Monday, September 02, 2013

A Little Scare ...

I know, I know ... no blogs in forever!  I do have a good reason ... I did start my Masters program in Social Work September 2012 and it has been BUSY!  That combined with working full time ... oh my, what was I thinking??  Nevertheless, I've started, have 1 year completed, and beginning year 2.

So what have I been doing since this time last year?  Working, studying, working, life, working, studying, travelling, working, life, studying ... AND .... working!

My life is pretty much revolving around working, and I'm not liking that.  It seems we are either at work or at home sleeping!  I'm trying to figure out a new path for us ... not quite sure what that is right now ... but hopefully I will figure it out soon!

Other than working, we did take our 3rd cruise in April 2013!  It was a great 8 days on the water and another 7 days in Florida ... Disney, pool and shopping all included!  A fantastic time all around.  Now it's preparing and gearing up for 2014!!  

So what about this little scare ... since January 2013, my lung functions have been going down little by little.  Nothing noticeable until the transplant clinic went back and took a look at the overall trend ... from 94% down to 83% ... that's a huge drop even though it was over a long period of time.  So here I am, at clinic, with them asking me when there is a good time to visit Toronto again??!!  WHAT!!??  It can't be rejection.  But all the signs point to it.  Five years in and this??

That was on a Friday ... August 23, 2013.  I vowed that this would not be my time to face transplant again ... so I joined the gym on Monday.  By Friday, August 30, 2013, I had worked by butt off ... and low and behold, my lung function test that morning showed it!  Back up to 93%!!!  YAY ME!!

Here's to exercising and getting my life back on track.  We often think that the 'bad things' can't or won't happen to us, until we are faced with it again.  I know my life is a million times better now; however I still have to realize this is not forever, and I need to keep working at ME!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

One Beautiful Summer ... thus far

Slack again on the blogging ... yes I know ;).

With that being said, since May of this year, we've been having one fantastic summer!  Nothing at all compared to last year.  We joked last year we had Junuary and Fogest for June and August ... July 2011 was just ok ... now this year we've been having beautiful weather, hot temperatures, and just an all around perfect summer!

Well ... except for us working all the time ... haha!  Yes, I know it's something that has to be done; however it would be fantastic to be a teacher just about now :)!  We haven't had much time ... well, no time, to relax or just get away.  With both of us working all the time, and conflicting schedules, we haven't had a chance to do any travelling around the province.  I know ... every year we always say we are going to do something, but it just doesn't seem to happen.  Alas, someday ... :)!

As much as I LOVE summer, everything seems to be so unorganized and off track.  Eating, exercising, just about everything is all out of whack ... but with Fall coming, there are lots of changes ...

September begins a new journey with my Masters degree in Social Work, a new exercise program, and more planning for our upcoming Cruise in April 2013!!!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Not-So-Happy Mother's Day

Dear Mom,

It's our special time of year again.  Happy Mother's Day!  xoxo

I thought that each passing year would get a little easier, but not so.  It seems the longer you're gone, the more I long for you to be here.  Mother's Day was always a special time of year ... and one that you loved dearly.  We would shower you in gifts ... but you would still cook your infamous Sunday Dinner, no matter how hard we tried to get you away from the stove ;)!

I know you've been with me since 2006 in spirit, after all, I would not have made it through my transplant and continued good health without your strength and spirit being with me all the way.  I understand it was your time; however I still question why ... a question I won't yet find the answer to.  You know I don't usually question "why", but you leaving us does require an answer, I'm sure ... but alas, I will wait.

As you know, this past year has been rocky to say the least.  Health-wise I've been fabulous ... and life-wise we were able to cruise again :)!  But everything else ... well, it's gone to shit.  I find it funny sometimes how people will say "don't sweat the small stuff" ... but when you can't see your way out of the dark, it does get a little scary!!  I try to tell myself that everything will work itself out ... but I seem to be spinning my wheels over and over ...

Not a day goes by that I don't think about you and miss you terribly.  There have been lots of things I've done since 2006 that I would have loved for you to be next to me to celebrate and experience ... but I do know you are with me.

Happy Mother's Day Mom!  xoxo

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Let's Eat Cupcakes!

Today was a mixed bag of emotions.  Starting with the insomnia (again) throughout last night, then waking to find that a dear teacher and one of my hometown residents has suddenly passed away, was pretty rough to deal with at 6:00 am!  On top of that, I had to head into town to have my monthly blood work and PFT completed ... by 8:00 am.  With a hour drive ahead of me, I started out on my journey with a heavy heart ... and ... really tired.

Luckily, my regular blood collection "depot" knows who I am and what I'm there for.  So just a quick reminder that my blood work is timed, and needs to be taken between 8:00 and 8:30 am, I'm in and out within 15 minutes (now that's service)!! 

So off I head to my lung function test at 9:00 am.  Since I find it so difficult to arrange tests at my local hospital, my CF clinic in town has generously arranged to have my tests completed at the Janeway Child's Health and Rehabilitation Centre.  Yes, I know it's a children's hospital, however they have agreed to do the tests and I'm thankful for no wait times!  Boy, am I getting spoiled!

Normally, my PFTs (lung function tests) have been between 85 and 92% ... just absolutely fabulous.  They've been this way for the past 4 years ... just hovering around those numbers.  I wasn't expecting anything more or less today, and I've been feeling exactly the same ... perfectly fine :).

So I get weighted and measured, and sit in the little glass box.  Plug my nose, and get ready for the test.  Deep breath in ... Now blow it all the way out ... Keep blowing until you can't blow anymore ... Take a deep breath in ... Done.  Nothing to it.

Only today things were a little different.  The respirologist asked me what my numbers had been last time ... and to be honest, as much as I try and burn these things into my head, I just could not remember.  She kindly looked up the last results and proceeds to tell me they were 84%.  Perfect.  However, she continues on to say that today's results are at 100%!!!  WHAT!!  I've always aimed to reach that magical number; however with being between 82 and 92%, I figured that was my new levels.  Not that there's anything wrong with them ...

So I proceed to ask her to repeat herself ... and again she tells me they are 100%!!  I'm giggling like a little girl at this point.  We then start discussing my transplant and what my numbers were pre-transplant.  I informed her that when I was initially assessed, I was at 25%; however I stayed at this level for almost 10 years!  But in November 2007, I became ill, ended up on oxygen, and subsequently whisked off to Toronto.  At the time of my transplant, I had dropped to 13% ... so 100% was pretty freakin' awesome!

So on I went to the second try ... and low and behold ... 102%!!!  HOLY CRAP!!  Finally the third try I was again at 102%, so I knew at this point there was no mistaking the test.  I skipped out of the hospital, giggling all the way.

When I got back to my car and made the call to hubby, it again struck me, the sadness that I had learned about earlier this morning.  So here I am, sitting in my car, crying, both in sadness and joyful bliss, and not knowing what to do with myself.

At 9:30 am, very few stores were open, so retail therapy was out of the question.  My favorite Chinese restaurant, Song Hee's wasn't open yet.  But I NEEDED something.  And something GOOD.  I remembered a friend of mine who had posted to Facebook about a fabulous little cafe in town ... so off I went in search of said cafe!

I ultimately found Sugar Mamas!  Now, I knew this place was special; however I didn't really know what I was walking into.  As I entered the store, I was struck with a beautiful little 50's style cafe/diner ... and CUPCAKES!!

After I pondered over what 6 I wanted to taste, I finally made the decision, and headed back home.  Sitting in the car, I really didn't know what to do with myself ... still shaking from the excitement of my 102% and teary-eyed with the loss of a dear teacher ... I thought of crying, screaming, laughing, hitting something ... but in the end, I decided to ... just eat cupcakes :)!

Mama Drama, Give me M'oreo, Say Cheese (my fave), Black and White, Half Baked, Mars

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Change, It's a Wonderful Thing

I'm not really sure why I did not pursue a career in the IT field ... oh wait, now I remember.  Although I love computers, learning new programs and even testing out the waters of HTML, I become VERY frustrated with the whole thing.

As you can see, I've change up my blog ... AGAIN!  I enjoy changing things up (in all parts of my life) and my blog is, well, about the easiest and quickest thing I can change on a whim.

In any case, I've been quite slack on keeping my blog updated.  I do have a few posts to upload ... particularly from our past vacation!

Also, my friend has played a part in renewing my blogging ... as he is a new blogger, please check out his site at Jamie's Journey ... this is going to be one blog to watch!  Congrats Jamie on you upcoming blogging adventure :)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

366 Days

Last year sealed the deal for us in traveling and cruising in particular.  I've never been one to just sit around and "relax" too much ... I would rather be out going around, looking at the sights, taking in all a place has to offer.  Unfortunately I could not do much of that (apart from sitting in a car driving) before 2008.  Since that time, and with a little taste of traveling, I have found a new love ... traveling and exploring!

Most people vacation to relax and sit back on the beach.  Me, I would rather visit a new place and explore.  Now don't get me wrong, I do like to relax a little while on vacation ... but to be truthful, I don't really know how to relax that much :).

With that being said, and with our most recent cruise just behind us, I started to get the 'itch' to travel again (yes I know I just got back).  Not that I need to travel, but that I can and want to!  Knowing that we wanted to do another cruise, we began looking at what Carnival had to offer for this time next year.

One of my co-workers had overheard me talking about cruising next year and began asking questions about it.  2013 will be her 50th birthday, and her partner has always wanted to do a Caribbean cruise.  Me being my convincing self told her all about it ... and before long she was hooked!

Well, before the day had ended, we had booked the cruise and were going to surprise our partners with it.  Yup, booked again!  We decided on Carnival's newest ship, the Breeze ... and can wait to see what she has to offer!

Happy Cruising ... and the countdown has begun ... 366 days ...

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Crusin' With Carnival

Our fist even vacation to the sunny south happened just a year ago.  As I mentioned then, it was only at that point that I could actually travel as my health was horrible before my transplant.  As soon as we arrived home last year, we knew we were hooked on cruising, and immediately booked again for this year.  Crazy ... not really ... just very smart planning (so I keep telling myself) :)

We decided that we wanted to do something different than the Florida cruises and also wanted to see a few more places of our beautiful world ... so what better way than a 7 day Southern Caribbean cruise out of San Juan, Puerto Rico!

After waiting 371 days (from the time of booking), we were very much looking forward to this new adventure.

San Juan, Puerto Rico
March 21-24, 2012

Beautiful Casita del Coqui
We decided to fly into San Juan a few days earlier to begin our vacation.  We found a beautiful home in the Santurce area and were quite surprise when we arrived.  This quaint home was situated in the heart of the Arts & Culture District.  Most all stores, restaurants, transportation, etc. did not speak English, and it was quite interesting and refreshing to be submerged in the Puerto Rician culture!

Our host, Richard was extremely helpful to the 4 Newfie's he had visiting and provided us with a wonderful place to stay ...

Our beautiful 3rd floor balcony, with lots of vegetation and critters
Another view of our balcony

View of San Juan from our balcony.  Beautiful old world feel.

As we arrived later in the evening, we really didn't get a good look around the house or area until the next morning.  We were beyond impressed and absolutely loved the area!

Enjoying the relaxing water fountain and warm Caribbean air

Our next adventure in San Juan was to explore a little, find some great places to eat and get ourselves to the local beach!  Our host graciously took us on a short walking tour of the local area, showed us where the local transportation was and some of the fantastic sights of the Arts & Culture District. 

Us enjoying a tour of the nearby streets with our very own guide, thanks Richard!  Some very beautiful stained glass!

Just on our street corner we were told about a little cafe which served only brunch.  We couldn't really understand how a cafe could survive by just serving brunch.  We later found out that they also had jazz nights on Friday's and a family brunch on Sunday's.  Both were huge attractions to the cafe to the point that many people waited in line just to experience a little piece of this fabulous place.

Of course, us being curious, decided to try out the cafe our very first morning in San Juan ... and what a treat!!  We totally understand why people would wait in line ... I could easily live on their food FOREVER!  We started with the fantastic coffee (actually it was espresso), and let me tell you, I will never enjoy another cup of coffee as much as this!!  Then on to the main meal!!

I was so preoccupied in eating that I didn't even take a picture ... so sad :(.  But to help understand, I ordered their famous french toast.  WELL, WELL, WELL ... after 3 huge home made slices of the best bread I have ever eaten, smothered in fresh fruit and whipped cream, I had to literally roll out of the cafe!  We enjoyed it so much that we ended our stay with this fabulous meal again :)

Abracadabra Cafe!  Yum-o!
Local coffee ... I'll never enjoy another cup since leaving San Juan.  It was unbelievable!
Most of our time in San Juan was sprinkled with rain.  Although very, very warm, walking in the rain day in and day out wasn't the most fun.  But not to worry, we did do some shopping, sight-seeing, and relaxing.  Finally, the day before we were leaving for our cruise, we decided to wander off to the beach.  I found that most of our stay in San Juan involved us "wandering" around ... soooo much fun :)!

About a 15 minute walk and we found what we were looking for ... the beach!  Beautiful white sand, warm water, and a warm breeze made the day perfect!  Although a little cloudy on times, by the time were were cluing up to head home, we had a few sprinkles of rain ... and then it POURED!  Luckily there were lots of trees on the beach where we all could take shelter ... and to top it all off, we had a local selling beer!  Yes, of course we partook in the refreshments ... aaaahhhh!

Beach!  Yay, we made it!
Hubby enjoying the warm, but rough ocean ... and of course we all had a splash around.
After finding the local supermarket (in the rain) and enjoying a home cooked meal during our last night, we relaxed and geared up for the next journey of our vacation ... our cruise!

Bye, bye Casita del Coqui :(

Carnival Victory
March 25 - April 1, 2012

With us being familiar with cruising, we knew that we wanted to head to the ship as early as possible to embrace the luxury of Carnival!  We arrived at the ship around 11:30 am and had the entire day to look around, grab some food, and enjoy the boat ... all before leaving the port!  Our cruise was not scheduled to leave until 10:00 pm from San Juan.

Port of San Juan, PR
Hubby enjoying a walk around the Victory
Checking out our new home for the next 7 days!  So beautiful!
Port of San Juan, PR as we leave for the next leg of our vacation

Comedy Club and Karaoke Lounge

Red & Black Club ... can't see where they came up with that name :)

Irish Piano Bar

Cigar Bar

Dance Lounge/Club

Main Theater
Although a little smaller than the Carnival Dream (which we went on last year), everything was still just as amazing and beautiful!  If you've never been on a cruise, picture an extremely fancy hotel, with lots of glitz and glamor, sparkle and lights ... and you've got a cruise!  I'm usually walking around in awe for the first day ... just taking it all in!

The itinerary for the Carnival Victory was an extremely busy one ... visiting 5 ports in 7 days!  This was part of the reason we chose to book the Victory ... to see lots of new and exciting places.  Onward to Barbados, St. Thomas, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and St. Marteen!

St. Thomas
March 26, 2012

St. Thomas still has to be my most favorite place on earth :)!  Beautiful scenery!  We decided to do an excursion from Carnival ... and to be exact, the same excursion we did last time ... Castaway Barefoot Sail and Snorkel!  

Port of St. Thomas
There she is!  Carnival Victory!
Hubby snorkeling ... you would never say that he's not comfortable swimming :)
Some fishies
Enjoying some snorkeling at St. Thomas
... and of course, the Bushwhackers ... yum!
This is my favorite shot of St. Thomas and the Victory
The gang at Paradise Point
Towel animal tonight :)

Sea Day
March 27, 2012
As our cruise was quite busy, we took advantage of relaxing on our one and only sea day ... Serenity Deck!!

Enjoying a relaxing day in the hammock on Serenity Deck ... with the yummy drink of the day
Towel animal for tonight :)

March 28, 2012

Barbados began our busy next 4 days.  Although I thought no other place could top St. Thomas ... boy, was I wrong!  Beautiful weather and a fabulous taxi tour around the island ... what could be better!

Quick stop to one of the beautiful beaches
Local Barbados beer, so good!
Just one of the beautiful shots of the country side
We decided to take the Harrison's Cave Tour and were blown away by the beauty and outstanding views within the caves.  The pictures below do not even do justice to what we saw and experienced.

One of the many pools of water ... this one had 4 feet of water and 15 feet of silt!
Hubby enjoying the scenes of the caves

We so enjoyed the beauty of this pool ... the pictures below show the pool with the flash of my camera on ... the other, with the flash off!  So spectacular!!
Flash on ... not much to pick out here

Flash off ... beautiful glow underneath the water

Mr. Monkey towel animal!
... and of course, to top the night off ... Freddy Funship!

St. Lucia
March 29, 2012

On to St. Lucia!  I had always wanted to visit St. Lucia as the pictures all looked so beautiful and peaceful.  Although the day started our a little cloudy (now mind you, it was about 6:00 am), it quickly cleared and turned out to be a beautiful day.

The Piton Mountains!

Port of St. Lucia
Beautiful landscape

Rather than booking an excursion on the ship, we decided to try our luck with a local taxi/tour company to take us around the island.  We booked with James Tours, who turned out to be an OK tour, but found that many of the places he took us were in the northern part of St. Lucia, and not so pretty.  We also quickly learned that many of the locals who he took us to visit along the way were actually looking for us to buy their products ... we didn't take the tour for this purpose and it put somewhat of a sour taste in our mouths.  Nevertheless we had a great time sight-seeing and enjoying St. Lucia ... until ...

View of the Victory from St. Lucia

Beautiful outlook onto St. Luci

Local housing ... it always amazes me how the houses are built on top of each other

 ... we were taken to one of the local beaches ... Rodney Beach.  The beach was absolutely beautiful, apart from the panhandling!  Now, I've been asked and tormented about buying things from locals before, but this took the cake!  Everyone from 12 to 70 years were trying to sell something!  It was not just the selling piece, but the constant nagging and rudeness that really bothered us.  We did manage to find some local beer and have a taste :)

Local St. Lucia beer

... and of course towel animal swan for the evening

St. Kitts
March 30, 2012

St. Kitts was another place on my list to visit, and this one did not disappoint!  The weather was absolutely beautiful, so we decided to hire a local tour company to show us the real sights and sounds of St. Kitts!

Port of St. Kitts

Great shot of the Victory and Miracle!

As soon as we were on the island, we knew this was going to be one of our favorites of this trip!  Starting just a few feet from the ship, we were greeted with MONKEYS!  They were so darn cute, I contemplated on how to get one back home :)!  A word for the wise ... we being approached by the "monkey men", be prepared for them to take you camera and throw the monkeys on your ... all before you realize it's happening!  Then they proceed to take the pictures and charge you $20 for your own camera LOL!  Crazy I know, but for us ... well worth the money!

From there we toured the island, visited the botanical gardens, and then spent a few hours on the beach ... fantastic day!
Most favorite experience ... MONKEYS!

Local house with a poor puppy on the step ...

Centre of the city

Momma and baby birds resting for the day ... protected from the snakes and rats

Most beautiful shot of the Caribbean ocean

Little did we know we would run into MORE monkeys!  This little guy had the softest hands/feet :)

Entering the botanical garden ... so serene

... another shot of the gardens

Us under a huge palm

The Marriage Tree.  Legend states if you get married under this tree, your marriage will last forever

This was so impressive ... the Atlantic Ocean meeting the Caribbean Sea!  Can you tell the difference?

Beautiful beach where we strolled and even rented a jet ski!  The sand was almost black due to the volcanic sediments!
After a day in St. Kitts we were convinced we would have to visit again!  Our new favorite place :)

St. Marteen
March 31, 2012

We had visited St. Marteen during out last cruise, but it's always fun seeing such a beautiful island again!  We decided not to do much of anything today ... just relax and take in the hot weather.  It started off again a little cloudy ... but quickly turned into a HOT day!

Port of St. Marteen
Beautiful beach of St. Marteen
... again

We decided to come back to the ship a little early today, and enjoy the serenity deck one last time.  Luckily I found a huge bed and flaked out for a few hours ... sun bathing and just relaxing.  Beautiful end to a fabulous cruise!
View of St. Marteen from the Serenity Deck

Our final towel animal

San Juan, PR
April 1/2, 2012

Without seeing a picture of this hotel, we were a little concerned that we may be staying a not-so-nice place ... however when we arrived, we were totally shocked!  The Courtyard by Marriott, Isla Verde, PR was well beyond our expectations!

Beautiful Puerto Rician sky
The beach, right at our feet
Swim up bar ... mmmmm!
After relaxing for a little bit, all the fun started :)!  3:00 pm was the start of happy hour ... and boy were we happy!

Hubby riding Shamu .... lol
Attempting to surf ... with help!
Having a leisurely float in the pool
The boys
The girls
So long San Juan ... till we meet again xoxo

All in all we had one heck of a time!  New and wonderful cultures, beautiful weather, fabulous islands and scenery, and a suburb cruise to boot!

... so much fun ... that we're planning the next as we speak :)!