Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Halloween is always a fun holiday. The kids love getting dressed-up and going door to door snagging loads of candy. The girls are going to be little witches this year and as they like to point out, "Not scary witches. Good witches, with sequins!". Their little cousin, Hailey, is going to be a witch too so the three of them should make quite the trio...I will have my camera at the ready!

A new twist for me, though, is school. They have a "Harvest Party" (oh, brother!) tomorrow, which means dropping them off in their costumes and then joining their class later in the afternoon for the party. It should a hoot but I just can't imagine 18 four-year-olds + 2 teachers + parents all fitting into their classroom. This is going to interesting at best! Then, on Friday, they have another "Pumpkin Party" at gymnastics school. Same thing there but their costumes need to be "movement" friendly. So much to think about beyond trick-or-treating!

Halloween day is going to be another dreary, wet, windy affair which is totally on par for Michigan weather. It will be the first time going through our new neighborhood and it will give us a good chance to meet some of our neighbors. At least our porch is completely covered and big enough for a lot of little ones to stand on! I have a ton of candy and if all else fails, tons of snack packs and granola bars! I have no clue how many kids to expect here. There were easily over 100 kids, sometimes double that, at our old house.

I hope that your Halloween Day is a great one and be on the lookout for pictures in the next several gotta love cute kids in costumes! :)

Friday, October 23, 2009

Is it worth it?

Some of the colors in our back yard...

We had another appraiser out to the house today. We are in the process of refinancing the house for mainly two reasons.
  1. To get an even better interest rate than we had in March
  2. To reassess our home value in order to gain equity for financial purposes. 
This process has been unlike anything we have ever gone through. We were originally told that we could refinance the mortgage after 3 months. There were a lot of hoops at that time that we would have to jump through, such as $X in the bank and X number of rent payments on the old house. We were diligent and followed through on everything, but when the time came to proceed, we were told the time frame was now 6 months. Great.

So, the 6 month period has come and gone. Once again, we have completed everything as asked, delivered a hundred papers to the lender, stashed money away in the bank, etc. and here we sit. We had our appraisal done weeks ago and it came in at just about where we thought it would. Hooray! But wait! The underwriter doesn't "trust" the numbers on the appraisal so they have forced us to get another appraisal. "It's no big deal.", the lender assures us. Ya sure, no big deal. Just another $350 out of our pockets, that's all. Oh, and more waiting -AND- if the second appraisal comes in higher (how nice!), the underwriter will still throw it out and use the original value. If the second appraisal comes in lower (boooo!), we throw it out and still use the original value, but with a smaller loan amount. It's not like we even had a say which appraisers were chosen, that's completely up to the Lender...and they don't "trust" the value? Madness.

With luck, we will close by Thanksgiving! No, I really do hope it's sooner than that but I'm not a patient person so all this fooling around is killing me. In the end, it will be great to definitively say just how much Mike and I were able to raise our home value, in just a few months, with our own hands. Then we can finally give ourselves that long awaited pat-on-the-back and start working on other projects that have been neglected for far too long. Can anyone say, "Garage"?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Falling for Autumn

Fall is my favorite season of the year. Usually, Autumn in Michigan is the epitome of perfection. Warm, sunny afternoons full of color and the smell of freshly fallen leaves, followed by cool evenings. The air permeated by the sounds of a marching band or a crackling fire in the fireplace. I love walking wooded trails, paved like a golden rainbow with a canopy of color rustling overhead. Driving down a county road, creating a swirling vortex of leaves in your wake. Raking the yard just to make a pile big enough for the squealing kids to jump into. This is Fall. This is what I love...

Our weather this year hasn't been the finest so we make do with what we have. The trees are still beautiful with their blankets of orange, yellow and red. The hikes have been some of my favorites of the year and a crisp, clear sky full of stars still greets us at night. My camera loves Fall, too. So many great shots of the girls playing, the family picking pumpkins, dressing up for Halloween or sitting by the fire. There are plenty of leaves at our new place and football season is in full swing. I even had my first date with Mike in the Fall...September 18th, 1993. 16 years sure seems like a lifetime ago but as soon as I catch the scent of that cool, apple-autumn breeze blowing my way, it seems like only yesterday.

I love Fall.....

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Lonely Daze, Lonely Nights...

February 18th, 2008

I apologize for the graphic photo. It is actually the first time I have seen it on my computer. It was a photo that Mike snapped of me with his cell phone and the only one to my knowledge of my time in the hospital last year. The reason that I wanted to share this with you is that I just finished reading the book, "Bed Number Ten" by Sue Baier, a woman who suffered through Guillain-Barré syndrome back in the early 80's. Although I knew about the book last year, I just couldn't bring myself to read it. I was afraid of it. Of the memories that it would bring to the surface and how I would react to it.

For some reason, when a friend of mine, who is going back to school to become a nurse, mentioned how much she liked the book, I really wanted to read it. So I ordered it. I stared at it for a day. Then I took the plunge. And very quickly, I was drawn back into a world that I would rather forget. I think I cried every couple pages until closer to the end of the book. The struggle of being completely paralyzed except for your eyes yet being able to hear and feel everything. Being hooked up to the ventilator because you can't breathe on your own, and now you can't talk either. Having no way to call anyone for help except with your tears. And the worst of it was the nursing staff who thought I was a nut job at first, and even when they realized this was as real as it gets, treated me like I didn't even exist.Oh the stories I could tell you...

Just like Sue, I had the best husband, family and friends who were there to take care of me, my home and children when I couldn't. I also had some excellent nurses, although they were few and far between, and if I had my way would have been with me 24/7. Obviously that wasn't realistic but oh how I dreaded when their shift ended! Who was I going to get now? What kind of torture would I have to endure for the next 12 hours? Would I ever sleep through the night again? And on and on and on.....Most of the Doctors were pretty cruel as well, unless they wanted my consent to present my case in front of others, for teaching purposes. Then they were all smiles and warmth. Guillain-BarrĂ© syndrome is very rare, only occurring in approximately 10  per 1 million people each year. So each hospital in Kent County might only see 1, maybe 2 cases per year, with each patient presenting differently. Crazy, huh?

My point is, if you ever wanted to know what people like me have to go through with this disease, you have only to read this book to find the answer. Although Sue was in the hospital MUCH longer than me (the medical treatments that I received did not exist in the 80's), our stories are the same. I would love to meet her some day and I think that, in the future, I would like to help other families who are suffering with GBS.

....In case anyone is interested, you can see my breathing tube, feeding tube and suction tube in the picture. I could wobble my head slightly at this time but not much, which is why I have several rolled towels there to support me. I could not move, other than some finger twitches and eyes. I needed to have a cloth tucked under my chin at all times to catch the constant drool pouring out of my mouth. You can't see the 3-pronged port in my neck, but it pulled and itched all the time, just like the tape on my face. Even though the physical scars are disappearing, the emotional ones are still raw and healing.

Thanks for letting me share's another step forward for me on the path to being able to help others who are suffering. I appreciate your support more than you know...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

"Me" Time

My days have been hectic lately. The weather isn't helping either. Just the other day, I felt like my limbs were filled with lead and I couldn't bear to do anything other than the basic necessities. Tomorrow, for instance, is so jam packed with activities that there is no time for a breather. I really needed some time to myself...I was starting to feel down and self loathing, which isn't good for me or my family.

What better way to grab that much needed pick-me-up than an afternoon at the salon! From the moment that I walk in, I know that my worries are behind me and the only thing I need to focus on is listening to my stylist tell me, "Chin down" or "Now I'm going to rinse", etc. I get to be pampered and come out looking better than when I walked in without my lifting a finger! Sweet.

I ended up getting 6 inches loped off which, if nothing else, will ease my afternoon/evening headaches from wearing my long hair up, as I often do. I was given new layers, bangs readjusted (along with my attitude), and a fresh new look and outlook. I also splurged and purchased some new product for my hair, makeup (threw out a bunch of the old stuff) and finally picked out a nice, new brush. I felt so much better by the time I was done-too bad I can't afford to do it more often!

"Me" time is heavenly and I've learned that when life seems too crazy and out of balance, just taking a few moments to honor your own person makes a world of difference. You're the only "you" you've got!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Playing Games

This afternoon, I employed the girls in a fun game of Pick Up Sticks. With all of the "lovely" weather that Michigan has been experiencing during the past several days weeks months...ok, all year...the yard was pretty much a disaster zone. Leaves were everywhere and large branches, bark and sticks covered every available square inch of grass. With perseverance, we covered the entire yard and made a nice little pile of wood/kindling that we can conveniently use in our indoor or outdoor fireplace. S'mores, anyone?

Then I got the brilliant idea of surprising Mike by mowing the yard. Now, some of you have seen our yard and know that it is massive, especially compared to our old yard. We have a riding mower and truthfully, I can not remember the last time that I used it to cut the grass. We are talking years here folks...I certainly have never cut it since living in Cascade. We used to have a walk-behind mower and I mowed the grass all the time at our first house, and I actually like using the snow blower, so it's not like I'm afraid use big yard machines or anything. It's just that Mike normally likes doing it so much and I am more than happy to oblige him!

So, I hopped on, started her right up and began my journey around the yard. Now, our yard is NOT flat. In fact, it has some steep sections, tight spaces, and tons of trees. There is a spot right between our neighbors house and ours that is very steep, narrow and rutted. Embarrassingly, I have never been that scared mowing the lawn in my life! I thought I was going to tip over sideways every time I had to go through there! I kept thinking, "I wonder if the neighbors can see the fear on my face every time I drive by?" and then I would mentally slap myself..."Get a grip, girl! It's just a lawn mower!". Then, to top it off, I ran out of gas right in the middle of that section, which felt more like teetering on the edge of a sheer cliff! Ugh. Thank goodness the spare gas can was full, so I filled 'er up again and continued on my way.

I eventually got the whole thing done, although I'm convinced that it took me twice as long as Mike. But, I did it! Here's hoping that he's happy about it, instead of being sad I usurped his favorite weekly chore!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Footprints in the Sand

This is one of my favorite photos from the trip so I wanted to share it with you. I love seeing just the girls and their little footprints walking in the sand at sunset. They were great the whole trip but being at the beach was always their favorite. The Gulf of Mexico was a balmy 85 degrees, full of gentle waves and crystal clear water that let you see the tropical fish swimming around your ankles!

As usual, we had a wonderful and relaxing vacation in Florida. I know that most of you don't want to hear this but we had sunny days, warm temps (in the 80's), light breezes and the sound of the waves crashing on the shore daily. The weather was perfect. I don't know what the official count was but I know that we found over 150 new Geocaches, swam in the pools, played on the beach, read a few good books, enjoyed the local cuisine, spent quality time with my family and friends, etc. Life was good!

Now, back to reality...