Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Divulging my details……

I decided it was time to take my readers on a journey.  The journey of who it is to be me and some of the oddities I come with. Arnold Chiari Malformation has colored my life since I was born, I just didn’t know it had a name until I received my diagnosis when I was 36.
I have no idea what it’s like to close my eyes and see nothing or darkness.  I have patterns of light that play on my closed eyelids.  This can make sleeping or daydreaming pretty challenging!! Image closing your eyes and seeing this pattern over and over and over again.ClosedEyes
I dyed my hair pink prior to neurosurgery much to my mother’s dismay.  I figured I would celebrate it before the surgeon shaved it off.  My neurosurgeon was quite surprised by it the morning of my surgery.
 100_0212 100_0214
My greatest coping tool is my PSP (Playstation Portable); but not for the games.  I love the multimedia capabilities of it. I can watch movies, videos, listen to music, store photos, and surf the net. Yes, it’s the Hannah Montana version!!! Yes, I do realize I’m 40 not 14! 102_4195
The weirdest place I have ever have been given an injection for pain was at the Lady Gaga concert. No, it wasn’t in the bathroom, it was in my seat just prior to the concert. I didn’t want to miss Lady Gaga’s entrance!!  Considering what some people were wearing, showing the top of my buttocks was no big deal. DSCN3430
zipperheadI am known as a zipperhead. The scar on the back of my head resembles a zipper; therefore, post decompression Chiarians are called zipperheads.  I am considering getting a tattoo of a zipper around my scar.  This is not a photo of my scar but it is just like mine.  I know that zipperhead is also a derogatory term; but, Chiarians view our zipperhead scars as a badge of honor.

Even though I complain ALOT about the fact that plenty of doctors have no idea what Arnold Chiari malformation, I secretly like having to explain it.  It makes me feel smarter than doctors.  I like using the medical words when describing my symptoms.  Medwords

duckThe stupidest thing I have ever heard a doctor say. “You didn’t need to have neurosurgery.” This was two years after my surgery and he did not have any of my records (including my MRIs) from before my surgery.  So he had no way of knowing how clogged my spinal canal was. QUACK!!
MyRibbonOne of my greatest possessions is a picture that a friend colored for me.  I am still irked that people don’t understand what Chiari is.  It’s not like I wear a ribbon and people would know what I have. Anyone that sees a pink ribbon instantly thinks Breast Cancer.  My friend, Terry, made me my very own ribbon.  She chose the colors and wrote me a long letter about what each of the colors means. 

Due to the confusion and brain fog, I’ve done some pretty silly things.  Like put the cereal in the fridge and the milk in the cabinet.  Or I will use incorrect words, like lunch instead of love.  One of the silliest of these was when I spit on the bathroom floor instead of in the sink after brushing my teeth. I stood there looking at the mess on the floor and wondered why on Earth I’d just done that.
So the next time you are having a really rough day, just remember that we all have challenges, they just come in different flavors and colors.

Sending Thank Yous across the miles…

So when I arrived back to Colorado there was a box waiting on me.  The box wasn’t very big, but in it were the perfect treasures! Terry is always such a great gift picker!!!! Even Ma commented that Terry had chosen just the right gifts for me! 102_4191
Pooh is soooooo cute!! He and Piglet are baking cookies!!!  It is so adorable it moves, plays music and produces a wonderful smell! It is BEYOND adorable!
Plus a small Vera Bradley case that matches my others!! And a sparkly pen!!!! What more could this girl want?!?!? Terry also sent me a new family photo.
Terry, I love you and miss you sooooo much. I can’t wait to get to San Antonio for a visit! THANK YOU great big bunches! You really do pick great gifts, but the gift of you friendship is truly priceless as it’s one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever received. Thanks for being my friend.

Racking up the miles……..

You will notice I’ve changed my blog and my blog title. I think it’s more fitting of what is currently going on with my life right now. To date the mileage tally is over 5500 miles.  Including today’s 650 miles and 4 states Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and Colorado.  CO0125
As I am driving through rural Oklahoma and Texas the memories of my childhood came flooding back to me.   My grandparents had a farm in Seiling, Oklahoma which a cow, pigs, and chickens. 
Passing all the grain elevators and silos (the one below stands in the middle of town) made me nostalgic for days gone by. 
It was a great reminder of rural America and what it means to own and work the land.  It’s a great testament to the hard working spirit of some of our greatest citizens.
In western Oklahoma and the panhandle of Texas there is miles and miles of open country.  I felt so alone, yet so free.  There were long stretches where I saw no other cars or people.  Just land and sky. 
Feeling so small in such a big world.  But I felt so connected, like I belonged.  That even for just this year the road, the entire country is my home.  
The miles of flat stretches of land began to ripple and roll on the horizon dawns beautiful snow crested mountains.  As my car climbed the hills and hugged the curves, I realized again  what an amazing place I get the pleasure of living in.
As the sun began to set over those snow capped peaks I felt like I was racing to beat it home before it stole the last slivers of light and the moon graced my path. 
Even though I miss my husband terribly, my life is as rich and full as the land that passes under my tires as I roam like a gypsy.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Celebrating Mom…………

Today is my Mom’s birthday! My Mom was raised in the sticks and oil slough’s of south central Arkansas.  Smackover is a small oil boom town that still boasts only 1 stoplight which stands in the middle of the   intersection.  Unfortunately, my Mom experienced a devastating fire her Senior year in high school and lost most of the photos of her as a child.   Right after high school my Mom married my Dad, even though they had only known each other for about six months.  Dad was in the U.S. Air Force when they married and Mom immediately moved from Arkansas to Wichita Falls, Texas.
Nine months after marrying Dad along came my sister.  Four years later along came me!! Now this has been the biggest challenge, er, I should say I am the biggest challenge of my Mom’s life.
As you can see by this picture, I was quite a handful when things weren’t going my way.  And they didn’t go my way frequently! 

My Mom and her Dad looking on in the background.  
My Mom was raised to be a quiet southern lady who never causes a ruckus.  But when she received her diagnosis of Breast Cancer I saw a side of her that I never knew existed.  I saw a fighting spirit in her that showed the world that she was completely capable of beating this nasty disease.   Just as she was finishing her chemo treatments she discovered she had to have open heart surgery, twice!!!
I saw my Mom transform from this quiet woman to this pillar of strength. It is because of my Mom that I am as comfortable as I am with my own illness.  She truly set the example of how to live gracefully with a sickness you can’t control. 
My Mom is an avid fisherWOman!! She can even outfish my father on most occaisions!!!
My Mom also loves watching wildlife.  Their backyard is a testament to her love of squirrels, birds and rabbits.  They both enjoy hours on their back porch watching nature.
I know that my Mom’s greatest blessing is her family (not sure if I qualify as a blessing but that’s my own fault!!! :) I am certain that her three grandkids and her lil great-granddaughter are the greatest joy in her life. 

Happy Happy Birthday Mom!! I love you great big bunches. Thank you so much for being my Mom and such a great example for me.  I truly appreciate all that you’ve done for me and all the family!!!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Casing the pillow?……….

Since I have so many problems sleeping I travel with my own pillow.  We even recently bought me a new pillow so that I would have a fresh, fluffy new one.  But we had only bought a plain white pillow case for it. This quickly became a problem!! I almost left it in a hotel room twice and then the inevitable happened…..I actually left it in a hotel room.  It was easy to do since it had a white pillowcase like the other hotel pillows.  So I bought a new pillow again and since then I have been on the prowl for a new pillowcase. I was hoping to find a brightly colored one so that it would be easily seen.  Well, this search has been fruitless.  So yesterday when Mom and I went to Joann’s I found the most adorable fabric and I made two very bright cases for my new pillow. 
I have a great pattern for making pillow cases.  It’s super easy and really quick.  As long as you can sew in a straight line you can make this pillow case.  It makes a great gift for kids and teens!  One year for Christmas I made pillow cases and matching pjs for my nieces.
Standard pillowcase: 26” (3/4 yd) x 42” (width of fabric).
King pillowcase: 36” (1 yd) x 42”
Plus 9” (1/4 yd) x 42”
After cutting fabric, roll up the larger of the two fabrics leaving an 1”-2” for sewing. I like to pin each edge (edges only!) to hold the roll in place.
Place the roll on the right side of the coordinating fabric, lining up the cut edges.
Roll the coordinating fabric around the roll and line up all three edges. Think about the roll being a wiener and the coordinating fabric being the bun.  Pin to hold together, if desired. 
Sew down the length of the fabric.  Remove pins from each edge of the roll.   Turn the entire thing inside out…or rather right side out.

Sew the side and the bottom closed and PRESTO pillowcase done! I prefer using a french seam so that there are no raw edges.
I don’t think I am in any danger of either of these pillowcases being accidently left on a hotel bed because they blend in with the white pillow!!! It took about 30 minutes to make both pillowcases. They are also cheerful which is appreciated since I have so few creature comforts of my own home.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Sunning and Smiling about Oklahoma…

I am very, very, very proud to announce that I am officially a member of www.BlogOklahoma.com.  As of right now, I am the newest member and I couldn’t be more excited or proud.  My regular blog readers will notice the new Blog Oklahoma logo on my sidebar at the right.  Blog Oklahoma began July 25, 2003 as great place to celebrate bloggers from Oklahoma.  It has grown into an amazing web ring of blogs of every possible subject about Oklahoma or Oklahomans.  If one wants to know what’s truly in the hearts and on the minds of Oklahomans Blog Oklahoma is one terrific resource.  Thank you Blog Oklahoma, I am very pleased to be a part of such a great site.
The sun was out today; it was beautiful and warm.  Mom and I took a nice drive to the northside to go to Joann’s Fabrics.  We ran into a traffic due to construction and sat on the interstate for a few minutes and I grabbed the only camera handy…..my cell phone.
I realize that these photos are far from professional but they are a very accurate depiction of what Bricktown and downtown Oklahoma City look like from the interstate.  As you can see it was a crystal clear day at the end of January when running around in our shirt sleeves was very comfortable.  It gave me a great reminder of just how amazing Oklahoma is.
As we sat there overlooking Bricktown, I realized what a truly amazing place Oklahoma City has grown up to be.  Bricktown is an amazing place to just go hang out, wander around in and out of shops, plenty of great places to eat, the canal, the theater and so on. I absolutely ADORE Bricktown. I remember as a child when Bricktown was a series of abandoned warehouses and the only business I truly remember is Piggy’s BBQ and the two dollar bills they always gave as change.  Today, Bricktown is alive and thriving!
I have realized all the little gems I miss about being in Oklahoma.  The restaurants!!! Oklahomans are blessed with a plethora of choices when it comes to dining out and there are so many local businesses and chains that are unbelievably AMAZING!  The lakes, the wildlife, the nature, the beauty.  There are so many reasons that Oklahoma is an amazingly beautiful state.   If you need a great reminder a short pictorial tour can be found HERE on youtube.  The people here are truly wonderful.  I could go on and on and on.  I’ve met a lot of people that wonder why I would miss living in Oklahoma.  I wish they could see it through my eyes. They would completely understand. 

Monday, January 18, 2010

Celebrating Champions……


First I need to explain that we went with several members of the cheer squad to Billy Bob’s for some food and fun.  The girls had a blast.  Billy Bob’s is located in Ft Worth’s historic Stockyard Station.   They still actually drive a herd of cattle down the main street of Stockyard Station daily.  You can find some really interesting shops lining the train tracks where the cattle were loaded for transport.


Katie even got to ride a horse!!! Ok, so it wasn’t a real one and we didn’t even give her a quarter for fear that she’d be thrown and left unable to compete with her cheer squad.


After BBQ the girls enjoyed some  time on the dance floor.  Now most of them were attempting to do a two-step; but I can honestly say, that I have never seen most of these particular brand of variations!!!  Katie and Kylie giving each other a quick spin.


Katie and Dara doing their version of the two-step. 


Mary’s boyfriend tried to teach Kaitlyn to do a proper two-step; but my sweet Katie has no natural rhythm.


Sisters, Katie and Kylie with my niece Katie all enjoyed several rounds on the dance floor together.


I tried to teach Katie the Electric Slide but I am not sure she ever really got it.  We also danced the Charlie Brown, which is line dancing with instructions, and she still seemed like a fish out of water.  Sadly, I can report that there was no Cotton-Eyed Joe!!! UGH!!! But I can say that dancing with my niece was definitely one of the highlights of this trip, even if she does have two left feet.  Kaitlyn, I know I’ve been teasing you in my blog; but I love you dearly and I am so glad I got to experience this weekend with you.



I am very, very, very pleased to report that the Raiders took home the first place trophy and brand new champion jackets. 
Way to go RAIDERS!!!!! 


Saturday, January 16, 2010

Enjoying Texas……….

102_3840Tomorrow my niece Kaitlyn has a cheer competition in Ft Worth.  So today, my sister Tammy, Kaitlyn and I drove to Ft Worth.  On the drive down Kaitlyn entertained herself playing The Sims 3 on my computer while my sister and I enjoyed some great music from the past, like Chicago, Dan Fogelberg, etc. Our singing along with the music amused Katie so much she had to turn on her ipod to escape it!

My Dad informed us that it was going to rain all the way down to Ft Worth and even though it was cloudy we did have several stretches with no rain.  Sorry Dad, I love you but you were just WRONG!!!

After checking into our hotel, we had the evening free so we went over to Grapevine Mills Mall. One of my favorite spots in the Dallas/Ft Worth area.


We had dinner at the Rainforest Cafe.  This is something that everyone should have the pleasure of experiencing at least once in their life.  Every few minutes there is thunder and lightening and all the animals make their animal noises.  The elephants lift their trunks, the monkeys swing from the ceiling.  It’s all very entertaining and the food is pretty good too.   In addition to all the animals around the restaurant that put on a show it seems that we had a baboon at our table that gave us a pretty good show.

102_3871At this moment I am quite thankful that my sweet Kaitlyn does not read my blog…..because I am certain I would get a very loud “AUNT NAY!!!!” from her. So I will fail to tell her about this. And if you do, I will hunt you down and …… I don’t know what…I’ll have to figure that out.  But as you can clearly see we never lack for entertainment when Katie is around.  We don’t need to watch comedies or go to the movies.  We just need to wind Katie up and let her go.  Laughter will surely follow!!!!


My own personal princess! Katie feels she is quite deserving of a real tiara. We don't have the heart to tell her that she isn't a real princess and will never have the opportunity to rule a country or marry a prince.  But she looks cute in the tiara.

102_3880For a little girl with a big personality, I find it rather amusing that she is frightened of oversized stuffed animals.  Katie is loud, boisterous, funny, amazing, crazy and quirky. But she is completely creeped out by people wearing animal (anime or real) costumes. She only stood by Sonic for a few seconds in order for us to snap this picture. Then she ran.

Katie, I am blessed to be your aunt and I am blessed to be able to spend such precious time with you!