Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas 2012

Sitting in my office the day after Christmas, sipping pumkin spiced hot cocoa given to me by a coworker, snow falling heavily outside, I felt very grateful for the very merry Christmas I had this year.

Steve and I have now been together for three years and have established a holiday schedule that we plan to live by unless things change drastically (i.e. we have a kid, we lose our jobs, we change our minds, etc.): one year we'll go somewhere vacation-y for Christmas, the next year we'll stay at home just him and me and anyone we invite to spend it with us, and the third year we'll spend the holiday with family.

This was the year we spent Christmas with family. We drove to Cedar City last Friday afternoon, December 21st, and arrived in the evening early enough to go to dinner with my mom. I didn't have a great dining experience as my steak wasn't cooked properly, but it was fun to sit and chat with my mom and plan the weekend's festivities. My brother Jason and his family arrived shortly after we returned to Mom's house and we all stayed up way to late playing games, talking, and laughing.

Saturday morning, Jason, Rachel, Robbie, Steve, and I met Dad, Paula, and Macey for breakfast at the Main Street Diner. Dad was running behind so the rest of us stopped off at Lin's market to say hi to my brother Corey and his wife who were helping one of my brother's high school students earn money for a trip to Italy this summer by selling hot chocolate. We bought s few cups to help out and chatted until Dad arrived at the diner. I felt so content sitting aorund the large table in the diner. I was seated across from my dad with my hubby next to me and my brother down the table and thought how lucky I am to have such great men in my life. My dad hasn't always been perfect but he's trying hard to make up for his mistakes. My brothers aren't perfect either, but they're good men and I love them a lot. My husband IS perfect and I love him the most. We were the loud table in the diner but the other people must have had the Christmas spirit as no one seemed to mind. That or they all were getting a kick out of my nephew Robbie singing loudly while in the restroom. He's such a ham!

After breakfast, Steve went ice fishing with Corey and his son Porter, Jason and Rachel finished Christmas shopping, while Mom and I entertained Robbie until they returned. We then went grocery shopping for finishing touches to our multiple holiday meals. Later, everyone met at mom's where we played games and ate dinner. My friends Carrie and Wendy stopped by and it was wonderful to chat with them and catch up with what's been going on in their lives. I hadn't seen Wendy since before she left on her mission, so it was great to see her again finally! And, Carrie had such happy news to tell that it made my heart happy. Hoping for the best for both of them! Once again, I stayed up much later than usual but had a fabulous time.

Sunday morning, Mom, Jason, Rachel, Robbie, and I went to Mom's church. Mom thought I should have invited Steve, but he's been to church with me a few times lately and I know his limits. It would have been nice to have him there but I just appreciate that he's gone with me for the family events in the past. Mom's ward put on a nice meeting filled with beautiful musical numbers and two really good talks. Afterward, I got to see my old roommate Andrea and her 7-month old daughter who is absolutely gorgeous! I chatted with Andrea and my friend Kyle who is now in that ward, too, for awhile before Mom and I headed home for lunch. Mom stayed home while the rest of us, including my brother Kevin and his family, went to Corey's house for games and snacks. That evening, we all went to Mom's work, one of the local high schools, where we had Kevin's wife's family join us for dinner; two types of soup, chips, and veggies. Then the kids acted out the Christmas story while Kevin read it out of the Bible, interspersed with us singing Christmas carols. The whole time, my dog Sadie roamed freely, trying to get someone to pet her. Mom had worked hard on this evening and she did a great job - it turned out great! We said goodbye to Jenny's family then headed back to Mom's house for more games and food. And yes, we stayed up way too late once again.

Christmas Eve, we woke up to snow. Cedar had received quite a bit of snow before the weekend so this snowfall just added to it. We'd definitely be having a white Christmas and I was happy about it! Steve and I went up to Dad's house at 10am along with Corey and Jason and their families. We played games, chatted with Paula's daughters, ate lunch, and opened presents. For a few years now, Dad and Paula give us money around Thanksgiving and have us buy our own presents then give what we bought to them to wrap and put under their tree. Then we unwrap them while at their house. It works out quite nicely because we always get what we want/need and they don't have to buy for a million people. This year, they bought suprise gifts for us to go along with the present we bought using their money - a set of kitchen knives for each of the ladies (I was so excited because they're sharp AND colorful!) and a pocketknife for each of the guys. Steve and I had used their money to buy us a waffle maker, a breadmaker, a fire-proof file holder, and new bathroom towels. It was fun to hang out at Dad's and I was really glad to be able to have a good long chat with my step-sister Lindsey. Oh, and Macey gave me a necklace with an Eiffle tower pendant. It's sparkly and pretty.

We left Dad's and returned to Mom's around 5pm and Kevin and his family arrived shortly after we pulled in to her house...actually, shortly after we pulled in, leashed our dog and took her out for a walk in the blowing, cold snow! We ate dinner, played games, and opened the gifts us siblings had bought for each other (we rotate who we buy for each year) and the gifts Mom had bought the grandkids and that the aunts and uncles had bought for the kids. Corey and Kevin and their families left around 9, and Rachel and Jason decided to go visit her brother and his family for a little bit even though Robbie was in bed, so Steve and I had a little quiet time with Mom finally. It's Steve and mine's tradition to open our stockings on Christmas Eve and we had bought Mom a stocking filled with silly little gifts and chocolates, so the three of us opened our stockings while everyone else was gone. Steve certainly knows what makes me tick - he gave me LOTS of chocolate! And other stuff, too. When Rachel and Jason returned, they put up Robbies gifts from Santa and then we played Mormon bridge. We finally went to bed just before midnight - we had to get to bed before Santa passed us by!

I can never sleep Christmas Eve night. I'm always too excited. I had hoped to sleep better this time since I'd been staying up so late and waking up so early, but it didn't help. I went to sleep fairly easily but when Steve got up to go to the bathroom, I woke up and never really fell back to sleep. I kept hoping Jason would poke his kid a few times so Robbie would wake up early and we could get up and open presents, but that didn't happen until 6:45am! Rachel later told me they had talked loudly to wake him up since he was sleeping like a  log. I told her next time to poke him but I don't think she'll try it. He finally came into our room to "wake" us up and we finally got to go out to the living room to see what Santa had brought us. I enjoyed Robbie's excitment for his new Spiderman bike and his total blunt disappointment in the Star Wars men that he "already had" until his mom reminded him that one was broken and the other was lost, then he liked them. We opened our presents and Steve and I had just a couple presents left when Corey and Audree showed up. I had started preparing two quiches before opening presents, and when they arrived I finished them up and put them in the oven to bake while we finished. We had all held off opening our presents from my mom until then, so we opened them before breakfast. Mom gave us a bread maker! I had no idea she was going to get one for us! The one she gave us is nicer than the one we bought, so we'll keep it and return the other one for a deep fryer and something else. Steve bought me a couple puzzles, Pioneer Woman's cookbook, gloves and earmuffs, two mugs, electronic Catch Phrase, and a nice croquet set. I bought him cologne, ESPN 30 and 30 DVDs, a computer game, an electric razor, and clothes (two shirts, pj pants, and a sweater). Jason and Rachel gave us two new games - Logo and Monopoly cards - and a book full of pictures of Robbie. All in all, a good haul for both of us.

We ate breakfast and played a game or two before we packed up and loaded our car. Then we all headed out to Corey's house to see what they had received from Santa and each other. Then Steve, Sadie, and I hit the road and returned to our lovely home in Riverdale. The roads were dry and clear and we made it home in less than 4 hours! We noticed IHOP was open, so after we unloaded the car, we went there for dinner. We had eaten there last year for Christmas Eve and I had been surprised by how good the pot roast dinner was, so I ordered it again. It wasn't as good. In fact, it was like eating a tv dinner and was what I had expected last year. Steve confirmed that it wasn't just that my expectations were too high after last year, it really wasn't as good as last year. Ah well. It filled my empty tummy and I didn't have to clean up afterward. We went home, walked the dog, then settled in with popcorn to watch Hercule Poirot on Netflix. We went to bed early.

It was a great Christmas. Not just because I ate lots of good food and received lots of good presents, of course. It was wonderful to spend so much time with my family and to see people that I don't get to see very often. My step-sister Lindsey and I had such a sweet conversation about miscarriages and pregnancies. I haven't always been close to my step-sisters but I'm glad we have a good relationship. My step-sister Karli was at Dad's briefly, so I got to see her cute little daughter Kendri for the first time in a year. She's grown a lot. It was also great to see Carrie, Wendy, Andrea, and Kyle, and I wish I could have seen more of my dear Cedar friends while I was there.

I also love seeing my husband interact with my family. I could not have married a man who fits better with my family than Steve. He's different than them in many ways but fits as if he has always been a part of us. Every day, I thank God for blessing me with Steve. He truly is my best friend, and though he isn't particularly religious, he constantly embodies everything church teaches - goodness, faith, patience, hope, love, kindness, generosity.

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas as well and that 2013 brings us all happiness, love, and laughter!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Story of How I Learned I'm Pregnant

This morning, I had a doctor appointment on base. I had scheduled it a few weeks ago, weeks before I thought I could be pregnant. I had planned to renew my birth control...hahaha. Instead, they confirmed what two at-home tests and the student health center had said - I'm pregnant.

I had been feeling quesy for quite awhile before taking the at-home pregnancy test. At first, I thought I had caught the flu but I never threw up and kept feeling quesy day after day. Then I read a blog post from a friend who is pregnant, and she said that her first clue to being pregnant again was feeling sea sick. That's what I felt like - sea sick! Could I be pregnant, too? Surely it was too soon to be feeling sick, right? Didn't that start after a month or so? I knew I couldn't be a month into pregnancy.

I told Steve about my suspicions. If he was a praying man, I bet he would have spent hours on his knees praying that I simply had a long-running, light-weight case of the flu. I looked online to see how early one could take an at-home pregnancy test and decided upon a certain day on which to take it if I wasn't feeling better by then. Two weeks I waited. I still felt quesy but often forgot about it since I wasn't vomiting and was kind of getting used to it. However, there were times that I felt really bad. The day before the day I had chosen to take the test, I felt pretty sick to my stomach. I texted Steve and asked him to buy my a pregnancy test. There was a long pause before he said ok. Maybe he was saying a mental prayer??

The next morning, I woke up and peed on the stick. I hopped in the shower, wondering if my life was about to change. When I got out of the shower and looked at the stick and the picture on the box that tells you what the symbols on the stick mean, I could hardly believe it. It's one thing to wonder if you're pregnant; it's a whole different ball game to have a white, plastic stick tell you that you most likely are. I went into the bedroom and woke up Steve. It took him a bit to focus. He handled the news better than I had hoped for, but I could tell he wasn't overjoyed. Poor guy. What a way to wake up.

I used to work as a part-time student employee in the university's student health center and knew that they gave free pregnancy tests that were more reliable than the at-home tests, which are pretty reliable. So, I decided to take a visit there that day at lunch to get a second opinion. It turned out positive as well and I was given an approximate due date. All the ladies at the center were ecstatic that I was pregnant and I began to catch a little of their enthusiasm. I called Steve and let him know and he apologized for not being more enthusiastic that morning, he had been sleepy and surprised. He said lots of sweet things and I felt much, much better. Though still pretty freaked out.

We decided to wait until the day before Thanksgiving to tell anyone. That way I could tell my mom in person since she was spending the holiday at our home. It was really hard, though, because my whole family was getting together the weekend before to go to my youngest brother's baby's blessing. We had thought about telling everyone then but didn't want to take away from their event. Imagine our surprise and hapiness when my younger brother and his wife announced that they are expecting a baby! She is due in June, so just a few weeks before me! Steve was so impressed that I managed to keep our secret after that. It wasn't too hard because I wanted to let them enjoy the moment of telling everyone. I am super excited that Rachel and I will be pregnant together and that our kids will be so close in age - along with their cousin Kason who will be less than a year older.

My mom's reaction to the news that I'm pregnant was priceless and totally worth the wait. We put a card and pacifier on her bed. The card said that we're having a baby and gave the due date. She always puts her bags and things away in the guest room as soon as she gets to our house. She went upstairs and was so excited when she came back down. The whole time she was with us, she kept saying how excited she is. She's so happy to be getting more grandkids! Once she knew, we started making phone calls and sending out texts and emails. For some reason, the text that I sent out to my brothers and cousins didn't go out, so they didn't hear about it as soon as I would have liked. Then, I posted it on facebook. I don't always love facebook, but it sure is a good way to get information spread to the people I care about!

The nurse on base got me registered for their two-hour pregnancy class. After the class, I'll be referred to an off-base OB for the duration of my pregnancy. Fortunately, we know a couple people who have had babies in this area and have received great recommendation of OBs that work with the military's insurance.

Is eight months really long enough to prepare for such a life-changing event?? Holy cow!!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

October Update

I realized yesterday that I forgot to do a September update. I've been busy. And I forgot. It's amazing what you can forget when you're not paying attention. I decided to write my October Update since it's close enough to the end of the month and because I'm at work with nothing to do but study for my upcoming International Accounting test. (yuck)

So, here we go.

Surgery. I'm pretty much fully recovered from my June tummy tuck. It amazes me that it took so long to feel so close to 100% better. I'm not 100% better. I will consider myself 100% better when I no longer have any tightness around my stomach. It's almost gone and a lot of the time I forget it's there, which is a good indication that it's not as bad as it was OR that humans really do get accustumed to just about anything. I'm going with the former. Another good sign of improvement is my increased stomach muscle strength. I'm able to do sit-ups by myself as long as my feet are tucked under something, usually my sofa. I'm gradually increasing the number of sit-ups I do every night and find I'm able to go faster than when I started. The area around my belly button is still numb but that area is decreasing in size slowly.

I'm still loving the effects of the surgery. I've never enjoyed wearing pants so much! I'm really glad I did it; however, I think I'm done with plastic surgery. My breasts, upper arms, and thighs still have a lot of excess skin, but I can live with them. My body isn't perfect, but I don't need it to be. I'm okay with how I least most of the time. :)

Work. When I interviewed for this job, I asked about the workload. I was told that it was enough to keep me pretty busy all the time but not so much that I'd feel a lot of stress to get things done. I was very happy since I like to be busy and productive. Three months into the job, I've pretty much figured out all the things I'm supposed to do and do them all too efficiently. The things that are supposed to take me all month to do, I finish earlier. It's a good thing, except that it leaves me with a lot of time on my hands. I'm hoping to pick up duties to supplement my current work load.

On the whole, I really enjoy my job. The people with whom I work are pretty terrific, especially those in the same building as my office. There are a couple people that annoy me but luckily I don't have to deal with them on a daily basis. And, in fact, I like them as people, but their silly office politics drive me batty. One of them is always forgetting that she doesn't have to do my job any more...she took over for a long time before they hired me and found she really likes it and doesn't want to give it up. Ah well. It's a good job and I'm glad to have it...most of the time.

School. I will be so happy when this semester ends! I know that one shouldn't wish away time, but it will really be good to get this semester finished. My classes this semester, International Accounting and Advanced Financial Reporting, had such potential to be really good, but the professors aren't teaching the material. It's kind of frustrating. After talking to several other Masters students last week, I decided to change from the Masters of Accounting program to the Masters of Tax program. It's not a very significant change except that the professors who teach the tax classes are better professors. I've had one before and loved his teaching style. The other is the favorite professor in the Accounting department because he is such a good teacher. So, I'll get better instruction and will still get a degree that will get me where I want to go - a PhD program. I'm struggling to balance full-time work with two Masters classes and a husband, but I'm making it work. I like my job, I like being in school, and I love my husband, but all three together stresses me out (although Steve is such a help, as I'll write below). I'm constantly fighting off the urge to quit school or work, reminding myself that it will be worth it if I perservere. Someday, I'll be doing what I want (teaching Accounting at a university), but in the meantime, I try to be grateful to be where I am instead of where I've been in the past (that job I hated in Salt Lake!).

Journaling. Still isn't happening. It's sad. My journal is now by my bed but I still neglect it. I really would like to record the events of my life more frequently. I need to figure out how I'm going to get back into the habit.

Exercising. Weber State has a Wellness Pays program that pays employees for doing healthy things. One of the things is a twelve-week exercise program. All I have to do is record when I exercise and after 12 weeks turn in the record and receive $20 on my next paycheck. I exercise any way, so I'm getting paid to do what I already do! I'm almost done with my 12 weeks and have only missed three days of exercising the whole time. Yay! Two of those days I was sick and the other day was a day I had class at night and didn't make it to the gym during the day. Mondays and Wednesdays are the nights I have class and so can't go walking with Steve and Sadie in the evening. Weber State allows employees 3 hours of paid "wellness time" every week, so I use that time to walk around the indoor track at the gym on the days I have class. I used to also walk Sadie every morning, but our family life has changed in such a way that I don't do that any more. I don't record the mileage any more, just the amount of time, so next year I'm going to make a goal that reflects that.

Steve. We found out the 16th of this month that Steve will be retired from the Air Force as of December 1, 2012! He had applied for early retirement for various reasons but we didn't think we'd find out as soon as we did or that it would be so soon. When he first decided to retire early, I was a little stressed, but not any more. It helps that I have a full-time job now. Even though it doesn't pay a lot, combined with his retirement, we'll be okay. In fact, we'll be making about what we're used to having to spend, since we are used to putting a healthy chunk of our income in savings. We won't be able to save as much until Steve gets another job, but at least we'll be able to pay all our bills and pretty much live like we're accustomed. Overall, it's a really good thing Steve is retiring. He's put in 22 years and has really earned this retirement. Whatever he ends up doing, I just hope it's something he enjoys.

Like I said, we found out on the 16th and the 18th was his last day of work since he has so much leave accrued. He has had to go on base a few times to do out-processing stuff, but mostly he's been at home. I'm constantly reminded of what a great man I married. Now that I'm working full-time, going to class, and having tons of homework, Steve has really stepped up to help around the house. He had stepped up before he retired, but since staying home all day, he's been even more helpful. Every weekend, while I'm in the Study doing homework, he's downstairs cleaning the house. Now he's even started taking over the cooking duties! Thank heavens for Pinterest and simple but delicious recipes! He gets a little bored, but mostly he's happy to be retired. He knows of some jobs on base that will be opening soon and has tons of contacts on base that will help him get a civilian job, so I'm pretty confident he'll get a job sooner or later. Until then, I'm just glad he's happy.

Other. We've been pretty busy lately. Lots of fun things happening. We've gone to a couple WSU football and volleyball games and a play called Charm. As a staff member, I get two tickets to lots of activities for free. It makes date nights easy to plan and very inexpensive. One night this month, my department at work had a dinner and bowling activity for all of us who had volunteered for the Tech Expo we hosted on campus. Steve and I decided to go to support my work and ended up having a blast. They had really tasty bbq brisket and chicken with corn bread, beans, and peach cobbler! After dinner, we played a few games of bowling and I actually did better than usual. Then we played billiards...I'm horrible at billiards. We played twice and I won once because he hit the 8 ball in when he shouldn't. It was a lot of fun. This next month, we'll be going to more games on campus, especially since basketball is starting. And, there's another play! We're active Wildcats.

Last Friday, we went with my cousin Cassie to Laughing Stock, a comedy improv group that we used to go to every cousins weekend. Before Laughing Stock, we ate dinner at a Lebanese restaurant then had cheesecake from Cheesecake overpriced but so yummy! Steve was such a good sport, listening to us babble incessantly. It was fun seeing Cassie and great to get back to Laughing Stock.

Sunday, Steve and I went to my nephew's Primary program in Sandy. It was the first time Steve has ever been to church with me (he's only ever been to family baptisms and a funeral with me), so I explained what to expect in Sacrament Meeting as we drove the hour to my brother's church house. My nephew, who is 4, was a hoot to watch during the program. He sings with such gusto and earnestness and is such a ham at times. Afterward, we had lunch at their house and played for a little bit. I'm glad to have family close by and will be sad if they end up moving away like they're hoping to.

October was a good month. I loved that it stayed warm most of the month and the fall colors were beautiful, as always. Last week, when the snow storm blew in and dropped a couple inches of snow, I realized that I'm so not ready for winter and the cold! I keep trying to convince Steve that we should move to a tropical island/country now that he's retired. There are places we could live like kings on his retirement alone! So far, I haven't convinced him, so I guess we'll stay put...for now.

Happy Halloween, everyone! I hope you have a safe, fun holiday! I'll be dressing up as a bee again and may post a picture if I manage to take one.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Trending with Julie

Do you tend to get hooked on things, almost to the exclusions of other things?

I certainly do. I've had a pysch eval, before my lapband surgery, and OCD was ruled out, so I know it's most likely a normal tendancy that most people have to varying degrees. Luckily, my degree is Economics.

And Accounting.

Anyhoo, this post is dedicated to the Trends in my life right now. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy these things.

1. Chocolate Chip Cookies. I've always enjoyed a good cookie, regardless of the flavor. This Spring, needing something sweet to eat, not wanting to go buy anything and not having a lot of ingredients, I made peanut butter cookies - the only recipe for which I had all the ingredients. I really enjoyed baking and eating them, so I decided to buy some chocolate chips and try baking them. Well, I baked a batch of chocolate chip cookies practically every week (or every other week, depending on how long a batch lasted) this Summer. On our cruise to Alaska, I fell in love with these little, crunchy chocolate chip cookies and ate a few dozen probably. Now that I'm working full time and going to school, I don't bake cookies as much as I did, but I still make them sometimes and I certainly eat them whenever I can.

2. Salad. I liked salad before my lap band surgery but didn't really eat it that often. After my surgery, though, lettuce was a big problem for me. It got stuck and created a horrible blockage that usually ended in an unpleasant scenario. So, I stopped eating lettuce. I'd pick it off hamburgers and sandwiches, would let Steve eat my house salads at restaurants, and we never bought lettuce. I'm not sure when I started taking a few bites of salad before turning it over to Steve, but it started happening more frequently. Recently, I've been on a real big salad kick. We've started buying heads of lettuce and lots of veggies/cheese/ham to put in the salad. I like mine with ranch, Steve likes noncreamy dressings. I'm eating a salad right now. It's delish. After my tummy tuck, I had my band almost completely emptied due to complications. I've had it filled again, but it's a lot looser than it was pre-tummy tuck, so as long as I eat slowly and carefully, I don't have any unpleasant endings.

3. Belts. Pre-tummy tuck, I never used a belt. They got in the way and were sometimes quite uncomfortable. Now, however, most of my pants, including those I have bought since losing my tummy, are too loose and fall down too low if I'm belt-less. So, I hardly ever go without a belt. I only have a couple, so I'm itching to go shopping to buy some new ones!

4. Yellow. I paint my toe nails, and sometimes my finger nails, yellow and love it! It's such a fun, friendly color. I also painted our sitting room yellow and it really makes me happy to sit in there with a good book or puzzle or just to take a nap. I'm hoping to paint more rooms in our house different shades of yellow. For years, I've been looking for a yellow necklace. It would give a burst of color to an outfit, but I haven't found one I like yet...there's not a lot out there, unfortunately. At work, we have door signs that we put outside our doors to say why we're aren't in our office (Lunch, Meeting, Errands, Sick, Vacation, etc.). Mine are yellow. I chose them. They are cute.

5. Puzzles. I haven't done one since I started working, but my fingers are itching to start a new one. I'd only be able to work on it on Sundays - my self-imposed day off from homework (unless I was unable to do homework on Saturday due to plans that couldn't be scheduled for another time). Puzzles are fun. They make my mind work but in a relaxing way. And, when you're finished, you have something pretty to look at that you "created".

6. Pinterest. I am a huge recipe collector. I have magazines and books full of recipes, some that I'll never make but that look yummy or interesting. I like Pinterest because I can peruse tons of recipes and not spend a dime. I've made many recipes that I found on Pinterest, and also discovered a food blog that I really like, Chef-in-Training. Her recipes aren't complex or time-consuming, and Steve and I have enjoyed almost every one. So far, my favorites of hers are the Greek Chicken Gyros and the Chicken Fajita soup. Oh! And the Chinese Chicken Salad! I could have eaten it every meal for a week, it was soooo good!!

7. Glasses. Eye glasses to be precise. For the last couple months, I've worn glasses instead of contacts because of a contacts prescription that I didn't like. It was the brand of contacts; they made my eyes hurt. The store wouldn't substitute the brand I normally buy because it wasn't on the doctor's prescription. I didn't have time to go back to the doctor, so I returned the contacts and am just wearing my glasses. Luckily, I like my glasses. My eyes feel better than they have in a long time - the doctor told me I've been wearing contacts too long every day and he could see a slight indention in my eye ball because of it! The things I dislike about wearing glasses is 1) smudges - I get them all the time, b) inclement weather - I either take them off and can't see or wear them and still can't see, c) they get in the way when snuggling with Steve, and 4) I can't wear sunglasses while wearing my glasses. Still, it's fun to have a new look.

8. Milk in the A.M. Lately, I take a glass of milk with me to work every morning. I've always liked milk but rarely drank it pure, usually I prefer it with chocolate syrup mixed up with it. I'm not sure why I started drinking milk with my breakfast, but I started running behind while getting ready, so I started taking my glass to go. And, it isn't just any glass out of my cupboard. It has to be one of the three red glasses from my grandmother's kitchen or one of the three red, plastic, cheap glasses we bought for when small children come over for dinner. These are my milk glasses. I don't take even a little sip of the milk until I'm seated at my desk. Sometimes I will have eaten breakfast, other times (most frequent) I eat breakfast at my desk as well. Milk. It does a body good.

9. Gym Time. Speaking of something that does a body good, I've been going to the gym 2-3 times a week. Weber State allows employees 3 hours of release time to do wellness-type activities. These 3 hours are paid for and don't need to be made up by skipping lunch or staying late. I had chosen to do yoga 3 hours a week, but it didn't work out. My stomach hurt too much and the room was so hot I almost fainted the first day. So, now I go to the gym and walk/sometimes jog around the track and do a little weight training. It's a nice break in the day and is especially nice since 2 of the three gym days are days I have class in the evening and so can't go for our nightly walks with Sadie. I've noticed the weight creeping up on me (see number 1 on this list!) so this time at the gym could prove to be very useful in keeping it where I want it to be.

That's a good enough list for now, I think. Now you know what I've been liking nowadays. What's been trending with YOU?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Ready for Change?

There's something about Autumn that makes me want to be a brunette. Maybe because I like how orange, red, gold, brown, and other typical "Fall color" clothes look on me when I have brown hair compared to when I'm blond. Maybe because brown is a Fall color and blond is bright and better suited for Spring. Whatever the reason, I definitely feel the pull to dye my hair a nice, rich, brown every Fall. This one included.

And yet, I always hesitate before I dye my hair brown.

It's not that I have never dyed my hair brown before. In fact, I started dying my hair brown more than 17 years ago. I like having darker hair. My blue eyes stand out more when my hair is dark. I feel a little exotic with dark hair.

And still I hesitate to do it.

After several years of being a brunette and morbidly obese, I lost 90 lbs and went blond as my "reward". I stayed blond for two years while I was getting skinnier, so now I kind of associate being blond with being skinnier and brunette with being fat (with just me, of course, not everyone). Then last year, I chopped my blond hair off really short then a few months later dyed it brown. I didn't like it. I didn't feel like me. Not a good time to try dark hair again.

Despite that feeling, I feel this strong urge to dye my hair brown. Maybe to prove that I can be a brunette and skinny and look good since my hair has grown out more and I like the cut? I even bought hair dye a few days ago.

Still, I hesitate.

Really, it's about change and how hard it is sometimes for me to adjust to changes. I never struggle with going blond after being brunette because I know how easy it is for me to dye my hair brown if I tire of my color. It's much harder to go blond after being brunette. I can't do it myself, it's a long-ish process, and it's expensive.

This week, Steve and I learned that our life is going to go through a fairly big change by the end of this year. Nothing horrible or even hugely dramatic, just a change. It will affect him more than me, but it will impact both of us. We thought we had the next couple years planned out and it's been a little unsettling to have those plans change and to not know what life has in store for us. Change is a little scary for that very reason. I like to know (or think I know) what's going to happen.

I honestly think that this upcoming change is going to be a blessing, though it may not feel like one right now. Change can be a good thing. It makes us re-evaluate our priorities, sweep away cobwebs, learn, adapt, hopefully improve. As much as I sometimes love being in a rut, change can lead me down paths that are exciting, beautiful, and interesting. I had a hard time adjusting to the change of working full-time again, but now I realize how much of a blessing it was for me to get this job. It makes the upcoming change a lot easier for me to handle. And, I'm meeting lots of great people and learning lots of new things. I'm a better person for having gone through that change.

So, tonight, I'm dying my hair.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Labor Day Weekend - I'm Exhausted!

I'm beginning to think I need to rethink my weekends. I find myself looking forward to going back to work so I can relax a little!

In all seriousness, Steve and I have a lot of fun on weekends. There's so much to do around here that it's hard to sit at home and let it all pass us by. Don't feel too sorry for us, though, we somehow manage to squeeze in a bit of relaxation here and there.

Our Labor Day weekend started Thursday night. We both rushed home from work, leaving a little early with permission, of course, jumped in our car and headed to the University of Utah first home football game. It started at the ridiculous time of 5:15, so we were late. We arrived where we normally park and found the street full of cars, so we parked further away from the stadium and hiked up. It was hot, the street was sharply inclined, and I got a blister. I didn't care - I was with Steve and we were going to watch live football! The game was against a smaller school, so it was a bit of a blowout, but we still had a lot of fun. We ate hot dogs and chips, drank lots of Sprite, and I had a snow cone. It rained a bit in the 2nd half, but we were tough and stayed. Steve's highlight of the night was getting to see the Stanley Cup in person. It was during half-time, when I went to get the snow cone, so I missed it. I guess a member of the LA Kings was present at the football game and he brought the Cup to show the crowd. It would have been neat to see, but I'm glad I missed seeing it instead of Steve.

Friday, Steve didn't have to work. He brought me to school where the campus Block Party was going on and purple pancakes were being served. I introduced him to some of the people with whom I work, we ate, then he went home. I worked my department's booth all day and was so glad it was overcast! It was perfect weather for hanging outdoors. Unfortunately, the power went off at our house, so Steve didn't have a/c, tv, computer, washer/dryer, or anything the whole day he had off! Again, at least it was overcast, so he said it didn't get too hot inside the house and he was able to open all the doors and windows to cool off. He picked me up from work and we went out to dinner at Texas Roadhouse. I was craving salad and they have a good house salad with stuff other than just lettuce and shredded carrots. We went home and watched football. Well...he did. I finished my book while snuggling with him. It felt great to be at home together relaxing.

Saturday, we woke up early (for a weekend) and headed to Salt Lake. We ate breakfast at Ruth's. Steve's biscuits and gravy looked yummy and his hashbrowns were delish (I tried some) but I was disappointed with my quiche - I make better. However, I loved the fruit that came with my quiche and the side order of bacon was perfection! After breakfast, we headed to the zoo where we met up with my sister-in-law Rachel and nephew Robbie. Steve's friend Tim and his family came a little later and we spent a total of 7 hours roaming the zoo. The new Mountain Shore exhibit is pretty neat. We were fortunate in the weather once again. The cooler temperatures made the animals more active than I've ever seen them. The polar bear was diving and swimming around, cougars roamed their pen, and other animals were out and about as well. We sat in a great spot for the bird show; birds swooped over us several times. It was really neat. My nephew really hit it off with one of Tim's girls - it was cute to see them interact. When we left the zoo, Steve and I stopped at Tulie's a french pastry shop that makes divine chocolate tarts, then ate at The Bayou, a cajun bar. I had hoped for their onion rings (the best I've ever had) but they weren't being served. My gumbo was good, but it didn't really satisfy me, and the salad was just a couple types of lettuce. I love The Bayou, but it didn't hit the spot that time. Oh well. We got home and collapsed. No, first we walked the dog, then we collapsed. I can't remember doing anything, so we probably watched tv.

Sunday was Steve's 41st birthday! I sure am grateful that he was born, that he had parents who raised him well, and that he is naturally a wonderful man. Mostly, I'm grateful that we met, fell in love, and are now living happily ever after. I spent the day doing too much. I ran to the store for things to make him a yummy breakfast - french toast with fruit - then spent the morning making it, serving it, and cleaning up afterward. After a brief interlude of snuggling with him while he watched sports, I returned to the kitchen to make his cheesecake...with disasterous results. Turns out, my pan has warped a little and is no long a tight fit. So, when I jiggled the pan to get out the air pockets, everything came gushing out the bottom. I wasn't happy about it and then got a little peeved at Steve for not caring more about it. Silly me! I really need to learn to laugh at things like this and take them a little less seriously. Steve's just the guy to teach me to do it. I was going to make a chocolate cake, but Steve tried to talk me out of it by suggesting we go out for lunch. Knowing we were going out for dinner and that we had eaten out a lot lately, I declined and spent the next hour making lunch. Then cleaned up afterward. Wrapped Steve's presents, decorated the house with birthday signs, and cleaned the house a bit because we were having company later. At this point, I realized that I had spent maybe 30 minutes with my husband...on his birthday! I was so busy trying to make his day special that I had completely missed the mark. He was napping in front of the tv, so I went into our room for a good pout. I wasn't there long before he came in and made me feel better, like he always does! I'm so blessed to have him in my life! I learned a valuable lesson on Sunday. We cuddled and talked for awhile before heading off to dinner at Sonora Grill where I had delicious sweet pork quesadillas. We stopped off at a store on our way home to get cake and ice cream. That evening, Tim and his family and Rachel and Robbie came over for a quick birthday party. It was a fun evening and a great way to end the day. Oh, and Steve loved all the presents I got him, though he's not so sure about the pedicure gift card. *smile*

Monday, Steve had to work from 8:30am until 9:00pm. Big time bummer. Worse still, he was just there to make sure nothing went wrong and didn't really have work to do. He took his new Kindle Fire with newly downloaded apps and books, so he had something to keep him occupied while at work. I took full advantage of having a day off with no distractions. I did laundry, walked the dog three times, went grocery shopping, watched two episodes of Drop Dead Diva that had been recorded, cleaned the house, baked cookies, did the dishes, and did homework for several hours. When Steve got home at 9:20, I was ready to go to bed and sleep! Instead, I stayed up with him and chatted about our day.

Not every weekend is this busy, but then again, not every weekend is so long. I wish I would have relaxed more with Steve on his birthday, but I can't change that I didn't, just learn from it and move on. I loved walking around the zoo with him, holding his hand and cuddling every chance we got. It was fun spending time with family and friends as well. I'm glad I had time yesterday to get some much-needed chores and homework done. All in all, it was a good weekend!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

All About August

August was the busiest month of the summer for me. Lots of changes. The older I get, the more resistant to change I find myself becoming. Especially when the way things used to be were great. Ah well. The month certainly passed quickly, and I'm looking forward to Fall and all it brings - football, changing leaves, cooler temps.

Here's the low-down of my month.

Surgery Recovery. I feel like I've covered this ad naseum in other posts, so I'll keep it brief. I'm feeling good. I still feel pain when I sneeze, laugh, cough, or move in certain ways, but most of the time I forget about my stomach because it feels fine. The tightness isn't quite gone but almost. I put vitamin E on my scars to help them disappear, but I know that it's going to take a long time before they stop being bright red/purple. The one around my belly button looks really good, actually. Yay! I'm very pleased with the results of the tummy tuck, as I've said a million times already. *smile*

Work. Is a mixed bag of treats. I really like everyone I work with and I like the job duties I've been given. I love having my own office and look forward to slowly decorating it and making it my own. However, there are some things that need to change pretty darn quick. There's some office politics going on that don't please me at all, especially because I'm in the middle. There's been a lot of restructuring and I think that's the cause of the problems. I've thought a lot about how I'm going to handle things and am sure that in time, once everyone is used to the new ways, it will all settle down.

School. School started this week. Now that I'm working full-time, I lessened my class load from 3 classes down to 2. I have the last undergrad class, Global and Complex Entities (a mixture of Advanced and International Accounting) on Monday evenings. The professor for the class is also the department chair and upon learning that I'm a Masters student taking the class as a "leveling" class, he suggested that I talk to the Masters program head to see about getting Masters credit for the class as an elective. I asked and received an affirmative response! Yay! That means that I'll have 2 of the 10 classes finished this semester instead of just one! My other class is a Masters class. It is Financial Accounting and Reporting and is held Wednesday evenings. When I registered for the classes in the Spring, I was really bugged that all my classes were going to be in the evenings from here on out. Now that I'm working full-time during the day, it's quite a blessing. It means that I see my hubby 1 hour each of the two days I'm in class, but we'll survive. Somehow. *smile* My Wednesday night class is taught by a professor I had last Fall. He's a really nice, cheerful, funny sort of guy, but his lectures were hard to follow along with, especially in regards to the readings and homework problems. They didn't go with what he was saying. So, it's going to be an interesting class. The best part of being back in school is seeing my friends from last year. Many are in my Global class on Mondays and it was fun catching up with them. So different from last Fall when I didn't know a soul. It wasn't until Spring semester that I really started making friends with people I recognized from previous classes. My Masters class has only one person I know well in it...and I don't like him, though I try not to let it show. He's rude to fellow students and to professors, which is really hard to bear, though he's always very nice to me. It should be a good semester.

Journaling. Sigh. Still didn't happen this month. I really want to write in my journal every day. I just need to move my journal back by my bed so I can write a little bit before going to sleep. Right now it's in the living room. What good is it doing there? I'll never write while watching tv with Steve. I can do this. I know I can.

Exercising. With my new work schedule, I don't walk as long in the mornings as I used to, but I still go on walks with Steve and Sadie in the evenings that I don't have class. Fortunately, the university allows for 3 hours of release time every week to do something wellness-related. I had planned on doing yoga, but it didn't work out (I'll post about it later), so instead I'm going to workout on my own Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at lunch time. I'll walk/jog around the track, sometimes ride the stationary upright bikes, and always take 10-15 minutes to do the weight machines. This will make up for the nights I don't get to walk with Steve and Sadie and will also give me an extra workout on Fridays. I'm very excited about it. The school also pays for certain wellness activities, so after 12 weeks of recording my exercises, I'll get $20. There are various other ways I can earn $20, up to $200 a calendar year! Most of the things I already do, so it's an easy $200. I just have to record what I'm doing. Easy peasy!

Summer To-Do List
With starting to work full-time, I killed my to-do list. Summer was officially over for me. I feel good about all the things I accomplished. It was a good thing to have and kept me from slacking off too much.

Other Stuff
We had planned to go to Cedar City for my SIL Jenny's baby shower and my nephew Scott's birthday party, but Steve ended up in the hospital that Friday, so we stayed home. All is good with him, which is a huge relief. I missed getting to go down and see everyone though. I told him, next time he wants to get out of seeing my family, don't fake a heart condition. *smile*

Tonight, we're going to the first University of Utah home football game. We are going to be terribly late because neither of us can get off work early enough, but we'll still see most of the game. And, it will fun to dress up in my Utah gear and watch football live again. I'm also really looking forward to going to all (or most) of the Weber State home games this year. Yay for football!!

We finally were able to go to farmers markets this month after not really going much this summer. It was great buying and enjoying fresh produce and baked goods (we're in love with this one vendor's banana bread!). We love the one in Ogden because it's close and still has a great selection, but we also went down to Salt Lake once and got to experience the bigger market. AND we stopped to get frites from the Bruges Belgium Waffles and Frites. Mmmmm. What a treat!

August was good. It was busy and went by quickly and had lots of changes, but it was good. I didn't even mind the heat very much - probably because my office is so cold! I can't believe we only have a few months left of 2012. I'm determined to enjoy each one!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

New Job Update - Part 2

I'm halfway through my fourth week at my new job.

Last night, I dreamed about one of my former jobs, Intermountain Hearing Clinics. Gosh, I loved that place. I loved the two people with whom I worked, I loved my job duties, I loved most of our patients, I loved the commute (3 minutes), I loved the office, I loved our Accountant, etc. I worked there for 7 years before deciding to move on to a different job. It was a hard move but it set in motion changes that really impacted my life. Ever since, then, though, I've been looking for a job that felt as good as that one did. A place where I didn't dread going into work, where I felt I was accomplishing things, where I liked the people I worked with and the things I did at work.

My last job, a student worker at the Student Health Center at WSU, almost fit the bill. I really liked the people with whom I worked and I never dreaded going into work. It was an easy job and most of the time I just did my homework or surfed the web. That was nice but I always kind of felt bad for being paid to do not very much. My supervisor kept telling me not to worry about it, so I mostly didn't.

My new job has a lot of potential to be like my job at Intermountain Hearing Clinics, if not better in ways. I work with some really nice people that make the workday go by nicely. My training hasn't been the most effecient, productive in the world, so it's been kind of hard to determine if I'd like my job duties, but as I'm slowly learning them, I think I'll enjoy them. It's a different kind of bookkeeping than I did at the audiology clinic, but it's still crunching numbers. I support two departments in the IT division, departments that are very different and have different ways of doing things. One department is used to having a support person, the other isn't but has wanted one for a long time. It's going to be interesting working out how to support both departments and their different quirks. I like a good challenge. And, I like that I'm blazing a new trail. The gal I'm replacing has set up a good system, but it's her system. I like that I'll be able to rework it a bit to fit my role - something that is different that what her role was in ways.

I have my own office. I've never had my own office before. At Intermountain Hearing Clinics, my "office" was a built in desk in the kitchen. It made grabbing a snack from the fridge extremely easy, but it was also a high traffic area. At SUU, I had a cubicle...well, more like a desk in the middle of the room with really low walls surrounding it. I now have an office with four walls and a door that I can close if need to be left alone to get an important project done in time. I have walls that I can decorate! I'm not sure how I'll decorate them or when, but I can!

Unlike at Intermountain Hearing Clinics, I now have lots of good benefits - medical (which I declined because I'm insured through the Air Force), dental, life, and retirement!! I'm the most excited by the retirement. The school is very generous with what it contributes to their employees' retirement funds. I also get free tuition for up to 6 credit hours a semester and 3 hours a week of release time to do wellness activities. I'm enrolled in a yoga class twice a week and I don't have to make up that time at work (i.e. come in early, not take a lunch, etc.). I wish WSU had release time for classes like SUU did, but I am really grateful to have it to exercise and do other wellness activities (there's a relaxation room with massage chairs that I can go to once a week - again, without having to make up the time at work!).

Last night, Steve and I made plans for the extra money I'm bringing in now. I'm really excited to be contributing to our financial future. Even when I wasn't working at all, we were in a good spot financially, but now we have the chance to do some things that will really be good for us, now and in the future. I'm glad, and very fortunate, to be married to someone who thinks the same as me about money and savings and debt. The money isn't the most important thing to me (I'm fortunate to be in a position where I don't need to work), but it's definitely a wonderful part of my job.

I hope to stay at WSU for a long time. I plan to stay in this position until I graduate with my Masters, and then I hope a position opens up in the Accounting Services division (Payroll, Accounts Receivable, Purchasing, etc). I'd like to eventually start teaching beginning Accounting classes as an adjunct or assistant professor until I get my PhD. I like working at a university. The atmosphere is different than in a corporate setting. I like the emphasis on learning. My VP really encourages his staff to take or teach classes. And he isn't alone in that; most departments feel the same way. After all, we're at a university! I feel very fortunate to finally be working at a university again. And, I feel very fortunate to have landed in this position, with these people.

It's a good job.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Surgery Recovery Update

It's been just over 8 weeks since my tummy tuck. Can you believe it?

Someone asked me if I still feel pain. Yes, I do. My doctor told me it would take 6 weeks before I'd feel good. He didn't lie.It took that long...and I'm still a work-in-progress. It took 4 weeks to be able to function fairly normally (drive myself, do light housework, walk half a mile, etc.) but I still didn't have feeling in my stomach - total numbness one side to the other- and it still felt like my skin and muscles were being stretched tight (because they had been). It still hurt quite a bit.  At 6 weeks, I felt better, but not 100% better. I finally could go without the support garments (hallelujah!), walk over a mile, clean the bathroom, vacuum, and work full-time. At 8 weeks, I have regained a lot of the feeling back in my stomach, just the very center (about an inch diameter around my brand new belly button) still feels numb. My muscles still feel sore but not as much. There are times I actually forget about my tummy because the soreness isn't too bad. My skin rarely feels tight, just if I've sat too long in the same position.

I can finally sleep on my stomach, but it hurts when I roll over onto it. Once I'm on my stomach, there's no pain, it just hurts to get there. Thankfully, it doesn't hurt so much that I wake up every time I turn over like it used to. Sleeping for hours uninterrupted is a blessing. It hurts to sneeze. A lot. Laughing and coughing still cause minor pain as well, but not as bad as sneezing. I had no idea you use your stomach muscles when sneezing. For that matter, I've learned of all sorts of activities that use my stomach muscles that I hadn't realized before. I can't sit up by myself unless I hold on to something, and then it still hurts quite a bit. Usually, Steve puts his arm in front of me so I can use it to pull myself up.

My stomach muscles are very weak, so I'm slowly trying to increase their strength - I do a few girl pushups and some crunches every night. I tried to do a plank the other night it but was too painful, even with Steve holding up my middle a little to take off some of the pressure. Next week I'm starting a yoga class at work. It's twice a week. I'll have to be very careful to not overdo it and hurt myself too much, but I'm really looking forward to it. Yoga is a great way to build up strength in your core.

I told Steve the other night that I hope to be all healed in two weeks. That means no numbness and no tightness/soreness. I'd love to not hurt when I sneeze or cough or laugh, but a part of me can't comprehend that - it's been so long since I've been pain-free that it doesn't seem possible. However, every week I seem to make huge strides towards completely healed that it's totally possible that I will be in two weeks...or three or four. *smile*

I've come a long way and it feels good to be where I am. I absolutely love wearing clothes! I realize what a silly statement that is, but it's true. I love wearing pants more than I ever did before. Skirts and dresses could sort of hide my stomach, but pants showed it off. So, I chose my shirts carefully when I wore pants - they had to be long enough to cover my tummy. What freedom to choose shirts regardless of their length! In fact, I love wearing shirts that aren't too long now so I can see how good I look in my pants. I bought a new pair of jeans that has a belt and can actually wear shirts tucked in. It's a whole new world for me.

It's been a long healing process, longer than I fully comprehended going into it; however, it's been worth it. Even in the beginning, when I was in so much pain and couldn't do anything by myself and had those awful drainage tubes, there were moments that made it worthwhile. Spending lots of time with my mom, Steve's tenderness and loving service, sitting in bed with Sadie curled up next to me for a couple hours every day, wearing pajamas all day, Mom doing my hair, making out with my hubby, the first time I wore real clothes (after the drains came out) and seeing how flat my tummy was - these are memories of the early days of my recovery, moments that cut through the pain of healing, memories that I cherish. Now, as I feel better every day, every week, I'm rejoicing in my new stomach, my new confidence. It's totally been worth it!

That said...I'm not going under the knife again for a very, very, very long time!!! *smile*

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

The Lowdown on My New Job - Part 1

Ever since I moved to northern Utah, I've been applying for full-time jobs at Weber State University. I had loved working at SUU and enjoyed the benefits that came from working in an academic setting. A few times, I came close to being hired on at WSU but was never offered a position. Finally, I gave up and decided to go to school full-time to get a Masters of Accounting degree. Not working was so hard for me - I felt horrible about not contributing to our household income - so, after discussing it with Steve, I applied for and was offered a student hourly position at WSU's student health center. It was great! I worked 20 hours a week, most of the time blogging or doing homework. I developed friendships with the full-time staff there and decided I'd stay there until my schooling was finished in December 2013.

Life threw me a curve ball and I panicked...just a little. Steve failed his physical and started a process that may (we won't know for a few months) lead to him retiring a year earlier than we had planned. The thought of him going out and getting another job while I went to school and my ultra-cushy part-time job made me sick. My goal all the time we've been together, in which time he's brought in the bulk of our income, is to be making enough money that when he retires he can work at whatever job he wants - even if it's a piddly job at a sporting goods store - without worrying about our finances. After 20+ years in the military, I think he's earned the freedom to pick a job that he'll really enjoy.

So, with his earlier-than-expected retirement staring me in the face, I immediately jumped on WSU's employment website and applied for the only full-time Classified Staff position currently open. Steve, when he found out, didn't approve. He preferred that I focus on finishing my degree so I could then get a really good job in my career field instead of taking longer to finish because I'm working full-time. In the end, we compromised and agreed that I would work full-time only at WSU, since my goal is to work there or another university for the rest of my career.

A few weeks went by and my panic had mostly subsided. We had talked things through and had a good plan, so I knew we could weather any outcome. I had forgotten about applying for the position at WSU until the day before our Alaskan cruise when I received a call to set up an interview sometime that week. I was thrilled to be getting the call and was disappointed to have to tell the caller, the secretary, that I was going on a cruise and wouldn't be back until the following week. She said she'd let the hiring committee know and would get back to me. I was hopeful that they'd reschedule for the next week. Later that day, she called and asked about June 25th. I said that would be great, so she told me the time and location of the interview. I excitedly told Steve about it and he rained on my parade by reminding me that I was having my tummy tuck on June 22nd and would not be able to walk on my own by the 25th. I said I didn't care. I wouldn't risk not getting the job by calling her back and ask to reschedule. He persisted. I knew he was right but put off making the call until the Sunday after we had returned from our cruise. I left a message explaining my surgery, etc, and asked if we could reschedule once again. I didn't have a lot of hope this time.

I didn't hear back from them before my surgery (a Friday), so I figured they had found someone else in the time since we had talked weeks prior. My tummy tuck took place early Friday morning and I was home in bed early that afternoon when my phone started vibrating. Figuring it way my dad checking to see how I was, I answered, not even looking at the caller. It was WSU calling back to reschedule the interview!! She was surprised I had answered, I explained that I was pretty drugged up but okay. We discussed how soon I could come in for an interview and set a date for two weeks from that day. I was thrilled!

Two weeks later, Steve drove me to the interview. It went really well AND I loved how I looked in real clothes after my surgery. A couple hours later, the director of the department (which is part of the IT Division) called and set up an interview with me and the VP of the IT Division, so I knew they had liked me. I went to the interview with the VP and it went well, too. Talking about the job duties, I felt like they'd be a good fit for me, and my would-be supervisor seemed really nice. A few days later, HR called to offer me the job and I accepted. I had been a little worried about starting to work full-time three weeks after my surgery, but fortunately (for me at least) I had to wait to start working until the background check passed. It took 2 weeks, so I started last Monday, just over 5 weeks after my surgery. By that time, I was feeling good enough to sit at a desk for long periods and walk around as needed.

My first couple days of work went well, despite a little confusion Monday morning when my trainer and my boss weren't there. I spent an hour talking to a guy who had just started the week before, then read for two hours when he had to go to a meeting and before my meeting with HR. Tuesday night last week, I panicked again. Why was I working full-time??? I had a cushy part-time job that gave me time to do my homework, freeing up my free time, and that let me go to school full-time so I could finish faster. I knew it, I loved the people, and I had plenty of time with my husband. Oh! And, I felt horrible about leaving our dog alone outside all day now. I spent a restless night, planning on quitting my new job and begging my old one to take me back. Of course, when morning came, I realized I couldn't do that, even though I really wanted to!

My desire to go back to my old job had little to do with this job. Once at work, I liked it well enough. It was weird because there were huge amounts of times when I wasn't being trained (like right now) and so had to find stuff to do on my own (pretty hard when you don't know what to do or how to do it). Then I discovered a little bit of "politics" that exists and wasn't very excited about having to deal with it. That said, the people were nice and I kept hoping that I'd eventually get trained to do the work and that I'd enjoy the work.

Yesterday, I finally came to terms with my new situation. Quite frankly, I'm a little embarrassed and ashamed  that I ever wasn't. As I wrote earlier, I've been hoping and trying for this for a couple years. It's a good job in a market that isn't overflowing with them. I have good benefits and good prospects of furthering my career. I hope that now my "foot is in the door" I'll be able to one day work in the departments that will be more along the lines of my studies (Payroll, Purchasing, Accounts Receivables/Payables, the Controller's office, Auditing, etc.). Instead of bemoaning the fact that I can't sleep in until 7:30 any more, that the dog has to be alone a little longer, that I won't be able to do homework at work, etc, I should be grateful for the blessing that is this job. And now I am.

And I'm finally beginning to get trained on the "meat and potatoes" of my position and really do think I'll like the work. My official title is Office Specialist. Basically, I'm part secretary and part bookkeeper. My supervisor is the head of one department in the division but I will eventually support both departments in the division (this is the cause of the "politics" I mentioned earlier). I'm glad that my main duties relate to Accounting instead of being a straight secretarial position that just answers phones and orders supplies (which I do, too). It sounds like I'll stay fairly busy once I know what I'm doing but that the work won't be overwhelming. Perfect!

The best part of this job so far is the stress it takes off me about my future. I worried about finding a job after school and Steve's retirement and now I don't have to. It doesn't pay a ton, but it's enough for us right now and, like I wrote earlier, it should be a good stepping stone for other, better-paying jobs on campus.

So, I'm going to relax and enjoy this position for all its worth. It's going to be a little tricky with school, but I changed my class load to two instead of three, so I'm sure I'll be able to get homework done and still spend time with my hubby. I'm meeting very nice people and learning new things. And, I'm not sitting at home bored to tears. Yep, I'm very glad and very fortunate in my new job.


Sunday, August 05, 2012

July Update

Even though August is still technically summer and still quite hot, the end of July signals the end of summer to me. It's not a bad thing. I don't love the cold, but I don't care for the blistering heat either. There are other reasons I'm grateful to say goodbye to July.

Surgery. At the beginning of July, I was like a totally different person than I was the end of the month. I started the month with draining tubes, my mom was staying with us to take care of me, and I could barely walk or stand on my own. Slowly, I started to regain my strength and my mobility, especially once the drains came out (very painfully!). I had frustrating moments when I felt like I wasn't getting better as fast as I would have liked, but during the last couple weeks of the month I progressed a lot every week, feeling better and better every day. Best of all, I finally stopped wearing the support undergarments the doctor required me to wear for six weeks post-surgery! I'm not 100% better - my stomach muscles and skin feel tight still, especially if I've been sitting too long. I can finally sleep on my side but not my stomach. Certain movements cause me sharp pain, like sneezing, but they are dwindling in number. Finally, I look great! It's fun to actually see my belly button where it's supposed to be, and wearing clothes is a lot more enjoyable and easy now that I don't have a huge stomach. I have a huge scar, but it's already fading a little and as neither Steve or I have a problem with it, it doesn't bother me at all.

School. Nothing to say really. I enjoyed another month free of homework or classes. That said, I'm looking forward to starting classes. It will be fun to see my friends and to get going with my Masters degree. I'm only taking two classes this semester instead of three and plan to keep with that load until I graduate - which seems like an eternity from now!

Work. The reason I lightened my class load is my new job! After two years of trying, I finally got hired on full-time at Weber State University. I am the new Office Specialist (aka secretary/bookkeeper) for the IT Division. I think I'll like it. The people are really nice, the job seems like things I'll enjoy doing, and the pay is okay (more than I made as a part-time hourly) and the benefits are good. The VP of the division is fairly new and has been making a lot of changes that people haven't been loving. My position is taking on  new responsibilities that has some people disgruntled and others thrilled. It's a political mine field unless I tread carefully until everyone gets used to the change. I can do that though I don't love office politics.

Journaling. Didn't happen. My surgery interrupted my usual routine and totally killed any attempt to restart journaling. I was surprised that I didn't feel like writing more while recuperating. Mostly, I just wanted to watch tv - anything that didn't require thinking of staying awake too long. :)

Exercising. I didn't track my exercising in July at all. It was pointless. At the beginning of the month, the farthest I walked was from my bedroom to the living room once or twice a day. I slowly worked up to over a mile a day both in the morning and the evening with a much shorter walk in the afternoon, and I eventually managed to get close to my pre-surgery pace. I thought I'd start recording my exercise this month, but with starting my new job and being totally out of the habit, I will probably wait until September. I'm not worried about not exercising because I walk the dog in the morning and in the evening with Steve. Once I start classes, my evening walks will be affected (I have classes two evenings a week) but I'll try to start riding my bike in the evenings to make up for it.

Other. We had our annual cousins weekend in July. We met at Cassie's new home in Salt Lake and had a lot of fun. Kristi didn't feel too well most of the time, so we stayed pretty low-key, mostly staying at Cassie's but we did go out to dinner Friday and Saturday nights; Greek one night and Italian the other. For the first time in several times, we stayed up really late each night talking and laughing. Kristi made a delicious Oreo dessert and we ate it all three days, actually finishing it by the time we left Sunday afternoon. We missed Alyson a lot but it was wonderful to have Kristi there. At one point during the weekend, I had a mind-blowing, life changing ah-ha moment. It was crazy but much needed. Sorry, that's all I'm going to say about it.

Last weekend, Steve and I went down to Cedar for a quick trip. With the help of my mom and Corey, we painted the bedroom walls in my condo because one of the last tenants had put a ton of holes in the wall. It was a lot of work, but with the four of us we were able to finish in four hours - having painted two coats on the wall! Now, the walls look great and fresh. We also hired a friend to go in and clean the whole condo (it needed it!), so the in-coming tenants can start at a good point and I can expect them to leave the condo with it looking as good as it does now.

Summer To-Do List
Didn't accomplish as much as I thought I might while recuperating from my surgery (mostly writing and other nonphysical activities); Like I said, all I wanted to do was watch tv or even read. However, I did manage to accomplish a little.

Watch "Citizen Kane"
Organize my desk upstairs
Paint bedrooms in condo
Get new tenants for condo (filled only 2 of the 3 rooms)

Now that I have a full-time job, I'm considering my summer as over, at least as far as my summer to-do list is concerned. I'd still like to accomplish some of them, but I won't focus too much attention on them. All in all, I think I did a lot this summer, especially since I was recuperating from major surgery.

Well, that's my July. I can't say it wasn't a good month. It felt good to be able to relax and not feel guilty about not doing more. Of course, by the end of the month, I was doing housework, but just a little every day. I started to feel a little bored, so I'm glad to be working and having things to do again.

I hope you had a good July and that August is even better!

Friday, July 13, 2012

May/June Update

I realize it's mid-July, but I figure it's better late than never.

It's been a busy summer. It makes me wonder how I ever get anything done when I'm in school and working. Every day flies by. It's been nice, though, because I feel like I'm productive every day but still get lots of relaxation/lazy time.

School. It's been nice having a break from classes. The best thing is not having anything to do in the evenings when Steve is home. I also get to read whatever I want whenever I want. During the school year, I still manage to read a bit - mostly just a few minutes in bed before falling asleep. I registered for three classes for Fall. I was a little perturbed to find out that all the Masters classes are in the late afternoon/evening, but I guess it makes sense for those people who are working full-time while going to school. And, it turns out that it will benefit me, too. I still have over a month before school starts and I'm going to do my best to enjoy the rest of the summer.

Summer Trip. On June 5, we flew to Seattle and boarded a Carnival cruise ship (I can't remember the name right now) and headed to Alaska. It was a wonderful trip! You can read more about it here. We're already making plans for a great trip next summer.

Journaling. Haven't done it in months! The last time I wrote in it, I took it into the living room to write and it has stayed in that spot ever since. I really need to move it back to my bedroom. I'd like to get back to writing every night before bed. I hate when I go awhile without writing because I feel like I should recap what has happened since the last time (even if just the big stuff) but I really don't want to spend forever writing. Sigh. I just need to buck up and start again. I love writing in my journal and just need to get back into the writing rhythm.

Exercising. I did pretty well in May. I didn't miss a single day (I rarely do since I'm responsible for walking the dog at least once a day, usually more), and almost reached my 100 miles goal. In June, I gave up tracking my exercising, what with all that's been going on. I managed to do pretty well until my surgery - I even worked out almost every day while on our Alaskan cruise. However, once I had surgery, I felt good just being able to walk from my bedroom to the living room, and I needed the support of someone else to do that the first week. Last Thursday, I started walking the dog again. I can't go very far or very fast but it feels good to be able to get out and walk twice a day. I'm getting a little faster, too. At first, Sadie would be at the very end of the leash, not exactly pulling at it but definitely wanting to go faster. This isn't normal, usually she walks right by my side or close to it. In fact, for our mid-day walk, she usually walks far behind me because she hates the heat and drags big time. I'm hoping to get back to my regular walking routes in August.

May exercising totals: 2255 minutes (about 37.5 hours), 97 miles

Summer To-Do List. These are the things I accomplished in May and June:
Donate clothes I don't wear any more to thrift store
Get new copy of my birth certificate
Write one short story
Start advertising rooms for rent for condo
Register for classes (and let the VA know)
Blog about Alaskan cruise
Go to eye doctor
Refinish grandma's desk

I feel pretty good about my to-do list. I still have more I want to get done. We'll see how it goes this month (so far I've only done one thing on the list).

Other. It was wonderful having my mom stay with us for over a week the end of June. I find myself missing her while I watch tv. It was fun to chat with her while we watched. She was perfect company. I can't imagine what my household would have been like that first week or so after my surgery if she hadn't been here.

My birthday was in May. Steve totally spoiled me, like usual. I'm now 35 years old and am loving this age. It feels good - not too young but still pretty young.

I'm sure I'm missing so much, but that's what I get for doing such a belated update. :)

Hope everyone is having a great July!

Monday, July 09, 2012

Sleeping Troubles

I used to pride myself that I was an excellent sleeper. Yes, it took me awhile to fall asleep at night, but once I was out, I stayed out until morning. Little did I realize how precarious my sleeping rhythm truly was.

Sure, there were the odd sleeplessness occurrences. I distinctly remember three times when I suffered from insomnia. The first time was my first year of college, in my dorm room at the University of Utah. For over a week I couldn't stay asleep once I finally managed to fall asleep. I discussed it with my mom and she did a little research. She called me back awhile later with her findings. Sometimes if one does other things besides sleep in one's bed - like doing homework, reading, watching tv - then your body fails to treat your bed like a place to sleep. I started doing less on my bed (which had been doubling as my couch, especially since it was smack dab in front of my roommate's tv) and soon I started sleeping like myself.

The other two times occurred much later and were only separated from each other by one year. Both times shared something, I was stressed and didn't realize it. Stressed about a decision or more precisely, the direction my life was taking. Both lasted about two weeks and didn't end until I realized the cause and started to do something about it, even just to acknowledge the stress that I hadn't felt but my body had.

These three times were nothing compared to the eye-opening experience of sharing a bed with a man. I swear I didn't sleep well for months! Every time he turned over, I woke up. If he got up to use the bathroom, I was awake by the time he got back into bed. The man thought I was a vampire who never slept because he never saw me asleep. It was at this time that I realized that I wasn't a naturally gifted sleeper, I had just been lucky enough to have the right sleeping conditions for myself for a long time.

Steve taught me the meaning of a true sleep genius. The first time we shared a bed, after we said good-night the guy was asleep in 5 seconds flat. And not just a light slumber. I was able to get out of bed, grab a snack in the kitchen, eat it in bed, and read a little without him so much as change his breathing. I was impressed.

Nope, I am a light sleeper. I mean this in two ways, actually. First of all, I don't sleep soundly at all. Like I said, any movement would wake me up. Same goes for any sound above that of a distant train horn and any light brighter than a dim night light. Steve bought a new alarm clock just for me since at first I didn't have a night stand on my side of the room and was always asking him the time. This new alarm clock could project the time on a wall or even the ceiling. It was pretty handy. And pretty bright. I couldn't sleep with it on, so it had to go.

However, I need light in order to sleep. Looking back on my life, I realize that most of the time, there's always been some outside light source that gently lit up my bedroom (a street lamp, lights from a nearby business, etc.). Steve, having to sometimes work nights and so sleep during the day, likes to have heavy curtains that make the bedroom feel like it's permanently midnight on a starless, moonless night. Turns out, I get night terrors. I'm 35 years old and I get night terrors. If a room doesn't have a teeny bit of light in it, I wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat terrified out of my mind over something or other. So, we bought a night light for our bedroom. I'm 35 years old and I have to sleep with a night light. Hence, the other way I'm a light sleeper. On our cruise, the first two nights, I woke up so afraid that I started moving what little furniture existed out of my way so I could get out of the room. We finally started leaving a table lamp on and covering it with multiple towels and jackets (because it couldn't be too bright).

Lately, I can't sleep through the night. I'm finally (after over a year of marriage) getting used to sharing a bed. We have the right amount of light and the temperature is perfect (I decided this post was getting too long to go into my temperature requirements and figure they're pretty standard - not too hot, not too cold). I don't feel overly stressed about what's going on in my life; in fact, I'm quite pleased with my life and some of the changes that have been happening and that are about to happen. However, I can't sleep past 3am without waking up. At first, I had to wake up then to take my next dose of pain killers after my surgery. Now, I wake up having to pee like a race horse. I used to be able to sleep through the night without using the facilities. The worst part is that once I get back in bed, I can't go back to sleep. I know that a huge part of that is the inability to get comfortable. I have to sleep on my back with my head and knees propped up with pillows. If I try to shift to my side, within minutes my stomach muscles throb then become really painful. I'm not used to sleeping on my back nor sleeping without changing positions. And I'm sore. Usually not in pain, thankfully, but almost constantly sore. Tight may be a better description. Like my stomach muscles and skin are being continually stretched. It makes sense, given the procedure of the surgery, but it can wear on me sometimes - usually at 3am.

Fortunately, I know that like the times in the past where a good night's sleep has eluded me, this time will pass. Someday, I'll sleep again. If nothing else, I've learned that I may not be a naturally gifted sleeper genius like Steve, but I do learn how to find my way to sleep eventually.

Thank Heavens!

Friday, July 06, 2012

Surgery and Recovery

Two weeks ago, I underwent a tummy tuck. It was a choice I made with the help of my loving husband who totally accepted my body the way it was...and who understood that the biggest handicap for me to being able to do the same was my tummy.

Three weeks before the surgery, Steve and I went to a pre-op appointment where I learned just how different recovery from a tummy tuck is compared to lap band recovery. I learned about drains, binders, narcotics, compression stockings, and not being able to be upright for up to 10 days. I called Mom, who had agreed to care for me for the week following the surgery, and informed her that it was going to be a bit more of a challenge this go-around. She decided, most graciously and generously, to stay 10 days instead of 7, and we all mentally tried to prepare.

I didn't really start to worry about the actual surgery until the week before. During this time, I learned that not only had my uncle been diagnosed with cancer but that my sister-in-law's mother had terminal cancer and my stepsister has lymph node cancer. Mortality started to appear a lot more fleeting. Then I had dreams involving my deceased grandmothers. In one, I introduced Steve to my dad's mom, who passed away several years ago. She approved of him, by the way, which doesn't surprise me at all. I didn't really believe I was going to die, but I was a lot more aware that death is always on the table when you are too.

My surgery was the first one of the day, so Steve and I arrived at 6am. I like having early morning surgeries; best to get it done with and on to recovery. I think the person being operated on is kind of lucky - they miss all the wait time. One moment they're cracking jokes to the nurses and the next they're waking up. My first thought when I woke up: Thank you, God, for letting me wake up in the doctor's recovery room and not on your doorstep. The recovery nurse commented later that she'd been surprised that I woke up so quickly and that I was so chatty after having gone through major surgery. I told her that I'd been told the same thing after my lap band surgery. I guess anesthesia has that affect on me. And, I have a natural affinity for loquaciousness.

I won't go into the details of the surgery here - if you want them, feel free to call or email me and I can relate to you all that the doctor did. Basically, 6 lbs 2 oz of skin and fat were removed from my body. My bariatric surgeon had said that it would be 10-15 lbs but my plastic surgeon said that's a common misconception and usually only 2-3 lbs are removed. So, I really did have a lot of excess material down there! Steve said my surgeon sounded pretty excited about the weight that had been removed. I guess I am, too, but as I told him, I didn't do it to lose weight but to gain a figure.

Once I was awake and a little more coherent (and had told the recovery nurse most of my life story, I guess), she brought Steve in to see me. A very, very short time later, I was in a wheelchair being wheeled to the car and sent home to recover. It seemed a little strange to be going home so quickly, but frankly I was relieved to be able to go home instead of being made to wait any longer.  I longed to be tucked into my own bed. I'm sure the ride home was painful because I remember being in pain the first two days, despite pretty heavy narcotics and muscle relaxers, but the ride is a little drug-induced hazy. The drugs took the edge off of the pain, for which I was very grateful. Surprisingly, they didn't put me to sleep like everyone thought they would, so I was pretty alert most of the day after getting home. Steve ended up having to take care of me and my needs more than either of us thought he would have to that first day, thinking I'd sleep the whole day.

The next day, Saturday, my mom came. I love my husband and he is a wonderful nurse, but my heart leapt for joy when I heard the sound of my mom's voice. She had proved to be a wonderful caregiver when she helped me recover from my lap band surgery, and there's no one like one's mother. She was a blessing the whole 11 days she stayed with us, especially since this recovery was a lot more difficult than my previous surgery and my life has more to it now - a dog, a garden, a home, and a husband that all needed to be cared for in different ways.

Although I was in constant pain those first couple days, it was a dull pain that I could live with. I ate light but fairly normally; soup, oatmeal, crackers, popsicles, pudding. On the third day, I started moving around more and spent a few hours sitting in the living room when my brother came to visit. I'm guessing this extra movement must have caused some extra swelling because suddenly I couldn't get anything to go past my lap band, not even water. It would go down, sit in my pouch, then come back up an hour or so later. This went on for a few days and didn't let up, even when I stopped moving around as much to try to reduce whatever swelling had occurred. We finally started contacting local bariatric doctors to try to get in to have the saline in my band removed so it would loosen and allow food and water to get to my stomach. No one would get me in despite it being somewhat of an emergency. I wasn't in good health by Wednesday, physically and mentally I was depleted and desperate. Mom and I started contemplating driving to my bariatric surgeon in St. George to get my band loosened and called their office to discuss it. Fortunately, my surgeon told his staff about three hospitals in Salt Lake who can perform the task needed. I called the first one and was told to come in whenever. I asked if someone would be there who could do it and he said that if there wasn't they would just call the bariatric clinic across the street and steal one of their doctors. Hmmm. I asked the name of the clinic - it was one who couldn't fit me in to their schedule. I called that clinic back and told them that if they didn't get me in the next day, I'd go to the emergency room and they'd end up having to send over one of their doctors anyway. I got an appointment for 4:00pm.

With my band loosened, recovery took off! I had the doctor remove most of the saline but I'm only able to eat the amounts I could before my tummy tuck, so I know there's still swelling going on in there. It's good because I'm getting the water and nutrients I need to be healthy but still get the aid of the lap band to prevent over-eating.

We knew the first week would be the hardest and it was, even without my band complication to deal with. I was on a drug regime where I'd take a pain narcotic then three hours later a muscle relaxer followed by a pain narcotic three hours later - you get the pattern. I discovered that lortab makes me kind of goofy when it kicks it, not sleepy. We also had to deal with my drainage tubes and the grenade-looking bulbs that collected the blood/drainage. They had to be drained and the amount measured every 6 hours. Once the drainage got to a certain point, the tubes would be removed, which didn't happen until day 11. My mom woke up at midnight, 3am, and 6am for several days to give me my pills and to drain my tubes and to allow Steve to sleep since he had to go to work. Again, mom's presence was such a blessing!!!

I got the tubes removed this week on Tuesday, day 11. They were just barely below the required amount and I'd been praying with all my heart they'd get below it by this doctor's appointment so I could get them removed. I didn't think to ask and no one told me what getting the tubes removed would feel like. After the first one came out, the nurse said most people say it feels like a pinch and a burn. My second one kind of felt like that but a little worse. The first tube, however, felt like someone had stuck a hot poker inside me then removed it somewhat quickly, burning me all the way out. I've never felt such raw, unhindered pain before in my life. It seriously made me rethink getting the second tube removed. Now that they're out, though, I'm so relieved. I can wear normal clothing (though I don't most of the time since I'm just hanging at home with the dog) and I'm not toting around those awful plastic grenades.

I am, however, stuck with a stomach binder for the next few weeks (six weeks minimum post surgery). You see, not only did the surgeon remove a bunch of fat and skin, but he also repaired my stomach muscles. That repair work is very sensitive and the binder gives it the support needed to make sure there aren't any complications. It also helps the skin form to my new sleeker shape. At first, I hated it because it's uncomfortable, but the first night we washed it and I didn't have it on, I could really tell the difference it makes to wear it. Movements hurt a lot more without it. I now have a couple Spanx-like products that fit better under clothes but that offer the same support. They're incredibly difficult to get on though, so I only wear them when going out in regular clothes; otherwise, I'm in the white binder the doctor gave me.

Each day is better than the next and I'm finally feeling like a person again. I constantly feel my stomach area. I take pain relievers still but a lot less frequently, so it isn't pain I feel but more of a tightness. The sores from my tube area are finally scabbing over and are a little itchy, as is the sensitive area down there that had to be shaved as part of the surgery. I move slowly and a little like Frankenstein's monster, but I know it will get easier and easier. I can even take Sadie for short walks without my cane AND can shower without using the shower chair Steve bought when our lawn patio footstool collapsed under me the first time we used it (causing me a good deal of pain).

My body isn't perfect. It never will be. I still have flabby thighs, pooches above my bum, flabby arms, and breasts that sag without the aid of a good bra. I can live with all of those things. The thing that made me feel like I still weighed 350 lbs, my stomach, is gone. I finally feel like I look normal, like I should. I finally feel like I look like me. Yesterday was the first day I truly felt it. My sister-in-law and nephew came for a visit so I actually got dressed and put on make up. Then today I had a job interview and wore a pair of slacks and a shirt that I would never have worn together because the shirt didn't cover my whole stomach area. I almost cried when I saw how normal I looked. I don't need to be the skinniest person or have the perfect body, I've just wanted to feel normal, and today I felt it. It felt amazing!

So, I took pictures. Here's the before - this is me before my lap band surgery.

This is me today.

I should point out that I took these pictures just barely, not this morning, and I'm wearing the bulky white binder instead of the sleeker Spanx-like thing I wore this morning.

Here are some pictures of the white bulky binder.

Doctor told me that it takes up to 6 whole months before the full results show up (swelling and such), but I must say that I'm thrilled with the results so far! The next few weeks will be much better than the previous two and I'll slowly be able to get back into my normal exercise and life routines.

Has it been hard. Yes. Has it been worth it? Yes. Very much so.