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Monday, January 27, 2014

Plans are Useless

It's a known fact that things never go the way you plan for them to go.  I should have known that this would eventually apply to Mr. L and me as well, but when things are going swimmingly for you, it's hard to imagine anything but all that happiness and good fortune when you're making plans for the future.

For most of his life, Mr. L knew that he was going to be involved with the military somehow.  When he was a kid, he thought that the Army would ultimately be his path, but when the Army recruiter wasn't in on the day he went to sign up, the Navy recruiter stepped in and snatched him up.  It's funny how something so small can have a major impact on your life, isn't it?  I most likely never would have met Mr. L if it weren't for that Army recruiter being MIA!

And just for fun...my and Mr. L's first picture together...we were babies!
After joining up with the Navy, Mr. L also knew that he was going to stick it out and retire in 20 years.  After he and I started dating, I also understood that this was the right career path for him, although it took me much longer to finally admit and accept it.  His career was going well and he was being recognized for his hard work, so we just knew this was definitely the way things should be going.

Unfortunately, we've come across a road block and we're not sure what this will mean for Mr. L's future in the Navy.  I haven't talked about our issues much (except maybe a few mentions on my Five for Friday posts), so I'll give a somewhat brief background.  Back in April of last year, Mr. L had an incident while he was on a deployment.  It sounds pretty trivial looking back, but a bug flew into his eye and hung around for a few hours before he was able to remove it.  He ended up with damage to his cornea, but while his eye was actually healing up perfectly, he began to have major episodes of intense, grinding pain in his eye socket.

This eye pain went on nonstop for weeks.  We visited an optometrist and an ophthalmologist who both had no idea what could be causing it, especially when his vision was still perfect.  Ultimately, it came to a head when the pain started spreading to other parts of his head and face in the form of debilitating migraines.  After a trip to the emergency room, pain killers, and an MRI, we were sent on to see an ENT.

The ENT looked at his MRI, did a test to see if the deviated septum the MRI revealed Mr. L had could be the cause of the pain, determined it wasn't with a test, and sent us on to a neurologist.  And that's where we've been for the past six months now.  The neurologist has been working with Mr. L to see what kinds of medications work best for his pain management because he has no idea what's causing the pain.  Terms like "ocular migraines," "cluster headaches," and "neuralgia" have been thrown around, but his symptoms don't closely align with any particular one, making it much more difficult to treat.  Although we have made progress on the pain front -- he's down from constant 24/7 pain to a few episodes a day -- it isn't enough.  He's still unable to do the job he's supposed to be doing and has now been put on limited duty.

This, this, a thousand times this.  (source)
Limited duty basically means that he's put in a less stressful job so he can focus on getting 100% better.  Unfortunately, he still actually hasn't been assigned to this job (he's in a kind of in between department right now) which is another frustration entirely, but we're doing our best to make it work and to be proactive on the medical front.  We're looking into alternative medicinal practices like acupuncture and chiropractic care while also experimenting with other treatments recommended by his neurologist.   We're also considering surgery to fix his deviated septum just in case that might solve the pain problems he's having.

These past nine months have been awful for Mr. L.  We've had to make a lot of lifestyle changes in response to the pain he's been having (especially when we found out noise is a factor in bringing on the migraines) and we're both incredibly tired and frustrated at not having any answers.  It seems like such a small thing, but having a name to what we're dealing with would feel like a small miracle right now.  If we knew what it was, we would know how to fight against it.  And now there's a possibility that Mr. L might be separated from the Navy entirely because of all of this.

We've been slowly talking over the last few months about what our game plan would be if he was separated, but it hasn't been until this month that we're really shifting our thinking in order to prepare.  We're lucky that we have the option to move back home and have a complete support system waiting for us, but we're sad, frustrated, scared, and angry at the same time.  It wasn't supposed to happen like this.  We were supposed to be set for another 9 years and continue to travel and explore the world on the Navy's dime.  I'm thankful that we've gotten to go to the places we have so far, but I'm not ashamed to admit I wanted more and I still do.  It's difficult to remain positive, especially when I see firsthand Mr. L struggling and fighting to get through a day without pain.  I worry for him and I hurt for him and I wish I could take this pain away and bring him back to his old self.  If it's this overwhelming for me, I truly can't even wrap my brain around how it's affecting him.

But it's really important for us to realize that we aren't out of options yet.  We don't have a reason to give up hope right now, and we need to keep our focus on the next series of treatments and the possibility of changing up the medication he's currently on.  He wants so badly to not just stay in the Navy but to return to his old job, and we're going to do everything in our power to make sure that happens.  But we know that if it doesn't happen the way we want it to, it isn't the end of the world.  It'll be scary and a complete shock to our lifestyle, but we'll make whatever happens work and come out all the better for it.  We just have to be patient...unfortunately, we're not really patient people, especially when you consider how much time has already gone by and how frustrating his medical appointments have been so far (for reasons far beyond not knowing what his condition is).

I guess my main point in writing this is to clue people in on why I haven't done much (if any) writing on the goings on in our lives right now.  Honestly, it's depressing (although we know it could be much worse) and I know I'm not normally one for reading depressing posts.  But this is what's happening in our lives and it's important to understand that things aren't all rainbows and puppies and unicorns all time time, even when you live in Hawaii.

Although that whole natural beauty thing here does kind of make things at least a little better!  (Shark's Cove on the North Shore)
Actually, I probably have another reason for putting this out there too.  No matter who you are, even if you have a pretty secure job in the military (relatively speaking), prepare the for worst.  Keep it in the back of your mind that life can change in an instant and knock you down and that you need to have a back up plan just in case to protect yourself and your family.  Whether it's getting an education or saving for a rainy day, you just need to have some semblance of a plan.  If we had known something like this could have happened to us, we would've started seriously budgeting years ago and I would have definitely already gotten my Master's degree or at least started on it.  Get your financial and educational lives in order now so you don't have to look back and wish you'd taken action when you still could.

For now, we're going to keep on trucking along and also keep praying that we find at the very least a successful pain management regimen to keep Mr. L working in the Navy and happy.  We're going to soak up whatever amount of time we have left in Hawaii and we are remaining hopeful that things will get better while in the meantime beginning to plan for the worst.  And in the spirit of that planning, I'll leave y'all with a quote I found oddly comforting from Dwight D. Eisenhower: 

“In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” 

Friday, January 24, 2014

Five for Friday

1.  Thank you for picking up my medicine for me!

2.  I'm really happy with how certain things are falling into place.

3.  Um, this weather?!  We won't need AC for the rest of the month at least!!

4.  I'm glad you enjoyed the pot roast!

5.  I hope you know how many people are on your team and truly care about you.  It's hard not to when you're as awesome as you are!!

ily <3


Monday, January 20, 2014

One Blog, One Tree

Did you know that each time someone browses the internet and clicks on a web page, CO2 gases are emitted?  It may seem strange, but it's true!  These emissions come from the energy consumption of computer servers and hardware.  According to one study by a Harvard physicist, a blog with an average amount of traffic can emit about 8 lbs of CO2 gases each year, so it's definitely obvious how this can be considered a significant issue after you tally up the number of blogs and websites out there!


I wanted to add pictures to this post, but since I didn't have anything terribly related, you get to see pictures of Hawaiian trees.  Here are some lovely coconut palms!

If it weren't for the folks over at Retale introducing me to their Green Gestures initiative, I certainly would not have become privy to this information, so I'm very happy they decided to contact me and share their story.  Retale is a company founded to digitally distribute local ads, fliers, and any other kind of paper product related to shopping in order to reduce paper waste and create a more sustainable way to shop.  Green Gestures, a campaign set forth by Retale, helps you get started on minimizing your impact on the environment by showing you how to opt out of unwanted paper junk mail, offering simple steps to help protect the environment, and encouraging bloggers to reduce their blog's carbon footprint, which is where I come in!


A gorgeous Rainbow Eucalyptus
In exchange for writing this blog post and helping to spread the word about website carbon emissions and the Green Gestures initiative, Green Gestures and its partner, the Arbor Day Foundation, will plant one tree in order to offset my blog's footprint.  This is definitely right up my alley, especially since we moved here to Hawaii.  My home state was never exactly energy or environment conscious, but Hawaii is very, very different from Alabama.  There's a saying in the Hawaiian language -- "malama ka 'aina", or "care for the land", and it's very obvious that residents here take these words to heart.  Conservation, recycling, electric cars, and green energy initiatives are causes that everyone happily gets behind, and really, who can blame anyone for wanting to protect such a beautiful and precious place?

And finally, my favorite of them all, a monkeypod tree -- well, half of one at least!
I really do believe that this is a great cause, so I'm more than happy to offer up my support and help contribute to the planting of more trees.  Hopefully you will decide to take action as well, whether it's through opting out of your unwanted junk mail, following simple tips to reduce your own footprint, or having a tree planted for your blog too!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Five for Friday

1.  I'm really, really enjoying our nightly walks.  The weather has been perfect for it, and so has the company :)

2.  I'm happy we've made some realizations about being proactive with your health, and I'm hoping that we can keep not only your doctors but both of us on track with it.

3.  Although you having to drive so far away sucks, I am glad you're in a place now where you feel more useful.

4.  Thank you for cooking me dinner last night!  I really appreciate it.

5.  I feel like we're coming to a new era of sorts of understanding each other's wants and needs, and I'm so thankful for it.

ily <3

Monday, January 13, 2014

Pinterest's New Place Boards

If you've been browsing over at Pinterest lately, you may have noticed that they've implemented a new feature called Place Boards that lets you add a map feature to your pins.  At first I thought it was interesting, but I honestly didn't think much else of it.  And then I pinned one of my posts from my Getting to Know Hawaii series and it hit me -- this would be perfect for my Getting to Know Hawaii Pinterest Board!

Now you can see the locations of all of the posts I've done in relation to one another.  This is a great way for you to plan out a day trip if you happen to live here or a vacation if you're visiting.  Pretty neat, huh?

Go ahead and click the link below to check out my Pinterest Place Board.  And if you have one of your own, share it with me below!


Saturday, January 11, 2014

Six for Saturday

1.  I'm really glad we took care of the spare bedroom this week.  It looks great!

2.  I'm so happy you're out of your temporary division and moving back to your command, even though it might take a little while to get there.  But it's still progress!

3.  Yay for awesome Christmas presents!!

4.  Thank you for being so cute about "girls' night" haha.  You're such a sweetheart!

5.  I hope we're able to take advantage of my weekend off and get the garage all set up for you :)

6.  I am beyond excited about the plans we're talking about making this year.  I really hope we get to go to Molokai!

ily <3

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Getting to Know Hawaii: Maui Ocean Center


The Need to Knows:
  • The Maui Ocean Center is located at 192 Maalaea Rd, Wailuku, HI 96793.  Its exact location can be found here:
  • The aquarium is open every day of the year from 9 AM to 5 PM -- in July and August, they stay open until 6 PM.
  • One day ticket prices are $26 for adults, $19 for kids 3-12, $23 for 65 and up, and free for kids under 3.  There are also weekly passes and annual passes to pick from (check out their visitor info page here for more details) and if you book online at least a day ahead of visiting, you'll receive a complimentary weekly pass upgrade.  Military, kama'aina, and AAA discounts are also available.
  • I would expect to spend about a couple of hours here, maybe more if you have kids.
  • Audio guided tours are available and at certain exhibits in the aquarium at certain times guides will give lectures and answer questions about that particular exhibit.
  • A restaurant is located on the grounds called the Seascape Maalaea (opens daily at 11 AM)  in case you work up an appetite after exploring the aquarium, and if you're just interested in a snack, there is a little snack stand in the center of the park.
  • For more information, check out the aquarium's website at www.mauioceancenter.com.


When Mr. L and I visited Maui in October of last year, we had to make some readjustments on our plans as I mentioned before thanks to the government shutdown.  On the same day we visited the 'Iao Needle, we also spontaneously decided to hit up the Maui Ocean Center since it was on the way back to our condo.

Diver in one of the tide pools checking out the fish
One of the things I particularly enjoyed at the Maui Ocean Center was the huge reef exhibit showcasing tons of different species of marine wildlife.  It was so fascinating to not only be able to see the creatures that live at each level of the reef ecosystem but to also see how the animals change as you go deeper into the ocean.  Mr. L and I had a lot of fun finding each kind of animal in its particular tank and learning about them all from the plaques available on the wall and the guides that were talking at certain points throughout the aquarium.



We also had fun checking out some of the exhibits outside, like a tide pool area where you could touch some marine life (kids were loving this!) and the turtle lagoon.  Plus the views of Haleakala weren't too shabby either!

Honu in Turtle Lagoon waving hello!

Beautiful Haleakala
The giant tank and aquarium tunnel complete with many different kinds of sharks was probably the highlight of our visit.  We were able to watch a great presentation given by a guide and a diver in the tank who was able to communicate with us.  We found it very informative and entertaining, and judging by the large crowd around us, other people did too!  You could tell the staff really enjoys working here.  And who can blame them -- you can't beat working in such a cool place!

Presentation at the giant tank

Aquarium tunnel
And I will say I really liked the Ocean Center's gift shop as well.  I saw a lot of really cool and interesting items and we bought a few things for ourselves, including a vintage map of the islands and a couple of shirts.

Gorgeous glass jellyfish art that I'm pretty sure is sold at the gift shop, either in store or online
Now, Mr. L and I have some geeky tendencies so we really appreciate things like aquariums, museums, and the like.  If you're not one of those kinds of people or if you don't have kids, you probably wouldn't enjoy spending some time here.  But if you like learning about wildlife and oceans and the like and you find yourself on Maui, I'd recommend visiting, even if the ticket prices are a bit more expensive.  It's also a great way to see some fish if you're not keen on diving or snorkeling!  ;)




Friday, January 3, 2014

Five for Friday

1.  Thank you for taking care of things around the house, I really appreciate it!

2.  Halfway done with taking down Christmas decorations -- makes me sad!

3.  I love snuggle time on the lounger!

4.  Thank you for supporting me during my game yesterday, especially when we didn't win (ugh).

5.  I'm glad that you're finally reading my book.  And don't worry, you can finish it on my Kindle!

ily <3

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Quick and Easy Chicken and Stuffing

Happy 2014, everyone!  To celebrate the new year, I'm throwing up a new recipe as my official first post of 2014.  I wish you all much happiness and many blessings in the upcoming year!

---

After being inspired by loads of pins dedicated to a recipe called Crock Pot chicken and stuffing (like this one!), I decided I needed to give it a whirl but to ultimately leave out the Crock Pot part.  I know, I know, Crock Pots really do make all our lives easier, but sometimes I need a dish a little quicker than what a slow cooker can provide!

I started searching around for a recipe I could use and I soon latched on to Plain Chicken's Yum Yum Chicken recipe which I ultimately used to adapt this recipe from.  So if you're looking for a taste of the holidays without all of the oven-slaving and hard work, give this fast and simple recipe a try!

Adapted from Plain Chicken


Ingredients

  • 1 rotisserie chicken, shredded (or shredded boneless chicken breasts)
  • 1 cup of Greek yogurt (or sour cream, if you prefer -- I was out!)
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1 box of stuffing mix
  • 1 cup of chicken broth

Directions

Spread out your chicken in the bottom of a greased 9x13 baking pan.


Mix together your Greek yogurt and cream of chicken soup; spread over the chicken in the pan.


Layer your stuffing mixture on top.  Pour chicken broth over the stuffing, making sure to get it nice and moist.  Use more broth if necessary.




Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes until golden brown and delicious.  Plate up with your favorite veggies and serve!