Thursday, August 27, 2015

When tv and books collide

 *As a reminder, I am part of the Netflix Streamteam. I am being compensated for sharing with you, but as always, all thoughts and opinions are my own. 

At the start of the year, I mentioned I had watched Marco Polo (a Netflix original series) to get me through some sleepless nights.

I've been fascinating with thinking about this show, the time period, and other things.

Also, I try to drop Genghis Khan into as many conversations as I can.

This shouldn't be surprising as I also love history. And no, Marco Polo isn't actual history, but the backdrops, the scenery, and all of that, help one picture what it might have been like during Genghis Khan's time, albeit with a Hollywood take.

Watch the show - the land is beautiful. I think that every time I watch it (oh, why yes, I have watched it more than once!). I am enjoying the story line as well and can't wait to see where they take it in season two.

 That aside, I recently came across the book On the Trail of Genghis Khan: An Epic Journey through the Lands of the Nomads and I just knew I had to pick it up and read it.

I really enjoyed this book. Tim Cope is able to weave a tail that intertwines his adventures today with history and tells an amazing tale of man and horse and describes a relationship so wonderful, I sort of want to get a horse.

As I read, I kept picturing some of the wide open spaces from Marco Polo - which was filmed in Italy and a studio but also in Kazakhstan, where part of Cope's journey takes place.

Somehow thinking of the two books together: one a fictionalized version of history, one of how that history is still alive today mixed in with many facts, seemed to come together in my mind beautifully.

This might be because as I watch Marco Polo, I often wonder what is based on history and what is fiction. Now I have a clearer picture in my mind (it's mostly fiction, but I still love it). The scenery of the show helped the journey of the book come alive in my mind.

It's a perfect pairing I think!

Of course, I'm still hungry for more information. I think I'll dive deeper into learning more about Genghis Khan, Marco Polo, and the time period. But for now, I've got a better understanding!

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Oh Jealousy!

I suppose it's not cool to admit this, but if I'm being frank and honest, I've got a lot of jealousy these days.

I know, I know. I've got more than so many. And I am extremely grateful for all of that - I promise I am.

But still. I'm jealous.

For some reason, this has been the year of fabulous vacations for so many (many of them to Europe!). It's also been the year of kitchen remodels.  And the year of new cars.

And. I'm genuinely happy for my friends. Cruise in Spain - awesome! Trip to Germany - fabulous! Third time to Disney this year - that's wonderful! New kitchen - bet that's fun to cook in now! Blue car - nice choice!

But mixed in with that excitement for them and happiness for them, is some jealousy.

Oh, you just redid your kitchen and got all new appliances? Awesome. Now excuse me while I go cook in my kitchen with the original cabinets and counter-tops from 1950, and a 20 year old fridge and dishwasher.

Wow! Packing for vacation again? That's cool. Oh, no we didn't plan a vacation this year. And it looks like one won't happen next year. And since in three years our oldest will be 18, I'm not sure we'll get a family vacation with the 5 of us again.

Whoa, you're new car is really nice! Lots of features! Where's the button to close the doors on my minivan? Yeah, it's too old for that, you have to actually use the handle and pull it shut!

So, I know what you're thinking now. Um, Brandie, you have a kitchen. And a dishwasher - it may be old but you've got one. And last I checked, that fridge was not empty or at risk of being empty. Neither is the pantry empty or the freezer. Running water in that kitchen? Doing better than too many parts of this world as well.

Oh, you didn't get a vacation this year? Boo-hoo. Some people almost never take vacations. Some people are working two jobs for minimum wage and vacations aren't even an option, assuming of course, we don't count those time periods when the boss suddenly decides to leave them off the schedule for three weeks and let's be honest: that's not a vacation, it means time to panic and maybe look for a third temporary job to help make ends meet.

Tell me again about how your car is old? The car. That works every time you put the key in the ignition? The car you fill up with gas without wondering if you've got enough money in your wallet to pay for it.

The thing is, I know all of this. I know I'm lucky. I want for no necessities in life. What I want for are the extras. The bigger. The better. The newer. These are not things I need. These are not things my children need.

But it's hard to reign in that green-eyed monster at times, and I'm definitely having a hard time with it right now.

And if we're speaking honestly, I'm jealous of people's health. There I said it. I jealous of the people who are healthy and haven't had to deal with health issues. Boy, am I ever jealous.

Which is silly! It's not like someone woke up and was like "Whoa. Totally healthy today. Better go rub that in Brandie's face!"

And of course, there are people out there much more sick than I am, who deal with many more issues than I do, who wish they had what I have. I know this because every so often they just flat out tell me.

It makes me feel all sorts of confused feelings inside. Wait, someone wants what I have? Because, um, I'd gladly give it away if I could. But no, not in return for what you'd trade away.

I'm hesitant to share this. I'm afraid you'll all think I'm sitting over here, stewing in what I don't have, ungrateful for what I do have, and completely shallow.

Sometimes, I might be all of that, but I don't think I am all the time, or even most of the time.

I even tell myself things like "oh, cry me a river Brandie. Or you know, suck it up and move on."

But there it is. I get jealous. I wish I had bigger, better, newer, and more things. I wish life was easy and uncomplicated and nothing wrong ever happened.

I also wish that I'm not alone in this. That you understand where I'm coming from and that at least one of you will nod along and say, yeah, I feel this way too sometimes. I get it. And it's okay to feel this way as long as you don't let take it over.

I hope that's not too big of a wish.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Dragons! Dragons! Everywhere!

*As a reminder, I am part of the  Netflix Streamteam. I am being compensated for sharing with you, but as  always, all thoughts and opinions are my own (or my children's ... they are not coached or told what to say!).
So, not that long ago, we learned that Netflix was coming out with a new show Dragons: Race to the Edge.

I kid you not, the first day it came out, my 9yo watched every episode! Granted, it was another rainy day around these parts (which we've had a lot of this summer). And he loved it!

Not that long after, we got some goodies in the mail from Netflix to celebrate Dragons: Race to the Edge and I'm pretty sure Mister 9 year old thought he was the luckiest kid in the world!

So, he wanted to share about Dragons with you on this blog, but writing isn't exactly his favorite thing to do. It's not even in his top 10 favorite things to do, so we decided to make this little video for you!

I hope you enjoy it and check out Dragons: Race to the Edge!

P.S. At the end of the video he said "Now  I'm off to the sky" and he flew away and I accidentally cut it off! So pretend it's there ;-)  

Thursday, July 23, 2015

How Did I Do It

Unfortunately, I learned recently a friend was diagnosed with cancer.

Instantly, I sent love and prayers. And I reached out. Call me anytime I implored. No, really, I said, anytime. Even if you don't think you should, call.

And he did.

And we talked.

I don't know if I helped. Or if I talked too much. Or if I said the right things. Because sometimes when your head is buzzing and you just feel so helpless to help people you care about, sometimes words come out wrong. Or we don't manage to get all the words out. But I did the best I could. And I tried to say the things I would want to hear in those first few days of diagnosis.

And at one point he asked me, "How did you do this? How did you get through it?"

And I had to bite my lip and hold back the tears.

Because, I don't think I got through it very well. And I don't think I'm getting through it today much better.

I did get through it, sometimes minutes at a time. I got through it because I'm here today. And even the darkest of the darkest days ended.

But, there's still a part of me back there. There's a still a part of me, like a tantruming three year old, stomping my feet, shouting, kicking and screaming, I DON'T WANT TO DO THIS! IT'S NOT FAIR!

Sometimes things are fine. There is smooth sailing. I have a smile on my face. I feel good. Things are good. Cancer sometimes feels like it happened in another life, to another person, or in a dream, or just a weird out-of-body experience.

Other days, not so much. It feels like it was all yesterday. The lingering side effects make me feel broken. I am angry. I feel jaded. There is a chip on my shoulder the size of the sun.

It's not the pretty truth, but it's the truth.

I take those moments as they come. I do my best to roll with them. I dive head-first into projects to distract myself. I focus on the kids. I clean the house a bit more than normal. I avoid blogging (ahem, like I have pretty much this entire July). And when I ready, I sit with those feelings and I try to just let myself feel them as I need to.

But how can I explain all of this to him? I can barely explain it all to myself. I can barely find the words to type here to explain it.

I know, inevitably, someone will read this, think I'm huddling in the corning crying and never getting up and that person (with the best of intentions) will start to worry. It's okay, you don't have to worry. Because that's not what's going on.

Yes, I'm sad.
Yes, I'm angry.
Yes, I'm tired.
Yes, I'm jaded.
Yes, I wish things could be different.

That is all true.

But I also get up each day and do the best that I can on that day.

It's what people do. We get up, we put one foot in front of the other.

Sometimes, I have to take a break and go cry.
Sometimes, I vent about it all to those who will listen.
Sometimes, I go into a dark room and sit there for a few moments.
Sometimes, I think I don't have the energy to do what needs to be done, so I cull to-do lists, I take naps, I lean on friends and family.

And time ticks away. Another day passes. Another day begins. In between it all there is hope; hope for better days; hope that I learn to understand what happened better; hope that I can accept it more than I do today; hope that there will be many, many, many days left to continue this path I'm on; hope that the learning curve becomes less steep with passing time. 

But that feels too big, too small, too cliche, too dark and yet too sugary-sweet all at the same time.

So I tell him, hey, some days will be hard. It's okay. Cry if you have. Be angry if you have to. Let it out. Then just take it a moment at a time. 

It doesn't seem like enough to say. It doesn't seem to adequately fill the space of what is being asked. And yet, there it is. Some days suck. But not all of them. Some days are hard. But not all of them. Some days are great. But not all of them.

Each day ends. Which is great, because it means we get a new one tomorrow. Tomorrow might be hard too. And the next tomorrow might be hard too. And the next tomorrow. But life has taught me they can't all be hard. The glimmer of hope in my eye tells me that fewer days will be hard than not hard. And I cling to that.

I cling to it even today. Even 4 years later. Even through the anger and the pain and the weight of it all.

I cling to it on the days where I feel like I blindly muddling through the day. And on the days when it is smooth sailing. And the days that are somewhere in between the two.

I cling to it even in those moments where it feels like I'm drowning in everything going on, in the middle of the storm, and I can't see that rope I'm clinging to, but I know it's there. And I hold on with all my might.

This is how I did it. This is how I do it. I'm not saying it's the right way to do it. I'm not saying it's the wrong way to do it. But it's how I do it. It works for me. I don't know if his path will look the same as mine. I assume not, but it might look similar.

So I told him that some days will be hard - not in effort to scare or frighten, but behind those words is this thought: some days will be hard and that's okay. You can admit it. You can even embrace it if you need to. You don't need my permission to acknowledge the rocky parts that come along, but I give you permission anyway, because sometimes it's hard to feel the bad parts. Sometimes we think we should smile all the time. Sometimes we think we must be brave all the time. Sometimes we will feel like if we admit it's hard, it's like giving up. But we don't need to smile. We don't need to be brave. We don't need to pretend it's all easy and that we aren't scared or worried or angry. Some days will be hard. And it's okay.

I don't know if that will help him. I do know I wish someone had said that to me 4 years ago. So I said it to him. And if asked by someone else, I say it to them too.

And in the meantime, I will continue to cling to my hope, to take life a moment at a time, and to do the best that I can each day.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Mako Mermaids!

 *As a reminder, I am part of the  Netflix Streamteam. I am being compensated for sharing with you, but as  always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Today I'm bringing you a special post from my 12 year old. She recently watched a Netflix original: Mako Mermaids and really enjoyed it!


Recently a Netflix Original, Mako Mermaids: an H2O adventure, came out with season 2. In celebration of this news, Netflix sent  me an H2O goody-bag full of everything I need for a fun day of pretending I’m at the beach. The goody-bag including fun items like; Bath And Body Works Pure Paradise, Shea & Vitamin E lotion and body wash, Not Your Mother’s Beach Babe Texturizing Sea salt Hair Spray and cream, and Essie, Blue Nail Polish!

The Bath And Body Works Pure Paradise, Shea & Vitamin E lotion and body wash is one of the only Bath and Body Works scents I like, it smells amazing! My sister tries to steal it from me all the time, it’s almost gone, refill please! I love it!

The Not Your Mother’s Beach Babe Texturizing Sea salt Hair Spray and cream makes you get the perfect “just got out of the ocean” curls. I use it all the time. (mother's note: I want to steal it and use it myself!) And, like the lotion and body wash, it’s almost gone. . . if only I could find them in a store or something! The Essie, Blue Nail Polish is beautiful! It’s also the perfect color to match my softball team, Kentucky Wildcats! I also love just wearing it, blue is one of my favorite colors and the sparkle amount is perfect!

The new season for Mako Mermaids is awesome! I love it. Except I’m kind of sad because my two favorite characters left, but they were replaced with people who were just as good. They made tons of startling discoveries and I cannot wait for season 3.  I really hope the Mermaid Council doesn’t find out about this season though (mother's note: she says, if you watch the show, you'll know what she means!)

Miss M really enjoyed watching the show and had a good time! And bonus: season 3 is already out on Netflix too, so it's a good show to binge watch, especially if you are experiencing all the rain we are!