Saturday, March 29, 2014

The case of the 60 year old metal mouth...or....There's no fool like an old fool

You see a happy Nonie.  I see one with bad teeth.
We all have some physical flaw or feature that we wish we could change. I have agonized over my crooked teeth for all of my teen and adult life.  It was easy to avoid photos until the digital age and for years I tried to convince myself that my teeth weren't really that bad...but they were and every photo showed it. My dear friends always have cameras at the ready and there is that ugly mouth in all of those memorable photos!  Since embarking on this journey, many kind friends have claimed to have never noticed this situation but they are just that...kind friends.

Believe it or not, braces actually existed during my teen years.  My parents took me to the orthodontist for that initial evaluation. I was allowed to sit in on the recommendation and financial part of the consultation and when it was over, the decision was left up to me. The orthodontist was a 45 mile trip to the big city of Peoria.  My dad worked second shift in East Peoria. My mom didn't drive. Dad would not be excited about making that trip twice in one day plus he had part-time morning jobs. My brother had his driver's license but no car.  Mom would have been forced to beg monthly rides from one relative or mass transit. Plus there was the expense....we weren't poor but there wasn't a lot left over for luxuries and Dad's medical insurance didn't include dental at the time.  So...being the "pleaser" that I was (at the time) and realizing the hardships that braces would cause my family, I opted to live with my crooked smile.  No 12 year old should be asked or allowed to make such a decision but that's just the way it was.

I probably could have had braces later...after college...but DH and I were young marrieds and moving frequently with kmart.  We would never have been in one place long enough to complete the treatment. Then the boys came along and their needs were more important.  I made sure that they were not asked to make the ortho decisions....if braces were needed, they would (and did) have them.

Then retirement arrived.  I finally had the time and the money (thank you BISD for paying me for my unused sick days) to correct this flaw.  After consulting with my regular dentist, off I went to the orthodontist.  It's been two months now and at this point, I think it was a bad decision.  I thought I was ready for the pain....some days are worse than others.  And let's not even talk about my new best friend, dental wax. IMHO the braces look worse than the crooked teeth. But the worse part and the part for which I was unprepared is the fact that I cannot eat.  Taking a bite of something like a sandwich or a burger....not gonna happen.  In addition, the lower braces changed my bite so molding compound was added to give me something to bite against but chewing is a definite issue.  The list of foods I plan to eat again when this is over grows longer daily.  I'm tired of soup, yogurt, and pasta already and I have 22 more months left.  I've been told this will improve but it hasn't yet and I miss eating meat and salads. Oh...maybe I will drop some weight this way....but probably not because ice cream is something I can actually eat!

DH has been very supportive but even the king of patience is growing annoyed with the situation.  He did not sign on for a life of pasta and soft foods.  DIL and AT son are understanding but with little miss on the way, they have other concerns and what can they do anyway other than advise me to look to the future?  Canadian son has been against the idea from the beginning, calling it nonsense. He seems to think that I should have just "let it go" a long time ago and my teeth were really not that bad. (But then again, he sees no need for furniture so how can I trust his opinion?)

I have come very close to having the dentist remove the brackets and wires and calling a halt to the whole process.  He is very nice but determined that I should have the smile that I have always wanted so we compromised on 6 months. If I don't see improvement in 6 months and am still unable to eat like a semi-normal adult, we will revisit the removal decision. is my advice to any adult considering orthodontic braces....unless it is a health issue such as jaw or headache pain, don't do it.  I hope I feel differently about it down the road but right now I feel like you may find my withered body alongside that road...but with straight teeth.  And I want a bacon cheeseburger with fries before I am eligible for Medicare!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

More learning experiences with Mr. Perfect

DIL had a business meeting out of town this week and since Athletic Trainer Son is still on driving restriction, we were lucky enough to be able to play host to Mr. Perfect for a few days.  And we all learned alot...

MP learned that if you claim to be sad when it is time for bed, Nonie will let you sleep in her bed instead of in the crib.
NONIE learned, once again, that she is a push-over.

MP learned that Nonie will not let you eat goldfish crackers for breakfast.
NONIE learned that she needs to provide a wider variety of cereal choices and that she needs to find another place to store the goldfish stash.

MP learned that if you put up enough of a fight about changing out of your pajamas, Nonie will hand you the IPad so that you can play your games.
NONIE learned, once again, that she is a push-over.

MP learned that Nonie's bed is pretty comfy.
NONIE learned that MP likes to sleep with his head pushed up against something, (usually Nonie) and that the preferred way to sleep in a big bed is horizontally.  She learned the a midnight kick to the face does hurt but does not always produce a black eye.  She also learned that a 2-year-old takes up a large amount of space in the bed.

MP learned that it is great fun to play Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed on Nonie's bed.
OPA learned that he should give careful thought to what he is teaching Mr. Perfect.

MP learned that little boys are not allowed in the sewing room (AKA the sweat shop).
NONIE learned that no sewing will occur while MP is visiting.

MP learned that it is difficult to keep the elderly entertained.
NONIE learned why God gives toddlers to younger parents.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Visit to Banff...part 2

Another bright and sunny day in Banff and it was our day to hit the slopes.  We are not skiers and both of us felt that at our ages, learning to ski might be a little difficult.  Plus we were worried about the danger to our brittle bones.  But we wanted to enjoy the snow so we did our research and discovered that some of the local ski centers offer snow tubing hills.  The photos and videos on the internet made it look like a good adventure so we decided to check it out.  Our first stop was Mount Norquay.  This tube park had 5 runs and we were really excited to give it a go.  Unfortunately it was not to be...the "magic carpet" that hauls you and your tube back up to the top of the run was broken.  They offered us the opportunity to climb back up the hill under our own power and we considered it (for about 10 seconds) until we watched a group of fit teenagers struggle up the hill pulling their tubes.  Neither of us were convinced that we could do it so we went in search of another ski resort with tubing.

We found one in Lake Louise...the Sunny Tube Park at the Lake Louise Ski Resort.  This tubing area was smaller with only two runs but the magic carpet was working and the price was right!  I was concerned that we would be the oldest folks at the tube park or at the very least, the only ones without little children.  Surprisingly everyone on the hill was our age.  Many of them were non-skiers who opted to tube while the rest of the family hit the slopes with their skis or snowboards.
We hadn't been sledding in over 20 years and it was just as much fun as I remembered...more maybe because we didn't have to climb back up the hill!  It was a blast!  And during our rides up the magic carpet, we got to watch ski school.  Little four and five year old kids learning to ski...great people watching for sure.  And the preteens trying to master their snowboarding skills were even better.  Made me wish that I was younger, in better shape and had stronger bones!

After several hours at Lake Louise, we returned to Banff and checked out Banff Upper Hot Springs.  These mineral rich pools are naturally heated to 104 degrees.  I was hoping that the atmosphere would be more grotto-like but instead, it was a large tiled swimming pool.  But no matter....the water felt great and the sensation of being in that hot water while the steam rises and the snow flurries down was something entirely new to us.  I highly recommend it!  Much better than a hot tub!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Visit to Banff....part 1

After spending a few days in Calgary, it was time for a new adventure.  DS had a business meeting for two days in Edmonton (which he assured us was scheduled after we had made our travel plans and that he had nothing to do with this scheduling).  We could have spent the time exploring Calgary on our own but when faced with the option of staying in a hotel with amenities such as beds, TV's, chairs and a hot tub or remaining in the monument to minimalism, really, was there any choice to be made?

Please do not ask us why DS chooses to live this spartan lifestyle.  We honestly do not understand it.  His mantra is "You don't own things...things own you".  Trust me, he was not raised this way.  He has purchased a mattress (finally and only because we were coming to visit) but it rests on the floor.  Living room seating options include a neck machine or one of two patio chairs (which he purchased at our insistence on Saturday).  There is internet access but no TV.  I sometimes think he is European as he purchases his food fresh daily....empty cupboards and refrigerator.  We don't fully understand what he does for a living but he is well paid.  If he could find housing in a cave or a shanty by the ocean and convince someone to pay him as well as his engineering job does, his life and lifestyle would be complete.
Gondola reaction.

So we borrowed DS's truck and headed for Banff.  Our hotel was lovely and after enjoying just sitting on the bed for awhile, we decided to do some exploring.  The first stop was the Banff Gondola up Sulphur Mountain.  DH is wary of heights so some time was spent in deciding on seating arrangements.  I was much more concerned about the strength of the cables that held the car up.  It took 8 minutes to reach the observation platform 7,486 ft above the starting point. 

The views were amazing!  And it was cold!  But shortly after we arrived at the observation platform, the sun came through the clouds, the wind died down and it became surprisingly warm.

That's Banff down there   

The observation platform includes a cafe, a more upscale restaurant and of course, beautiful views.  We had hoped to see some wildlife but apparently the animals were all in hibernation...or they just didn't want to come out to visit.

The observation platform is not the peak of Sulphur Mountain.  The peak can be reached by climbing a boardwalk trail.  As I mentioned, DH is not a fan of heights but I had a plan.  The weather was beautiful and I kept climbing up the boardwalk...DH was following along enjoying the mountain views.  My plan was working superbly until DH caught sight of a movement in the trees near the boardwalk.  It was a white rabbit...the camouflage was amazing!  DH spent a loooonnnnggg time trying to get the perfect photo. 

Can you see the bunny?
Not being as patient as he, (surprised?) I moved further and further along the boardwalk .  When he realized that I had moved on without him, he remembered that he really had no plans to climb the rest of the way.  But I was committed and I trudged on.  The peak of the mountain is 1 meter beyond the observation platform.
The Boardwalk

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

More random observations from Canada

8). Canadians do not take pride in the cleanliness of their vehicles. Or maybe it's the other way around...a dirty car Is a loved car. Whatever.....there are no shiny clean cars in Calgary or banff. In fact I am fairly certain that no cars are washed between the first snowfall and Easter!  Maybe it's a religious thing!

9). The highway departments do an awesome job of cleaning the streets of snow.  I'm not sure what they use for ice melting but it must not be salt.  There are no rusted out vehicles like we were used to seeing in Illinois, Iowa and Kansas.  But maybe the rust is hidden under the grime.  Must return in the summer to check that out!

10). Canadians love security. Getting into and out of DS's condo is a technology marvel.  You need an opener for the parking lot....a key to get into the parking area to get to your electronic scanner to get into the surveillance of the front electronic scanner to make the elevator move.  I am so relieved to be free from the worry that someone might break in and rob him.  Wait! He doesn't have anything so he might as well leave everything unlocked!   But on the other hand, the windows have no locks or screens. Luckily his nothingness is safe as he lives on the second floor.

11). We aren't exactly certain what it is that DS does but the office is equally well protected.  No one can just drop in for a visit! Scanners everywhere.

12). Calgary is very expensive.  Since our money is literally no good here (unless we go to the currency exchange) we are putting everything on our one international credit card.  I'm fairly certain that we are in for a shock when we check that bill.....but think of the miles!

13). By and large Canadians are very polite people.  They are very friendly.  They also wait for the walk signal at the corners....even if there is no traffic in sight! Picture a Texan doing that!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Random observations about Canada and Canadians

1). Calgary is smaller than I expected. 
2).  March is not the best time to visit. The snow is melting and everything is brown and dirty.
3). Canadians love their dogs. And they prefer big dogs. When we walked around Calgary we seemed to be the only ones without a large dog. Apparently dogs are not allowed on the pub patios so the owners tie them up to the railing and the dogs wait patiently on the sidewalks. Nice owners provide a bucket with water....or maybe the pubs do.  Idk.
4). Calgarians (or maybe it's calgary-ites) are much more healthy looking than average folks. They walk everywhere.  Fewer chubby folks, also. We had dinner with Tim's two friends (he has only two friends here...they call themselves the wolf pack.) who had just returned from a trip to Columbus Ohio. They both commented on how many overweight people they saw there. It made me look around and realize that DH and I are definitely in the minority here!  Canadians need to eat more poutine!
5). Canadians also like their beer...but that's okay with us.
6). Temps in the 40's call for breaking out the shorts and flip flops.  I guess it is all relative but while I huddle in my hoodie wishing that I had remembered my gloves, these people are filling up the patios soaking up the sun.  Haven't seen any apartment complexes with pools but there are lots of tanning parlors.
7). Convenience stores and gas stations are few and far between. 

Stay tuned for our report on our visit to Banff and more random observations.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Progress....or....the retreat of the spider monkey

Minky monkey blankie
Tuesdays with Nonie saw a big leap forward toward the end of the spider monkey.  Mr. Perfect had spent the night and we needed to get ready for our weekly visit to Aqua Kids.  (At this point, we didn't know that class had been cancelled for that day.)  He was sitting on the bed engrossed in his Old BicDonald book (that's what he calls it) so I asked if he could stay there while I got dressed to go to the pool.  "Yes, Nonie."  While I was changing, I heard him hop down off the bed and head toward the living room.  I peeked out to make sure that he was heading in the right direction and not taking a detour into the sewing room (AKA the sweat shop...very dangerous in there!)  There he was....struggling down the hall with his minkey monkey blankie.  He seemed to have everything under control considering the size and weight of this particular blankie. A few minutes later I heard him huffing and puffing like he was really working hard on something so I went to check on him.  Mr. Perfect was sitting in the middle of the kitchen floor.  While strolling by he had noticed his swim diaper, swim suit and towel on the kitchen table.  With no help from me (and without the distraction of the IPad), he had taken off his shoes, pants and pull-up (which he tossed across the room...thank goodness it was a dry one!) and  had put on his swim diaper (inside out) and was struggling in to his Spiderman swim suit.  Wait!  How can this be?  Where is the spider monkey?  Could this really be happening?  Maybe we are past that phase and can now add library storytime to our Tuesday schedule.  (Remember?  I didn't want to change him at the pool for fear that they would call CPS on the grandmother causing this reaction to a simple change of clothes.)  If the spider monkey is truly gone, we can go to the library and then venture to the pool....fingers crossed!
No Tuesdays with Nonie next week as DH and I are traveling to the great white north (Canada) to see Mechanical Engineer/Strength Coach son.  Stay tuned for bulletins from Calgary.  I have all ready prepared to start a black market operation as I understand that Propel water flavoring and Payday candy bars are not available in the land to the north.  I've been asked to bring those items with me so I stopped by Kroger today and cleaned that store out of both requested's not as bad as it sounds...they only had 7 Paydays in stock!  Now the big decision is....what is ME/SC son willing to pay for them.....hmmm....I see Canadian Loonies in my future (Google that one, friends!)