Saturday, July 30, 2016

Our trip to the coast

Today we went out to visit the Oregon coast. I was very excited about the prospect of going there because I love seeing the coast. It’s such an awesome place! We have not been there for years. I would say it’s been about 6 or 7 years since we last went there. Jesse was only 2 years old! So I was glad to go.

When we went last time, we saw the Heceta Head lighthouse (we didn’t tour it) as well as the Sea Lion Caves. We didn’t see those things this times. It would have been nice to see the lighthouse, but maybe some other time.

But we still visited one spot where a picture was taken of me and the kids: A large steel anchor in Old Town Florence. Jen didn’t want to be in that picture this time so it was just Jesse.

My back had gone out on me last weekend and today it was still stiff and sore. Even so, I was NOT going to let this ruin our plans to go to the coast! I just took an extra Ibuprofen and slapped on the brace.

I had planned to bring a book along to read during the drive there and/or back, but the trip was so scenic, I never touched the book! I just enjoyed seeing everything! All the land, the mountains, the farms, the trees and the cliffs. We drove up a mountain to get there and it was just beautiful scenery. I looked at the towering trees on our route and told hubby I wished this was our view every day! (After seeing the coast, I wish that was our view, too!) It was also cool going through a lit tunnel.

When we finally got there, we had trouble finding a parking spot, so we had to park somewhere near the harbor. It was VERY windy!! I was glad that I brought Jesse and my jackets. It was rough terrain, though. It wasn’t so much the sand that was the problem but going up and down steep hills. My balance is not very good so I had to be careful with those. I was not looking forward to that, but my resolve was stronger than my fear. I thought ‘Challenge accepted!’ and tackled those hilly areas all the same. Sometimes I fell and sometimes I got back up okay or my husband had to help me back up. Even with a large walking stick he found for me, there were still times that I fell. But I always got back up. I made it okay. There was also sand blowing around us that it went into our mouths, eyes and ears!

We went to another, less hilly area and loved exploring there. Jen and Jesse grabbed sticks and wrote things in the sand. For a while, we were the only people there, so we had total freedom exploring the whole place ourselves. At one point, I noticed a rocky area in the far off distance, with the river behind it. I wanted to go check out that view! But it meant going over shallow areas of water and lots of mud. The ground was not very stable. I told my husband about it and he said it might not be a good idea. I’d have to go across the water, which was not very shallow, and all that mud and wet sand. My shoes would end up being pulled right off. It was dangerous. He left me there mulling over those thoughts. I REALLY wanted to go out there, but I didn’t want to fall in the water or mud. I didn’t mind getting my shoes wet and muddy – heck, been there with that rafting trip I went on with Jesse!! – but I was worried about the mud. Specifically, sinking in the mud. But then I noticed there were footprints leading that way. Footprints of other people who went across the water to that area. That did it! I decided, If they can do it, I can, too! So I gripped my walking stick and crossed the most smallest, shallowest area of the water. I had to be careful because the mud was slippery. And at one point, I really did start to sink in the mud! (Forget about sinking in quicksand, people. It’s sinking in mud you gotta worry about!) But I realized that if I kept moving, and moved quickly, I would not sink in the mud. Yes, it WAS like my shoes were being pulled off as I moved, but I kept moving, anyway! I was not going to stop. I was not going to be deterred.

And apparently, I was not going to be alone, either. I turned to see that Jesse had joined me. I looked past him to see that my husband was standing on dry land, watching us.

So Jesse and I worked together to make it across. But before we got to our destination, I noticed something in the sand and dropped my stick in astonishment. There were oyster shells all around! And clam shells, too! Wow! It was so cool! So Jesse and I gathered the oyster and clam shells that we liked best. Then we continued on our journey!

Further along the route, I was glad to be on sand again and off the mud. But … I was STILL sinking! This time in wet sand! I was astonished my feet went so deeply into the sand. I even slammed my walking stick down and it went quite a ways down into that sand! Again, I had to keep moving and going fast. I warned Jesse about the “sinking sand” and told him to keep going. Eventually, we got out of THAT and were on dry sand again. And I walked closer to where this area came to an end and met more water. We were a ways up. If I wanted to go all the way over to the wall of rocks to see the river, we would have to climb down and go over more water. That water did not look shallow, either. It looked pretty deep. So I decided we had gone far enough and would just enjoy this view. Jesse stayed on the sandy cliff to look out at the water and I took a picture of an area nearby that was circled with rocks.

Then we turned around and headed back. On the way back, Jesse fell in the water but we made it back across okay. We were not hurt. We were wet, muddy and covered with sand, but still smiling from our little adventure. It was so AWESOME! I am so glad I ignored fear and warnings and went through with it, anyway. I was stoked! I did it! I made it okay! That was just so cool.

After that, we went to Old Town Florence to walk around and visit shops. Our first stop was a bookstore called Books N Bears, and Jen went nuts over a book she found there. She actually bought two in that series. I wanted to buy a particular book but it was too pricey so I noted the title and author of the book to look for later. It was a really cool bookstore, though! When we were at one shop, the lights flickered then the power went out! We had to leave the store. All the other owners were outside of their places of business too and I figured this meant their power was out too. Jennifer listened in on what everybody was saying and she told us the whole block was without power. Still, we were able to buy saltwater taffy (something every visitor to Old Town Florence MUST get!!) and also a couple other things. I bought sea salt caramel (so good!!!) as well as some chocolate. I also wanted to buy chocolate covered bacon, but because the power was out, they could not sell it because they could not weigh the candy for pricing. Still, Jesse was able to buy himself a souvenir.

At that point, we wanted to get something to eat. We had a short lunch in the car when we arrived (Lunchables), but it was some time since then and we were hungry. But the problem was, we could not go to a restaurant there to eat at because we would be paying with our credit card, and we couldn’t do that if the power was out. So we decided to drive around and find some other place to eat. We ended up at a restaurant called Clawsons Wheelhouse. While there, I got to try oysters for the first time. That was an interesting taste! Jen tried clam chowder for the first time and loved it. I also had clam chowder. (They had really good clam chowder! When I tasted it, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, this stuff is so good!!!’) I also had the salmon for dinner and it was delicious. The service there was excellent and we really enjoyed our dining experience there.

Our ride back to Eugene was just as enjoyable as it had been on our way there. I didn’t get any souvenirs but I DID have my treasures! (And the local newspaper!). That was good enough for me. Oh, and the taffy, too.

As I type this, I realize I have sand behind my ear. I had washed off when I got home but that sand is hard to get rid of. But you know what? I am okay with that. I will fall asleep tonight thinking of beachtime adventures, clashing waves, flying sand and views of a magnificent river.

Here are pictures I took from the trip (and also a couple my husband took).   

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Enjoying what is left of our summer

Last night, I had this dream where it was my son’s first day at school. A friend and her son were hanging out with us on the day before and she was asking me if I had everything ready for the new school year. I was surprised this particular friend was in the dream, because our boys do not go to the same school. But anyway, we were just talking about being ready for tomorrow. Well, the next day, I overslept and was lagging behind on getting my son ready to go, so he ended up being late for school.

I woke up from this dream confused as to why I even had it in the first place. I wanted to cry out, “FOR CRYING OUT LOUD, IT’S STILL SUMMER!”

My kids don’t go back to school until September. (For one of my sisters in California, her kids go back August 1st.) So we are still pretty much enjoying as much of our summer funtime and being lazy and doing other things that we can. We are NOT focused on the whole “back to school” thing YET. We are still enjoying summer!

Yes, we do have a list of what the kids will need when they go back to school. Yes, we have been buying items on that list here and there. Yes, I DID enroll my daughter into her new school, and she did select the classes she wanted. Yes, we have penciled in the exact date we all switch back to the “school year schedule.”

But, for the most part, we are still enjoying our summer. We still eat whatever whenever we want to. We still stay up at odd hours of the night because the kids have no bedtime during the summer (except for when there are things planned for the next day – like tomorrow, I am taking the kids somewhere, and we have to leave before noon so we have to go to bed at a certain time tonight and not sleep in tomorrow!). We still do whatever the heck we want to with our days – or even nothing at all. Because it's summer vacation!

We are still enjoying that summer vacation. And that’s the plan for a couple more weeks. (Well, except for me. I’m switching back to the “school year schedule” on Monday and going back to the diet and exercise routines because of a couple of things I need to be ready for next year).

I have noticed some of my friends on Facebook talking about getting ready for back to school. (They probably need to, if school starts earlier for their kids.) I have certainly taken stock of what my kids need to be ready and, of course, I’ll be doing the whole “clothes inventory” ritual for their dressers and closets to see what clothing they need. But as for us, we are not freaking out about being ready for back to school. Not YET, anyway!

Maybe this dream was a reminder to be ready. (And of course I will, because I KNOW what we have to do and what will be expected of me! My son late for school on his first day back to school? Not on my watch!) Or maybe it was a reflection of somebody who has been judging me just because we have been so lax during the summer and not on some kind of rigid schedule. (If that is the case, screw them!) But whatever the case, I’m not going to let it send me into hysterics to be ready for when it’s time for the kids to go back to school. We WILL be ready, just in our own way and in our own time.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Fun Day at the 2016 Lane County Fair

The Lane County Fair is an annual event that takes place here in Eugene every year. And it’s an event that we go to every year! We love going to the fair! It’s the one thing we are always excited about every summer! The fair started earlier this week but we can only go on the weekends, so we went today!

Last year, they introduced a “ride bracelet.” This bracelet allowed a fairgoer unlimited rides! Usually, some rides require anywhere from 6-10 tickets, and the price for 120 tickets this year was $50. The ride bracelet is $50 each, and I think it is the better deal! Also this year, people were able to buy the ride bracelet earlier in the month for $37.50 each. But I saved up the $100 so that both kids could each get a bracelet. They always have so much fun going on all the rides!

Well, of course they can’t go on ALL the rides, because the bracelet expires at 10 p.m. But they sure do get to enjoy going on a lot of rides thanks to the bracelet. I am so glad they had it again this year!

Also this year, I got one fair food to enjoy. Last year, it was an Elephant Ear. This year, it was fried ice cream. Yummy! I also took my usual picture of the Ferris wheel like I do every year at the fair.

Like last year, we ate a big late lunch before heading out to the fair. We usually can’t afford the pricey food, which is why I only usually get just one thing, and one thing that is a fair food. Hubby and the kids got Elephant Ears this year. Jesse loved it!

The weather today was just beautiful. I was worried that it was going to be hot because the expected temp for today was 82 but it was really nice and sunny and we had occasional cool breezes. Even so, I made sure the kids and I both put on sunscreen before heading out.

Last year at the fair, Jesse won one thing. This year he won two! I am glad he got to win prizes at the fair.

The kids had so much fun going on the rides. The fair was packed but we managed to get through it okay. I was happy to run into a few people we know (though surprised to see them!) and I enjoyed my time at the fair even though I didn’t go on any rides. It was still fun!

In the past, my friend Kim has talked about seeing the animals at the fair. We could never find them! However, we got lucky this year: We found the animals! Jesse got to see some sheep and a goat. There were probably more animals there (I did see horses!), but we didn’t stay there long. I am glad I finally found them this year, though! Now I know where to look next year.

Last year at the fair, Jennifer headed out on her own to go on rides, but this year, she wanted her dad to go with her. She did go on a few rides with Jesse but then we split up. I stayed with Jesse and hubby stayed with her. I took some pics of Jesse on rides.

We had so much fun at the fair today. It was such a fun time! There was a lot of walking and so many crowds of people but we are happy that we got to go to the county fair yet again this year. Can’t wait for next year!

Here are pics I took. Last year, I took pics of Jesse when he went on every ride. I didn't do that again this year. 

The first pic is on the side of the Haunted Mansion ride. I just thought it was cool.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Scheduled power outage

Earlier this week, we got a note on our door from the electric company. They had to do some maintenance work and that meant shutting down power for my neck of the woods. We started preparing for the power outage.

The first thing I did was encourage everybody to eat as much of the food that was already in our fridge and freezer. I did this, too. I also made notes on what items would need to be replaced afterward.

The second thing I did was decide what we would NEED to save in an ice chest and what we could afford to throw out. Some things had very little left, like the milk, so we’d let that go and just get milk after the power was back on.

The next thing I did was remind hubby that we needed an ice chest for the things we would need to save.

After all that was settled, I prepared the kids. I reminded them that they would need to get done everything they had to do that required electronics – computer, TV, etc. – and to make sure phones were on chargers for the day of before the scheduled time of outage. I made a note of when the power outage would happen and I also worked on getting things done, too. (Like finishing up my short story for this week!)

Next, I made sure we’d have everything we’d need for when the power was out: Flashlights with extra batteries, candles and lighters for the candles, and extra bottled water.

I have to admit, I was a little worried about this happening at night. Of course, I was glad it was not during the day when we’d need the fans on in the house, but I was just uneasy about it happening at night. That’s when the crazies would take advantage of the situation! So I had to mentally prepare for that kinda thing. Still, I had a bad dream about something happening when the power was out.

But fortunately, we got through the night okay. We’re still alive!

And thankfully, it was not hot outside, so we managed okay without the fans.

Another concern I had was Jesse getting scared when the power went out. I was sure to explain to him why this was happening and I also made sure it was a fun time for him. No, we didn’t make shadow puppets on the walls, but we did hang out together and I also played a game of chess with him. We played chess by candlelight! That was awesome. (I also played chess with Jen after I played with Jesse.) Jesse got to learn how to light candles. He had trouble learning how to use a lighter but after some practice, he was able to strike the lighter for a flame. I told him sometimes it helps to turn candles sideways to get to the wick and light them. He also used a Q-Tip to light the wicks that were too low.

Jen wanted to camp out on the couch and Jesse camped out in the living room, too, using a sleeping pad, blankets, pillows and his sleeping bag to make up a bed for himself on the floor. It was like a camping event for them!

I did get the “food to save” stuff into the ice chest okay and kept my knife with me in case anyone tried to break in. But that was not what we had to worry about. Actually, the only thing we did have to worry about when there was no power was spiders! I had to squash two big black spiders running across the kitchen then the living room. (The second one was a big one!)

It actually turned out to be a pleasant evening. I had hoped Jesse would have fallen asleep before the power went out at 11, but I think he was too excited about it. I was sure to entertain him and hang out with him and he got through the night okay and not scared. I also used my phone to post pictures from this time on Facebook and there was actually someone online to see the pictures and comment on some of them. Additionally, I occasionally walked around the house to make sure the candles were still burning okay, nothing had caught on fire, there weren't any other spiders running around, and that the house was secure.

This morning I spent some time returning saved foods to the fridge and also throwing out the things that were no good anymore (like the milk, lunch meat and ice cream – there wasn’t much left of them, anyway). I took note of what would need to be replaced and put it all on today’s grocery list.

I am glad we got an early heads-up about the power outage but I guess we should be ready in case any unexpected power outages occur. Jesse knew what was going on and understood why our power was going to be out for 5-6 hours so he wouldn’t have suddenly freaked out when the power went out. But maybe I should prepare him for when we don’t expect it to go out. (There was one time a fuse blew and our power went out, but that was during the daytime. It’s a different situation at night and all of a sudden there’s nothing but darkness everywhere!) So maybe I should prepare him for if an unexpected power outage happens at night. One thing I told him yesterday was to keep a mental picture of the room you are in in your head and just follow it as you walk through the room. I guess I could share with him other ways to be prepared. I am just glad I have a lot of candles everywhere in the house!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Am I being punished for returning Netflix DVDs too quickly?

Some time ago – don’t ask me when! – there was a change in our Netflix movie mailings. It used to be we’d mail a movie to Netflix and they’d get it the next day and send out the next one in the queue. Then something happened that disrupted the system (nothing lasts forever!) and soon customer complaints went rolling into Netflix that customers were not receiving their DVDs as often as they used to. I did some checking around about this on the Internet shortly afterward to see what was going on and was alarmed that customers went days without getting the next movie in their queue.

I know that people joke about how slow the postal service is, but was it seriously that bad?

I called Netflix to find out what was up and they said they are aware of the problem and they are working on fixing it. Or, at least, finding a solution.

That solution turned out to be getting notified by the post office when a Netflix DVD comes in. I don’t know how they do it, but apparently they found a way to get a heads-up that a customer’s DVD was there. Then Netflix would mail the next DVD in the queue that same day, and that DVD usually arrived the next day. Sometimes, for us, it took a couple of days for our next DVD to get here, but it got here.

I was satisfied with this system and just went about my business.

Now, the thing about me and my Netflix account is that sometimes, it takes me FOREVER to watch DVDs from Netflix. This is especially true during the school year, when I am crazy-busy with everything going on. But during the summer, when things slow down, I have more time to watch movies and TV shows or documentaries or whatever other kind of DVD I am getting from Netflix. I actually make it a point to make time for it, because I really, really don’t want to add yet another year of my Netflix DVD queue containing over 400 DVDs!

So, yeah, I kinda want to try to get through them as fast as I can.

But it would seem that Netflix isn’t happy about my all-of-a-sudden quick return rate of DVDs. I have been watching DVDs at night and returning them the next day. Netflix was on top of things in ensuring my next DVD was shipped the next day because, like before, they were notified that I had returned another DVD. But I guess they didn’t get that memo today. I had returned a DVD yesterday but there was no next DVD shipped today. Bummer.

Of course, I am not going to get all broken up about it. It’s not the end of the world, or anything. But I can’t help but wonder if they stop sending out the next DVDs after getting the heads-up from the post office when a customer is sending back a DVD every day. Is this something that happens to other Netflix customers? Or is there a wrench in the system? Did they indeed get notified and send the DVD without updating my account or sending me an email about it like they always do?

I’m really curious.

I gotta wonder, though: Am I being punished for sending back a Netflix DVD too quickly?

I won’t be able to watch anything tonight because we have a scheduled power outage and then it’s almost the weekend so I won’t be able to see if this happens again too soon, but I’ll definitely be paying attention next time to see if it happens again. If it does happen again, I guess I will have an answer to that last question.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Goodbye sicknesses, hello (again!) to allergies

For the last part of May and for all of June, I was very sick. First I was sick with Influenza and then I somehow caught RSV (Respiratory syncytial virus)! These sicknesses actually happened back-to-back. It was crazy! I found out I had RSV because I was still sick after the Influenza had passed but we didn’t know what I was sick with. So my husband took me to Urgent Care and that’s how we found out. I was advised to just ride it out.

But after I was supposedly over the “contagious period” of being sick with RSV, I was left with a terrible, violent cough. From what we’d learned in our research, this cough was supposed to go away within a couple of weeks. But unfortunately, that did not happen for me. And the cough only got worse and worse! I was coughing my head off 24/7.

The cough got so bad that I hurt my ribs. Off to Urgent Care I had gone again. I really thought my ribs were broken but they were actually just possibly cracked. Once again, I was advised to allow the cough to run its course. However, they told me certain things to do to avoid further injury to my ribs, like holding a pillow against them when I coughed. They gave me nothing for my pain, simply telling me to take 600 mg of Advil 3 times a day, and nothing for my cough. One of my sisters was mad that they didn’t give me anything for my cough. And my husband and I were both perplexed why I was still coughing so badly for so long.

Then not 10 days after that, I felt something snap in my chest during another coughing fit and knew something was very wrong. My husband took me to the ER. This was my third trip to a doctor in one month because of the darn cough!! I was in so much unbearable pain from what happened because whatever it was that was injured this time hurt like hell and I cried out in agony every time I coughed because the coughing made it worse, and of course the coughing happened often! They gave me pain medicine and took X-rays and we learned that I’d torn a muscle. Once again I asked for something, ANYTHING, for my cough. And for stronger pain medicine because the rib injury had put me in so much pain that sometimes I was crying from it.

Fortunately, they suggested stronger pain medicine dosages, and THANKFULLY, the doctor FINALLY admitted that I should take something for the cough. (Gee, ya think??)

I will never understand why, when a patient is sick, the doctor does not give the patient medicine. I mean, you’re supposed to take medicine if you are sick, right?? That’s how you TREAT a sickness! That is how you find relief from symptoms! And I needed relief. This thing was so horrible that I could hardly sleep because I was coughing so much. (It was so bad that I could not concentrate enough to read or write.)

The doctor did not suggest a particular kind of medicine, just something for the cough. So I took medicine for my cough. And guess what? I GOT BETTER!!! I took Robitussin DM for the cough – along with higher doses of both Advil and Tylenol – every day for a week, 3 times a day, and I started to finally get better. Well, I took the Tylenol 3 times a day (3000 mg of it) and the Advil every 4 hours as well as the Robitussin every 4 hours. I also put ice on my sore ribs once a day for 15 minutes. I also wore a chest brace for that first week. And I did a lot of praying!! (Thank you to everyone who prayed for me during that time.)

But I did get better! I finally stopped coughing! FINALLY!

By July 1st, I was all better. My cough was gone and the pain was not as bad anymore. My rib and torn muscle are still healing and both the doctor as well as a nurse advised me to take it easy and do not exercise until they are all healed. But I am NOT COUGHING ANYMORE!

Well, sure, I have the occasional cough, but not the violent cough from before. It is SO NICE not to be coughing my head off anymore. That Robitussin DM is good stuff! I highly recommend it (and I hope they continue making it!).

While I was sick, I didn’t suffer from seasonal allergies so much. In fact, I hardly had the sneezing or watery eyes from the seasonal allergies at all. But those symptoms have started flaring up again. I am once again experiencing sneezing and watery eyes because of allergies. So I am back to taking Allegra in the mornings and Claritin at night. This is the best allergy fighting method for me and it has worked really well. I just have to remember to take them every day until allergy season is over!

But compared to what I went through with that cough, I cannot complain. Seriously, I’d rather have these allergy symptoms than that chronic, violent cough any old time! At least now I know what to reach for in my medicine cabinet should THAT particular thing happen to flare up again.