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Karen's blog is about life, love, and the pursuit of writing well
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1. Throw Back Thursday

Blake. On Kevin’s dirt bike. Back before Kevin had his motorcycle accident in April 2010.

I’m pretty sure this is the closest Blake will ever get to a motorcycle after watching his dad recover from a crushed pelvis.

Thank God.


Filed under: Throw Back Thursday

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2. Whose Fault Is It? Yours, Most Likely. Own It.

School-cartoon

It’s amazing how things have changed over the years, especially in the realm of education.

Once upon a time, there was this magical concept called personal responsibility and students were expected to do their homework, study, work hard, and get good grades.

When a student doesn’t do their job or work hard to get good grades it’s the teacher’s fault, not the kid’s incredibly flabby work ethic.

This lack of personal responsibility is why we have a future generation of self-entitled knuckleheads making a career out of being on welfare.

This applies to adults, too.


Filed under: Parenting, Politics

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3. The Power of Dance

I told you I wanted to be a dancer, didn’t I?

No? Well, now you know. But I didn’t have the flexibility for it and … oh fine, I never went down that road because dancing is HARD.

Whenever I’m feeling … off, or need to relax or simply escape, I will crawl into bed, put my earbuds on, open my Pandora app on my phone and fantasize that I’m a great dancer who spontaneously breaks into dance at work, or I’m a professional dancer on stage, or I’m simply out and about in daily life and no one ever finds that weird or disturbing and I MOVE people with the my interpretive dance.

I think that’s why I love, love, LOVE this video.

Did anyone else get goosebumps watching this?


Filed under: random stuff

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4. Throw Back Thursday

Me and Blake, circa 1994.


Filed under: Throw Back Thursday

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5. Long Hair is Hard

Seriously. Where have I been all this time??

I’ve been washing my hair every other day, (confession, I still wash my hair every other day), but now, when I’m feeling super lazy on the weekends, (because I don’t feel super lazy during the week – who has time??) I can spray some awesome dry shampoo, (I’m still experimenting, I don’t have a favorite, yet), put my hair into a high bun, use two long and two short spin pins and I’m good to go, baby!

Honestly, these three tricks have suddenly made my life a whole lot easier.

Yes. I know these things have been around for years but I’m slow, I’m years behind apparently.

I’m growing my hair out. And when I finally wear my hair down at work again, (in the Fall because I will spontaneously combust if I wear it down at work in the summer – TOO HOT), then people will gasp with surprise because it will be about three inches longer than it was at the beginning of the summer.

My hair grows super fast. Like, about an inch per month. Though it doesn’t seem to be growing as fast as it did – age, I guess.

I’m old.

Anyway. You may now resume your life. I know what I just shared with you was earth shattering.

You’re welcome.


Filed under: random stuff

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6. Audio Teaching: The Christian Hope: Part Four

Click for Parts One, Two, Three here.

I hope you’ll take time to listen to these audio teachings, if not here, then perhaps you’ll consider downloading them and taking them with you?

anchor

What the Bible really says about Death, Judgment, Rewards, Heaven, and the Future Life on a Restored Earth. God originally planned for mankind to live on earth, and His plan, though postponed by sin, will not be thwarted – it will come to pass in the future when a new earth is created. The Christian’s Hope shows from Scripture that each Christian will be rewarded in the coming world in direct proportion to the quality of how he lives for God in this world.

Click the arrow to listen to the Hope of Israel.

A Biblical Look at “Hope”

In order to properly understand the Christian’s hope, it is important to examine the exact meaning of the word “hope.” “Hope” means “a desire for, or an expectation of, good, especially when there is some confidence of fulfillment.” It is used that way both in common English and in the Bible. However, the Bible often uses the word “hope” in another way—to refer to the special expectation of good that God has in store for each Christian in the future. This includes the “Rapture,” receiving a new, glorified body, and living forever in Paradise. Today, the ordinary use of “hope” allows for the possibility that what is hoped for will not come to pass. However, when the Bible uses the word “hope” to refer to things that God has promised, the meaning of “hope” shifts from that which has a reasonable chance of coming to pass to that which will absolutely come to pass. To be a useful anchor, hope must hold fast.

anchor2


Filed under: Abundant Life

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7. Breaking Tradition

We didn’t buy fireworks this year. I don’t know, we just weren’t into it this year. In years past, we bought fireworks at a place where Kevin’s parents knew the owners and we would get a really good deal. The owners would pack us a bag full of goodies (because let’s face it, fireworks look the same and you really don’t know what they are going to do, but the fireworks stand owners know and are a great resource if you’re looking to get the most bang for your buck. [pun intended]), and we would split the cost with Kevin’s parents.

We’ve gotten some REALLY good fireworks with that arrangement for the past several years.

We would then have a cookout at Kevin’s folks’ house then shoot off our awesome fireworks. Me, Kevin’s mom and dad would sit on their pergola and Kevin, Blake and Brandon would run their butts off and light the fireworks.

Then, when it was over, we would all go out with bags and pick up the aftermath.

Fun times.

We did this for two reasons: Kevin’s parents live outside of the city limits thereby giving us a venue to blow our money [pun intended] and it gave us a chance to spend the holiday with Kevin’s parents. Because for whatever reason, Kevin’s sisters have never included Kevin’s parents in their 4th of July festivities.

However, we broke tradition this year. Money is tight and having us over for a cookout is a lot of work for Kevin’s parents, who are getting up there in age. Everyone agreed with this plan except Blake – he was disappointed. I think 4th of July is his favorite holiday. He loves blowing things up.

(That desire has always sort of bothered me, to be honest).

This year, Kevin’s parents came over to Roy’s house (i.e. the rental house) and we, (i.e. Kevin) cooked hamburgers and curly hotdogs. Kevin, Roy and Blake swam and Kevin’s mom and I sat on the edge of the pool and chit-chatted. Kevin’s dad napped.

When it got dark, we drove over to the nursing school parking lot and mooched off the spectacular fireworks show at the country club.

I imagine that will be our 4th of July plans for many more years to come. Cheap and easy.

And now it’s way past my bedtime and my eyes are drooping. I have a lot of chores and studying to do tomorrow before the boys come over to swim and then have nachos with us.

Happy birthday, America. You’re not the same awesome country you were twenty years ago, but we still love you and haven’t given up on you. You’ll be great again someday …


Filed under: At the Moment, Life

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8. God Bless What’s Left of America

We have our American Flag hanging outside our house and I can’t help but wonder, will someone report us? Will someone in our neighborhood be offended that we proudly display our American Flag?

To which I reply: Tough shit. good-morning-merica

I’m so SICK of people being offended by everything nowadays.

Get over it.

People are offended because some whack-job worshiped a confederate flag and was high on anti-psychotic drugs and shot a bunch of people in a church (notice I said PEOPLE – we’re all PEOPLE, color is irrelevant), and now the confederate flag offends people so we’re going to go completely berserk and obliterate every last trace of the confederate flag from the face of the Earth.

Idiots. The confederate flag didn’t MAKE that nut-job shoot those people, it was simply a trigger for his crazy delusions. What if his trigger had been a black cat? Would we suddenly want to eradicate black cats from existence? If you need to be “offended” by someone, be “offended” by the act and the person who committed the act, not an inanimate object.

Geez louise people …

You have the right to dislike the confederate flag – I’m not crazy about that flag, either. I think it represents a sad, mixed-up time in our history. I have never understood people who buy that flag and then proudly display it. Why? Do they wish they could go back to those times? Well too bad, it’s not happening. We learned our lesson the first time. Right?

Right??

But I’m not offended if they choose to fly it. It’s their right to do so. And it does serve to remind of us of the mistakes we made during that time period. This isn’t about me and my feelings, it’s about other people’s CHOICE to make bad decisions.

People need to grow a backbone and stop being such emotional cry babies.

The only thing I think of when I see that flag is slavery. And how that’s bad. And I’m truly perplexed that we thought, at one time in our history, that having one set of human beings serve another set of human beings was somehow acceptable. And then I roll my eyes and shrug my shoulders. I wonder more about the people behind these “offenses” than about anything else. People are idiots. What are you going to do?

Anyway, back to the American flag and our country.

I can’t get into this 4th of July. What, exactly, are we celebrating? Our freedoms? Our freedom to do what, exactly? Abide by the rules? Live under a supreme dictator or a group of tenured lawyers who have been given the right to make our decisions for us?

Freedom to “ignore its own laws and tear its Constitution to pieces?”

Freedom “to dismantle the institution of marriage in favor of legitimizing sexual perversion?”

What, exactly, are we celebrating nowadays? Our freedoms are slowly being taken away with each passing law and government decree.

If so, what’s so great about being great? Where is the optimism in that miserable greatness? Where is the hope for the future if moral bankruptcy, selfishness, confusion, stupidity, deviancy and failure are “great”?

This is why I’m surprised liberals are still out burning American flags. What are they upset about? This country has been reshaped in their image. They won the culture, the government, academia, the media, even the churches. This is their America. They own it. Yet they aren’t satisfied because liberalism, like its father Satan, is intent only on destruction and consumption. It will never be satiated.

You might say most of the examples I provided have to do with America’s people, not America herself. But the distinction is irrelevant because a democracy is only as great as its people. Meanwhile, our government is corrupt and feckless, and our political leaders are cowardly and self-serving. Yes, the Constitution is great, but it’s still just a set of laws. If laws are ignored, they might as well not exist. The Bill of Rights can’t make us great if we don’t follow it, just like your running shoes can’t make you fit if you don’t put them on and go for a jog.

So in what way is America great at the moment? Are we a moral beacon for the world now? Where is the rest of the world supposed to locate that shining light of moral clarity? Is it somewhere buried under the dead children and the perversion and the porn and the divorce and the drugs and the disease and the dependency and the Nanny State socialism? What about leadership in government, or education, or the home? Is American culture great in these respect

No, America Is Not a Great Nation. Not anymore.

I dare you to read Matt Walsh’s entire article. Read it completely through and tell me you don’t disagree. This country is slowly being flushed down the crapper. With every flush, we compromise another belief and/or ideal. Like a stone sculptor, decency is being chipped away, slowly, oh so slowly, and then suddenly, we see the finished product and wonder, what happened? How did we get here? What happened?

Like sleep walkers, we are suddenly shaken awake.

We got here by being outraged over the confederate flag. We got here by being distracted by Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner. We got here by not paying attention to what our educational system is doing to our children. We got here by being too busy playing with the newest and coolest electronic gadgets. We got here by putting all of our energies and time into being offended by the stupidest, most insignificant things.

It’s like people don’t WANT to really know what’s going on. It’s like people purposefully look the other direction in order NOT to see and/or deal with the bigger issues. Because talking about big changes is too uncomfortable, it’s too hard. And now we’ve reached a point of no return – can you IMAGINE trying to cut benefits to people who now solely rely on the nanny state to take care of them? Can you IMAGINE overhauling an education system so that we get back to teaching children and not indoctrinating children?

We’ve dug our grave, it’s time to lie in it.

Why should we celebrate the mess we created?

I think Matt summarizes this hopelessness best:

Here’s what I do know, and here’s the hopeful part: Our priority has to be our families and our souls. The fate of the country or the globe has not been put entirely, or even mostly, in our individual hands. But we have profound jurisdiction over the fate of our families, the spiritual state of our children, whether our households serve the Lord, and whether we serve the Lord. That’s our hope for the future. Right there.

We can find greatness if we strive for holiness. We have to. We are entering an age where only the great Christians will spiritually survive. It’s a scary time, but if we heed the call to holiness, we can find immense joy. That’s what I want for my children, though I fear for them quite a bit these days. I can’t imagine what this country will look like in 30 or 40 years. Maybe things will have turned around, but honestly I really doubt it. So all I can do is hold them close, try to be a better father to them and a better husband to my wife, and equip them as best I can for what comes next.

I believe strongly that real persecution awaits us down the road. I think my children will face hostility and opposition and maybe even violence on a level I haven’t yet seen. We are heading into very challenging times, but if we keep our families together and our hearts with God, we’ll be OK. No matter what happens, we’ll be OK. And, by extension, if we pour ourselves into our families and into our faith, we might be able to rescue this culture and this country from the clutches of progressive annihilation. It won’t happen quickly, and I don’t know if it will happen at all, but I know there’s a chance. America is not lost completely. Not yet.

So find strength in the Lord. Love your spouse and your children like Christ loves the Church. Be a leader in your home. Be willing to sacrifice everything for your family. Be unwilling to sacrifice your soul for anything. Confront the reality of our current state and accept that you will be asked to endure a lot of pain and persecution. Pray. Remember what America was. Remember who God is. Remember who you are and why you’re here and that you were put here in this time for a reason.

God bless what’s left of America.

And may God have mercy on your soul.

Amen.


Filed under: Politics

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9. Supreme Court, or Supreme Law of the Land?

So I was sitting in the pit at work, answering phones, like I always do when I’m not in clinic with my doctor, when my gay co-worker burst into the room, shaking, laughing and smiling.

“The Supreme Court just ruled same-sex marriage legal! Now I can get married whenever and wherever I want to!”

I blinked, absorbed what he was saying and then forced a smile in a silent form of congratulations. Thinking to myself, The Supreme Court did what??

That’s how I found out that same-sex marriage is now legal in every state.

I’ve been thinking about writing this post for the past 48 hours. How I wanted to write it. What I wanted to write about this subject. And it’s a toughie. It truly is. Let me see if I can first break my thoughts down and secondly try and make it as fair to all parties that I can.

Yes. I work with a gay man. He is the sweetest and most likable person I’ve ever known. I’ve liked him from the very moment I met him. And we get along famously. In fact, his sense of humor reminds me so much of my brother that I sort of SEE and TREAT him like a little brother. Yes. I’ve told him that before.

So I’ve had to be very careful in how I approach this subject at work because it would kill me to hurt this guy’s feelings. I truly like and care about him and I’m a lot of things, but I’m never intentionally cruel to someone – I have too much respect for the people in my life, or the people I like, to go out of my way to be deliberately nasty to them.

But I don’t agree with the gay lifestyle.

WAIT. DON’T GO. Hear me out, please.

I don’t believe God intended men to be with men. Or women to be with women. And no matter how we sugar coat it, or think of different ways to redefine it, marriage is between a man and a woman. Period. I’ve never understood why the gay community insisted on redefining that word. That word belongs to the heterosexual, get your own damn word. Call it a civil union, or a gay union, or whatever else you want to define two gay people becoming legally/contractually obligated to each other, but marriage is OURS.

Or it was until the Supreme Court stuck their high and mighty noses into it.

So, no. I don’t agree with the gay lifestyle. I don’t think it’s natural or beautiful or any other label you want to attach to it. I don’t believe you’re born a homosexual. I believe it’s a conscious/subconscious choice that is influenced by outside factors. I think people are born with a homosexual tendency, like a person is born with alcoholic/drug addiction tendencies and those people have to work that much harder to resist the temptation, but no, I don’t think there’s a special “gene” that makes a person gay.

This is what I believe. Disagree if you must. But here’s the thing – I really don’t care if someone *chooses to live that sort of lifestyle.

No really.

I. Don’t. Care.

It’s really none of my business how a person lives his/her life. I figure the gay community will be judged at some point and that at some point they will have to look God in the eye and explain their behavior.

I say, “good luck with that.” *SALUTE*

God granted humans the gift of free will – if one chooses to live by the rules that God has set forth in His Word, then that person will be rewarded when Christ comes back to get us. If one chooses NOT to live by the rules that God has set forth, then that person will not be rewarded. But it doesn’t really matter how a Christian lives his/her life, God loves us no matter what choices we make. If a person has accepted Jesus Christ into his/her heart and confessed with his/her mouth that Christ is Lord and was raised from the dead, then that person is a child of God. And just like our flesh and blood children sometimes disappoint us and/or don’t live their lives like we would like them to, they are still our children and we still love them.

The same principle applies to God’s children.

So a gay man may be a Christian and God will still love that man, but he will be disappointed and like a naughty child, that man will not be rewarded for his choices.

For with the gift of free will comes consequences of that free will.

If I choose to hold up a liquor store and steal all of their money, that was my choice. Granted, it was a poor choice, but mine, nonetheless. And the consequences of that choice is jail time.

I won’t pretend to know what God’s consequences will be for not choosing to live by His rules, but I’m sure there WILL be consequences. How can there not?

So honestly, who cares what my opinion is? Who cares if I disagree with a gay person’s decision and/or lifestyle. It’s ultimately none of my business how that person lives his/her life as it’s none of that person’s business how I live my life. WHO CARES WHAT ANYONE DOES BEHIND CLOSED DOORS.

I think my biggest beef with this whole legalizing a gay union (because I REFUSE to call it marriage – marriage belongs to HETEROSEXUALS), is that the Supreme Court turned my voice, my vote, null and void. They spoke FOR the people. They completely ignored the constitution, the states’ rights and basically said, “Fuck you” to everyone and made our decision for us.

They put on their emperor’s crowns and simply made a decision for everyone.

And the scariest part? This is just the beginning. The ice has been broken. Because now that they’ve done it this once, it will that much easier to do again. And again. And again. And before long? We will become a nation of robots that are TOLD what to do, how to live and how to think. And if we dare color outside the lines, WE WILL BE PUNISHED.

And the end begins …

I don’t want to scare anyone, or sound like some crazed religious person, but now would be a good time to start thinking about the afterlife. Because it’s all downhill from here and Christ WILL come back – are you ready? And I know what you’re thinking, “you’re crazy. Whatever.” What if my beliefs are right?

What if?

And let’s not be naive and think this decision, this turning stone, stops here. Guess what’s next?

Pedophiles want same rights as homosexuals

Using the same tactics used by “gay” rights activists, pedophiles have begun to seek similar status arguing their desire for children is a sexual orientation no different than heterosexual or homosexuals.

Critics of the homosexual lifestyle have long claimed that once it became acceptable to identify homosexuality as simply an “alternative lifestyle” or sexual orientation, logically nothing would be off limits.

“Gay” advocates have taken offense at such a position insisting this would never happen. However, psychiatrists are now beginning to advocate redefining pedophilia in the same way homosexuality was redefined several years ago.

Van Gijseghem, psychologist and retired professor of the University of Montreal, told members of Parliament, “Pedophiles are not simply people who commit a small offense from time-to-time but rather are grappling with what is equivalent to a sexual orientation just like another individual may be grappling with heterosexuality or even homosexuality.”

He went on to say, “True pedophiles have an exclusive preference for children, which is the same as having a sexual orientation. You cannot change this person’s sexual orientation. He may, however, remain abstinent.”

When asked if he should be comparing pedophiles to homosexuals, Van Gijseghem replied, “If, for instance, you were living in a society where heterosexuality is proscribed or prohibited and you were told that you had to get therapy to change your sexual orientation, you would probably say that that is slightly crazy. In other words, you would not accept that at all. I use this analogy to say that, yes indeed, pedophiles do not change their sexual orientation.”

The ripple effect begins.

And before you pooh-pooh this “ridiculious notion” away, consider this:

This article from the Greeley Gazette was originally published in 2011. But now, there’s actually a constitutional argument that can be made in its favor.

And did anyone think gay unions would be legal in every state 30 years ago?

And if you’re interested in what Christianity has to say about homosexuality, please watch the following videos: Teaching: Christian’s View on Homosexuality – Parts One / Two, Three / Four, Five / Six.

The slippery slope just got a whole lot slippier.


Filed under: Can We Talk?, In My Opinion

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10. Audio Teaching: The Christian Hope: Part Three

Click for Parts One and Two here.

I hope you’ll take time to listen to these audio teachings, if not here, then perhaps you’ll consider downloading them and taking them with you?

anchor

What the Bible really says about Death, Judgment, Rewards, Heaven, and the Future Life on a Restored Earth. God originally planned for mankind to live on earth, and His plan, though postponed by sin, will not be thwarted – it will come to pass in the future when a new earth is created. The Christian’s Hope shows from Scripture that each Christian will be rewarded in the coming world in direct proportion to the quality of how he lives for God in this world.

Click the arrow to listen to the Hope of Israel.

A Biblical Look at “Hope”

In order to properly understand the Christian’s hope, it is important to examine the exact meaning of the word “hope.” “Hope” means “a desire for, or an expectation of, good, especially when there is some confidence of fulfillment.” It is used that way both in common English and in the Bible. However, the Bible often uses the word “hope” in another way—to refer to the special expectation of good that God has in store for each Christian in the future. This includes the “Rapture,” receiving a new, glorified body, and living forever in Paradise. Today, the ordinary use of “hope” allows for the possibility that what is hoped for will not come to pass. However, when the Bible uses the word “hope” to refer to things that God has promised, the meaning of “hope” shifts from that which has a reasonable chance of coming to pass to that which will absolutely come to pass. To be a useful anchor, hope must hold fast.

anchor2


Filed under: Abundant Life

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11. The Statendam

So. Alaska.

We went in 2013. I’m behind – deal.

If you’ve never been on a cruise, well first of all, you NEED TO GO ON A CRUISE. It’s awesome. It’s our preferred vacation for sooo many reasons. I’ll have to write a blog post sometime: “tips from a veteran cruiser.”

Anyway. Whenever you go on a cruise, you have to do a safety drill. It’s mandatory. You HAVE to participate. If you do not, they will hunt you down and MAKE you participate. Everyone hates to do it, but it is nice to know what to do and where to go in case of an emergency. This picture is me at our lifeboat station. Only, we went to the wrong lifeboat station and we were the last ones to get in line and it was embarrassing because they don’t dismiss you until everyone has gotten into line and been checked off the list.

We got a lot of dirty looks from fellow cruisers that cruise.

Kevin and I still laugh about our stupidity to this day.

We sailed on Holland America’s Statendam. It was an older boat with even older people. I think we were the youngest on that cruise.

One of the first things we do whenever we go on a cruise is put our luggage away in our rooms (once they’re ready – a lot of times, they are loading up the boat and cleaning your rooms whenever you first go on board so you end up hauling your carry-on luggage everywhere with you until your room is ready. Annoying, but it is what it is), and then explore the boat. We like to walk from bow to … whatever the back of the boat is called (you’d think I would know that by now). This gives us a chance to get our bearings though we usually end up getting lost or turned around every single day. We usually get the hang of the boat by the end of the cruise.

One thing I consistently forget to do is take pictures of the inside of the boat. We’ve been on some TACKY boats, but the Statendam wasn’t that bad, really.

This was the library. We spend a lot of time in the library on the boats. Mainly because that’s where you can hop onto a computer and access the internet, which, I might add, is ASTRONOMICALLY expensive. But we have to access it because Kevin needs to be able to check into work and make sure Blake has things under control.

Which, I might add, he does a pretty fantastic job of keeping things running. We did have a bit of a scare though on this cruise. Kevin couldn’t reach Blake online and his phone was getting spotty service so he couldn’t call him. Kevin saw that our brother-in-law was on Facebook, messaged him and asked him if he could call Blake and make sure he was okay. Blake was supposed to have delivered some paychecks to a client and the client contacted Kevin and said that Blake hadn’t made it in yet. That didn’t exactly sound like Blake so we began to worry. Our worry was compounded whenever we couldn’t reach him. Our brother-in-law connected with Blake, asked him to sign on and everything was fine – he had overslept. He got a little bit of a butt chewing for that one but it all ended on a positive note.

(And in case I haven’t mentioned it before – Blake is Kevin’s bookkeeper at his office).

The food is always pretty good on cruises.

In fact, that’s always one of our favorite parts. You can always get something to eat and you don’t have to even think about where your next meal is coming from. That’s always a pain whenever we go on vacation.

Come to think of it, I hate thinking about food, period. It’s a good thing Kevin likes to cook or I would have starved my family a long time ago.


Filed under: Cruise 13 - Alaska

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12. Flooded Trails

We’ve gotten a lot of rain this past week. And for the life of me, I don’t know why it didn’t dawn on me that the Nature Trails would be flooded but …

… they were.

We were able to cross smaller sections of water, Kevin took his walking sandals off, I did not and my feet are soaking wet in the picture above. But by the time we reached this section of the trail, we had to turn back.

We were supposed to be walking, not wading.

No. This doesn’t mean I’m back into walking. This does mean that I NEED to get back into walking. My poochy belly has baby poochies.

It sounds cute, I can assure you, it’s not cute.

I bought an armband for my Samsung Galaxy S5 the other day. That’s what you see on my elephant arms in the picture above. That was the first time I tried it out and so far, I like it. My phone didn’t completely fit inside it, probably because I have an Otterbox case on it to protect it. (Those cases are freaking expensive! But it would be more expensive to replace my phone … so my extravagant purchase is justified, I suppose). But I like that it doesn’t completely fit inside – I was worried it would get too hot and burn up. My last phone case (different phone) did that. It didn’t ruin the phone, but it got so hot that I didn’t feel comfortable using it anymore.

I’ve been researching hiking trails in our area. I’m sort of on a hiking trails kick. I actually saw a really cool one in Ponca AR, but I’m not sure I can talk Kevin into driving 1 1/2 hours to get there and back. We’ll see. I also saw one in Branson MO too, but again, not sure I can talk the old man into driving down to it. In fact, there are quite a few things I’d like to do at Big Cedar Lodge. Horseback riding, for instance. I’ve never been and would like to try it, at least once.

Maybe one of these years (months ..?)


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13. Our Not-So-Epic 25th Anniversary Dinner Out

I usually make fun of people who post pictures of food …

But …

food-plate
(And may I just point out – this picture was taken with my phone. Damn!)

Tell me this doesn’t look scrumptious.

And it was. Even though Kevin ordered it, I forked several veggies for myself.

The sauce drizzled on top looks like chocolate – it’s not chocolate, it’s some sort of soy sauce-ish thing. And though it was delicious, it was too much. I think if we ever go to this place again, (it was Bambinos – Italian food place), then we’ll likely order it on the side.

Kevin and I don’t eat out very much. We have “go git” nights and that’s usually about once/twice a week. Which actually sounds like a lot when I put it like that.

We eat out more now that the boys are on their own. In fact, if the boys didn’t practically come over every night to eat dinner with us, we’d probably eat out a lot more because who wants to cook for only two people?

It was a nice dinner. Bambinos was a quaint, quiet, intimate place and the prices weren’t too bad. We enjoyed ourselves. We might go back – in another 25 years.

And that was the extent of our 25th wedding anniversary. Since our gift to each other was a Hawaiian cruise and we felt like we had already celebrated our anniversary, we didn’t feel like doing much.

What? I haven’t written about our Hawaiian cruise yet?

Patience .. I’ll get there, eventually.


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14. Throw Back Thursday

Feeling nostalgic. This was taken in the Fall of 2007. And yes, Kevin is holding a little clicker/timer thingie.

I miss these boys – so young.


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15. Preparing the Pool

So. I can’t remember if I told you guys that our rental house has a pool.

Well. It does.

Kevin has spent countless hours on this pool. (Notice I did not say ME and Kevin have spent countless hours on this pool. I have not lifted one finger on this project. Two reasons: 1. I have no idea how to help but more importantly, 2. I’m lazy).

It did not look like this when we bought it. It was dirty filthy and had disgusting sludge in the bottom. Kevin and Roy sucked/shoveled out the sludge and used the pressure washer on it. Kevin and Roy found a pressure washer at a yard sale, (they have both been scouring yard sales lately and it’s been AMAZING the kind of stuff they have been finding! Pretty much everything that Roy has been needing for his house. I truly believe God has been providing for Roy because he wouldn’t have been able to afford these items otherwise. GOD IS SO GOOD!), and Roy used that (for days – he loves the pressure washer) on the concrete around the pool, the slide and the diving board along with the interior of the pool (removing the old paint).

Kevin and Roy then painted the interior of the pool and Kevin has been working on making sure the pool will hold water. Which, has been touch and go. His current headache – something to do with some valve, blahblahblahblah, will have to dig, blahblahblahblah. Honestly, valve and dig were the only two words I heard. lol

Kevin said he’s going to have to do his first digging since working on the pool.

I’ll be honest. This stupid pool has been my biggest concern since purchasing this rental house. It’s an ongoing project that will always cost us money to upkeep and maintain. And when we bought the house from the previous owner, he told us he had a pool company come out and give him a bid on how much it would cost to fix up the pool and make it usable again. He quoted thousands of dollars. So when Kevin said he was going to get the pool up and running by this summer, dollar signs began to flash before my eyes.

Crap.

However. Once again, my husband has surprised me with his resourcefulness. He has watched countless YouTube videos, (what did we do before YouTube??) about how to fix the pool and dog gone it, he’s gotten it to the shape you see above. Roy has “helped”, though not really. He “helps” but standing by and watching – Kevin is really the one who can take credit for this feat.

The weather has been cool and rainy thus far. Kevin said the pool water is a cool 60-some odd degrees right now, too cold to go swimming, but he fully plans on using the pool as soon as it warms up and I’m quite confident he will have fixed this latest problem when that times comes, too.

Notice I said HE plans on using the pool. I will stick my feet in the pool and soak up some sunshine. My swimsuit days are OVER. Thank God.

(I can already feel my resolve weakening after watching Kevin dive in. Dang it!)


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16. Twenty-Five Years Strong

me-and-kev2A May 26, 1990. That was the day my life changed for the better.

Kevin and I have been married for 25 years. And I could write a novel of the events that lead up to this day, but I think instead, I’m going to copy what my sister-in-law did on Facebook and just bullet-point our lives:

  • We worked together at a bank – that’s how we met.
  • Our first “date” was the company Christmas party. And we met there, in separate cars. Because I was a strong female and didn’t want him to think I was easy. *smirk*
  • We lived together for two years before we got married. *gasp*
  • I had to give him an ultimatum – either we get married, or we go our separate ways. (Remember that strong female part? I was terrified he would walk out – but I guess it was better than wasting years together).
  • I had to shop around for a church. We didn’t belong to a church and a friend I worked with recommended a pretty little church in Nixa. Done.
  • Our wedding day: Kevin thought I stood him up since I was late getting to the church. That same friend that recommended the church also did my hair. A fancy little braid number and it took longer than we thought it would. Kevin said he lost a few years waiting for me.
  • We paid for our wedding ourselves. Well. Technically, we used one of my school loans to pay for our wedding.
  • My mom’s wedding gift to me was making my wedding dress.

  • I still have the dress packed away in a garment bag. I couldn’t fit into it now to save my life.
  • We toasted each other with paper cups because I totally forgot to buy glasses for the occasion.
  • Our wedding photographer was horrified because Kevin forgot to wear dark socks with his tux. The photographer had to place my wedding bouquet over his feet to hide them.
  • Whoever was in charge of music played the wedding march (the song you exit to) when my dad escorted me down the aisle. I wasn’t even aware of that faux pas until Kevin and I watched the wedding video afterward.
  • I had to wear ballet slippers instead of gorgeous heels because I didn’t want to be taller than Kevin for our pictures. (At least I was comfortable).
  • I couldn’t wait for the ceremony to be over. And who was the idiot that picked three songs to sing, during the ceremony, so that it lasted WAY longer than it had to? (That would be me).
  • We honeymooned in Cozumel, Mexico.
  • It was the first time I had ever been out of Missouri, let alone the country, and I cried like a baby.
  • I smashed my pinky in a lounge chair on the beach. I later lost that fingernail.
  • We rented a moped to get around the island and I don’t think we wore helmets. (We were young and stupid).

  • We ate lunch at a shack on the other side of the island and wrote our names in this pole. We later went back to Cozumel years later and the shack was gone.
  • I remember Kevin and I being horrified because the little prop plane that took us from Cancun to Cozumel was literally held together by duct tape.
  • I absolutely did not pack the right type of clothing for Cozumel. All of my shirts were too heavy and all I had with me were jean shorts. I’ve since learned tank tops and breezy skirts are your friend if you ever go to a tropical island.
  • On the plane ride home from our honeymoon, the landing gear wouldn’t come out and one of the flight attendants had to open the floor and crank the gear down. That did not help my anxiety over flying one bit.
  • I did not fly again until our 10th anniversary cruise to the Caribbean.

    and lastly …

  • I can’t imagine my life without my best friend, lover, confidante and husband.
  • Thank you for putting up with me all of these years, sweetie. I love you to the moon and back.

    lipstick-mirror


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    17. Taking Care of Our Elders

    grandpa

    One of the many things I like about Facebook? You get to learn things about your family that you otherwise probably wouldn’t have known.

    The man laying on the ground in the picture above is my grandfather – my dad’s dad. He fought in World War II.

    I’m just going to post what my Aunt posted on Facebook …

    Dan said his dad never talked about the war much (who could blame him) but he would tell us this story often.

    One day there was an order to head out, so some of his buddies got into the jeep. Right before Leroy got in, his commanding officer said “Hutton you stay”. That jeep was hit and Leroy lost good friends. He would say to us, “If I would have gotten in, you all would have never been here, that saved my life”. Glad he didn’t get in!”

    Isn’t it amazing to think that one moment in time, that one split second decision my grandfather’s commanding officer made, led us to this moment: Four children, ten grandchildren, nineteen (?) great grandchildren later.

    It sort of boggles the mind when you stop to think about it.

    My grandfather is in his early nineties now. We lost my grandmother, my dad’s mom, about … three years ago (?). She developed dementia toward the end of her life and it was a terribly sad way to say goodbye. It was very hard on my parents, I know. And now my grandfather is being moved to a nursing home today because we have reached the point where he can’t take care of himself and it’s physically too hard on my family to help. (He’s wheelchair bound and he requires physical assistance to get into bed, go to the bathroom, etc).

    This is INCREDIBLY hard on my grandfather. He’s FIERCELY independent, has been his whole life, so now that he is being forced into this situation, well, it’s been difficult, to say the least.

    My parents came over yesterday and they filled in the details. It was heartbreaking to listen to the anguish in their voices and watch tears gather in their eyes.

    My grandfather begs them to take him home. He doesn’t want to go to the home. Who can blame him?? But though my family tried to take care of him in his home for one week, the situation is simply more than any of them can handle. They’re trying to make deals with my grandfather, work hard, participate in physical therapy, work on his strength so that he can at least walk on his own again and then they can take him home and work on a schedule to have someone with him at all times. But my grandfather is being stubborn. I’m sure the whole situation is embarrassing and humiliating for him. I see this in patients every day at work. It’s SO HARD to succumb to physical restrictions and have to rely on other people to help you when you’ve been so used to being on your own, taking care of yourself, your whole life.

    This situation makes me think of my own parents a lot. They’re getting up there in age, too. Though they are still both relatively young and stay physically active (they go to a gym to walk and socialize every day), I can see early signs of dependency. It brings a lump to my throat to think me and my siblings may be in a similar boat one of these years. And though you can promise you’ll never, ever, put your loved ones in a home, you can’t TRULY promise that. I think this situation with my grandfather has taught me that. All you can do is the best you can do for the situation you find yourself in.

    I also wonder how our boys will react when Kevin and I reach that age. Getting older has never really bothered me before, but honestly, seeing my grandfather’s situation has opened up doors I never really knew existed before.

    I learned that being in a home, a DECENT home, is terribly expensive. This will likely put a huge dent in my grandfather’s money. I have no idea how much he has, it’s really none of my business how much money he has, but knowing my family, he likely has a nest egg somewhere he can rely on to help him through this stage. I feel terribly sorry for people that DON’T have that money to fall back on.

    Kevin and I have talked about making sure we have a will. But I’m not sure we have ever really discussed our plan if one of us ends up in a nursing home. I have made Kevin promise me he will never put me in a home, and vice versa, but my grandfather’s situation has taught me, it’s never quite that black and white.

    I worry that dementia runs in our family. I mentioned my grandmother had it and there are signs my grandfather might have it, too. I’ve always worried about my own memory – I have trouble remembering things NOW. What will I be like when I reach my twilight years?

    I think that’s one big reason I refuse to retire. Which, I realize is unrealistic, my body will deteriorate … I realize this. But I hereby pledge to work on keeping my mind active. I’m not saying my grandparents did not do that, dementia is not something you can likely prevent, but I will do everything in my power to keep it at arm’s length.

    In the meantime, life trudges on. All we can do is try and keep pace with it.


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    18. Seeking Certification

    We got our new jackets on Friday – don’t they look snazzy?! I’m SO BLESSED to work with such incredible people!!

    Work is going well. I continue to work my ass off but I’m starting to feel more and more comfortable with what I’m doing. There are moments when I feel like I’m sort of flying by the seat of my pants and thank goodness I think quick on my feet and can ooze fake confidence when I need to, but for the most part, I’m settling into the medical assistant position.

    I’ve been a medical assistant for a little over one year now. That sort of blows my mind when I stop to think about it. I honestly feel like I still just stumbled into this gig and I’m BSing my way through every clinic. I’m confident on the phones and handling the scheduling part of the job, of course, but the actual medical part of this job still sort of scares me a little bit.

    I guess I’m going to stick this out. I had thought, at one time, I might just hang it up and move on to something else, but this past year, though terribly challenging, and continues to challenge me every day, has been one of the most rewarding years in my life. There’s something deeply satisfying helping people and it’s such an HONOR to work with some of the top 1% of the doctors in the country!

    I’m pretty sure this is my last job. I will likely retire from the medical field. Which is so crazy for me. I never, once, in my whole life, aspired to be in the medical field. I wanted to be a writer, a paralegal, or a medical transcriptionist, which true, is in the medical field, but more on the outskirts of the medical field, not in the trenches actually interacting with patients.

    And yet, here I am.

    I have spent hundreds of dollars on scrubs. When I started as a scheduler, we wore a different color each day of the week. So I spent $200 just on that my first week of work. Now that I’m a medical assistant, our colors have changed again – navy, black and gray. And I have added on to my scrub collection as I’ve gone along because I get bored with one brand, I find something just a little cute/different and/or the fit is unflattering that I can’t force myself to wear them anymore.

    Scrubs are NOT cheap. I just recently bought another scrub “outfit” for just under $70.

    One scrub top. One scrub bottom.

    So. There’s that investment.

    And now I’m getting ready to spend another $150 in order to become certified. And another $50 bucks to purchase the study guide and an online test so that I can prepare for this certification process. BUT. If/when I do this, I will automatically receive a $1 raise which means I will have paid for my investment in three weeks and ultimately make more money.

    Not to mention, being certified carries more responsibility and more opportunities.

    And I’m motivated to do this because the government has implemented yet more strangling meaningful use policies and I’m no longer able to do a few tasks like I used to be able to do. However, I can do these tasks if I’m certified. So OF COURSE, I have to become certified because nothing frustrates me more than NOT being to do something or do my job to my maximum ability.

    I will learn everything there is to know about being a medical assistant. I honestly have no intention of going any further than this, at this point. But if you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you know I have an uncanny knack for sort of falling into things so who knows where I’ll be five years from now.

    I never imagined I would be where I am now five years ago.

    As far as the people … my nurse still drives me nuts – in fact, there are days I would gladly punch her in the face. But she’s sweet and funny and we’re all getting used to her, I suppose. Her personality is just so ABRASIVE! AARGH! And everything about her rubs me like sandpaper, her tone of voice, the way she treats patients, the way she has to include herself in EVERY SINGLE CONVERSATION THAT GOES ON AROUND HER, whether she’s included or not, her obsession with food, her butt crack. Yes, her butt crack. She was a size smaller when she came to us from the hospital but she refuses to allow herself to buy bigger pants, so she wears these tight t-shirts and low-waisted scrub pants and when she bends over – HELLO MOON. Our nurse manager actually came by her one day, yanked down her t-shirt and whispered in her ear loud enough for me to hear, “your butt crack is showing again.” AAARGH She’s just so immature and self absorbed … drives me nuts.

    However. I don’t see her going anywhere any time soon so I guess I just need to suck it up. I’ve worked with my doctor for over a year now and I’m the “veteran” on the team since his nurse started with him in October and his PA started with him this past January. Even though I’ve worked with him over a year now, I still feel pretty shy around him. We’re both loosening up around each other now and I am starting to see a lot more of his personality. I’m VERY FORTUNATE to work with a laid back, easy-going doctor. He rarely loses his temper (in fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen him lose his temper), but you can tell when he’s annoyed. I just try and make his clinics run as smooth as possible, even if that means I make other people in the clinic mad at me because I INSIST they do their jobs.

    Go figure.

    We’re supposed to be moving into our new home in July. The hospital is adding onto the main building and neurosurgery will be taking over the 7th floor. My doctor was on the planning board for this move so he views it as his baby. I’m really looking forward to moving to our new digs. Not only will it be “new”, it will be next to the hospital and Kevin and I are already planning on meeting in the hospital cafeteria for lunch. (They actually have pretty good food for cheap). Parking will be a challenge as it’s already a challenge at the hospital as it is now, let alone when our clinic starts going over there every day, but we’ll find our new normal, we’ll just have to endure the speed bumps along the way.

    The building we’re in now is embarrassing. It’s so old and ever since the announcement was made that we would be moving to the hospital, there has been very little motivation to fix or maintain our building and it’s starting to show a lot of wear and tear.

    Oh. That reminds me of a story.

    Our air conditioner went out – again. Our air conditioner goes out about every other month, it’s so annoying. So our HVAC guys showed up to take a look at it and found that the wires had been yanked out. Apparently, some homeless guy was living in the area, (the area is enclosed by a privacy fence) and he had cut out all of the copper wiring presumably to sell it. This is what happens when you have a crappy economy and more and more people are out of work – desperate times call for desperate measures.

    There is now a lock on the fenced-in area. (There probably should have been a lock on it to begin with but you don’t think about things like this until they happen).

    There are always weird situations that crop up in this business, but the latest weirdness happened a few weeks ago. A nine-year old boy came into the clinic for scoliosis. Though I’m not sure how the referring doctor came up with this diagnosis considering there were no films on file to show he had scoliosis. The boy’s guardian was his grandmother, who couldn’t read. So the boy’s mother came with them, but could barely read herself. So getting someone to fill out paperwork was a challenge.

    When I approached the front desk to get the boy’s chart and show him back to a room, one of the girls pulled me aside and told me that the boy had gone into the mens’ bathroom and pooped on the floor. Why he didn’t poop in the toilet, I don’t know. (I found out later that the nine-year old boy still wore pull-ups. Not because he couldn’t control his bladder/bowels, but because his guardians were tired of dealing with his rebellious I will poop and pee whenever and wherever I please attitude). When I called the boy back, the mother started to stand and told the grandmother she was to stay in the waiting room. I nixed that suggestion in the bud.

    “Is she the boy’s guardian?” I asked.

    When the mother quietly nodded, (I can be quite intimidating when I need to be), I shook my head and said, “she will have to come back with him since she’s the guardian.” (It’s a legal issue).

    In addition to the boy, the boy’s little sister came back, too. They were both the wildest children I’ve ever been around. They talked a mile a minute and they would not sit still. I had to get the pediatric cuff in order to take his blood pressure and I had to get firm with him because he wouldn’t sit still. When my doctor’s PA went in there next, (she interviews new patients first before the doctor goes in), I heard her raise her voice a few times telling the boy to sit down and be quiet. And when my doctor finally went in there, he was in there for two minutes, (because there was nothing he could do for the boy since we didn’t have any films on him – he’s a doctor, not an xray machine), the little boy followed him out and looked at my doctor like he was a god or something. I’m sure the boy didn’t have a male role model in his life judging from the way he was following my doctor around like a little lost puppy.

    In addition to being sad, the whole situation was pretty disgusting, too. They were Medicaid and though I’m trying very hard not to judge people who have Medicaid, more often than not, they are people who were referred to our clinic without a proper workup and it’s a waste of everyone’s time and money simply because the boy’s primary care physician didn’t fully do his/her job. I’m assuming the boy’s PCP simply referred him to our office to get the boy out of his hair.

    It’s a terrible abuse of our Medicaid system.

    I could go on and on with examples, I don’t want to sound too preachy or judgy, but just know, there’s a REASON why Medicaid patients are cast into a stereotypical mold, because many act exactly the way we expect them to. It’s very sad, to be honest.

    Our nurse manager is moving on to another position. We’re all pretty shaken by this news. She’s AWESOME and she will be SORELY missed but we can’t fault her for wanting to further her career. In the meantime, management has formed two committees, (sounds like something management would do, lol) in order to help interview her replacement. I didn’t volunteer for the position, I wasn’t sure I wanted to put myself in that situation, but when they came to me and asked me to participate I couldn’t really say no. This is going to be doubly challenging considering we’re getting ready to move and we won’t really have a “captain” to guide us.

    I have a feeling this summer is going to be crazy busy for us.


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    19. Walking Through Vancouver

    IMG_5362

    Kevin was so fascinated by these planes in Vancouver. We watched several take off and land.

    IMG_5379

    This was taken off the pier in Vancouver. Just another example of Kevin’s eye – I would have never have thought to take this picture.

    IMG_5348

    Kevin is so cute – I don’t care who you are. (inside joke).


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    20. Time to Grow Up, Boys!

    I have the day off today and tomorrow.

    Let’s take a moment and savor that sentence a moment ……………………………………

    Okay fine. You don’t care. But I am loving it!

    I haven’t had a day off since our Vegas trip in October.

    AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

    Okay, okay … we’ve savored enough.

    I got my gray covered this morning.

    me-darkhair2

    I ABHOR the hair dresser. Not because of where I go – they are actually super nice and their prices are fantastic – no, I hate going to the hair dressers because that means I have to be messed with and I HATE BEING MESSED WITH.

    Body massages and pedicures are definitely out for me.

    Know what else I’ve been up to today? Other than a nappie poo … or two … (Hey! It’s a day off, remember?? I can be lazy if I want to be …), calling apartment complexes.

    I did a lot of research over the weekend. (I love doing research on the ‘net – so many things pop-up that you don’t think about). And I narrowed our search to four strong possible places for the boys to live.

    Yes. The boys SHOULD be doing this themselves. No. If I waited for them to take the initiative they would never move out. I wish I was kidding. *sigh*

    Since this is the year we kick them out (I’m DETERMINED to make this happen), then I’m taking the bull by the horns and getting this ball rolling. Plus. They are getting on my nerves SO BAD. They are both so immature and lazy and I’m sick of their little boy mentalities – ENOUGH.

    All of these places are close to where we live. And the prices are reasonable. In fact, my first pick just happens to be the cheapest pick. And the closest. When I called to see if anything was available, I learned a con right away – the parking is a first-come-first-serve situation. Which means … what exactly, I’m not sure. But if they want to park under one of the carports, they have to pay an additional $15 per month – which is one reason it’s probably cheap, now that I think about it.

    I called all four places today. We are looking at two tomorrow. Possibly three. Since I could never get anyone to answer the phone at one of the complexes, we’ll just take a chance and drop by tomorrow and see if anyone is available to show us around. And the fourth place? Didn’t have any units available until April. Which, may work out fine anyway as I’m not sure the boys would be ready to move out in a week anyway.

    We’ll talk about that tonight at dinner.

    We have an appointment to meet someone at my second choice at 10:00. When I told Brandon what we were doing, (he isn’t working today) he was NOT excited. When I asked him why, he sighed and said “it’s more responsibility.” Well freakin’ duh! It’s called LIFE son; it’s time to start living it.

    See what I’m dealing with here? They’re spoiled rotten. And yes, I realize it’s our fault. Bleh.

    Anyway, I’m trying not to get my hopes up about these showings tomorrow. I can’t explain it but I either KNOW it’s going to be right or it WON’T. That’s how it always is with me. I KNEW Kevin was the one for me. I KNEW this house was perfect for us. I KNOW whether I’m going to get along with someone or not right away. I KNOW if I like something or not right away. It’s just a … feeling. That’s the best way I can describe it. Granted, these apartments are not for me. And I will do my best to keep my mouth shut and let the boys do the talking … but ugh. I just can’t wait on them anymore. I’m ready for them to begin their lives whether they are ready or not.

    And I’m being selfish – I want two extra rooms in our house. One will be an extra bedroom for either me or Kevin (I mentioned we don’t sleep together, right??) and the other will be an office and/or a workout room.

    It’s going to be SO NICE to have that space. But I don’t want to get too excited yet – we still have to make this happen. Blake actually did a budget the other day based on just the money he makes and he can do this – it will be tight, but he can do it. Brandon … can do it but he may have to get another part-time job or get more hours at work. But I’m hoping that moving out will motivate the boys to DO something more with their lives. Right now, they just go to work and play video games. I mean, they will likely do that when they move out, but at least it will be on their terms.

    This MIGHT motivate my nephew, my 24-year old nephew still living at home with his dad, I might add, to get a job and maybe move in with them. They have all talked about moving in with each other for years. That way, they could split expenses three ways and it will hopefully kick-start my nephew’s life into gear. WIN-WIN.

    Time to grow up, boys!


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    21. Dear God …

    dear-GOD


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    22. Applying

    This picture has nothing to do with anything, just thought it was cute.

    This picture has nothing to do with anything, just thought it was cute.

    We visited two apartments today.

    The first one, we met the gal at the complex and she showed us an apartment on the 2nd floor. The first thing I noticed was – it was dirty. At least, it FELT dirty. And it was right next to a major highway, so there was the highway noise. And then there were REALLY squeaky floors. And the floors felt … bumpy. And I immediately felt sorry for the neighbors down below the unit. And it just felt … wrong. The boys weren’t too terribly impressed, but they haven’t really had anything to compare it to so …

    When we left, we discussed the pros and cons. I felt like there were too many cons and I wasn’t impressed.

    Moving on.

    The second apartment, I had high hopes for. It’s the closest one to our house and the most reasonably priced. It’s near grocery stores and in the middle of a nice neighborhood. I crossed my fingers.

    We didn’t have an appointment at this complex, we just showed up. (But to be fair, I had called them them day before and they said it was okay to do that). The guy was super nice and very helpful. He also showed us a unit on the middle floor and I immediately LOVED it. It felt right right off the bat.

    The living area was a nice size. The kitchen is small, but again, it’s just the two of them. There’s also a pantry and a coat closet just off the tiny dining area. It has two bedrooms and two bathrooms. And the closet in the master bedroom is the BIGGEST closet I have ever seen. In fact, it’s so large, they could easily have a third person move in and use the closet as their “bedroom.” There is definitely room for a twin-sized bed in the closet. They’ve been toying with the idea of having one of their cousins move in with them… but we’ll see how that goes. It came as sort of a shock to Blake, when we talked to the manager more at length, that if their cousin moves in, he just can’t “move in,” he too will have to go through the application/approval process which means he will HAVE to have a job before that can happen. I’m relieved that was brought up and discussed because I really think Blake had plans on basically supporting the cousin and that would have been a bad idea all around.

    They have several units available. And again, I think it might be a better idea if the boys either get a ground floor or a top floor – stay away from the 2nd floor. Having neighbors is bad enough, having a neighbor both on top of you and below you is double the trouble.

    This complex has a pool, a BBQ area, and a laundry facility. And Blake is seriously considering paying an extra $15 per month to reserve a carport.

    But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. We left with some applications and went to our third apartment prospect.

    But the manager was out and wouldn’t be back for 45 minutes. So we went ahead and came back home.

    The conversation we had with the boys was probably one of the best conversations we’ve had in, wow, a LONG time. We weighed the pros and cons of the 2nd complex and talked about a realistic move-in time. After a while, I said, “what, exactly, are we waiting for? Let’s go ahead and start the application process.”

    And that’s what we did. The boys filled out the applications and wrote checks out for the application fee. Kevin wanted to see if they could be approved on their own first before we agree to become co-signers. Either way, we are going to work hard to try and make this happen. The manager said they usually have an answer back within 24-hours. I told the boys to keep their phones close.

    We never even returned to the third complex.

    I’m so excited for them! This is such a big step in their lives!! We talked about priorities – what would they need to buy right away and what could wait. I even found a pretty sweet kitchen table and chairs on clearance at one of the furniture places. I think I’m going to try and talk everyone into going to a few furniture places tonight after dinner, just to give them an idea of how much things cost.

    If today produces nothing else, it was a FANTASTIC learning experience for the boys. We can talk to them until we’re blue in the face, but to actually hear someone else explain the process and do some comparison shopping was a much needed dose of reality for them. I was worried about them being able to afford it, but after delving more into their finances, and being shocked by how much they both have in savings (We’re doing something right!!), I’m more confident they will make this work. And they’ll still have keys to our house, they can come over and do their laundry and of course, they’re welcome to come over for dinners to save them money on food, at least, initially.

    I’m hoping we have an answer by the end of this week. I hope they get approved on their own, but if they need a co-signer then let’s get the ball rolling on that process. Our goal is to get them moved in mid-March, IF all goes according to plan.

    It would be nice to have them all settled before the end of April.

    Why the end of April, you ask? You’ll see … :-D


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    23. Sailing the Inside Passage to Alaska

    IMG_1559

    Finally. We’re on Holland America’s Statendam. Look at that water – smooth as GLASS!!

    Here’s one of my favorite pictures from our 2013 Alaska trip:

    IMG_1581

    I want to blow this one up and hang it – soooo pretty.

    Here’s a short video to show how smooth the water was in the inside passage…

    We were also fortunate to see some whales, too.

    I wish I could say the trip back down to Vancouver, after our cruise was over, was equally smooth sailing but alas, no, it was not.

    We were one of the last cruises of the season and we ran into a storm on the way home. Luckily, our ship was small enough that we were able to stick to the inside passage and though it was not as smooth sailing as above, it wasn’t too bad. Whenever we passed by an area that there were no longer mountains on either side of us, the waters got very choppy and I got seasick. In fact, we have a video, somewhere, of the water in the pool sloshy so much that it soaks the deck. The pool water got so bad, that Holland America had to drain the pool it was making such a mess. But at least we were able to keep to the inside passage most of the way back to Vancouver. We were sailing side-by-side a Royal Carribean ship and it was too large to sail the passage so I heard they had some REALLY choppy waters on the way back.

    That is definitely a con to cruising – even though the captains do a fantastic job of avoiding rough waters, it will occasionally happen. That’s when your Dramamine comes in handy.


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    24. We Are Officially Empty Nesters

    EmptyNest-1 So it’s a done deal, the boys moved out.

    They moved out just before Brandon’s 20th birthday in March.

    Happy birthday, son!

    Now get out. HA!

    The move went pretty smoothly. The boys don’t have a lot, their bedrooms were the most challenging to move what with their beds and all of their computer crap, er, equipment. We were able to get everything in Kevin’s truck and I think we made a total of three trips with his truck full. I, however, made about twelve trips. I put their dresser drawers, (full of clothes), into my car. Then I loaded my car down with all the “practical” gifts Santa gave them this past Christmas and which they weren’t excited about AT ALL, until we moved everything in.

    I also placed SEVERAL blankets in my car and had to drive very carefully to the apartment when it came time to move their computers. I get that they are both INTO their computers and they have both spent a lot of money on their computers, but I get uncomfortable with just HOW much they’re obsessed with their computers – you would think they were made from glass the way they were both acting.

    However, we got everything moved over, unpacked and cleaned up in one day. We were all pretty exhausted when it was all said and done. I THOUGHT I had taken some pictures of their place, but I can’t find them for the life of me. They’re probably on Kevin’s hard drive. I think he wiped our camera cards off so we could go to Hawaii. (What?!? Yep – more on that … one of these days).

    It’s a cute apartment. Tiny, but really perfect for both of them. It’s a two bedroom, two bath place. We had to put Brandon’s chest-of-drawers in his closet (which I must say, their apartment has some pretty decent-sized closets) to make room for his over sized computer desk. But it works. They have a wood-burning fireplace. And yes, it works. Their apartment is a corner apartment on the 2nd floor – the corner apartments have fireplaces. It still sort of boggles my mind that apartments have fireplaces – isn’t that a HUGE fire hazard?? I pray they have responsible neighbors in the winter time.

    When it came time to look at the available units in their apartment complex, we, (and by “we” I really mean all of us), wanted a third-floor apartment. We figured it would be the quietest – they wouldn’t have to worry about noisy neighbors above them. But the only third-floor apartment that was available when they were ready to move in had carpet in the kitchen.

    Um – YUCK and NO.

    So, they settled for the 2nd floor apartment. They didn’t have anyone living above them for quite a while but now they say they think someone lives up there but they don’t hear a lot of walking around going on so they think maybe their upstairs neighbor travels a lot of something as it doesn’t appear they are home very often.

    We did have trouble moving their sofa into the apartment. Since they are on the second floor and right by the staircase, we didn’t have a lot of wiggle room getting the sofa into the apartment. In fact, there was a moment, when we all sort of paused, our arms aching from holding the sofa and thought, “we are NOT going to get this sucker in.” But somehow, we maneuvered it in and I confess, it’s perfect for the space and a pretty comfy couch. I think, though, if they ever move, we will have to take the legs off in order to get it back out again.

    They both swear they are not going to move. HA!

    •••)o(•••

    It’s been … weird not having them here. They’ve been out for two months now and it still doesn’t seem real. It just feels like they’re at a friend’s house or something. But then again, quite honestly, we didn’t see them very much when they were living with us.

    I think Blake was happier about moving than Brandon. I’m not sure Brandon was quite ready to move, but now that they’ve been out for a few months, I think they are both loving it. Who wouldn’t want to be their own boss? No rules. No having to live with the frustration of turning the Internet off at 10:00 PM every night. (Yes. We did that because if we hadn’t, they would have been up all night every night. Nope. Not in our house).

    Of course, we’ve spoiled them. We bought them quite a few things and in fact, we still continue to buy them quite a few things. For example, Brandon mentioned that they needed a pizza stone so they could cook their frozen pizzas. We bought them one last night.

    Kevin gets quite cranky with me with the all the stuff I buy them, but honestly, it’s like playing dolls or something – I just can’t resist!

    Kevin found a George Foreman grill at a yard sale for one dollar. Bought it and to our delight, it actually works. We’ll give that to the boys and show them how to cook hamburger patties.

    Roy found a set of 12 bowls at a yard sale for $2 – he will keep some of them and plans on giving the rest to the boys.

    They also come over to our house quite a few times throughout the week to eat dinner with us. For two reasons, really: 1., it’s nice to see them and to catch up on their lives, and 2., I worry they will be too cheap to eat decent meals. In fact, Brandon has mentioned he had to call in sick one time because he woke up with vertigo and was nauseous. When I quizzed him about what he had been eating it was pretty much Ramen noodles and cereal.

    I rest my case.

    •••)o(•••

    They’ve had a few incidents since living there. The neighbors next to them have fights and get quite loud sometimes. Blake said he woke up one night to some loud music about 2:00 AM and one of the other neighbors called the cops on them.

    They were both pretty nervous to live on their own at first – and I think they both still are – they immediately deadbolt the door whenever we leave, lol, but I think they’re getting more used to it now.

    Their apartment is not far from our house. It’s literally down the street. I think the close proximity also helps all of us and is probably the reason I haven’t really “felt” their absence. We can be at their house in about five minutes.

    This has been SUPER AWESOME though in regards to them appreciating what they have and what they spend their money on. In fact, shortly after we got them moved in, Brandon held up his hands and said, “Okay everyone, you need to take your shoes off.” haha!

    And Blake has already mopped and cleaned his bathroom several times.

    I love it! That’s what it takes – though it’s super hard to let go of our children, we absolutely MUST do it. They have to learn to take care of themselves and to appreciate what they work hard to have.

    Blake is still working for Kevin – I really don’t see that changing until Kevin finally bites the bullet and retires and closes his office. In fact, he is actively looking for more business and may even have to hire an extra person some day if he gets very much more.

    And while we’re on the subject of Kevin’s business, his office lease will be up soon. He’s thinking of possibly moving his office to the front part of the rental house thereby saving TONS of money in rent.

    The problem is: will people be creeped out going to someone’s house for their accounting needs? We’re still tossing the idea around.

    Brandon is still at the shoe store. And in fact, he likes it, much to my surprise. He’s a cashier, which again, surprises me. It’s not that I don’t think he’s smart enough to be a cashier, it’s just, that job comes with a lot of trust and responsibility and I’m flattered that his boss has that much confidence in him. People I work with know Brandon works at this popular shoe store and I had a co-worker instant message me the other day to tell me that Brandon waited on her and she was impressed with his professional demeanor. In fact, he sold her a program that she hadn’t really wanted to participate in but said that he was such a good salesman, she felt like she would be missing out on something if she said no. haha! That really warmed my heart that she told me that and it makes me EXTREMELY proud to be his momma. I think Brandon will go far in life.

    I think Blake will, too, I just think his success will be a little more understated than Brandon’s. But who knows, they continue to surprise me every day.

    The extra bedrooms are still empty. We are going to use one room for Kevin – he currently sleeps in his office on a futon. We don’t sleep together because he uses a sleep-pap machine and sounds like Darth Vader and I flop so much and snore that it wakes him up. I think we’re going to use the other bedroom as a game room slash workout room. Not sure on that one yet.

    The rooms need a coat of paint. They were FILTHY dirty when the boys moved out. In fact, there was so much dust built up that when I cleaned the rooms, I had a respiratory issue for a solid week. No joke. We are going to paint them next weekend, I think, since it’ll be Memorial Day Weekend and I’ll have three days off.

    So yes. We’re now officially empty nesters. It’s been a pretty smooth transition. I love when they come over and I love when they leave. Ha!


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    25. I Don’t Want to Get Older – I’m Not Ready to BE Old

    Weepy glees – have a box of tissues ready.

    I cried like a baby from start to finish after watching this video. I think this scenario affects us so much because we have an innate fear of getting older. And an even bigger fear of not being loved because of how we LOOK/ACT when we get older.

    I lost it when the guy commented about how beautiful she was to him, wrinkles and all. And you can tell he really means it, he’s just not saying it to be nice. That’s love. Pure and simple. *sigh*

    And I love how they kept a sweet sense of humor about everything. That’s exactly how Kevin and I are – we often giggle like teenagers like that.

    My age has never really bothered me before now. But I’ll be honest – I’m going to be 50 this year. The big 5-0 – half a century old. I don’t feel it and people tell me I don’t look it but when I stop to think about it, it sort of shocks me. How did this happen? Inside, I don’t feel a day over 30. Knowing I’m going to be 50 this year just feels … surreal. Unnatural. It can’t be real. There must be some sort of mistake.

    I’m fortunate. I work with people half my age so they keep me young. I stay physically and mentally active. And I don’t plan on stopping any time soon. I have no plans to retire – why? I ENJOY working. I always have. I get a high out of being productive. And there’s NO WAY Kevin would ever let me stop – I can barely keep up with him now.

    Do you think if I stay busy enough I’ll stay ahead of the aging process?

    Well I’m going to try, damn it.


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