Saturday, April 30, 2016

Foundation Comparison & Review: Avon, Maybelline and Younique

This morning I was feeling ambitious and decided to do a little comparison of 3 varieties of foundation I had on hand.  I compared these three.

First we have Maybelline Dream Matte Mousse in classic ivory.  It comes in a small glass jar & you apply it with your fingertips.  It's a mousse/cream foundation.  This is the foundation I've been wearing most recently.  I get it at my local CVS for about $7-9 depending on sales.  {Note:  there is also a Maybelline Dream Smooth compact/sponge version of this product that I actually liked much better for the coverage but it appears to have been discontinued, so I switched to this mousse version last fall.}

Next we have Younique's Mineral Touch liquid foundation in Organza.  This color has been out of stock for months & months, so it's been a long time coming.  When it's in stock, it sells out rapidly so you have to know someone who sells to get the heads-up when it'll be available and buy quickly or you'll miss it.  Several friends of mine sell Younique and I've seen dozens of videos online that made me want to try it.  But more about those videos in a minute.  It is $39 (plus shipping, which makes it $48 total.)  You must use a foundation brush to apply this.  Younique sells one ($32) but I found one that I like at CVS for $15.  So the foundation itself is nearly $50 (with shipping) & the brush is around $15 (if you get a drug store version).

And last we have Avon's Anew Age-Transforming 2-in-1 compact foundation.  It's got a wrinkle cream component built into the foundation so that's where the 'Age-Transforming 2 in 1' part comes in.  This one is in the Ivory shade.  It's in a compact and you apply it with a small sponge.  I paid about $8 for this one, but like the Maybelline one, the price varies slightly depending on sales.


I need to make a couple disclaimers here.
1.  I sell Avon, so I clearly went into this with the hopes of proving Avon to be the best product.  They have a good reputation.  They're affordable.  Plus anyone who buys their products earn me money!  Local ladies: let me know if you need an Avon lady!  Or visit my website:
2.  I have tons of friends who sell Younique and I've seen a million videos like these that made me want to try their foundation.  and  I really figured it was a "too good to be true" sort of deal, so I bought it out of a cross between skepticism and curiosity.  After all, this girl is getting older every minute and my pores are widening. Younique claims to fix my pores and make me look 21 with their magic foundation.
3.  Maybelline/Cover Girl/Loreal & other drug store brands are generally my go-to foundations because they are most readily available and I can look at them in the store to make sure they are the right shade for me without worries about having to return something if it's NOT the right shade.  So while I order a lot of Avon products from myself, foundation & powder are items that I typically buy in person for the color matching issue.  Plus, I suppose, if I get one that doesn't quite cut it for me, I don't feel bad about tossing a product that I spent under $10 on.

And a little info about my needs for a foundation:
I am generally a Classic Ivory shade in all foundations.  Pretty much a glowing white girl, but not quite pasty porcelain doll white. I have pink/blue undertones (not yellow).  I burn easily, peel and go back to glowing white.  I have combination skin.  I'm mostly dry but have times when I get oily, so I can't buy a product solely based on whether it's good for dry or oily skin because I kind of need both.  I don't have any major wrinkles just yet, but I am beginning to see a few small ones.  My pores are pretty big on my nose & across my cheeks near my nose.  I have some redness in the same areas that has to be covered.  And while I don't typically have trouble with blemishes (thank you genetics!), I still have a wacky mid-life acne crisis now and then with a big honkin' zit that takes 2 weeks to break the surface, then turns into a giant red scab before it completely goes away.  At the moment I have one those trying to surface on my chin.  You'll see it in the pics below.  I need medium to full coverage on a day to day basis to even out my skin tone and cover the redness, pores & occasional zits.

Now....on with the review & comparisons.

I started the day with a clean face, but to sure, I used my cleanser and washed it anyway.  I re-washed my face in between each type of make-up and took a new clean face pic, so the clean face pics below are not just repeats of the 1st shot.  I wanted to be sure to show you that I started fresh each time.  I did not apply any primer, moisturizer or anything else before applying the foundations.  In normal daily use I would apply my Avon Nurtura cream (moisturizer) first but today I wanted it to be foundation ONLY so I could get a good comparison of the products.

I took a picture of my bare face (eeek!) and then applied the Younique foundation.  As per the million videos I've seen I put 5 drops of foundation on my brush, dotted it around my face, then began spreading it around or painting my face as I like to think of it.  ha ha!  I ended up having to add 2 more drops to get the results below.  The coverage is good and while it dries to a powdery finish, I still would use powder over it to set it.  This is the side by side comparison of before/after with that one.  You can click the pic & blow it up bigger to see the redness and imperfections it covered.  I'd say the coverage is medium to full. While I didn't see quite as dramatic a difference as all the videos I've seen online where this foundation is called "Photoshop in a bottle", it did cover well and the color was a good match for me.  Application was really fast.

I washed off the Younique foundation and took a new clean face pic and then applied the Avon foundation.  Again, you can click the picture to blow it up bigger.  I noticed that it took several dips into the compact to get it to the right thickness on my face to cover the zit on my chin but then again, you don't typically only swipe the sponge once when applying cream foundations so no shocker there. However, it bugged me that I had to add more a couple times to get it to the level of coverage I wanted.  Once I did, the coverage was about the same as the Younique foundation and the color was good.  However, in looking at these pics, it appears a tad lighter in color than the Younique foundation pic above.  I think that's just the lighting in my bathroom.  Coverage was medium to full, but took several "layers" to get to that point.  It took a tad longer to put on than the first one.

I washed off the Avon foundation, took a new picture and applied the Maybelline foundation.  It is what I'm most used to so application was fast.  You swipe your fingers across the top of the jar, dot it on your cheeks, forehead, chin, nose and then use your fingers to spread it around.  The coverage is light to medium with this one.  Because of the way it dries (quickly) to a matte finish, adding another layer for better coverage would be difficult, because you'd sort of wipe off the first layer to add more.  Recently, I've noticed that by 1-2 PM it appears that all of my make up has disappeared.  I don't know if my skin soaks it all in or what but that's why I ordered the Younique and Avon products to compare.  This is my side by side pic of the Maybelline foundation.

So, what's my take on these three products?

Pros/Cons of each:
I like the Younique foundation for coverage & the fact that it would last forever since you use so little with each use.  However I don't like that the Younique product is very expensive. It is WAY more expensive than anything else in my make up collection and it would be cost prohibitive for me to buy it regularly.  However, since you use so little of it, I feel like the bottle would last about 6 months at least, which helps ease the ouch factor of the cost.  Since it is so often out of stock, it might be hard to acquire if I run out & need it right away.  Their shipping was very fast, though.  I ordered it Monday online & it was in my hands Thursday afternoon.

I like the Avon foundation because it's the one I sell and let's be honest, I wanted to prove the Younique product to be false/exaggerated advertising.  ha ha!  I got the same sort of coverage as with the Younique foundation, however, it took a bit more of the product to achieve the same level of coverage.  Given the cost, I might be able to afford buying more of it and feel just as happy with the use/coverage.  It is affordable and I can get my hands on it fairly quickly since I sell it.  (But do I want to buy 5 of them to match the cost of the other product for the same sort of results?)

I like the Maybelline product because it's cheap & so readily available. The coverage is not so great and it absorbs (or disappears?) from my face mid-day.  Irritating.  But it's cheap and I can get it in my hands within 10 minutes.  (I live near a CVS.)  If I was 21 and didn't need much coverage, it probably wouldn't bother me as much to use this one, but I think I've probably aged out of the use of this one.

So what will I put on my face & wear to church tomorrow?  Which one will I continue to wear regularly?

I am torn.  It's definitely between the Younique product & the Avon product.  Both offer good coverage and benefit someone individually rather than the big chain stores.  {I like to buy from an individual when I can if there is a good product I need/want/enjoy.}  While the Avon product is MUCH cheaper & benefits ME when I sell it, it does require heavier use to get the same coverage as the Younique product.  The cost to coverage ratio is where my dilemma comes in.  Since budgetary concerns are an issue for me, I did some math.

Assuming the Younique product & brush last me 6 months, it costs me about .36 a day to use it.  (Of course, the brush may need to be replaced sooner--or might last fast longer than 6 months-- so there might be some variance in price where that's concerned.)  And assuming that the Avon product lasts about 2 months (so I'd have to buy 3 to make an equivalent use to the Younique product), it would cost me about .13 a day to use it.  But the coverage not being equivalent with just one "layer" of the Avon product I'd have to use more of it to get the same results, thus increasing my overall cost for the Avon product.

So does it even out in the end cost-wise?  Maybe.  The Younique foundation is still a little pricier than the Avon product, but I really like the way it covers so I won't have an issue buying it again.  {Plus I get to support my girlfriends who sell it.  Check out the sweet friend I bought it from this time here:}  But there are times, like when I travel, that liquid foundation is kind of a pain in the neck so in those instances, I'll carry the Avon product with me instead.

Are the Avon product & the Younique product equivalent?  In some ways, yes.  In others, no.  I think the Avon compact is a more travel-friendly & convenient product.  But the Younique one offers really good coverage with very little product and it takes a minimal amount of time to apply.

So.... I will continue to buy both products!  I'll use the Younique one on a regular daily basis and the Avon one as a touch-up or for travel.  But I'm gonna go toss the Maybelline one in the garbage.  Or give it to my young beautiful daughters who don't yet need much help in the beautiful skin department!

Have you tried these same products?  Which one did you like best?

Friday, April 1, 2016

I don't have cancer!

I have walked through a breast cancer scare these past couple weeks.  All my friends and family already know this story, but I am hoping that, by documenting it here someone else will find it when they are frantically googling like I was a couple weeks ago. My hope is that they'll find a bit of comfort in knowing someone else has "been there, done that" before.  If you are that person, feel free to email me privately if you have questions beyond what I answer here.  My email address is at the top right of this page.

My husband's mom and grandmother both had breast cancer years ago.  When I was about 25, he started asking me to get a mammogram to set his mind at ease. I had to explain that they don't do mammograms on 25 year olds unless there is a problem suspected.  So for the past 15 years, he's anxiously awaited a time when I was old enough to get it done. I, on the other hand, was a little less enthusiastic about the test.  But I went anyway because I'm a rule follower and you're supposed to start doing these lovely tests when you're 40.  I turned 40 back in November.  So on March 8, I went in for my first mammogram ever.

I had been told ahead of time that it's not uncommon for first timers to be called back for additional images. Since the doctor who looks at your mammogram Xrays doesn't have a previous year's records to compare to, they have a tough time determining what's normal for you. So I went in knowing that was a possibility.  While doing the test, the tech showed me on the screen where one breast had an area of dense tissue -- a very common thing where you have spots in your tissue that are simply thicker than the rest.  It doesn't "mean" anything, but sometimes the radiologist will ask for more magnified pictures of that area to be sure there's nothing hidden in that thicker tissue. The tech told me not to panic if they called for more pictures in a few days.  She made sure to tell me that she didn't think there was anything wrong, but she wanted to give me a heads-up so I wouldn't be concerned.  But she said "If you get a letter, it's even better!"  So in my mind, that meant a phone call in a few days meant there was reason for concern (or more pictures) and a letter meant everything was okay.

Almost a week passed without any word from them, so I assumed everything was fine. But then I got a letter in the mail.  I almost threw it away, thinking that a letter meant everything was normal. I almost threw it away because I felt like it was just going to say things were fine, but I went ahead and opened it.  I scanned down the page looking for the words "normal" or "everything is okay" but instead found that there was "reason for further evaluation" of my right breast. It instructed me to call ASAP to schedule a diagnostic mammogram.  I immediately called & scheduled it for Good Friday because I was off work that day. It was about a week and a half out, but it was a convenient time. While scheduling, the lady on the phone slipped & mentioned the "suspicious finding" on my chart. It worried me briefly but I convinced myself that's probably just what they call any need for more images. But in the days leading up to the diagnostic appointment, I couldn't help but get nervous that there was something more going on.

Good Friday came and I went in for the tests. I had been told my husband could be there to hear the news with me, so he sat in the waiting room for 2 1/2 hours while I paraded around the back of the office among other half-dressed women, all wringing our hands and praying nothing was wrong.  I had the mammogram first.  I was positioned in several odd poses, compressed in all sorts of crazy ways while the tech circled me & adjusted the machine over and over. When she swung a screen around to see where to position the machine, I saw it. On the screen, there was a little red circle around a strange little white rectangle with a bumpy top.  It looked like a Lego block inside my breast.  I pointed & asked what that was. The tech said "That's why you're here.  That's the spot he was concerned about due to the irregular shape, so we're getting some magnified images of that particular spot."

That's when I knew that it wasn't just dense tissue they were looking at.  I had an actual THING in there.  A lump.  A mass.  Some thing was growing inside me when it shouldn't be there at all. The panic set in and I had to work hard to keep from crying and hyperventilating.  The tech sat me down in a chair after she was done & said to hang out for a minute.  She was going to show the doc my pictures and see if she'd gotten everything he needed.  When she returned, I had talked myself off the cliff.  She said the doctor felt like he needed to see it under ultrasound as well, so they moved me to that room.

The ultrasound tech came in, did her measurements of this thing in me and then called in the doctor.  He looked at it, did a quick exam and then said to meet him in the room next door after I got dressed so we could discuss it.  They called Larry from the waiting room to be there, too.  He explained that I have a tumor in my right breast but he believes it's a benign tumor called a Fibroadenoma. Of course he couldn't guarantee that's what it was, but he offered us two options.  (1) Wait six months & then look at it again to see if it had changed/grown, etc. or (2) Biopsy it to confirm the diagnosis.  Larry and I took about 5 seconds to decide we wanted a biopsy! The idea of leaving it there without knowing for sure what it was for six months put my stomach in knots.  No thank you.  Let's figure this out!  I'm a bit of an information hog, so getting answers and info is vital to me.

My biopsy was the following Wednesday. Leading up to it I was a nervous wreck.  I didn't think I was, but as the test approached, I realized how worried I really was.  I just wanted to get it over with & have some answers!

The procedure itself wasn't so bad, aside from baring myself to yet more people I don't know. By the time it was over, I realized that 6 people had seen or touched me. Eeeeek!  For the biopsy, I was laid on a bed and they gave me several shots of lidocaine to numb the area.  They used a needle biopsy gun tool to do it.  Basically it's a long, thick needle that they feed other needles through.  They are attached to the handle with a trigger that sort of shoots them out when they get it positioned right.  Those needles have a grabber thing on the end which snip off little pieces of tissue and pull it back out.  They also inserted a small metal clip into the tumor so that they could find it later on future mammograms. Or if it turned out to be malignant they could use the marker to measure the tumor and locate it during Xrays. Fortunately, the lidocaine shots numbed the surface, the underlying tissue and the tumor itself so once I got those shots, I was completely numb for the entire thing and watched it all on the ultrasound screen.  It was really sort of interesting to watch.  When it was over they put steri-strips over the tiny incision (about 1/4" long) and a bigger bandage over that, then taped an icepack on top of it all.  Of course, this is all before I got moved to the mammogram room for a "gentle" mammogram to check and make sure the clip they inserted was placed well and had not migrated to a less optimal spot.

They told me that the samples they took would have to soak in some sort of solution for 24 hours before they were looked at, so I would not hear anything for at least 24 hours. But since it was late in the day on Wednesday, they suspected it would be Friday morning before the doctor called with results.  The nurse, the ultrasound tech who assisted during the biopsy and the doctor himself all confirmed my phone number and assured me over & over that he'd call Friday morning.

On Thursday I was at work (I work at a school) when my phone rang in class.  All the teachers knew what was going on, so when I grabbed my phone and ran out of class the teachers who were in the room knew exactly what was going on.  I was a couple doors away from the school cafeteria so I went there to be able to sit in a quiet room and hear the doctor and talk.  He told me that my biopsy had shown NO cancer cells, that the tumor was indeed benign and was absolutely a fibroadenoma like he'd originally suspected. He told me I didn't have to be looked at again for 12 months and I could just go back to a normal mammogram routine at that time.  When I hung up, I cried. Tears of happiness, tears of relief, tears of anxiety releasing from my tense shoulders. I texted my family and a couple close friends, then got up to return to the classroom but I couldn't stop crying.  When I reached the classroom door where I had been the teachers in the room were looking out and spotted me and gave me the "WELL????" look.  I was crying and wiping tears but I was able to mouth the words "It's not cancer" and give them a thumbs up.  They cheered, they yelled, they ran into the hall to hug me and cry with me....which made me laugh & cry some more.  The kids in the room were stunned, not sure what was happening at the door way.  When they asked what was happening I said "I don't have cancer!" and they were shocked---of course they had no idea there had been an issue before. Some of them stood in shock while others ran over to join the cheering and hugging party.  It was a really sweet time!

It took a few hours for the high to wear off and life to sort of resume some normalcy. 600+ friends on facebook cheered along with me at the "It's NOT cancer!!" post I made.  For a few hours, I felt more loved and a little like a rockstar, than I ever have before.  When you're wrapped up in that much love and joy, you can't help but feel like the queen of the world.

24 hours later, I'm still elated to have received such good news.  Who knew I would ever be praying for a diagnosis ending in -oma, but in this case a fibroadenoma is the absolutely best case scenario.  Unless it grows or starts hurting, I don't have to have it removed or do anything about it.  It is literally marked for life (with the little metal clip from the biopsy) so we can always keep an eye on it.  It does not increase my chances of having cancer. No one really knows what causes these tumors, but they are 100% benign.

And so, it's with great happiness I can say I DON'T HAVE CANCER!

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Spring Break 2016

Last weekend I made myself an extremely ambitious spring break to-do list. I always do better when I have a list to check off.

There were 12 items on the list. There were cleaning items. There were organizing items. There were lying around & resting & reading items. As it turns out, I crossed off 6 items & part of 2 others. Of the things that I DIDN'T do:

1. Bathrooms: organize inside the cabinets. {Who really looks inside those cabinets anyway? I'll deal with the mess this summer when I have more time to clean!}
2. Clean off the kitchen table & sweep under it. {Really, it's never used for food these's a storage unit. Perpetual problem for us!}
3. Mopping {I'm going to try to do this one tomorrow, actually.}
4. Finish season 1 of Gilmore Girls {I watched and enjoyed the pilot episode, but haven't made it past that yet.}
5. Read all of The Wedding by Nicholas Sparks. {I'm about 1/2 done. I've been too busy to read much this week. But I am enjoying it, so it will be finished!}
6. Fold & put away all the laundry. {Umm...yeah. Nope. Hasn't happened. But there is plenty of it to do if anyone wants to come do it for me.}

BUT I have accomplished some other things.  For example:
1.  Sam got in some behind the wheel driving time for his driver's ed course.
2.  We fed a friend's dogs every day while they traveled. (Blogger says traveled only has 1 L in it, but it looks weird to me like that.  Seems like it should have 2 Ls.)
3.  We watched several episodes of Friends.
4.  Sarah slept at a friend's house 5 of the last 8 nights.  That means a lot of getting her to or from someone's house.
5.  I had a lunch date with Sam, who ran some errands with me one day.
6.  I had a lunch date with Sarah, who ran errands with me another day.
7.  Sarah and I both got haircuts.
8.  I washed & dried about 10 loads of clothes.  (But alas.... #6 from the first list.)
9.  We cleaned both bathrooms.  Ya know...from the baseboards up anyway.  (Just don't look inside the cabinets.)
10.  Cleaned & re-seasoned 3 cast iron skillets.
11.  Changed all the sheets in the house.
12.  Visited the new Goodwill store in town.
13.  Did the dishes daily.
14.  Handed out several Avon books to new people.
15.  And last but not least, I slept a little later than usual EVERY day.

I could keep going, but you get the idea.  I may not have accomplished all the cleaning & organizing that I'd hoped to, but by golly, I got some stuff done.  It might not have included a beach or sunshine.  (Heck, I'm in Texas...the land of a thousand floods this week!)  But it included a bit of rest, time with my kids and some downtime.

Back to the grind Monday!

Saturday, February 27, 2016

IF:Gathering 2016

A movement began a few years ago, led by a sweet lady named Jennie Allen in the Austin area.  I don't really have the whole history & background on what made them choose the name "IF" but it is basically a smaller version of Women of Faith.  It's a Christian women's ministry.  While there is an IF:Gathering every year in Austin, the ministry stretches beyond that.

Local groups around the globe (called IF:Local) meet and watch the live stream version of IF:Gathering.  There is also IF:Equip which is a year-round, day to day Bible study you can sign up for via their website.  There are also IF:Tables where you have mini IF:Local get togethers with your local church group or ladies in your community where you eat dinner together & use the IF questions provided to you to create a Christ-centered conversation.  It's a whole big thing, basically.

Last year a local church hosted an IF:Local event on the day of the IF:Gathering in Austin.  I planned to go but then came down with the flu, so I watched the live stream at home.  Fortunately my family wanted to stay far away from me that weekend so they left me alone to listen, pray, worship & digest all the speakers' messages and to sing (quietly, with a croaky voice) in the privacy of my bedroom.  So this year when that same local church began talking about hosting another IF:Local event, I quickly bought my ticket.  That event was last night & today.  I took lots of notes and wanted to share a few tidbits from different speakers throughout the weekend, but decided it was a little too much for a Facebook post.  Although I suppose it wouldn't shock any of my FB friends to see a 400-mile long post.  Let's just be honest.  I talk.  A lot.  So this blog post was born.  If you missed attending the conference or just don't know what IF is like, this are some of the high points that I took away from each of the speakers I heard.

Jo Saxton
Here is her facebook page:

If you're looking for someone who can take a world of chaos & bring it into order, look at Jesus.

He is the redeemer of your life.  When you think about the cross, take it personally.

The word redemption means to buy back what was lost.

He is the one who restores your purpose.

Jennie Allen
IF Founder
Here is her facebook page:

You have to put your dirt out for Jesus to wash you.

Eugene Cho
Here is his page:

The tomb is still empty!

Are you more in love with talking about & singing about Jesus than actually following and living for Him?

5 fears in every human being:  success, power, $$, popularity, beauty

There are so many voices seeking to twist & distort the words of God -- you must regularly hear the voice of God (prayer, reading the Bible) to overcome all the other voices.

The grass might be greener on the other side, but use that revelation as a sign to water the grass you're standing on more!

Shelley Giglio
Here's her twitter page:

It's interesting that Mary Magdalene didn't immediately recognize Jesus when she first saw Him after the resurrection. How often does God do something in our lives and we don't even see Him?

Your words and testimony are powerful because of what you have seen & experienced. People don't seek help, encouragement, friendship in people who are just speaking from words in a book or platitudes.

Jen Hatmaker
It's probably wrong to say, but she's my favorite.  I seriously feel like she & I could be sisters or best friends or separated at birth.  I want to go hang out on her porch and just talk.  Every day.
Here's her website:

Love God. Love people. That pretty much sums up the Kingdom of God.

Love & live so that the world looks at you and have to draw no other conclusion but that you've been changed by God.

Love people with dignity -- no condescension, no pity, no shame.  Love them as friends, not as a project, not a charity case, not a "goal" to reach.

Power & superiority are fueled by fear.

If you love people the way you should, the way Jesus loves, you should expect obstacles, tension & trouble. Often FROM OTHER CHRISTIANS. Who will you stand by when you're not afraid?

Jesus was scandalous from the day He was born. He didn't pander to the popular -- He came to SAVE.

Jesus is not afraid to recklessly love you.  He is not ashamed of you.  He doesn't wish He chose someone less messy.

Lauren Chandler
Here's her facebook page:

(looking at the story of the woman at the well)  The woman's jar was empty & needed to be filled over and over and over.  The jar was fragile and breakable.  What is the jar in your life? Leave it at the well with Jesus and accept His living water --- no more jar to heft around.

Bianca Olthoff
Here's her facebook page:

God is not a genie in a lamp to be rubbed to get what we want.

Faith consists of believing when it is beyond the power of reason to believe.  (quote from Voltaire)

Angie Smith
Angie is right up there with Jen.  I love her so very much.  I feel like I actually KNOW her.  But of course I don't.  She lives in Tennessee.  She's a little farther of a drive but if she has a porch, maybe Jen and I can come hang out on it with her.  Here's her facebook page:

Her talk was brief, but brave.  She spoke about the story of Abraham & Isaac's trip up the mountain when God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son.  One quote stood out:  "You may not be sure of the ram, but you can be certain of the Lamb."

David Platt
His facebook page:

1.  Recognize the unique place God has put you.
2.  Realize what's at stake in the lives around you.
3.  Remember the purpose He has given you.

What will it take for all the unreached people of the world to become totally intolerable to the Church?

Share the gospel even if it makes you look for feel strange.  Love makes you do strange things.

From Jennie Allen's closing:
People want God.  They don't want our hate & condemnation & judgement.  Why would they want to come to God unless they've seen a compelling life with Christ in you?

So there we go.  Obviously there was MUCH MUCH more & there was tons of Scripture referenced, but these were my big high point notes that I wrote down.  I hope they bless you!

Monday, February 8, 2016

Book Review: Hunger Games

I started reading this book a few weeks ago at school.  I had a sick child at home today and we were only a couple chapters from the end in class, so while he rested, I finished the book.

****Spoiler alert:  There will be some details about the book in this review, so if you haven't previously read this book, be aware that you will learn some details of the story if you proceed.***

Disclaimer #1:  I am not typically a fan of sci-fi, fantasy or dystopian style books/movies, so my keep that in mind.  That means I am not the biggest fan of movies/books like The Princess Bride, Star Wars, Star Trek, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Twilight...and so on.  I have friends who have almost disowned me for this (ha ha), but it's just not my cup of tea.  Since discussing this with a few friends recently, I have really been introspective, trying to determine why these styles don't do anything for me and I think I have come to a conclusion about it.  {Note: this has nothing to do with the book, but I am explaining so you have an understanding of where I'm coming from.}

When I was a little girl, there was plenty of pretend play. I dressed up.  I played house.  I built forts from sheets and blankets.  I mothered baby dolls.  I built elaborate doll houses from cardboard boxes.  I wrote stories.  I drew and colored.  I took dishes and toys outside for tea parties.  I wandered in the woods, floating Barbie dolls on boats (styrofoam meat trays) in the creek.  I played school with my sisters.  But the thing is, all of that was based on mimicking behaviors I had seen in real life.  All of my pretending and imaginative situations of my entire childhood were based in reality.  Having taught preschool for five years myself, I realize now that is very common for young children.  Many children base their pretend play off things they have seen in the world around them.  I had no context for princesses or dragons or fairies or monsters or other things of that nature. I never played pretend with situations I couldn't see replicated in real life.  It's just not how I was wired I guess.  Or maybe my parents were never interested in stories or movies like that, so I never saw it in their entertainment choices?  I don't know but that's how things were when I was little.

So as an adult, it seems that has rolled over into my entertainment choices.  I don't mind fictional books and movies, but if it's so far-fetched that I know it'll never happen in real life, I have a VERY HARD TIME staying focused on it.  The second it goes into something that isn't potentially possible in life, I find my mind wandering, I get drowsy.  I have to constantly pinch myself to come back to the story. It's like there is such a disconnect for me that I have to force myself to stick it out.  And sometimes I do.  Other times I walk away.  There is nothing WRONG with these stories, they just don't hold my attention or entertain me.  When my family wanted to see the new Star Wars movie on Christmas Day, I went. It wasn't awful, but I would've been just as satisfied sleeping through it.  I would never have bothered to see it if it weren't for my family.  I hate to use the words "dumb" or "stupid" or "weird" because that sounds so judgmental and I know lots of perfectly wonderful, highly intelligent people who loved the movie.  But for me, it was really umm.... dumb, stupid, weird.  I left listening to my family cheer and laugh and talk about particular scenes.  I left thinking "Eh.  Whatever.  Now, can we talk about something real?"

So, with that in mind, I just could not imagine enjoying anything about the Hunger Games book.  I'm a big reader and have plenty of other books to keep up with, so it never even crossed my radar to care about this book. If you aren't a fan of those styles either, this book probably won't drastically change your feelings but it's entertaining, and maybe that's what you're looking for.

Disclaimer #2:  With disclaimer #1 in mind, I should say however that I DO love musicals and most Christmas movies, which might have some smidgen of reality in them, but they are largely based on fantasy.  I also have several cartoons I've watched with my kids over the years that are hugely entertaining to me but clearly they are very far-fetched.  Do you know of any high school in the real world where students routinely break into song & the entire school knows all the moves to the dance that happens with the song? (Grease, High School Musical, West Side Story, etc...)  Have you really ever seen an elf, Santa, etc?  How many talking sponges do you know?  I can't reconcile these things, but feel like I need to confess and clear the air and share this truth since I don't tend to like anything else fiction that COULD NEVER HAPPEN.  I'm weird.  I know.  I can't explain it. Sorry.  Please love me anyway.

So.... about that Hunger Games book.

This is the first book in a trio. The second book is Catching Fire and the third is titled Mockingjay.  I watched the first movie a couple years ago and kind of hated it.  I was incredibly underwhelmed, so I had zero desire to read the book version.  While I know that the book version is always far better than the movie, I didn't pursue finding a copy and reading it. So when the classroom teacher told the class that we would be reading this book as a group, I put on a happy face and played along for the sake of the kids.  I didn't want to give them a reason to turn up their nose at the book or not participate in discussions as we read along.  I think one or two of the kids eventually got the picture that it wasn't necessarily my favorite book ever, but for the most part, my lack of enthusiasm didn't cause any issues in class.  I would never want to discourage a child from reading anything.  But this particular teacher and another english teacher on campus were REALLY anxious to see me read the book and fall in love with it.  (Or at least give it a try and make an attempt to enjoy it.)

(Are you ready, Morgan and Tiffany?)

I didn't hate it.  But I really didn't love it either.  I wanted to.  It's hard being one of the few people on the continent who really doesn't care for this style of book.  But try as I might, I couldn't convince myself to adore it.  There were some really great parts.  Then there were parts that I thought were completely ridiculous.  I guess 'indifferent' would be the best way to describe my feelings. Or maybe confused?  I still really don't know how I feel about it.  Let me explain the two sides to that coin.

The book was not entirely different from the movie, but there was way more to the story in the book than viewers saw in the movie.  The book begins by explaining that the Hunger Games were established by the government of Panem, a country divided into districts.  The games are sort of a punishment to the country, a reminder that the government controls everything after a time of rebellion against the government years earlier.  The games are an annual tradition where 2 children (age 12-18) from each district (1 male, 1 female) are trained and then put into an 'arena' where cameras watch them for however long it takes to hunt and kill each other.  Citizens of the country are forced to watch as their young ones fight for survival and attempt to be the last remaining participant. Parents literally see the brutal, graphic, bloody deaths of their children.  Sounds delightful, huh?

Hearing the history and background story before the actual games began was engaging.  At the time, I felt like those chapters were a little dry and boring, but when the rest of the story began to take on an accelerated pace a few chapters in, I realized that I actually enjoyed much more so the dry & boring parts of the book than any of the rest.  {which was completely backward from every student in the classroom!}  The main character, Katniss, is a girl in her mid-teens whose father was killed years before in a mining accident.  She, her mother and little sister Prim remain.  Katniss is a skilled hunter and she spends most of her time in the woods hunting for food to feed the family.  Her district is known for extreme poverty.  People frequently starve to death there. Hearing about Katniss's family and the place where she lives was relatable.  While I've never lived in a place like District 12, I could visualize that being a real place.  Poverty is very real today and there have certainly been times when my own family struggled to figure out where we'd get the next meal. Serving the extremely poor has been the core of several mission trips I've been on.  Meeting physical needs of children I have worked with over the years is such a part of my soul that all of this part of the book just 'made sense' to me.

Hearing the stories of her relationship with her friend Gale made sense to me.  Gale is a boy who also hunts regularly to feed his family in District 12.  Katniss and Gale have a special friendship and they look out for one another.  Their friendship feels tender and sweet.  So when they both go to the Reaping (the day when participants for the games are chosen), you can really FEEL the pain in Gale's heart when he sees Katniss volunteering to be a participant.  {She volunteers so that her very young sister will not have to go.} He is scared he will never see her again.

Learning of her history with her Hunger Games partner, Peeta, was sweet.  Peeta's father is the local baker and there was a time when Katniss's family was on the verge of starvation and Peeta intentionally burned a loaf of bread so that he'd have to throw it out.  He knew he could give it to her to help her family survive.  Katniss feels like she forever owes Peeta a debt of gratitude for his gift.


Pretty much from the moment the selection process began (to choose contestants for the games,) the book lost its thunder to me.  Everything went from feeling realistic and familiar, full of potential and tugging at the heart to being ridiculously fiction-y.  Cartoonish sounding names of characters, items and situations in the book totally distracted me from the story & felt laughable and silly. Characters with names like Effie Trinket, Glimmer; items like trackerjackers, silver discs that lifted the contestants through a glass tube "elevator" into the arena, magic potions; strange situations like images projected onto the night sky for all to see, etc.  While the storyline was engaging enough to keep me curious about what would happen next from day to day, it just felt well... silly.  It was just so far-fetched.

From the moment the games begin, each of the tributes must make decisions about life or death survival tactics constantly.  They are given the very bare minimum in supplies. They must live with these provisions, unless a sponsor chooses to send them a gift along the way.  If they do send something, it arrives on a magical silver parachute that drops from the sky into their exact location. Remember, everything is televised back home so rich people in the Capitol are able to see when they need something & may (or may not) choose to buy it for them.  As the games progress, anytime one of the tributes is killed, a cannon shot is fired for all contestants to hear, giving them a way to keep a death count.  And in the evening, as it gets dark, some sort of mystical film projector puts an image in the sky of whichever tributes died that day.

Katniss is an archer who spends her days mostly hunting for food and evading being found by the other tributes. She has a few close calls along the way.  I hate to give away too many specific details, though.  She is friended by a young girl who reminds her of her little sister, so she feels obligated to protect her. They become allies and she ultimately kills the person who kills the little girl.  Katniss's fellow District 12 tribute, Peeta, is injured pretty badly in the story and we find out later it's because he was protecting Katniss because he loves her. In the midst of the games, the government decides that it would be exciting to see Katniss and Peeta pair up, so they announce a change in the rules that will allow for two tributes from the same district to win. Katniss locates Peeta in the woods and they remain together, doctoring each others' wounds and working together for the remainder of the games, ultimately winning together. (But not without a last minute twist in the story that I'll let you find yourself if you choose to read it.)

There were brief moments in the story while Katniss was participating in the actual games that made me feel connected to her again.  When she talked of survival techniques and trapping food, hiding herself in the trees.  When she nurtured her young friend as she died, when she cared for her District 12 partner's wounds... all that made sense to me.  I have a family of hunters.  We all enjoy watching survival shows on television.  I'm fond of quite a few close friends who are doctors or nurses, and Katniss's care for Rue and Peeta's health felt maternal to me.  Those things make sense and seem real to me.

But when she got a magical silver parachute delivered to a treetop where she was hiding and it held magical burn cream that transformed her horribly burned hands to baby-pink-new skin by morning, it was a big eye-roller for me.  It's like I'd reach a point where I was almost drawn back into enjoying the story and then BAM, another completely outlandish and goofy thing would happen to make me feel like I was reading a Looney Tunes comic book.  I sort of expected an anvil to drop from the sky and hit her, followed by a silver parachute bearing some magic potion that would make her pop back up & keep running.  Ha ha!

While most people would never be bugged by these little details, these are the kinds of things that turn me off to this genre of story.  It feels corny to me. I mean really.... the day I allow my child to leave & go participate in a "fight to the death" game to entertain my horrific government is the day you'll see me shot in the head for grabbing them & running.  They might still be forced into the arena to participate but it would literally be over my dead body.  Everything about the story line of the Hunger Games feels so insane to me that I couldn't really focus because I was seeing a steady stream of holes in the craziness of the plot.  When a story's concept is so far-fetched from the first page on, I have a hard time enjoying it and not looking at every detail through cynical, critical glasses.

Don't get me wrong.  There were certainly parts of the story that even an realist like me enjoyed. I didn't hate the book.  The story just felt well... fiction.... to me.  And that's not necessarily a bad thing if that's what you're looking for.

So can you see my confusion & alternating feelings about the book?  ha ha!

As far as my recommendation (or not?) of the book:  If you like this genre of book, I think you'll enjoy it.  So grab a copy & get to reading!  But for the cynics & realists like me, let's meet in the Biography section of Barnes and Noble.  I'll point you toward some of my very favorite ever books!

Friday, December 4, 2015

Mid-life crisis, anyone?

People who know me are still giggling.  I shocked their socks off a few weeks ago when I posted a picture on Facebook of my new tattoo.  Most of them would never peg me as being the owner of inked skin.  I guess I just don't look the type.  But on November 14, a few days after my 40th birthday, I jumped into my "over the hill" years with my first (and likely only, ever) tattoo.

If you've never had a tattoo done and you're curious about the process, or if you're interested in possibly having one, this post is for you. I wanted to journal the entire tattoo experience, so come along and join me!

About 3 or 4 years ago, I started thinking about getting a tattoo.  I mentioned it on Facebook and all those same people who were shocked I did it all laughed.  They swore that I'd never go through with it.  My mom crossed her fingers that I'd change my mind, I think.  But once the hoopla died down, they started showering me with info and advice.

I can't remember exactly where the desire started or what the impetus was, but once I got the tattoo itch, there was no turning back.  I started thinking about what sort of design I'd want and where I'd put it on my body.  I wanted somewhere that a) didn't hurt TOO much and b) would be a spot that would be covered by clothing 95% of the time, so that I could hide it at work or when I am around someone who might not be entirely comfortable with tattoos.  BUT I also wanted it in a place where I COULD show someone the tattoo if I wanted to -- without having to take off clothes or reveal too much skin.  AND, if I was going to do it, I wanted it to be meaningful and special -- not just some random image chosen from a wall of designs at some random hole in the wall tattoo shop.  That's a hefty burden for one little tattoo.  So for the next several years, I put it off, saying that I'd get the tattoo for my 40th birthday.

I created a Pinterest board of possible tattoo ideas.  I looked at tattoo pain charts.  (and wondered WHY anyone would put one THERE!!)  I researched local tattoo shops.  I talked to people who had tattoos and looked at a million tattoo pictures online searching for inspiration.  It didn't take long for me to narrow down my search of designs to these three.  I knew I wanted this basic design, but with "Larry" in place of "Love".

I loved the idea of the heart made with the curvy, swirly cursive L.  I loved that it was still girlie and dainty looking.  And I liked the idea of paying tribute to my 20+ year marriage by putting Larry's name in the heart.  The last picture (above) ended up being my final choice inspiration picture.

Earlier this year, it dawned on me that THIS was the year I'd turn 40.  That meant I had to get serious about this if it was really going to happen.  I located an email address for the particular shop I planned to use and emailed a pic of the design to them, asking how pricey it would be, how long it would take to do the tattoo, etc.  I sat on that information for about six months.  In early October I mentioned the tattoo to Larry (for the millionth time) and he surprised me by saying he wanted to get a tattoo as well.  I think my reaction was "What??????????"  Until that time, he had never seemed overly interested in having one himself, so it was a surprise!  Plus, he is not a big fan of pain.  At all.  So I wondered how  he'd handle things.  We decided we'd do it together!  As the day drew near, it got a little scary & nerve-wracking that this was really happening.  But I was also very excited!

Saturday, November 14 was the big day.  When we arrived at the tattoo shop, Larry and I were pleasantly surprised by how clean and nice the building was.  It looked more like a doctor's office in the waiting area.  When we moved back into the actual tattoo rooms, they were still very sterile looking, but they took on a more edgy look with their decor.  My tattoo artist, John, was into pirates and renaissance fairs, so his room was decorated with things of that nature.  This is his room, below.  Still very clean and tidy, but a little more like what you'd expect from a tattoo shop.  But even so, both of our artists were very clean, normal-looking guys.  There were no creepy biker gang types hanging around and both of our artists were ex-military guys!  Sam had come with us, so he loved getting to talk to them and hearing about their time in the service.  (He wants to go into the Army when he graduates from high school.)  It felt safe and comfortable and the guys were men who didn't leave us cringing when they spoke to our son.

John, my tattoo guy, was very attentive, super nice and made the experience ALL ABOUT ME.  He took the picture I gave him and created an outline that I got to look at before he ever set up the chair I'd sit in.  He drew it on the lighted desk you can see on the right in the picture above, made sure I approved it, shrunk it down to size on a copier, then ran it through a machine that printed it out on transfer paper.  That paper was then applied to my cleaned, shaven, bare skin where the tattoo would be done and I had one last chance to confirm it was in the right place, turned the right way, looked like I wanted....or back out if I was going to!  LOL!  Then it was time to get started!

John set up the chair in the right position, put sterile paper on the part where I'd sit and lean my head back.  The part where my foot/lower leg would be touching got covered in plastic (several layers of it) and then a sterile paper drape covered where my foot actually touched.  He also wrapped my foot in sterile paper too so that really only the area I was having done was showing.

He showed me each piece of equipment and each bottle of ink/cleanser/etc as he opened it -- to prove it was brand new, still sealed, clean and sterile.  I was impressed with how much time he spent making sure I knew I was safe.  (I never questioned that but it was nice to know it was all "safe" after reading horror stories on the internet.)  As he began the tattoo, he explained each step, described what he was doing and made me very comfortable.  Well, you know, as comfortable as you can be when someone you don't know is piercing you with needles --- over and over!

When he began the tattoo, I took a picture, then handed Sam my phone to snap pictures of what he was seeing.  This was my view as he worked.

And Sam's view:

To the right of where Sam was sitting, you could see into the room where Larry was having his tattoo done:

He went back and forth between the two rooms snapping pictures and recording videos for us to each see how the other was doing.

Here, you can see my outline getting done.

And Larry's.

As my tattoo progressed:

Almost done!

And as Larry's progressed:

His final product:
And mine, after we got home that night:

The next few days, it oozed plasma, a little blood and some ink.  According to the tattoo artists & all the internet, that is totally normal.  We put A&D ointment on it for the first 3 days.  (as prescribed by the artists)

We were told to switch to a product called Tat Wax after those first few days, which I promptly broke out from use of.  The internet (and my tattoo artist) said it was likely due to using too much of the product, but I used it exactly as they suggested & as the product's container said.  So I really felt like I was allergic to it.  Of course, I also have pretty sensitive skin, so I think the combination of the skin irritation in general (from getting a tattoo) and then the use of products my skin is not accustomed to just threw it into a tailspin.  And I got THIS.

These little red bumps popped up a couple per day.  They itched & bugged me.  They made the whole area sensitive and tender.  One evening the whole tattoo area was inflamed and red, like it was the night I got it done.  That scared me a little, but it was short-lived and went away on its own.  But the bumps remained.  After a couple days, I went to our school nurse and asked her if I should be concerned about a staph infection or some other sort of tattoo-related horror story that would mean I should go to the doctor for heavy duty antibiotics.  She said she believed it was just skin irritation & allergic reactions to the products I was using.  She suggested I put Hydrocortisone cream on the bumps themselves (not ON the tattoo) to dry them up.  I did that and began taking Benadryl at night as well.  (And a non-drowsy antihistamine during the day.)  I quit using the Tat Wax altogether to see if it would help get rid of the bumps and began alternating between Vitamin E oil and coconut oil instead.

And now, about 2 weeks after the rash began, it's just about all dried up and my healing tattoo is getting back on track with what everyone else experiences in the first week or two after the tattoo is done.

It's peeling like crazy and looks pretty kind of scaly.  According to the 673 pictures I've found online of healing tattoos, it's pretty standard.  But now I have to get the skin better moisturized so that it can finish healing.  This is what it looked like tonight, just before I began typing this post.  Don't laugh at the stubble.  I can't shave on the tattoo for 8 weeks, so the closely surrounding area & on the tattoo itself are beginning to look a little Big Foot-ish.

Now that I am just about 3 weeks post-tattoo, my feelings about the whole experience are as follows.

1.  I would do it all over again.  (Although at least for now, I don't have any particular plans to get a 2nd tattoo.  But then again, 10 years ago I didn't plan to get this one, so you never know!)
2.  I love my tattoo. I love what it stands for.  I love that it is a physical, visual reminder of my permanent, forever commitment to my husband.
3.  Did I mention that I would do it all over again?  Seriously, it's been a great experience.  Even with the skin irritation!

If you think you might want a tattoo, do your research, spend some time figuring out what you want/where you want to put it.  Find a reputable place to get it done and perhaps even visit the shop to check out the environment and artists.  If you feel creeped out, find a different place to go.  These days, there are plenty of them.

To young people considering a tattoo, my advice is to wait until you're married.  And preferably over 30.  By then you will have a decent head on your shoulders (I hope) and you can make a reasonable decision.  You're less likely to get a funny Gummi Bear tattoo on your butt or a rose growing out of a skull on your forehead.  And since your body becomes 'shared property' with your spouse, make sure it's something they are comfortable with as well.  After all, they'll be the one walking next to you on the street if someone stops to stare at your super cool inked arm. While it is certainly more commonplace these days, there is still plenty of judgement and uncomfortable feelings by many where tattoos are concerned.  So if your having a tattoo makes them uncomfortable, you need to deal with that prior to sitting down in a tattoo artist's chair.

If you have any questions about the tattoo experience, feel free to email me!  (See the top right of this page where my email address is posted.)

In a few weeks when the tattoo is completely done healing, I'll post an updated picture below.

UPDATE:  Someone pointed out to me that I didn't cover the ever popular question "Does it hurt to get a tattoo?" so here goes.

YES it hurts.  But everyone's pain tolerance is different.  What feels excruciating to me might just be a minor irritation to someone else, and some parts of the body are more painful than others.  So here's what I have told everyone and the way Larry has described his experience.

When the tattoo first began, I recognized that it was an strange sort of feeling.  Not particularly HORRIBLE but sort of like " would be nice if you'd stop that."  It felt sort of like a scratch--but a thorn or a cat scratch.  Not the worst thing ever, but tolerable.  Definitely something I could put up with if I knew it wouldn't last forever.  But occasionally he'd hit a spot about an inch or so long that really HURT.  Like a "Why are you using a hot scalpel & cutting into my leg?" sort of hurt. But then just as soon as I felt that way & tensed up, it would be over.  Larry's artist explained that there are little bundles of nerves here and there and when you hit those, it's like every pain sensor in the body goes off & it just hurts.  But most of the tattoo was not like that.  I noticed I had more of those sorts of spots on one side of the tattoo.  My artist said "Most people say that one side has more of a bite to it than the other."  Also, on my tattoo, when the artist went from doing the outline to filling in the solid black parts, it hurt less.  I'm not sure if my leg just sort of went numb because the needle is truly piercing over and over, 1 millimeter at a time or if it was just an entirely different sensation and that didn't hurt as much to me.  Whatever the case, Larry and I had a similar response to the pain level on both of our tattoos.  However, Larry's took much longer to do than mine.

And that leads to a 2nd question that people have asked me a lot, so I'll answer that here as well.

How long does it take?
WELL.... my tattoo is about the size of the palm of my hand.  So maybe 3"x3".  From the moment I walked into the front doors of the shop until I stood up out of the chair and was completely done was approximately an hour and ten minutes.  I think.  Some of that was signing papers, paying, getting the tattoo drawn on the light board, making sure it looked right, setting up the chair & equipment, talking.... so really it was only about 40 minutes of actual needle work.  Larry's tattoo,  however, is quite a bit larger and has a lot of filled in black space, so his took quite a bit longer to do.  I'd say his is about 5"x4".  Perhaps slightly larger.  He was in the chair being worked on for nearly three and a half hours.

So, keep your pain level and size of the tattoo in mind when you plan yours!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

A whole new world

Alright.  So this post is not about a Disney movie, but the song certainly fits.

After years of recognizing that he has hearing issues, Larry finally admitted to his doctor at his last check up that he thought maybe he needed a hearing test.  As a little boy, he had lots of ear infections and there was some damage done to his hearing.  Over the years, it's been clear that he has some problems, but he's accommodated for it by turning his head to the "good side" or positioning himself on the right side of persons he's talking to.  But it's gotten gradually worse in the last few years.  In his job, he spends about 80% of his days interviewing people, talking on the phone, needing to hear he knew it was time to look into it.

Yesterday, he went to the ENT who did Sam's ear surgeries when he was little and had a hearing test.  We teased that he'd go into the same little pediatric hearing test booth & get to watch the robotic monkey that squeals & claps its cymbals together when you prove that you've heard a sound for the audiologist.  I think his test was a little more mature in nature, but wouldn't it be fun if they did that for adults, too?

When he left the appointment, he called me and stated that the doctor said he needs hearing aids.  Plural.  Both ears.  Today I went with him for the appointment where they fitted him for the aids.  (Can I just call them aids?  Is that politically correct?  I guess it's my husband so I can call them whatever I want!  It's a lot to type out if I have to write "hearing aids" every time.  Perhaps I'll just call them HA.  Or not.  It might look like I'm making light of things if I say he's getting his HAs.)

When we arrived today, we were seated near 3 other couples.  All of them were in their 70s.  The receptionist who was calling to make appointments (likely for other 70 year olds) was having to speak REALLY loudly into the phone and we had fun giggling about that.  It's kind of a scary when you have to deal with something serious like hearing loss, but our warped senses of humor helped us.

The first office we went to was a man who was sort of an educator about the different types of aids.  He explained how the cheaper end ones are mostly for "hermits"---people who are at home the vast majority of the time, have little social interaction, really only need to be able to hear the TV or maybe an occasional phone call.  They also work well for people with a very mild hearing loss.  Larry's hearing loss and lifestyle, however, don't fit that category.  His loss is in the moderate to severe level in his left ear & moderate in his right.  The educator explained a lot of things about hearing loss that I never knew.  Did you know the brain eventually quits trying to hear certain sounds/pitches if you have a loss that goes untreated for years?  So even if you get hearing aids at that point, you'll never be able to hear those pitches/tones.  There was a lot of interesting info!  Oh, and he mentioned the cost, too.  Ouch.

Then we moved into the next room where he was actually fitted for his aids.  It was fun to watch him try on the aids for the first time.  The audiologist was talking and his eyes got big and he smiled, saying how surprising it was to hear everyone so clearly.  He said it was 100% different right away.  He was shocked that things sounded so much better immediately.  When she took them out to adjust something he said "Give it back!!"  ha ha!  He said once they were out, he felt like he went from hearing clearly to having cotton balls shoved in both ears.

While we were talking to the audiologist, his cell phone vibrated beside him.  He jumped & grabbed his phone and said that he'd never heard it vibrate before.  He had felt it when he was holding it, but he never heard the buzzing sound before.  He stared at his phone for a minute, shocked at the fact that he'd never heard that.  I got choked up seeing how surprised he was.  I sometimes use the vibration only as my alarm clock with my phone.  Just the buzzing sound is enough to wake me up!  It blew my mind that he's never heard that sound at all!

It's so cool to see how much these hearing aids will open up a whole new world for Larry.  I'm proud of him for facing this and dealing with it.  I've teased him for years about being deaf....and now I have proof that he almost is!  He will pick up his hearing aids Friday.  He is really excited about it, so am I!