Tuesday, July 14, 2009

And so it begins.

That sounds very ominous, but I assure you that it is meant with only a sigh of relief and a bit of nervous anticipation.

After weeks and weeks of phone calls, waiting, phone tag, a combined three hours and twelve minutes of sitting on hold, and a whole lot of beating my head into the desktop in frustration, we're FINALLY starting Iain's testing.

Met with the neuropsychologist on Friday. Really nice lady, and for the first time, I spoke with a professional who actually understood where Chris and I have been coming from.
Added bonus being that because so many kids are stuck in that same crack - too smart and capable to be classified as severely impaired in any facet, but nowhere near regular ed. classroom ready or developmentally caught up to speed - the program that we are working with has found some very creative and helpful ways of dodging some of the beauracracy and red tape b.s. that we've been tangled in thus far.

Round One begins on Friday, at 9:00 AM. *insert cheering here*

The last four days have been spent carefully filling out endless sheets of home analysis paperwork - filling in boxes, rating things from 0 to 6, and making lots and lots of notes.

But this time is different. I don't feel like I am doing it for nothing.
I know that it is solely because it is what they are paid to do, but the feeling of knowing that when it's over we will actually know what it is that makes Iain tick, and gain a foothold in the ways that we can best help him succeed... it's like Christmas in July, but ten times cooler.

The battle is nowhere near over, thanks to Michigan's insurance laws, but at least that part is being fought by an entire army of angry parents. Safety in numbers feels pretty darn good right now. Uphill as a group is much more productive than uphill alone.

The next few weeks will be filled with testing, coupled with paperwork for end of the year obligations at work, other responsibilities (the words 'taste of Grand Rapids' have started to turn my stomach sour, as they do every July), juggling events on my calendar, and trying to maintain a sliver of my sanity.

But it is worth it. So very worth it.

When things quiet down, and I'm back in project mode, I'll post some happy, crafty things. But for now, this is as good as it gets.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Dear Jessica,

I honestly didn't know if I would write this blog.

If I could write this blog.

It's hard to believe that ten years have passed. A decade that could have been so very different... that would have if...


There's this country singer who was unknown... well anyhow, the first time that I heard Kenny Chesney's song "Who You'd Be Today" I broke down, sobbing like it all happened yesterday.
Those are questions that I often ask - What would your wedding have been like? Which name would you and Rob have bestowed upon your first child?

I didn't even get to tell you that I was pregnant for Jennah. I called your apartment and left a message on the machine, hoping that I'd hear from you the following day.
A few hours later, you were gone.
When we found out that she was a girl, Chris asked me if I wanted to name her Jessica Ann. I said that there was no way that I could replace you, and that it was best to leave your name with your memory (and that I feared that your mom would try to form some creepy attachment to my kid... really, we both know I'm right).

In an effort of goodwill, your mom gave me the soft teal frock coat and hat that you wore in the spring photo that your grandfather took, when you were barely a year old. I still have them, hanging in my closet, but I never did put them on Jennah. I couldn't. But I will keep them always.

Just as I will, every May, check the OTIS website. Just to see.

Logically, I know that nothing will change. That Marc's name will still be there, and that faithfully checking every year won't bring you back. But it makes me feel better.
One day I'll look and his name will be gone, and I know that only then, will justice truly be served. My hope is that the day is a long time from now, so that he had to spend many, many decades, locked inside a prison cell, away from everything he enjoyed, until finally dying at ripe old age, full of remorse and regret.
Of all the things he was and is, I do think that he felt guilty. We all knew that he felt more for you than you did for him. We just never expected it to end the way that it did. That his mind was that sick and corrupt.

I consoled that him at your funeral. He looked so lost and out of place. Staring at the floor, wearing his Pizza Hut uniform hat, making himself stand out even further against the prim and proper of the church sanctuary. No one suspected him. Least of all your mother.
How he fooled us all, though thankfully not for very long.

About a week after we laid you to rest, Pearl Jam released a cover of "Last Kiss". The irnony did not escape me. Your favorite band, covering your favorite song. You would have been thrilled. You would have laughed at the morose humor in it all.

More than anything, I want to say that I'm sorry that I haven't been there.
To the cemetery. That just doesn't feel like where you are. It's stone slab, with a photo of your head, superimposed onto Natalie's body, holding your violin. If you mom had asked, I could've and would've given her the picture that your loved - the one that I took of you, playing your guitar.
To check on your mom. That one I did quite often, and still do now and then. But she's gone in a way that I cannot fix, and listening to her tears the wound open fresh every time. I don't think that she'll ever heal, or that she ever wants anyone else to.
To the park. I was, once. I had to see the sunflowers. But I felt your presence, and it wasn't the warm and peaceful feeling that I was hoping for, so I quickly departed, tears streaming down my face. I left there hating Marc even more than I did the day before. Even more than I did the day that the story broke on the front page of the Press, naming him as the bastard who stole you away from so many who loved you.

But those things I can still do. There's still time to make them right. And I will (though with your mom, it is hard.. like I said, she's gone way off the deep end. Even for her.).
But I didn't walk up to the casket, and I can't undo that.

Chris tried to make me, but I just couldn't. I could see you lying there, in your cap and gown, and I knew that if I got even one step closer, I was going to break down in front of hundreds of people. You know me - that's not my style. You would've expected better than that. And truthfully, it was a pain that I just couldn't bear. I waas afraid that those tears would never stop.

I did look at the pictures that your mom took, though it was some time later that I saw them. The cake makeup to cover the welts on your forehead (oh, how you'd have hated the hairstyle, but trust me when I say it was necessary), and the bruises on your neck that wouldn't be hidden, no matter what tricks the morticians tried.
Your aunt said that it was your way of showing your killer that you were still strong. That he would be punished. I think that she was right.

There were days that you drove me crazy. That I wondered whose sick sense of humor placed you in my life. My constant shadow, like an enthusiastic and willful puppy. Always begging to tag along. Always needing to be kept out of trouble.
I raised you, supervised you and bailed you out of troubled. Mentored you and chewed your behind when you were being too foolish... not that you ever really listened. Heart on your sleeve and head in the clouds. Happiest outside with your guitar, sitting cross legged on the sidewalk, amongst the vagrant youth downtown.
Forever thinking you could save the world, never not trying. To live with that much enthusiasm would have been exhausting for anyone else. But not you. Never, ever you, Jessie.

I barely knew my sister when you left my life. You were only days apart in age, and at that time, far dearer to me than she was. You're two completely different people, but as I see Susan doing things with her life, I sometimes wonder what you'd be doing now.
But I never wonder whether or not you'd be happy. I know you would be.
My hope is that you are as content now as you were then. That sunflowers bloom when you smile.

Anyhow, I just wanted you to know that even thought it's been ten years, you haven't been forgotten.

I miss you, Jessie. I always will.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

I'm not really sure what to call this one...

Children really are a miracle unto themselves.

When your first child comes into your life, it's a whole new experience. Everything is amazing, and one tends to fuss over things that one never found amsuing before, and celebrate the smallest achievements as though they were the discovery for a cure for cancer.
Yet, somehow, you assume that certain things will happen, no matter how slowly or quickly those events transpire.
Your child will talk, walk, and potty train. They will tie their shoes. They'll learn to identify shapes, and colors. To count. To read.
When it will happen isn't so much an assumption, but that it will happen, well, that's a given, right?

As parents, we get frustrated when our preschooler is still having toileting accidents out of pure laziness, when our school ages child feigns helpless when being told to tie their shoes or zip a coat. We know that they know those things, and we know that they are capable... therefore we assume that the child will simply do them.

Not unrealistic by any means, but also not always the case.

All of those assumptions go right out the window if you have a child with special needs. Those milestones are no longer assumptions. They are victories.

If you don't have a child with any type of disability, take a moment an observe a parent who does. Watch that mom or dad watch their son as he runs bases or reads a passage from a book.
See the look of pride when their daughter is standing on roller skates for the first time, or paints a picture of a field filled with flowers and butterflies.
It's very humbling, and it makes me very grateful that my son isn't more severely delayed (it probably sounds sad to an outsider, but I take solace n the fact that it could always be worse), and I also feel a sense of understanding, because I get it. To a lesser extent, I live it.

Yesterday, wasn't about rejoicing over something that my kid did in spite of his disability. It was just about my kid being a kid.

Iain, in spite of his delays, has never had a problem with his gross or fine motor skills. He walked early, climbed like a monkey and has rather impressive coordination. Yet, because he was in a special education program, he received some occupational therapy.
That took his already decent GMS and FMS and made them sharp.

Iain swings a bat with decent accuracy, runs with a soccer ball and is quite the bowler. Why his immediate response to a bicycle surprised me, I am not really sure.

The boys and I went out to have lunch with Papa on Friday, as they didn't have school. Since Chris is building a school, and there's all kinds of equipment around, it's a fascinating experience for them (plus, they get a kick out of hanging out with dad during the work day).
After saying our "see you later"s to their father, we made a group decision that no one was ready to go home. Nice weather, busy stretch of suburban road... prime garage sale territory.

During one of our stops, we found a bike. Great shape - almost new - and cheap! Five bucks and it was hours. Fit nicely into the trunk, and I didn't even think about the size (a 16", when we were planning to buy a 20", and training wheel equip it for the summer ), assuming that we'd slap some training wheels onto it, and hand it directly to Spud, versus buying him a scooter, as we'd originally discussed.

After an afternoon in the Ninth Circle of Hell (or as many of you call, it, Chuck E. Cheese's), I decided to finally haul said aquisition out of the trunk, and see how well Iain did in terms of keeping the frame upright.
In short, we're not going to bother with training wheels. At least not until Iain fits onto a 20" bike and the smaller model gets handed to Braeden.

It's days like yesterday that offset the days of frustration, making them seem small and unimportant, even if only for a little while.
My son has developmental delays, but he's able to do some pretty awesome stuff. Like get onto an unsupported two wheeled bike and take off down the road like he's been riding on his own for weeks. Wobbly on the outside, but confident that he'll lick it and be racing with the big kids in no time. And he will be.

...and he had the good sense to ask for his helmet, which I LOVED.

Today has been a day par quo, of melt downs and reminders. Of pestering even after asking for the same thing ten minutes ago, only to forget before he makes it up the stairs.

But yesterday... yesterday I saw progress. And progress was an amazing feeling.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Every once in a while...

I manage to whip up something that I am pleased with. It's usually on the fly, and a total whim (whereas the stuff that I sit down and think about goes all wrong), but somehow it comes out okay.

I challenged myself to use up pieces of other stuff that I had around the house (part of my 'Procrastinators No more!' thread, but a couple of days past the April challenge deadline), and it worked.
A piece from an SCS swap (Kelli, if you're seeing this, the sundae cup was from your Grease creation from Kate's swap), scraps of paper, glitter remnants, industrial caulking tape, left over from a five year old RAK...

And Ward wonders why I don't throw anything away...

I made this for my boys' kindergarten teacher. She's an absolute ice cream junkie. I've never seen anyone who loves it more (she rented a soft serve machine from a company so often that they offered to sell it to her... and of couse she accepted).

My only regrets: that I didn't think of it three days sooner so that I'd have had more time to let it dry between layers (because all that Triple Thick and Diamond Glaze made me downright loopy), and that I didn't make the whipped cream a bit fluffier. (although when sitting on pooling hot fudge, it does tend to melt quickly).

Anyhow, I added some hot chocolate essential oil to the process and the darn thing makes the classroom smell divine.

So there you have it. My most recent project - at least most recent that I have been truly pleased with anyhow.
And it worked out as an update to my blog, which I've been slacking on somethin' fierce.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Slacking Again, and Kudos Galore

So much happens, and there is never enough hours in a day to post even half of it.

In fairly recent news, and as many people have already heard, Jennah had a piece submitted into the citywide art display at the UICA.
Miss J has quite the creative apitiude, and her art teacher, Mrs. Ford, does much credit in that she brings it out of Jennah and enables her to shine.

I can quite proudly say that the nut didn't fall far from the tree, and for once it doesn't relate to something obnoxious and sexist that my boys have inherited from their father.

Rather than ramble in my usual fashion, I will close with two photos; one of Miss J next to her piece (which, for clarification is her cat, Dinah and an expanded theme), and of of Jennah with Mrs. Ford.

I love that my kid is artsy and nerdy. If she continues on this path, she'll be a well rounded young lady.

*it's hard to see, but the row of brown across the top is a string of pet mice.

One more thing, before I forget... Mrs. Ford gave me aheads up on something... all of Frost's students with exhibited pieces will receive a ceremonious nod and a plaque during the Monday morning meeting the day that school resumes.

Good thing that I had to go to the school last Thursday. I wouldn't want to miss that!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Rambling On About the Telly

True to my word, readers get to be subjected to my peculiar taste in television viewing.

You can run away now, if you like, but I promise that this one won't be as lengthy as the last.

Vintage Vs. Current

It's simple, really. TV shows from the past twenty years or so have nothing on the stuff from the early days. Sure, the eighties had some great viewing - Remington Steele, The Golden Girls, The Facts of Life, Star Trek TNG, and some really amazing cartoons.
I'm sure that there are other shows that I am missing, but quartet of crazy old women in Miami aside, not much of the sitcom era excited me enough to want to revisit it.

Mtv does not count in this catagory. It fed my interest from a musical perspective, and still gave me something to view. 120 Minutes was my favorite two hours of channel 22 viewing all week long.

Stuff that I loved to watch, and still do:
The Beverly Hillbillies
The Addams Family
My Three Sons
Mr. Ed
I Love Lucy

Honorable mention:
Dennis the Menace
The Munsters
(funny, but not as cool as The Addams)
The Donna Reed Show
The Anne Sullivan Show
The Danny Thomas Show / Father Knows Best
Leave It To Beaver
(you cannot possibly think I'd dub my husband 'Ward' and not watch that one?)

One of the coolest gifts I've ever been given was a few years ago. Ward hunted down the entire Addams series in DVD box set form. At that point it was very hard to find season by season - the whole series took some hassle and weeks and weeks of backorder from Barnes & Noble. And for me it was worth every minute.
When the price drops a bit more, hopefully he'll add the Clampetts to my collection, too. I am content to watch the other stuff on the internet now and then, but I love those silly hillbillies.

There are lots of others, too... I watched A LOT of television as a kid. Had a 19" black and white set in my room growing up, and was a horrible insomniac, so the tv was on 24/7. I stayed up far too late, watching whatever appealed to me, and would eventually slide the cable box down to Nickelodeon and let Nick At Nite run all night long.
In addition to tv shows full of people who were aging or dead by the time I was born, I also saw quite a bit of John Wayne that way.

As far as current or fairly recent viewing, I suppose that I watch a lot of nerdy tv. I was a pretty big X-Files junkie, and picked up Buffy the Vampire Slayer from the very first episode (I also own that in box set form, but have no real interest in any of Joss Whedon's other work). I liked Star Trek (still do), and now watch Fringe and Bones, though neither one on a committed basis.
I also like Medium, but again, I'm not heartbroken if I miss an episode.

"Mr. Humphries, are you free?"

Classic television aside, my heart really lies on another continent.

I am positively addicted to British television. My very favorite cartoon is Dangermouse and it doesn't come close to stopping there.

I've watched each series of Father Ted over and over again, and laughed just as hard every time. I have a long standing love-hate relationship with Hyacinth Bucket (and would love to have Chris relent and dole out for the Keeping Up Appearances box series. But he hates the show, so he steadfastly refuses.), and I have come to realize that I'm almost as addicted to Monarch of the Glen, though I like the first four seaons better than the last three.

There are plenty of others, too... The Vicar of Dibley, Are You Being Served?, Hetty Wainthropp... and current standing shows as well, though I see those too infrequently to stay up to speed ( no cable means to BBC channel).
My utmost favorite, though, stars a very young Hugh Laurie, from long before anyone knew him as Dr. Gregory House... Jeeves & Wooster.
Actually I'd have to say that it's a tie between that and the good Fathers of Craggy Island (if you like British humor and you've never watched Father Ted, you should. It's quite good.).

Another thing that we have a decent collection of in our house: Japanese animation.
Somehow we are drawn to the ongoing series. Here we have soap operas, whereas Japan shows things like Urusei Yatsura and Initial D.
Those don't get viewed nearly as often, but they are dearly appreciated.

I often think about this old woman who came into Blockbuster nearly every day before noon and exchanged her single video rental. She'd select one old film, often a noir thriller, though sometimes a comedy or a love story, and on a rare occasion a musical. And always a story attached to it.
She lived alone. Her husband had passed well over a decade before and her children lived outside of the area and were aging themselves. Her cat, the Turner Classic Movies channel and her visits to the video store were her constant companions.
I cannot remember her name for the life of me, but I recall her face and her voice as though she'd been at my front door this morning. It is to her that I owe some credit for some of the films that I enjoy now. They were found by her recommendation.

There you have it. I am a huge dork with next to no life away from my glowing tubes of picture and sound (be they HDTV or monitor screen), books and quirky habits. Somewhere in there falls music and crafting, but that is for another day.

Friday, February 27, 2009

These Are A Few of My Favorite Things

All of the survey silliness and random posting on sites like MySpace and Facebook gets me thinking now and then.
It's been a while since I've actually evaluated the question "What do I like?".

As we get older, some of our interests change. Things we once enjoyed fall by the wayside, long since forgotten, or are replaced by different hobbies, new likes and dislikes.

Rather than post a disorganized list of this and that, sifting and sorting by catagory makes sense to me.
In addition, because I know that it will satisfy my psyche later one (and because it's my blog, and well, I can), there will be bits of explaination interspersed as I see fit.

Movies and Television.
The moving picture is a horrid weakness of mine. I spent countless hours of my youth immersed in the soft glowing light that eminated from the picture tube. I was caught up in the wacky antics of Lucille Ball, wishing that The Addams could somehow adopt me, entranced by the swagger of The Duke or the charm of Cary Grant, and just plain glued to Mtv or whatever Nick At Nite happened to be showing when I should have been fast asleep.
That addiction never subsided. I still love much of what I enjoyed back then, and have added quite a lengthy list of cinema and sitcom to my mental collection of adoration.

Mind you there'll be no rhyme or reason to this list. Just spouted and put to keyboard as they come to me.

Breakfast At Tiffany's
Dear Lord, how Audrey Hepburn gets to me. She was, and still is, the embodiment of gentility and grace. Of poise and elegance. Classy and classic.
Which also explains why the next one is on my list...

Roman Holiday
If you haven't seen it, you should. It's wonderful.

The Breakfast Club
I was a child of the eighties. What more do you want?

Ladies, don't deny it. You know you tried the lipstick trick.

American History X
I cannot tell you how many times I have watched that film, and yet I still cover my eyes, cringe and cry. When I think of Edward Norton, I think of that film. (screw Fight Club. Totally inferior, and it had Brad Pitt, which made it that much worse in my opinion)
I really think that high school kids should have to watch that film. They'd learn an awful lot.

I defy you to find anyone who, on the mention of that name, doesn't automatically think of Bela Lugosi. There have been many fantastic horror films made since then, including some decent interpretations of Vlad himself (Gary Oldman did a lovely job, as did Frank Langella), but this film set the bar for all vampire films to come.

Practical Magic
This is one that I watch in the company of no one. I look like a sobbing idiot. Some piece of me identifies with Sandra Bullock's character, and it just tears me up. I didn't much care for her prior to that movie, and now I think she's swell.

Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood
Go ahead. Give me crap. If you grew up in a seriously fucked up home (I won't even censor that bit, because it would lose the necessary emphasis), you'll feel for Siddalee and know what she went through.
I read the book before I saw the movie, and it did nothing for me. When I watched the fim for the first time, I bawled. Score another point for Ms. Bullock (or should I say Mrs. James?).

Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure
I love this movie!!! It's campy, and the acting is subpar at best, but that's part of its charm.

David Bowie's pants. Need I say more?

Swing Kids
Another tear jerker. Robert Sean Leonard is so very, very talented.


Pete's Dragon

As Good As It Gets

I adore Jack Nicholson. I enjoy many of his films, but this is by far, my favorite. Why they ever considered Dustin Hoffman for this role is beyond me (no offense to Mr. Hoffman intended).

Something Wicked This Way Comes
Tell me that Mr. Dark didn't scare the heck out of you. I'm thirty-two and I still think that he's creepy.

Rock Hudson and Doris Day
Okay, that's not a movie, but to list them all, I'd add quite a few lines of dialogue to my ramblings.

Down With Love
While I'm thinking of Rock and Doris, this one comes to mind. A lighthearted homage to the cutest couple of the 1960's, It showcases Ewan McGregor's talents and offers an adorable performance from Renee` Zellweger (whom I do not usually enjoy).

I do not think that I need to add anything about Nightmare Before Christmas. My interest in that film and its cast of characters teeters on the brink of obsession.

While we're on Tim Burton, here are a few more to add:
Big Fish
Edward Scissrohands

...leading from that, Vincent Price holds a place in my heart. I simply love his work. All of it. Every last little teensy, weensy piece.

And another man who gets multiple nods; Adam Sandler.
The Wedding Singer ( definitely one of my Top 10 All Time Favorites )
Little Nicky
50 First Dates
Anger Management
( Adam and Jack in one film is like a Reese's Peantut Butter Cup)

And while I wouldn't add every film to my favorites list, I've never seen a Cary Grant performance that didn't make me fall madly in love with him for the entire viewing.
Mr. Grant was, in my eyes, the definition of handsome male, and in many ways, still is. (and what made him ever sexier was that he was really British! The first time I heard his rough and broken English accent I nearly fainted. Seriously.)

Oh good golly, if I post a quip about every film, I'll be here for ages, and I haven't even touched a wisp of television.
A few more that should not go unmentioned

Suicide Kings ( Christopher Walken = best creepy subtle bad guy. EVER. )
Ever After ( the dress is tenfold more stunning in real life.. I wish I'd taken pictures)
Darby O'Gill and the Little People ( featuring Sean Connery when he actually had hair!)
The Usual Suspects ( Keyser Soze! Keyser Soze! Brilliant!)

And I am certain to be missing some, but this has gone on long enough. I'll save the bits on television for the next posting.

If you've taken the time to actually read this, I want to know, what are some of YOUR favorites?
Do you have films that you can watch over and over again, and never get enough of? Or movies that bring forth a wellspring of emotion, be it laughter or tears?

Share, share share!

I did. Now it's your turn.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

An Ounce of Ambition

It all started with this:

A plain shelf, intended for Jennah's bedroom, left
by the wayside to collect dust and add to the pile
of crap amassed and unused.

This piece was my intended February challenge
project (as I'd mentioned in my previous blog post).

However, it sort of, well, expanded.

I'd forgotten that I'd slapped a quickie coat of white on the shelf a while ago. Rather than strip, sand and stain it, I decided to sand and distress it, to match the rest of the bedroom. (the location shown above is the spot that I marked out on the wall and hung it briefly for the shot)

Feeling the need to make the shelf match the rest of the room, my eye kept being drawn to this:

Jennah's room is painted in an ocean floorscape.
However, because it was the only room that I wanted to really finish in the six day painting spree that I was on between the day that we gained keys to the house and the day that we started moving in.
In short, I was rushed. And I've been unhappy with it ever since.

So, my shelf became a project to touch up Miss J's bedroom. Just add a bit of color, install a hook for her bathrobe on the back of her bedroom door, move some furniture around, throw away broken toys and general unnecessary crap, spruce up her window, show off the fabulous name frame that Misty made for her.. you know.. spruce! Clean!

Oh, and the shelf makeover. Can't forget that.

Furniture moved, crap discarded, everything dusted, washed and removed in a matter of a few hours. Piece of cake.
Painting even a four inch square area with three kids straing over my shoulder - not so much.

What I didn't finish on Sunday, I completed on Tuesday.

It started here:

The coat hook I purchased for Jennah's door. Half off at Hobby Lobby. Plain white and begging for some color and fun.

A good way to utilize some of the massive shell collection.

I'm pretty happy with this part of the project. It came out swell, if I do say so myself.

Next we have:

The INCREDIBLE name frame that Misty created. (you really need to click on the photo to enlarge it and see the detail - it's great!!)

Said name frame has a new home on the finished shelf.
I, however, did not take a picture of the shelf. A fact that I completely overlooked until just now. Oh well. Moving on...

After getting them all out, there were all of these shells everywhere, begging for usage.

Some of them are HUGE. Like bigger than my foot. Some of them are teeny. Most are inbetween, and the ledge above her window was an ideal spot for the 2"- 3.5" models.
A little bit of sticky putty to secure them and a lot of climbing up and down my stepstool, and this was what I came up with:

Jennah really likes the window swag look. Not my thing, really, but she digs it, so I brought it back (she'd had one before but it didn't mesh with the theme... still doesn't, really, but oh well. The kid's happy.)

For the smaller stuff that was worthy of showing off, I threw something together atop her dresser, and set a behemoth next to it. ( I don't have any pictures of her array of Lion's Paw shells. Those are her favorites. )

I added this photo only to show you how truly obsessed my kid is. That shell is HUGE. Anything larger has no business in a bedroom!

All of this done, and I still had that corner glaring at me.
I'd added small fish, seaweed and coral in other places. I put some additional color into the jellies, seahorse and Spongebob's house (remember, she was four when we moved in. In her mind, Spongebob was as much a part of undersea life as.. Nemo. Or Shamu. I asked if she wanted the pineapple painted over and heard a very firm "NO!" in reply), but that corner and its sorry, lopsided contents were still mocking me.

This momma is not an artist. I'm crafty, but I'm far from VanGogh. But I think that I made it work. I grabbedJennah's mongo book o' fish, and mixed a color that was as close to the rays in the book as I could muster.

And since rays are schooling fish, I made him a buddy.

I was torn between leaving them solid colored and adding blue spots (you know, for the blue speckled ray! Or whatever it's called. It's really cute, anyhow. Who knew that fish could be cute??), but decided to leave them be and let Jennah decide.

Her vote: perfect as is.

Prior to the weekend, Jennah spent very little time in her bedroom. The kid has more toys than an ailse of TRU can hold, but she preferred to play downstairs, with the contents of the craft cupboard, get online with her Webkinz, or bury her nose in her Nintendo DS.

Now, she doesn't want to do anything but hang out in her "super awesome" bedroom. I couldn't ask for higher praise.

There you have it. My shelf refurbishing project.

Made for one very hectic weekend when you try to maneuver this around auto servicing, birthday dinner for Chris and running errands in a nasty snowstorm, but worth every minute of it when I saw my kid's face. She didn't stop smiling for a full hour, and in spite of being sick and cranky today, I'm still the Best Mom Ever.

Yay me.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Pointless Purchase... for Now.

Remeber, last week, when I said that I had to have a set of Nesties?

Well, I bought them.

Hobby Lobby coupon in hand, I secured my ovals (which turned out to be cheaper than either of the reasonable online retailers I'd have bought them from, when you factor in shipping), and came away from the purchase quite satisfied.
Upon returning home, I opened my newest investment and decided to allign the largest oval with the image I so desired to utilize it for.

It's too gosh darn small!!! (the Nestie, I mean. Not the image.)

So it was back to square one until the weekend, when (now armed with a Michaels coupon, of course) I bought an alternate template (curse you, Fiskars. I just can't quit you... ) and am mentally reworking the project a wee bit, to work with the substitution.

After posting about the process, and all this griping, I'll have to post the completed effort, no matter how awful it turns out to be in the end.

Speaking of completed efforts, the self imposed February challenge for my (and Misty's, to give credit where credit it due, as it was our midday phone call brainchild) 'Procrastinators, No More!' thread was to "breathe new life into something old".
The something that I chose was a shelf that I'd intended to use in my daughter's room.

It was painted white, went up for a little while, and then sat awaiting usage.
It awaits usage no more, and just a shelf turned into sprucing up her whole room.

That, however, is a blog for a later time (after dinner and Ward's eye appointment, if I can help it), because there'll be some photos involved.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Right Thing Isn't Always the Easy Thing

Have you ever had something that you know that you need to do, but you just don't want to do it?
I'm not talking about laundry or the dishes. We all have those days.

I mean a something that you know deep down that you have to do, and part of you wants to do it, but part of you is fearful of the outcome. The kind of something that screams 'Catch 22', yet you know it has to be.

Yeah, that's where I am at today. And I think that if I start right here, I'll be able to do what needs to be done with less pain in my heart and without a sick feeling in my stomach.

Part of me feels more than a bit guilty, because my reluctance stems not only from a lack of desire to open old wounds, but of the fear of attaching myself to the situation.
But I'm already attached to it, and I didn't go through countless hours of therapy for nothing...

The something that I have to do sounds very simple, in theory. I have to write a letter.

This letter is to a judge, on behalf of my brother. He's not asked me to do it, and I'm not going to tell him that I'm doing it, but because of my experience with the system from the 'other side', I know that there is a good chance that my letter will help. Court impact letters almost always do. That's why they are called court impact letters.
My brother is facing prison time for something that outwardly is his fault, but inwardly is due to having the world's worst parents, and a system, that both academically and judicially, has failed him time and again.

My younger brother is a learning disabled, emotionally impared and chemically embalanced drug addict. Born seven and a half weeks premature to a pair of cocaine addicts, who would later become crackheads, he was screwed from the word go.
In trouble more than out, and my mother half tried, half enabled him ( you cannot hand down firm punishment to a twelve or thitreen year old and expect it to stick when you do drugs with them. It just doesn't work ), and never once did the right thing.
Bobby ( yes, his name is Robert. My mom named him after his father / my stepfather, and clearly didn't think about the remarks her kids would eventually face ) is capable of more, but needs a lot of help to get there.

Fast forwarding nearly two decades, here stands a man who is fast approaching thirty years of age, with the intellectual capacity of a third grader at best, a criminal record a mile long and very little hope of rehabilitating should he be incarcerated, because drugs are plentiful in prison and mental health treatment is not.
The instance that has him facing the judge next week isn't even all that severe; it's that the system is tired of having him in front of the bench, and they're to the point of washing their hands.
But the court is only now seeing its failure ( because I called his newest probation officer a few weeks ago and laid it all out, and was blessed to find out that the man spent a decade working in one of the schools that Bobby attended prior to said PO's tenure, and thus, has much familiarity with kids like my brother and what sort of adults they become ), and I fear it may be too late.

Some may wonder why I didn't attempt to aid earlier. That answer is simple: because my brother still wanted to be a drug addict. He wasn't ready to change.
He's finally trying now, to better his life, and had been trying prior to the most recent arrest ( he got into an arguement with his fiancee` and her daughter called the police ). Addiction is a hard road, and he hasn't ever had the right kind of help.
I a proud beyond words of my brother, for following through thus far. He's passing his random drug tests, and after a long talk admitted that he needed help and wanted help but didn't know how to get it.
An addict's talk cheap talk, and I've heard those lines from my mother more times than I can count. Only this isn't my mother and my gut tells me that he's in it for real, and is trying his hardest.

I think that part of me feels the need to make up for where my mother failed. That somehow I'll be making atonement with my own demons if I can set this right. That if I can lay out, in simple honest truth, the how and why of the way that things are now, I'll be helping Bobby, and myself.
Stress to the court that I agree that he's a nusiance - he pesters me often several times a day, for money, food, borrowed items, to act as a referee for family disputes - but that he needs the opportunity to continue with the counseling that he is now receiving, and will not receive should he be incarcerated.

Problem is, I'm spineless. Even now, as I explain, I am holding back. A lifetime of anger and emotional distress brought on by circumstances that I could not control, locked away in my head. A door that I do not open, because I'm afraid of what it will do to me when it does, both emotionally and professionally.
No one wants to elect an emotional basketcase with a family full of crackheads and derelicts to the city commission or school board, no matter how competent or qualified they seem. And God knows I have no deisre to head back to therapy for another thousand hours or so ( though I probably should ).
This circumstances with my brother have brought my repressed issues to the surface. If there has ever been a time that the door needs to be opened, it's now. I cannot explain the situation with any sincerity, without delving into that which I would rather leave alone.

...and as though Fate were telling me something, as I was writing the last paragraph, my telephone rang. It was Bobby, phoning as he drove past my house, to give me some good natured crap for going outside without shoes on in a snowstorm, to tend to my trash ( for the record, I had shoes on, but they weren't black, so he assumed that I was stockingfooted ).
That's my kid brother. He's quite something.

I know what I need to do, but that doesn't mean that I have to like it.

Since there's no way to transport myself to the realm of the dead, and give my mother a good hard slap across the face for failing as a parent (not that it would do any good, were it possible), this is the best that I can do.
I've slowly moved towards 'normal', in spite of her and other less than savory facets of my family. If I can help my brother get there, and he can become a productive member of society to the best of his ability, then we've won. Her reign of terror will have finally ended and my mother will, at last, be laid to rest.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a letter to write.

Well, it's official.

I need some Nestabilities. NOW.

I've put off becoming one of the Spellbinders addicts for many reasons. Space, being the chief answer, and expense following right behind.

My justification for the past few months has been waiting for the only store in town that has the multi-pack to have their 25% off storewide sale.
That sale has not yet happened (or I completely missed it, which is possible).

And then I said "Oh, I'll just wait for Mega Meet and pick them up for a decent price there".

As I am the queen of the land of WillNotBuyUnlessOnSale, that concept rests comfortably in my mind, knowing that somewhere in the Rock Financial Showplace there will be a set waiting for me, and my checkbook will be singing because I invested what amounts to jack squat when compared to regular retail price.

Last night, however, I found a flaw in my plan.

I have a project staring me in the face that requires an oval, in a size which I currently do not own.

After spending an hour ( okay, twenty minutes, but that's because my overpacked space is organized, darn it! There's an hour's worth of sorting neatly filed into one drawer ) sifting through what I have on hand, I found that I do not own what I need to move towards completion.

Anyone who knows me knows what this means. *insert stock footage of screaming woman and stampeding mob here*

I will be out today, hunting, and will probably end up paying more for it than if I patiently waited for an envelope to arrive in my mailbox from one of the numerous online retailers who offer said product as a reasonable rate.

Patience, however, is not in my repetoire.

However, other obligatons will prevent me from making a day long adventure out of my efforts (something which my son will be grateful for, I'm sure. By store number three on Mommy's Errand Day, Braeden is done and would probably stuff me into a cart and leave me in a remote corner in Wal Mart if he had the brawn to match his brains, and the ability to reach the gas pedal and still see over the steering wheel).

And (said with a sigh) I have to do something difficult later, and unfortunately for anyone who reads this, you all will get to 'hear' about it, because sometimes things are best resolved when pen is put to paper (or in this case, fingers to keyboard).

For now I leave you with the idea that I will return home, triumphant, prize in tow, grinning like a kid on too much sugar, eager to take on the next hurdle...

How to use the damned things. 'Cause I haven't a clue.

But unlike a man, I'm willing to say "that's what instructions are for!" and remember that when in doubt, one can always fall back on an Exacto blade or a sledge hammer to finish the job.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Teachers and Projects and Planning... Oh My!

I am one of the fortunate parents who knows exactly how those fifteen minute sessions will turn out.
However, I was pleasantly surprised when things when even better than I expected.

We see progress in Iain every day. There are obstacles that he has overcome that looked nearly insurmountable at the beginning of the school year. He has grown, shone and proven time and again how incredibly gifted he is, in his own wonderful way.

And as an added bonus, he tied his shoes for the first time yesterday. ( which resulted in applause from both his teachers and his parents when he promptly showed off his newly acquired skill ).
I couldn't be more proud of that kid.

Jennah took one look at the bar set for 'stellar', raised it, and cleared it with grace.
Seeing nearly every column on her report card adorned with a '4' ( our equivalence to an 'A' until high school ), reviewing all of the notes made by the extracurricular teachers... she even got '3's in Phys. Ed, which is downright amazing! She may learn to overcome her inherent clumsiness after all!
If only some of that would wear off and resurface at home. ( a phrase uttered by many a parent since the dawn of man )

Then again, she is my child. To expect her to not be willful, opinionated and stubborn is like expecting a turtle not to swim. While her mouth and her determination are the things that get her into trouble, they are also the things that help make her who she is.

Braeden... Braeden... Braeden.

I shake my head as a write this, but in spite of it, I have to smile.

The boy is a born politician. He schmoozes, capable of telling people exactly what they want to hear, and finds the weak link in any situation, only to use it to his advantage ( even if that means unnerving a fellow classmate, which seems to be the case ). He smiles with such sincerity and speaks with such conviction, that one cannot help but think he's amazing.

Or so he thinks. Fortunately, he's also five and a half years old. His shenanigans are much
more transparent that he realizes. Heaven help us when he's twelve, because by then he'll be a BS Ninja.

We ( his teacher and I ) have forumlated a plan that will - we hope - rectify some of his nonsense. A few days of going to school without his jacket, or wearing his pajamas should squelch his desire to move at the pace of a snail in the morning ( and by the same token, coming home without his coat or snowpants and having to stay indoors while Bub and Sis get to play outside should motivate him at the end of the day ), and we're hoping that some of the positive momentum will carry over into the rest of the day's activities.

And on to other, non-child related news....

I have a yellow light for my trip to Utah!!

The light is green, but we need to A. get the tax return and B. pay all necessary bills before I invest in a plane ticket.

Prices are way down right now ( over $150 difference from when I last checked, and nearly $300 less than when I began scouting ), and I am excited to take an extended weekend away to visit with a good friend, for what will be the first time, vis-a-vis.

Admittedly, I am rather nervous about spending an extended weekend away from Chris and the kids, but it'll be a lot of fun.
For the next trip out there, I'll bring Ward and the yahoos along. Jennah and the boys will love the dinosaur excavation sites and I'm sure that we'll find something for Chris to do, so that even he will have a good time.

As this is supposed to be an excuse for me to post things that I have been working on, I should probably close with a 'something' that I've created of late.

Problem is, I haven't been terribly excited by anything that I've completed in the last month or so. Nothing that wasn't jewelry, anyhow, and I never take pictures of those.
I've tackled several cards, a few altered items, two mini albums ( one paper, one chipboard ) and a couple of additional gifts, but nothing that I've felt was 'blog worthy'.

I will post a completed project when I finish one that I am happy with. Hopefully one of my February projects ( for the 'Procrastinators, No More!' thread ) will make its way here.