Wednesday, December 28, 2011

New Year's Reflections

I know that this blog is a little early but I have been sitting here reflecting over the past year (2011) before the new year starts (2012).  I have been reflecting on all of the good and the bad that has happened this year and wondering what 2012 will bring for my husband and I and what new adventures we will have in our life together.

Our year did not start off on the best note.  We ended last year with not knowing if I had cancer, they had attempted to do a bone marrow biopsy on me but had been unable to attain a sample.  So we had to wait and worry through Christmas and the start of the new year to find out what my diagnosis would be.  My doctor at the Cancer Center was able to obtain a biopsy from me the second time around.  That is right, I had not one but two bone marrow biopsies in a span of a month.  The second one was obtained in January, so then all we had to do was sit and wait for the results.  All I could think about was please Lord, not now, my husband and I had not been married for even a year yet.  During this time my husband's father was diagnosed with cancer and the outlook was not good, the cancer had spread all throughout his body and they did not give him long to live.  It was very hard to watch him suffering and to know that I might have cancer as well.

Unfortunately we lost his father at the end of January; he went home to be with the Lord.  Thankfully my husband was there with his father his last night, even though he was not coherent.  I would like to think that he knew his son was there sitting with him and I know that it gave my husband the peace that he needed.

His father's memorial service was held in Ava, IL, so we headed out of town to attend the service to gather with family and celebrate the wonderful life that his father had lived.  It was a beautiful service and a wonderful tribute to my father-in-law's life.  We will miss him but we know that he is in a better place and for that we are thankful.  Did I also mention that this was a day or two before my birthday?

My test results had finally come back and it was not cancer.  Praise the Lord!  I was so thankful and relieved. The diagnosis was Immune thrombocytopenic purpura  (ITP).  What a mouthful right?  Not the greatest diagnosis, but at least we had a diagnosis and it was not cancer.  I will not go in to everything that ITP encompasses because I could write another blog or book just on this subject.  The short of it is that it is a rare bleeding disorder/auto immune disease.  There is no cure for it, only treatments but at times it can be maintained without any sort of treatment. As long as you monitor your platelet levels and get treatment when it is needed you are able to maintain a normal life.  It is kind of scary and it was hard to absorb that this is something I will have for the rest of my life but I have come to terms with it now and have accepted it.  I do not worry as much about it as I used to.  I will also mention that I did have to go through 8 weeks of treatment, once a week, because my platelet levels had fallen so low and I was battling fatigue.  The treatments that I had are called IVIG and this stuff is liquid gold, figuratively speaking.  They try to charge the insurance company around $17,000.00 per a treatment, I think the insurance company ends up paying around $12,000.00 - $13,000.00 a treatment. See what I mean when I say they call it liquid gold? Thankfully we have wonderful insurance!!!!

Okay, so I know all of the above sounds bad.  What a way to start the year right????  However, it was not all bad, there were positives to everything listed above.  I did not have cancer, my husband's father is no longer suffering, we were able to spend time with his family at his father's memorial service (everyone is so spread out), I found out how great our insurance is ( I have the right to retract this statement at any time) and I have learned to manage my ITP.

Speaking of how great the insurance was, my husband had to have surgery on some of the veins in his legs.  When we switched to a new insurance company at the beginning of the year they approved his surgery right off and he was able to have his surgery in February.

Let's move on to some of the other positives that happened this year.  This is one of the reasons that I started my blog, to encourage us to get out more and enjoy life.  Life is to short and we have to live and enjoy it!

Like, I said my husband had his surgery and it was a success.  We celebrated our first wedding anniversary and we still are getting along.  :-)

This year I would say that we have really started settling in to married life and to our life in the Indiana/Kentucky area.  We started exploring the local area more and also explored outside of our area as well.  If you have followed my blog at all this year, you will see some of the different things that we have done.  We enjoyed a trip to Bowling Green, KY, visited the Corvette museum while we were there and also stopped in Horse Cave on the way home to visit one of the caves.  We were able to take a vacation to Gatlinburg, TN this summer and really enjoyed ourselves while we were there.  There have also been a couple of overnight stays in downtown Louisville, our little staycations.  And of course trips up to the central Indiana area to visit family and friends.

We have found a church that we enjoy attending and have also reconnected with my cousin and his family.  My cousin is the Associate Minister at the church we attend.  I enjoy going to the women's Bible study/book group that is led by my cousin's wife and we also love spending time with their three little girls.

My husband has started back to school working on his associates degree and he is really enjoying it.  The downfall is that some of his classes are two hours away, so this makes for some late nights for him.  It is all for the greater good though.

Now we come to the end of the year.  Right before Thanksgiving my husband's mother passed away during surgery from heart complications.  This was quite a blow and something that we were not expecting.  I could not even imagine losing two parents in one year and my heart ached for both him and for his brothers.  Not only did they lose one parent at the beginning of the year but they lost another parent right at the end.  I know that she wanted to join her husband and was really missing him, so I am glad that she is at peace now.  Unfortunately, we were not able to attend the memorial service because of my husband's finals.  Her memorial service was in December.  We were able to take off and head down to Poplar Bluff, MO and assist in getting some arrangements made before the memorial service.  We did this in November, right after she passed away which was during Thanksgiving as well.  My husband and I ended up eating at Cracker Barrel on Thanksgiving and it was actually very good!  It was something a little different, for the most part I am used to a big Thanksgiving with family and friends at someone's house.

This year I am sure that Christmas was a little sad for my husband, with losing both of his parents this year and not being able to celebrate it with them.  We enjoyed spending time with my parents and some of my other family on Christmas up in central Indiana.  The trips up there are usually short ones and I am always sad to leave but am thankful for the time that I get to spend with them, even if it is only for short periods.

Even though there is always bad that happens in life, I do feel very blessed to have a wonderful husband, family and friends. There is much to be thankful for and I look forward to what the new year will bring.

I will not make any resolutions this year only goals.  My goals are to continue to be the best wife and daughter that I can be, to be a great friend, to continue to lose weight, to eat out less and to continue exploring and enjoying life.

So here is wishing you and your family a Happy New Year! I hope you will join me in looking forward to the new year.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Memories

One of the best things about Christmas are the memories that are created with your family.  I love spending time with my family on Christmas, eating great food and enjoying the excitement on their faces when they unwrap their presents. It is not just one person that makes Christmas special but all of the different individuals that you spend Christmas with.

I have been very blessed to spend every Christmas with my parents, no matter where we have lived when I was little, or when I was in college or now that I am a married woman and have moved away. This year was no different then Christmas' past.  My husband and I headed out when he got out of work on Friday to stay at my parent's house for Christmas. This year my mother had Christmas eve off, so she wanted us to come up on Friday, so that we could spend Christmas eve and Christmas day together.

So, on Saturday we went to lunch with my parents and then my mom and I went to pick up my grandmother.  Ever since my grandfather has passed away and when he was in the nursing home, my grandmother stays over night at my parents house on Christmas eve.  This way she can enjoy Christmas morning with us.

That night we enjoyed driving around and looking at all of the beautiful Christmas lights that people had put up for the season.  Even though we were packed in my dad's car like sardines we had a great time!  I know my grandma enjoyed looking at the lights too!  After that we enjoyed prime rib at home, that my dad made.  Our old tradition was to have lasagna every year but since my husband does not really like lasagna, we did something different.  Note to my husband:  I get my lasagna back next year!!!!

Christmas morning had arrived, Santa had come!  It was time to open presents with my husband, mom, dad and grandma.  Ever since I was little I would get so excited for Christmas morning and would start waking my parents up at 4:00 a.m. to see if Santa had visited yet and if it was time to open presents.  I still get excited, not about Santa but just the day in general.  However, now it is my parents waking my husband and I up early in the morning to open presents!  I guess it is time for pay back, considering all of the years that I woke my parents up early.

After presents had been opened, wrapping paper and boxes put away, it was time to start cooking the Christmas meal.  This year family was coming to my parent's house.  Every year we usually rotate between my parent's house and my aunt and uncle's house.  I love everything about my mom's Christmas meal, the turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, noodles, green bean casserole and much much more.  There are to many favorites to name.

So who did we share our Christmas memories and meal with this year?  We shared it with not only my mom, dad and grandma but we also enjoyed sharing it with my aunt, uncle, cousin, his wife, their two little ones (ages 4 years & 6 months), my great uncle, my second cousin and his wife. We had a nice size group of people this year.

Christmas day had come to an end and it was time for my husband and I to head back home, since he had to work on Monday.  We had a wonderful Christmas with family and we were able to create Christmas memories together and with our family.  The only sad part about this Christmas is that we lost my husband's father and mother this year.  There were no new memories to make and share with them this year but we will cherish the Christmas memories that we had with them.

I hope that everyone who reads this blog (and even those who do not) had a wonderful Christmas and that you were able to create some special Christmas memories with your family and friends.  I know that my husband and I did!

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Groupon Date Night Adventure

Tonight we decided to have a mid-week date night.  The theme, Groupon date night adventure.

For our Groupon date night adventure our first stop was in Louisville, KY on Bardstown Rd.  Destination, Ramsi's Cafe on the World.  Just like their name their menu boasts a variety of different types of meals from around the world. It is a very interesting place to go, I am not really sure how to describe the decor or the flow of the restaurant.  I guess that I will say it is eclectic, just like their menu. The choices were overwhelming, do I try something different or do I play it safe.  Since there was another part to our adventure I decided to play it a little safe tonight.  We started out by ordering the Calamari Terra Santa and I was very impressed with how tender the calamari was.  Usually you do not get this type of freshness unless you are on the east or the west coast. Then for my main course I ordered the Crab Cakes, which were very tasty as well.  However, I think that I am not as in to crab cakes as I used to be, so in the future I will probably not order crab cakes.  My husband ended up ordering the Chicken Parmesan sandwich, he played it safe as well. I tasted it and I am not usually a huge fan but theirs was good, I was impressed.   The best part about our trip here was that they had my favorite drink in the whole wide world and that is a Caipirinha.  Did I mention how much I love this drink?

Overall the food was very good.  I would not be opposed to going again and trying something different, maybe not playing it as safe next time.  I do not think that we will make it one of our main haunts, as I felt that it is a little pricey for what it was but if we are feeling in the mood for something different we would go again. So if you are in the area and you are looking for something a little different, with some variety (Greek, Indian, Egyptian, Korean, Vegan, Vegetarian and so much more), then I would recommend giving this place a try, it really does have something on the menu for everyone.

Our second stop for our Groupon date night adventure was Lights Under Louisville at Mega Cavern, which is located in Louisville, KY off of Poplar Level Rd.  This was not our first trip to Lights Under Louisville, we also went last year.  However, this time I went armed with a Groupon!

Last year we waited in a line of cars for about two hours before we ever got to drive through the cavern to see the light show.  This year there was no wait, probably since it was a Wednesday night and it was after 8:00 p.m..  So we will have to remember this in the future.  Without a Groupon or some form of discount it is a little pricey, they charge $25.00 per vehicle.  Now if you have a car/van full of people then that is not a bad price but if there are just two of you then it is a little high.

I really did enjoy going again.  I love seeing their lights displays (which is all under ground in the cavern) and listening to the Christmas music that they have playing.  It is just a really neat sight to see.  Despite the cost it is something that, if you live in the area or are in the area, and you love Christmas, then you should take the time to see it.

So that concluded our Groupon date night!  It was great to get out with my husband during the week and have some time to explore and enjoy one another's company.  I think we really needed this night out!  I know that I had a great time and I believe that he did as well.

Here is hoping that you are exploring and having adventures of your own!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Family Time in Poplar Bluff, MO

Sadly my husband's mother passed away a little over a week before Thanksgiving.  So for the Thanksgiving holiday we headed down to Missouri to make arrangements for his mother's memorial service and to spend time with a couple of his brothers and their families.

To break our drive up on the way down we ended up staying at the Candlewood Suites in Cape Girardeau. The hotel was very nice and comfortable, from what I could tell, since we were not there for very long.  However, if we are ever in Cape Girardeau again I would definitely stay there again, no complaints.  I was actually quite impressed with Cape Girardeau, it appeared that there were quite a few sightseeing opportunities.  Since we were on our way to see family, we did not have time to take advantage of any of these opportunities but if we are ever in the area again I would definitely be be interested in exploring.

Since his mom had been living in Piedmont, MO, we made our way over to her rental house to meet up with a couple of his bothers and their families.  We all visited there for a while sharing memories and the brothers discussed arrangements that needed to be made.  After that we went over to the church and ate some dinner, played board games and caught up with one another on what was going on in life.

That night we checked in to our hotel.  We ended up booking a jacuzzi suite at the Holiday Inn, in Poplar Bluff.  There were a couple of issues with this hotel but overall we had a good stay and you could not beat the price, we have a family and friends discount that we get.

The following day was spent with family as well.  I really enjoyed the time that I got to spend with my sister-in-law.  We got to know one another a little better since we had only met one time at my husband's father's funeral.  I also enjoyed meeting my two youngest nephews.  The were true delights to spend time with!

Unfortunately, during this trip I was not able to go over the state line to Arkansas.  I wanted to add it to the list of states that I have visited and been to.  My total count is 28 or 29 states, I need to verify one location with my parents.  I have also been to four countries, not including the United States.

The trip ended to soon.  It was time to head home and say goodbye.  On our way home we stopped at Lambert's Cafe, the only home of  throwed rolls.  Yes, they really do throw rolls at you!  It was a neat place to eat at, with a really neat atmosphere.  Mainly fried foods, a little to salty for my taste but I am glad that we stopped there.

Overall, despite the sadness and the reason for the trip we had a good time.  The brothers were able to get some things done, in regards to his mother, we were able to spend some time with some of the family and the drive in MO was beautiful.

Hopefully, if we ever get down there again, it will be for a better reason and not because a relative passed away.