Save Your Life - Why, Yes, I Believe I Can! Hellooo,CPR Certification!

Today I completed yet another step towards my foster care parent certification - first aid/cpr completion.
That's an EIGHT hour class people!!! (technically seven since you get an hour lunch break)
I took CPR years and years ago, but never first aid. Why would I-I'm a MOM. So I know first aid, thank you very much. If I didn't, would a hospital really let me leave with a brand new baby? No. When you give birth, you instantly know how to do most any first aid.

Strangely enough, at every point in the first aid class today - I learned something new!

Like:
  • You really aren't supposed to try to suck out the venom from a snake.
  • If you get stung by a jellyfish, peeing on it is not the cure. (Sorry,Monica!)
  • If you are helping a burn victim, first you get the burned clothing off, but then you need to get them under some kind of blanket or they will get hypothermia.
  • Anytime you go to assist someone with any first aid at all, first you look around you and then you call out: Scene clear! which indicates that there are no more hazards in the area.
And then the second half of the day was the CPR portion - where I learned that our state does not require teachers to be CPR certified. And that the first two minutes, 120 seconds!!, are the most critical for a child with a respiratory problem. After two minutes, they now have a cardiac problem and are on their way to dying. So the children in Oregon go to school and are surrounded by kids, who probably don't know cpr, and teachers, who may or may not, and yet there are only 120 seconds before they are potentially set up for some life-altering brain damage. School bus drivers ARE required to know CPR. Lesson here - if your child stops breathing, it's better if they do so on a bus, not at school. Scary!!!! My instructor is looking to have a bill passed in the next 2 yrs that will require teachers to be certified. Or at least for schools to have a certain number of certified staff per student population.

I also learned that providing CPR really hurts the wrists!!! I hope that if I ever have to use my newly-learned life saving abilities, that someone else is nearby who can do the compressions, cause I don't know how long I can keep up that pace with my bad wrists. I suppose it would be a test of whether I really care about you or not....

Oh-and this was a KEY takeaway: Defibrillators are SUPER easy to use! Prior to this class, I would have been scared to open the box of one, were it needed in an emergency. Now I know that this was really foolish - if you open the case the AED (defibrillator) comes in, it has two pads with directions on where you put each one. And it has a green button that you push to start the machine. Once you push the green button, the AED actually talks you through each step!!! It literally says: place the pads. Clear space. Do not touch the victim. Stand back from the victim. Verifying heart rhythms. Shock needed! Stand back from the victim. Push orange button for shock. Do not touch the victim. Shock has been administered. Resume CPR.
So EASY!!!!!!!!!

It talks to you!!! Who knew??? I thought it was like on ER and I was going to have to have paddles that I would need to charge and then I would have to place them in key areas (by guesstimating) and then I have to yell CLEAR - and then I put the paddles down and push the button on each one simultaneously.
Nope - nothing at all like that!

So make note everyone ---- if someone has collapsed and they are an adult (or over 12), USE THE DEFIB!!!! Right away! Someone else should call 911 while you're very busy saving a life, but do not be afraid of that defibrillator! It will help save someones life and you will be a hero and win the most karma points of anyone you know (excluding any doctor friends you have).

The Path to Respite Foster Care

Sometimes life is hard.
Sometimes you just need a little help in this world. A little helping hand to lift you back up....


Many of you know that I am working on becoming certified to be a respite (weekend only) therapeutic foster care parent.

Therapeutic indicates that the children I will be "helping" will have some kind of disability - like ADD, bipolarity, schizophrenia, SOMETHING. All of the kids in therapeutic foster care are diagnosed with something, and that takes them from the "normal" foster care into therapeutic foster care.

The program I am working for is a private non-profit. They contract with government agencies to help kids who come into the foster care system through the state means (aka DHS), but they are not governed by the state. They actually follow stricter guidelines than state foster care, and they provide more-for the families and the children. The ultimate goal is to reunite the family and help create healthy families that will thrive on their own in the future. This takes a LOT of work and involves a case worker, the parents, a therapist, sometimes a legal guardian, a court advocate and a foster parent all working together on a treatment plan -both for the child and for the family as a unit. Therapeutic foster care parents have 24/7 support if needed, and a therapist can be at my doorstep within 20 minutes of me calling for help. It's a world I didn't even really know existed.

And I'm so proud to be working on becoming a part of it. It's overwhelming to hear the stories of the children in foster care - how can you not want to help if you're able??

As a respite worker, I will most likely not be helping kids who have been taken from their families due to poor parenting. The program I'm going to be a part of will have me providing respite care for families who are intact but are on the verge of splitting - dealing with a lot of issues that stem from the child having some kind of mental disorder they are working through. 99% of the kids that come through this section are on medication of some sort. And almost all of the kids don't want to act out - they just don't know how not to. And it will be my role (along with the therapist) to help them learn good behaviors. No problem, right?

The families these kids come from are just like you and me...but need a little helping hand. The state will pay for a respite worker to take the child for a weekend to give the family a much-needed break so that they can avoid long-term foster care. It's been a proven success (in our community anyway) and the funding for this has quadrupled! Respite workers do get paid, as do all foster care parents, but nobody gets rich by doing foster care. And nobody does therapeutic foster care for the money alone-it's just not easy money. There's a LOT of paperwork involved, home visits (three before certification, four a year after that), an incredible amount of training, and paperwork-did I mention that? There's a LOT. But every bit I do, will potentially help a family in crisis get back on the path to success.

It's not going to be easy, but it IS a way to make a big, impactful change.




Happy Birthday, ME!!!!

It's almost my birthday!
Hard to believe I'm going to be 38. Yikes, almost 40!! A lot happened to me when I was 37 - traveled a bunch, found out my artery was almost completely blocked, nearly cut off part of my finger, became an empty-nester, etc. I'm hoping that my 38th year of life is as busy but all positive stuff. 

I had some friends over to celebrate on Saturday night. We had a little potluck and played games all night. It was a great group - some friends I rarely see, and some friends that I haven't seen in much too long. 
I made margaritas - the first batch may have been a bit too strong, and this explains how I spent the first half of the evening:
blurry!
Most of my friends don't drink, but luckily, Wendy stepped up and was my margarita-drinking partner.


 No explanation:

Peanut butter and chocolate. One of my friends told me once that he sometimes has his peanut butter jar in his car because if he's driving and he wants to have a chocolate bar while driving, he likes to dip the chocolate in the peanut butter. Nothing weird about that, right?
 Fun times with wonderful friends. A great way to usher me off to age 38!

And, for the third year in a row, I collected shampoo products at my birthday party to donate to a local low-income housing center. I haven't done an official count yet, but I am estimating that, thanks to my wonderful and generous friends and family, I have close to 100 bottles to donate!!

monkey

When Family Comes A-Callin'

Last weekend, I had some special visitors come visit. So special that I didn't take any pictures of them. Total fail. My mom, sister, niece, and my nieces lovely friend came down Saturday afternoon to spend the night.

We did a LOT of shopping, wandering around different parts of Portland, hitting a lot of great places that they haven't been to before. 

For lunch, we stumbled upon the Mac & Cheesery, where you can get any number of random foods mixed in with your macaroni & cheese. I love the decor - check out the lunchboxes on the walls:

The serving sizes were ridiculous - go if you are super hungry or need leftovers!

Veggie mac - spinach, peas, broccoli, onions - and I added chicken (of course)
The weather was PERFECT and we were able to walk all over - no rain in Oregon in February when you have company come to town? It's like a Xmas miracle.
Random super-sized whisk hanging in a house entryway. No idea...
Have you heard of Voodoo Donuts? It's pretty famous for donuts. There is a line around the block everytime I've been by there. We stuck it out and joined the line to get some famous donuts. They have a lot of cereal types-if you like capt crunch, they have one flavored just for you, with a light frosting that is the glue to attach more cereal on top. They also are famous for the "cock-n-balls" donut. It is what it sounds like. My sister and teenage niece had a discussion about whether it would be appropriate for my sister to take one to a man she works with who always brings her donuts. They decided against it (good call).
We visited Powells Books, which some of you may know of. If you like books - you should know of them. They have any book you could ever want, used and new. The store takes up nearly an entire city block and is four stories. If I lived downtown, I would probably go to Powells at least once a week and just wander. There is so much to see!

After a busy day of shopping, we went to night owl bingo - it starts at 11pm and goes til about 2am. We had a good time, though I was the only one in our group to win. I had a bingo at the same time as someone else, so had to share my big winnings and ended up getting only $37 - but it paid for my entertainment for the night so that's a successful night.
They have this inside the bathroom....no comment.
While shopping, my niece found these killer leopard print hooker shoes. She's adorable - and looks great in hooker shoes! Look at her tiny little legs! She can now be taller than the entire family.
We had this amazing brunch on Sunday - we were pretty hungry and I didn't stop to take any photos, but I got this one of my mom's hot chocolate. It was as delicious as it looks!
My sister fell in love with this lampshade. My new goal for 2012 is to make this:

A great weekend with the family!
And next weekend is my birthday party!!!! And THEN------the weekend after that----my Andrew comes home for a visit!!!!!!!!!!!

Google TV - YES, I Think So!

You know how lately it seems like Google is taking over our lives?
Our search engine, our blog, our reader, our photos, our videos....it's all up in our bizness.
And now...it's also taking over our television.

I have never had a brand new television that I have gone out and purchased with my own money from a business. I'm almost 38 years old!! I've had hand-me-down tvs, and tv's bought at garage sales, and tv's bought on Craigslist - but never a pull-the-tv from a box, unwrap it and take off the wrapping, brand spanking new television of my very own. Which has been fine, I'm a thrifty person and I love saving money, and I especially don't want to focus my life on a monster tv that takes money and time away from me.

Until NOW!!!

Thanks to a sweet tax refund, courtesy of money I gave my government throughout the year (but mostly due to a wonderful education credit for being the parent of a college student) - I was able to buy my first new and wonderful television. And I'm still not paying more than $5 for cable!

I got a killer deal on a Sony Google tv package and am the proud owner of a lovely Smart tv.

The Google TV seems to be a great fit for me so far. I can watch tv and movies from various streaming sites, including my Amazon.com Prime account. I can browse the internet, stalk people on facebook, read the news-ANYTHING in glorious color.
AND somehow when I hooked up my television up to my cable connection, it somehow gave me HD channels. Did I mention I pay $5 for cable? That $5 doesn't include HD, does it? Who knows - I don't and I'm not going to be asking anyone at my cable company either. I just LOVE IT.
It's only been a few days, but so far, the Google tv is amazing.

It's got a pretty quick internet connection and the remote is a keypad, easy to type on. The major downside is that the remote doesn't have a backlight (lame) so if I'm watching a movie in the dark, I can't see the keypad buttons. However, I see that there's actually an app for my smartphone to act as a remote for my smart tv, so that might take care of that. I haven't tried it yet, no time-but will this week. It has good reviews, so I'm hoping it works.
It's a Google product, so I can view all my photos on the tv, read my google reader-anything you can do on your computer-I can probably do on my television!! It's just crazy.

So - to wrap up....I LOVE the Google tv.

I Paint, I Walk, I Scare Furry Friends

This whole "empty nest" thing isn't so horrible! I'm staying so busy! 

Last weekend I decided to paint one of the living rooms. When we moved in (yikes-almost three years ago!), the house was painted like a pastel easter egg basket. Pastel green in one living room, faint pink in another, seafoam green in the bedroom, pale tan in the hallway. Very light, light colors. No real COLOR, nothing that stands out. That might have been important when trying to sell this house, but it is not really best for me to live with for the rest of my life. One of my friends had a home that had bold and bright colors in almost every room, like a Crayola box, and I loved almost every wall and dreamed of a day when I would have a house and could paint the walls. And now I do own a house and the painting continues!

I painted one small area last summer. It's a burnt orangey-red type color. No picture I have taken has really conveyed the color I think it is when I look at it. I had lasik a couple years ago - maybe it affected the way I view colors in real life vs in photos?
This week I painted some walls nearby with a color called Denim. When I look at it, I totally see denim colored. When I take a photo, it comes out pretty grey. You will all have to come by to take a look to really feel this color, but here's a photo anyway that closely represents my blue:
I really love it-and I really love the way it contrasts with the orangey wall. 
The rest of the room was a really pale pink. I hated it from day one. Most people didn't realize it was pink, and I'm not a pink-hater, but this pink...bleh. The worst pink ever. So I painted it a color called Muslin, which is a tan with no pink tones:
See the pink now??? I still have to paint all the baseboards white because some genius painted them....pink. Puke.
Last weekend, I went for a two hour walk with a friend (and his new girlfriend) who I haven't seen for about two years. He's one of my oldest friends and someone I can just catch up with whenever and it's like we've always been in touch.  He's seen me through some really hard times and it's just unfortunate that we don't live closer. Regardless, we finally got a chance to get together.
The day was PERFECT - check out the blue in this photo! This is the actual blue, not like my wall blue that is camera-shy.

There's a trail that goes something like 21 miles from the suburbs into downtown Portland, and they are extending it even further. It's been around for AGES and people use it to commute by bike to work-better than driving on the street! I hope to walk most of it this year and see different sections, maybe at end of summer, we can plan to walk the entire route (ha).
 We passed by this elderly couple, they may have been in their 70's, walking along, with her holding his bent elbow. They were adorable, and we created a storyline about them walking this trail every day for the last 30 years together, waking up at 5am and walking for four hours each time.

I saw these young trees all lined up, looking nicely aligned and perfectly conformed. I stopped to take a picture and commented on how I love the straight lines of trees and how perfect they look in a nice, neat line and was heckled because apparently people plant them in a line intentionally so it's not like it's anything special that they grow this way. Whatever.

Today, I took one of the cats to the vet for a rabies shot, required for my foster care parent certification. It might sound mean, but I love taking Whiskers in the car. He makes this very abnormal cry which makes me laugh each time. And he looks so pathetic! I make him ride in the carrier on the way to the vet, but after being such a good boy at the appointment, I feel like he deserves his freedom on the way home. In the past, he has insisted on standing on my lap and looking out the window, but today he chose to lay beneath my legs and stare me down (he won but only because I had to watch the road).
Oh - and speaking of furry friends - we have this fence in our back yard and I often see sweet little squirrels running along the top of it. Yesterday I was working from home and see one out of the corner of my eye, but  instead of a fluffy brown squirrel, I see a fat masked monster of a raccoon. I tried to scare him to discourage him from hanging out, but he was concentrating very hard on his balancing skills and just rambled on by like it was totally natural. Hello, nocturnal much??

Are You My Friend? If So - I LOVE You

I have some really great friends!
Sometimes I think I need MORE friends. And CLOSER friends.

But today I was thinking about how much I love the friends I have. It's hard to make new friends, and sometimes really hard to maintain friendships, over distance and time (or both). Being slightly nomadic should have made me try extra hard to treasure the friends I meet, but I don't think I really have. One of my closest friends at work was let go and is leaving our office at the end of March. I have been thinking a lot about how it will be to go there without her every day, and it's gray. It's like a cloud over my head. We'll get together and go play bingo, and maybe have games night or volunteer together - but it won't be the same and I'm going to miss her terribly! I don't know that I understood how much I valued her friendship before this happened. I thought I did....but I'm so sad inside about her not working with me! What if we lose touch over time???

I met some wonderful folks in high school. And then lost touch with almost all of them within five years.
Then I had a few years, from 18-22, where I was married and had a baby and busy being all self-absorbed with my own life. I have no idea where everyone went after high school, but we didn't keep in touch. To be fair- it was harder back in the days before internet and when calling long distance required planning ahead on how to pay for that fat phone bill or getting a calling card. Side note-do they even sell calling cards anymore??

I went to college from ages 22-25 and met some really great friends there. There were a few girls who I hung out with frequently who just disappeared after graduation. I can't even remember their last names to look them on Facebook! Horrible. And one friend I had all through college, loved her, and we stayed in touch a bit, but then she made a comment about me losing weight so I could be in her wedding and I really took it hard (I wasn't even as overweight as I am now at that time!). I only really know where four of my college friends are at this point. We don't talk very much at all, but we should!

After college, I moved to Oregon for a couple years and one of the friends I made at that time is still in my life a wee bit. We met up this morning for a lovely walk, and though it's the first time I've seen him in about 9 months, it doesn't feel like it. We text a little bit and stay in touch here and there, but he's a friend I know I could call at any time and he would be there for me.

Then we moved to Korea for a little over a year. I met some friends teaching there from Canada and New Zealand. We're FBOF (facebook official friends), but don't really talk. I'm glad to know they are happy and doing well, but I suspect we may never meet again.

And now I'm pretty well-planted here, back in Oregon, and have a few different circles of friendships. And I love them all.

I feel like it's really easy to take our friendships for granted. I know when I nearly died last year, a number of friends were there for me - meeting me at my house after I left the hospital, calling/texting me frequently, bringing meals-overall taking care of my well-being. My friend from high school lives in Africa and had flowers sent to me! It's the hard times in life when you can really learn to appreciate your friendships!

2012 is now designated the year of the friend. Call your friends often. Share with them. Laugh with them. Treasure them.

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