Sunday, November 28, 2010

Recipe for Christmas cheer

It's that time again...time for my TiVo to be filled with Christmas delights--er, movie specials. Some of you might think it's a waste of time for me to watch the cheesy goodness, but every year, it fills me with a crazy, giddy joy to see what Hallmark and ABC Family have to offer in the way of holiday programming. Sometimes after awhile, though, they all seem to meld together into a red-and-green swirl of joy mixed with plot and character development.

The way I figure it, here are the ten things it takes to make a good Christmas movie:

1) A hunky male lead
2) A woman who's trying to 'make it on her own' but somehow needs a man around the yuletide season to make things happy and complete
3) Some unfortunate incident (death of a parent, loss of a job, etc.) around the holidays that causes either said hunky male lead or aforementioned woman to hate Christmas and everything related to it
4) A killer soundtrack of cheery music, complete with lots of bell-ringing in the tunes
5) A 'magical' genie, witch, wish-granter of sorts--bonus points if he/she disappears in a mysterious way
6) Someone who doesn't believe in Santa Claus but is converted by the end of the two-hour film
7) A town that bands together for some sort of cause
8) References to the lack of or abundance of snow (because that's what makes Christmas Christmas, after all!)
9) A gift or keepsake that makes an appearance and has special meaning
10) Changes of heart that can only happen around this magical, magical time of year

Seriously, folks, I should be in the Christmas movie biz because I could write these things in my sleep by now! I give props and kudos to the movies that throw me for a loop, because with over 30 of these things on my DVR awaiting my viewing, I have to be picky! I've instigated a rule that a show has until its 30-minute mark to enthrall me. After that, if I'm not hooked, to the trash can it goes.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Shoes? Yes, please...

This morning, to celebrate the official beginning of the holiday (read: Christmas) season, I did the following:

* Set up my tree and nativity
* Cranked up the holiday tunes on my laptop
* Participated in Black Friday (from afar!) by going online and spending WAY too much time ogling beautiful clothes.

The ogling turned into buying--four pairs of shoes. Uh...BOGO half off and 20% off on top of that? Thank you, Famous Footwear. In my defense (I argue: should an independent woman making her own living ever have to justify her fashion purchases? No.), I have been searching for a few different types of shoes to replace some old favorites that have worn out. Found! Found. FOUND.

Speaking of shoes, and if you really want to lovely, witty, fantastic friend Heidi has a blog you should visit: This girl has a bajillion shoes and is always finding something awesome. Just go look at the pretty heels, mmkay? She's also having a giveaway contest for free boots! Be forewarned that you may end up getting an itch to buy more pairs of shoes than your closet can rightly contain. :)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

It's called a 'cruel irony'...

Want to hear the good news? I've officially hit my goal weight. Yeah, after 7 months of tiny ups and downs, I've whittled myself into quite the svelte character. And I'm not going to lie--I'm pretty proud of myself. I don't look back and think that I've cheated myself in any way (as far as eating goes), and I honestly like how I feel!

I'm not here writing this to brag about the size I wear or how many inches I've lost, but I'm incredibly happy to be celebrating the achievement of a goal. A concrete, write-it-down-and-work-each-day goal. It's a tad strange, though, because I'm thinking, "So...what now?" I'll tell you what now: Keep exercising. Keep eating my daily oatmeal. Keep sneaking in the fun food but not letting it take its control over me.

What does slightly annoy me is that I have hit this fabulous milestone right on the brink of a particularly difficult season for a food-lover--Thanksgiving and Christmas. Come on, when it comes down to the choice of eating four extra rolls or the decision to have pie for breakfast, I have to admit: I. AM. WEAK. And Christmas candy? If it's red, I'm eating it.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Things fall apart

Things really do fall apart, Chinua Achebe. Like hearts. And lungs. Or brains. Such is the case in my family these days. I mentioned in a previous post that my family is single-handedly keeping the medical biz alive lately. Funny as that may be, it's starting to get out of control.

I hope my family doesn't mind me talking about them so openly and candidly on my blog. Most all of them are fairly non-secretive about their conditions and post their own snippets on Facebook and the like. I will try not to invade any of their privacy or make them uncomfortable about what I put on here.

Sister #1: Diagnosis - tumor on the pituitary. Last night I came home from the ballet (beautiful and fabulous!) and checked my email and Facebook, per usual. I found a note written by my sister stating that she was preparing for brain surgery on Friday to have a tumor removed from her pituitary. I knew something had been wrong. I had heard bits and pieces, but I didn't know the severity of this issue. Her husband, children, and other family can't really be with her, either. I'd like to think that she's taking it calmly in stride, because she is handling the situation without a lot of emotion. I just know how I would feel. The two words 'brain surgery' would be enough to throw me into a fit of tears, and in fact, reading about my sister's 'brain surgery' did send me over that precipice for a few minutes, as my heart ached for her.

Sister #2: Diagnosis - undetermined; may be neurological or cardiological (I don't think that's even a word, but I'm running with it). Several lumbar punctures (youch!), biopsy appointments, drugs, scans, time spent with several specialists, and the only answer is this: yes, there is SOMEthing wrong with you. We don't know what, but we'd love to prod you some more and wait for your cerebrospinal fluid to rise to dangerous levels right before helping you out. I honestly don't know how Sister #2 handles it, but what can you really do? You just keep living day by day, surrounded by people who love you and support you and would do anything for you. The best I can do is take her kids to McDonald's or bring her a giant microbe at the hospital after she's just had a semi-permanent monitor placed in her heart. Add to this her children who suffer with their own medical problems (see below) and a mother-in-law who recently passed away after a horrible bout with cancer. This sister is definitely down for the when-it-rains-it-pours award.

Nephew: Diagnosis - nobody knows, but after 8 years, they keep trying! This big guy has always lived a life full of monitors (who knew a kid could forget to breathe so much?) and doctors. Just this last week, he was diagnosed with a few additional problems that required some exploratory surgery. The good news is that these problems might lead a step closer to finding out what's happening big picture. Fingers crossed!

Sister #3: Diagnosis - interminable migraine headaches interspersed with dizziness and nausea. After about 6 weeks of not being able to hardly function because of constant headaches, Sister #3 decided it was probably time to see a professional. Now I quasi work in the medical industry, so I've seen the good and bad doctors can do, but really, doctors are just people. The first doctor told her it was probably a sinus infection or allergies and gave her some pills. No bueno. Since then, she's been in for two MRIs and to the chiropractor, and the best they can tell her is that it isn't a tumor. Luckily the chiropractation (word? don't care...) has been helping, but the jury's still out.

If that's not enough, let's talk about my own cancer scare from earlier this year, or my little brother's problems with abdominal whatnot on his mission. Or happiest of all, a new nephew being born but only after a painful pregnancy for my sister.

Here's what I have learned:

1) Health insurance, crazy as it may be, is a life saver. Sure, jumping through their hoops can sometimes be a joke, but just thinking of the costs for all the tests and procedures mentioned above is truly overwhelming.

2) In pain and heartache, my family knows where to turn for comfort--whether it be to cry upon one another's shoulder or seeking the Lord's help.

3) Dwelling on the difficult things doesn't make you feel good. Profound, right? Really, in my own experience and in discussing the experiences my family has had, you wake up each morning, figure out how much you can accomplish, you get to task, and you try to have a positive outlook. Oh, there's plenty of complaining that takes place, but once the complaining is done, it is sweet to see where others fill in the gaps of what we cannot ourselves get done.

And so, after my minute and a half of sobbing alone at my house last night, thinking of how much I want to absorb the pain and tumult that is affecting my family, I take comfort in the fact that when it comes down to it, we're going to be ok. We have each other. Things might fall apart, but we keep it together the best we can.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

I'm too old for this...

My rusty brain has come out of storage as I've been diligently studying my heart out for the dear GRE (coming up in two and a half weeks!). Just a few thoughts....

Dear Vocabulary section--I thought I knew words. Really, I did. My lexicon is extensive, and I love language, so I figured I'd be set. What you have taught me is this: there are too many words. My brain is only so big, and it hasn't been truly exercised in awhile.

And Math?