Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Madrid, day two :: Museums

Getting all five of us up, dressed, fed and watered on our second day was a little rough.  Jet lag was bringing us down.  Ross and I thought a good first full day would be a museum day - walking, but not too much and the boys like art.

We started our day at the Prado museum.  Once we figured out how to turn our printed tickets into real tickets and got through security and got past the woman who was just sitting inside and thought we were gullible enough to pay her for a tour and once we found the actual entrance to the museum we were all set!

The Prado was huge.  The Prado was elbow to elbow crowded.  The Prado was full of art depicting wars, greek and roman gods, with a little bit of the Renaissance thrown in.  The Prado had a great exhibit of paintings from Francisco Goya (famous Spanish Painter) and a lot of cool stuff that Rick Steves (the PBS Travel Guy) told us to see.  Most importantly though, the Prado was full of naked ladies...and a few naked men.

We warned the boys about the naked ladies.  We were all surprised by so many statues and paintings of naked men.  The boys were very mature about the whole thing, but the museum was just so big, and after a couple of hours so hot and they were so hungry that we ended up leaving.  Ross wanted to push through and see EVERYTHING but if we didn't get some food in Elliott's stomach soon, the trip was going to be over before it started.

So, we left.

We found pizza.  It was delicious.  We each drank two coke zeros.  We were ready for more art.

The second museum of the day was the Thyssen.  It was more modern, and practically empty.  It was awesome!  At school, the boys do a program called "art smart" where each month parent volunteers come and teach them about a famous artist.  They've been doing it for years and have a pretty good knowledge of some of the big names in art.

Wyatt was able to pick out van Gogh's all on his own.  Elliott knew Lichtenstein without us telling him.  Quinn was able to notice details in landscapes of the American west as places we've been too, or at least look like places we've been too.  As a mom who loves art, it made my heart so happy to see them so interested.  We saw so many of the big names in Impressionism through more modern art like Monet and Pissaro, Hopper, Georgia O'Keefe, Rothko and Pollack.  It really was such an amazing museum and a fun place to spend a couple of hours.

Our apartment was about a 5 minute walk from the Thyssen museum so once we were finished, we headed back to rest for a bit - still so tired - before venturing out for dinner and to explore Madrid some more.

For dinner we found a very tasty (and expensive) Argentine restaurant.  The boys were brave eaters, and tried some new foods as well as mounds of french fries.  Thank heavens for french fries.  We walked off our late dinner through Plaza Mayor where we got harassed by street vendors, explored a few souvenir shops and ate some more gelato before heading back for another deep sleep.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Madrid, Day One

We left Salt Lake City in the mid morning on a Sunday afternoon and flew non-stop to Amsterdam, arriving on a Monday morning.  Seven movies and 5 wide awake Howden's later, we arrived in Amsterdam to race through passport inspection (assisted by one very handsome, very tall and very blond Netherlander).  Once we got through security we raced to our gate to catch our next flight.  The boys were so psyched for the trip on the first flight, that no one slept.  But, the second we got on the flight to Madrid, we were all out cold for the entire three hours.  After the plane landed and taxied, we were taken by shuttle to the main airport.  The plane was so full and Quinn was so asleep that we didnt make the first shuttle - and had to wait almost half an hour on the steps that were wheeled up to the plane on the tarmac for the next shuttle.


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Upon arriving in Madrid and getting our luggage we waited - some more patiently than others - for a taxi big enough to carry the 5 of us and all our bags to our apartment in the heart of the city.  Once we got to our home for a few days we were only able to drop our luggage because the cleaning lady wasn't finished.  Because we were all starving we left the apartment and found a small bakery for croissants, some potato chips and a few coke zeros.

All was well except that Quinn's chocolate croissant must have had some hazelnut paste in it because after one bite he was finished and a few hours later was having a hard time breathing and was covered in a rash.  So our first adventure in Spain was to find a pharmacy, get some benadryl, and drug the six year old.  After Quinn was sufficiently drugged the next item on our agenda was to find dinner get a few grocery items and then head back to our apartment to go to bed because we were exhausted.

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We took a nice walking tour of the city center and some main plaza's and found a "food court" to get dinner.  We opted for hamburgers (pizza and burgers were all the rage in Madrid) and it was one of the more interesting burgers I've eaten in my life.  Everything was mixed into the meat, which gave it a pretty strange texture and flavor, but the fries were good and we were starving.  We also learned pretty quickly that coke zero is the officially beverage of Spain and we drank it.  A lot of it.

After finding our first of many gelato shops while in Madrid we headed back home to go to bed.  We were exhausted and had no trouble getting anyone to sleep on the first night.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Surgery

On February 10th I woke in the middle of the night with a very sharp pain in my lower left abdomen.  It kept me awake for about an hour but after some tylenol I was able to go back to sleep.  Ross was out of town for work and I felt better in the morning so I didn't bother to tell hi about it.  Unfortunately, off and on over the next three days the pain came back at all sorts of random times of day.

Then, it went away.

It went away for over a week, like 10 days.  I figured that it was some sort of muscle pull or maybe a "groin" injury and forgot about it.

On February 26th the pain came back with a vengeance. Pain all day.  Pain all night.  It was bad enough that on the 28th I called an internal medicine specialist that I have been seeing and got an appointment for Monday, March 4th. 

At that appointment, the doctor felt that based off of my symptoms, I probably had diverticulitis - an inflammation of the lower intestine.  She sent me directly to get a CT scan.  Thank heavens!  A call later that night told me that I had a "nodule" of unknown tissue compressing my ureter, casing the pain.  The radiologist and my doctor felt that I should see a urologist.  I got an appointment for a few days later.

I sat in the office waiting for the urologist to show up longer than the actual appointment.  He seemed very disappointed that I was a woman and not a middle aged man with an enlarged prostate.  He looked over my CT scan with me and told me that even though my ureter was indeed being moderately blocked he didn't feel like it was a urological issue - that it was probably gynecological - and he didn't want to help me, even though he still made me schedule a follow-up appointment for four weeks later.

After the appointment I called Ross, pretty frustrated.  We decided that I might as well schedule an appointment with the OB/GYN who did a procedure for me last year.  I got home, called and had an appointment for the next day.

My appointment with Dr. Johnson was only 15 minutes.  He looked at the CT scan, told me that there was a small ovarian cyst in the scan as well as the "nodule" causing me pain.  He poked around my belly and then decided that I probably needed surgery.  We walked out of the exam room, looked at his calendar and scheduled an "Exploratory laparoscopy" for Wednesday March 13.

Already long story short. 
Horrible snow storm made us late to the hospital.
The one hour surgical procedure ended up taking three.

I had a baseball sized ovarian cyst that had to be removed.  The cyst and other tissue had damaged my left Fallopian tube so that was taken out.  The "nodule" was a giant mass of endometrial tissue that had to be removed as well as a biopsy of a lymph node that was inflamed.

My doctor said it was a "gnarly" surgery.  He had to add a 4th laparoscopic hole to get at everything.  He also told Ross that I was a "bad ass" for dealing with so much pain and so many problems.

It took me a few days to start feeling better and it's taken a good month to finally feel mostly "normal" again.  Minus a very itchy belly button and some sort of string coming out of three of my incision sites, all is well.

Generally speaking, I ignore health problems, hoping that they will go away.  I'm pretty happy that I was motivated enough to take care of this one and not let it fester until it became something really severe. 

Phew!

Monday, April 08, 2019

Conference Weekend Visitors

Over the weekend we had visitors.

Luke, Jonah and Craig came to town for General Conference.

They stayed at our house and it was, maybe, the loudest weekend I've ever experienced.  FIVE boys is no joke!

They caught the end of a Monarchs game.  We took them to Crown Burgers.  The boys lego-ed, origami-ed and watched America's Funniest Home Videos.  We walked around the lake.  More video games and laser tag was played this weekend than in many months combined.  All five boys had a great time.


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Monday, March 25, 2019

Luke and Jonah get baptized

This weekend we were able to jet down to Arizona to participate in the baptism of cousins Luke and Jonah.  We didn't have a lot of time, but we were happy to be able to travel down.

We flew into Phoenix on Friday night, ate at Shake Shack and stayed in Scottsdale.  On Saturday morning we drove our brand new rental Suburban (it only had 1800 miles when we picked it up) north to Prescott Valley for a day of twinner activities.  The baptisms were in the morning, then we caught the tail end of the boys Pine Wood Derby, and we ended the day with dinner at Craig and Christina's home out on the prairie.

The twins were excited to have so many people present to honor and support them.  We haven't seen them for two years and they were excited to see the boys and also seemed pretty excited to have Uncle Ross throw them baseballs for over an hour.  Luke took me on a tour of the yard to see the chickens and dead things - rats, rabbits and chicken skulls and both twins let the boys hold their geckos.  Gross!

While in Arizona we also got to spend some time with Grandma Bea and Uncle Bill who was visiting from Minnesota.  Elliott is officially taller than Grandma Bea - she turned 95 in February and the boys had never met Bill...he was impressed with their heights, manners and generally good behavior.  I'm glad that they made a positive impression.  The weather was warmer than home, and the sunset was pretty.

We spent Saturday night at Grandma Connie's house.  On Sunday morning we got up, went to church and then headed back to change our clothes to head home.  While packing up suitcases, there was a lizard hanging out in the room Ross slept in (he was snoring so I slept in a different room), on "my side" of the bed.  Yuck!

We packed up, got lunch at Raising Cane's and headed to the airport.

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Thursday, March 21, 2019

the last kindergarten zoo field trip

Quinn has had a great year so far in Kindergarten.  He's pretty much the star of his class and his teacher, Mrs. Woolf loves him.  She says that in all her years of teaching he is one of the best behaved kids she's ever taught and that his fine motor skills are off the chart.

Anyway, today was the kindergarten zoo field trip.  Quinn rode the bus with his friends and I met the group at the zoo with all the other moms and families.  All week, the weather has been pretty good but of course, today, it sucked.  Rainy and wintery and COLD.

Quinn and I did the fastest tour of the zoo ever and we were frozen solid at the end.  I was pretty proud of myself for bringing him an extra jacket to put on, otherwise, he may have really turned into a popsicle.


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Thursday, February 14, 2019

the anti-valentine Valentine

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The boys are not into Valentine's Day.  In fact, a couple of days before Wyatt had a nervous breakdown because girls were going to give him valentine's!  Last year a girl wrote that she thought Wyatt was handsome and he just didn't want the attention or the pressure.

After searching online, we found some pretty funny anti-valentine's to make.  The big boys thought they were funny and the chocolate was tasty.  Quinn's class did not pass out valentine's this year so he was off the hook.

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

SNOW DAY!

In my entire life, I can only think of one day, in elementary school, where we had a snow day.  In Utah, they are pretty rare.

But, when we woke up this morning, a snow day was upon us.  It didn't seem that bad to start, but as the day progressed, there was just more and more snow.  Ross got to work from home and shovel/snow blow about 5 times.

It was a pretty great shut-in sort of day.


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Sunday, January 27, 2019

Elliott is ordained a deacon

Today, Elliott was ordained to the priesthood office of a deacon in the LDS church.

Those present to participate and celebrate him were:
Grandma Judy
Grandpa Karl
Grandma Connie
Grandpa Dick
Uncle Willie
Uncle James
Cousin Jack
Mom
Dad
Wyatt
Quinn
Sister Lonni (Our favorite grandma who lives across the street from us).

The Church announced in December 2018 that as of January 2019, youth would progress through church groups by their birth year, not their age.  That meant that all the boys who turn 12 in 2007 were automatically deacons - pending an interview with the bishop and an ordination.  We decided not to rush Elliott through, since his birthday is in January anyway.  I think there was one boy his age who beat him to the punch as the first new deacon, but it's okay.  Elliott is pretty excited to pass the sacrament and not so sure about rain or shine fast offerings once a month.

This kid is growing up so fast and we couldn't be more proud of him.


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Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Elliott is 12

MK Howden_ Annie 10.20.18-46

Holy Moly!

Elliott, you are TWELVE!  The other day I asked if you wanted to hear the story of the day you were born.  You didn't.  I told you anyway.

At least I told you what I could remember.

You are such a good boy.  You are smart and funny.  You are kind to your brothers (most of the time) and you love babies - especially cousin Brady.

You are getting taller and more grown-up every day.  There have of course, been some bumps along the way in the last year as you  test your boundaries a bit, but those bumps make you a better kid and hopefully make me a better mom.

I love you kiddo.  Your random science facts make my dad.  Watching you turn into your dad is a little strange at times, but pretty fun, too.  You do your best at everything you try, are becoming an excellent soccer player and have inspired me to read more books this year - I cannot believe how much you read.

Driving you anywhere, or getting you to go on a walk with me are my favorite times of day.  That seems to be when you are interested in talking to me the most and I am and will always be a willing listener.

The last year we had some major sadness with Grandpa Huber, Aunt Geneil and Grandpa Ted passing away.  I am so proud that you can show your emotions at all extremes.  That you can mourn with those that mourn and find joy with those that are joyful.  Watching you navigate all those emotions is such an interesting experience for me...it's gut wrenching and exciting all at the same time.  Just one more sign that you are growing up.

Honestly, I wasn't sure you and I would ever survive colic, the terrible two's, torturing Wyatt, all those little kid things.  But, not only did we survive, we seem to be thriving these days.  Hooray. 

You have junior high orientation on your birthday.  What a way to celebrate with a mega school milestone on a mega birthday milestone.  You are so ready to grow up.  I am so ready to let you!  You are a bright star kiddo and I hope I can always help you shine.

Happy Birthday!

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