The “Me Before You” Controversy

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So I’m sure by now, you’ve all been hearing about the amazingness that is Me Before You. What started as an incredible book, has become a highly anticipated movie that finally hit the box office this past weekend. Despite my love and adoration for the book, though, a disgusting barrage of germs and sickness has kept me homebound and unable to experience the film for myself quite yet. Take that as a PSA and keep in mind that this post may be slightly uninformed. But anyways…here we go.

I have a huge distaste for spoilers, so no worries; this post will not give anything away. Suffice it to say, however, the male lead in this book/film pairing is a wheelchair-bound quadriplegic who has a very negative point of view on his injury. This has been striking a lot nerves amongst wheelchair users and other disabled individuals. They’re concern over the book’s message is that it seems to say that this group of people can’t possibly live happy, fulfilling lives. That an injury, such as the one suffered by the man in the story, leaves you with nothing to look forward to.

Being that I can look at the situation with a touch of personal experience, I thought I’d offer up my own perspective.

This July will be almost eight years since my husband was paralyzed from the waist down. While his injury was not as bad as the one in the book, it still changed our lives forever. Our day to day experiences are now riddled with concerns over steps, elevators, tight spaces, ground material, and an array of other issues. But does this make our life any better or worse than another person’s? I don’t think so.

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With a little finesse and creativity, we have managed to fine-tune our way of life to a point where pretty much any obstacle is easily overcome. You should see the way we’ve worked a friend’s second floor apartment or managed to take a Christmas tree off the roof of our SUV. While things are not always easy, we are way too proud to ask for help (though, not always a good thing) and make it work no matter work.

Our life post-accident has been full of amazing adventures, wonderful opportunities, and happy memories. It’s a life I would not trade for the world. Ryan and I have chosen to view the positive side of his so-called “disability.” If it weren’t for that accident, our life would have been completely different, but would it have been more beautiful than it is now? We’ll never know so why choose to dwell on it.

Ryan is optimistic, brave, and has an overwhelming need and want to persevere. This personality and lifestyle is what the negative critics of the movie are fighting for. But just because the majority of us have accepted the hand we’ve been dealt and turned it into something great, that doesn’t mean everyone else feels the same way.

We have personally known so many men and women in situations similar to Ryan’s that have chosen a path of negativity and regret. They have a hard time coming to terms with their situation and can’t seem to find the light at the end of the tunnel. While this may not be something we would want for ourselves, and we would love to offer them any support they need to overcome their disappointments, it doesn’t mean we can wish it away and make those individuals feel and be anything different than what they are.

In terms of putting these stories onto page and screen, I’m of the mindset that everyone deserves something to relate to, something that might help them. That includes the harder side of things. We deal with things like addiction, abuse, and grief amongst many others in the media…why not the harsh realities that some disabled people suffer with?

That being said, however, the same goes for the happier, more optimistic side of disability. Though different than what’s often considered normal, I think our relationship and life is just as picturesque as other happy families and couples…let’s write a story about that. What do you say, Hollywood? Publishing companies? Can’t you offer something up for the rest of us?’

What do you guys think of this whole thing? Have you read/seen Me Before You, yet?

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Roasted Stuffed Pepper Casserole

So the plan for dinner tonight was stuffed peppers. Then I remembered my sweet husband is not a huge fan of them…crap. Luckily for me, however, he is a big fan of mixing random ingredients together in one pan and then smothering them with cheese. I started concocting and came up with my own version of a stuffed pepper casserole.

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Inspired by my deep adoration for roasted red peppers (I mean really, is there anything better?) I started to mentally piece together this dish. The result was quite fabulous. The husband and child were quite pleased and are looking forward to leftovers for lunch tomorrow. This feels like a total mom win!

Interested in this cheesy, red pepper goodness? Check out the recipe below!

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In the Name of Ransom

Two of my greatest passions in life are books and art. So when one man decided to combine the two and create a brilliant world for us to play in…my head just about exploded! A collector of old photographs, Ransom Riggs has developed quite the inventory of unique and unusual pictures from days past. For some of you that may not remember, there was a time not so long ago, when Photoshop did not exist. While there were still ways of manipulating an image, the technology was a far cry from that which we know today. Alas, this post is not a lecture on the overuse of photo editing techniques…this is merely an introduction to images like these:

Kind of weird, eh? These are not just photos, however, they’re the book covers for Mr. Riggs’ Peculiar Children trilogy. This extraordinary man has intertwined the worlds of prose and photography to create a delightfully, creepy set of stories. His characters and plot lines come directly from the pictures he’s collected over the years. Despite a wide array of miscellaneous themes, he’s woven an intricate web that ebbs and flows from one page to another in perfect melody and transition.

Set within a series of “time loops” that take the reader from one year, decade, and generation to another, his words take on the same gothic styling as the photos he’s chosen to use. The peculiar children that provide the series its namesake are unusual, disturbing and lovable all at once.

While I have to admit that the third and final novel in the series, Library of Souls, did not capture my interest in the same manner as its predecessors, the trilogy as a whole provides a whimsical escape from everyday normalcy. Where else will you find a little girl with a serious case of back mouth (just wait and read!) or a boy that houses bees inside of his mouth?

Despite the unusual perfection that Ransom Riggs has created, however, it would appear that these books are about to receive a less than par Hollywood revision. While I hate to speak ill of the great Tim Burton, he has been tasked with bringing the first novel, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, to the big screen and seems to have given Riggs’ dark and twisted world a candy-coated treatment. The trailer’s been released and offers little credit to the original feel that makes the books so spectacular. The colors are too bright, the characters too cheesy, and everyone’s peculiarities seem to have been switched around. I have to hope that Mr. Burton has a plan, but at first glance, it looks like we’ve got another bad book to movie experience on our hands.

Check out the movie trailer for yourself and let me know what you think! Oh, and if you haven’t read the books, be a dear and head directly to your nearest bookstore…or you know, just power up your Kindle!

 

 

 

Frozen: A Temptress Extraordinaire

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I did something terrible yesterday; something that there’s just no coming back from. I watched Frozen…twice…in a four hour period. I bow my head in shame.

You see this damn movie has been out for almost three years now, and despite the constant flutter of songs, quotes, and merchandise, I’d managed to escape its grasp. No two ways about it, this movie pissed me off. Who did these little Elsa and Anna idiots think they were? Being compared to the Disney greats like Belle and Ariel; it’s blasphemy I say. So strictly out of principle, I stood my ground and vowed never to see it. In fact, one of the first parental decisions I made upon finding out we were having a girl is that she would never fall victim to this godforsaken movie’s wicked claws.

I’d seen what was happening around me. There was a never-ending flow of Frozen themed birthday parties and Halloween costumes. The toy aisles were overrun with strangely misshapen snowmen and reindeer. And don’t even get me started on the song…I was convinced my ears would bleed the next time someone uttered those three little words (I won’t even write them..there will be no sing-along happening here!)

But alas, it seemed as though the odds were stacking up against me. When my friend Katie (a fellow Anti-Frozen team member) called to say she’d watched it, I realized there was a chance I may be the last person on Earth who was missing out on some extraordinary secret. So I did it…I set up the DVR and recorded the stupid movie.

I told myself that I wasn’t doing it or me. After all, I’m a mature adult that is capable of not watching some silly, little Disney movie. I was simply being a kind and responsible mother. How would it look if my poor child showed up somewhere and was completely out of the loop? At ten months old, that would clearly be devastating to her social standing.

So during playtime today, I put it on…just as background noise, you know? Very quickly I realized that my young child had no interest in watching this thing. Thank goodness…she wasn’t getting sucked in. I had dodged a bullet. Except what did that character just say? Where were they going? How’d the damn snowman get there again? Suddenly it was nap time and I graciously hit stop on the DVR, turning instead to some high-quality adult television.

But wait…what was that nagging? I began to realize I was anxious to continue watching. I mean, I had to find out if she chose Kristoff or Hans, right!?! So I did it. I finished the stupid movie and then, within a couple of hours, I’d restarted it for a second viewing.

So there you have it, folks. My life is officially over and I am just another weak-minded statistic. I don’t know how I fell so far, so fast, but the answer is yes: I want to build a damned snowman!

Now leave me to my Frozen-filled misery…it’s about time for me to watch it again.

 

Falling Down the Rabbit Hole…

Don’t ask me what started it, but one of the biggest obsessions in my life is party planning.  Ever since my own wedding, I’ve been infatuated with all things event.  There’s just something therapeutic about taking a million little details and turning them into something beautiful and unforgettable. You may have noticed my absence from this little verbal sanctuary the past couple of weeks.  Well that’s because I was helping to put together one of the most amazing parties I’ve ever had the chance to be a part of…an Alice in Wonderland themed bridal shower.

One of my best friends, Elena, is getting married next month, and I have the extreme pleasure to serve as her matron of honor.  For years and years, I’ve known that if given the chance to throw her a shower it would undoubtedly take place in Wonderland.  There’s just something about this whimsical tale that screams Elena (not to mention, it’s one of her personal favorites!)  When she and her amazing fiancé got engaged last New Years Eve, I was beyond ecstatic.  Not only was my friend marrying the love of her life, but I’d finally have the chance to plan this shower I’d been dreaming of.

After months of planning (okay, let’s be real…I’ve been scheming for years), her shower took place this past weekend.  It was just as beautiful as I’d hoped it would be, and the bride was over the moon.  Here’s some party pics for you to drool over!

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Our gorgeous table was set-up outside by the bride’s parents pool.
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We found a variety of old teapots that we spray painted gold and filled with gorgeous flowers.
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We took plastic costume hats and turned them into our own adorable versions of the Hatter’s 10/6 hat. 
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The cake (courtesy of CG’s Cakes) featured edible versions of the book’s classic black and white illustrations.
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Myself and the beautiful bride

This party was truly an affair to remember.  I’m still so happy that I had the opportunity to be a part of it!  Now bring on the wedding!

Happy Fall, Ya’ll!

So last weekend, this happened…

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Ahhh!  The first pumpkin spice latte of the year is always a monumental moment in my life.  It means that summer’s scorching hot days are coming to a close (although it will still be hot as heck!), and that it’s time for me to bust out my multitude of Fall decorations.  So what if there’s no leaves changing color or temperatures that provide brisk autumn days…Florida Fall still counts!

We’ll rock our boots and sweaters, even if they’re accompanied by a sheen of sweat.  We’ll still accessorize with cute scarves and hats.  Slow cookers fill with soups and stews, while our ovens are blessed with casseroles and pie.

Fall is Hocus Pocus, Bath and Body Works candles and pumpkin scented soap.  Just the idea of September, October and November gives me the warm and fuzzies.  This is the time that I start to prepare my recipes for Thanksgiving Day, and plot my plan of attack for Black Friday night.

No doubt about it, this if my favorite time of year.  So grab your loved ones and hit up the first pumpkin festival you can find.  Then go home and eat an abundance of turkey…the glorious Fall season is finally here!

A New Orleans State of Mind

I’m feeling a little homesick today.  That’s a strange thing to say when you consider the fact that I’m currently sitting in my hometown going through the motions of my normal day-to-day routine.  You see, my dear friends, I’m not talking about my literal home.  I’m talking about the place that makes my heart sing and puts a jaunty, little skip in my step…New Orleans

The great Louis Armstrong once posed the question, “Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans?”  Well Louis, the answer is yes; I most certainly do.  Even before I’d actually set foot on the sacred cobblestone streets of the crescent city, I had an elaborate infatuation with it.  There was something so mysterious about its history and reputation that just sucked me in.  When most people think of New Orleans, they think of Bourbon Street and partying until they puke.  When I think of New Orleans, I think of the most amazing food I’ve ever tasted.  I think of jazz and gorgeous architecture.  I think of the most delicious cocktails you can imagine and the sweetest people that you can meet.

New Orleans is my happy place and on this dreary Florida day, I’m longing for my old friend.  What I wouldn’t give to take a stroll down Royal Street or to stop by the Central Grocery for an authentic muffaletta.  I miss the risky business of eating a fresh beignet at Cafe du Monde without breathing to heavy and winding up coated in powdered sugar.

I miss the open-air ambiance of the French Market and all of its quaint, kitschy finds.  I miss being pulled a million different directions by the music as I wander down Frenchman Street.  I miss the dozens of offers to tell me where I got my shoes for just a $1 (if you’ve been, you know what I’m talking about!)  Disgustingly, I may even miss the smell of yesterday’s “something” baking on the streets.  Don’t ask what the something is…I don’t think any of us want to know.

All of these minute elements are a part of the city’s overall make-up.  They create this world of wonder where everyone is made to feel at home and has the opportunity to try the kinds of things they’d never dream of doing on any regular day.  Ten years ago, nature tried to destroy this beautiful place, and I suppose in a sense it succeeded.  But here’s the thing about New Orleans, the kind of love that surrounds its streets won’t let it fall.  It’s been lifted back up and continues to thrive the way it always has and always will.

My husband likes to laugh at me because I’m already dreaming of Haddie’s first trip to the Big Easy.  He asks, “What are we going to do with a little kid in New Orleans?”  Well, my sweet husband, it’s not so much about doing; it’s about letting her soak it all in.  I hope that she obsesses over this glorious city the same way I do.  I can see it now; we’ll be holding hands as we stroll along the Mississippi while she slurps down a snowball and I knock back a hurricane or two.  And Daddy will be right along side us with a neon green hand grenade resting snugly in his cup holder.  We’re coming back for you, New Orleans…just you wait and see!

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