Monday, July 25, 2011

More Wedding Pictures

Megan and Bruce got back all their wedding photos from the photographer and they are so beautiful! If you ever need an awesome photographer in the DFW area, let me know.

These are some of my favorites, though it was really hard to just pick a few because there were so many good ones. As you can see, I was quite partial to pictures of Charlie! And I promise, Brad was at the wedding, just not near a camera very often!!

Anyways, hope you enjoy!!


New Obsession

Against my better judgement, I have joined Pinterest. I almost escaped it because the app wasn't jiving with the web browser on my MacBook, but today it started working and all I have done is pin stuff. One of the design bloggers I read called it a beautiful, inspirational time suck. Oh yes it is.

For those of you like Brad, who have no idea what Pinterest is, it allows you to create virtual pinboards of images you find on the web. You download a bookmark you can click on to load a photo from any web site onto whichever pinboard you want to add to. You can follow people and people can follow you to exchange ideas. If you see a picture you like on someone else's pinboard, you can repin it. Pretty nifty, huh?

I've started interior design boards for each room in my house. The neat thing about pinning a bunch of pictures that catch your attention is that you start to see trends in colors and furniture and it kind of narrows down what you should be looking for next for your room. I seem to be liking all white kitchens with some bright color thrown in on the backsplash or floor, grayish blues and greens for paint colors and dark grey painted furniture.

The most pressing design change I'm trying to get ideas for is Charlie's big boy room. We are getting closer all the time to moving from the crib to the bed. I think the jump will go hand in hand with potty training. At that point I will paint whichever room he ends up in a different color, de-baby his dresser and get a new rug and bedding. Right now I'm trying to figure out the colors and I've been looking for pairs of twin beds on ebay and Craig's list. I'd love to find something in need of some paint.

I made a to do list tonight of everything I have let slip while I've been on Pinterest. It's kind of sad. It was a VERY long list. For once, my internet going out would actually be beneficial!

If you are on Pinterest let me know! I'd love to follow along!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

What's Up

We've had a lot going on lately. Or maybe it's the same amount we always do, it just feels like so much more effort in this awful heat. It's been unusually hot for Richmond - over 100 for a few days - and very humid. I'm quickly running out of ways to entertain Charlie that don't require going outside.

This week I even took him to his first movie. It was Winnie the Pooh. It's just a little over an hour long and he made it through almost all of it. The theater speakers were very loud, so I thought the previews might scare him, but they didn't! When we left it wasn't even that he was upset or misbehaving - he was just hungry. So I took him to Cici's for lunch where he packed in a bunch of pizza.

My other attempt to keep him entertained, at least before it was over 100 degrees, was a baby pool I got for $10 at Wal-Mart. It was my mother-in-law Sue's suggestion and it was brilliant. Charlie loves getting in and out. He prefers to swim in the buff. Since he is the only one to swim in the pool, I let him. And it's a good thing - we've had a couple, ahem, accidents.

Other than that, I've just been beating our old indoor play haunts into the ground with repeated visits: the Children's Museum (both locations), indoor malls, bounce houses and music classes. Charlie gets bored more quickly each time we go. I'm seriously worried about keeping him busy all week this week.

I'm going to go ahead and say this and just be a big Scrooge. I hate summer. I absolutely hate it. The heat, the humidity, the mosquitoes - bleck. I'm sure if I was in the middle of a break from school I'd be singing a different tune. But I'm not. I grew up in Austin and have suffered through enough hot days to last a lifetime. I'd take an inconvenient snow storm over this heat wave any day of the week.

I feel much better. The heat wave has obviously made me whiny. Or whinier.

This week we found out a pipe in Charlie's bathroom has been dripping into the kitchen ceiling for quite some time. Our handyman had to rip a huge section of the kitchen ceiling and replace it. Charlie finds him absolutely fascinating. He drives a truck, owns a ladder and uses power tools - all the things that make someone cool in this world to Charlie.

Charlie started a new habit this week: he tries to get his pajamas and diaper off between the time he wakes up and I come in his room to get him. He just stands there, all casual like, buck naked in his crib. I don't know what, if anything, this says about potty training, but I think I'll order a little seat just in case. I'm going to get one to put on the regular toilet. He seems to want to go the way we do.

I started seeing a chiropractor for my back this week. I got another set of x-rays and found out my left leg is shorter than my right, which puts my hips at an angle and that's why my back hurts. After the doctor told me I was just thinking, is there anything NOT wrong with me lately?? Geez. At any rate, I'm already feeling better. I have a new pillow to sleep on, vitamins to take, exercises to do at home, water to drink and, of course, adjustments. Fingers crossed!!

We're taking it pretty easy this weekend. We had a birthday party today for one of Charlie's little friends at Romp n' Roll. It really wore him out and the timing of the party meant he skipped his nap. Early bed time for him! Wooohooo! Now if it would just rain and save our yard we reseeded in the fall, life will be complete!

Happy Weekend!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Other Thing Going On

So I've been pretty occupied with something lately, which kind of accounts for my lackluster blogging. But I wanted to do a post about it because it is something that could impact each of us at some time in our lives. Or one out of four of us, as Google tells me. Anyways.

The day before we left on vacation, I went to my mom's dermatologist to get a mole removed off my back that was getting irritated by my bra strap. Instead, when she walked in, she zoned right in on a mole on my face.

Some background: I had seen this dermatologist last summer and she had suggested I get a certain mole on my face removed. It had started growing when I was pregnant and had irregular sides.

At the time, I wanted someone more skilled in plastic surgery to remove it, since it was my face and all. The dermatologist I saw in Richmond, however, disagreed with her that it needed to be removed and told me to just keep an eye on it. He said it was normal for moles to grow during pregnancy and it would be a shame to scar up my face. I'll get to what an idiot this man is here in a minute.

She was able to tell when she walked in the room that the mole had grown. I was surprised - I guess it grew so slowly I hadn't noticed. At any rate, she was alarmed, gave me a list of plastic surgeons she recommended and told me quite seriously not to wait.

Well she did a great job at scaring me - I went back to my mom's house and scheduled the removal with a plastic surgeon on Monday morning after we got back from Puerto Rico. Charlie and I weren't flying out until Tuesday.

All during vacation it was at the back of my mind. Sometimes I couldn't sleep and would research melanoma on my iPad. What I read was very scary. It is such an aggressive cancer and is killing women in their 30's and 40's who have young kids all the time. Once the cancer gets below the epidermis it can spread like wildfire, popping up in lymph nodes and other organs. The survival rates once the cancer has metastasized are very low.

I am in a very high risk group for melanoma - I have a lot of moles and had some very bad burns as a child and teenager. I spent a lot of time in the sun as a kid. I was on the swim team and we went to the beach almost every summer. Some of my relatives have had skin cancer, though fortunately not melanoma.

I was mostly scared because the mole had been there for over two years and had been growing the whole time. I was ready to call up the Richmond dermatologist who talked me out of removing it and give him a piece of my mind. What was I thinking? Why did I not insist on it being removed? How could I let something as stupid as vanity affect my health like this? Did I wait too long? Would the year I waited be the difference between a cure or not?

I think Brad was glad when my iPad battery ran out because he hated to see me worrying so much. I tried to just forget about it at that point and focus on having a great vacation. Surgery and the biopsy results would of course be waiting for me upon my return.

I had surgery first thing in the morning - Brad and I got to the surgery center at 6am. By 7am I was put under and wheeled in to have the procedure. The plastic surgeon was very reassuring, explained to me exactly how he was going to remove it and what the scar would look like.

When I got out of surgery, I had about a 1 inch incision stitched up on my cheek, designed to fade into a "laugh line" and was just kind of groggy and hungry. The medicine they put me under with wore off by lunch time and by that night I felt fine. Charlie and I flew home as planned on Tuesday.

Thursday evening I checked my phone and there was a message from the surgeon. He called me himself. In my experience, when the doctor calls personally, that means something bad. I was in a scared panic. Their office was already closed. I called my mom and Brad to kill some time. Finally, I left a message on the surgeon's voicemail and told him if he has bad news to please call me that night, that I didn't think I could take waiting until the next morning.

He called me back around 9 and told me the biopsy had come back as melanoma in situ. I breathed a huge sigh of relief right before I got scared again. The mole was melanoma, but it had not grown beyond the epidermis. There was almost no chance the melanoma had spread. However, I needed to come back to Dallas ASAP to have the margins around the mole removed.

I called my mom and Brad again. My mom was great, very calming and reassuring. Brad was shocked. I don't think he ever imagined this could actually be something real. We decided that since Brad was going to be home the next week, he would stay with Charlie and I would fly back to Dallas and have my surgery July 5. My mom would go with me.

Thank goodness Brad still had some airline miles after our vacation - the last minute ticket would have been so expensive. It took a lot of miles to make it happen, but we were able to do it.

The second surgery was later in the day so I was starving by the time I got there! No food before anesthesia after all. The Casey Anthony verdict was read as they were prepping me and all the nurses were chatting about it with my mom and me. Everyone seemed to know that I'd flown in for the surgery.

Unfortunately, the result of the second surgery was a bit harder to look at. Just over 2 inches I think, with raised areas at the top and bottom of the incision. The skin in the middle, where the mole was, was stretched tight. The whole thing kind of made me look very angular and odd and scary.

My mom and I decided a junk food and reality TV day was in order. In n Out burger for lunch and Taco Cabana for dinner - YUM! It was all very comforting and took my mind off things.

I flew home the next day and besides the flight attendant, nobody has really asked what happened. The left side of my face swelled up and the stretched skin gave me headaches. It was a harder recovery than the first surgery.

Unfortunately, due to the timing of the surgeries, I had to give up going to Miami with some friends. That was pretty heartbreaking. I had been looking forward to it since May and was so excited to have a few days to cut loose with the girls. I didn't feel well enough for it and my mom thought I was insane to even consider it after 2 surgeries in a week. I still feel mopey I had to miss it.

Brad and Charlie were so sweet when I got home - they picked me up some roses and just showered me with hugs and kisses and love. It felt great.

I got a call later in the week from the surgeon with mostly good news. The margins didn't show any melanoma. There was a term in the pathology report about how my skin is producing cells that could become cancerous and that was scary to hear. My new dermatologist here said not to worry about it, though - it is evident my skin produces moles because I have so many!

I have to go to the dermatologist every 3 months for body scans. Google tells me I am more likely to get melanoma again because the first instance was on my face. I take that with a Google grain of salt.

My new dermatologist is great, very thorough, and did a wonderful job removing my stitches. She did find a couple of moles on my stomach she wants to remove, though, so I'm going next week to get that done. Who knows if I'll ever have another appointment where we don't remove something.

Overall this whole thing has left me pretty unsettled. I feel scared that melanoma is coming for me, that it could eventually kill me, pop up somewhere we can't see it, or so aggressive it grows before we catch it. Something like that. So many doctors along the way have told me how extremely lucky I am. I feel like I dodged a bullet. I don't like thinking about how lucky I was because who gets this lucky more than once?

These are the thoughts that go through my head as I process all of this. I'm sure I'll come to a better conclusion at some point after I get past some of that kind of bad thinking. It has definitely made me focus on all my blessings in life - I have many, especially my Charlie. And to not focus on the things that just aren't that important or are negative influences. After all, life is short.

This has fortunately been a wake up call to my family to be better about getting checked by the dermatologist. My sister Megan has already been and Meredith is going to go twice this year to get checked. I hope anyone that reads this will consider going to get a body scan. Sure, it's invasive and kind of embarrassing to have every square inch of you looked at, but you have to do it. I hope you will.

Thanks for reading all of this long post. It was cathartic for me to write it. One more step in moving on from this and not forgetting it, but not focusing on it so much either. To trust my doctor and the process of getting checked every few months to keep me healthy. And just live my life.

Meanwhile....


While Brad and I were in Puerto Rico, Charlie was being spoiled rotten by his grandparents and aunt and uncle! He seemed to have a great time and happily gave me updates when I called to talk to him. He just loves my parents and they are so good with him. They planned so many fun things for him to do during the week - he was worn out each day, ate a ton and played his little heart out!

Charlie always picks up new words and phrases when he's around my mom. They are really funny. This time he had a few new ones when we got back:
  • It's a Party! He says this while raising his hands in the air. My mom was getting him ready for the birthday party they were having for me and my cousin Jason the night after we returned.
  • Cooooool. Charlie says this JUST like my mom does. It's hilarious. She tried to say that he must have picked that up from TV, not realizing how often she says it. Cooool.
  • She taught him to say Amen at the end of the prayer before dinner. Sometimes, now that we are back home, he likes to repeat Amen over and over for the first 5 or so minutes of dinner.
Besides learning new phrases, Charlie had some play dates, including one to a splash pad (followed by Purple Cow - jealous!) and to a bounce house type place. He also got to go see the Dallas Aquarium with my parents. He watched my dad mow the yard, which is something he loves to watch Brad do when we're home. He also took lots of baths in my parent's big garden tub - he loves that too. It's like a swimming pool to him - he could stay in there all night.

As is their tradition, my parents also took Charlie out for pancakes one morning for breakfast. That's a must-do every visit. Charlie gets so excited when the pancakes come out. My grandfather, Charlie's namesake, was also a huge fan of pancakes.

Charlie also got some time in with his Aunt Megan and Uncle Bruce. They are so great with him and he gets so excited when he sees them. They came over to see him a few times and Charlie even got to go to Megan's office and see where she works. He liked getting on her phone, of course, and having a nice chat with the dial tone. The next time she's interested in hiring a receptionist, I think Charlie's going to want to go for the job.

Charlie's been able to say Bruce since Christmas, but was having a tougher time saying Meggie, which sounded more like Monkey for a while. This visit, though, he got her name just right and said it over and over whenever he saw her. It was really cute. Kind of made up for how much he kept saying Bruce's name at Christmas! Anyways, they are an awesome Aunt and Uncle to Charlie and he is so lucky to have them.
Charlie and Aunt Meggie
Uncle Bruce and Shiner Bock

When we got back from Puerto Rico, it was late at night, so we didn't see Charlie until the morning. It felt like Christmas running into his room to get him. I could have held him all morning. I missed him so much.

That night, my parents threw my cousin and me a birthday party, complete with my dad's amazing enchiladas. My mom got a Nothing Bundt Cake for dessert. Charlie got upset for some reason that we were having enchiladas and not pizza. I think he was overtired at that point. He was, however, a HUGE fan of the cake!
My beautiful mom and sister holding the beautiful cake!

Cake... yummmy

It was a great visit for everyone and I can't say it enough - we were so fortunate to have my parents offer to watch Charlie so we could take our trip and get some sorely needed alone time. My parents rock, basically. :) I think Charlie agrees!
Mowing... or as Charlie says it "mooning"

Monday, July 11, 2011

Puerto Rico

Wowzers, it's been over a month since I last updated the blog! I guess I needed a blogging break. It's also been so busy over here - most of which I'll get caught up and blog about soon.

So on to the best part of being busy - going on vacation! Back in April at my sister's wedding, my mom offered to keep Charlie for a week this summer if Brad and I wanted to get away. For a couple who spends so much of the year apart because of work, this was an amazing offer and we jumped on it!

Since Brad has so many frequent traveler points, we just needed somewhere we could get to on American Airlines that had a Ritz Carlton or Starwood hotels. Hello Puerto Rico! We decided to spend a couple of days in San Juan and then fly to the island of Vieques for 5 more nights.

There are non-stop flights between DFW and San Juan and we got to fly first class, so the flights were easy and pretty fun! Why YES, I WILL take some more champagne - thank you!

The Ritz Carlton in San Juan was really nice, though I wouldn't want to spend an entire week there. It's about a 10 minute cab ride to Old San Juan and is located near the airport on a strip of other big resorts. I think a lot of people stay there before or after they take a cruise from San Juan.

Anyways, for a couple of nights, it was enjoyable. We laid by the pool, tried some new cocktails, I hit up the spa, we played tennis, Brad went to the casino (but don't bring that up if you see him) - and we had some incredible food.

There was an Il Mulino New York in the hotel and it was some of the most amazing Italian food I've had outside of Italy. We ordered a ridiculous brunello and celebrated our first night on vacation with homemade pasta that made me want to cry it was so good.

Can you tell I like to eat?

The second night we went to this crazy restaurant at one of the resorts that was shaped like a clam shell. It was called Perla. Also very good. But crazy because you were sitting inside a clam shell! Listening to techno Caribbean lounge music no less.

We also spent a morning checking out Old San Juan - before any cruise ships docked and it got crowded. It's a cute little area, fun to explore, and plenty of beautiful views of the water. Man it was hot, though. I gave up on having anything resembling cute hair on that very first full day in San Juan.
On Monday (my birthday!) we flew to Vieques on this little connector airline. I was prepared for the plane to be rather small. I was not prepared, however, for it to be THIS small:
Yes, that is Brad sitting next to the PILOT.

All terror aside, it was kind of fun to see the islands and coastline from that vantage point. I was happy to land, though.

On Vieques we were staying at the W Resort that just opened last year. Vieques doesn't have much in terms of tourism just yet because the U.S. Navy had such a huge presence there up until a few years ago. The W is the first major hotel to open there.

Since the airport is a bit, ahem, rustic (no a/c, no concessions, etc.), the W has set up a lounge where you can wait to be driven over to the resort. It was nice. They had ice and air conditioning and even a full bar, if you were so inclined. We were so anxious to get to the resort, though. The ride there took all of 5 minutes from the airport.

When we were checking in they told us that we were getting upgraded to an oceanfront room. I had to try very hard to maintain my composure. When we got to our room, we were greeted with this view:
As soon as the bellman left I think I started screaming with glee! What an incredible birthday!! There were quite a few times during the week when I really just didn't want to leave the room. Just curled up in a lounge chair with a book - perfection.

We got ready for dinner at the resort and headed over for drinks on the porch overlooking the ocean. And yes, our outfits were color coordinated that night. Purple is the new blue.
We had dinner at the resort's signature restaurant, Mix on the Beach, and had a beautiful ocean view from our table.
I had lobster curry and Brad had seafood paella and we were just stuffed and happy afterwards. We walked back to the room listening to the ocean and just soaking it all in.

When we got back to the room I found champagne, chocolate covered strawberries and some birthday dessert that Brad had ordered up for us. So romantic! So thoughtful! So delicious I forgot how stuffed I was and made room!
Seriously, what an incredible birthday. There is nothing more I could have asked for... except maybe a hug and kiss from Charlie :).

Over the next few days we did a lot of this:
Some of this:
And enjoyed views like this:
We also rented a car for a few days and explored the island. There are two little towns and lots of beaches to check out. The towns were pretty rough around the edges but the beaches were amazing. Almost empty and pristine water.

The island also has a lot of horses. They just kind of wander around. Some of the local kids make harnesses out of ropes and ride them bareback. The horses do not appear to mind this.
One really exciting thing we did while we were on Vieques was to kayak and swim in the island's bioluminescent bay. It is filled with these single cell plankton that glow when they are disturbed. Everywhere you move in the water, all along the sides of the boats and even on the crests of the little waves in the bay was this soft light. It was a sight I won't ever forget.

On top of that, we were in the middle of this gorgeous bay at night and you could look up and see so many stars. The sky was so clear; it was stunning.

I wish I had some pictures to show. One man on our tour had a waterproof camera. He also has Brad's email address, but we haven't heard from him yet with the pictures. I have my fingers crossed we will.

When we weren't driving around and exploring, we were usually at the pool or the beach. We'd have lunch by the pool most days and it was so relaxing. They had the most delicious hamburger at the resort - gruyere cheese, grilled jalapeno and diced avocado. I think Brad ate one every day.

Oh my gosh, will I STOP talking about the food already?? Hope nobody is reading this while they're hungry.

We also played tennis each morning before it got too hot. That was fun. It had been too long since I'd played and I really do miss it. Felt nice to run around in between all the eating we were doing!

For my birthday Brad treated me to a spa package at the resort, which I enjoyed on our last full day there. It was absolutely heavenly. I felt like a very spoiled mommy all week long.

Mostly, though, it was just nice to go somewhere together, talk, relax and just be ourselves. That probably sounds weird, but we get so wrapped up in our stressful lives that it's easy to forget why we fell in love in the first place. We had a whole week to focus on each other and that's why it really felt like a second honeymoon to me. And Brad really made it all very romantic.

I did miss my munchkin quite a bit while we were there, though. We called and talked to him and my mom each day, just to see how he was doing. I'll write up another post on that because he had quite a few adventures of his own! I was so happy to get home to him, even if it meant leaving paradise. The big hug I got the morning after we got home felt even better than looking at this view. I mean, I'm not saying it wasn't close, but Charlie wins!
Bye Vieques! Thanks for an awesome time! xoxo