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Arizona 2017 (8/28-9/02)

September 4th, 2017 No comments

Saturday (9/2) we came home from a five day trip out to Arizona to visit Joe’s family and we brought Wookie with us.

His mom recently found out she has cancer for the third time, this time in her uterus, so we wanted to visit her before her surgery which was on Thursday, 8/31. Despite having to be admitted to the hospital the day before because she wasn’t behaving normally (she could barely stay conscious and had trouble walking), she was cleared for surgery and everything went as well as could be expected for an almost 80-year-old woman.

Since this wasn’t actually a real vacation (it was too hot to do much anyway as it was over 100 degrees every day), we didn’t plan any activities and spent most of our time just hanging out or eating at restaurants since Joe’s parents no longer cook. We ended up dining at Village Inn four times over our 5-day visit. It would have been five times if Joe’s mom hadn’t gone to the hospital Wednesday since that’s where his dad wanted to have dinner because he’s a creature of habit. The place is like a Bakers Square although the decor isn’t as nice. That being said, the food was decent, and the staff was friendly, so there’s that.

We were able to convince Joe’s day to accompany us and our niece and her family to Backyard Taco for Taco Tuesday where all he would try is the flan because he doesn’t care for tacos. It was a bit irksome when I asked the girl if any of their tacos came with cilantro, she told me no, and lo and behold there was cilantro all over the pork taco, but other than that the food was flavorful. Plus I don’t mind cilantro, but Joe doesn’t care for it and we were sharing. The pork had pineapple pieces in it and the steak tacos were pretty good as well. The only taco that was bland was the chicken. I liked that they had a salsa bar for any toppings you wanted to add. A funny thing happened there – our niece’s daughter, O, who is only two years old, chucked a plastic fork and it landed right in the crook of this girl’s arm at the table next to us. That girl has quite the arm! She managed to peg me in the forehead with a goldfish cracker sometime during the week and it actually stung!

Our Week

Monday afternoon – Arrived at Sky Harbor, got picked up by niece and her daughter, went home to drop off luggage, went to In-And-Out for food
Monday evening – Village Inn for dinner with Joe’s dad & niece’s family

Tuesday morning – Village Inn for breakfast with Joe’s parents
Tuesday afternoon – Drinks & a corndog @ Sonic; played pool & shuffleboard at clubhouse since internet was down
Tuesday evening – Backyard Taco for dinner

Wednesday morning – Lolo’s Chicken & Waffles with Joe’s dad (he liked the iced tea and waffles)
Wednesday afternoon – Joe’s mom was acting strange so we called Joe’s niece (she is medical POA)
Wednesday evening – Red Robin for dinner with Joe’s dad, sister, and niece’s daughter. We brought food to niece who had driven Joe’s mom to the hospital and had her admitted.

Thursday morning – Breakfast at Village Inn with Joe’s dad before heading to the hospital
Thursday afternoon – At hospital
Thursday evening – Picked up pizza from Salerno’s on the way home; woman who we adopted Wookie from came over to visit while Joe and his dad went to the clubhouse to use the internet

Friday morning – Breakfast at Linda’s Hoosier Cafe with Joe’s dad (we met the owner and her son), then accompanied niece & her husband to her ultrasound appointment (she’s 6 months pregnant with her second daughter). It was really cool seeing the baby! Joe’s dad left him an impatient voicemail just as we arrived back at the trailer at 10:35 to pick him up even though we had told him we’d be back between 10:30 and 11:00 am.
Friday afternoon – Visited Joe’s mom in the hospital, then after dropping his dad off at home went out for snacks. I ordered a tall green tea lemonade from Starbucks but they screwed up and charged me for a grande, then upgraded me for free to a trenta which is 30 oz! I shouldn’t have drank the whole thing but it was really good (I paid for it later at the pool when I almost had a panic attack so I’m guessing it’s either caffeine or sugar that could be a trigger). Joe got a shake from In-and-Out and we went to his sister’s house to hook up her Wii & computer. Despite having never peed in anyone’s house before, Wookie peed on her bedroom rug. Whoops! Afterwards we stopped at Jack In The Box to try their nuggets but they don’t know how to count and gave us 4 instead of 5 so we ended up with 9 total after Joe complained. They were decent but not worth $2 for 5 nuggets.
Friday evening – Dinner at Village Inn with Joe’s dad, sister, niece, and her daughter

Saturday morning – Flew home

Flight Stuff

I swear the more I fly the worse I get. I thought after falling asleep on the flight home last year I would be less anxious but even with 1.5 mg of Xanax in me I was still very nervous during take off and landing. I can’t stand the low altitude turns and both flights had periods of turbulence which required them to turn the seatbelt sign on. Coming into Arizona there was one part where the plane felt like it “dropped” considerably which scared me enough that I made an audible noise so Joe teased me about that. The takeoff on the flight home freaked me out because there was considerable vibrating when we first got airborne that I don’t recall hearing/feeling before. Even Joe later remarked it was unusual to him. We paid extra to upgrade our boarding position on that flight and ended up sitting forward of the wings whereas on the way out we had sat behind the wings. I think ideally I’d like to sit over the wings in the future. I also had to keep going pee on the flight home (3-4 times!) whereas on the flight out I only went twice.

At least Wookie was very well-behaved in her carrier for both flights. More than a few people remarked how quiet she was when we were waiting for our flight home. Sky Harbor has a really nice animal relief area too. Wookie wasn’t interested in using it, but I liked how it’s located after you go through security. We met a cute black Brussels Griffon named Pickles in there. It’s a large room near the restrooms that has fake grass, a fire hydrant, poop bags, and a sink. In contract, Midway airport has an outdoor fenced-in concrete area over by baggage claim before you go through security. It makes no sense.

TSA Hates Me

The worst thing about our trip is that I was singled out by TSA at Midway. First they swabbed my hands but apparently they didn’t like the results so they pulled me aside for a full pat-down and went through my carry-on bag. I got picked for a hand swab at Sky Harbor too but luckily that’s as far as it went. The security lady was giving me attitude, however, because I was trying to keep an eye on my jacket going through the x-ray instead of walking all the way down to where she was pointing. She kept ordering me to leave my things alone even though I wasn’t trying to touch them so finally I yelled “I’m just trying to keep an eye on my stuff!” Seriously! Thank god Joe was there to keep an eye on my stuff since I had the dog in my arms too. Someone could have easily grabbed my stuff since no one was paying attention to it since they were so concerned about what a threat I apparently was. *rolls eyes*

Observations

It got so hot during the day the asphalt would bubble and pop when you drove over it.
None of the stores or restaurants were overly air-conditioned like they are here. Probably because they can’t afford it! The only exception was the hospital.

Final Thoughts

All in all it was an interesting trip but I would never visit Arizona in August/September again unless absolutely necessary. It was so hot you couldn’t do anything outside unless you got up super early or stayed up late, and even then it was already in the mid 80’s. We slept in the trailer’s Arizona room which wasn’t as air conditioned as the rest of the trailer so the flannel pants and sweatshirts I brought were useless. I purchased a very large suitcase the weekend before at TJ Maxx for $70 which was perfect for all my stuff plus Wookie’s.

We borrowed a crate and fencing from the girl we adopted her from who lives across the street but Wookie refused to step foot in the crate so she slept on some fleece on the ground. We also ordered a potty pad holder that we had shipped directly there and which she used faithfully. The heat seemed to affect her appetite like it did us and she only ate about half the amount of food I brought. For the most part she got along with everyone except niece’s daughter since she’s not used to children. She also would bark at Joe’s dad since he wasn’t home when we first arrived so in her mind he was an intruder. That being said, by Thursday she was running around his legs wagging her tail. She got along ok with Bella even though they didn’t play together, and she wasn’t sure how she felt about her previous mom’s (whom she didn’t remember) dog. Everyone seemed to enjoy playing with her, though, and she was mostly well behaved except when we’d leave her locked up to go out. Once she realized we were actually leaving the house entirely she would calm down, however. Hopefully next time we travel we can leave her with someone we trust because while it wasn’t a big deal on this particular trip, I can’t see having her with us on a real vacation. Plus it’s $95 each way on Southwest even though she takes the place of a free carry-on.

Categories: Excursions, Family, Vacation Tags:

Indiana Beach 2017

August 14th, 2017 Comments off

This year we decided to visit Indiana Beach on a Sunday. Since the car rental places aren’t open on Sundays we opted not to rent a van and planned to take two cars. Brother # 2 contemplated coming along and would have driven me and Brother # 1 while Joe would have the kids and ES, but then my brother bailed because he found out he has Lyme disease, started medication over the weekend, and (understandably) wanted to take it easy.

The revised plan was for me to drive my other brother and myself but then Joe’s son, E, bailed as well. So that’s how we all ended up crammed into Joe’s Escape. ES sat up front since he’s the biggest of everyone and I sat between K and my brother. It wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it might be although I’m sure the Xanax I took that morning helped. We were mostly right on schedule other than the extra wait at K’s place while ES tried to locate his missing annual pass.

Indiana Beach Sign

Even so we arrived at the park right before they opened at 11 am which is not easy when they are an hour ahead of us. We opted to park in the free lot since we didn’t bring food but just a cooler with drinks. We managed to sneak some water bottles inside and made the Taco Shoppe our first stop. Everyone had two tacos except K who got a walking taco.

Tacos

Rides I ended up going on: Den of Lost Thieves, bumper cars (twice), Growler, train, carousel, Music Express. The first ride would have been better had the “guns” worked. No fun when you can’t shoot any of the targets to animate them. The Growler would have also been more fun if our car was able to spin. I didn’t want to spin too much, but it wouldn’t spin AT ALL.

Rides I wanted to go on but didn’t because a) I was worried about my balance issues or b) I didn’t want to get wet: Scrambler, Flume, Bumper Boats.

Lame, I know. Know what else is lame? Finding out the old game tickets and Cool Cash cards from previous years were not accepted. Even lamer? The new Cool Cash card we purchased was only good for the season so we ended up blowing $11 playing Skee-Ball just to ensure there wasn’t any money left on it. Even lamer still? The dumb puzzle game I got just to use up our “tickets” (electronically stored on the card).

In between rides we noshed on some Pronto Pups (aka corn dogs) and everyone except me got ice cream as well. On the way out of the park (around 4 pm) we stopped at the Taco Shoppe and grabbed tacos to go which we ate back at the car so we could wash them down with water/pop from our cooler.

The weather was warm but comfortable the entire afternoon and for the most part I didn’t feel too sweaty. Didn’t get burned either since we slathered on the sunscreen when we arrived.

While the visit was more enjoyable than I anticipated, I doubt we’ll be going back next year. I’m kinda over that park. It definitely looked even nicer than last year because just about everything was freshly painted (lot of orange was used in particular), but the rides still weren’t operating properly and most were either too intense or too childish for my tastes. Perhaps Disney has spoiled me but the only really appealing thing about Indiana Beach for Joe and me nowadays are the tacos. Since they are now open on the weekends through the end of October we MAY go back one more time just to walk around and get tacos but for a 2+ hour drive I don’t think that it’s worth the effort. Hopefully the kids and my brother won’t pester us to go next year. The main reason we felt obligated to go this year was because we had last year’s season passes that were also good for 2017.

» All Indiana Beach photos

Interesting notes/observations:
This one kid promptly fell flat on his face after getting out of his bumper car. I felt bad for him but it was also funny.
We had to get off the expressway in Indiana and take the side streets through Gary (ew) since traffic was so bad.
After dropping Brother # 1 off we had dinner at Culvers. Apparently all that theme park food wasn’t enough for us?!?!
Total out of pocket for food: $100 (since Joe paid for most of it other than Brother # 1’s Pronto Pup, nachos, and Dippin Dots).

Categories: Excursions, Family, Food Tags:

Joe’s Birthday Weekend

August 8th, 2017 Comments off

Thursday was Joe’s birthday so we had dinner at Red Lobster. Neither one of us was terribly impressed since the prices seem to keep going up while the quality goes down. I ordered the Sweet Chili Shrimp appetizer as my meal and it was way spicier than I remember. Even the strawberry lemonade that I loved so much last time wasn’t quite as good. WTH?

Friday we ate out again, this time at Red Robin so he could get his free birthday burger.

Saturday we ate out AGAIN! Sensing a theme here? This time we treated the family (my two brothers, my dad, and my brother’s g/f (my mom didn’t go)) to dinner at Warsaw Inn which is a Polish buffet that my family has been celebrating special occasions at for years. Last time we ate there with my cousin and her husband I wasn’t too impressed with the food but this time around everything was delicious. I wish my stomach could have handled even more food but at a certain point I was too stuffed to keep eating. The BBQ ribs were moist and saucy and even the stuffed cabbage was pretty decent. It had flavor at least, unlike what was served at Pierogi Fest last weekend. The pierogis were delicious too. The only thing I wasn’t too keen on where the blintzes so I’ll avoid them next time since they were dry. My only complaint was the tap water they serve – it tastes like someone bled in it. Must be well water or something.

Sunday we went to HOBO to buy transition pieces for the floor in the living/dining area and also a bag of grout since Joe is going to have to redo it in our master bathroom. It keeps cracking and pieces are coming out. We also took Wookie to the dog park where she had the place to herself for an hour which was nice. Also, she didn’t get stung which is a plus!

Monday I had lunch with a dear friend and then we did a little shopping at Half Price Books and Five Below. I got Wookie the cutest little emoji dog bed at the latter, as well as some gel pens and markers for my coloring books.

Categories: Family, Food Tags:

Pierogi Fest 2017

July 31st, 2017 Comments off

Joe took Friday off so we could take my brother to Pierogi Fest in Whiting, Indiana. Since we were going to be gone most of the day I arranged for B’s girlfriend R to watch Wookie. She arrived around 8 am so I could show her where Wookie’s food and water was, how to lock her up in her playpen when she was ready to leave, etc. Joe was teasing me because I had put together a 2-sided care sheet but what can I say? I was nervous having never left Wookie in anyone’s care before.

We all ate some apple fritters Joe brought home the day before before he and I left the house around 9 am.

We were very prepared this time around – I had extra plastic utensils, napkins, and salt and pepper with me in addition to our usual bottled water. The plastic knife in particular came in handy since they only give out forks. We arrived just before the official opening at 11 am and secured parking two blocks away near the church. Most of the main street where we used to park in previous years was already blocked by chairs people were using to hold their spot for the parade later that evening. Most lots were charging $20 to park which is just ridiculous!

We made our way through the fest to our first stop which, of course, was Dan’s Pierogis. They were woefully unprepared and despite getting there early and standing in a rather short line, we had to wait another 30 minutes for our food because most of the flavors weren’t ready yet. As if they don’t know they are the most popular booth there? They couldn’t have started preparing them sooner? Ugh. I ended up getting some taco pierogis from the Mendoza truck to tide me over while we waited. I love them! Even though they charge 75 cents extra for some salsa and sour cream it’s totally worth it.

We located seating in the shade by the nearby elementary school so that was nice since we spent a good hour, if not more, there. I ended up speaking to an older woman in a three person group who shared our picnic table. She seemed nice enough even though Joe indicated I may have offended her later when I loudly remarked that someone must not be able to read since I smelled cigarette smoke – apparently it was her and one of the guys. Oh well. It did say “non-smoking family seating” on the sign there. Ironic considering how she was remarking earlier about all the people who brought their dogs even though online it said no dogs allowed (they probably should have posted signs, though). Honestly, I don’t think she was offended, or maybe didn’t hear me, since when we left she was very friendly saying goodbye and wishing us a nice day and I didn’t detect any sarcasm.

We left the fest around 2 pm and stopped at the grocery store so J could get toothpaste, and then stopped for food at this little place called Chicago Pita Kitchen where we’ve eaten before. I did not care for my cheeseburger but the feta fries were delicious. Joe liked his Italian sausage sandwich but the fries in general there suck because they are undercooked.

My mom put together a birthday cheesecake for Joe.

We played three games of Aggravation at my parents house and got home around 8 pm. At that point Wookie had been alone for maybe three hours so not bad at all.

Note to self: do NOT get the stuffed cabbage from Dan’s Pierogis. It is completely flavorless.

Categories: Excursions, Family, Food Tags:

4th Of July Weekend

July 6th, 2017 Comments off

Friday evening Joe went out for drinks with a work buddy so I decided to try and get caught up a little on Orange Is The New Black since season five just dropped and we were still only halfway through season 4. Joe is never really was in the mood to watch it so I warned him I wasn’t going to wait for him anymore. I knocked out five episodes but didn’t really enjoy them so he didn’t miss much. I think I might be over that show, and watching TV in general. We didn’t even turn it on at all last weekend. Nothing really holds my interest or gets me excited save for a few Netflix shows which we tend to binge watch within a week because we have no self control.

Saturday we took Wookie to the park to tire her out since we knew we’d be leaving her at home when we went to my parents house to celebrate the holiday prematurely. We stopped by B’s house first to meet his new dog, a nine year old poodle mix he and his girlfriend got from a friend who no longer wanted her. She’s really friendly and R sent me a Snapchat a couple of days later saying she’s enjoying the rope toy we brought her.

My mom decided we were doing Mexican food for the American holiday (lol) so I brought fixings for burrito bowls. Joe and B worked on running another ethernet cable from the router in the basement up to B’s old room where my mom likes to watch Netflix. The WiFi signal is weak in there, plus when we boosted it she was getting headaches, hence the need for the hard line. She wanted Joe to use the same hole that the cable comes through but it wasn’t wide enough so the plan was to cut the fittings off the cable line to remove it, widen the hole, and then put both lines through it. Only problem was Joe hadn’t anticipated needing to do that so we didn’t have any of the necessary equipment. We texted B since he does that kinda stuff for a living to see if he had any in his car (as even though we parted ways at the same time to head to my parents he was still en-route). Well, turns out he had the tools but no fittings, However, he just so happened to pass a Comcast truck on the way over, pulled up alongside to ask the tech if he had any fittings, and the guy gave him four. Hilarious!

Despite being at my parents’ for roughly 5 hours, we never got around to playing any games. Earlier in the day Joe learned that his mom had gone to the hospital with pain in her abdomen and was diagnosed with uterine cancer. She’s already had colon cancer, and possibly breast cancer too, so she’s not really interested in going through chemo again at her age (79). Joe’s sister and mom ended up calling him while we were at my parents’ so he spent some time downstairs speaking to them. Right now we’re not exactly sure what is going to happen until she has a few more tests to see whether the cancer is contained. If so, she can have a hysterectomy and if not, well, I guess that means she may not be with us much longer. Either way we need to make plans to go see her since nothing is guaranteed.

I love Joe’s mom and am sad that this is happening. I realize death is inevitable but I have difficulty accepting it and how it changes our lives. I’m absolutely terrified of dying or having anyone I love pass away. It just makes it feel like life is completely pointless. I’ve been having my own health issues lately and it’s very frustrating. Last night I had two back to back panic attacks. I took a Xanax when the first one started and then just as I was calming down it started up again so I had to take another. I didn’t get much sleep and I’ve spent most of the day just doing my chores slowly and resting in between because I’m afraid of triggering another one. My doctor put me on a low dose steroid for six days to help reduce the inflammation that was causing my neck to be stiff but I’m not sure it helped all that much but it certainly made my lymph nodes swell up and hurt one of the days. In addition, after certain doses my throat would catch when I swallowed and overall I just felt like my body wasn’t cooperating. Also, I’m learning now that some people experience withdrawal symptoms (even if they taper off like I did) which includes severe anxiety. My last dose was yesterday morning so I’m guessing it could be the reason for these panic attacks and the non-stop burning/reflux I’ve been having. Just what I need. I’m so sick of feeling like something is seriously wrong with me but no one can figure it out. It would be nice to just feel normal or get a non-life-threatening diagnosis so I could do something proactive about my health and feel better.

Anyway….

Sunday we went to Savers and I got a cute top I will probably wear to my friend’s party later this month. I always feel like I look like a slob so I’ve been on a mission to find some cute outfits that are also comfortable. I also got this strange little figurine that caught my eye at the mall.

It reminded me of the Skelanimals that were all the rage a few years ago.

Monday I did my usual cleaning since Joe was at work and Tuesday we grilled burgers and had a low-key holiday just the two of us. Wookie was not liking the fireworks on Monday and Tuesday nights and mostly hid under my desk. Unfortunately she will have to deal with them again next week when our town’s annual summerfest shoots off fireworks both Wednesday and Sunday nights.

Categories: Family, Health, Holidays, Shopping Tags: