My Side of the Story – Part 4

Dan’s Side of the Story – Saturday Morning, November 14, 2009

I woke up on Saturday before Dan, per usual. I went to the bathroom and came back to sit on the edge of the bed. I sat there for a few minutes then went to the bathroom again. Dan hears the toilet flush, running water, etc. I come out and sit on the edge of the bed. (This may have happened a few more times, I don’t know.)

I hear Dan waking up, and I say, “Well, I guess I’ll go to the bathroom now.”

Dan: “How many times have you been to the bathroom today?”

Me: “Oh, I haven’t gone yet.”

Dan: “Get dressed. We’re going to the hospital.”

Dan got up, got dressed, found my insurance cards, looked up what hospital is in our network (Can you tell we work in insurance? Not “Safety First!”, “In-network Medical Care First!”), and drove us to the hospital.

We live near the Lake Michigan, so our first option was a smaller, local hospital. The bigger, Grand Rapids hospitals didn’t even cross our minds.

I mean, it’s just a headache, right?

Emily’s Side of the Story – Saturday, November 14, 2009

I’m tired. My head hurts.


I’m tired. My head hurts.

More sleeping.

I remember groggily waking up to Dan’s iPhone propped up on my arm.

Cool. I’ll check my email.

Note: I did not notice my surroundings.

Turn iPhone on and the notepad is up. Dan wrote, “I’m here. I went to the bathroom right next door. You are ok. I’ll be right back.”

Weird-o. What is he talking about? I’m going to check my email.

Note: Again, did not notice my surroundings.

I’m tired. My head hurts. I’m going to take a nap.


The next time I remember waking up, Dan and some of our friends from our church are in a room with me. Hi, guys! It’s a party!

I don’t know how the news was broken to me. Apparently, I had been told several times though my waking, sleeping, waking, and more sleeping routine that:

  1. I was in the hospital.
  2. There was something wrong with my short term memory.
  3. A CT scan has revealed a malformation in the arteries in my brain. The arteries had burst (causing the headache) and blood had pooled in the brain (the pressure from which caused my short term memory to say bye-bye!).
  4. I was going to be transported to Spectrum Butterworth in downtown GR because the hospital I was at couldn’t handle this delicate procedure.
  5. I was having brain surgery today.

Cool! Let’s get going with it then!


Next: My Side of the Story – Part 5

My Side of the Story – Part 3

Just a Headache: Friday, November 13

I wake up Friday morning to my lovely static-y radio. The dial is forever falling in between stations.

Whew, I feel fine. My head doesn’t hurt.

Then I stand up.

Pounding, throbbing pain rushes through my head and neck.

It gets better after a few minutes of standing though.

Ok, no big deal, get ready for work.

While getting ready, I notice that each time I bend my neck forward or side to side I get the throbbing pain again. If I leave it in normal position though, no pain. I wake up Dan to tell him I still have the headache. We decide that if I still have it on Monday, I’ll go to the doctor.

Today is a big day, I have a 4 hour meeting at work then Dan and I were going to a hockey game that night. Can’t mess up the plans to go to the doctor!

Seriously, it’s just a headache.

Going through the day, I have this sinking feeling that it’s more than just a headache. Walking down the stairs sends shooting pains all the way down my spine. Not shooting enough to make me want to stop and do something about it though.

As the afternoon drug on, I started jotting down notes on a pad next to my keyboard. I documented the sensations/pain I felt, what time it happened, and what event surrounds the pain.

The reason I remember eating a banana when the headache started, is because I jotted it down on this notepad. I found it when I returned to work two and a half months later. Kind of eerie to seeing it on my desk. Deep down, I knew something wasn’t right. Moving on…

Maybe it was a food allergy?

Dan and I go to the hockey game after work. Still have the headache. I’m not even taking over-the-counter meds anymore because they don’t seem to help.

The noise of the hockey game is making the headache worse. We eat dinner and stick it out for a while, then decide to call it a night. I think we left after the second period. I don’t know. I wasn’t really paying attention.

We walked to our car that we’d parked on the street downtown. Dan opens my door for me. That’s the last thing I remember…


Next: My Side of the Story – Part 4

Never say never…

Anyone else read that line and sing with Fievel:

Neveeeeer say neveeeeer again!

Fievel is jumping and singing on the Statue of Liberty. I actually only remember that line of the song. What’s the name of that movie? I know it’s not Fievel Goes West, that’s the one after this one.

The point I’m trying to make is: Never say you will never do/like/become something because you just might do/like/become everything you said you wouldn’t. It’s prophesy.

Here are some examples from my life:


In middle school, I distinctly remember telling my mom that I hate math. Math is stupid. No one uses math in real life. There’s no reason I should study this, etc. etc. Ever heard that rant?

Fast forward to high school, I found out that I’m pretty good at math. I took Algebra I, Algebra II, Algebra III, Honors Geometry, and Calculus. Count that up. I took two math classes my senior year in addition to Physics. Glutton for punishment.

On to college, I decide to major in math and become a math teacher.

What happened to the math hater?

After college, I decide teaching is not for me. So I take a job as an actuary. I can’t even begin to tell you the difficulty of actuary exams. Let’s just say all of my prior math work doesn’t compare.

Moral: Don’t say you hate math. You will end up doing it for the rest of your life.


In high school, I greatly disliked writing. My English teacher would have us write all kinds of things then she’d display them on the bulletin board for the world to see (or so it seemed to me).

I would go to great lengths to get my work off that board.

I volunteered to create the board (border, background, decorations, etc.) every time. This always seemed to get me out of the torture of public humiliation.

To put it in perspective, I had 16 people in my graduating class. Not a big school. I was seriously hiding my work from 70 people, 75 max.

But hey, that was my world, and everyone could read my work!

Fast forward ten years, I enjoy writing so much that I start my own blog. Talk about much more public, not only can more than just my high school read my work, people are able to comment and critique me!

Oh the irony of life…

Garage Sales and Thrift Shops

I pretty much wore only hand-me-downs and garage sale finds growing up. I didn’t so much mind that fact, but I hated driving all over town going to garage sale after garage sale every Friday and Saturday morning.

I feel so sorry for my mom. I put her through so much. I’m sure I complained a ton.

Fast forward to today, it’s Dan that is sighing every time I see a yard/garage/estate/moving sale sign.

Let’s stop!

Thrift stores are a recent love of mine. I truly thought nothing good came out of them until I started reading Young House Love and Bower Power.

Now I’m hooked. I want to decorate my house all beautiful and only spend $5!

Ok, maybe not that little but you gt my drift.

Here are some lovelies I’ve pick up at garage sales, thrift stores, and craigslist that I’m starting to work on. So exciting!

Chair – $10

Picture Frames – $2.75 for 7 frames

Side Table – $15

Lamp – $17 (This is actually from Home Goods, but it was on clearance!)

These are my latest projects! I’ll update as soon as their finished!

Some have already made some progress. Can anyone figure out what?

Fall is here!

Fall is here! Our local coffee shop, Fat Chix, has started offering their fabulous Chaiders. A Chaider is apple cider mixed with a Chai tea. Starbucks sells it to, but Fat Chix’s is WAY better. The season has begun.

I wanted to spruce up my front door for fall. My pink flowers are still blooming, but I decided they must go. (I would have just moved the pot, but I needed the dirt. I didn’t have any extra in the garage like I thought I did. Sorry flowers!)

I already had two pots from last year; so I planned to stop and pick up a couple mums at Home Depot or Meijer Saturday morning. I had been at Meijer for something else earlier in the week, and their selection was expensive and none too perky looking.

Look what I found at a roadside stand on the way home:

Aren’t they beautiful?

The price is even better. These large mums were only $4 each. $4!

Just one more reason I love West Michigan!

Here’s the new front door look.

Yay for fall!

Roasting a Pig

For our Pig Roast 2011, Dan (and I because I am wife and chief assistant in these ventures) decided to go all out with the pig roasting this year.

We have rented the pig roaster in years past. Renting a roaster is none too cheap, so this year we bought this much cheaper roaster on-line. It’s a charcoal roaster which appealed to Dan because the flavor of meat cooked over charcoal is just so much better, and the price of this roaster will redeem itself in 2 years.

The roaster is no where near the sturdiness of the iron (?) propane fed roasters we’ve rented in previous years, but the cost and better flavor were too tempting to pass up.

Note: The roaster was washed before we cooked the pig, and no Georges were harmed in the making of this pig.

Dan followed general plan for roasting our pig:

  1. Brine for 12 hours.
  2. Injecting and marinading for 12 hours.
  3. Roasting for 5-1/2 hours
  4. Coating with glaze then an additional 30 minutes to make the skin crispy.

His sources were the website for the roaster, La Caja China, and Adam Perry Lang’s Crispy Suckling Pig with Spicy Sweet-Sour Glaze.

First up the Mojo Marinade:

Since all of the instructions are listed on the website, I’ll just highlight how we did it.

40 Cloves of garlic. Do you know how many that is? A bazillion basically.

Grating the garlic…

**Safety Note: Wear gloves when shredding the garlic. Garlic can BURN your skin! How do we know, you might ask? Dan lost a layer of skin on his forefinger, thumb, and middle finger where he was holding the garlic. No joke. It is quite painful too. If you do get burned, hold the burned skin in yogurt or milk for 25 minutes. You will not start to feel relief until about minute 20. I’m so sorry if you’ve been through this, it is truly terrible. Ask Dan.**

Dan tackled the garlic, bless his heart fingers, while I made the rest of the marinade. I was finished long before he was. We are old school. We grated every single clove by hand.

Marinade ready to go!

If you read the instructions, you will see we were supposed to strain the marinade. We didn’t. It was chunky. It still tasted lovely.

Next up, homemade sauces!

We decided to make two homemade sauces this year. We were a little afraid that people wouldn’t like them, so we did put out one bottle of Sweet Baby Ray’s.

I was shocked when people deliberately ate the store-bought sauce instead of homemade. They didn’t even try the homemade! How do you know you don’t like it if you don’t try it? What is wrong with people these days? Are we so used to mass-produced products we cannot imagine the joys of homemade cooking? Can’t we live outside our comfort zone?

I digress. I live for new foods. I guess not everyone does. Their loss.

What were we doing? Right. Sauces.

We made two sauce from the Barbeque Bible: Mojo (Cuban Citris Garlic Sauce) and Honey-Pepper Barbeque Sauce.

Mojo (Cuban Citrus Garlic Sauce)

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 8 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced crosswise
  • 2/3 cup fresh sour orange juice or 1/2 cup fresh lime juice and 3 tablespoons fresh orange juice (We used Simply Orange juice)
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground oregano
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons coarse salt (kosher or sea), or more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more to taste
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro or flat-leaf parsley

Heat olive oil in deep sauce pan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook until fragrant and pale golden brown, 2-3 minutes. Stir in orange juice, water, cumin, oregano, salt, and pepper. Bring sauce to a rolling boil, correct the seasoning, adding salt and pepper if needed. Remove from heat, cool to room temperature then add cilantro or parsley.

Eat immediately or store covered in the refrigerator. Will keep for several weeks.

Honey-Pepper Barbeque Sauce

  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup diced green bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup diced yellow bell pepper
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 jalapeno chili, seeded and finely chopped (We, of course, left the seeds in!)
  • 1-1/2 cup ketchup
  • 3/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup 7up or Sprite
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar, or more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons apple juice
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • coarse salt (kosher or sea)

Pour honey into a saucepan. Add peppers, onion, and jalapeno and “saute” over medium heat until the peppers are soft and the onion translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the remaining ingredients and simmer the sauce, uncovered, until thick, 15 minutes. Transfer the sauce to a blender and puree until smooth. Correct the seasoning, adding salt, vinegar, or brown sugar if needed.

Use immediately or cover and store in the fridge. Will keep for several months.

With the sauces ready to go, Dan started the brine. Twelve hours of brine then twelve hours of marinade.

Here’s Wilbur ready to enter the roaster!

Starting the charcoal…

Now for hours of just chillin’ and watching the fire…

Thankfully, it was a beautiful night. Dan and my brother Zach stayed up all night to keep watch. In previous years we’ve been able to just check on the pig every 2 hours, but with the exposed coals, someone had to stay out in the driveway all night.

It’s all good though, at about 3am, Dan and Zach attacked a huge bee nest in one of the trees by the house. Those bees never knew what hit them. 🙂

After the glaze and 1/2 hour of more cooking in the roaster, Wilbur’s done! Isn’t he lovely?

There are lots of steps, but overall, not too difficult of a process. Although it is time consuming and sleep reducing process. 🙂

Pig Roast 2011

Early on in our marriage, I asked Dan if we could get married every year. I love having a party! Think about it: beautiful centerpieces, bite-size appetizers, tangy and sweet punch, light and fluffy cake, creamy frosting, chatting with friends and family, SEEING all my friends and familiy, etc.

Who wouldn’t want to do that every year?


Wait! Am I the only one? 🙂

Enter, The Pig Roast.

One month after moving into our first house, we hosted a pig roast/housewarming party/get-to-know-the-neighbors-party/etc. There were many purposes for that first pig roast.

Any wouldn’t you know? We LOVED it!

So the pig roast has become an annual tradition at our house. If we know you, you’re invited. It’s a blast, and this way, we don’t have to renew our vows every year. 🙂

Pig Roast 2011 was our fourth annual party, and I must say it gets better every year. The party plan is very simple: plenty of food, outdoor games, and people.

The menu is simple too:

  1. Pork (duh!)
  2. Fixings for BBQ sandwiches (buns, pepper-jack cheese, BBQ sauce, coleslaw (if I remember to make it.)
  3. Chips
  4. Chip dip of some kind (This year was queso dip)
  5. Veggie of some kind (Broccoli Salad)
  6. Fruit of some kind (Watermelon)
  7. Root Beer Keg
  8. Ice Cream
  9. Sangria
  10. Water

Easy as pie.

Dan went Chef Boyardee this year. He spent a LOT of time making our pork the best pork we’ve ever had. I’ll be posting recipes and how-to’s soon. It’s a process though, just to warn you.

I always end up with precious few pictures of the actual party. I’m way to busy gabbing. It’s true.

Here are the few we managed to get.

Two stinkin’ cute boys. Sons of our friends…don’t you just want to squeeze those cheeks?

Some friends on the back patio…

Play Kuub in the backyard. Truly a fun game, especially to the guys.

Three pictures. Sad isn’t it? I took more of the prep, but I wasn’t as busy then. 🙂

Ta-ta for now!

Pictures Re-sized

Sorry folks, I didn’t realize how enormous my pictures were. Dan told me he would have to open the blog then go do something else for a few minutes to wait for the pictures to load. Yikes!

I’ve re-sized all the pictures from previous posts. Let me know if they are still too big.

In other news, today is a project day. Dan and I have do not have any commitments today, yay!

No weddings, no parties, no one’s moving, no grocery shopping…no plans.

I’m so excited!

So today, I’m catching up on housework and finishing some projects that have been in the works for a few weeks, ummm, ok a few months. 🙂

I’ll post them here as soon as I can!

Have a lovely Saturday!

My Side of the Story – Part 2

The Beginning: November 12, 2009

It’s about 4:00pm, and I’m sitting at my desk as work. I’m counting down the minutes until I can leave.

A typical experience about that time every day!

I had just finished eating a banana when a piercing pain shot through my head. It felt like a knife had been stuck in the back, right of my head (side note: I’m very desensitized to the gory details of this experience. So sorry if anything is TMI!).

I gripped my desk and stared bug-eyed at my computer screen.

What is happening? My head HURTS!

I’m not sure what to do, and I can’t really think straight.

The pain must have triggered the “I’m sick” button in my brain because I got up and went to the bathroom. I sit down in the chair in the bathroom. Some senses come back to me.

What am I doing here? I’m not going to throw up. What good is the bathroom going to do?

I remember that Deb, the lady I carpool with, seems like the type to have a “pharmacy” at her desk. So I head in her direction.

This is just a headache. Maybe I have a migrane.

At Deb’s desk, she is concerned and wonders if we should head home early.

Nah, I’m fine. It’s almost time to go anyway.

I get some pain reliever and head back to my desk. Thirty minutes or so later, we head for home.

When I got home, I told Dan about the headache. He isn’t too concerned and neither am I. It’s just a headache, right?


Next: My Side of the Story – Part 3

My Side of the Story – Part 1

I published most of my story on my old blog, The Stooch Life. However, I missed some parts, and I never finished the story. So I’m going to dedicate my Friday posts to re-publishing and finishing my story.

My Side of the Story…

As the months pass from my AVM surgery, I find I am forgetting more and more of what happened. Not the big things, but lots of the little details. When I was in rehab, one of my assignments each night was to write to get my brain back in gear. My therapists recommended I journal about what I’d gone through in the last few weeks. Or write about anything else, just write!

Get that brain working again!

I started out strong journaling, but let’s all be honest here, I’m not much of a journalist (or a blogger!). I made it up to Thanksgiving Day, about 12 days into the ordeal. (Not long, I was in the hospital for 39 days.)

Fast forward to being discharged and back home, I have very much appreciated Luke and Lacey’s dedication to posting Dan’s updates about me throughout the hospitalization.

I don’t want to forget what I went through. Not in a masochistic or poor-me-victim-like way, but so that I can share my story with others. I look back over the ordeal and I see God’s hand at work in a mighty way. He spared me for a reason, and I don’t want to neglect remembering what he has done for me.

So I’m calling this “My Side of the Story…” because this may not be factually true. Once I was on heavy pain-relieving, coma-inducing meds, all kinds of crazy things seemed like reality. I forgot people I knew (Sorry, Mom!), saw Narnia-like creatures, found out I could fly (No, really! I could!), and so much more! I will do my best to point out those times I know I’m straying from reality (they might be obvious!), but hey, I still might not know them all!

So here goes…


Next: My Side of the Story – Part 2

Meet George

I’d like to introduce you to the cutest puppy in the world, George.

Truthfully, he’s not a puppy. He’s five, but his mis-proportioned head and paws make most people think he’s a puppy.

Also, according to Dan, he’s not cute. It must be a mother’s love because he’s the cutest schmuppy puppy I’ve ever seen!

He’s very obedient too.

Getting a pig’s ear…

We make him pose in many, many photoshoots.

In and on many different things.

May I get out of the box now?

May I get off the chair now?

What a dog! He puts up with so much…

What can I say? I’m just a proud momma. 🙂

Note: Dan does love this dog to death. He just acts like he doesn’t. Also, you are more than welcome to think your puppy is the cutest in the world. Really, aren’t they all??