Saturday, December 31, 2011

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

...to all of you, everywhere in the blogosphere!


For last year's words belong to last year's language
And next year's words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
~T.S. Eliot, "Little Gidding"

Who knows what the New Year will bring?!
 Looking forward to all the insight, laughs and love you have to share in 2012 and beyond!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

December Warmth In Georgia

My husband had an actuarial professionalism course in Atlanta, GA earlier this month and I was more than thrilled at the chance to get away from the gray for a bit!  AND, I got to meet a fellow blogger whose stuff I just love.
 
While in Atlanta, we got to check out the Atlanta Botanical Garden.
 I'm sure by now you've figured out that pictures of plants and flowers are near and dear to me. 

We spent an evening in Olympic Park, taking in the Christmas Lights.  The Coca Cola museum next door had some fun stuff all lit up as well.  It was fun to watch the Coke bottle change colors.








We also took a walk DOWN Stone Mountain, after having taken the tram to the top.  It was 74 degrees that day and the weatherman was joking about Atlanta becoming Miami.  We didn't mind at all!

As the sun set, we appreciated again how much those in the South really do enjoy their Christmas lights.  Stone Mountain park completely lit up!


Our little taste of Christmas in Dixie showed us just how different things are in the South, especially for the holidays.  It seemed as if we were being told 'Merry Christmas' by smiling people everywhere we went.  Everything was so done up!  There was music and shows to take in.  We didn't have to huddle under cover or run through the rain.  We were able to be out and enjoying the sights.  It was such a fun thing for my husband and I to experience.

AND yet, I have to say that meeting Robin over at YOUR DAILY DOSE was probably the biggest highlight and the warmest moment of the trip for me.  She was just as I had imagined and more.  Robin is bubbly and bright and fun and oh so warm and welcoming, despite everything she goes through health-wise.  I know lately she hasn't posted much, but do read her when she manages a post.  It's well worth it!

Now I am looking forward to meeting more bloggers IRL more than ever.  After seeing and talking with Robin, I'm just sure that it would be a wonderful experience. (No, it won't make me post photos of myself or more specific information about me here.  I have a convicted felon mother who has threatened my husband with a 357.  She knows where I live and gets all worked up when anybody talks about me.  Reading about me would probably send her over the edge.  Enough said.) 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The 'No Hurl Guarantee'

As I set to work cleaning up the holiday explosion that descended upon our household (-yes steam cleaning is in order), I am remembering what my good friend and I had an epic laugh over yesterday: an incident from Christmas past that made me decide to post that story here.  It's all about vomit.  You've been warned.  You're welcome.

As a teenager, my friend and I came up with many ways to communicate in our own sort of short hand.  We could utter the word 'Dude' with different voice inflections and completely understand one another perfectly.  We had our own little language going without much effort at all.  We just got each other.  Still do to this day.  This was before most people had cell phones, so I guess this was our version of text messaging.

At one point, while at a local fair enjoying the rides, my friend and I had the fortune of getting to stay on the zipper ride for six consecutive turns. 
Photo credit:  sodahead.com
There was no line and the guy running it thought it was pretty funny to watch us keep screaming.  It was great but there did come a point when we weren't feeling quite so fabulous.  It was then that the term, 'no hurl guarantee' was coined.  My friend turned to me and let me know that although she was ready to be done with this ride, she could still give me the 'no hurl guarantee'.  We did make it off the ride without losing our lunch and went home for a few hours to rest, only to return to the fair to ride some more later that night and never did get sick over it.  

Cut to December 26th, 2004.  Of course my friend and I are still enjoying our own little world in so many ways and we keep our party goin' for at least another day after Christmas so as to avoid that whole Christmas letdown and all.  Plus we really dig getting discounted goods like wrapping paper, cards, decorations, etc. on the cheap so we can open up the stuff next year and be all 'ooooh look at all this pretty stuff I got last year- wasn't I clever?'  And nobody will even know it's last years stuff....

Anyway, we're out on our annual day after Christmas shopping and we do our usual thing by indulging in a trip to a buffet restaurant for a midday break.  Now here is where I should let you in on the fact that my friend and I love the IDEA of a buffet.  But neither one of us is particularly good at pacing ourselves and getting our money's worth at these establishments.  Still, we do it every so often and manage whatever damage we can with eyes that are bigger than our stomachs.

So y'all have been forewarned that this story has something to do with vomit.  You can kind of see the writing on the wall.  But wait, it's better than that...

My friend and I get done with our lunch and prepare to move on to round two of our shopping extravaganza.  This is the point where we start to hit up the smaller shops to find some truly unique stuff.  This is where I should let you in on a few key details: this particular year we had brought along my friends mother for the first time,  the place we go for our special shopping day is about an hour and a half north of where we live- where there are much smaller crowds and usually more leftover stuff to chose from, we are traveling in my brand new car.

So... we all pile back into the car to commence shopping.  We all have VERY full stomachs.  We don't make it more than a few blocks down the road before my friend declares that she is not feeling well and CANNOT issue the 'no hurl guarantee'.  I KNOW what this means.  And I am scrambling like mad to get her somewhere that she can get OUT of the car.  But there is a problem.  We are in the middle of a four lane highway in a double left turn lane when this unfortunate moment arrives.  My friend is in the back seat.  I hear her desperately emptying out a plastic shopping bag.  The next thing I know, my friend is indeed hurling into said shopping bag.  You'd think it couldn't get much worse, but nooooo...this is the point where all hell breaks loose.  Just as my friend commences with loosing it, I am able to make the left turn into a parking lot.    BUT, there's an old guy with a walker going across the parking lot right in front of us so I can't get out of the way and into a space to stop all this action as fast as I would like to.  AND this is also when I get to find out that if my friends mom is around someone who loses their lunch, she loses hers too.  Cue both my friend and her mom jumping out of the vehicle as I pull into the first available spot.  This is just the moment when my friend also realizes something very bad and cries out in a forlorn voice that there is 'a HOLE  in it!'- meaning her bag that she used to be sick in is defective and has resulted in a complete failure of her attempt to keep herself and my new car clean.  This is also the moment when I realize that I have apparently inadvertently cut some other driver off from the parking space that we are now occupying.  And that person is mad and yelling at me, until they actually SEE the spectacle that is going on and proceed to also get sick themselves in a nearby garden.  NO, I AM NOT FRIGGING KIDDING, HERE! 

Yes, there is a lot of upholstery cleaner, a new outfit, and so much other ridiculousness that follows but I won't bore you or make you sicker with those details.  Let's just say that nobody can ever claim that I myself cannot give the 'no hurl guarantee' as I'm about the only one who didn't lose it that day.  But I HAVE had so many literally painful belly laughs over this incident that have contributed to the strength of my super strong stomach.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

What I'm Giving To Friends And Neighbors For Christmas

...Or, how to use storm debris for the greater good.

(Yup, this was the post that I meant to get up before I traipsed off to Atlanta, GA for a week of above average warm temperatures and sunshine and getting to meet a blogger buddy IRL, but more about that later...)

Here's the deal.  As a kid I lived in a fairly poor family.  And we got pretty creative when it came to giving gifts for Christmas.  Looking back on that time now, I'm grateful for the things I learned from that experience. 

My mother would save up to get some parts for this particular project, but most of it is recycled or found stuff.  With a little time and your own artistic interpretation, the result is something like this:

A lovely live centerpiece that will last throughout the season!

Around here, we almost always get a good storm at Thanksgiving time.  So afterwards it's not too hard to find greenery that can be used for this project.  Since I am allergic, I use gloves when I go hunting around for this stuff and any time I am handling the greens during this project. 

If you want to try this yourself, you will also need:
 Photo credit: shroomery.org
 Those little plastic containers that lunch meat comes in or you can buy as sets with lids.
Photo credit: floraldesigninstitute.com
Some floral foam called wet foam or oasis, that you soak in water for several hours prior to the start of the project.  This is the most expensive part.  I used coupons at my local Michaels craft store a couple weeks in a row to get this stuff.

You will also need an icepick, a sharp knife, small scissors, some wire- preferably green colored, some floral picks or other glittery doo-dads and some taper candles.  I had several taper candles of different colors just hanging around the house that I used.

When I know I am about to make these, I set my wet foam in a sink full of water.  Just float them on top and they will sink as they fill up with water.  Do this several hours ahead of time.  Then head out to a park or street that has some greens you would like to use.  I only take the ones that are on public property and have been blown down.  I do not recommend strategic trimming as local law enforcement might frown on that! 

So once you have a good amount of greens to choose from- it takes me about a garbage bag full to make a half dozen or so of these centerpieces, it's a good idea to clip apart the pieces from the branches and group them into about three sizes- your large base pieces, some medium ones and then the smaller pieces that will be used to fill in at the top near the candle.  

The size that the wet foam comes in is about the size of a brick and I divided it into 3 equal parts that were just right for fitting inside the plastic containers.  Do this by cutting with a sharp knife when the foam is full of water.  When the wet foam pieces are inside the containers, you are ready to start the artsy part!

For extra stability and balance of the piece, it is good to put the first larger greens into the foam by actually running them through the plastic container.  You need to be careful to keep them at the top of the plastic container and not allow too big of holes to accomplish this so that the water in the foam won't end up leaking all over peoples tables or mantles later.  I do this by using an icepick to poke two holes down each long side and one on each end of the plastic container and then making the holes big enough to let the greens through with a little snip of the scissors if needed.


Next, you get to just pretty much go crazy with your design.  I did mine with an oval shape, but you can do it more round or just totally asymmetrical if you want. The only things that I keep conscious of at this point is that I want the design to eventually work down to smaller pieces at the top and that I want to leave space in the middle of the foam for my candle.  Just keep working away at it by adding greens into that foam.


When you have the foam pretty much covered, it's time to add your candle so you can be sure that it fits.  I take the bottom of the candle down a bit and 'sharpen' it up so it stays steady in the foam.  I do this by whittling it down some with the sharp knife.  The candle doesn't have to be put in the center as I did, either.


Now, it's time to add the last pieces of greenery to cover up the rest of the foam and even things out as you wish. 

Lastly, you get to add those sparkly things that finish off the piece.  This is where the green wire comes in.  That way you don't have to be too careful about hiding the wire.  It pretty much disappears into the greenery.


You could even add a bow or other goodies.  Sometimes I even put the finished project into a pretty shallow bowl if I want to add a more lasting gift along with the decoration.  Your friends, neighbors, coworkers, or even boss will love these and if you're not allergic as I am, you could even keep one for yourself!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Wreath Adventures

Last summer when a local nursery had a Groupon deal going, I knew exactly what I was going to do with my pay $20 and get $40 worth of goods coupon.  I even got it for $5 off.  So I was feeling really good about my plans to get a special wreath this year.  You know, not just the 'there's a red ribbon on it so it's festive, right?' kind of wreath.  Not just the one I usually pick up at the local Fred Meyer store.

My plans were finally put into motion last week when I went and picked out my most fancy ever wreath.  It has pretty decorations and a really nice bow that hasn't been smashed.  It even has a light dusting of flocking on it- just the kind of snow I could love.  I was pretty excited about this wreath.

I brought it home and put it up on the door with the usual hook that I always use.

The wreath promptly fell off the door.

OK, so my super duper wreath was way too heavy for my old hook.

Off to the store to find a better way to hang it.

I bought one of these.  I knew it would be able to hold my very heavy wreath.
Photo credit: farmersmarketonline.com

Except that my door doesn't allow for enough space for the wreath holder...  So I could have the wreath, but I wouldn't be able to actually close the door.  Definitely didn't work.

Next try:  find the biggest hook I could.  Put that on the door.  Add the wreath, and PRAY.

Meanwhile I'm discovering that the beautiful dusting of snow on the wreath ends up all over me every time I handle it.  Oh, and I'm clearly very allergic to whatever that snowy stuff is- I've heard it has fiber glass or something in it- because I have nice welts on my hands and lower arms from it.

So anyway, I do manage to get the wreath to stay up on the door.  Halleluiah!

Time for a final dusting off of that 'snowy' stuff that is all over the door from all of my trials and tribulations since the wreath is going to be sticking around this time. 

Oh crap, my door is cedar and now I have a nice deep splinter.  Yeah, I dug at it for a while with a needle and it's still in there.

So now I have a band aid with some bag balm on my finger.

And way more of a story than I ever needed.

Oh, and a really pretty wreath...

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Humble Pie


I know I blog an awful lot about places that my husband and I travel to.  You might think that means that we never encounter money issues.  The truth would be far from that.  Oh yes, we have our fair share of budgeting woes just like everyone else, as I mentioned in my last blog entry at: http://ayellowroseoftexas.blogspot.com/2011/11/why-we-maybe-dont-take-our-sweet.html
Sure, most of the time our finances can cover most things we need and even some things we want.  With a lot of hard work, especially on the part of my husband, and some pretty tight purse strings we do what neither of our families ever taught us to do.  We live below our means almost all the time. 
We save and scrimp and do special things only for special occasions.  We rarely ever eat at restaurants.  We don't have fancy cell phones.  Entertainment is kept to what we can actually, truly afford.  We don't buy the latest or greatest.  Electronics in our house are almost always way out of date (-like the one and only computer that we have ever owned is this laptop, circa 2007 that I get to write these blog entries on and read others wonderful stuff for which I am so grateful!)  Our one caveat is travel.  We would rather do that than anything else, so we budget accordingly.
And yet, there is my husband who as I have mentioned before is ultra generous- sometimes to a fault.  Sometimes until it hurts a bit in the household budget. 
Well.....
Last year we decided it was finally time for my husband to have a new car.  He was driving a 14 year old Ford Escort.  It was starting to nickel and dime us in the form of $300-$500 repairs every few months and some more major stuff was clearly on the way.  Neither my husband or I are handy enough with cars and we don't have any car fix-it type friends.  So, we decided to sell the car. 
A funny thing happened while I was in the process of putting it on Craigslist.  A very good friend told me that she would really like to buy it.  She was truly in need of a car and has friends that could help her fix it up.  But of course, she had no money.  You guessed it.  This is where my husbands generosity comes in.  My oldest friend and my husband worked out a deal.  She would make small payments to us for the next year and be finished with them by September 2011. 
Fast forward 6 months, and suddenly my friend can't continue to make even small payments to us.  Her husband is very sick.  She has 4 kids.  My husband is more than happy to write off her debt.
I hold my tongue.  It's really not my business.  And...I actually agreed with my husband that it was best to forgive this debt.  My friendship is worth way more than the money and my husband and I would never have loaned it if we couldn't afford to lose it.  So we told my friend not to worry about the debt and not another word was ever said about it.
Well...
Guess who just surprised me by paying back every last dime?  My friend and her husband received a large settlement from the VA and she really felt strongly about paying us back.
So... my husbands generosity ended up making it so we would be paid back just in time to cover his over zealous generosity from last weekend. 
I gotta' admit it.  I'm a little peeved... but damn I love that man!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Why We Maybe Don't Take Our Sweet Husband Shopping With Us...

Yeah, we started the serious Christmas shopping this past weekend.  Now that Thanksgiving is actually past and we need to get things going so packages might actually get where we need them to go ON TIME this year...

So, there's only one problem.  Y'all know how sweet I've told you that my husband is.  Real thoughtful and all.  He's really tough to say no to.  Especially when he's being all thoughtful of others and those others are cute little kiddos...  Apparently, my husband thinks he's Santa.
Photo credit:  easy.com.au
And I must be the Grinch, cuz' now I have to dig into next weeks budget just to put gas in the car for this week.  Oops! 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thankful

 ...that my husband will become completely healthy next year, that he's the most patient and loving soul that anyone could ever know, that he's seen fit to spend his life with me, that he is the one person who can calm my fears, make me smile and KNOW that life is getting better all the time.

...that my nephew, Nathan, now spends his days filled with healthy activities and friends like his new Boy Scout troop, that he thinks that being the father/son team to get the most food donations to the food bank is awesome, that he is now feeling safe enough to voice his opinions about visiting his mother, that Nathan spent this Fall fishing and camping with his Dad.

...that we have cars that run pretty much as they should, a house that is well maintained thanks in part to my strong desire to move away from it, that the fences made it through last nights wind storm once again, that I never want for food- in fact have to keep my consumption of it in check, that I can afford to jack my heat up to keep out the cold damp weather and pretend that I am somewhere in the warm sun, that I have had the opportunity to visit many warm sunny places.

...that sometimes I need to experience true craziness through others only to realize that I'm grateful not to actually be that nutty myself, that I am capable of empathy for said people without having to give up my life and myself to prove it.

...that my dogs make me laugh all the time- especially when Parker proves that his nose is still working by stealing a pork chop right off a plate, that they help keep me warm, show me what unconditional love is all about, that Hailey trusts us enough even after her traumatic start in a puppy mill to literally melt in our laps, that the happy dance they do reminds me how exciting it really is that my husband and I actually do make it home every day.

...that we will have 6 adults, 5 kids, and 5 dogs here to enjoy the chaos and love that will be Thanksgiving at our house this year, that my friend is able to face her future without her husband with strength and grace and that they have chosen to spend one of his last holidays with us.

...that I never stop being amazed at what every new day brings, that life is an ever changing and wonderful adventure in this stunning and wild place that we call AMERICA!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Quick Update On My Husband

The visit with the plastic surgeon was extremely informative.  She was super nice.

I only wish the news about what's going on inside my husbands abdomen was just as nice.  But it's not, so...

There is bad news and good news.  The bad: (cuz' I like to get that over with first) he is an example of an extreme case of what happens when massive infection interferes with the natural healing process.  Basically, to quote the surgeon verbatim- "he has zero support for his core at this moment" and everything that can be herniated is herniated.  Things have even managed to move into new and different places.  Amazing, but not in a good way, dang it!

Never fear, there is the good:  this can all be fixed with a hernia specialist and she knows just who to send us to.  And when it's all said and done, my husband will have what the plastic surgeon refers to as a 'two fer'.  He needs his hernias fixed and muscle repaired so he will basically end up with a free tummy tuck (cuz' insurance is definitely on the hook for this).  Thank goodness for that!

The surgery should happen in February.  That gives me some time to figure out creative ways to keep my husband from doing too much during the healing process.  I've already put in a call to his brother so he can visit during that time and they can do fun sitting around kind of stuff...

Sunday, November 20, 2011

For My Husband, Because He So Deserves It

My husband is about the most selfless person I know.  Seriously.  I'm not just sayin' that.

So the fact that he has finally agreed to and scheduled a consultation with a plastic surgeon to deal with what he was left with after The Thing That Changed Everything is so wonderful!  This is something I have been waiting patiently for, for quite a while now.  But I know my husband is a man who doesn't need to be pushed.  He can too easily be influenced by what I want.  While he would do anything for me, quite literally, I do not ever want to make his life decisions for him.  It just wouldn't be right.

So... there are many decisions that will have to be made regarding different options for my husband and his future well-being and quality of life.  He is much too young to deal with the things he has dealt with for over 2 years now.  And we have been told by numerous doctors that he will have several options for his care when he decides to finally have his revision surgery.  Since his initial life-saving surgery happened as an emergency, things were sort of left in limbo and we were told that he should have a revision at the 18 months to 2 years mark because of unsafe long term weaknesses in his abdomen.  Here we are at 2 years 4 months and finally starting this process.  I can't really overstate how traumatic the first surgery was so I am not surprised that there has been some delay.  Neither one of us has been looking forward to any more surgery for my husband.  But now, it finally feels right to seek out an answer as to what my husband can do to be 'made whole again' as much as possible.  This will be a first step in planning that we hope will lead to a set process that will begin after the new year.

I know I am so grateful to have my husband alive.  I cannot imagine my life without him.  And so I also know that it is not really fair to feel any bitterness about all of this.  So many others have so much more to deal with in their lives.  And yet... I must admit to having a little resentment.  I am only human I suppose and seeing my husband go through pain, body changes, and uncertainty has left me a tiny bit weary I must admit.  Still, I have hope in my heart and want the best possible outcome. 

This is where all of you come in!  We will be in the office of the plastic surgeon at 12 noon tomorrow- Nov. 21st, Pacific time.  She will be planning the overall surgery and then we will work with specialists depending on what all is needed.  Please keep us in your thoughts, send us good vibes, pray for us- whatever it is that you personally do in your life when divine intervention is needed.  I find myself so badly wanting all of this to just go away.  And yet we must venture through it.  There is no other way to restore health and function for my husband.

Specifically, our needs are: help with complicated incisional hernia repair and finding the right specialist, repair and restoration of core muscle function as much as possible, eliminating scar tissue that could contribute to further intestinal blockage in the future, and avoiding secondary infection and fluid build-up that my husband experienced with the first surgery that contributed to complications and poor healing after that original surgery. And of course, for emotional healing and well being as we go through this process.  That's not asking for too much is it?!

 Photo credit: agirlandaboy.com

I know this is an important first step and can only be a good thing.  I hate to admit it, but I have grown tired of always worrying about what is going on inside my husbands abdomen, what the pains mean, why his stomach is so lumpy and uneven.  It's almost as if we've had a third party in our relationship for the past two years and I am so ready to let it go.  And yet, I am scared.  I can't imagine any more complications.  I wish we could just magically make my husband totally healthy again without having to go through anything more.  But I also know that is not reality.  And so we begin this chapter of our lives...  Help us make a wish come true!

photo credit:  lindamyshrall.hubpages.com

Monday, November 14, 2011

My Thanksgiving Wish

We've had all kinds of different Thanksgiving set ups over the years.  Some huge and some small and intimate. Sometimes we host an 'Orphan Thanksgiving' for those we know that don't really have family to go to for the holiday.  Sometimes it's just a few close friends.

While it's beautiful and relaxing to have this:

This year, I'm hoping for a lot more of this:
 
I've invited several friends with a bunch of little kids who love to help out in the kitchen and I'm already dreaming of all the little cooks with their fingers in the pots.  And all the joy that their little hearts have to share...

Gotta' go and get out those 'fancy' gold paper plates!

Friday, November 11, 2011

11-11-11/ Veterans Day

                                                
World War I – known at the time as “The Great War” - officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, in the Palace of Versailles outside the town of Versailles, France. However, fighting ceased seven months earlier when an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. For that reason, November 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars.” 

The Uniform Holiday Bill (Public Law 90-363 (82 Stat. 250)) was signed on June 28, 1968, and was intended to ensure three-day weekends for Federal employees by celebrating four national holidays on Mondays: Washington's Birthday, Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and Columbus Day. It was thought that these extended weekends would encourage travel, recreational and cultural activities and stimulate greater industrial and commercial production. Many states did not agree with this decision and continued to celebrate the holidays on their original dates.

The first Veterans Day under the new law was observed with much confusion on October 25, 1971. It was quite apparent that the commemoration of this day was a matter of historic and patriotic significance to a great number of our citizens, and so on September 20th, 1975, President Gerald R. Ford signed Public Law 94-97 (89 Stat. 479), which returned the annual observance of Veterans Day to its original date of November 11, beginning in 1978. This action supported the desires of the overwhelming majority of state legislatures, all major veterans service organizations and the American people.  -from the Department Of Veterans Affairs official website.

Isn't it cool that this day of the triple 11 is our Veterans Day this year? 

Somehow it just feels right in our busy world to stop and give thanks and think of those who have given so much...and to do it without a 3 day weekend to play and sort of forget the true meaning behind the reflection.
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