Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Hydrocortisone Dependency

A little over 25 years ago, the genetic profiles of two people came together to create a new human being. Nine months later, two days before Thanksgiving, that human being emerged into the world. At that time no one could have guessed what mixing those sets of DNA would do. It wasn't until many years later would anyone discover the problems that would arise: Terrible skin. Dun dun duuuuun!

That's right, folks. I'm talking about me. I'm talking about my parents, neither having great skin, coming together and foolishly expecting any offspring to have a shot at semi-normal skin. Okay - I'm being dramatic. But, I really do have a higher propensity for skin problems than the average person. Let me list off the issues...

1) I have the palest, whitest, blind-you-as-you-look-at-it skin. I can sit in a tanning booth or sit outside all day and nothing happens. I do not tan. I burn. And then I peel. And then I am white again. (It doesn't help that I married and often take pictures with someone who has some Hispanic DNA - he walks from the door of our apartment to the car and gets a nice, even tan.)

2) I have lots of freckles. Some people think it's kind of cute - Brad, having no freckles, is actually fascinated by them. But I don't like them.

3) I have eczema. It's not a terrible case (I should be thankful), but it's bad enough to be annoying and inconvenient - especially in the winter time. Thanks Mom!

4) I have just generally dry skin...again terribly annoying in the winter. My dermatologist has actually said that I should only shower every other day and I shouldn't use really hot water, because my skin's "natural oils" need to rebuild. Gross.

5) I seem to be allergic to most any body soap, lotion, or laundry detergent with any dies or perfumes. I will break out in a rash if I attempt to use them.

6) If I get a bug bite (mosquitoes, spiders, etc), I seem to swell up really bad and the bites get really tender. My dad has the same problem.

Anyways, you may be wondering why I'm rambling/complaining/whining. Last weekend, I met up with some friends who were camping. One of them actually wrote about it on her blog and posted wonderful, not-so-flattering pictures of me. :) You can find her blog here. Well, even though I wore bug spray both days, somehow I got eaten alive. I had heard the mosquitoes were really bad this year due to all the flooding, but oh my word! When I got home, I counted 32 bites...all over my feet, ankles, legs, arms, and one right on my backside! Good grief! Like I said, I swell up so bad with bug bites. I had CANKLES folks. Cankles! My feet and ankles were so swollen that I looked like I had two tree stumps for legs. It is gross. They are also SO itchy and sore.

How did I treat it? Note the title of this blog. Hydrocortisone cream and several doses of Benadryl (or Waldryl for all of us poor folk) made the following days semi-tolerable. When I got to a computer yesterday, I was curious what else I could do to help with itching that isn't just jamming more medicine down my throat. I came across this website! It was very interesting! It even said that the average human has 20 square feet of skin...the only thing that came to mind was Silence of the Lambs. Moving on...

Another website (and one of my favorites) can be found here. It is Mayo Clinic's website and had lots of useful information. Who knew that lemon could be used to cure an itch? Anyways, I know this was probably the most boring, complain-filled post I've ever written, but now that it's out of my system, I can move on with more interesting things in the future!

Hope your guys' week is itch free! ;)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Soothing Sorrows...one bite at a time!

One of my very best friends from church, Marlo, is such a great lady. I really enjoy spending time with her - we seem to have similar thought processes and personalities. Her husband is in the Army and they moved here almost two years ago. They also have three lovely daughters, who all have a little piece of my heart and a dog that doesn't like me. :) Marlo, her husband Doug and I all went to Romania together last month and got even closer during that time.

Anyways, Marlo called me up on Wednesday after she'd had a very long morning. The first words out of her mouth were, "I need a stiff drink." Being the good friend that I am, I told her, "Well it IS before noon, but I'm down." :) Nah, she was just kidding, but we did decide to get together for lunch that day. Marlo spent her time growing up in Mississippi and Louisiana, so I suggested that we go get some good Cajun food at Jazz! An hour later, I was picking her up and we made our way downtown.

I ordered Chicken a La Mer. Being the true Southern gal that she is, Marlo ordered a crawfish po'boy. YUCK! Anyways, she said it wasn't like her grandma's cooking, but it was okay. We've both had a long summer with lots of stress, so we decided to eat away our sorrows with fried pickles (my favorite thing at Jazz) and beignets. I first had beignets in New Orleans at the world famous "Cafe du Monde." I waited in line for over 25 minutes to get my bag of beignets (they throw them in a bag with about 2 cups of powdered sugar), but it was worth every minute. I had almost forgotten how good they were, so I'm glad we splurged and got them.

 As good as the beignets and fried pickles were, we unfortunately had to find a bug that had been rolled into Marlo's silverware. Gross! 

That's 3 demerits for Jazz. :( But still a good time to talk and relax with a good friend!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Balloons and Wine

Last Saturday night, Brad and I met up with some of my old college friends, Dave and Lacy, at the Nebraska Balloon and Wine Festival in Gretna. I had gone a few years back and wasn't super impressed, but apparently, the popularity of the event has grown, allowing for some expansion, making it pretty awesome this year. For $15, you were admitted to the festival, given a souvenir wine glass and enough tickets for 5 wine tastings per person. There were kids activities, food and alcohol vendors, a live band and of course, the hot air balloons. It was really quite fun! Between 7pm and 7:45pm about 10 balloons took off. They landed elsewhere and then were brought back after the sun set and all lit up for us to see again. They even did a little "light show" that accompanied the music. Pictures are below - and take note that I actually forgot my camera for this event, so all I had was my cell phone. Shockingly, I was quite pleased with how my cell phone's camera worked and how the pictures turned out!

Dave and Lacy

All in all - it was a fun night! I'd do it again, for sure!

Monday, August 15, 2011

I Heart Romania

Well, this summer has been crazy/stressful/fun/rewarding/tiring/etc. I won't recap the whole summer, but I do want to talk a little about the best part. I went to Romania from July 8-19. When I traveled there in 2009, I fell in love with everything about Romania. This year was no different. I had new experiences with old friends and it was great! Below are just some of the reasons why I HEART ROMANIA....

1) They have an IKEA in Bucharest. :)

2) They have what seems like endless fields full of sunflowers!

3) It sort of reminds me of Nebraska.

4) They have ferries to take you from one side of Braila to the next. I got to ride one!

5) They have ruins from an old Greek settlement, dating back to the 13th century.

6) The car of choice there is lovingly called "The Romanian Death Trap." Also known as The Dacia.

7) Although it's slightly annoying while you are there, it's also sort of cute/endearing. Many of the "old" Romanians believe cold air or moving air is bad for your health. So, there is no air conditioning and no fans. This picture is our bus driver. He put on a makeshift hat when we insisted he roll down the windows since there was no AC and it was 97 degrees. When asked why he did that, he said he didn't want to get sick. :)

8) The food is...amazing...to die for...and in abundance.

9) They have really neat trains and train stations.

10) I got to spend time with my two closest friends from church. Lovely ladies.

11) There's a lot of times where you sort of feel like you've traveled into a different century.

12) Kids are kids anywhere you go. Here in Romania, they are cute and spunky and I love them.

13) You can hang out at the beach - and not just any beach. THE BLACK SEA!

14) This little girl is so stinkin' cute. Her name is Lois - just like my mommy. But you can only find THIS Lois in Romania.

15) They have a lot of pretty, brick streets.

16)The church is so loving and kind. Even though I hadn't seen any of them in 2 years, I still felt like I was saying hello to my family!

17) I've never met more prayerful people in my life. It's a quality that I truly admire about the people there.

18) This couple, Costel and Gianina feel like best friends. They are an amazing couple whom I have kept in contact with since meeting them two years ago. When we saw each other again, we all had tears in our eyes - same as when I left to go home. :( Gianina speaks pretty fluent English, so deep conversations with her are easier to have. Costel is a ham - always trying to make you laugh, even though he doesn't speak any English. But they both have hearts of gold and hearts to see change come in Romania.

19) Pastor Costica. He is my favorite person in the entire country of Romania. His gruff exterior fools a lot of people - and don't get me wrong...you shouldn't mess with him. But, he has the biggest heart, full of love and wisdom. If he ever says, "I have a question for you..." (In Romanian, of course!), RUN! He'll have your ear for about 2 hours listening to a "sermon" of sorts about something he's wrestling through. He doesn't speak a lick of English, but somehow he and I communicated and there is a mutual love and respect for each other. He is like a 2nd grandpa. He will be coming to Nebraska in October and I can't wait!

Writing this and looking at all these pictures have brought tears to my eyes. Romania is something I hope to share with my husband, my parents and my children someday. I heart Romania.

The Springs, Days 3 &4

Well, it's been a crazy summer - and I was terrible at keeping up with blogging. When I used to scrapbook, the experts always said, "Don't work backwards." Basically, you'll never catch up if you keep trying to work from months or years back. Keep it recent! I will do that for the most part, but feel I should at least wrap up my "Colorado Springs Vacation Series." Here it is...

Brad and I had a pretty long/productive day on Friday and we wanted to jam pack our Saturday as well. We started with a trip to the very prestigious Air Force Academy. Honestly, it was something that Brad really wanted to see, and I really only obliged to please Brad. But, I was pleasantly surprised when we got there - it was BEAUTIFUL! It was a free, self-guided tour and we got to see the amazing Academy Chapel. I was actually really impressed with and very ignorant about the requirements for admission into the Academy and what is expected of you while you are there. It's not just a regular college. You live there year round for 4 years taking classes and doing basic training, learning to fly, parachute, etc. It's crazy! Pictures are below!

The chapel was so beautiful. The main chapel was the protestant chapel, but they also had a Catholic chapel, a Jewish chapel, and a Buddhist chapel. In the basement, there is a multi-functional room used for other, smaller religious groups to worship. Thought it was pretty cool! 

The inside of the main (Protestant) chapel. There was a wedding scheduled there the afternoon we were there.

(Top Left): Jewish chapel, (Top Right): Organ in the Protestant chapel, (Bottom Left): Catholic chapel, (Bottom right): Buddhist chapel.

After we left the Academy, we ate our usual cooler lunch and then headed to the Cave of the Winds. When you arrive, there is beautiful scenery all around, but if you are brave enough, you can take a tour of the cave. There are several different tours: some for families with kids, some that are "haunted," some that are a little strenuous and hard to maneuver through. We just picked the "non-family" tour that was leaving the soonest. Apparently we ended up on the "strenuous, haunted tour." :) Lovely. Before we went into the cave, they had each of us crawl through a hole in the wall that was 3 1/2 feet wide and 3 feet tall. They needed to know that everyone could do it without being claustrophobic. They warned us that we'd be traveling for several hundred feet through cave walls that were that small. I hesitated, but decided to put my brave face on....and it turned out to be probably my favorite thing we did in Colorado.

Our tour guide was a really charismatic, young guy and a lot of fun. We had some rude, lame-o people on our tour and our guide was just determined to make it fun for everyone else. Everyone was getting really irritated with the handful of "Debbie Downers." He just made fun of them - kept blowing out their lamps, made them go to the back of the line, etc. It made the tour even more entertaining seeing the rude people get put in their place. Again, we were on the haunted tour, and we had to blow out all our lamps at certain points in the pitch black. But it was all in good fun - nothing scary. The guide had a lot of good information about the man that discovered the cave in the 1800's and his passion for it - and apparently how he and his wife haunt it now. :) Pictures below...

Brad looking out at the scenery at Cave of the Winds.

Inside the caves - it was dark and COLD!

Not an amazing picture, but it shows a few of the original supplies used when they first discovered it and our awesome little lamps!

Right after the tour, we headed back out to the veranda. It was such a beautiful view!

I just had to take a picture of the winding road down the mountain and the GPS trying to keep up! It was so funny!

After Cave of the Winds, we headed back to our favorite little spot, Manitou Springs. We found an awesome wine bar that is tucked away behind a few builidings. The entire thing isn't any bigger than the size of my parent's living room, but it was so cool and intimate. We enjoyed a few glasses of wine and then grabbed a quick dinner and went to bed.  

You can see here how the wine bar really is hidden down an alley way behind a few other buildings. :)

On Sunday morning, we woke up, packed our stuff up, and hit the rode to Denver. We had been told about a pretty amazing little breakfast spot there called Snooze. We got there about 7:30am and there was already a 35 minute wait. CRAZY! It was pretty packed inside and it got a little overwhelming for both Brad and I. We considered leaving, but were glad we stayed! I had the most amazing meal - breakfast pot pie (which was basically sausage and vegetable gravy in a puff pastry), scrambled eggs, and delicious hashbrowns. It was very good food - but the craziness was a bit much for us. When we left, the line was out the door and around the entire building.

We arrived home at about 5:30pm that night and started the lovely task of unpacking. :) We really enjoyed our trip to Colorado - it was a good getaway and a nice time of relaxation.