Sunday, November 30, 2008

Back to the Living

Friday was a great day with the family, following a great Thanksgiving. We spent a really fun day getting the tree up and decorating the house, followed by sitting down to watch a great flick. Not even mid-way through the film my stomach started to act up (that's putting it lightly). Shortly thereafter, I retreated to my bedroom to begin the most uncomfortably painful 5 hours of my life. My stomach began a roller coaster ride that both made me hurl several times and wish my sweet life was over. Long story short, I was sick . . . sick as any person should ever be allowed.

No worries, however, after two and a half days of sleeping non-stop, I have breached the surface of consciousness. Yes, I am alive and glad to say it. But, that, my friends was the SICKEST stomach flu I have ever had. Poor Martin had it too. But there's some unwritten law somewhere that says if Martin and I get the same illness, he gets it for a day (or less) and I get it for at least 3. Go figure.

Happy, Healthy Holidays!!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

"Twilight" Seconds

Okay, people. At long last, here is my op on the movie. I know, I know. You're welcome!

First, my opinion on the book is much different than the movie. The book, for me, was a page-turner, yes, but I was disappointed. However, I was somewhat tainted because I went to my book club prior to reading the book. I was expecting different things--perhaps bigger things when I went to read the book. I enjoyed it, but probably would have liked it more had I read the book before going to book club. I found out way too much.

I went to see the movie last Saturday night with some book-club sistas (holla back) and friends. I enjoyed the movie, loved the characters, and enjoyed seeing my beloved Pacific Northwest on the big screen. However, I was again tainted by all the teenagers and teenager wannabes cooing and swooning over Edward and their laughing during what I thought were unfunny scenes. Very annoying...remember folks, ANTI-cheese here.

Anwyhoo, Martin and I went to the movies Wednesday night to see "Australia." Well, we got there too late and so Martin suggested seeing "Twilight." I agreed. I wanted to see what he thought (he's never read the book). He was surprised at how much he enjoyed it. He said it was fun to guess what was going to happen and what was actually going on. To him it was a mystery.

I also liked it, maybe more the second time. I was paying attention to details this time and was under the impression that it moved better the second time (plus, there were far less teenagers in the theatre). I also noticed how beautiful the scenery was and it reminded me of here. Don't you all wish you could live here too? Okay--MINUS the rain.

Oh, and the music is great also. I think I heard some Iron and Wine, Collective Soul, and Paramour. LOVED the soundtrack! Definitely my kind of music.

So that ties up my impressions of the movie. It's a good one, but I suggest seeing it in a theatre sans teenagers! You'll like it better...unless, of course, you are a teenager.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Relaxing Thanksgiving

I am so looking forward to tomorrow--It's Turkey day!!! Woot!! This year I am not entertaining any guests (usually my mom and dad come up), so we are going OUT, baby!! Oh, yeah! We did this once before when I was pregnant with Isaac, or maybe shortly after he was born, can't remember which. It was the most relaxing holiday. It was just me and Martin and the kids and we had a great time. I was thinking if I had to make that huge meal again for these troops who don't eat I would scream. Making big meals + kids who don't eat them = a grouchy, unhappy Heather. Plus, the year we went out I remember the food tasting sooo good. I'm looking forward to that again. Sleep in, get up, get dressed, go eat...nothing better. BTW we go to Black Angus - and yes, they do the whole turkey dinner thing for me, Martin and Alex and Livi and Isaac can order mac and cheese and pizza respectively. Yum (not).

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday tomorrow. I hope you also have a great Christmas season this year. I'm looking forward to it, although it will be the first in 32 years that we won't have my sister with us. I have a hunch she will be there in spirit. I know she will be missed!!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The New Cutest Baby in the World (I'm not biased)

My youngest sister, Mindy had a baby girl yesterday! She was a bit early and so we were slightly worried, but she turned out to be perfect. She is 6 lbs. 3 oz. and is beautiful, as you can see. Her name is Oakley Dot Miller, the "Dot" is after my Grandma Higley whose nick-name was Dot, also it is Mindy's middle name. I can't wait to see Oakley in the flesh, and snuggle and hug her. Everyone in Utah better get it out of their systems before I get there, because I will want full-time contact with this little girl--It's only fair, guys! It is so great to welcome new spirits into our family!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sorry, Suckas!

Okay, okay. I know this might be mean, but....

Oh, yeah!!

Once again, righteousness has prevailed!!!!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Not a Good Thing (Flashback Friday)

Tonight I went out with the fam to dinner. After dinner, on our way out to the car, the wind had picked up and was blowing really hard and the rain had started pretty heavily. So we ran to get in the car. When we got home, Livi looked down at my leg as I was getting out of the car and said, "What's that." I looked down and was HORRIFIED to see a big wad of gum on my pants at calf-level. I was like, "Oh, no. This is not happening to me." How in the heck did that happen? I do not know...I do not even want to think how it happened. I'm guessing it either was under the table at the retaurant or someone chose to spit it out in that wind storm. Either way I am near vomiting point right now. I took my pants off right when I got home, before I even went up to my room and handed them directly to Martin who is currently trying to pull the mess off.

Some of you know I have a HATE/HATE relationship with gum. There is a story to this aversion. This is the story for flashback Friday. Actually there are two stories:

1. As I was growing up we always used to go to West Yellowstone the day after Christmas and stayed until New Years. We did this every year and stayed in a condo there with all my family and a lot of family friends. We were big snowmobilers. We always had to pull this big trailer with all our snowmobiles on it and my mom and dad would take turns driving on the slick roads (my mom is an awesome driver and is better than any man I've ever seen) up to Yellowstone. It usually snowed the whole way there and that made for some treacherous roads. When my dad would drive he would chew gum to stay awake. He is notorious for falling asleep at the drop of a hat, so keeping awake was a bit of a chore. That is all well and good. BUT, he tortured me with this incessant popping and chomping on his gum. He did this even when I begged him to keep it quiet and I would usually end up sobbing in the back when he resisted--all 7 hours of the drive. He was relentless. Ask any of my family. He is very, very annoying. He has actually had people who are complete strangers approach him in movies and shows asking him (begging him) to stop. This wouldn't be so bad, except that he didn't just keep it up on the way to Yellowstone, but every single last vacation we took as a family...and we did a lot of vacationing and traveling. Thus started my hatred of gum.

2. The summer between my Junior and Senior years I was dating a guy I met that summer. I was so into him and we had a lot of fun. It was a summer of love! ...but one evening we went to a dance. As we were dancing (the typical bear-hug) he was chewing gum. I didn't think much of it, eveyone chews gum at that age. At the end of one of the dances he started to apologize profusely--he had gotten gum in my hair. Not just a little, a whole mouth full. He didn't dare tell me (can't blame him) until it was really stuck and a tangled mess. Luckily, my friend Jen was there and we left immediately. She spent the next three hours pulling bits of gum and hair out of my head. I had long curly hair and the gum was everywhere. She had to use peanut butter, then some lemon cleaner stuff my mom had, ice, and finally, lots and lots of snips from the scissors. Jen was heroic. She was able to save a lot of hair, but I was disgusted. The damage had been done.

What the heck is it about me that attracts this kind of thing? I can see it once or twice, but it keeps happening. I get it on my shoes, in my house, in my car. No place is exempt. This is why I hate gum. This, and the fact that I don't like the taste of the stuff. I don't mind people who are quiet about it, but most of the time I find people do not know how to chew it inconspicuously. And for heaven's sake, put it in the garbage when you're done with it. I hate how some people spit it wherever they may be at the time. It is not biodegradable, people. Kids are especially bad at this and that is why I have put a house-wide ban on the stuff. My kids know what will happen if I find them with gum!

Yes, I'm the gum Nazi.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Amazing Feat of My Feet

It's coming up on a year since I had my first surgery on my left foot. This surgery was to relieve some of the horrible pain I've been having in both my feet for 5 years. I have Plantar Fasciitis, which if you don't know, is an inflammation of the fascia, or tendon that extends from the toes to the heel. Plantar Fasciitis is very common. It is cause for foot pain in many adults. It usually results in that first-step-of-the-day pain that people get upon getting up in the morning. Sometimes it can result in pain throughout the day. It can last for a few months to (in my case) several years or forever. Mine started getting bad when I had Isaac. I gained some weight after having kids (go figure!) and did a lot of exercising to lose the weight, but in the end just ended up hurting my feet worse. Many joggers get this condition and people who use their calf muscles frequently, also pregnant women. I used to walk hours on the tread mill, set at a steep incline (I wouldn't do that again). That, combined with my weight gain contributed greatly to my problem.
I went through all kinds of treatments for my problem. First, I got orthotics and bought expensive plantar fascia-friendly shoes, did all kinds of physical therapy including stretching my soleus muscle frequently, and wore night splints to bed. When that didn't work, I did cortisone shots, which helped a lot at first. They got rid of my pain for about 8 months, but then I would be right back where I started. I probably had 8 shots in each foot over a 3 year period before they quit working. I was really bummed when they didn't work anymore. Then I was prescribed a night splint that used electrical pulses. I wore that with no relief and then went on to ultrasound treatments. Next my podiatrist suggested trying Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy, which is the same idea they use to treat kidney stones when they are shattered internally. I was up for anything by this point and went through this somewhat painful procedure under local anesthetic (I remember it was very loud and made my bones vibrate against each other). The idea is to break up the fascia a bit and increase the amount of blood and healing cells to the area. I was one of a few patients my doctor did this with (actually, he just numbed me up and let the people with the expensive machine do their thing). I waited the prescribed 3 months to see if this helped to no avail.

By September of last year I was ready to throw in the towel but my doctor talked me into one last stitch effort. This one was called Autologous blood injection and I was the second of his patients to try it. He withdrew 3 milliliters of my own blood and put it in a centrifuge to separate the growth plates. Then, under general anesthetic, I was injected with the growth plate in the fascia. Well, you guessed it, this didn't work either. I waited the 6 weeks he suggested I should wait and was in just as much pain. I was so disappointed and so upset. Every time I wanted to do anything that required me to be on my feet I suffered the consequences for days following. This included just cleaning the house and taking care of my family--all necessary activities. Plus, I was unable to work out, which I missed terribly. Also, every time I went through a treatment, from corticosteroid injections to the blood injection, I was laid up for weeks at a time to allow the procedure to "heal" my foot--which meant no exercise.

At this point I had done a lot of research on the Internet (years of it) and decided I needed to talk to somebody about having surgery. I was at the end of the line. I switched doctors because the podiatrist I had didn't do surgeries for my type of problem. I (with the help of one of Martin's friends who is a podiatrist in Spokane) found a doctor in Seattle who does a lot of these surgeries. I was very impressed with him and he was amazed at all the procedures I had undergone without relief. He ordered a bone scan and found I was more than a good candidate for Plantar Fascia release surgery. He also suggested that I undergo Gastrocnemius muscle release as well, to relieve some of the tension and tightness in my calf, which would also help the problem. I was game and underwent surgery in November of 2007 on my left foot and leg and surgery on my right foot and leg in February of 2008. In the surgeries the surgeon cut the fascia completely. Then it would hopefully heal with more length in the fascia and the gastroc. With each surgery I was laid up for 4 weeks in which I could put no weight on my foot, followed by 2 weeks of partial weight bearing activity. It was very hard to be off my feet for that long and I was so glad I had Martin and friends to help me through it.

Sorry about the lousy pictures. Martin + my bad camera = bad photos!

As I said before, it's been a year since my first surgery and I'm finally able to work out on my feet. I have a hard time with walking too much so I use the elliptical machine which is less jarring and more low-impact, but I've worked up to doing an hour at a time and could do more if I wanted! I am in pain afterward if I sit down for too long and then get up to walk around, but the pain is tolerable. Most pain comes from just standing around. I try to avoid that too much. The good thing is that each morning the pain is improved from the activity I did the previous day. It is a huge step up! I'm not 100% better, but I would say 40% better and that is enough for me--for now. My doctor says I will continue to improve as many as 18 months post-op, so I have hopes that I will continue to improve.

Was it worth it? I'd have to say yes. I am able to go barefoot (although I shouldn't) if needed and my pain is improved, however little. My quality of life is better, that's for sure. I know losing weight will be a big help too, so that is my current goal.

So if you have pain-free feet, thank the Lord above for your many blessings! I'm glad I am better. BTW: Most sufferers of Plantar Fasciitis don't have the problems I did. Usually, with non-invasive treatment, it will get better. I guess I'm just lucky!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Funny fun-time fun

I wanted to post these pictures that Olivia took of us. We were waiting to eat at the Cheesecake Factory and the kids were bored, so I got the camera out. Olivia took about 3 million pictures of Isaac. Isaac with his hands up, Isaac with his tongue out, Isaac smiling silly, Isaac dancing. She was putting him in various funny poses. Here are some of the best:
I'm not sure what Livi was trying to accomplish here, but it's awfully close to flipping the bird. Careful, buddy!

Isaac laughed at this one because he can "see up his own nose."
My personal favorite.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Murphy and Me (Not Marley and Me)

Murphy is our hilarious neighbor, and yes, he is a dog. He is a beautiful brown and white husky who can't be older than a year. Now, I had never officially met Murphy--until today. I usually just see him in our back yard sniffing around and barking at me between the fence when I'm out doing yard work.

When I came home this morning from running errands I opened my car door and got a scare when I saw this animal looking at me. I didn't expect anything to be in the garage and I was caught off guard. My first thought was that it was a wolf. He immediately ran away and I realized it was the neighbor's dog. He started playing this game with me of hide and seek. I was in a hurry because I had someone coming over to appraise the house so I headed into the house with Isaac. I tried to close the garage door, but Murphy would not get out until I jumped and ran at him. Then he'd take off and run up and down the sidewalk and come right back into the garage. Every time I'd chase him off again and push the button to close the garage, he'd come back and trip the sensor and stop the garage door from closing. It took me about 10 minutes of this little dance to come up with a plan. I had to go out and distract Murphy while Isaac pushed the garage door button. It finally closed and I went inside the front door.

A few minutes later, the appraiser was ringing the door bell. I opened the door, forgetting all about my dog-encounter. I found Murphy wagging his tail, standing next to the appraiser who said something like, "I think your dog wants to come in." Before I could say, "That ain't my dog," Murphy was pushing his nose against my hands and arms trying to get by. I tried to grab his collar as he sped past me, running so fast around the corner that his paws slid across the wood floor. As I tried to chase and grab him, the appraiser laughingly said he'd start his work outside the house. Isaac was screaming and laughing (I think because it was funny how I looked) as I chased him around the downstairs. Soon, Murphy took off up the stairs three steps at a time. No sooner was he upstairs than I heard him run through every room, knocking things over and scaring Tinker half to death. As she hissed and spat I chased the dog from room to room. He was always just inches from my grasp. Finally, I cornered him in the bonus room (thank heaven for double doors) and shut the door. You'd be surprised how much that dog did not want to be caught. I grabbed his collar, cursing "bad dog" profusely and dragged him downstairs where Isaac brought me my shoes, still laughing.

I marched Murphy (by now I knew his name from his tags) and rang the doorbell. My poor neighbor opened the door in her night gown bewildered and was surprised and horrified to see Murphy. She immediately apologized, asking where I'd found him. She said, "He's a pistol, huh?" I replied in the affirmative. It was actually good, because before today, I hadn't met my neighbor, only Martin and the kids had. She was so embarrassed as I told her where he'd been. I assured her I liked dogs and laughed off her apologies. It was an insane 15-20 minutes, but it made me laugh.

When Martin got home tonight Isaac started to tell him the whole Murphy incident. Martin was laughing and said he'd had the same problem leaving work this morning. Murphy apparently wanted to take a ride in his car and Martin had a hard time getting him to back off enough to close his car door. What a funny dog. Usually Murphy never gets out, and I hope he doesn't any time soon.

I love dogs. I'm really a dog person, but can't get past the picking up poop part enough to actually get one. I have a trippy gag reflex. I grew up with dogs and think they are the funniest creatures on the earth. I also think they can be real pains in the butt. I choose to have cats because they are much easier to take care of (and not quite so hyper). But if I ever have a house in the country somewhere or a nice big backyard I might reconsider.

I dedicate this post to Ruffy, Max, Rumpy, Quigley, Sam, Dusty and Duffy and all the other dogs I've ever loved (even if they have peed on my sweater). And here's to you, Murphy!

No, this is not Murphy, but it resembles him and Tinker looks like that cat!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Flashback Friday (part III) Isaac's wish

It's Friday!! I'm a big fan of Fridays. I like them better even than Saturdays because on Fridays you have the weekend to look forward to. On Saturdays I'm usually bored because all the stuff I usually do on the weekdays, I reserve for weekdays. I refuse to do cleaning and a lot of laundry on weekends. The goal here is to enjoy my family a little bit more.

I have this thing in my brain that if there's work to be done I can't sit and watch TV or relax and read a book or do crafty things. I include exercise as work here. I think I inherited this from my mom, because that woman can rarely just sit and enjoy herself (she's got too much to get done). Sometimes I try to relax but I drive myself crazy until I get up and clean something or do some laundry or go to the gym. But Saturdays (Sundays too) I've trained myself to not do "work." I find I'm happier on days when I have work to do and I get that work done. I guess this is why I like Fridays.

Today I'm going to do a flashback of funny things the Cuteness has said this week. I don't want to forget them. This is quite possibly not a "true" flashback but I can't think of anything else, so let's just go with it.
Isaac has been learning a lot of things at school. I'm amazed at how much he is understanding. He is also becoming a lot more social and having a fun time with friends, when before I don't really think he knew there were other people in the room. It's all good fun.

The other night, I was putting him to bed and after he said his prayers he looked at me and said, "Wanna know what I wished for?" I didn't catch what he was saying because he says "wished" like "wooshed;" he always has. After figuring out what he was saying I realized he meant that when you say prayers you wish for things. I didn't know what to say, so I just went along and asked him what he "wooshed" for. He answered that he wanted everyone in Issaquah to go to Utah with him for Christmas! Wow, that's a lot of people--but he meant all of his friends. He is conflicted because he loves to got to Utah every year but he is going to miss his friends from school when he's gone. Too cute.

Isaac has NEVER really talked about going to Utah for Christmas. Honestly, I don't think he really ever realized what was happening until we actually got there. I have also never heard him say anything about living in Issaquah. This more engaged sense of where he is and what he is doing has developed a lot later than with my other two and it's cracking me up.

The rest of this week he has been driving Martin and I up the wall with asking us constantly when Christmas will be. I keep saying, "Oh, about 2 months," or "around 50 days," but he doesn't really understand weeks or days yet (or numbers for that matter). So we say, "In about 6 more churches," which is to say there will be 6 more times we go to church until Christmas. This seems to work and his face lightens up and he says, "Only six?"

I hope he isn't hoping Heavenly Father will come through and grant his wish. I tried to explain to him that it's good to wish for things but that sometimes those wishes don't come true. Especially if they're really big wishes that would be difficult to come true. I tried to tell him that didn't mean that Heavenly Father wasn't looking out for us. He said he understood but smiled. I think he secretly still thinks he might get his wish:). Such faith and innocence.
Oh, a friend of mine took this photo of him while he was at school and I love it. Thanks to Katie M..

Monday, November 3, 2008

Somehow Muddling Through Halloween

Monday's are hard. I find them especially hard after a holiday. I don't think I have ever picked up so many candy wrappers in my life. I almost want to set my house on fire and just forget about it.

Alex collected 9 pounds of candy.

Read it again...YES--9 pounds (that's the size Olivia was when she was born--she was a rather chubby baby). I see that pillow case full of candy and it makes me want to dry heave--and I usually love me some candy. But this has GREED written all over it. When does it switch to a contest. I mean, at what point in a child's life does he/she switch from a sweet, costume-wearing cherub graciously and deliberately getting a couple of little candies (so cute), to a candy-mongering juvenile racing, pillaging and plundering every house within a five mile radius?
I'm glad, though, that Alex is now old enough to go trick or treating with his friends around the neighborhood, and we don't have to take him. I don't know how long he and his buddies were gone, but I think it was a couple of hours at least. I'm hoping they minded their P's and Q's and didn't like, I don't know, try tying fireworks to poor unsuspecting feline victims in the neighborhood (just hypothetical, of course). Alex is usually not one to get into trouble, but who knows what 5 12-year-olds will do when bored or provoked.

Alex also had a rather nice head-start on his candy collection because we went to Microsoft to trick or treat and the kids insisted on doing two floors of Martin's building. If you don't know Microsoft's buildings layout, it is like this: Everyone has their own office...there are no cubicles. So each person has candy to hand out to all the kids....row after row after row of offices (after row). I think there must be around 100 or more offices per floor. So you get the idea. The kids obviously were not lacking in the candy department.

After going to M's work, we were "scheduled" to go to the ward trunk or treat. After looking at all the candy in the kids' buckets I vetoed that. They didn't argue too much with me. I thought they might, but I think they were tired; at least the littlest ones were tired. Alex, again, couldn't have cared less. He had other fish to fry.

I'm hoping that his costume wasn't too appropriate for the night.