Twenty-Five Years Strong

me-and-kev2A May 26, 1990. That was the day my life changed for the better.

Kevin and I have been married for 25 years. And I could write a novel of the events that lead up to this day, but I think instead, I’m going to copy what my sister-in-law did on Facebook and just bullet-point our lives:

  • We worked together at a bank – that’s how we met.

  • Our first “date” was the company Christmas party. And we met there, in separate cars. Because I was a strong female and didn’t want him to think I was easy. *smirk*

  • We lived together for two years before we got married. *gasp*

  • I had to give him an ultimatum – either we get married, or we go our separate ways. (Remember that strong female part? I was terrified he would walk out – but I guess it was better than wasting years together).

  • I had to shop around for a church. We didn’t belong to a church and a friend I worked with recommended a pretty little church in Nixa. Done.

  • Our wedding day: Kevin thought I stood him up since I was late getting to the church. That same friend that recommended the church also did my hair. A fancy little braid number and it took longer than we thought it would. Kevin said he lost a few years waiting for me.

  • We paid for our wedding ourselves. Well. Technically, we used one of my school loans to pay for our wedding.

  • My mom’s wedding gift to me was making my wedding dress.

  • I still have the dress packed away in a garment bag. I couldn’t fit into it now to save my life.

  • We toasted each other with paper cups because I totally forgot to buy glasses for the occasion.

  • Our wedding photographer was horrified because Kevin forgot to wear dark socks with his tux. The photographer had to place my wedding bouquet over his feet to hide them.

  • Whoever was in charge of music played the wedding march (the song you exit to) when my dad escorted me down the aisle. I wasn’t even aware of that faux pas until Kevin and I watched the wedding video afterward.

  • I had to wear ballet slippers instead of gorgeous heels because I didn’t want to be taller than Kevin for our pictures. (At least I was comfortable).

  • I couldn’t wait for the ceremony to be over. And who was the idiot that picked three songs to sing, during the ceremony, so that it lasted WAY longer than it had to? (That would be me).

  • We honeymooned in Cozumel, Mexico.

  • It was the first time I had ever been out of Missouri, let alone the country, and I cried like a baby.

  • I smashed my pinky in a lounge chair on the beach. I later lost that fingernail.

  • We rented a moped to get around the island and I don’t think we wore helmets. (We were young and stupid).

  • We ate lunch at a shack on the other side of the island and wrote our names in this pole. We later went back to Cozumel years later and the shack was gone.

  • I remember Kevin and I being horrified because the little prop plane that took us from Cancun to Cozumel was literally held together by duct tape.

  • I absolutely did not pack the right type of clothing for Cozumel. All of my shirts were too heavy and all I had with me were jean shorts. I’ve since learned tank tops and breezy skirts are your friend if you ever go to a tropical island.

  • On the plane ride home from our honeymoon, the landing gear wouldn’t come out and one of the flight attendants had to open the floor and crank the gear down. That did not help my anxiety over flying one bit.

  • I did not fly again until our 10th anniversary cruise to the Caribbean.

    and lastly …

  • I can’t imagine my life without my best friend, lover, confidante and husband.

  • Thank you for putting up with me all of these years, sweetie. I love you to the moon and back.

    lipstick-mirror

    Taking Care of Our Elders

    grandpa

    One of the many things I like about Facebook? You get to learn things about your family that you otherwise probably wouldn’t have known.

    The man laying on the ground in the picture above is my grandfather – my dad’s dad. He fought in World War II.

    I’m just going to post what my Aunt posted on Facebook …

    Dan said his dad never talked about the war much (who could blame him) but he would tell us this story often.

    One day there was an order to head out, so some of his buddies got into the jeep. Right before Leroy got in, his commanding officer said “Hutton you stay”. That jeep was hit and Leroy lost good friends. He would say to us, “If I would have gotten in, you all would have never been here, that saved my life”. Glad he didn’t get in!”

    Isn’t it amazing to think that one moment in time, that one split second decision my grandfather’s commanding officer made, led us to this moment: Four children, ten grandchildren, nineteen (?) great grandchildren later.

    It sort of boggles the mind when you stop to think about it.

    My grandfather is in his early nineties now. We lost my grandmother, my dad’s mom, about … three years ago (?). She developed dementia toward the end of her life and it was a terribly sad way to say goodbye. It was very hard on my parents, I know. And now my grandfather is being moved to a nursing home today because we have reached the point where he can’t take care of himself and it’s physically too hard on my family to help. (He’s wheelchair bound and he requires physical assistance to get into bed, go to the bathroom, etc).

    This is INCREDIBLY hard on my grandfather. He’s FIERCELY independent, has been his whole life, so now that he is being forced into this situation, well, it’s been difficult, to say the least.

    My parents came over yesterday and they filled in the details. It was heartbreaking to listen to the anguish in their voices and watch tears gather in their eyes.

    My grandfather begs them to take him home. He doesn’t want to go to the home. Who can blame him?? But though my family tried to take care of him in his home for one week, the situation is simply more than any of them can handle. They’re trying to make deals with my grandfather, work hard, participate in physical therapy, work on his strength so that he can at least walk on his own again and then they can take him home and work on a schedule to have someone with him at all times. But my grandfather is being stubborn. I’m sure the whole situation is embarrassing and humiliating for him. I see this in patients every day at work. It’s SO HARD to succumb to physical restrictions and have to rely on other people to help you when you’ve been so used to being on your own, taking care of yourself, your whole life.

    This situation makes me think of my own parents a lot. They’re getting up there in age, too. Though they are still both relatively young and stay physically active (they go to a gym to walk and socialize every day), I can see early signs of dependency. It brings a lump to my throat to think me and my siblings may be in a similar boat one of these years. And though you can promise you’ll never, ever, put your loved ones in a home, you can’t TRULY promise that. I think this situation with my grandfather has taught me that. All you can do is the best you can do for the situation you find yourself in.

    I also wonder how our boys will react when Kevin and I reach that age. Getting older has never really bothered me before, but honestly, seeing my grandfather’s situation has opened up doors I never really knew existed before.

    I learned that being in a home, a DECENT home, is terribly expensive. This will likely put a huge dent in my grandfather’s money. I have no idea how much he has, it’s really none of my business how much money he has, but knowing my family, he likely has a nest egg somewhere he can rely on to help him through this stage. I feel terribly sorry for people that DON’T have that money to fall back on.

    Kevin and I have talked about making sure we have a will. But I’m not sure we have ever really discussed our plan if one of us ends up in a nursing home. I have made Kevin promise me he will never put me in a home, and vice versa, but my grandfather’s situation has taught me, it’s never quite that black and white.

    I worry that dementia runs in our family. I mentioned my grandmother had it and there are signs my grandfather might have it, too. I’ve always worried about my own memory – I have trouble remembering things NOW. What will I be like when I reach my twilight years?

    I think that’s one big reason I refuse to retire. Which, I realize is unrealistic, my body will deteriorate … I realize this. But I hereby pledge to work on keeping my mind active. I’m not saying my grandparents did not do that, dementia is not something you can likely prevent, but I will do everything in my power to keep it at arm’s length.

    In the meantime, life trudges on. All we can do is try and keep pace with it.

    Seeking Certification

    me-coxAA Work is going well. I continue to work my ass off but I’m starting to feel more and more comfortable with what I’m doing. There are moments when I feel like I’m sort of flying by the seat of my pants and thank goodness I think quick on my feet and can ooze fake confidence when I need to, but for the most part, I’m settling into the medical assistant position.

    I’ve been a medical assistant for a little over one year now. That sort of blows my mind when I stop to think about it. I honestly feel like I still just stumbled into this gig and I’m BSing my way through every clinic. I’m confident on the phones and handling the scheduling part of the job, of course, but the actual medical part of this job still sort of scares me a little bit.

    I guess I’m going to stick this out. I had thought, at one time, I might just hang it up and move on to something else, but this past year, though terribly challenging, and continues to challenge me every day, has been one of the most rewarding years in my life. There’s something deeply satisfying helping people and it’s such an HONOR to work with some of the top 1% of the doctors in the country!

    I’m pretty sure this is my last job. I will likely retire from the medical field. Which is so crazy for me. I never, once, in my whole life, aspired to be in the medical field. I wanted to be a writer, a paralegal, or a medical transcriptionist, which true, is in the medical field, but more on the outskirts of the medical field, not in the trenches actually interacting with patients.

    And yet, here I am.

    I have spent hundreds of dollars on scrubs. When I started as a scheduler, we wore a different color each day of the week. So I spent $200 just on that my first week of work. Now that I’m a medical assistant, our colors have changed again – navy, black and gray. And I have added on to my scrub collection as I’ve gone along because I get bored with one brand, I find something just a little cute/different and/or the fit is unflattering that I can’t force myself to wear them anymore.

    Scrubs are NOT cheap. I just recently bought another scrub “outfit” for just under $70.

    One scrub top. One scrub bottom.

    So. There’s that investment.

    And now I’m getting ready to spend another $150 in order to become certified. And another $50 bucks to purchase the study guide and an online test so that I can prepare for this certification process. BUT. If/when I do this, I will automatically receive a $1 raise which means I will have paid for my investment in three weeks and ultimately make more money.

    Not to mention, being certified carries more responsibility and more opportunities.

    And I’m motivated to do this because the government has implemented yet more strangling meaningful use policies and I’m no longer able to do a few tasks like I used to be able to do. However, I can do these tasks if I’m certified. So OF COURSE, I have to become certified because nothing frustrates me more than NOT being to do something or do my job to my maximum ability.

    I will learn everything there is to know about being a medical assistant. I honestly have no intention of going any further than this, at this point. But if you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you know I have an uncanny knack for sort of falling into things so who knows where I’ll be five years from now.

    I never imagined I would be where I am now five years ago.

    As far as the people … my nurse still drives me nuts – in fact, there are days I would gladly punch her in the face. But she’s sweet and funny and we’re all getting used to her, I suppose. Her personality is just so ABRASIVE! AARGH! And everything about her rubs me like sandpaper, her tone of voice, the way she treats patients, the way she has to include herself in EVERY SINGLE CONVERSATION THAT GOES ON AROUND HER, whether she’s included or not, her obsession with food, her butt crack. Yes, her butt crack. She was a size smaller when she came to us from the hospital but she refuses to allow herself to buy bigger pants, so she wears these tight t-shirts and low-waisted scrub pants and when she bends over – HELLO MOON. Our nurse manager actually came by her one day, yanked down her t-shirt and whispered in her ear loud enough for me to hear, “your butt crack is showing again.” AAARGH She’s just so immature and self absorbed … drives me nuts.

    However. I don’t see her going anywhere any time soon so I guess I just need to suck it up. I’ve worked with my doctor for over a year now and I’m the “veteran” on the team since his nurse started with him in October and his PA started with him this past January. Even though I’ve worked with him over a year now, I still feel pretty shy around him. We’re both loosening up around each other now and I am starting to see a lot more of his personality. I’m VERY FORTUNATE to work with a laid back, easy-going doctor. He rarely loses his temper (in fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen him lose his temper), but you can tell when he’s annoyed. I just try and make his clinics run as smooth as possible, even if that means I make other people in the clinic mad at me because I INSIST they do their jobs.

    Go figure.

    We’re supposed to be moving into our new home in July. The hospital is adding onto the main building and neurosurgery will be taking over the 7th floor. My doctor was on the planning board for this move so he views it as his baby. I’m really looking forward to moving to our new digs. Not only will it be “new”, it will be next to the hospital and Kevin and I are already planning on meeting in the hospital cafeteria for lunch. (They actually have pretty good food for cheap). Parking will be a challenge as it’s already a challenge at the hospital as it is now, let alone when our clinic starts going over there every day, but we’ll find our new normal, we’ll just have to endure the speed bumps along the way.

    The building we’re in now is embarrassing. It’s so old and ever since the announcement was made that we would be moving to the hospital, there has been very little motivation to fix or maintain our building and it’s starting to show a lot of wear and tear.

    Oh. That reminds me of a story.

    Our air conditioner went out – again. Our air conditioner goes out about every other month, it’s so annoying. So our HVAC guys showed up to take a look at it and found that the wires had been yanked out. Apparently, some homeless guy was living in the area, (the area is enclosed by a privacy fence) and he had cut out all of the copper wiring presumably to sell it. This is what happens when you have a crappy economy and more and more people are out of work – desperate times call for desperate measures.

    There is now a lock on the fenced-in area. (There probably should have been a lock on it to begin with but you don’t think about things like this until they happen). There are always weird situations that crop up in this business.

    Our nurse manager is moving on to another position. We’re all pretty shaken by this news. She’s AWESOME and she will be SORELY missed but we can’t fault her for wanting to further her career. In the meantime, management has formed two committees, (sounds like something management would do, lol) in order to help interview her replacement. I didn’t volunteer for the position, I wasn’t sure I wanted to put myself in that situation, but when they came to me and asked me to participate I couldn’t really say no. This is going to be doubly challenging considering we’re getting ready to move and we won’t really have a “captain” to guide us.

    I have a feeling this summer is going to be crazy busy for us.

    I Don’t Want to Get Older – I’m Not Ready to BE Old

    Weepy glees – have a box of tissues ready.

    I cried like a baby from start to finish after watching this video. I think this scenario affects us so much because we have an innate fear of getting older. And an even bigger fear of not being loved because of how we LOOK/ACT when we get older.

    I lost it when the guy commented about how beautiful she was to him, wrinkles and all. And you can tell he really means it, he’s just not saying it to be nice. That’s love. Pure and simple. *sigh*

    And I love how they kept a sweet sense of humor about everything. That’s exactly how Kevin and I are – we often giggle like teenagers like that.

    My age has never really bothered me before now. But I’ll be honest – I’m going to be 50 this year. The big 5-0 – half a century old. I don’t feel it and people tell me I don’t look it but when I stop to think about it, it sort of shocks me. How did this happen? Inside, I don’t feel a day over 30. Knowing I’m going to be 50 this year just feels … surreal. Unnatural. It can’t be real. There must be some sort of mistake.

    I’m fortunate. I work with people half my age so they keep me young. I stay physically and mentally active. And I don’t plan on stopping any time soon. I have no plans to retire – why? I ENJOY working. I always have. I get a high out of being productive. And there’s NO WAY Kevin would ever let me stop – I can barely keep up with him now.

    Do you think if I stay busy enough I’ll stay ahead of the aging process?

    Well I’m going to try, damn it.

    We Are Officially Empty Nesters

    EmptyNest-1 So it’s a done deal, the boys moved out.

    They moved out just before Brandon’s 20th birthday in March.

    Happy birthday, son!

    Now get out. HA!

    The move went pretty smoothly. The boys don’t have a lot, their bedrooms were the most challenging to move what with their beds and all of their computer crap, er, equipment. We were able to get everything in Kevin’s truck and I think we made a total of three trips with his truck full. I, however, made about twelve trips. I put their dresser drawers, (full of clothes), into my car. Then I loaded my car down with all the “practical” gifts Santa gave them this past Christmas and which they weren’t excited about AT ALL, until we moved everything in.

    I also placed SEVERAL blankets in my car and had to drive very carefully to the apartment when it came time to move their computers. I get that they are both INTO their computers and they have both spent a lot of money on their computers, but I get uncomfortable with just HOW much they’re obsessed with their computers – you would think they were made from glass the way they were both acting.

    However, we got everything moved over, unpacked and cleaned up in one day. We were all pretty exhausted when it was all said and done. I THOUGHT I had taken some pictures of their place, but I can’t find them for the life of me. They’re probably on Kevin’s hard drive. I think he wiped our camera cards off so we could go to Hawaii. (What?!? Yep – more on that … one of these days).

    It’s a cute apartment. Tiny, but really perfect for both of them. It’s a two bedroom, two bath place. We had to put Brandon’s chest-of-drawers in his closet (which I must say, their apartment has some pretty decent-sized closets) to make room for his over sized computer desk. But it works. They have a wood-burning fireplace. And yes, it works. Their apartment is a corner apartment on the 2nd floor – the corner apartments have fireplaces. It still sort of boggles my mind that apartments have fireplaces – isn’t that a HUGE fire hazard?? I pray they have responsible neighbors in the winter time.

    When it came time to look at the available units in their apartment complex, we, (and by “we” I really mean all of us), wanted a third-floor apartment. We figured it would be the quietest – they wouldn’t have to worry about noisy neighbors above them. But the only third-floor apartment that was available when they were ready to move in had carpet in the kitchen.

    Um – YUCK and NO.

    So, they settled for the 2nd floor apartment. They didn’t have anyone living above them for quite a while but now they say they think someone lives up there but they don’t hear a lot of walking around going on so they think maybe their upstairs neighbor travels a lot of something as it doesn’t appear they are home very often.

    We did have trouble moving their sofa into the apartment. Since they are on the second floor and right by the staircase, we didn’t have a lot of wiggle room getting the sofa into the apartment. In fact, there was a moment, when we all sort of paused, our arms aching from holding the sofa and thought, “we are NOT going to get this sucker in.” But somehow, we maneuvered it in and I confess, it’s perfect for the space and a pretty comfy couch. I think, though, if they ever move, we will have to take the legs off in order to get it back out again.

    They both swear they are not going to move. HA!

    •••)o(•••

    It’s been … weird not having them here. They’ve been out for two months now and it still doesn’t seem real. It just feels like they’re at a friend’s house or something. But then again, quite honestly, we didn’t see them very much when they were living with us.

    I think Blake was happier about moving than Brandon. I’m not sure Brandon was quite ready to move, but now that they’ve been out for a few months, I think they are both loving it. Who wouldn’t want to be their own boss? No rules. No having to live with the frustration of turning the Internet off at 10:00 PM every night. (Yes. We did that because if we hadn’t, they would have been up all night every night. Nope. Not in our house).

    Of course, we’ve spoiled them. We bought them quite a few things and in fact, we still continue to buy them quite a few things. For example, Brandon mentioned that they needed a pizza stone so they could cook their frozen pizzas. We bought them one last night.

    Kevin gets quite cranky with me with the all the stuff I buy them, but honestly, it’s like playing dolls or something – I just can’t resist!

    Kevin found a George Foreman grill at a yard sale for one dollar. Bought it and to our delight, it actually works. We’ll give that to the boys and show them how to cook hamburger patties.

    Roy found a set of 12 bowls at a yard sale for $2 – he will keep some of them and plans on giving the rest to the boys.

    They also come over to our house quite a few times throughout the week to eat dinner with us. For two reasons, really: 1., it’s nice to see them and to catch up on their lives, and 2., I worry they will be too cheap to eat decent meals. In fact, Brandon has mentioned he had to call in sick one time because he woke up with vertigo and was nauseous. When I quizzed him about what he had been eating it was pretty much Ramen noodles and cereal.

    I rest my case.

    •••)o(•••

    They’ve had a few incidents since living there. The neighbors next to them have fights and get quite loud sometimes. Blake said he woke up one night to some loud music about 2:00 AM and one of the other neighbors called the cops on them.

    They were both pretty nervous to live on their own at first – and I think they both still are – they immediately deadbolt the door whenever we leave, lol, but I think they’re getting more used to it now.

    Their apartment is not far from our house. It’s literally down the street. I think the close proximity also helps all of us and is probably the reason I haven’t really “felt” their absence. We can be at their house in about five minutes.

    This has been SUPER AWESOME though in regards to them appreciating what they have and what they spend their money on. In fact, shortly after we got them moved in, Brandon held up his hands and said, “Okay everyone, you need to take your shoes off.” haha!

    And Blake has already mopped and cleaned his bathroom several times.

    I love it! That’s what it takes – though it’s super hard to let go of our children, we absolutely MUST do it. They have to learn to take care of themselves and to appreciate what they work hard to have.

    Blake is still working for Kevin – I really don’t see that changing until Kevin finally bites the bullet and retires and closes his office. In fact, he is actively looking for more business and may even have to hire an extra person some day if he gets very much more.

    And while we’re on the subject of Kevin’s business, his office lease will be up soon. He’s thinking of possibly moving his office to the front part of the rental house thereby saving TONS of money in rent.

    The problem is: will people be creeped out going to someone’s house for their accounting needs? We’re still tossing the idea around.

    Brandon is still at the shoe store. And in fact, he likes it, much to my surprise. He’s a cashier, which again, surprises me. It’s not that I don’t think he’s smart enough to be a cashier, it’s just, that job comes with a lot of trust and responsibility and I’m flattered that his boss has that much confidence in him. People I work with know Brandon works at this popular shoe store and I had a co-worker instant message me the other day to tell me that Brandon waited on her and she was impressed with his professional demeanor. In fact, he sold her a program that she hadn’t really wanted to participate in but said that he was such a good salesman, she felt like she would be missing out on something if she said no. haha! That really warmed my heart that she told me that and it makes me EXTREMELY proud to be his momma. I think Brandon will go far in life.

    I think Blake will, too, I just think his success will be a little more understated than Brandon’s. But who knows, they continue to surprise me every day.

    The extra bedrooms are still empty. We are going to use one room for Kevin – he currently sleeps in his office on a futon. We don’t sleep together because he uses a sleep-pap machine and sounds like Darth Vader and I flop so much and snore that it wakes him up. I think we’re going to use the other bedroom as a game room slash workout room. Not sure on that one yet.

    The rooms need a coat of paint. They were FILTHY dirty when the boys moved out. In fact, there was so much dust built up that when I cleaned the rooms, I had a respiratory issue for a solid week. No joke. We are going to paint them next weekend, I think, since it’ll be Memorial Day Weekend and I’ll have three days off.

    So yes. We’re now officially empty nesters. It’s been a pretty smooth transition. I love when they come over and I love when they leave. Ha!

    Sailing the Inside Passage to Alaska

    IMG_1559

    Finally. We’re on Holland America’s Statendam. Look at that water – smooth as GLASS!!

    Here’s one of my favorite pictures from our 2013 Alaska trip:

    IMG_1581

    I want to blow this one up and hang it – soooo pretty.

    Here’s a short video to show how smooth the water was in the inside passage…

    We were also fortunate to see some whales, too.

    I wish I could say the trip back down to Vancouver, after our cruise was over, was equally smooth sailing but alas, no, it was not.

    We were one of the last cruises of the season and we ran into a storm on the way home. Luckily, our ship was small enough that we were able to stick to the inside passage and though it was not as smooth sailing as above, it wasn’t too bad. Whenever we passed by an area that there were no longer mountains on either side of us, the waters got very choppy and I got seasick. In fact, we have a video, somewhere, of the water in the pool sloshy so much that it soaks the deck. The pool water got so bad, that Holland America had to drain the pool it was making such a mess. But at least we were able to keep to the inside passage most of the way back to Vancouver. We were sailing side-by-side a Royal Carribean ship and it was too large to sail the passage so I heard they had some REALLY choppy waters on the way back.

    That is definitely a con to cruising – even though the captains do a fantastic job of avoiding rough waters, it will occasionally happen. That’s when your Dramamine comes in handy.