April 26th, 2015

I’ve been doing a lot of spiritual study, reading and introspection over the past few months. I’ve gotten back into my project to read the Bible all the way through. Back almost two years ago I decided to do it. I started with the New Testament – and since I had read the four Gospels several times, I started with Acts. I finished Revelation and went back and read Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Then I started the Old Testament. I really dragged it out – sometimes going months between readings – but finally got through to the Psalms – and now I’m in Proverbs. Mid-May two years ago is when I started, and I don’t foresee being able to finish by mid-May this year. So it will be a 2+ year project for me. I’m really learning a lot, though.

In the coming months, I plan to write out my thoughts about this spiritual journey. I’ve been slowing down as I read the Bible in order to think about what I’ve read, consider how it applies to me, and to underline and make notes as I go. I admit that in some of the Old Testament books, I was rushing through some of it. So my plan is that once I finish the Old Testament, I will read the Bible through a second time.

Recently I read Lysa Terkeurst’s book What Happens When Women Say Yes to God: Experiencing Life in Extraordinary Ways. I must’ve been at the point in life when I was ready to really absorb something like that. As I read, I underlined and starred a lot of things that I felt were important and significant for me. I thought about how I needed to write about what I had read in order to process it and for it to be more than “Oh, that’s a great book. I read it and liked it” and that would be it. There were too many meaty ideas that I needed to chew on and digest. I have so much spiritual growing to do. I also immediately got on Amazon and ordered several other Terkeurst books.

I thought about starting a new blog to chronicle my thoughts, but then I thought, “Why not write them in The Median Sib?” I doubt anyone reads this blog anymore since I’ve added so little content in recent years. It’ll be interesting to see if any family and friends notice – and if they do, how long it will take.

This past weekend I read Kara Tippett’s book, The Hardest Peace: Expecting Grace in the Midst of Life’s Hard. Kara Tippett was only 38 years old last month when she died of cancer. It started out as breast cancer but quickly metastasized throughout her body. She had four young children along with a dearly loved husband. Her book contained so much about grace – about God giving us the grace to get through life’s hard places. Her insights about beauty, grace, and love are profound. I want to re-read the book soon, write about it, and let more of it settle into a permanent place in my heart and mind.

I felt similarly about Lysa Terkeurst’s book on saying yes to God. I read it and immediately gave it to my friend at church who leads our ladies Bible study group. I think it would be great as our next Bible study book. Then I promptly bought another copy because I wanted to read it again myself. Like Tippett’s book, I want to let more of it become a part of me.

I am almost finished with another Terkeurst book, Made to Crave: Satisfying Your Deepest Desire with God, Not Food. That one really speaks to me since I’ve spent the past 55+ years feeling inferior and unworthy because of my weight. It’s rather sad when I look back at my life and realize the impact of those unworthy feelings. I’ve thought a lot lately about the origins of those feelings and how they helped to shape my life. So many of my wrong decisions were a direct result of those feelings. One thing that my recent reading has helped me understand better is the importance of not making quick decisions based on “feelings.” I have to replace those feelings with God’s truth – which is that I’m a treasured and loved child of God.

Another thing I’ve done lately that has brought me some insight is using prayer beads. A friend of mine on Facebook posted some photos of prayer beads she had made. I thought they were beautiful, and so I started researching protestant prayer beads. I’d never heard of them before! I really liked the concept. Ritualistic prayers seem mostly useless to me. Prayer should be personal. It should be specific. However, prayer beads allow for personalizing – for specificity. They provide a framework for prayer, and they help me focus – but they don’t dictate the content of prayer. I ordered a set of beads and also a kit to make some myself. Then, being my usual obsessive self, I bought lots of beads, watched YouTube tutorials and I started making them myself. I really like some of the ones I’ve made. I ordered some small “holding crosses” made of olive wood from Bethlehem, Israel. They’re perfect for prayer beads because they feel so natural in my hands. I started out using metal crosses that I found in the jewelry section of JoAnn’s and Michael’s craft stores. However, I love the look and feel of these wooden holding crosses.

I also researched and studied to find prayers to use with the prayer beads – some definite guidelines. I couldn’t find any I liked. Some listed specific prayers – and that didn’t feel right to me. I combined bits and pieces from a lot of different websites – and looked up Bible verses to go along with each part of the prayer bead circle. I feel it’s important to “pray God’s promises” – and those promises are found in the Bible. So I spent a lot of time finding verses that really spoke to the four parts of the prayer beads (praising, asking forgiveness, interceding, and thanking). Then I typed it up, revised it many times, and will probably revise it a few more times before I’m satisfied with it. I use the guide when I pray with the prayer beads. It’s all about providing a framework and helping with focusing. The other day I was walking at Crockett Park, and the beautiful scenery was so uplifting to me, I started mentally going through the prayer beads prayer. It was a meaningful way to spend my walking time.

As I was writing about the prayer beads, it suddenly occurred to me that since I enjoy making them so much, maybe I could sell them on Etsy – along with the guide that I wrote. I’m going to look into that – Carol’s Prayer Beads. Or maybe it should Grace Prayer Beads since it is through prayer that we seek God’s grace.

I am on a journey – a journey of spiritual grace – a journey of opening my heart and mind and delving into Jesus, the Bible, the writing of Christian authors, and seeking God’s will. A journey of discipline – of seeing self-discipline, based on God’s strength (definitely not my own!) – as a joy – as a sacrifice I gladly offer for the greater joy of being closer to God. There is so much to learn. Here I am at 65 years of age, and I’m finally doing something I should’ve done many years ago. With age comes wisdom – and maybe when I at last grow up, I’ll be wise.

Sphere: Related Content

Socialize This! View blog reactions
January 20th, 2015

For the past year or so, I kept seeing articles about essential oils, and I was interested in them. Finally last fall, I wrote a post on Facebook asking which of my friends used essential oils, and if so, what brand. The response was my first inkling of the competition between various brands. People were quite adamant about which EOs were best.

A friend of mine sells doTerra essential oils, and invited me to a class to learn more. So I attended the class. I found out about diffusing essential oils and I learned about how to use oils for various problems. Since it was a doTerra class, there was a lot of information about doTerra oils and how wonderful and pure and concentrated and perfect they are. While they were careful not to diss other brands, there was little doubt that, to them, doTerra was the only essential oil company worthy of their allegiance. There was no pressure to buy, but I placed an order for a “home physician’s kit” from doTerra because I wanted to get started using EOs.

And I loved them. Several months later, I still diffuse essential oils daily in my home. I have a calming blend that I diffuse while I have my devotions each morning. As I watch TV, I have a diffuser going with a citrus blend next to me. I go to sleep with the diffuser running on the bedside table. I sleep great with an immunity blend, a breathing blend and a sleeping blend in the diffuser. Whenever I get an upset stomach, I use a digestion blend of essential oils to ease the upset. Any time a medical issue comes up, I check my essential oil book and try an oil or create a blend for it. Essential oils work. They don’t replace modern medicine in many cases, but in some cases, they’re a great and natural alternative.

I use oils only in the diffuser or topically. doTerra recommends ingesting them, but medical people I completely trust advise against that. So I don’t do it.

Despite my enjoyment of essential oils, doTerra’s prices bothered me. Still, it was hard to shake the “doTerra is the best” litany of the class. So I joined doTerra’s Loyalty Rewards Program (LRP) and ended up placing a pricey order in November and another one in December. And that was after making my initial pricey order when I first started using doTerra. When I say “pricey” I’m talking about more than $200 each. That’s when I realized that I couldn’t spend that much money on essential oils every month. Really – $20, $30 and more for a small bottle of essential oil just didn’t make sense to me. It wasn’t reasonable, and it wasn’t responsible use of my money. So I called the company and cancelled my LRP status, although I kept my “preferred customer” status which meant I could still order oils at a discount but with no requirement for spending a certain amount of money each month. Even with the discount, though, the prices were prohibitive. The only way to get the prices anywhere near reasonable was to sell the oils and/or recruit more people to doTerra. I’m not a salesperson; so that was out of the equation. I’ve seen too many people lose friends by trying to push something they’re selling.

I started thinking about those high prices. doTerra HAS to charge outrageous prices because it’s a multi-level marketing company. Since my friend introduced me to doTerra, I was “under” her in the multi-level system. She made money from each of my purchases. The person that introduced her to doTerra had to make money off my friend’s purchases and the purchases of each person my friend introduced to doTerra (me!), and so on. The term “multi-level” means that there are MULTIPLE LEVELS of people who must get a piece of the action each time a purchase is made. No wonder the prices are so outrageous. I could make money IF I was willing to recruit people to be in my “downline.”

I quickly found that Young Living (another MLM essential oil company) users were similar to doTerra users in their loyalty to their brand and their insistence that only their brand was truly pure. The general attitude was that all other brands were inferior. However, I didn’t see any proof that their EOs were better. Everything was opinion-based, not fact-based. And since Young Living is an MLM company, their prices are, of course, inflated too.

In my Google searches, I found bloggers that did “studies” of essential oil companies – some of them long and drawn out over the course of numerous blog posts – with a final decision of the “best” essential oil company. The funny thing, though, was that almost all of them ended up, in the last post of the series, recommending one company and then letting their readers know that because they were so certain of the high quality of that particular company, they were now a representative of or distributor for that company – and they conveniently had links so their readers could order the recommended essential oils – and of course the blogger would receive a cut for each person that followed the link. Each time I got to that last post and saw that link, I completely dismissed the recommendation. You can’t be “unbiased” when you’re making money from one of the companies being reviewed!

I wore out Google and Amazon, reading about other EO brands and looking at different buying options. I went to Whole Foods where there’s a selection of essential oils. I also looked at Mountain Rose, Queen Homeschooling, Rocky Mountain Oils, and others. I bought a few bottles from each outlet in order to see if any particular brand stood out to me. Most of the brands had affiliate programs which meant that people could make money by selling their products or by mentioning and linking them in their blog/website and having people click that link. That, in itself, meant there were at least two levels of profit there – profit for the company and profit for the person writing about the EOs.

One company I kept seeing on Amazon was Eden’s Garden. I mostly noticed it because the prices were so much less than what I was accustomed to with doTerra. I ordered a bottle of their lavender from Amazon. When I got the oil, I really liked it, and in the box with the oil was a brochure with information. I visited the Eden’s Garden website. Since the prices were so good, I started reading more about them. They don’t offer an affiliate program. Although Amazon sells the oils, the prices are the same as on the Eden’s Garden website, and the oils are shipped from Eden’s Garden – not via a third party. There are no multiple levels. No “upline” or “downline.” You can’t become a “preferred customer” where you can get discounts by buying more. It’s a straightforward business model.

Their prices were so significantly less expensive than most of the others, that after reading all the “you get what you pay for” hype on the other EO websites, I was hesitant to buy more, but went ahead and bought several more bottles anyway. I wanted to try them for myself. I quickly found that Eden’s Garden’s “Four Thieves,” “Good Night,” and “Breathe Easier” blends work just as well as doTerra’s “On Guard,” “Serenity,” and “Breathe” for helping me sleep well and long at night. And for a fraction of the price. I truly could tell little difference. And the differences weren’t in the quality of the oils but in the combination of EOs that went into the particular blend. Other people wrote about cheaper oils being thinner and less concentrated. I noticed no differences between the pricey MLM oils and the much less expensive Eden’s Garden oils.

What I decided is that, for me, Eden’s Garden EOs are as good as the doTerra oils I have. I’ve read nothing and experienced nothing that makes me believe that doTerra or Young Living are any better or any purer than Eden’s Garden. Yes, “you get what you pay for,” and when I bought doTerra’s EOs I was paying not only for the EOs but also paying for profits for the company and at least two or three other levels of representatives as well. With Eden’s Garden, I’m paying the company, and that’s it. Hence the more reasonable prices. You’ll notice there are no links in this blog post. I have no skin in this game. I’m not an Eden’s Garden representative or “consultant.” They don’t do that. If you want to buy Eden’s Garden essential oils, look up their website. It’s easy to find.

I have no issue with people who use doTerra or Young Living or any of the other assorted essential oil companies. If that’s what you believe in, then that’s fine . . . for you. Just understand that you’re paying extra for the oils because you’re paying for all the people on your “upline.”

For me, I want to be a good steward of our family’s finances, and I can’t be a good steward by needlessly overspending on essential oils.

Sphere: Related Content

Socialize This! View blog reactions
  • Alan Trid Real Estate trackbacked with Alan Trid Real Estate
  • April 19th, 2012

    Ron and I are getting more and more into “the land” and being self-sufficient. I continue to enjoy raising chickens – and I’ve got a steady customer base for the eggs my chickens lay. I get around 7 dozen a week now. Not a huge amount, but enough to keep me busy at times. Ron set up two beehives this week – and we should start reaping the sweet rewards of that endeavor in about a year. So summer 2013 we’ll try the first honey from our bees. And our garden this year is beautiful! I already use the herbs almost daily in my cooking.

    Yesterday I cooked a pot roast, and it was very satisfying to walk a few steps outside and pick parsley, rosemary and thyme to go with it. The roast was so flavorful.

    Today I ordered a food dehydrator. It will be here in a couple days. I plan to start now with drying herbs and packaging them for later. I still have some of the herbs that I blended with olive oil and froze last fall. So I imagine when I dry them this year, I’ll again have way more than I’ll ever personally use. However, I can share with friends and family. I’m anxious to dry stevia and see how easily I can use it for sweetening things. It’d be great if it will work out for that. Stay tuned.

    Sphere: Related Content

    Socialize This! View blog reactions
    April 15th, 2012

    I have a friend, JeNan, who started a blog a few weeks ago. As I read her posts, it reminded me of what this blog was like in the beginning – before I got bogged down in political writing and trying to write things that were SEO-friendly (Search Engine Optimization). I put Google Ad-sense in my blog – hoping to make some money – and I did. Not much – but some. I would search Google “trends” and work hard to write a story on whatever topic was the hot trend at any given moment. Anything to get more traffic since Ad-Sense pays more when more people see their ads.

    I learned about how to use key words in my posts so that they’d hopefully show up on the first page of Google searches. If you Google “Remarrying Ex-Spouse, ” a post I wrote 6 years ago comes up on the first page of results. I still have people leaving comments on that post. If you Google “Silence Your Rooster” TMS shows up. Even with no new posts in over a year, I still get over 200 hits each day. Apparently there are quite a few topics that will still put The Median Sib on the first page of Google results.

    So I got away from the purpose and inspiration for this blog. In the beginning of The Median Sib, I wrote almost entirely about things in my life – what I was thinking about, my family, my experiences.

    The Median Sib will get back to that original purpose. Starting now. If JeNan can write daily for a month, then surely I can write two or three times a week. I’ve always wanted to be a writer, but I haven’t done much writing lately.

    So what DO I want to write about? I’m retired now. For the first time in my adult life, I HAVE the time to write. My goal over the next week is to think about the direction I want to take in my writing. Do I want to write a children’s book? Do I want to write non-fiction? Fiction? However, I want to take JeNan’s advice and WRITE – not just think about it.

    Sphere: Related Content

    Socialize This! View blog reactions
    January 1st, 2011

    I saw a quote this morning – “Life is a roller coaster. Ride it!” I love it! And that will be one of my goals for 2011. New Years Day is a perfect time to make a new start, to write resolutions and plan for the coming year.

    However, to REALLY celebrate the first day of 2011 appropriately, one must EAT appropriately. And that means the traditional Southern New Years Day meal – but with a little Carol-ism thrown in – just to make it personal. Here’s what I’ll be preparing and eating today:

    Hoppin’ John

    Cooked Cabbage


    Sweet Iced Tea



    Hoppin’ John

    1 can mild tomato/jalopena mixture (RoTel) If you like things a little spicier, use regular RoTel.

    2 cans black-eyed peas

    1 can diced tomatoes (optional)
    1/2 lb link of turkey sausage

    Cut the turkey sausage into bite-size pieces – dump everything together and cook. You can serve this over rice or mix some rice in it, or eat it by itself with no rice. It’s delicious riceless or not.

    Cooked Cabbage

    Core a cabbage. Then chop it into small pieces. Place in a saucepan, add about 1 cup of water. Season generously with salt and pepper. Add some butter (1 or 2 Tablespoons). Bring to a boil and simmer gently until tender.

    Cornbread Sticks

    2 cups cornmeal MIX

    1/4 cup vegetable oil

    1 egg, well-beaten

    buttermilk (enough to make a good batter)

    Pour into cast iron cornstick pans that have been sprayed with Pam and pre-heated in a 425 oven. The batter should sizzle when you pour it into the pans. Bake until golden brown. Serve hot. I like to crumble a cornstick or two into my hoppin’ john.

    Sweet Iced Tea

    4 family-size tea bags

    1 gallon water
    1 to 2 cups Splenda, sugar or Truvia (depending on your preference)

    Put the tea bags in a 1 quart glass measuring cup, fill water and microwave on high for about 10 minutes. Let it sit (steep) for about 5 minutes. Pour into a pitcher and add the remaining water to make one gallon. Add the sweetener and stir. DELICIOUS and refreshing!


    The blackeyed peas in the Hoppin’ John symbolize coins – a sign of prosperity for the new year. May there be lots of that in 2011. The turkey sausage symbolizes my American heritage – the wild turkeys from the first Thanksgiving. For me, it also reminds me of the land where RT and I live – dozens of wild turkeys reside here. The tomatoes and jalopenas symbolize good taste and spiciness. May I never grow too old to be spicy.

    The leaves of the cabbage are a symbol of folding money – currency. Again, may there be lots of that in 2011.

    The corn in the cornsticks is another symbol of my American heritage. Enough corn for good health, enough oil to smooth out the rough places in life, an egg to remind me of the newness of life, and the buttermilk to remind me that the sour places in life make the good places all the more sweet. Baking the cornsticks in cast-iron pans reminds me of what the American pioneers used in their travels cross country to explore new lands.

    The iced tea is symbolic of my Southern roots. Sweet iced tea is pure Southern!

    There you have it! A New Year’s day feast with some traditional and some Carol-grown symbolism attached.

    Sphere: Related Content

    Socialize This! View blog reactions
    November 1st, 2010

    This morning I took a walk through the woods on the acreage around our house. Since I was walking alone, I took my cell phone and my handgun. As I walked the paths that Ron had so painstakingly made, I was thinking about the uneven ground and how I had to be careful. After awhile, I arrived back at our house. Since I was a couple minutes under my planned 30-minute walk, I decided to walk around the yard for a few minutes. As I walked on the side of the yard near the AC units, I suddenly stepped into a hole – a hole that I didn’t see because the grass covered it up. It was maybe six or seven inches deep. Wham! I immediately pitched forward, landing hard on my right wrist. My cell phone and gun both flew out of my coat pockets. The gun was in a small holster – so there wasn’t any danger of it going off. I just report how they flew out of the pockets to show the force of the fall.

    My first thought was “Oh no! Did I break anything?” I used my walking pole to help me sit up and then stand. I picked up and re-pocketed my phone and gun. And then started to gingerly limp around – testing my foot and leg. My hand was a little sore – but okay. My left leg and foot – not so sure. I kept walking – limping – trying to figure out if there was any significant injuries. I called Ron. Of course, being me, I couldn’t talk to him without crying. He wanted to hurry home and take me to the emergency room. After talking for a few minutes and continuing to walk, I convinced him I was okay.

    It is now an hour later. I’m sitting in my recliner, and I’m no longer sure I’m okay. I’ve wrapped ice and ace bandages around my foot and leg – and both my foot and leg are aching and throbbing. I walked to the kitchen to get some cereal (hadn’t had breakfast yet) and had a really difficult time getting there and back. Damn! I sure hope I didn’t break a bone.

    So why did I title this post “Ironies”? Because I was worried about being injured on the uneven wood trails – but in our yard where I walk all the time, where there are no apparent dangers and where I never considered being injured – that’s where I fell.

    Sphere: Related Content

    Socialize This! View blog reactions
    October 29th, 2010

    In reading pro-abortion writing, I am struck by people who defend abortion by saying, “If my daughter was raped, I would go with her to get an abortion and hold her hand throughout!” As though pregnancy from rape is a major issue in the abortion debate. Of course it happens, but rape is a minor part of the abortion industry.

    However, regardless of how the pregnancy is started, abortion kills a baby. Abortion stops a beating heart. That’s a fact. Two wrongs do not make a right.

    President Obama once remarked about his own daughters:

    “I am going to teach them first of all about values and morals. But if they make a mistake, I don’t want them punished with a baby,”

    A book I read recently was Room. The story is written from the perspective of a 5-year old boy who lived with his mother in one room where they were captives. The mom had been there for many years, and the boy was the result of the mother’s rape by her captor. In that one roon the mother had created a world for herself and her son.

    When they finally escaped, the mother’s father had a hard time even looking at the boy because the boy was the product of the rape of his daughter. Other people had similar reactions. A news reporter asked her if she felt her captor had ever cared for his son. The mother said, “Jack’s nobody’s son but mine.” And when she was pressed about whether or not she found that Jack reminded her of the painful circumstances of his conception, she said, “He reminds me of nothing but himself.”

    A child is a child. Our heritage influences us – but we are our own selves. Why is a child whose father’s a rapist any less entitled to life than one whose father is a teacher or a businessman or a drug dealer or a miner?

    It’s a difficult question. And when I debate abortion with myself – because I DO understand both sides of the debate – I keep coming back to the fact that there ARE some black and white issues in life. Some things are simply wrong. And killing an innocent human life is one of those things – regardless of parentage or circumstances. Once a woman is pregnant, it is no longer only about her body. Her body houses the baby for 9 months, but the baby is a separate entity. “My body – my decision” is simply a cop-out – a way to sidestep to real issue of abortion.

    Sphere: Related Content

    Socialize This! View blog reactions
  • RealChoice: October 2010 pinged this post.
  • July 3rd, 2010

    (Sophie, Carol, Lily on the last day of school for students
    Walnut Grove Elementary, May 2010)

    As I walked out of Walnut Grove Elementary school on May 24, 2010 – my last day of teaching before retirement – I felt melancholy. I walked across the parking lot and got into my car. Then I looked back at the school where I had taught for the previous three years. I was ready for retirement – MORE than ready for retirement. I had taught for 30 years, and the joy that I’d experienced during most of my teaching career just wasn’t there anymore. I loved working with the kids, but the bureaucracy and paperwork and counter-productive demands of the county administration were wearing.

    Despite being ready to retire, however, I was also acutely aware that I was leaving what I would always consider one of the best experiences of my life. I hated to see that particular teaching experience end.

    In August 2007, I started teaching at Walnut Grove – the school where Lily was in first grade. I was the reading specialist – a position I truly loved. I taught there again the next year – when Sophie started kindergarten and Lily was in second grade, and the next year when Sophie was in first grade and Lily was in third.

    Altogether I taught at Walnut Grove for three years. Those years are the “good old days” that I will look back on with fondness. That first year I drove Lily home from school on most days. As we walked to the car each day, we’d talk about how we were “school buddies.” Many times we’d pick Sophie up from daycare, and they’d stay with me until their mom or dad got home from work. We’d run errands together, go home and cook dinner together, or sometimes I’d take them to their mom’s office.

    During the first half of the second year, we had “reading club” after school. We’d sit around the reading table in my office, and we’d read together. I was determined to help both girls get better with their reading. I was a reading specialist, after all! It’s ironic that the reading specialist’s grandkids struggle somewhat with reading! I was determined to get them over that “hump.” Then we’d head out to the car, and I’d tell them how much I enjoyed being with my two “school buddies.”

    Unfortunately that second year at Walnut Grove was the year that Lily was diagnosed with leukemia right after Thanksgiving, and all our lives were changed. Because of her treatment for leukemia, Lily couldn’t attend school the second half of that year, and she was unable to attend school the first half of her third grade year.

    When Lily was diagnosed, that was the end of the reading club. Our lives were suddenly crazy – and, quite honestly, neither Sophie nor I was ready to continue the reading club without Lily. And Lily was in such intense treatment, reading was the last thing on her mind. For the remainder of that year, Sophie and I were together a lot. I’d take her home from school, or, if Lily was in the hospital, we’d go to the hospital after school to visit. I became closer to Sophie and she was my only “school buddy” for a long time.

    It was January 2010 – about a year after diagnosis – before our lives became somewhat similar to how they’d been before Lily’s diagnosis. They had Brittany now – their babysitter – who picked them up from school on most days. Still, though, there were days when one or both of them would ride home from school with me. I treasured those days. Really treasured having both my school buddies with me again. I knew I would be retiring soon and that the days of teaching at their school were numbered.

    Most days I’d see one or the other in the hall as I was going to pick up kids for my reading groups. Sometimes Sophie’s teacher would have me to come to their class to do a reading lesson.

    Then there were some days when, although we were in the same building the entire school day, our schedules didn’t coincide, and I’d realize at the end of the school day that I hadn’t seen one or the other of them all day. And on those days, I’d make it a point to go to the car rider line and chat with them until Brittany picked them up. Often in the middle of the school day, I’d go to the cafeteria when I knew Sophie’s class or Lily’s class was eating lunch, and I’d stop by their table and say hi for a minute.

    It was the “being there” that was so wonderful. With all the upset of Lily’s diagnosis, it was good for the girls to know that I was at the school should they need me. And sometimes they needed me. Once I stayed in Lily’s classroom for over an hour – just Lily and me – while she slept on pillows in the back of the room. I stayed there with her so her class could go to lunch and then to recess. When she had fallen asleep, the teacher and kids knew she was exhausted from all the chemo and they tiptoed and whispered as she slept for over two hours. Sophie worried about Lily, and on the days that Lily had to go to clinic, Larisa (their mom) would email me Lily’s blood counts or to tell me that the spinal tap had gone well & Lily was awake and eating – whatever the news for that particular visit – and I would go to Sophie’s class and let her know. She was concerned, and knowing that Lily was okay or that her counts were good was a comfort to her. Sophie’s teacher was really thoughtful – and perceptive. Sometimes she’d send Sophie to my room – just for a quick Grandma Carol hug.

    And then sometimes – especially when Lily first returned to school and got tired so easily – her teacher would send her to my room to rest for awhile. We had a special “resting chair” that I kept in my office. If I was working with children, she’d come in quietly, we’d set up the chair, and then I’d continue with my reading group while she rested.

    As part of Lily’s 504 plan, she “tutored” a kindergarten child each day for 15 minutes to help with her own confidence and reading. I helped Lily make her “lesson plan” and gather materials. I was thrilled that my planning time coincided with the time that she and Kate read together because that meant they could do their work in my room each day. I would sit at my desk and do my work while Lily and Kate read together. I loved being the proverbial fly on the wall as I listened to the two children interact. Reading with Kate was Lily’s favorite part of the school day.

    Getting the teaching position at Walnut Grove had worked out so well – so many things came together at the right time. I had taught in the school system for many years and just happened to learn of that position the day the previous reading specialist turned in her notice. Within 15 minutes, I had my application in and almost immediately got the job. Was it part of God’s plan so I’d be there when Lily was diagnosed? I don’t know, but I’m sure glad it worked out that way.

    School will start again in August. Lily and Sophie will be attending a new school that is being built in their neighborhood. Many of the teachers at their new school will be teachers from Walnut Grove since the new school was built to relieve the overcrowding at Walnut Grove. And I will be at the school a lot – not as a teacher but as a volunteer. I will meet their teachers, and I will volunteer to come in each week to work in their classrooms. Most likely I’ll help kids with reading. Some days I will pick up the girls after school. Or, if one of them should get sick, I could be there quickly to get them.

    It won’t be the same, though. The past three years were almost magical for this grandmother, and I will always remember those “good old days” with a smile.

    Sphere: Related Content

    Socialize This! View blog reactions
    July 2nd, 2010

    I’m entering my second month of retirement, and I’ve discovered that I’m not a horrible housekeeper, after all. During my working life I was scrambling to get up, dressed, fed and off to work each morning, and by the time I got home in the evenings, my energy was low and I barely managed to do what absolutely HAD to be done. Then weekends were for catching up – something I never actually did. Now I’ve discovered the glory of the calm, retired life.

    I awaken each morning, amble into the kitchen in my jammies and prepare my mug of coffee. Then I sit in my recliner and enjoy my coffee and catch up on the news – either online or on TV. Then I make breakfast and see Ron off to work. Sometimes he and I will take a walk before he goes to work.

    Next I get a shower, get dressed and then, at my leisure, I make the bed, take care of dishes, laundry, generally straightening things. I stroll out in the yard and fill the bird feeders, check the garden to see if anything needs to be harvested. I might hoe some weeds in the garden or trim the rose bushes.

    If I have something planned for the morning – like walking with Meleah, babysitting Evey, being with Lily and sophie, appointments – whatever – I just do all the leisurely stuff when I get home.

    The house stays straight and looks company-ready ALL the time. No dishes piled in the sink, no crumbs on the kitchen floor, no laundry piled a mile high. The pantry is neat and organized. Laundry is folded and put away. I can actually find what I want in my closet.

    I’ve always read that a cluttered home increases stress. Now I’m seeing the evidence for myself of how a clean and organized home makes for a calmer life. It’s nice.

    Sphere: Related Content

    Socialize This! View blog reactions
    June 15th, 2010

    The mom of a child battling cancer asked for someone to sit with her daughter at the hospital for awhile this afternoon so she could take care of an errand. I volunteered. The child has relapsed twice from a malignant tumor. Although I got to the hospital on time – even a couple minutes early, the mom had already left, and the child was sleeping. The little girl didn’t look like the same child I met a year ago. Her face and belly were swollen from the steroids. As she slept, she moaned occasionally. When the nurse came in to take her temperature or to administer meds, the child cried out – actually she growled – and fought – “Don’t touch me!” “No!”

    The nurse was calm and reassuring. Steroids do that to a child. I remember when Lily was going through the first phase of treatment for leukemia and was getting heavy doses of steroids – she’d growl, too. Yes, literally growl.

    So I sat in a chair for three and a half hours and watched this little girl – a little girl who should be outside playing with her friends, going swimming, enjoying a summer of fun. But she is in the hospital, in pain and being treated with drugs that change not only her outward appearance but her personality as well. Her innocence, her childhood have been stolen by cancer.

    EVERY single adult in the country should be required to spend at least one afternoon in a hospital room with a “cancer kid.” It changes your perspective on life. It changes your priorities. It makes you profoundly grateful for your own blessings in life, and it makes you profoundly determined to do WHATEVER you can to end this atrocity. It makes you determined to bring attention to the need for more research on childhood cancer. NO child should ever have to endure what these precious children must endure.

    I’m very proud that Lily’s foundation – Lily’s Garden – has funded an endowment at the Monroe Carell Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt to further research on childhood cancer. But that is only a fraction of what is needed. There IS a cure out there. There IS a cause of cancer. And only more research will find the causes and the cures.

    Sphere: Related Content

    Socialize This! View blog reactions