Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Goodbye 2014, Hello 2015

So I usually do a year in review and do goals for the year. I'm going to do this in shortened form this year.

2014 was sucky. MS for Todd, then he lost his job in March. He did find another job that was less stressful but it was a rough start to the year. The middle parts were ok, I think. Most of it's still a little fuzzy. But Dragon*Con, Browncoat Ball, Emily's birthday and Halloween were good.

Of course then I got sick and I'm still recovering from that. Christmas was good but I overdid it and had to go to the ER with a migraine last Saturday. I've been trying to rest and work.

The good parts were ok, but the bad parts were really bad. It's awful being in the hospital but it's even worse having a spouse in the hospital. We got a two-fer of that this year.

My goals for 2014 were to finish the 2nd draft of my novel, to finish Couch to 5K and to finish Emily's stocking. I only got the stocking done.

While I plan on writing more once my memory issues are better, as well as exercising, I only have one goal for 2015. That is to not go to the hospital. No more hospital, no more new and exciting illnesses. I have enough.

Who knows if I can keep that but that's my goal.

But here's looking forward to 2015! Hopefully I can also get my flying car and hoverboard!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Sick Mom or Healthy Mom

Me and my mom
Growing up, my mom was the picture of health. I don't even remember her getting colds or the flu, though I'm sure she did. My mom was a force of nature and kept everything on track. Because my mom had such a strong personality and was so seemingly healthy, it was a shock when she got cancer.

She still powered on. My parent's owned a water testing company - where we lived you had to have your water tested when you sold your house. My mom would run the office and pick up the samples while my dad did the testing since he's a microbiologist. Even during her two year fight with colon cancer, she would work scheduling pick ups around chemo sessions. But eventually she died and even knowing how sick she was, it was a bit of shock. Not my mom, who had always been so healthy!

Me, on the other hand, am the picture of illness. Despite my chronic headaches, Todd and I went ahead and decided to have Emily. Chronic pain and pregnancy is not a good mix, so I was pretty miserable for the majority of those nine months. But at the end, I got an Emily out of it and she was / is worth all the pain I went through.

Right now, I'm not doing so great. I've been overdoing it especially over Christmas, so I ended up in
the ER this past Saturday with a bad migraine. Some drugs and lot of sleep has helped me feel better. But I'm still tired, because I'm honestly still recovering from the seizures. So I'm trying to rest as much as I can while Todd is still off work for the holidays.

We went to the store last night to pick up my anti-seizure medicine and just walking around Walmart make me feel woozy. So when we got home, it was straight to bed for me. Todd has been doing storytime with Emily at night because he usually doesn't get to do it. Emily has a story Bible and we've been reading our way through it.

Last night, Todd told me, was the story of Jesus as a healer. At the end of each story their is a question and this one was "If you could heal anyone, who would it be." Todd says that she didn't even think about it before she said, 'Mommy.'

I got teary-eyed when I told me that and it got me thinking. Emily has never know what it's like to have a healthy mom. I was sick before she was born and I have gotten sicker over the years. In her very short life, I've been in the hospital twice.

My life span may be shorter because of all this healthy issues. Or I may take after my Great Aunt Dorothy who has health issues as long as I can remember but it also in her 90's. But I'm not holding my breath to have a long life.

I worry about Emily because of my illness. She's a kind, wonderful child but I feel bad that I'm not the best mom that I can be. I feel bad that I can't give her a sibling. I worry how seeing me sick all the time will effect her. I worry that I'll die before she's an adult.

Of course, there is time to see it all play out and I do know that chronic isn't fatal. I just keep adding on issues and diseases which is worrisome. But sick mom or healthy mom, I know both me and my mom wanted to be the best mom's we could (and can).

Monday, December 29, 2014

Christmas!

Christmas was definitely more low key than usual for me, but I found out that I'm still recovering and need to take it slow. 

I always work on Christmas Eve and this year was a bit of a mad rush after I got out of work. I worked until 3:30 and we had to be to church at 4:15. We only live about ten minutes from church but I'm paranoid so we left a little early and got there about five minutes before we needed to.

Since we were one of the first people there, we got a great seat. Emily and her classmates were whisked away to get costumed up. I went to the bathroom a little before the service started and I had a view of them in the big preschool room donning there costumes. It made me feel a little teary eyed.

Finally the service started. It was a child led service so the old kids did quite a few songs with chimes. And the kids Emily's age and younger, sang the Nativity story. They had angels, wise men and shepherds. Emily was an angel but she said she was Mary. Todd and I didn't argue.

After church was done, we  headed home. Emily opened up two presents. Her Christmas pjs and Pinkie Pie doll, which she loved. We watched one Christmas movie and got small child to bed.

Santa came and I passed out. I was going to try and watch a little TV but I was too tired, so I just went to bed.

On Christmas morn, I woke up a little after 6 because my body said, "Wake up, it's time to work!". Emily didn't get up until nearly 7 but was raring to go once she did. Todd had fallen asleep in the chair which he does sometimes.

The great opening commenced and Emily was very happy. She kept declaring it the best Christmas
ever throughout the day. Todd shuffled off to bed so I was on open the presents duty. Emily was nice and let me take a break between the openings because I wasn't feeling great. But the straw that broke was the Mandy's back (or head as the case may be) was the Barbie house.

Emily hasn't really had Barbie's before but she got a ton for Christmas thanks to my mother in law. She loves them and of course she wanted the house put together. I feel for my mom who put together tons of those sets for me and my sister over the years. 

It was a pain in the butt that required me to sit on the floor. But finally the Barbie house of doom was all together. There was one more thing that needed to be put together but I made her wait for Todd. During the great put together/remove from package

Todd got up, put together the Doc McStuffins center. He started our feast and we called all the relatives. Emily did talk to everyone and thank everyone but she was more interested in her toys of course. 

I ate after we talked to everyone and then I took a nap because I was starting to feel badly. The rest of the day was resting and eating and Emily playing. I was feeling increasing bad but tried to keep my spirits up.

It was a good Christmas but I way, way over did it. Which lead to me missing work the next day and ended up in the ER on Saturday. But Emily had a good Christmas and that's all that really matters.


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

A Thank You To Those Working Tomorrow

Image: www.seroundtable.com 
Happy Holidays! Whatever holiday you celebrate, if any!

Tomorrow is Christmas Day and a lot of people have it off from work, even if they don't celebrate Christmas, lots of people have the day off. I'm lucky and I also have the day off though I had to work today and I'll be working on Friday.

But there are lots of people who have to work tomorrow. My company is open to provide tech support - from what I hear it will be a lot of asking for wireless information for new stuff.

Some restaurants / fast food joints will be open as well as gas stations for those traveling.

Hospital, police and fire departments don't close either. They will be there to help people in need, even saving lives. 

There are probably other places open, which means people do work. I'm thankful for those who do work. I'm especially thankful to those who volunteer at my company so I don't have work.

Have a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Things I Am Thankful For

Yes, yes, I know it's almost Christmas and Thanksgiving was a while ago. But I do have a lot to be thankful for and I was stuck in the hospital during Thanksgiving.

Firstly I'm thankful for Todd. He's not a perfect person (no-one is, of course) but he's awesome and caring and perfect for me. He was there for me when I got sick (whenever I get sick) and of course, is a great dad to Miss Emily.

Todd was there for the entirely of my vast and many illnesses. We started dating right around the time when my daily chronic headaches started. He drove me home in a snowstorm from the east side of Michigan to the west because I couldn't drive due to a migraine (I had other friends who drove my car but Todd and I hadn't been dating that long).

And of course I'm thankful for Emily. She's a burst of sunshine in a grey world of disease. I don't think I would every be suicidal but sadly I do understand why people made that decision. But my little girl brightens my world and it's such a joy to watch her grow.

My family is also something I'm very thankful for. They have been really great with all of this health stuff even from Michigan and other places. My aunt Sue and Uncle Gary came all the way from GA to visit me in the hospital. My dad, his wife and my inlaws and my sister and brother in law have been very supportive and helpful even all the way from Michigan. I'm very blessed by a wonderful family!

Thanks to the internet, I have friends all over the word. Of course I'm super thankful for all of them. Especially my GUSP girls (you know who you are!) who have listened to me whist I was in bat shit crazy mode. My friends have really helped me get out of the dumps and keep my spirits up. And yes, even though I've never met most of my friends in person they are still very dear to me.

My job can be stressful, but I'm thankful for that as well. I'm thankfully that I didn't get fired after being in the hospital for 10 days. I'm on many chronic pain support groups and I've heard horror stories. More of why I'm thankful can be found in a previous post but I am super thankful that I still can work and recover at the same time.

Finally I'm thankful for my church. The first time I left the house after I got out of the hospital was to go to women's choir. A friend picked Emily and I up since Todd was at work. I felt so much more human and it was nice to be among people again. While I was in the hospital and for a couple weeks after, I was on the prayer list. And my pastor called me a few time as well as asked how I was in church. Church is pretty much the only reason I leave the house right now and it really is a blessing.

I may have forgotten some things, but I'm thankful I'm alive, out of the hospital and able celebrate Christmas!

Monday, December 22, 2014

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies Review - Spoilers!

I know I'm late to the game. This is the only Tolkien movie that I did not see at midnight on release day. That has to do with the whole hospital thing and especially the no driving thing. But yesterday after church I finally got to see it in RPX 3D! I have many thoughts but mostly I loved it.

Spoilers after the poster!

Image: Wikipedia.com










I didn't get a chance to re-watch the first two movies. But over my lifetime, I've probably read The Hobbit more than a dozen times. So I remember what is suppose to happen. The Battle of the Five Armies is actually not too off the mark as far as the book goes.

I remember watching the first movie and just loving Thorin. In the book he just seemed like kind of an ass, but Richard Armitage bring so much life to the character. I was sad watching the first movie because I knew what happens.

Thorin and his craziness were spot on. The crazy eyes were especially good. Richard Armitage is an excellent actor.

The 'love' triangle between Killi, Legolas and Tauriel was stupid. Like I said, I don't remember the 2nd movie that much, but did Killi and Tauriel have that much time to 'fall in love'? I remember some jail cell banter but not much else.

But thankfully it didn't take up much time in the movie. I think part of the reason they did it was to make Killi's death all that more tragic. In the book, both Filli and Killi get one line about their death, that basically says they are dead. I think some of the other dwarves should have dead but didn't, but that's a minor thing.

I did spend a lot of the battle, which is a bulk of the movie think 'Where are the eagles? Where the heck are the eagles?" I was really hoping they wouldn't leave the eagles out and count the 2nd orc army as the 5th army. But in the end, Radagast did come with the eagles. And we get to see Beorn dive bomb into the battle while turning into a bear, which was awesome.

In the book, Gandalf goes away and then shows back up at the end. I really loved how they showed what Gandalf was up to - book purists probably didn't but I like it. I found it pretty funny to see Saruman fighting for the side of good.

We get to see the setup for several things going into Lord of the Rings which was interesting. And my favorite part was at the end. Because they actually included the sale of  'dead' Bilbo's things.

I wasn't sure they would include this because they cut out the Scouring of the Shire out of the Return of the King movie. But at the end, was a confused Bilbo and then some confused hobbits because here he was, back from the dead. After it ties everything together - going from young Bilbo to old Bilbo on the day of his 111th Birthday.

It really didn't have a lot of flaws, and it was an excellent movie. I'm happy I got to see it in the theater and I cannot wait to see all six movies in order! That will be an awesome marathon for some weekend!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Perks of Working from Home

My workspace
You may or may not know that I work from home doing tech support. I've done this since August 2012. I work tech support and it's like any other call center job. But working from home has a lot of perks.

This first one isn't really a work from home perk but it's a perk. My boss is great and understanding. My coworkers are funny and help the day go on. And yes, I have coworkers. I'm on a team and we can talk in a chat room. We have one room for business stuff and another where we can talk about anything - and we do when it's not busy.

One of the biggest work from home perks for me, is I can work in my pj's. And I do. With all my health issues being comfortable while I work is really great. I can also work in the dark and there are no bright fluorescent lights. This really helps a lot with my migraines.

After my seizures happened last month,  I was told that I wouldn't be able to drive for three months. If I worked outside the home, I'd be screwed since Todd works 2nd shift. But since I work from home, it's business as usual. I did ease myself back in, thank again to a great boss, but I've been back full time for a couple of weeks now.

Working home works great for me. It seems like more and more people are going that route as well. As someone who has chronic pain, it really helps me be able to be comfortable, be able to crash into bed after my shift if needed but still make a living to help my family.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The State of Mandy

I may do these posts from time to time - in part so I can see how my recovery is progressing.

It has been a little over two weeks since I was let out of the hospital. Since then, I'm back to work full time. I'm very thankful that my job let me ease back into working by letting me do half days the first week back. And I'm thankful my job didn't try to fire me. I know there are jobs out there that would have - I've heard the horror stories. But I have a super boss who's been great throughout all of this.

The depression is getting better since I'm bad on my antidepressants. I have up days and down days but it's not the black cloud of doom I felt before. If I didn't have Todd and Emily, I may have been suicidal before - that's how bad I felt. But thankfully the pills are helping. Now the depression I feel is situational, because this situation sucks. But it's not as deep and black which is good.

I'm still pretty tired. Not as bad as the first week in December. Even working half days would wipe me right out. I did way over do it on Sunday. We went to church and went early because the choir I'm in was singing. After choir was Sunday School. I go to the Blessed and Stressed class and now that Todd has to come, he goes too. We are blessed but certainly stressed. It's a class kind of geared towards parents trying to juggle everything.

We went home and just vegged for a bit before Todd dropped Emily and I off at the Mountain Play Lodge for a birthday party. Todd had mixed up the dates and had volunteered to work on a friend of a friend's car. So I had to go with Emily while Todd worked on the car.

I mostly sat in the nice chairs they have but Emily would want me to come see what she was doing. I would also do my normal thing of take some pictures of Emily. Todd did come just before pizza and cake time. It was just brakes and he's really good at that.

Things were starting to get spinny at that point. I ate some pizza, and then some pie and ice cream. Not because I was hungry but because I was hoping it will help stop me from feeling so weak. It didn't. After the party, we went to the grocery store, and got some food. I had to hold onto the cart and Todd had to steer to. But we made it through and I ended back in bed.

I've been feeling a little better since then but still majorly tired. I have a bit of a cold which is not helping but trying to get over that too. It's winter and I have a kid so that's going to happen.

The memory issues are still plaguing me. Not much change there. Memory lapses like passwords still happen and I'm still glad I'm not allowed to drive. Around the house, I don't have issues but out and about I still have flashes of 'where the heck am I?'

Sadly I realized the last few days that I don't remember hardly anything from the Browncoat Ball, Emily's Birthday or Halloween. Makes me sad but not trying to push it. I'm staying away from pictures of all three because I don't want to overload myself.

Christmas is fast approaching and I'm feeling better about it - at least more than when the dark cloud of depression was handing over me. But honestly I'm ready for it to be over and for it to be 2015. I'm ready for a new start.

But I'm very thankful for all the family and friends who has been so supportive of us. I really, really appreciate it

Friday, December 12, 2014

"Just Be Happy"

Image: vilagvaltozik.sfblogs.net 
Like everyone, I have pet peeves. The biggest pet peeve I have stems back eleven years when my chronic pain first started.

I went through nine months of hell trying to get my chronic pan under control. Tried everything under the sun, and none of it work. Finding some home remedies and my triggers helped a lot in the end.

But I got a lot of "Just be happy" from a lot of people during that time. I was depressed - it wasn't chemical - it was 'this situation really blows' depression. Years later after experiencing chemical depression, I know for sure that's what it was.

But people kept telling me to be happy like it was something I could just flip a switch. I was in pain, no-one knew why, I was still grieving the loss of my mom and I was hours away from my friends. I was going to be depressed! So all the 'be happy's' got to be super annoying.

I haven't been 'Be Happied" in years, but it happened yesterday and it was still super annoying. I'm going through a lot right now with my health, and my depression has been really bad. This one is chemical and thankfully my antidepressants are starting to work and the black cloud is starting to lift. But like it was eleven years ago, I cannot flip a switch and just be happy. That's not how the human body works.

I know the 'be happy' people don't mean anything about it, but if you ever have the desire to tell someone to 'just be happy' - DON'T! Especially if you know if that person is in the midst of a bad time. Be supportive, check to make sure they are doing okay, but never, every say 'Just be happy'



Thursday, December 11, 2014

On Memory Loss


Image: blog.foodnetwork.com
So the worst part of this whole aftermath of the seizures is the memory loss. To simplify, I say it's short term but it's not exactly that. Things a year ago and before - I can remember with the same clarity I did before. After that, it gets fuzzy in bits.

The day before I had the seizures. I don't really remember. I know, thanks to Facebook, that I took Emily to a Christmas festival thing. The day I had the seizures until the day before Thanksgiving, I don't remember at all.

I have vague memories of waking up in the ICU. I don't think I'll every forgot the feeling of discomfort and horror at the catheter. I also vaguely remember that the TV was huge in the ICU.

Once I woke up and they recognized that I was lucid, the catheter was taken out and I was moved to a regular room. I have dribs and drabs over the next few days. I slept a lot and watched a lot of movies. I do remember Thanksgiving and watching the parade with Todd and Emily and then the Lions. And I did have turkey for dinner. My aunt Sue and uncle Gary came to visit me and I remember that too - but all the days all kind of ran together as they do when you are in the hospital.

Since getting out of the hospital, it seems like every day I've forgotten some major. They come back to me, here and there, but there are still a lot of gaps. And I forget the strangest things.

If I'm standing up, I'll just turn our TV off in the living room off at the TV. I could not remember how to do that. I started up a movie that I love, Divergent, that I saw in the theater four or five times, and it was like a whole new movie.

And then there are the passwords. I've had to start a word file of all the passwords I keep forgetting, mostly for work, so I'll have them when I forget them again. Even outside of word, I think I've had to change my password on everything at least once. Passwords are not sticking at all.

Finally I have teeny tiny memory gaps. Todd always comes in my office before he goes to work to get his shoes. I'm still working to I hear him. Today I didn't so I took my break and had to go ask Emily if Todd had actually gone to work - he had.

I'll be doing something or standing somewhere, and I'll completely lose my train of thought or where I am. And it always takes me a minute to get my bearings again.

Todd doesn't think this should be a big deal but I HATE it. I'd rather have a level 8 migraine instead of dealing with the swiss cheese brain.

I know it's temporary but I do not look forward to several more months of this. I totally understand why I'm not allowed to drive though.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Grief and Elsa

Image: disney.wikia.com
I'm having a lot of grief issues with this whole seizure thing. I grieve for my lost days, I grieve for the fact that I could have easily died, and I grieve for the inability to give Emily the best Christmas ever.

Yes, I know a lot of these, especially the last is silly and stupid. But I grieve all the same. I think part of this is that I'm Elsa.

Not with the cool freezing powers but 'conceal don't feel' is something that is very familiar to me. My parents Elsa-ised me without realizing it. My sister was a problem child, always getting into trouble. So I was encouraged to be the good child. It wasn't too much of  a stretch for me, but I tended to take it too far sometimes. I would push my feeling down and push my feelings down until I would get to a breaking point and just explode. Just like Elsa, but again, less cool.

This caused me a lot of problems with relationships. My first serious relationship was full of fighting in part because I sucked at fighting. Luckily I learned how to fight better which has helped with things with me and Todd. That's why we've been married for 8 years.

But I'm experiencing the 'conceal don't feel' again with all the grief I'm feeling. I know logically that I shouldn't be as upset as I am, but I am. I keep crying and feeling sad. I know that I need to let the grief run it's course but my Elsa-ness doesn't want to let me.

So dear friends, I may be a little up and down for a little while. Todd and I have a plan to work on changing my lifestyle but it's going to take a while. Even he realizes that he's an odd duck the way he make a 360 change to his lifestyle after he got his MS diagnosis.

I just need some gentle handling in the next week or so. I promise not to wallow too long.  Christmas is going to be rough this year and even though I'll want to 'conceal don't feel' through the holidays I'll try to feel in a normal sort of way.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Seizures and the Hospital

The worst of the bruises
The day before Thanksgiving can be a hectic one. This year, it's one I don't remember much of. Because the day before Thanksgiving, I woke up in the hospital.

I had been in the hospital already for five days. I had been seemingly awake but in no means lucid. I had fallen several times and had been having seizures. I have no memory of those five days. I do have the evidence though - I'm all bruised up from the falls, especially on my right arm.

I think waking up in the hospital, in the ICU, with a catheter in, was about the scariest experience of my life. I was disorientated and scared. As soon as they saw that I was awake and out of the seizure woods, they moved me to a regular room and they took the catheter out. There is nothing so great as being able to pee on your own.

I spent the next five days in a regular hospital room. That included Thanksgiving but I wasn't too sad about that. We don't have cable at home but cable was available in the hospital so I could see the parade and the Lions play. It was also extremely weak so I knew I needed to be in the hospital at first.

Since I had been taken by ambulance they took me to the closest hospital which was Park Ridge. I would have rather been taken to Mission but it wasn't my choice. Park Ridge was ok but it wasn't Mission either. After a few days in a regular room, my meds were weaned off. That was ok, but they still weren't wanting to let me go. I was also having extreme issues with the IV's.

I give blood several times a year and because of this I know that my veins are small and crappy. So I got stuck a bunch of times in a bunch of different places. One night I got no sleep because every time I'd move, an alarm would go off. It was awful!

I did have some visitors. Todd and Emily mostly - they came every day, at least the days that I can remember. My Aunt Sue and Uncle Gary were awesome and came all the way from GA on Sunday to visit me. It was nice to see them.

Finally by Monday I'd had enough and I was leaving come hell or high water. Thankfully the doctor saw no reason to keep me any longer and actually willingly discharged me. I got out a little before noon on Monday. There is nothing like ten days in the hospital to feel heavenly!

I'm still on the mend. I went back to work yesterday but my boss is awesome and letting me ease into work. Today was better than yesterday and I'm sure it will just get better. I have a bunch of doctor's appointments to look forward to and I'm sad this happened in December. Hopefully I can still make it a decent one for Emily and I feel very blessed that a coworker of Todd's gave us a tree - it's new and in the box still!

That's what happened to me and I pray that it never happens again. I don't think I've ever been so scared in my life.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Being Invisible

Emily with Chronic Pain Bear
I'm going to start this post out that I'm not writing this to try and get sympathy. I just wanted to share some thoughts about how having an invisible illness can make you feel invisible sometimes.

I've talked about this a lot - how I suffer from daily chronic headaches that often turn into migraines. I'm sure a lot of people think it's probably no big deal. There are a lot of people who don't know what a migraine is, that it's much, much more than a bad headache. Because of this, it's not in the same ranking as other diseases out there.

Case in point, my husband got diagnosed with MS in January. It's a horrible debilitating disease, but at this point, he's ok. He's noticing some small things, but he hasn't had an episode in over a year. He did what he had to do - he changed his eating habits and started exercising. He's lost 50 to 60 pounds and is in the best shape he's been in since I've know him.

Me on the other hand, my pain levels have gotten worse. So much so, that I had to go to the ER a few weeks ago. I muddle through but there isn't anything that I can do because no treatment I've tried works. Can you guess who's health issue worries our loves more? Can you guess who gets more questions about the state of health? Hint, it's not me.

I don't begrudge Todd all the inquiries about his health. I worry about him too, but I live with him so I see that he's in much better shape that I am. For me, I'm just invisible.

I'm on several Facebook groups with other people with chronic pain. It seems like every week, someone is talking about how their spouse has left because they couldn't deal with the constant pain of their significant other. I'm very lucky to be married to Todd - we started dating when my pain first started. We've been together over a decade and our marriage is still strong.

Emily is also a blessing to me. Even though I probably should not have put my body through a pregnancy, I'm thankful every day for my little girl, even though I've been told that I shouldn't talk about my illness with her at all. She knows about my chronic though and I think it makes her a more compassionate person.

I also try to be a more compassionate person. I have several friends who suffer from chronic illness, and I try to keep up with how they are doing. I know how isolating it is to have a disease with no cure.

In the past, I've lost several friends in part because of my chronic pain. Even two so-called best friends. I know that my pain makes me flaky sometimes, but I'd love to be invited to things. If I feel well enough, I love getting out of the house and doing fun things.

My situation is complicated by the fact that I have to bring Emily with me just about everywhere I go because Todd works 2nd shift. She's old enough now that I can at least go to choir practice and Emily will sit quietly and color. But I tend not to go to the variety of geek stuff around town because Emily may be bored. I would love to be able to game again but I don't see that happening. I'd love to play board games, but most of our games really don't work well with just two people.

It really is a first world problem but it is one that it compounded by the fact that I'm invisible. If I keep having to cancel, I stop getting invited. I fade into the woodwork and am not thought of - at least that's how it feels.

When someone gets sick with something that is even vaguely treatable, it seems like people will flock to them. Keep up with their triumphs and their defeats. When someone has chronic pain, people are there at the beginning but then they fade away. I know it can be hard to deal with seeing a friend whose in pain, but think about how that friend must feel.

Now, I didn't really write this for myself. Yes, I get lonely sometimes. The vast majority of my friends live in the internet and I don't get out of the house a lot. But a lot of that is my own choice or a product of the situation I'm in right now with only one car and a husband who works 2nd shift.

But if you have a friend who has a chronic disease - something that they will be dealing with the rest of their life, try and remember to include them. Text or send an email to see how they are doing every once in a while. Try to keep them visible instead of letting them fade away.







Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Chronic Pain and Drug Use

Image: rockbox122.wordpress.com
I've talked about my chronic pain issues in the past. I can't take any preventive for my migraines - and I've tried just about everything. When my pain gets bad, all I can do is rest and rest and pray for the pain levels to go down.

I'm on several chronic pain and migraine support groups on Facebook, though I don't quite fit in. But I'm horrified to read the stories of people being denied treatment at the ER, from their doctors - all because the health care professionals are afraid that chronic pain patients are actually drug addicts.

A few weeks ago, I spent a week in really bad pain. None of my normal ways of coping was making this level 8 to 9 migraine go down at all. Finally I decided that I had suffered enough and we went to the ER.

I waited for three hours to be taken back, and when I was taken back there wasn't an open room. I was asked if I minded if I was just on a bed in the hallway. I didn't care, I just wanted to be treated. I got settled into bed, and I wasn't there very long when they wheeled another guy in and stuck him right by me.

He had called the ambulance because he also had a migraine. He got back around the time I did, but I got treated faster. I was given Dilaudid, which is a narcotic. That was exactly what the other guy wanted, and he started complaining bitterly that he was waiting to be treated.

The nurse brought him basically aspirin and saline. He demanded narcotics, and the nurse told him that his pain management doctor wouldn't allow him to have more narcotics and that he had been treated with Dilaudid two days before. He continued to complain about his pain, and the doctor came out and explained the same thing. When he realized that they wouldn't treat him the way he wanted, he took out his IV and left.

I felt bad for him, but Todd thought he was an addict. I do know that taking Dilaudid too much can lead to rebound migraines which are generally worse than the first migraine. that happened to me when my chronic pain first started.

Pain is awful and not being in pain can be addicting. I'd give just about anything to have the constant, daily pain go away for even a while. I'll never know what that guy's story was, but I hope he got some relief at some point.


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Star Wars, NaNo and The Middle

Last week, I did something that I've been putting off. I finally showed Emily Star Wars.

I had been putting it off because Star Wars was my first real fandom. I was born in 1977 and my dad loved Star Wars. I grew up playing with Star Wars toys and one of my early memories is going to see Return of the Jedi in the theater. I wanted Emily to love it, or at least like it, so I kept putting it off and putting it off.

She really enjoyed it. We've only gotten through A New Hope but hopefully this weekend we will watch Empire and Jedi as well. Her favorite character is R2-D2 and she actually quote Star Wars to me out of the blue yesterday making my geek heart soar.

I do have a confession to make though. As a kid, I never really liked Empire Strikes Back too much. The majority of the movie is either Luke and Yoda training or everyone else running and hiding. To kid Mandy, all of this was boring. The best parts of the movie to kid Mandy were Hoth and Cloud City. I still loved Empire, but I loved A New Hope and Jedi more.

As an adult, I can see why Empire is so great. But childhood preferences still linger. As I was thinking about this, I came to a realization. Middles are hard and I'm not super fond of them.

I'm taking part in National Novel Writing Month for the 8th or 9th year. NaNo is where you try to write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November. I'm writing the middle book of my trilogy and the words have not been flowing. I came to the realization that the words might not be flowing because it's the middle!

I'm sure all the words will come out and I will continue to watch Empire Strikes Back. But it is funny how childhood preferences can hold over to adulthood.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Browncoat Ball 2014 - Saturday & Sunday

This is the 2nd post of my Browncoat Ball 2014 recap - click here to read the 1st post!

Saturday of the Ball dawned clear and cold. I was awake very early. I think I subconsciously didn't want to miss breakfast because it only went from 8:30 to 9:30.

Breakfast was a buffet and I ate about a pig's worth of bacon. I love bacon! For the rest of the morning, I helped move the vendor tables and  hung out in the game room.

Lunch was Asian inspired and our entertainment was the Fruity Oaty Girls. The same dancers who had done the Hulu and fire dancing did all kinds dances for us throughout the weekend. They actually painted themselves blue! They were super cute and their dancing was great.

We also did the next act of the murder mystery - it was a lot of fun. Especially since the ones of us taking part didn't know who did it.

After lunch, I went on a hayride. The fall colors were really beautiful and the ride was really
relaxing! I caught the end Craig Holcombe's geek comedy act and it was really funny!

I didn't do much the rest of the afternoon. My stomach was starting to not feel great so I just rested. When it was time, I got all gussied up. I was one of the first people who arrived to the hall where the Ball itself was happening. I got my picture taken and mingled before dinner.

Dinner was excellent, though my stomach was still not feeling great. During dinner we got to the next act of the murder mystery. Once that was done, another geek comedian, Art Sturtevant, took the stage. He was so funny!

Once Art was done, everyone who wanted got to learn how to do the Virginia Reel. I did this and a few of the other square dances but then I started to feel really sick. So I opted to go back to the cabin.

The main hall was the only place were wifi signal was good so I did linger a bit to download a book to the Kindle app on my phone. I wanted to rest up so I could go see Mikey Mason perform.

A bit of a side bar - I had been a fan of Mikey's for years but the fates didn't seem to want to let me see him perform live. Many years ago, a friend and I were going to Charlotte's CSTS where he was performing, and we had car troubles and didn't arrive until the middle of the movie. We missed Mikey though.

I wasn't going to let a stomach bug keep me from seeing him perform. So I left the Ball to go lay down for an hour. I still didn't feel great but I trekked up to the Fireside Hall and got a seat next to the fire.

Seeing Mikey Mason live was worth it! He is very talented and extremely funny! After his concert, I went back to lay down. Later I heard I missed the most epic karaoke ever, but I knew I wasn't up to.

I was only able to get a few hours of sleep. In the morning, I tried to eat a little but didn't put it. I was well enough to finish up the murder mystery. Alas, I was not the killer. I watched the raffle prizes be given out - though I didn't buy any raffle tickets.

Thankfully Todd and Emily came to get me pretty early. He got everything packed up from the carnival and Emily helped me take my stuff to the car.

Despite feeling ill on Saturday night, I really did have a great time! The Murder Mystery was a lot of fun and a great twist to make this Ball unique.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Veggie Tales and the Change of DOOM!

Have you heard of Veggie Tales? Cute cartoons that use animated vegetables that tell Bible and other stories to spread the word of God. Well apparently Veggie Tales has done something completely and utterly unforgivable.

They changed the art style.

Yep, that's it but it has people on the Veggie Tales website demanding that they go back to the old style. Saying that the Veggies look creepy, that the makers of Veggies are sellouts and one guy said the Veggies look like rapist. Yes, seriously!


Things change. I don't mind the new look. Yes, it's different but it's not bad. As shown in the comment from Facebook, Emily doesn't mind either. She's a big fan of Veggie Tales and I know she'll enjoy the new Netflix series that is coming out soon.

What do you all think of the new Veggie Tales? Is their look that horrible? I wonder if I'm missing something because I don't get the rage.




Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Christmas Overreach

I love Christmas. I want to get that out first thing. But I don't love Christmas in the beginning of November or in late October. I'm not even very fond of Christmas in July. But the Christmas overreach has been creeping in and taking over other holidays.

Yesterday I read and shared an article from Jezebel called Christmas Must Be Stopped. Let's Declare War on Christmas. The author talks about the war on Christmas being the overtaking of Thanksgiving and now even Halloween. She also mentions that too much of a good thing can be overwhelming. I totally agree with her.

When I was a kid, the Christmas stuff didn't show up in stores until around Thanksgiving. Black Friday was a thing but didn't happen until early Friday morning. My family had our own traditions. We stayed home on Thanksgiving, preferring to make the 3 hour trek to where most of our family lived for Christmas.

On Thanksgiving, we'd watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. We'd have a small lunch of cheese, crackers and summer sausage. While my mom got our feast ready, my dad would watch the Lions play football while my sister and I would decorate our rooms for Christmas.

Over the rest of the weekend, we'd go cut down our tree and and deck our halls. My mom loved Christmas so nearly every room of our house was decked. Christmas lasted all December and it was wonderful and joyous.

After my mom passed away, Christmas lost some of its' magic. When Emily was born, it regained some and we started up some of my old traditions. We do generally travel on Thanksgiving - either to see our family in GA or Charlotte. But we generally get our tree and our halls decked in late November / early December.

Once the end of December comes around, I'm ready for Christmas to be over with. Commercialization rules the roost instead of the birth of Christ (which is the reason for the season for us since we are Christians).

I refuse to do anything Christmas related until after Thanksgiving. The snow rule is the only exception and I've already used that up this year. So I'm all for a war on Christmas - go Halloween and Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

The Snow Rule

I may be a bit weird, but I make up little rules for myself. Usually to motivate myself into doing something. But the snow rule is different.

I don't remember when I came up with the snow rule, but it's been in effect for me for many years. The rule is simple - if it snows before Thanksgiving, I must watch a Christmas show.

Since moving to NC, I have not be subject to the Christmas rule. We don't get a ton of snow and usually any snow comes in January. But when I looked out my window this morning, the ground was white.

I'm not thrilled at snow so early in the year. But I will follow the snow rule and watch a Christmas show. Todd says we should watch Barney Christmas on Netflix, but that is not happening.

Friday, October 31, 2014

My Ghost Adventures - My Haunted House

I've been writing a series of my ghostly encounters. I've talked about how my basement felt haunteddorm room spirit messages, and ghosts of the theaters and the office I worked at. This is my last post on this, until something else happens, which may happen since I live in a haunted house.

We bought our house in the winter of 2007. At first, nothing really odd happened. About six months after we moved in, I started noticing things. It was little noises like footsteps down the hall. Todd thought I was crazy, but I was sure our house was haunted.

After Emily was born, the activity amped up quite a bit which caused Todd to finally believe that we did have a ghost. When Emily was very small, I'd stay up with her if she was awake in the night. I'd wake Todd up in the morning and pass her off so I could get a little bit of sleep.

I was sleeping one day and Todd had Emily in the living room. He often who lean back in our recliner and have her on his chest. One day, he actually fell asleep one morning and he was shook until he woke up! I was fast asleep and no-one else was in the house.

Emily would also giggle and coo at nothing when she was a baby. We figure that she was seeing the ghost. Since she's gotten older, she hasn't seen anything though.

We hear footsteps down the hall sometimes and the ghost likes to hang out in the bathroom for some reason. Todd has seen the ghost move our towels and he/she likes to close the bathroom door when our cat Willow is in the tub.

It's not scary though - the ghost isn't evil or anything. They are just there. Though Todd and I have both decided that we aren't going to do any research on our house to find out who the ghost might be until after we move. We don't want to stir anything up.

Up Next - Ghost Cat!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Browncoat Ball 2014 - Friday

My home Browncoat group has been the Greenville, SC for about seven years now. Greenville is about 45 minutes from where I live, and there was not an active Asheville group at the time. Last year, we decided to try and bid for the Browncoat Ball. Many of us had been on the planning committee for the Charlotte Ball in 2010. We got the Ball and after a year of planning, the morning of October 17th dawned.

I was the first one to arrive since we had a small window for Todd to bring me and unload my stuff since Emily was in school. Once everyone else on the planning committee arrived, we unloaded everything and got setup.

The afternoon was pretty quiet. People started trickling in and a lot of people went down to do the zip line. I went down late in the afternoon. The worst part was climbing up to the tower because it was just a rope net and while I had a safety harness, it was hard climbing up there. Once I was up on the top of the tower, the actual zip lining was a lot of fun.

After that, it was time for supper. It was a Wash inspired luau complete with hulu dancers. The food
was really good - pineapple and chicken skewers were a highlight for me. After supper was done, I went on the night hike. We did little activities during the hike and it was really interesting to try to adjust our eyes to the darkness.

Fire dancers were next and they were really great! They did several dances with different objects on fire. They were very cool under fire (pun intended!) even when one dropped a fan. Luckily they were also very prepared - had heavy blankets to put each fire-y objects out.

After that, a lot of us went into the gaming room. I finally got to play Cards Against Humanity - which is basically Apples to Apples for adults. We played for hours - rotating out players as we went. I did pretty well for my first time playing!

I finally headed to bed around midnight. I made myself go to bed because I knew I had to be up early the next morning.

Up Next - Saturday and the Ball

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Emily's 6th Birthday!

Because the Browncoat Ball was the weekend of Emily's actual birthday, we opted to have her party the weekend before. My dad and his wife came into town a few days before and kept Emily with them.

This gave Todd and I a chance to go on a date night as well as get things ready for the party. Todd made her cake the night before and I put together the Lego sets that were going to be her cake toppers. Emily had also requested a Ninjago pumpkin. Thanks to Pinterest, I was able to carve that as well.

The morning of her party dawned very, very wet. This made me very nervous since the party was
outside at the park. And I had no idea how many people were coming because half of her class didn't RSVP.

I tried not to freak out and I went to church. My dad, his wife, Esther, and Emily met us there. After church, we went home and my aunt, uncle and Emily's friend / 2nd cousin, Elliot. We all went out to brunch at IHOP and then went home to wait for Todd's aunt and grandmother.

Finally it was time to go to the park. The sky was overcast but it had stopped raining. We had brought towels to wipe down any surfaces that needed to be and set up in the covered shelter.

Emily had wanted to have a Ninja party because she loves Lego Ninjado. While looking on Amazon, I found inflatable ninja swords and got those as party favors. It was a great purchase because for most of the party the kids were happy to run around the park, waving their swords around.

We all ended up in the pavilion, with the adults blowing up balloons and the kids chasing them about. Todd had forgotten the cake knife at home and while he was going to get it, Emily opened her presents.

Right after she finished with the presents, Todd arrived and it was time for cake. Todd's grandmother has a cake that is famous in the family and no-one has been able to duplicate it before. Todd tried the cake and failed badly but he managed to perfect the frosting. It got his grandmother's seal of approval. He's trying to make the cake - his 2nd attempt was better but not quite it.

The birthday party broke up and we took Emily's haul home. Then we went to see my dad and Esther for a bit since they were leaving early the next day. Emily fell asleep in my arms for a bit - she had had an exciting day.

It's hard to follow up Disney World, but Emily said she had a good birthday.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Forced to Age Gracefully

There has been a whole hubbub the last few days over Renee Zellweger and her new look. I think she looks different but fine - it's not my face or body so it doesn't really matter to me what she looks like. But it got me thinking about the different standards when it comes to aging.

Women aren't suppose to age. Ridiculous, yes, but it's true. Have you ever seen those commercials for anti-aging creme? Have you ever seen a man hawking such a product? Of course not! Men are allowed to age normally whereas women are expected to look as youthful as possible.

It's all bullshit of course but it doesn't stop us from feeding into it. Premature greying runs in my family. Supposedly my grandmother on my dad's side went completely grey by age 16. Of course she started dying her hair.

My sister started finding grey hairs around the same age and she was horrified. She would yank out any she would find. On the other hand, my dad has been grey for as long as I can remember. While some men might feel the need to dye their hair, my dad didn't. It hasn't hurt his career or his dating life after my mom passed.

I've always had a lax attitude towards beauty products. I've always looked younger than I am - once someone thought I was 13 when I was actually over 21. I don't wear makeup and I only color my hair for fun. Lately I've noticed that I'm starting to go grey myself but I'm not going to do anything about it because it's just a part of aging.

In part it's laziness. Putting on make-up takes time and I just don't care. In part it's money because I'd rather spend mine on other things rather than make-up. I am who I am, and that hasn't stopped me from landing a husband, so I'm good.

But I'm just a normal person so I can get away with that. Celebrities, especially women, seem to be pressured into staying as young as possible for their career. That's why so many celebrities get plastic surgery - to stay youthful looking. It doesn't always work.

One of my favorite book series touched on this. The Belgariad by David Eddings is a wonderful sword and sorcery series. In it, there are several magic users who are several thousand years old. Belgarath looks the part as an old man with wrinkles and grey hair, but his daughter Polgara looks to be mid-30's with black hair. When the young boy Garion asks Belgarath why Polgara doesn't look old, he replies that none would take a women who looks old seriously. Sadly this can be true even in our world.

I don't really have a solution to this issue but it's a real one. Hopefully I will still love myself as I continue to age and hopefully that will give at least my daughter a good role model for aging gracefully.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Jamberry!

I'm still decompressing after the Browncoat Ball this past weekend. There will be a post coming on that, but I'd thought I'd post a little about Jamberry.

You may or may not have heard about Jamberry - they are nail wraps that come in a host of different designs. I actually heard of them years ago but I thought they were so sort of fake nails. In truth, they are really nail stickers.

A friend added me to her Jamberry party a while ago and I was able to get a sample. They were very cute and super easy to put on. I've tried doing nail art on my own and it always turns out pretty crappily. This way, I can have nail art without having to be artist myself.

They did last much longer than the painted nails. In the picture, the black and white nails are Jamberry. One of the things that I like most about Jamberry, is the fact that it takes so much less time to put on.

I got an accent sheet for agreeing to host a party in October. I used a couple of them for the Browncoat Ball. It took me maybe ten minutes to put the wraps on the four nails. To paint the rest of my nails, it took several hours to make sure they were all the way dry.

For the Ball, I was on the planning committee and spent Friday helping haul and set up. My painted nails didn't fair so well and started chipping by that afternoon. The Jamberry wraps still looked great all weekend.

With Jamberry, once they are on, I don't have to wait for them to dry. I can just go back to doing what I like to do - like work on my current cross stitch project. It's just another added benefit to me.

A friend of mine just started selling Jamberry so I volunteered to have a party. If you want to join in, get some free samples to try out for yourself, just follow the link. Jamberry is really wonderful and I can't wait to get more designs to try out.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Cross Stitch and Technology

I'm not terribly crafty though I try to be. The hobby I enjoy the most is cross stitching. I started back when I was in high school - probably learned during Camp Fire Girls - but I don't remember exactly. I do remember stitching an elaborate Christmas scene for my mom one year. 

For the last few years, I've been working on a Christmas stocking for Emily. I finished that earlier this year and I found that the world of cross stitch has changed a bit. For one, there are a lot of legitimately free patterns out there to download. There are also several websites out there where you can turn your pictures into cross stitch patterns.

I got some patterns - ok a lot of patterns - and I printed some out. I am used to having a paper pattern to stitch from. I got a tablet for the first time this year, and I decided to put the pdf of the pattern I was working on onto the tablet.

Working from the tablet is wonderful! I can change the size so I can zoom in on the part of the pattern I'm working on. It took a while to get used to it, but I don't think I'll go back to papers. Even when I use a kit that isn't digital, I'll probably scan it so I can use it on my iPad.

Even though I've been cross stitching for nearly 20 years, it's nice when technology can make it easier!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Child Molestation

I want to say up front that I'm totally against child molestation. Because it's one of those things that is just plain wrong and I think that's something just about everyone can agree on. 

When I was in college, I did a lot of LARPing. LARP stands for Live Action Role Play. Most of the time I played Vampire: The Masquerade, but I did play in a Changling game for a while. There wasn't a lot of players but one was this shy guy who seemed really nice.

I considered him a friend until his room was raided and gigs of child porn was found on his computer. That made me feel icky by association. I'm not sure what happened to him, but I hope he got help.

The news broke yesterday that Stephen Collins who was the dad in 7th Heaven admitted to be a child molester. I feel extremely icky because I just met the man at Dragon Con a couple months ago. He was super nice and I was happy to meet him at that point because I love 7th Heaven. I don't think I'll ever be able to watch that show the same way again.

Like with my friend from college, I hope he gets help. But I hope his victims are able to get help as well. It's an awful, awful thing to do to a child.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Weather.com is Stressing Me Out!

In my infinite wisdom, I decided to have Emily's birthday at a local park. We had her birthday party outside before but I'm feeling more on edge this year.

I'm feeling stressed in part because I haven't gotten hardly any Yes RSVP's from her classmates and in part because the Browncoat Ball is looming and I have a lot I need to do for that. But the thing that is stressing me out most is the stupid 10 day forecast on the Weather Channel's mobile app.

The weather is one of the things that I can't control. And the forecast for the day of Emily's party keeps changing! It can change wildly from day to day and even hour to hour. They will say it will be nice and warm, or cloudy and cooler, or rainy and thunderstorm.

Right now, it's suppose nice and I'm praying that it stays that way. I also hope some kids show up to the party as well! Her church friends should be coming and that will make her happy as well as relatives from all over. Next year we are going to take a trip - birthday parties are too stressful for me!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

My Ghost Adventures - Office Ghosts

Image - imgarcade.com
I've been writing a series of my ghostly encounters. I've talked about how my basement felt haunted, dorm room spirit messages, and ghosts of the theaters I worked at. But the theaters weren't the only haunted places that I've worked at.

The first place I worked at after we moved to NC had a haunted women's bathroom. The first stall was always colder than the rest of the bathroom. And the door of that stall would slam shut on it's own. There were no windows in that room and it would happen when the door was closed.

I was only a temporary worker at that job. My next job was extremely haunted. I had a ton of experiences in the two years I work there.

Part of my job was taking pictures of custom woven products and I got a lot of spirit orbs in my pictures. My cube wasn't near a window at all and I'd take a bunch of pictures at a time. The orbs would only show up in a few of the pictures.

My first job with that company was customer service rep for a line of picture throws. It was a very popular gift at Christmas time so I volunteered to work after my shift in that department during the busy season. I was given permission to act as kind of a 2nd shift supervisor. I sat at the actual supervisor's desk and was able to access the email to address issues that way.

The rest of the 2nd shift reps were in an office in the back so I'd be alone in the front office. There was lot of voices and noises that would happen. The voice I heard most of the time in that area was a man's voice. I'd hightail it back to the other area where people were whenever the voices got too loud and scary.

My regular desk was on a different floor and I'd often just leave my coat and purse up at my desk. That floor was very haunted and this I knew because of the spirit orbs. The noises on that floor when I was the only one on that whole floor were terrifying. Loud bumps and voices - and the air was thick. It didn't feel good and I always hightailed it out of there as fast as I could.

Nowadays I do work still someplace haunted, but that's because I live in a haunted house!

Up Next - My Haunted House

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Eight Years of Wedded Bliss!

Eight years ago today, I promised to love, honor and cherish my wonderful husband, Todd. We were married on a rainy day, but it never rained on me. But while we were saying our vows we could hear the pouring rain beat down on the roof the church.

We got married in the same church my parents were married in. I hope this will be a good omen since my parents were married until death parted them.

Todd and I have been through a lot in our short eight years as a married couple. Lots of illness - chronic pain for me, and recently MS for him. We've had some job issues and the recession back in 2008 was rough. But we've stayed strong throughout it all.

We are happy to be the parents of a wonderful little girl and right now, despite our illnesses, our life is pretty great.

I think we have a strong marriage because we know how to communicate well. And we have so many similar interests as well!

Happy Anniversary Todd! I love you more and more every day.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

BPAL and Me

Ten years ago today I did something that changed my life forever. I didn't know it was going to change my life, it was a simple thing that I did. Ten years ago today I joined the forums at bpal.org.

The BPAL forums are a fan run site for fan of Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab - a company that makes the most glorious perfume oils. I had never been a perfume wearer until a few weeks before I joined the forum. But the perfume oils didn't smell like anything else I had every smelled before with perfume. I was hooked right away.

Back in those days, forums were one of the most popular ways to chat with people online. Facebook was still in it's infancy, Twitter didn't exist yet and while there was still MySpace and Livejournal, forums were there too for individual topics. These days, the BPAL forum is the only one I visit on a regular basis. Most of my other interaction is via Facebook groups.

Now you may be wondering how a fan run forum could change my life. It wasn't the forum, per say, it was and is the people there. The people on the forum are awesome and kind and honestly my best friends. Not 15,000 of them, but a few.

The forum-ites have been there for me when I was getting married, when I was pregnant, on my low days and on my good days. I've met a few in person, at meet and sniffs and Dragon Con, but most of my dear BPAL friends I've never met outside of cyberspace.

One of those friends is actually the owner and genius behind Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab - Beth.
Beth, me and Emily at Dragon Con 2012
She's been a member of the forum since I joined and it's been great getting to know her through the years. I got to meet her in person at Dragon Con a few years ago and I see her every year there now. She is a wonderful person and her creations are wonderful.

I feel another bond with Beth because our daughters are about the same age. I get to see her daughter through Beth's Facebook posts and I'd love if Emily and Lilith were able to meet someday.

My collection of the actual perfume has gotten smaller over the years. My body has turned against it - whenever I put any on my skin, it morphs into an awful floral and gives me a migraine. I have to use solely scent lockets now because my skin hates me. But Emily has her own small collection of smellies - she loves putting it on, though she kind of over does it because she's five.

This summer the forum went down for several months and it was hard on all of us. There are several BPAL Facebook groups, but it wasn't the same. Someone actually created a temporary, bare bones forum for the interim, but it wasn't the same either. Once the actual forum reopened, it was like coming home.

That action I did ten years ago today was a simple one but it really changed my life. I'm so thankful for all the great friends I've made. Here's to another ten years!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Five Reasons You Should Attend the Browncoat Ball

October starts next week and while many people's thoughts are on pumpkins and ghosts, my thoughts turn to shiny things. That's because there is only a few weeks left before the Browncoat Ball!

The Browncoat Ball started ten years ago by the Chicagoland Browncoats with a goal of bringing Browncoats together to share their love of the show Firefly. The Ball has moved from city to city every year ever since then.

This year, the Browncoat group that I'm a part of is bring the Ball to Greenville, SC. It's going to be a very fun weekend and I'd thought I'd share some reasons why you should attend the Browncoat Ball.

1) Murder Mystery! 

For the first time in Browncoat Ball history, the Ball is going to host a murder mystery! From the Browncoat Ball website:

After the death of Rance Burgess, life changed a lot on Lowther. With no leader, Rance’s gang of thugs disbanded and that desolate moon became a better place. Better, but still no place Petaline Andrews wanted to be. After taking over the bordello and re-naming it Nandi’s, she was ready to leave this moon behind her. She took the girls, her son and an unexpected business partner, Belinda Burgess, to town of Missed Fortune on Planet Deadwood to start over. The women pooled their money and bought the Leland Hotel and Saloon which serves as the new home for Nandi’s. As is the way of the ’Verse, trouble tends to follow them that don’t deserve it. It wasn’t long after their arrival that trouble found them by way of a murder.

It's going to be a lot of fun. One of the first events I ever attended with the Greenville Browncoats was a LARP - it was an awesome weekend of Firefly fun and I made some great friends. I'm looking very forward to playing in the mystery over the weekend!

2) Carnival and Vendors 

I have to plug this part because it's the section that I'm in charge of for the Ball. We are going to have several vendors, including myself, as well as Firefly themed carnival games! It will be happening on Friday so everyone can have something fun to start the Ball with!

3) Mikey Mason

This is one of the things I'm looking forward to most. Mikey Mason, a geeky comedy rock star, is going to emcee the whole weekend as well as perform. I've missed him performing live a bunch of times, so finally I'll get to see him perform.

4) Adventures and Entertainment

Beyond the Ball and the Murder Mystery, there is going to be loads of entertainment. Fire dancers, musicians, belly dancers and more will be performing. There will be zip lines, gaming, fencing classes and more. It's going to be a weekend of non-stop Firefly fun!

5) Meeting Fellow Browncoats

One of the best parts of the Browncoat Ball is hanging out with other Browncoats. People come from all of the country and beyond to attend this yearly gathering of Firefly fans. I've only been to one other Ball - the 2010 one in Charlotte, NC, but I still have friends that I met at that Ball. 

All of these reasons and more are why you should consider coming to this year's Browncoat Ball. Check us out at Facebook and come to the Shiny-est Murder Mystery of them all! Also check out the video teaser at YouTube!





Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Old TV and Gender Roles

Image: jimhalterman.com
Autumn is here! It's the time of year for cooler weather, changing leaves and watching my favorite Halloween themed shows.

Every year, I bring out my DVD of Roseanne Halloween episodes. I watched the show when it was on the air, but I don't really watch it anymore expect the Halloween episodes. I decided to watch a few of the first episodes the other night.

In the episode Trick or Treat, there are two different story lines. In one, Dan is very concerned that his son DJ wants to be a witch for Halloween because witches are girls. He struggles a lot with letting DJ dress how he wants.

In the other story line, Roseanne and Jackie's car breaks down on the way to the Haunted House put on by Dan's lodge. Roseanne is dressed up as a burly mountain man and the costume is good enough that even her friend thinks she's a man. She buddies up to the other men in the bar to see what men talk about when they are alone - it ends up being sex, sex and more sex.

Now Trick or Treat aired in 1990 and the world was not as enlightened as it is now. Roseanne being a sitcom usually doesn't get very heavy but it's nice to see them tackling gender stereotypes a bit.

The sex-crazed man bit got old quickly especially since they implied all men care about it getting laid. But the part about DJ wanting to wear a 'girl's' costume was much more interesting and has become more so since I became a parent.

Eventually Dan gets the advise that it's just a phase that DJ is going through. It's a bit of a cop out, but not surprising for the time period.

This year, Emily wants to be a Ninja for Halloween. She also wants a Ninja birthday party for her 6th birthday. A lot of her interests are 'boy' stuff - it makes me crazy with gender descriptions on toys because she likes what she likes. I don't think her interests are just a phase, though they may change as she grows.

Not having do to with gender roles, I do find it odd to see Jackie and Roseanne having to use a payphone to call Dan after their car breaks down. Even though it's only been 24 years, it's hard to imagine a world without cell phones. At least if my daughter ever wants to watch these episodes with me, I can teach her something about the past!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Texting Groot

You may have seen around the last few days that Groot is able to text. If you haven't seen Guardians of the Galaxy, he is the character that looks like a tree. Also if you haven't seen it, go and see it! It's awesome!

I texted Groot yesterday and got a reply back really fast. I told Emily about it and she immediately wanted to text Groot. He got a bunch of smiley faces and hearts from her. She was very excited when he texted back. If you have any kids, I highly recommend texting Groot because it's very fun!

Just text (866) 740-4531 and you too can have in depth conversations with Groot!