Friday, November 30, 2012

Good Samaritan

Most of the stories you hear on the news these days are pretty depressing, so it was nice to hear this heartwarming story yesterday. A few weeks ago 25-year-old police officer Larry DePrimo was on patrol in Times Square when he came across a homeless man who was barefoot. It was a frigid night and DePrimo asked the man if he wanted he wanted a pair of socks. The man said, "No, but God bless you for asking." DePrimo then went to a nearby Sketcher's store and bought the man a pair of socks and some all-terrain boots. (These weren't cheap boots, either. They cost $100, but when the store owner heard about the situation he gave DePrimo the employee discount, taking the price of the boots down to $75.) DePrimo then went back to the homeless man (who said he'd never owned a pair of shoes before), knelt down and helped the man put the boots on his cold, blistered feet. 


A tourist standing nearby snapped this picture of the act on her cell phone and posted it on the NYPD's Facebook page. The picture went viral and has received hundreds of thousands of likes, shares and comments. 
Check out Larry DePrimo. Kind AND good-looking!
This positive story uplifted me and it's a good reminder to give back and do what Jesus would do. "… Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." - Matthew 25:40

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Brother Bret

The night before Thanksgiving I got an e-mail from one of my dearest friends, Bret, saying that he and his wife were going to be spending Thanksgiving in Branson, Missouri, and he asked if he could come visit the day after Thanksgiving. I replied immediately with an enthusiastic, "Yes!" Bret moved to Cheyenne, Wyoming several years ago after he got married and although Branson is none too close to the town where I live, it's a lot closer than Cheyenne! So on Friday Bret made the drive to visit my mom, Chandra and me while his wife went shopping with her mom and sisters. Branson is a good four hours away, so I'd say that Bret's eight hour round trip said "love" (especially since he could only visit for two hours).

It was wonderful to catch up with Bret. He's one of the best people I know. He's so kind, respectful and sweet and the sort of person that would doyou just about anything for anyone. I grew up with six sisters and have always wondered what it would be like to have a brother. After I met Bret I decided that IF I'd been blessed with a brother, I would've wanted him to be like Bret. (Hence his nickname – "Brother Bret.")

I always like to take pictures to document life and I knew it would be tough to get a serious shot with Bret in the picture! These first two pictures are classic Bret, but we were able to get some good pics, too. Love this guy!

Paul Jo

In my last two posts I've written about my Uncle Paul, or Paul Jo as we refer to him to distinguish him from my mom's friend with the same first and last name. It sure was great having Paul visit. He's one of the funniest people I know, and he says and does the craziest things that always have me laughing. I'm always impressed with how smart he is, too. He seems to know a little bit about everything! Sometimes it's hard to keep up when having a conversation with Paul since he shifts topics so quickly, but I do my best to keep up! Paul speaks in letters and/or numbers as much as he does in words since he's always using acronyms or abbreviating words. I guess you'd have to meet him to actually know just what I mean, but he's really a hoot!
One of the things we did while Paul was here was set up/decorate my Christmas tree. Last year I bought an artificial Christmas tree a few days before Christmas since it was on clearance for 50% off. When I was a kid we always went to a tree lot and cut down a real tree the day after Thanksgiving, but now that my dad is gone and it's just my mom, Chandra and me at home we stopped doing the real Christmas tree thing years ago. My mom has a 4 foot fiber-optic tree that she puts up, but that's just a little disappointing, in my opinion! Especially since my sister Sharon's family usually visits for Christmas and she has six kids. Little kids need a big tree to add to the magic of Christmas (or at least I  do… it's just more exciting that way!) 
Anyway, he did that the day after Thanksgiving, and then he and Chandra decorated the tree while I watched and directed the next afternoon after we got home from seeing Lincoln at the movie theater. I don't think the tree turned out too shabby! It looks the best with the lights off, but it's hard to capture that on camera.
The ornaments on my tree are probably 50% store-bought and 50% homemade which I think is a nice blend. My older sister Kristin made most of my homemade ornaments for me and she did a great job. (And the tree skirt she made for me a few months ago works perfectly!) 
I found a tutorial for these cute Christmas ornaments on Pinterest earlier this year that I thought looked adorable, so I bought the supplies and my mom made them for me, with the help of my sisters Chandra and Annette. If you want to find out how to make them click here.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

"Lincoln"

Last Saturday I went to the movies with my Uncle Paul (and Mom and Chandra) to see Lincoln. A few weeks ago when I heard that Paul was thinking of visiting for Thanksgiving I told him that seeing Lincoln together would be a must if he came since I thought it looked like a movie that would be up both our alleys.

I've always been a fan of Abraham Lincoln and my admiration of him and appreciation for all that he did for the United States grows the more I learn about him. This past spring I read the book Killing Lincoln and really enjoyed learning more about the assassination plot since it's a major part of US history. (A sad, unfortunate bit of history, but history nonetheless.) Then this past August I went to the Lincoln Museum in Springfield, Illinois, with my mom, sister Chandra and two of our friends. The museum is amazing and taught me even more about Lincoln than I previously knew. So after reading the book and visiting the museum I was really excited to see the movie.

I have to admit that my excitement didn't keep me from falling asleep during the movie several times! (As the Bible says, "the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.) ;) The movie was fantastic and I loved Daniel Day-Lewis as Lincoln and Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln. They both did a great job and I won't be surprised if either or both of them receive an Oscar nod for their portrayals.

I saw this on Facebook and I thought it was rather humorous in a dark way:

Monday, November 26, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012 Recap

Thanksgiving is usually a low-key, uneventful holiday around here now that most of my sisters are married. It's just my youngest sister Chandra at home with Mom and me since my other five sisters are all married. Four of them live out of state and the one that does live here usually spends the Thanksgiving holiday in Ohio with her in-laws. Although it would be fun to have a house full of company, my mom, Chandra and I always manage to have a fun time together, along with whatever friends we invite over. 

This year my Uncle Paul from Atlanta decided to visit for Thanksgiving, and we also invited my wheelchair technician, Larry, to have Thanksgiving dinner with us. (Larry and I go way back… he's the same man who has worked on my wheelchair and other specialty equipment ever since my injury nine years ago. He's divorced and doesn't always have his kids on holidays, so we like to have him over since he's such a nice guy.)  

Even though we had a small gathering and things were uneventful, it was a wonderful Thanksgiving. (I couldn't believe it when I looked at the clock and more than an hour and a half had passed since we'd sat down to the dinner table!) All of our food tasted so good, and I think it was the best tasting Thanksgiving dinner I ever remember having. Unfortunately, I didn't get a picture of our food or of us gathered around the dinner table, but I did manage to get a picture of the "important" stuff… the desserts!  

My mom made a traditional pumpkin pie for Paul since that's his favorite Thanksgiving pie. I don't really care for pumpkin pie and I can't even remember the last time I've eaten pumpkin pie! However, Mom and I decided to join Paul in a pre-Thanksgiving piece of pumpkin pie on Wednesday evening. (That's why there's a huge chunk missing from one of the pies in the picture!) It wasn't bad, but if I never had pumpkin pie again I wouldn't feel like I was missing out on anything!  
My mom also made a pumpkin chocolate chip cookie pie and Larry made a pineapple upside down cake. I don't remember ever tasting pineapple upside down cake before (although I do remember my mom making it once or twice when I was young). I was a little skeptical about the cake since I wasn't sure what to expect, but it was actually really good. My favorite dessert we had was something new I recently found a recipe for on Pinterest… chocolate peanut butter chess pie! It was OUTSTANDING and I highly recommend it, so click here for the recipe. (For those of you who don't know what chess pie is, it's a pie that has a consistency similar to custard. There are MANY types of chess pie, including lemon, vanilla, buttermilk and chocolate.)   
After dinner we played the game "iMAgiNiff…". (This is one of my favorite games and one that I highly recommend, in case you're looking for a fun party game for the holidays… or any other time).  

I'll write more about my Thanksgiving weekend soon. It's quite late and I have a doctor's appointment with my cardiologist early tomorrow morning, so I better get to bed.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

"The Other Wes Moore"

My mom and I finished reading a good book together a few days ago, so I wanted to write about it on my blog. It's called The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore. Here's a synopsis of the book:

"One Name, Two Fates: Two kids with the same name living in the same decaying city. One grew up to be a Rhodes Scholar, a decorated combat veteran, White House Fellow and business leader. The other is serving a life sentence in prison for felony murder. Here is the story of two boys and the journey of a generation." 

This book was very fascinating and definitely one that I would recommend to someone that enjoys interesting true stories.

Sidney Poitier

I love, love, love movies and earlier this year I started watching old classics in order to educate myself and get some exposure to some of the iconic films that you hear so much about. My mom isn't a huge fan of movies, but she does like some of the oldies, so we like to watch them while we eat dinner.

We've recently been on a Sidney Poitier kick. I didn't really know very much about Sidney Poitier prior to this, just that he was the first black man to win an Academy Award for a leading role. I'm so glad that I've decided to check out some of the movies he's starred in because I absolutely love him! He's extremely talented and is always so kind and gentle in the roles he plays. Here's a recap of the movies we've watched:
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967): In this film a young woman brings her African-American fiancĂ© home to meet her parents. They have no idea she's even in a relationship OR that she's engaged, let alone to a black man! 
In the Heat of the Night (1967): This film is set in Mississippi and a white man has been murdered in the middle of the night. Sidney's character (who's in town visiting his mother) is found in the town's train station and is questioned in relation to the crime. Sidney actually happens to be a police detective in Philadelphia and he helps the redneck sheriff solve the crime.

A Patch of Blue (1965): In this film Sidney plays a hard-working man who befriends a blind young woman who's had a hard life. Sidney is kind to her and opens up a whole new world for her. They soon fall in love, but the blind young woman doesn't know the man she's been spending so much time with is black until her mother finds out about the relationship and tells her. Her mother is very bigoted and forbids her to see him again. 
To Sir, with Love (1966): In this film Sidney plays a teacher in a working class high school in London. His rowdy bunch of students are often disrespectful, but he's eventually able to gain the upper hand and change the lives of his students.


Lilies of the Field (1963): Sidney plays an ex-soldier in this film who ends up at an isolated farm and soon finds himself building a chapel for the nuns who live there. Sidney won an Academy Award for his role in this film.
A Raisin in the Sun (1961): This film is about an inner-city black family and their struggle to make ends meet. The multi-generational family all live together in a cramped apartment and they face conflict over how to handle things when a $10,000 insurance check arrives in the mail. Sidney plays a chauffeur who wants to use the money to open a liquor store with his friends and is angry with his mother who ultimately decides to use the money to buy a house (which happens to be in an all-white neighborhood).
I've loved all of the SP movies I've watched, but my favorite has been A Patch of Blue (because I'm a sucker for love stories) closely followed by In the Heat of the Night. ("They call me Mr. Tibbs!")


The other day I told my mom that I think I'm in love with SP!  Of course, the SP movies I've been watching are all from the 60's, so I'm falling for the Sidney that's in his 30's! He's now 85, almost 60 years my senior, so I don't think it will work out! ;) Still, I'm a huge fan of his and I love his work! I'd love to be able to meet him, but I doubt it'll happen.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Celebrating My 9th

I usually have a get-together to celebrate the anniversary of my accident, or my "second birthday" as I refer to it, but this year I just didn't have the desire to do that, so I decided to go to the movies instead. It's been four months since I've been to the movies, which is an incredibly long movie hiatus for me since I usually see a few movies a month. Life has just been so crazy lately!

My younger sister Channie is my movie buddy and we really enjoy going to the movies together, so I thought seeing a double feature would be a perfect way to spend my special day. The first movie we saw was The Twilight Saga, Breaking Dawn Part 2. I'm kind of embarrassed to admit that I went to see this movie since I don't want people to think I'm one of "those girls" that go gaga over the Twilight movies, because I don't!. It's not that I'm so anti-Twilight that I refuse to watch them (I have seen all of the movies, after all), but I would've been perfectly content to wait to see the movie until it came out on DVD.
I mean, the movies are major eye-rollers in my humble opinion, so I didn't have very high expectations. But that being said, I have to admit that I absolutely loved the movie! My expectations were so low that it didn't take much to surpass them. Granted, there was a lot of cheesy, sci-fi violence with vampire's heads getting ripped off right and left, but I really liked the movie, especially the ending. Just the way the music was with how they gave a nod to everyone that's been in the series (even the characters that weren't in the last film). The auditorium was pretty packed, too, so it was fun to feed off of everyone else's excitement as they reacted to the movie.
I was definitely pleasantly surprised with the the movie, so I'm giving it 9/10 stars. Take this rating with a grain of salt, though. If it were a movie that I were seeing for the first time and didn't know anything about, I would probably only give it 6 stars. My rating system is subjective when you account for the book series, previous movies and my feelings/emotions tied to them. 
The other movie I saw was the new James Bond movie, Skyfall. I had a hard time staying awake in the beginning of the movie since I always stay up so late at night, so I kept dozing off. But after a while I got it together and perked up. The movie was very suspenseful and action-packed and I really liked it. It makes me want to go back and watch some of the previous Bond movies. I'm giving this movie 9/10 stars, too. Hopefully I won't experience "raters remorse" when I go back and watch these movies again when they come out on DVD. (Which is something that's not uncommon for me when I go back and watch movies a second time. Sometimes I really wonder why I liked them so well the first time around.)

Friday, November 16, 2012

Note to Self

Tomorrow is the ninth anniversary of my car accident. It's SO hard to believe that it's been nine years! The time has gone so quickly, but at the same time when I think back to life  "pre-accident" it seems like SO LONG ago and it's hard to remember what it was ever like to be "normal." It's mind-boggling that I've lived more than a third of my life paralyzed!

On the morning news program I watch they occasionally have a segment called "note to self" where they have people who are older people write notes to their younger selves, or they have people who have been through difficult things write notes to themselves as the person they were before facing adversity. It's always very interesting, so I thought I would write a note to myself before my accident.
Dear Heather,
Tomorrow you will be in a car accident; one that you will not walk away from. You will be changed in drastic ways for the worse and the better. Your accident will be the worst thing to happen to you physically, but the absolute best thing to happen to you in every other way.

Your accident will fill your life with many challenges and things will not be easy, especially at first. But eventually things will get easier and you will have a quality life that fulfills you. All of your hopes, dreams and priorities will change, but you will experience immeasurable joy. You'll face disappointments, especially when it comes to the deepest desires of your heart, but any discouragement you experience will be far outweighed by the joy you’ll feel each and every day.
You will not be alone. The Lord loves you and knows of your situation and will walk beside you throughout your journey. Your faith, appreciation and love for the Lord will grow immensely as you learn to lean on Him and as you rely on His comfort to get you through difficult times. Becoming paralyzed is part of the Lord's plan for you and was no accident. You have an earthly mission to help others experience lives of joy. Becoming paralyzed is the only way for you to accomplish this to the magnitude that the Lord is intending. The Lord has confidence in you!

You've always known that there’s life after death and that one day everyone will be resurrected, but heaven and the resurrection will take on a whole new meaning after your accident. Earthly life may seem long as you experience the frustrations of daily life, but life will pass faster than you can comprehend. If you live well and make good choices you will have an eternity of joy! 

Just remember to "keep your eye on the prize." In the end you will be free and you will experience all of the things that you've always hoped and dreamed of, including all of the things your accident deprived you of. Stay joyful!

~ Your future self
I love this quote from Thomas S Monson: "…our promised blessings are beyond measure. Though the storm clouds may gather, though the rains may pour down upon us, our knowledge of the gospel and our love of our Heavenly Father and of our Savior will comfort and sustain us and bring joy to our hearts. … There will be nothing in this world that can defeat us. … Be of good cheer. The future is as bright as your faith." 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Random Thoughts…

Last Tuesday a 20-year-old woman who is from the same Kenyan district as Barack Obama's father gave birth to twins and she named them Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. She said that naming her two sons after the American presidential candidates would help her "remember the historic U.S. elections for a long time, both the winner and the loser."
I found this interesting, and I hope this woman's twins get along better than their namesakes! It's too bad that both of the candidates have such unusual names! I also can't help but wonder if the name Barack is going to rise in popularity because of Pres. Obama? I guess only time will tell if this name becomes trendy, especially among African-Americans.

General David Petraeus, director of the CIA, resigned on Friday after it came to light that he's been having an affair. Another high profile person disgraced because of sexual misconduct! I don't know why people continue to do this, and I'm not sure why they don't learn from the mistakes of their forebears. Do they think that they won't get caught?! I don't know… maybe they just get comfortable sneaking around, but you'd think that they would know that there's a good chance that if they're playing with fire they're going to get burned!
But what I don't understand is why Petraeus had to resign over his affair when Bill Clinton did the same thing. Why didn't he have to resign? (And in my humble opinion what Clinton did was even worse since he was serving as president of the United States and was impeached!!  I don't get it and it definitely seems like a double standard if you ask me. Why won't people learn from the bad examples of those who have gone before them?! Just say no when it comes to affairs!

I don't really enjoy watching cartoons or most animated movies, but I have to admit that I do love the cartoon Phineas and Ferb. It's such a clever cartoon and one that appeals to kids and adults at the same time. Any P & F fans out there?
When my grandparents visited in October my grandpa bought an orchid for my mom and me when he went grocery shopping with my mom. At that time it had four blossoms on it, plus a bunch of buds. Now all of the buds have opened up and there are seven blossoms. A month later all of the original blossoms still look very fresh and are still going strong. They haven't even started to wilt!

The first two pictures are what the orchid looked like when Grandpa first brought it home from the grocery store. The rest of the pictures are what the orchid looked like this morning. (The blossoms are such a dark fuchsia/purple; the pictures really don't do the color justice.)
Do you remember learning about heritable traits in biology; things like hair and eye color, "hitchhiker's thumb," attached/detached earlobes, widow's peak, blood types, etc. Another heritable trait is if you're able to roll your tongue. Some people can, some people can't. I think most of my biological sisters can, but I can't. I know it's silly, but I've always been jealous of people who can. I just think it's weird to not be able to do something that others can do so easily. Some people can even do what's called "clover tongue" where they're able to make multiple rolls.
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