Saturday, January 29, 2011

Rondi's Reviews: 127 Hours

Last night we went to see 127 Hours - a movie based on one man's story of survival. Mandi is relatively easy to please when it comes to movies; while I like to pretend I'm Siskel and Ebert. Here are our thoughts on the sure to watch the trailer first!

Mandi's Review:

Before I give my review of the movie - I should preface this with the fact that I'm not a very strict movie critic. I tend to enjoy movies that keep my awake through them and keep me engaged. Those may seem like pretty low standards, but I fall asleep pretty quickly in movies. However, it doesn't take make for me to think it's decent.

As for this movie - I'd definitely recommend it to others, and I'd even go see it again. It's one of those movies that makes you question what you would do if you were in their shoes, and a movie that makes you (well maybe not YOU, but it definitely made ME) feel anxious most of the way through. I was so tense wondering how he was going to get out of the tight spot (pun intended) he was in. And while it seems like a movie filmed in one spot 90% of the time would be boring, it wasn't the case at all. James Franco (main character) did an incredible job throughout the whole film.

I love movies based on true stories. Something about movies based on reality makes me feel like it's possible that my own life, at some point, could also be extraordinary enough to be a movie. I know that seems really lame, and I think that may be the first time I've ever said (typed) that out loud. But it's true. There's something incredible about watching events that actually unfolded in someone else's life that I find intriguing and incredible. Especially when it's a story like this. A story that shows just how far one man would go to live. It makes me feel like I can, and should, be more extreme in my life.

I still feel a little nervous, uneasy and sick. I love movies that get me emotionally invested in them...but when I'm tense for 2 hours straight, it takes me a little while to shake the feeling and remind myself that I'm feeling that way based on something that's not actually happening. However, this is a pro and a con - because at least the movie was good enough to make me feel emotionally invested.

I'd give it a solid 4.5 stars.

Ronnie's Review:

Let me just cut to the chase, I certainly wouldn't name this "by far one of the best films of the year". With that said, if you're a fan of the inspired by true stories type of a guy or gal, then I would try to catch this one. The premise is pretty simple, guy goes hiking, guy falls, guy gets stuck, guy thinks he's going to die and then we watch him fight to live for 90 minutes. There's literally one actor with a bunch of extras. You get a sense of who the main character is through flashbacks and the first 10 minutes of the movie, but other than that, don't expect to get sucked in by Aron (James Franco). Not to say he didn't do a good job of acting, but I'm also not saying that this would be the toughest role to play (I'm a James Franco fan by the way). Just picture a thirsty man grunting and groaning a lot, got it? Good. You've now seen the movie.

Best part: The bloody scene. I won't say too much, but I can tell you that I thought Mandi was either going to pass out or throw up...I was smiling the entire time.

Worst Part: If you read any other reviews, or have read the book, you know how it ends. To be honest, about half way through, I was just hoping for him to get freed and get on with it, or die, either way, I was good.

Rating (Out of 5 stars): 2.5

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Thankful Thursday - It's good to be home

We can't stress enough how important it is in our own lives to slow down when things seem to be getting "fast" and just think about the little things that we're thankful for. We had 9 other peeps join us last week in expressing their thankfulness and we're hoping that more climb on board today! I have a little "Linky Tools" at the end of this post that you can use to join the party and link up your thankfulness post! Feel free to spread this around to anyone you know that may like to participate.

Mandi's List:

I'm thankful that Ronnie is back from his two trips. Even though he was just gone for 2 days the first trip and 1 the second, I always miss him a little (LAME-O, I know). I enjoy having my partner in crime (not literally crime, please don't report us! Although it would be funny to be able to use that expression literally...maybe we'll become like Bonnie and Clyde). I always realize how much I appreciate having him around when he leaves for a few days. Last night, after he got home, we snuggled up on the coach and watched TV - Life.Is.Good!

I'm thankful for Jezzabel! Jbell is one good guard dog and makes me feel safe while Ronnie's not home. I have to admit - I'm the biggest scaredy cat you'll ever meet. Whenever Ronnie's gone over night, I get really scared that something will happen. It's a totally irrational fear. And even though my rational brain tries to convince my irrational brain that I'm an idiot the whole time that Ronnie's gone - I typically don't feel better unless Jezzabel is close by. I always tell Ronnie that if someone comes into our house with the way Jezzabel gets with strangers, I know I'm screwed because they're just crazy! I'm thankful to have a puppy that is so protective to snuggle with at night while Ronnie's gone.

I'm thankful for feeling good. I read a lot of negative feedback/stories from others who have been on the med (lupron) that I'm on for our IVF cycle. However, I have been on it for over a month now and haven't had any problems. I've had the occasional hot flash here and there and have been a little emotional (I cry at most TV shows now! haha) but other than that, nada. I am so thankful that my body is handling the process well so far, and pray that it continues to do well through the process.

Ronnie's List:

I'm thankful that I have a wife that can hold down the fort and then some while I'm away. Granted, she gets a little spooked from time to time, but that's something we're working through and sooner or later she will be wearing big girl panties 24/7. Other than that, she always does a great job while I'm away whether it's getting a ton of work done, doing stuff around the house or taking JBell on 492 walks. Maybe I should take the hint :)

I'm thankful for my many opportunities in the past week to speak with others in the CF community face-to-face. I had a great time hanging out with the folks up in Stony Brook and I was honored to be able to share some of my life with them and what I've learned over the years. I'm thankful that we didn't get snowed out either as that was always a real possibility.

I'm thankful for my first Vegas experience. Now, that town is WAY TOO smoky for me to make it a common stop, but I do hope to get back there with Mandi someday. When I walked into my hotel room, which may have been the nicest one I had ever stayed in, all I could think was, "Man I wish my wife was here". We're big time people watchers, so I think we would really enjoy each other up in Sin City for a bit.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Mental Break

Yesterday was just what I needed. After a three days of working and traveling across the country, I needed to just unwind. It started with a nice long walk with Jezzabel in the morning. I went from a place (Long Island) with a high of 25 while I was there, to walking my dog at 9 o'clock in the morning with shorts and a t-shirt on. When I got back, my beautiful wife had some coffee ready and I vegged out on the couch for a bit catching up on the U of A game that I had missed on Saturday. I was able to get in all of my treatments today without issue and even got out for another long walk with Jezzabel (we even brought Mandi with us the second time). Yesterday was just a great physical and mental break for me.

Now, anytime that I have days like that, I'm certainly not able to completely disconnect from my normal duties, but I don't feel as pressured to get them done right away. As I sit and type this, I know that I still have e-mails to return, comments to reply to and some loose ends to be tied, but there isn't such a sense of urgency. It's nice to feel that once in a while. I turn right around and leave for another short trip today, but this time it's a much more manageable plane ride to Vegas. Which remind me, if anybody wants to meet up, let me know. I won't have too much free time, but I may be able to sneak in a coffee at some point late Tuesday or early Wednesday.

Point is, sometimes we just need to unplug and recharge. This is especially important when I start to feel a little worn down physically. All of the coughing up blood certainly didn't help last week (proud to report that I haven't coughed up any since Friday) but I think I may be on the mends now. I'm just looking forward to getting through these next few days and taking the weekend to unwind again. I'm looking at a possible hospital stay in mid-February and the hope is that I can maintain my lung function and my overall health until I can get in there. Wish me luck, I'm sure it will all work out :)

Monday, January 24, 2011

Updates from the Couch Potato

I figured I'd give a little update about what crazy things we've been up to.

(Silence. Crickets.)

That's how eventful things have been around here, and it's been AWESOME! This last week has consisted of work, working out and watching TV.

The highlight for me has been our workouts. It's been really nice to be back in the gym consistently, and actually WANT to work out. I've found that the last few weeks I've actually been eager to wrap up my work day so I could go get a workout in. Even better, most days we've done cardio I haven't been eager to be done. I think my new energy for working out is two-fold: 1. It's different. We've been so focused on running for the last several months, and the change of pace (elliptical, stairs, treadmill) has been nice. I find that if I'm sick of working out, if I just switch it up a bit, it becomes fun again. 2. I want to get into great shape before we're pregnant. I (POSSIBLY, with a capital P-O-S-S-I-B-L-Y) only have another month or so before I'm pregnant, and I want to start off the pregnancy in good shape, so I can hopefully remain very active! Sitting on my bum for 10 months sounds like a recipe for boredom and a whole lot of jiggle, so my goal is to work out as hard/much as my doctor thinks is appropriate!

This weekend consisted of a lot more relaxation (for me). Ronnie was in Stony Brook, NY to speak at a CF Education Day (was anyone reading this blog there??) so his weekend was busy, but I just held down the fort. Friday night I had a friend come spend the night (slumber party, what what!) We went to a movie (No Strings Attached - Love Natalie Portman, but it was a little crude for my comfort...the sex scenes were just awkward and the cussing and crude jokes were unnecessary). We then just sat on the couch and talked until we fell asleep. I was really nice to catch up. Saturday was full of more nothingness. We went shopping in the AM - we actually went to hike a mountain near by, but it was so packed that you couldn't get parking, so we decided we'd just shop instead!) The best thing about the shopping trip was that I actually bought something (good for me, bad for the savings account). Typically I just window shop. I'll even go as far as trying something on, but then talk myself out of it by saying something like, "I don't need another pair of black shoes." But I bought a pair of gray Converse, and they're awesome! After the mall, I rode my bike to the gym and got in a solid workout. That was the last of my activity for the day. I sat on the couch from 4pm until the Sunday morning (I even slept there). It is glorious. I watched TV and played Scrabble online (against Ronnie while he was doing his treatments in his hotel room in NY). It felt really nice to just regenerate! Sunday consisted of church, a nap, and then I went and picked up Ronnie. Let me tell you - I sure missed him. Isn't that stupid? He was gone for only 2 days and I missed him! I was so excited on my way to the airport to pick him up. We headed for a nice little happy hour (because Ronnie only eats out when the food is 1/2 price) and came home to (you can guess it) watch more TV. I think the couch may have a permanent butt indent after this weekend.

It was an uneventful, relaxing weekend (for me...I think Ronnie's pretty wiped). One of those weekends you wish would happen more often! Leave us a little comment and let us know how your weekend went. Did you have a lazy weekend like mine? Or a busy one like Ronnie's? Did anyone get snowed in? (I kind of felt like I was, since I acted as if I couldn't leave the house!) Need help having a lazy weekend? I found this while searching for a picture for this blog. Really? There's an article about this?

PS - A quick IVF update: I start my stimulant med on Sunday (1/30) and will be on it for 8-12 days. Then it's time for Ronnie's biopsy, my egg retrieval and 5 days later, embryo transfer. Everything is moving along very smoothly and we'll post another update next week. Please keep the process in your prayers!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Daycare or No Daycare?

I wanted to share this blog with all of you from Jen over at She does a great job explaining her position on a much talked about issue that face CF families. Without further ado...

Why We Don’t Do Daycare (at other people’s houses)

** Before I even start, please remember that this is my blog, my opinions, my life choices…you may not agree with me all of the time (or ever!) but this is why we choose to keep Gavin home and not put him into a daycare. You may have a different opinion, and that’s all good, but like I said…this is my territory :)

So here we go, in no particular order…

First, we live in the frozen tundra.

If you were to look outside this morning, you too wouldn’t want to leave the house. We had gotten more snow overnight, and the wind was blowing like crazy…not exactly a comfortable atmosphere to hang out in. As much as we like to be outside year round, Mother Nature keeps us inside the majority of the winter season (winter here is often 5 months long) which means that our gross, sickly winter germs are contained in our homes/offices etc, making it much easier to get sick. And honestly, if you don’t live in a state where you have difficult winters? You just don’t get it…not trying to sound rude, but it’s the truth.

As much as I clean & sanitize, I can’t clean everything or everyone so obviously we’re going to get sick…but kids are walking Petri dishes, they pick their noses and immediately walk up to you and give you a high five. Yes, Gavin still gets tons of interaction with other kids. Our neighbors come over and play, we head to the mall play area, local indoor playgrounds, the grocery store play room, the jump house etc (and no I don’t walk around with hand sanitizer he plays just like any other kid)…but if I know that there is a major virus moving around town? We stick around the house.

Yes, I am opening a small daycare in our house. But that’s just it, it will be in my house. I know that when I say I clean I actually clean. I am constantly washing blankets/sheets/pillows and even his stuffed animals. I don’t have potted plants around the house (except for two very small ones in our kitchen window). I go through many of his toys once/twice a weak and wipe them down with disinfectant. I am in control of what illnesses/sicknesses I allow kids to have when they come into our house (minor colds/tummy aches etc are a-ok) and I have the control in sending kiddos home. I am able to be with Gavin through any extra treatment sessions he needs when he does get sick. To me there is a big difference in allowing your kids to be around some germs to build up an immune system, and sticking your child in a germ-filled daycare at 6 weeks of age.

I am at the age where nearly half (if not more) of my friends have toddlers/babies, and almost all of those kids are enrolled in daycare. I cannot even count how often those kids seem to be sick, and CF or no CF, that’s just not something I am willing to deal with. I also cannot count how many parents have talked with me, or visited our home, and discussed how disgusting some of the local daycares are, yech! In general, most home daycares are not clean enough to mystandards. And many friends have told me that they wish they could afford to stay home (ahem, you probably can if you aren’t a single parent making the only income, you just have to make a 180 change to your current lifestyle, but more about that later) whether their child has CF, another disease, or is completely “healthy.”

And honestly, after 2 or 3 kids many people need to step back and see if they are even coming out “ahead.” If you realize that after the cost of daycare you are barely making more money than if you stayed at home, then stay home! (if this doesn’t affect your health care). Your children are young ONCE, and if its the difference of a couple thousand dollars a year…skip that vacation, go out to eat monthly instead of weekly, stay away from the shopping mall, etc and enjoy your kids! They will never look back on their childhood and wish that you had spent more time at work.

Our CF team also informed us that keeping a child out of daycare, and healthier for the first three years of life (if that is possible for a family) has proven that the kids often “do better" health wise for longer, obviously this is not true for every child but it really does make sense to me. This is not saying that children who are placed in daycare will not do well, it is just saying that statistically, those that aren’t tend to be sick less & hospitalized less.

Secondly, is the fact that children learn more in their first two years of life than they will in their entire lifetime.

Gavin is about three weeks away from turning two and he can:

  • recognize nearly 1/2 of the letters in the alphabet
  • count to ten (and sometimes beyond) like it’s nobody’s business
  • speak rather “fluently” – I have had several people tell me that they didn’t believe he could actually speak as well I say he can, until they saw it in person
  • knows all of his colors and shapes
  • has an insane memory for his age
  • is extremely polite, he is constantly saying please, thank you and you’re welcome without being prompted to do so (if he doesn’t say please, he doesn’t get it!)

I 100% believe that he has achieved all of this so early because of the one-on-one attention he has received from day one. And not just from me, but from the family members/friends he is surrounded by. We read books for hours (seriously) every day, he has discovered that all of those letters at the bottom of the page make up the words to the story I am reading. We rarely watch crazy tv shows for kids, if we have the tv on we stick to PBS. Shows like “Super Why” and “Sesame Street” have gotten Gavin extremely excited about learning and he thinks he’s pretty cool when he answers questions that are far beyond his (almost) two years. All of this has made me realize that once I get this small daycare of mine up and running, that we will spend a major chunk of our day “learning” and not plopping them in front of the tv/just letting them run crazy because I’m worn out. Embedding as much new knowledge as possible into their little minds while they still think “school is cool” and aren’t yet complaining about that daily routine :)

Thirdly, we are willing to make sacrifices.

Sometimes pretty big sacrifices.

One income family means: no vacations, extremely rare fancy dinners/dates out on the town, never buying items that aren’t on sale, making what you have work rather than running out and buying new, making that dollar stretch as far as possible…and being ok with living that way. To us, being able to personally witness each of Gavin’s early accomplishments was far more important than having the nicest house, the most toys…the fancier lifestyle. Sure, having a large house would be nice…but we’re ok with being cozy. Sure, a vacation away from the snow would be nice…but for now we better enjoy snowshoeing and skiing, because the beach isn’t happening anytime soon.

I have also been doing tons of research on couponing. I do not plan on become a crazy coupon lady, but I have spent several days on different websites reading about other SAHM (stay at home mom) techniques. The biggest mind changer for me? Hearing a lady simply say, “A coupon is freemoney.” And I am not just talking about grocery store coupons. But also coupons for restaurants, theme parks, weekend adventures etc. Saving money, buying second hand, and recreating new items from old ones, are just some of the reasons we can “afford” for me to stay home during the day. On a different day I’ll share some of my newly learned “tips.”

In all, our choice to keep Gavin out of daycare goes far beyond him having CF and goes beyond any other “health reasons.” No, we are not the crazy parents walking around with hand sanitizer and pulling him away from every child that has a runny nose…if anything we’re too relaxed about his “interactions” with germs. Yes, Gavin’s CF made our final decision that much clearer. Yes, I choose to say that Gavin “cannot” be in daycare, because in my opinion? In order for him to continue to succeed (and again, not just talking about his health) at the rate he has? Daycare at someone else’s house

Lastly, until you have children of your own you have absolutely no right in judging another parents decision to place their child in daycare or to keep them home. Sure, you can have an opinion, but trust me…it’s better to keep it to yourself until you also have your own :) It is very easy to have “all the answers” of parenthood, until you hold that baby of your own for the first time.