Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day

Today is Memorial Day,when we remember those who fought and died for our country. Of course,there are those who just think of the day as a day off from work,a day to BBQ,go shopping,and drink too much. Nothing says thank you for dying for me than buying crap you don't need at 20% off! That being said,we will enjoy a BBQ,and a few games of horseshoes as well...but we know what this day all about.
This morning we lower the flag to half staff,and go march with the Boy Scouts in the  Rochester parade. After the parade,we will head back home. We will watch something on TV about those who gave the ultimate sacrifice that will make me cry (as it does every year) and I will take some time in quiet reflection. Memorial Day for me is not just honoring our heroes,it brings up the realization that I could have lost my husband in Iraq. He could have zigged instead of zagged,or the bullet could have gone an inch more to the right and not hit his vest. I could have a folded flag instead of a husband.
So today I hug my hubby tighter than usual. I am always grateful he made it home,but on this day,even more so. I find myself more emotional on this day than others.My thoughts go out to those who only have a flag and memories,and my heart breaks.
For those of my friends who celebrate this day,please take a moment and reflect on what this day is all about.
To those who have died for our freedom,thank you a million times over. It's a debt that can never be repaid.
Happy Memorial Day.

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Week In Review

Tuesday was quite a long day.We had four appointments -Cognitive Therapy in Somersworth,then over to Manchester for an appt with Rick's med Dr,then I had a brief meeting with Lisa,the head of the TBI program,then it was a TBI appt for Rick.

Again this week,Rick has homework for his Cognitive Therapy program. The homework is the same as last week,but added is the trauma statement Rick has to write.The trauma statement is usually the most difficult part of the course because it brings up emotions that tend to stay buried.By bringing these things up,the goal is to then discuss the emotions and and deal with them,thereby getting more of a handle on the PTSD.

Rick has been weaning off the Seroquil,and this week his med Dr wants him to get down to 25 mg a night (bear in mind he takes over 1,000 mg of Depakote a day now instead of Seroquil). He is still adjusting to the Depakote,as it doesn't dull him like the Seroquil did.However, part of the reason behind getting off the Seroquil was the fact that it was raising his blood sugar,and diabetes runs in his family (plus the dulling effect).This has lead to a bit of heightening of the PTSD symptoms,but we expected that.

My appt was with Lisa.Lisa used to be Rick's PTSD counselor,until she took over the TBI dept. The VA has a new telephone support group for spouses of soldiers who have PTSD and/or TBI. We hook up twice a month for an hour each time. Lisa wanted to touch base with all members before our first meeting to go over the guidelines.We have a handbook and some homework. It should be interesting,and I hope that I can help some of the ladies who are fairly new to all this. Apparently I am the old pro of the group :)

Rick's TBI appt went well,but we did learn that Rick's Dr is leaving. The VA wants a full time Dr for that position,which I can understand.

Today we have speech therapy. The VA ordered Rick a basic IPOD to help keep track of his meds,daily schedules,etc. It has up to 24 alarms on it,so it will help him organize his day. It will go off to remind him of meds,or to start or stop projects. We have tried writing lists,but that doesn't always work.We are hopeful that this will work out better.

The weather this week has not been very cooperative. It has been foggy,drizzly and rainy. As soon as things dry up,it gets wet again. Sigh. This weekend is suppose to be very nice,so our outdoor work can commence yet again.i at least got my seedlings out to harden off. Next Tuesday our carpenter Rick (not my hubby!) will be coming over to start fixing our sink cabinet,so the kitchen remodel will begin yet again.

Hope all is well in your neck of the planet!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Renaissance Faire

Saturday was a gorgeous day. It was a bit warm in the sun,but not too bad. We went to our first Renaissance Faire,down in Kingston. Kingston is about an hour from us,in southern NH near the MA border.

There were wandering musicians,vendors,various demonstrations,plays,and comedians. Our day in 

                                               Zach getting some sword fight training:


The knight encampment:

Sir Brian talking about knight life:

                                         The Queen bestowing Sir Brian with her favors:

                                                              Let the battle begin!

                                                            Sir Brian vs Sir Anthony:

During a break in the action,we discussed the merits and drawbacks of the longbow:

We didn't know until after the bouts that Sir Anthony is Tony Dow,who Rick served on Homeland Security with! We haven't seen him in years:

Vendor area:

My favorite boys posing for the camera:

We had musical entertainment everywhere we went-this lady was performing Celtic music:

Alas,there was no crown for the queen,but I did find this lovely white rose and ribbon head wreath. I also purchased the blue green necklace (better pic of this at the end)

The belly dancers were fun! I even took part in a belly dancing class:

I loved the colorful clothes:


Here is a better photo of my new necklace. I think it's gorgeous!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Stuck Points

Tuesday at Cognitive Therapy, Ken went through Rick's homework and wrote down his all the stuck points. Rick had 22,23 is the norm. They discussed each answer,Ken asking Rick various questions about each topic (safety,intimacy,self confidence,etc)and then making his stuck point list,point by point.

Some of the stuck points that Rick has:
-I can't trust authority figures
-Others don't care about my safety
-I need to scan to make sure things are safe
-I should be taking care of my family not them taking care of me
-I should have control over my emotions
-I am emotionally broken
-Others might fear me because of my combat experience
-I have to do things in certain steps or process/routine
-Routine is the only control I have
-Things have to be predictable to be safe

Now the goal is to work on those stuck points,and hopefully lessen the list or erase it all together. This week Rick has ABC Worksheets. Each day,he has write an (A)ctivating Event (something that happened),a (B)elief/Stuck Point (what he tells himself about the event,using his stuck point list if he wishes) and the last, (C)onsequence (how that makes him feel). He then has to write if his thoughts are realistic,and what he can tell himself if this event happens again in the future. For example,someone cuts us off in traffic. He might feel like "others don't care about my safety" and that might make him "angry and think they are jerks." Is that they really don't care about his safety? Could it just be that they were distracted,or too focused on where they were going? How could he rethink that in future?

Today we are going to the Manchester VA for his speech therapy. Yesterday he had real bad day with speech. He dragged out his words and had a heck of time finding proper ones. Again,some days he has no issues at all,other days just a bit here and there,and days like yesterday,which he just can't speak well at all. Judy,his therapist,seems very nice and eager to help.

However, it's not all work and no play here. Tomorrow we are heading down to Kingston NH for the NH Renaissance Fair.I just discovered that we had one,and apparently have had one for about 7 years! Rick is a bit nervous about the crowd size (will it be elbow to elbow or will there be some breathing room?) but I think that it will be OK.He is excited to go,and so is Zach. Metal weapon demonstrations! Homemade weapons for sale!!! What male can't resist that? Hee hee! I myself am looking forward to the whole experience-the music,costumes, demonstrations,vendors-should be a great time!

Have a lovely weekend,World!!!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

This And That

The weather has finally cleared. For the last three days,it has been raining off and on.Yesterday was quite humid,and we has some thunderstorms roll through last night.There were some mighty big cracks of thunder,but with it came nice,cool air and a bright sun this morning!

Tuesday we had our weekly Cognitive Processing appt with Ken. I will write more about that tomorrow, but it went well. Our kitchen remodel is moving along,slowly. We have to wait for the carpenter to come and redo the cabinet so it will fit the new sink. He brought our current under the sink doors and new sink to the gentleman who is going to custom make our new doors. Surprisingly, Rick and Brian both know the door maker,Mr. Ames,and he does excellent work,so if anyone can make new doors the right fit and have them blend right in,it's Mr.Ames.For the time being,we have a curtain tacked up where the doors were. I am more than happy to wait so I can have local folks do the job rather,than having one of the big stores ( Lowes or Home Depot,both of which we do buy things at) do it. We like supporting local small business where we can.

This past weekend was nice,and I sat outside for a while and read,as well as taking a few photos from around the property.

My lilac bush didn't have as many blooms on it this year as it did last year,but this cluster of blossoms was pretty:

My lavender is dead! I was hoping it would come back,but nope,it's all dead. I will have to replace them this year. My azaleas,however,are still quite pretty: 

One thing I love about Spring is the various colors of green we see popping out. Dark green,light green...such a gorgeous sight!

The Girls enjoyed some free range time. I sat by them and made sure they didn't wander too far away. They found plenty to eat,and I am hoping that most of what they were eating were ticks. The ticks are terrible again this year.

I think it's funny when they scratch with their feet,pushing leaves back to find their treats. They were all quite content,chatting with each other while they enjoyed their free time:

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day!!!!

This morning I awoke to Zach and Rick making me breakfast. Rick guided Zach,but Zach did most of the work:

I was instructed to go back to bed. Zach brought me a cup of coffee,and when breakfast was ready,I had a delicious meal of fresh blueberry pancakes with real maple syrup,eggs,and sausage (the pancakes and sausage were gluten free so we could all enjoy it).

Zach had asked what I wanted for Mother's Day,and I told me just make me breakfast. There is really nothing I need,so a bit of pampering was great!!!

Happy Mother's Day to all Mom's out there around the world!!!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Cognitive Processing Therapy

This week,Rick began a new 12 week program through the VA called "Cognitive Processing Therapy". This is a fairly new program,which has seen  considerable success.While it does not get rid of PTSD,since it's something one has for life,it helps the soldier come to terms with the illness,with the circumstances that created it,and helps them control it.

Our first session,with Rick's counselor,Ken, was mostly Ken discussing PTSD and what causes it. I must admit that I thought I knew what I needed to know,after seven years of living with it. However,I learned many new things,such as the fact that when a trauma happens that triggers PTSD,it causes the brain to fire certain neurons at the same time,which become "stuck" together. The emotional part of the brain overrides the rational,which is the most primitive part of the brain-therefore triggering the "flight or fight"response. In Rick's case, there are certain things that trigger him-helicopters,hearing gunfire,crowds,etc. He knows that he is safe,he is not in Iraq,but the brain reacts the way it did when he had to be constantly on alert over there.  Sometimes it involves a flashback,sometimes not. Usually his flashbacks have him standing stock still,and staring off into space,albeit for just a few seconds. He doesn't even realize it happens until after it's done.

Ken also discussed the program itself,which involves homework,an impact statement,stuck points,and a trauma statement. Ken gave an example of a Vietnam veteran who felt that he had killed his friend. Ken asked him if he had personally taken his life. The gentlemen said no,but his friend,who was pilot,was scheduled to go out on a mission,and he felt it would be his last one. The next day,he got shot down and killed. The Vet Ken is working with felt his death was his fault,since  he could've told someone that his pilot friend had this foreshadowing,and that maybe he could've had him pulled from the mission. Ken asked what his rank was,and he was an E-3. Ken told him that no one listens to an E-3,and that even if he had said something,his friend would still have gone on that mission.It was not his fault. During this example,Rick started to cry,which of course, made me cry a bit. Apparently Ken hit a nerve. Ken kept talking,but did tell Rick that whenever he had emotion about something,that he had to promise to talk to Ken about it and be honest,which Rick agreed to do.

Rick's homework this first week is an impact statement. No discussion about the traumatic event until the sixth week.He has to write about how it has effected his views  on himself,others,and the world in terms of safety,trust,power/control,esteem,and intimacy. At the next meeting,Ken will go through his answers lines by line,and pull out "stuck points". "Stuck points" are 'conflicting beliefs or strong negative beliefs that create unpleasant emotions and problematic or unhealthy behavior' -to quote the workbook page.

At the beginning of each session,Rick has to fill out a form with questions by answering 1-5...1 being not such an issue and 5 being a big old issue. The questions are along the lines of  if he has thought of suicide,how  his hyper- vigilance is,etc. Last week,he scored a 67 out of 85,which means he has moderate-high PTSD. By the end of the 12 weeks,the goal is to have that score come down considerably.

He is suppose to do the homework on the day that our appt is,but so far, he has not done it.He says he will do it today. Ken said most vets will put it off because they don't want to go there,but it's important to do the work.It's going to be very difficult because of the emotions it's going to bring up,but,like Ken says," We want you to own the PTSD,not have the PTSD own you."

We meet for the next 11 Tuesdays.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Spring Camporeer

More Scouting this post!This past weekend was the Abnaki District's Spring Camporee. Boy Scout Troops from all over the district (which encompasses approx 35 towns and cities)gather each spring to have a weekend of various events. Each Troop competes against each other,and even against their own troop,if they have enough boys to split into more than one patrol. Our  Troop has two patrols-the Yogi Bears and the Coconut Bandits. Zach is the Patrol Leader for the Yogi Bears.

Friday night it sprinkled just a wee bit and was only slightly chilly,which was good for setting up camp. Saturday the weather cleared and it turned into a great day for outdoor events. I took over sixty photos,and since I don't want your eyes to glaze over,I picked a few.

The various stations included orienteering,first aid,knots,fire building,etc. Please note the Boy Scouts don't normally wear camo-they were asked to bring clothes to help them blend into their surroundings.

The orienteering course morphed into the first aid station. Zach was instructed to go off into the woods to a certain area (the first aid area),where he was "mauled" by a bear and had to wait for the rest of the patrol to use their bearings and compass to find and treat him.He is,of course,wearing his coonskin cap:

Another station was a lumberjack station,wear the boys had to figure out certain methods to move a log:

A photo of our campsite and the boys fairly new tents and that we call "the white elephant" where the  camp kitchens were set up:

Another station was geared towards lashings. The boys had to build a bridge that one of the scouts had to use to walk across the "river". You can see the "river" in the photo-it's in between the yellow tape. The boys could not touch the ground when they walked on the ladder:

When they were told to bring clothes to blend,Zach brought his gilly suit. He had to go up into the tree line and hide. They had people down at the pavilion with binoculars to try and find him. They searched for over 10 minutes and couldn't see him. The patrol took first place:

Another event was the axe throw. The adults got to try it out when there were no boys in line. This how Rick did-three for three! :

There was an adult competition as well. They had to build an A frame and guide someone using four leads down a river of "acid". The guiders could not step into the "acid". Here is one of our Asst Scoutmasters,Jessie,on the A frame,with Rick to the left. Jessie did not fall once,and our group took second place:

This is my favorite photo of the weekend. It's Zach with his buddy,Ryan. Ryan is our Asst Senior Patrol Leader:

The boys were very anxious for the awards ceremony on Sunday morning. They were very confident that they were going to get a few of them:

The troop did great- the Coconut Bandits earned a first and third place,and the Yogi Bears earned three firsts and a third. They also earned the Honor Patrol Award! Zach was so excited. A fabulous weekend for Troop 357!

A great group photo:

Tonight we are raking at the Grange,where we hold our meetings,then Wednesday night it's Patrol leaders meeting,Order of the Arrow meeting Thursday night,and Saturday is our Hikeathon! Things then slow down :)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Hanging With The Scouts

We have many Scouting events right now. Events are one right after the other,but that is due in part to District wanting to get the events done before baseball season kicks in.Once baseball starts,many Scouts no longer do Scouting events as it conflicts with baseball.So for three straight weeks,there are Scouting events each weekend.
The event this past weekend was our District Fish and Run. The Webelos I camp out for the weekend,they have an early morning fishing competition,then the rest of the day they have stations that they compete at. The Cub Scouts (Tigers,Wolves and Bears) have a fishing competition later in the morning,then they can go through the stations if they wish,for fun. Cubbies do not camp out,only the Webelos. Our Boy Scout Troop has helped District run this for a few years now.
Throughout Zach's time in Cub Scouts,I have been either an Assistant Leader or a Leader. Rick started helping me as my Assistant a year or two after he came home.As I have become older,I am not the biggest fan of camping-but I can certainly do it. Rick loves camping,in any weather,so this past weekend I figured I would let him do the camping with the Troop.
Turns out that was a good call on my part,because it was COLD! All that beautiful warm weather we had was nowhere to be found. It was also very windy,which made it even colder. Friday night,the temperature dropped to the mid twenties. Rick said when he woke up on Saturday,it was flurrying. I went on Saturday to help sell food for the Troop fundraiser. It was windy and chilly all day. I went home after our little concession area closed,and when I picked Rick and Zach up Sunday morning,Rick informed me that it was even colder on Saturday night-down to 19 degrees. Glad I missed that camp out!
Because of the cold,not many Webelo dens stayed the weekend,and not many Cub Scouts showed up on Saturday,but those who did go had a good time.
I took a few photos:
Webelos getting instructions from the main tent:

Sue,our Committee Chair,setting up the concession stand. We sold hot dogs,hamburgers,pulled pork sandwiches,chips,beans,baked goods,and hot and cold drinks.Coffee and cocoa were the most popular!

Sue's brother and his smoker.He has donated his time for the last two years,bless his heart. He cooked the hot dogs,burgers,pulled pork,and beans for us,showing up at 2:00 AM on Saturday to slow cook the pork.

As I said,the crowd wasn't huge,but those who were there had a good time. The biggest fish caught was 10 1/2 ". I can't recall what the smallest was. Zach still has his trophy for the smallest fish from 2006.He keeps it on his window sill in his bedroom.

Sunday morning was when the Webelos' awards were given out.There were first-third places for each event,and the dens got an award for their respective placement.  Rick and Zach ran one of the events.The adults all lined up and announced the winner for each event.Rick is on the far left.

Zach is wearing his coon skin cap. He was adamant that he wear this cap,as he has worn it for the last few years,and he says he's known for wearing it.It has seen better days,as last year the tail came off and I made a sad attempt at sewing it back on.This year,it had electrical tape wrapped around it! Zach was all excited to announce the awards from his station-it was the first time he has done so.He's here with Rick,and our friend,CJ. CJ was kind enough to give us the left over bacon sausage from the weekend,fresh from his pig.Jeannette is in the background,she is in our Troop and is also on the Cub Scout Outdoor Activities Committee.

My Dear Friend Michelle's den had a great weekend,winning many first,second,and third places,which earned them the big over all trophy (which you can see on the table in the photo above). Her son Kyle is in the den. I took photos of the boys with their trophy,but I didn't want to put them on the blog without her permission. 

Monday night we had our Troop meeting,and Thursday we will be participating in a opening flag ceremony at the Governors Inn in Rochester.They are hosting an event for scouting. Friday thru Sunday is our Boy Scout Camporee,where they have events for Boy Scouts (kind of the same thing as Fish and Run,but without the fishing,and just for Boy Scouts). I will be camping out at that. The following week is the Hikeathon. Then we can take a breath!!! :)

Have a fabulous day on this fabulous planet,where ever you might be!!!!