Posted in Everyday Life, Travel on October 25th, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The flu season is upon us, and it’s obvious.  In our family, we are teetering between two outbreaks of illness.  Last week, it was hand, foot, and mouth disease (not to be confused with its fear-provoking counterpart, foot and mouth disease, which is only found in animals).  The kids had little bumps on their hands, and a general feeling of being unwell, known as malaise as I learned on the internet.  This is an extremely common (in children anyway) viral illness that usually runs its course in most kids.  When my mouth erupted in sores last week (it’s like having 10-20 large canker sores at the same time), I was shocked because it’s supposed to be very rare in adults.  We contacted 3 different health professionals to make sure that our trip to Illinois could go on as scheduled, and they all assured us that if there was no fever, we were not contagious.  We ventured across the state of Indiana, and I don’t know if I was more fearful of what we were bringing with us or what we were going to take home, what with the many recent flus reported in Illinois and elsewhere, H1N1 and otherwise.

More on the really great parts of the trip in the next blog post – I need to get this out of my system so to speak, haha – a sick post and a fun post.  So for the sick part…

My husband woke up today feeling awful – the flu.  My morning started pretty much like the past 2 or 3 mornings now  – tremendous pain in my mouth, worse than the day before.  One of my favorite things about visiting the Chicago area is the food – despite the city’s drawbacks: the aggravating traffic, the inflated prices, CROWDS; Chicagoans do have a talent for their intolerance of crappy Sysco food – ie, Chicago food is fantastic!  Last week, anticipating our upcoming trip, I remember thinking that it was only Wednesday, surely my mouth would heal by Friday so I could indulge in some of my favorite Chicago treats.  But alas, Thursday’s pain was worse than Wednesday’s, and Friday’s was worse than Thursday’s.  Actually, as I said before, it’s gotten worse every day since it started.  Somehow, I was miraculously able to enjoy my Italian beef sandwich Friday night, but pain-wise things just went downhill from there.  We had a wonderful  breakfast at the Uptown Cafe in Arlington Heights, quite possibly the best breakfast restaurant in the country.  They have the best eggs benedict I’ve ever had, but unfortunately I came very close to sinfully wasting my eggs benedict when I  could not eat them (let alone carry on a conversation with relatives) without my eyes watering from  the pain in my mouth.  My little boy saved me from wasting half my order ( I knew I should have gotten soup or at least a half order of eggs benedict, but I literally could not resist – we get to this place less than once a year!) – but my toddler ate half my eggs benedict – he is his father’s son!

The weekend ended with my sister making us wonderful homemade lasagna, of which I had about 5 small very painful bites.  I did not try any of the appetizers, the steamed vegetables, the salad, the garlic bread, or any of the desserts 🙁
I also did not get my usual crave case of White Castle cheeseburgers to bring back to Ohio, although generous relatives supplied us with some Chicago beef for sandwiches, homemade soup and Grammy’s out-of-this-world homemade spaghetti sauce, all frozen and ready to be thawed as soon  as I’m better!  Talk about something to look forward to!!!

We ventured home at 2 am this morning, and arrived safely, however painful (and tiresome for my husband) the ride home.  And a special thank you to Officer Friendly of the Ohio State Patrol, who did not issue even a warning for my husband’s “hovering around 60 in a 55.”  I’m glad he seemed to take the 4 sleeping kids and the grumpy wife in the passenger seat into consideration – this police stop was completed very quickly and only blocks from our house.

This morning I awoke in a lot of pain, and it’s gotten worse throughout the day.  I think if it continues its trend and gets even worse tomorrow, I’m going to have my husband call the doctor to make an appointment.  I am so thankful that my kids seem to be over it, and as horrible as it’s been for me, I’m still happy I got the most of it in the family.  I  pray for my husband, and I’m really nervous about swine flu, but he seems to be feeling better, unless he’s just putting on a braver face than I.  This illness for me has been characterized by bouts of severe pain sandwiched between constant regular pain.  In the past hour, twice that I’ve talked brought on  the most severe bouts of pain and was enough to make me start typing on the computer and making my husband read it in order to communicate.  Whatever works, it’s amazing how easily the threat of tremendous pain can train a person to keep her mouth closed (like Pavlov’s dog).  My husband joked that it’s the “shut-up disease”.  That brought a smile; it doesn’t hurt to smile – just the talking, eating, drinking, and sleeping.  And that reminds me, being in constant pain has made me an insomniac.  I couldn’t sleep in Illinois at our hotel and ended up listening to an hour-long Larry King interview with Suzanne Somers – even that did not put me to sleep.  Did you know that Suzanne Somers never actually had cancer even though 4 different doctors told her to get her affairs in order because they had mis-diagnosed her?  That’s a tangent that doesn’t need to be taken…

Well, anyway, that’s enough from me for now.  Sorry about the rambling, but this really sucks, and typing is my voice right now.  Hubby is watching the Bears game, so it’d just be rude of me to constantly interrupt by making him read my ramblings.  I wish I could take care of my husband while he’s sick, but for now we’re helping each other.  Let’s really hope this gets better – if I have to go to the doctor, I can’t tell them what’s wrong with me because I can’t talk, and I don’t really want to bring my family with me to the doctor’s – who knows what else we could get?!?  I guess I’d have to write a note, but I feel kind of silly…

A real Halloween horror treat tonight would be for us to watch the movie Outbreak –  now that’s just TOO scary!!!

At least we have a good part of a week to whip these things and get ready for fun Halloween activities abound next weekend!  Super-fun blog post about the awesome parts of the  Illinois trip – including haunted house ratings! –  to follow this depressing post, I promise!

You Dirty Rat(s)

Posted in animals, Pets on January 3rd, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

According to Wikipedia.com, James Cagney never actually said the line, “You Dirty Rat“.  The closest he got was saying “Come out and take it, you dirty, yellow-bellied rat, or I’ll give it to you through the door!” in Taxi.  But rats!  That’s not the point of this post.

Seems I couldn’t resist adding to the Food Chain Gang – we’ve added two pet rats to our family, Bobby and Oreo – the kids chose the names.  It was kind of an impulsive activity to do today, pet shopping, but it was not an impulsive decision, the type that should never accompany a new pet.  We’ve been talking about getting a rat for some time now, but if it ended up being the wrong decision for our family, we didn’t want to be like rats leaving a sinking ship and ditch the responsibility. So we’ve been thinking about it a lot, and today just seemed like the right day to do it.

Rats are friendly, intelligent, non-biting rodents who make great pets.  Rat owners compare their companionship to that of dogs, believe it or not, and from what I’ve seen so far, I see what they’re talking about.  I think rats haven’t caught on as pets because many people don’t like the way their tails look, and they still have a negative stigma from a few incidents of centuries past, namely the Black Death outbreak and the legend of the Pied Piper of Hamelin.  I did some research about both of these historical tales – not that they influenced my decision to get the rats as pets; the research was just for fun.  But I found that the Bubonic Plague, aka the Black Death was most likely transmitted by fleas rather than rats.  True the fleas would travel on the rats, but they more commonly preferred larger hosts such as dogs or cats and used rats when larger animals were unavailable.  The Bubonic Plague was attributed to causing the demise of one quarter of the Earth’s population of human beings at that time, it’s hard to blame people for taking it out on rats.  And the Pied Piper story is basically a legend that tries to explain the disappearance of over 100 children from the town of Hamelin in Germany just before the year 1300.  Most likely, the children were recruited to newer European settlements, possibly by a man in “pied” clothing.  In the legend, there is a rat infestation in Hamelin, and the Pied Piper leads the rats out of the town to a body of water where they all drown.  The townspeople neglect to pay the Piper for his rat removal services, and he returns and leads their children out of town.  Some versions claim they went to a cave, some say another village, and there are even a few versions that say the Piper had ill intentions toward the children – in one they meet a fate similar to the rats.  I enjoyed some of the rat research I read and wanted to share it.  If you want to continue the research on your own, I’ve added to the level of the cheesiness (and length) of this post by putting some common sayings involving rats in italics – try looking them up; the origins are interesting.  But anyway, back to our new little friends.

When we were at the pet store, I didn’t want any part of picking out the rat.  I felt like they are only in pet stores to become snake food (which is why I won’t join the rat race and work in a pet store, as much as I’d like to do the other work in the store), and I didn’t want to have to see the ones that wouldn’t get saved.  As it is, I went over there to take a glance, saw little Bobby, who was about to be put back in the snake food tank, and that’s what prompted me to say, “Maybe we should get two.”  The pet store sent the rats home to us like this, a brown bag lunch for snakes, thus proving my point:

The rats my family chose for us are 4 week old brothers.  They are adorable, incredibly tame, and I’ve already really bonded with Bobby.  He cuddles me and sits on me and grooms himself – rats are actually very clean animals.  The entire start-up for this type of pet set us back about $25.
$2.99 per rat + $3 for bedding + $9 cage + $3 food (for about 3 weeks worth) + $2 water bottle + tax.  We are going to be resourceful about toys and use my kids’ toys for the rats – we’ve already found that they like to crawl through these foam tunnel blocks they have.  And we were very resourceful when making their cage as well.  Instead of trying to decide between the $19 glass aquarium and the $24 hamster cage (I was concerned about the heaviness and the breakable glass of the aquarium and worried the rats would escape the cage), we opted for secret option #3 – a large $9 transparent Rubbermaid bin with a lid in which we poked air holes.  Overall, I’m very happy so far with the new pet decision, and my major concerns have not come to fruition which were: 1.  that our Jack (Jerk) Russell Terrier mix would try to hunt the rats, and  2.  that the kids would unwittingly hurt the rats.  But our dog has not even noticed that the rats are here yet (she’s almost 11 and her sense of smell is failing faster than I thought – that makes me a little sad), and we laid down strict rules for the kids about handling the rats.  I was also worried about having yet another chore to do around the house, but I was promised help from both of the enthusiastic new pet owners (there’s a sucker born every minute).  Here are the cuties – Bobby is the beige one and Oreo is the gray and white one:


Posted in Movies on October 12th, 2008 and tagged , , , , , ,

Blindness is an interesting movie starring Julianne Moore.  Think Outbreak, except this time the disease that’s afflicting people at a record rate isn’t fatal, but it causes sudden blindness.  The movie was alright; I liked the ending, but there are a few scenes that are extremely disturbing to watch.  As always, I don’t want to go into much detail to avoid spoiling it for people.  Julianne Moore is a great actress, and her performance in this movie is not an exception to her reputation as such.  She plays a woman who does not contract the disease, therefore she still has her sight but she pretends like she doesn’t in order to be able to stay with her afflicted husband.  There were several large flaws with the movie (and the husband’s character), but it was entertaining and thought-provoking; never a bore.  Would I recommend it?  Probably not to the average movie-watcher, but if you like disaster films, medical dramas, or if you just want to see what a large city would look like if it were abandoned by all that could see, leaving only thousands of blind people, then check it out.  But I’m warning you, the view of the city isn’t pretty, and at times, neither was the movie.

Doomsday – Not Just a Clever Title

Posted in Movies on March 19th, 2008 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The movie Doomsday is about a virus that wipes out all of Scotland.  I’m not really inspired to write much about it because I didn’t like the movie.  I can’t even think of anyone I know who would.  I wasn’t bored at the theater, but you couldn’t pay me to watch this movie again.  First of all, it wasn’t my type of movie.  It was sci-fi and took place in the future, which is already 2 strikes against it as far as I’m concerned.  And then there was the violence.  The never-ending, non-stop, constantly gruesome and always bloody violence.  People died in any and every way you can imagine and some hopefully you can’t.  I lost count after 5 decapitations, all very graphic, and there were also scenes of people getting squished, burned alive, smashed by cars…  like I said, you name a method of torture, it was in this movie.  I was not expecting this.  I thought the movie was going be more like Outbreak, where people try to combat the virus together – I would classify that as more of a drama from what I can remember.  After seeing Doomsday, I even had a dream involving severed limbs last night…  thank goodness it wasn’t nearly as graphic or bloody as the movie…  I wouldn’t even classify it as a nightmare.  And don’t go thinking I’m some kind of weirdo – if you were exposed to almost 2 hrs. of that kind of violence, you would understand why it came across in my sleep!  But anyway, Doomsday definitely goes on my Worst Movies I’ve Seen list.  So far the list consists of:

1.  The Night Listener

2.  The Producers (2005)

3.  Doomsday

4.  The Devil’s Rejects

5.  Meet the Spartans – I’m actually going to remove this one – it doesn’t really qualify as a movie, plus I didn’t see the whole thing.  I KNEW it was going to be horrible, but my husband wanted to try it for some reason…  we lasted for about 10 mins, if that.

This list is in no particular order.  It’s really difficult to do that because they were all horrible in their own unique ways.  I liked the original Producers (1968), but I never even saw the whole remake with Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick because I couldn’t get past the first scene, which is rare for me, usually I will stick it out.  The Night Listener was horrible because it was predictable and dumb, but I would much rather sit thru that movie again than be subjected to Doomsday and all the violence again…  But when I saw each of them for the first time, I was more entertained by Doomsday than by The Night Listener…  so it just depends on the movie and what you mean by worst.  But they are all worthy of being classified as the worst movies I’ve ever seen, for one reason or another, some more than others.

I was totally surprised that Doomsday ended up being so bad after seeing that movies.com gave it an “A” as a rating!  I used to have this theory that I would go opposite whatever the critics said about a movie, and I think I will have to continue that trend.  If I remember correctly, Ebert and Roeper gave Devil’s Rejects “2 Thumbs Up”.  As I said, movies.com liked Doomsday, but I think the following excerpt of their critic’s review just about says it all – I say, see this movie at your own risk, on a dare, or if for some reason you are getting paid.  Otherwise, don’t bother with it, don’t know why we did!

From movies.com:

 “Name something you want in an ultraviolent action thriller and this movie delivers it. Impalement, decapitation, decapitated heads being affixed back onto bodies only to then take arrows through the skull and fall off again, motorcycles decorated with human skeletons, cannibalism, exploding bunnies, insane car chases, wacky costumes, incomprehensible editing, an indestructible a hot chick heroine (Rhona Mitra, who looks like what would happen if Kate Beckinsale and Victoria Beckham had a baby that was the Terminator) whose hotness grows in tandem with the number of people she mows down in the name of truth. Does it suck? Sorta. Is that awesome? Absolutely. In terms of sheer excitement, it’s the best movie of 2008.”

NOTE FROM ME – Best movie of 2008?  I don’t think it’s a coincidence that we’re only in the 3rd month!