Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Peteyville 2012

The other night I took my kids to Peteyville. What's that, you ask? Don't worry, I didn't know either: despite growing up one town over, this year was the first time I ever heard of it.

A Christmas staple for the past 25 years, it's that house (houses, really) that EVERYONE drives out to see... the house that Clark Griswold could only DREAM of having. Homemade holiday machines, lights, and inflatables span across five lawns; they even have their own theme song! (Tune in to 88.5fm while you're by the house to hear it, along with a brief history of Peteyville.)

My brother got wind of it this year, and he dragged my parents along; my mother insisted I had to take my kids. We were out and about the other night and the weather was good (from their facebook page, they can't put the display up during high winds; otherwise it's on from 5-10pm every night) so we headed over.

The kids were completely amazed. We were all enchanted, and I was given yet more proof that the more we age, the sappier we get; these goddamn Christmas lights and displays made me tear up. I CHOKED UP at someone's holiday display. I almost couldn't finish reading one of the signs to my daughter. It was pretty ridiculous.

Yeah this one. It's not even that sappy but just the thought that a family has been spreading joy like this for 25 years... Niagara Falls, Frankie Angel!

Peteyville is located at 3033 Crane Place in Hammond, Indiana. If you're in the area, you really must go. Get out of your car and walk around; the displays continue up the sides of each house. Take some pictures. Tune in to the radio station and listen to the story and song of Peteyville. Give yourself permission to revel in the holiday spirit just a little. Pictures just don't do this place justice.

Make it a scavenger hunt! See if you can spot:

*three Santas stuck in chimneys
*six teddy bears
*the leg lamp
*the Peteyville sign
*Scooby Doo
*Mickey Mouse
*a 'failed' light installation
*two penguins
*three snowmen

Stop back here after you visit and let me know what your favorite display was! Personally I was pretty damn impressed with the 20 foot inflatables; I've never seen holiday inflatables that size!

A Peteyville Panoramic

Thursday, August 9, 2012

I Feel So Broke Up, I Wanna Go Home

Anxiety and pain have me in vice grips tonight, so much so that I can't sleep. I am on vacation in a cabin in North Carolina, lying in a bedroom with my sleeping family, while my husband's family sleeps on in various rooms around us, with arms aching from poorly thought-out water sports (not THAT kind) and a stomach aching from accidental gluten ingestion (I think, anyway). I miss my house and my anxiety over a number of hurdles I need to face the next four days is sky high, and I don't know how to turn it off. The catch-22 of 'you need to sleep so you can function in the morning AND pack so you can get on the road AND not be a cranky bitch in front of your husband's family' clashing with the anxiety keeping me awake just generates more anxiety and I think I might throw up (the stomach pain doesn't help). I can't sleep during the day tomorrow because we are taking several small trips and meeting various people and right now I just kind of need a day off and there is no such thing. I can't even figure out how to pack because apparently I did it ALL WRONG on the way down here and used too many bags and we don't have enough room, but I don't even know HOW to repackage in such a way that will allow all four of us access to all the clothes and items we will need while traveling by car the next four days. I guess we could all wear the same damn outfit for the next four days, hygiene be damned! Fuck this noise. Can I just get beamed home already??

I wish I knew a good way to quell an anxiety attack when it comes up. I'm not doing very well with it right now. I think I took on too much this trip and I am losing my ever loving mind. Just cancel the rest of this tour and let me go home. I don't want to tackle any more.

I pecked out this whole post on my iPhone. I guess that's sort of like an accomplishment?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Update on Dad

Dad, Oksana, Drake, and OJ at Raven's Grin Inn - September 2010. Mom, Matt, and Amy in the background.

Dad's back in the hospital. He went back in yesterday. He was running a fever - 101.9 at home - so Mom took him to the ER around 1pm yesterday. They did some tests on him and decided to admit him. He has a urinary tract infection and it's causing him some pain in his nether regions (is it in bad taste to discuss your dad's balls on the internet? I guess the answer would be 'only if you think he would care', which mine pretty much wouldn't). I guess there's a possibility of some tubes in there or sometimes even the testicle itself twisting after surgery... not even sure what they need to do to fix that, go in again? ... but from the ultrasound it LOOKS like it's just inflammation from the UTI so here's hoping. They're keeping him again tonight but he can probably go home tomorrow. I'm not too worried as it sounds like it's a fairly common issue after this surgery and they seem to have it under control. Still, feel free to send healing thoughts and prayers Dad's way. I'm hoping now that they've moved him to a regular wing that the kids and I can visit him tomorrow (the rule where he was before is 'no kids under 14'). I'll find out tomorrow!

Dad's stomach last night in the ER. The white things are steri-strips over the incisions. The red areas are the spots where they pulled the tape off after surgery. Mom is convinced those are infected but the rest of us keep telling her they're just irritated and it looks bad but it will heal. The hospital staff don't seem concerned about them so hopefully we're right!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

31 Uses For Thirty-One Gift's Cinch-It-Up Thermal Tote

Every month Thirty-One Gifts runs great special for our customers. This July we have a variety of items available for only $5 with each $31 you spend! I'm going to share ideas for each item, starting with the adorable Cinch-It-Up Thermal Tote.

The first thing you should know is that our thermal totes are amazing. I use them on a regular basis and they really work! I've even had them sit outside in the hot sun on a 90 degree day for 8-9 hours, and the food inside was still cold (sometimes even still frozen, if I stuck, say, a frozen water bottle in it) at the end of the day. THANK YOU FOR MAKING OUR CUB SCOUT CAMP LUNCHES AMAZING, THIRTY-ONE!

The second thing you should know is that this is a fantastic deal. It's a $19 savings! Holy cow! Grab it up! And you can get one with every $31 you spend, so if you've got your eye on some other items in the catalog, go for it.

The third thing, of course, is that they're ridiculously adorable. Just look at those prints! They look even better in person. Here, here's a little video preview of them:

Still on the fence? Here's 31 things you can do with the Cinch-It-Up Thermal Tote:

  1. School lunches
  2. Work lunches
  3. Take home leftovers from parties
  4. Snacks on-the-go for outings with little ones
  5. Beach outings
  6. Picnics
  7. BBQ's
  8. Fill it with ice and a few mini bottles of wine for a romantic date (even if it's in your backyard!)
  9. Mini diaper bag
  10. Emergency car kit (snacks and water)
  11. Have food allergies or a restrictive diet? Separate your lunch from the rest of the family!
  12. Snacks for kids sports games
  13. Taking bottles to day care
  14. Nursing mothers who pump at work
  15. Keep medicines cool while traveling
  16. Carry protein shakes to the gym
  17. Shopping at your local farmer's market
  18. Trips to the park
  19. Tailgating
  20. Cosmetic bag
  21. First aid kit
  22. Grocery shopping
  23. Pool bag for wet swimsuit
  24. Kids traveling activity bag
  25. And don't forget gifts! Teacher gift (back to school is almost here!)
  26. New parent gift
  27. Trick or treat bag
  28. Thank you for coaches
  29. Holiday gift bag
  30. Soup or a gift for a sick friend
  31. Just because!
Here's a peek at our other $5 items on special this month:

All items must be purchased by July 31st to be eligible for the special. E-mail me or call me (773-860-1108) to place your order! 

A final note: through the end of the summer season (August 31st), personalization is only $5 (a $2 savings). The Cinch-It-Up Thermal Tote is not eligible for personalization, but many of our items are. Contact me with any questions or to place your order.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Excellent Band Names

Admit it, you've thought and / or said 'That would make an excellent band name' more than one time in your life. Usually when you've heard a somewhat ridiculous combination of words. I catch myself saying it all the time. Purely for my own amusement, I'm going to keep a running list of Most Excellent Band Names that occur in my life. Feel free to share yours too!

Wikipedia Names Your Band Meme

80's Shemale

Vagina Grinch

Boneless Beauties

Communal Vagina

Angry Uterus

Lard & the Sugar Cookies

This Post Won't Be Pretty

Today my father is having his prostate removed. He is, at this moment, in surgery. He has been in surgery for almost six hours now, at a hospital fifteen minutes from me. I am sitting at home.

I am sitting at home because I woke up at 3AM with horrible stomach pain. I have some reflux problems (and a hiatal hernia; just one of those wonderful many health issues I deal with) and went to sleep last night with those horrible sulfur belches. If you've not ever had the joy, it's... not something I'd wish on my worst enemy. It's like the rottenest of rotten eggs bellowing out of your gut, forcing you to both taste and smell the awfulness. For HOURS. Thankfully it doesn't happen often. So when I woke up at 3AM to a swollen, immensely painful stomach, I assumed it was gas pain. I'd been trying to choke those burps down after all; hoping the gas would make its way towards the other end instead. Presumably it had built up over night.

I sat up. I massaged my stomach. It was hard, distended and painful. Most of the gas felt trapped around my stomach, meaning I'd probably have to burp it out to relieve the pain... farting was of course preferable so I could avoid the awful taste, but at that point I was so uncomfortable I'd take what I could get. I maneuvered myself around on the bed for a few minutes, trying to work my way into the yoga pose that might best move the gas up and out,

I use 'fart pose' and I am not ashamed!
It wasn't working. I rolled onto my stomach and stuck my butt up in the air, hoping to encourage the gas to move up and out. And then... it happened.

No, I didn't fart. I wouldn't waste an entire blog post on a mere fart. I felt the gas rolling up my throat and prepared myself to belch the pressure away. Except when the gas reached my mouth, I suddenly found myself with a mouth full of last night's dinner. I mean FULL. I freaked and started trying to scramble out of the bed when I felt more coming up my throat. I did the only thing I could, which was lean over the end of the bed and heave my guts out. I blew chunks all over the carpet. Load after load. In between heaves I was frantically clawing at my husband's foot. Normally this much disturbance would have awakened him but it was my luck that he was passed out cold. Puke. Claw. Puke. I managed to voice a desperate plea. "Help!" Claw foot. Puke. "OJ! Help!" Puke. "Me!" He finally woke up and moved his ass out of the way so I could dash to the bathroom and blow MORE chunks in the toilet.

Chunks is my dog.
I've been miserable ever since. I can't shake the stomach pain. I can't keep anything down. I haven't even TRIED anything but some mint tea with a little honey and baking soda. Things are coming out of both ends now. You never really realize how much liquid and waste there is rolling around in your body until you start spewing it all over for hours.

It's a horrible feeling. I have no nausea, and no warning about when the puke is coming. I'm walking around carrying a bucket. It's like my stomach is slowly filling up, like a hose is leaking somewhere inside me. (Yes, it's as painful as it sounds.) Like one of those giant buckets at water parks that fills up and tips over every ten minutes or so. The discomfort grows and my stomach becomes more and more distended until suddenly, BLEH!

Like this, only with puke.
Needless to say, this is why I'm sitting at home instead of at the hospital with my mom and brother, waiting to hear news about my dad. Physically, being sick like this is bad enough. Emotionally in this situation, it's even worse. I wanted to be there with my family. I wanted to see my dad as soon as we were able. Logically I know that bringing in a bug and potentially infecting my dad after surgery or my mom and brother, who live with him and will be taking care of him, is a terrible idea, and I'm doing the smart and correct thing by staying home. Emotionally, I just wanted to be there.

Please say a prayer, think good thoughts, send healing vibes, whatever your preference, to my dad. They told us the surgery was at least four hours long. Sitting here at six hours and counting, I'm more than a little anxious.

Edited to add: Dad is out of surgery, awake (albeit very groggy and drugged), and the surgery went well. They ran into a few snags with some hernia scars but they got the entire prostate and preliminary reports seem to indicate the cancer hadn't spread. He'll be in the hospital until Wednesday.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Thirty-One Gifts

Did you know I'm a consultant with Thirty-One Gifts? I have been for almost a year now.

What is Thirty-One Gifts?

Thirty-One is a direct sales company offering a variety of products to help make your life easier. Whether you are looking for style, organization, the perfect giftable item - or a little bit of everything - we've got it. From totes or purses you can wear while you’re out and about, thermals to help you transport food and drinks to a party, or organizational items to help you keep your house neat and tidy, Thirty-One has a solution! All products are customizable - each item comes in a variety of prints (with prints changing two or three times a season) AND the majority of items we sell can be personalized with embroidery or laser etching.

The Retro Metro bag (print: Lotsa Dots). I actually USE this purse! (I've never been a 'purse' kind of girl so that's nothing short of a miracle.)
What is direct sales?

Direct sales companies include well known brands such as Avon, Tupperware, Pampered Chef, and more. Individuals sign up to become Independent Consultants with the company. Products are primarily sold through home parties, where you invite your friends over to shop from the comfort of your home, and you (the host or hostess) receive free and discounted items for hosting the show. Consultants run their own business, set their own hours, and determine their earning potential. It's a fun and rewarding business!

A few of our products that are perfect for bringing home groceries (one of their MANY uses). The Market Thermal Tote (upper left, print: Circle Spirals) and the Large Utility Tote (upper right, print: Pin Dots) are two products I use almost daily.

Why did you sign up with Thirty-One Gifts?

Honestly? I initially signed up to get a discount on the products. A friend threw a party in August 2011; I had never heard of Thirty-One Gifts, and my cursory glance at the catalog left me thinking it was one of those 'purse parties'. I'm not really a purse kind of girl so I was a bit reluctant about attending but I wanted to support my friend. Imagine my surprise when I showed up and learned that a) the majority of the products are NOT purses, b) I actually love most of the purses they DO have, and c) the products were cute, stylish, well made, and I was IN LOVE with them. It was only $100 to sign up as a consultant, I had people at the party telling me they'd host parties for me, and my wishlist would have cost me more than that anyway... so I signed up. I've been a very casual consultant over the past year, hosting a party maybe every other month - enough to keep me active and get my hands on my desired products. These are the bags I never knew I needed but suddenly can't live without. I take them EVERYWHERE and I love them.

Our new Making Memories Thermal (print: Mint Chip). Only available to hostesses! Both the front pocket and the large section are thermal, and it has an extendable handle and wheels. It folds down for easy storage when not in use. I just used mine last week at Cub Scout Camp - it kept our lunches and drinks cold ALL DAY outside in 90 degree heat. Amazing!

Moving forward, I'd like to share Thirty-One with more people and put more effort into the business side of things. I'll be sharing occasional monthly specials and favorite products in future posts.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments! If you live in my area (south suburbs of Chicago) and would like to host a party, let me know. If you would like to sign up for my newsletter, e-mail me here and I will add you to my mailing list.

I will soon have a personal Thirty-One Gifts website for online shopping and will share that here when I have it!

The Thirty-One Gifts story:

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Gather Up Your Tears; Keep 'Em In Your Pocket. Save Them For A Time When You're Really Going To Need Them.

Today was a hard day, for a number of reasons. Health troubles, business troubles, life troubles, anxiety... overall just a downer. I'm medicating with music. A friend suggested wine, but wine (in addition to wreaking havoc on my already unstable blood sugar) has been bringing me migraines lately, and I just got rid of a near-24-hour one, so I don't feel like tempting that fate again.

Sometimes when I'm down I'll listen to energizing music to cheer me up... and then sometimes, it's really comforting to listen to beautiful, melancholy songs. That may seem odd, that indulging in sadness would be healing, and yet it is. It hearkens back to one of my favorite articles, "Why Lying Broken In A Pile On Your Floor Is A Good Idea".

"All the places where you’ve shattered can now reflect light and colour where there was none. Now is the time to become something new, to choose a new whole."

So I'm indulging in my sadness tonight; in the parts of me that are broken right now, because it's time to become something new. It's scary and it's hard but if I don't do it the crocodiles are going to eat me, so I'm rending myself into little pieces, to be unlimited.

This song is beautiful; it just breaks my heart every time I hear it. The melancholy and, at the same time, the wisdom it portrays fill me with both sadness and hope. I have a dear friend who died young some ten years ago and of course I think of her every time I hear it. But then I think of everyone I've lost, and everyone dear to me who has lost loved ones; for it seems as if 'young' is really relative, and it always seems like our loved ones are snatched away too soon. Gone and yet I believe they are still with us, in one way or another.
'Lord make me a rainbow, I'll shine down on my mother'
'the sharp knife of a short life'
'I've had just enough time'
'I'm as green as the ring on my little cold finger'
'what I never did is done'
'funny when you're dead, how people start listening'


 Pink Floyd has some amazing songs, especially when it comes to melancholy. This is one of my favorites; it captures the melancholy perfectly but also ends with hope, with a heartfelt beseechingness to act, to keep going, to feel.
'No more turning away
From the weak and the weary
No more turning away
From the coldness inside'


 I'm not necessarily searching for a spiritual answer right now, but I frequently feel lost and alone these days. I feel myself reaching out for someone, anyone, to show me the way; to give me the strength and the courage to believe that I'll get there someday. One step at a time. One meal at a time; one workout at a time; one blood test at a time. One day, one hour, one minute at a time.


Yes I *am* a huge nerd, why do you ask? I like Enya and I LOVE Lord Of The Rings. The movies are pretty much perfect. And if you're looking for a melancholy story of epic struggle, you certainly don't need to look any further. As a matter of fact I'm tempted to go and watch them right now but that'll be like 16 hours and I'll NEVER sleep.
'believe and you will find your way'


I'm going to end with one of the most heart-rending songs out there... and I'm choosing to listen to Susan Boyle's audition version because while the song is beautifully depressing, this version at least ends with a lovely lady seeing her dream fulfilled. Godspeed Susan, and Godspeed to me as well. May all our dreams have significantly better outcomes than poor Fantine's.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Re-Inventing Myself

I go for long periods of time not blogging these days. I'm struggling with my anxiety monsters a lot, and my diabetes is raging out of control. There are a lot of changes on the horizon for me and that's never easy. And as always, I struggle with a lot of the same issues every day. Major clutter. Weight issues. Trouble with food. Trouble with managing my life in general.

Sometimes I get so down in the dumps about it all that the only thing I think I can do is re-invent myself. I'll start a new blog somewhere, writing about my life! I'll get it all together THIS TIME, and I'll keep it anonymous until I have it all together, then I'll re-emerge like a glorious phoenix out of the ashes of my current miserable, decrepit existence!

This time the 'new' blog was going to be called "Small House, Big Life" and was going to be all about my BIG struggles and BIG dreams locked away in a tiny space, fighting to get free. That doesn't sound familiar at all, does it?? And I might have even started it too if someone hadn't already claimed the name on blogger.

As I was sitting there staring at my Google search results and thinking of similar alternate names for the 'new me', I realized that my OLD blog is still me too. That just because a bunch of people know about this blog, doesn't make me any less able to make the changes I want. It doesn't mean I will, and it doesn't mean I won't. That's up to me. It's NOT up to whether I blog about it or not. And if I blog about it and people read it and it takes a long time to happen, it doesn't make me a failure. As long as I persevere I will get there eventually.

Sometimes I just get so ashamed of everyone watching me go in circles again and again.

But like the old adage says, 'wherever you go, there you are'. Hiding in a different corner of the internet won't make me change any faster.

And as long as I keep trying and keep fighting, I shouldn't be ashamed.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

When Bullies Endanger Your Free-Range Kid

We've been having a run of delightfully warm weather this past week. Highs in the 70's. I'm loving it, and so are the kids. Yesterday after school, Drake asked if he could go to the park one block from our house to meet some of his friends. In keeping with my desire to be a free-range mom, I said sure. He was gone for about a half hour. When he returned, he told me there was an older boy at the park who was bullying him.

"He kept saying bad words, and kept trying to get ME to say bad words. Like the F word, a LOT. And then he kept trying to get me to punch the girls he was with. He told me to beat the HELL out of them. He also wanted to know where I lived and where my parents were."

I asked him how he handled it. He said "I refused to say the bad words, and I told him I don't hit girls. I also told him I live down the alley, because there are lots of houses down the alleys. Then when he wouldn't leave me alone, I just came home."

There were a couple other kids at the park, all around Drake's age. Drake said the kid was bothering them some too but mostly was bothering him. As he told the story, the kid kept getting older... a generic 'teenager' to a 'high schooler' to 'at least 17' to 'a college kid!'. He also said the kid started following him when he began heading home, so Drake ran home.

I told him he did the right things, and asked him if he wanted us to walk back over and see if that kid was still there. He said yes so we did, me prepared to do some stern mama-talking (and possibly get my own ass beat, if these kids were REAL punks). Oksana (who is five going on I'LL KICK YOUR ASS) took off eagerly, ready to take down some bullies. When we got there, the park was clear of all children. In the distance, we could see three bigger kids walking down the block. "That's them!" said Drake. "I can tell because one of the girls had blue hair." They were too far away to do anything - not that this stopped Oksana, who took off at a full-on run after them until I called her back. "I'm mad at them for being bullies to my brother! I was going to kick that bully in the wiener!" (I have a feeling I'll be getting called to school quite a bit for this kid. I better start practicing my IT WAS SELF DEFENSE speeches now.)

I think Drake handled it pretty well, as a 7 year old dealing with three older kids. I'm not sure what other advice I could or should have given him. I know that kids can be assholes, and it's likely this kid was just being a little jerk trying to be 'cool' for his friends. He probably wasn't looking for a physical altercation. But what if he was? What do you tell your 7 year old about fighting with older kids? Or even fighting with a group of kids? We've told him it's OK to fight back in self-defense, and that the goal should be to drop the kid so he can get to safety, not for revenge or to beat the crap out of the other person. How do you answer questions when your child, rightfully so, asks what he should do if he fights back in self-defense and the bully's friends jump in? What do you say when they ask you "I will try to kick the boy in the privates, but what about the girls?" (I've already told him he CAN hit a girl if they hit him first.) Do I teach my kid to be a dirty fighter?

I tell you, there was a good part of me that wanted to go over there and punch those foul-mouthed little shitbags in the face. Not because I care about bad words (obviously), but because they were very clearly intimidating little kids and trying to get them to engage in bad behaviors. It made my blood boil.

Part of allowing my children to be free-range kids means knowing and accepting that they will run into situations that are difficult to deal with and hoping I've guided them and taught them the right ways to handle those situations. How do you teach your kids to deal with bullies and jerks? (That's not a hypothetical; I really want to know what other parents are teaching their kids about these types of situations.) A lot of the time I feel like the 'school sponsored' responses are kind of weak, but I'm not sure what else to do.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Keep Things Spooky!

Hey friends. It's Friday the 13th... well, it will be in 20 minutes... and I want to devote today's blog entry to a friend of mine. My friend Red Clark is an amazing person. He's funny, he's creative, he's talented, and he's one of the nicest, most genuine people I've ever met. He's also a huge horror fan and aspiring filmmaker. He's really active in the Chicago horror scene and he's always coming up with fantastic ideas and projects.

If you follow me on Facebook or follow my horror blog, you may recall me crowing enthusiastically about a cool and creepy little video we did that won third place in a Midnight Syndicate video contest. Red was pretty much the mastermind behind that, and he did all the filming and editing. The end result was incredible. AND HE THREW IT TOGETHER IN LESS THAN 48 HOURS. You can now find it on the DVD for the film The Dead Matter.

I'm telling you about Red because he has a new project in the works. It's perfectly suited to his unique talents and I really think his passion for old school horror and his keen eye will make this into something great, but he needs just a little help to get it off the ground. Stephen King (yeah, that's right) has given Red permission to make a non-commercial short film adaptation of his story Gray Matter, from the collection Night Shift. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and would be a great stepping stone for Red's career! I truly believe that the horror world needs more filmmakers like Red, with original ideas and a driving passion for the genre. Red is funding this project through Kickstarter. He's 8 days out and $1,100 shy of his goal right now. If you can find it within you to celebrate a little spookiness this Friday the 13th and lend a hand... whether it's through a donation OR just by spreading the word... it would be much appreciated.

Thanks, everyone!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Wonders of Nature

Oksana saw kitten and puppy birthing today, thanks to Milo and Otis. Which I'd seen once long ago, but only retained a memory of "OMG CUTE KITTEN AND PUPPY ADVENTURE!". I forgot there was birthing involved. Not that I have a problem with it, I think it's right to raise your kids to view birth as a perfectly natural process, not something taboo. I would even let them be present at the birth of my next baby if they wanted to be there.

At the same time, though, while I believe it is wonderful to treat it as a natural process and really, I applaud the movie for doing so... at the same time, when you randomly encounter something like a BIRTHING MONEY SHOT when you're watching TV with your kids, there's always an internal part of you that is completely caught off guard and totally squirms, like 'oh. OH! well. um. that's happening. My kid is now seeing this. ohhhhh.... kay. Here we go!' and you have to steel yourself for questions and reactions all while keeping yourself calm, collected, and NATURAL. ACT NATURAL. ACT NATURAL SO THEY'RE NOT SCARRED FOR LIFE DAMNIT!

My daughter's reaction? "Oh. EWWWW."

Two minutes later: "OMG THEY'RE SOOOO CUTE!"

The end.

you know you wanna see it.

Bedtime Conversation: 5 Year Old Edition

Oksana: "I don't like when Sonic catches bugs. Well, I like when she catches OTHER bugs, but not when she catches moths." 

Me: "Why is that? You like moths?"

O: "Yeah. They're little and cute. Do you remember that one time when Sarah was over and she found a REALLY BIG moth?"

Me: "I sure do. It was big!"

O: "Yup. And part of it glowed red."

Me: "uhh... I... don't remember that part."

O: "it did! It was on the tail. Well not like a tail like Sonic has, but you know. Maybe that's it's butt."

Me: "Could be."

O: "And if it was a girl moth, it would have little boobs too."

Cecropia moth in our yard!
Not pictured: glowing red tail. Or tiny boobs.

Sarah and the giant moth.

Moving On

Christmas vacation is over! The kids are back in school today. I enjoyed having them home with me the last two weeks and I am kind of sad. Everyone's adjusting back to going to bed early and waking up early. Somewhat reluctantly, on all our parts, I might add.

Things are coming along in all the other areas of life. Financial Peace University starts tomorrow. I picked up our kit yesterday and I'm really looking forward to it. We have something of a working budget hammered out for now. We're so far behind on the house that for now we've decided we're not paying the mortgage. We are in communications with the mortgage company and have tried several angles to get assistance, to no avail. Right now what we will probably do is wait until they start foreclosure proceedings and then see if we can turn it into a short sale. That will, hopefully, buy us the time we'll need to get everything together to move somewhere else.

"Somewhere else" is looking like it'll probably be North Carolina. I'm open to it and OJ is really interested. We love Boone but employment opportunities are slim... so it'll probably be either Raleigh or Charlotte. He has friends in both cities, and I have a cousin in Raleigh.

On our radar is also Austin, Texas. We have friends there, and OJ's brother lives there. Neither of us have ever been though, and OJ is really not keen on how hot it gets (whereas I LOVE it!).

(And of course, lest we forget, we're probably going to spend about a year in Park City, Utah after I win my beloved HGTV Dream Home.)

It is our hope to visit all of the places on our list sometime this year so we can truly decide on our favorite and start looking for work. And of course, despite which one ends up being the 'favorite', it'll really depend on jobs. OJ's going to try to get a job and stay with friends while he finds us a place to live, I think. We'll just have to see how it all plays out.

I'm still working on the house. Getting lots of stuff purged. Which reminds me, I have a trunk full of stuff I need to bring to Kara, the lady that sells my stuff on ebay. She does an awesome job! She has an ebay store and does online consignment for several people, so she always has a nice variety of merchandise. If anyone is in need of stuff, and wants to help out me, or her, or any of the rest of us local moms that need money, you can find her store here: The Sweet Buy And Buy.

I've also started working on my health a bit more. I had stopped taking everything but the absolute necessary medications while I was having all my stomach trouble last year, and while that hasn't completely cleared up (the endoscopy showed nothing but some inflammation, biopsies of which gave us no information), we're chalking it up to stress/anxiety pain and acid reflux. So I'm easing my way back into my other medicines and vitamins, starting with my metformin, which is causing a little bit of stomach upset but is also bringing my blood sugar down to more acceptable levels, so yay. I'll do most of my health and weight loss blogging over at my blog, The Big Fat Breakup, if anyone wants to follow along.

one of my favorite recent pins. Are you on Pinterest yet? Follow me!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

After Bath Goodness

A fluffy, slightly disgruntled Patches G. Pig after a bath last night. Curled up in towels on my bed, soothing his frazzled nerves with a delicious salad!

Friday, January 6, 2012


Had my IUD removed yesterday. My five years were up and it was time. You all know I've been wanting another baby anyway... I'm still in the "yay babies!" boat. OJ is in the "baby in a year or two" boat. I'm putting him in charge of birth control for now.

Is this an ideal time to have a baby? HELL NO. Are there things I want to do to improve our lives before we have a baby? ABSOLUTELY. All the same, would I be thrilled if I got pregnant? You know it!
Life's funny that way. Things tend to work themselves out as they should.

We're working on our finances. Financial Peace University starts next week. We have hard decisions and even harder work ahead of us.

I'm continuing to get the house in order. Purging even more than before since it looks like we'll be moving in the next 6 months - 1.5 years. However we decide is best to approach the house issue, we're going to try to stay here as long as we can to get into the best financial position possible for moving somewhere. Right now we're leaning towards waiting until foreclosure starts and then seeing if we can get into a short sale. We need more information overall though before we really decide.

My health needs work. I need to eat better foods, have lower blood sugar, and exercise more. I should also work on some meditation / stress relief exercises to help with the anxiety. If I get pregnant I won't be able to take my anxiety medications so that's something I'll really need to work on.

Those three things remain my biggest priorities right now.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

you can wipe your ass with my damn house

welcome to my life right now.

Aside from starting the day dealing with FECESCAPADE 2.0, it was a relatively normal day. Did lots of laundry, cleaned in the kitchen, cleaned more in Oksana's room (found more hidden pockets of cat pee, and lots more toys that need to be cleaned thanks to that), took care of animals and kids. Talked to OJ about our 2012 budget and wrote out a document that lays out where the money should go from each paycheck. Butted heads a couple times over how to best deal with money. Agreed to start taking the Financial Peace University class that starts next Tuesday. I'm sure we'll butt heads some more, but I think the group support will be good for us.

Right now our financial strategy consists of figuring out which steps would fuck us over the most for the longest, and then taking what appears to be the best path in that minefield. Walk away from the house? Short sell? Declare bankruptcy? Can we declare selective bankruptcy and keep some of our accounts out of it? Just stop paying some of our credit cards and wait until they sell them to collections and settle then? Pay off all the rest of our debt? Keep deferring things like student loans for the rest of our godforsaken lives? Decisions like that, where none of them are any good but some are (I guess) better than others.

I was surprised today when my mother told me that one of my cousins, whom I've always considered very savvy, thinks that the best thing for us is to walk away from our home. I know some of my other relatives think that's the case, but to hear that someone who is wealthy, intelligent and well-informed on a lot of matters like this agrees kind of surprised me. It's still hard for me to wrap my mind around. I mean, I understand that our house is worth about $100,000 less than what we owe on it... and that there's a good chance we'd never even get back to up to amount we owe on it in our lifetimes. But it was a risk we took, an obligation we signed up for, not to mention an emotional investment as well... and it's just hard for me to say 'ok, time to walk away'. Part of it feels right, but a lot of it feels wrong. I hate welshing on obligations and I hate the idea that my decision will make the overall economic climate worse.

Waking Up Is Hard To Do

I have a devil of a time waking up anymore. No matter when my morning comes, no matter how many hours of sleep I've gotten, it still feels like I'm drowning in sleep, swimming my way up through mud, trying to break through to the surface of wakefulness. I don't know what is causing it... I'm blaming general health issues, because it could be anything from my diabetes (high blood sugar) to my anxiety medications to my lack of activity to sinus infections to poor sleep to god knows what. It makes it REALLY hard to get moving for the first few hours of my day though, and I'm ready for it to change. I'm just a little befuddled because I don't know exactly HOW to make a change. There are a lot of health changes I need to make, that is, and it's a little overwhelming to know where to start. Especially when the house keeps screaming at me to clean it and just finish PURGING already!!

So I got a slow start today. Other than that, I spent a bunch of time working on Oksana's bedroom; it got a little messy around the holidays again, and of course, Casey started peeing on things again. I'm battling that crazy mess (AGAIN) right now. I'm also battling giant mounds of laundry, BAGS full of laundry, and a lot of that has cat pee on it too (because that's another thing she pees on if it's on the floor; dirty laundry). Which means that each load takes twice as long because I do extra rinses and vinegar washes on top of the regular washing.

A friend posted a great article on Facebook today: Why Lying Broken In A Pile On Your Bedroom Floor Is A Good Idea. It made me feel stronger, having read it. The author shares some insight gained from a Hindu goddess. Here's an excerpt:

“Ishvari” in Sanskrit means “goddess” or “female power,” and the “Akhilanda” means essentially “never not broken.” In other words, The Always Broken Goddess. Sanskrit is a tricky and amazing language, and I love that the double negative here means that she is broken right down to her name.
But this isn’t the kind of broken that indicates weakness and terror.
It’s the kind of broken that tears apart all the stuff that gets us stuck in toxic routines, repeating the same relationships and habits over and over, rather than diving into the scary process of trying something new and unfathomable.
Akhilanda derives her power from being broken: in flux, pulling herself apart, living in different, constant selves at the same time, from never becoming a whole that has limitations.
The thing about going through sudden or scary or sad transitions (like a breakup) is that one of the things you lose is your future: your expectations of what the story of your life so far was going to become. When you lose that partner or that job or that person, your future dissolves in front of you.
And of course, this is terrifying.
But look, Akhilanda says, now you get to make a choice. In pieces, in a pile on the floor, with no idea how to go forward, your expectations of the future are meaningless. Your stories about the past do not apply. You are in flux, you are changing, you are flowing in a new way, and this is an incredibly powerful opportunity to become new again: to choose how you want to put yourself back together. Confusion can be an incredible teacher—how could you ever learn if you already had it all figured out?"

I highly recommend checking the whole thing out.

Other than that... I got pretty loopy / dizzy after I took my anxiety medication tonight (that happens sometimes) and ended the evening playing Skylanders with Oksana.

Speaking of anxiety. The Bloggess shared a post yesterday wherein she talking about her battles with depression and anxiety and admitted publicly for the first time that sometimes she self-harms. I'm really proud of her for talking about it and for standing up for herself and all the other people that fight their demons daily. I don't suffer from depression, and I don't self-harm, but I do suffer from GAD - generalized anxiety disorder. I was diagnosed about a year and a half ago. The symptoms had been creeping up on me for probably a couple of years before that, but I didn't recognize them. I had no real context for anxiety disorder. Sometimes it is hugely disabling, especially when other things in life are hard. It's harder to take action on many things in my life right now, for instance, when so many huge issues are crushing down on us right now. It's hard for me to explain to people why I don't just go get a job and make more money, because it's just not that simple for me. That's not all due to anxiety, but a large part of it is. I worry that people won't understand. I struggle with explaining my thoughts and feelings to people because without an understanding of how terrible anxiety can be to someone fighting it daily, I fear judgment. Scorn. Dismissal.

I fight anxiety every day. I take medications to help me deal with it. I see a therapist and a psychiatrist. These things have all helped immensely... but some days, life is still a huge battle.

Through it all, I do my best to figure out what I can do to make myself and my family happy. Sometimes that means compromises, BIG compromises. Even compromises on my own principles / morals at times. Because I'd rather be happy than right all the time.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Financial Peace

I've always been a fan of Dave Ramsey, but I've never really put effort into following his ideas... or much of any ideas about finances, really. I'd dabble in fixing our finances but never really committed for more than a short while. Good intentions, bad follow-through. After reading about a friend's experience with Dave's Financial Peace University (and her recent encouragement to check out one of the local FPU classes that will be starting soon), I convinced OJ that we should take the class. It's $100, not very much to spend on one's financial future. I think taking it together, spending dedicated time for 12 weeks talking about our finances and ways to make things better, working together and finally building a solid partnered financial foundation in our marriage, is a good idea.

OJ is skeptical about the fact that it is a Christian-based program and that it is held at a church. He's become very atheist over the past year or two. I told him there was no way I was entertaining the idea of moving to the Bible Belt (North Carolina) with him if he wouldn't even take a class because it was held at a church. I'm sure we can filter out any God messages and apply them in our own spiritual / ethical / moral way. He also doesn't love the idea of paying someone (AKA making THEM rich) to give us 'financial peace', but I maintain that people's time and efforts are worth paying for if we learn something / get value from it. AND, as I said, $100 is not that much for two people to invest in a 12-week class.

I don't know which class we will be taking yet; I have sent an email to the most likely one with some questions. Hopefully we'll be able to start soon.

I wonder if there's a way to take these methods and convert them in such a way that they could be applicable to weight loss and clutter management. I could become the next guru of fixing up your life!


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