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Stroke Survivor - female
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About lydiacevedo

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    Associate Mentor
  • Birthday 11/30/1968

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  • Stroke Anniversary (first stroke)
  • Stroke Anniversary (second stroke)
  • Interests
    Art - stained glass, painting, sculpture
    Mystery novels
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  1. IT's been 5 years since the stroke that changed everything. I'm mostly happy and live is mostly the way I think I remember it being before. I love my job, doing technical writing for a restaurateur company - you may have heard of them. They own Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba's Italian Grille, Bonefish Grill and Flemmings. Everyone seems to be very happy with the work I am doing. I get a lot of positive feedback and kudos. My granddaughter just turned a year old. It's been wonderful sharing the house with her and her parents. I so look forward to getting home from work so I can see and play with "Bugs" (short for Doodle Bugs", my nickname for her from birth). Cookie Monster loves being at home with her during the days and still going out with me when we do to places like the mall or shopping, on the weekends. I'm less and less dependent on him in the everyday, but having him in crowded or unfamiliar situations is comforting, emotionally, as well as helpful, physically, and he loves to be out and helping me. I've started seeing a nice gentleman I met in the office. Life is pretty good right now. But there are a few things that are starting to concern me a little..... I'm a technical writer, and my writing is just fine. But my speaking is getting a little flaky. I've dealt with aphasia the whole time. It took me almost 3 years to stop calling the tea kettle an iron, or to remember that the fridge is the fridge and nit just "the cold food place." Yes, there have been times that I've stopped, mid sentence, to try to find the word I no longer have, or pick up the train of thought that just got away from me, but they have been, untill recently, few and far between. Now what used to be a couple of times a day is becoming a couple of times in any conversation longer than about 6 sentences. My writing is still great. It's just my speaking that seems to be faltering again. I also notice that there are days when my words slur again. All of a sudden, well, over the past couple of weeks, my typing is fine, but other fine motor skills with my hands are starting to falter. My handwriting is getting smaller and has lost some of the artistic quality is used to have, which strikes me as strange, considering I am left-handed and the stroke left me right-side affected. I'm also having problems crocheting and doing things of that nature. To round it out, I seem completely incapable of transferring things from one had to the other without dropping, or at least fumbling them, and getting jar lids open is more of a struggle than it has been since the days newly post. I won't even go into the frustrations I am having at the fact that I, now, seem completely incapable of screwing a lid on straight with my right hand. It's all very frustrating and a little frightening to me. The fatigue is coming back. There are nights where I come home from work, play with the baby for about an hour, and just go to bed. On nights I am babysitting her, sometimes it is a struggle to get to the time when I can pick her mother up from work and go to be once we are home again. Sometimes, in the middle of the day, I find myself, literally, fighting to keep my eyes open at work. I've nearly fallen asleep at a red light or two. All of these things I will ring up to the doctor when I see him later in the week. It just, really, concerns me because I should be maintaining or getting better, not sliding backwards. It makes me wonder if something isn't very wrong with me. That scares me.
  2. Happy Anniversary lydiacevedo!

  3. There I was, snuggled into bed, having fallen asleep watching tv on 1/23/2015, all set to try get things done over the coming weekend, when there was a knock on my door. Tessa, who normally waits for me to respond, came through the door a second later, apologizing for waking me up, and explaining that she had instant messaged a few of her friends and they all said she should wake me up because she thinks her water may have broken. Nothing snaps a person into instant coherence than hearing that their daughter-in-law may have started going into labor. But, I chose to stay calm and asked her what had happened. As I listened, it dawned on me that she may well be starting to go into labor, so I asked her if she was feeling any cramping or contractions and suggested she call Garion, my son, to come home. As we waited for Garion, Tessa explained that the cramping was becoming more intense and at more regular intervals. It dawned on me that I didn't have anyone to watch Cookie Monster and labor and delivery were just one place I didn't think he needed to be. He would be in the way, and as he is protective of Tessa, I was concerned that if he heard her in distress, he would try to get to her. SO, when Garion got home, I instructed the kids to go to the hospital and have Tessa checked out. If it was noting, no harm/no foul. We'd have had a "dress rehearsal." If they admitted her because she was in labor, call me and I would be on my way. OK, off the kids went to the hospital. 3 hours later, at 4 am, I got the call "YEP!" I only needed the one word to know we were "go for baby." OK. Still having no sitter for Cookie Monster, I sucked it up and left him home alone with the cats, after making sure anything he might destroy in a fit of panic or depression was put up. Besides, he had the cats to keep him company. I also made sure all the animals had food and water, and let Cookie monster out before I gathered up my laptop and tablet and headed out the door. I landed at the hospital about an hour later, Tessa was still in triage, waiting for a labor/delivery room to be available, but since this was her first baby, it was taking a little while for labor to really get going. OK. We stayed in triage for about another hour, then they moved us to a labor room. In the mean time, Garion had called his brother and sister, and I had called my mother. Facebook posts of "Tessa is in labor" had also gone out. All we could do now was sit and wait, keeping an eye on Tessa and the baby for signs of distress, until it was time for her to deliver. Tessa handled labor better than I had. She had a laboring tub in her room and chose to labor as long as she could in the warm water. Unfortunately, after several more hours, her doctor told us she had to get out of the water. he wasn't laboring the way they wanted her to, since her water had broken, so they were going to start a pitocin drip to help labor along. I had terrified flashbacks to Laney's birth and the pain I went though, then flashbacks of Garion's birth and how I had "failed to progress" and ended up with a c-section. I didn't say a word of it to the kids, I just held my breath and prayed. God was listening. They showed up to give Tessa an epidural about 5 minutes after they started the pitocin. The epidural kicked in faster than the pitocin, so she never felt the mind shattering pain I had when the first "real" wave of a contraction hits you. I silently thanked God for sparing her that. By that time, the whole immediate family was in the labor room with Tessa, and the nurses were fine with that, as long as Tessa was ok with it. However, when the shift changed and the new doctor came on, she ordered no more than 3 in the room with Tessa at a time. O took control of the brood at that point and said "OK, sine Garion, Laney and I are the delivery support team, how about we go ahead and sit in the waiting area, and Logan, Kevin and Destiny can have some time with Tessa. It wasn't a question and no one acted as if it were. We simply got up, collected our things and did what I had instructed. In this situation, the kids were all very happy to simply follow what the nurses, doctor and Mom said to do. After all, we were the ones wit experience in this situation. We sat in the waiting area chatting and wondering for about another 2 hours, then Destiny, Kevin and Logan came into the room and told us Tessa was ready to push and wanted us in there. We all hugged each other and the 3 of us reported for "duty," helping Tessa bring our long-awaited little one into the world. She pushed, and pushed, and pushed..........and pushed. A few times I could physically feel her frustration, panic and fear that she hadn't delivered yet. Garion was the strongest I have ever seen him. He emotionally supported Tessa and calmed her down, refocusing her on the task at hand. A couple of hours later, and we had a face, then the shoulders....the hardest and most painful part for Tessa, followed by the rest of our little girl. Only 1 time, as she was delivering the shoulders, did Tessa actually try to give up and melt down. We got her out of it and refocused quickly, Tessa was shell shocked at what she had been though, after the birth, and was a little freaked out when the baby was put on her abdomen. We had to talk her down a little bit, something that she felt horrible about later, so I explained to her that I had felt the same way with all 3 of my kids, even going to so far as to tell the nurse that Laney wasn't mine, when she was born. It was ok. A lot of women go through that. It doesn't mean we are going to be poor mothers. Hearing that made her feel better about herself. But, she still refused to breast feed at that point. All of us, her family, were ok with her choice and prepared to support her, whatever her final decision was. Elaena Lee Lynn Cazzell was cleaned up, weighed, measured, and swaddled, then given back to her mother, who easily accepted her. Her stats were posted as 7 lbs, 13 oz/20.5 in. born at 9:51 pm on 1/24/2015. I shot the first pic of her on my cell phone, picture texted it to the kids, and they made the "official" facebook post, announcing Elaena's birth. I sent the first of the second wave of posts. Along the way, I had had the good sense to text my best friend Lisa and ask her to stop by the house to let the dog out. She has a key, so it wasn't a problem. I can' always count on Lisa to be there. Friends like her are few and hard to find. When you have one, cherish them. We finally got Tessa settled into a postpartum room with the baby. Poor little Tess was wiped out, physically and emotionally. She slept and Garion and I took turns syringe feeding Elaena until Tessa could try to breast feed her. When she finally was ready to try it, there was more pain than she could handle. Tess has always been very sensitive in that area and we were a little concerned it would e too much for her. She made the choice to bottle feed at that point. Several nurses tried to talk her out of that and into trying to breastfeed one more time, until I intervened on Tessa's behalf with a tone and force of will that challenged anyone to try to do anything less than accept Tessa's choice and that, as they say, was the end of that. At that point, I told Garion I was going to go home, clean up any mess the animals had made and get a couple of hours of sleep. He was going to spend the rest of the night at the hospital with Tess and Elaena. Long story short (or shorter, anyway), Monday evening, Mom, Dad and Baby came home. I spent the whole of last week working from home to help the kids adjust to being new parents. Today is my first day back in the office. Around 10 am this morning, I realized that the blue and slightly depressed feeling I was experiencing was because I missed my granddaughter. This amazing little person, who already has quite a little personality, has already endeared herself so much that all I have done, mentally anyway, all day long to day is eagerly wait until time to go home so I can play with her and snuggle her. By Tuesday, last, it already felt like she had been with us a lot longer than a few days. Garion and Tessa are quickly adapting to being parents, and Tessa has identified the same 4 distinctly different cries that I have. Garion is a little behind us, but then, women are wired to distinguish the differences quickly. He'll catch up. We are turning into a fully integrated little family, and learning to work together to see to everyone;s needs, animals included. And speaking of teh animals, Cookie monster is completely in love with little Elaena. He is never far from her, HAS to sniff and investigate any time she cries or fusses, and tries to sooth her by gently giving her tiny little ears careful kisses. I can't wait to see how their relationship develops as Elaena grows and can interact more with Cookie. I expect they will be the best of friends, and that Elaena will be one very safe little girl.
  4. Happy Anniversary lydiacevedo!

  5. lydiacevedo

    Thank you all of the well wishes. Asha - if I didn't have Cookie Monster, I don't think I'd have had the courage, poststroke, to even try to tackle the things we have done in the last 4 years. Yes, Cookie helped me learn to walk again, and yes, he keeps me from tripping and helps me determine if the people we encounter during the day are people that we do or don't know. Those are some of the things he is trained to do. What no one trained him to do, but he picked up on that I needed, was bring me out of depression, give me a sense of independence, give me a reason to get up some mornings, when I would have rather stayed in bed, give me someone to take care of, give me a sense of accomplishment for training him myself, let me know that I am never alone, help me to understand that someone always "has my back.". All of that fuels my determination to chase the things I want to do and prove to myself that I can adapt, we can adapt, that my disabilities are nothing more than challenges and that I have what it takes to overcome them, or learn to manage, in spite of them. I just hope the love and care I give to him are even a small measure of what he has given me. I am honestly not sure who rescued whom, between the 2 of us. All I know is I am forever grateful for Cookie Monster. I credit this sweet, loving, smart, eager to please dog with, in a lot ways, literally saving my life. Without him, I don't know that I'd have made it through some of the harder times we've faced.
  6. As I recounted earlier, Cookie Monster and I made our way to Dallas for a week long training conference. He took the airport, flight and ride to the hotel in stride, like he was born to it. I'm glad one of us is so confident. Maybe, one day, some of his will rub off on me. So, we checked in at the hotel and another bellman, well, bell-lady, took our luggage and the 2 of us up to our room. Cookie was alert but at ease and even offered a friendly sniff to the lady. Now, we were as administrators for the training conference. The company puts admins, facilitators and role players up in single accommodations, while learners share with a roommate for the week. I looked at the hotel online before we left Florida and was expecting a single room or, maybe, a junior suite. So, when I read the sign "Executive Suite" posted outside our door, I had to wonder, for a split second, if someone had made a mistake. But, the card key worked and the bell-lady let us into a very large space, with a separate sitting area and bedroom, The bedroom held a desk, side chair, dresser, minibar and 2 full sized beds. The sitting area held a full sized sleeper sectional, coffee table, entertainment center, chair, and dining table with 4 chairs, all leaving plenty of room for Cookie Monster to trot around, playing with his favorite stuffed animal - which he did after classes ended for the evening, every night. But, back to our entrance. Cookie wandered around the suite sniffing while I tipped the bell-lady and got information on hotel dining, etc. Once it was just the 2 of us, Cookie made a circuit of the place, trotting around, then walked into the bedroom and sat down, waiting for me to unpack us. I took Cookie's blanket out of the suitcase, one of the blankets that I spread on the foot of the bed for him at home, where he relaxes when we watch tv in our room, and where he sleeps at night. I spread it at the foot of one of the beds. He immediately jumped up onto "his spot," and supervised as I unpacked us and placed his food and water bowl on the floor. Having a few hours of "down time" before the first admin meeting of the conference, I decided to stretch out on the sectional and take a little nap - after I set the thermostats (one in the sitting area and one in the bedroom) at a temperature that would warn up the place. Dallas was a whopping 45 degrees that day and, being from Florida, Cookie and I were having a hard time shaking that cold feeling. Cookie decided that he would lay down on the floor in front of me, between the sectional and the coffee table and take a snooze too. At 4 pm, we headed to the concierge desk to find out where our conference rooms were. The concierge was very friendly and asked if he could pet Cookie Monster. As a general rule, when people ask to pet him, I give Cookie the encounter command and let him interact with the new person. So, I gave Cookie his command and allowed the man to pet his chin, then the top of his head. Then I asked Cookie to sit and told him "hi 5," pointing to the concierge. Cookie sat on his haunches, raised his right paw and waiting for the man to give him the "high 5." Our concierge was hooked and Cookie was his favorite patron for the rest of our trip! He even told us that Cookie might be more comfortable going for walks in the cancer survivor's park, across the trolley tracks from the hotel, as it was a bigger grassy area than what the hotel provided for the "small dogs" that they allow as visitors. Well, he was right. Cookie enjoyed that park the rest of our trip. At our first admin meeting, Cookie and I were introducing ourselves to people we had only spoken to over the phone. Cookie quickly endeared himself to everyone by offering "hi 5" to people without my having to ask him to do it. He knows it melts people's hearts and wins him immediate friends. So, by Tuesday (we arrived on Sunday morning), the wait staff, the business liaisons, everyone on my team, all of the facilitators, the role players, and a lot of the learners, were saying good morning to Cookie, separately, the concierge, reservationists, bellmen and housekeeping were his new friends, even the people in the business center (sort of like a Staples or Office Depot, but on a very small scale), got a daily "hi 5" from Cookie. On Wednesday, 2 hotel guests, that I can only describe as testosterone monkeys, hopped up on too much beer and too many sporting events at the pub in the lobby, thought it would be funny to call after, whistle at, and bark at Cookie Monster, as we were crossing into the area where our training rooms were. Well, they thought it was funny until Cookie growled and barked at them, in return. When he did, several hotel staff appeared from out of nowhere, wanting to know who had done what to either me or the dog! Those two idiots were warned to leave the guest service dog and his handler (Cookie Monster and me) alone or they would have to "seek other accommodations." Cookie and I thanked them and went to one of our conference rooms to print thins for the next day's events. That night, on the pillows of the bed Cookie had decided he wanted to sleep on, all by himself, there were the typical 2 small dog treats, and 1 big milkbone treat! The hotel's way of apologizing to Cookie for the mishap earlier in the day! Everyone was a little sorry to see Cookie leave, Friday afternoon, when we checked out. I think there is 1 or 2 more Dallas training conferences that we may be going to this year. I'm sure people will be happy to see Cookie again, and he will be happy to see them too.
  7. lydiacevedo

    I've been where you are, twice before stroke and once after it. I didn't learn to let go before the stroke, and surviving that didn't help me learn to let go when it was kid #3's turn to apply to college either. To make matters worse, NONE of them wanted to go to the same college as his/her brother/sister. Rejection letters are part of the process. The top schools get so many applicants that they can't accept everyone, even the best students. I've been there too. All the kids graduated with honors and "aced" their SAT tests, scoring high. They still got lots and lots of rejection letters. I don't know who was more discouraged, them or me. Hang in there. One of those schools will offer him a place, probably more than 1. Then your biggest worry will be which school to accept placement at, and how to make sure he has everything he will need for dorm life, if he goes to a school far from home or out of state. The next 4 years will be filled with trying to learn to let go and let him be a college student.... it doesn't end. LOL the good thing is, as with life after stroke, we really do learn to handle it with less anxiety and worry..... for being a mother. Chin up, get rest while and where you can and take care of you. That's the best you can do for him at this point.
  8. I was busy and anxious, the whole company "Winter break," (PwC closes for the 2 weeks of Christmas and New Year so that employees can spend time with their friends and families for the holidays), because right after we opened again, I was to be flying out to Dallas for a training conference, as part of my new department and team. That meant Cookie Monster (my ever faithful service dog and absolute best friend) would be going with me. I was anxious because he hasn't flown much. Cars, trucks, vans, busses, trolleys, boats (big and small), he had tackled these things with apparent ease. But take off and landing were worrying me for him. Still, being a part of the PMI team for these training conferences was/is potentially a big break for me and I was determined that Cookie and I could do it. I registered for the conference as an admin and booked our travel through the company systems, making sure there were notes everywhere to expect a large service dog (77# isn't small). I even called the airline a couple of days before we flew to make sure that had seen the notes and were expecting a large dog. American Airlines were great! They confirmed my flight to and from Dallas, and went ahead and assigned us seating in the bulk head area, so Cookie would have room to lay down, since he wouldn't fit in a seat and wouldn't fit under one either. The CSR told me to just check in at the gate a little early and we would be pre boarded. Ok, we had our plan. I called his vet and got a check up and copies of his health record, including shots so there would be no problems, had him groomed and had his nails cut. He looked gorgeous, had a clean bill of health, his vest was newly washed and ready. Then I looked at the forecasted weather for Dallas the week we would be there. COLD, COLD and more COLD!!! OK, no problem. I had a heavy coat for him. But is does get snow in Dallas. So, a trip to the doggie store later, he had a set of booties in case there was snow or his little Florida feet couldn't handle the cold Texas ground. I also picked up his favorite treats and a carefully calculated bag of dog food that would not put us over weight and accommodate his breakfast and dinner needs on the trip. I could have simply let the concierge handle it with a call to the hotel, but I'm not the type to leave things to chance, if I can help it. I thought I had thought of everything for him, so shifted focus to making sure I thought equally as well about everything I would need and everything the kids might need, in case there was a problem while I was gone. I wasn't going to be "just a couple of hours drive away," this time. The big day came. Garion, my son, works nights. Before leaving for work that night, he asked me to please wake him up when I left for the airport, so he could say good bye. Tessa, his wife, asked me to do the same, if she wasn't up already. Being pregnant, she has a weird sleep pattern and is up at all hours. I made her promise not to have the baby until I got home, but if things went wonky, my mother was on call. So, that morning, I woke the kids up, hugged and kissed them good bye for a week, pointed out the note on the fridge with all important phone numbers as well as my travel and hotel information, gathered an excited dog, our suitcase, carry-on and my laptop, and off we went, in the dark of the pre-dawn hours to be at the airport the recommended 2 hours before boarding. Sky Caps are GREAT!! At the curb where my friend Danielle dropped me off, one took my bags, minus the company provided laptop which I was determined to keep in my hands, and took us straight to check in, where we didn't have to wait in line, due to being "special travelers" (meaning the large sized service dog). The preservationist behind the desk was very nice and accommodating, got us checked in, took our checked bag, and let me know where to take Cookie for a pre-security potty break, which I decided was a really good idea, even though I had withheld food after midnight and water after 2 am, to cut down on the chance he would throw up in flight or have any other kind of accident. Security "pre-screened us, so we didn't have to do the whole "take your shoes off, take everything out of the laptop bag, etc." and we got through that pretty quickly. Cookie was fantastic. I put him in a "sit and wait" focus, then I walked through the screener, with his traffic lead in my hand. Nothing got set off. Once I was through, I called Cookie to me and he happily trotted through, as if he did it every day of his life. Also no bells went off. Then they swabbed his vest for "explosive materials." He didn't like latex gloved hands going over him and did stiffen, but he didn't growl and didn't refuse. He stood, rigid, and let them do what they needed to do. Everyone of the TSA employees on the floor had to stop and see the dog, and we got a lot of compliments on how beautiful we is and how well trained and well behaved he is. OK, I beamed a little bit, since he is 100% Owner trained. That really made me feel like I had done a good job with him. Plus, he;s always been an eager and attentive learner. Good Cookie Monster! So, through security, we were off to airside. There are things that sort of look like the trains at Walt Disney World that move people around the resort hotel and to the various parks, that take us from terminal to airside, only smaller and they move with more of jerk. Cookie doesn't love them, but he dealt with them, and before you can say "Bob's your Uncle," we were disembarking the tram at airside, with about 45 minutes until we were to check in. I stopped and picked up a pack of gum to shew during take off. I had Cookie's jerky treats in our carry-on, so he could be chewing too, so that his ears would pop. I also picked up something for me to drink, suddenly realizing that I hadn't drunk or eaten anything that morning....and my nervous stomach wasn't going to take food, but liquids seemed like a good idea. And we sat down to wait until we could check in at the gate. Cookie Monster is, as I have said, a large dog. He is white, with dark brindle spots on his back, covering the entire left half his face, a spot around his right eye, and making smaller spots (one shaped like a heart) on his left ear. When newly groomed, his white coat practically shines, so excited to be on an adventure, smiling and in a royal blue vest that read "Service Dog, Do Not Pet," sitting on the black carpet of the airside gateway floor, he is going to get noticed. I, long ago, surrendered myself to the fact that we would never be able to go out in public unnoticed and started to people watch. I may not be able to Adam from Ernest, or Eve from Olivia, but I can still read emotions on faces, and it's interesting, to me, to see the emotions that a dog the size, coloring and general description of Cookie Monster evokes in members of the general public. He is, after all, the love pp of an America Bulldog and a German Short Haired Pointer. In Florida, the general public reads that as "pit bull." Pit bulls evoke strong emotions in most people, both positive and negative, even more so when wearing a service vest. That morning, the vast majority of the emotions Cookie evoked were positive and accompanied by lots of "oh look, Mommy, a doggie," "what a beautiful dog," and "wow, he is magnificent, ins't he, what kind of dog is he?" Cookie sat still, smiling, and soaked up the energy of all of that praise and attention, until the airside agent arrived at the gate and we could check in with her. As we walked to the counter, she smiled and said, brightly, and with a laugh, " well, Tiny has shown up for his flight!" Then she check us in, confirmed our seat, let us know there would be another person in our row and told me pre-boarding would begin in about 15 minutes. OK. We went to sit back down, but our original seat was taken and, as it was nearing boarding time, a lot of people had suddenly shown up at the gate, so seats were at a premium. As things would have it, a gentleman gave his seat up for us. I smiled and thanked him and Cookie gave him an approving sniff. 15 minutes later, we were called to pre-board. The flight attendants on the plan didn't flinch when Cookie led me down the ramp and onto the plan, but they did comment that they had expected a smaller animal. I smiled and said, "no, I travel with the full-size version of a mobility dog." We both laughed and Cookie and I went to our seat. He tucked in, easily and laid out on the floor while a flight attendant helped me with stowing the computer bag and carry-on, after I took out my tablet and Cookie's treats. He laid quietly through all of the pref-light, and taxiing down the runway. When the engines revved for actual takeoff, Cookie got nervous, but didn't try to get up and didn't make a sound. I laid a comforting hand on him and cooed that he was ok and a good boy, while we took off, the wheels clunked into their flight position, and we reached cruising altitude. Once we were at 30k feet, Cookie yawned a couple of time, shook his head, ate his jerky treat, and settled in for a 3 hour nap. I turned on the tablet in airplane mode and watched a movie. Our seatmate commented that Cookie was both beautiful and perfectly behaved, and we both stretched our legs out over his back, so that he was, more or less, denned up half under the seats and half under us. We flew that way all the way to Dallas. About the time the engines changed speed for landing, Cookie moved under our legs and stretched, awake and alert to the change. He didn't shake as much landing as he had taking off, and, again, didn't try to get up or make a sound. We landed and he looked up at me as the wheels touched down as if to say "are we there yet?" I assured him we were down and he was a good boy. People, who hadn't noticed him when they boarded the plane, suddenly noticed the large dog sitting up at attention as they deboarded the plane. Cookie Monster was sitting up, alert and expectant, for the time when we got off the plane. We waited until most of the other passengers had gotten off, to make things easier. The flight crew helped me with our bags and smiled and said good by to Cookie, who got off the plane like a boss. Our next hurdle was baggage claim. Cookie doesn't do escalators. I don't think he feels they are safe. I don't think I disagree with him. But, there were no escalators to baggage at the Dallas airport. There were, however, revolving doors and no other way to get from the terminal to baggage claim. The last time I asked Cookie to take a revolving door, he flat out refused. I was a little worried. This was, admittedly, a larger revolving door than I had asked him to try before, and, to accommodate disabled persons, it did have a button that slowed it down considerably. So, we slowed the rate of the door and I moved us into it. Cookie didn't love going through the revolving door, but he didn't refuse, didn't freak, and followed my commands through it. Darn that boy really is a boss at things like this! I was so happy and so proud of him. He'd jumped every hurdle like it was nothing, so far. Our next challenge would be getting from the airport to the hotel. I figured we'd be calling a cab and I'd be dealing with a driver. I was wrong. Once through the revolving door, I spotted an obvious chauffeur, holding a tablet with the name "L. Acevedo" on it. My guess is he had been instructed to look for a short woman with a large service dog, because he recognized us almost at the same moment I noticed him, and he walked up to us, relaxed and purposeful. Cookie didn't think twice about this stranger approaching us, even though he was very alert because we were in completely unfamiliar surroundings. The man introduced himself and asked if he could take our bags. I gave up the carry-on, after retrieving both Cookie's coat and mine, and even let him take the computer bag. After all, the company had hired him to drive us from the airport to the hotel, and I had his name. When the luggage hit the conveyor belt, Joe, our driver, stepped in and took the suitcase I reached out for, pulling it off the belt like it weighed nothing. I told him that was all the luggage we had. He proceeded to lead us out to our car.....a beautiful, brand new Lincoln town car. Boy was I glad I had had Cookie groomed for the trip, and his nails cut. The seats were real leather. Cookie jumped into the back of the car like it was our car, stepped over the middle divider that held water bottles and snacks, and settled into the other back, passenger seat like it was where he rode every day. I climbed in after Cookie while Joe put our bags in the trunk. 30 minutes drive from the airport later, and a pleasant conversation with Joe, and we were at the Dallas Sheraton hotel. A doorman started to open Cookie's door, but Joe told him to wait. He let me our first and came around to Cookie's door, then told the doorman it was ok. I told Cookie to "wait," until I got his traffic lead on him (a traffic lead is a leash that is only 12 inches in length. It is made to use when a handler doesn't want their dog getting very far away from their side, due to dangers or close quarters). Lead attached, Cookie hopped out of the car. Joe gave me his card and let me know that he was at my call for the week. I thanked him, tipped him, and the bellman took our luggage, Cookie and me into the hotel and over to registration. We were in Dallas for the week, and well into our latest adventure. I'll post our trip later. I'm in the office today and there is work to be done.
  9. lydiacevedo


    It's been an interesting couple of weeks. Like most stroke survivors, I have holes in my memory, great, big, gaping holes that have eaten up large parts of my past. Most of my high school and college memories are gone. Well, they tell me they aren't gone, I just don't know how to access them any more.Not sure I believe that, but that isn't the point. Point is, I don't remember most of high school or college and what I do remember is, mostly, fleeting. So, here's the interesting part..... Through a friend that I do have from high school, and the "magic of the internet," an old boyfriend, from high school, contacted me. Well, he was pretty much THE high school boyfriend. We dated until I went to college, the year after he did. He sent me a friend request over Facebook, and after a little talking to people, I could place him and accepted the request. So, we've chatted, emailed, talked on the phone. When I explained about my stroke and what I'm left to work with, he understood. He even understood what I meant when I told him I was "face blind," and wanted to know my baselines, so he had a point of reference. He's a school counselor for special needs children. It felt good not to have to explain every little detail about my challenges. Anyhow, we got to talking, him trying to fill in as much of high school as I could handle, 1 conversation at a time, so I wouldn't feel overwhelmed. Believe me, I appreciate that. There is a whole lot to take in. He even sent me pictures from prom, his 18th birthday, a couple of dates to the beach, etc, and with them, he outlined who everyone on the pictures was, so that I could label the people. Then we talked on the phone (we live in different states), about the events surrounding each of the pictures, and he did his best to answer all of the questions I had. It was great that he was trying to help me regain some of my memories, but it was also exhausting. It also made me think about the person I was back then. I'm not sure I really like her. I wasn't a bad, or mean spirited person. According to him, I have always been loving, kind, and fiercely protective of the people I cared about. None of that has changed. But, he described me as always beeing a little "larger than life," a little "running several steps ahead while everyone else walked," and even, sometimes, a little " too adventurous for my own good." According to him, I was the girl that everyone wanted at their parties because I lit up the whole place and never let there be a dull moment. He also seemed to think I was a little unstable, emotionally. I was a little (well, more than a little) wild, but in a "mostly harmless" sort of way. I don't know, it just didn't seem to sit well on me. He wasn't trying to make me feel bad about myself, nor was he trying to make me out to be anything negative. I guess I just didn't quite know how to handle being face to face, so to speak, with part of who I was pre-stroke. It's been hard for me to reconcile Lydia then and Lydia now. Of course, there is a Lydia in-between, between college and the stroke, that I haven't met yet. But we're working on that.,,,,and I'm a little apprehensive. It's been 4 years since my stroke, or will be in about 5 days, and I've gotten used to who I am now, comfortable with who I am now; and while I am curious about who I was before, I don't want to be her any more. I want to be who I am today and who I will be tomorrow, not who I was. Then, too, I know that nobody is ever perfect, but I'm a little afraid of how imperfect I may have been. I know I've wronged people and that deserve for me to own that and apologize. But when it happens, it doesn't seem to make anything any better. I get upset because I can see how much something I did or said affected them, but I don't really have a memory of it, sometimes, and when I don't, my apology seems, somehow, hollow, which just upsets me because it doesn't come off as sincere, and them, for the same reason. And I know people get tired, easily, of hearing "I'm sorry, I guess I lost that memory in the stroke." SOmetimes, I don't think they believe me, thinking, instead, that I'm using the stroke as a convenient excuse. Then there is the second hello. My mother moved us to Tampa 30 years ago, this year. We left behind my mother's family and moved to a state where we knew no one. Back in Ohio, in the mean time, my uncle's marriage was breaking up, due to his substance abuse issue; his way of self medicating to deal with mental and emotional issues, I've been told. Anyhow, 29 years later, we get word that he passed away. Then, a couple of nights ago, I got a call from his ex-wife, my aunt. I haven't spoken with her in those 30 years. We talked a lot and had a lot to "catch up" on. It was nice to talk to her and I promised I call her again, after a business trip I'll be taking right after the new year, to tell her how it went. It was actually more comfortable talk to Aunt Kathy than it was talking to Michael, because she didn't really know who I was between my sophomore year of high school and now, so the focus of our conversation was centered more in the present or present and only recent past, basically, only in the time after the stroke, mainly. I handled that much better. I guess "they" are right. You can't live your life going in any direction but forward. Trying to go in any other direction, you end up exhausted, bruised and just wanting to got back to going forward again.
  10. lydiacevedo

    I remember when Garion, Laney and Logan went through that phase. It's one of the last parts of learning to let go as a parent and, I think, one of the hardest. Yes, you'll be relieved and happy when it is all said and done, but at the same time, you'll be saddened because if he goes away to college, he won't be in the house. And after college (those 4 years go so fast), he'll be out in the world and on his own. Just take a deep breath, let it out slowly, and take your cues from him. He'll ask for help when he needs it and he will love and respect you for letting him try to tackle this process on his own. All we, as parents, can do at this stage is keep the communication lines open, and learn to let them tell us what they need/want from us....kind of when they were babies and we had to guess what was making them upset/sick/hurt, etc. At least, at this stage of the game, they can verbalize what they need/want.
  11. My first grandchild is due at the beginning of February. Garion and Tessa want me to be an active part of Elaena's life (yes, we know the gender and she is already named), and I want to be as well. But, Garion thinks I won't be able to manage Elaena and a service dog, out on my own. I think he is wrong. Garion thinks I won't be able to push a stroller and hold on to Cookie Monster's lead. I push a shopping cart and hold on to Cookie Monster. He knows how to walk by a cart. A stroller shouldn't be any different. And I can always hold Elaena in a baby sling or front carrier, hold on to Cookie's lead, and still have 1 hand free. Garion think I won't be able to load Elaena and Cookie Monster into the car by myself. Cookie Monster walks to the car from the house and loads into either the back passenger seat or the cargo area on command. No problem there. I carry Elaena and voice command Cookie. Out in public, I load Cookie, then load Elaena, then load the stoller. Again, no problem. I unload the stroller, unload Elaena into the stoller, then unload Cookie Monster. I think I'll be just fine. I've learned to adapt to doing a lot of things on my own or learned how to be able to do what I want/need with the help of a service dog. I'm sure I'll do the same with Cookie and Elaena. It will just be a matter of Garion seeing that I can do it on my own for him to realize that I can. I don't think he doesn't think I am capable, but he doesn't see how it would work. It's a lack of perspective. Once he sees me adapt to having Elaena and Cookie, as easily as I adapted to having Cookie, he'll understand. What he doesn't realize is how much adapting he has ahead of him, going from doing things alone to doing things alone with a baby. It's a learning process, but one we will both get a handle on over time.
  12. lydiacevedo

    That was an awesome idea!!
  13. lydiacevedo

    Oh Dean, I am sorry about all of the child support mess. I was the custodial parent in the divorce, and think I am one of the rare few who doesn't take pain and frustrations about the relationship ending out on my former partner by putting a price tag on it. I also understand going back to work after the first stroke way too soon, having a second, and having to throw in the towel. It feels like you are out of control of everything, especially your own body. What I can tell you there is that is does get better and after some time, for me about a year and a half, going back to work works out, you start to feel like you have some control, purpose and worth, and your brain and body do finally adjust. It just takes (the word all stroke survivors hate to hear) time. I hope court goes well for you. You are in my thoughts and prayers. Good luck and God Speed my friend. Keep blogging. It feels like it takes a lot of energy now, but being able to deal with the emotions in a safe space, and this IS a safe space, helps to keep that emotion from sapping your energy in other areas. We're all behind you. You'll not only survive, but you'll thrive again, in time.
  14. lydiacevedo

    Sue, you were so open and welcoming to me when I first turned up on this site. You encouraged my blogs, laughed with them, cried with them, and always let me know there were people in this world who cared about me, whether or not we had ever met in person. You also gave me perspective on what was going on in my own journey of recovery, from a point of view I could not possibly have seen. I know you do that for everyone you give encouragement or advice to, and YES, it really does help. It really does ease some of the fear and anxiety. It really does make a difference to all of us. Without your encouragement and advice, there are some things I wouldn't have been able to talk about with my family, to help them understand me a little better, or what I was facing. I have the strong and continued support and understanding of my kids, not in small part, due to your posts, blogs, replies to my blog and encouragements. And I absolutely believe that as long as there are those of us who post here, blog here and attend the chats, everything you say helps. You haven't gotten too far away from it and nothing you have to say or have had to say is irrelevant. When I came back to StrokeNet, I looked forward to seeing what you had to say. I know you've made a big difference in a lot of lives. And if no one has said it recently, thank you! You do so much for so many, more than you realize.
  15. Whew! When one hears the words "four day weekend," one typically thinks "oh how wonderful, time to get a little extra R&R!" That "one" doesn't live in my world. LOL The office closed for the weekend at 3:30 on Wednesday. No one had to report back to work until this morning. At about 8 pm, Wednesday evening, I closed my logged off the company's remote server and closed my laptop for the "weekend," thinking my work was done. I had forgotten all of the things I still had to do for the Thanksgiving holiday and post-Thanksgiving activities. Silly Lydi! SO, after realizing I hadn't gone grocery shopping for the wherewithal to bake green bean casserole or pumpkin pie for the next day, I ran out to the grocery. Oh my Lord, what a madhouse that was at Walmart, on Thanksgiving Eve at 8:30 pm. It was almost as bad as if it were Black Friday. Remind me never to THAT again! 2 hours later, I managed to come through the door once again. Garion, God love his heart, had taken it upon himself to make dinner in my absence. I was so grateful for a plate covered in press-n-seal and left in the microwave that I don't even remember what he made. All I know is that it was, once reheated, hot, tasty, and something I hadn't had to make. As I ate, I silently thanked God for my oldest boy at that moment. And after eating, any plans I had of staying up to bake went flying right out the window. I called it a night, set the alarm, and settled into bed, thinking I would get up as if it were a work day, bake that morning and make it over to my best friend, Mike's house by 10 am to help him dress the turkey and get it in the roaster. Mike is pretty good at following a recipe, but who has ever refused an extra set of hands Thanksgiving morning, and this was the first holiday he had ever hosted. Along about then, my phone rang. It was Mike, wanting to know if I had a stock pot large enough to float a 16# turkey in, to brine overnight. Um, sorry, nope. Besides, I informed him, I have never brined a turkey in all the years I've hosted Thanksgiving and the white meat has never been dry. So, he asked me what my secret was. Simple, I answered, roast the turkey breast down for the first hour. OK, he'd go with that instead of brining because he didn't want to go to Walmart at that hour on Thanksgiving eve. I told him that was a good call and then asked if the turkey was going into a roaster, could I go ahead and bake at his place the next day? That would give me a couple of hours extra sleep. "Sure," he answered. We said good night and I called it a day. But I forgot to turn off the alarm, so, 6:30 am, like any other week day, the alarm goes off. I was raised on a farm. If the sun is starting to come up when your eyes open, you don't close them again. You get out of bed and get to doing chores, so, needless to say, with light in the sky finding its way between the slats of the blinds at my window, I was up for the day. So much for the extra sleep. If I'm up, Cookie Monster is up, so one trip to the yard later, he was happily munching dry kibble for breakfast, I was blessing the speed with which a Keurig turns out single mugs of steaming hot coffee. Thanks, Mom and Dad, for that Christmas gift a couple of years back! Then, of course, I didn't know what to do with myself until 9 am, so I listened to the news broadcast, made and remade a list of things not to forget to take with me to do the baking, packed and repacked those items, according to each of the lists and planned about 6 different outfits for the day in my head. Then, I jumped into the shower and, standing in my closet, trying to get dressed, turned down each of the outfits I had planned out, settling, instead, on a simple black, lightweight tunic and matching palazzo pants. If there is one thing I have learned, post stroke, it is that comfort is every bit as important as fashion, maybe more so. So, dressed, hair dried and put into 2 low pony tails, it was now 9 am and it's normally a 45 minute drive to Mike's place, so I loaded up the car, loaded Cookie Monster into the car, said "happy Thanksgiving" to the kids who were headed to Tessa's parents' house for the weekend, and off we went. Oops! With o traffic on the streets, that 45 minute drive turned into a 25 minute drive, putting me at Mike's house 35 minutes early. I knocked on the door anyway and was met with "you're early." My reply, "I'm always early, unless I call to say I'll be late." "True," was his come back as he stepped back from the door to let us in the house. Out of the bedroom ran Maggie, Mike's dachshund, barking a "good morning to me and Cookie Monster. Maggie doesn't, typically, like large dogs, but she makes an exception for Cookie, since he isn't a fan of them either and believes he and Maggie are the same size. The only problem they have with that belief is when Cookie, a 77# American Bulldog mix, tries to follow a 14# Maggie through her doggie door, into the back yard. Only his head fits and he ends up backing out and paring to be let into the yard with her. That morning was no exception. We let them out and I turned to Mike asking, "So, have you dressed the turkey so it is ready to put into the roaster?" After a few seconds blank stare I got "Huh? What?" "Have you dressed the turkey?" "Is it going some place I don't know about? It's dead. WHy does it need to wear clothes?" "Oh Sweety, grab a cup of coffee and wake up. Dressing the turkey means taking out the giblet bag, rubbing it with seasoning, and greasing it up so that it browns in the roaster. I'm guessing you haven't done any of that and it is now 9:46." "Are you kidding, I just woke up." Ok, you have your coffee,I'll take care of the bird." Turns out it was a good thing I had gotten there early. About 15 minutes later, I placed the turkey, breast side down, into the roaster, closed the lid and started it on it's way. "Thank you, I didn't count on prep time when I figured the bird needed to go into the roaster at 10." No problem, what is your best friend for if not to save you from turkey mishaps on your first Thanksgiving dinner? The timing for the rest of the dishes went much more smoothly the rest of the morning, with friends arriving and by 2 pm, we sat down to a fantastic looking, smelling and tasting meal. The rest of the evening was spent just getting to hang out and watching the Macy's parade that Mike had thought to record on the DVR for later, since there was a lot of activity going on while it ran that morning. We never miss the parade. Cookie and Maggie, by 7:30, were completely passed out on the living room floor, stuffed to the doggie brims with dog food and people food because everyone in attendance was a big softy who, as long as the dogs didn't actually beg, were perfectly happy to "accidentally" drop something under the table for them, as well as let them have the "tail ends" of things as we were cleaning up. Spoiled, spoiled, spoiled puppies. Good thing Thanksgiving is only once a year.....as is Christmas, Easter, Mike's birthday, my birthday, New Year's Eve.....you get the picture. How those dogs are not grossly overweight I can only say must be thanks to the time they spend running the yard, patrolling for feral cats and other intruders. LOL Home by 9, and though we had a great time, very glad to be able to tuck us into bed for an early night, with the house all to ourselves.......3....2....1....."Hi, mom, we didn't go to Titusville, Tessa's mom is sick." In walk the kids. "We did bring a lot of food back from Tessa's grandmother's place though. Are you hungry? Can you help me find room in the fridge, please?" A mother's work is never done. By 11, I was in my room, Cookie and Darcy, 1 of the kids' 2 cats, curled up on the foot of the bed, ready to call it a night.....3....2....1 "YEEEEEOOOOOOWL!" from behind the closed door as Pip, cat #2 makes it known that he is on the wrong side of my bedroom door. Fine, I let him with the warning that if he starts trouble or makes noise, he will find himself unceremoniously tossed into the living room, onto the couch and out of my room for the night.......3.....2.....1....."Dammit Pip!" The little stinker has decided to play "bedmouse" with MY FEET!!! Some days I doubt that animal is going to make it to his first birthday. Thursday night was one of those times, as I snatched him up by the scruff, gave him 1 firm shake, told him "NO," and unceremoniously tossed him into the living room, and onto the couch before closing my door and getting back into bed. Pip managed to engage his brain enough to decide it wouldn't be a good idea to bother Gal'i (Cherokee word for Grandma) the rest of the night. FINALLY! I settled in and went to sleep. Friday.......Friday......no working, even remotely. The office is closed. I don't do Black Friday shopping, no matter what, so why the heck are my eyes open at 7 am when I turned off the alarm? Even Cookie looked at me as if to say "I'll go outside later. The bed is soft and warm, and I had a long day, yesterday." I'm glad one of us was able to sleep in! It wasn't me. So, I said "good morning" to Mr. Keurig, heated up something that could be vaguely counted as "breakfasty" from the day before, came back into the bedroom and put in holiday movies in the DVD. Some time around 11, the kids got up, so I gave them a couple of hours to become fully awake and human, then grabbed my golf clubs and announced I was going to the driving range for a couple hours, leaving Cookie home with them. "Ok, have fun! Wear a sweater, it's cold out there today (for FLorida). Off I went. 3 hours and about 160 golfballs later, I headed back home, tired, but tired on my terms. The rest of Friday was pretty much straight forward, dinner, a movie with Tessa - it's become a weekly thing for the 2 of us, sitting in the middle of my bed, with a big bowl of popcorn, watching a "chick-flick," or some other movie that Garion has absolutely no interest in. I look forward to Friday movie nights with Tessa all week. I just wish I could get my daughter, Laney to come over and joins us. Well, maybe after the baby is here. Laney is a sucker for time spent with babies. Saturday was spent asa Saturdays typically are - picking up the house, doing laundry, running errands, grocery shopping and the like and it felt good to be back to the normal routine, if a little odd that I had been off work for 3 days now, and it was only Saturday. I kept thinking it was Sunday. Sunday.....the 4th anniversary of the day Cookie Monster first came into the world, and the 46th anniversary of the day I made my first appearance. He seemed to know something was going on. I woke to a text from Mike of "what time am I meeting you to go to dinner?" and a very waggy-tailed Cookie Monster panting at the foot of the bed. One trip to the yard, and we were back in front of the food bowl and the keurig machine. I should note, here, tat weekends are the only days I drink coffee, as a rule, so on day 4 of getting up and making myself a cup, I was starting to wonder if I wasn't forming a new habit. Well, I am happy to say that, today, back to the Monday through Friday routine, I have not missed coffee any. But back to Sunday. We weren't due to leave for my parents' house for birthday dinner until 1, so, as I am making the bed, something Mike calls a "useless exercise," my phone rings. It is the Prodigal Son. I haven't seen nor spoken with my youngest son, not for lack of trying, Logan in about 3 years, and only know anything about what he is up to from his brother and sister. So I was a little surprised to see his name on the id of my phone. But I answered and we had a very pleasant conversation for about 40 minutes, in which he promised to come spend a weekend soon, and we caught up on each other's lives. I didn't say anything about not seeing him. I've kept lines of communication open to him all this time, trusting that, like the young man in the bible parable, he, too, would wander home one day and I would, as the father in the story did, meet him with open arms and a warm hug. Make a child feel guilty for not coming home more and they are less and less likely to even try. BUT, just love them and be happy when they do come home, they are more likely to repeat that visit. I rather run the chances of him wanting to visit than not to. He'll understand, one day, when he has grown kids of his own. 1 pm, Mike turns up, actually on time, for a change. I druve him nuts, always being early. He drives me nuts, usually being late. It must have been his gift to me, to turn up on time today. LOL I'll take it. Of course, for having grown up in a home where his mother has always been early, Garion seems to never have quite gotten that lesson. So, at 1:45, we were loaded up and on our way to my parents' house, an actual hour away. Still, no stress. We didn't have to be there until 3, but knowing that Garion will be late to his own funeral, I gave them a departure time earlier than needs be. We arrived at somewhere between 2:30 and 2:45, right on time, by my calculations. Laney and Kevin, her long-time boyfriend, showed up around 3:30. *sigh* why can't my kids get this timing thing down? DInner was what family dinners at my mother's house always are - a lot of joking and teasing in good fun, over some really good food, with stories from when all of us, me included, were little. Throw a stand-up comic (Mike) into the mix, and you don't know whether your sides and stomach hurt from to much food, or too much laughter. And, when there are 4 strong and independent women, all of whom can be called "well endowed" are sitting around the table, with one of them being 7 months pregnant, the topic of conversations is going to turn to things of a feminine nature. Sunday's topic was well fitting support garment and where one could or could not find them in odd sizes and with closures that made it easy for stroke survivors and back surgery survivors to work them. At one point, Laney were lamenting the lack of sizes to accommodate a larger cup, and smaller back size, my mentioning a 36 double D, while Laney trumped me with a 36 H. Not to be left out, Mike chimes in with "do you how hard it is to find a 36 B at the Duluth Trading Company?" Which set off a round of roaring laughter. He's definitely my best friend for a reason. After dinner, a walk for Cookie Monster, and a cigarette break for Mike and Kevin, we were all enjoying desert when my mother pipes up "Should we sing to you?" To quote a line from the Big Bang Theory, I replied "Have you taken a marajuana?" So my mother turns to the kids and says, "Come kids, we're gonna sing Happy Birthday to your mother." There was about a split second's total silence while the kids tried to determine if Grammy was serious or kidding, and if she was serious, how badly would I kill them for doing it. No one sang. So, trying to egg them on my mother made another attempt and then asked Garion why he wasn't going to sing. "It's mom's birthday and I'm respecting her wishes today...." "If on no other day of the year, right?" came my reply, met with another round of laughter. Then Tessa looks at Garion and says," it's one thing not to want to sing to your mother, but to sit here and lie, like that to her about respecting her wishes......." more uproarious laughter! We all knew it was one long joke, which just made it all the funnier to us, since my kids were, none of them, the types to rebel or disobey. In fact, growing up, they never even once broke curfew. Then we all settled into our own little conversations - Laney and Tessa in the recliners, Garion and Kevin on the couch, Mom, Dad, Mike and me at the table, Cookie Monster laying between the girls getting his belly rubbed. My mom looked across the room, at one point, and said "it's such a shame that we can't all get together and just spend a relaxing evening enjoying each other's company." Yes, sarcasm runs rampant and is razor sharp in my family. Once back home from my parents', organized for the coming work week, and settled into the bed watching tv for the night, Garion and Tessa came in to say good night and give both Cookie and me one last "Happy Birthday" wish, but stayed to watch a couple of past year's "Larry the Cable Guy" christmas specials that were on, then, last hugs, lights out, and up to Garion's first day at a new job this morning, and Cookie and me back in the office after a 4 day mini-vacation. All in all, we had a good, if protracted, Thanksgiving holiday, willed with love, laughter, family, friends, and everything I am putting down in this blog so that I will have something to come back to and look at later, to help spark the memory. I hope everyone else had just as warm and loving a holiday as I did, and that we'll all have as good a Christmas/Chanukah/Yule/Kwanzaa, or other winter holiday. I'm sure I will have something to post before then, but if not, know that everyone is in my heart and my prayers. As this is "officially" the start of the winter holiday season, Happy Holidays!