Sunday, November 13, 2011

My Remodeled Master Bathroom

This summer when I came home from Europe, I noticed that my shower drain was leaking and had even caused damage to the ceiling in my kitchen. "Great," I thought. Well, it actually did turn out to be a great thing. It spurned me to remodel my entire bathroom - something I'd wanted to do since I moved in. I liked my bathroom before, but it was pretty standard and I thought it had some odd spacing choices. Luckily, Randy Williamson, the owner of Colton Cannon Glass & Finishing, lives in my ward and was able to give me a very reasonable estimate for the remodel. I have been extremely impressed with the work that was done and highly recommend him!! If you are considering any remodeling in your own home, give Randy a call and have him give you an estimate. I promise, you will not be disappointed!! Anyways, here are some before and after pictures:

Before - The bathtub

Before - The Shower

Demo - Randy removed the dividing wall between the tub and shower.
He also removed the fiberglass shower and the surround from around the tub.

He then tiled the floor, built and tiled a shower bench,
and tiled the surround around the bathtub.

He also tiled the shower walls.
Ah, I love this brick pattern!!

Finished Product -
The bathtub with tiled surround and tiled shower bench.

Finished Product -
The tiled shower with decorative tile border,
tiled bench, and Euro glass enclosure.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Surgery Saga

Frankenstein Foot

Recovering

So I'd needed foot surgery for awhile now, but I'd put it off. I put it off for several reasons, but the two main reasons came down to inconvenience and expense. I finally decided I couldn't put it off any longer especially when I learned about a pain medication study that would pay for all related medical foot surgeries. "Well," I thought. "If that is the case, expense will no longer be a deterrent."

I looked into the pain medication study and found it to be a legitimate, trustworthy study. All participants receive a free medical foot surgery, including all pre-op and post-op visits, as long as they participate in a 48 hour post-op pain study. In addition to paying all medical costs, the study would also pay each participant $650. Participating in the study seemed to offer a lot of positives. The only negative aspect of participating was the possibility of receiving a placebo pain medication during the 48 hours following surgery. "So what?" I thought. "I'm tough and have a fairly high pain tolerance. I can go through two days with a little pain."

Needless to say, I signed up and had the surgery. Everything went well during surgery and the first few hours after surgery. The medical researchers had me record my pain levels in a pain journal every hour following surgery. The first few times I gave my pain relatively low ratings (1, 2, 4). But after several hours, the medication from surgery had worn off and I began feeling it. When I finally listed my pain level at a 6 out of 10, the researchers began giving me the study "pain medication." It was given through an IV and I was told to let them know when I felt any relief. After 15 minutes, I had felt no relief. In fact, my pain was still increasing. After another hour, the researchers gave me another dose of the "pain medication." Still, I felt no relief and my pain continued to increase.

By this time, I knew that I had definitely received the placebo. Now, I thought I was pretty tough, but I guess when a surgeon saws the bones in your foot in half and reattaches them with screws, it hurts more than I expected. I'm not a whiner or a crier, but I was on the verge of tears. After two rounds of my "pain medication" and a round of ibuprofen, the researchers said I could opt to go "off study." The researchers said that going "off study" meant that whatever they were giving me for the study (the placebo) wasn't working so they'd record those results, stop giving me the study "pain medication" and start giving me Percocet. I told them that I'm not a quitter and I don't like quitting. They laughed and said that it didn't make me a quitter. They said that whenever a patient gets the placebo, this happens - that it's pretty standard.

With that reassurance, I decided to go "off study" and start taking the Percocet. What a difference actual pain medication makes!! I still had to stay my 48 hours to be monitored by the researchers, but instead of taking their fake medicine, they regularly dosed me with sweet, sweet Percocet. I'm home now and am recovering quite nicely. I should be getting my $650 next week and will shortly be purchasing a new iPad. Yes, I experienced 5-6 of the most painful hours of my life, but I got excellent medical care, saved my $1000 insurance deductible, and even made $650. Well worth it.

Friday, November 11, 2011

School Stuff

Last week while Zack was playing with his DS, Louis was watching him and making fun of him because he wasn't doing very well. After Zack made some foolish gaming mistake, Louis stated, "Come on, Zack! What are you doing?" Zack replied, all frustrated, "I know. My brain is so full of school stuff, I can't concentrate." That's right, school stuff is interfering with his gaming abilities. Stupid school stuff.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Making Change

Last week I was at my grandma and grandpa's house when my cousin, Zack, walked in the front door. He lives a few houses away and saw my car in the driveway so he thought he would come over and solicit me for money for his school's jog-athon. He came straight in, ignoring my grandparents, and said, "Mandy, would you like to give me some money?" I just thought he was begging for money so I replied, "No." He continued, "But, Mandy, it's for my school's jog-athon and all the money will stay at the school." Well, I'm a sucker for school fundraisers, so I gave him 5 dollars.

My grandma then turned to my grandpa and told him to give Zack some money, as well. My grandpa got out his wallet and pulled out a 10 dollar bill. He told Zack, "I'll give you the 10 and you give me the 5." Zack snatched the 10 dollar bill from my grandpa and said, "How 'bout I have $15."

I started laughing. Apparently he knows all about adding money, but has yet been taught how to make change.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Great Weekend

Once upon a time (May 26, 2011), I wrote a post titled, "Mixed Feelings." You can go back and read it, but it basically stated the beginning of a hope - a hope that the Diamondbacks would win the National League West Division. Well, on Friday, I was at Chase Field to witness that hope become a reality. It was awesome!! After finishing on the bottom of the division for the past two years, the Diamondbacks surprised everyone (even their most die-hard fans) by not only taking the entire division, but reigning close to the top of the entire league (they are currently in third place, but can move into second place with tonight's game). No one thought this was possible. In fact, after spring training, experts believed they would finish close to the bottom, again. They have truly been the surprise of MLB this year and I've loved watching every moment of it!! Here's a great video of the team celebrating after clinching the division:



Celebrating AZ style . . . by jumping in the pool.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Mom's Birthday @ The Melting Pot

On Tuesday we went to the Melting Pot to celebrate my mom's 54th birthday. Here are a couple of pictures from the celebration:

My Mom and Dad

Jackie and Adam. Doesn't Adam look happy?

Louis, Mindy, and Dad
Now those are some happy faces.

Me and my beautiful mom

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

MLB All-Star Festivities


In July, I want to Arizona for all the MLB All-Star Festivities. It was an awesome experience!! On Saturday, July 9th, I went to All-Star Fan Fest with my parents, Jeanine, Zack and Mitch. It was a baseball lover's dream. They had areas set up to practice all your baseball skills - batting, pitching, fielding, and sliding. Here are a few pictures:

Dad, Me, Zack, and Mitch

Mitch watching them run the bases.

video

Zack and Mitch sliding into home.
(I cut off Zack and missed his slide, but you can see Mitch's).

On Sunday, July 10th, my dad and I went to Chase Field to see the Futures Game and the Legends and Celebrity Softball Game. The Futures Game is made up of minor league players. The fun thing is that a majority of MLB All-Star players were selected to play in the Futures Game when they were playing minor league ball. The players are divided into teams based upon their nationality - USA vs. the World. The USA ended up winning 6-4. The Legends & Celebrity Softball Game was also pretty fun to watch. D-Back's favorites, Luis Gonzalez and Mark Grace, were two of the legends to participate.

Team USA and Team World.
The mound is surrounded by flags, representing all participants.

Setting up the field for the softball game.
Can you see they're shortening the outfield.
Cool thing is, they even brought in a small pool.

On Monday, July 11th, we went the Home Run Derby. This was by far my favorite event we attended. Man, can those boys hit!! Although I'm not much of a Yankee fan, I was cheering for Robinson Cano. He was very, very impressive and I'm glad he ended up taking it.

After Cano's win.

Finally, on Tuesday, July 12th, we attended the All-Star Game. It was such a fun experience to see the game at Chase Field. D-Back players, Justin Upton and Miguel Montero, were cheered on the loudest. It was great to see!! Although, the player I enjoyed seeing the most was Kevin Youkilis. I had never seen him bat in person and I loved seeing it!! Of course, the best thing about the game - the score. National League took it 5-1. Home Field Advantage, baby.

Me watching warm-ups.

Me and my dad.
I have no idea why we're not looking into the camera.

I love this shot. The D-Back's A and the All-Star.

Right before the National Anthem.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

European Travels


Click on the links below to read more about what I did and what I saw during my European Travels:

Santorini

The last stop on our cruise was the island of Santorini. This island has a very interesting geological history. It is basically the remains of a large volcanic eruption that occurred 3,600 years ago. Prior to the eruption, Santorini resembled any other island - It was round. Since the eruption, Santorini has looked like this:


The eruption left a large caldera surrounded by ash deposits. That's why all the beaches in Santorini are black sand beaches. Many historians believe that this eruption caused the end of the Minoan Era. Historians believe that the eruption created a large tsunami that destroyed the Minoan navy. Because of this destruction, the Minoan Empire declined and was taken over by the Mycenaean Empire (see my posts on Mycenae and Heraklion). Many historians also believe that the legend of Atlantis is based upon the volcanic eruption and destruction of this island.

When we arrived in Santorini, we took a bus to the city of Oia. This city is one of the most photographed cities in Greece. It's what most people think of when they think of Greek islands.

Our cruise ship entering the caldera.

Taken from our ship as we're heading into the caldera.

Taken from the bus as we drive to Oia.

The eight of us. I'm the bottom right :)

Oia

Me and Oia

The buildings were beautiful

Colorful shop entrance

The setting sun over Santorini.

Heraklion, Crete

The next day of our cruise we headed over to Greece's largest island, Crete. I was the only one of the girls who wanted to visit the archeological site of Knossos Palace so I departed from my group and headed there. Knossos was very similar to Mycenae, in that people don't know where the actual historical facts end and the mythology begins.

Facts:
  • The Palace of Knossos was built between 1700 and 1400 BC. It spread over 6 acres and had over 1300 interlocking rooms that were connected by hallways of varying size and direction.
  • In the middle of the palace was a large courtyard used for games. In one of the games an athlete would grasp the horns of a charging bull and vault over the animal's back.
  • Knossos had two common symbols - The bull and the Labrys, a double-bladed axe.
  • Knossos was the ruling city during the Minoan Era (2200 BC - 1300 BC).
Based on the facts, can anyone guess the myth commonly associated with the Palace of Knossos? If you guessed Theseus and the Minotaur, you would be correct.

In Greek Mythology, Zeus transformed himself into a bull and kidnapped the beautiful, Europa (Fact: The continent of Europe is named after her). He took her to the island of Crete where she was made the queen. She eventually gave birth to Minos (Fact: The Minoan Era is named after King Minos) who grew up to be the king of Crete and the ruler of Knossos Palace. King Minos had many children. One of his children, Androgeos, traveled to Athens where he participated in and won the Pan-Athenian Games. The Athenians were so upset over Androgeos's victory that they killed him. When King Minos discovered this, he declared war on Athens.

To avoid war, the king of Athens, Aegeus (Fact: The Aegean Sea is named after King Aegeus), agreed to send seven boys and seven girls to Crete every nine years to be sacrificed (Pop Culture Fact: This myth was part of the inspiration Suzanne Collins used when writing the novel, The Hunger Games). These Athenian youths would be forced into a maze, or Labyrinth, where they had to face the Minotaur, a half-man/half-bull creature who lived in the middle of the Labyrinth (Fact: The word Labyrinth comes from the maze-like design of Knossos and it's symbol, the Labrys). After several nine-year intervals, Theseus, the son of Aegeus, volunteered to take the place of one of the sacrifices and go to Crete to kill the minotaur. Upon his arrival in Crete, Theseus entered the Labyrinth and made his way to the middle. There he encountered and killed the minotaur. With the help of King Minos's daughter, Ariadne, he then made his way out of the Labyrinth (Pop Culture Fact: In the movie Inception, the character, Ariadne, designs mazes in the dreamworld). He joined the other Athenian boys and girls and they all sailed for home.

Carvings of the Labrys, or double-bladed axe,
can be found all over Knossos.

Symbols of the bull can also be found.

Reconstructed Fresco from Knossos Palace.

Fresco depicting an athlete jumping over a bull.

Many believe this fresco depicts the prince of Knossos.
Could it really be Androgeos?

Some of Knossos's 1300 rooms

More of the rooms

Can you see why people thought it resembled a maze?

The Throne Room

The Queen's Room


In addition to being the setting for the myth about Theseus and the Minotaur, Knossos Palace is also the setting for the myth about Daedalus and Icarus. In this myth Daedalus, the creator of the Labyrinth, and his son, Icarus, try to escape the island of Crete. To do so, Daedalus creates wings made from feathers and wax. Daedalus and Icarus strap the wings onto their arms and fly away. Daedalus had warned his son not to fly too low or too high. If he flew too low, the ocean would get the feathers wet and he would fall into the sea. If he flew too high, the sun would melt the wax and he would fall into the sea. Icarus did not listen to his father and flew too high. Because of this, the wax melted and he drowned in the sea. My guide in Knossos said we should live our lives based on the message of this myth - In our lives we should not fly too high or too low, but keep a nice balance. I loved that.

As you can see, Knossos was an awesome place to visit regarding mythology, but there were other things about it that made it remarkable. Knossos also had running water, the oldest surviving theatre in Europe, and the oldest surviving road in Europe. How awesome is that?!

Terracotta water pipes ran under the entire city.
People didn't have running water 100 years ago in the USA,
but they did 3000 years ago in Knossos.

The oldest theatre in Europe.
My guide said it looks like little more than stairs,
but the idea of having a theatre more than
3000 years ago is what's impressive.

Another angle of the theatre

The oldest known road in Europe.

Rhodes

The next day of our Greek Cruise was spent on the island of Rhodes. This was my second favorite island we visited (my first being Mykonos). Rhodes is most famously known for the Colossus of Rhodes. It was the 3rd of the 7 Ancient Wonders of the World we visited.

During the morning, we went on a walking tour of Old Town. The Old Town is the oldest inhabited medieval town in Europe. It was built in the 14th Century by the Knights Hospitaller. The Order of the Hospitallers was founded in Jerusalem in 1023 to care for the sick pilgrims who came to the Holy Land. They operated there until the Holy Land was conquered by Islamic forces. The Knights then went to Rhodes, where they became known as the Knights of Rhodes, or sometimes the Knights of Saint John.

On the Island of Rhodes, the Knights became a military force defending the island from pirates, an Egyptian Sultan, and an Ottoman Sultan. The Old Town was built inside ancient castle walls, complete with arrowslits for defense, non-functioning drawbridges, and a dry mote around the wall. The old town is littered with old canon balls the size of basketballs. Modern day stores have been built within the castle walls, but they all have an old medieval look.

The medieval wall surrounding the Old Town.

The main entrance to the Old Town.

Ali, Chelsea, Amanda, Me, & Steph

The Palace

The Knights of Rhodes Shield

More Old Town

More Old Town

Check out these cobblestone streets!!

A Medieval Fountain

Beautiful Building and Foliage

I loved it. It reminded me of Robin Hood.

Sandra, Steph, Chelsea, Tanya, and Me


In the afternoon we left the port and Old Town and went to the most gorgeous beach. The water was crystal clear. We could see the bottom of it even after swimming out quite far.

Beautiful Beach!!

Me and the Aegean Sea.