Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Bodyworlds 3- Story of the Heart

Given my fascination with the human body, it shouldn't come as a surprise that I've been dying to see this exhibit since it came to Utah in September. Since admission is over $20 each, I decided not to bring the kids along.

Finally, on the day after Christmas, we got our chance. My mother in law agreed to babysit all four kids so J and I could go. We decided to take Trax because the roads were still icy from all the snow we've been getting. I love to people watch, so taking the train is always enjoyable to me. There were some teenagers on the train who were trying very hard to look tough and angsty. I hope I wasn't such a dork when I was their age, but I'm sure I came close. They had half smoked cigarettes in their mouths, unlit. One of them managed to drop his, and it slipped into a crack. They were trying to dig it out, but no luck. It was all I could do to not laugh out loud at them.

We got to the exhibit, and it was crazy busy. We bought tickets ($22 each, plus a dollar service charge, how lame is THAT?!), and then proceeded to wait in line for an hour and fifteen minutes to get in. I hate lines, but they assured us that it prevented the exhibit from being overcrowded. I'm sure it did help. There was a giant skeleton projected on the wall, and you could text a phone number, and your text would appear as a word bubble coming out of the skeleton's mouth. J texted "is my coccyx showing?" which I thought was pretty cute and funny. He also texted "I see dead people".

We finally got into the exhibit. It would've been better if about half of the people who were there weren't. Having said that, it was incredibly interesting. J had gone along to be a supportive husband, but admitted afterwards that he found the whole thing fascinating and was really glad he went.

One of the most interesting exhibits was the lungs. It showed the lungs of a non-smoker, the lungs of a smoker, the lungs of a smoker with cancer, and lungs with emphysema. I knew on paper what emphysema was, but to see these lungs with big holes in them was really sobering. Next to the lungs, they had information on quitting, and even a place where people could throw away their cartons of cigarettes right then and there.

I would highly recommend the exhibit, but with the caveat to try and go during a low crowd time.

Monday, December 29, 2008


When I was in high school, I had a boyfriend named J. It was a fairly intense relationship (what high school romance isn't?!), and when we broke up, it was extremely messy and unpleasant. There was no "let's be friends" here. During those turbulant times, I got to be pretty good friends with his dad and stepmom. They were both really great people. I would've liked to continue being friends with him, but I thought it wasn't wise. I also think out of loyalty to their son, they wouldn't have anyway. But, I have always wished all three well.

J's stepmom's obituary appeared in the paper this week, with her funeral being today. From the obit, I see that J did get married at some point (He said he wouldn't), which made me happy.

I would love to give condolences to the family, but although time softens everything, I think it would actually not be at all comforting for me to pop back into J's life, no matter how kind I was trying to be. I don't know, maybe I think much too much of myself. But, I have to admit there are certain times that I would not welcome a blast from my past popping back in to say hi.

So, I will say here that I am really sad to hear of stepmom's passing, and my deepest condolences go to the family. They will be in my prayers for comfort in this difficult time. Rest in Peace, R.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Merry Christmas!

We had an absolutely wonderful Christmas.

Christmas Eve found us at my parents' house. Both of my uncles were there, along with my aunt, and their two teenage daughters. My sisters and their husband/boyfriend were there, as well as my grandmother. The food was fabulous, and the company was wonderful.

We went home, got the kids to bed. I had a moment of panic because a game that Santa was giving the kids was nowhere to be found. It did turn up, and we got everything set out. We simplified a lot this year. Santa gave each of the kids two gifts, a flashlight, and candy/fruit in their stockings. Then they each had one gift wrapped under the tree. Z was the exception- he got a whole bunch of Chevron cars. They all seemed very pleased with what they got.

We then went on our annual whirlwind visiting spree on Christmas. We started at my parents, then went to my grandmother's, then my grandfather/stepgrandmother, and then my dad's sister. After that, we went to my sister in law's house, where J's parents were. It was so wonderful to see everyone again.

I loved giving gifts this year. I felt like I gave things people really wanted. We got perfect gifts in return. S was such a hoot- she was wildly enthusiastic over every single gift she got.

I feel so blessed to have such a wonderful family, and to have married into such a great family. I have no interesting drama to report. My kids are fantastic, and I have an amazing husband.

Monday, December 22, 2008

The cruise, continued

Thursday was a sea day, so we relaxed on board. The Norwegian Dawn truly is a beautiful ship, and artistic touches are everywhere. We were invited to have dinner with the assistant hotel manager, and we jumped at the chance. Mr. Lee was a very charming and interesting man. He told us a lot of great stories of interesting things that had happened on board. Our table mates were also intriguing, and it was a wonderful dinner filled with great conversation.

Friday, we went to NCL's private island, Great Stirrup Cay. T
he island is not very large. The vast majority of the cruise guests congregate on the beach, so the beach is very, very crowded. In the shade a little further back, there are hammocks, which were very, very nice to relax in. We took a hike to the light house, which is small. In and of itself, it's not worth the walk, but the island is beautiful, and I enjoyed the walk. On the way to the lighthouse, we found the Great Stirrup Cay "International Airport". We both got a giggle out of that.

After that, we decided to snorkel. I was really annoyed because they require all snorkelers to wear a vest while snorkeling. However, they charge
a $5 rental fee for the vests, which struck me as a bit greedy and unfair. I think if they are going to require the vests, they should be free. It probably doesn't help that I had no desire to wear said vest. We decided to just snorkel without one and see if we got caught. They had a couple lifeguards. One of them pointed at us as we stood up to talk (yeah, it's that shallow for much of the swimming area), but we hurried and stuck our heads back in the water and swam off, and nobody actually confronted us.

The snorkeling wasn't as good, but we did see a half dozen or so lion
fish near the artificial reef, which I thought was incredibly cool. They've always been one of my favorite fish, so it was really exciting to see them.

The next morning, we had an early breakfast, and did express walk-off. This is available to people who are willing and able to handle their own luggage. We found ourselves off the boat much quicker than I expected. We found a taxi immediately, and were checked in at the airport by 8:45am. Unfortunately, our plane didn't take off til 1:45, and there was not much to do at the airport. Our plane was delayed an hour or so, but since we'd had a 3 hour layover in Atlanta, we were fine. We boarded our plane in Atlanta after a minor delay. The plane pulled away from the terminal, but as we were getting in line to take off, a mechanical problem was found. So, we had to turn around and go back. Thank goodness they let us off the plane while they worked on the issue. After waiting an hour and a half, it was determined that it couldn't be fixed quickly, so they found us another plane. We finally got loaded on that, and took off about 10 minutes before we should have landed in Salt Lake. What should have been a 3.5 hour flight was 5 hours due to a strong head wind and bad weather. Through all of this, I still felt pretty lucky. Airports all over the country were jammed due to bad weather. Most of the people on our plane missed connections in Salt Lake, which was disappointing. A significant number of people on board were traveling from Europe, and they looked dead on their feet. Best of all, we didn't have to deal with exhausted children.

We finally got to the airport a little after 1am. Luggage was a nightmare- none of the carousals were marked, and there was 3-4 flights of people looking for their stuff. There was also a ton of luggage in the middle of the baggage claim area from people who were stranded elsewhere in the country.

We ended up sleeping over at my parents' house (thanks mom and dad!) and left Sunday morning.

It was so, so good to see my babies again, and I'm glad to be with them.

But, even now, I'm finding myself pricing out cruises. I want to take the kids next time (I don't think I can ask my parents for a week of babysitting for a while), so I need to sell a few houses to afford that.

Between the two, I find...

I much prefer snorkeling to shoveling snow.

Our trip was absolutely fantastic. I missed the kids like crazy, but I have to admit it was nice to not have to worry about them, and just be a kid myself. A few times, we sat near the kids' buffet area. When we heard the kids screaming and crying, I have to admit J and I exchanged looks, and with a sigh of relief announced we were thrilled it wasn't our kids.

On friday, we dropped K off at school, and S at her Aunt J's to play so she could go to school too. We took the boys with us down to Grandma Jane's house. We then caught a ride to the airport. I found myself pacing around, talking to myself. I discovered that kids were just a good way to hide my inability to sit still and tendency to talk to myself.

The flights were smooth, and we found ourselves in Miami around 11:30pm. We took the shuttle to the Embassy Suites in Miami. It was a beautiful hotel, with a large spacious suite.

We slept well, then took a shuttle to the port the next morning. Embarkation was really smooth, and we found ourselves onboard within a few minutes. The Norwegian Dawn was an absolutely stunning ship. The art and attention to detail were breathtaking.

Before we left on the cruise, I posted on a website called cruisecritic.com. I joined a roll call group, and was able to meet quite a few people online who would be onboard with me. We had a get together scheduled for Sunday morning, but I was hoping to meet people before then. We were walking around the deck, when I suddenly heard someone yelling my name. It turned out to be Mimi and her husband, Chris. They are some of the funnest people I have ever met. They threw several awesome parties. Their parties were so fun that the ship's captain actually showed up!

As we were leaving muster drill, I saw one of th
e girls from the group. I got her attention, and we seemed to instantly click. I ended up counting Rochelle and Jack as fairly good friends by the end of the cruise. I also want to give a nod to "Mr. Fun" and his wife Patty. They were so smart, and great fonts of knowledge on fun things to do in each port. The "triplets", Julie, Wrayanne, and Sherry were also so much fun- they wore reindeer antlers and Santa hats the whole time. We also really enjoyed visiting with Dar & Gwenn. Marilyn and her husband were our trivia buddies, even though they kicked our butts.

Sunday morning was the cruise critic get together. We had
a surprisingly big group show up. We came from several age groups and several walks of life, but it made for a fun and interesting group. It was so fun to instantly have a dozen or two friends on board. We were constantly running into people from our group, and it was an absolute blast. I will never book a cruise again without joining a CC roll call group as well.

Monday was our day in Samana, Dominican Republic. J lived there for two years, so he was anxious to see the country again, though we would be hours from where he had lived. It was a very beautiful, but very poor country. As we began our tour, I saw this pickup truck filled with people. A few minutes later, we passed it. It had begun raining, and the people had a big tarp that they were holding over their heads.

Our tour took us to the Devil's Mouth, which was very cool. It was a blowhole about 50 feet or so from the ocean. It was really quite impressive.

After that, we drove on very small dirt roads to Playa
Rincon, which was easily the most beautiful beach we saw on our cruise. We would've loved hours and hours to explore this beach, but unfortunately, we were only given 20 minutes to look around before the tour operators had to load us up again and get us back to the pier at the time that the cruise line demanded. We were terribly disappointed about this, and more than a little angry with the cruise line for not allowing enough time to enjoy the beach.

I put together a bunch of little goody bags for the chi
ldren of the Dominican Republic. Unfortunately, we didn't have time to really stop and interact with the kids, so we ended up tossing them out of our tour bus when we saw kids by the side of the road. It was disappointing that we weren't able to actually talk with the kids, but hopefully it brightened their day a little.

The next day, we went to Tortola. We were scheduled to go on a s
hip sponsored snorkeling tour of Virgin Gorda's Baths, but the excursion was cancelled at the very last minute. They didn't notify us in a timely manner, so we weren't able to get a ferry to do the excursion on our own as several of our cruise critic friends did.

We ended up hiring a guy off the street to give us a tour of Tortola, and then take us to Cane Garden Beach. In and of itself, it was a great tour, and we saw some beautiful views from the top of the island. We still only had about 20 minutes on the beach, and we used that time to body surf, as the water was fairly rough. We met a lady on the tour named Mrs. Lazurus. She was in her 80s, and a real character. I was thrilled to get to know her, and ran into her numerous times on our vacation.

Wednesday was our day in St. Thomas. Thank go
odness we had no excursion scheduled though Norwegian Cruiselines (I couldn't commit to a beach). So, we took a tender to shore at 8:30am. It was pouring rain, and none of the shops were open where we were dropped off. No matter, they looked to be high end, and selling stuff I wouldn't pay for. We met up with Mike and his wife from CC, and decided to share a cab with them to Coki Beach. We first had to take a dollar cab to the downtown area. A local told us about it, and even rode the cab with us for a bit. It was set up exactly like the tour buses, except they had bicycle horns. If you wanted to get off, you honked the horn and the guy stopped. The ride was supposed to be $1. We watched other locals be charged that, and chatted with everyone as we rode. When we got off, the driver tried to charge us each $4. We fought him, and the locals on the bus even got involved. He ended up literally throwing our change at us and stomping off. We didn't care.

When we arrived at Coki Beach, it was 9:00, and pr
actically deserted. We were thrilled, as we had heard that it was usually crazy crowded, and with 5 or 6 ships in port that day, it was rumored to be even worse than usual. The snorkeling was really good, and we saw a lot of fish and coral. If you are looking out to sea, there is more coral at the left side of the beach. The right side had more fish and easier snorkeling, but a lot more people.These rainbow looking fish were amongst my favorites, but they were really difficult to properly photograph.

Around noon, we decided Coki was getting too crowded, as a ton of people had arrived from the tours. We took a cab over to Secret Harbor.
It truly was a secret. There was very people there, and several friendly iguanas. The snorkeling wasn't nearly as good, but we did see a sea turtle there, which made the trip well worth it.

By this point, we were getting pretty tired and hungry, and I was feeling a bit pink from all of the sun, so we headed back to town. We shopped around a little bit, but didn't see anything interesting, so we headed back on board.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Going, going gone!!!

We leave tomorrow morning for our cruise. I am really excited, but I have to admit I am going to miss my babies like crazy. I am trying to be only excited, but I got a little weepy as I was putting them to bed.

I know they will have a lot of fun with our family this week. I know they'll be well taken care of. We will have a blast, as will they. But, it's still hard to leave them. I will take it as a sign that I'm a good mom.

Monday, December 8, 2008

I heart insurance

I really, really do.

The little kids are still sick, so no morning gym time for me. This evening, I cooked dinner for the family, then went to a kickboxing class.

About halfway through, one of the ladies at the front desk pulls me out of class. While this would not be totally unheard of if I had my kids with me, they were all home. She tells me that my husband called, and wants me to call him immediately. Oh great.

I grab my cell phone, and sure enough, I missed a phone call, and there's a text. The text says, "911". This is not good.

I call him, and find out that I need to come home and take M to get stitches. In the head. Again.

Apparently, M and K started having a sleeping bag fight. (Sister M, cover your eyes here) I bought a couple sleeping bags for my sister for Christmas, and they were in the front room. Long story short, they were throwing them at each other, and being heavy, high quality bags, one knocked M into my cedar chest.

My husband was downstairs with the younger two, and M comes downstairs, blood pouring off his head, soaking his shirt, and leaving a blood trail along the way (thank goodness for tile and wood floors throughout the house). After a minor freakout, J gets him cleaned up and is calling me at the same time.

I take M to the IHC Kidscare in Layton (LOVE LOVE LOVE that place!). In the car on the way over, M remarks that he's "getting bored with getting hit in the head". The nurse remembers us from the eye incident back in August. That's somewhat touching, but somewhat disturbing. She agrees that it definitely needs stitches. Not staples, not glue, but stitches.

She gets him nicely cleaned up and numb, and the doctor put in 5 little stitches. We are supposed to go back on Friday to have them removed. That seems awfully soon, but that would work out better for us. This way, I can take him back on the way to the airport, and my mom or grandma won't have to deal with it while we're out of town.

We get home, and K is still a mess. She's feeling horribly guilty that she was responsible for hurting her brother. She told J that she wished it'd been her. He retorted that no, SHE breaks her wrists. It's up to M to do the head wound thing. She did not see the humor in it.

Then, she was in bed, and somehow, a snow globe toppled off the shelf above her bed, shattered all over her. Glass, glitter, and water all over her and her bed.

I changed her sheets while she showered.

I'm ready for bed.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Starting to pack for the cruise

Today we started packing for the trip. Since it's winter (sort of) here, most of the clothing we'll need on our trip isn't currently being used, so we can get the bulk of our packing done ahead of time.

I left my suitcase on my bed for a while. When I came back, this is what it looked like:

The hawaiian looking shirt, the letterman style jacket and the car are all Z's. I'm getting the feeling that he thinks he's coming. When I was carrying the suitcase up from the basement, S asked me where WE were going.

I am so excited for this trip, but I am going to miss my babies so much.

Sleeping with a toddler

Z has had a rotten cold for the past few days. He is just so miserable.

The FDA withdrew all decongestants for children under 2, saying that they were not effective, and the risks outweighed the benefits. I was a bit stunned- I am not real big on medications for my kids unless absolutely necessary, but decongestants when they had colds was a HUGE thing for me. From what I understand, most of the side effects were occurring when the child was accidentally overdosed, though sometimes the product was being used as directed.

I just am not entirely sure that was a good move. If the people who caused the recall did so by not using the product exactly as directed, what's to stop them now? Worse, now they are having to guess at the proper dose, as dosing instructions appear for kids age 6 and up.

Since the recall, I have tried to use alternative methods for treating a stuffy nose in my younger kids. I must say that I have had miserable results. So, I have become one of "those" parents in a new way. I buy the triaminic cough/congestion strips, and give Z 1/4 of one when he gets really bad. It is extremely effective for him.

The last two nights have been miserable for him. Night before last, I tried the alternative ways of treating him, with no success. He woke up crying in the night several times. He couldn't breathe, and he had all kinds of crud coming out of his eyes. I put him in bed with me, because if nothing else, Mommy makes everything a little better.

Sleeping with a sick toddler is like sleeping with a bag of angry cats, only a little less peaceful. He was rolling all over, kicking, snorting, flailing. He ended up perpendicular to us. He would take turns which direction he would lay- so sometimes I was getting kicked in the face, and sometimes it was J. Considering J had taken Nyquil, he was blissfully unaware of any of this.

Last night started out the same way, except he seemed even more miserable, if you can believe it. Around 2am, I finally broke down and gave him some of the triaminic. Ahhhhhh, bliss! Within a half hour, his nose started to drain so he could breathe, and he immediately quieted down and went to sleep. This morning he woke up really chipper, though he's a walking snot bubble again. He does seem to be developing a mild case of
Papyrophobia (fear of paper, especially tissues coming near his nose), but is otherwise unscathed.

Upon checking my sheets, there are snail trails all over the bed where he was attempting to sleep. Note to self: when having a snotty baby in bed with me, have light colored sheets so snail trails aren't visible.

I hope he gets over this cold soon.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Gas Prices

I started to anesthetize myself when buying gas when prices were over $3 a gallon, so I hadn't much paid attention to how much I was spending on gas. I wasn't making unnecessary trips, and I always do what I can to maximize my mileage, so I didn't see the point of freaking out when I was spending $60-$70 to fill up my car.

So, imagine my shock when I filled up yesterday.
I got 15.7 gallons, which is pretty much a full tank. I paid $24.70. I was nearly speechless. I saved the receipt, just so I could giggle about it. I would be grinning like an idiot if gas prices ever got down to $.88 a gallon, the lowest I ever remember seeing prices since I've started driving.