Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Lots of Celebrating!

So far the holidays have been absolutely wonderful. I will admit that even though I was excited about previous Christmases, I was not big on seeing a bunch of people and doing a lot because of anxiety or fatigue. But I had my mind made up that this Christmas would be different and I would make the most of it.

After I left work on Christmas Eve, Rommel and I went to have dinner at his cousin's house. It was so nice to catch up with everyone and see their kids. Then we headed over to his friend's house, which has been a tradition since they were little kids. The best part was watching the kids open their gifts before bed.

On Christmas day we took our time waking up, went out to get breakfast, and then opened some gifts. My parents gave Zooey a few sardines stuffed with catnip and Sunny a couple new squeaky toys. They had no idea what to do for Simba since he does not really like toys and is picky about treats, so I gave him a couple of extra treats from us.

And yes, I realize that I talk to my pets like they are babies and I sound like I big dork, but that's me.

In the afternoon Rommel, his mother, and I headed over to his uncle's house for a huge feast of Filipino food. Finally we went to another friend's house to wish them all a happy holiday. I did not fully realize how long I have cut myself off from people until someone said it had been two years since we had seen each other. We only live maybe a hour away from each other and her family always has something going on, inviting people over.

In the end, it was kind of a gift to myself to realize how much I missed participating in life. I am not looking to go out every night, but I definitely want to widen my circle.

We also stopped by an outdoor shopping center in town that has a three story Christmas tree in the middle of the square. It was absolutely amazing to see at night and wanted to share a picture. There is also a picture of Santa's house which was just adorable.

I do not know if it was the extremely busy weekend or the fact that I forgot to take my medicine on Sunday night, but Monday was my worst day yet when it comes to RA. Every inch of my body was in pain and I felt at a complete loss at what to do. I called my rheumatologist, but they could not help me because he was out of the office. I ended up calling my sister and just crying to her. Apparently I scared her because next thing I know my mom is calling me and Rommel came home early from work (a very rare occurrence). Once I was home, I was able to get a little more comfortable, but the pain was still extreme. I took the mobic that I missed the night before and within a couple of hours I was able to complete the work that I could not finish at the office.

I woke up this morning feeling semi-normal again. The funny thing is that I had just told my mom that I did not think the mobic was helping me at all when apparently it was what was preventing the pain the whole time. (My doctor finally called with a prednisone prescription late this afternoon.)

And I am so glad that I was feeling better today because it would have sucked to feel bad on my birthday! And I have to say that it was a pretty awesome birthday. I received some beautiful gifts from people I love, had lunch with great friends, and spent the evening with my hubby who left work early to be with me.

Rommel also sent me some gorgeous flowers. I am so lucky to be married to such a thoughtful, loving guy.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Things I Love Thursday, Except It's Friday

I cannot believe that tomorrow is Christmas! I am looking forward to seeing friends and family over the next few days even though my heart is breaking a little bit thinking about my parents and sister in Illinois and how much I miss them. I guess I just have to make flying home for next Christmas one of my goals for next year.

Here's some of the things I loved this week!
  • Our family holiday card turned out really well this year. I decided that I was not going to put one together this year because of the time it can take. But in the end I knew that I still really wanted our babies on a card. I used pictures of everyone that I already had and it came together fabulously.
  • I found the instructions for tiny hat ornaments on Arian Armstrong's blog and decided to make some to go with my holiday cards. They turned out pretty well.

  • One of the older gentlemen I work with always gives me a present at the holidays because he is constantly asking me to do favors for him at work (mostly having to do with the computer because he has never used one). Of course I would do the work anyway because I adore him and his wife. Sometimes the gifts are a little out of left field, although always appreciated. This year he gave me a very interesting bracelet, which is awesome because I am so into eclectic jewelry right now.

  • I watched quite a few movies over the last few days since it rained and rained and rained all week. One thing I really like about instant streaming movies with Netflix is that I can find obscure documentaries that I love. Here's a few a little info on the ones I enjoyed this week:

I absolutely loved Exit Through the Gift Shop: A Banksy Film, which is about the street art culture. It focuses on a man named Thierry Guetta who immigrated from France. After filming his cousin, Invader, place his artwork around France, Guetta becomes obsessed with filming street artists, including Shepard Fairy who created the famous Obama/Hope poster. But it was not the story of Guetta that I enjoyed (many people wonder if the film was a true story or another work by Banksy). What I loved about the film was witnessing these artists plan out their works and attempt to display them in public without getting caught.

At the end of the film, Guetta begins calling him Mr. Brainwash and constructs his own art show. I honestly did not like his work and wondered if it could even be considered art. Is it really art if you hire graphic artists to create a piece using your "vision"? Is it really art if you take another artist's piece and tweak it?

When You're Strange: A Film About the Doors was an an interesting take on the band and the larger than life figure that was Jim Morrison. The film included quite a bit of footage from a film Morrison made that was never released to the public. I honestly thought it was an actor portraying Morrison until I read the film info. I am always curious about people's stories and definitely enjoyed the film, but it definitely makes you wonder what would have happened to the band if Jim Morrison had not died at 27. Would they have just faded away instead of becoming such as huge piece of rock and roll in the sixties.
Blood into Wine is a documentary about Maynard James Keenan, lead singer of Tool, and Eric Glomski and their endeavor to establish a winery in Arizona. I am not a wine fan myself, but everything that goes into the complicated process of producing a successful wine is crazy interesting. Plus there is the element of growing grapes in an area not known for it and the stigma of being a rock star with a hobby.
  • And of course spending time with family! Rommel was able to leave work early on Thursday, so we were able to go out to eat and browse a couple of vintage places. I am still a little uncomfortable in restaurants, probably because there are not a lot of distractions, but I was not anxious and that is a little victory for me.

Happy Holidays Everyone!!!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Muscle Pain & New Meds

I am not even sure how to describe the last two weeks. I have been experiencing more and more muscle pain and I woke up last Wednesday feeling the worst of it. I went to work even though I was fighting off tears because there were things that had to be done. I decided that I would walk to urgent care next door as soon as everything was finished since I knew it would be impossible to get in to see my rheumy.

Luckily I was able to get in to see my primary that morning. He ended up giving me a pain killer and prescribing Celebrex in addition to my other RA meds. My rheumy agreed with the Celebrex but insurance would not cover it, so they prescribed mobic instead. Out of all the crazy, complicated names there are for medications, the simple ones like mobic scare me the most. It is too small of a word for all the symptoms it can relieve and all the side effects it can create.

He also wants me to go back to physical therapy, which I am not really sure about. It definitely helped for the short time I went, which was about six months ago, but it was not long before I was in pain again. I made the initial appointment and the morning I was supposed to go I received a bill for $150.00 to cover what insurance would not pay for from six months ago. Of course the office could not tell me anything about it, but assured me I would only have to pay the co-pay for my current appointment. I still went to the appointment and I felt great for the rest of the day. A week later and I am fighting off the tears again.

I have been going back and forth between the physical therapy office and the insurance company to get that $150.00 paid. It seems that the office billed the insurance for three separate codes for each visit and the insurance understood that to be three separate visits. So my six authorized visits did not go very far.

Hopefully it will work out, which means it would be more probable that I could afford the $75.00 fee each visit costs since I now have a deductible that has to be paid off.

It basically just sucks. Of course the pain is awful, but the popping and grinding coming from my joints is unnerving as well. And I could be taking the pain killers instead of whining over things, but I am just really uncomfortable with taking yet another pill.

Now that the complaints are out of the way and I have released all that negativity, I am looking forward to having tomorrow off to rest and wrap a couple of things for some coworkers. Then I just have to get through working Friday before having two days off in a row. Yup, I said TWO DAYS OFF IN A ROW. It has been a long time since that has happened.

Plus there is Christmas and my birthday and gingerbread houses and time with the hubby! So much to look forward to!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Things I Love Thursday!

I have so many things to write about, but my pain level has been insane lately and I have not felt like sitting in front of the computer. But I definitely wanted to write about the things I am loving at the moment and brighten the day a little.

I was browsing Cake's website and found a link to an article on Jason de Caires Taylor, an artist who creates life size sculptures of people and places them underwater off the coast of South America.

There are even more examples on Taylor's web site, including works with crowds of people. It's kind of eerie seeing these frozen figures on the bottom of the ocean, like you are witnessing something that you should not. But his work becomes increasingly beautiful as it becomes part of the underwater environment. Definitely check it out!

I am also loving The Black Keys latest album, Brothers. It's loud and raw and definitely sexy. You can catch a video of them playing live at KCRW that it great. They play a bunch of the songs from their new album and there is a short interview in the middle of the recording. I think that it is available until the end of December.

I just finished reading Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison by Piper Kerman. She served a year in a federal prison for a drug-related crime that she committed ten years beforehand. It was a really interesting story; one of those stories that make you appreciate what you have no matter how small, like not having to wear shower shoes.

I loved the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy by Stieg Larsson and there was a great article in this month's Rolling Stone magazine on the mystery surrounding the author. The same issue included the last interview that John Lennon did before his tragic death. It is another example of why he is one of my favorite musicians. (I could not provide a link to either article because they require a membership to access it - sorry!)

I am so happy that all the holiday cards have been mailed and presents have been wrapped. I wrapped most of the gifts in brown wrapping with beautiful ribbon and bows. But I also found the fabulous gnome wrapping paper at IKEA and used it to wrap the gifts I sent home for my parents, my sister, and my sister's boyfriend.

I am adoring all the wonderful holiday cards Rommel and I are receiving in the mail too! Everyday I find another card with a beautiful family on it, all of which make us smile.

As you can tell by my profile pic, I am into hats lately. I recently picked up this cute number with a bow at Urban Outfitters. I definitely think that it will get a lot of use this winter.

I have been attracted to costume jewelry where living creatures are the subject matter. I found this beetle pendant the other day and I could not resist a five dollar price tag.

Maybe it's the fact that I have a birthday coming up and just want to feel younger, but I am also loving hair bows. They are just so much fun and I can use some of that right now.

And finally, Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly singing Peace On Earth / Little Drummer Boy from Funny or Die.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Things I Love Thursday!

I was inspired to participate in "Things I Love Thursday" by Gala Darling quite a while ago, but one day I just stopped for some reason. It is definitely time to start making my list again!

Of course Gala Darling's website is one of my favorite things. It is a fun and empowering site about style, happiness, and finding adventure in the world.

Another website that I am obsessed with is Etsy, which is a website for people to sell handmade and vintage items. I especially love the geekery section where you can find everything from domino cuff links to tetris soap. I can start browsing the pages and before I know it time has flown by.

For awhile there I was all about t-shirts and yoga pants, but I feel like I am starting to get my groove back and wanting to look fabulous. I have been all about the jewelry this week, especially jewelry that involves owls. I just found a great ring on Etsy that has an owl head and wings made of pewter. I cannot wait to get it in the mail.

I also found this blingy ring at Target for about five bucks. Oh Target, how I love you!

Wrapping and giving gifts! Tomorrow is Rommel's birthday and he is the worst person shop for because he buys himself whatever he wants. When I try to ask him what he wants, he always says "I have you, that's everything I want." So cute, but so frustrating. But I think that I managed to find the perfect gift today. After wrapping his gift, I started on some Christmas presents that I had hidden away. This year I decided to wrap everything in brown paper and then use beautiful ribbon for the bows. I have to say that they look pretty darn good.

I am also loving a computer program called Malware Bytes. My dad suggested it to get rid of the virus that Norton could not pick up took over my laptop. Thank god it worked because I really did not want to be the downfall of a second computer this year.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Busy Weekend

After struggling to get through work on Saturday, I had my mind set on attending our local Christmas parade. We planned on meeting a friend to grab dinner and find a sit somewhere along the parade route. Unfortunately I forgot how crazy it gets and we had to park several blocks away. First mistake - I wore my fake uggs to keep my feet nice and warm, but they are not very good for walking any type of distance. We finally got to the pizzeria and had a bite before the parade actually started, but we were too late to find a place up front. Second mistake - we did not bring any chairs and ended up standing behind several people to see anything. Maybe fifteen minutes into the parade and my feet were in serious pain. I did my little dance hoping from foot to foot, but most people just thought I was moving to the music of the fifteen different marching bands that performed in the parade.

After about an hour I began to pray for the end of the parade, but it just kept going. Our local public television station always broadcasts the parade and they had a little booth that details the parade for the viewers. They definitely took their time, so they had to stall the parade every few floats to prevent a backup. And then it started to get cold and my hands ached just sitting in my pockets. Third mistake - I was not paying attention and dropped my gloves on the walk to the parade. At some point we all decided to start walking back to our cars because I hurt everywhere and my friend's daughter was tired.

Despite all that complaining though, I was glad we went. The small main street covered in twinkling lights was beautiful and would put anyone into the holiday mood. We got to see a helicopter fly by several times with Santa waving out the side of it. Several of the local schools had marching bands that participated and I was amazed that the middle schools were so good. The best part was seeing all the children that participated. A local Korean group had their children in traditional dress and they were all so lovely, especially the really little ones. Plus I was able to spend time with my friend and her little girl, which is always a treat.

Today we decided we would take the dogs for a short walk and stop to have Sunny's nails clipped at the mobile vet clinic because I am way to nervous to do it myself. They were so happy to be out that they completely exhausted themselves pulling us along.

Then we headed to the Art from the Ashes exhibit. They are a non-profit organization that shows the work of local artists to benefit communities and individuals that have been affected by fire. From what I understand, the donations the gallery makes from visitors goes to charities and the artists receive exposure and a chance to sell their work. I know that the last exhibition raised enough money to replace signs in a local wilderness area that was destroyed in the Station fire last summer.

There were more than forty artists participating, each exhibiting several pieces. Many of the artists incorporated burnt remains, such as metal and glass, into their work. One of my favorites was one that used a large forked section of a tree that had been charred. The artist made it into a standing piece with two hanging lamps. Gorgeous. My favorite artist was probably Valery Milovic. Her work has a dark loveliness about it, if that even make any sense.

Obviously I could not take pictures inside the gallery, but I wanted to include something so I took some of the neon art outside the gallery.

We finished the day at the Disney store to pick up a toy for the toy drive we are having at work. Then we hung some Christmas lights outside and brought out the BBQ.

It was a completely exhausting and at times painful weekend, but definitely a good one.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Nope, Not Doing It, Never Again

This morning I took Zooey to the vet to get spayed. I called Rommel as soon as I left and told him that he would be the one taking her to the vet from now on. I have taken other cats to the vet without a problem and the dogs get anxious but behave pretty well. But oh my god, Zooey was absolutely breaking my heart. She just cried and cried and cried. I seriously thought I would break down in tears at one point, but I also knew it was for the best. It was even worse when I picked her up. I could hear her before they even opened the door. The vet tech told me that she had been quite upset since the surgery, but they knew she was not in pain so it must just be stress.

At least she is home now and after a few hours alone in the spare room, she seems to be feeling better. She even wanted to play a little with a ribbon. I am still not taking her back to the vet myself unless it is an emergency. That is now on Rommel's list of responsibilities.

Other than that dramatic experience, the rest of the day was pretty run of the mill. I ran some errands, crossed some more Christmas presents off the list, and even tried to take a nap.

I also finally admitted to myself that I did want to have Sunny, Simba, and Zooey on our holiday cards. They are my children and I like to show them off! So I returned the cards I bought and went online to design some cards. I found a really great template that has six different picture spots that make up a Christmas tree. But having so many spots for pictures meant I needed to fill them up with more than just pictures of our pets, so I began searching for pictures. Pictures of the animals is no problem; I am always taking shots of them. Pictures of Rommel was a little harder. He tends to make the same goofy face in every picture I try to take of him and I definitely do not want to send that mug out to every person we know. I eventually found one of him and Sunny that was pretty cute. Then came the hardest picture to find - me. It's not that I avoid having my picture taken, even though I will admit that I do not really like it. I am just usually the one taking the pictures. After going through almost every photo I have, I finally ended just taking a new picture of myself. The even funnier part is that I actually kind of like it. I am excited to pick them up tomorrow and will post a copy closer to Christmas.

Then a bunch of random warnings and viagra ads began popping up on my computer. I try to be really careful about what I open, but apparently I am never careful enough and this is the second computer I have used this year that has freaked out due to a virus. I guess I should just be happy it was not my work computer this time.

Time to check on Zoe Zoe and then crash. Talk to ya later.