Wednesday, December 29, 2010

130 Ain't Bad...

My goal for the year was to read 100 books, and blog 365 times. Overzealous wretch that I am, 52 books and 130 posts isn't too bad, I guess. This will officially be the last time I write this year. The next few days hold much travel and coordination of events, so I'm going to be realistic rather than overzealous. See? I have improved a bit this year.

We're meeting The Ex-Wife tomorrow to hand off the boys so she can have them for New Year's. Aria has opted to stay with us. She has a very difficult time sleeping anywhere but her own bed, which I totally understand. I was that way when I was younger, too. I've gotta say, it's surprising how much she takes after me if you consider the utter lack of DNA we share. I'm happy for that. Not the lack of DNA, mind you, I'd give anything to wave a magic wand and make her my biological daughter as well as my heart's daughter. I'm happy that we get along so well and enjoy each other's company. Before she came to live with us, I was filled with anxiety that, if the day ever came, she would not like to live with me. I'm overjoyed to find that, not only does she like it here, she doesn't want to be anywhere else.

Tomorrow is also cleaning and grocery day. I clean one house in Goshen, shop at two different grocery stores, and come home to clean our own home. Then it's an hour and a half to Fort Wayne to relay children and an hour and a half back. I think Aria's coming with just so she can see her mom, if her mom actually comes. It might be her step-dad, in which case I'm not sure if she'll want to make a three hour round-trip to see him. But she might do it anyhow, just to hang out at the Fort Wayne mall with us. We're fun peeps.

I've found that our little dog enjoys wearing clothes. I bought him a little Santa Paws shirt for $1.25 at Target the day after Christmas, and he burrows his head right into it when I try to put it on him. They say that little dogs enjoy the warmth and the feeling of having something close around their bodies, which is why he burrows to begin with. It is comforting to them, apparently. I wonder if I bought him one of those Snuggies for Dogs, if he would worship me like he worships his daddy. I doubt it. He still looks upon me as 'the woman who sleeps next to Daddy'.

My dog (the awesome, fluffy husky) had a major concern today. Our smoke alarm battery was running low, so it randomly beeped for quite awhile. She sidled up to us, staring at the offending noisemaker, which began to spout a computerized woman's voice repeating "Fire!" several times. I've never seen her quite as upset. I think she really thought there was a fire, and was expressing her concern that the rest of us were not panicking like she was. She kept glancing back and forth at everyone in the family, like we should follow her to safety but she was confused because she couldn't smell any smoke.

Or maybe I'm overinflating my dog's sense of interest in our lives, and she just didn't like the loud beepy noise.

I found several new family members on Facebook today -- a few cousins, and a couple of aunts and uncles. Basically all the cousins on my dad's side of the family. It'll be nice to keep in touch with them!

Next time you hear from me, it will be with renewed energy, a fresh start once again, and a more positive outlook. I want to thank you all for remaining with me all year long, reading and commenting, brainstorming and praying, caring and sharing. I am grateful for each and every one of you, and I will do my best to continue this endeavor with brand new vigor in 2011.

Happy New Year to all!

SJS

Monday, December 27, 2010

Post-Christmas Post

I beg you to forgive any typographical errors, as my fingers are somewhat frozen. There are two opposing thermal bookends in our home. Our living room is huge, and has a big bay window, so it's extremely cold out there. Our bedroom, on the opposite side of the house, has three heat registers so it's usually boiling hot, especially in the middle of the night. However, for some reason, I'm lying on top of the covers in our room and I'm very, very cold. I've linked this piece of information to the fact that the ceiling fan is on and the closest register is closed. However, my utter lack of desire to stand up and fix these things points to me remaining cold for the duration of this post.

Christmas was pretty low key. We spent a couple of hours with my parents and little sister one night, spent an evening with "the gang" one night, had our Christmas morning alone with the kids, and spent part of Christmas day at Steve's parents' house. We ate too much in general all week long. This is the time of year when I begin making resolutions in my head that I know I'll never keep, so I don't bother to write them down. I'm being published again in the Good Neighbor News, this time about New Year's resolutions. I'm also being published in either MiChild or Family magazine which is distributed throughout Michiana, and I'm pretty excited about that one! I really enjoy talking with the editor, and she's giving me some idea of the direction she wants me to take with both magazines. Right now I just want to get my name out there wherever I can, and build up to something... somewhere... that pays! I'm meeting again with the pastor's wife after the new year so that we can solidify our agreement and begin our real work (which is paid, of course, but I was talking about getting my own work/stories/poetry/ideas published and being paid for it).

Looking back, this year has held quite a bit of heartache and hallelujahs. I lost my grandfather in February, but my family is closer than it has been in years. I had my hours cut at work, but I've gotten some writing opportunities that I never expected. Approximately 479 of my friends had babies while I've remained frustratingly infertile, but all three of our teenagers are healthy, well-behaved, and have good grades. We racked up some rotten debt, but God's provided for all of our needs and most of our wants, we have a roof over our head, clothes and food, and we're making a dent in the debt as much as we can... should have it taken care of when we get our tax refunds this year. I gained weight but... well, if I'm looking for a bright side to that little nugget, I guess it makes my chest look better when I'm kinda tubby.

I highly recommend a movie called "Easy A". It was comedic, intelligent, and poignantly true-to-life.

It's official. Unless someone brings me 48 Little Golden Books STAT, I will not make my 100 book goal. I'm only slightly perturbed at that. I prefer to think positively. This blog was to reinvent myself, and I certainly like myself more at the end of the year than I did at the beginning. There are a tremendous number of things I'd still like to evolve where my personality and such are concerned, but it's not like this blog expires... I still own the domain (technically, my friend Ben does, but he's my techy guy) so I can just continue in January doing whatever feels like the next best step for me as a person and as a writer.

I think it's time for me to immerse myself in a hot bubble bath with a nice cup of tea and a magazine. I'm hoping I get a chance to post again before the new year, but we'll see.

Until Next Time,
SJS

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Long Weekend

His first car. Our son bought his first car on Saturday morning. It's a 2000 Mercury Cougar, bright yellow, all leather interior with a 6-CD changer and he got an amazing deal on it. This was the car I took a picture of last week and brought to him. That day, he took it to the BMV and got a registration and plates, got a new battery and two new tires, and we haven't seen him since. Okay, that's not precisely true, but it certainly feels like it. He's been shopping, picked up a 'friend who is a girl' and went to a movie, took his brother to work, visited his grandparents, went to church and youth group, and who knows where else. I'm happy to report that I will not have to wake up early this week to take him to work. Nor ever again, now that it occurs to me...

I'm not sure whether to celebrate or sob. I'll get back to you on that one.

In other events, we rented a couple of movies this weekend. "Inception" with Leonardo DiCaprio was pretty good, albeit a little longer than it needed to be. "The Kids Are All Right" was much, much better in my estimation. Julianne Moore and Annette Bening made a perfect couple, and the story was very believable. It led me to articulate a little better something that's been bothering me.

Though I consider myself a Christian, I rarely listen to Christian radio and I despise Christian news in particular. More often than not, it is judgmental in nature and attacks people who are pro-choice and people who are homosexual. I'm especially avoiding these stations this week because I have no desire to hear what they have to say about "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" being repealed. One of the major things that bothers me is that they have some sort of fear that, if gays are allowed to marry, they take this as some kind of a threat to the definition of family. How can this be true, in any way, shape or form? The divorce rate overall hovers around 50% and the divorce rate among couples who consider themselves Christian also hovers around 50%. How can it enhance family values to prohibit these men and women from sharing in the benefits that other married couples have available to them? How can it detract from family values to allow them to adopt children, to provide a loving and caring home for a child who would otherwise be left without parents? How often do straight couples become foster families for children only to abuse and harm them further? And perhaps what upsets me the most is, even if these people consider homosexuality a sin, how can they in good conscience judge or condemn others when they themselves are sinners as well? The bible clearly states that all have sinned and all fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), so what gives them the right to attempt to legislate against what they consider the sins of others when they are themselves free to sin in their own way? How is their sin all right and the sins of others damnable? (Take this all with a grain of salt, please, because not all Christians feel that homosexuality is a sin, or that homosexuals are going to Hell. I certainly don't feel that way.)

The whole "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy angered me from the moment I first heard the expression. We're saying, "it's totally fine for you to fight for your country, to defend our freedom, to put yourself in danger, to risk your life for all of us - but it's not okay for you to be completely honest with us about your sexuality because that makes us uncomfortable"? Really? And what honor those must have to serve under those circumstances! They are so dedicated that even though their country is telling them they're basically second-class citizens for being homosexual, they simply hide it and fight for the rest of us anyhow!

The entire premise of Christianity is to emulate Christ. To be servants. To love others. To give and forgive. How is this message being passed along if the first thing people think of when they think of Christians is that superior, holier-than-thou attitude? It angers me that I feel like I have to apologize for other Christians. I do plenty of apologizing for my own mistakes, but it upsets me that these people are giving the rest of us a bad name. It upsets me so much that I wrote an entire book about it. Hopefully I'll get it online at the beginning of the new year.

I'm still reading "From Dead to Worse", the next Sookie book. It's all right. The maddening pattern of Sookie being in a relationship with someone and that person randomly disappearing for an entire book is sort of becoming redundant. I kind of hope Quinn doesn't come back, though. I don't dislike him, I just don't care about him. If I don't care about a character, they need to die. In books, you know. Not real life.

Time to listen to football while I read. Back to work tomorrow... couple more small things to buy for Christmas for the kids, and then I'll be ready for the holiday!

SJS

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Subway Experience

So, this is the place. I'm sitting in the Subway (restaurant, not the dirty gritty place where you catch the underground train) where my husband goes every day after work. As often as possible, which is pretty much every day. He lovingly invited me to join in his reading time whenever I wanted. And, like a vampire, I accepted the invitation and might do so from time to time unless he rescinds it (in which case I might float backwards out the door, but I doubt it.) Apparently I've been reading entirely too much Sookie Stackhouse. True Blood Season Three is available for pre-order, Amazon keeps telling me every other day. I think Amazon is spying on me at night.

Our oldest son has a work party to attend this evening, to which he was allowed to invite his family. So the husband and I are going. I was fairly certain that 'family' meant spouses and kids, but Zach's pretty excited to have us come, and his boss said it was all right, so we'll be there. He looked at a car last night in Middlebury, but it wasn't exactly ... how should I put it? Oh... drivable. There's another car in the mix... I took a picture of it today to show him, so we'll see if he likes it or not. I think it's pretty sweet.

The Subway crew seems nice, which is a complete 180 from the Subway in Middlebury.

I suppose at some point I should do some Christmas shopping... Amazon sent me a few things. Maybe they spied on me when I opened the box? They could have little cameras in there... "Oh, she's reading Sookie Stackhouse novels, maybe she'd like True Blood Season 3 when it comes out... we should ask her on a daily basis if she would like to pre-order it at a reasonable price with free shipping until she caves like a spelunker." Or maybe I'm paranoid. Either one of these situations are equally feasible in my mind. I know they can spy on me because of the little Google Map satellite dude. You can click on him and drag him and drop him on a map and it will show you what he sees which, if you get close enough, is my house. The little Google Map satellite dude can see my house from my driveway. FROM MY DRIVEWAY. And if he can get that close, he can look through the window and feed information to the people at Amazon. I'm just saying.

I think I scared the little girl in the next booth when I made a mad dash for the booth my husband likes to sit at when it became available.

I've had a bend-over headache all day. You know that feeling you get when you drink a Slushee too fast? Brain freeze? That happens to me sometimes when I bend over to pick things up. It goes away quickly, but it's been happening all day long, which is irritating. I think it's lingering from the caffeine withdrawal headache I had last night because I chose a margarita over the rest of the Mountain Dew in the two liter. To be honest, the Mountain Dew might have won had it not been two days old. If I have to drink it out of a two liter, it's got to be fresh. Bubbly. It should go 'ffffrrrrssshhhhhh' in my face when I open the lid. I wonder if you can catch OCD? I think I got a case of it from my husband.

I really wish I had the money to get my engagement ring fixed. There's always something else that happens before I can do that. This time it was a mix of Christmas and my car getting fixed, though that was a lot less expensive than I'd dreamed it would be. And it runs almost as well as it did when I first got it. I'm anxious to see what my gas mileage will be at the end of this tank. I can already tell it's better than what it was before!

In addition to reading books here and there, I've also been reading a lot of commentary in my Bible. I have the New Oxford Annotated Bible with Apocrypha. I've never read the Apocrypha before, which is the non-canonical books that are not traditionally used for doctrinal purposes. I re-read the New Testament this year (all of those books don't count towards my 100 since I've read it all before), and then there is a lot of informational pages before getting to the actual Apocrypha. Geographical information, explanations of the 'evolution of the Bible as we know it', telling all about the different versions and when and under what circumstances they were translated and published, weights and measures and other info. I just have another two chapters of that and then the books of the Apocrypha. I'm not sure what to expect, because I don't know anyone else who has ever read them. There's a book called "Bel and the Dragon" which sounds pretty interesting to me...

I decided that I need to start a Christmas Club for next year. I'm sick of it coming to Christmas and having no money to buy gifts with, worrying about how to pay the bills over the holidays, and charging up the credit cards when I don't want to put another cent on them. I figured if Steve and I each put in $10 a week from our tip money, we won't even really notice it's gone, and then in November when we get it out, we'll have more money than we ever have for Christmas before! (I know, it's not a lot... that should tell you how meager things usually are for us at the holidays!)

Speaking of the holidays, I want to talk about a few songs that irritate me. One just because it's annoying, and one because it makes me mad. First, "Christmas Shoes". I'm not a big fan of any song that is written for the sole purpose of bringing its listeners to tears. I find those songs particularly sappy and usually refuse to listen to them. So when I first heard this song, it just annoyed me. The premise is that this little boy goes into a store to buy some pretty shoes for his mom because his dad says she's going to meet Jesus tonight, and he doesn't have enough money for the shoes so he looks at the next guy in line and expects him to pay for it. Yes, that's the actual premise of the song. But, you know... it's all prettied up and stuff. But what bugs me is, if your mom is going to die tonight, what are you out buying shoes for? First off, spend time WITH her! You're never going to see her again! She's dying! Second, how are shoes going to help anything? She's going from a bed to a coffin, she's not walking anywhere. And the lyric is something about how he wants her to look pretty when she meets Jesus tonight. He's Jesus! She already looks pretty to Him! Shoes are not going to help this situation in the least, so put them back since you can't afford them anyhow and you're just making the guy in line behind you feel obligated because you're little and sad looking. That's akin to begging. Actually, it IS begging. You belong at a subway in Italy trying to confuse tourists into giving you money to help them buy tickets. *See Italy Blog

The other song that bugs me, and for a real reason, not just because I'm a jaded cynical wench... "It's Called Christmas (with a Capital 'C')". Here, the song begins with a comedian in the background making fun of people who celebrate things other than Christmas. Talking about how it used to be okay to say "Merry Christmas" to a Jewish guy, and no one thought anything of it. Ha ha ha. And the whole song is upbeat and rhythmic, in a brainwashing sort of way, with people chanting about how everyone should say "Merry Christmas" because apparently if you say "Happy Holidays" it means you're not a Christian. Well, here are a few newsflashes for you: #1, not everyone IS a Christian. #2, YOU are not a Christian if you're making other people feel bad about themselves for not being a Christian. #3, saying the words "Merry Christmas" does not make you a Christian. And #4, for the love of God, saying Happy Holidays encompasses not just Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa, it also takes care of the end of Thanksgiving and the New Year! So, even if you say Happy Holidays to someone, you can still in good conscience feel superior in your fake Christianity because you celebrate Christmas and they don't. Okay, that might have been a jaded, cynical rant anyhow. I just didn't know it was going to be until I wrote it.

The husband showed up -- time to stop writing and start reading. It takes up less space.

SJS

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sunday, Icy Sunday

I knew when it rained last night that we were in for it. Frozen roads this morning prohibited us from going to church, so I'll attempt to download the service from last week on my computer. Although I'm not sure if the problem is the computer, or Facebook, or what, but I cannot upload a three minute video to Facebook in under six hours for some reason. Grumble.

I made a pretty good pot o'chili today for lunch, and grilled cheese. I also did some deeper cleaning in the kitchen, because it was pretty dusty on the walls and ceiling. I've been doing laundry all day, and catching up on my devotional reading, and the rest of the stuff that sadly falls through the cracks all week long. I'm awaiting the Bears-Patriots game, rooting for the Patriots but feeling a bit guilty because I'm also a Bears fan. It appears, by looking outside, that the roads are not improving and that perhaps those who are big fans of "Snow Days" might get what you most desire tomorrow.

My car is ready for the shop. The nice gentleman at Mullet's Service claims that it's just in severe need of a tune-up, but I can't help but think that it's something more than that. There are now 176000+ miles on the old Saturn. If it just needs a tune-up, I'll be pleasantly surprised. The appointment, which I scheduled three weeks ago, is for tomorrow, so I'll be dropping it off this evening, borrowing my mother-in-law's vehicle for the day tomorrow and hopefully getting it back in tip-top shape tomorrow night. Cheap. Hope. Hope, hope, hope. Pray.

Coughing has migrated to an uncomfortable place in my chest. I am greatly displeased. I had explained to the coughing that it needed to remove itself completely from my person, but apparently it thought that if it snaked its way into my chest and lower throat, I might not notice it's continuous presence. Wrong, coughing. I hear you, I feel you, and I abhor you. Get the hence. Take heartburn with you as well.

I'm reading "All Together Dead", which is the next Sookie Stackhouse novel. Things happen sort of slowly in this book, but are more interesting than the last couple of books. I'm glad that Bill is fairly invisible most of the time in the last few books, but I'm not a big fan of her current boyfriend. (Spoiler alert, somewhat late. Sorry.) There doesn't seem to be a point to dating Quinn. So he's a weretiger, big deal. So he has a heartbeat, unlike your last two hook-ups. Whatever. I do wonder who they're going to choose to portray him if/when they use him in TrueBlood. I'd pick Billy Zane and make him buff up a little.

By the way, you heard this here first, and if it ever happens, I want kudos for the fantastic idea: The movie Labyrinth needs to be made into a Broadway musical, with Neil Patrick Harris playing the Goblin King and Cobie Smulders as Sarah. I realize they're both in HIMYM, but they can take a break for awhile, I say.

Soldier Field appears to be prettttty snowy.

It's the perfect day for chili and grilled cheese, so I'm glad I made that earlier, but it's also the perfect day for hot cocoa with marshmallows and cool whip, which I believe I'll make sometime very soon here. If there were eggs in the house, my daughter and I would be making cookies!

Touchdown New England!

Off to do more laundry and make that hot cocoa... maybe read a little more while I watch the Patriots smoke the Bears on their own field, and then feel slightly guilty when I gloat internally.

SJS

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Subcutaneous Tears

Yep, just below the skin. Today, for absolutely no good reason whatsoever, I burst into tears at work. A little back story...

When I was fifteen, my parents had my little sister. There are no kids in between us, just my older brother and sister, so I was the baby for fifteen years of my life. I wasn't fond of the idea of having a little sibling, because teenagers are (among many things) the most selfish creatures on the planet. Most of them figure that out later and quickly mature into the realization that there are other things the universe centers on besides themselves. At any rate, doing the math, when I went off to college, Savannah was only three years old. This is also known as the cutest stage of childhood. As much as I never would have admitted it at the time, she was adorable and I missed her while I was away.

So, when I would come back and visit, it was a big deal. I didn't get home as often as I wanted to, but, when I did, one of our favorite things was to put music on in our basement, and I'd throw her into my arms and dance around like crazy, twirling her and fake-dropping her only to grab her at the last second and lift her back into my arms. And the whole time we'd be belting out Rod Stewart songs along with our CDs.

Today, while I was alone in the kitchen at work washing dishes, no customers or co-workers anywhere near, "Maggie May" came on the radio, and while I was singing along, smiling, I burst into tears.

My sister is eighteen years old.

I wasn't sobbing because that makes me particularly ancient, although that thought does cross my mind from time to time. I was sobbing in part because I don't have much time for her these days, and in part because she doesn't have much time for me. Between a husband and kids and several jobs, a boyfriend and job searches... it's just rough to get together these days. We have one of those relationships, though, that transcends such things. We catch up on the phone or email, and when we do get together, it's as if there's no huge age gap between us. We counsel one another, laugh and cry together, complain and rant, shop, eat, and laugh some more. It will help greatly when she has a driver's license... *HINT* It's funny how I think of my 18-year-old son as a kid, but my 18-year-old sister is ... well, my sister! :)

I finally made the Chinese food tonight that I'd been planning to make earlier in the week. I had all the ingredients, and was very much anticipating it. Five minutes before it was finished, I went to get the eggs from the refrigerator to fry up and put into the fried rice. No eggs. My loving 16-year-old son hard-boiled the rest of the eggs. All of the rest of them. Seven of them. No one in this house ever does anything with the eggs. And then, randomly on the day that I fully expect to use the eggs that have been in the fridge for two weeks without fail... no eggs. I made him go to the neighbor's house with a dollar to offer to buy a couple from them, but they weren't home either. I took this to mean that my cashew chicken fried rice was not meant to have eggs in it tonight. I was greatly displeased. My tummy is still a bit unsatisfied. But that could be because I am greatly displeased that there is no chocolate in this house, either. Who does the shopping around here, anyway!?

Oh.

My meeting was canceled today, so I had some unexpected free time. I went to Concord Mall and did a little Christmas shopping. There's a little used book store where the Waldenbooks used to be, and his prices are fantastic! Check it out if you're in the area.

The husky continues to bound in the snow for long intervals of time, and wants to be outside at all times. The min-pin continues to gaze longingly at the Christmas tree in hopes that we'll allow him to use it as his own personal indoor toilet. I dread spring each year, because the little dog won't jump off the deck to do his business when there is snow. He thinks that three steps outside the door, directly on the deck and preferably up against the house, is the perfect place if we must put him out. And another thing: I have GOT to figure out what sort of drug dealers the previous owners were, because the big dog will not stop licking the floor in the living room. It's like someone dropped some awesome powder in there, and after three years of living here, she still hasn't licked it all up. She's obsessed.

I'm sufficiently tired of writing at the moment, and I would like to search the house one last time for chocolate and then go to bed, disgruntled, and read for awhile.

SJS

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Only 50 More...

Okay, so today I reached my fiftieth book. I realize with a sardonic smile on my face that most of you are rolling your eyes at me, knowing I never had a chance of making it to 100 books by the end of December. And to you people I say...

Yeah. I know. But don't rule me out yet. I'm sure there are fifty Little Golden Books I haven't yet read, and I can make it happen if I want to sink to such a level.

So, there's snow on the ground. Not a big fan. Well, I sort of am. It depends on my mood and the amount of time I have to spend driving in the snow. I dislike the cold, but I love the way the yard looks covered in white. I dislike the ice, but it sparkles a lot and I do like shiny things. (My daughter says she does not have A.D.D. ... she has A.D.O.S. which means Attention Deficit OOOOH SHINY! I think she gets that from me.)

I'm sincerely debating whether to get out of bed and dig out the Christmas decorations and the tree from the basement, since I lack sufficient funds to buy a real tree this year. The other half of me is really enjoying staying in the warm, cozy bed with my sick husband while we watch football. It's kind of nice having nothing to do all day long, and it's such a rare occasion that I feel like embracing it.

This writing job could be the provision I've been praying for. In fact, I'm fairly certain that it is. She mentioned perhaps giving me an advance, and if she did that right now in December, there's a chance we could have a decent Christmas after all. Believe me, I'm not all materialistic or anything, it would just be really nice to finally be able to give everyone some nice things for Christmas one time. Every year I feel like I should apologize for the lack of coolness in our gift-giving. The only person I've even gotten a single thing for Christmas for yet is my cousin who is stationed in Korea, and that's only because I had to send it out by December 5th or it wouldn't make it there in time for Christmas!

I finished "Definitely Dead" this morning (well, probably afternoon). I'll be starting the next one later in the day, most likely. If I get the gumption to throw on my robe and wander into the office/library in the next room. We'll see.

My creative juices are not flowing much today either, so with my apologies I'll end this and hopefully have something interesting to report to you tomorrow.

SJS

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Strength Will Rise

"Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord".

Probably a scripture, but also a pretty good song. The post I wrote about Thanksgiving, the things that are hard to be thankful for, they're mostly about waiting. Waiting to have a baby, waiting to get out of Middlebury and into a bigger city... and waiting to be a 'real' author... all things happen in His time, if they are meant to be.

Let me tell you a little story.

A week or so ago, disgruntled with my pre-Thanksgiving weight (knowing that I'd be putting on a few more pounds that Thursday), I packed my gym bag in an effort to force myself to go to the gym after work on Tuesday. I have the best of intentions when I pack. I make sure that everything is in there: sports bra, bathing suit, workout clothes, towel, body wash, etc. so that when I arrive at the gym, there is no reason for me not to walk in, work out, shower, enjoy the Arizona room and maybe the hot tub, and feel good that I finally did something productive. After work, however, I feel like dragging my espresso-smelling body to the car, going home, and taking a nap. Inevitably, I have this argument with my brain while I drive - am I going to turn towards the gym, or home? This time, tail between my legs, I drove to the gym. I hadn't packed a book to read while I walked on the treadmill, so I was very close to talking myself out of the entire workout, but at the last second I decided I'd pick up a cheap-o magazine at the Martin's next door and get myself in the gym. If I got through the door, then I'd be sure to at least walk on the treadmill. And so it was.

As I entered the cooldown period on the treadmill, Kelly walked over. Kelly has been my 'gym girl' for as many years as I've been going there. She works at Fitness USA, has for 12 years, and we always chat when we're both there at the same time. But this time, she walked up to me with purpose. Kelly let me know, in no uncertain terms, that she didn't even want to be there today and had, in fact, almost left early, but she had been hoping and praying that I'd show up. (I have not been there for a couple of months, by the way.) She said, "You're involved in theatre, and I wondered if you knew anyone who would be willing to write my pastor's wife's life story into a play?" Bang. Theatre and writing. I said, "Yeah. Me."

From there, we had an hour-long conversation while I feigned my workout routine. It was very inspirational, and we learned a lot about each other. After all these years, neither of us had ever spoken about our beliefs. And yet, here she was praying that I'd show up, staying at work waiting... and something talked me into going to the gym at the last second, while the only thing I wanted to do was go home and take aforementioned nap.

And this, kids, is how I got my first real, paid writing job. I am working on a seven-month project, writing and editing both the play version and book version of the life of this lovely woman. That's all of the personal information I can accommodate you with, but suffice to say that while waiting might be the hardest part, it's well worth it in the end.

And, as my good friend Marla says, "Props up to J.C."

In other news, I'm reading the sixth Sookie Stackhouse novel, and The Ragamuffin Gospel concurrently. This Sookie novel is less Sucky. Well, it's pretty good, actually. Back on par with the ones before it, at the very least. Both Steve and Amberly say that the next one is really good, so I'm excited about that.

Our son is taking his S.A.T. as we speak. I'm nervous FOR him. He's an excellent student, but test-taking has never been his strong suit. He brought home the study materials and has been working on them by himself. I tried to force a real breakfast on him this morning (he hates eating breakfast, much as I do) but he refused. I told him he had to have SOMETHING, so he ate some Pop Tarts and milk which I guess is better than nothing. After all, he IS 18. I can't really force a breakfast sandwich down his throat. He's halfway through the test right now. I remember how nervous I was taking the S.A.T. and the A.C.T. back in the day. This one is graded on a much different scale than it was back then.

I finally received my copy of the Good Neighbor News, in which my Christmas story was published this month. I think you can read it if you click on the link and download the PDF. There was a typo -- they printed "Miracle OF 34th Street" instead of "ON". That was definitely not my typo. I think. Hehe. But it's pretty cool to see something I wrote in print. Also, I've been emailing back and forth with the editor of "Family Magazine of Michiana" and she said they are looking for great local writers, and asked what I'd be interested in writing. They have research/interview articles for which they pay, and personal exposure articles for which they don't. Right now I'm just trying to get my name out there as much as possible. This is one of those situations for which the adage "When it rains, it pours" actually becomes positive!

There's a sticky smudge on the McDonald's window next to me that's been driving me nuts for the last two hours. You'd think I'd stand up, get a napkin, and wipe it off. No. The fear lies within me that, the moment I do that, it'll just smear into a larger smudge and then I'll have to ask for Windex and paper towels and next thing you know I'm the official Window McCleaner.

Here's hoping that the last two hours of testing went well for the boy, and the next two hours go even better! :)

SJS

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Just Kick Me in the Face

I could write a fifteen-page diatribe on my distaste for Ohio State the team, and Ohio State the fans as an entity. I could write a thirteen-page rant on the irritating qualities of Michigan State fans and random things I dislike about their team and their coach. However, let's just say that today I'd much rather have woken up to an angry pack mule kicking me in my lower jaw. That's how I feel about football so far. Right now I'm watching the Notre Dame/USC game, and many of you might assume that, as a Wolverine, I'd be booing the Fighting Irish. Normally, this would be true of a Michigan fan. However, my husband is a Notre Dame fan, and it's better for me when they win, because he's in a generally upbeat mood. Read: I have a better chance of a pleasant evening.

Tomorrow, our oldest son turns eighteen years old. I remember the excitement of turning eighteen, and thinking that I was finally an adult. I remember the expectation that I would wake up and feel more mature. I could vote. I could play bingo and buy lottery tickets and cigarettes. I did all of these things right away (except for the voting thing) and pretended that I felt older, but the truth was, I was the same scared little girl inside and I really didn't feel different at all. I know that Zach has been counting down the minutes (I know this because he continues to post them on his Facebook page...) and I just wish I could make him understand that this won't change anything. There will still be rules in our household, he still needs to respect them, and he already knows that. It's different with him -- I was more willful and rebellious at that age. He has become, for the most part, pretty responsible and mature. Maybe adulthood will look better on him than it did on me.

Not that I've completely grown into it yet.

I finished reading that next Sookie Stackhouse novel that was more boring than the rest. "Dead as a Doornail" sort of seemed as if Charlaine Harris just churned it out and put it on paper to fill a deadline. There was nothing new or passionate about it, as I had come to expect from the rest of the books. Steve says the next one gets much better than all of the rest, so I'm looking forward to starting that later tonight.

My cousin Charlene is in South Korea, in the Army. She's posted on her Facebook that she is fine, but I hate that she is there, that she is so far away, that things seem to be dangerous there lately. I also hate that there is absolutely nothing I can do about it.

My nephew Mark came to Thanksgiving this year, and I was so happy to have him. Mark is only seven years younger than I am, and he was my only nephew for a long time. I was just a child when he was born, obviously, and a little jealous of all the attention that he got, but as we both got older I really enjoyed spending time with him. We've not been as close in the last several years, and I've missed being around him.

There's something about the last load of laundry in the dryer that makes me lose my initiative for doing laundry. No matter how much I tell myself to get in there and fold it, it doesn't happen for like, three days. Usually until someone else throws a basket of dirty laundry in there, and I have to put something else in the dryer. Then the cycle continues. (Cycle -- no pun intended.)

My husband, my father-in-law, and my nephew all figured out how to hook up our wireless internet over Thanksgiving, so now I can sit on the comfy couch while I type this. I'm pretty excited about that. They did all of this while I played penny poker in the dining room. I didn't take everyone's money this year like I usually do, because we didn't play blackjack. I always deal blackjack and take everyone's money. Even my kids. Yeah. They gotta learn sometime, the house always wins. Think of it this way: I'm saving them from a lifetime of gambling addiction.

I do believe I should get back to editing my last book so I can get it put up for sale. Have a very lovely rest-of-your-weekend!

SJS

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Spirit of Thankfulness

At the beginning of the year, this blog had more than a few purposes. The name of it, "A Year of Reinvention", alluded to my quest to eliminate as much negativity from my attitude as possible. This is obviously a lifelong quest, and a year isn't going to do much.

But it's done something.

My tendency has always been to expect the worst, because then I'll be pleasantly surprised if something good happens. My tendency has been to focus on the negative because it's easier -- there's so much of it -- and then when something positive happens, it'll feel exponentially greater because of all the negative I've surrounded myself with. My tendency has been to spout off about anything and everything that's bothering me, to the people around me, in my prayers, to the newspaper if someone really upsets me to the point I feel I need a public forum, and on my blog. I've done that this year.

Here's the difference:

The ability of this negativity to permeate who I am has been lessened. Those of you who know me best and are around me everyday, or close to it, might not notice a difference. You might still see me as someone who likes to hear herself talk, or might still listen to my rants while rolling your eyes behind my back. And that's fine. But I know the difference inside.

There's a song that I hear inside my head sometimes that I never heard before. Brandon Heath has a special way of describing emotion in songs and then putting a hook in there to make it spin around in your head all day long. The rest of the song is fantastic, but this is the part that plays and plays:

"Give me your eyes for just one second
Give me your eyes so I can see
Everything that I keep missing
Give me your love for humanity
Give me your arms for the broken-hearted
The ones that are far beyond my reach
Give me you heart for the ones forgotten
Give me your eyes so I can see"

I am beginning to see things I never did before. I'm beginning to put things into perspective. At 33 years of age, I'm beginning to change my focus. I still dislike many things, I still get angered by situations and by people, I still fail miserably on a daily basis. But I'm beginning to feel more whole than I ever have by grasping onto a small spirit of thankfulness somewhere deep inside. I'm realizing that if I nurture that seed instead of quashing it at every given opportunity, not only will it change my life but it will change the lives of the others around me.

Today, I am thankful for all the basics: food on my table, friends and family, shelter, and the like. It's easy to be thankful for the good things in life. But I have to dig deeper. I have to find that seed, that spirit of thankfulness inside and let it overwhelm me. I need to let it take me over. This is just the beginning of the quest.

I am THANKFUL that it's been over six years of trying and I'm still not pregnant. This has taught me to be persistent, to give up control over the things I had no control over to begin with. It has brought comfort and love from friends and family that I never knew really cared. It has taught me to rely on God and not my own understanding. During the course of the six years, God has brought all three of our other kids to live with us and given us a strong bond. I'm less selfish than I once was, in part because of this (though everyone remains selfish to a point... I'm still working on that!) I've learned to sacrifice, and given these kids all of my attention that I might not have been able to if I'd had a baby at the same time. And if/when I do give birth, someday that child will hear the story of how very much his/her father and I really, really wanted to have a baby.

I am THANKFUL that I am in Middlebury, Indiana. It's true I despise the weather, the smell of horse manure, the lack of job opportunities, and I probably mentioned the weather but I'll do it again. However, as much as I've been yearning all this time to get out into the world, be in a big city, and "start real life" (haha!) I'm smack in the middle of real life and I finally realize it. I'm close to my family and many friends, my kids are thriving in a safe, good school. I can have our dogs roaming the backyard instead of walking them down cement sidewalks and leaving them in a one-bedroom apartment all day. This is a good place to live, and I'll be here as long as God wants me to be.

I am THANKFUL that I'm not a best-selling author. As much as I dream of it, if it ever happens, there would be pressures that I have not yet imagined. Writing for newspapers, online websites, blogging, and e-publishing have taught and will continue to teach me humility, will hone my writing, and will show me who my true friends are. They're the ones who read what I write whether they like it or not, and offer criticism that will help me to become the writer I am truly meant to be.

The trick is to take something in my life that irritates me, and start thinking around it from every angle. I need to take the negatives and surround them with positives. I need to let the seed inside of me grow until it can't help but burst out of its container and show the beauty that was once held in a tiny, nearly microscopic hidden entity called

POTENTIAL.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. I hope you let your seed grow, too.

SJS

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Bullets

My day would be best described in a quote from the movie "Fight Club":

"I want you to hit me as hard as you can."

Why, you ask? Because it would feel better than most of what I've been through today. Or, at least, it would get my mind off of it.

My day would best be described, hereafter, in bullet points:

*At work, approximately 467 people commented on my use of a Tom Brady jersey as my apparel. Approximately 466 of these comments were more than a bit negative. I hate Indiana.

*Freezing rain puts me in a foul mood every time. I hate Indiana.

*The BMV in Goshen failed to give me the print out of required articles for a driving test for my son when I scheduled it. I looked online to retrieve all proper articles for identification, SSN, proof of residence, etc. The key article necessary for taking a driving test at the BMV is to bring your own vehicle. This was not mentioned on the website. My son cannot drive a stick-shift yet, therefore my car was not a viable option. I hate Indiana.

*It's 4:48pm and I have to use my headlights. I hate Indiana.

On the plus side, I went to Burger King with my son, and he was in a much better mood after cashing his paycheck and purchasing the brand spankin' new Black Ops game for his XBox. I'll likely see him again sometime in December. Our other son has a job interview, which is also a plus.

I've reached a lull in the Sookie Stackhouse novels. This particular book (5?) is ... well, to put it delicately, it's Sucky. I shall hereafter refer to it as the Sucky Stackhouse novel.

Mainly, my goal for the day was to use 'hereafter' three times in my blog.

There we go.

SJS

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Sweet Weekend

Brace yourself for a real shock:

I went on a date with my husband.

I know, right!? It's been forever since all three kids were out of the house at the same time. The boys spent the night at a friend's house, and Aria went to a sleepover for her cousin's birthday, and we had the house all to ourselves.

We went to Stirred, Elkhart's premiere sushi and martini bar. I love saying that. It sounds so fancy. The truth is, we work at the coffee shop next door, and our owner owns the bar, too. So we dropped in at the art exhibition that was going on, then stepped into Stirred for ... well, martinis and sushi. I'm not a fan of sushi myself, but they have Cowboy Rolls which have practically raw beef inside, and a horseradish sauce over them. I could eat like, four rolls myself. Being that we are in a financial slump, but still wanted to have sort of a date, we ate there because we can write the food on our time card and just have it taken out of our next check. We rented Natural Born Killers on Blu-Ray, which I had never seen before (if you can believe it!)

This morning, I made steak and eggs for breakfast and we watched some Big Bang Theory. The kids called literally within one minute of each other to say they were coming home (and one needed a ride). The husband and I kissed each other goodbye. Who knows when the next time we'll see each other on a date will be?

Also, next time it happens, we might find somewhere for the dogs to stay for the night, too. They needed to go out around midnight, and at seven and nine in the morning.

I've spent a long time reading today, and finished yet another Sookie Stackhouse Novel, "Club Dead". There were a couple of shocking elements in this one, one of which upset me and one of which was quite thrilling. I'm looking forward to the next one, because Steve says I'll like it. He knows my taste pretty well when it comes to vampires. No pun intended. Okay, it was somewhat intended.

I really dislike daylight savings time. It's only 5:00 and the sun is going down, which is irritating. I'd be less irritated if they called it something like 'daylight wasting time'. How are we saving it? This just makes it more likely, as I work most of the day, that I'll never see the stinking daylight except for a little bit on the weekends.

On a bright note (hehe, that time I really did NOT intend the pun), I have nothing else to do this evening and can read, and read, and read some more! Plus, our daughter is making chocolate chip cookies... ahhhhhhh.

SJS

Friday, November 19, 2010

Bbbrrr....r...r Sorry, My Lips Froze

I'm rather irritated with the weather. I enjoy autumn more than any other season, but it's getting closer to winter now and it's very cold outdoors. I don't like it when it's cold outdoors. If it's this cold, it might as well snow. I'm not a fan of snow; at least, not driving in it. Definitely not my son driving in it, which is what is likely going to happen since he has a driver's test scheduled for Wednesday next week. Is it wrong that part of me is secretly hoping he misses it by just a teensy, weentsy little bit? That he has to wait and take another driving test and that, maybe, just maybe, they don't have an opening until ... say, June next year? I'm not the happiest person on Earth that he's going to be driving at all. That he's even old enough to drive. He didn't stop getting older when he was 12, like I told him to. In fact, none of them listened to me when I said to knock it off, that whole 'getting older' thing. But it sends me into fits of panic, thinking about him driving on ice and snow. I realize he has to do it sometime. But why can't that be when he's 30?

Anyhow, it's cold.

I found out this week that one of my short stories is being published in a small local newspaper-like publication called The Good Neighbor News. My husband has been trying to get me to write for it. Unfortunately, I didn't get the hint because his way of communicating to me that he thought I should write for it was to sit the paper on my desk each month after he was done reading it. I would look at the paper, wonder why he left his stuff on my desk, and either put it back on his desk or throw it away. Once he finally mentioned to me that he thought I should write for it, I contacted the editor and sent her a writing sample. Sometime next month, "Christmas Memories" will be printed. Right there in black and white. I'm pretty psyched about this.

I finished reading the next Sookie Stackhouse novel, "Living Dead in Dallas". The books are an easy read, so it's a nice addition to my somewhat sporadic attempt to finish the 100 books I was planning to read this year. I keep thinking I can do it, then I get disgruntled, then I start writing a lot which is what the point was to begin with. I finished writing my book of short stories and poetry, I just need the cover art and then I'm putting it up on Kindle and Nook. I'll include a link as soon as that happens. Please donate to the cause of making me independently wealthy so I no longer have to slave away at a day job that has been gradually forcing me to lose faith in humanity.

Did I mention it's cold?

Though I have no good reason to be as sleepy as I am, since I did not see Harry Potter last night, I'm going to go snuggle up in bed and read and snooze for a little bit before tackling the rest of the day. Hope you have a nice weekend.

SJS

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Look What I Can Do!!!

I read a book! Yayyyy! *insert cheering sound byte*

Dead Until Dark, by Charlaine Harris. Yes, I read a Sookie Stackhouse novel. It was better than the tv show, True Blood. At least, in my opinion it was. Which is what I give on this blog. My opinion. If you are looking for something other than that, please look elsewhere.

I started the next book in the series last night, and read a few chapters of it while I was raking and burning leaves in the yard. I've smelled like smoke more in the last two days than I did back when I used to smoke. Although leafy smoke and cigarette smoke have distinct differences.

I'm making Chinese food again tonight. Zachary is finally taking care of his college applications and scholarship stuff. I'm very glad for that. He sent the application to Ball State today, which was $50. That's how much it was to apply to University of Michigan back in my day. ND was $100. I really want him to be able to go to Ball State. He's okay with going local for a year if he has to, which I'd prefer. It's less expensive, he could live at home and get used to college life for a year before he actual goes away. We'll see what happens when he takes the SAT in December.

The car is not as dead as I thought it might be. I drove it with the mechanic guy and he said it's badly in need of a tune up, spark plugs, etc... that it's just 'missing'. I'm not sure who it's missing (haha, this is a joke, I'm not an idiot). So he can get me in on December 13th. If it doesn't fall apart by then, I might have it fixed for Christmas! So, for anyone wanting to know what I want for Christmas... I want my repair bill paid!

Off to work on the chickity-China, the Chinese chicken.

SJS

Sunday, November 14, 2010

An Ode to Sleeping In

Rare are the joys that come to me from a morning of sleeping in. This weekend was fun, for the most part, but still exhausting. I thought I was going to drive to LaGrange to pick Aria up, but it turns out my sister-in-law is one of the most awesome people on the face of the planet and she's keeping her for a few extra hours and driving her to Goshen later, where we're going to celebrate my niece and other-awesome-sister-in-law's birthdays. My house is silent at the moment. Have I extolled the virtues of silence lately?

Listen:




Wasn't that wonderful!?

After Friday's shot and BMV proceedings, Saturday brought good things. We went to the Notre Dame-Utah game. I don't dislike Notre Dame. I am in their corner completely, as long as they are not playing my team. The game was a pretty good one, though the weather left much to be desired. We were pretty wet and cold by the end of the first quarter. I found myself praying for no overtime. Zachary came with us and bought a ticket, but it turns out our friend had an extra ticket in addition to our two, so Zachary got to sit with us anyhow. Then we went to Buffalo Wild Wings to celebrate after the game was over. Zachary drove part of the way there, and the rest of the way home. My muscles are sore from clinging for dear life onto the seat in fear, but honestly, he did a pretty good job. Definitely better at driving the automatic van than my stick-shift car. I still firmly believe he needs to learn to drive a manual transmission. They're cheaper, better on gas, and I personally feel I have more control over the way the car handles. Well, not so much anymore since it has 177,000 miles on it and will likely die any moment...

Aria spent the night at her cousin's house last night. It was a sleepover for her birthday, and that's where she remains this morning (see first paragraph about my awesome sister-in-law Beth). I slept until 10:40. My husband is holed up in his office reading, the dogs are sleeping, Michael is sleeping, and Zachary is at his church after working all night and sleeping for only an hour and a half. I don't know how he manages to drum on Sunday mornings. I really wish he'd go to church with us instead. There are plenty of music opportunities there, but I think he'd be learning a lot more of what it's like to be a Christian. Our church focuses on the loving-people aspect which is really what it's all about, anyway.

I'm about to grab some coffee and catch up on my devotional reading, my regular reading, and perhaps an early nap... or a hot bath... or a hot bath and an early nap. Oh, the possibilities are endless! I'm giddy with antici..................

SJS



...pation.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Mulligan, please?

Have you ever had one of those days when, at the end of it, you just want a do-over? That's pretty much how today felt. I took Zach to work this morning, then went to work myself (which was long and exhausting). After a rush at 1pm to get out of there, I picked Zachary back up at work, came home to grab a bunch of necessary items, then traveled to Goshen with Zach and Aria. Aria was scheduled for two shots today, but ended up getting three at the health department. Then we went to the BMV so Zachary could take his test and get a new permit, but found out that he can actually schedule his driving test and get a license this month. He is floating on air. I did the banking, dropped Aria off at home and let Zach drive my car a little bit. It's a stick shift, and he's only driven one once before, so it was a little rocky at first, but he did a good job. I'm proud of him, but I'm frightened as well.

Frightened that he's growing up. That he's graduating this year. That he's turning eighteen in a couple of weeks. That he'll be going off to college. That he's even going to be behind the wheel of a car! That he can BUY a car! That he'll be driving a car with snow on the ground. I'm plagued by all of these things, and there's nothing I can do to stop them. Unless, perhaps, I cut off his legs. Then I guess a few things would be remedied. Hmm....

At any rate, I took the kids and pigged out at McDonald's in celebration for Zachary, and in pity for Aria and her aching arms. That third shot really hurt. I could tell the difference in her expression. The first two, no big deal. On the third one, she looked worse than when she'd gotten her ears pierced a few years back. I felt terrible for her because I know she really hates getting shots. But this is much better than the alternative. I keep telling her she'll thank me when she doesn't die of meningitis and/or diptheria, tetanus, and pertussis.

I just feel cranky, achy, tired, and uncomfortable. I want to start over at the beginning and try it with a better mindset.

I finished writing the short story/poetry book. I should have it up for sale within a week. I'm extremely excited about this, and can't wait to see what happens with it.

A rather boring, informational blog today, I know. For that, I apologize. I wish I were feeling more eloquent. I'm listening to "Juno" in the background, and Diablo Cody's writing just sort of drains me of any creativity.

I am so ridiculously sick of not being pregnant.

SJS

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Slowing Down

I find that my weekdays are pretty hectic. I work all day, I run errands, I chauffer the kids from place to place, I grocery shop, I clean other people's houses, I clean our house, I make dinner, I do laundry, and I look forward to the weekends.

The unfortunate part of this equation is that my weekends seem to be slightly more chaotic from time to time than my weekdays are. This weekend, we attended a surprise party for my brother-in-law's thirtieth birthday, for which I made a ton of barbeque turkey meatballs on Friday. We got back home around eleven at night, kids running around like chickens to put away leftover food, clean up dishes, brush and floss, and sit down for a half hour to watch something together before bed. This morning, I made bacon, eggs, and chocolate chip pancakes for everyone since it's a big day today. The SwingFry, which is the show choir concert and fish/chicken fry at the high school, is today. It's a showcase of many area choirs, plus our own middle- and high school choirs from Northridge. Our daughter also had a Civics project at Krider Gardens downtown, where she needed to be dropped off at noon. The boys had to be at the high school at 12:30, Aria had to be picked back up at 2. I did three loads of laundry, cleaned up the counters, table, and stove, let the dogs out twice, gave our husky her antibiotic, sprayed the little dog with flea spray because he was biting at something, and got caught up with my devotionals and journaling for the week. This was all before 2:30, which is where we are now. The rest of the day consists of coordinating with family and watching performances: Aria's choir is at 4:30, Michael has a solo performance of a song he wrote right after that, the high school concert choir is at 7:30, and the Northern Lights performance is at 8:45. Then it's clean up, change, and back home... not sure exactly how long that will take, but it all lends itself to a fairly hectic day. And night. And that reminds me -- at some point in between all of that, I'm going to have to come back home and let the dogs out again!

What is it about our daily lives that lacks the ability to balance? Is it women in particular, or do men have this problem? I have a tendency, as a wife, to fall into all of the household responsibilities by default. My husband works, then goes off to read for a few hours, comes home to eat dinner, reads more if he hasn't gotten caught up, checks his email, and watches some television or a movie with the family. He mows the lawn if it needs mowing and cleans the gutters if they need cleaning. He doesn't hesitate to help out if I ask him to help out, though. I just need to get into the habit of doing that more often. Years ago, when women didn't work outside the home, it wouldn't have been as much of a problem. Now, we work all day and then work all night. Sometimes I can't sleep in the evening because I'm thinking of the chaos of tomorrow. I need to learn the fine art of taking things one day at a time. It's one of the things I admire about my husband -- he's able to live by that philosophy. He doesn't tend to get as ruffled as I do, or to let things permeate him in the same way. He bounces back quickly. I, on the other hand, allow myself to get heavy-laden by obligations, feel guilty for not spending time with everyone I want to spend time with or who wants to spend time with me, and feel like I'm never quite living up to expectations. Is that a male/female thing? A mindset? Or am I just making life too difficult for myself?

"Cast your cares upon Him, for He cares for you", it says in 1st Peter.

I'm casting.

I remember going fishing with my father when I was younger. He was a charter boat captain on Lake Michigan and the St. Joseph River. I loved lake fishing because we could set up the rods, and I would just watch to see if a fish was biting. The rod would pop up, we'd grab it together, and he'd help me reel in a salmon, or lake trout, or whatever it happened to be. River fishing, on the other hand, I enjoyed because we were spending time together, but it was not my favorite way. Casting was a learned art, or science, or something for which I did not have a knack. I would do exactly as he said, watch exactly what he showed me, listen carefully to his words, then pull the rod back and cast my line directly into a tree. Or a bush. Or on the shore. Or a rock. Or his line. And my dad would remain as patient as he could, untangling the ridiculous mess I'd made and reeling it back in, sometimes re-casting for me so he could fish for awhile before I tried it again. It was the trying that mattered to him, I think. I didn't just sit there and try to do everything myself. I listened and learned and then attempted. Sometimes I got it right. Most times I didn't. But he loved me anyway.

I'm still casting. And God, being the Father that He is, is patient with me just like my own father was, and still is. Sometimes I try to do everything all on my own, and I screw it up, regardless of how often I listen and attempt to learn from His words. Sometimes He takes my ridiculous mess of a life and untangles it for me so I can start over. Sometimes He lets it sit there so I can ruminate while He attends to other things. But, like my own father, He loves me anyway.

I'm casting. I'm just not very good at it.

SJS

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Weary Wednesday

I keep wanting to go to First Wednesday at our church, but Wednesdays are evil, evil days at work. It's the day I go in the earliest, it's usually the busiest, and by the end of the work day I'm wiped. I feel like vegging out, eating junk food, and watching television or sleeping. I wish that First Wednesday would be on a Tuesday or something, but that would be an inappropriate moniker, then.

I had a great discussion with my husband yesterday evening about my writing. He'd just read a couple of the newer short stories I had written and told me I should really think about immersing myself in the writing of a full-blown novel. (I took this as good news, because he's very honest, sometimes to a fault. If I sucked at writing, he would've quickly changed the subject and never mentioned me writing something novel-sized.) He's talking like, 400-500 pages. Intimidating idea. I'm not sure my brain functions well enough to detail my way through a 400-page story about anything. But I'm giving it some serious thought.

I've always wanted to write horror fiction, but every time I write anything, it becomes a story about a relationship. Friendship, marriage, boyfriend/girlfriend, whatever. I'm good at relationships. (Well, let me rephrase that -- I suck at relationships so badly that I've gotten a lot of good information over the years of what not to do). I'm not afraid to venture into another line of writing, I just don't quite know how or where to begin. I guess that's sort of scary. Back to intimidating, I mean. I'll have to give this all a lot more thought, and then figure out when in God's name I'd have time to write a novel. He suggests 20-30 minutes a day. It's a great idea, but sometimes I'm only creative for seven minutes a day and it's at a very inopportune time when I have no keyboard or paper handy. But, in forcing myself to write this blog as much as I have, I've gained insight into what/when works for me, and how often I can bank on having the ability to put down some thoughts on a weekly basis.

This bedroom is annoying. At night it is ridiculously hot, so I have to shut the vent. During the day, while the vent is off, it gets pretty cold, and when I'm in bed with the fans on, it's even colder.

I would like some food now. I continue forgetting to eat on a somewhat regular basis. I had coffee today, but no food. I had to stop and think about whether or not I had some kind of snacky, but I didn't. I have to think of something to scrounge up for dinner...

Taking a catnap right now (dognap, actually - shorter, less restful, and my bed is, in fact, full of small dog. He has separation anxiety. It's amazing how much space a 14-lb. animal can take up!)

Falling asleep,
SJS

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Election Day

I realize I'm about to incite some venomous emotions here, but I didn't vote today. I'm not inherently patriotic for one thing, and I'm more than a bit jaded for another. Let me get a few things out.

Yes, voting matters, and g'won with your bad self for doing it. I'm not trying to bring you down. I'm not saying your vote won't count. I'm not saying anything negative at all, in fact. I choose not to vote unless I have some serious faith in a candidate. That has only happened one time, and the faith that I had in that particular candidate at the time hasn't necessarily waned, but it hasn't been seen to fruition, either.

Being "proud" to be an American has never been something I'm on board with. I think Americans are a lot of things not to be proud of, most of the time. We're excessive with food, we're excessive with material items, we're excessive with shoving our agendas in the faces of others without listening to what they have to say. We think we're gods. We think we have the upper hand over the rest of the world, and that only we can save the others, or help them. It's a lot of what I despise about people who call themselves Christians without fully understanding the meaning of the word. They lord themselves over the rest of the people who aren't believers, and leave a bad taste in their mouth for what Jesus actually said. They have an air of arrogance about them that turns people off rather than brings people in. No, I'm not proud to be an American. I'm pretty shamed to be one, most of the time. I am, however, lucky to have been born here where we have rights and privileges that we could have nowhere else, and for that I'm grateful.

One of my rights is the right not to vote if I don't want to. No, I do not take for granted the fact that women are able to vote. I make a choice every election day, a choice whether to vote or not. I'm grateful to have that choice.

Maybe if I saw some positive ad campaigns from some candidates whose politics I agreed with, I would vote. Maybe if I saw some candidates who HAD politics I agreed with, I would vote. But the beliefs I have are pretty difficult to put together. I don't fall under the heading of Democrat or Republican, or any other random party you might feel like throwing at me right now. There are pros and cons to all of them holistically, and there are pros and cons to all of the individual candidates' beliefs. The only solution would be for me to run for office. Then at least I'd agree with all the politics. But the other thing is a gut feeling -- I either like a candidate or I don't. That being said, I'd likely not vote for me, either, because I'm not really very fond of myself most of the time. Plus, I'm pretty busy.

Pizza and garlic bread for dinner tonight. Baby steps on the diet/exercise thing. I'm attempting first off to add physical activity to my lifestyle on a more regular basis and do some minor cutting down of the excess food/drink I'm so wont to pour down my throat. I went to the gym today, did some machines and some cardio, and hung out in the Arizona room for a little while, which is my favorite place to be. If I ever get rich, I want an Arizona room in my house.

For now, it's time to start making food and watching the news pour in from the polls, since that's all that will be on television. The only thing I'll be glad for tomorrow is not having to hear how evil this or that candidate is for whatever they are supposedly doing/not doing, or who they voted with/against in the past. We'll be back to our regularly scheduled inane commercials designed to make us buy more fast food, more shiny cars, more booze, and more stuff we cannot possibly live without.

I'm Stephanie Jean, and I approve this message.

SJS

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Everyday Miracles

This has been a not-so-bad day. Not a thrilling mental health day full of accomplishments, but a nice day. I got up early and had an appointment at the salon in Niles for an uncomfortable facial procedure that makes me have beautiful brows and look like less of a billy goat. I talked a bit with my little sister, then helped my mom clean my old church, got some Taco Bell (where I ran into an old boyfriend, if you can call them boyfriends when you're 13), and went to an antique mall. I then talked with my little sister a bit more, left to get gas for my car, and drove home. This evening was the preview performance for our son's marching band state finals. My mom and sister came with my sister's friend, Steve's parents and sister came, and our other two kids were there with us so we basically took up the entire top row, and I took a video of the whole thing. Then we had the yearly soup dinner and slide show of the marching band year in review.

This evening, upon bedtime (which is when most crises occur at our home, I find), said marching band son asked if I had seen his envelope. When I inquired to which envelope he was referring, he answered nervously that it was the manila envelope that held all of his fundraiser money for choir. $200+ of fundraiser money. I had not seen it. The last time I saw it, I'd put his fundraiser box on the stairs leading to his room, and it was in the box. We looked all over the house, to no avail. I let the dogs out and finished watching an episode of "Rules of Engagement" on DVD with Steve, who instantaneously fell asleep the moment it was over. Seriously. Click, zzzz. Anyway, I digress. I sent up a "hey, can you help us find my son's money" prayer, and went back out to let the dogs in and lock up. I turned on the living room light and did a scan of the room for the envelope. Nada. As I reached up to turn off the light, in the split second before I switched it off, I caught a glimpse of about one inch of manila across the room, on the floor, behind the computer desk, behind the video camera. I walked across the room and that's exactly what it was. I took it down to Zach and he exclaimed, "Oh, thank GOD!" and I said, "Yes. Exactly what we should do!" and told him the story. He couldn't believe it. None of us remember it being anywhere near the computer.

Everyday miracles.

I think we take things like this for granted entirely too often. I'm not saying that God picked up the envelope and put it there for safekeeping or anything, but what are the odds of finding it somewhere like that? One inch of manila sticking out, after having given up finding it, and right after a shout out to the Big Guy? It's things like this that make me happy, because I know He's listening. Call it fate or luck or whatever you want. Believing is a choice, and it's a choice that I've made.

I have to say that I adore my friend Andie. She was writing about how much we can do for someone in another country with just a little amount of our own money. How one thing like an Xbox, for us, could mean a year's worth of food for a couple of children somewhere across the planet. Andie struggles with her family's finances at least as much as I do with ours, yet she still has that instinct inside of her to give, to help, to do whatever she can for someone else, because she knows (like I do) that no matter how bad we have it here, no matter how often we live paycheck-to-paycheck, or how much debt we have, or how many times our car breaks down, or our hours are cut at work... so many people have it worse than we do. Her compassion and her heart make me proud of her, proud that I know her and proud that she calls me a friend. We need more people in the world like Andie.

I'm 94 pages into my short story/poetry collection. I want to add another couple of stories, but I can't find anything in my 'archives' that I like enough, so I'm going to have to write some more. Not that this is a problem, I've just been busier again the past week. Plus, I have a small lack of inspiration when I get to this point in putting a project together. It's like the 2/3 wall. 2/3 of the way through the day at work, I usually hit a wall where I start to get agitated that I'm still at work, my stomach's grumbling for food, and I'm cranky. I get that way 2/3 of the way through writing, or putting something together, too. That's where I'm at right now. I want another 50 pages at least, and I'm cranky and I'm tired and I want it to be over. I want to finally get something out there, hope people like it, and make some money from it.

I'm random tonight, I know. This is nice, typing in the evening, because then I can get all my feelings and thoughts out and try to sleep afterwards. Or play solitaire. I heart this computer, did I mention that?

I got a wee bit misty-eyed watching the slide show tonight. Four years of marching band, and Zachary is so grown up now. He's six feet tall, very handsome. He's saving so much money towards a car and college, working every day before his classes and in the evenings sometimes, much more organized than he ever was before. I worry that he's not ready for college, but I don't think any kid is ever fully ready for college when they first go. I wasn't. I had never been away from my parents for more than two days in a row when I left for college! I had a three year old sister at home, a dying grandmother, and I moved three and a half hours away and took full time classes and worked part time and cleaned houses to pay for my books and put money towards all the other expenses. I was definitely not ready. I didn't listen to my academic adviser, so I took physics and calculus at the same time (neither of which I should have taken at all), and ended up on academic probation after my first semester. Luckily, by the end of the four years, I was more than ready and graduated .1 away from an honors GPA. I know he might not be ready when he goes, but he's got two parents that love him and care for him and will be there for him in a heartbeat whenever he needs us.

I've noticed that so many of the stories I write have insomnia laced throughout. Hmm. Wonder why?

Let's see if I can get some sleep, no?

SJS

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Hold Me Back

Seriously, I am so angry right now I could drive two hours and beat someone with a shovel, then get a Dunkin' Donuts coffee and drive back.

Our kids' stepdad thought it would be totally appropriate to respond to our son's post about Rocky Horror Picture Show by using the word "f*gg*t" which I will not even put the vowels into, because, to me, that's a worse word than the other 'f' word. (This was in reference to a character in Rocky Horror, not to our son. Had it been in reference to our son, I'm not sure I could be held responsible for my actions.) I could have written a book and posted it after his post, but I did tell him that it was inappropriate, that his vocal hatred of people whom God loved just as much as him disgusted me, that if he had a problem with that he could take it up with me or my husband, and that our son would be removing his post from Facebook the moment he came home from school. What I wanted to say was this:

What makes you, a man who has been fired from six jobs since I've known you, a man who has been kicked out of three churches, a Bible college for being a racist, and removed from a Youth Pastorship... what makes you think that you are better than anyone else on the entire planet? You have physically and emotionally abused our children and your own, you spout nothing but hatred all the time, and yet you dare to call yourself a Christian?! You are the quintessential poster boy for why people hate Christians! I will be the first to stand up on a platform and tell the entire world that I am a sinner, I fail every single day, so I'm not saying I'm better than even you... but how can you claim to be sinless, claim to be a follower of Christ, brag about how you don't watch television, tell everyone you encounter how they aren't Christians but you are, and then act like this? What makes you think that you have favor with God? What makes you think that Heaven is going to be filled with people like you? You're judgmental, condemning, and arrogant. You have no special powers, and you are not loved by God any more than any other man or woman, gay or straight, on this Earth!

I didn't say this. Not because I'm a coward. Believe me, if he calls or writes me personally I will tell him all of this. I didn't say it because I know what's appropriate and inappropriate to post on a kid's Facebook page! I am disgusted that this sort of hatred even exists, but moreso that it's close enough to our kids to have to be begrudgingly called a part of their family.

*Deep Breath*

I mean, seriously!? I just finished writing an entire book on hypocrisy. I should mail him a copy.

*Deep Breath*

HAS HE EVEN READ THE BIBLE!? Because that whole WHAT WOULD JESUS DO thing? Yeah, Jesus wouldn't hate gay people! Or ANY people! GAHHHHHHHHH!

*D E E P B R E A T H*

Okay. I'm fine. I'm going to go give my dog a bath.

Sigh.

I hate hate.

SJS

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Just a Little Bit...

to the left. No, to the right. Up. UP! Over a little. No, I am not able to get a good wireless signal from the neighbor's house, but if I jiggle this laptop back and forth verrrrry slowly... I can post this.

So, it wasn't a very productive weekend, but we did do the Indy trip, and our son did place in the top ten so he's moving on to State Finals next weekend for marching band. Concord also placed, so my friend Andie's son is on his way, too. Hoping both bands do well next week! It's always fun to see the state finals. Lucas Oil Stadium is where the Colts play, so if I were a Colts fan, it would be even cooler! Sadly, I couldn't possibly care less that the Colts play there. Sorry, Indiana peeps. I will never, ever, ever consider myself a Hoosier. Whenever my husband crosses back over the Indiana state line when we've been traveling, he sings, "Back home again in Indiana...." I just sit there and think how Indiana will never be my home, even if I do have to live here for the rest of my life.

I was supposed to spend the day removing the fleas from the house, but I decided I need to wait until it frosts to kill the ones outside, otherwise it's a pointless endeavor. I hate fleas, with a passion. I remember Ellen Degeneres' comedy skit about calling God and asking him why there is a reason for everything in the world, except for fleas. God's answer was that the flea removal industry created so many jobs. This was like, her first comedy routine on HBO back when I was pretty young. I've always loved Ellen, even back when she faked being straight. I like her a lot better now, though.

I've been going over a book I finished writing earlier in the year to get it prepared for eBook sales on Barnes and Noble and Amazon's Kindle page. Every time I go through it, I find more things I want to add or change or remove altogether. I suppose it's a good thing I'm not an editor. I'd never be finished with my job. On the flip side, though, I really enjoy editing. When I proofread, I always find errors and fix them. I find errors in books that are actually already published. I'm reading The Ragamuffin Gospel right now, just started, and I already found three errors. It's a great book, though, I can tell. (I do not proofread these blogs, by the way, so if you find mistakes on here it's because I'm just writing and posting, and doing it on purpose that way, for my own growth. I'm saying that so I don't look like an idiot when you find all the typos on here...)

I wish I could sleep better at night. So many of my stories have insomnia woven through them. And one of my favorite Stephen King books is, in fact, Insomnia. Tonight it's my own fault. I slept in late, and I had a Mountain Dew with dinner, so I have no one to blame but myself. Last night I listened to "The Cure" for awhile on my handy-dandy I-am-so-in-love-with-you laptop. I'm pretty excited about everything that this laptop has to offer me. I'll bet if Danny knew that, he would've charged me more for it... :P Although, I wouldn't have been able to afford it, so that's a moot point.

I love thunder. I love lightning. I love thunderstorms, with the rain and thunder and lightning all mixed together. But I sure hate rain. Just plain rain, with nothing exciting accompanying it. It's dreary and messy and I just don't like it. Tonight was going to be pretty cool, but then the lightning and thunder went away and it's just plain rain. Which means in the morning I'm not going to want to get up, because it's going to be dreary and messy. Grumble. But, I guess rain is important or something. Whatever.

I've been going through a bunch of my old writing -- poetry, fiction, papers for college, etc. I've found some interesting things out about myself. First, I write more about relationships than anything else. Emotional issues, mostly. Second, I have written some real crap in the past that I can't quite allow myself to throw away. Third, I have fundamental problems with creative writing teachers trying to quash my creativity by giving me such useless advice as "don't end verbs in 'ing', they become weak'. I wrote a poem using only 'ing' verbs to prove them wrong. It wasn't half bad. Some of the verbs were kind of weak, though. Fourth, there is nothing I have ever wanted to do for a living as badly as I've wanted to write.

In the past I have wanted to be: a scarecrow, a Solid Gold Dancer, a writer, a lawyer, a teacher, and an actress. I very quickly realized that a scarecrow is an inanimate object and not, in fact, a career path. Just as quickly, I realized I have no balance, coordination, or agility and therefore could not be a Solid Gold Dancer, especially after Solid Gold was canceled. I tried teaching both at the high school and collegiate levels, and did not enjoy either of these things. Law school was definitely not an option, though it still interests me, due to financial constraints. I act in my spare time, but do not have the drive or passion necessary to make it as a paid actress. Writing, though, will not leave my brain. For that matter, it won't leave my heart.

I wrote my first story when I was in second grade. We were given a book full of wallpaper samples and some yarn. We cut the wallpaper into book covers, filled it with scratch paper, and 'sewed' the binding on one edge with the yarn. My book was illustrated and called "Tanya the Brat", a true story about my younger second cousin whom I had just met and took an immediate dislike to in Wisconsin, mostly because she was both younger and cuter than myself. In fourth grade, I wrote such masterpieces as "The Library Mystery" in which an elementary school student realizes that the new librarian at school is a vampire, and in which I plagiarized several of the funnier lines from my new favorite movie, "Teen Wolf", because I had not yet mastered the art of dialogue. In sixth grade, I began writing poetry, mostly of the rhyming variety, and a short essay on "My Dream House" became seven pages of description of both the house and my married life to Donnie Wahlberg from New Kids on the Block, and our five children, Donnie Jr., David, Alex, Cynthia, and Christy. (Alex was a girl.) In ninth grade, I wrote my first two mini-novels, for which I received 6% extra credit in my advanced English class. Writing more poetry, of the non-rhyming variety this time, helped me cope with all of the self-esteem issues I had, plus the anger, plus the depression, plus the hormones, dare I keep listing things that teenagers go through?

The point is, even today, my brain is constantly spinning with things I want to put on paper, things I want to share with other people. Ideas I have for characters, names, places, events to unfold. I can't shake it. Sometimes they're good stories, and sometimes they suck. Sometimes I finish them, and most of the time I don't. Sometimes they're just for me, and I can't get rid of them no matter how badly I want to, because I remember the torment that drove me to write them. Sometimes they're for the rest of the world, and I want feedback from everyone. And sometimes... rarely, I'll admit, but sometimes... I want to burn it all and start over anew. I can't, and I won't do that. Mostly because no matter how bad the writing is, it led me to become a better writer, just like the writing I do right now I'll look back on and chuckle someday. But also because there is so darned much of it that if I burned it, the fire department would give me a citation for all the black smoke in my back yard.

Hopefully, though, you'll see some of it for sale very soon... I'll keep you posted!

For now, I'll try to sleep. We'll see how that goes.

SJS

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Chewy McChewerton

My dogs continue to chew at their skin. Fleas and a staph infection. Slurp, chew, lick lick, scratchscratchscratch. My heart goes out to them. But I seriously want to buy them each the 'cone of shame' to put around their heads so I don't have to keep listening to the sounds they make. Again, I am not without empathy. But... C'MON!!!!! I've given them 847 baths -- flea baths and antifungal baths -- and I don't have the money to take them both to the vet, and the vet won't just prescribe an antibiotic over the phone, and I can't just go and pick up the flea medication. At least, that's my assumption because that's how the last vet we had was. I went outside to get the dogs back in and there's Nikita, rolling around on the ground with all four legs up in the air. *THAT'S WHY YOU HAVE FLEAS AND A STAPH INFECTION!* I yelled at her. She glanced at me, but continued her rolling until I forcibly removed her to the house. It's like dirt is crack to a dog. Digging, rolling, sniffing... it's the XBOX of the canine universe.

So, my car. It has almost 180,000 miles on it and has been pulling to the right lately. When I say pulling, I mean that if I let go of the wheel for a nanosecond, I will be off the road. I took it in to get an alignment and the guy said, after I waited 40 minutes, I needed to get the tie-rod fixed before I had the alignment. He quoted me $125.00 plus tax. I didn't have that amount of money falling out of the oh-so-unreliable never-ending money river in my back yard, so I said I'd have to reschedule. In the meantime, I called TIRE STAR in Middlebury who had just done a very inexpensive oil change for me. Sure, they could replace it. I was there a half hour and it was $61 and some change. Less than half. You will now go to TIRE STAR and get whatever you need done, because they are saints.

This weekend is our son's Semi-State performance for the Northridge marching band. His last year, and definitely the best show they've done all four years he's been there. They came in 5th out of 14 at regionals this past week (and props to Concord and a shout-out to my friend Malachi because they came in 1st, and were pretty fantastic -- just don't tell my son I said that!) We're going to Indy to watch the performances. My least favorite place to drive is Indianapolis, and I don't much like the city, either. If he makes State the following week, that's at the stadium in Indy, so another fun drive... but well worth it. The state performances are something else! And they've made it every year before, so I don't see why they wouldn't this year. Good luck Northridge!

I am continuing to work on my writing lately. Reading has sort of fallen along the wayside and I'm trying not to let that distract me, because the writing was the real purpose in all of this. I want to publish my first eBook very soon. The cover art is going to be spectacular. My sister Savannah, who has an avid interest (and a lot of talent!) in the area of photography, is doing the cover art for me. I gave her the general idea of what I wanted, and she just rolled with it. I cannot wait to see the finished product! I'm close to being done editing this round, which means I'll probably edit another 40-50 times before I'm happy... but it's coming along.

I'm working on my next short story, too. Not sure where it's going, but I'm liking it so far. I love to let the story take me somewhere. It's more fun that way.

Time for food-making. Just Cheeseburger Macaroni and french fries tonight. Nothing fancy. But I've got some KILLER buffalo cheese dip I stole from my mom's house. She made it Sunday. I ran out of chips or it would all be in my belly right now, so I bought more chips at Harding's and I'm ready to roll!

Ahh... silence. No chewy dogs. Now I'm wondering what they're up to...

SJS

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Allow Me To Explain

So, the past couple of days have been pretty difficult for me, for personal reasons that I do not wish to discuss on a public forum (absolutely nothing to do with my marriage, however, so don't freak out.) Yesterday I was unable to word it, so I posted how I felt. It was a good post. Very therapeutic.

However, last night it got much better. For any of you who haven't been following my blog, I'll fill you in on something that annoys me. My kids are not my kids. I didn't give birth to them, anyway. They have a mom, and she just moved about four hours closer than she was. Now she's only 2.5 hours away. So last night, the parents of seniors in the marching band were to be acknowledge along with their kids. We walked down the track by the field, they announced the senior's name, then the parents' names. When we got to the center of the field, they were handing out a flower for the senior's mother. I assumed I would not get a flower, which wasn't a bad thing, I know my place even if I'm not fond of it. But our son stopped walking and said, "Can I have another flower, please? I have two moms." He didn't say he wanted one for his stepmom, he didn't just ask for another flower. He said he had two moms. And my heart melted, and I kept my tears in as best I could. But it made everything in the last two days 150% better, and I told him that when we were back home and all was said and done.

Plus, we won the final home game for our seniors in quadruple overtime, by one point. Go Raiders!

Today we have Zachary's Regional Marching Band Competition in Chesterton, Indiana. He performs this evening, so we'll watch a little football first and then be on our way. Wishing him the best of luck. It's their best show yet! Next year our daughter starts high school and marching band, too. I feel like I'm at a re-election campaign... Ffour more years! four more years!" keeps running through my head!

Our doggie still has her staph infection. I've been trying to get rid of it with the anti-fungal shampoo, but I fear I'll probably have to take her to the vet this week to get some antibiotics, too. The last two times, it went away with just the shampoo after a week. I feel bad for her. She's very uncomfortable. This is the first time since we've moved here that they've gotten fleas at this house.

I think my husband is watching a homeless man perform "Under Pressure" with two Kermit the Frog puppets online.

Hey, I can make beer brats on the grill today! Yay! I will go shower and do that. Or do that and then shower.

SJS