Thursday, December 29, 2011

Augmented Autism App Development Assistance

I have a cousin who designs various programs...and instead of making this into a long post of explanations I'm going to post one of his current Facebook statuses:
 
"Researching ways to contribute to Augmented Autism apps. There is potential to help those with ASD, Down's Syndrome, Parkinson's, and others. Target areas would include speech impairment, limited motor control, and other ways to better enable human interaction and communication by those challenged by it. If you know of anyone who would like to contribute as well, through programming, awareness or beta testing, please let me know. Targeting iPad and Android tablets."

I've offered to assist him in this because I know a great number of intelligent folks who know folks and the like who can offer suggestions, testing, info, etc to help him in his endeavors.  Please feel free to share this post with others who also may be able to offer their suggestions, thoughts, ideas, and experiences.  I will share your comments with him, or your contact info if you so desire, etc with the hopes of more and better applications being developed to assist those who would benefit.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

OMG! YAY! I'm so excited!!!


babies

Years & years ago I learned that my best friend was unable to have children.  While she was pregnant with her first child her very abusive ex-husband, to put it mildly, stomped her into labor when she was 7 months pregnant, end result being a hysterectomy when she was only about 19 years old and the loss of her son.  I learned about this about 7 years ago.

At the time that I'd learned about it I was a single mom to Mikeal with no plans of settling down anytime soon & no plans of having any more children as a result, for quite some time.  She & I tentatively made a deal that I would be a surrogate mother for her, after her now, wonderful, fianceé was ready.  He drug his feet, was overseas for a while (Army related), I moved away, moved back, then ended up getting engaged to Brian & pregnant with Mikaila...got married, yada yada... Which threw a new curve in the mix because we not only had to get her fianceé to go along/agree/be ready for it, but Brian had to also be on board.

Finally everything fell into place.  Last October (in 2010) Brian approached the subject with me...I'd not even mentioned it in months, if not a year or two...and said he was on board with me being a surrogate for them.  Surprisingly within days the fianceé was also on board with it.  We started researching, I worked to get my stupid hormone crap under control (it's still not there), but our real hang-up was money.  They live in Texas.  We live in Tennessee.  He has a strict work schedule & I just don't have the money to make the trip out there to be impregnated, especially if it didn't take the first time around.

Anyways...skip along to a couple of weeks ago...

They have a baby in the baking process that they are planning on adopting.  The parents are quite young, she's only 20, the daddy is only maybe 22, if that...and they already have a 3 year old & 5 month old.  She lost her job not too terribly long ago, thus resulting in losing their health insurance, that was paying for the birth control, thus resulting in this new baby.  He just works as a dishwasher at this time.  I don't know all the details of how my friend & this couple ran across each other, but this young couple is intent on putting the new baby up for adoption since they are unable to afford him/her....and unable to afford to get an abortion even. 

Medical law states that a woman is unable to get her tubes tied until after she has either had 3 children or is over the age of 21.  Insurance 80% of the time doesn't even pay for birth control...and without insurance birth control is nearly equal to a light bill on a monthly basis.  Also, when you live in a Republican ran state services like Planned Parenthood - where birth control is often provided for free or at a very low cost - are unavailable...but you can still get an abortion under the right circumstances, aka with enough money...

Anyways...the baby is due June 18th and I'm absolutely over the moon for them!  I know they're going to be awesome parents and are two of the most deserving folks I know.  I'd still happily be a surrogate/egg donor for them if the road ever leads to that direction in the future.  For now though I'm just as happy with being Aunty Stephi!  ♥  ♥



Friday, December 9, 2011

I've Been Busy

Well...kinda...I am on a semester break from school, so I'm not quite as busy as I could be...


Click to enlarge to see the awesomness....

What you're not able to see is just off to the right is my sewing desk that is covered in more glass cleaner, more presents, more wrapping paper, more boxes, more finished glass pieces, wallpaper samples, the dead desktop tower, window frames, and I'm not quite sure what's in that little storage container.  My knitting stuff though is in the living room in a tote box behind the recliner, next to many books I have on my "want to read while I'm on break between classes" list.  There is also a 6ft tall bookshelf behind me as I took this picture, with 6 shelves of glass stuff, shipping stuff, material, and 'crapola'....last week everything was nice & neat & in it's proper, labeled place.  My head feels like that picture - chaotic - because of the chaos of it all.

I'll be really glad when I get done running around tomorrow!  I'm going to get all my not-my-kids' Christmas presents sorted & boxed...or bagged...and maybe even wrap them.  As I bake & frost sugar cookies, make chicken salad sandwiches, finish my chocolate dipped caramel coconut balls, and keep my lovely charming children from killing each other.  The baking & mini sandwiches are for Mikaila's Mad Hatter Wonderland Tea Party that is going to be held on Saturday...the Party is also for two little girlfriends of hers as well...5 year old born on Dec 4; 3 year old Dec 11; Mikaila will be 4 on Dec 13.  In addition to the three of them we're expecting roughly another 20-30 people.  Yay.  FUCK!  I still need to get Mikeal's card suit made - he's going to be attending the party as a Card Soldier.

Also starting to think that Brian is coming down with the flu...which sucks...and doesn't suck something as delicious as caramel coconut chocolate balls either.





I need a drink.  I like vodka, wine, Guiness, oh forget it, I'll take whatever alcohol you can bring to me.  Please.  I know you love me.  ☺

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Tuesday Thoughts

Just talk yourself up
And tear yourself down
You built your wooden wall
Now find a way around
Well what's the problem?
You've got a lot of nerve

So what did you think I would say?
No you can't run away, no you can't run away
So what did you think I would say?
No you can't run away, no you can't run away
You wouldn't

I never wanted to say this
You never wanted to stay
I put my faith in you, so much faith
And then you just threw it away
You threw it away

I'm not so naive
My sorry eyes can see
The way you fly shy
Of almost everything
Well, if you give up
You'll get what you deserve

So what did you think I would say?
No you can't run away, no you can't run away
So what did you think I would say?
No you can't run away, no you can't run away
You wouldn't

I never wanted to say this
You never wanted to stay
I put my faith in you, so much faith
And then you just threw it away
You threw it away

You were finished long before
We had even seen the start
Why don't you stand up, be a man about it?
Fight with your bare hands about it now

I never wanted to say this
You never wanted to stay well did you
I put my faith in you, so much faith
And then you just threw it away

I never wanted to say this
You never wanted to stay
I put my faith in you, so much faith
And then you just threw it away

Friday, November 4, 2011

Friday Fancy


**The quote is my own.  I grabbed the picture from www.freenaturepictures.com .**

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Annoyed. It's petty, really.

Petty little gripe that most will find silly or something.

I have relatively long eye lashes...not freakishly long like my children, but long/thick enough that I don't need fancy mascara to make them look long & thick...

So I have stupid fancy mascara anyways because I was able to get it for free.

Gripe list:
1 - With the lengthing/false looking lashes mascara crap (really, it is crap, do not get the one that is in a purple container that says Falsies) my eye lashes are long enough to get hung on my glasses...in addition to the mascara ALWAYS being super sticky feeling - like someone caked my lashes with sticky gum - so my lashes are constantly sticking to my glasses.

2 - The crap NEVER seems to fucking wash off...BUT also has a tendency to rub/wipe/cry off/smear VERY easily.

3 - Trying to remove it seems futile, unless you sit there and peel the mascara off each individual clumping of lashes, where you can almost guarantee you'll pull 1/3 of your lashes out.

blah. Lame, I know, but I'm annoyed.

ALso? Very glad that that my current annoyance revolves around mascara...besides my final...

It's also way too late after days and weeks of dealing with migraines, people who cause migraines, stress, stress, more stress, and tack on just a wee bit more stress because I really don't think I can stress just how stressed I have been lately.  It's been bad.

And for that, I am thankful that today, my biggest gripe is about mascara.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Things I Carry

Cold metals have left their marks,
The smooth thin lines,
Barely recognizable as the years have passed;
Prove that I am capable of surviving. 

Laid there in fits of drunken anger
The blood, hot against the cold steel,
portrayed my marriage perfectly.

Four of them adorn my body,
each one followed by a promise
of sobriety,
of change,
of transformation.

At the time I believed he would
be the one to perform these actions.

Vile from my heart would fall out,
sounding like gentle roses upon his ears;
promises that I would love him,
be true to him,
and stand by him.

With each instance that I had to reaffirm
these promises to him
my resolve to find a way to escape solidified.

I changed from a young girl
wishing to be blissfully married
to a mother of a young child.

I transformed myself
from a scared mother
to a strong,
independent,
single mother.

Fresher marks now adorn my body.

Creases around my mouth and eyes
prove that I have learned to laugh again,
to smile without end.

Other new metals now wrap my finger;
the combination of metals and stones
affirm to me that I am now safe,
loved,
cherished.

The cool metals now warm my heart and soul.

The scars across my abdomen,
numb to the touch
attest that I have birthed two healthy children.

Their laughter and giggles fill my head
and overflow my heart on a daily basis.

My body carries permanent reminders
of a life I once lived
as well as markers of a life I live now.

I sobered up to the idea of what love,
faithfulness,
and marriage was about.

The scars I carry with me
serve as a reminder to a life once lived;
a warning to others of a life that shouldn’t be theirs;
a prayer that intelligence overrides passion.







....Mostly written as part of my Literature writing assignment in response to "The Things They Carried" by Tim O'Brien, but wish to keep it & share it here.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Epic Reveal!



A few months ago I blogged about planning an Epic surprise for someone.

Now, this has not been an easy undertaking by any means! Yes, the first bits came easily - the idea and the plotting of what I wanted to do. But the actual work part...no.

Link
See, the gal the Epic surprise is for is just, well, awesome. Very genuine, friendly, caring, hardworking, just awesome! She has a natural charisma for making others feel incredibly special and it's really hard to describe that type of awesomeness, much less do something that showcases how awesome many folks know her to be!

I'm referring to the awesome JC (@LittleAnimation) of The Animated Woman.


I then went through several of JC's blog posts and printed off as many of the pictures as I could in an effort to try to capture everyone she had animated at that time. I then cut out each of the pictures and arranged as many as I could onto my sheet of glass.

Of course some of the pictures printed off quite large, so I had to enroll @IamIRONDADDY (my darling husband, Brian) into the role of making a smaller replica of some of the pictures because by then my printer was trying to start a revolution against me and he's awesome at such stuff!



I finally had this:
Then I realized, while I was in the process of outlining everything that I left an important one out...so I had to put him in too..


Then I have spent the last several months absolutely freaking out over whether or not I would end up breaking this piece of glass (I even had to make a few trips across town with it, at one point in time it even put a huge scratch in my car door because the damned thing decided to shut on me - instant panic attack)...I had already done this much at that point!


Plus, if you've read some of my previous posts you'll know I'm an absolute klutz and shattering such things is not beyond my realm of capabilities.

Would you believe that I have painted ALL of that with a TOOTHPICK (ok, several tooth picks, but holy cow!) Slowly I've made progress...




Yea, that's right...after two months of working on this @WhyIsDaddyCryin still didn't have any pants!

I've kept up a steady sporadic pace on this piece...the headache is in the details...But I am finally at a point with it that I am now comfortable enough to share it & mail it out very soon!



...and then to pray it makes it all the way to Canada, from Tennessee without breaking.

Now I was not alone in all my planning and plotting and such. I had lots of help. See, I ABSOLUTELY totally suck at keeping secrets...so I had to tell SOMEONE and so there are a dozen or more persons who know about my surprise - some of which have asked to remain anonymous in their part in getting this done...So leave a comment & share your love, thoughts, part...whatever you wish...

But that's not all!  Right now I am holding an awesome giveaway & promotion on all painted glass pieces!  You can find all the details and enter here at Living with Logan!

If you wish to have a custom piece made for yourself or maybe someone you love you can use the contact button on the side or visit my Facebook page - BooMonkey Creations to check out what I have in stock or approach me with your personal requests! 


JC had no clue, prior to the viewing of this blog post, about what we were up to 
...or if she did have a clue she never let on... 
so all images were blatantly stolen from her blog in the anticipation that she would have given permissions beforehand if she'd known what we were up to.

Thank you JC for being an awesome lady!




*important to note that I am currently waiting on final layers of paint to dry then I have to set the glass in the frame before it gets sent out 

**Finally mailed out on November 1, 2011 ~~  Fingernail biting to commence for 6-10 business days after, until safe delivery is confirmed... 


Proud to announce that it made it safely!!!!  You can see the details of the finale here.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Busy Busy

I know I've been scare lately ..short answer I'm busy.

Long answer: I'm VERY busy lately & into the future!

This week I have spent time framing glass pieces for BooMonkey Creations, helping a friend get control of her clutter, I started Literature & Psychology courses this week, kids are home from school for Fall Break - this is two weeks of Fall Break, fun exciting things are getting ready to start happening at BooMonkey Creations, I've had three appointments....and that's just this week.  Next week Mikaila gets her tonsils removed on Monday, Tuesday they have dentist appointments, WEdnesday I have an appointment, oh, and classes, and social obligations, and well, I'm busy and enjoying time with my family & friends.

Have a great day, week, month, until I see you again!  MUAH!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Dark Hole

I feel myself slipping inside of it.

Deeper, darker.

Ever present.

My head spins constantly out of control now.

I'm told one thing.

Observe another.

I'm not stupid.

You can blame it on what you will.  Truth doesn't lie.

My heart may break to the point of shattering.

But you'll be happy and you'll still deny it.

It is what it is and I'm exhausted.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Boy & I Bust a Rhyme

Frankenstein drank some wine
it was mighty fine.
As he sat in a pine
enjoying what was mine,
I threw a lime,
busted out a rhyme,
and finished off what was mine.


Part of our Silly Saturday afternoon collaborations.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Only the Lines in Pink are My Own

*** 19 Adult Truths ***

1. Sometimes I'll look down at my watch 3 consecutive times and still not know what time it is.  Actually I don't own a working watch and I do this.


2. Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you're wrong. I guess it sucks for others. I'm never get into an argument where I am wrong.  A misunderstanding or debate, MAYBE there's a chance my information is incorrect, but I'm quick to own up to the shortcomings of my information.

3. I totally take back all those times I didn't want to nap when I was younger.  Seriously, why am I not allowed to take my children's naps for them?


4. There is great need for a sarcasm font.  I think it should be scrawly and demented looking.


5. How the hell are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet? I'm actually awesome at folding fitted sheets to look square and flat. Perhaps one of these days I'll do a vblog post and show you just how easy it really is...you'll kick yourself when I show you.  (I've only been saying that for two years now.)

6. Was learning cursive really necessary?  The answer to this question is 'of course, how else would we be able to not read a doctor's or lawyer's handwriting?'


7. Map Quest really needs to start their directions on # 5. I'm pretty sure I know how to get out of my neighborhood.  It would also be beneficial if the miles between points was accurate.

8. Obituaries would be a lot more interesting if they told you how the person died.  Absolutely!


9. I can't remember the last time I wasn't at least kind of tired.  I'm always tired.  Tired of stupid people.  Tired of money being a requirement for anything. Tired of stupid people, not sure I listed that one.


10. Bad decisions make good stories. Pick a random month in a random year from my sidebar there, chances are great you'll hear one.
 
11. You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at work when you know that you just aren't going to do anything productive for the rest of the day. I don't even have to leave the house for this moment to strike.
 
12. Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after Blu Ray? I don't want to have to restart my collection...again.PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE!


13. I keep some people's phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to answer when they call. Especially fraudulent sales solicitors wanting to verify my credit card information.
 
14. I disagree with Kay Jewelers. I would bet on any given Friday or Saturday night more kisses begin with Miller Lite than Kay. Miller Light, Bud Light, Coors Light...I think kisses actually start with light more than anything.
 
15. How many times is it appropriate to say "What?" before you just nod and smile because you still didn't hear or understand a word they said?  I only ask that something be repeated once.  After that I give direction on how to clearly vocalize the request, statement, question, etc.  If they still can't get their message across in a language vernacular that I'm able to understand I move on.
 
16. I love the sense of camaraderie when an entire line of cars team up to prevent a jerk from cutting in at the front. Stay strong, brothers and sisters!  My favorite is when trying to pass someone they suddenly decide they CAN go the speed limit and also go faster than the speed limit.  Glad they get the speeding ticket because I slipped back in behind them.
 
17. Shirts get dirty. Underwear gets dirty. Pants? Pants never get dirty, and you can wear them forever. Unless you're a mother...then you know even the pants have to be washed because there's some sort of icky residue on them and you have no clear clue what that residue may be.
 
18. Even under ideal conditions people have trouble locating their car keys in a pocket, finding their cell phone, and Pinning the Tail on the Donkey - but I'd bet everyone can find and push the snooze button from 3 feet away, in about 1.7 seconds, eyes closed, first time, every time.  I'm weird. This rings true for me, if the alarm clock is on my side of the bed, but after 3-6 months of owning the alarm clock I have to get a new one with a different tone otherwise I sleep straight through it.  Been like that since i was a kid.  Thankfully no one else in my household shares this quirk with me.  Sadly I'm still the first one ready to go out the door, even with getting everyone else prepared to leave.

19. The first testicular guard, the "Cup," was used in Hockey in 1874 and the first helmet was used in 1974. That means it only took 100 years for men to realize that their brain is also important. I think this had more to do with women than men.  ((Take that as you will.)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Professional Resumes

How do you cover gaps in 'paid' employment?

I thought I was being totally clever with listing myself as the Home Manager of the Bonds Family Estates.  I listed my time with the 'company' as being from Dec 2001-Present day.  Duties included things like balancing a very tight budget, accounts payable & receivable, business negotiations, care of children, task management...the like.  You know, professional sounding descriptions for a Stay At Home Mom.

Of course I do have other positions listed on my resume that I have held in the past, some positions that over lapped with the time I listed as having been at the Home Manager Position with Bonds Family Estates.

Now, it must be mentioned that this particular draft of my resume is for one of my current professional development classes, it's not the resume that I plan on using, yet, when I go out seeking a professional position.  We were just forewarned, during one of the lectures, that gaps in employment should be filled with something - volunteer work, schooling, SOMETHING.  So I filled it with my schooling & my time, thus far, as a stay at home mom.

Today I received this grade comment:

<"You did a great job on this assignment. The cover letter looks very professional and well organized. The only change I would make to the resume would be to add more details for your most recent position. You have been there for some time so it would be important to show your growth with that organization.">

I pondered, aloud, to an online audience about what I could list to show growth with this organization...you know, the organization of my time as a mom?  I supposed that I could mention how I went from having no children in my care, to now having two children in my care.  I could mention how I've gone from a very bad partnership, to absolving it legally, then proceeded to be a sole proprietor for a time before venturing into a new partnership that has been mutually awesome.  Or maybe list how I've had some extreme obstacles to overcome along the way and emerged even more awesome on the other side.... You get the idea.

I also pondered whether I should clue my instructor in on the fact that "Manager of Bonds Family Estates" is just fancy code for "Mom/Stay at Home Mom, technically not employed".

Then of course I was given a few opinions on the matter.  One stated that I shouldn't bother cluing my instructor in on the gig, since she didn't get it the first time.  A different person said she did not see it as being appropriate to list being a stay at home mom on a professional resume.

I do get it.  An employer likely wouldn't care that I'm able to train persons, especially small children who have absolutely no experience, in anything, outside of what I've taught them and exposed them to.  An employer also wouldn't likely care that I can manage to get all the bills paid for a family of 4 on an income of less than $20K a year, and still have some left over to do things like buy a car, take vacations, etc.  An employer also wouldn't likely care that I can balance multiple tasks at the same time to get everything taken care of, on time, for everyone, even able to spontaneously adjust in the events of emergencies and the like.  An employer also likely wouldn't care to know that I am adequate in learning a job even with no previous hard experience in the field.  And, well, you get the idea.

I do get it, being a mom or dad isn't something a person goes to expensive schools to learn, but there are a great number of remarkable marketable skills a person learns while "on the job" of being a parent or running a household.  Hell, I suppose I could even add pet trainer on the list of marketable skills.

So, did I cross a line by listing myself as a manager of my household on my 'professional' resume?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Engraved

Every moment of the morning of September 11, 2001 is engraved into my very soul.

The phone call from my aunt asking if her mother, whom I was living with, was home.  Her pleas for me to check and then to turn on the TV.

The sheer confusion I felt as I watched Good Morning America as the new broadcasts started pouring in after the impact on the first tower.

Then watching, live, on my television, 1300 miles away, the horror unfold as a second plane hit the second tower.

The rest of the morning faded into a blur at that point.  I remember still being on the phone, but really remember nothing of the conversation outside of just complete disbelief.

In the afternoon Grandma Wanda came home and I told her about what had happened...what I had witnessed, in addition to the reports of more planes hitting in Washington DC and Pennsylvania.

I had gotten word around 1am, prior to the attacks, that my best friend was getting ready to leave out on the 12th for a military tour overseas.  He was going to be getting married on the 11th, the next day, and had pleaded with me to find a way out of work to make it to his wedding, that was going to be held in Louisiana, a 10 hour drive from me.  He would hold the ceremony off until I could get there.

The wedding did not take place that day afterall.  But I was still a bit crushed over the news of his impeding wedding.  I'd held out hope until that point that perhaps one day that would be me.  I wrote this for him on his wedding day, about 6 hours before the world was going to be shook.

He still doesn't know it was written for him, and I have no intentions of bringing it to his attention any time soon.  I did call to offer my condolences in the end that I would not be able to make his wedding, no one was available to come into work and I was one of only a very small handful that would be going into work that day.  His wedding was called off as he was called into immediate Active Duty.  I'd never been so scared for someone in my life...until my baby brother signed up to join the Marines in 2007.

I remember going into work and feeling like the whole town was dead.  Not just the town, but the country.  Everyone was in stunned shock.

I worked as a server at the time at a Ruby Tuesday, in Bentonville, AR, just down the road from the WalMart Home Offices.

We had the sound on the television sets and every station was turned to a news cast about the events...I don't remember there being an option for well over a week...or a month..I don't know.  I quit watching TV that week for a few years.  Afraid.  Scared that there would be similar images engraved over the images already engraved into my mind.

In a small sense I was very naive that evening as I waited on the small handful of persons who'd come into eat, or pick at food, or watch TV, or just sit there stirring their drink in somber thoughtfulness.  Most were stranded businessmen, in town for something to do with WalMart, unable to get home to their families.  It was a very eery evening.

Traffic was backed up for miles at all the gas stations, everyone in a panic to stock up on all the gas they could get into their possession, even at $8-12 a gallon.

As the evening came to a close the empty restaurant became emptier.  Soon I was left with just five patrons in the whole restaurant, almost half of whom had been there during our 'rush' of that evening.

I was on complete auto pilot.  Faces barely registered, personal conversations were nothing more than muddles of noise amongst the newscasts.

I was lost in my own fears and worries.  My late husband's dad had just taken a new job in the North Tower and there was still no word about his well being.  There would be no word about him for almost a week.

He had two newborn baby girls and a fairly new wife waiting for him in Georgia, they'd stayed behind while he sought out a permanent place to live in New York City.

I had a table of patrons in the restaurant who were obviously foreigners, but I thought nothing of it.  Just blocks from the WalMart Home Offices it is not uncommon to see persons from all nationalities, all there to do business with WalMart.

Pieces of me wish I had not been completely lost in my own mind so that I could have caught onto the bits that lead up to the next few hours of horrifying shock.

There were only four employees on duty as it was, myself, the bartender, the manager, and one kitchen cook...and I even think he went home early to be with his wife who was expected to go into labor at any moment anyways.

One of my other customers though was quite observant.  He'd noticed the pair of foreigners speaking about, from his perception, about the attack on the towers.  Not because he understood the language they spoke, but because of their hand gestures, their body language, and apparent laughter over it all.

By the reports I was given the man that observed all this follow the two men out to their vehicle, that happened to be a white, unmarked van, with Canadian tags.

I was questioned in regards to these foreign men, what they had ordered, what I had witnessed about their behaviors, what they looked like, etc.  I still don't have a clue.

The report I was given, during my Federal interrogation, was that these men had commissioned the van into a huge bomb, under the assumed intention of blowing up some portion of the WalMart Home Offices.  I think I mentally shut down at that point.  I remember nothing much.  I was back to reliving the events of April 19, 1995 when a truck bomb was used to blow up the Federal Building in Oklahoma City.  I was in 7th grade, in Oklahoma, when that happened.  That was already enough for me.  Here I was within feet of a similar bomb, just 6 years later, as I muddled through work on a very horrific day for America.

I made arrangements that week to go to New York City for a while.  I felt like my life had no purpose and sitting around waiting for something to happen was getting me no where.  I stayed in NYC for almost 3 months.  I cleared debris, worked in soup kitchens, wandered aimlessly with purpose, in a constant state of disbelief and shock. 

Just before I left out to go to NYC my late husband's father was able to reach us himself.  He was alive and thankful for an early round of the flu.  He had left work early on the 10th because of the flu onset.  He was completely oblivious to everything that had transpired on the 11th until the 13th, when he able to comprehend what he was seeing on the news.  He says he can't tell you what his day was like on the 11th or the 12th.  Says he remembers drifting in and out of sleep to throw-up a time or two, but wasn't aware of much more than that.

My emotions and thoughts during that time are engraved into my soul.  It still feels like it was only yesterday that I was awakened by that phone call from my Aunt.  Other times it feels like it happened to someone else, far away, or perhaps in a movie. 

They say time heals all wounds.  I'm still holding mine together with the hope that the scarring will take place without me witnessing it.  It has not happened yet.  I'll get close to letting the wound bleed a bit so that a clot can form and healing start taking place, but it's hard.

Every day I am reminded of what almost was or what could be and every day I have a smidgeon of fear still lingering.  This country is still at war and may never be not at  war, of some sort.  My fear isn't for my safety or well being.  It is for the safety and well being of the millions of men, women, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, cousins, nieces, nephews, and friends who live their lives with the anticipation of being the heroes that run into the fire to save all the strangers they can..even if it means sacrificing their life in the process.

Some will never leave the fire they run into. Others will be carried away from the fires.  Those that walk away from the fire after it has been calmed will get up the next morning ready to do it again.  My prayers and good will extends to them all.

Firefighters
Police Officers
Emergency Physicians
Nurses
Marine Forces
Naval Forces
Air Forces
Army Forces
National Guard
Coast Guard
Reserve Forces
Random Stranger on the Street

They each deserve our respect and honor.

Dill Shrimp Dip

1 cup Mayo
1 cup Sour Cream
1 cup shrimp, cooked, cooled, & shelled
1 tsp minced onions
1 tsp dill weed
1 tsp seasoning salt

Put all ingredients in blender & process until smooth.
Pour into either a serving bowl or storage container & cover.
Refrigerate 2-3 hours before serving.

Serve with buttery crackers.

Guacamole and Salsa - by me!

Total Time : roughly an hour - it took me two hours, first an issue with our water well, and numerous interruptions from the kids. ;)

*I started off with a BUNCH of tomatoes to use up from my garden. If you don't have a lot of tomatoes laying around you'll want to get at least 15 Roma Tomatoes. Roma Tomatoes are preferred due to the fact they're meatier than regular tomatoes.
*Two bunches of cilantro
*a very large red/purple onion
*6 very mushy Avocados - if you are not able to get some very soft ones from the grocery store you can put them in a brown paper bag on the counter overnight, they should ripen well.
*a large head of garlic, or two average size heads.
*Salt
*black pepper
*vinegar
*sour cream, at least 8 oz
*4 limes or a bottle of lime juice
*can of black beans, drained and rinsed
*olive oil
*jalapeno peppers, I used two for mild flavor


I started off making the guacamole first.

Mash the meat from all of the avocados in a large bowl - I mash it with a fork

Add in 8oz of Sour Cream - some folks prefer to omit the sour cream or add in mayo, but I've found this to retain the best flavor and color, and helps it go a little further.

I then add in roughly 2tsp of black pepper, 1T of salt, and just over 1/8 cup of lime juice - or the juice from one lime.

I use a tiny Black & Decker food chopper, for chopping everything else.
Add in 3 fine chopped or "processed" Roma Tomatoes - don't puree the tomatoes, you just want them small, not pure liquid...
1/3 of the large red onion - chopped finely
1/2 a bunch of the cilantro - chopped finely
1/2 seeded jalapeno - chopped finely
5 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
Add all to the bowl.


Mix all together.

If it comes out a bit too avocado tasting add in a bit more lime juice & salt - too limey add in some salt - too salty add in a little more sour cream or lime juice.

Makes roughly 3 pints, if I'm fixing it for just my family of 4 I separate it into two containers and throw one into the freezer for use at a later date. It keeps WONDERFULLY well in the freezer, but should be put in the fridge at least overnight to thaw.



Salsa
I chopped all of the remaining tomatoes, put them in a large bowl- roughly 2.5 pounds (same bowl I did the guac in, after washing it)

I also chopped the remaining 3/4 onion, 10 cloves of garlic, 1 1/2 seeded jalapeno, 1 1/2 bunches cilantro, added all of them to the tomatoes.

I then added in the can of black beans that had been drained and rinsed.

Now this is where it gets a bit tricky.
I add in just a "splash" of olive oil - roughly a tablespoon
about 1/2 cup of vinegar, but if the salsa tastes too much like just a lot of tomatoes, add in a bit more until you have a balanced taste to it.
I add in about 1/2 cup of lime juice - about 3 limes.
2T of salt
and about 1 1/2 tsp of black pepper


Again, like with the guacamole if its too salty add in a bit more lime juice, too tomato-y tasting add in more vinegar, too much lime add in more salt, or if you have a few more tomatoes add those in to help tone down the lime or salt taste.


You can also add in a couple of bell peppers if you like (I would of had I not forgotten to get some & hadn't ate the ones I'd picked out of my garden.) You can also add in a can of whole kernel corn that has been drained and rinsed, again, another thing I forgot while I was at the store, and didn't pull any out of my freezer (sheer laziness..lol). A lot of people tend to like to put chili powder in their salsa, I don't like it in mine, and that's just something you can experiment with testing out for your own salsa.

You can also add in more jalapenos or even hotter peppers if you want a hotter salsa...I have to keep in mind my ulcers & the kids' sensitivities to "hot" things, therefore the jalapeno is more just a flavor enhancer than a spice.

Allow both the guacamole and salsa to sit in the fridge for about an hour, at least, before serving for the full flavor to set, but if in a pinch it's still good immediately.

You can also freeze the salsa, but at times when you thaw it it will be a bit runny, just drain off some of the excess juice.

ENJOY!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Stupid Keys & Cars

You know...those keys that like to taunt you from your desk/counter/key holder/ignition switch/console...from the other side of the locked door?  Or maybe those keys that you let your toddler play with, then he goes outside, then you never ever hear from those keys again.  Or maybe it's that set of keys you put in a safe place so you don't lose them...then a year down the road you move & find said key, right where you NOW remember putting it?  Yea, I have just a little bit of experience with all the above.  Stupid keys!

 This is a multipart installment of stories....


I can't remember too many run ins with stupid keys when I was living at home, with my parents...it wasn't until after I moved out and had been out on my own for about 6 months before I encountered my first stupid key/car combination.

I was 19.  It was actually my 19th birthday party that lead to the whole fiasco.  See, I'd never drank, never had any intentions of EVER drinking, but I was at a fairly low spot in life with all going on...if only I'd known just how much worse it was soon going to get in life I would have been pretty happy at that particular point.  Anyhow, I started off drinking. Shots of cinnamon schnapps.  No clue how many, but do know it was well more than my fair share, especially for a first timer.

Someone severely pissed me off in the middle of all my fun, I left the party...then walked the 6 blocks to where my car was parked, at a swanky hotel that we were all going to crash at after the party.

So I'm pissed off, wearing a really cute short dress & HIGH strappy heels...and DRUNK and PISSED off.  I make the stupidest decision EVER that I was just going to leave and go home, even after walking those 6 blocks.  I figured if I was able to walk that distance, down a partially gravel road, in strappy HIGH heels I was good to drive.  I didn't even fall once.  Check out my Fire Pit of Reasons for why this was such a great marker for me to judge my abilities by.  Apparently I can walk on my feet without face planting when drunk.

I finally get to my car, but it's not an ordinary car for a 19 year old.  It's a 1985 Dodge Diplomat - the one with the big 5.2L V8 engine, in pristine condition.  There were only 43,000 original miles on it, it'd been housed in a garage, oil changed on it every 3 months, everything else changed out every year, only driven to church on Sundays in it's 25 years of life.  It was awesome, for a grandma...or a broke teenager who was able to get it for $200. It was a purring BEAST.  I had room for my clothes & shoes in the backseat, for when I wasn't home, I had my fishing poles & tackle in the trunk, books in there to read, my drawing pad, microphone & amp, and still had room to haul several tall people in it at the same time.  Only one tiny flaw with it.  You could not unlock it from the driver's side door.  You had to unlock it from the passenger side, hit the unlock button, then walk around to the driver's side to get in.  No big deal.

Unless you're drunk.  And pissed off.

After I got to my car I yanked off my shoes, unlocked the passenger side door, hit the lock button, then threw my purse & keys into the driver's seat before walking around the car to get in.

I'd meant to throw my shoes in.

And meant to hit the unlock button.

So now you have a 6ft tall chick, holding strappy HIGH heels, pissed off & drunk, locked out of her car.

I start wailing on my car with my shoes, throwing them at the car, cursing the car, the whole works...just unleashing my frustrations on the car for being a stupid hating on me car.

Around this time a lovely patrol officer drives through the parking lot.  Remember?  My car is parked at a swanky hotel...drunk chick beating on a grandma car, at oh, roughly 4am..tends to draw attention.

Mr. Lovely Officer stops by and asks me if there's a problem.  No dumbass...I'm beating on this car at 4am, with a pair of shoes that wouldn't break fine china for the thrill of it....is what I wanted to say in my pissed off state.  But I refrained, broke down into tears, and explained about how I'd locked my keys & purse into my car.

Mr. Lovely Officer had a slim jim in his car and was so gracious as to unlock my car for me, then see me off down the road.

Two blocks later he pulled me over to ask if I'd been drinking.  I didn't even try to lie.  I passed my field sobriety tests...I can't do that sober, not at 19, definitely not even at 29.  He took me to the station to call my GRANDMA to keep me out of jail for the night. The legal limit was 0.1 back then, a month later the legal limit changed to 0.08.  I blew a 0.095...roughly 2hours after I'd quit drinking for the night.  I was a big girl, plead guilty when I went to court, and paid my dues.  I've not locked my keys in a car since then.  Stupid keys & stupid car...saved my life & likely the life of others and for that I'm thankful.  But still pissed that the officer was so stupid as to unlock my car in the first place and watch me drive off.

******

Jump forward a few years and I have a hilarious tale, for me to tell, about my brother's experience with stupid keys and a stupid car.

My brother had an 89 Ford Cougar.  It was his baby.  He was only maybe 21 at the time and was installing a new sound system in the car.

For whatever reason, the guy who never locks his vehicles, never even takes the keys out of the ignition, back then, anyways, had both door locks in the locked position and the keys in the console, as he was working on the car.

At some point he had to go inside, it's started raining pretty hard, so he shut the door to the car.  A bit later it stops raining and he goes out to finish working on his stereo system.

Only to discover that his keys were locked in the car, only set of keys.

Now, this may be an appropriate time to mention that at this time he'd JUST gotten out of prison...his charges included grand theft auto - not the video game.

I assisted him in breaking into his car to get his keys.  We pulled & pried the top of the door open just far enough to hook the keys that were laying in the middle of the car with a wire hanger, and after a few drops we succeeded in getting the keys out of his car.  Now, when I say we, I actually mean me, after I figured out what he was attempting to do in regards to breaking into his own car.

We worked DILIGENTLY not to break any windows.

And succeeded!  No broken windows, keys out of the car, door unlocked, he finished hooking up his sound system with it's fancy speakers & amp, the whole works.

He sits there and shakes the windows of the house after it's all set up, listening to the new boom of his car.

He turns off his car to come inside and announce his victory, he shuts the door to the car....

Then it happens.

The driver's side door window SHATTERS.  I'm not talking a crack or a piece, but 10,000 thumbtack head sized shards just drop to the ground.

I'm not too sure I ever laughed so hard...and I don't think he's ever been so pissed at an inanimate object before in his life or life since then.  Stupid keys...stupid car...not too bright brother.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Mommy Guilt

That's what I'm told I'm supposed to feel.  Guilt for giving my charming daughter what she needs!


When I first held her during her first nap she snored.  I asked the doctor about it, was told it's likely just left over fluid and it'll clear up in a day or so.  I took his word for it because he's the professional and the way he worded it made sense.

Life went on.  After a week or so I noticed she had a chronic snotty nose.  Probably just reflux I was told.  Okay, I can handle that, after all my older child had HORRIBLE reflux for the first three years of his life.  I've walked that walk, so no big deal.  Hers wasn't as bad as Mikeal's was, but it was nearly identical, except she still snored.  That bit I was told was just a side effect of the reflux fluid that caused her snotty nose.  She was sleeping through the night, all was well, so okay, makes sense.  After all he's the professional, he'd been doing this for decades.  I'd seen him since I was 12, myself, here I was 25 years old.

Time went on, she made all her mile stones, on time, life was great, she started talking, and boy did she have a lot to say at just 8 months old.  She had a minimum of 25 words she used on a regular, correct basis.  It really helped that she has a brother 5 years older than she who talks non-stop. 

She ended up getting her first ear infection when she was 10 months old.  I wasn't distraught over it, yes she was sick, but my older child had his first one at roughly the same age.

So far, up to that point they were nearly identical...except Mikaila couldn't stand nursing at my breast, she'd fuss, fight, or when she did latch on she had a vicelike latch.  HOLY FUCK was it painful!

Mikeal, my first child to breastfeed latched on perfectly from the git go and it was absolute smooth sailing...outside of that first day when my foggyhead forgot the bit about having to change a diaper too, and let him nurse roughly 8 hours because it was the only thing that kept him from screaming...and he sucked blisters onto my nipples that burst a few days later.  THAT SUCKED...however, we were able to move past that, exclusively breastfeeding for 10 months before I had to go back to work, then we supplemented with real foods until he decided he wanted food & a sippy cup instead of mama milk.  He was great with it, I was okay with it.  All is well that ends well.  Not one time did he have formula, money well saved.

Mikaila, on the other hand, for two months I worked hard to bite my lip through the nursing sessions, often crying out of pain, but I was producing well, was even able to pump an additional 4-6 ounces after each feeding that I wanted to pump so that I could let Mikeal & Brian feed her from a bottle and she LOVED the bottle feedings...so long as the bottle was positioned just so.  I spoke with lactation specialists, I spoke with my doctor, I spoke with his nurse practioner, had a year of my own personal experience with it, including personal experience with blisters, thrush, mastitis, an unsupportive, abusive husband, I tried nipple shields, etc.  Anything they threw at my I tried and I became exhausted & depressed.  By the 3rd month of her life we switched to formula & bottles and life was happy again.  I didn't fail, I provided what worked best for my family, what made my daughter happy and healthy.  I succeeded!

But, as I mentioned, before backtracking, Mikaila had her first ear infection at 10 months old.  Mikeal only ever had 2 his whole life, but I had experience with them with my nephews who had chronic ear infections, so recognized all the signs early, took her in, she was given the standard ear drops & antibiotic, all was well....except...

By the time she was a year old I noticed she'd nearly quit talking.  She was doing more tantrum throwing, she quit sleeping through the night, and life became Hell.  My depression set in, the fingers were pointed at me for not putting her on a consistent enough schedule, not doing this right, not doing that right, you name it, I was failing.  The professionals told me so, and I believed them...not really, but I was supposed to, so I tried all the crap they told me to try with her.
Mikaila & her Uncle Bradley (my youngest stepbrother)

A few months later the bad behaviors were only worse, not better.  I took her again and again to the doctor.  Was given antibiotic bottle after bottle or a pep talk on the importance of schedules and sleep in infants/toddlers...as if I didn't know this or something, fuck I only had a 6 year old child who thrives WAY above the charts in everything, I tend to think I know what I'm doing.  But I was failing with my daughter.  She wasn't talking, she only screamed, she didn't sleep, would only nap 4-5 times a day for 10minutes -2 hours at a time and I was EXHAUSTED.

I lived near my mother, sister, other folks ones would think I could count on to be supportive of me, but instead they only added to the guilt I was already feeling.  Depression dug her claws in deeper.

I googled everything I could think of, talked to other mothers, was eventually left with the impression that I needed to take Mikaila in for more testing.  Specifically testing for Autism or other similar diagnosis.  I needed help and I wasn't getting it.

She underwent all the tests they threw at us.  Vision screenings were good.  Hearing screenings were good.  Just her behaviors were a bit off, but she wasn't consistent with her behaviors.  One week she'd appear to be fully on the spectrum, the next week she seemed normal, just didn't talk.  At 18 months old we started the occupational therapy with a therapist that came to the house once every other week, or so.

After a few months *I* noticed that if I spoke LOUDLY to her or included gestures to specify what she may need or want she didn't scream as much.  I mentioned it to the therapist & the doctor...and was told then to just continue and was given a book in baby sign language.  WHAT THE FUCK!  My daughter's hearing screenings came back good, she didn't quite meet the proper guidelines to be labeled as autistic or as having any actual disability because nothing was ever solidly regular.  Sometimes she was, sometimes she wasn't.  I was told it was just a short coming of my own, because I wasn't consistent enough with her.  Pile on the guilt.  After all, these are the professionals, and I know nothing about any of this.

By Mikaila's 2nd birthday my body was shutting down.  I'd gone almost a whole year with no more than 1-5 hours of sleep a day.





A few more months of OT and no real progress.  We did discover melatonin around Christmas and for about 2 months my life was GRAND!  I was able to sleep!  Still not more than 4-5hrs at a time, but a MASSIVE improvement over the 10-30 minutes of sleep at a time.  Then the melatonin effects started becoming hit and miss and back to the guilt being laid on for drugging my child because I was just too lazy to do everything else that we'd already tried to get her to sleep.

We moved from Oklahoma to Tennessee when Mikaila was 27 months old.  I immediately sought out the Early Intervention program to restart her therapies here and learned SOOOO much!  To start with hearing screenings and hearing TESTS were two totally different things...the screening showed that her hearing was perfect, but her behaviors showed differently.  A referral from the new doc and she was on her way to having a test ran on her hearing by an ENT.  The ENT noticed that she had quite the build up of fluid on her ear drums.  I told him she'd been on antibiotics almost all of the last year for 'ear infections' that weren't quite ear infections, just the beginning stages of one...ear infections without the redness & fever, just the fluid.  Clue #1.


He prescribed a round of antibiotics stronger than amoxicillan, went back two weeks later, fluid still there.  He had also noticed that her adenoids were inflamed & her tonsils were LARGE.  July 1st, when she was 2 1/2 years old she had surgery to remove her adenoids and have tubes put in her ears.  She was a bugger to wake up from the surgery and never fully woke up, but did eat the popcicles they gave her and fought us when we'd try to wake her up, after a few hours they sent us home anyways.  She slept for almost 24 full hours, straight.  I worried and fretted over it the whole time.

When she awoke it was like she was a totally different child.  Normal talking bothered her GREATLY, fireworks bothered her, whereas the year before she could sit right under them and fully enjoyed them, she had to cover her ears after her surgery.  Within a week she was sleeping through the night and her daytime behaviors were so much less frustrating for both of us.  Mommy guilt started lifting.  But then it was quickly added back in by persons who blamed me for not getting this taken care of earlier.  You know, because the professionals were incompetent I should have known that.  I did suspect it, but when you live in the middle of nowhere where there are only two doctors, only one of which accepts your insurance you're kinda limited on what you can do on an extremely limited budget.

By the time Mikaila aged out of the Early Intervention program her assessment was that she just needed speech therapy.  She was transferred into the preschool program at the elementary school and life has steadily gotten better.

She goes to bed every night at 8pm and 90% of the time is asleep within 10 minutes, she gets up between 6am and 8am, and life is as it should be with a 3 year old who only has a speech impairment.

A few weeks ago, on the 25th of August she went in for a sleep study because she still snores, still has muffled speech, etc and due to the HUGE success with the adenoid removal & tube placement I wanted to look into the option of the benefits of removing her abnormally huge tonsils.  You would think this would be a good thing, right?  I have competent doctors who have tried things and we've had GREAT success.  No, instead I get more outsider guilt piled on because I'm now 'mutilating' my daughter because I'm a lazy/unfit parent and don't seem to want to take responsibility or something for my daughter's behaviors & muffled speech.  By these 'professionals' (meaning persons with longer life experience/multiple more children experience) my daughter is behind because of me...and for some reason my son excels, even though my daughter's life has been EASY in comparison to his at this age.  I won't lie, until he was about 5 years old life was a constant inconsistent rollercoaster.  If all the experts and professionals had a cookie cutter clue my son, who is 'perfect' child material - if you take off the tween attitude - should be an absolute hellion who's flunking kindergarten, still.  He just turned 9 and in the 4th grade gifted program, give me a fucking break!


This past Wednesday we went back to the ENT for the results of the sleep study.  Her sleep score is comparable to that of a 500lb, 50 year old man, who smokes 3 packs a day.  She's 3 1/2 and weighs 37lbs and doesn't smoke.  On several occasions her oxygen level dropped below 80%.  Not good, at all.  Her tonsillectomy is scheduled for October 10.  And I am HAPPY about this.  I am looking forward to my wee daughter having surgery, again.

She was cursed with my larger than normal tonsils & adenoid tissue.  I can't do anything about that, that tidbit was the way the genes fell, but I can do something about improving her quality of life.  Lay more guilt on me.  Such a horrible mother I am for being relatively excited over her having surgery to remove her tonsils with the hopeful expectation this will further clear her airway so she can breathe, eat, talk, sleep, etc like a normal healthy child does.



Special tribute to Caryn (@ihave7monsters) and her post about her own 'Professional' run Mommy Guilt here.  We, the mother/father/fulltime caretaker of children, ARE the professionals when it comes to our children.  Just because someone has a bunch of debt and fancy letters after their name doesn't mean they are right when it comes to our children.

Edit to add:  My bouts with depression have gotten a bit better.  I'm getting more sleep & Mikaila has made progress with talking so life doesn't seem as damning.  The support from friends is great, both online and offline; professionals are doing their job - addressing my concerns and sending us off to specialized professionals when the concern is  out of their specialization.  It is still a work in progress, I am still battling some personal health issues that became quite exaggerated during Mikaila's first few years of life, but these problems didn't just suddenly appear, so they're not going to be quickly fixed.  Everyday is a new adventure and life is relatively good.


****Update October 26, 2011****


Mikaila had the tonsillectomy on October 10th.  

So far we have been able to notice that her speaking is MUCH clearer, it no longer sounds like she has cotton in her mouth.  Still has some delay, but quickly gaining ground & catching up.


Mikaila no longer snores at night.  Absolutely the most heart wrenching thing to be laying by your baby girl, who for almost 4 years has snored every night of her life, and then notice that you are not hearing her breathing...took me almost a week to stop rousing her while she was sleeping, just to be sure that she was just asleep.


I have also not noticed a single runny nose, not even an inkling of a runny nose.  I had noticed a difference after her adenoids were removed in July of 2010...but with the removal of the tonsils & regrown adenoid tissue I can't recall a single runny nose.


Her daytime attitude is MUCH better.  She sleeps all night now that her throat no longer hurts, and life is peaceful...once we get past the bedtime battles 2-3 times a week.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Emergency Preparedness

Yea, I know you've seen dozens of these, however this one is slightly different.

The only thing I am going to say is this:


IF YOU ARE ORDERED 
TO EVACUATE 
BY ALL MEANS 
PLEASE EVACUATE
IMMEDIATELY!!!! 

You have a MUCH greater chance of dying by staying put and the storm doing exactly as it's forecasted or it getting worse than forecasted!  If you evacuate, yes it may be a bit annoying with having to deal with crawling traffic as everyone works to evacuate, BUT if you do evacuate as ordered you stand a much better chance of staying alive.
It is that simple.  Prepare your totes of water, food, emergency supplies, changes of clothing, important documents and have them ALL IN THE SAME AREA, take the time to clear out a small closet if you have to to put it all in, just make sure it is all off the floor if it's a ground level floor by at least two feet.  Flood waters rise QUICKLY.  What looks like 6 feet from your property one hour could VERY easily be 6 ft high IN your house the next.  If you're told to evacuate immediately you'll have everything gathered for quick and easy load into the car and go.  If nothing happens, well, then nothing happens, but you were at least prepared!  A fool surrounded by their belongings is still a fool!

Don't be stupid people.  If it turns out you spent $50 in gas for "nothing" it's 100 times worth it!  What happens if you don't spend that $50 to get out of town when you were asked or ordered to and then it becomes too late?  Are you going to be the family clinging to what's left of a tree in rapid waters?


Yes, I know.

I was doing really well with updating here on at least a mostly regular basis, but once again life takes hold and sucks me in.

Mikeal is turning 9 years old today.  I may cry.  I'm Mom, that's what I do.  It's really hard for it to sink in that I have a FOURTH grader!

I've also been quite busy with school and really need a semester off or something, but alas, without screwing up my degree program and my financial aid that's not happening.

I have been working more on my glass painting. :)  I have a few in finished stages, others in drawn stages, some are somewhere in between....but here's a sampling. :)  I'll create a blog post when I get my shop opened up to sell them, but I am taking custom orders at this time if you have a specific request.  Anything smaller than the 18"x24" windows can be custom sized, but will only come in a metal frame with a chain hanger.  The window options are 3 panel 18"x24", solid 18"x24" (measurements are of the glass itself, not the window frame), and a 3 panel 24"x 24".  Prices all are dependent upon size & detail.  And the bigger the piece the more the shipping is.  Stupid shipping costs.  If I ever quote you on a shipping price and the actual shipping turns out to be less than my quote I will refund the difference back to you by your preferred method immediately (Money order or PayPal).  If the shipping price is more than what I quote you, I cover the additional cost.  Prices will never be more than what I quote!  Custom orders take a MINIMUM of one week to complete, up to four weeks for large pieces.  I reserve the right to decline any custom requests.  Some things are just out of my skill level.  Payments are not expected until after we have agreed upon a design, with full payment not being due until I am ready to ship the piece to you.  At this time I only am doing decorative pieces, none that are intended for use with food items or beverages!  I reserve the right to modify any of this as I see fit.







Sunday, August 14, 2011

Mac na bèiste!

Ok. I'm done. Like seriously DONE! First our safety bubble/savings pops with Brian not working much at all for a while due to a layoff and then shoulder surgery...then we get a $525 vet bill...then school starts & the kids need clothes...then something went crappy with the car that had to be fixed...the electric bills have been outrageous...then I get a speeding ticket and find out my license was revoked from Oklahoma, despite the fact I'd paid out the ASS to get everything with it 100% cleaned up. I got it back about 3 yrs ago, no tickets in 6yrs until yesterday. And now today my fridge dies...and it's packed full of food. And did I mention that both of my new classes start today?

SON OF A BITCH! I am DONE!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Warning: This is long.

This blog post is going to most likely be fairly jumbled and confusing and annoying and I can't promise that I won't swear during it. In fact, one can almost put money on the fact there is going to be swearing. Sadly I don't have words strong enough to express my complete disgust and irritation and pissed-offness that has prompted this post...I'm not even terribly sure such words even exist, so I'll see what I can do to create one or two.

So anyways...you may want to grab a piece of paper and create your own timeline and see if you can make any sort of sense of it all with me.

I was pulled over for speeding on Saturday. Legitimately speeding...I was irritated at an idiot driver, sped up to avoid a collision, didn't pay attention 1/2 a mile down the road that I was well over the speed limit, until it was a hair too late. Not the biggest big deal....I'd thought. Annoying & upsetting, for sure, but I was in the wrong and I'm a big girl who wears her big girl panties, I know when I'm in the wrong and can accept the consequences of my actions. It sucks, but it is what it is...

Onto the "I'd thought" part...I was informed that my license has been revoked.

WHAT THE BLOODY HELL!

This is where you're going to need your thinking cap and a pen and piece of paper.

I have not been pulled over since October of 2005. Not for ANYTHING. It is currently August of 2011. So that's almost SIX years without a single moving violation of any sort.

I had originally lost my license in June of 2001. I was 19 years old. Got drunk for the first time in my life. While in the process of getting very drunk I was assaulted by a couple of guys, I left the party in a hurry, walked 3 blocks to where my car was. Unlocked my car, from the passenger side because my driver's door lock mechanism was broke, and it wasn't a fancy enough car for button unlocky thingys. After unlocking the car I hit the power unlock button, shut the door, walked around, and discovered I did not unlock my car...in fact I'd hit lock instead. The awesome part about that is I'd thrown my purse & keys into my car prior to shutting the door. So there I was, at 4am, drunk, for the first time ever, upset over being assaulted, and now my keys are locked in my car and I have no clue if I was still being followed or not - so was freaking out. I start wailing on my car windows with my pretty strappy heeled shoes when a cop rolls through the parking lot and asks me if everything was alright. I gave him the story about locking my keys in my car...left out the part about the assault, etc because I was upset in that moment about my car..and I was drunk. Drunk people are NOT rational, AT ALL. At least I'm not when I'm drunk. Woulda, Shoulda, Coulda, but didn't...yea... Anyways...the cop gets out of his car, looks in the window & sees my keys & purse laying right there, pulls out a slim jim from the trunk of his car & unlocks my car for me. I AM FUCKING DRUNK AND 19, PEOPLE! THERE IS SOMETHING SERIOUSLY WRONG WITH THIS! I get in my car and drive off. Two blocks down the road Mr. Nice Cop pulls me over, asks me if I've been drinking, because he said I was driving with my bright lights on, through town. Do understand at this point my bright lights did not even work on that car, a fuse had gone out or the switch had, can't remember now...but I was drunk & had only had the used car for almost a week, and I am not rational when drunk. Of course I admit to having been drinking, etc...he calls my grandma to come pick me up & take me to her house, I was to stay in her care for at least 10 hours to sober up. Oh, and my breathalizer test showed that I blew a .095, which at the time was just .005 below the legal limit...the next month the new law went into effect that the legal limit was only 0.08. Anyways, several court hearings later I convince the judge that I'm not going to pay a lawyer $1500 in addition to my fines & such, she accepts my guilty verdict and life went on.

I was also a very stupid 19 year old. VERY FUCKING STUPID 19 year old! I LOVED to race cars back then, especially on the highway...yea, add those tickets in on a suspended license. So I racked up some points on my own. By the time I was 6 months past my 19th birthday I was newly married to my ex-husband AND newly pregnant AND getting ready to move 600 miles away AND this was all during that period of time that my folks both ended up in jail over my sister's lies AND the rest of my family thought I was being petty and selfish for not bending over backwards to take in my 17 year old sister and 14 year old brother to finish raising. I was FUCKING 19 years old! If my almost 40 year old parents couldn't keep a handle on their 17 year old child what in God's green earth makes anyone think I can? But whatever...I was pregnant, married, and moving far away...most of my biological family thinks I'm utterly selfish and in need of serious psychological help (although my psychiatrist thinks I just need to talk to someone more often than just once every few months).

Ok...so some time goes by, I work to pay off/down all my fines, yada yada...life went on. My ex & I moved back to Arkansas about a year after moving away, my dad was sentenced to 30 years, my mom got out of jail, my sister was living with her now husband, and my baby brother was back with mom...My license was still suspended - thanks to my racing on a suspended license I'd lost my license until I was 21. Not quite the biggest of deals since my ex never allowed me to do much of anything anyways without him, so whatever. The times I did have to drive I was careful enough to not get caught nor in a wreck, so whatever, what's done is done.

Then it got a bit dicey.

In December of 2002, just 4 months after Mikeal was born and 6 months before my 21st birthday, my ex was arrested. He was charged with attempting to sexually assault a 5 year old little girl...and I won't go into all the details of that right now because I don't need to REALLY make my blood boil more than it is already, but it ended with him being thrown in jail for a while, in Missouri...we were still living in Arkansas, he'd crossed state lines to do this... I ended up needing to move back in with my mom, in Oklahoma. A month later my ex's adopted father bailed him out, yada yada, I was convinced at that time that he'd just been urinating & she walked in on him...I wasn't a terribly bright 20 year old either, but I was in a dark depression then, physically & emotionally exhausted from the abuse, etc. My family (aunts, uncles, cousins) of course wouldn't believe my husband would ever do such things I accused him of, I was just making things up for attention and I needed serious psychological help still for wanting to leave this great man that my ex was and whom I had a child with.

What's really fucked up is my mom witnessed firsthand the abuse of my exhusband...he'd come in, drunk & cranked out, one night & hit the wall of the bedroom where Mikeal & I were sleeping because I was asleep....that resulted in a fist fight between my mom, my brothers, and my ex husband. The oldest of my brothers, who was there because he'd broken his back a few months before and was finally at the end of his recovery...and living at mom's during this time period with his (ex) girlfriend and their oldest child (who was 6 months old at the time)...was the first to jump up and respond violently towards my ex for having DARED to even act like he was raising his hand at me! Then mom got involved because not only did he act like a threat towards me but he then was involved in a first fight with another of her children...and my mom is NOT a force to be reckoned with. My ex ended up with a bloody nose & some scars. Mom had a bloody toe. Daniel ended up thrown/falling off the deck and had a concussion. I was on the phone with the cops. I WAS DONE! I was so far past done with having anything at all to do with my ex that I was just D.O.N.E. - DONE! The cop showed, put my ex in the back of his car, then came to talk to us. He thought it'd be best to just not provoke him and let him sleep off his drunk. WTF! Daniel agreed not to press charges since he'd just finished his own stint in prison not but a few months before that and wouldn't wish it on anyone...Mom then left it up to me to press charges, since he was my husband. I said yes. Then was talked out of it by either my mom or the cop, the rest of that night is a bit fuzzy to me, I just remember ANGER and disbelief. Here I am, with a not even 6 month old crying child, abused for over a year by this man, my mom is bleeding, my brother is puking & convulsing, and no one wants to press charges, in fact I think it even got turned around on me that I'd somehow provoked this violent rage.

Mom kicked us out and we ended up moving 100 miles deeper into Oklahoma, into a camper, at my ex-adopted father-in-law's house (Charlie). I felt slightly safer about being there because Charlie was not only a long time foster father to teenage boys but he was also the newly retired police Lieutenant. Fuck was I wrong. Anyone that ever wonders why a woman stays in an abusive relationship...this is the exact reason why. They're shunned by family members or made out to look like they're the ones in the utter wrong...that they'd somehow provoked the abuser into being abusive...because to everyone else they're the greatest piece of shit to ever grace the Earth with their presence. I was finally 21 but because of everything we never did finish paying off my fines and I was never taken to get my license reinstated.

In September of 2003, Mikeal was only 13 months old, my ex was given a four MONTH sentence with four years PROBATION for attempting to rape this 5 year old. His lawyer had been able to get him a plea bargain where it was reduced to just indecent exposure. And people really wonder why sex offenders run the streets. You can look for yourself even...Here's the national sex offender registry listings. My ex's name is Bryan Gilliam..you'll have to agree to the terms of use & then enter a captcha to search his name, but he's there. Last known address = moved out of state, to Arkansas...and that's all they know, as of about 2 years ago. Maybe he's in Arkansas. I suspect he's working under the table for his old boss, who lives in Missouri, but has contracts all over the country, selling newspaper subscriptions with a crew of young teenagers, door to door...somewhere.

But the most important thing about him going to jail is I was finally free of him. I did not take his family, nor their influence, into consideration. In October, less than a month after he was sentenced & booked, I wrote him a letter telling him that I was leaving him, I wanted a divorce, and that there was no way in any sort of Hell that I would ever take him back.

Within a week I started getting pulled over on my way too and from work. I had a toddler to take care of and couldn't do it if I just sat at home because my license wasn't reinstated yet. I spent a great many days in and out of that courthouse, sometimes my name was found on the docket other times it was like the ticket I was holding was something I'd dreamed up...On December 22nd my neighbor had gone with Mikeal and myself to Arkansas to take care of some of my license stuff...a good 3 hour drive, one way. We stopped at a nice place to eat, my neighbor got smashingly drunk, even though she was supposed to be driving me there and back because I wasn't able to get my license totally reinstated that day afterall. But my lovely neighbor was also kind enough to cause the waitress to spill a pitcher of beer on me.

I drove for 3 hours..it's nearly 2am when we finally get into the home stretch of the trip. Less than 3 miles from my apartment I was pulled over. I was charged with a DUI. Damnest thing about that is despite the fact I REEKED of beer I was sober...and the breathalyzer test proved that I was sober. I blew a 0.00. But because I REEKED and because this was my ex's hometown, where I was the horrible evil wife who was leaving her husband while he sat in a jail 500 miles away, they booked me anyways. Told me that I was somehow cheating the test. Now, if you remember back to the beginning, I'm a big girl and I know how to wear my panties...I'm not above accepting consequences for my actual actions. I was put in jail anyways. I did get to make a phone call to a buddy of mine, told him what was up, he agreed to call a few other folks and they'd have my bailed out within the next day or two, in time at least for Christmas morning with my 15 month old son. On the 1st of January (10 days later) at 2:45am I was released from the jail. Who in their bloody right mind puts a 21 year old girl out, on the most dangerous night/morning of the year to either a) find someone sober to come to the jail and pick her up at that horrendous hour or b) walk the 10 miles home at this house, along the highway. It was also freaking cold, snowy, I had a sleeveless shirt on, that I'd been wearing for 10 days already, and no coat. I walked those miles home and thankfully made it there alive. I never did see the judge...she was out on vacation I was told. When I did finally get home I called my buddy who'd told me he was going to bail me out...he told me he was told that I was being released the next morning and when he showed up the next morning to see if I needed a ride he was told that I was already gone. The 50 some odd voicemail messages on my machine over those 10 days I was locked away basically confirmed his story.

I was continuously harassed though. First by the cops, then by my neighbor lady, then by my landlady (who's son was best friends with my ex while they were in high school), then over time learned the rest of my ex-in-laws were also set to make my life absolute hell while I lived near them. I lost job after job because of them, I sank into a darker depression, I lost vehicles, my family were under the impression that I'd brought this all on myself. I started drinking HEAVILY. I will admit now that I'm utterly shocked that I did not get arrested a few times for ACTUALLY being drunk while driving, but by then the harassment had slowed from law enforcement, since it'd picked up with everyone else..and Charlie also passed away around this time. Coincidence? Yea, you can judge that one for yourself.

In February I had a 3 week work conference to attend in Austin, Texas. Of course I made arrangements with my mom, my sister, and a few friends of mine to watch Mikeal for me while I was down there because I wasn't going to be reimbursed for the $10 an hour childcare during any seminars, etc I had to attend on a daily basis. I went down there, a week into it my baby brother was thrown off the back of a car (car surfing in the high school parking lot, less than 20mph) ended up in ICU for a week. No one was willing/able to get Mikeal, so I had to make an emergency dash to Joplin, MO, from Austin, TX, in less than 24hrs round trip. I'd made some awesome friends during my time there who were more than willing to accommodate Mikeal & myself during the duration of my conference. Mikeal ended up with coffee burns at the hospital while I was en route. A nurse had left her scalding cup of coffee at the edge of the counter & what does any 18 month old child do when they want a drink & see a cup? They grab it. Burnt the right half of his face & his neck - 2nd & 3rd degree burns. Mostly just 2nd degree. He wasn't hospitalized for it, they treated him and he was back to mostly normal Mikeal by the time I got there. I didn't do anything about it at the time because I was on a tight schedule, my mom was already distraught over Duke still not being awake, and it was just not the time to get into it.

Over the course of the next week Mikeal's neck started showing signs of severe infection, my conferences all wrapped up, and we went back to Oklahoma...I didn't have the funds to pay for the out of network charges if I was to take him to a hospital there in Texas. We get back to our apartment only to find that my landlady had removed all of my appliances...said that the appliances were only on loan to me because a previous tennant had left them there when she'd moved out and had come to get them...umm, they were sitting there in her garage. But whatever, I was just done. Completely utterly distraught and just done. Packed up what I could, put the rest into a storage unit and left. I went to visit my mom to spend a night there or so and help her out with Duke who'd just been released from the hospital. Later that evening Mikeal started running a fever, I took him to the ER (weekend, small town, only thing available). Found out that the burn blisters on his neck were infected with MRSA and to make the trip even more fun I'd been bitten by a brown recluse as I was packing everything in my apartment and that was a nasty site as well. I wasn't allowed to leave his bedside because they were short staffed and didn't have someone available to keep an eye on him and make sure he didn't fall out of his bed. During the initial first week there at the hospital I only left the actual hospital room three times to go smoke. Yes I smoked then. I also quit then. Not even my mom would come up and sit with him/us and she just lived 10 miles down the road more than once or twice...she was too busy with her new boyfriend. My car was stolen from the hospital parking lot, with a lot of my stuff thrown out into the ditch by the parking lot. I don't know, no explanation, car was never found, or no one gave enough of a fuck to find it, whatever...

After Mikeal was released from the care of the hospital and we spent a week at my mom's for more IV antibiotics my boss in Tulsa paid for me to stay in a place there in Tulsa. A few months into that I moved to Austin, TX. I couldn't stand the constant harassment anymore. Lots of shit happened, the harassment never did fully cease, but I was far enough away from it that I was able to feel safe living again. Eventually though I had to move back to Oklahoma to get my divorce taken care of 100% as well as take care of my other legal stuff...namely all the harassment tickets I'd accumulated and said FUCK IT to.

During my quest to get everything taken care of I spent time in and out of jail because of warrants that had accumulated...sometimes being 'forgotten' resulting in not seeing the judge even for the first time for weeks. One judge, whom I didn't see until after I'd been sitting in that jail for 29 days chewed out the jailer that had brought me up there. She'd had several previous traffic courts and I should have been before her during the first one after I was booked. Other tickets that I KNEW I had been given during that time just seemed to 'disappear' when I'd go to take care of them...only to show back up in the system some time later...I really wish I would have been better about keeping records of everything then. I did learn from all of that though. I keep EVERYTHING. All utility payment receipts, all court papers, all pay stubs, all tax forms, all my calendars where I right things down during the year. ALL of it. I can't afford not to anymore...not after all the hell I went through then.

I not only was harassed incessently but one of my ex-sister-in-laws, who was constantly in trouble with the law, started using my information when she'd get pulled over, arrested, etc. At one point in time *I* was booked on meth charges and had a felony charge against me for it - I'd found that out during my first trip to this particular county jail - I had to then prove that I was who I said I was, complete with fingerprint cards that dated from the time I was in Kindergarten. (My record was cleaned of MANY things at that time, but not until after I'd paid a lawyer almost $10,000 to hunt down everything to be able to do so.) There were car loans, repossessions, house loans & foreclosures, credit cards, utility bills, checking accounts, I don't know but it amounted to almost $700,000 of debt on my credit report. If you're new reading my blog I'm surprise you're still reading, but I'll let you know now I have NEVER had a credit card, etc...the ONLY thing I have EVER bought on credit was a kitchen stove a few years ago from a Rent to Own place and that was mainly just because it was an emergency and we expected to be able to find a decent working one quick enough to not have to pay on the 'new' one for too long...such isn't the case, we've since moved, and now that stove sits in my basement collecting dust, since about a month after I paid it off. I LOATHE interest payments. Loans are the biggest waste of money a person can ever come across!

Anyways...It took me a while and several tens of thousands of dollars but I got nearly all of it taken care of. Once in a while something will pop up, but the number has slowed DRASTICALLY! Do keep in mind that this was all around 2003-5 so things like identity theft were still 'newish' and when you're a single mom just trying to raise your child, while going through a horrid divorce and being harassed not only by your ex-in-laws but also by law enforcement that's supposed to be on the side of right and truth it's all QUITE overwhelming and the only thing you want to do is just move on with your life so you can breath for a moment...and that screwed my ass. I got to where instead of just fighting and fighting and paying lawyers I'd just pay things off, hang my head, plea no contest, and let it be. I was so screwed, I felt, anyways, and alone in fighting all of it and trying to support Mikeal I just wanted to be done with it.

I ran off a few times for a while. I was pretty good at not getting caught...my last ticket/run-in was in 2005.

In September of 2008 I was involved in an accident, a teenager saw the light was green, but didn't take notice of the fact that I had just barely taken my foot off the brake, because I had been stopped at the JUST previously red light. At that time I still had a few outstanding tickets etc to take care of but the judge told me, when I showed up for my court hearing for not having a license, after the wreck, that if I got everything taken care of and showed him a new reinstated license he'd drop the charges against me. My next court date was November 22nd...I had everything 100% taken care of, by just paying it all off and retaking my driver's test, etc by my court date. I had my new shiny Driver's license in hand on November 15th or so.

I've not been pulled over since. At least not until Saturday, as previously mentioned.

I've ran out of steam on writing this blog post...and if you're still reading, I'm shocked. But the end result is I still am fighting crap that I was ASSURED was taken care of, by court officials, 3 years ago. I have all the paperwork to prove I've paid everything. When my insurance agency ran my license, when we got insurance here, 18 months ago it came back clean...or at least nothing of the last 3 years. Then they do another check every 6 months. Our insurance just renewed in May. So as of May, as in three months ago, my license was still good by insurance company records. Here it is August, I've not been to Oklahoma in 18 months, and Oklahoma has revoked my license.

Fuck me running with a splintered bat anally. I'm TIRED of this BULLSHIT!