Monday, December 29, 2008

Caylee Marie Anthony, RIP

I just found out today that the remains found near the Anthony home are indeed those of little Caylee Anthony. Upon learning this, my heart was crushed and I started to cry. It's so heartbreaking what happened to that baby girl. What kind of coldblooded monster would do such a thing?? Take the life of an innocent child. Children are a precious gift from God and the fact that this baby was murdered and tossed aside is just so sad.

I'd been following the story of Caylee. I hoped and prayed she would be found alive. I knew that as more time passed, chances weren't good she'd be found alive. And I somehow knew this news might come. That she might be found dead. But still, I held out hope.

Now we know she has been found. Her remains were discovered in a black trash bag. That poor baby!

I am so deeply saddened over this. An angel has gone back to Heaven. Rest in peace, sweet Caylee.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Our Christmas this year

We had a pretty good Christmas yesterday, even though family wasn't around. I missed them all terribly and kept wondering "what would Millie say" or "I wonder if Allison would be showing me some kind of decoration on these gingerbread men" or "I think Nathan would laugh about that!" I also thought about my parents, other siblings and nieces/nephews. I really kept thinking about my family living far away. You just really miss the ones you love on Christmas when they're not around.

Anyway, yes, we made gingerbread men! Woot! I haven't done that for YEARS because the last time I made them, they ended up all looking like mutants. LOL When I told my daughter, she really wanted to give it a try, so I removed my whole self-imposed "ban" on making them and we decided to do it together. I let her do most of the work, since she won't learn unless she does it herself. She really had a go at using the rolling pin and she had fun cutting the cookies out. I didn't, however, let her flour the surface or rub flour on the rolling pin before using it again. I was too nervous she'd get flour on the floor. (Now I realize that's silly to worry about, because the floor's gonna get a little messy when there's a kid cooking in the kitchen!) The gingerbread men turned out mostly fine. Only two of them looked like mutants. And that's okay. We'll still keep them! I let my daughter decorate most of them; I decorated two. They were yummy and I was happy that we both got to do that together in her first experience of making gingerbread men. Yay! I can take gingerbread men off my list of "foods I can't make." And speaking of "food," we had the usual cinnamon rolls for breakfast while watching the movie A Christmas Story. (That's pretty much what we do on Christmas morning EVERY year.)

As for the gifts, my daughter got a coloring book and colored pencils (thank you, Millie and Als!!), footed pajamas, clothes, books, movies and computer stuff. The "computer stuff" are sound devices so she can hear all the sounds on the computer (sound card and speakers) and also an educational computer game. I was hoping she'd get a math game, because she's had trouble with math in school, but it's a combination learning game. Math and phonics. And that's okay! The big kahuna of her gifts, though, was a guitar. It was on her list and, luckily, I found one that was marked down. She went nuts over it and said this was the best Christmas ever because she got a guitar. Her baby brother kept playing with it, though, and so did HER FATHER! LOL He kept fiddling around with it. At one point, she got frustrated because he kept playing around with it when SHE wanted to play with it. I was ready to march over to them and say, "No fighting over the guitar, you two!"

So now she has a keyboard, guitar, microphone and flute. I joked to my friend that she's trying to be her own band with all these instruments. Now all she needs are drums and she'll be all set!

My little baby got A LOT of toys for Christmas. Mostly toy cars because he loves cars. It was cute watching him push the little cars around. He also got the footed pajamas, movies, books and other clothes.

As for me, I got pajamas (hey! PJ's are a hot gift this year!), chocolates, Starbucks card (thanks, Millie and Als!!), cofffeeeee, and a Target card. Woot!

I also got story ideas, and yes, they were BOTH Christmas-related. Yay! I tried to figure out if I should start writing the stories, but I pretty much realized that was out after things got pretty busy. My husband spent most of the time on the couch watching TV while I was cleaning up, refereeing the children and making our ham dinner. Ugh! I was exhausted at day's end. But I didn't forget those story ideas. And I didn't forget the scene idea I have for the next book in my MG series, either. Woot! So it was a good "writing day" even if I didn't get to write. At least now I'll be able to get back into the writing with brand new ideas to write about. Christmas didn't end at midnight last night. It's still here for a few more days. At least, I think so. And I'm going to GRAB that Christmassy feeling and spirit and put it into words.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

The magic of Christmas

Last night, I watched the movie It's a Wonderful Life for the very first time. And all I can say about it is, IT'S A WONDERFUL MOVIE!! I loved it. If only we could all go back to those times. Sigh. I cried at the end. It was so touching. It made me think about my own life, too. Not money-wise, mind you. But where I'm at now and the people who are in my life. I am fortunate to have good people in my life where I am living now. It's always a blessing to have your family and good friends with you. I know there are friends here who would give me the shirt off their back. It's taking me a long time to get used to Eugene but there are good people here and I am happy about that. It's not how much money you have or where you live that's important; it's the people in your life that matter the most.

Anyway, enough wishy-washy talk. Haha. That's not what this blog post is about. I want to talk for a minute about the magic of Christmas. I don't mean the miracle of the Virgin birth. Though that IS a very important part of Christmas. I'm talking about the Santa Claus aspect of Christmas. I know "Jesus is the reason for the season" and that Christmas was created in the very beginning to celebrate the birth of Christ and honor our Lord with repeating that special day in offering gifts and enjoying togetherness. But I really want to talk about Santa for just a mo.

See, when we're kids, it's easy to believe in Santa Claus, because as a child, it's easy to believe in magic. And that's what the idea behind Santa is all about, really. He's about magic. The surprise of something wonderful happening. I don't think we lie to our kids in telling them there's a Santa Claus, because WE can be the Santa Claus. Or a representation of Santa, anyway.

But the idea of Santa and magic is a great thing for kids to enjoy. Every year, it's something for them to look forward to. Being visited by this magical creation they don't get to see. And in a way, that's a lot like Jesus, isn't it? I mean, think about it. We don't see Jesus, but we know He exists. We have that childlike innocence in our hearts assuring us Jesus is THERE and that He is real. So in a way, the adults are reminded of a special kind of magic on Christmas, too.

But I have to think, you know, it's really a gift to be able to believe in that magic. When you're a child, you don't have people telling you "magic isn't real." "You can't believe in make-believe." As a child, it's okay to play pretend. It's okay to BELIEVE. And that belief can be so strong, it can act as a security blanket that the world isn't all that scary or unsafe as long as magic is there. (As long as Jesus is there.)

Last night, I really got to thinking about this. I was thinking about it because Jennifer got out of bed after the movie was over and told me she was too excited about Santa coming, and she couldn't sleep. So I gave her warm milk and crackers as she sat on the couch with me, watching the 11:00 news. And on the news, they had this episode where they were tracking Santa by radar, and they showed him driving his sleigh through the night sky. "Santa's on his way, Jennifer!" I gasped.

She sat up. "Oh, no. I better get into bed!" With that, she hurried off to bed, only turning to give her daddy a kiss on the way. And, wouldn't you know it, she actually went to sleep!

I really had to ponder over this. First I laughed, of course. It was TOO CUTE! But then, I sat there thinking about how she must've been feeling. What went through her young mind. And I knew, she BELIEVES in that magical aspect of Christmas. It's okay that magic comes from Santa Claus. Really, it is. Because I think that believing in magic is something we all need to have in our lives once in a while. Whether you are a 7-year-old child or a 34-year-old adult. Or even a 100-year-old adult! We all need a little bit of magic every once in a while.

Call it magic. Call it miracles. It's the same thing. And they give us all the same special gift of believing that wonderful things can happen. And not just on every Christmas morning.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

A gentle reminder from my subconscious

I forced myself awake this morning. I was having a bad dream so I woke myself up. I tried to shake off the bad stuff that was in that dream. (Somebody in my family did something terrible to me a long time ago and, unfortunately, I have not yet made peace with it, or with him. So sometimes I have nightmares in which he is acting like some monster or he is hurting my daughter or me. In this case, he was hurting my daughter AND acting like a monster!) Well, I didn't want to think about it that much and I just kept trying to push it away from my thoughts. That person is not in my life so much anymore. He is VERY FAR AWAY and can't hurt me ever again. And he can't hurt my daughter, either. As long as I know he's far away, I don't need to be afraid.

Still, one part of that dream stuck with me. I was looking at a brown apple and it had lip marks on it, like someone had taken a bite but there was the whole intact apple in front of me. I heard this lady asking me, "What do you have against the New Kids on the Block?" And I answered, "They hate me." She said, "They don't hate you." Gee, I'd like to believe that! As it was, I mentally said back to that voice, later on as I thought on that again, "Yes, they do!" I kept going back and forth with that today. Her saying "they don't hate you" and me saying "yes, they do!"

Anyway, my stomach was all sour when I woke up. Ugh. Well, I got a glass of Alka Seltzer in water and drank it as I sat down to watch TV. In a little while, I got up and went to the computer. I answered some emails, even though I had every intention of doing some writing first. But I did emails first instead. I had some friends' emails WAITING to be replied to so I wanted to get to that first. Then I got caught up reading friends' blogs and making some edits on this blog. (Don't worry; I was just responding to a comment and changing the Blogroll. You don't need to strain your eyes looking for anything different!)

I got up to make some coffee and do some other blog reading as I drank some of it. THEN I finally got to the writing. Wouldn't you know it? The chapter I had to write next ended up being super-short. As it should be. But of course, maybe I'll touch it up when I revise the manuscript later.

That done, my stomach started gurgling again. Yuck. Maybe it was the coffee and Alka-Seltzer mixing together. LOL Oh, no, exploding stomach!

Today I planned to do some Christmas shopping for the kids. My husband and I have decided to split up the shopping between us two, and to get each child three gifts each. I got them both one gift so far (now that my daughter can read, I'm not saying what it is here!) So I went to Target this morning to get the other two. The thing she has been asking for, the thing she REALLY wants, costs $60.00. Good grief!! I don't make any big purchases like that without first consulting with my husband and he said not to get it. Spending $60 on a 7-year-old's Christmas present was just too much and to wait until she's older to buy her the more expensive gifts. I was not happy with this decision, because I know she's got her heart set on it, but maybe I can buy it for her some other time. Still, you just can't put a price tag on a child's gift, if it's what they REALLY want. Christmas is supposed to be about magic. It's supposed to be about wishes coming true. And I really felt bad I couldn't get that for her.

I was happy to get Christmas shopping out of the way, though. I'm still so frustrated with myself for STILL forgetting to send out cards. GAH! I have just been so busy with the parenting and my book, I kept forgetting to do that! Thank goodness for E-cards, but I'm STILL going to make it a point to mail out my Christmas cards. I am a total supporter of sending regular cards. It's just a really nice touch to send a regular card, if you can. It shows you really care about the person because you put thought into getting them something they can actually hold in their hands to enjoy.

I got another chapter of the book written today. It was the last chapter but not the "last" last chapter. I wish I could celebrate over the first draft being done today, but I still have an earlier part of the book to write, which includes 6 chapters. I skipped over it last time because I wasn't ready to write it yet. Now I have no choice but to write it so I have to keep up on the research and just do the best I can. Soon I WILL be able to celebrate writing the very last chapter to write. Very soon!

I kept thinking about that dream today. It's not good to carry stuff like this around. This...part of my past I haven't made peace with yet. I know there is anger over what that family member did. And there is shame. Sometimes I get so upset, wishing I had handled it differently. Wishing to GOD it had never happened. I tried to reach out to someone about it and he suggested I get a restraining order. Something the REST of my family would give me the third degree over. I was just too afraid of hurting my mother. I wish I had done it, though. Maybe it would have saved me the agony of that worse thing happening.

But, you know, what's done is done. I can't go back and change anything. This much I know. I can't expect to get an apology from that person because he acts like nothing happened. So all I can do is pray. Just pray to God to take away the memories and the pain. Maybe the bad dreams, too. I will just pray about it and, hopefully, one day I can make peace with it.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

"If you don't clean it, Mommy cleans it."

Ordinarily, Jennifer is supposed to clean her room herself. Make her bed, put away her toys, put her clothes away. That stuff. But because she takes after me in being a pack rat, she has a lot of papers and a lot of crafts.

Today was another day of no school for her. It was also another day of her being sick. I felt bad for her so I decided I'd clean her room myself today.

The problem is, I realized that Jennifer hasn't really been "cleaning" her room all this time. In fact, I discovered her secret for passing my glance-over when announcing she'd cleaned her room: There was stuff PACKED underneath the crib, on the floor of her closet, behind her toy kitchen set and under her dresser.


So I rolled up my sleeves, got on my knees and set to work giving her room a TOTAL cleaning job. In addition to her hidden messes, she had books on the floor, dirty clothes scattered about and a combination bag of crafts/trash next to the crib. Her desk was COMPLETELY unorganized, her closet was a disaster and she had posters lying around instead of up on the walls.

So I cleaned it all up myself. At one point, she came in and started pouting about how I was touching HER STUFF and moving HER STUFF. But I told her, "If you don't clean it up, Mommy cleans it up. And you'll just have to accept it." She walked out of that room without protest but still pouting. (Heaven forbid anybody touches HER STUFF. But I guess she'd rather let me touch HER STUFF than have to clean it all up herself.)

She had books in her toy box, broken crayons in her pencil box and things she'd made at school in a pile on the floor. Including a card she'd made for me last Christmas! Gah! *clings to it* So I gathered EVERYTHING I'm saving of hers, plus everything that had to go into the trash, and got it all out of there. She still had a Halloween decoration up on her window, so I took that down, too. Organized her desk (and got more pouting) and sorted through her books.

The whole job took HOURS to complete but I am content that ALL of that mess and clutter is no longer invading her room. Now she has a place for everything and everything in its place.

When she came in to see the room after I was done, her jaw dropped. She had a big smile on her face as she walked all around her room, looking at all that I'd done and seeing how everything was organized, tidy and put away now. She kept saying "I love it! I love it!" as she walked around, admiring the result of what happens when Mommy cleans the room.

She gave me a big hug and kiss. I instructed her not to leave papers and books all over the place again. No more shoving things under the crib or under her dresser. Just put everything where it belongs.

She said she'll do all that, but we'll see. Who knows how long it'll be again before Mommy once again has to roll up her sleeves and clean the room herself.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Snow day

"Cover your eyes," I told Jennifer this morning, as I had my hand on the door handle.

Smiling, she obeyed, standing in front of the closed door with anticipation.

When I opened the door, I smiled at her and said, "Open them!"

She removed her hands, got all wide-eyed and excited at the snowy landscape that was our front yard, then excitedly jumped up and down. "Christmas is coming!"

Oh, yeah. One thing kids think of when they see snow: Christmas. And snow balls and snowmen. Snow angels and sledding.

And, let us not forget: Snow days!

That's what she had today. Last night, it snowed and snowed and snowed. I was in shock at how much snow we got. (Heck, I haven't lived here in the Northwest long enough to get used to seeing snow. ANY snow makes me shocked! Haha. It's been too long since I have lived back East.) Last year, we got NO SNOW before Christmas. I am hopeful that this means this year, we'll finally have a "white Christmas." I didn't think the school would declare today a snow day, but that's exactly what they did. Jennifer was sooo excited to go outside and play in the snow. The problem was, she could only find her old snow boots, not the ones that fit her. But she still went out to play in her regular shoes. My husband, of course, saw snow and thought "work." He had to scrape snow and ice off of both our cars. NO. FUN. Ugh! Kids see snow and think "fun." Lucky them.

Jennifer had some difficulty figuring out how to make a snowball. I haven't lived in snowy cities for too long and can't remember too well how to make them. I just stood on the porch, freezing my tail off, trying to instruct her on how to pat the snow into a ball, roll it in the snow to make it bigger and sort of "squeeze" it real gently to keep it in a ball shape. But despite my best efforts, she couldn't figure it out. But she tried her best to make some kind of creations with the snow. (Not much luck on a snowman, either.)

Later in the day, though, she started feeling sick again. She sort of caught Jesse's virus and her temperature has been going up and down since Saturday. So she wasn't able to go out to play in the snow much more after that set in, but at least she had some snow fun in the morning.

Update on Jesse: His breathing is still a little bad. This morning, it was pretty raspy. Looks like it's another round of the antibiotics the doctor prescribed, since it's been the 3-day-wait they told us to monitor his breathing. I am hoping this second dose will make the swelling go down some more. Fortunately, he has been acting a lot better.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Feeling my way through the croup

Yesterday morning, Jesse got me up at 4:30, crying and burning up with a fever. I changed him, took off his heavy pajamas and gave him Infant Tylenol. He went back to sleep and I thought the rest of the day would pan out normally. That didn't happen. After he woke up at his normal time for breakfast, he was acting really fussy and his fever was up again. I eventually gave him the Tylenol again but I was concerned about how he was acting so fussy and crying so much. His temperature just kept going up and down.

I was supposed to go to an interview but had to ask for it to be rescheduled because as the day wore on, Jesse just got worse. He couldn't sleep, he cried so much, had a bad cough and he could barely walk. He'd stand up, try to walk and just fell back down. He was also acting listless because of his fever. So I called the doctor and they asked if his cough had a barking sound. I explained I can't hear what his cough sounds like and I have no idea how it could sound, only that it was a deep cough and I could feel it in his chest. (Odd they asked me about his cough. I thought ALL of them know that I'm deaf.) They advised me to bring him in so that's what I did.

At the doctor's office, Jesse was still a little cranky but he was happy as a clam once I gave him a toy to play with. I could still see he was having discomfort, though. When the doctor came in, she examined him and we talked about what had been going on with him. His temperature had been going up and down for 2 days, and he has had the cough for 2 days as well. But today, it was just worse and there were the other things going on with him, too.

The doctor suspected he might have croup. As if on cue, Jesse coughed. She pointed at him, nodding and saying, "Croup." I thought it was interesting that the way a baby coughs is the dead giveaway that they have croup. I remembered reading in the book, The Nanny Diaries, how the nanny was staying overnight at her employer's house and the little boy woke up sick in the middle of the night. The nanny was confused about what was wrong with him so she called her mother. Her mother told her to have the child cough for her over the phone and, after he did, she told the nanny, "He has croup."

So we talked about croup. I never went through that with Jennifer (there's A LOT of things I never went through with Jennifer, fortunately. She was rarely, if ever, sick when she was a baby, never had colic or the other baby ailments) so I was curious about it. She got a paper out of the drawer and showed it to me. It had all the info on it about croup. We talked about putting him into a steamy bathroom for 10-20 minutes to help when he has trouble breathing. She said she could hear him have heavy breathing right as he sat on my lap. I started to worry because I couldn't feel him have heavy breathing. I didn't see any discomfort on his face, or anything. She told me to watch for him to heave back and forth as he tries to breathe and that would tell me when he has trouble breathing. This didn't calm my anxiety, though. I mean, he wasn't doing that when he was sitting there on my lap, having trouble breathing!

Anyway, we talked more about it. He has the viral kind. She said it was contagious and I tensed. "I have another child in the home," I said.

"How old?"


She shook her head and wrote down about how older kids and adults only have cold-like symptoms if they catch croup from a baby. Sore throat, runny nose, fever. I was grateful for that but started pondering whether or not I should send Jennifer to school tomorrow. (I didn't want to but husband insisted on it. Sure enough, after I picked her up from school, she was complaining of a sore throat!)

The doctor prescribed antibiotics for the swelling in Jesse's throat and said it was okay to continue giving him the Tylenol as needed. She instructed me on how to give him the antibiotics -- break them in half, crush them, mix that in with a tasy baby food -- then I got Jesse dressed and we left. On the way home, I was stressing out. I kept trying to figure out HOW I was going to be able to monitor his breathing while having such a hard time telling if he was having trouble breathing. This was not something I could ask my mom about, or even my neighbors who are parents, too. They're not deaf! So how would they know?

Then I remembered something. Actually, one word. One very magical word that solved all of that worry: NETWORKING!

I don't mean networking with businesses. I mean networking as in communicating with others out there, mainly on the Internet. I don't have any deaf friends in real life, but I DO have deaf friends online. Even better: Deaf friends who are PARENTS. And chances were pretty good one of them might have been through this, too. Or, they'd know what to do.

So after I got home and everything, I e-mailed my friend, Karen Putz, who blogs over at A Deaf Mom Shares Her World
Thankfully, she replied to my email right away. She had, in fact, gone through this with one of her children. As far as being able to tell if he's having trouble breathing, she said, "Put your hand on chest. Wet the back of your hand and place in front of his nose and mouth-- you should be able to feel the breath on there if it's heavy." This advice helped me to feel relief and I thanked Karen for sharing it with me.

The rest of the evening was just awful, though. I kept him in a steamy bathroom before putting him to bed but he just couldn't sleep. So I got on the couch with him, watching the movie Jesus Camp as I kept him close to me, with my good hand on his chest. (When I was sitting with him in the steamy bathroom, I remembered that scene in Terms of Endearment, when Debra Winger's character, Emma, is asked by her husband Flap how long they have to be in there and she says, "Until her throat clears up or I lose 20 pounds, whichever comes first." I THINK she said 20, but not 100% sure. I can't find the movie or the quote online, so feel free to correct me if I'm wrong!) Eventually, he fell asleep, but twice he woke up with breathing problems. The first time that happened, it was back into the steamy bathroom. I also gave him Tylenol. The second time he woke up with trouble breathing again, I took my husband's texted advice and stood holding Jesse in my arms as we stood in front of the open front door. The cold, fresh air made him feel better and he enjoyed watching the cars go by on the street in front of the house. (He LOVES watching the cars go by, like I do. haha)

Apparently, allowing cool air in is a home remedy for babies with croup. I came across an article about croup called Croup Therapy and it says,
"Cold air is one folk remedy that really works, explains Johnson. Just as an ice pack can bring down the swelling on a bump or a bee sting, cool air is often enough to return the throat to normal."

Then we were back on the couch again and I held him against me as he drifted off to sleep. At this point, I could hardly keep my eyes open, but I was still too nervous to put him back in the crib. What if he woke up with breathing problems again?

But the truth was, I could barely keep my eyes open. I was exhausted. I didn't want to fall asleep with him on the couch or be too tired to carry him. So I put him into his crib, still peacefully asleep, and just left it up to God now. Before I went to sleep, I prayed really, really hard for him. I asked God to watch over Jesse while he slept and that Jesse would be able to sleep okay without waking up again with more breathing troubles.

And I guess God heard me, because the rest of the night was uneventful. The Baby Crier didn't go off and Jesse slept until he woke up at his normal time. And I took the time this morning to pray my thanks to God.

Still, Jesse had more breathing difficulty in the morning, so it was back to the steamy bathroom again. But we ended up going twice; after breakfast, his breathing was so raspy, I could feel it on BOTH sides of his chest!! I got really worried but I kept my faith in God that Jesse will get through this. I also reminded myself that hundreds of babies have lived through this, so Jesse will, too!

Today has been a little rough, though. More fevers, more crankiness, more trouble breathing. More steamy bathroom, more Infant Tylenol and more holding him on our chests as he cries and/or falls asleep.

I'm totally not happy about him having to deal with this misery but hopefully he will get through it soon. It's just a matter of keeping an eye, and a hand, on him.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The things we do for our church

Every year, the church which I am a member of holds a gift donation drive for families with imprisoned parents. All gifts go to the children in these families. Because my church has done so much for both me and my daughter, I try to give back in every way that I can. Participating in this annual gift drive is just one of my ways of giving back.

Plus, I have a weakness for all things involving charity and assisting others in need. So of course I wanted to participate, anyway!

But because I've had trouble keeping up attendance at church (my daughter has been having...issues with the church and faked illnesses), I was not able to get the papers needed for this or to select a child to give gifts to. But, thankfully, I was able to contact one of the event organizers by email and made arrangements to drop off gifts for the child I selected.

So the plan was to go to Target yesterday and get the gifts. We would ALL go after picking Jennifer up from school.

Well, that was the PLAN, anyway. Something came up with my husband's side job and we couldn't go out. So we talked and decided I'd go in the morning. I found out via my friend that I had until 10 a.m. the next morning to drop off the gifts.

The problem was, this morning, I was not able to take a shower. (Don't ask.) I usually get up anywhere from 5-6 a.m. in order to have a little "me time" in the mornings before the chaos of the day starts up and I was fine on the time. JUST COULDN'T SHOWER!! And because I was dirty, I didn't want to put on clean clothes. Sooo, I ended up running around in my pajama pants. (I slept in a regular long-sleeved T-shirt and wore a sweatshirt from the other day.)

And I was literally RUNNING! LOL I was going so fast to get Jennifer dressed and off to school, get a load of laundry done, change the baby, go out and get the gifts, wrap the gifts, throw laundry in dryer, take a shower and get dressed.

But it was the whole "get the gifts" part that was interesting. I don't normally run out and about in my PJ's, though I know some people do. I'm just not comfortable with that. I HAVE gone out in my PJ's for fun, but later changed into regular day clothes. So it was a little weird wearing my PJ pants when I ran these errands. (Note: They are not regular PJ pants per se, but lounge pants. Still not your normal pants-worn-in-daytime thing, though!)

On my way to Target, I drove REALLY fast. The stoplights were all green and I thought that was pretty cool. God was on my side! Yay! But I worried about the speeding. At least if an officer stopped me for speeding, I could honestly say, "I'm on a mission from God!" true, anyway.

Well, I flew through Target and got the items. Problem was, there was a hold-up at the register. The machine had troubles. GAH!! Two different people had to come over and fix it.

THEN I had to get the wrapping paper and gift box. (Forgot them at Target.) THEN my husband texted me to let me know we needed baby powder. So I went into a FOURTH place wearing my PJ pants! I was running at this point.

Anyway, the rest of the stuff happened. I got back home at 8:45. I got the laundry from the washing machine at the laundromat that we'd stopped at on the way to taking Jennifer to school, threw it in the dryer then wrapped the gifts. As I wrapped the gifts, I had some trouble with the wrapping paper and it ended up looking a little funny. I swear, I can NEVER decently wrap a gift!! I have tried but it was never up to snuff. My family jokes that they KNOW a wrapped present came from me just by looking at it. (Someday I hope I will be a better gift wrapper.)

After that, I got the laundry out, jumped into the shower (skipping washing my hair to save time -- woot!), got dressed and got on out of there. When I got to the church, the doors were locked. Gah! I couldn't figure out how to get in! Oh nos! So I eventually made it to a window and a teacher inside told me how to get in. (You need to know the code, people! LOL) When I got inside of the foyer, I RAN to get to the office on the other side of the building. I was running, clutching the gifts and hoping I didn't drop them and break one of them. (Again: You can tell it's a gift from ME! Haha)

But when I got to the office....just five minutes before 10....NO ONE was there. The doors were open, the lights were on, but it was...empty.

I rang the bell on the desk. And I waited. And waited. Eventually, I looked around and asked, "Hello?" I started to worry that maybe they left and just forgot to lock up.

Then I turned to see a lady smiling as she walked up to me. I explained I was a member of the church and donating for the gift drive. Etc., etc. Gave her all the info and she wrote it down then thanked me for the gifts.

I left the church grateful at being able to get all that done in time. I was also grateful that I finally got my shower and showed up at the church office clean, perfumed and wearing clean decent clothes.

More than that, though: I'm also grateful that, these days, it's socially acceptable to go out and about in your PJ's.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

'Tis the season to be giving

It's that time of the year again! That time when we need to reach out to others and try to help others in some way, so that other people who have it hard will be able to enjoy their holidays. I have been reading about all of these job losses everybody is going through and it makes me sad because I know it means a lot of families are going to be hurting this Christmas. There are so many hardly able to put food on the table, as it is. But at this time of the year, I know it's important to reach out and try to help the homeless and the families who are struggling to get by. They need it now more than ever.

This is something I have been trying to stress to Jennifer. It's more important to give than to receive. It's more important to help others who don't have the help they need. Every year I try to do something charitable during the Christmas season. This year, we're doing three things so far: Donating canned goods to a food drive Jennifer's school is holding, donating a toy to Toys For Tots and sponsoring a child for Christmas in my church's Angel Tree program. I've done the Angel Tree thing before, and even though I could not be there to actually stay, I dropped off the donation and just felt so good inside for doing something like that. (The program is for children in families whose parents are imprisoned.) Of course I want to do more, but there's only so many charitable events I am able to learn about going on in time.

But the big thing I want to do this year is pass on to Jennifer just how important it is to be charitable. I am trying to stress to her the importance of giving to others, and I really want this to be a part of her character when she grows up.

My mom made sure it was a part of mine.

When I was little, my mom relied heavily on charitable help. With seven kids and a struggling income, it was hard for us to have enough food to eat or even presents for Christmas. Many times, charitable organizations, and even our local Catholic church, helped us out. In return, we did the same. My mom got all of us involved in participating in the gift and food drives the church held, and I spent many a time during my high school years volunteering to help struggling families who had no money, clothing or food. Sometimes, we even took food out of our own cabinets to give to others who had none! So I was definitely raised having that sensitivity to others who were not as fortunate as us.

This is something I want to pass on to my own children. I want them to know how important it is to help those who are in need. I have been spending a lot of time explaining to Jennifer that there are kids out there who have it harder than she does. They don't have a Mommy or Daddy. They don't have a lot of toys. Their clothes are old and torn up. They don't have a home to live in, a bed to sleep in or even enough food to eat. This is why I get upset with her when she wastes her food. I don't like waste. And I have told her many times there are people in this world who are starving and don't have as much food to eat as she does.

When we went to donate to Toys For Tots the other day, I had to take the time to explain to Jennifer why we were doing this. It was because we were helping a family out there who couldn't afford Christmas presents. We were helping a little boy or a little girl who wouldn't have a Christmas present if it weren't for us helping them.

She looked at the toy Marine truck we were donating and said, "I wish I could get this."

I looked at her and said to her the same thing my mother said to me years ago, when I felt sad over giving away one of my toys: "That's going to make some little boy very happy on Christmas."

She looked at me and her eyes lit up. She clutched that toy as though it were very special and said, "I want to give it to them."

That was when I could see it. That was when I knew. Maybe, just maybe, she was finally starting to get why we even give in the first place.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

People who like to pass judgments on others

If there's one constant I have in my life, it's that there are people out there, including certain members of my family, who like to get up on their high horse and pass judgments against me. They think they've got me ALL FIGURED OUT through their little detective work, without any input from me, and decide to cast me as this horrible, heartless, bitter, evil person. I have tried for the longest time to shrug this off, but the more it keeps happening, the more annoying it gets. And it seems people who don't even know me, have never met me in person and only know me through Internet activity, take everything they read and draw some kind of conclusion about the kind of person that I am.

Here is a little tip for people doing that: STOP doing that. You won't know the REAL ME through the Internet. Not ever.

I wish some people would get it into their heads that you can't just pass judgment over someone without getting the FACTS from them first. I guess they decide to be closed-minded or paranoid. I guess they want to live in their shells while pointing fingers at everyone. How sad. What a lonely world they must live in. I guess they are too afraid to REALLY know people and so they use their WRONG judgments and delusions of others as some kind of a security blanket. They use this to tell themselves that ALL kinds of these people are BAD and they are GOOD.

Talk about being delusional.

You may think that there can't really be people like this, but I know for a fact that there are. I know them and have interacted with them. It's painful when this kind of treatment comes from people I care about (or should I say, USED to care about). I have gotten to the point where I don't want to waste my time with people who are like this anymore. It is too painful to put up with constantly or always being judged by others who don't even know me or know where I am coming from. I would love to just say "if you've got something to say to me, say it" or "stop hiding behind your delusions about me and get to know me instead!" But I really doubt such efforts would produce any change from them. Because, like I said, these people prefer to get up on their high horse and decide what kind of person that I am (even when they don't know me) no matter what I say or do. And always that judgment is going to be negative.

I have no room in my life for these kinds of people, nor will I make any room.

Perhaps this blog post is dramatic. Perhaps it is a whine. But I'm tired of having to deal with people like this, and I need to come forward and say, "You know what? I'm done with you." I am not a stickler for taking this kind of grief from others. They won't hurt me anymore.

I needed to say all of this and now it has been said.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Update time!

When it comes to a writer having a blog, it's gonna happen: Blog posts are MIA from time to time. As it is, I got caught up with NaNoWriMo last month and didn't focus too heavily on the blogging thing. Now that November has come and gone, and even though I'm a little buried with book projects (including a BIG paying assignment I'm starting on in January), I have NO EXCUSE to not blog!

That said, it seems I have a little catching up to do. Because...I forgot to post about Jesse's birthday! And also about Thanksgiving. When you've got a blog, you gotta post about Thanksgiving!

Now, as for Jesse's birthday:

We took a vacation to California during the last part of October to visit with family. We were planning to leave earlier than that, but I had a deadline to meet with my publisher, and instead of taking a 500+ page manuscript on the road with me to edit, the vacation got postponed. Which is actually a good thing, because Jesse got to celebrate his VERY FIRST birthday with family! YAY! Everybody went nuts over him. It was so cute watching him crawl up his uncle's leg and pulling on a family member's arm the way he did. As for Jennifer, she celebrated her birthday FOUR TIMES in that month! She had a family birthday at home on the day of her birthday and then a party with her friends the next day. Then, she celebrated a birthday with Jesse at my sister's house in Lake Arrowhead. (Instead of blowing the candle out, Jesse banged it out! LOL Good thing he didn't get burned, though.) Then she celebrated with Jesse again on the day of his birthday, this time at my in-laws' house. He got to meet his paternal grandparents for the very first time.


We were going to get Cornish game hens for Thanksgiving this year. Sort of have an UNtraditional dinner. (I was all set to make my famous cheesecake.) But Jennifer insisted on having a turkey, so that's what we had! A traditional turkey dinner with all the fixings. What was cute was how, after she ate, Jennifer clapped and commented on how good the food was. Jesse was clapping, too, but I don't think he was aware of WHY he was clapping. Haha.

As to other things: I took Jesse to the doctor following his stomach problems. (See last blog post.) It turned out he had a stomach infection. I was also concerned about him having lactose intolerance. I have always had mild lactose intolerance, so I thought maybe he does, too, because of how bad his stomach acted up from time to time after having a milk bottle. So the doctor told us to A: Wait out the infection. And B: Start giving Jesse 2% Lactaid milk instead of regular. The good news is, he is all better now.

And...he's WALKING!!!! WOO-HOO!!!!! After months of being wobbly when he tried to walk and falling down so many times, he is able to finally walk just fine. Sometimes he'll go a little too fast and fall down but, for the most part, he is able to walk without losing his balance. Yay!

Jennifer's glasses broke and we're making plans to get her new ones. She keeps saying she can see just fine and doesn't need them, but I told her the doctor is the one to decide about that. He prescribed the glasses in the first place, on account of her lazy eye, and even though her eye has gotten better and her vision has improved, he said it's a good idea for her to keep wearing them. Unfortunately, Jesse might have eye troubles, too, so I'm making an appointment for BOTH of the kids to see the opthalmologist.

And I need to get new glasses, too. My vision hasn't been so great, I'm afraid. As it is, I can't see street signs too well (the names of streets) and have had to rely on landmarks to get around. So, I'll be getting new glasses real soon, too!

So that's it for now. Hope I've covered everything! I'll try to blog more often and visit my blogging buddies' blogs, as well.