Thursday, February 27, 2014

Paying for Her Future

Meggar is launching her own wedding event planning business this week. She has registered as an LLC, bought a domain name, and secured the matching email. We are so proud of her "adult-ness," and I will try to wait patiently before revealing the website (so she can have time to fully construct it while also going to class, taking, tests, and memorizing piano songs). She is funding her "Mr. and Mrs." venture with the $100 cash award she won from Panhellenic Scholarship Fund this week. Congrats to our Senior!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Doctor Will See You Now

Captain has been scheduled for his procedure:
Friday morning, March 7
at KU Med Center (Rainbow Blvd).
Captain will receive a pacemaker/defibrillator combination (called AED). The pacemaker will help with his mitral valve alignment, and the defibrillator will possibly save his life. This surgeon implanted the first defibrillator in Kansas City around 30 years ago and has had 100% success. Captain also was able to start the genetic blood testing to see which direction we go for testing our own children.
We also stopped at the other hospital on the way home to visit Gr. Don, who is still battling pneumonia.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Final Verdict

Captain met with the heart specialist today at KU Med Center and was told his HCM condition is on the worse end of the scale. The genetic defect has caused his left ventrical to grow extra thick on the inside (not swelling per se) with cells that mimic scar tissue. This thickness creates higher pressure and loss of volume/flow. He also has some bundle branch blocks that are affecting him with irregular or faster heartbeats. The other symptoms are shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, and of course, possible sudden death. (Everyone has heard of the athletes who die suddenly*, because most people with HCM are not aware of their own condition.) The severity of symptoms will vary from person to person, so it will be important to have our children checked out soon for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. According to Aunt Charlotte, there are several men on the Kisker side of the family who died suddenly in their 50s including Gr. Elizabeth's grandfather, his brother, and a couple cousins.
For now, Captain is ready to be done with the 30-days of heart monitoring, especially because the four latex pads have irritated his skin to the point of bleeding. And the monitor bangs against his chest whenever he rolls over in his sleep... The only bad episode recorded by the monitor was on February 17, when Captain stood up suddenly to cheer at the hockey game and nearly fainted.
Dr. Mulhern is advising the implantation of a defibrillator (much like a pacemaker). He also put Captain on a prescription of beta blockers to thin his blood slightly (i.e. keep the heart from racing and getting out of control). We will go to the partner in the practice tomorrow to see about the surgery procedure. We were duly impressed with Mulhern and his staff and the hospital facility. Which was a reassurance in these uncertain times. Luckily, Captain has pushed back his starting date at Flight Safety International for another month to attend to these necessities.
*Quirky Facts: one basketball player with a defibrillator was denied a spot on the team at Wichita State, and another college Bball player had his defibrillator shock him during a game!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

A Dangerous Occupation

Maggie Smith has all the best lines in "Downton Abbey." Of course, they are timed for humor but often I find her wisdom particularly sublime. Last week, she quipped that she disagrees with thinking about one's life as it is a "dangerous occupation" in her experience: "No life appears rewarding if you think too much about it." Now, on to the season 4 finale.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Our Own AGD Mom's Weekend

We expanded the format of AGD Mom's weekend to include Dad's weekend and Little Brother's weekend, too. It was a great day to see Meggar and Spencer!
They took us to the dorms for a brunch buffet. Then we went bowling. We also looked at two wineries for reception/graduation parties this spring.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Coup are a Mark of Excellence

Dance practice last Wednesday turned out to be a good thing for the twins: social time with other Tribesmen, plus they learned about an upcoming dance. They only need one more public dance--which is tonight--to be awarded their "Blue Coup." This bead symbolizes the accomplishment of volunteering at 15 dances and attending 15 dance practices. Luckily, Tyler was here to give them a ride on Wednesday. In exchange, I fed him chili and cinnamon rolls. Lots of cinnamon rolls.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Being Heard

Captain doesn't get much sympathy, nor does he ask for much understanding. Yet he needs the support of people who care about him to get through this whole ordeal of unemployment and medical disability. So when the best man from our wedding called and insisted on getting together, I knew that would be the best medicine. Kenny and Darlene regaled us with stories all through dinner about politics, private schooling, and people from the little town where they and Captain grew up. Afterward we went to their house for dessert wine and Captain opened up about his predictament. It was a late evening (Captain was tired even though he had his regular nap) and it was so affirming to share his struggles with others who would keep him in prayer.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Photos from College

Dorito is cheering on the K-State Bball team (second from left) whose record is 18-8 so far (14-1 at home games). 
Dorito had a Valentine for his date party. We gave him the purple bowtie at Christmas and he only had to watch the You Tube video once to learn how to tie it properly!
Meggar said they skipped the date party and went to a Chopin/Debussy concert instead.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Back Home

We officially moved home today.
It will be nice to sleep in our regular, familiar beds.
After six months of hockey season, I am mostly proud of the twins for sharing a bathroom with their Mom. And keeping their compsosure. They were forced into new church, new youth group, new set of teammates, and they quickly assumed leadership roles that were positive on the ice, in the locker room, and during off-ice training.
I will be happy to see my dishwasher, though I didn't mind hand-washing all this time. And my own laundry room. We actually were not "gone" all six months. We rented at the Holman's house for the six-month-season, but we actually only stayed there for 65 days total because of the traveling to tournaments. We also made many trips back home (about once a month) and reconnected with our friends here each time. The last four weeks were rough emotionally given the news from Captain's cardiologist. But it was also tricky because we were forced to move to a new rental. The Evans' family hosted us many Thursday nights before out-of-town games and gave us shelter when our landlord cancelled the rental agreement one month early. We also offer our thankful prayers to the Morel family, who hosted us in their cottage the first two weeks in August and the final two weeks in February. God used many caring and compassionate and decent people to bless us during our uncertain times!

Monday, February 17, 2014

What's Left on President's Day

The score never tells the full story. Losing 3-5 this morning was the best hockey Captain said he has ever seen. Thunder went down 0-3 in first period. Next they came back and scored three goals in a row during the second period. Then it was an exhiliarating third period, especially when Thunder managed to kill off a 5-minute major penalty. The final points came in the final minutes, but when the other team pats you on the back, then you know there was a lot of heart shown on the ice. How nice to see mutual respect after a good match-up. There is not much left to the hockey season... Which is always a bittersweet realization by a group of guys who really pulled together as a team! And this group of parents are the most compassiionate I have ever met.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Sarcasm and Victories

The twins and their Thunder team have kept up a 17-game winning streak. Tomorrow they will play for the Championship in the U16 American bracket in Minnesota against their rival, Belle Tire. They have enjoyed spending time this weekend with Aunt Mary, cousins Charlie, Kara, Sophie, and Pam. Charlie hosted a taco bar for his birthday for everyone. Tomorrow will be the sixth time they play against their rivals. They have beaten Belle Tire twice and lost to them three times. Two former match-ups went into overtime! Winger is so nervous he didn't want to go to bed. But earlier he had the funniest Tweet: "Oshie has done more for America in eight rounds of shoot-out then Obama has done in eight years."

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Miracle Shootout

This is your time.
This is your moment.
Do you believe in miracles?
In another Olymic match-up between USA and Russia, that moment came six times over for a St. Louis Blues forward as he went 4 for 6 in a hockey shootout thriller. He almost single-handedly led the American team to victory--on Russian ice in front of President Vladimir Putin no less. The international rules allow for the same hockey player to take multiple shots after the first three rounds of a shootout, so USA coach kept sending out TJ Oshie to face Russian goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, who plays for the Columbus Bluejackets. Let's not forget the other goalie: Jonathan Quick had 29 saves and stopped 5 shootout attempts.
Oshie later said he was afraid he was going to run out of moves. Ha. The 27-year-old native of Minnesota was almost the final pick for the USA team, but was added precisely because of his shootout success in the NHL. Reminds me of Winger's shootout victories.
Meggar said she and Spencer got up early for the 6:30 am game. She was glad it was so worthwhile to waste sleep for.
Sochi Olympics mascot
Our Polar Bear said he watched the online replay three times with Winger looking over his shoulder. They missed the live game because they were on the ice: Winger had two goals in first game, coming back to life after not scoring in the last 10 games; and in the second game, Polar Bear scored his signature snipe shot after another one ringed loudly off the post.
Great hockey news!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Something for Me on Valentine's Day

I found a young hairdresser from Moscow who knows her stuff! While it may not seem that romantic for Valentine's Day, a good haircut is a treat I can give to myself. And overall, taking care of yourself is a habit that women should practice. Experts say that your heart health is improved by a weekly social visit with a loved one. So this week, I'm counting my trip to the beauty shop.
The twins are playing hockey in Minnesota--which they LOVE so that's apropo for Valentine's Day.
I sent Downton Abbey tea to Meggar's dorm mail slot. And we surprised Dorito with a cheesecake delivered to his door in Manhattan. (With a little help from housemom Dianna.)
I adored the Catholic Valentine poem on the blog of Benedictine College: anyone can sign up to receive email updates from the Gregorian Institute!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A New Book Club

Meggar has (finally) started a book club, although she and Lois have been talking about it for more than a year now! These two AGD friends are also English minors together and have lived through several semesters of classes with Shakespeare, Austen, Dickens, term papers, etc. But there is always time to read more good books--right? Meggar was quite pleased with the turn-out last night. Seven young women came for the first-half discussion of (book-title-which-I-forgot) at Lois' house. Of course, there were treats: Meggar went all out on a new recipe from a blog she follows regularly. I just love the photo of "Handsome Devil" wine bottle...
Chocolate Red Wine Donuts
1/2 c. butter
1/4 c. red wine
2 T. corn syrup
3.5 oz. dark chocolate
2 c. pwd sugar
Melt butter and wine over low heat. Then add corn syrup and chocolate and stir until smooth. Remove from heat and whisk in powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time. Spread glaze on warm biscuits. Use for also dipping strawberries or fondue.
Meggar said she quickly fried up a tube of biscuits in deep pan of hot oil. Shown here by cutting out heart shapes for Valentines. She said they were amazing!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Historical Moments at K-State

What a victory! K-State beat #7 ranked KU in basketball?! In over-time! Home court advantage...  Dorito has so many reasons to love his Wildcat experience, but this was an over-the-top memory.
(unknown photo)

Monday, February 10, 2014

Tutor at Your Service

Getting ready for the ACT is best accomplished through practice tests. By giving students various sections from a retired test, I can more easily help them identify troublesome areas. I see 8-10 students every week at Huntington Learning Center, where I help them walk through the workbook: four modules of preparation for Reading, four more for English, and two for the Writing portion. This means I have read so many ACT passages that I nearly have them memorized! I've learned about Mars, dinosaurs, cloning of pigs, Mark Twain's speech to Herbert Hoover, Zen Buddhism, Tejano Music, etc. In addition, I am working as an independent contractor for Tutor Doctor. This service means I drive to the homes of four more students for afternoon/weekend help with their high school assignments and homework, including Algebra II, biology, history, English, and Spanish. Another of my students is is his mid-40s, and I am helping him study for the GED. Everyone is eager to work hard, so I enjoy the seriousness of the work. And I'm blessed by the wide range of colorful personalities who have been added to my weekly routine.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Love Good People

The people at "Love Good Music" do monthly concerts in Nashville (called "Glory Nights"), and they are a wonderful time of worship--something not that ordinary for Catholics.
Of course, I wanted to support Jimmy Mitchell, who was the headliner. His new release of solo piano works is called "Through It All." The best way to receive this CD is to become a LGM patron for $15/month. Then you will receive lots of "good music" through your mailbox.
Tonight's performance was enhanced by the string arrangement by our friend Shawn Williams. His violin and his friend's cello parts were magical. At the intermission, I told my young piano student Luke: "You could do that!" and he replied, "I know!"

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Master Class with the Master

Meggar organized a field trip for a few of the piano majors at Truman State.  They traveled three hours to Kansas City for a master class with Leon Fleisher. Plus they stayed for the Symphony performance in the new Helzburg Hall. Now in his 80s, Mr. Fleisher has an amazing story abut his two hands: one was paralyzed for nearly 18 years in his late youth, so he performed only using his left hand! Then a miraculous injection saved the use of his right hand and he's been playing with both hands ever since. But the most captivating part for me was how intensely Meggar enjoyed the whole day--she told how it was riveting to watch his adeptness, she laughed with marvel at his commentary between pieces, and mostly she soaked up the richness of his total all-encompassing love of classical piano music! She told me how much it reminded her of Margie--and how often tears came to her eyes. It was nearly midnight when we finished talking on the phone. She still had 45 more minutes drive back to campus. A full day--which was lived fully.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Traveling Twins

The twins spent time in Delaware all week with their dad. After his interview, they visited their buddy Ryan, who is playing hockey in Maryland this season. We have always looked up to Ryan for his dangles, speed, but also for his character off the ice. So it was exciting to see his practice facility (former home of the Washington Capitals), meet his coach, and watch his team play a couple of games.
Meanwhile, my family stayed with long-time friend Mercedes Arzu-Wilson. Her spacious home was a little less quiet for three days this week. The guys were treated to Maria's cooking, played with the animals outside, and
were in amazement over the relics and statuary in Mercedes' full-size chapel in her home.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

I Can Cook

To think that my husband will come home every night for supper after work.... nice! (except for hockey weekends and late-night simulator sessions, but still a new normal for us.)

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Job Offer!

This morning, Captain was in Delaware to roll through a class about the fuel systems on the Gulfstream Astra jet. He was expecting to teach 4-5 people in his "class" as part of the interview process for a teaching position at Flight Safety International. But it turned out to be a room full of 18, including the top five executives at the center! I asked if he was nervous? He said a couple of other instructors told him how they were impressed and said he spoke well on his feet. I asked if there were any questions? He fielded two tough ones. I asked if he was offered the job? Yes, he was! It probably helps that he has attended their courses for the past 12 years in a row and is type-rated in four of their jets. What a relief for him after these four months of waiting and wondering. "O, Give thanks to the Lord for He is good; His love is everlasting." (I Chron. 16:34)

Monday, February 3, 2014

Southern Hospitality

What do you do when long-lost cousins come to town? Invite them over for the Super Bowl, I guess. Captain has a Nebraska cousin who recently relocated to Atlanta, and he and his wife unexpectedly turned up at the hockey games. What a pleasant surprise! Rob must have gotten a nudge from Aunt Wilma because he found the Thunder website and the game schedule. He lives 5 minutes from the rink. Althought the twin's team lost the Sunday Championship in a shoot-out, Rob and Kari were able to see Polar Bear and Winger succeed at the 1v1 attempt on the goalie. Afterward, they knew how to celebrate (aka feed hungry teenage boys). We are not big fans of professional football, but Dorito pointed out that the Seahawks owner is a Phi Kap alumna. Overall, it was nice for my boys get "extra special treatment" at the Koch and Kirschner homes. And Captain was happy to be closer to the interstate this morning, especially with the Atlanta traffic.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Around the Next Bend

I would be remiss to not mention an upcoming interview for Captain at Flight Safety International. He knew about some openings since he was there last month, so he applied right after hearing the news about his heart condition. Next Tuesday he will meet with an interview panel in Wilmington, DE. As part of the process, he has to teach a 10-minute class on any topic of his choosing. Captain spent most of the week condensing his notes on the Fuel Systems of the Gulfstream Astra (good distraction). I helped him design a hand-out with little airplanes for the bullet points. He created a Power Point and put it on the jump drive he had. Plus Office Depot helped him bind copies of Chapter 5 so his "class" can review the diagrams et. al. I must admit it was fun teaching Captain how to teach.
This weekend he is in Atlanta with the Thunder boys for a few games. I know they prefer a Father-and-Son format for hockey, so I stayed in Nashville to do ACT tutoring.