The Colonoscopy Experiment

The Colonoscopy Experiment – November 21, 2019

So I’ve learned that when one turns 50, there are a few things one must do. After you have dealt with the weirdness that is the realization that you have lived halfway to 100 (that is a kick in the knickers), it is time to take stock and pay attention to the doctor’s suggestions at your “well” visit.

This year in addition to being lectured about that pesky 5 pounds I still need to shed, and the vitamin D I should be taking on a regular basis, my doctor recommended that I schedule a colonoscopy before the end of the year. Truth be told I really did not even know exactly what this mysterious test was all about. I kept mistakenly referring to it as a colostomy, which, it turns out, is a very different thing altogether. I got the referral and made the appointment for the end of November and it seemed very far away. In the meantime I was seeking feedback from friends and coworkers about this procedure. The basic summary from everyone was as follows: the procedure is not bad at all – what sucks is the prep. End stop. No more specific information was shared. What does not even mean?! Now, I know this is a rather, *ahem*, personal matter, but inquiring minds want to know – what’s the scoop? Give me the 411 on what sucks so bad about the prep? When I pressed people, they still didn’t really share much with me. I don’t know if they smelled my fear, or they had repressed their experience so much that they actually didn’t remember it anymore – like having a baby, or what, but no one was forthcoming with the gory details. This is where I come in!! I am going to do you a solid (so to speak) and give you the straight “poop” (tee-hee) about my experience. Think of it as a public service announcement. I know everyone is different, but at least this will give you one example of how it could go for you if you have not yet had the pleasure. If you are squeamish and/or just don’t care to know the details about my bowls, turn back now. I have no judgement, but you are forewarned.

As my date got closer I began to get more anxious about this procedure. I decided to try to detach from it by thinking about it as a scientific experiment. I decided to track my experience in order to share it with others (and also to distract myself from it)! I kept thinking, I can do this, right? I had a baby! I ran a marathon! All I have to do is drink stuff and go poop. Seems simple. Did I mention I hate being hungry, I get nauseous easily and am not good with anesthetic?

I got the appointment confirmation call on Monday saying my procedure was at 11am and I was to be there at 10:15am. The worst thing was I could not have coffee on Thursday morning!  Ugh. But, turns out, that was not the worst thing…
The instructions said I was to follow a low-residue diet on Monday and Tuesday. This meant no raw fruits and vegetables except for bananas. I had to eat stuff like white bread, white rice, chicken and canned vegetables and avoid things with fiber (which is lots of what I eat!) I suppose the reason for this is so the “prep” day is less dramatic than t would be if you had lots of fiber rich stuff in your system. Here is what I ate on Monday: Breakfast – 2 pieces of white toast, with peanut butter, coffee with almond milk. Lunch – 2 slices of white toast, can of tuna fish with a bit of miracle whip, banana. Dinner – white rice bowl with baked chicken, green beans and soy sauce. Snack at night – 2 pieces of white toast with peanut butter. On Tuesday: Breakfast – 2 pieces of white toast topped with banana slices, coffee with almond milk. Lunch – 2 slices of white toast, 3 scrambled eggs and 2 babybel cheese wedges, banana. Dinner – white rice bowl with baked chicken, green beans and soy sauce. Snack at night – 2 pieces of white toast with peanut butter and some honey drizzle. I felt just okay on Monday and Tuesday.  I went to work as normal. I found myself really ready for every meal and looking around for snacks during the 3pm – 5pm hours.  I wasn’t that hungry at night, but it was just the idea that I had a couple days of not eating ahead of me so I wanted to “stock up”!  Also, I just wanted a bit of sweet. I just do not do well with a deprivation type of situation. However, I did it!

On Wednesday (the day before the procedure) I had to follow a clear liquid diet. In the morning I started with a ½ cup black coffee.  Yes, black coffee was on the list for the day! I did not want to drink the whole thing on an empty stomach so half a cup did the job. I started feeling a bit hungry by 8:30am (let’s face it, I wake up hungry. I’m definitely not one of those “I lost track of time and worked through lunch” type of people) so I started with apple juice. I took a shower and began to find things to distract myself. By lunch I had gone through 3 big glasses of apple juice and about a half a season of Atypical on Netflix. I sat at the table with my bowl full of orange jello for lunch. Not bad. I had Mike get the “prep” medicine ready for me when he was home for lunch so it could get cold. It was a jug that held 4 liters of fluid. Ugh. The powder medicine was already in it and you were to add water and the flavor packets that came with it. You could alternatively use Crystal Light, if desired. Yes, it was desired. I had to start drinking the prep stuff at 6pm. The rest of the afternoon I focused on a project on the computer and had some carbonated water.

6pm finally came and I shooed Mike and Zach out of the house to get Chipotle. I didn’t want to see that food in front of me. I got the prep out of the fridge and got ready to drink my first 8 oz of stuff. I had to drink an 8 ounce glass of the stuff every 10 minutes until 2 liters was gone. The second half was then the job for the next day, starting at 6am. I got it out and got out the measuring cup, but I could not get the stinkin’ cap off! It was one of those “push down and turn” things, but it was not happening. I tried everything for like 5 minutes. At this point I was sweating, my arms were sore and I was swearing like a sailor. Remember I was hangry times 1000. I called Mike at Chipotle and asked them to get their food to go so they could come home and help me get this blasted thing open! Meanwhile I was texting a friend asking for help. That string of texts is pretty hilarious. I was seriously thinking this was a sign that I wasn’t supposed to do this and was ready to throw the whole jug outside when the cap suddenly finally came off as Mike and Zach were walking in the door, Chipotle bags in hand.

Game on! I drank the first 8 oz like a champ. The drink tasted like a thick, saltier version of Chrystal Light’s – like its diluted, lower-calorie cousin. Not my favorite, but not a big deal. I set the timer for 10 minutes and began the process. By the time I was halfway through my 8 glasses the drink was getting a bit old. I started adding more time to the timer – 15 minutes instead of 10. By glass #7 I was on the struggle bus. It wasn’t the taste exactly, but the shear volume of fluid I was consuming. Halfway through glass #7 I gagged and yukked a bit in the kitchen sink. There was nothing really to come up except for that good, old orange jello. Twenty minutes later I successfully consumed my last glass for the night with minimal gagging. I sloshed over to the couch, feeling very full and bloated and waited for the magic to happen. And waited. And waited. I had finished my prep at 8:37pm and the instructions said bowel activity should start 1-2 hours from the start of drinking the prep. Um, nope. At this point, I was so uncomfortably full and wondering if this stuff was going to work for me. I had peed here and there, but no action anywhere else. I had some gurgling and tooting, but nada in the poop department. Finally at 9:40pm – 3 1/2 hours after starting the prep all systems were go and the medicine did its thing. I was going to keep track of the number of bathroom visits, but the truth is I couldn’t really keep track. It was so strange, however, because it wasn’t like any other type of diarrhea I’ve ever had. There was no pain or cramping and after the first couple of times it was just liquid. It was like I was peeing from my butt, but I wasn’t sick. So strange. I was relieved that the medicine was working and relieved to finally get rid of a lot of this liquid! I finally felt clear to go to bed around 11:30pm.

On Thursday I got up at 5:45am to begin the second half of the prep. I was to consume the second 2 liters of stuff by 8am. This time the bowls were more consistent and I was less bloated and uncomfortable. It was still gross and got to be too much by glass #5, but I pressed on with minimal gagging. I did have one accident in my jammies that morning (yuck) which prompted me to bring a second pair of clothes and a towel to sit on to drive the 30 minutes to the hospital. Thankfully I did not need it! We arrived on time to the hospital where I proceeded to use the bathroom 3 more times while we were waiting in the lobby. At this point there was no poop to speak of. There was just yellow liquid, but it was coming out of my butt. Such a weird sensation. Hey, I forewarned you!

I got ready for the procedure, met the anesthesiologist and the doctor. I was most concerned about getting sick from the anesthetic, but the doc reassured me that I should be fine since it was just a twilight level of stuff. Next thing I knew I was waking up and I immediately felt alert and fine, but just really cold. After being in recovery a bit the doc informed me that she found one small, 3 mm, polyp and removed it. She would send it to the lab and depending on what type of polyp it was I would have to come back in either 5 years or 10 years. Fine by me – even if it is 5 years, that is still a long time! I felt good that at least the polyp was out of me and that now it can’t grow into anything bad! That is the whole reason why these things are recommended to be done as preventative thing. I’m a believer, for sure! Yes, it was gross, a bit uncomfortable and a bit inconvenient, but well worth it! I’m thankful to be able to have this sort of preventative care and good insurance to support it. Check this off the turning 50 list! Now, about that Shingles shot…

My Chautauqua Choir experience

Sun, July 12

I can still remember the smell of the place. It was a mixture of old and dusty wood, lavender (old lady) cologne, and perhaps a bit of lake air with just a trace of seaweed. It was usually a bit cool in the mornings underneath the roof and even as girls we would usually have to wear a sweater. My sister and I would often see older gentlemen falling asleep during the service, and every now and then we would spot a spider crawling on someone’s arm or once even a mouse scooting around the floor. Those were all potentials for entertainment for grade school girls in an outdoor/open air church venue like the amphitheater at Chautauqua Institution. But beyond the familiar scents and the funny sights that were regular occurrences there, there was something more to this simple, but beautiful structure of paint and wood. There was a magic that captured my fascination as a little girl and continues to be with me today. Was it the gathering of 6000 people from all around the country and beyond to worship together in one space? Was it the world renown speakers from near and far giving inspirational sermons that would pull at your heart strings? Was it the weekly singing of the favorite hymn, “Holy, Holy, Holy” that was so magical? Yes, yes, and yes! All of those things contributed to the magic of this special and sacred place. But for me, the epicenter of this magic was the choir. It was not only the singing of “Holy, Holy, Holy” that brought tears down my face, but it was this exquisite descant from the sopranos floating high among the stratosphere, high above the congregation that overwhelmed me every time. As I looked at the choir in awe, wearing my sundress, sweater, and probably a new turquoise ring purchased that day that I would lose a few hours later swimming in the lake (happened every year!), I dreamed of someday being up there – being one of the magic makers in this magnificent place.

Little did I know that I would have the chance to make this dream come true some 35 years later!

Cut to this spring. Since Zach was going to sailing camp again this year at Lake Chautauqua Lutheran Center (4th generation camper!), I got the idea that Mike and I could stay somewhere on the lake during the same week. We could enjoy a week at the lake and just make one trip! So after I booked a week at a cottage I began to research more about what else we could do in the area including things at the institution. I stumbled on information about the choir and learned that there was no audition to sing. What?? These people aren’t professionals??!! You just had to have previous choral experience (check and check) and attend at least 2 of the 3 rehearsals prior to the Sunday service. The rehearsals were Thurs, Fri and Sat nights from 6pm – 7:45pm. Oh, my gosh, could I actually do this?? I started letting myself get excited about the possibility of this actually happening, but then I ran into a problem. Our cottage rental was from Sat – Sat (which most are) which meant that we would not have a place to sleep on the Sat night before the Sunday service! Ugh! Well, I wasn’t going to let this stop me! No siree! I started calling places to book one extra night on Saturday so I could make this happen. After being turned down by about 3 places (most have a 2-night minimum!), I finally got a YES from a hotel in Jamestown. Done! I was so excited!

On the night of the first rehearsal I was pretty nervous. I had Mike drop me off 30 minutes early so I could find the place and check-in. The choir regulars were so welcoming and sweet that I relaxed right away. It was extremely organized and I became obsessed with documenting everything.

My music
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My folder
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Starting to gather
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My card
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The director of the choir, Jared Jacobsen, was also the organist and pianist for the amphitheater and he was a legend to me. His talents for directing us matched his abilities on the keyboard. He was a m a z i n g.

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He kept things running smoothly with just enough humor, information, and inspiration. He did not miss a beat and I was astounded by how we could pick up on the slightest mistake while still playing and directing a choir with 8-part harmony. I was exhausted at the end of rehearsal, but in the best way. I had forgotten how much I loved to sing with a group, not to mention this group! I had to shake the rust off a bit with my sight reading, but once I did that I settled in pretty well. It felt so good that I could actually do this! I told Mike going home that first night that I needed to find a way to sing on a regular basis again. I had been since my early 20’s (after college) that I had sung with a choral group. It made me realize how much I miss it.

I enjoyed the rehearsal so much that I decided that I wanted to attend all 3. I mean, why not, right? I had no idea if I would ever be in the position to do this again so I wanted to enjoy every possible minute. Plus, we were doing this Kyrie piece, by Dobrogosz, that was crazy hard and I could use all the practice I could get!

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Sunday morning came and I was ready. I just hoped I could get through the morning without too much boo-hooing. I had kleenex with me just in case. It was fun to see the amphitheater from that perspective.

Starting to gather
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Some of the 1st sopranos
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Rehearsal before the service
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As soon as the organ started with the introduction to “Holy, Holy, Holy” I got giant tears in eyes. I mean I cry during that song in the congregation all the time, so no surprise there. I managed to pull it together enough to really blow out the descant which I can’t describe in words. Let’s just say I was sweating. Ha! The rest of the service went rather quickly. The choir sang a lot so I felt like I was really working the entire time. At the end of the service is when I really lost it. The choir was seated while Jared Jacobsen plays the postlude on the organ. This man is extremely talented as I mentioned, but something about seeing his face as he played rather than from the congregation was just overwhelming and very emotional for me. The loudness of the organ, the complexity of the piece, the perfection with which he played it and then the emotion on his face as he played was too much for me. Words don’t cut it, but the only way to describe it is “beauty in action”. But don’t take my word for it. Become one of the magic makers at the amphitheater at Chautauqua and see for yourself!

The Coolness Factor: When did I become “un-cool”?

April 28, 2015

So it turns out that one of the many intangible benefits of working in higher education is the coolness factor. I mean, let’s face it, I was definitely, totally, and completely uncool as a high-school student, but my late-bloomer self hit my stride in college. Yes, this was my element. I was hip, joined a sorority, liked to hang with the cool kids and party…I had it going on!! Okay, true confessions – I really LOVED the library, scheduled 8 am’s on purpose and went to bed at 11 pm much too often, but be that as it may, I was still cool (and young). It then came of no surprise that I decided to pursue career on a college campus (I mean who wouldn’t?) and my coolness factor just increased. As a young professional close to the students’ age I watched the same shows they watched, listened to the same music and knew all the jargon that came with twenty-somethings of the early nineties. Yes, back in the early part of my career I could still very much identify with those I was advising and they thought of me as a big sister.

Years passed. I got married. I had a baby. Things changed. It seemed like all of a sudden I didn’t watch the same television shows as my students did and Beverly Hills 90210 was just a place to me. Lists of possible bands for the yearly big concert looked like alphabet soup and I realized that I looked more forward to talking to the parents of students at orientation rather than the soon to be first-years. I became aware that my kid’s age was now closer to my students’ age than mine was. Whoa! How did this happen? Convinced I could still be cool in spite of this growing age gap, I kept on “keeping on”, occasionally “dropping it like its hot” and always “keeping it real”, ya feel me? I went from an older sister, to a “cool aunt” to a “yeah, my mom really likes 30 Rock too”!

However, today I had an experience that made me realize that I might just have lost enough cool points that I have to leave the cool kid table and saddle up with the grown ups. I was sharing a story with some of my students about life with a teenager in the house and how suddenly everything I do is “so embarrassing”. For example, the immediate response to my greeting to Zach in the morning of “Good morning, how are you?” is “Stop asking so many questions!”

The most recent example of my master plan to completely and totally embarrass my kid unfolded at the local ice cream store after Zach’s band concert last night. Outside the store and seeing other band members (easy to spot – black pants/skirt and white shirt) already celebrating with their families, Zach announces to me, “Oh, great, I know like 4 people in there. Let the awkwardness begin.” I was like, “what the what, dog? (all the cool parents say it), but he just shot me a look and told me to be quiet. We quietly and politely got our ice cream and of course I got chastised with an eyeroll for telling Zach to ease up on the ice cream when it was almost overflowing the bowl. So, we sat in silence in the restaurant eating our ice cream. There was a woman and her son like almost right next to me and so I whispered to Zach, “do you know that boy right there?” This brought on a “Mom, just be quiet!” response which had me puzzled. I didn’t get it. Why is this embarrassing? We all know that we were all just at the same event, that was very good, by the way, as highlighted by the black and white dress theme going on in the restaurant. Why do we have to pretend we have never met in our lives?

I felt vindicated a bit when one family left and the mom exclaimed to the entire restaurant, “congratulations on the concert everyone!!”. Okay, who is the cool mom now, yo?

On the car ride home I reminded Zach that at least I didn’t give a speech to the restaurant like that mom. What was her deal, bra? He proceeded to tell me that he was waiting for me to meet another band family, and in 5 minutes be friends on Facebook with the mom and set up a playdate. Okay, that’s ridiculous! That would NOT happen…this year. I still was puzzled at why our ice cream trip had to suddenly become a covert operation.

I figured out the answer to this question during my conversation with my students today. I explained this whole little ice cream drama to them hoping to get some sympathy, but what I got instead was heads shaking and nods of agreement as they all agreed what a horribly awkward and embarrassing situation that is and proceeded to share flashbacks to when they experienced similar kinds of shame with their parental units. I was stunned. Huh? What? Wait, this was awkward for Zach simply because I’m the mom and I’m not cool? Just simply being with me and having to admit that he belongs with us is a crying shame?? Well, the feeling is mutual buddy!!! Don’t think I’ve never been embarrassed by the choice unmatched wardrobe you have put on to go in public. Or the wave of Axe cologne that seems to follow you out the door every morning. Or don’t forget about the times you have “forgotten” to brush your teeth!! This can go both ways, sonny-Jim!

So, I guess I’ll gladly take that card for that uncool adult now. This could be fun! But just don’t make me talk about aluminum siding.

Zach’s Confirmation Sunday

Zach was baptized at Rejoice Lutheran Church on Sun, April 21, 2002

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Then almost exactly 13 years later on Sun, April 19, 2015 he was confirmed at Rejoice Lutheran Church

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The rehearsal on Saturday…yeah, the kids feel at home here! Z has bare feet!
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Overall it was a wonderful weekend of celebration, but of course in true Ramsey form we had to have some drama along with the good times. On Saturday afternoon, Zach and his cousins were playing on the driving range behind grandma’s house and Zach got hit with a golf ball in the middle of the forehead! He came in announcing that he had a third eye. I started freaking out a bit when I saw the largest goose-egg pop out from his forehead! It looked terrible.

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This picture does not adequately show how big this sucker was! Scary!

Once we determined he didn’t have a concussion or anything (quick call to Uncle Bruce), he just iced it and we hoped the swelling would go down for the confirmation pictures the next day! Thankfully it did and he was just fine. Now it is just a good story that will make confirmation that more memorable!

Cool devotional book gift from Barkers. He jokingly was covering up his goose-egg for the picture!
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Gifts from Pillsbury’s: customized dogtags…very Zachary
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And framed quote from Grandpa P….also very Zachary
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It had to happen…
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Ready to go in his new duds! He really wanted a tie bow tie and he wasn’t satisfied until he tied it himself!
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The procession into church – big class of 9 kids this year!
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The Barkers waiting patiently
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We even had a canine visitor celebrating with us!
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They all did a very nice job!
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Can you see the goose-egg?!
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With GMa and GPa
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Evan and Zach have been buddies since they were about 3 years old!
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Zach’s confirmation certificate and memory verse. The memory verse he picked once he learned that “Jesus wept”. was out was Isaiah 40:30-31: “Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Very fitting.

The sentence that Pastor picked to highlight from Zach’s final paragraph was this one: “Knowing that my core identity is a gift from God makes me feel unique and special”.

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Brunch at Blue Canyon after the service
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Grateful for such a fun and memorable celebration with family and friends. I felt God’s presence with us through the weekend…goose-eggs and all!

The Great Big Ramsey Spring Break Adventure 2015 – Part 2

March 2015

Tues
So…good news! We made our flight to Denver on Tuesday and Zach and I both agreed that this airport would have been really fun to be stuck in for 5 1/2 hours! There was an upper level that was just a bunch of empty space for people to walk or run around and the airport was virtually empty – especially when compared to Chicago! Plus they had a TCBY – remember that place?

This was a cool plane hanging from the ceiling…
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Thankfully we got into SLC without a hitch this time and were happily reunited with our luggage!

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By the time we got our rental car and arrived at the hotel it was 5pm. Les Mis started at 7:30pm and we were to be at will call at 7pm to get our tickets. Did I also mention that the theater was an hour away?? So in record breaking speed we took showers and jumped in the car. We grabbed something to eat quick in a drive-through (I’m embarrassed to admit that it was McDonalds!), and arrived at the theater. The building was very small and unassuming. If you didn’t know it was a theater you would have no idea from the outside, save from the large Les Mis sign, of course.

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The theater was small and set in the round with about 250 seats. I had never seen a show in that format so I was excited to see it. I was also so hoping that Mike and Zach would like it!

You can see here the entrance to the backstage area.
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There was seating around 3 sides of the stage.
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Our seats were not together, but that didn’t matter for a theater this small. Before the show started they requested that everyone stay in their seats for the duration of each act because actors and large pieces of scenery would be coming down the aisles. I had wondered how they would do that! They did it seamlessly, however, and stayed in character the entire time. Well, the show was amazing. We felt like we were a part of the show with the actors being like 25 feet away. They were so talented and had gorgeous voices. Plus I just love the music in Les Mis. At intermission I was anxious to hear how Z and M liked it so far and they said they liked it! The second act was equally awesome and as we exited past the actors I could barely look at them (I have a problem with being star struck), but managed to say “good job”. Mike was having full conversations with some of them! I was cracking up! We talked about the show almost the entire way back to the hotel. I was pleased as punch that the boys enjoyed it so much!! For me, the trip was well worth it already! Mike read that the season tickets for this theater were $30/piece…for like 6 shows! What a bargain! Note to self: find a theater in the round in Cleveland.

Wed

After we dropped Mike off at the office, Zach and I headed out to go hiking. I had done some research about popular trails, but, of course, the pictures on the websites were all taken during the summer! Zach randomly picked one called “Donut Falls” and so I set the GPS for that one. According to the website that trail was considered “moderate”. As we drove to our destination I quickly figured out that we were going to be driving up the mountain…like straight up! We made out last turn and we still had 9 miles to go to get to the trailhead! I was very glad to be driving because I think I would have been nauseous if I was a passenger. It was a beautiful drive up the mountain – what I could notice beyond watching the road and my white knuckles gripping the steering wheel! We finally got there and took in the view!

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I cut our mountain hike a little bit short because I just felt like we were unprepared for a snowy hike (read: Zach was unprepared with shorts and basketball shoes on with no tread). Plus it seemed pretty steep and icy in places and I just felt irresponsible going forward like that and not knowing the area. So we set out to find a trail that was a little bit further down the mountain.

We stopped at a place with a really beautiful waterfall and explored a bit…
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There were some people who had just finished rappelling the mountain…
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An old mine…
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This trail also looked a little too treacherous for amateur hikers like us so I looked up an “easy” trail and we went there (much to Zach’s chagrin).

Ensign Peak – actually was set up against a residential neighborhood behind the capital building in Salt Lake City.
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Our destination!
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Cool monument
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The view from the top
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The monument from the top…proof we got there!
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The Salt Lake in the distance
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Zachary far ahead of me
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Beautiful area – the hike was designated as “easy”, but it was a great workout. Somehow I think “easy” in Ohio is different than “easy” in the SLC area!
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After our hike we had lunch near the City Center at the Lion House (home built by Brigham Young) and then shopped a bit at the City Center. We finished our afternoon at the pool at the hotel before picking Mike up from the office. That night we just had pizza and went to bed early. Just a half day more and then time to fly home!

Thurs
Zach and I had a short time on Thursday as we had to catch our cab to the airport at 1:45pm. So, we took public transportation to the city for lunch so Mike could take the car. They do food trucks on Thursdays so I thought that would be fun to do.

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Zach was really tempted with this one, but ultimately decided on grilled cheese instead…it had to be cheese!
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Apparently this was the truck to go to! The line started forming before 11am! We didn’t have tons of time or else I would have waited to try it. It was some sort of asian noodle bowls.
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Plain Jane grilled cheese
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I got mine with bacon – why not, I’m on vacation!
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After lunch we hopped back on the train and went to Temple Square for the free tabernacle organ recital. I went to it last time I was in SLC and it is phenomenal. It is just 30 minutes, but gives you a flavor of the range of the instrument. Amazing! It was built in the 1860’s and has 11,623 pipes. It shook the seats!

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Then we just walked around the square a bit and took some pictures from the 10th floor of the Joseph Smith building:

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The temple – this particular building is reserved for Mormon’s only, but there is a model of it with a cutaway in the visitor center to get an idea of what it is like inside.
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Beautiful floral arrangement in the lobby of the building
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Family sculpture in the city center
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We got our cab to the airport and arrived home very late, but safely. We had a near miss in Baltimore when we literally had 10 minutes to get to our gate and on our plane to Cleveland. Oh, and Zach’s phone was dead so he didn’t have access to his boarding pass! Ugh. Luckily we made it – just a few gates away and the staff printed off another boarding pass for Zach and all was well. We just had to have a little stress to round out our trip home! Even though it was disappointing to have about 1 day and a half cut short from our trip, all in all we had a great time just being together. So there ends another Ramsey style adventure!!!

The Great Big Ramsey Spring Break Adventure 2015: Part 1

March 2015
Well, our story all started towards the end of February with Mike announcing that his trip to Salt Lake City had been finalized for the week of Zach’s spring break in March. After my initial panic a plan began to form in my mind. Rather than figure out what to do to keep Zach occupied while I went to work for that week, why don’t we all go?! Mike had a free ticket to use so soon it became a done deal. We would all travel together on Monday and Zach and I would return late Thursday night and Mike would return on Saturday.

We had an early flight on Monday morning so we were up at 3am. After an uneventful flight to Chicago we had to circle the airport a bit because they were clearing the runway of snow (that should have been our first clue to the adventures that awaited us!). We landed to find out that our flight to SLC was delayed for an hour (9:30am). I was actually okay with that because I wanted to use the yoga room that I found at the airport. Pretty cool! They had yoga mats and wipes for travelers to get their namaste on before or after flights. I spent about 30 minutes in there.

Yogaroom!

namaste

Almost right after I got back to the terminal the announcement was made that our flight was now delayed until 11:40am. They explained that our plane was diverted to Dayton (of all places) because it could not land because of extremely low visibility due to snow and they hoped it could get to us by that time. At this point Mike was getting a little frustrated. He and Chicago have a history. A few years ago he was stuck in the city for 2 days due to airline cancellations. We took turns walking up and down the people mover throughout the people mover just for something to do. The airport started getting really crowded at this point as many flights were delayed. The adventure was started to get old, but the worst was yet to come…

Zachairport

Mikeairport

Lisaairport

Close to when we have should started boarding, the next announcement came saying the plane was delayed until 2pm. At this point Mike was ready to go home. I tried to stay positive and suggested we go have lunch. I have never seen an airport so crowded – people all lined up and down the people movers and every seat taken. Not only were we bored and frustrated, but we were just plain old tired! Mike and I had made the poor decision of staying up to watch our show the night before thinking “we can sleep on the plane”. Ha! The next two announcements came close together. First, they said the plane would depart at 2:40pm and then about 20 minutes later made the final announcement that the flight was CANCELLED. Crud. They told people to come up the desk or call the 800 number to reschedule the flight. Since the line at the desk was extremely long already, Mike got on the phone with Southwest and I started calling hotels. The hotel was the easy part. There were no other flights going to SLC on Monday so we had to stay the night. The first flight out to SLC on Tuesday was at 6:40am, but as we were on the phone with them it got booked up! Mike was telling me there were no flights available at all except one that would get into SLC at 11:30pm the next day. He asked if I wanted to just go home. Heck no! I was really upset. I was bound and determined to get there! We had tickets to see Les Mis at 7:30pm so that was my benchmark. If we could just make that time I would still want to make the trip. Miraculously, a flight became available that was going to Denver at 10:40am and would land in SLC 4:15pm on Tuesday. SOLD! We booked that flight and headed up to ticketing to get new boarding passes. It was only then that I realized/learned that our checked luggage was not available to us. The ticketing agent said it was “in the bowels” of the airport and would be sent on the next flight to our destination. She saw my mouth drop open and said, “do you need something from your luggage”? The difference between want and need became clearer as she explained that we could get the luggage, but it would take between 1 and 3 hours for them to retrieve it for us (in the bowels). Um, no thanks. Oh, and remember how your mother always tells you to pack an extra pair of underwear in your carry-on? Yeah, about that. No such luck. Not only had we been wearing these clothes since 3am, but we would be wearing them until probably 3pm the next day AND did I mention I did a short yoga session in the airport? Yeah.

The good news was that we checked into a nice hotel and they were so nice to provide us with all sorts of toiletries. After a nice dinner I did my best to wash out some of my clothing in the sink and hoped it would be dry by morning. My jammies that night were a bath towel and a fleece sweatshirt. The boys didn’t seem phased by having to wear dirty clothes the next day. Well, for Zach such is life, right?! We turned the TV off at 8pm, thankful for full bellies and comfy beds and fell asleep hoping our luck would change the next day…

To be continued…

Why I’ll Never be a Fishing Boat Captain

June 16, 2014

I should have known better. Well, I did kinda know better, but such is life. You know how you know how something is going to turn out a certain way (badly), but you do it again hoping for a different result this time? Like the shoes I keep wearing to work because they are so cute, but they are God awful uncomfortable. I keep thinking that it will change – that today they will fit fine, but alas they still suck. It’s the damnedest thing.

Well, I had one of those experiences today. We signed up to take a 5 ½ hour deep sea fishing tour at Hilton Head. Those of you who know me at all are probably already shaking your head and know full well where this story is leading. Please continue…

Well, Mike really wanted to try this on vacation this year so after looking into it, we booked a trip. I had offered because of cost to bow out and let the boys just go, but Mike found one that was pretty reasonable so we could all go together.
Now, a couple things you should know about me before going further. First, I get motion sick. I cannot read in the car, go on spinning rides and at times cannot even look at my phone in the car in the passenger seat. Second, I love boats. On a lake. Above the water. I love going fast and riding into “big waves”. And lastly, I love my husband and family and enjoy doing new things together. All of these things came together today in a perfect storm!

I mean how bad could it be? I took a half of a motion sickness pill in the morning that we made a special trip to CVS on the island to get. I had a great run that morning and I was ready to go fishing!

Our boat – Captain Hook

I should have paid attention to the signs that morning…like this little goody conveniently placed right outside the ticket booth.

And the story from a local, grandpa-type, fellow passenger waiting in line to get on the boat, about how his wife was “sick as a dog” on their last trip. Gulp –not reassuring. All that being said though I was determined that I would be fine. Just because I have gotten motion sick before doesn’t mean it would happen again (yes, that is really what I thought). Forget about that time I threw up in a little 2-seater plane while on a date with the pilot! That is another story for another day. Plus, that was kid stuff, I thought! This was different – this was a boat. I LOVE boats!!!

I felt pretty good for the first hour into the trip. It took us that long to get from where we boarded to the open water. It was fun to look at the big houses and just enjoy the ride.

However, my uneasiness increased in direct proportion to how far into the open water we were getting. But the worst was yet to come. The first mate gave us an orientation on how to fish. I half-listened, but my ears really perked up when he said that sometimes people get sick and there is no shame in that. He told us that if that happened, just keep it outside the boat…and that it is actually good for fishing! Everyone chuckled, but I just felt a greater sense of doom encroaching on me.

Me, realizing this was a bad idea…

The boat finally stopped and the boys started fishing. The boat was rocking gently side to side. I mean, I guess it was gentle, but the fact that it was moving at all and constantly was starting to make me feel dizzy and queasy. I thought I might feel better if I went up to the sundeck to read so I told Mike that I was heading up above. But as I made my way to the sundeck I quickly realized that it was 5 times worse up there. And reading? Yeah, right. I then realized that I needed to find a spot on the boat, heady down and just hope for the best. I sat on a bench in the shade, leaned on the rail and closed my eyes and tried to find my happy place. All the while I felt so nauseous that I thought at any moment I would contribute positively to the fishing with the contents of my stomach. I was kicking myself for going on this trip and wishing I would have just let the boys go and I stayed on the beach! But that was a fleeting thought. Here I was, stuck on this boat, for the next 2 hours and I just had to get through it. I was determined not to make a big stink of it and I didn’t want to ruin it for the boys. There was nothing anyone could do at this point anyways. But most of all, I did not want to throw up. I have never been so sick without being actually being sick in my entire life. I managed to pull it together to take a few quick pics of Zach as he caught fish, but other than that I was heady down.

We moved fishing spots 2 different times and each time I was literally praying that we were heading back. Nope. At one point the first mate came along and offered me a frozen washcloth to put on the back of my neck. He could have offered me a snakeskin to wear on my neck and I wouldn’t have fought him. I was that out of it. Finally, we headed back and I breathed a sigh of relief. Once we got back into calmer waters I made my way to the front of the boat and tried to enjoy the ride. The nausea had mostly passed and I was proud that I retained my stomach contents, and my dignity! All that was left was a headache and a desire to be very still for a while.

So, lesson learned. No, I will not be a fishing boat captain, nor will I ever go on a cruise that people keep telling me I would just love (you can wear these bracelets or take this great medicine!). No thanks. I think I’ll keep both feet on the ground.

I Blame Disney!

So I need to rant about the weather. I know, I know, you are probably tired of it too. But in order to avoid the risk of “sucking the life” out of my husband (as he so warmly referred to my “observations” this morning) by ranting to him again about how much I hate winter, I decided to find solace in my blog. So here is your fair warning to switch to read something else. Still there? Great!

So, I do have good news! I have found someone to blame for this never-ending tundra that we have been experiencing this winter in northeast Ohio. Walt Disney. Yes, the man himself. I submit to you that it is not a coincidence that the hit movie, “Frozen” was released just before the onslaught of this snow and cold season was upon us. The movie was released on Nov 27, 2013 and that very same weekend Eastern Ohio and Northeast PA was blanketed by our first snowfall between 3 – 7 inches and up to 17 inches in some areas in PA. Coincidence? I think not!

Allow me to share a description on the IMDb site for the movie, “Frozen” – “Fearless optimist Anna teams up with Kristoff in an epic journey, encountering Everest-like conditions, and a hilarious snowman named Olaf in a race to find Anna’s sister Elsa, whose icy powers have trapped the kingdom in eternal winter.”

Maybe it is just me, but does anyone else feel “trapped in eternal winter”?! I mean, does this sound familiar to anyone else? Bueller? And while some may say, “Hey, this is just winter in northeast Ohio – finally a real winter” I would like to say to them: HOGWASH!! As of Feb 5 winter 2013-2014 was deemed one of the snowiest winters in Cleveland with 53 inches and counting.

And another thing…what part of crazy negative 25 below windchill, bone-chilling, colder than Alaska temperatures is a part of “regular winter”?! By Feb 17 of this year Cleveland set a 30-year record with its 10th sub-zero day. That does not sound like a “regular” winter to me. Not one bit.

No. I submit to you that are living out the movie “Frozen” in our real lives. And by the way, I LOVED the movie! I’m actually obsessed with the movie and even more with the soundtrack. Who knew the sweet story with the awesome Scandinavian characters, wonderful pro-woman and pro-sister message would be the scapegoat for our very own never ending snowglobe hell we are now seemingly trapped in! Well, enough is enough I say. Rather than standing in line to slap a snowman to express our winter blues I think we all should look up anyone we can find named Elsa and give her a big smooch so we can finally break this winter spell once and for all! Hey, it is worth a shot, right? Because I don’t want to build a snowman. And maybe for the first time in forever we could see the grass!!! Or maybe, on second thought, I should just “let it go”…

Run the HHI highlight reel…

So I feel like I haven’t blogged in forever!! And sure enough it has been about a month!! Funny how that happens when life gets super busy. Either that or nothing particularly interesting has happened. Well, either way, I thought I should write a blog entry about our trip to Hilton Head. I decided to cheat a bit because I’m really just trying to get this blog entry done before our next trip (we leave tomorrow!). So forgive me if you have heard some of these things before. I’m recycling blog posts and adding pictures to them. Am I cutting corners on this one? Yes, but at least it will all be in one place so I can re-read it when I really start missing the beach like in January!!!

We had a pretty uneventful trip down to HH. We stayed overnight at a Holiday Inn Express in Charlotte, NC. It just made sense to break up the trip with our 11-year-old “I get bored in 2 hours little traveler”. Mike had made us reservations at this high-rise hotel with an outdoor pool and fitness center on the roof. It was really fun and Zach LOVED it! We found out later (a few days into the trip) that Mike did not share our enthusiasm for the place. Evidently he saw a critter…as in COCKROACH…skitter across the carpet near the tv after Z and I had fallen asleep!!!! Yeah, that would have been a deal-breaker for me no matter what time of day or night it was. I still get the heebee-jeebies thinking about it!!! Needless to say, we will not be staying there again!!!

Our condo was really nice! Very clean and comfortable and well stocked.

Day 1 – great first full day at HHI! Early solo walk on the beach collecting shells, then exploring Harbor Town, lunch out, a sailing excursion (so awesome we saw a dolphin 20 yards from the boat!), beach time, bike ride, late dinner in the condo and now relaxing with a movie in the condo!

Highlight – SAILING!!! Let’s buy a boat!

Day 2- okay Hilton Head rocks! Morning beach run, yoga (just me) by the pool, then afternoon dolphin and beach combing tour! Saw some cool live animals (dolphins very close) and found tons of big shells and sand dollars. Dinner out = yummy crab cakes! Might go looking for crabs on the beach in the dark if we can stay awake!

Highlight – Beach combing cruise!! We collected tons of bigger shells and sand dollars!

Day 3: Early yoga at the pool, shopping and exploring Coligne Plaza and South Beach, lunch at Salty Dog, then beach time and dinner in. Today will hopefully be our day in Savannah!

Highlight – Salty Dog Lunch!! I seafood combo with 1/2 of a crab salad sandwich – so yummy! Not to mention the hushpuppies below…

They called them hushpuppies, but no, they were more like doughnuts or funnel cakes!! The devil!!

Day 4: Well, good day trip to Savannah with the “on and off” tour. Savannah is such a cool place! It was to see all the historical buildings and architecture. Good thing because tonight was a fail. Tried to go hear an entertainer in Harbour Town, but the parking was non-existent so instead attempted a bike ride on the beach. Oh yeah, it was high tide…oops! Had to walk them all the way back with an oh, so pleasant tween boy just loving every minute of it. Oh well, tomorrow is another day!

Highlight – Trip to Savannah!

Day 5: Great day hanging with the Sams family…beach run, the pool, the beach and then dinner! What a great fam! Ice cream again for dessert at a place called “Frozen Moo”…Z is in his glory!

Highlight – Hanging out with the Sams’ family!

Day 6: sunrise yoga on the beach, then rainy day so outlet shopping, lunch and mini golf. Then we decided to get a jump on traffic and head out last night so we could break up the drive again. Hilarious drive to IHOP and finally a hotel.

Highlight – yoga on the beach and lunch at Nosh! The restaurant by the chef from the show “Restaurant Impossible”

I enjoyed everything we did on our trip. I kept the family going at a pretty good clip which was challenging for my husband! But I think he enjoyed it too. If I had to pick a favorite experience at Hilton Head I would have to choose the beach in the morning. Whether or I was running, walking or doing yoga I was in my element then and there. I’m an early riser anyways, but seeing the beach in the morning with less people, runners and walkers on the beach, dogs playing, and just the sound of the waves. It was really breathtaking. The beauty just reminds me how we are all connected. I was overcome leaving and shed some tears, but that is okay. It just means we need to come back. What is it about water that is so intoxicating and attractive? Until we meet again, Hilton Head – stay salty and calm!

Making Memories from Medical Mishaps

Okay, so maybe I got a little carried away with my alliteration in my title this time. But, like I’ve said, it is my blog and I’ll be corny if I want to!! It will all make sense – trust me!

We had the pleasure of having my in-laws, Shirley and Rich, in town with us this weekend. In a relatively short period of time (Sat through Sun), we had 3 (things always happen in 3’s right?) medical mishaps (“epic fails” as Zach would probably describe them) happen in our household. At the end of the weekend Shirley joked that they probably would never be invited back!! Thankfully everything worked out and we could laugh by the end of the visit, but it was a little bit stressful going through it!! I was going to call this a “do-over” weekend, but then realized we were lucky for what didn’t happen, so I prefer just thinking about it as making memories.

Let me ‘splain…

Episode One:
Grandma and Grandpa brought some cool, hard-core, walkie-talkies for Zachary in case he would like them. Uh, yes, he totally loved them!! So Zach and Grandma went outside for a walk to really try out the range of those babies! One went one way and one went the other way.

Well, pretty soon Zach gets a call from Grandma, “Zach – I fell!”

Zach responds, “What? Hold on, I’ll be right there!”

Zach sprints to the find Grandma and says, “Can you move everything okay?”

Grandma had a scraped knee and her hand was hurting quite a bit, but didn’t break the skin. They got home okay and we watched her hand get swollen and more painful during the day. By the afternoon, we all agreed that she should get it checked out just to be sure. Thankfully she got her hand checked out and it was just badly bruised. She got a splint to keep it still, but in true Shirley form she still helped me more than she probably should have!! We kidded her that she looked like the guy from the movie Happy Gilmore! Crisis averted – whew!! (oh, I should mention that while the three of them were at the ER I was having my own drama with “Henry the Hunter” who determined it was definitely deer season (see the most recent blog post before this one if you are confused).

Episode Two:
Of course the next situation drama involves the dog. We were moving some books and photo albums upstairs so the gate was left open. On one of my trips upstairs I noticed a ripped up plastic lunch baggie and random pills broken up all around it. It didn’t take me long to realize that the dumb dog had gotten into Gma and Gpa’s medication!!! It is not like it was on the floor – it was on the dresser! But when the beast gets his mind on something…it usually happens. I was panicked…again! We determined that he had eaten 4 gummy adult multivitamins (that was probably what attracted him I’m guessing), 1/4 of a slow niacin pill and 1/4 of a blood pressure pill. Of course this happened on a Sunday so we couldn’t get a hold of our usual vet. After consulting with an emergency vet we determined we would just watch him and see. Thankfully (again), he was fine. And fortified with all the essential vitamins and minerals, I might add!

Episode Three:
Zachary was invited to go with a friend and his family on a boat outing at WestBranch Park after church. They were going to go tubing and Zach was stoked! They would be home by dinner time. Zach called us at the end of the afternoon and said they were heading home and that he “hurt his toe”. The mom met me at the door and explained that Zach was getting into the boat at the end of the day and bumped his toe and cut it open. She bandaged it up, but said it might need a stitch. Seriously?! We took him upstairs right away to assess the toe in question. We determined that it was not serious enough to get seen by the doc. Thankfully! Crisis averted for the third time!!

So, yes, our weekend was drama filled, but really so much better than it could have been! So, I’m grateful for the humor we were able to bring to our mishaps and for the memories we could make together. Oh, and Shirley and Rich, the answer to your question about being able to come visit again? Of course!! That is, as long as you BYOFAK (bring your own first aid kit)!!!! 🙂