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Night One

So how did night one of reclaiming my sleep go? It went okay. I definitely had less trouble falling asleep than on previous nights. Last night, however, was not the perfect gauge as my lower back and sciatic nerve weren’t playing nice. I don’t think my lower back enjoyed all the work it was given during my yoga practice. It was a relatively rigorous practice for a Hatha class that featured a difficult series of transitions from standing, to warrior one, to warrior three, to revolved half-moon pose and back again. I think the movement may have irritated my sciatic nerve and the muscles around it. Fortunately, some meds and salonpas patches put paid to the pain at least temporarily. Hopefully, I will sleep well tonight because if there’s one thing that brings me joy it is a good night’s sleep.

Nonetheless, I’m going to continue blogging during the day for the foreseeable future. One it’s a much better use of my time. One can only read the internet so many times during a slow work day. Secondly, it frees up my time in the evening. Since it’s OEP (open enrollment period for Medicare folks), we’re back to working 10-11 hour days. Consequently, it is a bit more difficult to fit in all the commitments I have made for 2023. This, of course, includes daily running, yoga, blogging, reading, and regular strength workouts done through the Sweat App. Moreover, I’m doing the 21-day yoga challenge through Everyday yoga, which features a pre-selected class of varying lengths. Normally, I would choose a practice length that best suits my day.

Today’s yoga class is another Hatha practice, but it looks to be more gentle than yesterday’s practice. Gentle is exactly what my body needs today. Thankfully, today’s practice also focuses on opening the hamstrings, which will be super beneficial. My hamstrings are ridiculously tight whether I stretch, work out, or do nothing. In fact, I need to work on my hamstrings daily to keep them healthy. Otherwise, they’re a complete mess. One of my favorite ways to stretch them out is the legs up-the-wall pose, which also happens to be super relaxing.

I guess it’s going to get a bit cooler tomorrow evening, which will be nice. It won’t be cold enough for sleet or snow, but it will be fantastic sleeping weather. And we all know how I love good sleeping weather. Speaking of weather, I’m now stalking Chicago’s weather as the Mayor and I head there next week for hockey. I really hope it’s not too cold. While I do enjoy a depauperate winter wonderland as much as the next person, I don’t like driving in snow. Moreover, I hate driving in Chicago during snowfall. At least back some in Minny, a respectable effort is made to quickly clear the interstate. In Chicago, there is no such effort. It really sucks driving on 90 during a snowstorm.

Today’s accountability tracker:

Last Day

It’s the last day of the work week and my last day of work until 2023. Can I get an amen? Or maybe even a hallelujah? The week has been long as the business has been slow. Everyone that knows me well knows that I need to be busy. Idleness is not my friend. My hope for 2023 is that business goes back to booming as it did in 2021 and early 2022. We shall see. If it stays slow, I guess that will give me ample time and no excuses to not maintain the blog. Since AEP ended, our hours have been glorious. At present, I’m working a 9:00-4:00 pm shift, which is delightful. Hopefully, they’ll cut us loose early as it’s dead. I am not opposed to starting my vacation early.

As we move into the final weeks of 2022, I can’t help but be circumspect over the year that has been 2022. It began for me by bringing in the vicissitude that began in the fall of 2021. To be frank, the end of 2021 and all of 2022 has been hellacious for me. I have found myself in circumstances that one would think only exist in the movies. I mean, honestly, the shit that I have endured can’t be non-fiction. Yet here I am in the muck that is my life. Fortunately, I am one resilient bitch. And like a griffin rising from the ashes, I fully intend to make 2023 my year and reclaim my life.

To be fair, 2022 was not all negative. I have a lot of wonderful things going on in my life. My eldest made it home safely from deployment and continues to thrive in his role. Meanwhile, Goalielocks graduated high school and the Mayor continued to kill it at the rink. Throughout the year, I found myself in Savannah, Charleston, the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, and Utah. Each of these trips was completely and utterly delightful. All three were a complete indulgence of my love of all things travel. For the first time, I went on a nature-oriented excursion and actually saw nature. Whereas usually, I go on a tour that sees nothing and only hears about what the tour before us saw. I cannot tell you how much peace kayaking through waters shared with baby sea turtles and baby sharks can bring a person. It was an absolutely beautiful experience.

When I look back on 2022, I have no doubt that it will reflect a period of transition in my life. Undoubtedly, transitions are not always easy, but changes like death and taxes are a constant of life. For the first time in years, I feel healthy. It has been a long journey back from my diagnosis of Graves Disease. Significantly, it is something I will always contend with, but it feels good to feel normal again. More than that it feels amazing to have shed all of the weight I gained post-RAI (radioactive iodine treatment.). It only took four years, but sometimes losing weight the right way takes time. Lastly, I could not be more proud of my boys. They have grown into emotionally intelligent, mature, and caring men. I’m one proud mama.

I’m Back

I’m back after a well-deserved and much-needed hiatus from the blogosphere. Life has been quite busy especially with AEP over the past seven weeks. Since I last blogged, hockey season has been in full swing. Unfortunately, I missed a showcase and Thanksgiving tournament due to AEP. I did miss a couple of league games too. This year the Mayor is playing travel hockey and high school hockey as well. If you know me, you know I think high school hockey here is a complete abomination. The high school league is notorious for its huge disparity in both skill level and application of the rules. Teams have players that should be in learn to play on the bench with AAA and junior hockey players. Due to AEP, I missed most of the games. While I’m not in love with it, my player is having a great time playing with his friends.

It’s not just hockey that has kept me busy these past few months. In August, we started fostering the sweetest little puppy named Arrow. They believed him to be a husky mix. We, however, think he’s a border collie, Australian shepherd, and husky mix. I bought a DNA test, so we’ll see what breed that comes back with. Arrow is an absolute sweetheart, but also full of mischief. He’s quite the character. At eight months, he’s an avid chewer and loves to play with his siblings. Athena and Anakin have adjusted well, but they do tire of getting harassed by a puppy. Surprisingly, Arrow shares many characteristics with our sweet Maya girl, who passed in September of 2021. This, on top of his looks, is also why we think he may have some Australian shepherd in him.

In October, right before AEP, the Mayor and I traveled back to Charlotte for a showcase. He had a great weekend at the rink. This time the weather was absolutely beautiful. When we traveled to Charlotte two years ago, the weather was awful. It was freezing cold and it rained every day. There’s nothing worse than a cold winter rain especially if you’re from South Florida. This trip was great too because our team manager made arrangements for the players to eat at the hotel daily. While the players ate and watched videos, the parents could go enjoy a quiet lunch on their own. It was a really nice trip. Our next hockey trip takes us to Chicago in January.

One of the main reasons for the blogging hiatus was my health. Since joining Calibrate, I’ve lost all the post-RAI thyroid weight. Yay!! It’s been a huge year for reclaiming my health, but it hasn’t come without some hurdles. Since I don’t have a functioning thyroid anymore, I take both Synthroid (T4) and Cytomel (T3) as thyroid hormone replacements. My dose had been quite stable, however, when you lose 40lbs your dose has to change. In May, I found myself hyperthyroid again. Fortunately, my Apple watch allows me to easily track my heart rate. By the end of the month, I was getting high heart rate notifications when I was waking up. Since my heart rate wasn’t behaving, I had to stop working out. My Endo lowered my dose again and within two weeks I was feeling much better. I’m finally back to running and working out, which feels amazing.

As I type this, my oldest is on his way back to Florida for the holidays. I can’t wait to have all three of my boys home for Christmas. Last year Christmas was tough with Jake being down range. To add to the excitement, my parents will be joining us for the holiday as well. My folks haven’t been down for Christmas since 2018, so I’m super excited to have them here. My mom and I will be trying our hand at lefse again along with the smorgasbord of Christmas cookies we love to bake. In all actuality, there will be way more baked goods than necessary in my house over the next three weeks. We will be hosting our annual Christmas brunch, which is always a big hit. We’ve got it down to a science, no need to reinvent the wheel. And just like that, I’m back.

Utah Trip – Hiking

Our Utah trip this past summer was awesome. Of course, the highlight was being reunited with Jake, but we also had some great adventures together. One of my favorite things to do in Utah is hiking in the mountains. Unfortunately, I was not in great shape this time because I had just started running again. Consequently, the first hike in Utah’s heat and at a much higher elevation didn’t end well for me. I definitely lost my cookies going up the mountain. Fortunately, Jake and the Mayor took great care of me and we got down the mountain safely and intact.

The medicine I’m on with Calibrate is great, but nausea can be pretty bad, especially with exertion. Hence, I lost the cookies on the first hike. Our second hike was an easier trail with more shade, but the elevation and heat still kicked my arse. This time I was careful it take more breaks and keep my heart rate lower. I didn’t lose my lunch that time, but the hike kicked my butt. We did see a beautiful snake slither across the trail. Thankfully, it was not poisonous. Unfortunately, it was too quick for us, so nobody for a picture.

One of the most unique hikes we did was at the Golden Spike National Historical Park. This park is about an hour northwest of Ogaden on the northern shore of the Great Salt Lake. Rather than a hike up a mountainside, we hiked down to the shores of Salt Lake. Due to the drought, the American West has experienced, the lake is at its lowest level. Consequently, we hiked across the dried-up lake bed for more than a mile to reach the shore of the lake.

It was striking how dead birds or insects would lay preserved from the salt on the lake’s bed. As we approached the shore where the waves were breaking, there was a wide crust of salt running parallel to the waterline. As you looked out over the lake, it was a beautiful blue with haze coming off the water. It was gorgeous! Meanwhile, the waves of the lake had a bright reddish hue that made the lake look otherworldly. I was not tempted to go in the red water, but Jake and the Mayor did. They both said it felt like an Epsom salt bath. When they walked out of the lake, a layer of salt was left behind on their legs. Naturally, they collected some salt to use at home.

Beyond the beautiful hike on the bed of the Great Salt Lake, Golden Spike National Historical Park is a pretty neat place. They still have Victorian-era locomotives that travel the tracks, so visitors can see what they looked like. There is now a plaque where the golden spike used to be commemorating the coming together on the intercontinental railroad. As for the actual spike, it’s now on display at Stanford University.

There are several other hikes you can do at the park. We opted, however, to drive up to the Chinese Arch. It was a terrifying drive with a drop off of thousands feet to the right side. Meanwhile, the gravel road up to the arch was super narrow. While the arch was worth the drive, I’d probably go for the hike the next time around. I wouldn’t want to do that drive again.

My favorite hike this trip, however, was to Gloria Falls in Little Cottonwood Canyon. I love hiking the Cottonwood Canyons because it’s significantly cooler than hiking in and around Ogden. Our elevation at the start of the hike was over 7800 feet. By the time we hit the waterfall, our altitude was almost 9,000 feet. Thankfully, this particular hike is not arduous because if it was I really would have struggled. Once we got to the falls, the air temperature was in the low 60s. The rushing water coming off the mountains certainly had a chilling effect.

Gloria Falls, it’s absolutely stunning and worth the hike. There is plenty of space to take a good rest or eat a picnic lunch, which is awesome. If I had planned better, I would have brought lunch. The hike itself provides stunning vistas out over the forests of the canyon, the mountains, and the distant valley. It’s a popular hike, so you’ll want to head out early to find parking. Also, the last part of the trail is unmarked. Consequently, be sure to download the map from the AllTrails app, so you don’t get lost. Albeit, you’ll likely run into plenty of people on your way up to the falls. Nonetheless, this is a trail I’d hike again anytime I found myself in Utah.

One of the solo hikes I did on our last Utah trip was right next to the Weber Ice Sheet. It is a simple half-mile paved loop around a pond. While the boys enjoyed open skating, I enjoyed walking around the pond and picking blackberries. I was shocked when a beautiful doe crossed in front of me as she went near the pond to eat. When I looped around again, she was standing in the middle of the path just taking it all in. After seeing all the videos of bison goring stupid tourists at Yellowstone, I decided to give her a wide berth. Unfortunately, she was not there when I came back to run the next day.

All in all, we had some great hikes during this last Utah trip. Ones that I’ll certainly explore again. I’d love to spend more time hiking and exploring both Little Cottonwood and Big Cottonwood Canyons. Also, if my parents travel with us again, I think they’d really enjoy Golden Spike National Historical Park. Now back in Florida, I can tell you that I miss waking up in the mountains every morning. I love being up on the mountain exploring everything and every view it has to offer. There’s something almost spiritual about it! Anyway, I love Utah and I love hiking in Utah!

Deployment Diaries – The Homecoming!

I wrote my deployment diaries throughout the entirety of Jake’s deployment, but ultimately only published a few of them. After all, I think the ravings of a worried mother would have eventually gotten redundant for you all. Nonetheless, writing daily whether I published them or not brought me peace. Initially, I had expected that Jake would return in time for graduation. Unfortunately, given world events that was not the case.

Finally, this summer we had hints that he’d be returning stateside. Naturally, I held my breath because I didn’t want to get too excited in case he got extended again. After all, his and now our schedule is at the mercy of the military. And then the text, we’d been waiting for finally came, he was about to take off on his return flight home. Crazily, he had to wait until this point because until the plane is rolling down the runway, the military could change their mind and make them stay.

Like the stalker mom I am, I naturally found his flight and followed it throughout the night and the next day. I may have had a slight heart attack as his plane hit a radar dead zone in the middle of the Atlantic and fell off the screen. Fortunately, his plane was not in the dead zone for long and his plane re-emerged from the dead zone, I breathed a long sigh of relief.

Unfortunately for Jake, the journey home took several days with several stops. When he finally made it home, we were overseas. Oh, the irony. Fortunately, our trip was quick. Nevertheless, I was able to fill his new apartment with groceries from the Bahamas thanks to Shipt. His friends and Sgt helped him move in. Thankfully, his girlfriend was able to get there the Monday after he returned, which was awesome. I definitely didn’t want him alone.

Finally, about a week after he returned the boys and I were able to fly out and see him. Honestly, I thought my heart was going to burst from anticipation. It was a long day of flying, but we finally got to our Airbnb at around 11:30. On the ride from the airport, we had ordered pizza. It turns out it was the worst Papa John’s pizza any of us had ever had. Nevertheless, none of that really mattered to any of us as we were all back together.

When he first pulled up, we went out to greet both him and Melly, I think I hugged Jake for a good solid ten minutes. Or at least until his younger brothers started making fun of me. Some day when they have kids they’ll understand the emotional investment and the need for a ten-minute hug. As hugs go, I’d say it was the best ever. There’s no better hug than one from your child that just returned safely from deployment. During the course of that world record-setting hug, I could feel the weight of the world lift off my shoulders. No longer did I have to carry the stress of him being in constant peril in an uncertain world.

To all our friends and family that supported us throughout his deployment, we love you and thank you dearly. Jake loved all the beautiful cards, care packages, and goodies he received while being down range. He surely felt the love. His deployment was not without its scary moments, but he also had great command and a squadron that took care of him down range. He was also able to have some fun adventures that he’ll always relish. The one thing he won’t miss is the ridiculous temperatures and humidity of the Persian Gulf. Lastly, my heart is with all the military mothers that came before me who, unlike me, didn’t have the technology to communicate with their children regularly. I can’t imagine their pain. And this will close out my deployment diaries for now.

Deployment Diary – Saying Goodbye

I decided to keep an electronic diary of my thoughts during deployment. By the time this is published, he will be back home.

Saying goodbye to our eldest is never easy, but this last time it was particularly hard. This time it would be the last time I got to hug him before he left on his first deployment. To say that hug contained a lot of emotion and love would be a gross understatement. While he was excited for this new adventure, the mom in me couldn’t help but be anxious and worried sick. Naturally, I tried my best to hide this from him. After all, I didn’t want him feeding off my anxiety. Nor did I want him worrying about his mom.

Perhaps the hardest part of all of this is not knowing the details. He’s limited in what he can share with for obvious reasons, but it makes it hard when you don’t know the when and where. At the moment, we’re just waiting for the shoe to drop. Obviously, it’s been a bit nerve wracking.

Utah Bound

We’re wheels up on our way to Utah and I couldn’t be more excited. For the ten months, our oldest was deployed overseas and is finally home!!!!! I can’t tell you how hard it was as a mother to have a kid down range. I can only think of the Military moms and wife’s that came before me when the technology took keep us connected didn’t exist. My heart would have been in my throat daily if I had to wait for a letter via post. Technology, as sucky as it can be, was an absolute god send during his deployment. Anyway, I’m super excited to be spending the next week plus out West with my boys.

Twilight Zone

Last weekend’s hockey tournament was like stepping into the twilight zone. To be fair, it’s our fault for going. The memorial day tournament, as long as we’ve been involved in Florida hockey, has been an unmitigated disaster/twilight zone. This year’s tournament was no exception. Our weekend also had a 70s/80s flair courtesy of the Saddlebrook Resort. The furniture in our room was probably older than all of us.

Sunday was by far the worst day. Our first game of the day was an absolute disaster. In fact, it’s probably the worst hockey experience I’ve had to date. That my friends is saying a lot. One of the refs was not sober and did the job at a level commensurate to his lack of sobriety. There were only two refs as well because folks don’t want to pay for four. We should demand that there are four at the higher levels.

Consequently, the other team ended up with two goals that should never have happened. One the opposing goalie caught the puck and held it. There should have been a whistle or a play the puck here, but there wasn’t. As our boys came off to change, the goalie release the puck to his teammate, who naturally got a breakaway and scored. The second goal happened after the puck hit the netting in the neutral zone and wasn’t whistled dead. Apparently, the puck never crossed the line either, but that wasn’t something I could see from my vantage point.

By the third period, we had tied it up and the game started to devolve. There were several skirmishes that resulted in players being tossed from the game. Strangely, the refs never reported any player numbers or corresponding infractions. It was an absolutely odd situation. However, it would only get weirder after the game when the opposing coach added a goal for his son to the scoresheet. Thankfully, there was someone in the tournament office that watched the game and knew it had ended in a tie. Who does that shit?

The assistant coach added a goal for his son after the game.

The oddness of the day was punctuated in our second game by an opposing parent that walked back and forth behind the bench flicking off the kids. Seriously? I should also say the opposing coach was an asshole trying to get us to forfeit stating we had suspended players that were playing. Obviously, that was complete bullshit. I firmly told the coach to take note of the suspensions already noted as served on the scoresheet. He took a picture and huffed back to his bench. What a loser. At any rate, I will happily skip next year’s twilight zone tournament.

Monday we headed home, which is always a fun drive. There’s no worse road to drive than State Road 60. It’s awful anytime of the day and in any kind of weather. Once we got home, we quickly left again to go see my brother and sister in law that can to town Thursday. We all had a blast at the BBQ and the kids got to hang with their cousins, which was great.

Turks and Caicos

Last month I spent six days in the beautiful Turks and Caicos with my beautiful Momcation friends. This trip has been three years in the making and delayed twice due to COVID. We stayed in the most incredible villa, Tip of the Tail Villa, which was absolutely beautiful inside and out. Moreover, the villa comes with a staff including a butler, maids and a professional chef. Needless to say, Chef and Sheldon spoiled us rotten. We ate like queens day in and day out. Every meal was better than the last one. I don’t think I could even pick a favorite if I tried because they were all that good.

Usually on Momcation, we hang out almost exclusively at the house maybe going on one excursion. This time we took several excursions and all were well worth it. Wednesday night we hit up the world famous Da Conch Shack, which has a live junkanoo band that night. Honestly, it lived up to expectations. Our food was super tasty and the atmosphere was phenomenal. Thursday night we went to the world Famous Fish Fry. It was okay, but Da Conch shack was better. Friday night we did a sunset champagne cruise, which was absolutely sublime. We even saw some dolphins. Lastly, saturday morning we went Kayaking in the mangroves, which was incredible. We saw a large amount of baby sea turtles and baby sharks, which were super cute. Our adventures this trip were awesome.

If you’ve never been there before you should definitely consider it as a must-see destination. The beaches and waters of Turks and Caicos are second to none. In fact, the water in Turks and Caicos is on a whole other level. The different shades of blue are breathtakingly beautiful. More than that, the people of Turks and Caicos are super hospitable and welcoming. We didn’t run into one rude person, which after living in South Florida is a nice change.

Things to do when in Turks:

  • Go to Grace Bay and enjoy the beautiful white sand beaches. It’s a beautiful spot. You won’t regret spending time here.
  • Visit Da Conch Shack (Wednesday if you want to see the Junkanoo band.) This restaurant is extremely popular, so make you make a reservation a couple of weeks before you trip.
  • Champagne Sunset Sail through Ocean Vibes was absolutely amazing. They have an open bar and plenty of food form local restaurants to keep you well fed as you drink.
  • Kayak tour with Rising Tide Charters. There are several kayak tour operators in the area, but what I loved about Paddle King Jennings and Rising Tide Charters was that our excursion was only us. We had a small intimate group whereas the other tours were quite large. Our guide brought a cooler full of water for us and was eager to share all he knew about the Islands, the mangroves and the animals that inhabit the mangroves.
  • Visit Mudjin Harbor on Middle Caicos. It’s not the easiest place to get to, but if you have the time I highly recommend it. We didn’t visit Middle Caicos this trip, but did visit Mudjin Harbor on our first Momcation in 2018.

En Route

I’m officially en route to Turks and Caicos for Momcation 3.0. This trip has been three years in the making and couldn’t have come a moment too soon. To say I need some rest and relaxation would be an absolute understatement. For the next five days, there will be no fucks given about anything as I soak up the sun in paradise with some of my favorite people!