Welcome to my blog. Thanks for coming! One day I hope my little piece of internet real estate will be home to lots of family photos, pictures of my scrapbook and card art, with some random thoughts and memories posted on a somewhat regular basis. Mostly my world is very predictable, but occasionally some excitement will find me, so visit often. Who knows what useful (or useless) information you may find here.


Monday, May 31, 2010

The Last Full Measure of Devotion

A week ago, a Barrow County man lost his life on Hwy 316.  Though I didn't know him personally, he was a well-respected man, and so many kind things have been said about him.  Since the highway was opened, it has gained the reputation of a death trap, as many people have been killed, including a dear friend and member of my church.  Most of us drive daily, and yet when we turn the key in the ignition, we're not thinking that "today I may be killed while driving my car."  It would be difficult to complete the task at hand if we worried or obsessed over our safety.  We simply drive, and do what comes natural, and most of the time, we return home at the end of the day, and go through the same routine tomorrow and the next day.

I would imagine that a soldier serving in a hot zone is a little more cognizant of his (or her) mortality when he goes about the tasks of his day.  I would think that a heavy measure of dread and trepidation accompanies a soldier as he gears up for another day of battle.  But I'm sure in the back of his mind, he never really thinks that today will be the day that he will die.  To obsess over it would not only put himself in danger, but his comrades as well.  So, like a driver behind the wheel, the soldier does what he has been trained to do, and instinct kicks in. 

I've never really thought about the actual number of soldiers who have died in battle.  I've seen photos of Arlington, and American cemetaries on foriegn lands, and it always overwhelms me. White crosses as far as the eye can see. Each cross representing a life cut short.  Today in church, my pastor quoted the numbers of the known (American) dead from the wars - around 1.3 million, since the Revolutionary War.  Many of us know families who have experienced first-hand the loss of someone they love on a battlefield far, far away.  We've watched videos of funeral processions through towns where people lined the streets to pay their respects.  We've wept over people we've never met who were willing to lay down their lives... men and women who "gave the last full measure of devotion", to ensure our liberty and freedom.

There are those who vehemently oppose military action/wars.  There will always be controversy over some of the engagements in which we've been involved.  Memorial Day, in my opinion, is not the time for arguing over the Democratic or Republican, liberal or conservative opinion of whether or not we should be there in the first place.  It is about honoring the men and women who have given all. Instead of staying home and playing with their children, tending to their families, working in a job making far more than soldier's wages, they died far away from the ones they love, often in the arms of their fellow soldiers.

During my lifetime, I am unaware of any of my own family members who have perished while serving our country, but many of the guys in my family have served, including my father, my brother, and all of my uncles.  Army, Navy and Air Force.  I am so thankful for their service, and thankful they returned home safely to us. 

There's a family heirloom that sits in my living room.  It's a hand-crafted blanket chest that's in the neighborhood of 350 years old.  Inside this chest is a little "secret compartment".  When my grandmother inherited it, there were some items inside the compartment.  Among the items were some very brittle, faded letters penned by one of my ancestors from the battlefield.  In the Civil War.  He wrote home to his mother about "hiding in the ditch from the damn Yankees", about drinking bootleg whiskey that someone had obtained.  Of his love for his family. Amazing letters.  The story goes that the soldier's mother received word that he had been injured in battle.  Though she was weak from having given birth a few weeks earlier and nearly hemorrhaging to death, she insisted that she be taken to the hospital to see her son.  She and the baby were packed in the back of a wagon, and they traveled many miles so that she could be with her son.  After days of travel, they finally reached the hospital, where she learned that her son, her brave young son, had died shortly before her arrival.  He gave the last full measure of his devotion.  North or South?  Doesn't matter.  He was an American, and gave his life for a cause in which he believed.  I'd venture to say, that at some point in history, every family has been impacted by this supreme sacrifice.

Our nation today is facing challenges like never before.  Over the years our government has become the epitome of Big Brother, and many of the actions of our leaders do little to honor the intentions of the men and women who got off the boats and founded our country those many years ago.  It makes me incredibly sad to see the state of our nation, especially knowing the high price that has been paid. 

Freedom is not free. 

All gave some.  Some gave all. 

I hope there is a special place in heaven for the men and women who gave all. 

May there always be a special place in our hearts for them, and may we never forget.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.  ~Abraham Lincoln

Friday, May 28, 2010


Hi, my name is Cathy, and I'm a fast-food junkie.   Yes, I believe there actually is a 12-step program for weight loss called Overeater's Anonymous.  I'm not poking fun at them, not in the least.  I'm all about whatever works for a person to overcome whatever it is that has a hold on them.  In my case, my demons are delicious fried chicken fingers, double-patty burgers, chili dogs and greasy onion rings, ooey-gooey pizza, cheesy crunchy things, scattered and smothered hashbrowns, and five-dollar foot-longs.  mmm, mmm, good!  

I've found myself struggling a bit since surgery.  Not so much with the eating part, as there hasn't been much of an appetite.  My struggle has been emotional.  It's crazy, and it confuses me.  I have taken a reasonable surgical risk, and committed the remainder of my life to a new way of eating.  (See this post for background information.) 

I've found myself "mourning" over the fact that I'll never be able to eat whatever and as much of whatever I want.  Hopefully, I'll be one of the patients who can eat most anything I enjoyed before, only in much, much smaller portions.  Still... I am surprised at how sad I feel, how deprived I feel.  The strange thing is, I don't really WANT to gorge myself, and even if I had The Varsity's finest (or Chili's, or Outback, or Provino's, etc.) in front of me right at this minute, I wouldn't be able to eat it.  Well, maybe a bite or lick or two.

So last night I'm driving through Winder.  It was about 9:45 p.m. and I hadn't had dinner yet.  Though not physically hungry, I found my mouth watering as I drove down restaurant row.  At each of my favorite joints, I found myself imagining what I would order if I went to this drive through, or that drive through.  By the time I made it past all the restaurants and fast-food spots, I had worked myself into somewhat of a dither.  More precisely.. I was pissed.  I was angry because I couldn't just pull up to the menu and tell the person on the other end what I wanted, and, oh, by the way, can you Supersize that?? 

As the lights of town began to fade and I made my way through the country, I had an epiphany.  THE SURGERY IS WORKING!!!!   If not for the surgery, my biggest dilemma would have been where to stop for dinner.  Because, believe me, I would have stopped.  Yes, I might have been in a bad mood for a few miles of my journey through town, but the end result is that I did NOT do the drive-through (or sit-down) version of dinner.  I did not gorge myself with hundreds of fat grams and thousands of calories.  That is HUGE for me.  I was POd about it, because my old habits dictated that whenever I'm within a block of something good to eat, I'd better drive through (or go in) and get me some. 

But, because I have this little band inside of me, even before my saline fills and before it is working optimally, I have a tool that helps me make better choices.   Does that mean I'll never want my fast-food again?  Doubt it.  I'll probably always want it to some degree.  Just like I imagine any sort of addict will always crave, to some degree, the substance that they formerly abused. 

With the full moon shining through my windshield, driving through the country last night, I realized that this emotional battle may never be won.  I may always struggle with an irrational sadness over giving up the very thing that was killing me.  I know it sounds insane.  I can't explain it.  But I also realized for the first time in my overweight life, there is hope.  I feel victorious!  MY SURGERY IS WORKING!!!  Woo hoo!!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Thirty Years

Quick!  Can anyone tell me what event occurred thirty years ago today that made the news worldwide, and forever changed the landscape?  If you said the eruption of Mt. St. Helens, you are correct.  What an amazing, destructive display of science and nature. 

Today also marks the 30-year anniversary of my marriage to Randy.  Some have joked in retrospect that the destruction of a mountain might have been an omen of things to come with our marriage.  However, the dissolution of a marriage is more complex than science and nature.  Even so, the devastation of divorce is often not unlike the devastation witnessed in Washington early on that morning in May. 

We live in an imperfect world, and divorce happens. With a few exceptions, I am by no means an advocate of divorce.  Even without the obvious exceptions that make divorce "acceptable", many couples will fall into apathy, and without tender care and attention to what is really going on, trouble soon finds them.  It seems easier to turn a deaf ear to the problem and live in denial than it is to face the issues head on and work on the problems.  By the time both partners are willing to admit that problems exist, it is often too late. 

Do I wonder how life would have been different without divorce?  Of course I do.  There would have been much ground to cover and many problems to overcome, and who knows how we would have ended up.  I wonder, not so much for my sake, but for Whitney's sake, how things would be different.  You know, I will never, ever say that I regret getting married.  I was osmosed into the most wonderful family of in-laws and extended in-law relatives.  I was blessed with the most precious love of my life, my daughter.  What I lost in the divorce was years and years of closeness with those in-laws.  It's not just a spouse you lose with divorce.  I missed watching my neices grow up.  I missed all the happy and sad occasions that go along with family.  However, what I lost doesn't even compare to what Whitney lost by not having her daddy in her life every day.  That is a demon that has haunted me for 18 years.  How would her life have been different?  Though there have been decisions that I would have made differently for her, it is also impossible to regret some of those decisions because the result is two beautiful grandchildren, whom I cannot imaging living without.  Still, over the years, I have wondered.

I consider myself extremely blessed that through the years, my relationship with my in-laws has been restored, and I have cherished each moment.  Sometimes I tend to get a little emotional when we're all together, when I think of all the years I missed.  Losing the family is often more difficult than losing the marriage. I'm so glad to have my family back, even if in a reduced capacity. 

To my married friends, love your spouse.  This entails more than saying "I love you."  More than flowers and chocolates for Valentine's Day.  More than physical union.  This entails listening, being sensitive, encouraging, putting the other person's needs before your own.  And, of tantamount importance, if your partner voices concern over "issues" or "problems", do not ignore it!!!  Even if you think YOU don't have a problem.  Believe me.  If your spouse has a problem, then YOU have a problem.  Tend to it early.  If you can't fix it on your own, get help.  It doesn't make you less of a person to admit that there are problems, and that you can't fix it on your own.  Don't wait until the side of the mountain is ready to explode to address it. 

Today you can visit the Mt. St. Helens National Park. My parents went there years ago, and say that even now the devastation is evident, and the landscape is forever scarred. I believe that's what happens with divorce. We can go on with our lives, and new growth can emerge. Hopefully we will be able to come to peace with our choices and accept the consequences. However, scars remain, and lives (not just those of the divorced couple) are forever changed.

Cool Mt. St. Helens Video

Monday, May 10, 2010

Choy, Choy, Choy!

This rainy afternoon probably wasn't the most ideal time to venture out, but since I must return to work tomorrow, and since Whitney had to deliver and pick up some work in Athens, I decided to ride along.  We had a couple of other errands to run as well, so we decided we'd stick it out as long as we could and then come on home.  The stickin-it-out part got rather noisy at times, as the munchkins had little spells of... shall we say... uncooperative nature?  Oh let's just go ahead and say it... they had little episodes of Turbo-Turd attacks.  On the way home, they vascilated between moments of angelic sweetness and ... well total turdism.  During one of her sweeter moments, Leyland decided to serenade us with some of the songs she has learned at school.  Honestly, she surprises me continuously with the new things she learned.  Remember in Sunday School when we learned the song "I've got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart (where?) down in my heart, (where?) down in my heart" etc.  Well, Leyland was singing that song.  Only she doesn't say her "j" sounds perfectly yet.  They're sprinkled with a little of the "ch" sound.  So her version came out like:
I've got the choy, choy, choy, choy down in my heart (where?)  etc.   Then on the little reprise, she says "And I'm so happy, so very happy, I've got the love of Chesus in my heart, down in my heart"  etc.  So stinkin cute!!!   But what nearly made Whitney run off the road, and me break open my incisions was her rendition of the second verse:   "And if the debbil doesn't like it he can sit on a dyke, (ouch!) sit on a dyke (ouch!) (repeat).  Oh my goodness.  If you don't happen to know the words, it should be... "And if the devil doesn't like it he can sit on a tack (ouch!)" But no.  The DEBBIL can sit on a DYKE!!!!  Now isn't that just hilarious?  And Corey was just a-gigglin his little self silly.  So Greemaw says it was worth all the Turbo-Turd episodes to hear her singing in the backseat on the way home.  My precious grandchildren bring me such CHOY!!!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Mother's Day Weekend

Being a mom is one of God's greatest gifts to women. From the beginning of time, mothers have experienced the joys, pride, heartache, sleepless nights and worries inherent with motherhood.  Sadly, though, there are many empty arms this weekend, of those who have either lost their children, were never able to conceive, or unable to carry a pregnancy to term.  Mother's Day is a sad reminder for those who have lost their moms, but I can't imagine the grief that visits the hearts of women who long(ed) for children of their own, yet must endure a day that celebrates motherhood.  My heart goes out to you ladies.

Grand-motherhood is yet another joy granted to many women.  i wasn't expecting to join the ranks of grandmas quite so soon, but once inducted, I was quick to acknowledge that being a grandma is way better than being a mom. Can I get an amen from all my Grandma friends out there???

I've been blessed to have done the fun things with my daughter.  Girl scouts, class trips, middle and high school band, proms, homecoming dances, learner's and driver's license, dates, girlfriend sleepovers, late-night, last-minute homework projects assigned weeks ago, but due tomorrow, yet to be started, vacations to the beach, PSAT/SAT, honor student activities, college searches, FAFSA applications, shopping for dorm supplies .... to wedding planning, gown shopping, reception planning, food preparation, watching my beautiful daughter, ensconced in a film of white, being escorted down the aisle by her dad.  Plans were for her to finish her degree, with no thought given to starting a family any time soon.  God had other plans, though, and ten months later, we welcomed Baby Leyland into our family.  And another priceless memory was made as I watched my precious daughter bring another life into the world.  At first sight, my heart was forever melded into the spirit of that sweet little girl.. I was a goner!  13 months later, I learned that my heart would need to make room for another grandchild.  I must admit that I was concerned that I would never love another baby as much as Leyland.  As any mother/grandmother of more than one child will tell you, there is some magical formula, I believe sent from heaven, that enables our hearts to love more children, and Corey has filled a place in my heart that I never knew was there.  Isn't it amazing, the love we have for these little ones??

I look forward to making many memories with my sweet grand-babies.  I have so many to treasure already.  We're looking forward to a fun-filled summer.  I've had some work done at The 409, and the fence that once bisected my back yard has been moved and attached to fully enclose the back yard.  The sandbox project is complete and filled with sand, and has already provided much pleasure.  We have a new cedar swing set/play-scape awaiting assembly, and a Power Wheels vehicle on order.  Once the yard work is complete, the play-scape assembled, and the heating/air conditioning unit outside is barricaded from Mr. Demolition Man (Corey), we will find a suitable spot for the poool and fill it up with water.  That sounds like a recipe for a fun-filled summer!!!

As the result of 25-year battle with weight issues, I have found myself diagnosed with diabetes, sleep apnea, and intermittent hypertension, along with the physical limitations that go along with obesity.  Watching my grandchildren play, feeling my heart swell when they run to me with arms open wide, collecting those priceless Greemaw kisses, I have realized that if I want to be here to watch them grow, to have an influence in their lives, and to bask in their unconditional love, then I must address the weight issues that have plagued me for so long.  It is no longer just a matter of being uncomfortable, unhappy with how I look, spending tons of money on medications and supplies.  It has become a matter of life and death for me.  No matter how much money I spend on medication and supplies, keeping my head buried in the sand and ignoring/neglecting my conditions is simply a death sentence, or possibly even worse... sentencing to life in a wheelchair as an amputee, tethered to a dialysis machine and an oxygen tank.

Last fall I began researching the option of weight loss surgery.  I knew I wasn't interested in the gastric bypass option, but I was intrigued by the Lapband System.  After discussing the procedure with my PCP, attending informational seminars, joining several on-line forum groups and learning all I could about the procedure (the good, the bad, and the ugly), I made the decision at Christmas to apply for the surgery.  It was a huge undertaking! Thankfully so, as it is not a decision to be made lightly or quickly.  My mom, who has been my biggest supporter, offered to pay the $150.00 application fee.  (Another deterrent, I believe, to those who are not serious about the procedure.  The surgeon's office spends a great deal of time with each applicant, other ancillary providers, and the insurance companies.  For someone to be willing to pay the application fee, they are most likely going to go through with the procedure.)  I was required to have two visits to a psychologist, have an upper GI, a series of blood work,  an appointment with a nutritionist, and a letter of recommendation from my PCP as well as medical records to document three years of weight issues.  I was spared the sleep study session, because I'm already using a C-PAP machine.  Finally the surgeon had all the required information to submit to the insurance company.  I expected a three-week wait on the approval, but to my delight and surprise, they approved me in three days. Now the scary part would begin!  I would be required to lose 20 lbs before surgery.   My first thought was "If I can lose 20 lbs, maybe I can just forget the surgery and do it by myself."  However, I know my history.  I'll lose a few pounds, and I'll celebrate the victory by ordering two chili dogs all the way with a side of onion rings at The Varsity.  I have probably lost 500 lbs in my lifetime, and each time the victory celebration finds me off the wagon, regaining the weight, with a few extra pounds tagging along.....sigh....  The reason for the preop weight loss is to shrink the liver, which lies directly over where the band is applied.  If the liver is too heavy to be retracted laparoscopically, the procedure will be aborted.  So, I started the task of losing  20 lbs, and thankfully reached the mark by my preop date!!!  Woo Hoo!!!  (And I am horrified to admit that I celebrated the victory in a most unhealthy manner... which further reinforced my decision!!!)

As I write this post, I am sitting in my dad's recliner, three days postop.  My surgery was done this past Tuesday, May 4th, and I'm spending the week recovering at Mom and Dad's.  The first couple of days were pretty rough, but today I have felt much better.  For two weeks I'm surviving on a clear-liquid diet, then will advance to a pureed, baby food consistency.  Hopefully I'll be one of the lucky patients who ultimately gets back to eating many of the foods I enjoyed before, just in minuscule amounts, with the dreaded Foods To Avoid list.  I'm very, very excited about my new lease on life, and look forward to improving my health.  It's my Happy Mother's day gift to myself, and to my family.  After all, I've got many more Greemaw years ahead to enjoy!!!
Note:  Because there are so many opinions about the best way to lose weight/regain health, and because some people won't hesitate to shower you with negative remarks, I have chosen to wait until after the procedure to blog about my decision and my surgery.  The friends and family members I've confided in have all been very supportive and encouraging.  I've done the research, I know the down sides, the risks, the possible complications, and I know there are no guarantees.  The Lapband is simply a tool that I will use to assist me.  The food choices will still be mine.  The success or failure of the outcome is in my hands.  I used to think that weight loss surgery was the easy way out.  But believe me, there is nothing easy about it, and i will never think that way again.

If you are one who disagrees with my decision, I can respect that, but I invite you to share your negative energy with someone else at this time.  I'll be delighted to refer you to some excellent websites to do your own research.  For my friends who pray, I would ask you to offer a special prayer for me, as the journey has just begun.  I am determined to succeed, but I don't pretend that it will be an easy road to travel.  Thanks for your support and understanding.

And speaking of progress, so far I have GAINED 4 lbs!!  hahaha...  I forgot to weigh on my mom's scales on the morning of surgery.  OBVIOUSLY they are way, way off from those of the surgeon.  Blessings to all who will read this and send good thoughts and prayers my way.  Thanks!