Tuesday, March 29, 2011

40 Bags in 40 Days: Update

Woo-hoo! I'm up to 22 bags!

I really should be taking before and after pictures, but I haven't been. Too busy getting rid of stuff. I'm sure you really want to be looking in my linen closet and under the guest bed, haha. I've always liked those beds that have drawers under them. So practical - no wasted space! Or... is it just a place to store more junk?

In my cleaning throughout the last 2 weeks, I have...

1) ...shredded a TON of paper. Yay! Paper breeds. It turns into books, and notepads, and piles. Piles, piles, piles. I believe the trick is to NOT begin a pile. Then it can't grow. :) We ordered a really nice file cabinet in February from an A.mish store nearby. It will be finished late April or early May. I can't wait! I'm really going to try to get all the paperwork down to the number of drawers in the cabinet. We have a big desk in our "office" which will have to become a nursery if we are blessed to conceive or adopt. The file cabinet could stay in one corner and would't be too cumbersome. The desk will have to go. I haven't figured out what to do with the computer yet though!

2) ...gotten a. lot. of. VHS tapes ready for recycling. There's a place I can mail them for recyling, and I'm planning to do that this week. And, as we no longer have a TV that works with a VCR, they might as well be thrown away. [*Note: The library no longer accepts VHS donations. I called and asked. :)] I wrote down a list of the movies in case we want to replace them.  (Actually, we did replace the Star Wars ones already. My husband found a set at a Bor.ders going out of business last week. I've resisted watching them, other than the first one, which is the fourth, but I don't think I'll be able to avoid it any longer. Ha!) Also note- the Star wars DVDs came in those SLIM cases!! Thank you for being considerate, movie packaging people. Who needs fat cases?

3) ...gotten rid of 12 pairs of shoes. Really? Yes, 12. 6 are donations, 6 are throw-aways. I have this great pair of black boots - I really should have purchased 2 pair, because they are super comfortable and don't squish my toes - but they are worn out. They're practically embarrassing. Anyway, I won't let myself buy a pair to replace them until they're gone... so... they're ready and waiting for the trash. :( May they rest in peace. They were sure a good pair of boots. We had a great life together.

** Question - one of the "donation" shoes are the sandals I wore at my wedding. Of course I'm saving my dress and veil! Am I right to get rid of the shoes though? If we have a daughter some day, is she going to want to try on the dress and the shoes?

4) ...amassed an incredible amount of recycling. Old and empty shoe boxes. :) Other random empty boxes in my closet, the empty VHS boxes and packages. Old school notes, and empty CD and DVD cases (broken ones).

5) ... assembled a big bunch of photo frames that can be donated/thrown away. I had an entire box of frames. I saved the photos, but got rid of the frames. I don't have a place to display them! I'm not a huge fan of displaying photos in frames, although I do have a few. But again, only a few - because that's all I have room for! :)

6) ... started cleaning out the old dresser in our "office." It's an old dresser, particle board, that Mr. Wonderful had, but I use it for cards, stationary and other assorted office accessories. It really is a great way to organize it all, but it. is. falling. apart. I have one bag of trash from it already.

7) ... cleaned out our medicine closet. I don't know what else to call it. It's more of a linen closet, but we have 2 of those in the hall upstairs, and one is linens, and the other... well, it contains the guest towels, but also the stock of tissue boxes, medicines, dental supplies, soaps, lotions, travel things - like a small hair dryer, our travel toiletry cases, the iron and light-bulbs. It's kind of all-purpose! I got rid of old make-up, expired prescriptions, and a host of other things that made their way into it. I guess when it's all-purpose, anything can happen, haha.

8) ... wondered - how does one count computer files? I've done a bit of trashing there too. I haven't included it in my totals, but as I've been working on those photo books, I'm finding duplicate photos stored all over the place. I've made sure I have at least one copy on the desktop, but have gotten rid of the duplicates. It's backed up on the external hard-drive, and that's all we need. Plus, the best of the best are now stored on Shutt.erfly!

Whew. I feel so good about all of this. I should really do it more often. Doing so has definitely made me think about what I buy, what I accept, and what I bring into the house. I have a ton of "accepted" books when it comes to teaching. I can't count the number of times someone has said "Oh, my insert-name-here took piano lessons, but doesn't anymore... take it off my hands! could you use this?" One time recently I was able to decline politely. It felt REALLY good. And boy did she ever try to get rid of it! I should really not even pick whatever-it-is up when they try to give it to me. Haha. I've started a bag to be donated to a local music teacher's organization that holds a music swap at meetings. I still have more to go through; then I'll add it to my total.

OK... it's time for lunch. And now I have the urge to purge even more! :-D

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Post-Op Appointment

I had my follow-up with Dr. S this morning. Hubby accompanied me and drove to and from (thank you!!). Dr. S seemed overall pleased with the surgery and went over the photos he took. It is so weird looking at pictures of your insides with little robotic hands in there! Even I could see the large amounts of adhesions from my surgeries 9 years ago. It looks so much better now, and healthy. He did a short exam and said the back of my uterus is much more free than it used to be, although the top didn't feel quite as free as he had hoped. (I think those were his words?) In any case, it's much better than before. Now he said we can get to the fun part, and of course also get on our knees and fold our hands in prayer. Have I mentioned I love having a Catholic doctor? I LOVE HAVING A CATHOLIC DOCTOR!!!! :)

Anyway, I'll continue with the Femara (although I already missed it this cycle as CD1 was last Tuesday and I take it on day 3), the Prometrium & Estradiol on P+3-12. I'm also taking fish oils, flaxseed oils, vitamins and folic acid.

Oh - and - this will be loads of fun - a saliva test for my adrenals. He talked about putting me on small amounts of cortisol if my levels are low. I confirmed that yes, I was on prednisone for years, and I HATE the stuff, but he said that cortisol levels are much lower. (Prednisone turned me into a crazy person. I will NEVER take that crap again. It did more harm than good, I think.) So... I'm okay with taking cortisol to bring levels up to where they should be. I really love how the box for the saliva test says "a laboratory test made simple." Really?? I'm pretty sure I read about this on another blog or two, and I don't know that "simple" was used to describe it. Anyway, I'm going to get it over with as soon as possible. Spit freaks me out. I was a percussionist in band thank you very much, and no matter what anyone says, brass and reed instruments leave spit behind. I refuse to believe differently. It's gross. :-D

One more thing... hubby leaves for his retreat tonight. He'll be gone until Sunday. Sad face. :( My sister (the one who lives nearby) will be over for dinner tomorrow night & to watch the Pens game with me. (I should post the recipe - we're having fish chowder, an old family favorite for Lent. Should I have a favorite Lenten meal?? Anyway, it's delicious and is my Granny's recipe.) Saturday morning, I have a meeting with some 8th grade girls with a program I'm coordinating. Someday I should write a post about that. It's a leadership training program for girls, 7-12th grades. Saturday afternoon I'll probably tackle more of my 40 Bags Challenge, and then Saturday night I have a meeting for the marital love class Hubby and I have been taking (I'm flying solo). The class has been awesome (this is the last meeting) and we've really enjoyed getting to know the couples in our group. Sunday morning it's church, then he'll be home mid-afternoon. So... I'll be busy during the days... but I do not sleep very well at night when he's gone! I may this time... I have a little cold and I'm planning to take Nyquil tonight to knock me out! :-D Normally when I get a cold I can't take it because it inevitably hits after peak day. Ugh.

I know I said one more thing, but here's another - Shutterfly is having a 50% sale on their photo books, + free S/H until the 30th. I got an email today. I just finished making a photo book for 2010 thanks to the idea from this great blogger: Photo Books. I told Hubby that I should have time to finish more by then!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Delicious GF muffin recipe

Right before Christmas I discovered the best GF flour - Ju.les Glu.ten Free. I used it in all my Christmas cookie recipes, including pizzelles, cut-out cookies, peanut blossoms, and so on. It was fantastic - just a one-for-one substitution. (Side note: Mr. Wonderful and I hosted a Christmas party and no one was able to tell that they were GF. Success!)

Anyway, today I had a bunch of over-ripe bananas and was looking for a muffin recipe. Here's a great one: GF Blueberry Muffins. Ju.les has a great blog of GF recipes.

I made a few substitutions - I used Cho.bani greek yogurt (strawberry) instead of the sour cream, and I also used chopped fresh strawberries instead of the blueberries. (I thought I had some frozen and didn't.) I didn't include the flaxseed, which is optional, also because I didn't have any.

Yummy!! :-)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

St Joseph.... help! :)


Happy Feast of St. Joseph! :) Growing up, St. Joseph was the patron saint of my parish. I received each of my sacraments there and I worked there as the music director for the last several years before getting married. He's been a big part of my prayer life for as long as I can remember.
And today, St. Joseph - I need some extra help!
My husband and I were planning today to send in our preliminary application to the adoption agency we had chosen. However, I came across the same agency mentioned by another blogger and found out they were unable to sign their statement of faith (it's a Christian agency, but not Catholic). We had asked to see their statement of faith at an introductory meeting, but they didn’t really jump on handing it to us. When I read the other blogger’s post, I searched for it online, and was heartbroken upon reading through it. There is no way we can sign it. 
Among a few other things, it states: I believe that in all matters of faith and life, the Scr.iptures of the Old and New Testa.ments are the final auth.ority.
We clearly don’t believe that. And, in good conscience, cannot sign a statement saying that we do. We do have a few other agencies that we liked, but not quite as much as this one. It is sad for two reasons- one - we cannot work with the agency, and two - it makes it all the more clear how Christians are truly divided. It may not be an intended exclusion of Catholics, but it is, nonetheless. 
My husband and I wondered (somewhat sarcastically) - who is the interpreter of the Scriptures? Most “non-denominational” churches interpret verses differently. So which one is right??
It makes me grateful to be Catholic... and again, quite sad at the divisions among us. 
So... St. Joseph - please help us find the right agency!! :)
And, if any of you ladies have recommendations for agencies serving northern Vir.ginia, I’d be most grateful!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Out with the old...


... in with the new!

Woo-hoo for new appliances!! Our old dryer (age unknown) has been acting up for the past several months. Mr. Wonderful tried vacuuming it out to help (there was admittedly a lot of lint in there), which it did... for about a month. It would alternately stay cold, and then part of it top would be too hot to touch. Loads would take 2 hours to dry. Most of the time I ended up line drying a bunch of things. I'm glad it lasted through when my mom and MIL were here helping out! I thought about trying to get it repaired, but again, it is really old. The washer was replaced once while my husband was renting the house before buying, but it was a refurbished model. So... that is pretty old as well. And, eventually, when we move/sell, I would want to put in new appliances. Better that I get to enjoy them for a time, rather than look at pretty new ones as we're moving!

I was a bit hesitant to get a front-loader, but the front-loaders had the best ratings on C. Re.ports for washing performance. The reviews on the website we ordered them from were really good too. They even play a sweet little chime when the cycles are complete! :)

Now... I'm off to catch up on a week's worth of laundry. Mr. W will carry the loads to the basement, as he's working from home today. I love it when he works from home, but I have to be really careful not to disturb him too much, which is very tempting. :-D

Happy Friday, everyone!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Detachment

One of my Lenten goals is to Declutter - 40 bags in 40 days. I'm really excited about this one! I know I need to work more on detachment, so I figure this will be a really great way to do so. I'm going to include 4 bags of things I donated the week before Lent started (clothes, gadgets, etc), because they were really BIG bags. :) Today, my DH dropped off at a recycling center 4 old computers dinosaurs which included 2 laptops, an ancient A.pple in the garage, and the most recent desktop hanging around from when it was replaced in December 2009. I will not reveal how old the oldest one was. Whew! I am so glad to be rid of them! Now we only have our current computers. What a concept. Computers we actually use. :-D
This week while recovering, I tackled a few items on the never-ending To-Do list that were easy to handle, yet ones I never seem to get around to doing. I went through my recipe box - gave a number of duplicate family recipes to my sister who lives close by. Then, I went through the binder I have of recipes that I've collected over the past few years - got rid of the ones that no longer looked appetizing, and a few that I tried but can’t imagine making again. I also went through cooking subscriptions and various spice catalogs and got rid of a bunch. And in the meantime, I came across some old favorites that will be making it on the menu in the next few weeks.
I also got rid of back issues of annual subscriptions to magazines - I scanned a few articles that were really interesting and just saved them on the computer. No need to keep the physical article. It'll be easier to find them on the computer anyway!
Some of the bags are big; some are small. So far, including the bags before Lent, I'm up to 10 bags. 30 more to go! Some of the bigger projects will have to wait until I'm cleared to lift things over 3 pounds, but I still have lots of paperwork and files to go through next week. Is it strange that I am really looking forward to this?!?

Some of the bags are throw-away and some are give-away. I’m not going to attempt a yard sale - if things are in decent condition, I’ll just donate them and take the tax deduction.
I recently read the book I.t's A.ll too M.uch by P.eter W.alsh, which is excellent. (OK, OK, I confess I still have it checked out of the library!) It gave me some great ideas, as well as made me think about the "stuff" I do have. How much of it do I actually use? How much can I live without? It's easy to say "But I might use this someday!" If I haven't used it in 6 months... a year... 2... do I really "need" it? Part of his suggestion is to stay out of the stores! So - for Lent, I'm not going shopping, except for essentials like food and household goods like toilet paper. Still need that. :-D

I’ve always loved to organize things, but really, I'm striving to live a simpler life. It's just so.... freeing. :)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Lent

If anyone wishes to come after me, let him take up his cross daily and follow me.
Matthew 16:24
I love Lent. For the last several years, I’ve so appreciated the wisdom of the Church in this time of preparation for Our Lord’s Passion, death & resurrection. Especially since getting married and struggling with IF, I find it one of the easier seasons in the church to participate in! It reminds me that suffering has a purpose. So often I think of Our Lady - constantly giving her fiat, and yet, how she must have suffered during her Son’s passion. One of my favorite parts of the movie, The Pas.sion, is the scene when Mary meets Jesus carrying his cross. Behold… I make all things new. It’s so beautiful… and so true. I forget that my cross is what our Lord is specifically asking me to carry. 
I love this reflection on the Fourth Sorrowful Mystery by St. Jose.maria Esc.riva in the book, Holy Ro.sary: (excerpts)
Carrying his Cross, Jesus goes out toward Calvary … and they lay hold of a certain Simon from Cyrene, who is coming in from the country; and they make him take the cross and carry it behind Jesus. (Luke 23:26)
The prophecy of Isaiah has been fulfilled…
If anyone would follow me… Little friend, we are sad, living the Passion of our Lord Jesus. See how lovingly he embraces the cross. Learn from him. Jesus carries the cross for you; you… carry it for Jesus.
But don’t drag the cross…. Carry it squarely on your shoulder, because your cross, if you carry it like that, will not be just any cross… It will be the Holy Cross. Don’t carry your cross with resignation: resignation is not a generous word. Love the Cross. When you really love it, your cross will be… a cross without a cross.
And surely you will find Mary on the way, just as Jesus did.
Resignation is not a generous word. I find myself coming back to that sentence over and over again. Why am I so often resigned in the struggle with IF? Christ did embrace his cross. He knew he was coming to die. Was he afraid? Certainly. We only need reflect on his actions in the garden to know that. But he embraced the will of his Father. And when his disciples tried to get in the way, he said “get behind me, Satan!” He knew His Cross would redeem us. And so, during Lent, I know I’ll be working to accept more generously the cross he has chosen for me. 
And yes, I’m certain, on the way I will find Our Lady, just as Jesus did.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Recovery...

This will be a short post - I'm finding that I'm more fatigued than anything else these days. I'm only taking 400 mg of the Motrin, every 6 hours, and the pain is quite manageable. I use an ice pack occasionally on the big incision, which helps too. Part of that area is somewhat numb, which I think is also helping with the pain! :)
More than anything, I'm just tired. I started teaching a little yesterday (I teach piano from home, so I'm pretty stationary) and today, which went well, but I am so pooped after just 2 lessons! :) I haven't been sleeping all that well - for a few days I was only getting up once or twice, but last night I was up every hour and a half-ish, which, when I don't fall back to sleep easily, leads to a pretty restless night. I took a nap today, and I couldn't fall asleep for close to an hour. I also keep feeling like I need to use the restroom and I really don't!! So weird. Not to mention feeling really cold, and then really hot! (Hot flashes at 33? What the ??) Anyway, I am really happy to be off the major pain meds, and aside from the fatigue, I feel pretty good. My appetite has definitely returned too! For the first few days the only thing I could really stomach was chicken broth and saltine (GF!) crackers.

Again, thank you all for your prayers. Please keep em' coming!! :-D

ps: The second surgery on Friday went really well. I woke up and felt like crap for about 1/2 an hour because my lower back was killing me! In fact, when I finally got to the room in the outpatient section where family can visit, the nurse came in, asked how I was doing, and I told her my back hurt, she said "I didn't expect to hear that!" I wasn't there much more than an hour, before we were able to leave for the hotel. I ate some eggs and applesauce - I was hungry - but my stomach had definitely shrunk; and watched an episode of Dukes of Hazzard! I loved that show growing up! :) We stayed in the hotel overnight and headed home on Saturday.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

9.5 Hours

Yup. 9.5 hours. That's how long I was in surgery. The day before at my pre-op appointment, Dr. S said he thought it would take a little longer than the one prior (5.5 hours). In my head I thought.. 7. OK. 7. I can handle 7. Good thing I didn't know it would be that long! My hubby and parents were in the waiting room and I can only imagine that must have seemed like an eternity.... Fortunately, the nurses kept updating them. For a while, Dr. S thought he would be able to take care of everything using the robot, but about 5 hours into it, he decided he need to make an incision. We had discussed at my pre-op using the scar (vertical) from my colectomy surgeries, but he mentioned the C-section scar would heal better, and hopefully faster. I agreed that the C-section, bikini-cut would be fine. I now have a very nice cross on my abdomen!!
I'm doing much better a week later. I gained 20 pounds in water weight  - but today my ankles are starting to re-appear, haha, and finally my legs no longer feel like sausages! Everything was so tight and swollen. My lower back is still bothering me a lot - for the first 4 days I could only sleep sitting up because the gas was pressing on my lungs and I was finding it hard to breathe. (Note - I was trying NOT to panic remembering my many asthma attacks as a child.) I had the worst trouble trying to sleep for much more than an hour at a time - feeling quite nauseous on the mor.phine, perco.cet and tylenol + cod.eine. (I didn't get them all at once!) I kept getting anti-nausea meds through the IV but they didn't do much of anything. I was so, so tired. The first day after surgery, I felt great and walked around in the evening quite a bit, but the second day, the nausea set in and I really felt like I'd taken a big step back. I ended up staying in the hospital until Saturday, much longer than I had planned. The perco.cet, and then the tylenol made me feel nauseous for 4 hours after taking it and I just kept thinking, I cannot be sick!! It was pretty bad. I wanted to get home though, so I kept fighting through it, and ended up just trying to manage the pain on the motrin. I was discharged shortly after my afternoon dose of the motrin so we could make the 2.5 hour drive home. We stopped at Mc.D's on the way and it took me 5 minutes to get in the ladies room. Ugh. :) Made it out of there, and finally home, where I gritted my teeth, climbed the 2.5 flights of stairs into our townhouse & up to the bedroom, took a much-needed shower (it felt wonderful) and climbed into bed. I still ended up getting up every hour or so to use the restroom, and in between trips, I managed to get 3 hours of sleep at best. Monday morning I ended up taking one of the Vico.din tablets just hoping it would knock me out enough to get more than an hour at once. I slept another 2.5 hours and that helped a lot. Monday night I was finally able to manage sleeping on my side and since then I have slept more comfortably. At least my lower back has stopped screaming at me. :) Last night I was up so much, that I lost quite a few pounds of the water weight too, haha.
I am so relieved to be feeling much better as I have the follow-up surgery to remove the teflon sheet Dr. S put in to keep things from adhering together on Friday morning. He was really pleased with the results of the surgery and mentioned that he got things as close to normal as he could. There were a lot of adhesions around my left ovary and tube, and down the back of the uterus. He also did a uterine suspension. Without my colon in there to help prop it up, it was tilted pretty far back. 
While in the hospital, I looked at my lower body and kept thinking, this is what I would look like after a C-section. A big scar, a swollen belly, sausage legs, swollen ankles... but no baby. Here's hoping the surgery will work!!
Hugs to all of you who are praying for me. Your prayers are so very much appreciated and I am offering up lots in return!!
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