Friday, August 31, 2012

On the Road Again

Yes, we're heading out tomorrow at (as Butch likes to say) "o-dark thirty." Really, we're getting up at 4 a.m. Butch and I are flying in to Boston to meet up with Walter and Chris. From there, we're renting a car and driving through New England. We may be slightly too early for the changing of the leaves, but that's okay. It's supposed to be a relaxing trip with plenty of stitching time for Chris and I. We'll see. Butch and Walter have done all the planning. I'm not sure what all we're doing. Each day is going to be a surprise. I'll take you along---I'm supposed to have plenty of leisure time, so plan to keep up with my blog.

The girls came over for "happy hour" tonight and then we went to the club for dinner.
Mindy was supposed to be in New Orleans this weekend. Due to Hurricane Isaac, she had to cancel her plans. They actually opened the airport on Friday, but by then, she couldn't get a flight. She's making the best of it by planning a lot of activities for the long weekend. She and Steph are hanging out tonight.

Butch has given the girls all the instructions for feeding his fish (both inside and out), picking up the mail, newspaper and any possible packages. They also have to pick our car up on Sunday from the airport. We didn't want to inconvenience any of them to take us to the airport at 4:30 a.m.!!

One last thing. I've posted a bunch of new layouts on the AYM blog. Just click on the AYM button on the right.

My next report will be from the road.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Happy Hour

We continue to have our family "happy hours" on Friday nights. They start whenever the girls get off work---which is usually 3:30 or 4:30. We've all come to really look forward to this time as a chance to catch up with each other from the previous week, discuss current events and local news, discuss our weekend plans and sort out any other family matters.

Knowing us, it follows a pretty strict format. Nobody can discuss anything until the whole family is here---well, except for Nicky who doesn't usually get here until 5:30. Before he gets here, we discuss stuff that would be of little interest to him.

Once we begin, each person brings up one topic for discussion. Once that topic has been exhausted, we move to the next person going clockwise. If the person that started has another topic, they have to wait until it's their turn again. This way, everyone has equal time. It keeps us focused. If we don't approach it this way, we end up having several topics going at the same time and never fully discuss anything. The conversation jumps all around.

Sometimes we have some pretty stupid discussions that go on for way too long---like tonight, Mindy asked something about the population of greater Nashville compared to St. Louis. OMG! Butch actually new numbers and statistics. I didn't quite believe it, so Steph checked the internet via her phone. For crying out loud---how in the world does he know that there are 94 municipalities in St. Louis? I finally put a halt to this topic.

When it was my turn, I didn't have a single thing personally to report since I haven't been out of the house since a week ago Thursday. But, I did talk to Sandy, so I got to give a Lapps Family update.

The Lapps have moved to Charlotte, North Carolina. It's been a crazy, busy summer for them. All 3 kids are in Catholic schools, but they are all different. Mitchell is in the 10th grade. His first couple of days have gone pretty well and he's made a couple of friends. He's not used to such a big school---1000 students. He said that the school he came from---if you were new, everyone knew it. Here, you have to tell people that you are new.

Victoria is in middle school and so far, so good. 6th grade can be tough. But, luckily for her, everyone is new at this school. She has met a couple of girls and it seems to be going pretty good.

Elizabeth has a problem of a different sort. She's in the 2nd grade and has always been outgoing and popular, so we felt like she'd adjust pretty quickly. She says that everyone is pulling on her, "sit here Elizabeth", "sit with me Elizabeth." She told Sandy that she didn't know what to do. Oh, to have such problems!

Greg loves the new job. He's still trying to negotiate the traffic. Sandy, too, is trying to figure out her best route. Their house in Kalamazoo sold right away and they've found a house in Charlotte. They are planning a door to door move around the first of October. Meanwhile, they are in a furnished apartment. Sandy said it is really close quarters for 5---not to mention one couch. I think she needs to institute the universal rule: "calling place back!"

We discussed Mindy's "cush" job---basically she works 3 1/2 days a week. She's says that's about to change as she moves to a new practice next week in Rome, GA. She'll be there until the end of the year. It's only a 3 hour drive from Nashville and she comes home on Thursday night.

She's made another necklace that's pretty cute. She's going to New Orleans for Labor Day weekend. She has to get down there about every 4 months or so. She'll be there for Gay Mardi Gras and staying with her friend, Rachel who lives on top of Emiril's. They still have friends there too.

Steph told us about her new Bunco club in her neighborhood. She said it was pretty fun and it looks like there will be some interesting people. Turns out, Morgan has babysat for several of them. She met another gal who needs a ride for her daughter to SCA, so another source of income for Morgan. Both Jordan and Morgan are settling in to their school year.

Blah, blah, blah.  I realize that this post sounds more like a boring report. There's just nothing all that interesting going on with me right now. I did get a layout done this morning. Considering I should be off scrapbooking for the whole weekend, I'm glad I got to play in my room. It took me quite awhile to get started. I couldn't seem to focus. Hopefully, tomorrow I'll be more productive. I'll share soon.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Things That Define Us

It's been nearly a week since I posted. Most of you know why. My hives are giving me fits. I was in bed from last Friday afternoon until Tuesday. Even out of bed, I've been laying around too weak to do much. I've had to cancel my trip to St. Louis to go scrapbooking with Jeanne and Janet. I hate that. I miss spending a little time with my cousin. I miss seeing Aunt Marie.

So here's the deal. Many things can define you, but I think that we each have a defining moment. And we have control over what that will be. The problem is that we don't think about it and before you know it, our defining moment has been set. I believe my hives have defined me. They have taken over who I am. I hate it. I'm done with it. From right now, my hives are taking a backseat. I'm happy that I've still been able to resist the prednisone. But now, I'm quitting it all! Nothing's working anyway.

I know it sounds like big talk, but I've had it. 13 years has been enough. At least I feel good declaring that my hives are not going to define me. Right now. Today.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Early Morning is My Time

I just love the mornings---4 a.m to be exact. The house is quiet. And for at least a couple of hours, my time is my own.  I use the time to catch up on blogs and compose a post or two of my own. I'm feeling a little behind this week as my hives are still raging. I've managed to resist the prednisone. But I can definitely see how drug addicts are lured in. It would be so easy---just one pill and all this itching would go away. But one pill wouldn't be enough and I'd be right back where I started. I have a good jump on this weight loss and really don't want to start all over. Each morning I think they have subsided some and then the itching starts. Oh well, this can't last much longer. At least I hope not. Benadryl helps a little. It's something.
It's kind of hard to take a picture one-handed of your back. This was the best I could do without getting pornographic. But imagine this on your entire lower torso. Still, I think they are on the way out.

Does anyone notice what's wrong with this picture? It's the iron. I don't iron. I haven't ironed in years. I had to get it out because I was getting ready to start a cross stitch project and the linen had to be ironed. A few years ago, a friend (who apparently didn't know me so well) gave me this bottle of scented linen water. I must say, it smelled so good to iron with it, I was half way tempted to start ironing again. Not really. I just take my most wrinkled clothes on trips with me. That way, it looks like they just came out of the suitcase. Yep, that's it.
 This is a little glimpse of my latest needlepoint project. I have about another month and it will be finished. I'll unveil the whole thing then. That's the thing I love about working on a scroll frame. You roll it up as you go. When you are finished and unroll it, it's like a beautiful surprise.
Everyone knows that Stephanie is not a cook. She takes a lot of ribbing from the family about it and luckily is good natured about it. In fact, while we were on vacation this summer, the subject of leftovers came up. Steph mentioned that her girls didn't really like leftovers---to which Jordan quipped, "why would we like leftovers, we didn't like it the first go round." One could think back to many of Stephanie's "tries"---those "mouthwash" tasting Rice Krispie treats during the holidays---or most notoriously---her venture in to making a turkey that she started at 6 p.m. to have for dinner on the same night. She called me at 9:30 to ask how long it was going to take.

Well, here is a cornish game hen, stuffed with oyster dressing. When she sent me the picture, I was quite impressed. My only question---if you are not a cook to begin with, what makes you attempt something as gourmet as this? She said that it turned out delicious. I believe her. Of course, she did call her dad to find out which side was the breast. Maybe she's not quite there yet!


Monday, August 13, 2012

Family Crafts

 Last Saturday, Stephanie, Mindy and Morgan came over to decorate cooler cups for their friends.
They made 15 of them. There was only one boo boo, but we were able to get the paint off really quick.  
They planned to go out to the pool after, so Steph had me cut her out of this picture. I did look a little odd---sitting in her swim suit. Notice how I have my foam stamps organized? I attached a little piece of velcro to a piece of cardboard. They are much easier to store this way instead of the jumbled mess they were. Plus you can find the letter you need right away without having to look at each one.
I'm such and impulse buyer. I went to Walgreens for Benadryl and came home with this. It's never too soon to start thinking about Christmas!

Speaking of Benadryl---my hives are raging. Nothing seems to be helping. They are the size of grapefruits. I'm trying to just suffer through. I'm determined to stay off the prednisone. It's been a week now. I'm trying to just "offer them up." Remember that? Offering up sacrifices to God. Here's what really keeps me going. As I'm feeling miserable, I think about Louis Zamperini from the book Unbroken. What that man endured is beyond my imagination.

If there's a bright side to my hives, it's that I am not running a fever and have the flu-like symptoms that normally accompany them. I thank God for that. At least I'm able to carry on. I did discover that as long as I'm in the pool, I don't itch at all. Too bad I can't figure out how to get work done while I'm floating.

I debated with myself as to whether I would mention this here---it's so sad. But I decided to as a cautionary tale. Stephanie's best friend, Merrill---her sister (are you following?) accidentally left her 5 month old in her car. Later in the day, when she returned to daycare to pick him up, they told her she hadn't dropped him off. She ran to her car and discovered the awful truth. The funeral was Saturday. It was the saddest thing I've ever experienced. The mother just wailed. There are absolutely no words for that kind of situation.

I'm a little on pins and needles. Another friend of mine died suddenly the week before last. Her service was last Saturday. People always say these sort of things happen in threes. I hope it's not true this time.

On a happier note---Jordan and Morgan are gearing up to go back to school. I'll be taking Jordan for her registration on Wednesday. Butch is going with Morgan on Thursday. All they need us for is check writing. I'm half tempted to just send them with the checkbook.

Excuse me as I have a date with my new best friend---my hive scratcher!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

My Fitbit Turns out to be a Smart Aleck

Yesterday I get the message that I've climbed the world's tallest sand castle. I only did 2 flights of stairs on Tuesday. Today, I get the message that I climbed the world's tallest corn stalk! I had no idea that my new Fitbit could be such a smart aleck. Now I have to explain.
Do you know what this is? If you said vegetable scrubber, you would be wrong. It's my hive scratcher!

You know on Monday how I was so excited about my new Fitbit and the workout I got? Well, I must have overdone it. I got on the treadmill that morning, went to Curves, then went to Sam's, Lowes and Home Depot. I ended up logging more than 10,000 steps. I was really excited that I could really do this. But then, by bedtime, I was paying for it. It was like I had on "hive socks." From the ankle down, my feet were one solid hive. I could hardly sleep all night for the itching. I'm determined not to take the prednisone, so I just "offered it up." I ended up "sleeping in" to make up for the night. Butch went to the drugstore to get me some Benadryl for the itching. It helped some---not 100%, but enough to take away the misery. I didn't do much of anything yesterday which is why I got the sand castle message. I didn't do much today either. My hives have spread some---up my shins, my hand, up the side of my right thigh and my right ear is twice the size of the left. I don't know what I would do without my "hive scratcher." None of the allergy medicines are working---in fact, I've taken one of everything at the same time---Allegra, Claritin, and Zyrtec. I'm not happy with this turn of events.

The only good thing---if I look at it that way---I haven't gotten sick with the normal flu-like symptoms and fever that my hives usually descend to that puts me to bed for days. I'm really hoping that doesn't happen. So far, I've been able to carry on with my normal routine---with the exception of the exercise. I'm just trying to ride them out. I'm determined to stay off of the pred!n

So with that, I'll leave you with the new layouts on the AYM blog.

Monday, August 6, 2012

I climbed the neck of a tall giraffe!

That's the message I got when I logged into my Fitbit today. Unfamiliar with a Fitbit? Basically, it's an electronic pedometer. But it does a whole lot more than just count steps. It tracks the flights of stairs that you've climbed. It tracks the miles you've logged. It tracks the calories you've burned. It also tracks your sleep pattern and tells you the quality by percentage of your sleep. I wore it last night and found out that I actually woke up 18 times. My sleep quality was only 83%.

The Fitbit syncs with your computer---and there's an app for that. You can log in your food and water. It keeps track of everything.

Mindy was the first one in the family to get it. She liked it so much that she talked Steph into going in with her to buy Butch one for his birthday and Father's day. It's $100. Steph got a good discount on hers ($72.00) through her work---you know how all businesses are encouraging fitness these days.

I was on the fence about the Fitbit because physically, I cannot do what Mindy does (or Steph or Butch either). Besides Curves every morning (before she started traveling) she ran and even did a boot camp at the Y. After running the stairs at the park, she got the message: "Congratulations! You have just climbed the equivalent of the St. Louis Arch!" I wanted to know if it takes your weight in to consideration when achieving goals. I want a message when I walk from my parked car to the mall entrance like: "Congratulations! You have just walked the equivalent of the Miracle Mile!"

It doesn't quite work like that. You choose your own goals---10,000 steps, 10 flights of stairs, or 5 miles a day. Right off, I was mad about that. Those are too lofty of goals for me. When you first register it, you put in your height, weight and age. There's one other category that makes it all worthwhile for me--your active score. That gives you a percentage of how active you are for the day. That's where it takes in to account your weight to activity ratio. The symbol on the Fitbit is a little flower---that grows throughout the day if your activity level is higher than expected. No one told me about that. I discovered it on my own. That's where I do well every day. This morning, my flower grew the longest I'd seen it yet. In a way, this thing makes you want to do more stuff (you can also log any other activity that you do when you aren't wearing it---like swimming). I just want to see what messages come up.

The Fitbit greets me each morning with "Good morning, Barbara!" It's almost like a little pet. Today, I dropped it on the marble bathroom floor. I though, "uh oh, that can't be good." I picked it up and it said, "hug me!" Poor baby, that fall must have hurt.

Already, it's motivated me to get back on the treadmill. I'm lovin' it (not the treadmill, the Fitbit). Of course, this family can't do anything without turning it into a competition. Butch and Mindy put together an "Eads Family Group." We're each ranked. Currently, I'm in last, but this is really my first week to take it seriously. I ended up taking it off last week at the beach when I almost got in the pool with it on.

Since I've been off the prednisone, I've lost 19 lbs. I've got a long way to go, but I lose at the rate of 6 lbs. a month without doing anything. Maybe with the motivation of the Fitbit, I can make that 10 lbs. a month. Only 50 lbs. more to go. All of a sudden, that doesn't sound so bad. I'm pumped! Of course, the message I'll get when I reach that goal will be something like: "Congratulations! You've reached your goal. Too bad you have that loose elephant skin!"

Check it out for yourself here: Fitbit

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Home Sweet Home!

It's always so good to get home after a trip. We got on the road by 6:30 a.m. We made 3 stops---Preisters Pecans---where we sampled all flavors of pecans and dips, but left without a purchase. Next stop was Peach Park---we just had to take some peaches, and cantaloupe, and tomatoes, and okra, home---and we just had to have one more fresh peach ice cream cone. Our final stop was for gas and lunch at Five Guys (hamburgers) in Cullman, Alabama. We were home by 3 p.m. A very nice ride without much traffic.

The girls came for happy hour. Originally, we thought it was cancelled since Mindy wasn't supposed to get home until later. But, Steph called to see if we were "on." Butch said "yes." About 10 minutes after that, Mindy called to say she'd gotten home early. When she found out we were having happy hour, she said, "humph, I thought it was cancelled! Be there in 10." The girl doesn't want to miss a thing. Butch and I really have come to enjoy this Friday "kick off" to our weekend. It gives us all a chance to catch up with each other from the week.

I had planned to invite Stephanie and Nicky to stay for dinner. I brought fresh jumbo shrimp home from the beach. I decided to put them on the grill. Not to miss out, Mindy decided to stay---even though she doesn't like shrimp---it's a texture thing. We don't really get that since she loves crawfish and even sucks the heads! Gross! Anyway, I didn't really even have enough shrimp for her.

Butch asked me what I was going to do with the shrimp---marinate them, or put a sauce on them. I hadn't really figured that out. I'm not a "think up new stuff on your own" type of cook. So I did the next best thing. I called my cajun friends, the Broussards. Bruce and Karolyn know how to cook just about anything. Bruce advised peeling the shrimp, tossing them with olive oil, lime juice and Paul Prudhomme's blackened seasoning (they knew I had that from my fish tacos at the beach) and then grilling them. They were sooo good. Even Mindy decided she liked them. I sacrificed 2 of mine for her.
I rounded out the meal with a big salad and lima beans. Mindy loves limas and thought that at least she could have the salad with them.

After clean up, the girls left. We started watching the olympics around 8. Butch won't admit this, but I think he must have really missed me. He was quite chatty all evening. That's not like him. He's usually pretty quiet. I would say that it started to annoy me, but actually, I would never want to discourage him. That's his way of saying he missed me without actually saying it. I'm sure!

I'm off today to meet Mindy at the Apple store. It's tax free weekend. She's buying herself a MacBook Air. Her old Mac is from college. It still works, but is heavy and a bit slow.  She's excited. I'm going because I never pass up a chance to go to the Apple store. That place amazes me. It's always packed. Today is going to be a zoo. We're getting there a half hour before the store opens to stand in line. Hopefully we'll be out by 11. Hopefully...


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

How do you spell FUN??

B*E*A*C*H!! That's how...

Last night we played Rummikub. I won $10.00 which puts me ahead $12.35 for the week. I love games! With or without gambling.
 It's awfully hard to meld with this rack. Still I won 4 games, but not this one. I hadn't played in years. It is so much fun. Karolyn is on the left---Pam on the right.
Linda is on the left.

Today was a gorgeous day. We spent the first part on the beach and then in the pool. We were the first to christen it.
 It was so very cool and refreshing---compared to my warm pool at home and the hot pool across the street! In another week, it will probably be pretty warm too.
The pool is little, but, we did the math. It can hold 7 floats, or 42 kids on noodles.

Here are a few shots of the house:

We're so fortunate to have such good friends that have summer homes! It's so much fun to get away once in awhile. Wait---I get away pretty darn much, don't I?

Next trip---St. Louis at the end of the month. Boston and New England in September. It's definitely fun to be ME!! I'm not bragging, I'm just lucky!