Friday, August 28, 2009

Freakin' Huge!

Today, Iwanski and I went to Bacci Pizzeria for lunch.

We each ordered a “jumbo slice” of pizza.

And when I say “jumbo slice,” I mean HUMUNGOUS slice. Seriously, this was the biggest piece of pizza I have ever seen. I couldn’t finish it.

Check it out. (The picture doesn’t even do it justice.)

This is why I love living in America.

P.S. Notice the bowl of baby carrots next to me on the table? (I am, after all, still Miss Healthypants.)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Rough Week

This past week was very rough for my family and me—but at least it ended well!

On Tuesday night, I got a phone call from my sister saying that my Dad had had a heart attack and was in the hospital—but no further details. I was SO shocked. My Dad eats right (for the most part) and exercises!—how could he, of all people, have had a heart attack?! So I got on the phone with my other family members to find out more details, and eventually learned that Dad was stable, but that he needed open heart surgery the next day.

Open-heart surgery!!—that sounded so scary to me!! My hubby and I packed our bags and headed up to Wisconsin (to the hospital) early the next morning.

I saw Dad before his surgery, and he expressed to me that he couldn’t believe that most of his kids came to be with him. (I have a brother who lives in Utah, so he unfortunately couldn’t make it—but the rest of us—I have 7 siblings—live at least within a 4-5 hour drive of him…so we all came to be with him and my Mom in the hospital.) And even my brother and sister-in-law in Utah were calling and on Facebook often to hear updates, so Dad knew they were there with us, too. As Dad told me that he couldn’t believe we were all there with him, he got teary-eyed and said that he was so touched that we were all there. Well, of course then I cried, too. I love my Daddy-o so much!

My Mom had a rough time with this, too. She—like all of us—never expected that my Dad would have a heart attack. He was always so healthy! In fact, the day he had the heart attack, he had been having chest pains (he thought it was heartburn), and he went out and mowed the lawn! That’s just the way Dad is.

But I’m happy to report that my Dad is doing well right now. He had the surgery late on Wednesday night, and today, the doctors told him that he’ll be going home! That was great news. I called Dad and told him to be sure to take it easy when he goes home, and he said “Carla, I’m not that dumb.” I had to laugh.

I know it won’t be easy for him—or Mom—since he can’t do all of the things he used to do just yet. But I think (I hope!) that he’ll follow the doctor’s orders and get lots of rest.

One good thing about this past week (besides the fact that my Dad is doing better) is that my siblings and I (and their wonderful spouses) really reconnected. We really came together to support each other, and in the process, grew closer. I saw my sister Holly (who lives in Minnesota) for the first time in two years. It was wonderful to see her again. Since Holly and I live in different states (Minnesota and Illinois), we don’t see each other very often, so at one point someone commented that they barely ever see her and I together. Then someone else said, “I was beginning to wonder if you two maybe were both the same person.” We laughed and laughed—and then of course, everyone had to get out their cameras and take pictures of Holly and me sitting next to each other. It was too funny!

I also talked to so many of my siblings and their spouses on the phone. I talked to my sister-in-law in Utah for the first time in probably almost ten years. It was so great to hear her voice!

Then, one day, a few days after Dad’s surgery, I had been on the phone a lot and suddenly realized that I had talked on the phone to four of my sisters in one day! I don’t think that’s ever happened!

And when you’re waiting in the hospital, there’s not much to do but talk, so talk we did. One day, I heard the stories of how two of my sisters met their spouses. I had never heard those stories before, and it was fun to hear about all of that! It was just so great reconnecting with all of them.

I also felt like I reconnected with my Mom, too. My hubby and I spent almost four days with my Mom (most of the time at the hospital), and even though it wasn’t under the best circumstances, I really enjoyed spending time with her. In the hospital, to pass the time when we couldn’t be with Dad, we fixed puzzles…and we ate together and shared stories. It sounds weird to say this, but it really was a nice time.

And also, it was great to see how strong we all were together, and how we all possess different strengths. Two of my sisters and my sister-in-law are all in the medical profession (one’s a respiratory therapist; the other two are nurses), so they could offer a lot of insight into what was happening with Dad. What did it mean when Dad’s hands were puffy? That’s normal. Why does he have that “Frankenstein-looking thing” attached to his neck? That’s normal, too. (I think it was for delivering drugs or checking his blood pressure; I can’t exactly remember.)

And my sister-in-law Mary is just a gem. She works at the hospital where my Dad was staying (she works in the OB-GYN area, with nursing mothers)—so that gave us all a certain comfort level. And every morning, she’d wake up really early (like at 6 a.m.—or maybe earlier) and then go over to the hospital to see Dad. It was such a comfort to know that she’d always be there in the morning. When I told her, “Mary, that’s so nice of you to get here so early to see Dad,” she said, “Oh, it’s no problem. I’m a morning person, anyway.” Still, she didn’t have to be there, and she was. What a lovely person!

So I guess you can say that even though it was a tough week, it was also a good week.

I told my siblings that we need to get together (ALL of us) more often, and my Dad agreed. He told me that although we normally have a “January Birthday Bash” and a “May Birthday Bash" (we have a lot of January and May birthdays in my family), we didn’t have either of those this year, since everyone was so busy. He sounded a little sad about it, and it made me feel even more determined to make sure we all get together—at least once a year.

Maybe this year—after Dad’s feeling even better—Thanksgiving will be the right time to get together and thank God for the blessing of healing my wonderful Daddy-o.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Climbing Roastburger Mountain

Well, I finally did it. After months of longing to try an Arby’s Roastburger, I finally ate one. And I only had to walk up fourteen flights of stairs to eat it.

Let me ‘splain.

Last night, we had storms in Chicago. This morning, we woke up with no water and no air conditioning. It was a power issue, we were told, and Giant Massive Power Company was working on it.

By 5:00 PM, we still had no water or air conditioning. Then Iwanski called me at work to tell me that now the elevators weren’t working in our building, either. Our apartment management told him that Giant Massive Power Company was waiting on some part to fix the problem, and then all three would be up and running again.

Iwanski suggested that I might want to stay at work later tonight, to wait for everything to be fixed.

So I worked and I waited. I called him at 6:00 PM. Still no water/air conditioning/elevators. Then at 6:30 PM. Still not working.

Finally, at close to 7:00 PM, I had had enough of this work crap and was ready to come home…even if it meant that I had to walk up the twenty-one flights to our apartment.

On my way home, I called Iwanski. “The water just came on,” he reported.

“Yay!” I replied. “I’m going to stop and get us some Arby’s.” I was so glad that I’d be coming home to all the modern conveniences of elevators, running water, and air conditioning. An occasion like this, I thought to myself, calls for a Roastburger.

So I forked over the $3.59 (man, some fast food sandwiches are pricey!), plus the cost of Iwanski’s requested foods, and walked home, gleefully carrying the bag with my precious Roastburger in it.

As I approached the elevators in our building, I could see that something was wrong. For one thing, there were like ten people waiting in the lobby. For another thing, three of the elevators were standing wide open, with the lights off.

“What’s going on? Are the elevators working?” I inquired.

“Only one of them,” said the woman standing in front of me.

Okay. One elevator. I could live with this.

So all ten of us piled into the one working elevator, and it slowly closed and began ascending.

After a few floors, all of the sudden the whole elevator jolted, and then stood still.

“Oh man,” said a fellow passenger.

“Oh shit!” I said. I am pretty clausterphobic at times, so I absolutely dread getting stuck in an elevator. “Someone push the down button,” I said. “I want to get off.”

Suddenly, the elevator jolted again and began going down. It got down to the first floor, but then the door didn’t open.

We all stood there holding our breaths.

The elevator jolted once more, and once again began ascending. It stopped on the seventh floor, and the door finally opened.

“I’m getting off!” I proclaimed, and one dude and I both pushed our way out.

“What floor do you have to walk up to?” I asked the dude as we began walking up the stairs.

“The ninth floor,” he said. “How about you?”

“The twenty-first floor,” I replied.

“Whew, man—you’re athletic,” he remarked.

“Not really,” I said. “I just hate getting stuck in elevators. I once got stuck in an elevator in this building, for ten minutes. I was really scared.”

“I can understand that,” he said as he opened the door for the ninth floor. “Good luck!”

“Thanks!” I replied, and continued to huff and puff my way up the stairs.

On the thirteenth floor, I called Iwanski and told him that I was on my way up the stairs.

“Oh my gosh, honey! I’m sorry!” (Iwanski often apologizes for things that aren’t his fault.)

“It’s—okay,” I said, trying to catch my breath. “I’ll be up soon.”

Finally, I made it up to our apartment.

Still huffing and puffing, I settled down to eat my Roastburger.

So after all that…how was the Roastburger, you may ask?

Well, it was nothing but a damn roast beef sandwich!

Yeah, I don’t know what I was expecting, but the advertisements had just made it look SO good. But when it came right down to it, it was just a big roast beef sandwich with no sauce on it.

No sauce! What were they thinking?! Don’t they know that Miss Healthypants likes her food MOIST? (That’s my #1 requirement of food—it’s got to be moist. Buck can attest to that.)

So I squeezed some barbecue sauce on it and polished off my long-awaited Roastburger, which turned out to be just a regular ole’ roast beef sandwich.

I’ve learned an important lesson today. Sometimes the anticipation is much better than the Roastburger.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Moment

A soft cat gently settling upon my lap,
The rain coming down in sheets,
Refreshing the earth,
Refreshing my soul.

A single strawberry, so sweet upon my tongue,
The warmth of an August evening,
Putting on shorts and a t-shirt
And going for a walk in the air
Which envelopes me
In softness, warmth,

Blessings in the rain,
Blessings in the sun.
A ripe tomato, juicy and light.
A spicy red onion,
A touch of fresh basil.

Experiencing life.
How could I have missed it?
These precious days,
These precious moments.

A frosty fruit smoothie
As I meander down the street
Taking in the sights,
The people,
The energy,
The lightness.

And later, the light dimming softly,
The cool evening breeze
A child giggling in pleasure
As the swing slowly swings,
Back and forth,
Back and forth.

A little boy throws a ball
It goes into the bushes.
Laughing, smiling,

This is happiness.
Dollar bills?
Fancy meals?
Expensive cars?
A humongous house?

The moment?
That’s all there is.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Actual Conversation Had At Two In The Morning at the Best Western in Maysville, Kentucky

Miss Healthypants (video taping Iwanski, who’s lying down on the bed): Are you drunk on wine?

Iwanski (drunk on wine for the first time in fifteen years): Turn the video off.

Miss Healthypants: Just tell me—are you drunk on wine?

Iwanski: Shut up, you know I am. I just stumbled into the bathroom wall.

Miss Healthypants: So would you say that you’re a Stumbly-Wumbly?

Iwanski: If there’s Wumblies, I’m one of the Stumblies.

Miss Healthypants: Say “I’m a Stumbly-Wumbly.”

Iwanski: If there is a Wumbly population, I am one of the Stumblies of such.

Miss Healthypants (laughing): Say “I am a Stumbly-Wumbly.”

Iwanski: There’s a chance…I don’t believe in labels.

Miss Healthypants: Come on, be a Stumbly Wumbly!

Iwanski: Let’s say I’m a Blue Dog Stumbly.

Miss Healthypants (laughing): Is that like a Blue Dog Democrat?

Iwanski: It’s better. Hey, you’re not going to blog about this, are you?

Miss Healthypants: No, of course not.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Miss Travelpants Has Returned!

Iwanski and I are back from a road trip through Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, and Pennsylvania…and oh, what a trip it was! We had so much fun, and took so many pictures, that it was hard for me to decide what pictures to share with y’all. (I love the word “y’all”—definitely my favorite word in the Southern dialect. At least I like it as long as the person saying it has more than two teeth—but more about that later.)

Anyway, without further adieu, I hope y’all enjoy the following road trip pictures.

As we approached our first hotel room in Kentucky, we saw this scene.

Hot air balloons! There was a race going on in the town where we were staying. I never thought I’d be into hot air balloons at all, but it was quite an awesome sight!

The next day, it was my first time in West Virginia!

Here's the New River Gorge in West Virginia—one of the most beautiful sights I’ve ever seen.

This was also my first time in rural Virginia! (I was in urban Virginia—in Arlington—during our Washington, DC trip.)

Here's a view from the George Washington National Forest in Virginia:

Finally, we made it to our main destination—the beautiful Shenandoah National Park in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Here’s Iwanski standing on an abandoned railroad in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

We saw several deer hanging out in the forest. They seemed very unafraid of people.

Then, to our delight, we saw one of these fellas on the side of the road! The next day, we even saw a mother bear and her little cub. It was too cool!

Apparently this is how the Shenandoah residents know what time it is.

And of course, to have the whole John Denver experience (“Almost heaven, West Virginia…Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah River…”), I had to see the Shenandoah River. (I just like how these chairs look next to the river.)

We had an amazing walk through the Luray Caverns in Luray, Virginia.

We also visited Harpers Ferry (the site of John Brown’s famous “attack on slavery”) and saw this very old building.

Gettysburg National Military Park and Gettysburg National Cemetery were amazing places to visit.

Here is the view from our hotel room in Virginia, overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains and Shenandoah National Park.

We absolutely loved our Southern/Shenandoah road trip!