Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Target Village - Hearth Warmed Bakery of Bedford Falls

The Hearth Warmed Bakery of Bedford Falls appears in the background of the film. You don't see the front of this building. You can only see the sign that hangs off the front of the building, which simply reads "Bakery." In fact, all of the buildings released by Target appear in the film, except maybe the post office.

The side of the box of the Hearth Warmed Bakery says "In the early hours of the morning while the towns folk of Bedford Falls are still fast asleep, the bakers scurry around to finish their daily work. They know that when daylight breaks the smell of fresh baked goods will waft through the neighborhood luring the Bailey Family, along with many other residents, to their warm and cozy bakery.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Target Village - Anderson's Department Store of Bedford Falls

The Anderson's Department Store of Bedford Falls, in the film, houses the Bailey Brothers Building and Loan on the second story. There are two versions of this building in the Target set. This version is a stand-alone store.

The side of the box reads "George Bailey bought his first suit and many more at Anderson's Department Store. Mary Bailey could not even count the number of times she made purchases at Anderson's or how often she slowly walked by the store, casually window shopping. Anderson's is the place to go for most anything the family might need or wish for.

Monday, November 28, 2016

My It's a Wonderful Life Village

So, this week, I put up my It's a Wonderful Life ceramic village. It took me from Monday to Thursday to do it. Part of the reason it took so long was because I took photos of each piece and the box it came in. Another reason was due to work and not being home enough. And when I was home, I suffered from several migraine headaches that made me unable to work on it. But it is finally up and I am excited to showcase it again for the first time in about 8 years.

With the book I used

In process

I have added two videos for you to check out, as well, with an explanation of what some of these buildings are.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

The It's a Wonderful Life loft and hallway

When we got our new house, my wife gave me free reign to decorate the upstairs loft and hallway however I wanted. I chose to decorate it with my It's a Wonderful Life collection. Check it out.

Friday, November 25, 2016

I caved: Meet our menagerie

My last two posts have been about why I disappeared for the last year. I told about my diagnosis of possible Multiple Sclerosis, and I told you about how we bought a house and moved (check them out). Another big life change for us this year as the result of the move, my wife's constant nagging, and my spineless caving.

Jenn and our cat Maisey
I hate dogs. We have (had) two cats that hate dogs. My wife and I both grew up with cats and love snuggling with them at bedtime, with their comforting purr as a gentle soundtrack for sleep. But I hate dogs. I hate cleaning up their poop. I hate cleaning off their paws when they go outside in the rain and mud and snow to take their crap. I hate yippy dogs that bark at the wind and tear up your stuff.

I had a dog when I was a kid. Dumbest dog ever. Open the gate, he ran away. Off like a shot. Never got to play with him. He just ran away and showed back up a few days later. It was depressing. My dad had a few guard dogs at his business. Jaws, the Doberman, was awesome. One of dad's employees had to carry a lead pipe with him around the dog. He never hit the dog, but if he didn't have the pipe, the dog would attack him. I would play with the dog all of the time. He also had a German Shepherd named Shadow. Also an awesome dog.

But it still didn't change my outlook on cleaning up poop and constant barking for no reason.

Then we bought the house, which my wife took to mean that we were going to get a dog. She started begging. That annoying, constant, chip away at your soul begging. She started sending me pictures from adoption pages of dogs she wanted. One day in late August, I couldn't take it anymore and like a spineless jellyfish, I imploded.

"Fine, we can get a dog," I told her.

"Good," she answered. "I already made an appointment to see one on Saturday.

"Of course you did," I replied. "We can LOOK, but I have to have a say in the dog we get. I won't get a psycho."

So Saturday, September 3 comes around and we get the kids in the car. They are clueless. We didn't tell them what we were doing. We go to visit the dog, and I immediately fall in love, but I keep up my hard-ass I hate dogs appearance because that's what I do. She doesn't jump or run away or bark or freak out or bite. She's just chill.

Meeting Bailey

Adopting Bailey and taking her home

In the pet store looking for all of the stuff it takes to care for a dog (a LOT).
We didn't consider any other dogs. Love at first sight, I guess. Her name was Abby when we got her. We decided to rename her. We tried Zuzu, from the character in It's a Wonderful Life, but after a couple of days, we realized it didn't fit her. So we tried Bailey instead, after the Bailey family in the same film. It stuck. And the best part about it is that I don't have to pick up the dog poop in the back yard. That was my only requirement. I clean the cats' litter boxes. Everyone else can clean up the dog dookie.

So our growing pet family count was 1 dog and two cats. Apparently it wasn't enough. Someone posted on one of those Facebook sales sites that she had found a siamese cat that someone had lost, and she couldn't find the owner. I made the mistake of telling Jenn about it. I should have known better than to tell someone who desperately wanted a siamese where to get one for free. I didn't even have time to blink. Within hours, this emaciated cat was at our house. He has since gained 6 pounds.

Now we have 3 cats: Missy (short for Mystic), Maisey (because she was found as a kitten in a corn field), and Merlin (because Jenn decided to stick with the magic-themed M names).

Merlin the night we got him

Look at those eyes!!!!!
The eating situation, featuring Bailey, Merlin and Missy
Enough. I'm done. Maybe someday we'll get a rabbit or an iguana or a domesticated fox. But for now, this zoo is closed.

And for what it's worth, as much as I despise dogs, I sure do love Bailey. But don't tell anyone. 

Lap dog?

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

We moved

In my last blog entry, I told about the possibility that I have Multiple Sclerosis. A second reason I disappeared for the last year is that once we got my migraines more or less under control, we decided it was time to buy a new house and move.

In February, 2016, we started getting serious about getting a house. My wife and I got married and lived in a mobile home (the preferred diggs of divorced dudes everywhere) for almost 10 years. Most of our stuff was in a storage unit and we needed more space to live. And I was getting tired of not being able to set up my It's a Wonderful Life ceramic village due to said lack of space. So we started looking.

We found one in a neighboring town that was huge (3000 square feet) and within our price range. It was a gorgeous house that was probably a hotel back when it was built in the 1800s. Then we paid for the inspection and found enough issues to send us running back to

We finally found a house in a small, quiet town. On the day we went through it for the first time, were the 7th family to go through the house on that day alone. We knew that there would be offers on the house because it was a great house, so we decided to make an offer that night and gut-check ourselves in the morning to make sure we really wanted it. We were the third offer made on that house that day. Our gut-check was super solid, and after some negotiating, we bought it.

And we love it. It's such a quiet, low-key town. Maybe a little more conservative than I prefer but everybody minds their own business and it's been wonderful. We have a large yard with room for a huge fire pit. We have a gargantuan deck on the back of the house that has been great for several parties and get-togethers so far. And the best part was that besides some cleaning and a little bit of paint, the house was practically move-in ready.

Our 3-foot-diameter fire pit and some top-shelf beer makes for a relaxing fall evening.
I can't wait to finish putting up my It's a Wonderful Life ceramic village this week (I'm almost finished. Pictures and video to come soon!). We even have room for two Christmas trees, and Jenn gave me free reign over our upstairs hallway/landing, so I decorated it with my It's a Wonderful Life collection, which stays up year-round.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

I Disappeared - A Story of Thankfulness

I disappeared again. This time for a good reason. It's been a heck of a year.

And now that it's Thanksgiving week, it's time that I told you what's been going on. Three big things happened to me in the last year, and I will cover them over the next several blog entries. Today's entry tells the the story of the biggest event.

Ever since high school, I have suffered migraines. These aren't your garden-variety headaches, and they aren't the migraines that people go on Facebook to complain about. These are the crippling, debilitating, wishing God would just kill you right there so you don't have to feel that way any more kinds of headaches.

Mine have been categorized in the cluster migraine category. That means I get two or three really intense migraines a day. The best way I can describe them is that they feel like an ice cream headache that just won't let up. It feels like someone is trying to pry my eye out of my face with a spoon.

They each last for about two hours each, and it goes on every day for 2-3 weeks. For those keeping count, that's 21 migraines a week, or 63 migraines in a 3-week period. And it drains me. I call it my migraine hangover. They leave me exhausted and unable to focus. When I get them, I am typically reduced to lying in bed with the curtains pulled and my body temperature fluctuating wildly. I try to sleep it off. Sometimes I get warning signs and I can prepare. Sometimes, they come swiftly and strongly, and I have to call someone to pick me up from work or wherever I am to take me home.

The fluctuating body temperature and and swiftness is what drove me to get to the bottom of it around this time last year. One evening in November, my wife was working and I was home alone. I had just put my son to bed and was getting ready for a quiet night of reading. My wife called and said she was on her way home. When she called, I felt great. In the 15 minutes it took her to get home, a migraine had destroyed my evening. She found me in my underwear standing outside in the cold November wind leaning up against the house, unable to talk or open my eyes, trying to regulate my body temperature. She walked me inside, got me dressed, and took me to the emergency room.

That was the moment I decided that I had had enough. After talking to some fellow sufferers, I made an appointment with a neurologist at University of Toledo Medical Center. He spent an hour and a half with me on my first visit, and he ordered an MRI.

My brain with holes.
My brain with holes and really creepy eyes.
The MRI raised some red flags; namely, holes. My doctor thought they were indicative of Multiple Sclerosis. Awesome. The problem is that there is no single test for MS. You have to take multiple tests that will either point to "possible" or "not likely" MS. So my doctor ordered those extra tests.

One of those tests was a spinal tap. That sucked. And then they sent me home and my spinal column refused to heal/plug back up, so I was leaking spinal fluid for several days. Spinal fluid is the same stuff that your brain soaks in and protects it. So my brain was dried out and banging around in my head giving me a non-stop headache. It required another trip to the doctor and BACK onto the spinal tap table so they could take blood from my arm and use it to plug the hole. That also sucked. My spinal tap came out showing no problems or signs of MS.

In the emergency room when my spinal tap didn't heal.
They also ordered a vision test called evoked potential. I don't understand it, but they hooked me to wires and made me watch patterns on a TV screen for 20 minutes. That test showed possible issues related to MS. Then they called me and said they found a problem with the machine's calibration and needed to re-test. I went back and the second test also showed possible MS.

Evoked potential test.
My next meeting at the neurologist's office was with a doctor who specialized in MS. He ordered another MRI, but this time, of my neck. That test showed a bulged disc that was a hair's breadth from my spinal cord. So I was sent to a pain clinic, which gave me three injections of cortisone over a 3-month period.

Bulged disc.
Now, I wait. I have to have another MRI sometime this winter in order to see if the holes have grown larger. If they have grown, then we will start treatment as if I have MS. What does that mean? I don't know for sure. All of the doctors who have seen me say that my symptoms have not manifested the way MS usually appears, so I'm optimistic. The only things that have impacted my life are the headaches, and with the help of the pain clinic and the neurologist, I almost have that under control. I went about 10 months without a major outbreak. They started again last week, but with my new regimen of medication and increased awareness of my warning signals, I can usually stop a headache before it starts. So far, I haven't had one send me home or put me in bed in a dark room yet.

And for that reason, this Thanksgiving season, I am grateful for my team of 5 doctors, and my wife and parents who took turns hauling me to countless emergency room visits and procedures that prevented me from driving in the last year. I am so grateful.

In my next entry, I will share the second life change that was positive and has kept us busy for the last several months.