Monday, December 26, 2011

Being the Crazy Country Cousin at the Family Christmas

I hope my Christian friends have had a Merry Christmas, my Jewish friends are having a wonderful Hannukah, my African-American friends are having a good Kwanzaa...and, lest I forget, Happy Boxing Day!

My family (husband, 2 sons, daughter, dog) and I travelled from Kentucky to Texas to be with his Mother and her husband for the holidays. I needed to rest up a couple of days after our journey because I had to drive the entire 900-odd miles of the trip.

Once Friday hit, preparations began in the kitchen and the rest of the house for the Christmas-day feast. Twenty-three family members were expected. We knew they could all fit comfortably in Grammy's house because she had just thrown a Christmas party for 60-plus people the weekend before. Most of our apartment in Kentucky would fit in her garage.

My in-laws (on my husband's mother's side) are some pretty amazing folks. She is active in several historic societies (think DAR); her husband did two tours in Viet Nam, and lost both legs and an arm there, and came back to earn two PhD degrees, retiring only recently from the DAV. One of her sisters recently purchased a house for herself so she can be separate from her husband when he drinks too much. The other sister will not medicate for her schizophrenia, because she believes the doctors are trying to poison her. Despite this, she has managed to maintain working for the same company her entire adult life. Their children and grand-children have achieved similar worldly success.

And then there is me and my family. We chose to move from Texas (where I was working for the City of Fort Worth) to Kentucky. We chose to homeschool our children. I chose to work outside the scope of my degree (B.S. in finance, magna cum laude) because I realized it was not where my heart was. None of this makes sense to most of my in-laws.

The most fulfilling job I ever had was working with adults who have mental retardation and developmental disabilities. Success there is measured in the smallest of increments, and are things that most of us do without a thought, but these simple lessons can open worlds for people. Unfortunately, I was injured twice in 2010, while intervening when a client was attempting to hurt herself or others. I can no longer lift people the way I used to, and after surgery on my knee, have difficulty negotiating stairs. Most of the time, I don't dwell on what I've lost; but in the last few days, in the face of so much commercial's been a little harder than usual.

How do I move forward? I recommit myself to my core beliefs and philosophies. I review and reconfigure my goals as necessary. Then I give myself a little shove to get myself moving.

My core beliefs and philosophies: faith in God, commitment to family, using my talents and abilities to help people help themselves, nourishing my body and soul in a healthy manner. Your beliefs may look similar or not...and that's ok.

My goals revolve around: increased spiritual study, continuing to homeschool my children through the high school years, using my writer's voice to highlight causes near and dear to me, eating and exercising in a way to lessen my hereditary health risks, and feeding my soul with artistic endeavors. Your goals may look similar or not ... and that's ok.

Getting going? Uh, sorry, this one is pretty much the end, we all make a choice to get moving or stay still.

So what gets you going? Or keeps you going? And why? I'd love to hear your story!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Blog Dare - A Favorite Holiday Recipe

a mom blog community

The prompt for today is "a favorite holiday recipe". Every year growing up, we made a variety of cookie recipes, usually the same ones every year, although the decorated sugar cookies made when we were young children were eventually phased out. We made Russian tea cookies, "vanilla" and chocolate sour cream cookies, and the recipe I'm going to share here today, "Lebkuchen".
Lebkuchen have to be made several days to weeks ahead and mellowed, because about 5 minutes out of the oven and those little suckers will break teeth! This is not the recipe my mother used, which was in a Betty Crocker cookbook she received for her wedding to my father in 1957, but it comes close. It is from


  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup diced candied citron
  • 1/3 cup chopped hazelnuts
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar


  1. In a medium saucepan, stir together the honey and molasses. Bring the mixture to a boil, remove from heat and stir in the brown sugar, egg, lemon juice and lemon zest. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, allspice and nutmeg. Add the molasses mixture to the dry ingredients and mix well. Stir in the citron and hazelnuts. Cover dough and chill overnight.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets. Using a small amount of dough at a time, roll out on a lightly floured surface to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into small rectangles and place them 1 inch apart onto the prepared cookie sheet.
  3. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven, until no imprint remains when touched lightly. Brush the icing over the cookies while they are still hot and quickly remove them to wire cooling racks. Store in airtight container with a cup of orange or apple for a few days to mellow.
  4. To make the icing: Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan. Heat to between 234 and 240 degrees F (112 to 116 degrees C), or until a small amount of syrup dropped into cold water forms a soft ball that flattens when removed from the water and placed on a flat surface. Remove from heat and stir in the confectioners' sugar. If icing becomes sugary while brushing cookies, re-heat slightly- adding a little water until crystals dissolve.

While you are waiting for the cookies to mellow, you can use the link at the top of the page to find more great recipes from other members of the Blog Dare group at Bloggy Moms!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Liebster Blog Award

A great big Thank you!!! to Smarty Pants Fun Printables for awarding me the Liebster Blog. I feel priveleged. Smarty Pants has all kinds of great paper crafts for kids on her site. As a crafty, type mom who homeschools, I really appreciate resources such has her site. My favorite is the Fall Harvest Pumpkin craft. Check it out!

An award like this is meant to be passed on. Here's how it works.

In case you are not aware, this award spotlights the up and coming blogs that have less than 200 followers.
By accepting this award, I get to:

1. Copy and paste the award on my blog. Copy and paste this post as your new post to announce you have won, but edit to fit you.

2. Thank the giver and link back to the blogger who gave it to me. (the link is at the top)

3. Reveal my top 5 picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.

4. Hope that followers will spread the love to other bloggers.

Here are some notable mom blogs that you really should check out::

The language on this blog is not for the easily offended. There is even a gateway into the blog giving you the opportunity to opt out, should you choose to do so. But I appreciate her candor and her forthrightness.

This blogger is mother of a blended family with ten children. Wow. I have trouble with my three, so I have to find out how Crystal does it!

For the terminally domestically challenged like me, this blog is a godsend. I might actually be able to have people over someday!

I found this blog through a hop and at first did not know if the post was serious or not. It took me a while, but I finally got it. :O)

The title says it all. It doesn't matter what your family situation is, you can make it matter.

Let's keep the blog love going, ok? Take care of yourselves out there.

Back to It

NaNoWriMo is down (11:15 am eastern US) but I have 2,210 words today for a total of 12,903 words. Even though I took the day off yesterday, and did no NaNo writing at all, I'm still at 1843 words per day each of the 7 days so far, so above the average needed to complete 50K words during the month.

NaBloPoMo 2011

NaBloPoMo prompt:

Monday, November 7, 2011
Making family time is important to me. How do you balance your children, relationship, and work life?

My boys were actually one of the bigger problems presented when I started this month of concentrated writing. They love to come up and tell me things about what they are learning (we homeschool) or want me to "come look Mom" at something they found on the computer or in a book. I've had to put my foot down a little that when I'm "doing my writing" that I get time to concentrate, but that I will be happy to "check it out" later. And I do make time each day to spend time with each of my 3 kids. DD (age 8) still comes out in the morning and wants to cuddle for a few minutes in Mommie's lap...and I let her, because, much longer is THAT going to last?

DH and I have been together for about 15.5 years now, married for almost as long. We met online in an RPG back in the mid-90's. We can probably count the number of "dates" we've had on the the fingers of two hands. This is a little sad and something that I would like to change. But it has worked for us so far. Why? We communicate and accept each other as we are. Sometimes it's the flip side of that coin and probably no one else would put up with some of our foibles for as long as the other one has. We're not the perfect couple, but we're not bad either. I think maybe a difference is that we are committed to each other and to our 3 children, and believe marriage is not a magic happy pill.

I want to say at this point that I have read some heart-breaking blogs from single moms of late where I believe it was a good thing that the marriage did not survive, whether the biological fathers of their children slinked off to avoid paying child support or whatever the problem was. And I know there are some women who can be just as bad. Argh, I'm beginning to stumble over my words, trying not to piss anyone off. So I'm just going to stop.

Hurrah! Something positive on which to focus!

I am grateful for our pets today. We have a dog named Sneakers and a kitten named Whiskers. Sneakers came to us as a puppy from someone giving her and her siblings away in the WalMart parking lot. Our daughter had the job of naming the dog and came up with "Sneakers", after the dog I had growing up (who actually looked more like she had sneakers on...four little white feet on a black and brown body). This Sneakers is a lab, chow etc mix and looks like that little puppy that does the toilet paper commercials.

When we come home from a trip or errands, we always make a joke about who is going to open the door, because Sneakers can just about known down an adult with the exuberance of her greetings. She is obedient and does not leave the yard unless one of us do on foot. She always lets us know when someone is at the door.

The most endearing quality, though, is that when one of us is sick or otherwise "down", she will come and lay on the couch, bed, or floor and put her head on some part of the body and just about not moral support.

Whiskers is our newest addition. She and the dog get along amazing well, considering.... She has turned into a good mouser, which, on the outskirts of small-town Kentucky is a good thing. I just wish she would not leave her prizes in the middle of my bed. Ugh. I usually have to get DH or DS1 to take the thing outside, because touching one gives me the willies.

Whiskers purrs at the slightest touch and brings out the tender side of my sons, who are normally teenage boys in thought, word and deed. And that is golden.

I love blog hops. What can I say? :O) Here is one I found after a google search on "monday blog hops" a little while ago. It is my first visit to Meet Me Monday and there are 28 entries so far. For those who don't know me (which is probably pretty much everyone on that hop, I'd imagine)...

I am an invisible woman, wife, homeschooling mother of 3, erstwhile assistant to adults with mental retardation/developmental disabilities, writer, 2011 NaNoWriMo/NaBloPoMo/Gratitude Challenge participant, and proud Kentuckian.

Oh, and my coffee cup is empty. I'm gonna go fill it up and I'll "cy'all tomorrow". Take care.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Day Off

NaNoWriMo - day off

NaBloPoMo - well, call it cheap, but this is my post for today.

2011 Gratitude Challenge -

I am grateful for my brother today. Since I moved away from Salt Lake City in June of 1997 with my husband and (then only one) child, he has had the lion's share of care for our aging mother. He had put his life on hold, postponing finishing his master's degree in music at the University of Utah in order to at first care for her at home, and later, manage her affairs when she required more intensive medical intervention. Our mother passed away in March of this year, and he handled everything connected with her death and will sell the house within the next year, 95 percent of this on his own. I know it has been a wear on him. I wish we could have been closer so I could have taken some of the weight from him.

But my in-laws have medical issues of their own where we live now. My husband's Mamaw is a year older now than my mother was when she passed. Mamaw still lives at home, but needs a lot of in-home care. FIL (my father-in-law) now in his 60's has a host of medical issues related to a life of hard work.

I am a most fortunate woman.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Slow Saturday

NaBloPoMo 2011



I wrote 2,269 words today, about being transferred to Home 6 and some of the ladies who lived there. My NaNoWriMo total stands at 10,693 words.


Today's prompt:

Oopahdoo, I forgot they don't give prompts on NaBloPoMo on the weekends.

2011 Gratitude Project:

I am grateful that God built us in day of rest. I planned out my NaNoWriMo so I could take Sundays off and still be done on time. Now I just hope I can do it...take a day off. Not my best thing.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Friday Fun

NaBloPoMo 2011


NaNoWriMo: added 2,162 words today for a total of 8,424. Today the writing seemed to go with the differences between management's talk and walk. Kind of an Orwellian, "some people are more equal than others". Ugh. Had to remind my well-meaning 14 yr old son that while I am writing, I would prefer not to have interruptions talking about cross-over fan fiction (between a tv show and one of his computer games). I told him he could, however, interrupt me for emergencies and hugs.


Today's prompt:

Friday, November 4, 2011 When you are writing, do you prefer to use a pen or a computer?

OMG, I have to use a computer. My mind races two or three ideas ahead of the pen sending out words onto the paper, so much so that oftentimes a word from one idea will somehow be mashed into the word from another idea, making up a whole new, utterly unrecognizable word. (I wonder if that's how Shakespeare introduced like 10,000 new words to the English language.)

I guess some of it has to do with the purpose of the writing. If I am writing a letter, I much prefer pen and paper, especially if that paper is self-decorated and possibly even self-made.

2011 Gratitude Challenge:

I had thought of something really good earlier this morning when I was outside with our dog, Sneakers. But when it came time to write about it, it had flown the coop. So I went outside to try and remember it by retracing my steps. That idea is still in hiding, but another one came out.
I am grateful that we have food to eat, and rarely if ever (unless by choice) go hungry. I know not everyone, not even in our own community is that lucky.
If there is a food bank in your area, please consider making a donation of food or money, or boxes or plastic bags...or your time. Especially in this upcoming season when we celebrate and give thanks for bountiful harvests
We have all received help from someone at some time. Maybe we were able to "pay them back". Maybe we can show our gratitude by "paying it forward".
Feeding America has a great food bank locator. If you are one of my US sisters or brothers, please take a look and find one near you.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Wild Weekend Wanderings

NaBloPoMo 2011

The Epic Adventures of a Modern Mom


NaNoWriMo: 2,174 words today, for a total of 6,262 words. My goal total for the 3rd was to be at 6,000 words so everything there is cooking just right. It was a little harder to get going today, but my 8 yr old DD has been sick since Saturday with a cold and is just having a miserable mama doesn't get much sleep, capisci?


Well, I'm taking care of that one right now. Except I'm trying to follow their blog prompts, so need to take a minute and go check that out.

Thursday, November 3, 2011
Can you listen to music and write? What song did you hear today?

OK, there it is. Oh, heck yes, I can listen to music and write at the same time. I listen mostly to country music (stop groaning, city sisters and brothers). But my laptop is in what could be grandiosely called our dining area, which spills over into the living room, where the tv is usually on Science, Military, or Nick Jr channels, so music per se does not really enter into is a lot. My music time is usually when I'm driving alone in a vehicle. Then I crank it up, unless I'm at a stop sign or in a neighborhood. Then I turn it down a little bit. But there is a song stuck in my head from a commercial right now...I know it's been on the radio, but the name just isn't coming to me, but I remembered another snippet of the tune just now, so maybe it will come to me eventually.

2011 Gratitude Challenge - Day 3:
I am grateful to my mother and father for having me and honor the struggles they went through raising a family. It's not a job for wimps, that's for sure. Dad was agnostic, but went to church with us on Christmas and Easter, and when my brother or I played the piano. Mom was raised Christian Scientist and followed that Christian denomination until she passed away at the end of March of this year. Towards the end of her life, she stopped going to church, though, and for the most part, no one from the church contacted her. That always made me a little sad. I did not know my mother's father had been an alcoholic until maybe ten years ago. I wish I had, because that would have made some of her actions more understandable. And we might have been able to talk about it. Parents, please don't be afraid to be human.

My father passed away in 1979, when he was 47 and I was 17. I was in a play in high school at the time called "Lazarus Laughed". And I was very nearly stabbed for real by a Roman soldier character on stage. So that was a difficult time. Dad was the oldest of four siblings, children of a farmer turned railroad man and the first of his family to graduate college. I remember attending the ceremony at WVU where his doctoral degree was conferred.

They worked...hard...their whole lives to make sure my brother and I had every opportunity. Although we frequently disagreed on what those opportunities should be, I know without a doubt that they meant the best.

Finding New Friends Blog Hop:
I've been doing blog hops for a while and this is my 2nd FNF submission. They are great for building followers and comments on your blog if you are new to the blogosphere and help to keep anyone's blog reading fresh, because there are always new folks hopping along. By and large, I have found a very supportive community and it is (they are?) GREAT!

Blog Hop Till You Drop:
Another great group of bloggers. Check out a couple of the never know where the next great idea is going to come from, right?

Peace out, y'all! :O)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A Lot of Ground to Cover

NaBloPoMo 2011

Give a Hoot Wednesday Blog Hop

If anyone can jog my memory on how to get the buttons side by side (I know a little html) i/o one on a line, that would be SO GREAT! :O)

So, day 2 of NaNoWriMo is in the bag. I wrote 2032 words today, bringing my total to 4088 (or 4098, I can't remember which right now). Today it was mostly character descriptions of the 8 adult males with MR/DD with whom I worked during 2006. Don't worry, names are being changed to protect the innocent.

The NaBloPoMo prompt for today is:

Wednesday, November 2, 2011
If you knew that whatever you ate next would be your last meal, what would you want it to be?

Wow...that is tough. The powers that be might have to move my date back, because there's going to be a LOT on the menu! *lol* One of my favorite foods is a gyro. And those are not complete without a baklava or two. There's a meat that I picked up quite often when I was an au pair in Switzerland 20 years ago from my mother's home canton, called Bundnerfleish, that would have to be at least part of the appetizer. That, and raclette cheese melted over potatoes. Add a big salad with garbanzos, bacon bits, water chestnuts and honey mustard dressing. A Coke Zero and/or a white chocolate peppermint mocha w/an extra shot or two (what would I care...if it is my last drink, eh?) of espresso. Dessert would have to include cheesecake (possibly turtle cheesecake) and pumpkin pie, along with a ridiculously large bowl of my own flavor creation, cinillamint mocha ice cream (cinnamon, vanilla, mint candy chips, coffee and chocolate).

I know, after all that, I would probably just wish that would be my last meal, but what a way to go.

I follow "Life According to Damaris" and saw on her blog a link for the Give a Hoot Wednesday Blog Hop, so this post is serving for that as well.

And the last thing I am covering today is the 2011 Gratitude Challenge, where participants agree to post one thing per day in November for which they are grateful. I know, I'm a day behind, but I found the challenge through someone who joined late, so I figured I could too.

November 1: I am grateful for my relationship with God. I'm not a 'thumper' by any means, but too much has happened in my life and I have gotten through it, to not mention Him here.

November 2: I am grateful for my family. Even though it is difficult sometimes, with various medical prolems and developmental issues, I would not trade my family for ANYTHING.

'Nuff said.

Thanks for reading and I invite you to leave a comment (and to follow me on GFC if you're feeling really adventurous. I'm 6 followers from 100 and would love to bust that barrier somethin' FIERCE!)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

NaNoWriMo Kick-off

Well, it's here. NaNoWriMo month. For anyone who may have the same look on their face as folks in my family, that stands for National Novel Writing Month. The premise is to write 50,000 words of a novel, all during the month of November. Apparently, I found the site about 4 years ago, but this is the first time I am actually participating.
Given my penchant for getting on Facebook and whiling my computer time away there, I made a deal with myself to write on my novel, tentatively titled "Requiem for the Hated", first thing in the morning. I have written 2,056 words, or about 4% of the total. I am choosing to give myself the option to not write on Sundays, so my per day goal of 2000 words is slightly higher than the 1,666 words needed to write 50K words in 30 days.
It went faster than I thought today. But I suppose part of that is because it's the first day and I was especially eager to get writing. That and all of my ideas are in front of me. I think the challenge will come in the later days when there is less than 10,000 words to go, my ideas are mostly used up and the self-editing is in full swing.
I'm writing a fictionalized account of my work with adults who have mental retardation and/or developmental disabilities. For the initial draft, I'm using the real names, simply so I don't have to come up with covers for everybody and slow down the mad rush to 50K words. So there probably won't be a lot of novel excerpts in the blog...until I come up with covers.
Finally, NaNoWriMo supports a writing course for young people. I'd love to help them out, but am currently supporting a husband and 3 children, so I'm helping by spreading the word. Did you know that:

So, if you are financially able, please consider supporting my writing by visiting my sponsorship page. If that is not possible, if you could see your way through to tweeting or posting for your followers on Facebook, etc, I would be very grateful!

And, if you would like to participate, there is certainly still time! Just visit and get going. And add me as a writing buddy (I'm KentuckyGal on the site).

Monday, October 10, 2011

It's Been a Couple of Weeks

You may notice it's been a couple of weeks since my last blog post. Let me explain.

I used to work at a local residential/teaching facility for adults with MR/DD (mental retardation and developmental disabilities). It was at once the most fulfilling and most frustrating jobs I have ever had. Would I go back to it, after two separate OTJ attack injuries in 2010 and a year and a half of Workmens' Comp? In a heartbeat. Will I? Not until the administration changes ... RADICALLY.

When I started there, I learned during training that I would be going to one of the "rougher" homes. The residents were mostly higher-functioning men. We took a "crisis management" course and learned methods to, if possible, de-escalate situations before they became physical. They worked about 50 pct of the time. Anyway, I made my peace with the fact at some point I would get injured on the job ... and that somehow made it easier, less scary.

From the beginning there was one resident, Shawn, whom it seemed nobody wanted to be assigned. Truth be told, I felt a little sorry for him. Then I found out why staff felt the way they did. Five times in the next six months I filled out IA1 paperwork for an on-the-job injury, caused by Shawn. (The space of a whole blog may not be enough to contain his whole story, let alone a single post, so suffice it to say that there were things in his history that made some of his less endearing behavior, although not excusable for an adult capable of independent thought, at least partially explainable. Shawn was far from the stereotypical "defenseless" adult with mental retardation...ask the folks at the local Walmart eye center.)

I thought that many of the "professional" staff enabled him terribly, treating him as a textbook case, rather than an individual. Once, a behavior analyst told me to give being Shawn's staff over to co-worker, and pulled me outside to try and explain why Shawn did what he did, that he wasn't able to do recognize boundaries, etc etc etc. I related to her that Shawn had told me once that he ran the house and everyone there had to do what he said. "And," I added to the analyst and psychiatrist who was standing nearby, "he was right!"

A week or so later, I found a letter behind my timecard that indicated "for the good of the residents I was being transferred to another home". Bullcookies.

In the middle of a huge wave to transfer residents into group homes, Shawn was sent to a small rural community with two other high-functioning male residents. The first time I heard that I could barely believe it. Every man they mentioned seemed to make a practice out of being "the biggest and baddest". I didn't figure it would end well.

Well, it ended one night in May. Shawn was rushed to the hospital where he was pronounced dead. A staff person said he found one of the other residents on top of Shawn, choking him. This man was arrested and charged with murder, but later released as the police found new evidence. Autopsy results showed that he died from internal abdominal bleeding, which lead police to believe that the staffperson was not being honest, and they wound up charging him with homicide and gross negligence. He is currently out on bail.

I was not there that night, so I cannot say, with certainty, what happened. I want to believe that this staff person (for whom there has been a groundswell of community support) would not be stupid enough to go past stopping Shawn's violent behavior to the point of killing him. And, while admitting that there are cases of abuse that happen in this setting, I know that the system is set up with so many rules that home staff cannot help but cross some of them, and so are deemed by management to be the "guilty ones" in cases where a resident is injured.

Here is what I do know. I did not like Shawn. After getting over my outrage at the reason why I was transferred to a different home, I came to see that it was a blessing, in part because I would no longer have daily interaction with Shawn. Would I, even now, stand between Shawn and someone else to (try and?) prevent harm from either person to the other, even if it meant getting injured myself? Yes.

Did Shawn deserve to die like he did?


Saturday, September 24, 2011

52 Home Organization Projects - Week One

For my first project, I chose the area around my computer desk. I don't really have access to a camera to post picture, but I'm somewhat hesitant to post pics anyway ... because y'all might find out that I've snuck into this class and really should be in the class for the domesically inept.

On Friday, 9/23, I cleared off the top part of the desk. Well almost. There is a flat-screen monitor left over from when I had a desktop computer. The computer itself is friend, but the screen is still good...and we really have no othe place to put this and the other bits and pieces of equipment from various computers we've had over the years. Oh wait, DH has a's called the front porch. *sigh* But that's on my list too, so eventually it will all work out. Empty to partially-full cans of soda, a cup or two, an empty cup-o-ramen (my kids seem to think this is a drop off point for stuff that really should go to the kitchen, but they want to get back to whatever game system they're on before one of their siblings usurps them). There was a plastic wrapper and the little plastic tie-thingie that comes off a loaf of bread. So the monitor is still there, as is the little bread-tie. And I think I'm breathing a little easier now that most of the crap is gone.

The only thing now is that since the clutter is virtually gone, I can see the sorry state of the desk. It is one of those DIY desk kits from WalMart and the black finish on the top of the desk is wearing off, specially where my mouse arm rests. The strip covering the particle board on the sides has been long since stripped off. I've got to come up with a plan as to how to make the desk look better. I will at least come up with a plan for that this week and either complete it, or schedule it in for later.

One thing...this is a post-in-progress and will receive several updates before it is actually "done".

Friday, September 23, 2011

Taking the Pledge - Day Four

This marks my fifth day of "The Mom Pledge:

Also my first week of participation in:


I invite anyone reading to join me in either of both groups, accessible by handy dandy links and/or buttons. :O)


I am a born care-taker, as evidenced by advocating for my children when they were in public school. Also the best 'outside of the home' job I ever had was assisting adults with mental retardation and/or developmental disabilities learn/improve ADL's (activities of daily living) and social skills that most of us take for granted.

Like so many people, I find it easier to stand up for the people about whom I care, rather than for myself...but I'm working on that one!

When my oldest son, now 14 was in public school, both he and his parents came up against bullying of one sort or another. DS1 had been suggested as having either ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) or possibly Asperger's Syndrome. He spent most of his day in the 'regular' classroom, but some time in a smaller room with only 3-4 other children for certain subjects. In the main classroom, his teachers normally separated his desk from the other children and sometimes had dividers up ... to cut down on things that might distract him. That, coupled with his seeming inability to recognize the amount of personal space needed by other children, often made him a target for teasing or bullying.

The straw that broke the camel's back for us was in the week before the last week of school, four of his 8-year-old classmates surrounded him on a piece of playground equipment and pulled his pants down, showing...everything. He pulled his pants back up. These boys did the same thing two more times before there was any intervention. There were 3 teachers on the playground, who said none of them saw anything was wrong....but 3 classrooms of children apparently did.

Our son was removed from the classroom. The other boys (all of whom later admitted their actions) were not. We parents were not notified until several hours later, after the school had conducted an "investigation". Justifiably enraged, my husband went to school to collect our son and talk with the principal...who was "suddenly called away", and he spoke with the vice-principal.

The school was engaged in state-mandated testing that week, and so the other boys were not suspended, or even given detention of any sort. The school wanted the money and pats on the back from the government for having a greater percentage of their students taking the tests.

As relatively little action was taken by the school for what was, in my mind, a sexually-oriented assault on our son, we went to the FWISD (Fort Worth Indepndent School District), who apparently contacted the school ... because the next day, the principal was "available" to meet. I was working days at the time, so DH handled the meeting for us. When he entered the principal's office, she apparently said something to the effect of, "How dare you go over my head to the district." The nerve! Things went downhill from there. I remember saying to my husband when he called me at work that we had better watch ourselves, because I felt the school would take retaliatory action.

The next week, as President of the school's PTA, myself, my husband and our daughter (about 2 at the time) went to assist with the school's "Field Day", passing out popcorn and drinks to the students. We were there for hours and all had a good time, boys included (the son in this story and DS2, who was in 1st grade at the time).

About an hour after we got home from the school, there was a knock on the door. Who do you think it was? The (not-so) friendly CPS (Child Protective Services) agent, wanting to come into our apartment because she had received a report that DS1 had "exposed himself" on the playground. We gave her the facts, including our belief that the report was retaliatory on the part of the school, which she wrote down, in the middle of trying to threaten us to be allowed into the apartment. (As we had been investigating homeschooling for some time, and had talked on several occasions to the HSLDA (Home School Legal Defense Association - by the way, that organization ROCKS!), we knew that we were within our rights to deny her entrance. Not even the police could enter our home without just cause and/or a warrant.

We had actually been on our way out the door, but she refused to leave until she had spoken to each of the boys individually and without our presence. Well, DS1 was savvy enough even at that young age to understand the ramifications of what this woman's presence meant, and we had to peel him off my leg as he had sat down on the floor and wrapped himself around me. He did not want to talk to the woman, a sentiment which he came up with on his own. DH came up with a workable solution, that DS1 and the CPS agent would sit at the top of the stairs and we would be by the car, but our son would still be able to see us.

That summer we moved to Kentucky. How the CPS agent found my husband's grandmother's phone number I'll never know, but she called Mamaw, lied and said she was a friend of ours and wheedled our phone number out of the woman. But nothing ever came of it, because we were not in the wrong in that situation. It still burns the you-know-what out of me, though, and this has been six years ago.

So, I know a little about the effects of bullying and I will not stand for it.

Online, or cyber-bullying can be just as awful. While I have not (that I can remember) been a target yet, I have seen it go on and have seen what it can do to people. The news headlines have elaborated on how cyber-bullying can even be deadly.

So, if someone comes into my online "house" intent on being a troll, I will ask them, nicely, to leave. If they will not, I offer them some friendly and honestly well-meaning advice direcly from the Boy Scout motto ... be prepared.

52 Home Organization Projects

I've been reading Laura's "I'm an Organizing Junkie" blog for a while now, in part because my own organizing desires are lightyears ahead of my organizing skills. Ugh. A link from her post today lead me to this umbrella project:

So, without further ado, here is my list:

1. my computer desk
2. DH's computer table
3. couch area in living room
4. outer wall in living room
5. inner wall in living room
6. refrigerator
7. over the counter kitchen cabinets
8. under the counter kitchen cabinets
9. kitchen table
10. laundry area
11. linen closet
12. medicine cabinets
13. sink area in bathroom
14. shower area in bathroom
15. hallway
16. closet in boys' room
17. bed area in boys' room
18. couch area in boys' room
19. media area in boys' room
20. bed area in girl's room
21. dresser in girl's room
22. media area in girl's room
23. closet in my bedroom
24. bed area in my bedroom
25. media area in my bedroom
26. back porch
27. front porch
28. menu plans
29. family budget
30. childrens' budgets
31. chore charts
32. review/revamp homeschooling plans
33. extended family birthday (etc) calender
34. family volunteer projects
35. individual volunteer projects
36. time schedule for my business
37. time schedule for my blogging
38. time schedule for my Facebook addiction.
39. recording family history
40. me time
41. garden plan for 2012
42. pest-proofing the home
43. quality time with DH.
44. quality time with DS1.
45. quality time with DS2.
46. quality time with DD.
47. learn a new skill
48. community project
49. family recycling plan.
50. family vacation plan.
51. community activism plan.
52. kitchen counters.

I reserve the right to modify the above list as necessary. :O)

This is also my entry for this weeks Friendly Friday Blog Hop:

Go and visit some of the other bloggers and share your info!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

CountDown to the BIG 50!

On October 2nd of this year (that's 10 days away folks) I will turn 50 years old. When I was young, I had trouble wrapping my mind around the fact that I would be 39 in the year 2000. Remember how "Y2K" was such a big event before New Year's Day and, dangitall, the earth didn't grind to a halt? Back then 39 seemed awfully old. (Like Radar in M*A*S*H said once, "I'll be in my 30's...THAT'S ALMOST DEAD!" *rofl*

I'm also entering this post in the following blog hop:

Isn't that a great graphic? The thought that popped into my head was that I haven't been that skinny since puberty hit. Anyway there are other great posts on the hop so go check it out

And easy division to make would be to cover 10 years in a post...and I'm all over easy these days. So, here goes:

I was born in Monaca, PA, USA, which if I remember correctly is about 30 miles north of Pittsburgh, in 1961. The only thing I remember about that place is visiting there with my family at some point before I turned 10. It seemed to be one of those teeny-weenie towns that you miss if you blink. Before my first birthday, my family moved to Cumberland, MD, where we lived until January 1972.

There are still a few scattered memories from those years. I remember sitting on the couch at some point before my 2nd birthday, my father kneeling in front of the couch with his forearms resting on the couch and my brother (then 2-3 yo) riding piggy-back. I suppose I remember that because there is a picture in the family photo album. I have kind of inherited that role of family memory-keeper as both my parents have passed on and it's just not a priority to my brother. I also remember my 2nd birthday party, because I got on of those pull-along phones where the eyes roll up and down as you walk. There's a picture of that too, with me holding the receiver out to my mother because it was for her.

Other memories, in random order, because I'm just trying to get them down for now (organization comes later), so I can free up brain power to remember other things ... like where I put my keys, last week, and my kids names ... stuff like that:

Being paired up with the neighbor boy (in a kind of "ooh, aren't they cute together" sort of way that moms have (and that seems totally reasonable to

Losing control of my tricycle going down the hill by our house and crashing into the neighbor's yard at the end of the block.

Being hustled downstairs in the middle of the night with my brother, by our father, and hearing our mother upstairs screaming in pain. She went to the hospital that night. She never would talk about it later, except for to say that the doctors had deemed surgery necessary for her survival one weekend, and no surgery because "it was gone" early the next.

I remember being invited by a family friend to go swimming at their country club (not that we were well off by any means, but that's not the point. Walking up to the ramp to the clubhouse, there was a sign by the door, "No Catholics allowed." Even then, if I had known what "WTF" meant I probably would have thought it. I wouldn't dare saying it out loud, because no sooner had those words left my lips but I would be over my mother's knee.

Not all the memories were bad, though, and this list is FAR from exhaustive.

When my 5th grade teacher, Miss Shaner, found out that we were moving, she had each of my classmates write a story about my soon-to-pass adventures in the "wild west". (My father's company transferred him from MD to UT.) One story that sticks out had me saving my older brother from disaster at the bottom of the Grand Canyon! Ahhh, I was a super kid!

My mother was born in Switzerland, and met my father at the University of West Virginia in Morgantown, where she was a nanny for a local prominent family. In the summer of 1971 we were fortunate enough to travel to see her homeland, with a stopover in England to visit her brother and family, who were living there at the time.

My mother and I were outside Buckingham Palace one morning watching the Changing of the Guards. There was a large crowd and it was difficult to negotiate the sea of people and meet up with my dad and brother at our next destination. Mom said I just took her hand and followed a "bunch of hippies" that were passing through easily. That memory makes me smile.

My brother and I participated in the "Erste August" (1st of August) lampion (paper lantern) parade in Bern, Switzerland's capital. At the end of the parade, each child got a gingery cake-let with a picture of a bear on it. We were sitting at an outside cafe afterwards, when the father in the family friends with whom we were staying came up with a 2nd cake for my brother and me. He told the folks he had two children visiting from the US and he didn't think we had gotten our cakes yet.

On that visit to Switzerland, I discovered my taste for "Vivi-Cola" and "OvoSport". OvoSport is kind of like pressed bars of ovaltine...that's the best I can describe it anyway. Another memory from that time (which literally just popped back into the foreground of my mind after how many years gone) was in a cafe in a mountain village, my brother ordered a Coke float and the waitress, nor indeed any of the staff, and any clue as to what he was talking about. So he explained you put ice cream and Coke together in a glass. So they brought out a mug of Coke and a small dish of ice cream. If that village had had a newspaper I'm sure it would have made front-page news when my brother scandalized the locals by placing the ice cream in the soda!

We went to Washington DC on vacation at one point. There is a picture of my brother and me, standing in front of some building with dark glasses on. I call that our "FBI Agents" picture. We visited the Smithsonian where he was all about planes, trains and automobiles and I was all about the Hope Diamond, the First Ladies' inaugural dresses and Dorothy's Ruby Slippers.

All of a sudden, 10 years seems an awful lot of ground to cover in one blog post. But dates are a little fuzzy without memory prompts and goodness knows I don't want anyone's coffee spilling on their keyboard because they have fallen asleep on me! *lol*

Years 11-20 will probably show up tomorrow or the day after. I'm currently working on another blog series about "The Mom Pledge"...just in case you are interested, it starts here. I'm also going to link those posts together, which is something new for me. Heck, writing four blog posts in a month is something I haven't done in my life isn't over yet!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Taking the Pledge - Day Three

Found the Marbles

This marks day 3 of my adoption of "The Mom Pledge" and my first experience with The Thoughtful Thursday Blog Hop. And providence dropped a secondary topic of "should restaurants be allowed to accept food stamps" in my lap when I came across this post on the BlogHer site.

From the Mom Pledge

"I believe a healthy dialogue on important issues is a good thing. I will welcome differing opinions when offered in a respectful, non-judgmental manner. And will treat those who do so in kind."

I so liked the comment I left on that blog that I was just going to copy and paste, only to find out that the blog's comments are moderated and it disappeared once I hit "send". (Can you hear me groaning now?)

The writer of that blog - "Headmistress, zookeeper" as she is known in the comments - has very strong opinions on most subjects. Many of the people commenting did, too. These are not the kind of people with whom I tend to hang out. But in general, I do not judge people for their opinions, even when I disagree. The debate there was at once lively, interesting, and at times a little distressing. But I am better-informed for having gone and read the post and comments.

Hunger is an important issue. If you have experience real hunger (as opposed to hunger from dieting) ... you know it sucks. Well, hunger from dieting isn't much better, but at least you have a positive outcome (better health) waiting at the end of that tunnel. But using SNAP benefits (food stamps) at restaurants? Even as someone whose family current receives SNAP (another story for another day), I cannot see how in the vast majority of cases this would provide real benefit to anyone other than the restaurant industry. I'm sure times are tough for restaurateurs too, but SNAP is intended to ensure low-income individuals and families have enough food to ... survive.

Please...let me know what you think, whether or not you agree with my opinion. Let's work ... together ... to figure this out and our world (or our little corner of it) a better place.