In fact, we made travel plans before we even knew when she would have the procedure. We figured that no matter when we were there, we would be able to help with something. (We being June and myself.) I took June because I needed someone who was comfortable in the kitchen. Tyler opted to take the rest of the kids so he had extra help in ID. It worked out well for us, because we threw a mattress in the back of the van and planned to sleep on the road instead of getting a hotel.
The drive to WA is long. We left in the afternoon and decided to drive for a fair distance or until we got tired. We stopped only for gas and dinner. It just so happened that we were right around Baker City around dinner time. I remembered this town and I remembered a certain restaurant from years before. We dined at Sumpter Junction -- the restaurant with the train. It was fun to go back and show June that she had been there before.
Guess what? She still loved the train.
We had a great dinner and watched the train go by five or six times.
* Tyler was a little worried about us driving, just the two of us. I felt like a mission to Mars or something. He was ground control and he was always chiming in with weather reports or suggestions of where we should stop. When we got close to Baker City, we gave him a useful task...finding us food. He mentioned burgers, but he told us they were at Barley Brown's Brewpub. I figured we could skip that one. But when we walked into Sumpter Junction, there was a big sign saying they served Barley Brown's Brew. I told June we were in luck after all.
Later when June received her meal (of French Toast) she picked up the syrup container on the table. She exclaimed that it was warm. She poured some on her food and with perfect timing I said, "Of course, that is always how they serve the beer here." You should have seen the look on her face. She was very concerned that she had just poured beer on her French Toast. I laughed and told her I was kidding, but she still tasted it with a finger before believing me. (I did inform her that beer is served cold, but I'm sure she'll be wary of all amber liquids for a while.)
We drove all the way to Kennewick and decided that was a good place to stop. We chose a Wal-mart parking lot for convenience and safety. (Well, mostly convenience.) We had our mattress in the back and it was not too bad to sleep on. But it got mighty cold during the evening. Tyler warned us that two blankets would not be enough. (I hate it when he is right.)
So, we woke up early and were on the road by six. It was so foggy. We drove in and out of fog banks all morning. There wasn't a lot of traffic, so that was handy. I had June take a picture as we drove down a hill into a valley. Usually you can see a lovely valley with windmills running, but this morning it was all fog.
We had a lot of fun driving together. Lots of laughs and lots of music. We are both music people. We tried listening to an audio book for a while, but it just didn't take. (Still can't stand the voices people use when they read aloud. It bothers me when women make their voice husky for a male character. I know I do it too, so not sure why it bothers me so.)
We safely arrived in WA Tuesday morning. Grandma wasn't scheduled for surgery until Friday...Black Friday. (Sounds ominous.) We decided to have Thanksgiving a day early so she wouldn't have to fast on the evening of feasting. That left us a day of play, play, playing. We started playing cards almost right away. Scotch Bridge is a must. You know I'm going to win Tim, don't be scared.
(I think I did win Scotch Bridge at least once. So did June.)
Wednesday dawned and it was a day for giving thanks. June, Grandma, and I were in charge of food. We divided up all the responsibilities and went to work. Naturally, we played a lot of games in between. Please don't feel that we worked Grandma needlessly. She had been making meals for weeks and her pain was at a minimum. Plus, no one can make a turkey like Grandma.
June was in charge of mashed potatoes and gravy. She did a fantastic job.
I made homemade rolls. I was proud because Tim had Grandma buy Hawaiian rolls, but he liked mine more. (Of course...they are so delicious.)
June made me take a picture of this roll, because it reminded her of Benjamin from Little Mermaid II. What do you think?
Check out our feast! Guess what I liked the most?
The yams! Tyler does not like sweet yams, so we never have them. I found a recipe online with butter, brown sugar, and marshmallows. It sure hit the spot. I loved them. I think I might make some for myself every year.
Let's see what else we were up to in WA. June brought her violin and dutifully practiced. I love to listen to her play.
I took a picture of Grandpa in his study where you can always find him. (I think he came out to eat and play a game or two.)
We spent a lot of time organizing Grandma's thread. We got her started on a new project while we were there.
Thursday night, we had a very fun activity. Grandma had picked up some caramel testing kits. There are 12 different caramels. You cut them up and then try to guess what flavor they are. Tim took some of the caramel packaging and wrapped it around his neck. He looked like a strange wrestler. We had him do a fierce face. This man takes his caramels seriously.
There are the 12 bowls. They look very similar; no easy way to distinguish between them.
June wrote down all the flavors. There were some really strange ones. Strawberry Black Pepper? Stem Ginger? Blood Orange Balsamic?
Edy joined us for caramel tasting. She is currently staying at my parent's house. She is a doll. I love her. I think I'm going to name her sweety Edy. (She took a lot of pictures. Hopefully I can get some from her soon.)
Here are the results of the test:
Grandma: 0 (Okay, that isn't quite true. We all got the espresso one because we could smell it. Only Tim tasted it, and the rest of us just wrote it down. So technically, Grandma got that one right, but she didn't get a single other one. That is pretty impressive in its own right.)
Grandpa and Maleen: 7 (Grandpa and I tied. I think we both did very well. We missed different things as well.)
After it was all said and done, I'm a little worried about Grandma's taste buds. There were two spicy caramels - the Strawberry Black Pepper and the Hot Chili. Some people got them mixed up, but Grandma had the Hot Chili down as Maple. How did she miss the heat in that one? It was very funny. She may have felt we were picking on her a little, but she is pretty good-natured. (Love you mom)
Friday, the black, arrived and that meant Grandma was headed to surgery. Grandpa and I took her to the hospital. We knew we would be there for a while, so everyone else stayed home. I was having a little deja vu, because I had just been with Tyler when he went in for
Black Friday is not a popular day for surgery, so Grandma had lots of nurses taking care of her. She was put in ahead of schedule and Grandpa and I began the waiting game. We brought things to do and we did take a break to go eat some lunch together in the cafeteria.
It was a long time to wait. I believe that the surgery took a little over four hours. That was interspersed with the world's loudest fire alarm going off several times. You don't have to leave the building which is unfortunate, because it would have been nice to leave the sirens behind. Instead, we made earplugs from tissue and suffered through.
Grandma made it through surgery just fine. They found three hernias and put in a rather large piece of mesh to cover all three. Since the surgery was done laparoscopicly, she only had small holes across her abdomen and then a larger incision under her right arm where they fed in the mesh. It is pretty impressive how they can do things nowadays. We waited until she was lucid, so we could talk to her before going home. She seemed to be in good hands. We didn't get home until well into the evening. It was a full day at the hospital.
Saturday was a bit more relaxed. We played some more games, although we were sad it wasn't with Grandma. Miranda and I ran some errands and had lunch together. Then this happened!!!
I have been looking for that license plate for 2 1/2 years. Stupid Rhode Island. I was so excited to see it that I slammed on the brakes, totally startling my sister in the passenger seat. She thought I had run over something. When I backed up to see the plate again, she wanted to say, "Don't run over it again!" I tried to share my enthusiasm of finding Rhode Island. I'm not sure she was impressed, but she seemed happy for me.
In the afternoon, we all went out to visit Grandma at the hospital. She was pretty chipper. In fact, we finagled some paper and pens from the nurses and managed to put together a game of Caveman Telephone to play with Grandma. (This is a favorite game in WA and one of the few that Grandpa will play. It was fun to introduce Edy to it as well.) June sat in one of the oval windows that makes St. Joseph's hospital so iconic.
We had so much fun playing and laughed a lot, which maybe wasn't as good for Grandma, come to think of it. Here are some of our drawings. I'm very proud of my drawing on the left. Grandpa gave me, 'the rain in Spain stay mainly on the plain.' Sheesh Grandpa. (But Miranda actually figured it out!)
Edy took a ton of pictures of our whole family. I really wish I had one, because somehow I didn't get one shot of Miranda. Sorry Miranda. I didn't get April either. My only photo of us from the hospital makes Grandma look dead. I promise she was doing very well.
We also had to take a picture in the creepy elevator. There are six elevators and we got the one with the scary handprints both times. Someone really wanted to get out.
Of note on Saturday evening, I taught Tim how to make my rolls since he liked them so much. When they came out of the oven, I think he ate nine in a row. I was feeling sick just watching. But maybe that is because I had three myself.
Sunday morning meant June and I were on the road bright and early to get back to Utah. I took a picture of our winnings. June made us use a different deck of cards every time we played. Then she made a pile for each person and gave them the deck if they won. I just want to say that I was winning until I took a day off at the hospital. I don't think this is an accurate depiction since I hear they played a lot of cards that day. (Most likely so June could get a boost.)
June and I had a safe drive home. Things to note:
1) Pishaw (our name for the GPS) took us on a weird side route, but it ended up taking off an hour and a half of our drive. I have never made it from WA to UT so quickly. Thanks Pishaw.
2) We saw a coyote on the road. We thought it was a fox at first. Pretty cool.
3) There was a bit of snow for a while, but roads weren't too bad.
4) We played a game where we each chose 4 songs from Spotify and waited to see if they would come up randomly. We actually started this game on the way there. If a song of ours came up, we got to choose another potential to put in our line up. Overall, four of my songs came up. (Two more than once.) June did not have any songs come up. (Unless you count Skyfall, which she got rid of. Then it came up.) I told her she won the game because it takes more skill to pick songs that never come up, then to pick a song that eventually comes up.
It was such a great trip. I already miss my WA family. Grandma is doing well now that it is a couple weeks later. Grandpa has her on a strict diet and her pain is getting less each day. (Those aren't really related.) I do wish I lived closer so I could keep her company. But for now, I'm just happy to text back and forth every day.
Crazy! I found this picture of Miranda in my Google Photos, but it isn't on my phone. I must have taken it and the cloud sucked it up and then deleted it by accident? I'm not even sure. Regardless, I love my sister and I'm happy to put a picture on here.