Sunday, March 24, 2013

On Surgery, the Chicken Pox, and Birthdays

I think the timing of our anniversary trip was a good thing because we had no idea just what was waiting around the corner - like anybody ever does.  I had my surgery on Friday, Mar. 8.  I really thought it was going to be no big deal - kind of an in-and-out deal.  In fact, I told Paul that perhaps he could plan on going to work that afternoon, after getting me home from the surgery center.  Ha!  We were honestly given very little preparation about what to expect from the surgery.  I suppose I should have asked more, but assumed if there was more to tell, they would.  They did tell us to expect about an hour's recovery time.  I woke up and was in absolute agony.  It took them THREE hours to get my pain to a more manageable level.  Who knew a nose could hurt that bad?!

The weekend passed in a blur.  I was living on pain pills and bleeding so much that we had to keep gauze taped below my nose.  The worst part was the migraine-like sinus headaches.  I'm still having those.  We went to the ER on Sun. afternoon.  They gave me an IV pain drug that definitely helped - temporarily.  They they did some stuff that we found out later that this was stuff we could have done at home, saving us the $200 co-pay they squeezed out of us before we left.  Paul was not happy about that one bit.  In fact, we had been told just the opposite of what the ER docs told us (about keeping the nose dry).

That same Sunday morning we discovered that Ben had the chicken pox.  We have never had the chicken pox in our house and NOW we get them?!  Talk about timing!  The poor kid probably did not have a square inch of skin on him that didn't have a spot.  The first few days he was just miserable.  This picture was taken towards the end of that time (hence, the smile)!  He had to miss an entire week of school, which was the week before Spring Break, so he got two full weeks off!

But as word got out, our friends kicked into action, which was nothing I even expected.  We had meals brought to us, gift cards given, goodies baked - it was amazing.  All of Ben's classmates made him get well cards, which tickled him.  I felt so overwhelmed and so grateful.  I could not have done the things I needed to do that week because I was just plain miserable.  But God knew that and took care of us anyway!

And then, a new week dawned, and it was suddenly my 42nd birthday!  And I was feeling loads better.  I've still got some recovery to go and my nose is sore and gross inside, but it's nothing like what it was. 
My birthday was a nice day.  I got out of the house, ran some errands alone, and spent time perusing the jewelry counter at Younkers, which was a treat (because I can't do that with children) since I'm such a girly-girl and like everything to be "just so" when I dress and accessorize.  We went to Fuddruckers for supper, which was actually a bit of an ordeal with 8 people.  We rarely eat out anymore, so I forget how difficult something that used to be simple can be.  And then we came home and celebrated me.  It was a very, very nice day.  And I'm so pleased to be 42 because I like that number a lot better than "41"!

And, when I least expected it, my Persnickety Punctuation hat popped onto my head.  We were at Fuddruckers, ordering when I looked up at their sign and it said "Fuddrucker's" something or other.  I don't remember what it was, but they were using the apostrophe to denote possession rather than plurality, which was the context of what they were trying to say.  I literally gasped and exclaimed to the gal taking our order, "Your sign is all wrong!"  She sighed and said, "I know - I didn't write it!"  Then she asked, "Are you an English teacher?"  I replied, "No - a homeschool mom."  She nodded and said, "I should have guessed."  Ha, ha!  Meanwhile, Paul was clearing his throat and saying, "Anyway!"  I am going to get myself in real trouble one of these days, going around and correcting others.

Ok, so what else?  Oh, yes - my kitty!  Isn't she beautiful and amazing?  What's amazing is that I have her.  The morning of my birthday Paul and I were talking on the phone and he hesitantly asked me, out of the blue,

"Would you be interested in having a kitten for the house?"  Or something like that.  Actually, the conversation wound around in such a way that he told me he had narrowed down my gift to two things - a gps or a cat.  Which would I prefer?  I have always, always wanted a house cat.  I grew up with one, a big, fat calico persian named Mitze.  We got her when she was 2 and I was in the 4th grade.  She died a few months before I got married.  Paul has never been interested in having an animal in the house.  I remember it was a chore to talk him into Will's pet hamster years ago!  We've had outdoor cats, but I quickly learned to not get too attached to them because they have a tendency to run off or get killed. I've always wanted one in the house that I could curl up with, have purring on my lap - things like that.  But due to his firm no-animals-in-the-house stance, I just assumed I would have to wait until widowhood to have my kitty.  I never bugged Paul about it - I was just biding my time. 

So, this was quite the surprise.  The gps can wait - cat ownership cannot!  This had all come about because some people at church had asked me a few days earlier if I would be interested in taking a 6 month old farm kitten off their hands.  I told them no, but I had later mentioned it to Paul, thinking that maybe it would be a good idea to get an outdoor cat, to help cut down on the mice.  That's what got the wheels in his mind turning.  So, Tuesday night we went and picked up Bella.  I chose that name.  Don't you know I have to re-name everything that comes into my house?  I suppose it's good it was a she.  I was leaning towards "Larry" if it was a boy cat. 

I just love her already!  Every night she jumps into bed with me and it's like having my own personal heater and white noise machine in bed with me.  We're making great progress on her litter box training and she's only scratched the Littles a few times.  I may still get her declawed, though.  She's definitely going to get spayed soon, too.

And you know where "Bella" came from, right?  I haven't clued Paul into that yet.  I may never do that.

All right - what else?  Will had scholarship weekend this past Thurs - Sat. up at Faith.  It sounds like financially this is going to be do-able.  But there's a few other things I have to get in, paperwork, wise.  He had a blast, hanging out on campus.  Paul and I went up on Friday night for a parents dinner.  It was catered by Olive Garden (note to self: never order their lasagna - nasty!).  We were sitting there, eating and Paul commented that we have really come full circle now.  It was 23 years ago, almost to the week, since we met and started dating at Faith.  Of course, that ultimately led to Will's existence, and there we were, preparing to send him off to the very place he "started"!  Afterwards we attended a concert put on by the Faith Chorale.  It's nice to listen to for a few minutes, but I guess my tastes are just a little more low-brow than the average GARB-er.  That probably doesn't say too much about me!

Sam has the chicken pox now.  We discovered those yesterday morning.  He even has them on his lips and inside his ears.  Will and David are very nervous these days. let me tell you!

I found this week that free tickets are available for Lizzie and I to attend a ballet performance of "Snow White" next Sat.  I am so excited by that - it seems like the perfect mother/daughter outing.  And I've been waiting many, many years to get to do things like this!  But now I'm almost afraid to mention it to Lizzie in case she's all spotted by next Sat.  Actually, I really do think if anyone in this house escapes the pox, it will be her, since I'm fairly certain she was vaccinated the most recently against the chicken pox.  Will was too, but I never had him get a booster.  He's threatening to live elsewhere until the plague lifts from our house!  It would be pretty awful if he has them the weekend of Prom Alternative. 

I got new glasses.  I knew I needed a stronger bi-focal prescription.  So, I went to a regular eye dr. and then took the prescription over to America's Best for the glasses, thinking I would save money.  I spent almost $700 for 3 pairs of prescription glasses, so I'm not really seeing a savings!  I guess this is what happens when you get old and your eyes don't work as well as they used to.  It was kind of nice, though, to go pick them up after a rather traumatic visit to the ENT who took out my nose splints a week after surgery.  I haven't had any trouble at all adjusting to this new prescription, either, which has surprised me.

And lastly, I may have a potty training prodigy on my hands.  Maybe.  Not going to get too excited yet.  But Ellie is using the potty chair.  She started getting pretty insistent about it a couple of weeks ago and she has "produced" several times.  She's not even 21 months yet!  We are taking a short family vacation in Aug. and I was planning to wait until we return from that to start working with her.  And she may still be diapers then, too.  I remember, though, that Sam started showing real interest right after his 2nd birthday, but it was a full year and a half later before he was finally trained.  And I was pretty impressed by that after the slow, drawn-out progress of his older brothers when it came to potty training.  I don't know if it's related or not, but Ellie has also figured out how to disrobe.  She's gotten into the very bad habit of stripping naked in her bed and then wetting while she sleeps.  I'm getting very weary of this!

Well, that covers it all, I think.  It's been a long couple of weeks and it it's not over yet.  But there's a light at the end of the tunnel.  That's enough for now.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

All Good - Our Trip, Part 2

Sunday morning we awoke to snow and predictions of 12" by nightfall.  Hmmm...we wondered what this might mean to our day's plans.  I determined, though, that no matter what happened, I would not let it ruin my day!  While I ate breakfast (which were really, really good at this hotel - we were never hungry by lunchtime and often just skipped that meal) that morning I noted with amusement a family loading the shuttle to the airport.  They were obviously NOT used to snowy weather!  It was snowing furiously and the wind was whipping it all around.  Their two children wore only flimsy windbreakers and Mom and Dad had no coats at all.  Mom was barefoot, save for her strappy sandals.  Southerners!

While still in bed we had flipped through the channels and found a message given by Charles Stanley - we figured that could count as church.  We wanted to visit this large antique mall we heard about, so we set out in our little rented Mazda.  We found the place and waited patiently for them to open at noon.  Only, they never did!  Apparently, they believed the reports about the coming foot of snow and decided not to open.  We found our way to the Brass Armadillo instead.  We have one of those here, too, but of course, they don't have the same things.  We spent a long time and a lot of money there!  I got a few little things for the kitchen.

That evening we went to Olive Garden - that had a sign on its door informing the public they had lost their liquor license due to a violation of some code - hah!  Then we went to see "Safe Haven" at a theater.  Nice movie with a surprising twist at the end.  I really like Josh Duhamel!

And that foot of snow they were predicting?  Denver got about 4".

The next day, Monday, we headed west of Denver.  We saw gorgeous scenery like what I have up at the top.  I've seen pictures like this before, of course, but seeing it for real is just something else.  Unfortunately, all my photos have this black dot in the left corner, though - there's something wrong with my camera.  Other than that, though, I have a slew of beautiful pictures.  I got a real kick out of the trailer courts we saw as we drove up the mountains.  They just seem so incongruous in such a beautiful setting!

We spent most of the day in Georgetown, which is a quaint town of buildings all built in the mid 1800s.  The town is a functioning city, though, today.  They have all kinds of shops there and Paul and I had so much fun exploring them!  We bought all kinds of stuff.  I found a new purse at an art gallery and I found the Colorado sweatshirt I wanted to come home with.  We ate at a cute little restaurant (not cute prices, though!) called, "The Happy Cooker."  And, yes, that bothered the English lover part of me!  Just today, this railroad picture Paul wanted arrived in the mail.  There was no way we were going to be able to fit that in our luggage!

After Georgetown, we drove up into the mountains.  It was very cool!  Paul kept stopping the car every two seconds to take pictures.  We have a disgusting amount of mountain pictures that nobody in the world will be interested in (except us).  For this one, he said, "Quick, kiss me!"  I obliged, not realizing he had the camera
pointed at us!
That evening we drove back down into Denver and finally found the Downtown Aquarium, which also has a restaurant.  It smelled like fish, which actually surprised me.  It probably should not have, huh?  Anyway, we had a nice supper there.  We then did a little bit of walking in downtown Denver, which was beautiful (and cold) in the moonlight.  Our last night of vacation...sigh...

We then returned our rental car.  While we were waiting to get into the place, an ambulance drove up two cars behind us, lights flashing, wanting to get in!  The spikes were still up on the ground at the rental place so we were afraid we were going to pop the tires of the car, but they weren't going down and there was this ambulance behind us, demanding entry!  We never did find out why the rental place needed an ambulance.

We relaxed the next morning at the hotel and enjoyed our last yummy breakfast.  Then, we engaged in the arduous task of cramming everything we had bought into our luggage!  It was not easy, but we managed.

And here I am, at the airport.  Our flight wasn't officially listed as delayed, but it was.  And we discovered there is precious little seating in the Denver airport, despite its huge size.  Eventually, though, we took off and landed in Omaha - where it was snowing.

We ended up driving home in the worst snowstorm!  Will had called that morning to let us know that the weathermen had totally missed the storm.  Everyone woke up and discovered all this snow on the ground; schools were cancelled, etc.  They were cancelled the next day, too.  But I figured if Paul could manage the little tin can we had rented in the Colorado mountains, then he could surely keep our van on Interstate 80.  And he did.

I was anxious to see the kids, especially the girls.  Anytime they had been left before, it was permanent.  I felt it so important to get to them to show them that we would pick them up, just as promised.  But you know, by the time 24 hours had passed since our return, I was ready to leave again.  It was so nice to be kidless for all those days!

The trip was a total investment in our marriage.  We needed it more than most people were aware.  We needed it probably even more than we were aware!  We came home feeling refreshed, renewed, in love, relaxed, and already throwing out ideas for our next trip.  And then, a few days later we attended a wedding, which kind of kept that "mushy" feeling going.  That night Paul suggested we watch our own wedding dvd, which we haven't seen in 5 or more years.  That also helped. 

It's all been good.  I'm so glad we went.  The memories we created, the embers we stirred up will help us, I think, through the minutia of our daily lives for awhile.  That will be good.

Being married is a good, good thing.

Anniversary Trip - Part 1

This post is going to be all about our wonderful trip to Colorado.  We've been back nearly a week now, but I still feel like I'm playing catch-up from just the 5 days we were gone.  I'm hoping to get my trip pictures up on Facebook, soon, in addition to this post.  Then, I'll feel like I'm finally getting some things accomplished!

As the day approached for our departure, we were getting increasingly nervous about the ominous weather reports that predicted blizzard conditions.  Paul kept saying he wondered if it was a sign we weren't supposed to go.  I told him that the weather is not always about us, though!  We ended up leaving a few hours sooner than we had planned.  We had to swing by Paul's work and drop off his paperwork for the week.  The gals in the office had been expressing their desire to meet the girls so it worked out well to bring them by before dropping them off at Paul and Jen's house.  We dropped the girls off and we were on our way to Council Bluffs.  We stopped in Adel for lunch.  Oh, we felt flush with the money we dropped in our account and wallets before we left.  It almost felt silly to pull out only $12 for lunch!  By the time we came home, though, we hardly had any left!

By the time we got to Atlantic the snow was coming down at a clip and it was definitely snowing hard by the time we pulled into Paul's parents' driveway in Council Bluffs.  We spent the evening mostly playing with Zach and Elli who had just been officially adopted two days earlier.  I spent most of my afternoon worrying about Will who was working and would be driving home in the snow.  I felt much better when I talked with home and found he had made it home safely.  He told me to quit being "such a mom!"

Neither one of us slept well that night.  Paul always wakes in the early morning hours, thanks to his anti-seizure drug.   I was just too worried that we would oversleep and miss our flight!  I was also worried that we wouldn't be able to make it to the airport, thanks to the 8" of snow or so that blanketed the western Iowa landscape.  But Paul's dad's truck has 4 wheel drive and he was able to get us out.  And, fortunately, our flight was not delayed or cancelled - another worry of mine.  I think I worry too much!

We witnessed a near-fight on our plan, though, as we were landing in Colorado.  The guy sitting next to Paul objected to the way this lady (she was no lady, though) immediately thought she was going to barge through and get to the front of the plane before others.  Boy, did she let him have it!  Some people...

We had no idea the Denver airport was so huge!  I guess in my mind I still think - never having been there, of course - of Denver as being this western, slightly backwards, mining town!  And, actually, the whole time we were there, I never really caught a whole lot of the "western" theme.  The airport guides were dressed up kind of western, but that was it.  We had to take this train to collect our luggage and that thing must have gone 50 mph - whoosh!

We caught the shuttle to our hotel and settled into our nice, normal room.  Peace and quiet at long last!  We eventually walked over to a nearby Ruby Tuesdays for lunch.  Paul saw me admiring the advertised molten lava cake and ordered one for me that we shared - bliss!  I really need to find a recipe for that.  Then we spent way too much time trying to figure out the Denver bus and trolley system.  Our plan had been to rent a car for just one day when we would go up into the mountains.  We got so frustrated trying to figure out that dumb system that we finally just ended up renting a car for 3 days!  That's one of the best decisions we made.  We went through Hotwire, which is what we had booked our vacation through.  It was so cheap!  That decision made, we spent rest of the evening relaxing in the hot tub and watching cable tv - both treats!

The next morning we drove over to the western side of Denver, to the Cherry Creek shopping area and mall.  Ooh, boy - and I thought Jordan Creek mall here in Des Moines was fancy!  I really felt out of my element.  This was a very, very upscale mall, boasting stores like Macys, Neiman Marcus, and Norstroms.  Paul wanted me to get a new nightgown on this trip and we did find one at Macys, but I still thought $32 was a bit much to spend on a nightie!  Of course, it was much better than the $168 gowns we found at Neiman Marcus and Nordstroms!

From there, we went to a 7 block area of downtown Denver called "Antique Row."  That was fun.  I did a really bad thing at one store, though.  I still haven't told Paul, I'm so mortified that I did it.  But I'll just confess to the whole world on my blog!  We were in this one antique store and the guy had signs all over.  It drove me absolutely insane because he had words like sale's, quilt's, antique's, etc.  I finally grabbed one of his sale signs and scrawled, "An apostrophe denotes possession, not plurality!"  I then heard the clearing of a throat and the owner was looking right at me!  I'm not sure if he saw what I did or just thought I was acting suspiciously.  I looked down and what I had just done to his sign and fled the store, just absolutely mortified.  How could I have done that?  Paul didn't even know I had left.  I had to call him and tell him I was next door!  I am a wicked, wicked grammarian...

We had purchased tickets to a murder mystery theater for Sat. evening.  It was held in a restored Victorian mansion in Denver.  We walked in and were each handed a tray of billiard chips.  Now, on the website, they had said nothing about gambling - only a murder mystery dinner show!  So we were a bit mystified.  Then we realized that all the actors, in period costumes, were set up at various gambling tables.  Paul muttered to me, "What have you gotten us into?"  I had the sinking feeling that we had just wasted $80 and our evening!  Obviously, we don't gamble and have a very dim opinion of gaming establishments and those that waste their money at such.  We don't know how to play gambling games and even though the chips were free, it just didn't seem right to participate.  So we sat on a Victorian-era couch and watched everyone else participate.  I'm sure we looked odd, but that was ok, because we were sure feeling odd!  At one point, the "director" asked Paul if he would come do a small acting bit in a movie they were making, and Paul agreed.  I thought it was kind of funny that in the movie, they had Paul pretending to drink bootlegged whiskey - drinking being something else we take a dim view of!  You can't win them all, I guess.

Eventually, though, they did shepherd us upstairs to the ballroom.  I was relieved.  We had a nice dinner and then the fun started.  The actors started doing their thing and then the lights went out.  When they came back on, it was found that one of the cast members had been "murdered."  The rest of the evening was a fun time of trying to figure out "who done it."  There was lots of audience participation and it was just plain fun!  Here is a picture of taken by some of our table mates.  It's one of my favorite pictures of our whole trip:

I'm going to end this post now and continue in Part 2.