Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Declutter your life!!!!!!

Take the Declutter Challenge!!!!

A year ago today, I had a lot of dead weight in my life. I was a hoarder; holding onto things that left my mind confused and disorganized. Once I got rid of that trash--the useless stuff--holding me back, I was able to focus on the things that really matter: my family, my friends, my community, and my remaining limbs.

You can reorganize your life too!!!!! Do you feel like you're maybe not using all your limbs to their full potential? Is there one you could possibly go without? I've got just the tool to help you eliminate that worthless appendage today!!!!

May require a partner for proper use

Or perhaps this will do it faster?

Don't delay on this. It's best if you act now, even if you've been drinking. Actually, it might be beneficial if you've been drinking. It can be scary to let go of something you've had, literally, since birth--I KNOW! I'm sure you have fond memories using that limb to wave at a loved one, or allowing you to frolic in a grassy meadow, or 'raise the roof' at the dance party, or putting your "left foot in" doing the "Hokey Pokey," or even aiding you as you tie your shoes. But think what you'll gain by not having that limb!!! The lost weight (instant 10-20 pound drop)!!! All your love and attention can be devoted to your three remaining limbs!!! You used to think, Should I wash my left leg or my right leg in the shower today? Well, guess what? Now, you only need to worry about one leg and you're out of the shower in half the time!!! You'll instantly stand out in a crowd. All those other dweebs holding onto 4 limbs will look at you in envy. They'll say stuff like, "How did he DO it??" or "Sure wish I only had three to worry about!!" or even "Is that a man or some sort of sideshow circus freak? DEAR GOD, DON'T LET THE MONSTER TOUCH ME!!" The point is, you'll be the center of attention at every social gathering.

Why stop with your own trash?

7's company, 8's a crowd

Does your significant other have a problem with limb hoarding? Skip the intervention; they won't listen to reason!!! Tonight (don't think about it or second-guess yourself) crumble up some Ambien in their drink. While they're passed out in the surgically sterile master bedroom, use the proper implement...

Might be best to send the kids away during the operation whack off the appendage they can do without (I'd choose the one they keep hitting you with while they're sleeping). They may whine and scream about it when they wake up. They might call you things in the heat of the moment like "monster," or "psychopath," or "demented spawn of Satan." Don't let their rage, divorce proceedings, criminal charges, and lawsuits bother you. You've done the right thing here! You've freed the one you love from something that would have weighed them down for the rest of their lives. You've given them a gift!! In a few years, or after decades of therapy, they'll thank you.

I'm referring to the hand here. And the rest of the arm. Or a leg.

Heck, why stop with limbs? I had way too many ribs filling up my torso. Do you even know how many ribs you have? I was a limb hoarder AND a rib hoarder, and I bet you are too! Sometimes those annoying bones just get in the way!! How can I possibly feel the beating of my own heart if there are ribs and a clavicle in the way?? Do yourself and the world a favor and get rid of that worthless skeletal mass.

I see 205 redundant bones in this picture

**Disclaimer: The blog author is not responsible if you, or your partner, bleed to death.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Tubie Disaster Prep

I have been extremely saddened by the images and videos coming out of Texas and Louisiana over the last week. I could not imagine what it's like to go through an event like that--losing homes, possessions, even lives, to torrential flooding. It is so uplifting to see businesses and private citizens rush to the area to help those in need. From a tube feeding perspective, I was happy to see the Feeding Tube Awareness Group on Facebook had a lengthy thread immediately after the storm hit with people across the country offering various medical supplies for those in need. More recently, they have shared a link to the Parker Lee Project's Facebook page for more information about Harvey relief.

If you'd care to support medically complex kids affected by Harvey, please go to They have partnered with the Parker Lee Project, Trach Mommas of Louisiana, Protect Texas Fragile Kids, Advocates for Medically Fragile Kids NC, and Moms of Trach Babies to get money and supplies to struggling families in the region. This is not a situation that will be resolved in a few days or weeks. It will take months, even years, for families and businesses to get back on their feet once the waters have fully receded. Parents trying to feed and care for tube-fed children--on top of losing their homes and livelihood--will need every bit of support we can give over the coming months. If you are able to help, please don't forget about these families. They will need our aid for a long time.

On a more selfish note, the Liebenow household is completely unprepared for a disaster. The situation in Houston following Hurricane Harvey really made Betsy and I re-evaluate how prepared we are for natural--and man-made--disasters. This hasn't been an immediate concern for us because Knoxville seems to be in a lucky part of the country that isn't conducive to natural disasters (at least not while we've lived here). We don't live near the Tennessee River or in a low-lying area, so flooding isn't a concern. We are in the suburbs and, since we moved here in 2009, haven't been subjected to any lengthy power outages. We are hit with the occasional afternoon thunderstorm, but nothing too serious at our house. Tornadoes have been known to hit the region, but again, not our neighborhood. We got a snowstorm once that kept us from driving for a couple days, but still had power.

We've gotten lucky, but that's no excuse for not making some preparations. We have important documents in a fireproof safe and Betsy has her parents and two sisters within a mile of us, so we have a good support network in case of our house burning down or something like that. But we aren't ready for a more widespread disaster like an alien invasion (Independence Day), Russian invasion (Red Dawn), hybrid robot/car invasion (Transformers), meteor impact (Armageddon and Deep Impact), hyper-cooling of the continent due to global warming (The Day After Tomorrow--can someone explain this?), disasters foretold by the Mayan civilization (2012), earthquakes the likes of which only Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson could save us from (San Andreas), sentient monkey insurrection (Planet of the Apes), tornados of sharks (Sharknado), meta-human conflict (see Marvel or DC Comics), the zombie apocalypse (too numerous to mention), pandemics (Outbreak and a bunch of others), or planetary destruction as a demonstration to Princess Leia of the destructive power of the Empire's battle station (actually, if you're reading this from Alderaan, then I have bad news for you).

"Can we borrow your Vitamixer? Also, BRAAAAAAAAINS!!!"

We also aren't ready for widespread disasters that maybe have a higher likelihood of happening (really bad storms and boring--not Michael Bay worthy--stuff like that). The government actually has a pretty good site on preparing for disasters at They include tips for preparing for a disaster if you have a disability. They also have some recommendations on items you should stow away in an emergency kit. I thought this was a good jumping-off point for a more tubie-specific emergency kit. I'll go ahead and share it here. Feel free to let me know if you have any suggestions.

  • Water - one gallon of water per person per day for at least seven days, for drinking and sanitation (actually, I should probably double that for me because I use a lot of water)
  • Food - at least a seven-day supply of non-perishable food (MREs for Betsy and Grace, 4 boxes of RFBs for Brian)
  • Prescription medications
  • Non-prescription medications such as pain relievers (Tylenol, aspirin, Aleve), anti-diarrhea medication, antacids, laxatives, OTC sleep aids (Melatonin), vitamins
  • Pill crusher (mortar/pestle and the twisty-crusher-thingy)
  • Syringes
  • Syringe holders
  • Extra g-tube
  • Extra Lopez Valve
  • Suction machine with plugs (includes plug for car)
  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert
  • Flashlight
  • First aid kit (include Aquaphor lotion for Brian’s neck)
  • Extra batteries
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags, surgical gloves, and plastic ties for personal sanitation
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities (Leatherman tool)
  • Manual can opener for food
  • Local maps
  • Cell phone with chargers and a backup battery
  • Glasses
  • Dog food and extra water for the dog (the birds are screwed; they annoy me anyway)
  • Cash or traveler's checks
  • Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records saved electronically or in a waterproof, portable container
  • Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person
  • Complete change of clothing appropriate for your climate and sturdy shoes
  • Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper to disinfect water (I also have some iodine tablets)
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Matches in a waterproof container
  • Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
  • Mess kits, paper cups, plates, paper towels and plastic utensils
  • Blender bottles/plastic measuring cups
  • Paper and pencil
  • Books, games, puzzles or other activities for Grace

Do I have all this stuff? No. We have some of it, but not in one place. But now I have a list! Maybe some of you tubies out there have recommendations for improvement and if you ever manage to gather all those supplies, let me know your address, so I know where to go when I need to shamelessly mooch off you.

Anyway, I hope this is helpful for some of you. Please let me know if you have links to other helpful disaster prep sites, and consider donating to Harvey relief (even if you're reading this months after the hurricane hit)!

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Traveling Tubie: Behind the Facebook Profile

Facebook is a good place to go if you want to see all the best highlights in your friends' lives. But, if you look through their profiles and believe each happy photo and amusing post isn't surrounded by several hours of boredom, misery, arguments, awkwardness, embarrassment, and desperation then you'll make yourself severely depressed believing you're the biggest loser you know.

At least that's what I tell myself.

If you're one of my Facebook friends and your life really is that awesome, then I hate you. Please post a picture of your perfect angel child vomiting on your face (I know you have one!!) so I can feel better about myself.

Even on this blog, the happy pictures and funny captions have a backstory.

We were freezing cold. Grace locked herself in our hotel bathroom.

I paid $50 for a stupid wand and I feel like an idiot.

The trip where I got a bad sunburn that ultimately led to me losing my arm.

I don't drink very often. When I do, I tend to get colds, which may turn into pneumonia.

The truth is, nobody wants to know about all the really bad stuff that happens. Just like when I say, "What's up" to some random dude at the gym, I don't really want to know about his messy divorce or the details of his latest gall bladder surgery. If I filled Facebook, or my blogs, with constant gripes about my physical ailments, then people would rapidly tune me out. This is why I try to sprinkle the bad stuff with my poor attempts at humor to make the feeding tube explosions, constant drooling, and amputations a little more palatable for the casual reader.

Our most recent trip to southwest Washington to visit my dad is no exception. For every exciting, cool picture that makes us look like a jet setting, happy-go-lucky family, there is a morass of anger and frustration simmering below the surface.

I was constantly worried about the sun on my neck

Traffic. Was. A. Nightmare.

Don't get me wrong. We had a great time in Washington and Oregon. Weather was perfect; a nice change from hot and muggy Tennessee. It was awesome seeing my sister and nephews, and letting Grace and her cousins play on the farm.

Dolly the horse is looking for my other arm

Training some future child laborers

They continued looking at the camera as they drove straight into a creek

Goonie Rocks!!!!!!!

My widowed grandmother is living with my dad now. Looking great!!

Kadin insisted on feeding me every time

We have to show the bad stuff to somebody though. I was reminded of this before dinner one night at my dad's house. I was leaned over the kitchen sink hacking up gunk that was lodged in the back of my throat.

This is a nightly ritual for me. I do it in our kitchen or in the bathroom. Usually, the amount of crud reaches a critical mass shortly before or after dinner and I start to gag on it. There's no time to make it to the bathroom to do it privately, so I end up hunched over the kitchen sink coughing it up. This is what Betsy and Grace are subjected to every evening. Sometimes, I'm forced to do it in the bathroom out at restaurants, but I try to avoid that. Nobody wants to see that stuff.

So, I finish nearly puking up a lung in my dad's kitchen. My dad quietly says "Do you do that every night?"

"Yes," I answer, "every night."

Later on, Betsy asked if I could just do it in the bathroom next time. I said no way, because I think my family and close friends should have to see the bad stuff. I'm not a big complainer, so most people have no idea about all the little, everyday struggles with my health. If you're only subjected to my Facebook profile, then you may think I'm living the dream, and every hardship is just laughed off with a corny joke. The truth is, I am living the dream. I have a great life, BUT there's a lot of shit that goes with it. There's no need for me to discuss every excruciating detail publicly. We all have our private battles with mental health, physical health, poverty, work, family, you name it. No need to talk about it with everyone we know (TMI).

However, at the same time, we have to vent to someone. I need the support of my family and close friends and to get that support, they have to understand the full extent of my health problems. I think this applies to everyone. With Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/etc., sometimes it's just difficult for us to get used to separating the public social media profile from our private lives.

But anyway, we had a wonderful trip to Washington!

I can count that kid's ribs!

Brave explorers journeying around the farm

Searching for crawdads with grandpa

Didn't really catch enough to make a meal

That stump is actually a slug. That's how big they get.

Brought enough Real Food Blends for lunch every day!

Bottomline, if I ever hack up a bunch of nasty looking stuff in front of you, then you should feel honored that I consider you a close enough friend to puke in your presence. That's how I show my love.

If you really loved me, you'd clean it up too.  You're welcome.

Monday, April 3, 2017


I've been kind of addicted to You know, that site where you can build your family tree and research your ancestors, find distant cousins, discover whether anyone in your family owned slaves (yes, there are slave owners in my past, much to my shame), that sort of stuff. It gets addictive because for every relative, Ancestry gives you 'hints' that you can use like a birth certificate, census record, marriage record, or obituary that brings up more names to add to the family tree. "On May 27, 1880, Jane Doe married John Doe. Her parents are listed as William Tyler and Beatrice Grooms." OOOHHH! I didn't have their names! Let me add that to the tree! Oh, wait now there are 5 hints listed for Beatrice Grooms that point to siblings and more parents and each of those siblings was married and had 20 children. Pretty soon, the tree expands to enormous proportions when all you really set out to do was find out who your great great grandmother was. My tree has about 350 names now and I have to force myself to quit. The vast majority of names are on my father's side, because I was researching my grandparents' backgrounds a few years ago. I've also got some names on my mom's side and even Betsy's. I can see how people could just sit and spend hours at this, writing little backgrounds and timelines for each person on their tree. I've found distant cousins who spend a lot more time at this than I do. One cousin has traced our lineage all the way back to William Shakespeare. That's on my paternal grandfather's side. On my paternal grandmother's side, I'm a distant relative of President John Tyler, who is well known as being one of the worst Presidents in American history (yay!).

The resemblance is uncanny

All these names on Ancestry have highlighted for me what a short little blip our lives are. My great grandfather, William F. Liebenow III was born in 1882 in Wisconsin to parents who had just immigrated from Germany. All his older siblings were born in Germany. William went to a small college near Madison, joined a threshing crew that took him up the east coast until he found himself in Fredericksburg, Virginia. There, he started working for a lumber company. He fell in love with the owner's daughter, Mary Eastburn, they got married (despite the wishes of Mary's mother, who hated 'Yankees'), and had five children, one of whom was my grandfather. In another generation, William III will be just another name on a family tree. Even the limited background I know will be lost. All of my grandfather's siblings have passed away. One of his older sisters died as a child. The other two older sisters died childless about ten years ago. His younger brother, Uncle Pilly, died a few years ago. Uncle Pilly had two sons who are still alive, but they had no children. My grandfather had three grandchildren. Only my sister and I are left. In late February, much to my sorrow, my grandfather died at the age of 97. It seems there is no one left to tell their stories, and in a couple more generations, we will all just be names on a family tree with a year of birth and a year of death. Maybe a few additional notes if we're lucky.

This post took a dark turn, didn't it?

I wanted to share some thoughts I had about my grandfather.

For the first few years of his life, he lived in a farm house with his maternal grandmother. The house had no electricity or indoor plumbing. His grandmother had an African American woman who worked for her who was born a slave until she was freed after the Civil War as a teenager. The family called the woman "Aunt Susan." My grandfather followed Aunt Susan everywhere and she adored her little 'shadow' so much, she called him her 'buddy.' The name stuck, and from then on, grandpa was known as Buddy or Bud.

Bud was a hard worker, and he learned it at a young age. Times were tight during the Great Depression for the Liebenow's. Everyone was expected to earn money, since William's lumber job wasn't paying enough to cover all the bills. Bud had his first job when he was nine, selling three different magazines door-to-door, making as little as 1.5 cents for each magazine sold. From then on, Bud had a job, from working on a dairy farm, to running a paper route, to driving a lumber truck. He even had a short job distributing bootleg liqueur with some other kids during Prohibition. He remembered that one of his customers was an Episcopal minister who insisted that the alcohol be delivered through a back alley so no one would see it. Though life was hard during those years (a typical Christmas present was an orange), there was always food on the table and there were daily visits from denizens of the town's 'hobo jungle' looking for handouts to remind the family that things could always be worse.

My grandfather was tough and fearless. There was an older bully in school who "took a shine" to Bud. He led Bud up to other kids and said, "hit him," forcing grandpa to hit the other boy and start a fight. Bud recalled one fight on the playground when he knocked the other kid's head back so hard, it broke the glasses of another boy watching the fight.

Image of grandpa's first school in 1925

Bud was a boxer from high school through his years fighting in the war. He was known by fellow navy soldiers as "the fighting fool." This wasn't just for his boxing reputation, but for his fearlessness during combat. 

Relaxing during some downtime

On one occasion, Bud's PT 157 was escorting a Marine landing craft to a beachhead in the South Pacific when they came under attack by Japanese dive bombers. Bud quickly had his crew steer their own 80 foot, plywood PT boat away from the landing craft to draw the enemy fire away from the Marines. On another occasion, Bud's PT boat got caught between two destroyers on a dark, moonless night. They came under blistering crossfire, putting more than 50 holes along the side of their boat but miraculously, no one was hurt. The destroyers both turned because it was too dark to pinpoint the PT boat's location. Bud used the brief lull in the action to check on his crew. They discovered that one of their three engines was completely dead from enemy fire and the mechanic had to coax a second engine back to life after severe damage. Despite the damage to his ship, Bud turned the boat around, sped toward one of the retreating destroyers and scored a hit with one of his torpedoes. He was awarded the silver star for his actions that night.

Grandpa's in shorts, 8th from the left

After rescuing Kennedy and the crew of the PT 109 (see my blog post about it if you want his account of that night), Bud was reassigned to the European theater, where he made numerous covert runs to Normandy Beach before D-Day. On these missions, his PT 199 would pull in close to the beach and Bud and another crewman would quietly row a small dinghy to shore to get soil samples, or meet with French resistance operatives under the noses of German sentries. On D-Day, my grandfather's PT 199 escorted gun ships close to shore so they could fire on German batteries. During the invasion, the allied destroyer USS Corry struck a mine and simultaneously came under heavy fire from German artillery. The Corry sunk and Bud's PT 199 picked up more than 60 survivors during a constant barrage from the Nazi defenses. He was awarded the bronze star for his actions on D-Day.

Bud, at left, on PT 199

Grandpa epitomized the ideal of the 'Citizen Soldier.' He detested the peacetime Navy, constantly having to wear a uniform, with good sailors getting chewed out for minor rule infractions. He left the service, turned his back on war and became a railroad chemist. Other than his 1960 campaign support at various rallies in Michigan for the man he shared a tent with in the South Pacific, and his attendance at JFK's inauguration, Bud stayed out of the spotlight. He lived a quiet life with the woman who helped him through physics class when he was a senior back at Randolph Macon (my grandmother was only a freshman; she's kinda smart). They raised a daughter and son (my father). 

Showing off his first born son, 1946

My dad and Aunt Susan, sledding with their dad at their Michigan home, ~1953

After 30 years working for the railroad, the couple bought a small house on a golf course on North Carolina's Abemarle Sound. I grew up 30 minutes away, where my father worked at a paper mill. I have so many good memories of my grandparents' house on the water. Fishing with grandpa; checking the crab pots; playing tennis down the street, my complete lack of skill at golf, lazy days laying on their hammock, so many fantastic meals, courtesy of Grammy. 

Who is that adorable boy playing with his grandpa?

Compared to Grandpa's young life, mine was so privileged and I have him to thank for that.

I have such admiration for Bud Liebenow. His courage. His quiet modesty about his past. The love he had for his wife of nearly 75 years. 

Dancing at my wedding in 2002

The life lessons he taught me growing up on everything from how to sail a boat, to civic engagement are priceless to me. In the end, Bud Liebenow is a pair of dates on the family tree, 1920-2017. But like the rest of his generation, he witnessed so many changes, hardship and tumultuous days. The Great Depression, World War II, the Kennedy assassination, the moon landing, seeing a son through two tours in Vietnam, Watergate, losing a grandson to cancer, 9/11, technological changes from commercial flight to smart phones. He met all challenges with quiet fortitude. Like any boxer, when he suffered setbacks, he picked himself up and kept fighting. We all lost something the day this man died.

Grace's favorite photo of grandpa

Bud and Lucy, March 2016

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

I did a blog! (Not here though)

I thought you should know, if you don't follow me on facebook, I did a blog post about my trip to Germany in December 2015. It's actually a guest post on the blog site (here's the link: 

If you've never heard of the tubechic blog, you should check it out. The tubechic, AKA Diane Massey Stormer, is a fellow adult tubie and she is building a very informative website about all things tube related. One project she's working on is making adult clothing that incorporates ports for tube feeding. This would be huge. Women, especially, are restricted with the way they dress in order to eat during the day. I really admire Diane for the amount of time she's investing in making tube feeders' lives better.

That's all I wanted to say. I'm working on a blog post that has nothing to do with tube feeding. It's about my grandfather, who passed away at the end of February. It's been very hard for me to write because he was such a huge presence in my life, and I don't know how to express this loss. Still processing it, I guess. In the meantime, here's a nice obituary from the New York Times:

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Disney, Take 2

2016 was a pretty sucky year for me personally, but I have high hopes for 2017. So far, it hasn't let me down with a trip to Orlando and a chance to see my mom, uncle, sister, brother-in-law, and my two nephews. 

We're in front of the Tree of Life at Animal Kingdom which, ironically, is not alive

My uncle Larry told my sister, mom, and I that if we could pay for airfare to Orlando, he would pay for all of us to stay at Disney's Polynesian Resort along with meal plans and 4 days of park tickets. For this reason, my mother-in-law would like to adopt my uncle Larry into Betsy's side of the family, preferably before summer break.

I wear that hat every day

So, we got to go to Disney World AGAIN after having gone a couple years ago. How lucky could we be?? I'm worried Grace will start thinking these sorts of trips and luxury resort stays are commonplace, so we've started forcing her to sleep in the cupboard under the stairs. That reminds me, Betsy and I decided to fly down to Florida a couple days early so we could spend a day at Universal Studios' The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Grace and I have been dying to see it, so we spent two nights at the Cabana Bay Beach Resort and visited the park on New Year's Eve.

The Cabana Bay was a great place to stay, other than the constant annoying 50s music. It's cheaper than the other hotels at the park. I ate most of my meals at their cafeteria. I could just order a meal, put it in my blender, find an outlet near our table, and blend up my food right there. I had two breakfasts and a dinner this way.

Grace is making her just-finish-eating-so-we-can-go-to-the-park face

On New Year's Eve, we ate at Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville where I ordered a chicken Cobb salad. I could've ordered a burger with gluten-free bun, but I'm always afraid to order stuff like bread, potatoes, rice, or pasta because it thickens the blend, and the volume of the meal turns out really big. I'm also afraid to get steak because the Vitamix often misses fat or gristle that ends up getting stuck in the tube. So, I usually opt for salad or seafood. 

"If they play 'Margaritaville' one more time, I will murder someone."

We spent a day at Diagon Alley--which was AMAZING. It took us a while to convince Grace to ride the Escape From Gringott's ride, but she liked it so much, she had to ride two more times. Betsy and Grace had lunch at the Leaky Cauldron and I had a couple Real Food Blends. Grace tried her hardest to stay up until midnight to ring in the New Year, but only made it to 11:30.

Fun fact: Butterbeer is 15% butter by volume

I have the Dumbledore wand, Grace has Hermione's

Just a muggle eating his Real Food Blend and his half-blood princess

The next day, my uncle picked us up at Universal and drove us over to Shades of Green military resort, across the street from Disney World's Polynesian resort. After checking in, we ate dinner at the Italian restaurant there, where I had the veal piccata (I know this breaks my 'salad or seafood' rule, but I figured veal was a safe bet).  

Hi, Uncle Larry! He doesn't use the internet so I doubt he'll ever read this.

My sister, her family, and my mom flew in from Germany that evening and we spent one night at Shades of Green, before moving over to the Polynesian the next day. They served gluten-free waffles at the Polynesian's Capt. Cook's so I had breakfast there before we headed out to Animal Kingdom. I think last time we went to Disney, I said Animal Kingdom is like a really crowded zoo. I still think that's an accurate assessment. Pretty much all the animals I saw are also at Knoxville's zoo and I don't have to fight a mob of people to see them. However, I also still think Everest is the best roller coaster in the park. Grace and the other kids were too afraid to ride, but my brother-in-law, Betsy and I rode it. We all rode the Kali River Rapids twice too. Grace loves that one and at 80 degrees, we were all hot enough to go. Once again, I had a Real Food Blend for lunch in the park.

You do a bunch of walking at the Disney parks. I didn't do a whole lot of exercising last year, especially after my surgery, so I was worried I'd have a hard time keeping up with everyone. But, I did pretty well. My iphone tracks my steps and the distance I've walked every day. I don't know how precise it is, but according to the Health app, from Friday, Dec. 30, to Friday, Jan. 6, I walked 107,452 steps for a total of 38.6 miles. I know it's not that impressive, but I felt good about not needing a cane and still being able to hang out with the kids without any falls.

That first night at Disney, I had dinner over at the Contemporary Resort at a restaurant called The Wave. I got chicken breasts and had a horrible time with clogs. Has anyone else blended their meals in one of the wider pitchers that come with the commercial Vitamix? If so, please reply in the comments. Our chef at The Wave was super nice. He offered to blend my meal up in their own Vitamix so I wouldn't have to get my own dirty. But, as soon as I tried to push the food in, I got a clog. We sent the blend back and asked him to blend some more. This happens sometimes, but it always gets fixed after we send it back. But my tube STILL clogged. So, we sent it back again...clog...and again...clog. Finally, we asked the chef (Betsy thought he was really hot; is that why she kept asking to see him?) if he could blend the meal in my pitcher and it worked the first time. We think that the narrower pitchers condense the food up better as it blends to ensure every little bit gets liquified. Does that make sense? Anyone else have this experience? Regardless, from then on, we always asked the chefs if they were blending my meal up in a Vitamix with a narrow pitcher.

Disney, of course, will bend over backward to make sure their guests get the full, 'Happiest Place on Earth' experience. We ate at Magic Kingdom's Crystal Palace for lunch on Tuesday (thank you, chef Ruben!), Hollywood Studios' Sci-fi Dine-in Theater for lunch on Wednesday, and Epcot's Coral Reef Restaurant on Thursday (thank you, Chef Nathan!) and every time, the restaurant used their own Vitamix (with a narrow pitcher) so I didn't have to carry mine around the park. The one exception was the luau at the Polynesian on Thursday night (very impressive fire dancer!). They didn't have a Vitamix, but I didn't mind eating a couple Real Food Blends for dinner.

Chef Ruben is not at all concerned about his restaurant's rodent problem

I had honey in my meal and this bear wouldn't leave me alone!

My youngest nephew loves watching me eat and now Betsy wants to kidnap him

Chef Nathan at the Coral Reef

My Uncle Larry got us a meal plan for the week. Not sure where he got all the money for this but I have heard him mention that Walter White is loosely based on him? Don't know what that means, but thank you, Uncle Larry!! My nephews have celiac disease so both my sister and I ordered gluten free meals for breakfast every morning (gluten free waffles, eggs and bacon for me!). I just plugged up my Vitamix in the breakfast area where all the guests ate, blended my meal, and ate with whoever happened to be up.

It was awesome to see Grace together with her cousins. They get along really well and had a fantastic time at the parks. When we went to Disney two years ago, The Force Awakens hadn't come out in theaters yet, so there wasn't a whole lot of Star Wars stuff. This time, at Hollywood Studios, it was EVERYWHERE. There were storm troopers walking around asking little kids for their identification. Grace and her cousins did Jedi training, where they faced off against Darth Vader AND Kylo Ren (not at the same time; that would be suicide). There was a storm trooper march with Captain Phasma leading a squadron of troops up the street to their shuttle. There was a live show outside. There were a couple short films to watch in two different theaters. We waited in line to meet Chewbacca (we all hugged him and said we were sorry for his loss). We could've waited to meet Kylo Ren, but who wants to meet that asshole? And, naturally, we were encouraged to buy Star Wars merchandise. Uncle Larry gave us money to spend on souvenirs so the kids each got a remote control BB8 droid. I got a Lego Tie Fighter (because I'm 42, and I like Legos), then got home to discover I got a MODEL of a Tie Fighter, not the Lego. Models are way too grown up for me, so I'm going to return that sucker and get the toy I wanted (again, I'm 42).

Sorry kids, but you don't get to meet the wookie until I'm finished

Grace said she wished he would've tried harder, so next time, could you use a real light saber, you pansy?

Love these kids


Grace had more sugar on this trip than she's ever had in her life

Since there was a forecast for snow back in Tennessee, I naturally went swimming every chance I got. I've heard some people don't go swimming with their feeding tubes, especially not in hot tubs, oceans, lakes, or rivers. I know parents, especially, are nervous about letting their tubie children expose themselves to potential toxins. I haven't let the tube stop me from swimming. I might be playing with fire but I've had the tube in all those environments, plus public swimming pools. I normally try to take a shower right afterward to rinse out the tube, but I haven't always. I remember one time, specifically, a couple years ago when we went camping and tubing in the Smoky Mountains and it was two nights before I took a shower. I'm definitely not encouraging others to do this. I know parents are very nervous about being responsible for their children getting bad germs through the tube. I personally haven't had a problem with it, and this trip was no exception. I went swimming in the saltwater pool, the saltwater hot tub, the chlorinated pool filled with screaming kids, and the chlorinated hot tub. At some point in the future, you can all laugh at me when I get some horrible stomach illness from mutant lake algae.

Betsy and I renewed our wedding vows for the 15th time. Our anniversary isn't until Feb. 2, but we thought we would take the opportunity to get married at Disney World. Initially, we wanted to do it in front of the Chinese Pavilion at Epcot's World Showcase, but we ran out of time on Thursday (it would probably take a week to see everything at Epcot) so Grace had us say our vows on the beach at the Polynesian and then Betsy and I went to Magic Kingdom Thursday night to see the fireworks. You want to know what attracts a lot of attention? A one-armed guy in uniform and his wife wearing her wedding dress posing for pictures in front of the crystal palace at night. Whoa. The photographer had us kiss and the whole crowd erupted in cheers. I'm a little disappointed we couldn't do it in China. I guess now we'll have to go to the REAL China to renew our wedding vows. Maybe Uncle Larry has some money left to spend on those tickets? The Shanghai Disney Resort just opened last year!!! I'm sure that won't be crowded at all.

Happy Anniversary, Babe. Here's to 15 more!