Sunday, September 30, 2012

awesome ms nature

Jack and I drove up one of the canyons today.  Didn't think to take the camera.

The orangey-peachish leaves were amazing.  I didn't think there could be anything more beautiful.

Then we saw stands of dark green pines with bright yellow quakies interspersed.  Dazzling.

It may be a tie.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

yes, life has been a little heavy around here lately

But in an effort to lighten it up, just know that if my three cats were musical instruments, Oscar would be an alto sax, Millie would be a piccolo, and Weezer would be a cello.

As you can see, I've given it a bit of thought.

So there's that.


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

a kinda long story

Jack was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes several years ago. 

He also was diagnosed with GERD--gastric reflux--that had gone on for so long that he was also diagnosed with Barrett's Syndrome, which is when your stomach acid has caused your stomach cells to migrate into your esophagus, putting you at risk of cancer in your throat.

He also was diagnosed with sleep apnea, which increases your risk of stroke and significantly shortens your life span.

And he has arthritis in several joints and in his back.

The diabetes has caused all kinds of other health issues--neuropathy in his feet and fingers, damage to his eyes that affects his vision.

He's tried all sorts of diets, exercise programs, medications--all in an effort to slow the damage caused by the diabetes and other diseases.

But none of them worked for long.

So, two weeks ago, he underwent gastric bypass surgery.

The decision to have surgery didn't come easy.  He thought about it several years ago, shortly after Stu had his colon removed, but I couldn't even discuss it then.  After watching Stu's recovery, I couldn't understand why someone would volunteer to have his belly cut into.

So Jack waited.

Late last year, he started another diet.  And he lost some weight--10 pounds.  And then he said he was seriously ready to talk to a surgeon. 

So we talked to three different surgeons and we chose the one we felt best about.

And our insurance said it would pay for the surgery except for our portion--after he jumped through all kinds of hoops, including a requirement that he lose five percent of his weight while on a six-month medically supervised diet.

So he went to a doctor who monitored his weight loss every month for six months.

And he lost 45 pounds--far more than five percent.

And then he had the surgery.  And he's lost another 20 pounds in the past two weeks.  Lots of protein shakes in the past month.  Then clear liquids for a few days after the surgery and then full liquids--cream soups and puddings and jellos.

And now soft foods--eggs, refried beans, applesauce. In another week, he'll be ready to eat regular food, minus breads, rice, mashed potatoes. Now his meals will be 4-6 ounces, three times a day, protein then complex carbs. 

There was a nasty spell dealing with an infection for several days, and his belly looks kind of like he was shot by a machine gun because the surgery was done using a scope, but he now seems to be healing up.  His blood sugar is almost normal and he's stopped nearly all of the medications he was taking pre-surgery.  The surgery won't reverse the damage done by the diabetes, but for some reason, it seems to normalize blood sugar levels, even before the weight loss begins.

It also stops the gastric reflux because it separate the acid-producing part of the stomach from the esophagus.

Losing weight is the best option for eliminating sleep apnea.  And obviously less weight means less pressure on joints and backs and less pain from arthritis.

Jack told me that when he told people he was having this surgery, the response was some form of either "Why would you do something so drastic?" or "Why are you choosing the easy way out instead of just eating less and exercising?" 

Obviously, this wasn't the easy way out.  And yes, it is drastic, but statistics show that after 14 years, 51% of people who have the surgery will still be at their goal weight.  One to two percent of people who try any other method of maintaining weight loss (diets, pills, exercise) will still be at their goal weight after 14 years.  Jack watched his father slowly die from diabetes-related diseases, losing his vision, ability to walk, drive, read, over a period of 15 years.  The only thing his dad could enjoy at the end of his life was food.  Jack decided he'd give up food in massive quantities in order to try to keep his vision, ability to walk, drive, ride, and enjoy his grandkids for as long as he could.

I've done my best to not cook or create aromas that would make it harder for him, and it's been a couple of weeks of ups and downs.  But he's doing well and moving forward. 

And he was pretty funny on those post-surgery drugs...

Friday, September 21, 2012

shopping for a boy

A couple of weeks ago, one of my nieces gave birth to a beautiful little baby girl. 

Obviously I needed to buy some cute little baby girl things for her and the closest children's clothing store I found was The Children's Store.

Where I purchased approximately $50 of little dresses with tights and little jeggins and t-shirts.

The clerk gave me my receipt with a coupon for $20 off of my next purchase of $40.

Whoa.  Not only do they have adorable clothes, but a sale with the promise of a future deal.

Awesome, right?

I have a new grandbaby boy due to arrive in five weeks so obviously I needed to go back to The Children's Store today to pick up a bunch of blue stuff.

Now remember, I've bought a lot of boy stuff in my life.  Three boys.  Only one girl.  Lots of blue stuff.  Lots of striped t-shirts and jeans and shorts.  I thought I was pretty good at picking out good boy stuff.

Today, I was baffled by the boys' section of the store.  I started to think I'd forgotten how to pick out good boy stuff. 

Everybody says it's hard to find good boy stuff.  It's true.  It was hard.  Boy stuff doesn't seem cute when you've been buying girl stuff for six years. 

When I got home and showed the stuff I bought to Jack, we agreed I'd bought good stuff and even cute stuff.  Cute boy stuff, but still, cute. 

Wee, baby boy cute.

She says she might have him in just a couple of weeks.  I can't hardly wait to start this new adventure.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

just remember this

Last night I dreamed that Ellie and I were sitting together and she had one of those plastic baby doll bottles that looks like it's full of milk until you tip it upside down and the milk disappears.  She smiled at me, put the bottle in her mouth and then swallowed it.

I have no idea what this dream was about, but I'm just thinking it's important to remind kids to not put stuff in their mouths.

Friday, September 14, 2012


Sometimes there are really sucky things going on.

But sometimes there are also pretty great things.

For example:

A pedicure that ended with smooth feet and a lovely fall-leaf bronzy-orange color on the toenails.

Jr got the lawn mower to start AND mowed the lawn.

The brown air in the local sky seems to have blown away a bit.

The crazy neighbor's sweet little green grapes are ripening like crazy on my side of the fence.

So there's all that.  And probably more if I keep looking up.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

has it really only been a week?

I walked into the front of a minivan last night.  She stopped just in time.  I was focused on the truck and motorcycle to the right of me as I walked from my car to the entrance of Smith's and must have forgotten to look to the left.  The poor minivan driver was beside herself.  Apparently the sun was in her eyes and she saw me just in time to slam on her brakes as I put my left hand out to stop her from hitting me.

Obviously I have far too much on my mind.

There's my dad.

And my mom.

And Jr's car that was broken.

And work.

And other stuff.

I need to take a breather.  And pay attention.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

did not see this coming

My dad has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.

I want to doubt this diagnosis.  After all, mom made an appointment for him to see the doctor to have him checked, but when dad refused to go, mom went herself and talked to the doctor.  She'd made a two-page list detailing changes in his behavior over the past few months, and after listening closely, the doctor said he agreed that these were classical symptoms of Alzheimer's.   He then prescribed some medication that may slow the progression of the disease.

Mom hopes to get him in for an in-person check sometime soon.

After researching it on the internet, noting all of the changes in his behavior over the past two years and particularly the past month, I cannot believe I didn't see this coming.  I've chalked it all up to him getting older, mom driving him crazy.  But now, it all seems so obvious.

I woke up yesterday morning certain it was raining outside.  It wasn't outside, it was all in my head.  And my heart.  I feel so deeply sad to realize that even though his body will still be here for a time, I will be slowly losing my dad as the person he has always been gradually fades away.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

isn't she lovely?

and her too

Sunday, September 2, 2012

so much fun

Audrey and Ellie and Jr and his friend, Danielle, and I left at 6:30 on Friday night and drove for 12 hours, to California.  We all took turns staying awake and driving/riding.  And we only got lost once during the very last 20 minutes or so.  Thank heavens for Danielle's awesome phone with that woman voice that gives directions.  I need one of those women in my phone.  

A few hours later, we headed to the beach with the surprised Californians.  This picture-heavy post is mostly for Audrey's and Ellie's parents:

 Ellie spent most of the time digging in the sand and avoiding eye contact with the camera.  She is a doing amazingly well on this trip, especially considering she's only three and off on a major adventure sans parents.

 Jessie made sure they were all sunscreened and nobody, except Jessie, showed any sign of sunburn...

 Jr and Danielle had a blast.  So much fun, in fact, that they're back there today.  Hopefully collecting more of the sand dollars and seashells the girls carefully collected yesterday that were left behind.

 I seriously thought those were Jr's feet.  He's certain they're his hands.  Feet is funnier.

 This is how Audrey spent most of the time at the beach.  Running.  Here.  There.  Everywhere.

 This is the first time she's ever been in the ocean.  It was cold.  She was brave.  She loved it.

 Looking so much like her mom in this one...

 She was astounded when her feet became buried in the sand and waves.  But she loved it.
 This face may capture best the emotion of kids, sand, and ocean.
 This face.  Aaahhh.  This face.

 She wanted a donut.  Showed me her hands were clean enough.  Obviously.

 There was a heap of bird chasing.  Serious attempts to pet the birds.  No success.

 This one is growing up so fast. 

 Can still pull a pretty funny face.

 This one did not want her sleeves or leggins to get wet.  Tiptoed to the edge of the water.
 Made a special birthday cake for her mom.  She's very interested in making sure mom has a good birthday.

All in all, it was a great day.  Like every day at the beach, I think.  Especially great with these people.  And then we came home, ate, the girls all had a bath in the big tub upstairs, lotion all around, and bed.  Which was very much welcome.