Sunday, September 28, 2014

No Peeking: A Creative Date Night Idea

Our goal is to go on a date once a week, but it doesn't always work out that way.  Alex and I take turns planning for Date Night, picking where we're going and what we're doing.  Over the summer, I decided to deviate from the typical restaurant dinner date by planning something a little unique.  The kicker, though, was that Alex was kept in the dark (literally) until the big reveal.

As we got on the road, I had Alex close his eyes so that he wouldn't know where we were going.  For dinner, I decided to stop at Jimmy John's to pick up a couple of sandwiches.  The restaurant had just opened, and neither of us had gotten the chance to try it yet.  We'd discussed waiting to eat there until we were together.  I just deviated from the plan a weensy bit by getting the food to-go instead of eating in.  ...He did become a bit antsy waiting in the car while I went into the restaurant to order the food.  Obviously, I couldn't just go through the drive through and expect to keep dinner a secret!

It just so happened that this date night took place on a gorgeous summer day (it wasn't hot as hades just yet), so the weather was perfect for a picnic.  I took us over to West Monroe for an evening at Kiroli Park.  We'd visited this park the year before when Alex's mom was in town visiting from North Carolina, but we really hadn't done a whole lot of exploring that day.  After enjoying our picnic, we decided to check out some of the walking trails.  It was really fun to put aside distractions from technology and just focus on having authentic conversations with one another.  The trails were mostly rustic, and appropriately scenic.  We had a great time!

We worked up a bit of a sweat hiking through the trails, so froyo dessert was called for!  Making one final stop at Orange Leaf was just the perfect way to end our night.  I guess by that point, the surprises were over so I'd given up on the photo documentation aspect of the date.  (You're all disappointed, right?)

So anyway, Alex didn't find out what the evening entailed until we arrived at the park and I told him to open his eyes.  He tried to figure out where we were by imagining which turns I made while driving, but he really had no idea.  It was fun to maintain that element of surprise for as long as I could, and he was definitely surprised for the big reveal.  The whole night was so much fun, and I can't wait until conditions are right for another "No Peeking" night out!


Friday, September 19, 2014

7 Quick Takes (Vol. 6)

Has it really been 6 months since the last time I linked up with Jen for 7 Quick Takes?!  Whoa.  Let's get this show on the road!

My health.  For those who have been following along with my health updates over the last few months, thank you.  A number of you reached out to me via e-mail, comment box, or text to say you were thinking of me and sending prayers.  In the grand scheme of things, I know this setback is just a small one, but your support means a great deal to me.

In the spirit of an update, I just thought I'd let you all know that my sense of anxiousness while driving has greatly subsided.  Driving to and from work has gotten easier with each passing day, and the last time I "practiced" driving on the interstate, the experience was much more pleasant.  I will test myself once again when Alex and I drive to/from Alexandria this weekend.  Hopefully it will be smooth sailing again here soon.  I'm also waiting on the results from my 4 week labs, so cross your fingers for good news there...

This weekend.  Of course, the two weekends Alex is off between July and December, I have to work. And did I mention he was free over the summer when my work schedule was packed full? [This stuff is for the birds, people!] Anyways...since I'm not comfortable driving long distances alone at this point, Alex is driving me to my weekend meeting in Alexandria on today, continuing to south Louisiana to spend the night at my parents' house, and returning to pick me up  tomorrow evening.  Technically, my meeting doesn't end until Sunday morning, but I decided to put my foot down and be selfish with my time, leaving on Saturday instead.  A girl wants to spend time with her husband, for goodness sakes!

New Phone.  The other piece to this whole logistical craziness for the weekend is that I am getting a new cell phone...but I don't get to see it or pick it out beforehand.  The company my family has our phones with is switching over to a larger-scale, Verizon-like system which means that every customer has to get a new phone.  Thankfully, the changeover is free, but everyone on family plans must make the switch during the same billing cycle.  That's a bit of a challenge for us, with 6 users living in 4 towns several hours apart.  We were finally able to coordinate a time to make the switch within a two week time frame, but due to my work conflict, Alex has to get there to turn in an old phone and get my new one.  He'll also have to select my new phone and get it all set up.  Meanwhile, I'll be without a phone for 24 hours...eek.  The one bright spot in this whole plan is that Alex will finally get a new phone - my hand-me-down Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini (which I LOVE) - to replace his old iPhone that has been falling apart for months.  He's also switching over to Straight Talk, which will save us $45 bucks a month.  #win

Life.  We have some other things in the works for us right now, so if you could keep us in your prayers on that, we would certainly appreciate it.  That's all I have to say about that!

Jams.  Ya'll, I am so in love with Jamberry.  The other day, I received a package with 9 new sets of nail wraps (not all for me!) and I am just itching to get those on.  I want to change the wraps out every week to try new designs, but they last a full two weeks so I can't bring myself to be wasteful!  So yeah, Jamberry.  Have you tried it yet?


Big Brother.  What would 7QT be without some mention of trash TV?  Less than 1 week until the Big Brother 16 Season Finale!  Seriously though, Derrick has this thing in the bag...and if he doesnt, something went very wrong between now and Wednesday.  Amirite?


Blog facelift.  Yes, I'm still working on the facelift for this here blog.  I started working on updating the About page (don't rush over there, it's not posted yet) and hopefully that will go live in the next few weeks or so.  According to Timehop, I changed the layout here exactly one year ago, so it makes sense as to why I'm ready for another change.  I don't know about you, but looking at the same color palate can get old quick!

And....that's what's up!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Goodwill Games: A Creative Date Night Challenge

On a more pleasant note...we watch way too much TV around here.  Okay, I know that sounds...not pleasant...but I promise I have a point.  With Fall work schedules in full swing around here, we decided to make Friday an excuse for a date night.

In an effort to break from our habit of watching too much television around the house, and the same 'ole, same 'ole dinner dates, I took to the interwebs for a little idea searching.  I also happened to have joined Pinterest the day before, so it seemed like a win-win combo for dreaming up a creative date night.  I can't say I found this specific idea from Pinterest, but a couple of other ideas led to this particular adaptation.

It turned out to be a stormy afternoon, so I decided on two options - date night in (building a fort/watching a movie) vs. date night out.  A quick check on the radar indicated dissipating weather systems, so Alex voted for date night out.  And so off we went!

First stop, the local Goodwill store.  Say what?  Yes, indeed.

As we pulled into the parking lot, Alex was obviously confused but he trusted the process and went with it.  Once we arrived, I told him we were going to play a little game.  For Round One, we had 10 minutes to find something for under $10...for the other person!  His face light up and totally bought into the challenge.  *Wife for the win!*

I went straight for the CD table.  Of course, there was nothing current or appropriate.  Then, I spotted the bookshelves...surely something there would work, right?!  Jackpot!  Within 30 seconds searching through the book section, I spotted a Photoshop tutorial book...and the best was just $0.99!  YES!  With plenty of time to spare, I continued shopping, for bonus points, of course.  Just before time was out, I came across a lava lamp, and grabbed it before going back to home base.  (We recently had a conversation about how neither of us had ever owned a lava lamp, even though "all the cool kids" had one.)

Wife, for the win!

Alex wasn't so lucky with Round One.  Reluctantly, he decided on some unknown DVD...something to do with the title or the cover picture relating to something...obviously if  I don't remember it now, the choice was a poor one.  Wife wins again.  :)

For Round Two, we took 5 minutes to find something for under $5, for ourselves this time.  Again, Alex scoured the store, only to grab a random belt at the last minute.  And again, I found success on the bookshelf, with a Karen Kingsbury novel for just $1.99.  Score!

Alex determined the challenge for Round 3 - 7 minutes to find the most "obscure" t-shirt.  Now, if you have ever been shopping at Goodwill, you know this is the place is a treasure chest for t-shirts.  With hundreds of strange, funny, and inappropriate t-shirts all sorted by color, having just 7 minutes to find the "most obscure" is quite a challenge!  I think we ended up calling a truce on that round, but it was fun nonetheless.

California Raisins do Vegas?

After Round 3, we were out of ideas and sufficiently gross-feeling (think how many people have touched all that crap!), so we decided to call it a night and head off to dinner.

So there you have, next time you are looking for a creative date night idea, take your "sigoth" out to Goodwill and challenge each other until you're worn out, or the employees start giving you the stink eye.  We would totally do it again, but probably not in Monroe (have I mentioned how disgusting this town is?), and probably with a longer list of pre-planned challenges.  Either way, you can call it a little friendly competition, call it weird, call it what you was fun!


Saturday, September 6, 2014

Perception is Reality

I have a confession.  I've basically been avoiding this place like the plague for a few weeks now.  I wanted to post, and have been thinking about it but every time I decided to sit down and write, something else came up, or I just didn't feel like it.  It's been kind of a roller coaster of emotions for me lately, and that's never fun to write about in what is supposed to be a fun, upbeat type of place.

A little over a month ago, I posted an update about the results of my bloodwork, telling about the latest plan for having an MRI to assess the situation.  After having to reschedule, I was able to complete the MRI on Friday, August 8th, and received a call the following Wednesday from a nurse saying there was a cancellation for the next morning and the doctor wanted me to come in to discuss the results.  I was scheduled to be at a meeting an hour and a half away that Thursday, BUT...when you get that kind of call, you do what you have to do to be there.

Thankfully, Alex was able to rearrange things at work to come along in case the news was something really big.  As it turned out, I have a microadenoma on my pituitary, which is a really long way of saying that I have a benign tumor growing in my brain (on the organ that produces hormones and regulates body systems).  The "micro" (small) and "benign" (non-cancerous) parts are good, but the tumor itself is causing my pituitary to overproduce the hormone prolactin, which prevents me from ovulating, and therefore having amenorrhea (missed/irregular periods).  AHA - it all makes sense!

Anyway, I was prescribed 1.25 mg of bromocriptine, which is supposed to slow or halt the growth of the tumor, (hopefully) resulting in the resumption of ovulation and regular menstruation.  Due to some extreme warnings listed on the medication, I started taking it on a Friday night, with plans to go easy on myself over the course of the weekend.  I was scheduled to attend a conference in New Orleans starting that Tuesday and figured I could work my way back to normal activity by then.

To make a long story short(er), I experienced a panic attack while driving to New Orleans the night before the conference.  I'm calling it a panic attack, because it's the best way to describe what I experienced based on what I learned after it all happened.  All I can say is that it was the most terrifying experience and I hoped I'd never feel that way ever again.  If my friend and her husband hadn't been just 15 minutes away at the time, I'm not certain I wouldn't have been found on the side of the road unconscious...or worse.

Thanks to a team of really generous folks, several people stepped in to help me get to the conference, retrieve my car, and get both me and the car safely back home (5+ hours away) at the end of the week.  I chalked the situation up to the medicine and unfamiliar driving territory, thinking I was out of the woods and would be fine from then on.

However, exactly 10 days later, I experienced yet another panic attack.  For some reason (more familiar area, closer to an area where I could pull off, daytime, something else?), this "spell" was not as severe as the first one.  I did have to call in reinforcements once again, and was practically terrified to drive, as a result.  I even had Alex come with me to practice driving to West Monroe a few days later, and though I made it there...I didn't feel like I could drive home, so he took over after that.

Since then, the doctor agreed to allow me to decrease my dosage to 1/4 of a pill. (I was already taking 1/2 of the 2.5 mg pill, which is the smallest it comes in.)  I also managed to drive two and from work every day this week, which is a 30 minute drive, and no small feat for someone dealing with this degree of anxiety.  Fortunately, I became more confident and secure with each passing day.  I don't know if it was the decreased dosage or my ability to cope with sense of fear and anxiousness, but I'm grateful that I can at least participate in my typical routine.

I will say I asked Alex to meet me at a gas station about 10 minutes from home yesterday because severe thunderstorms caused my feelings of anxiousness to increase to the point that I didn't feel safe driving anymore....but by the time he got there, I had recovered enough to make the drive for myself with him following in the vehicle behind me.  For those of you who have never experienced anything like this, it really is hard to describe.  It's not just fear, it's the body's physical response as well.  I'm talking about a sense of impending doom, loss of control, dizziness, heart-racing, tingling hands, shortness of breath, nausea...the list goes on.  It's just awful, and I would never wish those feelings on anyone.

So thinking about writing about this has been very difficult for me.  In fact, I can feel the tears welling up as I read over what I have written here.  To some degree, I'm embarrassed, and feel like I'm crazy for even making this out to be as big as I have.  Is it psychological?  Maybe.  Is there maybe some PTSD left over from the first experience?  Maybe?  How do I fix it?  I don't know.

I do know this is something I won't be able to "fix" overnight, and it may take quite a while to work through.  It's frustrating because I have spent so much time on the road over the years, driving myself from wherever I was living at the time, home for holidays, summers, to see friends, you name it.  The thought of not being able to hop in the car and drive home for the weekend, or to help Alex make the 14 hour drive east to visit his parents...that's just totally unfair.  What about the countless days I have to travel for work, much less the times I'm supposed to be transporting kids in my car?  How's that going to work?  I just don't know.

If you're still reading, thanks for your patience; I know this was a long one.  I'd really appreciate it if you kept me in your prayers and just remember..."perception is reality."  No matter what this is, it's real for me.  Acknowledge my feelings, be patient, and let me know that it's all going to be okay...