Category Archives: Other stuff

The day has come to bid farewell to my boat. I just loaded it on a trailer after selling to a guy who’ll be racing it in the Tour du Teche this year. Good luck to him. I’ve really enjoyed this boat, all the experiences I’ve had in it, and especially all the wonderful people it has helped me connect with. It took me to a world I never knew existed. But, it’s time for another chapter in our life and Sharon and I will soon be headed in a new direction – where I won’t need the kayak. Thanks to all of you for sticking with me on these races. And a big, big thanks to everyone who has volunteered to lose sleep and take time off to be on my ground crew. I can’t express all the good you’ve done for me so that will be all I have to say on the subject; this is a short post. Let the next chapter begin. Ned

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LET’S NOT LIMIT ACCESS TO THE CHOICES

Sound like the words of the largest abortion provider in our country? Does this echo the sentiments of the pro-choice movement?   I urge you to read this entire post with an open mind and heart; then you decide.

I have worked with women receiving counseling and services at crisis pregnancy centers now, for over two years. The last eight months have been for BirthChoice Pregnancy Centers for Women, in Dallas. As a peer counselor and a nurse sonographer, during an intake and assessment a question asked all clients is whether they have had previous abortions and if yes, would they make that choice again. A small percentage have had previous abortions and say it wasn’t a problem but they would never consider it again. They feel desperate because they have been convinced they are not strong enough or have enough resources to manage a child or be a good parent. Some women had abortions under duress, believing it would solve their problem and life would go back to normal and found that far from true. Some women report a previous abortion and still see it as their only choice with this pregnancy because of external pressures ie: from parents or friends, embarrassment, financial stressors, boyfriend threatening to leave. Many women when relating their abortion experiences tell of treatment ranging from insensitive to gruesome to possibly illegal. But the main themes I keep hearing are “I didn’t think I had any other options,” “I felt trapped in my situation,” “I didn’t have insurance and didn’t know there was help for me,” and many similar stories with the same theme – “I didn’t know all the choices I had.”

Why  these other choices were not presented would be a good topic for another post.

Instead of abortion, what positive choices do we provide at BirthChoice? After we complete an intake and assessment to evaluate the woman’s situation and needs, the following are possible.

  • Sonograms for women considering abortion. Many women truly believe “the products of conception” they are told an abortion removes is a blob of tissue and are shocked to see the heartbeat of a 6 week baby and how active a 10 week or older baby is, kicking, punching, sucking it’s thumb. They will comment that because they don’t feel it yet they didn’t expect it to be moving. A baby’s movement is not usually felt until after 20 weeks. Abortion in Texas is legal until 24 weeks.
  • Sonograms for women not wanting abortion but are being pressured by boyfriends/parents/friends/spouses. We strongly encourage those significant others to view the sonogram.
  • Review of the booklet by the state “A Woman’s Right To Choose” which shows fetal development and factual information about the various types of abortion procedures and their possible risks and side effects – both short and long and short term,  and they are given a copy.
  • For the woman who still plans to seek an abortion, given a copy of questions for her to ask her abortionist. *Will the procedure hurt?  *In your practice, have you ever punctured a uterus?  *If there is a problem do you have emergency blood on hand? *If there is a problem which hospital will the ambulance take me to? *If I am admitted, who will pay my hospital bill? *Will I have problems getting pregnant when I want to? * Can you assure me this procedure is completely safe and that I will not have any problems now or later? * Can I change my mind at any time and have my money returned?
  • If undecided shown a video Honest Answers or Choices which present real women talking about the choices they made and how it worked out for them.
  • Given options for prenatal care if they don’t have health insurance. Lately we have seen more women who are pregnant and have recently lost their jobs or their husband or boyfriend has become unemployed and they have lost their health insurance and or income.  We don’t want a woman to be pressured to have an abortion with long term and possible detrimental consequences because of a temporary situation.
  • Given a referral list for various programs for financial support.
  • Given adoption information – we have an adoption specialist who can meet with the client and educate them about adoption and adoption agencies.
  • Information and referrals for emotional support or spiritual counseling including but not limited to: Rachel’s Vineyard for post abortive women suffering emotionally and spiritually from effects of their abortions, Project Gabriel and their GEMS program, Nurse Family Partnership Program, spiritual counseling at our center.
  • Connect to many other appropriate resources.

We do many other things at BirthChoice but the purpose of this article is to show how by providing education about all the choices a woman has in an unplanned pregnancy, she can make an informed choice, hopefully the one that will impact her life in a positive way.

More often than not when I introduce myself to a client, the expression she has is sad, flat, angry or scared.  She believes her choices are very limited or she has been lead to believe she doesn’t really have one. I want her to leave with hope for different possibilities. My greatest reward is a huge sigh of relief and a smile.

Marathon John

We’ve talked about Christian and Elisabeth, the other paddler and the runner in the family. This post is about John, the youngest of the Flottman family.

John’s sport is disc golf. I’ve never heard of marathon disc golf. But, he deserves to take it easy and stretch his muscles when he’s not at his job because that’s where his real marathon goes on. John’s a master ice carver, working at Ideas in Ice in Oklahoma City. Over the holidays like Christmas and Easter he’s working some long hours sculpting frozen water into things of beauty. He has an eye for art and muscles built up from lots of hauling big blocks of ice around.

It’s always amazing to me to watch someone do something they’re really good at. And watching John work with a medium that cracks easily and is constantly melting is a sight to see. If you ever have a chance to see him at a carving competition don’t miss the opportunity.

The last time I mentioned to John that he’d be great with a paddle in his hands he said he might be interested one of these days. If I could get Elisabeth in the back of a canoe, and John up front (where the power needs to be), Christian and I would both be looking at their backs.

Christian and I are taking it easy while the weather is cold but John’s in the middle of the Christmas ice carving marathon – GO JOHN!

The news from my ground crew captain, otherwise known as Sharon, the limited ultrasound nurse, is great. As you know, she finished her training and has started putting what she learned into practice. She learned on one kind of machine and had to start working using another but seems to have made that transition without too many hitches. She says it was like learning about computers on a Mac and then being handed a PC to use! She still has a few buttons and dials to decipher but she’s making good progress.

While we’re talking about her training it’s a good time to give a huge thanks to one of our White Rock Navy members. The place where Sharon works is a non-profit and relies on donations for their budget. They could hire her but were scrambling a bit to pay for her training. When she heard about the situation she stepped up and offered a donation that covered the five day class. BirthChoice now has a sonographer working 20 hours a week and Sharon has the training she’s wanted for a long time.

56 days since we “conceived” this idea, and 213 days until the MR340.

Ned

TIS THE SEASON MARATHON

As I type this, Ned is fast and furiously addressing and signing Christmas Cards, the first mailout in several years. We have been Blessed the past few holiday seasons  to be able to focus on the reason for the season because of our serious deficit of funds. That situation has eased slightly so we have added Christmas cards back into our life. We look forward to increasing prosperity in 2013 both spiritually and financially. We are both gainfully employed at the same time. Hallelujah! A little bit of catching up for those out of the loop.  After a year of unemployment in 2009 Ned took a job in Shreveport, LA  for Centerpoint Energy in 2010. He had been expressing interest in learning to kayak and doing the MR340. I had stipulations. 1 employment, 2health insurance, 3 a physical with clean bill of health, and this had to happen by the end of April. Well this got God’s Blessing because he landed his job on April 20th and started May 3.  I was in shock and drug my feet following him,  until our townhouse sold I was staying in Dallas. He spent every minute he was not working, training for the race. After being cancelled and rescheduled he did that in August and raised $4000 for the Haiti Pilgrims’ work in the city of Boileau, Haiti. One weekend a month we commuted back and forth – about a 3 1/2 hr drive – for the next 7 months.   Then something unheard of happened. I, an RN, lost my job. It ended abruptly and I got the message loud and clear that I was to get my ____to Shreveport, so I moved over Christmas. It took me 5 months to get my nursing license in the great state of LA so I began volunteering at Catholic Charities, St Catherine’s community garden for St Vincent DePaul, and The ARK-LA-TEX crisis pregnancy center. I met wonderful people and my life changed dramatically. A month after I got my licence, Ned’s job abruptly ended without any unemployment.  He shot back to Dallas to work as a contractor while I continued to volunteer and try to figure out “NOW WHAT”.  I was loved and cared for by my Christian sisters at ALTCPC. Ned was renting a room from an “interesting” gentleman because we had just finally leased our town home because  we were never able to sell it. I forgot to mention that the week after Ned moved to Shreveport a pitiful Silky Terrier

Janie the Little Dog

Janie the Little Dog

was rescued  by our neighbor and we somehow ended up with her. She has been a huge blessing for me as a companion, always making me laugh, even as I went through 4-5 gallons of Natures Miracle. She adores and is completely devoted to me. She likes her Ned too. Fast forward, this is getting boring, I talked to our tenant when the lease in Shreveport ran out and she agreed to end her lease early and the week after Labor Day

Headed HOME!

Headed HOME!

we moved ourselves back to Dallas to our wonderful Lakewood neighborhood and town home. After many interviews I accepted a job at BirthChoice a pregnancy center for woman with the stipulation I needed to be trained to do limited ultrasounds  on our clients who were trying to decide what choice to make with their unplanned pregnancies. We offer support for numerous needs and try to love these woman so they can love their babies. It is a fairly new center with 2 locations, diamonds in the rough. We are striving to become centers of excellence. We have our hands full,  lots of needs most urgent besides funds are volunteers, especially nurses to do ultrasounds. We have both been working extremely hard and here it is the Christmas countdown and Ned just mailed our cards as I type this last sentence of our Christmas letter.

We wish you a blessed Christmas celebrating the birthday of our Lord and Savior, Jesus.  Next year we will try to get our letter in the card.

Love,      Sharon, Ned, Janie the little dog, and Bravo the cat

White Rock Navy 2012 – Deja vu all over again

It’s deja vu all over again. When I decided to get into paddling in 2009 it was against all odds. I was out of work, didn’t have a boat, and needed to get in shape. I asked everyone for their prayers and they worked. I landed a job, moved to Shreveport, and completed two races. But, the job in Shreport turned out to be a dud so I became unemployed again and, frankly, let the old waistline grow a bit.

Now it’s 2012. I still have the boat but I’m back in Dallas and starting to get the old body back in shape. The wonderful news is that I’m employed at what I think will be a great job. Those prayers everyone sent up did the trick again. Special thanks to my nieces and nephews John Henry, Juliana, Hannah, and Sam for remembering me every day.

What’s the plan for kayaking in 2012? Honestly I’m not sure. I’d really like to complete another long distance race. Christian, Jim (my friend from St. Louis), and John (my paddling buddy from Shreveport) are planning on another Tour du Teche. I don’t know if I’ll be with them but I’m keeping it in mind as a goal; it’s something I need to keep myself motivated and doing those push-ups and sit-ups all the time. The immediate goal, though, is to find an apartment here in Dallas and get my bride moved back so we can be together. As soon as that’s done, and the weather warms a little, I’ll be back to let you know when and where the White Rock Navy will be racing for 2012.

Merry Christmas……

I haven’t blogged for a few months now and figured I’d take a few minutes to catch up and wish everyone a belated merry Christmas and a great 2012.

If you recall, we went through a period where I was living in Shreveport and Sharon was in Dallas trying to sell the house. Well, we’ve reversed that and I’m now in Dallas working a contract job while she’s in Shreveport. Unfortunately we never were able to sell the house so it’s rented and I’m just a pilgrim living in other rented quarters! At any rate, I’m busy with a short term job at General Electric and still looking for something permanent – if such a thing exists.

On the boating front, well, not much going on. Christian and my two paddling friends from Shreveport want to try the Tour du Teche again in 2012 and I hope my employment situation will allow me that luxury. We’ll just have to be faithful and see how it goes. I did receive a link to a video from one of the guys I met on the MR340 and saw again on the TdT that I thought you might get a kick out of. It’s about four races. The first is the Au Sable Marathon (two person canoes only), the Tour du Teche (if you look closely at about the 4 minute mark you’ll see me in the red and white shirt on the left of the picture, getting into my boat), the Texas Water Safari (too tough for MY old bones), and the MR340. Great video – gives you a real idea of what these are all about. And pay attention to the Tour du Teche segment. If I do get down to Cajun Country in 2012 I expect to see some of you along the banks of the bayou cheering me on!

Ned

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=amGbDINnWhg

PS: The shot of all the ‘gators sleeping on the bank was not shot in Louisiana. It’s actually from Florida – but it sure looks cool!

I’ve run aground – again

A few weeks ago I went out early and was in the boat paddling down the bayou toward the lake. It was 5:00 am and pretty spooky out there so early. Every forty or fifty feet I’d hear a big splash as a nutria jumped into the water. Didn’t see any gators but it was still a little unnerving. When I get to the end of the bayou, where it enters the lake, I paddled smartly out toward open water and – stopped about 100 feet into the lake. Ran aground in the mud. It’s been really dry in this part of the country and the lake level is down; really down if a kayak can’t get through. I backed up the boat and went a different direction and, stopped again. I tried this another tree times without success and finally decided to push ahead. At first I thought I’d get out of the boat and pull it but realized the mud below me was so soft I’d sink up to my neck. Couldn’t push with the paddle because it just sank into the gook. So, I had to reach out with it, stab it deep into the muck, and PULL! It took me about twenty minutes, and I was afraid I’d be stuck out there, waiting for sunlight and a boat to come by and help me. I finally did get through it all and in to open water where I had a great workout. That was with the boating. Unfortunately I ran aground with my life last week. The job I took in Shreveport is over and I’ll be looking for another position.  I won’t go into all the details here except to say it’s another example of a company that want’s change but won’t do what it takes to get there. I didn’t want to even write this post. It’s too depressing. But, most of you were with me when I was out of work the last time and started this thing so, here we go again. I’ll tell  you that at this point I’d like to turn the boat around, go back up the bayou, and get out. Can’t though. I guess I’ll just reach out and plant the paddle – and PULL. Say a little prayer for me, will you? They really helped last time and I’m counting on them again.

May the Force be with Roux – Part Deux

A couple of notes before we start this post. First off some bad news. A few weeks ago, while training for a race on the Kaw River in Kansas, Dr. Ryan Moore drowned at a low-head dam near Topeka. Now, this was a guy who knew what he was doing out there, not a rookie of any sort. But he was needlessly killed by an outdated dam that could easily be fixed – if the city had the political will to do so. This is the third death in the last four years and the paddling community is trying to let the city fathers know they need to act. Please click on over to their facebook site, at http://www.facebook.com/FixtheTopekaDam and “like” their page. It  will show your support and I’d appreciate it. Now that you’ve liked the facebook page, check out their website, at  https://sites.google.com/site/fixthetopekadam/ and sign the petition.

On a brighter note, my friend Jim Herries will be paddling in the Race for the Rivers on August 27. It will be 41 miles from Washington, Mo. to St. Charles. This is his first paddling marathon and I know he’ll do great. If you’re up in that part of the world swing on over to the finish line for the fun.

We’re headed south in a few weeks. Six of us will be racing, and we’ll have five or six others coming along as ground crew. There’s still room for more, though, if you’d like to join us.

OK, now on to part 2. If you can’t relate to good food and good fun you should probably stop here and just forget the idea of coming to Louisiana. But if you’re still interested, read on Cher!

Let’s talk about transforming yourself a little. Personal improvement is a good thing, right? So, grab a cold beverage and let’s get started with a little test to see how close you are to fitting in.

Can you speak French? Neither can most people. Never fear, just pick up a few local phrases.
Have you have acquired the ability to peel at least 20 crawfish per minute? That’s CPM, by the way. You get extra points if you suck the heads.
Do you sprinkle your conversations with words like keeyaw and cher?
Are you able to cook a passable gumbo, etoufee, and jambalaya?
Do you own a pair of white rubber shrimp boots? These are Cajun Reebocks, the Louisiana equal to the Texas cowboy boot. Gotta get a pair while you’re down here.

These are the minimum requirements. Elsewhere on the web I found a few “you might be a Cajun if” quotes.. Study these carefully and have a good time.

You might be a Cajun if….

  • Your high school band’s rendition of the National Anthem begins with, “Jambalaya, Crawfish Pie, and File Gumbo”
  • You consider Breaux Bridge the Capital of the State, & Lafayette the Capital of the Nation.
  • You think way up North is Shreverport.
  • You think “Wild Kingdom” belongs on the cooking channel.
  • You think boudin, hogshead cheese, and a Bud is a bland diet.
  • You take a bite of 5-alarm chili and reach for the Tabasco.
  • You have an “envie” for something instead of a craving.
  • You speak English but some words come out in Cajun.
  • You pass up a trip to Europe to go to the Crawfish Festival in Breaux Bridge.
  • Your children’s favorite bedtime story begins with “Clovis the Crawfish…”
  • Your school teaches the four basic food groups as “Boiled seafood, broiled seafood, fried seafood, and beer”
  • Asked to name the four seasons & your reply is, “onions, celery, bell pepper, and garlic”
  • You are asked to name the “Fab Four” and your respond, “Paul Prudhomme, John Folse, Justin Wilson, and Vernon Rogers.”
  • You let your black coffee cool and find that it has jellied.
  • You describe a yard of boudin and cracklins as “breakfast”
  • Your mama announces each morning, “Well, I’ve got the rice cooking, what will we have for supper?”
  • You refer to Louisiana winters as “Gumbo Weather.”
  • You get a disappointed look from your wife & describe it as “She passed me them pair of eyes”
  • You greet your long lost friend at the Lafayette International Airport with “AAAAAAAYYYYYYYYEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!”
  • You don’t know the real names of your friends, only their nicknames.
  • You give up Tobasco & hot sauce up for Lent.
  • Your son brings home his future wife and you ask “Who’s your mama, is she Catholic, & can she make a roux?”
  • You can look at a rice field and tell how much gravy it will take to cover the rice.
  • When eating in a Mexican Restaurant you think the hot taco dip is a soup & drink it.
  • AND at least once a day in conversation you say “Mais cher, I like that, me.”

OK, now you’re ready ot get started down here. I can’t wait to head south – I hope some of you will join us because there’s still room!

Ned