Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A La Playa

For BH's birthday, I orchestrated a trip down to the coast--for just the two of us. It was going to be a surprise, but then when all of the thyroid b.s. came up, I felt like I needed to tell him because, there was a time when I wasn't sure we'd be able to go.

It had been at least 20 years since I'd been down to Port Aransas, and longer than that for BH. As I've mentioned before, he's an avid birder, and Port A is known as a great birding destination, especially in the fall/spring when migratory species are passing through. And me? I just like what the ocean air does to my hair. So I knew it was going to be a win-win as far as we were concerned.

We took off on Thursday morning, and 200 miles and 1/2 tank of gas later, we were there. We stayed at a nice studio apartment in a big ol' beach house that was not beachfront but only required a short walk to stick one's toes in the surf.

We went and watched birds.

We drank fruity drinks.
We ate insanely unhealthy and inexpensive breakfasts.
We watched more birds.
Then, the next day, we went to the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge where we saw a pair of whooping cranes and some alligators. And we saw hardcore birders, which are kind of a species unto themselves, what with their spotting scopes and "birding talk" and all.
We saw the moon rise over the ocean.
The weather was excellent and the crowds were thin. All in all, it was pretty perfect.

On the way back to Austin on Sunday, we came back via Goliad and stopped at Goliad State Park to check out the mission and the campgrounds. Very pretty.

And the whole way there and back, we saw INSANE amounts of gorgeous wildflowers. Hwy 123 between San Marcos and Seguin was absolutely breathtaking.
What a GREAT way to spend the weekend.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Payback's a bitch.

Remember a few posts ago when I introduced you to the Kactus Kitteh Kollection (tm) that my mother had given to BH and I? Well, BH and I were down at the coast this past weekend (more on that in my next post), and I wanted to get her something to thank her for helping make this kid-free trip possible. As luck would have it, BH and I happened upon this craft fair in Rockport: You know the kind...it's in a small park area, lots of booths of people who are selling their "art" that they make on the weekends. And knives. Lots and lots of knives for sale too.

Well, we ran across a booth manned by this 6' 4", 300lb. Winter Texan who was selling his entire invetory of hand made planters in preparation of heading back to Minnesota. And what was so special about these hand made planters? They were sort of reminicent of "Time Out" dolls--those creepy headless dolls you might see leaning up against a corner at my ex-Mother in law's some old lady's house. You know what I'm talking about, right? They look like this:
"Time Out Kid"--I'm in wots and wots of twouble!

Anyhoo, our friend the Minnesotan had taken this concept and tweaked it a bit in order to make dozens and dozens of these:
Half-body Child Planter

Yep. It's as pitiful looking as it appears in this photo. Grody little kid shoes and sad looking little kid short (and skirts), that cover up the "legs" that form the base of this planter. Of course, it was the PERFECT gift for my mother, so we made the Minnesotan's day and purchased this one, which I'm pretty sure, was the fugliest one of the lot.

When we got back to Austin, I high-tailed it to Lowe's to purchase the perfect plant, and then to Michael's for the rest of the decor and, VOILA!

Her name is Kiki, and she's the LIFE of the party!

Trying to safely transport Kiki to my mom proved to be a serious challenge. She kept tumping* over, losing rocks and dirt and injuring me. Little bitch. But she's now been transfered into my mom's possession, and I'm hopeful she'll live a long, happy life in Horseshoe Bay with Mom.

*Tump means to tip over/dump over. It's a real word, even if you think it's not.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Further proof that a 12 year old boy lives in my head where my brain should be:

One of my husband's job duties is to, when requested by land owners, review aerial photos of their properties as part of the assesment required to create an environmentally responsible wildlife management plan (which, if implemented, can provide them with nice property tax breaks).

So tonight he's working on his computer, viewing an aerial photo of a big ol' ranch in Blanco County he's working with, when this land formation just sort of visually "rises" out of its surroundings, and we just laughed and laughed and laughed:
The "Johnson Ranch" is what he named this screen shot, btw. The actual ranch name has been changed to protect the innocent if, in fact, the ARE innocent.

Glad to know I'm in good juvenile company.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Mixed Emotions

We've begun some house projects that are intended to prepare our little casa for sale. Now, granted, we're not currently in a spot (financially) to put it on the market, but hopefully this time next year (or maybe sooner), we will be.

Last month, I bought a new dishwasher sort of on a whim. I'd gone to Lowe's to look for paint colors (more on that in a minute), and ended walking out with two paint sample cans and the paperwork for a new dishwasher I'd purchased. Normally, when it comes to things like appliances, I like to do my research and prepare mentally and financially for the purchase. That's how I did with my oven (purchased last year). But this time? Nope. Total impulse purchase. There was nothing wrong with our old dishwasher other than the fact that it was SO FLIPPIN' LOUD that you couldn't hear yourself think or have a normal-volume conversation when it was running. So I got one of the super SUPER quiet ones that just happens to be from the same brand/series as my newish oven--these appliances now actually match and look quite nice. And even though it was impulsive, I haven't regretted the purchase.

This month--today, in fact--we're getting all three bedrooms and our laundry room painted the same (boring) shade of (boring) off white. Prior to doing this, the bedrooms were light yellow, pale blue and dark red, and the laundry room what white (but banged up and dingy). Now they're all off white. And boring. But hey, we've still got the slate blue accent wall in the master bath, the dark eggplant walls in the dining room and the red walls in the kitchen. But my prediction is that the neutralization of everything else is only going to make those rooms seem pretty obnoxious. We'll have to wait and see.

Next up (probably next month or May): carpet replacement. I SHOULD'VE replaced the carpet before I moved in, but I just didn't have the cash. So now after living on this carpet that was waaaaaaaay past its prime in 2005, you can probably imagine how much it needs to be replaced.

I'm also going to be researching window replacement, making sure the HVAC and hot water heater are checked out and doing fine, looking into replacing the black/white "diner" type tile that I've grown to HATE in the kitchen, and the crappy, damaged laminate flooring in the dining room. Again, if I'm going to do this, I want to be able to live with it and enjoy the results for a while before we move, so I'd rather just bite the bullet and do it all sooner rather than later.

BH is also going to be working on some projects outside the house as well, including trying to fix a sidewalk drainage problem that rears its soggy head every time we have even a little bit of rain. He's also done a ton of work on the front and back yards since he's moved in that have made both of them look way better than they would've without his touch.

It's looking like 2010 is going to be a very "domestic" year for us.

Where the "mixed emotions" come in is in the fact that I am still SO proud to have been able to buy this house ON MY OWN. I still remember how scared I was, but at the same time, how ready. And if it were still just me and The Geej by our lonesome, we'd probably stay here indefinitely. But I bought this house for two full time residents, and now there are three of us--one of whom works out of the house about 80% of the time--and two every-other-weekend-and-sometimes-more kid residents, so this house just doesn't fit our family any more. Also, when BH uprooted and moved here from Colorado, he moved into an already furnished and decorated dwelling. I'm sure he's never felt like this place is truly "his", and that bothers me. Plus, having a new place that suits our family's needs and is truly OURS is really important to me. Therefore, it's made very frustrated with this place--and for that, I feel kind of guilty and materialistic.

We occasionally go to open houses on the weekends, just to see what's out there, and I get so envious of what we don't have in our current situation (ex: a dedicated study/office) that it kind of bums me out. But we NEED to go see what's out there so we can get familiar with the neighborhoods and home styles that we like--and those we don't. We've got very different tastes and ideas, so getting in tune is going to be an important (and challenging) part of this whole endeavor.

So yeah...expect to see more exciting home-related posts from me in the future. Some may even have pictures! And definitely all of them will be filled with mixed emotions.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

La Turista is a Bad Ass.

Don't believe me? Then watch this:


The day before my surgery.

I'm not vain about many things, but I've always liked my neck/shoulders area. My ENT even complimented me prior to my surgery saying, "You've got the neck of a 30 year old. I can't find any good wrinkles to cut in to you." A strange compliment, but a compliment nonetheless. So I can't say I was thrilled about the idea of getting one of the only areas of my body I consider fairly nice looking all scarred up.

Two days after the surgery.

Not too bad. Pretty bruised, swollen and very tender, but not horrific. Now my arm? THAT looked pretty awful.
The Arm of Doom
That's where the IV was. I bruise pretty easily, so I guess I shouldn't have been surprised by this sucker, however the strange thing about it is that it didn't appear until AFTER they removed the IV. Weird.

The night before getting my stitches out.
At this point I'd entered the lovely Yellow Bruising Stage of Healing and was itching like a mofo. I was SO ready for the stitches to come out. And now?

Twelve days post op. Five days post-stitches.
It's still swollen and tender, but I gotta say, he did a nice job. (The glistening you see is my scar healing gel stuff I slather on there a couple of times a day.)

So there you have it, you sick, morbid people.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Heavy rotation.

Here's what I'm listening to a LOT right now. Some of it's brand spankin' new; some of it is from years ago. All of it comes with the prestigious Pine Curtain Refugee Seal of Approval. Enjoy!!

Gorillaz -- Plastic Beach
Broken Bells -- Broken Bells
Elbow -- Leaders of the Free World
Mariachi El Bronx -- Mariachi El Bronx
Midlake -- The Courage of Others
Sade -- Soldier of Love
Spoon -- Transference
Massive Attack -- Heligoland
Various Artists -- Mountain Journey: Stars of Old Time Music
Beach House -- Teen Dream
Handsome Boy Modeling School -- So...How's Your Girl; White People; The Best of Bolerisimo
J.J. Cale -- The Very Best Of
Devendra Banhart -- Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon
Real Estate -- Real Estate

Sunday, March 14, 2010

My mother KILLS me.

It's spring break week here in Austin. For us, that means that The Geej is getting to spend some quality one-on-one time with my mother, Dah. Today BH, The Geej and I drove out took advantage of the picture-perfect weather, and drove all the way out to Dah's to leave The Geej for her week of merriment and mischief.

Prior to going out there, I'd spoken to Dah on the phone, and she'd told me that she had gotten us "some really cool plants". Background: Yesterday Dah volunteered to work at the Marble Falls "Market Days" event. It's basically one of those things that towns do where they shut down Main Street and vendors put up booths to sell their wares. A lot of the small, local shops and restaurants have taken a very hard hit in that adorable little town over the past couple of years, so the fact that there were going to be close to 400 vendor booths and amazing weather was a really nice shot in the arm for the local economy. Well, while Dah was there, of course she did a little shopping, and two of the items she picked up, and then generously gifted us with were the following:

Cactus Cats Sculpture Thingie

I don't know what to be more afraid of: the fact that a) there's some "artisan" out there making these things, b) that my mom felt that it was worth the $40 she spent on it or c) that when she saw this thing, she immediately thought, "Oh! Karla May and BH NEED this for their front porch!"

I couldn't help but nearly wetting myself laughing at this thing when she gave it to me. I know that seems shitty and ungrateful but really? Catctus cats with googly eyes surrounded by pink silk flowers and wearing pink bandanas?! REALLY?! Holy crap, I'm just sitting here crying laughing as I type this. Damn, maybe this thing WAS worth $40 after all...

Her instructions to me were to "take out all the fake crap" and that would make it look better.

Nope. Still pretty horrible. But OMFG, I love it.

Next up, a carnivorous "pitcher" plant that "eats" bugs:

Okay. I'll give it to her on this one: it is pretty damn cool. I mean, aside from the fact that she just HAD to say that the "pitchers" look like condoms (which now? I'll NEVER be able NOT to think of), it's kind of awesome.

God, I love that woman.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Good tidings.

Oh Internets, today is a good day.

The supercalafragalistic weather continues. Chamber of commerce weather. Sit out on a patio catching rays and a sweet buzz weather. SXSWeather.

I got to attend (the first part, at least) The Geej's "100 Day Party" at her school this morning. Man, I love the kids in her class. So creative and hilarious. They've been doing these posterboards where they ask the students things like, "If I could have 100 of anything, what would it be?" and then record each of the kiddo's answers. (GJ's answer to this question: "sparkly shoes," natch.) I noticed another 100-related posterboard today that asked, "If you traveled for 100 miles from Austin, where would you be?" GJ answered, "Alaska", and her classmates said things like "Dallas," "Asia," "Mexico," and (oddly enough) "Kansas." But my two favorites? "A cake store" and "Pixie Hollow". Oh to be 5 again...

After the party, I went to the doctor and got my stiches removed. I still have steristrips on the incision, but I got to see it before he put them on. It doesn't look too bad, aside from some residual bruising (now in the yellowish-green stage, always lovely), and after these strips fall off (some time this weekend), I can start putting on the scar gell stuff to minimize what this sucker looks like. I'll post pics later because, be honest, you wanna see, don't you?

At the doctor's office, I got the final pathology report on the thyroid and lymph node that were removed, and I could bore you with the medical mumbo jumbo, but long and short of it is the "pathological staging" of the tumors were T3, NX, MX. This means, "the tumor is either larger than 4 cm or it has begun to grow a small amount into nearby tissues outside the thyroid" (T3) however it had not spread to nearby lymph nodes (NX) and there were no signs of distance metastasis/spread (MX). In other words, I'm a lucky, lucky gal.

Next week, I have my first appointment with an endorinologist to figure out what's next. But right now, I'm feeling pretty happy about how everything has gone.

After the doctor's appointment, I treated myself to lunch at Torchy's along with a Dublin Dr. Pepper. Oh yes I did.

Then I went to my "Plan B" school for a tour with the principal. I'm not gonna lie: I was prepared to be disappointed. I'm not sure why--I guess it's just because I'd had my heart so set on The Geej going to my "Plan A" choice school, and when I got the news that wasn't going to be happening, my heart just sort of sunk through the floor. But, oh my GOSH, y'all! This school? I really, REALLY liked it. The principal was awesome, took her time with me, answered all my questions (and answered them well), led me on a very thorough tour, and I saw a lot of happy, productive kiddos being well attended to by engaged teachers. I can picture The Geej thriving here and her wonderful spirit being appreciated and encouraged. I called the AISD offices as soon as I got back and requested a transfer change to this school, and I'm certain it will be approved. And she can be happy there until 5th grade or until we move into a different school zone--whichever comes first.

Everything's going to be okay, y'all. It really is.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Things that suck/Things that don't suck (revisited)

It's been quite a while since I've done one of these lists, so I figured I should provide an update:

Things that suck:
  • The fact that I got a letter from AISD today saying that The Geej did NOT, in fact, get in to the school I put her transfer paperwork in for despite my full and enthusiastic participation in AISDarmageddon. Damnit!!
  • My garage door opener is broken.
  • Lots and lots and lots of medical bills arriving in the mailbox. All at once.
  • Being absolutely unable to find a neutralish paint color I like to repaint The Geej's room, guest room and laundry room. Why is this so hard?
  • Didn't sleep worth a damn last night--tossing, turning, coughing, sweating. Poor BH.
  • My pitiful looking fingernails/toenails that are SCREAMING for a mani/pedi.
  • Attending meetings via conference call.
  • My cat Doug, who I swear is 1/2 rooster, waking us up at 5:30am with his pathetic meows simply because he wants attention.
  • That, once again, I'm going to pretty much miss 100% of SXSW, except of course for all of the hiptards populating the Whole Foods downtown for the next week or so.
Things that DON'T suck:
  • How hot BH looks in his official Texas Parks and Wildlife gear. Meow!
  • Dinner cooking in the slow cooker all day long.
  • I've got a tour planned tomorrow afternoon with the principal of another school that looks good (on paper) and that will hopefully feel right for The Geej. If not, we'll have to implement Plan C, which will be a pretty hefty financial hardship for us.
  • This INSANELY beautiful weather!!
  • All of the trees/flowers/bulbs are starting to bloom, and we should have a GORGEOUS wildflower season due to all the rain we got over the winter.
  • I made it through today without a nap!
  • Regaining the ability to sleep on my side without major neck discomfort.
  • Tony, the friendly neighborhood cat. (I need to get a picture of him so I can post it. He's so damn cool.)
  • The fact that La Turista is SHAVING HER DANG HEAD, live on t.v. next Wednesday morning!!
  • Two weeks from today, BH and I will be at the beach. By ourselves.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

42 more hours

That's how long it is until I get these GODFORSAKEN stitches out of my neck. The itching started a bit last night, and now? Holy hell, now? I'm about to go completely and totally insane!! But luckily, other things are returning to normal, so I can (at least try to) focus on that.

First off, it is GORGEOUS here right now. Spring is definitely upon us and, seemingly overnight, the daffodils are blooming, the trees are putting on leaves and flowers, and the grass has grown 6 inches. Right now as I type this, our windows are open, and these lazy cats are seriously enjoying the sunbeams and light breezes.

Second, I've managed to get out among the living a bit in the last couple of days. Today, I actually took The Geej to school. The kiddos in her class are so funny, asking about my very visible, pretty large boo boo on my neck. One little girl, Skye, asked me, "What did you get for that?!" implying that I must've gotten some SUPER cool treat from the doctor for enduring something like this. I told her I got a great, big huge medical bill and some good drugs. She didn't seem too impressed. I told another kid that I'd gotten into a knife fight with The Geej's dad. Again, unimpressed. I'll have to think up some better/grosser stuff for tomorrow. I also went and got my super nasty car washed and then went to pick up a couple of things for a party they're having in The Geej's class on Friday.

Third, I'm starting back to work tomorrow. I'll be working at home (not ready to unveil my Franken-neck to my coworkers yet), and I've got a lot to do. I'm just hoping I've got the mental and physical energy to make it through the day without at least a two hour nap (something I haven't managed to do since getting out of the hospital).

As far as the hypothyroidism symptoms, I can't really tell what's starting to set in, and what's just me being my regular old bitchy self. For instance, I have been having some EPIC headaches the past couple of days. But is that because I don't have a thyroid or because I've been holding my head/neck at such a strange and constant angle that I'm GIVING myself a headache? Who really knows.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

The Pine Curtain Refugee: Now With 100% Less Thyroid

The surgery is done. Thank God.

When I went to my pre-op appointment on Thursday afternoon, I told them about my previous BAD hospital experience and how terrified and freaked out I was about this whole endeavor. They listened and took me seriously.

On Friday afternoon, I took the valium my doctor had prescribed for me prior to getting to the hospital, so that helped take the edge off. When I checked in to get prepped for surgery, all of the nurses, doctors, etc. were simply amazing. I did have a minor breakdown when they were trying to get my IV started and were having trouble--just brought back a flood of bad memories of pain and awfulness. I just kept saying, "I don't want to be here...I want to leave...I don't want to be here..." Luckily, they started the Versed* shortly after they got the IV in, and that made me care a WHOLE lot less what was going on (*a.k.a. Happy Goodtime Night Night Pre-Anesthesia Medicine). Got me wheeled away to surgery, and the next thing I knew I was in the recovery room. Which was fine, until there started to be a lot of nervous activity around my bed. I was super groggy, but I was aware enough to hear the words, "bleeder", "swelling", and "page the doctor". I started to freak out and trying to ask questions, which I couldn't vocalize. I was beyond terrified. They finally told me they were going to have to take me back in to the operating room, and that's the last thing I remember until I was being wheeled into my room at about 10:30pm. Apparently, one of the small veins in my neck had been nicked when they were suturing me up, and it was bleeding right beneath the surface of the skin and causing pretty significant swelling and bruising above and below my incision. So they had to put me back under (breathing tube and all) and go back in and get the bleeding to stop and clean up the mess. Yuck, right? All in all, it was a fairly minor thing, but it sure didn't FEEL minor when all of the hubub was going on around me in recovery.

Had a very non-restful night in the hospital--constant interruptions, drawing labs, taking vitals, discomfort, etc. So I was VERY relieved when my doctor came to visit me at 7am yesterday and told me that all my labwork and my incision looked great, so they'd be letting me go home. Less than 24 hours in the hospital, bitches!! (He also told me that we were very lucky we'd gotten to this when we did b/c the larger tumor inthe right lobe of my thyroid was getting ready to bust outta that sucker and spread elsewhere.)

So, I'm home. The Geej is with my mom until this afternoon. And I got some good rest last night, albeit I pretty much have to sleep in one position (on my back, elevated) due to my incision (about 5 inches wide at the base of my neck; Stitched and covered in steri strips) and the LOVELY bloody drain that's coming out of the front of my neck. The worst part of this so far? How DAMN sore my throat is from the breathing tubes. Man, it hurts to swallow, cough, or anything having to do with my entire neck area.

Yesterday, after my first attempt at eating in almost 48 hrs., I had a big scare where I thought I was going to vomit (and actually did a tiny bit), and the fear of how much that would hurt had me crying my eyes out. And I'm pretty sure that fear also kept me from going full-tilt barfo, which I'm thankful for.

BH has been SO amazing through all of this. He's an amazing, selfless caretaker. I was craving baked potato soup for dinner last night (and was finally really, really hungry), and he got a recipe off the internet, went to the store, got all the stuff, and cooked up the best batch of baked potato soup I've ever tasted. I love that man.

We both went to bed really early last night. He was exhausted too due to staying overnight with me at the hospital on Friday. And although I'm missing The Geej (I got to see her for about an hour yesterday), it's nice just having the quiet house right now so we can both just kind of take it easy. My next adventure? Figuring out how to take a shower with this drain thing, which needs to be pinned to something like a shirt so it doesn't just dangle and pull in the spot it emanates from. (I've got a follow-up appt. with my doctor on Monday afternoon, at which they'll hopefully remove this nasty thing.) I'm going to have to get creative because I NEED this shower. Trust me.

Thank you all for all your good thoughts and prayers, by the way. It sounds silly, but it really DOES help knowing that there are friends and family out there, far and wide, who are rooting for me.

More soon.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Guess who is TOTALLY a Daddy's girl?

This first one was taken when The Geej was 2:

And this one was taken last night, with The Geej at 5 1/2:

Man, I love those two turkeys.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

The conversation that's been going on in my brain for the past few days:

Why are you getting so worked up about this? It's a fairly routine surgery. You need to quit acting like a baby.

Oh my GOD I'm going to die!

You're not going to die. You're going to be fine, and you'll be able to look back on what an anxious freak you've been, and laugh at yourself.

What if...? What if...? What if...?

None of that's going to happen. It's going to go down like it should, all the cancer will be removed, you'll recuperate quickly, get on some synthetic hormones, and live happily ever after. 

I don't have a will. I need to get a fucking will. I'm 41 years old and have a husband and a child and responsibilities and shit. I need a will.

You're not going to die, dumbass!

I need to go make sure all of my beneficiary information is correct on my life insurance, Roth IRA, and 401k stuff. 

You've got plenty of time to handle all of that because you're going to be fine.

What if I wake up in recovery and I totally freak out and start pulling out tubes and stitches and stuff? Sometimes people do WEIRD stuff when they're coming out of anesthesia. Holy crap, I know I'm going to wigthefuck out.

You've got Valium. Sweet, sweet valium to help you be calm tomorrow.

I need to make sure we've got enough groceries and shave my legs and finish the laundry and make sure all my bills are paid and up-to-date. Do we have enough cat food? Oh crap, we're out of milk.

Your wonderful husband is there. Let him help you. Don't think that you've got to do it all yourself.

If I start crying in my pre-op visit today, I'm going to be very embarassed. What a baby!

They've seen it all. Please quit worrying already.

Is The Geej scared? I'm scared. Is she picking up on that? How can I protect her from this when I'm such a basket case? 

She's curious, but she's not scared. She thinks you can do ANYTHING. You're like superwoman to her. And she'll be in good hands.

I'm going to cry again. I'm sick of crying and being anxious. I can't concentrate on anything. I feel like I'm losing my mind.

You are GOING TO BE FINE. Everything is GOING TO GO WELL. There will be NO COMPLICATIONS. Now, go take a Xanax.