Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The Long Weekend Recap

I love a long weekend. This one was very welcome since Hubby had been out of town earlier last week for four days. When he is gone I usually get to the point that I don't know what to do with myself and can't wait for him to get home. I think that after almost 32 years of marriage, that is a very good thing.

Friday night we started off on a good foot. We went out for BBQ at a place we kind of stumbled upon. I really, really like the ribs. I am, however, thankful that it's a 25 minute drive away or else I would want to go there more often.

We debated about spending the weekend up in the mountains, but opted for a day trip instead. Saturday morning we hit the road heading towards the mountains of North Carolina. I had read in a quilting magazine about a quilt shop in a town called Franklin and the town sounded like a cute town with fun shops to explore.

As we were making our way through a small South Carolina town, Hubby all of a sudden pulled the car over and said there was a police car behind him with the lights flashing. He thought the police car would go on by, but it stopped behind us.


Turns out we didn't see the 35mph speed limit sign and the police Chief clocked us going 50mph.


Back story::: Hubby tends to get pulled over for speeding every couple of years. He's not a crazy fast driver by any means, but neither of us can remember the last time he actually got a speeding ticket. He seems to only get a warning and more often, just a verbal warning.

So, back to Saturday morning.... the Chief of Police stopped us because Hubby was going 50mph in a 35mph.....as the policeman was checking things out I told Hubby there was no was he was getting anything less than a speeding ticket and I was wondering how much it was going to be when the chief came back and handed Hubby a ...... WARNING!!!!! I tried my hardest to wait until the policeman was back to his car before I burst out laughing! Of course my next move was to text the kids. They just shake their heads in amazement and think their dad is the luckiest person when it comes to speeding tickets. 

Back on the road....we arrived in Franklin and found an interesting restaurant for late lunch. The restaurant was attached to a gas station. The ambiance of the restaurant was quite nice and more than we expected given the location. The food was very good, too.

As we were waiting for our food, I looked up the quilt shop I was wanting to go to on my  phone to pull up the directions and saw that the shop had closed 45 minutes earlier! Phooey. I should have investigated this before we took off on our road trip. Oh well. The town of Franklin turned out to be a disappointment.

We decided to head back towards home, but stop at antique stores and farmer's markets along the way.

We found lots of yummy produce at the farmer's markets. We came home with strawberries, cucumbers a watermelon and lots of peaches (my favorite).

We stopped at an interesting store that had lots and lots and lots of architectural pieces. Think piles of table legs, piles of brackets, stacks of doors and windows, etc.  I have be wanting an interesting window to hang in our bedroom. Just look at what I found! I was excited that it is not just rectangular.

We also found some brackets and a basket.

Even though our initial purpose for our road trip was a total bomb, we ended up having a really good day together.

Sunday was a low-key day with church in the morning, lunch at a bagel place and a quiet afternoon at home. Sunday night we watched a movie I had saved on the DVR. Neither one of us had ever seen Dirty Dancing. When I saw that it was released in 1987 I knew why. That was the year our son was born. I doubt we saw any movies that year. But now that we have finally seen it, I feel like we are part of the 80s. ha. ha.

Monday evening we went downtown Greenville and hung out in a beautiful park by the river. Supper was at a really good burger place that was new to us. As we were paying our bill I got a text from our daughter wanting to know if we wanted to Skype. My answer to that text is always YES!

I think this Skype session was the most that Lydia (14.5 months old) has interacted with us. We had so much fun! We sing You Are My Sunshine to her every time we Skype and try to sing it to her when we see her in person. We hope she starts to make the connection that we are the same people she sees on her mommy's phone. The last couple of times we sang to her, Lydia smiled and did her cute baby wiggle-her-bottom-and-stomp-her-feet-dance. We also got a wave good-bye and a kiss blown to us.

It was a perfect ending to a good long weekend.

Oh, and one more thing.

Last week when Hubby was gone I tackled this job:

What are all those things hanging on the drying rack? Neckties. 199 neckties. (I think the total number of neckties was close to 210. Hubby kept a couple for himself, and I threw out a couple of knit ties and some horribly ugly ones that I knew I wouldn't be able to make myself use.) These all belonged to my dad. I spent a couple of days taking them apart, removing the interfacing and lining. I washed them all (in the washing machine) and hung them up to air dry. I hope to make a quilt or two with these someday. Probably a table runner or a wall hanging.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

March and May Visits

Time for some cuteness here the the ole blog....

This sweet, little girl came to visit us in March. And she brought her mom and dad along!

I remember telling Hubby several years ago that I wanted a blue-eyed grand-baby. Just look at those eyes! They melt my heart so easily.

 She loved my spaghetti. I love those orange cheeks.

We got her this cute tent from IKEA. It's really not very big, but can you see her mommy in there? (Her daddy was in there at one time, too.) They all had fun with it. 

 The tent will make another appearance on another visit. I hope that Lydia and her new little brother or sister (due in December!!) will have a lot of fun playing in the tent.

The five of us drove up to Asheville, NC for a day and toured the Biltmore Estate.  Hubby and I had fun playing with Lydia on the lawn while her parents explored the gardens.

Lydia got her first skinned knee while she was visiting us. Her mommy seemed to always have skinned knees when she was little.

 Hubby had meetings in Minnesota earlier this month, so of course I tagged along so we could make a side trip to see Lydia and her mom and dad. See the dress she is wearing? My mom made it for me when I was a little girl. The hand-prints are tracings of my hands. My daughter wore this dress and I love that now my granddaughter can wear it.

Lydia loves to play with her blocks. Just look at this stack! Quite awesome for a 14 month old. Her mommy loved to do things like that, too.

I am always amazed with how much I love this little girl. How fun it has been to watch her grow. Each time we get to spend time with her I like to see how she has changed since we saw her last. By the end of the year she will have a new baby brother or sister and a new cousin (boy)! I can hardly grasp that I will have three grandchildren.

I told my hubby the other night that sometimes it seems like the first 25 years of our marriage and raising our children zoomed by so quickly. And now we are into the grand-parenting stage.

And thus the name of this blog...

Ampersand &

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Health ::: The Deep Stuff and All the Feelings

I wrote in my last post about all the health stuff I've been through so far this year. But I've been thinking a lot about how God has been working in me and what He's been teaching me through all of this.

The morning after my thyroid surgery, before I left the hospital, the surgeon stopped in for a brief visit. He mentioned in his comments that he would be calling me before the day was over with results from the pathology report. First of all, I was surprised that there would be a pathology report because I understood that the biopsy done earlier had come back as benign. Second of all, I was surprised that I would hear results that day.

As it turns out, I did not hear anything that day or for the next week. And I think I only finally heard because I called the office and my wonderful, caring husband called the office to ask what in the world was going on. As I said before, every day spent waiting for medical test results seems soooo loooong. I should never have been promised something that might not happen.  

The night before I got the call was a tough one for me. I was praying that God would spare me from cancer. I was convinced that I was going to die soon and never get to see my grandchildren grow up. (I can be be quite the drama queen in my own head and am an expert at jumping to the worse case scenario. It's exhausting.) I thought about some close friends who had gotten news that the prostate cancer was all gone. I was convinced that God used up all His goodness on them and there wasn't any left for me. In other words, I was listening to all the doubts that Satan could muster up. I woke up my dear, patient hubby at 2 or 3 in the morning and poured all this out to him. I asked what could I do to make God be favorable to me. Dearest Hubby assured me that Christ had already done everything for me by His death on the cross and the fact that I had accepted Jesus into my life, well, that alone found me favor in God's eyes. Hubby assured me that I am precious to God. These are truths that I know in my head, but sometimes I have a hard time really believing. I also know in my head that life in heaven is so beyond what I can comprehend here. I have a feeling that whenever I get to heaven that I will smack myself and wonder why I wanted to fight so hard to stay on earth.

So, finally, a week after the thyroid surgery, I got a call from the surgeon's office with the results of the pathology test. The summary of the report was that the large nodule was benign. There was a tiny nodule that wasn't seen on the ultrasound. And in that was a very small microscopic bit of cancer that could only be seen through a microscope. The surgeon was able to remove all of what cancer there was and I have not had to go through any cancer treatments. (!!!)

This news just knocked me off my feet. I cried for an hour. And by cry, I mean I sobbed. I called Hubby and my kids. They rejoiced with me. Even sweet little Lydia clapped her hands when her mommy cheered. I called a good friend in Minnesota and talked for an hour. (I thanked her recently for being there for me and for listening while I processed the whole thing.)

Just think ..... If my heart would not have starting racing and I would not have gone to the ER back in December, I would not have had the CT scan that showed something on my thyroid. I would not have had an ultrasound that showed nodules (the doctor couldn't feel any lumps on my neck). I would not have had the surgery that removed the half of the thyroid that had the microscopic bit of cancer. The cancer would have grown undetected until it got to the point that someone felt a lump in my throat and I would have had to go through cancer treatments.

Talk about answers to impossible prayers!! I am seriously trying to wrap my mind around all of this. God did all that for ME?? Whoa. He must think more of me than I give Him credit for.

(This next paragraph may seem like I'm changing subjects, but bear with me, it all ties together.)

I am the youngest in the family I grew up in. For several years for family events, I have quite often felt like I was there only to fill a quota. Because there are four kids in my family, then there must be four kids present at family gatherings. I don't feel acknowledged for the person I uniquely am. I realized a while ago that is exactly how I think God views me. Sure, He loves me because I am His child, but generally I am just one of the gang, one of the swarm of believers. There's nothing particularly special about me.

(Isn't it interesting how the earthly relationships we have can affect how we view God? I find that fascinating.)

So, when I got that pathology report, I realized that God said that He notices ME. (That's why I sobbed. It was a mind boggling revelation.) He really does think of me more than I give Him credit for. Heck, Psalm 139 specifically speaks to that. (Click on the link and go read it.) His kindness is staggering. His unconditional love is more than I can ever hope to comprehend.

I know that in all likelihood I will experience more health issues in the future. They might even be scarier and harder to deal with. That will not change the fact that God notices me and that He loves me and He is kind. I am oh, so very thankful for God showing me these things right here, right now. It's all a part of His plan. It's all a part of growing more like Christ. It's all a part of being a Christian.

I'm thankful to be a (unique) part of the family of God.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Health::: Just The Facts

This post will back up quite a ways, but I really want to remember what I have been through and, more importantly, how God has worked in my life.

Back in January I wrote this post about what was then the beginnings of some health issues I've been going through.

A brief summary: December 14th, my heart started racing and I went to the ER. While in the ER I had a CT scan. The CT scan showed something on my thyroid. I had an ultrasound on my thyroid and nodules were found on the right side. I was referred to a cardiologist and an surgeon.

Because of the nodules on the right side of my thyroid, I had a biopsy done. I got the results after waiting for two long weeks (I think the days are longer when you are waiting for test results) I learned that the biopsy showed no cancer. (!!) I had surgery scheduled for February 10.

February 4th Hubby and I went to the hospital for the pre-op meeting. That involved answering a thousand questions, telling multiple different people the same answers to the same questions and trying my darnedest to not get super annoyed. (I will NEVER understand some things about the medical world.)

February 10th we showed up at 11am at the hospital for all the checking in process. And yes, I answered those same questions, again.  Sigh.  My surgery was scheduled for 1:40pm. It was delayed 2 hours because of difficult cases before me. It was tough to wait. The anticipation of surgery is nerve-wracking and I hadn't had anything to eat or drink since midnight before.

Once in the OR, all I remember is a couple of people working around me and talking about their kids. I thought I should join in the conversation, but was too sleepy. Surgery went as expected. When I woke up in recovery, I started crying because I was scared. I asked for my hubby so much, the nurse finally went to find him and brought him to where I was. I felt much calmer after he was there and was feeding me ice chips. He's the best.

I spent one night in the hospital.  I expected to be very hungry for supper since I hadn't had anything to eat since the night before. But that wasn't so at all. My throat was very dry because of the breathing tube that was stuck down my throat during the surgery. I tried to eat supper, but it just didn't taste good and I just didn't have an appetite. I thought I would sleep really well due to drugs, but I did not. I woke up a lot.

The next morning consisted on getting me ready to go home. And waiting for the surgeon to come talk to me. I was out of the hospital shortly after 11am. (My stay in the hospital was pretty darn close to 24 hours.)  All that sounded good for lunch was a Chick-fil-A peppermint-chocolate-chip-shake. That really hit the spot.

I spent the next several days just sleeping and trying to get back to normal. Two days after the surgery three ladies from our Bible study group brought food for us. We were very touched by their kindness. I cried when they left because I am so thankful we have friends here. It took me probably ten days to feel back to normal.

A week after the surgery, I got a call from the surgeon's office with the results of the pathology test. the summary of the report was the large nodule was benign. There was a tiny nodule that wasn't seen on the ultrasound. And in that was a very small microscopic bit of cancer. The surgeon was able to remove all of what cancer there was and I have not had to go through any cancer treatments. (!!!)

This is what I looked like for the two weeks after the surgery. I sorta felt like I was wearing a turtleneck. (I hate turtlenecks.) The resulting scar is very neat.

I have lots and lots more thoughts about all that that will be another blog post for another time.

March 17th was the date for my heart procedure. My cardiologist is an Electrophysiology specialist. (That means he deals with the electrical part of the heart and not the plumbing.)  The goal of the heart procedure was to recreate the arrhythmia that happened in December and ablate (destroy) the cells that were causing the arrhythmia.

This time I was at the hospital by 7am. I figured I didn't really need to be alert, so it didn't matter how sleepy I was. This procedure is an outpatient procedure. I was home by 3 that afternoon.

I didn't have a general anesthesia for this, I was sedated.  The procedure was supposed to take an hour and a half. It took three hours. The doctor accessed my heart through veins in my legs.  Finding the problem area wasn't easy. The sedative made it difficult for them to recreate the arrhythmia, so they had to back off the medication and I ended up being awake for some of the procedure. That was quite uncomfortable and unnerving. Then they found 2 places that they ablated. It was scary and I cried a couple of times.

I was told that recovery would just be three or four days. I was told how to care for the places they stuck the tubes or whatever they used to get to my heart. I was not told what to expect in regards to how my heart would recover. I felt very tired and at times my heart felt irregular, my resting heart-rate was high. Two weeks later I finally called the cardiologist's office and talked to a nurse. She admitted that someone "forgot" to tell me what to expect regarding my heart.  The places that were ablated were healing and it was normal for it to feel a bit irregular and not to worry about my heart rate. I was told it can take 6 weeks to three months to heal.

My conclusion to this is time will tell if my heart is healed. I have still felt some arrhythmia, but not anywhere near severe enough that I would go to the ER. I see the cardiologist June 17. It will be interesting to hear what he says then.

Oh and just to make more fun in  my life...I had two almost 40 year old fillings replaced recently (and will probably have to get a crown on one of the molars) AND today I had an MRI (and even panicked in the MRI machine) to hopefully find out what has been causing my back pain. Yippee. 

I know this may not be the most entertaining of blog posts. I just wanted to write it down so I can remember.

Next up....what God had been teaching me.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

The Encyclopedia Was Right

I suppose you have to be of a certain age range to have grown up in a house where there was rows of encyclopedias on the bookshelves in the living room. Did you have these cream colored with a dark green stripe The World Book Encyclopedias?

I remember when I was young I would spend time looking through them for school work and for fun. I remember reading about telephones. I remember reading about how the telephone worked...

...and reading about telephone etiquette. (Boy, do we need that nowadays!)

One thing I read about that always stuck with me was how sometime in the future we would be able to SEE the person we were talking to. Inconceivable!

Now that I am a grandma and I live halfway across the country from my sweet granddaughter, I am so thankful for Skype! I can SEE the people I am talking to! I love being able to see her in real time. We watched her walking on Skype. At this stage, our daughter seems to mostly just follow Lydia around with the phone so we can watch her. She does stop moving long enough once in a while to look at us and smile. We try to sing her the same song each time we Skype. I am excited about the day Lydia will talk to us via Skype.

Tuesday, early evening, I got a text from my son telling me to get on Skype in ten minutes. Why? He and his wife wanted to reveal to us the results of the ultra-sound they had that afternoon. It was so exciting to SEE their HAPPY faces when they held up the most adorable tiny BOY outfit! (Our grandson is due the end of September! Woohoo!) And we got to see all the ultra-sound pictures. 

Back in the 1960s and 1970s I thought the whole idea of seeing the person you were talking to on the phone was a impossible idea. Little did I know how much I would enjoy that crazy piece of technology!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

These People...

Now that I have a laptop to blog on I will have a few catch-up posts to do. I have had quite a bit going on in my life in the last four to five months that I'd like to get down in writing before I forget too many details.

This post is all about pictures. We celebrated Christmas with our kids in between Christmas and New Year's Day. (Welcome to the world of having married kids and grown-up kids with real-life jobs.)

I accidentally left my camera at my son's house one night. This is a bit of what I found on my camera:

What was it I said about having grown-up married kids?

My sophisticated daughter-in-law.

My beautiful daughter:

My son-in-law was busy working while all the shenanigans were going on.

What is a selfie, Mommy?  (Those blue eyes melt me every time I see them.)

I laughed so hard when I first saw these pictures. I may have grown-up kids, but they still are awfully goofy and I love that so very much!