Friday, November 28, 2014

Why Don't You Celebrate Thanksgiving?

It's time for my annual Day-After-Thanksgiving post. Enjoy!

http://zenpretzeltrick.blogspot.com/2009/11/why-dont-you-celebrate-thanksgiving.html.

Or Google "Zen Pretzel Trick Thanksgiving."

I am on my mobile and having difficulties putting up links...I will attempt to rectify this tomorrow. Thanks! 






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Friday, November 21, 2014

Yo Gabba Gabba Live!

Last Wednesday, Jonathan and I took Eden (our youngest daughter) and Justice (our goddaughter/her best friend) to see "Yo Gabba Gabba! Live!" here in Portland. 


We've been to a few of these sorts of kids' shows over the years: "Sesame Street Live," "Disney's The Little Mermaid on Ice," and last, but not least, "Barney Live," otherwise known as the Show That Must Not Be Named. Let me tell you, folks: after three long hours of purple purgatory, I understood completely why his singing is used by our armed forces as an instrument of war. 


As a direct result of the trauma that resulted from our wretched dinosaur overdose, we avoided similar shows for years. And so, this was the first stage show experience for Eden & Justice. To call them "excited" may be the understatement of the century.

So, what was "Yo Gabba Gabba Live" like? 


First and foremost, it was a reasonable length: about an hour and a half, plus an intermission. The perfect amount of time for the age range in question. 


Secondly, they didn't try to get creative with an unnecessarily-complicated plot like so many other live kids' shows insist upon doing. This was very much a concert rather than a play, which was evident in this year's theme: "Music is Awesome." 


DJ Lance Rock and the YGG characters sang popular songs from the show, such as "Party In My Tummy" and "Don't Bite Your Friends." They actively encouraged the kids and adults to get up on their feet and dance along. And almost without exception, they did! It was something to behold: enraptured children dancing in pure joy, all the while encouraging their parents and grandparents to stand up and "Get Your Sillies Out!"


In addition, they played games, such as "Hold Still" and "DJ Lance Says." During all that dancing & singing, a large screen on the backdrop played clips from the television show, including many adorable tots dancing their hearts out. Very cute.

Third, the lobby was set up nicely for the event with friendly people in YGG shirts talked with the kids and there were nice decorations that allowed for photo opportunities such as this one:


Our favorite part of the lobby set-up was a fun YGG bean-bag game for kids to play and win a YGG picture to color.



Fourth, the cast was incredibly friendly, even by children's performer standards. The characters frequently stopped to high-five the kids, and DJ Lance Rock himself came out into the audience to hug fans & pose for photos. Eden got both a hug and a handshake from DJ Lance, and it was the highlight of her night! 

Fifth, they didn't go overboard with the merchandise. Having taken Wren to three separate "American Idol" tours over the years and dealt with their theme-park-level sales, it was refreshing to see just the one booth selling t-shirts, toys and the like. We got both girls a Toodie stuffed doll and Eden also purchased a small bag of bracelets with her birthday money, saved for just this occasion. 


And finally, there was a little trip down memory lane for the parents at the show... 

We thought perhaps they would do the program's popular segment "Biz's Beat of the Day" via a video clip shown on the huge Jumbotron-esque screen behind the cast.


But to our delight, the Biz himself was in the house and performed live on stage! 


He taught a few birthday kids some basic beatboxing, then hit a DJ booth to "kick it up old-school." 


Just as he began to spin the Sugarhill Gang's "Jump On It" (thankfully, without the war-whoops), out comes 90's rap legend Rob Base!


Naturally, Biz then mixed in the famous sample from Base's big hit "It Takes Two." 

Kids all over the room were looking at their excited parents in awe. "You know who Biz is, Daddy?" I heard one flabbergasted little girl say, setting herself up for the inevitable Dad joke: "Of course I know Biz! He's been JUST A FRIEND for years!"


The only drawbacks were the rules against food in the theater (I was rather counting on a snack for my medication), and the rather anemic offerings insofar as concessions were concerned (flat soda, no caffeine-free options, sold out of soft pretzels and apple juice within minutes.)

My biggest gripe? Accessibility.


When my husband bought the tickets, he specifically asked for wheelchair seating as close to the restroom as possible. 


What we got was yet another example of how differently the word "accessible" is defined by the general public versus how it's defined by the disabled community. 

Technically, our seats were very close to the bathroom: the restrooms were on the bottom floor and our seats were directly on top of them, one floor up. Ideal for almost everyone hoping to make a few quick pit stops. Especially folks with disability-related bladder issues like myself.

But as it turns out, "almost everyone" does not include me, as the restrooms were only accessible from our seats by a very long and wide staircase. 


Naturally, stairs are out of the question for me, so I had to take the elevator...which was on the exact opposite end of the large theater from our seats! So while in theory we had the best bathroom-adjacent seats in the house, in practice we couldn't possibly have been further away. 

Lesson learned: ask where the bathrooms are AND how one gets to them from the assigned seat.

All things considered, the few gripes hardly matter. After all, this outing wasn't about me: it was about my daughter & my goddaughter getting to have a great time with characters they know and love. And "Yo Gabba Gabba! Live!" absolutely delivered. 


During the program, DJ Lance Rock mentioned that they'd been doing this tour for five years. If they come back to Portland, I'd love to take my daughter and goddaughter back to see them again! 




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Sunday, November 16, 2014

MS Adventures: Hazy Days


The thing about MS that a lot of people don't understand is how widly the symptoms can fluctuate from day to day and even hour to hour. In the family of chronic illnesses, MS is a toddler: sometimes on good behavior, but always just moments away from a full-blown tantrum. And while you can learn to avoid certain triggers, sometimes you just have no idea what caused the meltdown. 


And like a toddler hip-deep in the terrible twos, some days are just rough from the moment you wake up until the moment you finally get some sleep.


There are different kinds of bad days. Today, I am having what I call a "Hazy Day." Actually, it's been a whole Hazy Weekend, with no end in sight.

Hazy Days can be hard to explain. You aren't in any terrible chronic pain, and as long as you rest, the spasms aren't a big problem. Neither are insomnia, migraines or nerve shocks. 

So what's the big deal? Why do I hate Hazy Days so much, when my biggest issues have taken a short vacation?

While it's true that sharp pain isn't present, what I have instead is a steady, unending soreness in every single muscle. Every small movement burns, and walking feels like torture. I am incapable of taking anything other than "baby steps," when I can get out of bed at all. The level of muscle soreness a Hazy Day throws at you feels like you've gone 12 rounds with Laila Ali, slept on a wooden plank, then walked 50 miles home. 


The soreness is bad enough on its own, but it's been rude enough to invite some other symptoms to your day without even  a phone call first. Among those party crashers are optic neuritis, nausea, vertigo, severe fatigue and a total loss of appetite. It's very much as if after you went those rounds with Ali, slept on a plank and walked home...you had the bad luck to catch the flu. 


And after all that, MS still has one last unwanted guest to saddle you with: cognitive issues.

It's those cognitive issues that make me truly despise Hazy Days. Imagine having a terrible head cold...right after waking up from dental anesthesia. That's about how clearly you're able to function on a Hazy Day.


In the MS community, we call these cognitive issues "Brain Fog." Your memory is shot, you have the attention span of a hyperactive fruit fly, and concentration is just beyond you. Trying to hold a coherent conversation is like trying to nail Jell-O to a tree. It's very aggravating. 


Right about now is when I hear: "So why don't you just play through the pain? It doesn't sound that bad!" 


First of all, it IS that bad. Think back to the worst flu you ever had, then multiply it by four. Were you able to "play through" that? Secondly, it isn't just the symptoms that keep you in bed during a Hazy Day. It's what those symptoms will become if you don't take the hint and rest: severe muscle spasms, difficulty swallowing, increased risk of infections like UTIs, and increased risk of injury due to falls. And finally, it's knowing exactly what your doctors will say to you if you do get those bad spasms, infections, and/or injuries: "Why weren't you being responsible and resting?!?" 


What it all boils down to is this: a Hazy Day means you're completely immobile, you can barely think or talk, you're scared to move lest you end up in the hospital (again), and you're bored senseless. And there is little to nothing you can do about it. 


So what DO you do on a Hazy Day? In short: not much. You're stuck re-reading old books and watching sitcom re-runs, too hazy to focus and too sore to move. 


Even the thought of getting out of bed is too exhausting to contemplate. All you can do is huddle under the blankets, sip some tea, and hope the symptoms get bored soon and find someone else's party to crash.


So by now you should have a good picture of what kind of awful party MS Hazy Days throws in your unwilling body. To hammer the point home: a post this size usually takes me about an hour from beginning to end. This one, in the rages of a Hazy Day, has taken me nearly four hours to complete. And it's the only thing I have accomplished today.

I hate Hazy Days. Hopefully the fog will lift tomorrow... 


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Tuesday, November 04, 2014

My Buzzfeed Quote!

Yep, I'm on Buzzfeed today, sharing my love for the great James Spader. Seriously, if you aren't watching "The Blacklist," GET TO IT.