Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Back in Business!

So, my last post ended on a pretty dreary note. When I last left you, I was working on getting my spine working again. I know, sounds so easy right? Wellll, I'm happy to report that after three more epidural injections and tons of meds and doctors visits and a new round of physical therapy - I am finally starting to feel like a human being again! Freaking FINALLY.

Can I get a hallelujah?!

The past few months have been ROUGH. Like, horrible, depressing not even playing around, ROUGH. There were a few points when I was absolutely sure that I wasn't going to get better, that I was going to spend the rest of my life with chronic back pain and agonizing flare ups of sciatic nerve pain and I was just going to have to deal with it. If you can believe it, a lot of doctors have told me that (pretty much verbatim) over the years. Assholes. So yeah, I was having all kinds of crazy thoughts, man. Luckily, I'm surrounded by lots of awesome people who didn't let me give up. And now, much sooner than I expected, I'm functioning like a semi-normal person again. Woohoo!! I actually even went shopping this weekend! ::GASP:: I know!!

And in equally awesome news - I've lost 16 lbs, bitches!! When I started easing off the hardcore meds (which, by the way, were not fun - as widespread as the notion is that percocet = a good time, for me it equals lots of throwing up and passing out in a closet at the office - yes, that actually happened) I was finally able to start dieting. It's not easy to eat less when you need to eat a friggin three course feast with every. single. pill. or you'll be throwing up the whole day. So as soon as I stopped taking them on a daily basis, I started dieting. That was over a month ago. I'm still dieting, but I rewarded myself over the weekend with a few new shirts and a new pair of work pants. I deserve it, right? Damn skippy.

My immediate goal is to be able to fit into some Sookie Stackhouseish shorts and a Merlotte's t-shirt for Halloween. I am determined to lose another 20 lbs before then so I can look semi-decent in clothing that shows my legs, though I'm having a hard time trying to convince the hubs that he can work a blonde wig and black leather so he can be Eric. He is much more keen on my friend Joyce's idea of having our husbands/boyfriends dress up as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Boys.

So what else have I been up to? A lot of reading. My niece turned FIVE (um, how the heck? That totally just happened overnight) and my baby brother celebrated his twenty first birthday. I promise I'm going to try and be more diligent about posting, now that I'm not convinced that my life is getting back to normal. I'll leave you all with a picture of me and my adorable niece Alyssa at her birthday party.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Since I've been gone...

Well, I've been MIA again because I've been dealing with a health issue. Not something new - I have a slipped disk in my spine and while it had been manageable for almost two years, it's been flaring up for the last few weeks. And by flaring up, I really mean making my life impossible. The pain is AWFUL. Like -- can't walk, can't sleep, can't sit in a restaurant or movie or even at my desk without squirming with pain kind of awful. The reason it hurts when you have a slipped (herniated) disk is because it's out of place, literally pressing on the nerves running along your spine. Here's a little diagram:

You see the little mushy thing popping out of the bone? That's the disk pressing on the nerve. Everyone asks me what it's like - and the only way I can describe it is it's like you hit your funny bone REALLY REALLY hard - now imagine that pain in the middle of your lower back, traveling into your buttocks and down your legs. And it won't go away, no matter what you do. Only drugs help. Heat sometimes. Massage. It's depressing. I'm dealing with it as best I can, trying to keep a brave face on at work, and I've already scheduled another spinal block for next week, which is basically a cocktail of meds they inject directly into your spine during a quick, outpatient procedure under general anesthesia. In the meantime, I've been operating under a hazy, drowsy, percocet-induced fuzz and trying to stay positive.

That's my new mantra - Must. Stay. Positive. It's easy to feel restless and hopeless and desperate when you suffer from chronic pain. I'm not a great candidate for surgery, so there's no easy fix either - almost all of the doctors I've seen have told me that an operation would really only have a 50/50 chance of success - which, as you can imagine, is not enough to risk someone operating on my spine, especially when there's a high chance that surgery might even makes things worse, let alone someone in their midtwenties who has a higher probability of recurring injury. I've seen more doctors than I can count and it's hard to leave appointment after appointment feeling like you're never going to get better. I'm just praying that this spinal block will work and that I won't have to start yet another regimen of treatment.

If it weren't for my husband, family and amazing friends, I don't think I'd be able to deal with this. It feels like I've been battling for sooo long. Eight years now. I'm tired already. The thought of seeing more doctors exhausts me. Since I was 17, I've been trying to find a solution that will take the pain away permanently and allow me to have a normal life. So far, all the remedies I've found have only been temporary - epidural injections, nerve medication, painkillers, physical therapy, accupuncture, chiropractors. You name it, I've done it. So, here's hoping this round will be the LAST and that I can finally move on from this. Wish me luck!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

July the 8th

July 8th wasn't always an important day to me - when I was a child, my mother's birthday was pretty insignificant as holidays go. Everything revolved around me, and usually mommy's birthday involved Daddy taking me to Walgreens to pick out a card and whatever trinket my allowance could afford, and then focusing on much more important matters. Like MY birthday.

Now that I'm all grown up, I realize how much my mom sacrificed for me. How much she gave up so that I could have a wonderful life and how much she deserves to have given back to her. I'm sure we all come to that point in our lives, but when I was little, I'm sure I never fathomed just how special my relationship with my mom would be. I never realized that not every girl is adored and cherished and understood by her mom like I am, and that is something I try very hard not to take for granted.

So today, I've assembled a post in honor of the woman who gave me life and without whom my life would be imcomplete.

First, let me introduce you to Marlene:

Isn't she beautiful??  This picture was taken on my wedding day, and here she is all aglow. My mom shines in every way.

Now, let me tell you a little bit about why she's so special to me. 

If you asked anyone what their first impression of my mother was, their response would most undoubtedly be: "she's bubbly!". In fact, when people accuse me of being bubbly, my response is usually "You only say that because you haven't met my mother." And when people accuse her of being bubbly, I know what they're really trying to say is that my mother is kind.  My mother is good. She is genuinely nice and sweet and everything that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. My mother could make friends with a rock. If you opened my mother up, you'd probably find that her heart was ten sizes too BIG. And if it wasn't, it would probably be because she's found other places to store all the love and warmth she brings to so many lives. Because lord knows, my mom finds places to store everything.

She taught me lessons. Lessons like, why friends are important - but family is much, much more important. How to pick a good husband. How to spot people who are going to break your heart. Why Christmas is so special. How to ignore the haters. How to let go of the people who add nothing to your life. Why it's really important to do what you love.

I hope every one of you have someone in your lives that has helped you realize these things.

My mom is not a natural blonde, and neither am I. But we both like a little peroxide in our lives. Everyone thinks we look so much alike, but really if you look close up, we don't. We just see the same hairdresser. Look:

But that doesn't matter.

We are alike in many ways. We're both always smiling. We try to make the best of things. We both have addictive personalities and we both have a really soft spot in our hearts for dogs. Especially this one:

And this one:

We're different in many ways, too. I have a temper. She never loses hers. She cries - alot. But it's ok, because whenever she cries - it's because she really means it. People with big hearts feel things differently than the rest of us.

She loves her family more than anything. When I was going through my teenage years, I always told her I'd never ever be like her. But now I realize that I am like her. And that makes me proud.

This is one of my favorite pictures of us. She was younger here than I am now, but I will always picture her this way.

Happy birthday Mom! I love you so very much!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Eclipse gets a big thumbs up!

Yes, I know my posts have been unbearably fangirlish lately. Too bad. I'm an annoying, squealing, clapping, vampire t-shirt sporting FANGIRL. And proud of it, too.

The highlight of my day yesterday was when I learned that my best friend had gotten her hands on 4 tickets to the Burger King pre-screening of Eclipse at Sunset Place. ::cue high pitched squeal::

I KNOW! I was flippping out with excitement. A little nervous about being let down again, but still really stoked. After all, Twilight was pretty "meh" and New Moon was better but not as good as it could have been. Eclipse was my favorite book of the series and therefore had the most potential to disappoint.

But yay, it didn't!! The movie was fantastic! I know a lot of you haven't seen it yet so I won't post any spoilers, but let's just say Rob and Taylor were at their ultimate hotness! And the special effects were MUCH better this time around, along with Rosalie's god-awful wig. Unfortunately, I think Kristen Stewart will annoy me to the end of time, but in this movie she seemed a tad more human and less like a pouty, grunting robot. Loved that Jasper, Alice and the rest of the coven were a more central part of this movie. Am totally itching for Breaking Dawn to come out now!!

Annnnnddd, as if seeing my favorite Twilight book translated on screen couldn't get any better, they played an AMAZING trailer for the last (and my favorite) Harry Potter book, which will be coming out this November. I was literally tearing up at the end! I've posted it below for your viewing pleasure :)

Monday, June 28, 2010

Guess who's going to the Eclipse sneak preview tonight?!!

::points to self::

THIS GIRL!! AH hahahahaha!!! My lovely BFF's church friend pulled through for us again this year and got us a few tickets to the Burger King sneak preview. Needless to say, we are kissing the ground she walks on!

I shall report back tomorrow with a full review! Now how the heck am I going to get any more work done today??

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Potterheads Rejoice!

As I'm sure all of your Potter fans know,The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is OPEN! And luckily, those brilliant muggles at Universal decided to build this magical paradise right in my backyard, a measly three and a half hour drive from my home - so of course, I made plans to be there opening week, ready to brave the insane lines and brutal (and I mean BRUTAL) Florida summer heat. Rest assured, I took about a million pictures and they will follow below :) I will do my best to relay the entire experience for all of you who don't want to deal with 8 hours of your trip wasted in lines and near-heat-stroke-inducing temperatures.

Islands of Adventure opened at nine, so we got there at about 8ish, and though there was no line outside, the line inside the park just to get into the Wizarding World was un-friggin-believable. I mean, my jaw literally dropped. I kept asking the attendant if he was sure this was the line just to get in, to which I received an annoyed nod and a stern gesture towards the end of the line. For those of you who have never been to Islands of Adventure, the park is sort of a giant cirle around a lake, and the park is divided into a few themed "islands", which aren't really islands at all but whatever. So adjacent to Harry Potter land on either side is an ancient Greek themed island and Jurassic Park. We started the line just outside of the ancient Greek themed island, in Suessland. Now I know what you're thinking - that doesn't sound so bad, right? We just had to get through that island and Bam, we're there. WRONG. We started at Suessland and went ALL THE WAY AROUND Islands of Adventure before we were even allowed in. I mean, this line was thousands of people long, at least. We went through Suessland, the entrance to the park, Marvel Comics land, through Popeye's island (whatever it's called) and through Jurassic Park before we even caught a real up close glimpse of Hogsmeade. Three and a half hours in that line, but that wasn't even as bad as the people who braved the lines on Friday, opening day. And here are a few pictures of Hogsmeade, from outside the Wizarding World, and the pictures of when we first entered the Wizarding World.

The newly added sign

We could see Hogwarts from the line - this was about halfway through it, entering Popeye's island.

Hogsmeade, from the outside. Glorious.

Here we are, entering Hogsmeade at around noonish. I was literally FREAKING OUT with excitement and covered in sweat at this point, though I really didn't care!

OMG moment!!

Our first up-close glimpse of the castle. *Swoon* This is also the site of the new ride, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, details to follow.

Ollivanders!! I am so, so bummed I couldn't get a wand, but the line was always at least an hour long and by the time we finished exploring all the rest of the Wizarding World, I just didn't have the energy. Next time!

All of the shops in Hogsmeade were just perfect. I couldn't get over how detailed and gorgeous everything was. Love!!

When we walked in, we were totally overwhelmed. I didn't know where to look or what to do first! There were lines to do everything, including getting into any of the shops in Hogsmeade. At that point though, we were starving and dying of thirst - so first things first, we made the line to try what I had been most looking forward to since I learned they were going to bring the Wizarding World to life. What else - Butterbeer!!!

I swear, I was like a little child jumping around in line, watching everyone else walk away from the cart with their frosty souvenir mugs, I was ready to have a heart attack from the anxiety!!! But finally, it was our turn and $40 bucks and 4 souvenir mugs later, we were all ready to try the fabled beverage.


Notice my face is beet-red from the heat. But it was allll worth it. Butterbeer is everything I thought it would be. If I had to describe it, I'd say it tastes kind of like a honeyed cream soda with a caramelish foam on top. We ordered both the draft and frozen kinds and both were awesome but the frozen kind was de-friggin-licious. Similar to a root beer float. Is it terrible that I've been dreaming about it since we left the park?

I was downright GIDDY here.

Here we are, all loving our butterbeer. The lovely lady to my left is my mom :)

How will I manage without it?

After we got our butterbeer fix, we NEEDED to eat. We were starving, and since we were in Hogsmeade, there was nowhere else we were going to eat but The Three Broomsticks. Honestly, I was sort of underwhelmed by the food there. I had the fish and chips, which were pretty bland, and Anth got the Shepard's Pie, which was, unfortunately, also bland. My mom complained that her chicken and ribs were dry, and my little brother got the most shriveled chicken fingers I've ever seen. Oh well. Maybe they were just too packed to concentrate on the food. I did try Pumpkin Juice there, and was pleasantly surprised by the flavor. It was very sweet, and spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg. Yum, but not really to pair with a meal. Instead, I engorged myself with more butterbeer.

We had to wait about an hour just to get in!

The inside

Ready to eat!

My meal. Pumpkin juice to the left, fish and chips and frozen butterbeer.

My mom did love the corn. lol.

Ha Ha. I love that the boys are such good sports and pose for pictures whenever I want them to. My instructions to my little brother here were "Look like you are super full from a delicious meal!"

Full and happy. Next on the agenda - exploration!

We walked around Hogsmeade for a bit before we started the line for the Forbidden Journey, which was estimated at 120 minutes but ended up being more like 3 hours because they kept having mechanical problems. It was worth the wait, and we totally enjoyed our time in line! There was SO much to see inside Hogwarts, where the ride is located. The greenhouse, the room of requirement, Dumbledore's office, the pensieve and the portrait of the fat lady, just to name a few hallmark Potter places. I took a whole mess of pictures. The ride itself was so cool. It's kind of like the Spiderman ride at IoA, in that it's a simulator/rollercoaster, and they tried to pack as much into it as they could - Spiders, Dragons, Quidditch, Dementors, all the major characters - I thought it was a perfect tribute to Harry. I couldn't take any pictures on the ride, so you'll have to experience that for yourself when you go! But I LOVED it.


All the pictures moved, just like in the books! Again, it's the detail they put into this place that made it so magnificent. Hello there, Sirius :)

We made the line for Honeydukes later in the day - omg. Candy heaven!

The chocolate frog in the display window actually croaked and moved. I have a video of it somewhere that I'll have to post when I figure out how to post videos.

Approaching the castle!

Beautiful, isn't it??

Detail, detail. Just gorgeous.

The entrance to Hogwarts

The masses and masses of people waiting in line inside the Greenhouse.

Cute little plants? Look closer! Those are mandrakes in there!

Well hello there... You are too large to fit in one picture.

And therefore, you are split in two.

Ahh, I see Gryffindor is winning the race for the House Cup, closely followed by Slytherin!

You know what this is - I screamed like a little girl when we passed the entrance to Dumbledore's office!

It's a bit dark, but the pictures all talked and moved. So COOL!

This hall of portraits had about a million paintings hanging and talking! Epic.

Dumblie's office. Who is that I spy in the back??

A long deceased DRAGON ;o)

The defense against the dark arts classroom, where Harry, Hermione and Ron were waiting!

Can you see em?

The fat lady! She was adorable, as ushe.

An assortment of Potter paraphernalia,

You know this guy. The sorting hat! He talked as you walked by.

Ready to get on the ride! Those are all hanging candles.

After we rode Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, we made the non-existent line for The Dragon Challenge, which was just a re-vamped Dueling Dragons (a ride that used to live at IoA). Tons more Potter memorabilia, including the goblet of fire and the Triwizard cup!

There were tons of Potter signs like this one.

And this one.

Along with signs for those other schools no one cares about.

A nice photo op! Please ignore my crazy, fugly hair and sweat-ridden skin. It was a LONG day and we were really really hot.

Cool, huh? It even honked!! It nearly scared the pants off some stupid girl walking in front of us who gave us major 'tude for taking so many pictures. I laughed REALLY hard and I hope she heard me.

My lovely hubby carried my girly backpack all day. Why? Cause he's awesome.

So exciting!

I wish the blue flamed coming out of the goblet had shown up better,  but they were so cool!

The triwizard cup was also on display.

And just outside? The Hogwarts Express! Just as amazing as I'd imagined.

Hello, beautiful.

Our last stop in the Wizarding World was to Honeydukes and Zonko's Joke Shop. Including that line, we did about 8 hours worth of lines on Monday. I'd do it again in a heartbeat and I seriously can't wait to go back!

You can see just how packed it was. You could barely walk!

The inside of Honeydukes.

Candy buffet, anyone?

Yes, you'd better believe we got some of these babies to take home. I hope I don't come across any vomit flavored ones!

Inside Zonko's

Sneakoscopes for sale!

And that's it - I think I was too exhausted to take any more photos! We all headed back to our room and knocked out, and I don't think I'd ever slept so good in my life. The next day, somehow, we found the energy to do four Disney parks in one day. My legs still burn. I'll post that update some time this week.

It was an amazing day and I can't wait to hear about all of your experiences at the Wizarding World!