Friday, November 5, 2010


Just a quick post tonight, because I'm tired and ready for bed!

Here at the Casa, we love Harry Potter! In fact, Chickenhead went has Harry for Halloween-

We're really looking forward to the new movie coming out in a couple of weeks and have been talking about our favorite characters: Hagrid, Mad-Eye Moody, Harry (of course) Dumbledore, Prof. McGonigle and Hermione and Ron. I haven't read the last book in the series yet, and I'm kind of glad. I want to see the movie without knowing what's coming up.

Are you a Harry Potter fan? If so, who is your favorite character?


Thursday, November 4, 2010

In The Eye of the Beholder

A couple of weeks ago, or maybe just last week, it's all a blur to me anymore, the internets were up in arms over a blog written on the Marie Claire website. One of the fashionistas over there had written about the TV show 'Mike and Molly' which details the budding romance between two overweight people who meet at an Overeaters Anonymous meeting.

In the article, 'Should Fatties Get a Room' Maura Kelly writes that "...I think I'd be grossed out if I had to watch two characters with rolls and rolls of fat kissing each other ... because I'd be grossed out if I had to watch them doing anything. To be brutally honest, even in real life, I find it aesthetically displeasing to watch a very, very fat person simply walk across a room ..." Wow. Really? Just wow.

Needless to say, the article caused an uproar. By the end of the week Ms.Kelly was writing a half-assed apology, and stating that because she had once had an eating disorder, perhaps her ideas regarding body-image are skewed.

All of this leads me to ask the question- why does society continue to condemn someone who's obese, but someone who's struggling with an eating disorder like anorexia or bulimia is patted on their bony little back and coddled? It's like some people look at someone who's overweight and say they're 'lazy', 'lacking self-control', even 'unlovable'. But the person who goes invisible if they turn sideways is to be pitied; 'poor thing', 'it's a disease, they can't help it', etc. Is the obese person not struggling in their own way with an eating disorder? Ask any person who's been on a diet, or more realistically, more than one diet, how hard it is to lose weight. The naysayers will sit back on their skinny butts and say, "well, it's just a matter of eating right and exercising more". Really? I never knew.

I would dare to venture that a good majority of people that are struggling to lose weight know what they need to be doing. Believe me, we know. I know that I myself deal every day with thinking about food in ways that most 'normal' people don't. Some days it's not a problem for me to eat healthy, make good choices, drink lots of water and make sure I walk. Other days, I just want a donut. Nothing in life is black or white, this or that.

All of us struggle with something, be it eating, not eating, smoking, drinking, gambling, etc. And it seems like women, catty people that we can be, are the worst at tearing each other down. I know I'm guilty of it; there's been several times when I've made snide remarks about the younger thin girl at work with the body that hasn't carried a baby yet. It's easy to forget that she has things she hates about her body, just like I do. Why can't we all, thin, fat, gay, straight, black, white, whatever, why can't we all just be beautiful? Why can't we try harder to look for the good in each other, instead of tearing each other down? What do you think?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Part 2 of 2

I'm feeling some better, thanks to getting lots of rest today. My sinuses always seem to have a mind of their own this time of year, so I guess I'd better stock up on meds!

I mentioned in my earlier post today that I would have photos of my craft room, and here they are! It's not fancy, it's not all matchy-matchy, but it's me! I've got plenty of room to work on whatever I feel like working on. I'm going to move a rocking chair in there, too, so that I'll have a quiet place to read.

Here's a shot looking in the doorway-

The Husband found that L-shaped desk at a garage sale, and I love it! I've got my sewing machine there, along with my Slice and Cricut cutting machines. There's plenty of work surface, too.

Next to the desk, in front of the window, is (Re)Pete the Parakeet-

Next to Pete is an old chest of drawers (that desperately needs re-painting) that I'm using for storage of sewing supplies, stickers and embellishments, cards, etc. I need to hang the Eiffel Tower picture I have there sitting on top of it.

Here's the closet. I love having all these built in shelves in there.

All of my fabrics, craft supplies, paper,etc are in there and it works perfectly!

I moved this cabinet in here from the dining room. It belonged to my mom, she had my Great-Grandmother's dishes and stuff in it. I've re-purposed it to hold all my scrapbooks, craft books, photos, etc.

See that light wooden chest up on top? My great-grandfather made it for my great-grandma. It's a sewing chest and holds spools of thread, needles, scissors and such.

Since we're in a crafty mood, let's talk about art. As in art class. Chickenhead is taking art through our home school program. They sent us a huge box of art supplies and a web-cam so that Kai can do virtual art classes with the art teacher. Their first assignment was to draw a portrait. The teacher told the kids that they could trace from a photograph, then go over their traced design with colored pencils, markers, which ever medium they chose. Chickenhead chose to draw a portrait of the Butter Queen herself, Paula Deen. He used a cover of one of my old magazines. Here's the picture he used-

Isn't Paula lovely? Doesn't that mac-n-cheese look tasty? OK, now keep that photo in mind when viewing this-

So many questions. Why is Paula wearing a doo-rag? What's wrong with her eyes? Is she wearing grillz on her teeth? Bless his heart, it's Chickenhead's first attempt at drawing, really, but wow. It looks kind of like Paula had a baby with Li'l Wayne. Let's hope the next assignment turns out better!

Part 1 of 2

Ok, ok, so I've missed a post already! Well to make up for it, I'll post two today. Right now I'm on here mostly just to change the look a bit, and tweak a few things here and there. I'm home from work today because my sinuses are kicking my butt, so I'm going to medicate here in a bit and get some rest!

With the holidays hurtling our way, it's time to think about holiday dinners! What are some of your favorite foods during the holidays? Do you try to stick to a diet, or just say 'screw it' until January 1?

I'm all about the carbs at holiday time! Mashed potatoes, stuffing, buttery dinner rolls, and of course, the pumpkin pie! I try to limit myself, but it's hard! If I snack before the meal, I make an effort to limit my snacks to the veggie plate, but I sneak a couple of those cute Babybel cheeses in there, too!

I'll be back later with pics of the craft room. Right now, I've got some Tylenol Sinus that's calling my name!

Monday, November 1, 2010

OK, Here We Go!

It's November 1st and that means it's time for NaBloPoMo- National Blog Posting Month. The idea is that bloggers commit to writing every day, even on weekends, for one month. By writing every day, I hope to improve my writing, and to learn to love my much neglected blog. Because look around, let's face it, I haven't been giving my blog the love it needs!

So, today I'm just going to write four random thoughts, and if you want to comment, please feel free!

1. I realized that this coming Sunday will mark the first anniversary of my mom's death. And I realized that it may never get any easier to deal with the fact she's gone.

2. I can now do multiplication and division of fractions in my sleep! We've been covering them for two units now in Chickenhead's math course. When I agreed that I would take on math with him, I was kind of dreading it. But it's given me a chance to brush up on little used math skills, and even helped me to understand some concepts I didn't get the first time around. So I may still not be smarter than a fifth grader, but I'm getting there!

3. Chickenhead is terrified of a giant cactus in the front hall. I'm terrified that there's probably Lord only knows how many spiders or other critters shacking up in it.

4. My craft room is FINISHED!!!! Yay! I worked so hard for it, and I love it! I'll take pictures and post soon!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Holiday Hoopla

I wonder what a hoopla is, really? Hmm...something to google here in a little bit.

But yes, we are at that point in the year where we begin to think about the holidays. For some, the holidays are a time of happiness, spending time with family, gathering with loved ones from near and far. For others, the holidays are a time of dread, spending time with people you share DNA with, gathering with people who have the same last name from near and far. For us here at the Casa, things are going to run a little bit differently this year. And I'm glad!

A bit of background- Chickenhead recently started bowling in the homeschool bowling league. He loves it and likes having fun. A couple of weeks ago, the Husband's father and grandfather, The Grumps, showed up at the alley and proceeded to make huge asses out of themselves. They told parents to sit down because they couldn't see the kids bowling. They yelled at the mother of an autistic child to 'sit down, we can't see', and then later, to top it all off, Gramps called her the B-word. Mature, much? I called my FIL to get his version of events and he thought it was all pretty funny. I didn't. Chickenhead was so embarrassed by the way they acted, that he didn't want to go back. I suggested to my FIL that maybe it would be a good idea if they didn't go to the bowling alley any more. He suggested that even better, they wouldn't come to any of Chickenhead's activities again, no matter what they were. Alrighty, then!

I told the Husband- I'm done. Done like the holiday turkey. I'm not going to put up with this kind of nonsense any longer. We have decided that this year, we are having our own holiday here at home. If it's just the three of us, we're cool with it. In fact, we're kind of looking forward to it. We may have a small turkey dinner for Thanksgiving, or we might have a big old Mexican feast. I'll call my brother and see if he and his family want to come over and join us.

Even if it is just the three of us, it will be one thing that the majority of our previous holidays haven't been- peaceful. The Husband and I won't have to get all stressed out over the holiday. And if we're not stressed, we're not arguing, and all of us are just enjoying ourselves and not worrying about who in the family isn't speaking to whom, who's mad at whom, etc. In our Casa, there will be peace! This goes for Christmas, too. We will be staying at home, away from all the madness.

I can tolerate a lot from my in-laws, and I won't deny that during the course of our marriage, they have been at times, generous and supportive. But I draw the line at hurting my child. I won't put up with that. As I told my bestie today, if someone can't treat our child properly, and refuses to treat the Husband and I with respect, I have no desire to be around them.

Since we made this decision a couple of weeks ago, I have felt a lot calmer. I'm not dreading the upcoming holidays like I usually am. I don't have to fret over cooking dinner for 15, and getting no help or even a 'thank you' in return. So, let the holidays begin! Let's talk turkey or tacos or tequila, and tell me, are you starting any new traditions this year?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Yay Fall!

Ahhh, at last! Fall is here! And it seems like we're having a proper autumn this year, too. Cool nights and crisp, sunny days. I very much enjoy this weather, especially after the heat we had all summer long.

Things are going pretty good. Chickenhead is still doing well with school and has joined a bowling league. Nothing serious, just a chance to get together with other home-schooled kids once a week to have some fun. He enjoys it and looks forward to it.

I've been working on getting his old bedroom switched over to my craft room and it's slow going. It seemed like we would never get all the crap out of there, and now it seems like I'll never get my crap moved in! I just keep telling myself that slowly but surely, it will all get done. And it will. There's nothing but time, right?

I'm trying to keep on crafting, even though a lot of my stuff is packed away, but it's hard. It seems like the things I want to use are always at the bottom of the box, or stuffed way back in the drawer. But I didn't let it stop me yesterday. The mood hit me and I went with it, and I came up with this-

The geisha design was embossed using my Cuttlebug, then colored in with colored pencils. I was interested to see how this would turn out, and I have to admit, I'm rather pleased.

And since I had the Cuttlebug out, I decided to try something else that I've been wanting to experiment with, embossing foil. And it's really easy! I simply took a piece of cardstock, wrapped it in regular aluminum foil, and ran it through the Cuttlebug. It worked!

I couldn't take a very good pic of this one, so you can't really tell that the foil is tinted purple. I used Ranger's alcohol inks, and they work great on foil! This project was so much fun, I'm going to be doing a lot more with foil. It would look great for Christmas cards. The butterflies and the flowers were all stamped and then shaded in with colored pencils.

I realized today that I'm quickly coming up on the one year anniversary of my mom's death. I can't believe it's been a year, already. So much has happened since she passed, more than I ever could have imagined. I hope she's at peace, and I hope she knows that I don't blame her for the choices that she made. She did the best thing she could do at the time, and thankfully, my brother has grown to become a pretty amazing human being. I'm so grateful that he's a part of my life now, and that we have the chance now to know each other.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Getting Caught Up

Wow, I have really let this thing get away from me! It seems like I've been so busy lately, that I barely have time to breathe, let along blog. But I'm determined to carve out more time for myself, including writing. I find I can focus better on what I need to do when I've cleared some of this stuff out of my head, so let's start, shall we?

A couple of weeks ago, I came home from work and went to see how the day's class session went. Chickenhead was sobbing uncontrollably. "Guess who died?!", he asked. I looked over at the Husband and his eyes were welling up with tears, too. I thought maybe Gramps had died, but no, it was Butters the hamster. Butters, Miss B, the only rodent I ever semi-loved, had died. Chickenhead and the Husband had already put her in a little box, sealed with orange duct tape and covered with goodbye messages written in black sharpie. We had a small, private ceremony in the side yard, where Miss B was interred to her final resting place, just beneath the living room windows. Immediately, discussions began for a new hamster, and by the end of the week, Chickenhead had found her. She's a tan and white teddy bear hamster, who has been named Fury. I have no idea why her name is Fury, but I'll be honest- I don't care for her. She looks kind of shifty, if you ask me. She's no Butters, I know that much. Maybe she'll start to grow on me, but I doubt it.

Home-school or as we've been calling it lately, un-school, is going well. We had a couple of blowouts over math, but we all worked passed it, and Chickenhead is doing good. He passed his first unit assessment in math with an 89%, missing only 3 questions. Compared with how poorly he was doing in math last year at school, this is amazing! He's doing well in all of his subjects, really, and enjoys science and history the most. I still can't get over how much more he seems to like school, and how much less tense he seems. We also made the decision to take him off of his ADD medication and I now question whether he ever needed it to begin with. I kind of wonder if the constant distractions in class were so overwhelming for him that he just kind of shut down and would sit there and daydream? Whatever it was, we haven't noticed any problems with focusing and staying on task than any other child would have.

We're still looking for an outside activity for him to do besides Scouts. He still likes Scouting, don't get me wrong, but he also wants to do a sport, and so we're leaning towards karate, I believe. We looked in to indoor soccer, but it was a little more than we can afford right now. We'll look at outdoor soccer again in the spring.

I've been working on trying to get my craft room up and running, but it's been a challenge. I've got everything cleared out of the room now, but I still have to clean the carpets and put in my desk and all my craft stuff. I wanted to get it ready by last weekend, but it didn't happen. I've been sidelined by a sinus infection, but I hope I'm over it soon. I hate sinus issues!

So that's what's going on around the Casa. I've updated the blog appearance for fall, I hope you like it!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Adventures In Home-Schooling

Today marks the third day of 5th grade here at the Casa. I was telling Chickenhead that we needed a name for our school, and so far, we're going with 'Freaks and Geeks Elementary'. I'm not about to ask who's the freak and who's the geek.

Anyway, here at F&G, things are going great! Chickenhead is enjoying the online classes, and the Husband and I like how our schedule is totally flexible. Classes at F&G start around 9AM. Chickenhead works on one or two subjects, either online or offline, then takes a 10-minute break. This allows him time to run around and act like a goofball, and while it sounds odd, when he sits back down to work again, he's able to focus better. I'm starting to think that it's almost asking too much of a child to expect them to sit still in their seats for an entire day. It just doesn't work for some children, and Chickenhead is one of them.

After breaking for lunch and maybe going outside to shoot some hoops, or even running some errands with the Husband, Chickenhead continues with his work. He's averaging about five hours a day to get his work done so far.

Most importantly, Chickenhead loves it. He likes using the laptop, he loves all the books that we got with our course supplies, and I think he really likes setting his own pace. Chickenhead even thanked me yesterday for enrolling him in home-school. I am so glad we did this!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Oh Yeah, This Thing!

I don't really know what's going on, but my life seems to be a blur lately. I've been busy, but I can't tell you what I've been doing, because I really don't know! Let's see....

We had Chickenhead's birthday party earlier this month. It was a pool party at my father-in-law's house and it was a great success. My brother (!!) and his family came, and we had a wonderful time hanging out and talking.

I've been hard at work clearing out the rest of my mom's things, and getting that bedroom cleared out so that Chickenhead can move in there, and I can get my craft room back. And I'm still not done! I've set a deadline of August 1 for myself, because I want it done! I want to be able to work on my various projects without having to leave everything laying out on the kitchen table.

Other than trying to survive the hellish heat of a Kansas summer, I guess that's really all that's going on. I have a lot of ideas brewing in my head that will keep me busy for the rest of the summer, I'm sure!

Monday, June 28, 2010

For My Son

My dear sweet Kai,

When you first came in to my life 10 years ago, I couldn't fathom that I could love someone so much. Just as Daddy filled a hole in my heart, you filled the rest and made it whole.

With every day that has passed since the day you were born, I have learned more about myself than I could ever imagine. Because of you, I am stronger than I ever thought possible. Because of you, I have learned when to be firm and when to give in. OK, I'm still working on that one, because to be honest, I think I give in more than I should. I think you know that I'm a sucker!

Even though you sometimes make me nuts, I would not trade my life as your mom for anything on this earth. Your smile and laugh, your goofy sense of humor and your sweet tenderness make every eye roll (yours, not mine), exasperated sigh and occasional temper tantrum worth it.

I'm sure that Daddy would agree with me that you have made our lives much richer for being a part of it. You are truly our blessing, and we treasure every moment with you.

I don't want to even begin to imagine how quickly the next 10 years are going to go by. A part of me wants you to stay just as you are, but I can't wait to see the man you will grow up to be. Maybe I'm biased, but I think you're going to be a pretty spectacular adult!

So happy, happy birthday, my darling boy. Know that I am always here for you, and will love to the moon and back for all time.


Saturday, June 26, 2010

Wild Kingdom

While I've been outside for my garage sale for the past couple of days, slow roasting in the hot Kansas sun, I've been thoroughly entertained by these characters-

Aren't they cute?! Three baby foxes have made a home for themselves in the storm drain at the end of our street. Now I know that foxes can be dangerous critters, but they really are cute right now. They come out all throughout the day, popping up out of the drain to lay out on the grass. As soon as a car comes along or someone walks out of their house, they zip back down the drain. Their mom and dad are occasionally spotted running quickly around the neighborhood, searching for food for the young'uns.

The bad thing about having nature so close to us is that people are very curious about these critters. Two women were at my sale and looked down the street and started freaking the hell out! 'OMG, they are so CUTE!!', one of them squealed. The two women tiptoed down the street, seeing how close they could get. Then, they came back up to my house and asked if I had any hot dogs they could feed the foxes. WTH?! OK, first of all, I have serious hot dog snobbery issues, and the weenies I buy are expensive. I'm not about to give them away. Second of all, and most importantly, we are not going to feed the frigging wild animals! If you feed them, they don't learn to fend for themselves, and they shouldn't rely on humans to provide for them. Really? You want to give hot dogs to foxes?

That's not as bad as the lady who came by a while later, though. She stopped when one of the adult foxes ran in front of her car, and she told me, 'I don't know what kind of animals these things are, but Animal Control wants to know where they are so they can trap them.' I'm sorry but I don't believe her, she doesn't even know what a fox is! Plus, I had called Animal Control myself to see if the foxes posed any threat, and what would happen to them if they got picked up. AC explained to me that they will not pick up a wild animal unless it exhibits signs of rabies, such as stumbling while walking or other strange behavior. They will not be trapping them or putting them down or anything else. So whatever, crazy lady.

I imagine that when they grow up, they'll move along, but for now,they are fun to watch. They're not hurting anyone, and they don't mess with any of the neighborhood pets. Heck, they were playing with one of the local cats the other day! I've noticed that our rabbit and squirrel populations have dwindled a bit recently, so I'm pretty sure the foxes don't need my hot dogs!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Garage Sale- You're Doing it Right!

Even though this year's garage sale has been a crap ton of work, it was a huge success. I made some mad money this time out. A few people I work with have asked how to 'do' a garage sale, and Ashley asked in the comments on my post for the other day, so here's a rundown of what's worked for me.

1. Be organized. On everything! As you go through the things you're going to sell, sort them in to 'departments'. Dishes and glasses go together, but your old roller-skates don't really go with them. If your stuff is well organized when you set it out, it makes it easier for people to look at it, and they're more likely to buy. I put all of the dishes, glasses and 'housewares' type items all on one table. I had craft, fabric and sewing items all near the sewing machine I had for sale. All the toys were together in another 'zone'. I used an old DVD rack as a bookshelf for all the books I sold. When you take a few extra minutes to make everything look presentable, you will sell a lot more. And yes, you'll probably have to spend some time straightening it all back up, but it's really not a big deal. Make sure everything you set out is clean! If you're putting out clothes, make sure they're not dirty or smell like mothballs. Take a minute to dust something off or wipe it down. Nobody will want to buy something that looks grungy. Oh, and one more thing. The Husband thought I was crazy because I didn't set every single thing out at once. I chose to bring out stuff only as I sold the items I already had out. That way, my tables weren't overcrowded, and I had a better variety of things for people to look out. I think this works really well if you are doing a 2-day sale.

2. Advertise! I listed our garage sale on Craigslist because it's free, and I invested in a couple of signs from Home Depot. Put a sign at the main entrances to your neighborhood, and put a sign at the edge of your property to let people know that they've come to the right place.

3. Price everything. I bought some garage sale labels at Wal-Mart and it was worth it. Put the price sticker on the front of everything unless it's something hand painted and then put it on the back. People have told me that they don't know how to price their goodies. It's tough, because you might remember how much you paid for that wedding dress, but that's not a guarantee that it's still worth what you paid for it. Everything depreciates, whether we want to admit it or not. If you have a family antique that you think should get top dollar, don't sell it at a garage sale. For something like that, go through a consignment shop or an antiques dealer. Think about your things like you are a garage sale shopper. Would you pay more than $75 for a used wedding gown? Really? I priced all of our stuff really cheap. Glasses went for no more than .50 each, and I was willing to make a deal if they bought a set.

4. Have enough cash on hand and keep it close to you. If you can, have one person running your cash box. It's easier to keep track of the money if only one person is taking in the profits. If you're having a large sale, get about $75-$100 in cash. Make sure you have a roll of quarters, some fives and some ones. I've noticed that most people who came to my sale always paid in ones or fives. Do NOT take checks. Unless they are a family member or a trusted friend, it's just not worth the hassle of taking a check from a stranger. I made sure I listed 'cash only' on my Craigslist ad.

5. Set up early and take down on time. List your times in your ad and on your signs. My sale ran from 9AM-4PM each day. I began setting up around 7:45AM each morning, and people would start driving up immediately. They are like vultures who can smell a sale from a mile away! If they want to look while you're setting up, it's up to you as to how to best handle it. My experience was that if I politely told them that I wasn't quite ready yet, they would come back. I don't know how I was that polite so early in the morning, especially without coffee, but somehow I did it. I would start tearing down right at 4PM, maybe about 10 minutes before.

6. Finally, have some reinforcements! It's near impossible to run a garage sale single handed. You need to have a break every now and then to have a bite to eat, take a bathroom break, count your money, etc. And when it's all over and done, make sure you take down your signs! Nothing is sadder than seeing a sign and heading for a sale, only to find out that it was the previous weekend.

So have fun kids, and get out there and make some money!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Vacation That Wasn't

When I hear the word 'vacation', I always think of this-

(yes, I know it's not the original, but the embedding is blocked for that video)

Anyway, my week off from work has been anything but an idyllic 80's romp. It has been some hard-ass work! I am going to need at least a week at work to recover from this death march of cleaning, sorting, pricing, throwing away, cursing, eye-rolling, etc.

Don't get me wrong, I have had some fun, and as soon as I remember what it was, I'll tell you. The majority of the week has been spent getting ready for the garage sale that we started today. I always forget what a huge undertaking a garage sale is!

Somehow though, I pulled myself together and with the Husband's and Chickenhead's help, we got set up this morning. Wow, people who shop at garage sales on Thursday mornings are serious about their shopping. They are c-r-a-z-y! I had one guy come by while I was setting up and I politely told him that we would be ready in about another half hour. He drove by six times after that to see if we were open. Finally he came up and said he was on his way back home, so could he just look around? I said sure, because he was feeling kind of stalker-ish, and boy am I glad he did. He spent a whole quarter!

I make it a point to say hello to everyone and give them a smile, but some people look like they would rather get their eyes gouged out with a hot spork than be at a garage sale. Why are they even out in public?

At least we had free entertainment while we were outside. In the storm drain down at the end of the cul-de-sac, a den of foxes have made themselves a home. The three baby foxes pop in and out of the drain all day long, spending time playing in the neighbor's yard and lying in the shade of their tree. While it's kind of cool to see them, it's also un-nerving to see how comfortable they seem to be in our neighborhood. They come out all hours of the day, and don't seem to mind us humans at all.

So, I'll be back out there tomorrow, and I really hope I sell the rest of what I have left. It's going to be hotter than you know what tomorrow and Saturday, and I would much rather be in the AC!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

I Read More Than Just The Internet (really!)

So I thought I would try writing a book review every once in a while. I love to read all kinds of books, and I decided that if I read something that really moved me, I would share it with you. OK, here we go...

The Kindness of Strangers, by Katrina Kittle

This is the story of Sarah Laden, a recently widowed mother to boys, 11-year old Danny, and 17-year old Nate. Set in a small Ohio town, Sarah is a professional caterer still trying to get over the death of her husband Ned. Her close friend, Courtney Kendrick, has been right at Sarah's side the entire time.

Sarah's world spins out of control the day she finds Courtney's son Jordan trying to run away from home. The events that follow make Sarah and her sons question everything they know about the people they love and trust.

Without giving away more of the story, I will warn you that this book deals very frankly with the subject of sexual abuse. While Katrina Kittle doesn't go in to graphic detail, there's more than enough detail to make you (well, me anyway)uncomfortable. I think this book could definitely be a trigger for someone who has suffered similar abuse.

That being said, I read the book in about two days. Was it that well-written? No, but the story was compelling, without being too much of a trainwreck. The story focuses mainly on Sarah, her son Nate, Courtney's son Jordan. I'll admit, I wasn't thrilled with how the lead character, Sarah, was written; she comes off as being way too naive and too trusting. Maybe that was the author's intent all along, but I found myself thinking, 'God, what a dumbass!' more than once.

If nothing else, 'The Kindness of Strangers' is a story of healing. All of the characters had individual obstacles in their lives that they were struggling to overcome. I would recommend it with a warning; if you don't think you can handle the abuse aspect, take a pass on this one. The subject matter is heart-breaking, no matter how delicately it's handled.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


So, last night I got to meet my brother (heee!!!) James and his family. Let me tell you about it...

Throughout most of the day yesterday, I was kind of nervous. I was looking forward to meeting them, but at the same time, thinking, 'maybe we shouldn't'. I had some last minute self doubts; what if he didn't like me? What if Chickenhead didn't get along with his cousins? But when it came time to go, I was OK.

And it turned out that all of that self doubt was for naught. In a way, it was like we have always known each other. James and I looked at a few photos that I took with me, and we could definitely see the family resemblance between my mom and him, and his daughter. We talked about all the strange coincidences in our lives; he grew up about three blocks away from the house that Mom bought in 1989. James now lives about three blocks away from my late uncle's home, my mom's brother, who was also named James. He went to grade school right across the street from where nearly all of my family is buried. Pretty much all of our lives, we've never been more than 15 minutes away from each other.

Chickenhead and his new cousins got along like they've been friends forever. We felt so at ease with James and his wife, Mary, that it seemed like the most natural thing in the world for us to all be together. The Husband really enjoyed spending time talking soccer and sports with James, and it seems like they might have a lot in common.

All in all, I wouldn't change a thing. Well, except for maybe one. I FORGOT TO TAKE ANY PICTURES!!! I know my friend Carol just screamed 'what?!' right now, but I totally forgot. I took my camera and everything, but we were so busy talking that I never even thought about taking pictures. I will take pictures the next time we meet, for sure!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Things Get Interesting...

OK, so. As I was riding the bus home tonight, I was checking email on my phone. I had a message from someone on Facebook. I didn't recognize the name, so I opened up the email. The gentleman asked if I was related to Judith Ann G (my mom) from KCK. I tried to think- was this someone maybe mom had worked with at the community center or at the bank? I replied that yes, she was my mom, but I was sorry to say that she had passed away. I asked if he knew her.

The reply I got could have knocked me over with a feather. If I had not been on the bus, I'm pretty sure I would have screamed! He replied that no, he did not know my mother but...he was born on June 9, 1977. He had adoption paperwork with my mom's name on it. My mom had a son, NOT a daughter! I have a brother!

We discussed so much and still have much more to learn from each other. He's married with a family, has a good job and loves life. He's not bitter or resentful of the fact that Mom gave him up for adoption at all. He was blessed to have been adopted in to a loving family, with lots of brothers and sisters and parents who truly cared.

We talked about our kids, our lives, almost anything we could think of. We're going to meet this coming weekend. I'm looking forward to it, but at the same time, will let him determine how close he wants to be, how much he wants to know. I'm determined not to pressure him in any way.

Isn't it funny? He called on his birthday, almost 7 months to the day after Mom's passing. All this time I was fretting over looking for what I thought was my sister, I actually had a brother who has lived in the area his entire life. When he found Mom's name on his adoption papers, he had found me online within about 30 minutes.

I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason, and that things fall in to place exactly when they are meant to. My life never ceases to amaze me!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Completely Random

I'm just going to write whatever pops up in to my head and let's see what happens....

OK, Chickenhead's last day of school was yesterday. Yay! Even though he left early because he was sick, it was a day for celebration. Sure, he decided to celebrate by sleeping off a fever, but the Husband and I celebrated by discussing all of the dippy parents we wouldn't be dealing with next year, and the general decline of our school district. Childish and immature, why yes, thanks for noticing.

In other Chickenhead news, I'm getting ready to plan his birthday party. Because of some people in my husband's family, planning this party has involved hand holding, eye rolling, tongue biting and negotiation skills worthy of a U.N. ambassador. I'm at the point where I'm saying 'screw it', and just focusing on the things that will make the birthday boy happy. The Husband and I are betting that the people we are feeling pressured to bend over backwards for won't even show up. I'm getting tired of suffering the stupid people in my life!

We're gearing up for our garage sale in a couple of weeks. The inside of the Casa looks like Fred Sanford's front yard, but hopefully I'll rake in some cash. I've got a little bit of everything and still have more to go through. Hopefully I'll get that done this weekend.

June is going to be a busy month! We're celebrating our Memorial Day with a cookout at Grump Manor next weekend, so that certain family members can attend. Then, the garage sale, the weekend after that is scrapping with my cult-sisters and Father's Day, and then there's Chickenhead's birthday. Phew! I get tired just thinking about it.

Speaking of thinking, I've given a lot of thought to the baby girl my mom gave up for adoption. I've decided that I'm just going to look at the birth records, and then go from there. A very big part of me wants to find her, but I think that would be very selfish of me. I believe that it will be enough for me to know that she was placed in a family that was able to give her a good life. There are national databases online that I can post the info on, and if she's out there looking, I'll let it be her decision to find me.

I have discovered the joys of iced coffee, thanks to my lover, Keurig! It has an iced coffee setting, so I can brew right in to a glass filled with ice, add some sugar and milk, and I'm set! And I'm hooked! Hopelessly addicted!! I plan on drinking it all weekend. I should be able to get a LOT done if I'm that jacked on caffeine!

I'm hoping for a quiet, peaceful weekend. Watch it get all jacked up! I hope you have a wonderful Memorial Day!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Somewhere Out There...

Ok, I first visited this subject back in August, and while it never left my mind completely, it kind of got put on the back burner.

From the time I found out that my mom did have a baby that she gave up for adoption, until the time she passed, that baby was never far from my mind. So many times, I came so close to asking my mom about it, but I couldn't bring myself to do it. She was so sick, and some days she just wasn't herself. I was so afraid of upsetting her that I chose to play it safe and say nothing. I have a feeling that towards the end of her life, my mom thought about it often. I don't know for certain, but on more than one occasion, she said that God must be punishing her for something terrible that she did. She said that God must hate her for some reason. She felt that her failing health was divine payback for what had to have been a difficult choice for her.

So now that it's been six months since her death, I find myself thinking about this baby again. Of course, she's not a baby now, she would be a 32-yr old woman. I have located the birth records for the hospital where my mom gave birth, and pretty much all it would take to get some of the details is filling out a form and taking a short ride over to the hospital where they are kept now.

For now, all I really want is to know her date of birth, and if possible, if she was adopted. I hope that she was adopted by a family that loved her and gave her everything that my mom wouldn't have been able to give her. I hope that she had a happy childhood filled with birthday parties and sleepovers and first dates and proms and everything that means so much to a young girl. I hope she went to college, found someone to love, and has a family of her own.

I don't know if I want to meet her, but at the same time, I wonder, has she tried to find her birth mother? Has she wondered about the woman who gave her up? Does she have questions about her biological family? The last thing I would ever want to do is contact her out of the blue when that may not be something that she wants, but the curiosity is great. I have the form filled out, it's just a matter of getting in the car and taking that drive...

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

So Anyway...

Every day, I think about something I want to write or vent about on here, and I never get around to it. There has been so much going on lately, in my life and in the world. I think for tonight, I'll just tackle the easy stuff!

Chickenhead is almost done with 4th grade. Today in class, the split up the boys and the girls and you know what that means...yep, THE MOVIE. I asked him if he had any questions about anything, and he said no, but that he thought it would be really cool to have a 10-ft. penis. How am I supposed to respond to that? So I just said nothing. I think it's better that way.

Friday, he and The Husband are going on a field trip with the homeschooling group he'll be a part of next year. I am really excited about this! It's through Lawrence Virtual Schools, and there are around 1,000 kids across Kansas right now that are part of the program. They are part of the program that I wrote about a couple of weeks ago. The best thing about LVS is they supply not only all the books and class supplies that we'll need, but also a laptop! All for $97 for the entire school year!! Chickenhead is looking forward to the field trip, and I think if he gets to hang out with the other kids, he'll be even more excited about homeschooling.

Let's see, what else...Mother's Day was bittersweet. I had a lovely weekend, but it was very hard without my mom. I cried most of the weekend. When I wasn't crying, we went and got a new dryer, I bought some clothes at Kohl's and we had a yummy MD dinner at Jose Peppers. It was rough, though, not buying a card for her this year. I sat down to make cards for my friends, but my not heart just wasn't in it.

And so, that's my life in a nutshell right now. Nothing too terribly exciting going on at the moment. Sometimes, that's a good thing!

Monday, April 26, 2010


This past weekend, I was able to get away from it all for a little while. On Saturday, I packed up all my supplies and went scrapping with my friends! It had been ages since I had been able to sit down and work on some pages, and it seems like it had been even longer since I had hung out with my girlies. I missed them! I think we spent more time laughing and eating than we did scrapping, but that's OK. We always have fun whenever we're together.

One of the best things about our get-togethers is the food! There were honey-pecan li'l smokies, regular li'l smokies, some amazing dips, these incredible cream-cheese cinnamon roll ups that my friend (and host this time) Dyna makes (I've got to get this recipe, it's super simple), and I made cupcakes. But not just any cupcakes, I wanted to try something different this time.

I love making the unexpected, and this time I really did it with french toast and bacon cupcakes! I don't usually toot my own horn when it comes to my cooking, but beep, beep, baby, because these were good! The cupcake part is made with extra cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla for the french toast flavor. The frosting was a fantastic maple buttercream that was super easy to make. The garnish? The bacon, of course! I found the recipe here. It was written very clearly, and was very easy to follow. If you don't want to bake from scratch, you could probably get a similar result from a yellow cake mix, just adding the vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg.

Once I got home, I ran down to the Manhole to spend time with the Husband and Chickenhead. I expected Butters to be on her wheel, running her little legs off. But she wasn't. I looked around in her cage and I didn't see her. Then I looked at the side of her cage- the little lookout hatch was open!! Butters had escaped! I casually asked, 'hey, where's Butters?' You would have thought I had yelled, 'FIRE!!', because Chickenhead and the Husband jumped up from their respective perches in .05 seconds. Poor Chickenhead started freaking out and crying, because he was sure Butters was dead. I calmed him down by telling him that if he was upset, it would scare Butters and it would make it harder to find her. The Husband and I began searching, but it was Chickenhead that found her. Butters hadn't gotten far- she was under the coffee table, less than 5 feet from the table her cage is on. After we got her back in her cage, I decided that I had had enough excitement for one day, and I went to bed.

Chickenhead stayed down in the Manhole as they were watching horror movies. Of course, around 3:30, he came in to my room asking if he could sleep with me, using the excuse of Butters' wheel keeping him awake. I'm sure that was a small part of it, I think it was more the scary movies than anything else!

Probably just like Butters, I'm plotting my next escape, too!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

When Did I Lose All Sense of Control?

Where have the past two weeks gone? My life is a blur these days, and I'm getting tired of it. Let me see if I can take a deep breath and get us all up to speed.

OK, first thing. We have decided NOT to move. YAY!! We're going to stay here for one more year. We have no idea where the hell we want to move to, and honestly, I just could not get excited about packing up 7 years worth of crap to move to a home that I may not like. In a neighborhood that I may not like. When it comes to change, I'm fickle. Minor things I can adapt to with no problem, but big things? I will fight tooth and nail before I finally give in. But the Husband and I decided that if we stayed here for one more year, it would give us time to decide where we want to go, what type of house we want, etc. We don't have to rush ourselves (meaning me, mostly)and we can focus on what we really want.

Chickenhead has a new pet, a hamster named Butters. I'm not a rodent person, so for me to allow this fancy rat in to my home was a huge concession on my part. But Chickenhead adores her! He's in to taking care of her, putting her in her ball, etc. I can tell though, that Butters does not like me! She gives me major bitch-face, her little hamster lips curled up in a sneer while she gives me the side-eye. Whatever, sister. I paid for your scraggly butt, so you better be nice to me!

The school year is almost over, and we have made a huge decision about Chickenhead's education next year. We are going to homeschool! Chickenhead had a great teacher this year, but the problem is the assessment testing. It seems that at our school, they spend most of the class time focusing only on reading and math. Science, geography, history and social studies only get touched on here and there. Also, it doesn't seem like they really learn *how* to study for a test, it's just rote memorization. We think that for Chickenhead, studying at home will be the best option for him. And no, I won't have to wear a denim jumper, grow my hair long or have another 18 or so kids! We're looking at the K12program. In this program, Chickenhead would do all of his daily work on a laptop, and then a teacher would check his work via remote access on the laptop. It will be a chance for him to get the attention he needs in class, and work at his own pace. And, we'll get to focus on the things that really interest him like art and science. There are also local K12 groups, so he can connect in real-life with his online classmates. And he'll still have Cub Scouts, so Chickenhead will have a lot of social contact.

Things got kind of nuts around here for a while, but hopefully, I've got everything under control! Let's hope, anyway.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

What's Goin On

I don't usually use my blog to talk a lot about politics or religion because they are deeply personal and often divisive topics. But the past few weeks have brought to light even more damaging accusations of abuse against the Catholic church, and I'd like to talk about it.

Yesterday, the AP reported that in 1985, then cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict) stalled the removal of a San Franciscan priest who had pleaded no contest to tying up and molesting two youths in the church rectory in 1978. The notion that the man who is now 'God's representative here on Earth' knowingly covered up and ignored reports of abuse is to me, repulsive. In his words at the time, the Pope said he was worried about what removing this priest did to the "universal good of the church".

When did children become something we use and then toss aside? When did society decide to turn a blind eye to the actions of men (and women)who wrap themselves in the mantle of the divine? I know that many Catholics believe that the actions of the higher ups in Rome don't affect them, or that the money that the put in the collection plate each week doesn't support this massive cover up, but it does.

I read this comment the other day on a Yahoo news story about the allegations against the Pope-

"If you've never had to rush a child to the ER to have lacerated intestines stitched back together; if you never had to hold a child who trembled and shuddered each time he/she had to go potty; if you never had to wash the blood from their underwear or take them to ER to have their esophagus repaired; if you never looked into a pup tent covered in blood from slit wrists or had to chase a tormented child through the woods because they were trying to escape themselves and if you never had to cut a dead child down from a tree, you really haven't seen the reality of what these demon seeds from hell do to kids. I have seen this with my own two eyes. When you can say you have seen those things, then maybe, just maybe, you'll realize this has nothing to do with any church. It has everything to do with criminals and those who protect them. The next time you say it's only God who judges, keep in mind that he gave mankind the power to reason. Do you think it's about time they put it into effect?"

While I cringe at the graphic details of that statement,it made me realize that it's time for us as a society to say 'enough' to the pedophiles and the organizations that protect them. It's time for us to listen to the children and to listen to the adults who were once these tortured children themselves.

Have we as a society become so jaded that we no longer care about the basic well being of a child? Yesterday a news story broke about a Tennessee woman who sent her adopted son back to Russia on a plane by himself, because she couldn't care for him. Who puts a 9 year old child on a plane on a child by himself with a note pinned to his jacket? She found someone on the internet who agreed to meet the boy at the airport for $200. The little boy had no idea he was going away for good, he had no idea what was happening at all. The adoptive mother and her mother claim that he was a danger to himself and to others, but instead of seeking help for him, they shipped him back like they were returning an order to Amazon.

My heart breaks on a daily basis it seems, for the children who have to remain silent, who can't speak up for themselves for whatever reason. I find myself thinking of a statistic I read once. It said that one in four girls have been sexually abused by the time they turn 18. For boys, it's one in ten that have been abused by the time they reach adulthood. There are 28 children in Chickenhead's class; it's a very real and very tragic possibility that one of his classmates has been or is being abused in some way.

I wish I had the answer for how to end all of this, but I don't. I think a place to start is by advocating for children. I think we need to listen to the children in our lives and we need to speak up for them when necessary. We need to stop sticking our heads in the sand, and thinking 'oh that doesn't happen to anyone I know/in my church/neighborhood, etc'. The only way we have any hope of ever eradicating the abuse of children is to shine a light on it and expose it and the perpetrators. Only then can we hope that our children can begin to heal.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Hello, Lover!

I have to confess, there's someone new in my life. Hey, I have needs. And there are some needs that the Husband just can't satisfy. Sometimes, I need something hot. Sometimes, I need something rich. So I did what I had to do...

I bought a Keurig!

What were you thinking, hmm? I have wanted one of these babies for a long time. I love a good cup of coffee, but I'm the only one here that drinks it, so making a whole pot is wasteful. Going to the coffee shop every day can get pretty pricey, too. So a couple of weekends ago while I was lazing away on the sofa and flipping through the TV channels, I landed on QVC. I will watch QVC for hours on end, but never order anything. But not this time! Because they had this coffee maker, the water filter, the 'my K-Cup' and and assortment of 48 K-Cups for an amazing price that was split up in to four low payments. It was destiny, destiny, I tell you, that I happened upon QVC at that moment.

So I've spent the past week sampling all the different coffees that they sent me. I have to admit, I'm not wild about the extra-dark roasts, but I'll manage. When the time comes, though, I'll order a milder roast. Or, I can just buy my favorite coffee at the store and use the 'my K-cup'. Either way, my needs are satisfied!

In other news, we're apparently ready for Easter here at the Casa. Take a look at the egg Chickenhead decorated at school today-

Meet John, the Angry Easter Egg. I don't know why he's angry. I didn't really want to ask. I made Chickenhead put him in the fridge. John scares me.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Spring Has Sprung, and I'm Ready To Spring This Joint

Well, I didn't realize it has been two weeks since my last post. Things have been crazy around here, and I'm not even really sure why. Let me see if I can recall everything...

I had a couple of days off, St. Pats and the 18th. We didn't go to the parade this year, because the weather was kind of drizzly and crappy. Instead, I went to see my friend Gayle, and got my hair did. A totally new hairstyle! Instead of having the mousy, stringy mop that was my old hair, my new and improved hair is a little shorter with layers and the color, oh the color! I told Gayle that I LOVED Sharon Osbourne's hair, but wasn't quite sure if I was ready to commit to that bold a color. She said not to worry, she would cook up something great. And she did! It's a dark brunette, with deep burgundy red highlights. I left her salon feeling like a million bucks! Then, I went to the eye doctor. I got new contacts, and new glasses. Again, a whole new look there, too. I picked out some dark brown frames, and I love them. Chickenhead said they make me look like a nerd, but whatever. I'm a hot nerd!

On the house hunt front...oh this is the thing that is just making me sick. Long story short, we didn't get the loan. But, we still want to move. I need to decide soon if I'm going to give Loony Landlady our notice. But first, we need to figure out where the hell we're moving to! And the moving itself. I have nightmares about it, I really do. We've lived here in the Casa for almost 7 years, and that is a LOT of crap, my friends. All the cabinets and drawers and closets to clean out. All the crap in the garage that the Husband has to sort through. And I'm not even going to mention Chickenhead's room. It doesn't really bother me as much as I thought it would that we didn't get the loan. What bothers me is that we seem to just be floating in limbo right now, not really knowing where we want to move to, let alone getting off of our butts and actually looking for a house. And the garage sale! We need to figure out when we're going to have the garage sale!

Chickenhead is doing well, except for one thing. Friday night, he told me he was having trouble breathing and his heart was beating really fast. I asked him if this happened all the time, and he said no, only in the evenings. The Husband and I think it may be related to the new ADD medication his doctor put Chickenhead on. I didn't have him take it yesterday or today, and I'm going to talk to his doctor tomorrow before I give it to him again. As much as I like for him to pay attention in school, I don't want him to have a heart attack doing it. That's not cool at all!

So that's about all that's going on. I got a mini-makeover and I have no idea what's going on. Nothing too unusual about that, I suppose.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Men I Like- The Midlife Crisis Repeat Edition

Dear Lord I can't help myself. I suppose every woman has her 'free pass'. You know, the guy that's number 1 on her fantasy list, the guy that if, she hooked up with, her husband would turn a blind eye. You've got one, right? Well, I've come to realize, I have one, too. I don't think I've ever had a repeat for 'Men I Like', but this guy does it for me. It makes me fee slightly skeevy, knowing that I'm old enough to be his mom, but I think part of the pleasure of the free pass fantasy dude is that you know it's ok to think shameful thoughts about him, because it's not like you're ever going to see him. You never have to worry about looking perfect for him, making sure your legs are shaved, everything is plucked and spandex'd in to submission. You can just be you. So, I'm done rambling now, let us just feast our eyes on the pictorial. Most of these were from a photo gallery on Rolling Stone magazine's website.

Mmm-hmm...I see you baby...shakin' that thing...

Have mercy...wait, who's feet are those?!

Yes, momma likey!!

Just to prove that I'm not obsessed and need a sedative and possibly a restraining order, the next couple of Men I Like posts will shine the spotlight on a couple of other very delightful winter Olympians. I'm fine! Really!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Keeping It Really Real

My title today is a play on a common phrase at one of the more popular blogs out there in blog-land. You know which one. The one and only Pioneer Woman.

Now, let me state first and foremost, that I am NOT going to bash Ree personally. I don't know her, other than the brief moment I met her at her book signing here in Kansas City. This is more about Pioneer Woman than Ree. Because I don't believe that recent events demonstrate that PW is keeping it real; it's more a case of her altering reality to fit the needs of her blog.

I've been a regular reader of Mrs.G., first at Derwad Manor and now at The Women's Colony. If you've never been to the Colony, do yourself a favor and visit. There are a bunch of wonderful women over there, writing, talking, exchanging ideas. It's truly one of my favorite places on the web. I actually found Mrs.G. through Pioneer Woman, and I truly loved Mrs. G's home-schooling articles on PW's site.

Needless to say, I was more than dismayed that an article of Mrs. G's that was published last week caused such an uproar. An uproar of such epic proportions, that not only were people posting hateful, vitriolic comments about Mrs. G at PW's blog, but they were also spreading their hate speech to The Women's Colony. Further, two people took it upon themselves to find Mrs. G.'s phone number and CALL HER AT HOME. All the while, Ree sat by quietly and simply deleted any negative comments from her blog. At no time did she say anything to her posters about the judgmental comments that some of them made, at no time did she address the hate and intolerance that some of them exhibited so viciously. Instead, on Sunday evening, Ree instead posted a comment of her own, that really came off kind of half-hearted and had a 'can't we all get along' vibe.

I suppose that if that works for her, fine. It's her blog, after all, and she can moderate or not as she chooses. But, I've lost a huge amount of respect for her for throwing Mrs. G under the bus, letting her twist in the wind, however you want to term it. I'm sure that Ree has her reasons for what she did. Maybe she didn't want to offend her readers or her sponsors. Maybe she wants her blog to reflect some idealized perfection that she feels it needs to conform to. I don't know. All I do know is that I found her silence and then fiddle-dee-dee attitude more offensive than anything Mrs. G. could have ever written.

I've learned at the Women's Colony, that not only does Mrs. G. have her contributors backs, but she has the back of every woman that comments as well. At the same time, she's not above calling someone out when they engage in stupid ass internet BS. For that reason, I'm done with PW. I doubt she'll miss me, and to be honest, I wouldn't care if she did or not. I need integrity and tolerance much more than I need pictures of calf nuts.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Tales of a Fashion Don't

While I try to keep up with the times when it comes to clothing, I'm not a slave to fashion. At least not like I was when I was single. Hey, once I bagged the Husband, the race was over! I retired and put myself out to pasture. So to speak.

And sure, when I was in high school, I followed all the latest trends: skin-tight designer jeans, leg warmers, big hair, lace gloves and those black rubbery bangles, I was all over it. I really thought I had it going on.

But as I've been going through my mom's pictures, I've come across some disturbing evidence that even then, I had fashion challenges. Observe-

Senior year, as a member of the flag squad. I look like I want to cram that flag pole somewhere.

Also from senior year, my best friend Rhonda (in the pink) and me in a blue dress that my friend Carol accurately described as 'having more ruffles than a bag of chips'. We were pretty shiny that night, huh?

Maybe it wasn't just me? The 80's were pretty bad fashion-wise for everyone, right? Is there something hiding in the back of your closet that you'd rather forget?

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Men I Like- The Hot Ginge Edition

Oh dear. Here I go again. My friends truly don't get my taste in men. I suppose I can understand, I mean not every woman can appreciate the raw charisma of Mickey Roarke, or the undeniable talent of Joaquin Phoenix(although I'm still wondering WTF about him). No, I'm perfectly OK with the fact that I have quirky taste in men.

Today's man I like is technically young enough to be my son. Or I'm technically old enough to be his mother. Whatever. He's got red hair and I tell you what, there is something about red hair that gets people riled up. They either love it, or they hate it. I happen to love it. Conan O'Brien? Gorgeous, IMO. Lucille Ball? Comedic genius, I'm sure we all can agree. But there is no doubt that red hair definitely strikes a cord with people.

Today's man I like has been described as the love child of these two-
Carrot Top (who is a scary redhead, kind of like Pennywise the clown in 'It')

and Frances McDormand (one of my most favorite things about the movie 'Fargo')

Yes, I am talking about Olympic gold-medalist Shaun White. Let's stop for a moment to gaze-

I think part of what makes him so attractive to me is the fact that he's doing such extreme stunts, and he makes it look so easy. He skateboards, snowboards, skydives, etc., and to someone like me (who can barely walk and chew gum at the same time) the fact that he gets off on flying down a snow-packed mountain on a piece of wood is pretty awesome! He's a sports rock star, but at the same time, Shaun White is carefully maintaining his public image, because he knows that kids look up to him. We haven't heard anything negative about him (not yet, so don't blow it, Shaun)and as a parent, I appreciate that.

When you break down the parts of his features, he's not conventionally good looking by any means. But he carries himself well; his confidence comes shining through. Confidence and self-assurance are very sexy traits, I do believe. He's got nice teeth, too!

Finally, let's check him out in action-

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Life In The Fast Lane (is slowing me down)

So, my blogging has been sporadic as of late. It seems like I just haven't had enough time lately. Where does all the time go, was I always stretched this thin? Why am I not thin, what with all this stretching?

Anyway, I will briefly summarize the MIL story:

My MIL, while good intentioned, has some personal issues that quite often lead her to make some not so wise choices. You would think, that being 60 years old, she would have learned by now that lying and deception never really get you anywhere. But I guess she loves a good challenge, because she never stops trying. Maybe I should admire her determination to beat the system and stick it to the man every chance she gets.

After being married to The Husband for 15 years, I have pretty much learned to take anything his mother tells me, divide it in half and subtract six, and then I might have an inkling of what the truth is. After being in the hospital for four days because of a diabetic episode, she came to stay with us. Let me say right here that I am not a diabetic, but I'm not stupid. I know that if you say, drink two 12-packs of Coke, eat a tub of caramel sauce, an entire loaf of bread and frozen dinners, your diabetes is not 'under control' no matter how often you test or how diligently you take your insulin. Insulin does not cancel out the Coke.

Whenever my MIL comes over, I'll admit it, I become a nervous wreck. I'm always waiting for something to happen, like finding one of her fake fingernails in an ice cube or having to listen to her dry heave all night long. This time though, she crossed the line. She slept in my bed. IN MY BED! Am I the only one that has an issue with someone else sleeping in their bed? Am I the only Momma Bear out there? Maybe it wouldn't have bothered me so much if she hadn't moved my nightstand so that she could plug in her cell phone, and I know I wouldn't have come unglued if she hadn't left the used kleenex under my pillow. But when I asked her about it and she gave me not one, but three (3!!) BS excuses in less than five minutes, I knew that I. Was. Done.

I know that a lot of her issues are caused by a combination of uncontrolled diabetes and some other medical issues, so please don't mis-understand me. I do want to see her get well and stay well. But, medical issues are no excuse for not respecting someone else's privacy. When that boundary got crossed, I lost respect. The whole episode is over now, and she's back home, and doing relatively well, all things considering.

In other Casa news, I think we're going to go house shopping this weekend. It's hard for me to get excited about it right now. Everything isn't as firm with the bank as I thought it was, so I don't want to fall in love with some house only to find out we wouldn't be able to get it. I don't like being in limbo!

Chickenhead is still growing his hair for Locks of Love. I'm anxious to see how long he will actually do this. He mentioned in passing that he has a strings concert coming up at the local high school, but he doesn't know when it is. Which means, much like the show in January, we'll be running around at the last minute trying to find something for him to wear. He thinks it's the 19th. Of March. Or maybe April. Guess I'd better email the strings teacher, huh?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Just Another Day In Paradise

Huzzah, huzzah, huzzah!!!! The MIL, who has been crashed out on my sofa for a week now, due to ISSUES, is leaving tomorrow! I would like to say that I love and respect this woman, but she has severely tested the boundaries of our relationship, and right now, I just can't. I have a deep-seated mistrust of her, and have lost all respect for her. I don't know if I can come back from that, at least not at the moment.

Other than that, things are going good. We are cautiously excited- we got approved for a home loan! We can now be in life-long debt, just like the rest of America! Yay us!! We were supposed to meet with a Realtor this past weekend, but the weather caused us to reschedule for this coming Wednesday. We still haven't quite decided on where we want to live, but I think we'll get that figured out soon enough. For now, I'm focusing on looking at houses that are in our price range that are in a good school district.

I missed getting together with my friends on Saturday- I really wanted to scrap with them! I haven't seen them in ages. But, it would have meant leaving the MIL in our house alone for a period of time, and she's proven that she can't be trusted in that situation. I will see them next month, though.

We took Chickenhead to the doctor last Monday for a checkup and a review of his ADD meds. He was using the Daytrana patch, which worked great for a while, but I think his body simply outgrew it. So he's now taking Vyvanese, which I'm able to dissolve in a glass of juice for him each morning. He's doing so much better! It's amazing to see the turnaround he's had in class, even after just one week. He's able to focus, is getting his classwork done and is getting his homework completed in record time. He's even reading on his own, which had really dropped off in the past few months. While I'm not thrilled with him having to take medication, if it's helping him to concentrate in class and get the work done and keep up with his peers, then I'll deal with it. It makes me happy as a parent to see him looking forward to going to school again, and excited about what he's doing in class.

I went to the doctor on Monday as well. I talked with the doctor about how my mom passed away as a result of heart disease and how I was really kind of afraid that I might be headed down that same path. The doctor was great, and he took the time to talk to me, and helped me come up with a plan to continue to try to make the healthier choices when it comes to eating and exercise. I know what I need to be doing, it's just getting myself to do it. I think it's also about accepting that some days are better than others, and if I do have a 'bad' day, I don't beat myself up about it, I just pick myself up and keep going.

And really, that's about all that's going on. I was wanting to make something for the silent auction at school, but didn't get to it. It's just as well, the school carnival is on the same night as the Blue and Gold dinner, so we'll be going to that instead. Maybe next time!

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Adventures of Judi and Judy

Before there was Thelma and Louise, there were these two. My mom, Judi(with an 'i' to be different), the one on the left, and my aunt, Judy, on the right. They were sisters-in-law, and even after my mom and dad divorced, they stayed good friends. Both were named Judith Ann, but both went by 'Judy(i)'. When they were together, people would sometimes call them by their initials, 'J.P', my aunt, and 'J.G.', my mom. Being the 70's hipsters that they were, I recall them having shirts with their initials on them.

Now as far as I know, Judi and Judy never killed or robbed anyone like Thelma and Louise did. Mostly, from what I recall, J.G and J.P went out to a place called Chapmann's and did the bump and danced to B.T.O's 'Takin' Care of Business'.

You may be wondering what they're doing in that photo. Apparently, J.P had hiccups, and somebody told her that if you plug your ears and then take a drink of water, that would get rid of them. Obviously though, you can't plug your ears and hold a glass of water, so that's where my mom J.G came in. I would like to point out some of the hallmarks of the style of 1973: my mom's 'short shag' haircut (which she made me get also), my aunt's bouffant with bangs, and the frosted blue eyeshadow. Good times!

I went along for many adventures, mostly because we all lived together in Arizona for a time. One such adventure involved driving through Arizona with my Uncle Terry, Aunt Judy's brother. Never one to miss a fad, in the 70's Uncle Terry joined the CB craze and had his wood-paneled station wagon tricked out with the latest gear and a big antenna whipping around on the roof.

It was late one night while we were driving, when we got a flat tire. While my uncle was outside changing the tire, my mom and aunt thought they would try their hand at talking with the other CB-ers out there. My aunt picked up the mic and giggling like a school girl with my mom snickering in the background, she pressed the button. "Hey there good buddy! You got your dog on a leash?" (What the hell did that mean?) J.P and J.G laughed at their cleverness and repeated the message. From somewhere out in the dark Arizona night, a reply came back. "10-4 darlin, you got your cat on a string?" That busted them up completely and they were laughing so hard they couldn't talk any more. I just sat in the back seat and listened, waiting to see what would happen next.

Usually, with Judi and Judy, there was always another adventure waiting to be had. I'll tell you some more sometime! Is your cat on a string?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Just Stuff...

It’s been a frustrating week, and it’s only half over! On Monday, I was going to update my blog during my lunch hour. I pulled up IE only to discover that our virus protection system is blocking virtually all blogs. I’ve heard rumors of a virus that some people are picking up from blogs, so I suppose that’s why they’re blocked. I understand, but I have to admit it was a bit unsettling to see a pop-up that said my blog was ‘potentially harmful’. Wow. I feel like a felon! I hate it that I can't get my daily fix of Cake Wrecks or PW, though.

I then planned on writing Tuesday night, and well, it was the season premiere of LOST, and hello, I don’t do anything when LOST is on! This being the final season, we are supposed to have all of our questions answered, but last night left me with more questions than ever. I decided last season that the show is too complex to give too much deep thought to, so I just sit back and enjoy the ride. It will all make sense in the end. Won’t it?

Last night I made myself sit down and do our taxes, and got all happy about our refund. My happiness was killed, though, when I got an email stating that the Fed return had been rejected so I had to go back and fix it and e-file all over again. Now, I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it will be OK.

I took last Friday off, and spent the day at Chickenhead’s school for Kansas Day celebrations. I was a bit wary of the whole thing, but turns out the kids had a blast and so did I! The kids made candles, tin punch candle holders, and homemade butter. The butter was a huge it; the kids simply poured some heavy whipping cream in to a mason jar, put the lid on tight, and shook the jar for 10 minutes. Voila! Butter! We served the kids lunch, which they ate from tin pie-plates, and sat on blankets on the floor. I was really glad I volunteered, and the mom’s who were in charge of the event did a great job.

Towards the end of this month is the school carnival and I‘ll be making a couple of things for the silent auction. I’ve also been working more on going through my mom’s things, and have gotten a lot accomplished. Now if I could just get rid of that dollhouse kit! Anyone wanna buy a dollhouse kit? Let me know!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A Lifetime

i carry your heart with me

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

ee cummings

My Darling Husband,

I can scarcely believe that we have been married for 15 years. In some ways, and on some days, it seems as though we've been together forever. For freakin-ever!! But then again, it sometimes feels like those years have flown by in a matter of days. These 15 years we have shared have brought me my highest highs and the lowest of lows. Some days, I have wanted to run away as far and as fast as I could (which if you've seen my Wii Fit score, is not far or fast at all), and most days, I could never imagine a life without you in it.

You and I have seen the best and worst of each other. We've been there for each other through thick and thin, good times and bad. Loving you has made me a better, stronger person. Seeing you grow as a person has made me proud to be your wife. Knowing how much you love Chickenhead, and seeing the closeness that the two of you share fills my heart with love and joy. You and I both know how difficult a childhood without love can be.

I could go on and on with this, but I won't. I will close this by simply saying that you are my heart, you and our son are my world. Thank you for 15 of the best years of my life. I love you.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I Choose Joy

I just want to take a moment from my ogling and fantasizing about Anderson Cooper to reflect on something.

One of my most favorite quotes comes from 13th-century Persian poet/philosopher, Rumi. "The hurt you embrace becomes joy". For a long time, I didn't quite fully understand those words, even though they touched my heart.

Over the past couple of weeks, though, the true meaning of this has become clear to me. When I wrote my blog entry for December 31, I had no idea how my words would impact others. I really just wrote it to free myself of something that had been sucking my spirit dry for years. On New Year's day, a relative called, in tears because she had read my blog. Of course she had no idea that this was part of my past. I felt bad that I had upset her, but she felt bad for me! Since then, others who have read that entry have been incredibly kind and supportive, and have said nothing but encouraging, hopeful words to me. For every one's support, I thank you.

I learned to embrace something that had caused me a lot of pain, and I let it go. And in doing so, I have found an indescribable joy, clarity and peace becuase of my decision to write those words. Our lives are what we choose them to be, and every day, we can make the choice to be happy or not. I choose to be happy, I choose joy.

And now I'm choosing to go back to staring at that picture of Anderson Cooper, so carry on!

Men I Like- The Silver Fox Edition

You know what our country is sorely lacking? A good news man (or woman). Someone who will tell it like it is, and not be afraid to get their hands dirty to deliver us a good news story. Walter Cronkite is gone, as is Peter Jennings, two of the all-time greats in my opinion. But thankfully, we've got a guy who has some serious potential- Anderson Cooper.

Yes, Anderson Cooper. Have you watched AC360, his CNN news program lately? It's good stuff. And even better than his studio work is Anderson's 'in the field' reporting, first in the days following Katrina in New Orleans, and now in post-earthquake Haiti. Time and time again, he goes beyond just covering a news story, and genuinely cares about what he's covering. Check out this video of him helping a boy to safety in Haiti (warning- it's graphic)

He doesn't seem to care about covering the looting that's going on around him, he just wants that little boy to be safe.

What else do I love about AC? Well, his mom is Gloria Vanderbilt, and I loved her jeans when I was in high school. He's an admitted 'Real Housewives of Atlanta' fan, and he let's Kathy Griffin drop the f-bomb on TV, which is always good for a few giggles. And while rumor has it that I may not be of the right persuasion to catch Anderson's eye, I don't care. He's a good news man, and all around great guy. And hello, he's hot! Check out that bod!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Right Now...

Right now, there is nothing going on at the Casa that is more important than what is going on in Haiti. The devastation is at times, incomprehensible. I have been appalled at the comments made by American idiots at large, Pat Robertson and Rush Limbaugh. I'm not going to dwell on them though, because in the end, their words, their hate and their ignorance will come back to haunt them. Karma's a bitch, boys.

I cried watching the news this morning, hearing that an 11-year old girl who was pulled from the rubble died after she was transferred to a hospital. I cried tears of happiness while watching a report on an 18-month old baby girl who was pulled out of the rubble and survived, and was reunited with her uncle. He's the only living relative she has now. I cried because I have so much, and there are so many who have nothing.

I am reminded of the saying that no one person can do everything, but together, we can all do something. I made a $10 donation to the American Red Cross by texting 'HAITI' to 90999. I know first hand how difficult times are here for us in the States. But I encourage everyone to donate whatever you can. There are few events in our lifetime that require us all to pause our ignorance, our prejudices and selfishness for a while and stand together for a cause. I think this is one of those times we need to stand together.

For a complete list of legitimate organizations you can donate to, please check out this list at CBS' web site.

In a gentle way, you can shake the world. - Gandhi

**Edit- Also, you can play the Free Rice game down on the left side of my blog, or go to their site and your clicks will go towards helping out with food in Haiti. Free Rice helps to support the United Nations World Food Programme, so not only will you learn a thing or two, but sitting on your butt here in front of the computer will actually help out!