life

Tampa Family Beach Vacation 2018

Two weeks ago, in early August, we traveled to Tampa to spend some time with the Daigneault family. Here’s what we did:


Saturday, August 4, 2018:

We picked up Melissa’s Nana and her boyfriend, Jerry, and went to Tampa’s famous La Teresita for a Cuban breakfast. We sat in the cafeteria, and made sure to get our cafe con leche with buttered and pressed Cuban bread. The best part about this is dipping your bread in your coffee!

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Next, we went and saw Joey’s parents at the new Pach’s Place location inside the Tahitian Inn. Pach’s original location recently closed, and it was a favorite of The Neeley Family. Everything here looked great, but we were too full from our first breakfast, so we just got more coffee.

Next, we hit the road to Madeira Beach! Our condo wasn’t quite ready, so we killed some time at John’s Pass. We were still full from breakfast, but Melissa’s parents wanted lunch, so we stopped in Beach Bites Cafe, where they ordered specialty hot dogs.

After lunch, the condo was ready. We found a great one on AirBnb. Check it out here. This was our view from our balcony:

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From there, we got a few nice hours on the beach before Melissa’s sister, Andrea, and her boyfriend, Jordan, arrived. We wrapped up our beach outing, and headed for dinner. For dinner, we went to Angry Pepper, where we both got fried shrimp baskets.

After dinner, we all went onto the balcony, where enjoyed our first sunset.

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Melissa Side Note: Here’s a fun one of Joey making a face while I was using him as a subject to show my mom how to use the portrait feature on her iPhone:

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Sunday, August 5, 2018:

On Sunday, we spent as much time at the beach as we could. We may have gotten a little burnt, but it was worth being able to soak up all that sun.

 

For dinner, we tried to go to VIP Lounge & Mexican Restaurant, which is a restaurant Melissa’s parents recently found on their last beach trip. However, Mother Nature decided it wasn’t the right night. The wait was an hour, and it started to storm. We tried to wait it out in our car, but VIP ended up losing power. We decided to leave and eat at the condo. We’re glad we did, because VIP’s power didn’t come back on for 2.5 hours.

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There was no sunset this night, but we stayed up playing Yahtzee and Rummy, while drinking my mom’s famous slush recipe, which you can find here.


Monday, August 6, 2018:

For breakfast, we decided we wanted to go to the Daigneault’s favorite breakfast place, The Frog Pond. Every summer, Melissa’s family would vacation at the beach. After checking out, they would walk on over to The Frog Pond. They’re known for their incredible omelettes.

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Melissa’s Krab & Cream Cheese Omelette

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After The Frog Pond, we spent a lot of time on the beach. We headed up a bit earlier than our family to work on some laundry. That way, we didn’t have to take home sandy clothes and wet bathing suits. Although our skin probably needed the break!

Next, we tried VIP Lounge & Mexican Restaurant again, and we made it inside!

 

It was delicious, even for us Texans who eat Mexican food on the reg! We went home to play more Yahtzee, and called it a night early. We had to wake up to catch a 6:25 a.m. flight on Tuesday morning.


Thanks for a great trip, Daigneault family!

dogs, life

TPLO Surgery Update

It’s been two weeks since we last posted. So much has happened. We’re excited to get back to our regular posting schedule, but wanted to give you an update on our sweet pup first.


Side note: Thank you to all who contributed to our GoFundMe page. You raised $480 in three days, which helped put us in a better position to pull the trigger on Regal’s TPLO surgery. We can never repay you for your generosity, but we hope you enjoyed the cute Polaroids Regal shot for you. Thank you so much!

Monday, July 30, 2018: Consult With Sugar Land Veterinary Specialists

If were weren’t down on our luck enough, we had some trouble with our first orthopedic consult where we first discovered Regal’s ACL was torn. The first place (Gulf Cost Veterinary Specialists) wanted to charge us more than what a typical TPLO costs ($2,000 more), because they only do a fancy, unnecessary procedure in conjunction with the TPLO surgery. They didn’t tell us that there were other, just-as-effective, and less expensive options, which is what ultimately made us the most upset.

But after talking with Sugar Land Veterinary Specialists on the phone, we knew this would be the right fit for us. Joey took Regal to his consult appointment. On just three legs, Regal limped in, acting as a ham, per the usual. He received lots of pets and was a champ! He handled the poking and prodding and didn’t become upset until he was back in his room after the exam. The orthopedic surgeon team there confirmed he did tear his ACL, and Regal needed the TPLO surgery. Luckily, they had an appointment open for the next day.

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Regal at his consult appointment at Sugar Land Veterinary Specialists

Monday night was rough, because you continually have these thoughts that it might be the end of the road for you and your best friend. Also, instead of being able to just lay around and snuggle, we had to give Regal an anti-septic bath. Regal hates baths, and to make matters worse, you have to leave this special soap on for 10 minutes before rinsing. The poor guy couldn’t even rush to his favorite part of bath time, which is toweling off. He was mad at us the rest of the night, which made Melissa even more emotional.


Tuesday, July 31, 2018: Regal’s Surgery

We woke up bright and early to try and ensure Regal was the first surgery of the day. There are no guarantees, but we dropped him off as early as we could at 7:00 a.m. When dropping him off, the surgical team sat down with us and walked us through what to expect. We handed over some food and treats, and then, handed over Regal. That’s when the pit in Melissa’s stomach started.

Around 10:30 a.m., the surgical team said Regal was prepped and ready for surgery. They were waiting for the anesthesia to kick in to take him for updated radio-graphs and  surgery. This is when Melissa’s stomach pit grew larger, and she could feel it in the back of her throat until she received the next call…

At about 2:00 p.m., the wonderful Dr. Bubenik called to say Regal was out of surgery. The surgery had gone great, but they did find that Regal had also torn his meniscus. They were forced to remove part of that tissue too. But she expected Regal would still make a full recovery. Melissa’s pit returned to stomach only.

At 4:00 p.m., the surgical team called to tell us Regal was awake. They were letting him slowly wake up and rest, but they were going to try to get him to eat and go on a walk soon. They said at around 8:00 p.m. they would send us a picture update.

These are the pictures Sugar Land Veterinary Specialists sent us that night (aka Regal on drugs):

Wednesday, August 1, 2018: Reunited With Regal

Although knowing Regal was doing OK, it was still hard to sleep well Tuesday night. When we woke up on Wednesday morning, the surgical team called to setup a pickup time. We landed on 4:00 p.m. When we arrived, we spent about 45 minutes talking with Linda (She is so great!) about post-operation procedures for Regal.

We learned our new, daily routine for the next 6+ weeks will look like this:

  • Warm compress for 10 minutes.
  • Walk on leash for 10 minutes.
  • Physical therapy exercise one: Knee Flexion and Extension
  • Physical therapy exercise two: Weight Shifting (Side-To-Side)
  • Cold compress for 10 minutes.
  • Administer 4-6 pills.
  • Feed boiled chicken to ensure there’s food in the belly.
  • Repeat 1-2 more times per day.

I’m not sure we knew what we were getting ourselves into. After being a little overwhelmed by PT exercises, we were finally reunited with Bubba:

It made our new daily routine seem worth it. That’s when the pit in Melissa’s stomach finally went away.


Post-Operation Regal

Since Regal’s surgery on August 1st, he has been doing great, but only because of some very special people:

  • The team at Sugar Land Veterinary Specialists: Thank you for walking us through everything to expect. You recognize our pets are our children, and our concern runs deep. The detail you put into your work eased us during an incredibly “ruff” time, and we couldn’t be more thankful for the step-by-step instructions and videos.
  • Meredith and Colton Beall: Thank you for taking over post-operative duties while we traveled to see our family on a nonrefundable trip. We could never repay you for showing up for us and our little champ. (Sorry he hated taking his pills.)
  • Our friends and family: Thank you for continually checking in. We appreciate getting to tell you how Regal is, because it reminds us that he is going to be just fine.
  • Supporters: An additional thanks to those who helped make this surgery possible. Without you, we would be a lot more stressed.
  • Olivia Craig: For sending us cupcakes and pupcakes from Sprinkles. You made us feel a little bit sweeter about the situation we were in.

Regal still has a long road to recovery, with a follow-up Monday, and another check-up in four weeks – but from what we can see, he is going to make a full recovery, and be able to live a normal, active, playful life again soon. Now, if only we could get him to take his pills more easily. <Insert frustrated because our dog is stubborn faces here.>

Our post-surgery pup, Regal, and delicious cupcakes and pupcakes thanks to our sweet friend, Olivia.

 

dogs, life

Bad Luck Comes In Threes

There is an old saying that bad luck comes in threes, and let us tell you, it hit us hard recently. It’s why we haven’t been as active as we would have liked to be on here – especially this past week.

We encourage you to lean in, learn more, and maybe even help us conquer this bad luck curse.


Floating On Air

Do you ever feel like you’re floating on air? Like everything is going your way? But you try to remain humble about it all? Because well, you know, Karma’s a bitch?

All we try to do is put out positivity, and hope it comes back to us. It typically works until God decides we left Earth for a little too long, and He doesn’t want us just floating any longer.

Everything was going great here! I mean we recently launched this blog to share our love for life, eats, and dogs. We got people interested in writing for our page. We gained followers in family, friends, and strangers.

And then, our bad luck curse hit…


Bad Luck #1

About four weeks ago, Joey was on his way home from a Houston Astros baseball game. Despite being a year to Houston, Joey hasn’t spent much time navigating downtown. Being a later workday than normal, Joey switched his brain to autopilot and followed the car in front of him turning left on a one-way downtown street. Unfortunately, Joey missed his red light, and side swiped a car coming through the intersection on their green.

Thankfully, no one was injured. But “Big Red,” Joey’s 2003 Nissan X-Terra was totaled. And just for that, this day will forever live in infamy.

Joey takes full responsibility for this accident, but it meant we had to purchase a new car. Not knowing what our bad luck fate held, we opted to get Joey what he really wanted (and what was practical for us), since he had been driving a 15-year-old car. “Big Red” had her learner’s permit for goodness sake! We ended up buying a 2017 Toyota 4Runner with 30k miles through Hertz Auto Sales. We were hoping to write a blog on our shopping experience with them, but our bad luck continued…


Bad Luck #2

As everyone knows by now, when it rains in Houston, it pours.

We feel so blessed to have survived Hurricane Harvey with no damage to the house we had only bought and moved into two months before the storm decided to camp itself over our town. We watched as water creeped about five feet from our house, and then quickly and luckily receded through the baby canals on our street. Although we were on an island for a week, we were so much better off than so many others.

We felt like we really needed to say that before we complained about our Bad Luck #2.

Since Melissa has lived here, Houston has had Memorial Day flooding and Tax Day flooding, which our little 1950s house has survived. However, most recently, during the Independence Day flooding (PSA – Dear Houston, you need to stop celebrating holidays with floods.), our 1950s home had endured too much.

As the rain came in sheets, and Fourth of July parades were canceled, we noticed our dining room ceiling showed a little leak, while our kitchen ceiling revealed a substantial leak. We were able to get to the leak in the dining room and put a bucket under the drip, but the leak dripping into the kitchen ceiling was unreachable. The water continued to spread across the room. Thankfully, Joey thought to poke holes where the water was sitting and moving to, which allowed the water to drain out of our ceiling.

What was supposed to be a day spent on the Big Green Egg was spent talking to our insurance company, inquiring with emergency roofing companies, and asking around for recommendations. Luckily, the rain subsided (and still hasn’t really returned since that day), which has allowed us to fix our roof and ceiling.

We thought this would be our last headache, but we had obviously forgotten about the bad luck curse, and the worst of our bad luck hit us very hard…


Bad Luck #3

One of our last posts was on Regal – about a small limp and a recent trip to the vet. We wish we had better news to tell you, but we’ll just spit it out: Regal tore his ACL and needs surgery.

<Insert picture of Melissa ugly sobbing.>

To make a long story longer, about three weeks ago, we noticed Regal, had a small limp. We took him to our vet, where he was put on an anti-inflammatory and advised to rest. We followed the vet’s directions, but Melissa left town for a trip. When she came home a few days later, Regal was so excited to see his mom that he over exerted himself, and all of a sudden lost all mobility in one of his hind legs!

We immediately rushed him to have X-Rays done, and we were referred to an orthopedic surgeon. The orthopedic surgeon said Regal had fully torn his ACL, and he was recommending TPLO surgery. TPLO, or tibial-plateau-leveling osteotomy, is a surgery performed on dogs to stabilize the stifle joint after ruptures of the cranial cruciate ligament (ACL). Although there are other surgical options other than a TPLO that are less expensive, for a young active dog like Regal, a TPLO is usually the gold standard treatment with quickest return to normal function.

For those of you who don’t know him, Regal is happiest when he’s running through the dog park, chasing balls across the yard, swimming in the lake, rolling in the grass, and sprawled across the couch with his head in your lap. Without this surgery, Regal may never get to experience his favorite things in the same way again. And that breaks our heart.

Regal at the orthopedic surgeon’s office being a champ.

This leads us to an ask for help we never wanted to make, but feel like we have to, because every little bit helps…

Although we know there’s so many worthy causes out there to support, we’d love for you to consider supporting Regal and us through our GoFundMe page. We feel silly even asking, because typically we’re asking you to support foster care and adoption, which makes a difference for so many at-risk children. But as newlyweds with bad luck hitting them with the curse of threes, we’re left in a less than ideal financial situation.

We’ve decided to cancel our 1-year anniversary trip to pay for half of the $5,000 surgery, but we are hoping some generous friends, family members, and strangers will help to pitch in for Regal and for us. Every little bit helps!

We won’t ask anymore than this, but please consider donating to our page here. Thanks for considering!


In Summary

The saying is true… Bad luck does come in threes.

And although that bad luck caused our wallets to be empty, our glasses are still very full. As newlyweds out to conquer the world, we are grateful to have each other, you, and this platform to share our lives. We promise there is a lot less complaining to come, more Big Green Egg recipes, and updates on our champ, Regal.

Love,

Melissa & Joey

life

Our Prime Day Buy

We’re really excited about our Prime Day purchase this year: Two DNA testing kits.

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Originally $199 per “Ancestry + Health” kit, we got them for $99 on Prime Day!

It looks like 23andMe is continuing to run a sale, offering these kits at $139 currently. Check it out here. We encourage you to take this journey with us!

Or you can wait and see what we think! Although, we might have a biased opinion since Melissa is adopted… She’ll be excited to learn about anything!

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Melissa when we get the results.

Either way, we’re excited to learn more about where we came from, and what we can learn from our genes. We’ll know more in six to eight weeks!

life

Maine Family Vacation 2018

A Post From Joey

Boothbay Harbor, Maine

This past June we took a trip with my sister and parents to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary, which was also Melissa’s first trip to Maine! You might be thinking, “How was Maine picked for the family trip?” Well, this is where my parents went on their honeymoon and a place that our family would vacation to growing up, so it’s a special getaway for my family. Being from Florida, and now living in Texas, escaping to the northeast during the summer is also a very nice change in weather considering temperatures were knocking on the door at 100 degrees the day we left.

When we go to Maine, we typically stay in the Boothbay Harbor area. While we are there, we each have our favorite places and activities to explore, as well as adding new adventures to our memories. I decided to keep this simple and make a quick list of my  activities and places we ate at on this trip in hopes this could be a rough road map for anyone who might take the same adventure. Enjoy!

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Favorite Excursions/Activities


Favorite Eats & Treats


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Meet Joey

13239159_10154231323986289_8593389871700676034_n“All Risks, this is Joe” is how you will know me if you call during the work week.  I work for a wholesale commercial insurance broker here in Texas and I know that just went over about 97% of your heads or you just stopped reading.  If you want to know more about what I do, stay tuned for future posts because it’s a pretty cool job but I won’t try to explain it here.  As someone who can only sit still for about an hour max before I get antsy, you will most likely to find me doing something that involves working with my hands and outdoors. On the weekends I will be up early to enjoy what I call my “me time” which involves drinking coffee on the couch while reading a book or watching TV while mentally planning out my day/how I can end up cooking on the Big Green Egg.  My closest friends know me as being ambitious, loyal and very sassy/snarky, and I hope you get to experience some of that along this journey. Learn more about Joey here.