Friday, October 29, 2010

Halloween conspiracy

I'm sure everyone has seen those jumbo bags of Halloween candy where you get a little of this and a little of that. In theory that's a great idea so that you can get all of your favorite Halloween candies, but finding that perfect bag of candy is easier said than done.

I think there is a conspiracy by the makers of Halloween candy because there is no "perfect" mix of candy. At least in my opinion it always seems like there's something in the bag that you don't really want. So, instead of buying just one bag you have to buy at least two or more to get the kind of candies that matter most to you.

This year I had to make my own mix by buying individual bags of candy (on sale two bags for five dollars) and dumping them all together. It was a hard decision but I decided to buy 100 Grand, Butterfinger, Baby Ruth and Pay Day. I was also going to get Almond Joy, but I put them back because I realized I was buying way too much candy! Milky Way, Snickers and Reeses are all wonderful choices, as well!

Why can't there be one bag with all of the best candies?! No plain M&Ms, Three Musketeers or plain Hershey's bars, please! These are all sub-par candies, in my opinion. There are lots of other sub-par candies that are even worse than these, but I'm not even going to attempt making a list of all the "crummy" candies that I used to be so disappointed to get when trick-or-treating!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

How close is too close?

I saw a segment on The Early Show this morning called "How Close Is Too Close?" that I really appreciated. It was about boundaries and people invading your personal space. The truth is, sometimes people unknowingly invade the space of others... we've probably all done it at some time or another.

This is something that is especially important to me since my accident. Sometimes when people talk to me they definitely invade my personal space! Of course it's unintentional, but it's annoying, nonetheless! Normally people can take a step back to distance themselves from the other person when their space is being invaded, but I can't. When someone is talking too close to my face I can't do anything about it except suffer in silence! I think that anything less than two feet is much too close, unless we're very close friends who are exchanging secrets with each other!

While I'm on the same topic, I want to share another one of my pet peeves. Now that I'm in a wheelchair I feel like people who don't know me at all or don't know me very well often talk down to me and treat me like my brain must be handicapped since I'm in a wheelchair! Let me assure you that just because someone is in a wheelchair does not necessarily mean that they are mentally impaired. Sometimes when I'm out in public people talk to my mom instead of me and will say something like, "Does she want this, or does she want that?" instead of asking me directly.

Another thing that bothers me is when people bend over at the waist when they talk to me. Crouching down all the way to the ground is okay, but I don't like it when they bend over at the waist because it always makes me feel like they think I'm a child. Hopefully I'm not sounding mean as I vent about my pet peeves, but since I've been confronted with the same things for the past seven years and will most likely continue to be confronted with the same things for the rest of my life, I can't help but share my feelings!

I know that people aren't meaning to be rude or condescending, but it often feels this way. However, people are usually very nice and sweet for the most part. I imagine that I would probably be unsure of how to approach someone in a wheelchair if I didn't know them, so I definitely don't begrudge people acting the way they do, even if it is occasionally annoying!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Hair care

Throughout my life one of my best features has been my hair. It's definitely not the "perfect head of hair" that some people are naturally blessed with, but it could be a lot worse, so I'll try not to complain!

Here's a few problems with my hair, though. My hair is very fine, but fortunately I have a lot of it, so the large quantity of hair helps to makes up for the fine texture. Another problem is that I don't have hair that I can wash, let dry and have it look nice. My hair has too much natural curl in it to dry straight, but it's too straight to be curly. (Does that make sense?) Needless to say, a lot of work goes into my hair to make it look good, but once the work has gone into my hair it usually looks pretty nice.

Over the years I've gone through lots of different hairstyles and hairdos. I started doing my own hair at a young age, and I actually got pretty good at it in high school. I never liked wearing all of my hair down, and I always put at least some of it up because I couldn't stand having it in my face. I often twisted all of my hair up in the back of my head and would let the ends either stick up or fall back in a little fountain. I wish I had a picture to show this, but I don't. A lot of people used to refer to this as my "Heather-do" which I think is a cute nickname for what it was! I always got compliments on my hair and people used to ask me how I was able to create the look.

As I said, it takes a lot of work to get my hair looking nice after it's washed. I'm not able to do my own hair anymore, but fortunately my younger sister Chandra is very good with hair and she never lets me down! This is the process that we go through to get my hair looking sleek. First, we use two TRESemmé products, 24-hour body mousse and 24-hour root lifter.
Chandra dries my hair with a round brush and a blow drier. On the top of my hair Chandra works Fekkai's Straight Away hair smoothing serum in to my hair. I've been using this product for a couple of years now and it's great for people who have hair that has lots of natural curl to control the frizz-factor. At $18 a tube it's kind of expensive, but each tube lasts me for a year, so it's definitely worth it to me.After my hair is all dry, Chandra uses a tool like a flat iron or something with heat to smooth my hair . The entire process takes about an hour, which is a long time in my opinion, but we only wash my hair three days a week, so it's not like we have to do it every day. My hair usually looks good the next day; not as good as the day we wash it, but pretty good all things considered.

Monday is always my "dirty hair day," but earlier this year I was introduced to dry shampoo. (What did I do without it for so long?!) Dry shampoo is basically baby powder in an aerosol can and it soaks up the hair oil. I really like the TRESemmé dry shampoo because you can find it at any convenience store and it's about four dollars a can. One of my blog followers recently sent me a sample of another Brand of dry shampoo called Batiste. It works just as well and it smells really nice, but it costs a little more money for a little less in each can. Still, it works really well.

Anyway, this is the 411 on my hair.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Family visit

I wrote in my last post about how my sister Sharon from Mississippi was in town this past weekend. Sharon's friend Shellie (who is originally from Louisiana) came with her and she cooked us a cajun/creole dinner on Friday night. We had red beans and rice, jambalaya, cheese grits and shrimp, and beignets (similar to a doughnut, but not as sweet) for dessert.

We all went grocery shopping Friday morning to get the things we needed for our dinner, and I was even able to persuade my sisters to go to Cold Stone for lunch. ;) We spent the afternoon cooking, and the kitchen smelled amazing! I have to admit I was a bit skeptical when it came to the food, but I tried everything and surprisingly, I liked it all! (I only say surprisingly because I'm pretty picky when it comes to food.)

I love hanging out with my family so much, and I'm always so thankful for the time we get to spend together. Here are some pictures from our fun day:

Turning 5

My nephew Ethan turned five last Thursday. When my sister Kristin and her family moved in with us three months ago, I wasn't sure if they would still be living here for Ethan's birthday, but fortunately they are! (Kristin's husband Scott hasn't found a job yet, which isn't a good thing, but we are all enjoying having Kristin's family live with us in the meantime.) Anyway, it was really a special treat to be able to spend Ethan's fifth birthday with him. My sister Sharon and her three youngest kids were also in town, so we had a full house!

My sister Kristin made fried chicken tenders for dinner, and they were amazing! I've never been a fan of homemade fried chicken in the past, but this was the best homemade fried chicken I've ever had! (I think it helps that Kristin has a deep fat fryer that she deep-fried the chicken in.) She also made a three layer devil's food chocolate cake with white chocolate Oreo frosting. All of the food tasted really good! Here are some pictures from our family birthday party:I know this post isn't about me, but I remember when I turned five. I can't believe how much has changed in my life and in the world in the past 21 years since then! Here are two pictures from that day:

Cold and "a cold"

When you're paralyzed lots of things in your body don't work the way they're supposed to. The body's "thermostat" is one of the things that paralysis really affects.

Right after my accident I was always incredibly hot even though it was the end of November. Sometimes people would cover me up with blankets when I was asleep and I would wake up in the night burning up. I kept my hospital room in the ICU at a cool 65°F and sometimes nurses or other hospital personnel would change the temperature on the thermostat. Again, I would wake up in the middle of the night and be so uncomfortably hot, but I was unable to call for help or do anything about it.

Now fast-forward seven years from my accident. I still have major "thermostat" issues, but over the years they've gradually shifted to the other extreme. Where I once was always hot, now I'm always cold, except in the summer. From September to April I'm usually usually perpetually cold, even when the people around me aren't! When I feel cold it's so hard for me to get warm, even if I'm already under several blankets. I love having my face covered with a blanket because it helps keep me warm, and I often sleep with three or four blankets on me in the winter, with a blanket covering my face all night to keep me warm.

Another thing that helps keep me warm is having my head covered with a blanket. Sometimes people refer to me as "the flying nun" when I'm sporting my "blanket on the head" look. But what I always say is, "A girls gotta do what a girls gotta do to keep warm!" I know it's a comical thing to see, so I thought I would post three pictures from the past week of what I looked like when I was feeling cold.
Now to the portion of my post that I entitled "a cold."I'm remarkably healthy for someone who is paralyzed. I've only had two colds in the seven years since my accident. (Although I occasionally might get a sore throat, but that doesn't happen very often.) I got my first cold two years ago when I was around my sister Sharon's kids. My throat was very sore and I needed a lot of suctioning because there was so much fluid in my airway.

My sister Sharon visited this past week, and I got another cold from her kids! (A small price to pay to be able to see my nieces and nephews, though!) My cold has spread to some of the other people in the house, but fortunately it's only been the adults and not the kids. (Knock on wood!) It's a strange sensation to feel the need to cough, but to not physically be able to. I think I'm on the mend, but I will be glad when everyone in the house is feeling better and "cold free!"

Saturday, October 23, 2010

My girl, Kelly

I adore Kelly Ripa and I'm not ashamed to admit it! Well, actually I do feel a little foolish admitting something like this because I feel like it makes me appear dumb or star-struck, but it's true, so I can't resist giving a shout-out to one of my favorite people that I've never had the pleasure of meeting!

I started watching Live with Regis and Kelly when I was in the ICU after my car accident. I'd be so lonely and bored as I waited for visiting hours to begin so I could see my mom, so I watched a lot of TV to keep myself company. I was hooked on Kelly right away, and I've continued watching Live ever since. I think Kelly is so funny and she always makes me laugh. She's really witty and willing to laugh at herself. She seems so down to earth for someone that is a "celebrity," and that's something I really appreciate in someone who is famous because it seems like so many celebrities and famous people lack humility and feel like they are a step above us normal folks!

So Kelly, I just want to let you know how adorable and beautiful I think you are. I'll probably never be lucky enough to meet you, but I'm glad I get to see you an hour a day, five days a week! You always make my day!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Movie #21

I saw my 21st movie of the year a few days ago. It was called Life As We Know It. This was a movie that I had been looking forward to because I thought it looked like a cute movie. Although the story was unrealistic and predictable, it was cute and I really enjoyed it. Plus, I think Josh Duhamel is really good looking, so that was an added bonus ;)

21 movies down and four to go!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Since my sister Sharon was in town this past weekend we were able to get a few pics of her kids with our sister Kristin's kids. It was so sweet to see five little boys all dressed up for church on Sunday morning in their white shirts and ties, so we couldn't resist taking a few pictures.

The first picture is of Kristin's four boys, Kaleb, Ethan, Jared and Aaron, along with Sharon's seven-month-old son, Matthew. Then, Sharon's daughter Sarah got in on the boy's group shot. The four other pictures are 1) Kaleb and Aaron 2) Sarah 3) Ethan and Matt and 4) Rachel.

It's always wonderful when the cousins can be together. When I was growing up, my sisters and I rarely had the opportunity to be around our cousins since they lived hundreds of miles away, so I really value the times when my nieces and nephews can spend time together. Hopefully they will be able to spend more time with each other over the years than I was able to spend with mine!

Game night with family and friends

My sister Sharon and her three youngest kids came into town last Saturday along with Sharon's friend Shellie. (Shellie has an annual business trip in Kansas City, Missouri, and Sharon has been tagging along on the trip for the past few years.) I like it because it means that I get to see Sharon and some of her kids when I normally wouldn't.

I decided to invite a few of my friends over on Saturday night to hang out and play games with my family. I'm always looking for an excuse to have game nights and get-togethers with friends and family, so I jumped at the chance! Here are a few pictures from Saturday evening. The first picture is of my youngest sister Chandra and me, the second picture is of my dear friend Nathan and me, the third picture is of my friends Laura and Barbara with Chandra and me, and the last picture is with my sister Kristin and her husband Scott, along with Chandra and me. (Don't we all look great in our purple?!)

I just have to brag about my sister Kristin for a minute. She's an amazing cook and she's always making yummy things for dinner and decadent treats for desserts. Since Saturday was Shellie's birthday, we had a special dinner. Kristin made chicken Caesar salad and garlic cheddar biscuits. This is one of my favorite dinners. For dessert, Kristin made a white chocolate raspberry cheesecake. Kristin not only makes beautiful desserts, but she always makes sure to dress each piece up so that it's visually pleasing. Here's what the cheesecake looked like.

First, here's a picture of the whole cheesecake:

Next here's a picture of how Kristin dressed up each slice of the cheesecake:

(She put a dollop of homemade whipped cream on top and stuck a fresh raspberry and a mint leaf in it. Then she drizzled raspberry sauce around the cheesecake and finished it off by shaving some white chocolate on top.) What a masterpiece! For the record, it tastes just as good as it looks!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

It takes courage

This past Friday I did something that I really didn't want to do -- I went to talk to a class of first year nursing students. My friend Lacee (that I went to nursing school with) teachers nursing school at Meramec Community College, and she thought her students would benefit from hearing a "professional patient" talk about their experiences with nurses, hospitals and other healthcare related issues.

Most people are terrified of public speaking. This actually isn't a problem for me because I actually enjoy speaking publicly. I think I'm good at it, as I'm good at clearly conveying my thoughts, etc. MY problem is that I can't speak very loudly, and it's hard for me to project my voice, especially when I'm in a large room. When Lacee told me that I would be addressing her students in a large lecture hall, I was filled with nervous dread! When I get nervous sometimes my body does things that I can't control, like muscle spasms, for example, and I don't like anything else drawing attention to me since I'm obviously physically "different."

Needless to say, I was very nervous on Friday when I was about to leave my house to go to the college, but I wasn't going to let Lacee down, especially since she's been such a wonderful, loyal friend to me since my accident. My nervousness melted away once I got into the lecture hall and started talking. (I had a little microphone attached to my shirt, and it actually worked really well and I know everyone could hear me.)

As I said, public speaking is something that I enjoy and I was glad that I could talk to these students. My mom told me that there's a good chance that I said something to the students that will impact them and that they will remember for years to come. I'm not sure if this is true or not, but any nervousness or discomfort that I felt was well served if I can help teach future nurses things about compassion and how to be better and nurses.

All in all, it was a great experience and I'm sure I will be doing it again in the future.... especially if Lacee has anything to do with it! ;)

Technical Difficulties

I haven't been able to post lately because I've been having technical difficulties with my computer. I've been having computer issues for the past six weeks or so and things have been getting progressively worse. I'm not sure what's causing the problem, but I haven't been able to use the internet for the past week or so. I'm able to connect, but then after a few minutes it freezes up, and I'm not able to do anything else on the internet unless I restart my computer. This problem is really frustrating since the internet is my lifeline when I'm on my computer. Fortunately, I'm still able to use the other programs on my computer, but not having the internet has really been rough! So, I just wanted to let everyone know why I haven't been blogging. I really wish I were more savvy when it comes to computers, but I'm not. Hopefully I'll be able to resolve the problem soon with the help from some of my technologically-advanced friends.

(I asked my mom to help me make this post. She logged on to my blogger account on her computer, and she typed this message while I dictated it to her . So that's how I was able to make this post, if you were wondering!)

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Karate Kid x 5

It might be hard for you to believe, but I'd never seen The Karate Kid until last month. Actually, I'm pretty sure my family saw this movie in the movie theater when I was a kid, but I don't have any recollection of this. I was inspired to watch The Karate Kid movies when I found out that a remake of the original movie was coming out. I watched the first movie a few weeks ago, and then I went on to watch The Karate Kid Part II, The Karate Kid Part III, and even The Next Karate Kid. I have to admit that I liked all of the movies, but The Karate Kid Part II was my least favorite.

All of this Karate Kid movie watching was to prepare myself to watch the new Karate Kid movie that came out on DVD last week. I was glad that I had watched all of the old movies recently because I was familiar with them and with the story. I thought that the new movie was fairly true to the original, although it did differ in some significant ways, one big way in particular is that there is no karate in this movie, only kung fu. (I kind of wonder why they didn't call it The Kung Fu Kid, or something else altogether.) Also, the main boy in this movie was only 12, and the main boy in the other movies started out as a 15-year-old boy who turns 16. All in all, I think this was a pretty good remake, even though there were obvious differences from the original.

Damaged goods

In my last post I wrote about my sadness over not being a mother and knowing that I won't have that opportunity in this life. I also wrote about not liking to write about tender feelings such as this because I don't want to make other people feel uncomfortable, or like I'm coming across as bitter or like I'm trying to get pity from people. Nonetheless I'm going to write about something else that causes me sadness and disappointment. I'm lonely, as I imagine most single people are. What makes these feelings worse is that I know how wonderful I am! At the risk of sounding full of myself, I know that I would be such an amazing wife if I were able-bodied because I'm the type that would want to be the kind of wife who likes to cook and clean, be a stay-at-home mom, run the household and things like that.

However, even though I'm an amazing person on the inside, I don't get a second look in the dating/marriage arena since I'm "damaged" on the outside. I'm basically a dented can of peaches! When you're shopping at the grocery store you pick the beautiful, normal canned goods and disregard the damaged, dented cans, even though what's inside of them is still good! (You know you do!)

I guess if I were to get married it would take a very special person to love me enough to be able to get over the fact that I'm physically "damaged" and to know that we wouldn't have a traditional life/marriage. I suppose they would just have to love the person that I am on the inside enough to realize that one day we WILL have that "normal" life together in the next life when we've both been resurrected.

I'm happy and positive and I truly know how to live joyfully, even in the midst of trials. I guess if somebody would want a happy life and marriage, even if it weren't "traditional," then I would be the girl for them! For now I'm content enough to stay joyous, even if that means being single!

Thoughts about babies and motherhood

Now that I'm at the age where I would be having children if I were married sometimes it hurts to think about not being a mother. There are so many things that I'll never be able to do and experience due to being paralyzed, and this is one of them. Almost every system in a paralyzed person's body is compromised except your reproductive system, so although I could still technically have a baby, I no longer have the desire.

First of all, I physically can't take care of myself, let alone a baby, so if I did have a child people would have to take care of my child as well as myself. This would be even more work for my family, friends and caregivers. Secondly, I would never want a baby that I couldn't hold and take care of myself. It would be excruciatingly painful to witness, especially when the baby was old enough to prefer other people instead of me. I'll just have to wait for the day in my next life when I am able to have children.

Here's a list of some other things related to pregnancy, motherhood and babies that I'm disappointed that I'll never be able to experience:
  • Making the decision with my husband about how many children we want and deciding when it's time to start our family.
  • Finding out the exciting news that I'm pregnant and telling my husband and family.
  • Experiencing the changes that pregnancy bring to your body, both good and bad.
  • Feeling the baby move inside me.
  • Finding out the sex of the baby, whether I chose to have an ultrasound or wait for the delivery of the baby. (I don't know which I would choose because I think it would be so neat to wait until the delivery to find out the sex of the baby, but on the other hand, it would be so hard for me to be patient for nine months!)
  • Experiencing child birth. I know it sounds crazy, but I think I would want to try natural childbirth at least once simply for the fact that I would want to know what women have gone through for thousands of years. Of course I've never been in labor, but I think I could/would do it. :)
  • Experiencing that first mother/baby connection where your eyes meet and you realize that you've never loved anything more.
  • Choosing a name for the baby. Baby names are one of my favorite topics to talk about with people; I think it would be so fun to be able to name a child.
  • Being able to nurse my baby.
  • Having a child that resembles my husband or myself, or was a mixture of the two of us. I would really want a little girl that looked like me. :)
  • Being able to watch my child change and grow, develop and learn new things.
  • Being able to teach my child things. I think this would be so exciting to know that I was the one who helped them learn whatever the skill was.
I hesitate to share these tender feelings, because I never want to come across as a bitter person, or like I'm trying to get pity from others. And I don't want my readers to feel uncomfortable. However, these are normal, natural feelings that I have, so I feel like it's okay to acknowledge them and write about them. I want people to know that I'm still human, even though I'm usually outstandingly joyful.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Botanical Gardens

On Saturday I went to the Botanical Gardens with my mom, my sister Kristin and two of her boys. It was a hot day, especially for October (in the upper 80's), but I like warm weather, so I enjoyed it. I went to the Botanical Gardens this past May with my sister Sharon and her family, and there was a definite difference in the flowers and plants from then to now. There weren't as many flowers, and the flowers that were alive right now weren't as pretty as the ones that were alive a few months ago. Still, it was fun to go and we all had a nice time together. We stopped for dinner at Pizza Hut (Kaleb's choice) on the way home, so that was a fun and tasty way to end the day. We weren't able to get very many good pictures, but here are a few of the best ones that we got:
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