Friday, May 31, 2013

3rd Annual 30 Day Photo Challenge ~ Day 1 ~ Self Portrait

Easily one of my favorite days in these challenges is the self portrait day. I spend all year telling you guys all kinds of stuff about me, and this is my payback day - I finally get to see who you are!

This is what I looked like yesterday.
Tips for taking a self portrait that doesn't suck:
1. Pay attention to the lighting. Avoid using the flash whenever possible. Bright, indirect light is best.
2. Decide what your best angle is - makes faces at yourself in the mirror if you don't already know.
3. Look just up and to the side of the lens, not directly at it, unless you want a very intense picture.
4. If you have double chins (not that you do, of course LOL), look slightly up to take the picture, hold the camera a tiny bit higher than you normally would.
5. Make sure there isn't anything messing up your background, or giving you bunny ears, or growing out of the top of your head.
6. Take more than one picture, with slightly different expressions. Then you can pick the best one.
7. Try to laugh naturally so your smile doesn't look forced.
8. Remember you can always zoom in, but you can't zoom out once the picture is taken.
Good luck!!!!

3rd Annual 30 Day Photo Challenge ~ Rules and Introduction

Due to the increase in the number of people participating this time around, I've had to change the format of the challenge a little. To participate, please join the DeBie Hive's 30 Day Photo Challenge Group on Facebook. All photos need to be posted there, with a notation of which day in the challenge the image represents.  I will consolidate them into albums to be shared on the DeBie Hive Facebook Page.


Here are the rules:

1) One picture per day per person, all MUST be posted in the group.
2) There is no requirement that you participate every day to be eligible for the contest.
3) Only one picture per person will be selected for the contest.
4) What is chosen for the contest is entirely at my discretion.
5) I will remove photos I deem offensive, and reserve the right to do so.
6) Only post pictures of people you have permission to post images of.
7) The idea is to take NEW pictures, not re-use old ones.
8) The contest runs after the challenge ends, hosted on my blog, for seven days. 
9) The prize is never that exciting, so you're mostly playing for bragging rights.
10) HAVE FUN!!!! I love photography and started doing these to get people out there experimenting with their cameras.


The full list of the prompts can be found here.

If you are new to the challenge, you can check our prior year's contests here:
- Last year's contest
- The contest from 2011
- Last Fall's Holiday Photo Challenge Contest

Thursday, May 30, 2013

When Movies Are Too Real

I'm not going to lie to you people because that's not how I roll. The last week or so has been rough around here. It seems like there are few lulls in the drama around these parts, and those lulls never seem to last very long when they do show up.

Also in the past week or so, we've watched a lot of movies. Some were escapist, transporting me to a different world entirely. The older I get, the more I like those movies, because they're so far out there that there is no way to tie them to reality. Maybe that is why I find myself watching more and more science fiction type stuff. Even if it's entirely ridiculous, at least it doesn't stab me in the heart.

Then there are the other movies. The stab me in the heart movies.

Last week sometime, we watched Silver Linings Playbook. I've heard the book is better, but can't speak to that personally since I haven't read it yet. If you haven't seen it yet and want to, you might want to stop reading. I'm usually far enough behind with watching movies that it's safe for me to write about them, but there's always going to be someone who tells me I'm a spoiler. So, if you're going to read this then tell me I am a spoiler, just stop now.


Anyway, it's a good movie. We had to watch it in pieces though because it was so emotionally overwhelming. I don't know how I would have done if I had watched it in a theater.  Bradley Cooper's character has bi-polar disorder, diagnosed after he completely loses control when he catches his wife cheating on him and almost beats her lover to death. He ends up in a psychiatric hospital until his mom goes out on a limb,signing him out to care for him at home.

He won't take his meds. He thinks he's fine. He is obsessed with exercise. He is socially awkward. He is totally preoccupied with trying to win his wife back, restraining order and all. There are scenes in the movie that were so painful for me that I had to avert my eyes, the worst being the one where he is tearing his room apart looking for their wedding video.

Then you get to know his parents more. Mom is a fixer. She is the glue in the family, and her main currency is information. She tells people what she thinks they need to know, she hides the rest, because she wants to fix things. Dad has OCD and a pathological gambler. He wants a relationship with his completely messed up son, but wants the relationship that he wants, not the one that his son is capable of having or wants with him. Mom is a fixer, he is a forcer.

Goddamn apple trees. It's one thing to have to deal with them on a daily basis, but seeing it play out before your eyes is overwhelming at times. We all get our crazy from somewhere, and we don't usually have to look too far to find it.

Jennifer Lawrence's character lost her husband and her life spiraled out of control. She's heavily medicated too, but seems to manage her emotions a little better. Even if they are ugly at times, at least she's aware of them. She has anxiety, she's depressed, she's acting out, she's lost. Then she finds a guy who's even more messed up than she is. It's a match made in dysfunctional heaven.

Good lord.

One of her lines in the movie is me, completelyI do this! Time after time after time! I do all this shit for other people! And then I wake up and I'm empty! I have nothing!

I cried buckets after that movie ended, the kind of crying where your head hurts for a few days afterwards and you end up dehydrated. Seeing so much mental illness crammed into two hours, so much of it the illnesses that exist in my own tree, was too much. I want better for my children. I'd give anything to help them avoid some of the things that have happened to me.

Doing that means taking long, ugly, hard looks in the mirror. Confronting it all. Dealing with it. Having awareness of it. It means you can't pretend it's not there, you can't wish it away. You have to suck it up and deal. You have to.

No other option but to face it all, or you are doomed to take the repeating cycle for another generational spin.

Then last night we watched This Is 40. It's a comedy. It's by Judd Apatow. There will be fart jokes, right? He likes fart jokes. It will be funny, right???

Parts of it were hilarious. Like holy shit there are people following me around with cameras and they know what happens in my house and they put it in a movie hilarious.

Parts of it weren't funny at all, and I found myself crying too many times to count. I asked my fans on Facebook what to expect yesterday, and some of them warned me. Some of them said it was just stupid or that it wasn't very funny. I think I envy them a little, because they just aren't there yet. I shouldn't be there yet. I'm not 40, but according to this movie I'm at least that old.

Financial crises, people who run away from their problems, mouthy kids, insecurity about getting older, the threat of the younger woman, addiction, unplanned pregnancies, an accident prone husband, trying to find connections with parents who aren't very parental....all of it.

Pete: Did you ever think marriage would get easier?
Barry: No, it gets harder. Much harder.

A-freaking-men

Check, check, check.

Is this really what happens when we hit mid-life?

Does everyone go through the same shit eventually? Is it that universal?

Why am I so lucky that I get to do it all years or decades before everyone else?

I'm a little bitter this morning, forgive me.

I'd like a refund on my youth, it ran out long before the warranty was up.

Thanks, Judd.

I think the next movie I watch will need to have robots or aliens or talking animals in it. This is getting ridiculous.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Writer's Workshop Wednesday ~ Ginger from The Apocalyptic Ginger Chronicles

Welcome to Writer's Workshop Wednesday!  This is my way of paying it forward to all the people out there who want to start writing, but don't have their own blogs yet, or who are established writers that are looking to appeal to a different audience.  I have also opened this up to those who would like to post anonymously about topics that are too difficult to write about publicly. Each week, I will host one or two posts by different writers.

I hope that you enjoy this series, I hope you find some new writers to follow, I hope this helps them out and I hope we can all learn something from them!


Up now, one of my most favorite people in all of the internets. Ginger from the Apocalyptic Ginger Chronicles is one of the kindest, most understanding souls online. I love her. She and I share far too many pieces of our history, but I think that's part of why we have the connection we do. I hope that you'll love her as much as I do. You can find her on Facebook here, and on her blog here.

Please send her some love and support today, on this hardest day of the year. xoxo
~~~~~~~~~

Coincidence? I think not....... on losing my way and finding Faith and Hope again.

29 May 2013

Hello gentle readers. First off I would like to thank the wonderful and talented DeBie Hive for inviting me to do a guest post. I am humbled and honored that she chose me to be part of this amazing opportunity of sharing. It is in large part because of her and the support she has given me that I am part of this beautiful blogging world today.

The enormity of coming up with something worthy of sharing has weighed on me since Kelly first asked me if I'd like to be part of her guest blog feature. Without sounding like a crazed stalker~ I will say that SHE sets the bar pretty high with her knowledge and amazing writing abilities. So here I go.....best effort and all......

As is usually the case with me, I have an idea of the subject about which I will write and then 27 things happen and the idea changes a hundred times and when I actually sit down to write (or type in this case) the words just flow freely.........

Today happens to be the birthday of my dear son William. It also happens to be the anniversary of the day he died. One might think that what I would choose to write would be completely about him~ his legacy, his loss and what he means to me. Although *this* post is heavily influenced by his brief but profound life~ like his short life~ the impact and this post is about far more than that.

I have been thinking a LOT lately about platitudes, latitude and attitude. When one suffers a loss or tragedy of any kind~ one expects that it will make other folks very uncomfortable. Many~ in an honest effort to be 'helpful' ~ offer age old platitudes: 'it's God's will', 'God doesn't give you more than you can handle', 'this too shall pass', 'when one door closes another opens' and so forth and so on.

Speaking from a place of having been through several unhappy but normal life events and what I consider to be more than my fair share of tragedies~~~ I can say I have heard just about every single platitude at one point or another. And mostly (if I am being honest) they don't help me. And sometimes they even piss me right the F*
Now I am not generally an ungrateful person~ and generally I give folks a fair amount of latitude when it comes to accepting their support and love for what it is..... even when I find their words not especially helpful and in some cases actually *hurtful* to me.

My true friends know this about me~ and they grant me the same latitude~ they know if I snap at them, or say something unkind in response, or simply burst into tears~ they KNOW it's me and my emotional reaction~ it's not them.

I cannot choose what other folks say. I cannot choose how *they* will respond to what I say. Often times (much to my dismay) I cannot choose what tragedies befall me. What I CAN choose is my attitude toward all of the above.

In a life filled with even the most 'normal' amount of chaos and heartache~ one could easily become a very pessimistic and nonbelieving soul. Add in a few extraordinary tragedies~ and one could almost certainly cave under the pressure ~ and be doomed to a bitter and resentful existence.

One thing I have held onto throughout many a difficult time is my belief that everything *does in fact* happen for a reason~~ even if it takes days, weeks, months or even years for me to *see* the reason and understand it's purpose.

I could name countless personal examples of how just when I needed something it appeared as if from nowhere. I could name countless personal examples of how just when I needed someONE *they* appeared as if from nowhere. I could name countless personal examples of how just when I needed financial or spiritual help *it* appeared as if from nowhere. But unless *I* chose to believe that it is some sort of divine intervention it will mean nothing more to me than simple coincidence.

I am not by nature a religious person.......however, I do consider myself to be a very spiritual person. You see I have to believe that there is something more than just this earthly physical existence. I have to believe that my mother, father, sister, nephew and son are in a better place. I have to believe that I will meet them there eventually.

And the reason I have to believe these things is this:
I spent some time in the land of bitter and resentful ~ and it almost killed me.

Today~ I TRY to always choose hope. I TRY to believe that I am exactly where I am supposed to be. I may not always understand *why* I have to be here~ but I can choose my attitude about the situation. It is no coincidence that the people in my life that I need the most are here when I need them. It is no coincidence that when I need love and strength the most~ I find it. It is no coincidence that losing my son gave me the strength to fight for and save the life of my daughter.

Six years ago today when my Son died~ it was almost my undoing~ I lost my way~ I lost the faith that things would ever be better~ I lost the hope that I would be able to survive with my wits intact.

Today~ though I wonder what he would look like? would he have his father's blue eyes? would he like to play baseball like his big brother? would he be tall like his brother or tiny like his sister? what would his voice sound like? though I wonder these things and a thousand others.......though I grieve his loss still......though there is a part of me that will never be whole until I am reunited with him......though my love for him grows every day and my longing to hold him makes it hard to breathe sometimes........

I look into the eyes of his baby sister Faith~ and I cannot imagine my life without her. I look into the eyes of my grown daughters and of my only living son~ and I see William there~ I see him~ alive and well and whole.

I remember him and I celebrate what he means to me. And in honor of his life and his legacy I do my very, very best to always choose HOPE. Every. Single. Day.

Happy Birthday my dear son. Thank you for helping me to become a better mother and a better person. Thank you for restoring my Faith and my Hope. I love you.

and to Kelly~ thank you for always believing in me and encouraging me to share my story even when it hurts.

Love and Light,
~ the Ginger herself, mother of 5, learning every day,
Regina

Writer's Workshop Wednesday ~ Rhi

Welcome to Writer's Workshop Wednesday!  This is my way of paying it forward to all the people out there who want to start writing, but don't have their own blogs yet, or who are established writers that are looking to appeal to a different audience.  I have also opened this up to those who would like to post anonymously about topics that are too difficult to write about publicly. Each week, I will host one or two posts by different writers.

I hope that you enjoy this series, I hope you find some new writers to follow, I hope this helps them out and I hope we can all learn something from them!

Up now is a submission from a novice writer, who goes by Rhi. This is her first public writing attempt, so please give her some feedback!

Thanks!

~~~~~~~~~

It’s a real mad house around here. Three kids, two cats, and a dog are a lot to keep up with every day. Add in a full-time job for me and a more than full-time job for the Man of the House (he’s the technical director of the theatre in the town’s fine arts center) and it really is a wonder anything gets accomplished at all.

The kids are great. The oldest is almost 11 and very very smart, but without a lick of sense in his head some days. I called to see how his day was going at break the other morning and he had eaten three bowls of cereal. No big deal, right? Except I had just talked to him about eating a sensible amount of each food he chooses, and also we were nearly out of milk. No problem with the milk, he just used the ultra-pasteurized kind in the fridge. You mean the half and half? Ooooh. Is that why it tasted kind of funny? (He really can read, I swear.)

The Sister will be two in August and she is what you’d call a real pistol. She can swipe the cupcake that the dog stole off the counter and eat it in three bites as she escapes down the hall; always says “pease” and “thank you” and “bwess you”; will climb anything she can get her belly onto; loves Minnie Mouse; and is obsessed with looking at pictures on peoples’ phones.

The baby is the sweetest little guy. He is just three months old, but has the sweetest smile and a great head of hair. He was our biggest surprise after my Adiana procedure apparently didn’t heal correctly (and the doctor couldn’t read an x-ray right to let me know). It was very difficult to come to terms with having a third baby, especially so soon after just having one; but it’s working out alright so far.

Except that I am bat-shit crazy most of the time trying to keep up with the kids, the housework, and any other obligations there might be. Fortunately, The Man has really picked up most of the day to day housework slack and the Oldest is mostly willing to help pick up after his sister.

For a while I was really trying to just get it all done all the time, on about 3 hours of sleep and eight hours of working outside the home each day. Lately we’ve developed a better routine of just getting done what has to be done to keep the house from being an actual health hazard and ensuring everyone has a clean shirt and underpants for the next day. We’ve started exercising more, but not at the same time; so we each get some time to do what we want to do and no one is left at home with both little kids resenting that they aren’t having their turn.

The biggest change I have made is to focus more on what I am doing instead of trying to play and clean and go through the mail and make a grocery list and help with homework and make dinner and have an adult conversation all at once. I was so overwhelmed with my attempt to multi-task. Now I try to just do one thing (sometimes two, it’s hard to focus when you’re sleep deprived, and I forget what I am actually supposed to be doing) at a time. When I start feeling really grouchy at the kids, the house, or whatever, I make an effort to pick my battles and be more patient. That’s usually when the little one will bite the back of my leg because I took the scissors away from her (I don’t know how she finds them, I never can!), or the a-hole cat will steal the hotdog out of the middle of my chili dog while I am looking for someone’s blanket.

The other great big benefit to having nearly every waking moment filled with something that needs to get done is that I have mostly stopped smoking. I just don’t have time and I really don’t miss it. I don’t sit and watch TV for hours at time anymore either; if I do, I feel guilty that I could be doing something else.

It really is a great life; I just have to remind myself of that sometimes. I think more sleep would help. Also if the a-hole cat would stop stealing my dinner.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Fiction Friday Challenge ~ Be nice or I'll write about you


I sat on the couch in a state of suspended animation. I couldn't even begin to process the information my mother had just thrown at me so bluntly, as though it bore no consequences in my life. 

If I was smart, I would leave. I would go for a walk, try to clear my head. I would step out the door of the house and find myself magnetically drawn to the tree like I always was. I would walk to the opposite side of this magnificent specimen and find the spot where I used to sit when I was a child searching the universe for meaning in whatever troubled me at the time. I would settle in between the exposed roots, in the spot that was made just for me, and I would sit with this for however long it too to make sense of it all in my head.

I didn't leave. 

I sat there on the sofa in disbelief. Even though I had no reason to doubt what she'd said, even though there were a lot of things that suddenly made sense now, even still I didn't want it to be true.

Then it suddenly occurred to me that this wasn't just about me. 

I had a sister. The thing I had always wanted most in the world had come true, and though it was far from the ideal set of circumstances, it was real. She was real. 

I had to find her. 

In that moment, I found a new sense of determination. I had a sister and I was going to find her.  

Mother walked back into the room. She seemed somehow fortified by all this, as though the words that had just come out of her mouth had released a burden from her chest, lifted a weight from her shoulders. This was not the same woman I had driven home from the hospital just moments ago. 

She was different.

She was carrying a plate with her sandwich. The same sandwich she'd eaten every single day of my life that I was aware of, save the rare occasions when we were out somewhere. Then she'd inevitably order the same sandwich, turkey on rye, no cheese or mayonnaise, one piece of lettuce and a pickle spear on the side. The sandwich that I had said that I would make her when she was tired and weak, the sandwich that I had made only about a million times before, the sandwich that was resting on her plate now.

How long had I been sitting here on the couch, unmoved?

She sat at the table as she always did, arranged her napkin on her lap, then began the long and arduous process of picking at the food until approximately half of it had been consumed. She never ate the crust, and cut it off with the butter knife first. Then she took tiny bird-like bites, chewing each one methodically, washing every single one down with a drink of water.  She always left a good portion of the sandwich intact, and always ate exactly three bites out of the pickle.

The right side of her jaw moved methodically, as she always chewed predominately on that side. When you watch someone eat the same thing every day for most of your life, you notice these things. And they annoy you.

I was annoyed with her.

Not for what she had just told me, but for how. For the fact that she only deemed it necessary to tell me now because of money, as if that was what I cared about at all. For the fact that she seemed so cold and detached from it all. For the fact that she chided me for asking if she was sure, when she had provided absolutely no information to back up her allegations.

That was about to change.

I should have gone for a walk.

She finished picking at her food, wiped her mouth and pushed the chair back away from the table. She stood slowly, deliberately, and walked towards me.

I still hadn't moved, but instead had sat there the entire time she ate, just watching her. It suddenly occurred to me I had done that, and that certainly must have been a long while now, as I knew how long it took for her to eat.

I felt twinges of guilt for doing that, but then rationalized that I was probably in shock or something, and thought for half a second that maybe she understood that.

She sat beside me, her body turned towards me, though her eyes seemed to look anywhere and everywhere but directly at me. She seemed nervous, as though she was searching for something, seeking something.

The floodgates opened.

He loved her, not me. He stayed only because he felt like he had to, but he really wanted to leave. He wanted to be away from me forever, he wanted to start his life over with her. He loved you though, and that's why he stayed. He was never here though, not after it all started, and certainly after that girl was born.

Abigail, you mean? I asked.

Yes, her. He was walking on cloud nine when she was born, and he was so happy. He tried to show me pictures of her, but I wanted nothing to do with her. I hated her. I didn't want to hate her, she was an innocent child and this truly had nothing to do with her, but I wanted no part of her life. I wanted her to disappear, to be gone forever. I wanted to believe that none of this was happening, that he wasn't in love with someone else. 

It was all so unfair. You were a teenager, spending more and more time with your friends, as you should have been. That time was supposed to be our time, we had planned it that way. Instead of doing all the things we planned together, he started over with someone else. He did them all with her. 

And then he got sick, and I had to take care of him. Then he died.

She was sobbing. The tears wouldn't stop coming, and I saw how deeply this had wounded her. Had she really kept all this in for all these years, never telling anyone aside from the lawyer? I didn't want to ask that question, but I felt like I already knew the answer.

I didn't have to ask it.

She had carried this burden alone for over half my lifetime.

My heart broke for her.

I scooted over towards where she sat now, hunched over, with her forehead in her hands. I handed her a tissue and put my arms around her.

There was nothing I could do or say that would ever make this better for her, and I knew that already. The damage was done, the hurt was inflicted and he was gone. Dead.

At peace or whatever.

Mother wasn't perfect. Far from it, actually. I knew that as well as anyone would, obviously, but it was no excuse for what he had put her through. None.

She sobbed and sobbed until she ran out of tears, and I held her until the sun grew heavy in the sky.

I knew then that I had to find my sister, but that Mother must never know.

I knew then that I needed to protect her now, that it was my job from here on out.

I knew now that no one else ever had.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
This post is a part of a collaborative project including many writers from different backgrounds, all writing on the same prompt each week. After taking a break from the challenge, I am back (and hope to stay a while). The first post in this story can be found here, the second here, the third here. Please check out the pieces written by the others in the group. I will add their links as they post.

http://katbiggie.com/friday-fiction-friends-part-8/#sthash.bFKTqYw3.p3H8JN3B.dpbs

http://worldsworstmoms.com/friday-fiction-part-18-eric-wakes-up/

http://clearlykristal.com/?p=3796

This week's prompt:
“You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should've behaved better.” —Anne Lamott

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Let The Chaos Begin

Today is the last day of school, which means that I will spend the entire day running around, attending bbqs, picnics and kickball games. I'll watch my kids say goodbye to their friends, some of which they will see next week, some next year, some never again. I'll become a pack mule at some point, carrying whatever they need to bring home, then more.

Someone will be happy the year is over, someone else will cry.

By tomorrow afternoon, someone will be bored.

This summer will be a little different than ever before. One of my kids is going to summer school. Four days a week, four hours a day, almost all summer.

Our "free" time won't be. We'll have to be up and going even earlier than during the regular school year.

This is complicating things. A lot.

I'm making lists of all the things we are planning to do this summer. Art projects, science projects, handwriting practice. Reading, creative writing and more.

They'll be painting things, blowing things up, using their imagination and learning new things without realizing they're learning. I'm tricky that way. I'll share the cool art and science projects on my Facebook page.

Here's some of what we'll be up to:

The 30 Day Photo Challenge
The kids have always participated and this year will be no exception. It begins June first and runs through the month. If you'd like to participate, this year will run a little different out of necessity. I started a Facebook group where the pictures need to be posted, and you need to join that to do it. I will compile them into albums and share them on my main Facebook page. At the end, the contest will run here on the blog. The prompts and rules can be found here.


The 12 Books in 12 Weeks Summer Reading Challenge
Starting next Monday, we are reading one book a week as a family. All books chosen have been made into movies, and we will be watching those at the end of the week. I chose the books I did because they are the books I read and loved as a kid, and because they don't seem to be read in school as often as they used to be. Most of them are classics, many are available free from online libraries or brick and mortar libraries, from discounted Kindle editions. I found several of the books in the dollar section of stores, others in used book stores. The list of books we'll be covering can be found here. I will host discussions of the books on my Facebook page throughout the weeks. I hope you'll join us!

The Summer School of Rock
I started teaching my kids about rock music a few years ago, and it's morphed into this crazy project. Last summer, I covered about 25 bands. I'm almost done with an A to Z music challenge. When I am done with that, the Summer School of Rock will be resurrected. There are so many artists and bands to cover, so little time. My kids have all developed a deep love and appreciation of different kinds of music as a result of this effort, and it has been a blast. Until Jack Black actually starts hijacking music classes, I'll keep doing this.

Summer. Bring it.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Writer's Workshop Wednesday ~ Krisa from Saltwater Sessions

Welcome to Writer's Workshop Wednesday!  This is my way of paying it forward to all the people out there who want to start writing, but don't have their own blogs yet, or who are established writers that are looking to appeal to a different audience.  I have also opened this up to those who would like to post anonymously about topics that are too difficult to write about publicly. Each week, I will host one or two posts by different writers.

I hope that you enjoy this series, I hope you find some new writers to follow, I hope this helps them out and I hope we can all learn something from them!

Up now is Krisa from Saltwater Sessions. She is a ridiculously talented writer with a brand new blog and Facebook page. She and I should run away together and be journalists. For serious. She is one of a handful of people I know who seems to see the world through the same lens I do, she's very analytical and has a gift for persuasive writing. I hope you'll enjoy this piece today, as it provides much perspective into who she is and how she views the rest of humanity.

Enjoy!



Growing up multi-cultural

I grew up in a multi-cultural environment, but not in the traditional definition. I’m a BRAT – an acronym and a “subculture” according to Wikipedia. There are many versions of what the acronym represents – from “British Regiment Attached Transport” to “Born, Raised and Trapped/Transferred.” I have three home towns as I see it, but am like a dandelion – I’ll flourish wherever the wind blows me.

courtesy of You're Probably a Military Brat If...
As a brat, you don’t see races, religions or other differences the way civilians do. We see shades of green (Army), blue (Air Force & Navy) and tan (Marines.) The rivalry amongst brats is a friendly one. I am a zoomie’s brat. (USAF all the way!)

My dad was on his second tour in Southeast Asia when I was born. I didn’t meet him until I was six months old. I’ve lived in seven states and two continents. I attended three different kindergartens.

What I mean by multi-cultural is that friends weren’t Black or White, Asian or Hispanic. My mom affectionately tells me of my best friend in Virginia, who I called my chocolate friend. When I was in elementary school in Utah, I was exposed to meals and traditions with my dad’s students from Israel and Egypt – simultaneously. Because so many families were going from there to bases in Spain, they were teaching us basic Spanish skills and customs in second and third grades. I lived in Utah’s Wasatch Valley at Hill, Air Force Base, for almost five years.

It was in Utah, of all places, that I actually experienced prejudice the first time. It was early in the Reagan years. The economy resembled a lot of what it does now. My mom, a former teacher was trying to get a job off base. Everything hinged on what congregation or church she belonged to. Alas, we weren’t Mormon, and without that connection, it was some pretty tight times. The base was a refuge in and of itself when I was what we’d call a “tween” today. It may sound odd, but that perception of being an outcast resonated with me so much. In fact, so much so that despite how beautiful Utah is, learning to ski at Snowbird, visiting Park City before “Sundance” and the awesomeness that is the Bonneville Salt Flats – that I vowed even in my early adulthood if I had to drive from Colorado to Nevada I’d drive around.

I think that’s where I started to really develop my intolerance for discrimination, and I’m sure that Utah has changed in the past 30 years.

My hometown in Ohio.
From Utah, Dad was sent to Germany. While on the waiting list for base housing – my mom, sister and I lived with my grandparents in our family’s small Ohio river hometown. That too was a culture shock of sorts. There was nobody of color or ethnicity. Everyone there had always gone to the same schools, churches, and social clubs. To me, it was weird with a capital WEIRD. Even though my family had been there four generations, it was almost what I’d associate with a definition of “Stepford” now. Well, an economically-depressed Stepford with no industry or businesses.

First field trip in Germany.
Germany, however, was awesome. I was 10 when I arrived, in the middle of January. Dad picked us up from the airport in a borrowed VW Bus, and drove us the three hours from Frankfurt to the resort,

Stasee, where we stayed until housing was ready. Indoor, heated pool in the middle of winter. What do you mean we have to wear swim caps, and be out by a certain time for “adult” swimming? Yeah, tell that to a ten year old and see how well that flies.

Our school field trips were castles and other countries. I opted out of Paris and Moscow, but went to Berlin in 1987. My first trip in fifth grade was to a 2000 year old Roman city with a palace and garden built by Charlemagne, and an amphitheater where Christians were tossed to lions. We saw battlefields where wars over land, religion, and world dominance were fought. When you go to Anne Frank’s house at 12, right after reading her diary in school, and then follow up shortly after with a concentration camp visit, you very quickly realize how very fragile life can be and how easily people can learn or be taught to hate. During the height of the cold war, we went on a trip to Berlin. Troop train through East Germany with many checkpoints and many guns pointed at us kids. In the dead of winter, we saw the wall, keeping families and friends divided. The burned Reichstag with bullet holes. And through all that, we weren’t black, white, or anything else but American.

When we left Germany five years later, we ended up on Florida’s “Emerald Coast.” You can get to Alabama in three directions with less than a 45 minute drive. In half that distance, you’ll run into some of the scariest racism and prejudices I’ve ever encountered in my life. Closer to the bases, it wasn’t nearly as prevalent. But boy howdy, if you got north of the interstate and such – the divisions were obvious and long standing. College in Alabama wasn’t a whole lot better, even though my college was one of the first to integrate – even as early as pre-WWII.

Even as an adult, with my own life experiences behind me, I think back on how lucky I was to have such a multi-cultural military upbringing. I’m not saying the vagabond life is for everyone. Frankly I think some of the rules & regs I lived by then are why I cannot leave walls white now, or seem to just hold on to everything, or hate moving. (As an example, I repainted my bedroom when my parents bought a home three times in four years. The last time was nearly 20 years ago. My old room at my folks’ place is the only one that’s not in shades of blue or blue gray, and they’ve never changed it. I visit, and I want to.)

I cannot stand racial or religious stereotypes. I advocate vocally for equal rights – not just of women but for LGBT. Bullying doesn’t wash with me. To some of my friends and even extended family, my stance on these issues baffles them. (Though really I wonder how, I’ve always been that way.) Seeing people treated unfairly for reasons beyond their control riles me up faster than anything else. And of the BRATs I know, I’d wager 90-percent or more feel the same.

I live in a racially mixed neighborhood in Orlando, and it’s pretty interesting to say the least. Any given weekend my neighbors will have a hoe-down or a fiesta. And that’s fine by me. Other acquaintances have equated the neighborhood to being a less-affluent, less desirable place to live, because of the ethnic makeup.

But, I don’t think I could stand living in a white-washed homogenous world. There’s too much to miss when you do.

This is the first in a three-part series about growing up in the military and how it’s shaped me. The remaining two parts will be featured on my own blog, Saltwater Sessions, over the next week.

How To Help Oklahoma ~ courtesy of Brandon from My Own Private Idaho

My heart always breaks a little when a major disaster happens. Hurricane, Tornado, Earthquake, Tsunami… Man-made disasters are always horrible, but these ‘acts of God,’ these nature-related disasters haunt me.

Mother Earth can be a cruel bitch sometimes.


You can do your part. And if you have a roof over your head and money in your pocket, you should do your part. As you know, you can text ‘REDCROSS’ to 90999 and donate $10 from your phone. The Red Cross is the most-recommended method to donate, because you know they’re not a scam. It’s quick and easy.

Sadly, so many people create ‘relief’ scams to get money. You’ll see them online, you’ll see mass emails, or maybe get an automated call. Please ignore these.

However, in my opinion, there is one better way to donate your money. The Red Cross is fantastic, and can do big things, but whenever you can, please donate to a local Community Action Agency.

The Community Action Agency covering Moore, Oklahoma is based out of Oklahoma City. Their website is http://caaofokc.org


While the Red Cross can do big things for communities, it often takes them time to mobilize. They lean on local agencies and first-responders to start the healing process, which is where CAA of OKC comes in. This agency helps maintain the local food bank, and has home-building and weatherization departments. While families are displaced or in need, CAA of OKC can help fill the void while the Red Cross is still working on their action plan.

I used to work at a similar agency in Eastern Idaho. The people there were the most caring, selfless people I have ever met. The agency itself did some amazing things for the most-needy, and the staff made miracles happen on a daily basis.

So please, do what you can. By donating money, they can buy supplies, food, blankets and secure shelter for those in need. Whether you support the Red Cross or a local Food Bank of Community Action Agency, please do what you can.

Red Cross:
Text ‘REDCROSS’ to 90999 to donate $10 from your phone instantly.

Community Action Agency of OKC: 319 SW 25th St, Oklahoma City, OK 73109 / (405) 232-0199 / execdir@caaofokc.org / www.caaofokc.org

Brandon is the blogger behind www.lostinidaho.me, a humor and culture-shock blog chronicling the life of a California transplant now living in rural Idaho.

Thank you for sharing these resources, Brandon.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Things That Piss Me Off Tuesday - the extra dose of the gays edition

Kaitlin Hunt
By now, most of you have probably heard about this case at least a little bit. An 18 year old girl, Kaitlin Hunt, was charged with lewd and lascivious acts on a minor for having engaged in sex acts with her 15 year old girlfriend. There is a lot of conflicting information online, and until the trial, it will probably be impossible to know for sure what happened and when. It is known that the so-called victim's parents knew of the contact prior to Hunt's 18th birthday, but chose not to contact the authorities until after she turned 18, and that they did so primarily because they disapprove of the homosexual nature of the contact.

I won't speculate on the facts here since they are in dispute, but there are a few issues at hand. First, if all the contact happened prior to Hunt's 18th birthday, it's doubtful that she will be convicted. She has, however, been expelled from school at the request of the victim's parents. Second, the victim has maintained all along that she consented to the acts, but in the eyes of the law in Florida it is irrelevant. Minors under 16 cannot consent to sexual activity under any circumstances. If she was 16, she could have. Third, if there was contact after Hunt turned 18, then it is technically illegal.

Here's where I struggle. The so-called victim's parents seem heavily motivated by their daughter's orientation. I question whether this would even be an issue if Hunt was male. If they would have even called the police. I am quite disturbed by the fact that they intentionally waited until Hunt turned 18 to alert the authorities. It almost morphs them into being an accessory of the crime if they knew the contact was ongoing but elected to wait to call the police until the offender was of age. Where are their actual motivations here then - to "protect" their daughter, or seek vengeance? 

It's entirely possible she's only being charged because of the parents' dislike of homosexuality. It certainly seems that way.

There are "Romeo and Juliet" provisions in Florida state law that will allow the court to forgo the labeling of Hunt as a sex offender if convicted, but they do not make the contact legal.

If the contact was indeed illegal, then it was illegal. Period. Her orientation shouldn't matter. The laws may be overly harsh, but that's neither here nor there. The law is the law.

At the end of the day, this is a case that I will be watching with great interest. I remember being a teenager in love, throwing caution to the wind and having no awareness of whether having sex was legal or not. Had the girlfriend in this case been 16 instead of 15, we wouldn't even be talking about this.

Morality Clauses, Divorce and Texas
Texas doesn't just refuse to allow gays to marry, no sir. Everything is bigger in Texas. It prohibits them from doing many other things. They can't execute many of the legal documents straight people can, and they aren't allowed the same protections when it comes to custody of children.

Two weeks ago, Page Price was given 30 days to move out of her lesbian partner's home after a judge decided to enforce a morality clause in the divorce agreement between her partner Carolyn Compton and her ex-husband.  He brought the enforcement motion before the court.

The morality clause dictates that Compton cannot have anyone she is dating or intimate with in her home after 9pm. Since they aren't allowed to get married under state law, the judge said she has to leave even though they have been living together for almost three years and have a very stable household.

Carolyn cannot marry her girlfriend, but her ex-husband theoretically could if he chose. Texas courts also refuse to acknowledge gay marriages or unions from other states, leaving gay couples no other option in these cases, they are at the mercy of the court.

The court adjudicated by an openly conservative judge in this case.

Mark Carson
Mark was walking through the West Village area of Manhattan, just blocks from the Stonewall Inn, with his partner last weekend when a man walked up to him, called him a faggot and shot him in the head. 

The suspect is in custody, but this crime has rocked one of the most progressive, inclusive neighborhoods in the nation. This is an area where the LGBT community has probably felt the safest the longest, and even still there are violent crimes like this one.

Attacks on the LGBT community in the area have roughly doubled this year.

Biblical marriage = free chicken
Leave it to Chick fil-A. Handing out free food to those male/female couples who attend a Biblical marriage church event.


I wish they would knock this crap off. They make a damn tasty sandwich.

Whatever.

It's a free country. You can preach against the gays, I just won't eat your delicious food. It would have been pretty funny if the gays and the lesbians had descended on the meeting, partnered up and taken the cards though. Am I right???

Stefon is leaving SNL
Bill Hader is leaving the show. I'm so sad. What will I do? I won't know where the hottest club in New York is this season, and I won't have anyone to tell me what a human 8 ball or a human fanny pack is!!!

I will miss him so, but at least he went out spectacularly, wedding Seth Meyers in a beautiful ceremony.


I leave you with this for the week.

I've been told this isn't my fight. I've been told I should stop talking about it. I've been told that I'm wrong, that I've given up on my own hypothetically gay children.

Fuck that noise.

I will fight for equality until I don't have to anymore. If you can't handle that, too damn bad.

No freedom 'til we're equal. Damn right I support it.


Some Tragedies Cannot Be Avoided

A piece of my heart is in Oklahoma this morning. Those I know with family in the area finally received word that everyone was safe, even though they appear to have lost everything.

Over twenty children are still missing, presumed dead, drowned in the water beneath the rubble of the school. Their parents, waiting, hoping, praying for a miracle.

Almost as soon as the tornado hit, people started asking questions. Why the school didn't have a basement, why there wasn't a safe room, why they didn't bus the kids out, why they didn't evacuate.

As though any of those things would have guaranteed their safety.

Most of the kids here drowned. Going lower under ground would not have helped them. Basements are not built in the area because the soil cannot support them. Talking about something that is impossible as though it is does no one any favors.

The sustained winds were over 200mph. A safe room cannot withstand that.

Buses aren't usually stored on school property,and even if they were, who's to say that they'd drive away from danger instead of towards more of it, now outside of a sturdy building and in a metal box that could easily be picked up and thrown by the winds?

They had 16 minutes warning.

On foot, with that many children, they would have been lucky to get half a mile away. The tornado was wider than that. The debris field was even bigger. Being outside would have endangered them more because of flying projectiles.

Some of those teachers used their own bodies as shields to protect the children.

There is quite literally nothing that would have guaranteed safety of everyone in Moore yesterday. These storms are too big, the winds are too fast.

I question why so many people rush to lay blame in situations like this one. Even when there is a clear place to blame, as with school shootings, the quest for blame pushes on.

People want so desperately to have someone to blame because doing so somehow insulates them. If this is someone else's fault, they can do something to stop it. To prevent it. To avoid death, fear and loss.

It's a fallacy.

Horrible, terrible things can happen to anyone. At any time. At the hands of another person, at the hands of mother nature.

It can happen to you. It can happen to me.

There is no way to keep everyone safe all the time.

I've lived through enough natural disasters myself to know that.

Five years ago, tomorrow, I spent time crammed like sardines in a tiny park bathroom with over fifty preschoolers, their parents and siblings while funnel clouds reached down from the sky above us. I knew in that moment that whether we lived or died was out of our hands.

I've never been so scared in my life, more for my children than myself.

I lived less than five miles from the epicenter of the Northridge earthquake when it hit in 1994. The sound was like something I can't even describe. The support beams in our house twisted and warped. The fault line ran down from the hills, through the neighborhood, and directly under our house. We were without utilities for days. My life was possibly saved only because I had just taken heavy items off the shelf on the wall above my bed the weekend before. Had I left them there, I may not be here today.

We were evacuated during the Cedar Fire storm in San Diego in 2003. We thought we ran towards safety, we actually were headed toward more danger and just didn't know it. Smoke, like storms, obscure your view and you can't tell where is safe and where isn't. We'd be driving through smoke and suddenly come up on a fire line with almost no warning.

Living through these experiences has taught me a few things.

- Prepare for what you can.
- Keep emergency supplies on hand, water, shelf stable food, blankets and shoes especially.
- Have at least one radio that doesn't require electricity (we have a hand crank radio and flashlight).
- Practice safety drills.
- Have a family emergency plan.
- Have a clear idea what you would take if evacuated. You should be able to grab it and get out in minutes.

Even then, there is no way to guarantee safety.

I can tell you that when you experience these things, adrenaline kicks in. You will be capable of doing things you never imagined possible. You will be calmer than you think.

Think rationally and prepare, but appreciate the power of nature.  We can't always outrun her.

Monday, May 20, 2013

This is why we can't have nice things...or any of the things for that matter....

A few days ago, I reached down for my purse while I was stopped at a red light. I rifled through it a bit, looking for a piece of gum. My husband had just bought me a couple packages a few days before hand.

I didn't find one. Not a single piece.

When I got home, I went through my purse.  This is what I found.

- my wallet (thank god)
- three inhalers
- three single dose containers of benadryl liquid
- two unwrapped tampons, covered in crumbs
- two tampon wrappers that had been folded like origami
- one tube of chapstick with bite marks in it
- nail clippers
- three pens
- a bottle opener (don't judge)
- two hot wheels cars
- a tiny dinosaur
- three army guys
- two pairs of earrings, neither of which is mine
- fourteen receipts
- four expired coupons
- two completely empty packages of gum

I am, apparently, the keeper of all things. Except the things I would ever want or need, like a fresh unwrapped tampon or chapstick that hasn't been chewed on or a piece of gum.

Then I got to thinking about all the things that I can't have anymore. Forget the nice things, we all know that once you have kids you resign yourself to living in Target clearance rack clothing, vacationing at the local pool and considering anyplace you didn't cook as "going out to eat".  My furniture is all beat to hell, the walls aren't faring better, and don't even ask me about the floors in my house.

It's not just the nice clothes, fancy vacations and lavish dinners that we're missing. It's not just customized "distressed" furniture and stained carpets we have to live with.

It's the fact that I can't ever find any of the things, the totally ordinary things, that should be in my possession. Either I can't buy them, I can't ever find them, or I have to hide them like a ninja.

In no particular order...

* Gum - I like to chew gum, as horrid as a habit as it is, and as bad as it is for someone with a history of TMJ to do. Especially when I've made a run for the border and have onion breath or drank a pot of coffee and smell like a middle school science teacher, I'd like to have a piece on hand to mask my dragon breath.  But no. A package of gum lasts about as long as a can of Pringles in this house, and it doesn't matter where I try to stash it. They.Always.Find.It.

* Tape - I could buy six rolls of tape A DAY and there would never be any in the house. I'm fairly certain that the kids have a sixth sense about tape, and they can smell it when it's in the drawer. Ohhhhh, tape.....what can we tape???

TAPE ALL THE THINGS!!!!!!

Two minutes later, the tape is all gone.


* Pens - I buy pens in bulk. Monthly. I buy pens all the freaking time. We have a pen container on the side of the fridge which is where the pens are supposed to live when no one is using them. The pens? They grow legs and walk away. I NEVER have a pen, I can NEVER find a pen, and I can never find anything to write with that isn't a dull crayon when I'm on the phone and actually need to write something down.

* Scissors - What the hell happens to the scissors??? This is another thing I buy way too many of. I'm convinced there is an office supply troll under the stairs in the basement hoarding all the things. If you're lucky enough to locate a pair of scissors in this house when you need one, odds are the blades will be coated in dried ice pop goo and crusty yogurt from small people using them to open tubes of ooey goodness.

* Drinks - If I have any beverage in a cup with a lid and a straw, somehow the kids believe it belongs to them. My diet cherry cokes are pilfered, stolen, whisked away and sucked down like there are no drinks anywhere else in the free world and there will never be another soda for the rest of eternity. No, go ahead kid. I was totally done with that....and now that you backwashed, it's ALL yours. Have at it.

* Hairbrushes - Considering how rarely my daughters actually brush their hair, one would think that brushes should be easy to find. Not so! There have to be at least 20 hairbrushes in this house, but good luck finding one. You'll have to excuse the rat's nest.

* Girl Scout Cookies - I've hidden them in bathrooms, in the basement, under the kitchen sink, in the freezer, inside of other boxes in the pantry. To no avail. SOMEONE always finds them, and NO ONE ever knows who. Amazing how that works.

* Chocolate Chips - Candy, cookies or any other treat-like-food-items are fairly obvious, and when any of that finds it's way into my life, it quickly vanishes. Chocolate chips, however, were more surprising. More than once I have bought a bag to make cookies, and more than once I've found an empty bag stashed behind a box of crackers in the pantry, random chips rained down on every shelf below. It's your fault I don't make you cookies, you little chocolate thieves.

* Anything you'd actually need in the bathroom - Tampons, pads, ointments, creams, powders...you know....any of that stuff that you would like to be able to keep in the bathroom, but can't because if you do their radar will activate immediately. You'll find all the pads stuck to the wall or an entire box of tampons flushed or the cream and ointment squeezed all over the sink. Oh, and powder....that stuff gets everywhere. Don't make the mistake of thinking you can put that stuff in a sensible place. Noooooo. Plan accordingly. Or waddle. Either way.

* Good leftovers - This one might sound crazy, but just trust me. My children have been well trained to eat leftovers. Too well trained. If there is something good in the fridge, you'd best rise early and hide it.  Now that the oldest is in middle school and the cafeteria has microwaves, everything is fair game. Oh, all the times I have been giddy with anticipation at the idea of having leftover homemade pizza or something else awesome only to realize it was swiped hours earlier by some kid feasting it up at school.

What about you all?  What things can't you have anymore?

My Friends Are Crazy, My Children Are Goats and This Happened

I've written before about the connections I have made with other bloggers online. About how some of the people who understand me the best live inside my computer and I've never actually met them in real life.

I was chatting with one of those people a while back, Lillian from It's a Dome Life. Our conversations always have a way of meandering.

Yeah. That's a word for it.

Meandering.

We talk about everything from the most practical to the most outlandish. We discuss blogging platforms and fan reach and creative ideas. We talk about making pants for squirrels, then red satin lined capes.

No, I'm not kidding.

Anyhow, I was chatting with her a while back and somehow we got onto the topic of kids eating paper. (seriously, don't ask how we got onto the topic, because I honestly can't remember...but that's how our discussions go).

I told her my kids were goats.

Not literally, of course. They are human children, not goat kids.

They all, however, went through goat-like phases where they ate paper. They ripped apart books and magazines and it.all.went.in.their.mouths.

Like goats.

I had forgotten about that stage until my brother brought my niece to the house, and she was firmly in goat stage.

Lilly laughed because somehow Tiny Small must not have gone through goat phase, and the mere suggestion that my kids are goats gave her an idea.

I love when Lilly gets crazy ideas from me, because they turn into something awesome.

She made this.


Didn't I tell you that Lilly is an amazing artist???

She is.

Her collage work is nothing short of stupendousness. (yes, that's a word. I just made it up.)

She painted the backgrounds, found goats (where she found so many goats, I am not sure), then made my kids into the kids I said they were.

I'm the queen bee at the top, logically.

I LOVE THIS SO MUCH.

Her talent is beyond anything I could comprehend. I can barely draw stick figures, and she inspires me with every piece she creates. The fact that she made this FOR ME makes me want to cry and laugh and hop in my car and drive to her house and hug her.

I hosted a guest post of hers a while back, and you can find it here. Included in that are several of her watercolor pieces.

She is one of the kindest, most talented people I know. You should go check her out, I'm sure that you will love her as much as I do. AND she wears tutus.

Her Blog.

Her Facebook Page.

Her etsy shop.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Parenting: It's Not For Wimps

Originally, the title was "Parenting: It's Not For Pussies".

Yeah, yeah, yeah....I know my title is offensive.

It's also true.

I laugh and laugh and laugh these days when a friend of mine is overwhelmed with potty training, or they're tired because the baby isn't sleeping, or they are struggling to move from two naps to one.

I remember those days. I do. They suck, for sure, especially when you're so tired that you barely make it through each day living on coffee.

I also remember thinking to myself, it'll just be easier after _______ happens, filling in the blank with whatever crappy stage or transition I was contending with at the time.

I know now how wrong I was.

Parenting doesn't get easier.

Sure, the hands on physical involvement part does get easier. Maybe. It's not like you're still wiping an eight year old's butt three times a day or anything. For all the stuff that you get to stop doing, though, there tends to be something else that comes along and takes that place. The emergency runs to school because someone forgot their trumpet. The I need a posterboard for a project today requests. The hey mom, by the way, I signed you up to make tacos for my entire class tomorrow admissions at 10pm the night before.

In addition to all that stuff, you have to deal with other things you never had to when they were little and tiny, when they were confined to playpens and car seats, when you knew exactly where they were at all times and with whom.

Back then they needed you to do everything for them, but you didn't have to worry about friends or bullies or test scores or playdates or sports teams. 

You didn't have to deal with parents who parent completely differently than you do or the children they raise or the inevitable conflicts between the two.

You didn't have to deal with helping kids navigate relationships with teachers or coaches. 

You didn't have to deal with a child who cries for thirty minutes before soccer practice, convinces you that you are ruining her life, only to have her floating in the clouds an hour later because she now loves soccer again.

You didn't have to deal with mean girls, drama queens and habitual intimidators.

You didn't have to deal with giving them tiny pieces of independence, never knowing if they'll be responsible enough with it to keep it.

You didn't have to deal with broken hearts.

You didn't have to deal with social anxiety, with fear, with depression. 

You didn't have to deal with kids who'd been kicked out of their social circles for reasons they can't even understand.

You didn't have to deal with trying to guess which school was going to be the best fit for them.

You didn't have to deal with puberty.

You didn't have to deal with trusting your kids to go out into the world and be the good people you've taught them to be, knowing that you actually have no control over whether they live up to that most of the time.

Last weekend, on Mother's Day no less, I checked my son's grades. 3 D's, all because he had missing assignments.

His mother was not pleased.

This happened a few semesters ago, but only in one class. I didn't call the teacher, I didn't email the teacher. I didn't write him reminder notes. I didn't.

I told him that it was his responsibility to get whatever was missing turned in, and that he had to get it in before grades were final. I told him that there would be consequences if he didn't, and that I was not fixing this for him. He did it, pulled all his grades back up.

At conferences, one of his teachers asked me what had happened. I told her that I forced him to take care of it alone, without my help.

She thanked me, then asked when I was going to teach a class on middle school parenting.

At the beginning of the year, we made a list for him, in order of priority for the activities he wanted to participate in. School first, then trumpet practice, then extra curricular sports he signed up for, then scouts, then guitar, then everything else in the known world.

If he wanted to do the things at the end of the list, he had to do everything before it first. Most of the time, he has. But not always.

He slacked again. I caught him again. His grades are back up now, save the one that the teacher hasn't entered the grades into the system yet.

He worked his ass off this week to do it. He didn't get to do much of the fun stuff he normally would have. There were some tears when I told him that I wasn't discussing his birthday party until after his grades were final. He knows I'll cancel it. He knows he will get that guitar taken away. He knows that he'll lose the video games. He knows I'm not kidding.

He'll be a responsible adult someday if it kills me, but not because I made things easy for him...because I force him to deal with the consequences if he doesn't do what he's supposed to.

Consistency blows. Following through hurts. Forcing them to learn these lessons is hard.

Then again, no one ever said parenting was easy.

I've stopped believing that it's ever going to get easier.

Friday, May 17, 2013

A to Z Music Challenge - T is for Tony! Toni! Tone!, TLC, A Tribe Called Quest, Timbaland, 311, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Tears for Fears, Tenacious D, Robin Thicke, The Temptations, Tina Turner, Third Eye Blind, Tiffany, Tim McGraw and Justin Timberlake

I know, I know...there are a ton of people I left out. I know. I know!


Tony! Toni! Tone!
One of my favorite harmony singing r&b groups of the 90s. They really need to do something about making music like this again. What do the kids in high school dance slow dances to anymore????


TLC
Funky, rapping, singing ladies with more than a little bit of crazy added just for good measure. One of the most successful music trios ever, they crossed genres and were wildly successful for a long time, until Left Eye died in a car accident over ten years ago.


A Tribe Called Quest
They weren't just a hip hop group, they crossed boundaries too, into...of all places alternative music, and helped lay the foundation for a lot of the music played on those stations these days.


Timbaland
Rapper, producer, this guy is a force to be reckoned with in the industry. There probably aren't many famous hip hop artists who's career he hasn't somehow touched.


311
Alternative band with a reputation for bad behavior, they integrate reggae, funk, rap and rock all together into what can only be described as the music you listen to while drinking beer on a patio or beach somewhere.


Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
He's never been the fastest, the hardest or the edgiest, but this man has been making music for what seems like forever.


Tears for Fears
English new wave band with a firm grip on many of my memories from that decade.


Tenacious D
I love this damn band, mostly because I love me some Jack Black something fierce. He's funny as shit, totally self deprecating and knows a thing or two about music. I wish he'd come here and hijack my kids' music classes.


Robin Thicke
I will completely admit that I cannot watch his videos without laughing at the sexy faces he makes. It really is ridiculous and something to behold. His voice is pretty freaking amazing though. So there's that.


The Temptations
Are they a boy band? Were they the first, best one? I don't know...but they did harmonies, matching outfits and tight choreography long before anyone else did.


Tina Turner
Good lord, this woman. She has better looking legs than most 18 year olds. Still. This was from four years ago. When she was 69 YEARS OLD. She is a.m.a.z.i.n.g.


Tiffany
The original Robin Sparkles, the mall rat, the queen of the teens. We all kinda wanted to be her for a while back in the day.


Tim McGraw
Just leave the hat on.



Justin Timberlake
Saved the best for last, I did. I love this man. When I get stranded on that deserted island someday, he's coming. And he's bringing the suit and tie.


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