Friday, November 26, 2010

"F" to the 4th degree

....give thanks to the Lord, for He is good...

This year Ben was actually off on Thanksgiving, so we decided to go home! We left Wednesday afternoon and the traffic was craaaazy! Thankfully we made it safe and sound and relatively on time!

Thursday we had a day full of family, football, food and fun!  

First stop was Ben's family's Thanksgiving lunch! I was looking forward to this because we haven't been up for his family's T'giving or Christmas in a couple years, and they're always fun! We were kind of late due to the rain, so we got there just in time to eat! I guess we actually timed it perfectly...ha! B's cousin is a chef at the Maxwell House hotel (fancy schmancy) in Nashville, and he made the yummiest deviled eggs ever! Oh and they were way cute too so that's a bonus! Every dish was delicious and I was bummed I couldn't eat more!

the yummy spread

cute and tasty (plus the neat flower he made from a Dicon (sp?)


After we stuffed ourselves silly, the boys (both old and young) headed outside to play football and the ladies all hung out and looked at photos from over the years. I decided to check on the boys and I think B was having more fun than the little kids! 

Top pictures: B's other cousin's little boy wanted to play too! B would throw him the ball etc, and G (boy) was actually quite good! After they were done, G kept asking Ben to "play football"

Bottom: B's cousin D couldn't help himself and tried to tackle B. Well, after a few minutes of this annoyance, B handed me his shirt and I knew D was in for it! B "tackled" him, but thankfully wasn't to hard on the kid!

After Troy Aikman B decided to call it quits, we watched a little bit of the game and then decided it was time to head out to our next destination! 

We left his Aunt and Uncle's house and headed to our friend Justin and Sheena's! They were over achievers and already had their Christmas tree up and decked out! We spent an hour with them just hanging out, watching the game and catching up on life. We had to then head to our final destination!

Our third and final stop was my parents house. We arrived just in time to help set the table and watch the game (sensing a theme here).  My nephew colored pilgrims and Indians for our seating cards! He was very thoughtful about where he put everyone and was offended when I tried to move our seats (I quickly put my card back where it was)!
Will and Mom hard at work coloring

the boys watching football

It was time to eat and I couldn't wait to try the fried turkey! It was yummy, as was everything else!

custom name place cards by Will!

yummy fried turkey

We had a blast being with family and friends this year and have so much to be thankful for!

He is good!

Monday, November 22, 2010


I still can't fathom it's already Thanksgiving and soon will be Christmas! I feel like we just took our tree down.

A neat blog is hosting "12 days of Christmas" and has a different topic each day. Today's is (you guessed it) about traditions!

Our traditionsn have obviously changed since we're now adults, but I wouldn't change a thing:

-Christmas Eve we eat dinner at my parents house with just our family (and my aunt/uncles if they're in town). It usually consist of pork or beef tenderloin and some yummy sides...anything but ham or turkey since we've had our fill!

After dinner we go to 7 o'clock mass, (it used to be midnight back before my nephews were born!) and celebrate the true reason of Christmas.

After mass we head back to my parents house to have dessert, cocktails (yummy chocolate martini or adult peppermint hot cocoa) and open our presents (we may do this in the morning, just depends).
2009, after Mass

first Christmas together...2002

Christmas day we wake up to see what Santa brought my nephews! Afterward, we eat a yummy breakfast (biscuits and gravy, the works!) and stuff ourselves!

We then head over to Ben's parents house to spend the day with them. We'll do our gifts, eat and just hang out and enjoy family time.
(I've got to better about taking photos at his parents house.)

I love this time of year!


Looking back to the year 1984:

President Reagan was in the White House

Michael Jackson won 8 Grammys

The Cosby Show, Murder She wrote and Night Court were popular TV shows (still watch these!)

You could see a movie for a whopping $3.36  (compared to 10.50)

You could buy a new car for less than 9k


Yours truly was born and the world would never be the same (ha!)!!

November 22 fell on Thanksgiving Day that year, and of course I "ruined" it! My mom was at work and wasn't expecting me for a few more weeks, but I wanted to make my debut! Thankfully she's a nurse and was already at the hospital! My Mom's side of the family was preparing for the Thanksgiving feast when they received the call. Apparently in the mayhem of getting to the hospital to see me, the turkey got left in the oven and it practically burnt to a crisp. So yes...I "ruined" Thanksgiving! I'm still shocked that I'm not crying on some therapist couch right now.

Also, I ruined my brother's first and only hunting experience. Oh well...he's ruined lots of stuff for me...ha!

It has been a lovely, low key day! We're planning on celebrating Wednesday when we go to Nashville to see our families, so I'm excited!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

day 5: at sea

The day we were both dreading, our final day of our wonderful cruise. All good things have to end I guess. Thankfully this day was at sea, so we were able to relax and get one last day of sun and fun!

We decided on eating breakfast in the main dining room! I had yummy pancakes and B really enjoyed his egg white omelet! They seat you with others which we didn't mind. Our breakfast table mates weren't all that interesting, so that was kinda a bummer.

After breakfast, we headed to the shops to check and see if there was anything we had to have. Thankfully there wasn't a thing we wanted or needed! We then hunted for our pictures they took through out the week (we tried to avoid most though). The formal night picture turned out nicely, but I didn't feel like paying $20 for one!

We then headed up to the Solarium and relaxed in the hot tub. Since the Solarium is adult-only, it is quite peaceful! We relaxed and people watched for a while, then headed to the main pool to check out the "Parade of Flags". Some staff members had the flags from their countries and they all paraded around the pool deck. Then, the cruised director played songs from each (most) country represented and the staff member danced! It was neat to see how many flags were represented.


born in the USA...

It was then of course time for lunch! We ate and then decided to read/soak up sun out on our balcony. After filling our bellies, we opted for a nap before dinner.

this is the life

Dinner was bittersweet because it was honestly really nice getting to know the others at our table. Since it was our last night, I went all out and ordered two appetizers, and a really yummy Mahi Mahi! The dessert the last night was the best yet...chocolate cake type cookie. Yuuum! I tried to convince Harish to come home with us and serve us 3 course meals, but he declined. Bummer!


table #86...great group!

After dinner, we headed to our favorite spot...the Champagne bar! Guilherme was already prepared with our drinks. Ben and I met an interesting couple, so we ended up staying a lot longer than planned. The gentleman we met had a lot in common with B: same birthday (different year), both Police officers, and a few other things. Quite weird! As the lady and I were talking, I looked over and saw Guilherme creating us a napkin rose! He gave me the rose and then to include Ben, made him a "tux" shirt out of paper! I was impressed!

rose from my favorite bartender!
B wanted to try his luck at the casino (with a set amount to waste spend), so we headed over before we had to call it a night. He and our table mates showed me how to play "craps"! I got to throw the dice and apparently made everyone some money...beginners luck ya know! One guy even gave me 10 bucks as a "thank you"! We don't normally gamble, so it was kinda fun!

We had to finally call it a night and go back to the cabin to pack and get some sleep. We had to get up early and off the ship (we carried our own luggage) because our flight was somewhat early.

It was truly a blast and we had the time of our lives! We worked our butts off (especially B) to pay for this cruise, so it was rewarding to get away and not worry about a thing! It was especially nice paying cash for it and not having the dreaded bill when you return!

We can't wait to book our next adventure...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Good news. Bad News.

I have "moderate Mitral Valve disease". Basically my mitral valve doesn't work properly. I was diagnosed at age 13 and have seen the Cardiologist practically every year since.

Today, I went to my annual visit with my wonderful Cardiologist. I was expecting her to check me out, schedule my echo (ultrasound of heart) and answer my questions just like years prior. So, I was quite surprised with some news I received.

Good news first:

-I received the "all clear" to start a family (with proper monitoring if/when I get pregnant)
-I was informed that my condition is not genetic, so our child(ren) will not inherit this from me! Thanks be to God!

Bad news:

- I'll have to have another dreaded TEE probably sooner rather than later. I'm not thrilled at all about this because it was just plain awful!

- My valve has begun to leak.
- I'll need to go to either the Mayo Clinic or The Cleveland Clinic to meet with a specialist this Spring.
- I'll need valve repair (or replacement) with in the next 5 years.

If your doctor suggests surgery, there are two main options, repair or replacement of the mitral valve. Both valve repair and replacement require open heart surgery. Both procedures require significant recovery time.
  • Valve repair. Mitral valve repair is a surgery that preserves your own valve. For most people with mitral valve prolapse, this is the preferred surgical treatment to correct your condition.
    Your mitral valve consists of two triangular-shaped flaps of tissue called leaflets. The leaflets of the mitral valve connect to the heart muscle through a ring called the annulus. The surgeon can modify the original valve (valvuloplasty) to eliminate backward blood flow. Surgeons also can repair the valve by reconnecting valve leaflets or by removing excess valve tissue so that the leaflets can close tightly. Sometimes repairing the valve includes tightening or replacing the ring around the valve (annulus). This is called an annuloplasty. It is important to ensure that your surgeon is experienced in performing mitral valve repair.
  • Valve replacement. Valve replacement is done when valve repair isn't possible. In valve replacement surgery, the damaged mitral valve is replaced by an artificial (prosthetic) valve. The two types of artificial valves are mechanical and tissue.
    Mechanical valves may last a long time. However, if you have a mechanical valve, you must use an anticoagulant medication, such as warfarin (Coumadin), for the rest of your life to prevent blood clots from forming on the valve. If a blood clot forms on the valve and breaks free, it could travel to your brain and cause a stroke.
    Tissue valves are made from animal tissue such as a pig's heart valve. These kinds of valves are called bioprostheses. They may wear out over time and need replacement. However, an advantage of the tissue valve is that you don't have to use long-term anticoagulant medication.

I never imagined that I would even be hearing the words "open heart surgery" before I was even 30 years old. This is crazy. I'm not even sure how to react. I know it's possible the Specialist will tell me that I can wait til later, so I'm hopeful.

I'm just trying to remember the verse Jeremiah 29:11....God has a plan so I'll leave it up to Him!

Monday, November 15, 2010

day 4: Costa Maya

We arrived in Costa Maya on schedule, but thanks to Hurricane Richard we were unable to dock right away. They had covered the pier with rubber tires (I believe) in order to help prevent damage if the hurricane hit. The Captain graciously gave us an extra hour to stay in port since it took so long to dock!

massive waves

After we finally docked, B and I headed out for our all day "excursion"! [I am a researcher and in my research I read amazing reviews of this resort in CM. I checked it out and we agreed to book it!] We followed the directions on the e-mail and were off to the taxi!

After a pretty lengthy (for such a small place)and bumpy (hardly any paved roads) bus ride, we arrived at the beautiful Mayan Chan Resort! We were immediately greeted by the friendly staff and escorted to our private area. As soon as we got to our spot, we were brought fresh fruit and a "welcome" drink! We relaxed on our beach bed for a while before we decided to explore!

our palapa

We explored the beach: Costa Maya's beaches have "turtle grass" and since there was a hurricane in the area the turtle grass was all over. Turtle grass is indigenous and protected, so you can't remove it unless it washes up on the beach.  The water was too rough to do any snorkeling or kayak fishing and the wind was strooong!
told ya it was quite windy

turtle grass

our ship in the distance

After exploring, we headed to the bar and mingled with the other guests and staff. We met an interesting family from Florida: Mr. Joe (in his late 80's) and his 8, yes EIGHT, sons and their families. They were beyond interesting and a lot of fun!
Yugo, our bartender!

Mr. Joe!

Funny story: Mr. Joe came to the bar (he had a stroke so needs a lot of help) and asked the bartender his name:
Yugo: "my name is Yugo"
Mr.  Joe: "Yugo'ing crazy"

Mr. Joe's shirt was spot on! (Sarcasm is one of my many talents)

Soon, it was time for lunch! We feasted on chicken, steak, and sea bass tacos, guacamole and chips! Let me tell ya, they were beyond delicious! 

the sweet cook! I told her she's welcome in Tn anytime!

After eating and yet more drinking, we continued mingling until one of the staffers decided we needed to play a ocean relay race. It was a lot of fun, but of course, B and I lost! I blame it on the Havana Lights!

the group about to do a shot shot shot (inside joke)

just hanging out enjoying my frozen havanah lights

We decided to try out the kayaks, and I guess I wasn't doing it right so B kicked me off! oops! I felt better though because not 5 minutes later he was off too! I'm telling ya that water was really wavy! We immediately left the kayaks behind and took our defeated selves to the bar! The entire group (sans Mr. Joe) decided to do a toast to the great day!
(pictures are still undeveloped on the underwater camera)

Not long after, it was time to head back to our ship! We really did not want to leave because the hospitality and location were superb!
Two thumbs up for Maya Chan!
 He was the first blond haired, blue eyed Mexican I've met! He was born and raised in Mexico but his parents are Californians!
Ben talking to the staff before we left!

When we arrived to the pier, we ran into our tablemates from Alaska! We hung out with them for a while and enjoyed the beautiful sunset on the pier. Thankfully, we made it actually on the ship in time! :)

Shellie and Stan from Alaska...great people!


We were wiped from the long day of sun, food, and drinks. We ordered room service and went to bed. I missed lobster night and dancing under the stars, so you know I was tired (and truth be told, sick).

Ben and I cannot wait to head back to Costa Maya and Maya Chan!! Next time though, no mas tequila...ha! If you're in the area, definitely check 'em out!

Up next: final day at sea