Friday, January 11, 2013

Ending Last Year and Starting the New Year Out Right :-)

                                                                Happy New Year!!!

I am very excited to start this New Year.  I'm starting the year with no treatments or surgeries scheduled.  Yee haw!  I had appointments with my favorite surgeon and my favorite oncologist right before Christmas and both said I was doing fabulously.  My blood work is status quo.  My hemoglobin and white blood cell counts were low and my liver enzymes were slightly elevated but nothing out of the ordinary.  My tumor marker was great as well.  

Dr. C says that I don’t have to wear my compression sleeve everyday anymore, just every other day.  That is, unless I start noticing more swelling than normal.  Dr. B told me that the reduced sensation in my fingertips (and arm as I discovered when I burned myself) still might get better in the next twelve months.  I have to go back to see the both at the end of February/early March and then I’m down to seeing them every four months for a couple of years.  I'm back to my same old busy life and for that, I’m thankful.  :-)

The lead-up to the New Year was even more busy than usual, so I apologize for the tardiness of this report.  In addition to getting ready for Christmas, we made the decision in the summer to go to Colorado for Christmas.  It gave us a perfect excuse to go see Lynn, Al, and the kids as well as give our kids their first taste of skiing.  Joe and I have been wanting to take them skiing for several years, but that plan had to take a backseat for a bit while we went on a little cancer adventure instead.

Joe Skier
This year was the perfect year to give it a whirl.  There was much packing and planning to be done to get a family of five cross-country for a vacation that involved not just presents, but snow gear as well.  I had been scouring websites for months looking for good deals on snow pants, boots, gloves, goggles and the like.  By the beginning of December, I had the kids’ and my gear squared away.  I wasn’t worried about Joe since Joe was "Joe Skier" back in the day.  Yeah.  That was not a good plan. 

Days before we were to leave, Joe and I had this conversation:

Me: Are you sure you don’t need anything?  Gloves?  Snow pants?  Long underwear?
            Joe: Well, maybe some snow pants?

Thankfully, I had a bit of time and was able to run to the sporting goods store in town where they, thankfully, had suitable snow pants on sale.  Nothing like waiting until the last minute, Joe.

After packing up the car almost to the gills and one of those clamshell do-hickies that you put on the top of your car, and thanks to some wonderfully accommodating teachers at Michelle’s middle school, the kids were all suddenly “ill” on the last day of school before break and we were OFF!   Actually, Josie was ill, well, carsick anyway.  The Puking Princess/Barfing Beauty gets carsick if we wake her up too early and put her in the car on an empty stomach.  Even if we feed her as we’re pulling out of the driveway, it’s a crapshoot.  This time, we lost.  Yet again, it was a perfect example of why children need two parental figures in their lives.  ;-)  In my defense, she had the same reaction not even two weeks prior and accidentally dumped the contents of the barf bucket in my car.    

Topeka, KS 
The day did get better as we drove north and then west.  Thank goodness the kids are such good travelers!  The first day we did a marathon-driving day of sixteen hours in order to avoid driving in that really bad storm that moved from the Pacific Northwest across the plains states the week before Christmas.  We made it all the way to Topeka, which the kids thought was really funny to say.  Apparently, they have some chorus warm-up that involves saying “Topeka”.  Kansas, we discovered, is a VERY LONG, FLAT and WINDY state!  

The next morning, we drove from Topeka to Colorado Springs through the aftermath of the storm.  It was still very windy and icy.  Joe refused to let me drive through the worst of it.  Not that I grew up in Wisconsin and drove back and forth to college in the occasional blizzard or even whiteout.  Part of me wanted to “prove myself” that I could still do it, but part of me was happy to just play passenger.

GPS is a grand invention, however, we need to change some of the settings or at least change where we put it so that the backseat drivers can’t see it.  Instead of the “Are we there yet?” comments of old, we got the “We’re gonna be there in six hours!”  Never mind that we had to stop for potty breaks, driver changes or food and gas.  While we didn’t get the “Are we there yet?” we did get the “When are we gonna see the mountains?”  Did I mention that Kansas is very long and flat?  Of course, when the mountains did come into view, everyone was asleep, even Joe.

Mic was the first to wake up when I announced that the
mountains were visible.  She wasn't excited.  Nope.
The "experts"
The "not-quite-ready-for-
primetime" skiers
Our time in Colorado was delightful!  The Setos were excellent hosts and we all fell back into our old routines.  We spent two days near Breckenridge skiing at Loveland.  All the kids, Al and I spent the first day in ski school (Al and I only had a half-day.).  Joe and Lynn being very seasoned skiers went and did some more challenging slopes. 

It had been almost twenty years since I’d been on skis, so I was crazy nervous!  They initially put Al and me in the same class, but after seeing my speed demon with my fly/ski by the seat of my pants tendencies of old, they prudently split us up.  By the end of the day, I was feeling much less nervous, but still said a little prayer each time I took off that I not injure myself – I had another half-marathon in mid-January that I needed to be healthy for. 
Team Matchette
Team Seto
Jamie had some trouble with the altitude on the first day, so he sat out for a bit and all day the next day.  Despite that, he did well, but was a bit cautious.  Joe took him down several times which really helped (and I got some wonderful pix of the two of them).  Nathan was just happy to hang out with Jamie, so he also sat out on the second day.  Joe, like Jamie, had some trouble with a virus/altitude the second day, which knocked him on his butt.  Since Joe was pretty much out of commission, Al watched the boys and was our photog during our Girls-Only ski day. 

Mic on the second day.  She wasn't
too sure about the poles.
Fast and furious down the slopes
Joe guiding Jamie down
the slope
The girls had a much better time overall.  Chloe wasn’t too sure initially, but by the end of the first day she was hooked.  Josie and Michelle LOVED it!  Michelle, like Joe, took to it very naturally.  Josie was like me – balls to the wall, skiing as fast as she could down the slopes.  By the second day though, she did gain some control.

Our Girls-Only Day was a blast!  The girls went to ski school and then we were going to meet up at lunchtime for some group skiing.  Lynn skied a few runs with me and showed me some good drills to practice.  Then, I told her to go have fun.  I was perfectly content to spend the morning practicing by myself.  I just felt so badly for Joe; he really enjoys skiing, but it’s poor form to barf on the slopes. 

Four of my favorite girls sharing a
Lynn showing off her mad ski skills
Not a spa day for these
girls - a SKI day   

It was overcast and chilly when we started.  The weather got progressively worse as the morning wore on.  It got very windy, cold and snowy, and with it, visibility deteriorated.  
Despite the cold, I loved it!  I would have skied all day, but the girls were cold and tired, and Lynn had face-planted on a black diamond run so she was a bit banged up.  So, home we went.  Gotta love the mountains.   We drove not even a half of an hour away from the ski lodge and the weather was beautiful.

This is how we ended the day - with glowing complexions
from the cold, wind and snow.
Christmas and the remainder of our stay were grand!  Christmas Eve Mass at the Air Force Academy Chapel was a treat.  The priest even quoted Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas during his homily.  We went out for our traditional Christmas Eve dinner at a Chinese restaurant.  When we went into the restaurant, it was barely snowing, but as we left, the snow was definitely coming down.
AFA Chapel in the falling snow on Christmas Eve.

Hinshaw kids' Christmas
The kids woke up to a white Christmas, something that I’ve always wanted them to experience.  While we had to kick the kids out of the house, once we did, there was much laughter, snowball fighting and a valiant attempt by Michelle and me to go sledding down the street, literally. 

3...2...1... FIRE!  The kids had an epic snowball fight!
I love the crispness in the air of snow and how the snow sounds different, depending on what type of snow it is.  I love new fallen snow, how it sparkles how it looks when the wind layers it.  The snow was much drier and powdery than the snow I remember from Wisconsin.  Is that possible? 

A friendly face at the zoo
Glorious Pike's Peak
After Christmas, we did many of the touristy things in C-Springs – Cheyenne Zoo, ice-skating, microbrewery for lunch and Garden of the Gods.  All too soon, our visit was over and we were back on the road.  We were thankful that we got to spend such a wonderful visit with the cousins!  And, as we traveled back to Georgia, sadly leaving the snow and cousins behind, we were already trying to figure out when to go out again.  Still, it was time to go home.  We had visitors of our own coming and a very special someone waiting for us....  

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