Knee Replacement Surgery: Letter to a Friend

Dear Natalie,

Missing time on the tennis court is depressing. Playing tennis keeps us healthy, active, social, and happy!

Longevity in the sport is the ultimate goal, right? [Having a Ball: The Joy of Senior Women’s Tennis, USTA, Alex Rappoport] I want that, in the video, to be you and me playing doubles at the age of 86!

How can we get there? Well, first, what are our problems? Knees, back, and weight. Ok, weight might not be for you, but it’s a primary concern for me.

Did you know that I started playing tennis as an adult in October of 2015 after having Gastric Bypass Weight Loss Surgery in July? A major goal Roller Weight Loss encourages is a consistent activity; without activity, the weight won’t come off and it won’t stay off. They taught me that it is about lifestyle changes, not a miracle. So, as a 6-year survivor of obesity, tennis has saved me physically.

As I became more active through tennis, I had to have my knees checked out. I thought dropping the weight would take away all my knee pain. Since I had torn them both up playing basketball in high school and college, gone through 2 ACL repairs, including a staple and a screw, having 3 arthroscopic surgeries, I had no cartilage left at all – I was playing singles tennis, bone-on-bone. I was concerned with my ACLs and injuries, but I was assured that my knees were stable. The pain increased, the acetaminophen increased, and the curve of my right knee increased. Most of my opponents would ask me how I could even walk, much less play tennis. [You’ve heard that before, right?]

Several tennis friends started to mention Knee Replacement Surgery – yikes, surgery! Who wants to do that? They all said they would do it again in a heartbeat, and the only thing they would change would be to do it 10 years earlier! Then there were friends in education who said the same thing. I talked to them all: Who was your doctor? How long were you out for? Did you have both knees replaced? What about insurance? What was therapy like?

Early in the fall of 2019 I called Dr. Hanby at Ozark Orthopaedics. I didn’t get an appointment until November, which depressed me because when I make a decision I want to do it NOW, just like Veruca Salt in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. However, after Dr. Hanby checked out the x-rays and had me walk up and down the hallway, he said that if 1,000 Orthopaedic surgeons looked at those x-rays, all 1,000 would say I should have knee replacement surgery on both knees. No doubt. This actually made me feel good – I wasn’t just being a weenie! More importantly for me, there was a solution, a fix.

The educational materials on what to expect told me everything I needed to know: the timeline for surgery and recuperation, physical therapy (1 visit before, 14 after, I think), what I needed to buy, from where, what was optional, etc. The availability of everyone from the people answering the phones to the nurses to the lady in charge of insurance questions, were all wonderful. I’m a self-advocate and you should be as well. It’s your body, your life, your health. Make sure you know what is going on, read all the materials and take notes. Go into the appointment with your questions, even if you think they might be silly. It will allay all your fears!

Natalie, you will feel so good about yourself and your knees if you will just take the plunge! It is so worth it – all the hard work and time spent! My knees are now good for 20 more years! I will follow the doctor’s orders and keep my yearly appointments so he can keep an eye on them and make sure my knees are still healthy.


  1. Washington Regional Medical Center. I trust them completely and they house Dr. Hanby’s Total Joint Center which is a well-oiled machine, but very patient, friendly, personal, knowledgeable, and cool staff! I highly recommend them if you have a choice and I would not go anywhere else, personally. From Joint Camp (in February – for the June surgery we were in COVID and everything was cut back), to billing, to check-in, to iOvera shots, to recovery, to Physical Therapy, day staff, middle-of-the-night staff, to food service. Everything felt like it was all about me because someone was always there to help me or answer questions when I needed them, no matter what.
    1. Note about COVID surgery: Dr. Hanby and his staff were still very helpful with all the educational materials, answering questions, offering the iOvera on surgery day, communication of expectations, etc. It was a very different experience, as you might imagine, but I still felt taken care of!
  2. Pain. Everyone (every single person), who had knee replacement surgery said the same thing about the pain: it was excruciating, but they would still do it again because of how great they feel now. BUT…I was offered an option called the “iOvera shot” which helps with the pain by deadening the nerves all around the knee for 3 months. It was NOT covered by my insurance, but I chose to have it anyhow. It was worth it! Truly. For both knees I did this and had almost no pain!
  3. Drugs. You do have a prescription for some heavy codone stuff. I’ve heard everything from “I never took one,” to “I had to get refills for a year.” I was somewhere in between with one refill needed, but it was mostly to get me through the night without leg twitches and discomfort more than pain. During the day I was fine. Everyone is different, just be careful since it’s an opioid.
  4. Time and Help. For 7-10 days you will need someone with you 24-7, especially if you have stairs in your house. They actually help you practice up and down stairs at the hospital before you’re allowed to leave. I had my right knee done first, so I couldn’t drive for 6 weeks, I think. For my left knee, I could drive as soon as I was not taking the pain meds.
  5. Accoutrements and Space. Walker, toilet chair, comfy chair where you can raise or lower your legs. My daughter and husband set me up with a side table to keep things to entertain me such as books, writing journal, drugs, earbuds, tv controllers, water bottle, etc. Don’t get too comfortable, though! It is extremely important to get up at least every hour or so to take a stroll around with your walker (at first), your cane, or just go to the bathroom. Movement is 100% encouraged from 2 hours after surgery and should be continued. When you fall asleep, someone should wake you up after 2 hours to get up and move a bit. Truly, the old-people toilet seat was a life saver!
  6. Dedication. This surgery is a choice, a choice to move without pain and be more active for the decades to come! It’s up to you to work hard through Physical Therapy, do what they tell you to do, do what Dr. Hanby tells you to do, ask questions when you have them – advocate for yourself, and then keep up the exercise when PT ends. Work has been my biggest challenge, especially this year with COVID teaching – I sit at a computer more than ever which is good for no human being on the planet. The challenges are greater than they were after the Gastric Bypass Surgery because of that – but aren’t we all in that same boat? Yes, at least for the time being, so we have to dedicate ourselves even more and garner the support of our friends and family!

For me, I need to walk daily as a low-impact way of keeping active. Random tennis matches, if I don’t stay fit in between, will be painful and I will run the risk of injury. I also need to keep up with some strengthening exercises like arm-raises with mini-weights, girly push-ups (sorry, that’s all I’ve been able to manage since college), step-ups, “Duck Walk” and “Bird Dog” exercises for my lower back (thank you, Dr. Eric Walker), and leg pulls with the stretchy band thing. My sister is sending me swim suits so I can start swimming laps – which will help with core strength – but will not be a tenth the fun of playing tennis with friends!

So, 6 years after Gastric Bypass and 1 year after Total Knee Replacement surgery (7 months after the left one), what do I need to do? I need to remember that staying healthy is a lifelong journey that should be fun, challenging, and always include tennis!

NOTE: I originally wrote this in the fall of 2020, but a lot of sitting still occurs and keeping up my active lifestyle really took a hit! I’m working harder than ever to get into an exercise routine. An update on my weight is that I’ve gained quite a bit since January of 2020 – COVID negatively impacted my work routine + knee surgeries and I’ve changed my eating routines and dedication quite a bit. I’m working on a reset! I’m really tired of everyone, myself included, blaming everything on COVID – we’re stronger than this! ¡Sí, se puede! Yes, I can! Yes, we can! Yes, Natalie, you can! I will help you! To end on a positive note, I have not been back to see Dr. Walker at Millennium Chiropractic since a few months after the second knee replacement – August of 2020! Now that my knees are straight, I no longer have back issues! I also got new orthotics with Dr. Bright and my bunions and heels are better!

I’m the 2nd from the left with leggings; look at that right knee curve! This was September 2019, 5 months before total knee replacement surgery.

Teacher Shortage

That is my prediction for the upcoming school year. I’ve already seen 5 posts for teacher positions, just in my area of World Languages. Many who are near retirement, who I thought would have taught forever, are leaving .. happily. Many who are young in the profession, less than 5 years, are moving on to do something else.

I’m personally leaning towards that first category as I near the close of my 28th year as a teacher. Or, at least in December I was 95% I would retire and do something else, almost anything else! The first semester of this year was horrendous in so many ways. I know, poor students, poor parents, poor administrators – sure, but I don’t have that perspective, so I won’t speak for anyone else.

What I do know is that this semester, with a strong feeling that deadlines and clear expectations that we stick to are healthy for students and teachers alike, I have felt at least close to being a teacher rather than a creator of content on Google Slides and Screencastify videos that no one but myself looked at or watched. When I say, “This assignment is due by X date and I expect X quality,” my students have risen to the occasion and manage – they know what to expect and do quality work. I have stuck to my word on deadlines and students have done assignments by those deadlines – they can and they will if you clearly communicate that expectation – and back it up. We have an “Amnesty Day” box where they can turn in 2 late assignments for 50% credit, like in many years past, and they understand that. Sometimes we don’t get everything done, but we have a little bit of relief.

What is unhealthy is, “You didn’t manage to get anything done for my class for a whole week, missed class on 1 of the 3 whole days you promised to attend, and didn’t communicate with me at all during that whole time? No problem, I’ll sit down with you, ignore the students who came to school 5 days and did all their work, and I’ll hold your hand for 3 more weeks while you get this one, simple assignment done while I think for you.”

Better yet, “You chose to self-quarantine for 2 weeks for no justifiable reason (no state competition, no family member at health risk, etc), complete zero assignments during this time, do not review the slides I’ve been required to prepare for students who choose not to come to school, do not communicate with me that entire time, and today, when you return, would like to know what you can do for my class.”

Thinking: What you can do for my class is either learn Spanish or drop, child! Thankfully, one mother had the brilliance to be angry with all her child’s teachers for NOT holding him accountable – she doesn’t have a leg to stand on to discipline him if he is now allowed to do EVERYTHING he did not do during his self-imposed 2-week vacation.

That was an eye-opener because I know that we teachers felt like we HAD to give these poor traumatized children a billion opportunities to wake up, get up, get dressed, and do almost nothing. How is that healthy for anyone? I felt so supported and … normal by that parent’s perspective!

We talk about post-pandemic strategies and all. Well, normalcy is a GREAT relief, right? No masks, hanging out with friends, expectations, … homework for hours, being overwhelmed with college applications, mock exams all weekend, juggling work and school, juggling work, athletics, family, and school, juggling…well, juggling is normal, right? Welcome back to real life.

Another thing I’ll be glad to say goodbye to is allowing students to NOT come to school so that they can take on the role of their parents: babysitting siblings, cousins, neighbors, or being a major wage-earner for the household. I don’t argue that many families need some extra income to make ends meet. My 16-year-old student, however, should NOT have to choose between coming to school and going to work – their education is precisely what will keep them out of that SAME cycle of poverty they are in right now with their family. They have opportunities and a positive future and need to be supported and pushed to pursue their own dreams and possibilities! I’m not certain many businesses in my community have been supportive of education during this time. Hello, Northwest Arkansas: Your employees who are 18 and younger and in school should be expected to participate in all academic, athletic, and social activities and CERTAINLY not have to choose work over education on a weekday! School first – not work.

The news that my district will NOT offer the Blended option for next year was the best news I’ve had professionally since over a year ago! I’m now about 40/60 on returning to school next year! I assure you, that is not wishy-washy, that is a 55% swing in emotions, feeling, passion. Coming back to school after Spring Break, I feel so much freer and have felt so much joy interacting with my students and feeling like a TEACHER again! Personal, human interaction is so life-affirming! I love my students and they learn so well with expectations and deadlines.

I hope administrators and especially, ESPECIALLY legislators, [who traditionally know NOTHING about education as an institution, other than the fact that they possibly attended some schools along the way to their position to show up with the craziest ideas for bills ever – ok, maybe that’s just Arkansas? … ok, not you, Megan Godfrey], will truly consider the situation as we end this year.

What are districts, states, and the national government doing to support educators at every level? To make things easier while maintaining reasonable accountability?

How are you feeling about the 2021-2022 school year? Will we have a teacher shortage or will we all return to school?

Why Should I Write Every Day?

Dreaming about being a writer is so pleasurable. I’m an outstanding dreamer! But maybe I mean … being an author? Like, “I wish I could play the piano,” by just waking up one day without effort or the frustration of practice and can play.

I seem to be more of an idea factory with writing, than a producer of content. Much like my students, I imagine I can just sit down and out it will pour, fully formed and lovely. I know this to be wrong because I tell them so, have witnessed it, and … I’m always right … right? I’m the authority figure.

Beginning in February I have been taking an online copy writing class through AWAI which satisfies the practical side of me: assignments, feedback, lessons, and reading assignments. I have learned a great deal. For example, this is a sales marketing field which in general I do not enjoy, but there are numerous stages, styles, and mediums across the spectrum and some actually do interest me or appear more attractive than others.

The best leaders of this webinar series (Pam Foster is probably my favorite so far), also remind us that we should work for clients we agree with, or have common beliefs, or at least believe in the product or service we/they are promoting. For a few weeks this seemed hollow advice to me because most of our assignments and lesson examples were for financial markets, random health pills, or other “gimmicks,” in my opinion, and I couldn’t see past that. Not interested.

However, we started our “5-Part Campaign” project and one product option was basketball-related. I really got into the idea of trying to convince my husband to buy this fictional product through my copy! We’re supposed to write with ONE person or prospect in mind and he was perfect. Interesting, challenging, and not fake desire on my part. I feel like I know enough about basketball to come up with an angle, multiple ideas, stories, and headlines – a strategy! I get it.

Then, last Friday during the AWAI “2021 State of the Industry Virtual Summit,” a surprise guest got through to me personally. Seth Godin said, “Everyone should write a blog daily.” It doesn’t have to be perfect; it doesn’t even have to be good.

What? How can I share my imperfect creations?

Because, again, I tell my students to do the very same thing! The same advice has been popping up from various sources over the past decade: write every day. Even Whoopi Goldberg’s character in “Sister Act 2” says to Lauren Hill’s character, “If you wake up in the morning and you can’t think of anything but singing first, then you’re supposed to be a singer girl.”

Writing on a blog, knowing someone will possibly read what I write will make me take better care, be more empathetic, and get accustomed to writing more clearly. I act like I’m not afraid of anything and I normally believe myself, but writing where people can see … yikes! If I write every single day for a year, I will have some good, some bad, and I will find my niche for writing.

So, “Here I go again on my own…” I’m putting it out there hoping it is true: I will write and post something every day. It may be long. It may be short. It may not be quality (gasp!) or interesting. But I will do it and I will get better at writing … because my teacher said so.

“Progress is the ultimate motivator.” ~ [thanks, Kim!]

Consejos: una rutina diaria durante COVID

Cuando se aprende en casa durante COVID, o sea como Remote Learning, es importante tener una rutina para que tu cuerpo, mente y familia sepan que hacer; aún más que lo normal, ni importa la situación de tu aprendizaje. La rutina nos da algo para esperar en vez de sorpresas inesperadas cada día.

Primero, se debe despertarse a la misma hora todos los días, ni importa si asiste a la escuela en vivo o no. El cuerpo y el cerebro funcionan mejor cuando hay una rutina. Desayunar siempre es mejor para la salud y hay muchas opciones sin tener que gastar mucho tiempo o causar estrés. El cereal, los huevos revueltos o un batido de fruta con proteína sirven para estimular el cuerpo, proveer más energía y evitar el hambre hasta la hora de almorzar.

Cada día se debe estudiar a la misma hora con la meta de finalizar ciertas tareas antes de descansar. Si se requiere mucho tiempo en la computadora, se debe parar los estudios para estirar el cuerpo cada 30 minutos. ¡Tengan cuidado, estudiantes! No se olviden volver a estudiar pronto.

Se puede disfrutar de tiempo libre planeado mucho más que tiempo libre preocupado en las muchas tareas que no se ha hecho.

Si se encuentra con un problema en una clase que requiere la ayuda de la maestra, se debe comunicar con él/ella inmediatamente y enfocarse en otra tarea por el momento.

Los fines de semana mi rutina puede variar mucho. Normalmente, me despierto a las siete para tomar café, leer y escribir. De vez en cuando juego tenis a las ocho y no hay tiempo para descansar. Tomo mi café y leo después de jugar tenis esos días. Fuera de las mañanas, no tengo rutina. Planeo las lecciones para la escuela, marco papeles, miro películas, cocino más que durante la semana y posiblemente juego tenis, ando en bicicleta con mis hijos y limpio la casa raras veces. Nunca lavo la ropa porque mis esposo lo hace, gracias a Dios. También vemos muchos deportes como familia; cuál deporte depende de la estación: fútbol americano, tenis, golf, baloncesto, fútbol, hockey, béisbol. Raramente vemos voleibol o la pista porque no se presentan estos deportes.

Para estar listo para otra semana de lecciones y aprendizaje, es necesario dormir, estar activo y tener una vida social. El balance es clave al éxito en la vida y también requiere algo espiritual. Sé intencional, mis estudiantes y, como leí recientemente: “Haga algo que su futuro ser apreciará.”

Feliz Navidad 2020 y Próspero Año 2021

Mentioning the year 2020 immediately raises most people’s blood pressure or instant grief or negative thoughts. It has inspired unique creativity in the meme world, which definitely helps relieve stress. Normally optimistic folks who take on challenges for fun have either stopped trying new things or complain more than usual. Granted, between 9 months of COVID living, racial strife, ugly political leadership, and so many changes to the perceived normal, we’re all a little on edge and a little more quick to pout or quit. Personally, 2020 will forever hold several monumental happy memories for me.

The first two events are intertwined. First, it’s the year my daughter and I spent nearly 24/7 together from February to August. Emily came home from China for Christmas break and the day she was set to fly back, February 9th, every airline cancelled all flights overseas – she was home to stay! Since I had just had my right knee replacement surgery on February 4th (positive event number 2), and she was completely my right-hand girl, this was not sad news to me. I’ve always pushed my children to go, go, go explore the world, try new things, go places! Since she couldn’t go anywhere, I felt personally blessed to have her with me. She did more than the obvious: drove me to physical therapy twice a week, drove me to school and back home, brought me things when I was too tired to get up, made me get up when I was too tired to get up. She watched funny shows to cheer me up, made me join her YouTube drawing lessons, walked with me, talked with me, drew with me, wrote with me, read with me. Replacing my horribly worn-out right knee could not have been more positive, due to Dr. Hanby and Emily Rose.

Event number three was left total knee replacement. Again, Emily was there for me and we kept learning new things, dreaming about what we wanted to do, watching more Taskmaster, and recuperating. By the end of July I was slowly playing tennis again – just standing and hitting at first – but I played my first doubles match in early August and it was a phenomenal feeling to play tennis with no pain in my knees! After not playing for 6 months, almost every other part of my body ached, but it was such a good feeling!

Next, my granddaughter Piper Joy turned a year old on August 5th. Julius and Nicole made the trip north to celebrate with GP Rains, Mama Elena, and Ganny Haynes and it was simply wonderful to see her after 8 months of separation! Julius and Nicole were wonderful about sending pictures, taking time to FaceTime on the weekends, and sharing her growth and changes with us, but seeing that beautiful, funny personality in our home in Arkansas was priceless!

After school started (crazy, blended, insane, sometimes illogical system that it has become), and I got a bit of a feel for what my year was going to look like, Fred and I decided to have our Vow-Renewal Wedding as planned. Well, not exactly as planned, but at the Christian Life Cathedral Chapel on our 30th anniversary, and live-streamed with limited, socially-distanced seating! My best friend Kristen Novotny planned and took care of about 90% of every detail, with Fred’s help on decisions. This left Fred and me free to meet with Pastor Ron Harris for counseling, growth, and planning for our Covenant Marriage ceremony. We enjoyed taking care of what details we could before we left for Florida, like shopping for outfits and buying lovely “past, present, and future” rings! With the benefit of two “Remote Learning” days which were designated “recuperation days” for teachers, students, and everyone involved in school, we headed to Florida. While there we had the time and separation from daily life to focus on our vows, the details of the ceremony, and ourselves. We chose songs to play with a slideshow we put together, decided on songs for during the ceremony (thanks to Aunt Nancy and Uncle David), and then a playlist for after the ceremony. With Pastor Ron’s direction, we discussed our Core Values, and took care of our extensive list of questions for homework. While some friends and family were able to attend the ceremony on Sunday, October 25th, most watched from the safety of their homes, sharing sweet comments on the FB Live Stream. The day was so special for both Fred and me: our best friends from college repeated as our Best Man (Gred McCone), and Maid/Matron of Honor (Irene Larson Dacus), my best friend organized everything, our daughter selected and sang “Tightrope” from “The Greatest Showman,” both my parents walked me down the aisle, and our friends Jared and Tanya Park carried a picture of Fred’s parents down the aisle. We have video, pictures, and a lovely framed picture with signatures to constantly remind us of this special day and our re-dedication to each other. Kristen collaborated with Fred, my children, Irene, Nicole, and others to ensure everything was wonderful for us. Fred made sure the day happened – for me, for him, for us, for our children. I have the most beautiful 3-stone diamond ring smiling at me every day as a reminder of our past, present, and future together!

On another professional note, we still managed to have a large number of students in Springdale apply for and earn the Arkansas Seal of Biliteracy during the Pandemic – nothing will hold some people back! Young people are resilient. Don’t let them think this is completely negative – ¡Sí, se puede! Yes, you can! Making excuses has been a problem to deal with. Perspective: if everyone on the planet is dealing with masks & COVID, you are not unique and you can’t claim “adversity,” the meaningless sports claim. Not for everyday tasks that a person can definitely perform. Make excuses and underachieve all you want, but many people are completely overcoming every obstacle thrown at them – racism, COVID, extreme poverty, language barriers, lack of resources. With excuses, you will be left in the dust. [Note: I am very aware that many people who were already struggling with anxiety, stress, and other mental illnesses, or simply needed counseling to deal with life, were hit especially hard with the isolation and differences in a COVID life. This is NOT what I mean by “making excuses;” rather, I am talking about kids and parents who have no real excuse, but use them as a crutch.]

Finally, with the support of an excellent principal in the best school district in the region, surrounded by outstanding teachers and an especially team-oriented World Language department, and of course, my best friend Kristen Novotny, the fall semester was an interesting experience. I’m not a liar – there were definite moments, days, and even a few weeks of extreme frustration and mind-blowing, life-altering situations. However, we all felt “in it together” and sometimes together against the world. We were always supported to do not just what was right for the student, but what was best for me personally so that I could survive, continue, and not give up. So much support from so many sides made it all possible and even positive overall because, after 27.5 years, I learned a great deal.

Here we are, December 31, 2020. We celebrated Christmas with all our children, our sweet, perfect granddaughter, friends, and even with family thanks to FaceTime and Zoom. We watched Christmas movies, hung the lights, sang the carols, read the Advent Calendar posts, wrapped and opened gifts, and played with Piper. [My children are amazing aunts and uncles!] Heading into 2021, we have to face the reality that our COVID situation continues and we absolutely must be diligently safe for everyone’s sake, regardless of personal safety ideas or incorrect philosophies. A vaccination has arrived on the scene, but it’s so early in the process, we have to hold strong on mask-wearing, hand-washing (still can’t believe so many needed reminding to wash hands after going to the bathroom – gross – so please continue that for the rest of your life), and socially distancing regardless of supposedly-important shopping needs or desperate need for bars (is the need for strangers so important?).

We can do it, people! Remember that “freedom” does not mean that you can do whatever you want whenever you want wherever you want…because I have rights, too. We all do – so wear your masks, treat everyone (of every race, social status, religious belief, political belief), with respect and kindness, and continue to stay at home when you can. These aren’t “limitations” but rather “measures” to keep us safe while still doing, mostly, what we want or need to do. Family game nights, family pizza nights, and family movie nights are on the rise – keep up the traditions! If you don’t have a family to stay at home with, invite 2-3 people to be part of your bubble and go out of your way to plan weekly, fun activities either in person or through technology!

I wish you all a wonderful, positive, memorable 2021 – but hopefully memorable for different reasons!

#blacklivesmatter #2bilit2quit

Leer con los hijos: 5 beneficios [2017 dic]

Leer es la actividad más importante que hacemos con nuestros hijos que los impacta ampliamente. Mientras leemos, todas las lecciones de la vida se enseñan y por eso la discusión sobre otras actividades es irrelevante. Leer puede ser el empiezo y la manera obvia o sutil para abordar todos los demás temas. Sin duda, debemos hacer otras cosas con ellos, pero leer es un elemento que no se puede minimizar ni eludir.

#1 – Compañerismo. No importa si tienes un hijo único o varios, un niño o una niña, existe intimidad en compartir experiencias tras leer. Ahora tenemos experiencias, temas y fondos para discutir. Tenemos referencias, ejemplos y perspectivas comunes. Experimentamos con la fantasía y aprendemos a soñar y a tener esperanza.

#2 – Aumentar el vocabulario y desarrollar el alfabetismo. Para tener éxito en la escuela y el resto de la vida, no hay nada mejor que podemos hacer para afectar su éxito en la escuela. Ellos saben más, han visto más (aunque sea tras ilustraciones o fotos), y han tenido más contacto con más ideas, temas, perspectivas. La lectura afectará su nivel de lectura (sin duda), los estudios sociales, las matemáticas, las ciencias, las habilidades con computación, cursos de elección, y todo tipo de éxito en todas las áreas de la vida. Puede hasta influir en la espiritualidad y sistema de creencias porque aunque los iniciamos en su camino, tendrán la habilidad de leer autónomamente y crecer personalmente en este sistema de creencia cuando estén más grandes, si son capaces.

#3 – Desarrollo de los Padres. Sí, todo el mundo puede continuar aprendiendo, madurar y desarrollarse. No se termina en el grado 5, ni en el 10, y mucho menos al graduarse del colegio o la universidad. Continuaremos aprendiendo palabras, sobre culturas, de la gente, sobre materias hasta el día de nuestra muerte . Cuando leemos con nuestros hijos, su inocencia al hacer preguntas, sus perspectivas nos causan pensar profundamente y aprender a expresar de una manera cariñosa sus peticiones sinceras por dirección y entendimiento. No es suficiente decirles, “Simplemente es así.” Nos desafían.

#4 – La Conciencia. Cuando seleccionamos ficción y no ficción apropiada pero estimulante basada en los intereses de los hijos, aprenden más sobre el mundo a su alrededor: las culturas, la historia, maneras de expresarse, perspectivas, valores, creencias, celebraciones. ¿Por qué dijo eso o se portó la niña así? ¿Por qué esta familia celebra así? ¿Por qué celebramos o no celebramos nosotros algo? ¿Cómo es posible que los aviones vuelen? ¿Cómo funciona el aparato digestivo? ¿Por qué creen alguna gente en cosas diferentes? ¿Por qué trataron / tratan alguna gente a otra gente de esta manera? ¿Por qué tengo pecas?

#5 – Curiosidad, Interés. Aunque esto es similar a todo ya mencionado, es importante. Es una gran lección aprender que se puede leer lo que quiera, deja de leer algo que te aburre, etc. Cuando los hijos son más jóvenes es tan importante seguir con sus intereses, pero que hagamos las selecciones o mínimo guiarlos con firmeza para que los libros estén apropiados para el hijo. Tú eres la persona que debe conocer mejor a tu hijo, no son los maestros, los trabajadores de la guardería, ni los abuelos (al menos que tienes el papel doble de padre-abuelo), ni hasta los amigos. Leer te deja conocer profundamente al hijo. Compartir tus intereses y preferencias, sí, sirve, pero leer con los hijos tiene que ver con cultivar SUS intereses y preferencias.

Leer, discutir, reírse, disfrutar. El tiempo con nuestros hijos es precioso y una responsabilidad grave, pero debe ser divertido en vez de un trabajo pesado. Es nuestro trabajo alegre. Quién sabe, posiblemente ellos te conocerán de ti en el proceso también. ¡Anímate!

Why should you maintain your Heritage Language with your children.

Razones para mantener su idioma natal con sus hijos.

Green Book: Reflexiones

Mi esposo y yo acabamos de ver la película Green Book y nos indució una discusión en el coche al salir. La película se trata de un famoso pianista negro, Dr. Don Shirley, que vive en Nueva York, 1962. Él quiere hacer un tour por el sur y necesita un chofer que también sirva como guardaespaldas. Entra Tony The Lip famoso por ser guardaespalda en un club neoyorquino. Es italiano en todos los aspectos, especialmente su familia. La película nos muestra su viaje y los cambios de los dos hombres con el paso del tiempo

Cuando era niña, vivía en un pueblo que se llamaba Mountain Home. No había problemas entre las razas porque toda la gente era blanca. Aunque mis abuelos paternos eran racistas, sólo podían demostrarlo al ver la televisión. Yo no pensaba en los problemas que sufría mi país en los 60.

A los quince años, en 1982, mi familia se mudó a Amarillo, Texas. Yo jugaba baloncesto y como parte del Booster Club, mis papás y yo salimos un sábado para marcar los jardines de las casas de mis compañeras de equipo con una gigante letra “T” de madera, pintada con los colores de Tascosa High School. Al cruzar Amarillo Boulevard hacia el norte, llegamos a los barrios de la comunidad negra. Amarillo era muy dividido. Había cuatro preparatorias con sus vecindarios categorizados por razas y dinero.

Al salir de este vecindario, nos fijamos en un edificio que parecía una escuela u otro tipo de campo. Hicimos preguntas y supimos que era Carver High School, una preparatoria solamente para negros que fue cerrada en 1972. ¡Imagínate! Sólo 10 años antes. Todavía hablaban del sistema de autobuses para distribuir a los negros entre todas las escuelas integradas. Para mí, no había una estigma al andar en autobús porque en Mtn. Home todos usábamos los autobuses escolares.

La mitad de mi equipo de básquetbol eran negros y no noté ningún problema. Las consideraba mis amigas y supongo que ellas también. Aún así, ellas nunca vinieron a mi casa y nunca fuimos juntas al cine o a cenar los fines de semana. Vivíamos en nuestros propios mundos.

Mi esposo Alfredo vivía de niño en el campo al norte de Morrilton, Arkansas en una comunidad que se llamaba Cleveland, cerca de Hattieville y St. Vincent. Su familia vivía en el bosque en un camino de terracería que fue parte de una serie de calles por allá. Él nació en 1966 y asistió a una escuela segregada para los negros hasta el grado dos. Era un edificio para todos los grados y edades. Cuando los integraron, los mandaron a la escuela Wonderview y así fue. Él no recuerda problemas ni disturbios. Mi suegro fue miembro del consejo escolar y mi suegra ayudó con las competencias y organización de 4-H. Eran involucrados en la comunidad mezclada. Además de participar en 4-H, mi esposo jugaba baloncesto y estaban amigos que eran blancos y negros. Todos los hombres Rainey jugaban baloncesto en su tiempo libre y en la escuela.

Fred se sorprendió en la universidad al estudiar que él mismo vivía la historia del movimiento de los Derechos Civiles y más que nada que sus papás lo vivieron en serio. Mi esposo es el octavo hijo y empezó a pensar en sus hermanos mayores. ¿Adónde asistieron a la escuela ellos? ¿Cuáles ya se habían graduado de la preparatoria antes de la integración? ¿Cuáles se graduaron de Wonderview? ¿Tenían dificultades?

No hace tanto de esto. Pensamos muchas veces que algo escrito en libros ya terminó. Esta época aún no ha finalizado en nuestro país. El capítulo de racismo, prejuicios y las leyes sigue abierto. Las muertes de Martin Luther King Junior, el Presidente John F. Kennedy y de su hermanito Robert F. Kennedy, todas en menos de una década, demuestran que hay poderes que no dejan que haya cambios drásticos al respecto de los derechos humanos. Cien años después de la Guerra Civil, en 1967 con Loving vs. Virginia, se acabaron las leyes estatales en contra del cruce de razas (antimestizaje o miscegenation) que prohibieron que se casaran entre razas. Irónicamente, es el año en que nací yo. Tristemente, las leyes de todos los estados no cambiaron tan rápido: ¡Alabama no eliminó esta ley en su estado hasta el 2000! Ya tenía cuatro hijos y celebraba el décimo aniversario en este año.

¿Qué significa el lema “Make America Great Again.”? ¿A qué época se refiere? La idea de un muro que nos separe del “enemigo” – ¿tenemos enemigos? – como tenían en Berlín es absurda. ¿No celebró todo el mundo cuando por fin destruyeron ese símbolo de separación, de temor, de odio? Ese evento también coincidió con un evento importante en mi vida – Fred y yo nos casamos en 1990 mientras abrían el muro de Berlín. Lo que me molesta más de la situación no es que tiene ideas similares de la era de la Guerra Fría, sino que hay suficiente gente apoyando estas ideas.

Me quedé decepcionada. ¿Quiere mucha gente que regresemos a la época de segregación? ¿Qué eliminamos la oportunidad de mejorar la vida para cierta gente, grupos de gente? ¿Hay tanto racismo? ¿Cómo se puede justificar un muro y leyes en varias áreas de la sociedad sin entender que están basadas en promover y conservar la posición de poder de los súper ricos? No hay justificación a ideas así cuando te recuerdan una película como Green Book que tan profundas eran las actitudes que la mayoría de la gente ni pensaba en lo correcto o incorrecto de la situación.

Creo que no han cambiado mucho las actitudes de la mayoría de la gente que tienen poder, solamente hemos insertado un elemento de vergüenza en estas actitudes para que las escondan en público. Recientemente con los cambios en los poderes políticos se ha renovado una popularidad en profesar y justificar los prejuicios.

Al recordar a Martin Luther King, Jr., podemos reflejar su mensaje y celebrar los cambios, pero no debemos dejar de luchar porque no se ha acabado.


Adversity, noun ad-ver-si-ty \ad-vәr-sә-tē\

  1. A state or instance of serious or continued difficulty or misfortune; showing courage in the face of adversity
  2. When anything doesn’t go your way in any sporting event or season; often confused with “normal competition” [Rainey definition]; we overcame adversity because we were down in the first half, but came back to win.

*If you don’t recognize sarcasm in print, this is an example.

Gastric-Bypass Surgery: Beginning My Journey

Growing Up

When I was growing up I was very active: riding bikes around the neighborhood or down to the creek, climbing trees, roller skating in the driveway, swimming, canoeing, camping, hiking. I swam in my first swim meet at the age of 4. It seems like I was always doing something.

In middle school I started playing basketball. I could play tennis because my mom taught me. She was always organizing classes for all ages through Parks and Recreation. I’m fairly certain she initiated all the programs in our small town. She had played field hockey in high school in Kansas City, was a PE major at Hendrix, and continued that passion raising her children.

The point is, it never occurred to me how I got “in shape,” indeed what was this concept? It was simply my normal state of being. What would “out of shape” even mean? I was never limited physically – if I wanted to do something, I simply did it, or tried it. No question.

Adulthood: Pregnancy and Changing Habits

Then came my first pregnancy. I continued playing basketball until I was 3 months along. One day I got knocked down in the lane and my husband decided that was enough. I continued to eat the same, but the four hours a day of basketball activity stopped immediately. Of course I gained 50 pounds! Who wouldn’t?

After I gave birth I walked with the stroller and soon started playing basketball – and then pregnant again 6 months later. No more exercise. I think at this point I realized I had to actually do something and basketball, competitive basketball, was not a choice. I found an aerobics class for pregnant ladies at WRMC (Washington Regional Medical Center on North Street in those days). This definitely helped me not gain more weight like I had with the first pregnancy. I was able to play basketball after number 2 as well: in the driveway and even some tournaments with friends.

Six months later, pregnant again, but now I working as a teacher full time, mother of two small boys, and there was seemingly no time to even think about playing anything. I loved what I was doing professionally as well as my precious time with my children. I didn’t feel like I was missing anything.

After number three, finally a girl, no more basketball other than the driveway. But then I started coaching as well as teaching. Even less time, but I was around basketball again. Turns out that merely standing in a gym and watching others run while you blow a whistle does nothing for you physically. Who would have thought?

Of course, six months later I’m pregnant again with number four. This time, five weeks after he’s born I try to play in a student-faculty game and simply can’t make it. For the first time in my life I actually cannot do what I want to do because of physical limitations. No doubt I was worse at basketball each year, but I had been capable of getting out there.

I transfer to another school so that I’m only teaching, no coaching. Along comes another student-faculty game. This time I’m going to get in shape first – and I’m NOT pregnant! I had begun a weekly aerobics regimen, but that week I decided to go three days in a row, plus a day of scrimmage games with my former players.

Guess what? It was January, my thirtieth birthday and, after obvious over-exertion, my back went out. Completely! I was bedridden and could not move.

The timing of hitting THIRTY, back going out, and just for good measure, a bad haircut, was too much. I was supremely depressed about where I was in life. The answer? Don’t exercise – then you can’t get hurt, right?

Life Goes On: Without Exercise

That was it. From 1997-2013: work, play with kids, some travel abroad (where your backside does not fit in the airline seat), back problems, including an embarrassing episode in Mexico at a Starbucks bathroom, a fun border crossing laid out in the back of my own van, and a disastrous trip to a hospital in San Antonio. Months of chiropractic visits followed. Exercise is a phenomenal stress reliever; without that, I was constantly stressed and tried to fill my non-existent free time with work and travel, avoiding issues in my marriage and my health.

The Journey Begins…Slowly

The year 2013 was a game changer. I had heard from teacher friends about gastric bypass surgery. I was astounded that I had never heard of this! I’m interested but assume it will cost too much. Then I go to Spain – I had gone to a great aerobics class twice weekly for 6 months without fail. Although I was stronger and felt better, I was still quite large and had lost no significant weight. My knees and back couldn’t handle more activity.

The day before we leave for Spain I go to my exercise class and overdo it with some combined twist/jump moves and I can’t even walk. I go to a the chiropractor, apply ice, pray, and am determined to go. I manage but a student has to help me with my luggage the whole trip. Ironically I always preach to students about this when I take them abroad: “No one will be there to carry your luggage, so make sure you can drag it around!” Eye roll.

With some visits to a masoquiropráctico (more like a massage therapist; no chiropractors in Spain), I survive. Great trip but I was a nuisance to my student who had to help me, and the other teacher on the trip.

Upon returning I was not better and my back actually worsened. Pain management visits for a spinal injection and a new chiropractor with facilities for traction. Because of my weight and poor overall physical condition, it took three months three times a week rather than a few weeks.

By January 2014 I’m sure I want to investigate this weight loss surgery option and seriously discuss options and experiences with several teacher friends. However, by the time I decide that I want to do this and figure out how, the program is full. Without the insurance program, I could never afford it. It was more than disappointed – a whole year more to wait. Good grief!

Near Tragedy Leads to Positive Change

Then on November 17, 2014 my husband had a heart attack at age 48. As he says, he earned it through lack of exercise and poor diet, including too many snacks.

Overnight our diet habits changed for the first time. As a couple, doing this is much easier! This whole garbage of eating raw vegetables while your family eats pizza, hamburgers, chips, cookie dough ice cream, cheese dip (etc, etc, etc), does not work on any planet. Sure, I can make decisions and I don’t have to eat certain things – it’s up to me, right? Not 24-7, especially when tired, overworked, stressed, or just limited on time. But dang! When that juicy pepperoni pizza smell fills the house and six people around you are joyously chowing down every Friday night for the Pizza Night family tradition, it’s just not possible. It’s masochistic to abstain. My children are also older by this time (24, 23, 21, 20, 20, 18) and they were on their own if they were not going to eat healthy.

Program Enrollment and Roller Seminar

On January 2, 2015, the first day possible, I call my insurance company to enroll! No questions – ready! I begin my required monthly visits to my family doctor, and get signed up for the first available Seminar at Roller Weight Loss in Fayetteville. My family doctor knew precisely what to do because her co-office doctor had gone through the surgery and process and had recently left the WRMC clinic to open up the Fort Smith Roller Weight Loss office branch.

  • 1200 calorie diet
  • An app to count calories daily
  • Prescription appetite suppressant (limited time use because it can be addictive)

The Seminar was amazing! My husband was skeptical, not that it would work, but why I wanted to do this, my motivation. He truly doesn’t care if I’m large or small, but the Seminar was all about being healthy, living longer, not by waving a magic wand, but being the catalyst to change your lifestyle. He was 100% in favor of my decision to take this journey.

Between that January and July 10, the date of my surgery, I lost forty (40) pounds and was doing great on my diet, along with my husband. He had lost so much weight as well! After the success of losing so much “on my own,” which was required by my insurance program prior to surgery, maybe to demonstrate dedication and change, a good friend asked why I was still going to have the surgery.

It was actually a good question – why?

Why Weight Loss Surgery?

For me personally, I knew I needed a permanent solution to keep me honest long-term. After years of trying to lose weight on my own and failing, I was determined not just to lose weight, but to be my ideal weight, be active, and remain that weight forever. No turning back!

There are choices on types of procedures:

  • Gastric-Bypass, oldest, since 1967 (the year I was born – irony); most successful, permanent
  • Sleeve – cut stomach in half; seen many not have success
  • Band – slippage, having to go in and have it readjusted; seen too many not have success

I knew I needed the most permanent solution, but would still have to be dedicated, both physically and mentally.

Active Again

My sister helped the most with the physically active aspect by calling around and getting me into tennis locally. With her support I knew I couldn’t wimp out. Tennis has been the difference for me. Fun! Friends to keep me playing, because it’s socially and physically challenging. It feeds my competitive spirit at my level of capability and age. Perfect.

Life is different now. I have more energy. I want to do so many things – travel, activities – participate in life to my fullest! No limitations. It makes me feel younger to be limitless again. Ok, I now have horrible knees due to basketball injuries and genetics, and a wacky back from 5+ years in a row of carrying babies on my hip; but for a banged-up 52-year-old (in January, 2019), I am fit as a fiddle!

Next Steps…For the Rest of My Life

The journey is not over. It will never be over. Weight Loss Surgery, any option, is not a magic pill or wand, nor the final solution, nor the end. It is the beginning. It allows me to start again once I hit my ideal weight or thereabouts. It’s the beginning of the journey that I will be on for the rest of my life.

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