Monday, March 30, 2009

Gig 'Em Aggies

College Station, Tx was our destination for the last part of a wonderful spring break. My nephew attends our alma mater, Texas A&M and we wanted to visit him before he graduates in May. I was astounded at how much this college town has grown into a bustling mecca. What once used to be a small country community revolving around the university now resembles a suburb of Houston, with many strip centers and restaurants and fun things to do for families as well as college students. The campus has grown as well, and we had a great time walking around Friday night after dinner, thanks to Matt and his sweet girlfriend, Jen. Shown in the photos are pictures of the campus, Pete and I under the century tree on campus and the George Bush Presidential Library. Under the beautiful massive century tree were lots of rose pedals. Jen told me that girls get proposed to under the tree and it looked like there had been a lot of activity lately. With graduation so close, that doesn't surprise me. Saturday we toured the George Bush (senior) Presidential Library. That place was very impressive. We lucked into a physics festival going on, then toured the museum. Nasa Space Center also had a display in the library, so we stayed for over two hours taking it all in. The presidential library is a trip in and of itself and I highly recommend this educational and historical library for the whole family. We did not have time to do everything I would have liked; after all, I lived in College Station for four years. I guess we will have to plan another trip back to Texas A&M University soon.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Beach Fun

The Kolp family has had a great Spring Break. Pete took the week off, too, and we did a lot of fun things. We went to the beach for the day Thursday, and were we surprised! Hurricane Ike really did a number on the Bolivar Peninsula. Many things were so different, yet some were still the same. First, driving onto the peninsula, we were shocked to see the beach right by the highway. We knew that the houses were gone and had heard of the ruination, but to confront the devastation with our eyes was a sight to behold. Everything was gone. We did not drive down very far, but where we stopped to have some fun, we had to park on the highway. The high tide line was only forty feet away! Second, the beach was inundated with sand dollars. Can you believe we found twenty-five? Only a few of them were barely broken- most of them were whole. Does anyone know what to do with twenty-five sand dollars? I know there must be some cute craft we could make. Finally, we did see some Portugese man-of-war, but luckily they stayed away from our crazy kids who just could not stay out of the freezing water. We had a picnic in the van and then drove home. What a great day at the beach we had.

Cookies, I mean sand dollars anyone?

This is a picture of a Portugese man-of-war we saw on the beach. We found one more washed up and the kids saw two in the water. Did you know that if you ever get stung by one at the beach all you have to do is cover the sting with sand and urinate on the spot! There is something in human urine that draws out the sting. Thanks to my former marine husband, I learned this new tip (hopefully we will never have to use it).
We also visited my nephew in College Station, but I will blog about that great time next...
The Legend of the Sand Dollar
There’s a lovely little legend
That I would like to tell,
Of the birth and death of Jesus
Found in this lowly shell.
If you examine closely
You’ll see that you find here,
Four nail holes and a fifth one
Made by a Roman’s spear.
On one side the Easter Lily,
Its center is the star,
That appeared unto the shepherds
And led them from afar.
The Christmas Poinsettia
Etched on the other side,
Reminds us of
His birthday
Our happy Christmastide.
Now break the center open
And here you will release,
The five white doves awaiting
To spread Good Will and Peace.
This simple little symbol
Christ left for you and me,
To help us spread
His Gospel
Through all Eternity.
-Author Unknown

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Here Comes My Baby

Today my mom (Nini) treated the kids and me to a movie. We went to see a Disney movie, "Race to Witch Mountain," rated PG. From the very opening scene, I started to wonder whether or not we were in the right movie. UFOs, aliens, government interference and an ex-con taxi driver who was trying to escape from his shady past; these are not the normal kid-movie themes. I started to panic, thinking I was ruining my children's pyschological well-being by letting them stay in this movie. But then I heard a voice tell me, "Calm down and watch the movie." I looked over at the kids, whose eye's were glued to the screen.
I leaned over and said, "Be sure to cover your eyes and ears if this gets too scary for you." Then I sat back and watched the movie, which was very good.
Half-way through, Nicholas climbed on my lap.
"Do you want me to call Daddy and have him come and get us?" I whispered in his ear.
"Are you kidding- this rocks," he answered, "I just love the looks of that alien girl."
Oh, no, I thought- he's only five! This can't start yet.
Later in the movie, Nicholas turns to me again with his fingers fanned out.
"You know," he said, "my fingers have the power to flash lightning."
"Really?" I said.
"Oh, yes. And I am not really human. I am just here on earth for a while and then I'll have to go back to my home planet of Pluto on my spaceship."
"I sure will miss you," I said sadly.
"Well...I don't think I'll go back yet."

This has gone on all afternoon and night, too. Nicholas' imagination is on fire with aliens, UFOs, magic powers, ESP, and the list goes on. All I can say is "Watch out fellow writers- here comes my baby!"

Time Heals...

A Plan

Have some fun
in the sun.
Go for a run
or walk with hon.
Forget the gun
that stole your sun
a year ago, one.
Start anew,
take care of you,
always be true-
this I will do.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Kissing Babies

Oh, to love like that, so sweet and innocent.

There is no doubt - babies are heaven sent!

Camden and Katelyn- two cousins are they,

I hope they remind you to have a great day!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Update and a Poem

Today marks the one-year anniversary of Mary's horrible death.
I have posted some pictures to share because I am at a loss of words right now. You see, Pete and I just got back from the cemetery. We found the baseball, right where David had placed it and left flowers from Jeni and the cardinal figurine from David. I had tried to reach the cemetery yesterday so that we could find Mary's exact burial spot, but will have to wait until tomorrow when they are open. I plan on going back again soon and placing some kind of temporary marker until the headstone comes in.

This picture is Mary's brother, David, and I at the cemetery Friday.

These are the flowers taken in Pete's car on our way to the cemetery. Pretty, huh?

Here is a picture of the flowers, cardinal and baseball.
Two Friends by Laurie Kolp
(dedicated and written for her friend Mary)

True friendship was found in autumn
between two women who were
bound by the similarities of their past.

In winter they visited over coffee daily
as they shared their hopes and dreams
creating a bond that would last.

Spring blossomed like a flower of promise
and hope that their friendship could get
them through life’s troubles so vast.

Until the day before Easter
when their friendship died.
One took her very life
and the other survived.

Now they continue as friends,
for their bond would not end
only seeing each other
as feelings within.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

A Sweet Surprise

Yesterday I was getting ready to go the ballpark for Andrew and Nicholas' baseball games when I got a call from Jeni, Mary's sister, who lives in New York. Jeni and I have become good friends and we talk all the time (she has a great blog all about Mary- just click on my big red cardinal and it'll take you right there). Anyway, their little brother, David, and his girlfriend had driven down from Houston to visit Mary's grave and were having a hard time finding the spot. There is no marker anymore. David called Jeni, not knowing what to do, and she called me. Evidentally the tombstone has not come in yet or Mary's husband is still working on ordering it. So I drove down to the graveyard to try and help David. We had a great conversation and I was so happy to be able to assist him. Can you believe that we found a baseball right where we think Mary is? David loves baseball, and he took that as a big sign from Mary and, well, I was heading to the baseball games, so I think that was a HUGE sign. David had brought a cardinal statue and we took some pictures of the baseball and cardinals. Tomorrow, on the one-year-anniversary of Mary's death, Pete and I are going back to take some flowers from Jeni, and we are going to try to find a way to place David's sweet cardinals so they don't get mowed over. I will post all the pictures later when I can get to my other computer.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Test Results

I went back to the ENT doctor this morning. We went over all of the testing I had done two weeks ago and he still thinks I have migraine associated vertigo. That surprised me a little, since one of the tests showed up positive for Meniere's disease. I do find comfort in the fact that he's not willing to jump right in and put a label on me before he has a lot of evidence to support his diagnosis. Until I see him again in six weeks, I have to keep a journal so that if I have an episode I will know what some of the triggers might be. If I do have an episode, he wants to see me during it- Pete? I also am taking allergy meds and nose spray and have to do some balance exercises twice a day. Hopefully we will get to the bottom of this. Until then, I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Candle Mishap

I'm a Yankee Doodle, candle kind of girl. What can I say? I love good smells, and when a candle can burn SAFELY for hours, I'm sticking with it. Everyday I light my candle while I write on the computer. I recently received a different kind of candle as a gift (not Yankee), and I was really enjoying it. The fragrance was Bird of Paradise- another reason to love it. In fact, I noticed this new candle cost less than Yankee candles, so I was even thinking about switching over. Until today. The strangest, scariest, stinkiest thing happened and my heart's still all a-flutter. I lit this little sucker up and noticed the wick was off to the side, but didn't think anything of it. Then I proceeded to vacuum and started noticing a funny smell. A fire-like smell! Can you believe the glass was broken and the flame was growing? In seconds my St. Patrick's Day card could have been ignited and who knows what else. Whew. That was a close one. I blew out that little candle and can't wait to trash it, yet I am still in shock that the jar broke from the flame. I'm back to my Yankee candle again and this time I am not budging.
When Pete got home, he showed me how part of the plastic from the top had gotten stuck around the rim, so the bad smell was the plastic burning. Can you believe it? Thank you sweet Jesus for saving us from a near catastrophe.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Harmful Medicine

What would you do if your child suffered from severe acne? Would you take him/her to the dermatologist and get medicine to clear it up? Probably, like me, you would. Well, think twice before you do that. A writing colleague put her son Eric on Bactrim after the drug was prescribed from their doctor. Within days he was suffering from an allergic reaction. Eric has been in the hospital for more than a month now and is not doing well. He was finally transported from Lake Charles to Texas Children's Hospital in Houston. The poor guy has suffered pneumonia and lost some of his lung. All of this because of acne. Please be aware of this harmful drug and think seriously before you take anything similar or have your child take it. One never really knows the harmful side effects drugs can have.

Oh, and please pray for Eric's recovery.

Saturday, March 14, 2009


I am not the same person I was a year ago. This time last year I was strumming through life, one day at a time, with my friend Mary by my side. She was over at my house during spring break with her kids (who had a different spring break then my kids had) and we were making plans. I had gotten some coupons for a neat amusement park and she was like- "Let's go!" Evidentally, her kids had been to this place before, but Mary and I had not. We wanted to go. And we were going to! Then two days later, well... you know the rest.
I am not in a very good place right now. My brother-in-law's mom passed away and I was back in the same funeral home yesterday that I went to a year ago when Mary died so unexpectedly. My brother-in-law's mom had Alzheimer's disease and was 77. But Mary- she was so young and had her whole life ahead of her. I can't believe that a year has passed and it seems like yesterday. I still have so many unanswered questions. Suicide is a horrible thing and it affects everyone. If only I could go back...

Friday, March 13, 2009

Two in the Two's

God is so awesome! He never ceases to amaze me. Seeing how He works in my life, and the lives of my family and friends is truly inspiring to me. I would like to share with you a recent example of God's work in my life.
As you all know, I took a part-time job as a preschool art teacher at my church. At the time this job seemed like a dream come true- a chance to work only two days a week and make some extra vacation money. I love my children's art work and have pictures all over the house, but when I had to plan for sixty kids, ranging from the age of two to five and clean-up after them- well I found out real fast that I did not like my job anymore. I'd MUCH rather be at home writing. I was willing to try and make it work, though- stick with the job through May. Then GOD intervened.
During the Art show/Valentine's Day luncheon, I was sitting right next to the art teacher I replaced (we happen to be friends). I had bags under my eyes and a frown on my face because I was worn out from all the preparation. Well, we got to talking. One thing led to another and I told her I didn't really like being the art teacher. My friend (Brandi) told me she wished she had never quit, that she should have taken the leave of absence that was offered to her instead. Can you guess what happened next? We decided to see if we could switch jobs again (she had been subbing). We went home and talked to our husbands and prayed about it, then I called our boss the next week. The boss was shocked- of course, but very cooperative. So now Brandi is teaching art again and I am subbing. Thank you God!
Oh, and guess what else? I had promised to sub this week because a lot of the teachers were going to be on spring break. Well, Brandi and I got to sub together (they had to call off art because they were so short-handed) in the two-year-old class. The two art teachers together in the two's- how's that for irony?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


Well, I am really disappointed. I can't believe more people didn't try to take part in my challenge. I thought it would be a fun way to get to know one another, because I know you are out there, but just not commenting. I promise I don't bite. And even though I'd kill a snake, I won't harm you. Please, please, just try to guess- is this too hard? I do have some readers that might prefer e-mailing me- that's fine. But, doesn't a nice hot cup of java sound good? That's your prize, you know. A gift certificate to Starbucks. I'll e-mail the winner soon. I am going to give you until Saturday- yes- I extended the deadline. If you don't know what I am talking about, scroll down to my post last Sunday- it's a contest people- join in! Can't wait to hear from ya!!!

Monday, March 9, 2009

A Scary Visitor

Yesterday we had a visitor on our front porch and unfortunately he got away before I could...kill him! Yes- we had a snake. Everyone thinks this was a cotton-mouth. I do know one thing, well two- this snake was HUGE and the head was triangular. I was getting ready to tutor and happened to look out my front window as my student and her mom were walking towards the door. They stopped suddenly and the mom bent down as if she was looking for something. I went out the garage door because I knew something was wrong, but I did not expect to see such a huge snake. I told my friend to hold on, I'd go and get a shovel, but she said, "No. There's no way you and I can kill that snake, Laurie." My husband and neighbor were gone, so my friend threw a stick at the snake and he didn't budge. We could hear Steve Irwin egging us on, "Okay, here we have a tricky one." But we persisted, and still couldn't get the snake to move. She finally left and my student and I went inside (I put the garage door down) to start our work. Fifteen minutes into the session, this sweet ten-year-old said, "You don't think he could get to my house, do you?" She was thinking about the snake, of course. So, while she worked, I quickly put the garage door back up and went to check again. I was scared, but I tiptoed down our sidewalk (it runs along the side of the house to the front door) with a broom (that's all I could find) carefully, slowly looking for Mr. Snake. I moved very quietly and deliberately, searching and hunting. I even got my nerve up enough to move around the pot plants, but no more Mr. Snake. He was gone. Rats. I wanted to kill him! Oh well, my brother-in-law came over later on and we searched everywhere, but I guess Mr. Snake went home. Please stay there and don't come back. I might have to kill you, Mr. Snake. HISSSS!

Friday, March 6, 2009

I Never Wanted to be a Tight-Rope Walker Anyway

Have you ever woken up feeling like you have been hit by a train? Or worse, hit and then dragged down the track? Well, that is how I felt when I woke up this morning and I know exactly why I felt that way. Yesterday I endured two and a half long hours of testing for my vertigo problem. Hours of drumming in my ears, blowing cold and hot air in my ears, wearing goggles and following lights with my eyes. Hours of balance tests, things pushed hard in my ears- did I mention jack-hammering in my ears?

The first test was an Electrocochleography (ECochG- I think that's how you spell the shortened version). I had to lay down and after they cleaned and flushed my ears out, an instrument was inserted in both ears. The lady said it would be best if I fell asleep for this test. I thought, okay- I'll pretend like I'm on a beautiful beach with my hubby. The test began and I felt like I was being blown off the island by a tsunami. One ear literally sounded like a jack-hammer was beating up and down as hard as it could while the other side had this constant buzzing sound. Twenty minutes on that side, and then it switched to the other. Okay, who can sleep through this? I thought. I decided to try to use my meditation techniques, to no avail. Then I said some prayers. I ended up talking myself through it, "Okay. I can get through this, I can get through this. I've been through much worse." Then there were several more minutes of other noises, silences and buzzes. Forty-five minutes had passed by the time this shorter test was over. I felt like I had been through the ringer. Where's my cigarette? Oh, yeah, I gave up smoking years ago.

The second test was a Videonystagmography, or VNG. The lady who gave me this test was so sweet. She told me we would be doing a variety of things and that the whole thing would take two hours at the most. Did I mention I couldn't drink coffee or have caffeine 24 hours before the tests? The first thing we did was a bunch of balance tests. I am so glad I never aspired to be a tight-rope walker. I guess the WII fit balance tests were correct when they said I was unbalanced. After the tests, she put some huge, bulky goggles on me. I had to keep my eyes wide open and follow a light back and forth, up and down, fast and slow for a series of tests. They were measuring the reaction of my pupils, I think to movements. Then they closed the goggles and I had more tests done, with eyes open and moving. The last part of this test was the worse. Air was blown into my ear for 60 seconds. Not once, but twice. On each ear. Hot air, then cold air. Then she had to do one ear again. I had to answer all kinds of weird questions after the air blasts, like name things that are red, blue, cities, states, Disney characters and movies, girls names that start with "J" and boys names that begin with "B". I guess they didn't want me to have a stroke?

After all this was said and done, the tests showed that my right ear tested positive for Meniere's Disease and my left ear tested positive for vestibular (balance) weakness. The doctor will have to read through the tests and make a diagnosis and recommendation when I go back and see him on the 20th. Until then, I'll be praying that this can all be treated with a pill. And thanking God those tests are over. Sigh. TGIF!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

No More Dizzy Blonde!

This dizzy blonde doesn't want to be dizzy anymore! Ever since I was a little girl, I have had problems with vertigo. I would get this debilitating disease every three months as a child. I remember having the same dream before waking up so dizzy I would throw up. I couldn't get out of bed. The whole world was spinning and all I could do was lay in bed until it passed. This would go on for three days. Doctors always said I would outgrow it and, for a while, I did. In college and my twenties I barely got this horrible ailment, but when I did, the vertigo seemed to hit me when I was worn down. Now as I've gotten older, had three kids and then a complete hysterectomy, the dizziness has hit me more often. Well I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired. No more guessing, or home remedies. I am not going to assume it's allergy-related or anything else anymore. I am finally getting help. And, boy am I happy! Today I went to an ENT doctor who specializes in vertigo and spent an hour and a half in his office- answering questions, taking tests, getting solutions. I go back Thursday for some more extensive testing and I am a little nervous, but oh, so happy. You know why? I'm finally going to get some answers. I have something, and have had it all my life, that is real. People who battle with dizziness or vertigo have a disadvantage, I think, because the disease can be so hard to diagnose. Do you know what the doc thinks it might be? Some form of vertigo migraine. This makes so much sense to me, because when I am hit with this (like a bomb), I am in bed for days. Don't come near me, don't move around me, no lights on or food. And I have always been so encapsulated by the dizzy/nausea part of my illness, that I have made light of the headache that accompanies it. I do have a headache when I get this. Now, we don't know for sure and I am still learning about all of this, but if this is what I do have, then I can take a little pill at the onset to stop it. Praise God! I am free at last! (At least I'm getting there).

Monday, March 2, 2009

Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep...

Have you ever had a night that you couldn't sleep? Well, I am having just that kind of night and have reached the point of giving up. I might as well wake up and blog about it, then maybe I can fall asleep for two hours before I have to wake up with the kids.

Here are some of my problems tonight, in the order they occured:
1. Music. Someone, somewhere outside (hopefully not in my head, but I did think about that possibility) is playing music or watching T.V. I know my neighbors live close, but come on.
2. Ceiling fan is squeaking. I tried to remedy that in the dark, to no avail.
3. Okay, I'll get out my cute eye-patches I got the other day at Kohl's- maybe they will help.
4. I hear a noise in the hall and I know it's not one of the kids (their doors are loud when they open them). This time, light goes on-nothing there.
5. I get back in bed where my husband is sleeping oblivious to all of this. I'm just about to drift off when I hear another loud thud- this time from right outside my window. I wake up Pete, who mumbles something about the kids and rolls over.
6. I shake Pete awake, "No, honey. I heard a LOUD thud, like a pipe hit the wall right outside!"
7. I hear a "tuh,"- not nice voice- and then, "I would have heard a pipe hit" as I watch Pete get up and check everything (very briefly).
8. A few minutes later the heater goes on, which was probably the thud I heard.
9. Now I have to go to the bathroom. I get back in bed and Pete is already snoring (which he was not doing before I woke him up).
10. The toilet is stuck, so I have to get back out of bed and go wiggle the handle. How could I have gone from saying my peaceful nightly prayers to cursing in three hours?

Moral of the story- Don't ever decide to turn off your air filter when you are going to bed. It might sound funny, but at least the noise will lull you to sleep (and muffle out all the unfamiliar sounds that go bump in the night).

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Spring's Promise

Spring, so bright and colorful,
full of promise fresh and new;
a chance to start all over again,
living life, warm and true.
Grass so green, flowers so bright,
a picture perfect setting for the eye.
The smell so sweet, songs of the birds-
don't let this glorious time pass you by.