Tuesday, August 31, 2010

School Days

Today is a bittersweet day for me.  Craig started back to school yesterday, and Jamie went back today...and the house was sooo quiet!  The photo is from the first day of school when Craig started kindergarten and Jamie started 4th grade...now they've just started 7th and 11th grades!!  Where have the years gone?

I thoroughly enjoyed the quiet solitude today.  I've been a bit crashed the past two days, and it's a huge relief to be able to just take care of myself during the day.  I've also barely done any writing work at all this summer - my energy has been used up with all the daily running around.  The thing is, it's rarely just my two kids here during the summer; there is usually a crowd of boys here - needing rides, making noise, and always hungry!!  So, back to school week is like a fresh start for me - I've been e-mailing editors, sorting through old mail I should have answered months ago, and even (can it be true?) beginning to finally clear off my seriously cluttered desk.  Plus, I can lie on the couch anytime I need to!

The other side of the start of the school year, however, is stress and hectic schedules and worry.  Craig is pretty easy.  His CFS is well-controlled by medication so that he is symptom-free most of the time, with only an occasional crash.  He usually misses only 12-15 days of school a year (last year was a big one for him, with 19 days' absent).

Jamie is another story.  Even on a good year, he struggles every day with having enough energy to manage school and homework.  He rarely has extra energy for fun and friends when he's in school.  He often comes home at 3 pm completely wiped out, he lies on the couch to watch TV, and struggles to get his homework finished after dinner, knowing he needs to get to bed before 8:30 pm so he can manage to get up in time for school the next morning.  Some days, he feels OK and is able to enjoy some time with friends.  Some days, he's so badly crashed that he can't go to school at all.  He loves school - the classes and the social scene.

In addition, Ken and I both miss the relaxed evenings of summer.  During the school year, there's homework, soccer practice, and early bedtimes to worry about, plus the pressure to get dinner ready early.  No more movies in the evening!

This year is likely to be quite a bit worse than the previous few for Jamie.  He started his treatments for Lyme disease and two co-infections n July, and he's feeling the effects (Lyme treatment usually makes the patient feel worse at first).  His energy and stamina have been very low lately.  During the summer, he can just self-regulate, going all out with his friends one day, then lying on the couch and resting the next.  We're very worried about how he's going to handle school this year...and that's a whole new area of worry.  We have to meet with Jamie's guidance counselor and teachers to educate them about CFS and revise his 504 plan.  And meet with a team at Craig's school to consider (again) whether he meets the criteria necessary to get a 504 plan.  Tonight, there's a mandatory parent's meeting at the high school.  Oh, and did I mention having to get up at 7 am every day?

So, I love the start of school and I hate the start of school.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Movie Monday 8/30

Ah, Monday!  We had a nice weekend, but I'm expecting an even nicer week.  Craig went back to school this morning, and Jamie heads back tomorrow.  I love my kids, and we had a great summer, but I'm exhausted from the constant activity!  And last week was one of the worst - not only the usual barrage of kids at the house, sleepovers, nonstop laundry, and noise and chaos, but we had a last-week-of-summer flurry of extra stuff, too.

I was pleasantly surprised to wake up on Saturday feeling pretty good, so I did have a nice weekend.  I managed to clear off several kitchen counters which greatly improved my mental state.  Only problem was that I did some weeding yesterday that was obviously too much for me - it's so hard to stop after just 20 minutes when the yard is filled with weeds!  So, I crashed a bit today but am feeling much better after my nap.

So, we had a good movie week:
  • When Craig slept over a friend's house, Ken, Jamie, and I watched Mission Impossible II.  Much like MI, it was filled with action and excitement.  I could do with fewer fight scenes and car chases, but Ken and Jamie enjoyed it very much and especially liked the cool motorcycle chase scene.
  • The next night, with Craig wiped out from his sleepover, we all watched Close Encounters of the Third Kind, one of the best movies of all time!  Our kids hadn't seen it in many years and didn't remember most of it, so we all really enjoyed it.  It's especially cool since we've been to Devil's Tower in Wyoming.
  • I coughed up some late fees at the library so that Ken and I could finally watch Up In The Air, the George Clooney hit of last year.  It was just as good as everyone says, about a frequent traveler who fires people for a living and has some major commitment issues.  At first I thought it would be predictable, but the ending surprised me. 
  • Another evening when Craig was at a friend's house, the three of us watched State of Play, a political thriller starring Ben Affleck and a long-haired Russell Crowe.  Affleck is a rising star senator whose assistant is murdered, and Crowe is his old college roommate and friend who is also a reporter trying to track down the story behind her death.  Lots of twists and turns and suspense - we all liked it.
  • Believe it or not, Jamie and I watched In Her Shoes this morning, he trying to make the best of his last lazy day of summer (he loves to watch the morning movie on FX channel since he's often run-down in the morning) and me because I was crashed pretty badly.  Though it's considered something of a chick flick, Jamie really liked it - he's going to make someone a good husband someday!  This is one of those rare occurrences where I actually liked the movie better than the book.
Have you seen any good movies lately?

P.S. If you're interested in what our family is reading this week, check out What Are You Reading Monday, a weekly feature on my book blog.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Quote It Saturday 8/28

 Thank goodness it's finally the weekend!  This week was unbelievably hectic and exhausting, with an overstuffed schedule of doctor's appointments, haircuts, errands, blood tests, plus lots and lots of running the kids here and there and starting to teach Jamie to drive!  It was our last week of summer vacation for the kids, but I had to get up at 7 am three days in a row.  It will be so quiet and relaxing when school starts next week.

So, by late Friday afternoon, when I felt completely exhausted and overwhelmed, I was reminded of this quote:

"By the time we arrived, as evening was approaching, I felt as sore as a rock must feel when the waterfall has pounded on it all day long"
          - Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Goldman

Isn't that a perfect CFS quote??  It's also another example of the beautiful and metaphorical language in Memoirs of a Geisha which I recently read and thoroughly enjoyed (you can read my mini review on Goodreads).

Hope you're having a nice and relaxing weekend!

Friday, August 27, 2010

New Lyme Article

Jody Smith has posted an excellent new article on Lyme disease on the website EmpowHER.  Of course, I may be a little bit biased since Jody interviewed me for the article!    But it really is a good article - very in-depth yet written in an easy-to-understand style - perfect for helping family and friends to understand the seriousness of Lyme disease and its co-infections.  Jody is a fellow CFS sufferer and an excellent writer who frequently contributes to EmpowHER.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Top Chronic Illness Blog Award

Medical Assistant Schools
Presented by: Medical Assistant Schools

When I returned from our Catskills trip this week, I had a pleasant surprise waiting in my e-mail inbox - a notice that my blog is one of the Top 35 Chronic Illness Blogs, according to a recent survey by Medical Assistant Schools! 

They told me the winners were chosen based on votes by blog readers, so this post is really for all of you...THANK YOU!!! 

I really appreciate your support and acknowledgment.  I feel like I get at least as much back from this blog as I put into it.

Check out the full list of winners - I noticed quite a few favorite CFS blogs among the top 35 - congratulations to all!  (I would include links right here, but I'm just too wiped out - the link above takes you to the full list of 35 winners with links to each one.)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Detailed Explanation of the New Retroviral-CFS Study

The CFIDS Association's Kimberly McClearly has posted an excellent, detailed explanation of the new retrovirus-CFS study that was published yesterday.  McClearly describes the study's methods and results in easy-to-understand terms. 

I took Craig in for his well visit this morning and was very pleased when his pediatrician said, "Did you read the news yesterday about Murine-Leukemia Viruses and CFS?"  Awesome that she had already heard about it (she also asked how I am doing this week - she's amazing!).  I gave her a printout of the Wall Street Journal's article from yesterday, and we discussed the implications briefly.  Exciting news!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

CFS-Retrovirus Link Confirmed!

I'm sure by now most of you have heard the big news...the FDA/NIH study confirming the presence of a retrovirus in CFS patients has finally been published!!

Although the study did not find XMRV specifically in the CFS patients tested, it did find similar retroviruses in the same class as XMRV, known as MLV-related viruses (Murine Leukemia Viruses) in 32 of 37 CFS patients tested and also in 3 of the 44 healthy controls tested. 

As mentioned here before, any of these retroviruses might be able to be treated by existing anti-retroviral drugs, such as those used to treat HIV, so we don't have to wait for new medications to be developed and approved.  The Whittemore-Peterson Institute expects to begin testing some of these existing anti-retroviral drugs on CFS patients by the end of this year!

This news is so big that it's being reported by all the major news outlets, so this also means excellent publicity about CFS.  Check out some of these articles and share them with your friends and family:
How's that for an all-star line-up of publications?  And that's just the beginning.  This study is putting CFS in the limelight...and it's about time!

(a HUGE thank you to Denise for compiling all these links for me!!)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Movie Monday 8/23

Happy Monday!  We didn't have much time for movies last week, with Jamie's birthday and preparation for a weekend camping trip in the Catskills with my extended family.  The weekend was nice, until we got socked in with pouring rain Sunday, then got stuck in traffic on the way home, turning our 5-hour drive into a 9-hour drive!!

Back home today - spent the day doing muddy laundry and cleaning up the filthy camper - yesterday was messy!  Our A/C is out AGAIN - 6th time this summer - but fortunately, the temperature has finally fallen a bit in Delaware, with highs this week in the 80's instead of the 90's, thank goodness!  It should be fixed tomorrow (though they said they'll be here between 1 and 3 pm, prime nap time).

So, last week, we really only watched one movie:
  • Jamie and I watched Mission, Impossible with Tom Cruise while Ken golfed and Craig slept over at a friend's house.  Jamie'd never seen any of the MI movies, so he really enjoyed the action and suspense.
  • We're watching another movie right now (I'm blogging during the commercials!) that the kids found on AMC, a classic - Ferris Bueller's Day Off.  Jamie and I watched it on a sick day last year, but Craig has never seen it.  We're all enjoying it - so funny!
Have you seen any good movies lately?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Great News on XMRV!

Finally!  The long-awaited, withheld XMRV study from the FDA will be published soon!  Here's an excellent summary from the blog of Cort Johnson of Phoenix Rising.

A few key points:
  • The FDA study does indeed replicate the positive results of the original XMRV study, showing XMRV in the blood of CFS patients.
  • Andrea Whittemore, daughter of the founders of the Whittemore-Peterson Institute, is already "significantly improved" on treatments for XMRV.
  • Another paper due out at the end of the year will show that XMRV causes immune system abnormalities.
  • Several drugs have already been shown to be effective against XMRV in the laboratory.
  • Pharmaceutical companies that halted their work based on earlier negative studies have resumed work on medications to treat XMRV, including many that are already on the market.
  • Treatment trials with real patients should begin soon at WPI.
How exciting!!!  Check out this interview with Annette Whittemore and her daughter Andrea (it's the August 16 episode).  The Whittemore-Peterson Institute has its grand opening this week.  It looks like things are finally moving forward for CFS research - hurray!!

Local CFS Picnic a Huge Success!

In two previous posts this spring and summer (Birds of a Feather and CFS Moms Lunch), I told you about how wonderful it's been to meet a bunch of local Moms whose kids/teens all have CFS, OI, and/or Lyme.  Well, last evening, one of the moms hosted a backyard picnic for all of our families, and it was so much fun!

There were four of us Moms who'd met previously, plus all of our kids (sick and healthy), two husbands, and two new families - nineteen people all together, all of us linked through our common experiences with CFS and related illnesses.  One mom and daughter drove three hours for the picnic!  They haven't found any other teens with CFS locally, have had some terrible experiences with doctors, and were desperate to find someone who understood.  The parents all talked non-stop - we had so much in common!  Best of all, the teens all got along great and had a blast together.

Several of the teens have been living an isolated life, homebound for years and cut off from their old friends and classmates.  They were right there with the rest of the group, talking and joking, playing games, and even playing out in the yard.  One Mom watched her two sons play Frisbee with the other kids and said she was on top of the world!  I'm sure some of those kids are hurting today (as Jamie and I are), but hopefully, the joy and companionship were worth it.  As we got in the car to leave (at 10 pm!), Jamie and Craig shouted, "That was so much fun!  We have to do this again!"

What an experience for these teens who normally either live in isolation or struggle to get by and appear normal among their healthy peers, to be in a group of friends who instantly and intimately understand what they're going through.  I don't think the kids talked much about their illnesses - they seemed to just enjoy being together and making new friends.

Ken and I were both completely wired when we got home and tried to go to bed.  We'd enjoyed hours of stimulating conversation with parents just like us.  All in all, it was a wonderful evening.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Movie Monday 8/16

Yes, it is Movie Monday, but more importantly....it's Jamie's 16th birthday!!!  Sixteen years ago today, I was lying in the hospital shivering uncontrollably after a c-section preceded by 26 hours of labor!  Good times...ha ha

Seriously, I have 16 years of wonderful memories.  Jamie is a joy - sweet, caring, funny, and lots of fun to be around.  I just can't believe how quickly the time has gone by.

Now, onto the movies!  We made up for lost time this week and watched a LOT of movies...
  • First, I forgot one last week...we watched Enchanted with the kids and all enjoyed it very much.  It starts out as a sort of parody of every Disney animated movie, with a handsome prince, a beautiful girl he falls in love with, and the evil stepmother Queen who wants to keep them apart.  The Queen banishes the girl to the real world - she pops out of a manhole in Manhattan! - and the other characters follow.  At that point, the movie switches to live-action.  It's all very clever and lots of fun.  Patrick Dempsey stars as the very practical single Dad who helps the princess-to-be.
  • While Ken was out of town, the boys and I watched The Terminal, an excellent Tom Hanks movie about a foreigner who gets caught in a customs catch-22 and ends up living at the JFK airport.  Ken and I has seen it when it first came out in the theater.  The boys loved it.  It's fun sharing some old favorites with them now that they're older.
  • We also watched Monsters vs. Aliens, a cute animated movie featuring the voice of Reese Witherspoon as a young woman who gets turned into a giant and ends up battling aliens to try to save the earth.  It was actually better than I expected.
  • With Ken away, I indulged in a girly movie (aka chick flick), Made of Honor, again starring Patrick Dempsey (are you seeing a theme here?).  It was a sweet and funny romantic comedy, fairly predictable but enjoyable.  A fun bit of fluff!
  • Friday night during Jamie's party, Ken and I watched Dreamland, an independent film that won awards at Sundance and other film festivals.  It's the story of an 18-year old girl caught in a web of obligations, to her grief-stricken father who hasn't left their trailer in two years and to her best friend who has MS.  They all live in a trailer park in the New Mexican desert called Dreamland (which, as you can imagine, is anything but). It's a unique story with excellent acting, and we both enjoyed it very much.
  • Saturday night, Ken and I watched The Painted Veil, starring Naomi Watts and Ed Norton.  It's set in the 1920's when the two meet and get married rather quickly and then depart for China where he, a British virologist, is assigned.  Bored and disillusioned, his wife has an affair.  As punishment, he forces her to accompany him deep into the Chinese countryside to a small town experiencing a cholera outbreak.  The experience changes them and their relationship.  I have long heard great things about this book, and the movie was excellent.
  • We watched The Pacifier starring Vin Diesel with the kids, during our post-party recovery weekend.  They had seen it a long time ago at a friend's house.  It's about a Navy Seal assigned to protect a family of 5 kids while their mother is away.  I was expecting a lot of silly slapstick featuring kids hitting his crotch repeatedly, but I was pleasantly surprised.  It's actually a pretty good movie, with more depth than I expected and a lot of heart.  We all enjoyed it.
  • Finally, we watched Marley and Me with the kids last night. Another pleasant surprise!  Based on a true story, it's a very sweet story starring Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson as a couple with an unruly but lovable dog.  The movie follows them through new jobs, moves, and children.  It's funny but also moving and sometimes sad.  Overall, a very good movie.
Whew!  I told you we watched a lot of movies!  That's the fun of summer, with no homework or soccer practice or school events in the evenings.

Have you seen any good movies lately?

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Quote It Saturday 8/14

Happy Saturday!  Ken's home, the party is over, and we have a weekend ahead of us with nothing scheduled - ahhhh!  And Jamie is even feeling OK this morning after being up late running around with his friends.

I just finished a remarkable book this week for my library's book discussion (which, by the way, was the highlight of my week!).  I'm probably the last person on earth who hadn't read it yet: Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden.  Despite all the amazing reviews and recommendations I'd heard, I just didn't think it sounded interesting.  Boy, was I wrong!

Golden is a very talented writer, and the book pulled me in from the very first pages and had me rooting for its main character, a young Japanese girl.  It's one of those books that completely transports you to a different time and place.  Besides the in-depth characters, fascinating plot and setting, and thought-provoking issues, the book is also beautifully written.  I tabbed a bunch of favorite quotes.  Here's one where the main character is musing about the changes in her life over which she had no control:

...and, of course, I couldn't stop thinking of the other life I'd once led.  Grief is a most peculiar thing; we're so helpless in the face of it.  It's like a window that will simply open of its own accord.  The room grows cold, and we can do nothing but shiver.  But it opens a little less each time, and a little less; and one day we wonder what has become of it.
          - Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
Besides being beautiful prose, this quote really hit me.  I feel much the same way about my own grief over the life I once led before CFS.  In the early days of my illness, that grief was overwhelming, but over the years it has faded.  I sometimes still feel a pang of regret that I can't exercise or have a beer with my husband or do all the things I want to do, but the hard, painful grief has lessened its grip over the years, as I've become more accustomed to my new life.  It is what it is.  This is my life now.

What do you think?  Has it been the same for you?  Or are you still shivering in the cold?

Enjoy the weekend!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Living on the Edge

...on the edge of a crash, that is.  All this week, I've been feeling run-down and so-so but not horribly crashed - you know, sort of that in-limbo feeling?  And I know I've been pushing myself too much each day which only prolongs the feeling.  I go to bed each night totally wiped out and wake up each morning feeling OK but not great.

This summer has been so busy around here - running errands, driving the kids places, hosting their friends at our house (which always means more work for me preparing meals and doing dishes).  Actually, the kids have been helping.  They've been doing their own laundry all summer, unloading the dishwasher, and I've even trained them to rinse their own dishes and put them in the dishwasher (but if anyone knows how to train kids and teens not to leave dirty dishes all over the rest of the house, I'd like to hear about it!)

I'm just tired, worn out, draggin', wiped out.  You get the picture.  Most likely, some of this is still a herx reaction from restarting my Lyme treatment last month.  The knee pain and severe aches have subsided, but I'm sure the herx reaction is exacerbating all of my CFS symptoms.  I know I'm also staying up too late most nights.  It's hard not to during the summer because the kids are staying up later, too.

Ken is finally home from his week-long trip to Texas - I missed him!  Tonight is Jamie's 16th birthday party, so it won't be a quiet evening!  We'll have 9 teens here for pizza, games, and water balloons.  It won't be too bad for me, though.  It's great how at this age they really take care of everything themselves - Jamie sent out invitations on Facebook and planned the party himself.  Not like the old days when it was so much work coordinating their birthday parties! 

Of course, we kind of went overboard in the party department.  We had some pretty amazing birthday parties here.  Here are a couple of pictures, for old time's sake!  Jamie had a Harry Potter party for his 11th birthday - the party to end all parties.  That's my mom and her husband as Hagrid and Professor Trelawney.  Ken was Dumbledore, I was Professor McGonnagall, and two friends were Professor Snape and Madam Hooch.  We turned our entire house into Hogwarts, took a dozen kids to Diagon Alley (the basement) for hats and wands, held four classes including Potions, and played Quidditch in the yard.

The other photo is from Craig's pirate party for his 8th birthday, complete with treasure hunt, loot, and a pinata.  As you can see, the adults enjoyed getting into our roles!  Those were fun times, but this is so much easier, sitting in the family room while the kids throw water balloons at each other outside (I took a few pictures, then ran away!)

Time for pizza.  Hope you all have a great weekend!

Monday, August 09, 2010

Movie Monday 8/9

Sooooo glad it's Monday - the house is (relatively) quiet, the boys and I are alone, and there is nothing at all scheduled this week - not even a doctor's appointment. 

We had one more mishap last week - Craig got stung by yellowjackets on Friday.  This is not usually a big deal for him (he's not allergic like Jamie is), but two of the stings were near his eye and on his ear, and those swelled up HUGE!  Check out this gruesome picture.  By Saturday morning, his eye and ear were horribly swollen  - just exactly as Jamie's eye was two weeks ago when he got stung in the same spot!  So, we were back at the doctor's office.  She put Craig on steroids and antibiotics - she said you have to be extra cautious so close to the eye (and the brain).

The rest of the weekend was nice.  We enjoyed having my Dad and his wife here, but by Sunday evening I was totally wiped out!  I think the miniature golf yesterday and also making dinner were just too much time on my feet.  They left this morning and so did Ken for a business trip to Texas.  I have a quiet, easy, restful week planned.

So, we didn't have much time for movies last week:
  • With my Dad and his wife and the kids, we watched Beneath the Planet of the Apes, sequel to the 70's classic.  I'm not sure I ever saw the sequel when it first came out. Of course, nothing can compare with the first one, but this was pretty good.  Everyone seemed to enjoy it, and Jamie wants to see the rest of the sequels (there were quite a few!)  We also haven't seen the more recent remake.
  • That was the only movie we watched, but Ken and I watched some more Mad Men episodes from Season 1 on DVD and also started in on the first season of The Mentalist.  This is one of my mom's favorite TV shows, and I can see why!  We had watched an episode or two before but didn't know any of the backstory or who the characters were.  The pilot was excellent, and now we understand it better.  Its a crime show but with a great sense of humor.  I'm sure we'll watch more.  Thanks, Mom!
I need to make a run to the library and pick up a few good girly movies for myself this week, with Ken gone.  Any suggestions?

Have you seen any good movies lately?

Friday, August 06, 2010


Better day today - feeling OK, boys and I got groceries, got an estimate on a new blower motor for the A/C/furnace that is half what the first one was - all good.

I realized I told you all about what went wrong this week but left out the most important thing yesterday - what we have to be grateful for.

Often, I'm the one in our house trying to look on the bright side of things, reminding everyone that we have a lot to be grateful for, but this week, it was Ken.  By Tuesday night - after spending much of the day at the eye hospital and dragging my exhausted body to the Apple store to hear the grim news on my computer, I was feeling pretty low and overwhelmed. 

We were driving back from the mall when Ken said to me, "We have a lot to be grateful for, you know." (that's usually my line!)  He reminded me how blessed we were to have such a good eye doctor who was able to find and repair such a small and hard-to-reach retinal tear, to be so close to such a highly ranked eye hospital, and to have the health insurance to cover such medical expenses.  Ken was feeling particularly grateful that his eyesight wasn't permanently affected, as he considered what it would be like to lose his sight.

And, of course, less important but still relevant, I was fortunate that my wonderful husband had already bought me a gorgeous new laptop to replace my "vintage" one, even if my timing on the data transfer was less than perfect!

I just wanted to end the week on a high note, and pass along this reminder to the rest of you.  No matter how bad things are or how many things go wrong, there are always people far worse off.  I have a lot to be grateful for, including a husband who reminds me to count my blessings.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 05, 2010

The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Week

(with thanks to author Judith Viorst)

To give you an idea of what my week has been like, today was the most relaxing day I've had so far and I spent it driving back and forth along the New Jersey Turnpike, visiting the Lyme doctor, and going to Target.  Seriously, it was a nice break!

I won't bore you with all the details, but here's a brief recap:
  • Dishwasher broke.
  • Air conditioning broke - AGAIN - for the 5th time in 3 weeks.
  • I took Ken for his follow-up eye appointment, and the doctor did find a new retinal tear in his eye that the residents on call missed last week.  So, Ken needed another laser surgery, and we spent most of a day at the Eye Institute in Philly - scary and exhausting.
  • While in the waiting room at the eye hospital, Craig called to tell me my laptop, "had a funny, burning smell and then went black."  Not good, right?  Nope.  Turned out the CPU burned out.  It's gone, kaput.  We made another trip to the Apple store, and they think the hard drive might be OK, but they won't work on it since it's "vintage!"  Yup, 7 years old is vintage.  You may recall I have a brand-new laptop, but I hadn't transferred the data from the old one yet because I was waiting for a special cable to arrive in the mail.  It did - the same day the old computer fried!
So, I've not only been busy and stressed but have had limited access to computers, so no time at all for either reading or writing blogs.  We still need to remove the old hard drive and try to get some data off it - just what we needed, another project!  I have made some progress with the new laptop, though (this is its maiden blog post!)

Jamie and I are both herxing (i.e. symptoms worsening) now from our Lyme treatments, but we're managing OK.  We had a good visit with the doctor today.

Tomorrow my Dad and his wife come to visit for the weekend.  I guess I'll have to finally get to the grocery store, huh?  They're very easy-going guests, though, so that's good.

So, I just wanted to explain my absence.  Hopefully, things will return to normal next week - whatever normal is!!

Monday, August 02, 2010

Movie Monday 8/2

Whew, what a weekend! As you know, Ken and I enjoyed a nice, relaxing week alone together while the kids enjoyed their time with my mom and her husband, but things really went downhill starting Thursday night!

Since it's relevant to movies, I'll give you a quick recap.  On Thursday, after dinner, we decided to splurge on a Redbox rental (ooh, aren't we wild and crazy?), so we drove to the local pharmacy that has a Redbox kiosk - if you haven't seen these yet, you have to try them!  We were walking back to the car, with a prescription (there's always one ready to be picked up, it seems), some ice cream, and a DVD, when Ken suddenly stopped cold and said, "uh-oh."  Some of his eye symptoms had returned, the ones associated with the torn retina he had at Christmas-time.  He was seeing big floaters in that same eye, so bad that he thought a balloon string was hanging in front of his face!  We rushed back to the house and called the on-call eye doctor who told us to come over immediately.  So we stuck the ice cream in the freezer and drove the hour-long drive up to Philadelphia.  Ken spent the next 2 hours being poked in the eyes and examined by two different on-call residents.  They finally concluded there was no new tear, but they couldn't explain why these symptoms had suddenly begun again.  I had to drive home, since his eyes were dilated, and I was so sick by the time we got home at 11 pm, I could barely manage to speak (sorry I was so cranky, honey!).  We're going back up tomorrow morning for a follow-up with his regular eye doctor.

Saturday was spent in bumber-to-bumper beach traffic on the NJ Turnpike while we drove up and back to pick up the kids.  And yesterday, our dishwasher sounded like it was going to explode - of course, no repairman is available until Wednesday.  The air conditioner repairman has been at our house 4 times in the past two weeks, so we're thankful that's at least functioning again!

Ok, enough whining (or whinging as my UK friends say, right?) - you came to hear about movies, right?  We saw some good ones this weekend
  • The one we rented Thursday and finally got to watch on Friday was Unthinkable.  The title says it all, and this is not a movie for the faint of heart.  A terrorist, a US citizen, announces he has planted 3 bombs - nuclear bombs - in 3 American cities, and they will go off if his demands are not met.  He is captured fairly quickly, but won't say where the bombs are, so a specialist is brought in, basically a top-secret torture specialist played by Samuel L. Jackson.  The agent in charge of the investigation is appalled, but the military have taken over.  You may think you have a clear stand on torture when you start this movie (I certainly did), but it brings out many impossible-to-answer nuanced questions that the characters in the movie often flip-flopped on.  How far is too far to go when millions of lives are at stake?  The twists and turns are unpredictable and often appalling.  It is a very violent, disturbing movie, but these are issues that are really important to consider.
  • Since the kids were away, and it was still early, Ken and I decided we needed to watch something lighter before attempting to go to sleep that night, so we next watched (500) Days of Summer, a much lighter romantic comedy with a bit of  a twist.  It was a welcome bit of escapism, populated with adorable main characters played by Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, showing the beginning and demise of their relationship.  Very entertaining - thanks, Lori, for the recommendation!
  • Sunday night, since the kids were pretty wiped out from their week, we watched an early movie with them, Dead Poet's Society, something of a classic by now but new to them.  I'd forgotten how sad part of the movie is, but it's also heartwarming and inspiring, too.  For once, the kids didn't tease me about crying during a movie. We all agreed we'd love to have Robin Williams' character as a teacher!
  • During the week, Ken and I have been watching Season 1 of Mad Men on DVD.  It's sort of growing on us, though we still have trouble relating to any of the characters.  The men all lie, cheat, and treat women like morons; the women are either mean and nasty or act like morons.  I think we're staying with it just to root for Peggy (and maybe Helen), though it is also very well-done.  Ken laughs at how the men spend their days at the office sitting with their feet on their desks, smoking cigarettes and drinking whiskey and occasionally attending 5-minute long meetings - if only!
Have you seen any good movies lately?