Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Clydas the Cancer patient - Sugery on Friday!

Clydas' surgery is booked for Friday.  He'll be going in at 8am and coming home later that night. I'm looking forward to having him better.
Keeping my fingers crossed that rehab goes smoothly and quickly - and that he won't be left with too much of a limp.

"I'd like a sexpresso with a side of boobage please."

I was warned that Seattlites LOVE their coffee. Which is generally true even here on the penninsula. There are coffee stands all over the place.  Nearly each one has a gimick. For example, one is shaped like a tug boat and is across the street from the marina.

When I saw one advertise "Family Friendly", I started to wonder. I mean, what makes a tiny drive up coffee house "family friendly"? Really good hot chocolate? Free hot cider to kids?
Then we figured it out, though I must admit, I was a bit naive.
Across the street is Fantasy Espresso and a stand called the Natte Latte.
At first, I chuckled, thinking, "Wow, they are desperate to sell their coffee. Using sex appeal? Really? How sexy is coffee?"

Apparently - very sexy -
   When it's served by women in pasties and thongs.

Yup, that's right. Drive up to the tinted windows (which are cut especially low so the girls have to bend over to take your order and give your coffee if you're not in a jacked-up truck) and you too can get flirted with and an $8 coffee.

While I enjoy Pastries rather than Pasties with my coffee-style beverages, I must admit, the whole idea made me chuckle. I mean  - seriously?! I guess it speaks to the...er... stiff coffee competition out here that you have to resort to that in order to sell your product. It causes quite a stir in newspapers and the like, but I get a chuckle out of it. If there wasn't a market for it, it wouldn't be open every day. 

Anyway, I thought it was funny, so there ya go!
Anyone for some sexpresso?

Sunday, September 25, 2011

My four-legged Life - A Clydas Update

So this adorable 4-legged, 54 pound ball of brindle fur pretty much ran my life for the last week. Understanding that our pets are mortal reminds me to let go of the little things in life and just roll with the punches a bit better.

Since his diagnosis, Clydas has been allowed to cuddle with the "parents" (me and My Sailor) more often at night. He gets a couple more treats a day (his weight is under control), and he gets a new toy more often (usually My Sailor's doing).  He gets a few more random scratches throughout the day and a little less scolding (from both of us).

Yes, he's "just a dog".  But if you've ever owned a dog, then you "get it".

"In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn't merely try to train him to be semi human.  The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming partly a dog.  ~Edward Hoagland"

Clydas has taught me a lot about life over his 7 years so far. When I got him, I expected to be the teacher, but sometimes I think he's taught me more valuable things than I've taught him. He's seen me collapse into a sobbing mess when I thought my world was crumbling, and taught me what a good friend is - someone who loves you even when you're a mess. He's seen me rise to the occasion - and reminds me that each day is "the occasion" worth rising to. He's been my traveling companion - and in doing so, he's taught me the value of a good walk in a small town. Through his occasional slobber and (more than occasional) gas, he's taught me that life will continue, even if there is fur on your clothes. In fact, sometimes life is more fun when you get down and dirty. 

Of course, in his world, there is little that a new squeaky toy can't fix. In the human world, it isn't THAT simple - there is little that a pair of perked up ears and a wagging nub can't soothe.

It's pretty obvious that I take my responsibility as a good pet owner very seriously. It's a title I want to earn every day. I know Clydas won't live forever, but I think it's part of my duty to give him the best, most comfortable life I can while he is around. After all, he's been my stead fast buddy (and some would joke one of the most stable males in my life over the past near-decade), so it's the least I can do. 

With some good news bolstering my spirits (the knowledge that his cancer does not appear to be spreading), I know Clydas will be in good hands as he undergoes surgery this week.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

People That Don't Cook

Disney World 2004
Maybe it's me trying to take my mind off the dog, but I've noticed a scary phenomenon going on around here.

My Sailor and I have 7 people living in the 3 apartments surrounding us. Of those 7 people, 2 of the households don't cook.
At all.


No salad.

No fruit.

No veggies.

No cooking. Ever.

One household has 2 young children and 1 adult in it and they have Schwann's frozen meals delivered. The other household has 2 adults, one of which travels for work, and they exist on take-out.

This is pretty frightening to me. If my neighbors represent a subsection of the United States, than it's a safe assumption that just about 1/2 of the population has no idea what is really in their food. And those 2 kids that grow up might not have any idea what is in their food, much less know how to prepare a meal. Do they know that meat comes from butchered animals? Do they know which veggies are hybrids and which are natural?

Around our house, we cook at least one meal a day. Even when I lived alone, I cooked every day, at least one meal. Delivery almost never happened at my condo. I can count the times it happened in a year on my hands and still have fingers left over. Take-out was rare as well. I ate out once a week. It was more cost effective and healthy to make food myself. While we do have our "quick" meals (for example, today's lunch was a Lean Cuisine, left over salad from last night, butternut squash soup and an apple), we cook everyday. All meals, even the quick ones, are based on Protein, veggie and/or fiber, and fruit.

It's just scary to me to think of where things are going...

Look out - I'm starting to sound old....

Friday, September 16, 2011

Announcement - Fur-kid Medical Journey Begins

Me and Clydas in Monterey, CA, December of 2006
Yesterday, I went to Portland and had a great time with friends. It was a much needed break.

On my way home, I got a phone call from Clydas' vet. See, Clydas had been into the vet on Tuesday. You can see a little bit about that visit here. Part of that I didn't blog about was that Clydas had a lump on his foot aspirated. They took a small biopsy to check on it. See, it's been there for a while, but I was just watching it to see if it got bigger, bothered him, etc. It never seems to cause him any problems. Boxers have a ridiculously high pain tolerance - I mean ridiculously high. Example: Clydas tapped one of the cats I used to have under the bed (when he still fit under there) and got a cat scratch ON HIS EYEBALL under the lower lid. He NEVER complained about it. Didn't rub at his face. Didn't whine. Nothing. So I didn't even know about it until I noticed green pus coming from his eye. Thankfully, he was fine. Another time, he stepped on a piece of broken glass while outside and CUT HIS PAD. He never cried out, never limped at all, never licked at it - nothing. If it weren't for the fact that we happened to be walking on WHITE concrete on our way home, I would never have noticed that he was tracking blood everywhere.

I check him on a fairly routine basis for injuries, bumps, etc, since I know what a trooper he is when it comes to pain.

Well, a while ago My Sailor noticed a lump on his foot. Thinking he just stepped on something that got between his toes and is working its way out, we kept an eye on it. Clydas never showed any sign of pain or discomfort. He didn't chew at it, bite at it, limp, nothing. So I assumed it was just a tag or something minor.

Since he was going to the vet, I had them take a look at it and that's where the biopsy came in.

3 days later, I get a voice mail asking me to call the vet's office.

When they didn't leave the results on my voice mail, I began to worry.

I called back, but I missed their operating hours. I was about to call this morning when the vet herself (not the staff) called me. During that conversation, my cell phone died... so I called her back and I finally got the news.

It's what they call a "Mast Cell Tumor".  When I read more about it, I noticed that they seem to change "on a whim" daily. And they are right. Today, it's small.

See the lump between the small toe and the big toe?

But to sum up, it's a cancerous growth that has often malignant in nature. They are fatty tumors that have little tendrils that ooze out into the surrounding tissue. Problem is, they release chemicals (like histamine, etc) which can cause problems when released in chronic excess.

Since they tend to spread out their tiny little microscopic malignant tendrils, they are easy to remove when they are in the fatty parts. Surgeons just remove a little more the tumor they see to make sure it's not spreading.

That's where Clydas is "special". His tumor is between two of his toes and is about the size of my thumb above the top-most joint. There is NO fat between his toes. So here are the options:

1) Lumpectomy - Remove the lump. It'll most likely come back based on it's location. There isn't enough tissue to remove all the tumor.

2) Amputate those 2 toes - This will most obviously hurt his mobility level.

3) See a Specialist - Most likely a doggie Oncologist would do the Lumpectomy and follow-up Radiation. High level of cure rate, but an expensive undertaking.

The Vet is great and I do trust her. She OWNS a boxer, as does the woman who owns the animal hospital, so they understand this unique breed very well. I highly respect that she didn't strongly recommend the option that would make her the most money (Lumpectomy - as it would mean return visits). She actually seemed to lean towards the Specialist option.

There is some silver-lining here. Boxers are more prone to grade 1 and 2 mast cell tumors than they are to grade 3 and 4. The higher the grade, the more dangerous the tumor. Since this isn't near any of his vital organs, it's not immediately life threatening.

And Clydas isn't in any visible pain. I keep reminding myself about this. He's had this for a while and hasn't been really showing any signs of illness, which puts me at peace a bit. The Vet is also encouraged by Clydas' age (he could be at "mid life"ish right about now) and overall fitness. He's in great shape, weighing in at a perfect 54 lbs at his last visit, and overall wellness is a good thing. I'm trying to focus on that right now more than anything and remind myself that, whatever we choose, this will be a long journey, but well worth it I think for this member of my family.

I decided a long time ago that the ONLY way I'd throw down over $2k for an animal is if the treatment is likely to be a CURE, rather than a "treatment". This may be the case where the Specialist answer comes in...

As luck would have it, this is laid in my lap while My Sailor is on duty, so we won't be able to discuss the options until tomorrow.

Don't worry - Clydas is going to get lots of love, especially today. I may be starting a special blog for Clydas' treatment, depending on what we decide. For now, he's curled up in his Tummy Warmer on the couch. Stay tuned...

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Pregnant people and Volleyball don't mix

It's been a good news/bad news kind of day.

Good News:
Clydas had his vet trip and got his long overdue heartworm test. Yeah!
Bad News:

They have NO idea what the lump on his foot is, but are concerned about it so they took an aspirate biopsy and sent it off to the lab. Oh yeah, and he has FLEAS for the first time in his life! I guess we just lucked out for 7 years.

Good News:
Clydas now has flea, tick, and heartworm protection.
Bad News:

Total dog-related bill: approx $300.00. Ouch.

Good News:

I'm going to have a lot of time coming up soon in order to help me focus on my fitness.
Bad News:

 My plans for the fall has changed. I was building a chunk of it around a Volleyball team that recently fell apart. With one person having to back out, and another gal getting pregnant the team was canceled. Apparently volleyball and pregnancy don't mix. Which is probably a good thing for the pregnant gal, because it can't be that much fun without diving and all that jazz.

Good News:

I joined the YMCA! I'm pretty excited about getting started there.
Bad News:

My Sailor is having trouble finding time and energy to go with me, so we've been signed up for a week, but haven't gone yet. So this may be more of a solo trip, unless he has time/energy on the weekends. It's a bit of a bummer to know that I can't expect to go with him on a regular basis, but who knows? Schedules change all the time 'round here, so that could change too!

I got nearly all of my ambitious To Do list done yesterday, including something I didn't plan. I started on one of My Sailor's deployment projects last night. It was tougher than I thought it would be, but it's coming along. While I doubt he'll read this, it could happen, so I'm not divulging much in here for now.

As for the Volleyball thing, it's easily remedied. Since I'm part of the YMCA, there is a good chance I'll be able to sign up for some fun classes. Oh! And I wanted to meet with a nutritionist, but was finding it expensive. I found out the Y offers a nutrition class! Hoping it won't be too full, I'm going to check it out.

The Health Plan:Starting on October 1st, I'll be starting my Galloway training program for the Princess 1/2 Marathon. With some of the deals that Shades of Green has been offering, I'm sure we can afford it. I've decided that I'm going to just go for it, whether I have a cheering squad or not. I know I'll find some Team Voicer there I can meet up with. That will cover my work outs 3 days/week. I'll be registering right after we buy all of the things My Sailor will need before deployment. It's a long list, so I want to make sure that gets covered first.

I'm going to sign up for 1 class at the YMCA to start. I figure one structured class/sport a week would mix it up a bit.

And that covers it! I'm sure, once I'm flying solo, that I'll be jumping in the pool at the Y any chance I get! Swimming has always been one of my favorite activities.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Mindset Changes and Glee invades my dreams

Mindset changes
 I realized today, as I clocked out for my 1st lunch break, that I'm 1/3rd of the way through the work day! (It's a 12 hr shift today.) I also have a long list of chores to do (laundry, vacuming, dusting, bathroom cleaning) today. I am leaving for Oregon to visit some friends, and, let's face it, unless it involves putting laundry in the machines and taking it out, or the occasional load of dishes in the sink, My Sailor is just too tired to deal with it. The Navy has been running him ragged lately. So, stiff upper lip, carry on, and I have my to-do list cut out for me tonight! I chipped away at the dishes and am ready to move the laundry I ran during lunch into the dryer.

What is the mindset change I noticed?
Instead of getting overwhelmed by my massively ambitious to-do list, I find myself tackling it one moment at a time, knowing I filled the moment before with as much as I could to complete the task, whether it's at my job or some cleaning chore, with all quality and attention it needed to be completed. It feels good. I may not get it all done today, but I might find some time to get up early tomorrow and finish it up.

My Sailor and I  did go to the fair on Sunday. It was a hot day, and we walked around. When I was younger, stuffing myself full of fried fair food was a treat! But on that day, we shared 1 elephant ear w/ cinnamon and sugar - and we threw 1/2 of it away. Turns out quickly fried dough isn't good on a hot day beyond a few bites. We weren't even really tempted by anything, should we did split one chocolate chip cookie from a local bakery stand on the way out. It was just "okay". We didn't spend a fortune on anything. We played a couple of games and we looked at the rides, but everything was SO expensive, we couldn't justify throwing even our full budget for the trip into the experience. We ended up giving our extra game/ride tickets to a family with a young child. Hopefully it made their day a little brighter.

What is the mindset change I noticed?
The Fair isn't what it used to be back before the internet was prolific. Now, if I really wanted battered-deep-fried-fill-in-the-blank, I can get it online. It's not as "special" as it was then. Oh - and I realized just what Mom and Dad felt when they scoffed at the price tags of things like a simple ferris wheel ride.

Dream on!

As you may or may not know, I'm somewhat notorious for having bad dreams. I don't mean your average "bad dreams". I mean full on nightmares and night terrors that would curl your toes. Lately, most of my dreams, pleasant or otherwise, include my family members, so I guess I miss them more than I think I do.

Anyway, last night's dream was actually funny. (For the record, I do not watch Glee- I just enjoy the music from time to time.)

I dreamed that my mom was the principle of a high school (think Ivy league brick building and everything) but she was attacked (shot) by a man who happened to be wearing a Jewish Prayer Shawl. So she outlawed all shawls on campus. Never one to take something lying down, I started a full on revolt - musical style! The student body was gathered there and I started a rousing speech about how we should be allowed to wear shawls and scarves! A musical number kicked in that would make High School Musical blush, and we started dancing around. I passed out TONS of shawls and scarves (purple ones, which have NOTHING to do with Jewish Prayer Shawls - purple just happens to be my favorite color). In the way of all good rebels, I got called into the principles office to face my mom and discuss the issue.  During the discussion, I brought up how it was smart it was to outlaw all shawls/scarves in the dress code, rather than outlawing Jewish Prayer Shawls in specific as that was unconstitutional (even in my DREAMS I'm logical).  (Now in waking life, my mom's best friend is a Jewish gal whom I consider an aunt, so we bare Jewish people NO ill will whatsoever.) I validated the fact that the attack must have been horrifying for her.  Then I asked her if the man was wearing jeans. She said he was. I brought up that, if she outlawed every thing her attacker wore, I would be going to school in my underwear and NOBODY wants to see THAT! She conceeded the point and lifted the ban.

I woke up to discover the entire "episode" took about 2 hours.

Glee - eat your heart out.

Monday, September 12, 2011

My 2 cents on 9/11.

Yesterday, yes, was 9/11.

The 10 year anniversary...

I didn't feel the need to post anything regarding my feelings on the day, as I 'm sure no one in my American reading audience (ye brave, ye few) has forgotten what happened in 2001. I watched a tasteful memorial on ESPN done during the Giants game on Sunday, took a moment and talked with My Sailor about our memories of that day, and then looked forward. I didn't sit in front of the TV and watch footage replayed over and over again. I remember too well hearing a DJ break down sobbing when I turned on the radio on my way to the gym that morning. At first I thought it was a prank the morning show was doing - then they announced a 2nd plane had just hit the World Trade Center...

And then I called my mom to ask if my dad, who was traveling on the East Coast, was okay... She said she didn't know. No one was able to get ahold of him... for six... long hours. Meanwhile, I tried to work. At the time, I was planning on getting married in a few months. In the back of my mind, I was fighting the practical mindset which was trying to prepare me to walk down the aisle without my father.

That morning, for the first time I've ever heard of, Dad missed his flight out.

When news finally trickled back that he was okay, and that he would be continuing on his business trip the next day, renting a car to drive to Canada and fly out of there - part of me was furious he wasn't staying put, part of me was furious he wasn't heading home to the West Coast, but the rest of me 'got it'.  "We can't let this stop us. If we do, 'they' win."

Today, I'm proud of his decision to carry on.

But the fear and paralyzing terror from that day isn't ten years away on any level. After all, my father is safe when so many mothers and fathers won't be there to be annoyed with their kids, hug them, laugh with them, cry with them, see them get married and have families of their own. Because of that, the day seems sacred to me.

This year, a large part of me is annoyed at the TV stations capitalizing on the deaths of so many. Part of me knows that in 50 years, this will be as obscure to the new generation as the Vietnam war is to mine... whatever mixed feelings I have about the day, it's a piece of our history that we who lived during that time will carry into the future, just as our grandparents and great grandparents carried tragedies from their lifetimes...

Sunday, September 11, 2011

It's Fair day! It's Fair day!

I'm so excited. My Sailor and I will be checking out the Puyallup Fair today!  I'm sure it won't be as huge as the San Diego County Fair (aka The Del Mar Fair), but I'm sure it'll be fun. The weather is perfect for it too. We're both pretty exhausted though. I'm not sure who needs to recover from his duty days more- him or me! But getting out is healthy so we're bound to do it! I'm really hoping the fair has cinnamon rolls. I saved my calories for some sweet treats, and I'm sure we'll do a LOT of walking. I wonder how many crazy rides he'll be able to talk me into. (Good luck, My sailor! If it only takes 1 screw to put it up, it only takes 1 screw to fall apart, so I'll pass, thanks!)

As for the toe - I can wear tennis shoes without screaming (thanks to gauze and lots of cloth tape - a MUST HAVE combo for any of my first aid kits). That's good news. It also looks MUCH better today than it did yesterday. Clean, not as red, so I might be able to dodge stitches and a doctor's visit after all. Yeah!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Great Coupon Experiment

So I made a list and started coupon hunting just to see how much I could save this week. I actually went shopping on Wednesday. I've been looking forward to blogging about it for a
while now!

Now, this wasn't a "typical" grocery runs. We needed some cleaning supplies (paper towels) and I chose to stock up on a few of our favorites as they were on a great sale and will encourage us to eat at home, rather than go out when we're tired. I did end up running a little short on fruit - who would have thought we could go through 1 cantalope in 2 days? So it wasn't just "buy with a discount". It was "Buy healthy with a discount."

Stores visited:
2 (Albertsons and Sarrs)
Items Obtained:
15 rolls of paper towels - $6.99 (Regularly $9.99)
1 head romaine lettuce - $.69
5 extra large loose carrots - $.69/lb
5 Roma tomatoes - $.45/lb
44 loads worth of Arm and Hammer Laundry detergent - $3.99 (Regularly $6.99)
8 Yoplait greek yogurts - $1/each  (Regularly $1.54)
8 Lean Cuisine Frozen Entrees - $1.88/each (Regularly $2.49)
1 medium cantalope - $.99 (regularly $1.50)
Approximate total w/ tax: $30

We won't need paper towels for MONTHS, and the detergent should last into the winter. The Lean Cuisines will keep us from going out when we just want something simple and don't really want to cook. Veggies and fruit are necessities for healthy living, and greek yogurt is a great form of protein (more protein than 2 eggs in each serving, with none of the saturated fat).

So far, I'd consider it a success.

Too bad I recently added about $10 to the budget, when I cut open a toe. Not only did I track blood all over the house (I didn't immediately realize I'd cut my foot, I thought I just stubbed it...) but I could probably do with a few stitches. Armed with some new gauze pads and medical tape, my plan is to get through the weekend. And if I STILL feel I need stitches, I go in on Monday. There's a good chance of infection/contamination, since I cut it on Clydas's sharp bone - but don't blame the dog, it's my own darn fault. Thinking it was just his rope toy, I kicked it, hard, to send it flying across the room... I didn't realize the bone was right under it. Leave it to me!

Nap time for me, and then back to work!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A Linkful Blog of Goodness

First, the Sunshine!

I have almost 30 hrs of PTO saved up! That gives me some peace of mind regarding some upcoming plans I have to get away for the holidays.

Volleyball might start up next week! I'm excited to get back out and into a sport!

Payday!  Hey, it's something I look forward to twice a month!

One Step Closer to Being Debt Free! There are 2 credit cards that have been major sources of stress for me for the last few years. However, I've managed to chip away at them slowly. Last night, I made a phone call, told them I was trying to pay them off, and asking what they could do for me. Well, 'ask and ye shall receive' is very true. They lowered my interest rate almost 10% on each card! I also called the hospital, as I'm still paying off last years laparoscopic salpingo-oopherectomy (that's a scope assisted ovary removal for all of you non-medical folks out there). Yes insurance covered most of it, but there was still a balance and a few odd things that weren't covered. Anyway, I called them now that I am finally within $200 of paying it off entirely, and THEY knocked some money off as well! Not a ton, but some and every little bit helps! My foreclosure from 2005/2006 will be off my credit report next year for sure (yeah!) and my car will be paid off at the end of the month! That's a big fat ray of sunshine right there.

As for the other stuff:
 I'm very thrifty shopper. It's not uncommon for me to go without something or repress some shopping impulse because I can get it cheaper somewhere else, later, or because I don't really need whatever it is to survive. (Example: for YEARS I went without cable TV, and if it weren't for my job, I wouldn't have cable now.) But I thought I'd take a cue from my blogger pal ThatDisneyGirl  and see if I am missing saving/earning oppurtunities.
  Here's the video that reminded me how just a little extra work can add up to a very good thing:

If you like what you see, vote for her by clicking the here.

So I signed up for a legitimate survey site. I'm still not convinced, as many of the things you are asked your opinion on require signing up for something. It's kind of like the mystery shopper - for example, applying for car insurance quotes and being contacted regarding those quotes. Eh, I don't have all day to answer the phone, so I skipped that one. I've yet to see if it really paid off, but I've found that Ebates is awesome. In less than a year, I've received over $50 I wouldn't have otherwise gotten on internet purchases. My Sailor has started using the Ebates account when he orders computer parts online. If your curious, click here to sign up and see if you could be getting money back on your purchases. Ebates also offers discounts as well, so it's been really handy. I've been using the money for things usually toward the wedding. For example, my hair piece would have cost me over $30. Because of the money in my paypal account from Ebates, it cost me $15. Not bad, right?

I'm also learning how to coupon smart. See, I'm a savvy shopper, but I don't really use coupons that often. At least, not on everyday items. So I started taking ThatDisneyGirl's tips to heart. She shares them here on her blog Great Big Joy...on a little tiny budget. Normally, I find that shopping at certain stores gives me a better discount on some things. For example, I get my produce from a farmstand. Not all of their deals are fabulous, and they don't always have what I want in stock, but usually I can get a fridge full of healthy fresh produce for under $25. So I don't really "shop around" for produce. This week, I'm going to take advantage of the fact that I am situated between FOUR grocery stores, and see how much I can save by using coupons and checking mailers. So far I've clipped a few good one. I'm just making sure that I'm not clipping a coupon for something we don't need. Overbuying with a coupon doesn't save anything. Today's first coupon will probably be for the oil change at Jiffy Lube. I signed up for a rebate that came in the mail just in time for my car to need an oil change. Since it's our one (almost paid off) car, we're really working on keeping it in running condition as long as we can. So I try to walk anywhere within a 3 mile radius. (You're also less tempted to overshop when you realize you have to CARRY IT HOME!) Not only does this help me stay in shape, but it's better for the planet, my car, and my wallet!

I'll keep ya posted on how the experiment goes!
Any money saving tips you want to pass on?

Oh yeah - I also walk EVERYWHERE I can!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Some Fun and Mixed Emotions

I've been such a mixed bag of emotions lately, I have a hard time making sense of it enough to blog it out. So let's catch up, shall we?

Sunday was bitter sweet. It was the closing day for Into the Woods. (Click here in case you missed the opening night blog.) The show went great, the goodbyes were unexpectedly emotional for me, and left me feeling a bit on the blue side. I had a lot of fun with the show, and I'm now completely exhausted, but I wouldn't have traded a moment of it. Funny how life does that, huh? While I didn't make any life-long friendships out of it, it's great to see people around town and actually recognize a few. Makes it feel a little more like home.

And now it's officially September. I'm reminded with each passing day that My Sailor will be deploying soon. I've been asking him to take a weekend off before he leaves, but he tells me won't be possible. He's actually schedule for duty at least 1 day/night at least 1 weekend day for every remaining weekends he has here.  I was really hoping we could have one solid weekend together, with no rehearsals, no duty days, no work, etc, but now it's clear that that isn't going to happen. And that doesn't make me happy. Sure, I'm putting on a good face daily, doing my best not to dwell on it - but I'd be lying to you (my readers - ye brave, ye few) if I didn't say the situation can be extremely frustrating. Him leaving hangs over us like a little cloud that we choose to ignore most of the time. Don't get me wrong - I'm not frustrated with My Sailor, I'm just generally frustrated with the situation. I hate waiting around, and planning (or, in this case, not planning) my life around anyone's schedule leaves me feeling just that - like I'm waiting around for him to have time to spend with me, doing my best to remain available.

So, I'm still learning as I muddle my way through all of this.

But I'll tell you what - I couldn't be more grateful for my family and the skills I've learned from them over the years. (Not to mention the skills I learned from an amazing therapist during my recovery from a nasty divorce.)

So what's my solution to all this?

Embrace the new adventure!  So my journey through WWCA's Into the Woods is complete and the timing isn't right for a new show just yet. Shows are a large time commitment that I'm not ready to make for the above mentioned reasons - there will always be a show going on that I can audition for. Time with My Sailor is hard to come by. It wouldn't be fair to anyone to get into one right now, especially since I'm planning on traveling home for the holidays to visit my family.

But, what is the new adventure?

In order to end this listless feeling, I need define a direction here. So here are my plans:

Join the YMCA - They have some fun looking classes and this is a great way to focus on my health and to make sure I get out of the house. When you work from home and live in a new place, ya' need something else to go out for other than the eat.

Register for the Princess 1/2 marathon, 2012 - Having a small vacation to look forward to will help BIG TIME! Registration is $140 if I register before October 2nd and the race is on February 26th, 2012. There is a free training program that looks completely do-able. It would have be running (or run/walking) 3 days/week.  So while I have no fear of being unprepared physically, I know there is the chance that My Sailor won't be there to cheer me on. It would mean the world to me for him to be able to attend, but I know I'll have to be prepared to fly solo on this one. Well, maybe not completely solo! I am part of a running team (TeamVoice) so, instead of dreading going it alone, maybe I should look at this as a chance to make some new friends?

Join the Navy Women's Volleyball team - It's not yet clear how much of a time commitment this may be, but I'm in! I'm looking forward to finding out if I still have that ace of a serve I discovered in my youth. I'm betting I can figure it out again. ;)

Set build - To help stay plugged into the local theater community, I've voulenteered to keep on helping out with set building when I can.

Wedding DIY - With our wedding coming up next year, there are PLENTY of little projects to keep me busy - like building my feather fan, figuring out a new stationary design (since the Animal Kingdom was ex-nayed due to budget restraints and guest limitations). The Art Man ) will (hopefully) still be doing the artwork for them. Then it's just a matter of putting them together, coming up with a schedule of events, booking things, and then the final step of paying them off! Of course, the pay off won't come until closer to the event, but it's nice to get a start on everything and have actual dates and vendors set up. I already have Save The Dates ready for a new date to be put in (most likely, October 18th, 2012).  I'm also thinking of customizing some Keds for my wedding shoes... we'll see how creative I get, but I have some ideas.

Writing my first books - Since I write for a Disney World Fan magazine, and my family is already behind me being a writer since I was first published as a teenager, I've decided to go ahead and start work on some young children's books. Now, I don't do art, but I'm thinking doing Disneyland based, personalized, choose your own adventure books might be a fun way to indulge my Disney passion - and hopefully make some extra money! Though the thing about writing is that most authors don't get out much!

Offer Dog Walking Services - Since My Sailor and I have decided to extend our current lease, and the holidays are coming up, I think I could make some extra cash and get to know my neighbors by offering a dog walking/house sitting service. Of course, I'd have to work this around my schedule, so we'll see where this goes. It'll largely depend on where Thanksgiving finds me, and how long I'll be gone for Christmas. One good thing about My Sailor not taking any time off - I'm wracking up the vacation time!

So that's the map for the fall/winter... It's just the waiting to get into all of that that is killing me. But no matter what happens, it's fair to say that I'm gonna miss this guy... badly.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

A Little Christmas in September

As I sit here on a quiet Sunday morning, enjoying a cup of warm cider, wrapped up in a blanket with a cuddly boxer dog using my knee for a pillow, I realize that Christmas is only 3 months away. This year certainly flew - not to mention has seen a ton of changes! Today, the weather is crystal clear and a beautiful 70 degrees, but I'm sure soon enough it feel more and more like fall - and then winter will seep in.

I can't wait for cool weather, warm fires, bundling up under a blanket. I'm also looking forward to the fall care packages that will be going out as soon as I get to baking as well.

Yeah - it seems a bit early to start thinking about the holidays, but I guess I just love the way they feel so much that it's hard not to get nostalgic and excited at the same time. With the snow still capping the mountains, I have to wonder what the winter vibe will be like here (even though I'll be in Southern California over Christmas).

In the mean time, I'm trying to get My Sailor to take a weekend off with me. According to my calendar, he'll have duty just about every weekend this month. Duty usually leaves him pretty well exhausted, so I feel like we could both us a little down time together without writing or a play, or work catching up with us. We'll see how it all pans out, but I'm hopeful.

Anyway - I'm think I'm going to settle in to watch a Christmas movie before I head off for the final performance of Into The Woods! While I'm considering doing one more play this year, I'm thinking that I'm probably going to have my hands full between training for the Princess 1/2 in Feb 2012 and Volleyball. We'll see how ambitious I get. ;)

Hope everyone is enjoying the last vestiages of summer! Tomorrow is a TRUE day off for me (no work, no shows, no writing) - so tell me how are ya'll planning on welcoming the fall?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

When the Stress isn't worth it.

I'm starting this blog off with a photo of a fantastic memory because tonight, I found a smile that I struggled to find a bit today.

I'll admit it. Few things scare the crap out of me like BIG PURCHASES. Lately, we've been discussing a LOT of them, so I've been feeling kinda overwhelmed. From buying/building/renovating a house, to the wedding, I've been trying to keep my cool, while secretly there is a whirlwind of "OMG, How are we going to pay for this??!" buzzing through my brain. Today, though, it feels like a weight has been lifted as we got some news from Disney.

Basically it boils down to this: If we want our ceremony in the Animal kingdom, we'll have to kick in about $4k more and cut the guest list down to 35 people.

While disappointing, this is a very clear reality check for me. It boiled down to a simple question: Which would I rather have? A chance to celebrate with my family and friends and have it paid off before we do it? Or a chance to celebrate with a handful of people in a unique venue and pay it off for a few years afterwards?

Even for a Disney Freak like me, this wasn't a choice. I'd rather be able to invite more people. When I proposed it to My Sailor, he agreed. No Animal Kingdom for us. So while we're a bit disappointed (again), it's actually freeing in a lot of ways!  The decision on the dresses for the ladies has been made, and we still have the quote (which includes 65 people in a wedding AND Reception AND Illuminations Dessert Party for a little more than Disney would have charged us for the Wedding alone) from Shades of Green, so it's looking like we'll be heading back to our original plans for a morning Shades of Green wedding w/ a Brunch reception.

Also, by going with Shades of Green, I can take my bridesmaids up on their offers to help out with flowers, center pieces, and things before hand! It'll save money, time, but most of all help us all get closer to each other as we all pitch in for this event.

And ya know what? That sounds awesome. I do believe I'm starting to get a healthier perspective on this whole thing.

I used to feel bad about taking family and friends up on their offers to help. After all, they are all having to travel for our big day. But I don't anymore. I realize that helping gives us a chance to bond and gives everyone a chance to be a tangible part of a remarkable occasion. We're still getting our invitations done by a local artist, and we're probably going to have the cake topper made for us as well. Talk about a customized event!

I also realized something I lose sight of. Wedding planning should be FUN! If it stops being fun, take a step back and double check that your priorities are in the right place - rather than focused completely on one day. Yes, it's an important day, but it really is just one day.

Sure, we want to show everyone a good time, but the truth is, WE ARE IN DISNEY WORLD WITH OUR CLOSEST LOVED ONES! OF COURSE WE'RE GOING TO HAVE A GOOD TIME! I'm going to Disney World with my family, My Sailor's family, and our closest friends. And taking a smart start to our future seems so much better than a debt filled one.

Moral of the Story: Sometimes stress is an indicator that a change of plan is called for.

I actually can't wait for our Shades of Green day. After all - we're already getting the best part of this deal.

Confessions and Fresh Starts

One of the best things about life is true forgiveness. It's a gift we give ourselves sometimes. It's picking ourselves up when we stumble. It gives us the freedom to start again, change course, or just cut ourselves a little slack.

Lately, I've been cutting myself some slack in the food and work out department. Don't get me wrong, I'm still doing my daily mile with the dog, but sometimes that's all I get to. And yes, I've been eating my calories - and lately a bit more. 

With My Sailor leaving soon, I decided that now isn't the time to stress out about any of this. So I'm cutting myself some slack and deciding to move forward. I work long days a when My Sailor has overnight duty so that I can duck out early and spend time with him when he's free.

I realized the other night that our spending is getting surprisingly under control, despite all the craziness lately. I signed up for Mint.com. It's an amazing service that breaks down your spending habits into weekly or monthly updates. It links all your credit cards and bank accounts to really give you a complete picture of how you're doing.  For example, I noticed that we spent almost $70 last month at COFFEE SHOPS! We don't even really drink coffee!  That's WAY too much! So I'll be sticking to my tea and Tassimo at home. (My Sailor immediately trembled in fear as I can now see how much he spends at vending machines on base.)

In October, I'll be starting the Galloway training plan to get myself through (drum roll please) the Disney Princess 1/2 Marathon in Feb! I figure My Sailor and I can use a short trip to Disney World to get our Wedding planning visit under our belts and to use our free day we have from the passes we bought for my birthday last year or head over to Universal and check out the Harry Potter attractions. My goal is to have all my weight lost by the time he returns! It's about 30lbs, so I think it's nearly doable.

So there we have it - forgiveness is giving ourselves the freedom to make mistakes, learn from them, and move on.