Saturday, September 29, 2012

Calling the brave: Want to guest post?

Good morning! I'm over at the A-Z Blogging Challege blog today. It's my second home – I'm one of the admins. (You probably knew that...I've certainly mentioned it enough, but you never know when you're going to get a new reader, so I like to make sure no one feels left out...compulsively so...sigh)

The post there is a call for guest posters at the A-Z Blog. Anyone reading this is welcome to guest post there. (Well, or here, come to think of it...) You really should take me up on this offer since that blog has 1300+ followers and you'd get some decent exposure, meet new friends, maybe find some blogs to follow...maybe get some followers. It's certainly been the best thing that ever happened traffic wise here at Life is Good. All the details are there, so now scoot over there!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

MMM: Monday Movie Meme, Tuesday Edition: Meet the Press

Here's my Tuesday version of Nicole's MMM: Monday Movie Meme. Before I begin, just want to say how much all your wonderful comments yesterday meant to me. THANK YOU. I appreciate you sharing your stories and encouraging words. I pray you don't have to suffer chronic anything.

Today's meme topic is: Meet the Press! Name a movie where meeting the press or being the press features prominently in the movie. The way I do this meme, now that picture stealing is illegal, is that the name of the movie is a direct link to the imdb page about it. So click there for pictures, etc., if you want more info than I've given. Also keep in mind, I don't feature movies in the posts that I haven't seen or wouldn't watch again. In other words, they are recommendations that I think you might enjoy.

John Cusack and Catherine Zeta Jones are a married, successful romantic comedy team, on the press junket for their latest movie. However, they are breaking up, so the job is to keep the press from finding out. Comedy ensues. Billy Chrystal and Julia Roberts also star in this movie. It's one of those two star movies that are light and fun, and John (and Joan, for that matter, but she's not in this one) Cusack are two of my favorites. If you're in the mood for a “snack” of a movie, this one is tasty.

On a completely different track, and not light at all, this movie is truly unique.  Truman goes about his days, without a clue that his entire life is a TV show, and that all his friends and family are merely actors playing their parts on a giant soundstage. What will happen when he finds out the truth, meets the director, and “the press” who have been running his entire life...his entire life. I was reluctant to see this movie, because I am NOT a Jim Carrey (who plays the clueless Truman) fan (Dumb and Dumber, I don't think I need to say more), but I love Ed Harris, who plays the director, and Laura Linney, who plays Truman's extra perky (can you say product placement cooking?) wife, so I gave it a shot. It's one of those movies you can just watch. Or, you can do what my favorite thing is, and discuss it for hours. I just have a hard time finding someone willing to pick apart a movie to that extent...It's a movie that makes you think about how blurry the line is between reality and fantasy and how much the press can control. Keep in mind, this movie was made WAY before reality TV hit the screen.

What movie come to mind when you hear “Meet the Press!” You can either stick them in my comments, or write your own post and put the link in Nicole's comments. Either way, let's share some recommendations!

Monday, September 24, 2012

How to Deal with Chronic Illness - You Tell Me

I'm feeling blue and introspective this morning, so if you're not in the mood for that, feel free to leave. I just have the need to be brutally honest about what life has been like for me lately, so that maybe in some cathartic way, I can get this all out of my system and not be such an emotional basket case all the time.

Chronic illness changes you. I've dealt with chronic pain, and the depression that goes along with it, but chronic illness is a whole different animal. I didn't know that. In the past, when I've had the chronic illnesses (and you can search to your heart's content, you'll find a lot of stories here – I write as therapy) I've ALSO still had the chronic pain. So it was just another layer, oh look, it's not just snowing, it's a blizzard, well ok, let's hunker down and wait it out.

Some of you are new, so you don't know that a true miracle has found me, and I'm now 100% PAIN FREE. Never thought I'd see the day, but it's here, and has been since about January 2012, so I think it's here to stay. What changed my life is The Feldenkrais Method. I started on 10/3/2011. So three months and then I could walk and move and bend over and tie my shoes and crawl under the kitchen bench to retrieve the errant grape, etc. I was “real” again.

Wait, not so fast though. I was just getting my body back, getting active after three sedentary years (quick catch-up for the much appreciated slew of new followers – I was supposed to have a full hip replacement for my advanced osteoporosis, at age 47) and then I was slammed with asthma complications. Spent a good part of 2012 on bedrest. Am just coming off of round number two, as of 9/7. It's slow going. It's a snail like one step forward three steps back sort of thing. Good days. Bad days. No medium days.

Here's what chronic illness does to you as opposed to chronic pain. It takes away your self-esteem. I can't get out of bed. I can't nuke a burrito for my 12 year old. He is more than able to take care of himself food wise, this boy wants to be a chef for pete's sake. He can make dinner for the family no instructions needed. So can Jake, but there's something nurturing about your mother preparing your food for you, of her doing your laundry and folding all your clothes meticulously (yes, there's a post about my un-natural love of laundry) and filling the drawers once again with clean clothes.

I couldn't climb the stairs, I couldn't sit at the dinner table with my family. They brought dinner downstairs, onto my bed. (We're remodeling our master bedroom, there's a post about that. Put old carpet in the search box...) Life has been upside down. For a person who is a go-getter, a doer, an organizer, a leader, a take charge, a non-stop kinda a girl, there is no punishment worse than bed rest.

Now I'm free to do what I want, as long as I don't get out of breath. It's not a lot, but it's a start. Life is slowly returning, but not my sense of self. I'm still the girl in the bed, reluctantly accepting help from one and all. I don't sleep, even with sleeping pills. When I have a good day, I sometimes see the real Tina. On the bad days, she's nowhere to be found. Last week she was so far away she didn't even blog.

Have you ever dealt with chronic illness or pain? How did you handle the depression? Any psychiatric types out there with a few words of advice? Just don't tell me how great bed rest is and how many movies you get to watch...I'm likely to throw my nebulizer at you. It weighs enough to cause some damage...

Monday, September 17, 2012

Favorite Genres Blogfest from Alex J. Cavanaugh

First let me introduce our host, Alex J. Cavanaugh.  Alex’s blogfests are best – probably because he’s one of the best out there - supportive, helpful, and always willing to promote what his buddies are doing.  His posts are chock-full of shout-outs to bloggers famous and those just getting started.  He’s written two best sellers: CassaStorm and CassaFire and is working on his third.  (Link in sidebar to CassaFire). 

The premise is simple:  What are your favorite genres of
             TV shows
                          What is your guilty pleasure, in any of the above categories.

My favorite movies are post-apocalyptic science fiction.  There are several reasons these appeal to me, and one of them is that they’re also The Engineer’s favorites, so I’ve seen a lot of them.  It used to be I’d pick a movie, he’d suffer through, he’d pick a movie, I suffered through, and then we’d agree on a movie the third time.  Didn’t take us long to realize that we both liked these, so we kinda gave up on making the other person suffer.

We also like them because they closely simulate what it would be like to start over, and had The Engineer been born a couple of generations in the future, he’d be dragging us to Mars to colonize it.  You know what?  I’d go.  Really does sound like fun.  He’s already working on getting us “off grid” as in living self-contained.  Bring on the zombie-apocalypse, we’re almost ready.

My favorite books, though, are murder mysteries.  I get plenty of sci-fi in my movies, and frankly I like to SEE my sci-fi.  I’d rather not see a grisly murder scene thankyouverymuch, so I read about them.  Some favorite authors are Karin Slaughter (like that’s not a pen name) andLisa Gardner.

My favorite TV shows have varied greatly over the years.  Right now, it’s Big Bang Theory.  I told The Engineer he most resembles Leonard (the least nerdy and best looking) but in actuality, he’s Sheldon – not with the OCD and cleanliness issues, but with the brain and talking about stuff the rest of us just say, “Huh?” to.  Don’t tell him though.  He likes being Leonard.

Guilty Pleasure: J.D Robb’s …in Death series.  The perfect books: sci-fi, murder mystery, continuing character development across the (at last count) 35 books.  She churns them out, but each one is unique and the crimes she comes up with, well, I wonder what she reads and dreams about because wow, these are some twisted crimes.  Lots of really steamy sex, and lots of humor.  Eve Dallas, the lead detective is an ass-kicking force to be reckoned with, no social skills, no fashion sense, but always gets her perp.  If her husband were real, he’d be at the top of my top five list…

What are your favorites?  Too late to join the blogfest, but you could fill my comments with your picks…and if you’re a visiting participant, I’d really appreciate a direct link to your post.  Happy Favorite Genre Day!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

How to Traumatize Your Child, Part 2

As you see in the title, this is part two.  Part 1 is here, or just scroll down to previous post.  I’m continuing with my mother giving my stuff away against my will and without asking.

Yesterday, we talked about her giving my special doll to the church garage sale.  It happened again.  I’ve been a garage sale fan since junior high, and in high school, found a gorgeous antique, full length mirror.  It needed some repair, but I got it for $5.  FIVE DOLLARS.  ANTIQUE.  The Engineer, whom I was dating at the time, (and if you’re new – am now married to, 20 years) was going to fix it.  The mirror had separated from the frame.  Easy-peasy for a DIY like him.  He just hadn’t gotten to it yet.  I come home for the weekend some time during my freshman year in college and my mirror, which used to be behind my door, is gone.  This next part should sound familiar.

“Mom, where’s my mirror?”
“I gave it to the church garage sale”
“How could you?  It’s ANTIQUE.”
“It’s broken.  It’s worthless, I gave it away.”

Off to the church we go, retrieve mirror.  Made my mother PROMISE to leave my stuff alone.  I’d take care of giving and saving and garage donations and stay out of my room!

All was well.  Nothing else happened until my Farmor (Father’s mother) died in1998.  My mother called me from Sweden.  “If you could have only one keepsake from Farmor, what would it be?”  I described in detail the blue little table with the six little drawers, all hand-painted and with gorgeous legs.  I think they call them spindle-turned, but that’s not really important here.  This was a piece of furniture that contained sewing notions: ribbons, lace, thread, you name it, all categorized.  I was allowed to play with it.  Use anything I wanted.  “Are you sure you don’t need this for something, Farmor?”  “What could possibly be more important than letting my granddaughter have it?”  That’s how she was.  With everything.  It was always about us.

“Mom, do you know which table I’m talking about?”
“Of course.  There’s not much of her furniture left here.”
(Farmor had been in assisted living  many years by the time she died.)

Fast forward to the long-awaited, slow boat shipment from Sweden arriving.  We open it together.  My table isn’t there.

“Oh honey, about that.  We decided it would make the perfect gift for the staff.  They loved it and wanted it for their main living area, so we gave it to them.”

Are you kidding me?  You asked me what was THE most important thing, and then you disregarded that and gave it away.  To strangers.  Not to the granddaughter with the happy memories of sewing lace creations while Farmor made dinner, chatting away about anything and everything.  Gone forever.  Because you didn’t really listen to me.  Or you didn’t care.  Or whatever.  But I still haven’t gotten over it.  I don’t think I will either.  Would you?

Since I can't show you the table, here's a favorite picture of Farmor and Farfar and an eleven year old Tina, with eight year old Swissie.

Friday, September 14, 2012

How to Traumatize Your Child, Part 1

D.G Hudson recently guest blogged at my other house, The A-Z ChallengeBlog, about how important it is to let our children choose what they keep and what they give away.  It’s a great post and you need to read it, but you can read mine first and then hers, order doesn’t matter.  Well, except you’re here, so you might as well read mine first ;-)

When Swissie (remember: handy nickname translator tab above) was born, I was three.  The Swede and The Nutritionist (see, now you have to look…) bought me a life-size, real-looking baby doll of my own.  Of course I named her Swissie.  That is, the same name as my sister.  Which isn’t Swissie, just to be clear.

I loved that doll.  I played with her all the time.  I also played with Swissie all the time – I was a great big sister until I hit about 4, then I was meaner than all get out to her until high school.  Not kidding, I was horrible.  Yet, she still speaks to me.  Yesterday, her only day off, she brought me Thai food and took me for a spa pedicure.  But I digress.  Point: she is WONDERFUL.

One day I couldn’t find my doll.  “Mamma, var är min docka?”  (Going for historical accuracy here…Mom, where’s my doll?)  “Jag gav henne till kyrkan att sälja.”  (I gave her to the church garage sale)  I was LIVID.  We’ll stop with the complete accuracy at this point so that I can clock in under 500 words, my new post goal.  (Cheryl, are you proud of me?)

 “How could you? You know she’s my favorite!  We HAVE to get her back!  You didn’t even ask me!”  (I’m about 8 at this time.)  “Well, you’re not playing with her very much, you’re playing Barbies and with the twin dolls Farmor (father’s mother) gave you.  Ever logical.  Not sentimental.  “But Mom!  She’s special!  I’m saving her forever!” So off to the church we go and retrieve my doll.  Phew.  The sale was the next day.

I STILL HAVE HER.  I saved four of my favorite dolls.  I also have the twins, Peter and Nina and the doll Farmor bought for me to have a special doll to play with just at her house, Jessica. 

Jessica is the tallest, the twins are on either side of Swissie.  Yes, a bit worse for the wear (the broken eyes really creeped out YellowBoy - the boy who shoots zombies and is right now hunting vampires...go figure.)

Farmor made all their clothes.  You see that she could both knit and crochet.   I didn’t put “Swissie’s” jacket on, it’s very warm in here.  

Note the details on Jessica’s dress – lace hem, scalloped collar, matching belt.  Can you believe that in 40 years I haven’t lost her original shoes?

I saved these for my kids to play with, and because who could possibly give away hand-made doll clothes?  What sort of unfeeling person does that?  (If it’s you – tell me why – I promise I won’t kill you, I truly want to know what makes you tick).  Of course, it's not like my Lego boys played with them, but we've had plenty of girl visitors who have.  Yeah!  Gives me the warm fuzzies every time.

This story has three valuable, given away items, but it’s looking like a two-part post.  Tune in tomorrow to hear what else happened and whether I was successful in retrieving those treasures.

Did your parents ever traumatize you like this?  I know some of you wrote nice, long stories after D.G’s post, and I read them all, so in your comment you could just mention that and say, “Hi Tina! Hope you’re feeling better!”  I still crave comments.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Counting the Blessings or They'll Drive You NUTS

My sweet Swissie (nickname tab above) who has devoted her last three Saturdays to the remodeling project told me that I’ve been too self-deprecating in my recent posts.  I promised I’d write something upbeat.  So today I’ll be counting my blessings.  And not the normal blessings, those I’m very aware of (family, friends, food, errands run, laundry done, etc.)  The blessings I'm counting today are the ones that if you look at them one way, make you go stir crazy.  Or, you can focus on the fact that Life is Good, and look at them from that side.  I'm choosing the light side of the Force.  Today.

 I didn’t die.  I didn’t even have to go to the hospital this time.

When you never go outside, you don’t have to wear sunscreen.  My Clinique sunscreen for folks with rosacia costs a million dollars.  Well, if you don’t have a GorgeousGirl as a supplier.  I’ve saved a whole month of sunscreen!

If you’re home all the time, ALONE you have complete control of the thermostat.  The fans.  The airflow.  You can keep yourself as comfortable as possible.  With no one complaining.  I’m always too hot, they’re always too cold.  It’s an ongoing thing…

I’ve renewed my complete and total allegiance to the Costco version of a memory foam mattress.  It’s my sanctuary, my solace, my companion.  Egyptian cotton sheets are a must as well.  If you have to stay in a bed, it better be a damn good bed.  Just sayin'.

I have a dog for two weeks!  We’ve been doing a lot of long term dog-sitting for friends, and right now I have a wonderful therapy dog who has chosen ME as his person.  He’s completely low maintenance, and follows me everywhere.  Not that I go anywhere…but if I do, he’s there.  Sleeps beside my side of the bed.   Sheds like crazy, but I don’t care.  Not allergic to dogs.  Allergic to dust. 

Bedroom remodel is going well.  Texture goes on walls tonight.  All the nasty, time consuming, dirty, tedious (like rewiring the entire room for LED can lighting and internet and cable should the next owners not have a wireless router and choose to have cable) work is done.  Though me moving out of this house I love so much will be a) over my dead body and/or  b) the zombie apocalypse.  Though The Engineer is pretty close to having us off grid if need be…passion of his.  Useful passion.  Never did care for zombies, but my PT got me hooked on “The Walking Dead” and I was sucked in against my will.  Resistance really is futile.  Yes, I'm watching too much TV.  Come on over and challenge me to Scrabble.  You'll win.

I AM recovering.  I’m now off the prednisone.  Soon my brain will return.  Soon I won’t fly into rages over little things (Jake chokes his brother on a daily basis – it doesn’t call for a fit the size of Texas, just a  “knock that crap off”.)  Soon, I can go somewhere.  Soon I can do laundry.  Right now I’m free to walk about the cabin, next week, I get to do a load of laundry a day.  Yippee!

Have you ever been on bed rest?  How did you handle it?  Have you ever had a long-term illness?  Have you ever had to, as in HAD to take nasty drugs to keep alive?  Please share.  After all, I’m just sitting here.  Plenty of time to read and respond to comments.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Phineas, Ferb, and Frankenstein

Good news in the drowned mackie department.  See previous post if you’re not privy to the tragedy which occurred here on September 3, 2012.  However, everything’ up looking up - got a donor body!  I already have the brain!  Now I just need to do some mad professor Frankenstein stuff!  Ferb, I think I know what we’re going to do today!

Don’t know who Ferb is?  Watch this 58 second title sequence, then go watch some episodes.  Laugh yourself silly.  You can thank me later.  Go AFTER you’ve read the post, though.  Please.  I’m fragile, after all, my girl is on life-support.

Turns out GorgeousGirl (I have nickname explanations in a tab above) has a Macbook she’s not using!  I mean, I knew she was a mac girl (after all, we are an endangered species if you ask anyone else who lives in this house) but apparently since getting her iPad, she doesn’t use it much.  So she brought it to me yesterday.  Making herself late for work – now that’s true love, eh?

I waited for Jake to come home because no way was I doing brain surgery in my current mental state.  However, silly boy thought he should do his homework first.  Guess all that I said last year made an impact, so who am I to complain.  (Yes, I complain all the time…I hear you).  Anyways, homework gave him a migraine, so we postponed surgery.

Today, though we hope to:

* Back up GG’s stuff.

 *Create a new user on Arthur (that’s what she named him – good name, I’d tell you why, but then what’s the point of all my nicknames…)

* Install mackie’s brain as the new user.

* Have a mac that we both can use, should she choose to come over and collect it, which she said isn’t likely.

* The only hitch would be the operating systems.  Her's is a year older than mine.  I’ll think about that later.  Right now I’m dreaming about having my girl back, and ditching this PC…

If you’re one of those techy people, please feel free to chime in and tell us what’s wrong with our plan.  Or, come over and assist.  We could always use another hand.  I have lots of gloves.

Have you ever had to do a technical thing you’d never done before?  How did it go?  Am I crazy to try this or should I just go to the genius bar at the apple store, which wouldn’t be anytime soon, since I just got to unbuckle my seatbelt and move freely about the cabin on Wednesday.  Translation: I’m not on bed rest anymore, but I’m not allowed to do anything…

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Macbooks are Lactose Intolerant

You know how they say counting your blessings is a really good way to stay positive, focus on the bright side, be happy, don’t worry…You’re at the wrong blog if that’s what you’re looking for.  Today I’m going to whine.  No!  Not about my health!  Even I’m sick of listening to that.  No, I’m writing a eulogy.  To my beloved Mackie.  May she frolic with all the other broken toys in a magical place where laptops go to play when their people are done with them…

We won’t go into details, because he already feels bad enough, but one of my darling children poured a 16 ounce glass of milk on her.  I of course sprang into immediate action, drying her off and trying to minimize damage, but we’re not talking spilling on keyboard here.  We’re talking about a 13” dainty laptop ending up in a pool of milk in the middle of a mattress (because glasses balance well on mattresses especially when you set it down (why?) and then JUMP onto the bed).   She’s got power, captain, but she no worky.  I’ve given it all I’ve got.

I do have her soul, though.  On my time-machine.  However, to restore to a previous date, on must have a body to put the soul into.  A working body…so meanwhile, I’m on a PC . Fighting with Vista and mourning my sleek, beautiful mac.  My constant companion, my everything.  I’m password vaultless, and it’s like I’m driving someone else’s car and not only is it a stick shift, it’s not even a Volvo…, and I can’t access my writing.  I have ten or so half-written posts.  Thankfully I’d already switched from Safari to Chrome so all my bookmarks are still available.  I still have my gmail.  Feel free to send letters of condolences there.

Have you ever lost a treasured piece of technology?  More importantly – have you ever recovered a mac from lactose intolerance?  If so, send in the troups.

P.S I was going for maximum cheesiness here, so I read it to the child who didn’t spill the milk, and he said, “Oh yeah, you definitely hit the cheese level.  Spray cheese."  Sigh.  What a lovely compliment.

P.P.S Credit where credit is due: it was my buddy Arlee Bird who coined the term of lactose intolerances’ usage in this application.  You’ve heard his name because of his hugely popular blog Tossing it Out, and because he’s the leader of the A-Z Challenge.  You might have heard about that here too…

Monday, September 3, 2012

How to Get Your Room Remodeled the Hard Way

This is what my house looks like now. But I don't mind.

Because this is what my bedroom looks like now.

Because this is what is no longer in my bedroom. As it has been since 1974. I had some dust in it. When I got sick in February, we stopped using our wood burning stove and The Engineer installed in floor radiant heating for this year.

When I got sick this time, he said, “This carpet has got to go.” Mind you, we've been planning to remodel our bedroom for 12 years. We've lived here 12 years. However, it always gets shoved to the bottom of the list because things like hospital stays and kids breaking arms and needing surgery and cars breaking down and gas prices going up and other urgent matters take the money we try to save. I haven't minded much. I just close my bedroom door when my mother-in-law, The Boss, comes over and hang a sign saying, “This room is not part of today's tour.” Not kidding. It's more important to me that my asthmatic boys got their rooms done the moment we moved in (we also have that wonderful “popcorn” ceiling all over the house...well, not in the boys rooms.) Yes, I have asthma, too, but didn't until a few years ago.

Once we had the carpet out, we talked about throwing down some rugs and towels and saving for the Pergo I'm dying for (maybe literally now that this illness has gone on so long) but we decided to just go ahead and do the whole shebang.

So we used this

To remove the HIDEOUS (look up at the empty room, you'll see it) wallpaper.

YellowBoy and Swissie had fun in here. We ended up choosing the lighter color for three of the walls, and the darker for the accent wall which will be the window wall. The colors are misty, foggy, bluish-grey with hints of lilac. I'm in love. And I hope, on my way to wellness. In a new room. 

 Here's some of YellowBoy's silliness. He'd written the Pythagorean theorem (good) but spelled it wrong (bad) so I made him re-write it (like any good math/English teacher would) and then he went nuts...

To ponder, for those of you who are in the “everything happens for a reason” camp: did I get sick so that I could finally get rid of the carpet and stop having these recurring asthma episodes that last for a month? Am I on my way to some semblance of wellness? I think so.