Wednesday, June 10, 2009


I realized that I never posted pictures of el scar, and now you have seen... well you have seen it all through the Disney World pics! So here are the pictures so far.

The night before surgery. One last look at the boys from the outside:

I'd like to post a few directly post surgery because it shows a few sweet friends who dropped by. Beware, this is a post-op picture...just a heads up. The picture isn't bad, but I don't know, maybe some of you weirdos are sensitive to medical stuff. L-R: Suzanne, me, Joanne (Army friends! Joanne brought me the boa, silver platter, balloon, and some flowers. Yes, that is Jello on the tray :) and Suzanne brought an awesome Gerber Daisey plant that my sweet Da planted when we got home and is still blooming its little head off! Thanks ladies!)

I don't seem to have pictures of the healing process... but you should be happy about that. In the above you can see where they stapled the dressings to me, and the tape is over the actual incision.

Here I am today:

No lumps! No cysts that look like an Adam's apple! What what y'all!

And yes, that is the new, shorter, lighter Claire hair! Minus 5 inches all told!
I think it suits the scar too, kind of frames it, hehe.

So what now? What can I expect? Well probably a few months worth of adjusting meds- I got back in June 22nd to see how my tsh levels are. I've been pretty tired and had a few other things going on that I'm hoping are tied to imperfect levels, but we'll see. I can expect shooting pain, dull aches, and other sensations over the next few months as the nerves come back- so far more dull aches than shooting pains, thankfully.

And I guess it will get more red for the next few months... tomorrow I'm 5 weeks post-op. At 6 months, it will be its reddest, but at 1 yr, it'll be sluth. I had my mom send me a bunch of scars so I could cover it, but I really haven't felt the need. Hopefully it doesn't freak people out... I have noticed people see it, and notice it, but none (as of yet) have shriveled back in fear, so ya know. It is so very small, I cannot complain one bit.

Anyway, not that you actually wanted to know, but I decided I'd force feed you my progress. Take it! Take it all!!!

Monday, June 08, 2009

The 700 Club.

Not THAT 700 Club, the this-is-my-700th-blog-post-club!

Happy 700th blog post day, blog!

Thanks for reading!

The Skinny.

Thanks to Laura, I get free books from Navpress, read them, write a review of them on my blog and two other websites, and then get another free book! Here is the first book I received and just read a few days ago. This is a teen book, and was a fun dip into teenlit.

Skinny by Laura L. Smith is a sweet look at the issue of teen eating disorders. The story establishes all the predicable (and real) pressures of teen life: extra-curricular activities, homework, friendships, dating relationships, and body image amidst it all. While the main character, Melissa, is a saccharine and dramatic lead, she is a useful tool to help the author explore how otherwise stable and independent teens slip into damaging eating habits. The Christian imprint on Melissa’s life seems fairly accurate—she relies on prayer and reading her Bible, but is still figuring out what her faith means and how it applies to real-life issues like body image. Though the conflict of moral pressure seems fairly absent from the book since all of Melissa’s friends, family, and even alluring southern boyfriend are also churchgoers, the setting feels genuine. Smith deals thoughtfully with the pressures of Melissa’s life, and smartly creates a disorder that is not as extreme or obvious as bulimia or anorexia. For young women who struggle with eating and body image, or whose friends do, this story will give them hope, and perhaps help them identify unhealthy habits. Skinny works for what it is—a simple, imperfect, but lovable approach to a sensitive issue.

Thanks Navpress!

Thursday, June 04, 2009

She's Kind of a Big Deal.

So, I feel a little gushy this morning... forgive me in advance.

My Melissa friend has always been extremely skilled at finding, appreciating, and creating visual brilliance. Whether this manifested itself in her fabulous wardrobe, her love of fashion and interior design, the way she decorates, her signature, or even her earliest blogs (yes folks, I guarantee you Melissa has been blogging longer than any of us... anyone!?), Mel has an eye for the beautiful.

Knowing this, it is only fitting that she is not only pursuing, but succeeding, in the world of photography. I know Melissa has loved photography for a LONG time. Thanks to her, Davina Fear was brought to my attention and contracted for my wedding.

Well anyway, I'm just babbling. The point is, Melissa loves photography. With a full time job, a husband just recently graduated from Law school, and a crazy little lab pupster, she has been working her butt off to learn more about her camera, editing, etc etc. This is paying off, and I'm really enjoying the fruits of her labor.

If you'd like to enjoy her skill and growth, definitely check out her website! She has been doing photo shoots and is starting to do weddings too! You've probably visited her blog, but now she has a photography blog AND her own website which is simply stunning.

You can see her growth ALREADY from shoot to shoot. She started great, so the fact that she is shooting more means she's skyrocketing to fantasticalness! And, no big deal, but she just signed on as a photographer at a MAJOR Minneapolis photography business! What what! That's my girl!

Alright, enough. Just go look! Feast your eyes on Melissa's gifts!

Monday, June 01, 2009

Disney World!!!

And... we're back!

Here we are! We arrived early Monday morning, Disney took care of our checked bags, and so we headed straight to the parks! Here we are at the shuttle stop.

We headed right to Disney's Hollywood Studios to the Star Tours
ride. We walked right on, no lines! Matthew got a picture of C3PO:

On the way in to the ride we saw this little show- it turns out we were there
during "Star Wars Weekends" and caught the end of it Monday, and then saw more of it
when we went back on Friday. How perfect for my Star Wars lovin' geek!

I LOVE this picture. Here Matthew is (after waiting for 2 other 8 yr olds to get their
picture on it) on a speeder bike.

Here is the Tower of Terror.
We LOVED this, rode it 3 or 4 times over the course of the week.

The new installment at the Hollywood Studios is the American Idol Experience.
This consists of an actual replication of the show with contestants, audience voting, everything.
Originally we weren't really interested in going to it, but when Kris Allen showed up to the park on Friday we thought we'd give it a try. Here I am Monday posing in front of the idol background.
Pretty much every afternoon between 3-5 it was a total downpour.
We got suckered and bought Disney Panchos the first day- here is a terrible pic of us
after a drenching in the rain while we waited for the bus stop.

Tuesday morning we woke early for our "extra magic hours" since we stayed on a Disney property. Here's the picture as we entered.

Holy crap, we're in the Magic Kingdom!

The Castle!

The Haunted Mansion.

Pirates. They've added Davy Jones, Captain Barbosa,
and extremely good Captain Jack Sparrow into the ride.

Matthew's favorite ride in the Kingdom is Splash Mountain.
We did this 3 times (only once the first day).

I wore this hat the second day- trying to make shade for the face and the scar (along with 85spf sunscreen and at least one reapplication during the day, fear not). I swear this is the only point at which I wore it THIS way... (not sure what was going on here)

Tuesday night we went to the Downtown Disney area and had dinner at an Irish Pub called Raglan Road. We had great good, the live music was FABULOUS, and there was even an irish dancer (Matt was in heaven).

Oh, and of course Car Bombs, and plenty of Guinness on tap :)

Matthew had Shepherd Pie- it was AMAZING- it was chicken and mushroom, and wow.
Don't worry, those greens didn't go to waste... I ated ems up.

Fish and chips. Can't go wrong.

Matthew. Lookin a little freaky.

The Dancer! She was up on a table that was about 5 ft in the air in the middle of the restaurant- so cool! And she was GREAT.
All you really need is a nice voice, an acoustic guitar, and a fiddle.

On Wednesday we hopped over to Universal's Islands of Adventure and straight up Universal Studios. We were there at an off time so we were able to do all the stuff we wanted in about 6 hours- in BOTH parks. SO fun!

Here I am with my pal (and the star of one of my only recurring childhood nightmares) Wolverine.
Run Matthew Run! It's a T Rex!

Matthew turned into a little boy with things like this- nerdy film stuff, to be exact. He was astounded at how exact the replication of the Jurassic Park gates and welcome center were.

Islands of Adventure is a great park, and it centers around this lagoon. Behind us you see "The Hulk" roller coaster- that is a FABULOUS ride! You basically get on and then get shot straight out of a dark tunnel, and immediately upon exit twist and dive... and then shoot about in crazy directions, upside down, etc etc.

This is for you Ashley! We saw this sign saying that Harry Potter world is coming to the park, and had to take a picture!

Here is the Jurassic Park center from the other side of the lagoon.

Up close and personal-like with the hulk. To the left is the entrance you come out of at the beginning and you can see the twist from there. Clearly, we are kind of roller coaster nerds, so sorry if you're not interested :) We had fun.

The thing we were most excited was the T2 attraction. This is the last time Arnold and James Cameron were together for filming, and it was lovely to see my favorite friend Arnold in his best role again. We were nerdily excited, and the attraction lived up to our hopes.

Us in our sweet 3D glasses.

We also went over to the Simpson's rides.
Here is the Kwik E Mart.

The entrance to the ride.

I usually get fairly sick on motion rides, but Matthew had heard how new and exciting this ride's technology was. In fact, it was so new and so exciting, we both got sick! We couldn't bare to ride anything else hardly! It looked like it was neat for the first 8 seconds I had my eyes open, but after that I was eyes closed. I'm pretty sure the other 6 people who were on the ride felt bad too... so if you go and are even remotely prone to motion sickness, beware! (and note: Matthew is NOT normally affected!)

Here is ol' Jaws.

So Wednesday night we took ourselves to a fancy schmancy dinner. We at at Victoria and Albert's. This restaurant is in the Grand Floridian Restort and the meal consists of a 6 course tasting menu with the option to do wine pairings as well. We went all out! It was easily the most expensive meal we've ever experienced, and it was absolutely fabulous! It was so fun to splurge, and it was certainly a 3 hour affair. I'll blog separately about this and include a detailed menu so your mouth can water and you can picture what we ate! FABULOUS! We got to see our first proposal here, at the table next to us. I just happened to be during the best dish I've ever had in my life, about which I will elaborate at another time.

They gave us personalized menus that we were able to keep so we could remember the meal and also gave me a rose at the end of the evening.

Thursday we headed back to the Animal Kingdom and took a safari! It was fun to see a bunch of animals. Here some alligators.


African Elephant.

We saw sleeping lions, leopards, and other crazy animals. It was fun. We also enjoyed "Expedition Everest" the ride-- a GREAT roller coaster! (Everest is behind me below)

The lady who cleaned our room created different towel decorations every day. The first day was a mickey head, and after our fancy dinner she made this design:

The first time Matthew went to Epcot (at 5 yrs old) he found it to be the most boring place on Earth. He remembers it raining, being bitten by ants, and being disappointed by the park itself. So getting him to Epcot took some doing, but like most things in his life (ex: any given food he hated as a child), once he tried it, he realized it was cool!

We had a few GREAT meals at Epcot, and they were all included on our Disney Dining plan. And by the way, that plan was a STEAL, so if you're going, talk to me about it because we saved money like WHOA.

As it happened, when we got to Epcot, it was raining.

The Garden Show was on at Epcot and the Gardeners had created all the characters throughout the park, they were lovely!

Snow White:


Matthew and his faves, Belle and Beast.

Me and Mine, Aurora and Phillip.

Lady and the Tramp were in Italy. We also had a great meal at the restaurant in Italy.

Looking back around the world.

In England they had a Twinings Tea Garden, it was so cool! They had the different kind of teas all around, so fun to see what the tea leaves look like before they are dried and turned into deliciousness!

As it did every night, there was a downpour as we finished dinner. We sought cover and decided to take a picture with the fountains behind us while we waited for the deluge to let up a bit.

Friday was pretty fabulous. We had done all our "Must do's" by the end of Wednesday so Thurs and Friday gave us time to go back and do the highlights again, and catch some other things on our list. It just so happened that Kris Allen (woot!) was at Disney's Hollywood Studios on Friday! We had gotten wind of this earlier in the week, and thanks to my dearest Melissa were able to get the scoop on time and place. Here are a few pics from our first encounter: (after he had come in on a motorcade with Mickey)

They did some interviewing and questions with him first.
Then he played. We were thinking how handy it is that he plays guitar- must make it easy for his appearances since they don't have to pipe in music or set up a full band. He sounded GREAT.

We were worried he'd have to sing the awfulness that is "No Boundaries" but were pleasantly surprised to hear him announce he'd play "Heartless."

It also happened that it was Star Wars Weekend on Friday, so not only did we get to spot Kris, but we also saw the original actor who played Chewbacca, Peter Mayhew.

Matt really enjoyed seeing all the little guys dressed up in their Star Wars gear. He couldn't help but take pictures-- I think in anticipation of someday having his own little Jedi to photograph.

Storm Trooper Donald (that is not us in the pic- didn't want to stand in line).

Ewok sighting!

After wandering around and hitting up the Tower of Terror one last time, we stumbled upon the American Idol Exprience just as it was starting. We hopped in line and were able to get in!

And whaddaya know, but Kris Allen was there! He gave the singers advice and then read the results of the audience voting at the end. He was surprisingly funny too, which was fun to discover.

After that, we left the park. On the way out we caught the Star Wars Weekend Motorcade which was complete with Jedi Mickey, Leia Minnie, Vader Goofey, Stormtrooper Donald, and many more.

And then there were a bunch o stormtroopers.

For lunch that day we headed back to Epcot. Since we arrived early we went to the Maelstrom ride in Norway. It was cool, and Matt especially like the guy you see dead center, just loved his beard I guess. So here's a picture of the two of them, hehe.

After lunch we headed to the Magic Kingdom and caught the "Dreams Come True" parade. It followed us as we made our way to Splash Mountain and a few other rides, so we heard the song that accompanied it about 20 times... "Celebrate your dreams come true...."

After cleaning up a bit at the hotel we headed back to the Magic Kingdom for dinner and more rides and fun.

After a few rides we rallied for the "Wishes" fireworks show in front of the Castle.

We happily saw our second proposal (it was accepted!) there too!

The whole park was so pretty at night.

We had a wonderful time and can't wait to go back!

Hooray Disney World! Thank you Matthew for a wonderful Vacation!