Monthly Archives: October 2019

How Safe Is Your Home?

IMG_0326I have been silent for a while.  We arrived in Arizona nine days ago.  I spent most of last week unpacking boxes and finding homes for our possessions.  I had to reorganize cabinets and closets, and now it is 99.9% complete.  I have lost my inspiration for that other 0.1% to be completed.  Now that I have said that, I will probably get inspired later today.

I was also silent for a while because I couldn’t think of anything new and eventful to share.  Of course, in my life, that happens only for short periods of time.  Yesterday proved to be a most unusual day.

About 9:30 am, I am on the phone with my grandson who is a university freshman, and it was 11:30 am in Missouri.  I had just hung up from our call when Dennis said that someone is at our front door.  I asked why he didn’t go answer the door, and he replied, “Not here, our home in Missouri.”  So we watched on his phone security camera app of a couple at our front door.  At first I wondered if this couple had an appointment to view the house.  I was about to call my agent, because we need to turn off the alarm system if an agent is going to show the house.

It is nice to have technology.  The cameras that picked up this couple at the front door are the very inexpensive cameras.  You can buy them individually online, plug them in, and connect them to the internet.  If there is any movement, it sends a text message.  You can Intrudergo to the app on your smartphone and see what that movement is.  Usually that movement on one side of our home tends to be the clouds moving and changing of the light.  We usually ignore it, if it is a windy, overcast day.

This couple stood at our door, looked in through the window, stood a little longer and then walked away, or so we thought.  My first inclination was someone selling something, or at the wrong home.  Our home is in a private subdivision with only about 20 homes on 3 acre lots.  All of a sudden, Dennis gets notice on his phone the house alarm system was sounding and that the security company is contacting the local authorities.  Now we are on high alert.

Our security cameras connected to the alarm system are different than the camera that was sending us alerts.  The camera to the alarm system goes on after the alarm sounds, but we found that camera was malfunctioning. It’s nice to know we have a set of backup cameras.  

Dennis went back to his phone to view the cameras and we can hear the alarm in the background, and see faintly in the distance the car in front of our house backing out of the driveway.  A few minutes later, our cameras are sending him a message of activity again.  He looks at it, and sees that the law enforcement officers are walking through the house very carefully looking for a possible suspect hiding out.

Finally, Dennis reached out to the officers (through these cameras).  He can actually talk through them.  He introduced himself and asked if they would like him to have the alarm company turn off the the blaring alarm.  The officers replied that they would appreciate that.  He had the alarm silenced, and we continued watching the officers as they went through the whole house room by room, and we have cameras on all the levels sending us video of them walking around.

Dennis informed them that we have a video of the two people at the front door who tripped the alarm system.  Apparently, they bolted as soon as they breached the house and the alarm sounded.  They never actually entered the house, because we have cameras that would have shown their movement.

The officers found the door that the would-be thieves jimmied to entered.  They checked all the doors and secured them before they left.  Now it was time for me to play detective.  Who where these people that wanted to break into our home?

Dennis sent me the first video of the people at the door.  The man, literally put his face to the window to look into the house.  I stopped the video at that spot and took a screen shot on my phone.  Then a few seconds later, the lady looked through the window, but a foot or two away from the door, so she was not as clear, but I once again, took a screen shot of her.

UnknownNeither person looked familiar, and it was time for my communication skills to kick into high gear.  I cropped both phones to give an unclose view of these two.  I took both photos and posted them on my Facebook page.  I seldom post anything to be “public” because my page is only for my friends.  This time I made the post public and I needed to grab everyone’s by attention posting, “***IMPORTANT — FULTON BEWARE***”  I proceeded to tell what happened.  I asked them to share this post, and to be aware of their surroundings.  I also asked if anyone knew who these two people are.  I tagged people I knew who lived in this community, along with some folks I knew a few miles away.

I have never seen anything on my Facebook page blow up before.  Our home in Missouri is in a town of 12,000+ people, and in a county of 45,000.  This is not a big county—it is in the country, with a lot of farms and small towns.  As of this morning my post was shared 327 times and counting—just raised by 2 in the last 15 minutes!

Within ten minutes I was getting private messages and public messages from people who immediately recognized the man.  His face was so clear on the video, that if you knew him, he was super easy to identify.  The first two private message I got both gave me the same name.  I replied and thanked them for the information.  The second lady who replied had told me she called the sheriff’s department to identify him.  After I thanked her, she responded back that he was actually her cousin and he really needed help.  She also said she thought he has been arrested recently.  Well, I had already googled his name, and found that he had been arrested in June and again in mid-October (like a week before) both for theft!  So, if he is out on bail, I am hoping his bail becomes revoked and he sits in jail until his theft charges go to trial.  Several others, including more relatives, posted his name openly on the thread of my original posting.

One woman identified the girl at the door, but several people came back, and replied that was definitely not that girl.  Since I didn’t want that girl’s name to be spread around this little town that she was an accomplice, I removed that women’s post from the thread.  The man, however, was identified over and over and over as the same person.  Apparently, he is well known in the area.

DickTracyOne of my sons was following this story from San Francisco, and sent me a text message that he was impressed how I was able to use social media to identify this person.  I told him that ever since I got my Apple watch, I felt like Dick Tracy, and thought it was time to solve a crime!

We were amazed at how quickly the man was identified.  Dennis spoke to the lead investigator, and gave him the name, and then he sent to him the video and the still shots of the two.  About an hour later, Dennis received a call from the officer stating that he recognized both people.  They were folks he has encountered before, and he knew where they lived and would be going out to find them.

I was getting text messages from my neighbors who were quite upset with what happened.  One was out of town and was concerned about his wife and children.  It really made us all aware of how vulnerable we are to crime.

Several people posted on my Facebook page requesting information of our security system because they were amazed how clear these photos were, and how quickly everything happened.  So, I will give a shout out to what we use.  We have Simply Safe for our alarm system.  We used to have a different well known security company, but their fees were extremely high, and they were really weird to deal with, so Dennis gave them 30 days notice that he was cancelling them from the 9 years of their service.  They continued billing.  Dennis called logosthem and said we cancelled, and they stated we never gave them notice.  Dennis had the email from this company confirming receipt of the cancellation 30 days in advance.  They still ignored that.  Dennis finally sent an email to the state Attorney General, and copied the aforementioned company, and they finally walked away.  You know, they say the way to know if a religion is a cult is how they don’t want to let you out if you want to voluntarily leave.  Well, this well known security company must be some crazy cult!  

Back to the system.  We have installed Simply Safe, which doesn’t need wiring throughout the house.  It’s a simple online system, and all our doors are alarmed.  There are also cameras, but our best cameras were the Wyze cameras.  They are bought individually online, and are very inexpensive.  You just plug them in and point them where you want them.  You set them up through their app, and it sends a text message if it detects movement, and you can immediately go the app and see what is going on.  Now those cameras don’t alarm, but they are a great addition to the alarm system.  We also have these cameras in our Arizona home, and last year when the landscape people were doing our backyard, we watched the work being done from those cameras while we were in Missouri.  

I am really glad nothing bad happened at our home.  Most of our belongings are in Arizona, so had these thieves made it into the house, they would have been greatly disappointed, unless they are stealing beds and couches!  I am glad the community was put on notice to be aware of their surroundings and at least get cameras in their homes.

I really hope that not only will justice be done, especially for this young man, but that by taking responsibility for this and for these two previous arrests, that he will see that he needs to move his life in a different direction.  Only God can move him to change his heart, and we are praying that this will happen.

How did we recover from this excitement?  We took a small hike on our mountain, at the San Tan Regional Park.  It is pretty desolate right now, but it still a wondrous beauty of God’s creation.

 

My next blog won’t be as exciting.  At least, I hope not.  Yesterday was enough excitement for a long time.  I must give a shout out the the Callaway County Sheriffs Department, for their professionalism, and their speedy response.  I am thankful for my neighbors who reached out, and am glad that we could help them become more vigilant in the future.  I must give a shout out to the community who shared this Facebook post to make others aware (now up to 355 shares since I started writing)!

I am thankful to God for his protection.  I could have been home alone when this happened.  Our property could have been harmed.  Our neighbors could have been harmed.  God protected us all.  Praise to him!Psalm 121-708

Goin’ West

I didn’t realize that leaving Missouri would be a bit tougher than I thought.  This time, going to Arizona, is pretty much final.  We have a contract on our home—well, to be totally correct, we have a contingent contract on our home.  We are allowing the buyer to get their house sold.  Our buyers are very motivated, so I have much faith that they will sold houseget their home sold as quickly as possible.  Now, the caveat to that is that while our home has a contingent contract, other prospective buyers can still view the home and even make an offer.  I know that is risky for the buyer’s contract contingency, but that is how the contingent contracts work.

I am planning that this will be our permanent move.  I am an optimist.  I believe my buyer will be able to sell their home in a fair amount of time.  They are motivated, so hopefully, they are motivated to do what it takes to have it happen as quickly as possible.

I have been packing boxes all last week and this week.  Of course, that is between a trip to Fort Wayne, Indiana, several doctor’s appointments we had to get out of the way so we don’t need doctors in Arizona, hopefully for a while.  My husband put a reservation in for a trailer to haul the boxes, and then realized, he needed to change to a larger trailer.  It should hold all our boxes and our luggage will go into the back of the car.  Dennis is good about making sure the car is ready to go.  He has done all the maintenance and more to be road ready.  He read all the specs on using the particular trailer, and stopped today to add air pressure to the tires according to the specs.

This weekend my Missouri kids all came out.  I invited them to “shop” my kitchen.  I have several kitchen appliances, and other items, along with food that will not be going with us.  They walked into the house, and I handed them bags and told them to fill.  The loaded bags with food, and bakeware, cookware, glasses, wine glasses, and a myriad of kitchen items.  We went from room to room as I offered them bedroom furniture, living room furniture, and miscellaneous items.  Of course, when it comes to the furniture, they cannot have it until we actually close on our home.  There is a couple reasons for that, first being this home in Missouri is still our primary home, and hopefully nothing bad will happen with this contract, but if it does, we have a home to stay until it sells.  I learned a lesson when I married Dennis.  I had my home on the market, and it was IMG_2300taking a while and I wanted my furniture at this home in Mid Missouri.  I asked my real estate agent if it was okay to remove my furniture.  She saw no problem.  She told me that if the home has a lot of issues, such as needs painting, frayed carpeting, etc., furniture is a good way to distract the buyer from flaws that are easily repaired, but may discourage a buyer unnecessarily.  She said my home was in excellent condition and having it empty will not show any flaws.  That was well and good until I got a letter from my insurance company telling me that they were cancelling my homeowner’s policy because I abandoned my home.  Who ever heard of that?  Apparently, somehow they found out there was no furniture and they considered the home abandoned.  We called around and we found a new plan that said as long as we stay there two days out of the month, it would not be considered abandoned.  We put a bed in one room, and when we visited our kids, we stayed in the house.  So, lesson learned.  Furniture stays, especially if the sale goes south—“please, Lord, don’t let that happen.”

IMG_0221 2After the kids left from their day of “pillaging” the house, Dennis and I sat out by our fire pit, and it really hit me.  I was going to be leaving our family and going half way across the country.  It was a tough evening for me.  I had to go back and realize that all our kids in Missouri are very busy adults.  The grandkids in Missouri are teenagers and older.  They are also very busy.  We don’t really see them that often.  Two of our kids already have plans to come to Arizona to visit us this December.  We also plan to spend the hot summer months out of Arizona and back in Missouri.  If our house is sold and final, we will probably rent somewhere in St. Louis where are kids are.  We can enjoy our friends there, go to Cardinal baseball games, the world renowned St. Louis Zoo, the Muny Opera (it’s not really opera—it’s a world’s largest outdoor theater that performs musical theater), along with going back to Mid Missouri to visit family and friends.  What am I worried about?

Then Sunday I sat down in church and realized that this was my last full time every Missouri-DebtSunday at a church that has the best music of any church I have ever attended in my life.  The sermons are solid and deep.  The church is loving and benevolent.  Just this last September our church had a special offering to help pay off the medical bills that have gone to collection  for people who were earning less than two times the poverty rate.  In two weeks this church raised enough, not only to pay off the debt in Boone County where the church is located and the four surrounding counties, it paid off the debt in 31 Missouri counties!  Wow!  In a two week period of the time church collected for the “Jubilee” fund $430,000.  It would pay off $430 million dollars in debt.  This past Sunday, our pastor announced that the payment had been made, and it IMG_0223actually paid $500,000 of medical debt.  This is such an amazing thing, and any church or organization can do this.  If you would like to know how this works, just click on this word, “Jubilee,” and read why and how this happened.

It’s hard to leave a church that is so connected to the community.  They support so many ministries that help people.  It is hard to leave great teaching and great music, and seeing God work through the people in the church.  I love the fact that my grandson and his roommates have attended with us since they all started their freshman year at the University of Missouri.  I will miss seeing these young men every week.  Don’t tell them, but they will probably see deliveries of cookies and goodies coming from Arizona!

It is time to move forward.  I have always loved new adventures.  I have always loved meeting new people.  I have always loved trying new places and new things.  So, here is my chance.  I already have 12 first cousins in the Phoenix area, several high school classmates there, and made new friends with neighbors and people at a church there.  What am I afraid of?  In reality, I am not afraid of anything.

I know when I arrive there, I will be busy for a week or so reorganizing the kitchen, finding places for all our stuff.  There is no basement in this house, but there are plenty of closets.  I also know it will take a few weeks to feel the flow again.  When I came back to Missouri this summer from a winter in Arizona, it took me a week or so to remember how I did my days here.  It will be the same going there, but we will find our flow, and we will get in rhythm.

Change is never easy, but if we don’t move forward, if we don’t embrace change, we feet in 2 statesbecome stagnant.  I am 70 years old, will be 71 in December.  I don’t know how long I have on this earth, but while I have time, I want to make the most of it especially while I am healthy enough to do so.  I may still have feet in both Arizona and Missouri for a while.  I will always be a midwestern girl with midwestern values.  I also have midwestern taste.  I have already found a shop that has “Missouri pork steaks” just down the road from our new house.  I have packed up several bottles of Maul’s Barbecue Sauce and Zia’s Salad Dressing to enjoy in the southwest.  Now I’m ready to learn about the specialties of Arizona.

This is gonna be fun!

new adventure

 

Body Image–Learning to Love Myself

baby

Andrea 1949

I really struggle with my body image.  I have done so most of my life.  I can look back and see negative influencers throughout my life that made me very self-conscious about my body.  I will talk about these negative influencers in a bit.

I was a hefty 8 lbs. 11 oz. when I was born in 1948.  I come from a heritage of Serbians/Croatians and Germans. My maternal grandmother, who died at age 90, thought a thin person was unhealthy, and a hefty (fat) person was healthy.  I am sure this had to do with the poverty in which she was raised.  If you were thin, there was not enough food to eat, and if you had weight on you, you had plenty of food and was possibly even prosperous.Food had all kinds of meanings in our family.  It was more than just sustenance.  It was foodsomething used for celebrations, and for drowning one’s sorrows.  It was put in front of us as children, and we were expected to clean our plates.  I never got the story of poor children across the world not having food, but I did get the story that I had to eat whatever my mother cooked, whether I liked it or not.  I remember times when I sat in tears at the table because my mother cooked cauliflower, and my dad required me to eat a healthy portion.  I sobbed and choked down this awful tasting concoction.  I still cannot eat cooked cauliflower without bringing back these memories.

floridaBoth of my parents were overweight.  In fact, they would probably have been diagnosed as morbidly obese.  My mother hated her photo taken, and many times refused to be in a photo.  She was a small skinny girl as a child, and after marriage and having three children, her weight began to rise.  My dad was a big guy, and he like to eat quantities.  He slimmed down while he was in the military, but coming home, his weight starting significantly rising.  Interestingly, enough, he wasn’t a big fan of sweets, but he loved quantities of food, and snacking.

Now you would think that having parents with weight issues that they would be aware of their children’s eating habits—or maybe not.  My mom was warm and loving and would tell me I was beautiful, and more beautiful than all my friends.  I didn’t believe her—I thought she had to say that because she was my mom.  I couldn’t figure out why I could be beautiful, when all the other girls were more popular in school.  It never dawned on me that popularity wasn’t only about looks, it is also about the way you present yourself to others—personality, being open and friendly.  Because I came from this European tradition and with very conservative parents, I thought I was oddly different from everyone else, so I hid myself from their friendships.

When I reached my teen years I started having innocent crushes on some of the boys.  One time my father realized I had a crush on a boy who he knew, and I will never forget what he said to me.  Now, remember, this is a dad who is extremely overweight.  He said, “How can you have a crush on him?  You are bigger than he is.”  Really?  Did a dad really say that to his teenage daughter.  I look back at photos of me as a teenager.  I wasn’t skinny, but I also wasn’t what I would call fat.  But, my dad made me feel fat and unattractive.

college

College Days

Move forward a few years.  As I have mentioned in previous blogs, I come from a very conservative family so even the thought of dating in high school was not an option.  When I was a junior in college, I transferred to a four year university after completing two years at a community college.  The college years are where I started to bloom as an individual, but I still had body issues of not thinking that I was attractive, or thin, or appealing.  One of my college roommates actually said to me, “You would be my prettiest friend if you lost some weight.”  Now I am sure that person does not remember ever saying that, but those kind of comments implanted  in my brain.  It just added to my body issues, that I was unattractive and my body was wrong.bride

While I was in college, I went on a few dates, and I don’t think they were very good ones (on my part) because I don’t think I felt deserving of these guys asking me out.  There was one guy who I just hung out with and became friends, before we were in a relationship.  Yes, this is the guy I married right after graduating.  I was really excited that he was interested in me because his previous girlfriends were skinny girls.  I should have known better . . . .

After we were married, he would ask me to tell him my weight.  I wouldn’t tell him.  He told me that he was my husband and he had a right know my weight.  I didn’t weigh much less than he did, and although as I look at photos from back then, I looked pretty good, but I knew deep down he would think that number was outrageous.  I thought all pretty girls had to weigh between 100 and 125 lbs.  I wasn’t there.  I never, in the ten years I was married to him, told him my IMG_0035weight.  After having children, and I had four babies in six years, one of the main things we argued about was my weight.  Can you believe that?  First of all, I think of the vow “for better or worse.”  Even if he thought that was the “worse,” didn’t his vow require him to love and accept me as I was?  I very distinctly remember one night about six months after the birth of my fourth child, as I was ready to fall asleep in bed, he “sweetly” said, “Honey, I thought you said you were going to join Weight Watchers after you had the baby.”  I sat up in bed and stated, “If you want a skinny wife, go find one.”  I was so hurt and angry.

A couple years later, I finally hit bottom.  I had an ectopic pregnancy (tubal pregnancy) which laid me low for six months.  I had exploratory surgery, was given five (5) units of blood in the operating room, and I felt like I had no support system.  Depression hit, and I didn’t know what to do with it.  I got so depressed I pretty much didn’t eat, and the pounds were dropping off.  I thought I had finally figured out the weight thing.  Of course, going to see someone for help gave rise to a prescription for antidepressants.  Low and behold, the weight came back!

That marriage ended, and my weight fluctuated like it had over the years.  I had tried every diet in the book—you name it—I probably tried it.  Then I met husband #2.  I was sad and lonely, and it this was not a good pairing.  I wanted to lose weight.  He never really complained about my looks, but he liked the idea of me dieting.  So, I went on a diet, and he monitored it, and he suggested workouts and walking, which I did, while he sat on the front porch drinking.  What was I thinking?

One of the things he would say to me when we went out and would see an obese woman HPIM0500.JPGwas, “Don’t ever get like that, or I will be out of here.”  When things got really bad in this marriage, I wasn’t very emotionally healthy.  I didn’t know how to end this mess I was in.  An easy solution came to mind—I would eat, and I would eat in front of him, so he would leave.  You know what I found out?  That was a lie.  He was using me, and leaving meant he would have to grow up and support himself, so he stayed.  Finally, as I was getting my life together, I sent him packing.

Now I had a weight problem, but at that point in time, I really didn’t care.  I was me.  No one told me I wasn’t good enough.  No one compared me to anyone else.  I felt free, but was unhappy with the weight, but not unhappy enough to do much about it.

That is not totally true.  I was starting to think about healthy living which has to do with healthy eating and exercise.  I was working at a large manufacturing company, and had been doing a lot of research on wellness programs.  My research showed that companies that had a well-designed wellness program had more satisfied employees, less absenteeism, and the company over a five year period healthysaved $5.00 for every $1.00 they spent on the wellness program.  That was impressive enough for me to put together a proposal to my boss for establishing a wellness program at work.  My boss liked the idea, and said if I could do it for $0.00, to go for it.  I couldn’t believe it.  That told me it was time to find a new position.  I was already thinking of leaving, but his response to something that was good for employees, and would be an investment that paid off in time, was not what I expected.  A few months later, I changed jobs, and on my first day, my new boss told me that he liked my idea of a wellness program, and he gave me a huge budget to put one together.

That was the beginning of my odyssey towards healthy living.  I gave up soft drinks, except for rare occasions.  I pretty much gave up prepared food, and I started walking.  I didn’t drop tons of weight, but I dropped some, and I felt really good and fit.thin

I still struggle with weight.  I sometimes in my head deal with those demons who say others are talking about how fat I am.  I lost a fair amount of weight a couple years ago.  I have gained some weight because I couldn’t get out and move before and after my hip replaced.  That weight will come off, and I will be fit, and healthy now that I am out hiking again.  One of the fortunate things for me, is that I have no health issues previously or currently.  My lab numbers for everything are always within the normal range.  I know as I get older, I may not be as lucky, so I do have to make sure I maintain a more healthy lifestyle if I want to truly enjoy my future years.

I look at photos of me over the years, and I am amazed someone thought I looked bad.  Then I look at other photos, and I just kind of cringe because I let those usnegative feeling bring me down to a place I could have avoided.  I am not that “fat girl” in my head, but looking in a mirror at those times really shocked me.

I do pretty good at silencing my gremlins that like to tell me how unworthy I may be.  Who would think that those voices are still whispering at me.  I am blessed to finally have a husband who loves me no matter what my size, what my hair looks like, or whatever outer appearance I have.  Of course, because of his positive attitude and love to me, I want to look and be my best because he deserves that from me.  I also know, though, if I struggle with these things, he still loves me just the way I am.  And, even better, God loves me unconditionally.  God sacrificing his son for me, his son Jesus, who willingly gave his life for me, because of his amazing and most undeserved love for me, gives me a reason to love his creation—including me!

Version 2

My favorite photo of us–the man who has helped me love who I am.