Saturday, August 31, 2013

Science Museum and Renaissance Festival mini vacation: August 2013

Feeling blue, physically weak and tired, 
and overly emotional just after surgery to remove a cancerous
parotid gland on my neck and the lymph nodes nearby,
I decided the best way to begin feeling better
would be to get tickets for the family to the Mayan Exhibit at
the Minnesota Science Museum
and then the Renaissance Festival 
plus book a hotel room for two nights outside of Shakopee.

Something to look forward to 
plus a time frame to work on feeling
stronger was my plan.

Yay!  So just 11 days after surgery and mandatory hospital stay
we headed up to St. Paul.  
Just to make things a bit crazier this was also the day
we assisted Maeve in getting registered for 
classes at Winona State 16 year old baby!
Off to take on the academic world!
Maybe that was part of my emotional frailty?
Nope, I am always emotional!

What a blast we had!
We were there at the same time the State Fair was happening,
so it was so nice and uncrowded !

Our first stop at the museum was the OMNITHEATER!
They always play a documentary based around the theme.
Well done!

While waiting our turn into the Mayan exhibit hall,
we shopped at the gift shop and 
played on the musical stairs!
I LOVE this place!
This is the foyer of the musical stairs!

Inside the exhibit we found so many
hands on activities geared toward all age levels.
The kids were solving  problems in base 20 math system
(the numeric system of the Mayans)
and actually having fun while learning!

Here are a few pics of the some of the activities:
Piecing together shards (harder than it looks!)

 Fionn and Maeve created the pattern in the background...
Nice tessalation!

Fionn is holding the 8 pound ball the Mayans
played with, often with the losers really losing
as they were sacrificed!  YIKES!

The kids created an animation on my pic
of a "royal Mayan woman" 
I sure look fancy!

Sorcha is using a tumpline  to haul a load just like the Mayans did.
Well, almost...her load was 12 pounds, 
theirs was up to 60 pounds!
We learned that the Mayan pyramids were built 
stone by stone carried up by people...
no wheels or beast of burdens for this culture at that time!

Maeve is standing amid the ruins

The girls used a fancy "ViewMaster"
to explore images of the real ruins.
If you get a chance to go,
It was so well done!

We then headed over to Shakopee for the night
at the Americinn.
Nice rooms and a nice pool plus continental breakfast!

The next day we zipped over to the fest grounds
just 10 minutes away!

Maeve's favorite area: GLASS BLOWING

Sorcha's favorite activity: SHOPPING!

And Fionn likes the giant wind chimes!

Elf  EARS!

A sign of a successful day?
Super dirty feet!

We had so much fun!
We did bug out a bit early this year, though.
We did not stay for the dismissal drums but left instead at 4.
The heat and humidity just made the pool seem so
much more appealing!

We ordered in pizza and pasta,
played in the pool for 2.5 hours,
and watched movies until we all zonked out,
about midnight!

What a great mini get-a-way!
What a great way to feel better!


The Making of a Barn Quilt

After touring Houston County Minnesota on a quest 
to find some of the 59 barn quilts listed in their brochure,
we decided to make one of our own!

The hardest part was deciding on a pattern.
We wanted something to represent our family...
Shamrocks and GLITTER!
(not sure how the sparkles will weather this winter, 
but we are enjoying it really glitters in the sunshine!)

Then we grabbed some graph paper,
came up with a plan,
purchased a quart of outdoor paint in all our colors, 
some plywood, 
primer, plus brushes
and got busy!
First we created a smaller version for the chicken coop!
 Cutie 2x2!  We finished this one in 2 days

Then we began on the large 4x4
Primer first...pencil in design second...
paint third. 
We tried taping for nice straight lines
but the paint bled through (frog tape, even!)
From start to finish, this one took us 5 days.
Yup, no dinner at the table that week!

 My very brave hubby put it up on the barn...

Have fun designing your own!

Friday, August 16, 2013

What I did this summer or 2 trips to Indianapolis, lots of day trips, and cancer (yikes!)

Those of you who follow along with my simple
life will recognize these pictures
from the beginning of the summer:
 We remodeled our huge master bedroom!
Found this great old wallpaper...PRETTY!

We had no walls for years...

 It really is 1/2 the area of the house on the 2nd floor..
I know, I am spoiled...

Meanwhile, all the dogs got their summer hair cut..
 Pippin looks ridiculous!
 Jack and Billy clean up very well...John, too!

Grandma came up one day to bake a 
lemon merenge pie with Fionn...YUMMY!

Sorcha and I watched all of Dr Who this summer...
Series 1-7 ...all 3 of the latest Doctors..
so we had to order in some Jammie Dodgers
right from London...interesting...Jelly Babies are better.
(wondering how many Doctor Who fans are reading this?
It really is an excellent series that leaves me crying on
the couch every other episode! You should try it!)

Meanwhile back upstairs...
The contractor, Greg Gommels, is making progress...

Yep, me, too...we painted the walls a nice soft gray.
This is when I began to have troubles with my "lymph nodes"
I thought I pulled something out of place while painting 
that huge ceiling.  I thought I had whiplash for weeks!
It turned out to be a malignant tumor in my parotid gland 
just under my jawline.  You can read more on the previous post...
or continue for a summary....

We put John's little call duck outside finally.
Baby was living in the house with us as she 
imprinted on my hubby and couldn't stand
to be without him.
She LOVED it outside and gradually attached herself
to the dogs and big ducks.
SAD SAD SAD as the fox got her along with half of my chicken flock.  

Meanwhile back in the house....
we sorted and organized everything!
Created a new reading corner...

reorganized the bill area...

cleaned up the extra supplies...

revamped the living room...

Made a Doctor Who shelf...(I know, I am a geek!)

Painted over a dated heart/star border...

Found the parakeets a new window seat...

Organized every cabinet in the kitchen...

 Freshened up the relatively new bathroom
with a new shower curtain and bins....

Meanwhile back upstairs,
Greg turned with old 120 year old floor into....
 THIS!    Isn't it lovely?

We had a great crop of strawberries...
 and a very nice clematis growing amid the grapes...

 I just LOVE those berries!

Lee and Graham came home in late June for a visit...
LOVE LOVE LOVE their fish shirts!
 Pippin misses his boys...
 We got Bloedows for the boys...

 Just hanging out....

Of course we had to have a target shooting session...
 I think Sorcha won!
 So glad they came home....

We finally got to put the finishing touches on our room!
Here are a few pics...

Fionn's room got a revamp, too!

 As well as the hallway....

 Graham came back one more time before leaving for Atlanta.
We went to The Olde Triangle in Wabasha...

 Followed by dessert in Nelson at the Creamery!

I went to an internal medicine doctor in Winona
as my neck was not getting any better...
see the gross lump here?
I was still thinking it was swollen lymph nodes ...
She ordered an ultrasound for the next week...

Here we are at Latch Island which was mostly under water..

 so we walked over to Wisconsin instead....

We upcycled some teapots to make these interesting
lawn decorations...

We had another broody hen hatch out chicks!

I went with my Mom and Aunt Laine to visit
the Grandbabies, Shae, and Chris in Indianapolis!
 What a nice time!
 Cookie monster at the mall!
 Great Grandma getting to know Calla Lu
 Calla Lu using the ipad...really!

 Sisters playing in!
 Grandma wants in on the fun, too!


Swimming ...

 Saying goodbye...

We stopped in Wisconsin Dells on the way home
to visit briefly with Lee...he is the kitchen manager
at the Moose Jaw...MMMMM!
 Don't you love the hats?

Cherry Berry finally opened in La Crosse!

 yep, we've been there 3 times already!
Here's about the time the ultrasound was done...
the prognosis was tumor, MRI, Surgeon, get it out...scary!

We had tickets to both Shakespeare plays to take my mind off of
the nasty business of tumors...still thinking it was benign...

Maeve turned 16!  OH MY GOODNESS!

Another day trip...this one was a quick hike around Galesville.
I just love the swinging bridge!
And the kids love making my scream on it!

Oh, my! The mulberries were prolific this year!

Grandpa and I went to the free family day at the
Minnesota Museum of Art...
 This pic was for Melissa who LOVES whale sharks!

We tried squeezing in a few campfires...

Sorcha adopted a kitty...
his mama still feeds him, but the kids have him in the house
so often, I am afraid he's going to become an indoor cat....

To take my mind off my medical issue, John took me on
a barn quilt tour of Houston County...
here are some of them 
(we actually only found 10 of 59!)

Love Love Love rainbows! I saw this after visiting the
Ears, Nose, Throat Surgeon at Gunderson...
He told me my type of tumor was usually benign...9 out of 10 times.
So no worries! (that didn't work out so well!)
He scheduled surgery for August 12.

So Sorcha and I hit the road again for Indy!
Wren and Sorcha are two peas in a pod!

 I just love this little bug, Calla!

The farmers' market was awesome....
 This guy makes homemade, organic popsicles called
Nicee's  "Because Nice Matters!"

 The weather was gorgeous...usually July in Indy is 
This day was  perfect !
We went to the conservatory to see the butterfly room...


 Then on to the zoo to see the seals 
(one of Wren's favorites)

 Here we can pet the sharks!

 Wren found a penguin!

 Wren also played in the mini water park...

Shae has enrolled the girls in a class called
"Little Green Thumbs"
It is held in a smaller conservatory where
they hear a short lesson, do a project, then tend to their
little community cute!
 Here Wren is painting with veggies.
Shae handed her a new tray of paint and said,
"Here, try the green..."
So she DID...she thought mama meant it was food!
Too funny!

Farmer Wren....
 Wren's teacher...

She loves the fish...

 Wren and I have found a letterbox!

All the girls in the back of Tilson's new van 
waiting for the Organic Fro Yo place to open...

Sadly, goodbyes come too soon...
 I held Calla on the last hour of our last day while she
napped and Shae was at the dentist...I am so blessed!

OKAY, here is where the bad news comes in.
As I was speeding 75 mph north on 39 not too far from Rockford,
the surgeon called to say that my tumor was
malignant....BAD BAD BAD news.
I needed to sob but was also aware of how upset Sorch was,
plus traffic got very heavy, and we hit one big rainstorm.
I didn't have too much time to feel sorry for myself.
Then we saw another rainbow!
Everything was going to be all right!

Back home, we began making our own barn quilts
(to take my mind off CANCER)

John also helped to rescue 8 baby call ducks...
they are getting a bath!

Up goes the large quilt on the shop...

 and up goes a little one for the chicken coop!
 Also to keep busy, we processed a box of peaches...
jam, salsa,syrup...mmmmmm!

 My Auntie took me out to lunch and brought along this 
great poster...she was going to bring it to postop but
thought I might think I had died and went to heaven!
Too funny!

This is a funny picture of Maeve not wanting to get 
photographed during her first time behind the wheel!
Ninja Maeve!

Since so many people were coming for surgery,
I spent my time wisely...decorating the chicken coop!

Sorch decided it was time to donate her golden tresses to
locks of love!

Fionn and kitty...
 Maeve and Mommy Kitty..

One of my smartie Kindergarteners come over for 
milk and cookies with his teacher for reading 
100 books!  Way to go!

I love this...
John was too slow to decorate his wall upstairs
so I did it for him....

Everyone spoiled me the week before surgery...
My Sis came to stay for a bit and everyday we did something special..the 90 minute massage was awesome!
Sorch and I got pedicures.
Food and gifts kept coming from colleagues and friends!
My nephew gave me a ride on his motorcycle!
We ate porkmasters at John's company picnic!
Life is sooooo good!  I felt (and still feel) so humbled by the
outpouring of love and support from friends, family, and community!

John and I had one last date...
he took me to Harriet Island for Irishfest
to see my favorite band in the whole world... 

Graham and Shae and Chris with the Grandbabies
all arrived on Sunday for a  pizza party!
(Lee made it the next day)
 Fezes are cool

 Wren LOVES helping with chores!

 and jumping on the trampoline!


My sis had to head out early...
It was so nice to see her!

 The kids brought two Giadano's pizzas from Chicago!
I actually sobbed in gratitude!
Graham brought me a couple of GEORGIA peaches!

We headed over to the hotel the big kids were staying at
to play in the pool for awhile...

Then we walked to The Pearl Ice Cream Shop.
All good adventures end with ice cream!

Then the day I had been dreading (surgery is scary)
and looking forward to (cancer is even scarier, take it out!) 
was here.
I was feeling so blessed by the love and support I received.
The Parent Group where I work provided sandwiches and treats and water and cash for my waiting family.  
How sweet!
My poor family waited over 5 hours... it was made so much better by the food and treats!

Cut HERE....

 Off to goofy land here....there really were sparkly fairies...
and I am quite certain those were not my hands 
(We say funny things in twilight sleep!)

 To make a long story short, everything went off without a hitch!
My facial nerves were left unharmed and the whole tumor came out.
We are just now waiting to hear from pathology to see if the 
also-removed-lymph nodes where cancerous.
If no, then YAY...I am done! Cancer Free!
If not, then we will take it one day at a time to figure out our course of action....perhaps radiation.

Caution: icky pics coming...don't look if you 
don't like that kind of thing....

 Here's the incision ...kind of large right now
but it should heal into a thinner less noticeable area.
After just 2 days it already looks better
(although my ear area is super swollen and the 
place where the tumor was is super sunken)
 So, here's my plan for the rest of the summer...
Just recuperating...
and eating more antioxidants...
fresh fruits and veggies
cutting out diet soda and down on sugar ...
exercising more, 
drinking more water.
and getting plenty of rest.
But mostly I am thinking of how blessed I am to have had such 
a great summer despite the not so good parts.
Friends family, community are wonderful and I couldn't have
gotten through it without them!!!!


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