Someone stole my Disney magnets!

When I went back to work on January 2nd I was excited to get back to my routine, but I was also a little bit nervous. I wasn’t sure how my body was going to handle the increased activity, even just working part-time. Fortunately my four hours went smoothly that day (I even remembered my computer password) and I left that afternoon feeling pretty good. On my way home I had to swing by the pharmacy to pick up some prescriptions (I take so many now). As walked out of CVS I noticed that something was awry. Two of the magnets on the back of my car were missing. I stood there in shock for a minute because I had a hard time wrapping my brain around the situation. Someone had swiped my Disney Premier AP magnet, and also my special Halloween edition Disneyland AP magnet (see above photo). This was extremely upsetting. I wasn’t 100% sure if the theft happened while I was working or the during the few minutes I spent inside the pharmacy, but I find it unlikely that anyone at work was to blame. The most likely scenario is that the time my car was in the CVS parking lot allowed a thief to brazenly remove two magnets off my car. Luckily they didn’t want my Florida Gator magnet so that one remained in place. Small mercies. Fortunately I had a replacement for the Premier AP magnet at home , but I went through a lot of trouble to get that Halloween magnet in the fall!

I never got around to blogging about it (not yet, at least), but I went to the Disneyland Halloween Party with my BFF and her family on September 29th. Needless to say, we had an amazing time. The party was moved to California Adventure park in 2019 so a lot of things were different, but we still really enjoyed ourselves. The location change meant that I wasn’t able to hit the location inside Disneyland park where the limited edition Halloween AP magnets were being distributed. Luckily we had already planned to spend the night in Anaheim after the party (a Friday night) and go to Disneyland the next morning. My energy level was particularly low that Saturday, and I was pretty much ready for a nap after three hours at the park, but I was determined to get a magnet. From what I saw online it was a hot commodity amongst annual passholders. Shortly before I went home I swung by the Star Wars Launch Bay, stood in line, and acquired my very own Halloween AP magnet. Success! Since I’ve had that magnet proudly displayed on the back of my car. Well, until January 2nd, at least. I’m glad I have photographic evidence that I owned one of those babies, if only briefly. Not a huge deal in the grand scheme of things, but still mildly infuriating. I’m sure I could get another magnet one on eBay, but I don’t want to spend money on something so insignificant right now.

Funny enough, when I got home the evening of the magnet theft I wrote a Facebook post about the incident, and several of my local friends commented that this had happened to them as well. I had no idea there was such a rash of Disneyland AP magnet thefts in Southern California. I guess it is a ridiculously easy thing to steal, but I’m not quite sure why. False prestige? Anyway, I’ll be on the lookout for something new to replace the Halloween magnet this year. Or maybe I should just put it on my fridge instead? At least it would be safe there!

Thanksgiving 2019

Thanksgiving Eve
I was still on medical leave over Thanksgiving and I was struggling with fatigue, like always. But the day before Thanksgiving I had a full schedule of things to do so I couldn’t stay home and nap. First of all, I had a rheumatologist appointment in Pasadena. Having to drive that far the day before a major holiday wasn’t ideal, but it was the only time I could get an appointment before December. And to make things worse, it was raining. Adding precipitation to already busy freeways is a recipe for disaster. Fortunately it only took me an hour to get to my doctor’s office Pasadena, which is pretty average. (The first photo above was taken from the parking lot when I got there. The storm made the foothills very picturesque.) Things got crazier afterwards, though. I needed to pick up my OC Turkey Trot race packet in Laguna Hills which, if you’re unfamiliar with Los Angeles geography, is nowhere near Pasadena. Plus, it was still raining. That drive took me 1.5 hours because I was on the road with everyone trying to leave town for the holiday weekend. The race bib and shirt pickup process was a breeze, but then I was faced with another long drive back home. I spent nearly 4 hours driving that day, but I got everything done that I needed to. Including going to boot camp class at 8 PM.

Thanksgiving Day
OC Turkey Trot day! And it was still raining. Had I not committed to driving some ladies from my running group to the race in Irvine I would probably have stayed in bed. Even though I had paid to run the 5K I would have had zero qualms remaining warm and dry inside my house that holiday morning rather than venturing out into the winter storm (by LA standards only). I crossed all of my fingers and toes that it would be merely sprinkling by the time we arrived at Irvine College for the race, but I didn’t get that lucky. It was not only raining fairly heavily, but it was also cold and windy. So while the other ladies in my carpool braved the inclement weather to earn their medals, I chickened out and stayed in my car the whole time! I was a little disappointed in myself for bailing, but I knew I would have been miserable running without any proper rain gear.

My plan for the rest of Thanksgiving was to go to my happy place. You guessed it – Disneyland. So after I got home from the turkey trot, showered, and packed an overnight bag, I drove to a hotel in Anaheim to spend the next two days. Surprise, surprise, it was still raining. Don’t get me wrong, I love it when we get much-needed rain in Southern California, but it was seriously impacting my holiday. Before leaving my house I put on my circa 2010 rain coat only to discover that it is too small. Ugh. Like I needed another reminder that I’ve put on weight lately. Since I couldn’t zip it up I got pretty soaked walking from my car to my hotel room with my backpack and duffel bag. I was completely fed up at this point and had no desire to leave the room again that night. The rain still hadn’t stopped so I blew off my dinner reservation at Disneyland and ordered room service instead. About 20 minutes later I got a call to tell me that my food was undeliverable due to flooding on the path between the kitchen and my building. I walked outside to survey the situation and there was indeed a sizable lake that hadn’t been there when I checked in. To avoid going hungry that night I removed my shoes and socks, rolled up my jeans, and waded to the hotel restaurant for dinner. Room service couldn’t come up with that simple solution, of course. My Thanksgiving dinner consisted of a mediocre pepperoni pizza and a Coke. Not very festive, but it was the only food I had access to that evening. The rest of my holiday was spent watching TV in bed, which could have been worse, honestly.

Black Friday
I took advantage of the Black Friday online sales to buy a couple of new rain jackets from Columbia. I wasn’t going to get caught without a properly sized rain coat again!

The following weekend
I finally had a festive Thanksgiving meal at my BFF’s in-law’s house over a week later. I made my usual homemade cranberry sauce and pumpkin dip to share with everyone. It was wonderful to sit down and eat turkey and all the trimmings with a lovely family that has adopted me as one of their own. I got to hug not only my BFF, but also my precious goddaughter, which is the best medicine in the world. I had been in a bit of a funk since my disastrous Thanksgiving Day and spending time with people I love helped immensely. And of course they sent me home with delicious leftovers too! Next year I am going to be in Hawaii with my own family over the holiday so that’s something I’m really looking forward to. Hopefully Thanksgiving 2020 will be much better than 2019!

Just a silly story from the end of 2019

Written on 1/1/20
Happy New Year, everyone! I’m sitting at my dining room table wrapped in a blanket (my thermostat is currently inoperable so no central heat) trying to figure out what to do on this first day of January. New Year’s Day 2020 looks a lot different when compared to previous iterations. First of all, it’s 10:30 AM and I’m still in my pajamas. My usual January 1st tradition is to go to Disneyland in the early morning, before the large crowds arrive, but due to my myriad of health issues that is not something that I can count on being able to do. I went to bed at 10 PM last night because I wanted to give myself the best chance of fulfilling my tradition, but when I woke up at 6:30 AM today my body told me it wasn’t going to happen. I have gotten much better at listening to my body when it tells me I don’t have the energy for a particular activity, so I wasn’t going to push myself. Hence why I’m still in my pajamas!

So my energy level was so low on January 1st that I never even finished this post! Having chronic illnesses means that nonessential activities often fall by the wayside. I really hate it, but sometimes I’m forced to operate in survival mode where rest trumps everything. That was basically the entirety of my New Year’s Day. However, one of my goals for 2020 is to blog regularly. (In order to avoid undue stress I’m not going to explicitly define what “regularly” means. At least not yet.) Making New Year’s resolutions have never worked out well for me so I’m not going to write a traditional list or anything. I just have a few goals for the year that I want to work on. So for my first post of 2020 here is a little story from the end of 2019!

I took my large suitcase to Tallahassee for Christmas because I was going to be there for a full week, and December weather in Florida weather can be extremely variable. I needed clothes for warm weather, plus coats of different weights in case winter decided to show up for any period of time. This suitcase was a Christmas gift from my ex-husband back in 2008 (see the first photo above) when we were traveling to New Zealand for the holidays. An amazing present. It was a really nice (and expensive) suitcase, but back then luggage didn’t have the multi-directional spinner wheels like they do now. A suitcase only had two wheels so you could tilt it by the handle and drag it behind you through the airport. Not ideal these days, but still perfectly functional, even at 11 years-old. Except for the antiquated wheel technology this suitcase is perfect. First of all, it’s bright green (i.e., easily identifiable on any baggage claim carousel). Also, it’s big enough to hold a lot, but not so big that I have to worry about it being over any airline’s checked baggage weight limit. I had absolutely no complaints about this piece of luggage…until December 29th. On my way home from the holidays I flew from Tallahassee to Orange County with a layover in Dallas. I was tired when my flight arrived at the John Wayne airport that evening so as soon as my suitcase appeared in baggage claim I was happy to grab it and start my journey back home. As I began the long walk to the parking structure I wondered why my bag felt so sluggish. Maybe the wheels didn’t function well on the airport carpet? I wasn’t sure. But when I got outside onto the concrete I knew something was amiss. Upon further inspection one of the two wheels on my trusty green suitcase was gone (see the second photo above). So sad! (And so much harder to drag to my car with only one wheel!) He had flown his last flight. Farewell to my trusty traveling companion of 11 years! You will be missed!

Halloween 2019 (NaBloPoMo day 2)

I had a busy Halloween considering how low my energy levels are these days. The only thing I’ve been able to do consistently while on medical leave from work is exercise. I have managed to attend boot camp classes three to five times a week for the last few months and it really makes me happy. (My runs have been few and far between, however, but I’ll write about that in another post.) I still have a long way to go in my fitness journey, but I definitely feel stronger after three months of weight training, even if my dress size hasn’t gotten any smaller. Although I don’t like the number on the scale right now I am trying to have a positive attitude towards my body in its current form. It’s not easy! Getting back to the story, I was determined to get to the gym on Halloween, but I had to go at 9 AM since my usual evening class was cancelled for the holiday. As you can see in the above photo, my gym buddy and I had matching floral skeleton outfits from INKnBURN. She even brought flower crowns so that we could enhance the effect. Halloween is one of my favorite holidays so celebrating it this way was really fun. The workout itself was pretty difficult, but at least I started the day by doing something healthy.

I had plans to meet my BFF and goddaughter for trick-or-treating at 5 PM. After an egg sandwich for breakfast and a post-gym shower I attempted to take a little nap to replenish my energy stores, but my stupid restless legs had other ideas. I may have dozed for half an hour or so, but my twitchy legs did not allow any more than that. (I know it’s my brain causing the muscle spasms, but sometimes I daydream about a leg transplant that will fix my PLMD.) I knew that the long drive to/from my BFF’s house, as well as several hours of Halloween celebration, were going to be hard on me, so I took half a dose of my stimulant medication to ensure that I wasn’t dead tired before even arriving. (I use the stimulant very sparingly to get me through events that demand a lot of energy, but it’s a band-aid rather than a long-term solution to my constant fatigue.) Trick-or-treating with my goddaughter’s Girl Scout troop was a lot of fun. Safely guiding about ten girls from house to house to gather their candy while trying to avoid anyone getting left behind was quite the balancing act. I’m really glad I got to share the holiday with my goddaughter, though. It was the most human interaction I’ve had in months (unless you count Disneyland), but it was very draining. By the time I got home I was fading fast. My nighttime medication generally requires about two hours to take effect, but I somehow managed to pass out in about half that time. You know I’m exhausted when even leg spasms can’t keep me awake! The next morning my gym buddy and I were planing to go to the 9 AM boot camp class again, but neither of us was up for it when our alarms went off. I ended up sleeping very late to recuperate from all of the Halloween festivities. Still a fantastic holiday!

Happy November!

Ah, good ol’ November 1st. Historically the day I kickoff my contribution to (the now defunct) National Blog Posting Month. November is traditionally National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), and the weblog community started their own version in 2006 (NaBloPoMo) where bloggers endeavor to post new content to their sites every day of the month. I accepted the challenge several times during my more prolific blogging days – some years being more successful than others – but extenuating circumstances have kept me from flexing my writing muscle too much recently. Of all my hobbies that have fallen by the wayside since my health began to decline I miss running the most, but writing is a close second. I love the creative outlet blogging provides, but it demands energy that my mind and body don’t always have to spare. Like I’ve said before, fatigue affects every area of my life, and writing is no different. Also, no one has ever said there are too many hours in the day, so finding time to consciously devote to blogging (rather than aimlessly browsing the interwebz) isn’t easy. I have been reading a few books lately that I hope will help me get back in the habit of writing everyday, but I haven’t put any of the ideas into practice yet. No promises, but I’m going to try to use NaBloPoMo to kick-start my blogging habit again. We’ll see if it works.

P.S. November 1st is also the Day of the Dead – better known as the day after Halloween when kids are sleep deprived because they stayed up way past their bedtime trick-or-treating. I figured on this 11/1 post it was appropriate to include a photo of me with my BFF and her daughter from last night. Aren’t we adorable?

What I learned today

This morning my alarm went off at 5:30 AM. This would be ridiculous for most Sundays these days, but today I was trying my darndest to make it to the School Ghoul 5K in Los Alamitos. I have missed so many races in the last couple of years due to my poor health, and every time it happens I feel a little bit worse. My near constant fatigue has gotten in the way of just about everything in my life, no matter how hard I struggle against it, so I try to gain ground whenever and however I can. Fortunately this morning was a win. I successfully got out of bed at 5:30 AM and got ready to leave for the 5K. It helped that this race is small and local (Los Alamitos is not far from my house) so I wasn’t facing a long drive or difficulties with parking or crowds. Also, it was the only Halloween race I had any real chance of participating in this year, and I had a whole outfit planned for the occasion. If at all possible I was not going to miss this 5K.

I arrived at the race start line plenty early, picked up my shirt and bib, and walked back to my car to put on sunscreen. I had 50 minutes to spare. That’s when I realized that I hadn’t brought my GPS watch with me. Or my headphones. In fact, I had forgotten all of my running electronics at home. Is it obvious that I haven’t run a race in almost two months? At first I remembered that I have a spare set of earbuds in my glove compartment for just such an emergency, but then it hit me that my phone hasn’t had a headphone jack since 2017. So no help there. Facing the prospect of running 3.1 miles without my usual playlist was so daunting that I decided to rush home and grab the items I needed. If you thought getting home and then back to the race would be the most difficult part of the morning you’d be wrong. That part was pretty smooth! I got back to the race start with a full 25 minutes before I had to run, so I thought I was in great shape. Then I tried to set up all of my electronics.

Fortunately my interval timer is stand-alone so all I had to do was clip it onto my pocket. The watch and headphones proved to be more of a problem. Last month when the iPhone 11s came out I went to the Apple Store and took advantage of the newly lowered prices on older models to buy an iPhone 8. My iPhone 7 was slowly dying and it was time for an upgrade, but I didn’t go crazy and buy anything too fancy. Unfortunately, I haven’t run a race since before my phone swap so my Bluetooth electronics had never been paired with the iPhone 8. After a couple of attempts I gave up trying to get the Garmin app to recognize my watch since that connection wasn’t essential for the race, but I really needed the headphones to cooperate. The best part about wireless earphones is the wireless part, but it is also the most breakable link in the chain. No phone pairing = no music. I tried everything I could think of up until the moment the race started, but it was no use. My iPhone 8 and my Bluetooth headphones were just not going to play nicely together. I was resigned to run the race with no soundtrack, the useless headphones tagging along as ballast.

Plenty of folks have told me how much they enjoy “unplugged” running with only the ambient noise of nature and their inner thoughts to entertain them. Today I learned that I am not one of those people. There are two reasons I absolutely need my favorite playlist in order to make plodding along on the pavement tolerable. 1) Running by itself is boring! Without a the distraction of music I lose interest in this particular form of exercise very quickly. It’s monotonous and every mile seems to drag on forever unless I have songs to listen to or friends to talk to. Ideally both. 2) I have difficulty regulating my breathing without the aid of a tempo. I learned this a long time ago I got my first iPod and it completely changed my workouts. While running the 5K today I had to sing to myself the whole time (silently, of course) in order to keep from breathing erratically. It was rough. I was completely exhausted, mentally and physically, when I crossed the finish line. As happy as I was to run the 5K, it was a miserable experience without my playlist. I will definitely make sure all of my electronics are working before my next race!

Happy holidays 2018

It’s Thanksgiving week and I am officially overwhelmed. Not only am I still fighting my usual chronic health problems (I need to call two of my doctors tomorrow for some follow-up information), but I also have a lot of other things on my plate right now. I haven’t written about most of them yet (not being secretive, just waiting for the dust to settle), but they have been dominating my time nonetheless. And of course the holidays are front and center right now which doesn’t make anyone’s life any simpler. First of all, there’s Thanksgiving on Thursday. I am running a combination 10K/5K turkey trot in Dana Point that morning, and then heading to dinner at my best friend’s house in Pasadena in the afternoon. In order to make the food preparation a little less stressful I whipped up my homemade cranberry sauce last night. Two batches even – one with diced apple and pear, and one without (to cover everyone’s dietary requirements). I also signed up to make a couple of desserts so those have to get done by Thursday afternoon. ‘Tis the season for time-consuming holiday obligations! And that’s nothing compared to the rest of the year. I swear time speeds up starting on October 1st and the next three months pass in the blink of an eye. As much as I love it, this time of year is very difficult. The shopping, the parties, the decorating, the eating, the travel, etc. Even with most of those activities being thoroughly enjoyable, it all piles up. And I’m already fighting exhaustion 24/7! So in an effort to minimize the drains on my already dwindling energy reserves, I am taking a break from blogging until January. Since I still have quite a few subjects that I want to write about I will continue to craft posts whenever I find the time and inspiration, but I don’t plan to publish anything until 2019. Hopefully this respite will make the last six weeks of 2018 a little bit easier. So here’s wishing all of my readers a lovely Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s. Let’s make the rest of this year the best it can be!

September 1st (Retail therapy #2 revisited)

I went to Target today because I was down to my last roll of toilet paper at home. So as a responsible adult I headed out to replenish my stock of bathroom essentials, but I was also hoping to browse the Halloween section of the store. This was a less “responsible adult” inclination, I admit. Unfortunately I was disappointed on that account. The back corner of the store that’s usually dedicated to selling products related to the next holiday on the calendar was sadly still decked out in back-to-school fashion. What a shame. I know some kids don’t start school again until after Labor Day, but it’s finally September, for crying out loud! Time for the holiday festivities to begin! But maybe that’s just my own impatience talking. I’ve been waiting eight whole months for this day! (One of my friends actually started decorating her front yard for Halloween today so I’m clearly not the only one who is excited for this time of year. And if my Halloween door hanging wasn’t tucked away so far in my closet I’d have started decorating today too.) However, I did find one holiday surprise in the bath products section of Target. Remember how last December I was obsessed with getting my hands on a bottle of Mrs. Meyer’s Apple Cider Clean Day Liquid Hand Soap? Here’s an excerpt from my retail therapy #2 blog post to refresh your memory.

“When I saw that Mrs. Meyer’s had a limited edition apple cider hand soap I just had to have some. Unfortunately I was late to the game because it was more of a fall scent, and therefore not readily accessible in stores. So I turned to Amazon, my usual tried-and-true source for everything under the Sun. Of course it was available from one seller, but it wasn’t cheap, as far as standard amounts of hand soap go. As you can imagine, in my holiday-fueled hysteria I wasn’t thinking clearly and purchased a bottle. It was silly, but it made me happy.”
2/24/18 webpage post

Well, as of today this previously coveted hand soap is available at my local Target at a reasonable price. Makes me feel silly for going to such great lengths last year! Not that I’ll be lining up to buy any this time around because I realized that I can experience the same scent profile from the Suave Kids 3-in-1 apple shampoo that I use at the gym! However, I did find Mrs. Meyer’s pumpkin hand soap, a variety I was previously unaware of, sitting on the same display shelf. I was intrigued. I bought so many bottles of holiday hand soap last December that I won’t even get close to finishing them by the end of 2018. So, thinking practically, there was absolutely no reason I needed to purchase pumpkin-scented soap today. In fact, my pledge to be more frugal for the rest of the year (I have two Disney World vacations coming up, and those aren’t cheap) is a prime reason that I shouldn’t have put any of the pumpkin hand soap in my shopping basket. But I did anyway. What can I say? My resolve weakens when I’m faced with special edition holiday stuff! Luckily hand soap is on the low end of the spectrum, price-wise. Let’s hope I have more willpower when it comes to other, more expensive and more compelling items. Like the gorgeous glass pumpkins at Pottery Barn. I must be strong!

Baking is my self-care

“I am rediscovering my love of baking today. I used to use it as self-care, and now I remember how soothing it is for me. I’m headed to a friend’s house later to shoot off some fireworks and gorge on delicious food!”
7/4/18 Facebook comment

This past week I’ve been thinking about how in the heck I’m supposed to follow such a heavy post about feminism and rejecting limitations. I’ve recently started several other posts on meaningful topics that I want to expound on, but they need a lot more time before they’ll be ready to publish. So in the meantime, here’s something a bit lighter! (I would have added the word “literally” to that sentence, but one of the things I’m going to talk about is pound cake which is the opposite of light fare!)

With a few exceptions (mostly holidays like Halloween and Christmas), I haven’t done much baking in the last couple of years. Granted, I’ve done quite a bit of other cooking (chili, of course, plus a lot of Whole30 recipes), but it’s just not the same. Looking back at my archives, I’ve been partial to pumpkin bread in the fall, but the last chocolate chip cookie recipe I posted was in February 2016. (I high recommend those brown butter and molasses chocolate chip cookie bars.) Baking used to be a weekly activity that I truly enjoyed and soothed my soul. It was certainly a welcome distraction during Gator games in the college football season! There’s something calming about mixing ingredients in the right proportions and producing a delicious treat that I can share with my friends and co-workers. These days while focusing on my favorite forms of self-care I realized that baking was one of the ways I took care of myself. Not that eating a whole bunch of cookies is particularly healthy, but I relished the process more so than the finished product. So when I got an invite to the annual Fourth of July party I saw it as an opportunity to reinvigorate this pastime and also provide dessert for everyone.

With July 4th falling in the middle of the week I knew I wouldn’t have time to make anything complicated, so I chose two old, previously posted recipes that I knew would be delicious. Also, I figured there was some leeway in both of them for me to experiment a little. I love the creativity that baking allows me – within reason, of course! So in the berry buttermilk pound cake I used a mix of red raspberries, golden raspberries, and blueberries. The grocery store that I visited in a panic the morning of July 4th had only one package of red raspberries left so I improvised with other fruit. I also added more buttermilk than the original recipe called for – probably an extra 2 Tbsp. The end result was an amazing pound cake that I ate way too many slices of. My second cake was a blueberry upside down cake that I’d made for a Memorial Day get-together a number of years ago. This time I used 1/2 c brown sugar, 1/3 c white sugar, an extra 1/2 tsp cinnamon, and an extra 2 Tbsp buttermilk. I am so glad I made those changes because the cake was absolutely incredible! It was rich, flavorful, and tasted like blueberry cobbler. It’s the perfect summer dessert and everyone at the party loved it.

So will I keep up with my baking as a regular form of self-care? Well, as I mentioned, it’s not exactly the most healthy pastime, but I foresee myself mixing up some sweet treats more often during the second half of 2018. Especially in the fall when Gator football returns! I certainly need to remember that it’s a therapeutic activity that I can easily perform at a moments notice in the comfort of my own home. That is very comforting.