Monday, December 14, 2009

Fish Ramblings

The Princess woke me up this morning to inform me that the Tyrant had fed the fish. A lot. Apparently he pulled the piano bench over to the tank and dumped half a jar of flakes in there. The fish have since gone crazy gorging themselves, and I expect the requests for Pepto will soon come in. This could be a good thing, who knows, since the big Jack Dempsey has been eating the little fish lately. Maybe they'll be safe for a day if he took part in the feast, though he normally eats different food made for the cichlids. We should have guessed by his name that this fish would be aggressive towards our little guppies, but the Man has said he would rather keep the big fish than the little ones anyway, so I guess we're letting natural selection take over the tank.
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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Drama Queens

What in the world is up with kids today?!

Ok, so really, every generation says this about the next one, and sadly, they're all right. Each generation does seem to get collectively more obnoxious on some level. When it comes to my daughter's generation, I have a theory. I'm no child psychologist, but I think reality TV is warping these kids.
The Princess was telling me tonight about how she and her girlfriends are having this misunderstanding right now, and how it all played out. They were all at a friend's house after school, and two of the girls were whispering about something. My daughter joked to the other girl (whose house they were at) that the other two were talking about her. She meant it to be funny, but the girl ran to her mother, told her that these two were talking about her, whereupon the mother let loose with both guns on the other three girls, saying that they didn't need to be there if they didn't like her daughter. The Princess also filled me in on the mother's use of several curse words during this and earlier conversations.
Needless to say I think the kid overreacted, and in turn the mother overreacted, leaving my daughter shaking her head and wondering what in the world was wrong with both of them. We all have our moments, but I think we're doing a fairly good job of raising our kids to be level-headed about these kinds of things. I talked to the Princess about the whole situation, including how this child's insecurities may have led to her reaction, and that it's important to pray for everyone involved. I don't know where the friendship may or may not go after this, and hopefully I can talk to the mother at some point and sort this out.
But back to my original point, about reality TV..... I have no real scientific basis for this, but if you watch much of how people act on 'reality' TV, it's all DRAMA DRAMA DRAMA and it makes me think that it's making our youth think that this is how normal people behave. The Princess is always telling me about this situation or that situation, yadda yadda, or these students who are headed for the guidance counselor's office at school to work out one disagreement or another. Seriously? Did anyone my age do this in elementary school? It's so bad at age 10 that you need a mediator? I don't think I even once met our school guidance counselor in elementary school or was even aware of his/her existence.
All I can think is that these kids are watching shows like Big Brother or Wife Swap where the producers are looking for the most mentally unbalanced or extreme people they can find to put them in outrageous situations that would never happen otherwise. So kids are watching this and thinking that this it's normal to interact with people this way, where every little thing is a big deal and must be over-analyzed and over-reacted to.
All I know is that my daughter is completely baffled by her friends' behavior, and I don't let her watch those shows. So that is my unscientific, completely unproven theory on what is wrong with kids today. Take it as you will.
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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Marriage

I haven't talked about this for a long time on the blog, so here goes.... marriage is hard work. Here endeth the lesson. Ok, so really, it's hard to talk about, but the Man and I have had a rough year or two. No divorce talk or anything that awful, but just having a hard time of it. I know people sometimes call that 'going through a rough patch,' but I really hate that expression. It implies that the circumstances are outside of us, when in reality most of us create our own issues within our marriages. I have bad habits, the Man has bad habits, we don't deal with our stuff in healthy ways, we take things out on each other.... all that normal marriage stuff that you let fester when you are busy raising kids and having lives that involve jobs and pets and gym memberships.
We had come to a point a year ago last summer that we knew we had to make some major changes, which is how we finally came to the decision to leave our old church. A year into life at the new church, we have somehow found ourselves still in an unhappy place in our married life. I'm not looking to air our dirty laundry (an overused expression that I do happen to like), but I think it's important to talk about how we're handling it.
We made an appointment with one of our pastors and met with him tonight for about 90 minutes. Hands down, this is the smartest thing that I think any couple can do when they are struggling. Pastor Cam was incredibly helpful & insightful, and gave us both a lot to think about. One of the issues we deal with is the spiritual leadership of our family. With the work schedule that the Man keeps, he is not at home for huge amounts of time, and when he is, he's exhausted and just wants to relax. I get that, and most of the time it didn't bother me. But with the onset of my season of depression last year, the burden of being a single mom 95% of the time became too much for me to carry any longer. I didn't handle that in a healthy way, and the Man in turn did not respond to me in a healthy way. I have all of the home responsibilities & chores, child rearing, homework, sports, music lessons, church activities, dealing with an ADHD child & all of the school services & meetings that go with that, doctors appointments, birthday parties...... the list is absolutely endless, and yet somehow I am also supposed to find time in there to be a helpmate & lover to my husband and a spiritual leader to our children. *SYSTEM OVERLOAD*
I want the Man to be the spiritual leader of our family. The Man wants to be the spiritual leader of our family. But neither of us have ever really thought of constructive ways to make that happen. Cam suggested that a mentor could show the Man how to do this, and asked if he had ever had one. The answer is no; he has a great relationship with my dad, but he really needs someone who isn't family to fill this need. Cam said he would be glad to help the Man find the right person for this, and I really felt a weight beginning to lift from me. I never wanted to be the nagging fishwife, but I didn't know how to motivate the Man to do what he needed to do. What a relief to realize that I don't have to, and that's not my job!
I am not Super Woman. I am not interested in being Super Woman. Unfortunately one of my major character defects is that I don't ask for help when I need it. My sponsor and I have addressed this in the past, and I've gotten a lot better at it. But it's a struggle for me. I dislike being codependent on any level, and I'm on my own here most of the time anyway, so why bother? It's hard not to sink into that crummy attitude, especially when you're depressed already. I'm on my third medication and I'm heading back to the doctor to switch yet again, as this one isn't working very well now.
The point is that I'm not giving up. I'm continuing to try, asking my doctor for help, asking our pastor for help, expressing my needs to my husband. I HATE doing these things but I do them because I have to. I don't have a choice, it's either ask for help, or continue to let my life crumble until I pick up a drink again. I'm not going to flush eight years of hard work down the drain, so I choose to fight for myself and for my marriage.
Kate told me that when I feel like I can't go on, God will go on for me, and that God will fight for my marriage. That has been a huge comfort to me, knowing that He has my back. I love and adore my husband, but marriage isn't easy, especially with a recipe like ours. I can't imagine how people live without the knowledge that He is on their side, and I'm glad that I don't have to.
I get an email every day from dictionary.com with a word of the day. Today's word was intrepid, and it means fearless, bold, brave, undaunted, courageous..... I may not feel like that lately, but my God will be those things for me until I do.
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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Did I mention that I'm not a morning person?

I have a feeling that this morning is one of those times that I will be able to laugh about later, but am too annoyed to find the humor just yet. I woke up to the sound of the Tyrant banging the toilet seat closed repeatedly. Not sure why, but when I got up to check on him, he grinned at me, and said, 'GOOD MORNING MOMMAY!' He was wearing nothing but a diaper, don't know where he left his PJs. I then proceeded to the living room, following him as he reported to me on the dog's activities. Apparently he wanted to use the dog biscuit container as a garage for all of his 412 matchbox cars, so he dumped the biscuits on the rug. There weren't too many left, so I would imagine that my 19 pound beagle had quite a full belly. If I wasn't sure of this, it was confirmed by the Great Dane sized poo that she left in my office and the guilty look on her face. I'm so ready to go back to bed.

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Monday, November 23, 2009

Operation Christmas Child















My church is a regional collection center for shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child. If you've never been involved with this before, make sure you do it next year! It's such a great ministry. Thousands of boxes came through our church during the past week, and they are all being shipped to Charlotte to be checked before going overseas. I don't know the final numbers, but over 7,000 boxes came through our doors this week! So many kids will be blessed with a box full of toys, candy, school supplies and the love of Jesus - what a great way to say Merry Christmas.
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Saturday, November 7, 2009

Overheard

Some things heard 'round here lately...

'Mommy I'm cold! My hands, my belly and my back belly are all cold!' (Tyrant, age 3)
'I had 2 testes today and I got A's on both of them!' (the Boy, age 7)


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Oh and one more thing





















I forgot to mention this too, haha, that I got this when my sister was visiting this summer. We like to do things together for our birthdays instead of buying gifts, since our birthdays are close together. So this year we decided to both go get our third tattoos. It's the Man's initials on my right shoulder. Next Up: Full sleeves, ahahaha! I kid I kid, but if I had the money, and didn't get super queasy during tattooing, I would totally have a big arm piece. In the meantime, I'm trying to talk the Man into getting some ink for Christmas...

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Out of the Blue
















It just occurred to me that I never mentioned that I have changed my hair color.... I think it suits me.... what do you think?

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Friday, September 18, 2009

Recovery Walks!


Last weekend I was blessed to participate in Recovery Walks!, which honors organizations providing prevention, treatment and recovery support services; shows support for individuals in need of treatment and their families, and celebrates those in recovery.

I walked with a group from Livengrin, and there were so many other groups represented, such as Addictions Victorious, NET, and Libertae.
I could not have been more proud to walk with my sponsor, and the atmosphere was just incredible. The joy of long term recovery; it's hard to understand it if you don't live it, but it's amazing. I loved walking with all of these other men and women who are either in recovery, or have a loved one that they support in recovery. It felt like one big family reunion.

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Friday, September 11, 2009

Witnessing for Jesus

Above the doorway of a local church there is a lovely little sign that says, 'PREPARE TO MEET THY GOD.' I'm no PR expert, but is that really the best way to attract people? It just sounds like you are ABOUT TO DIE when you walk through their doors. I don't have the gift of evangelism, but I do try to talk to others about my faith. I know it's intimidating to a lot of people, as we worry too much about what others think, and not enough about what God thinks. But at the same time, I have seen one too many an over-zealous Christian push people away with their version of the Gospel. I don't know about you, but I didn't come to know Jesus because someone made me take their tract, or because I opened the door to someone who knocked on my door, or because a man with a sandwich board on the corner informed me that the end was near. I just think that we make these assumptions about how to witness to others, and we forget how we first came to God in the first place.
So in my most loving, Christian-church-lady voice, I must say, 'LIGHTEN UP PEOPLE!' Most of us got to know Jesus through a family member or friend, and we were open to hearing about Him because we ourselves were already searching. So don't be afraid to talk about Jesus. He rocks! He loves you more than pancakes, as I always tell the Boy, and all He asks is that you tell other people about Him. Sounds like a sweet deal to me.

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Remembering Mary Jo

You know, I'm not one to usually speak ill of the dead. I find it tacky. But what I find even more tacky right now is the disgusting flood of love and squishyness coming from the media in regards to the late Teddy Kennedy. President Obama and many others have spoken fondly of Kennedy's passion for his beliefs, his speaking presence, his accomplishments..... Yet I can only find myself thinking of the trail of destruction he left behind him after a life of clearly doing whatever he dang well pleased. He was a womanizer, a boozer, an adulterer, a cheat, a liar and a murderer. His numerous affairs led his heart-broken wife to alcoholism, for which he mocked her. I'm sorry that I can't get on board with eulogizing someone who was a hideous human being and should have been in jail a long time ago.
John Lofton over at American View wrote a piece several years ago when the Senator was on a Senate Judiciary Committee, and I think it speaks volumes about what the man's true accomplishments were in his lifetime.
In the meantime, my heart goes out to the family of Mary Jo Kopechne, whoever they may be. Her parents have both passed in recent years, and she had no siblings. I hope that they know that there are many of us who still care about the death of a Boiler Room Girl, and hope that she rests in peace.
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Monday, August 10, 2009

In The Gutter

I ran into a friend on Facebook recently that I hadn't talked to in the last few years. We exchanged all the usual pleasantries, and it was nice to reconnect with him. A bit later my phone rang, and it was him. He said that he felt he had to confess that even though he had said he was fine, he was not, and that he was just coming back to the rooms. After almost 13 years of sobriety, he had gotten injured and addicted to pain medication. He was just home from rehab. I love and respect this man, and it broke my heart to hear this. I hurt for him, but I'm so glad that he has found his way back, and is going to meetings daily. He said that his downfall was self pride, plain and simple. It's very easy to get confident in our own abilities, and think that we have this thing all wrapped up. The truth is that we never 'have it' and never will. 'It' has us, and when we start thinking otherwise, we are on very dangerous ground. The first step was admitting that we were powerless. We don't have that power, only God does, and until and unless we give up this fight to Him, we will never stay sober.

"Pride is the basic breeder of most human difficulties, the chief block to true progress.
Pride lures us into making demands upon ourselves or upon others which cannot be met without perverting or misusing our God-given instincts."
- As Bill Sees It, p. 12

I read this article today about a drunk found laying in a gutter, clutching a bottle. Know the difference between him and I? Nothing. There is nothing special about me that keeps me sober. I've done the work, sure, worked my steps and gone to meetings and talked to other alcoholics. But I am only able to do this by the grace of God, and without Him, I'd be laying in the gutter next to that man. But for the grace of God go I.

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Sunday, July 12, 2009

Of Mice And Men

The Man took the big kids and went camping at an amusement park this weekend with his family. I decided this was the perfect opportunity to clean the shed, which is a place that I never usually enter. And by place I mean dungeon. And by dungeon I mean a shingled box in my yard into which random tools and equipment are thrown to be scampered upon by hordes of poo-dropping mice. It was clear upon close inspection that the Boy gets his cleaning & organizational skills from his father, because things were just piled wherever there was a spot for them, and in the case of the workbench and shelves, was then surrounded by poo. I spent the first hour just vacuuming the poo. I wish I were kidding.
After several hours & trash bags & taunting from the neighbor I got it all cleaned out and things put away & hung up. I'm very pleased with myself and hopefully the Man will be too. And if he is underwhelmed by my sweaty efforts, I can at least be satisfied that I have protected my husband from mouse E. Coli.

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Friday, June 26, 2009

Gone Too Soon

Unless you live under a rock, by now you know that Michael Jackson died yesterday. I was utterly stunned by this news, and quite honestly, a bit heartbroken. As I've written before, I have always found him fascinating. I don't know how you sum up the life of someone so complicated, so talented and yet somehow so broken. I know that he will certainly be remembered for his incredible musical accomplishments, as much as he will be remembered for his strange behavior and white children. Many will only remember the accusations against him. I'm glad that I didn't have to sit on his jury, because I could never say for sure if I could believe that this oddly pale man-child could ever do such terrible things.
Andrew Sullivan had some things to say about Michael Jackson's death that I found touching. I pray that his kids are well taken care of, and that they are able to find peace in their lives that their daddy clearly never could.
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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Cyanoacrylates are our friends

We had a particularly exciting time at the campground this past weekend. The Tyrant took a header into a stone step and split his chin open. The poor little guy screamed and gushed blood all over. The volume of blood told us he would need stitches, even before we could see the gash clearly. We left the big kids with friends and headed up to the closest emergency room. I was dreading spending several hours in a waiting room, but to our amazement, we were in and out in an hour. The doctor was able to use glue and steri strips to close his chin, and we were very thankful to avoid the trauma of stitches. The Princess had to get stitches above her eye as a toddler, and I never wanted to repeat that hysteria.
We stopped at a store to get children's ibuprofen, thinking that he might have a hard time sleeping with the pain. He whimpered a bit but seemed ok when he went to sleep.
Apparently he had a great night's sleep, and got up with the birds. I'm not sure exactly how early he was awake, but campground security knocked on our door & returned him to us at 7:30am. It was a proud moment for sure, when I admitted that we hadn't even known that he was gone, since we had all still been asleep. We have no clue how he got out of the camper without us hearing him, since the door is right near our bed. He was found near the camp store, which is ironically where he had fallen the night before. (Maybe he was looking for the ice cream he missed out on??) The dog was also loose, no idea where she may have been during this, but thankfully she was running circles around the security man when I opened the door.
The main thing I learned from this weekend, outside of the need to tie bells to my child and explain to him the reasons why he must wear a helmet 24 hours a day, is this: when your child splits his chin open, and the doctor clears the blood away so she can close the gash, do not, under any circumstances, look closely to see the damage, because it will look like ground beef and you will want to chuck, which you cannot do because said child is on your lap having his face super glued back together. Here endeth the lesson.

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Friday, June 12, 2009

Ignorance

I had a conversation yesterday that I'm still festering about, so maybe blogging will clear my head of it. You know how afterwards, where you kick yourself for what you said or didn't say, and how you should have said this or that, and you just continue to have the back & forth in your head. Of course I always come out looking good and triumphant at the end of these.
I was at the school, waiting for the kids to come out. I was standing with a group of other moms doing likewise, and one of them, whom I have seen before but don't know at all, was complaining about the stupidity of her neighbors. She then went on to talk about the residents of the recovery house near her. I won't recount the whole thing, but she had some pretty derogatory things to say. Now granted, I know that those who are fresh out of rehab are not always the most agreeable sort, nor are they schooled in the finer rules of etiquette and manners. I could understand her being upset about some of their inappropriate behavior. That said, I have a tendancy to get my back up when people make stereotypical statements about people in recovery, which she made plenty of. She then went on to say that she couldn't understand why these people were allowed to live in a neighborhood around children. I raised an eyebrow and asked where they should live then, and told her that there were recovery houses in pretty much every one of our local neighborhoods. She said she didn't know, but that the Don Pablos was empty, and they should just ship them there. (a local restaurant that went out of business & is sitting empty)
I think I nearly bit through my tongue at this point, as I considered my options. I considered informing her that not all of us in recovery appreciate being ranked with pedofiles when it comes to undesireable neighbors. I thought about letting her know that those in early recovery need a lot of patience and compassion. I thought about calling her an ignorant bizzo. I instead said nothing, because I knew I was not capable of being diplomatic at that point, and it would accomplish nothing to tell her off.
After the kids were dismissed and we were walking home, I told myself to let it go and not let it bother me. Had she known that I am in recovery, she would surely not have said those things, or at least I'd like to think that. I know it's idealistic, but I'd love the chance to talk to her again and set her straight. But with only a few days left in the school year, it's unlikely that I'll have the chance.
I carry the green card with me in my purse and I thought of it as I stood there facing that woman. I thought of the one line, "I will not show anyone that my feelings are hurt; they may be hurt, but today I will not show it." I wasn't hurt, just ticked, but I knew it was better to hold my tongue. One of the gifts of my recovery has been the realization that I do not always have to have my say, and I do not always have to be right. The satisfaction of knowing I didn't lose my temper tastes much better than telling her off would have.

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Monday, June 1, 2009

My Anniversary Present

Looky what I got!  I've been wanting the industrial piercing for about a year, and I finally went and did it.  It's my wedding anniversary present from the Man.  12 years went by fast!
IndustrialBW.jpg picture by Shay7474
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Anniversary

I celebrated 8 years of recovery from alcoholism on the 28th of May, hallelujah!  I wish you could have seen the smile on my face when I went to my home group the night before & received my coin.  There is just no other feeling like it; to know that you have succeeded at changing your life, one day at a time, through the grace of God and AA - it is simply amazing, in every sense of the word.
When it was my turn to share I talked about where I had been and where I am now.  How I'm incredibly blessed to have a husband and children and the life that I enjoy.  I shared that I am a first timer, and that I have stayed sober for this many years because, quite simply, I do what I'm told.  I listen to the suggestions and advice of my sponsor and fellow alcoholics.  I take my life one day at a time, I try my best to be humble, I am honest, I admit when I am wrong.... not because I am so awesome, but because I know what happens when I don't live this life the way I'm supposed to.  I did things my way for a long time, and it got me in a lot of trouble.  I don't need to have my way anymore.  Giving up my own will, and submitting to God is what keeps me sober.  I make amends where necessary, pray for those who cause me pain, and keep my mouth shut, which is hard, for anyone who knows me.  I don't always need to be 'right' anymore.
I carry my coin in my pocket every day, as a reminder to me of needing to 'practice these principles in all my affairs'.  I love the coins that my meeting uses. They look like these:
Coin.jpg picture by Shay7474
The history of the coins, if you're nerdy like me and need to know these things, can be found here.
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How to Ensure that Parents of Your Fans Will Hate You

I read recently that Kanye West is anti-reading.  I thought at first that this had to be a joke, because who would be against reading?  But sadly, it's true.  As disturbing as this is, what's even more disturbing is that this genius has now written a book.  Umm... what?  Yes, the anti-book rapper has 'written' a book.  And 'written' gets air-quotes because 1) he doesn't believe in books and 2) he had to have someone co-author a book that consists of random quotes, 'Kanye-isms' and blank pages.
As Jen over at Cake Wrecks said, "After banging my head against the desk and weeping for future generations," I thanked God that my parents did not feel this way.  We were always encouraged to read and to write, and had our own library cards from a young age.  We read mysteries, autobiographies, and poetry, along with the Bible.  Some of my earliest memories are of my mom reading books to us on long car trips, and of my father making up stories to tell us at bedtime.  I am incredibly thrilled and proud that I have passed the reading bug on to the Princess, who plows through books at an amazing rate.  She read the entire Left Behind Kids series in about two weeks.
As Thomas Jefferson said, "I cannot live without books."  As a lifelong reader and an aspiring author, I have the urge to tack Kanye's picture on my dartboard.  The celebrity platform is a gift Mr. West, and you have clearly squandered yours.  Young people looking for good writing by a black author, skip Kanye's 'book' and instead check out someone worth reading, like Howard Thurman or Rosa Parks.


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Saturday, May 23, 2009

Memorial Day

This weekend as we gather at the campground to stuff ourselves with goodies in celebration of the long weekend, I'd like to take a moment to thank all of our armed forces, both active & retired.  I'm collecting some more pictures from my Dad's side of the family, and wanted to share this one of my great-uncle.  His name is Michael, though we have always called him Uncle Mickey.
1-31-2009_007.jpg picture by Shay7474
Mickey landed in Europe eleven days after the invasion of France, while there were still bodies floating in the water.  He was part of a machine gun squad.  He was wounded by artillary fire from an 88, which tossed him in the air ten feet or so.  He feels that his life was saved because he had so many clothes on because of the winter weather.  He lost part of a lung as a result.  After being wounded, he was left in a farmhouse with a German prisoner, which he thought was interesting.
Uncle Mickey is still alive & doing well, and he has our thanks for his brave service.  May God bless & protect all of our troops, and may God bless America.

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Facebook Ads

Some of my favorite Facebook ads....

Ad1.jpg ad 1 picture by Shay7474
for when squeezing the air out of a ziploc bag is just too challenging for you


Ad2.jpg ad 2 picture by Shay7474
I'm a nerd, but this cracked me up and I love that movie.


ad3.jpg picture by Shay7474
wow, that's some targeted advertising.... now I feel almost stalked.....hm


Ad4.jpg picture by Shay7474
I think I've seen this guy near the bus station preaching about the end times


ad5.jpg picture by Shay7474
because when you're searching for a complete stranger to watch your children for several hours, 'fast & easy' is what you want


ad6.jpg picture by Shay7474
naaaahahaha, how awesome is that?!



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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Internet Friends

When the MySpace rage first began, I was resistant at first.  I joined, but really couldn't get into it.  It just seemed a breeding ground for teenage angst and sparkly pink graphics.  But after a while, it began to grow on me, and I was pleasantly surprised when I found some old friends from college there.  Having gone to college 400 miles from home, it had previously seemed unlikely that I'd be able to make very many amends to my college peers.  It felt great to start making those amends with people I hadn't seen in so many years.
Then the Facebook rage began, and I joined that as well.  And slowly but surely, as word got around and it became more popular, I ran into friend after friend, from college, from high school, elementary school and the list goes on.  I was able to find friends I had been  looking for and hoping to reconnect with for years.  Every one that I made amends to was gracious, forgiving, and I could feel a lot of my hurt from those years melting away.  Reunions are being planned and I've seen pictures of what everyone looks like now, what their kids look like. It's funny to see us all as 'grown ups' now.  
As I was pondering this this morning, I thought about all of my internet friends that I have made over the years on various sites.  I have my moms group that I joined when I was expecting the Boy, my recovery friends on different AA sites, and my fellow stay at home moms from a message group that I co-managed for several years.  I have several girlfriends from that last one that I am incredibly close with.  We went through many heartbreaks & triumphs together, and formed bonds that are hard to explain to outsiders.  If you haven't made online friends, it may seem strange to you.  But these women have been a lifeline for me, as I spend a lot of my days with no adult contact.  I've been a stay at home mom for nearly eight years, which is a long time to be 'alone'.  With the hours and schedule that the Man works, I'd have lost my marbles long ago if not for the internet.
My nonbloggingfriend is one of these women.  We have never met in person, but have been close friends for several years.  We joke about getting in our cars and driving to meet each other somewhere in the middle of the 12 hour distance between us, just to finally meet.  When her home was flooded with sewage from a poor drainage system in her town, I wanted to get on a plane immediately.  I hated that I couldn't be there in person to hold her as she dealt with the mess, the sickness from eColi and a township that refused to take any responsibility.
When a former member of our moms group began harrassing me, and sent a letter to my husband with pictures of our children to 'prove' to him that I was a bad mother, my friend wanted to get on a plane as well.  In the darkest days, we have lamented the miles between us, and I have asked God why He gave me a friend that I cannot touch.
But I wonder now at His plan, for He of course knew that she and I would feel this way.  We share a different kind of bond for having never met face to face.  I can only be thankful that I have her in my life, and be satisfied in knowing that if not in this life, then surely in the next, she and I will finally be able to be neighbors.

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Saturday, May 2, 2009

How Great Is Our God

Hello citizens, here I am. I was stewing a bit tonight, trying to think of something to blog about. Honestly, I feel so darn good lately, that I haven't felt like blogging much. I have always used writing as an outlet, and these days I haven't needed one. God has been so good to me, and the medication is finally working, and I feel GOOD. I don't think I even realized how badly I was feeling, until I felt this way again.
I was in the car recently and heard Chris Tomlin's song, How Great Is Our God. I love this song dearly, but it's been hard to listen to since we left our old church. It was a tune that the kids used to sign to and it always moved me so much. Anytime I would hear it since December, I would get teary and ache for what we had given up. I miss all of those dear people so very much, and it's hard to lead a new life without them in it. But as I listened to it last week, I found myself singing along, and smiling and I suddenly realized, that I had joy in my heart. Not just joy, but overwhelming, heart filling JOY. As I drove down the road, I sang my heart out, and cried my eyes out in thankfullness, knowing that my dark night of the soul was over. I made it out the other side. It's time to move forward, and live the amazing life that I already have.



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Saturday, April 4, 2009

Overheard

Things overheard in our house recently....

Mom, does Easter come three days after Happy Friday?
Hunchbuggy!  No hunchbacks!
A cereal killer?  How can he be a cereal killer?  Cereal isn't alive!

May you all have a beautiful & blessed Easter day, as we remember the ultimate sacrifice that Jesus made for us.


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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Writing Prompt: The Morning After

Prompt from Eliza Dashwood....
All sorts of things happen to people when they've had a few too many drinks. Try writing about a character that wakes up to find some strange items in their pockets. Have them retrace the night’s events. What happened and how did these items find their way into your character’s possession?

Locker key, Digital Camera, Match book, A chocolate egg, A cat’s flea collar and I.D. tag


Cordelia Swinson was a refined woman, full of good Southern breeding, a love of English tea, and perfectly pressed suits.  She was a lovely neighbor to have, keeping her home and yard neat and tidy, and cleaning up fastidiously after her teacup poodle.  If ever there was a woman of class and manners, it was Cordelia.  Which is probably why it was ever so stunning when she poured the bucket of cold water on me at 6 o'clock in the morning.  In her defense, it was my own fault, having passed out on her front porch smelling of bourbon and foolishness.  But that did little to lessen the shock of feeling waterboarded into wakefulness.  Opening my eyes, I looked at her with wide and wild eyes, not understanding through my fog what on earth could have brought her to this act.  She smiled down at me ever so sweetly, and cordially invited me to get off her porch swing and go back to the rock that had I crawled out from under.
I obliged as quickly as my stiff and sluggish body would allow me, straightening my suit coat and tie.  As I left the porch with downcast eyes, I stuffed my hands in my pockets, looking for my keys.  To my surprise, not only were they not there, but instead I seemed to have a random collection of items.  Not wanting to pull any of them out to examine them in sight of Mrs. Swinson, I kept walking.  I crossed the dew-damp grass to my house next door, wondering how I was going to get in without my keys.  I tried the door, knowing full well that I had locked it the night before.  I blew out a sigh of frustration, and headed around back to see if I could find a window to pry open.  Charlie barked at me, happy to see his owner, or at least happy to know he would soon be fed.
I felt in my pockets again, hoping the keys would somehow magically appear. I pulled out a cat's flea collar and ID tag.  Odd.  A memory dawned of Mrs. Swinson's cat leaping onto me in the wee hours.  In my efforts to fling the cat off of me in haste, his collar had come off in my hands.  I made a mental note to return the collar later.  Maybe it would be best to just drop it in her mailbox and avoid that awkward conversation.  As I put the collar back in my pocket, I was relieved to feel the coldness of a brass key, and took it out.  I looked at it, and realized that it was not a house key, but a locker key.  What in the world?  A hazy memory of putting quarters into a bus station locker floated in my mind.  Why had I been at the bus station last night?
As I dropped the key back in my pocket, I contemplated the windows on the back of the house. Thinking that surely at least one must be unlocked, I looked around for something to stand on.  Ah yes, a lawn chair was leaning against the shed, that would do.  I unfolded it, and held onto the aluminum arms as I gingerly stepped up.  The flaw in my plan became immediately clear, as my right foot slipped in between the nylon straps of the seat, sending me flying backwards into a heap.  My ungraceful dismount not withstanding, I was still pretty certain I could make the chair work for my purpose.  Dusting myself off, I noticed that a chocolate egg had rolled out of my pocket. It seemed wise to eat something to raise my blood sugar, so I unwrapped the foil.  As I ate the waxiest piece of 'chocolate' that I had ever experienced, I noticed some writing on the inside of the foil.  I spread it out with my fingers and read, 'Mr. Wong's, Open 24 Hours'.  Interesting.
I put the chair back in place, a bit more careful this time to make sure it was on level footing.  Success!  The chair held and I had found an unlocked window on the first try.  I had my first leg through the opening when I noticed Mrs. Swinson in the corner of my eye.  My little wave at her did nothing to remove her puzzled expression, but thankfully she went back to her plant watering.  I shoved myself through the window pretty quickly after that, and landed in my kitchen with about as much grace as my previous fall.  I didn't care at this point though, as I was just grateful to be back in my house.  Charlie was overjoyed to see me, and pledged his undying love as I filled his food dish.  Loosening my tie I threw it on the counter and hit the play button on the answering machine.  As my mother's voice filled my ears I headed for the coffee maker and got it ready.  Coffee would be needed this morning more than ever, as I needed to clear my head and figure out what had happened the night before.  Mom rambled on about all the usual topics; her health, Sunday dinner, my failure to provide grandchildren and Uncle Peter's goiter.  I tuned out most of her rambling as I measured out coffee grounds.  The machine beeped at the end of her message, and a second one began.  
"Mr. Harkmen, this is Candy.  We met at the bar last night?  I forgot my camera and I was wondering if maybe you had picked it up.  Please call me back, my number is....."  I felt in my other pocket, and sure enough, I had a small digital camera.  I set it on the counter and wrote down Candy's number.  Her voice had reminded me that I had gone to Mr. Wong's last night, and sat in the cocktail lounge for a while.  Candy had been waiting for someone who never showed, and she chattered on endlessly to me about school, and photography and trying to 'find herself'.  She was cute, but way too young, and really, she barely took a breath as she gabbled on.  That must have been why I ordered more bourbon, to numb myself to the squeaky sound of her voice.
I poured myself a mug of coffee and sat down at the kitchen table.  I emptied my pockets completely, laying their contents on the table.  The items all seemed to make sense now, with the exception of a book of matches.  Where had they come from?  Probably Mr. Wong's, since Candy was a smoker, and I lit her cigarette for her.  I looked at the cover, surprised to see that it instead read, 'Randy & Julie, March 25th, 2009.'
I was instantly flooded with memories and realization.  I had been invited to Julie's wedding, but hadn't planned to attend.  Who wants to see their ex-girlfriend get married?  But she wanted to stay friends and be grown-ups about it, so surely I could be mature enough to attend.  It wasn't until I saw Julie coming down the aisle in her pure white gown, looking stunning and gloriously happy, that I truly realized what I had lost.  I was still in love with her, and how could I sit there and let her go?  As the ceremony began, I squirmed in my seat, thinking fast.  As the minister came to the point of asking if anyone objected, I was filled with resolve.  This was my moment!  I stood up, and shouted my objection!  I beamed at Julie, waiting for her response.  This was the time when she would realize how wrong we had been to break up.  She would throw down her bouquet and run to me, and we would run back down the aisle, and burst out the double doors into our sunshiney future.
Alas, Julie simply turned red and stared at me.  Randy put his hand over his eyes, shaking his head in disbelief.  The minister coughed nervously.  As every single person in the church turned to stare at me, Julie turned away, looking directly at the minister, making her intent clear.  She really was going to marry him.  Heartbroken and humiliated, I slumped back down in my seat.  As soon as the ceremony was over, I slipped out through the crowd and left.  Unable to face my empty house just yet, I turned onto Beecher Street and headed for Mr. Wong's.  The haze lifting, I remembered all those emotions, and knew I had been drinking away my thoughts of Julie, rather than trying to drown out the bubbly girl at the bar.  Some things would have to remain a mystery however, because I simply could not account for that locker key.  Maybe I had gone to the bus depot to flee the scene?  Make a run for the border?  Who knows.  I'd have to go down there later to see what I may have stashed.  Maybe the wedding gift I had brought, or my sanity perhaps.
I put my head in my hands on the table and sighed.  What an idiot I had been.  The answering machine had continued on, though I had stopped listening.  I sat up straight when I heard Randy's voice.
'Hi John.... it's.... Randy.' Long pause. 'Listen, I just wanted to say that I forgive you for what happened at the church yesterday.  I knew you probably still had feelings for Julie, but I had no idea you still felt so strongly.  Listen man, if I had known, we wouldn't have pushed you to attend.  I mean, I know Mom wanted you there and all, but..... Look, I just called to say that it's ok, and we still love you and we'll see you at Easter dinner.  Bye.'
The sound of my brother's voice was a bit comforting, but I doubted that I would have the courage to face the family at the holiday dinner.  I dread spending the holiday alone, but really, how could I see my sister-in-law again so soon?  I poured myself another cup of coffee, and wondered if Mrs. Swinson had any plans.


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Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change

I'm feeling human these days, not quite great, but not so bad. I don't think this prescription will be my final option, but we shall see.
So a few weeks ago I went on the women's retreat. It was good, bad and interesting. God definitely wanted me there, but it was very difficult for me. I had to deal with a lot of emotional junk that I have been carrying around for a long time, including my issues with abandonment and feeling invisible. I'm new to this church, so I only knew a few people, which made it difficult for me. But in the end, I'm so glad I went, and I made some new friends along the way.
The speaker for the weekend taught on the story of Isaac and Rebekah. The teaching was good, and she also gave her testimony. Her husband had a heart attack eight years ago, and suffered brain damage because of it. He is now like a seven year old child, and she is his caregiver. What strength this woman must daily require from God to get through that.
On Saturday evening I was chatting with one of the ladies that I know from my Bible study. We got on the subject of my grandmother, and I shared about my struggle with being angry at God about her. The unfairness of being widowed so young, raising her children alone, and then being widowed again when she finally got remarried, and ending up alone in a nursing home with Alzheimer’s Disease…. It’s just more than I can stand, and I cry about her fairly often. (though some of that is my depression I’m sure) My friend had some good perspective and was really a comfort to me about it. She pointed out that at least my Gram had those 3 years with my step-grandfather, and that it could have been worse; he could have ended up like the speaker’s husband who is endlessly trapped in the mind of a child. I knew she had a good point.

At the last session on Sunday morning the speaker was talking about how she had been talking to a group of women about God’s will, and how we must be willing to give Him everything. She said she didn’t really know what that was though. The next day, standing by her husband’s hospital bed, she knew: this was her everything. I cried when she said that, and it was like a light bulb went off. If Gram had known where her life would take her, if God had come to her at the beginning and said, “Marcia, will you do this for Me? Will you give me everything?”….. she would have said yes. My Gram loves Jesus, and she would have said yes. This realization gave me a peace after all these years of being angry at God for letting her get sick. My anger at the unfairness began to melt, and is pretty nearly gone. I have acceptance and peace now. I know I will have to work at keeping that, because surely the devil won’t want me to stay that way. But for now, I am at peace about it.


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Monday, March 16, 2009

The Invisible Woman

I know, it's been ages and no blogging. I tend to blog mostly about things that make me laugh or inspire me, and lately, well, things have been kind of rough for me. I did attend the women's retreat with my new church last weekend, and I do have some good stories to share from that. I hope to get to those soon. But for now, I have just been feeling melacholy and down, and struggling with a lot of different emotions. Nothing major has happened or changed, it's just me. Me trying to get out of a funk that seems never-ending, hoping to find my way out of the dark with a little prescription help. So far I'm on my second prescription and I'm still just blah. The first one gave me nightmares, so my doctor switched me to something else. No more nightmares, but it doesn't seem to be bringing me out of it, at least not yet.
I dealt with depression for many years while I was drinking, and this is my first experience with it during sobriety. It's very hard to try to get through it without a crutch, and to face it head-on. I just want to feel like myself again. I know it will get better eventually, I don't doubt that. And I know God is with me.

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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Lucy, you gots some splainin' to do....

We have a new member of the family! Meet Lucy, our 11 week old beagle pup.

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For a long time the Man and I have joked about how he is a dog person and I am not. We had agreed that someday when the kids were older, we would consider a dog, but I was not in any rush to have another 'kid' to take care of. At some point last year I came to the realization that someday would probably be here sooner than I thought, and that I needed to start changing my mindset about dogs. As a kid I liked and even wanted a dog, but at some point I just started disliking everything about them. The smell, the hair, the slobber, the poop that the neighbor's dog left in my yard, and last but not least the incessant annoying barking of dogs left outside early in the morning and late at night. I knew that I would have to get over all of this at some point if I wanted to give my husband this desire of his heart. So I started praying and asking God to change my heart towards dogs.
Well, God has a sense of humor as we all know, because not only did He start showing me all the great things about dogs, but He showed me that I really did want one! Suddenly I found myself petting the dogs of strangers and chuckling to myself when the neighbor dog woke me early in the morning. I thought it must be a fluke or hormones or something, but my Twilight Zone experience kept on. So for the last month or so I began praying that if God really wanted us to have a dog, that He would drop the right one on our doorstep.
I consulted my best friend, and asked her opinion. I thought she of all people, being a busy mom too, would help me to see what a bad idea this was. Instead, much to my surprise, she encouraged me to go for it. She said that in a few years, the Tyrant will be in school and I may go back to work full time. Being a stay at home mom now, I have more time to devote to training a dog. I had to admit she had a good point. I confessed my secret love to my husband, much to his delight.
I continued to pray for the perfect dog for our family, and for Him to help us do this financially. We saw an English Bulldog in a petstore that was really sweet, but choked on her $1300 price tag. We checked out some local adoption agencies that foster dogs, but most wanted $250 to adopt even a stray mutt.
All this time we were also keeping an eye on Craig's List, which is where we had found our cat a few years ago. The Man found a beagle pup listed, and I realized what a great choice she could be: not too big, short hair, sweet temperament. We contacted the man and before we knew it, she was here! He had bought her from a pet store but had realized later that he just did not have the time to train her or spend with her. He only wanted $100 for her, which is amazing! He also gave us her food dishes, collar & leash, food and two crates. I don't know why I'm surprised when God answers our prayers, but wow! What amazing answers He gave us! Lucy is a sweet little thing, although naughty in only that way that puppies are. We are totally in love!

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Saturday, February 14, 2009

Carrying the Message

Step 12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs. 

I had my speaking commitment at the residential treatment center last Wednesday, and dare I say, it went fabulously!  My sponsor is a doll, and gave me a really lovely intro that I was not expecting.  There was only eight of us in the meeting, but that was a great help to me in relaxing.  Big groups make me nervous, but a small group is just like friends getting together for coffee.  I actually managed to say everything that I wanted to share about my experience, strength & hope.  I got great responses, and the women really shared their hearts.  It was great to hear where these ladies are coming from, and I always love to hear other women talk about their recovery.  My sponsor has said before, and said again that night, that she really loves to see women get sober.  That there is something very different about women who must attempt this journey, as compared to men.  We face different obstacles, and the stereotypes and pre-conceived ideas about how women 'should' be able to do this can be pretty intimidating.  Why can't she stop drinking for her kids? Doesn't she know they need her?  The Big Book tells us that frothy emotional appeal will not get us, nor keep us, sober.  I may want to stay sober for my husband and kids, but they can't keep me from drinking.  I have to do the work, ask God for help, work the steps, make amends, go to meetings, take my inventory every day, work with other alcoholics, face my character defects...... When I say it's my job to stay sober, it's because it is a JOB.  Sobriety is not something I got and now keep in a jar on my desk.  It is a living, breathing part of my soul, and if I do not feed it, it will die.  I have a disease that tells me that I don't have a disease, and if I take the risk of complacency, I could very easily fall back into old habits.
I'm really thankful that I could speak at that meeting.  I need to be always mindful of where I came from, so that I don't ever go back there.

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