Light at the End?

We may actually be reaching the end of the design process for our new home. We had a three hour meeting yesterday to go through the “final” floorplan and start talking about exterior and interior finishes. Shit’s getting real now. I’m terrified.

Totally not kidding about that. The market continues to tank and everything I’m researching about costs is convincing me that the build estimate will come in way over our ballpark. We can hold the line on a lot of the finish items, but the really big ticket stuff – think windows, exterior, HVAC – needs to be first class all the way.

I think we’ve pretty much come to terms with getting out of Phoenix. Like completely out. I’m coming up with a lot more positives than negatives on that thinking. But maybe that’s just my optimistic side, trying to find the ray of light. There are a lot of headaches, as well as expenses, associated with a second home.

Fortunately, we don’t have to make a decision any time soon. We can’t even think about selling our townhome until the new house is built and we have somewhere to bring all of its contents. So we’re talking late 2017 at best. Lots of things could change between now and then. But it’s good to be mentally prepared.


I talked my mom into swapping out the 20 year old CRT TV in her bedroom with a new flat screen. Of course I sold it as being the solution to her problem of static filled sound and mediocre picture quality. I placed the order on Monday and through the magic of Amazon it arrived yesterday. It was literally the smallest one I could find – 28 inches. It fit into the allocated space perfectly.

That was the only perfect part. My first attempt to hook it up yesterday failed due to my mistaken belief that she would no longer need the DTR box. Oops – the cable signal is now encrypted, so even digital TVs still need a box to decode the channels. My second attempt worked, sort of, but the sound was still terrible and the picture was marginally better. Clearly not the fault of the new TV.

So I left her yesterday with a far superior TV that was still producing shitty sound and mediocre reception. Total fail. Today I tried a new co-ax cable. No dice. I even went outside and nosed around the house to see if there was any obvious issue with the exterior connection. Nope. So I found myself engaging in an awkward online chat session with Comcast on my phone. The agent made me do all the things I had already done and then conceded that the DTR box needed to be replaced. Duh. It was from 2010, which is a lifetime for electronics.

So I went to the nearest Comcast location and swapped out the box. Third try’s the charm – after hooking up the new box and going through the activation process I finally had success. The sound and picture are perfect and my mom now has a zillion channels. Now I just need to convince her to get an HD TV for her family room.

White Out

The meteorologists starting putting out dire predictions yesterday. Major winter storm! White out conditions! Snow accumulation up to 10 inches! They’re wrong more often than right, but it always pays to be prudent. So, I went to my mom’s house a little early today, in anticipation of getting out before the blizzard.

I was there for about 2 1/2 hours with no sign of snow. I helped with her PT exercises, put out her trash and did a few other minor tasks. Just after 11:30 I sent a text to my husband – no snow here yet. Then I looked out the window and noticed a very fine snow had begun to fall. So, erring on the side of caution, I packed up and drove home.

Pretty much just in the nick of time. The snow descended like a curtain, severely limiting visibility. The roads were fine, but people had already started driving like idiots. By the time I arrived home just 15 minutes later, there was a noticeable accumulation. Score one for the forecasters. So now I’m sitting and watching the snow from the warmth and comfort of my chair, pitying the people who have to drive in this shit during rush hour. Happy Groundhog’s Day!

Turning the Corner

I’m not going to lie – Friday was another tough day for my mom. Saturday I went to Target and bought some Ensure. She can’t live on just soda crackers and ginger ale. She drank one Ensure and managed to eat one banana. Her total caloric intake since the surgery has been less than a typical person eats in one day. But she continues to get around reasonably well with the walker and to keep her pain under control with just one Tylenol every two hours.

I’ve been keeping her occupied and entertained by replaying all of the Nola videos on my phone. It helps. Then, just this afternoon, she seemed to turn the corner. She actually felt hungry. So she ate two pieces of cheese. And then a piece of bread. It was the best she’s felt since leaving the hospital.

Hopefully the worst is over. I will continue going over every morning to help her with her Physical Therapy exercises and she has a neighbor who comes over to help her in the afternoon. Our goal is to get her cleared for driving by the time she gets her stitches out on February 12th. Plus have her strong enough to do the exercises on her own. (She only needs help with 2 of the 8, which is amazing) Being able to eat food is a good first step.

A Tough Homecoming

Yesterday was my mom’s first full day back at home after her surgery. It did not go as smoothly as we both would have liked. Maybe we were being a bit optimistic, based on how well she did in the hospital. It started out okay. Her pain was manageable, despite only being on Tylenol, and she was able to eat a bowl of cereal.

It was just a long slide downhill from there. She had trouble moving around with just the cane and the pain started amping up. She spent a great deal of time on the phone, trying to get a stronger but non-narcotic prescription for pain medication and I spent the same amount of time on my phone trying to find somewhere I could purchase a walker.

Eventually we were successful on both accounts. I ran out to purchase the walker and she had a much easier time navigating the house with it. She didn’t take the prescription pain killer until after I left, but I later found out it gave her a dry mouth and made her really tired. She also couldn’t manage to keep down any food. So this morning I brought her soda crackers and ginger ale. Plus some vegetable broth and a few bananas. It’s going to be another long day.

Checking Out

Unfortunately, checking out of the hospital yesterday turned into a total shit show. When I asked about parking validation, I was told they would do it at the nurse’s desk. But I had stupidly left my parking ticket in the car, so I ran out to get it. Trying to be clever, I took my bag and my mom’s bag with me and put them in the car. Mistake number two.

When I returned I found out that I didn’t need the ticket, as they just gave me a voucher. While I was gone, an extremely crabby volunteer showed up to my mom’s room to wheel her downstairs. But he wasn’t willing to wait for my return, so he left. A hospital staffer volunteered to take his place. She was terrific. We needed to stop at the pharmacy, which was at the far end of the hospital. Of course when we got there I realized my mom’s ID and insurance card was in the bag I had brought to the car. So I made another run to retrieve it.

By the time we left the hospital it was almost 5:00 and we were heading straight into rush hour traffic. Fortunately, most of it was heading in the opposite direction from my mom’s house, so the drive wasn’t too painful. It was a long and exhausting day for my mom and she crawled into bed a little after 8:00. I managed to stay up until 10:00 before turning out the light and settling in for another restless night of sleep on the hideabed.


My mom’s surgery finished sooner than I expected yesterday. They must pad their estimates, much like the airlines. I was planning to shut my laptop down at 10:00, to be prepared for the post-surgery page. So when it came through at 9:45, I was scrambling to close everything up. Turns out, the hurry was unnecessary. I sat in the consult room for 15 minutes, squirming from the lack of a bathroom break, before the surgeon arrived.

Everything went fine. Another hour plus passed before I was paged again and given her room number. By the time I left the hospital, it was almost 4:00. After a blissfully long night’s sleep in my own bed, I was back at the hospital just after 11:00 today. Just in time for my mom’s first Physical Therapy session. Which she totally rocked, of course. It helped that she was the thinnest person in the room. She wants to get out of the hospital today, and impressing the PT is key.

After PT we went back to the room and I ordered lunch for her. The hospital basically has room service – you get to order your meals whenever you want. The food is pretty darn good, too. Yesterday my mom was on a liquid diet, but for lunch today she had a mini pizza. Plus two desserts. She had two more therapy sessions in the afternoon – one occupational and one physical. Again, both went well and she decided she wanted to leave the hospital with just a cane, rather than the walker recommended by her PT. We’ll see how that goes.

Hip, Hip, Hooray!

I hate hospitals. Doesn’t everyone, really? But as hospitals go, this is a pretty nice one. I’ve been here before – twice as a patient myself and several times for my husband. This time I’m here for my mom. She is having hip replacement surgery. We had to check in at 5:45 am, so I spent last night at her house. Sleeping on her hideabed.

Well, sort of sleeping. I turned the light off around 10:45 and got maybe 3 hours of sleep before proceeding to wake up every 45 minutes. No truly good sleep is had before a 4:30 alarm. We were at the hospital at 5:30. They have a pretty sophisticated system here. After checking in, I was handed a pager and told that when it went off, I could meet my mom in pre-op. They also gave me her patient number so I could check her status on a board in the waiting room.

There were 3 other people waiting when I sat down, two older men reading and one younger woman sleeping. One by one they received pages and left the area. By the time I received my page it was nearly 7:00. They wheeled her in to surgery at 7:45.

So now I’m camped out at a table in the lobby, eating breakfast and sucking down coffee as if my life depended on it. I’ve already generated an impressive pile of trash.  If all goes according to plan, the surgery should be done in 2 1/2 hours. Meanwhile, the hospital has excellent free wifi and I have the entire internet at my fingers.

Drowning My Sorrows

I received this email from my sister-in-law soon after we returned from the airport yesterday – “As soon as we got through security, Nola ran through the terminal yelling ‘I’m coming daddy, I’m coming!'” It’s good to know she’s excited to see her daddy. I tracked their flight online and saw that it arrived in Dallas a few minutes early. The first leg of their long journey home is complete.

Back home I set about erasing all traces of baby. Toys put away, sheets and towels washed. But the room still smells like her and it’s breaking my heart. Why am I so emotional about this? I don’t remember it being this hard to leave her in Hawaii. And we’ll be heading back to Australia for a long visit in less than 3 months.

I tried numbing myself with the last of the red wine and some cookies and cream ice cream (Nola’s favorite). It wasn’t enough, so I turned to harder stuff – a jumbo margarita and then a second one. Never a good idea. Truthfully, I don’t think it’s only the absence of Nola that’s causing my massive funk.

The stock market has taken a huge nose dive. We have lost a significant chunk of change since the start of January. I was already stressed out over the potential cost of our new home and this has just put me over the edge. That, combined with missing Nola, has pushed me onto the ledge. Now I just need to find a way to talk myself off.

So Long, Farewell

The only downside to Nola’s early bedtime last night was the possibility that she would wake up ridiculously early. Like a champ, she slept until almost 6:30. Her Aunty, unfortunately, had much less success in the sleep department. I woke up and checked the clock at 12:15 and 3:30. Just before 5:00, I gave up and went downstairs. Nola’s mom joined me a little after 6:00, freshly showered.

Nola’s not a big fan of eating right after she wakes up, so despite our best efforts, she only managed a few raspberries and a piece of pear before it was time to get ready to leave for the airport. We parked and walked into the terminal. Nola asked “where’s my suitcase?” I showed her the duffel bag I was holding. “No, the big suitcase,” she insisted. Uncle Tim has your big suitcase, sweetie.

Due to some idiocy on the part of American’s process, my sister-in-law had to check in again at a kiosk, despite having printed her boarding passes at our house last night. She went through the whole long transaction, only to have it cancel when she tried to use her credit card to pay for the checked bags. Apparently they have a problem with her Australian credit card. Nola was demanding her mom’s attention by this point, so I repeated the whole ridiculous process and used my card. Success.

Nola seemed very concerned when we handed “her” suitcase over to be checked. I tried to assure her that they would be loading it in the plane. We had 30 minutes before they needed to go through security, so we sat at Starbucks and had coffee. Rather, my husband and his sister did, as I ended up chasing Nola around the terminal. It’s good to run off some energy before trapping her in an airplane. Finally, it was time for them to go through security. We all tried to keep a positive attitude for Nola’s sake, despite the sadness of parting. We returned home to a much too quiet house. 87 days and counting.