* Victory before the victory

What on earth is ‘victory before the victory?’ Is it systemic cheating as featured in the movie Bad Genius? Is it positive self-talk? A new type of name-it-claim-it hysteria?

No, no, and no. Thank you, Kendrick: victory before the victory is a faith-based moment (or even years) when I praise God without knowing the outcome. For me, it’s giving over but not giving up. Praising Him no matter how miserable things look.

I had a serious knee injury at school that left me in a wheelchair for years. I HATED being in a wheelchair (although I did love racing through the hallways). I couldn’t walk more than 20-30 feet on my own. After the first year of despair and much prayer, I said, “Jesus, you bought my body with your own. This is your knee so it’s your problem. I want to be healed but if I must live this way, it’s up to you to keep me. Keep me from bitterness and angst and despair.” I should have added, “And impatience!”

Despite knowing that this was His knee, I perpetually complained about the school wheelchair and grocery store wheelchairs and being below eye level and people staring at me and people asking me how I was doing and people thinking I was healed because I could walk a short distance. I was bugged by relentless kids who said said, “Aha! I saw you standing up!” And I was bugged when I got my wheelchair stuck between tables in the cafeteria. Duh!

But I was content with the disability, even if getting around was a hassle. If this is how things were going to be, God was still in charge and promised to work it for good. Not my problem to fix.

My dearest teaching widower (DTW) and I made three annual trips to the beach after my injury and surgery. My DTW tried to pushed me through the sand the first time and was smart enough to realize that wouldn’t work the next time.

On the third trip, I decided to make it to the stairs by myself. He asked, “Are you sure you want to do this?” I was a bit grouchy as I explained that I couldn’t go too far! Duh!

So I made it to the sand. Very slowly. I walked 30 feet, then 50. I called my DTW and said, “Uh, I can walk!” He asked if I wanted him to come with the wheelchair. He cautioned me to call immediately if I collapsed. I kept walking. I called him back after I’d walked a quarter of a mile and over his objections, I walked another quarter mile with a big smile on my face. Miraculous!

Yeah, God is still working on my impatience. Duh!

* TToT: welcome to my neighborhood

Thanks to Kristi and friends for hosting the weekly Ten Things of Thankful blogging challenge. I’m a tad late but happy to share news from my world.

(#1) I’m so grateful that my dearest teaching widower (DTW) is back from New Orleans! I’m always discombobulated while he’s gone. I’m also wildly proud of him: He does so much to advance his field of child forensic interviews. Giving hurt kids a voice is HUGE.

(#2) During my DTW’s absence, I was both fascinated and annoyed with the bucks who roamed our neighborhood. Despite all the deer repellent I’ve sprayed lately, two big boys chased one another around our house. I managed to get a photo of one and then spotted a younger buck down the street (#4).

(#5) I have enjoyed walks around the neighborhood, carrying my phone for quick photos. This week I had an eye exam and was told I have “short eyes.” So grateful I also have long legs (#4). I don’t enjoy the pupil dilating drops but look how cool that is! Zombieland? (#6)

(#7) My Fantasy League experience has been much better than last year! Sadly, I am on the losing side right now, but we’ll see…. (Does that mean I’m back at #6?)

#8, #9, and #10: Thanks to clarkscottroger‘s Secret Rules (1.3?) which allow me to sink into gratitude for completing this challenge! Whew! See you next weekend, TToT’-ers.

* TToT: pebbles in my mouth

I can take my inspiration from Messy Mimi’s Meanderings for this week’s Ten Things of Thankful. It seems that we both had our struggles! Like right now, I cannot get the L in Thankful to join the rest of that link. I’d better go ahead with my list before I chuck the computer. I’ve numbered my ten things for which I’m thankful, just in case you can’t find them.

I wrote the book on how NOT to survive a trip to the emergency room. I thought I would do better the last time around. I took a nut mix (no, not me and my dearest teaching widower) plus water for the long night. [#1] I was relieved that its packaging did not set off the metal detector. [#2] In the end, though, my teeth were to blame for what happened. Sort of.

While trail mix may be delicious, you can’t just pour it down your throat. Of course, you are in the ER, so you’ll get medical attention [#3] about an hour after you choke to death. But your fingers must come in contact with the food, assuming you haven’t accidentally (or on purpose) chopped off your digits.

Everything in the ER is contaminated, including your pinkies, so the best policy is to wash your hands until they are bleeding. There was still some risk, but around 2 AM, I dug into my nut mix. [4] However, I have these tight-fisted teeth, the kind of molars that trap every irritating particle. I needed a toothpick, but you saw how the Swiss Army knife worked out on our last visit. I kept telling myself not to touch my teeth. [5] After a couple of hours, those nut scraps felt like pebbles in my mouth. It took all my willpower not to dig them out. [6 & 7]

Fast forward to a nearby person (uncomfortably close to the edge of our bed) waiting for his spouse to get medical care for her puking digestive issues. For some reason, he kept shaking our bloody hands! He crawled on the floor to hunt for his missing phone and then held out his hand. Again! So I used more hand sanitizer and then braved the nasty bathroom for additional scrubbing. [8]

And on my way back to my dearest widower, I did it. I plucked an offending nut from my teeth.

I got sick. I got really cranky. I got better. [9] My dearest teaching widower asked me today how I was feeling about retirement. [10] I growled.

* Do you feel like hurting yourself?

That’s the first question we get during our intake at the ER. No matter what. My dearest teaching widower had another medical emergency so it was Round Four. The follow up question is: “Do you feel like harming someone else?” I felt like killing someone as I pictured the interminable night ahead of us. The nurse stared at me as I stifled giggles.

No matter how you feel upon your arrival, the ER ‘rooms’ are cleverly designed to drive you crazy. Every hallway has been partitioned into these spaces where we listen to the intimate details of others’ misery. Some poor woman groaned for about two hours, begging someone to stop. A neighboring roommate talked incessantly to us about burial plots for several more hours. I tried to read but I kept hearing, “Do you have a history of vomiting at work?”

Eventually we were offered a choice, a no-brainer, really. Did we want to stay in the hospital for two more days or go home and come back. See ya later, alligator!

* Not the sharpest blade….

My dearest teaching widower has heart disease and so we’ve spent our fair share of time in the ER. Our current visit has been long and we’re dealing with a new medical issue now.

And then there was the issue of me being a threat to public safety. With my Swiss Army knife. I didn’t realize it was in my backpack when we got here but the X-ray machine caught it. I rambled on to reassure them I wasn’t a danger to anyone except myself (I had sliced my thumb trying to open all the gadgets). They stared at me while I explained I’d been a Girl Scout/Girl Guide and always wanted another special knife. Eventually a police officer showed me doodads on my weapon that I didn’t know I had! Who knew there was a toothpick? Or tweezers? Of course, they confiscated it but concluded I was harmless and certainly not as sharp as my blade….

* TToT: my week

I’m joining a blogging challenge to share Ten Things for which I’m thankful this week. Here we go!

1. My stitches were removed from the finger I nearly lopped off almost 2 weeks ago. Whew! Glad to be on the mend.

2. This bunny friend comes daily to feast in our overgrown yard. He’s adorable!

3. Speaking of animals, oh say can see our patriotic deer? Thankfully, this one is in a neighbor’s yard.

4. The smoker my dearest widower won for Father’s Day was full of water and rust when we opened it yesterday. And it still worked! Here’s why the water got in. Not thankful for Dorian.

This photo was taken from the inside of the cover.

5. I prepared a rockin’ potato salad today! Thankful to Gimme Some Oven for the recipe.

And following ClarkScottRoger’s awesome book of rules, numbers 6- 9 are open for someone else to contribute! PLEASE!

As for number 10, I am grateful for my new, mostly-retired status: just hangin’ around!

* I can’t hear you!

Yes, I wear hearing aids. A teaching assistant and I both lost our hearing after more than a year of daily testing a kiddo’s hearing aids without proper equipment. The student would end up with a cochlear transplant and we ended up saying, “Huh?” By the time the district finally hired a hearing specialist, it was too late.

So, a couple of weeks ago, I was tutoring a young fellow on a Monday and was distracted by my itchy ear. I ran my finger along the hearing aid to make sure it wasn’t falling off. No problem there. The itchiness continued and I developed cold symptoms. I felt miserable: low grade fever, ear ache, runny nose, sore throat, worsening congestion. While taking a shower on Wednesday, I rubbed my sore ear and felt something move! Yikes! I quickly aimed a spray of water into my ear and although it hurt, no critter crawled out. Whew!

Because my dearest teaching widower was tired of me yelling, “What??” I decided to try my hearing aids again on Friday. I noticed that the dome was missing from one hearing aid but figured it had fallen off somewhere. Duh. You know where it was, right?

As I forced that hearing aid into my ear (DUH!), I yelped in pain as the previously ‘lost’ dome pressed against my eardrum. After a few hours of panic at the ENT, the errant click dome was retrieved and I was taught how to attach it properly.

I had to laugh as I overheard a nurse asking, “How did she get a COMB in her ear?” Huh? What’s that?

* TToT: miracles

Ten Things of Thankful is a great weekend post, a celebration of the good stuff. I have a lot of that good stuff, so let’s go!

  1. I’m able to walk! I was in a wheelchair for 2.5 years and could not stand for long and could walk only about 30 feet. God answered prayers while we were at the beach in 2011. I enjoyed a walk just now. On my own two feet! I don’t take that for granted anymore.
  2. I have two ugly feet but as a PT told me, the folks with prosthetics for feet would give anything to have my ‘ugly’ tootsies.
  3. I could have chopped off my finger or hand last week while cutting hedges. Or worse. I’m grateful for all 10 fingers.
  4. I could be paralyzed (or in heaven) after a serious horseback riding accident. I only suffered some mild brain damage, which is less evident with spell check and word suggestions.
  5. Our son helped us with taxes today, exhibiting patience that he did not inherit from me! My dearest teaching widower is sooo patient!
  6. through 9. We have air conditioning, hot running water, a wonderful house, and a peaceful neighborhood.
[While we were at the beach, my dearest teaching widower and I had these “opposites” for glasses. That’s a reflection of how we are, with me always tilting off in some direction and him always steady. (But that’s his margarita!) I love him dearly.]

10. We are saved and loved by Jesus, so our lives are in perfect hands. No matter what happens, this is the worst it gets for Christ-followers. One moment with Him is worth a trillion of anything else. Christopher likes to play the “What would you do for all the money in the world?” game. I used to think all the money in the world was a great idea. Now I realize there are so many other, better things! What about you?

* Noom

Noom is a weight loss program using behavior changes, realistic goals, and an individualized support system. Research suggests it is an effective approach (and its stats are booming). Noom has a well-designed app, making it simpler to log weight, exercise, and food, ask questions, etc. I easily synced the Noom app with my Fitbit instead of tracking steps through my phone.

I participated in a brief trial to see how it works (my hedge-cutting adventure brought that to an abrupt end!). You can start for free or select a price you’re willing to pay. I was able to cancel instantly with no hassle. They offer a wide range of ongoing programs, including one for Noomoms. Great Noos! You can nominate a mom who’s given birth in the last two years to receive a free year-long program with Noom!

Noom starts you off with a lot of info gathering so that their support matches your needs. As a teacher, I appreciate their pre-assessment and efforts to understand how I respond to feedback. Support is a big key to this program. Two coaches immediately contacted me and I was going to be assigned to a group with similar weight goals and preferences.

Noom emphasizes the slow and steady approach to weight loss. The types of behavior they encourage include greater awareness of eating habits, a no-shame approach to missteps, accountability at a comfortable level (based on your feedback), and color-coding caloric density of foods.

Given my current weight and use of FitBit, I really don’t need Noom but I kinda wish my dearest teaching widower would show some interest in logging food and tracking his exercise. Noom makes it VERY easy to log food, dear man. If you are looking to start serious weight loss, I would definitely recommend Noom. Did you hear that?

* Sci-fi thoughts (1)

These are really my dearest teaching widower’s ruminations on flashlights, but he hasn’t copyrighted them, so here goes. As movie aficionados, we both see plenty of sci-fi movies where the actors venture into a scary scenario, somewhere dark and cave-like. It could be another planet or another century. What do theses scenes all have in common? Pitiful flashlights that only allow a sliver of illumination, despite having access to time machines or body shifting or whatever.

When we were at the beach, my widower pointed out the above “sci-fi” scene.

I had never even thought about it until our trip this week, but he’s right! For some reason, flashlight technology remains the same across universes and time travel and warp speeds. Crazy, right? But this tech glitch keeps us on the edge of our seats, knowing there is an alien just ready to jump out of the darkness. Perhaps it’s for the best if filmmakers don’t worry about these antique light sources….