Friday, July 30, 2010

Raw Talent ~ Part 2

As promised here is the remainder of our Engagement pictures from the second half of West Park.

After leaving the lake, tree line and train tracks, we made our way over to the playground and swung on the swings!  I soon realized that swinging really tightens your abs and vowed to walk to a park daily to act like a kid.  (Sadly I haven't followed through with that.)

We then found ourselves laying in the grass for some casual picnic blanket style love.  Following that up with some more rusting fence perspectives... a few of which we acted like little kids in.

We ended our visit with Gus and Yay Yay's shaved ice.  Josh treated all 3 of us to shaved ice and we found ourselves visited by some bees looking for sweet nectar.  Near there we got another few bridge photos including one where the wind puffed my skirt out.  =)  Can you tell that in the first one we were holding our breath because we wanted the shot but found a dead, decomposing, lil squirrel right next to us.

What do you think??  Did we score an amazing photographer or what?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Raw Talent ~ Part 1

To lighten the mood of the last few posts and make this week a lil more bearable, I think we need a little pretty...  So Engagement pictures it is!!!

During our initial wedding planning, we had wanted to hire a professional photographer to capture all the great moments we will be too busy to remember.  Then when we sat down and added up the costs of everything, we soon realized that to have a big wedding on a small budget we were going to have to make a lot of changes including a different reception venue, doing our own flowers and finding an alternative photographer.  As I didn't want to just throw a flyer up at the local school or hunt craigslist, I contacted a friend of mine who's photographs I've admired for some time now.  She's got that kind of talent that is just natural... the kind you are born with... that artistic eye like none other.  Kelly Flanagan Dee isn't a professional photographer although her work could easily throw her into such a career.  As she's currently working on her master's degree, whatever photography jobs she can get help her survive during those months of over-schooled and underpaid.  Since Kelly isn't currently working as a professional photographer, we got a steal on the least after seeing her work for our engagement shoot, we definitely know we got more than our moneys worth here!  The following are my favorite shots from that day.  To see the complete session of over 130 photos please visit Kelly's flickr site.

Early on I told Kelly that I wanted to do pictures in a park setting and soon found the perfect park in Pittsburgh's North Side.  Originally called West Park, now Allegheny Commons, it was built in 1867 to give the city a sanctuary away from a soot filled life.  Although the park has changed over the years, it still serves as a place for city dwellers to get a bit of nature...  We started our shoot on it's manmade Lake Victoria.  This included pictures around the lake and even some in.  Well...only my feet ended up in the lake where the little fishes (small goldfish and catfish) tried to nibble them.  =)

We then moved on to an area next to a crumbling concrete walkway adjacent to the train tracks that divide the park in two.  Here we took some wall, rusting iron fence and tree line photos.

On post Part 2...  we have the other side of the park!  =)

Anyone else find themselves completely enamored with the work of their photographer?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Pharmacy Fail

Until today, I never realized how much I need real Xanax not to be anxious.  Last week the pharmacy substituted the current brand of Xanax with a different generic when they filled my script.  I thought nothing of and figured all would be peachy keen.  Then while talking to my mom on Saturday, she said to be careful because some of our family have problems with generics not working properly.  They may work for a few days but their affect diminishes and it's like cutting the meds cold turkey.  The only generic not to cause a problem is that made by Greenstone.  Why?  Because Greenstone Pharmaceuticals is a subsidiary of Pfiser so it's Xanax is basically the real stuff at generic pricing.

At first I didn't notice any difference.  I felt myself getting slightly more anxious but just assumed it was wedding stress getting to me.  Then yesterday I noticed myself going on a rant about something that I really didn't need to be anxious or rant about.  And today...well that's when the shit hit the fan.  I started to notice the same tightness in my chest, nervousness, near panic attack anxiety like I had two falls ago when I had anxiety induced depression.  But this time the panic attacks were for no good reason.  There wasn't anything much I had to worry about that would make me this upset.  It got to the point that by 3pm, I wanted to cry my eyes out for no good reason.  Only then I knew and was willing to accept that it had to be the meds.  I called my mom who told me what I planned on doing all along which was to call my doc and the pharmacy.  I left a message for the doc and made an appointment...  Then I called the pharmacy to see if they could order in the Greenstone brand of Xanax I had before as this generic felt like I was on nothing at all.  They put in an order for the Greenstone and told me to call after 11am tomorrow to see if they have it in yet...  there was no guarantee it could be ordered but they attempted to.  In the meantime I went digging through my bag and found my pill case.  Sure enough, I had stowed away 1 and a half of the real Xanax.  I took the half and sure enough I started to feel a lovely calming effect about 30 min later.

Now I'm not 100% but I'm not about to cry my eyes out again for no reason.  The odd thing is that the generics failed to work...  As generics are different variations on the original with changes that should not affect is functionality, it is assumed that they should all work.  But as generics are only required by the FDA to be at least 80% similar to the original drug, within that 20% difference there might exist enough alteration that some people will process the drug differently.  Basically I think my family is the type who's body breaks down the drug faster.  This being that the functional part of the drug has to be the same...  So because we process it faster, the same amount as the original lasts a shorter time in our system.  It took a week for me to hit rock bottom as the original xanax was still built up in my system and I only take a small dose but once it was gone it was like I stopped cold turkey.  I've weened myself off of it before so I know it can be done when I'm not anxious but a complete lack of it in my system left me all sorts of nervous.  I even picked some of my cuticles raw.  For you that haven't had this experience, a work friend likened it to quitting smoking cold turkey...  it's not pleasant.  I'm so glad this all will be worked out tomorrow because today after it was out of my system was awful.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Living with a TBI soldier

If you were to meet my future hubs, you wouldn't realize that he had a traumatic brain injury aka TBI.  Everyone that finds out he's suffered one can't believe it because he's not what you would think of a severe brain injury.  Most people would think of ex-pro football stars or people who had terrible accidents... of someone with severe motor skill impairments such as not being able to move limbs properly, speech impairments and other such dexterity related problems.  Or on the other end of the spectrum, you may think of someone with comprehension issues where it may take them longer to understand you, longer to respond back or what they may respond with may be garbled.  Future hubs on the other hand comes off as smart, well spoken, personable with no visible impairments.  What little issues he has, including his daily headaches, he hides very well.  And many times I forget that he has had a TBI.  That is until there is something I've been pestering him to do or done by a certain time.  Each time I remind him he seems to remember and just hasn't gotten to it.  He doesn't let on that he's totally forgotten and so it seems more like he's just been lazy and putting it off.  In return, I get irritated that he hasn't done whatever it is yet but I bottle it up inside as I don't want to be mean.  Then after about the 3rd or 4th time, I snap.  And I let my irritation out demanding that he needs to get this stuff done like he's been saying he would do for weeks now.  He reminds me that it's all well and good to mention the To-Do in general conversation but that he needs it written down to remember as his short term memory is shot.  (Which is true...  he's had the darndest time with school this summer and trying to do the normal memorize and regurgitate facts.)  Him saying this brings to light that as he had been having some rather good months with less memory issues and the normal amount of headaches, we stopped doing the little things that help him remember.

So how do we deal with memory and pain perdicaments...  First we try to manage hubs stress level.  When he starts to show he's been having constant headaches (he's good at hiding them), I do my best to remove added stress.  This is as simple as doing the little daily things he doesn't have time to do or may have forgotten.  I also try to alleviate some of the anxiety that might be causing his stress by using my scientific rationality to point out why not to be anxious.  I bring up the idea of running to get a coffee as caffeine helps to rid him of his headaches, even if it keeps him up all night.  When more relaxation is needed a nice little back scratch can soothe him to sleep and help decrease the headache by calming him and reducing his blood pressure.  And when all else fails, he's looking down right awful and has maxed out his pain meds for the day, I suggest the option of going to the ER for IV pain meds.  Luckily we only had to do that once right after we moved and he ran out of his pain meds.

For the memory issues, it's a little more tricky.  This being that I never know when he's forgotten something or when he's remembered.  He keeps track of his appointments, important days and random To-Dos on his phone that doubles as a PDA.  When there is something I need him to do around the house, I ask him to do it then nag him a bit if it's been several days and he still hasn't done it.  If I remember, writing it on the To-Do white board for him usually does the trick.  But often times when he's having a good short term memory month, I tend to just tell him things with the hope that it will sink in.  Speaking of good short term memory months... there are some weeks and months where I tell him something and he remembers without problem.  There are others where I can tell him everyday and he forgets.  Those months where he remembers, I tend to feel bad for the nagging but those that he's extremely forgetful, it's the only way.  Another thing that has improved him memory a bit is having a good routene.  The more routine his life has, the more he can remember day to day happenings.  He will still mix up what day we did certain things on but everyone does that from time to time.

In addition to little lists... communication seems to be key.  Him trying to be the strong guy and not let in that he's forgetting or having headaches often makes him come off as not caring or even rude when he gets grumpy when I ask him to help me with something.  Trying to get him to let out his inner feelings is hard enough as he's a guy but add the tough guy army complex to that and it's even harder.  But if I manage to convince him to be more open when he's forgotten to do something for the 3rd or 4th time such as call his dad for invite addresses, then I won't get all irritated and pissed thinking he's being lazy...  I'll leave him a note on the white board instead.  Or if he tells me he has a headache and just needs to rest, then I won't ask him to do things like gluing envelope liners that night but rather ask him to do it the next day.  That's a much better alternative than having him grumble and make faces when I ask him... kind like a kid not wanting to do their chores.  This being said, so far his ability to be open to me varies.  Often times he won't tell me things because I'm generally stressed and he doesn't want to make it worse.  But stressed is just me and by not telling me, he makes it worse.  This being that a small insignificant issue can become a drama after the 5th time.  Or the fact that when he's all grumbly and mean while doing something it makes me feel like crap for asking him to do it.  Hopefully us getting better with communication and the pre-wedding counseling the rev is gonna have us do will help us iron out the lack of talking.

So those are just a few ways we attempt to deal with the complications of a TBI when they arise.  Hopefully we can get a better routine down so that we both tend to be a positive influence in each other's lives rather than a hinderance.  =)  Any other suggestions to help someone suffering from the effects of a TBI?  or rather maybe ways to help short term memory?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Labor of Love

As most of the invites have been sent out and received by now, I will now give you the big reveal of the invitation suite!  At times a labor of love... at times the bane of my existence!  I've heard nothing but glowing comments from friends and family that make me grin ear to ear...

Click on images for larger view

Ready for addressing...
Invites complete with stamps.  We chose to go with the Shelter Animals as it supports our love of rescuing strays.  (Heck we have 4 cats now and the only thing keeping us from bringing home more is the house being too small.)

Out of the envelope....  
The invites are held together with a quote band.  The band of the paper is handmade and tissue paper thin.  The quote is a verse from the Beatles' "Real Love" and is Gocco printed in gold on paper stamped with different color stamp pads. (Future hubs is a huge Beatles fan so it was only fitting we used a Beatles quote)

Envelope Details...  
Gocco gold/yellow sunflower details, Gocco gold return address, craft punched envelope liners

Invite Details...  
Two Stardream card stock sheets with all the important details.

The green card stock contains the wedding information on the gold top sheet that features a bunch of hand-drawn gocco sunflowers.  The middle white sheet has all the important information about the reception.  All 3 are held together with pink eyelets and finished with a pink and white ribbon bow.

The brown cardstock contains the RSVP, registry information and a Map (that I made in 5 hrs using Photoshop).  Yes as you can see we did not have paper RSVPs.  To respond guests are given 3 options...  1. Call our home phone.  2. Email us.  3.  Use a link to jump to an evite for an electronic RSVP.  Two additional sheets of paper cut using a special shaped rotary blade contain additional info.  The first sheet has directions to the wedding site on the front and directions to the reception site on the back.  The second sheet contains additional notes such as telling our guests to bring their favorite picnic blanket or lawn chair for the wedding as we are doing a rather informal park wedding.

So that's our wedding invite suite.  What do you think of it?
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