after I turn in my 20 page research paper for my history class. 1.5 pages down, 18.5 to go! Pray for me!

Oct 31, 2007

MRI done and Published!

The MRI went fine this afternoon. I spoke to my Rad/Onc, Dr. Duelge, right before and we agreed that he would take a look at the scan tomorrow and if it looks fine, he wouldn’t need to give me a call. I’ll see him on Nov 6 anyway. He’ll only call me if there’s a problem, but we don’t think that will happen. And I’m going to get a copy of the scan tomorrow so I can see for myself.

I covered a story last week involving Miss Utah 2007 and her visit to the hospital to visit injured soldiers. She is an Army combat medic and really wanted to visit with them. We found out today that the story was picked up by the Army News Service and appeared as a press release and on the Army webpage. The article gives all the details about her, so be sure to read it. I wasn’t too sure about the picture because it seemed kind of dark, but I turned off the flash and just used the ambient light in the room. It gave a bit of a dramatic effect and lit up their faces quite nicely. Apparently the paper here sent them several pictures, but they liked the one on the page the best. It’s nice to see my work published elsewhere! Here’s the story: Miss Utah Visits Wounded Warriors.

Oct 30, 2007

MRI Oct 31 and BUSH!

First off… I have another follow-up MRI on Wed, Oct 31 at 4:15pm ET. Please pray that the cancer/tumor is still gone and that it never comes back. I’ll give you the results in a few days after I hear back from my Radiation/Oncologist.

Speaking of Rad/Onc, I was in the shoppette PX in the main hospital today after Aquatic Therapy and I saw one of the residents that helped treat me during my radiation at Bethesda, Dr. Smart. It was so good to see her again. She was so happy to see the progress I have made since she first met me back in May 2006. She remembers a guy with a bad limp and a cane. We walked and talked back to her office, which I pass almost every day, but I have never seen her even though she’s been here since January! I guess they don’t get out much – she said they don’t.

It’s been a pretty busy few weeks since I got back from leave. Let’s see… this week I met my new case manager. I was handed off to a temp case manager for a few weeks after my old one left. It turns out that my former case manager didn’t do as much as she could have done for me. I met with my temp case manager a few weeks ago and she had a lot of questions regarding why things in my case had not been initiated. Anyway, I’ll explain more later, but my temp took care of me and now I’m moving to a new one. He has ideas of his own. I know it sounds confusing, but I’ll sort it out here in a few days.

I’ve had five photo assignments since I got back and have been staying busy with that. Some weeks are busier than others. This week has been slow. I’ll eventually post pics of my work.

GCC Softball 2007 Week 1Before I went on leave I took pictures of our church’s softball team in action. We have two teams – one is good, one not so good. I've gotten lots of compliments on them. I'm really trying to learn different types of shooting. Sports is one of my favorites, but it is challenging and can get you dirty since you have to lay on the ground and stuff sometimes to get good shots. U usually end up shooting about 300 pics but only a few turn out to be usable. These are the best from this day. A lot of the pictures were also blurry, but I think blowing dirt and sand fro the infield was messing with the autofocus. Live and learn!

GCC Softball 2007Then when I got back, Amanda took pictures of me when I finally got the clearance to play after my finger fracture was healed! It sure was fun to play a competitive game again. Running at full speed was weird and it was hard to slow down. And we lost big time, but it was fun. I had two at bats and had two singles. I did score once from first and was left at first at the end of an inning. I played second base and was two for two at making outs at second base. It was quite fun! Click the picture to see more. Thanks to Amanda for the pictures.

Last week, 20 injured soldiers were invited to visit the White House. The President was in CA dealing with the wildfires, and the First Lady was in the Middle East, so we didn’t expect to see them there. The staff at the White House was so very kind to us. They allowed our bus drive into the south lawn and right up to the south entrance where the President comes and goes. After we got off the bus, the First Dogs, Barney and Miss Beazley were scampering about. They were both cute and very friendly. We got the typical tour that most people get: The great room, the blue, green and red rooms, the dining room and the library and sitting rooms. The Secret Service tour guides took their time and allowed us to move gingerly from room to room. They invited us to sit in the furniture and touch the fabrics. We had soldiers in wheelchairs so we couldn’t move at lightning speed anyway. They let us ask all the questions we wanted and then they took us back down into the receiving room while we waited for our bus to return. There was a room off to the left that held many examples of each President’s choices for china over the years – it was very interesting. I didn’t bring my camera since I was tired and didn’t want to lug it around. Boy, I wish I had by the end of the day…

We milled around the room for quite a while and they handed each of us gift bags containing some souvenirs. I made small talk with one of the guides and then another agent announced that we may have been wondering why they were delaying us. At this point I thought we were just waiting for the bus. He continued to say that there was someone here that wanted to meet us all. I couldn’t figure out who it was. He continued to tell us that former President Bush wanted to greet us. At that point we were all a bit frazzled. What?!? Now? The room fell silent and we looked toward the door. I was at the far end of the room and was certain to be left out as I’m sure he couldn’t stay long and would have to move on. We could see him out under the awning shaking hands and talking to every staff member he met. He finally came into the room and said hello to everyone and immediately turned to the first soldier and asked his name, hometown, injury, how he was feeling, and then another question if he felt so inclined. He also allowed the person to take a picture with him. He also greeted every family member that was there. He did this again and again to every single person in the room along the carpet. He moved from his left to his right and back to his left, but he made it a point to meet with each and every one of us, including me. He was taller than I had imagined. He gave me a firm handshake and asked me the same questions. I was a bit distracted by a photographer that had appeared to my left who shot off several pictures in rapid succession. The President asked me what my injury was and I told him I had a brain tumor. I remember that he froze for a second and looked me right in the eye. Then he asked how I was doing. I explained to him all the circumstances that I have battled through and he smiled and shook my hand again and asked if we could take a picture. The person I asked to take a picture of us was out of sight, so I struggled to find someone else while I stood there with my arm around him and his around mine. The White House photographer said he would get me a copy, but I know how they work. A print would be sent to me in the future. I wanted digital gratification! I found someone to take the picture and then I thanked him for his time.

Presidential MeetingWe were all quite awestruck and impressed that he wanted to meet every single one of us. When I got back to my room, I had an email from the Lance Armstrong Foundation that said Former President Bush had the Lance Armstrong Foundation in Urging Texans to Vote for a new Cancer-Fighting Measure two days before. I wish I knew that – I would have liked to thank him personally for doing that. Read the full press release here: LAF Presidential Meeting.

And, I wish I had brought my camera. I’m still waiting for the pic of us to me emailed to me, if ever. I’ll post it as soon as I get it. Well, that’s it for this installment. Remember my MRI Wednesday!

Oct 27, 2007

Komen Race Goal Met 100%!!

You did it! The River Pink Patrol has met it's goal. With my good friend Stephanie's donation, we're actually over the goal. Awesome!! In less than one week, you have met and exceeded my expectations. And to think I wasn't going to do the fundraising part of it at all. I am so glad I did. Up to 75% of the donations received stay in the local area, Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis and Williamson counties to fund breast cancer screening, education and treatment. The remaining supports the Komen for the Cure Award and Research Grant Program, which funds groundbreaking breast cancer research, meritorious awards and educational and scientific programs around the world.

I just wanted to say thanks to the following people for donating: Amy Wise, Ira Goodsaid, Landon Russell, Janine Slee & Aaron Moeller, Marie Han, Nancy Sirivanakarn, Kristian Earle & family, Erica Jin, Anne Doll & family, and Stephanie Gage.

To let you know a little bit about a few of the folks that have given: Marie walked 30 miles in Atlanta in September! with her team the Sunny Side Ups in the Atlanta 2-Day Walk for Breast Cancer, Anne lost her mother when she was ten years old to breast cancer and her husband Jamie's mother Jackie is currently battling breast cancer. And I'm sure others are touched by cancer in one way or another through family & friends. Please pray for Jackie and her family and for my friend Matt and his family who lost their mother September 30th to breast cancer.

If you are a woman with no insurance, is under-insured or can’t afford the co-pays of your insurance company, Komen Austin has providers that you can see to get a free or low cost mammogram, clinical exam or both. They also have information about financial assitance during treatment and support groups. Please, if you're a woman of any age, perform monthly breast self examinations. Early detection is our best weapon in the fight against breast cancer.

There's still time to donate, but please don't feel obligated. I'm super happy with what you've given already. But you know I'll take more if you want to give. Click the link below and click on "Support Holly!"

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!

Oct 25, 2007

Absolutely Amazing!

This morning on my drive to class, I heard Heather on the River 102.3FM, the Pink Patrol's fearless leader, discussing the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure event and she mentioned that our team was only $5 short of our goal. I was like, what, awesome! I hadn't checked the website since Tuesday morning so I wasn't aware of the progress. That's amazing progress in only four days. Then she mentioned that one member, Holly, had basically collected all of it. I was like, oh, that's me. That actually means you! Your donations have brought our team to it's goal. I want you to know how much I greatly appreciate all of the donations. Your donation is used for breast cancer education, screening, treatment programs and research. For example, screening programs include providing mammograms to women who otherwise couldn't afford them. This is a major part in the fight against this disease since early detection is the best weapon against breast cancer!

Heather's partner in crime, Gary, added maybe the team should increase its goal to $1000. That would be awesome. I just want all of you to know how deeply I feel your love and compassion for those affected by this horrible disease. So many of us are touched by cancer through family and friends.

Thank you so much.

Oct 22, 2007

Holy cow!

Since I published the last post below, my good ole buddy Ira, from GCC donated, completely meeting my goal. Whew-hoo! Now I really have to increase it. Isn't that awesome! Thanks so much for the support. I'll keep the blog updated with my goal progress.

At first I felt really ambitious and increased it to $500. But of course, that scared me and I thought I can't put the same amount as the team goal. So I lowered it to $300 thinking if it gets up near the team's goal, then I'll increase it. Then I thought, you know, that sounds like lukewarm faith to me. So I am going back and changing it to $500.

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and
certain of what we do not see. Hebrews 11: 1

I'm so excited! And I just can't hide it!

I'm not about to lose control, but I think I like it, like it. Okay, I'm the world's biggest dork. That's okay and I'm on my way! Alright, enough silliness. I sound like an ad for anti-depression medication. I do have a few things to be joyful about. Okay, to be honest, I have many things to be joyful about but a few in particular this morning are...

Fall is here! Okay, at least for a week. Texas weather is so unpredictable. This is probably short lived and it'll be back in the 90's next week, but I'm going to enjoy the change of weather while it's here. And I love this kind of weather. Okay, after 44 straight days of it, it would get old, but for us Texans who are used to heat and humidity for 10 months of the year, we'll take any change sometimes. A storm came in this morning around 3:00 a.m. I know, I was awake. First came the pouring rain and then the wind brought in the cool temperatures. I woke up this morning about 6:30-ish listening to the rain soaked streets and the wind gusts. After I laid there a while enjoying the sounds, it's hard to get out of bed when it's like that, I had to know what the temperature was, 51 degrees. So nice. It's invigorating. Sustained winds of 25 to 35 mph with gusts to near 40 mph help too. That my dear friends is called a wind advisory. Please be careful on the roads in all your SUVs and trucks, aka high profile vehicles. Glad I'm not driving to B-CS until Tuesday when it'll be back up to the 70s with lows in the high 40s and 50s. Fall or autumn here in Texas means we have to wear a small jacket or sweatshirt in the morning, maybe jeans for us wimps, take it all off during the day when it gets back up in the 80s and 90s and put it all back on as the sun goes down. It'll probably be this way until late December, maybe mid-January. Then winter! Two whole days of it. :)

I'm glad I'm up to enjoy all of this. It also means I'm on the road to getting my sleeping schedule back to normal. Once Roger left it got all out of whack. I'm tired all the time, but I can't seem to get sleepy enough to go to bed. I'm busy reading and studying last week and trying to get everything done. I've been trying to get up early the past few days so I can stay up all day and be really tired at night to get back to a normal schedule. But it's hard. Now I'm on the road to recovery.

I'm also excited because I received my first Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure donation this morning! Yeah!! That made me dance inside (visions of Amanda freakishly signing jump-for-joy-inside come to my head). And it brought a bigger smile to my face to read the message with the donation, "Because I love you." Oh, my aunt Amy, aka my fairy godmother, is so sweet. I'm sure she'd prefer I not mention it here, but I have to give a shout out to my peeps.

This brings me halfway to my fundraising goal. And you know what that means, I need to increase my goal! This was also the first donation so far for the River 102.3FM Pink Patrol. So keep those donations coming. I have to represent. Thank you!!!

Oct 21, 2007

Race for the Cure

I really needed to "do" something (like I'm not doing anything,, classes, work, reading, studying, researching, writing, housework, yardwork, trying to exercise, lots of praying!). But I was starting to feel unmotivated in response to my situational depression. And I know when I get like this, I need something to pick me up. Since I don't have time to paint the spare bedroom, work on my family tree research, put flooring in the attic, organize the garage and pantry, replace the crepe myrtles in my back flowerbed, extend the front flowerbed or anything I'd like to do, I needed to do something that would do the trick but not take too much time away from my reading, studying and researching. While I was driving to church this afternoon I heard a PSA for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure and the River's morning show female DJ, Heather, created a team. So I decided to join it. So I'll be walking in the race with the woman who keeps me smiling and laughing in Austin's horrific morning traffic on Sunday, November 4th at 8:00 a.m.

If you'd like to donate click on the logo above and click the "Support Holly" link under my picture. If you'd like to join me, click on the logo above and click the "River Pink Patrol" link under my picture. Guys are welcome to join us. And no, you don't have to wear pink, unless you want to. :)

Oct 19, 2007

Whew! Test 2 is over.

It's been one crazy week. Once Roger left I had to hussle this weekend to get caught up with all the reading for both of my classes plus write a paper for my history class and study for my anthropology test. I didn't go into the test on Thursday feeling good. I felt like I needed another day to prepare but I didn't have a another day. And after I finished it I felt the same. There was a lot of material on this exam and it wasn't easy material to remember. Just to list a few things: we had to know all the traits of, physical and behavioral differences between and the history of the appearance for each species in the genus of Australopithecines and Homo; the characteristics of each era, period and epoch of time from the Pre-Cambrian to the present; plus all the traits and differences of each taxonomic order (phylum, subphylum, superclass, class, order, suborder, infraclass, superfamily, subfamily, genus, species) of primates and what they aren't; plus a bunch of other stuff. It was just a lot to remember. I was quite worried about my grade.

But today we received the email from the teaching assistant that the grades were up. He explained they dropped the two most missed questions and applied a curve. There are two possible curves for each exam: (1) Subtract the highest grade from 100 and add the difference, or (2) subtract the raw average from 75 and add the difference. The highest raw score was 86 (+14). The raw average was 56 (+19). Therefore, 19 points were added to every grade. So I rushed to see what I made. My final grade after the curve was a 92. I was shocked. I couldn't believe it then I had to know what my real grade was, 73. That's how I felt about my grade after I took the test. I know this is going to sound mean, but thank goodness so many people did so bad on the test because it made the curve larger and my grade higher. This is going to sound really bad, but it seems like me doing good in this class depends on others doing not so good. I know, that's so sad. But I'm ready to get back to my normal schedule and stay up with my reading. And Roger's not here to distract me. Oh, also, I made a 93 and a 92 on my last two history papers. So I'm doing good in that class. Not a surprise that history is my major. Two more tests in anthropology and three more papers in history. I'm off to read some anthropology homework. That's my Friday night.