LilySlim Weight loss tickers

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Monday, October 31, 2011

Cleaning Day ~

Walker asked Cubby and Squeak to clean their room so he could run the vacuum in there.  He told them to make sure everything was off the floor.  They were happy to comply:


Sunday, October 30, 2011

Who's the Boss? Oh, Yeah - Ernie

Ernie's new coat didn't work too well.  Turns out the outer layer of fabric has this plasticy coating on it, like a rain coat.  Which means first that it's fairly heavy, and also that it makes noise when Ernie moves.  She wanted no part of it, and honestly, I do not blame her.  I wouldn't want to wear a heavy, crackly coat either.  Time for plan B.

We have a couple of those heat pack things that you warm up in the microwave.  One of them is a rectangular rice bag with a pink flannel cover but Walker tend to favor that one when he has body aches, so I used the other one, a tube filled with buckwheat kernels.  I didn't want Ernie to lay on it - I thought it might be too hot for her - so I got out one of the puppy blankets that we got when we used to take care of my sister's dogs during the day.  I folded the blanket and tucked the heat pack inside. Ernie didn't seem to want anything to do with that, either, probably because when you heat it it gives off a smell a bit like bread baking.  But I set her on it, held her there for a minute, and she figured out pretty quick that this thing was giving off heat.  She curled up on it and slept for hours.

Eventually these heat packs cool off.  Ernie will go get herself a snack and come back to a cool blankie.  She lets us know, loudly, when she needs a reheat.  She's got the whole family jumping through hoops.  Even the kids take reheat duty seriously.  Then Walker decided that Ernie really should have a bigger heat pack, maybe one that she can lay her whole body on.  So he went out to the fabric store.  The ladies who work there just love him, so he had no trouble finding help.  He told his new friend that he needed to make a heat pack for his cat, he wanted the fabric to be soft, and by the way, the cat likes pink. Oh, yes, he absolutely did. He proudly brought home a length of pretty pink flannel, 100% cotton because that is the  recommended fabric for use in the microwave. My mom has been bribed into sewing it up.  For the cat.  Ahem.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

I Think I Better Stop Now.....

So when Bro made an offer on a house, and the sellers accepted, and they set a closing date, I offered to decorate the boys' rooms.  I figured, I like doing it, Bro doesn't, and the kids don't care who's in charge as long as they get cool spaces.  We all win.

I set a fairly low budget and set about collecting the things I would need. I hunted down deals on throw blankets, I had posters printed, I rooted a couple plants.  I found two chairs for five bucks at a rummage sale and Walker sanded them and painted them.  My mom is sewing special pillow covers.  Things were going well.  Very well.  So well that I decided, Bro is a boy, I'll do some things for his room, too.  Together we found a squishy down comforter, and I picked out some flannel sheets that would coordinate nicely.  Bro likes things simple, so I stopped there.

But of course, I didn't stay stopped.  I got a flier from Kohl's about a store wide sale.  I needed some jeans, so I decided to check it out. I picked out two pair of jeans, but the coupon I had offered an extra 20% discount if I spent $100.  I was at about $68, so I figured a shower curtain and a bath mat for Bro would just about do it.  Only it didn't.  I was shopping during "magic hour", when the already on sale items were an extra 10% off.  So I tossed some towels and a plastic wastebasket in my cart.  That was enough to put me over the $100 mark, so I headed to the checkout.  With the extra 20% off the "savings" amount was more than the "sale total" amount.  Pretty slick, right? 

Since I had started with a $100 budget and I only spent about $85 I decided to stop at Walmart on the way home.  I figured I could get some hand soap and toothpaste and toilet paper and - viola! - one bathroom would be finished.  Bro would still have one more to do, but in the mean time he'd have a fully stocked bathroom for himself and the boys to share until he figured out what to do with the second one. And, in case you're wondering, it won't hurt my feelings if he takes everything back.  It's hard to pick things out for other people, and I'd rather have someone exchange something I gave them than have it sit, unused, in a closet somewhere. Besides,  Bro generally isn't fussy.  I got gift receipts for everything just in case. 

So anyway, I'm tooling around Walmart and I realized that we have not gotten any Halloween candy yet.  No problem!  Thump, thump, thump, into the cart it goes.  Then I remembered that, since I got a fabric shower curtain, Bro would need a vinyl liner.  No problem!  Better get two, as ours is looking a little sad.  Hmmm, the boys are readers.  I should probably get them some reading lamps.  Oh!  And poster frames for those gorgeous posters I ordered.  As I headed back to the soap-and-toothpaste section I passed a pile of pink, as in a whole kiosk of Susan G Komen pink ribbon stuff.  Of course I had to look.  I've been a sucker for that stuff since I can remember.  Our wrapping paper was lost in the Great Basement Flood of 2011.  Into the cart with two rolls of lovely silver and pink.  Mmmmm, pretty pink tulip bulbs!  I love tulips!  Gotta get some of those. I could go on, but I'm pretty sure you got the idea.  When I was done, my $15 stop for toothpaste and toilet paper cost me a hundred bucks.  Yep, another break-the-bank trip to Walmart.  For some reason, Walmart and Home Depot are budget busters to me.  Ah, well.  I had the cash in my wallet so really, it's all good.  As long as this doesn't become a habit.

Friday, October 28, 2011


I got a letter from my doctor yesterday.  Shes decided that since my triglycerides and overall cholesterol numbers have improved I can stay on the stinky fish oil regimen instead of trying a new prescription.  I consider that good news, despite the nastiness of the fish oil.  She also feels that I dont need a retest until my next physical, which would be in July.  So I have a pretty good grace period to make some healthy changes in my life.  Now all I have to do is take advantage of that time and just do it.
Ive noticed that when Im taking proper care of myself healthy food, regular exercise, plenty of sleep I tend to take more care with myself, if that makes sense. I pay more attention to my hair and my makeup, I do my nails,  I am more selective with my wardrobe choices.  Seems like when one thing slides, the others tend to follow, until there is a great big snowball of hot mess sitting in my chair.  Right now, I work a night shift in an office with two other people, neither of whom who would give a rip what I wore to work or whether or not I fixed my hair. In fact, I doubt either one would even notice.  So its easy to get lax, especially when things are so busy at home.  And lax I have been.

Thinking about how one good change often leads to another, I decided to start with the easy parts and hope the motivation spreads like a stomach bug at a daycare center.   To that end, I spent some time at the Sephora website Friends and Family Sale time, yall! and now am anxiously awaiting delivery of some girly goodies, including a treatment oil for my badly peeling fingernails, some volumizing foam for my hair, and a new brush head for the neglected Clarisonic skin brush living in the bathroom cabinet.   Of course I bought a bottle of Walkers favorite cologne, too, and of course that has already been delivered.  Sigh.  Men get all the luck. 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

In My Garden

The little rose bush that I moved from the back corner of the yard to under Diva's bedroom window has finally bloomed.  I've lived here for six years and have never seen the color of these blossoms before, as this bush has not bloomed in all that time.  If it hadn't bloomed this year I probably would have yanked it in the spring.  It saved itself in the nick of time.  The outside petals have a touch of frostbite, but I think these flowers are lovely anyway.

I thought Diva's roses were the last of the season, so imagine my surprise when I went around the side of the house and found this:

The cooler weather seems to give the blooms such a vibrant color.  My hanging basket, so battered after the tornado knocked it about, is still blooming away.  It's planted with a mix of scarlet geraniums, verbena, and dusty miller.  I haven't been bringing it in at night but I should probably start.

 And finally, a visitor!  This little guy didn't seem to mind being photographed, but while I was crouched down working on my focus I startled a hummingbird, who in turn startled me.  I didn't even see him until he flew out of the flowers and straight for me.  I'm glad my instinct to swat didn't kick in.  It took me a moment to realize what he was.  By then, he was gone.  Fortuanately my butterfly was still posing for me, so I was able to get this shot.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Good News, Bad News

The good news is, all is well with my mammogram.  Wahoo!  The doctor was running late, very late actually.  There were four of us in the waiting room.  The waiting room is very nice, with a snack basket, a beverage fridge, and a private bathroom.  They have TV and magazines, too.  We were a bit of a rowdy bunch, the four of us in our matching tie front smocks.  One of the older ladies was waiting for an ultrasound.  She didn't seem to understand the magnitude of that appointment.  You get the ultrasound when there is a high suspicion of cancer.  She had her mammo, waited quite a while to see the doctor, and was waiting for her ultrasound when I got called back to the treatment room.  When I was all done, had all my good news, I got dressed and went out to the appointment desk to schedule my next follow up.  A few minutes later the nurse came and got the older woman's husband, telling him, "The doctor is talking to your wife and she wants you to come back."   The husband was complaining that he's been waiting for three hours and really didn't want to get up out of his chair.  I wanted to yell at him:  "Dude, think about where you are.  Think about what your wife is having done.  She is about to hear that she has cancer and she needs your support.  Get out of that chair and get your butt back there and hold your wife's hand!"  I felt so bad for this woman.  I hope her husband steps up or at the very least, that she has better support somewhere.  I'm pretty sure they wouldn't have asked him to go back if everything was fine.  They'd have told her to get dressed and sent her on her way.

I had over forty appointments from the day I was diagnosed until the day I was declared cancer free.  Walker missed only two of them.  I am a very lucky girl.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Cavalry is Calling!

I have my rescheduled mammogram this morning.  I took half a vacation day from work last night so I could get home at a reasonable time.  I was in bed by midnight, the alarm set for 6:30.  I didn't actually need to get up until 7:00 but since I slept through it last time, I guess I thought I should bump up the time.  Like that would make a difference. Anyway, I woke up about every hour all night, but I fell right back to sleep after I checked the time.  So when the alarm finally went off at 6:30 I was ready to bounce out of bed and get this thing over with. 

Apparently I'm not the only one stressing over this appointment.  Bro called while I was in the shower, and when I didn't answer the phone he called my mom to see if she could come over and get me up.  Walker called, too, checking on me.  I fully expect to hear from my sister any minute.

On the subject of medical stuff, I still haven't heard from my family practice doctor about my high triglycerides.  She was on vacation last week so I imagine she's still getting caught up.  I'm looking forward to that conversation less than today's mammogram.  I just really hate taking meds.

Monday, October 24, 2011

She Hates Me Now

Ernie's kidney disease has caused her to lose nearly half of her body weight.  She's pretty much fur and bones these days.  With the colder weather we were concerned that she's not comfortable, but it's not really cold enough to turn the furnace on.  So we borrowed something from her puppy cousin:

She's not too happy with me these days.  But at least she's a little warmer.  Since she doesn't seem to be trying to take it off, I've ordered a jacket just for her.  It's longer and made of a thicker fabric.  She'll probably be putting herself up for adoption after that.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

I'm Sure Somebody is Laughing

I opened my email account to a big surprise ~ looks like someone has signed me up at  At first I thought it was Walker.  I used to tease him that we should both register with an online dating site and see if they put us together.  I wouldn't actually do that.  It isn't fair to the folks who are seriously looking for some companionship to register for kicks.  But I thought it was an interesting idea, to see if some criteria set up by who knows who would decide that we are right for each other.  Or not.  Ahem. Anyway, I realized it wasn't Walker because we were together all day, and because Walker doesn't do more than check his email and pay a couple bills online without help.

I have no idea what my profile looks like but I have a lot of matches.  I would imagine that's a good thing.  I don't know how to get rid of my profile, since I do not have a password.  I could probably contact the webmaster at the site.  Hopefully there is nothing on there that would make me look bad, in case I start job hunting or something.  If I run for president someday this will probably come back to haunt me.  I'm sure I'll make myself nuts trying to figure out who the prankster is.  What I know for sure?  Somebody needs a hobby ~

Saturday, October 22, 2011

On My Soapbox

I got a the latest issue of People magazine in the mail yesterday, and I have to say, a couple of the stories are just downright depressing.  The cover story was about Baby Lisa, the ten month old that disappeared from her home while her mother was passed out drunk in the bedroom.   Baby Lisas father was supposed to be home from work around 10pm, but had to stay late and didnt get home until around 3am, at which point he discovered the front door unlocked, a window open with the screen pushed in, and Baby Lisa gone.  The article stated that he couldnt call home to tell  Baby Lisas mother that he would be late because they had not paid their phone bill and had restricted service.  It pains me that someone with small kids in the house would choose to buy wine before paying their phone bill.   It also saddens me that someone who is supposed to be taking care of three young kids drinks to the point of passing out.   Baby Lisas mother believes that she forgot to close the window because she was drunk.  I would imagine that she didnt hear anyone breaking in for the same reason.

Another article describes the suicide of Bernie Madoffs son, Mark, two years after turning his father in to the authorities.  Mark made an unsuccessful suicide attempt in 2009, spent a week in the hospital, and came home still struggling with the situation.  In  December 2010, Marks wife, Stephanie,  took their daughter to Disney World for her birthday leaving Mark home alone with their young son.  When the Wall Street Journal published an article saying that Mark and his brother were being investigated in connection with their fathers crimes,  Mark texted Stephanie and told her how upset he was, and that he needed her help.  She replied that she couldnt deal with it and that she was going to shut her phone off.  He texted her three more times, the first message asking again for help, for her to send someone to care for their son.  Mark hanged himself that night in the living room of their home, while his little boy slept. 
Stephanie has written a book about it, and the People article shows her all smiley and talking about the future.  While I love to read and will happily read pretty much anything, Im have no desire to read this book.  Im sad that Marks wife chose to ignore his cry for help, turning her phone off so she could enjoy her time in Florida.  So many times, depressed and suicidal people fail to ask for help.  Mark did, and his plea was rejected.  How do you forgive yourself for that?  Im sorry for his children, who will grow up without their father, and Im sorry for Marks wife, though I feel angry at her, too.  She could have at least called someone to check on him, a family member, a friend, the police.  She chose to ignore him.  She failed him, plain and simple.  And by failing Mark, she also failed her children. 

I'm sure there's a lot that those articles don't say, and I know it's wrong for me to judge these people or anyone else. I can't help it, though. Reading these, I got angry.  Now I'm just sad.  We're supposed to look out for each other.  I wish both of these women would have remembered that.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Look What Bro Won!

My baby brother could sell ice to the Eskimos, I think.  He wins just about every sales contest on his job.  This time around, I'm guessing there were a lot of green eyes looking his way, as the Packer/Viking rivalry is a pretty hot ticket around here.  And Bro won four tickets to this sold-out game.  Way to go, Bro!!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Flannel & Fleece

Walker asked me to put the flannel sheets back on the bed.  I have some nice, thick ones, cashmere flannel.  Not crazy about the weird green color, but they sure are snuggly.  I  did the closet swap, too.  My closet isn't very big and right now, half of it is full of clothing that I listed for sale on eBay, so I have to keep the out of season stuff in a closet in the basement.  Twice a year I do a full swap, in this case taking the Capri pants and sleeveless blouses downstairs and bringing up the sweatshirts and fleece jackets.  Last winter, for some reason, I wore through most of my heavy winter socks, so I ordered more from QVC.  They have some pretty good ones for a decent price.  Walker likes them, too, but they are already sold out of his size. For some reason, I have no trouble finding mens' thermal socks in the department stores; it's just mine I usually need to order. 

Last weekend I did the final harvest in the veggie garden.  There wasn't a whole lot left besides a small bowl of ripe tomatoes, a couple peppers, and a small bucket of potatoes. I picked the green tomatoes, too, hoping I'd have enough for a pie but I'm not sure I have enough.  When I had picked everything I took down the tomato cages and pulled the plants up.  Now that I'm set for cooler weather, I'm sure the temps will go back up. Seems to be the way it goes.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

It Helps When You Know How to Read

The triglyceride thing was bothering me, so I went back through my notes and realized I had read the numbers wrong.  My first test, three months ago, revealed 225, not 275.  Apparently I can't read my own handwriting.  My doctor wanted me to lose at least 75 points, which would make the target 150, just like the nurse told me.  So I didn't do as well as I thought I did.  I made it just over half way, losing 42 points out of the 75 that my doctor was hoping for.  Ah, well, at least I know.  I can sound like I know what I'm talking about when my doctor calls next week.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Test Results

Ernie's doctor called yesterday with some baffling news.  Ernie's blood work came back almost identical to the tests done in May.  The vet says that's pretty unusual, as there isn't a lot that can be done for kidney disease and at Ernie's age, kitties tend to decline quickly.  Ernie seems to be in a holding pattern of her own.  She also is not hyper thyroid,  yet she has all the symptoms.  The vet thought there was a possibility Ernie has cancer.  They could do xrays to be sure, but the vet wasn't confident that Ernie would be cooperative enough to get clear pictures, and I don't think I would choose to give her chemo anyway, what with the failing  kidneys.  So we're just going to keep doing what we're doing and see what happens.

My doctor did not call me, which is unusual, so I called her only to find out she's on vacation this week.  One of the nurses gave me my test results.  Surprisingly, I did better than I thought I would.  My triglycerides fell to 183 from 275.  The doctor was shooting for 199, so that was good news.  But then the nurse said they usually want that number under 150.  The other thing the nurse told me was that my LDL was elevated, but I must have written the number down wrong cause I wrote "103" and according to the trusty internet, that is near optimal.    The overall panel was in the normal range, though at the higher end.  Sigh.  Not sure what happens now, as my doctor is out of the office, but it sounds like I'll be eating nasty fish oil capsules for a while yet.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Holding Pattern

These days, I've been feeling like a hamster on her wheel.  Running, always running, but going nowhere.  It's a temporary feeling, caused by circumstances beyond my control. I'm waiting for Ernie's test results, so we can figure out what to do for her.  Waiting for my test results, same reason.  Waiting for the closing on my refinance, so I can redo my budget after I see how the numbers shake out.  Waiting for the powers that be at the office to decide the next direction of my career.  Waiting for Bro to close on his house, so I can go back to my old routine. Waiting, always waiting.

I have loved having Bro and the boys here.  I am grateful that I had the space to offer, and that Bro was willing to take me up on it.  In the same situation, I would not change a thing. But Walker and I work nights, and having people in the house who are on a "normal" schedule is hard.  Especially kids, who really have no concept of what it's like to work overnights.  I guess it isn't just kids;  if I had a dollar for every time someone commented on how nice it must be to have every day free I could retire.  They seem to forget that if I'm working all night I have to sleep during the day. I'm not sitting around watching soaps and eating bon bons.  Anyway: Bro and the boys are welcome here for as long as they want to stay, but when they get ready to move on, that will be okay with me, too.  His closing was supposed to be at the end of this month but now it has been moved back a couple weeks. We're hoping his seller doesn't get frustrated and cancel the deal.  Nobody wants to move during the winter months in this climate.

The work thing....well, what I can tell you is, I work for an international company.  We're actually doing pretty well in this crappy economy, but some of our clients are experiencing a slow down.  With that in mind, my company is taking a proactive approach to lower our costs so we can keep our fees down for our customers.  Pretty standard business stuff. The problem is that one way to cut costs is to cut staff.  So far, my office is not on the list of facilities that are making cuts, but the list is not complete. It's hard to know what to do.  I like my job and I like the company and I really don't want to be the new kid at a different company in a shaky economy, but I also don't want to be sitting at my desk with a dopey grin on my face when they tell me my services are no longer required. Walker and I are discussing the situation, considering all the options.  I don't know which way I'll end up going.

Right now, I have the house to myself.  I'm just about done with my weekly cleaning.  Ernie has been fed and medicated.  The last load of laundry is running.  There's food in the fridge. All of that means that when I finish cleaning (I just have the dusting left) the rest of this day is mine. I'm reading a really good book, and I have a feeling I'll be spending the afternoon in Walker's comfy chair, kitty in my lap and book in my hand. 

Friday, October 14, 2011

Flying By

Wow, can't believe it's Friday already - wahoo!  I had something scheduled every single day before work this week, and I guess I was expecting it to be overwhelming by now.  But I slept through my appointments on Tuesday and the closing for my mortgage refinance, which was scheduled for Thursday, was postponed, so it hasn't been such a crazy week after all.  Later today I have another doctors' appointment, where I'm sure I will flunk my blood test, and I expect to hear from Ernie's doctor about her blood work as well. I have a feeling we'll both be on some new meds come Monday.

We had a full day of rain on Wednesday, and most of our pretty orange leaves are now soggy brown leaves in sticky piles on the ground.  There are lots of green trees yet, so I think we'll have another round of color, but right now we have green and bare and that's about it.  The older I get, the more I dread winter at this time of year.  It doesn't help that the guy we hired last spring still has not come to install the new bathroom fan.  We had to put him off after the hail storm until our insurance guy could come inspect the roof, then when we were ready to go the fan dude had filled his schedule.  If we don't get it done soon it won't get done until next year. Every time Walker calls him he says he'll be out in two weeks.  The two weeks go by, Walker calls again, and hears the same thing - two more weeks.  I'd hire someone else but you would not believe how hard it is to find someone reputable who is willing to do such a small job.  This guy is highly recommended but he won't go on the roof once it starts getting cold out.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

My Ernie, Again

Ernie has a doctor's appointment today.  Hopefully we won't sleep through that one, too.  We've been giving Ernie fluid injections under her skin since July, but found out that at least since last week she's been hiding behind the kitchen table and pushing that fluid back out.  We inject it between her shoulder blades.  Apparently, she figured out a way to arch her back to cause the fluid to shoot back out through the needle puncture.  I found the first puddle last Tuesday, but we thought it was because someone over watered a house plant in the same area.  Then I found puddles the next day, and the day after that, and I developed the theory that Ernie was somehow causing it.  The fluid is clear with no noticeable scent so I was pretty sure it was her injections, and sure enough:  I followed her after the injection on Sunday and caught her in the act. The vet said that Ernie's kidneys are getting weak and without the twice daily fluid she will live for maybe a month. They are going to check some things and see what, if anything, can be done to help her.  It's not looking very promising but I'm trying to be optimistic.  All I know is, if they tell me Ernie is suffering, I will let her go.

Ernie's appointment went better than I expected, if you can consider her devil cat attitude - biting, hissing, growling, peeing on the vet - a good sign,  I do, as when she's quiet at the vet it means she is very sick.  The vet ran some blood tests and will have results on Friday.  She was very nice but seemed skeptical about Ernie deliberately purging her fluid.  I know I must sound crazy but I watched her do it.  She paced around til she found her spot and assumed a position with her back arched that she does not normally get into. I'm tempted to try to video it, to show the vet.

The theory is that because Ernie has lost weight, she does not have the fatty tissue required to absorb the injected fluid.  It's likely that she has an overactive thyroid gland, which is treatable and is causing her to lose weight even thought she eats like a hormonal teenager.  So if that is the case, she could get better, somewhat.  She's still going to be 22 years old with dodgy kidneys and, apparently, some arthritis and some continuing issues with mild constipation. Her fighting today tells me that she is not ready to say good-bye just yet.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Ah, Nuts!

I was supposed to have my one-year mammogram this morning, followed by an appointment with the breast care specialist.  I say "supposed to" because I missed it.  For the first time ever, I slept through my alarm and woke up twenty minutes after I would have been getting done.

They were really nice when I called to reschedule.  I never do this, never miss appointments.  I never show up late.  I feel terrible.  The thing is, today was the best possible situation for this appointment and I screwed up.  On a normal night, I get home from work at 3am.  To get up for an 8:30 appointment is rough.  But last week I was on vacation on Thursday and Friday.  Then I had the weekend off, and Monday was a holiday, so I went in to work early and was home before midnight. I was almost on a "normal" schedule.  That's about as good as it gets for an early appointment in my world.  My next shot at this is at the end of the month, and I'll need to take vacation time the night before so I can get home earlier.  Sigh. 

I think the reason that I overslept was because I had a hard time falling asleep.  My boss, who lives in South Dakota, showed up unexpectedly last night.  This was especially alarming because she is nine months pregnant and would not travel without a good reason.  She came to deliver some news, which I am not allowed to share.  All I can say is that I don't consider it to be good news, but some might not agree with me.  Time will tell.  I will be working on my resume, just in case.  This kind of drama I really don't need right now.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Mall of America, Part 2

Friday morning we had breakfast at the hotel, let Diva splash around in the pool, and were ready and waiting when the Mall opened at 10a.m.  We were planning to meet my Aunt Nade, my late daddy's sister, at the Mall at some point during the day, so I told Walker and Diva if they wanted to go on some rides they should do that right away.  I didn't know what time Nade would be joining us but I didn't think she'd enjoy hanging out in Nickelodeon Universe while Walker and Diva went on nausea inducing amusement park rides.  I didn't have to tell them twice ~ they took off for the park like their butts were on fire and spent the next hour happily making themselves dizzy on rides like the Brain Surge, which spun them upside down while also spinning them in a circle, the Log Chute, which floated them around a serene log camp scene before dropping them, in their log boat, forty feet down into a "splash pond", the Splat-O-Sphere, which lifts them 60 feet into the air on a dangling cage before dropping them back down, and all three of the Mall of America roller coasters.

Before the big plunge on the Log Chute
This thing spins upside down and backwards while it revolved around a center pole.  Yikes!
One of the reasons I like to do this trip on Diva's school break is that the Minneapolis schools are always in session.  In other words, she was the only kid her age at the park that morning.  There were lots of little kids on the little kid rides, but Walker and Diva were able to avoid waiting in line the whole time they played at the amusement park.

After the rides, Diva, who apparently has a cast iron stomach, decided she was hungry.  So off we went to the food court for lunch.  My mom had a banana split - just a banana split - declaring it was a fine lunch, with her fruit and dairy requirements met.  Um, okay, Mom, LOL.  She sure didn't use that reasoning when I was growing up.  Diva was disappointed to see that the kid spa was gone, but we found a nail salon that had an immediate opening and she treated herself to her very first manicure.  I love the little daisies.

Aunt Nade showed up about that time, so we zipped over to her parking area to pick her up.  I just love Nade, and we don't get to see her often enough.  She's been having mobility issues, and my mom has mobility issues, so they were content to sit together, chatting away, at various locations around the Mall while Diva, Walker, and I shopped for shoes, hunted down bargains on cold weather clothes, chose gifts for the family at home, and played with the cosmetics at Sephora.

Lego sculpture at Lego Land

Diva told me that she wasn't allowed to go on one of the attractions in the amusement park because she was wearing a skort (like a skirt with shorts built in).  The attraction required her to be strapped into a harness and she had to have her legs covered.  So we found her some cute leggings at Old Navy, had her change in the store, and went back to Nickelodeon Universe where Walker and Diva climbed an obstacle course designed, I'm sure, to cause old aunties to have nervous breakdowns when they watch.  This kid climbed 56 feet into the air on tightropes, floating bridges, and I honestly don't know what else but everything swayed and there were no railings.  She was attached to a rope that was hooked to her harness but I can't imagine doing anything like that, let alone thinking it was fun.  At the top she had to walk out onto a plank and ring a bell, then she had to make her way back down through the same kinds of obstacles she conquered going up.

See my kid?  She's at the top of the center pole.  Really!

See? And yes, I pretty much held my breath until she got down, LOL.
My mom and Aunt Nade watched the climb with me, but I doubt they were as nervous as I was because my mom, God bless her, fell asleep. Of course I had to take a photo of that, too, but I think I'd be grounded for life if I posted it here.  So after Diva took twelve years off my life with her mega climb, we headed to Build-A-Bear where we - you guessed it! - built a couple teddy bears.  Well, actually, a bear and a kitty.

The first time I saw a Build-A-Bear, the un-stuffed teddies were hanging from a clothes line across the store, pinned up by their ears.  I remember being horrified at the sight of all the disemboweled bears.  I could not believe anyone would bring a child there. These days, they have shelves with samples of the bears all stuffed up; the un-stuffed ones are folded into a bin.  Much better.  Anyway: the bears were buy one, get one free, so Diva chose her bear and I picked out an orange kitty for myself.  We stuffed them, put in a little red fabric heart, and had them stitched up.  Diva gave them each a brushing and a bath (with an air hose) and it was off to the dressing room.  Diva's bear ended up with a pair of Chinese pajamas, and my kitty left the store decked out in a denim mini skirt and sparkly tee shirt.

Dinner was next on the agenda, so we wandered upstairs to a beach grill called Kokomo.  The food was great, the atmosphere was festive, and it was quiet enough that we could all have a nice visit. We had a really nice time.

That was pretty much it.  We walked Nade back to her car after dinner, then Walker and Diva went on a couple more rides.  Diva, who has been saving for this trip since July, still had more than half her money, so we stopped back at Sephora where she purchased some nail polish in a kitty shaped bottle.  We were pretty much wiped out when we got back to the hotel, but Diva and I went to the pool anyway.  I thought a little soak in one of the hot tubs would sooth my tired legs.  Unfortunately, there was a problem with the chemicals in the tub I chose.  Here's what gets me:  half a dozen adults watched me walk over to the hot tub, dip a toe in, then climb down the stairs and sink into the water.  A minute later, when my throat started burning and this weird chemical smell hit my nose I jumped out and that was when they told me that there had been a "do not use" sign on that hot tub.  I don't know what happened to the sign but honestly?  What did they hope to accomplish by waiting until after I got in to tell me?  One guy said he'd gotten in, too, before he was told.  Guess he was recycling the bad karma.  Nice. I could still smell that chemical smell on my skin after I showered.  If I suddenly sprout a third eye guess I know why.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

There's a Place for Fun in Your Life......

Mall of America!

We're back, LOL.

We picked Diva up at school on Thursday, hit the road, and made excellent time to Minneapolis.  The scenery was absolutely stunning.  Our drive takes us through a bit of the Mississippi River Valley, with the river on one side and tall bluffs on the other.  The bluffs are covered in trees, all decked out in fall colors, and the river takes on a deep teal color this time of year.  Cover all that with a turquoise sky.  I would have LOVED to stop for a few photo ops, but there is nowhere to pull over, legally, along that part of the road.  It is very twisty and rolls up and down so it's really not safe to stop, even for a minute.  You just can't see what's coming.  The shoulder is narrow, too.  I tried to talk Walker into giving it a go out the car window but he doesn't know how to work my camera.  It looks a lot more intimidating than it is.  Anyway:  the drive was beautiful, and we arrived at the Mall before dark.

We had our planned dinner at Johnny Rocket's, then wandered around a bit until we arrived at the mini golf course on the third floor.  Walker and Diva played a round while my mom rested in a seating area that had tables and chairs set up.  I wandered a bit more, mentally planning our list of "must- see's".  On my way back to my mom, I found a little hidey hole that overlooked part of the mini golf course and I waited, paparazzi style, for Walker and Diva to arrive.  When they came around the corner I was ready with the camera set to "continuous shoot".  They were startled and stood there for a minute til they realized it was me, then Diva started hamming for the camera.

Walker's paparazzi shot
Diva didn't quite know what to do
She figured it out, though!
 We had rooms across the street from the Mall at Country Inn and Suites.  I have to say, I love this place.  Everyone who works there is friendly and helpful.  The beds are comfy, and I appreciate having a suite when we take Diva out of town.  It's nice to be able to put her to bed, shut the door, and talk or watch TV in another room.  We have a mini fridge and a microwave, and they have coffee and cookies in the lobby all the time. Country Inn has hot breakfast included in the stay, too, plus at this location there's a 24 hour IHOP attached to the hotel.  After we checked in we went swimming, then we got dressed again and went to IHOP for ice cream.  Well, the adults got dressed.  We let Diva go in her pj's. Hey, we were on vacation!

Thursday, October 6, 2011


Holy crow, this week has been crazy! We've got our Mall of America trip this weekend, and I'm trying to pack for me and Walker and Diva, make hotel arrangements, and teach Bro how to give Ernie her meds and her subcutaneous fluid. We're meeting my aunt at the mall and her phone is on the fritz, so we had to come up with a plan B to get a hold of her when we get to Minneapolis. Ernie did not care for Bro taking care of her, even though his lap is her first choice for a nice nap. So of course I started to feel guilty about leaving her, then I reminded myself that it is less than 48 hours and she will be just fine.

I spent the first half of the day starting a task, getting distracted, moving on to another task, realizing that I never finished the first task, going back to it only to get distracted again.  I felt like my attention was scattered in a hundred different directions.  I was a bit apprehensive about going into the office when I had such poor focus but of course I had to, so  I did, and I think I was fine. Guess I'll find out if I missed anything when I go back to work on Monday.

There is some stunning fall color along the highway that I drive to work, and I've been meaning to get out there with my camera but the days keep getting away from me. Yesterday I noticed that some of the trees are shedding, so today on my ride in I stuck my camera out the window and snapped a couple shots as I drove by. The photos came out very blurry but I just love the colors and textures in the shots so I'll share them anyway.

Next week will be crazier than this week.  After we get back from our trip Diva has a volleyball game, the boys will be here for their visitation with their dad, and I have to help my mom pack up the rummage sale she's having in her garage.  Next week I have three doctor's appointments and, hopefully, the closing for the refinance on my mortgage.  We went ahead and scheduled that, even though the lender has not yet received the report from my appraisal. We're thinking positively that they'll be ready in a week.  I also have a lab appointment to check the progress of my triglyceride levels.  I have a feeling I'm going to fail that one.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Road Trip! The Great River Road

There's a local commercial that runs for a place called Horsfall Variety Store in Lansing, Iowa.  The tag line is, "We have everything you need, and lots of things you don't."  I love that.  So after seeing this commercial about six hundred and twelve times, I looked at Walker and said, "One of these days we'll have to check that place out."

You would think by now I'd learn that if I say something out loud, I'm pretty much committing to doing it.  Iowa isn't all that far - took us about an hour to get there - but really?  We processed for the end of the quarter at work on Friday night and it was a late one.  I would have liked to get a little more sleep.

Saturday morning was picture perfect.  The route down to Iowa follows the Great River Road, which is a pretty drive on any given day. This time of year, with the fall color starting to come down, it was downright gorgeous. We stopped a couple times, at a scenic over look, and at a lock and dam.  I remember when we were kids there were viewing spots at the lock and dams, where you could watch the boats pass through and see the water levels rise and fall.  I don't think they let you do that anymore, because even though there was a visitor center and guest parking, the area around the water was fenced off and marked as inaccessible.

Once in Lansing, we found the Horsfall stores - both of them - and poked around a bit.  I felt a little like I'd stumbled into an episode of Hoarders, but in a good way. Sort of.  They really do have everything, but the shelves are very close together and the windows have boxes piled in front of them, so the store felt rather dark. We found a toy section and picked up some new jigsaw puzzles.  Got a great deal on them, too. 

 We weren't in a hurry to head home so we wandered around downtown Lansing for a bit.  We really had to watch ourselves - the curbs were so high if we weren't paying attention one of us probably would have gone over and snapped a leg. Check out Walker with his knee-high curb.

There were all kinds of cool old buildings, and a couple "small town America" signs.  I didn't get a chance to snap one of the "ice cream and bait" shop, as it was along the highway and I was driving, but we did get a chuckle out of the "auto parts and tanning" shop.  Someone told us you can use the tanning bed while your car is services.  So every 3,000 miles you get a little color.

We also passed this cool stone school, which is currently being restored. They hope to put a museum inside at some point, and maybe even hold classes there again some day. We made a quick stop for a couple lottery tickets before we headed home.  That was Walker's idea.  He says that you have better odds when you play out of state.  Not sure about that theory, but I can spend a couple bucks to test it out. I'll let y'all know if we win ~

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Third Quarter Check In

Back at the beginning of the year I set some goals for myself.  If you want to read that post, you can click here,  but in a nutshell they were:  improve my health, improve my finances, and work on my personal relationships. I've been working at all three this year, and things really turned around for me this quarter.

In a post I wrote back in August, I detailed the issues I was having with my budget:  I had big medical bills to pay, so I was working too many hours at two jobs, putting most everything else on hold.  That just was not working.  So I made the somewhat scary decision to cash out a big chunk of my emergency fund and finally paid off those bills. I am so, so glad I did.

I still have my part time, work from home job.  I have cut way back on my hours, though, and I made a promise to Walker that I would take off at least one full day, every week, from both jobs.  Since we no longer "need" the extra money for bills, it's being saved toward special things, like our upcoming trip to the Mall of America.  I also started a new budget envelope labeled "date night", specifically for Walker and me to use when we go out.  Unfortunately, Walker is on his winter hours at work and we have not had a night off together in weeks.  We've been getting creative: one morning he set his alarm for 3am and watched a movie with me when I got home from work.  A couple days later, I stayed up past my bedtime so we could have breakfast together before he headed out.  It isn't ideal but it will do.

I was hoping to report that I am now consumer debt free, but then I bought a new (used) car.  I was also hoping to post that I had refinanced my mortgage, losing two full interest points, but that is still a work in progress.  Refinancing has been very popular around here, and the lenders' schedules are backed up.  I've fulfilled all the requirements and now am just waiting for the results of the appraisal before I can close.  The refi will lower my mortgage payment by $250 but I'm going to continue to pay the higher payment, so I can get the house paid off faster. The sooner we lose the mortgage, the sooner we retire.  With that in mind, I have increased my 401k withholding at the office, I started payroll deductions into my Roth IRA, and, while I was at it, I started a Sharebuilder account for Diva. Sharebuilder gave us a $50 bonus for the new account so it was a great time to sign up.

I still have to prepare my vital documents using my Suze Orman document kit, but I'm confident I can get that done yet this year.  When I finish those, I think I'll be able to call my financial goal complete.  The relationships goal is, and always will be, a work in progress.  I think any relationship worth having takes some level of continuing effort.  You're never really "done".  But I will say that I feel like I've been successful there, too. Walker and I make a point of spending time together, just the two of us.  I make sure to spend time with Diva every week, too.  I've reconnected with some old friends that I'd lost touch with. I get to have quality time with Cubby and Squeak, too.

Which brings me to the "health" goal.  All I can say there is, I will never stop trying to improve my health, to lose the extra weight, to increase my exercise.  I've made improvements, but I have a long way to go, yet, too.  With the other two goals right on track I am free to focus on myself for a while, and that's exactly what I intend to do.  Hopefully, by the time I post the next quarterly check-in, I'll have some great results to report.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

One Pink Nail for Breast Cancer Awareness

I copied this from a beauty forum that I like to visit.  The lovely ladies on the forum are planning a new look for their manicures during the month of October.  While I don't usually paint my nails, I think I'll join them for the next couple weeks.  Read on:

Hope many of you reading this will join us with ONE PINK NAIL for the month of OCTOBER 2011

Wear your chosen polish color and make your left ring finger the ONE PINK NAIL

Why the left ring finger?  It's said to have the vein connected to our heart (as in the reason behind the "traditional" wedding finger ring).

Why one pink nail?
It will catch more attention than a full pink manicure and will give each person the opportunity to answer those that ask "Why ONE PINK NAIL?" with the following:   "It's to remind us during October, the month of breast cancer awareness, to do our monthly self exam and those who are over 40 to get their mammogram."

That one pink nail may just save a life!