Sunday, August 13, 2017

Hello from Michigan

I somehow thought it would be a good idea to leave for Michigan the day after seeing a show at Mohegan Sun, which is located two states away.  Although, one of those states is little Rhode Island.  I often think I can do what I did when I was 27.  I can't.

I decided to break up the 830 mile drive here into two days, making reservations in East Syracuse, NY.  There are a ton of hotels right off of the thruway at Carrier Circle and I'm somewhat familiar with the area.  We left home after lunch, which was the plan all along thankfully because I hadn't packed anything.  I had finished the laundry though.  And cleaned the first floor.

I drove from Massachusetts to Syracuse, which was 300 miles, on Thursday.  The girls and Grammy are with me.  On Friday, we drove the remaining 500+ miles.  I was done about an hour before we arrived at our destination.  It would probably help my back if we made more stops and I walked around and stretched but it's such a long drive, I hate to keep adding time to it.  In total, it took us 14.5 hours to get here, which is pretty good time with three kids.  My brother and his kids drove here straight from Massachusetts yesterday and made it in 13 hours.  He only stopped twice.  (I can't do that.)

We're here visiting family and not hanging around the hotel much so blogging this week may not happen.  We're actually only here for a few more days.  I thought I could write while the kids were swimming in the hotel pool but then my niece called out to my brother, "He's going to drown if he tries to play this game."  The girls had created some game in the pool and my nephew, who is the youngest of the bunch, was playing with them.  So, yeah, not much writing happened after that.

Okay, I need to go to sleep.  I'll be back later!      


Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Progress photos from inside the cottage

Not this past weekend, but the weekend before, I finally finally finished cleaning and organizing the cottage.  Every surface, except for a few windows, has been thoroughly scrubbed.  When people ask how it's going at the cottage and I mention all the cleaning, they kind of give me a quizzical look.  Maybe because they've seen my house.  (Just kidding.)  I usually remind everyone how the previous owners were elderly and I'm not sure how much use the cottage had seen over the past few years.  Add in the dust from the bathroom demolition and landscaping, and the pollen (gah, this spring was terrible), I just couldn't keep up.  I would clean the floors and a week later, there was visible dust/dirt all over the place again.  Never mind that every single piece of furniture was covered in cobwebs.  We're in good shape now.

8.8b

The cottage was built with a screened-in porch off of the kitchen.  At some point (the neighbors think it was about 10 years ago), they opened the wall between the porch and the kitchen and added sliding doors.

8.8a

We plan to add seating to the area around the rug.  Right now, it's the girls' play area.  We've still been using the kitchen table and chairs that were left by the previous owners.  Originally, I thought I could just paint everything but the tabletop is not real wood.  Rich actually picked up a longer table with six chairs on the side of the road a few weeks ago.  (Don't judge.)  It's all solid wood but needs to be sanded down and refinished or painted.  The table actually looks like it came from Restoration Hardware.  That will be a fall/winter project.

As for the kitchen,

8.8e

it's staying as is for now.  I'm glad we didn't rip it out right away.  Actually living in the space allows you to see what works and what doesn't.  I had thought of losing the upper cabinets and using shelves because the space is cramped and that would probably open it up.  Based on the amount of dust that always seems to be floating around, I won't ever go that route.

8.8d

The master bedroom is tiny but I think once it's all painted, it will feel bigger.  The few areas with primer alone have brightened the space.  Back in June, right before school ended, I had packed up all the bedside tables and brought them home, thinking I would have time to paint.  Yeah, so that never happened.  We brought them back to the cottage, cleaned off all the cobwebs and added (more) painting to the to-do list.

8.8c

I love all the old furnishings that were left with the cottage.  Charming!

That's all I have to share for now.  There'll be more in the fall once school is back in session.  I need to sew new curtains for all the bedrooms and the bathroom.  We've been using an old baby blanket for a curtain in the bathroom.

Monday, August 7, 2017

What's up for August - Life Lately

8.7a

I've been trying to write this post for four days and now we're already a week into August.  Truth be told, there's been a lot on my mind with respect to Anna and the past four days have been mentally draining.  I sat down to write but I just could not focus.  We've been living with spina bifida for ten years and most days, it's just a minor little blip on the radar.  But there are days when the weight of it becomes so heavy.  I worry about her health, her safety, her mindset.  I worry that I'm making the wrong decisions.

The girls and I drove down to the cottage a day and a half ahead of Rich this weekend.  There are two things you cannot forget when traveling with Anna:  her prescription meds and cath kits.  I forgot cath kits.  It's not as if I had forgotten to put them in the van or forgot to grab them as I walked by the upstairs hall closet where they're stored.  I straight up forgot.  We were about a third of the way into our hour and a half trip when I realized my error.  When we leave the cottage, Rich and I have been counting the cath kits in her bedroom closet so we know how many to bring for the next visit.  We don't want to end up with an overabundance there.  I could remember there being 8 left from two weeks ago but could not, for the life of me, remember how many were there when we had left the previous weekend.  I knew there had to be some though and kept driving.  I quickly calculated that we needed five cath kits to get by and hopefully none of them would be bent (yes, additional stress.)  My parents were scheduled to visit us the next morning and I thought they could just swing by our house on their way down and pick up what I forgot.  We arrived at the cottage and there were only three kits.  And my parents were at their beach house so my plan wasn't going to work.

Rich ended up driving halfway and meeting me just over the bridge that night.  I felt really bad that he had to do so.

Right now, we're waiting for test results to see if there's any bacteria in Anna's urine.  She's not presenting symptoms of a UTI but as we learned a few years ago, there could be bacteria present without any symptoms.  I've seen an increase in white sediment these past few weeks and I can't tell if it's bacteria related or something else.  It's often a struggle to keep her hydrated.  You sometimes have to force her to drink water.  I don't want to go into too much detail but after several bad caths, I reached out to the urologist's nurse.      

A note on the bent cath kits, which are unusable.  Our cath kit supplier, who we were so happy with, sold their business to a larger company last year.  It has been one headache after the other dealing with the new supplier.  At first, they sent us the same kits we had been receiving but then those were replaced with essentially the same kit but it must be less expensive for them because the quality is meh.  The mat in these newer kits shreds and falls apart when it's wet which is the most ridiculous thing in the world because it's supposed to get wet.  We had one shipment with a slew of bent cath kits.  The first person Rich spoke with in trying to get those replaced told him that we may have to go back to the manufacturer ourselves.  Think again.  We eventually got those replaced and we haven't seen as many as we had been.  Just had another bent one this morning though.

Under Rich's health insurance, we need to pay up to the deductible for the cath kits.  Thank goodness Rich was paying attention to what we had been charged by the supplier because they overcharged us.  By about $400.  And now every month when he orders cath kits, he needs to explain to them why we don't have to pay.  They can't seem to keep their records straight with the health insurance company.  This requires Rich to sit on hold and sometimes speak with more than one representative before they straighten it out.  They won't send you kits if they think you owe them money so he's forced to do this.

Needless to say, we have a list of other suppliers and we will be moving our needs elsewhere.

So, that's a little of what's being going on "behind the scenes." Let's move to fun life stuff now.
 
With school not back in session until after Labor Day, we still have quite a bit of summer left here.  We've been spending three to four days a week at the cottage before returning home for dance and appointments.  It looks like we'll be able to stay on the Cape for a longer block of time before school starts.

8.7b
Last day of school photo, which I don't think I ever shared here.

I can't believe how dark their hair was before the summer sun brought out the blonde.

8.7c

Speaking of photos I have yet to share . . .

8.7d

8.7e

8.7f

8.7g

8.7h

8.7i

8.7j

The girls, Grammy and I will be driving out to Michigan again (soon!) for a visit with family.  For the past year, I've promised we would add Kentucky to our vacation but as I began to plan, it turned into a super long vacation.  I couldn't find that much time without an appointment or commitment.

Initially, this is what I thought we would do:

Day 1 - Drive to MI
Day 2 - Finish drive to MI (about half a day)
Day 3 - MI
Day 4 - MI
Day 5 - MI
Day 6 - Drive to KY
Day 7 - KY
Day 8 - KY
Day 9 - KY
Day 10 - Begin drive home
Day 11 - Arrive home

So, yeah, I could have shaved off a day in MI and a day in KY but I know the kids would have been grumpy spending more days on the road than at an actual location.  The other option was to have my uncle meet us in Kentucky with Mamaw but Mamaw doesn't want to travel there during the summer months.  It's just too hot for her.  Our first obligation is to visit with family in MI, so that's what we're doing.  I was also trying to plan this so that my niece could come with us again.  I've been bouncing around dates and ideas with Grammy for months now.  Of course, I didn't know how the competition dance would affect our schedules until June.  I basically just booked the hotels for this.  Talk about last minute.  My brother was able to take time off from work and he'll be driving out with his three kids.  It promises to be a fun cousin vacation!

The girls are all asking me when I'm going to start dinner.  I'll end with all my recent non-Cape sunset photos.

8.7k

8.7l

8.7m

8.7n

8.7o

8.7p

8.7q

8.7r

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Chatham Light, Cape Cod Rail Trail with video clip

8.2a

8.2b

I'm still pushing to name the cottage Serenity Now.  Rich suggested something with run or running in it so I came up with Runaway or Run Away, both of which seem more like names of boats to me.  It appears that the traditional approach is to hang the family name on the cottage.  Most cottages don't have names so it's not necessary, but something fun.

8.2c

8.3d

Rich and I have both been running during our days at the cottage.  We don't use anything to track mileage - only stopwatches for time - so it's a bit freeing at times to just go out for a run not knowing what to expect.  It makes the run go by faster when you pick random streets to run on and create new running routes.  I feel like I've been getting a lot of  unintentional hill work in.  It seems like I always find the streets with the those slow inclines.

8.2e
Those little specks are my family.

8.2f

8.2g

Last week, we headed to Chatham Light after dinner to explore.  Unfortunately, it had been an overcast afternoon so the sky became darker much earlier than normal that evening.  It was also very buggy and, somewhat surprising, the beach was pretty crowded.  After hearing the name Brody 3,000 times, I was about to walk over and ask Brody myself to please sit and smile for the photo.

8.2k

8.2h

8.2i

8.2j

Two things I don't think we'll ever tire of: sunsets and ice cream.

8.2l

8.2m

8.2n

A few weeks ago, we rode about two miles of the Cape Cod Rail Trail.  Anna still relies on training wheels and the nut holding one of the wheels on was loose.  Even though we kept tightening it by hand, it still came loose almost immediately.  We returned last week with the tandem attachment, which we use with Rich's bike.  This allows Anna to ride along with Rich and not have to overexert herself.  My brother and sister-in-law handed this down to us.  Unfortunately, we're going to have to look for a different size as this one is meant for little kids and if Anna attempts to pedal, her knees bang into the handlebars.

We hadn't decided beforehand how far we would bike but Emily kept saying she wanted to do the whole thing.  Mind you, that's 40-something miles round trip.  I would love to do the whole thing one day but right now, that's a lot for a ten year old.  We ended up biking 9.3 miles in total.  At the end, Emily said she's never going that far again.  Come on, kid.  It wasn't that bad.

The Rail Trail is a paved pathway stretching 20-some miles from Dennis to Wellfleet.  At some point, I'd like to present a more detailed description of it.  Of course, this would require more biking and bringing along my camera.  July is the busiest month for tourism on the Cape and when it's a bit cool and cloudy, visitors look for activities aside from the beach.  The Rail Trail is extremely busy on these days and summer weekends.  We parked at the trailhead in Dennis and the parking lot was packed both times.  It's such a nice place to bike though.  We've decided to wait until the end of August when the crowds thin to return.  I took a short video clip during our 9 mile ride.  (Hope this works.)

IMG_1813  


Monday, July 31, 2017

My July Reading List

Okay, first up I have a really good beach read for you.



But I have a confession to make.  I sometimes scoff at the term "beach read" because, for me, any book can be read on the beach.  I even brought Stephen King's 11/22/63 with me to Turks & Caicos.  (Excellent book by the way. Not what a non Stephen King fan would expect from a Stephen King novel.) As I read Maybe in Another Life (ironically) on the beach, I thought, "This is truly a beach read."  There wasn't a lot of information such as characters or dates to keep track of.  There was no mystery to solve.  It was straight up and a quick read that held my attention.

This book explores how our lives unfold based on our decisions and what would happen if we made a different decision.  There are two story lines that follow the main character through two different decisions.  I enjoyed the author's creativity in writing the book this way.
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If you like mystery and suspense, add this one to your wish list.



I really, really liked this book.  A tiny skeleton is unearthed at a demolition site which prompts a newspaper reporter to investigate in hopes of solving the mystery of who the skeleton belongs to.  I had been reading this while the girls were in the pool and took a break when we went inside.  I was thinking about the book as I was hanging up laundry and the answer hit me.  You can solve it yourself  once all the facts are revealed but it's not super obvious.  Or maybe it is and I just wasn't paying close enough attention.  
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Unfortunately, All Our Wrong Todays was somewhat of a disappointment.



I was about 15% of the way into the book when I turned to Rich and told him this.  "I'm slightly disappointed in this book."  It did get better and I still think the plot was interesting and held a lot of potential.  Good character development, too.  I really wasn't a fan of the narrative though.  The narrator's tone was off-putting and because I just wasn't expecting it to read this way, I couldn't get past it.  This is a book about time travel and how the world today should have been the future envisioned by those in the 1950s.  Yes, flying cars and hover boards and robotic machines to take care of manual labor.  Our world today is what it is because someone from that world traveled back in time and changed the future.  See? It sounds incredibly interesting.
_


This book was just okay for me and I think it's because I figured out the big secret early on.



Right off the bat, I thought the character development was slightly off.  One minute the main character is physically ill when a secret from her past threatens to be revealed, but then a few days later, she's brushing off her old friend who is threatening her.  Her emotions were too all over the place for me.  This book was written so the reader can figure out all the secrets and because of this, I felt like the author had to throw in a few more twists at the end and it all got to be too much.  This book does have high ratings, but I'd only give it three stars.
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I'm currently reading Every Last Lie, which is a new release, and while I'm only 20% of the way through it, I'm really enjoying it.


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