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Friday, September 28, 2012

last week 5 lbs; this week...

1/2 a lb. lost. I hit all of my exercise and calorie goals. Mostly. But my body has gone into lock down mode. It thinks I'm starving so it's holding on to everything. (You know what I mean.) I think if I keep continuosly hitting my calorie goals every day then my body will get with the program. Still, 5 1/2 pounds in 2 weeks is  pretty darn great.

My goals:

Exercise- My final goal will be 6 days a week, 30-40 minutes each day of some kind of physical activity. "Sweat every day." But it's a gradual climb. My body is not ready for 0-60 in 8 seconds. ;) This week I did 4 days, all over 30 minutes. Which is also pretty darn great. My husband watched part of the yoga video I do and then said "You can really do all of this?" Yes, I can. Yoga has been my main source of exercise so far, along with some heavy duty house cleaning this week, but I'm about to add swimming and belly dancing, too. (If the class is still available.) Does anyone know what the calorie burn rate is for actively swimming on your back?

Calories- According to my Lose It! app I can lose 2 lbs a week at 1730 calories a day. I've been trying to do a 3 day cycle- 1430, 1730, 2030- and the problem actually is not the 1430 calories day. When I started this journey I tried to mentally prepare myself to be hungry all the time. But I'm not. Now that I've been diet soda free for 3 weeks my appetite is almost non-existant. I can easily do the 1430, and I'm able to hit the 1730 but the 2030 is proving more elusive. Never though I'd have to force myself to eat more.

So, that's where I stand. Any pointers?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

this, that and the other

Wow- lovin' this weather! Fall weather is my favorite- crisp and cool and clear. The air just smells cleaner. That should be Spring, right? Except in Spring it storms a lot so around here it always smell kinda... moldy. Like wet, dead leaves. So, Fall weather is my fav. And, of course, there's Fall clothes- jeans and layers (but not too many layers) and thin sweaters, with no bulky winter coat making you feel like the Pillsbury Dough Boy. The sky is bright and blue today without the searing intensity of the Summer sun. I can walk outside without immediately breaking out into a sweat- definite plus. In fact, it's that perfect weather for reading outside that I was talking about. Well, almost. Just a little cooler would be fab because then I could take a throw blanket out to wrap up in while I read. I've mentioned my love of cocooning, nesting, swaddling, etc, yes? The weather man (who we trust to be wrong about half the time) is saying more rain is headed this way. But it's not staying long. I hope this Fall stretches out until Christmas... ok, ok Thanksgiving. Because I love Winter, too.

This past Saturday we got to throw a House Party (yes, it's supposed to be capitalized*) for our new Keurig Vue- which is utterly fantastic! (And it was FREE, my favorite word, just for being selected to show it off). I wasn't much of a coffee drinker before but there are so many varieties! The Sister and her family were our guests. We had fun trying the different flavors and giggling over our high tech coffee maker. It has a touch screen, people! I feel like one of the Jetson's here. I read somewhere that 2 cups a coffee a day is actually good for you (for now); finally, a health rule I don't mind following. ;) Also, it's so nice to be able to use all my many coffee cups, that I collect from... everywhere. It's like I knew.

House Party is this website/word of mouth marketing business that products of all types use to get the word out about new or changed products ranging from wine to tv shows to coffee makers. ;) Applicants sign up to be hosts for a party revolving around whatever the product is; to invite a certain number of guests and share the information about said product. It ususally happens around a certain event (i.e. Velvetta did one around Super Bowl one year) or holiday (Betty Crocker does a yearly cookie party at Christmas) to which the product is in some way linked. I'm not explaining this well- just go to www.houseparty.com and check it out.

Progress reports came home (via my inbox) last week. The boys are doing really good this year. All As and Bs. I can't believe 1st Quarter is already halfway done though. The boys are learning that their respective grade years are a bit more challenging than last year. I tried to tell them, which means they didn't listen. But I have absolutely no problem with telling my kids "I told you so!" so there was a small (ok, not so small) amount of satisfaction there. Awesome mom, huh?

I've left the best for last- my weekly Win to Lose update. I've been doing the calorie counting thing and trying to work out daily (yeah, not so great with that. yet.). At my second weigh in I astounded the nurse by posting a 5 pound loss!! Wheeeee! Tracey for the Win. I feel like I can tell. My pants feel looser around the hips and waist. And my bra is definitely looser. (I have no problem with that.) Got to keep it going- any words of encouragement?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

this just pisses me off

And I'm not afraid to tell you. I think I'm mentioned before (or, really, you could just figure it out if you've read more than one of my posts) but I have absolutely no problem with telling people how I feel. And I do not mean telling my kids I love them when they leave for school in the mornings. So, this is what happened today...

I went to the library to pick up a few books. I LOVE our library, but I HATE the parking lot there. It's basically a hill with the top being about 4 spaces across. It's crazy dangerous for me, since I don't have the best track record when it comes to hills. Needless to say (though I'm saying it anyway), I always park in the handicap spaces there. I don't like to feel that I'm taking advantage of my tag but I got it for a reason and that parking lot is the reason. It's a death trap. (Also, the parking lot of St. Charles Gingham's but anyway...) when I got there all the handicap spaces were full so I parked as close as I could on the less steep side of the hill and zig zagged my way up. As I approached the ramp up onto the sidewalk I noticed a car, with the driver sitting inside waiting, with no handicap tags... in MY space! So, what did I do? I marched right up that car and said "I just thought you'd like to know I actually AM handicapped. But I couldn't park here because you are!". Then I turned around and stumbled (a bit more than perhaps I normally would have. Ahem.) into the library. When I came out 5 minute later my spot was empty, waiting for its next rightful parker. Parkee. You know what I mean. So, yeah, all you non-rightful parkees, you are now on warning.  I will embarrass you in public if you try to steal a "good" spot if you have no right to it. And, seriously, if you, the driver, are just sitting in a car waiting, there is absolutely no reason you can't park further away and pull up when your passenger comes out. Unless you're the getaway driver. Then boy, would you be stupid to park illegally. And who robs a public library anyway? 

By the way, I've now figured out the answer to a question my sister asked in random conversation years before I got my handicap parking tab.  The reason stores often take up "good" spaces with parking corrals is so the handicap people don't have to walk so far to put their carts away. Target is great for this; Walmart not so much. At times I will pick a space further from the door at Walmart if it's closer to the cart corral. Because by the time I'm done hauling my ass around the behometh my legs are shaking. And I refuse to fall down in the freakin' Walmart parking lot.  

Sunday, September 16, 2012

this = awesome... and hope.

Like a friend (an awesome, wonderful, amazing, intelligent, good looking friend- just in case he reads this blog) said, this kind of news seriously makes me cry. And laugh like a loon. And picture a future with me in it. Like I said on my birthday, I never imagined I would get this far and still be...me. But with advances in medicine that are occuring all the time, like this one, I can't help but be filled with a brighter hope for the future, not only for me and fellow NF2ers but, especially, for the next generation.


New Laser Targets Brain and Spine Tumors
http://www.winthrop.org/newsroom/publications/vol21_no2_2011/page6.cfm

"...The laser allows surgeons to remove difficult-to-reach tumors in less time, with lower risk of complications, less anesthesia and a smaller possibility of damage to surrounding healthy brain and nerve issue."

Go read about it! Now!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

sunny days are here again...

Well, actually its chilly, rainy and gloomy- just the way I like it. There's something about a rainy Fall day that makes me feel all warm and cozy inside my house. We turn the heat up (just a tad) and keep the lights low. The only thing that would make it more perfect would be a fire, if we had a fireplace. (So, in our case, a fire would totally ruin my day.)

How's the "lifestyle change" going? (No, not that kind of change- it's a diet.) Well, thank you for asking- I've lost 3 lbs. I'm doing pretty good so far (pizza night killed me though. No more of those!)
I'm cycling. Not on a bike, with my calories. (Product placement alert!) I've been using this free LoseIt! app on my iPad. I can enter all my food intake, and it has a look it up feature so most of the time I don't even need to know the calories of what I'm entering, it can search them for me. Plus it has a long list of exercises and their calorie burning rate. I just select and enter how long I did it for. (And house cleaning counts as exercise! Yea- fist pump!)  This log is so much less work than a pen and paper log. It makes tracking so easy. And it's very helpful to see exactly how many calories I've already eaten. But, anyway, back to calorie cycling. According to LoseIt! to hit the weight loss I want each week I can eat 1750 calories a day. To keep my body from rebelling and going into "starvation mode" (ummm, yeah, I'm pretty sure it would because before I started I logged a "normal" day and 1750 is much, much less. I'm an emotional eater and apparently I'm always emotional.) I start day 1 at 300 calories less than recommended, so 1450 (stay with me here), then on Day 2 go to 1750, then Day 3 I  get to go up to 2050, then it starts all over again. So every 3rd day I have that "big calorie" day so my body doesn't start preparing for hibernation. It's working pretty well so far. I've mostly hit right at or close to my limit each day (except pizza night. I'm so ashamed. But it was SO GOOD.) Oh, and I've given up the drink. I've only had one soda this whole week. A Diet Dr. Pepper, which I used to like but it tasted weird this time (I'm trying very hard to convince my brain that this is true so go with it.) so I didn't want any more. (That actually is mostly true.) What am I drinking instead? Water. Lots and lots of water. So we are going through lots and lots of toilet paper. (TMI alert!) I swear I pee twice as much as I drink. That's okay though, I can use my soda money for extra TP instead. :D

Monday, September 10, 2012

i'm falling behind

In everything- housework, bills, groceries, this blog. All I want to do is curl up in bed or on the couch and watch tv or play on my ipad. I know what this means. No matter the weather, it is turning toward Fall. My brain can't be fooled. I don't have much planned for this month so it's easy to let things slide. But if I do that, if I don't fight with everything I have to just. stay. in. control. then I'll slide right into that black hole that's looming on my horizon. It happens every Fall. I fall. Into this pit of hopelessness* that just consumes me. It's a known fact in my family. When I turn down family dinner or going to get pedicures- "Oh, it's (September, October, November). Always a bad time for Tracey." I had my first surgery at 13 in October and my second at 17 in November so we just thought bad memories. Depression never crossed our minds until a few years ago when suddenly it was okay to say that word in public. Then I thought to myself ohhh, I have seasonal depression. Just make it through to Christmas and everything will be "normal" again. Except, while it happens every Autumn like clockwork, it happens other times, too. So, I guess we take away the seasonal. I have depression. I'm depressed. It starts to sound funny if you say it a few times. But it's anything but funny. It's a fight, one that never ends. But that's okay, because I'm never giving up.




* Just to totally obliterate the solemn-ness of this post: While typing, my fingers automatically typed "pit of dispair. Don't even think about trying to escape.." in a very raspy voice. ;)

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

i feel like sharing...

but I don't really have anything to say. :( I've been stuck at home with this stupid cold. Mold and ragweed are both at "high concentration" levels today so it would mean my death to go outside. Okay, so maybe that's a little (teeny, tiny) overly dramatic. But it would mean I could add itchy/watery eyes (that are already crusty anyway), runny nose, and sneezing to my nasal congestion (yes, my nose can be runny AND stuffed up at the same time- its just special that way) and hacking, phlegmy, gross tasting (I told you about the burnt snot thing, right?) cough. So not worth it. Like I'm some great outdoors person anyway. My husband once answered a magazine quiz question about me regarding my favorite thing to do outside. His answer: complain and go back inside. Awww, he really does know me. LOL The only other things would be read and nap- if the weather conditions were just right. Am I physically active or what?!
Actually with my swimming and yoga and belly dance I was getting there. Until that stupid mountain tried to kill me. But I'm mostly healed so I guess I'd better get started again. The public pools may be closed for the summer (which is stupid because it's going to be hot enough to swim for the rest of the month I bet) but I have a pass to the Rec Plex and they have an indoor pool. Time to break out the water shoes again. To help nudge me along, this Saturday I'm registering for the Lose to Win Challenge here in St. Louis. It's a 12 week weight lose program that (I have no idea how it works) helps motivate you (in some way) to lose weight and possibly win prizes. I'll tell you more about it after Saturday, when I will hopefully find out more. I'm half excited, half scared, half... wait. Okay, just scared and excited. LOL* Not scared like scary movie scared, more like fear of failure, they're gonna make me give up my diet soda scared. But I am going to keep y'all posted throughout so you can be my cheerleaders. :) But no negative comments if I derail! Positive reinforcement only, please.



*Do you think I LOL too much?

Monday, September 3, 2012

it's (almost) fall so that means...

First cold of the fall is already here! And it wasn't even September yet (though it is now- how the heck did that happen?!) It's not too, too bad but it still sucks. I think my colds always start as allergies and then settle into my chest. So I get to rattle everytime I (try to) breathe in and everything tastes like burnt snot. (Interesting sensation I just invoked, no?) But (product placement alert) Theraflu Warming (Daytime or Nightime) is my bestest cold friend. I love, love, love it and not just because it knocks me out. It really does help. (Way more than that fake NyQuil they're selling these days. And how come so many people still think it's so great? They took the good stuff out years ago!) Ahem, anyway... I guess if a cold had to hit, now was the time to do it- summer vacation is over, we're (mostly) back on school schedule, and nothing much else is happening this month, aside from the odd dentist appointment. Oh! Speaking of school, here's my kids' school pictures! Aren't they so handsome? The glare is from me taking a picture of their pictures, because I'm lazy. LOL

 
 
 
(Hmm, I seem to be stuck on center alignment now. Crap. Oh, well)
 
Guess I'd better enjoy this lull in the storm that's been my life because once October hits there's no slowing down until after Christmas!
 

 
 
 


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

swimming with Remo

Partial promise kept; here are pictures of us swimming with Remo on our vacation in St. Thomas:











 

Friday, August 24, 2012

♫happy birthday to meeee...♫

Today the sister and I turn 36! I so do not feel like a 36 year old. Well, mentally. Physically I'm a little old lady. :)

19 years ago (give or take a few weeks) I was diagnosed with NF2 (neurofibromatosis type 2). I've talked about it a lot on here and there are resources on the web where you can find more information. But in 1993 the innerwebs was not a household object because computers weren't household objects. We had to rely on the little information a doctor who had never treated an NF2 patient was able to give us. And, boy, was it scary. So scary that at 17 it totally changed my view of the world and the place I had in it. I no longer felt able to plan for my future because I no longer thought I had a future. At 17 I wasn't thinking about living until I was a little old lady, sitting in my rocker on the porch, gossiping with the sister (that's my dream now, though); I was thinking about college and careers and family. The scary things the doctor told us caused me to reevaluate not only my career dreams but even the college choices I would make that year. (With all the doctor visits I had to stay close to home and Stanford was just a little far from Missouri.)

But I'm veering off course... what this post was supposed to be about is this: when I was 17 I thought I would only get maybe 10 more years to live, that NF2 or the tumors or the surgeries to control those tumors would take my life from me before I really had a chance to live it. But here I am now, NINETEEN YEARS later, still going strong. I had my career (not the one I would have chosen but I was damn good at it.), I have a family (maybe my kids are not my blood but they are MY kids.), and I have faith that in 25-30 years my sister and I will be sitting on the porch in our rockers, gossiping about the neighbors.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

new school year

School started last Wednesday. We are all having trouble adjusting to the early morning alarm clocks. What I don't understand is this: the kids grumble and complain about getting up every morning (I sometimes have to wake K up 3 or 4 times!) and yet they also bitch and moan about bedtime. I guess I sort of get it. Kids want to stay up "late"; it's like a sign that they are more grown up. But the middle school has the earliest start time (7:20) and with two kids to get ready we have to wake up at 6:00, even if they both take their showers the night before (often only one makes it though). We have yet to get through a morning without raised voices, threats (or as I call them "promises", as in "I promise you, I will take your phone away if you don't ready for school and you know I'll do it!"), physical violance (from the kids, not me- so far) and these four words "You're late! Hurry (the fuck) up!" Yes, it's four words because I don't say "the fuck" out loud... most of the time. And we have 9 more months of this, plus Christmas Break-itis, Spring Break-itis and Summer-itis, to get through. Joy.

Last night, an hour after bedtime, S came out to say "I can't fall asleep!" (in a very pissed off voice like it was possibly our fault somehow). So, I knew I was in for a real treat this morning. And boy, was it a show. He tried to wear a shirt he has already worn twice (I'm pretty sure he hasn't done laundry in about 2 weeks). It's only the 6th day of school. I'm flattered he likes a shirt I bought for him so much but every other day? Really? After changing he actually threw himself to the floor and refused to get up until the afore-mentioned phone promise. As he started to wake up, his mood improved, though he didn't stop trying to weedle his way into a day off (puh-lease, it's the 6th day of school!). I even saw him smile, though he quickly changed it into a glare when I caught him. Hopefully I can get him to go to bed early tonight so he's not such a bitch tomorrow. Only room for one bitch in this house and right now, that's me! (I'm going to take a nap...)



P.S. Totally off subject but- I will still be uploading pictures from the awesome vacation. I'm just waiting until after I share them with the Seester.


Sunday, August 19, 2012

i'm still "here" even though i'm not here

This last 4 weeks has taken its toll on my body. So, I'll be around but not posting very frequently, as I regenerate. I will post those vacation pictures eventually, (girl) scout's honor.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

the most wonderfullest, fantabulous, awesomest time...

It really was great, y'all. I'm not saying it was perfect, because there is no such thing, but it was pretty amazing. To catch everyone up: Last week my husband, the 2 dorklets and I went to St. Thomas for our first "real" family vacation. There was no medical stuff attached, no wedding or family reunion, no work commitments- five days of just us, the sun, the water and a new place to explore. Travel to the Caribbean in August can be a real hit or miss experience because it's officially hurricane season, but I took out full trip insurance coverage and packed two big umbrellas, so, according to Tracey's Law*, we were in for blue skies, and they mostly were. Just some white clouds thrown in and the occasional gray one. I'm not going to go into massive detail about everything. Because that really would take several posts, and after TN last month I'm so over that. But the highlights shall be fully highlighted.

Where we stayed: Sugar Bay Resort and Spa on St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands. It's an all-inclusive resort with 6 different eating places (3 meals a day included!), free soda and certain alcoholic beverages (yay, pina colodas!), 3 pools, a private beach, a nature trail (with it's own mini-jurassic park thing going on- iguanas everywhere!!), and a mini-golf course. There was a shuttle that took you all over the resort, the bellhops were FANTASTIC, and we really liked it. Could have spent all 5 days just hanging out there...

Places we visited: We spent a lot of time enjoying Sugar Bay (including all day Friday) but we did get out to see the sights a couple days. On Saturday we took a guided tour of the island. We saw Drake's Seat (great view), St. Peter Mountain Great House & Botanical Gardens (too many stairs, but pretty flowers and a huge parrot enclosure, plus a pretty good view), and Mountain Top (best view ever! plus some fun touristy shopping. The so-called world famous Banana Daiquiris kinda sucked though.). Then we went to an outdoor shopping plaza that I forget the name of for lunch and retail therapy (or, in my case, alcohol therapy). We ate at this restaurant called The Fat Turtle and were introduced to the most wonderful concoction called a Walk the Plank. It's a (house specialty) blue margarita with a mango twist. Even K got a "virgin". So. freakin. good. Then we skipped out early and took a taxi back to the resort. We were supposed to go parasailing but it was too windy for it, so we hit the pool and played instead.
Sunday we went to Coral World (www.coralworldvi.com) and possibly the best time ever had on a vacation. The boys and I got to swim with Remo, a huge 400 lb sea lion who is so graceful on land and in the water, and he gives great kisses, too. Then the boys and Shawn went on an underwater Sea Trek (I'll definitely have to post this picture- they look like Storm Troopers!) where they got to walk along the floor of the ocean. They saw all sorts of aquatic life, including sharks! Almost everywhere is handicap accessible with ramps and handrails (except the Undersea Observatory Tower. you can get to the Tower (it's a pod looking thing that I can't believe hasn't been blown away!) but you can't get to the undersea part. The stairs are those circular kind, like the ones to Dumbledore's office except they don't move (now that would have been cool). While the boys trekked I wandered. I saw lemon sharks being fed, turtles playing (big turtles, could swallow my cat whole turtles- ok, maybe not my cat because he's getting a bit chunky, but a small cat would be history, if turtles ate cats.), stingrays hiding in the sand and I got to visit some lorikeets and play for a bit. (Also, the hotdogs there are grilled and like twice as long as the bun. So yummy.) There were coral reef exhibits and a "hands on" tank where you could pet some starfish. And iguanas everywhere! I'm pretty sure I didn't even make it through the whole park. Gonna have to go back some day.
After C.W. we walked next door to Coki Beach. It's a sandy beach with calm waters, so perfect for klutzy broads and so-so swimmers. The boys went snorkeling and I just played in the water. Shawn had to haul me in and out so I stayed in for as long as I could. I missed the wave action but I felt very safe swimming in the flat waters- no risk of a wave pushing me under. It really was a perfect "last day".
Coming home: We left Monday. The airport was packed and Delta's ticket network was down. We were given boarding passes to get through customs and security and promised seating assignments at the gate. Shawn checked in with them as soon as we got through to let them know I would need a wheelchair to board because I wouldn't be able to get up the stairs to board (you board staright on from the tarmac. what do they do when it rains?). I got "lifted" to the plane door. It was pretty cool actually. And guess where our seats were?! FIRST CLASS! I know it's all because of me. :D It really is like the movies, y'all. Hot towels to clean up with before dinner, blankets and pillows, and the in flight movie was The Avengers (too bad it wasn't captioned; gonna have to contact Delta about that!). It was a nice first experience to include in all of the other great first experiences we had on our trip. Once we landed in Atlanta things went downhill fast, so I'm going to pretend our trip ended there, flying over the ocean with all the leg room we needed and a not-yet-released-to-dvd movie playing on the monitors.

Pictures soon!


* Tracey's Law- if you prepare for it (and I mean really prepare, not some half-assed attempt to fool the universe), it won't happen.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

henceforth this blog shall be called...

my vacation dumping ground. :D At least for a few days (or weeks- it was a lot of vacation packed into a teeny tiny living space). I have stories about land, sea and air; weather, sea lions, walk the planks, beaches, beaches, beaches and pina colodas! Just give me some time to reacclimate myself to the real world. And, yes, I have pictures! (Geez, where's the trust? LOL)

Monday, August 6, 2012

exactly! (wait. have i used this title before?)

My friend just posted this on FB but I thought it was highly appropriate to share here. I've talked about my NF2 before and even shared my journey with you, but this will help you to quickly understand why my recent vacation was the adventure that it turned out to be.

 NF2 is caused by a lack of Merlin produced by the body to stop tumors from growing where they’re not wanted. Merlin is the body’s home-owner’s association, and without it, thugs come in and set up shop along the brain and spine.
These are benign, mostly harmless, and they’re only dangerous when they start to infringe on their neighbors rights, like those filthy hippie squatters and their VW van bringing down property rights around here.
All people with NF2 get tumors in both ear canals, which is where the cranial nerves run and why NF2 is so dangerous to hearing, vision, facial movement, and balance. But other than that, NF2 affects everyone differently; this is why it’s so hard to treat. Doctors have no set pattern to study. Tumors pop up on the lining of the brain, by the brainstem, on the spine, just hanging out. They may sit there for YEARS not bothering anybody, then decide to strap a bomb in a backpack and blow up the nearest 7-11, biologically speaking. But it’s not as simple as removing tumors as they pop up; there’s too many, for one thing. Brain surgeries take a lot out of you, and having them done repeatedly isn’t feasible. There’s also the “surgery begets surgery” axiom; once you open up a skull and expose the brain to air, something happens and you trigger tumor growth.
So what happens is, we monitor tumors with annual MRIs, which are compared to previous MRIs to check growth. Today, scans are kept digitally or, at worst, on CDs. “WHEN I WAS A KID” walking uphill through the snow both ways to the doctor, we carried our films with us. I always had to drag 3-4 years worth of giant envelopes full of scans to my appointments, and the doctor  would compare them using a pencil and paper to scale.
Nowadays doctors just click and drag. Technology is awesome.
Then it becomes a game of, ok, this tumor has grown more than this one but this one’s closer to something important…  So when an NF2 patient gets a report of “stable,” that’s the best we can get. “Come back in a year” is good also.   But an NF2 life is that annual gut-wrenching MRI waiting game. So “come back in a year” is great news.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

promise kept- vacation pictures

My injuries- the colors got washed out in the upload but you get the picture ;)
(this is actually almost a week post-fall)



official "we own you, mountain!" picture, with some pretty birds added


No, we won't share our time machine with you :) Official
"we survived the sinking of Titanic" photos



Southern Belles


Told ya so- this is a bear!


and that is an idiot blocking a bear


More pretty birds




Indian food really is good, guys



Did I leave anything out?



vacation- the end

I'm so ready to move on to other things so I'm blasting through the end of my vacation tale.

After our fall Tuesday and resting up we headed out to Mellow Mushroom for some seriously delicious pizza. And we got to meet our friend Wendy! Which was even more awesome than the pizza. (Mary will probably tell you that I thought the waiter was a cutie, which is true, but he was a horrible waiter. Being cute does not excuse poor service!) We closed the place down and they had to kick us out. Afterwards we just went back to the hotel and stayed up late gossiping.

Wednesday: A very full day. We (hold on... what did we do all day?) slept in a bit. Went to Smoky Mountain Brewery for lunch. Good burger- and the cook actually cooked it medium- but their BBQ sauce was GROSS! Glad I got it on the side. Afterwards we went to the Titanic exhibit. It's So. Freakin. Cool. You can actually touch water that is the same temp as the water the passengers went into. (It burns, it's so cold.) And we got to see the grand staircase- the one that Jack and Rose meet on at the end of the movie. We got our picture taken standing in front of it. (Ok, so we were really standing in front of a blue screen- the picture still looks awesome.) After all that walking I needed to relax so when we got back to the hotel we went swimming. Well, Mary and I did. Meg was worried about the water stinging her wounds- and it probably would have. I was mostly bruised but the few "road rashes" I had definitely did not like the chlorine. Especially in the hot tub. After getting back to the room Mary teased me that I didn't realize some guys were showing off for us. What can I say, I was all about just enjoying the water. (Being in a pool is like being weightless... and there's no real need for good balance when you're floating. I even "dance" when I'm in the pool. Ballet is my specialty but I can bust some other moves, too.) For our last night we got all spruced up and headed out for some Asian Fusion for dinner. I had Japanese. It was pretty good, a little salty. (Which is saying a lot since I generally snack on salty type foods like chips, pretzels and nuts.) Then we went for the highlight food of the trip- FUNNELCAKE! Oh, nom nom nom nom. It was made fresh (of course) and so gooooood. Next door was an old fashioned photography place so after we finished our snack we got our picture taken as true southern bells. Turned out better than I thought. We be some beautiful chicks. Another late night gossiping. Our last night. :(

Thursday: Up early for our last free breakfast at the hotel. Then loaded up the cars and said our goodbyes to Mary. Megan and I had one last thing to do. We never really gave up on our dream to see the parrots at Parrot Mountain. It's a rescue and rehabilitation place, which fits right in with Meg's philosophy. Me, I just really wanted to see and feed and pet some pretty birds. Plus, I had something to prove. That mountain did not defeat me! So, we headed back to the place of what is probably the scariest fall I've ever had. And it was every bit as scary as I remembered. But there was no way I was letting Meg brave it alone. We had some nice strangers let the employees know that we needed a ride up from the parking lot. When we got to the top of the ramp and got out I realized that the whole place was slopes like the parking lot, with a few flat places in betwen. Worried that I would again ruin the day for Megan I told the driver that I would need him to take me back down and he said the most magical words: "I can take you on a tour in the golf cart." Yes, yes, let's do that. :) We paid up and got settled in and off we went. Some of those hills were even scary in the golf cart. New appreciation for just how bad my balance really is. We got to stop for as long as we wanted at every habitat (cage just sounds so... prison-like). And the ground was flat enough that we were able to get out and feed some little birdies (Meg knows what kind they were- I just thought they were adorable). While I was feeding one, another apparently decided my head was a good place to nest or something. I didn't see it but I sure felt it. (Really wish we had gotten video or a picture of that.) The end of the tour was at the nursery (I think) where there were lots of birds being helped to... (do something I'm not sure about, heal?) But they were not flying around and they weren't tied down or caged so they must have been recovering from something. We were allowed to pet them at our own risk and boy were they quick to snap. I didn't stay long; the gift shop was calling my name. :) I wandered around a bit and ended up getting the boys some "happy birds" t-shirts. Then, while Megan went back out to spend more time with some of the birds, I ate lunch ( a really good hamburger) and rested my leg. Finally, one of the high points of the trip for sure, Meg and I got our picture taken with real parrots! The one sitting on my shoulder would NOT sit still. It kept doing its little parrot dance (you know what I mean, bobbing back and forth.) At least it didn't try to next in my hair; it was quite a bit bigger than the other one. After we were done visiting the birds we got a ride back down to our cars and said our final goodbyes. (There was an incident in the parking lot involving a total bitch but that's a story for another time.) The only thing left was the drive home. And all I can say about that is it was very long and I used my cruise control A LOT.  And it was very late FRIDAY night before I finally made it.

So, the first girl's week was a complete and total success in my opinion. Because even though my vacation tried to kill me, I had a blast and made it home in one piece.

Friday, August 3, 2012

killer vacation (part 2)

Now, where was I? So, I made it "safe and sound" to TN, we all unloaded and (literally) chilled out, then headed out to dinner. And I was introduced to the wonderful yumminess that is Indian cuisine. (Nom Nom Nom Nom). I had chicken tikka (?) and na'an bread (?) and it was so good. I took pictures. I'll try to add them when I add the leg injury pictures; the colors kind of complement each other.
Tuesday, we got up (way too) early and went for a drive through Cade's Cove. I admit the slow, windy roads put me to sleep a bit, but I was awake for most of it and it was beautiful. I saw a few deer, and a couple bears and lots of mountains. Plus, we were early enough that there wasn't much traffic. Bonus! (Yes, I have pictures. I said I'd try, so stop bugging me.) Afterwards we did lunch at McAllister's Deli- love that place! It was delicious- and I got a free shower when Mary knocked Megan's tea all over me. :) So, back to the hotel to change then Megs and I set out for Parrot Mountain (and The Garden of Eden). It really is a mountain, y'all. And their "handicap" ramp does not have handrails. We really should have taken the stairs. (That's my fault. Stairs are my kryptonite.) We pushed ourselves up the parking lot (on the side of the mountain), then pushed ourselves up the first part of the ramp. Or, I should say I pushed, while Meg pulled (she's way stronger than she looks). Then we got to the switchback and realized the 2nd half, which had been hidden by trees, was even steeper than the first half! And again, no handrails. So we were stuck; had to go up or down. We chose up and pushed on. About 2/3 of the way up my vacation REALLY tried to kill me. I was leaning pretty far forward against the slope and felt myself start to fall forward. I knew if I fell on the ramp there was no way I'd be able to get myself up again so I tried to counter it by leaning back a bit. Well, I over-balanced and started to fall BACKWARDS instead. Even though I'm like two of her, Meg would not let go of my hand when I started to fall. So, I twisted to the right to try to stop her from falling, while I was falling. I'm pretty sure that twist saved my life. Instead of landing on my head and back, I apparently landed on my right knee. That's based on evidence, not recollection. I don't remember landing, just rolling down the side of the mountain (no way am I ever calling that a handicap ramp again) after we fell. The evidence? Well, once we stopped rolling I immediately scooted over to Meg to make sure she was okay. She hit her head when we fell (hard enough that her ABI flew off into the bushes. But not hard enough to crack it; she's got a really hard head.) and scraped up her legs and arm pretty bad. I thought I came through just fine until our first "rescuer" asked "Is your leg broken?" There was a HUGE bruise and lump that had formed immediately. It was very freaky looking and scared the crap out of me. For about a minute. Then I thought "You know, that doesn't really hurt that bad. I think a broken leg would hurt a lot worse." An on-site EMT checked us over, then some burly men helped us back down the ramp to sit on the steps while we waited for the ambulance to get there. They had called for it when they thought my leg was broken and Meg might be concussed or brain-scrambled or something. Those EMTs also said it wasn't a break (it's a soft tissue injury). And they dressed Megs leg up real pretty, then sent us on our way. :) Once we calmed down a bit we headed back to the hotel to rest. But we still wanted to see the parrots so we didn't give up on the dream.

And that's going to be another day. This is exhausting, reliving my adventure. And I'm only halfway through Tuesday! I think though that after I survived falling down the mountain my vacation realized I'm just not that easy to kill.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

my vacation tried to kill me (part 1?)

Warning: Many tedious, unnecessary details included. So, this could take awhile.( oh, and I'm not proofing it at all, so assume all mistakes are typos. Feel free to comment on any you find so I can fix them. )

So, as I posted last week, I joined the M & Ms in TN for our first annual girls' week. According to Google, from St. Louis it's an approximately 9-10 hour drive. I think the furthest I've ever driven alone is maybe 3 hours so I was excited and scared to death all at the same time. I decided to leave Sunday afternoon, drive as far as I felt comfortable with, then stop for the night. The hubby and K had to actually push me out the door to leave. But once I got on the road I felt pretty good. Traffic was sparse and the cruise control helped me avoid any speed traps. I cruised along for about 2-3 hours and then.... my check engine light came on. So I pulled over to a gas station (that was 4 MILES from the exit ramp, why did they even list it?! If you're that desperate for gas or a bathroom you probably won't make it that far anyway.) and texted Shawn. His response "Do you want me to come get you?" Hell, no. I am not a wimp! I can do this. When the engine light came on the oil warning light came on briefly also so I decided to check the oil, thinking that was the problem. I have done minor "work" on my cars in the past- check and fill the oil, refill wiper fluid, change the battery (with help) etc so I was pretty sure I could handle it. Until I realized I didn't even know where the latch was to open the hood. Not the one inside the car, the one under the grill. I finally got the hood up and boy does the engine compartant of my car look clean! Too bad nothing is ever in the same place from car to car. However, a nice fatherly gentleman stopped to help me out. We tested the oil- it was perfect so we dug into my car book again and finally found the engine warning light entry (it's BURIED). Guess what it said?! Your car is still safe to drive, just have a tech check it when you can. Seriously. Why even bother putting the light there then?
An hour lost, I headed back out on the road. The rest of the evening was fairly uneventful (except a kinda weird, kinda sweet little old lady who sat down with me at dinner so she wouldn't dirty any of the other tables while waiting for her to go order. I told her I was deaf but she kept up a steady stream of conversation anyway.) I decided to stop in Nashville for the night then finish the last of the drive Monday morning. Shout out to the security guard at the rest stop who helped me find a great coupon for the Best Western off exit 219. Saved me $40! Checked in, lugged my stuff up to the 2nd floor room (on the other side of the "buuilding" from the elevator) and tried to plug my phone in to charge. Nope, not happening. Apparently at some point between St. Louis and Nashville I broke my charger. So, the first full day of my vacation involved me missing (free!) breakfast to search out a Verizon store to get a replacement. The staff at B.W were SO helpful. They even printed off directions for me. Replacement secured I left phone in room to charge while I headed out (again) in search of food. The Waffle House next to the hotel looked fairly clean and smelled pretty good (breakfast ALWAYS smells good) so in I went. I ignored the "save booths for parties of 2 or more" and plopped myself down. Guess what? You don't have to have waffles at Waffle House. I got biscuits and gravy instead and it was pretty darn good.   After all that I was still on the road by 10:00 am... Central time. Which means 11:00 at my destination. Not too, too late. And had I not got lost on the way (thanks to some truly confusing Google directions) I think I would have made it by my promised arrival of 3:00 pm. Instead I drove in circles for an extra 40 minutes, then got stuck in some extremely expletive worthy traffic. (Only because I had stopped using my a/c after the warning light came on- apparently it's connected to the cooling system. Better safe than sorry.) Finally managed to drag my sorry, sweat-soaked ass into the hotel at about... (4:30-5:00?) way after I said I'd be there. My 9-10 hour drive took... 24 hours. :) But I still beat Mary!

Hmmm, I think I'll stop there for now. Leg is getting sore (that story will be in episode 2 or 3 or 4).

Monday, July 30, 2012

back from vacation and learned a new phrase

And no it's not an expletive (though plenty of those were involved). I've been home since Friday night and I'm still recuperating. I'll fill you all in on my awesome trip as soon as I feel like sitting at my desk for that long. I'll try to include pictures, too, but no promises.
But about that new phrase I learned- it's called a "soft tissue injury" and apparently if you hit a muscle/joint/ligament (basically about any non-bone body part I think) just right it will immediately form a huge ass lump with lots of bruising and swelling and pain involved. If that lump appears on your leg just after falling down the side of a mountain people who come to your rescue are going to freak out because they think you broke something. Even after you tell them it really doesn't hurt as bad as a broken bone should, then proceed to stand up and hobble down said-mountain on said-"broken" leg (with lots of help from strong Southern gentlemen :o)  ). But now my right leg is sporting some mighty fine colors and I got some really great pictures. :) (It's still kind of burning a little- like I'm trying to over-stretch the muscle or something. I wonder at what point do I say "Maybe I should see a doctor about this after all"?)
By the way- the title of my vacation post is going to be "My vacation tried to kill me"... so stay tuned!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

fare thee well...

until we met again. This time tomorrow I will be either on the road or already sacked out at the most reputable hotel I can find on my way to Tenn. I will be back Thursday/Friday but probably recuperating through the weekend so you won't be hearing from me for awhile. (Your heart just broke a little, didn't it? Awww, I love you, too.) But once I'm back I promise to fill you in on all the excitement experienced during Tracey and the M & Ms first annual girls' week. It's gonna be an adventure!

Friday, July 20, 2012

hubby does good

I'm a voracious reader... except when I'm not. So, when Husband wants to buy me a PFNR (present for no reason), he plays it safe and buys me a book (or candy. You can't really go wrong with candy. Unless is has coconut it in it; that stuff is nasty.). It's a treat because I get most of my books from the library these days to save money. I like to read good books over and over though and that's easier if I actually have the book. Last time he came home bearing (baring?) PFNR is was two books: one that I already have and one that's actually the third in a series that I haven't read. The reason this has ended up in my blog is two-fold. First, because this is not the first time it's happened (buying a not-first book in a series I haven't read). In fact, it happens so often it's pretty much a running joke in the family. And it only gets funnier because he never does it on purpose. (Once he bought me 3 books out of a series, and guess which one he missed? But that's not his fault- the series list was upside down inside the books; last to first. Who does that?) The second reason I'm talking about this is- for missing the first two (which I'm now going to rectify) this story was actually pretty good. It's YA so the main character is a teenage girl and it involves the supernatural (because, let's face it, that's pretty much all YA is these days.) The series is called Bad Girls Don't Die and I'll try to remember to let you know how the other books compare. (But no promises on when rthat will be- I about to get super busy.)

So, you did good, hubby!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

not this day

There are dishes and laundry to be done, but not this day. The floors need to be swept and the trash needs to go out, but not this day. The furniture needs dusting and the cat litter needs changed, BUT NOT THIS DAY! Today, we are going to the pool. But not the regular old boring pool right down the road. The one that doesn't even have a diving board (ok, it does have a slide but it's short and not too exciting.) We are going to the pool that has real waterslides and an innertube river and... I don't know what else because we've never been there. But that's going to change. Today.

As soon as we get off our lazy butts and go.

Monday, July 16, 2012

crazy busy

It started today. Hair appointment at 11:00 (bye-bye gray!). While there I noticed the toenail polish on just one little toe was completely gone. Like someone crept into my room one night while I was sleeping, cackling and rubbing their hands together in mad glee (I'll get you my pretty and your little toenail, too.), poured some polish remover on it and wiped it away.  This is so not acceptable, especially during the summer. (I love my feet so they must look pretty at all times. :D )  So, I texted the Sister and we agreed to meet to get pedicures. Then it changed to lunch first, then pedicures. Then it was lunch, quick runs into various stores at the mall, then pedicures. We crammed the day full! Lunch was delish. I found my hip scarf for belly dance class. And the woman at the salon did a great job on my feet- but why do they always ask me if want my eyebrows done? I swear I'm getting a complex.
After we finished and Sister helped me to my car, wobbling all over since I was wearing salon slippers instead of real shoes- mustn't smudge the polish!, I had to come home, run interference with the brat.. I mean kids, check in with the husband and gather all my library books to take back. I had ten. And out of the ten, I had actually finished... one. I was sick and tired of looking at them though, so back they went. I'm just not in a reading mood right now. It comes and goes. (Oh and my little hoard cost me $2.80 in overdue fees because they were actually due last Thursday. The library loves me. I'm one of their biggest money sources.) On the way home I stopped and got my fingernails done. They were getting way too long, which is just an invitation to nibble on them, then they crack or break off entirely. I have to keep them short; but my "real" nails are so super thin and prone to ripping so I also have to keep them... covered/? Thickened? Protected? Whatever you want to call it. I call it looking pretty. :D

Sounds like a pretty full week, right? Let alone a day. But that's just the beginning. Tomorrow I fly up to Chicago for full brain and spine MRIs. (Send me good vibes. I can't shake this feeling that it's not going to be great news. Not bad news exactly, just not really good news. You know what I mean.) After the scans I see my neuro-oncologist (who is AWESOME!) for the results then immediately head back to the airport to fly home. Luckily an amazing friend is chauffuering me around. (Thank you, Sally- you ROCK!)

Wednesday is either going to be pool and movie day or Science Center and IMAX day. We are playing it by ear. (And then Friday is going to be whatever we don't do Wednesday day. See how that works out?)

Thursday we are having (another) sister day. The sister and I are going for massages and facials, then lunch, then... who knows. Unlike today, which was an impromptu sister day, Thursday has been planned for awhile. Of course, now we have to figure out a different place to eat lunch since we used our normal spot today.

Finally, Saturday is the niece's 1st birthday party! She's already walking, did I tell you? It's exhausting trying to keep up with her! She's really gotten the hang of it. She still falls sometimes though and I about have a heart attack each time. (I think I must have missed this phase with the nephew, or maybe they had more room?) Anyway. So, sometime this week I also have to fit in birthday shopping. What do 1 year old girls like?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

this i swear to be true

Ok. After editing that last post at least five times after originally posting it, I've decided to make an important announcement. (This is for you, Grammar Nazis.) For future reference, any and all mistakes found in my blog posts are the result of typos. Not me being a terrible speller who can barely grasp the English language or proper sentence structure. (Especially proper sentence structure.)

That is all. Good night.

Friday, July 13, 2012

just a quickie

Since I have SO MANY READERS*, I now feel obligated (in the best possible way) to give you something new to read, since it's been a couple days. So, here's an update on my life:

The rain actually freaking parted to go around us! I watched it on one of those cool weather in motion doppler radar map thingies. So, that weather-related pain I briefly mentiond (cough cough) the other day is sticking around a bit longer. I missed yoga class Wednesday and belly dance today; it's hard to do those kind of things when you are carrying a plastic bowl everywhere. (I even have one in the car. Don't believe me- ask. I'll share a picture.)

One of the boys' friends is leaving tomorrow for 2 weeks to go (something I didn't catch but didn't bother to ask him to repeat. I got the important part) so he's spending the night. S and K very quickly got into a fight that involved punches being thrown and elbows being jabbed. After their 10 minute time out (which was really so I could eat a cupcake in peace) I told them that they were being rude to their friend and the new rule for the night is: the FIRST one to throw a punch (jab an elbow, whatever) would be sent straight to bed, no room for appeal. But the other one wouldn't get in trouble at all, even if they had retaliated. I hope this makes them pause because I think they don't mind getting in trouble, as long as their brother does too. Weirdos.

And, finally, I broke off not one, but two nails this week so I really need to get my nails done. They are ripped off almost to the quick but my other nails are all too long so it just looks weird. Like I'm missing the tips of those two fingers or something.

And, on that cheerful image, hasta manana, amigos!

*ummm, that was a joke. but not in a mean way. i love my 5 readers :) (it would be 6 but i keep forgetting to share the link with my mom :D  )


Update: It was a successful ploy to get them to stop fighting! For one night, anyway. I'll take it.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

lightning sizzles

all through my shoulders and down my back. It's like a wave of electricity dancing just below my skin. If you could see it, I think it might actually be pretty. What's not so pretty- me throwing up in a plastic bowl because the pain makes me so sick to my stomach.
When it comes to pain, I'm an old pro. When you have NF2, you have pain, simple as that. One of my doctors once told me, after I complained about the headaches, "You get your head cut open twice, you're going to have headaches." ( I love that and I still quote it all the time. Obviously.) Of course, my head's been cut open more than twice now. And my headaches have become such a part of my everyday existence that they're background noise more than anything. I don't even take anything for them until they start heading toward migraine status. (I'm drugged up enough as it is.)  I've pretty much forgotten what it's like to be truly pain-free. I think it might be a coping mechanism. If I remembered the good, the bad would be that much worse. Or something like that.
The nerve pain, though, used to be just random zaps here and there. The first time it zapped through my head I literally fell on my ass, it was so unexpected. It was not pleasant. At all. But it would just happen once or twice, sporadically, then stop. And it wasn't that common of an occurance. That was 12-13 years ago. These days it's a bit more common. And the location has changed, too. More legs and feet, (sometimes arms), less head.
But this pain is different. It hums just below the surface and you can't ignore it. You can live with it at low levels, and it's not always there, but when it flares, there's not a damn thing you can do but ride it out. To be perfectly clear, I DO take medication for this, daily, and it DOES help. The flares are much less frequesnt and of shorter duration now. And I know when they are coming so I can brace myself. (It's a specific weather thing for me.) But it's a constant pain that is insidious in how it burrows in and builds, not just by a dramatic increase in the amount of pain, but by the fact that it JUST DOESN'T STOP. There's no respite, no chance to catch your breath. For that day or week or however long that specific weather pattern holds, you're just constantly living inside the pain. That's when you start throwing up in the plastic bowl. You just can't help it, no matter how much pain experience you have. Your body needs to find a release somewhere, anywhere.
Now, I'm not telling you this because I want your pity (although if you want to send me presents, that's okay with me). The weather this summer has been extreme on so many levels that I want to help people (ahem, my family) understand what I'm going through. That I'm not just being lazy or trying to "milk" it to get out of being productive. (Hello, it's summer- that's really all the excuse I need.) When you poke me in the shoulder and I flinch and say ouch, do not roll your eyes at me and say "That didn't hurt- I hardly touched you." Because one of these d ays I will brain you with something heavy. And I think I'd get away with it, too. Seriously, how do YOU know what pain I feel? Ahem. Anyway. I'm just trying to give a more accurate picture of exactly what is going on inside me when this happens. More than just "I hurt. Go to hell. Touch me again and I will kill you." This is definitely bitch-tracey's territory. And, no, it's not that time of the month! (Ass.) 
This weekend's forecast is calling for rain. That usually puts out the fire. Let it pour down on me. I'll be the one dancing in the rain. Unless it's lightning. Through with that!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

that's what i'm talking about

Yes! It finally feels like SUMMER! Emotionally. Not physically. Temp-wise it's been summer since like March. So, we baked at the ball park Sunday. Then the boys started summer camp yesterday. (The brain camp; the brawn camp is in 3 weeks.) Then today I took the boys and one of their friends, Co. (as apposed to their other C friend, Ch.), to the pool for some fun in the sun. Saturday we stayed in the water the whole time because it was just too hot to not. This time we stayed in the water the whole time because otherwise the breeze would make you shiverrrrr! Until you dried off. Then you'd have to just jump back in the water anyway to cool down from the blistering sun. When the pool closed at 5:00 (for swim lessons- go to the Rec Plex/YMCA like normal people! grumble grumble) we decided to head into McD's for some food. In our wet pool clothes. :) That is SO summer!!! And now we are lazing around in the a/c cooled house, half asleep, watching a B-horror movie (Abraham Lincoln vs the Zombies!!! or somerthing like that. And now that I've typed this out- why did I pay $1 for this at Redbox, I think it's on Netflix for free. Oops!) The only thing missing from our pefect summer picture- freshly mowed green grass (it's all dead and burnt) and a sunburn.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

take me out to the ballgame

Today was a family double header- my mom's birthday (she's a HUGE Cardinals fan- happy birthday, momma!!) AND my youngest son's choir was selected to sing God Bless America to open the game. It was the St. Louis Cardinals vs the Miami Marlins (right?) and it was so. freakin. hot. That's becoming a recurring theme this summer, isn't it?* There were 15 of us there- a mini family reunion. It was so great to see everyone. And the hot dogs were delicious. :) Kiernan's choir did a fantastic job, very professional looking in their matching shirts. I had given K a cap to wear so I was able to pick him out as they walked onto the field. (Of course, he took it off to sing and I lost him in the neon green blur of the choir crowd.) We were up on the 3rd level, actually, technically the fourth b/c we were the last 2 rows of the section. But I whopped and hollered and clapped as loud as I could when they finished singing. On the way out of the game later I asked K "I woo-hoo'd really loud after you sang; did you hear me?" and since he's my mini-me, he said "yes."

The game was... kind of boring actually. But it had a very exciting finish! It was difficult to get really involved leading up to the ninth inning because I really just wanted to lean my head on my twinny's shoulder, close my eyes and take a nap. But going into the ninth we were trailing 4-2. Then with 1 out it was 4-3. Then with 2 outs, 2 strikes and players on 2nd and 3rd, we got a TWO-RUN SINGLE to win the game!!! I can't remember who hit it but I know the runner that crossed the home plate for the winning run was hometown hero David Freese!! We LOVE him! Then we sat in traffic for 30 minutes just to make it to the highway to start our 40 minute drive home.

♫ take me out to the ballgame,
take me out to the crowd.
buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack,
i don't care if i ever get back.
cause it's root, root, root for the Cardinals,
if they don't win it's a shame.
for it's one, two, three strikes
you're out
at the old ball gameeeee♫

Play ball!!



*St. Louis' streak of 10 consecutive days of 100 or higher (June 28 through July 7) has only been topped by the Dust Bowl year of 1936 when the streak was 13 days.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

i want to but...

It's SO hot outside! When I saw the doctor (see... some previous post) and he said "exercise every day" I was like "No problem. Piece of cake. Piece of CRUMB cake." I got the yoga. I got the belly dance. I got the swim pass. I got the hula hoop. (More on that later- maybe with pictures. If I can ever find the charger for my camera.) And I've been good. I go to my classes, I have found a great at home yoga Netflix video that I do every morning that I don't have some other exercise planned, I got a new swimsuit. See. that's the problem. I really, really, really want to go swimming. I don't care how I look in my swimsuit. I'm married, I already won. I just LOVE swimming. But it's so freakin hot outside and the sun just burns down on you with the force of 10,000... suns. (okay, that didn't quite work out.) And how is it going to cool off? With rain. Big, huge, booming thunder and sizzling lightning storms. Oh, yay! Let's go swimming in that. Sorry, no death wish here. So, again my options are: be baked to a crisp by the sun or be blasted to mini-crisps by lightning. I think I'll just stay home. Where's that hula hoop?

Updated: We braved the heat, after slathering ourselves in a gallon of 500 SPF (do they make that?) sunscreen each, and headed to the pool. It looked deserted as we pulled up; all the chairs were empty except two, but that's because everyone was in the water. It felt like warm bath water but it was still cooler than my house. (I'm pretty sure, if it doesn't cool off soon, that my a/c is just going to get up and walk away. "Take this job and shove it.")

Thursday, July 5, 2012

let's get this party started!

My husband and I share custody of his boys (MY boys) with their mom. This means that during the school year they stay with us but she gets visitation alternating weekends and holidays. It flips from year to year so, for example, one year we'll have them Thanksgiving and she'll have them Christmas then the next year it flips. Summer vacation is completely different though because it's so long. Generally we alternate back and forth every two weeks, for a total of 6 weeks each. But this year, due to some (ah-hmm) "miscommunication" their mom got her dates wrong so she asked to just keep them the first 6 weeks then hand them off to us. Her 6 weeks was up this past Sunday but 4th of July is her holiday this year so she got to keep them until 8 am today. Only it's 2 pm and they aren't home yet. Even though we talked to her yesterday and she said she'd drop them off this morning. Why aren't they home? Because they "had a late night with the holiday and want to stay to play." Fine, let them sleep in, I get it. They're growing tween/teen boys. But fucking have the courtesy to contact us when this is decided instead of leaving me to sit around the house until 3 hours after you were due waiting. (ah-hmm sorry. anyway..) I had things to do today. Now I'm doing them in the 102 degree heat with a car air conditioner that only blows cool-ish air, not cold. And apparent;y she's not even bringing them home. The husband is driving out to get them when he gets off work.

I have so much planned for us for our 6 weeks- got the pool passes (yes, I know I keep bringing them up- its COOL :D ); the boys are signed up for STEM camp next week (Science Technology Engineering Math- they are total nerds, just like us), and now fencing class one week at the end of July. Then in August family vaca to St. Thomas. Doesn't that sound like a fun half summer? There will be movie days and stay home and be lazy days and go to cool places days, too. But in order for us to get this party started, she must give us back my boys!

Monday, July 2, 2012

dogs are just plain nasty*

*if you gross out easily, maybe skip this one. you're welcome.

Of course, she thinks it's perfectly normal. Let me explain. (No, that would take too long. Let me sum up.) My cute, cuddly, loves to snuggle up and nap away rainy afternoons doggy, Delilah, has a profound love of rooting through my bathroom trash can, finding the mst undesireable (by my standards) pieces of trash in there (and you know what I'm talking about) and snacking on them. Even though she can't digest them and they swell up in her belly making her look like she's pregnant with quadruplets and just generally cause us all massive amounts of stress. Her, because she has to find some way to rid her body of these not-so-good-for-you treats; us, because we're the ones that then find the after-remains of these removals. Quite often by stepping on them as we shuffle, stumble, tumble our way through the dark, in the middle of the night, to go to the bathroom, get a drink of water, pitch the cat out of the bedroom. You just shuddered reading that, didn't you? Or maybe threw up in your mouth a little. Yeah, it's that nasty.
Anyway. To combat the trash issue we have been leaving our little trash can up on the seat in our shower so she can't get to it. Problem solved. Unless you want to take a shower. Apparently sometime last week the husband who shall remain nameless, but I like to call him Dumbass, either left the door open while showering or forgot to put the trash can back up. Only he didn't tell me, until after I found the evidence. This time around the incident coincided with a vet appointment for annual vaccinations, etc. But we didn't get the vaccinations because Delilah was so distended we instead had to do x-rays and examines and buy special food and medicine to make sure she doesn't die. (Death by tampon- just great.) So, $250 later we have 2 teeny tiny bottles of medication and 2 cans of stinky "bland food" and we still have to go back next week for shots.
Oh, and she stinks because it's hotter than Hades outside but the groomer won't take her until we get her rabies shot updated, fuck you very much.

Friday, June 29, 2012

tracey gets personal

Some stuff has happened this last week or so and it's really weighing on my mind. I generally steer clear of posting anything too personal but I really need to talk about it. The thing is it's not about me. I have no problem (at all) talking about my own stuff. There is no such thing as too personal for me. It's when it's about my family or friends that I clam up. I feel like it's not really my right to air everything out for the public's reading pleasure. On the other hand, what affects my family, affects me. So, here goes...

Last week I noticed on our school district's website that a 7th grade math teacher at one of the other middle schools (not ours) had been arrested for child pornography. I immediately told my husband... then posted about it on Facebook. I was a little freaked but not overly concerned for my kids' sake because he's never worked at our school. "My kids are okay." I thought. Then came the letter. Not only did he teach math at W- Middle School, he also helped out with the district's 5th grade outdoor education camp. The camp that both of my my boys have been to in the last few years. I quickly scanned the rest of the letter. Then promptly threw up. "The FBI has found pictures and video of male students changing and showering at the camp.... They are working to identify the students.... Please talk to your children about their experience at camp." Then it listed the schools that this teacher had volunteered for. And right there in the middle was P- Elementary, our school.

Of course, we've talked to the boys about good touching and bad touching, about "private parts". About telling us if anyone ever does anything inappropriate to them. But how do you talk to them about this? School is supposed to be safe. Teachers are supposed to be someone you can trust. And, even more difficult, how do you restore their faith when they realize someone took advantage and they never even knew? Would you want to know?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

i'll miss you most of all, french fries

I had my yearly (actually 6 months) check up with the GP yesterday. All of my blood test results were smack dab in the middle. Except my cholesterol levels. My "bad" cholesterol is a little high so the doctor said to stop eating so much good food... I mean, saturated fats and fried yumminess. Plus exercise daily (uh...what?!) and lose weight. Boohoohoo.

Actually, after seeing the scale when I weighed in, I had already come to that conclusion myself. I've started the yoga and my belly dance class starts tomorrow night, plus the pool passes mean lots of swimming this summer. So, the exercise thing might not be too bad.  It's the fried food thing that's going to be hard. I love, love, LOVE greasy, salty, crispy, crunchy foods. That's my "chocolate". (I don't really like plain chocolate. I don't dislike it, I just don't love it.) My second love? Cheese. Pretty sure that's out the window now, too. So, between the diet and the daily exercise and the weather (directly) from hell,  you guys are going to be hearing A LOT of bitching and complaining this summer. You'll still love me, right?

Sunday, June 24, 2012

circus of the sun

Today was one of the good ones. No, one of the GREAT ones.
<----- This is what we did. My sister (and best friend since before we were even born) and I had front row floor seats to the show. Being that close just makes it seem so much... more. Real and raw and awe-inspring. Like you're right in the middle of things. Being deaf brings a unique (and sometimes upsetting) perspective to things. You feel like you're missing out, because you are. Sound is used so often to convey emotions, especially in theatrical productions like this one. Occasionally I'll find an experience that's actually become deeper or more meaningful without sound. (My first large scale fireworks display after becoming deaf was one of the most surreal things I've ever experienced.) Today, I found something else. This show was just... I can't even think of the words. It left me laughing and sad and holding my breath and even a little freaked out at times. I gasped and cringed and sighed with relief and I feel like I didn't miss a single damn thing. I wish I could go and see it again. Right now. The performers... artists, really, are just amazing. Who knew jumping rope could be so exciting? I can't even begin to recapture everything we saw. My favorite has to be the... everything (http://www.cirquedusoleil.com/en/shows/quidam/show/acts.aspx). Maybe the Cloud Swing. Or the Banquine. The Statue though has to be one of the most excruciatingly beautiful things I've ever seen.
Quidam is the story of a girl whose parents ignore her. So, she finds her own world. The different acts combine beauty, strength and amazing acrobatic feats that will leave you saying "How can they do that?!" (Seriously, how does someone train to perform in this circus?) Throughout the story though, they really make you feel exactly what this young girl feels; in her imaginary world, and the real one.
My hands are still sore from clapping so hard. And the only thing that kept me from leaping from my seat throughout the show was the fact that I probably would have fallen on my ass. This is the second time my sister and I have been to Cirque de Soleil together. The first time was 10 years ago. No way am I waiting that long to go back again.

Thank you, Sister, for sharing this amazing day with me. (And for picking the more expensive, closer parking lot.)








Saturday, June 23, 2012

this keeps me going...

My deaf friends and I are always sharing "Can you believe this guy?" stories. My own go-to story is about something that happened to me when I was in the hospital following the surgery that took the last of my hearing. We planned ahead by buying a small white board and stocking up on dry erase markers. One day a young resident came in early, before any of my family was there, to give me a check over. I very cheerfully said "I'm deaf now so you're going to have to use that dry erase board (pointing to where it was) so I can understand you." He walked over, picked it up, walked back and... handed it to me. Ummmm, yeah. No. He was suitably embarassed when I gave it back to him. (And it was very early in the morning.) But most of our stories aren't quite so ha-ha, more along the lines of WTF?! And it can get very discouraging. Lately, instead of focusing on the bad, I'm trying to see on the good. So here are a couple "Can you believe... how great they are?!" stories. ;)

Back in April, when I bought my car, my husband ordered personalized license plates for me.  We decided on holding off to pay for permanent tags in case the plates came in before the temps expired. The Friday before Memorial Day, at roughly 4:35 pm, I realized that the temps were dated to expire on that Sunday. I raced around gathering everything I thought I'd need and headed up to the license office closest to me; walked in at 4:55. No line, thankfully, so I headed straight up to the counter. The woman who was helping me was SO friendly. She was great about writing everything down for me (since I have trouble lip reading strangers). Then came the problem. She needed access to the personal property taxes I've paid in the past and couldn't find them. (I had left out a very important word it seems, "unincorporated." Who knew?). I offered to just wait until Tuesday and try to find the copies at home so she could start her holiday weekend but she wouldn't hear of it. It took us about 15 more minutes to realize why we couldn't find what we were looking for and she was all smiles the entire time. I mean, this was the DMV?! And I have nothing but good things to say about the experience.

Recently I've started venturing through drive thrus again. I'm sure I don't have to explain why they are problematic for me. I typically will only pull up if there is no one else in line. (Especially if there are two or more rows. How in the heck am I supposed to know when it's my turn?!) I'll pull up, wait several seconds, then say "I'm deaf so I'm going to pull to the window to place my order." Or, if someone pulls up immediately behind me, I say "I'm deaf so I'm going to place my order here, repeat it once, then pull around for any questions."  It works remarkably well. I've never had any problems and the cashiers usually go out of their way to make sure they understood me, and that I understand them. (In these cases credit cards are our friends so that you never give them too little monies. Because that's just embarassing.)  But a recent trip through a Hardees drive thru tops them all. Not only was she very helpful but when someone pulled up behind me before my order was ready, instead of having me pull forward, she just went out the door and helped them at their car! And she gave extra napkins which always earns a :) in my book.

Speaking of fast food places, Chick-fil-a is my hands down favorite deaf friendly place to go. Because they are "family friendly" and spiritually oriented, I've found that the employees there really will go that extra mile to insure you have a good visit. I've had managers help carry my take out to my car; employees carry my tray to a table for me; they ALWAYS, no matter how busy they are, make sure to motion to me instead of calling my name when my order is ready. And the food is so good. I've never gotten bad food or a messed up order there. They're just fabulous. ;)

Those are just a few examples. I've had police officers write things down for me (and I don't mean a ticket!), strangers "interpret" for other strangers that I just could not understand, people stop to help me when I'm having difficulty walking over uneven ground or climbing stairs. I even had a drive up bank teller carry on a conversation with me once by holding up large, hand written signs to the window so I could read them. Sure, not everyone is as nice or helpful, but more people are than you realize, if you just let yourself see them.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

♫ i can see clearly now...

... the rain is gone ♫ Feeling better! That was a quicky. Yesterday was starting to feel (emotionally) better, a bit, but physically, not so much. Today was a brand new day! The weather was a little over- cast at times but no real rain (unless it happened while I was asleep). But, still, the pain is GONE. Completely; or as completely as it ever is. 
To celebrate I went to see Prometheus (OC) at the theater then met the hubby for dinner at Tony Romo's. The movie... didn't suck. But I thought it was kinda boring.  Just didn't pull me in. The husband said it's because I haven't seen Alien/s yet but it's a prequel; that shouldn't matter. Besides, really, as far as I can tell, it was just the last scene at the end (actually, after the end but before the credits) that really had any Alien ties. I thought the acting was good. I didn't think anything was overly silly. I just thought it was a bit slow, and dry.
But dinner. Oh, dinner was so good. And our waitress ROCKED! She was so nice and friendly and attentive without being overly pushy. Best thing, when paying, she gave the bill back to me to sign, not Shawn. I carry the card attached to our checking account so I'm generally the one that pays for dinner, etc. And even when I physically hand the card to the server so many of them then return it to Shawn to sign!! Pisses me off! I know it's a common belief in the service industry that men tip better (I generally agree actually) but in this case, I am an awesome tipper. You won't get a better tip handing it to my husband, because we actually talk about it before we sign. A joint account; a joint decision. Plus, since I'm deaf, I like to ask Shawn about anything I might have missed. So, any food service workers reading this; pay attention!
Tomorrow the weekend starts. Time to book the family vacay; I'm SO excited about this. Our first real vacation. Five days, four nights in St. Thomas. We are going crazy trying to decide what we HAVE to do and how to fit it all in. I'm thinking we are going to get very little sleep those five days. Better bring the camera!
I also get to go this Sunday to see Cirque de Soleil: Quidam with the sister. Front row seats. So psyched. I've heard it gets a bit strobe light-happy at times so I have to remember to bring some sunglasses. Soooo, what should I wear?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

out of the blue

Saturday I was FINE. Actually spent a couple hours watching the Cardinals game with my mom, just her and me. Having her to myself is pretty rare these days with the grandkids running around. It was nice.
Sunday I was FINE. I took my kids to the pool. We grilled out for father's day and stuffed ourselves on hotdogs and ice cream. I stayed up late chatting with a couple good friends- and laughing hysterically long into the night with one of them.
Monday I was... not so fine. I thought I was just tired, I just needed to sleep. It's the nerve pain bringing  me down, I said. If it would rain so the pressure would ease I'd be FINE.
Today I know- I'm not fine. But I can't say why. It's not the first time its happened. It's not just feeling blue or sad. I know depression is more than that. You can't just shake it off. I've gone through it before, I'll go through it again.
I just hate that it comes from nowhere, out of the blue. I'm not sick (or not more so than "normal"); nothing bad happened; I even spent time outside under the blue sky feeling the breeze on my face, letting the heat soak into my bones to warm me, inside and out. It was calm and beautiful- and I didn't care. It didn't bring a smile to my face or ease this feeling inside. This feeling I can't even put into words. A feeling of... not. I'm not really happy, but I'm not exactly sad. I'm not really tired, but I'm not exactly awake; I'm not hungry; I'm not thirsty; I'm not living. I'm just... not.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

so... what would you do?

This isn't one of those they were smacking their kid, leaving their dog in the car, cutting in line kind of situations. I just want to tell you what happened, what I did about it and how they responded (spoiler alert: no blood was shed). Then maybe you can chime in with what you (think you) would have done in my place. Deal?

I took the kids to the pool today to expel some energy but I brought a book, because some days I just don't feel like getting in a public pool. Just in case. You know. Anyway. I was sitting on the snack bar patio, which has a roof for shade, and is fenced off from the rest of the pool area. An employee (teenager?) was using a hose to clear off a bunch of trash, branches, leaves etc (it was a bit windy) from the concrete and we chatted a bit while she worked. She was very thorough and it took her a good 30+ minutes to clean up and put everything back where it belonged. Not long after, a mom with two youngish (6 or7 y.o.?) children came and sat at a table near me with their snacks. A few little wrens were flying around- 2 or 3- but there were no nests or anything, they were just visiting. The kids started tearing up their bread/buns and throwing it on the ground to "feed" the birds (they were having none of that though!). They made two pretty large patches of mushed up bread pieces around their table.

So, what would you do? After that girl worked so hard? And the birds obviously weren't interested. Plus this was enough crumbs for a flock, not 3 tiny birds that would fit in your palm with your fingers closed.

My husband hates this about me. He is a "it's none of my business" kinda guy. I'm a "I'll speak up if I feel it's wrong" kinda gal. So, I walked over and very quietly, and calmly, and politely said "I'm sorry to interrupt and normally I wouldn't but I thought you should know. Not 20 minutes ago a young employee spent a pretty large chunk of time cleaning everything, including dropped food crumbs, off the patio. I don't think it's very nice of your children to throw a bunch of food all over it again." She said something I didn't catch so I told her I was deaf and she repeated "They were just feeding the birds. The little birds." And I replied (this did get a bit snarky but I was trying to be very polite about it) "I understand but this is a public pool, not a pond or lake. They might not want you to feed the birds." Then I gave a little nod and went back to my book. About 10 minutes later the kids got up and picked all the bread up (because the birds did not eat ANY OF IT) and put it in the trash bin. I did feel kind of bad, and I know it's rude to point out someone else's rudeness, but when I think of how hard that young employee worked I just had to step up.

So, what do you think?

Friday, June 15, 2012

tickled

I posted a link to this blog on my FB page and a TON of my FB family took time to not only read today's random mosey through my summer (so far) but, also, to read further back. Then, they reached out to let me know how much they liked it. How funny they thought it was. How well written. And, more personally, how similar their own journey has been to mine. I just wanted to say thank you and that it really means so much to hear from you all. Like I told my hubby:

"it tickles me pink" :)

warning... this is going to ramble on & on

Sorry I haven't posted in awhile. I've been busy. Knowing that I have 2 kids you might think "Oh, school's out; of course she's busy." But you'd be wrong. :)  The boys are actually with their Mom until after 4th of July (I think. As far as I know. Great stepmom, aren't I?).

No, actually I've been busy with some NF2 stuff. My hubby and I traveled to New Orleans, LA for CTF's (Children's Tumor Foundation) annual NF Forum. http://www.ctf.org/nfforumhome.html. It was a great trip! I actually knew most of what they talked about already but during the sessions focused specifically on NF2 I heard a lot about where our treatments are headed. With NF2 there is no known cure and the treatment options in the past were: watch and wait, surgery, or radiation, such as Gamma Knife (which I've had done twice). But that last option is turning out to be not such a great idea for us NF2ers, so strike that. (Well, that's just great! Did I mention I had it done twice?!) Now we are moving into an amazing new(ish) chapter in NF research and finding a lot of new drugs and drug combos that can help to stabilize and possibly even shrink all the different kinds of tumors (there are a lot) we face before surgery is needed. Can you give me a Hallelujah?! The next 5-10 years are going to be a storm of breakthroughs in how to treat this condition. I firmly believe this. Can I make it 10 more years? Yes, I can! (Just got to stay away from buses. People are always getting hit by buses when they think something else is going to kill them first.)
We also did a whirlwind tour while we were there. I've lived in New Orleans but I was young so I barely remember it, except Mardi Gras. You can't forget Mardi Gras. (And falling into a swamp. You definitely can't forget that.)  We did the Riverwalk, French Quarter, Bourbon Street thing, all in about half a day. By the time we got home Sunday night I could barely walk anymore. Like I posted to my FB family: "Did we have fun, you ask? Well my legs are burning, my feet are swollen, my ankles have stopped bending. Oh and I have a concussion. It was AWESOME!"*
Before I forget. If you ever find yourself in New Orleans, you HAVE to eat at Red Fish Grill. And you HAVE to order the Chocolate Bread Pudding for dessert; it is SO GOOD. Also, you must find Pat O'Briens and have a Hurricane. But I'm not responsible for the consequences.

That's not all that's been going on. I've also started my 2nd yoga class. (I told you about the first, right?) This is a Hatha style yoga (vs. the Kundalini class I'm already taking). And holy shit! I think I lost 5 lbs in sweat and snot during this class! (No idea why yoga makes my sinuses run but I have to keep a box of tissues next to me every time.) I'm really hoping that by practicing these two styles of yoga I will develop more core strength and improve my balance, plus feel more comfortable getting around on my own (no cane, no walker, no hubby to lean on), and also, to lose some extra weight (ok, a lot of extra weight) that I've been carrying around since I was.... 10. (Gulp! It sure sneaks up on you!) I take each class once a week but I'm hoping that as I learn the moves and become better at them (no falls!) I can do them more often at home, on my own.

AND... I'm planning a visit with my M&Ms in Tenn. next month for a girl's week; well, 4 days. We are going to do the touristy thing in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. I'm driving from St. Louis, so send me strength (and snacks for the trip!), please. They also have NF2 and hear with the help of ABIs (Google it), while I'm completely deaf. This is going to be fun! :) I foresee lots and lots of writing. I should stock up on pens and notebooks.
Then, in August, we are doing a family vacay. First time since... ever. So we are aiming high. Five days in St. Thomas. Yes, we know it's hurricane season. That's what trip insurance is for. Found a great all inclusive deal through CostCo Travel. Now I just need to join CostCo. Can't. Freakin. Wait.
Two days after we get back school starts. Hopefully, sometime in there the boys and I can hit the pool (since I DID buy us passes) and do other fun summer stuff. I think I need to take the next 2 weeks to relax and get myself ready for a jam-packed July and August! This is going to be SWEET!

*Yes, I really did get a concussion. I think. I didn't go to the doctor or anything. But I had a huge lump on my forehead with some tenderness and bruising. Good enough for me: concussion. All the taxis down there are SUVs. I have a weak muscle in my thigh that makes getting into a high vehicle almost impossible. It rained Saturday morning and, when I was climbing into the front seat of said impossibly high taxi, my foot slipped (because everything was wet. from the rain.) and I fell forward, stopping myself from falling out of the taxi with my head. Meeting the dashboard. Awesome.