Thursday, April 24, 2014

Product Review: Google ChromeCast

We've been big into Fitness Blender workouts over the past months.  While bringing the laptop down to the basement was working fine, I think my trying to balance it on top of the weight rack was making the Mr more than a little nervous.

To save his sanity (and my laptop), he suggested getting a Google Chromecast Streaming Media Player so we could broadcast it to the TV down there.

via Amazon.com

The Mr can be somewhat gadget happy and sometimes he doesn't get the PO (purchase order) but there are times I can see the benefit in the things he suggests and this was one of them.  I thought it would be especially helpful on vacations to still be able to get in some workouts or yoga sessions.  Basically it plugs into the HDMI port on the side of your TV along with a USB port (or plugs into the wall with a USB power adapter) and then you can set up Google Chrome to broadcast from your smart phone, tablet, computer, etc to your TV via your home Wi-Fi network. In a sense it uses your device as a remote control.

I wasn't sure what kind of quality to expect from it.  I thought maybe a slightly pixelated version of full screen like you can sometimes see but I was pleasantly surprised.  If you follow a site that has a YouTube channel, it looks almost as clear as a DVD.  So it was a very good $35 investment for us. We plan to use it on trips too so that we can use a full size TV for our workout videos and even movies on our tablet, etc.

Google has opened up the Chromecast recently so that developers can make apps specifically for it and the Mr says this is a good thing because there are all kinds of future possibilities.  The only knock that he has so far is that if you do use it for travel you currently have to factory default it before you can use it on another Wi-Fi network, which seems kind of stupid.  But that is a minor pet peeve considering that it was only $35 and has really made our Fitness Blender workouts that much more enjoyable.

In case there are Roku people out there, I asked the Mr why he chose ChromeCast over Roku and this was his response: "I originally chose it over the Roku because the Roku requires a powered HDMI port which only the newest TV's have and we don't.  However I guess Roku did just come out with a version that uses the regular HDMI with a USB port just like the Chromecast.  But I think I would still choose the Chromecast over the Roku because with Chromecast you'll have all of the Google Apps in the future as well as Google support which I think it a bit more powerful in the long run.  One thing though, that is only because we have the PS3 to stream other content with.  If we didn't have that at all then the Roku is a better choice.  So for anyone wanting all the channels for streaming then the Roku might be a better buy for them."

If you're an at home exerciser do you prefer DVD's or would the ChromeCast (or Roku) be something you'd use?

(This post contains an affiliate link.  Should you buy through it, I'll get a few cents to keep the blog dog barkin')

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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

"We really should stop" Part 2

Sorry for the cliffhanger yesterday but I was in the middle of a blinding migraine and I couldn't keep typing.  If you haven't read yesterday's post, you should so that you have the full story.



So yeah, as I was getting out of the car, I got the slightest butterfly in my stomach but it quickly passed.  If I had made the decision to do this and set a date, I would've changed my mind 50x and made myself sick with anxiety.  When my grandma made her way to the door, the look on her face was priceless.  She looked dumbstruck and opened the door.  I told her I hoped she didn't mind us stopping by but we were on our way back from Easter at my aunt's and I thought I saw her at the door.  She wrapped her arms around me and said she was so glad we did.  She was still stammering for words and gave the Mr a hug.  She invited us in to sit down and we met their dog.  Oh man, that poor thing is about to burst.  I never knew a stub tail could gain weight but this poor thing no longer had a nubbin, it looked like a wagging dinner roll.  They aren't active and they do nothing but give her treats and she lays around.  The next thing I noticed is how my already bad headache instantly got worse.  The dog shed like it was 100 degrees in the dessert and I have allergies (though not typically to animals) and my sinuses slammed shut and started shooting pain into my eyes.  Perfect start to the evening.

We heard a shuffling coming down the hall and I knew my grandpa was coming.  I kind of braced up because I knew this could be interesting in a not so great way.  All I could hope was that the years had mellowed him even a fraction.  Then I wondered would he take this opportunity to tell me what a horrible granddaughter I was because what did he have to lose at his age and health?  He rounded the corner and gave a slight smile and said "well I thought you fell off the planet."  I smiled, uttered a few words to myself and said hello and gave him a hug.  He looked basically the same but more "droopy" in the face.  He didn't have a stroke but you know how they say if you never smile, your face just kind of naturally goes that direction as you age?  It was like that.  As he started to settle into his chair, I just took them both in for a second.  The last time I had real, constant contact with them, she had black hair and his hair was salt and pepper and yes, they were older but still able to move normally.  Now, my grandma has thin white hair and those sparkling blue eyes she passed on to my dad have faded to a powder blue.  She hobbles a bit, it takes her a bit of effort to get in and out of her chair and she can no longer use her hands for things like jars or even to dial the phone.  As she told me about how she couldn't use her hands so well anymore, I couldn't help but think of the times she would paint her nails and have this slick top coat.  I would sit there and rub over her nails to feel how they were smooth as granite.  It was almost soothing to me.  Now her fingers were crooked and almost slanted at a relaxed position and it made me sad.  As I looked at him, he hadn't changed much except for the face and his hair was now white and receded a little more.  Both of their voices were the same and they were exceptionally sharp for their age which I was glad to see.  It's always such a shock to see people you haven't seen in long stretches of time because when I think of them, they're about 25 years younger in my head.  I think it'll probably always be that way.

My quiet observance period was interrupted by the sound of my grandpa starting to go off on every social, political, religious and environmental issue you can name.  Basically if it was important to me and the way we live our life, he crapped all over it in the kind of non-PC way that WWII period men can do.  Now don't get me wrong, I'm not an overly PC person and I hate censorship but I also do not like how the way he spoke made either of us feel.  How is it that he's actually gotten worse over the years?  (The Mr later agreed)  Could I have said that I didn't agree or that some of the things he said were actually wrong so that it could've been a conversation instead of a one sided rant?  Yes.  And what would that have gotten me?  Nothing.  No one who talks in that "this is fact" when they're seriously misguided on some things will ever change their mind and it's a waste of time to argue a point they won't hear.  His lack of respect for the way I live my life (whether he knew he was verbally crapping all over everything important to me or not) was not something I was going to defend.  I remembered trying to do that in my childhood and he would purposely go harder and more crude the more he knew it bothered you.  It wasn't in a joking manner either, it was in this almost militant "I'm going to break you of that horse shit you believe" kind of way.  I had to sit and listen to a rant that ended up lasting close to 45 minutes when all issues were totaled up.  All I could think to myself is "if this man wasn't my grandfather and I heard this in some public arena, I would've gotten up and left and told the Mr to keep him away from me."  I can't even properly convey the pompousness that oozed off of him.  It made me appreciate the Mr all the more and the fact that I didn't have to live with that...not that I ever would.  I understand growing up in a different generation, I understand being older and not giving a crap what you say or who you may be hurting but there are some things that you should just let swirl in your head and not leave your mouth.  I know plenty of men of the same age and era that don't speak that way.

The next 45 minutes were spent with them giving us very graphic detail of his medical problems.  I got the Reader's Digest version from my mom because she still sees her socially in a club about 6x a year but no, this is stuff you don't want to know.  Things you can't unhear and honestly, nothing I cared to know in that great of detail.  I was beginning to secretly pray for a power outage so we could have an excuse to leave.  Between the inappropriate conversation sending my shoulders to my ears creating the tension/migraine from Hell, the dander/hair from their little furry, adorable butterball doggie shutting down my sinuses and the heat in the house that had the Mr and I on the edge of flop sweat and the dog panting like she was going to pass out, I was ready to hit the road.  (I knew the Mr was more than ready)  There was the awkward pause for the 6th time and I took my opening as I'd tried to do once or twice before and told them we were going to get a move on.  When I gave her a hug goodbye she said she was so glad we stopped by and it made it the best Easter.  I was glad that it meant so much to her and honestly, she's the one I stopped for.  I could feel how much she loved me in that moment and that meant a lot.  I gave Grandpa a hug good bye and he asked me if I was going to fall off the planet again and I said "no, just going back home a few miles away."  They had just gotten back from their daughters house and had made the hour journey with no issue.  Not really sure how 15 minutes away is falling off the planet but you know.

Yeah.

I suppose in the scheme of things, worse things could've been said.  I didn't have time to process the "what if's" but the Mr said he was expecting a whole lot worse so I'll take the two "planet" jabs.

We made our way to the car and as soon as we got in, I apologized to the Mr for the two hours of them catching us up on the last 10 years and only asking us how our jobs were going.  As we drove home, I kept blowing my nose trying to get all the dander out and as soon as we got home, I did the neti pot praying for it to get rid of any leftover crap and relieve the pressure building behind my eyes.  We didn't really say much and I threw together leftovers from the previous night and we agreed that I was in no shape to do a workout that late with my head throbbing like a Tom and Jerry cartoon.  Between the late hour and my headache turning into a vicious sinus/migraine combo, I would've passed out for sure.  Plus I had to write my recap post for the weekend.  When I was done I asked what his thoughts were.  He said grandpa was just kind of mind blowing in a not so great way and several times he had to ask himself if he heard what he thought he heard.  He said he would look at my grandma with a shocked look on his face and she'd just roll her eyes like "don't look at me, I can't control him!"  It's true too.  I know they love each other and especially now, they depend on each other but it's somewhat like an Archie and Edith Bunker relationship.  (The Mr said he's way worse than Archie)  It's that mentality of "you're a woman, you don't know what you're talking about so I'm dismissing what you say."  I don't like that and I know it's because of that generation but I saw my dad pick up on that behavior and treat my mom that way.  I told the Mr early on in our relationship that I hated that about both men and I would not tolerate being treated that way so if he had that kind of old school, anti-woman mentality, he could take a hike.  I'm grateful to report he's nothing like that, thank God.

When he asked what I thought, I told him that it was weird because I didn't really feel anything.  I thought I would feel more.  Then I said how I noticed all over their side tables were framed photos of all of their great grandchildren and grandchildren...except me.  I don't expect to garner some spot of honor anymore but I send her pictures every year in our Christmas card on purpose.  Obviously I didn't look at every single picture because that would've been weird but yeah, with a quick scan, it was easy to see I wasn't in the menagerie and that kind of hurt even if I understood why I wasn't there.  I told him I was glad we stopped because it was good to stop saying it and just do it but more importantly, in that moment, I felt how much she loved me.  Then I started crying and said that the only problem with that is it makes that fact that she does feel that way about me and hasn't been willing to put in the time over the years and more into making excuses for not getting together was just confusing and hurtful.  Even when we left, it was the same goodbye as it has been for years, "stop by again."  (Aka-ball in your court even though I already hit the ball.  I believe you need back and forth for a volley.  I'm tired of always having to be the bigger person or make the first move and then two days later it goes right back to "what have you done for me lately, Miss Jackson?")

At points in the conversation when they would take a breath, I would tell her some of my favorite memories with her...watching the Wizard of Oz, working in the garden, playing with the puppy litter that my first dog came from.  I wanted her to know I remembered, that they meant something to me and that when she made the time for me, I was appreciative of it.  It was important to me that she knew it.  However, that time only seemed to be important to them when my parents were married.  They had big plans for my dad and I threw a wrench in that.  (Don't feel sorry for him.  Nepotism was pretty rampant back in the day and his dad got him on at his work and he's always made very good money.  That is also a sore subject so I'm stopping there.)  I know they loved me but there are more underlying issues that I have to draw the line on talking about but suffice it to say, they're big.  At this point in her life, I'm not going to confront things and get into the nitty gritty of how I've felt all this time because again, perception is reality.  She has her version of how our relationship is, he has his, I have mine, my dad has his and then there's the truth which is some screwed up mix of all of them.  It's shaped me in good ways and bad.  I want it to be known despite how bad this all sounds, I do love them and I love my family and would never want anything bad to happen to them.

In the end, I just have no desire to try to force a relationship with people who don't want one enough to make it a two way street.  I have had far too many relationships where I'm the one expected to do all the work, upkeep, communication and sacrifices while everyone else gets to do nothing.  I am glad I saw them, I'm glad that he beat the odds when he could've died several times over a period of time, I'm glad they seem to be happy and are there to support each other with the day to day stuff.  I wish nothing but the best for them and that they are still able to enjoy and make memories with the grand kids they hold dear.  I'm glad they indirectly gave me life through their son and am glad that my dad is still so close with them even though he lives elsewhere.  It's very weird to hear updates on your father and have it feel so disconnected.  I mean it's not weird for me but I know many are thinking like "how do you not know what goes on with your dad?" because they're so close to their own fathers.  Count your blessings, some people just don't have that relationship or anything remotely close.

Everyone lives their lives differently and everyone has certain ways they handle relationships that aren't working. I wish there was some better way to end this tale...like it was the beginning of some new chapter for us and we were all going to skip through the backyard and pick cherries from their tree I used to climb as a kid.  It's not.  You can still love people and not be in each others lives.  You can choose to put your own sanity first even if others out there will be quick to judge, try to guilt you into a relationship because 'they're old' and you should get over your own feelings or to think they have all the answers to your particular situation.  They don't know jack and they have no right to give advice unless they've been through your exact situation.  My mom pushed for years for me to have a good relationship with that side of the family and she was willing to do whatever it took to help how she could.  It wasn't her responsibility to do that but that's the kind of person she is.  She did more than she should have and finally I had to tell her one day after I was married that it wasn't going to happen and I know she wants it but everyone has to want it and they didn't.  I told her bringing it up would re-open old wounds and she needed to stop, I was trying to heal and picking the scab once or twice a year wasn't allowing me to move on.

It's not ideal from a shiny happy people perspective but life rarely is.  If you are going through a family situation, choose the people you tell all of your feelings to wisely.  Whether it's family, friends, co-workers, etc.  Some people have their own agendas when it comes to doling out advice you didn't ask for.  Most importantly, make peace with the situation in a way that makes you comfortable.  You have to be realistic about expectations for your relationship going forward and you have to ask yourself what you're willing to settle for and what you're not.  If your "demands" on the other person are minimal and they still aren't willing to make an effort, you need to make the decision to either stick with it and be okay with rejection for the potential of something bigger or to let it take its course and fade away with the hopes of something better when the other party is willing to make a little effort.  Whatever you decide, don't be persuaded into something to appease others expectation of what that relationship should be to them no matter their relationship to the situation.  Usually the closer the person is to the situation, the less objective they can be.  (IE- what my mom wanted and what was actually going to happen between my dad and I.  She came out of a place of love but eventually she was doing more harm than good by trying to push things and I had to tell her so.  Stand up for your decision even if its unpopular but necessary for your own healing process)

I don't really know why the hell I just shared all of this and if it actually got published, it's a miracle.  I just needed to get it off my chest and I know someone out there is going through a tough situation and are probably getting advice that they don't feel comfortable following.  If I help just one person feel better about the decision they made (obviously as long as it's nothing malicious or illegal!) then I'll be glad to have opened up so much of this crap bomb.  :-)

They say you can't choose your family but you should choose to surround yourself with people who lift you up, not people who make you question yourself or your decisions or make you feel like you're not worth the effort.  There are plenty of people out there who think you are and blood is not always thicker than water.

Thanking all of those who have thought I was worth the effort.

Any family issues you want to share?

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

"We really should stop"

I'm struggling right now on how much to reveal on this subject.  I don't like putting stuff like this out there so that some opinionated person who has not gone through my situation or feelings, can sum up what they think I should have done or how I should have handled the situation  in one sweeping generalization.  Here's the long version.

via


My parents divorced when I was 8.  My dad's side of the family were all nice enough.  I loved my aunts and uncles and the eventual cousins that came along.  I have many good memories of working the garden with my grandma when I was little, playing with little copper pots she had on these horrible 70's stove lamps, watching the Wizard of Oz with her in bed as well as the TLC show Operation (she was a nurse) before it became something other than The Learning Channel.  There were also aspects of her that could grate a little. She could be dismissive when she didn't want to hear what you had to say with a "whateeeeeever."  She originated the phrase, not the kids of the 90's.  But all in all, I felt loved by her.  My grandpa?  Well...he was a very gruff man, stood for NO crap and the more he knew, the more stubbornly he knew it.  Whatever he believed, even if wrong, there was no telling him that.  (The sky is blue...he says it's pink and you're gonna like it.)  My dad idolized him.  He succeeded in being a lot like him by emulating some of his less than tolerable traits but attempted to balance with select humor and rarely but more so than grandpa...the ability to see reason when presented with facts.  When my parents divorced...I felt almost immediately abandoned by my aunts and uncles.  I don't think it was as quick as my memory makes it out to be but I know that within the two years after, I was not considered much of a part of the family any more where they were concerned.  I wasn't invited to cousin's birthday parties, I was only invited to be with the family on Christmas Eve but it was like the rest of the year, I didn't exist.  It continued to get worse as the years went by and we basically didn't talk.  It wasn't for my occasional lack of trying but they all had no problem painting themselves as the victim to my selfishness.  Apparently from 8 years old on, I was expected to upkeep the relationship with 20 people.  I was expected to do the phone calls, ask to be invited to events and swing by on my own.  I don't know many children who put an adult effort into that many relationships.  I was painted as some evil, selfish witch when THEY dropped the ball early on and gave me no reason to pick it up and run with it later in life.  They liked to tell anyone that would listen that they were the victims while I deserted all of them.  Wow...perception really is reality, isn't it people?  You just assume they're your family and they will always be there.  Well, some of us aren't that lucky.

After a disastrous Christmas Eve spent by the Mr and I where we were basically ignored, I decided I was done taking on the blame for them abandoning me after the divorce.  My dad and I even got in a heated argument twice over my grandparents lack of involvement in my life.  He blamed me and I set him straight and called him out on all of his and their crap.  He made vows to try and failed.  As unlikely as it sounds, I forgave him for that.  I know some people just aren't meant to be parents (raising hand) and while it would've been awesome to have George Banks (Steve Martin) as a father or any father that was more involved, that wasn't the lottery I was meant to hit.  It took many years but I'm okay with that now.  I'm not going to drink the mental poison and expect him to suffer.  Over the past 10 years, I would have this dream where one or both of my grandparents died.  As we entered the funeral home to pay our respects, all of the family would give me dirty looks and some would say "oh NOW you decide to see them."  It would get to me not because they were gone (unfortunately, they've felt long gone for many decades now) it was that people were judging me based on bull crap they ingested as facts.

 I told you that, to tell you this.

The past few years, their health hasn't been the greatest and whenever we pass their house on my way to my aunt's (mom's side)  for our holiday gatherings, I would think of stopping.  I would think of the look on her face and I figured he'd probably make some smart ass comment that made me sorry I stopped.  I'd think of the times she'd say "you never call us" and I would laugh and say "I don't hear your voice on my machine either!"  Not in a disrespectful tone but to let her know, the line goes both ways and you don't call or make an effort with me either.  Matter of fact, I went out of my way a few times to get together with them and got so many excuses that I gave up.  My heart could no longer take the rejection.  It was beginning to hurt and do more damage than I was willing to take on anymore.  After those emotions came flooding back in nanoseconds, I'd lose nerve and we'd drive by.  The past two years I've said "we really need to stop" but then be silent driving past.  My heart is always so torn. But I knew that when that call came that she was gone, I would regret I didn't make the stop.

We stayed late at my aunt's on Easter and when we drove by my grandparents house, I looked over like I always do but this time, Grandma was standing at the open door.  I said "oh my God, Grandma was at the door!"  The Mr asked if I wanted to stop and I hesitated then said yes.  As the Mr turned around I said no, we shouldn't because we still had to work out and I had a horrid headache.  I don't know if he ignored me or didn't hear me but he pulled into her driveway.  The front door was still open and I opened my car door.  When I looked down on the ground, there were burrs everywhere but no burr bushes.  I knew this was a sign from my great grandma (my grandpa's mom).  We lived with them for a year after my grandpa passed and I came back from an adventure in a field covered in burrs and her European temper went medieval on my little muddy, burr covered ass!  I took it as a sign she was happy I was there and I marched up to the front door with the Mr in tow.  I knocked on the door and about 30 seconds later, my grandma hobbled over to the door.  Her blue eyes blinked a few times like she couldn't believe what she was seeing and stood there in disbelief.  Thus began a visit that would bring out many emotions in me when it was over.

Swing by tomorrow to find out how it went because if I typed it now, I would probably win a world's longest blog post award.  (If I haven't already)

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Monday, April 21, 2014

Thank you Easter Bunny...bawk bawk.

Kudos if you knew what the title of the blog post was referring to!

I think I'm going to spend all day sleeping.  I am friggin' BEAT.

We spent Friday night cleaning like banshees for company Saturday.  I told the Mr I wanted it done that night so we could have our Saturday day to do what we wanted.  That morning we did a little mandatory hair upkeep (I've cut his hair forever) and I was trying to find a vintage Easter hat.  I had just griped about how I missed the days of Easter bonnets, gloves and patent leather purses and someone challenged me to wear them anyway.  I have been looking for a reason to buy an old lady hat from the 30-40's.  We made our way to three different vintage shops and they all had decent finds but nothing that said it was "the one."  I wasn't going to spend money on something that didn't wow me.  We made our way to this one shop and I hit the 50% off rack and there was this black hat that was kind of cute.  The Mr said it was the one because of the crooked smile I gave myself in the mirror when I tried it on.  For $7.50, how could I not?  After hitting a few decor stores, I knew it was time to head home for our impending company.  Honestly, I was kind of hoping to sneak a few winks for about 20 minutes.  That was not in the cards.

*kicks pebble*

Dinner was nice and some good conversation as well.  They left a little after midnight and the Mr had some after hours work to do remotely so he started on that and I closed my eyes on the couch.  We went to bed at 2 am.  We got up the next day and I'd obviously slept wrong because I had a horrible headache.  He did too and I figured Easter breakfast could possibly help...

Caramelized banana French toast and an apple chicken sausage link

I felt a little better afterward and took some ibuprofen to help get rid of it.  The Mr went out to wash and wax his car and I was running the dishwasher.  It's been not cleaning well at all basically since the warranty ran out at the end of February.  I checked several times and the sprayers aren't moving/spraying.  I went out to tell the Mr this and I shouldn't have said anything because then he took it apart and I became obsessed with cleaning the caked on crap on the parts and I needed to be getting pies together and marzetti made.  By the time most of the work was done, I was running late, rushing and pissed off that I had no more time.  I was in a bad mood and despite having spent so long ironing my damn dress to pair with my hat that I added my vintage brooch to, I said screw it.  I threw on my jeans and tee shirt and we just scraped out the door in time to get there on time.  (Of course one branch of the family tree was 30 minutes late so...)

It was a nice Easter even if I didn't get to get all snazzied up.  I wish that one of the 10 year olds wasn't practicing her new found whistling skills with my headache thumping in my head.  The kids were playing with sidewalk chalk and I was all over that.  I asked the one little girl "can I play with the chalk too?" and my cousin thought that was the funniest thing he'd ever heard and ran inside to tell everyone.  Poophead.  I drew an egg (I forgot the camera) and the kids were telling me what to draw and then they started copying my drawings.  It was fun.  We reminisced about family members that passed and shared dreams we had of them.  Then we made a special stop on the way home but I'll get to that tomorrow.  I'm still sorting through all of that.

How was your weekend/Easter?


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Friday, April 18, 2014

Good Friday and what I'm reading this week

Happy Aloha (Good) Friday!

This week seems to have dragged on.  Of course here we are the day before company and our house looks like a bomb went off in it.  Hopeless, we are.

While I clean, why don't you check out...


Heart Recipient Honors 21-Year-Old Donor  (So sweet)

Kids Reacting to an Old Cassette Walkman Is Wonderful and Horrifying  (Courtesy of the Mr)

What Meditation Isn’t  (Ooohhmmmmmmm)

21 Signs You’re Turning Into Your Parents  (#8, 13, 16,20 and 21.  Now get off my lawn, you damn kids!)

9 Internet Nutrition Myths that Just Won't Go Away 

Hilarious SWA Flight attendant  (How I WISH our flight attendants were like that on our flights!)

4 Mental Roadblocks That Sabotage Weight Loss  (Anyone else singing the Beastie Boys now?  Me either)

A brilliant and creative way to shame someone for parking like an ahole  (I'm going to buy some sidewalk chalk ASAP!)

The Late-Night Snacking Mistakes That Are Wrecking Your Diet  (Oh, you mean I shouldn't eat half a chocolate mousse cake before retiring for the evening)

25 Fun Facts About 'A League Of Their Own'  (Holy crap, this would've been a totally different movie!  Thank God for editing)

Can You Control Your Metabolism With Your Mind?  (Courtesy of the Mr...maybe Cloud Cakes ARE healthy?  Oops, I typed that.)

17 Things This Dog Is Probably Thinking While Rejecting His Birthday Pancake  (The more I read, the more I laughed)

Famous Movie Babies: Where Are They Now?  (Toby!)

You're Not Allowed to Sue General Mills If You Like Them on Facebook  (Courtesy of the Mr.  Boy, he's on fire this week, no?)

10 Ways to Lose Friends and Irritate People  (Can I add not watch your children in public?)

The Ultimate Warrior's Wife Remembers 'The Love of My Life' In Letter to Fans  (Yes, I watched him back in the day.  My heart breaks for her)

Film Geek Paradise: The Top Places in San Francisco for the Movie Buff  (Y'all know we're THE movie buffs when given the chance)

What America's Best Couples Can Teach Us About Long-Lasting Love  (Good advice!)

See How Cadbury Hatches 350 Million Goo-Filled Eggs a Year  (Courtesy of the Mr because he knows these are my favorite.  Can I just lay my head under the chocolate and goo pipes?)

This Baby Squirrel Fell Out of a Tree and Now She Has to Wear a Little Cast  (Simultaneously sad and adorable as hell)

28 Reasons Being Old Will Be Totally Awesome  (4, 6 (which I have mastered), 8 (already doing it), 13, 17 is SO going to be me, 27 and 28)

This weekend is a busy one.  We've got company coming tomorrow for sustenance of some kind, I need to make banana cream pies for Easter and not forget to make marzetti Sunday morning.  Then Easter Sunday with six screaming hellions.

Happy Easter!

What's on tap for your weekend?

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Don't go yet

It has always puzzled me how people view those who have left this life.  I think so many tie it to religion or think it means one thing or another to other people so they don't want to say if they believe or not.  I think some people are more in tune to "signs" from beyond that let you know that the people you love are still watching over you.

I'm not ashamed to say I've had a lot of experiences with people who have passed.  I don't mean like I'm some kind of psychic or all...



My experiences have typically been in dream form.  I don't mean just when I'm thinking of them either like right after a death.  I could go for months not necessarily thinking of them and then I'll have a dream and sometimes I'll remember what the situation was but most of the time I would just remember that a loved one was in the dream.  Any show or supposed expert about this topic says that if you remember nothing other than the person was in your dream, that is them saying hello and that the context of the dream doesn't typically mean anything.  That, of course, assumes you believe in that kind of thing.

When my father in law was sick, the five months of his relapse before passing, any time I happened to glance at the clock, it was 9:11.  I didn't know what that meant, if anything but I hated that almost any time I would glance, there it would be.  When the day rolled around, we were on vacation and I didn't know it was September 11th.  (You know how you lose track of all time and dates when you're away)  It turned out to be the Mr's last conversation with his dad where he was lucid and happy.  It was an amazing gift and it wasn't until he passed we realized what day it fell on.  Might mean something, might not.

When our dog had to be put to sleep, the morning after we buried her, the Mr and I were upset and he looked outside and his eyes got big.  "Look!"


That looks like that EXACT silhouette of our little girl.  It was comforting and made us cry.  Even though some would say it's a pretty weak 'sign', in that moment we were meant to see it and the sun never hit that plant the same way again to make the same silhouette.  A few days later, the Mr and I were in bed and turned over to go to sleep.  At the exact same time we both heard the sound our dog's collar tags made when she would shake her head after a nap coming from her bed on his side.  We both sat straight up and turned on the TV and looked over.  Obviously she wasn't there but we both heard it and jumped at the same time.  It was both freaky and comforting.

When my grandpa was sick with pancreatic cancer,  we knew that his time was limited but he was having a good week so there was no reason to feel like we needed to be by the phone.  (Pre-cell)  I bought him a card and we ended up at Hobby Lobby.  We looked at the clock and it was 8:45pm.  As we were heading toward the checkout area, I got a whiff of this candle that smelled exactly like my grandpa's cologne. I stopped in my tracks and picked it up and took in a big, deep breath of it.  It felt like a big hug from him.  I looked down and the name of it was "angel."  I showed it to the Mr and got a big pit in my stomach.  We bought the candle.  When we got home there was a message to call my mom.  I called and he ended up in the hospital and passed at 8:45pm.  I'm sorry but you can't deny that.  (I still have the candle)

That same grandpa came to 'visit' the day before yesterday.  I don't remember the circumstance of the dream but I remember him kissing my forehead just before I woke up.  When I woke up, I desperately tried to go back to sleep...to somehow grab on to him.  I wanted to say "don't go yet!"  But the message was received. He was still showing me he loves me even 13 years after his death.  I'm still his 'snickle-fritz.'  :-)

My aunt has gotten similar signs from him but my mom didn't believe for a long time until her dog died and she got a few signs that she couldn't ignore.  I was grateful because I felt like her being closed off to the things my aunt and I experienced  was really sad.  My aunt said their sign to each other were butterflies.  A few days after he passed, she was turning left and in the middle of the intersection, a huge butterfly landed and kept banging into the windshield, scaring her and causing her to slam on the brakes.  Just as she did, a car ran the red light and 3" more into the intersection and she would've been t-boned on her side.  She said she has no doubt it was him.

Sometimes when I'm upset about my grandma and the dementia, I wonder if she'll visit me when she's gone.  I wonder if she'll tell me that the times she felt lost to us she really knew what was going on but couldn't verbalize it.  I wonder if she'll tell me how scared she was like I fear or how embarrassed she is that everyone knew her private business.  I wonder if she'll tell me how proud she is or if I'll get one last "you were my first grand baby" and lay her now perfectly coiffed head on my shoulder with that scent of White Diamonds enveloping me.  I don't want to say I'm looking forward to that because I know what that would mean.  But I miss it.  I know she's in there and I know I won't see that part of her again until she's gone.  The soul that has touched my life so deeply and has loved me since I was a baby.  The part of her that recognizes me and what our relationship means to her too.  I guess to some degree that's the only comfort in believing in the signs, I know I'll see the "old" her again one day even if it's not in a traditional way.

I have no choice but to believe and you can agree or agree to disagree and that's fine. I just know that I feel blessed to still have those I lost still around me in one way or another.  I never know when they'll pop in but am grateful when they do in whatever way it happens.  A dream, the scent of a perfume, the silhouette of a plant, it doesn't matter but I'll always have that greedy feeling to hold on to the moment as long as I can and I'll always want to say "don't go yet."

Do you believe in signs from your loved ones?  Share any you may have experienced.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Sneak attack

Thank you all so much for the comments on yesterday's post.  It meant the world to me and the Mr.  It is also good to know that we (us and you great people) are not alone in our struggles.

When you're the person who lives with a sneaker, you walk that delicate line of ignoring the signs and letting them know you know stuff is missing.  For example, he buys a package of light swiss cheese for his sandwiches that he packs for work.  There are ten servings in that package meaning that if he used one slice of cheese every single day for lunch, he'd have enough to last the entire two weeks until we made it back to Trader Joe's for big haul grocery day.  He doesn't have sandwiches every single day that require cheese (ie-PB&J) so technically he should've had two slices leftover at the end of the two week period if he didn't put them on eggs or something like that.  Sometimes a day into the second week, his cheese would be gone.  I'd see the wrapper in the trash and know that the times I saw his jaw chewing in the kitchen, that's what he was eating while he was making his lunch.  A baby carrot is one thing, a few calories but this was a 50 calorie slice of cheese, which doesn't sound like much but when it's not being recorded, it all adds up.  Just like every lick off of our fingers or spoon.  I would on occasion say "the cheese is gone already?" and he'd say "yeah" and change the subject or not answer me.  I'm not his mama and I didn't want to shame him into going into a worse cycle.  I know that feeling of spite bingeing from back in the day but also wanted to give him an opening if he wanted to talk about it.

The night I asked the Mr about the cookie butter, I knew the answer.  He could deny it all he wanted but the last time I used that, there was half a jar left and when I opened it that morning, I could barely scrape together the tablespoon to spread on my banana.  Measuring condiments is second nature to me and I have tried to stress its importance to him as well.  I knew that he didn't measure mayo and I would see the jar going down at a rapid rate and given I only use 3 tbsp per week, I knew it wasn't me draining it.  But again, I'm not his mother and nagging him to death about it could only exacerbate the issue so I would ask if he measured, he'd give me the deer in headlights look or get defensive and I'd drop it.

When he finally came clean to me before our workout a few days after asking about the cookie butter, I could tell he was ashamed.  We've had this conversation many times over the years so it was nothing new but then he told me about how much he was sneaking at work.  How he would wait until people were gone and then raid the candy dish for Special Darks and Krackels.  One time he got caught by his co-worker who frequently raided the candy dish and he said "hey did you ask permission first?"  (This was something the owner of said dish would apparently say.  You could eat from her candy dish but only if you asked permission first.  Uh okay, power trip.  She also would pick out some Special Darks for the Mr and give them to him but then if he would get in the candy dish on his own, she'd say "is that on your DIET!?"  Oh, is that the drug dealer calling the junkie an addict?  Wow lady)  Oh yeah, so the co-worker asked if he asked permission and he said no but offered up one of his favorites, Mr Goodbar as a distraction method for getting caught.  For once, the co-worker was trying to be good that week and declined it.  So the Mr only did it when the guy was out or he was sure he wouldn't be back any time soon.  This wasn't an all the time occurrence but he said that there was no "thrill" for him if people were around but it was "can I get away with this?"  The previous week, he had 5 mini Reese eggs at 90 calories a piece.  When I went up to shower, he apparently figured "f**k it, I already blew my day" and scooped out a few tablespoons of Nutella and cookie butter netting him almost 1000 extra calories total for that day in sneaks.

As he continued to pour his heart out and tell me how ashamed he was and how tired he was of it all, I hugged him and told him we didn't have to buy those things anymore.  He said that wasn't fair to me because I knew how to eat them responsibly but if I could hide them from him, it would help.  So we began to formulate a plan on how we could get this under control.  We agreed that after every use, we would weigh things that needed to be measured...

All Natural peanut butter...yummy but a quick 200 calories for 2 tbsp

The light Miracle Whip is a biggie.  After every use, the weight is crossed off and re-recorded
Trigger foods like Nutella and cookie butter need to be hidden and have permission to be used.  This may sound extreme but if that's what it takes, it's what it takes.

Nutella...temptress in a jar.

Crunchy cookie butter...delicious with a tablespoon on a banana...dangerous when not in the right mindset.
If I find he has inadvertently discovered my hiding place, they get re-hidden within a day after a quick weight check.  So far, so good on that front!  (Side note:  He said he found the cookie butter the other day and almost stuck it in his oatmeal (and would measure it first) but I was in the bathroom and talked himself out of it.  I told him he could just yell up next time and he said he'd rather not break my trust.)

Another big change we made?  Our after workout routine.  He usually made his lunch while I was in the shower, giving him free reign if he was in the mood to sneak.  Now?  We both go upstairs and I get in the shower and he gets to properly unwind from the day by reading "The End is Nigh (The Apocalypse Triptych)" on his Kindle.  Then when he gets in the shower, I get to focus on doing my ankle massages so my legs don't make me regret skipping the next day.  This has forced me to take care of a big part of my physical therapy that I wasn't so good at maintaining before so the change in routine has benefitted both of us.  Also, he now makes his lunch while I'm preparing dinner so that we're both in the kitchen together and he can't sneak anything.  I prepare our snacks at night too.

This new routine actually allows us to focus more on our mental health and doing those little rituals for ourselves (like actually using the anti-hag face cream I bought) that we might otherwise skip.  We've been doing this for just over a month and it has really been helpful.  He knows when he's tempted at work, that he can either chat me and I can talk him down (ie-when two boxes of Thin Mint girl scout cookies arrived from a client and I told him they were full of maggots.  When he was somewhat silent, I told him God was watching to appeal to the inner choir boy of his youth.  He gave them to the candy dish girl who also makes treats for the office and makes a Thin Mint cheesecake.  So proud!)  Or if the Special Darks start calling his name, I made him a picture that kills his appetite...

I'm about to show it...
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If bugs make you queasy, skip it...
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So yeah, does that candy bar still look good crawling with maggots?  It pretty much does it for him every time.

I'm so proud of the progress he's made this past month and I know that he knows he can tell me about the hard days and the temptation he passed up.  If we keep up this routine, I think it can go a long way in helping to deal with it for the long term.  There will always be temptation and there will always be days where you mentally fight with yourself to step away from the candy dish or the Nutella jar but each victory is one to be celebrated!

A funny side note, the Mr said that Monday he was thinking about checking the candy dish since it had been a month since he saw it, you know, "just to check" to see what was in there.  That is when my chat popped up asking if he wanted to write the story about his struggle and progress.  HA!  That took care of getting his mind off of the candy dish pretty quick!

Do you put a plan of action into place when dealing with your food demons or try to wing it and hope it'll get better on its own?

(This post contains an affiliate link.  Should you choose to buy through it, I'll get a few cents to go toward blog costs and you'll get a Kindle book or a smiley box at your door)

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