Friday, November 9, 2012

Satire, obviously

Found the following on the internet and thought I would share it:

To the citizens of the United States of America from Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II:

In light of your immediate failure to financially manage yourselves and also in recent years your tendency to elect incompetent Presidents of the USA and therefore not able to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective immediately. (You should look up ‘revocation’ in the Oxford English Dictionary.)

Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will resume monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths, and territories (except Kansas, which she does not fancy).

Your new Prime Minister, David Cameron, will appoint a Governor for America without the need for further elections.

Congress and the Senate will be disbanded. A questionnaire may be circulated sometime next year to determine whether any of you noticed.

To aid in the transition to a British Crown dependency, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect:

1. The letter ‘U’ will be reinstated in words such as ‘colour,’ ‘favour,’ ‘labour’ and ‘neighbour.’ Likewise, you will learn to spell ‘doughnut’ without skipping half the letters, and the suffix ‘-ize’ will be replaced by the suffix ‘-ise.’Generally, you will be expected to raise your vocabulary to acceptable levels. (look up ‘vocabulary’).

2. Using the same twenty-seven words interspersed with filler noises such as ”like’ and ‘you know’ is an unacceptable and inefficient form of communication. There is no such thing as U.S. English. We will let Microsoft know on your behalf. The Microsoft spell-checker will be adjusted to take into account the reinstated letter ‘u' and the elimination of ‘-ize.’

3. July 4th will no longer be celebrated as a holiday.

4. You will learn to resolve personal issues without using guns, lawyers, or therapists. The fact that you need so many lawyers and therapists shows that you’re not quite ready to be independent. Guns should only be used for shooting grouse. If you can’t sort things out without suing someone or speaking to a therapist, then you’re not ready to shoot grouse.

5. Therefore, you will no longer be allowed to own or carry anything more dangerous than a vegetable peeler. Although a permit will be required if you wish to carry a vegetable peeler in public.

6. All intersections will be replaced with roundabouts, and you will start driving on the left side with immediate effect. At the same time, you will go metric with immediate effect and without the benefit of conversion tables. Both roundabouts and metrication will help you understand the British sense of humour.

7. The former USA will adopt UK prices on petrol (which you have been calling gasoline) of roughly $10/US gallon. Get used to it.

8.You will learn to make real chips. Those things you call French fries are not real chips, and those things you insist on calling potato chips are properly called crisps. Real chips are thick cut, fried in animal fat, and dressed not with catsup but with vinegar.

9. The cold, tasteless stuff you insist on calling beer is not actually beer at all. Henceforth, only proper British Bitter will be referred to as beer, and European brews of known and accepted provenance will be referred to as Lager. New Zealand beer is also acceptable, as New Zealand is pound for pound the greatest sporting nation on earth and it can only be due to the beer. They are also part of the British Commonwealth – see what it did for them. American brands will be referred to as Near-Frozen Gnat’s Urine, so that all can be sold without risk of further confusion.

God Save the Queen.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Menu Plans

I know that having a menu planned out can save a ton of time, energy, and money, but I still rarely do it. I regret this, because without the plan made out ahead of time, I tend to let things in the fridge pass their expiration date and have to throw things out. Such a waste, and I really hate waste. So since I have a few things that are going to expire soon, I'm writing out a list of dinners for the rest of the week.

Thursday (10/18) - Southern style biscuits and gravy (to use up the buttermilk)
Friday (10/19) - Mexican lasagna (we have about three dozen tortillas that need to be used up)
Saturday (10/20) - Chicken and White Bean Chili in homemade bread bowls (to use up salsa)
Sunday (10/21) - Homemade pizza (half a jar of pizza sauce needs to be used)

I'll try to post an upcoming menu plan every Sunday for the upcoming week, as well as listing any snacky-type foods I'm making to go with packed lunches and after-school snacks. For example, tonight I'm whipping up a quick batch of rice crispy bars. I substitute the butter called for in the recipe with peanut butter, and it's a great hit with the kiddos.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Supporting Sesame Street

At this point we've all heard the debate between Obama and Romney. I was hoping that there would be some fantastic talking points bandied around the internet in the days after the debate, and in truth there were several sites that did that. But more than any other statement, this quote from Romney has gotten the biggest response.

“I’m sorry Jim, I’m gonna stop the subsidy to PBS,” Romney told debate moderator Jim Lehrer, who is executive editor for PBS NewsHour. “I like PBS. I love Big Bird. I actually like you, too. But I’m not gonna keep on spending money on things to borrow money from China to pay for it.”

Within an hour of that statement, Big Bird memes started popping up on my facebook news feed (and I agree that several of them are hilarious, and I'll share some at the end of my post). At first it seemed weird to me that this is the biggest talking point of the debate. But once I actually looked into the figures for Sesame Street, as well as the socio-economical impact, I started to understand why this has become the most talked-about quote:

  • Our government does indeed pay a subsidy to support PBS, it is a very tiny amount - 0.00014% of the federal budget. This works out to about 12% of PBS's revenue. Ending the subsidy to PBS is not going to save our government any huge amount of income, and will not make much of an impact on the national debt.
  • Ironically, that subsidy to PBS doesn't fund Sesame Street itself - Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit that produces the show "Sesame Street," is a separate organization from PBS with its own revenue streams.
  • 33% of students arriving at kindergarten without basic skills. Trying to shut down preschool shows that teach learning as a fun activity seems almost criminal when held against our nation's falling academic standing in the world-wide scene.
  • A huge percentage of our nation's families are living at or below poverty level (including my own family). Many of those parents cannot afford basic cable, and PBS is the only channel with children's programing that is still accessible without cable. Our lower-income students are already at a huge disadvantage academically, I don't see any other reason to make it worse!
  • A 2011 poll found that 69% of voters are opposed to defunding PBS. 
  • Sesame Street is a job creator! Sesame Workshop made $46.9 million in revenue from licensing Big Bird, Elmo, the Cookie Monster and other characters in 2011, according to financial statements. This money helped pay the salaries of 1,320 employees...not to mention the salaries of those toy companies, DVD producers, and other countless companies that make the Sesame Street products!
 Anyone who has watched PBS programming will remember the constant short commercials "Such-and-such show was made possible by viewers like you." That's because 60% of the funding for public television comes from private donors. So here is where I post a link, because if you truly want to support PBS, don't just share memes. Donate. Send $5 to PBS to help keep shows like Sesame Street on the air. As fun as these memes are, they don't help pay for the continued existence of public television. Here is the link to donate:

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Health issues

Since my back injury earlier this year, it seems that my body just can't find it's equilibrium. My sleep patterns are whacky and I seem to catch every little bug that's floating around. On top of that, I've been fighting a pretty serious case of anemia as well as depression and anxiety.

Trying to lose weight during this has been extremely difficult. One of the meds I was on caused me to balloon another 30 pounds to my heaviest yet. I went off that medication five days ago and now my scales says I've lost 27.6 pounds in that time period, so...yeah...pretty sure my scale is broken! (oh, though - how I wish it was accurate!). My stability ball was my lifeline during the first few months of my recovery, and I sincerely miss it - and I'm pissed at whichever pet thought it would be fun to poke holes in.

I have, however, discovered Zumba, thanks to a friend on the internet who got into it. Regular Zumba is still too hard on my back, but I can handle Zumba Gold (which is designed for older people and disabled people). I've only been doing it for about a week but I can already feel an energy difference.

In other good news, the kids have really settled down into the rhythm of things, school-wise and home-wise. We made some changes this year in our routine and it really seems to work! The first thing we did is we made video games on school nights an absolute no-no. Last year the boys had known that if they finished their homework they could play video games, and this lead to a lot of hiding homework so that they could play faster. And then, of course, the homework never got done! Now they know that there are no video games at all, so they finish their homework pronto - and so far, all their teachers have confirmed that they have no missing work. Every Friday the teachers send home a progress sheet, and if the sheet shows no homework missing, the boys get a couple hours of video games each on Saturday and Sunday. If they do fantastically well on the progress sheet, they get video games on Friday night as well. So far only one of the boys has missed a Friday game night, and he was so disgusted with himself that it hasn't happened again.

Second thing we did is to establish an allowance system. Each boy can earn up to ten dollars in a two-week period (since Sean gets paid bi-weekly this seemed the best way to go about it). If we have to yell at them about homework, chores, or fighting among themselves, they lose a dollar. Since none of the boys wants to lose money, they've all been pretty keen to keep the peace and stay caught up with their chores. It's amazing how much smoother the household runs with this little system!

That's all I can think of to update for today - I know I've been kinda slacking off on this blog. It's mainly because I don't want it to become fully of whining about how awful and helpless I feel about my health. You know, the whole "If you can't say anything nice..." thing. But I am trying to be more positive and hope to be updating with more regularity. Thanks for sticking around!

Sunday, July 29, 2012


I've struggled all my life with depression. Thinking back, the first time I realized I was depressed (and I mean clinically depressed, not just "it's a rainy day and I'm bored" depressed) was when I was about nine years old. Puberty - and the insane events in my life that coincided with puberty - increased the depression and introduced anxiety.

When I was in my young twenties, I was put on anti-depressants and they made such a wonderful impact in my life. I was a single parent working part-time and attending college full-time, plus a regular attender at church. I felt in control of my life and was genuinely chipper. In my mid-twenties I got pregnant twice - back-to-back pregnancies - and for the sake of the babies, went off my meds. And was so rushed and stressed that it took me three years after my youngest was born to realize I hadn't bothered to go back on the anti-depressants.

"Well," I thought to myself. "If I've been able to handle all these years without them, even with young children, I must not need them anymore." And so I didn't bother asking my doctor for them. And even in later years, when my doctor stressed the idea, I resisted out of a false sense of pride and - yes, I admit it - superiority.

Which, looking back on it, made me a stuck-up b*tch. And during those years, I didn't realize that I was self-medicating with things like junk food, caffeine, and escapism into books.

(now, don't think I'm saying reading is bad. It's a wonderful activity that I still indulge in regularly...but just like anything, it can become an unhealthy addiction if you are using it as a crutch.)

When I realized I was slipping into a dangerous area of OCD, I resisted by intentionally keeping small parts of my home cluttered - which of course added to my anxiety and thus added to depression. And then I would get too down to even clean the intentional clutter and grow even more depressed and anxious...a vicious cycle that swung up and down with my moods.

Injuring my back earlier this year - and the resultant loss of mobility - triggered a tsunami of out-of-control mood swings that sent me down lower than I've been before. And of course, every time I swung low I'd binge eat to feel better. Then I saw the scale and realized I'd developed a new all-time weight high.

This past week, I came to my senses and cried "Enough!!!!" And went to the doctor to talk about anti-depressants and other medical treatments. I'm starting on the new medications today, and such things rarely go smoothly. Dosages will need to be adjusted and some meds will need to be changed, so it's going to be rough going for a while here - but at least it's in the right direction.

Another thing that came to light during my visit is that my iron levels are frighteningly low at ten (if I recall correctly, normal is somewhere around 40-55). Low iron leads to exhaustion and breathing problems, and can contribute to depression as well, so I'm on a prescription-strength iron pill that I am supposed to take three times a day. Iron pills do I say this delicately? Gum up the works? Because of that, I have been prescribed a fruit heavy diet with lots and lots of water. So breakfast this morning is going to be almost all fruit, and lunch will include fruit. Snack will be nothing but fruit, and dessert after dinner? Yup, you guessed it - fruit.

Good thing I live close enough to a wonderful store with a huge produce section at low prices, because none of the things I've planted that are fruit-bearing are actually bearing large amounts of fruit. And Sean was wonderful and bought all sorts of frozen fruits to make smoothies with on days when I run out of the fresh stuff.

No one likes to discuss their imperfections, and my struggle with depression, diet, anxiety, and OCD are difficult to admit to. It's hard. It's painful. And it's freeing to be able to say "I need help"...even when that help comes from a prescription bottle.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Thrift store find...

Like most women, I enjoy having nice things. Lately, I've noticed that a lot of my style over the last decade has been quiet, sedate, and DULL. I wanted to spice things up a bit, but finances still are a major factor.

Which is why I'm so very thrilled at what I found tonight. Walking through the thrift store, a bright red leather bag caught my eye. It was beautiful, gorgeous - and behind the counter, which in thrift store language means "major label" and "out-of-your-league-Tricia". I sighed, thinking to myself that it just wasn't going to happen.

I tend to not even ask the price on things stored behind the counter. It's just not worth having the dream crushed. I could see the price tags on some other purses back there - all uglier than the red one - and the lowest price I saw was $70. "Oh well," I thought. "Some woman is going to get very lucky."

When we made it up to the register, Sean asked the lady how much it was. She wandered over and I saw her hand caress the leather, and I just KNEW it was one of those buttery leather products that make you want to sigh in sheer bliss. And then she told us the price. And I thought my ears were deceiving me.

"It's $19.99."

No. That couldn't be right. I must have misheard her. And before I could ask for clarification, my husband said "Let's see it."

It was as buttery as I had imagined, and such a bright heart started to beat hard at the thought of owning something that was so boldly and outrageously feminine. And then I saw the brand on the front and my heart skipped a beat.

PRADA. As in "the devil wears it". As in "a brand Tricia will never ever own in her entire life". I sighed and opened my mouth to tell the woman to put it back, but my husband spoke first.

"Add it to our pile, we're ready to check out."

I'm still in shock. Complete, utter shock. And that shock is starting to be tempered by purely female desire to gloat. I own a prada purse. Me. I wonder if I can convince Sean to let me sleep with it tonight?

The season picks up pace...

I'm still pretty much incapable of doing any major gardening (stupid back injury, ugh). But I am managing to get some things done. The entire front patch has been weeded, a second set of seedlings are starting to sprout, and foot by painful square foot, my garden is being extended.

(why foot by painful foot? Digging the new garden with a typical long-handled shovel makes my back light on fire before going numb - every time, without fail. So the only way to clear out my garden is to sit down with the hand shovel and till the earth that way. It's a long process - I could get the same amount cleared in two minutes with a big shovel, but with the small shovel it takes twenty minutes...and it still hurts. But not as badly.)

Photos to come as soon as things are looking more neat.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Ethical reporting - where do we draw the line?

The news hit the world like a slap in the face over Memorial Day weekend - a man in Miami stripped naked and attacked another man, chewing his face off. The attack lasted for eighteen minutes and the attacker was only subdued by a hailstorm of bullets.

All this is fact. All of this is good, factual, non-speculative reporting.

Then came the follow-up reports. The attacker, Rudy Eugene, was on drugs. He was taking bath salts. He was taking PCP. He was cursed by a voodoo priest. Theories abounded, each one a little crazier than the last. His family and friends have protested, saying he was a good-natured young man who carried his bible around, attended church, and never took anything stronger than the occasional joint. This contrast only added fuel to the fire.

Then, today, I found out the worst aspect of all (other than, of course, a man LOSING HIS FACE) - graphic crime scene photos were released to news organizations, including close-ups of the victim's face. ~sarcasm~ How sensational! How electrifying!

Screw that. It's unethical. It's criminal. And it's completely irreversible. Once a photo is out on the 'net, it's there to stay. And this pisses me off.

Perhaps I'm just oversensitive to this situation because I myself have been homeless. I've known others who are very much like the victim, Ronald Poppo - those who are chronically homeless. I feel like many of the big media outlets are treating Poppo like a second-class citizen at best, a non-entity at worse. No one asked Poppo for permission to release such graphic photos of his own injuries. I doubt such permission was even considered, for most feel that the homeless don't have any rights to anything, including their own image.

I don't know if this blog post is making a lot of sense, as I am so angry I can barely type straight. But I do know that I am sorely missing the days of straight-shooting reporting, just the facts, where the victim's rights were considered sacred and the news was delivered without the opinions, fear-mongering, and speculation that fills today's news shows.

I miss Walter Cronkite.

I miss Edward R. Murrow.

I miss reporters who will make the delineation between actual fact, opinion, and speculation clear-cut and concise. I miss journalist ethics and integrity.

I miss the little girl I used to be who wanted to grow up to be the next Barbara Walters or Connie Chung.

And as long as the public spends their time and money on news programs that are as sensationalized as soap operas, I know the modern news will not change.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Suddenly with no income

(fair warning - this started out as a post relating our experiences of the week, and turned into an overwhelmed, outraged rant rather quickly. Feel free to skip it if you aren't in the mood.)

This week started out the way it normally does - I got the kids off to school while Sean prepared for work. You know, the usual Monday morning chaos. Things were just starting to settle down when my husband called twenty minutes after his shift was due to start.

"I've been suspended. For sleeping on the job."

My first reaction was that this must be a joke. After all, he's a paramedic, and they are supposed to sleep on the job - that's why most ambulance companies and fire houses have bunk rooms. Ever since Sean started working for this company nearly four years ago, he's taken a pillow and bedding with him to work. Heck, sleeping on the job is practically in the job description, so that you are as fresh as possible when an emergency arrives.

But it turned out it wasn't a joke. He'd really been suspended for sleeping on the job. The suspension is for an indefinite period of time, until he can prove that he doesn't have a sleep condition that impairs his ability to work in his field. Since I have a sleep-related disorder myself (sleep apnea), I know from experience that getting in to a sleep study and then waiting for the results can take about 3-6 weeks - IF you are lucky.

And even if he can prove he doesn't have a sleep-related disorder, he's only going to be allowed back on a six month suspension. I'm guessing that if he falls asleep once on the job - just once - they'll fire him.

(We both feel that this isn't sleep related at all. Lately the company has made several policy changes that not only take away from the employee, but seem detrimental to the company itself, and Sean has been the rather vocal leader of those employees who didn't like the changes. We both figure this is the company preparing a legal defense for firing him because he's been causing dissent.)

This has left us in a huge pickle. How are we going to pay our bills? The rent, electricity, gas service? How are we going to buy food? How are we going to even afford for him to apply at other jobs? (the emergency medical industry is different - in order to apply for a job, you first have to successfully pass testing to prove you are knowledgeable - and the "privilege" of taking the tests costs $50. Per company. And passing the test is no guarantee you get the job - it just promises that you will be put on a list of "potential hires" that expires a year after the testing date. If no positions open up during that time, you have to pay another $50 to test in again.) With my recent injury, medical visits are increased - how will we afford the gas to get around to things like that?

We've spent the last week running around like crazy, applying for aid in any way we could. We put in an application for food stamps, as well as requests for financial aid from groups that help people in our situation to pay the bills while out of work. And before you comment "Apply for unemployment!" - he's not able to. The suspension notice clearly implies that HE'S the one at fault for the suspension, so he's not eligible for unemployment.

And a lot of well-meaning people have given me all sorts of advice one what to do during this situation. But since most of my friends and family are in Wisconsin, a lot of the things they are advising are state-specific, and since we live in Illinois, it's useless. The best I can do is write down the suggestions and see if our state has similar programs, which has meant a lot of research and work on my part. A lot of calls to people like our landlord or the utility companies, trying to make sure we won't lose our home or things like our electricity (and since I have to sleep with a machine to help me breathe, having no electricity is NOT an option). I know those who are giving me advice are just trying to help, and I DO appreciate it. But I feel so overwhelmed with suggestions and ideas and forms to fill out and calls to make and the need to lower myself to the point of begging for help - over and over and over again - that I've been unable to sleep without medicinal aid since this happened. 

I'm overwhelmed. But at least I have some idea of what to do, since I was in a similar situation back in late 2004 when my business was sabotaged. For my husband, who has always been so independent and in control, this has been a far more crushing blow, and he's at a loss as to how to handle it. He's done his part - put in as many applications as he could without having to pay out-of-pocket (there are a few jobs for medics that don't require an application fee, but not many). He's done the running around and the standing in line at public aid and food pantries. He's experienced the humiliation of having to call one of his best friends to borrow money so the electric bill could be paid on time - the second time he's had to borrow money from this friend in the past six months (last time was when the car broke down and needed to be recalibrated).

It hurts to apply for aid. There have been derogatory comments, both directed at me and just posted generally on my facebook page about how horrible it is that people who apply for food stamps can afford nice cars and cell phones and the like. It hurts. It hurts real bad. 

This is hard. It's hard on both of us. And the whole social stigma of having to apply for aid is painful. You get treated like a second-class citizen by many of those people who work in the public aid buildings or for charities. For every genuine person who is happy to help you get through it all, there are ten others who treat you like scum for even asking. When we applied for food stamps on Thursday, the security guard sneered at us when we politely turned our phones off - his expression clearly saying that we had no right to apply for aid if we could afford cell phones (the ironic part? While we did pay for our phones, we don't pay for the cell phone service - it's a gift from my mother-in-law). When I went to the bathroom during our wait to be seen, I heard two of the employees making scathing comments about how half the cars in the parking lot were nicer than the ones they could afford, and they don't even qualify for public aid, so how could "these people" afford such nice cars?

It's because half of "those people" bought those cars and cell phones while still working and able to pay for them. It doesn't mean they are abusing the system. It just means they were, at one point, a success - and now thanks to the economy, they need help. 

I saw one woman who was obviously a professional in the waiting room. Out of respect, she had dressed nicely for her appointment, but a few employees commented in her hearing "How can SHE afford a Gucci bag and designer clothes when I can barely pay my mortgage?" I saw the poor woman blush and hang her head, trying to hide tears as she slid her hand to cover the Gucci label on her purse.

She shouldn't have to feel ashamed for having once been able to afford nice things. She shouldn't have been made to feel ashamed about asking for help. I wanted to pat her on the shoulder, but I was afraid a show of sympathy would push her over the edge from silently crying to audibly sobbing. And what was she supposed to do - sell all that stuff? What would she wear on job interviews? And if she sold all but one outfit, then what would she wear for the first couple weeks once she got a job again?

People say this country was founded based on Christian principles. It's funny - you would think the place you would see those principles most played out are in places like public aid or Catholic Charities or other such places. You would think people would exemplify the kindness of Christ. But instead you get what he preached AGAINST - prejudice, selfishness, and a sense of "I am better than thou art". You get treated like something the dog dragged in. You are told, without words, that you are a burden on society. And this leaves me feeling like crap.

I try my best not to be a burden. I maintain the house, I train up the children, I cook as healthy as I can with the limited kitchen and tools I have. I attempt to grow food in our yard so as to save money and eat healthier. In the last year, I have published multiple articles and made a few strides towards going back to college. And yet the way I have been treated this past week? I've been made to feel like the stereotypical "welfare queen". 

I've had panic attacks EVERY NIGHT this week. It's gotten to the point where I am going to have to heavily medicate myself tonight just to have a chance at a few hours of shut-eye. I'm overwhelmed, I'm drowning, I'm buried under the pressure of a system I thought I would never have to experience again.

I can't even go out and get a job thanks to my back injury last month. I feel useless.

I hate it. And it's only going to get worse next week.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Speaking of zombies and homeschooling...

My friend T couldn't get blogger to let her leave a comment on my blog (weird. I'm looking into it, T, no worries). But she sent me a more direct message suggesting I take a look at someone's work on youtube, a guy calling himself CaptainValor, who evidently posts videos with both sound and signs, which is perfect for our summer school plans for learning sign language.

In particular, T recommended this video. ~happy sigh~ my friend knows me so well!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Zombies in the waiting room

pic found online - if you know who to credit it to, let me know, 'cause it's awesome!

Just as my back was starting to feel better, I picked up some kind of bug. Felt like strep throat or something similar (within an hour or so, I had halfway lost my voice), so I went to the walk-in clinic to get some antibiotics. 
I walk into the waiting room with my barely-there wheezy voice and my stilted, gimpy gait. Barely managed to stumble into a chair. This cute little girl came up to me and asked if I was turning into a zombie. I just looked at her, moaned "braaaaaains" and started to reach in her direction. She shrieked and took off. It was all I could do to keep a straight face.

Her father had no such compulsion. He was bent double laughing. 
Spent the rest of my few minutes in the waiting room surrounded by toddlers and preschoolers poking me with plastic baseball bats, golf clubs, and other long toys from the toy bin while I moaned and reached for them. The preschoolers loved poking me with the bats. I'd start to reach for them, saying "Braaaaaains" and they'd whack me, so it was more like "Braaaa - ouuch" "Braaaai...ouuch".
By the time the nurse called me back, the whole waiting room was laughing, even the 80 year old woman on oxygen. I did have some fun with the nurse who came to get me. She said "What's the problem today?" and I answered "Either strep throat, or I'm the index case for the coming zombie apocalypse." She barely managed to hide her smile.

Seriously, though, where is the video camera when you need one? This totally would have gone viral.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Public schools, homeschooling, and a request for help

I am unable to home school full time. Neither my ex (who is birth father to all three boys) nor my husband feel that it would be a wise idea for the boys. I do understand part of their reasoning - as children, all three of us (myself, ex, and hubby) were socially awkward kids, and by being pretty much forced into a social setting (i.e. public school) eventually taught us the basics of social behavior.

Now, I could set up with a local homeschooling group and have the children socialize with other home schooled kids. Sounds great, right? But there are a couple of drawbacks to this idea, the first being transportation. I don't drive, we don't own a second car, and with my back injury I am not confident that I can ride my bike all over town like I used to be capable of. Second, and perhaps more important, the only local homeschooling group I have found is based on a strong conservative and fundamentalist religious ideal, and that would be a horrible fit for our liberal, agnostic/atheistic family. In fact, I'm sure the kids would feel MORE like fish out of water in that situation than in public school!

So the boys attend the local schools, and I admit that they are better than the average school in our country. Not only are the boys taught the basics like reading, writing, math, science, and history, but they are also taught free thinking, acceptance, and of course, the basics of social interaction. Innovation and creativity are encouraged and praised. All of the teachers remain in close contact with me, the parent, and come to me immediately with questions, concerns, and praises. I feel included in their education, which is fantastic! I've had them enrolled in other school districts where my interest and participation in their education was treated as an oddity at best and disruptive at worst, so having a school district that respects and includes me is gratifying.

All that said, I still feel that the boys education is stifled. This is NOT the school's fault exactly. They have to follow the guidelines and lesson plans that are put out by the state, and they are not allowed to deviate from it, even if they really want to. So for the last several years, I have taken it upon myself to fill those gaps during summer break by focusing on one particular area and doing an in-depth study on it. I try to make the sessions fun and short - after all, it is summer, and I want to make sure they have time to run around and play with each other, with friends, and explore like little boys should.

I guess you could call me a summer home schooler.

Let me give you and example from two years ago, before we moved to this school district. I had gotten numerous complaints about all three boys, and all the complaints were the same - illegible handwriting and a poor sense of sentence and paragraph structure. Since my handwriting is flawless and I have always written beautifully, I was truly confused as to how my children could struggle with these issues. So I thought back on how I had learned in the hopes that I could teach the boys in the same manner I had learned.

I decided almost immediately that they would not learn handwriting the way I had. I used to be ambidextrous, and would alternate between left and right hand writing without thought. This really disturbed my stepfather, who was deeply religious in many ways and believed wholeheartedly that left-handed writing was a weakness that allowed the devil a handhold in my soul. He saw it as his responsibility to protect my soul, so every time he caught me using my left hand, he would smack it - hard. When I sat down to do homework, he would silently place a ruler by my left hand as a silent warning - "use that hand and I'm smacking it with this ruler" (the ruler would also be used if my handwriting wasn't readable or neat, so I very quickly learned to write in an obsessively neat script.).

I remember one day, he was sitting next to me doing a crossword while I did my homework My right hand got tired, and without thinking I switched my pencil from my right hand to my left. Of course, he hit my left hand immediately - it was a reflex for him at that point, I suspect. I honestly don't think he remembered he had a pencil in his hand when he smacked my own, but my cry of pain and the blood that flowed proved that he had inadvertently stabbed my hand with the sharp point of his own pencil. I jerked away and in the process, the lead point of his pencil broke off in my hand. He ended up having to cut the wound open a little bit more to remove the lead.

Remembering that made me shudder, and I unconsciously rubbed the small scar from the incident. No, I wouldn't teach my children good handwriting the way I had been taught! I decided I would just teach them the basics of good penmanship, and make them rewrite anything that was illegible.

Figuring out how to teach them sentence structure and paragraph formation was harder. I couldn't recall a single instance of being taught how to write. I did remember teachers harping on things like "a paragraph has a main sentence and supportive sentences", stuff like that, but I also remembered tuning them out because it seemed like such a "duh" thing to me. Of course the rest of a paragraph supported the main sentence. It was just natural. As a child I just couldn't comprehend why others in my grade couldn't get the concept. And I had no idea how to teach my children a skill that I had never struggled with.

It was my mother who shed light on the solution. I was talking to her on the phone and mentioned how I was at a total loss to teach my own children the skill of writing cohesively. I remember her laughing and saying "Of course you learned to write well. You read so much as a child that you picked up the skill instinctively. No one had to teach you, and that's why you were so bored in English classes."

It was like a light bulb went off. I learned how to write from reading - and my children love to read! At that moment, our summer schooling plan was set. I let the kids check out books they wanted from the library, and every day they had to write a paragraph or two about what they read that day. My husband joined in by finding a DVD of the old "School House Rocks" videos, as well as things like Between the Lions episodes and a few other shows that tended to focus on writing.

By the end of the summer, all three boys were churning out their paragraphs (and in some cases, multiple paragraphs) in record time, and their handwriting and sentence structure were improved enough that their new teachers found nothing to complain about.

Over the course of teaching my children, I've learned the truth of Frank Oppenheimer's quote:  "The best way to learn is to teach." So I decided the kids and I will learn something new together, and after researching subjects, talking with the kids about what they want to learn, and thinking about what I want to learn myself, I decided the subject of this summer's lessons will be sign language.

This is where you come in, my dear reader. Do you know of any online classes/videos/educational sites for learning sign language from scratch? Can you recommend any books or DVD series? An educational cartoon along the lines of Sesame Street or Dora the Explorer, only for older children? The more material I have to work with, the better I can create a lesson plan of sorts.

Let me know what you think on in my comments - and if you know anyone who blogs/home schools that knows sign language, please link me to their blogs.

Thanks a lot!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Earworm Wars

If you don't know what an earworm is, let me educate you. An earworm is a piece of music that sticks in one's mind so that one seems to hear it, even when it is not being played. I'm sure you've experienced this phenomenon, where a song seems to get stuck in your head and plays over and over, driving you nuts.

Our little earworm war started with an innocent text from my mother. "The phone...the phone is ringing!" (if you don't get that reference, lucky you. Here's a youtube clip to explain. Consider yourself already fairly warned about it being an earworm. You may not want to hit play.)

Now, for some reason, that innocent song became a total earworm for me, even to the point where I caught myself singing it when half asleep and in the shower. I found this particularly embarrassing, as the song came from a preschooler's show, and I don't have preschoolers.

Then my husband decided to play with me. He snuck away with my phone and recorded himself singing the stupid theme song, ending the song with maniacal laughter (and I should add that my husband is totally tone-deaf, so the song is completely off-key). He then set that recording as the ringtone on my phone, specifically to play only when he called me.

I didn't know about it until a couple days later, when he called me from the store to ask if he should pick up milk. Unfortunately, he called while I was in the same room with my younger boys.

"The phone...the phone is ringing. The phone is ringing! Mwahahahaha!"

James and Jacob fell over each other laughing, tears rolling down their faces. Every time they looked at me, they'd crack up again, and an hour later I heard them singing while they were doing their chores.

"The phone...the phone is ringing!"

This was all my mother's fault - she started it. So I decided it was time for some payback. There is one song that she cannot stand to listen to, even though she loves the song, because the chorus gets stuck in her head and becomes a horrible earworm, lasting for weeks.

So I called up her phone and recorded the chorus to this song onto her voice mail.

Payback, thy name is Bitch. And I am your devoted servant. Now, I just have to figure out how to get ahold of my husband's phone.....mwahahaha!

EDIT (from a couple days later):  Was outside trying (unsuccessfully) to weed the front garden. Trouble was watching from the living room via an open window, because he freaks out when anyone is outside and he's not. It's like he thinks he can't protect us or something. The more of his family that's outside, the more freaked out he gets.

Just then, the phone went off. In Sean's voice. Singing that stupid song.

And the 60 pound pit bull puppy went bounding through the screen, eager to greet and protect his "Daddy".


Friday, March 16, 2012

Diagnosis - Bleak

Ended up in ER last night as my doctor refused to provide any more pain pills until our Monday appointment (this despite the fact that she had only given me three days worth of pain meds and I'd already managed to stretch it out to cover five days).

Went the the same hospital that my MRI was done in, and they gave me the diagnosis. Looks like degenerative disc disease. Something in my MRI or in my current symptoms bothered them, so they put me in a trauma room and ran some more tests before sending me home with stronger pain medication and orders to see a specialist in spinal damage/injuries.

Still in shock. Still taking time to absorb the information, and the knowledge that I will have back issues for the rest of my life. Trying to buck up about it but it's hard.

EDIT: I posted the above blog post on my FB page, and followed it up with some results from research on degenerative disc disease. One of the recommendations are to do low-impact exercises, like water aerobics and stability ball exercises.

I have great friends on FB. Within a few minutes of that post, two of my friends informed me that they were sending me stability balls. I find myself crying again, but this time they are happy tears!

Also realized I'm a big busted woman who was just diagnosed with degenerative disc disease. Otherwise abbreviated as DDD.

Triple D. I'm cracking up. Oh, the irony!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Not the greatest ambassador to his breed....

It was so beautiful out today. The boys wanted to ride their bikes up and down the street. I agreed, and had one of them move a chair out to the front yard so I could keep an eye on them. Trouble cries if we go out to play without taking him with us, but I wasn't exactly in the physical condition to hold his leash, thanks to my back. So he got tied to a tree in the front yard, and I sat down next to him.

All was fine for a while - Trouble liked watching the boys on their bikes, and every time they rode past his tail would wag. Several other kids came out, and there was all sorts of activity - biking, jogging, skateboarding, babies in strollers - lots for a young dog to watch. A couple of boys remembered that he's a gentle dog, and brought him a few sticks to gnaw on.

A few boys decided to start a game of soccer about three houses down from us. Now, you should know that Trouble LOVES balls. When a ball is involved, there is no talking sense into that dog. So you can just imagine the whimpering and whining as he watched those boys kick around that lovely bi-colored toy. He actually started to drool with anticipation.

That's when it happened. One boy kicked the ball towards the goal, and missed. The ball rolled past the goal and came to a stop at the curb - right in front of Trouble. With a huge jerk, that silly canine snapped his harness into pieces and pounced on the ball. His entire body language was one of sheer joy - "It got it! I got it! Ball! Ball! Ball!"

I knew there was a very good chance that Trouble would puncture the toy in his exuberance, so I called for my sons (since again, my back injury prevented me from participating in anything). Jonathan managed to pin the silly pup, and James got the ball out of his slobbering maw. In the manner of little boys all over the world, he wiped the drool off the ball with his shirt and offered it to the ball's owner. Accepting this behavior as fair and just, the young man accepted his ball with dignity and headed back down the street to home.

The boy was three houses away when Jon somehow lost his grip on Trouble. Like a bullet, Trouble aimed at the ball and hit his fastest stride.  "HEADS UP!" I shouted in the kid's direction.

The boy turned around to see 60 pounds of jet black pit bull barreling towards him, teeth gleaming in the late afternoon sun. For a moment, he froze. I'm sure it must have looked terrifying - Trouble isn't a small dog, and since he's a pit bull, most people have an instinctive fear of the breed.  But everyone who was watching - from the youngest toddler to the oldest grandma - knew exactly what Trouble was aiming for. And it wasn't the kid.

A dozen voices shouted out in unison. "THROW THE BALL!"

And the kid snapped out of his paralysis and threw the ball when Trouble was about five feet from him. The result was utterly comical. Trouble put on the breaks so hard he somersaulted, and somehow ended the somersault with a springing leap in the direction of the ball. Within seconds, he had his jaws around the irresistible toy, and his tail was moving so fast his whole body was shaking to the rhythm.

This time, when Jon came to pin him, he involved everyone in a merry game of keep-away, letting kids get just close enough to touch him or the ball before springing back. About a dozen boys ended up circling him until he had no backwards direction left to jump, and then Jon pinned him down while the ball was once again muscled out of his jaws.

Fortunately for all, the ball wasn't damaged, nor was the dog. In fact, Trouble seemed mighty thrilled with how the evening turned out - his tail didn't stop wagging for nearly an hour. And he had the hugest doggy grin ever. Once we had him safely on a leash (attached to his collar, since his harness was hanging in shreds from his shoulders), he personally went around to each boy and gave them a happy lick on the hand, as though to thank them for the wonderful game.

~sigh~ I know he meant no harm, and I am very fortunate to live in a pit-friendly neighborhood (Trouble is one of a full dozen of pits on this street alone, and it seems more are arriving every day). But someday we will move, buy a place of our own, and I can't guarantee that our new neighbors will understand a soccer-loving pit bull racing down the street towards their children. It looks frightening and dangerous. In one way, it is VERY dangerous - to Trouble. All it would take is one call from a concerned parent and Trouble could be taken from us and euthanized.

He's GOT to learn that not all balls mean playtime. I want him to be a lovely ambassador to his breed - not one that frightens parents and children alike.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

My kids were trying to be thoughtful.

The extra activity and pain from the MRI last night has made today miserable. Ironically, the MRI itself felt great - the scan caused a sensation of warmth to flow in the injured area, and it was frankly the most comfortable I have been since I was injured. That said, the process of getting undressed, then arranging myself on the MRI table, then getting off and re-dressed, was extremely painful and unpleasant.

Especially when the oh-so-helpful aide decided the best way to get me off the MRI table was to say "Ally-up!" in a cheerful voice and pull me into a straight sitting position by my arms. I think my scream was loud enough to wake the dead.

Since that little incident, I've been in more pain, and the pain pills just weren't cutting it. Around 11am, I decided to lay down for a couple hours. I took my pills first before laying down, with the thought that they would have fully kicked in by 1pm, and I could get up and be semi-productive while the kids read during quiet time.

My kids had other ideas. Really, they were trying to be thoughtful, I do understand that. They jointly decided to make their own lunch and let me sleep in. For seven and a half hours.

Did I mention the pain pills only last for five to six hours?

So by the time I finally woke up, my pain meds had already been worn off for about two hours, and I HURT. I barely managed to get up and hobble to the bathroom (with tears pouring down my face the entire time), and somehow made it to the computer chair before my back completely seized out.

I sat there for over an hour, sobbing and waiting for the pain meds to kick in. Nothing doing. I was still stuck in the same spot, unable to move more than an inch or two without crying out in pain. At this point my kids were freaking out because they feel responsible for me being in pain, and I'm trying to reassure them and muffle my cries because it's making them feel bad, and it's just a huge clusterf*ck.

Finally after ninety minutes of this, I call the pharmacy (thank goodness for 24 hour pharmacies), and explain the situation. I tell her what I've taken so far, and what I have on hand, and ask if there is anything I can take in addition to my pain pills to allow me to function at least partially normally.

She told me to take another Hydrocodone. I worried out loud that I was worried about possible addiction (I mean, it's a narcotic, after all!), but she pointed out that I haven't been taking as much as I could be anyway, so it should still be safe to do. So I took another pill, both reluctantly and hopefully. And you know what? It worked. I can move again. I haven't tried to get out of my chair yet (I'm waiting for a full hour to go by before I try), but I can lean forward and backward and to each side, and I can shift in the chair.

I HATE THIS. I hate being in pain. I'm kicking myself (metaphorically speaking) for not losing weight earlier in my life. This pain would be a lot less if I weighed less. I remember reading a story a year or so ago of a woman who had lost weight, and then a couple months after reaching her goal, she was in a horrible car accident. She ended up wedged in the twisted metal wreak of her vehicle, in a small area that was claustrophobic tiny.

Her doctor later looked at the pictures and told her "If you had been in that accident when you were heavier, you would have died."

So now I have to face the reality - if I had lost the weight before this, would I even be injured? Would my injury be as severe? Is it too late for me? Am I permanently disabled? Is it too late to lose weight? If not, how can I lose weight when half my body is incapacitated?

More than the pain, the uncertainty is killing me.

If you are out there and trying to lose weight, quit procrastinating. Start NOW. You never know what the future might bring. You could hurt your back tomorrow. You could be in a car accident. You could fall and not be able to get up. Don't give up. Don't be complacent.

I'm not giving up. I'm going to continue working on losing weight. Sure, walking is no longer an option until I figure out what exactly is wrong, and what to do to fix it. It might be surgery. It might me more pain meds. I don't know. I might have to be in a wheelchair for a while.

I actually look forward to being in a wheelchair. I can still go for "walks", just using my arms rather than my legs. My shoulders rather than my hips. I'm not giving up.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Not your typical Thursday

Woke up today in more pain than any other day this week (except Monday - no ambulance for me today). Took an hour to get to a standing position, and I couldn't wait for the kids to leave for school so I could get in a boiling hot shower and work off some of the stiffness.

This was my first day getting dressed without help. It took seven minutes to get my underwear and pants on, and about twenty minutes to get socks and shoes on, but I did it! I started to do a happy dance out of habit, but quickly realized that was a VERY BAD IDEA.

I knew it was going to be a busy day - all three of the children had dental appointments, and I had managed to get a doctor's appointment for myself at the same time. So Sean came home from work, and we went to pick up the younger boys.

The first person I saw in the school was the vice principal. "Oh, Mrs. Betts! I'm glad to see you - we need to talk." That's never a good thing. Turns out James had decided to sumersault down the aisles of the school bus this morning. It took me a few minutes to digest this information. Seriously? What the heck was he thinking? And when asked, he just shrugged and said "I was bored."

~groan~ He's suspended from the bus for 24 hours. This means Sean will have to drive him to and from school tomorrow, as I obviously am in no condition to walk him there.

At the dentist, we discovered the two younger children have multiple small cavities. When confronted, the they admitted they have been playing in the bathroom at night rather than brushing their teeth. One of Jacob's teeth has to be pulled, and that is scheduled for Thursday next week. I'm hoping that the experience will drive the dental care lesson home, and I hope he expresses just how very PAINFUL and ANNOYING it is to his brother, so it teaches him a lesson too. In the meantime, I am going to have to supervise their nightly brushing.

Jonathan's was a little better. He only has two small cavities that can be easily dealt with. However, he has a fragment of a baby tooth that is stubbornly hanging in there, so that will have to be extracted at the end of the month. He's a little nervous about that, but I suspect it will go fine.

After the kids saw the dentist, I went to see the doctor. I got lucky this time - the doctor I got took me seriously, didn't treat me like I was an idiot, and seemed to genuinely care about my health and well-being. She expressed amazement at how little of the pain pills I've been using, which went a long way towards convincing her I was seriously in pain as opposed to a drug-user who was just trying to get narcotics. She gave me a referral for an MRI and I scheduled it for tomorrow night.

She thinks I have a herniated disc. Fun. I'll know for sure after the MRI.

If I do have a herniated disc, this means a couple of things. First of all, long walks are going to be off the table for a while. Second, the expanded garden I was planning this year is not an option. I'm going to have to change my plans to allow for container gardening rather than in-the-ground gardening. It's a blow, but I'll work around it. Last but not least, it means surgery to fix the issue, and possibly being wheelchair bound for several weeks.

When I know more, I'll let everyone know. In the meantime, I'm just waiting for the MRI.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Worst Monday Morning EVER

Last night I did some roughhousing with Sean, nothing unusual or weird about it. Hip felt a little sore as I went to sleep, no big deal (my hips are deformed and thus always sore anyway). Didn't have any trouble getting comfortable and falling asleep.

Around 3 am I woke to use the bathroom. Noticed an increase in soreness as I sat up, but again, no big deal. I usually stiffen up at night and need to limber up anyway.

But then I tried to stand up.

And I realized something was very very wrong.

The pain hit out of nowhere, flashing across my left hip and lower back like flame on gasoline. The shock of it made me cry out and fall back to the bed, gasping. At first I thought this was just a more severe stiffness - maybe a cold front was moving in? But as I continued to try to get out of bed, it became clear that I was injured.

Walking the ten feet from the bed to the bathroom took twenty minutes. Getting back into bed was even harder. After struggling for over an hour to get comfortable, I finally fell into a light doze, punctuated by flashes of pain.

The alarm went off at 6 am - and by then, I couldn't even get out of bed. I tried to limber up, stretching as much against the pain as I dared. At one point I managed to swing my legs off the bed (while still in a lying position), and the pain was so bad at that point, darkness was starting to creep up in the edges of my vision. After an hour of struggling to even sit up, Sean called 911, and I was taken out of my bed on a backboard.

The ER didn't run a single test for my back or hips. They simply pumped me full of pain medication until I was able to sit up on my own and shuffle three feet to a wheelchair. I was told to take the pain medication for the next few days, and if there is still no improvement over my condition, to call my regular doctor and have some tests run then.

Best case scenario? I either sprained, strained, or pulled a muscle in my lower back/hips. Worst case scenario? A compression fracture, a slipped disk, or something equally nasty. I won't know for sure until it has time to heal.

There is never a good time to be injured, but this time period hit particularly hard. I have signed up for a 100 Mile March challenge this month, and thanks to the flu I had last week, plus this injury, I haven't been able to walk a single mile. I was looking forward to spring cleaning. I've really been getting more on top of housework, and now I fear it's all going to slid downhill while I am recovering.

So if you don't see me online much in the next couple weeks, it's because I am in too much pain to sit on our beat-up office chair to type. I'll try to regularly update, but I can't make any promises.

I just hope it's nothing serious.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Book Review - "Feed" by Mira Grant

Every so often I come across a series, or a new author, that really gets me going - the kind of story that is so good I sit up 'til the early hours of the morning because I just can't put it down. The kind of book that is so good, I dream about the plot in my sleep. The kind that leaves me crying when a tragedy happens to a character I empathized with.

Last week I read a book that did all three. "Feed" gripped me in the second chapter and refused to let go until it had rung every drop of adrenaline and emotion from my body, leaving me as limp and exhausted as a bride on her wedding night - and all that without a single mention of sexual behavior or activities. Unusual, to say the least.

One of the things that really struck me was how the author handled the news organization. In the last two decades, our society has seen a huge changed in how the news is delivered. Newspapers used to be the number one source of news, but now most young people have never even read a newspaper. Television news used to be considered reliable, with hard-hitting and ethical reporters braving war zones to inform the people. But nowadays, major media tends to be biased, and opinions are given more weight than facts.

In Mira Grant's world, the same thing happened. And when the zombie outbreak occurred, those news organizations were quick to announce that there was nothing to fear. "It's just a new type of flu, very localized and quick to recover from." The truth was released by a new form of media - bloggers. They had no organization breathing down their backs and demanding that they conform their reports to the accepted story, and it was their posts that brought the walking dead to light. This power continued past "The Rising".

We live in a world where internet protests shut down SOPA, and the overthrow of violent regimes are being organized on Facebook and Twitter. This makes Mira Grant's world even more believable. And I love how she organized the different bloggers - those who report straight facts are Newsies. Then you have the Stewarts, who report opinion informed by fact. And those who go out and harass danger to give the viewers a little thrill? Irwins. I have to admit that made me crack up.

The focus of the book is less on the zombies (though they do make several appearances), and more on the sociological changes brought about by the apocalypse. Even the simplest activities that were taken for granted are no longer available. For example, sending your children out to play on a warm day used to be the norm. Now, it's considered child abuse. Owning a family dog is suddenly fraught with danger. Even a shower is no longer a simple thing.

Midway through this book, the wind moaned around my house and sent branches tapping against my window. I nearly jumped out of my skin! If you only pick up one new book this month, make it "Feed" - and perhaps follow it up with the second book in the series, "Deadline". The third book is due out this summer.

(I should also mention that the author has published several books under a different name, Seanan McGuire. I haven't read those yet, but they are on my kindle and waiting for me.)

Friday, February 24, 2012


This morning we woke up to that eerie utter stillness that says snow fell during the night. I looked outside and saw that our neighborhood had been blessed with about five inches of very heavy snow. The pine trees in our backyard are bent over from the weight of the flakes, and in the early dawn light, the entire world glistened in pure innocence.

The boys were up at 6am, asking if they could read until breakfast. I sadly had to tell them no, not yet - snow means work. The driveway had to be shoveled so Sean could leave for work, and Jonathan jumped on that chore. Sean's breakfast, lunch, and dinner also needed to be packed (he works 24 hour shifts), and James and Jacob helped with bagging chips and washing fruit. We managed to have everything ready in plenty of time for Sean to leave early, which seemed smart, since we don't know the road conditions.

School is delayed two hours, and I'm grateful. Normally, right now, I would be rushing around making sure the boys are ready to leave ("Jacob, you need to wear layers for warmth" followed by "Um, Jacob, by layers I didn't mean to wear eight tee-shirts. Just one tee-shirt and a sweater is enough!"). But thanks to the late start, I am able to type this while oatmeal simmers on the stove, and the boys are mashing bananas to make bread. We'll all be able to take some time to cuddle on the couch with our books and read together. And our morning won't be rushed at all.

I wish every day was a late-start day.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

December is FINALLY over....

When I was twelve, I had a very traumatic and life-scarring event happen on the night of New Year's Eve, and since then, I've really struggled around this time of year. For the past couple of years, I've handled things better, and so I had assumed this year would be even easier for me.

I was wrong. For some reason, things really hit me hard this past month, and I completely lost track of a lot of goals, not to mention losing control of my daily routine. I binge ate - A LOT - and lazed around in an aura of depression. I tried to stay upbeat, but I had to fake it and most days, it just didn't seem worth the effort.

Perhaps the reason it hit me so hard this year is because I thought it was going to be easier, so I didn't prepare myself for the hardships the way I usually do. That was a mistake. Another reason it might have been so hard is that we are struggling financially, and the stress of that on top of the normal stress was overwhelming.

However! December is OVER, the new year has started, and that horrid date is behind me. I have a whole 362 days until that anniversary comes around, and this time I'm going to prepare myself in every way possible, up to and including anti-depressants if needed.

Thanks to all who emailed or called during this time period - knowing you guys cared meant the world to me, and helped me more than I can say. Things are getting back on track!