Category Archives: Life Encompasses Me

Happy New Year!

It’s 2014, did you hear?  It’s kind of not been real to me because we didn’t watch any ball drop on New Year’s eve, we forgot to watch the Rose Parade on New Year’s day, until it was in reruns in the afternoon.  Everything just kind of went into a tunnel for us… we’ll call it the stomach flu tunnel.

It started on the 28th of December, the day we went to LegoLand.  The times we’ve gone to Legoland with William this past year have been focused on visiting their amazing waterpark, so this time we went just to see the rest of the park.  Not surprising that it was all decked out for Christmas, even Miniature LegoLand.  So much fun!  William loved seeing LegoLand Santa and their Frosty the Snowman.  He adores Miniature Land.  He loved running on their fake grass.  We had such a great time!

 

We got home and put him to bed for the night and he woke an hour later, restless.  After ten minutes of him rolling around, I sent Tony in to see what was bothering him.  After a few minutes, William threw up all over Tony’s arm…and that’s where the stomach flu tunnel started.  William threw up 6, maybe 7 times that night.  I lost count and he became a pro at getting it into a bucket (instead of all over his bed sheets, or Tony, or the floor, or me, for instance).   The next day, he seemed to be feeling a bit better, but then on the 30th, he had a relapse with the vomiting and then the diarrhea started. On the 30th, Tony also came down with it.  I had a bit of nausea but, in all honesty, it might have just been in response to all the nasty smells in the house.

So New Year’s eve found us all on puke watch.  New Year’s day found us gingerly trying various bland foods.  It really wasn’t until yesterday, the 3rd of January, that we all started feeling somewhat normal again.

The sickness aside, it really was nice to have all that time with family.  Tony’s job, since he’s no longer working in the commodity business, alloted him more holiday time than he’s had in years.  William and I are continuing to nurse, so that meant a third Christmas filled with sweet nursing snuggles.  I was able to organize some of the areas in the house that have amassed clutter.  The clutter is kind of overwhelming, and I guess that’s kind of an ongoing project that I don’t want to give up on this year.  I learned early on when lap swimming that even the slowest stroke is faster than stopping at each end of the pool, and that’s something that I’ve tried to apply to my life… just keep swimming, even if you’re going at it slowly.

What is something you’re planning to work on this year?

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Filed under Best Husband, I did something Special, I have Family, Life Encompasses Me, Our Kid is Cute

Open it Already!

The box sat there since Christmas.  Partially because we’ve been so busy lately, the other reason is partially due to intimidation.  The box is so big, it’s practically the size of a person.  It has been occupying a chair at the table all this time.  To be honest, it was one of those things I hesitated buying because, how often would we use it, I wondered?

A food dehydrator is kind of a silly thing, isn’t it?  Especially when Sprouts Market and Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s are so abundant around here.  But I did it anyway, as a gift to Tony, because we both really like dried fruit and banana chips.

The other night for the first time, I opened the box and inspected the thing.  The small pamphlet that came with it wasn’t intimidating at all.  Just a simple chart with various foods and recommended drying times, depending on your preference of soft or crunchy.

Since I had some apples that were getting on in years, I sliced them up, dipped them in lemon and sprinkled them with cinnamon.  Then I placed them in the thing, plugged it in and left it alone until the next night.  The house smelled great and I eyeballed them when i got home from work and tasted one.

It was amazingly good.  Tony tried one and proclaimed it delicious.  William asked for one, and he “Mmmm-mmmmm’ed” his way around the house for about five minutes and came back and requested “more.”  Well then.

Last night I sliced up some pineapple and did the same thing.  And the same thing happened.  I love that it’s so simple and so nutritious, and what a great “take along” snack idea!

Sometimes, I guess the hardest, yet also the most rewarding thing to do is simply take something out of the box and start the project.

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Turkey and Stuff

Our Thanksgiving this year was perfect, awesome really, and I enjoyed it immensely. I’m so grateful for Tony’s family who has embraced me in their hearts and accepted me, quirks and all. The four days off from work were really nice, too, and spending them in my mom’s company made it a double blessing for me.

My contribution to the Thanksgiving feast this year was my standard sweet potato souffle. It’s an easy enough recipe that either Tony or I can make it, depending on who has the time available. Last year, he did it, this year I did it. This year I also contributed a green bean casserole quiche. It is different enough from the standard green bean casserole (which my sister-in-law makes) that it didn’t feel like we had doubled up on green bean things. Of course, my favorite dish of all the food was the turkey, but then I’m all about the turkey even when it isn’t Thanksgiving! In fact, I used money that was given to me for my birthday to purchase a broiler oven (like this one) so that I can easily make turkeys all year round if I want!

The hours at work are long, some days I’m there before 7am and usually leave after 5pm. Once work is over, the evening workout at the gym is done and dinner is eaten, there seems to be just enough time to prepare for the next day and get ready for bed. Under the heading of “Actions speak louder than words” I know my contributions at work are appreciated, because my boss relocated and now travels to the corporate office here in California a few days each month. This week he was here for three days. He spent one of the evenings he was here baking his seasonal batch of pumpkin bread just because I requested it. Now THAT makes me feel pretty special!

I’m also grateful for having a trustworthy mechanic in my life. Especially since it seems like there’s always something knicky-knacky going on with my car these days. For example, one of the tires in my car picked up a screw (insert various screwed jokes here) and I simply dropped it off on my way home from work and went and got it after they had closed. That minimized the inconvenience of the whole thing for me and they patched it right up at no charge to me.

My outside swim days are over for the season and the gym’s pool is my new haunt. While I’m not thrilled about it, it does serve its purpose and I’m grateful for that. Although it does seem as if the chemical levels in that pool are consistently wrong — I notified them last night that the chlorine levels are too high given that I went home one night and my swimsuit faded from black to grey in 24 hours and then last night I got home and discovered that the reason my skin was burning like I’d just been sunburned was because of a first degree chlorine burn (informational link) on the lower half of my body. I went back to the gym later that evening and did a “show and tell” with one of their female employees of the affected areas. She was stunned and promised to notify the gym’s manager this morning, which is good because I was uncomfortable last night feeling like I was sunburned on my butt (and elsewhere). In the whole scheme of things, though, my health is something I never, ever take for granted and I’m grateful that I am able to swim and eat and feel fantastic, healthy and strong.

My husband has already started putting up Christmas decorations on the outside of our house this week. He plans to finish it this weekend and I plan to decorate the inside of our home (as always) this weekend. We’re looking forward to that!

It should be a great weekend ahead with popcorn, hot chocolate and Christmas music playing while we decorate!

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Filed under Life Encompasses Me, Mermaid Envy, We Love to Decorate

Through My Eyes.

I just thought I’d share some pictures from my world, taken over the last couple of weeks.

Halloween decorations are down. My work area is now decorated for autumn. Simple things like this make me very happy.

I can’t believe the trees around me actually have color. I know you Easterners are all, “Not a big deal, California chickie!” But in the most mundane of places reside these trees… the parking lot at my work place.

When we had a full moon last week…

When we went to the mountains the weekend after my birthday, we were coincidentally treated to witnessing the first snow of the season. We love that.

The mountain donkey was out for a visit.

I love Arby’s Jr. Roast Beef sandwich… Tony loves their Arby-Q sandwich. We both love the bag they give it to us in.

My albino fish has a weird something or other on her tail. I have no idea what it is. Her activity level seems okay, though, and none of the other fish seem to be infected. Just the strangest thing.

This is what I’m greeted with every morning now that the weather has turned cooler. That little green spot in the middle of the picture is our birdy’s butt. Lest you think she’s actually cold, remember she has a heated perch that she’s also sitting on.

My cat, Tug, found a sun spot to rest his front paws. That made him very happy.

Happy Friday to you and hope you have a good weekend!

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Filed under Life Encompasses Me, Wordless (mostly) Post

Living Life.

On my way home from work one day last week, my car sputtered when I took off from a start. Those dratted traffic monitor lights on the freeway on ramp only make people sit in frustration before they can get on the crowded freeway and sit in frustration longer… and I totally blamed the sputtering on that, even though I knew deep down it was something more. It did it again when I was driving home from dinner later that evening and I figured it was probably the spark plugs. I took it in the shop the next morning and the tech was able to get the check engine light to come on and pull the code: spark plugs.

So they replaced them, test drove it, and it ran like a champ… for them. Except the next morning, it sputtered again when I drove it. But I couldn’t get it to duplicate when I took the tech for a drive. Of course not. He told me to try and get the check engine light to come on so they could pull the code. Made sense, rather than chasing some random problem, to try and get a specific diagnostic code. The next day came and it got worse and worse. Stop and go traffic in a sputtering car is a hoot. I finally got the check engine light to come on — yay me! They pulled the code and it said “misfiring.” Well, duh. I could have told them that. Anyway, the saga finally ended (so far) when they replaced one of the ignition wires which was testing with high resistance. They are original equipment to the car, and I guess a car who’s nearly 10 years old does need this kind of maintenance.

Don’t you just love the car talk? Anyway, so I now have my car back, minus some $$ and time and inconveniences to my husband, his dad (we borrowed his car) and myself.

Then, another day this week, I plugged my primary external hard drive into my computer after using it somewhere else. It decided that it needed to run a check disk and, in the course of it, converted several folders to files that are now not accessible. According to what I’ve read, Microsoft just decided that they were going to be lazy and didn’t want to create an unconversion option, and I found an enormous three page step-by-step fix for it, but … really? Fortunately (if there’s a “fortunate” part of it), although it converted quite a few folders, my loss is only about three weeks worth of stuff because I back up my crap on a monthly basis.

Then, the day I left my car in the shop, we all played musical cars. My husband drove his dad’s truck to work and I drove my husband’s car. That morning I took a corner in his car at the speed I would normally take it in my car, but failed to factor in the fact that an SUV drives a bit different than a sports car. As a result, my lunch bag went tumbling top over bottom in the back seat. It wouldn’t normally be an issue, except in the mornings I put my travel mug of coffee in there for the ride so I can savor it when I get to work. I just knew it was dumping all over the inside of the bag. I grabbed it, righted it, and checked. As it turns out, the suction of the heat of the coffee had created a such a strong vacuum that it sealed that mug so tight that only a drip came out.

I thought to myself, “Well, it looks like things are turning around… a bit of luck!”

If you’re looking for it, sometimes the smallest thing or just an hour in time can make all the difference in the world.

Also, I finally used my “coupons” from the deal I bought a couple weeks ago at Whole Foods market. One of the gems I found there were a novelty grape called Holiday grapes. Good heavens, but those things are amazing. I highly recommend them if you’re looking for a special food treat for yourself!

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Week of Weird.

The weird weather has continued in these parts, with a dramatic thunder and lightning storm on Saturday morning and then sun in the afternoon — as if all the morning weather drama never happened. I had chosen to sleep in that morning, and Tony, who was on his way back from the gym and was quite relieved to see that I wasn’t lap swimming at the time. Since the lightning sounded like it cracked something about 10 feet from our house (I was awake after that, for sure, although we didn’t see anything amiss), I decided it might be best to delay my swim to later that afternoon when the sun came out.

We decided to spend last Saturday morning driving around and running errands together. There are some pretty, tree-lined roads in the back part of our county and the roads curve around each other. Somewhat maddening if you’re used to a grid-like city pattern of roads, but beautiful in a simple way if you’re just out for a drive together on a rainy Saturday morning with your heads stuck out the windows of your car like a pair of oxygen deprived dogs inhaling the fresh smell of just rained on earth!

I’m not a huge follower of things like LivingSocial or Groupon, but occasionally they have a pretty good deal… like super cheap movie tickets and that awesome Amazon deal back in January. I was pretty excited when this week they had a pay $10, get $20 to spend at Whole Foods. There’s a Whole Foods pretty close to my work place (meaning I can zip over there on my lunch hour and be back at work with time to spare), and they do have bins (we all know about my affection for bin food, right?), so I was pretty tickled to get in on that deal. I love when I catch deals for things that I love.

It’s quarterly audit time at work, which means the outside auditors have come in and are sitting in the work spaces near me. As usual, the one closest to me is sick with a cold (or something, it’s always something). She sits over there and complains about how she doesn’t feel well, all the while sneezing, coughing and sniffling her nose. As usual, my immune system holds out for a week and then succumbs. It’s so frustrating to me. I’ve made mention the last two times this happened to my co-worker about this maddening pattern, but this time I made a bit of a bigger deal over it. So, they moved the ill culprit two desks over — which is great! But sadly it was too little, too late. The bug had already started settling into my immune system. I lost some pay this week because I went home sick… the whole thing just frustrates me (in case I haven’t mentioned that, like, 12 times).

This week, in case you didn’t know, there was a full moon. Or a harvest moon, the farmers call it. Or in our house, the Crazy-Ass Cat Week.

Our two alpha cats hate each other all the time, although the one just can’t comprehend the constant hate of the other and is constantly sticking his face in the other one’s face to be sure, or mosies by him, or just gets in his general vicinity when there are other, faster paths to his destination he could take. He always gets swiped or hissed at. So, lately, when he does that, I’ve taken to saying to him, “Slasher, Tug still hates you!” Slasher then looks at me with an aggrieved look on his face and goes on his way. But this week, and all weeks with a full moon, the hate is taken to an all new level with constant late night yowling, growling and feline yodeling. The hate, it’s really quite impressive.

I’m looking forward to the weekend as if it’s a reset button. To my health and to our cats’ sanity. Here’s to a new us next week!

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Filed under Health/Endo, Kid Substitutes, Life Encompasses Me, Money Hump Building

Glad That’s Over!

It’s been quite the week around here.

The heat wave we have every summer has hit in full force. Especially in our area, since we’re up near a mountain, inland, we seem to have more extreme weather than those who live more coastal. Trying to get the get the heat out of the house at night always seems to be a bit of a challenge, especially since all of our bedrooms are upstairs.

Tony’s been in and out of the dentist chair this week. He has slowly, as budget permits, been taking care of his teeth. Getting fillings replaced, and if they’re too deep, getting crowns put on. Our dentist’s office has been working with him, allowing him to make partial payments as the work goes along. Despite the insurance coverage we have, which we’ve been told is really good, co-payments for dental work beyond the basic stuff is still very expensive.

One of the nights this week, he was hit with pain that kept him awake all night in misery. We thought it may be due to having kept his temporary crown on too long while we waited for money to catch up with treatment. So, he went in the next day and had the permanent crown put on. The next day, the pain returned. He found himself in the specialist’s chair on Friday having a root canal done on the tooth above the newly crowned tooth. A tooth he’d had a crown put on but a month or two ago.

I’m always amazed how such small parts of our bodies (a tooth, a toe, a finger) can cause such life altering pain. He seems to be feeling better, based on his activity level yesterday… he helped a friend move. You have to be feeling good to do that, right?

As a bonus, one of the places that his friend needed to go for furniture was up to the mountains. A block away from the Grizzly Manor. Which meant that, as a surprise (I didn’t know they were going up there, neither did Tony, actually), Tony brought me my favorite breakfast — The Mess. I was (and am) happy about that!

On Friday night, we spontaneously participated in Chick-Fil-A’s “Dress Like a Cow, Get Free Food” promotion. We were just sitting at home, talking. Tony’s pain meds had finally worn off and he said, all sad, “Today was Chick-Fil-A’s Cow Appreciation Day.” He looked at me, I looked at him. He goes, “They don’t close until 10pm…” We hopped online and printed off some cow disguises and off we went. I figured the fact that I was wearing my jammies in public (so classy of me, although in my defense they ARE Jack jammies, and those are pretty cool!) would be hidden by the cow disguise!

Sure we had people laughing at us in the parking lot, but we got a free meal out of the whole thing — and they didn’t, because they didn’t dress up. Plus it made us laugh after a bit of a crazy week!

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Love & Loathe – Week of 03/06

Loathe:

* I still have a lingering cough from the nasty cold I caught three four weeks ago. It’s a mild cough, just annoying as all get out to me, as I have high expectations of my lungs when swimming. Someday it will go away. I think.

* The gym’s pool. I’m just holding on to the light at the end of the tunnel — one more month until our community pool is heated and I can swim outside again. One more month. One more month.

Love:

* My life right now. It’s far from perfect, but I am so thankful for what we have.

* Do you know what this is?

Yes, yes, it’s a salad. But it’s not JUST a salad. It’s an enormous (the picture doesn’t do its size justice) FREE salad that I brought home from work after a meeting. Why people don’t eat salads is beyond me, but I’m not questioning it too deeply; since it wasn’t eaten, and I didn’t want it to go to waste, I brought it home. We will surely eat it.

* Last weekend, finally, I finished straightening my back yard. It’s been in messy chaos since December (thanks to painters and fencers) and I’m so glad it’s back the way it’s supposed to be, instead of all topsy-turvy.

One Last Thing:

I’m posting a day early because my mom lands in our life tomorrow for 2 1/2 weeks. Just thinking about seeing her makes me feel excited, apprehensive and tired (can I be tired in advance?). Marathon visiting, entertaining, transporting and feeding someone who’s not normally with you everyday takes energy!

I know the next couple weeks will go way too fast and before I know it, she’ll jet on to her next destination and we’ll go back to our routines. So, I intend to fully enjoy every moment I can wring out of the next couple weeks.

Hmmm, mother-daughter relationship — let’s just hope the wringing doesn’t reach our necks!

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Weather Tricksters!

It was last Friday evening and I was gathering my stuff to go to the gym, debating in my mind whether I’d do an easy work out that night and a heavy work out in the morning, or just do a normal work out and wait until Saturday evening to go again.

Tony walked in the door and said, “It’s raining outside. They’re forecasting thunder and heavy rain for tonight.” I turned to him and replied flippantly, “Huh. Maybe we should go to the mountains…”

His eyes lit up and, a few phone calls later, miraculously, everything we were scheduled to do that weekend was able to be rescheduled and completed that Friday night.

You see, we never go to the mountains when it’s already raining (which means snow up there), but always when there’s snow in the forecast and then 99% of the time, it wimps out on us and we just go up and see dirty snow. Or no snow at all. Also known as sunshine at a higher elevation.

So it was that last Friday, it was raining heavily and halfway up our drive on the twisty mountain road, the rain that was loudly splattering on our windshield, turned to snow which gently, quietly settled for a moment before being whisked away by the windshield wipers. We were the ones making the noise at that point, shouting giddily at each other, “We tricked it! We tricked the weather!”

It was around 2am that we settled in the cabin and finally went to bed. We awakened the next morning to a world blanketed in white. I love fresh snow. When it lands in the night, it’s as if it makes nature pause — everything is so still and quiet. Before it’s touched by humans, the pure white, drifting mounds seem to go on and on. It’s so beautiful. This is the first snow we’ve seen this season, so we were reveling in the magical quality of it.

On our way to breakfast, we drove past our neighborhood donkey, she was contentedly under cover munching on her breakfast. The wicker couch on a porch, which not that long ago held a woman basking in the last rays of sunshine while reading a book, is now covered by a blue, plastic tarp. Dogs reveling in the snow were out with their humans who were alternately shoveling and laughing at their pet’s antics. People wearing snowshoes and winter clothing were briskly heading to mountain trails, replacing bicycles that were not long ago being idly pedaled down the road. Instead of people fishing alongside the bridge, birds were standing opportunistically in their place, waiting for the ice to break just enough…

Our favorite restaurant was pleasantly busy. One of the waitresses was just back from maternity leave, and it was so good to see her. We sat at the counter, as we usually do, and partook in the camaraderie that is such a part of the place.

While eating at the counter, the lady next to me took a phone call. In a low, discreet voice, she asked her caller a few questions and then left her seat for a more private spot. I asked her husband if she was a bail bond agent, he gave me an assessing look, and replied in the affirmative.

Knowing I have a magnetism for strangers telling me most anything and everything about themselves, I mentally shrugged and asked him what he did. He replied, “I’m a criminal lawyer, but I also do Federal Marshall work…” and the conversation continued on to discuss his work, his hopes for his future career, the economy, long-time restaurants in Los Angeles, and continued for another 15-20 minutes, when his wife returned to finish her meal, she joined in the conversation.

After we left, Tony said to me, “Did you find out if they’re on LinkedIn? Maybe you should network with them.” I blinked a couple times, laughed, and replied, “Nooooo?” I’m still trying to figure out if Tony thinks we’ll maybe need a bail bond agent and a criminal lawyer in our future?

After making our rounds in town, it was back to the cabin for movies and peaceful afternoon naps. Relaxing and rejuvenating.

Someone once made the statement that we move at such a fast pace in this world, we need to stop and let our soul catch up with our body.

That’s what the mountains do for us — the beauty and peace, devoid of everyday obligations, allows our souls to catch up with our bodies.

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Filed under I did something Special, I Left Home for Awhile, Life Encompasses Me, Sometimes I Sleep

Overcoming Fear, a pondering.

(Written in July of 2006, but never published.)

I’ve always thought that fear is a bad thing. That it’s an ugly thing and should be hidden and suppressed. But, I’ve learned that fear is a feeling and, as with any feeling, to suppress it often makes it the only thing you can think about. It’s interesting, though, how as human beings we find ways to work around our handicaps and still manage to get done what we need to in order to move forward.

Last year, even before I’d set a date for our wedding, I nonchalantly went off with Grace and bought my wedding dress… “just in case.” Or how with the trip to Ireland, I booked the trip and then, in order to prepare for it, I bought a few guidebooks… “just to look at.”

The other thing about fear is that’s it’s oftentimes generalized, BUT it can be a guide to determine with specificity the root of the fear. Then, and only then, can measures be taken to face that fear. You can’t face down the universe, but you can take one fear at a time and learn to know it and, by knowing it, one can either live with it or put it down.

In the last five years, I’ve faced a lot of things I never thought I’d face, made a lot of decisions I never thought I’d make. But, at the time, when I looked at my life and the level of happiness I had versus the level of happiness I knew I could have, I realized changes needed to be made.

I remember shortly after I married Tony and he moved in, I was sitting in his office/spare bedroom with him and I looked at his childhood lamp. It was placed in the corner of that room, next to the closet doors. A feeling of surreality surrounded me. It was as if I was looking down a rabbit hole and it was very far away. I simply couldn’t believe that I was living in this house, in this city, with these pets, with this man, with these things on the walls, that I’d had major surgery just a couple years before, the situation with my brother, everything was just… unreal.

I left the room, walked down the hallway, down the stairs and curled into a ball on the landing of the stairs. It was just… just too much. The human brain is not meant to comprehend so many things at one time.

Tony joined me on the landing of the stairs shortly after I left. I attempted to articulate what was going through my mind, but mostly it was just tears. He is very good at interpreting tears… to the underlying message that I was feeling overwhelmed.

***Today, February 20, 2011***
I’ve come quite a ways since then… wow, four and a half years. I’ve faced down many of the fears I had then and I process things a lot better these days. But new fears, bigger fears already had their bags packed and were ready at a moments notice to move in and replace those that had moved out.

So, when in the throes of working through fear and anxiety, I try to remember these points:

Fears are usually worse when you’re worrying about them than when you experience them. (Example: Ever dread a Monday morning meeting, and then after you attend it, it really wasn’t as bad as you thought it would be?)

I may not think or feel certain goals are attainable, but if the desire is there, it’s already within my reach.

The hardest part is making the decision to face it; then I’m just along for the ride.

Sometimes, no matter how hard it gets or how many panic attacks I have, I just need to ride it out and stay committed to my decision. Even if I feel trapped. Even if I feel as if I can’t do it. No matter what.

A problem has never been solved by worrying over it. Nor will I be the first to do so.

Sometimes you have to do something REALLY BIG, out of this world crazy to put the fear in perspective.

***
Everyone faces fear, things that overwhelm you. Things that you can’t seem to get through. What thoughts do you hold onto when processing?

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