Monday, February 25, 2008

Summer Trips and Excuse to Visit Kyle

There is a rain snow mix going on outside right now, and I got hitch itch. Our summer is filling up fast and I can't wait to hit the road. We now have reservations at Shabbona Lake State Park over Memorial weekend for Kyle's graduation from law school at Northern Illinois University. We will have company on that trip as Kent and Sheila, and Tony and Darlene are camping with us. Then in June we have Missouri Coachmen rally, RV Dreams rally, Illinois State rally. Oh and before that we have Spring Game at EIU in April. Then in August football season starts with a game at Central Michigan. This game is the Thursday night before Labor Day so I will be making reservations for that trip. I really don't care to be camping on Holiday weekends because the campgrounds get so full but I'll put up with the crowd to be camping. On the weeks where nothing is planned I will go set up early at either Siloam Springs State Park or at Mark Twain Lake and Cindy will join me when she gets off work.

"Baby", our RV, goes to the shop next week for routine maintenance to get her ready for the summer. I hope to have her ready to camp by mid March. Siloam has a few sites that they keep open year round, and Ray Behrens at Mark Twain Lake usually opens last weekend of March or first weekend of April.

Kyle has an interview in Des Moines, Iowa on Wednesday afternoon. He lives in Dekalb, Illinois, while attending Northern Illinois University. So he has a four hour plus drive to the interview and then he needs to be back for class on Thursday, so another four plus drive back. Lo and behold, I volunteered to make this trip with him--one way to get on the road and shake off the cabin fever. Neither Cindy nor I have been to Kyle's place in quite some time. He usually comes home rather than us going there. I am looking forward to this trip except for the snow. I plan to leave Tuesday to drive to Dekalb, about a four and a half hour drive, then spend the night with Kyle then drive to the interview and back on Wednesday, returning to Quincy on Thursday. I've scoped out a deli nearby in the same block as our destination in Des Moines where I can kick back with coffee and a book, or just people watch while Kyle is interviewing.
Des Moines is suppose to get 4-8 inches of snow tonight, then the snow is suppose to move east from there into Illinois towards Dekalb. It is suppose to be through there Tuesday morning. If the forecasters are correct, we should not have contend with anything more than some blowing snow. While the Audi is much more fun to drive, I've decided to take the jeep just in case the forecasters aren't right, While it costs me more in gas, I'm less likely to get stuck anywhere and a lot less likely to get a ticket in the jeep so it all evens out!

Wouldn't it be nice if you could put your house on wheels and when the weather got bad you could just move! What a concept!

See Ya Ken F

Sunday, February 24, 2008

A Dreaded Phone Call

Thursday evening I received a phone call from my sister-in-law, Judy. It appears that after having been in remission since 2004, my niece Michelle's leukemia has returned.

Michelle and her husband, Jason Tang, live in Albuquerque, New Mexico, both working for Sandia Labs.

Family and friends may remember my visit to be with Michelle late in 2004 when she was first diagnosed. Ken and I went back in 2006 for Jason and Michelle's wedding.

This was a picture of Michelle and I from that happy occasion. I know---never know we were relatives would you!

After that visit and the exploring we did in the area, Ken and I are sure that one of our early adventures, once full-timing, will be back to see Jason and Michelle and the beautiful part of the country they call home.

Jason and Michelle were at our house the weekend after Christmas this year and it was wonderful at the time to see how healthy and happy Michelle was looking. They were spending lots of time on their shared passion of skiing. This makes us feel even more positive that she will be in a healthier state to approach chemotherapy this time.

We were very glad to hear back from Judy last night that Jason will be travelling back to Barnes Jewish Hospital in St. Louis with Michelle and that Sandia will be allowing him to work from there. This is one good thing about working with computers today. You can do it from just about anywhere anymore. I did it myself from Barnes-Jewish the last time Ken had surgery there.

Because Michelle's sister Jane, and her husband Joe, are, like us, empty-nester's now, with all 3 of their boys off to college and a big house left behind, they have lots of room to take in Michelle and Jason between her hospital stays and even room from my brother Bobby and Judy to come down for frequent visits to check on their baby girl.

Michelle did an incredible job of taking charge of getting the best information and treatment plans possible back in 2004 and approached the challenge then with an amazing positive spirit and intent on victory. It's these attributes that will pull her through again to remission so that her brother, Bruce, can be donor to a stem cell transplant.

Family and Friends can follow Michelle's progress on the website she has for this purpose, Michelle's Journal. I've put the link on our favorite's here as well for regular visitors who wish to check in now and then.

Ken and I both believe strongly in the proven power of positive thinking and the impact it has on our own wellbeing and that of those around us. We hope that you will be sending positive thoughts and energy in her direction as Michelle faces this challenge.

Hugs, C

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Boys Are Home!

The boys came home last weekend. Kyle was home because Northern Illinois was shut down due to the shooting there. Trevor was home to play in a euchre tournament. Kevin came home with Trevor to be his partner in the tournament. We consider Kevin part of the family also!

Kyle, Trevor, and Kevin..notice how Kevin's head almost touches the top of the door!

Kevin and Trevor were both recruited and signed as full scholarship players with Bowling Green State out of their high schools. After spending a year and a half there neither Kevin or Trevor could take it any longer and transfered to EIU. Again, as full scholarship players. If my memory is correct, all but three coaches left that year and twenty plus players. They lost a lot of good people. After transfering Kevin became a starting offensive linemen and won the Ohio Valley Conference New Comer Award at that position. Trevor plays defensive line and has been playing with a lot of pain due to a shoulder injury. He had surgery in December and won't be released for full work outs till June. Kevin wears number 75, while Trevor wore 65. As of today Trevor was assigned a new number, one more fitting the defensive line: #99. They have been through a lot together and are good friends because of it.

Big boys need to eat big! So as soon as Cindy got home from work I had supper on the table for them.

Feed Me!!

I had experimented with supper. Probably putting my life at risk! Salmon was on sale and I knew all the boys enjoyed salmon on the grill. That is how I usually fix it, but our grill does not get hot enough on really cold days. I decided to try something different and put the salmon in the oven. Now you just can't put a good looking piece of fish in the needs to be dressed up a bit. So I also bought some fresh parsley, and sweet peppers. I mixed them with olive oil, and garlic cloves, and pressed it into the top of the salmon before baking it. It turned out really nice with good flavor, except a little dry. I also fed the boys yellow and green zuchinni squash mixed with mushrooms, onions, garlic, and sweet peppers, and some whole wheat rolls. Probably had too much in the way peppers and onions but like I said I was experimenting and before anyone left the table there was a discussion as to who was going to eat the last 2 portions of fish. So all was well.

Saturday night Cindy fixed her famous roast beef, mashed potatos, and carrots with fried apples. Good eats! One of my favorite meals. Luckily she fixed three roasts with plenty of potatos and gray so there were left overs. Only one problem, the boys knew where to find it and ate most of it for a midnight snack.

Lounging after Saturday dinner, before going to the euchre tournament. For those that don't know euchre is a fast moving card game that is played as teams of two. In a tournament (depending on the format) you can have a fairly large group of players all playing against each other by rotating to different tables. Everyone plays everyone else and everybody gets to see and talk to everyone else. It was good that Kyle was home as they were one player short and he was able to fill in.

While the boys were playing cards, Cindy and I attended an engagement party for my niece, Erin. Casey the groom to be, is serving in Iraq, and is home on leave. It was somewhat short notice as they were not real sure when he was going to be home. About a month ago, Cindy went with Erin and her mother and brides maids to shop for a wedding dress. It just happens that Erin's future mother-in-law owns a formal dress shop and that is where they spent the day.

Don't look Casey!

Oh it's just looks...oh's just too thrilling for my constitution!!!

It just is not a guy thing.

Sunday after a big breakfast, Trevor and Kevin began packing up. After goodbye hugs they were off to pick up Sarah then back to EIU. Kyle got to stay home til Monday afternoon. Even though normal classes were still cancelled at Northern, he had to be back for trial competion practice on Tuesday. (Kyle is on the team of NIU law students that will compete against other law schools in a mock trial competition).

All in all it was a really good weekend!

Ken F.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Valentine Day Scare

By now all of you have heard about the shooting at Northern Illinois University. I first heard about it when Cindy called me in a panic and told me about it and that Kyle was not answering his cell phone. Kyle, our oldest son, is a third year law student there. She asked me if I could get through to see if he was OK. I could not get through either but I saved his roommates number in my phone. Over the years I've saved a lot of the boy's friends cell phone numbers in my phone. I don't use them, but I have them for times like this. I called Aaron, one of Kyle's roommates. He was on his way home from Rockford and said he just heard about it on the radio. He told me that Kyle should have been out of the area by then and was probably at a buddies house. Kyle is out of class at 2:30 on Thrursday and the shooting was a little later. The cellphones were still not working in DeKalb area when Cindy got an e-mail from Kyle saying he was OK. After hearing that Kyle was Ok, I called Trevor to let him know what was going on. One of his football friends has a little brother playing football at Northern. After another wait while the guys checked on "Mooch" we finally heard back from Trev that he was Ok too.

Kyle, Aaron, Trevor, and Ken during happier times. Actually the boys were trying to recover after a victory party the night before.

You've got to feel for the people involved, the kids, their parents, friends, brothers and sisters. This kind of thing hurts a lot of people and it hurts them for a the rest of their lives. I hope all of them (including the shooters family) can some how find a way to let it go. I know it will take time, and there will probably be no answers to their questions. All we can do is cry a little, pray for them, and hope that some day they can recover.

Ken F

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

January Good and Not So Good

After watching our fill of college football in December and early January it was time to say goodbye to the boys as they returned to their school work. Trevor left first as he needed to be back on Friday the 4th. Either I'm getting smarter or just lazier, because I was able to get the Kyle to help put the Christmas decorations away before he left on the following weekend. Thank you, thank you Kyle!

On January 8th my brother Micheal and I drove to Howards Rv to pick up Baby. Baby had been at Howards for some minor fixes. The biggest fix was to adjust the slide as it was marking the carpet and to winterize the coach. Me being a newbie, I had them show me how to winterize Baby when I dropped her off in early December. I had planned to pick up Baby before Christmas but just could not get away. So Baby was at Howards Rv for about a month!

This is older brother Micheal!

He and his wife Jean have been Rving for close to forty years!

All in Coachmen products!

On January 10th I had to have a colonoscopy. (No Pictures!) With my Crohn's disease they want to do this test to check for problems every two or three years. Usually it is no big deal. Drink the nasty drink to clean out, don't eat, and do the test the next morning. But for some reason I had problems settling my intestines down after the test and spent the next two days recovering.

I recovered just in time for Cindy and I to attend the St Louis RV Show on the 13th. We worked the show for the Archway Coachmen RV Club. It was nice to see several of the people we camped with last summer. We camp with this group when we can during spring and summer before football season starts.

Archway Coachmen Group at a campout last summer.

The day after the Rv show I came down with the Flu! I spent several days in bed. Between the flu and the colonosopy I was pretty weak. I called the doctor knowing he would want me to start taking Prednisone again. Prednisone is a steroid and has been the only drug that has been effective for short term relieve for me. The problem is that it really effects me mentally as well. Before I realized how much of a mental effect it had, the doctors would have me take large doses then taper the doses down over time. Those larger doses caused steriod rage. There were times that I said and did things that I don't remember, (the ones I remember were bad enough). This went on for several years before I realized how badly the stuff was effecting me. Now I absolutly refuse to take those larger doses and avoid it if at all possible. I still stuggle at times with the lower doses but at least now I know where the rage is coming from and with the lower dose can better control it.

Took Trevor to the Doctor for follow up on his shoulder. The doctor again stressed how bad his shoulder was damaged and how he needs to limit it use. Trevor asked if he could start running and the Doc told him not yet because of the arm motion used while running. But he did say he could start doing some wrist and bicep exercises as long as he isolated his shoulder. He will not be able to play or practice for the spring game in April, but he should be ready for the season. All and all a good news for Trevor.

Last fall Cindy had a colonoscopy as part of a phsyical. We just got the bill for the procedure and I noticed that the insurance did not pay like it sould have. I called the insurance company to find out why and they said that the hospital had coded the prcedure as a mental issue. I then had to call the hospital and ask them to rebill it. At first they were relunctant to do anything because the insurance had paid part of the bill. But when I asked them if they were looking for Cindy's head up there they agreed that it should be rebilled. True story!!

Family Christmas Again!

We had even more Christmas! On the Friday after Christmas we hosted Cindy's side of the family. For some reason neither Cindy nor I thought to take any pictures of the party. Maybe we were worried it might be used for evidence??? Also there was some confusion or miscommunication about when we should have this party. We could have had it on Friday or Saturday but after talking to her sisters and brother Cindy came away with the impression that it would be better to have the party on Friday. Only later did we find out that several of her nieces and nephews had a ski trip planned for that night. We are sorry that we missed them. One good thing to come of the screw up was that Michelle and Jason from Arizona were able to stop by.
Again, we played the Christmas present switch game which everyone seemed to enjoy! And since it was a smaller group we were all able to visit with each other better. Later, after the party began to thin, the wiskey began to flow a little smoother with the last of the partiers leaving well after midnight. We had a good time and hope everyone else did too!