Monday, February 23, 2015

Universal Studios - Harry Potter World

I was so excited when my work decided to host a conference in Tampa and I got to go, but I was so bummed it was smack dab in the middle of Hal's busy season, when he works 7 days a week and isn't allowed to take time off.

Luckily my friend Trophie loved Harry Potter, and we found her a $20 flight to Tampa. Not too shabby. We met up at the airport and rented a car for the hour and half drive to Orlando.
We only planned to visit Universal Studios, instead of hitting Disney, because Harry Potter is boss.

The first day we only had the afternoon, and one park closed at 6 and the other at 7, so we hit to Islands of Adventure, which has the older Harry Potter world, with the castle and Hogsmead.
I think we both expected to feel so hot in Florida since it was freezing in DC, but it was 70 and rainy when we arrived and a cardigan was definitely needed. We were lucky that the crowds weren't too bad since it was the afternoon and it had been raining in the morning. We got some frozen butter beer. Which is delicious and butterscotchy, but will instantly rot your teeth out, and will make you want to barf if you chug a bunch before going on the castle ride that you didn't know was moving and 3D. 
Our second day we spent mostly in the universal park, in the new Harry Potter world. I must say, if you have to choose, choose universal. It's so well done. The level of detail is astounding. We started the day by taking The Hogwarts Express from Islands of Adventure to Universal. The train was so fun. We took it both ways, and I thought it would be the same, but it was different each way. 
Once we got into Universal I was so surprised. They did such a good job on the Kings Cross station, and making it feel like you were coming outside into London. We even managed to capture Kreacher peeking through the window. 
All of the shops on the Universal side were so wonderful. The level of detail was amazing. It was so fun to see all of the treats and the clothes and everything from the movies and books come to life. The Gringotts ride was really fun, but it's short and the line was really long. I think the Castle ride was both of our favorite. We even got to catch the Gringotts dragon breathing fire.

I'd highly recommend visiting Harry Potter world. It's not cheap, and as adults we weren't really interested in all of the Disney stuff, so it was perfect for a 2 day visit. I'd say we could have done all of Harry Potter probably in one day, but be aware that they close early in the winter. Overall, it was worth the money for a fun little short trip.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

A Little Lyme Update

I've been in treatment for Lyme Disease for about two months now, so I figured it was time for an update on my experience.

I began with six different vitamins back at the beginning of December and slowly built up an antibiotic to taking three pills twice times a day. The antibiotic is called Doxycycline, and I actually took it in Cambodia to prevent getting malaria. Then Jan 1st I began taking a stronger second antibiotic called Biaxin.

When I was on the doxy, I felt fine. I just ate a few rice crackers before taking it and never had a problem. I wasn't so lucky with Biaxin. It makes me really sick. After much trial and error I realized I have to take it in the middle of my meal, and my meal must be a full meal. If it take it too early or too late, or don't eat enough I'll know pretty soon. In the beginning I had unbearable nausea as well as a sour stomach and it gave me a horrible metallic taste in my mouth. My work was so nice and let me work from home on the days it made me really sick. Once I figured out how to mitigate most of the side effects, it wasn't too bad.
I just had my follow up appointment with my Dr. It has hard to tell her how I was feeling as I feel worse on the medicine then I did before I started taking it. I was kind of hoping that after about two months I'd be done with treatment.

No such luck. She actually told me I have 2-3 more months of treatment. She told me that the lyme bacteria build barriers around themselves to prevent the antibiotics from killing them. She's changing my biaxin to another antibiotic that's similar, but supposedly has less side effects. And she's added in another prescription, and three other vitamins that together are supposed to break down the barriers around the bacteria and treat a possible coin infection.

Currently I take 15 pills a day, and it will be moving to over 20 days with the new vitamins and prescriptions.

I was really discouraged after my appointment and hearing that I have to continue treatment for what feels like forever. But as I thought about it, I realized a lot of my actual lyme symptoms have subsided. My infection on my hands is gone, I don't have arthritis anymore and my fatigue has lessened a lot.

Another silver lining is that I have to continue my yeast free, sugar free diet and I've dropped a pant/dress size since I started treatment. I thought cutting out carbs would be a lot harder than it turned about to be. I never thought I'd be able to do it, but I noticed I felt a lot better when I wasn't eating yeast.

I'm excited, but a little hesitant to start all of my new pills next week. Here's to hoping I can start feeling better while on the pills than I did before.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Funny Friday, Pepe Edition

Guys, it's so cold. Yesterday I was wearing a t-shirt in Florida and today I'm wearing multiple layers.

I need a cure for the winter blues, and what's funnier than my very own disabled cat?

Here he is making out with my shoe, a common occurrence. He loves to sleep by the shoes throughout the day too.

Sometimes we get immune to how funny and adorable he is as he stumbles around the apartment because we see it every day.

We put our duvet back on the bed and because it's fluffy he can't always see where the top off the bed is to properly chase Tuk Tuk, so he just jumps as hard as he can, and often he jumps all the way over the bed and lands on the other side.

It's funny how much he's changed since we got him. When we first got him he never liked to be pet and he never cuddled with us, and now he sleeps on the bed all night long.
In the 8 months that we've had him he's never purred. Never. We thought he couldn't purr because of his inner ear disability, that maybe purring would throw off his balance more.

Well, we were wrong. Food is Pepe's favorite thing. Whenever we're in the bathroom, he's in there eating. I'm not sure I've been in the bathroom either without Pepe in there, or without him scratching at the door trying to get in.
This is now Hal discovered the secret. If your pet Pepe when he's eating, like magic, he will purr. We've tried it a couple of times, and the circumstances have to be right, but we've gotten him to purr a whole 5 times.

And just to make your Friday the best you've had since this miserable cold descended, here's a video of Pepe chasing a red light in the hallway. He doesn't do anything halfway. Be sure to listen with the sound on for optimal effect.

Friday, January 23, 2015

My Favorite This American Life Shows

Now that the Serial craze is over what are we going to listen to? I started listening to This American Life about a year ago and I've made it all the way back to 2008 in the archives. If you didn't know, Serial is a spin off of This American Life, so if you haven't tried either, do!

I love listening to it at work as I'm doing mindless tasks.

This American Life
Ep 544: Batman
Why I loved this episode: This is the newest episode from this year and I was blown away. TAL tells a lot of really interesting stories, but this was so captivating that it inspired me to do this entire post. It's about a blind man who can "see" by clicking his tongue. If you're going to listen to only one episode, listen to this one.

Ep 534: Not So Simple Majority
Why I loved this episode: I like that TAL reports on so many different areas and subjects and this one really got my blood boiling. It's about an area of New York where Hasidic Jews took over the school board so they could make policy, but they don't actually send their children to the public schools.

Ep 529: Human Spectacle
Why I loved this episode: I think this was the first TAL episode Hal ever heard. We heard part of it on the radio while we were driving out to a hike and we were both laughing and captivated by this episode. It's about a man who lives in an apartment naked and alone for a Japanese game show where he has to win everything he eats, wears, or owns.

Ep 489: No Coincidence , No Story
Why I loved this episode: This episode doesn't follow the typical format of TAL episodes. in this episode they called out for coincidence stories and people just called in, and they followed up on some of the stories.

Ep 492: Dr. Gilmer & Mr. Hyde
Why I loved this episode: This story is crazy. Like you can't believe what you're hearing crazy. This is about a small town doctor that commits murder and is sent to jail. A doctor with the same name replaces him (what are the odds?!) and gets interested in the other Drs story and digs more into it.

Ep 460: Retraction
First listen to: Mr. Daisy and the Apple Factory
Why I loved these episodes: This is the first time TAL has had to retract a story and I loved that they admitted their part, but they didn't let the guy off scott free, they interview him for the retraction story and ask really uncomfortable questions, and it's amazing.

Ep 413: Georgia Rambler
Why I loved this episode: This episode is just fun. A guy from Georgia used to have a newspaper article called the Georgia Rambler where he drove all over the state just finding random local stories. The reporters on TAL spread out over Georgia and do another Georgia Rambler

Ep 393: Infidelity
Why I loved this episode: This episode has stuck in my mind for a long time, mainly because of act 1. It's compelling and so real. It's about a woman who left her husband for his best friend; but it doesn't end up like you think it would.

And last but not least
                                        484: Doppelgängers
Ep 484: Dopplegangers
Why I loved this episode: This was the very first episode that introduced me to TAL. My home teacher had me over for dinner and was wearing a shirt with the above picture on it. He proceeded to tell the story of act one, and told it just as well as the actual recording. Seriously, listen to act one. I'm not giving anything away.

Now you know what to do with your weekend!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

It's a Sad Day

Remember how this year was supposed to be great after a rough year last year? Well, we're not off to such a good start.

This morning my 90 year old grandmother passed away. In less than three months we lost both of these beautiful grandmothers.
She was my last living grandparent and her death feels harder than the others because I just saw her a few weeks ago when I was home for Christmas.

Her death is bittersweet. She had been alone for a long time and she had dementia and was often confused about where she was, or what decade it was.

When we went to visit, she didn't always know who we were; but I'm so glad I got to spend Christmas morning with her, helping her open her presents. She had long hair for the first time and kept commenting on my hair so I showed her how to put her hair into a bun.
She lived with my dad, and he and my brothers took great care of her. I'm sure this is very bittersweet for my dad as she was increasingly hard to care for, but she was his mother, and his last living parent, but now she gets to be with her husband.

We're all sad that she's gone, but so glad to know she's back with her husband in a happier place.
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