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

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

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

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.