Friday, January 29, 2010

Hello World

Just checking in. This is sort of Nicole Version 2.0 because the last few years have just been pain, pain, pain - kind of like a yapping dog.

I went in to my surgery a little hastier than planned as the person scheduled before me showed up with a hacking cough/flu thing. So they wanted us to mad dash-it to to surgery ASAP. In fact, I was on a list there labeled ASAP. Pretty cool.

Leaving was hard. It was so sudden and the boys really fell apart. Leaving a house full of sobbing, alone children isn't a nice feeling as a mom. Leaving a house of sobbing kids with the new Super Mario Bros was only slightly better. Thank God for modern technology. We called our dear friends from the freeway and they jumped in their car and headed out to rescue my boys. They even took them on a road trip. Love you both!

I got to the hospital a weepy mess and then cried my way through the insurance and payment part. As soon as I changed into my gown though I was fine. Little known Nicole fact: I do all my suffering up front. So if an intolerable oaf is coming to dinner I'll rant and rave all day but then when they arrive I genuinely extend my love and hospitality. Same with bad news. I'll sit down and cry hard. Then get up and get to work. A lot of people I know are the other way around. They shove stuff down and it keeps coming up at them for years. I like my way better. So...

Once I was in my gown, hair net, socks etc. the parade of med folk was truly non-stop for the next hour. I met everyone and I think all their distant cousins. The only interesting bits was that my needle man who did the IV was named Dr. Sharp. Love that! Also, I really failed a lot of neuro tests on my left side. Among them, I had little leg and foot strength left (no wonder I fall all the time), I couldn't feel my big toe etc.

Then I had surgery. Don't remember that. Thankfully.

I woke up in the recovery room feeling my toes wiggle against the sheets. Did you hear that? FEELING MY TOES!!!!! I did a quick check to make sure everything worked and could feel sensations like the sheets, tubes etc. All good. Then Josh, the nice recovery nurse, came over and we chatted. After a bit I asked why I wasn't a loopy drooling mess. He explained that I got a type of anesthesia that is completely out of your system minutes after they stop administering it. Neat. I was totally me about fifteen minutes after surgery.

Since I was so alert the neuros re-did the strength tests and my strength was 100% restored. That along with the feeling in my toe was big news as it usually takes a few weeks before the swelling goes down to regain your losses from nerve damage. In short, within a half hour of surgery I got back five years of things I lost. Impressive. So impressive that it’s going to be part of an academic paper delivered later this year.

There’s a lot more of the story to tell but I’m really tired so I’ll post a Part Two later on.

Thanks for the incredible outpouring of love the last week. I am beyond grateful.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Glimpse into our Life

Dear Trenton, Avery and Brayden,

Thank you so much for being big for me while I’m in the hospital. I know it’s hard to behave all grown up when you are still a kid but these few days will give you a great opportunity to realize how great you guys are at taking care of yourselves.

I’m sure this is going to bug you, but I want you to all clean up together for each meal. I know, that’s not fair if you had an easy meal this week but we’re going to treat this time like party night or a special occasion. Everyone works together and it all gets done. Trenton, you have an extra job of checking around the sink - all four sides - make sure it’s clean where the grout is. That gets super-gross and I don’t want to go through surgery only to get some food born illness. Just kidding, but still.

Every morning get up, make your bed and have a shower. Check the floor of your closet and the floor in the bathroom for clothes and towels - not cool.

Eat breakfast and clean it up. Remember, no Dutchies or anything scary unless an adult is present. I left a list on the white board, cereal is okay, just not everyday. Don’t forget there are bagels in the freezer. Thaw them the night before. Also, remember to refill the butter dish so it spreads nicely.

If Dad is home he can decide about school; but if he’s not, do Reading, Math and Spelling. Brayden, since you’re quite slow (we need to work on this) you can skip one subject per day; either spelling or math. But if you skip math, you need to skip spelling the next day and so on. Trenton, please help Brayden. Brayden, please let Trenton help you. I want you to do school on Saturday and Sunday if Dad isn’t home. Not because I’m mean (okay, sometimes I am *grin*) but because if you just play all day you’ll get bored.

There is a list of lunch choices on the whiteboard. Try to have lunch around 12:00. On Friday have grilled cheese and tomato soup. Add leftover noodles from the fridge if you like. Offer Mrs. Bellows some Beef and Barley soup. On Saturday have beef barley soup or leftovers, same or ramen on Sunday. I’ll be sad if the soup goes bad because it was awesome and a lot of work. Make sure you eat it.

After cleaning up lunch, doing your chores, laundry and shoveling if it needs it, you can play board games, Magic, D&D, do crafts, bake etc. until dinner at 5:00. At 3:00 you can watch the Tivo or a movie if you’re tired of playing. You can also go sledding if an adult is home. Sorry, but no sledding if you are by yourselves.

You can have a few snacks from the cupboard. Trenton, go easy on the candy. Not more than 4 Halloween sized per day. Use good judgement.

At 5:00 have dinner:

Friday: Sloppy Joes (freezer), rolls (freezer), fried onions and tater tots.
Saturday: Party night
Sunday: Stuffed Shells: Put into a pan that you sprayed with cooking spray and bake at 350 for a half hour or until warm and bubbly. Cover with foil if it gets too brown.
Monday: Corn Chowder with rice (freezer) thaw, warm up and eat with chips, salsa, lime, sour cream etc.

Clean up dinner together and then you can play video games until bed time at 7:30 PM (except party night of course). You can have microwave popcorn too.

Get ready for bed, brush your teeth, Trenton use your face cream. Pray together.

You can visit each other until 8:30 PM, lights out at 9:00 PM, tapes off at 9:30 PM. Don’t mess around on this. I’ll know!

Of course, none of this matters if Dad’s home and he decides to keep you up all night watching movies and ordering a pizza. This list is just for when you are by yourselves.

I’ve given Avery the role of “Mom” while I’m not home. He’s the one that worries about everyone, knows how to cook, keeps an eye on the clock etc. so he’s best for the job. Avery will make sure you eat three times a day and the dog gets fed. He’ll also make sure the laundry is done before computers come out.

Dad is going to be lost and sad without me. Cuddle him lots and don’t give him too much of a hard time. If you can’t sleep or are worried, wake him up. It takes a few minutes but he’ll be really nice once he knows what’s going on.

I love you boys more than anything in the world and hate that we are going to be apart for a few days. It’ll be over and I’ll be home before you know it and then we can all work together to get me better. Think of all the movies and goofing off we’ll be doing until Valentines Day :-)

Each of you is amazingly precious to me. I am being brave and doing this in part for you so that we can all have a lot more fun. Some things I want to do once I’m all better is to go to Moab, ride in a boat, visit Europe, go on lots of roller coasters again, visit Antelope Island, visit Yellowstone for the weekend - it’s going to be so much fun.

I hope we can all think about the good things to help us through the sad parts.

All my love,


I check in to the hospital tomorrow at 9:00 AM. Chris will twitter and Facebook that I'm okay once the surgery is through.

Saturday, January 16, 2010


Yep. I made a Halloween decoration. Why? I'm not sure other than I have my box of Halloween crafts out as I've been sifting through them. I guess it spilled over into my creative life.

When I saw this week's sketch from 2S4Y I immediately thought bookmark or wall hanging so I kept that in mind while creating. I also had the Tuesday Trigger in the forefront of my thoughts and I set out to make an Eerie Elegance project for the Macabre Monday challenge. Somehow, completely without intention, I combined all three:



This wall hanging features Bombshell Stamps: A Pirate's Life, Holiday Accessories, Sacred Heart

Today, pain and mobility wise is the worst day I've had yet. It's scary. I feel like I'm holding on for dear life. Only six days until surgery :-)

Friday, January 15, 2010

It's Tiki Time!

The lovely Shannon sent me these cute, cute Tiki Party stamps a few months back and I was "saving" them for when I next have a luau... sorta silly, no? As much as I would like to limbo and imbibe in fruity drinks with good friends, now is not the time but I can do some stamping now.

This sketch is by the lovable Kathi. It was intended to showcase inchies but alas, I am inchie-less so I did it Myyyyyyy Waaaaay (said in my best Sid Vicious voice)


I decorated it inside and out "From Start to Finish" as another entry in the Moxie Fab Challenge. I'm totally having a blast with this one.

Sorry the photos are a bit mangy. I'm in a ton-o-pain right now so taking 57 shots to get the perfect one was out of the question.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Love Kills

I thought it would be fun to make an anti-valentine card today after yesterday's lovey-dovey one.

My inspiration was the Etsy Inspired Challenge this week. I chose this gorgeous "MOMMY SERIES The Heather Headband" as my jumping off point:

And made this card:

Here's the inside (to meet the Moxie Fab Start to Finish Challenge):

This is also for the current Bombshell Stamps challenge to make a Valentine or Anti-Valentine card.

Thank for popping by.

P.S. I'm super-excited about making an all card stock card. That was a good challenge for me.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

In the Mood for Love

I took a little time this afternoon to enter a few challenges. It felt *SO* good to create something again. Since there were a number of compatible challenges going on right now I decided to combine.

This card is finished inside and out to fulfill the requirements for the Moxie Fab start to Finish Challenge. Have you seen the new Card Creations? Oh, my. I'm drooling and ever so tempted.

It also met the color challenge going on at Embellish Magazine. I went very light on the black but I think it's okay as one of the examples did the same. I'm less confident about using cream as a neutral. Hope it's okay. *crosses fingers*

There is a Going Girly Challenge over at Cupcake Craft Challenge (ribbon, bling etc.) that this fits too.

And my beloved Bombshell Stamps are holding a Valentine (or anti-Valentine) challenge this month.



Thanks so much for stopping by :-)

A- Z Activities

Thanks everyone for the support yesterday. I wasn't sure if I should post my feelings splayed naked like that but I also wanted to keep this blog real and right now everything isn't moonlight and rainbows.

A-Z has been awesome. A lot of days I've wanted to sit still and hurt but A-Z has got me engaged. To be honest, I had written myself a pass until "C" fortnight because of the whole back surgery business but I'm terribly glad I didn't use it.

Here are some of our A-Zs so far:

Antiques: We went to the coolest antique store I ever saw. It was very Indiana Jones with towering piles of chairs at least 20 feet high (they looked like they'd been pushed together with a front-end loader), fertility gods, animal heads, pieces of docks... it was AWESOME! I wanted a little bit of everything. We bought the neatest drawer insert. It looked like a modern clipboard but came from inside a huge credenza type of cabinet like a business or post office would use. I'll post pics once I take them :-)

Armature: We made clay creatures with wire skeletons. The boys made up wild tales about each of their creatures and maimed them accordingly.

Arranged Furniture: I'm third shortest or third tallest depending on how you look at it. With all these big people in my house now, our little couch didn't fit everyone. If we wanted to watch TV we'd have to move everything and it was really annoying. But, due to the budget, we don't have spending money for new couches. So I took the couch from our formal living room and made a cute U-shaped family room and then moved our big dining room table (Chris had been using it as an office desk) into the former living room making a dining room. The old office now houses our chairs and is a lovely sitting/reading room. We're all pretty thrilled with the changes.

Altered Item: We went to Re-Store which is the thrift shop run by Habitat for Humanity. It's a wonderful, dangerous store. I bought a selection of drawer fronts for a dollar each and used three of them to rescue to a favorite old print of mine that has suffered some injustices over the years. I really like the effect and we now have a large piece of wall art for three dollars. Yay for Mod Podge.

And finally, unrelated to A-Z, I was reading the Oh, Fransson blog and decided to dip my toe in joining their Quilt-A-Long. Basically everyone works on a similar quilt at the same pace. I used to quilt about twelve years ago. Then as I was finishing the binding of a very time consuming Bargello Quilt, my house burned down. I never felt the urge to quilt again. This Paintbox Quilt is tempting me though. I made a sample set to see if I want to take a crack at it. I'm still on the fence. Fortunately, quilt squares wait happily in zip-loc bags so I can come back to this later if I don't do it now.

Well, I think it's safe to say I've talked your ear off. Hope you join us doing A-Z. You can start anytime.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Icky Emotional Post

Ten more days.

Ten days from now I'll be unconscious while a surgeon snips my spinal cord freeing it. While I look forward to it's emancipation, I'm afraid. And in pain. And thoroughly overwhelmed.

There is so much that I cannot do right now. The normal part of me wants to get everyone ready, put meals in the freezer, plan lessons, spend some outrageously romantic evenings with my husband. Fill everyone up with love so come what may, they'll get through while I lie perfectly still, heal, learn to function again.

But instead I can't do anything. I wake up with a handful of medicine under my chin and my husband's gentle prodding to take it, it'll make me feel better. I hurt so bad that simple things like walking across the room require courage. I don't sleep yet I fall asleep all the time.

All the things I like about myself are stripped away right now.

Normally I'm useful, competent, innovative, creative, fun.

Now people wince when they see me walk. The kids eyes fill with tears when one look shows them that I was crying the whole time they were outside.

I can't ready, prepare and bolster. I can sit and think fuzzy thoughts and count down the days on the calendar.

Monday, January 4, 2010

A is for Apples (and Anti-Emetics)

Just thought I'd poke my head in and say hello and Happy New Year.

Last week I announced the return of the A-Z project and invited you and all your friends to join me. The response was incredible. We have over fifty people signed up to our Ning Communityy and several more who are playing but haven't signed in yet. Wow.

New Year's Eve was the most painful day of my life - and I've given birth three times, without any pain meds with one of those babies being 8 pounds 13 ounces. The doctor warned me that my back problems would degenerate very quickly but I wasn't expecting something quite so severe. I couldn't even sit up in bed until Chris came home to take care of me.

New Year's Day was painful but I was so thrilled to be out of bed and on my feet that it didn't get me down.

We started our A-Z by making Apple Crisp together:

It was delicious:

After dinner I got it in my head that we needed to see if there was a floor under the island in our kitchen. I know, crazy, right? I really want a free standing island not the gigantic lower cabinet monstrosity we have now but I've been worried that Alpine in their cheap-bastardly-evilness might have not put a floor under the cabinet. Chris lovingly disassembled the island and just as we had pots, pans, bottles, board and nails all over the house I started throwing up.

Yes, Chris and the boys unending stomach flu finally caught up to me. I'm not surprised. I have been up nursing someone's poor health every night since mid-December, that takes it's toll. So I was sick repeatedly until six the next morning and have felt really bloody awful ever since. This illness is a doozy. I more fully understand how my bottomless pit of a thirteen year old is still sniffing at toast a week later.

But, to count my blessings, I was able to hold down my meds and sips of juice within 24 hours. The rest will work itself out.

These last three weeks before surgery are going to be a rough road. Thankfully I've got the Lord, a loving family, good friends, A-Z and a buoyant spirit to get me through.

Okay, I'm REALLY tired now. Back to bed for me.