Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The truth about it all~

This is a post to share the details of my decision to have breast reduction surgery.  I have written it in response to the multiple private FB and e mail messages I have recieved from women with questions about my decision and my experience so far.
You can probably imagine that telling people you're having a breast reduction is, well, awkward.  I felt it easiest just to put it out there.  After all, leaving in a HH bra and returning in a C cup is bound to be noticed. And certainly, I did not want folks to draw the conclusion that I was unwell.  Immediately following my October consultation, I started sharing my decision.  Everyone was kind and encouraging.  Not surprisingly, there were a few people that couldn't understand  why in the world I would want smaller breasts.  After all, large breasts are the cultural standard of beauty and sexiness, right?  Some even went so far as to warn me not to go "too small."
For those of you considering this surgery or just curious about my decision, allow me to share a little insight. 
Large breasts are heavy.  I don't know the final numbers of my surgery but the expectation pre surgery was a minimum of three-four pounds of tissue was to be removed from each breast.  If this doesn't seem significant, a gallon of milk weighs about eight pounds.  Carry a gallon of milk with you 24 hours a day and let me know when it gets tiresome.  For me, thirty years was the moment when I was ready to put that gallon of milk down. 
Large breasts cause physical issues.  I had a constant back ache in my mid back, between my shoulder blades.  If I had a particularly tiring day, I would put three pillows on my bed and lie on my back with my head hanging down to realign my spine and relieve the pain of the forward arching pressure.  I have "trenches" in both of my shoulders from bra straps that may never go away entirely.  Even drawing a deep breath was difficult.
Large breasts can cause skin issues.  Regardless of your weight (I am 5'5" and have been as small as a size 8,) larger breasts will rest on your upper abdomen and cause skin irritation if you are not vigilant.  On warm days, I have used deodorant under my breasts to control the moisture.  Every day I would use talcum powder.  After a day outside in the summer heat, I have had to apply Desitin under my breasts to relieve heat rash. 
Large breasts are inconvenient!  With two adult sons, I could not go without a bra in my own home.  If someone was at the door and I was in pajamas, I had to quickly put on a bra to answer it.  I wear a size 16 jeans but prior to my surgery, had to wear an XXL or size 18/20 top because of my bust.  Bras were not available in most stores so had to be ordered online for about $75/each.  Bathing suits were out of the question.  Even having purchased one for over $100, I didn't feel comfortable in it.  Button up blouses are always a gamble regardless of how large the size because my bust would pop the buttons so I would hand sew the button holes shut over my chest. 
I don't particularly enjoy sharing the often humiliating aspects of my presurgical self, but I do think it's information that needs sharing.  These are just a few of the daily problems I encountered.  While I'm not at all offended by the joking that surrounds this topic, there is a serious side to the issue as well. 
Regarding the warning, "'Don't go too small!"  Believe me, this was a concern.  I wanted to feel feminine and womanly.  In order for insurance to pay for the surgery, there is a minimum amount of tissue that must be removed so I didn't have the option of saying, "Make me a D cup please!"  The surgeon asked me what I was hoping for before the operation and I said a D or a C and he promised to do his best.  But I had to decide if it was right down to it, was I willing to be a size B or would I prefer to remain in that HH?  My decision was, make me a B cup.  Yup, it would be too small and completely change my body image.  Although I am not yet healed and don't know what my final bra size will be, I believe I will be a C or a D.  And I'm relieved that I didn't end up smaller.  That said, having lived for so many years with the problems I've shared here, and some I haven't, I would rather be flat chested.  That's my opinion and not one I'm trying to spread to everyone.  Maybe you are large busted and love love love it.  Good for you!  As long as you are comfortable and well inside your body, I say you go girl!
As for me, I still see healing incisions when I look in the mirror.  There is nothing pretty about my breasts at the moment.  Every day I take my surgical bra off for one hour and stand in the bathroom with a magnifying mirror trying to see every inch of incision praying that the lines are not pulling apart and there is no nasty discharge or redness indicating infection.  My incisions start at the middle of my chest, go up and around my nipples (which were reconstructed and moved) and wrap around my sides to behind my armpits. Over time I will have less swelling under my arms and the incisions will become scars.  The scars will fade and I will have to decide whether or not to have the second scar revision surgery that is the norm.  My chest hurts and the tightness of the compression bra irritates my skin (sports bras this week!)  I have limited range of motion in my arms, especially my left and there are faint bruises still lingering across the top of my chests and both of my shoulders.  I will be living in low pony tails for a while because I can't hold my arms up long enough to blow dry the back of my hair.  I still have to sleep on my back with my arms elevated on pillows because of pain.   I can't wear scrubs to work because I can't lift my arms enough to pull on the tops.
It's not easy, this post breast reduction time.  But already I am so glad to have done it and feeling that the weight of the world has been lifted from me.  After all, it has. 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Back to life!

How quickly the past few months have gone.  In October I had my first consultation regarding my breast reduction and today I am post surgery and scheduled to return to work tomorrow.  In truth, I feel that it's premature to go back but the doctor has cleared me and I know my absence is a burden on others who have to cover me.  So back I'll go, keeping in mind that if I can't manage it I will have to reconsider what is best for my recovery. 
I've had lots of time to be quiet, meditate and pray during this two weeks after surgery.  That's always a good thing, even if it's in the midst of illness or pain.  Even while the body isn't at its best, the spirit has limitless potential for healing and strength. 
It is also no surprise that I am re motivated for dieting!  I've known good and well that I need to get my body into better shape, but without the sisters looming over my belly, there's no denying that my waist line is a waste land.  In my former life as a Weight Watcher, one of my constant frustrations was that even having lost 100 pounds, there was nothing to do about my bust line.  So clothes just didn't fit correctly and some items were just not an option.  Now that I can actually achieve a properly proportioned body, I am hoping that I will find the inspiration I need to do the work that I need to do.  If you're a well-endowed woman, you know what I mean when I say that working out is even more difficult because you can't find a proper sports bra.  So at the very least, I've no excuses!  In a few months I'll be cleared for all activities and if I'm smart by that time I will have made some significant changes in the way I eat.  One day at a time~
Back to work and prayerfully, I will find that the return to normalcy is exactly what's needed to feel stronger.  Blessings on you!

Update: I had to drive the Mr.'s Flex to work today since I am unable to pull myself up into my truck but I done did it. I worked five hours without any real issues other than starting to get tired and a little achy toward the end. I'm going to take a shower and change in to pajamas for the evening and relax. Thank you for your prayer as I work on getting back into the swing of things!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Status post~

Today I have to bite the bullet and leave the house!  I am in the final few days of wearing a surgical bra and the next step is front closure sports bras for a few months.  Of course, as it always is, when you need something specific it's hard to find.  I did an online search for what I need just to see which stores are my best bet and I wasn't encouraged.  Of course, every single item in every single store isn't listed online.  We shall see!  Going to start at Target because I need a few cosmetics and then Sears because they have a large intimates department.  From there, if I haven't gotten what I need, I'll sit in the car and cry and then figure out what's next!
I'm have quite a lot of pain at my drain sites.  Please pray for that as it is interfering with my already fragile sleeping habits.  I have lots of swelling under my arms as well which means I am still unable to lay in any position other than on my back with my arms on pillows.  Technically I can sleep on my sides now but it's too painful.  The swelling is decreasing and my incisions all look good, it's just part of the recovery from a significant surgery.
I am still looking at returning to work on Monday but I'm not as far along as I'd hoped to be.  I'm very slow in my movements (which is sooooo frustrating) and I have almost no stamina.  I make the bed in the mornings and then I have to lay down for 30 minutes to recover. I know that you don't start recovering until you just start doing.  Today will be a good experiment in getting out of the house and around town.  I may do better than I think I will, fingers crossed!
Along those lines, I'm going to force myself to actually put on make up and do my hair before I leave the house.  That's also something that often makes one start to feel better; fake it till you make it and all that!
The Mr. just came in with a McDonald's oatmeal for me and since it takes me a lifetime to get around, I had better start my to do list.  Sooner begun, sooner back home and into my flannel pajamas. 

Update: Home from my exhausting 2 hour shopping spree!  I picked up about a half dozen sport bras because I just wasn't up to trying on each one in the store.  I'll sort through them, choose the best 2 and the rest will go back.  As for the front closure requirement, that's near impossible.  I found 2 out of millions (that's right, millions) with front closures.  My sister tells me there's no getting a front closing sport bra so I'll have to just put it on the floor, step into it and pull it up.  That should be sexy.  Also, I have no idea why anyone keeps reading this ridiculous blog :)

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Head and shoulders, knees and breasts

Goodness, I've been away so long I've gotten over missing the internet and now wonder if I want to re enter!  Oh, I miss you all and enjoy our visits but I won't lie, I have enjoyed the low tech nature of the last few weeks.  Lots of reading in front of the fire and sipping tea quietly.  The Holy Spirit has been good company and I've learned that when I get still enough, He reveals so much in the world around me that soothes and sweetens life.  Just laying in bed and listening to the wind chimes in the winter wind was entertainment enough for me as I have recovered from my breast reduction on the 14th.
I went to the surgeon's office yesterday for my post op visit and he removed the surgical tape.  I was convinced for a moment there that my breasts were going to fall off (one feels fragile following surgery!)  He assured me that if the right one fell off, he would leave the tape on the left one.  I'm happy to report that neither fell off (so far.)  I will remain in a surgical compression bra for another week and then wear sports bras for another month or so.  After eight weeks total, I will be able to wear a regular soft cup bra.  Of course, sleeping braless is so far in the future I'm not evening thinking about it at the moment.  Plus, my breasts could still fall off. 
I'm feeling better day by day and hoping to return to work on Monday.  If Monday was today, I couldn't do it.  But it's nearly miraculous how much difference a few days can make in recovery so I'm taking one day at a time and we'll see what Monday brings.  Today I made my own pot of coffee since I can now lift a little bit more and even put a load of laundry in the washer!  I can start to advance my range of motion bit by bit as I am able to tolerate it and over the coming days, I can increase to lifting up to 10 pounds.  I still can not do things like reach overhead and pull something out of a cabinet or pull heavy things so I have to be careful.  Sometimes I start to do something without thinking and need to slow down and be a bit more thoughtful about my actions.
There's the quick update on things so far.  I am encouraged regarding the outcome of my surgery and although I won't know how "things" will ultimately look for quite a while, I am excited about feeling more comfortable in my body and less self conscious as well as just being able to purchase clothing that will fit correctly.  And bathing suits!  I will be able to wear a bathing suit!  For those of you who don't know what life is like in a HH bra, I paid $175 for a bathing suit with an adequate bra and then had to alter it so that it was modest enough to actually wear.  My bras?  $80 each and only available online. 
Even at this early stage of hoping my breasts don't fall off and being uncomfortable and limited; I'm grateful for this surgery and the days ahead.  Thank you for your prayers during my surgery and recovery and please, don't stop!

Update on my mom:  Mom had a knee replacement on Friday and came home on Monday last.  She's in that post surgical stage which can only be described as miserable.  Everything hurts, nothing is working like it should and all of the body parts that have to compensate for the surgical site are starting to rebel.  She has asthma is is suffering with bronchial spasms as well.  Please lift her up before the Lord as He knows each and every need from head to toe.  The enemy uses these vulnerable moments to discourage our hearts but Jesus is greater than the sufferings of this world.  So pray that she will use that new knee to give the devil a swift kick in the butt!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Hi everyone!  No Saturday list today.  Just a quick drop in to say hello and let everyone know I'm doing well post breast reduction surgery on the 14th.  Stronger every day and despite the surgical back pain :)  I don't remember the last time I had absolutely no shoulder or back pain.
The Mr. has been off on a FMLA this week as I have been pretty much unable to care for myself.  I've depended on him for everything from food to helping wash my hair.  Yikes!  Yesterday I was able to shower myself for the first time. 
Using the computer is not easy as I still have limited use of my arms but I wanted to update you and thank you for your prayers during my surgery and recovery.  I've a while yet to go but doing well. 
My mom had knee replacement surgery yesterday so please continue to keep her in your prayers as well.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Monday musings~

Good morning!  Up early to do some final house straightening and spend some time with the Lord before my surgery this afternoon.  We head to the hospital at about 11, surgery at 1:30 and it should be about 4 or so hours long. 
We've had a frustrating few days around here, just the enemy doing his best to push our buttons.  Lots of deep breaths and giving it to Jesus!  Our bed broke twice.  Finally yesterday the Mr. gave up on trying to repair our mission bed and got a plain jane bed frame so at least now I will have a bed to come home to.  Not a pretty one, but a bed! 
We had the family over for a little breakfast for the newlyweds (my niece and her hubs.)  Bed in pieces on the bedroom floor and naturally, my waffle iron croaked just as the guests were about to arrive.  My mom was having a similar morning and she called to say that the breakfast casserole she was making wasn't done and her stove seemed to be on the fritz.  That worked out well because I was able to let her know we needed her waffle iron :0
I'd post some pics of the family get together but blogger hasn't let me load pics of my own for a few weeks.  Anyone else having that problem? 
I FB'd a desperate "I'm losing it!" on the Sister's FB page and they came to the rescue, it's their speciality! 
At the end of the day it was a beautiful time with the family, we oohed and aaahed over the wedding photos from Cancun and ate lots of food and held Mason and held Mason and held Mason. 
Mac's girl Susan was a lifesaver, she did most of the planning and came over early Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning to help me and then did lots of clean up in the evening.  I told her that I am planning her wedding and it should be in a beautiful old barn.  Wouldn't that be charming?  She didn't think so.  Apparently she's not much of a barn girl.  I'm working on that. 
I expect I won't be around blogger much for a few days.  I'll spend the night in the hospital and be home tomorrow for a few days of bedrest and a week of doing not much of anything including making my own meals.  Very limited range of motion for my arms and no lifting because of the sutures (I'm having a breast reduction.)  TMI alert!  I'm currently a HH bra size and going to a D.  So that's a pretty significant surgery, your prayer is appreciated.  I'll spend the night with a Foley and two drains.  The surgeon will be in early and if all is well, drains and catheter will be removed and I'll be on my way home.  Hopefully I'll be driving in a week and expected back to work in about two weeks but not allowed on the clinical floor for another month, total recovery time is six weeks.  I'll be in a surgical bra for a month and then sports bra for another month but in two months I'll be buying bras at a regular old store instead of ordering online (to the tune of $80!)  Yay!  Who wants to go bra shopping? 
My mom's second knee replacement is on Friday, so please be in prayer for her as well.  Come Spring time, we're gonna be fabulous! 
Love to all of you my friends.  Have a blessed week and I look forward to updating you that I'm home and doing great in a few days!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Congratulations Mr. & Mrs. Denno!

 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Jeremiach 29:11

Saturday, January 12, 2013

A list and also, some rambling...

My sister's family returns from Mexico this evening where they went to celebrate the wedding of their daughter, Sarah to Tim.  Yay! Tomorrow morning I'm having a small brunch for the family to welcome them home.  Since they got married on a beach I wanted to include a few small details to remind them of that.  Also, they have a little boy named Mason.  So....being NOT a Martha Stewart attention to details kind of woman, here's what I've come up with...

1.  Plates, dessert plates and napkins in robin's egg blue with black filigree trim.
2.  Ya know those big pompon ball things you can get to hang from the ceiling?  Yeah, got some of them in robin's egg blue too!
3.  Robin's egg blue table cloths.
4.  "Just married" decorations for the fireplace mantle.
5.  Candles:  Mason jars (for baby Mason) filled with sand and crushed seashells, water and topped with a floating blue candle.
6.  Waffles with a topping made of fresh pineapples, rum and brown sugar.
7.  Sparkling grape juice mimosas.
8.  Thick cut bacon (having nothing to do with beaches, just delicious.)
9.  Fresh fruit salad with pina colada mix dressing.
10. Little bags of coffee as take-homes that have "Love is brewing" printed on them.

My mom is contributing a breakfast casserole and a small wedding cake from Roberto's bakery (we demand wedding cake!) 

Mac's girl Susan (who I've quickly come to depend upon!) is coming over this afternoon to lend a hand because Mason is coming over to wait for mama and daddy's return this evening and is back early in the morning to help with the cooking and final prep. 

I really need to find my camera because if this turns out as charming as it looks inside my head, it'll really be a miracle! 

Gotta run!  Hair appointment in an hour, a few final errands to run and Mason arriving by 2:00. 

Did I mention that our 2 year old Mission bed (ya know, made out of oak?)  broke?  Yup!  Side rail (not center support rails) split lengthwise from head to foot of the bed.  Ordered metal replacement rails because you can't get the wooden woods which really frustrates me.  Waited two days for delivery and they were the wrong size.  Now waiting again for delivery after two hours on the phone with Art Van explaining that we really can't wait until Tuesday of next week to have our bed back since I'm having surgery on Monday and will be on bed rest more or less for a week and we are currently sleeping with our mattress on the floor.  So they are supposed to be in after 1:00 today.   I'm planning a brunch, having surgery and have a mattress in my living room. 

P.S. No, nothing particularly spectacular was happening in the bed when it broke.  Other than I was sleeping, which on second thought, is spectacular and much more rare than other activities ;)

Friday, January 11, 2013

Rainy Friday~

Off today to wrap up some stuff before surgery on Monday morning.  Doctor's appointment, errands, stocking in supplies.  And it's pouring this morning which is not good!  Running around in the rain always results in a head cold for me which is unacceptable a few days before surgery.
Tomorrow morning I have a hair appointment because a person cannot be post surgery trapped like a rat with bad hair.  Saturday afternoon I am keeping Mason (niece's baby) until they get home from their wedding trip to Cancun and on Sunday we're hosting the newlyweds for breakfast.  Monday bright and early we're due at Beaumont Hospital.  Busy busy busy!  Somewhere in there I gotta clean this old house and do the laundry too.
I have turned off my Blackberry and set my work e mail to "out of office."  Now I'm trying to really and truly unplug and not surrender to the temptation of working from home by checking e mail and the like. 
That's all of the news that's fit to print from the Smith House this morning.  Have a great Friday!

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Praise Report!

Anybody remember the days of the "praise report?"  I'm so old, that was a cool phrase when I was in youth group at old Mamre Assembly of God! 
I was thinking that I should come up with a post but have nothing to say when it came to me...praise report!
The Mr. and I had a wonderful time on our overnight adventure to Frankenmuth.  We enjoyed the chicken dinner at Zhenders and did some window shopping but mostly, just relaxed. 
This is my last week of work before my medical leave for my breast reduction on Monday.  As I shared a few posts back, I have repented of my ungracious and ungrateful attitude toward my job and have been working on letting the Holy Spirit have reign over my perception.  I'm happy to offer this praise report, I'm having a really good week at work.
That's it.
Not that anything amazing has happened or changed, just feeling good.  Feeling productive, capable and thankful for my job.  Jesus makes all the difference.  Even when we know Him, have surrendered our lives to Him and acknowledge Him as our Savior; there's always more of him to seek and to find. 
I had a to-do list as long as my arm for this week and it's moving right along...check-check-check!  I love checking off stuff on a list.  I started on Monday by cleaning my office which had turned into an unaired Hoarders episode and boy oh boy, does it feel better.  Being that Monday was only yesterday, I feel like I'm really moving! 
Mac started nursing school yesterday.  I'm not seeing much of him as he's staying at my sister's house dog sitting while she's in Mexico celebrating the wedding of her daughter.  We're mostly playing text tag and having quick conversations on the phone.  Still, a praise worth raising. 
And of course, there's the wedding!  God bringing two people together in the sacred love that models His love for us, His bride.  Marriage, love love love marriage. 
Jay is doing great, he's happy and simply a pretty awesome adult despite having been raised by us.  Definitely worthy of praise!
Donny got a fuzzy guy from Santa which he immediately took outside and lost.  Yesterday he came charging back in with his guy in his mouth!  Yay!  From a dog's perspective, that's praise-worthy.
And the Mr., my sweet sweet Mr.  I have been so blessed to have this man in my life.  We have not always seen everything eye to eye; not always appreciated that sacred love God has given us.  But those impossible standards my parents demanded were worth every frustrating moment because what they ultimately required was a man after God's own heart.  Nothing less would do, not even for a "simple date."  It was entirely unreasonable.  Then again, isn't the grace and goodness of God exactly that-unreasonable?  If we pursued only what was reasonable, how small and dark life would be.
So, there's my praise report! 

Saturday, January 05, 2013

A sort-of-list~

1. Stayed up late doing laundry...
2. Changed the bed linens this morning...
3. Cleaned the bathroom a minute ago...
4.  Because...
5. We're headed to Frankenmuth and Birch Run for the weekend!
6. Four more days of work before my LOA for my surgery.
7. I'm going tech free until Sunday night.
8. Belly is feeling better, still a little tired but it's ok.
9. And the most exciting fabulous wonderful wonderful of all...
10.  My niece and nephew in law to be are headed to Cancun with my sister and bro in law for their wedding!!
Zhender's Restaurant, Frankenmuth MI

Thursday, January 03, 2013


The holidays are a memory and I find myself settled back into my usual obsession; nesting.  The holidays make me want to nest, the end of the holidays makes me want to nest, winter, spring, summer and fall make me want to nest. You get the picture.  Winter time nesting is made of hearty comfort foods and cups of tea with honey.  Extra afghans and blankets are on the beds and draped across the backs of the sofas.  The blinds are opened wide so that the winter sunshine can stream in or, even better, we can watch the snow fall and blow across the bare limbed trees in our yard.  Fires in the fireplace morning and evening.
We have an unsightly stack of board games, decks of cards stacked in the corner.  Nesting supplies.
The red cast iron dutch oven and my old cast iron skillet live almost permanently on the stove, in the oven or on the counter air drying for the next use.  The weekends always bring a pot of homemade soup.  A skillet of bannock or fry bread is no surprise.  Strong coffee, hot tea or dark hot chocolate steam continually in the kitchen.  Meatloaf, chicken and dumplings, pot roast anyone?
Orange, cloves and cinnamon are the scents I crave. 
A big old fashioned picnic basket sits on our hearth filled with mittens, hats and scarves. 
By 6 p.m. I'm home from work, showered and making dinner in my flannel pajamas.  I have more flannel pajamas and thick bathrobes than I do dresses or pumps.
Speaking of shoes, there are three options now-brown riding boots, black Uggs or L.L. Bean duck shoes.  Dressy days require my black wool hooded car coat and plain old winter days I wear my red barn coat.
Gold Bond lotion sits on my nightstand, winter in the Mitten is more than those girly Bath & Body Works lotions can hold up against. 
I reread the best books during the winter, The Little House books, The Mitford books, The James Herriot All Creatures Great & Small series.  All of the aforementioned reinforce nesting.
Oh winter, I don't mind you a bit!  A person can say, "it's just too cold to go anywhere" and they are sensible instead of introverted.  Topping everything with gravy helps get a body through the frigid days ahead.  An extra cup of coffee is only reasonable before shoveling your way to the car. 
And flannel pajamas are sexy evening wear ;)

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

A True Story

Mr.:  We really have to get the basement finished.
Me:  I'm all for it.
Mr.:  I'd like to get it done because when we have grandchildren, we'll need the extra space for holidays.
Me:  Good thinking, plan ahead!
Mr.:  I'm going to clean it out, paint, put in carpet, re do the bathroom.  You know, a little at a time starting now.
Me.:  Love it!

Fifteen minutes later Mac comes in with his Ipad...

Mac:  Dad, here are the chairs you wanted me to find for the poker table.
Mr:  Not now Mac
Mac:  How many do you want?  Six?
Me:  Why do you need chairs for a poker table?
Mac:  For the basement, that's why we're working down there.
Me:  Are our grandchildren going to be running a casino?

Hello there 2013!

As predicted, midnight struck and the Mr. and I were sound asleep!  Still, by all accounts, it seems that this is indeed a new year :)
We have some very exciting plans today, even more spectacular than last night's.  We are taking down our Christmas decorations.  Goodness, I wonder if TMZ has a camera crew on the way?  Mac is back to work this afternoon for the first time since injuring his ankle in October.  He's in physical therapy and doing well, we're believing there will be no surgery, thank the Lord.  Please pray for him as he goes back tonight for a great evening and of course, no more injuries!
The Mr. is in the basement making plans for a little renovation project he and daboyz are working on.  Nothing major.  The basement of this house was considered "finished" when my grandparents moved in 40 or so years ago but nothing has been done to it since so it's more than overdue for a freshening up.  We had a few floods so there was some minor damage to the floor and quite a lot of stuff that needed to simply be hauled up and out to the dump after getting wet.  We've since had the dreaded sewer pipe clean out and other things that I don't quite understand that have kept us flood free for two years so we feel we're safe getting in there and reclaiming the space.  We'll paint, work on the floors a bit and just make it habitable for when we may want it.  There's a shower and bathroom down there.  Nothing fancy by a long shot but still a nice thing to have.  In a small house, any extra space is valuable.  There is also a kitchen space, no appliances but cabinets and a sink.  Maybe someday we'll put a fridge and stove down there?  For now it's just a little spit and polish on the old girl. 
Tomorrow we're all back to work.  My surgery (breast reduction) is on January 14 and I'll be off work for two weeks.  This weekend we're going on a little get away before I'm out of commission.  Destination as yet undecided.  I suppose I gotta get movin'.  These Christmas decorations seems to be in every corner of the house and getting them all boxed and back in the attic seems like a monumental undertaking.  Have a great first day of 2013!