Thursday, December 30, 2010

Starting another Blog and focusing on MY artistic side!

Well, here we are going straight into the New Year and I decided that I needed to  focus on myself for a change!  I have started taking stock of all my jewelry making supplies as well as the PLETHORA of broken old jewelry I have accumulated over the years.  This is a place I could go, I thought!  My sister and I have been thinking about coming up with a way to earn a little extra money and we've been considering doing "found object" restorations.  Amy is so good at getting something, cleaning it up and re-working it into something useful!  My niece's boyfriend also likes to find stuff in alleys and re-make them.  We started thinking about this and I was thinking of all my jewelry in various forms (made, un-assembed, and old, broken, etc) that could be marketed and Voila!

I have decided to start making jewelry again!  I have started to be creative!  Where will this journey take me?  Hopefully some place fun and profitable!  Even if it just gets me back into a creative focus, I will take it.  I am so looking forward to this!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

What a fantastic family day!

I am such a proud Mom!  Christmas has historically been very hard on Mac.  She's been known to unwrap presents "accidentally" and such...........which led to years of not putting her presents under the tree until about 3 a.m. Christmas morning.  Well, this year was amazing!  We put her presents out almost a full four days before the BIG DAY!  And she stayed out of them, for the most part!  We did allow her to unwrap one smallish present each day for each day she stayed away from the tree!  What a success!

Today was awesome!  Mac had made something for each person in the family during her sculpting sessions.  She made Bumpa a glazed coffee mug complete with designs and green and white MSU colors, Nana got the most awesome Frog Prince Charming!  Brit got a picture of Priscilla, I got a "generic" girl picture (which looks curiously of Mac with longer hair), Amy got a hand print, daddy got a Hot Air Balloon!! (two parts), and on and was so fun!

Amy gave everyone the neatest finds from all the thrifting places she and Tommy (Chelsie's BF) go and all the presents received were given with love!  Most of Mac's stash consisted of clothing, books and art supplies.  We really tried to use recycled, re-used and re-purposed gifts.  The focus was on home made and not much money spent.  I think we all succeeded.  Even Barb was amazed at the gift Wes got her (wink, wink-which means I picked out).

We also didn't have a traditional meal.  I made sloppy joe's and Den made potato soup and we had LOTS of was such a nice, warm, relaxing day!  Great to see Brit and everyone.  Great to just chill out and relax.

I am so blessed that Mac took such care in making her gifts and that took precedence over worrying about what SHE received.  What blessings!  I am so glad to have this family, this day and these memories!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

When is this Holiday over?

So I'm not the real Christmasy Christmas person. Look, I worked retail management for over twenty years and you learn to hate the whole time. People get bitchy, there's no time to celebrate and enjoy the time you do have and you slowly learn to despise the WHOLE ENTIRE SEASON!

Fast forward to now. No more retail! Christmas should be a breeze, right? I did all of my shopping a while ago because I made an agreement many moons ago not to ever set foot in a mall (or other shopping type establishment) from November 20 till January 1st. I just don't enjoy it. I hate crowds, I suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and anxiety and I gotta tell you, I totally lose it while standing in lines of any kind. So why do I find myself doing things like standing in line at the Post Office? (On December 16th)?????????? Why do I see myself scrambling for presents for some people?

Well, it's not for me. Not for MY shipping. Nope, this is for my husband and my mother in law who obviously didn't take advantage of shopping before the season. This should be no big deal right? Well, husband hurts knee..........MIL has the dawning that: "Oh, my Gawd, Christmas is next week.....what am I going to do?" What she means is: What are YOU going to do? Because who is doing her shopping? Yup, Cinder-freakin-Rella. That's who. Yours truly.

Why are some people able to get their stuff together and be proactive and others are sliding under the rolling doors at Mall Department stores on December 24th at closing time? (Oh, yea, it happened to me in 1985, working at Hudson's Department Store in comes a guy sliding on his knees to get under THE CLOSING DOOR to buy whatever was in front of him for his wife. I'm sure she felt really special......and I hope she enjoyed whatever perfume he bought.)

Forethought. Some have it and most don't. Get some..........and try to shop year 'round. You might get some thoughtful and less expensive gifts. At the very least you will feel better come this time of year!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Happy ChristmaKwanzaaHanukkYuleAshuraBodi Time!

Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukka, the Festival of Alcyone or Yule, you know this materialistic time of year is really hard on special needs kids.  At our house we have learned that it's just too hard to keep hands off of presents so the tree shall remain present free (at least for those people named McKenna) until Christmas morning.  Magically they will all appear!  Safely hidden well away in various sneaky places outside of our household until then!  We learned this the hard way over the years!  Can you say unwrapped early???  Very, very early?

Well, it is hard as a child to learn patience, but patience seems to be a never-quite reaching thing in this household!  The excitement of the Season can be quite the unraveling, in fact.  So we try very hard not to focus on the date and to distract as often as possible.  There does seem to be some creative awesomeness to her and making her presents for each person has seemed to distract her from her usual over-obsession.

Perhaps there is hope!  For one thing, we've always taught that Jesus rocks but that Christians tend not to always be the best example of the MAN.....We are spiritual and believe in God(s) (dess) (desses)!!! But we have been trying very hard to teach all faiths and rituals to Mac.  We believe that if we raise her to be Spiritual that she will choose the best path for herself amongst one or several religious ideologies..... on her own.  I have been trying to share memories of my times with friends and church with her......and she knows most of my issues with the religion I grew up observing.  I'm glad that she can "try on" ideas and celebrations to see what she likes.  And by teaching her several different religious tenets we can distract her further from remembering the date of the traditional observation which will bring the family together for gift giving!

Perhaps in her rituals she will begin to understand the enormity of choices she has in Worship.  Perhaps teaching compassion as opposed to a fixed ideology will serve her better than my religion served me.  I believe she will always have faith and will find her way herself.  And the presents will stay hidden and wrapped this year!

Happy personal observance month!  Enjoy your family no matter what!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A Very Stop Motion Animation Christmas To You!

I love Joel McHale.......and who can resist Chevy Chase?  So "Community" which stars both of these wonderful actors is good.  What could make it better?  Well, to wake up being a clay animation figure, right?  Stay tuned for a very special "Community" which airs on NBC this Thursday at 8/7 Central.  I got to watch this as part of one2one network.  The whole episode.  Before it airs!  Luck, you betcha!

When Abed (Danny Pudi) wakes up in stop-motion animation, he takes it as a sign that he and the group must re-discover the meaning of Christmas. Meanwhile, Jeff (Joel McHale) and Britta (Gillian Jacobs) become growingly concerned about Abed's mental health and enlist the help of Professor Duncan (John Oliver). The group undergoes hypnosis to explore Abed's winter wonderland and soon unravel the truth behind Abed’s madness. Chevy Chase, Yvette Nicole Brown, Donald Glover, and Ken Jeong also star.

I've got to tell you that I've never watched this show previous to watching this episode.  It was kind of interesting never having seen the show before watching this specific show which consists of Stop Motion Animation.But I'll be tuning in to watch it now!

Mac watched it with me and we both agreed that it was very funny and contained a really good message about friendship.  Our reality is what we make it and all the stress of the Holiday season can bring about a myriad of emotions.  How we chose to deal with this stress will likely determine how we do anything else in life:  friends can be family!!!!  What a wonderful Holiday message.

So if your family isn't the "perfect Holiday Norman Rockwell painting?"  Whose is?  Forget about  it and hang out with some friends!  Oh, and don't forget to tune in this Thursday to NBC 8/7 central for a really nice reminder to stay sane during the Holidays!

I got to review this show as a part of my involvement with one2onenetwork!  Lucky me!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Happy Humming and Turkey!

So we are humming around here a lot these days.  This was picked up while at the hospital this fall and continues with us.......but she does it when she's happy, so I guess the Humming Turkey Day is okay!  Thanksgiving was the best ever in terms of food and fellowship!  The happy humming girl went to spend the night with the  Nans and Pops (AKA Nana and Poppy AKA Bumpa!) and life is good!

Today, Den's Aunt and Uncle came in all the way from MN to spend some time with us.  Wes wasn't doing too well so we ordered in for dinner.  We had much recollecting on the D family's past years as well as a few of my memories of spending T day with my M family.  I sincerely miss running into my Grampa's house, grabbing coffee with a lot of creamer and sugar and a cookie out of the box, quickly finding a seat and seeing how long you could stay there before you had to pee......see seating was a premium at Grampa M's and if you peed then you might stand or take a lesser wanted seat for a while.  I remember that I preferred sitting with the adults at the large Oak round table as opposed to going outside with my cousins. 

Now in the summer, there were grapes to check for ripeness on the vine or Garter snakes to scare younger ones with....but fall and winter?  Yup, sitting till ya had to pee was the way to go.  The adults played cards and told stories about things THEY had done as kids.  I loved all the stories!  They were like little tidbits of heaven.  Hearing how "Butch and Rusty" (My Dad and Uncle Russ) would have their jeans slung so low that they would get in trouble, and their cigarettes rolled up in their sleeves while on the prowl in downtown Hastings!  Or the antics of Marion and Shirley.  One never knew what stories might spill and I for one did NOT intend to miss a single one!  You never knew when a good one would emerge!

I remember all the smells; food cooking, cigarette smoke so thick I'd have to go out in the snow bank for a while because my eyes were burning, laughter, sadness, waiting for the bathroom, waiting for a chair (luckily everyone had to pee at some point!).....Christmas traditions like the "white elephant" auction!  There was a Buddha lamp that made the rounds for years!  Such joy was always in the air.  I was always happy there!

I wish that Mac had that big of a family around her.  We went there every Sunday afternoon like clockwork.  Cousins, more cousins, Aunts, Uncles, assorted friends, always at least thirty people.  I am really missing Gramma and Grampa M.  I think this year more than ever.  I see Mac growing up still with the White Elephant fun but without tons of family around.  I wonder if it will affect her.  I wonder if the family traditions will fade with time.  Will she keep them alive in her family?  Will Chelsie and Brit?  I think so.....I hope so.....I wish I could sit around that big Oak Round Table one more time and listen to all the laughter!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Finding out just how much damage was done....

Well, after a couple of weeks "homeschooling" with an internet school, I've come to the very sad conclusion that my daughter's previous school has not given her the education she deserved!  I really wonder where she would be if we hadn't pulled her out when we did!  Basic things seem to be missing from her knowledge base.  Things that I guess we hadn't noticed!  We knew there were issues with math, but she doesn't know where to position letters on the lines, which makes her capitalization difficult to decipher, and her knowledge of punctuation is so-so.  I guess because she's been typing on the computer since three might be responsible for a lot of it, but WOW!  Shocker!

I keep explaining to her that I'm not MAD at her for not knowing this stuff, that I'm frustrated that she wasn't taught correctly, but to her it seems like I think she has flaws.  It saddens me.  The good news is that she tested out extremely well on all subjects thus far.  I think it's that it's safe to say that due to her intelligence she's going to be fine!  I'm just glad that we're teaching her.  I'm feeling less overwhelmed about this teacher role I find myself in and happy for my OWN intelligence.  I see now that I can do no worse than the AZ Educational system.

Didn't we know how to tell time on a clock face by fourth grade?  Didn't we know how to write out letters and numbers?  Hmmmmmmm.......I think in some ways technology isn't such a good thing!  Happy Thanksgiving.  I am thankful for a daughter who has gifted intelligence and a DESIRE to learn.  Without it I wonder where she'd be!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Day by Day...........

So we're having good days and not so good days in this new adventure.  Some days Mac is just not able to focus on school work.  Other days, she just rocks it out!  I am so happy on those days.  I'm thinking of adding Saturday for a couple of hours of easy stuff....and shortening the 5 hours during the week to about 4.5.  That would mean 2.5 on Saturday.....but I think that would be okay.

I still think she's learning more at home than she did at school!  Den's taking over teaching the social studies portion (after all he's got a teaching certificate in that subject!)  I'm doing math right along with her, problem by problem........and she's working it.  She's going to ask her teacher if she can do most of her "writing" on the computer as opposed to writing it out.  She does much better that way.

It's all good!  Oh, did I mention I am getting a two hour massage tonight?  Yeah, that's how Mama survives!  Have any of you ever read about massage for kids with ADHD and/or BiPolar?  I've heard that it really helps with calming kids down if they receive regular massages.  I'm thinking about getting her started.  What do you think?  Let me know.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

So, we've found a new school!

So after seeing my happy, go lucky daughter turn into a couch potato (I actually called her a pig in a blanket because she was all rolled up in a beige blanket at my Mom's Sunday morning...doing nothing after an overnight stay.)  Mom said she really didn't want to go anywhere (they were going to see a movie) or do anything.  She'd been like that for DAYS.  Just moping around.....sadness in her eyes.  I would send her off at school and watch her:  head down, walking slowly............looking so lost and sad. 

So Sunday when I saw her on the couch I said: THIS IS IT!  I stayed up all hours of the night researching new schools, weighing the Pro's and Con's....trying to decide if I was just going to pull her out and home school her...but then I'd have to do curriculum, buy books or other materials, be the "bad guy" with lessons.  UGH!   I didn't really want to go that route!

And then, out of nowhere.......this little Google search turned up AZ Distance Learning Academy. It's LIKE home schooling, but it's considered a charter school, so she's still enrolled.  They sit down with you and your child and figure out a curriculum designed for YOUR CHILD after TESTING them!  There are several different ways to deliver the material, again customized to hour your child learns best !!!!!  The teacher issues home work and tests, which you proxy at home.  The teacher can do Skype sessions for one-on-one tutoring and you send in attendance on Sunday night.  25 hours a week of study are required. But you do it all at home.....or anywhere with high speed internet access!  She can go from our house, to Nana's to Amy and Chelsie's!

Mac can go as fast as she wants to through the material!  She will be tested on-site four times a school year and she has to do AIMS testing there as well (state tests).  The best part?  They'll pay us $150 a semester reimbursement for private music or art lessons!  Plus all books and materials are free if returned.  WOW!

She found an Arts school she wants to go to in 7th grade....and we're going to talk to them about maybe going the year she'd be a 6th grader instead.  Her therapists both think skipping one grade is fine for she may only do the Distance Learning for a few years, which is great. It's a solution for the in-between years left!

The good news is I found a school that we don't have to get her up for at the crack of dawn (which has been the main reason she's lost so much time historically!) as she can do this schooling from noon to 5 or 9-2 or 3 to 9: any day!  So we can do school on the weekend if we so choose!

When I told her that this would be her last week at her school, she started backpedaling, with the "well, I don't want to leave.  I'll be fine......." but after a wonderful session with Dr. Beth, who assured her that those feelings of anxiety were NORMAL for leaving a situation, she's doing a bit better now.  Still very anxious, she hasn't sleep well at all and has stayed home more this week than going.  But she's going to go tomorrow because she talked with Dr. Beth about closure....and how important that is.  So we are going to take treats to school and tell everyone that we've found a school which is better suited to Mac's needs and that she will miss (some) them. (Really, only one,  but we'll be nice!)

The new school called and I just need two more documents submitted and then next week we'll start the testing.  I'm going to fax those docs now so our adventure can begin............YEA to new beginnings!

Friday, October 15, 2010

I think I'm getting WHY McKenna has so MANY issues at school!

Okay, so we've been in a holding pattern on the school issue for a while. We've put off pulling her out of her school and/or looking for a new school and/or homeschooling her. We had a great sleepover with a classmate of the  ONE parent I spoke with regarding our issues with the school.  Her daughter befriend McKenna after an absence of a few years of them being not so friendly.

So we go to her Parent Teacher conference last week and we chat with her teacher...and map out where we are since the Hospital visit....and I ask if it's true that he won't accept her Spelling/English homework unless she has her Math homework done too. He says that is the class rule and it's not fair for other students who do all the work to see her turn in only her Spelling homework. So I told him that he will NEVER see homework from her then because even if she has it completed (and sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't) that she just won't hand it in...because it's messy. Well, he says that's the rule.

Then we discuss her melancholy and her ongoing therapy...and he brings up the fact that she basically just sat down and cried for about an hour the previous week. He asked if he could help her and she just told him to leave her alone. Um, this was the first time I'd hear about this. No call home, no text, no email, nothing. I'm thinking for a child who was just hospitalized for Anxiety/Depression that perhaps this needs to be communicated in some manner!!!

That made me a LOT pissed. I told him the next time he needed to call me so I could come get her. His response was: "well, sometimes children just need to cry." ???????????????????

We also pointed out that we'd like her moved to a separate area with a desk against the wall so that she won't get distracted by other students talking and leading her to talk/not pay attention. This was something Mac and her Psychologist came up with for helping her in school. (Accommodations list which every child who falls under ADA regulations should have at school )....but since this school has never had an IEP with us, even though we've asked again and again.....we don't have an accommodations list. Oh, and she's still not by herself but rather in a row of other students!

Overall, at the time I felt better that we had some time with him and that Den and I explained how she learns and has been self learning.....we explained to him that we didn't want her left in the room for math but rather put with someone who could retrain her from the beginning...doing basic addition and subtraction since she wasn't retaining that information. He said that he didn't know if there was anyone who could give her remedial help but that she could leave when they do math. But if nobody is going to help her then where will she be with math???

Again, I was happy that we got a chance to talk with him......when I was explaining to my sister, Amy, what he'd said and what we talked about she looks at me and says: " So he said there's going to be no help in math, no accommodation for taking some but not all homework, she passes tests on subjects that she wasn't even there for so he's not teaching her the stuff she excels in and he lets her cry without calling you after she's been hospitalized? Why do you think you made any progress?"

She's right! They've dragged their feet about an IEP for a YEAR AND A HALF. They don't treat her Special needs in Math nor do they treat her giftedness in English/Spelling/Social Studies and all things NOT math! And he doesn't inform me of major breakdowns while at school!!!! And has little to no control over his class while at recess, referring to the bullying going on all the time.

It's time for a new school! We will be stepping up the effort for Mac once again! Ridiculous!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Keep on Keeping on..........

In the words of a famous female journalist:  "And so it goes..."  I am not sure if we are 100% happy with the new med in the mix for K.  There seems to be some problems thinking for her.  Why does the chemical world need to be so hard to maneuver?  She's doing better though.........but this week on the way home from school she told me that she's done at this school.  Those of you who know my kid, know that when she finally verbalizes a statement of this magnitude know that this means:  Decision done, game over...this is the final word!

We had already decided to move her in seventh grade to the local Arts Jr/Sr. High........but now I think we might be finding a new "home" sooner than that.  Our therapist recommended an Educational Consultant whom she uses occasionally for help with some patients...I guess this woman knows the area schools in and out and can help you figure out the best "fit" for your "special needs" child.  UGH!  This road is certainly fun!

Short of home schooling (which has it's own set of issues) I cannot think MYSELF of a school that I think will offer her everything she needs to thrive.  I guess we need to just make the right, best, decision for HER.  I just watched Michael Eisner talking about partnerships.  He said that if the partners don't give 50-50 they don't work.  Even 45-55 does not necessarily work.  I feel like her school has not offered the 50%. I feel that Den and I have been left out in the wind.  I'm assuming this is how K feels as well.  How sad!

My daughter is SO beyond her years!  She is amazingly talented in English, Social Studies, Science,etc.  However, relationships with peers and Math?  Special help is required!  Can someone come up with a plan to meet her educational and emotional needs?  Or are we as parents, grandparents and Aunt out here alone...lonely and wondering why the educational system has let my child down?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

And so it goes.......

So here we are and McKenna is home.  She's not really telling me a lot about what's going on in her mind.  I think she's talking to Amy though and I have to be okay with that!  I guess the "Mom knows nothing" years have begun early.  I only hope that means she'll emerge from that phase early too!

I won a 90 minute massage and 90 minute facial from my salon (shameless plug here:  Dolce Salon & Spa!)  So I have that to look forward to on Monday.  Considering I got a massage right before Kenna's hospital journey, I'm glad I won one as that one seems to have been a very, very long time ago.  Then they had a deal on a pedicure I just couldn't pass up so I booked that for Saturday morning.  I think that will make me feel much better!

The entire family has been coming over most every day to help us go through the house and super clean, sort and organize it.  I can't believe we've only lived here for 6 years....we have accumulated over 20 years worth of "stuff!"  It does feel much better purging everything.  I even find myself going back over things I thought I'd keep three months ago and NOW I'm tossing them in the GO pile!  There will be a few fantastic Non Profs who will benefit from our largess!

I am so glad to have Kenna home. I am blessed to have such an intelligent, artistic, gifted child.  She has empathy for others and is just amazing!  Not a day goes by that I don't learn something from her.   One of the things that I have started to change is taking time doing some things for myself.  That's why I'm going to the salon for "me" treatments!  Den and I are taking time for US.  We are making sure to show our love for each other every day.  It's amazing how you can get so caught up in the daily crap that you start treating each other in less than nice ways!

Well, I guess I am shedding my proverbial skin and beginning anew!  New organized house, new treatment for my hubby and a daughter who continues to amaze me daily!  I guess learning that YOU are worthy of a little pampering can lead to unexpected results!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Letter to the Universe!

So, I have to write this.  Just have to write it down and put it out into the Universe so that it's there.  So God(s)(dess) hears that the Universe is One with it.  Hold Kenna safe in your arms please as I am not there to do so.  Keep her safely in the Universal Peace and surround her with White Light and Serenity.

I know that Stevie and her Aunts are with her in the night and when she's alone and lonely.  I know Helen and Ron and Herb & Gerie surround her too and the feeling of Strength she feels in her soul is them supporting her while I can't.  If a mother EVER felt like she's coming undone it is me!  Please Universe....hold her safely in your arms.

The absolute worst night of my life to date was Monday night.  Labor day.  Beautiful family cook out, like usual....then a series of events lead to Kenna really having a stressful session of agression and then regression.  She wrapped a big blanket around her head and decided to snuggle into it much like a cocoon.  She went right inside herself....where I couldn't find her.  A little scared girl took her place which left us no other choice than to take her to the hospital in hopes of helping our little lost soul.

I told my baby, my one and only that I would never leave her.  I would be with her through all the traumatic times in her life.  But at the last minute I was told that McKenna would travel into the hospital but I had to go home.  I could visit for one and one half hours in the evening but for 22.5 hours a day I would NOT have any contact with my own child.  I was told that this was for her BEST interest.  I was told most kids did better than I would believe. I was told many things....but the only thing that I KNEW was that my baby would wake up in a foreign place with no Safeplace of Mommy's arms.  No one to hold her and tell her that everything would eventually right itself and she could finally come out from under her blanket and emerge safely again into the world.

I think that I am perhaps as lost as she is during this time.  I have left my child in the care of others, trusting these people whom I barely know with the MOST precious thing in my life.  This is not something that I ever imagined.  Well, of course I imagined it!  In nightmares, I have known this was a possibility....but the reality is much worse in some ways.  I walk through the day and answer questions and then do not have a comprehension of anything I have done.  I cannot sleep, cannot think of anything other than getting her back whole.  Getting back the child I had Monday afternoon.  Getting back MyKenna!

The family is scurrying to get a new and improved Oasis ready for her impending arrival back home!  Dad and Amy began painting her New, bigger bedroom a beautiful, calm purple and dark blue....with stars which will glow and light up the sky (wall).  We want a secure, serene atmosphere to help her continue to get better and not stress over life's up and downs.  We've been so around the block on figuring out what is happening inside our little one's head.  And then to learn that Anxiety and not BP may be the issue.  That the everyday stress of social situations may be more than she can take.

The team thinks that because of her unique intelligence and understanding of life, combined with her inability to ever want to be less than perfect just puts too much strain on her and she can't handle it.  She had a wonderful weekend, a great family-filled Holiday and the stress of knowing school was on Tuesday just rocketed her into another world.  Is it the friend who quit hanging out with her at play time?  Her disappointment in herself over something imperfect in a class?  The fact that she doesn't do well in Handwork?

She is so hard on herself and so tired of other kids not "getting her" that she would rather take a little time out and cover up in her great big comforter and have to be alone....all alone for the first time in her get her well.  Please, Universe.........hold my child tight in her little cocoon and keep her safe.  Until I can once again.

Friday, August 20, 2010

McKenna Started School This Week!

Oh, it's the start of school and boy are we tired out already! We have the mornings down to about a 40 minute deal already. I make her lunch at night and then just pop it in her lunch sack in the morning. Pills with water and then snuggle time for about 10 to 15 minutes. My child requires a LOT of snuggle time :)

We snuggle-she sleeps- and then we rush to get her clothes changed, her hair styled (which is a breeze thanks to the pixie cut Aunt Amy gave her!), grab glasses and lunch: out the door! We don't get up until about 7 a.m. and we leave about takes anywhere from 20-30 minutes to drive to her school which is about 10 miles down Southern Avenue.

We talk in the car about concerns or just anything that comes up, sometimes she just stares out the window and that's fine. Usually be the third or fourth week I won't be shocked if she drifts back to sleep during the ride. My lovely daughter historically does NOT do well in the morning. It's a BP thing, usually...but she's been getting to bed pretty early and I hope this alertness continues.

We have to find a student violin to rent/buy this weekend. Mandatory for Monday! All fourth graders at her school take it. She met her music teacher and likes her and that's half the battle. She also met her Games teacher and thinks she rocks! At her school kids keep the same teacher from first to eighth's a pretty cool thing because the students and teacher really bond and know each other better each year. I guess it could be bad if you didn't mesh with the instructor but Mr. Tanner is pretty awesome...he seems very much like I imagine Thoreau was.

The school expanded with a high school this year. They are up to tenth grade now and will continue to add a grade each year as the student's advance....until they have all 12. I like the campus addition and the way they have changed the parking lot and drop off/pick up procession. It can be very frustrating to sit waiting for your child in a line you can't get out of! But they have made it a bit easier this year and for that I am extremely grateful.

I see a much more mature young woman whom I watch go off each morning. She is getting to be more sure of herself each day. I credit a strong bunch of family as well as her therapy and her online community on New Moon. I am encouraged that this year will be a great year for her. PLEASE dear Gods hear my prayers!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

We introduced Kenna to Thai food today!

Den and I decided to get the rest of the school shopping done today so we got out the $2 Layered Cami secret sale coupons and headed out to Old Navy.  I had picked up my limit of Cami's day before yesterday and since Kenna wears one almost everyday, I decided it would be a good idea to pick up a few more.  $2?  Almost as cheap as used (and at Flo's:  Cheaper!)

So we made our way through the rain (YES!  Rain in Phoenix!!!!) to Arrowhead and found black, navy and more black and navy Cami's left.  Grabbed about 7 with two of us.....and headed to the clearance section.  We searched for pants (since PacSun super clearance took care of the tees/shirts previously) and we got a few pairs of jeans to try on.  The good news is that she's grown tall enough that I don't think we'll have to shorten the jeans!  And of course the jeans that fit?  Price tag said $30.  $30 at OLD NAVY, really?

Well, it's hard to find pants, especially jeans that fit her just right, so I decided if she wears them religiously, we could afford them! (You know, you take the garment price and divide it into how many times it is actually worn to come up with the "value")  Well, two things happened at check out which I found out after the fact.  The jeans rang up under $9 (they WERE in the clearance section) and she rang my $2 Cami's up at the IN STORE promo price of 2/$10, not my $2 coupon price, even though I gave her the coupon.  So, then I was bummed.  And kind of pissed because I'd have to go back to argue the price adjustment and how do I prove I had the coupon?  Ugh.  I hate this.

Oh, before we went to Old Navy, we decided to let Kenna try Satara Thai, our fav Thai place.  We got pork, ginger and mango lettuce wraps, Crystal noodles with "stuff" and some yellow curry with Chicken.  Den got Pepper Beef and we all ate.  Oh, I was so proud of Kenna!  First Greek food and now Thai!  This is the kid who wanted no experimenting away from the hamburger or chicken nuggets from menus just months ago!  Nine seems to be a terrific age for her!  We had a blast!

So we decided to hit another Old Navy on the way home and stopped in Avondale for another round of fun!  As most schools in AZ are starting this week, I was really shocked that the stores weren't busier.  We were able to run right in and paw through clearance racks.  Found another pair of jeans:  this time only $7 and change!!!  But she found two clearance (and I use the term loosely @ $17 a pop) blouses for her new jeans.  I was in a giving mood and agreed on them.  Diva is SET for school....and all told I did it for less than $200, accessories included!  Yeah, I'm good.

Kenna has had a growth-inspired summer..and not just in her height!  She has been excelling in her art classes, she's taken a "Hollywood Camp" where she did a mock interview of President Obama and did a fake commercial and decided she rather enjoys acting!  She's been doing some cool "art" on a graphic arts site and I'm amazed at the stuff she creates there and her taste in music is also changing.  It's cool.  Change and growth are good.  AND, I'd expect no less from my girl.

Friday, July 30, 2010

I'm Full of Piss and Vinager and not much else!

I seem to be waiting for something to happen.  I mean, stuff has happened.  Some MAJOR stuff....but I just don't seem to be wanting to put my thoughts together on them!  I have a partial post done that I haven't was all so scary when it happened that I just couldn't seem to put my words down correctly.  Dennis (and so that means WE) had a very big scare a while ago.  My phone rang his tune and when I picked up I thought someone was playing a joke on me....he says "this is Dennis...." and I'm like, not MY Den!  "I'm one of your husband's co-workers, one of the OTHER Dennis'.  We have Dennis here and he's not feeling well at all and we're not sure what is going on but it seems to be rather serious so we called the paramedics and they're with him now."

So then my heart was in my feet or something and I feel this DREAD.  The only thing that kept rolling through my mind was that song by Baz Lurhmann's "Ladies and Gentlemen of the Class of '99", where he says:  " The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind; the kind that blindside you at 4pm on some idle Tuesday."  Only it WAS Monday...but you get the gist!

I was blindsided.  I was thinking through in fast motion/or slow....I don't really know.  I had to get someone over to get Kenna because I wanted her with MY family.  Den's Mom just isn't good with these things and I thought it would be better all around for Kenna.  So I told them to let me know where they were taking him and I think I thanked him for calling me.  I then called my Mom and Dad and just said" Come here now and take Kenna back to your place.  They're taking Dennis to some hospital and I want her with you."  And they said:  "We are on the way." 

Then I told Kenna what little I knew.  She is NOT your average nine year old and you just can't bullshit I gave her a synopsis and she looked at me and asked if Daddy was going to be okay.  And I immediately said "of course he will be."  And she said, "I'm going with YOU." And I told her that she couldn't because they wouldn't let her in and I didn't know what was going on.  She then  held both of my arms and looked me straight in the eye and asked again." Mom, is Daddy going to be okay?"  And I looked down at her and said "I really don't know honey...but I DO know that there are lots of Spirits around him right now because they love him.  Kari and Patty (his deceased sisters) are there and so is Uncle Stevie! (My deceased brother.)  You know that whatever happens, we will be OKAY."

Then I went in the front room and told his Mom what had happened...and in front of Kenna she said:  "Oh, my GOD, first my nephew dies (we had received that news hours previously) and Now Dennis.  He can't die too!"  And I said:  " And he's NOT going to today....because he's strong and has lots of support....and there will be NO MORE talk about it."  Then I went up and took a three minute shower because I needed it.

I came back downstairs and without brushing my hair, I got into my van and started driving toward Tempe.  Den's boss had called back to tell me that they were taking him to St. Lukes and told me how to get there.  I then called Amy and said:  "Meet me at St. Lukes on Mill, they are taking Den there by ambulance."  And she said "I'll meet you there.  Do you need us to take Kenna?"  And so I told her that Mom and Dad were going to pick her up....

The outcome of this story is that Dennis was NOT having the heart attack that everyone thought he was having but rather a very, very bad kidney stone attack.  He ended up being fine.....but it scared the crap out of him, me and everyone around us.  The good news is he is fine....very shaken up and had to endure a LOT of pain, but otherwise unscathed.  It was good for it to happen in that it shook him up enough to get his "zest for life" back that he'd been rather lax on lately. 

I think it's good to remember that we all had dreams and ambitions...some we may have lost along the way, some we found out just weren't for us....but maybe a few can be polished off and if we look really hard for them, we may yet find them.  I really need to focus on what I want to be when I grow up...and it took this scare to make me see it.

So in the words of  Baz and in reference for us all to remember:

Ladies and Gentlemen of the class of ’99

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be
it. The long term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by
scientists whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable
than my own meandering experience…I will dispense this advice now.
Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth; oh nevermind; you will not
understand the power and beauty of your youth until they have faded.
But trust me, in 20 years you’ll look back at photos of yourself and
recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before
you and how fabulous you really looked….You’re not as fat as you
imagine. Don’t worry about the future; or worry, but know that worrying is as
effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing
bubblegum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that
never crossed your worried mind; the kind that blindside you at 4pm
on some idle Tuesday. Do one thing everyday that scares you. Sing Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts, don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours. Floss Don’t waste your time on jealousy; sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes
you’re behind…the race is long, and in the end, it’s only with
yourself. Remember the compliments you receive, forget the insults; if you
succeed in doing this, tell me how. Keep your old love letters, throw away your old bank statements. Stretch Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your
life…the most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they
wanted to do with their lives, some of the most interesting 40 year
olds I know still don’t. Get plenty of calcium. Be kind to your knees, you’ll miss them when they’re gone. Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t, maybe you’ll have children,maybe
you won’t, maybe you’ll divorce at 40, maybe you’ll dance the funky
chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary…what ever you do, don’t
congratulate yourself too much or berate yourself either – your
choices are half chance, so are everybody else’s. Enjoy your body,
use it every way you can…don’t be afraid of it, or what other people
think of it, it’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever
own.. Dance…even if you have nowhere to do it but in your own living room. Read the directions, even if you don’t follow them. Do NOT read beauty magazines, they will only make you feel ugly. Get to know your parents, you never know when they’ll be gone for
good. Be nice to your siblings; they are the best link to your past and the
people most likely to stick with you in the future. Understand that friends come and go,but for the precious few you
should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and
lifestyle because the older you get, the more you need the people you
knew when you were young. Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard; live
in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft. Travel. Accept certain inalienable truths, prices will rise, politicians will
philander, you too will get old, and when you do you’ll fantasize
that when you were young prices were reasonable, politicians were
noble and children respected their elders. Respect your elders. Don’t expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund,
maybe you have a wealthy spouse; but you never know when either one
might run out. Don’t mess too much with your hair, or by the time you're 40, it will
look 85. Be careful whose advice you buy, but, be patient with those who
supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia, dispensing it is a way of
fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the
ugly parts and recycling it for more than
it’s worth. But trust me on the sunscreen…

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Pictures From Vacation!

Last Day and then Home ;(

So we finally had dinner Thursday night at the Hotel's restaurant. It was pretty good....and I didn't have to go anywhere-which after sleeping most of the day was good! Den and Kenna met a nice family from Michigan so they had lots to talk about while vegging at the fire pit. We had our dinner and went back to the room where I promptly fell asleep. Apparently, my infection really took a toll on me and sleep was really, really nice!

Friday dawned and we finally got Kenna ready to check out of this hotel and go down about 40 miles to Oceanside. Sometimes waking the sleeping, dreamy child is NOT easy to do. Sometimes, you may suffer the wrath of sleeping beauty! This was most def one of THOSE days!

Finally we packed all up, and by we I mean Dennis! He is the super packer guy! All those years living out of hotels is really good for this particular thing! Thank GOD! Cause I hat to do it. I got to deal with "wrathful girl" so I think we were about even!

Beautiful drive down to Oceanside and we were very early, but the La Quinta hotel very graciously let us check in early. I told them that we would be leaving today, instead of Monday when I had originally made the reservations through and he kept asking me if I really wanted to do that. See, we got a REALLY good rate and he said that they were fully booked and if I changed my mind and wanted to stay, it'd probably be taken. I told him that while I would LOVE to stay (and probably never go back to Phoenix if truth be told), that I'd spent the previous day in the Ready Clinic and decided home was best for me.

I have to give my kudos to the La Quinta Oceanside: while there is a "gentleman's club" right next door and no is very clean, very big and the BEDS are fantastic! I'd most absolutely stay there again...and hopefully will ;) Come on, it's right next to a Military Base, so I consider the "gentleman's club" pretty much okay....I mean, don't our boys (and girls) deserve it? Oceanside is an awesome eclectic mix of funky and tacky. My kind of place!

Oh, while I slept yesteday at the hotel after arrival (still having the ear thingee kickin' my behind) Dennis took Kenna to the beach we love there in Oceanside. She found a real, non broken sand dollar (which Dennis promptly broke-luckily after the picture-but ROYALLY pissed the K off!) They had a blast and came back wet, cold and happy!

Oceanside is good also because it's just down to road from one of our Fav restaurants! So for dinner we went to Sammy's Woodfire Grill. YUM! No, this is not exclusively a food blog-but I do enjoy food! So deal!!!!

I got the Lobster bisque I'd been craving since sampling Mom's last visit and Kenna and I split a 5 Cheese gourmet pizza-only we skipped the Gorgonzola and had them put more Fontina on it. Good call over all....and the shaved Garlic rocks! No red sauce good, so good! Yes, I'm aware that this is more Italian food. Did I mention Pizza and Italian are my downfalls?

Today, we woke up kind of lazy, knowing it would be our drive home day and Den was happy to learn that THIS La Quinta served bacon, sausage and eggs with the breakfast (another plus over the La Quinta in Carlsbad!)...then we packed yet again and made our way down the block. Oh, I don't think I've mentioned yet that California seems to be filled with non-franchised mom & pop Donut shops. There's one on every corner or every shopping center. Forget Dunkin' it's totally different each mile.....but we'd been hankering for donuts...or Donatus, as we lovingly call them...and I saw a shop and said: let's get donuts! (I don't do La Quinta breakfast!) we stopped at a place called: Hill Street Donut House. It had an A on the door (California Restaurants place their restaurant inspections for all to see and A's as good as it gets!) so in we went.

They had a bunch of different donuts displayed in the case and some cool looking croissant type things. I looked at the menu and it said: croissant and then Croissant with ham and cheese. Really? They looked yummy and there used to be a french bistro in Meridian Mall, Okemos, MI that used to carry the most divine Croissant w/ham and cheese....I used to buy them all the time. Can I just say that that Ham and Cheese Filled Croissant brought back instant memories of my youth so BADLY that I went right back in and bought a second one! I ate the donut I got much later and had I eaten that one then, I'd have gone in and bought out everything!

God, I'm glad I don't live weight loss would be NO loss!

And then we drove home. Uneventful..........and we are home. No more donuts, no more excitement....except for the one piece of Four Cheese Pizza I brought back with me! Dinner!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Sick on vacation.....not fun! Not even a little bit!

I had a tingle in my ear that turned into a raging PAIN! Found a Ready-Care Clinic type place and found out I have a really bad inner ear infection. Drops and pills later....I am still not feeling great. Ugh. We shall see. So today was a bust from all sides. I finally talked Den and Kenna into going down to the hotel courtyard where they are still sitting by the awesome fire pit!

So, today is a wash but yesterday was a blast! We went to Laguna Beach and drove around looking it over. Very eclectic artist community. Not as awesome as the La Jolla, Del Mar area N. Of San Diego-but still cool. We ate @ Ruby's Diner and then went to the coolest beach! since I wasn't feeling too well, I stayed near the car but Kenna and Den went down the lingering pathway to the beach (down a very big hill!) and she played in the water and he shot a million pictures. Life was good. While I was in the car it felt as if a big truck was going over the top of the parking structure (it was kind of underground parking but there was no upper level with traffic on it) so I began to think.......hmmmm...there's no traffic up there! I wonder if that's what an earthquake feels like. It was just kind of a rolling lilt.

So when Dennis comes back to the car he asks if I felt anything. Apparently everyone coming down after they did were talking about the earthquake we just had! Being on the beach, they didn't feel it at all. We confirmed that a 5.4 quake rattled windows in L.A. but was centered near Temecula....about 40 miles away. Cool! Now I can say I've felt an earthquake. I don't think I ever need to experience one again!

I'm glad we hit the beach because today I had to take time out to go to a clinic. My little ache turned into a raging ear ache this morning so bad that I could no longer handle it.....turns out it's good I went. I was running a fever and have a very bad inner ear infection. Sadly, the female Doc I got was interesting....she first asks why, if I have insurance, I don't have a family doctor. Um, because I'm on vacation! Or I would go to my regular doctor! "Oh, you're from Arizona? How do you feel about everything going on there?" I am assuming she means politically: She's really asking me this? I told her that I'm in the minority on the issue as I feel that just being Hispanic looking isn't enough to be detained for four hours with your hands cuffed behind your back to find out: gee, you were born here in America to American Citizens!!!! Apparently, she's on the Majority side of this issue and I'm way too sick to argue with her so I just ask if we can get back to my ear issue. REALLY?

Drops and pills later I came back to the hotel and slept all day. I told the other two to go see a movie or do something and when I woke up, they were still here! I finally shooed them out: to the courtyard! I'm starting to get hungry finally. Might be time to go find them!

We haven't made it to many of the restaurants I got deals from...........but we did have some of the finest Italian food I've ever eaten! Tomorrow we drive to Oceanside and go to Kenna's favorite beach spot! Then we're going to go eat at Sammy's Woodfire Pizza. I think we'll end up going home Saturday. Den's got a presentation for the President of ASU, Michael Crow, on Monday so we want him relaxed and ready. I'm not sure if going home Saturday or Sunday would make that easier! Wink, nod, wink!

Eh, overall, it's been a very relaxing vacation, not really filled with too much excitement. Life is good though and that's what it's all about! Good food, good hotel! Happiness!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Share With Friends | Yelp

Share With Friends | Yelp

The whole day....Tuesday

Basically yesterday we slept in late and enjoyed the morning in our room. It was rather rainy and very damp and cool. We are still okay with a chilly day as we know we shall soon be baking again :(

So we got up and around to go find a place for lunch. We like Sweet Tomatoes and here they're called Souplantation..........but it's an all you can eat buffet made up of huge Salad bar, about 8 different soups, baked potato and pasta bar and the required froyo station. So we ate healthy and then went in search of Kathy. Oh, stopped in a new to us Costco (they each have unique stuff!) but only ended up with books for K and Den. Then onto the book signing.

After the book signing, we were all hungry. We decided to go to the restaurant we'd had pizza from the previous night.

see post directly above this one for yelp

What a great day!

I love Maggie & Kathy Griffin!

I was so tired last night when we finally got back that I let Kenna blog about her amazing experience and decided to wait till this morning to do mine! After all, it was her first Celebrity Meet and I wanted her to be front and center....and was she! Kathy may profess to not like kids but she was more than wonderful with the Kenna girl!

Kathy Griffin's Life on the D List is one of our "guilty pleasures" at our house. We love Kathy's wit and her ability to just not give a damn if people like her or NOT! Gee, who does that sound like???? So we were so happy to see she was going to sign books in Huntington Beach right when we planned to go to Cali! I have to give Den and Kenna kudos because we got to the bookstore and bought our books-Kenna wanted her OWN copy...and then they sat on the floor in line (we were number 55 in line THREE HOURS before Kathy was going to start signing!!!) There was no way I could get on the floor and my body has been feeling the "not my own bed blues" for a couple of days I asked the people in charge for a chair. They said that I could go sit somewhere and join my people in line near the signing I went across the store and read a book while Kenna and Den sat and waited. For the last hour they had to stand as there were so MANY people and they were sardined in so bad. I had a hard time standing the last half hour once I joined them!

The excitement level kept rising and rising and finally: there was Tom! Tom, her manager was up at the table....he looked so cute! So we knew they were close............and then we heard clapping and cameras of all types going off....there was Kathy, Maggie and Tiffany-her assistant!

They are SO tiny! And Kathy was waving her "put her hand way in the sky" wave! Then she chatted with the audience around her for a minute. She was wearing a Mumu, in honor of Maggie. (this was actually a signing for her Mom's book as well as Kathy's book) so she was focusing on her Mom. She then went on to explain that Maggie was beside herself because Maggie was told by Tiffany that Target now carries individual boxed wines! She said that they'd probably fit in her Mumu pocket! Hilarious as always.

Then they sat down and the line started moving! They were very gracious and spent time with each and every person chatting and yet it only took about 45 minutes to get up to them. I told the intro person that Kenna had her own book and I wanted a picture with Just McKenna and them (another person took your camera and did the pictures, you weren't allowed to take the personalized pic) but when they had Kenna go up the Intro person said: "These people came all the way from Phoenix to meet you and the little girl wants a picture alone with you guys!" Well, Maggie grabbed my hand and said" Oh, bless you for coming all that way. I said that Kenna just turned Nine and she was so excited to meet them and considered it her birthday present!" Kathy then asked her name and K says : Um, McKenna! and I bought my OWN book! Kathy looks at me and says: there might be some words in here that Mom won't like. I then assured Kathy that McKenna has not only heard them but most she has repeated!

All I can say is that Kathy and Maggie are much more beautiful in person than they even appear on screen and amazingly gracious and personable. They made us feel very special. It was an awesome time and we will always remember it.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Passion Fruit! Tuesday

Of course it was Passionfruit Guava juice! Of course it was! So Den and I have had breakfast....but no potatoes today. They were replaced with French Toast, which looked good but too sweet for me, so I passed. Basically ate some sausage links and was done. Except for two glasses of Passionfruit Guava juice!!!!

It's raining a bit...which was NOT in the forecast but should "burn off" according to the locals Kenna is still sleeping and we're gonna let her! Nothing worse than waking up a pre-teen! We shall plan out the day and attack it well! Later.............

Monday, July 5, 2010


So we made it down around 7:45 a.m. to see if it was worth getting up for the "included" breakfast at our, thus far, wonderful hotel. I automatically saw the large beverage bar stocked with coffees, teas, some sort of juices and cocoa. Sailed right by all of that and the pizza oven-type toaster thingee which drops your bread out after burning it (it DOES)...and ignoring completely the waffle maker. I wanted to know what the big silver cylindrical vats held. First was some cubed type potatoes which looked dry and boring, the second held both bacon which looked lovely and sausage which looked a'ite. The third held some mighty fluffy and yet boring very yellow scrambled eggs. Then there was also an area with home made looking oatmeal and many toppings, a strawberry topping for said waffles, a bowl of peaches and fresh strawberries, dry cereal and yogurt. Oh, and apples and oranges.

Then I sat my large, real square plate down at a real table and a real chair and went back for a big cup of Joe. I emptied my requisite 4 creams in my cup and poured Full on caffeine in my cup. When I got back to the table, Den was there with Kenna's waffle which he helped her make and asked her if she wanted guava or orange juice. Guava juice? Guava juice? Pretty exotic, dontcha think?

So, I had to get up and get my Guava something (there were two fruits involved in this puppy) juice. I'll try to get more tomorrow and post what the second juice was....but lemme tell ya this: It's the best damn juice I think I ever drank! It was like nectar to the Gods and I'm not joking.

The next oops I made was assuming that those cubed potatoes were dry or bland. They were so spicy and yummy-not at all bland or dry. Two helping later I was very pleased. Eggs were bleh but the potatoes, divine. The peaches and strawberries were a surprise as well. Fresh and yum. Overall a much better showing than most "breakfast included" places go. Brava, Ayres Hotel and Spa, Brava!

Now, there is supposed to be an included nightly Manager's reception and I saw none tonight but the hotel is touting this: "yea, there's no papers delivered due to the observed State Holiday" today. But tomorrow I want a generic house glass of Vino and a monotonous assortment of appies. Oh, that's right. Tomorrow we're going to Kathy Griffin and her Mom Maggie's book signing. Drats, foiled again, but by Wednesday evening I'll be searching for said drinks and appies, Ayres!

Oh, yes, the Opa! Part: McKenna loves all things Greek so we decided to search for authentic Greek food for her to try. We found a great little place and had Gyros and Hummus with Pita and assorted other Greek items. She liked it, Hey, Mikey, she'll eat anything! (that's quite an exaggeration as she's usually quite picky) but we are happy to say that McKenna had her Greek food and I had some very tasty Pita if I do say so myself!

Overall it was a day of shopping and being chilly. We played cards in the courtyard for quite a while and then sat around the fire pit to stay warm! (wasn't it some 50 degrees hotter just a bit ago? And now we're freezing!) Well, that's why we're here!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Hello Again Long Lost Friend (California!)

I am back after a few month's absence! I love this area so much that I really wish I had unlimited income so I could be here all the time. Well, so the entire family could afford to be here all the time! Except when they wanted to visit somewhere else....which I guess could happen. No, I really can't!

We are staying in a lovely, lovely place here in Mission Viejo. I will include the link to the Hotel. I shall return here again and again if it stays this nice!

They are all suite rooms with wonderful amenities. Check out the photo tour on the site. Den is sleeping and not feeling very well, but the other two of us shall venture out soon to view fireworks from the lawn of the hotel! It's a non-balmy 75 degrees high here today. Probably much cooler by now. We walked out of Chili's after our "linner" @ 3 ish and Kenna says: "It's like room temperature out here. Same as inside! I love it and I'm never gonna leave!" Considering it's a 40 degree drop from home, I agree!

Antsy girl is ready to go find some we shall leave soon to see if we can see them. It's been a few years since I've actually seen them live as I have zero desire to sweat like a piggie while viewing them!

We were going to check out Balboa tomorrow but a friend told me that there are really huge waves hitting through Tuesday so we may re-evaluate our itinerary. We are going to go buy Kathy Griffin's book and stand in line to meet her Tuesday evening in Huntington Beach! Kenna and I love to watch her show! Her Mom Maggie will be there with her book as well. What fun!

Hopefully, we'll have pictures. Well I'm gonna get the camera out and see about these fireworks. More later, friends. Good to be back on here posting!

Oh, and it wouldn't be a 4th of July tribute without mentioning my Aunt Helen. May you and Uncle Ron and Stevie, and Steve and G&G Martin and Johnnie Otto and Patty and ALL the rest of you whom I love on the other side have a rockin' day! I know that you are making everyone wait a half hour after eating to swim and there's enough food for an army! Love you all!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

How to be a Father (written from a female perspective;)

What does it take to be a father, dad, pops...daddy, whatever you choose to call yours? My daughter has always called Den Daddy or Dad. I capitalize to show the importance of the person.....he has been there to guide her, shape her, hold her, laugh and cry with her. He has sat in a hospital as she lay recovering from surgery and prayed for her as we've struggled with her issues.

I know that even if Den and I were to not make it as a couple, he would always provide for McKenna. She would be his first priority, as it should be. That thought comforts me. The knowledge that Kenna and Dad have a pretty good relationship makes me very happy. They have some things in common that Mom just doesn't get (or doesn't want to!) Phineas & Ferb. Yea, great...glad you guys enjoy it.

Dennis is her protector...the other half of the Parental Guiding Unit. She has such a bond with him that has been forged and shaped as if making a sword of strength. They will sustain this bond for life!

Dennis and I decided to change our entire lives when Kenna was three. Dennis was always on the road, traveling for work and we spent many nights saying "night night" on the phone.....way too many really. Dennis was tired of missing all the big milestones in her life, so we sat down and decided to sell everything we owned and move to Arizona to start over. Den came down first and began looking for a job which would keep him home and at home each and every night. He made sacrifices.

Dennis is a Father. Dennis is a Daddy. Dennis is there for our daughter on a continual basis. She is blessed because of this. She will probably have better relationships with men than girls from broken homes, and she will always have special times with Dad.

My niece Chelsie is graduating from ASU's Honor College this week. She will be a part of three different graduations, one for Honors, one for the entire class of ASU students and one for her college of Criminal Justice. She is also receiving a special award for those students who have had perfect gpa's for each semester they've attended. Pretty special right?

Her Mom is going to be at every graduation...and the open house. Her mom is going to be standing proud and smiling at the shining accomplishments of HER daughter. Chelsie's Father will be there as well....only it won't be her biological will be my Dad. Her Grand Father. Her Bumpa. The special man in her life.

Bumpa deserves the position. He has guided and worried over her, he's "had her back" throughout her entire existence. He has provided monetarily, spiritually and physically for her. He has always offered her advice, help and been proud of her accomplishments.

This blog is entitled How to be a Father. For some men this is an easy formula. There is one basic rule for being a Father....and that is to BE THERE FOR YOUR KIDS. Be there. Whether you have to drive across town or drive/fly across the nation. You have to BE THERE and put in the time..........or you are just a sperm donor.

The Father is the one who laughed and cried and worried and carried and sat with and read stories to and put to bed and drove home from school and taught to drive THERE. NO MATTER WHAT!

If you aren't being there for your kids, what does that say about you? Is there something more important in your life?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Voluptuous not consumable on prime time? Fox and ABC say NO!

I'm a very curvy woman. I shop at stores which cater to women with lots of curves. I eat, dammit! Okay, I'm eating less these days but even when I am the size I want to get to: I'll still be considered a Plus Sized Woman.

My husband actually told me about this story and I can't believe I hadn't heard about it yet. Apparently, ABC and Fox decided that a Lane Bryant ad was too risque for them to air. Why? You ask? Because they DARED put women in their bras and panties on the commercial. Now, doesn't this happen often with Victoria's Secret? Ah, never! Do they show lots of Little bras and teenie little panties during their annual fashion show? You betcha!

What is the difference? You tell me.....because I'm really sick of being a second class citizen. What gives anyone the right to say that the beautiful model from the Lane Bryant ad is any less of a person of beauty than the women modeling for Vicky's?

Discrimination is running rampant in many parts of the country right now based on Ethnicity but nobody ever talks about the discrimination that fat people go through every day of their lives. In fact, except for in very few places, it's quite legal to discriminate based on weight. Yup. Legal.

I will NOT fly Southwest Airlines due to their "buy two seats" mentality. Is it fair? If I buy three seats for myself, my daughter and my husband, even though we fit across the three seats well, they say my daughter is entitled to her own whole seat...and they would make both myself and my husband buy second seats. Your money may be refunded if the plane isn't full............right.

My problem with this is that it IS an unfair regulation. Does a person who is six feet, five inches and knocks the back of my seat the whole flight have to buy the seat in front of him? No. I've never heard of that happening. Does the person who talks to you annoyingly during the entire flight have to buy the seat next to them so you don't have to listen to their inane chatter? Nope. Never heard of that. Does the screaming baby get a second or third seat to accommodate all the screaming. HA! They don't usually even have to have a ticket for that child.

So, why does the fat person get the discrimination? Because our society lets them get away with it. Society allows fat people to be ridiculed by comedians, discriminated against by employers, and basically left to fend for ourselves.

I'm here, I'm fat. Get used to it!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

It's a Sunday kind of thing....

Looks like Sunday is my day to post! I'll try to get better about going so long between posts. This past week has been full of ups and downs for me. Mentally, physically and every other -ly! I went to my yearly women's physical a while ago and had what my Doc called a "funky" in office little EKG. So she made me wear a Holter monitor for 24 hrs. It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be but I guess it has kind of scared me to think there's something up with my heart. Sometimes I over think things and sometimes I just don't think about things that are really bothering me so I think I've been doing a little of both on this subject!

This same week, McKenna had her 24 hr. EEG monitor. Hers was MUCH more intrusive and bulky so we basically came home with her get up on and hung out together the whole time. She did really well and I was so proud! We rewarded ourselves (though I am trying super hard never to reward with food ;) by going to Joe's Farm Grill in Gilbert. It is a heavenly place near her Docs and has been on Diners, Drive Ins and Dives. Worth the trip to anyone near Phoenix! Their food is very organic, they have their own Agritopia Farm for all the produce and they purchase free range chicken and really awesome grass fed beef. It's still a burger joint, but with a twist!

I have fallen for their Grilled Chicken with...oh, I'm gonna go steal their description. BRB.

"Pesto Chicken Sandwich" Fresh thyme-marinated Chicken, Swiss, roasted red bell pepper, grilled mushrooms, farm-made Pecan Pesto. Now their site says Swiss...but it is actually Fontina and it is huge and heavenly! Their fries are made fresh as well. Oh, just go look at their page and then plan to visit! I may start reviewing lovely dining places around here as well!

So I've been slowly trying to eat healthier and lose some weight. I have to get better about exercise though. The Wii is good but I will be honest and say I don't get it going enough. I've got a goal and I'll let you know if I EVER make it! I count dress size instead of weight. Easier for me. I've gone down four sizes since last year. I want to lose slowly so that is good I think. I've done it just by changing eating patterns.

I will probably lose faster now that I gave up my addiction to Pepsi! Pepsi is my crack and I mean that! I was addicted to soft drinks...but I have been soda pop/carbonation free since I returned from California. Let's see...that's 42 days "sober"! I plan to stay that way.

I won't even address my philosophical opinions on the week at this point. I just got my baby back from Nana and need to snuggle.....more later. Maybe!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

So I think I know where this blog is a-goin'!

Each time a person stands for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he or she sends forth a tiny ripple of hope. And crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance. Few are willing to embrace the disapproval of their fellows, the censure of their colleagues, the wrath of their society. Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet it is the one essential vital quality for those who seek to change a world that yields most painfully to change. [Robert F. Kennedy]

Do you get this quote? Does it resonate within you? I have been struggling for the past few days with a "Friend" on facebook. She de-friended me just as I was going to do the same to her. I went to high school with her and we were never best friends then...and I am beginning to understand why. She apparently thought I was posting something directly because of something she posted (and, ironically, I didn't even know she'd posted it!)

I put a Status message up that I disagreed with a new Group which was made up of a hateful comment wishing death to President Obama. Now, with all the derogatory groups aimed at comparing our President to various animals, etc....I stayed silent. But this one really got me! I was royally PISSED OFF! In the darkest days of Bush/Cheney I never wished them dead! I'm also pretty certain that you're not supposed to make death threats against the President, so see it on FacePlace really shocked me. That FB would ALLOW this shocked me more.

Yeah, freedom of speech, bla bla bla.............whatever.

So, I've come to the conclusion that she's a very racist, unhappy person! That alone could only explain the things she posted on MY page. My brother was adopted. He was Greek and African American. I know racism as well as any white person can. I grew up with it. And you know what? I am so fortunate to have had Steve in my life to teach me some things that I needed to know. How strong that made our family! The courage my parents had to adopt a transracial child in 1970!

We didn't live in the South, but in a very small town community in Michigan. Steve WAS the minority, practically! We moved from there when he was about ten. It was time.....we moved to East Lansing and immersed ourselves in the awesomeness which was the Michigan State University area action!

While growing up, I remember a trip to Florida where we traveled through Georgia and on Easter Sunday morning, saw a Cross burning on a lawn of a small church! I remember my Dad putting Steve under a pull out bed in our motorhome and telling him to stay there until he was told to come out. I was scared....very scared because I didn't understand what was going on...I only knew that Dad was serious. The situation was serious. I feared for Stevie. He'd been my brother since he was six weeks old! I was just beginning to understand that life was different for us all.

Our journey was just beginning! I will end this post for now. I need to write about all of this in order to process it. I cannot begin to understand everyone. I do not want to understand a person who believes that I can't take a JOKE which includes being racist. I don't think I EVER want to get a joke like that. God(dess) help us all. I think we're going to need it.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Mysteries and other things

So vacation may be over, but am I ready to give up this blog? I don't think so. I've been thinking about blogging for a while now. I don't want to do just a "deals/coupons" blog, don't want to just ramble on about my life, per se, I guess I want to make a difference somehow. I've had an idea percolating for a while now and I'm just waiting for my daughter's okay to speak of it. So, stay tuned for the outcome! If Kenna ok's it, then I will set up a whole new blog. I don't want our names used and you shall see why if I do it. Mystery IS my middle name!

Friday, March 19, 2010

California is but a memory.....

Finally home and I just can't believe how tired out I am from vacation! I know that sounds really funny but it's true. The drive from Carlsbad took longer than getting to the LA area! AND I had about an hour of uphill/downhill mountainous terrain which is NOT my cup of tea. I had to read my book the whole way. I've always had an issue with depth perception. My doc said it was something to do with my eyes and my ears not communicating with my brain! But it really messes with me when it comes to heights and other stuff.

So, to continue on with yesterday's stuff.....

Den, Kenna and I exploring the city areas of Oceanside and Carlsbad looking for lunch options. We ended up eating at Island Burgers because I was craving their Chicken sandwich. Remember: still burgered out! I love the Island Burgers Chicken. I know, "but they are burgers!" But they do a Grilled Chicken sandwich sooooooooo good. Add to that it's only $7.95 for the huge Chicken sandwich, fries and a drink is a deal. Moist, yummy marinated Chicken on whole wheat with onion straws, avacado and mayo. Delish! Iced Tea and it's perfection!!!

So then we meandered down the beach and ended up curiously close to where Mom and Dad were lunching with Nikaya Kipp, who is from Nashville and a former student of Mom's, I used to babysit her and her Dad was a teacher with Mom....ya know, we know her! We found their lunching place and caught up with her.

Then we went to a store near her office (massage therapist and I wish I'd had an appointment!) which reminded me so much of the "old days" of going to wholesale shows. It was booth after booth of ridiculously overpriced stuff which was really pretty and cutesy but I know how much it wholesales for, ya know? We did get a cool present for Barb (Den's Mom). They had the cutest butterfly mobile....and she loves butterflies.

Anyway, that whole area of Solano Beach is so awesome! It's a Design area full of really expensive furniture. Loved it. Couldn't afford it but loved it! Then we all split up again and Den, Kenna and I went back for one last beach adventure. McKenna needed to get her bottle filled up with California Sand!

Later, we all went back to Sammy's Woodfire Pizza (Hey, Sammy, come to Phoenix!) I got the same Chicken, Hummus and Kalamata Olive on Lovash sandwich....why mess with Heaven! Mom and Dad got the Lobster Bisque and that's what I'm having next time. There WILL be a next time! YUM!

Got Dad's pics downloaded to my computer too so enjoy the pics as well. I loved, loved, loved this trip. It was really great to do the trip with my Mom and Dad. We are so lucky to enjoy each other so much! Kenna really needed the break, as did I! I think Den is much happier too! I didn't say Good bye so much as: TTFN California. In the words of your Governor: "I'll be back!"

Back to the Daily Grind....

I'm being hurried by the hubby. Gotta get on the road. It's about a quarter to ten and I said we'd leave at 10...and by God, we're going to! Oh, yesterday was fun. I'm not ready to leave and I'll have to wait to post my last day thoughts when I get home today. Gotta keep that time commitment and Kenna's still under the covers. Good bye California...........I hope I see you again soon.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

I've got the vacation's almost over blues......;(


I tried to add more to yesterday's post but I have to tell you that while I LOVE this hotel, blatantly advertise for La Quinta Carlsbad, CA here, their internet leaves a bit to be desired. Actually a LOT to be desired. Sometimes you can surf crazy fast and other times it's like dial up! So the area that the hotel is in has a Porsche dealership two doors down (and the cars are kept OUTSIDE!) and the homes around it are so beautiful...the hotel must have been here forever to afford such an address!

So yesterday found us back on the first beach, with the dog friendly park across the street from it. We decided this is a really terrific place for kids and pups alike! Luckily, Den and Kenna made it back across the area where the beach crew decided to bull doze the beach to get the water near the park back out into the ocean a bit....because they dozed about three times and suddenly the water rushed and about a 20 foot drop occurred within minutes. The lifeguards were very busy telling kids (and adults) to move it away from the area.

It's hard to explain but apparently they didn't want so much water in the park area. It was quite interesting to watch. It would have made it difficult for my guys to get off the beach the easy way, the other way being extremely rocky. Yikes.

So after the beach we chilled for a while and then went for a very non-Irish Olive Garden dinner! I don't care for Cabbage and Corned Beef. Who needs it? Ick. Now, onto our last day....I think we're going to go exploring around Carlsbad town. It's a fun little area. Nice little shops and tons of cafes. Or back to Sammy's. Who knows where the day will take us. Mom and Dad are lunching with one of Mom's former students (whom I used to babysit!) so it's just Me, Den and Kenna to explore.