It Feels Like Home

A Boston girl goes Hollywood then chucks it away for a life in OZ… these are my adventures and general musings.

Gobble, Gobble November 27, 2008

Filed under: Life — Holly @ 11:15 am
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Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Sister arrived safe and sound last night from NYC. After a very late night, we awoke early and the hustle and bustle of Thanksgiving Day has begun. We are watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade as we buzz around the kitchen and our fantasy football teams are all in order as we gear up for a long day of football watching.

Over night, we did a brine for the Turkey, courtesy of Alton Brown, and plan on following the recipe for roasting. I only hope it ends up looking very similar to the picture on the left. We of course have all the fixings- two kids of sweet potatoes (mashed with marshmallows, and sliced with pecans & apples), two kinds of stuffing (traditional, and chestnut & sausage), mashed potatoes, green beans, peas, gravy with pearl onions, rolls, cranberry relish, a modified ambrosia and heaps of wine. I should also mention, we LOVE Thanksgiving day leftovers- delish! There should be plenty to go around for a few days.

On my other blog I mentioned some things I am thankful for so I will continue here with just a few items, in no particular order. I am thankful for:

My life,

Family, including Hubby (has to be stated twice),

Friends- old and new,

Hubby’s job,

Life’s essentials- food, shelter and clothing,

Amazing life opportunities,

Change,

The future,

Dreams,

Memories,

Health insurance,

More money than bills,

Our service men and women,

Modern medicine,

The Earth,

Protestors marching,

Causes,

Volunteers,

and

The internet and all its wisdom.

I could go on and on but really I am just thankful to be alive and with loved ones. Happy Thanksgiving to all.

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NOLA November 25, 2008

About a month ago, Hubby and I made our first trip to New Orleans. I have to say that we both really loved the city. From first stepping foot in New Orleans, it’s obvious it’s a city rich in history, mystique and charm. You can easily see and experience the Creole and Cajun influences and traditions, although, Creole is probably more prevalent. The Big Easy is definitely a unique blend of cultures and heritage that make up this lively city. I can’t wait to go back, again.

Some of the highlights from our trip:

We had a few rides on the St. Charles Street car and saw the gorgeous mansions running along the avenue. We hopped off and ventured around for a self-guided walking tour of the Garden District to see more old yet beautiful Victorian mansions and Lafayette Cemetery. For some yummy grub, we headed uptown.

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During the day, we checked out the French Quarter’s shops, especially the Voodoo ones, and had a few beers while we walked (got to love public alcohol consumption). We had the most delicious dinner at NOLA and R.E.M. was dinning at a nearby table- apparently in town for a concert. Following dinner, we went to a jazz club which had playing a fantastic three piece jazz ensemble. Bourbon Street was hopping at night with people ready to party for Halloween.

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A day later and a stroll over to Jackson Square yielded a nice view of St. Louis Cathedral and the Mississippi River followed by indulging in some delicious beignets.

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One day we ventured out of the city for a swamp tour and to visit some old plantations. We opted to visit a Creole plantation, Laura, and learned about the Creole family and the history of the plantation. They had a lot of preserved artifacts from the family and the slaves who worked the plantation.

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One of my favorite things we did while in NOLA was a swamp tour on an airboat- like the ones in the everglades. Those things can go fast and they move without much water. We saw heaps of gators, turtles and birds. The bayou was actually quite pretty and had such unique trees with the hanging moss- it really was quite magical.

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On our last day, we wanted to see some of the areas ravished by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. We headed to the Lower 9th Ward and we saw the devastation immediately. The area was like a ghost town- really depressed and shattered. It was a sad sight but more so because after three years Katrina wrecked havoc, our government has done very little to help this area and it’s people. Street after street, block after block, homes are destroyed and uninhabitable. For those who have returned, many are just trying to piece together their home. There was an occasional sign for Habitat for Humanity or some missionary charity working on various housing sites but it will be such a long time before this area is revitalized.

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We did see some of the green homes Brad Pitt’s charity, Make It Right Foundation, has been building. I’ve seen them on the TV and for some reason was led to believe there were a lot of them. Unfortunately, seeing them in person revealed there are only six green homes built. The foundation has raised funds for about 85 homes with the hopes of ultimately reaching 150 homes. I’m happy there’s a foundation focused on rebuilding the Lower 9th Ward, but unfortunately, I suspect it will be many years before they are all completed.

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Friends Asking Friends November 24, 2008

Dear Family and Friends,

I’m writing today in hopes of raising awareness and support for a cause very close to my family. As many of you know, my father has Lewy Body Dementia (LBD). LBD is a progressive brain disease and the second leading cause of degenerative dementia in the elderly. It is debilitating and incurable.

The diagnosis of Lewy Body Dementia creates fear and loneliness. The fear comes from dealing with a disease that very few people, even health professionals, know about. The loneliness comes later – when difficult decisions need to be made and it’s not clear where to find help.

LBD is commonly misdiagnosed as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s. It is possible you know someone with LBD who wasn’t diagnosed correctly or not at all. And, this can potentially cause irreparable harm if the wrong medications are taken.

For the five years since its founding, the Lewy Body Dementia Association (LBDA) has provided comprehensive information, education and support for the more than 1.5 million women and men affected by this staggering disease.

LBDA is a trusted resource for families, for caregivers and for the medical community. On average, more than 10,000 people visit the LBDA web site each month looking for information and connection to those with similar needs and concerns. Through their web site, helpline, newsletters, symposia, Scientific Advisory Council, local support groups, and discussions with medical professionals, the LBDA is building awareness that help is available for those struggling with this relatively unknown, yet common, disease.

My purpose in writing is to let you know that LBDA needs our help. Please join me in supporting the Lewy Body Dementia Association, which provides much needed services to families dealing with Lewy body dementia (LBD). So, I am asking you to join me during this season of thanksgiving in supporting this extraordinary organization.

Providing support is easy. You may contribute online by clicking HERE. I hope you choose to make a donation to this young and growing organization. But at the very least, visit their WEBSITE to learn about Lewy Body Dementia and the caring, thoughtful resources available to families impacted by this disease.

With much appreciation and thanks for your support,
Holly

 

Care For The Family Caregiver November 20, 2008

I posted the below entry on my other blog, Lewy Body Dementia, but I believe it deserves double the attention. Please, if you know a family caregiver, take some time to do something nice for them. Family caregiving is one of the most difficult and under-appreciated job out there.

The following article was originally written for DivineCaroline. I hope it’s beneficial to others and raises awareness for Lewy Body Dementia and National Family Caregivers Month. Click on the bold links to find out more information.


November 2008

Care For The Family Caregivers

Earlier this year, my father was diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia. As the disease progresses, my mother struggles more and more to care for him. Dad, who used to be fiercely independent, now relies upon her for nearly everything. Everyday, mom helps dad get out of bed, bathe, and dress. She prepares all of his meals, takes him to doctor visits, and administers his medication—all while balancing work demands and other everyday responsibilities. As dad’s intellectual and physical abilities continue to deteriorate, his caregiving promises to become even more exhausting and frustrating.

Every year, over 50 million unpaid family caregivers across the country provide care for chronically ill, aged, or disabled spouses, parents, other family members or friends. Chances are you have a friend or family member like my mom, struggling to care for a family member in need. To honor and recognize those selfless caregivers as well as educate the public about caregiving, November has been declared National Family Caregivers Month. Please take this time to recognize the hard work and sacrifice of those family caregivers in your life.

Here are a few easy ways to show appreciation and support:

Recognition
During the course of caregiving, there are times when the caregiver experiences feelings of isolation and loneliness. Letting the caregiver know you are thinking of them can make a significant difference in their overall well-being. Simply asking the caregiver how they are doing will let them know you care about them. A friendly visit or a phone call can lighten the caregiver’s spirits. Sending a card, flowers, or a gift basket will improve the caregiver’s day.

Time
Caregivers need time off from their caregiving responsibilities to relieve stress and prevent burnout. Offering a few hours of your time to stay with the caregiver’s loved one will provide respite and give the caregiver time to re-energize. If the caregiver has children, offer to be backup childcare or provide carpooling when needed. Bringing dinner, running errands or providing transportation to an appointment will give the caregiver a break from the daily run around. Helping with household chores the caregiver may find difficult or time consuming will give them more time to relax.

Thoughtful Gestures
Acts of kindness can have a positive impact on the caregiver and provide great assistance. Sending a gift certificate for their favorite take-out restaurant, the grocery store, or drug store can help ease the caregiver’s financial strains. Soothing music or an interesting novel can help the caregiver reduce their stress levels and sleep better at night. If you’re creative or crafty, consider giving something personal like a hand written poem, painting, or knitting an afghan.

If you have a friend or family member who is currently a caregiver, take this opportunity to recognize their efforts and give them a break from the stress and strains that come with providing care.

 

I’m a Turkey Trotter November 18, 2008

Filed under: Life — Holly @ 8:00 am
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Those who personally know me, know I am not a fan of running. I have never liked it. If anyone asks me to go for a run, I will usually come up with every excuse in the book not to run. I’ll gladly head to the gym with you to take a fitness class or exercise on a cross trainer, the stair master, or my favorite machine, an elliptical, but running, I cannot do.

Growing up, Sister and I played just about every sport- basketball, soccer, field hockey, softball, karate, swimming, dance and so forth. We were busy kids. Eventually, I tended to like the sports that didn’t require all out sprints for an hour while Sister loved anything to do with running. As we got older we couldn’t do it all and so I picked dance and swimming. Sister picked dance, field hockey and track and field. What can I say… Sister was born an athlete and track star. She was so good she even won a track scholarship to college, running Division one. So, not only was Sister given the running/athletic genes but she also got the skinny genes. Me, well, I was overlooked in both of those departments.

Now that I am 30, I find myself in the worst shape of my life and it’s time to change it. I know my recent demise is because of stress, indulging in too much “welcome back to America” food and alcohol, and not going to the gym. At last, I’m tired of it and it’s time again to work on myself. I’ve decided I need to kick-start my arse in to high gear so I’ve signed up to do a 5K turkey trot on Thanksgiving day. This will be my first race, ever. Now, a 5K might not seem difficult to many, but to me it seems like an impossible feat. The race is just around the corner so I’m not expecting miracles. My only goal is to cross the finish line. I know I will not be able to run the entire thing and I am okay with that… remember, I am not in shape. I am training for it, albeit a little late. I’ve been running/walking twice a day, 1.5 miles each time. I switch between a run/walk because there is just no way I can run one mile straight never mind three. So, I will do my best and see how it goes. Best of all, I have my husband and sister joining me for the big event so it’s a win-win.

I’m already looking ahead and see there is another 5K in the middle of December for the Desert Nature Conservancy so maybe by then I’ll be in much better shape to actually run three miles.

Wish me luck!

In other news, Sister has booked her airline ticket for Thanksgiving! She’ll be here in just one week- yippee! I can’t tell you how happy this makes me. 🙂

 

Homecoming November 17, 2008

Homecoming… a good reason to take a drive to South Central, LA or as I like to refer to it as USC land and home.

Paul and I went to our first ‘SC homecoming since our senior year at USC. It felt weird being back at the scene of the crime. If it hadn’t been for ‘SC we may never be together. Yes, I’m brainwashed and this is what the Trojan family tells me. It was fun being back on campus and reminiscing about the old days and all the fun memories. Ah, those carefree days when the whole world was before us and we could be anything and do anything. It’s interesting to compare where we are in our lives today to what we thought we’d be when we were getting our education. If I had only known then what I know now.

Anyway, back to the football madness and homecoming that is ‘SC. Homecoming is like a big family reunion and everyone swells with school pride. There are over one hundred thousand alumni who come to campus from all over to tailgate and cheer on our boys and Petey. Despite the mass amounts of people, you run in to old friends, drink a few beers with new friends and partake in old traditions like kicking the flag pole for good luck and yelling the SO CAL spell out.  There truly is nothing like an ‘SC homecoming… we do it right, if I say so myself.

After running around campus and trying to stay dry from the freak rain storm that tried to rain on our parade, Paul and I made our way to the Coliseum and took our seats. Lucky us, we were the second to last row from the top of the stadium. Do you know now many stairs that is… too many to count. Needless to say, we got our exercise but we were rewarded with a beautiful view of the Hollywood sign and the LA skyline, as well as a bird’s eye view of the entire stadium.

Going in to the game, it was given that ‘SC was going to destroy the Washington Huskies… and, we did. The final score was 56-0. Poor huskies never had a chance. After staying until the end of the third quarter, we decided it was time to hit the road. On our return to the small back alley abortion clinic parking lot on some shady side street, we took bets on whether our car was going to be there or not… luckily, it was there. I love South Central. Fight On!

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Pats in SD November 14, 2008

A few weeks back, Paul and I drove south for the big rematch of the San Diego Chargers v. New England Patriots. It was my first Pats game, ever. I know, I lived so close to Foxborough Stadium and never went. And yes, I still refer to it as Foxborough Stadium just as I refer to other Boston venues as Great Woods, Boston Garden and so forth. Old habits die hard, eh?

Thanks to ebay, I won 40 yard line, 9th row seats on the Chargers side. We were so freakin’ close to the field it was unreal… surrounded by Charger fans nonetheless, but so close. The seats were great, unfortunately, the game was not. The Pats were rubbish and never had a chance. The final score was 30-10 and I chalked up the $25 in parking, $200 tickets, $50 in gas and $50 in food & bev to having a good time even if it was money down the drain. The boys let me down, but I guess I should have known better… no Brady and the Pats haven’t won in San Diego since 1996. At least we were able to quickly catch up with a fellow Boston supporter and friend, Casey, before cutting our losses and bailing out of the game early. I guess I’ll just have to head back to Boston and give the boys a go in their own stadium. My redemption shall come… one day.

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