Friday, August 29, 2014

ALS Challenge

Happy Friday, everyone!! In honor of raising awareness for various causes, I thought I would post my video for the ALS ice bucket challenge. First of all, though, I had some issues with the overall challenge. In some places in this country, we are in a drought, so it didn't always make sense to me why this was the challenge at hand. Since starting the challenge across the facebook world, however, billions of people have learned what ALS is: a horrible disease that deserves awareness and needs as many people donating to support continuous research. It is also called Lou Gehrigs disease due to the famous baseball player being striken with it at the highlight of his career and dying from it at a young age. ALS stands for Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and it is a neurodegenerative disorder that attacks the brain and spinal cord. The motor neurons degenerate, and they are no longer able to send signals to the muscle fibers resulting in lack of movement, and eventually, paralysis of the total body. It is a terrible, degenerating disease that deserves all the attention it could possibly get. SO, we decided to do the ice bucket challenge after all, just using an alpine waterfall instead (because we were still concerned about the drought on the west coast resulting in wild fires). 

My Video!


video


My husband's proof that he actually did it (since I failed with taking the video):



It is also sad to see so much money go to the CEO's of such corporations, such as the ALS Foundation, instead of towards research. I am fully aware that there are other costs behind operating such a huge foundation, and not every penny can go to research. But, can't we all agree that these CEO's do not need such a big salary when we are struggling to keep research ongoing? As a researcher myself, I can tell you there is not enough money in the world being focused on all that needs to be investigated in the medical world (not to mention so many other specialties). It is nice to see figures like this, though, concerning the ALS Challenge (read article below):


Forbes Account of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge


I would love to see more attention geared towards other horrible conditions, as well. Four very close to my heart are testicular cancer, multiple sclerosis, lupus, and syringomyelia. You can read about them in the following links:


Testicular Cancer


Multiple Sclerosis


Lupus 


Syringomyelia


Let's raise more awareness for these and other disorders, diseases, and illnesses! :)


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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Day That Changed My Life, Part 2

And the story gets even longer… sorry to have such a ridiculously long post (didn’t realize how long it would take to explain), but I hope I convey the entire story in a way that’s easy to understand (and hopefully not too boring). I am OVERWHELMED by the support I have received in the last 24+ hours after posting the first part of the story. I can’t thank you all enough for reading and commenting, and your comments truly made my day. In fact, they made me cry reading them first thing this morning. I am so appreciative to have you all in my life!

With all of the tension in my neck and shoulder (due to the fibrotic muscles, not just regular stress tension), I was having so many tension headaches that would radiate to my forehead and turn into migraines. As far as my doctors knew, there was a distinction between the two: headache or migraine. However, at that time, and still currently, I believe, they were doing research on how tension headaches and other headaches can escalate into migraines, still with the traditional symptoms like I experienced: an “aura;” nausea; vomiting; sensitivity to light, sound, heat; etc. I was even able to take a class on it during school at MSU. That’s exactly how it was for me. They would start as just a headache in the back of my head (but eventually, that headache was constantly there) and become a full-blown migraine quite often. Anyway, these migraines would rule my life just as much or more than the pain did. I had always had the tension headaches (at least since the injury), but I hadn’t ever had a problem with migraines, though obviously my system was susceptible to them. I couldn’t handle it. It kept me from ever reading books for fun, from doing school work, watching TV. I spent so many days in my room with the lights off, an ice pack on my forehead, heat pack under my head (back of my neck), and a towel covering my eyes from any light that got through. No sound, no talking, and if I was up and around, I was a grumpy person. Trust me. My family and people close to me could account that those were the times I was not pleasant to be around (though I know I still have my days.. :)).

I ended up in the ER several times with those migraines, and of course, with the pain sometimes, too. They would always give me pain medication, and if you’ve studied what pain medication does, it can make migraines even worse through restricted blood flow. Sometimes they were so quick to hand out those when what I really needed was something to just make the pain in my head go away, but understandably, they thought that the less pain in my neck and back, the more the migraine would lessen. Makes sense, right? Except, by that time, I was dealing with two separate issues that had just stemmed from the same original cause. Of course, there were other times when the ER physicians thought I was pain-drug seeking. I would always be offended, but I understood where they were coming from because there are so many that would jump from ER to ER just looking for pain medication handouts. I just was not one of them. The last thing I wanted was to be on pain medicine. I didn’t have a choice if I stood a chance of even making it to doctors’ appointments or even getting up in the morning. Or sleeping a wink at night. It was the only thing helping even a bit, aside from PT exercises and massage.

One of the ER visits ended up landing me in the hospital. My pain management physician decided that he was going to try a few different medications to ease the migraine, but it was going to be over several days through infusion treatments. It helped, but it caused such extreme nausea that they decided to call it an allergy because I couldn’t handle anything in my stomach due to the medicine. It didn’t take long, and I ended up back in the hospital with another migraine. This time, he tried a drug that is known as an anti-seizure medication to see if the principle behind the medicine would help for my migraine. We were going to try anything at this point. All I remember from that visit is starting the infusion, and the next thing I knew, I woke up to find my mom at my bedside halfway sleeping, and when I woke her up fully, she started bawling. My dad was in the bed on the other side. I didn’t know what had happened until my mom told me I had been unconscious for three days, in a medical hepatic coma. Apparently, the last medication that they had tried had caused my liver enzymes to escalate into an acute liver failure state, and I hadn’t been conscious since they had given me the second dose of it. I apparently even talked and joked to my physician and mom as I was going into the coma, but I didn’t remember any of it. I still don’t. I was slowly leaving any awakened state.

Thank God that experience turned out ok. My liver enzymes bounced back to a normal range, but it was as if I had a stroke. The right side of my body and some of the left was incredibly weak. I had to do physical therapy for a few days in the hospital to relearn how to walk, eat, etc., but it didn’t take long to build it back up thankfully.

Unfortunately, as soon as we were able to get out of the hospital and back home (where we were met with a “Welcome Back” sign and outpourings of love and support from amazing friends and people in the community), I started having more weird symptoms. My legs and arms were constantly shaking and twitching. I couldn’t sit still. I had goosebumps over my entire body, but I didn’t feel cold. I was constantly sweating. I had an irregular heartbeat. I remember crying when my mom said we had to go back to the hospital and pleading with her to stay. I couldn’t stand the thought of being admitted again and facing a potentially life-threatening condition like I had before. I thought I could handle the symptoms more than the thought of dying in that hospital room. But, as soon as I was admitted, we learned that I had a potentially life-threatening condition called Serotonin Syndrome that was caused by the combination of drugs together interacting causing too much serotonin in the body. Several of the medications that I had been given in the hospital from migraine treatments and anti-seizure medications to nausea medicines had interacted to cause this horrible thing, and if my family hadn’t have taken me back to the hospital, I could have died. Those two or three weeks were some of the scariest weeks of my life.

Things started getting back to normal, and we just kept on looking for more answers. I couldn’t learn to drive at the normal age because of the medications I was on and the risk of an intense muscle spasm causing me to go off the road. But, after time, my physicians knew it was important for me to learn to drive, so I could take myself to physical therapy or school, and they helped me with a plan of what medications I could omit or take less of if I was having a better day. I finally got my license at the age of 18. I didn’t drive much, but it was a huge step for me to be able to have some freedom. All my friends had been driving for two years already, and though they were able to drive me around if we went out, I couldn’t go out with them much either, and I wasn’t at school full time, so this was my way to be able to be a little independent and be away from home for an hour or two. It was just for appointments, but it was something.

After a few more surgeries (and countless MRIs, CTs, X-rays, myelograms, lumbar punctures, injections, steroids, medicines, you name it, I’ve had it kinda thing), I finally had enough. It was nearing the middle of my senior year, and things hadn’t changed in respect to my overall condition. In fact, I had scarier experiences trying to fix the main issue, and all of the surgeries were life-risking. I was pretty adamant that I didn’t want any more treatment or to see any other physicians. I had tried seeing a chiropractor, acupuncture, hypnosis, relaxation techniques, talking with a pain psychologist, surgery, support groups, massage, physical therapy, occupational therapy, trigger point injections, botox injections, epidural injections, TENS unit, and on and on. In my opinion, I had tried everything. And I was also adamant that I was going to college away. So I interviewed for scholarships and I attended open-houses, and I applied for pre-admit medical school programs. I had done well enough in high school, even through everything, that I could still get into where I wanted to go. It was scary for my parents, I’m sure, to think about me going off to college, but I knew it was what I needed to do.

I graduated with the rest of my class at West Plains High School, Class of 2006. That accomplishment may not mean that much to some people, but to me, it meant the world. I didn’t ever know if I would make it to that point. I left to start college at Rockhurst University the following August. I LOVED it there. I met some of the best friends I could ever dream to have. I started getting involved, and right away, I was doing very well in my classes. But it was so hard. I would cry myself to sleep at night knowing that there were some days I couldn’t get out of bed and wondering if the next day would be one of them. Or wondering if I was going to be able to do ok on a test since I may have a muscle spasm in the middle that escalated the pain. It just wasn’t working. If I hadn’t been so stubborn, I would have waited a while before going off to college. But I was indeed stubborn, and that caused me to have to leave half-way through the semester, a semester I was doing well in, but I just couldn’t handle the pain.

I came home and went back to living with my parents for a few months. I started helping out at the elementary school that I had gone to, and I loved it. I couldn’t do much, but it helped me get out. I took a couple online classes from Mizzou, and at least those helped me feel like I was making some progress. And I kept in touch with friends, which was amazing. But it made me determined to go back the next semester.

I had started seeing a new pain management physician in Kansas City since I was going to school there, and he suggested trying to implant a neurostimulator that works to send electrical signals to the brain and intercept the pain signals that you would normally feel. You do a trial first to see if it is something that will work for you. I tried a spinal cord neurostimulator first, but it did not help the pain. The peripheral neurostimulator, however, was incredible. I immediately felt relief from my migraines and tension headaches. They tried it for my arm and neck pain, as well, but unfortunately, that wasn’t beneficial. The lessened pain from the migraines, though, made it extremely worthwhile, and I felt as if I could finally go back to school again.

I enjoyed college. I had some definite hard times with taking exams and keeping up with classwork because I was still dealing with pain, but I consider myself very blessed to have had the chance to go and complete so much of my degree at Rockhurst. I met amazing people, and I had the chance to be away from home, to learn more about myself and be out on my own, which means the world to me. During my sophomore year, I had yet another surgery, but it seemed to help the arm numbness and weakness some. It was a long thoracic nerve decompression, and though it meant again having to start back at square one with strength, after time, I felt like the neuropathic pain improved a bit. And I was grateful for any improvement.


With my doctor before my surgery sophomore year of college. My best friend took photos of me looking like an alien.
During my junior year of college at RU, I was prescribed a medication similar to one I was given during my time in high school when I was in the hospital. I was doing okay, but it’s always been hard for me to deal with the fact that I am limited in how much I can do before I reach a point of too much pain and can’t catch back up to a normal life. So, my physician prescribed me an anti-depressant, and it was something that I had been on before just to help with the anxiety that I felt. I worried constantly about my pain and school and about my family, who has medical issues of their own (my mom and sister are both in chronic pain with different medical conditions—they are the ones I look up to). However, there were several drugs in that family and the anti-epileptic family that I seemed to be allergic, too. Not much time after I was prescribed this medicine, I started feeling dizzy and passing out randomly. At first, it only happened every couple of days. Then, it started happening more than once a day. In fact, I would go to class and all the sudden, I would wake up and realize that I missed a significant portion of it. I know my professors were worried. After a blood test, we learned that my liver enzymes were elevated, and several blood tests indicated that they were remaining elevated, indicating chronic liver hepatitis, or inflammation of the liver. My body couldn’t take it, so I would pass out. After several stays in the hospital and my mother making countless trips to KC to be with me (as well as my best friend taking and staying with me in the hospital—I have the best support system!), we also found out that I had a heart condition called POTS, Post-Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, which meant that when I stood up or changed positions, my heart rate would speed up rapidly, and it would cause me to pass out. My physicians hypothesized that it had developed due to the stress on my body, probably from the liver toxicity, but it was what caused my body to actually faint and lose consciousness so many times. By figuring that out, though, I could start taking a beta-blocker (yes, I know, more medicine, ugh) that would regulate my heart beat and stop these spells.

It was a scary time. The passing out spells got better, but they would still happen from time to time even after I started taking the beta-blockers. My roommates were supportive, especially my best friend, but they became worried when I said I had hepatitis, not understanding that means inflammation of the liver. They assumed I had something that could be spread to them, and instead of talking to me about it, they went to the Dean of Students at the university. I was very upset at the time, but now, I understand that they were just scared and saw what I was going through, knowing how difficult it was for me. However, with it being a small, private school, they forced me to leave as I was a liability to the university. I had passed out during an exam at the learning center, and the librarian had seen the whole thing. They were scared, and they didn’t want other students to be scared by my medical illness. I wasn’t able to always do school as well as I wanted to, taking tests late and handing in assignments later than due, and that added to their decision. But, I was doing the best I could. I still, to this day, see the act as discrimination, especially since I wanted so much to finish my degree there. But, I wasn’t able to. When my friends walked at graduation, I was sick and lying in bed. Shortly after, I left Rockhurst and applied to Missouri State University, where I continued my education. It was nice to be much closer to family, and it helped turn things around for me.

I lost so much weight after being so sick.

As I worked toward finishing my education, I also started working. I was finally doing so much better—not passing out anymore (the spells had gotten farther and farther between and finally stopped with the medicine), the headaches were managed, the neuropathic arm pain was manageable. The pain in my neck and shoulder still made it incredibly difficult at times, but I pushed through. I just wanted to be normal. I didn’t want to risk what happened at Rockhurst happen to me again at MSU, though they were astounded by how I was forced out there. I wanted to be a normal student as best as possible, and I finally was able to just push through and get assignments done. I did whatever I could to have my life be as steady as possible. I went through some really hard times, even after I was located closer to my family, and I started talking to a psychologist again. I’m grateful for that because she helped me with some relaxation techniques that truly helped me take a break, regroup, and then start again. Around this time, I met Randy, and with him, I felt like I could live normally and work towards my dreams. In fact, he made my dreams come true. He supported me in doing whatever to help my pain and also live a normal life and work towards a fulfilling career. He made sure to be there for me always, driving me to doctors’ appointments in Kansas City. My life was actually an enjoyable life. I was happy.


I had a dream-come-true wedding day. I had a job I loved in research. I volunteered. I enjoyed life. I’m not saying there weren’t many times I enjoyed life in the former twelve years before this point, but I was also anxious and worried that I wouldn’t be able to do something or another because of the pain. I wasn’t worried about that anymore. I knew I was in a good place, and I knew I was going to have to deal with the pain for the rest of my life. I knew other physicians thought I had another underlying condition. It wasn’t going to stop me from living my life.

Last Friday, I had an amazing appointment with a new pain management team here. They were instantly able to understand why I was in pain and know that it all was connected. They didn’t question anything. They listened, and when the physical therapist (that works with the physician) was touching my muscles, she named 12 muscles that she could work on to help the myofacial pain. My muscles are ridiculously tight, and she acknowledged that right away since that is where the majority of the pain comes from. “You could bounce a quarter off her trapezius muscles,” was one thing she said. They talked about an entirely new concept, and they are going to introduce their plan to help me this Friday during our next appointment. I have hope that they might be able to lessen the pain overall. I told them how much I want to get off all my medications, and they told me that I will have to be patient, but they would help me in whatever way they could. They were so encouraging. But either way, I’m happy where I am, and I will get off pain medications one way or another in order to hopefully be able to have a family one day. I just hope there won’t be any need for them after their treatment. :)

I have had so much support through the past years. I am incredibly grateful and don’t know how to thank those people that have been there for me so much enough. My parents spent so much money and time and energy to help me find the best answers possible. They spent countless days and nights worrying and struggling to find solutions for me. They took off from work and other commitments to make sure to be right by my side, and for that, I will never be able to find a way to say thank you enough. My siblings were there for me the entire time. They kept me company, endured so many people asking about me, and were a constant support system. They lost out on so many opportunities to do fun things and enjoy family time because I couldn’t handle being out of bed, or the time and money went to medical procedures or tests for me. They never gave up on me, and we are so close. I will always be grateful. My best friend in college went with me to so many doctors’ appointments, stayed with me over night in the hospital, went with me to surgeries. I went through a really hard time after the second time my liver had issues, and I made some decisions that I’m not proud of and couldn’t let go of some things. Because of this, we’re not close anymore, but I will always, always be grateful for everything she did. And my best friend today, who has been my best friend since I was in 5th grade, has been there through everything, always lending me a shoulder to cry on or an ear to vent to. She’s always listening to me, and she is the most supportive, loving friend I could ever ask for. There are so  many others that have been constantly giving and loving, as well, including the entire community in my home town, previous towns I’ve lived in, my church, my college family, and so many. I am so blessed! And now, the man that completely changed my life is the absolute most understanding man and is there for every appointment, listens to every grievance and vent session, and does whatever he can to make sure I’m ok. I’m so incredibly lucky to have him, and he makes every day better, even the really hard ones.

I know it’s such a long story, but if one person hears my story and knows they’re not going through it alone, it’s all worth it. I want people that are patients to know that even though a doctor may tell them they think it’s in their head, they have to advocate for themselves. Whether it be a heart condition, chronic pain, headaches, leg pain, etc., it’s real! And there are ways to help. Don’t start to believe it yourself. I know after so many times of hearing it and having people tell those close to me, I started to believe it of myself. But you’re your biggest supporter. Know there are others that have gone through it, too, and will be there to help. People raise support about many illnesses (as they should), but chronic pain never seems to be one of them. It’s a true illness. It almost always stems from another illness (or injury), but it is physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausting. There is research being done to help patients with chronic pain (more about that later), but until people are more aware that it exists, there will never be an answer for all the issues that lead to chronic pain. We have to fight to make sure they never stop looking for answers. And we have to support each other.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my story. If you know of anyone that could be helped or not feel so alone by this testimony, please feel free to share. And if you’re experiencing any type of medical condition, know that you have people that love you and will do whatever to help.

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Monday, August 25, 2014

The Day That Changed My Life Forever

Happy Monday, friends! A couple of weeks ago, I eluded to some health issues that I have been having for a long time. However, I didn’t go into detail about those issues and thought it was time that I was open and honest about them on my blog, since they have definitely made me who I am today or at least highly contributed to the person I am. On Friday, I had a couple of doctors’ appointments, and I realized it had been 14 YEARS since my health issues began during an incident at my middle school. Where did the time go!? I want to tell the story of how this all began, but WARNING, this is a long post, with a second part tomorrow! Sorry, but it’s a long story! :)

When I was in sixth grade, I was a high jumper for my track team. I was trying to beat a goal, and I guess I was too intense because I only had one more try to clear the bar. I ended up landing on the ground outside of the mat entirely. We came to find out that the mat being used was not appropriate for this type of event, and that was changed shortly after. The nurse wasn’t there that day, but they made sure I stayed on the ground and didn’t get up right away. I was stubborn, so I ended up getting up eventually without a doctor or anyone checking me out first, and my dad, who was there to watch, took me home. My neck was instantly stiff as a board, so my parents took me to the Emergency Room where they did a X-ray and immediately prepared me for transport to Springfield’s hospital due to a diagnosed C-3 neck fracture. That ambulance ride was SO fast. I wasn’t the best patient, and I remember the EMTs (who were wonderful) telling me to not nod, just verbally speak, but I was terrified. I immediately had numbness in my arms and legs, and everyone was worried that I was going to be paralyzed.

When we arrived in Springfield, they did a CT scan to confirm the fracture and ended up negating the original diagnosis. They told me that I was young and the bones just hadn’t formed completely, but there was no fracture line. So, they sent me home with a neck brace that I was supposed to wear for 2-3 days. The leg and arm numbness and nerve sensations went away, and it appeared that I just had swelling around the spinal cord, but I was ok. And as far as we knew, I had not broken my neck.

I couldn’t take the brace off. I ended up wearing it for over 6 weeks because without it, I literally couldn’t hold my head up. I eventually was able to hold it up, but there was always pain. It eventually got better, but it never went away.

I went back to doing sports because I was athletic, and that’s what I loved to do. I was a cheerleader during basketball season, and one of the stunts left me with extreme pain. I went to church with my family a few days later all together, and as I was sitting there, I realized a good portion of my right arm was numb. I thought it had just fallen asleep or something, but I couldn’t get it to feel right again or come back for a long time. I told my mom, but at the time, I didn’t think it was that big of a deal. Except that it kept happening. It would become numb, and then I would start having mostly regular sensation, but then it would go away again. We knew something was wrong and started investigating.

After over a full year of new doctors that searched for the answer, one found the reason for the arm numbness and pain, as well as the neck pain. I did, in fact, have a C-3 fracture two years before. There was a clear fracture line, and several doctors confirmed it through X-rays. Obviously, it was not given the chance to heal correctly, so all of the muscles had tightened up to protect it from moving further and causing paralysis. I am SO lucky that I was not paralyzed from the neck down. The muscles were incredibly fibrotic and tough, and they were pinching the nerves that ran from my neck through my brachial plexus (the area between the neck and shoulder) and down my arm. It made sense. But how to fix it was another whole issue in itself.

My physician had me start physical therapy right away. That was where I met a good friend of mine, my physical therapist. I became friends with the entire clinic family. I was there so often and would end up being there for many, many years. I loved them, and it was helping the pain. I wasn’t so stiff anymore, and my range of motion and strength were slowly but surely coming back. However, one of the machines they used to strengthen my neck was too much for it. It sent me into weeks of extreme pain where nothing I used could cover it, and I lost all the strength I had gained. So, we went back to square one and started doing more passive physical therapy, as well as occupational therapy to help with the arm strength that I had lost through losing so much sensation. It was a long process, but it was helping. Just not quite enough.

I was seeing a pain management specialist, and he was determined to figure out something that could possibly fix the nerve pain and sensation loss. He knew the longer we waited, the more damage to the nerves. So he recommended a world-class neuro micro-plastic surgeon who specialized in brachial plexus and arm neurosurgery. She suggested a “cubital tunnel” surgery which would act just like carpal tunnel surgery does for the wrist, except in the elbow. They would “transpose” or move the ulnar nerve, so it freed up some room for the nerve to stretch and would hopefully loosen up the pressure on it. So, we tried that, but all that really happened was that I had more sensation loss at first, and I again lost all the strength that I had built up. So, we went to the next plan: decompressing the brachial plexus and removed cervical ribs that I also had (yes, weird, I know, but it turns out 30% of all people have them!!). They also removed a ton of muscle to allow the other muscle room to regrow and heal.

I waited a long time, and the surgeries may have been beneficial, but almost nothing was helping the pain. I would only notice pain decrease at times when I had PT a couple of days before, and they would loosen the muscles with massage therapy, stretching, etc. Otherwise, I was constantly rotating heat and ice on my neck and shoulder (which had become very weak, as well, due to all the muscles around it), and I was constantly doing nerve glides that my physical therapist taught me to help the nerve pain. I wasn’t sleeping much because the pain kept me up. I couldn’t do school very well, so I had to start having a teacher come to my house (homebound) to bring my schoolwork and help me with it for a time. It was just too hard.

It was an incredibly frustrating time, not only for myself, but for my family. They stuck with me through it all, determined, even more than I was, to find an answer that would take away the pain and not leave me on medications for the rest of my life. They knew I wanted to have a career, be successful, and have a family. Back then, it seemed like it would never happen because I could barely attend a class or two without having to lay down. Even when I would be able to make it through a class, I was constantly at the back of the room or walking around because I couldn’t be in one position for too long. It was horrible. But, we kept searching for answers, and for that, I will always be grateful to my parents. They didn’t give up on me even when physicians told me I was making it all up. We went to several that couldn’t find a separate answer for the arm pain/numbness and didn’t even explore the initial injury, just telling me that I didn’t have this or that, and that I must be making it up. What teenager wants to spend her entire life going through medical tests and going to doctors’ appointments? It was insane. I didn’t get to see friends much because I couldn’t handle being out for more than an hour or so. My life was not a normal life.

That could have been the end of the story since I am still dealing with chronic pain, but I had so many supportive people that kept encouraging me to look for more answers and try new things, and it’s helped so much in the long run. I’ll post more about that tomorrow, but for now, I’m honestly able to look back on this part of my life and be thankful that I went through this. Even though I may not be a physician today like I thought I would, it has helped me be truly empathetic towards others. I’m now committed to doing research to find new developments that can help improve the medical world. And I love that. I realized a different path for my life than I had planned, and I am so thankful for the way my life is going.

After one of my surgeries with two of my good friends!
Sorry for the poor quality and smaller photo--these are old!

Right after another surgery. So thankful for those that ]
supported me along the way! Excuse the fact that I
look horrible--I had surgery two days before.

Thanks for reading this truly long story. I hope you stop back tomorrow! :)


Love,

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Thursday, August 21, 2014

"WICKED!"

I have ALWAYS wanted to go to a Broadway play. It is one of my dreams to see all of New York and attend a musical/play on Broadway. I’m not sure it will ever happen, but a girl can dream. I mean, I’ve got plenty of time to check off everything on my list of things to see and do before I die, right? A couple of weeks back, I was having a really hard week at work.  Just completely frustrated all the time, and I wasn’t feeling well to begin with. My husband and I are trying to save money as much as possible right now because we really want to buy a house as soon as he is officially certified at his job (no matter where he goes, he has to re-test/certify), sometime probably next year. And then of course, I’ll want to decorate and DIY it as much as possible. Duh. So failing trying to save. ANYWAY. I saw the ad for Wicked in town, and my best friend had just gone in Arkansas to the show there and raved about it. I just didn’t want to push for tickets because of the cost…. yet my husband knew how important it was to me, so he surprised me by finding us tickets for a night we had off together. Yeah, he’s the best.

We had tickets for last Sunday, and I just wish we could go see it again! It was SO worth the money, too. I couldn’t believe how fast the time went by because I was very engaged in the plot,and I couldn’t wait for the intermission to be over, so I could see Act II. I’d seen the “Wizard of Oz,” but “Wicked” painted the story in a whole new light by telling the story of “Elphaba,” the Wicked Witch of the West. It shows her as a misunderstood girl who forms an unconventional friendship with the “good” and spoiled witch, Glinda. The town sees Elphaba as the “bad” and scary-looking witch, but the story shows that she is more than what meets the eye.

From the talented musicians and vocals (and boy, were the voices of the actors/actresses, especially Elphaba and Glinda, incredible!) to the amazing costumes to the perfect stage, I couldn’t think of a better performance. Everyone that is involved in putting the show on day after day should be incredibly proud. I believe the entire crowd left just reveling in the awesomeness of the show like we did.



If you haven’t seen it and it’s in a town near you, go see this musical! You won’t regret it, I promise, and it’s great for kids, too, as long as they won’t be scared of the flying monkeys! :)

My mother-in-law is coming into town later this afternoon to visit, so I may not have the chance to write for a couple of days in order to spend as much time with her and the family as possible. I’m excited to share pictures of our apartment and some great recipes next week, so please check back! Have a wonderful weekend!


Love,

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

"We're here for RSL!"

This weekend was probably one of the busiest weekends I’ve had since moving. We’ve had something going on every day from Wednesday yesterday. I’ve loved every second of it! I’m absolutely exhausted (had to pry myself out of bed today), but it’s been great to be so busy. That’s exactly what I longed for when we moved here! I’ve always had a jam-packed schedule before, and I am the most productive when I am living that sort of lifestyle. Call me crazy, but it’s the best.

Wednesday, my husband called me as I was getting ready to leave work and asked if I wanted to go see “Into the Storm” at the movie theater with him. A mid-week date: umm, of course!?! It was great. Terrifying if you’ve been as close to a tornado as I have (I lived basically in the middle of Tornado Alley, and my family still does), but it did a great job of showing how scary and horrific it can be. Hopefully people will watch this and plan for those types of events! Thursday and Friday were filled with work and hanging out with friends (see last post for pictures!). Saturday, my husband and I went to the Real Salt Lake vs. Seattle Sounders MLS game! I bought the tickets as a birthday gift for him a couple of months ago, and we’ve been looking forward to it ever since. I’ve never been to a professional soccer game before, so I was excited to see what it was like. I definitely want to go back. The energy in the crowd is incredible, and though we wanted the Sounders to win (the husband is from Washington), you couldn’t help but cheer for Real Salt Lake, too! Right before the game started, the fire/emergency alarm went off a few times in a row, and we were a little worried about it. But NO ONE moved. Die-hard fans, I would say! I’m glad they finally figured out what was going on and started the game, though!



I was amazed at some of the traditions the fans have at Rio Tinto Stadium. First of all, they sing this chant several times at the beginning of the game and then again if anyone scores. Everyone is on cue, and it sounds amazing with all of the booming loud voices throughout the stadium!

“If you believe then just stand up on your feet.
And shout it loud ‘REAL!’
Here at the riot the battle hymn’s begun.
We’re here for RSL!”



Also, when they announce the RSL players’ names, the announcer only says the first name, and the crowd shouts out the last name. Intense energy levels for sure. :) And I thought football games were exciting! I know quite a bit about football; soccer, not so much…


The only thing I would change about that game is the heat! Ugh, if we could have picked a day that wasn’t 95 degrees and sun bearing straight down on us, that would have been amazing. As it was, we had to keep buying water and Gatorade just to not dehydrate! A fan behind us had the brilliant idea to bring a camelback backpack for his family. Technically still bringing drinks into the stadium, but it looks like a normal backpack, so who’s to stop him? Genius. I’ll have to remember that for next time!


The score was 0-0 at the half, but as soon as the 2nd period started, RSL scored and then scored again. If you want to know what crazy soccer fans are like, be in the middle of the home team’s fans when their team scores on the best ranked team in the country twice. Everyone was screaming and chanting! So much excitement! The Sounders finally scored later in the game and almost scored again to tie it, but unfortunately, no such luck. That’s ok, though! We might as well become RSL fans since we’re living here! :)



It was a great day, and it was made even better when we took Honey to the lake up in the mountains again that evening. Beautiful ending to a beautiful day! Sunday, we went to see “Wicked on Broadway!” I’ll write more about that incredible experience tomorrow!

Hope you all had as exciting of a weekend as we did!


Love always,

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Monday, August 18, 2014

Meeting Friends in a New City

Okay, so this was the only thing I disliked about moving to Utah. I didn’t know ANYONE besides my husband. I didn’t have a job when I first moved here, and so I was desperate to have someone else to talk to besides my husband. Don’t get me wrong. He’s the best, and he does a great job of listening to me, even when I ramble on and on about something (which describes my usual conversations…). And he’s met some people through work. But, I was eager to have a group of girl friends that I could go out with, get drinks, dinner, whatever with, and then be able to rely on them when I needed to vent or advice about something that only girls really understand. I still talk and email back and forth with my best friends back home, and I don’t think anyone could ever take the place of them. But, everyone needs someone to hang out with. I would sit at home and clean and watch tv by myself when my husband worked evening/night shifts and be wishing I was out doing something. I just didn’t know how to start meeting people.

It took a couple months, but I finally have some really great girlfriends. I met a great friend when I started my job at the lab, and we definitely have similar ambitions. Unfortunately, she started her PhD program and moved to a different lab, but we still get together as much as possible. The rest of my lab, though, is composed of guys. Not that guys can’t be friends, too, but it’s just not the same. So, I joined this group called “Meetup.” Have you ever heard of it? It’s basically like an online group organizer. There all kinds of groups and “meetups” from Hiking with Dogs to 20-30s Ladies to Free Fitness. It’s such an awesome idea. It’s not an online dating site. It’s for meeting new people and finding groups that have similar interests as you. I joined the Ladies group and a couple others and went to a get-together one night at a restaurant downtown. Almost all of the girls there had just moved here from all over, from the East to the West Coasts. They were all like me, just looking to meet new people. I immediately hit it off with a few girls, and the other night, we met to try out a restaurant we had never been to. It was so much fun. We all connected and could just talk as if we had been friends for years. We learned a lot about each other and shared some of our past experiences and aspirations. I could see these girls being close friends for a very long time. :) And the best part is, we’re all getting to know this new place together. The hiking, downtown life, skiing, etc. We are planning to meet up and try new things, with and without our significant others, every couple of weeks. I never thought I would be so happy to join an online community. :) If you’re looking to organize a softball team or a book club, for example, or want to join one yourself, I would definitely suggest joining Meetup!

My friend from the lab and I at her going away dinner!
Trying out a new sushi place with a group of girls I met through the meetup! :)
Ironically, I also met another great friend through a fitness group that I joined. A former European League Basketball Player organizes a free fitness meeting every Tuesday and Thursday after work and teaches different exercise techniques. He even provides all the equipment! It’s so nice of him, and he does it just to stay in shape and continue teaching, as he did before he played professional ball. One of the girls that came actually works for the same place I do, just at a different lab, so we had the chance to hang out the other night at a concert downtown. Through her, I’ve met another great friend. Like I said, I love this site. You still meet people in person first, but the internet brings together people in a similar situation as you because it’s a big city, and it’s sometimes hard to meet people without someone introducing you first or at work (which isn’t always easy either).

Enjoying a local concert with these two lovely girls and new friends!
It’s so nice to have a social life again. :) Hopefully soon, we’ll meet other couples to go out with once in a while or get together with the girls and their significant others.

Happy Monday, friends!

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Friday, August 15, 2014

Love Your Body, Love Yourself

I never used to have a big problem with body image. I would question if I was pretty or if my teeth were white or straight enough at times, but for the most part, I didn’t care too much. There were other things more important to worry about. But lately, I have found myself struggling with how I look more and more. I don’t even understand why since I am loving life now more than I probably ever have. I have an incredible husband who always tells me I look good and calls me beautiful. Anytime I’m self-conscious, he tells me he doesn’t understand why and that I look great. I have a great supportive family that tells me I am gorgeous on the inside and out. What more could I want?

When I first met my husband, I was the smallest I had ever been. I had previously gone through some difficult times in my life, and I wasn’t eating much. I was never hungry. That all changed when I met the love of my life. Life in general just started getting better. I was HAPPY. I was loving life, and I knew everything was finally falling into place. (Side note: I'm not saying you need a man to be happy. But my man changed my life, and with him, days became enjoyable again.) However, I didn’t focus on some things, like eating right or exercising. We would go for walks with Honey, but I wasn’t running or going to the gym like I had previously been. So, of course, I started gaining weight. A month before my wedding, I discovered I was the heaviest I had ever been. But, I didn’t care. I wasn’t “obese,” but I was overweight. I felt pretty around my husband always, and that was what mattered to me. Since moving to Utah, though, I’m trying to take control of my weight. I have lost some through our adventures hiking, biking, etc., but for some reason, even though I have been doing everything as right as possible most of the time (gave up soda, cut back dramatically on breads, eat mostly grilled chicken for protein sources, tons of veggies, exercise 5-7 times a week, drink tons of water, etc.), I am struggling to lose those extra pounds.

My weight struggle caused me to constantly notice others, too. “Those girls running on the side of the road look so toned and skinny!” “Wow, I wonder how she lost all that weight. Maybe I should try that.” It’s normal to notice these things about others because society teaches us to compare ourselves to everyone, especially as girls. Isn’t that what Facebook and Instagram are for? But last week, I suddenly had the realization that it didn’t matter. It does not matter what weight I am now or before. My husband obviously doesn't mind that I’m 25 pounds heavier than I was when I first met him, so why should I? If I can’t love myself at this weight, how am I supposed to expect others to love me? I am a huge proponent of “be the person you would want to know and be friends with” concept. Constantly comparing myself to others and their body types wasn't making me feel like someone I would want to know. I love to be around people, girls and guys both, that exude self-confidence. They love themselves no matter what. And so should I. And just stopping to realize that has helped tremendously. I went to a concert with friends last night, and I didn't even have a single twinge of jealousy at how “great” another girl looked. I was happy with my appearance. And more than that, I am just elated to be living the life God has provided me with. I have the best husband, dog, cat, family, friends, job, apartment, surroundings, etc. I’ll keep working at losing weight because I want to be healthy. I want to look my best and feel my best. But until I get to that point, I’m not going to let it hold me back by obsessing about how I look in relation to others. I’m beautiful. And so are you. :)


Love,

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Thank A Teacher

I know I must be behind the times, but I can not wrap my head around the fact that it is August already. I can't believe we have almost lived in Utah for six months now. That's crazy to think about! Anyway, the point I was getting around to making is that school is back in session for most people, and the university I work at is about to start back up, as well. Today, my Facebook news feed was filled with pictures of students and teachers for their first days back. I don't feel old enough to have friends that are in their 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th years teaching, but in reality, many of my friends are teachers and have been teaching for a few years now. I love the teaching profession. I even thought I would become a teacher for the longest time, and if you ask my friends and family about the unfinished basement in my parents' house, they would tell you it used to be covered with posters, and school supplies and textbooks sat everywhere. I "taught" my brothers and sister, as well as stuffed animals. I absolutely loved it, and now I hope to teach at a college level permanently someday.


I have so much respect for teachers in this world. Think about it: these people spend their 40 hours (plus more!) every week exercising patience, restraint, compassion, kindness, and tolerance while instilling new concepts into young minds, whether it be in kindergarten or high school or somewhere in between. We hear so many non-teachers say, "it must be nice to get a three-month break from work every year." But, I don't think many people know what it takes to be a teacher. In their role, these amazing people act as caregivers, counselors, friends, authority figures, disciplinarians, nurses, recess monitors, etc. Of course there are professional guidance counselors and nurses and principals that also do amazing work, but the teachers are there first when there is any issue. For 40 hours a week, those children rely on their teachers for so many things, not just homework help. And that's not all. That's just the time allocated for spending with their students. They only receive one hour free period for prep work each day. Most have to eat with their students and monitor recess at times, so that is the only block they have to work on lesson planning, grading, organizing their classroom, etc., unless they devote more time (that is not paid as overtime) to their work.


Almost all of the teachers I have encountered spend a great deal of time outside of the classroom planning and prepping. And when they are not doing that, they are focused on thinking about new ways to improve their teaching. They are PASSIONATE. Have you ever followed a teacher on Pinterest? I have. Many of their boards are filled with new ways of implementing ideas and printable worksheets and new methods. Maybe others wouldn't call that work, but I do. It's helping the students to learn, isn't it? I know other professions require time working outside of the office, but as a society, we know that salaries for teachers are way under what they should be. I can bring up the calculation pointing out that when you divide the salary by the number of hours worked and then by the number of students, they make about a dollar per child per hour, while baby-sitters make, on average, 8-10 dollars per hour. See this article. How is that fair? (And no, I am NOT saying that teachers are baby-sitters. I think that term is degrading to these people that have earned degrees, passed licensing examinations, and continuously learn new ways of teaching themselves.) Especially since that specific calculation doesn't even take into consideration all of the time spent outside of work. Further more, most teachers spend a great deal of money out of pocket for school supplies, decorations and posters for their classroom, etc. What other profession requires that?!

If you know a teacher, thank them. Everyone always raves about physicians and medical professionals when they save a life. They should! Or lawyers when they win an important case. And again, they should! But how often do we hear people rave about teachers? Our instructors, no matter what grade level, are the ones that TAUGHT these physicians, nurses, lawyers, pilots, researchers, bankers, government workers, counselors, nutritionists, and so on first. The people we should be thanking constantly are the ones that spend the most time influencing our children's life outside of the parents. When we reach a goal in life, we should go back and thank the teachers that helped us to get to that point.



I have so many people that I would like to thank, but I just really want to say THANK YOU and express how much I appreciate all of my former teachers. I'd like to especially recognize the ones at my elementary school that were there when I first started having medical issues and didn't know if I could go on. You know who you are. I simply can't think of kinder, more compassionate, more intelligent, amazing people. You have all influenced my life greatly and pushed me to be the best that I can be. In particular, thank you to an amazing woman and science teacher. You taught me to never give up; to always be passionate and love science; and to go as far as I could in life with God's love and guidance. I honestly believe that the opportunity to be working in research today and to be influencing people's lives with our medical breakthroughs is thanks, in large part, to you. Thank you to my friends that are teachers. I have watched you plan, prepare classrooms, and just genuinely love your job and love impacting your students' lives in a positive way, and there are no better people for that job. And finally, thank you to all of the teachers out there. You are all amazing and inspirational!


Ranting is my specialty, let's be honest. But if there is one thing you take from this article, please let it be to thank our teachers.

Love,

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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Healthy and Delicious Waffles

My husband is the best cook. He is great with adding seasoning and improvising, and he always comes up with the best meals. For the longest time, he did most of the cooking, as my schedule was crazy at work (and I think I may have enjoyed having him make me dinner all the time... :)). But, when we got married, I knew I wasn't going to be working for a couple of months after moving here, so I made it my goal to come up with as many delicious recipes as possible and be as organized as I could in my approach to cooking, shopping, meal-planning, etc. It's worked out well, and I can't wait to see if I can balance it one day when I have little ones running around. I'm pretty sure that will be when it falls apart, but for now, I can feel good about it. :)

When I cook, I try to make the healthiest decisions possible because I definitely have a sweet tooth and an eye for the unhealthy foods, and that's fine at times, but for day-to-day meals, it makes me feel much better to have them be as wholesome and good-for-you as possible. That's why when I had a craving for waffles the other day, I took a recipe for traditional waffles and turned them into low-fat waffles that tasted just as delicious as the real thing. I did top them with a little confectioners' sugar, however. All things in moderation, right? I hope you enjoy them, and feel free to make adjustments to fit the recipe to your needs and things you have on hand!



Healthy and Wholesome, Delicious and Fluffy Waffles

Prep time: 10 min, Cook time: 15 min

Ingredients:

2 eggs
2 cups whole-wheat flour (This is where I cheated this time. I didn't have any on hand, so I used regular all-purpose, so they were not as good for you as they could be. But, I have done them before just as the recipe states, and they were just as amazing!)
1 3/4 cups skim milk
1/2 cup applesauce, unsweetened
1 tbsp sugar substitute (I used baking Splenda)
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon (or to taste)

Directions:

1. Preheat waffle iron. 
2. Separate egg yolks from egg whites. Beat egg yolks in large bowl. Put egg whites in separate bowl and set aside.
3. Adding to large bowl with egg yolks, beat in flour, milk, applesauce, sugar substitute, baking powder, salt, vanilla, and cinnamon. I used my kitchen aid mixer for this, but by hand works as well!
4. Use hand beater or beating vigorously, beat egg whites until fluffy.
5. Fold egg whites into batter.
6. Spray preheated waffle iron with non-stick cooking spray. Pour mix onto hot waffle iron. Cook until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes. 
7. Top with cinnamon, confectioners' sugar, syrup, butter, or fruit (or anything else you would like!). Enjoy!

Adapted from here!

Hope you are all having an amazing week, my friends, and just remember, two days until the weekend!

Love,

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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Why You Should Never Judge a Book by Its Cover...

Or a person by the way they look on the outside... With the incredibly sad passing of Robin Williams, I thought it would be a good time to write about a topic that is extremely close to my heart. I'm guessing I'm not the only one that was extremely stunned to hear that this actor that most of us have spent a good portion of our lives watching on the big screen committed suicide. Our family experienced this shock when a happy, go-lucky-seeming family friend took her own life a few years ago. We had no idea that she was experiencing such pain in her life. While many think it is a selfish decision, a fellow blogger put it best in her blog post this morning: "it is wholly unmerciful to judge a man by his darkest hour, rather than by the entirety of his life." (Tyler @ Arkansassy) I completely agree. There are so many people that are struggling with this pain every day, and if that was you, how would you feel if you worked your entire life to build up a strong career, be a kind and generous person, honest and wholesome, only to be remembered as the "selfish" one because you made a decision that came from not being able to handle the pain any longer? Those in this situation are clearly not in a place to make this type of decision. This type of illness, whether it be depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, etc., rids one's body of any strength it has to put positive thoughts ahead of the constant black hole surrounding them. As someone that has struggled with anxiety for a good portion of my life, I thankfully was never in this type of situation where I thought I could take my own life. I may have had a passing thought, but I would never have been able to make that decision. However, I know many that have been in that dark place and worry about them. If you're facing this type of illness, you are not the only one. There is no shame in it. It's not something that you can just put aside and pretend it doesn't exist.

Robin Williams as I will always remember him, the funniest actor I ever witnessed in film.
The same thing equates to someone in a situation that I have found myself in for a very long time: chronic pain. When I was younger, I started experiencing massive neck, shoulder, back, and right arm pain due to an incident. If you know me, you know that I will never act like I am having a bad day if there is any power within me to hide it. Of course, my family and those closest to me have seen me in my darkest hours, and I have learned not to shield it from them any longer. But, I don't want those around me to experience negativity when I am capable of putting a smile on my face and "acting" happy, which usually leads me to be happy and enjoy time around others, despite the pain. I am a positive person. Yet, sometimes there are no positive thoughts to be had when your body is literally fighting against you. When your muscles feel as if they are trying to PULL out of your skin, or your nerves give the impression that there is a fire within your limbs. Or when your muscles literally jump or spasm continuously, and it can barely be seen, but if it is, people look at you like you are absolutely crazy because you can't help it. Or when you are the "weird" one in class because you have to get up constantly and walk around or move to the back of the classroom to stand because you can't handle the agony that goes along with being in one position for too long, causing you to never sleep and always have those raccoon eyes. "You look terrible today, hun," was the phrase that I heard over and over for years after those nights. "Oh really, I feel great. Hadn't noticed."

I am so grateful that I do not have to deal with this to the degree I once did. But, I know so many that do. I have found things that have worked for my pain, and I continue to try to find more solutions. Yet, it is so much better, and I thank God for that. But during that time when the pain was at its worse, yes people told me I didn't look the best due to my physical appearance and fatigue;  yet, they never knew what was truly going on, and most, especially when they found out I was taking medication for muscle spasms, etc., acted like it must not be that bad. "But you look fine." "You're always so happy... how can you be in pain?" "You just look like you are tired. Maybe you should try getting sleep." It just goes to show that you never actually know what is going on within a person by their outside appearance. Try and getting to know someone before you make an impression. I understand it is human nature to judge a book by its cover. I'm guilty of it as much as anyone. But, it's not always as it seems.

My sister and mother are two of the most amazing women that are continuously struggling with the type of continuous, muscle-wrenching, aching, throbbing pain, and to look at them, you would NEVER know it. I am so amazed at their strength and courageousness. They are beautiful people that care more for others than they do themselves, but it hurts them and me to hear things like "it must not be as bad as you say it is," or other judgmental accusations. If they wanted you to know how it feels to struggle with chronic pain day after day, they would show it. As it is, they want to live their lives as normally as possible. But, we are constantly looking for ways to make the pain dissipate, and because of this, we can use all the prayers we can get. I truly believe that saying, though, "God doesn't give you more than you can handle." He couldn't have given these issues to stronger people. They're the strongest there is. :) But they deserve 100% relief from the chronic pain, and we'll search forever to find the solution.

I found this amazing article on Robin Williams today: "5 Facts You Didn't Know About Robin Williams." Take a look if you'd like! It just reminds all of us that you may not know someone as well as you think. Take a moment to learn about their life and their struggles before you judge them.

Love you all, my friends,

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Monday, August 11, 2014

Living for Those Beautiful Weekends....

And who can blame me, or anyone for that matter? We work hard all week, 40+ hours, to finally have some fun on the weekends. My husband and I do other stuff throughout the week, don't get me wrong. We have fun and try to plan date nights and outings. But the weekend is where most of the fun occurs. Plus, at least for me, no work! Right now, my husband's days off vary, which is sort of frustrating, but we are making it work. Mine, on the other hand, are Saturday and Sunday every week, and by those days, I need a break! And that's coming from someone that adores her job. Can't even imagine if I hated it! Soon, though, I will hopefully change my days off when my husband's are actually set, and we'll make those two days our fun days, whatever they might be. Every one needs that time away from work with the ones we love!

This last weekend was perfect. Not too much planned, but we definitely packed in as much as we could as per usual. On Friday night, we met up with a friend of mine who worked at the same lab as I for a while, along with her boyfriend. We met up at her their place and then caught the Trax (train) to downtown and walked the rest of the way to an incredible Turkish food place that serves the best Doner Kebabs! I didn't even know what those were before moving here. We had never eaten there before, and it was incredible! Plus, the company and drinks were pretty amazing, too. :) It was the first time taking public transportation for me in a long time, but it's so different than back in Missouri! I felt much safer, and the train was so much cleaner than the bus back in MO. I had only been on the bus in KC once, but it was a scary experience, even though I was travelling with the rest of my class for a project downtown. People just didn't consider it a good option there, but many of the people I work with here in Utah use public transportation as much as possible. So nice to have that option, and with the air quality as poor as it is among the mountains, I am going to make an effort to use it if I have the chance. One way to cut back on the pollution!

Saturday morning, we woke up by six, so that we could be ready to leave the house by seven and drive to Provo where we had sailing lessons planned! It was something fun we had decided to try a while ago, and it turned out that I was able to get the tickets for almost nothing! It was amazing. Very low key, and possibly a tiny bit scary when the boat tipped so far over in the wind, but we were assured it wouldn't tip all the way over... still didn't keep my heart from pounding, though! Such an incredible, *mostly* relaxing way to enjoy the beautiful world we live in. And that's exactly the way our instructor saw this amazing world! He told us so many stories about the countless countries he had visited and sailed around. He went to school in Scotland, lived in Hawaii for a number of years, had been to the Middle East, sailed around the Virgin Islands, and now he made his home with his wife here in Utah, where they run this sailing school. I loved hearing his stories, and he was a great teacher. Maybe one day, we will see some of the world through sailing, too. :)






See how I could feel like we were going to tip over? Scared me just a bit...



When we made it back home, we wanted to take Honey swimming, since she had been cooped up at home all week. We ended up taking a quick nap first (thank goodness! this girl values her sleep!), and then we drove up the mountains near our home until we reached this beautiful, desolate lake. Honey swam and caught the Frisbee for a while, and I picked wildflowers. The scenery was incredible. We live in a gorgeous world, and I feel so blessed to be able to have these views every day.













Sunday consisted mostly of cleaning while the husband worked, but it's nice to be back at work today knowing the house is all picked up and laundry done! Can't complain about that. :) I made some delicious waffles for a late brunch before he left, and they were healthy! It's always a win when something I make is healthy, and my husband enjoys it, I'll post that recipe tomorrow!

Happy Monday, friends!

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Much Love!

Much Love!

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