Friday, March 29, 2013

Pub Linner

Today we ventured out (an hour in friggin' traffic) to a fun little Irish pub for a late lunch/early dinner or "linner" if you will.

Jimmy was in fake Irish heaven. He had Scottish eggs, corn beef and cabbage and ordered some shephards pie to-go.

Oh and duhhhh: Guinness.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Underwear, Banana and Brunch

Yesterday, Jimmy and I had therapy after a rough morning. We didn't have therapy because of the rough morning it just happened to work out that way.

Jimmy was grumpy because he woke up tired. Not rested. Low energy. He was mad because he knew he'd feel like shit all day.

I was grumpy because I knew that meant another day inside, sleeping it off.

It had been awhile since we've had a date -- lunch or dinner. I'll even settle for an afternoon in the courtyard. I can usually bribe him with warm weather and sunshine, but WHAT THE HELL, SPRING? YOU'RE TARDY AS CRAP!

These cold temperatures aren't doing his neck-tensing situation any favors. He does much better these days in a warmer climate.   

I imagined, in therapy, that we were having the same conversations in separate rooms with separate therapists: me talking about ways to get us out more, when to push, when to lay off.  Him, the same. Maybe he he'll just have to do things even if he doesn't feel like it.

I think it worked. They must have had a good session yesterday because Jimmy didn't refuse brunch this morning (huge deal).

We had to get up early for a urology procedure at The Shepherd Center. That kid was sleepy. Dark circles under eyes. Not very hungry. Little to no words being spoken unless they were laced with grumpiness.

But me too. There wasn't enough coffee within my reach this morning.  One point, I looked down and there was a pair of (clean) Jimmy's underpants and a banana in my purse.  Just that kind of crazy morning.
As we were leaving Shepherd, Jimmy said we could go to brunch. On the outside, I played it cool. On the inside though? Oh yeah, oh yeah! This girl loves some brunch.

We went to Another Broken Egg Cafe, a place I discovered while gallivanting near our apartment early on. It was close and you get speedy service with a smile (Good sell for Jimmy). Every time I go I have to get the blackberry grits.

Jimmy was beyond exhausted, I knew. I almost gave in and went home but I didn't. He enjoyed his bacon and sausage omelet and I enjoyed my husband's company, and obvs the grits.

While there, we talked with a woman who was telling us her husband was at The Shepherd Center after a fall.  He used to be a professional ball player and then coached some sort of ball in West Virginia. 

Every time I run into a SCI wife, I hate that I don't have a card. Just so they could email me with questions. That was a good resource for me when we were SCI beginners.

She loved our van and how cute it was.  Although they are older, (her husband is 75) she said she didn't want "a big old honkin' high-top van" but something a little smaller, stylish and modern. Of course that's why we got our little VW.  If we had to do this at least we could be in a fun little van.

It seemed to help her to see that we had, "had it together."

Jimmy is sleeping off his early morning exhaustion and I'll wait to see if he will feel rested enough to go to Peer Support tonight.

Underwear, banana and brunch.  That's our day, so far...

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Wednesday Wisdom: Bitches

Werd, Tina. Werd.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Straw



The other day, Jimmy and I were in the living room watching TV.

He had an itch on his face. His sip-and-puff straw can be his life-saver for when itches happen. He's now a professional at maneuvering.

Jimmy moved his straw by the way of chomping down and yanking his head to reposition it.

So he bit. Pulled. Tried to get to the itch. The straw didn't quite make it.

He bit again. Pulled some more and tried once again to get to the itch. Didn't work.

He went back and tried a third time (must have been a doozy of itch) and then realized I was in the room, so he lovingly gave up.

I got up and scratched my husband's face. But watching that little display was pleasing.

It's almost as if he forgot I was there. It was almost like I was getting an inside look at what he does when when he's alone(ish).

He tried to handle it himself.  May not sound like a big deal, but it sort of is...

Independence. Adjustment. Growth.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Chicken Enchiladas

I made this recipe based on watching other people make enchiladas and got some further pointers from recipes online, so I'm calling it my own.

Also, I don't do a lot of measuring so, here's my best guess.

I used mushrooms, chicken and onions in my filling. Obvs, you can change that up as you'd like.

Ingredients:
*I used Low Carb Soft Taco La Banderita Tortillas (they are soft enough to roll up)
*Boneless, skinless chicken fillets. (2-4 pieces) You can also use a rotisserie chicken to save time.
*Mushrooms
*Onions
*Cilantro
*Softened cream cheese (I used light)
*Sour cream (I used light)
*Red enchilada sauce (16oz or so)
*Olive oil
*Cooking spray
*Seasonings
*1 packet of taco seasoning
*Shredded cheddar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cook your chicken. I did mine in a pan on the stove, cooked in garlic and olive oil. Seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic salt, etc.
In a separate pan, cook a roughly chopped onion in some olive oil and garlic (I like thee garlic). Season with pepper and a little salt. Cook for a few minutes.
Add mushrooms to that pan and some chopped cilantro. Cook down mushrooms. I like them to be a little browned.
When chicken is done, roughly chop it or shred it with a knife.

In a large bowl, combine shredded chicken and mushroom/onions.
Add packet of taco seasoning
Add half a block to a block of softened cream cheese
Add 3 or 4 spoonfuls of sour cream
Mix it all up.
Your filling is done.

Take your tortillas and pop them in the microwave for about 10-15 seconds to make them more pliable.
Spray casserole dish with cooking spray
Cover the bottom of a rectangular casserole dish with your red enchilada sauce. (I used an 8oz. packet of red sauce. Next time I'll use two packets. It almost wasn't enough) Put some sauce aside for later.

Get your warm, softened tortilla
Put a few spoonfuls of filling on the inside
Fold both sides in and then roll her on up.
Roll the enchilada *all the way around* in the red sauce that's in the bottom of casserole dish and then leave the bathed enchilada in the dish.
Continue until you fill the casserole dish with enchiladas

Pour rest of sauce over top of enchiladas.
Also, add some shredded cheddar over top.

Cook in preheated oven for 20 minutes.

Our new favorite meal. Jimmy says this should always replace "taco day" in the house. My poor peppercorn pork tenderloin I'm making tonight doesn't stand a chance after these.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Springtime

"I am sick of four walls and a ceiling. I have need of the sky, I have business with the grass."
- Richard Hovey

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Quad Wives

Recently, thanks to a fellow wife of a quadriplegic, I've been introduced to a whole new circle of caretakers and quad spouses.

Maybe this is why going to AA helps, or any support group for that matter. Talking and sharing and feeling through stories that are similar. They get it. You feel less alone in this crazy, wack world.

A woman who lives in the state of Washington somehow got a hold of my CaringBridge blog for Jimmy. She started emailing me with ideas, tips and words of encouragement. She had been there. She was on the other side waving me through. We became friends on Facebook and then she included me in some groups in which have paved the way for me to find some incredible blogs.

One blog I found was that of a chica who lives in Virginia Beach. I was immediately drawn to her and her writing. In common we have: husbands with spinal cord injuries, blogs -- and -- TV news. Bang. She's an executive producer. Very similar to what I used to do in my old news life.

Her name is Dana Brown Ritter and her blog is called Love Like This Life. Both Dana and her husband, Mike, post to the site regularly. Dana recently published an eBook (my hero) and I bought it about a week ago.

It's based off one of her most popular blogs called "We Are" and is dedicated to her fellow quad wives or SCI sisters.

Although there are some differences with our husbands (Mike uses his arms to push his manual wheelchair, Jimmy uses a sip and puff straw to drive his chair) the message is the same and it's incredible to read about some of the stuff they experience together.

It's an amazing, amazing little body of words.

Here's just some of why this blog grabbed me and hugged me harder than most humans could. I picked my favorite parts.

We are the wives of quads
... we may have survived the scariest thing of our lives -- almost losing the men we love, but getting them back this way.

... we may or may not also put our hot or cold feet on those hot or cold legs in order to warm up or cool down.


... we may or may not put our husband's arms around ourselves, if we have to.

Because the very beginning of the day, and the very end of the day, that's the only chance we have to be really close... without any titanium or rubber or aluminum between us.

We don't get to walk hand in hand with our husband's on the beach. Or sit on their shoulders in the pool.  Some of us don't even get to ride beside them in the car.


We can clean up any kind of bodily produce imaginable. Without breathing. We do more laundry than anyone else you know.


We multitask.


We are landscapers, maids and mechanics.

We are drivers and nurses and wheelchair repairmen.

... we are taken care of too. We are deeply loved.


We are part of a team.

And sometimes, despite the hard work and frustrations, we are thankful that we are forced to love this way, because we are also loved this way.

Fantastic, right? You can buy Dana's eBook HERE.

So happy I stumbled upon this world of women. I have never felt more comforted by complete strangers.

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Happy Movie

Everyone should watch this. Do it. Now. It's a documentary called "Happy."

Jimmy and I watched it yesterday and it really resonated with me on a number of levels. It's currently on Netflix's instant streaming.

"Happy" shows the happiest cultures/countries (Denmark, Bhutan) and the least happiest places and people, like in Japan, where many are physically working themselves to death. There's even a term for it: Karoshi. I don't think I knew about this. It's a very sad, very real phenomenon.

There were a lot of stories like this. Some hard to watch, some not sad at all. Some so simple it's mind-boggling. A group of older folks who get together once a week, eat a bunch of crab and just talk and laugh. And... that's it. Happiness.

But this: the story of a beautiful, gorgeous woman -- married with kids -- who got run over by a truck. Her face had to be reconstructed. She looks different now. Some would say she's not beautiful anymore. Her husband divorced her.

And yet, now, NOW she's the happiest she's ever been. After the accident. It took time, fear, pain, angst. But she's there.

She said something that helped me. It was something along the lines of: "I kept thinking, I don't understand. I just don't understand. And now I realize... I don't have to understand and that's okay."

I DON'T HAVE TO UNDERSTAND.

I feel like the "WHY" can kill you. Trying to wrap your brain around it. It's hopeless.

On with my movie review/book report..

There was a pie chart (who doesn't love a good pie chart?) that shows how current research measures happiness.

Genetic: 50%
Circumstance: 10%
Intentional activity (actions you chose to do): 40%

Fascinating, aye?

Oh, and this. A lead researcher on happiness told the filmmaker:

"A person's values are among the best predictors of their happiness. People who value money, power, fame and good looks are less likely to be happy than people who value compassion, cooperation and a willingness to make the world a better place... people who express their love—who rejoice in the health and happiness of others are more likely to feel loved and happy themselves."

Okay just love.

Oh, one last thing. There was a section of movie that focused on bullying. This was the only time of the film I actually cried my eyeballs out. With the help of an anti-bullying coach, a child gets up in front of all his classmates and tells them he's tired of being picked on for being so short. He tries to be tough, but then breaks down. I can't. Gets me every time.

The film gets the brain moving. Do we really need MORE?

After watching this movie, I think... no.

Now to put that into practice, right?

The film's website: http://www.thehappymovie.com/film/


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Greenville

My how I missed this South Carolina city. I took a solo trip to mine and Jimmy's former home this past weekend.

It was a girl's trip planned months ago. Four of us were going to meet. Sadly, one couldn't make it because her father passed away. After a lot of going back and forth we went ahead with the short visit, especially since the purchasing of plane tickets were involved. But it certainly wasn't the same without her. Wish I could have transported her to us, if only for a an hour. I know she feels the same.

The days and moments leading up to my leaving were okay. Better than okay. Jimmy was a part of the planning and even talked about things he was going to do when I was gone, food he was going to order and movies/TV/sports he was going to watch.

This made me happy. Leaving is hard. This helped.

I left, locking the door behind me, and man did it sting.

My first stop was an impromptu visit to our old station. I had a little bit of time to kill so, SURPRISE NEWS PEEPS!

It was so good and weird to be there. We hadn't been since June 2012. And before that, I hadn't been back since my last day of work in August 2011.

Everyone wanted to know where Jimmy was, of course. I expected nothing less. He was much more social than I when we worked there. People loved him. I worked there longer than he did, but knew way more people in that building.

There were a lot of new faces but a good handful of familiar ones that I got to spend a short amount of time with.

I was touched to see there were not one but THREE "Jimmy Boards" around the stations. Pictures of his progress, Christmas cards etc. Also, under the current staff remains Jimmy's picture. The same photo that's on his ID badge that's still in his wallet.

It made me happy to come back and tell him about that.

One of the three "Jimmy Boards" still up at our old station


Onto girls weekend. I was greeted with two gorgeous, happy, familiar faces, a lot of cheese and wine and a fire place controlled with a light switch. That's what's up.

Saturday afternoon was a coffee, get pretty, nap day. We got our nails did. I felt like being tweeny, apparently.



A cray moment. Neon orange and glitter nails. My younger, much wilder sister would approve. 
My risky Kim Kardashianesque dress, Spanx included.
And yes, that's how I treat guest rooms...

We dined and wined before I realized I was old and suggested we go back home to the lightswitch fireplace at 11pm. I think it was then we decided we're just dinner, dessert and cocktail gals. You will not find us in da club. And that's okay.

This drink, though, was pretty f'ing amazing. A Maple Rye Manhattan. It accompanied a very good steak, asparagus and some of the best macaroni and cheese I've ever had. I'm having to do some serious work to make-up for the wonderful crap I consumed this past weekend. So extremely worth it. I wouldn't uneat any of that Manchego if I had the chance.  


Sheila and Victoria.
My cute friends gallivanting in Downtown Greenville.

We walked past The Westin Poinsett Downtown on the way for dessert and I had to snap a picture. This is where we stayed for my bachelorette party in 2011. A gorgeous hotel.

Catherine and Me  


Sunday, after sitting around drinking a lot of coffee and trying to adjust to Daylight Saving Time, I finally got up and headed to lunch to meet another Greenville friend. It's always so good to sit and talk with Dear Friend Catherine. And she shared her fries.

As I was leaving Greenville, I got so completely emotional. Didn't even see it coming. The way I left town was on a road that I didn't even know about until Jimmy showed it to me when we lived there. He showed me shortcuts. He showed me the fun little pubs downtown. We walked on the weekends, hand in hand, establishing favorite places. We found Greenville, just the two of us.

We moved there together away from our home. So much of it reminds me of Jimmy and our old normal, for which I still tend to grieve.

It was harder than expected to be back there without him in our city which holds some happy, painful memories. But, it was good to bring all my experiences and moments back to him.

There's a special place in my heart for that cute little city.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Wednesday Wisdom: Fruit Loop


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Back in Bed

Oh this?

This would be Husband and I together in our bed for the first time in 19 months.

Who knows why this took so long, but my heart is like an ewwy gooey chocolate chip cookie.

It's pure amazement what such familiar comfort can do for the soul of a relationship.

The right side of the bed missed the hell out of that kid.

Pixar Tears?

Dear Jimmy,

I just left your room. I set your TV timer. Put your call alert straw within reach. Pulled the blanket up. Turned on your white noise machine. Did some last minute scratching of your head before I left the room for the night. I looked down at your face as you watched TV.

You looked so comfortable. You were smiling. So why on earth did I start crying?

I'm so sorry this happened to you.  I'm so so sorry.  Is it okay that I feel sorry?  Does that make me weak to admit that? I feel sorry for us sometimes.

My heart is sorry you were dealt this.  It's just not fair.

You saw a heavy tear stream down my face and I told you I suddenly got sad. You were concerned, but assured me it was because I just watched a (Disney Pixar) movie.

You know me well.

I put on Frasier to try and turn this emotional crazy train around, promptly.

I'm sure the movie had something to do with it, but there was something about looking at your sweet face in a pillow, with the TV reflection in your eyes.

I still can't believe it sometimes.  Most of the time I can.  It's the occasional "sometimes" that get me.

I take comfort in knowing you're still living. You're doing it the only way you know how. You'd be living louder if you could. Right now, it's a little quieter, as we battle the physical limitations -- fatigue, weakness, soreness and even coldness. But you always keep going. That's all anyone can ask.

I want you to know I still love you. Always have. Always will (Thanks Bridget Jones for that gem).

I'm proud of your ability to still smile at the little stuff. The little stuff has become our peace of mind. The little stuff is our living.

I'm happy we still make each other laugh. Especially now that we're in each other's faces so much more these days.

We make it through our spats quicker.  Probably because you can't storm off. You used to love to do that, you little hot-tempered Portuguese, you.  You do threaten to still leave the room when I make you really mad,  but you lose some of the effect with the chair.

I'm sure that's something you hate.  That you can't properly storm off when I piss you off.  Wink, wink.

Thank you for putting up with my emotional crazy trains.

And, I am sorry.  I know there are some who'd say I shouldn't be sorry. I should just keep my head up, move onwards and upwards.  Oh the frick well. I'm human.

I guess tonight I had a 'feeling sorry for us' moment. THANKS DISNEY PIXAR.

I love you Husband.

Sleep well,
Your Adorable Wife

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Get Well Soon

My apartment has gone on a diet and lost a lot of crap. I've purged so much stuff from this place.

It's starting to look uncluttered, clean, light, airy.

In one of my fits of rage, I started to throw away a stack of "Get Well" "We're Here For You" "We're Praying For You" "Stay Strong" "You Got This" "There's A Plan For You" cards we received after Jimmy got injured 19 months ago.

There's no way this is all of them. At one point, I lined our hospital room at Shepherd with them.

However, this is a good stack.

Last night, as I was junk cleaning, I stood over the garbage and read these before I threw them in the garbage.

One by one... each capable of taking me right back there. People opening their hearts, writing real, raw words of support and encouragement. Offering to help. Sending paper hugs.

Read. Try to remember. Toss.
Read. Try to remember. Toss.

But then the kid notes/cards/drawings. Goodness me.

Yep. I starting picking each card back out of the garbage.

These stay. Other stuff can go. This stack of cards stays.

The Parentals

Sometimes it sucks living in a city with not many friends and zero family. But it makes it that much sweeter when we get visitors.

Especially La Familia.

Moms and Pops were here in the Hotlanta (not so hot -- we had some snow flurries) this weekend. It was a three day tug-of-war of Mom/Dad wanting to help me, and me wanting to play host to them.

You may remember when I mucked up the homemade meatballs I made for Jimmy.

I got a genuine Tam Tam cooking lesson last night. Meatballs. AND. Homemade marinara. Jimmy would occasionally mumble from the living room, "you paying attention?"

YEAHHHHHH.

Mom made 49 meatballs last night and two giant pots of sauce. Our freezer is preserving the goods.

For a few hours last night, my apartment smelled like it should: ITALIANY. HOMEMADENESS.



Oh, I even got two of these fabulous lamps. Target. Mom helped me pick them out and I love them. They are so great. They help this lil ole apartment look grown-up. Jimmy loves them.




Twas a good weekend. It was nice having them in our little square inch. They helped me check off lots on my to-do list.

The Parentals are gems.