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mjd2491's Journal
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Back from vacation! 07-09-2012 - 05:17 PM
Just got back from a great vacation to the Wisconsin Dells! We stayed at Kalahari Resort, which was great for my 11-year-old son. He and the teenaged babysitter we took along swam, played, swam, played..... you get the idea.

My 24-year-old daughter and I also had fun! We shopped, lounged, shopped, lounged... you get the idea.

In the end, everyone was happy. The food was great, there was a great coffee shop and a sweet shop for late-night desserts, and the pizza was stupendous! Most importantly for the kids, they had room service and that was a great novelty for my son.

On the way home, I got a phone call from one of my pastors. He asked for a contribution to help underwrite one of the kids attending the National Youth Gathering in New Orleans later this summer... I helped out with $400, which was almost enough to finish the contribution for one of the more needy kids. He and his family will only have to come up with a little more money so he can go. I guess in about 4 years, I'll have a kid wanting to do the same thing...

Enough for today. I'm going to try and catch up on some other journals.
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Happy New Year.... Goals for 2012 01-08-2012 - 03:57 PM
December went by (or should I say FLEW by) and I didn't come close to accomplishing what I wanted to accomplish! ACK. Oh, well, it's all about progress, not perfection.

For 2012, my goals are:

1) Complete at least one "backlog" knitting project for every current project. So far, I have completed two backlogs from 2011!

2) Get more fit by swimming 2-3 times a week and taking the dog on longer walks each day.

3) Make better food choices, specifically cutting sugar and increasing fruits and veggies.

Wow. If I could just accomplish these, I'd be light years more healthy and happy!

Short entry for today. More later.
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December Knitting Projects 12-01-2011 - 06:54 PM
I cannot believe it has been over 3 years since I've written here. Bad, bad, bad MJ!

I have been very busy for the last year and a half or so -- at least that's going to be my excuse. I now own and operate a yarn shop in my small Minnesota town. It's a tremendous amount of work, but it is so fun! We are now starting to get a reputation for high-quality product and we're getting customers from all over the state (and neighboring states, too!).

Right now, I am working on several knitting projects. There are a few babies in my husband's family, so I'm working on bibs and baby socks for them. Mittens, caps, and cowls round out my knitting schedule for the month! Hopefully it will all be done by December 24.

My daughter and I are heading out to Las Vegas later this month, too. My husband's daughter and her family live out there, and we try to get out there a couple of times a year to visit. Additionally, my daughter -- who is now a chef -- has a list of restaurants she wants us to visit. I had no idea there were so many top-quality eateries out there, but we're going to make quite a dent in just four days! We're staying at the Aria, which is attached to the new City Center and is home to lots of great shopping.
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Fence is in -- and I'm heading off to Vegas! 07-18-2008 - 03:57 PM
Yes, the fence has been installed. Now Xena is attempting to dig holes in the yard. Oh, well -- there are worse things, I guess. We have discovered that she loves watermelon and black raspberries, too..... yum!

We're heading back to Vegas for several days of relaxation. The plane leaves at 4:15 on Sunday, so I imagine that my dh will be tapping his foot impatiently at 11 a.m. or so, wondering why I am not ready to leave. (The airport is 35 minutes from our front door. ) We're always ridiculously early for flights, but then again, we're never rushed and the lines aren't usually very long, either. So it's OK.

I can't wait to get out there again! No, it's not just the gambling, although I do admit a fondness for the slot machines. (DH is a blackjack guy.) We'll get off the plane, pick up the rental car, check into the hotel (Treasure Island this time), grab some supper (probably pizza or something similar), then hit the casino for a few hours.... And then get a great night's sleep.

I just love the city. It's exciting, always active, and it's all FUN oriented. No one seems to work! You know you're on vacation, that's for sure.

Well, I hear dh and ds, so I guess I had better go and make dinner. Maybe I'll have time to add another entry tonight.
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Xena, Terrier Princess and her new fence 06-02-2008 - 03:44 PM
OK, OK -- I knew it would happen. Xena, our Cairn Terrier, has officially taken over the house. Before we even brought her home, I told DH we would need some big free-standing gates to keep her in the kitchen area (and off the carpet!). He said, "Nah, it won't be a problem."

Two days later, as I was ordering the gates online I said, "You know, I think we'll end up fencing in part of the back yard this summer. Neither of us want invisible fencing." He said, "Nah -- we'll be fine. We don't need a fence."

Well, the fence company just left a couple of hours ago.

We're getting an aluminum fence for part of the back yard. And the puppy has now officially "cost" us $9000. But she's so worth it!

Oh, and a landscaper came by, too. The peer pressure in the neighborhood got to us, as the other houses all have flowers and shrubs and all we had were some trees. So I get .... ..... flowers! I'm a happy camper. Poor, but happy.
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Goin' Back to Vegas 05-28-2008 - 09:19 PM
DH and I had fun in Vegas in March. We saw the baby, we saw Spamalot (funny, funny, FUNNY!!!), we gambled (DH played blackjack, I hit the slots), we slept, we ate.

Stayed at the Excalibur, which is one of the older hotels on the Strip.

Well, anyhoo -- we got home and figured we'd go back this fall sometime to see the baby again, because DH's daughter was supposed to bring the baby home for a visit a couple of weeks ago. We sure didn't want to go out to Vegas in the summer! But something happened, and the baby didn't come home with Hillary. (This did not make Hillary's mom happy, as you might imagine. ) So right away I said, "Honey, we have to get back out there!" Within two days, we had our plane reservations for the third week of July. The fares are nuts, and we just went ahead and booked first class (it's soooo much nicer on the long trips). Last time we were lucky and we were able to upgrade for $89 per ticket both ways...but in July, there are lots less flights (meaning full planes) and the uncertainty of airfares right now led us to just go ahead and make the reservations.

This time we'll stay at Treasure Island, which is a little nicer. We're paying a little extra $$ for a "strip view" room, so let's see how we do.

On the Jenny Craig front, I stepped on the scale this morning, and I have now officially lost 39 pounds!!! (Drum roll, please. ) I'm feeling really good, and my clothes are getting very loose. I'll have to buy some new stuff before our next trip, that's for sure. I'll be giving away some of my big-sized clothing soon.

Xena, our puppy, is doing great. We took down the puppy gates because she was able to jump over them, so she now has the run of the main floor of the house. Still has a few accidents a week, but not much. She's really got the housetraining thing down pretty well. Now if she would just stop using me as a chew toy!!! The vet assistant said that she is considering me a littermate instead of an authority figure, because I spend the most time with her. So I'm the one who she tends to be aggressive with when she plays. I guess she's supposed to grow out of much of that behavior.

Well, that's all for today.
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Need to put away the salt shaker! 03-17-2008 - 04:47 PM
OK, it's true confessions time....

Went to Jenny Craig today and GAINED 1.4 pounds. And I know why -- I love salt! Salt, salt, SALT! I know it's bad for me, so why do I crave it so?

Anyway, the consultant made me sign an actual pledge saying I'd go salt-free.

Twice before, I've felt myself retaining water and weighed in only to have gained weight. Twice before, I said, "I know I'm retaining water". I stopped the salt, and lost big-time the next week. So WHY can't I do this in a consistent manner? I guess if I could, I wouldn't need Jenny Craig, right?

Looking forward to our trip to Vegas on Sunday. They had better keep church moving, because DH will be waiting with the suitcases (impatiently, I might add) for me to come home after second service! Our flight leaves at 3:00 p.m., so we actually do have to go pretty much right after I get home at 11:45.

Wish me "luck" (in more ways than one) -- luck with the slot machines, luck with my food plan, and hope that I don't get a sunburn! I am from Minnesota, after all.
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Down 33 pounds now! 03-13-2008 - 03:18 PM
I'm so excited -- I'm now down 33 pounds on Jenny Craig. My clothes are starting to get awfully loose!

DH and I are going on a trip, leaving for Las Vegas for several days on Easter to see his daughter's new baby. It will be great to go on an actual vacation!

The weather has gotten really nice -- it's now in the 40's most days and the snow is melting really fast.

My puppy Xena is almost 5 months old and she's doing great! She's even starting to mellow out a little, although terriers are naturally high-strung... We are really enjoying her alot.
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More pounds lost! 02-15-2008 - 04:51 PM
I'm now at 21.8 pounds lost on Jenny. I'm so proud of myself!

I also knitted my very first pair of mittens yesterday and today. (Knitted one mitten last night and the other one this morning. ) I looked around until I found a pattern for two needles, because I have never been able to figure out knitting on double-pointed needles. I had no idea you could find a pattern like that, but someone told me I could -- and I did! They were almost embarrassingly easy, too.

Xena (that's our new puppy) is still doing great. She is just such a little sweetie! We have discovered that she likes carrots and spinach (and yes, dd checked the Internet and found that spinach and carrots were safe food for dogs).

Well, that's all for today.
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Dieting is fun... sometimes 02-02-2008 - 04:14 PM
My dd and I started Jenny Craig last month. I'm down 13 pounds so far.... but last week I didn't lose anything. I just know that I really lost weight, but drank too dang much coffee that day and had started salting things too much so I was retaining water. When I got to last week's appointment, the scale said I had GAINED .6 pounds.... I kept saying, this isn't real -- I know I'm retaining water. But the consultant wasn't buying it, and was trying to find out what had happened to make me put on weight.

Oh, well -- I just weighed myself today and I have lost lots this week, because I put away the sald shaker!!! I love salt, but I have to rely more on herbs and spices to flavor things.

I'll continue to update regularly on my progress. The plan is really quite easy to follow. DH gave me some grief because I'm paying for my food AND dd's food, which runs about $250 per week (because right now we're eating all Jenny meals). We do have to buy our own produce and dairy (milk, yogurt, and cheese) and dd is paying for that. Anyhoo -- today the credit card bill came (gulp) and dh said AGAIN, "So we're going to continue to pay for HER food?" And I said, "Yes, we are. It's worth it to me to have someone else doing this with me." End of conversation. He didn't say any more.

Sheesh! He and ds are still eating the same as before (meaning I'm making them mashed potatoes and chicken, spaghetti, steak and baked potatoes, fried eggs and toast, pancakes...you get the idea) and if someone wasn't doing this with me, I'd probably consider it too much trouble and I'd cave in. I sometimes wonder if he really wants me to succeed, because he's overweight too. I think as I lose more, he'll think I'm pressuring him to lose as well. Oh, well -- I can't do anything about him. I'm going to get healthy and he'll have to decide whether or not he's going to come along on the ride.

After 10 or 15 weeks on the program, we start getting a deeper discount on food, and when we're halfway to our goals, we start gradually eating our own food. Right now, the idea is to learn portion control. And truly -- most of the food is really, really good!

We've done three weeks, during which they gave us pre-planned menus. This was nice, because during the course of the three weeks we got most of the various meal choices, so now we know what we like and avoid the things we don't like as much. For my dd, that means she doesn't order any of the Mexican stuff or chili (doesn't like spicy), and I avoid everything with "fake meat" (a/k/a vegetable crumbles.... doesn't it sound lovely?) like the lasagna and the breakfast scramble.

My favorite meal so far has been the macaroni and cheese! The portion is fairly generous, and it is a mac & cheese that Paula Dean would be proud of -- in other words, it is really rich and cheesy.

I've already gained a new appreciation for how much a portion of protein really is. Prior to Jenny Craig, dd and I were both eating lots of good food -- but just too much of the bad stuff. I mean, we'd have salads, veggies, and fruits, but then I'd eat a few pieces of chicken with the skin on.... talk about ruining your diet in one fell swoop!

I really thought I'd miss bread and butter and pasta, etc. more (I'm a big carb fan) but it has been OK. I've kept focused and we've just not been going out for lunch or dinner so we're just eating at home, which helps us avoid temptation.

Last night I was so proud of myself -- I took ds to McDonalds for supper (I had already eaten). In the pre-Jenny days, I would have at least had an order of fries while he ate, but last night all I ordered was the apple dippers (and I used just a dab of the caramel dip!) and coffee. And today, when we went to Caribou (like Starbucks) he had a chocolate chunk cookie, and I just had black coffee (instead of my usual mocha).

Tonight the dinner is fish & chips, and my snack is popcorn. Mmmmm!! Good stuff.

The new puppy is doing well. We got a gate to keep her in the kitchen (in other words, off the carpet ) and that is helping quite a bit, especially since ds is still heavy into Legos and leaves pieces all over the carpet -- not good for a puppy. She is doing pretty well with housetraining, too. I think we've only had two or three poop accidents in nearly 2 months, so she has that part down pat. It's the peeing that is still somewhat of an issue. She seems to go in streaks -- two days where there's no accident, then a day (like today) where she'll pee in the house two or three times. I have the book "Housetraining for Dummies" and it's really helpful. It explains how dogs just don't have bladder control for a while -- right now at 3-1/2 months, she can hold her urine for about 3 hours maximum...so we need to plan accordingly!

However, she does go all night without going potty. We just don't offer water after supper, and take her out one last time at 9:30 or later...and she sleeps all night. This is a very, very good thing.
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Saw the new puppy today... 11-18-2007 - 10:01 PM
We're gonna get a puppy....we're gonna get a puppy!

If you've seen my posts around the boards (I'm usually in pre-op, post-op, and Aching Hearts), you'll see that my avatar is now a Cairn Terrier. (Used to be a flamingo -- another personal obsession.)

We had a Cairn when my sisters and I were growing up and we just adored him. Then I had a few mixed-breed dogs as an adult. Now since I'm um, retired (see my last journal entry just before the business was sold in September), I need a "project" to fill my days until my next challenge comes along. So DH finally agreed to get a dog. I got an e-mail from a breeder saying they had one puppy left from their latest litter -- did we want it????

I asked DH and said, "You know, honey, Cairns don't come along just any day. They don't get breeded as often as other dogs." An hour or so later he said, "I get to name her." So I knew I had it!! I was so excited.

We have gotten a few pictures of her, and today we traveled two hours to see her up close and personal. We're naming her Xena, and she is absolutely perfect...naturally.

We get to bring her home "for good" next month. She was bred by a veterinarian and his wife, who have four female dogs -- but each one only has a litter of puppies every other year, each by their "stud" dog.

Anyhow, I'm bursting with pride. I may get a couple of photos up in my photo gallery here in the next few weeks.
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Bad day, good day... 09-13-2007 - 08:50 PM
Today has been one of those waves of emotion.

It started out fairly normally -- the normal customers calling (some with problems, fairly normal stuff). Then the bomb came. Our executive assistant came in and said that the new owners (who are taking over a week from today) are expecting to be at our board meeting on Tuesday and they are expecting that I will NOT be there.

Throughout this whole experience, I have been as gracious as I could be. I realize I'm getting a very good price for my piece of the business... so is my dad and so are my sisters. They are allowing my dad (who turns 80 this year) to stay on the board, and that's of course a very good thing. I was hoping that they'd let me stay, too -- but they've decided against that. Such is life, I guess.

But this just really hurt today. Our attorney has advised us that up until the sale, it's still very much "ours" and we should run the business accordingly. My resignation is as of next THURSDAY, not as of next TUESDAY. We're not being forced to sell, but it actually is starting to feel like I'm being fired. It hurts.

I fought the tears all afternoon, and I'm not the type of person who cries easily. To make things worse, Dad left for a trip to China today, so he's not around to help out. Last week, I spoke with our attorney who advised me specifically that we were to have a regular board meeting this month, complete with all of our former board, just like we weren't even selling the business.

So today when I got this icky message (fortunately, our executive assistant is loyal to me and gave me a "heads up" because she thought it was very icky that they were assuming I wouldn't be at a board meeting before we sold out), I left a very upset message for our attorney, saying that if I couldn't even run one last board meeting before the sale, I may as well leave right now.

I just read my e-mails, and the lawyer is going to call their lawyers tomorrow and let them know she has advised us that we should have a regular meeting next week, including me and excluding the buyers. We'll see what happens, I guess.

Anyhoo, so I spent the afternoon trying not to cry, (not always succeeding) trying to think of reasons why my eyes could be red. Then I had a pretty good, invigorating meeting with a group working for a school bond issue this fall. Our school needs to add on a performing arts center, a new lunchroom, and a field house for more gym space. It's a great plan and we are very hopeful the bond will be passed.

So after work, I was somewhat excited because dh was taking me out. There were some rather mysterious circumstances going through all of this... First, he told me not to make any plans for tonight. Hmmm... Thursday. Strange night to go out. OK, fine. Then, he says, "I arranged for a babysitter." Now I'm thinking, "What's going on?" You see, dh NEVER calls the babysitter -- that's my job. Then I asked him, "Why are you calling a sitter when dd is going to be home?" He fumbled and said, "Ummm... well, don't worry about that." OK. Then later I said to dd, "Why did your sf (stepfather) call a babysitter knowing you'd be home?" And she said, "I don't know. Maybe he thought I was doing something with my dad." And she left it at that. Weird..... most of the time dh and dd pretty much ignore each other -- why would they be thinking of each other now? DD is generally thought of as the "free" babysitter.

Then a couple of days ago, we were having supper and the phone rang. DH answered, and when he hung up the phone he said, "Darn -- I might have a meeting on Thursday. Hmmm.... I'll have to deal with that." I was about to say "no big deal -- we can go out to Applebee's any night" -- because we never go anywhere fancy, you understand. But then I thought, Hey -- there's really something planned here. I started thinking maybe he's taking me to a hotel!!!

Anyway, after this horrible day where I felt like crying all day -- you're not going to believe it. He and I left for what I thought was going to be a "normal" dinner out. As we were pulling out of the driveway, one of my employees pulled up and picked up dd and they drove off. I said, "Stop -- I want to find out where she's going." DH said, "Oh, leave it alone -- she's an adult!" (True, she's 19.) So then I'm thinking -- something is a little off here....

So we go to a restaurant where he's never taken me, and I'm still just thinking -- nice surprise, new place.

Did I just say "surprise"?

The real surprise was that when we walked in there was thunderous applause -- all of my employees had assembled and they were throwing a party for me to thank me for my years with them. (We've owned this place since 1965, when I was 5 years old -- so to say I've grown up in the business isn't an exaggeration at all.) All the emotions just came crashing down on me. (No, I didn't cry -- but it was close.)

I had this horrid day and here they were, thinking of me, actually wanting to honor me. No one had ever, ever done that sort of thing for me. I was always the one throwing the parties, giving people surprises. I was the one who sent the employee and her husband to a fancy hotel when he got back from Iraq this summer. I was the one who arranged the surprise wedding showers and the bus ride to a resort for everyone to watch my dad get an industry recognition award.

Honestly, in all my years, this was the first time anyone had ever thrown me a party! (except for bridal and baby showers of course) It couldn't have come at a better time, when I was feeling rotten every way possible about our business and my job situation and was actually ready to just leave it all today -- I was that frustrated.

Now I will have to write notes to everyone.. because truly, they were ALL there (except Dad who is now in China somewhere ) and it was so sweet. They gave me an emerald necklace, too. It was beautiful.

So it ended up being a pretty good day after all.
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Hysterversary and retirement - same day!! 09-12-2007 - 03:23 PM
September 20 is my third hysterversary. I'm somewhat ambivalent about the whole thing, to tell you the truth. I no longer have debilitating periods and anemia, but I still have lingering pain (probably adhesions?), and I can still feel fluid on my abdomen. I had that hematoma/seroma debridement in 2005, and I just KNOW there's still some fluid there. Sigh. Not much to do, really. I still have pain, but I take prescribed meds already for arthritis so I keep things pretty well at bay that way.

I had a colonoscopy last year because I was having some bowel symptoms. Of course, I was scared -- especially since I was only 46 at the time. Turned out it was only diverticulosis, which is pretty common. More fiber, more water..... yada, yada, yada. No big deal.

About that time (last fall) our family decided to sell our business. My sisters, my dad and I own the business together, and I was the only one of the "kids" who was involved day-to-day. As a result, it was just too hard to keep things fair. How was Dad really going to "hand things over" to me, and then I'd be responsible for my sisters? What if things went badly? Too much responsibility.

So we made the decision to sell. We put it out for bids, got about 20, took the high bidder, and let them come in and snoop around the books. Not fun. But we came to an agreement, and finally next week we are closing on the sale. It's bittersweet, but there are sure parts I'm not going to miss.

Now I have to find something new to do. I'm considering a few different things, but I know one thing I'm NOT going to do -- I'm not going back to school. I could hardly manage to get through college when I was supposed to do it. So many people have said, "MJ, go back and get your master's degree." ACK! The very thought sends a cold shiver down my spine. I love going to class, but I hate writing papers and exams. No school for me, thanks. Trying to cut down.

Anyway, we'll see what happens.
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I hate "the chair" (dentist) -- ick!! 07-20-2007 - 01:11 PM
I have had pretty darn good luck in the tooth department all my life. Wore a retainer to help straighten my teeth when I was a teenager, had my wisdom teeth removed without incident... a few fillings. No biggie. When I was 22 (I'm 47 now) I went to my family dentist, who said I needed a crown on a tooth. He said, "You know, you still have two baby teeth." So he put a stainless steel crown on one of the baby teeth and left it at that.

The next 25 years went by fairly uneventfully, as far as my teeth go. Then, about two years ago, I started having an on-again-off-again toothache which seemed to be coming from the area of the baby tooth on the left side. (It's the most frontward lower molar, to give you an idea of where the tooth is.) Never enough to really do anything about it... but still kind of an owie.

Well, I finally had enough this year and had the tooth pulled. They talked to me about having a dental implant put in, but I balked at 1) the cost -- about $3000 all told and 2) the fact that my dental insurance won't pay for it. So I said I'd just "get by" for a while.

That lasted about two weeks. Because I lost my back molar a few years ago (it got a root canal and in the process of getting the root canal it cracked and broke off.... ) really couldn't chew on the left side. I was tired of saying, "Let's go somewhere *soft* for dinner..." So I made the appointment for the implant and resolved to just drain my HSA to pay for it.

Yesterday I went to get the implant stump put in. Even though they said that the implant surgery is usually much easier than the extraction, I noticed that the doctor prescribed extra-strength vicodin (7.5 mg. vs. the usual 5 mg.) and I wondered why.... Now I think he was having a premonition! Last night I took a vicodin, along with the penicillin they prescribed to ward off infection. No bleeding, and the pain wasn't too bad.

Woke up this morning, and it really hurt but still no bleeding. At 6:45 this morning, I took a vicodin, more penicillin, and went to work. Just berfore I left, I very gently brushed my teeth (with the exception of where the tooth was worked on) and I was so glad -- no blood at all!

By 9:00 I was already in enough pain that I was looking for my next dose of vicodin, and I had a strange taste in my mouth. I took some ibuprofen, figuring I'd stage the meds. And I did a warm salt water gargle and the water was *bright* red. I kept gargling every 10 minutes -- very gently.... still bright red.

Finally called the oral surgeon, who had me drive up to the office (20 miles away) and they suctioned off what he called a "liver clot" -- basically just a very aggressive blood clot. He said it was a good thing I came up there, becaue if I had tried to take it off myself I could have really caused a problem. So they packed more gauze in me, and I said, "I think I'll go and take a pain pill." The doc said, "Absolutely. Take a pill and use some warm heat."

That was about 2-1/2 hours ago, and the bleeding has finally stopped. I'm supposed to play my sax in a band concert tomorrow, but that may have to go by the wayside. We'll see how I feel, I guess.

Well, on to better news... DH and I went to the aquarium at the Mall of America on Sunday, and it was really, really cool. Got home and told ds about it, and I had to give him a complete list of each kind of fish we'd seen... This clued me into the fact that I have to take ds to the aquarium, too. So we're going this Sunday, because I need an excuse to go to MOA!

We're still working on the sale of our business. It sure takes a long time when there are regulatory agencies involved! We think the closing will be able to happen sometime this fall. I'm not sure if I'll be staying or not -- but if I'm not, I have to start looking for a job. Now that's scary!! Starting over somewhere else might be exciting, but it would also be nerve-wracking.

Well, that's all for today.
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Washington Trip was great 05-12-2007 - 10:52 AM
We had a wonderful time in Washington, DC. After I got over the sticker-coma of the food prices ($16.95 for a continental breakfast? Are you KIDDING?) I was OK. One day DH and I didn't feel like dressing up for lunch so we just ordered a couple of hamburgers, etc. from room service -- it was $80 with tip. $5 for iced tea, $7 for a milkshake....

We went to the National Zoo, which was fantastic. Saw the pandas and lots of other exhibits. We also went to the Halocaust museum, which was very moving. The one drawback to visiting Washington in May is that it's the height of school field-trip season, so every exhibit is overrun with school-aged kids. (Note to self: visit in fall next time. ) I don't mind the kids, but it gets really distracting when they come in groups of 30 or more at a time!

We also saw a special Marine Corps concert. It was held in the evening and it was spectacular! Worked out well, too. I'm a music person, and DH is a military person... I probably couldn't have gotten him to go to a concert, but he was happy to go because it also included some precision marching and gun drills. Best of both worlds!

Today DD, DS and I are going to the Mall of America to have lunch and see "Meet The Robinsons". Should be a good time. DS is finally getting to the point that he'll actually sit through a whole movie, so that's a good thing. Tomorrow we're going to a fancy grocery store as my Mother's Day outing. (Does that sound weird or what???) I just love the fancy stores, though. I don't know how much we'll buy, but it's really fun to see all of the different brands, all the ethnic foods, and of course browse through the produce department. (This is starting to sound strange even to me.) Then I'm going to make my personal favorite meal -- fried chicken and mashed potatoes. I know I shouldn't be cooking since it's Mother's Day... but I really love to cook so it's fine with me.

Well, all for now.
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Heading off to Washington soon... 04-25-2007 - 01:32 PM
I'm excited because DH and I are going to Washington, DC next week. It's a fun trip organized by our state trade organization. We'll get to meet with our senators (Amy Kobuchar and Norm Coleman from Minnesota), and lots of other groups. Plus we get a day or so of sight-seeing thrown in there, too.

Our hotel is right in the heart of downtown Washington -- the Renaissance Mayflower. I looked it up on the Internet and all I can say is -- I'm glad I'm not paying for the rooms! Our round-trip airfaire is less than one night at this place. Prices are absolutely astronomical (by Midwest standards) for everything in Washington!

Anyway, if my (((sisters))) notice my posting volume is down, it's because I won't have a computer while I'm out there. I know I'll have Hyster Sisters withdrawal.... how WILL I survive? Do they have a twelve-step program for this?
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Waiting for the refund.... 04-18-2007 - 05:00 PM
We got our income tax returns e-filed a couple of weeks ago. Had to wait until we got our business returns done to do our personal ones. Thought we'd get refunds because we paid LOTS of mortgage interest last year (since we owned two houses for most of the year). The tax guy called and said, "I think you'll want me to e-file these -- you're getting back over $30,000." Um, yeah -- let's do an e-filing, Jerry!

So now we're waiting for the money to hit our account. We're going to need it to make all of our house payments until our business sells later this year, when we can pay off some of the loans. I'm not regretting building the new house, but with the real estate market as it is (which is substantially DEAD in this area like many others) it isn't a good time to be sitting on a house to sell. Add to this the fact that we bought my mil a townhome a couple of years ago, and we are making payments on that too (not to mention her association dues, etc.)... things are a little tight. (I can't complain about the townhome for mil though -- it was my idea to buy it. )

I'm starting to get more apprehensive about what I'm going to do after the business sells. My dad (79) is retiring, and my sisters aren't involved in the business -- they both live about an hour away. But this has been my life for over 20 years, and I'm sure I'm going to be asked to sign a non-compete clause. So I guess either I teach piano and voice lessons, or just take some time off and be a "soccer mom", or figure out something else to do with my life.

I'll add more later.
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Sad Day 04-16-2007 - 05:00 PM
My heart goes out to anyone who lost a loved one in the VA massacre. How very, very sad. There are no words at a time like this.
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Easter Baskets and M&M Trails 04-08-2007 - 09:27 PM
In our house, Easter morning is almost as much fun as Christmas. Why? Because of the trail, that's why!!!

It all started when my dd was about 4. I was trying to find a cute thing to do with her Easter basket, so I decided to make a little trail of jelly beans which went from her bedroom door to the table where the Easter basket was. The next year, she said, "I can't wait for my trail!" So the tradition was born. Eventually, "regular" jelly beans weren't quite right, so we classed up to Jelly Bellies (buttered popcorn, please!), and then M&Ms, then Jordan almonds... you get the idea. So when DS was born, when he turned 3, I got ready to do the Easter baskets and DD said, "What is his trail going to be made of?" They couldn't be the same thing. So now the tradition is that DS's trail is plain M&Ms, DD's trail is either Jordan almonds or (like this year) almond M&Ms. A little pail sits outside the door, and they have to pick up the trail as they go.

So anyway, last night DD said, "Do you want me to help be the Easter bunny?" I said sure. So she had such a ball making DS's trail! (DS is still believing in the Bunny -- hoping that he'll get "just the right toy" in his basket. Couldn't really care less about the candy. ) She had him going from his room, around the loft, downstairs to the living room, through the kitchen, and then all the way down to the basement!

This morning, DS got up, and I heard him jump out of bed (out of the bunk -- "THUNK!" was the sound). Then he exclaimed, "Wow! I've got a trail, Mom! He came!" And I started hearing the M&Ms go into the bucket. "Boy, I have the longest trail!" "It's a super-de-duper long trail of M&Ms!" And other such exclamations went on until we finally got down to the dinosaur basket. There was candy (of course), a Phlatt ball, a Power Ranger, and a Matchbox car toy. "Totally awesome." I guess the Easter bunny did a good job. )

Then I took off for the marathon church session. Busy week -- I sang solos at two Maunday Thursday services this week, then sang in the choir (and did a duet on "Were You There&quot on Good Friday, and then two services with the choir today. We got new hymnals (the new Lutheran hymnals are out) and we used them for the first time today.

In between services, I took some Easter eggs (filled with money and candy) out to my dad's place for them to hide for an egg hunt later on. Then after church, I picked up ds and dd to take out to Dad's. It was chilly, but sunny -- so DS and his cousins could play outside -- . Great meal -- ham, make-ahead mashed potatoes, broccoli cole slaw, green bean casserole, great bread, and my sister made a fabulous coconut cake.

I'm exhausted, but I have a few more things to get done before I can head off to bed. Need to remember to bring home the crockpot so I can make the sausage gravy for our breakfast meeting on Tuesday -- we're having biscuits and gravy and fruit salad. Yum!

Hope all had a blessed and happy Easter, or if you don't celebrate, just a great day.
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Need a light-up sword, anyone? :) 04-04-2007 - 09:55 PM
Yes, we got a few annoying light-up toys at the circus. A couple of swords (they make that clanging sound when you push a button), a couple of sceptors (which have both "spinning light" mode and "really annoyingly loud music along with spinning light" mode). Guess which mode DS prefers....

The circus is lots of fun, but gosh, it's expensive. Those toys put me back $7 a piece, then you get the overpriced food, then you HAVE to get a picture of DS with the alligator, then he HAS to ride the elephant, and go on the slide..... you get the picture. Luckily I only have one kid who wants to do the "stuff". DD is content to just hang out, talk to my sisters and their kids, and buy her own food.

I was very good at the circus and only had some popcorn, part of a soft pretzel, and coffee. After the circus, my dad, my kids and I went to Applebee's for lunch. Of course, this wasn't just "any" group -- my dad was in his full clown makeup and costume. So we got lots of smiles, and all the kids in the restaurant were looking at him. He really enjoys it. All I had was part of an order of nachos and water at the circus, so I continued to be the good girl...

Sunday, dd, ds and I went to the Mall of America (one of our favorite "haunts&quot where we picked up some Easter candy and dd's advance-copy of "Happy Feet" -- very cute movie if you haven't seen it. Worth every penny that she paid for it.

Then on Monday, I woke up with ANOTHER cold. ACK! I hate colds. Can't sleep well, and I really need to get sleep tonight because I'm singing a solo in church tomorrow (Maunday Thursday) and on Friday (Good Friday). So I really need to sign off and try to get some for tomorrow. See ya later.
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Lost another 6 pounds! 03-30-2007 - 01:59 PM
I'm so proud of myself... we started a "Biggest Loser" competition at work last month, and so far I've actually lost 20 pounds. It has been over 20 years since I've tried to lose weight (seriously).

I have a goal because my stepdaughter and my sister are both getting married next year, and I don't want to feel like I have to hide when someone takes out a camera.

Tomorrow we're going to the circus. My dad is a Shrine clown, so that's always fun. He's going to pick up me, dd, and ds in full clown getup. (I can just see us getting pulled over for speeding, and the officer coming over to the driver's side of the new silver Mercedes, asking the clown to take out his driver's license. ) It's always lots of fun, and ds loves riding the elephants and all of the other activity. I love getting a light-up toy (I know, I know -- I need to grow up one of these days).

I just got some really bad news -- the spiritual director at our local nursing home isn't doing well. She's a nun, and has been at the nursing home for ten years. A more dedicated soul I have never seen. Anyway, she has been battling a virus since January, and now the doctors are telling her that she has lost 70% of her balance on one side. So she's always dizzy and having trouble standing. She had left me a long message on my answering machine, asking if I could come play piano on Easter for the residents. (She often has trouble finding pastors to do Easter, and she does the service herself.) Anyway, this year she just can't do it, so she is asking me to just come up and play some hymns on the piano and sing along with the residents. Would I be able to do it? (Are you kidding? I'm not even Catholic, but I'm not about to say "no" to a nun.... ) She was so grateful when I talked to her on the phone today. I think I may plant a seed with my pastor this Sunday to see if by chance he'd be able to come for a bit -- I'm sure Sister didn't actually share her plight with anyone she asked.

That's all for now.
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Happy birthday to me! (and dh) 03-24-2007 - 09:09 PM
Yeah, it's my birthday..... Let's see, I'm 47. When my mom was 47, I thought she was as old as the hills -- of course, I was 17 at the time. LOL Today as dd and I drove to go out for lunch (was supposed to be her treat, but it wasn't -- we'll get to that later ) we played what we now call "The Game" which means we scan through radio stations, guessing the artist and/or name of songs. Guess who knows about 9 out of every 10 songs? That's right -- dd. She knows everything from The Beatles to today -- it's really kind of scary.

Anyhoo -- here's the Reader's Digest version of my birthday celebration(s):

Started on Thursday. I bought cakes from our local bakery for the folks at work, brought them in. Since it's Easter season, I had the bunny-and-easter-basket theme on the cakes, and they were yummy! (I have always been a firm believer that cake is only a vehicle for frosting, anyway. ) Worked all day, tying up loose ends. We're selling our business later this year, and it's awfully tough for Dad, who is 79 years old and is having a bad case of seller's remorse. But he and I both know this is really the only way for us to get out of this gracefully -- it's just too complicated, given the industry we're in (banking). So we're selling. (Do you have any kids who need piano or voice lessons? Send 'em my way, because I'll probably be "retired" later this summer.)

So anyway, I had Friday off for my birthday -- we always give employees their birthday off, and I haven't actually taken one off for a few years. So I did this year! Went over to my college in the a.m. and looked through pictures for a slideshow we're going to show during our 25th reunion this summer. Then I flew home, picked up dd to get groceries, then took her home and ran to play piano for a funeral... Then flew home and DH and I actually (gasp) took off for one night away without the kids! It was fun. We stayed at the downtown Mpls. Marriott hotel, which was overrun by very tall high school boys and their parents. It is the state high school basketball tournament this weekend, so it's a good thing I made our reservations a month ago or we never would have gotten a room.

I was mentioning to everyone that it is not only my birthday but dh's birthday (which is true -- although he's MUCH OLDER than I am at 49 ), and out of that deal we got free hot fudge sundaes at dinner last night and free breakfast today. So I'm glad I mentioned it.

Last night at 9:00 dd called and said that ds (6) had a stomach ache. I told her to just give him some 7-up and have him lie down -- she said he didn't have a fever or anything. After we hung up, it occurred to me that I hadn't told her where we were (ack -- 1st rule of parenting broken) so I called her right back to let her know our room number and the phone number of the hotel. Good thing, too -- she then called back at 11:00 to tell me that ds was (you guessed it) all over everything. Ack. She was in the process of getting his pj's changed when she called.

We slept in until 7:30 a.m. this morning! (That's pretty late for us.) Had a great breakfast of eggs, bacon, a wonderful toasted bagel, good coffee.... mmmmm. Then we headed home, me knowing I'd have a bit of laundry to do. Little did I know that after the initial session, DS had managed to throw up twice more, dirtying sheets, pillows, blankets, stuffed animals, and whatever else was within 6 feet of him! The laundry room was knee deep in linens, pajamas, and urped-upon stuffed animals. (Can we all say, "Happy Birthday, MJ" together? ) So I got to work on the laundry, while dh bid a hasty retreat.

I had promised dd that I'd take us to lunch if she would pay, so we went to a great restaurant called The Copper Bleu. I like going to the fancier places at lunch, because the portions are smaller and the prices MUCH better for lunch. We shared a crab cake, and both had great sandwiches and pop (I had a Shirley Temple -- hey, it's my birthday, I can have syrupy-sweet 7-up and fruit if I want to!), and then they brought me a free chocolate sundae which we shared. Anyhow, I couldn't bring myself to make dd pay, so I sprang for lunch. She did give me a great gift, though -- a matching necklace, earrings and ring in mystic fire topaz. She does understand that I have love affair with jewelry.

Got home, hung out for a while, doing laundry all the while (in fact, I'm just finishing up the last load of washable stuffed animals now). DD made us liver and onions for dinner (one of my favorite meals) and I made dh a steak. Then we attempted to set the house on fire with our birthday cake! I was bound and determined to have us both blow out the candles, but by the time I got 47 lit for me, the candles were already half burned -- so we just blew out "my" candles and forgot "his". DD made a great chocolate cake with chocolate/peanut butter frosting and peanut butter cups all around it. Yummy!

Well, it's about time for sleep. Tomorrow is church, a bit of shopping, and spaghetti for supper -- one of my favorites.
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It's Gray out, but at least the snow's almost gone (for now) 03-15-2007 - 01:11 PM
That's right -- all that talk about feet and feet of snow and ice.... now most of it has gone. Thanks to a couple of days of 50-degree weather, we now have crocuses blooming and people are running around in short sleeves and shorts! (After all, this is Minnesota, where if it's above freezing, we think it's pretty nice out). Today it's threatening to snow again, and it's back down in the 20-30 degree range, which is more normal for this time of year. But it's still pretty nice.

DD and I are going to see a co-worker in a play tomorrow night. He's done a few of these, and this one is supposed to be a more "adult theme" -- it's about racial differences. Should be interesting. Then on Saturday, DH and I are going to a silent auction event for our local education foundation. Our bank donated a beautiful diamond-and-sapphire pendant... I wish I could buy a ticket (it's one of those things where they sell 50 keys for $25 and one of the keys opens the treasure chest), but somehow I think the cries of "Foul Play!" would rise up if I won, so I'll let someone else get it.

Feeling OK these days, I guess. I still have nagging, intermittent pelvic pain. Can't really put my finger on what it might be. And now I'm starting to have pain in my upper abdomen -- it just comes and goes every 10 minutes or so. It's not my gallbladder...it's not my gallbladder...it's NOT my gallbladder!! (If I say it enough, maybe I'll believe it. ) If it keeps up, I will go to the doctor. I've been on a diet and I've lost quite a bit of weight fairly quickly, and they say that losing weight fast can bring on gallstones. Great.

Oh, I got a few pictures of DS in the pool posted to my photo gallery if you want to take a look. I especially like the photo where he's sitting there in his goggles. What a goofball!!

Well, I had better get back to paying the bills. It's an icky job, but for some reason our vendors really like getting paid... go figure.
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Let's have some more snow!! 03-01-2007 - 09:59 PM
Yes, I'm also in this wonderful band of snow that other (((sisters))) are also talking about. I live in southern Minnesota. We were just digging out from the last onslaught, and now we're set to get another 12-20 inches. It started last night, and as of now I would say we have 12 inches of new snow on the ground. I know that, even though this is lots of white stuff, it's really a drop in the bucket compared to what others have been dealing with -- but after a point, it just gets icky.

We never really did get "plowed out" after the last storm, so today I was a little worried about coming home. Well, I guess I'm too timid, because I got stuck right in front of my house. We had to ask a neighbor to come over and help... and finally we did get me extracted from the snow, and I made a run for the garage (of course, it's uphill from the street to the house -- who had THAT bright idea? ) and so I drove into my garage at about 35 mph.... But I survived and didn't even hit anything.

Just saw that we're going to have a second snow day in a row tomorrow... This morning, when ds got up, he wondered why Little Einsteins was already on the TV -- he thought he was late. No, we said -- there is no school today because there was going to be a blizzard. He was still half asleep and it just didn't compute, because it wasn't really snowing at the time. So a few minutes later, dd came downstairs all dressed and he said, "Christine, work is cancelled - there's a blizzard!" We all laughed... wouldn't it be great if work really WAS cancelled?

Then, as we were getting ready to leave for work, ds stood in front of the garage door with his arms stretched out, saying, "You can't go to work! There's no work today! It's cancelled!" Too funny.

DH and DS had a good time today. DH is a househusband (actually, the term "kept man" is probably closer because we have a cleaning woman, and I do all the cooking, etc. but I love him anyway and he does do laundry and pick up after himself, which is a huge + in my book) and they swam in the pool, watched movies, and ds had his favorite lunch (potato chips and cottage cheese, with carrot sticks on the side). Then he took a nap in the afternoon. Hmmm... am I referring to DS or DH? Well, both of them, actually.

I grilled DH a steak tonight, even though it was snowing on the porch. I'm such a devoted wife! DD made a fantastic new Lean Cuisine recipe for grilled vegetable crostini for the two of us. I should post it in the HS cookbook. It was very tasty and didn't taste like a diet recipe at all. I think it was the grilled veggies that really made it special.

Well, that's enough for today. One bright spot is that the snowplow has actually come through once -- so hopefully I'll be able to make it to work in the morning.
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The best snowman ever! 02-26-2007 - 03:16 PM
Well, that's what ds called the snowman we made yesterday. We were searching through the house for stuff to use for the face, etc. Got a carrot for the nose, braided some red yarn for the mouth, and then we had to find eyes. I suggested things, but ds turned all of them down -- until I said, "How about pickles?" He thought that was a fantastic idea, so we have the only snowman in the world with baby dills as eyes. The snowman is also sporting one of my handknit scarves (only the best, right?) and one of ds's Spiderman hats. It's really very cute.

We had about 15 inches of snow that fell overnight Saturday and during the day yesterday. Wet, heavy snow. It started as the fluffy stuff, but the temperature rose enough so that it was great for snowmen and sculptures, and actually too heavy for good sledding. But ds still had a great time.

We had his kindergarten conferences today, and all I can say is..... ugh! His regular kindergarten teacher is wonderful. DS is way ahead of everyone academically (can count to 100, is beginning to read, knows all upper and lower case letters, understands concepts like opposites and rhyming, the list goes on and on) and the teacher acknowledged that, raving about how his skills were just way at the top of his class. She also alluded to how he sometimes has difficulty concentrating on the class work, but she said that's usually because he's off reciting the months of the year while she's talking about the letter "B", something he already knows very well. He does need some help "playing with others", and she said she could tell he's an only child (well, not an only child, but dd is 18 so they aren't exactly playmates) because he's usually off on his own.

She also said that she has ds and two or three others in the class who are being pulled out for some extra learning and they'll be picking out special books from the library so that they can actually read the books themselves. Not bad for a six-year-old.

Anyway, then we went over to the other teacher.... (insert ominous music here). We have every-other-day kindergarten in our town, and on the days the kids aren't in regular kindergarten, they have what's called "kindergarten extension" -- a reinforcement of the lessons they learn in the other class.

This is the class where DS seems to be having more difficulty. My theory is simple: Because he learns everything the first time, he doesn't really *need* another day to learn what he already learned, so he is bored. But the teacher basically poo-pooed this.

Anyhoo, the kindergarten-extension teacher went on and on about how DS is a discipline problem and that he often loses his green "behavior card" because he doesn't make very good choices. ACK. (She was talking to dh and I like we were six-year-olds ourselves... I was just burning up, and dh could tell. We had just left one conference where the teacher said DS was doing great although he sometimes lost focus, and now we were hearing that he was one of the worst children in the class who, by the way, did extremely good work but that isn't NEARLY as important as how bad he is socially.)

So I listened to this for a while, and then I said, "You know, this is really interesting. You're making this sound much more serious than the other teacher just did." She said, "Really? I don't mean to make you feel bad." I said, "Then why did you say he's one of the three biggest problems you have? We didn't hear that in the other room."

I am a firm believer in a teacher being in charge in the classroom, and I have no doubt that kids just have bad days sometimes. But it was also clear that this teacher had allowed a few kids to get "under her skin" and DS is one of them.... I kept telling myself, "MJ, it's only kindergarten, don't let yourself get all whipped up over this." But it was maddening to hear ONLY about his behavior and nothing about his academic challenges -- I'm taking him to school to get education, not to be able to keep green attendance cards, for goodness' sake. (Not that the cards aren't important, but why did I only hear about bad behavior from HER? See, I'm getting all worked up again. Now I have to go have a cup of herbal tea. )

Took DD out to lunch today, calmly asked her when she was going to actually finish her diploma. She got to graduate last year, but she was actually 1/2 credit short from an incomplete from 9th grade... so technically she does not have a diploma. She's planning on finishing it next fall when she starts on her associate degree in horticulture. We have a much better relationship than we've had in years. She actually moved in with us a couple of months ago, even though as recently as last summer she said she'd "never" move in with me. (When she said she was coming, she said, "I have good news for you, bad news for Bill (my dh) -- I'm moving in!" She and dh have never been best buddies, but they get along much better than either of them will let on, too.

Anyway, that's where I'm at today. On Saturday this week dd and I are going to see The Minnesota Orchestra -- it's a one-night-only of Led Zeppelin music. I can't wait!! It was dd's idea, although of course Mom had to buy the tickets.
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Knitting Withdrawal -- of sorts 02-16-2007 - 04:03 PM
Several years ago, I rediscovered knitting. I made the occasional baby blanket (very easy patterns -- nothing where I had to do much counting, so I could work easily while watching TV or visiting). Then, right before my hysterectomy, I was drawn to a prayer shawl project being done by the social ministry committee at my church. We were knitting shawls to give to shut-ins. I drove myself to the yarn store and bought three skeins of Homespun yarn... and so the true obsession began. (Insert ominous music here)

Sometime during the spring of 2005, I was shopping with dd, and we were at a yarn/fabric store. I said, rather offhandedly, "What if I made scarves for all of the seniors in pep band? Would they like that?" DD said that would be really neat, so I bought enough yarn to make 25 scarves in various combinations of red and black yarn. Fine and dandy, right?

I worked on the scarves all summer, and a few weeks into the fall, I presented dd with the scarves which she handed over to the band director. That Sunday in church, the director said, "Thanks so much for the scarves -- the kids in the back row LOVE them!" My heart skipped a beat -- he thought I meant them for each member. ACK!!! So I asked, "So Keith, exactly how many kids total are in band?" He said, "Oh, about 100." (My heart skipped two beats.)

Well, 90 scarves later (I knitted some extras for good measure), I was a knitting fiend. I was also so sick of red and black yarn that I may never use the combination again!

But now I have scads of yarns in all colors and textures. I knit with eyelash yarn, boa yarn, bulky stuff, alpaca fiber, fluffy yarn, sparkly yarn, and everything in between. There's a corner in my music room that looks as though a yarn store vomitted out half of its inventory!

My first love continues to be the scarf, where I do all sorts of different patterns and effects -- some with fringe, some with tassels.

I'm working on another prayer shawl and a baby blanket, and then I intend to start knitting pillows and other such useful items. I'm still reluctant to tackle mittens or gloves... I know I should just try, because the worst thing that could happen is that it's a dismal (and probably hilarious) failure... but I'm still not ready to try.

So here's where the "withdrawal" part comes in. The last couple of weeks have been so busy that my normal "knitting hours" of about 7-9:30 p.m. have been occupied by other means. In fact, a couple of days ago when ds was ready for his bath, he said, "Mom, carry your stuff up and I'll carry my toys up." I said, "I don't have anything to carry." And he said, "Don't you want to knit?" No -- I had to read something for work. No fun for mommy.

I also have some Scottish wool plaid fabric that my mother bought over 30 years ago in Scotland. She intended to make them into skirts for my sisters, I think -- but never used them. Amazingly, the fabric is still in perfect condition -- no moth balls or anything! I found it in her apartment when she died in 2002. My current plan is to make quilts (with flannel backing) for my sisters and me for Christmas this year. If I get started now, I'll have no trouble getting them done by December -- so that's my current plan.

Just two full days left until diet time... My daughter has me turned on to the Lean Cuisine site so I can enter in my calorie count for each day. Ack..... I know that keeping track of everything will be an issue. But that's what I need to do.

Hope ds will be able to go back in the pool this weekend after getting stitches last weekend. He's looking forward to it, too, and I need the exercise. Swimming will be my chief exercise during the diet months -- 5 days a week!! Wish me luck.
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Back to the Foot Doctor... ugh 02-15-2007 - 11:33 AM
Today's installment of "MJ's doctor adventure" -- it seems all I'm doing is going to doctor's offices these days!

Had my six-month checkup with the foot doctor today. Told her that the amount of vicoprofen I've been getting each month (30 pills per month) hasn't been cutting it during the wintertime, as it feels like my foot is hurting more when it's cold. In November and December, she gave me an extra 20 vicodin (so I could interchange vicodin and vicoprofen depending on how much inflammation I was feeling on a particular day) for those months, and I really noticed in January that I was suffering. So she is doing the same thing for me for February and March, hoping that by April the "winter aches" will be gone for a few months. She actually feels I'm doing rather well only needing this much per month -- I've basically stayed on the same dose since my latest injury in 2003.

Background: in 1989, I broke my right foot and it never really healed right. I have quite a bit of arthritis in my foot from that. In 1999, I broke my right leg right above the ankle. Then (just for good measure, I suppose ), I dislocated my right heel in 2003. This last injury is the one that has put me on a regular (though mild, really) dose of narcotics. Last fall, an anti-inflammatory (Daypro) was added to the list, along with orthotic supports for my shoes. And now that I'm starting to have foot cramps, I now have a prescription for quinine tablets. Let's hope that does the trick for that little problem.

After I had the consult with the doc, she seemed a little concerned that I am having as much pain as I am, so she had x-rays taken. I guess the resulting news was both good and bad. Good in the sense that I'm not nuts and I'm clearly not a drug-seeker... but bad in the sense that now arthritis has now started in earnest in my ankle and another part of my foot. So she and I discussed some strategies to try and keep it from progressing, but she said that basically it's just orthotics and pain control as things get worse.

I had my mole looked at yesterday, and DS had his stitches removed. They decided the mole was infected (it looked icky, plus I had a fever) so now I'm on antibiotics. Zap -- there goes $15. Next week I get to have the mole removed via outpatient surgery. Zap -- who knows how much?? Don't even want to think about that, or how much my four prescriptions for the foot are going to cost. 5 years ago I didn't take so much as an aspirin, but now since the heel dislocation I look like the poster girl for "better living through chemistry" ....

We're starting an office diet (kind of like "The Biggest Loser&quot next week. I guess I will have to dispose of my Valentine candy some way other than eating it... At least DH got me flowers instead of chocolate this year.
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DS's stitches and my doc appt.... 02-12-2007 - 03:45 PM
Well, on Wednesday DS and I will be taking up an hour or so of our doctor's time. DS has to have his stitches removed, and I have to have a mole looked at. I have a mole on my chest that "popped up" a few years ago, and wasn't really bothering me much, except it's red and disgusting. So the doctor froze it off a few months ago, and now in the last month or so it's grown back to be bigger than it was before, and it hurts and bleeds.

It wouldn't be so bad, except it's right at the edge of my cleavage, so I can't really even wear an open shirt with a camisole without it looking as though I have an ugly pimple on my chest. So it really has to be dealt with.

I hope they can just try freezing it again -- otherwise I suppose they have to do the surgery thing. But I'm sick of it bleeding like this. In fact, on Sunday morning I woke up and felt something sticky on my chest.... and I looked down and I had a huge stain (probably the size of a small saucer) over the mole, and the blood was pooling. Now my dh just called and said I needed to attend to a pillowcase, too . (It's always dark when I go to bed and when I get up, so I hadn't noticed.) I hope I don't have to throw the pillow -- unless of course it's the pillow I don't like, in which case I'll have to throw it.

Oh, and for the record -- here's what happened on Saturday: DS left the pool room in his flip-flops, but he was dripping wet, so the floor was wet. He was running on the tile (which he's not supposed to do) and he slipped and cut his chin on the edge of the ceramic tile floor. We're very lucky he didn't do more damage (put out some teeth, for instance). When he was at the ER, when the doctor asked him what happened, he described everything and then said, "Next time I'll WALK!"

Well, that's all for now.
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To the ER! Not me, DS..... 02-10-2007 - 09:20 PM
My last entry was about DS getting the "throw-ups" as he calls them.... Well, this entry is about him, too.

Today we were spending a relatively quiet morning at home before a planned outing to MOA (Mall of America) this afternoon. At about 10:30, I suggested to DS that he ask DH to take him swimming, so that he'd work off a little energy and hopefully be a little less "wired" when we went shopping. So they went into the pool for about a half hour. Then I heard DS come out of the pool area and then suddenly I heard him screaming and crying. I figured he'd slammed his finger in a drawer or something, but he came running up the stairs, dripping with water, screaming. (Talk about scary.)

Immediately I could see that there was blood under his chin, and I asked what happened. He was too hysterical to tell me anything except "I hurt myself" and he ran into the bathroom. Then he came out and grabbed the ice pack, but he wouldn't let me near him... back into the bathroom. I said, "I think we have to go to the doctor," and he screamed "NO!!" I made him let me in the bathroom, and I could see a gash under his chin. (All this time, DH was covering the pool and locking the pool room so he didn't know what was going on.) I kept trying to get DS to let me help him, and he just kept screaming. Then I said again, "Matt, we have to go to the doctor." And he said, "OK..." So we high-tailed it to the doctor where my very brave DS got five stitches under his chin.

As expected, the worst part of the whole procedure was the novacaine... but to his credit, he lay perfectly still and just sobbed very quietly until the shot was done -- then he screamed one more time, and it was over. He was really surprised that his chin didn't hurt anymore, and he kept asking, "When are you going to needle it all together?" And when the doctor said he was done, DS seemed genuinely shocked that anything had happened.

We went to MOA as scheduled, had a nice lunch and bought some Valentine candy. On the way home from the mall, DS slept -- it had been a stressful day for him. Got Papa Murphy take-and-bake pizza for dinner -- fabulous.

I have to do my valentines for work tomorrow. We decided to trade valentines this year, complete with decorated boxes or baskets. DD and I made two of the most gaudy boxes ever -- we wanted to inspire everyone!! I figure if the boss (me) makes herself a box, everyone else will, too. Even if people don't get cards for everyone, they are expected to at least give everyone a little candy bar or something. My dad got everyone gift certficates to a deli -- that will be much appreciated by everyone.

Well, that's enough for today. DS was rather subdued -- it was a big, stressful day for him. I think he'll probably sleep late in the morning. And maybe he'll want to help me decorate shortbread cookies after church tomorrow. I have lots of pink sugar and sprinkles to use.
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Sick DS, lots going on 01-08-2007 - 03:59 PM
On Saturday, DS got sick... we were swimming in the pool (which he insisted we do) and he started coughing. DH and I thought he just swallowed some water wrong, and then he threw up just a little -- he felt really bad, but we told him not to worry, the pool filter would take care of it. (It was truly only a tablespoon or so.) We continued the swim, and when we went upstairs, DS started complaining that his stomach hurt. He was sitting on the counter when he started throwing up -- truly, there was everywhere! DH was trying to make a hasty retreat, and I yelled for him to get a towel and take DS into the bathroom..... So he didn't get completely out of the cleanup aspects. Then DS laid on the couch, where he fell asleep at 7:00 p.m., slept all night, then (wisely) was not hungry during the day on Sunday and took a long nap. He was drinking water and 7-up, and finally had some pudding after suppertime. Poor thing! I hate it when these stomach things go around.

There's so much going on right now. My best buddies the bank examiners are here right now (can you detect my sarcasm) so they have us all running around in circles. Add to the that the stress of the bids on the bank coming in this week, and I'm a frazzled mess. But things will get better, I know.

DD wants to go to Disneyworld this year. I keep telling her we need to wait and see what happens, because who knows if I'll be able to take any time off this summer. But I agree it would be an awfully fun trip!

Well, all for now. Dad's eyesight is getting better (thank God) and he's very hopeful that the repairs done to his eye were successful.
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About Christmas Morning, etc... 01-05-2007 - 04:03 PM
I have got to get this down before I forget how cool it all was on Christmas.

First of all, ds (6) spent nearly all of December either a) having me write and re-write his Christmas list, b) having me read him his Christmas list, or c) asking me to "get to the dot-com" on the computer for his various toys (Hot Wheels, Matchbox, etc.). We went over and over it... I kept reminding him that he wouldn't necessarily get everything on his list.

Then we went to see Santa. I avoid those long lines at the mall by just taking him to our bank to see Santa. The problem is that they man who plays Santa at the bank happens to be my dad (ergo ds's grandpa). We've lucked out until now, but I really figured that we wouldn't get by with it this year, since Dad doesn't even try to disguise his voice or anything.

So we got to the bank, list in hand ("Mom, don't forget my list!&quot. He took his coat off, and Dad said, "Hi, Matt!" Now you have to know that he said it just like he always says "Hi, Matt" -- just like "Grandpa" says it. But what did Matt say? "Hi, Santa!" His eyes got as big as dinner plates as he sat on his lap and had me read the whole list. He took a great photo with him, then said, "Thanks!" and we left. I asked ds how it was, and he said, "He's magic, Mom! He knew my name!" We got by for another year.....

DD, ds and I made six (that's right -- SIX) trips to the Mall of America in December... One of them was to meet another (((Hystersister))) for dinner, which was wonderful. Anyway, on one of these trips DD and I picked up a large Lego toy for ds to be a gift from Grandpa. Don't you know, Matt climbed into the back seat and said, "Mom, what's the Duplo Castle doing back here?" OK, Mom's officially busted. I just said, "Matt, this is from Grandpa, and you had better be surprised on Christmas!" From that moment on, he just smiled whenever we read that part of the list, and he said, "I know I don't get everything -- but I hope I get the Duplo Castle."

So we get down to the wire, and dd and I spend a couple of hours after late church on Christmas Eve putting together various toys and other gifts. I finally got to bed at about 1:00 a.m.

At 7:40 a.m., dh gets out of bed, wondering why ds hadn't woken us up yet. Last year, he padded into our room and, when I told him it was Christmas, he tore down the stairs to the tree. This year, when dh went into the living room, there was ds, wrapped up in an afghan, just staring at his "Santa" toys (which we always have sitting out unwrapped). He hadn't touched them. He came into our bed and, in a very loud stage whisper, said, "Mom! I got the Imaginext Adventure Castle, the erupting volcano, the Matchbox Snow Monster Adventure Set, and the remote-control crane! And my stocking is full of candy!" He was in heaven.

The rest of the day was a flurry of activity -- opening gifts, playing with toys, etc. I was disappointed that we had absolutely NO snow and I had gotten ds a toboggan... But there was plenty to do anyway.

I got a turducken for our holiday feast. For those who don't know, that's a turkey (deboned except for the drumsticks and wings), stuffed with a deboned duck, stuffed with a deboned chicken. There's additional stuffing inside, too.... but of course I still had to make regular dressing (and mashed potatoes, and cheesy potatoes, and salad, and green bean casserole, and bread, ++++++ all the rest of the stuff It was a wonderful meal, shared with family.

My dad had to have some emergency surgery just before Christmas. He had a cataract surgery about 10 days before Christmas, and then on the Friday before Christmas he woke up not being able to see out of one eye -- talk about scary. He went down to Mayo (not where he had the original surgery, by the way), where they said, "This is bad -- we have to fix this with surgery." He said, "OK -- when?" They said, "Now." Honestly, ladies -- he never even signed a consent for surgery form! They took him straight from the clinic to Methodist hospital (in a wheelchair so he wouldn't lose his balance or anything), and he barely got a chance to call me to tell me he had been admitted and when to pick him up that evening.

The surgery lasted over three hours, and he had to be awake for it. The anesthesia wore off at the very end, so he was in quite alot of pain while they were stitching up his eye...

He had to spend several days with his head hanging down because of a gas bubble placed behind his eye. He is slowly regaining his sight, but wow -- what a scare. I don't know how he would have handled it if they hadn't been able to fix this. Thank God that he actually took it seriously and didn't think, "Oh, maybe this is normal and it'll get better" that morning when he woke up with the vision problem. If he had let it go, he would not be seeing out of that eye anymore.

So I start the new year with hopes for the future. We are trying to sell our family business, so I will probably start in a new career direction this year sometime. I'll have some cash to begin a business, but it's still scary to start something new.

All for now......
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Christmas Decorating, from a six-year-old boy's perspective 11-29-2006 - 04:59 PM
First, a few words about Thanksgiving, when I managed to feed 22 people turkey and all the trimmings.... I was BUSHED!!! Everything turned out pretty well, except I should have started the side dishes in the oven a little earlier -- since they were all in the fridge earlier, they needed a little extra time in the oven. Oh, well -- you can't have it all.

Then on to the day after Turkey Day, which is our traditional trim-the-tree-and-everything-else-that-isn't-nailed-down day. DH was watching our state high school football tournament on TV, and dd (18), ds (6) and I started unpacking all of the holiday treasures and decorations. We managed to get the tree up with only slight mishap (in the form of a broken lightbulb) and hung the lit garland on the stairs. Then I plugged away at the little tree in the front window, while dd tackled the kids' tree (all blue) and new blue lights for the bonus room upstairs.

DS and I then started unpacking some of the other stuff. I had a nativity scene that I hadn't unpacked since DS was a baby because it is porcelain, and, well -- you know there's just no point in crying over a broken nativity set when a young boy is in the house, so I just didn't unpack it. This year I said, "Matt, can I unpack this stuff? It's very precious. Will you touch it?" He said, "Oh, no, Mom -- I know: Breakable!" So I put the set out on my grand piano. I turned away to start putting out our Christmas village, and the next thing I saw, a little hand was going after one of the three kings.... I said, "Matt, what did I say?" He said, "Mom, I'll be so careful -- I just want them to be able to look out the window!" So, using every ounce of patience and deep breathing I had, I said, "OK -- go ahead." I watched him take each piece (treating each one as carefully as an egg) and put them on the window sill -- looking out! It was in a window seat, right next to where the Christmas village and the little Christmas tree were. He hasn't touched them since.

Today the friend who cleans for me came in and was still laughing about it. She said, "It's so nice that everyone gets such a good view out of the window...." meaning she had seen the nativity arrangement. I'll have to remember to take a picture. If only the window were East-facing (it faces west, unfortunately) we could say that they were looking for the star in the East.....

He's got his Christmas list all worked out. Can you guess? We have the Hot Wheels toys, the Matchbox toys, the Power Rangers, the Transformers, and an Imaginext toy. When I mentioned the idea that he might get some clothes, he looked at me with disbelief... But I do think Santa will come through with a shirt or two.

DD (18) has some slightly more sophisticated tastes (although ds likes Lindt truffles -- dark chocolate, please). But I think I have found something to surprise her with. When we moved into our new house this spring, she was bugging me to buy her a soda machine -- as in a machine that carbonates water. You can add mixes to it to make your own soda pop, or you can just have soda water. She kept trying to tell me how great it was, etc. and I have to admit I liked it, too -- but it was a little pricey and I was buying soooo much stuff for the house already!

Anyway, I remembered the website and went online a couple of days ago and ordered a machine and a bunch of the soda flavors. I think she'll be excited about it!

DH -- well, he actually wants a briefcase! It's pretty rare that he even has anything on his list at all. I'll also get him a wood-carved WWII tank. A local guy makes them, so hopefully he can get one done by Christmas.

Well, that's all I have time for today.
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Frustration with medical people 10-14-2006 - 08:08 AM
What else is new, right? Anyhoo, I'm having a colonoscopy next Wednesday (joy of joys) and they told me that a nurse would be calling me with my pre-procedure instructions. So yesterday, I got a call from a nurse who got all concerned because I take oxaprozin (anti-inflammatory) and vicoprofen (pain reliever) for my chronic foot pain and arthritis. She said I had to stop taking both medications immediately....

So I called my GP (the doc who scheduled the test) to say that if I couldn't take either of those meds, I'd need something like vicodin (which contains Tylenol instead of ibuprofen) for my pain. They said I should just take extra strength Tylenol, and they wouldn't prescribe anything stronger.

So I called my foot doctor's office, and got one of the nurses. I gave her my story, and when I said my GP said I should just take extra-strength Tylenol, she said, "Oh, yeah -- like THAT'S gonna work?" And then she asked why I had these instructions. She said that their hospital doesn't require stopping ibuprofen, etc. before this procedure. I said where I was having it done, and she said, "Just a minute -- let me grab the head surgical nurse...." And she came back in about 30 seconds and said that their hospital's docs are the docs who will do my colonoscopy (we're in a smaller town about 20 miles away and they come over one day a week for this), but that my GP's clinic hadn't gotten the 'new' prep instructions. So she said I could go ahead and take my meds. She actually said, "Go ahead -- take a pill, feel better!" I was sooooo relieved. And now I know that if I had really had to stop the meds, they would have given me a script to get me through.

It's amazing to me what a difference the oxaprozin makes. It's just an anti-inflammatory -- doesn't help with pain per se. But I've gotten so if I don't take it, I can really tell the difference in the stiffness of my foot and ankle! It's as crucial to my treatment plan as the pain relievers. I was also glad I could continue my vicoprofen (and ibuprofen as necessary) because taking Tylenol for me is usually like taking Tic Tacs... just doesn't do the trick.

Anyway, I'm getting all sorts of fellow sufferers who are letting me know how much fun the colonoscopy procedure is.... Actually they all agree that the procedure is fine (since you're pretty much out of it) but the prep.... My pastor (of all people) said, "Just let me tell you -- don't even think of being anywhere but the bathroom for a few hours!" One of my employees admitted to moving her TV into the bathroom. Well, it will all be over on Wednesday.
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It's snowing! 10-11-2006 - 04:52 PM
Yes, you heard it here first -- snowflakes are falling in southern Minnesota. I know, I know -- every year I exclaim that I actually like winter, and that if I stop liking it, it's time to move. But snow on October 11? I'm not ready.... more importantly, this means another trip to the Bullseye Boutique (Target) to get DS his winter gear.

Also, I tossed my winter coat last year, so I guess it's time to stop procrastinating and actually get a winter coat. Luckily I'm a knitting fanatic so I have scarves galore to choose from. I also have a pattern for gloves that I'm going to try this year.

I'm still waiting for a call from the hospital about my colonoscopy next week. They were supposed to call with more instructions about the whole thing. I've been online and gotten more insight on what is going to happen (even some video! ) and I'm considering using a low-residue diet for a couple of days before the bowel prep to make things a little easier. Low residue means foods that won't leave lots of gunk in the intestines, like well-cooked veggies instead of raw, reducing certain meats.... etc.

I'm looking forward to a family birthday party this Sunday. Sister #1 and her fiance are bringing homemade spaghetti sauce, sister #2 is bringing all sorts of salad stuff, Dad's bringing the birthday cake, and I'm making a crockpot chicken fettucini and baking some homemade bread. I am making sure that my niece and nephew bring their swimsuits because Matt always likes swimming buddies and teenagers have much more energy than those of us advancing in years..... The party will be great and we always have lots to talk about -- local politics is one of the favorite topics of conversation. My dh is running for our city council this year, so he has lots of ideas on what we should be doing in our city. Hope he wins -- he really would be a good addition to the council.

Well, that's all I have time for right now. I have to dash off to church choir practice.
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I am an art teacher! (NOT) 10-08-2006 - 10:09 PM
I'm not much of an artist -- my stick people don't even look good. But even I can run a glue gun... so I'm teaching a rotation in our Sunday school for the next few weeks in the art room. We're gluing stuff on small canning jars, and the kids really get into it.

Spent the day cleaning and preparing for the coming week. I am having everyone over from work for breakfast -- making the same thing five days in a row for approximately 8 people per day. Crockpot egg casserole, pumpkin chocolate chip bread, popovers, fruit, and juice.

And the biggest accomplishments of the weekend? I want a drum roll here.... (OK, I'll have to settle for the band ) I actually got all of my boxes unpacked, and I also got the bedskirt put on our bed! We moved in May, and FINALLY there are no boxes lying around. As for the bedskirt -- it might not seem like a big deal, but since we have one of those Sleep Number beds (I'm a 55, by the way ) I have to trim off the middle part and pin the whole thing into place, so it's a pain and I am soooooo good at procrastinating. But it's done now!

I feel like I'm sort of just going through the motions, though, since we're now thinking that we're going to sell our business within the next six months. The associates who work for us are doing so great -- but it's just too hard to keep this up. While Dad's health is OK, he's not nearly the man he was 10 years ago. He has a degenerative nerve disorder and he's slowly losing his ability to use his hands. (We joke that he's "losing his grip" ) And his upper body strength is going, too. And I know it would destroy him to have to retire!

He really wants to see the business sold so that I'm not 100% responsible for my sisters' inheritances, because they are tied up in the business. I can really understand how he feels, and honestly -- I don't want to have that much responsibility, either. He says that, strangely enough, it was easier for him when he owned 100% of everything because he felt like he was gambling with his own money, but now that he only owns 49%, it's our money he's betting each time we make a bold business move.

So we are going to the work of putting a packet together for prospective buyers, and within 6 months we should be able to change hands. I hope I'll be able to stay on for a period of time -- mostly because I'll need a job but also because I want to see the transition through.
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DS's birthday 10-06-2006 - 03:58 PM
DS's birthday was on Tuesday. He apparently wanted to give it an early start, because he showed up in our room at 4:30 a.m. (ack!). I told him we'd go lie on the couch in the living room, but after we got out there, he said he'd go back up to his room. Not knowing if he was going to come down again, I stayed on the couch, and then of course we all slept in until almost 7:00 (I had turned my alarm clock off thinking DS and I would be up "for the duration" at 4:30). Luckily I didn't have to pack a lunch for school that day!

DH's mom came over for dinner (hamburger stroganoff, mashed potatoes, corn and birthday cake) and then DS opened his gifts. Got a magnetic toy from his aunt, a David Bowie t-shirt and a bunch of kid movies from my dd, and then it was time to open grandma's gift. (Insert ominous music here.) That's right, sisters -- my darling MIL got him blue jeans and a red sweatshirt. Not a Spiderman sweatshirt, or a Power Ranger sweatshirt, or even a MN Vikings sweatshirt.... a plain red sweatshirt. I know it's a gift and all, but he's got a closet full of clothes! (Imagine how thrilling it had to have been for this 6-year-old. ) He was actually quite gracious, but obviously nonplussed. Oh, well, they can't all be exciting gifts, right?

DH and I got him his Crazy Croc (it's a Hot Wheels thing), a remote-control Power Ranger, and some sort of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle deal. (Can you tell this is the first boy I've raised? I tell you, Barbies were lots easie to figure out than this boy stuff.)

Right now we're going through some family stuff. My dad and I are considering selling our family business. The regulation in our industry is just getting too intense, and things have changed too much over the years. We're planning on breaking the news to my sisters (who along with me own 49% of the business, my dad owns the other 49%, and other stockholders own the rest) next week. It's a really bittersweet sort of thing. We'll all have a good chunk of change to invest, but wow -- giving up something we've had for over 40 years isn't easy.

Enough of that for now.
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The Freezing of the Mole and other items 10-02-2006 - 10:44 PM
Such a title, right?

Well, today I got a mole frozen off my chest. The darned thing showed up out of the blue about 3 years ago and it looks like an ugly, red pimple right above my right breast, toward the middle. So any time I wear even so much as a tank top, I'm always self-conscious about it.

Finally decided to go in for it, and the doctor comes in with the blow torch! Just kidding -- except if you've ever had this done, you know that the liquid nitrogen canister does kind of look like a blow torch or a fire extinguisher. It stung a little, but wasn't too bad overall.

Then I had to ask the hard question -- and I prefaced it by saying, "I know what you're going to say, Gail...." She looked at me strange, and I said, "I need a colonoscopy." She asked about my symptoms, which I am almost 100% sure are from hemmorhoids (and she thinks so too -- lots of bright red blood with bowel movements) but we agreed it was a good idea to check to make sure. I have an uncle who has had colon cancer, and even if you have no family history -- who's to say I can't be the first? I've had problems with hemoorhoids ever since dd (18) was born, but lately the symptoms and pain have just gotten to be too much.

So the bowel prep that most hysterectomy (((sisters))) get to endure -- the same bowel prep I escaped when I had my surgery -- will be mine in a couple of weeks. I got my instructions and the prescription for the stuff to mix with the Gatorade. Let's see, chicken broth, beef broth, vegetable broth... with a little orange Jello for texture? Ack.

I know I'll end up more nervous about this than my hysterectomy. I was pretty sure there was nothing more than fibroids going on with my hyst, but there really could be something going on here (chances are that it's just the hemmorhoids, but even they can be a pain as I already know). Wish me luck on the 18th!
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It has been a while - house for sale, DD's car, DS's tooth 09-26-2006 - 09:08 PM
It has been a while since I blogged here. Our other house is for sale (along with lots of others in our town). We've only had two people look at the house in over 8 months on the market. The house is nice, big, and near the lake -- but the market has gone completely in the toilet. Add to this the joy of making double house payments, and well -- you can imagine. I'm really loving our new place, but I sure wish we didn't have the $$ going out on the old house every month, too.

DD and I picked up her car a few weeks ago. She had originally thought she wanted a Passat, but then she saw the price tag. So she settled on a Beetle. We went to pick it out, and she had her heart set on blue. But then she saw the red one.... it was all over. So we bought it. We'll see how much she enjoys the 36 payments before it's officially "hers".

The day we went to pick it up, we stopped to take her permit test. I had tried to prepare her for the possibility that she wasn't going to pass the test the first time, but there was no telling her. You guessed it -- she missed passing by 3 points. So we drowned our sorrows at the local Dunn Brothers' coffee joint.

A week later (after she assured me that she had studied more) we went back and she took the permit test again. 89% and success was finally hers. Now she has to wait six months to take her actual behind-the-wheel test. We've done a little practicing -- very little, though, because she's a little impatient. But she's so far refusing to take the behind-the-wheel training (I think she should.). We'll see how it goes, I guess.

DS has a loose tooth! A couple of weeks ago, he asked me to look in his mouth and I saw an adult tooth growing in behind his bottom middle teeth. It didn't hurt... And today he has a loose tooth. Says it doesn't hurt -- so I imagine he'll have a nice hole there just in time for his kindergarten pictures in a couple of weeks. He turns 6 next week, and if you're looking for any gift ideas for him (which I'm sure you all are ), pretty much anything involving Power Rangers is the right ticket this year. (Spiderman and Batman are still OK, but it's the Rangers that are really in favor right now.)

Last week he got in trouble three times at school. I sure hope he's getting it out of his system early in his career. So now our deal is that when he "brings home a slip" from his teacher, he can't go in the pool and he can't have any desserts. We'll see how it goes. Tonight, though, it seemed to register. He asked me to go swimming with him, and I said no -- but then he said, "But Mom, you said I could if I was good." How could I argue with that? Besides, I needed the exercise.

Next week I'm going to the doctor to get a mole removed from my upper chest. It's a nasty-looking thing that has only been around for a few years. But it looks like a red pimple and it makes me really self-conscious. I hate stuff like this. Wonder if they'll give me the morphine drip for it? Probably not, I know. I imagine they'll just freeze it off right in the doc's office.

Well, that's enough for today. See ya later.
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My Doc Listened to Me! 09-06-2006 - 04:59 PM
I've been dreading going back to my foot doctor. (My regular foot guy is on a leave of absence to care for a sick child right now, so I have an associate of his.) I saw this new doc a few months ago for continuing foot pain after several injuries to my foot, heel and leg over the years.

Anyhoo, at my first appointment, she was kind of stand-offish, sent me to a guy for an arch support, and prescribed me an anti-inflammatory, but no vicodin (which is really all that helps with the pain some days.) A few weeks after that appointment, I called my GP for a refill on a motion-sickness medication (completely different doc office) and when I got to the pharmacy, there was a refill on my vicodin from the foot doctor! I couldn't believe it.... The pharmacist called in the wrong med, but obviously the foot doctor OK'd a refill on the vicodin.

Fast-forward to last week. I called in for another refill on both meds, and was told I had to be seen by the doctor..... (insert ominous music here) Today was appointment day. I was expecting her to quiz me about how much pain I was really having, etc. Instead, she just sat down, said she had talked to my other doctor, and that this was just a twice-a-year follow up to document which meds are working and what the plan is. She then wrote me a one-month supply of both the anti-inflammatory and a stronger version of vicodin -- each with five refills! She said she just needed to get it down for about a 4-6 month supply so that I didn't have to keep calling in every month.

Halleluiah! I don't have to beg for pain meds and I can get on with my life for a while.
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Did I see you at the state fair today?? 09-03-2006 - 08:36 PM
C'mon -- I was there with about 100,000 of my closest friends, I'm sure I can remember your face if you were there.

Took the kids to the fair today. We took DD's new car -- it really is a new salsa red VW Beetle. Only catch is that she doesn't have a license yet (I know, I know -- but she wanted to buy it when she was 18. She had her downpayment, all I had to do was co-sign the loan. And until she has her license -- guess who gets to drive it? )

Anyway, when we go to the state fair we always have to leave early in the a.m. to get there for breakfast... Today I convinced them to stop off at Dunn Brothers on the way so that Mama could get a mocha with an extra shot of espresso in it (yum!).

Got to the fair, had breakfast of biscuits and gravy, toast and hashbrowns (extra butter for Matt of course!), then we wandered around a bit. It started out as a rather cold, rainy day. Got a cone of chocolate chip cookies and cold milk (yum! again) and sat down on a very cold, very wet bench. Oh, well, I wore black pants today so that my wet behind wouldn't show.

Finally the buildings opened at 9:00 a.m., so we walked around the commercial building. I actually bought a massage thing -- you put it behind your back and it does deep tissue massage. For $199 I thought it was a good deal -- of course DH thought it was a stoo-pid purchase. (He won't be saying that in 10 days when it arrives and he gets his first turn with this thing working on his shoulders!)

Then we rode the skyride, went to the kids' midway and Matt rode some rides, and then it was time for lunch. Kids both had wild rice corndogs and I had cream cheese wontons... Then we shared some cheesecurds and DD got us some gelato. I got coffee flavor, naturally... And an ex-employee of mine has a cotton candy stand, so we got some apple-flavored cotton candy, which was much better than I figured it would be.

After a few more rides and some cinnamon-sugar almonds (to die for!) we headed home. Luckily we left when we did, because the sky opened up with a big thunderstorm about 20 minutes after we left the fair!

All in all, a good day.
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I'm Melting! I'm Melting! 07-29-2006 - 09:58 PM
Honestly, it is sooooo hot. We started out with such a cool summer. I remember when DD had her graduation party on June 9 or 10, it was so cold everyone wanted to eat indoors and those who wanted to brave the outdoors were in sweatshirts. We had lots of rain -- in fact, it was a little too wet.

Now we're dry, dry, dry. Any farmers who don't irrigate have crops which, well, they may as well plow under. It has been in the upper 80's and 90's for the past 2 weeks, and tomorrow and Monday it is supposed to top 100 degrees. And I'm in MINNESOTA! We're not used to the heat up here. And it's not like in Arizona, where they always say "But it's a dry heat here".... Which of course I also think is rubbish, since it's still 100 degrees. But here in MN it's 100 degrees with 80% humidity! It's like a jungle.

Tonight DH and I went to a birthday party for a good friend. We arrived at the party at 7:00 and left at 9:30, and each of us had 5 bottles of ice-cold water during the party (well, DH might have had 6). And we were both dripping with sweat! I did have to go potty when I got home, but not that bad, either.... so that means that my body really needed all of that hydration. It is "only" 88 degrees right now at 10:48 p.m.

So tomorrow I will attempt to stay indoors as much as possible. I'll swim with DS in the pool (which is thankfully indoors). Even though it's indoors, it still feels wonderful to splash around in it when your body has been hot all day long.

I went to my brother-in-law's pottery studio to get a wedding gift today. He makes the most amazing pottery... he actually paints with the glaze. Each piece is truly a piece of art, and I am always proud to give his pieces away as gifts.'

DS and I went to Applebee's for lunch. He had grilled cheese (which he pronounced "Delicious!&quot and an Oreo sundae. He was in heaven. Oh, to be five years old again!
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Success With the Diving Board 07-06-2006 - 10:12 PM
Well, thank goodness we don't have to hang our heads in shame anymore. Yes, DS has mastered the water slide at the swimming pool, and he now can jump off the diving board all by himself! Also, a couple of nights ago, he swam to me almost halfway across our pool -- must have been at least 30 times. It's so good to see him learning these skills.

We had a fantastic 4th of July. I am rather bummed, however. I entered two knitted items to be judged. The one item was a baby blanket -- I just about knitted my very fingers off with that thing! Lots of time, lots of effort. For this I got a lousy white ribbon (third premium).

Because I was embarrassed to just enter one item, I also took a scarf that I had whipped out in about an hour several months ago. It was made out of a fluffy novelty yarn, but it was almost disgustingly simple -- just knit, knit, knit the whole way through. Naturally, I got a blue ribbon on that one!

Had the family over for food after the parade and the fair on the 4th. I tried out a new potato salad recipe and a wonderful broccoli cole slaw recipe I saw Paula Deen make on her TV show. They were both huge hits!!!

Busy weekend -- and I have to buy a new comforter set for our bed this weekend. I'm having all of our employees out to the house for breakfast meetings next week, and I just can't have them all see our bedroom with the ratty old comforter on it! The final home improvement on the new house (except of course for the new furniture which hasn't been delivered yet -- but I can't do anything about that part).

Well, all for now.
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DS in swimming lessons! 06-27-2006 - 03:39 PM
So my dh called me at work today and said, "You son is a failure." Of course, he said it with that voice which means, "The situation is hopeless, but not serious." Turns out that on the first day of swimming lessons (yesterday), ds would not slide down the water slide -- even though he talks about it incessantly. He..get this..walked down the slide. Today, on Day 2 of the swimming lesson adventure, it took the lifeguards 5 minutes to "talk him down" the slide but he did eventually do it. But the diving board? No way!

They are just trying to get rid of any fears of the water. This is ds's first attempt at lessons, and of course he wasn't the only kid who was afraid of stuff. There was one girl who wouldn't even go near the board -- she just bawled. But they have to do these things if they're ever going to learn to swim!

Anyway, dd and I have a mission tonight (while dh is at a meeting) to get Matt to jump (into our arms of course) into the deep end of the pool at home! This is now a matter of family pride, apparently. I think it must be a guy thing.

Work has been incredibly busy. We're struggling with the usual stuff -- personnel issues, regulations, squeezed profit margins. It can be a real drag to have to explain to employees, who already think we're making scads of money, that we need to make more so that we can grow. (We're a bank) We have to maintain a certain level of capital, which has to be increased by earnings, or we can't take on new loans and deposits. And we want to grow, which means we have to push for profitability all of the time. We're doing well, and the staff is doing a fantastic job -- but it's hard work, too.
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On the Finish Line w/the blanket 06-26-2006 - 10:59 AM
I only have about 10 more rows of knitting on that baby blanket! (Well, I have to do the edging, too -- but that's no big deal.) I should actually have it done for the shower on Thursday.

DS is all excited about our local fair. The rides, the food, the games -- and, well, I have to admit that Mom's a little excited, too. I love the game where you throw balls into the cups. For some reason, I do really well at that one! And I like the little kiddy barnyard.

I hope I win at least a red ribbon (if not blue) for the baby blanket and the scarf I'm going to enter.

We've been having lots of rain lately. Our sprinklers are set to go off every day (because we have new sod) and the last time DH mowed the lawn, he sank right in! But they tell us that as long as there's no standing water, it's fine.

Last practice for community band tonight. Now it's on to several performances at local events. It's fun to play in the band, but it's a little sad because the director took a new job in another town and he won't be back next summer to direct us.

DD is getting a good surprise tomorrow. She works with me at the bank, and today her supervisor came to me and said that DD and the other high-school graduate we have working for us are working enough hours that they should really be considered full-time employees. (I was thinking this myself but I didn't want to be the one to suggest that my own dd get benefits, even if I am the boss.) This means they get 20 days of PTO per year, paid holidays, paid insurance, etc. just like everyone else here. She will be so excited because now she'll get paid for the 4th of July!

Enough for now. Except for one thing -- I have decided I'm just going to throw the rest of the stuff I haven't unpacked yet. I absolutely CANNOT look at another box. Think the garbage people will notice 25 full boxes out on the curb?????? I'm just kidding, everyone. Actually, I'm down to just a few boxes (other than my music room and office which I can't unpack because the furniture hasn't arrived.) but one of them is the good crystal and I'm putting that one off because I know I have to wash all of it before I put it away. ACK!
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MOA and now I'm hungry! 06-24-2006 - 09:05 PM
Went to MOA (Mall of America) today with dd, one of her friends (a boy! ) and ds (5). We had a great lunch at Twin City Grill -- I had the grilled flatbread pizza combo with a Caesar salad and BBQ chicken pizza. Absolute favorite! I snarfed the whole thing down, along with two big glasses of iced tea. Then I had an espresso chiller at Caribou (yum) and so I was STUFFED. After we got done shopping, we were on our way to the yarn store so I could get some more supplies, and my phone rang. DD of course didn't want me to answer it because DH has a bad habit of calling way too much.... "Where are you? When will you be home?" That sort of thing. Anyhoo, I answered it (of course) and he asked, in a kind of strange voice, "You're not on the road, are you?" I said we were in Apple Valley (suburb of Minneapolis, about 35 minutes from home). He said, "You might want to stay up there a while. The tornado siren just went off." ACK!

We just got lots of rain, no tornado. (Thank God) But timing just didn't work out and I never got supper. So now it's 10:00 p.m. and I'm starving. I'm debating whether to have a snack before bed. Unfortunately, when I eat before bed it often causes strange dreams, so maybe I shouldn't.

Tomorrow we're going to...drum roll...stay at home! I have to keep working on the baby blanket, which is now about 24 inches long. I want it to be 32-34 inches long, and it has to be done by Thursday to give to my employee. Knit, knit, knit......

Next Sunday I'm also playing in church. Our organist has retired, and I'm one of the fill-ins. I do a good job, and I suspect there are folks in the church who wish I would apply to be her replacement. Just between us (((sisters))), I'd like to do it. But DH has this idea that I'd spend 40 hours a week practicing or something. He knows better -- I just take things as they come and I'm pretty laid back. I will see if the pastors want me to apply for the job, and if so, I'll ask them to do a little sweet-talking of DH . They're both pretty good at that.

DS has been "attempting" riding his bike the last two days. It's pretty cute, actually. Riding a bike, as we know, is one of those things that suddenly you just "catch on" to, so I hope it happens soon for him. But so far he's having a great time trying and he's not getting discouraged at all.

Enough for tonight -- now it's time to make that decision of whether to snack or not.
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Foot cramps and new bikes 06-23-2006 - 09:59 PM
DS got his new bike this week. DH ordered bikes for the two of them, along with helmets, and DS also got knee pads, elbow pads, and training wheels. Well, everything arrived, but here's the catch: SOME ASSEMBLY REQUIRED.... I told DH he should have gotten the bikes at a local store because they actually put them together. He said, "No, I'll be fine." Mind you, this is a guy who finds anything more involved than changing a lightbulb too difficult. After two days of trying to get things together, he finally threw himself at the mercy of the local hardware store and got the rest of the assembly done. However, the training wheels for DS's bike didn't work, so he's going to learn to ride the "old fashioned" way. Good thing he has the helmet, knee pads, and elbow pads. They tried twice today, and Matt actually did go a few feet on his own before either a) forgetting to pedal or b) tipping over.

Got in the pool tonight for about 1-1/2 hours. Had trouble with cramping, but this time in my left foot. Usually the cramps are in the right foot. I wish this problem would go away! Finally broke down today and called for more pain meds because the late afternoon aches are still just too much. But the new anti-inflammatory drug the doc started me on has really helped with the arthritis.

Tomorrow I have to get more yarn because I'm working on a baby blanket for one of my employees and I'm running out. I think I shouldn't have used a double strand of yarn, because now it looks like I'll need 6 skeins of yarn instead of 4. But it will be a very warm, soft blanket and I hope she and the baby enjoy it. I've already warned the mom-to-be that I'll be taking the blanket back after her shower and entering it in the local fair. But I'll give the baby any prize money I win with the blanket.

We're also going to MOA (Mall of America) tomorrow. It's only about a half hour away, and the kids really like it. DD may ask a friend to come along, and DS will spend the afternoon at Kid Quest (childcare). My challenge: to avoid spending anything, although I really do need a new comforter set for our bedroom...... We'll see what happens.
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Taking DS to "Cars", Musings on Child Safety 06-16-2006 - 08:03 AM
I don't know when I've been more excited about going to a kid's movie.... I'm taking DS to "Cars" tomorrow. I absolutely can't wait!

DH ordered bikes for himself and DS yesterday, too. There's something about the face of a little boy who is about to get his first bike that just melts your heart. And it's not only the bike, it's the helmet, the knee pads, and the elbow pads (Batman motif).

It's amazing how anyone of my generation survived childhood, given all of the safety measures my kids have to live with! When I was a baby, there was no such thing as a car seat. We either rode on Mom's lap (because of course Dad was always driving), or they took the top off of the baby buggy and we laid in that. And my crib was painted with lead-based paint, with slats wide enough for my head to get caught in. I never wore a helmet, or knee pads, or elbow pads when I rode my bike. In fact, I had an adult-sized bike at the age of 7 (my parents weren't about to buy me TWO of them....). The first year I had the bike, I had to ride standing up!

It does make me wonder if we've gone a little overboard, but as they say, "them's the rules!" So of course we abide by them.

On Sunday DH and I are going to Minneapolis for a few days for a convention. Should be a fun few days away from home, even if it's only an hour away. On one of the days, we get to go on the Minnesota Zephyr, which is a 40's era train. It goes from the cities to Stillwater and back, and you get a fancy meal and entertainment.

I'm still waiting for my arch supports for my feet. My foot doc changed my medication for my arthritis, which is really working well. However, my heel and ankle are now hurting alot. It's hoped that the arch supports will help alleviate some of the pain. But I'm so tired of hurting! I also hope that getting into my pool more will help me lose weight, get into better shape, and thus have less strain on my feet. Hope, hope, hope.

Well, that's enough for today.
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DD's grad party -- I finally got to sleep! 06-14-2006 - 02:16 PM
What is it that is so stressful about graduation parties? I mean, other than counting on weather (unpredictable), having no idea how many people are going to show up or when during the 3-hour long event (more unpredictability), and stressing out over food and beverages? (Again, unpredictable. If it's hot, they'll all want water. If it's cold, they won't want anything cold. )

We invited about 100 people to dd's party, and about 70 showed up, which I think is actually pretty good, especially considering that about half of her classmates seemed to have parties on the same day she did! We had excellent roasted pork (her dad made it), meat and cheese trays, homemade potato salad, fruit kabobs (I did those, thank you very much! They were lovely), chips and dip (my killer Triple Onion Dip), and our local bakery made a great cake.

After her party, we took in a couple of others. One of them was so over-the-top, I actually felt bad for the graduate! At our party, we hung out at my dad's house, which is on a local lake. Most people either sat inside or in the garage -- it was only in the low 60's so it was a little chilly.

Anyhoo, we got to this other party, and although I was somewhat prepared, I was still a little surprised. First, there were at least 100 people there -- and that's just when we were there. I'm sure there were 300-400 folks altogether. Most of the guests were businesspeople (no connection to the girl graduating -- all business associates of the parents). There was beer and wine flowing freely (which I just think is in poor taste at a high school graduation. A cooler of beer in the corner -- fine. But a keg and six kinds of wine? I don't think so. ) and catered Mexican food. Then there was the "shrine" to the graduate. At least 1,000 photos collaged on tagboard, every award she had ever won since kindergarten, and to top it off, a laptop computer with a slideshow on it. (Have I said yet that I was embarrassed?)

Oh, and the parents rented the fancy tent with the windows and lights inside. (What it needed was heat though -- it was cold in there!)

This girl probably raked in a few thousand $$ at this party, too. There just comes a point where these parties are greed fests. IMHO of course.

Anyhoo -- after the parties, we came home and absolutely collapsed. I went to bed at about 9:30 p.m. and woke up at 5:45 the next morning to go potty.... Then figured I'd lie in bed a while until DH woke me up to get up and get ready for church. The next thing I knew, I heard DS calling to me from what seemed like a long way off..... but he was right next to me. "Mom!" "Mom!" (My ears had plugged up during the night.) I woke up and looked at the clock -- it was 7:40 a.m. I haven't slept for 10 hours in....I don't know how long!!!

I was still beat on Sunday, but got good sleep Sunday night. We all felt much better on Monday!

Well, enough for now.
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Moving, Part One 05-26-2006 - 10:44 PM
Well, the packing got done on time and the movers showed up on Wednesday at 7:15 a.m. We were supposed to have a four-man crew, but only three showed up. One of the ones who did show up got sick about two hours after they showed up and had to leave. So we were left with two very tired, very sweaty men... I called them Frick and Frack because they weren't exactly the best. The move slowed down to a crawl.

I had to go have lunch with a group of co-workers at a local country club (OK, so I probably shouldn't say I "had" to go, but really, going out for a Rueben isn't such a big deal, and I was soooo busy with moving! But I was the leader of the team so I was a good sport. Besides, I had to pay for lunch 'cuz I'm the boss..) and when we got back, I was so glad to see that the moving truck had made it to our new house! But when I got inside, DH said, "It's going really badly. They still haven't gotten our bed, most of the stuff from the basement, or your piano."

At this point, I was actually somewhat relieved, because the thought of those, um, guys even touching my "baby" (my piano) made me want to cry. But still, things weren't going well. DH said that two more guys were supposed to show up. At about 3:00, one guy did come -- he was very nice, very strong, and started running up and down the stairs with stuff. Then guy #4 showed up. Now this was a mover! He really knew what he was doing. I was feeling MUCH better.

They went back to our old house to get the rest of the stuff, and DH went to pick up DS from daycare. We got back to the new house with the piano (which was leaking water out of its humidifier -- I hope no damage was done! ) and the rest of the stuff at about 5:00, so at this point the move had taken about 10 hours. Should have been completely over in 8 or less.

DS was under foot, so I just said, "We're gonna get out of here" and took off for Applebee's for supper. It's about a 1/2 hour drive there, so we were able to kill 1-1/2 hours. Just as dessert was arriving (I mean, we had to kill time, so dessert was a necessity, right??? And that caramel apple pie of theirs is to die for!), DH called and said that the movers had just left. Yikes!

Got home, got DS's bed made up (complete with all the animals, of course) and put him to bed. I was ready for a big trauma, but he kept saying, "Mom, my room here is just like at the old house, except it's bigger and I have my own bathroom." It was great. And actually, the room is set up pretty much the same.

Collapsed in bed at about 9:30. Didn't even get a chance to swim!

Yesterday, we had various vendors over. The security system people were here for several hours, trying to get the system up and running. Then the satellite TV guy was over getting the rest of the TVs operational.

Our Love Sacs showed up, and DS and I had a great time "fluffing" them. For the uninitiated, Love Sacs are like beanbag chairs, only they're filled with foam instead of poly beads. They're really comfortable. We got three of them for the kids' TV room, along with a couple of body pillows.

Today we had the security people back (because our house started "beeping" at us -- something was wired wrong), and the satellite TV guy came again. I'm so sick of people coming into the house!

Oh, and speaking of being sick of things....... the next time I move (which I think will be in the year 2036, so I had better come back to this journal and remember this next statement), I have got to remember to write something other than "Miscellaneous" on all of the boxes. Oh, I got the room they were going to, but when you have a dozen boxes that say "Kitchen Misc." -- you get the idea. But the way I pack, I get the box filled about halfway with the main stuff, then I kind of graze through and fill with various things ("Oh, those potholders will fill up that box just perfectly&quot so it takes a couple of days to fill each box. By the time I'm ready to label the box, I can't remember what I put in it!! And there's no sense in trying to dig through to identify everything, or the way the box fits together will fall apart.

Today DS, DD and I went to the Bullseye Boutique (Target) and spent almost a record amount of $$. I don't think I've ever gone over $500 there at one time, except when I've bought electronics. Well, we did it tonight. Between pool stuff, clothes, and toilet brushes, brooms, cleaning supplies, and kitchen gadgets, we broke the proverbial bank. Oh, and I needed a new coffeemaker and coffee grinder....

Enough for now. Time for bed! I'm still not that comfortable in my room, but that will come in time.
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Meeting the fiance... 05-12-2006 - 09:27 PM
Tomorrow dh and I are going to meet his dd's fiance. He's several years older than she is, with a 12-year-old son. Hmmmm.... she's only 24. Somehow I don't have a good feeling about all of this, but dh is much more philosophical. Of course, he's right -- she has to be able to make her own mistakes. Actually, he's much more calm than I thought he'd be about this.

One of my friends lost her son to a freak accident on Wednesday night. Today I got a call from my pastor saying that my friend wanted me to play piano and sing at the funeral. Later, when I talked to her, she sobbed on the phone. It was so hard to listen to her -- her son was only 25 and his life was over in a flash!

DD told me today that her dad (my ex) insisted that she spend Mother's Day with me. Actually, Mother's Day has never been that big of a deal for me. If I could convince my dh that it was another occasion fit for a dozen roses, then there'd be something there! But I don't even get a card from him. ("You're not my mother".) Really, I don't care one way or another about the day. I do feel bad for women who either do want a big deal made for them and don't get it, or for those who are sad because they aren't mothers or who have lost their mothers and/or children.

I think about how Sunday is going to be for my poor friend Sharon, as her family gathers for her son's funeral. What kind of Mother's Day will this be for her?

Anyway, I'll pick dd up after church on Sunday and we'll go and look at the house with a couple of her friends. I also think that I will make my favorite meal on Sunday -- fried chicken, mashed potatoes, salad, homemade rolls, and maybe some sort of dessert. I know, I know -- I'm supposed to go out on Mother's Day. But every decent restaurant is a complete zoo on that day! I'd much rather make something for myself.
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The house is ours! 05-10-2006 - 04:39 PM
Well, we closed on the house last Thursday. Although I had confidence that everything would go just fine, dh does not have as much faith as I do. He kept bugging me about it... ("When are we closing? When are we closing?&quot A few weeks ago, I just let the mortgage company know we'd like to close the first week of May, and never called again. The gal who does our mortgages here at the bank came to me last Monday and said, "The soonest we can do this is Thursday." So I got to call dh with the "bad news" He was shocked, but I never had any doubt everything would be fine.

I met the appraiser the night before we closed, and he said he was really upset because the appraisal came in lower than the purchase price for the house. I said I understood, but he said that the house was worth every penny we were paying for it... there just weren't enough good comparables in the area. He said we should wait two years, get the house re-appraised, and refinance our loan. (We ended up with a big second mortage because of the appraisal being so low.) I don't know if we'll do this, but it sounded good.

We found out today that the lady doing our window treatments quit last week! Hmmm.... Anyway, I have to call the place tomorrow or Friday to make sure that everything we ordered is still on track.

We're looking forward to moving on May 24. I filled a few boxes during my lunch today. It's really hard for me to pack at night because Matt takes stuff out as fast as I can put it in the boxes... so I really have to do everything when he's not around. Have I mentioned lately how much I hate packing?

I have an appointment with my foot guy on May 22. The pain just isn't getting any better. I hope he's able to figure something out for me.

I also hate to admit that I feel like I have fluid on my abdomen again, but I know I need to face it sooner or later. Starting to get that icky, burning pain again.
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Prom Night... 04-29-2006 - 10:22 PM
DD went to the prom with a girlfriend. Lots of unattached girls and guys went, of course, but only a few groupings of girls had the collective nerve to do the grand march with another girl. DD was one of them.

She has had a dress on about a handful of times since she was about 10 years old (other than the long dress they wear for band concerts), and I don't even KNOW when she has worn pantyhose. So it was a huge shock when she ordered her dress (silver and shimmery), wanted fancy shoes, an evening bag, a little wrap, etc..... Way more girly than she usually is. And yesterday she said she wanted me to do her hair and makeup -- talk about a first!

So today I got home from my meeting, and we set up in my bathroom. She has absolutely gorgeous, thick, light blonde hair -- the kind of hair most women would kill for. So I sprayed it, curled it, and sprayed it some more. She put on makeup (even lipstick) and I must say, she looked wonderful. I think she even got into it a little. She said she'd let me do the same thing before graduation (meaning her hair, etc.). She has just been a very unfussy girl up to this point, although she used to get into having her hair put up.

Went to the grand march, and of course most of the girls looked like they were wearing $1000 dresses. It was nice.

Came home and played Sorry! with the 5-year-old after he took his bath. (Tonight it was a bubble bath with his "baby" toys -- meaning the foam letters and numbers and Spiderman squirters and such.) Then we watched some Tom & Jerry, and he went off to bed. Now I'm waiting for DD to get home from the prom. She doesn't drive yet, so I get to go pick her up at the school when they get back from the dance.

Tomorrow we're doing more shopping for DD's new headboard, a new TV for her, and some other things. By tomorrow night I will be so exhausted!! This has been a very, very busy weekend. I'll have to go back to work on Monday just to get some rest.
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25th College Reunion Coming up? No WAY!!! 04-28-2006 - 10:07 PM
Yes, way.....

Anyway, it's next year. I got tapped to be on the planning committee, so I got to go to my college today and sit around with other people from my class and talk about stuff. It was fun. One of the guys at the meeting is a TV writer. I asked him what he was working on now, and he said, "Oh..... some CBS sitcom." Then I said, "Didn't you write for 'Frasier'?" He said, "Well, yes." And I said, "So, do you have any statues at home?" (meaning Emmys) He looked at me rather sheepishly and said, "Yes, I have two of them." I nodded knowingly. He seemed rather reluctant to talk about it, so I didn't say anything more... but it was fun to see him and the others.

DD is going to her prom tomorrow night. She's going with a girlfriend (I like some modern trends! No tearful breakup with the boy, no pressure) -- but she's still doing the whole dress, hair, and corsage thing. She bought one of the first pairs of pantyhose she has ever worn!! Things have sure changed since I was in high school.

DS was a complete PILL tonight. I got home from my meeting at the college to find that he had misbehaved so badly that DD had taken all of his stuffed animals away. (He had been throwing them all over the house.) He did finally get them back just before bed. I think he was just really, really tired because he didn't take a nap today. Most days he doesn't need a nap, but he still takes them on occasion, and I think today was one of those days where he could have used 40 winks.

We're so excited -- we have countertops in the new house! Window treatments should arrive next week, we're meeting with the pool guy on Tuesday to get our first of two "pool classes" so we learn how to take care of it, we're getting sod and trees, and soon we'll close and be able to start moving stuff in! We chose some nice new furniture on Monday night -- I can't wait for everything to be in place.

I had my mammogram today. Just a small whine -- they can put a man on the moon, they can make diapers that don't leak, but they can't figure out any way to take pictures of breast tissue without flattening them like a pancake??? You'd think you'd be able to do an MRI or something and accomplish the same thing.... Oh, well..... enough of that. I just hope the mammogram is normal. I have a grandmother who died of breast cancer, so I guess I shouldn't complain about having normal mammograms.
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Easter and DD Graduation 04-17-2006 - 03:29 PM
Had a good Easter. On Saturday night, dd I made another trip to the grocery store.... Gee, I hate doing that, but her heart was set on a certain recipe and we didn't have the right size package of vanilla pudding.. so off to the store we went. (We made those Jello Jigglers with pudding in them. Used orange Jello, and they tasted like dreamsicles! Yum.) Anyway, when we got back from the store, dd noticed there was something stuck to our front door. Upon closer examination, we found it was a sign saying the Easter Bunny had visited. Someone had planted 20 candy-filled eggs on our lawn! DD and ds really enjoyed finding them yesterday!

I sang in two church services (as usual), then we went over to Dad's house. I left for a while because I played piano for the Easter service at our local nursing home. It was a rather bittersweet thing. The nun who is their spiritual leader is so wonderful, and she did a lovely job with the service. But there are a couple of people there who I know but they don't know me. One in particular is a man who, just a few months ago, was one of our town's leading citizens (albeit in his 80's, he was still going really strong). While he was vacationing down south, he came down with pneumonia, and he developed a sudden case of rather serious memory loss. He can function well -- knows he's in a nursing home, is still as intelligent as ever -- but he can't walk and he doesn't "know" anyone. It was so sad. When he was trying to go back to his room, he stopped right by the piano, and I wondered if he wanted to speak to me. Someone even asked him if he wanted to talk to me (we've known each other 30 years) and he said, "No, I'm trying to get to my room!" It isn't like him to ignore someone he knows. So sad.

Anyway, we had a wondeful ham dinner, complete with all the family favorites like green bean casserole, cheesy potatoes, wonderful bread, scalloped corn (great recipe -- I'll have to post it here at HS if I haven't already), and bunny cupcakes! Good conversation, took everyone over to see the house. I think my sisters were a little overwhelmed with how big and nice it is. And it is rather big -- but with all of the stuff we have, it fits with our life right now.

DD is still trying to figure out her post-graduation plans. She wants to go to school for floral design, but the reality of moving away from home, buying a car, etc. is starting to set in. Also, she realizes how nice her room in our house is! So I think she'll probably use our house as her home base for a while, and continue working with me for several months to save up money for a downpayment on a car. She can start school anytime.

She is planning her graduation party now. Wants black roses. Black roses!!! Of course, they are more expensive than all the others. I'd cheat and spraypaint them, but I think she could tell the difference. She only wants standard food, though -- BBQ pork sandwiches and potato salad, cheese tray, veggie tray, chips and cake. We have a great bakery in town so I'm already looking forward to that part!
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House is Really Taking Shape! 04-15-2006 - 09:43 AM
Well, let's see .... only a few more things need to be done to the house.

Carpet
Countertops
Touch-up painting
Landscaping
Driveway and sidewalk
Sprinklers installed
Pool finished (liner and railings, etc.)

We are planning to close on the house the first week of May and we're going to move the week before Memorial Day. All of my musings about whether or not DH and I would stay married throughout the process were wasted, as we're getting along fine. Yes, things are over budget -- but it's OK.

We got a FANTASTIC piece of news yesterday. Our tax refunds both came in within a day of each other. DH came to me and asked me to get on our Internet banking to see them... I saw the state refund, which was fine. He said, "Now look for the Federal one." The refund in the account was $7184.00.... but our tax return had said it would be $6184.00. Exactly $1000 difference in our favor. Seemed too good to be true. So I fired off an e-mail to the accountant, asking if we had just gotten a gift from George W. Bush, or if there would soon be a debit coming through our account for the $1000.

I got my answer..... there was a mistake! The accountant entered in my first quarter estimated taxes from last year wrong, so the amount that was deposited was actually right. Remember Monopoly and the "Community Chest" and "Chance" cards? I finally get to use the one that says, "Bank error in your favor" -- well, sort of.

Anyway, that will go a long way toward helping buy new furniture, TVs, and all of those little incidentals. (DH has resigned himself to the fact that he knows I'm going to take this opportunity to buy all new bathtowels, bedspreads, soapdishes, and general home decor items. Buying this stuff is almost as much fun for me as yarn shopping, which is about the best thing in the world. ) Linens 'n Things, watch out!

Today DD and I are going shopping for groceries. This shouldn't be a journal-worthy item, except that we need to go grocery shopping out of town because our hometown grocery store is, well, rather crappy. I had to buy ingredients for an egg bake for work on Monday, and I had a regular list as well. The produce section.... ack! I need a red pepper. There were three shriveled-up peppers. No way. I needed shallots. No shallots. I needed Wonder Bread (not for the egg bake, but because DH eats it). No Wonder Bread. Can you believe it? We find this several times a month. It's like they need the Wonder guy to show up a little more often. There was not one loaf of bread. I can understand running out of some things, but bread? (Rant mode off.)

So we need to get the ingredients, plus a few more things for Easter tomorrow. I can smell the ham already...in my mind of course.

We had a little health scare with ds the other night. Thursday night I got home from church and DH had put ds to bed early. He wouldn't eat any supper, but didn't really say he was sick. Anyhow, as luck would have it, DH went in to check on ds, and he was burning up with fever! We tried to get it down with cool cloths, but he fought us so much, and wasn't very responsive. So we took him to the ER. Of course, he seemed slightly better when we were there, but they did a throat culture and we found out he has strep throat. I'm really glad we caught it so early -- he had really just gotten sick. So he's taking his pink medicine and doing much better today.

Well, that's enough for this entry.
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Went To Circus -- "Princess" The Dolphin Came Home With Us 04-09-2006 - 09:39 PM
Last night, I took dd, one of her friends, and ds to the Shrine Circus. We met my sister, her two kids, friends, and my sister.

The older kids had a great time trying to figure out how all of the stunts were done, buying light-up toys, and eating (you can't beat circus food -- where else can a hot dog, popcorn, Dippin' Dots (ice cream) and a coke be considered the "healthy" choices??? ) Matt was absolutely in heaven. Got to ride the elephant, the inflatable slide, and the little train before the circus started. Then we had to wave at my dad (who was one of the circus clowns). He got a hot dog, which he finished and a Diet Coke -- I figured I was going to either get him high on sugar or caffeine, so I picked caffeine. We got our light-up toys, too -- necklaces, and he got a star wand.

He loved the circus. He was amazed with the high-wire act, the jugglers, the animals, and especially when they shot a man out of a cannon.

He went potty in the boys' bathroom twice -- once when my sister's son took him, and once at the break time. He was waiting in line with me, but got scared (he hates toilets with black lids -- go figure). But I knew he really had to go. So I asked him if he would go in the boys', and he said yes. We got to the door (no line there, of course ) and I didn't want to let him go in alone. But there was a grandmother standing there with a reluctant boy who looked like he was about ds's age... so we got the idea at the same time that they could be potty buddies. They went in, and a few minutes later, they both came out, yelling, "We went!!!" It was cute.

At the break, we got popcorn, more pop, and the inflatable toys. He picked out a Spongebob inflatable to give dh, and then he picked out a huge, clear blue plastic dolphin. He decided it was a girl because it had eyelashes drawn on it, and he named it Princess. He was really talking about this dolphin! He said he was putting it in the swimming pool at the new house, and of course when we got home he had to take it to bed with him.

So today was Palm Sunday, and I spent the morning in church singing with the choir. Then ds, dd and I went to the Mall of America (or as Matt would say, "Mall of "the Merica" ). First thing, Matt went to Kid Quest daycare so dd and I could get some serious shopping in. She needed some prom stuff (we have the dress, but she needed shoes, a purse, a wrap, you know...). We also got some Easter chocolate, a Lego helicopter and Lego ambulance for ds's Easter basket, some great scented candles, and a few other odds and ends. We also ate at the Twin City Grill, one of our favorite eating spots there. Had the flatbread pizza/salad combination. I had the one with BBQ chicken pizza, and hers was all mushroom!

We ended up the day by going to Cold Stone Creamery for ice cream. Well worth it!

Then when we got home, ds took a shower -- this is new for him. He has suddenly discovered how fun it is to run around a shower, so I soap him up with his blue shower puff (he calls it "doing his scrub&quot then I turn on the shower and he plays in the shower for a while. Tonight he didn't stay in long because he was pretty tired. Then he ate his ice cream and one Lindt chocolate ball.

We went upstairs to bed, and he said, "Mom, turn off my light and get me my drink. I have to cover up Princess so that she stays warm and cozy!" I got him a drink of water, and sure enough -- that big plastic dolphin he got at the circus last night had gotten all snuggled up in his blanket! Too funny. I just checked before I came in here to write this, and the dolphin is still snuggled. Have I said lately that I wish I could be five again???
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Kitchen Counter Saga.... 04-05-2006 - 09:10 PM
In this adventure called building a new house, there have only been a very few setbacks. We picked a couple of "odd" (too bright) colors for the walls in the kitchen and my office, and I can't really think of any other major things -- except the countertop fiasco.

I'll tell the short version: In early February, we went to pick out the granite for the countertops. We dutifully took a piece of the kitchen tile with us to the granite place. Our salesguy, who looked to be about 14 years old (OK, he was probably 24 or 25, but you catch my drift ) took one look at the tile and said, "I think I have something that would work." We go back through all of the slabs of granite, and he shows us the wildest granite I've ever seen in my life. "No way," I think. But I don't say that -- I say, "What else have you got?" So we go around and look at about 12 others, and I finally say, "OK, take me back to the first one." It was perfect. I said, "How do you do this?" He said, "That's what they pay me for." It was priceless.

Anyhoo, we ordered the granite, or so we thought. What we actually did was to put it on a 30-day hold, and then we notified out countertop fabricator and the cabinet guy and said we had picked out a countertop. You guessed it -- someone fell asleep at the switch and the granite never got ordered. It got released, and of course someone came along and had to have it. Great.

So we had to go the other day and pick out something new. Our guy was with us again, and he remembered us. He took us back to the back again, and said he had something that had just come in that morning he wanted to show us. It was perfect -- even better than what we had seen the first time!

So now we're on a rush schedule to get everything finished by the first week in May so we can close. We're getting carpet the week after Easter, they have to pour the driveway and sidewalk, do a few outside things, and that's about it now.... Oh, and hang the drapes and get the rest of the appliances in. It's starting to get real.

To make it even more real, dh brought home some packing boxes today. The last time we moved, I was so sure we wouldn't have to use those blasted boxes again that I gave them all away. Guess what????? And when you're having a moving company move you (we're WAY too old to use pickups and friends for this stuff, especially when I have a grand piano), you have to pack everything just the same as if you're moving across the country. So we're going to be real familiar with packing tape and markers.

It's fun, but it's so much work! So what am I doing on the computer??? I must have a box to pack.

We had kindergarten roundup yesterday at school for little Matt. The highlights for him were riding the bus and the cookies and milk, of course. We got to see the classrooms -- kindergarten sure looks more fun than it did when I went to school. Of course, it looks really fun also because I think I could ace it this time!
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Happy Birthday to Me!! 03-24-2006 - 08:54 PM
Yes, today is my birthday. I'm 46 today. It's also dh's birthday (although he is much older at 48 ). Yesterday at work, all of the employees got me birthday cards and taped them up along the path from the door to my office. There must have been 25 cards! Then they brought out a BIG cake (a whole sheet cake) and sang to me, and then there was a beautiful bouquet of flowers on my desk! No, they don't do that for everyone -- I am the boss, so they're probably just bucking for raises at their next reviews.

It was great fun, and the cards were all very funny.

Then when I went home, there was a bouquet of roses from dh (pink, he knows I prefer anything but red -- he has learned well!) and a card from him and a card from ds (5). DD insisted that I make treats to take to work today, even though I have today off -- so I made liver spread (kind of like pate, but not as smooth), sweet onion dip, and a chocolate cake with M&M's sprinkled on top of the frosting. Then I sat down to watch "just a little TV" -- famous last words, I know. I got completely enthralled with a program on Discovery Health about separating conjoined twins and I was up until about 12:30 a.m.

Then this morning, we got up, went out for breakfast, and then took off to go furniture shopping for the new house. We are getting a bunch of new stuff, and dh's daughter and mom are taking the old stuff. We ordered a sectional and side chair for the living room, but held off on everything else. The two pieces we ordered will take several weeks because we wanted different fabric on them. But we decided on a dining room set, something for the family room, and barstools for the kitchen, too. I had some trouble finding a desk for my office, but I do think I found something that will work.

Then it was off to Best Buy to look at TVs. I got a headache in that place! I guess we're getting three new TVs, too.

We went out for dinner at a local steakhouse-type restaurant. It was a place my parents used to take me to when I was little, and quite honestly it hasn't changed much. It isn't fancy by any means -- but they bring you an actual relish tray (carrots, celery, and olives in crushed ice), and the prices are very reasonable. The place was absolutely hopping at 7:00 when we got there! But we got in and out in about 50 minutes, which isn't bad at all.

Physically, I'm doing OK, I guess. I have a very nagging feeling that I have more fluid on my abdomen, but for now I'm trying to live near that river in Egypt (denial -- get it?) and I'm going to see if it goes away. My foot sure hurts, though. I don't understand why it's so achy! Must be the arthritis acting up.

Well, that's all I have time for right now.
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I have kitchen cabinets!!! 03-09-2006 - 01:51 PM
No countertops, mind you.... but I have cabinets and a center island. I'm so excited! I cannot wait to get over to the new house to see them.

On the health front, I wish I could shake this icky feeling. There has been so much flu going around (ds had it a week ago) and I've just been feeling yucky. I have that feeling where I am somewhat hungry, but I also can tell if I eat anything I'll get sick.... like when you're just getting over the flu and you don't know if eating will be a good thing or a bad thing.

But on the plus side, the sun is shining, it's in the 40's for temperature, and the snow is melting. We really didn't get much of a winter this year.... I actually like snow and cold, but now that it's March, it's a little late for the beautiful blanket of white. Now I want to move on to spring.
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Funeral for an acquaintance 03-06-2006 - 08:55 PM
I went to a funeral today. A guy who I didn't know all that well, but who was a year behind me in school. He was just short of his 45th birthday. Died of alcoholism. Was kind of a partier through his life, but kept it pretty well controlled until his wife died in a tragic accident about 10 years ago, and he just came unglued. It was so sad to see his two daughters today. While they were sad, I could also sense the relief on their faces. Finally their dad's struggle was over!

As I sat there in the rather full church, I know that my friend would have been amazed that so many people were there to honor him. I'm sure he felt in his last days that no one cared. Of course we did, but he distanced himself from everyone. No one knew how to help him. It was just so sad.

Tonight I practiced for a church service later this month. It's with a contemporary music group. I'm not much into the contemporary stuff but they asked me to fill in. So I showed up, and they guy playing drums is a classmate of mine whose son is in my dd's class and who died from a gunshot wound about a year and a half ago. Anyway, I thought it was interesting. If anyone would have told me that Scott and I would be playing music together (we were not in the same crowd in high school, let me tell you!) I'm sure I would have laughed in their face. But we were playing tonight, and it felt good.
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House is coming along 03-06-2006 - 08:50 PM
Visited the house again today. They've got the trimwork up around the master bathroom window over the bathtub -- beautiful! The glass tile is up in the guest bathroom -- beautiful! And all the colors -- absolutely out of this world!

I never would have dreamed that we could build something like this... and more importantly, we're staying together!

Last week we got the estimates for our three closet systems (California Closets) and we talked with the lady about the curtains and shades today.

Some of the cabinets are showing up in the next few days. I cannot wait to see the kitchen cabinets and countertops! Then it will really start to feel real to me.

I'm now regretting that I didn't take any pictures as the house was being built, but Bill (DH) has been videotaping each week. Should be fun to watch when everything is done!
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New Tactic for Pain 02-17-2006 - 08:36 PM
The last several weeks I've been having a bit of abdominal pain again. That coupled with my right foot acting up (three injuries over the years have NOT been kind to it) and I'm going through lots of OTC pain stuff and some of the prescription types, too. Last night I dragged out my heat wrap -- I have one of those things with the rice inside (this one is scented like lavendar) and I heated it up in the microwave and put it on my belly. I'm not really sure if it helped or not, which I know sounds really strange. But my skin has been numb ever since my hysterectomy and so I really couldn't feel the heat of the wrap on my skin.

Well, I asked for cold and snow earlier in my journal. No snow to speak of, but it will be 20 below zero tonight. (Be careful what you wish for....) Not so bad, really -- it's mid-February so there won't be too much cold before it starts heating up again.

Tomorrow Matt and I head off to price towel racks and toilet paper holders. Really exciting stuff, I know.

I haven't visited the house in a few days, but apparently the bathroom tile and the kitchen tile is done. DH goes over there every day, so I'm trying not to be too much of a pest. We did get them to get some samples of other paint colors for the kitchen and my office. The lime green and hot pink were just a little too much even for me!

I'm looking forward to getting a dog after we move. We're going to get a Cairn Terrier -- just like Toto from "The Wizard of Oz". That's my favorite dog breed. Since we'll be living near woods, it's important that the dog be capable of being a mouser, and terriers are great at that! Trying to think of some good dog names. I like Hercules, Cash (in deference to my banking background), Bob (how can you go wrong with a name like Bob???) and some others.
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Orange Roses? 02-14-2006 - 09:00 PM
Yes, you read that right, ladies. I got a dozen orange roses today... Remember that "Oriental Orange" color -- almost red, but not quite. They are beautiful!

One of my employees got a bouquet and a necklace, too.... she definitely won the Valentine's Day jackpot at work today.

Went to a meeting after work and had to take my daughter to pep band at the school, so my romantic Valentine's Day dinner consisted of a 6" Subway sandwich (coldcut combo w/veggies and the sweet onion sauce, no cheese this time) and a Tab. I'm really trying to be somewhat good here for a few months -- I have not been successful at losing weight. I have lost a few pounds here and there, but my downfall is the late-night snacking. Here it is almost 10:00 p.m. and when I sign off here, will I have the strength to go right to bed, or will I head down to the fridge??? Hope I can go to bed.

DS loved his V-day surprises. I gave him a bunch of dark chocolate (that's his favorite) and he carried it around with him. Then DD gave him a couple of her old Beanie Babies, and he said, "Oh, I LOVE my Valentine's Day gifts!" Just like that. So cute. I wish he could stay 5 forever on days like this!
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V-Day is coming..... 02-13-2006 - 08:46 AM
I'm looking forward to tomorrow. Why? Because it's one of the THREE occasions per year when I know I'll get flowers.

Let me be clear: I love DH with all my but it just does not occur to him to get me flowers. He feels they are "frivolous". (I understand he's not the only man who feels this way .) So early on in our marriage, I made it clear -- I want flowers on my birthday, on Valentine's Day, and on our anniversary. He said, "What if I don't get them for you?" I said, "Don't worry -- I'll take care of it. But I have VERY expensive taste." The threat worked -- sort of. The first year we were married, I did OK for the first couple of occasions, and then tragedy struck. I received a begonia (or a geranium -- I can't remember which) for one of the "occasions". This is when I had to have the second "talk" with DH. I said, "I love blooming plants, but I can buy myself a mum. I'd rather get one daisy in a vase than a whole cartload of geraniums."

Message received. Since then (1993) he has only missed one time -- last year for our anniversary I didn't get flowers.... but I got some bling-bling (a ring) instead. So he was forgiven.

So I get flowers tomorrow...... I'll report on the delivery. I also ordered lavender spray roses to be delivered to my dd tomorrow while she's at work. I do love Valentine's Day, even if it is a made-up holiday.
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House of many colors 02-10-2006 - 04:29 PM
Well, dh and I have to go over to the house tomorrow.... seems that a couple of the many (over 20) colors we picked for the inside of the house are, shall we say, a little LOUD, I guess. So we have to tone things down a little in the kitchen and in my office. Sigh. We'll see if I agree with dh's assessment of the situation. On the plus side, he gave dd a big on her other color selections, so she did pretty well overall. It's so hard to tell what a color will actually look like when it's just a 2x2 chip from the paint store!

I finished knitting a scarf for my nephew and was going to take it up to him this weekend, but it doesn't look like I'll have time. So I'll mail it to him instead. My sister said he hardly ever gets anything in the mail, so he'd really get a kick out of getting it mailed to him. (And of course with gas prices what they are, it's cheaper to mail it to him than to drive it up to him!)

It has been busy at work. We are trying to hire a new loan officer at the bank, and the senior lender is putting up roadblocks on a certain candidate we have for the job. My dad and I are trying to figure out why he would be so against someone who is obviously qualified and who lives in the community. We think that our senior lender feels threatened by him somehow.... which means that we might have a problem with HIM that we'll need to straighten out sooner or later. Now that my dad is out of town for a few weeks, I'll probably have to deal with all of this, which will not be fun. But that's why I sit in the big office, I guess.

Enough for today. I wish we'd get some more snow!!!!
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Our House Is Clean!! LOL 02-06-2006 - 08:53 PM
It's ready for people to come and look at it. This is the part I hate (but actually, forcing us to keep the place clean is a good thing) and my husband secretly loves because he likes a clean house, but acknowledges that I don't have time to clean -- he refuses, so we're at a standoff!

One of my friends comes in and cleans a few hours a week for us. Actually, I wish she'd come for more hours. In our new house, I plan on asking her for 8 hours a week. The house will be big enough and just vacuuming will take a couple of hours a week! The alternative, of course, is that DH can start pulling his weight (he doesn't work) -- I'll bet I'm going to get the cleaner for 8 hours a week instead! But that's fine with me.

Matt has really been getting into helping with the cleaning process. He is keeping all of his toys in bins, and tonight he insisted on helping me clean the kitchen. ("Everything is clean and shiny -- good as new.&quot Kids really are marvelous helpers when given a chance.

Tomorrow we have to get Matt's hair cut, or we're going to have to start braiding it soon. Making that trip is a great excuse to have dinner out. I'm thinking Applebee's... Can't wait.

My dad and his lady friend left for their trip yesterday. They'll be gone six weeks. I'm in charge of watering plants for him. (Last year I thought I killed one, so I replaced it. He came home and said it was really dead before he left.) Luckily my dd will be helping me. She's really good with plants.

Well, that's all I can think of for today.
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More house decisions and craziness at work 02-03-2006 - 09:28 PM
This week we made some more decisions on things for the house. Picked an amazing granite for the countertops in the kitchen!! I cannot wait to see that stuff in the house. I thought I was going to want black, but instead I picked something with lots of movement and color in it.

We're down to just a few decisions -- things like faucets, light fixtures, and not much else. Tomorrow we confirm our choices for wall colors. This is NOT going to be one of those "beige" houses. The carpet we have going throughout the house is a very dark reddish brown -- really almost a burgundy color. Walls are all over the place -- master bedroom is blue, music room is a darker blue, my office is a salmon color, the kitchen is gonna be green, the great room is a very warm gold, the kids are having blue and purple, and their bonus room is going to be blue, green, and salmon... I don't think there's a white wall in the entire house.

I've agreed to serve on the worship/music committee at church. We're practicing a wonderful service by Haugen which we're doing at Lenten services this year. I'll be one of the cantor/leaders, and it's absolutely gorgeous!

Sunday I'm making some shortbread cookies. I made some at Christmas and they were absolutely wonderful. So I'm making these heart-shaped, with some of that great sparkly sugar. I have pink, red, and white for Valentine's Day.

We're now getting our current house ready to have people come look at it. I hate cleaning...... I can't believe we accumulated this much junk in less than two years. This weekend I'll finish organizing the closets and the kitchen. The problem with having people come look at your house to buy is that they really do look in your closets so they have to be clean. Talk about a bummer.

DH's daughter is moving to Las Vegas. She's engaged to an older (like 11 years older) guy -- she's 24, and this is her first serious relationship -- it has been long-distance for several months. The guy has a 12-year-old son who lives with him. I'm afraid this is going to be a tough adjustment, and I'm actually surprised that DH has been taking it so well. He's sure alot better at detaching than I am!

My dad is leaving on Sunday for a six-week trip with his sweetie. They are driving to Florida for a convention, then they are going on a cruise to South America! Everyone always wonders why he drives on his vacations, but he's got a great car and he loves being able to set his own schedule and take side trips whenever he wants. I'm sure he'll have a great time. He's 78, so he won't be able to drive like this that many more years.

This last week has been so crazy at work. We are working on a new strategic plan and that involves so much effort! It's all very worth it, but it is emotionally draining. We had an all-day session on Thursday, and of course I got to work today and barely got dug out from yesterday's backlog before DH and I had to take off and pick countertops. Ack. But I'm glad I'm busy -- it's much better than the alternative.

Well, that's enough for today.
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Where Did All The Snow Go??? 01-30-2006 - 09:33 AM
I live in Minnesota, and I know that we spend the entire year complaining about the weather around here. (Cold enough for ya? Hot enough for ya?) But in the winter, I really want some of the white stuff!

We are about to close in on the warmest January on record. On Saturday, it RAINED during the St. Paul Winter Carnival parade. On Thursday, there was a bad rainstorm and we lost power. An ice storm I can understand, but rain in January??

We did get a little snow later night, so at least eerything "looks" white. I feel bad for those who make their living on winter sports -- the snowmobile dealers, the ski areas, etc. Yes, I know it's nice when it's warm... but the kids like to play in the snow, people like to skate, and in Minnesota, ice fishing is close to a religion for some folks. I think our ice-fishing season lasted about 7 hours here! (OK, that might be an exaggeration )

The weekend went well. We're trying to get our house ready to be sold, so I cleaned out closets. It's amazing how much stuff can be accumulated in less than 2 years! I filled three bags full of clothes to donate. I give them to a place near the bank where they send clothing down to Central America. They get lots of adult clothes, so whenever I come in with my son's clothes (he's 5) they are so grateful! Everyone else always sells their kid clothes in garage sales. But why get 25 cents for a pair of jeans when I can give them away and feel better inside?

Over the weekend, we spent some time deciding on carpet and paint colors for the new house. Even dh was impressed with dd (who's 17) and her eye for color. I showed her the carpet and tile we had chosen for each room, and she said, "What do you want -- blue, green, yellow....?" We'd say what we wanted and she'd go directly to the particular shades that would work with each color. Amazing.

This week we are to choose our granite for our countertops, and on Saturday we make the final decisions on paint and carpet.

Well, that's enough for today.
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Good Weekend 01-22-2006 - 09:30 PM
Yesterday (Saturday) I didn't go anywhere. Know what that means??? I didn't spend any money.

Today after church I went grocery shopping, and then hung around the house. I didn't really want to fuss for dinner, but Matt wanted meatballs, so of course I made meatballs. How can you turn down an innocent 5-year-old who thinks the sun rises and sets on your cooking??? It did turn out well.

After dinner we had the bath "ritual", which includes a) going potty, b) making a "line-up" of all of the sea animals on the countertop in the bathroom, c) taking all the sea animals from the countertop and putting them into the bathtub and playing, d) taking them all out of the tub again so that we can wash Matt and wash his hair (you just can't get soap on the animals, you know ), and then finally e) bringing all of the animals back into the bath for a rousing half hour of playing in a tub full of plain water.

I wish I could be amused for an hour this way! I just contented myself with sitting there knitting, helping out with a towel when needed.

I'm still not feeling the greatest. I'm starting to think this is just how I'm going to feel -- kind of yucky with a certain level of pain all the time. It's not debilitating, but it sure is annoying. Sigh.
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Cost Overruns? What Cost Overruns? 01-19-2006 - 02:39 PM
I think if I look back in my journal I can find an entry where I mused that, one day, my marriage would dissolve as we stood in Home Depot, picking out doorknobs for the kitchen cabinets. Well, watch out what you ask for....

I'm in the banking industry, so I've watched literally hundreds of house construction loans run their course. No one, and I mean NO ONE, ever comes in under budget. Those that are able to come close usually end up cutting things out during the building process. But of course, I was going to be better than that. Right.

It started when we said we wanted a smaller house, but it ended up being 2000+ sq. ft. bigger. Then we decided to put in an indoor (under-the-garage) pool. The pool adds mega-bucks right there, but I consider it to be worth it.

Now we learn that with all of the little extras we've added already, our cabinets and built-ins are an extra $15,000 (and we haven't even picked out the actual kitchen cabinets yet.....for all I know the estimates we have don't even include the all-important doorknobs ). And last week, we were down in Owatonna (about an hour away, near Rochester, MN) picking out carpet and tile. I don't even want to KNOW how much over we are on that part of the budget. I take that back -- of course I want to know. But I have a feeling that we'll be looking at, when all is said and done, about $50,000 in overruns. Ack. But in the grand scheme of things, it's not that huge I guess. Often we see cost overruns of somewhere in the neighborhood of 20-30 percent, and ours is well under 10%, so I guess I should count myself lucky.

Today I was speaking with my dad and I calmly said I would probably have to talk to him about our cost overruns. He didn't even bat an eye. I told him what we were talking about.... again, he didn't bat an eye. So I will probably be borrowing some from him to either help with the downpayment and/or to buy some of the stuff we'll need when we move (we're getting rid of our dining room furniture because the chairs are falling apart, for instance).

My dd has now decided part of her future, at least. She has chosen a course at a metro-area technical college in horticulture and floral design and she'll probably start in the winter term of 2007. She wanted to start in the fall, but I reminded her that a) she isn't getting her driver's license until she turns 18 in August (her choice), b) she doesn't have a car, and c) I don't have an extra car for her to use. So she's thinking she'll live here, work full-time (she works in our family business) for the fall term and save up money for her downpayment. Good plan. Gee, I wonder if she'll want to live with her dad and grandmother in the crowded house in town or if she'll want to move in with us in the huge house with the pool? Tough choice, I know..... Well, at least I should be able to get lots of free babysitting this way.

Matt is in pre-school and doing pretty well. I am just amazed at how enthralled 5-year-old boys are with their bodily functions, if you catch my drift. Now he has taken to coming up to you, turning and pointing his posterior end at you, and "tooting". He really only does it to me and his father (thank goodness, I don't think this would go over well at church!! ). He certainly seems to be very bright, although of course every parent thinks that. He's getting lots of Spanish from watching Dora the Explorer, and dd is teaching him lots of German. And he knows the difference! I have been testing him with colors (he says one in Spanish, and then I say, "But what is that in German?" and he knows!). He also has a dinosaur book and knows all of the names, even when he flips through the book at random! And he also knows the pictures when they're in black-and-white.

I really think kids that age absorb absolutely everything. This is probably the time to teach him physics!!

Well, enough for today. Got to go earn some more money so I can afford light fixtures and garage doors.
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More House Decisions 01-10-2006 - 03:22 PM
Today we went through our new house with the cabling people -- the folks who will be pulling cable for phone, computer, and TV. Ack. Last week we went through with the electrical people, deciding where all of the outlets and light fixtures will go. Ack.

On Thursday, we finally get to do something somewhat FUN and pick out some styles for cabinets and bookcases. LOL Now the REAL fun begins -- picking out tile and fixtures (I love looking at sinks and countertops).

The reality of owning two houses for a time is starting to sink in. I know that there's virtually no chance of us having our other house sold before we move into the new one, so we'll have the fun of "double" house payments for several months. I try not to think about it too much -- instead I tell myself how much I'm gonna love the interest deduction next year.

I haven't been feeling all that hot for the last couple of days. Winter is always tougher on my foot -- I have arthritis from when I broke it in 1989, and lingering problems with my ankle from when I dislocated my heel in 2003. But now I'm starting to feel the same way I felt last year... very heavy in the lower abdomen and some pain and nausea. Last time I waited, it didn't get any better, and I went to the doctor and they found it was an old hematoma which had never resolved itself. I am living near that river in Egypt (called d-e-n-i-a-l) and I refuse to believe I might be having it AGAIN. So for now I am just trying my best to ignore it, although that's really impossible. I do know that this isn't anything deadly, even if it has happened again. (But ick. I mean, what am I, anyway -- a hematoma machine? If only they had an Olympic event for this..... "And there's MJ with the 17.4 cm. hematoma. She's had CT scans, ultrasounds, and attempts to drain it, and it just won't go away. I give her a perfect 10!&quot
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New Year's Eve 01-02-2006 - 12:46 PM
New Year's Eve turned out to be really good. My dd worked in the morning, and while she was at work I prepared homemade onion dip (I use a really GREAT recipe), liver pate, and I baked a pound cake. Then in the afternnon I took a nap, and then we started a movie marathon! We watched Labyrinth and National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (my 5-year-old will watch those movies) and then after he went to bed my dd and I watched "Tommy" (a rock musical from the 70's starring, of all people, Ann-Margaret with music by The Who) and "National Lampoon's Van Wilder". Both were great, and I actually stayed up until midnight!

Yesterday I know I should have gotten the decorations taken down, but I just wasn't inspired. So the tree is still up. Maybe tomorrow night.

This morning ds was kidding around with me while he was getting dressed (which of course he's fully capable of doing himself but he always wants me to help), he ended up hitting me in the tummy. Not good!! I have been having some strange abdominal pains lately anyway, and that didn't help any. I'm OK now, though.

This Thursday dh and I will be meeting with the electrician for our new house to decide where all of the outlets, etc. go for the house. Next week we start picking out cabinets, countertops, and all of that fun stuff! Wish me luck. Lots and lots of luck.
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Christmas and Simple Pleasures 12-30-2005 - 10:23 AM
Had a good Christmas. I sang and played piano at three church services on Christmas Eve. Did a very beautiful solo.

In between services we went to my dh's sister's house. The food was OK, but only OK. I've learned to expect "OK" from dh's sisters.... they just aren't very good cooks. Again, no mashed potatoes, and no stuffing. And ham from a can... (How hard is it to mash potatoes, I ask you? ) I know I sound ungrateful, but gee -- on a holiday I really expect the special stuff.

So on Christmas, we got up early. DH went up to get Matt at about 7:30 a.m. and he came into our bed. He asked, "Mom, is it a Barbie day or a stay-home day?" ("Barbie" is his daycare provider.) DH said, "Matt, it's Christmas!" Matt high-tailed it out the door, and I called to him, "Go wake up Christine!" (the 17-year-old). No way -- I heard him running DOWN the stairs to the tree, not UP the stairs to her room.

Now, normally he won't run all the way down to the family room by himself. But this day he was fearless. And then we heard him run back up the stairs and he yelled at the top of his lungs, "Mom! He comed! Santa comed!" (Yes, he's having a little trouble with past tense these days.....) I asked, "What did he bring?" He said, "The Everglade Control!" (The toy name is actually The Everglade Patrol.) He was beside himself with joy.

At that moment I wished I could be 5 again. He had been asking for this toy for months and he was absolutely ecstatic that Santa had brought it for him.

Besides the everglade "control" he got all sorts of other neat stuff..... dinosaurs, sea animals, vehicles, and of course what every 5-year-old needs, a remote-control snake.

Then I started cooking. Here's what I made for dinner for my family (12 of us altogether): goose, homemade meatballs in the crockpot, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing (from scratch), Jello, corn, homemade mincemeat pie, homemade pecan candy, shortbread cookies. My sisters brought bread, relishes, and pumpkin pie. It was FABULOUS!!!!!!!!!

The day after Christmas, my dd wanted to use some of her gift cards so we went shopping, and we went to see the movie "Casanova". I really enjoyed it!

Healthwise I'm feeling pretty good, except for my foot and some lingering abdominal pain. I have needed to use pain pills more than I would like. I called for a refill on my pain pills just before Thanksgiving, and the nurse called me. I was expecting her to say something like, "Why do you need them?" because I've been taking these pills for over two years for my foot. Instead, she said, "Next time, call earlier so you don't run out!" The foot guy has told me that I'll need the pills more during the cold months because of the arthritis I've developed in my foot from the three injuries I've had over the years. Ick.

Well, that's enough for now. I can't wait for tomorrow night. DD and I are planning a movie marathon for New Year's Eve, complete with the best munchies on earth!!!
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The Christmas Program - My Little Donkey 12-18-2005 - 02:01 PM
Yes, Matt was a donkey in the Christmas program at church. First, I should say that it was truly a milestone day because he did not wear either blue jeans or a Spiderman shirt. (He did wear Spiderman undies and Spiderman light-up shoes, however.) He also had a "wardrobe malfunction" when the button on his pants popped off before the program. Luckily the pants still stayed up, or we would have had a much more risque program .

The stable animals all wore little head coverings. There were cows, sheep, rams, and Matt was a donkey. So of course he had the long floppy ears, which he quickly discovered could be pulled right over his eyes. Then when the first song started, he uncovered his eyes, but squinted and then bobbed his head with the beat of the music.... but at least he was singing. Last year he wouldn't make a sound.

After the program we went grocery shopping and then we came home and hung out for a while. It's pretty cold today (about 5 degrees) and there's good snow cover, which is good. I know, I know -- but we live in Minnesota and if it's going to be cold, we need snow or else the cold kills off the grass.

One of the bank employees brought his keyboard to the bank today. We'll have Christmas music all week, courtesy of me and another employee who is a great flute player. I can't wait!!! We also have a brunch scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday (two different locations) ...... then I get to be "Santa" and give everyone a crisp $100 bill at some point during the week, too. It's the best part of my job. I know for some of the employees it's so welcome as either a) Christmas grocery money, b) last-minute gift-giving money, or c) mad money!!!!
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Santa and Christmas Shopping 12-17-2005 - 07:59 PM
Took Matt to see Santa today..... this particular Santa is also my dad, so it was pretty cute to watch him be all amazed that "Santa" knew his name, knew he liked Spiderman, etc. He was really impressed! Everyone around was having a great time. This is probably the last year we can get away with this, however.... He'll figure it out sooner or later.

Then we went to Stillwater to get some pottery. My b-i-l is a potter and does really wonderful work, so we got a few pieces for Christmas presents. Add a delicious lunch at Bakers Square (yum) and a stop at Toys R Us..... can you get any better, I ask you??? (Well, yes, you could, but I don't think Matt would sit still while I had a full body massage )

Tomorrow is his Christmas program and then I have to bake cookies for the cookie exchange at work. This is my first attempt at making traditional shortbread cookies, so we'll see what happens.
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Secret Santa and Christmas Shopping 12-16-2005 - 12:39 PM
Had a good, if busy week at work. We did the Secret Santa thing. I made a scarf (of course) for my recipient, and gave her a few other goodies. I got some really neat stuff -- a couple of notepads, a wonderful scented candle, an ornament, a flamingo memo holder (I'm a flamingo freak!) and today I got homemade fudge and homemade caramels. Hope my keyboard isn't sticky after writing this.

I have also been dealing with some difficult things in a more professional avenue. There's a local controversey and I wrote a letter to the editor of our local paper last week. Well, of course no one likes being criticized, so this week there was a stinging rebuke in the paper, directed at me, my dad and our business (we own a bank). What to do? I've decided that, instead of trying to refute the nonsense written -- which is just a list of lies, misconceptions, and pointless personal attacks -- I will write a very short response about how I know I don't lie, people who have a grudge against me or are jealous of me will always believe the worst, and there's no point in trying to persuade anyone otherwise because the people who need to listen are "off in the corner misbehaving". And then I'll finish off with the advice, "Don't feed the troll."

It's a way of acknowledging the attack without giving it any real attention. Everyone I've seen has just blown the whole thing off -- this person who wrote against me is a notorious bully who writes flaming letters about once a month directed at various city officials. I guess I should count myself lucky that I'm a "worthy" target!!

Christmas shopping is starting slow. I have got to get most of it done this weekend.... and then the real fun begins (NOT!). Wrapping. I hate wrapping with a passion. I'm so bad at it..... Thank goodness for gift bags. They have saved me on many occasions.

Lately Matt has been waking up "by himself" in the morning.. I'll be downstairs, drinking my coffee, and I'll hear the thump of his feet hitting the ground (he's in a bunk bed). Then he'll run over and shut off his nightlight. Then he peeks his head out of the door and says, in the sweetest voice imaginable, "Good morning, Mommy." It's too cute, really!! He has now gotten so he wants to pick out his clothes every day, and he throws them over the railing from upstairs. "Shirt!" "Undies!" "One sock!" "The other sock!" "Pants!" I wish I was 5 again.....what a life.
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Party Mix -- but no party... 12-04-2005 - 12:45 PM
I did one of my favorite things today. I made party mix just the way I like it. Used Crispix instead of Chex, lots of Cheerios, circle-shaped pretzels (I think they're supposed to be Christmas wreaths), and peanuts.

Every few months I treat myself with this. I make a big batch, then freeze it in bags to snack on. Makes the house smell wonderful! After I get done here, I'll go down and watch the rest of the Vikings game with dh.

Matt is sleeping -- it's hard to believe he still takes afternoon naps most days. He goes "by himself", but some days it takes a long time for him to get to sleep. Today I didn't hear a peep out of him after he shut his door, which means he went to sleep right away.

Have to start getting some Christmas shopping done. I did get a game called "Apples to Apples" as a giving-tree gift for church. It was recommended by a fellow shopper at the Bullseye Boutique (Target), but I really need to get motivated to get the rest of my shopping completed in the next 10 days or so to avoid the craziness from last year. But I just can't bring myself to be one of those people who has everything done and wrapped three months before Christmas!

I'm still working on knitting the scarves for the pep band members. Yesterday we had a community parade and the band marched. Many of the kids had their scarves on -- they really like them. Gives me a good feeling to have accomplished this.

Well, that's enough for today.
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Thanksgiving and News.... 11-25-2005 - 07:42 PM
Went to Turkey Day at my dh's sister's house. Food was just OK -- she's not much of a cook. Turkey was good, but the potatoes....... she doesn't even mash them!! How tough is it to mash potatoes? I just don't get it. And as much as I like Stovetop stuffing, I really like homemade stuffing on holidays. Oh, well, my chance will come again next year.

We also learned that dh's younger daughter is engaged. She's 23, and her intended spouse is 35 and divorced with a 12-year-old daughter. And to top it all off, dh hasn't even met him yet.... Woah. It's interesting to say the least. They've been going together for something like 6 months, and it's a long-distance relationship. We're in MN, he's in Vegas. He still lives with his mom. (How many red flags do YOU find in this paragraph?)

We put up some of the Christmas decorations today. We have three trees -- the main tree in the family room, a small tree by the front door (with just white lights and bows), and a small tree upstairs (all blue -- the kids' choice). Tomorrow we'll buy a few odds and ends, and maybe go to MOA (that's The Mall of America for the uninitiated) and do a little shopping.

I'm feeling OK, but I do have some swelly belly. I'm reluctant to go to the doctor and get it checked out, so I'll just wait and see if it subsides. My foot is hurting, too. The arthritis really doesn't like the cold weather.

We got about 3 inches of snow today, and Matt and I had a great time playing outside. We fed the birds and then we raced around the house, down the road (after he was fascinated with a garbage truck emptying out a construction dumpster at the neighbor's house), and then Matt made some snow angels before we came inside. Unfortunately, we're only supposed to have the snow for a couple of days and then it's going to melt. I hope this winter isn't like last year where we hardly had snow all winter. I know, I know -- but I live in Minnesota and I really like snow! Besides, it's too hard on the grass when we don't have snow cover. That's my story, anyway.
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Finished the Blanket! 11-19-2005 - 08:42 PM
Went to the music store today. Matt got some cymbals (I know, I know....), and I got some reeds and some Christmas music.

I finally finished a baby blanket for one of my employees... Their baby was born a couple of months ago. We had the baby shower 2 weeks ago, and I let him look at the partially finished blanket and then I took it back to finish. He thought that was pretty cute. The blanket is really nice -- I knitted it with a double-strand all the way through, one strand of light green and one strand of verigated pastels.

Now that I'm done with the blanket, I can get back in the "pep band scarf" business. I hope to have 8 of them completed by Tuesday to give dd to deliver to the band director. (Don't get too impressed.... I already have 3 done since the last time I delivered some, and I have two partially done right now. I just get bored so I work on two at a time.)
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Plane Ride 11-18-2005 - 08:57 PM
Went on a plane today to visit a customer's meat processing plant across the state. The flight was pretty smooth, which is a very good thing because I tend to get very motion sick.

When I got back to the office, I had 80 unread e-mails. That's right -- 80. I hate having things undone, and it took me the next hour and a half to slog through those messages, plus answer my voice mail, plus deal with the HR crisis du jour....

We had an employee who we had to let go a month or so ago because she had exhausted her PTO (paid time off) and was insisting she needed at least 2 weeks off for foot surgery. It's a long story, but here's the short version -- We give 20 days of PTO (plus 12 paid holidays) to each employee every January 1. We also contribute $1,000 to each employee's health savings account each January. Anyhoo, this particular employee had used all 20 days of her paid time off for the year by August. Her plan for the rest of the year? "I just won't get sick." Right....

Anyway, she announced in early October that she had broken her foot (had aggravated an injury she got while on vacation in July) and she needed emergency foot surgery -- on November 10. That's right -- her emergency surgery was scheduled for a month away.

We told her she had no PTO left, and if she could just delay her surgery until January, she would then have 20 days of paid time off (she has four little kids and she's a single mom) and we would also put $1000 into her HSA at that time.

No dice. Had to have her surgery. So we said sorry, it's not excused and you'll lose your job.

It wouldn't be so bad, except we allow employees to accrue and save PTO from year to year. She has used hers up every single year she has worked for us!

So anyway, now we're in the process of dealing with the unemployment people. I'm not going to contest her unemployment if it comes to that, but she told the story completely different. Like she didn't know how the program works... didn't know it was a problem to use up your time every year, and then some. Ack.

So I finally got home (all the while developing a nasty head cold), fixed supper, and put little Matt to bed. He is so cute these days. He wanted to stay up a little later (for him, 8:00 is bedtime every night, so staying up until 8:30 is a big deal) and then he hung his head and said, in a very pathetic voice, "Mom, I just want to go to bed." So we went upstairs, I tucked him in his Spiderman-themed bed and he was asleep in about 2 minutes.

Now I need to try and get some sleep myself! Tomorrow we'll head off to the music store so I can get some reeds for my saxophone and some more piano music. I need to find some Christmas stuff to play on Christmas Eve.

See ya for now.
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Drain Woes, Etc. 10-24-2005 - 03:58 PM
Well, my attempts to stick my drain back in enough to start working again were in vain. It kept coming out, and started itching. I began thinking to myself, "Is it wise to start sticking a non-sterile piece of something back inside you???" So I have stopped trying to stick the blasted thing back in. I called my surgeon's service to see whether they want me to a) have the local clinic pull out the drain and/or try to reinsert a new one, or b) go back down to the surgeon to do same.

Tonight I'm going to a jewelry party being thrown by one of my employees. I don't really want to go, but "Miss Disposable Income 2005" (a/k/a my 17-year-old dd) wants to go, and since she doesn't drive yet, I have been recruited as chauffeur. Lucky me......

I just heard from the nurse as I was typing this, and I'm to be at the hospital at 10:30 tomorrow morning and they'll examine me and (most likely) remove the drain. I can just envision the surgeon, in full garb, sprinting down the hallway ("Doctor -- you have five minutes before you have to be in OR #52...&quot and then snipping the suture holding the drain in place and whipping it out of my body in one fluid motion. Can't wait.
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Good Weekend ... Mostly 10-23-2005 - 10:07 PM
Had a good weekend, except my drain almost came out last night. It had been draining a yellow/orange fluid (mostly clear) and then it started draining pink again... but pretty significant amounts. Anyway, last night it lost suction. I worried about it all day today, and tonight I managed to stick it back in enough so it is draining again... at least for now. I'll call doc tomorrow to see what we should do. It has been five weeks, but I don't want it to stop draining until it's really done -- after all, my body appears to produce lots and lots of fluid.

Today Matt and I went shopping and ate lunch at Red Lobster. We got to touch a lobster (big deal for a 5-year-old) and he kept running back to the tank to look at them as we were waiting for our food. He had popcorn shrimp and fries (ate all the shrimp, about three fries), applesauce (which he prounounced "Delicious!&quot, two of those wonderful cheddar-garlic biscuits, and his favorite restaurant beverage -- Sprite. I had a seafood Caeser salad -- yum!

Tomorrow my dad and I head off to see our financial guys up in Mpls. We are trying to do estate planning for Dad, which is tough for anyone but really tough for someone who feels he's going to live another 25 years (he's going to be 78 in November). In his head, he knows he needs to do it, but his heart just hasn't quite caught up with his head yet. But when the planners tell him how much in estate tax we can save if he just structures things correctly, he does start to take notice!

Also, tomorrow they are supposed to break ground on our new house. I'm so excited! It's a huge undertaking, but I can't wait to get things going. I've never built a house before, but being in banking I've witnessed many a disaster (cost overruns, marriages crumbling -- you name it) surrounding this sort of project. I've already had to remind dh once that we're all we've got and we need to be nice to each other.

I thought this current house (4100 sq. ft.) was all I'd ever need, but the one we're building is bigger -- and it's only on three levels instead of five. Ack. Good thing we're putting in a central vacuum or we'd need THREE of them.

I'm knitting a bunch of scarves for my daughter's friends in the high school pep band. Why did I volunteer myself for this? It was 100% my idea, too. We were in the yarn store and I saw some fun fur and said, "Hey, I could do this...." and next thing you know I was buying piles of yarn. Why do I get myself into these things? Anyway, I've now made over 30 scarves, many different styles, all in red and black (and some with some white in them, too). It has been fun, and the kids really love them. No one does anything for the band -- just usually the athletes.

Well, I'm tired and need to get some for tomorrow.
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My First Hysterversary -- Spent in the Castle! 10-20-2005 - 09:05 PM
OK -- it's time for my "second" castle story.

I called the the night of the 18th to find out that I was to be at the hospital at 7 a.m. For my hysterectomy, I was supposed to be there at 11 a.m., so I was glad I'd "get it over with" this time! I called my dad, who was ready to come over and take my kids to school and daycare, to tell him he was "on" for the morning, as we'd be leaving for Rochester at 5:15 a.m. (or "0-dark-thirty" as dh would say)

We got to the hospital at 6:45 a.m. and we were taken to a pre-op room fairly near where I was before my hysterectomy. The only difference was that I didn't have my own bathroom, but I didn't have to do enemas and the lovely betadyne douche like I did last time, either -- so I could live without the bathroom! I donned my beautiful gown, robe, TED stockings and slippers, and we settled in.

Last year, we were trying to pass time watching TV -- but I don't think we waited for more than 45 minutes total. Also, last year, just as things were getting really "personal" (enemas, etc.) my aunt Ellie showed up to take dh off my hands at the perfect time!!! She has great timing. Anyway, this year, after I got dressed, we waited.

And waited.

And waited.

Last year, we watched Dan Rather's career unravel -- he was getting in trouble over those forged documents used to back up a news story. This year, it was hurricane coverage. It got so depressing to watch it, that I even made the supreme sacrifice and watched an hour of "Sports Center". I made this sacrifice because dh, who was rather hungry (having only had a cookie and a 7-up since 5 a.m.) was getting crankier by the minute. I kept telling him to go eat -- they'd page him if I got called. He refused. He said, "I'm not leaving you." Admirable, but he was making me even more nervous!

So we waited some more. By this time it was 12:05 p.m. (yes, we had been in this room since just about 7 a.m.) and I still hadn't been called. I think dh was about ready to go and strangle someone, and I was frankly wishing that my hospital was the kind of place where they would give you the "pre-op cocktail" so that I wouldn't have to listen to him say, "What is going on here?" one more time.......

So then I heard a voice in the hallway -- "Maybe she won't want to see me!" It was Aunt Ellie again. I swear, that woman is an angel! She walked in, gave me a beautiful card and a Chicken Soup book, and sat down. I looked at dh and said, "Now, go eat. Ellie's here with me. They'll call you if they are ready to take me to surgery." So he reluctantly left. And of course, about 15 minutes later, they DID call me.

They took me to the pre-op holding area (looked like the very same room I had been in for my hyst -- they probably all look alike). Like last time, I was with other women on my side. The other side of the room was male patients. I remember one man was very elderly and the attendants were all speaking very loudly to him.

The ladies on either side of me were having hysterectomies and ovaries removed. Just like at my hysterectomy surgery, one of them had cancer.

Differences: I didn't get shaved at all, even though the incision was going to be in the same place as my last incision. And, although the last time I was almost ignored before my surgery, this time I had at least 4 different people come up to me and chat. Also, and this was really strange, I thought -- a nurse had me write my initials on my abdomen. She said that this was a way for them to acknowledge, one last time, that the patient understands what is being done. They didn't have me do that last year.

I waited in the pre-op area for at least an hour and a half. By this time I was wondering what in the world had happened to the surgical schedule -- but I also know that emergencies crop up at all times. The last person who came to see me said, "I'm so sorry. This has been a crazy day. A weird day." I know he couldn't say anything more.

They wheeled me into the OR at about 2:45. They got the probes put on me, hooked me up to the IVs. I was chatting away with them. They gave me some happy drugs. Another difference: this time they actually put a mask over my mouth and nose (I don't remember that happening last year).

When I awoke in recovery, I was immediately more alert than I had been after my hysterectomy. I've been in a few recovery situations in the last year -- and after my hysterectomy, I was in so much pain I couldn't even speak when I first woke up. This time I was in pretty good shape.

They made the "first cut" at 3:15 p.m., and I was back in my room by 6 p.m. DH had been kept company by my uncle Dave (Ellie's hubby). Notably, I did have a private room -- when I had my hysterectomy, I had a roommate for two of the three nights I was in the castle. I'm no snob, but I've just reached a time in my life when I don't want a roommate!!

I noticed right away that I was MUCH better off than before. One of my docs (the assisting surgeon, I found out later) stopped by and said they had been able to open just part of the incision -- it was about 8 inches long. He said they opened me up and the hematoma was just looking at them.... right in the middle of a big cavity which had never closed up. They were able to resect part, but the back part was stuck to the abdominal wall so they had to scrape part of it off.

Said the thing looked like a slightly flattened, large grapefruit.

DH took off at about 6:30 looking extremely tired. I was scarfing down Jell-O by 8 p.m. (after my hyst they didn't give me anything but ice chips for about 6 hours because I was so out of it) and actually walking the halls at 9! I got up and went potty, and I said, "Can I walk?" The nurse said, "Are you sure?" I said, "Yes" -- and I did two complete laps of the floor!

I found I didn't have a morphine in my pump (it makes me itch) but they gave me fentanyl. It was OK, but I'm still not a fan of the PCA pump. I tend to push the button, then doze off and wake up with everything worn off. Not good.

Didn't sleep much during the night. When doc showed up at about 7 a.m., I asked how long I would stay. He said, "You can go home anytime!" I asked if I had the option to stay, and he said he'd hate to see me get a bill for $1035 for another night in the hospital that insurance wouldn't cover. That was my signal that I was going home! I asked if I could eat, he said -- Whatever you want. I was famished so I ordered a big breakfast, but couldn't eat much.

DH finally showed up at about 1 p.m. (he had taken our son to pre-school) and had no idea I was to be "sprung". I didn't bring my cell phone, and can't call long distance from the castle. So when he walked in, I said, "I can go!" I was home "in my couch" barely 24 hours after I first went into the OR.

I came home on my first hysterversary. The irony is not lost on me. Soon I'll write an update on how I've been feeling since surgery.
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Just One More Sleep Until the Castle 09-18-2005 - 11:19 AM
It's hard to believe I'm heading back to the castle for more surgery, but tomorrow it is.

I am to call tonight after 8:15 p.m. to get my "report time" tomorrow.

Things to be thankful for: regular diet today, no bowel prep (just nothing by mouth after midnight), things are pretty caught up at work, house is in OK shape.

Bad things: more surgery, opening up the whole incision, not being able to be specific about how long I'll be off work (hope less than 6 weeks, but with such a big open incision, who knows?), being laid up again, dh having to change my dressings twice a day, dealing with the surgical drains again.

I just wish it could be over with NOW.

I have been playing with my computer software for editing pictures. I've been working on my Europe pictures and I'm finally ready to upload a few to my HS gallery -- maybe tonight.

I am toying with the idea of seeing if the doc will take a picture of what they take out of me tomorrow. He'll probably think i'm completely twisted to ask, but this has been such a long road, and I'm so sick of it!

DH has been pretty good, and I know he'll be supportive of me, but I also know he thinks this should be a less intense recovery than the hyst. In many ways it will be, because there are no organs being removed. So hopefully he's right...

I did purchase a couple of "chick flicks" yesterday at the mall. "Pillow Talk" with Rock Hudson and Doris Day, and "What Women Want" with Mel Gibson. If I'm going to pamper myself, I also want some good stuff to watch. I remember after my hysterectomy I watched far too many of those medical shows.... "The Critical Hour"..... "Special Delivery" .... you get the idea. And the other night I was flipping through the channels and watched a real doozy -- "When Surgical Instruments Are Left Behind". I'm not kidding. Why I watched that show (just a few days before I have more surgery) is beyond me!!!!! But I couldn't take my eyes off the screen.

I'll write some when I get home from the castle. They are telling me I'll be in one or two nights, but secretly I hope for 2-3 nights. I just remember how hard it was to get around with the drains and everything. Well, till after surgery, ta-ta.
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Surgery Set for September 19 09-08-2005 - 08:40 PM
I'm scheduled for surgery on Monday, September 19. If all goes well, I'll come home from the castle on September 20, which is my first hysterversary. And no, the irony is not lost on me.

I do so hope that this will finally be the answer to the pain and discomfort I've been feeling.

Today I met with the surgeon again, and he was really nice this time. I said, "Do you want to do another ultrasound?" He said, "Nah -- by this time you know whether it's back or not. It's back, and it's not getting any better. Let's take care of this." He was right.

Hopefully just one night in the castle, but a full six weeks of lifting restrictions. He was a little more wishy-washy about going back to work. But I have a workstation at home and can conference call lots of the stuff I need to do.

Now I have to go into pre-surgery overdrive. The last time I did this, I had three months to prepare. This time, I have less than 2 weeks! DH is already thinking about how to deal with the 4-year-old, my 17-year-old daughter may come stay with us for a while. But things will be easier because Matt is another year older now, and that much easier to take care of. Whereas last year dh had to miss some high school football games (he loves going to them), this year he should be able to go, as long as Matt gets his bath before he leaves for the game. I will be able to put him to bed because he climbs up to the top bunk all by himself -- last year he needed to be lifted.

So now I'm FORCED to take Matt to MOA (that's the Mall of America for those who don't live in Minnesota ) this weekend because I won't have a chance for a while, and we had better get him his Halloween costume or all he'll be able to go as is a ghost. And he won't even be able to do that, because no one has white sheets anymore!

The house is in good shape, so all I'll really have to do is clean out the fridge and pantry -- get rid of all the old stuff, half-bags of frozen veggies, that sort of thing. Luckily we had a garage sale last weekend so I don't have to stare at too much junk lying around.

Well, I guess it's time to check in on some of the boards here and get myself to bed. I have lots of work to do before the 19th.
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It's Official -- I'm Headed Back to Surgery! 09-06-2005 - 04:50 PM
I talked with my gyn this morning, and I grudgingly agreed with him that it was best to let my plastics guy (Dr. No Personality) open me up and clean out the old hematoma. Ack.

I guess the only positive is that I've just about reached my out-of-pocket maximum for my health plan, so once I reach that, 100% of these expenses are covered. (As dh deadpanned this noon, "So if you're in the hospital a month, it's all covered?" I shudder at the very thought.) But of course I don't want to take more time off work, or spend more time in the hospital. I just want to be OK again.

I'll meet with my surgeon this Thursday. I do hope I'm looking at "overnight" vs. "3 nights" in the castle, and maybe a week off work instead of 6. But if it will help my pain, I'm willing. I guess. And as I finally had to agree with the doc on this morning, I'd rather spend three days in the hospital and a few weeks recovering than to live with this whole thing for the foreseeable future. As he said today, "This isn't getting any better." He's right.

So wish me luck with the surgeon on Thursday. I hope he can schedule me for the Friday before Columbus Day -- maybe I can be back at work by the Tuesday after. I know, I know -- I may be out for a few weeks. But I can dream, can't I???
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Garage Sale! 09-05-2005 - 08:42 PM
Had a pretty good weekend. We got rid of some stuff in a garage sale on Saturday, although I'm sure there will be another one coming up before we move next spring. I must say, we certainly don't let ourselves accumulate much in the way of junk.

Finally got the Europe pictures downloaded on the computer (we've only been home from the trip over 2 months) and started playing with the editing features. A monster has officially been created!! Within the next few days I hope to have a few pictures uploaded to my photo gallery here at HS, which is currently home to a couple of pictures of DS and two pictures of my post-op uterus.... not exactly the most beautiful mix of photos!

I'm still trying to connect with my gyn. We played phone tag on Thursday and Friday. I really do not want to go back to Dr. Meanie (that's my plastics guy) who wants to open me all the way back up to clean out this hematoma. I'd much rather START with something less invasive. If I went the way the plastics guy wants to go, I'm back off work for 6 weeks, etc. etc. etc. I fully realize it may come to that eventually, but I'd much rather start with something less -- I think the other procedure they're talking about could even be day surgery. Hope, hope, hope.

I'll try to remember to update my diet results at the end of most entries to track my progress. It does help that dd and several of my co-workers are also dieting. I am considering buying fruits and veggies for our breakroom each week in honor of our more healty eating habits.... I'll think about that one.

I've lost a total of 7 pounds in two weeks.
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Weekend of Houses and Whatever 08-27-2005 - 08:53 PM
Today DH and I went to see some model homes -- it's a mini-Parade of Homes sort of thing. Most of the homes are smaller and less elaborate than what we're planning on, but we did get some good ideas. Large bedrooms, main floor master suite, room for my grand piano... and a big, big, open kitchen!

This will be an interesting adventure as we start making some actual decisions. I know DH is chomping at the bit and wants to start building yet this fall. I'm just not sure I want to rush into something when we've both said we want to stay in this house for 15-20 years!

Oh, my baby is starting to grow up -- Matt has begun coming out of his room in the morning a little bit. Some days he just comes to the door and yells out, but a couple of days ago he actually came out and was sitting in the hallway. He had been so cute about waiting until we come to get him. But I do want him to start venturing out because I don't want him to still be in diapers at the age of 18..... lol

DD and I started Slim-fast on Monday (today is Saturday) and I have already lost 4 pounds. I know it's water weight at this point, but it still feels good. This is the first time in my adult life -- hard to believe, I know -- that I've actually tried to lose weight. I mean, other than just cutting down a little. I'm really following the plan to the letter! While DH and I were out today, I munched on a Slim-fast bar and an apple, and then he was going to stop at BK for a burger. I said, "Let me off at the gas station and I'll just get some pretzels and iced tea" and he said, "Is that all you want?" And I said, "I'm on Slim-fast! I can't eat Burger King!!!" so he let me off, and I walked over after I had gotten my pretzels. Later, when we went to the grocery store, he watched me piling fruit, veggies, etc. into the cart and he said, "So aren't you going to eat with Matt and me any more?" And I said, "Yes, but I'll be eating some different things." I'm still trying to figure out just how I'll do it -- probably just with smaller portions. I can't fry his chicken and not fry mine -- but I'll just take off the skin for instance. And eat lots less.

So far it's working. I have lots of weight to lose, so I'll keep posting my progress here.

Tomorrow we will go to early church and then Matt and I are off to shop. We need to get him a new chair, maybe some new T-shirts, and DH wants me to pick up the movie "Sahara".

Well, enough for today.
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Meeting with the Architect 08-25-2005 - 03:16 PM
We had our first meeting with our architect for our new house today.

Right now we're thinking it will be a 2-story with a walkout basement, 3000-3500 sq. ft. without the basement. We don't want a formal dining room, but I want a living room with pocket doors so I have a nice room for the piano which can be closed off if need be. Master suite on the main level, 3 bedrooms upstairs....

Once we decide on the design and layout, the REAL fun begins when the builder tells us how much our pipe dream is going to cost us. Yikes.

This is exciting, but it will be a true test of dh's and my relationship. I think I'll let him dictate the basement family room and "his" rooms, but he had better stay out of my kitchen!!!!! Fortunately we have similar tastes in many ways.
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Another (hopefully last) draining of the "Collection" 08-23-2005 - 09:27 AM
Yesterday I had my seroma drained once again. I got my first glance of it via ultrasound. Looks really strange -- like a tortise shell. Lots of pieces with white in between.

They got 300 cc of fluid off of it yesterday. The doctor was concerned because once again the fluid they got off of the seroma looks like old blood. In other words, he's concerned that there is still a bleeder in there somewhere. If this comes back again, he wants to do something more aggressive.

The good news, however, is that the guy yesterday agreed with my gyn that it could be a smaller, less invasive procedure. They would make a small incision, suck everything out, and repair whatever blood vessel is still broken... The plastics guy was saying I'd have to start all over with a hip-to-hip incision, 6 weeks off work, the whole shootin' match. Don't want any part of that.

Also, yesterday they gave me some "happy drugs" so I didn't get so frightened during the procedure. I was very grateful for that, let me tell you!

I do hope that, if something more needs to be done, I can have it done in 2005. I've already reached my $2600 deductible for the year (we switched to an HDHP this year) so I'd like to get it done before the new deductible year kicks in on Jan. 1 2006.

DH and I are starting the process of building a house (I know, I know.) I always have thought that building a house would be a great reality show -- take 10 couples, give them a budget to build a house, and see who stays married for the whole project. I have visions of my marriage ending as we stand in Home Depot, arguing over knobs for the kitchen cabinets!! We do have a lot purchased, and we have our first meeting with the architect planned for this week. Wish us luck.
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08-18-2005 - 09:26 PM 08-18-2005 - 08:26 PM
Went to see the plastic surgeon..... this guy needs a serious course in patient relations. He's about as warm as a cold, wet washcloth! Anyhow, his story of what would have to be done to "fix" my fluid collection was completely different than the othe doc. Other doc mentioned they could do a SMALL incision, vacuum out everything, then sew it back up. Plastics guy says no, it's a whole major surgery -- they open up the whole incision (hip-to-hip), two nights in the castle, start all over with healing, etc. etc. ad nauseum.

So I elect, reluctantly, to have them attempt to drain the collection one more time. However this time I insist on something more than just local anesthesia. I don't want to be put to sleep, but I would like to be a little less aware of what they're doing!!!

DH is out of town at his wargaming convention, so ds and I have been hanging out together this week. It has been fun. Matt is a total joy most of the time. His routines are hilarious. He is really into certain toy catalogs, and if you turn the pages, you catch it from him: "Don't get off my page! Mom, am I getting these alligators for my birthday? What about these sharks? And are dolphins mean to us or nice? What about killer whales? And how many frogs do I have?" Don't worry -- we're talking about rubber frogs....I think.

Tonight he ate four servings of Rice-a-Roni, too. Wouldn't touch the chicken (that's usually a favorite), though. And total victory came just after dinner when he...... drum roll please...... pooped on the potty! This has been a major issue. He turns 5 in October, and has been day trained for well over a year. But he has only pooped on the potty sporadically, and usually requests a diaper at night. (He can hold it all day, however -- I'm proud of his muscles!) The last few weeks, however, he has started pooping about 1/2 of the time on the potty. So I hope that by not making it a big deal he'll just start doing it on his own. Now if we could just get him to get up and go during the night.... but he just sleeps so soundly, and he will not get out of bed unless we come and get him! That's nice in the morning, I guess -- no child waking you at 5:00 a.m. thinking it's time to turn on the cartoons. Oh, well, I guess he'll get it sooner or later.

Strange how I get to bed earlier when DH isn't home..... I'm not avoiding him, but I get my best computer time in at night when he's around (because I'm at work during the day) and now I'm done much earlier. Funny. Next week we'll be back to the old routine..... He'll come up and stand over me as I look at stuff (and post here on HS as usual), saying, "What are the sisters up to now?"

He comes home on Sunday -- that is, if his flight goes. He's flying Northwest and it still looks like there will be a mechanics' strike tomorrow. If he doesn't get home on Sunday, my dad will have to drive me to Rochester to get the draining done.

Well, I should get to bed.
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It's Ba-ack..... 08-07-2005 - 07:50 PM
I went for the ultrasound last Monday, after hearing from the doctor that he felt my "fluid collection" (sounds much better than a hematoma, don't you think?) was gone and all I was feeling was inflammation from when they went in and drained it last month.

On Tuesday morning, early (I didn't take that as a good sign) I got a call from my doctor, and he said, "Your fluid collection is back." And I answered him, "I knew it was." So he started going through the possible treatments. They couldn't put in a permanent drain last time (which is what they originally wanted to do) because there is too much tissue stranding and the area looks more like honeycombs with all sorts of little channels and pockets. So now the thinking is that they will go in and actually suck the area dry with a vacuum, then hope it stays closed. And I got shuffled back to my plastic surgeon for this, too. I go back on the 16th to see him. In the meantime, I look like I have never-ending "swelly belly".

On another subject, I went on a great little weekend with my two kids. My "hometown" (well, we lived there until I was 5) in Iowa had its sesquicentennial (150th birthday) celebration this weekend and we went down for it. Got some pictures of the house I remember, saw the sights, bought the cookbook (you just HAVE to buy the cookbook, right?). And we also took in the SPAM museum in Austin, MN on the way. DS got to swim in the hotel swimming pool several times -- he'll be talking about this experience for months to come, I'm sure.
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Hematomas and Other Joys of Post-op 07-28-2005 - 09:33 PM
On July 15 I had my old hematoma drained. They took (altogether) about 500 cc of fluid off of my abdomen. It relieved the pain for a little while, sort of. They had hoped they could just insert a surgical drain and leave it there for about 10 days to drain, but when they did the ultrasound for the procedure they saw that there was all sorts of tissue stranding and instead of one big sac of fluid, there were all sorts of little pockets and channels. So the drain idea wasn't going to work. They decided to just drain as much as they could in one go and hope that it would stay drained.... I really wasn't prepared for that. It felt like they were doing liposuction or something -- rooting around with a really long needle. Yuck. By the end of the procedure there were tears streaming down my face -- partly from pain, partly from fear. As I walked out of the hospital, I vowed to myself -- "I'm never letting anyone do that to me again. I don't care how bad it gets."

Well, never say never. A few days later, my tummy was swollen again, and now the original pain I was feeling before the hematoma was diagnosed in April is back. It's a very raw pain near the left end of my incision. So I went back to my gyno today and they are setting me up with an ultrasound to see if everything needs draining again. Actually, he doesn't think it needs it. He thinks my swelling is just inflammation from the docs rooting around with the needle the other day. But he is concerned about the pain, which is sometimes hardly noticable and other times so severe it takes my breath away. I just want some answers.

Other than that, things are going OK. Next weekend we're taking off to my childhood hometown in Iowa. The town is celebrating its 150th birthday so we're going to do the whole small-town celebration thing. It should be lots of fun and Matt (4) is absolutely beside himself with anticipation. "Mom, are we going in the swirly whirlpool? Is there an ice machine at the hotel? Can we bring snacks? Will I have to bring my animals so they aren't lonely at home?" The questions are never-ending. We even got him a little pull-behind suitcase that he can pack his own toys and books in.
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4th of July Fun 07-11-2005 - 07:51 AM
I had a pretty good week. I still have to get around to talking about my summer vacation, but in the meantime I'll talk a little about the 4th of July.

I play in a polka band and my ds (4) and I rode in the local 4th of July parade. I played my horn, he waved a flag. Talk about small-town Americana!!! Afterwards we went to the local fair (runs every year July 1-4) because we just didn't get enough cheese curds, lemonade, corn dogs (my favorite) and other assorted junk food the other days! Also, ds had to ride his rides again.

I entered one knitting project (a baby blanket I made for my niece's new baby) and even though it was really beautiful, it only got a second-place ribbon. Why? Because I am such a procrastinator -- I waited until the night before entry day to put the fringe on it, so I never had time to block it and the edges curled. There -- my secret is out. Sigh. Once I washed it, everything was wonderful. Sigh. I am now working on a couple of things to enter in my county fair in a few weeks, and I WILL finish them properly!!

After the fair, we went out to my dad's place for our cookout. We had brats, hot dogs, chips, homemade baked beans, fruit, and from-scratch brownies courtesy of my dd (16). Then we took a ride out on my dad's pontoon (he lives on a lake) and watched the local fireworks from the pontoon. When we got back to his place, we lit some of our own fireworks.

Got ds to bed by 12:00 (way, way, late!!!) and I was shocked that he was awake by 6:30 the next morning. However, he faded during the day and we had a hard time keeping him awake past suppertime on the 5th. Early bedtime!

I finally feel as though I have recovered and am back on "Minnesota time" from our trip to Europe last month. I honestly think that coming back was harder than going over. Maybe it's because when you come back you have to get right back to work, but when you go over, you're heading for (supposed) relaxation and you feel less pressure. I don't know. Anyway, I finally feel like I'm back to normal -- at least as normal as I get.

Sang in church yesterday, then played with the community band at a local arts festival. It was fun -- but oh, so HOT! 98 degrees and humid! Our lawn is frying, and we have automatic sprinklers! They are set to go off only every other day, so dh is trying to reset them so they go off every day until the heat subsides.

Well, that's all the time I have for today.
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Still dealing w/hematoma, but going on a trip soon!! 06-06-2005 - 03:56 PM
Since my last entry, I learned the reason I was having the persistent nausea and pain. You'd think that after all the reading I have done on this website, I would know to go to the doctor if I was still feeling bad, wouldn't you?

First a bit of background. After my TAH/panniculectomy last September 20, I felt pretty good. When I caught a glance of myself in the mirror in the hospital, I noticed that my tummy was relatively flat for the first time in YEARS!! Not really flat, but relatively flat, mind you. But soon after surgery, I noticed that I felt like there was a brick in my belly, and it just wasn't going away.

I stayed on vicodin for almost 3 months after surgery. I wasn't taking much -- maybe 1 pill a day, along with lots of aspirin and ibuprofen -- but I was still hurting. The surgical pain just never really went away. I figured I was just a slow healer.

I finally broke down in late January (or was it early Feb.?) and called my foot doc for pain pills. I have had several injuries to my right foot, and it was really starting to bother me again. But, truth be told, my belly was hurting too -- mostly on the right side. I would get sharp pains which would actually cause me to catch my breath.

In early April, I finally decided I needed to go to the doctor. I went to my GP (not the doc who did my surgery and not the gynecologist) and said I was still having pain and that my belly felt and looked bigger than before my hysterectomy. I also said, "I feel like there's a brick in there", and my skin was still numb. She looked kind of skeptical. I just sensed that she thought I was after pain meds. I don't know it for sure, but I just sensed that she thought I might be drug-seeking.

Anyway, she got me up on the exam table and started poking around a bit. I was pointing to the area where it hurt, and then she pressed down on a certain spot and I jumped right off the table! She said, "Hmmmm.... this is right at the edge of your incision. Maybe you have a hernia" So she ordered a CT scan, and I went over and had one done and went home, still hurting.

The next morning I got a call from another doc at the clinic (it was my GP's day off). He was very evasive, and kept asking me why I had the CT scan done. I said I didn't know what was wrong. He said, "Well, did the doctor say what she thought was wrong?" I said, "She thought I had a hernia." He said, "No, you don't have a hernia." I thought -- great. He's about to tell me there's nothing wrong with me. Then he said, "What you have is a collection of blood" I said, "You mean a hematoma?" He said, "Yes!" sounding very relieved that he wouldn't have to explain the whole thing to me. He said that it was really large, and I asked him how big it was. He said it was 19 cm. across and 9 cm deep. Ack! He was also sure that they would want to do something surgically right away, but that the surgeon would be in the office in about an hour and he would consult with the surgeon.

So a while later the doctor called back again and said, "Well, they don't want to do anything unless it's infected. They want to see if it resolves on its own." All they wanted to do was pain control. He asked how much aspirin and ibuprofen I was taking, and I told him (alot of it!). He said, "Stop." Tylenol during the day, and he'd write a script for Percoset. He also told me to stop doing abdominal exercises. Obviously this doctor has never met me -- I don't exactly look as though I live at the gym .

The next day, my GP called me and said, "My God -- have you see this?" And when I said I hadn't, she said, "Come on up to the clinic and take a look! It's HUGE!" So I drove right up there and saw this thing. It is shaped kind of like a football -- wider in the middle (where my skin is numb). She also said, "Now I know what you meant when you said you felt like you were carrying around a brick!"

Amazing, too, how her tune on my pain level changed. The day before she was looking skeptically at me, and less than 24 hours later she was asking me if Percoset was strong enough!

Anyway, now I'm waiting for this thing to resolve, and nothing is happening. We're leaving on a big family vacation this weekend -- my dad is taking my sisters and me (and our families) to Switzerland and Austria. At least I have some pain pills to help get me through, but when I get back I really want some relief for this!

Matt is as cute as ever. We get catalogs for toys periodically, and he has one toy he really wants. He normally just carries around the whole catalog, but this time he ripped out the page where the toy is displayed and he carries it around with him everywhere. I hear, "Where is my page?" at least a dozen times a day, and he actually puts "his page" on the pillow of his bottom bunk every night before bed!

We also have an entire bedtime ritual which includes hugging and kissing all of "the animals" as he calls them -- "Old croc", "New croc", "Soft croc", :Glow-in-the-dark dinosaur", "Big green snake", "Froggy", "Platypus -- the only mammal that has eggs". Literally -- each night we call them the same things. It's never "Snake" -- it's always "Big green snake". Too funny.

Well, that's all for today.
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Good Easter, Good Week Coming Up 03-28-2005 - 03:34 PM
Had a really good Easter. A couple of weeks ago I was talking with my daughter (16) and we were discussing Easter. She said she wanted to stay with me on Easter weekend, and I asked why (it was her weekend to be with her dad). She said, "I don't want to miss my jelly-bean trail!" I should explain. At our house, the Easter Bunny hides the baskets, but so the little ones (and not so little ones) don't overturn everything in the house to find their baskets, the Bunny leaves a trail of jelly beans leading to the basket. Starts at the bedroom door.

Of course, things have evolved over the years. First we needed to upgrade to Jelly Bellies (buttered popcorn and A&W Root Beer flavors, please) and this year I was informed that Jordan Almonds worked, too..... Also, my 4-year-old son won't eat jelly beans, so his trail was made of plain M&Ms. So there were trails of Jordan almonds and M&Ms going throughout my house on Easter morning. My son broke his Slinky within a couple of hours. I guess he shouldn't have been dragging it behind it playing as though it was his dog !! But he loved his little truck, and he also got a battery-operated firetruck toothbrush.

No family celebration yesterday -- but I went to play piano at the local nursing home for their Easter service (after spending all morning at our church directing the choir). I really enjoy playing at the nursing home. I play there for an hour once a week -- should make it two or three times a week... they enjoy it so very much!

Our family will get together for Easter this Sunday. I'll do most of the cooking at my dad's house. On Saturday, we'll go up to the Shrine Circus -- which my kids always absolutely love. My son has been talking about hte "red and blue slide" and riding the elephants for an entire year (since the last circus) and he's only 4! He's so excited he's almost beside himself.

I'm feeling a little less than perfect. It has been much easier to be guarded in my responses on the boards these days. I can't really say I feel that much better than before my surgery. Of course, it's entirely possible that I was having all these current problems before surgery, too -- but now I have pretty persistent nausea and "sour stomach" -- the taste in my mouth like I just got done vomitting and I haven't. It's really annoying. My foot also hurts most of the time, and I finally broke down a couple of months ago and got more pain pills.

I also still have a numb belly, although it's s-l-o-w-l-y getting better. That and some kind of rough pains which make me think I'm going to have to call a doctor if things don't get much better soon. But I don't really have anything specific to talk about and the pain isn't constant.

All for now.
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Bad Journal Writer. Bad, Bad, Journal Writer!! 03-16-2005 - 04:00 PM
Yes, I've been bad. It's been over two months since I've written anything. I suppose I've been so busy posting to others I just haven't found time. But I am resolved to try and get down some feelings at least once a week or so from now on.

Things are going pretty well. DS is such a joy to me. He is bright and funny and energetic, just as a 4-year-old should be. He wakes up every morning, saying stuff like, "I slept with my baby blankets" because he's into their softness right now. Then he'll say, "Is it morning?" (He won't get up by himself yet -- if he wakes up he calls out, "Mommy, wake me up!&quot If yesterday was laundry day, he says, "What shirt is available?" He knows that his black Spiderman shirt -- the favorite -- is waiting for him in the closet. We can be assured that Matt wears that shirt every Tuesday and every Saturday, because laundry days are Monday and Friday...

My dd is doing OK -- she's 16 and finally ready to say that there's something she wants to do after high school. She wants to go into floral design. Sounds OK to me. She has always been interested in plants and gardening, and she did a one-day job shadowing project at a local greenhouse and loved it. So hopefully that will work out for her.

Getting prepared for the big trips this year -- 1 week to Washington DC and 2-1/2 weeks in Europe this summer. Can't wait!!!! Got the passport and new camera.

No more time -- have to dash off to Lenten services at church.
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National Lampoon's European Vacation -- Here We Come! 12-27-2004 - 02:39 PM
Well, we had a great Christmas. DS (4) got his train set (which is now strewn all over the family room because he discovered the track pieces come apart), lots of trucks, and a ton of Spiderman stuff. Funny how he loves Spiderman, but won't watch the cartoons or movies. Anyway, the "big hit" gift for him was a Spiderman lunchbox with a bag of M&Ms in it. If I had known that, I would have gotten him 5 lunchboxes and been done with it -- would have saved alot of money too!

At the very end of my family's gift-giving ritual (lots of coffee beans, books, and gift cards exchanged....) my dad (77 years old) announced that he'd like to take the whole family (that's 11 of us including his girlfriend) to Switzerland and Austria this summer if we'd like to go. ARE YOU KIDDING??? Would we like to go? Let's see if I can clear my busy social calendar........

So we're all very excited. Dad is already busy trying to line up the tour in June. I cannot wait for this trip. DH is terribly excited, as this is his first time traveling anywhere other than Canada. DD is besider herself with excitement, too! The challenge is going to be to find someone to watch DS (4 years old) for almost three weeks........This is going to take lots and lots of phone cards.

I'm feeling pretty good -- mostly just numb, dry skin over the incision site still bothering me. And my bad right foot/ankle area is still hurting. I hate winter...it's always harder on the joints. Well, that's all for today.

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It has been a while since I posted 12-03-2004 - 03:16 PM
I still haven't posted my castle story -- I have been too busy healing/working. I've posted some replies on the other boards, but for some reason the journaling part got away from me. But I'll try to do better coming up now.

I'm still feeling some pain. I have some pain meds left, and I'll see how the weekend goes. If I'm still in pain on Monday, I'll call in and get some more. Between my belly and my bad foot and leg, I'm feeling alot of pain these days, and I just can't afford that this month!

One thing that has really surprised me is how many fewer mood swings I'm feeling now after the surgery. On one level, this is very reassuring, because obviously my ovaries are working fine -- no hot flashes or anything like that. But it also tells me that lots of stuff that I chalked up to PMS probably wasn't even really PMS -- it was just the pain and discomfort of that huge uterus getting filled up with a few gallons (or so it seemed) of blood every month! Except for the post-op pains, I really feel very "normal". It also makes me wonder if my bouts of depression (the major two were extended episodes of post-partum depression) could have been made worse by all of this? Who knows.

I'm happy to report that my singing voice is BACK. I sang in church last Sunday and I've never sounded better. That's such a relief to me -- my lack of breath control and lung capacity from the swollen uterus was really having an impact on my life in that way.

That's all for now. Hope to post that castle story soon.
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Surgery Dilemma 09-12-2004 - 08:03 PM
I found out on Friday that my insurance company denied coverage for the panniculectomy. It's a good thing I called to find out I had been denied, because yesterday (Sat) I got the letters in the mail, and if I had found out that way I think I probably would have lost it.

Anyway, I read the denial letter from the ins. company. They said since I don't get recurrent skin infections and the fat doesn't impede on my daily hygiene or other activities, it doesn't qualify to be covered.

And then I open up the other letter from the clinic/hospital.... whoo doggy! Guess how much they expect me to fork over next Monday to have this second procedure done? $7100. And that's just a deposit...... I cried when I read that. It feels like a "fat tax". My dr. said I needed the panniculectomy so that a) the abdomen is more accessible and b) I have an easier time with the incision. This is even though I will end up with a second incision (hip-to-hip) from the second procedure.

Anyhoo, I went the whole gamut of emotions, from saying to heck with it, I'm cancelling the whole thing, to well I guess I need to get out the checkbook.

I decided today that I would talk to my gyn surgeon and my plastic surgeon tomorrow (they had BETTER have time for me) and find out what's really going on. If the idea of the panniculectomy was "nice, but not really necessary", then I will try to do the hysterectomy alone.

The $7100 deposit doesn't bother me so much (well, no more than paying $7100 for a surgery would bother anyone) but I'm concerned about complications. If I end up back in the hospital with an infection, will the insurance company claim it was connected to the panniculectomy and refuse to pay? I'm sure this hospital is $500 a day or more....gee, I guess I don't even know what the customary per-day charge is anymore. It was $180/day when I had my 16-year-old dd, though, and that was here in my hometown, far from the 'big city'.

Anyway, I was going to work at a charity golf tournament tomorrow, but I'll have to find someone to work for me, because I have to stay by my **** phone to take **** phone calls from **** doctors. ACCCCKKKKKKK!!!!
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