8.28.2016

Summer Days on the Shores of Lake Erie

I've lived in Northwest Ohio my entire life (well, except for those 18 months when I lived in Florida and the six months I'd rather forget in Pennsylvania).

But it wasn't until I had kids that I really started to appreciate the Lake Erie Shores and Islands and all the family fun they have to offer.

Sure, I visited Cedar Point every year when I was a kid, but honestly since I'm not a big coaster fan, I don't feel the need to visit that amusement park every year. Or every 3 years.

However, I do love to take a day and head to Put-in-Bay or Marblehead.

I'm going to admit - I never went to Put-in-Bay when I was "younger" - which means I never visited the island to drink. (I went to Ohio University...I had enough to drink there. ha!). The first time I visited PIB was when we took the kids ... about seven years ago.

Now we like to make it an annual summer day trip. We hop on the Miller Ferry and rent a golf cart on the island and spend the day driving around, soaking up "island life." And we did just that a few weeks ago.


If you are making plans to visit PIB I strongly suggest (1) reserving a golf cart before you arrive OR (2) arrive before noon if you don't make a reservation. On busy summer weekends the golf carts go quickly and believe me, you don't want to walk from one end of the island to the other. (There are buses near the Miller Ferry dock that will take you "downtown"...if you can't get a golf cart).

This year's visit was fun - even if Liv was nursing what would end up being a chipped bone in her foot. We arrived early, drove around for a while, and decided to stop at the Perry Monument. Sadly, the monument had been struck by lightning the day before so we couldn't take the elevator to the top.

The rest of our day consisted of lunch (PERCH!) at The Keys, a new-to-us place with a cool Jimmy Buffet vibe; traveling down to Perry's Cave at the Family Fun Center; a stop at the Heineman Winery; and ice cream!


People always seems surprised when I say I take my kids to PIB. I don't understand why - it's not like we're bar hopping with the kids. ;-)

The island is full of fun, family-friendly things to do. I always recommend visiting PIB during the summer and/or early fall - our favorite time is actually AFTER Labor Day when most of the boats and weekenders have gone and the weather is cooler. One of the best visits we've had was a few years ago when we went in mid-September. It was perfection.

But really, just about any weekend during the summer and early fall is a good time to visit. And you can always check out the upcoming events to see what kind of fun stuff is going on!

Another favorite spot to visit is Marblehead, Ohio. We hadn't driven out there in about three years, so today we packed a picnic lunch and hopped in the car for a nice day trip.

On our way to Marblehead we stopped at Cheesehaven. I'm going to put this out there: if you love cheese (like I love cheese) you MUST stop at Cheesehaven. This fun store has 100's of kinds of cheese, cheese spreads, and some really fun retro candy (gum cigarettes, anyone?). They also have a nice selection of wines - many from the island wineries. [Also? You can sample many of the cheese spreads. Seriously. Sample them! Except for maybe the Ghost Chili cheese. Or the chocolate and walnut cheese spread.]

The lighthouse was open for tours to the top, but we opted out of that part (Liv is STILL in a walking boot). We walked the rocky shoreline, took some photos, and tried to have a picnic lunch. The bees had other ideas so we opted for eating in the car instead. Plus, A/C is always nice at a picnic. ;)


After a couple hours in Marblehead we decided to take the "scenic route" home, driving through Port Clinton and then home on Route 2. (Not my favorite route home, but I did it for the kids).

All-in-all we've had two great Sundays visiting the Lake Erie Shores and Islands this month. If you're ever looking for a fun day trip or even a short "staycation" you should check out the Shores and Islands - there is something for everyone. We even found a few things we want to do next year at PIB, but we're going to visit on a weekday this time!

Disclosure: Miller Ferry Line provided me and my family with round-trip tickets on the Miller Ferry, a golf cart rental, and a family fun pack for Perry's Cave. All opinions in this post are mine. Miller Ferry did not ask me to write about my experiences.

8.23.2016

Tuesday Thoughts ... Internet Birthday Edition

It's Tuesday. Again.
Let's hope today is better than Monday.
It started out with the contact lenses going into the correct eyes, so I already have a leg up today. ;)

So what are my thought today?
One thing: social media.

In particular how much I dislike some aspects of social media on any given day.
(This seems appropriate since today IS the 25th anniversary of the ol' internet).

I don't hate social media all the time. Some days I really like it. But on some days...I really, REALLY dislike social media. Like yesterday. When I asked for positive energy and got crap.

Here's the thing:
I am 43 years old.
I've been a parent for 12 1/2 years.
I know what is best for my child.

And...
I didn't ask for anyone's opinion.

What I asked for were (1) good thoughts and (2) good vibes for Olivia who is nursing a not-too-serious but rather painful foot injury.

Good vibes, people.

That.
Is.
It.

I don't know what Olivia's foot will feel like in a few weeks. I don't know how she will feel about putting on her ballet shoes when the time comes. But that is a decision that we'll make together - me, Olivia, and her dad.

Right now my job is to keep Olivia as unstressed as humanly possible so that we don't have another cycle of alopecia.Yeah, that's right. I don't want to stress out my kid about her foot and ballet and auditions because I don't want her hair to fucking fall out. Again.

Yeah. Keep reading.

We're finally (knock on wood) to the point where all of her bald spots are almost filled in with new hair. And if I told her today that there was no way on God's Green Earth that she would be able to audition in 26 days that would UNDOUBTEDLY cause her a lot of fucking stress and unhappiness.

Which could very easily lead to a new cycle of alopecia.
And no one wants that right now. 

But I get it.
Everyone wants to pass out advice on Facebook even when they aren't asked to do so.
Everyone is an expert in everything on social media.

I'm not a doctor but I play one on Facebook.
I'm not a parenting expert but let me tell YOU how to raise your kids. 
I know you didn't ASK for my opinion but let me give it to you anyway.  

The funny thing is: when I did post something later last night asking for good vibes for Olivia (after deleting the initial post because I JUST CAN'T RIGHT NOW), only a few (very wonderful and thoughtful) people posted positive thoughts.

Which leads me to wonder: is it just that much easier to hand out unsolicited advice and/or negative comments than it is to write out positive thoughts? Are we to a point on social media where you can't just hit "like" and say "good luck"?

If we are, that makes me sad.
Social media means you're supposed to be social. 

Anyway...happy 25th to the internet.
Sometimes you're the best thing ever.
And sometimes you really suck.

8.16.2016

Tuesday Thoughts - Back to School Edition

I'm in a mood today.
It's been a very long day.

My 'thoughts' today are rather scattered and whatnot....

Back to school!
Today Emma went back to school - 4th grade! (How in the world is THAT possible??)

Of course I had to take the "first day of school photo"....

Yes. Emma IS wearing cowboy boots with a dress. ;)
Fourth grade people.
Fourth grade.

Ballerina Foot Problems
We thought Olivia broke her big toe two weeks ago. At least that is what the pediatrician told us based on reading the X-rays. (Note to self: NEVER trust a pediatrician reading X-rays). The radiologist said nothing was broken - and that report was made TWO WEEKS AGO and NO ONE called to tell us.

Which means...we've been treating a non-broken toe for two freaking weeks when in reality the issue "might" be her tendon - as in a sprain or worse.


It should be noted that ballet starts on September 6 and auditions for The Nutcracker happen on September 17. To say I'm freaking out would be an understatement.

If Liv can't dance she is going to be CRUSHED.

And stress + Olivia = hair loss.
No one wants that.

Here's hoping that the ortho we're visiting on Monday can find a quick fix that will get her back in those dancing shoes STAT. 

8.09.2016

Tuesday Thoughts - Let's Try This Again

So remember waaaayyy back at the beginning of the year when I was all "let's blog more!" and I started that "Monday Musings" thing?

Yeah?
No?
Well whatever.
It didn't work.

January suddenly turned into June and life was crazy and now it's August and I haven't blogged (again) in weeks. That's not to say that I have nothing to write about.

I do. I'm just .... busy.

Yeah who isn't busy these days, right?
Lame excuse I know.

Plus, I don't like blogging on Mondays.
So, this week we'll try something new: Tuesday Thoughts.
We'll see how long I can keep this up.

Here's what's happening in my fishbowl lately....

Fibro still sucks. Not that I thought it was going to 'get better' ... because let's face it - it isn't getting better. Manageable, maybe. If the weather is right and my mood is fine and I've had enough sleep. Then I can manage with little to no pain/discomfort/annoyance. Two weeks ago I overdid it for two days in a row and woke up on Wednesday really sick. I'm talking 'I only ate a little bit of real food, two pieces of toast, and a lot of Coca Cola' sick. Yeah. It was a no good horrible very bad day all around. By contrast, I felt great yesterday - the weather was wonderful and I had almost no pain. Today? The humidity returned and I felt like crap as soon as I woke up this morning. I'm pretty sure that the rest of the week will be challenging as I'm pushing myself to do A CRAPTON OF STUFF between now and Friday.

School starts next week. I swear the girls JUST got out of school in May and then I blinked and it is now August and time to go back to class. I think they're ready. I KNOW I'm ready. I love my kids but they need to go back and learn something aside from how to use Snapchat. School supplies are organized, new clothes will be purchase this weekend. Let's do this.

The talk. Olivia and I had 'the talk' last night. NO. Not THAT talk. The "period talk." (also: if Olivia ever reads my blog she'll kill me). I figured she's starting 7th grade and it was about time to have some girl talk. She also told me she's ready to start shaving her legs. (hold me). So...it's time to buy a razor and set up an "emergency period kit" that she can take to school for WHEN that time arrives. (as a side note to the universe: please let IT happen at home and not at school. OKthanksbye). Oh. My. God. My oldest is going to be 13 in FIVE months.

Bullet journals: I've tried to start a bullet journal ... TWICE. I've "failed" (in my own mind) twice. So I'm starting over. I bought a new journal, some supplies, and I'm going to take some time next week when the kids are at school and I'm home alone and I'll get this journal thing started. Finally. I love the idea of a bullet journal .... I just need to take the time to really do it the way I want it done (and stop worrying about how other bullet journals look on Pinterest).

And there you have it...my first installment of Tuesday Thoughts. Maybe this time - with the help of my soon-to-be-created bullet journal - I'll actually get some real blogging done again. ;)

7.26.2016

I Still #FeelTheBern But I'm Not #BerineOrBust

So I stayed up WAY too late last night watching the first night of the Democratic National Convention. And it was totally worth it.

I'm a political junkie and have no problem admitting it. I love the conventions (well, OK, I love the DNC...the other I can do without). For the rest of this week you'll find me on Twitter each night. ;)

Here is what I'm currently thinking about the election: I wish Bernie would have won the nomination. Woulda. Coulda. Shoulda. He didn't win. Do I think the Democratic party worked behind the scenes to make sure he didn't win? Yes. I do. I think those leaked emails show as much.

Does that mean I'm going to vote for someone other than Hillary?

No.

Why?

Because:
1. I'm a Democrat. Always have been. Always will be.

2. Hell would have to freeze over for me to even consider voting for the Republican candidate (the one whose name I refuse to type).

3. I'm not going to pout about Bernie losing. Hell, Bernie isn't pouting (at least not in public) and I still believe in him and if he's OK supporting Hillary then I'm OK with supporting that ticket too.

4. I don't want to imagine what this country would look like with that egomaniac sociopath narcissist asshat running the show.

Look, it's simple: I wish Bernie would have won the nomination. I think he would have made a great president. But he didn't win. We have to move on. We have to unite as one party if we're going to win in November. We have to stop acting like spoiled petulant kids who just want to take their toys and go vote for a third party candidate who has no hope of winning.

As Sarah Silverman said last night to the #BernieOrBust people: You're being ridiculous.
Seriously.
Stop being ridiculous.

Democrats are no good to anyone if we splinter our party. Do I think Hillary is the best person for the job? Right now, probably yes. Am I happy that it has come to this? Honestly, I'm not thrilled about it.

But if Bernie can go on stage last night at the convention and speak to Hillary's experience and tell everyone that he thinks she's the best candidate for the job...then I can vote for her in November.

However, I'm still leaving my Bernie sign in my office window. ;)

7.20.2016

Another Day in FibroLand

Hot and humid days are no longer my friends, thanks to fibromyalgia.

Not that I really ever enjoyed the heat and humidity during the summer months, but at least B.F. (before fibro) I could tolerate them.

Now?
Well, now I know when I wake up what the weather is going to be like that day.

Yesterday it was warm (almost hot) and not too humid, but I woke up feeling "off." I was achy and tingly and my brain was frazzled for most of the day. I basically hated everyone and wasn't afraid to tell them.

Case in point: after spending several hours in the heat watching (from the comfort of my golf cart of course) the girls golf  I was done. Guy rolls past me in his golf cart, dressed head to toe in all black (it WAS 90 degrees after all)..and all I could think say out loud was this gem: "Who the f*ck does he think he is, Johnny Cash?"

I couldn't help myself.
Apparently fibro = no filter anymore.
Mom says I need a new blog: Things Fibro Makes Me Say.
Might not be a bad idea.

Today the heat is rising and so is the humidity and I can feel it in my arms and hips and knees. It sucks because I can try to tell people how I feel but I know they don't understand. After the girls' golf match today I'm sure I'll be completely spent.

Tomorrow, Friday, and Saturday they are forecasting a heat index each day between 100 and 110 degrees. Me? I'll be staying inside. Hibernating.

Ah, another day in FibroLand. ;)

7.18.2016

Do What You Love. And Love What You Do.

It's been FIVE YEARS since I walked out of my office at the after dealing with horrible bullying for six months (out of the 12 months that I was in that job). You can read all about my experiences here, here, and in this post where I post my "eff you" resignation letter.

The day I quit my job five year ago my Facebook status was: 'FREEDOM!!!'

To say that my time spent in that office was a nightmare would be an understatement. What happened to me should never happen to anyone in the workplace (or in school or well, ANYWHERE). The bullying nearly broke me and made me question everything about my professional life and friendships.

It took me more than a year to recover from the bullying (even though you never really "recover" from it but you are able to eventually put in in your past). For a long time I questioned my ability to find a job, my abilities as a writer, and what I really wanted to do with my professional life.

And then, 3 1/2 years ago I started this job that I love. By the end of this year I'll have worked at this job longer than I've worked at any other job. EVER.

And I wouldn't have it any other way.

People often say "do what you love and love what you do" and let me tell ya something - they're right.

I am doing what I love and loving what I do.
And I work with the most amazing, talented, incredible, kick-ass, and supportive group of women.

But you know what else?

I still stop and question my abilities from time to time. I find myself thinking "You can't do that."... or "That's a dumb idea." ... and then I remember that the voice telling me that is the one that took up residence in my brain when I worked for the Girl Scouts and even though she's quiet most of the time, she's still hanging out and being a real bitch every now and then.

But now, five years later, I know that voice is wrong. Very wrong. I am good at what I do (honesty, not arrogance, people). And I can do anything I put my mind to.

As much as those bullies tried to break me five years ago, they failed. And they failed in spectacular fashion.

7.06.2016

Wednesday in FibroLand

When people ask "how do you feel?" I'm not sure if it's easier for me to say "today kind of sucks" or to say something along the lines of this:

Today when I woke up, I was stiff from head to knee. My ankle was wrapped in a compression sock because it was swollen twice the normal size last night (continued tendonitis issue). I took a few minutes to VERY SLOWLY sit up in bed, stretching my joints so I could actually get out of bed. I walked downstairs - stiffly - and as the next 30 minutes wore on the stiffness wore off. But I could still feel the aches in my limbs and joints. For me, the shoulders, elbows, and hips are my worst points. Today I felt the most pain in my shoulders. It's a constant ache, it never really "goes away." If I sit for too long at my desk I stiffen up from head to toe. It's a good thing my Apple Watch tells me stand every now and then, otherwise Kevin might come home to find me stuck in my chair. Tonight as I'm typing this both of my arms are tingling from shoulder to fingertip. You know that tingling feeling you get when your feet fall asleep? Yeah? Imagine your arms feeling like that. Or your whole body. It isn't pleasant - my arms felt like that for an hour. Now it's just a dull tingle combined with a dull ache. Joy.

Of course, that's just how I felt today.
Tomorrow will be a different story.

I've been wondering if this whole tingly-feeling is me being "crazy" or if it really is a "fibro thing." According to my rhuematologist (who is so effing cool)...it's "normal." Or at least it's normal for my fibro.

See, the thing is - according to my doctor and other things I've read - everyone's fibro is different. Some people don't have a lot of pain, but they have debilitating fatigue. Some people have pain so severe they can't get out of bed.

Me?

Apparently I am overly sensitive to the sensation of "touch" ... among other things like the whole body tingling feeling. (Maybe this explains why I'm not that big on hugging). My doc says not everyone with fibro has that sensitivity .. but I do. And to be told that I'm not crazy for that was a bit refreshing.

So there you have it - a day in the life of me as I try to navigate this fibro thing.

Onward and upward....

7.02.2016

Diagnosis.

OK, here it is you guys.

The moment you've all (and by "all" I mean the two people other than my mom who happen to still read this blog) been waiting for.

Drum roll please.

Remember how I mentioned a few posts back that I've been dealing with some "medical stuff" but didn't want to delve into it at the moment?

No?
Well, trust me, I did mention it.

Long story super short: I've been dealing with odd aches and pains since about January, maybe earlier. I've also been feeling "off" and "out of sorts" and more tired than normal. And I've been sleeping for CRAP.

I'm talking the worst sleep ever - even worse than when I was 9 months pregnant and sleeping on the couch because I was so uncomfortable. We're talking about horrible, shitty, awful sleep. Waking up in pain at 3 a.m. every f*cking night kind of sleep.

Oh, and my moods? Holy Toledo I've been a bitch.
I mean....more so than normal.

So...(remember this is the short version)....I went to my doctor who ran some blood work, thinking I had Rheumatoid Arthritis. Blood work came back "not normal" so she sent me to a Rheumatologist. He examined me, did more blood work (tested for RA, Lupus, Vitamin D deficiency, and thyroid disease) and.....the final diagnosis?

I know you're on the edge of your freaking seat, aren't ya?

Well...I don't have any of those diseases.

Nope.

The "good news" according to my rheumatologist is that I have Fibromyalgia.

(I have to note that spellcheck doesn't even think Fibromyalgia is a word. It's underlined in red as if I spelled it wrong or made it up. Trust me, I didn't).

So yeah.
There it is.
After months of wondering WHAT THE HELL was wrong with me and why I felt like total crap...I have an answer.

Can't say it's the answer I wanted.
Not that I wanted ANY of those illnesses.
But I'm not really happy about this one either.

Bright side: at least now when my shoulders, arms, elbows, wrists, back, and hips hurt to varying degrees EVERY F*CKING DAY I can blame it on Fibro. And when I forget why the hell I went downstairs I can blame it on Fibro. And when I NEED to go to bed at 8:30 at night on any given night because it hurts to move/walk/breathe (and I feel physically sick from pain like I did Tuesday night), I can blame it on Fibro.

So what am I going to do about this?
Well, I'm not going to take medicine.

I'm sure you've seen the commercials for various Rx meds for people with Fibro. I'm not taking ANY of them. Why? (1) Because I detest taking medicine and (2) because they are only going to mask my symptoms. There is NO CURE for this illness.

I am stuck with Fibro for now and forever.

So what am I doing about it?

Well...(here's where you might laugh)
I'm going to start yoga.

...Namaste bitches. ;)...

And I am going to try acupuncture ... because being stuck with needles sounds so pleasant.
And I'm going to drink healthy smoothies for breakfast.
And I am eventually going to switch to half-decaf coffee. 
And I am going to lose some many LBS.

And I'm going to keep on keeping on and NOT let this drag me down.

I refuse to let Fibro define ME.

I'm still me...I just happen to hurt every day and take sleeping pills now to help me sleep (they don't help). But I'm still alive and standing and dripping with snark and sarcasm. I'm still doing what I was doing before this stupid diagnosis - working, doing laundry, cooking meals, playing with my kids, golfing (poorly), and going out with friends. I just happen to do it all with Fibro tagging along like that painful bitch she is.

Also, if you ask me "how are you doing today?" I'm probably going to tell you "I'm fine" even when I'm not (unless you're my mom or sister or husband and then I'll bitch and moan about all of it and how much it all sucks so F*CKING much). And maybe on that given day I really am "fine" (like today...today was a freaking ah-mazing day). Or maybe I'm not fine. You might never know.

So there it is.

And if you're so inclined and want to learn more about Fibromyalgia you can visit this website.

6.12.2016

Madness

You'll have to forgive me if this post starts to ramble or is full of non-sequiturs...it's been one of those days. 

Yesterday I returned home from an amazing and wonderful week at sea with my whole family. We had a great time and ate too much food and visited countries that while beautiful really made you appreciate what you have at home. Driving through Cozumel I was struck by the beauty of the ocean and the bleakness of the interior. Gas was more than $4 a gallon. I saw moms and dads driving really small motorbikes while holding very small kids. We saw ramshackle houses where people clearly lived in poverty. I even said to my husband "this really makes you appreciate what we have at home."

Today I woke up to the news of the mass shooting in Orlando. I saw a post on Facebook first that said 20 people killed at a gay nightclub in Orlando. Then I turned on the news and watched the story  unfold. By early this afternoon that number had risen to 50.

50 people.
Shot dead.
50 people out for a night of fun who will never return home.

The headlines read: Worst Mass Shooting in U.S. History.
There should probably be an asterisk after those words:*Until the next one.

Cynical?
Yes.
Realistic?
Probably.

I have to wonder what the people of those countries we visited - Haiti, Jamaica, Mexico - think when they see the news about today. I bet they appreciate what they have, even if it is just a little slice of paradise dependent on the tourists dumped on their shores by mega ships.

I bet they are thankful that they don't live in a place where 50 innocent people can be murdered by a madman wielding an assault rifle in a nightclub. I bet they are thankful that they don't live in a country where tomorrow the politicians and pundits will once again be debating "the right to bear arms" and arguing how it is a "Constitutional right" to buy an assault rifle. I bet they are thankful for their islands in the sun.

Me? I'm appalled and saddened about what happened in Orlando. I am repulsed by those who continue to argue that everyone should be able to buy guns. I'm sick of turning on the news and hearing about another mass shooting. And I'm quite certain that when the Second Amendment was written it was not meant to be interpreted as giving everyone the right to own an assault rifle because that is PURE INSANITY.

What happened in Orlando (and Sandy Hook, and Aurora, Colorado, and San Bernadino) should not happen. Ever.

It most certainly should not happen in a civilized country.
But there's the rub, isn't it?

I'm beginning to think that our country isn't so civilized after all. The amount of vitriol and hate and anger spouted on a daily basis by the presidential candidate who shall not be named and just about everyone else on the news and social media is astonishing. And sad. And exhausting. And I wonder where it will all end.

Here's hoping for peace, love, and understanding in this mad, mad world.