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The Week So Far

While mom and dad have been in So Cal this week, Matt and I have been house-sitting (dog-sitting) at their place.

We usually have a bit of a challenge because Jill and Kayla are on distinctly different schedules than Jack is. That is to say, they set the schedules for outings and feedings and mom and dad follow them. Matt and I do not play by those rules, so usually the first several days of our stay involve us conditioning the dogs out of their bad habits. Usually by the end of the week, they're back to being sweet, non-demanding dogs and Jill is actually acting like a dog and not a spoiled princess.

Of course, then mom and dad return and all our work goes by the wayside.

But the dogs tend to know and we tend to know, that when we stay over, it's going to be a battle of wills.

This week has presented an even more unique and potentially difficult challenge. With Kayla a mere two weeks ago from her 16th birthday, the physical signs of aging are more obvious than ever. She has advanced arthritis at this point and her alzheimer's is getting worse. Sadly, she doesn't recognize Matt anymore (and he used to be her hero for removing a particularly nasty thorn from her paw that the rest of us missed- she always had kisses for him after that) and I have to reintroduce her to him each morning so she's not so nervous when I leave for work. He says she normally just paces and "vultures" him (a term Ken and I came up with years ago to describe her habit of standing, staring at you with her head down and just following your movements a-la old Snoopy comics) until he leaves for work.

Most of the week has been expected: lack of sleep because the dogs are on awful sleep schedules (because mom stays up until 3 or 4 in the morning now). If I'm lucky, it's not storming and Jill will let me sleep. If I'm luckier, Jack's tummy is not upset (from digesting all the Kayla hair on the toys and in the carpet) and I can sleep. However, each morning about 4 or 4:30, Kayla makes her way down the stairs and I have to hurry down after her and let her out before she just drops it right there on the carpet. Normally, we've been okay. However, sometimes it just falls right out as she reaches the bottom of the stairs. Dad and I believe that she just doesn't have control of that part anymore and has no real idea when she needs to go anymore. But because she's so self-conscious about it, she is constantly asking to go out in order to avoid accidents. Since the weather has been agreeable, I've been leaving the patio door open for hours at a time while I'm home so she can just wander in and out at her leisure. This doesn't always prevent the accidents, sadly. But she tries. And fortunately, she can still hold her urine.

She's still very wobbly on her feet and slick surfaces give her the worst problems. If she turns too quickly, her back legs give out and she goes down.

I've asked Ken to come over before he starts his evening shift at Walgreens each day to let her out. Usually this is about 1pm or so that he's able to come over and it helps, since Kayla is used to mom being home all day.

Yesterday, however, was a bad day for Kayla. Matt didn't have any work to do at his job, so he left early. He got home around 3pm and I got a call from him shortly after saying that Kayla had apparently fallen on the hardwood floor and had probably been laying there for two hours. She was covered in urine and crap because she was unable to get up. Matt said she reeked and we both agreed that she would need a bath. However, given that she's already nervous around Matt these days, we felt it might be a bad idea to force her into an unpleasant situation with someone she didn't remember. So he helped her up and left her outside until I could get home to bathe her. Meanwhile, he cleaned up what must have been an awful mess, judging by the smell when I came home.

I wasn't able to leave work early, but drove home as quickly as I could, considering I work about 20 miles away. When I got home, I ushered her upstairs and corralled her into the bathroom. My preference was to give her a bath in mom and dad's shower because it was bigger and I didn't have to lift her into a tub. I had a small breakdown while waiting for the water to warm up. Sensing my distress, she showered me with lots of kisses, something she just doesn't do anymore. You might get one good kiss from her periodically. This time, she seemed to be trying to reassure me that everything was okay.

Either that, or she was trying to persuade me not to give her a bath.

Unfortunately, a bath was desperately needed and we both got into the shower. I tried to make it as quick as possible, as her legs kept sliding and giving out. Had I been thinking clearly, I would have placed towels on the bottom of the shower to help her keep her balance. Every time she went down, she whined and I know it had to be very uncomfortable, given that her hip probably hurt from where she fell. We got out, and I toweled her off and let her outside.

I've been keeping a close eye on her. She seems to be back to pretty much where she was before, but I called dad and we agreed that once is a bad day, but if she continues to fall like this, then we need to re-assess the situation.

I know that we're fighting against time here and that either her legs or her mind will finally give up. But that doesn't make it any more difficult to deal with. She's my Kayla-bug and it's hard to imagine her not in that house anymore. And I can't believe that 16 years have flown by so quickly. I'm just glad that she's stubborn and has been able to stay with us this long.

Busy!

Had quite a busy weekend- need much more sleep!

On Friday, Ryan, Sarah and Faisal came over and the five of us spent the evening playing video games and catching up. Had a really good time doing so.

On Saturday, got up at 9am and drove mom and dad to the airport. Headed back to our place and started straightening up since Matt's mom, brother, wife, and the twins were coming over around 5pm to visit. While I was running to the store for food, I stopped off at Rothman's furniture b/c the store is closing (sad). We bought our bed and couch from them and have always liked their prices. We had been talking about adding a loveseat to the basement because we desperately need more comfortable seating down there. They were out of the loveseat that matched our couch- but they had another full sized couch just like ours for $350. So we shifted some stuff around at home, grabbed dad's pickup truck and bought ourselves a second couch. It came in really handy that night because everyone had somewhere comfy to sit and watch the kids play. I also got some big-time "cool Aunt" points because last time we saw the twins in K.C. in February, I told her that I would show her all my old My Little Ponies next time they visited us. So I brought out my giant storage tub and her little jaw just dropped on the floor. She spent all night brushing their hair and dressing them up. I also had my old legos, which I let Andy tackle until he got bored. Then Uncle Matt was nice enough to hook up the Kinect and Andy had a blast. When everyone left, we packed a duffle bag and headed over to mom and dad's since we're house sitting for the week.

Yesterday we ran a couple of errands and then went over to our place to get a couple of things done. Matt worked on cleaning the old couch (which looks dirtier next to the new one now) and scotch-guarding the new one. I started shampooing the carpets upstairs. We agreed that this would be a good week to do that, since we wouldn't have to worry about walking on wet carpets since we're staying at mom and dad's this week. Got the grocery shopping done and headed back to mom and dad's. Matt fired up the grill and we had bbq hot dogs (which is about the only way I'll eat a hot dog willingly), mac n' cheese and pistacio salad. After dinner, I called grandma since I haven't talked to her in a couple of weeks. Told her that I found grandpa's old UC Berkeley yearbook from 1947 on ebay and that I'm waiting for it to be delivered to me. It's not his, specifically- he just happens to be listed in it since he attended that year. I really wanted to see it, so I bought it. Grandma thought this was really cool.

I find that I have been getting hit with what Wil Wheaton refers to as "hyper-nostalgia"; where you have nostalgia attacks so bad that it hurts or makes you want to cry. I'm inflicted with that pretty frequently. I have no idea if part of it's because I had to move from my home against my will- or if I would be going through this no matter what. I think it's possible that it's a mixture of both. I picked up some Little Ceasar's on Friday and as soon as I walked in the store, I was instantly transported back to 13 years old. Summer time pool parties with my friends and birthday parties at Camelot. I found our old address in Anaheim (1115 W Beacon Ave) and grandma's old address in Yorba Linda (4642 Briarhill Drive), where mom and I lived with her and grandpa while dad was overseas while he was still in the Marines. The house in Anaheim still looks the same. I remember sitting on that driveway every night and watching the Disneyland fireworks because we were literally right behind It's a Small World, practically. Grandma's house look pretty much the same outside, although they painted it blue- it was peach or yellow when she lived there. The inside is different, though. And they got rid of the beautiful landscaping and koi pond grandpa put in, which made me very sad.

I know that change is constant and that nothing stays the same. I think it's just hard to acknowledge sometimes. You have fond memeories from your childhood and you want to go back and see the physical evidence of those memories. So when things are changed (such as my house in Brea), you feel like it makes those memories less real. It also emphasizes that your childhood is gone that much more and that things will never be as they were. Sometimes that's really hard to let go of. In my case, so much of that is made much worse by the simple fact that I'm still so homesick. That's another reason I'm so glad that we're heading back out there next month. The trips back to Cali tend to serve as a sort of recharge for me. A way for me to be completely and blissfully happy again because even though things have changed, I'm home again with the palm trees, the ocean, and the sunshine that seems to be unique only to California. The sun never seems to shine quite the same way anywhere else, especially in the morning.
There have been times when I've tried to tell myself that I need to get over this- that I live in Missouri now and I need to let that go. I've had other people tell me this as well. However, I think it's a pain and dull ache that never really goes away. Perhaps somewhat like losing a loved one, the pain never goes away- you just learn to continue with your life and live with the pain. But at least I always have the option of going back. And thank goodness my husband loves it there, too and I don't have to convince him to go! I am so grateful for that.

But perhaps someday I will win the lottery. Or find out that I have some previously unknown rich relative that will leave us a great inheritance. A girl can dream, right? And then I can move back home and work at Sea World, which I've wanted to do since I was a little girl.

A Letter to My 12 Year Old Self

I've been feeling somewhat reflective today, so I wanted to post this.

Dear 12 Year Old Michelle,

So far, this has seemed like an unsettling year for you. You've officially left behind the only school you've known for seven years and have started Jr. High. All of a sudden, it's not just about the people who you've grown with since Kindergarten- now there are new faces, new classes, new lockers... everything seems strange.

Well, this is just the beginning. Over the next 20 years, your life is going to change quite a bit. I'm writing this letter to you, hoping that it will provide you with a few useful hints as you continue your journey in life. Hindsight being 20/20, I hope you will take what I list here to heart.

- You are going to make some of the most meaningful friendships of your life this year. Don't be afraid to talk to people and make new friends.

- At the same time, unbeknownst to you, your current best friend of the past seven years will be going through a very difficult time. You might think that she's distancing herself because she no longer wants to be friends- but it's because she's hurting. Reach out to her. Don't let your insecurities get the better of you.

- You will be moving to another state in the next three years; enjoy all the time you have left in California. You know all those things that you've never done here because mom and dad always say "we can do that anytime- we live here"? Do them now.

- That paralyzing fear you get every time you go anywhere these days? Those are anxiety attacks. Develop a form of meditation that will allow you to move past them. It will help you get your life back in control.

- Don't worry- you will have a boyfriend, eventually. However, don't use relationships to define who you are. Learn to be comfortable being your own person, first. Be secure in yourself and who you are.

- That cute blonde guy who gives great hugs and spends two hours talking to you at work when all he came to do was pick up his paycheck? Yeah, call him. Trust me, it's worth it.

- Don't waste so much time over the next five to six years being so angry. It's not worth it. Find a positive way to deal with those emotions.

- This may sound cliche, but your parents do actually know what they're talking about.

- Your brother might seem like a dork and a pest now, but he becomes your best friend. Be patient with him. He just wants to hang out with the "big kids".

- You know how you think "I don't have to worry about that now because I'll have it figured out by the time I'm an adult"? You still won't have all the answers 20 years later. However, you will benefit from doing your research now. Don't be afraid of the unknown; it will only hurt you in the long run. Take control of your future now.

- You will fly back to California for two weeks after you graduate High School. Enjoy that time- it will be one of the best memories you carry with you.

- Be patient with S.T. as he ages- none of what happens is his fault; it's just a product of getting old.

- Entenmann's is not your friend- put the damn cookie down and don't stop exercising!

- Take your husband and go visit your Uncle Russ before you get married. Everything else that you're saving up for can wait a little longer. Trust me.

- Don't sweat your wedding day- everything will turn out beautiful.

- Listen to your inner voice more often and don't be afraid to speak up.

- There won't be flying cars yet or Mr. Fusion, but you will have phones that you can carry in your pocket that also act as computers, cameras, walkmans, and video game systems.

- And overall, learn to be happy with who you are. You are a pretty great person and you have a lot to look forward to in life.

- Oh, and don't follow Ryan through that cornfield in your car. In fact, buy a whole new battery for that car before you go to that concert. Mom and dad will thank you for it.

Tags:

Amused/happy

Finally broke down and told Matt last week that I was slightly concerned over the possiblity that I *might* be pregnant.
His response: "I would be very surprised because it would be sooner than we planned, but I would be happy for us".
My response: that's so sweet! Let's have a baby right now!

Seriously, though, that made my heart smile. I thought he would be panicky and totally freaked out, but I think maybe I just don't give him enough credit sometimes.

This week, however, I have been ridiculously sick. I have been working on getting my pill cycle back to normal, since I messed it up somehow, sometime, last month. I have had my "visitor", but ever since, I've been nauseous, exhausted, and slightly feverish. I'm told those are early symptoms of pregnancy. However, they're also symptoms of the flu, which I think is much more likely, since everyone around me in the office seems to be sick this week. I'm sure it also doesn't help that in normal, Missouri weather fashion, we went from 82 degrees on Monday to 32 degrees and snowing last night.
This morning was the first morning of feeling somewhat normal (ie: not nauseous) since Monday. Told this to Matt before I left for work. Also told him that if I took a 180 and felt all nauseous and sick again by the time I got home (like yesterday), that I would be taking the other pregnancy test under the bathroom sink.
His response: "uh-oh" (while smiling ear-to-ear like a big silly dork).
This of course, made me melt in a big pile of mushy love-goo and made it hard to leave for work.
I have been floating on a happy, euphoric love-cloud ever since- just thinking about that grin of his from this morning.

I think those are some of the little moments that make marriage great!

Shirley!

I was reading your Knot website again, since I have more time now.

First of all: why are we not wearing steampunk bridesmaid dresses? I think that this idea needs to be implemented.

Second, Hotels: you had mentioned if you needed to do something with hotels. Not necessarily, but what I did was call up a few of the hotels close to the reception site (so tired and/or drunk people didn't have far to go) and find out if they would offer a discount if I booked a block of rooms. I didn't have to put any money down, but since there were so many people coming, they offered a discount rate for those staying (I think I reserved 20 rooms, but our wedding was somewhat small- and I know there were probably only 10 used b/c so many people stayed with relatives or friends). So I know my family appreciated it. Also, the out of towners didn't have to try and figure out where they needed to stay, if they weren't familiar with the area. It was sort of a courtesy thing, I guess. I still had people who decided to stay at other hotels, and that was fine- but I wanted to try and help, especially if i thought they could get rates a little cheaper!

Anticipation

I had to laugh a bit, because this thought has already occurred to me. I guess Matt was a little slower in the realization of it.

Ever since Shirley announced her engagement and asked me to be a bridesmaid, I've been pretty excited. Not only because one of my bestest friends is getting married, but also because I am now able to anticipate a trip home in less than a year. Knowing full well how much Matt enjoyed his stay out there during our honeymoon and the cost involved, I figured that this would turn into a mini-vacation of no less than five days. I tentatively put the suggestion out there for Matt, but I guess it was too subtle because he didn't pick up on it at all. Then yesterday, I get a call from him while at work. Apparently, he's very excited because he got the great idea that we should turn the impending trip into a mini-vacation. He was a little disappointed when I told him that I had already figured we'd be doing that. Boys are silly. Anyway, he explained the need for us to return to Disneyland, plus this time around he said he wanted to visit Universal Studios. Last time we were out there and Jackie took us to LA for the day and we visited Universal City Walk, he was kinda disappointed that we hadn't put Universal on our schedule. I had told him that maybe next time we could go, so of course, he had to make sure to remind me of the fact.

Right now I'm trying to wrap my head around where we're supposed to get all this money for airfaire, Disney admission, Universal admission, plus regular money for food, a rental car, and the fact that I will need a dress for said wedding and of course a wedding present. I think sometimes Matt forgets about those details when he's excited. I'm pretty sure we'll probably be staying with my aunt and uncle when we go out because they were pretty sad that we hadn't asked them for the honeymoon. So I figured we'd hit them up for it this time around and see if they were still game. My cousin is super-excited. I figure when we hit the theme parks, she'll probably go with us. That's fine- her and her brother Matthew were always like our little sister and brother when Ken and I were growing up and I've missed them terribly since we moved.

Guess we'll just have to see how all this develops, financially speaking. Sure would be easier if I could just get someone to hire me for part time work! Argh. No one calls me, though.

In the meantime, I'm doing what I can to try and jumpstart my weight loss program. Being very good by bringing my Special K cereal for breakfast. For lunch, I drink one of the Special K protein shakes and have some fruit, as well. Dinner is normal, but I try to take much smaller portions (our plates are ridiculously huge- I read an article saying this is part of the reason why Americans have such issues with weight loss; Europe's dinner plates are a fraction of the size of ours). The first week has proven to be challenging, but I'm starting to get used to it. Also, dad has upgraded some of his workout equipment and is giving me his old treadmill, so that'll be great to have in my house! Mom also mentioned possibly getting me a Wii Fit for my birthday, but I'm still undecided there.

Not sure what's going on with me today

... but I am in an unusually bubbly mood. It's very strange. I've been practically skipping up and down the halls at work and I have no idea why! I wish I could attribute it to something in particular but I have no idea what that would be. In addition to that, I also slept better last night than I have in months. Pretty sure that's related but I wish I knew the cause!

Happenings

It's always sad when you're only an hour into your shift and you know it's going to be a rough day at work.

In anycase, I have a lot to be pleased about, otherwise!
Found out earlier today that Matt is employed again.  He had been working at a new job until the 2nd of the month, when his company decided to lay off the night shift.  So he's been out of work for the past three weeks.
As of Monday, he will begin work at another dealership garage.  He'll be making quite a bit less than at this last job, but he's guaranteed a raise in six months and we both figure a smaller paycheck is better than no paycheck.  So we'll see how this place works out for him.  He and dad will be moving his toolbox over to the new place sometime today.

Matt and his dad will be painting the kitchen tomorrow.  Matt and I had originally figured to take care of it ourselves, but his parents decided they wanted to help and since Matt's mom and I will be going to a craft fair tomorrow, I guess his dad figured that he and Matt would take care of the painting.  Okay, sure.  Whatever, I guess.  We still need the paint the guest bedroom, so Matt and I can take care of that ourselves.

Tomorrow night, Matt, myself, Ryan, Sarah, and Ken (sans his Sara) will be going to see Cinematic Titanic (MST3K live)!  We missed it last year because they decided to come through STL on the night of our wedding.  We were pretty pissed about that.  So this year we decided we weren't going to miss it and thought it would make for an amusing anniversary gift to eachother.

Going to try and wrap up the rest of my Christmas shopping on Sunday, although I still don't know what to buy for Ryan and Sarah.  Almost done, though.  My goal was to finish before Thanksgiving, so I'm not doing too badly.

Looking forward to next week because I only work three days.  Thanksgiving will be spent at mom and dad's although I don't know what's on the menu yet.

Found out that grandma and Uncle Mike will be coming out this way for Christmas, which should be nice.  I tend to miss the big Christmases that we when everyone still lived in California.  Of course back then I was young, so I didn't have to do any of the cleaning or cooking necessary for so much company- but it was still nice.

Made four dozen cookies for a charity bake sale on Wednesday.  They were coconut oatmeal cookies and I thought they turned out really tasty.  Nice thing is that everyone who participated in the bake sale got to pick one cookie from everyone else's contributions that they wanted and you could have up to 24 cookies total to take home with you.  There were 40 entries total, I think.  It was a nice turnout and I have a tasty stash of cookies at home now!
The Holidays are dangerous when you're trying to lose weight....

News!

So Matt is officially employed again, woohoo!

He will be working at a Kia dealership and making 40% more than at his last job- another perk!  Only bad thing is that he will be working second shift- 3pm until midnight.  Meh.  But I grew up watching my dad work second and third shifts, so this isn't exactly anything out of the norm for me.  It will take some getting used to- especially for Matt, I think- but I don't think it will be horrible.  I told Matt that even if he finds out that he hates it, he can look for another job later and know that he'll have time during the day to do so before going into work.  And that at least he'll have a bigger bargaining chip in regards to pay than he did before.  So we'll be making about the same amount of money, which is nice because it'll let us save up for a new car for me that much faster and let us do a few things around the house, as well.

Slight change of subject: in light of that news, we came across a TV at Best Buy that was on sale for half the price of what we originally budgeted spending.  The TV was pretty far down our list of things to update, but at 50% off, it jumped up to the top.  So with my unexpected bonus money for last month and Sara's employee discount we bought ourselves a 50" TV for a pretty good price.  This was our bit of celebration splurge for Matt's new job. 

Next on the list: new fridge.  But I need to watch out for sales/clearances.  I don't like to buy things at full price if I can help it.  Probably won't happen until after Christmas, though.  I can busy myself with painting the kitchen, in the meantime.

The long, hard road...

... to losing all this excess weight has officially begun!

Joined up with The Pointe, which is Ballwin's community fitness center, on Thursday.  I also encouraged mom to join, in hopes that my going will help keep her motivated.  Her first visit will be today, but mine was yesterday.

I had wanted to get back to my high school weight of 145 lbs, but wasn't sure if that was "ideal" or not.  After doing a bit of reading, I discovered that supposedly, that is my ideal weight for my height, which I found interesting.  Also found out that my BMI is about 33% and that in order to get to my target weight, I will have to lose 120 lbs.  Ugh.  So I have a long way to go, but I have to focus on it a little at a time.  5 lbs here, 10 lbs there, etc.  My intention is not to just lose weight for me, but also to lose weight for my babies (eventually).  I want to be able to play with (and keep up with) our kids when we have them and I certainly am in no shape to do that right now.  Also read an article in Women's Health that mentioned that it's a good idea to start getting your body in shape now if you want to have a baby in the next 2-5 years, and I certainly fall into that bracket.  Plus, I'm just tired of being uncomfortable.  It scares me to think that I weigh almost twice what I should, and with my family's history of heart attacks and diabetes... it's probably wise to not tempt fate.

So yesterday was a small victory in that it was my first visit and I worked out for one hour, which was my goal.  Spent 30 minutes on a stair-stepper (which was really hard!) and 30 minutes on a bike machine (which was a little easier, but still a good workout).  Was exhausted for the rest of the night, but felt really good.  No pain today, which I will take as a good sign and even better encouragement to return and do more of the same today!

Now I just have to see if I can help keep mom on track as well.