Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Day 30: What did you learn from NaBloPoMo

We made it!  30 days, 30 posts! 
I learned several things
1. I need to write first thing in the morning, if I let it drag on, it's harder to start.
2. I got to know my sister better.
3. I learned that I need to write more.
4. I have a long ways to go. 
5. I learned again, that I really like to write. 

Cheers to you dear Sister, we made our goal! 

What did you learn from doing NaBloPoMo?

While I am thankful I participated in this exercise, as I enjoyed reading about the world according to my sister, I am glad it is over. I learned that even though I do love to write, I simply don't have the time or the energy to devote to daily blogging. In fact right now there are several more pressing issues that need my attention. Off I go....

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

What is the last thing you do before bed?

Maybe this sounds familiar to you: Upon deciding to turn in for the night my husband simply sheds his clothing and climbs into bed. He then falls asleep and is snoring within two minutes of closing his eyes.

Meanwhile....... When I decide to go to bed I first check on my children, making sure they are still tucked in. I pick up the blanket and stuffed animals my toddler has thrown to the floor, sometimes I even have to replace her jammies as she likes to strip them off after I put her down. Then I send the dog outside, giving her one last chance to take care of business. I put away anything left out on the counters or floor and check the calendar for the next day. I make a list of all that I hope to accomplish or need to remember tomorrow and then I usually start a load of laundry. I brush my teeth, floss when I remember to, wash my face, remove my contacts, pluck my eyebrows a little bit, and can't forget to pee. I get out my Bible and read a bit. When I can hardly keep my eyes open I get into bed. As I lay there I make plans in my head of things I want to or need to, take care of. I strategize how to get my toddler to eat more, worry myself about my middle child starting kindergarten next fall, wonder whether or not I am too hard on my oldest, contemplate when I should start potty training the little one, make lists in my head, think about what I am going to make for dinner tomorrow night, replay a conversation I had that didn't go as planned, pray about all the things that went wrong today and about all the things I need help with tomorrow, and finally, sleep relieves me from the mental chaos.

Day 29: What is the last thing you do before bed?

I open the window about two inches. 
This is a contentious point between my husband and I.  He is always cold, and I am always hot.  So if I open the window when he is already asleep, then he can't close it, unless of course he wakes up and is cold. 
I think I sleep better with some fresh air circulating.  It's no good to breathe stuffy air. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

What are the three things you enjoy most about the winter season? What three things do you dislike?

All around my town, as far as you can see in every direction, the prairie is tinged with frost. The Rockies loom in the west, towering, white pillars of majestic beauty. Every morning when I walk I hear nothing but the sound of my own breathing.

There is no pressing agenda, no trips to plan, no events to rush off to. It is the perfect time of year to read multiple books without the guilty feeling that I should be doing something else.

Sweaters, hats, mittens, Bogs, blankets on the couch, heated seats in the car, hot tea, smells of cinnamon & vanilla, all contribute to the overall sensation of being cozy.

My girls marvel at the falling snow, rejoicing as each flake falls. Snow equals happy memories for my kids.

The puddles our boots leave on the kitchen floor drive me batty.

The gas bill is disheartening.

Forgetting to unplug my car & dragging the extension cord down the driveway can get annoying.

Day 28: What are three things that you enjoy most about the winter season? What three things do you dislike?


1. That feeling of being all snug in my house, with the fire going, and watching the snow fall outside.
2. Christmas
3. Watching my sons when they go out to play in the snow, I will miss this very much when they are grown up.

1. Driving on winter roads, with ice, and snow, and slush, it's scary and dangerous, and causes me a lot of stress.  I do not like it a bit.
2. That feeling of being snowed in, and somewhat trapped (this happens usually after 3 days of snow, and we have around 3+ feet) (after the "snug" feeling is gone)
3. Where I live we get a lot of snow, and it starts out all powdery and beautiful, then it warms up some, via the Chinook wind, and it all melts and gets slushy and it's messy.  Really messy.  I hate that.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Day 27: List 5 things you are looking forward to this week

1. Friday, my personal favorite day of the week.
2. Thursday as that means hockey practices are done ( till Monday and then I guess there are 6 games on the weekend... So nevermind, I'm pretty much on a count down till Christmas vacation anyhow. Two weeks off hockey.)
3. Getting over this dumb cold I have, my head hurts, I can hardly swallow, and I just generally feel bad.
4. Going for lunch on Saturday, between hockey games. I always am into food, especially when I did not have to cook it.
5. The package of great bargains I ordered from the Old Navy Black Friday sale.

List 5 things you are looking forward to this week.

1. My husband having Friday, Saturday & Sunday off.
2. Cutting our Christmas tree down in the wild Choteau forrest.
3. Having all my children recovered from the stomach flu.
4. Getting back into my normal schedule.
5. It is only Sunday, but truthfully I am already most looking forward to this week being over.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Day 26: Do you enjoy being alone? Would you rather be around other people.

I am a loner at heart. 
I love and treasure my time alone.  I attribute some of this is because growing up I was an only child, and I was parented by a woman who also loved "her time" and I could not interfere with her time to herself.
I do like to be with people, but in limited amounts.  For the last 16 years, it seems I have not had much time to myself.  Motherhood, does not provide for much time alone.  Being a hockey mom also affords little time alone.

My idea of a fantasy vacation would be a couple of weeks alone with a stack of books to read.  I would love that. I do wonder at what point I would start to feel lonesome. 

At times I tend to be almost downright, anti-social, I worry over this tendency in myself at times. 

I do like to be around other people.  Really I do.  

Do you enjoy being alone? Would you rather be around other people.

Being alone is something I fantasize about quite frequently.
Having someone permanently attached to your hip, lap, hand, or hanging on to the back of your shirt, seems to be part and parcel of the whole glorious gift of motherhood. I am not complaining about being a mom, it just would be nice to be able to go to the bathroom without someone following me in there.
Of course, I do love spending time with other people. Well...... some people. Alright, if I am being honest; there are really not that many people I care to spend any great quantity of time with.
I suppose when it comes down to it I prefer to be by myself, with the exception of my husband, children, and our dog. I can't get away from them even if I go to the bathroom. Not that I'd have it any other way.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving is an American holiday. Do you think an annual "day of thanks" should be celebrated earth wide? Is the positive often overlooked?

Thanksgiving is an American holiday with historic significance. It is a tradition of American culture. I am not going to say the whole world should adopt an American holiday, that would be very arrogant & presumptuous.
The second part of the question actually reads, "Do you feel the focus on the positive in our lives is too often overlooked in favor of the negative or sensational?"
Yes, I do. I could go on and on about the media and the news coverage and everyone with an ungrateful attitude and blah, blah, blah. No one wants to hear my views any more than I want to expound on them. I can't change the world's way of thinking, but I can change mine. I am responsible for myself.
I am never going to be a Pollyanna, nor do I care to be. Pollyannas grate on my nerves. On the other end of the spectrum is Debbie Downer, and I certainly don't want to be her either. I refuse to ignore the negatives of life and I refuse to sugar coat them. However, I can choose not to dwell on them. I can choose to appreciate who and what I have in my life. I can choose to be grateful for the multitude of blessings I have been bestowed. Of course I am still going to gripe, as I am far from perfect after all. But when I make the choice to focus on the positive in my own life I find I like myself better.

Day 25: Thanksgiving day is an American holiday. Do you think an annual "day of thanks" should be celebrated earth-wide? Do you feel the focus on the positive in our lives is too often overlooked in favor of the negative or sensational?

I honestly don't think there needs to be a worldwide day of thankfulness.  Thankfulness to me, is a state of mind more than anything.  They could declare a worldwide thankful day, but unless I chose to be thankful, I would not be.  It'd just participate for the food probably.

Yes being that I am a natural born pessimist, yes I do feel that positive is often overlooked by the negative.   It's an easy thing do to, dwell on the negative, instead of what's good about any situation.  It's easy to sink oneself into having no hope, or bashing others, when really it's myself I should be holding to account. 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

What are you thankful for?

I am thankful for my husband, I happened to have married well & I know it.
I am thankful for my children, they are bright sunshine in an often dreary world.
I am thankful for health, my own and that of those I love.
I am thankful for my sister and all her boys, an unexpected gift that has enriched my life immeasurably.
I am thankful for where I live, the simple beauty all around me would be unappreciated by most but it never ceases to awe me.
I am thankful for my dog, not only is she nearly perfect, she is also an extra incentive to get me out the door to jog each morning.
I am thankful for all the comforts of home, the security of my husband's job, the dependability of my vehicle, the food in my fridge, that the bills always get paid.
I am thankful for heated seats in my car.
I am thankful for friends who don't expect too much.
I am thankful for 94% fat free popcorn, a Weight Watcher girl's best friend.
I am thankful for books and the privilege of being able to read them.
I am thankful to God, from whom all blessing flow.

Day 24: What are you thankful for? What are you grateful for?

I'm thankful for a lot... Is gratefulness just an extension of thankfulness?  Or one in the same?

My sons,  one of whom is celebrating his 10th birthday this day!!
My husband.
Susie the puppy, I'm thankful you made it outside to pee this morning. *did not pee on the floor

The sun that came out today.
The sleep I got last night.
For the fun I get to have taking my son birthday cupcakes at school today.

I'm thankful that I continue to breathe in and out. 

I'm thankful for warm long down jackets so I don't get cold at the rink as I wait.

I am thankful for Steve Jobs who made some pretty damn cool technology gadgets, I am sorry though that you were not at peace with some stuff in your life, I could really relate to you in some aspects.

The below sign pretty well sums thankfulness all up. Yet, I don't care for the use of the word "LUCKIER".

  Happy Thursday Thanksgiving all! 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Do you spend Thanksgiving Day alone or with others? How would you prefer to spend it?

Let's face it, Thanksgiving is Christmas' red-headed step-child, it exists in the shadows, condemned to always play second fiddle. And of course there is now Black Friday, also jockeying for top spot and further reducing Thanksgiving's importance. It seems as though Thanksgiving has been forgotten, trampled over in fact, as everyone rushes to be first in line for the $99 flat screens at Wal Mart. Apparently Thanksgiving doesn't hold any clout since it doesn't equal dollar signs for retailers.
But I appreciate Thanksgiving, it is beautiful in its simplicity. It is a holiday with no pressure involved and very little effort required. (Especially if you opt for ham like I did this year!) Thanksgiving's main selling feature is that it is a holiday devoted to nothing but sitting around with your family and friends basking in their presence. A time to enjoy being with those you love. Thanksgiving is meant to be shared. Without friends and family it would be just another meal on another Thursday.

Day 23: Do you spend Thanksgiving day alone or with others? How would prefer to spend it?

It's not Thanksgiving outside of the USA, to the rest of the world tomorrow is know as none other than.... THURSDAY.
Here in Canada we celebrate Thanksgiving, on the second Monday of each October.  So we had ours already.
But I would be lying if I did not say that I feel a bit down on American Thanksgiving each year.  I miss it.  I did grow up in the USA, and remembering Thanksgivings seems somewhat sentimental, and long ago.
But for Thanksgiving this year, about 6 weeks ago, we had some friends over and I made the spread.  It was nice.
We usually do not spend Thanksgiving alone.  By alone, I somehow picture alone alone, as in I never am alone, it seems someone is always with me, thanks to the wonders of home business sigh. I could use a bit of time alone, to maybe have a thought.
But I digress...
It would be fun to do American Thanksgiving again, I'd love to spend it with my sister and her family someday.  Yet, I'm not sure how we could ever swing this, as it's the crazy busy time of Hockey season, and the roads are generally, horrible. 
But for now, I can be found at the hockey rink, wrapping t-shirts around Gatorade bottles with Christmas ribbon, all for my sons tournament that is coming up this weekend.
I would prefer, not to  spend Thanksgiving at the hockey rink, but that's my life all weekend long.

I'm thinking of my loved ones in the USA though, please know, I'm thankful for each one of you.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

What is the luckiest thing that has ever happened to you?

Nothing lucky has ever happened to me, not a single thing.
Plenty of good things have happened to me, unexpected things, happy things, surprisingly great things, but nothing "lucky". Luck is very subjective, an excuse people use, a way of trivializing things that happen to others, and a general waste of my time.
I have often been told by a friend how lucky I am to have met my husband when I was young. Which makes me wonder, why should luck get the credit? By her own rationale she must then be unlucky, as she has yet to meet anyone. I want to know why that makes her unlucky? Couldn't it be that her life is just following a different trajectory and there is actually nothing unlucky about it? In fact couldn't her life be just as "grand" as mine, only in its own way?
If she could accept her life for what it is and stop wishing it were something else, I think she would find herself just as "lucky" as I am.

Day 22: What is the luckiest thing that has ever happened to you?

I hope this is not extremely lazy, but I came up with a good post on lucky, and I'm going to cross post what I wrote on my other blog...

I think luck is dumb.  There is no such thing as “LUCK”
I thought I would use this opportunity to say, stop telling us adoptees we are lucky. Lucky to have been born, lucky to be alive, lucky to not be on the bottom of the abortionists bucket, lucky to have been ripped from our drug addict of a mother’s arms, lucky, so we could lead lucky productive lives, filled with joy and gratitude that we were given so much and for that we should be eternally grateful, lucky to not have been handed over to dysfunction, lucky to not know, lucky just like Aunt Betty’s nephew who thinks his adopters are his real parents, after all, he never wanted to know, now isn’t he freaking lucky.  Lucky bastard. After all, he has a Masters degree.
It makes me angry when people say this.  It’s like they have to say it to us, out-loud, to ensure that we know, how they think we need to feel about it.  To say anything else would rock their world.  It might cause them to think.
Let me dispel myth for you, being adopted WAS NOT the luckiest thing that ever happened to me.  No sir.  I am not lucky, grateful, chosen or special.  No more than anybody else in this world. Luck had nothing to do with it.
I am not a better person than I would have been had I been kept.  I’m a more fractured person.  Who is that ghost inside me?  Who is that child that could have been?  What could she have done? Where is that woman? Would SHE have been lucky?  I guess it’s kind of a rhetorical question.
Stop telling me the worst thing that ever happened to me, was the luckiest thing.
Seriously, stop it, I dare you to even stop thinking it.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Name a totally useless possession and how you came to accquire it.

About this time last year a package showed up on my doorstep. UPS had delivered it for a staggering sum of $46. The shipping charge was more than the combined total value of the contents, much more. The package was from my mother-in-law.
Many such packages have come our way in the two years since our move away from my in-laws. Granted, we didn't move solely because of them, but it was certainly an added bonus.
This particular box contained a treasure trove of useless possessions, which she passed off as our Christmas presents. Most of our "presents" went immediately into the trash or were garage saled at rock bottom prices last summer. Except for one particularly useless item.......
Let me give you a little bit of background information. My mother-in-law is an elementary school teacher. Many of her students bring her presents at various times during the year. She herself wouldn't allow this stuff in her house, so she boxes up her cast offs and gives them to me. It would be one thing if she did so with full disclosure, but instead she re-gifts them, all the while pretending, with much enthusiasm, to have bought them herself.
I have been the recipient of opened boxes of Christmas cards, missing three or four out of the dozen, collections of envelopes, not one of them the same, gift certificates with the original giver's name crossed out and her own filled in,brownie pans in boxes that are covered with dust from their time in storage, and clothing that has been worn and washed, but is presented as having been purchased with me in mind, just to name a few.
I hate clutter. I will not keep something I do not use. I make occasional exceptions for sentimental items, but they are few and far between as I am not a very sentimental person. My mother-in-law knows this, which is why she sadistically inundates me with junk. It is part of her cold & calculating plan for revenge. Did I mention she is quite passive aggressive?
The worst part is that when she does comes to visit, she inquires about the junk she has sent! Have I been using it? What do I think? Don't I just love it? Many times I have been cornered and forced to confess that actually I do not have said item anymore, that I did not find it useful and so I found it a new home. These conversations do not go over well. In fact, she tends to get quite upset that I have tossed out her garbage for her. Last year she even interrogated my husband about the fact that I no longer possess a toy globe she gave to me six years ago. Of course I got rid of it, it was a singing toy! You'd get rid of it too if you had to hear "People in Mexico are called Mexicans" over and over again!
It should come as no surprise that the most useless item in my house was actually a Christmas present from my mother-in-law. Last year, among the many ridiculous re-gifts she sent our way, was the ugliest, embroidered picture of Santa Claus checking his list I have ever seen. Complete with a faux wooden frame trimmed with gold. It is heinous. A monstrosity. Uglier than sin.
I hung on to it because I know she is going to grill me about it the next time she comes to visit at Christmas. Also, the devil in me really wants to wait a few years and re-gift it back to her.

Day 21: Name a totally useless posession and how you came to accquire it.

Well today we have decided to skip the Ricki Lake dribble and post on something that is really deep (you know compared to Ms. Lake) all that and no smug attitude! 

At my house, we own several totally useless possessions. Now, the putting the words "totally useless" onto this object in my home, is quite a subjective phrase. 

Totally Useless
As in, not all the residents in my home view this item as totally useless.  (As in my husband, who in an imaginary world, he is a body builder). 

He acquired this item a few years ago, from a co-worker.  If I remember it correctly, that co-workers wife was delighted to unload this "totally useless" item off, on my husband.

He moved this item in, with great intentions.  He would get buff, our sons would also be strong little men running about the house. 

Sadly, that was not to be.  It has now been reduced into that of a hanger for wet snow pants, and a divider between hockey bags and the treadmill. 

I mentioned to my husband, that this would be a great, "trash to treasure" item, to unload onto another unsuspecting victim husband under the guise of fitness.

If my husband ever goes anywhere for more than a day, and the weather is nice at my house, the kids and I are going to drag this thing out to the end of the drive way and afix a "FREE" sign to the whole works.

Yet, I guess that will mean we have no more hanger for wet snow pants. 

Maybe I will become a body builder??

Sunday, November 20, 2011

What are the top five websites you would hate to live without.

I am phoning it in tonight folks. Here you go:
1. gmail
2. amazon
3. IMDb
4. usatoday
5. allrecipes

Day 20: What are the top five websites you'd hate to live without?

1. Pinterest I can't explain how fun, cool and radically awesome this site is, I could sit all day and pin stuff. Amazing recipes too.  Mmm. 

2. Kobo Books I got an e-reader, a kobo, for Christmas last year, and this is where I download books.  I love it, much cheaper than buying the book too.  I am an e-reader convert.  Yes, I still like "real books" but it's nice being able to have so many with me at all times.

3. Your Next Read again here great book site.  Put in the name of a book you liked, and it will generate a list of books you should read next.  Not that I ever am at a loss for books to read, it's just really fun to play around with.

4. Word Press Blogging platform, I have a blog there, I love it, great in-depth blogging tools.  Super nice. Free too.

5. Stumble Upon Have an extra free 8 hours or so?  Try this site, you will be sucked right in, and you will be amazed at all the cool and fantastic sites you will find!!  I these cool websites on Stumble Upon: SNL Archives, My Child WILL embarrass you in the bathroom (made me giggle!), and this great Journal Writing Prompts site.  Stumble Upon, totally addictive. 

There, now go get addicted!  :-) 

Saturday, November 19, 2011


Finally my house is empty of all except those who permanently reside here.
I wish I had a house cleaner who could disinfect my floors and bathrooms.
I wish I had a better attitude.
I wish my husband had another week off work.
I wish my kids would sleep in until noon tomorrow.
I wish there wasn't thirty-five loads of laundry.
I wish I had something witty or meaningful to write about tonight.

Day 19: (and we're almost there!!) A recipe that looks delish....

Ok, I got this recipe off of this web site... Pennies On A Platter

Thanks to them,(the web address above) my family has a new favorite, and I mean, picture 3 boys (two teenagers) fighting over thirds of this...

Run... don't walk to get the ingredients for this recipe.... it is amazing, and now my kids ask for it at least three times a week. 

We also tried it with some of that sweet/spicy Thai sauce, M&M Meat Shop sells it... mmmm. Really good.

Coconut Chicken with Apricot Sauce

Yield: 4 servings
1 egg
1 cup sweetened coconut flakes
1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
4 boneless chicken breasts
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup apricot preserves
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
Preheat the oven to 400˚F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Lightly beat the egg in a medium bowl; set aside.  Mix the coconut, flour, garlic powder, salt and pepper in a shallow bowl.  Working with one chicken breast at a time, dip the chicken in the bowl with the beaten egg and then coat with the coconut mixture.  Place on the baking sheet.  Once all chicken breasts are coated and on the baking sheet, evenly drizzle with the melted butter.  Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, flipping once halfway.
To prepare the apricot sauce, mix the apricot preserves and the Dijon mustard in a small bowl.  Chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
Freezer Friendly:  After baking the chicken, let cool completely then freeze in a freezer bag for up to 1 month.  To reheat, bake in a preheated oven at 400˚F for 20 minutes.
Source:  Jamie MacDonald, friend of Pennies on a Platter

** My advice, double this recipe!  You won't be sorry!

Friday, November 18, 2011

What has been the happiest moment of your life thus far?

August 10, 2001- My husband and I pledged to have and to hold from this day forward. What God has joined together let no man put asunder. I was thrilled to take that vow.
July 25, 2004- My firstborn showed up, five weeks early but healthy & breathing on her own. I had never been more thankful for anything in my entire life.
September 21, 2006- I pushed my sweet, sweet, red-head out in only two pushes. The cord was wrapped twice around her neck and I had never been more relieved than when I heard her first cry.
July 21, 2009- Although my little, bitty girl arrived to less than perfect conditions, I had never been happier to hold a baby in my arms.

Day 18: What has been the happiest moment of your life thus far

Ive had many, it's tough to boil it all down to just one... Time for a list....these are the main highlights, and I am adding photos where I can, or have permission to do so.  And I'm feeling very lazy this morning and and I don't feel like getting the scanner out, so I am maybe not putting in the correct event pictures, but you get the idea, right? 

1. When I got married, over 19 years ago.

2. Despite the demise of our relationship-- when I met my mom, in 1994, and she held me for the first time in 24 years. It answered a lot of questions for me. And in turn made me pretty happy.

3. When I had my son Ben, my heart was so full, I thought I would pop.

4. When my next son Danny was born, I remember the sky was red, and pink that morning he was born, it was beautiful.

5. When my youngest son Joshua was born, I was so happy to hold him.

6. When I connected with my sister.

7. That perfect day my husband and I had on the Caribbean Sea on the Catamaran tour, every moment is etched in my mind. It was, the perfect day.

There you have it!
I'll also be really happy when winter is OVER.  TGIF People!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Make a list of everyone you've ever had a crush on in your life, then choose one from the list and describe him or her in great detail.

A list is not necessary, there was only one crush that really mattered.
I remember the first words I said to you were, "So, is she your girlfriend or something?", you quipped back, "Why? You jealous?" I remember that yes, I was jealous, so very jealous.
I remember how confident you were. I remember that you dreamed of joining the Air Force, but your grades weren't good enough. I remember how you stood out, even in a crowd. I remember your laugh, how easily it came. I remember how tall you were, you towered over me and made me feel protected. I remember the way you played basketball, how you would turn to point to me after every basket you hit. I remember the time you tried growing your hair out, a blonde, curly mess. I remember the way your blue eyes were always smiling. I remember the way your first car, a Toyota Tercel, smelled of strawberries. I remember the name you picked out for French class, Remy. I remember the way you picked me up to kiss me. I remember painting your toenails blue. I remember when you called me from the school office to say hello because I was home sick. I remember all the poems I wrote about you in 10th grade English. I remember how much I wanted to tell you that I loved you, but I was never able to say the words. I remember how long you waited, patiently, for me to come around. I remember that you wrote in my year book, "I will always love you." I remember when I realized that it was a lie, that you were tired of waiting. I remember how much I cried. I remember how much I hurt.
I remember hearing for the first time that you were gone, for good. I remember listening to your friends talk about how much you had smiled, how much you had laughed, how much they had loved you. I remember wishing I could stand up and explain how much you had meant to me too. I remember the weight of knowing I would never be able to tell you.
This is me telling you now.

Day 17: Make a list of everyone you've ever had a crush on in your life, then choose one from the list and describe him or her in great detail. (Guest Post by Ann Napolitano, author)

Daryl Brown, you lit up my world in 4th grade. 

There was just so much to like about you.  You seemed dangerous, the way you kicked the ball in PE when we played the now infamous "Battle Ball". 

All the girls were crazy over you. 

That short 1/4 inch buzz cut you had. Super groovy.  That blue polo shirt I was so excited to see you wearing it, it seemed to match your eyes. 

I admired you so much when you stood up to Jason Peterson at recess that day, when he dared to make fun of some of the younger kids. 

What happened to you Daryl Brown?  Do you have a job you like?  Does your wife look into your blue eyes and know that 4th grade girls loved them? 

*All names were altered for purposes of privacy.  :-)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

What is the moment that you leave childhood and enter adulthood? (Guest post by Catherine Gildiner, author of After the Falls)

There is not one defining moment I left childhood behind. It happened gradually and quite ungracefully. Instead it was halting, coming in spurts and stutters. I am not proud to admit but, I even encountered a few complete reversals. Adulthood has been achieved in small increments, one hard fought victory after another. In some ways I am still in process.
Every time I do what I need to do instead of what someone else thinks I should do, every time I have made a decision that is neither easy or pleasant, every time I admit my mistakes and learn from them, when I control my temper, or, allow it to flare when necessary, every time I have thought for myself, when I take responsibility for my own life, challenge myself, exercise self-control, when I stand up for what is right even if it is unpopular, and mostly, for me; when I chose to simply be who I am and not who others wanted me to be, that is when I become, or became, an adult.

Day 16: What is the moment that you leave childhood and enter adulthood? (Guest Post by Catherine Gildiner, author )

I think it's the day when I brought my first child into the world.

I held him knowing that all the innocence, and childhood shreds were gone for me.  I saw a different side of life as I once knew it.

Never again, would many things be the same.  It was forever altered.  I saw the world from new eyes.

That was the day, I embraced adulthood.  The child was gone.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Day 15: Describe a favourite place....

Sleep is a favourite place.

Warm, safe. relaxed.

Nothing to worry about.

Comfortable.  Where I wish I was all the busy day long.

No arguing teens there.


Describe a favorite place. Focus on how that place affects your sense of taste, touch, sight, sound, or smell. (Guest post by Adrienne McDonnell)

Feels fuzzy, pillowy, familiar. Is enticing, irresistible, addicting. Makes me calm, relaxed, refreshed. Smells like vanilla, bleach & Gain. Looks inviting, cozy, soft. Sounds muffled, quiet, heavenly. Have never tasted it.
It is my bed & it is where I am going now, finally.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Day 14: Have you faced your fears and overcome them?

I'm not even going to mention who asked this guest prompt.  
My sister put it aptly enough in her post title.

Yes, I have faced a lot of fears.  I feel to some degree yes, I have overcome.  Or maybe it's a constant work in progress -- overcoming. I won't stop overcoming until the day I die. By no means am I saying I have it all together.  No way. 

More than anything, one thing I've thought much about recently is fear itself.  And what a prison fear seems to become.  We become entrenched in fear, and it seems nothing will pull us out at times.

I can look back on my life, and I realize that fear has been a huge force, fear has at different times ruled my life.
But again, when I've faced fear, I've now learned, it has the opposite effect than I expected, I expected to be shamed, shunned, and cast out, instead, facing it brought freedom, and shed light into my life.  I'm actually a new person, because of facing my fears. I know who I am. Facing it made all the difference.

I urge people to face fears, head on.  I know, believe you me,  I know, yes it is scary, for sure.  But being scared, just even for a little while, is not worth missing out on freedom, or life, or somebody in life.

Step out... come on.

Ricki Lake, blah, blah, blah, Dancing with the Stars, blah, blah, blah, facing fears.

To every child who has suffered the unimaginable but is still willing to stand up and tell their story even though there will always be those who choose not to believe the truth.
To every mother who has been willing to confront the past although it hurts like hell.
To every sister who speaks the truths no one likes to hear, who is an advocate for those who have lost their voice, who encourage and support even though they themselves have suffered as well.
To every coach who has actually taken a stand for what is right, despite the dire consequences.
To every person who makes a choice, every day, to move forward even though they have every justifiable right to simply shut down and withdraw instead.
To all of you I say, from the very bottom of my heart, thank you. You inspire me, because although your fears may be unseen they are mighty and yet you choose to fight them every single day. You are more courageous and resilient than you realize. Thank you for being willing to face your very real fears even though there is no mirror ball trophy to be won in doing so.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Here is $1000. Spend it in the next hour or lose it. No online shopping allowed.

No online shopping allowed??? Do you know where I live? There is no other shopping available in my town! I could drive to the "big city", but it is over 100 miles away and there goes my hour.
There is only one sensible thing left to do. Groceries. Thank goodness there is at least a grocery store in town. You know the sad thing though? $1000 isn't going to get me a whole lot. Please tell me I am not the only one who spends nearly $500 a month on food. In fact, groceries is the biggest bill we have each month after our mortgage. And let me tell you, our mortgage really isn't that far ahead.
I am taking my $1000 down to Albertson's and loading up the carts. I sure hope George is working tonight because I am not going to feel like hauling those carts out to the car on my own. It is only 25 degrees after all. I know that he makes some of the women in town uncomfortable, but I like him. The man escorts me and my cart to the car, opens my door for me, then loads my groceries into my car while I sit on my butt. What is not to like? I didn't even get that kind of service from my husband when we were dating.
$1000 is only going to get me about two months worth of food and supplies. Two months, it is a little depressing. I think I will cheer myself up by online shopping with all the money I will save not having to buy groceries for the next 60 days.

Day 13: Here's $1000. Spend it in the next hour or lose it. No online shopping allowed.

Here's a goodie!

1. iPhone 4s.  $150.00 (I could get the iPhone 4 (not 4s) for free, but I have extra money so I'll go for the 4s, it has a better camera anyhow.) I am a nerdy tech gadgety person.

2. An electric fireplace, to put in my living room.  A nice one from this furniture  store I like, $400.00. I am moving the piano in my living room and putting the new electric fireplace where the piano sits.  Piano will now be on the opposite wall.

3. Large flat screen TV, to hang on the wall over the new electric fireplace.  $450.00.

That was $1000.00 I blew that quick eh?

Now, if I just had another $1000, and I'd get a nice sectional for my newly refreshed living room.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Day 12: Will you attend your high school reunion? Why or why not?

Well, I'm coming up on my 25th High School Reunion, Class of 1988.  Two years from now, I could be partying like it's 1999, or in my case, 1988...

No, probably not.  I seriously would probably not go. 

I went to my 10th reunion.  Which was LAME, my husband hated every moment and never failed to tell me how much it sucked. 

Looking back at the whole thing, yes it did suck.  Basically I think we should have had stats sheets on one another, the main questions were:

1. Where'd you end up?
2. Are you married? To whom?
3. How many puppies have you popped out?  Or managed to breed? (they even gave out awards to people who had the most kids-- one nerdy guy won, he had 6 kids, nobody saw that one coming.)
4. What do you do for a living? 

We should have all sent in our questionnaires, instead of even showing up to the party.  It would have saved time, and possible embarrassment, for those of us who had gained a lot of weight. 

Everyone at my 10th High School Reunion was wasted, and dancing to 80's songs.  And all of our spouses were back at the tables, mocking us. 

No stellar memories.  Nope. 

The 20th Reunion, I did not attend.  Somebody sent me some pictures, I was glad I did not go, it looked lamer than the 10th. 

Due to the wonders of social media, I can now see what all of my friends in high school are now up to.  I have (before I deactivated my account, about 3 weeks ago, I'm taking a break) about 60 friends that I went to High School with as my Facebook friends. 
I notice some odd trends going on with people I once went to High School I can group them in loose catagories,

1. Those who are having mid-life crises, who post pictures of their new red convertibles, their new "trophy" wives or girlfriends (around age 22-- whom they are old enough to be those girls' fathers), and I must say, those guys who do that, are always bald.  It's a strange phenomena. I have an ex- that fits into this category, and I have really had some comedic moments over that one. I'll just say, I'm really glad I did not marry him, or I'd have some serious issues right now.

2. People who were the worst stoners, and heavy drug users, I mean, heavy duty, stoned, the entire time at High School, they seem to all have now found religion.  The biggest stoner in my High School Class, is has become a Pastor, he has sent all of us personal messages as to how changed he is, and how we should repent or burn.  Not that there is anything wrong with that, but I'm just saying what a weird turn of events.  I did not ever see that one coming. 

3. Women I went to High School with that put off having kids, and whom are now 40-41 years old and just having their first kid.  There is an endless stream, of status messages about potty training, and what to do if little Daisy is having a temper tantrum... I get they put off kids, but quite frankly, I am tired of hearing about it.  I simply want answers on how to deal with snotty teenagers.  I'm glad I won't have to deal with teens when I'm in my 50's. 

Also, I wonder, why should I make an effort to get to a party to celebrate 25 years since High School, if all I have to do to see what they ate for breakfast, or where they last vacationed, or how depressed they seem to be, is check out Facebook. 

So no, probably not.  I'd rather go anywhere else.  I'd have more fun.

Will you attend your high school reunion? Why or why not?

Hasn't Facebook quenched the need for us all to get together again just so we can see who is now fat, divorced, bald, or broke? Do we even need high school reunions anymore? Do we really want to have an awkward conversation about the stock market with the guy we repeatedly turned down for a date sixteen years ago? Why dedicate a whole evening of our lives to chatting about bathroom habits of three year olds with a girl we used to be friends with- before she stole our boyfriend Senior year? Is it really necessary to repeat, 45 times, where we work, who we married, and how many children we have? It seems even less necessary to ask those same questions, 45 times, when truthfully we don't care to hear the answers.
If we were still friends I would care about your marriage troubles, your trip to Disney last summer, and the 63 pictures of Junior on your cell phone. But we aren't friends anymore, in fact we never were, which would explain why I haven't seen you in 15 years.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Day 11: It's 11/11/11, make three wishes.

I'm exhausted, today and I'm probably going to wish for selfish things... alas, they are only wishes, so here goes:

1. Teenagers who are not snotty, and who don't fight with one another.  Today has been a real run for my money.  Anybody want to buy a ps3 with several games?  How about an xbox with several games?  They are going for cheap. Hell, I'd even be willing to give them away...

2.  To win the lotto, I know wishing for money is selfish and shallow, but today I just don't care.  I'd use it to travel, and pay off my mortgage.  Maybe buy a winter condo on the golf course in Arizona. Not to mention a long vacation with no snotty teenagers.  I'd take my sister on a hunting trip too.

3.  I wish that people all over the world would face their pain.  For no other reason then for them, I wish they would realize that being at peace with their past pain, would indeed make life better.  They would be happier. The world might be happier. 

It is 11/11/11, make three wishes.

I could wish for an end to suffering, a miraculous cure for incurable disease, and world peace but that is naive, sappy, and hopelessly unrealistic.
I could wish for millions of dollars, the perfect figure, and thick gorgeous hair but I would not be fulfilled, only materialistic, shallow, and self absorbed.
I could wish for a way to right all my wrongs, change my past, and recover my missed opportunities, but what havoc would that wreak on who I now am?
I could wish for a house full of books, a never ceasing supply of time, and a cozy couch, but those desires would soon run their course and I would have wasted a grand opportunity.
I could wish for power, strength, and immortality, but it would be a very lonely existence.
I could wish for love, joy, and contentment, but I already have those things, when I am not taking them for granted.
I could wish for adventure, travel, and excitement, but such things don't suit me well for the long term.
All I can think about is the inevitable let down when the wishes are gone, the longing to have made a different choice, the crushing realization, in hindsight, of what should have been wished, the dissatisfaction when the wished for fails to deliver the intended results.
I think I will pass on the three wishes. Unless of course I can wish for more wishes.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

What is your secret (or not-so-secret) passion? (Guest post by Jean Kwok, author of Girl in Translation.)

Ink and paper friends, front row at historical events, wish it were true magic, half way around the world adventure, right next door relatability, mystery, wide ranging emotions, cultures otherwise unknown, heart-wrenching loss, triumphant redemption, longed for revenge, life changing insight, unforeseen twists, edge of my seat suspense, finely painted beauty, rage inducing misunderstandings, impossible love triangles, every loose end tied, a thousand questions left......
My passion comes in a six by eight rectangle. Paper, covered with ink, gets me every time.

Day 10: What is your secret (or not-so-secret) passion? (Guest Post by Jean Kwok, author )

Passion?  Secret Passion?

This is a tough one.  For the last almost five years, I've been on something of a journey of self discovery, I've actually been finding out who I really am. 

That has become somewhat of a passion of mine, discovering who I am, and who I was born to be, not being what somebody said I had to be, or how I had to think like them.  But don't get me wrong, I am not a narcissist. I've just spent the majority of my life, doing and thinking the way other people told me I had to.  In someways, discovering who I am is also a secret passion of mine, because I don't tell it to just everybody, some people are not safe to share that with. 

I'm realizing, I can think anything I want, and still be ok, and liked, even loved and valued.

I am also very passionate about reading, and I guess writing.  I would love to someday write a memoir of sorts. 

I could also become very passionate about traveling, I am trying to fufill this passion by buying one lotto ticket a week in hopes that I win, so I can go travel.  And take my family traveling. 

One thing I know for sure, I'm going to visit Italy before I die!  That dream, I am passionate about!!!


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Day 9: When was the first time that you realized that your home was not like other people’s homes? (Guest Post by Catherine Gildiner, author )

There is a lot of background here that I'm leaving out.  My apologies.

If I was to recount to you the first time, or all the times that I realized my home was not like other peoples, I'd be here much longer than the time I have allotted for this today. 

My home was nothing like other peoples homes, or even most peoples homes.  I noticed, everyday. 

Lets just say, I was part of a social experiment gone really bad.  I'm something of a survivor.

From about the age of 4 I was aware, that it was much different the most peoples reality.  I'm sure I noticed before then, on more of a subconscious  level. 

That's all I have to say about it today. 

When was the first time you realized your home was not like other people's homes? (Guest post by Catherine Gildiner, author of After the Falls)

I apologize in advance, I simply don't have it in me today to address this properly. I am far too cranky and frankly I just don't care. I would rather go to bed and yes, it is only 7:38.
To answer the question though; I realized my home was different than other homes as a young kid. I think most children inherently know that things are different in other families, different rules, food, smells, clothes, traditions, etc. It isn't rocket science.
Maybe you should come up with a better question, Catherine. Or maybe I should come up with a better mood.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Has anything traumatic ever happened to you? Describe the scense surrounding a particular event. (Guest post by Adrienne McDonnell)

I was 18 years old and it was early summer. I had spent the evening with friends, having a bonfire by the lake. Just to get it out of the way, no, I was not drinking alcohol, nor were any of the kids I was with that night. Regardless, trauma ensued. Physical trauma that is, mainly to my lower jaw and teeth.
I was riding shotgun in a 1988 Nissan Sentra. It was silver and boxy, a little puddle jumper with only a lap belt in my seat. We were headed home late that night and weren't paying much attention to where we were going. We noticed our turn too late, but the driver still attempted to make it. Wouldn't you know there was a very large ditch off the side of that turn? The last thing I remember thinking as our car skidded across the pavement toward that hole was, "my parents are going to be so mad at me for this!"
My face felt very peculiar when I came to and I spit something hard into my hand; one of my teeth. Then the fog cleared a little and it dawned on me that I was not the only one in the car suffering. Although my dear friend the driver was completely unscathed, the same could not be said about my friend in the back seat. The poor girl's face was unrecognizable under an incredible amount of blood. Not only that, she was in tremendous pain and unable to get out of the car on her own.
I did get out of the car, I remember thinking I had to because it was going to blow up. This must have been a combination of shock and having seen too many episodes of the A-Team. So, there I was on the side of the road in Timbuktu, bleeding profusely from the mouth, spitting out teeth, slurring my words incoherently, thinking my best friend is trapped in a car that is going to explode at any minute.
You know who I feel the worst for right now though? The driver. Sure, both of us passengers were covered in blood and suffering from a multitude of physical ailments, but can you imagine bearing witness to this trauma all the while being the one who inadvertently caused it? Not that I blame her, it was an accident pure and simple.
Out of the darkness another vehicle materialized and then an ambulance. We were taken to the hospital where it was discovered that in addition to knocking out two teeth, chipping six of them and breaking my jaw in three places, I had also nearly severed my tongue. No wonder my words sounded foreign. I was the lucky one though. My friend in the back seat broke her nose, cracked her spine and split open the skin from her eyebrow to the tip of her nose, which required more than a hundred stitches.
It was certainly the most physical trauma I have endured but physical pain is forgotten as soon as it subsides. I ended up no worse for the wear with the exception of a few fake teeth.
One thing I am really thankful for? That the EMT's who responded were not from my own local fire station, since they ended up cutting all my clothes off of me.

Day 8: Has anything traumatic ever happened to you? Describe the scenes surrounding a particular event (Guest Post by Adrienne McDonnell, author)

Ok Adrienne McDonnell, I have no idea who you are, but I googled your book.  I refuse to read books (even fiction) about the infertile, as it's a condition, I have a lack of sympathy for.

But, I accept your writing prompt.

I must start this one out by saying, yes, I have had trauma, probably more than my share of trauma for the average 41 year old person.  Trauma is not something to joke about, I know that, I don't make a joke out of anybody's trauma. I urge people who have experienced trauma of all types to seek healing, for there is much healing to be had depending on your willingness to face your pain.  Freedom does exist. 

In starting this blog with my sister, I do think we had something of a lose agreement, to blog about things that were not super grim, I won't speak for my sister but God knows I have enough of that.  Life is serious enough, we decided to concentrate on the not so serious, enough funny things happen in a day of my sister and I's lives, that we could probably keep you laughing for quite some time.

So here is a somewhat joking look, at a time this past summer when my family experienced trauma, or what seemed to us like trauma. But in the big scheme of life, it was far far from traumatic.

The Family Vacation Fiasco... 

This past July my family, my husband, 3 sons and I went on a family vacation to Chicago.  To visit a Aunt, Uncle and Cousin.  Typically we go to Chicago every summer.  My Aunt has a swimming pool, and we literally spend the entire time we are there in the pool, only getting out to use the bathroom and get something to eat and to sleep.  It's our once a year two week overdose of fun.

This past year was a bit different in that my husband, who has changed up his work life and works from home, decided to come with us.  He can now pick and choose when he takes time off.

My family lives in a place that has no airports, so to get to an airport that will fly us to Chicago (remember, I am an American-- who is also a Canadian, who lives in Canada) so, when we fly, we drive to our nearest American city, in Washington State (150 miles south of where we live), stay in a hotel the night before, and then fly out the next morning.  We left the house, in our newly mucked out van, excited and grinning for all that summer vacation was going to provide.

We didn't sleep much the night before, and the boys were so excited to get to Chicago.  We arrived at the airport, I checked in one bag.  That part is important, I checked in ONE bag.  Everybody else each had a small roller bag and a backpack.

The first leg of our journey we had to fly to Minneapolis/ St. Paul Minnesota, we were to arrive at 4.30 PM, and then at 5PM board a flight to Chicago O'Hare.  Flying from the west, we hit a two hour time difference. 

We were told at check in, that our plane (slated to leave at 11 AM-- it was 10 AM) was delayed, but would probably be maybe a half hour late.  Ok we could wait a half hour.  No problem.  We got all settled, sat down to wait.  The ipod's were still all charged and ready to go.  The boys were smiling.  We waited, a half hour, then an hour, soon the gate we were supposed to board at, suddenly displayed no information.  My husband went to walk around...

Soon enough, I had to go and get in line, saying, "We have a flight to O'Hare, and we won't make it if we can't get to Minneapolis soon." The guy said, "yeah, Lady we know.."
The reason the plane was late was because of a huge thunderstorm that had locked down the Minneapolis airport.

Now, after almost 3 hours of waiting in the airport, my kids were no longer happy, and the batteries on the iPod's were almost completely depleted.   Oh this was looking bad.  We were sitting there in a crowd of over 100 pretty upset fliers.

Delta Airlines, was suddenly on everybody's shit list.

At one point, my husband and I went and drank glasses of wine at the bar.  The kids filled up on chips and candy, and still we waited.

I got in line with the ticket agent, to ask again, if they could book us on a later flight to O'Hare.  We currently had it down to where if we got on the plane to Minneapolis in the next 10 minutes, we could make our O'Hare flight.  The guy told me it was impossible.  "Lady, you're not going to make it"

Then they announced that our plane to Minneapolis was not arriving until 5PM, and would board at 5.30 PM.  I asked could we book on a later flight to Chicago?  He checked and checked, and said, "I have nothing until tomorrow morning..." He assured me he had nothing else, and I booked us on the flight the next morning.  As I walked back to where my family sat, anticipating, what I was going to say... I tried to break it to them gently, but halfway through, I decided to just rip the band-aid off, "SO... we get to spend the night in the Minneapolis airport... it'll be an adventure!"
I did not get the reaction I had been looking for.  My youngest started to cry, "But I wanted to go in Auntie's pool!"

Somewhere along the line in the conversation, I remembered my one checked bag...  I quick got into line again.

The guy told me, "well since you have a checked bag.. when you get to Minneapolis, you will need to go down past security to get it, and then you will have to wait there, with your bag, until 4 AM and you can recheck it to O'Hare."  Me thinking, wait just a cotton-pickin second.... we have to wait down where people go into the airport?  And cross security again?

I failed to tell you why I checked a bag to begin with.  I did it because, I had wanted to pack more than a 3 ounce size of shampoo, conditioner, and hair gel.  You know all that time in the chlorinated pool takes a toll on your hair...
When my husband asked why I had checked a bag, and I told him, he shook his head and said, "All for shampoo?  Don't you know they have shampoo in stores you can buy?"

It was a moment to behold, for certain....

We got on the plane to Minneapolis.  The flight was good, the storms had passed.  They apologized to us profusely, but then told us we could not get a free hotel, because, they only give free hotels when it's the airlines fault-- not weather related.

We got to Minneapolis, raced down past security, got my one checked bag, and got in line to see if we could get on one flight going to Chicago, that took off in 20 minutes.  We got down there, breathing heavy, but alas, no, we could not get on.... why?  Because of that dammed checked bag. 

It was 9PM.  There was nowhere to eat beyond security, we had had no dinner and we could not get past security until 12 midnight, due to the fact that one can't get past security at any airport unless it's on the day you fly, since our flight was the next morning... to add insult in injury, we could not re-check "the bag" until 4 AM (3 hours before flight time).  We sat down the those hard, airport chairs to wait.  The boys and I walked around, explored the airport, looked outside, it was a humid Minneapolis summer night.  My husband, who is not much for travel, parked it in a chair, and glared.  I tried to make the best of it.  But as the night wore on, the crankiness set in.  My Dear husband said, "So we have to sit here till 4 AM for SHAMPOO??  What if we took it out, and threw it away, and didn't check that bag? I could take the bag through as a carry on."

As time passed, 10PM, 11PM, my sons were getting hungry, if you have been around hungry teenage boys, you know what I mean, a very volatile situation.

We went back and forth about the shampoo.  At one point we tossed it in the garbage can, then one of us got it back out, repeat that scenario x4.  It seemed at the time, because we were tired and stressed to be a life or death matter, we were fighting over shampoo...

It tuned 12 midnight, I stood up, said, lets go, tossed the shampoo, and walked away.  It took them a few moments to figure out what was happening (remember, they are men-- hungry men).  My youngest son, looked at me and said, "Mom, does this mean you are just going to buy shampoo?"

We crossed security, and walked slowly up to our gate.

When we arrived at our gate, only to have to wait another 6.5 hours before boarding, for our 1/2 hour flight to O'Hare... there was a large screen TV hanging from the ceiling at our gate.  It was belting out CNN, loudly, "...Today, the Obama administration..."  My husband, was determined that noise had to go... he got up and pulled out some wires, the monitor started to sway back and forth.  He manged to kill the picture, but the bright lights were on, yet the sound kept on... it seemed to get louder.  Nothing he did seemed to make the sound go away.

My husband seems to have that uncanny ability to sleep anywhere, under any type of circumstances.  He gave up with the TV monitor laid down across some chairs, wrapped a blanket, (you know one of those flimsy airline blankets) around his head like a turban, and went sound asleep.  My sons and I marveled at how he could mange it.  As after all of this, we were wide awake, not to mention starving.  For about two hours, while my husband slept (even snored) my sons and I sat, (they did get to charge the iPod's) we caught up on all of our news, with CNN blaring, it was easy!

Eventually we decided we would go and explore the airport.  We had races up and down the long halls.  We laughed hysterically.  My sons seemed to be surprised I was letting loose and having fun. (I didn't realize they viewed me as such a hard ass) A guy passed us, and we asked him if there were any restaurants open--- there was!! 24 hour McDonald's!  We proceeded there, and we all ate, and drank coffee, yes I let them have coffee.

We must have sat in that McDonald's for about two hours.  Then the thunder started, and the lighting started, you could see it cracking off the runways, splitting the building.

We proceeded back to where Dad was sleeping, he was still there, sleeping away.  I made the kids all lay down, just to make me feel better, so I could say we "rested".  The storm really got going then, the building was shaking, the lights flickered.  I was sure our flight would be canceled.

Thankfully it was not, but we had a delay, and 3 gate changes, but we got on that flight for O'Hare.

We did feel traumatized, but we got through it.  They say common conflict brings people together, this was true in our case.

I learned never to hang on so tight to dumb things, like shampoo, or you miss your flight.  Besides, I bought some when I got there. 

When we got to our Aunt's house, we hit the pool right away.  Stayed there the entire two weeks too.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Day 7: Making family time is important to me. How do you balance your children, relationship, and work life? (Guest Post by Ricki Lake)

Oh Ricki, you annoy the hell outta me.
I never liked your show, I feel Jerry Springer is actually Grammy worthy compared to how yours was.

Why do I detect snark in your voice, Ricki as I read your guest prompt? Your condescending tone, puts me off.

How great, family time is important to you Ricki, I'm guessing you do not have any teenagers yet?

Well quite honestly Ricki, I do also find family time important.

Yet, I also find making time for myself important.  I have lived for the past 16 years making everything we do about the kids, pretty much.  Family time was all the time.  There was no real balancing getting done.  I have been a stay at home mom for the last 16 years.  The balancing part was maybe trying to get some me time so I could use the bathroom.

Then I made the somewhat crazy decision to home school two of my kids that took at least three years off my life. 

I have not been living "balanced" until this past fall, when all of my three sons went off to school.  Wow, this has opened an whole new world for me.

I have three sons, ages 16, 14, and soon to be 10.  Let me just interject this:
Now before you go thinking I am a a mean mean "Mommy Dearest" I beg of you to consider, have you ever spent an extended period of time with a 14 year old boy?  One that has a puppy who needs to be taken outside every hour, and the said 14 year old boy wants to argue about it?  One that has been recently telling "untruths" about whether or not he has Math and Science homework?  One who's life mission it is to only play Modern Warfare 3?
No seriously my 14 year old is not out of control, he's going through puberty.  And, yes, it is making our family time, a variable hell on earth.

We are hoping that he will come together hormonally soon and we can get back to having important family time with no incessant arguing.  Or where I may actually want to come out from hiding in my bedroom and possibly have a conversation with no yelling involved, or where I don't have to ground anybody.

Yes I love them all, but some days loving them seems to be difficult rather than easy like when they were 4.  Where all of the world's ills could be cured by nap time. 

As far as how I balance my relationship, my husband has a business he runs from home, he can be found pretty much at all times in the shop in our garage.  Sometimes it becomes unbalanced say when he wants me to drop what I am doing and make him a sandwich. Not that I am against making sandwiches, but he seems to want them at the most inopportune times.

My job balance, I don't have a job, yet, I do have a big job.  Thankfully that job no longer includes trying to school educate two teenagers.  I have thought somewhat, about going and getting a job, now that everybody goes to school.  I have come yet to no conclusions about doing that.  There is after all, always another load of laundry to be done, another window to be washed, another few abandoned socks to fish out of the couch, and another hockey practice to drive a kid to.  I'm thinking that is job enough.  And the business phone keeps ringing off the hook, so for now I'm sticking with the only job I have.

How's that for you Ricki?  I can't wait to read some new  prompts by you when your kids are teenagers.  

Making family time is important to me. How do you balance your children, relationship, and work life? (Guest post by Ricki Lake)

I find Ricki's statement, "Making family time is important to me.", obnoxious. For the past two hours I have been attempting to put my finger on the exact reason why I think this statement is so ridiculous.
Could it be due to the fact that it states the inherently obvious? Just why does Ms. Lake feel it necessary to point out to us all that Yes! her family is important to her? Am I the only one who thinks her need to make such a declaration actually cheapens the sentiment she was attempting to convey? I feel Ricki is implying she is better than me, after all family time is important to her. It comes across as though she is suggesting family time must not be universally important to all of us. Her statement is annoyingly exclusionary, does she assume to have cornered the market on family importance? I suppose the rest of us are just callous losers who don't make family time important?
Am I crazy, or just cranky this morning?
Of course family is important to me as well, Ricki. For the record, I am defending myself only because you called me out.
As to how I balance my children, relationship, and work life? Well, that is a no-brainer. For starters I don't work so cross one off my list of things to "balance". I also don't dance with any stars, video tape myself giving birth in my bath tub, or interview multiple candidates in an attempt to find the real baby daddy. I simply stay home with my kids. I think you would find this, in and of itself, provides ample opportunity for family time. We do it all, every single day. From reading books to coloring, baking, taking walks, helping with homework, board games, crafts and even a few Disney movies. My husband is always incorporated into that mix. When he is not at work that is, one of us does have to pay the bills after all. However; when he is home I am as well. It really is as simple as that.
So, there you have it, balance. And it really wasn't that hard to achieve.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Share your latest book recommendation. Is the book always better than the movie? Any exceptions?

My latest book recommendation. Hmmm. Nothing immediately springs to mind. I have read my fair share of books recently, just none that I would passionately recommend. In fact I have been sorely disappointed by a great many books in the past few months. So, I am going to give you a few to avoid.
First of all, stay far, far away from the Maze Runner series. That is unless you happen to really like one dimensional characters. Of course a character doesn't need a personality if he is just going to be gruesomely murdered by the next page. Anyone who wants to read about molten balls of metal that drip from the ceiling and sever the heads of teenage boys should pick this book up. All others, steer clear.
I also recommend you stay away from The Night Circus. I had such high hopes for this book but I couldn't even finish it. Which is saying a lot. I usually will finish any book, no matter how bad, simply because I have to see what happens. (Case in point; I actually read all of House Rules by Jodi Piccoult.) The Night Circus suffered from serious lack of character development. Authors take note: If I don't care about the players in the story then I won't care about the story, no matter how finely crafted.
Do not bother with The Elegance of the Hedgehog. Maybe if I was French I would have understood the narrator's sense of humor. Since I am not, this book went over my head. Only one of the nine women in my book club finished this book, the rest of us gave up around page 40.
I was on pins and needles for The Hangman's Daughter. I thought, even as I read the first several chapters, that surely this was a book that would deliver. I had been promised intrigue and mystery, maybe even a little magic. All I was given was people dying left and right and an implausible treasure hunt subplot. Blah.
Stay away from Ted Dekker's newest collaboration, Forbidden. In fact stay away from anything he puts out from now on. Ted, Ted, Ted, I am shaking my head. You have sacrificed quality for quantity my friend and it is glaringly obvious. More is not always better!
I could recommend Undaunted Courage to you, if you need a paper weight. I only picked it up out of obligation as it was another book club pick. I didn't even fight my way out of the first chapter. I do love history but I need a compelling story to accompany it. If you like plain, dry facts this is the book for you.
The Raven's Gift was a very good book, until I got to the end and realized that not a single one of my 2300 questions had been answered. Enough said.
I think the last really good book I read was Harry Potter. Either I have read a lot of junk since then or HP's brilliance has ruined me for any other story. Quite possible.
And speaking of Harry Potter, yes, a book is ALWAYS better than the movie. There is simply no comparison. A book will take you places a movie cannot. A book takes its time, slowly unravels, gives you one morsel at a time and lets you savor it. A book introduces you to characters you will come to care about and think of as friends. A book reveals your new friends' innermost thoughts and feelings, it explains their actions and puts you behind the scenes with them. A book will immerse you in the story, allow you experience it from every angle.
Of course the movie can be good, it can even be great, but it is still another person's version of the story I had come to think of as belonging solely to me.
I am sure there are exceptions out there, but I have yet to come across a movie I truly like better than the book. According to my sister, The Lord of the Rings is better in film than paperback. I am going to take her word for it. I am somewhat ashamed to admit that I haven't taken the time to read Tolkein, but I sure did love those movies.

Day 6: Share your latest book recommendation & Is the book always better than the movie? Any exceptions?

My latest book recommendation is The Marriage Plot By Jeffery Eugenides.  I waited in great anticipation for this book to be released. 
I had about a year ago, read Mr. Eugenides book Middlesex which I completely loved.  The depth of the characters in Middlesex was truly amazing.  I can't say enough nice things, or recommend a book  more than Middlesex.

The Marriage plot I liked very much.  I felt it gave a very accurate portrait of what it must be like to love someone, lost in mental illness. Wanting so bad for them to be just normal, yet, not meeting up to that, not being to love the person better.

The three main characters in this book are Madeline, Leonard, and  Mitchell.  It's a love triangle, with mental illness mixed in. 

I felt again, that this book had tremendously well developed characters, and had depth.  Mr. Eugenides is a terrific writer.  I just wish he would write a little faster, as 8 years between books is a long time. 

The Marriage Plot is a good read.  I recommend it.  It is a divergence from the normal everyday "fluffy" books.  I'm sick of fluff.  I vow never to read another Nicholas Sparks book as long as I live.

Now to the burning question of the day...

Is the book always better than the movie?

I'm a book snob, I will never deny that.  I have trouble seeing the movie of a book I have loved.  Somehow I feel it crushes my imagination of how I pictured things in the book actually being. For example the Harry Potter books I adored, I loved  Hogwarts, and the moving staircases, every single thing about those books I love.
The movies however I felt made the books feel a bit less, like the book was easy to condense into a 2 hour movie, meant to entertain.  It disappointed me.

Yes in my honest humble opinion, the book is always better than the movie.

Yet, the second part to today's burning question is this...

Any Exceptions...? 

Ok I will admit, sometimes there are a few exceptions.  But I most always try to read the book first.

The Epic Lord of the Rings in my opinion.  I found the books really a tough slog through.  Maybe I was not smart enough, but I found them pretty tough to follow.  Tedious reading for me anyhow.
But the movies were a joy to see (with the exception of The Two Towers, which lets face it, were pretty dark and depressing-- I simply did not like The Two Towers, be it either the book or the movie).
Seeing the movies, was easy compared to reading these books.  Keep in mind, for me the movies were better.  I am not trying to upset the loyal Tolkien followers.  Don't hate me for saying it. 

Another book made into a movie that I liked the movie more that was out recently is the movie The Help.  I liked very much the book The Help.  I thought it was great.
I saw the movie, and (again my opinion) I loved the movie more than the book, it gave much more life to the book.  The movie seemed to communicate some feeling, or essence that the book did not fully get across to the reader.
I can't wait to buy the DVD.  And I rarely buy the DVD.

I would also say the book and movie, The Secret Life of Bees, I loved that movie better than the book as well.  For some of the same reasons I stated about The Help. 

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Day 5: Make a list of the things you want to do before the end of the year.

Make a list of the things you want to do before the end of the year:

1. Get through Christmas feeling no guilt or pain.  I do have a happy family, I really do. Honestly, some folks we are better off not spending time with. We are simply enough. I need to stop being so hard on myself about this.  It is ok, that some people are missing from my life.  That is simply the way it is, and we are all ok,  probably better for leaving the toxic people behind. 

2. I want to determine to enjoy the season, not stress out about it.  Not feel anxiety when my sons say, to me, I want this __________ ($100 dollar item, times 5 times 3 kids, nope, sorry guys, not likely)!! I want to say, that's not what Christmas is for.  Enjoy Christmas for what it is, not for getting, gimmie, grab.  I need to realize and show, that life is not about the STUFF. 

3. I want to make a list out of every thing I want to cook over the holidays, I want to not have that wild panic, worrying about what to make, and if I have the right ingredients on hand. I need to get organized well ahead of the game.

4. Read more.

5. Make up with my treadmill.  He is quite angry with me, as I have made him into something he is not, a coat hanger and a rest of the hockey bags.  I promise to make it up to you dear Mr. Treadmill. I need you in my life.

6. Blog more. As I realize writing is great fun.

7. Have a Christmas party, and games night.  I need to welcome being social, for me that is a challenge. I tend towards being downright anti-social. 

8. Unclutter my downstairs storage room. And throw out old junk. 

9. Give some of my time (and money) to help somebody who needs some help, I'm looking for an opportunity.

10. Be thankful all the time, for the ones I have, and the ones I love.  I don't always remember to be thankful for this.

Make a list of the things you want to do before the end of the year.

Ahhhhhh, lists, I do love to make lists. I make lists of everything, I have even been known to make lists of lists I need to make. Yes, I am that geek.
There is never a blank to-do list for me, but this time of year brings its own veritable cornucopia of tasks to accomplish. This season though, I want to relax and enjoy myself instead of depleting my patience, sanity & bank account. This year I want to simplify and relish the little things. So here is what I want to do before the end of the year:
#1. Take my kids sledding. We are going to have snow for the next 6 months (or more), may as well make peace with it. At least it isn't rain. I can actually take my kids out to play in the white stuff. Rain, not so much.
#2. Cut down our Christmas tree in the wilderness. We have always wanted to do this and since our only other option is to pick up a tree from Kenny's gas station I think we'll go with the woods this year. Hopefully we won't become one of those families you hear about on the news. You know, the kind that end up burning their tires in order to stay warm and are rescued after surviving for six days on nothing but two chocolate bars and a box of raisins?
#3. See the Nutcracker ballet. Given where I live this probably won't happen in reality. It is a happy, little dream I nurture though. Hopefully, someday, maybe I will be able to attend.
#4. See Twilight: Breaking Dawn part 1. Yep, I am also that geek. This one I know for sure I will be able to accomplish as the owner of our cinema is totally Team Edward.
#5. Complete all my shopping without having to step foot in any store. Of course this is what I want to do. Chances that it actually happens????
#6. Read every Christmas story book we own. I think I like this tradition even more than my girls do.
#7. Watch all the classic Christmas movies on television. Thank goodness for the DVR. I plan on recording Charlie Brown Christmas, The Grinch (not Jim Carrey's version), Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman and Frosty Returns.
#8. Make a gingerbread house. Last year we went through three of them. We ate the first one right out of the box. The second one would not stay together so we ate it too, gingerbread is very tasty! The third one ( from Costco, the only one worth buying) actually stayed intact. Of course the decorations seemed to all disappear over time. How odd.
#9. Come up with a great Christmas present for my husband. It is hard to surprise the guy, after all he is in charge of the checkbook and balances it religiously. It is also hard to buy the guy a gift when everything he wants requires some kind of bank loan. New truck? Quad? Absolutely! I'll just run right down and pick one up.
#10. Come up with a fantastic present for my nephews. According to my sister I don't need to feel obligated to get them anything. I don't feel obligated at all, this is something I really WANT to do. The problem is, what do you get for teenage boys? Which leads me to the next item on my list......
#11. Learn to knit. Do you think six weeks is enough time to become a proficient knitter? I just know that those boys would adore a scratchy, ill-fitting, hand-knit with love in every stitch, sweater from their auntie. Don't you think?
#12. Rock out to nothing but Christmas music. This way come December 26th I won't be sad to see it go.
#13. Make gingerbread waffles. After the gingerbread house debacle I discovered we all really like gingerbread. The waffles are a more cost effective way of enjoying it.
#14. Attend the community Christmas carol sing-along at the Presbyterian church. I loved it last year when my 6 year old sang "Hark the Herald Angles Sing" at the top of her lungs. Afterward one of the little old ladies came up to tell her what a lovely voice she had. She had been sitting three pews up and was wearing hearing aids, I guess they must work well.
#15. Be present.
There you have it, all the important stuff I want to squeeze into the next eight weeks. Good thing the question was what do you want to do. If it had said what do you have to do, we would have been here all day!

Friday, November 4, 2011

When you are writing, do you prefer to use a pen or a computer?

If I used a pen to write, I wouldn't be blogging right now. Instead, I'd be massaging Aspercreme into my wrists before strapping them into braces in an attempt to ease the symptoms of the carpal tunnel syndrome I would inevitably be suffering from.
Thank you, Bill Gates, as my PC has saved my wrists from certain demise.
Yes, necessity dictates that I use a computer, but that doesn't mean I have to like it. I really would much rather use a pen.
My favorite pen is a Uniball gel ink with a 0.5mm tip. Blue, I am not a fan of black ink. I do like a good pen, in fact I get quite possessive of my good pens. I don't even want to relinquish them to my husband. The Uniball's sophistication would be wasted on a guy who thinks the pen he picked up from the lobby at Quality Inn is a a great find.
According to my sister, hand written items may soon be a thing of the past and she is probably correct. But as long as they keep manufacturing blue pens, I will be happily scratching my to-do lists down on yellow legal pads. Provided they keep making those too.

Day 4: When you are writing, do you prefer to use a pen or a computer?

Computer all the way.

I'm unsure I even know how to write with a pen any longer.   Anything other than my signature or initials that is.
I've gotten so bad, my hand starts to cramp up if I should have to write with a pen for more than a couple of sentences.

Is handwriting going the way of the typewriter?  Something from the past?

The last actual letter I wrote was a heartfelt one to my sister.  I wrote it with my hand.
All I can say is if you get a letter from me written with my now, scrawly, unused  left hand (it's starting to atrophy-- since I hardly ever use those muscles for writing any longer.) It's really something, all I can say is, take a good look, because you may never see any hand written thing from me again. Unless some sort of a computer apocalypse occurs and we are forced to write the old fashioned way.

Other than that I have not actually "written" anything with a pen, (other than my obligatory signature, or to scrawl out a few items for a grocery list) in about six months. 

Kinda pathetic. Will they even teach writing to future generations?  Or will we just have a font of our own handwriting on our computers?  I see they have programs where a person can get their handwriting in a font.  Would that actually make people think I had really written to them? 

Hmm, I wonder.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Can you listen to music and write? What song did you hear today?

I have music playing as I type this. So, the answer to today's burning question must be (drum roll please)............ YES! I can indeed listen to music and write at the very same time! Thrilling news isn't it?
Not to toot my own horn but I can also walk and chew bubble gum at the same time, rub my tummy and pat my head, cook dinner while talking on the phone, clean the kitchen while my kids are in the bath (don't anyone rush to turn me into CPS for that one, they have had two years of swimming lessons so I figure they are good to go), cook breakfast and make lunches in one fluid motion, eat dinner while correcting homework, and rock a toddler to sleep while planning my holiday dinner menu. Yes, I am that talented. Oh, and guess what? I am usually listening to music the WHOLE time! Can you believe it? Alright alright, I confess, when I am rocking the rugrat I am actually the one doing making the music. And my singing does not really qualify as music but the kid seems to enjoy it. Either that or she just falls asleep as a way to end the misery, which works for me.
My point is this: music is an inescapable part of my life. It is always in the background, blended into the tapestry of daily life. It inspires me, gives me motivation when I am sorely lacking, cheers me up when I am down, provides the perfect accompaniment to a romantic evening or a holiday celebration, magically transports me back in time, keeps me awake during long drives, gets me singing at my highest volume when only my kids are listening, tricks me into thinking I have mad dance skills, gives my littlest one an opportunity to shake her bum, gives my husband an excuse to do his best George Jones impression, continually puts a smile on my face, and, according to my sister, gives voice to our emotions.
Today I am listening to Christmas music because I can. The Christmas music season is short, may as well start early. I heard Eartha Kitt's "Santa Baby" and I gave it a thumbs down. I gave "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" and "Frosty the Snowman" a thumbs down too. "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" also got axed. It is my Pandora station after all and I am not going to waste my short window of opportunity on songs that grate on my nerves. Instead I gave Kelly Clarkson's "Oh Holy Night", "Carol of the Bells" by BarlowGirl and Frank Sinatra's "I'll be Home for Christmas" all a great, big thumbs up.
I think that sufficiently answers the question. The better question would be; when is Switchfoot going to put out a Christmas album?
And by the way, I just 86'd "Jingle Bell Rock".

Day 3: Can You Listen to Music and Write? What Song Did you Hear Today?

Yes, I can listen to music and write. I listen to music and write regularly.

My disclaimer for today's prompt is this prompt seems a bit weak to me. I'm unsure how much I can elaborate on this one. Bear with me. 

I find when I write, I feel suddenly driven to listen to music.  It helps.  get the brain juices flowing.

In recent days, I have been listening to the new Coldplay CD Mylo Xyloto (no I have absolutely no idea how to pronounce that) the song Charlie Brown is my favorite... take a listen...

I'm unsure of the mournful lyrics, I'd think Chris Martin (lead singer of Coldplay) would not have anything mournful to sing about after all isn't he married to Gwyneth Paltrow?  Why the mournful lyrics when you are married to one of the most beautiful women in the world?  No idea.  Maybe it's because they named their daughter Apple and their son Moses.  "Hey Mo! How's Apple?" I digress.

Regardless, it serves to feed my melancholy state of mind that seems to ebb and flow, especially when I look at the laundry pile, or take a gander out my window this day to sloppy dripping snow everywhere.  

I wish I lived in Arizona, the high today in Phoenix is  81 and sunny.  With not a chance of snow.  

For now lets take this out on a happy note, crank up your speakers!  

The Indigo Girls always make me smile.  

Good news too, I'm closer to fine every day.