Thursday, August 29, 2013
For those of you who have gotten to know me through SP, you will quickly learn that I'm a country girl with big city ambitions. Basically saying, you can move me anywhere in the world and far away from the country, but I'll always be that small-town girl at heart.
I grew up in an extremely small town of less than 800 people in the SW part of Missouri by the name of Golden City. If you've never heard of it, there is a reason why...if you blink you might miss it. My maternal grandfather was born and raised in this town and moved away in his 20's and settled in Minnesota, where he eventually met my maternal grandmother. Some years later, my grandparents moved back to the quiet farming community to retire. It was then that my grandmother opened up her famous (no joke) restaurant, which she ran until the early 80s. She sold it to a young couple who kept up her "home cooking" tradition and have since passed it on to their children. Cooky's Café is still a Golden City and SW MO restaurant staple.
Growing up in a town this small has it's pros and cons, as most places do. However, my family never really worried about locking their doors at night, or worried about where I was while out and about on my bicycle. I could run and play in the park for hours without fear. This pretty much stayed the same until about a decade ago, when the methamphetamine problem really hit our little town like a ton of bricks. With that problem, came in a different crowd of people. Trust me, if you've never lived in a small town, you'll quickly find out that "outsiders" are not generally welcome, especially if you're not more of a "local" outsider. We literally have various levels of what we consider an "outsider." Someone who is from a town close by is generally more accepted than someone who is from a big city. If you're from out-of-state, forget getting accepted right away...that takes years.
There were very few kids my age that lived in town, most of the kids lived out in the country on farms with their families. However, I was the "town" kid that yearned for the opportunity to live out on a farm like my other classmates. I hated living in town because there was no one to play with. The kids that lived down the street were much younger than me and the kids that lived up the street were much older. Eventually, when I was about five years-old, a family moved in down the street. The Horton family was originally from the area, but had been living out in the country and moved into town. Both of the kids, a boy and girl, were roughly my age. The girl was in my class, which meant we spent a lot of time together and became best friends. We are still close friends. Included in the Horton "Tribe," as we called them, was a very big extended family of cousins, aunts and uncles, that all lived in the general area. I became friends with the whole family and spent a great deal of time with them throughout the years.
Now and days, I have to keep up with them via Facebook as they get married, add new additions to the family and relocate to different areas of the state or out-of-state. So, last week when I saw a posting from one of the Horton family members stating one of their children was missing, I was shocked, especially in a small town like Golden City. Then, I kept seeing hundreds of postings from friends and family in the town stating that a large search was underway for 12 year old Adriaunna Horton, who had gone missing from a park across the street from her house. That park...was the same one her aunts/uncles/cousins/grandparents and friends have played in since they settled in Golden City many years ago. It's also the same park that sits directly across the street from my childhood home. The same park that my grandfather donated the money to the city to build back in 1957. It's the same park where my baby feet and hands are forever imprinted into the concrete sidewalk.
I was frantically trying to reach members of my family to find out what was going on. My mother told me the search for Adriaunna was massive and included local, state and federal police. They had detained someone in connection to her disappearance, but they had no evidence that this particular person had her, but several witnesses, including Adriaunna's younger sisters had seen her get into a car with this man. After hearing this information from my mother, my heart sank. I have a bad feeling about it all, but I started praying that she would be found soon and alive.
Everyone always teaches their children not to "talk to strangers" and to not go anywhere with someone who is a stranger. But the man who was detained in connection to her disappearance was far from a stranger. In fact, he was a close family friend who had spent time with the Horton family and even worked construction jobs with them all. His children had played with the Horton children and they even took vacations together. One has to ask themselves, "how can this be?"
Hours went by with no word on where little Adriaunna was. Eventually hours turned into days and the search party widened their area coverage. The man detained was refusing to cooperate with police and people became frustrated and the jail started receiving death threats. He had to be moved to a jail two counties away. My family helped search for hours and days, often refusing to stop searching when the search party was called off each night after dusk. All anyone knew is that this beautiful little girl was missing and we needed to get her home, safe and sound.
About 48 hours after she was kidnapped, the FBI notified the community that they were going to widen their search even further and possibly into another county. My brother lives and owns a lot of property on the county lines and he decided that he would join in on the search. He called up his neighbor down the road and the two of them together started searching their acreage with police. Little Adriaunna's body was located on my brother's property later that afternoon.
I cannot even begin to tell you how devastating this has been for so many people, particularly the Horton family. My brother is a quiet man, who rarely speaks unless spoken to...he's not speaking much at all these days. Yesterday, they laid her to rest and the funeral home wasn't big enough to hold the service, so they moved it to the HS gymnasium, which turned out to not be big enough either. Over 3,000 people showed up for her funeral. The community came together and all the burial expenses were taken care of, in addition to scholarships, trust funds, etc for the remaining siblings. The little girl's parents are divorced and the father had been raising Adriaunna and her two younger sisters on his own for awhile.
The suspect has been charged with her death, among other things. He refuses to speak to anyone and no motive for her death has been revealed. The community is in an uproar and the suspect's family has had to flee the town because of death threats. I'm not surprised, our community is quite protective and this was the most devastating thing to happen to us that I can recall. But we are a community the rises above tragedy, as we did with the Joplin tornado. We are a tight community, many of us have family roots that go back hundreds of years. The population hasn't grown much over the years, but the sense of community has. This became evident in the past 10 days, as people gathered together, searched, organized, donated, and grieved together.
I truly never would have thought something like this would happen in my hometown community. Sadly, times have changed and it's not safe anywhere, so it seems. I hope those of you who are parents, say a little prayer each and every day for the beautiful gift that you've received in each of your children. You never know what each day holds for us, so count your blessings and remember your roots!
The past 10 days have been a mixture of emotion for me. I was so grateful that my husband's grandmother made it through surgery, but also devastated at the loss of this beautiful little girl who will never get to experience a full life. On my way back to Italy, I just kept thinking about how something of this magnitude happened in a quiet farming town like ours. I know it's going to take a long time for the community to recover, but even more so for the family. I just wish the ending would have been different. I pray that she is safe now and someone's guardian angel.
Thursday, August 29, 2013
This blog will be split up into two separate blogs.
My husband arrived on August 18th from Afghanistan and by August 20th we were arriving in Tulsa, Oklahoma. On August 19th, we drove 12 hours from our town of Vicenza, Italy up to Kaiserslautern, Germany to catch a military flight back to Baltimore. From there, we were on our own getting back to Tulsa, which wasn't so difficult, just very expensive. By the time we arrived in Tulsa on Tuesday evening around midnight, we were exhausted. The next morning was grandmother's surgery, so we didn't have much time to sleep in.
Her surgery was pushed back until 12:30pm on Wednesday, August 21st and we sat around the hospital for hours waiting to hear word of her surgical progress. After three hours in surgery, she was sent to recovery and then another four hours later, we finally got to see her. Her surgery was a success and the cancerous kidney was removed with no issue. She was required to spend Wednesday-Monday morning in the hospital. Afterwards, depending on her abilities to walk well, she could be sent home instead of an extended stay in a rehab center.
Grandma was quite frightened that she may not make it through the surgery, but I had no doubts. For being 92 (almost 93) she is in excellent health. In fact, her doctor informed us that she is one of the healthiest patients he has encountered, especially for her age. I was glad to hear this, given the circumstances.
We visited grandma ever day for several hours and in between visits we each worked on graduate school homework, visited other family, made shopping trips and eat dinner out EVERY STINKING MEAL. Needless to say, not only was I exhausted from all the running around/flying everywhere, I gained 10lbs back of the 40lbs I had lost since June. I also ended up with severe edema in my legs and ankles from all the sitting and standing over the past week. I've already lost 4lbs in just two days from all the excess water weight I'm carrying. I really hope I shed the additional 6lbs in the next few days.
Now here is where the funny/hair pulling part comes in....
On the day we were to leave Tulsa, Sunday, August 25th, we arrive at the airport at 4:40am to check in for our 6am flight. We booked the tickets prior to leaving Germany for the flight back to the States. This meant, that we did not have a copy of our flight schedule, but I wasn't worried about that because I had written down flight numbers and times. We go to check in and they cannot find our reservation. I immediately start to panic. My husband is always so cool, calm and collect, but I'm quite the opposite. After looking through the system for 20 minutes, the United Airlines representative says to us, "we have you booked on a flight back on August 28th, not for the August 25th." I think I said just about every curse word there is in the book, because this meant that we were not going to make it back to Italy in time for my husband to make it back to Afghanistan before his 15 days of leave were up. On top of that, in order to change flights, it cost another $200 per ticket.
After working with us for another 30 minutes or so, we were booked on another flight, but this time we would have a 13 hour layover in Denver before making it to Baltimore. THIRTEEN FREAKING HOURS!!! We had no choice. We booked the flight and eventually arrived in Baltimore at 1:30am, which was followed by another 15 hour layover before our flight back to Germany. I'm not sure how many of you have had the lovely opportunity (*insert sarcasm here) to sit around or even trying to sleep in an airport for this amount of time, but it's not fun and I don't recommend it. Luckily for us, Baltimore's international terminal has some couches you can sleep on...IF you don't freeze to death first.
I always laugh at how fast my husband can fall asleep anywhere. It must be the solider in him from years prior because he can sleep on a plane, in a car, on trains, with kids screaming, people talking, dogs barking, and practically hanging upside down. NOT ME! I went for almost 48 hours with little to no sleep. I tried my hardest to sleep on the couches in the Baltimore airport, but I was creeped out and worried someone was going to steal my luggage/purse/laptop. I also do like being surrounded by a multiple strangers sleeping around me. I refer to these as the "Herd of Sleepers," for those of you get the "Walking Dead" reference. On top of that, I was dressed for summer, but apparently everyone at the Baltimore airport should be dressed for an Alaskan winter with their subzero temperatures in there. By 6am, I was booking it to the little news stand around the corner and buying a sweatshirt. Finally, after waiting around for what seemed like years, we loaded onto the plane for Germany and took off about 6pm on Monday night and arrived about eight hours later. This was followed by another 12 hour drive home to Italy. My husband and I both slept 14 hours straight and probably could have slept more.
Sadly, I put my husband back on a plane this morning to head back to Afghanistan, where he has roughly 75 days left of his deployment. I thought it would be hard to put him back on the plane, but I did quite well, I think because I know he will be home soon. Plus, it's the first deployment he's ever had to come home early for an emergency. Getting to see him for a about 10 days was nice.
On a positive note to the whole week's ordeal, I was able to hit up clothing stores in and around Tulsa and purchased myself a new wardrobe. I've lost enough weight to go down 2-3 pant/shirt sizes, depending on brand. That made me extremely happy and even more determined to continue on this weight loss journey of mine
For those of you who are my accountability partners, have no fear, I have not forgotten about you. I'll be writing you shortly to check in and make sure you're all doing well...a.k.a. cracking the whips (joking).
I hope everyone has a wonderful day and don't forget to keep on sparking!
Wednesday, August 28, 2013
I'm back! We pulled into our driveway last night after a grueling week of international travel. In total, we were gone eight days and flew on six different planes with a total of 33 hours in layovers (that's a long story). Needless to say, we crashed last night and ended up sleeping about 14 hours. I am beyond exhausted, to say the least.
When I have more time and energy, I'll fill everyone in on the details of the trip and grandma's condition.
Have a good day my sparkled friends!!!!
Wednesday, August 14, 2013
Exactly two months ago, I joined SP with a half-hearted pledge to work on my weight. I will admit, at first, finding the balance between diet, exercise, couch potato and food addict was challenging. What most people do not know about me is that while I consider myself a food addict, I used to eat far less food than what is considered healthy, even for someone of a "normal" BMI. Instead, I lived off can after can of Coca-Cola and ate about one meal a day. However, when I add up the amount of calories I consumed of just Coke, I was easily consuming between 560-1000 calories per day. Then add in a high calorie, high fat/high carb meal on top of that and it's no surprise why I am obese. I was drinking my calories instead of eating them.
In May, I decided to climb onto the scale for the first time in several months. I knew that once my husband deployed, I could focus on making changes in my eating habits and start exercising a few times a week. When I climbed onto that scale, I closed my eyes and refused to look down. Before I even had the courage to open my eyes, I began to cry because I knew that whatever the scale said was going to have such an emotional impact on me. When I finally contained my emotions, I opened my eyes and stared at the number...343.
Have you ever been in a situation where you're so nervous that you start to laugh even though you want to cry? That was my reaction when I saw that number. I started giggling like a little school girl and soon my giggles turned into wailing and, once again, tears. I sat down on the bathroom floor, staring at the scale and became so angry with myself. How could I possibly let myself get THIS big? Why hadn't I done something about it BEFORE it got to THIS POINT? How could anyone even like me because I didn't like me? The longer I sat there, the more aggravated and depressed I became. What was I going to do to remedy the situation?
The first decision I made was to cut back on the Coke intake. I started drinking at least 50oz of water a day and gradually increased it to 64oz. Then I started eating a more balanced meal at least twice a day and eventually three times a day. I did this for four weeks prior to finding/joining SP and I was able to lose 10lbs.
On June 14th, I joined SP and was leery at first of being interactive with people who I had never met and probably never would. I wondered if I would get the support and encouragement I desperately needed to help me kick start this journey into overdrive. What I quickly realized is that there are many people out there like me, who struggle with their weight, whether it be 10lbs over or 300lbs overweight. Once I was able to comfortably navigate the pages of SP, I realized that I had all the necessary tools needed to help me transform my life by just clicking on links and gathering a wealth of information. I found out I didn't need fancy workout equipment or a $150 pair of Nike sneakers to help me burn calories.
Today marks my two month anniversary on SP. I wish I could say that the past two months have been super easy and I've lost all my weight, but who would I be kidding? What I can say is that in the past two months, I have learned a great deal about myself and my physical, emotional and mental strengths and weaknesses. Quitting and throwing in the towel is not an option for me. I push myself each and every day to continue on this journey because I know the rewards will outweigh the time, effort and pain. I have managed to lose 36lbs since June and 46lbs since May.
The most important thing I realized is that if I don't change my unhealthy lifestyle, I'm putting myself on death row for a crime of "murder in the 1st degree," and I'm guilty as charged. I have no one to blame but myself for what I've done to my body. At 34 years-old, I'm far too young to be dealing with the aches and pains of someone twice my age. I also know that a lot of the damage I've done is irreversible. For me, it's not about getting down to an ultimate number. My journey is about rediscovering the person I used to be, and discovering a new me. I want the opportunity to do things I've missed out on because of my size. I told a SP friend that I wanted to "fall in love with me again."
It's amazing what just 43lbs can do for your confidence. While others might not recognize the weight loss, I sure do. I've gone down a pant size and getting close to two pant sizes. I'm finally under 300lbs, which are numbers I have not seen in almost five years. I have endless amounts of energy and have worked my way up to walking between 8-10 miles per day at least six days a week. I'm excited to see if my husband notices the weight loss this upcoming weekend. He has not seen me in three months. But if he doesn't recognize it, it's okay. It just means I have to work harder and continue on my path of determination.
For those of us who are disappointed if someone does not notice the weight loss...here is something you should know.
I also ran across this great English Proverb a few weeks ago and I want to share it with you all. I printed out this picture and hung it on my fridge. It is a daily reminder to me that I have the choice to change my life...no one else.
I hope each and every one of you have a Happy HUMPday!
Wednesday, August 07, 2013
I previously blogged about my husband's grandmother, Thelma, who was recently diagnosed with terminal cancer. Over the past few days, I have tried to stay in contact with my husband's family back in Arkansas to keep abreast of the situation. Let me tell you, I deserve some kind of award for the past few days, because if I could choke someone, I would.
My husband's family does not understand what "direct" communication is, and instead of getting the information straight from those who are in the "know," I'm getting information passed along by some chain of command. Part of me can't help but laugh, but the other part of me is super frustrated. Here is how the chain of communication goes. Grandma's son Rick (my FIL) calls his ex-wife (my MIL), who then calls their daughter (my SIL) who then sends me messages on FB and then I send emails to my husband (he's deployed at the moment). I have asked numerous times that Rick call my Skype number so I can talk to him one-on-one and ask questions because it seems no one knows what is going on. This is where the major frustration develops. He refuses to call my number and everyone in the family refuses to give me his number.
Today, I finally lost my cool after being informed by my husband's family that I was just a DIL and don't really need to be in the "know." Mind you, Ms. Thelma is like a grandmother to me and means a great deal to my husband and to me. So the comments were quite hurtful. I thought about the comments for quite awhile and decided that it would be best if my husband just directly contact his sister for more information via email. The problem is that my husband and his sister do not get along...AT ALL. I know my husband does not need anymore stress while he's deployed, but I felt it was in my best interest to back out of the situation before tempers flared, words were exchanged and I regretted anything.
Since dealing with my husband's deployment, I have taken my emotions out on the pavement. Before, I would have turned to food to comfort me when I was upset, happy, mad or frustrated, but I've learned to conquer those food addictions and temptations. This was one of the hardest things to do, since being alone brings on a lot of empty thoughts and boredom, which leads to overeating or binging. So today, when my frustration, anger and hurt was consuming me, I put on my walking shoes and I started pacing the house. Back and forth I walked from one room to another, picking up the house, sorting through bills and focusing on channeling my emotions. I walked up and down my steps 50 times. My thighs were killing me by the time I was through, but I felt accomplished. In fact, I yelled "HELL YES," after I completed the stairs. I was huffing, puffing, and profusely sweating, but I didn't care.
After my 50 flights of stairs, I figured I'd be completely worn out, but I wasn't. Out of no where, I got this energy burst. I took a quick break, drank water, ate a snack, and away I went off to walk the hike/bike trail next to my house. My energy lasted ALL DAY! At 8pm tonight, I finally had to say, "whoa, Nelly...slow down." I had walked 13 miles when I looked down at my Fitbit...THIRTEEN MILES! If I hadn't stopped myself, I could have walked probably another 13 more. According to my Fitbit, 13 miles = 32,000 steps.
I made sure to eat accordingly and drank an enormous amount of water (a gallon) and just continued on with my walking. I have a feeling that tomorrow I'll pay for my 13 miles, when I'm hobbling around, but I'll be smiling. Why? Because I'll know that the day before a 300lb woman, who just 2 months ago couldn't walk one mile without quitting, or one flight of stairs without gasping for air, obliterated THIRTEEN MILES and FIFTY FLIGHTS OF STAIRS. I realized that I, essentially, did a half marathon today. And guess what I did to reward myself? I bought a new pair of walking shoes! It's not everyday that I walk 13 miles, ya know!
So, my "sparkled" friends, I hope you're having a wonderful HUMPday and you've got a goal in mind for getting in some fitness minutes.
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