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'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 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


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.

Police Officers
Emergency Physicians
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.
*black pepper
*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.

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 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.


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 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 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 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/ 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.