Wednesday, June 29, 2011

I Love Food.

I am a person who loves food. I love everything about it, the way it feels both in my hands and in my mouth, the way it looks and smells. I love everything, right down to the raw ingredients used to create the dish before me. I suppose it’s why I enjoy cooking so much as well. Food is both my paint palette and my finished canvas.

Unfortunately, that has worked against me at times as it is very easy to overindulge in this thing that brings me so much pleasure. I will never be a person who ‘sees’ food as just fuel for my body. While I am well aware that is indeed what it is, it really is so much more than that for me. So much so that I’ve often wondered if any of the folks I know who are ‘intuitive’ eaters really do love food. I mean really, really love it. I think even if they told me they love food, I wouldn't believe them.

I can’t remember too many times in my life when I haven’t wanted to eat. There’s actually a certain level of stress or discomfort where I want to eat MORE. I always figure that’s my brain trying to find pleasure so the discomfort is erased. You can imagine my surprise then over the last week, as I dealt with the pain of the compressed nerve that I didn’t want to eat. Not only that, I didn’t even care about food. It was as if all my energy and resources were directed towards ridding myself of the pain which was at a level so great I almost intuitively knew that food wouldn’t help.

Not only did I not care about eating, I didn’t care about creating with it either. Some of that had to do with the fact that I couldn’t feel 3 fingers on my right hand, but some of it was also simply that I didn’t care at all. There just was no excitement or anticipation when it came to food.

Because that nerve pain started over the weekend, I had not done any prep as I normally would for the upcoming week. Which meant the refrigerator was bare of prepared meals although various ingredients were available. I honestly did not eat breakfast at all and at some point nearing lunch or even after, I would choke down a yogurt or something similar because I didn’t feel right and I was sure it had to do with blood sugar. Of course, I wasn’t exercising either so I’m sure my calorie burn had almost slowed to stop and that would account for my lack of hunger. Mr. Helen would come home from work and tried to do dinner. One night he made tacos (no veggies save for the couple of tomato chunks and lettuce strips) and another night he bought pizza. I ate 1 taco and ½ slice of pizza. That’s how much I didn’t care about food.

By Thursday my appetite had started picking up a bit but still, I wasn’t constantly thinking about food, or planning my meals, or counting anything. The only thing I was sure of was that I wanted something green. When Mr. Helen got home from work he looked at me and said, “Well, we don’t have anything leftover for dinner except pizza and I’m pretty sure you don’t want that, right?” Right. I immediately told him I wanted green. He made me this before he left :

A few too many croutons for my taste but boy was this delicious - and probably tasted so because he took such good care to make it pretty! Interestingly, I only ate half of it. Normally I would have eaten that whole bowl. I ended up eating the other half on Friday for dinner, which worked out well because Mr. Helen, bless his heart, just cannot meal plan and certainly his idea of a meal rarely includes a vegetable.

This minimal eating pattern has continued with little to no effort on my part right up to today. I had the thought over the weekend that maybe I wouldn’t eat unless I was hungry and the thought was put into action on my part. I suddenly realized last night that I have been sort of eating mindfully.

My appetite has indeed been stronger this week as I’ve returned to work and a bit of exercise. But I have still found it almost easy to not eat unless I am hungry.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love food. It will always be more than just fuel to me. But maybe this experience is teaching me that I can savor every bite without overdoing it. I hope so.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Eighty Percent

Maybe we're in an upward swing?  I sure hope so.

Mr. Helen's leg is looking better and even feeling a bit better although it seems he probably will need the full 4-6 weeks to be fully recovered.

After two weeks of recuperation at SIL's house (an hour away from the hubbub here), Pops is coming home this Saturday.  He's already saying he isn't a baby and doesn't want anyone spending the night at his house.

Me?  Well I think I'm about 80% better.  I spent from Thursday afternoon to Sunday morning in traction for 15 minutes on the hour.  Diligent I was - anything to stop the pain!  Most of the rest of the time I was laying on a heating pad, my neck and back just so, to keep it relaxed and positioned for healing.  I will admit that by Friday other things were aching from all the laying around.  After I'd been up for a couple of hours and done my traction, I got the brilliant idea that I could actually do some housekeeping. The house was just feeling dirty to me because I'd only given it a swipe the previous weekend due to having the munchkins. So, I would lay on the heating pad for 10 minutes, then do traction for 15 minutes. That gave me around 35 minutes of each hour to get up and clean somthing. That's what I did for almost 6 hours. I know it sounds crazy but I honestly think I felt better and I think it also proves my theory that inactivity breeds aches and pains almost worse than exercise.

Mr. Helen yelled when he got home from work, but I think he was secretly happy because he knew that meant I was feeling a bit better.  Also, his leg, even though improving, is very sore where the bruising is, not to mention that he has been running back and forth to the nursing home to help with his mother.  His full hands really did not need to take care of me, although there was no choice with some things like cooking.  It's hard to handle knives when you can't feel your fingers.

As of today,  the stabbing pain and agony in my neck and shoulder blade are gone.  I've gotten feeling back in 2 of the 3 fingers that were completely numb.  My index finger remains an issue but it actually feels annoyingly tingly right now, and my whole arm just feels sort of achey - almost flu like aching.  At least I was able to come back to work this week and I'll continue the traction morning and evenings, along with a couple of PT appointments to see if there is anything further to be done or if I just need to wait it out.

I also ran/walked for the first time in a week yesterday morning.  I wasn't sure how my arm would feel and sure enough as I got going it started bothering me so whenever it would start to have the burn/tingle feeling, I would walk.  By the third mile I had figured out how to hold it and was able to run that last mile all the way home.  Normally I'd be complaining about taking 36 minutes to "run" 3 miles, but yesterday I was all smiles.

Tonight I plan on attempting a Muay Thai class (yes, I got permission from the PT).  Until last week I'd never ever missed a full week (except for our planned vacation week).  I'll just go and do what I can do, glad that I'm able to do anything at all.

Funny how illness and injury can make you appreciate even small things that you took for granted in the past.

Color me happy.

Friday, June 24, 2011

No News is Good News - NOT

I just wanted to quickly write to say that I won't be blogging until I can get this compressed nerve straightened out.  My right arm is numb and burning at the same time.  I'm typing this with only my left hand because I have to hold my right arm up over my head so it doesn't burn.  Turns out the nerve in my neck runs all the way through my arm (yours too).

I've been out of work since Monday afternoon - well except for the 4 hours I was there yesterday because I am a big dummy and thought I could hack it.  Um, no.  Seems that sitting at a computer is just about the worst angle for my neck.

I couldn't even just sit and read blogs, never mind trying to comment.  I'm pretty much using my smart phone as my connection to the internets, as I can use that while lying down.

I've had 3 PT appointments now where I received medical massage, heat, and traction.  Yesterday they decided that I need to have traction treatments as much as possible because they do relieve the nerve pain in my arm and hand.  So, they sent me home with a portable traction machine with orders to use it 15 minutes every hour and in between I should only be laying down.

If I happen to cross your mind, please send up some prayers or vibes or whatever you believe in, I sure could use them.  If it will help you to remember, picture me like this:

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Tuesday Ten: It's Always Something

10.  I've come to the conclusion that there will always be something that can turn things upside down and throw me into serious setback mode.  I'm not just talking eating/dieting here.

9.  Having said that, the newest something is that I woke up Sunday morning with a teeny bit of pain under my right shoulder blade.  Since we'd had the munchkins, I tried to think back and remember if I had picked up anything (or anyone) too heavy or noticed any pain during our beach day. Nope.

8.  I got up yesterday morning and went out for run.  It was perfect running weather and for a change my legs felt great.  I glanced down at my Garmin and I was running 10 minute miles!  But then, I had to stop and walk because as my breathing got heavier it caused that pain to be stabbing and was knocking the breath out of me.

7.  The pain got progressively worse yesterday to the point where today, I am home from work because my entire right arm is numb and tingly and my thumb and index finger have almost no sensation. Yes, I am currently keyboarding this blog and cannot feel any of the letters I touch with my thumb or index finger.  And yes, I have called my doctor and have an appointment for 2:30 today.

6.  Thanks to Dr. Internets I have already figured out that I have a compressed nerve, probably at C6, C7. I have all the right symptoms for it anyway.  I am sure the doctor is going to tell me to rest but perhaps she can give me a prescription for a muscle relaxer and a seriously strong pain reliever because the Aleve and Motrin are not touching the pain.

5.  I got Mr. Helen to let me take a photo of his injury because I wanted him to see how bad his leg looked. This is what a leg looks like when there is a Grade 3 tear of the adductors (and this is starting to look better):


4. Yesterday a coworker suggested that Mr. Helen and I should just go check ourselves into a spa for a month so we can get better.  I wish.  And with this pinched nerve thing, I can't even claim it happened athletically. But as I've said before, I think both of us are just susceptible to miscellaneous crappy injuries and pain because of all the stress in our lives.

3.  I'll tell you what:  even though we can't go to the spa, we both are really looking forward to our vacation and we've both already said that we are taking a complete break from workouts.  We are going to rest and hopefully heal.  Well, except for swimming and snorkeling in the Caribbean sea.  But that doesn't feel like working out. With all that has been going on, we are in serious countdown mode as it's only 32 days away!

2.  This also means I've been in serious "Get Your Shizz together and Eat Right!" mode as well, which has been particularly easy these last two day since this pain is so intense I'm actually slightly nauseated.

1.  One day I'm going to write a blog and neither Mr. Helen or I will be hurt, our families will be OK, and things will just be freaking calmed down for a change.  I'm going to do that if it's the last thing I do! Promise.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Beach Blanket Bingo!

All last week prior to the munchkins coming to stay, our weather forecast for Saturday was rain.  Mr. Helen and I kept trying to figure out what the heck we would do with the kids if it did rain because I am firmly against children sitting in front of a TV all day long.  Fortunately, the bit of rain we were getting arrived on Friday and by Saturday morning it was sunny with a forecast high of 78 - which meant our first beach day of the season!

Mr. Helen and Jacob took off and went fishing for a couple of hours while Princess Grace and I went grocery shopping.  Her preferred menu for the beach picnic was peanut butter and jelly sandwich, Cheetos, and baby carrots with ranch dip. YUM.  (The rest of us had ham sandwiches.)  When the fellas came back from fishing, we took off for the beach.  But not before Jacob gave me these beautiful water lilies that he picked right off the lily pads at the lake.


When we got to the beach there was fog rolling in and out.  Crazy.  But eventually it rolled all the way out and stayed gone which meant a glorious four hours of picnic, sand and surf!



Three hours in, a purchase of clam fritters was necessary!

It really was a glorious day.  To top it all off, I discovered what might be the perfect bathing suit to hide my belly & behind, if only I could find one in my size... although I don't think I'd look as cute as she does:

We got home and got everyone cleaned up and began working on dinner... the menu chosen again by Princess Grace:  chicken fingers, macaroni and cheese, sweet potato fries, carrots and cucumbers with ranch dip.

Since we were making everything homemade, we decided to set up the Fry Daddy outside on the patio which made for much easier cleanup later.  While I was making the chicken, Uncle Mr. Helen got the idea that we should have a campout movie night - i.e., roll the treadmill out of the way and set up chairs and TV trays in the garage to watch a movie while we ate dinner.  The kids, of course, thought that was brilliant!  As Jacob said to me, "Uncle Mr. Helen is very kid friendly." LOL! (I have to admit, that idea was house friendly too - it kept the house clean!)

(Disregard garage crap which still has not been cleaned up.)


Once again, we I suuuuuuuucked at getting Gracie to go to bed.  Her mama said she would probably need to be in bed by 8 because she had popped wide awake that morning at 6 saying, "Is it time to go to Auntie Helen's house yet?"  I figured she'd go easy since we'd worn her little behind out running her at the beach.  But not a chance.   I finally gave up and took her back outside to her uncle wherein he promptly put her in his lap let her stay up until we all went to bed at 10.  Sigh.   There is a reason she is referred to as the Princess.

Sunday was Father's Day and the kids had told me they wanted to make their uncle cards.  So I gave them paper and let them go at it.  He loved them of course!

If you look closely at the crappy garage photo above the red thing behind Mr. Helen's head is the bag Jacob drew here.

Grace said rainbows were her best thing so I told her to go for it

She also informed me that she didn't know how to spell Uncle Mr. Helen's name so she was just going to write her name 2 times:



And a heart because she loves him (and now you know why she gets to stay up until 10 pm!)

When the kids left Sunday afternoon, we sort of collapsed.  Spent so much time trying to wear them out, we wore ourselves out.  Yep, in bed by 8:30 with no apologies.  But more memories were made to last a lifetime and a grand time was had by all.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Ketchup/Catsup/Catch-Up

Nothing to do with the condiment, other than one of the two munchkins that I will be having as overnight guests on Saturday, does not like ketchup.  The really funny thing about it is that before Jacob was born, his dad said, "My son will not have ketchup.  I don't think it's an appropriate condiment for young children."  Those of us in the room who were already parents laughed our butts off because we all knew that kids pretty much decide on their own what they like and you can't stop them.  But do you know, Jacob has never, ever liked ketchup!  Gary was very proud of that.

So, some of the weekend will be occupied with the fabulous Miss Grace and the sweetest little boy ever who will spend Saturday and some of Sunday with us while my sister goes to a foo foo wedding in the Hamptons with her new beau.


I hope they will be a good distraction for Mr. Helen.

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Speaking of Mr. Helen.  He got to the doctor and had x-rays done, which confirmed that he did indeed have a Grade 3 tear of the adductor muscles in his left leg.  Fortunately, they had not detached because that would have meant surgery.   I wish I could show you his leg but can you believe it, he won't let me take a photo.  It's black and blue from his groin to his knee and there's one spot right at the top about 2 inches in diameter that's fire engine red.  According to the ortho that's where the tear is. He's looking at 4-6 weeks for a somewhat full recovery and I'm going to have to watch him like a hawk as the man does not know when to say when.  Tuesday night I was going to Muay Thai class as usual and he comes up the stairs and is dressed to go as well.  WHAT?  He proceeds to tell me that he's just going to go and punch because he needs some stress relief.  Um, OK, except what about the fact that if you are standing properly, when you punch your hips rotate?  He pretty much told me to shut it that he was going.  When we got there and Kyoshi saw him she asked him what the heck he thought he was doing there and he started stammering blah blah blah.  She looked right at him and said, "You can't take the class.  But I had to send a sensei home sick, so if you'd like you may teach it."  (Nannny nanny boo boo. Vindication!)  Usually he's a maniac even when he teaches but between my glaring and the fact that he really does hurt he had to take it sort of easy.  So now ya'll understand what I'm up against.  Sigh.

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My father-in-law finally had his surgery on Wednesday.  When he got to Yale they discovered several issues - a touch of pneumonia and an infection.  So they put him on something called the A-Bomb to get rid of all that.  The surgeon decided Tuesday night that he didn't want to wait any longer so Wednesday it was.  It was a looooooong day, especially for Mr. Helen who got there before his dad went in and stayed until they brought him to the Cardiothoracic ICU.  (Side note:  Yale is where you want to have this surgery. That recovery unit only has 18 beds and has 1 nurse per patient.) Of course, Pops was out of it so there wasn't much to be done except just see that he was OK.  He ended up having a triple bypass which took care of the 5 blockages.  The doctor said it went well and that he has a strong heart.  Good news that was.  We're hoping if he can get to breathing on his own that he'll be stepped down to the regular ICU on Saturday.  Long recovery ahead too, but it seems he's now going in the right direction.

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I joined Lori in Bagel Wednesday.  I was really craving carbs from grains on Wednesday, which I'm sure was somewhat stress related (see above).  I enjoyed every single bite!

Everything Bagel with Chive Cream Cheese.... heaven on a plate!


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How about a fashion shot?  This is a Max Studio dress that I bought at TJ Maxx. First shot is the bodice closeup because I love the little bit of detailing.  (Disclaimer:  objects in the mirror may appear closer and larger than they actually are, due to cropping of the photo.)


I'm wearing a pair of my new shoes but I'm on the hunt for some turquoise sandals to match that line of color at the bottom. (Biz, yes I do, absolutely, positively need another pair of shoes!!)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Oasis

One of the reasons I know that I need to aleviate stress, is that I'm constantly thinking about ways to reduce it these days.  When I woke up Monday morning sort of aching from head to toe, I knew that I need to get proactive.  The thing is I can't seem to figure out what to do.  Exercise isn't even making me feel better and forget meditation.  I'm like Lori - I try to meditate and find myself making a grocery list instead!  So, I'm looking for moments of peace and quiet which have to be enough right now.

The beach is my ultimate happy place but of course I work full time so it's not like I could go there and stay until I feel better.  Not to mention that our temperatures have been around 15 degrees below normal for a couple of weeks, so it's definitely not beach weather. 

When we bought our house 5 years ago, we told people that we had the next best thing to a condo - very little outside maintenance required but still a small piece of property and a home not connected to anyone else.  When I say our property is small, I mean SMALL.  I think the total size of our plot is 1/10th of an acre.  When you pull into my long narrow driveway, you are driving towards the garage.  To the left of the garage and behind the house is what used to be a small yard.  The owners before us decided to dig up the yard from the edge of the house to the back of the propery, pour cement and fence it in.  Which means that the only grass yard we have is a tiny strip in the front and and an even smaller strip down the side.  It's just enough to give Mr. Helen something to do with a weed wacker and let me have a couple of flowering bushes that wouldn't otherwise grow in a pot.

Around a year after we bought the house, we decided to have the cement resurfaced giving the patio a much nicer more "patio-y" look.  Each year that we've lived here I've decorated it,  increasing the number of pots a bit more.  While our season is short, pretty much from last frost to first frost, I keep it decorated and try to have something growing.  Next to the beach, it has become a favorite place and each winter as I look out my kitchen window I can't wait to create my oasis...my little piece of calm and quiet.  I know it's hard to believe that I can have that when I live in a neighborhood where my neighbors are in spitting distance, but something about that fence and the pots of flowers and veggies make it so.
We're finally having some decent weather today and I'll be looking for stress relief so I'll be heading out there this evening after work, I'm sure.  If you're ever in the neighborhood, you're welcome to join me.





Why is the dahlia leaning like that?

Dill &Cilantro - that I started from seeds!
Have no idea what I'm doing but they're growing!!

The very first green peppers I've ever tried to grow are on their way!

Tomatoes coming too... can't wait to make Caprese Salad!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Insult to Injury

Saturday morning Mr. Helen took off to do the special class he has to do every two weeks as he works his way towards his 3rd Degree Black Belt in November.  I was putting around the house sipping coffee and waiting for the rain to subside so that I could try to get outside for a run before the second round of rain came in.

The phone rang but before I could answer it stopped.  I looked at caller ID and it was one of my sister-in-law's cell phones.  I figured butt dial or some such since it didn't ring again right away.  Then it happened again, so this time I called back but she didn't answer. 

I got my running gear on and was going out the door when the phone rang again, but kept ringing so I went back into the house to answer it.  It was my sister in law trying to find Mr. Helen because my father in law was at the emergency room with chest pain.

She calls him every morning at 7:30 and on Saturday he said he wasn't feeling well.  When she heard the symptoms her natural response was to rush to the house and take him to the emergency room.  (Side note:  DO NOT DO THIS.  The correct response is to call 9-1-1, which we cannot seem to make her understand.)  Fortunately, the ER triage nurse recognized what was going on and they started working on him right away.

I called the dojo but no one was answering the phone, which is not unusual.  I figured they were outside running or something so I decided I would have to drive over there.  Just before I left, I tried one more time and they answered the phone.  Mr. Helen left immediately and went to the hospital.

I waited to hear what was going on and Mr. Helen called to say pop was definitely having a heart attack.  The medical team was trying to stabilize him and then he would be transported to Yale Hospital, which is about 45 minutes away.  I immediately called the ambulance company that my boss owns and told them when the call comes in that it was my FIL and I wanted a superb crew.

Then, I went out and tried to run.  I did manage to stagger through 5 miles, but trust me when I say, there is a stress level that can be reached in which exercise might even be counter productive.  My legs felt like lead and I never could get my breathing correct.

After my run, I got cleaned up as I was supposed to have lunch with Em.  Mr. Helen called at around 11:15 and said pop had been picked up by the ambulance and he was one his way home to get cleaned up so that he could go to the hospital.  I waited for him to get there so we could decide if I should go to lunch or cancel.

Mr. Helen walked through the back door and he was limping so I immediately asked what was wrong.  He proceeded to tell me that he had pulled his groin so badly at the cycle class that he was unable to do the sprinting.  We discussed my lunch plans and decided that I should go and in the meantime he would get cleaned up, ice the pull and eat and then we would go together to the hospital once I got home.

So, I drove off and went to meet Em.  Did I tell you guys she got engaged recently?  I've been anxious to see her so I could hear the proposal story and see her ring (it's gorgeous!).  As soon as I reached the restaurant I told her what was going on because really I needed to eat and run.  Just as we were sipping coffee, my phone rang and it was Mr. Helen.  When I answered he was gasping for breath.  Right at that moment I honestly thought my head was going to explode.  Finally I realized he was telling me not to hurry that there was no way he could go to the hospital... that he thought his groin injury was not a pull but might actually be a tear because at this point he could not even straighten his leg out and could barely walk.  Now lingering over coffee and conversation are just a lost cause so we paid the bill, I gave Em a hug and took off for home.  As I reached a red light I hear my text message tone.  Normally I won't touch my phone in the car when I'm driving but as you can imagine at this point I was too nervous not to look.  It was the baby SIL texting me to call her as soon as I got home. 

I arrive home 15 minutes later and go in the house to find Mr. Helen literally gasping because the pain is unbearable.  I helped him get upstairs and get in our bed, propping the injured side up with pillows.  I take a look at it and it is fire engine red and swollen.  It is hurting him so much that when I brush it with my fingers it makes him cry out in pain.  I immediately became Dr. Helen and went into the medicine stash and found a leftover prescription for Vicodin and made him take one.  Then I called my SIL who only needed clarification on FILs medical papers (she was at the hospital at this point) because Mr. Helen had been in so much pain he was not communicating clearly.

I went downstairs, got on the computer and figured out that Mr. Helen had a Grade 3 Groin Tear.  I read information on several sites and determined that I needed to keep him iced 20 minutes of every hour, on antiinflammatory meds and I also gave him a muscle relaxer since the area kept spasming.  I think the only reason he was able to make it through the hospital time until he got home was pure adreneline keeping him from feeling it.  Because he was a giant ball of mess.

I look at my watch and it's only 2:30. I'm not going to lie,  I was seriously ready for Happy Hour.

For the next couple of hours the house was just crazy.  Another SIL came by to pick up the medical papers Mr. Helen had so that she could take them to the hospital and of course, the phone was ringing a lot.  Around 4:00 we had actually had 15 minutes of quiet and I was considering going grocery shopping when the phone rang again and this time it was Mama Helen's cell.  Her cell?  She never calls me on her cell.  She hung up before I could answer so I called right back.  Turned out that she had Miss Gracie at a Beauty and the Beast show at our local playhouse and as soon as they had gotten to the car, Gracie need to go potty and she wanted to bring her to my house.  She was calling to make sure I was home.  They arrived 5 minutes later and as soon as they walked in I could tell something was wrong so I sent Gracie upstairs to the bathroom and told her to check on her uncle. 

Off she went and I asked Mama Helen what was going on.  She started sobbing and told me that my Uncle Earl, her oldest brother (83 years old) had died that morning.  But because my sister was away, she had the kids and couldn't even think about it properly.  She hadn't wanted to call me because she knew my life was crazy - and she didn't even know about FIL's heart attack or Mr. Helen's injury.  I felt terrible because it's not like I could take the kids so that she could go home and grieve.  I did the next best thing which was to call my sister to tell her if there was any way she could get home sooner, she should.

Then I called Shelley.  I'm sorry for that nonsensical, rambling phone call Shelley.  You were a trooper to let me rant and rave for an hour.  After that phone call, I had my Saturday night martini AND a glass of wine.

Mr. Helen called the ortho this morning and they are fitting him in but not until tomorrow morning at 8:45.  They need to take an x-ray and see if his adductor muscles have actually separated or if they are still attached.

My FIL will have his bypass surgery either Tuesday or Wednesday.  They've managed to keep him stable but want the imaging from the cardiac catheterization he had done last week which should arrive at Yale today.

I asked Em for a do-over on lunch.  I owe her big time.

And, I made myself get up this morning and walk/jog.  Again, my legs felt heavy and I sort of feel sore all over which I know, for a fact, is stress. 

How was your weekend?

Friday, June 10, 2011

Friday is for Flowers, Fashion, Fingers

First of all, thank you for all your kind words on my Feeeeeelings post.  I really appreciate it, even though I didn't expect a soul to say a thing.  I've moved a bit out of the funk but the stress remains, which I'm sure is a factor simply because of all the issues with my in-laws right now.  Yet, this too shall pass, right?

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While out running two weekends ago, I saw some spectacular flowers but didn't have my iPhone with me. This past weekend when I went out, I made sure to take it in case I saw some more.  I can't really explain why, but summer and flowers make me so happy.  So happy.  (You too, Lori?) Take a look:

 The front of this yard was covered in Irises.
These were bigger than my fist!

Ooops cut off a little - I've got mad foto skillz. How can someone not be happy when they see a Pink Peony?

Same area but here's an open Pink Peony

I've also pretty much got the patio set so I'll have a post with photos of the rest of the flowers and an update on the veggie plants coming soon.

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I've already started shopping for the vacay because goodness knows I can't possibly wear stuff I already have!  (Right, Shelley?).  Stealth shopping of course which involves going when Mr. Helen is at work then assimilating the various items into the closet so that when he says, "I've never seen that!"  My honest reply is, "Well honey, it's been hanging in my closet."  One of the things I love most about summer is sundresses and when we go to St. Martin, I am usually in a bathing suit with cover up or a sundress.  Here are a couple of the dresses I found and put into the closet, near  some of the other sundresses so they can get to know their friends...


Of course I needed shoes too.  (Right Fran?), We do a lot of walking so I need either need flats or a smaller heel.  I happened to find perfect shoes that will go with a couple of others I'll take.  Left to right is a flat, a kitten heel and a small wedge heel.


But the stressful hard to find item is the bathing suits.  I try to take at least 3. Each time that we've gone to St. Martin, Mr. Helen and I end up in a tug of war over my bathing suits.  Because he wants me to let a lot more hang out than I am willing to usually.  I know that I am my own worst critic about my body, but really, there has to be a limit on how teeny of a bikini a woman my age and in my shape should be wearing! It's been probably 8 years since I wore an outright bikini but I did find a two piece that I'm considering.  (No price tags have been removed or harmed in the process of taking photos.)

There's a regular bottom with the short skirt over it. But I love the colors!


Along with this tankini, that I do love.
Both suits are La Blanca which is a brand I look for.

Here's the coverup that I found on a clearance rack for $5!!
Guess I'm stuck on this Caribbean blue color.

I'm well on my way to making a pretty decent fashion statement, don't you think?  I'm sure I'll have more to share before we go.

Here's the finger(s). This is one of my two favorite summer colors that I tend to get over and over again.   Happy Friday everyone!

Shorts Story
by OPI

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Feeeeeeeelings, Wo Wo Wo Feeeeeeeelings....

I keep seeing great positive affirmations all over blogland due to Marissa.   I want to participate but all week I've been struggling with being positive.  Don't get me wrong, I have much to be thankful for but these days it's as if I can't see the forest for the trees.  I'm feeling like we (Mr. Helen and I) can't catch a break on anything.  I also feel like we are long overdue for a stretch of peace and quiet and everyday ordinary living.

I haven't written a post like this in a good long while.  But I started this blog as a place for me to write out anything I want to.  It's where I'm supposed to be able to go to say anything I want.  So, followers or not, that's what I'm doing today.  Today, because I can't seem to work through it mentally, this is for me.

Today I Feel:
  • Frustrated
  • Tired
  • Stressed
  • Heavy
  • Sore
  • Achey
  • Sad
  • Unloved
  • Discouraged
  • Unworthy
  • Frumpy
  • Homely
  • Unathletic
  • Overwhelmed
Oh, and did I mention stressed and tired AND sick and tired of being sick and tired? 

I know that much of this is factual and not just feelings -  genuine to where our life is right now.  Even if I used all the deep breathing and calming techniques available, the fact remains that life is quite stressful these days.  I know this because I do work at getting plenty of sleep:  7-8 hours a night and yet I wake up feeling tired and exhausted.  This morning as I ran I kept thinking that I need to find some sort of homeopathic remedy for energy but even as I thought that, I knew in my heart that there is no magic pill. I need to rid myself of these feelings because this sort of thing is toxic and not good for much of anything.  Maybe putting it out there is a start.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Tuesday Ten

10.  Since I bought the plane tickets for our vacation, I've been a whirlwind and have already secured a rental car and our long term parking in NYC.  Ain't no stoppin' me now. Except maybe the fact that we found out yesterday that my 83 year old father-in-law has to have Open Heart Bypass Surgery. Five blockages.  But for now, we're just going to pretend that everything will be OK by the time we will be going and move forward with vacation plans.  Because really, how much should one family have to endure?

9.  Along the lines of believing that we will be going and trying to save money for lots of nice meals out during the vacay,  Mr. Helen & I will be spending most Saturday night date nights at home.  We can have a nice meal and a drink for a lot less than what it costs to go out. For example this past Saturday, our meal was Porterhouse Steaks with caramelized onions and gorgonzola butter, twice baked potatoes and green beans almondine.  We each had 1 cocktail and 1 glass of delicious red wine.  That probably would have cost us at least $150 out.  I'd say that meal probably cost $25.

8.  Also, I made Strawberry White Chocolate Streusel Bars for dessert. There's not a thing that's "low" about these but I had fresh strawberries that I needed to use up.  Besides date night is my treat night.  HOLY YUM.


7.  Probaby a very good thing that I got up and ran 5.4 really hard miles on Saturday morning, eh?  My running has not been feeling so good or even going so well.  When it's like that, even though I know it's just part of the natural cycle with running, sometimes it's hard to be motivated. But go I did, and I made myself do a super hilly route.  I figured if I'm going to be slow then it had better be hard.  I was proud that my pace was 11:45 and you would be too if you saw the monster hills I tackled.

6.  Got up Sunday and my legs were screaming at me for Saturday's run.  But my hips were also screaming at me for Saturday's dessert.  So I went out again.  This time I did a total of 5.1 miles.  I walked the first 2 miles then ran as hard as I could for the 5K.  Total time was 62 minutes but I ran the 5K in 34!!  Woot!

5.  Then I got up Monday and did another 3.15.  My legs were sore as get out.  That 5K took me 37:00 (compared to Sunday's 34:00) which is how I know I run like a crockpot - start out slow and get to cooking later on.  This is also the reason why I'm never much motivated to race 5Ks.  I'd rather do a 10K and get a faster overall time.

4.  Janell calculated that for me to lose the 900 pounds I mentioned last Friday, I need to lose approximately 56 pounds a day.  Not sure I can manage that, but I have to admit, 10 pounds total might be nice.

3.  I wonder if I could lose 20 though.  According to this magazine, that I saw while out shopping on Sunday, I could lose TWENTY by July 4th!

2.  You'll notice that verbiage says, "Melt fat like butter" not "Melt butter" which may be the key to losing that 10 or 20 pounds.  You think?

1.  I have a hard time deciphering the fine line between boredom and hunger.  Stay tuned for deeper thoughts on this...

Friday, June 3, 2011

Shut Up and Drive

My mother-in-law, who is in end stages of Alzheimer’s finally ended up in a nursing home the week before Memorial Day. At first it was thought that she had a stroke but it turned out to be an interaction from a medication she was taking for an infection. Once she was at the hospital, the medical professionals stepped in and basically told my father-in-law that he could not take her home. While this is something that probably should have happened long ago, my 83 year old father-in-law, who has been her primary care taker, never could bring himself to do it. Even after the health scare he had in February when he promised us that he would start the paperwork, he didn’t really do that. I found out, through some gentle questioning, that he had purposefully left out financial information so his applications were incomplete. They have been married 59 years and I have to admit I’m not even sure what I would do were I in his shoes. On top of that, today is the one year anniversary of Pam’s death. Needless to say this collision of events has been a huge adjustment for all of us over the last couple of weeks, but especially Mr. Helen and his immediate family.

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This is a photo of the handbag I bought for summer, which I started using last week. I love it because it’s tres chic being a gold/bronze metallic and also simply because it’s big enough to hold my huge sunglasses case as well as my glasses case (in case the contacts tear), among the myriad of other things I feel the need to carry with me at all times because I have turned into my mother. However, as I discovered while looking for my camera last week when Dave was here, the pockets, including the middle zippered pocket, are deep. After Dave left, I was so annoyed that I couldn’t find my camera, I emptied my whole purse out and sure enough, there it was all the way in the bottom to the edge of the middle zipper pocket which was where I was sure I had put it in the first place! Sigh. Maybe I should have put on my glasses with my contacts when I was looking for it.

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Hip, hip hooray! We are definitely going to our beloved St. Martin at the end of July. While I had booked the resort way back in January, with fuel prices going up, up, up so did the cost of airline tickets. The most we’ve ever had to pay to fly there has been around $1100. That’s still pricey, but it’s the cost of going to the Caribbean. We are completely spoiled by the fact that we have two major airports within about 45 minutes from our home and have always flown out of one of them in the past, even though we’ve also had to connect vs. a direct flight. Recently tickets have been running around $1800 and though we adore our beloved little island, we could not justify that, what with the additional costs of the trip (Gotta eat for goodness sake!). We actually had come to the point where we were looking at other options.  A friend suggested that I check New York or Boston for flights on Jet Blue. Turned out the flights were less expensive but would also mean a 2 hour drive (either way) to the airport. As it also turned out, the Boston flights go to New York before St. Martin thereby making it silly to drive to Boston when we could just go 2 hours the other way to New York. And so I began my campaign to fly out of JFK.  Why campaign?  Because there was a hitch.

The hitch? Mr. Curmudgeon Helen. Holy carp you would not believe the whining and pining I’ve been listening to about driving 2 hours to the airport, even though it would mean a direct flight – no transfers like we usually have to deal with. All you mid-west people stop laughing, right this minute! I am not kidding peeps he was like a 2 year old…. until the prices of tickets started dropping and dropping to where last night, I booked our two tickets for what ONE ticket from the closer airport would have cost. In the 9 years we’ve been going to St. Martin, this is the least we’ve ever paid for flights.

So, hurray for vacation! I think. Because immediately after I booked the tickets I realized I have approximately 51 days to lose 900 pounds to be ready for being in a bathing suit on the beach next to gorgeous, thin French women. YIKES!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Fresh Paint and Memories

Our original plans for the Memorial Day weekend included, well, nothing, which is why I took Friday off as well to paint. I figured it would be a great chance to get that ugly chore done and still have some weekend left to luxuriate in. By the time the weekend arrived, due to several last minute invites, it ended up being quite full, but at least it was full of fun, except for the painting.

The painting is over and done with, thank goodness, but it turned out to be a day of trial and error. Several weeks ago Mr. Helen and I went and picked out several paint chips and brought them home. I taped them to the kitchen walls and let them sit until we decided which we wanted. My plan was to make the walls a bit darker and leave the window and door trims an off white. He bought a gallon of the (more expensive) primer and paint in one and set everything out for me so that I could get a move on Friday morning,

I went to bed early Thursday night with such expectation and was up and at ‘em ready to paint by 7 am. I started with a small square of wall by edging it first. As the paint is going on, I’m thinking “this doesn’t look like what I picked out…” so I go and find the chip. Yep, looks like the chip. But why does it look so different on the wall? So, I stop painting and step all the way to the other end of the kitchen to look at it. Horrible. It was horrible. And even though I knew that paint was expensive, I also knew I couldn’t live with that color.

Long story short, I went back to Home Depot, picked out 2 more colors and had actual samples mixed up. (Whyyyyyyy didn’t I do that in the first place?!!) Took the samples home and painted one of them on the wall in several places. Why only one? Because when I opened the second sample, I had picked out the exact color I currently have on the walls (which I had no way of knowing since it was painted before we bought the house). In the end I went with the original color (which is a very neutral non-color named Smoked Oyster) all over again! Maybe that was a good thing since this mini fiasco put me behind by three hours. Gah. At least the kitchen looks fresh and clean, even if it is the same color!

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I mentioned that the other thing I had planned was a mini-reunion with my ninth grade biology partner. Mr. Helen was really fascinated by the whole thing. As he was born and raised in the city we currently live in, he has lots of ex-girlfiriends history here. For all of our relationship, it has always been me who has done the meeting of old friends. I moved too many times time to count growing up so the fact that I even had a friend that went that far back was amazing to Mr. Helen. What astonished him even more was that when Dave walked into the house and started telling the story of how we became friends, Mr. Helen said he told it almost word for word as I did.

When I went into 9th grade, I was once again a new kid in town. To make matters worse it was the second move in as many years. Believe me, it’s hard when you’re 14 years old and you literally have no childhood friends except your little brother. The one redeeming thing about this move was that the high school was a regional high school which meant that 5 different towns sent kids there. Even though I was a new kid, everything was new to everyone else too. First day of biology class, the teacher tells everyone to find someone and partner up. I’m not usually shy but I think I was just overwhelmed with everything and so, I did not choose. A couple of minutes later the teacher asks, “OK, who does not have a partner?” Dave and I were the only two in the room who raised their hands, and the rest is history! As it turned out we had many, many classes together and became the best of buddies for the next two years. Then I moved.

As you can imagine moving again was quite unsettling and horrifying to a 16 year old (and the reason why I doubled up credits and graduated a year early from high school). Dave was my one friend who stayed in touch through college and even through my move to Africa. The last time I saw him, he had just graduated from Brown University and I was back in the USA. He had come to the area I live in to go protest the building of a nuclear submarine or something like that – yep he was a bit of a tree hugger. Then we just lost touch, until a couple of years ago through the magic of Facebook he popped up as a recommended friend for me.

I am so glad that he did and our reunion was wonderful! Do you realize how hard it is to catch up over 30 years in just 4 hours? Hard people. But we had a grand time trying! The only thing we wished is that he had thought to bring his yearbook – but next time – as we are going to try to make this an at least a once a year thing.

No photos that are blasts from the past, but we took a couple on Memorial Day. Dave told me he would send me the ones taken with his better camera but not until he gets back to Cali – his 90 year old parents don’t have a computer, can you believe it?!! For now, here is one that Mr. Helen took with my crappy iPhone camera because of course, I couldn’t find my brand new camera (which I eventually found buried in my brand new pocketbook – but that’s a story for another post.)

He's just the same (I swear, he still only weighs 135 lbs. soaking wet!) and he says I am too... at the same time, we are better versions of our 16 year old selves - a little older, grayer (not me!), and lots wiser.