Friday, August 28, 2015

Missing her

Apparently today is going to be a I-miss-Rebekah-so-much-I-can-hardly-stand-it sort of day. It crept up and sort of surprised me this morning and I'm not sure why.

Maybe because yesterday was her 100 day mark out on the mission?
Or because I went to the farewell of her best friend and college roommate on Sunday?
And then seeing all the pictures of her family dropping her at the MTC on Wednesday brought back so many of my own memories?
Or maybe because I put together and sent a package to her yesterday and had to fill out all the customs forms to get it to her in London?
Or because in preparation to send that package I spent some time down in her bedroom trying to find her scripture stickers and was overwhelmed with nostalgia seeing all of her things?
Maybe it's because I've been talking with the mothers of some of her high school friends who are also on missions about planning a little missionary momma get together?
Or because this weekend is my birthday and last year even though she had just left for college, she came home to celebrate with me...but this year she can't?
Or maybe perhaps because this morning I stumbled across the blog of a senior missionary couple who have posted not only numerous pictures of their time in London and the Hyde Park Chapel Visitors Centre, but also of Rebekah and the other Visitor Centre I'd never seen before?

It could be any one or all of these things together...or maybe none of them at all. Do I even need a reason, really? I miss her every single day. I am so incredibly proud of her. I'm so glad she is in London...serving, sharing and loving. Today though, the tears are flowing and my heart hurts. It's just one of those days.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Getting inked

Bryan and I went on a date this week that we won't soon forget. From the new and unusual experience, the pain involved, and the fact that the result from said date will be obviously with us for many, many years to come....

You see, we got tattoos.

Oh, don't get too excited. I know your mind is running away with visions of colorful artwork on a shoulder or around an ankle. No, this is very small. And purposeful. Bryan and I now sport matching tattoo wedding rings on our left hands.

A few months ago I randomly came across an article about wedding ring tattoos. It was an interesting idea and the pictures were kind of neat. The author made comments about the serious commitment and maybe even daring that must have gone into getting a tattoo like this...obviously having to do with the idea that most couples in this day and age wouldn't outlast a tattoo. You can take off a wedding ring after a divorce, but not so much a tattoo. I finished the article and filed it away in the back of my brain as random bits of minutiae.

But then a few weeks later I found Bryan's wedding ring on the bedside table. It continued to sit there for the next few days. I knew he took it off frequently for activities such as shooting and weight lifting, but I was worried that it might get accidentally knocked off the bedside table and lost. I mentioned it to him. Did he need a better place to keep his ring if he didn't wear it often? Bryan lamented the difficulty of taking off and putting back on the ring. It fit fine, he said....but was really hard and somewhat painful to get over his knuckle. I related. My problem, especially in the summer? My fingers swell in the heat. The past few months I've only been wearing one band (rather than the three that make up my wedding set) because of swelling. I told Bryan just in passing about the wedding ring tattoo article I had read a few weeks earlier. He expressed interest and asked me to email him the link. Later that day I got an email back from him with the words, "I could get really excited about this."

I'm guessing he probably thought that would be it, that I wouldn't ever consider a tattoo of any kind. Somehow though, this appealed to me. I emailed him back and said I would be interested in doing some research and having further discussion.

So we did various reading on our own and shared what we had learned with each other. We talked about different type of symbols or bands we would maybe be interested in having inked. But between Bryan's busy work schedule filled with deadlines and my surgery, the discussions were short and infrequent, even though interest remained high.

Tuesday was date night. We decided on sushi at Happy Sumo downtown Salt Lake City. And while we were downtown...checking out a few tattoo parlors to ask some questions. In our research we had read that some tattoo artist consider themselves exactly that, an artist....with the thought of a tiny little finger tattoo beneath them. Would something so small be worth their time? And if so, did they have experience in finger tattoos? Apparently it takes some expertise to work on such a small and awkward canvas.

The closet tattoo parlor to where we planned to have dinner was Lost Art Tattoo on State Street. I tell you what, it was completely bizarre to walk into the place. Never in my life before had I ever had the desire to visit a tattoo parlor. We walked into the lobby and Alex poked his head out of the back. We told him what we were there for. We asked him question after question. He answered our questions and gave us lots of experienced advice. See, not only had he inked many finger tattoos, he also had every finger on his own hands inked as well. He had experience with doing the tattoo, and also what they felt like and how they recovered as opposed to other areas of your body. (Fingers can be slightly more painful and take longer to fully heal.)

When we showed Alex a picture of the symbol we were considering and asked him how long it would take to do something like that, he said it would only take ten minutes...that he could do it right then and there. Bryan and I looked at each other. This had not been our original plan for the evening. And it was only the first parlor we had checked out. But Alex had been so wonderful in answering all of our questions and taking seriously our concerns...despite some of them likely being kind of silly. He clearly had experience. Should we just do it?

We decided YES!

Alex made a drawing of what we wanted and then made a template of it. He got everything ready to go while we were filling out papers and then called us to the back room. Pictures all over the walls of past jobs, flags on the ceiling from countries they have done tattoo work in. A very colorful place. Bryan went first. Alex told us that we were likely expecting something much worse in regards to pain than it would actually be...all the same I watched Bryan closely for flinching. (He didn't.) The whole process was rather fascinating. Clean up and re-set in between the two of us was rather extensive. I was impressed. Soon it was my turn. And yeah, the pain wasn't as bad as I expecting but it did hurt! Certain areas hurt worse than others. If I had to describe the pain I would say it felt like a being cut by a very small and precise knife, or sometimes even a burning sensation. (I'm proud to say I didn't flinch either.)

Bryan and I are delighted with the end result! We chose to ink infinity symbols on our ring fingers, as a reminder of forever. I will likely still wear my wedding rings over the tattoo frequently. I love my wedding bands. But this ink somehow feels to me like a renewal of vows, in a way. Bryan and I have had a lot of ups and downs over the past 22 years. But somehow despite difficulties at various points in our marriage, we've chosen to cling to each other even more fiercely...coming out on the other side of a trying time a little bruised and bloody perhaps, but still committed. This ring tattoo feels to me like just that, a wedding ring. And a reminder of the vows we have made even when we are not wearing our actual rings...boundless commitment. I have no desire to get other tattoos on any other part of my body. But to have matching infinity symbols permanently inked into our ring fingers...well, that just feels like I'm tying myself even further to my husband. We are in this for the long haul. For this life and beyond. We make the choice to love each other every day, even through the hard times. We can't just take off these new wedding rings.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Celebrating 22 years in Park City

Bryan and I celebrated 22 years of marriage this summer. Realizing that our kids were clearly old enough to hold down the fort on their own without the aid of a grandma or aunt babysitter, we decided to book an overnighter in Park City for some alone time.

We headed up the canyon on Thursday evening after work and checked into the Torchlight Inn, an awesome little bed and breakfast across the street from Park City's historic Main Street. It was such a charming and homey little place...we were delighted! Bryan and I both decided we'd like to stay there again on repeat visits in the future. I especially loved the history behind it. An excerpt from their welcome letter in our room:

"The Torchlight Inn was once the site of a very famous brothel during the Silver Rush. When mining was no longer lucrative, miners left in droves leaving abandoned properties everywhere. Many of the ladies of the evening could not afford to leave Park City and so remained here. One night a major fire destroyed many buildings on what is now Deer Valley Drive, including the building that was on this current site. The madam was one of the souls who perished in the fire. Some say she still walks the halls so we leave a torchlight on for her."
The view from our balcony looking over towards historic Main Street.

This ornate and colorful wooden door stood up on the hill just off our balcony. I climbed up and inspected it a bit. As we checked out the next day I asked the owner of the place what the story was behind it. He said he liked to tell people that the door was left from the site's brothel days....rather than the true story, that when they took over ownership the door was just stuck up there in a mound of cement from the previous idea why. I told him I liked his first story best and he should just stick with that.

After checking getting settled into the Torchlight Thursday night, we headed over to Main Street in search of some dinner and sightseeing. We ate so much BBQ that we practically had to waddle back to our room....but it sure was yummy.
The next morning after a fabulous homemade breakfast at the Torchlight, we headed over to the Park City Mountain Resort and took a ski lift way up the mountain side. The ride itself took quite awhile and it was really nice to have so much time to enjoy the views. We could literally feel the change in temperature the higher we got. Once at the top we followed a winding trail through the trees for a few hours. Eventually we had hiked our way over to a different chair lift that we took back down.

My original plans had us riding the alpine slides or coaster at that point. But dark clouds had gathered and we barely made it to our car in time before the rain came pouring down. Plan B had us heading to the Park City library instead where we spent the next few hours reading. Kind of nice, have some uninterrupted reading time seeing as both of us were in the middle of good books. When the weather perked back up we made our way back over to Main Street to try out a different restaurant for dinner...we had found quite a few the night before that sounded yummy. This time we hit an Irish pub which usually I quite enjoy. This one was only so-so...but the atmosphere was fun.

After dinner we headed up to Deer Valley to find ourselves a spot on the lawn for the Utah Symphony concert. They were playing the music from Disney's "Fantasia" that night. I was worried it would rain on us again, but the evening stayed dry even if it did get really chilly after the sun went down. We've been to multiple Utah Symphony concerts over the years but always in the grand Abravanel Hall in Salt Lake City. It was fun to experience the more casual atmosphere of the Deer Valley amphitheater. Kind of hard to beat the combination of gorgeous scenery and gorgeous music all under the starts cuddled up under a blanket with my sweetheart.
We headed home right after the concert and while I wished we could've stayed one more night, it sure was a great anniversary celebration. Happy 22nd to us!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Surgery story

I had a dream a few nights ago that I had twin babies. A girl and a boy. And then they died. And I sobbed. Morbid, I know. I have fairly realistic dreams, however I'm not one to really delve deep into the meaning behind them. If I have a dream about snakes I really don't consider it "a powerful symbol representing the awakening or continuance of spiritual growth" (as it says in "The Dream Book" that we read for book club a few years ago). I just know that I am terrified of snakes! I think my dreams tend to take the details, detritus and incidentals of the day and turn them into dreams as my brain works through them and decides what to keep and what to throw out....things I've read or watched, conversations I've had, people I've spent time with, thoughts I've been thinking. So a lot of times I will know exactly why and how a particular dream came to bizarre as it may be.

In this case, I'm pretty sure I know why I dreamed of babies dying. I had a hysterectomy two and a half weeks ago. It was a planned and needed surgery. Without going too far into TMI territory, let me just say that my uterus among other parts of my innards were basically falling....something that is not uncommon and also hereditary. (My mother, two of her sisters and her mother had this exact same problem and subsequent surgery.) My doctor told me many years ago that this was happening and that at some point I would need to have a surgery to take out the uterus and to repair things. This past June at my yearly exam my doctor informed me that the insides that were slowly but surely falling had indeed made it to the pelvic floor and it was time. Though it wasn't an emergency or in any way critical to have the surgery immediately, looking at our family schedule Bryan and I decided that sooner rather than later would probably be easier seeing as this summer was a bit light as far as vacations and other such commitments go. So I scheduled the surgery (four procedures in all) for three weeks later, July 21st.

In talking with my doctor, my mother and other friends who have had a hysterectomy I started to prepare myself for what to expect in terms of recovery. One friend told me to prepare for the emotional aspect. Having a hysterectomy meant of course the removal of any chance of ever having children again. And as a woman, would the loss of this reproductive ability make me feel less feminine, even if at a subconscious level? Would I grieve even if I already felt like my family was complete? I didn't give too much thought to this aspect of recovery. Because though I know that many woman are faced with a hysterectomy before they are ready, for reasons such as cancer or endometriosis damage, etc and grieve the loss of more child bearing years...this wasn't the case with me. We already had a delayed caboose baby. There is a 6-year gap between Lilian and Brandon as it is and Lilian is now 8-years old. I'm nearly 42-years old. I've known for a long time that our family is complete. I did not expect to have any emotional angst with having a hysterectomy. On the contrary, I was rather excited about the prospect of chucking the birth control pills and tampons!

But when I woke up in tears after dreaming that my twin babies had died, I knew immediately that at some level my body was indeed grieving. Now don't get me wrong...I am not sad. I don't want to be pregnant ever again. I have felt incredibly peaceful about being done having children for quite some time now and have no qualms whatsoever with officially ending my child bearing years. But it was rather interesting to discover that somewhere subconsciously I was saying goodbye to that part of me.

As far as the surgery itself, it went well. I was nervous, but who wouldn't be? There are always risks any time you undergo general anesthesia. I had Bryan and my father-in-law give me a blessing before going in and petitioned my family for prayers (including my sweet missionary girl in London). It took three tries to get the IV in my arm that morning (the bruises have finally just now faded). Unsurprising really, considering I do have wimpy veins, but still...ouch. Being wheeled down the hall in my hospital bed clad in my very fashionable hospital gown, blue hat and compression socks I felt a little like I had entered an episode of Grey's Anatomy and was delighted to find when I mentioned it to my nurse that she too was a fan. It was nice to have a bit of a lighthearted conversation to take my mind of my nerves before entering the OR.

General anesthesia is just weird, isn't it? This is the second time I've undergone anesthesia and though this time was better, I certainly don't love it. You're completely unconscious but you aren't truly resting like you would be had you been sleeping. Like the snap of a moment you are lying on a bed in the OR and the next second you are groggily waking up in an entirely different room. It's so disconcerting! And waking up is hard...I could barely keep my eyes open and kept dozing back off even as I was feeling like I should try to be more aware. I felt so incredibly out of it as they rolled me down the hall and into my recovery room. Bryan was there and I think I wiggled my fingers at him somewhat feebly before falling asleep again. The nurses came in every 30 minutes for the first few hours to take my vitals which would wake me up and each time it felt a little easier to keep my eyes open for a little longer.

Eventually I was able to carry on a more coherent conversation with Bryan, who was using my sleepy time to read a book, even though I told him he could go home as soon as the surgery was done. After all, I's not like we just had a baby in which he would want to stay so he could bond with his child. He smiled at me and said he wanted to stay because I was more important even than a baby and he was happily willing to give up his day at work (regardless of looming deadlines) to be with me, to help in any way he could. Whether that be feeding me ice chips, calling the nurse for me when I needed more drugs, searching for my iPhone in my bag when I wanted to send texts to the kids at home, but most importantly for moral support. And though I would've been fine without him there (my nurses were excellent), I have to admit it was incredibly comforting to have him there reading his book on the couch at the foot of my bed.

(My sister Melissa asked me if I was stoned in this selfie. haha. At the time I was trying to take a silly sort of wide-eyed is-this-crazy-or-what? sort of picture to send to Rebekah and to the other kids so they would know that all was fine. I texted it to my sisters as well. But looking back on it later...maybe I was still a little out of it? Because yeah I look, well...drugged at least! Realistically, not a single one of these hospital pictures are the least bit flattering and I'm having a hard time even posting them.)

My parents came to visit later that evening. And after they and Bryan left, I expected to get a good nights sleep considering I was still rather sleepy. That did not happen, however. I could not get comfortable. My lower back ached something fierce and I could not change positions other than to move my bed up and down. Between the IV, pulse/ox monitor, catheter, oxygen tubes up my nose and the pressure cuffs around my legs I was hooked up to so many tubes and wires that I couldn't roll to one side or the other. I got so bored...not being able to sleep but in enough pain that it was hard to concentrate on reading...that I found myself at 2:00 AM timing how often the pressure cuffs swelled up and squeezed my legs (to ward off blood clots). Just in case you are interested: every 15 seconds one cuff would blow up and squeeze my leg. After 10 seconds it would release and then 15 seconds later, the cuff on the other leg would start up. I was so miserable! Finally at 5:00 AM I called my nurse and begged for something stronger as far as pain meds go. My own fault really, I had been trying to hold off on the percocet and manage with just ibuprofen. I was worried the percocet would make me dizzy and nauseous. But by 5:00 AM I was rather desperate. And the percocet ended up becoming my new best friend. Sight dizziness but no nausea and finally, blessed sleep!

Bryan came to pick me up around 11:00 AM. It was heavenly to get rid of all those wires and tubes! I was incredibly weak, but after changing into my own clothes and picking up my prescriptions at the hospital pharmacy, I officially checked out and the nurse wheeled me down to Bryan's waiting car. Home was much more comfortable than the hospital and I settled into my own bed happily. The next few days were filled with plenty of naps, a lot of reading, binge watching "The Good Wife" on Amazon Prime, and reading chapter after chapter of Harry Potter to Lilian. I felt good enough to putter around the house more and more each day, though I would get tired incredibly quickly and have to sit or lay on the couch. But I had expected this. I tried really hard to not overdo or push myself too hard. I had heard many stories of people feeling better after the first week and jumping back into real life too soon...and then landing themselves back in bed, their recovery then extending longer than it would've normally. I didn't want to be that person. So though at times I felt a bit like a drama queen or like I was milking my recovery status as I sent my kids to find their dad to make them dinner, etc, I stayed down.

Day 6, I took a shower and decided it might be nice for morale to actually put on a bit of make-up and dry and straighten my hair...which ended up taking so much out of me I had to take a nap as soon as I was finished!)

Like I said before, it's now been two and a half weeks. I've been to see my doctor for my 2-week post op visit. He told me that the surgery itself couldn't have gone better, and that it looked like my recovery was pretty text book as well. He said that I was fine to ease back into normal life carefully but to listen to my body and rest when needed. No heavy lifting, vacuuming, mowing the lawn, etc. along with a few other restrictions for 4 more weeks. And so here I am. A hysterectomy is a pretty major surgery and boy howdy, I can feel it! But it feels really good to start getting back to myself, even if I won't be 100% for a few more weeks. It's nice to get out and about....I didn't drive a car or even leave the house for nearly two weeks. Interestingly enough I was not stir crazy. On the contrary, it was actually really nice to be more or less forced to just be still. I was not itching to get out of the house...I really enjoyed having the guilt-free time to read, sleep, and just be. After the crazy year we've had up to this point, this surgery has given me time to rejuvenate which I think was very much needed. But as wonderful as it was to be still for a few weeks, it is nice to little by little get back into the swing of things, and though I am still weak and a little sore, I am indeed on the mend.
Much thanks and kudos to not just Bryan but also Julianne and Brandon and Lilian. Julianne took over all the daily carpooling of Brandon to gymnastics and Lilian to her summer art class. She also ran errands for me, picking up odds and end things from the grocery store, and cooked her fair share of dinners for us all. Brandon mowed the lawn, vacuumed the house, emptied garbages and other household chores. And Lilian was my gopher, running to and fro to bring me things when I asked for them and tried her hardest to be a little more independent and do things for herself that normally she would've asked me to do. They all took such good care of me!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Dementors vs. Weeping Angels

We've been having a discussion at our house. And maybe we're flying our geek flag by even having this debate, but so be it. We are a family that enjoys science fiction and fantasy. Our discussion...the worst of the baddies. The creepy creatures that give us nightmares. Specifically which would you least like to run into, the one that would do the most damage to you, the creepiest, scariest, most horrifying.
So here it is: Which would be worse to deal with: Dementors or Weeping Angels?

Dementors being the creatures that guard the wizard prison Azakaban in the Harry Potter universe. The horrible, skeleton like creatures who glide (not fly like in the movie...they got that so wrong) towards you with their horrible rattling breath and rotten flesh stink, making you feel like you'll never be happy again. In fact they feed off your happy thoughts and eventually you go mad with despair. Not to mention, if you're really unlucky they may "kiss" you and the Dementors kiss is apparently worse than death because they basically suck out your soul leaving just a shell.

Weeping Angels are alien creatures from Doctor Who....stone angel statues so named because of their tendency to keep their hands over their eyes so as to not accidentally look at each other. This makes them look as though they are crying. They feed off their victim's time energy. They constantly come ever closer every time you blink and to keep them at bay you have to stare at's the only way to keep them "quantum locked." (Which is why they cover their eyes from each other as well.) They are creepy and scary...their faces serene and bland until they get closer when their features become more demonic with vampire teeth and clawing hands. They can move very quickly and silently and also through images. Their touch you and send you back in time to live out your life in the past while they feed off the time energy you would've had in the present. However, they have also been known to snap your neck and rearrange your brains if it suits their desires.

So which is worse? I'm not sure we ever decided. Running into a Dementor seems to be the least desirable the two. However if you know how to produce a patronus charm, you can definitely fight them off. Weeping Angels will indeed get you if you are the one that have set their sights on. It's pretty hard to escape a Weeping Angel...I mean really, eventually you will lose the staring contest. Weeping Angels always win, but most likely (you know, if they don't decide to rip your head off) you'll just get sent back to live your life in the past.

I have had nightmares of Weeping Angels. More than once. But never nightmares of Dementors. Does that say anything? Maybe Weeping Angels are the creepiest but the Dementors are the most dangerous? I'm not sure. But there you have it. A discussion for a Wednesday afternoon.