Holy Crap! Where does time go!

SO I swear it doesn’t feel like its been that long since I have posted, but apparently my last post was before I started this amazing job! How can that be.

Life is pretty good for me.  I am loving my job. My kids (the boys I am taking care of) stress me out and give me a hard time, but Its worth every second. I mean just today, It took me over an hour to get them to complete their chores correctly! And I even heard myself saying things like, “Just do it and get it over with,” or if you don’t get it done before you leave this morning you will be in trouble when you get home!”  Oh isn’t motherhood grand! And I didn’t even need to have my own kids to experience this joy!

We have had some good times. I have done a lot of cooking and baking for them, and they love it. We all took a trip to Wisconsin Dells, and not too long ago we took a 12 day trip to Pennsylvania to visit Moose Lodges and show our appreciation to them for their continued support. That was a long drive, and long trip, but a wonderful time (even though my kids insist that I went crazy and was mean).

The campus I live on is absolutely beautiful, and every day it worth going out to take a walk… well today its raining, so that isn’t going to happen. 🙂  here are so pictures of the time I have had thus far.

With one of my kids, Akim

With one of my kids, Akim

@ Wisconsin Dells

@ Wisconsin Dells

Out and about in PA

Out and about in PA

Detour!

Detour!

Photo Bombed!

Photo Bombed!

Gone Caving

Gone Caving

I have had a great time thus far, and have had some not good great times, but those are few and far between. If the weather clears up soon I will take pictures of this beautiful campus and the church with its breath taking windows.

I am back in the swing of blogging again. I have started a raw food diet that has me blogging here. I am Trying to lose some of this weight I have packed on since returning back to the States. Hopefully it goes well.

So again, I am sorry for my disappearance, and hopefully you will see much more of me here.

 

 

 

 

 

A Different Road….

One of the most difficult decisions I have had to make, came once I finished my physical therapy after my back surgery and the doctor cleared me to go back to normal. Do I apply to return to my Peace Corps service in Indonesia? Or, do I forge ahead and take a different road in life? After seeking advice from many people and getting comments about how I am “Not a Spring Chicken any longer” or how my “baby bearing days are almost at an end” I decided to think about my decision and come up with a plan that was best for me. All I knew at the time was that after being in pain and having limited movement from May 2012 to January 2013, It was time to take action and get my life jump started. After much debate, tears of frustration, and talking to other Peace Corps Volunteers and friends, I made the decision NOT to go back to Indonesia, and try to start my life here in the States. My best friend Emily (We banded together in College when we sat next to each other in an African American Lit class with a teacher that didn’t really appreciate our thoughts and views, and have been best friends ever since) told me that she had talked to her parents about my staying in the States and wanting to start fresh, and they were kind enough to make me the offer to move up to Chicago and stay with them while I looked for a job and got on my feet. There would be no rush, and I could take my time looking for a job that I actually wanted. After thinking about it and weighing out all of my options, I decided to take them up on their extremely generous offer and moved up to Illinois smack dab in the middle of winter in January.

Jacket

Where I am living in the suburbs of Chicago is pretty amazing. I am getting used to the cold out here, though there are days that I look like an Eskimo when I go outside. We have tons of farm fields out here and wide open spaces. Every time I take a drive, I can’t get over how pretty it is out here. There are also tons of birds of prey around here. I see hawks and falcons every day. Harry and Libby (Emily’s Parents) took me to go Eagle watching a few weeks back. It was pretty amazing. We bundled up and went out to one of the dams in the area. There were about 5 bald eagles in the tree, and we watched as they flew around and swooped into the water to catch fish. There were a ton of people out there taking pictures with these amazingly awesome cameras and lenses. I WANT ONE! Maybe one of these days I will be out there with them. We have gotten a couple of snow storms and are due for another this week, but nothing too terrible. Its giving me good practice for the future winters. I even went out and shoveled the walkway (it seems just plain wrong to sweat that much when there is so much snow all around you).

Neighborhood

I am not that far from the city. I live probably 5 – 10 minutes from the train station, and just take that right in to downtown. That being said I have only been into the city a few times. I went a few weeks ago for a night out with my friend Travis. We went to an underground circus show that totally blew my socks off. The people were beyond talented and it was absolutely breath taking. I can’t even imagine the stamina and training it takes to do the things that they were able to do… tight rope walking, trapeze, ribbons. etc. Absolute craziness. But it was an AMAZING time and we had a lot of laughs.

Circus2

Circus1

I also started the craziness that is Job Searching. There is nothing that stresses me out more than having to sit down and search for a job. Its not just looking for a job that doesn’t sound like I would want to scratch my eyeballs out while working, it is the nervous wreck I become while I sit and wait for a call back, or go for an interview. I always wonder why haven’t I heard back from anyone? Am I not qualified for a job that I felt like a monkey could do? So needless to say I have been a little stressed and irritable. That being said, I did find a job, and even though it seems like it took FOREVER, it didn’t take that long… maybe a month total. I was hired at Mooseheart Child City and School as a Family Teacher. Mooseheart is a residential childcare facility, located on a 1,000-acre campus west of Chicago. Its a home for children and teens in need, from infancy through high school. The position requires me to live on campus in one of the homes of the kids. I will be there to help the kids with every day life problems. homework, teaching them how to do every day chores and tasks, learn responsibility, how to do laundry, banking, etc. The goal is to teach them the skills they will need to survive after graduation when they are on their own. I will be working in the boys community. I am nervous and excited at the same time. I start mid March, and have to go through 3 weeks of training before I take on responsibilities at the house. This is exactly the kind of job I was hoping to find. I am still striving to do good, and help kids in need. That to me makes the perfect career, and I couldn’t ask for a better way to start my new life.

Moose Statue on Campus

Moose Statue on Campus

Also new… after over 2 years of growing my hair out naturally and not having anyone touch it (not even a trim) I decided to go and get my hair trimmed to remove the split ends and help it grow. To cut my hair they had to flat iron it straight. I love how it looks. It is tempting me to permanently straighten my hair.

Straight Hair

So my new journey has started here in Illinois… Lets hope this one is successful and fulfilling.

Trip To Savannah, Georgia

Being better again has many perks. I am up and walking, I could burn my wheelchair and cane if I wanted to!, I can stand long enough now to cook again, and I can sit long enough now to travel.

As some of you may already know, I love to travel. I love to see places that I never have been. They could be amazingly awesome places or just humble towns. It doesn’t really matter to me because every trip is a learning experience and another place you can say “Oh! I have been there!”

The first trip after my surgery was to Savannah, Georgia. Tybee Island to be exact. I have been wanted to go to Savannah for YEARS…. actually it was ever since I saw the movie “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.” (Yes, I let movies influence my life that much… You are looking at a woman who picked her college after watching “Remember the Titans.” My family still makes fun of me for it.) Anyhow, my wonderful Uncle and Aunt presented the opportunity for me to see Savannah and Tybee Island when they came up with the genius idea to have Thanksgiving there this year. The idea was to have a relaxed, low key, holiday to regroup and enjoy each others company. And it proved to be just the ticket! We were in a cozy cottage and I couldn’t have asked for a better way to relax and get my head together after all that had happened over the past year.

Cottage

Cottage

Though before we departed for Savannah I decided to put together a goodie basket for my hosts to say thank you for inviting me on a much needed vacation. I ended up making homemade apple butter, pink popcorn, peanut butter fudge, chocolate caramel sauce, orange honey butter, garlic herb butter, and apple cheddar biscuits. The kitchen was a mess by the time I finished, but all of the food was a great hit, especially the fudge. I will be blogging the recipes on my craft blog here. (If you look and they are not there…. have some patience with me. They are coming soon! I promise.)

Pink Popccorn

Pink Popccorn

Peanut Butter Fudge

Peanut Butter Fudge

My first long car ride after my surgery went pretty well. I wore that horrid back brace contraption thing I was supposed to wear, and made the trip in relatively good shape. Tybee Island was GORGEOUS and quiet. I got to see all of my cousins and my Aunt and Uncle which made me the happiest I had been in a very long time. My cousins are all super active and we had a great time freezing and playing soccer on the beach (I didn’t play too much since my mobility was still a bit limited), going on a nature hike, and going into downtown Savannah to the River Front to shop and have lunch.

My Cousins and Me

My Cousins and Me

Downtown Savannah was beautiful! It was so nice to see all of the gorgeous statues and gardens. The riverfront was also nice. It was full of shops and restaurants. I discovered a store called The Savannah Bee Company! OMG. That is really all I can say about it. There are tons of different types of honey to try, lotions, lip balm, soap, candles, and much more made from Bees wax. I got some amazing hand lotion and lip balm that I now cannot live without! If you haven’t tried the Savannah Bee Company’s products, you should see if you can find it somewhere! The water was gorgeous and there were amazing ships out on the water.

Ship

Ship

Statue

Statue

The nature hike was also amazing. I love seeing animals be it at the zoo or what have you. I always want to take pictures and get as close as possible to them. We were able to see wolves, bald eagles, bobcats, a baby raccoon that was taunting the bobcats on the other side of the fence, lots of sheep and other farm animals, cranes, etc. It was a wonderful 2 mile hike and I had a really good time.

Baby Raccoon

Baby Raccoon

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

All in all, Savannah and Tybee Island was an amazing getaway and I would definitely visit again. If you have never had a change to visit and you are looking for a relaxing time away from the troubles of life.. I highly recommend it. 🙂

Sunset

Savannah Sunset

Stay Tuned!

So Now that I am up and walking about I have been busy! I have been traveling a little bit and cooking a lot! The result has been some awesome times and a whole slew of back logged blog posts for both of my blogs.  Sooo…  I promise to start posting them soon! Let me first survive this holiday and then we are back in business. Just don’t give up on me. I am still blogging and posts are coming!

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Angela 🙂

I Love Surgery

The last week before surgery seemed to fly by. It was full of doctors appointments, pre-operative testing, a class on proper care after surgery, and iPhone!  I got a wonderful iPhone and it really helped my time waiting for my appointments fly by. I also discovered Instagram. So between iPhone and Instagram, I am able to share my surgery experience with you! 🙂

I had to be at the hospital at 7:00am. So I woke up at the butt crack of dawn, and stumbled to the car.

 

I went through the whole prepping ordeal really quickly, and can I just say… HOLY CRAP… with the IV in the hand thing.  That was the worst part of the whole thing. I got a pretty blue hat, some stylish white thigh high stockings that were supposed to help with blood flow (and put on by a very handsome male nurse.. lol), and an awesome gown…

But as I was about to go into surgery, my doctor came in and was like ‘So you remembered your pictures right?’  So…. that answer was that to a lot of cursing (on my part) and then I proceeded to cry as I realized that my spot for surgery was pushed back while I waited for my grandfather to run back to the house to get my MRI that was left sitting by the door.

So a few hours later, with a nap during that time, I was back in the surgery room and a few minutes later I was out of it and then waking up in the recovery room.

I felt pretty good upon waking up and my mood and everything continued to improve over the next couple of days. I was able to get up and walk the next day with very little pain. I was slow but I didn’t need a walker or anything. I met with the doctors and they said that the mass that they removed from my back was much larger than was expected. But now that it all out I should notice a huge difference. And that was so correct. I was able to sit up in the car the whole ride home and felt no pain…. though I am sure that a large part of that was due to the morphine they gave me in the hospital.  But I arrived home to a wonderful recovery package on my bed, with a halloween bucket from the Popcorn factory, a letter from my friend George, and a couple of books from my friend Megan.

I have been home from the hospital for a week now. All I can say is… It feels like a MIRACLE!

I am moving like a normal person and I am pain free.  The only discomfort I really have is a sore back and a hella itchy incision. I meet with the doctors again tomorrow for a check up, and hopefully to hear that everything looks good. It feels good to finally be on the road to recovery. It has been a long time coming.

So these pictures and others can be seen on my Instagram profile. Feel free to take a look and follow if you are interested. 🙂

 

Fat…. So???

I have been home now and relatively inactive for 5 months now.  I have lived those 5 months in yoga pants and t-shirts. It was brought to my attention that I really should put on some real clothes, and then maybe get to feeling better about everything.  So we took a girls’ trip to Lane Bryant to try on jeans. I grabbed a size 18 pants, knowing that the 16 would be too small now that I had gained a whopping 30 pounds since being home. Now the size 18 pants with up and over and i could button them, but they created the most fantastic and unignorable (if thats not a word it should be) muffin-top I have ever seen in all of my days. So I did what any level headed and rational female would do… I sat in my sitting room and cried.  My mother and Aunt came in to give me a pep talk, and what was said really made sense to me…. Its just a number. Who cares? It didn’t have to define how I felt about myself. So I picked myself up, went and got a pair of jeans a size bigger and prayed that the would fit correctly. They did and they are comfortable! I complemented my new jeans with a pretty camisole and sweater and left the store feeling pretty good about how I looked and the new size 20 outfit that I just got.

This will bring me to a little pep talk to all the ladies out there who have things they hate about their bodies. They are just things… They do not define you. The imperfections are what makes us who we are. I have wanted to lose weight for so many years. I have lost and gained back over and over again, and my overall underlying motif was the same each time I lost…. I wanted to look good so that some guy would think I was worthy for him to be with. And anyone can tell you that is the wrong reason to lose weight or go on any type of diet.  The decision to change something about yourself be it your hair, weight, breast size, etc has to come from a pure place within yourself, or you will never be satisfied with those changes and who you are. We women can look beautiful no matter what flaws we think we have… and if they are that noticeable to you, I can guarantee there are ways to hide them without going to extremes.  For example… I carry a spare-tire around my stomach… its not flattering at all and I am very self conscious in everything that I wear that it can be seen. Solution…. Don’t go out and buy low rise pants! I now know to buy pants that sit at my natural waist… and hell if I have to I will wear them a little higher than that… and make sure that I get the tall length so it doesn’t look like I am Steve Urkle’s relative.  The other tip I can give you is this… and listen carefully! I do not care what Old Navy and the Backstreet Boys try to tell you…. Skinny Jeans are NOT for everybody!  If you take nothing else away from this, remember that!

Moving away from the big girl talk…. I had an outing this Sunday with my mother. Apparently there is a Fresh Market the first Sunday of every month in Hyde Park, Tampa, Florida, so we decided to go and see what it was all about. It was totally awesome. I had such a good time. I went decked out in my new outfit! There were good vendors everywhere! I got fresh baked rosemary bread, I met a man who carves all of his jewelry by hand made from wood and ivory. I had old fashioned strawberry lemonade that was out of this world, and a gourmet grilled cheese sandwich with red pears, almonds, and goat cheese that was to DIE for. It was a bit on the hot side, but this man who was an absolute genius was selling ice cold coconuts that he drilled a hole into the top of and stuck a straw in… Happy delicious drinking for everyone. It was totally worth the 10 minutes I waited in line. It was a fabulous day, and I cannot wait until next month to go again.

My back surgery is in 2 weeks as long as everything stays on track, and I am really looking forward to being pain free and getting back on the right track to life. Until then, I am just taking one day at a time and remaining size 20 and fabulous!.

The God Seuss

So a few things have happened since my last post….  The first being that I have finally be approved the appropriate number of times by the Department of Labor to have my surgery (Don’t ask me what number approval we are one now). YAY! So that is scheduled for October 22nd. In the mean time I have to be sure to get all of my pre-operative testing done, like blood work, Chest X-Rays, and EKG. FUN! And…. the rumor is that I will need to sit through a session and class with the anesthesiologist…. What I will learn I am not quite sure.. I have the basics down… don’t  eat after midnight the night before your surgery because you will barf, they re gonna stick a needle in my arm and I will proceed to fall asleep in mid sentence and then wake up drooling on myself after my surgery is over. What else do I need to know!? I guess I will find out.

I also have started a new blog. This one is for my crafting endeavors. Lets hope that I do enough crafts to post about. I have a knitting post up now and a product review.  You can view the blog here. Also please feel free to follow it and tell EVERYONE you know.. That’s right, I am not above shameful self promotion.

Speaking of promotion! I decided to buy my brother-in-law a birch box. If you don’t know what this is, it is a box of product samples. Higher end samples. (I will do a review on mine when /if it ever gets here.) They have made one for Men too! So I told him that he had a do a review on what he got. The box had to of been filled with the most inappropriate items for a sister-in-law to get.  You can read this hilarious post entitled “Best Underwear EVA” here. (No joke, I almost peed myself).

Moving on… I have been a bit stressed out lately. Just a lot of going stir crazy and not really knowing where life is gonna lead me after this surgery happens. I can try to reapply to Peace Corps. There is no guarantee that I would be allowed to go back in, but there is a part of me that feels like my traveling days aren’t over yet. My best friend also threw out the option of having some place to stay in Chicago if I wanted to start over and look for a job up there. That is a very good option too, and one I would be forever grateful for. So this is where I am at! Where do I go? What is the better option? Is it time to stop traveling and finally set down roots here in the States? Get a “real person” job and maybe find someone who wants to put up with my emotional butt on a permanent basis? Or should I try again to see parts of the world I thought never to go to? AAAAAHHHHH!

SO the stress! My Goodness the stress. My brain just goes in a circle and its a bit overwhelming.  Then I learned something. DR. Seuss helps stress! No joke. So I was just on the verge of pulling out all of my nappy head snarls when my mother suggested we watch the LORAX. I have been wanting to watch it for a long time, and hadn’t gotten the chance while I was in Indonesia…. (imagine that). It was like I was a little kid again transported into a magical land. The colors in the moving were AMAZING and I was instantly drawn in. I laughed AND I cried. It was soooo GOOD.  A few days later I was walking through the store and I saw Dr. Seuss pajama pants! ON SALE! Well how could I not get them with all of their magical healing qualities that I knew they possessed. So I bought them, went home, put them on, and….. thats right, I watched the Lorax again. And it was sooo much better as I wore my new Yertle the Turtle pajama pants!  I started to feel myself unwind and laugh. Dr. Seuss is some form of Emotional Goodness God!

I still have a huge decision to make, and a lot of emotional wanderings to sift though, but I am feeling so much better and calmer thanks to Dr. Seuss and The Lorax.   If you have not seen this movie (Whether you have children or not) I will definitely say go out and get it or rent it from iTunes or the Google Play store. It is worth your time.