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Sibling Time

A few weeks ago, the Mr. had an idea.

He’d recently subscribed to a year of ESPN+’s UFC fighting packages, and he thought that our siblings (aka his brother and my sister, who are married to each other) would like to come over for the weekend to watch. They only live a couple of hours away, so the drive would be short for them.

They agreed, and THIS was the weekend!

Y’all, surprisingly enough, adulting sucks most of your free time, so the only time we get to see them is usually around the holidays.

I eagerly washed sheets, cleaned the bathroom, and prepared treats because, well, why not.

Peanut Butter Cake for the Mr.

They arrived around 3pm, and we hit the ground running – literally.

I mean, this was the first REAL time they’d come over, without it being Thanksgiving, and without children in tow. They’re almost empty nesters; their oldest is on his own, and their youngest will be a junior in college but is away playing baseball this summer.

We were getting to be grownups for REALZ.

Super Sis and I went to Lucky’s for some much-needed food stuffs; however, the store was kind of closed because the power had gone out numerous times due to horrendous weather we’d been having, so they couldn’t run the cash registers. We ran to Publix next.

In true sister form, we ditzed our way through. We are silly, y’all, and chatty. We have the absolute MOST fun when we are together. As we left, I asked if she didn’t want to try Lucky’s again just in case the power had come on. Since Lynn Haven is a small town and nothing is far apart, she was game.

Good thing, because it was OPEN! We were able to get the ingredients I needed for vegan jalapeno poppers.

Absolutely delicious! It definitely is smoky but also has a delightfully smooth texture.

The Mr. called about that time and told me that I was sorely low on margarita ingredients – a true travesty – so we ran to Walmart, where more mischief ensued (and an interesting conversation with an “interesting” fellow – ahem).

After all of that running, we were ready to get down to some food prep, but then the Mr. informed me that I’d have to go BACK down the road to pick up a chicken nugget platter he’d ordered from Chick fil A.

Say what?

Ahem.

So sister dear and I got BACK into the car and had another fun adventure where there was no record of the Mr.’s order (the second time this has happened recently). Sigh. Fortunately, Chick fil A employees are the sweetest, so they knocked 20% off and fixed it on the spot.

Seester and I finally got back home for good, so I prepped our drinks first because, well, cooking is way more fun that way, is it not?

Isn’t she pretty?

We also had to take a National Donut Day selfie – one day late.

I’d actually made these from scratch after seeing a recipe here. They’re vegan, of course, but you would never know it. The icing tastes even better than Krispy Kreme’s.

So delicious!!!

Next, I started working on the poppers. I’d randomly gotten a hankering for them a week ago and had found a recipe here. Y’all, I’d never made them before and was surprised at how easy they were to prepare. I immediately put them on my menu when I found out we were having company. Super Sis helped out a lot!

Air frying is my jam, y’all, and this recipe doesn’t disappoint.

The Vegan Zombie’s Air Fryer Jalapeno Poppers

We had quite the spread on the table when all was said and done.

It wasn’t the healthiest, but when you don’t do stuff like this very often, it’s acceptable.

We divided our TV time between my nephew’s baseball game, which we were watching through an app on the Firestick, and World Cup soccer. Then, the guys turned over to fighting, and we went into another room. I don’t like watching people beat each other up.

We wound up playing a fierce game of Battleship while the dogs slept near us. I got a stunning come-from-behind win!

Then, we started up a new Netflix movie, I am Mother.

Terrible movie, by the way, that has absolutely no point in the end. I don’t recommend it.

It was late by then, and the guys had one last fight to watch before we all headed to bed.

Super Sis and I got up first thing and did Day 21 of Beachbody’s 21 Day Fix Extreme. It was a yoga workout and a lot of fun to do with my sweet sister.

Then, they headed home. The Mr. had already left for a rare Sunday at work.

I’m so thankful that our siblings made the drive over despite the rain and all. It was such a wonderful way to spend my first weekend of summer vacation!

Christmas 2016 – Part 2

You’d think that with me being on Christmas Break, I’d be blogging more.

Not!

Ha!

In my last post, I detailed my family’s fun during our first Christmas gift exchange.  I’ll pick up from there.

We got up the next morning and packed up the car.  We were heading out for our family get-together in Bigger City, Florida.  It was the first time that we had Rooster’s girl with us, so we wanted to make sure she got the full experience.

The dogs were not pleased at our departure…

Poor Gambit. He had loved every second that his boy was home.

Poor Gambit. He had loved every second that his boy was home.

Pele had been allowed to sleep in the room with Rooster and his girl. He was in happy land!

During the ninety minute drive, I kept myself occupied by setting up the new headphones that the Mr. had gifted me.  It was pretty easy.  I downloaded the Under Armour app for my phone and after a quick Google search for instructions, paired it up with the headphones.

The hardest part was getting the ear buds in my ears correctly (this was after I changed out the covers for smaller ones to fit me).  I watched a video that helped a bit, and before too long, I had them in.

It took me a few more minutes to figure out how to get the heart rate monitor to do its thing (I had to install the headphones in the app and then press on the right ear bud).  I joked with the Mr. that he obviously hadn’t irritated me too much; my heart rate was a calm 79 bpm.

Our first afternoon and evening with the family were fairly calm events.  We ate lunch at the Mr.’s parents’ house and met up with the rest of the crew for dinner at Newk’s with an in-between stop to get Rooster a new phone.  I was relieved.  His old phone wasn’t staying charged for long, and because I’m the “owner” of the account, he needed me to approve his new phone purchase.  There had not been any phones to his liking where I live.  Fortunately, we were in Bigger City, Florida, where we had options.  He upgraded to a 7 Plus.

We actually went to bed fairly early because we knew we’d be busy the next day…Christmas Eve!

I slept on the couch downstairs; the Mr. slept on an air mattress in the den so our boy and his bride could have the upstairs room.  Because I haven’t been sleeping well, I was up around 6am.  I took advantage of the quiet time and started getting ready.  It takes me a lot longer with one healthy leg to stand on.

My foot was looking better than the day before.  I’d been instructed to start putting 25% body weight on it and had overdone it my first day.  It had swollen up like a balloon.  By the 24th, it wasn’t back like I wanted, but at least I could see more of my toes.

Soon, I was ready and raring to go.

Please admire the skinny jeans that I am now able to wear because the cast is GONE!!!

I texted Super Sis.  She’d graciously offered to be my chauffeur for the day.  I had lots of errands to run for Santa.

She drove my car…a long line of people to drive it since I got hurt.

We ALWAYS go shopping together on Christmas Eve.  It is one of my favorite traditions because we don’t get to spend much time together the rest of the year.

We ran by Starbucks; she treated me to a hot chocolate.

Because she wouldn’t let me pay, I had the idea to pay for the order of the car behind us in the drive-thru.  We tried driving away slowly to see the occupants’ reactions, but because of the way the lot was set up, we had to turn the corner before we could look.  I hope they were surprised.  🙂

We took a little longer to shop than we’d originally planned.  As I said, things take me more time.  At our last store, I spied the following glasses…

I fell in love with them and wanted to get them priced.  They were more than I was willing to spend, simply because I was already spending a small fortune on gifts.  Super Sis said, “How much do you like them?”

I replied, “A lot.”

She said, “Birthday gift?”

I said, “Okay, but write in my birthday card that you gave these to me.”

She said, “Done.”

And so they came home with me.

For the record, my birthday isn’t until March.  She said I could go ahead and start using the glasses though.

When we finished there, we were pooped.  People had started calling us.  We were being summoned back to the house.

We had Christmas dinner to get ready for!  The Mr.’s mom had slaved away all day to prepare some of our favorite food…field peas, dressing (which I don’t eat but everyone else does), turkey from Sonny’s (none for me, thank you very much), mashed potatoes, and other goodies.

Cali, my grandpup, was ready to snarf up crumbs.

Cali, my grandpup, was ready to snarf up crumbs.

Then, we all got ready for our traditional pre-church photos, which went off swimmingly well.

I wish I could show you the pictures, but alas, some of my people don’t like their faces on my blog.  Rooster’s girl was very agreeable; she’s used to my picture taking by now.

Then, we headed out to church for a beautiful candlelight service.

By then, it was pretty late, so Super Sis’s family and ours parted ways.  They were instructed to show back up at the house no later than 7:30am.  We had a tight schedule to maintain because my boy and his girl had to visit her family.

As has been my custom, I awoke early Christmas morning and got ready…

I have to wear a sock under my boot to prevent chafing.  Thank heavens for all of the knit pairs I’ve made over the years!  This one matched my shirt…

Then, I made my way to the living room to await the arrival of the rest of the clan.  The tree was gorgeous!

We had a stocking waiting for Chicky.  Rooster and his girl had done their stockings before they’d left their home, but we had a little something for each of them.  I can’t say that I like not doing stockings for our kids.  We may have to go back to this in the future.

Cali got in the middle of everything.  She was loving all of the extra attention.

I received this blanket…

I also got this night light (a few days after the fact, but the intent was there!!!)…

Super Sis and her family actually got to the house at 7:15…the first time I think they’ve ever been early.  Go them!

Present opening began immediately, and once again, Cali settled herself in the middle of the action.

How awesome that there were ELEVEN of us opening gifts this year!  We opened one present at a time, starting with the youngest member and working up in age.

There was so much laughter as each gift was opened.

Cali managed to catch a nap despite the noise.

Every year seems to have its own theme.  This year, we were all about sports…as in “We are a sports family…except for Super D (Super Sis’s husband/the Mr.’s brother).”  Ha!

Everyone got something sports-related, I think.  The Mr.’s mom got an exercise ball and a jacket/vest to wear when she’s out walking on frigid mornings.  Other members of the family got various apparel from Under Armour.  We could have done a commercial for the company, I kid you not.

Here are a few of my gifts…

A purse from Super Sis and her family

A purse from Super Sis and her family

A Ginger Snaps necklace…also from Super Sis and her crew

I’d never heard of Ginger Snaps before.  They are adorable!  You just pop the charms off and change them out!

I ordered more of these charms on our drive home the next day.  I’ll share photos of those in a future post.

The Mr. and I got a bonus gift from our siblings…

Aren’t they fabulous?

The in-laws had labeled their gifts to us with numbers…in the order we were to open them.  Of course, I was number-challenged.  Last year, it was Super D who opened the wrong gift first.  Fortunately, we caught my mistake before I actually opened the wrong gift!  Ha!

A Pandora ornament with a check inside for a ball winder (I've already ordered it).

A Pandora ornament with a check inside for a ball winder (I’ve already ordered it).

The in-laws also gave me this beautiful bracelet…

The bracelet has a heart charm with my birthstone…not pictured.  I’d been wanting a charm bracelet after the one I had purchased a couple of years ago from Premier had tarnished.  I’m in love with my Pandora bracelet.  ❤

There were a number of gift cards exchanged and other things requested on Christmas lists…because that’s how we roll.

The morning flew by, and before I knew it, Rooster and his girl were packing up.

Despite having spent eleven days with my boy, the parting was hard for me.

I sat close by as he and his girl ate lunch and fixed snacks for the road.  They had a six hour drive ahead of them; her family was eagerly awaiting their arrival.

The Mr. and I walked them outside and said our see-you-laters…never goodbye when you’ve got a family member serving in the military.

I did really good as I hugged my babies tight.  Having them in the same zip code had been divine; letting them go was another rip on my heartstrings.

I scootered my way up the driveway as they backed out and kept the tears in check until I went back into the house.

The rest of the evening was quiet; I tried to focus on my blessings and not my boy’s absence.

The gifts had been wonderful, but what had been best was spending time with my loved ones…something I’ll never take for granted.

Christmas Shenanigans

It’s December 26th, and after a morning spent shopping with my Chicky, I am finally sitting down to process the past few days.

On Wednesday, the 23rd, we secured the house and pups, leaving them in the care of a trusted young man…one of Rooster’s best friends…and drove a couple of hours down the road to bigger city, Florida, where the rest of our crew lives.

Before we left, though, I had to get in another workout.  Even though Wednesdays are my “rest” days, I still like to exercise.  I’ve learned that my body needs to be pushed.

I decided to do a Piyo workout.  I’ve missed the stretching and strength exercises, so I put in the “Sweat” video, which didn’t seem nearly as difficult now that I’ve “graduated” from the program and have been doing TurboFire for over a month.  I’d like to think that speaks to the level of fitness I’m currently at…not high but farther along than four months ago.

Our drive went by quickly.  I spent the time either reading or knitting (I can’t remember which).  We spent the afternoon just chilling with the in-laws.  Chicky arrived later that afternoon, but she was fighting the crud, so she went to bed early.

Christmas Eve found me up early.  I didn’t want to miss a day of my workout program, but I also didn’t want anyone walking in on me.  I’m a bit shy about having people watch me.  I’m not exactly the most coordinated, although in my mind I look as good as Chalene Johnson.  Yes, I know I’m delusional.  Aren’t we all from time-to-time?

Getting ready in the dark so I don’t wake up the natives

After everyone got up, we did our traditional last-minute shopping and picked up a few small items that were probably unnecessary but gave us a reason to jaunt around town along with thousands of other similarly-minded people.

Because we were going to eat Christmas dinner for dinner (as opposed to the late lunch time we’ve done the past few Christmas seasons), the Mr., Chicky, Rooster, and I had some time to open gifts among ourselves.  Spending time as our small family unit rarely happens these days, as is the case when children grow up and leave home.  I think it’s still important, though.  Inside jokes and whatnot continue to remind us how much we love each other.

Chicky gave me this luscious silk/wool skein of yarn, which she had picked up this past summer when she traveled to the Amish country while vacationing in Philadelphia.  I think she purchased the yarn here.  She told me that she was going to buy me more yarn until she discovered that good yarn is expensive!  Rooster reminded her of my forays to the yarn store that’s an hour and a half away from me and how much I spend before I return home.  Yes, I’m a yarn snob.  I was touched that she 1) braved a yarn store and 2) got me something so dear to my heart.

I didn’t take a lot of pictures during our present opening.  I did receive a set of measuring cups and spoons from Rooster (these items were on my list), and the Mr. gave me a cute sweater from Old Navy, night clothes from Victoria Secret, and a flipbelt.

The Flipbelt. These are not my abs…these pictures will serve as motivation though.

After a delicious dinner (I ate mashed potatoes and field peas), we pulled out Phase 10, a card game Chicky had purchased the night before.  We had a lot of time to kill before church.

This was a lot of fun to play!  I highly recommend it!

After a few rounds, our group got ready for church and headed to the 9pm service.  This was the first time we had ever attended this late program…another sign that our children have become adults.  The pastor preached a great sermon with the highlight being the lighting of candles that we patrons held as the overhead lights were turned off.  Singing “Silent Night” with the candlelight flickering invoked a feeling of reverence befitting the Reason for the Season…the birth of the baby who would save mankind from its sins.

By the time we were finished, it was late, so it didn’t take us long to head to bed.

True to form, I arose early the next morning so I could do my ten-minute ab workout followed by the ten-minute stretch session that comes after each workout session.  The schedule worked out great, did it not?

Then, I got ready and sat…waiting…for the everyone else to wake up…

Because the kids are grown, we don’t open presents at 5am any more.

I decided to call my mom but had trouble putting on makeup, straightening my hair, and talking, so I dug out my ear buds and made myself hands-free.

Go ahead to tell me how brilliant I am.

This was a great way to pass the time.  Beauty at my age takes a while to obtain.

Once the Mr. and the kids were up, it was time to dig into our stockings.  Santa was good to me.

Isn’t my stocking pretty?  I love being able to say that I made it!

Super Sis and her family eventually made their way over after they’d finished opening their gifts, and after the customary Christmas morning photos in front of the tree (during which we really noticed how grown the kids had gotten), we dug in.

We always take turns opening presents, going in age order (youngest to oldest).

The theme the first round seemed to be opening what the other sister/brother clan had gifted.

Super Sis’s group gave me the stack of three purple gifts in the photo above.  One of the gifts was a set of measuring spoons (one can never have too many).  Another gift was this bowl…

Isn’t it cute?!

I also got this neat set of hand lotions.

The ingredients are all natural.  The one on the left has a lemon scent and is very invigorating.  The middle tube has an orange scent…a bit more muted but still pleasant.  The tube on the right has a floral scent and is stronger.  It provides a deeper conditioning, so I’ll probably use it on my feet.

A lot of laughter was exchanged as explanations were provided with each gift.

I had bought Super Sis an Origami Owl necklace and six charms.  I should have taken a picture of it.  She had randomly texted me a few months ago and told me that she had decided that she wanted one.  We’d given Coupon Queen a necklace for Mother’s Day (or her birthday…can’t remember which one since both are in May).

The in-laws gave me an individual sized crock pot, 400-thread cotton sheets, Bath and Body Works lotion, an Express store gift card, and cash.

It was a fun time…one we had to recoup from afterward.  Can you say nap time?!  This is another tradition of ours.

After a dinner of leftovers, we sat down and played a new game that one of my nephews taught us…”President.”

I.  Hate.  This.  Game.  It’s played with a deck of cards that are all dealt out.  The winner of each round is called President, the runner up is Vice President, the next two finishers are Secretaries, and the last two are Scum and Super Scum.  I cannot stand the last two titles.  If you’re Scum, you have to give away your best cards to the President/Vice President (depending on if you’re Scum or Super Scum).  In return, you get their worst cards.  So, what happens is that you rarely get out of Scum status.

I don’t like the names of the finishers, nor do I like giving away cards in this manner.  It’s just dumb.  Yes, I got a bad attitude, and yes, I probably showed my butt a bit.  It’s hard to be perfect 100% of the time.  Ha!

Bedtime provided a much-needed reset.

That brings me to today.  After an early, tough TurboFire workout, Chicky and I headed out to the store.  We hit Ulta so Chicky could exchange the Urban Decay eye shadow palette we’d given her…the same one as last year (hello. brain fart).  Best Buy was next so I could exchange a phone charger I’d bought for Rooster (hello, second brain fart…wrong pin connection…duh).

Then, we went to the mall so I could try on blue jeans at Express.  I’ve lost so much weight that I’ve had to go down a size (I’m not bragging, mind you, so don’t be hatin’).  Afterward, we ate lunch, and then Chicky got her makeup done at the MAC cosmetic stand near the food court.  I’ve never heard of this line before.  What lovely stuff!

I enjoyed watching the gal expertly apply primer, foundation, concealer, and blush.  Chicky doesn’t wear a lot of makeup, but that makeup really made her cheekbones pop!  I wound up helping her pay for her goodies.  Because we live six hours apart and only see each other every few months, I don’t get to pamper her often.

Because Chicky had decided to stay in town one extra day, we were not pressed for time.  I was grateful because I miss her when we’re apart.

The game plan for the rest of the day is to relax, visit more with family, and head home first thing in the morning.  We have fur babies who miss us, gifts to put away, and another week of downtime to enjoy.

I hope all of you had a great Christmas with friends and family.

Weekend of Fun

A week and a half ago, I did something I rarely do…

I took two days off of work – a Friday and a Monday.

Why?

Well, to play, of course!

The Mr.’s work schedule was chaotic this summer; coordinating a weekend trip around his and Rooster’s schedules proved un-doable.

Thus it was that we found ourselves at Universal Studios the second week of school.  We stayed at the Cabana Beach Resort, where the Mr. had reserved a family suite…tres beautiful.  ❤

Chicky doesn’t live too far from Orlando, so she drove over and met us there Saturday morning…just in time to go to the parks!  We had tickets for both – Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios.

Oh goodness, but just seeing Chicky made me happy.  She was last in town in June for a friend’s wedding.  Our visit was somewhat short; she’s a homebody…as in her own home…because she’s all grown up now.  😉

Watching my babies (cause they’ll always be my babies) walking together, conversing about who knows what, made my heart sing with joy.

The first day started out beautiful. We quickly got on The Hulk.  I wasn’t scared until we were seated.  I remembered doing well during Spring Break when the Mr. and I rode it, but I also remember feeling just a little bit queasy when it was over because of the final twist.

This time around, I was better prepared for the flips and turns and got off the ride smiling.

Our day turned, eventually, as the weather changed from being sunny to a dull overcast…typical Florida summer weather.  The rain drove us back to the hotel after dinner at the Cowfish (a great restaurant at CityWalk, if you’re ever at Universal).

That night, we were checking out the weather for the next day, and it was supposed to rain…like an 80% chance…EVERY.  SINGLE.  HOUR.

Well, I prayed mightily before I went to sleep, claiming God’s promise that we could move mountains if we had faith.  I asked that God would allow our little part of Orlando to be rain-free until we finished all of the rides we wanted to go on.  It’s so rare that all four of us can get together, that I wanted to eke out as much fun from the day as possible.

God was so faithful and answered my prayers!  The day started off a bit hazy, but the sky quickly cleared up.

We got into Harry Potter World early because we were staying at one of the park’s hotels.  Boy, did we take advantage of this extra time!  We quickly jumped on the Dueling Dragons ride.  We’d ridden it the day before, but because there are two different tracks, we got on the second one.  The Mr. wasn’t super thrilled; roller coasters are getting harder for him to ride.

😀

What fun!

After that ride, we walked quickly back to the Rock It roller coaster, which we’d tried to ride the day before but couldn’t because it had gotten shut down with the inclement weather.

The Mr., who was going to pass on it the day before, got shamed into riding with us.  It was the main ride that Rooster wanted to go on.  As we waited in line, we discovered that rather than having an over-the-shoulder harness, the ride had a thick waist shield.

I’ll admit that I got a little freaked out.  This ride requires you to go straight up really high, so you’re looking up at the sky before you get to the top of a dropoff.  SCARY.  It flips and twists too!  We were so scared we’d fall out.

I sat beside Rooster, and Chicky and the Mr. sat behind us.

I screamed the first two drops but then began laughing hysterically when I thought I heard the Mr. screaming.  It was, in fact, the man in front of us.

Still, I found the ride exhilarating.

After we got off, we discovered that the ride had cameras in front of every seat, so we could watch ourselves as we were riding.

Oh.

My.

Gosh.

I wish I had bought the video of the Mr. and Chicky; the contrast in their faces was PRICELESS.  Chicky smiled and laughed the entire time.  The Mr.’s face was screwed up like he was enduring torture.  Hysterical stuff.

This was me after I finished…the ride behind me (see the arrows…you go up the left side of them…on your back)…

We managed to everything we wanted to do…the Minions ride…so much fun!!  The Mr. and I had waited for an hour and a half before it got shut down during our previous visit, so we were especially happy to finally get to ride it.

We visited Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley and indulged in beverages…

That was a creamy orange drink with cinnamon and brown sugar around the rim.  Oh.  My.  Gosh.  I was licking my fingers for hours afterward.

One of the main things I wanted to do was go on the water rides.  We’d purchased ponchos because I had forgotten to bring mine after loaning them to my friend, Barb, a few months ago.  Thank goodness we had them because the water rides SOAK you through and through!  What fun though!  I highly recommend them if you ever visit Universal.

This was me after the Barges ride.

I didn’t really buy much in the way of souvenirs.  I did get this comic shirt though…so cute and so much fun to wear!

I liked it so much that I wore it to dinner that night.  I did a sneak-selfie as we walked to the Hard Rock Cafe at CityWalk…

Oh, and the rain that I asked God to keep at bay?  He answered!!!  It didn’t start raining until after we’d gotten off of the last ride we’d planned for the day.  Then, the bottom fell out of the sky…as we began making our way to the bus and, ultimately, our hotel.

Don’t ever NOT ask for something.  God does hear!

Chicky didn’t join us for dinner.  She had gone back home so she could teach the next day.  Her school was only starting its second week, so she didn’t want to take off time.

The food at the Hard Rock was divine…

I don’t remember what the guys ate; I had the veggie sandwich.  Rooster enjoyed the cheesecake while the Mr. and I inhaled its delicious aroma from afar.

Sigh.

What a fantastic weekend we had.  We created so many fun memories…even more precious now that my chicklets are grown and spending less and less time with us.

The Best Gift

Today is my 45th birthday.

The best gift I received, not disparaging those gifted by others, was a phone call.

A 7am phone call.

From my mom.

She had no clue what day of the week it was.  Her stay in the hospital robbed her of her ability to distinguish between actual days (Monday, Tuesday, etc.).  The same thing happens to me during summer vacation when I’m home for two months straight.

She did, however, know the date…my birthday.

She apologized for not sending a card.

This is coming from the woman who, two days prior, was beginning her thirteenth day in the hospital…after a brain aneurysm.

I told her, nearly in tears, that she was giving me the best gift possible…a phone call…from a woman whose life was spared.

We had a lovely chat; her voice sounded stronger than it had the day before.

She’s discovering what her limits are (walking around Walmart without the aid of a motorized wheelchair or walker is out of the question).

She’s experiencing new aches and pains as her body continues to heal.

Still…she’s alive.

After we hung up, I got ready for church.

At church, one of the songs we sang was Amazing Grace / My Chains are Gone.

This song always brings me to tears but especially so today.

God is so merciful.  His plans are perfect.

I do not know why He does what He does…spares some people pain and not others.

I’m not brave enough to question why.

All I know is that I continue to be grateful for ALL of His gifts…today being that of my mom’s life.

Thank you for the well-wishes on Facebook, Ravelry, and via text messages.  My heart is full of joy.

Fourteen Days Ago…

Fourteen days ago, our world was turned upside down when my mom suffered from a brain aneurysm.

She was one of the fortunate 5% to make it to the hospital in time to have surgery.

During the next thirteen days, she fought hard.

She had a few decent days, but most of her time in the Neuro ICU was spent in pain.

She had a second surgery on Tuesday.  Doctors inserted a shunt that runs from her brain to her stomach so that the blood that is left on her brain will have a place to go.  The shunt was also placed to help regulate pressure in her brain.

Super Sis and I made two road trips together to stay with Mom.

Nurses allowed both of us to sleep, overnight, in Mom’s room, despite the rule that only one person stay.

Super Sis and I slept, snuggled together, in a reclining chair…two nights in a row during our second visit.

It was like olden times when we were little…except this time, the worry over Mom overshadowed everything.  Fatigue led to giggles as we took selfies before settling in for sleep…

The two mornings we woke up in Mom’s room the second go-round, we looked out and saw fog covering the hospital grounds.  It matched the uncertainty of what each day would bring…

A good day included light chatter and decent eating, with Mom putting a dent in her meals…something we’d rarely seen her do growing up (she has always eaten like a bird…fearful of weight gain)…

Mom quickly tired of scrambled eggs and was delighted the morning she had pancakes on her tray.  We didn’t have to try very hard to coax her to eat…

Mom sometimes asked for ice cream, which we gladly bought from the hospital’s food court…remembering to add the sprinkles, per Mom’s request…

A good day involved Facebook time so Mom could catch up with friends…

While Mom played, I was able to visit with Chicky’s best friend from elementary school (her mom and I were close friends as well).  “D” is a nurse at the hospital.  I had not seen her in over ten years.  What a lovely time we had catching up, sharing laughs, and taking selfies…

D gave me permission to post. 🙂

During our second visit to Mom, we ordered from Doorstep Delivery, and we were touched when the delivery guy explained that when the restaurant saw that the delivery was going to a hospital, workers threw in extra food…along with words of encouragement…

Mom had some very bad days after Super Sis and I left from our two-day stay.

The Mr. had picked me up so we could take a planned vacation to Universal Studios, with Mom’s blessing and admonition to have fun.

Regular updates were exchanged among the three of us…Mom’s husband, Super Sis, and myself.

It was an emotional few days.  One of Mom’s brain ultrasounds showed changes that weren’t good.  Doctors were closely monitoring for vasospasms…those dreaded spasms that can lead to strokes.

Mom’s pain grew quite severe as headaches assailed her.  The pressure from her brain was too high at times, which made the decision to surgically place a shunt easier to make.

Within a day after the surgery, Mom was feeling a lot better.

I visited on my way home from my trip, gifting her a couple of souvenirs I’d purchased.

A hat that I bought at my hotel…

To help while Mom’s hair is growing back

A Harry Potter holly wand, known for its healing properties…

Although our visit was short, it was apparent that Mom was doing a lot better, and I returned home with my heart lifted.

Super Sis visited Mom the next day, and we began hearing whisperings of Mom’s release.

To our surprise, that indeed happened on Day 13.

I’d called Mom, hoping to catch her between breakfast and her regular nap.  She proudly announced that she was preparing to go home!!!  She said that she wouldn’t be allowed to drive for six months.  I told her she’d be like Driving Miss Daisy with her husband as the chauffeur.  🙂

She was also excited because there would be no more scrambled eggs.  I had to laugh at that.  I’ll bet she never eats them again!!

My previous post was titled “Grateful,” and grateful is what I continue to be.

I am also awed by the power of prayer.

Immediately after Mom’s aneurysm, Super Sis and I put out requests for prayer.

We updated Facebook frequently, and I never failed to hear back from friends and family, assuring me of their faithfulness to lift Mom and us up in prayer.

Words of encouragement were given, and Super Sis and I were often moved to tears just reading them.

When I posted that Mom was being discharged from the hospital, many people joined in the celebration.

I don’t question the “why’s” of this situation.  I’m not usually one to do so.

I choose, instead, to look at the good that comes from experiences like this.

Mom and I were reconciled.

Chicky and I grew even closer, if that’s possible.

I gained even more respect for Mom’s husband, who has been a stalwart through this terrifying ordeal.

I saw, firsthand, how the medical community works…pouring their hearts into the care of those who are ailing.

I don’t think I ever realized just how beloved my mom is to those around her.  Reading the well-wishes of her friends made me see her in a different light.  Our separation over the last two years had left me focusing on the negative stuff from our relationship.  Reading about her kindness to others in her life made me see her through a different set of eyes.

Thank you for those of you who prayed during this time…who are continuing to pray (the healing will continue for a long time).

Fourteen days may not seem like a long time to some people; however, when you’ve been given a second chance to spend time with a loved one, every second counts.

Grateful

Aneurysm
Vapospasm
Cerebral Angioplasty

These words were added to my vocabulary this past weekend after my mom suffered from a brain aneurysm late Saturday afternoon.

We don’t know what caused it.  All we know is that Mom came in from working outside, became very ill, and had a seizure.  Her husband was home, fortunately, and called 911.  Mom wound up being helicoptered to Shands, one of Florida’s best hospitals.  It was a 20-minute ride, which she still has no memory of.

A CT scan determined that she had suffered from a brain aneurysm, and she was scheduled for surgery Sunday morning.

The doctor was able to do a less invasive procedure…the cerebral angioplasty.  The doctor went into her veins through her groin, followed the dye up to her brain, and inserted five coils to block the rupture.

She was sent to ICU with a drain protruding from her brain.

Crazy, eh?

Scary too.

I got up early Sunday morning and picked up Super Sis on the way (she lives a couple of hours away from me).  We weren’t sure how long we were going to stay but packed an overnight bag.  Shands is about four hours from my home, so I didn’t think I could do a day trip.

The sunrise when I left was gorgeous, and as I listened to my Christian radio station, I praised God for His glory, displayed in nature.

When we arrived at the hospital, Mom was in the neuro ICU.

I’ve gotta tell you that my heart broke when I saw her.  Her head had been shaved, and she looked very frail.  She’s 4’10 and weighs about 85 pounds.

She’s tiny.

She had been strapped down across her torso and hips.  Her arms were tied down to the bed, and her legs were velcroed together.  In other words, she wasn’t supposed to move.  For two hours.

She was awake and not happy.  She kept trying to get out of bed and made her wishes known.  She also kept telling us she needed to use the restroom, despite being catheterized.  She couldn’t fathom the idea of “letting go,” saying that she’d been taught better.

She still had her sense of humor.

Oh folks.  You know that I have been estranged from my mom for over two years.

Seeing her like this made our past issues disappear.

My heart was broken for her.

She didn’t understand why she was there…had no clue she’d been flown in (“I missed out on the fun,” she said.).

She couldn’t believe she’d had brain surgery.

She’d soon learn her head had been shaved.

Ahem.

Super Sis and I stayed at Shands Sunday and Monday.  Props to the staff.  Mom’s nurses have been amazing!  They patiently explained the procedure she’d undergone, spelled out the medical terms for the risks she’s still in danger of, and drew pictures to help us visualize concepts.

The night nurse quietly did the hourly neuro checks minimizing the disturbances to our sleep.

Super Sis and I had crawled onto a reclining chair and snuggled together to keep warm.  It was a blast from the past.

Each patient room has a window with a nurse’s desk in front.  Patients are watched constantly.  What a relief!  It’s as if guardian angels are on duty 24/7.  Neurological problems are nothing to shake a stick at!

Mom’s second day (Monday) was interesting.  Her catheter was removed, and she was a happy lady.  Her nurses got her out of bed to eat breakfast, and she played a bit of Candy Crush on my iPad, bemoaning the fact that I was only on level 1.

Unfortunately, Mom tried to take advantage of her freedom and kept trying to get out of her chair or, later, out of bed on her own.  Her short-term memory is pretty bad right now, a side effect from her aneurysm, so she can’t remember that she has to call for assistance.  She’s also fiercely independent and hates relying on people to get her to the bathroom.

She also happens to be connected to five or six tubes as well as a couple of blood pressure monitoring devices.  Her risk for a secondary stroke is high right now because of something called vapospasms, which happen when the brain tries to deal with the blood that’s on it…blood that is not supposed to be there (the reason for her drain tube).

Mom has to stay in the hospital at least two weeks.  She’s probably going to go stir crazy before that time!

People keep asking me how I’m feeling.

One overriding word comes to mind…

Grateful.

Mom’s post-surgery nurse…the first one I met…gave Super Sis and me some startling statistics.

Only 5% of people who suffer from a brain aneurysm make it to the hospital alive.  The rest die.

Of the 5% who make it to the hospital, 1/3 will still pass away either during surgery or during the post-surgery phase.  Another third go home after spending time rehabilitating.  The final third go home without any extra rehabilitation.

My mom is already a miracle, simply because she survived that first phase.

Each day puts her closer to the 66.6% of ultimate survivors.

Grateful is a word I’m using a lot these days.

I’m grateful for a small group that began praying as soon as I sent everyone a text.  They message me several times a day to check in.

I’m grateful for thoughtful friends who gave me these cards to help with travel expenses…

I’m grateful for compassionate, empathetic students who nearly cried as I explained why I had been out on Monday and why I might be out later in the week.  A few went home and told their parents or looked up more information about brain aneurysms.

I am especially grateful that God spared Mom’s life so we could reconnect.  Many tears were shared on Sunday and Monday.  We’ve both made mistakes.  We’re starting over.

Super Sis and I are driving down tomorrow to spend Thursday, Friday, and part of Saturday with her.

My Spring Break started a couple of days earlier than originally planned when I left school today…

I am packed and ready to travel…ready to help my mom as she continues her journey toward restored health and, fingers crossed, a life of retirement and relaxation.

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