- My four year old daughter’s first words to me this morning were, “I love you Dad.” After returning the sentiment, I asked what it is she likes about me. She said, after a moment’s pause, “Your hair looks good.” If only I’d known it could be so simple. I could have saved myself the stress of worrying about being a good role model, setting boundaries and providing some tough love when necessary. All I really needed was to make sure I have enough hair gel.
- Cheating on Sandra Bullock is kind of like having a brand new Porsche and thinking, “This car just isn’t good enough.”
- Hurray for the “little guy.” Go Murray State and Ohio University. Keep up the good work in the NCAA tournament!
- I’m so thankful for my wonderful family. I had lunch with most of late mother’s sisters and one of her brothers and one of my cousins this past week. They are wonderful, open-hearted people, and it’s like being able to have lunch with my mom again. Like many whose parents have passed, I wish I would have had lunch with my mom more often than I did as an adult (especially if she had made it…mmm!), but there are so many similarities between my mother and her sisters that I feel blessed to have the aunts still in my life. (One of them gave me some holy water to use on my swollen legs, which I thought was very touching!
- I love that spring is near and that it is sunny and 70 degrees here today. Cardinal baseball can’t be too far away.
- I resisted the Facebook craze for a long time and still find myself annoyed at status updates like, “I’ve been cleaning my floors today” or messages giving me the thrilling news that someone scored 8 billion points on a game called “Pork N Bean Shuffle.” However, I am really enjoying a couple of rekindled high school friendships and am thankful to Facebook for them. With all the crappy news we hear every day, it’s nice to know there are still some good people out there.
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Tags: children, family, life, parenting, Patti's 1880's Settlement, Sandra Bullock
Categories : children, family, kids, life
New Orleans suffered one of the worst heartbreaking disasters that has ever occurred in the United States. The city is today still attempting to recover from the unspeakable horrors caused by Hurricane Katrina nearly five years ago. Many great people in the area have refused to let scenes like these kill their spirit or their optimism.
There are heroes like Norman Francis, an African American man born in 1931 in Lafayette, Louisiana. His father was a barber who rode a bike to work every day because the family could not afford a car. His mother was a homemaker. They were poor, but Norman later said he never realized it. (Further proof that money is way overrated). He shined shoes as a young boy. His parents emphasized the importance of a good education and made certain that Norman attended and took it seriously.
As it turns out, they needn’t have worried. Norman Francis did take school seriously, and he went on to attend Xavier University in New Orleans, where he worked in the library repairing damaged books. Ironic, since he would go on to be a central figure in the repairing of the whole city. In the 50s, he became the first African American accepted to the Loyola University Law School in New Orleans.
A couple of years later, he returned to Xavier University to begin his professional career, starting as Dean of Men. He was instrumental in providing dorm rooms for “Freedom Riders” whose bus had been attacked in Alabama during the Civil Rights Movement. He quickly moved up the ranks at Xavier and became the university’s president in 1968. He is still in that role today and is the longest tenured University President in the nation. He has spent his life working to improve the lives of those around him and is the chair of the Louisiana Recovery Authority, whose primary responsibility is to help the region recover and rebuild in the aftermath of Katrina.
He has received commendations from Nelson Mandela, Pope John Paul II and two United States Presidents, among others. In 2006, he received this nation’s highest award for a civilian, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. When receiving it, he said, “These are the sorts of things that happen in one’s lifetime that you never expect. I accept it for all the people who made this possible, whose shoulders I’m standing on and who helped me be encouraged to work hard and to serve the career that I chose. They all are part of this award. It’s not for me alone.”
He has loved and worked for the people of a city that has seen so much sadness and despair for the last five years and now is bristling with excitement over their Super Bowl team. Sports (though I love them) don’t matter much in the big scheme of things, but the Saints have an opportunity to bring joy to a region that deserves it right now, and I hope that they do.
Oh yeah, Norman Francis, a lifelong sports fan, was one of the initial members of the ownership group who brought the NFL to New Orleans, and one of the only minority ones as well. He’s been waiting over 40 years for a Super Bowl Championship to come to the city he loves. The Saints may be a five point underdog to the Colts, but this city has been an underdog since Katrina swept through in 2005, and they haven’t given up yet. Go Saints.
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Tags: culture, hurricane katrina, life, norman francis, super bowl
Categories : life, people, sports, super bowl, Uncategorized
Saying that my four-year-old daughter does not come from a long line of technologically advanced people is an understatement. I offer the following true stories as proof.
In the early nineties, I acquired my first personal home computer of my very own. It was exciting, but I felt a little intimidated. I know that I resisted going to any sites such as Playboy.com for the first few days. At some point, however, it was time to find out what all the internet fuss was about. Fate played a cruel trick on me that day with a strike of malicious, unfortunate timing. Not more than ten seconds after going to such a site for the first time, I received my first on-screen message of “Your computer has performed an illegal operation and must shut down.” I now know this has nothing to do with the government or decency laws. At the time, however, I experienced momentary panic and even unplugged my computer. I thought the police had been watching my online movements. I realized a little later that I was just being an idiot. Years later, I admitted this faux pas to a couple of friends and learned that I am not alone. One friend’s father was once trying to play some sort of online game when he received this message. He ended up hiding in his garage, thinking law enforcement was on the way to grab him. This made me feel slightly better.
But back to my blood relatives. My own mother and father were very afraid of technology. One time, many years ago when I still lived at home, a twenty-something family member had come over from his apartment to use my parents’ hose and driveway to wash his car. He left his beeper (yes, this was back in beeper/pager days) on my parents’ table. It’s unfortunate that I was not home and that he was outside when the beeper went off. My parents were alarmed and first did not realize from where the beeping was coming. Once they located the thing, they of course had absolutely no idea what it was and grew nervous. Long story short, they literally picked it up gently and set it in the middle of the back yard in case it was “going to explode or something.” At some point later, my other family member came in and asked if my parents knew where his beeper was, thus solving the mystery.
Once I moved away from home, I had to return there any time the power had gone out because their VCR would reset in such a way that their cable tv was no longer coming in. There was a better chance of my mother accidentally discovering a cure for cancer while making chicken and dumplings than there was of them being able to navigate the VCR menu and fix the settings. I’m hoping that either Heaven is technology free or that you get some fantastic tutorial from St. Peter himself upon arrival or they may be floundering around up there.
I have an older sister who just recently added texting to her cell phone usage. She sent me her first trial text (which took her about a day to “type out”), and I responded with what I thought was a very simple reply, just to let her know I received it. I sent, “Texting rules!” back to her, as in “Texting is cool” or “Texting is good.” I did not hear back from her but instead ran into her at a grocery store the next day. She said, “Oh, it wouldn’t let me read the text you sent back. I think it thought there was something lewd in your text…it said something about breaking texting rules.” It took me a second before I realized what had happened. She thought my statement of “Texting rules!” was some sort of warning from her cell phone company police. So, I explained it to her. I want to make it clear that these are intelligent, sensible people otherwise.
So, you would think my daughter would be in trouble when it comes to technology. However, she is not. I think maybe God decided to add some technology savvy into the DNA for any children born after, say, 1985. She seems to inherently understand devices. She can easily navigate through my mp3 player to use album cover art to pick the song she wants. I gave her a used digital camera to play with, and it took her no time at all to figure out how to switch between photos and recording moving video. I’m telling you; I dread the day when she can read everything on the tv guide screen because I’m never again going to get to watch anything other than children’s animated shows once that happens. I’m considering holding her back from kindergarten for just that very reason! Then again, I should send her because you never know when my laptop could stop working, and maybe, just maybe, she’ll know how to fix it.
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Tags: children, computers, family, humor, kids
Categories : family, humor, kids, life, technology
I’m no blog expert, but I’m pretty sure it’s poor blog management when you “disappear” and pen nothing new in three months, six months, nine months, or (choking gasp) nearly one full year. I have been charged with the following offenses: Blog abandonment, neglect of a diary-like webspace, and being a blog-block. I am here to readily admit to being guilty of these crimes, which are considered felonies in the justice system of the blogosphere. Unsure of the punishment I deserve, I face you, the jury and give the following defense:
A conglomeration of events occurred, causing my creative energy to be squelched. Some of you may remember that I was chronicling the mystery swelling that was wrecking my physical health. (Unfortunately, it is still undiagnosed and is not improved, but I am dealing with it and currently trying some extreme dieting ideas to try to pinpoint the problem myself). At some point, there simply were no more words to say about it and no good news to report. I didn’t want the blog to be a wallowing pity party, and it was becoming clear that there was not a solution coming any time soon. That was event number one.
Around a year ago, my then wife decided that she could not handle my illness any longer and informed me she had filed for a divorce. There were some signs (big ones, actually), but it was still a shock. I certainly felt betrayed. That was event number two, which actually counts as about one million events rolled into one since I was worried about what this would do to my daughter, custody issues, quickly finding a new house, selling ours, figuring out how to afford health insurance, etc.
I’ve certainly thought about my blog since then, but I just didn’t know what to do with it. I considered deleting it. I considered moving some of the past entries into a brand new blog. Most of all, I just couldn’t stomach coming to it. Until now. I am ready. I love my new house. My daughter is incredibly inspiring (I do have co-custody and have her half the time), and I am a happy person at peace (except for the health issue, of course). My faith is strongly intact. I decided to keep the blog the way it was, sans a couple of “couple” pictures and some obvious updates that were needed “about me” in light of the situation. I could go back and delete any entries where I praised my wife or that sort of thing, but the reality is that whatever I wrote at that time was the truth in my world at that moment so I’m leaving it alone.
So I guess I’m back in case there are two or three people out there who give a crap whether this blog exists or not and are willing to forgive my neglect instead of tossing me in blog solitary confinement. By the way, this will not be a blog to rip my ex. She’s a good mother; that’s all that matters to me about her anymore. We’re on friendly terms. I’ve chosen for the sake of my daughter and my own peace of mind not to be bitter. That will be the last said about that by me.
My daughter, nearing kindergarten age, seems to be taking everything in stride. I am very thankful for this. She is the light of my being, and I never want to see her hurt. She is currently obsessed with the idea of me marrying Trish from the television show “Clean House.” At least she seems to have good taste! Oh, and my daughter just asked me to be her Valentine. Life is beautiful.
It’s good to be here and to get reacquainted with you. Hi, I’m Matt.
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Tags: blog neglect, blogging, family, health, life, personal, relationships, swelling
Categories : blogging, family, life, personal
- Swelling: It’s been a couple of months (almost) since my trip to Mayo Clinic, and my local doctor is working with me on their recommendations. Overall, I’ve lost about 15 of the 45 lbs of swelling that I had. The progress has been slow and with a few ups and downs, but it’s heading in the right direction – giving me great hope. I’m moving a little better and looking slightly less freakish, but I’m not yet at a point of being able to return to my “normal” life (which would probably still be a bit abnormal to most, but that’s a different story). There is a very recent possibility as far as a potential cause that I discovered quite by accident. It’s possible that another medicine that no doctor even remotely suspected could have something to do with the swelling. This is something SO recent that I’m not going to bother going into detail here, but after a few days off of it, I’m seeing a little better progress each day. Anyway, the news is good right now…slow, but good.
- From Cool to Tool: It’s funny how things can go from being “awesome” to “dorky” in a relatively short time. Parachute pants, jeans jackets, the Men Without Hats’ tune Safety Dance and the use of “air quotes” are good examples. To me, the Blue Tooth headset has joined this sad list. I’m not bashing anyone who really needs to use one, and I understand they can be effective tools in some situations. However, speaking of tools, that’s exactly what I think when I see a dude walking around outside and talking loudly with that dorky-looking thing stuck on his ear – what a tool. I think they have gone from cutting edge, status symbol territory into something that losers THINK makes them look cool. Who is with me on this? I’m really curious.
- Kid update: My three and a half year old girl, who seems to think she is about 12, continues to be the light of my life. Sadly, she currently believes that she is the funniest person on earth whenever she inserts the word poop into a song. Example: Twinkle, Twinkle Little POOP! She may not have the most sophisticated style of humor yet, but she continues to amaze me in other ways. She very much enjoyed watching Charlotte’s Web. The ending, of course, lead to a discussion about death. (Spoiler alert if you still do not know what happens at the end). She asked questions about why Charlotte had to die. We talked about living a long life and how people go to heaven. First, she wanted to know if her dog would go to heaven. Since everyone knows that they do, I answered in the affirmative. She then asked if she could live with Mommy and Daddy when she goes to heaven after she gets old. I’m not sure how her future husband might feel about this, but I answered with a firm yes once again. She then got a sad look on her face and said, “I don’t want Mommy to die.” I hugged her tightly and again assured her this would not happen for many, many, many years. Before her mother could get a big head about this, my daughter quickly added that she didn’t want “Elizabeth” (a friend of hers) to die either.
- On the “scary” front: I’m looking forward to attending a midnight premiere of the new Friday the 13th movie this week with a few other horror lovers. I’m intrigued by the fact that it appears to be a re-imaging of certain elements from several of the first few Friday the 13th films as opposed to just the first one. Anyone else love these old, dumb scary movies? Also, who else has seen the reality, contest show called 13: Fear Is Real? It has some of the same cheesiness as other reality shows (most of which I detest), but I can’t help having a soft spot for this one. The reason is that my nephews, friends and I made “scary tapes” as kids. They were cassette tapes that instructed the “victims” (we took turns being victimized) what to do and where to go in the woods. We did them at night, of course, and they actually were pretty scary some times. Even so, it was always more fun making the tapes than doing them. We enjoyed creating new characters and embellishing upon them in future tapes. Some of our favorites included: Slicer Dicer, Harry Maniac, Rickety Inflictor and Brat & Splat who were evil conjoined twins). Well, someone with a MUCH higher budget has turned this type of idea into a reality show. It’s fun if you like horror stuff.
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Tags: 13 fear is real, friday the 13th, kids say poop, Mayo clinic, not cool anymore, swelling
Categories : entertainment, family, health, kids, life, movies, personal, television
First of all, I can’t say enough good things about the staff of Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida. My week there, which ended this past Friday, was a very pleasant experience (well, except for the whole needle/camera in my neck artery thing during a venogram). Dr. Paul and Dr. Gonwa are awesome and continue to collaborate in an effort to alleviate the mystery swelling I have been experiencing for nearly a year. The staff at the front desk of 3 North, which became my second home for four days, were patient (more on that in a minute), helpful and cheerful and frequently greeted me with a playful, “Are you back here bugging us again?” upon my many return visits. The clinic is beautiful, and the weather was a balmy 78 degrees for most of the days during my stay. That was a very welcome contrast to the ice and below-freezing temperatures my wife was enduring back home. If you have to be in a clinic, you might as well be surrounded by palm trees and the sounds of tropical birds.
But the big question is: Did they figure out the swelling?
The answer: I don’t know yet.
Many more tests were done, and all (I do mean ALL) of the “normal” things that might usually cause this swelling were pretty much ruled out, yet again. Even some of the less normal things were ruled out as well. It does not appear that I have any sort of blockage in veins or arteries, including the vena cava. There are no clots. My heart, lungs, transplanted kidney, liver, pancreas, pinky fingers, etc. are all doing well. They say it’s been way too long for this to be a continuing reaction to the drug Rapamune, which I discontinued many months ago. The list of things that is NOT causing this goes on and on. Other things which now appear unlikely are lymphedema, celiac’s disease, cancer, blah, blah, blah.
So what is it? They believe I am dealing with one of two things.
1. It’s possible there is something unusual going on in my lymphatic system, something that would not be very simple to pinpoint with any easy test.
2. Dr. Gonwa has seen cases in which transplant patients have a weird sort of “reaction” to the transplanted organ. It is weird in that, the organ is working fine, and it is not being rejected by my body, BUT my body is still not pleased with this intruder and starts to retain water in a sort of mini rebellion against the situation. My body is saying, “Okay, foreign kidney…the anti-rejection drugs are protecting you, but we still don’t like you. How about we fill up with fluid? That should show you, you bastard.” This is my best attempt to explain this theory. I’m sure I’m botching it up a bit, and it’s far more eloquent when Dr. Gonwa explains it.
At this point, they think I am dealing with #2. The best thing about this is that it should be very treatable once we figure out the correct dosage and combination of diuretic drugs. This process has begun, and I’ve seen some slight improvement, enough to give me hope. Just today, the dosage of one medication was doubled. I think we might be on the right track.
As I take a wait and see approach, I think back on my trip and realize how many people I need to thank. My sister (the kidney donor) and her husband graciously took me in for the week. How lucky am I to have family living near a Mayo Clinic? My other sister and her husband made the long trip with me, which made it much more enjoyable. That “lucky” brother-in-law had the pleasure of chauffeuring me around, including early morning trips to the clinic each day. I also have to thank my wife, who was suddenly thrust into a week of “single-parenting” a very rambunctious toddler.
And, as I mentioned already, the staff of Mayo deserve major kudos. Most of the patients who were there seemed to realize they were in a special place and were thankful for that. There were quite a few retired doctors there as patients (I figured this was a good sign). However, I witnessed two “interesting” patients who were major pains for the staff. The first one thought she was better than anyone else who was waiting. She was probably 50 or so, and she made a very loud fuss in her thick New York accent to anyone who would listen about how annoyed she was that she couldn’t have any coffee yet. She, like most of us, was fasting in case any fasting labs were to be ordered by the doctor. She was desperately trying to make the staff understand that she needed to be seen by the doctor right away so she could have her precious coffee. I’m guessing this was her first time dealing with some sort of serious health issue. In my mind, I was thinking, “Welcome to the club, lady – and you better get used to fasting in the morning.”
The second patient was a thirty-something woman who was loudly talking, ranting and complaining on her cell phone (in a waiting room full of patients) about some other female in her life who is apparently a “skank” and a “ho” and a “bit*h.” She was oblivious to those around her, including the many elderly people who were trying to tune her out. After this phone call, she then set her sites on the front desk staff. She complained about how long she and her husband (he was in a wheel chair and had a long cast on his leg) had been waiting for his appointment. The front desk staff person reminded her that it was actually only eight minutes past the appointment time and that they had arrived very early for their appointment. The woman did not seem to grasp this concept and cussed out the staff person before telling her husband they were going to leave. I guess he didn’t get to see the doctor that day, because she stormed out with him. The ironic thing about the actions of these two patients is that the Mayo actually did a pretty good job of keeping the appointments moving without the waits being too excruciating. This is despite the fact they see about 2,000 patients per day.
For now, it’s time to be patient and hope these medication combinations can fix the problem. In the meantime, I’ll enjoy the joy on my daughter’s face when she realizes that Santa has left a few things under the tree.
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Tags: kidney transplant, Mayo clinic, swelling
Categories : family, health, life, personal
It’s that time of year when good cheer is spread everywhere except in packed store aisles where shoppers’ carts recklessly crash into each other while racing around in search of those hard-to-find Christmas gifts. It follows then, that it must be time for my wife (see hers here) and me to bust out or annual Christmas meme. Feel free to use it; we’d love to see your answers.
1. What’s the best Christmas gift you have ever received? What’s the worst?
It’s difficult to pinpoint the best. I probably answered differently last year, but I’ll go with the electric train set I received as a child. It was circling the Christmas tree when I woke up.
The worst I received was while working at Goodwill. I “won” a freaking canned ham in a raffle there. It was disgusting to look at. I didn’t venture a taste.
2. What is your favorite Christmas movie moment?
3. What is your favorite version of a Christmas song?
I’ll Be Home for Christmas by Frank Sinatra. My late father, who was a prisoner of war during WWII, once told me this was his favorite Christmas song (not necessarily the Sinatra version) because of his time during the war. That always stuck with me.
4. Describe an ornament that has special significance to you.
My ravishing wife gave this one to me. The sign says, “I burn 4 U.”
5. Have you had any traumatic Christmas-related experiences?
Just the one with the aforementioned canned ham. I swear that thing was alive.
6. What is your happiest Christmas memory?
This year, just a few days ago, when my 3-year-old daughter sat in Santa’s lap for the first time and had the biggest smile on her face. She asked for a “Pink girl tractor” to drive. I also remember, as a small child, lying under our Christmas tree and watching the cool patterns the blinking lights made on our ceiling.
7. Favorite Christmas picture:
This one from many years ago because it shows a bunch of my family. Most importantly, though, it shows my nephew being a HUGE baby when everyone else is having a blast. What a tool. See his blog here.
8. What’s on your grown up wish list (other than world peace, of course)?
Just to keep getting to be around this beauty:
9. What Christmas TV special do you look forward to all year?
The Year Without a Santa Claus because of the Heat Miser and Snow Miser. I’m looking forward to their new special, called A Miser Brothers Christmas on ABC Family.
10. What famous person would you most like to encounter under the mistletoe?
I’ll go with Brooke Burke.
11. What’s the best thing to do in the snow?
I always thought it was cool to build a sort of igloo out of it, dig a couple of tunnels and then make my poor cat go in it with me. I don’t have a pic of him in an igloo, but here he is in a happier place, resting on top of one of my other nephews.
12. Favorite Christmas Quote:
I will honor Christmas in my heart and try to keep it all the year. – Charles Dickens.
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Tags: Add new tag, christmas, meme, snow miser
Categories : christmas, christmas music, christmas songs, embarrassing picture, entertainment, family, holiday, life, meme, photography, survey, Uncategorized