Tag Archive | life in general

50+ lbs down!

Yesterday morning, I weighed in at 165.6 lbs.  That’s a total loss so far of 51.4 lbs.

Measurements in inches:

March 18, 2017 May 7, 2017
Bust 43 42
Waist 40 39
Hip 45 43
Thigh 25 24
Calf 17 16.5
Upper arm 14 13
Neck 14.5 14.25

I had to buy new bras last week.  Because my bra size will continue to change, I bought several inexpensive ones at Target.  They’re comfy, but I don’t expect them to last more than the few months I’ll need to wear them.  Today I went through my closet and tried on every piece of clothing hanging there. About half went into the donate pile, including nearly all my pants and jeans. Of the remaining half, I expect most of it will be too big by the end of May.  I have enough dress clothes to wear to work and just enough casual clothes for everything else.  But it’s time to start thinking about digging through the racks at the thrift store.

Next weekend I’ll go through the dresser and try on all the T-shirts and leggings and other casual comfies stored there.

As far as food goes, I’ve involuntarily become nearly vegetarian.  I’m unable to tolerate most meats except fish or shellfish, so my protein comes mainly in the form of shakes and bars.  My nutritionist said the intolerance will probably resolve itself within the next several months, and it’s okay to use the protein shakes, etc., in the meantime.  She also suggested that I try eating dark meat chicken instead of white meat because the white meat tends to be too dry.  And she liked that I eat fruits and vegetables for snacks.  Much better than my pre-surgery snacks of chips or chocolate or donuts (although I did confess to the occasional small bag of Fritos or a single Rolo).

Weight Loss Progress

And it just keeps coming off.  As of the time of this writing (several days before the blog entry will be published), I’m down 44 lbs.

These two pictures were taken quite some time apart, as you can tell by the length of my hair.  The blue photo was taken at the beginning of my last major attempt at weight loss, in November 2014, so about two years before surgery.  The pink photo was taken March 31, 2017.  (Yes, I should have done photos right before surgery, but I didn’t.  We’ll have to make do with these and whatever candid or yarn-project-modeling photos I can find that were taken shortly before surgery.)


Front view.  I can see the beginnings of a waist again.  That makes me happy.  I still have the shirt and cropped pants I’m wearing in the blue photos.  I’ll do my best to wear them the next time we take a set of progress photos.

In clothing news, all but one of the items that had been banished to the upstairs closet because they didn’t fit have been retrieved.  Because now they fit.  The one item that doesn’t fit is a velvet dress suitable for holiday parties and dress-up occasions.  It’s still too tight.  Unfortunately, it’s doubtful that it will fit at the time the holiday parties and dress-up occasions roll around again, but at that time, it will be too loose.  Maybe I’ll ask my husband to take me out to a fancy dinner when it fits again, just to wear it one last time.  I’ve started weeding out the clothes that are now too large and too much trouble to have altered; they’re being sorted into piles to go to Goodwill, to bariatric support group clothing swaps, and to the business-appropriate clothing drive for women in shelters.

 

Measurements

HomCom 34 x 27 x 35 Fashion Mannequin Female Dress Form w/ Base, White

As of March 18, 2017:

  • Bust 43″
  • Waist 40″
  • Hip 45″
  • Thigh 25″
  • Calf 17″
  • Upper arm 14″
  • Neck 14.5″

Before anyone freaks out about the bust/waist/hip ratio, I always had a fairly straight figure.  Not too many curves,which is why dress mannequins never worked for me when I sewed my own clothes.  If I remember correctly, my measurements in my early 20s were approximately 33/27/35.  When I gained weight, most of it was gained in the belly, and there were times when my waist measurement exceeded my bust measurement.  Believe me, this is progress.

Weight loss check in

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Picture taken December 3, 2017

The stats:

  • Eight and a half weeks since surgery
  • Total weight loss: 34 lbs.
  • 68 pounds to goal

I never took my measurements before surgery, so I can’t tell you how many inches I’ve lost anywhere.  Next time my husband and I are in the same room with a tape measure, we’ll remedy that situation and have inches to report in the future.

What I can tell you is most of my weight loss has been belly fat, so several pairs of pants now fit that previously I couldn’t even button.  Some of them I haven’t worn in three or more years.  More clothes await me in the upstairs closet.  Drop another 10 or 15 pounds, and I’m in.

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Picture taken February 25, 2017.

What’s funny about that is every single item of clothing that I can now wear, including virtually everything I’ve been wearing for the last year or so, is labeled size 16.  And so are the clothes in the upstairs closet that I can’t wear yet.  Okay, there are a couple of 16W labels in the mix, but come on.  How can I have gained 40ish lbs. since moving to Atlanta over four years ago and STILL wear a size 16?  Vanity size inflation by the clothing manufacturers, that’s how.

Here’s another odd thing.  I don’t seem to have lost any in breast size, which is totally unexpected.  Ordinarily, when women lose weight, the boobs go too.  But my bra cups still fit just like before, although the bands are less tight.  That probably won’t last long.  We’ll see how it goes.

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Turn and face the strange

Me in Harlem

Me at 54 — April 2016

I’ve been debating with myself about making this public.  Not that this blog gets a lot of traffic, but entries are open to everyone, including folks who wander this way from Facebook and know me IRL, and I never know who might be stopping by based on a Google search.  But I finally decided that since it’s such a major thing, and will affect everything I do from this point forward, it’s best to just put it out there so future blog entries have context.

I am scheduled to have bariatric surgery on December 27.

There.  Said it.  Whew.

People are always surprised if I tell them how much I actually weigh:  for good or bad, I don’t really look like I weigh more than 200 lbs.  But I do.  And I’m only 5 feet tall.

I’ve struggled with my weight for years: decades, really; and over time the pounds just kept creeping up and adding on, no matter what I did.  Several years ago, I had to go on high blood pressure medication, and blood tests over the last two or three years show my blood sugar levels are increasing to the point that I am now considered “pre-diabetic”.  Here’s the thing:  I can lose weight.  I’ve done it many times.  I’ve read all the books, tried all the diets, and lost weight on all of them.  But I can’t keep it off.  No sooner than I stop the regimented food plan and go back to my admittedly not terrific but not entirely unhealthy normal way of eating, the weight jumps back on.  I can’t keep it off without stringent adherence to a severely rigid food regimen.  And that’s no way to live.

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Me at 19 — 1981ish

I had been considering weight loss surgery for a couple of years, but hesitated.  I even went to a seminar offered by a respected local surgeon late last year; when the seminar was over, they asked me when I wanted to schedule an appointment.  I said I wanted to think about it a little longer.  It’s a major surgery that rearranges your insides forever.  That’s frightening.

And surely the next diet would be the one that worked.

Six months later, having lost 10 lbs and regained 15, I read this article in the New York Times.  Go read it; then come back.

Okay, yeah,  it’s long, so for the TL:DR crowd, the gist of the article is if you are heavy and have been heavy for a while, your brain has reset your “normal”, and any diet and exercise attempt to lose weight and fall below that “normal” is doomed to failure.  Neuroscience, not willpower, baby.

That did it.  I called the surgeon the next day and scheduled an appointment.

In the doctor’s office, while talking about why I was there, I started sobbing.  She looked at me and asked, “Why are you so sad?”

Oh god.

“Because I’ve tried so hard, and failed so many times. I’m tired of living like this; I’m afraid of getting diabetes; I hate the way I feel; and I just don’t have anywhere else to turn.”

“It’s not your fault,” she said.  But it was.  It’s always been my fault.  That’s what my head tells me.  That’s what society tells me.  That’s what all the articles in all the women’s magazines tell me.  That’s what the sideways glances and rolled eyes from strangers tell me.

Excuse me, I need a tissue.

~~~~

Okay. So.  I leave the surgeon’s office with a plan.  Lots of pre-op clearances to secure: cardiologist; nutritionist; pulmonologist; psychologist; support group attendance; sign-off from my GP; blood work; upper GI — I’ve had more doctors’ appointments in this past six months than I think I’ve had in the past six years.  And there were delays.  Starting the process in May as I did, I expected to have everything taken care of by August or September and have surgery by late autumn.  But noooo.  First, I had to have more nutritional consultations than they told me the first time around.  Then the pulmonologist wanted to do a sleep study.  Turns out I have sleep apnea and they wanted me on a CPAP machine for several weeks before they would issue the clearance.

When I finally got all of the appointments out of the way and every provider said they had issued my clearances, I called the surgeon’s office.  The patient coordinator said she didn’t have the note from my GP.  I called the GP’s office.  They faxed it over.  A few days later, I called again.  This time they didn’t have the pulmonary clearance or the clearance from my GP.  I called the pulmonary clinic and my GP again.  They faxed the clearances.  A week or so later, I called once more.  “We don’t have the clearance from your GP.”  “For crying out loud, woman, my GP has sent that to you three times!  Do I have to hand carry it in?”  I called my GP one more time; they faxed it while I was on the phone; I called the patient coordinator and said,”It’s sitting on  your fax machine right now. Go get it.”

That was the middle of November.  They called me the first Friday of December and said surgery was scheduled for December 27.  *HUGE sigh of relief*  I was afraid it wouldn’t be scheduled until January and I’ve have to meet my deductibles all over again.

Last week I told my supervisor and boss, who were aware this was an upcoming thing, that we had a definite surgery date and we began the process of getting approval for me to take a month off work for recovery.  I bought all the vitamins and protein drinks I’m going to need for the initial week or so of the recovery process, and started planning out the very particular eating regime I must follow for the first several weeks.

Today I had a pre-op appointment with my surgeon to go over some paperwork and pre-op instructions; and a meeting with the anesthesiologist to go over some more paperwork and more pre-op instructions.  It’s really happening.  It’s really happening.

It’s really happening.

I’ve spent the last six months convincing myself to believe that my weight isn’t my fault.  That’s hard to say, much less take to heart, when I’ve spent the last 20 years telling myself it is.  And while I don’t expect to get back the figure I had at 19, I do expect to lose enough to see my collarbones again.  Eventually.

This is how I will do it.  I’ll keep you posted.

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Don’t tell me to calm down

Don’t even think about it, because I will smack you upside the head so hard you’ll wish you never learned to speak.

Do you know what happened Wednesday?  After the nation learned that the Orange Narcissist will become our next President?  I’ll tell you what happened.

One of my friends posted this on Facebook:

Good lord, this is nerve-wracking.  List of reasons to be concerned:  I’m a woman, a bisexual, married to a trans person, and I have mental health issues.  Many of the people who mean the most to me in the world are POC, LGBT, or have mental illness or developmental or physical disabilities.  All of us struggle, but many of them struggle with poverty-level income and serious unmet healthcare needs.  Many more have healthcare thanks to one provision of ACA or another, which they could lose.  So very much is at stake.

She later hid the post from view and told me she’s pretty scared of everything right now.

Another friend told me his mother had been verbally accosted while shopping in a Tennessee Wal-Mart:  “We won!  Now all you fucking niggers have to go back to Africa!”

Still another friend, with a longstanding health issue, has been unemployed long-term and relies on her health plan through the Affordable Care Act to pay for lifesaving medication and the frequent doctor visits she requires. She’s so terrified the ACA will be repealed that she’s suicidal.

A fourth friend, also with a pre-existing medical condition, and who recently lost her job, is in the same predicament.

A fifth friend, Hispanic, married to an African-American, with three mixed-race children, worries how she is going to explain to her daughter what happened, and is frightened for her teenage sons’ safety.

Each of these wonderful beautiful vibrant people lives in a different part of the country.  Each of them lives in a “red” state.  Each of them is now afraid to be who they are in their own country.

Those of you who voted for the man?  This is what you have wrought.

He is a racist.
He is a xenophobe.
He is a sexist.
He is an Islamophobe.
He is a homophobe.
He is a self-confessed sexual predator.

That’s what you voted for.  That was what you wanted in a leader.

But wait.  There’s more. 

His vice-president thinks electrocution will shock gay people into being straight.

May the gods help us all.

On writing slumps and unintentional hiatuses

Blog Entry MemeHere’s a truth:  I really like the idea of structured blog posts — Finished Object Fridays, Work In Progress Wednesdays, and so forth — but that sort of restriction just doesn’t fit easily into my schedule. Working full time puts a cramp in my blogging style, don’tcha know; after a long day dealing with trainees, colleagues, and general government bureaucracy, I’m utterly exhausted by the time I get home from the office. It’s all I can do to change out of my business attire and collapse on the sofa with the remote and a bowl of popcorn.  Feed the dogs?  Oh, sheesh, do I have to?  All right, all right, stop yapping at me.  I’ll take care of you.

So what happens? When I have something to say, I have to find the time to say it on the weekends. On a writing day, I will often compose several blog entries over the course of several hours and schedule them to appear at various times throughout the next week or so. This is especially true for book reviews.

Sometimes, though, even that much discipline is beyond me, and nothing appears for weeks, sometimes months, at a time. Such is how it’s been ever since we had Mote put to sleep at the end of July.  On top of the grief, I’ve had at least three doctors’ appointments every month since June in an effort to alleviate a chronic, non-life-threatening-but-it’s-bothering-the-hell-out-of-me problem.  (Solution — surgery will be scheduled in the near future.)  I’m finally pulling myself out of the grief and ennui and general all-around tiredness enough to think about writing regularly again. With two finished projects to show off, one work in progress, a crap-ton of book reviews to write, plus the newest Rowan and Vogue Knitting magazines to discuss, there’s certainly plenty to write about. (Yes, faithful reader, I know: returning to reviewing knit magazines was a stated goal from 2014.  *sigh*  This slump has been both long-standing AND intermittent.)

No one out there is awaiting my next blog entry with bated breath, but that’s not the point.  This blog is a creative outlet that provides an opportunity to show off pretty things I made and occasionally pontificate on life, books, and the state of the world.  (I’m thrilled that a few folks  think it’s worth their time follow these shenanigans.  Thank you.  You all rock.)

All that to say, I’ve missed this.  And I’m going to do better.  As it happens, this long holiday weekend is a good time to set fingers to keyboard and get that writing mojo flowing.

Let the revels begin.

Sweet dreams, Mote

Baby Mote 3We knew this day was coming. And on Wednesday, it arrived. Our darling Mote was put to rest at last.

Mote came to live with me in late March 1997, when he was — best guess — not quite six weeks old.  He and his littermates had been dumped by the side of the road near a friend’s house; I couldn’t take all of those babies, but I could take one, and this sweet-faced blue-eyed ginger tabby grabbed my heart.

Q and Teenage Mote Although he was weaned much too early due to being dumped, he didn’t lack for mothering from Jacquenetta, then three years old.  She adopted him like he was her own, and did the best she could to make up for the lack of his real mother.

As a kitten, Mote had a fondness for ice cream.  I remember  once noshing on some creamy vanilla goodness, when a delicate little orange paw came questing along the edge of the bowl, followed shortly by an inquisitive orange nose.

He got to lick the spoon.

Mote and Books 3
Mote’s eyes didn’t stay blue; they turned a startling golden amber in short order, and changed that sweet kitten face into something fierce and wild.

He was a difficult cat to love.  Being weaned so early made him neurotic and skittish, despite being showered with love and affection nearly every moment.  He could be sweet, so sweet, and would hop in my lap (or my husband’s when he joined the family in 2000) and demand to be petted.  In a flash, though, those amber eyes would turn icy, and his sharp claws would strike, and he would launch himself across the room with a hiss and a growl because he was petted just one stroke too many.  He had a habit of trying to nurse on a shirt or a dish towel, if I left one lying on the floor, kneading it and dragging it beneath him while he purred and suckled on a tiny corner.  One gets comfort wherever one can, I suppose.  I never begrudged him his lovey.

Mote TailAnother thing that contributed to his wild neuroses was getting his clock punched on countless occasions by the neighborhood feral cats. After the third or fourth time spouse and I paid a couple hundred dollars to the emergency after-hours vet to have an ear sewn or a bite inspected, we decided he was no longer allowed outside. He pouted and moped and yowled and whined, and eventually accepted his fate. He and Jacquenetta both became indoor cats — it wouldn’t have been fair to allow her outside and not allow him.

Once he became an indoor-only kitty, Mote mellowed out a little. Not quite so jumpy, not quite so skittish, but a sudden sneeze would forever send him scampering and seeking shelter. Still, when he settled, he settled. He loved his fleece bed, and he loved sleeping on (or under) the bed in the spare bedroom. He also loved to perch in high places, one of them being a highboy dresser in our bedroom. We eventually made him a special red throne pillow and put it on top of the dresser to provide him a soft place to sleep (and not-so-coincidentally, keep the finish from getting scratched).

Mote became quite the traveler, though no fault of his own. I work for the federal government, you see, and advancing in my career meant we pulled up stakes every few years and moved across the country.  Mote went from Arkansas to California to Alabama to Georgia, and only meowed for the first three hours on the road for each day of driving.  No, seriously, he was a good passenger.  He was content in his crate; he didn’t try to escape the motel room when we stopped for the night, and he accepted the indignity of using the cardboard lid of a case of paper for a litter box while we were in transit.

Through it all, Mote returned time and again to snuggle with his life-long companion, Jacquenetta.  When we lost her in late December 2014, he didn’t know what to do with himself.  He prowled the house, searching and searching, and he cried, and came to me wanting comfort, then rejected the comfort as soon as I tried to provide it.  And about this time last year, some six months after Jacquenetta died, he started his own decline with kidney failure.

Snuggle KittiesTuesday evening when I came home from work, I noticed three things: Mote hadn’t touched his food; he hadn’t used his box; and he couldn’t walk more than a few steps before he lost his balance and had to lie down. I suspected he’d had a seizure that day while we were at work. After a tearful discussion with spouse that evening, we decided it was time to let him go.  I called my office first thing Wednesday morning and told them I wouldn’t be in.  And Mote and I took his last car trip together to the vet, where I held him in my arms and cried while the doctor administered the medication that let him rest.

And now he’s snuggling with Miss Q again.

Goodbye, sweet Mote, prickly Mote, cantankerous and lovely and ferocious Mote.  I’ll love you always and always and forever.

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Mote.  2/15/1997-7/27/2016.

Stash Enhancement Saturday: Moon Pie Edition

Bell Buckle MuralA couple of weeks ago, my partner in crime Alice and I took a little road trip to the RC Cola and Moon Pie Festival in Bell Buckle, Tennessee.

Bell Buckle, population less than 500, is a wide spot in the road that, if it weren’t for this silly paean to the quintessential Southern snack, would be utterly unremarkable and garner no attention whatsoever.  It’s a two-street town, centered at the intersection of a couple of rural two-lane blacktop highways on the way to nowhere.

This isn’t to say the town lacks a certain charm.  There’s a quilt painted into the road on the main drag.

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Image copyright Bell Buckle Chamber of Commerce

Plus the sheer whimsy of a festival devoted to a now fairly obscure carbonated cola and a chocolate-covered marshmallow sandwich speaks for itself, yes?

The parade was cute.  Alice took these photos:

RC Cola Moon Pie SnackNaturally, we indulged in the delicacy being celebrated.  I can’t remember the last time I had a Moon Pie, much less an RC Cola.  In fact, I can’t remember the last time I saw RC Cola in the grocery store.  Of course, I seldom shop the soda aisle, so it may be there, hidden somewhere among all the Pepsi and Coke products.  Although I remember preferring RC Cola to Coke or even Pepsi when I was a kid, these days I’m a Pepsi drinker, if I drink a cola.  (Unsweetened iced tea is my preferred beverage at restaurants; Dr. Pepper or root beer otherwise.)  By the way, if you’re at all interested in RC Cola’s history and, specifically, how the Cola Wars of the 80s and the battle over artificial sweeteners affected the brand, take a gander at this Mental Floss article from April 2016.  Also, if you can find the back issue, Rolling Stone published a big article on the Cola Wars sometime in the late 1980s.  (This subject fascinates me, if you haven’t noticed.)

After the parade, we wandered around the festival booths.  There were the usual souvenir T-shirt stands, kettle corn and hot dog stands, “vintage” or “bohemian” clothing booths, plus a couple of guys selling sunglasses and ball caps.  We stopped at the hand-made dog treat booth where Alice indulged in special yum-yums for her baby.  And we both stopped dead in our tracks at the booth with the yard critters made out of sheet metal.

Just look.

Metal Yard MonstersAren’t they precious?  One of the triceratops belongs to Alice; the other triceratops and the flying pig (I know!) are mine.  (They’re currently in the garage because I can’t make up my mind where to put them in the back yard.)  This booth had all sorts of other critters I liked: flying pigs on stakes so you could position them above your shrubbery; giraffes; a T-Rex; so much more.  I should have taken a photo of the booth itself, but I was so enraptured by the dinos and the pigs that I forgot.

By now you’re probably thinking, “Wait a minute, I thought this was a stash enhancement Saturday post.  Where’s the new stash?”

Silk Traveler 1Wait no more.  After a few hours, we were done with the festival, and we headed up the road a little further to Murfreesboro and The Knaughty Knitter.  Nice little store, easy access, good parking, sufficient and varied stock.  I came away with two skeins of indulgence, Meadowcroft DyeworksSilk Traveler, in the Pisgah National Forest colorway.  It’s gorgeous.  I’m going to pair it with a skein of purple or maybe a green sockweight that I already own and turn it into a lace cardigan.  Eventually.  (In reality, these two skeins will probably sit in stash for about three years before I do something with them.)

In other news, I finally finished the Wildflower Cardigan.  Photos and a blog entry coming soon.  Also, more book reviews.

New York, Day 6

Baby Juice GlassesFriday was our last day. Our plane left in late afternoon, and hotel checkout wasn’t required until noon, so we dilly-dallied around in the morning, taking a subway ride down to 72nd Street to (a) find an ATM for our bank and (b) find breakfast.

Breakfast was at Utopia Restaurant on Amsterdam. It was delicious.  Please notice the tiny baby juice glasses. We were served juice in these itty bitty plastic tumblers everywhere we went for breakfast. They’re just so cute!  Then we wandered up and down the street for a while in search of our bank.  Turns out the ATM wasn’t at a bank branch at all, but inside a Duane Reade store.

These stores are ubiquitous in Manhattan. I had never heard of them before we arrived, but it seemed like every time we turned around, we saw one. They were quite handy, though. I had accidentally left my reading glasses at home, so Day 1 found us inside the store across the street from our hotel buying new reading glasses and bottled water for our long walk down to Times Square.  And we were in and out of the store for in-room snacks and more bottled water throughout the week.  (That Google image above is interactive, by the way.  You can move it around to see the neighborhood surrounding our hotel.)

Dinos Pack Themselves 1In case you were wondering, we left the dinosaurs back in the hotel room for this little excursion. They did most of the packing while we were gone. Very efficient, those dinosaurs.  We finished up what was left, and called the bellman to come take our luggage downstairs.

Did I mention that our hotel didn’t have an elevator?  And we were on the fourth floor?  Yes, Virginia, that does mean that every single day, after wearing ourselves to the bone walking around playing tourist, we had to drag our tired carcasses up four flights of stairs to our room.  Four narrow flights of stairs, at that.  It also means that the bellman was allowed the privilege of carrying both suitcases, one of them massive, up and down those narrow flights of stairs.  Don’t worry, he was tipped well.

Since our flight didn’t leave until 6:00 PM, we were going to check out but leave the luggage at the hotel while we wandered around some more, and then take Uber to the airport in mid-afternoon, but the bellman told us we could catch a bus just a couple of blocks up the street that would take us directly to our terminal, and we could use our subway transit passes to pay for it.  He checked the schedule for us, and the next bus to LaGuardia left in about 30 minutes.  After a brief consult — “Do you want to see anything else?”  “No, not really, I’m kind of tired of walking around and looking at stuff.” — we decided we were really tired of Manhattan and were ready to get started on our outbound trip.  So we dragged our luggage up to 106th Street and caught the bus.

Said bus took us through Harlem, right past the Apollo and other landmarks.  I didn’t have my camera or my phone out, so we didn’t catch any photos as we drove through.  Here’s another interactive Google image, though.

We got to the airport about five hours ahead of our flight, so we wandered around, ate lunch, read, played on our phones, and killed time chitchatting while we waited for our plane to board. The flight back to Atlanta was uneventful, as was picking up our car from long-term parking and making the Back to the Jungle 2short drive home. One of the advantages of living in a major metro area like the ATL is we’re less than 20 minutes away from the airport. Still, we were exhausted when we arrived at the house and went straight to bed.

The next morning, while we picked up the critters from the kennel (that was a shock to the wallet), the dinosaurs headed back into the jungle, there to await their next trip. So long, dinos; we’ll see you again soon, I hope.

People have asked me what was the best part of this trip.  Naturally, seeing all the things in person that I had only ever seen in photographs or movies or TV ranks really high, but truly, the best part was spending an entire week doing stuff with my husband and remembering that, not only do I love him, I really truly do like him.  Here’s to many more anniversary trips, honey.  I love you bunches.