Monday, August 31, 2009

A fun weekend...

On Saturday afternoon I went to a barbecue in the park with my friends. We were originally planning on going to Cliff Cave Park, but the pavilion had been reserved for a party, so we went to Jefferson Barracks Park instead. The weather was beautiful and lots of people had the same idea as my friends and I did because both parks were full of people who were enjoying the afternoon. My friends threw a football around while our hamburgers and brats cooked. After dinner we had s’mores... my favorite! (It’s just too bad that they are so messy!)
After our barbecue we went bowling at Moolah because a friend had two free hours of bowling. (Moolah is a wonderful place in St. Louis where you can watch movies while sitting on leather couches. Then on the bottom floor of the building there is an eight lane bowling alley.) I appreciated that it was small because it was less noisy and crowded.
Then on Sunday I invited my friend Nate over for dinner. We had taco salads and ice cream sundaes... both are so good! After dinner we sat outside, but since it was an unseasonably cool August evening I went in early because I didn’t want to get to cold. (The high for the day was only 68!) I love having dinner with my friends!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Stick of gum, anyone?!

When I was in seventh grade I started my own little business to make some extra money. I'm not exactly sure how it started, but I sold gum to my classmates in my seventh hour science class... one stick of gum for a quarter. I don't know what was wrong with my classmates, because they actually bought it! They would seek me out and ask if I had any gum. The price was highway robbery, but if they were willing to pay $.25 for one piece of gum, then I didn't feel bad charging it! I actually made about $7 a week, which seemed like a lot to me, and helped supplement my small allowance.

My first day of kindergarten

It's back-to-school time again and I've been hearing a lot about parents sending their kids off to kindergarten. I remember my first day of kindergarten pretty well. The school I went to had half day kindergarten, and I was in the afternoon class. It was a hot, humid day, and my bus was over an hour late.
Above is a picture of me on my first day of kindergarten. My sister Chandra always laughs when she sees this picture. I've asked her why, and she just says that I look funny. Below is my kindergarten picture.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

More favorite music...

I wasn't sure what to write about today, so I wanted to share a few more of my favorite songs. These songs don't fall into one specific genre, so it's more of a jumbled collaboration of awesome songs! (I highly recommend checking them out on YouTube if you aren't familiar with them!)

Relatively Recent Songs:
-- 21 Guns by Green Day
-- Say (All I Need) by OneRepublic
-- Heartless by Kris Allen
-- Almost Lover by A Fine Frenzy
-- Love Hurts by Incubus
-- Mad World by Adam Lambert
-- Never Gonna Be Alone by Nickelback
-- Come Back to Me by David Cook
-- Call My Name by Daughtry
-- New Divide by Linkin Park
-- Broken by Lifehouse
-- I'd Come for You by Nickelback
-- Already Gone by Kelly Clarkson
-- I mean huge fan of Nickelback, Lifehouse and 3 Doors Down!

Older Songs:
-- This Ain't a Love Song by Bon Jovi
-- Here I Am by Bryan Adams
-- When You Love a Woman by Journey
-- I Want to Know What Love Is by Foreigner
-- Always by Bon Jovi
-- Total Eclipse of the Heart by Bonnie Tyler
-- Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman by Bryan Adams
-- I Just Died in Your Arms by Cutting Crew
-- pretty much anything by Air Supply

There are actually so many great songs that it's really hard to narrow my faves down... but these are a few songs that are SO good! I promise I won't keep posting about music, but I just had to include these songs!

Organizing my closet

This morning my mom was helping me organize my closet. I've always been a very clean and organized person, so I appreciated her helping me get things cleaned up to my standard. (I tend to start feeling a little stressed out when there is clutter and disorganization around me!)

My room isn't exactly large, and I've got lots of stuff to keep track of. I like to know right where everything is, especially since I can't get get up and go look for it.

I've always loved stuff that helps keep things organized. I recently saw an infomercial on TV for these Wonder Hangers (I can't remember if that's the correct name or not, but it's something like that). I know that Walgreens has a huge selection of "as seen on TV" products, and sure enough they had the Wonder Hangers. (And they were a really good deal... $10 for eight Wonder Hangers which each hold five hangers.)

I'm the kind of person that likes all of my clothing evenly spaced in the closet, so these Wonder Hangers are great for that. They also collapse and give you the option to hang your clothes vertically if you want to hang them that way to save space. What an awesome find!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

My favorite music...

I love music so much and I'm almost always listening to something, or at least I have a song going through my head. I have a large library of songs on iTunes (about 1500 songs). The reason for this post is because I enjoy hearing what music other people enjoying listening to because I think it says a lot about their personality and who they are. That being said, I will take a few minutes to write a little bit about my music preferences.

First of all, I like most music relatively well, but if I had to narrow down my favorite music into one genre it would have to be love songs. I love love songs! I also like pop, soft rock and a little bit of country (but not much). When people ask my favorite bands and singers, it's really difficult for me to narrow the field down, so I'm going to try to keep it to my top three.

I think Elton John is my favorite singer. He has such awesome songs, he plays the piano so well (something I always wished I would've learned) and he has a really unique voice. My favorite Elton John songs are:
-- Sacrifice
-- Blessed
-- Something about The Way You Look Tonight
-- Original Sin
-- I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues
-- Your Song
-- Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

Celine Dion is my number two. She has an incredible voice and so many awesome hits, but again, here is my short list of faves.
-- To Love You More
-- I Surrender
-- I'm Alive
-- A New Day Has Come
-- It's All Coming Back to Me Now
-- Tell Him (duet with Barbara Streisand)
-- Then You Look at Me
-- I Know What Love Is

Phil Collins completes my top three, although there are so many others that I love so much. He sings one of my favorite songs of all time, so I'll start with that one:
-- Against All Odds
-- Groovy Kind of Love (it's a remake, but who cares because I like his version!)
-- Another Day in Paradise
-- One More Night
-- Can't Stop Loving You

I know I could go on and on, but IF anyone is reading this post, I don't want to bore them to death with what MY favorites are! (Although, I would be interested in what other peoples' favorite singers/songs are.)

Monday, August 24, 2009

School days

I've always loved this time of year when the temperature gets cooler and the days get shorter. I appreciate the cooler temperatures, and this kind of weather always reminds me of when I was in school and I could start wearing my new back-to-school clothes!

I always liked being in school relatively well, but I'd have to say that my favorite time in school was when I started nursing school in August of 2003. I had long days (8 - 4:30), but I loved it! I loved what I was learning, and the prospect of a future taking care of people excited me. I loved school and I was glad that I finally figured out what I wanted to be "when I grew up." (When I graduated high school in 2002 I still didn't know what I wanted to study (that was a discouraging feeling), but after a year at UMSL I finally figured it out.

I wasn't exactly sure what kind of nurse I wanted to be, but I was pretty sure I wanted to work as a labor and delivery nurse. However, after my accident I thought it would be fulfilling to work in a trauma unit, though, like the ICU. I think I would've been good in either of these positions.

When I think of nursing school and what might have been, I can't help but feel a twinge of sadness. I'm very happy and content with my life, but I wonder what it would have been like to finish nursing school and work as a nurse. I wonder if I would be a good nurse. I sure hope so! I know that I am much more compassionate now because of my experiences, but I really hope that I would have been a kind, compassionate and knowledgeable nurse!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Family dynamics, part 2

I mentioned my two younger sisters in my other family dynamics post. They are both adopted. My parents got into foster care in the late 80's when I was about 4. My parents cared for children who had special medical needs. Laura was our first foster child, and she had been severely burned.

Chandra, one of the other foster children, was also severely burned, so she was placed in our home a few years later since my parents had experience with burn survivors. Although my parents cared for other foster children with medical needs, Laura and Chandra were the ones that never left. I never looked at them any differently and can't imagine what life would be like if I were the youngest. I'm glad that they were adopted and are part of the family! 

Monday, August 17, 2009

Family dynamics

[This post was originally written in August 2009, but I've updated it a few times over the years to keep the information current, or when there have been moves made or additions to the family.]

For those of you who read this who don't know much about my family, I will take the time to write a little bit about my family now. I come from a large family; I'm one of seven children (all girls). I've always loved being in a big family, and I always thought that I would love to have a big family of my own. Here is a little bit about each of my sisters:

My sister Miriam and her husband Gordon live in Bryan, Texas. They have five girls: Kim, Michaela, Courtney, Samantha and Victoria. Gordon works as a psychologist and Miriam is a stay-at-home mom, although she also has a business teaching piano lessons (she studied music in college and was a music teacher at a school before she had kids).

My sister Sharon and her husband Spencer live in Starkville, Mississippi. They have six kids: Elizabeth, Kate, Sarah, Rachel, Matt and Emily. Spencer works doing research on chickens for the USDA, and Sharon is a stay-at-home mom.

My sister Annette and her husband Joseph live near Syracuse, New York. They have a son, Kimball and a daughter, Rebecah. In October 2014 they had a twin son and daughter: Lincoln and Annika. Joseph is a physician's assistant and works at a hospital. Annette is a stay-at-home mom.

My sister Kristin and her husband Scott live in Ridgecrest, California. They have five boys: Kaleb, Ethan, Jared, Aaron and Ryan. Scott has a government job doing something (don't ask me what!) and Kristin is a stay-at-home mom.

I am the next sister in the lineup! I live at home with my mom. She is my main caregiver and BFF. We have a lot of fun together, and actually really enjoy being around each other.

My sister Laura and her husband Brett live about an hour away. They have three kids: Amy, David and Olivia. I'm not quite sure what Laura and Brett are doing as far as jobs/schooling at the moment.

Chandra lives with her boyfriend (about 20 minutes away from Mom and me) and had a baby boy named Christian in September 2015. Right now she is loving being a full-time mom. She is a great help to Mom and me, as well as a great friend. She comes over often, and the three of us have a lot of fun together.

You might be wondering why I haven't mentioned a father. My dad died when I was 14. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in April of 1998. He went through chemotherapy and radiation treatment and was in remission for a few months, but the cancer was determined to be terminal in September of that same year. He died on January 17, 1999. People always feel badly when they find out that my dad died when I was so young. It IS kind of sad since he died so young (46), but I don't mind talking about my dad; he was and is a great man.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Anderson Cooper, anyone?!

Ever since my accident I watch Live with Regis and Kelly every morning while I get dressed and up in my wheelchair or recliner. I Love Kelly Ripa so much because I think she is so funny. She's so personable and witty, and I always laugh so much when I watch her.

I love it when Regis is gone and different people fill in for him. It's fun to see Kelly and her husband Mark Consuelos cohost together because they just talk about their life and their kids and they seem so down-to-earth!

However, Anderson Cooper is my favorite substitute cohost, by far! It's fun to see him break out of his usual CNN job and just be real. It's funny to hear him talk about all of the reality TV shows he watches. You wouldn't think a guy that works as a reporter for CNN and 60 minutes would have time to watch reality TV shows, but he does. He's so dreamy and I love when fills in them for Regis. I wish every day were Anderson Cooper day on Live with Regis and Kelly!

Back-to-school shopping spree!

My sister Chandra and I went back to school shopping yesterday. I'm not in school and I'm not going back to school, but I still wanted to go clothes shopping. (Is that a crime?!) We shopped for about five hours! I was glad that Channie took me because I knew she would let me look at everything I wanted to, and not pressure to hurry or anything. Plus, I like her advice!

We went to lots of different stores, and I ended up buying six pairs of pants, five shirts and two pairs of shoes. I spent about $300, but I know that I will inevitably be taking some of the clothes back. I can't try on clothes at the store, so I always buy more, try on the clothes at home and then take back what I don't like/what doesn't fit. I haven't tried on everything yet, but I like a lot of what I have tried on (yay!).

I mentioned that I bought two new pairs of shoes. This is really an indulgence, and something that is completely unnecessary since I already have plenty of shoes, and I don't even walk in the shoes that I wear! Anyhow, this is what went down: Chandra wanted to go into Famous Footwear, and as soon as we got in the door I fell in love with a beautiful pair of Puma shoes! (Or maybe they are sneakers; I don't really know what defines a sneaker.) Chandra put them on my feet and I just had to have them! They were $70 which is a lot, especially since I don't need them and I will never walk in them. I'm pretty sure it's more than I've ever paid for a pair of shoes, but I bought them anyway!

The shoe store was having a sale, buy one pair get one pair half off. Another pair of shoes caught my eye, so I just had to have them as well... especially since I was getting them half off. I left the store about $95 down, but with two new great pairs of

We had a great time shopping together, and it was a really fun day! (Okay, I finally figured out how to post pictures! The shoes are cuter in person, probably because they look so big in the pictures. Anyway, you get the gist of what they look like.)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I'm not a teenager anymore!

My sister Chandra and I were hanging out the other night, and the Teen Choice Awards were coincidentally on, so we watched them. While watching the awards I realized how old I'm getting (I turned 25 earlier this summer)! I enjoyed watching the awards, but I found a lot of what I was watching juvenile.

However, I couldn't help wondering what TV shows and young celebrities I would be in to if I were a teenager right now. I'm sure I would have a crush on boys like Zac Efron, Chace Crawford and the Jonas Brothers. I also bet I would want to watch popular teen shows that are on TV right now, like Gossip Girls, 90210 (the new remake), The Secret Life of the American Teenager, etc. I'm sure my parents wouldn't allow me and my sisters to watch these shows and ones like them because of the content in them! Anyway, I was just wondering what I would be like if I were a teenager today, instead of 10 years ago.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Monkey bars and "The Soloist"

When my sisters and I were young we used to play on the jungle gym in our back yard. I remember my mom cautioning us to be careful on the monkey bars because if we fell off we could break our neck and be paralyzed. My mom always said that becoming paralyzed was probably just about the worst thing that could happen to a person.

Last night I watched the movie "The Soloist" with Robert Downey Jr. and Jamie Foxx. It was wonderful! I thought the acting was fantastic, and it was a true story, so that made the movie even better. The rough gist of the movie is that Nathaniel (Jamie Foxx's character) was a very gifted musician, and he went to Juilliard, but dropped out after two years because he was a schizophrenic and couldn't live a normal life.

20 or 25 years later, Nathaniel was still suffering from schizophrenia and was now homeless. Robert Downey Jr.'s character, Steve Lopez, a reporter for the LA Times, finds Nathaniel and befriends him. He starts writing a very successful newspaper column about Nathaniel while trying to help him get his life back on track.

Anyway, I don't want to say too much more about the movie, but I just thought it was really great. You might be thinking what my story about monkey bars and this movie have in common, so I'll explain. I have to disagree with my mom's thought that breaking your neck and being paralyzed is the worst thing that could happen to a person. I feel incredibly blessed to have a normal mind. After seeing how mental illness ravaged Nathaniel's life and his family, I much rather live as a quadriplegic than a person who is riddled with delusions and voices screaming lies in my head. To me, there are afflictions that are far worse than being paralyzed.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Do people regularly go to church anymore?

Yesterday was Sunday, so I went to church. This seems natural and logical to me, but when I paused to think about this yesterday, I realized that so many people don't go to church on a regular basis! I've gone to church just about every Sunday of my life (25 years). I've probably only missed church between 10 and 15 times in my whole life. (Not counting the 10 months after my accident.) I'm not trying to brag or it sound like I'm better than people who aren't regular church-goers, but I'm really proud of the fact that I've gone to church almost every week of my life.

There have been different times in my life when I wasn't exactly excited to go to church for various reasons... like when I was a teenager and church started at 9 AM and we have to leave by 8:30 AM to make it on time! There have been a few other reasons, as well, but I can honestly say that when I come home from church I'm always glad that I've gone.

I have to admit that I didn't gain my true appreciation for church until after my car accident because after my accident I wasn't able to go to church for 10 months. For the first four months after my accident I was in the ICU/rehab hospital, and when I came home we didn't have a handicapped/accessible van yet. We had to buy a brand-new van and the conversion process took about six months, so it was September before I could go to church again. Being away from church for those 10 months seemed him he like a really long time and I really did miss it.

A lot of people belong to a religion, but they rarely go to church, or they only go to church on holidays. In some ways I find that shocking since I've always been a regular church-goer, but then I see how going to church on a regular basis is really becoming a thing of the past. There are so many different religions in the world, and people in each religion think differently and have different practices, but it seems like people used to go to church more regularly/frequently in decades past. Anyway, this is just something I was thinking about yesterday.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

G.I. Joe and Oberweis!

Last night Channie and I went to the movies to see "G.I. Joe" with our friends, Barbara and Nate. It was so fun and I love the atmosphere of movie theaters! The movie wasn't absolutely fantastic, but it was really enjoyable, and we all had fun. The movie definitely had some cheesy dialogue in it, but it was a fun flick, so I give it a thumbs up! I'm not hard to please when it comes to movies... if I have fun while I'm watching a movie, then I usually like it.

After the movie the four of us went across the parking lot to Oberweis. (That's an ice cream shop for anyone who might not be familiar with it!) I got the most delicious waffle bowl sundae... it was chocolate ice cream with lots of peanut butter-y goodness drizzled all over it! It was heaven on earth and I loved every bite!

After we finished our ice cream, we sat in our car chatting for a while. We have so much fun together and I feel blessed to have such wonderful friends!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Movie, dinner and "poppin' tags!!”

Yesterday I went out with my friend Lacee and my sister Chandra (Chan/Channie) to see a movie. There really weren't any new movies that I wanted to see, so I decided to go to the dollar theater. (It's actually three dollars!) I gave my friend Lacee a list of three or four movies that I'd be okay seeing, and then I let her pick the one she wanted to see the most. She picked "Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian." I remember seeing the first movie a couple years ago, and I thought it was cute, but not fantastic.

Anyhow, the movie started about 4, and it wasn't long before I was really tired! I tried my hardest to stay awake, but I did fall asleep a couple of times! ;) I still got the gist of the movie, though. It was a bit cheesier than the first one, but still cute. (And I like the fact that Amy Adams was in this one. She's so cute!)

After the movie, I wanted to go to the mall since we were just across the street from it. (There were a few things that I wanted to get, and I couldn't resist since we were so close by.) I suggested that we eat at the mall food court, so that's what we did for dinner. I got some delicious chicken teriyaki from Sarku Japan. There was so much of it that I had quite a bit to take home. There was a Dippin' Dots vending machine right next to our table, so I even had Banana Split Dippin' Dots for my dessert!

The mall wasn't busy at all, so Lacee asked me if I wanted to look around anywhere else. Since my accident I haven't liked to go to public places that are really busy -- I don't like crowds because I always feel like I'm in the way. Another one of my "fears" is seeing people that knew me before my accident. (I'll try to explain that in a later post!) All that being said, I've become much more adventurous in recent years, because there was a time not too long ago where I said I would never go to Wal-Mart or the mall again until I could step foot in them! Well, I'm still not walking, but I've gone to both Wal-Mart and the mall, so that tells you how much I've changed!

We DID go shopping for a little bit and we had a nice time, so I'm glad that I've gone back on my vow to never go to the mall again. I've always been the kind of girl who loves shopping, so I guess it was just a matter of time. :) Oh yeah, Chandra told me that "poppin' tags" is a slang term for spending a lot of money. I'd never heard that expression before and I thought it was funny.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

8th coolest July on record! (for St. Louis)

July ended a few days ago, so that means that summer is about half over. Hard to believe! I heard on the news that St. Louis had its eighth coolest summer on record. It only got up to 90° four times in July. July is usually the warmest month of the year, and since I live in the Midwest, it usually gets pretty steamy and sultry! However, it really hasn't been too unbearable this year.

We've been having the most delightful weather. We were able to turn our air conditioning off most nights, and when we woke up in the mornings it was actually chilly! There were a couple nights when I forgot to have a blanket put on me and I downright froze! Our house would stay nice and cool all day, and there were quite a few days when the air conditioning didn't run at all, or if it did, not for very long.

My family went to a barbecue in the park on the Fourth of July, and I was actually chilly and under a light blanket most of the time! I'm not complaining because I really have been enjoying the lovely, unseasonably cool weather this summer. It's been a nice change; although, I have to admit that I don't really mind hot weather, either. The thing I don't like is the humidity; when you feel like you're suffocating when you step outside! Fortunately, we haven't had too many of those days!

Name! Name! Name!

Another of my hesitations in starting a blog was that I had no idea what to name it! I spent a couple days racking my brain for short, "catchy" names, but I couldn't think of anything. Finally, I settled on two: 1) Heather's Life: Tales from the Cripp and 2) Paralized with JOY!. I obviously went with the second.

I want to explain a little bit about the first name I was contemplating. My sister Sharon and her family visited my mom and me for Easter in 2004. I'd recently come back home to live after being in the ICU and rehab hospital for four months. Sharon was helping me make a scrapbook detailing the accident and everything that followed. At one point while we were working I referred to myself as "The Little Cripple That Could." (A reference to the children's book The Little Engine That Could. The engine had a difficult journey ahead of him and he was determined to finish his trip, so he kept telling himself, "I think I can, I think I can!"

Well, I adopted that same mantra after my accident, knowing that I could live as a disabled person if I set my mind to it. So, that was when I started "affectionately" referring to myself as a cripple. Of course the "politically correct" terms for myself and other people in my situation are "disabled" or "handicapped." However,
since I am the disabled one, I feel like I can poke fun at myself and call myself a cripple if I want to!

I didn't want people to think my blog title was in poor taste, though, so that's why I decided to go with Paralyzed with JOY! because that really sums up who and what I am. Although I'm disabled, I'm still just as happy, if not happier than I always was.

Monday, August 3, 2009

To blog or not to blog?!

I've been toying with the idea of starting a blog for several months, and I've finally decided to do it. A couple of my sisters and friends have been encouraging me to start a blog, and that is how my initial interest in blogging got started. My two main hesitations have been 1) that blogs are out there for everyone to read, and I'm pretty self-conscious about the way that I write, so the idea that just anyone can read my postings is pretty intimidating!

2) I'm already very busy with various projects. I keep a personal journal that I write in frequently. I decided to start keeping a journal in January 2007 as part of a New Years resolution. I faithfully kept my resolution that year by writing a page or two every week, and I've continued my journal ever since.

Some other projects that keep me busy are that I recently wrote my grandfather's life story. This was a major undertaking and a daunting task, but now that I have finished it, I'm so glad that I decided to do it! It was a very fulfilling project, and it was nice to be able to take advantage of the fact that my grandpa is still alive. After I finished writing the text, I compiled a photo book of my grandpa's life on Shutterfly. It turned out so well and it was a great way to incorporate the pictures I had so as to illustrate his life.

Now that I'm done with that project, I am compiling other photo books of my ancestors, my parents, my immediate family and my life. These books are all in various stages of completion, but I love making these photo books to document my life.

Well, I guess I'm officially committed to this new project/undertaking! I look forward to having my own blog and to recieving comments and feedback from anyone who might read it.
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