Monday, April 23, 2012

The Vacation Nazi strikes again...

Next year (2013) my husbands family is having their big family reunion. We will be in the Moab, UT area, which is abundant in scenery, canyons, desert and some of the most breathtaking rock formations in the world.
Hubby and I decided it would be the perfect opportunity to see all there is to see in this magnificent part of the country, so we decided to plan out a basic itinerary.(when I say we , I really mean ME. And a basic itinerary is not my style. I will make this the biggest, baddest, kick a** trip...just like I always do).
The reunion itself is only 4 days long. However we will be flying out a week early and taking a little road trip before arriving to the festivities.(Little. Snort)

We will be flying out to Grand Junction, CO. There we will rent a car and let the adventure of a lifetime begin!!

Mesa Verde will be our first stop. I think this is a great one to start the vacation with. I have ALWAYS wanted to go to Mesa Verde. Ever since I was a kid, it has been a dream. You better believe I will be taking pictures like crazy and just going nuts.

Next stop: Four Corners National Monument.  Yes I will do the obligatory one limb in every state photo opportunity.  Silly, I know, but how many times in your life can you say you were in 4 states at ONE TIME??

Heading down through New Mexico, and into Arizona our next stop will be The Petrified Forest. My dad told me he went there 60 years ago and he STILL remembers it. I remember in 4th grade a girl in my class went to AZ and brought back a piece of petrified wood she got in the gift shop. Or so she says. Who knows, she probably stole it...

 Through Petrified and on towards Flagstaff, making stops at Walnut Canyon National monument. There are the remaining cliff dwellings of a pre-colombian cultural group called the Sinagua. They dwelled here over 1000 years ago! It is a small area to visit, a small hiking trail, will probably only take an hour or so to visit.
And then onto Oak creek Canyon  near Sedona. I LOVE SEDONA. So happy.
We will then head up to THE GRAND CANYON!!! My kids are SUPER EXCITED for this. Finny thinks he wants to take a little donkey ride down into the canyon.  I told him he was out of his mind. But lots of photo opportunities, hiking and taking in the breathtaking beauty of Gods creations...and erosion.
I havent been to the Grand Canyon since I was a teenager(It was 1990 last visit). I remember we went horseback riding and my horse was a gorgeous fawn colored horse named Buck.

We will then head up and over into Utah, making stops in Zion National Park. This is another park I havent been to since I was a teenager. We hiked down to the pools and it was SO HOT. But it was stunningly beautiful.

Then Over to Bryce Canyon(boing boing boing). I am REALLY excited about this one. I dont remember much about Bryce, we blew through it last time I visited, as we were short on time and getting off schedule.

We will then head over towards the Moab area and through Capitol reef(a "wrinkle" in the earths crust). I am trying to work in a night time star gazing program at one of the parks because there is almost no light pollution and it is a perfect place to really take in the wonders of the heavens.

then we will be Heading over towards  Dead Horse Point . They call it dead horse after a bunch of wild horses that died there.  Kind of morbid, but look at how beautiful! Dont think about the sad horses and focus on the majesty of the canyons.

Then it is on to the Reunion, where there will be time in Canyonlands
and of course Arches

I am trying to figure out a way to work in Lake Powell, possibly on the free for all day of the reunion. i want to find the place where Dr Who filmed their episode The Impossible Astronaut....but I'd be happy just to go , even if I cant find the Dr Who link.

Now I only have to wait 15 months!! That should be enough time for me to completely plan and save for everything. i am SO EXCITED!! I am sure the itinerary may change over time. especially if I can find a way to work in Canyon de Chelly in AZ.
But the Vacation nazi will be vigilant in making sure this is a family vacation that the boys NEVER forget.

I just need to make sure I get all my I's dotted and T's crossed to  pull this off successfully.

Monday, April 9, 2012

My Wallet Hurts

Man these suckers are expensive.
Peter needs these to help keep his feet straight, adds a little lift in his left leg and really helps his walking. Cerebral Palsy is a bitch sometimes.

$1200. That's what I owe. TWELVE HUNDRED DOLLARS!!!
I asked how much my insurance was covering.  I was informed that this was going towards my deductible. So great, only 28,000 more dollars until stuff is free. i HAVE to pay the 1200 before he can get them. Stupid Aetna.  Thats right Aetna, you heard me.  YOU SUCK!
But luckily the orthotics company we are working with is letting me break it up into 4 payments.  1st payment now, second upon delivery, 3rd and 4th 30 and 60 days post receipt.
So because my child absolutely needs this, I have to get it. To not get them would be irresponsible, and neglectful of his special needs.
But seriously, TWELVE HUNDRED FRICKING DOLLARS??? (but I was informed they came with a pair of tennis shoes and a special pair of socks)
We dont qualify for any sort of government assistance, he does not qualify for Disability because of our income, therefore does not qualify for Medicaid so I am stuck.
So Aetna, I pay you a S***load of money every month for insurance,yet you wont cover ANYTHING until we have hit a 30,000 out of pocket deductible.  That is why you are going to hell, and why the second I can find something better you and I are done professionally.

So son, enjoy your 1200$ pair of shoes. Your feet are not allowed to grow for another 3 years...

your mother.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

For Jackie.

I received some terrible news last week. One of my dear friends passed away.  She was my roommate in College. She was a partner in crime.  She was truly one of the best people I have ever known. I am truly devastated.

Jackie Jessen-Hamblin and I met in September 1995.  We were living in Greaves Hall Apartment style dorms at Utah State University.  We didnt know each other, she was one of the random roommates assigned to a dorm with 5 of us who knew each other from the previous year. She was a freshman(to our sophomore/jr). Her twin sister Jen was assigned to a dorm upstairs from us.
Jackie could have been nervous and anti social, but that wasnt her style. She came in confident and fun. She had a BEAUTIFUL singing voice. She and her twin Sister could sing together and it was like they were one person. The pitch, vibrato everything was the same. They could harmonize together so well. They were amazing together.
Jackie was assigned to share a room with one of our roommates, Natalie.  I was sharing a room with  Diane.  After a few months, Diane and I realized that living together was fine, but if we wanted to remain friends we should probably not share a room. Jackie wasn't especially happy rooming with natalie, (a very stressed out Pre-med student.)  We all decided it would be in our best interests to switch, and Jackie and I ended up sharing a room. Diane and Natalie did much better together and Jackie and I hit it off like crazy.

FUNNY!! She was so funny. We would laugh so hard together. I would write funny little poems for her, and her boyfriend(at the time) while he was serving a 2 year mission for the Mormon church. She always told me she hated the song Puff the Magic Dragon because it made her sad. ME TOO! So late at night when we would both be in bed, I would whisper across to her.
"Jackie?  Are you awake"
"(jackie mumbling something incoherently, presumably calling me a 4 letter word)
"Jackie?  "
(singing softly like Sheldon singing Soft Kitty) "Puffffffff the magic Dragon"
Then me ducking frantically as she threw a pillow at my head.

At one point we had a roommate issue of someone coming in and helping themselves to food that was not their own. (not pointing fingers, but you know who you were). One particular target was fresh breads, usually banana bread. (we always had intentions of eating healthy, as demonstrated by the plethora of rotting bananas in our apartment). One day I came home and the apartment smelled SOOOOO good. Someone had made banana bread. It smelled like banana bread, but there was no banana bread to be found.  All the roommates came home and everyone oohed and aahed about how good it smelled. The offending swiper no swiping roommate was trying to figure out who made it. Jackie said she needed to see me in our room, she wanted to talk to me privately.  I followed her in, wondering what the problem was.  she reached under her bed and pulled out a plate of banana bread and a tub of butter. I started laughing. She said "shhhh, they will all know its in here. Now shut up and eat!".  So we sat in our dorm room eating banana bread together. One of the roommates came and knocked on the door, and she tried to talk with bread in her mouth to answer. It was like trying to whistle with crackers.  I was laughing so hard I was crying.
One time I was sitting on the couch. She comes over with a highlighter and started to draw on my face with it. I said "What are you doing??". and She very matter of factly said "Playing connect the dots with all your freckles!".
I had a sweatshirt from the gap. It was one of those sweatshirts that was a shorter torso (for layering) but had really long sleeves. One time I was getting the sweatshirt on and before I could get my arms through the sleeves, she grabbed them and tied them behind my back like a straight jacket.
We used to call each other "Ya Sh**".(yeah we were classy).  Well i had set up her email account to where she could assign names to her email contacts and all she had to do was put their first name in the address line and it would send it to the right person.  Well after setting it up you are supposed to log out to save the settings. She didnt log out. So she put my name in the address line and the message was "Hey ya Sh**. Whats up. Meet me in our room for banana bread?"  Well there happened to be a teacher at USU whose email address was Sarah. (Students had emails that all started with SL for student login. Faculty, staff and admin all had email addresses that were their names.).  So this TEACHER with no sense of humor got the message meant for me, calling her a 4 letter word. She emailed back and told her that was unacceptable and she would report her if she continued to harass her in such a manner. Poor Jackie.  she finally learned to laugh about it down the road. We, however, didnt really learn a lesson and continued to call each other the 4 letter word. (OK Looking back, not my proudest moment, but it was a term of endearment)

After I got married and moved away, we continued to keep in touch.  after the birth and death of my daughter Jillian she was someone I could talk to and laugh with. She helped me through a lot of depression.

She met her husband at USU in 1998. They were married in 1999. I wanted to be there, but we had just moved to North Carolina and wasnt able to get out.
She and I continued to stay in contact, emailing and calling back and forth.
one time I called, and it had been awhile since we had talked.
"Jackie? This is sarah"
"So whats going on?"
"Oh you know, just putting my shoes on."
She was always quick with something funny to say.

I was one of the first people she called after the death of her daughter Brooklyn. Brooklyn was stillborn at 9 months. She called me right after it happened. I answered the phone and immediately she says "We lost her".
She had I had a good cry on the phone together. She knew I would understand what she was going through.
I hurt for her.

A few years later, a few weeks after the birth of her 3rd child,  I took the boys out to Utah to visit family. We got together for lunch and took the kids to build a bear. We laughed and chatted and had a great time. It was like we had picked up where we had left off.

We continued to stay in touch over the years.
Over the past 17 years of our friendship she battled 3 bouts of an aggressive cancer with Radiation and Chemo and Surgery. Her second bout was made more difficult by a stroke that left her without her speech. She had to learn to talk all over again. It took her a lot longer to type and think about what she wanted to say than before, but I understood.
This third round was just too much. I knew she was sick, but never realized just how sick she was. A few weeks ago I emailed her and said "Hey will will be out in utah next year for a family reunion, would love to see you". She replied that she was going through chemo and radiation and would need to have surgery afterwards"  . That was just a few weeks before she passed away. I wished her a happy birthday on her facebook wall. Then I saw a post from her twin sister that they were at the hospital waiting to See Jackie and that she was really struggling.  A few days later the message came that Jackie had passed away.  She was 35 years old.
She leaves behind a sweet husband, a 10 year old son and a 6 year old daughter. Her daughter Brooklyn would be 8.
I am just so sad for them, but I know that she and her husband and family will be together again in the next life. I know that THEIR faith will help sustain them in the hard times ahead. I know that Jackie was a great wife, mother and friend. She lived a great life and I cant wait to see my sweet friend again someday after I have lived my time here on earth.

her family has set up a fund for The Hamblins. This will help with her medical expenses, final burial expenses and help with costs for the kids.
100% will go to her husband and kids.

Jackie, if you have internet up in heaven, you know I love you and will always miss you.  You were one of my favorite people ever and I am simply devastated by your passing. The world seems a little less bright with you gone. Always remember that Puff the Magic Dragon loves you.