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Ode To A Doughnut… March 26, 2009
I am going to get back to blogging and hopefully get back to my life. Looking at where I left off prior to the craziness of the past couple of months, I do believe that I was going to post the “Things that I Love About Springfield.” I will do that this weekend, but I made one glaring omission with my previous “Things that I Love About Detroit” entry. That thing is…. Dunkin Donuts!!!
I am so very glad that Dillons carries Dunkin Donuts coffee, but I do miss have the actual doughnuts themselves. In particular, I miss the peanut donut.
There is one Dunkin Donuts in Southern Missouri. It is located in Branson and is only open seasonally. If you ask for a peanut donut, you are bound to confuse the teenager working behind the counter because they don’t exist here. Last time I had to settle for a honey dipped chocolate donut. This is my second favorite, but ranks far behind the peanuty goodness of my #1 choice.
In Detroit, Dunkin Donuts is located just about everywhere. Even better, most of them have been combined with a Baskin Robbins franchise (also non-existent here). If you can’t find something to satisfy every member of the family at a Dunkin Donuts/ Baskin Robbins, then you probably just shouldn’t leave home.
I am also mourning the loss of the Dunkin Donuts/ Baskin Robbins that was closest to my parents home. If you needed proof that the economy is bad in Detroit, you don’t have to look any further than the closing of that storefront along with the closing of the Wendy’s next to it. Since when do fast food restaurants go out of business? Thankfully, there is a DD just a couple miles South of that now defunct locale. I will help them survive!
Here is a snapshot of the peanut donut that I took the last time I was home. Notice how it is cradled ever so gently by my #2, the chocolate honey-dipped. If you’ve ever wondered what heaven looks like, then look no further.
I am going to plagiarize! March 7, 2009
Some of you have asked for another Dad update, so I am literally copying and pasting what my sister wrote on Vinnie’s carepage. Yes, I am a bad person. At the same time, she is there and I am not, so I am going to guess that this is the most accurate information that you are going to get! (and she is a better writer than me.) Sorry Amy! Don’t sue me for royalties please. Here you go!
It’s been quite the busy week, with many ups and downs. First of all, Vinnie is doing great. He is feeling good and he and Erin both enjoyed the brief bit of springish weather that we had yesterday. It was so nice to hear kids running around outside and to open up the windows and let the breeze blow through the house. Yesterday was the end of the school marking period, so I’m hoping everyone’s report cards are going to be great. We have seen a lot of improvements in Vin’s reading skills and we’re hoping that his card will reflect this. His daily grades are a reflection of what is happening with his treatment. For example, last week he was on steroids and scored a 70% on his spelling test. This week he brought home a 100%! Steroids make it hard for him to think straight and he often says that his head hurts from thinking. I know I have mentioned this a million times, but I hate steroids. Erin did a power point presentation for her class yesterday on Marco Polo. Yes, I said power point! Thank goodness that she did the actual computer work at school, because if she needed help at home she would be in trouble. Maybe she can teach Steve and I to do a power point presentation. I remember that the first time I saw a computer in school was in junior high. The computer had Oregon Trail on it, and my friend Monique and I used to sweet talk our way out of French class every Friday to go play it (mais oui!). It would take 20 minutes for the game to load and was very simplistic, but we thought it was great. If we had seen a power point back then we probably would have passed out.
On to news about my dad. He was released from Oakwood Hospital yesterday, despite our trepidations about him going home too soon. The doctors wanted to release him on Thursday, but a very persistant nurse insisted he stay another night (thanks Stacey). The new theory by the doctors is that Dad has severe sleep apnea. They believe that he aspirates his own saliva into his lungs while sleeping, which in turn becomes pneumonia. Yet, this last hospital admission had nothing to do with pneumonia, he just stopped breathing. They also think this was due to the apnea. We took him right from the hospital to his regular doctor who thought the sleep apnea theory sounded plausible too. A bi-pap machine was delivered to their house yesterday for him to wear at night with oxygen. This machine will help to regulate his breathing while sleeping. He will be spending the night at the sleep clinic on Monday for a sleep study and will visit the pulmonologist on Wednesday. The doctors have also suggested that he have a neurological evaluation because he is still experiencing periods of confusion. He was weighed before he left at the hospital and we found out that he has lost over 20 pounds since his first hospital stay in December. The man weighs 157 pounds! When we were walking through the doctor’s office his pants kept slipping down because they are so huge on him now. My mom eventually walked behind him with her finger through his belt loop to hold them up until he could get back in his wheelchair. The good news is that he has been eating a little better in the last few days, so maybe we can get a few pounds back on him. Oh, I forgot to mention that they also did an endoscopy on him a few days ago and discovered that he has a small ulcer. They believe it may have developed as a result of all the trauma he has gone through in the last few months. The ulcer explained the blood they had found in his stomach fluids. It is so small that it had already stopped bleeding and will heal itself over.
Thanks for all the prayers for my dad, Vinnie and our whole family. It brings us great comfort to know that there are people who care about us and take the time to include us in their daily thoughts and prayers. Please continue to pray for my dad, Vin and all children with cancer, your prayers work wonders. In fact, if you could spare a few prayers for my friend Maureen’s sister Colleen, who is dealing with some nasty chemo right now, I would really appreciate it (Erin Go Bragh Maureen).
By the way, I know that Steve promised you a prize for the person who could guess what Vinnie’s steroid craving for the month was. A few people have mentioned the lack of response to their guess. You’ll have to take this up with him. What the “prize” is, I don’t know. All I know is that a promise of a prize was made and not delivered. Sounds like a scam to me.
Erinism: “Do you know why I don’t like history? Everything in it is so yesterday”
Introducing Leah Joy McCulloch! February 26, 2009
I just wanted to introduce everyone to the newest member of our family. Mick and I are the proud Aunt and Uncle of Leah Joy McCulloch. She was born on February 23 at 7:59 am and was 6 pounds, 4 ounces and was 20 inches long. She is a very lucky little girl because Brian and Allison are going to be amazing parents. She is the first grandchild on Mick’s side andwe are all very excited. Brian and Allison elected to be surprised with the sex of the baby and kept the name choices a secret. Needless to say we were all on the edge of our seats! Welcome Leah!
The McCulloch Family: Brian, Allison and Leah
Another Dad Update February 21, 2009
My oh my, so much has happened since Sunday! Some good, some bad, but all important.
Sunday night, after I placed my first “Dad post”, they were able to determine that he did not have Tuberculosis. Great news! This meant that he no longer needed to be in isolation. The doors were opened and all of us with the exception of Steve and Amy were able to go in without masks. We were supposed to get the results of 3 tests, but they considered 2 to be enough because for the second one they did a test that involved a complete wash of his lungs.
Unfortunately, while we got great news Sunday night, we also met the night nurse who I will just refer to as “Nurse X”. Up until our encounter with Nurse X, we had all been impressed by the care and attention that my father was receiving from the nursing staff in the ICU. They were all personable, knowledgeable and really bent over backwards to answer any questions or concerns that we had. As soon as Nurse X arrived, the mood shifted. She seemed almost annoyed to be there and was humorless at best. For example: My sister talked to her for a bit in the hallway and told her a little about my Dad. She mentioned the polio to him when telling her how he is a little resistant to the periodic process of suctioning his lungs because he had hated it so much as a child. Nurse X very snottily replied “Well, if he had it as a kid, it’s not like he remembers that!” He was 8 and spent 6 months in hospitals and nursing homes. Ummm… yeah, he probably remembers at least some of it, lady. (Not that she bothered to ask how old he was. This nurse should really drive down to Children’s Hospital and apply for a job. Watch out Sammy, I am sending her your way!) When Nurse X came to re-fill the bag attached to my Dad’s feeding tube with Jevity (like Ensure), my Mom cracked a joke and asked what flavor he would be having for dinner today. Nurse X rolled her eyes and said “He won’t taste it! It has to go over his taste buds in order for him to taste it!” No kidding lady? Really? He wouldn’t taste it entering through his nose? Wow, I had no idea. Anyway, I am not saying that you have to have a sense of humor, or even a good personality to be a nurse. I am saying that the above, in combination with a general bad attitude from Nurse X made us all feel very uneasy when we left that night. We all said it, and as it turns out, we were all warranted in feeling that way.
I am sure that I had mentioned that my Dad was going to be coming off of the ventilator on Monday morning. This was perfect, because I really wanted, needed actually, to see him off of it before I went home, and my plane reservation was for later Monday afternoon. My Mom called the hospital before we left that morning to see how my Dad was doing. I was sitting on the couch when she gasped, her eyes got as big as saucers and she uttered “WHAT DO YOU MEAN, HE PULLED IT OUT?!?”
Yes… at about 4 am, my Dad, to be specific, the sedated version of my Dad, completely removed his own ventilator!!! Now, you might be thinking “How the H-E- double hockey sticks does that happen Carrie? You aren’t supposed to be able to remove those!” Why, you would be correct! Ventilators actually have a balloon at the bottom of them that is inflated when someone is intubated. This should prevent anything like this from happening. Because my Dad was supposed to be coming off of the ventilator that morning, they decided to try to let him stay off. He couldn’t do it, because unfortunately, when you pull that up, complete with an inflated balloon, it can scratch up the windpipe and cause it to swell. His airway went from 6 cm to 2 cm. This is called Strider (though I am not all that sure that I am spelling it correctly.) They had to re-intubate him and put him on steroids to bring the swelling down. We were told that it would now be Wednesday at the earliest before they could try to take him off of the ventilator again. He was so miserable on it that it was just heartbreaking!!! My Mom was livid!
At this point, I called my supervisor and then United Airlines to change my flight to Friday afternoon. My boss was very understanding. United wasn’t. (As a customer service speaker once said with reference to United Airlines: “I’m really not trying to badmouth them. I’m just saying, let’s boycott them!) The person that I am most grateful to though, is Carla Stenger, who very graciously volunteered to cover a Relay Kickoff for me. She didn’t have to work that night, but did so that I could stay in Detroit. Gift suggestions for Carla are welcomed and encouraged because I owe her big time!!!
Back to Nurse X. You might be thinking that because my Dad pulled out his ventilator, that he actually extubated himself. Well, not really. I think that I put it in the first post, but my Dad was actually strapped down, wrists at his sides. This is because when you are slightly sedated, your natural tendency is to pull at IV’s, etc. that are making you uncomfortable. This is a universal truth and is the reason that the hospital had him strapped. Also, my Mom tightened the straps before we left because he had tried to pull at his cathetorearlier, so we know how he was left. So… if his wrists were strapped at his sides, how would he pull the ventilator out? The nurses unstrapped my Dads arms momentarily every time they came to turn him. All signs point to, Nurse X did not strapping him back down when she came in to turn him. Keep in mind that even if he had managed to loosen his straps a little bit, he would not have been able to bring his hands all the way up to his mouth and make a pulling motion. Bothof his arms would have to have been completely free to have the full range of motion to be able to do this. Because of this, my Dad would have to spend two more days on a breathing machine, which brings a whole new set of concerns with it.
When we got to the hospital, my Dad did not remember pulling the vent out. I was in the room when someone on the hospital staff walked in and asked “Did you hear what happened?” My Mom said “Yes.” My Dad turned to me and mouthed around the ventilator “What happened?” Needless to say, it was not fun to tell him that he would have to be on the ventilator for two more days. They had him sedated prettily heavily, so I think that we all had to tell him at some point and he looked crushed every time.
The next two days were upsetting because he was so agitated and uncomfortable. It was really hard for us because he still couldn’t write or communicate well and would get upset when we couldn’t understand what he needed. The worst part was that this was all preventable! I think that the cherry on top was when Monday night, Nurse X came to work (they very wisely reassinged her to another patient.) Unfortunately she decided to stop in our room anyway for a little CYA operation. I don’t think that my Mom noticed but I positioned myself between her and Nurse X out of fear that this would not be pretty. Nurse X in a tone suggestive of The funniest thing happened, said “Did you hear what happened last night? I told him, Mr. Walsh! Don’t do that again!” She had on what I call a plasti-smile. We didn’t smile. She left. I hope that we don’t see her again, or that the hospital gets wise and lets her go because the rest of the staff there really deserve a better and capable colleague.
I know that this is running long, so I will try to wrap it up. They were able to remove the ventilator on Wednesday which was great. My Dad could finally talk asked things such as “How long have I been here?” When he found out that he had been in the ICU alone for 6 days, he responded “Good God!” and shook his head in disbelief. The nurse that day made another mistake and removed his feeding tube as she was removing the ventilator. Long story short, they decided after removing the tube to give me Dad a swallowing test before he was allowed to eat or drink anything and after a day and a half without food or water, they had to put him back on the feeding tube because he failed the test.
Thursday night , he was moved out of the ICU and Friday morning was given a more in depth swallowing test which he also failed. This may also be attributed to being on the ventilator for too long (Thanks Nurse X!), paralysis from polio, or a combination of both. Monday, they will again, administer another swallowing test so please pray that he passes it because I don’t know what the consequences will be if he doesn’t. If there is permanent damage done from the incident on Monday morning, I really hate to think of what would happen!
I cried from the time I found out that my Dad was back in the hospital until I arrived in Detroit last Saturday. I stopped crying at that point because I didn’t feel quite as helpless. I also wanted to concentrate on my Mom. I was her self-appointed gatekeeper. Imagine that! On Thursday night, I had a bit of a breakdown because yes, my Dad was off of the ventilator, but I was going to be leaving my Mom with him still in the hospital. We were frustrated at his being moved to an area with less care and he was still showing a few signs of mental confusion. (Less so now, thank goodness!) It really killed me to be leaving her in that position. It would be so hard to leave the hospital and come home to an empty house and it really bothers me that this is the situation. Anyway, I had a little breakdown which ended with my Mom and I going to Big Boys to get a grilled cheese, salad and fries. Nothing seems to calm me down quite like greasy food and a heart to heart talk with my Mom.
Friday, United Airlines called to say that they were switching me to a direct flight on Northwest that would get me home an hour and a half earlier. I don’t get it, or how they were able to do this without charging me that pesky fee that they required when I switched my flight to Friday, but I was in no mood to argue because there are few things that I hate more than flying and this took out a layover. It also turned out to be a good thing because I was so tired when I got home that I started to fall asleep during dinner out with Mick. I had left my car back at his work, but we just went back to get my luggage and left the car there because I didn’t trust myself to drive the mile and half back home. I went to bed at 8:30 and wound up sleeping until 8:00 this morning. I can’t imagine how tired the rest of my family must be.
To top it all off, today is my Dad’s 67th birthday! I can’t believe that not only does he have to spend it in the hospital, but that he has to spend it with a feeding tube on. He has had lots of visitors and gifts which is good. If we can just get him to pass that swallowing test on Monday, there will be a great meal in his future!
Speaking of visitors… a special thank you to Jackie, who came to visit my Dad in the ICU on Thursday night. You truly made his day and he was still talking about it on Friday and showing off his frog balloon that you got him. Jackie is one of those special people that lights up a room when she walks into it, and the ICU was no exception. (And if any place would be an exception, it would be the ICU!) Thanks also to her new boyfriend Brian who came despite the fact that he had never met any of us. I don’t know you yet Brian, but I have come to some very favorable conclusions about your character! Sorry that my Dad was teasing you mercilessly. He has been a Jackie fan since we ran high school cross country together.
Finally, thank you to everyone for your endless prayers and thoughts. Please keep them coming.
Lots of Love, Carrie
(Whew! That word count was over 2200! No more of those, I promise!)
P.S. No, baby McCulloch didn’t come while I was home, but I will keep everyone posted!
My Dad February 15, 2009
First of all, thank you, thank you, thank you, to everyone that has e-mailed, called, texted, left Facebook messages, etc. It is true that until you are in a situation like this, you don’t really understand how gestures like can really make you feel supported. I truly appreciate it. I haven’t been able to get back to most of you because I have either been on a plane, in a hospital room, or my phone was dead. This is going to be long, but I am in a hospital waiting room right now, so please bear with me.
If you didn’t know, we almost lost my Dad in December when he caught just a mild case of pneumonia. While this would be fairly easy to treat with your average patient, my Dad is a different case. When he was a child, my father had polio and the result of this is that part of his respiratory system is paralyzed. Needless to say, any type of respiratory related problem is, and always will be, a major concern. This “mild case of pneumonia” actually put my Father in the ICU and I received a phone call with the message that “It did not look good.” To make a long story short, he did pull through; he was able to have a Christmas at home, and was also able to walk my new sister-in-law down the aisle last month. We were so grateful.
While he may have come home, I think that everyone in my family had noted definite differences in his behavior. We attributed it to recovering from everything that he had been through, but in recent weeks, his energy level has plummeted, as has his appetite. He has also been having trouble remembering simple things. On Monday, my Mom insisted that he go back to the doctor and thank goodness that she did. They ran a series of tests on him, and late that night, the doctor called my Mom to say that his sodium levels were so low that he needed to get to an Emergency Room ASAP. If you have never realized the importance that sodium plays in your body, you are about to get an education.
Tuesday morning my sister called to let me know what was going on. I was about to leave for Austin, Texas for a work training. I couldn’t decide if I should go or not, but my Mom and Amy assured me that this was not as bad as last time and that he was in no immediate danger. They were giving him sodium and they expected him to improve. After some tears and much indecision, (thanks for listening to me Kendra and Kim) I finally left for Texas. I regret that decision, but we will get to that later.
Wednesday included more tests. The doctors assured my Mom that they would not let my Dad go until they know exactly what caused the drop in his sodium. At this point, his levels had improved, so they decided to actually take him off of the sodium to see if he would retain those levels. They began to drop again, so it was clear that there was an issue that needed to be addressed. A CT scan was done of his lung, and “something” was found. Theories ranged from old scar tissue from the polio to lung cancer. The idea of something serious was scary, but then so was the idea of scar tissue because it would not explain the drop in sodium and that was what we were trying to correct.
On Thursday, I returned to Springfield, and things really began to take a turn. My sister went to the hospital in the morning to stay with my Dad and to give my Mom a break. A nurse rushed in and told my Dad that he would have to put a mask on immediately because one of the possibilities was now Tuberculosis and they were going to move him into isolation. This of course is not good news because of the polio. To make matters worse, the nurse told my sister that she needed to leave immediately because of my nephew Vinnie (who has Leukemia.) Amy asked if she could just stay until he was moved into the new room because my Mom was not there yet, and she was told that she needed to get away from him and get a tuberculosis test herself. (Which is more difficult than you might imagine, but that is another story.)
Tuberculosis is still one of the theories, but they are not certain that this is the only condition that is causing the drop in sodium. Another theory is that my Dad may have aspirated a piece of food which in turn is sitting in his lungs and is infected. This theory is completely plausible as my Dad chokes frequently. Yes, part of his swallowing mechanism is paralyzed too.
My Dad’s alertness was reduced greatly and my Mom says that he just stared at the ceiling. And now we get to the guilt portion of this story… I should not have gone to Austin. I should have gotten on a plane on Tuesday. The fact is that the only two (of five) siblings that still live in Detroit are Amy and Mike. Amy of course, was not allowed anywhere near my Dad and Mike was in Ohio going through the 10 day training for my niece to receive a service dog. Basically, my parents have 5 kids and not one of them was there when this was happening. Thank God for aunts and uncles because it really bothers me to think that my Mom could have been completely alone during this.
What finally convinced me to go home was when on Friday, I talked to my Mom and found out that the sodium levels were getting so low that they were taking him to the ICU, but on the way were stopping to do a CT scan of his brain to make sure that the lack of sodium had not caused his brain to swell. Apparently, a lack of sodium to this degree can cause brain damage. Additionally, they needed to monitor him because they were going to give him very concentrated levels of sodium which could also cause brain or heart damage if administered incorrectly. (My Dad was also incoherent at this point and didn’t know who my Mom was.)
I had just reached one of my communities an hour and a half from home to have a Relay Kickoff when I got this call. I was already planning to tell my Volunteer Event Chair what was going on because I was a little distracted, and… touchy. Upon getting this information though, I let her know the situation and quickly got on the phone. I was not the best staff person because I kept ducking out of the Kickoff to talk to Mick and family members. By the end of the event though, Mick had scheduled a flight for 6 am Saturday morning and rented a car. I think that they understood.
I got to the hospital at about 2:00 yesterday and it was shocking to see my Dad in isolation in the ICU. I was not here in December, so this was my first time seeing him in this type of environment. I don’t know that I have seen so many monitors and tubes surrounding a person and I find it disturbing that they have him on a ventilator. In order to go in the room, you first have to enter a prep area to put on a mask. Amy and her husband Steve are allowed to view my Dad through a window and even though they are outside of the room, they are required to wear a mask as well. They just can’t risk their bringing something home to Vinnie.
When I first got there yesterday, my Dad would not respond to my Mom at all, but I am happy to report that by last night he was able to half open his eyes and nod yes or no slightly. They had also suctioned something out of his lungs that indicated that he does indeed have an infection. This supports the food aspiration theory. Apparently it is a very strong infection because as soon as they put it in a dish, it expanded. This morning we found him to be far more responsive. He was moving his legs and tried to write a note. It was unreadable, but it is progress. His arms are restrained because his natural tendency is to grab at his various IV’s when he can. His sodium levels are improving as well, which is very good.
I am scheduled to leave tomorrow afternoon, but there are three things that I would like to see happen before I go: I would like to see him off of the ventilator, because frankly it just freaks me out. (Pardon the phrasing.) I would like to see his blood pressure stabilize and I would like them to determine for sure whether or not he has TB. We thought that they were going to try to take him off of the ventilator today, but they decided to wait one more day. I know that he is really uncomfortable. His blood pressure has been low and while I don’t fully understand the consequences of this, I can see that it is upsetting my Mom. I would like to leave her in a good place. Finally, he must clear three TB tests before they are comfortable enough to say that he does not have it. So far, he has cleared one and we are waiting on the results of the other two.
Our time at the hospital has been interesting. It is in the heart of downtown Detroit and as you can imagine, this hospital experiences a little bit of everything. When I got here yesterday I arrived to security breaking up a fight in the hallway. Yes… in the hallway… of the ICU… There are lots of other interesting people here, but I might save those experiences for another post.
The experience of having a sick parent is frightening and reassuring in a very odd way. I do not mean to say that this is a good thing; I mean to say that you can witness some very good things while it is happening. Last night my we went to get a pizza and came home to find some old neighbors in the house with my Mom. They showed up with lasagna, a huge pot of soup, croissants and a big Jewish coffee cake. When they came and found no one home, they walked to another neighbors to get a spare key and just decided to load up the house. My Mom came home to find them in there. Don’t worry. It’s cool. I grew up in a really awesome neighborhood.
I have also been able to experience the strong bond between my parents. I arrived to find my Mom leaning over my Dads bed and talking to him even though he was not responding. She leaves his side only in small doses and is forever watching him. We always want to believe that our parents love each other and what I have been able to witness is the very real love that they share. As I mentioned, last night he was really only able to nod a little bit, but when we were getting to leave, my Mom leaned over and told him that she loved him. Somehow he got his hand out from under the blanket and tried to hold hers.
So that’s all I am going to write. Believe it or not, this is really a summary of everything. I know that I am leaving things out, messing up terminology, etc., but you will have to forgive me. Please continue to pray for our family. I would really like to see my Dad get out of here as soon as he can. Thank you everyone!
P.S. Brian and Allison, If you could have my new little niece or nephew before tomorrow morning, it would make this trip much better. No pressure! J
Things That I Miss About Detroit… February 9, 2009
(This is a view of Detroit from Windsor, Canada)
It may seem to my Springfield “crew” that I am a bit too attached to the Motor City (or Hockeytown depending on your preference). After all, I cannot deny that it is a tad bit more violent and a teeny bit less friendly at first glance, than Springfield. I talk about Detroit constantly and often wonder if I am merely annoying those around me when I reminisce about this or that. The truth is that I have grown to really love Springfield as well, so I assure you Springfieldians that a list of “Things that I love about Springfield” is soon to follow. It is amazing that while in Springfield I refer to Detroit as “back home”, but the second that I cross the Michigan line, Springfield takes on that title. (I’m torn.) So here we go…
1. Family and friends. ..Of course!
Friends are actually starting to feel like a stretch when talking about home because I think that about 80% of them have plans to move out of the state, if they haven’t already. To be more accurate, the state of the economy is going to move them out. My friends in Michigan seem to know me as well as I know myself. Some of them have trudged through an all-girls education with me. (An experience that forever binds people.) Some have survived the college years with me, and some I was blessed to meet afterwards. In any case, I think that my friends are a very ecclectic and good hearted bunch. I miss their company, advice, (and running partnership!), but am so glad that distance has not robbed our friendship of us.
To say I love my family would not be accurate. I am crazy about them! They are a truly unique group of people. I have always had an inkling that we were not your average family, but this idea has really been reinforced lately. My parents did an amazing job in ensuring that their children felt like individuals. I don’t imagine this to be an easy task given that there were five of us. Never the less, we were all able to indulge in our own interests and we were taught to support eachothers interests as well. I don’t know how my parents did it, but we rarely, if ever, fought. Now we have in-laws that are a perfect fit as well as a new generation of kids that are too cool to capture in a blog. (P.S. For those of you that don’t know, I am going to be an aunt again at some point in the next week and half or so! My sister-in-law Allison and brother-in-law Brian are expecting and are going to be awesome parents!)
Rather than post photos, I am attaching two links to photos from my brother Joe’s wedding. Because they actually include my WHOLE family! As in, my wonderful new sister-in-law Nhung is in them. If it prompts you for a password, it is: walsh
2. Costco, Trader Joe’s, IKEA and a Target on every corner.
Let us start with Costco… “Now Carrie” you might say, “Springfield has a Sam’s Club. There is no difference.” My response? Not true! According to an article from the Detroit News a few years back, Costco is undeniably the superior store. They looked at the products of the two chains, and the quality of Costco products ranked far higher than those of Sam’s, yet the prices were virtually idenitcal. This is amazing being that Costco pays their employee’s on average 40% more than Sams and gives them health insurance. (Making it the moral choice as well!) The CEO gave himself a salary cap right off the bat, answers his own phone and is a bit of a celebrity amongst Costco employee’s. They never advertise because the theory is that if you treat your employee’s well, they will spread the word for you. Indeed, the Costco that I go to has had the same employees for the past 10 years or so. Their bakery is awesome and my brother actually had his wedding cupcakes from there. Plus, Sam’s has poor lighting, making it a depressing shopping experience anyway. (That being said, I might break and get the Sams membership eventually. Grrr…) By the way, this is not to say that Detroit does not have Sams Club, it is just to say that Costco is not an option since I moved.
Trader Joe’s is my grocery store of choice when I am in Detroit. I am able to get unique items at a low cost, and again, they give their employee’s health insurance. (Are you sensing a theme here?) It is also a fun atmostphere. If you go, get the 99 cent flax seed pasta, the 73% dark chocolate, any of their frozen items or of course, the 3 Buck Chuck! You won’t regret it!
IKEA opened shortly before I left Michigan. Quite frankly, it felt like a cruel joke. As time has passed, however, I realize that it is best that I do not actually live near an IKEA. I wouldn’t have a paycheck left. If you were to stroll through my house right now, you would see that almost all of my lighting fixtures are from this gem of a mega-store. I have also gotten lamps, chairs and tons of kitchen items at a fraction of what I would have paid elsewhere. This is all without living near one.
A Target on every corner… enough said! I find it intersting that Wal-Mart finally entered the Dearborn area just this past year and immediately targeted the arabic population. For some reason I can’t find halal meat in the Springfield store!
3. THE FOOD!!!
Dearborn in particular is chocked full of my favorite cuisine… arabic food! I used to eat it at least twice a week. It is healthy, delicious and often cheap. I couldn’t tell you how many arabic restaurants there are in Dearborn, but my favorite is La Pita (since LaShish was shut down for funneling money to terrorists or something to that effect). I also love the Shatilla bakery which is half Middle-eastern pastries and half French, but all delicious! Above I have put photos of two of my favorite dishes: Mjadra and garlic sauce! The Mjadra is quite literally a dish of lentils with a very nutty flavor, topped with carmelized onions. The garlic sauce is comprised of… roasted garlic! (Creamed with a little olive oil for good measure.) I love it on anything and everything. When I was home in November, my friend Sarah and I ate large quantities of it and then hit the gym. I sincerely hope that we didn’t offend anyone.
(This is the mosque that was down the road from my last apartment. It is huge!)
Detroit also has: a Mexican district, a Greek district, a Polish district and amazingly good Chinese food. Springfield definitely beats the pants off of Detroit in a few areas with regards to dining (to be discussed in a future post), but cannot touch Detroit with Mexican or Chinese food…Well… Middle-Eastern or Polish either. I am a firm believer that Mexican food should never ever involve the use of American cheese! (Don’t kill me Tammy!) 🙂
I am a museum junkie. There are few things that I would rather do than walk a gallery and look at art, or wander through a history exhibit. Above is a photo of the Henry Ford Museum where I worked for 5 years. (Yes, Henry Ford modeled it to look like Constitution Hall.) I worked in the large outdoor area known as Greenfield Village that is just adjacent to this building. Greenfield Village was a collection of 80+ buildings that Henry Ford purchased and moved to the property based upon his interests. Basically, if Henry Ford liked you, he might snatch up a building, or several that had some significance in your life. Buildings included: The entire Menlo Park and boarding house where Thomas Edison invented the lightbulb; The birthplace of Harvey Firestone, founder of the Firestone tire company; The bicycle shop and birthplace of the Wright brothers; a courthouse where Lincoln practiced; the home of Noah Webster, where he wrote the first American dictionary, among others. Within the enclosed Henry Ford museum, you will find the chair that Lincoln was shot in (No it did not stay in the theater), the car that Kennedy was shot in (post Henry Ford purchase), the bus that Rosa Parks took a stand in, and an entire Buckminster Fuller house, etc.
Detroit also has a world class Art museum (www.dia.org) complete with an entire hall painted by Diego Rivera, a great history museum (which is borderline closing the last I had heard), an African American museum and Cranbrook, an independent campus full of art and interesting architecture.
Well, my word count is about to hit 1500, so I am going to stop here. Detroit, for the bad rap it gets, is really a wonderful, culturally diverse and rich city. It is also quite safe despite what you may have heard. If you ever have a chance to visit it yourself, please do! Also, Detroiters, don’t hesitate to add your two cents! I know that I can’t cover it all! Again, next up…Things that I LOVE about Springfield!