Thursday, August 11, 2016

Suicide Squad, a pleasant surprise!

My verdict is officially in. Suicide Squad: all 20 fingers and toes way, way up, and I am prepared to go to the mats on that. 

The characters I thought I would have issues with ended up being my favorites. The lack-of-mask-wearing issue with Deadshot ended up not being an issue after all, for me. I was glad. There's a quote that's surprisingly self-aware, where he talks about putting on the mask. I shivered. Rarely do actors disappear for me, as in all I'm seeing is the character they're portraying, but in this film? Will Smith who? No no, that's my old buddy Floyd up there on that screen. I was worried about Enchantress, because the trailer didn't instill confidence in her for me, but I really ended up liking Cara Delevingne for the role. I do still have some serious issues with the treatment of Slipknot, Katana, and El Diablo that basically boil down to under-utilization of characters who deserve better and/or plot decisions I disagree with and/or back story errors. Especially Slipknot. Gotta be vague on that, because spoilers, but if you're not a diehard comic nerd, it's not even remotely going to affect your experience with them. In fact, I'll bet it inspires a trip to your local comic store to grab a book and learn more about who they are. And you'll love them, I promise. 

The thing I REALLY loved wasn't even, necessarily, precisely, comic related. They came at the Joker/Harley dynamic in a way I COMPLETELY did not expect, and the abnormal psych nerd in me is *geeking out* about it. Seriously, ask John. I haven't shut up about it for two days. There's a relatively easy to miss complexity to their relationship that underscores all of the scenes they share. The female-identifying-comic-book-nerd in me was also really stoked to see the depth they gave Harley in this film as well. She's not just a beautiful face with a whacked out brain who smashes stuff in tiny shorts (bedazzled underpants?) and a crop top. She's all that AND more. It is super hard not to spoiler, so if you've seen it and want to talk about this aspect, hit me up. I could go on about it for *hours*. 

I do wish DC had gone the route Marvel took, in setting up these characters with standalone movies before plunking them into an ensemble film. If you don't already know and love these guys, know their stories, know their motivations, it's easy to get overwhelmed with the pace. I think they may have been trying to straddle that awkward middle place where they could pull people from both camps (the hardcore fans and the "oh look a comic movie!" fans) and it's a bit problematic. The pace is *snap* *snap* *snap* fast in some ways and a little draggy in others. A friend suggested in our conversation that it moves like a comic. Vignettes, action, plot, it all happens fast and bold and in your face - in technicolor. It's a LOT to digest in one sitting. I have a feeling I'm going to watch it a few times to really absorb it... Just like I do with a physical comic book. I like this! 

All in all, I want to echo Kevin Smith's sentiments from his excellent review on his YouTube channel. This feels *young*. Not like a kid movie (please, for the love of all that is holy DO NOT take your children to this movie. This is a grownup film with a lot of violence. It's a bad-guy film, guys.) but full of this fun, youthful, badass energy. I left the theatre feeling energized. It made me want to hit the gym and take an aerial yoga class and be a bigger, better, badassier version of myself. It made me want to go out and buy more DC books. It made me want to cheer on the leagues of new fans that will come from this film. All in all, it was a great feeling. 

So yes. People are being harsh in their reviews. People didn't like it... But I think there's a lot of good in this movie, and I want to see a heck of a lot more of these characters on the big screen. So, from me? 10/10 will watch again, will buy on release day, will put on the shelf among my favorite comic movies. And DCEU? Way to finally make me a believer... And that's coming from a ride-or-die Marvel girl. 

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Thoughts from the chair beside the sickbed...

As John​ and I nurse our 2 year old son through a particularly nasty round of Hand, Foot, and Mouth disease, a viral infection for which there is no vaccine, I have an awful lot of feelings.

Firstly, it is horrible to watch my baby in this much pain. Adults who've gone through HFM say the pain is worse than shingles... and watching him, I fully believe that. He is currently half-asleep, moaning the saddest little moan, "Mommy? Daddy? Owwie. Hurt." over and over again.  There is no comforting him.  I can't pick him up, it hurts his blisters. I can rub his back, but that only comforts him for a moment. I can put a zinc oxide barrier cream on his bum, but he still winces every time I change him. (Really, they should call it Hand, Foot, Mouth and Bum... or in Remy's case, Hand, Foot, Mouth, Bum, Face, Arms, Legs, Belly because there seems to be no real boundary that these beastly blisters will not cross.) The Tylenol and Ibuprofen the doctor instructed we give him don't really do much but they bring his fever down below 103 F so that the chills and aches are a little less awful.

Secondly, I wish there were a vaccine for HFM, or more specifically, the various Coxsackie viruses that cause HFM. If there were, I'd get my kids vaccinated in a heartbeat.  Then they'd *never* have to go through this, and I wouldn't be worried that their friends were at risk of picking it up from them.  As it is, Remy's entire daycare is now on alert and there are such little babies there. I will worry each moment about them until we're in the clear again.

Thirdly, while dealing with this with my sweet son, I cannot help but be angry that people willfully choose not to vaccinate against the communicable diseases that we CAN prevent. We're blessed to have a healthy enough child that he should recover quickly... this time.  If this were a more respiratory oriented illness, John and I would likely be sleeping in shifts and monitoring Remy's O2 sats and respiration. Why?  Because he has a slightly more narrow than normal airway and any inflammation puts him at risk of low blood oxygen levels.  He looks healthy! You'd never know he had somewhat problematic anatomy that puts him at risk!  But every single day, and every single time he gets a sniffle, we worry that THIS could be the illness that lands him back in the hospital. There are thousands of kids just like him, and thousands more battling cancers, or autoimmune disorders, or with suppressed immune systems, and we ALL rely on the magic of community-immunity or "herd" immunity to keep our families safe.

I've heard all the arguments of course... I understand why people don't want to vaccinate.  It actually has very little to do with science and everything to do with wanting to protect our children.  My reasons for vaccinating, and those with reasons NOT to vaccinate are the same. It all boils down to a very basic, "I want to keep my kid safe."  The problem isn't who is right or who is wrong anymore.  The problem is now whether or not we will see these once nearly eradicated diseases make a devastating return.  I hope, for the safety of us all, that we don't have to experience mass casualties in order to listen to peer-reviewed science and reason. I hope that we don't have to spend more time on the respiratory floor of a children's hospital.  I hope other families don't have to spend time there either.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015


Good news, GREAT news, bad news in the Parmenter family. We had Maddie's 3.5 year old allergy testing today. It was one surprising appointment, lemme tell ya. We were testing for peanut and tree nut allergies, and dogs as well. Let me give you a little back story. A little before she was 18 months, we discovered that Maddie was very allergic to cats... And eggs. We went to that appointment to find a source for her asthma. It was the cat, and her allergist followed a hunch and tested for an egg allergy. He was right. We were shocked. Now, as a kid with an anaphylactic egg allergy, she is at a higher statistical risk for serious peanut and tree nut allergies. Her awesome allergist, who we love to pieces, had us keep her away from peanuts and tree nuts completely, with the plan to test between the age of three and four for allergies to them. The research suggests that kids like Maddie (those with serious allergic reactions to eggs and milk) when kept from exposure to peanuts and tree nuts until this age, may not develop an allergy to them. If at this age they test positive for that allergy, they will have that allergy for life. If not, there's basically no chance they'll develop one. So, essentially, we've been holding our breath and watching every crumb that goes into her mouth for two years now. 

Now! Good, GREAT, baaaaaad...

First, the good news: Maddie is NOT allergic to peanuts (yay!!), almonds, walnuts, or pecans. Nor is she allergic to dogs. Hooray!! 

The potential dog allergy was all Maddie could think or talk about today. "Mom? I cannot be allergic to dogs. I love Luna too much. Luna is kind to me and gives me kisses. I cannot be allergic to Luna." I assured her, repeatedly, that whatever happened today she and Luna could still FaceTime. Unsurprisingly, that didn't soothe her worries. At least I tried. 

Hearing your three-year-old repeatedly articulating the fear of losing her beloved best-furry-cousin-friend is heart wrenching. She brought up Luna to every single person at the clinic. The front desk ladies, the nurse, the doctor, the sweet elderly woman who stood next to us in the waiting room... Everyone. I kept explaining, "Luna is her aunt and uncle's puppy. They have a bond." Trying really hard not to lose my composure, and praying that God would let her keep dogs... Her cat allergy diagnosis is still a sore spot in her tender heart. This girl... She loves animals. I'm so glad we didn't lose dogs today. 

Now, the GREAT news: Maddie's egg allergy is already non-reactive to the skin prick test. We knew she'd grow out of it, but this is WAY earlier than any of us (even her doctor!) expected. We're still under strict precautions, because she's had allergic reactions (hives around the mouth and a tummy ache when she had an accidental exposure) as recently as last month, but it makes it less of a panic overall. Hooray!!

Finally, the bad news: we learned today that Maddie has an allergy to cashews and pistachios. The skin reaction was massive (at least in my mom opinion anyway). I did my level, mama-bear best not to cry while I watched it blow up like a balloon. I am really proud that I maintained my calm, that was hard to do. 

Guys, having a skin-prick allergy test is awful when you're three. The poking is awful, it is soooo itchy, and then it just burns there for 15 minutes and nobody will bring you a bandaid, not even when you're asking as politely as you can.  

I'm usually quite stoic when my kids have procedures done. I have kids with unique health struggles, so they've had more procedures than most kids their ages. We're all fairly used to being poked, prodded, and uncomfortable. Today though? Today was a special kind of hard. 

Today I had to hold my tiny little girl, as she sobbed, while the nurse poked her over, and over, and over again. Eight times. It doesn't seem like a lot, but it was an agonizingly large number today. I had to keep her hands from shoving the little plastic pokey-ma-bobber away... Even when that's all I wanted to do myself. I teared up a few times, but tried so hard not to let her see. She was freaked out enough, she didn't need her anchor, me, to lose it. So I haven't lost it... Yet. I have a feeling when I calm down from the day, the tears will finally catch up with me. 

All in all, I am overwhelmed with gratitude. Our news today was mainly great news. When it comes to things to be allergic too, cashews and pistachios aren't nearly as common of ingredients as the other tree nuts or peanuts. We didn't have to cut dogs out of her life. She even got bandaids finally, her sweet allergist put them on himself (because he's awesome). He also gave her a sucker, and the nurse brought her two stickers. I think seeing her so sad was hard on all of us. She was so brave. 

Now, we move forward. She gets a brand new set of Epi-Pens, to be kept in her classroom at school and carried along on field trips. She gets another set for home, to be carried by the adult in closest proximity/primary care of her at all times. We assume that any initial exposure to cashews or pistachios would result in a minor reaction... But we don't know. We have to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. We've now had four Epi-Pens expire unused. I'd like to keep that number growing... I hope we never have to use one. We know how, and they'll always be close at hand... But it would be so awesome if we never had to use one. I don't even mind paying for them and having them "go to waste". Totally cool with that! Waste them all, I say. 

So here we are. It's no longer a hypothetical. We know her allergies. Now, we just have to teach her how to pronounce "cashew" and "pistachio." So far, they both sound like "kiss-tash-yee-yohs" and she leads with, "I'm not allergic to dogs and peanuts!" Which is precious. In time, she'll nail it.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

How I keep (somewhat) sane...

I'd like to introduce you to one of my bestest friends in the entire world:

This is my Erin Condren Life Planner. I'm not exaggerating when I say that I would be a mess without it. John gave me my first one as a birthday gift last year (because the man gets me, people) and this is technically next year's planner. I went ahead and bought the 18-month, because I wanted the extra space, so it has the end of this year AND next year. July 2015 - December 2016. Brilliant. 

If you have a Pinterest, Instagram, or Facebook account, or maybe you read blogs or are involved in online "mommy groups", you've probably heard people obsessing over the Life Planner (or ECLP for those in the know) for a few years now. The planner is about $50 (comparable to printing your own at home or at Staples, but much better quality) and has weekly layouts and monthly calendar pages, a notes section, and a handy little pocket and zipper pouch. Nobody can deny that the ECLP is a functional planner, but the real attraction for most devotees is that Erin Condren is all about style. 

The Life Planner is pretty darn customizable, all things considered. In fact, an entire cottage industry has sprung up with folks designing and creating stickers and planner accessories. For example, this is a set of fun stickers my BFF sent me:

In honor of Harry Potter's birthday, I used them the week of July, 31st. This year's planner leaves the columns untitled so that you can customize them
As you need. I really liked the previous years' "morning, day, night" titles, so that's what my stickers say. I've seen people use them for kids' appointments/scheduling, home tasks, and personal tasks, or etsy stores, blogs, pets, work, any number of things. The neat thing about having them blank is that they can change as the day, week, or month changes. Clever!

The other thing I really like about my ECLP is that the month blocks are big enough that I can really write all the event info in them. 

I purposefully used a month that I haven't written in yet (this is the internet, y'all don't need to know when I'm going to be doing what) but I usually will jot down my appointments with a contact phone number in case I need to call for any reason. I also list my goals along the side column, or what bills need to be paid, or even what projects I'm working on. Again, customization is awesome. 

The Life Planner is chock-full of bright colors, fun graphic elements and inspirational quotes. Before each month, there's a new quote. Here's the quote for August:

I have plans to crop the quotes and put them up in my home office when this year's planner is done. They're fun! 

I love my Erin Condren Life Planner, more than any other planner I've used in the last several years. I'm an office supplies and organizing dork, and always have been, so I have tried many planners... Not a single one of them has worked for me like the ECLP does. I work best with vertical columns since I think of my day in three sections: before lunch, during nap time, and after nap time. Mostly that's because I have a toddler and a preschooler, but when I was in college it was: morning classes, afternoon classes, work/study time. In high school: before school, during school, after school. When I saw the Erin Condren Life Planner was set up that way, I was sold. I know that not everybody works that way, and the Life Planner comes in a horizontal format too for those who prefer that style. 

All in all, the Erin Condren Life Planner is a solid organizational tool. I'm glad I have mine. I recommend them highly! You can find them at along with notebooks, stationery, and all sorts of awesome. 

****Disclaimer type blurb****
Nobody paid me or perked me to create this post. If they had, I would let you know right up front because that kind of stuff is important to me. The fact of the matter is, I just really like this planner. If you want one, and you want to save $10 on your order, you can always use my referral code. I get a thank you from Erin Condren, you get a thank you for making your first purchase, everybody goes home happy. But again, the review? All my own feelings and not influenced by anything.

Friday, July 17, 2015

The every-year-or-so update...

I am so good at making promises... I'm an expert promise maker! I craft these beautiful plans, hopes, dreams, goals... but then I just don't follow through. That's actually been an issue my whole life.  I bet you're not shocked. ;-)

Here's the thing: I really *meant* to be blogging for the last two years. I meant to blog all the cute things my children were doing and saying, I meant to be sharing our lives online in a way that family and friends could keep up, I meant to be using my blog as a platform to tell my own story.  I really did mean to!  Life is a funny animal you guys. I totally typed "aminal" and I almost left it. Aminal. The best childhood mispronunciation ever. Like "amemnomee" instead of anemone. So cute, but I digress!  I meant to. I always "mean to" and never DO. It's a sickness. I'm going to try to change that, and the first step is writing a new blog post.

I'm sitting here in my parents' house in Oregon, with a 20 month old little boy on my lap.  He's using my phone to watch Jake and the Neverland Pirates so that I can type this post.  He has a cold, and he's really enjoying the extra lap time today.  Don't let it fool you, lap time is NOT his idea of a good time. The only reason he's parking here right now is because he's coughing a lot and is tired... well, that and there's Jake.  I would reeeeally like to be working towards completing my math course for school, but that is completely impossible with a 20 month old around. Especially when said 20 month old is quite honestly into everything.  EVERYTHING.  So, for now, I do my schoolwork when they're sleeping or when my family (mom, dad, brother, mom-in-law, and husband) are gracious enough to drop everything they need to do and watch our children.  It's a serious investment of time.

I'm going to school to complete my undergrad, a dual degree in elementary education and special education. It's an online school, so I will have to be licensed in Utah and then apply for an Oregon teacher's license. It is what it is, but at least I'm able to finish school online!  So very grateful for that, thank you technology!  I'm hoping to be finished sometime within the next three years. I could finish faster, I have that option... but I think that three years is good. I will also need to get my masters, and I'm considering getting that in secondary science ed. We'll see, I have a ways to go before I need to make that decision.

John is working toward getting school in play again as well.  He's going to enroll in a CNA program this fall and begin working as a CNA so that he can apply to nursing school within the next year or so.  He really wants to get through school, and I'm so proud of him for that. I think we both agree that non-traditional studenthood is rough. We really should have done this years ago, and before we had kids. I'm very proud of us for doing it at all at this point.

The kids are growing fast. Maddie is 3, Remy is 20 months... they're pretty typical kids, but they're both sharp as tacks. Maddie picks up on everything!  She has a pretty broad vocabulary, more words than most 4 year olds, and can carry on pretty involved conversations when she stays on task. Remy is still working on words, but has quite an arm!  He can throw fast, hard, and far. It's both awesome and awful... ask me about the time he through a piece of chicken into my mouth in mid-sentence at the dinner table. Ha!

At any rate... we're still here. We're still growing, and we're still working towards goals.  I do hope to blog more, but we'll have to see what happens.