Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Star Wars Experience

Last Friday, I took my daughter to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The movie was amazing and there will be no spoilers in this post, though I think you all should go see it as soon as humanly possible!

But seeing this movie that is part of a fandom that was and still is huge for me in the theater on opening day with my daughter was an amazing experience. We went to an afternoon showing in 2D but the theater was still packed. We had gotten there really early so we were able to get great seats.

With popcorn and drinks, we settled down to watch the first new Star Wars movie in a decade. As the words "Star Wars" burst onto the screen, I got a little teary eyed as I watched my daughter getting excited to see the movie.

Emily enjoyed the movie as well. Her favorite character was BB-8. She is also a big R2-D2 and C-3PO fan. We laughed, I cried as we watched the movie and I look forward to seeing the upcoming ones with her as well.

Star Wars is a family experience for me. Like my father before me, I love sharing this universe that I love with my child.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Happy Star Wars Week!

Image: need2read9.blogspot.com 
I love Star Wars! It was one of my first fandoms as a kid. I had some really awesome Star Wars toys and I remember seeing Return of the Jedi in the theater when I was six. 

My love of Star Wars stayed with me. It was because of mutual love of Star Wars that my college best friend and I became friends. We would have marathons of the original trilogy on some Saturdays. We'd always order pizza between Empire and Jedi.

Like most Star Wars fans, I was super excited for the prequels to come out. I saw them all in the theater multiple times, I think hoping they would get better. I also kept hoping that the next movie would be better, but in most cases, they weren't.

The prequels haven't diminished my love of Star Wars, but I tend to ignore them. Since Emily hadn't seen any of the movies, we've been watching them. Originals first and then the prequels. We still need to watch the last one, hopefully we will get to it this week.

Thankfully Emily found the originals more exciting and I'm super thankful that she didn't really show any interest in Jar Jar. Her favorite characters are R2-D2 and Darth Vader.

Even though the prequels were not good, I'm very optimistic about the sequels. Disney plus no George Lucas seems to be a good combination to me. My husband is more of a realistic and he's not so optimistic. But we shall see and soon!

I have tickets for me and Emily to go see an afternoon show on Friday. We aren't the only ones excited because quite a few shows are already sold out. Thankfully Emily gets out of school early on Friday for the beginning of Christmas break so we can go to an earlier showing. 

For Star Wars week, I hope to watch "Revenge of the Sith" with Emily. I also will probably play a lot of "Knights of the Old Republic" on my xBox 360. I'll be avoiding spoilers too on Friday, since the internet will start filling up with them.

Happy Star Wars Week! And may the Force be with you always!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

A Sister to Every Girl Scout

Early in the the school year, Emily came home all excited. The local Girl Scout troop had come to her school and she really wanted to join. We all went to the informational meeting that happened and signed her up.

I was a Girl Scout briefly - I don't remember why I stopped and became a Camp Fire Girl instead. But there is a lot of similarities I'm seeing between Camp Fire and Girl Scouts. Lots of crafts, fun with friends, earning patches and camping.

Emily was very excited to start attending as well as to get her own vest and patches. She is a Daisy right now and part of what they are learning in the whole Girl Scout code. They get a petal for each one they learn.

One of the last ones is 'Be a sister to every Girl Scout'. Emily loves her fellow Girl Scouts and I think it's a really great idea. It's a community of girls, their siblings and their parents. Community and friendship is something that can last a lifetime!

I don't know how long Emily will want to be a Girl Scout, but she's learning a lot of good skills, making friends and getting great opportunities. This Saturday, she'll be marching with her troop in the Fletcher Christmas Parade. Next month, it will be her first camping trip, which she is very excited for.

One of the best things about our troops (and others, I have no idea) is that the leader ask for the girls' feedback on what they want to do. It's all about them growing and learning.

I'd highly recommend Girl Scouts to any girl. They form bonds and have fun while learning!

Friday, December 4, 2015

A Tale of Two Tree Lightings

The weekend before Thanksgiving, Emily and I went to two different tree lighting celebrations. They both had good parts and not so good.

First one was on Friday and it was the tree lighting at Biltmore Park Town Square. We got there early so we could find a parking spot and had supper. After we ate, we had some time to kill before things started up, so we went to the toy store which Emily loved.

It was cold but not terribly so. We had hats and gloves though Emily decided her hat was itchy so I ended up giving her mine. There was some booths set out. Emily got to meet the Grinch and got some candy. She got to do some science experiments as well - like making snow.

They had a little parade with the local high school band as well as some performers on stilts and to end it off was Santa and Mrs. Claus in the bucket of a fire truck. As the parade was finishing and they were getting them on the ground, Emily got in line to meet Santa.

Emily is seven now but she still believes in Santa Claus. The Santa at Biltmore Park is the real one to her. Her reasoning is that he's the only one that brings his wife with him. The wait was long, but people were giving out red and green glowing necklaces that Emily had fun with. The performers on stilts were right by the line so we got to see that as well.

We got to the front and I was able to take some pictures of Emily with the Clauses. She told that what she wanted - which happened to be two things she saw in the toy store. From there, we were both getting cold and we'd seen most everything so we headed out. It was really fun and it was also completely free.

The next day, Todd had to work so I decided to take Emily to the tree lighting at the new Asheville
Outlets. It was rather disorganized since there was supposed to be activities starting at 2 pm and there wasn't a lot going on. She did get a balloon animal and we spent some time looking at the stores since we hadn't been there before.

Around five, a table was set up with crafts for the kids. Emily did all the crafts and while she was doing that, the tree was lit up. This was not very good because it was still light out and it was a massive crowd so Emily couldn't see very well.

Part of her balloon animal had popped so after the crafts we went searching for the balloon animal man. He made her a swan, which ended up popping before we left. Balloon animals are fun but dangerous!

Since it cost money to get a picture with Santa and we had gotten a free picture with the 'real' Santa the day before, we skipped the massive line. We instead went to check out the carriage ride. We found it and Emily loved the horse. We got to take the first ride with another mom and her two kids. It was a five minute ride around the parking lot but it was still fun.

But when our ride was finished the carriage driver asked if we had paid. Nothing on the schedule had indicated that it cost money which is what both me and the other mom had said. So we ended up getting a free carriage ride that was really expensive - like $20 per person!

The Biltmore Park Town Square was far and away the best of the two. It was well organized and it was completely free. Asheville Outlets was very expensive for just about everything and it was pretty disorganized. Hopefully we can skip Asheville Outlets tree lighting next year!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

This Has To Stop!

It's another day, and sadly it's another mass shooting. This time at least 14 people are dead in California. I'm saddened by more loss of life but I'm also finding myself getting more and more desensitized.

There has been more mass shootings this year than we've had days. Too much violence, too much death, and a lot of these shootings aren't caused by people who seem to be terrorists. But instead lots of white men who have a variety of issues.

I want to be outraged when something like this happens, but it is just happening too much that it just feels like a deadened weight is pulling me down. Something must be done.

While many gun advocates are quick to say that guns don't kill people, but people kill people, the guns sure help up the death count. So yeah, I'm in favor of taking guns, at least the semi-automatic ones, away from people.

I've honestly never been a fan of guns, but being from Michigan, I have no issues with rifles for hunting. But mass shootings, for the most part, aren't caused by rifles or pistols. And other people having guns doesn't seem to be stopping this madness.

As a mom and a wife, and a human being on this planet, I wish there was something I can do. Beyond voting for people who won't make things worse and possibly be able to reign in the bloodshed there isn't much I can do.

My hearts are with the victims and their families tonight.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

A Day of Thanks

We got up bright and early on Thanksgiving morning to make the long trek to GA to spend the holiday at my aunt and uncle's house. My cousins are all married with kids, so there is always a lot of kids for Emily to play with when we go there.

While Todd drove, I managed to find a webcam aerial view of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. I'm able to get 4G service for most of the trip now, so I was able to see a bunch of the balloons. I would show them to Emily too. I really love technology.

We got to GA a little before dinner started. The house felt small mostly because the kids are getting so big! It was really great to see everyone. The food was wonderful too, with turkey, ham, homemade stuffing, potatoes, cranberry fruit salad and more. There was a great variety of pies for dessert as well.

The weather was great too so the kids were able to go and play outside for most of the day. The Lions were on the TV but I honestly didn't watch much of it because it was such a massacre.

I'm very thankful that we were able to spend the holiday with family this year!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Shopping and Thankgiving

Image: wtkr.com 
Over the last few weeks, I've seen a series of memes about not shopping on Thanksgiving. About boycotting stores that are open on Thanksgiving and making a big deal that REI isn't going to be open even on Black Friday.

Well, I have a confession. I'll be shopping on Thanksgiving. Well, shopping may be the wrong term, but we are driving down to GA for the holiday and we will be buying snacks and gas on the way.

People seem to get up in arms about other people working on Thanksgiving and other holidays selectively. Gas stations will be open, fast food places too because lots of people will be traveling. I work in tech support and there will be people working at my company. Many other call centers will be open and taking calls as well.

Not everyone has family close enough to spend the holidays with and some people don't have any family at all. Some people would rather work too, and some people like the holiday pay. Sadly, some people are going to be working on holidays, it's just a fact of life.

I'm thankful that I have family to spend the holiday with and that I don't have to work on Thanksgiving. But sadly, I can't make it all the way to GA without stopping for gas so I'm also thankful that the gas stations will be open so I can get to my family.


Saturday, November 14, 2015

A Global Community

Last night, I was doing something fairly normal. Emily had been bugging me for a few days to play Kingdom Hearts so she could watch and try to read some of the dialogue. While I was trying to beat a boss battle, something horrible happened in Paris.

Once I got online, while Emily was getting her pj's on. I started reading about it. My Facebook feed was filled with pictures of the Eiffel Tower, words of comfort in French and the Twitter hashtag for people in Paris to use to find somewhere safe to go.

It reminded me of a day many years ago. I was in my last year of college, and I was playing a video game because I didn't have class until later. One of my roommates came to my door to tell me that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center.

Even though I don't live in France, last night made me feel a little like it was 9/11 all over again. I thought it might just be me because I've been feeling anxious and out of sorts this week. But when I posted my feelings on Facebook, several friends said that they felt the same.

Thanks to the internet, I have friends all over the world. Granted most of them live in the US, but spread out. I do have friends across the pond and in other countries. My friends, even though I only know most of them via the internet, are very important to me. In one group, a friend posted that she loved us all. The feeling was quite mutual, for I love my friends very much even if I've never met them in person.

We are becoming a global community thanks to the internet. We can share our sorrow for the lives lost in Paris, and huddle around the computer to get information. But we can also use this internet to comfort one another in times of tragedy. We share our joys as well.

I'll have more to say about the goodness that can come from social media later. But I'm very happy to be part of a global community. It has allowed me to become friends with some awesome people I would never have met without the internet.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Internet Outrage and Winter Holidays

Ah, 'tis the season for outage on the internet. While there is always some sort of outage over something, the winter holiday season seems to bring out the worst out of people.

If you've been online at all this week, you have probably seen the drama over the new Starbucks holiday cups. The silly things are red with the Starbucks logo, but for some so-called Christians it is a reason to get up in arms.

I'm going to say this right now - There is No War on Christmas!!!

As as Christian, I roll my eyes every year at the whole War on Christmas bs that gets floated around the internet and other places. I live in the USA and Christians are not oppressed here. In fact, some so-call Christians are the ones wanting to do the oppressing.

There is nothing offense in saying 'Happy Holidays," to someone. I consider the Holiday Season to start with Halloween and end with New Years. There are so many winter holidays in November and December, that it's actually kind of rude to assume that everyone is celebrating the same way.

I personally know people who celebrate religious Christmas, secular Christmas (called Giftmas by some people, which I think is a great name for it), the Winter Solstice and Hanukkah. If I know what holiday they celebrate, I try to wish them well for what every holiday is theirs. But when you see someone at the store that you may not know, like someone who holds the door open for you or a cashier, Happy Holidays is the clear choice because it includes just about everyone.

Right now, it's too early for Christmas drama anyway. It's not even the middle of November yet! Tomorrow is Veteran's Day, a holiday of vast importance that seems to get lost in the shuffle as Christmas tries to take over everything. Plus Thanksgiving is in there too.

Before you get all outraged over something stupid like plain red Starbucks cups, try and think about others. All people aren't the same, they have different viewpoints. Not everyone is a Christian, but if you are a Christian, you may want to try and be more like Jesus rather than trolling on the internet.

For me, I wish everyone Happy Holidays. Tomorrow I'll be thinking about the brave men and women who have served our country in the military. On Thanksgiving, I'll be giving thanks for everything wonderful in my life. After that, I'll get to Christmas and celebrate in my own way and wish people well in their own celebrations.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Halloween!

Most of our Halloween activities happened before the holiday itself. We had the Halloween Carnival, went to the corn maze with Emily's Girl Scout troop, and visited the apple orchard. But of course on Halloween, we had trick or treating to do.

We have always gone trick or treating at the Asheville Mall. It's warm, bright and easy to get lots of candy. This year, because Halloween fell on a Saturday, we also had Todd with us. Emily was Anna from Frozen this year and I put on my Kaylee costume.

We got to the mall early so we did some looking around in Build-A-Bear and Barnes & Noble. Finally the time came and we started trick or treating. We did a circle around the mall, stopping in the food court for some supper.

After we ate and Emily played in the play area for a bit, we went back to the stores we hadn't hit yet. Emily's sack was filled up with candy and other things. She also got to get her picture with the Chick-Fil-A cow too!

It had been a very grey day outside and it started to rain on our way home. That made me glad that we opted to go to the mall again. While it would be nice for Emily to get the experience of running around in the neighborhood in the dark, ringing doorbells, our neighborhood is generally very quiet on Halloween so we'd  have to go to a whole other neighborhood which seems like a huge pain.

We got home and let Emily have one piece of candy, then it was time for her to go to bed. Even though it was the time change that night, I also passed out soon after. It had been a long but fun day!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Career Day Instead of Halloween

Today my Facebook feed is filled with kids who are dressed in their Halloween best for school today. Today my child is dressed as a police officer because it's career day.

While there is nothing wrong with having a career day, but I think it's a cop out when they do instead of Halloween. Partly because I had to buy Emily two costumes this year, and partly because part of the fun of Halloween as a kid is being able to wear your costume to school!

Emily is excited to be Officer Emily today and be in the costume parade. So I'm keeping my opinions away from her. Tomorrow she will don her Anna costume to go trick or treating. And it's an extra treat this year that Halloween is on a Saturday because that means Todd gets to go trick or treating with us.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Emily's Birthday Weekend!

Last Saturday, my precious daughter turned seven years old! My husband and I decided that it would be better to do some fun things rather than have a party. The first part of that was going to the Renaissance Festival, but we did some local things on her actual birthday weekend.

My husband's mom flew in for the week and arrived last Saturday. We waited until she got here. Emily opened her presents from us, which was Littlest Pet Stop sets. Then we headed off to the mall to get her a Build-A-Bear.

She wanted an Anna Bear from Frozen so we did that first. We did some shopping as well, and after a bit, I took Emily to the play area to play. Once we were done at the mall, we went to a local ice cream place, The Hop, for some ice cream.

On Sunday, we all got up early to go to church. After church and Sunday school, it was time to go to Sky Top Orchard. It was really
chilly on Sunday but we still had fun. It took us a while to find some apples, but once we did we were able to fill up two baskets with different kinds of apples.

We stopped on our way back to the main building so Emily could feed the goats and the sheep. She really liked that and had a favorite goat that kept coming back to her.

After we paid for our apples and got Emily some apple cider, we let her play at the play area for a bit but then she really wanted to take a tractor ride. It was a fun ride through the whole orchard. Sky Top gets its name by being on top of a mountain, so the views are absolutely beautiful. It was a fun and relaxing ride.

From there, we headed over to the Mountain Play Lodge, the last stop on the Emily Birthday Express. She had a lot of fun, running around and playing. She even made friends with another little girl and they had quite the good time. It also gave the adults a chance to sit down and relax.

I was pretty darn pooped once the weekend was over, but I'm happy that Emily had a great birthday!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Happy Back to the Future Day!

When I was eight years old, my parents took me and my sister to the theater to see Back to the Future. I loved it so much, and I was extremely excited to see its sequels when they came out.

Now it's October 21, 2015, the day that Marty McFly goes into the future. Of course the future imagined in the 80's isn't what came to pass. We don't have flying cars or hoverboards. We do have small computers that fit in our pockets that let us argue with people all over the world and look at pictures of cats.

My own future isn't quite what I had planned. Back in 1985, I wanted to become a teacher. I wanted to be married with several children. I'm sure I thought that I would still be living in Michigan as well.

Of course, like the movie, my future didn't turn out they way I thought it would. I would be a horrible teacher, so I work in tech support and am an aspiring author. I am married, but one child is enough for us.

But I still love the Back to the Future trilogy a lot. Doc Brown tells Jennifer and Marty at the end of the third movie that the future is what you make of it. Here's hoping for good futures for all of us!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Why I'm Pro Choice

Image: www.soc.ucsb.edu 
I'm not usually very political here on my blog, but as the election season is ramping up you may see more blogs of this kind. You may not too, I'm chaotic after all.

One of the hot button topics right now is abortion and Planned Parenthood. I'm pro choice for a variety of reasons that I'll go into, but first and foremost, I'm pro choice because of a conversation I had with my mom many years ago.

I was a teenager and while I was spouting against abortion, my mom sat me down. I remember it very clearly - we were sitting in our dining room. She explained to me how important it was for women to have a choice because pregnancy isn't easy and can be fatal. She also told me a story about when she was younger how she had went with a friend to have an abortion. It was a hard choice for my mom's friend but it was the best one that she could make for her situation.

I'll always remember that conversation. I think that marked a point in my life where I tried to look at all angles of an issue before making up my mind about it.

Birth control is great, but it fails so abortions should be available when that happens. I'm not super thrilled with abortion as the only form of birth control, but I highly doubt that sort of issue makes up most abortions.

But it is so important that women have the choice if something horrible happens. If the mom's life is in danger or if the child isn't alive anymore, a women should be able to decide what they want to do. A women's life shouldn't be undervalued just because she is pregnant. And what an awful thing to do, to make a woman carry a child who isn't alive or won't live once they are born!

While some woman might choose to remain pregnant in some situations, the choice needs to be up to the individual woman. Women aren't second class citizens, and for most, the choice to abort is one that isn't come to easily or even quickly.

I've never had an abortion but I've thought a lot about it. Todd and I are very careful but birth control isn't 100%. Hopefully we'll be able to do something permanent to prevent pregnancy, because I don't think I could handle being pregnant now.

I had my chronic pain when I was pregnant with Emily and I honestly hated being pregnant. It was worth it, because I wanted Emily. So I endured ten months of being sick on top of my regular issues. I'm quite happy to be Emily's mom but my chronic pain issues have gotten worse over the years. For me, my choice is not to be pregnant, no matter what. Because my life matters.

When Emily was a toddler, I had a miscarriage. It isn't something I usually talk about because I feel a little guilty because I was in a lot of pain, physically, when it happened, but I was completely and utterly relieved emotionally. Things were hard the first couple of years that Emily was here, from postpartum depression to finding myself out of a job after my maternity leave was over. I was barely hanging on and having another child would have been awful.

It may make me seem like an awful person, but that's how I felt and how I feel. It was only a few months after I had that miscarriage that I landed myself in the hospital with the first mass in my brain. That incident was hard enough but add on being pregnant at the same time, it would have be horrible.

While I became pro choice all those years ago with that talk from my mom, my experiences have have just strengthened my position. My life matters, and as a fully formed adult, I should be able to make informed choices about the state of my body. Every woman should be able to make those choices. If you don't like abortion, don't have one. But please, don't take away my right to choose what's best for me and my family.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Faith in the Face of Chronic Pain

Seemingly, some of my fellow Christians seem have have lost their way in recent years. It makes my heart sad to see people who should be espousing the love that Jesus shows to all of us, instead trying to use Jesus and the Bible as a way to keep on hating.

A common theme in quite a few Christian groups I've been in over the years is that if you are good person and follow God's law, good things will happen. It's the "God as a Genie" theory which doesn't really work. Jesus and his disciplines had really awful things happen to them, up to and including death. As did a lot of other Christians over the years.

As a white Christian in America, I've never experienced harassment over my religion. Growing up, just about everyone I knew was some brand of Christian. It was the norm and what you did on Sunday morning. It was easy to follow Jesus back then.

When I went to college, I was still highly active in my campus ministry. As a freshman, I would get up Sunday mornings and go to the Lutheran chapel while my roommates were sleeping off their partying from the night before. I was an oddity but I was walking with Jesus so that was ok.

I did a lot of growing up the last few years of college. I was engaged to a guy who had rejected God completely and that caused a lot of issues in our relationship and was one of the reasons we broke up. Also watching my mom have cancer and then die from it.

After my mom died, I watched my dad really struggle with his faith. He was really, really angry at God, which was totally understandable. For whatever reason, my faith never faltered. As I got signs that my mom was up in Heaven, my faith in God and Jesus strengthened.

A year after my mom passed away, I got very sick. It started out as a really bad ear infection that was misdiagnosed for a month. Once that was cleared up, I was left with a constant headache. A headache I still have to this day.

I've talked about my chronic pain journey over the years, but I haven't really talked much about my faith as I've dealt with that. My faith in God hasn't changed at all, though my faith in myself has suffered some blows.

I see other people who have wonderful careers that they love, or who are able to keep up with lots of kids. Some days, I have issues getting out of bed, making it through work, keeping up with Emily. While I know some people probably just think I'm lazy, I'm trying to work my way though a normal life while having the weight of chronic pain around my neck.

I'm not sure what my purpose in life in or why I'm meant to be on this Earth. But as a Christian, I try to use my faith to boost myself up. Life isn't always a picnic and horrible things can and will happen. Even though I'm in pain every day, I'm actually not that unhappy. I have my low times and yes, I've had suicidal thoughts. But I'm suppose to be here. Maybe my words will help someone else or I'm just here to raise Miss Emily.

I don't really know what the future faces for me, but I will try to do my best no matter what gets thrown at me. And yes, I may be wrong about my faith, but I'd rather live as a true Christian, as someone who follows Jesus than as to not have any faith at all.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Carolina Renaissance Festival


It's been a long time since I've been to a Renaissance Festival. I used to go to one in Michigan - in fact a fortuneteller at one told Todd and I that we were going to get married. This was right after we started dating! She was right.

Every fall the Carolina Renaissance Festival takes place outside of Charlotte. Every year, I want to go but every year it doesn't happen. But this year, we decided to nix the whole birthday party idea for Emily's birthday and do something special. The Renaissance Festival was part one of Emily's Birthday Celebration!

I had to sing at church, so Emily and I went there and let Todd sleep in. We did sneak out after communion because we knew it was going to take a couple of hours to drive there. Todd was ready when we got home, so I changed and we were off.

We made pretty good time and avoided traffic until we got to the Festival itself. We had to wait in a long line to get in and get parked. Parking was free though, which was nice. Todd had already bought our tickets so we were able to walk right in.

All of us were hungry, so we got some food to start off with. The food lines were long, except for pizza. So I got Emily pizza. Todd got a loaded baked potato and I got chicken and mashed potatoes. It was very yummy!

After we ate, the rides caught Emily's eye so we checked that out first. I was a little surprised that she got on the giant rocking horse without issue - though as I was taking pictures, she was holding onto the rail and telling me that it was terrifying. She was laughing though so it must have been the good kind of terrifying.

From there, she wanted to ride on the pirate ships. I rode with her, and it made me a little uncomfortable because of my bad experience with a much bigger pirate ship in the past. But Emily had a blast!

We did some walking around and found the jousting area. We had a little time so we found ourselves at the Faeries. They had a little shop where you could buy pictures and other trinkets, but you could meet the faeries for free.

Emily was a little shy with them, but she loved it. They gave her a special faery stone that she talked about the rest of the time we were there.

 From there, Emily and I decided to get a seat for the joust. Todd opted to wander around a little more. He came back in plenty of time but the stands were filling up by the time he got back. They were totally packed as the show started.

The jousting was very fun to watch. Emily loved it, and even exclaimed that they were riding real horses! There was also a middle-aged guy sitting in front of us who seemed amazed that they were really jousting! Our knight won which was pretty awesome.

There was a massive crowd after the jousting show was done. We just walked for a while just to get out of the crowd. We made it to the other end of the grounds and found the area with the animals.

Emily went on her first pony ride, and Todd walked besides her. She gushed about how nice her pony and how she got to pet him after she got off. We also went into the free petting zoo - Emily was a little unsure about some of the animals but still wanted to pet some.

It was getting on in the day, so we made our way back to the front. Emily and Todd took one last ride on the pirate ship before we left. That was her favorite thing to do out of everything.

I was pretty well pooped by the time we left. I had walked about as much as I did in a day at Dragon Con in the three hours or so we were at the Faire. Plus we had some issues finding our car in the parking. I was quite glad when we found it.

All in all, the Carolina Renaissance Festival was a lot of fun. Lots of activities for kids, even more than we did. They even had a real camel that was giving rides!

We will definitely be back next year!


Saturday, October 10, 2015

Countdown to Disney

If you have read my blog before, you may have noticed that I'm a huge Disney geek. While I do love the movies and cartoons, my real love is for Walt Disney World. It is literally my happy place.

I have the Timehop app on my phone, and two years ago today, we got in the car and started driving to Disney World for Emily's first trip ever. We have less than a year until Emily and I go on our girl's only trip.

Countdowns are fun - according to the calendar in my office we have 357 days until we go to Disney World. For me, dreaming and planning and counting down is almost as fun as being at Disney itself.

Thoughts of Disney World have kept my spirits up during some really hard times. This year has been really awful with health issues for me, but the countdown to Disney World next year has kept me focused on something really fun to come.

Tonight Emily and I will be having Mickey pancakes for supper while watching Big Hero Six, and dreaming of that day next year when we are walking down Main Street once again.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

My Ghost Adventures - Ghost Cat

Last year, I did a series of all the paranormal experiences I've had over the years, from my childhood basement to the fact that I now live in a haunted house. But I had a new experience yesterday that I thought I'd write about.

We used to have three cats. Star was the first cat we adopted after we had bought our house. We added Willow to the family after our wedding and then Sam a few years ago.

Back in December 2013, I found Star had passed away. He had been sick for a while but the vet couldn't figure out what was wrong. It was probably old age. The really crappy shelter we got him at didn't know how old he was, and actually thought he was a girl until we took him to be fixed. We were told he was fixed, and was a boy.

We all were very sad, even the other cats really mourned his passing. He was such a sweet boy.

Now, we do live in a haunted house but it's a human who hangs out in the bathroom. I've never had any inkling that Mr. Star was still with us until last night.

It was after I had gotten Emily to bed and I had been walking from my bedroom to the kitchen. As I was walking, I felt a cat pass by my legs. I didn't really think much of it, until I looked down. It was a black cat, my Star.

I went into the living room. Sam, who is orange, was asleep in the car and Willow, who is grey and white, was asleep on the arm of the chair.

Of all the paranormal experiences I've had over the years, I've never seen an actual spirit before. It wasn't scary at all, but I felt happy and comforted that my sweet boy was still around.

Next up - The Moving Flower!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Flare of Doom

Image: tabuherbalsmoke.com 
When you suffer from chronic pain, flares happen when the pain levels get so much worse. When you are in pain all the time, pain because the norm and it takes a lot of really stop you in your tracks.

This particular flare started on Friday. I did what I do, took the abortive I had and tried to sleep. The abortive I was using is pretty much crap, but usually it helps me sleep and that's what helps get me on the road to normal for me.

I was able to work on Saturday but was feeling pretty rough by the time my shift was over. I took a nap and felt a little better.

Sunday morning, I felt pretty rough so I stayed in bed most of the day. In the afternoon, I was feeling a little bit better so we got some food and then Todd went to the movies.

The pain started notching up pretty fast, especially after I had gotten Emily into bed. It wasn't the pain so much that my whole head, starting at my temples and going down into my nose and my jaw was throbbing with pain.

By the time Todd had gotten home from the movies, I was unable to even watch TV because the pain was so bad. I took another abortive, and Todd laid down with me in our dark bedroom until I started to feel vaguely sleepy.

I was able to sleep for about four hours. Usually when I wake up, it takes a little bit for the pain to go back up, even in the midst of a flare. Not on Sunday night / Monday morning, my whole head was screaming in pain the moment I woke up at 4 am. I took my last abortive and managed to get a few more hours sleep.

Thankfully Monday is one of my days off. I laid in bed in pretty intense pain. But I really, really didn't want to go to the ER. Going to the ER is a big old suck. Time suck, pain suck, massive suck for Todd.

So as soon as my neurologist was open, I called in. I love my neurologist and she got me a prescription for something that really worked in the past (but sadly isn't something I can take often), and my pharmacy got it ready pretty fast.

Kind, wonderful Todd went to Walmart and got the meds. I took them, ate some food and thankfully was able to sleep. When I woke up, I felt like a whole new woman. I was even well enough to talk Emily to Girl Scouts.

Today I'm still feeling a little sick. But I'm able to work and the pain is at about a 6. Before it was a 9 on its way to a 10.

Thankfully flares like this don't happen a lot. The worst part is the not being able to sleep. When I'm sleeping, it's the only time when I'm not feeling pain. Sadly, I can't avoid flares like this. This one was all weather related. We didn't get hit by the hurricane but it moved a lot of bad weather into our area. I know that's why I felt so wretched. But it's just another day in the life of someone with chronic pain.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Guns and School Shootings

Image: fox4kc.com
I don't often voice any views on here about hot button topics. Something that may change as we go into an election year. But I wanted to get something off my chest.

Yesterday, there was yet another school shooting. I got the news late because I was at choir practice - I sing in the women's choir at my church. As we were singing praises to the Lord, more people lost their lives to guns.

As a mom, I'm not terribly rational on this subject. I truly want my kid and everyone else's kid in America to be safe. So yes, even though this may not be a popular opinion, I want to take your guns.

Even before I was a parent, I've never liked guns. They make me feel extremely uncomfortable. I've fired a gun exactly once in my life. When I was in college, friends and I went to my roommate's house for the weekend. We went hunting and I was given the opportunity to shoot the hunting rifle. Firing that gun once solidified my intense dislike of guns.

My husband has guns, he's gone hunting quite a bit in his youth as many males growing up in Michigan too. All of his guns are at his parent's house currently which makes me happy. If they were here, they would be under lock and key that Emily would not have access too.

Even Todd, who is not uncomfortable with guns, thinks that we need stricter gun control laws in this country. He also thinks that nothing will be done because the NRA is such a loud voice in Washington, and it makes my heart sick to think he is right.

Yes, I know people will think 'guns don't kill people, people kill people.' They have a bit of a point, but guns make it so much easier to kill so many more people at once. It's sickening how easily you can kill with a gun.

While I do think that gun control laws would help quite a bit with this epidemic of shootings in our country, we also have to consider the people doing the shooting. Honestly you have to be pretty screwed up to even consider walking into a high school, college or movie theater and decide to shoot the place up.

The stigma of mental health issues has to get better. People with depression and other mental health issues need to be able to get the help they need. I suffer from depression, and without my anti-depressants, I'm a whole different person. I don't think even then I would want to kill anyone, except perhaps myself. But everyone's brains are different.

It's a sad state of affairs when we have mass shooting after mass shooting after mass shooting. All the while, much of the government is more concerned about governing what a woman does with her own body.

I pray that things will be able to change. I'm trying to do as much as I can by getting me the help I need and being close to my daughter so she doesn't end up following a darker path. But it's time for more to be done.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Mourning Memories Lost

A lost memory
As I've talked about before, I was very sick last November. I lost five days and woke up in the hospital the day before Thanksgiving in the ICU after having a series of seizures. Those five days are completely gone, though I'm not missing much - according to my husband, I mostly slept.

My brain is weird. That's pretty much the only diagnosis I've ever gotten. This is the 2nd time I've lost time, but this case was different. For a while, I didn't remember much of everything from last year. A lot of those memories did come back, but I knew the closer we got to November, I would get to a dead zone where I didn't remember much.

Memories are very important to me, probably in part because my mom is passed away and I don't have a ton of pictures of her. She is suppose to live on in my memory and she does - thankfully my long term memory was not affected.

For a while after I got home from the hospital, it seemed like every day I was finding something that I had forgotten. I was so excited to watch the movie Divergent again because I did remember that I had loved it in the theater, but when I started the movie I didn't remember any of it.

It's been months since I've experienced finding out something I forgot until last week. I saw on Facebook that one of my online friends had passed away, and thanks to the Timehop app a few days after that, I saw that I did know that he had died, but I had forgot.

We weren't close friends. Mostly online friends who met a few times at local Browncoat events but I felt extremely guilty that I had completely forgotten that he was gone. It's silly I know, but that's how I felt.

It also means that I'm in the dead zone now. From now until the day before Thanksgiving, my memories of last year are fuzzy at best. And a lot happened in October of last year that I wish that I could remember.

The only thing I can really remember about Emily's birthday is running to the dollar store near our house, but I don't remember why. The only things I remember from the Browncoat Ball is playing Cards Against Humanity with lots of people including Mikey Mason and then feeling sick to my stomach during the dance itself. Halloween I don't remember anything.

Because I had gone through the memory merry-go-round earlier, I didn't think it would be a big deal when I got to this point. But I realize now, that I'm still mourning for the lost memories. Thankfully I'm a big fan of social media and taking lots of pictures, so I've pieced together some of what happened. But I just don't remember it.

I'm sure I'll get over it, but the next few months may be harder than I anticipated. The healing just continues. I'm going to try and focus on making new memories as well.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Dragon Con 2015 - Sunday

Arrow panel
This is the last post in my series of recaps of Dragon Con. You can click to read the posts for Friday and Sunday.

We got up pretty early and back downtown on Sunday since I wanted to make sure I was able to get into the Arrow panel. I wasn't feeling too bad, but all the walking was taking its toll so I opted to wait in the handicapped area. 

The nice thing about the handicapped area is the chairs. I was there an hour early, and there was already a line of normal folks. There were a few people in the handicapped area too. I don't mind waiting but having a chair to sit on really helps me maintain spoons.

The panel was in the massive ballroom in the Marriott so it took some time to load everyone in. I enjoyed watching DragonConTV, my first time watching it all weekend since we hadn't done any panels and we don't stay in a host hotel.

Finally the panel started - it had all the Arrow guests there. Though Stephen Amell and John Barrowman totally stole the show. They were really funny!

Once the panel was done, I met Todd at the food court. After some lunch, we spent some time in the dealer's room. I got some stickers for my car / computer, but that was pretty much all I bought. I didn't want to be hauling a ton of stuff around. I did get to see my friend Elizabeth at the Austin Browncoats table - her daughter is even cuter in person!

From there, we headed to the Sheraton. We went to one paranormal panel, Historic Haunts Investigations, where author / ghost hunter Jamie Pierce answered questions about her experiences. It was really interested.

After that, we decided to go and wait for Aiden Sinclair's Paranormal Magic Show. His shows have been the highlight of our Cons the last few years and his show was different this year. We were the first in line, and we
Me and Aiden Sinclair!
sat in chairs that were outside the room. So we also started the disability area too. The line started forming behind us about five minutes after we sat down and we were about two hours early. 


Aiden Sinclair came probably an hour or so before the show and he was shocked to see all the people already lined up. I actually got a picture with him too which was pretty awesome!

The Dragon Con organizers has put a mini Maker's Fair in the room  that was suppose to go until right before the show was suppose to start. They actually had to end that early and then have a bunch of staffers come in to set up the room. Even with that, the show did start on time and we were in the front.

The show was titled Paranormal Illusions: The Haunted Circus. All the tricks told the story of a tragic circus fire that happened in 1944 that had a paranormal incident surrounding it. He had artifacts from the circus that he used. I actually got picked to help in one of the tricks.

It was an amazing show! Again the highlight of my con. Afterwards, we also were able to get Aiden Sinclair's autograph.

From there, it was after 9 pm. So we left the con, happy with how the weekend had gone. Honestly, it was one of the best Dragon Cons I've attended!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Dragon Con 2015 - Saturday

This is the 2nd post in my series of recaps of Dragon Con. You can click to read the posts for Friday and Sunday.

We got up and going early on Saturday morning since I was going to march in the Disney section of the parade. They had to change the parade route and the staging area because of streetcars that were put in downtown. It took me a bit but I found the staging area which actually worked better than the old one.

There were only a few Disney cosplayers when I got there, but they started coming in. We were near the front so I got to see a lot of cool costumes. The parade got started pretty much on time, and it was the long walk. Even though the parade route was only .1 of a mile longer, it felt much longer.

But the best part of being in the Disney group is watching the kids along the parade route get so excited to see their favorite princesses march by. There was also a great Gaston cosplayer who marched next to me who was really hamming it up for the crowd.

Once the parade was over, I went to find Todd who was in the food court. He had gotten a bunch of autographs with little wait because so many people were at the parade. I was near the front of the parade so it wasn't very crowded outside of the parade yet. We headed over to the Hyatt to go to the Artist Alley.

There, I quickly found Peter David's table and finally got to meet him. He's been one of my favorite authors since I was in high school and I've been meaning to get his autograph for the last couple of Dragon Cons but I never make it over to the artist alley. But it finally happened this year!

Todd and I looked around the Artist Alley a bit and peeked in the Art Show. By this time, it was starting to get crowded. We had decided before we even got to GA that we were only going to stay a short time at the con on Saturday. It just gets too crowded.

So we headed out, and I changed out of my costume once we got to the car. From there, we went to a big mall that isn't far from my Aunt and Uncle's house. We shopped a bit - they have a Disney Store and a LEGO store and then went to the movies. We saw The Man from U.N.C.L.E. which was a fun movie.

We got back fairly early to my aunt and uncle's house and turned in early.

Up Next - Dragon Con Sunday

Monday, September 14, 2015

Dragon Con 2015 - Friday

We usually head down to GA to go to Dragon Con fairly early on Thursday but this year we waited until Emily was out of school. Because we didn't get to my aunt and uncle's house until the evening, we didn't go down to the con at all until Friday.

Todd and I got up bright and early Friday morning to head downtown. I wore my Tightrope Girl costume and I actually got asked for my picture before we even got into the Peachtree Center. That was awesome because I rarely get asked for my picture.

Sheraton was our first stop to get our badges. Badge pick-up was a breeze again this year. It took us longer to walk into the building than it did to actually get our badges. I also had to pick up my parade bracelet as well as get the disability sticker on my badge.

Dragon Con offers a variety of disability services. Because of my migraines, I got a sticker on my badge that lets me sit in the disability area and then I get a seat at the end of the row. I didn't end up using it until Sunday, but it really is nice to be able to sit and wait for panels in a chair.

We went to the Peachtree Center after that and got some breakfast. We didn't have any issues getting a seat and the food court is a great place to relax, eat and people watch

From there, we headed off to the Hilton. I had signed up for a massive Disney photoshoot. We were a little early but there were a lot of people there already. I love Disney and it was fun to see everyone's costumes.

Todd wandered away for a bit while we were all herded outside. Because of the uniqueness of my costume, I was only in the big group photo. It took a bit to get everyone posed, and then lots of pictures were taken.

Once the big group picture was taken, Todd had wandered back and we headed over to the Marriott. Even though the Walk of Fame wasn't opening for another hour, we opted to join the line to get in. I found that sitting on the floor in a corset is not very comfortable.

When the doors opened, we walked around the Walk of Fame to see who were there and where everyone would be. I got my picture with the voice of Goofy, Bill Farmer, since I had gotten his autograph the year before. Then we joined the line for the voice of Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch, Caroll Spinney. 

The line wasn't took long long, but the people who had been in the front took at least 20 minutes to talk to Caroll and have him sign everything under the sun. It got really ridiculous after a while and rather rude because the line just kept growing and growing. It's fine to have a bit of a conversation with the guests, especially an icon like Caroll Spinney. But more than five minutes and you are being very rude to the people behind you.

Finally they left, and the people in front of Todd and I had better sense so it only took us a few minutes to get up to the front. We got an autograph that he signed to both me and Emily, plus I got a picture with him.

It was then time to head over to the Dealer's room. It took us a bit to figure out where it was since they had moved buildings and there was actually a line to get into the building itself. There were two floors of dealer's and the layout was so much better this year.

First stop was the BPAL booth where I got BPAL. I've known the owners for years, so I got a hug from Ted. I also got a hug from Beth and we stood and talked about our kids for a bit. It's a little weird talking about school and kids in the middle of the dealer's room at Dragon Con.

We had been planning on staying later but by this time I was starting to get worn out. Todd noticed and suggested we go back to my aunt and uncle's house in order to save energy for the parade in the morning. I agreed and off we went.

It was a pretty good first day of Dragon Con!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Good and Bad of Dragon Con 2015

I've been attending Dragon Con for a long time. I've seen it grow and change quite a bit over that time. Both last year and the year before, I've done posts about the bad of Dragon Con. While I'm going to touch on the things that I think still need to be fixed, I'm also going to address old complaints that have been fixed for this year.

The crowds were massive again this year and while I didn't have as many issues with them in the past, it's something that the con is going to have to address at some point. I saw lots of badge checks to keep the hotels free of anyone besides con goers and hotel guests. We also didn't stay very late most of the con because of my health issues, so we may have missed some crowds.

Vaping was a bad for me. We were in line for the Walk of Fame on Friday for a while and one of the people nearby was vaping indoors. I'm very sensitive to that sort of thing but thankfully I didn't get too sick. Someone asked her to stop and she got very defensive saying that it was just vapor. Well, it is vapor and other things. I had thought that vaping was not allowed in the convention, but I saw a lot of it.

This isn't necessary a bad, but I wish that either the dealer's room or the Walk of Fame were open earlier than 1 pm on Friday. There are some panels going on before but Friday should honestly be a full day like Saturday and Sunday, especially with some official Dragon Con stuff starting to happen on Thursday.

The worst bad of Dragon Con was not something I experienced myself, but heard about afterwards. Apparently there was more than one sexual assault at the con this year. As a not so strong female, this makes me very uncomfortable. I am usually with my husband most of the con and we don't stay late, but it's not a good thing.

But on that depressing note, onto the good things that have been fixed in previous years!

We didn't get down to the con until Friday morning because we didn't want Emily to miss two days of school. Thankfully the badge pickup process is still great. It took us longer to walk to the Sheraton and inside the building than it did to get our badges.

The main issue we had last year was the bottleneck in the Marriott where you could head back to the blood drive and some track rooms, take the path to the Hyatt one way and take the path to the food court another way. It was a massive mess last year. What they did was put a divider and routed the traffic each way - it worked extremely well so no traffic jams happened.

I've marched in the parade for four or five years. This year the route was changed because of a new street car system they put in. The new staging area seemed to work a lot better than the old one - it was really easy for me to find my group. Plus longer parade makes more room for people to see it.

That's just an overview of the good and bad from Dragon Con - I'll be doing reports of each day over the next week or so!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

A First Grader's Take on the Spoon Theory

Image: michellesteltzer.wordpress.com 
If you suffer from chronic pain or know someone who does, you may have heard about the Spoon Theory. Basically when you have a chronic disease you only have so many spoons. You use a spoon when you do things - get up out of bed, cook dinner, etc.

I've explained the Spoon Theory to Emily before but we were talking about in the car the other day. She came up with her own little twist on it.

According to Emily, who is 6, the spoons are kept in one's butt. They exit your butt once you use them and when you are totally out of spoons, that means you are pooped.

I honestly laughed out loud at that because it makes a weird sort of sense. I do feel pretty darn pooped when I'm out of spoons.

Even though I feel guilty about being sick all the time, Emily is a huge source of joy. She's very caring and she brightness my day,

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Most Terrifying First Day of School

There have been a few times in my life that I've been utterly terrified. The time when I nearly was plowed into by a semi during a snow storm or the time a fair ride tried to kill me and my mom. But on Monday, I experienced the worst terror I've ever experienced.

Monday was Emily's first day of 1st grade. Since Monday's are my normal day off, both Todd and I took her to school. Usually Todd is the one who will drop her off. Because I work until 3:30 the other days of the week, Emily has to ride the bus home.

I got to the bus stop - which is one house down from ours - pretty early. The bus was late because the main road to our neighborhood was closed thanks to a power line being down. I waited, and all the kids got off the bus - but no Emily.

I talked to the bus driver, and he hadn't seen her, so he called the dispatch and the school. She was missing for what seemed like forever. I got in my car, and headed to the school because they said they would route whatever bus she was on back to the school.

They did call to say they found her while I was on the way to the school. I panic attacked my way to the school - it was probably ten minutes before Emily and the bus driver walked through the doors.

She was crying when she came through the doors, and I was crying. I hugged her so tight, and ended up getting her a Happy Meal for supper because I was already hurting thanks to all the crying and anxiety.

Because of our McDonald's trip and the detour around the downed power line, Emily finally got home two hours after she should have gotten off the bus. She calmed down pretty fast once home, it took me a bit longer.

Yesterday, I felt anxious as it came time for the bus to drop her off, but she had been put on the right bus. But she came off the bus where she was suppose to be. She was very happy about that.

Hopefully this will be the last time for a while that my kid is lost. I don't want to feel that fear again.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Dragon Con Goals and Worries

Image: dragoncon.com
Dragon Con is only a couple of weeks away so we are totally in Dragon Con mode. Todd and I have conversations about Dragon Con several times a week, sometimes several times a day. I'm really looking forward to my 8th Dragon Con but I do have some worries.

I've been really sick as of late. Lots of really bad migraines as well as balance issues. I'm planning on getting the disability sticker on my badge so I can sit down in a chair to wait for panels and I am not going to give blood this year.

Hopefully I'll be ok - I might add a sticker to the back of my badge with Todd's contact information, just in case. I'll be spending most of the con with him anyway. I am still looking forward to it a lot.

My main goal for this Dragon Con is to finally meet Peter David. He's been one of my favorite authors since I was in high school, and he's usually at Dragon Con, but I never seem to be able to find him. Probably because the last couple of years we having hit the Artist Alley at all, and I think that's where he usually is. But this year, I will meet him, get his autograph, buy new books!

This year I'm also pretty excited that I actually need to buy dice. Need may be a strong word, but we gave Emily dice from our own collections. After years of playing Hero System games, we have an abundance of  6 sized dice. But we all need some of the others, especially Emily. She has requested pink and multi-colored dice, and she especially needs some more 4 sized dice because that's what she uses most with her Magic Missile spell.

I'm not a panelist at all this year, and that is a good thing I think with my health issues. I'll be stalking the Walk of Fame with Todd. I really hope the Arrow guests and Big Bird will do table pictures. I really want pictures with all of them but I really don't want to use Froggy.

Other than that, I'm only bringing two costumes this year. I'll be the Tightrope Girl on Friday and Saturday and then Blue Jacket Kaylee for Sunday. We will probably leave fairly early on Saturday - maybe even right after the parade. Saturday is so crowded anymore it's hard to move a lot of times. Plus there is a really cool mall not far from my aunt and uncle's house with a Disney Store!

I think taking it easy on Saturday may be the key to making it through this Dragon Con without getting to sick or in too much pain. Hopefully, I'll have a great con, will be able to meet cool celebrities, meet Peter David finally, sniff some BPAL and hang out with 80,000 pretty awesome people!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Grief Lingers

13 years ago today, cancer took my mom from me. That morning I woke up, as near as I can tell about the same time she passed, and I just knew she had gone.

While I am a Christian and I believe she is in Heaven watching over me, I still grieve for her. The grief has faded some over the years, but then something will happen and it will be as sharp and painful as it was that day in 2002.

The sucky part about aging is people you love start dying. This year I've had to major losses. My great aunt Dorothy, who was not truly out of the blue since she was in her 90's and not in great health, and my dear friend Kathy who died suddenly. In a lot of ways, my grief for my mom is mingled in the grief of these losses, especially Kathy's.

Sadly, death is a part of life and we will all lose loved ones along the way. Hug your loved ones tight today for me.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Why I Am Pro-Toy

Yesterday, a friend of mine posted a link of a blog post about a mom who took away all of her kids toys because her kids were always asking for new toys. So she took away all of their toys and even took away the comforter off of their beds. My friend had a posed a question, was this abusive? You can read the whole article here but while it's not abusive, I think it's mean.

Emily does have a lot of toys. Probably more toys than she needs, but for the most part she plays with most of them on a regular basis. We do purges of toys every once in a while, mostly at this point the toys that she's too big for get sold.

We have always treated Emily as her own person, and her toys are hers. Most she got from us or as gifts, but some she has used her own money to buy. They are her things and she would honestly have to do something really bad to have them all taken away.

Usually when she does do something that is punishment worthy, we take away screen time. No TV, no iPad, that sort of thing. At that point, I want her to have access to her toys so she can play. It's still a punishment but it also doesn't leave her with absolutely nothing to do.

Besides, it's not really nice to have my own toys and deny her own. We have a stuffed animal addiction throughout our family. Emily has a ton, in part because she has gotten several that were mine and Todd's when we were kids. Todd and I also have our own stuffed animals even now that we sleep and cuddle with.

When Emily's room became overfilled with stuffed animals, we made her a deal. If she wanted to get a new one, she had to pick three or four old ones to give up. This way we were all happy.

Toys are fun and a part of childhood. Emily uses her imagination to make up stories with her toys. For that reason, even though my house is full of toys, I will always be for toys.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Anatomy of A Migraine Flare

As you probably know, I'm a long time chronic pain sufferer. This past weekend, I had an extremely bad migraine flare, and I thought I'd talk some about how my flares go. 

Image: www.glamour.com 
This whole month has been full of mini flares, starting over 4th of July when my neighbors were blowing up the neighborhood with fireworks. But it got really bad the middle of last week because of tons pop up thunderstorms.

The first part of the flare usually involves both pain and pressure. As the storms move in, the pressure grows in my head. Usually once the storms reach us, the pressure subsides. But because I live in the mountains, the storms sometimes fall apart before reaching here, leaving me with all the pressure. After a couple of days of this, my whole head throbs.

Once the pressure is pushing down on my head, that's when the auras can start. Auras are what make migraines different than just headaches. Auras can be different for every migraine sufferer. Mine are usually dizziness, fogginess, balance issues, light sensitivity and general brain dumb-ness. In short, massive brain fog and lots of almost falling down. 

I tried to work for several days but it got impossible to focus on the computer screen. It even got so bad that even just watching tv was too bright, which tells me that things are getting really bad. By Friday, I was miserable. I called my neurologist but she wasn't in the office, but the lady who answered the phone was going to try and text her for a new prescription. 

Because the pain had gotten so bad that I couldn't do anything, Todd ended up taking me to the ER. Usually it doesn't get to this point, but right now we are playing the merry-go-round of meds when it comes to a good abortive to break the cycle when it gets really bad. I didn't have any that worked, which is why I ended up in the ER for the first time in over six months.

Sadly, the ER gave me a cocktail that helped a little at first, but then messed up really bad. Thankfully, my neurologist had been reached and a new abortive was called into my pharmacy. Finally I was able to sleep and break the cycle, ending the flare.

The end of a major flare is a great feeling. I've been feeling great the last few days but trying not to overdo it. 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Prime Day And the Mostly Free Laptop

Image: www.facebook.com/Amazon
I love Amazon, mostly because it lets me shop from the comfort of my own home. Thanks to programs like Swagbucks and MPoints, I usually have a store of Amazon gift cards. A while ago I decided I was going to save all the gift cards I earned in order to buy a new laptop.

My laptop sadly died on me. For the first couple years I worked at home, I just used my laptop. Using it for that and other stuff didn't help it at all. I got my desktop about a year ago, but last thing I want to do after work is sit at that computer in my office.

I've been saving up for a couple of months now, and getting pretty close to having enough in gift cards. But then Amazon announced Prime Day, claiming it would be bigger than Black Friday. I already had Prime, so I had hoped to score a laptop.

Prime Day was pretty much a joke. I attempted to get a laptop, but it sold out in a second. The only thing I did get was a Ninjago Zane clock for Emily.

But I did decide that I was sick of waiting to get enough gift cards and asked Todd to find me a decent computer. He did find me one and it will arrive tomorrow. Most of that cost was covered by the gift cards.

From social media yesterday, looks like a lot of people are unhappy with Amazon. I still love Amazon because I wasn't honestly thinking I'd get a great deal on Prime Day. It was kind of like Black Friday - you go to the store and all the good stuff is gone!

For me, it was a good day. Emily is getting a cool clock, I'm getting a laptop and even Todd is getting something, a video game!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Baby's First D&D Campaign!

Yesterday, we took Family Game Night to a whole new level. Yesterday, Emily played her first Dungeon and Dragons game!

Emily is only six but she has a great imagination. Even though the starter pack I got off Amazon said "12+" I figured we should give it a try.

Todd and Emily picked out characters from the pre-generated ones that came in the starter pack. Emily played a High Elf Wizard, who she decided was male, named Skeleton. Todd was also male, he picked a Cleric Hill Dwarf named Thanagard the Healer. I was the Dungeon Master.

I had read through the rules before we started but I was a little rusty. All the years of playing Hero System games had Todd and I a bit confused for a bit. I honestly fudged some of the finer points - like how many hit points to take in battle. It's something I'll have to look up before our next game session.

Even so, Emily had a blast. She played her character pretty well, even adopting a male sounding voice for when her character talked. We helped her at the beginning but by the time we got to our 3rd combat, she was lobbing magic missiles at goblins like an old pro.

I had been a little afraid that Emily would be bored and want to stop playing. But when we got to a good stopping point, she wanted to keep going! She's looking very forward to our next game.

The starter pack adventure should get us through quite a few more sessions. It's originally divided into five game sessions but we stopped in the middle of the first game session. Once we finish, I'll see how we can branch out!

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Dungeons & Dragons and Me

Image: cartoonscrapbook.com 
Dungeons & Dragons - this may bring several images to mind. For some it may be fire and brimstone while others might think of hex maps, figures and 20-sided dice. For me, my first memories are of a cartoon.

When I was a kid in the 80's one of my favorite cartoons was Dungeons & Dragons. It was a lot of fun for a kid and I knew that it was inspired by a game. I always wanted to play it but I never knew anyone who was into D&D.

I didn't get a chance to play until I was in college. My roommate's boyfriend DM'ed a campaign for us. My roommate and I were best friends at the time and the boyfriend was surprised that our characters hated each other. We knew how to role play!

From Dungeons & Dragons, I learned more table top roleplaying games. I also got into live action rpg's which are a ton of fun. Instead of dice, the live action games I played in college used 'rock, paper, scissors'. In college, it was a lot of Vampire: The Masquerade and other games by White Wolf. I like V:TM a lot but Changeling is my favorite.

After college, I didn't play any table top RPG's until after we moved to NC. The first friends we made
down here were also very into table top RPG's and introduced us to Hero Games. I love the Hero Games system in large part because of the disadvantages. Your character has to pick several disadvantages that you have to work into your character - you have to use them.

Over the next few years, I did also play in some other games including D&D. The last time I played Dungeons & Dragons itself was a one-shot one of my Browncoat friends was running. That was over 6 years ago because I was pregnant with Emily.

Our Hero Games friends moved away but after Emily was born, I made a friend who lived right down the road. Her husband at the time ran a Hero Games campaign for us. My friend had one of the best disadvantages I've ever seen - her character was blind! It was a lot of fun.

They moved as well and we lost contact for a few years. Beyond LARPing once down in GA with my cousin and his wife's group, I haven't been able to play any table top games. Illness, small child and lack of a car are some of the reasons I haven't been able to find a group. Though I miss it a lot.

Emily is now six and she is reading, though definitely at a beginner level. We introduced Settlers of Catan to her because it doesn't require a lot of reading and she loved it. So I got the idea a while ago that I would try and run a game with her and Todd.

I picked Dungeons and Dragons because there is a starter pack that I got off Amazon. I'm an experienced role player but I've never run a game before. So D&D is a good place to start! Tomorrow I run our first game with an adventure from the starter pack.

In a way, I've come full circle and I'm excited to introduce Emily to the fun! Dungeons and Dragons started it all for me and now that's where she'll be starting as well!