28 February 2009

Who Cut the Cheese?

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We've all been there, either as a parent or as a kid - the forgotten school lunch/lunch money. Hell! I'm still there on occasion. But I digress.

When I was in school, if you forgot your lunch or your lunch money, you received a lunch and your parents paid for it the next day. It wasn't the end of the world, and it wasn't a lifestyle choice. If your family couldn't afford to provide lunch, they applied for free or reduced price lunches through the National School Lunch Program. Food was served on reusable plastic trays and ketchup counted as a vegetable. Those were the good old days! Now? Times they are a changing, and so are school policies.

The official lunch policy in Cam's school district is:
In an emergency only, a student who has forgotten their lunch may charge a school lunch. The child should bring the money to pay for this lunch the next school day. All monies sent to school for lunch purchases should be sent in an envelope with the student’s name and amount written on the outside. This should be given to the teacher upon arrival to school in the morning.
Seems reasonable enough. Now, we do have the option of using a debit system for lunches. I put money in Cam's account via a web site payment and he enters his PIN to purchase his lunch at school. When the balance in his lunch account gets below $10, I get a friendly email reminder and I add additional money to his account. Pretty simple.

As is so often the case these days, there are people who take advantage of the system. School districts are seeing a huge increase in delinquent school lunch accounts as well as kids showing up to school without a lunch. It got so bad in the Albuquerque Public Schools (unpaid lunch charges hovered around $55,000 in 2006. That jumped to $130,000 at the end of the 2007-08 school year. It was $140,000 through the first five months of this school year) that they implemented a Cheese Sandwich Policy.

The Cheese Sandwich Policy provides a cold cheese sandwich, fruit and milk to each and every child who comes to school without lunch/lunch money. The school district calls these "courtesy meals" - parents whose kids are served them call it punishment and complain that their children are being embarrassed and humiliated for being poor.

News flash! If you are too poor to provide $2.50 for a hot lunch, or to provide a peanut butter and jelly sandwich from home, apply for the free/reduced price lunch program! That is why it is available. Sure, a sudden loss of a job and a delay in processing the application can make things tough for a week or two, and your child may need to eat the "courtesy meal" until that can be worked out, but it's lunch, right? A fairly nutritious meal?

I see nothing wrong with this policy. It's not intended to permanently force children to eat cheese sandwiches, but rather is provided as a stop-gap measure until a free/reduced price lunch program application can be processed, or for those parental brain fart moments. What do you think?

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27 February 2009

Friday Wrap-Up

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You can thank Jay for the change to full Reader view. His little tirade public service announcement regarding blogging pet-peeves got me to quit procrastinating and figure out where that damn setting was in Blogger. You're welcome Jay! You know I'd do anything for you!

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My Positively Going? Or Going Positive? post generated quite a few blog recommendations and I wanted you all to know that I've really enjoyed exploring them . I've noticed it's quite easy to get kind of "stuck" in a circle of blogs and although the friendships developed are wonderful, I think it's good to step out of that comfort zone too.

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Cam's schedule change seems to be going better, but I'm keeping a close eye on things. Call me cynical, but I don't trust the public school system. There are times when I wish I had never done my senior thesis on Special Education in Illinois, and others where I think it was the best thing I could have done.

I did get clarification on the "supported" classroom population - according to an email from the school, "In all the classes Cam is in there are less than 30% of other students with IEPs. The exact number ranges from three other students with IEPs to six. There are no students with identified behavior disorders."

Just for the record, 30% is the State's magical number - a classroom with over 30% special education population is no longer a "supported" class, but rather a designated special education class.

There is still a bit of an anomaly though - in a school with a 25% minority population, Cam's "supported" classes have anywhere from a 40%, to a 75%, minority distribution, and are at least 60% male. I'm not screaming racism or gender bias yet, but I am looking at the possibility.

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The response to my HNT yesterday was quite surprising - it even made Vixen's Friday Favorites (quite an HNT honor). Although I thoroughly enjoy the "series" photos that many HNT-ers post, I take great pride in coming up with something new and creative each week. I really did struggle with, "Do I post this leftover photo, or do I just bow out this week?" What? My thinking is a bit black and white? You say there is room for gray in there? Well ... maybe ... *wink*

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We've got a monumental event to celebrate this weekend - Cam turns THIRTEEN on Sunday. My little Boo Bear? Thirteen? ARGGGG! How did that happen? Sure, this is a right to passage for him, but there is an even bigger issue here - having a teenager makes me ... well ... OLD! I'll have to post some embarrassing cute baby photos of him to make me feel better!

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25 February 2009

HNT - Leftovers

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Some times life gets busy. And HNT? Well, as much fun as it is - as creative as it lets me be - it requires a certain amount of privacy and time, two things that have been lacking in my life this week. Husband is no longer taking step-daughter to counseling on Tuesday nights, my usual HNT night. I've had a lot going on with Cam, both in regards to the school, and with his activities. Throw in a dose of software upgrade at work and? Well, you get the picture ... the leftover picture.

I posted an HNT back in August that was my first "real" attempt at "Sensual." I shot quite a few pics that sitting, most of which were horrible composition with too much in the background that didn't belong (read RockDog's porn snobbery tips for more on that). I did a little GIMP-ing (shhhhh! Don't tell anyone I was GIMP-ing myself again) on this one and tried to eliminate the background crap without making the background too distracting. *rolls eyes*

I suppose I could have just bowed out of HNT this week. Maybe one day I'll believe that quitting is an option *wink*




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Wednesday Weirdness

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I just couldn't get excited about TMI Tuesday yesterday - seemed my focus needed to change a bit - but Wednesday Weirdness sure looked fun today! Here we go!


1.) You're on a trip taking a tour through the jungle. You have a backpack with some food, some first aid supplies, a pocket knife, a flashlight and a couple bottles of water. Some how, you get separated from your group. By night fall you haven't found your group and haven't heard them looking for you. How long do you think you would be able to survive on your own?

You know, in addition to being a trained killer, I'm a trained survivalist too. The Army was good for me *wink* Assuming I can find a fresh water source and shelter from extreme weather (or at least supplies to build a shelter), I'm good for the long run. In fact, I might enjoy the solitude so much that I decide to stay "separated"!

2.) Do you think it's okay to lie to spare some one's feelings? Why?

GAHHH! This is such a difficult question. The problem is that is isn't clear cut. "Do I look fat in this?" can be answered in an honest, yet caring way (i.e., "You know, that blue dress is my absolute favorite. Would you wear that for me?"). I think many times people claim they are lying to spare some one's feelings when in reality, they are lying to spare there own fear of confrontation.

3.) If a talking Dana doll were made, what are THREE phrases it would say?

"Bummer"

"Is your homework done?"

"May I please have a Large Skim Latte, no foam with an extra shot?"


4.) If the super power to be able to read minds at your own will were possible, do you think it would be... cool and helpful, intrusive and wrong, manipulative or maddening? Explain why you would or wouldn't want to be able to read any one's mind at your own will.

All of the above? There are times when it would be all of those things.

Cool and helpful - Imagine knowing that someone loved/cared for you without them ever having to say a word.

Intrusive and wrong - You just learned that your significant other has been planning a surprise party for your 30th birthday which includes a trip to Napa Valley.


Manipulative and maddening - Your best friend is in an abusive relationship but isn't telling anyone.


Nope! Not interested in that superpower at all.


5.) Drunk confessions, are they the things people can't bring themselves to say sober or just crazy ramblings of an influenced and intoxicated mind?

They are fleeting thoughts, dangerously magnified by the alcohol and then verbalized, only to be forgotten - or worse yet - remembered - with the return of sobriety.

6.) What brings out the worst in you?

Honestly, I don't really have a "bad" side. I don't keep score. I don't harbor grudges. I don't yell and scream. I (usually) handle conflict and confrontation in a logical and well thought out way. In fact, people are often frustrated because it's difficult to push my buttons ... unless you are leaving anonymous or "nasty" comments on my blog *gigglesnort*

7.) Do you think long distance relationships work? Have you ever been in one before?

If we are talking about romantic relationships, yes, they can work, but I think they are very different than "traditional" relationships and require far more work. I've seen them be most successful when there is a solid, "local" relationship established before hand, and when the distance is temporary. Long distance friendships? They also take a lot of maintenance, but I think have the potential to be more successful as well.

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24 February 2009

Trapezoidal Peg, Conical Hole

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As many of you know, Cam has been struggling in school. After receiving a diagnosis of ADHD this summer, and watching his grades continue to decline, I decided it might be time to consider the evils of medication. Cam has been taking Concerta for just over two months, 27mg, and there has been little noticeable change.

I've felt extreme pressure from the school to have Cam evaluated for special education services. Now, if you're anything like me, hearing "special education" conjures up images of the slow kids riding the short bus. Unfortunately, that is no longer the case. Any time a kid pops up who is out of the "norm" - who thinks a little differently - who stands out as being not like the majority - who isn't performing up to standards - public schools must attack the child because we know public schools are infallible. Cam is a prime example of this "new" special education student.

To understand what I'm talking about, you need to have a little background. Part of Cam's ADHD evaluation (conducted by an independent pediatric psychologist) included an IQ test. Cam's full scale IQ is 131 - he's not a slow kid riding the short bus. But here is the rub ... when given the Wechsler Individual Achievement Test - Second Edition (a.k.a. WIAT-II ... the most used test in public schools for identifying learning disabilities by comparing predicted achievement to actual achievement), Cam had statistically significant (and sometimes severe discrepancies) between predicted achievement and actual achievement, BUT his actual achievement results were all within the "normal" range.

So even though his written expression score was 32 points below his predicted achievement, his score of 99 is acceptable because it's within the "normal" range. I don't know about the rest of you, but I see nothing acceptable about that at all - absolutely nothing. Not all of his scores showed that type of discrepancy, and some (mathematics calculation and mathematics reasoning) showed no discrepancy at all, yet Cam "qualified" for special education services. Of course, none of his "goals" are geared specifically towards increasing his actual achievement scores. Why? Because his achievement scores are within the "normal" range. And around and around we go ...

Today was the first day of his "modified" class schedule. The "team" (where the parent is little more than the water boy) felt Cam needed to be in "supported" classrooms. In my school district, those are the classes where there is a special ed teacher, in addition to the regular ed teacher. These classes are supposed to be a mixture of regular ed and special ed kids, but after hearing Cam's report today, I'm thinking I was misinformed.

No, I don't believe my 12-year old's perception is accurate 100% of the time, but when he tells me that in his 1st period class the aid basically did his work for him, and that his second period class is full of all of the "trouble makers" and the teacher spent more time correcting kids than teaching (and this is math - his strongest subject), my ears perk up a bit. What have I agreed to? What mess have I put Cam into? How on earth are these changes helping him perform at the level he should be performing at?

This typifies my frustration with the public school system. I cannot get Cam the resources he needs (all that I want is someone to help him out at the end of the day with organizational skills) without having him in special ed. And the definition of "least restrictive environment," at least in this district, seems to be anywhere but in the regular classroom. Something tells me this is the beginning of a very ugly battle.

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23 February 2009

Awards and Eats

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Let's start with the awards, shall we? Not that I'm anal retentive or anything, but I feel a strong nagging need desire to tackle these topics alphabetically.

This award was given to me by Another Suburban Mom. ASM said, "Always honest and thought provoking. One day her blog makes me *gigglesnort* the next day it makes me want to fly out to her neck of the woods and hug her. Never disappointing."

I have this weird little quirk where, as I read, I try to guess what the sentence will say before I finish reading it. As I was reading the last sentence of ASM's description of my blog, I just knew it was going to say, "One day her blog makes me *gigglesnort* the next day it makes me want to fly out to her neck of the woods and beat her senseless." Ha! I was wrong! Imagine that. Please note the cute puppies on this award as it's likely the only time you'll see such an "AWWWW" picture on this blog!

Then, on Sunday, ASM gave me another award. Personally, I think this was her way of cyber slapping me up along side the head while saying, "Jane, you ignorant slut Dana, my dear friend! Accept the damn awards, would you?!"

Of course, this wasn't the official verbiage of the award. The official statement read, "These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated.”

I think I just threw up a little in my mouth ... KIDDING! Actually, I am quite flattered to receive both of these awards, especially from ASM who is one of my very favorite "Not-quite-a-mommy-blogger" bloggers!

There are, of course, rules and requirements for these awards. ASM is really good at obeying following the rules, I am not, but I do want to sincerely thank her for being a regular and appreciative reader!

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You might remember a few weeks ago I mentioned winning a one-year subscription to the meal planning website Relish! I have been diligently using that subscription and absolutely *love* it! I find that, with a specific list and plan, not only do I save time and money while grocery shopping, but we have far fewer leftovers.

There has been one "down" side. My family had become so accustomed to "processed" foods (i.e. frozen and prepackaged meals) that there has been a bit of an adjustment to the flavors and combination of fresh, innovative foods. What's surprising is that the resistance has not been from husband.

An example? I made a spinach salad with an oriental flair (oranges, avocados, radishes and a sesame oil/soy sauce dressing) that Cam was not at all thrilled about - he spent 37 minutes trying to gag down get down four bites. Yes, I'm an evil mother - I made him eat the salad first. He was so traumatized that he just couldn't eat anything else after that!

I thought I'd share one of the more "traditional" meals that was on my plan this past week - Calico Bean Soup (or, if you live in Minnesota, Lutheran Bean Hot Dish) and Homemade Cornbread.


Calico Bean Soup
Prep time: 30 minutes

6 bacon slices, chopped
1 pound ground beef
1/2 yellow onion , chopped
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon dry mustard
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
1 16-ounce can Bush's baked beans
2 15-ounce cans butter beans, rinsed and drained

~ In a large stockpot, over medium heat, combine bacon, beef and onion and saute until cooked through. Add ketchup, salt, brown sugar, mustard and vinegar and mix well.
~ Add baked beans and butter beans and stir well into mixture. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes or until heated through and serve.

per serving (recipe makes 4 servings): 389 calories; 20 grams protein; 14 grams total fat; 6 grams fiber;5 grams saturated fat; 45 grams carbohydrates; 48 mgs cholesterol; 910 mgs sodium


Homemade Cornbread
Prep time: 10 minutes Cook time; 25 minutes

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1 cup plain yogurt
2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

~ In a bowl, mix flour, cornmeal, sugar, soda, and salt. Add yogurt and eggs and mix just until blended. Pour into a buttered 8-inch to 9-inch square or round pan.
~ Bake until bread springs back when gently pressed in center, 20 to 25 minutes. Cut in squares or wedges. Serve warm.

per serving: 181 calories; 6 grams protein; 3 grams total fat; 2 grams fiber; 1 gram saturated fat; 33 grams carbohydrates; 57 mgs cholesterol; 411 mgs sodium

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22 February 2009

Sunday Secret

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This past year, I've gained back 40 of the 90 pounds I lost in 2007. I am disgusted and repulsed by my lack of control and discipline - embarrassed and ashamed by my obvious and very visible failure. Yet I would never so harshly judge anyone else - not even a stranger.
*NOTE* This is not an actual picture of me, but could be!

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21 February 2009

Positively Going? Or Going Positive?

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A while back, I started realizing just how much negativity I invite into my life - from the music I listen to, to the blogs I read. Over the past few months, I've really been paying attention to my routine activities, and how I feel when I'm doing them. Chatting with the coworker who is always complaining - reading blogs that do little more than raise my blood pressure - being preoccupied with cable news networks. Of course I'm not ignoring the elephant in the living room - my marriage is frequently an offender.

I am clearly not ready to walk away from my marriage. As much as I complain, as "wrong" as things can be at times, I'm not walking away from the commitment - not yet. Accepting that has been difficult. Resolving the conflict between what I feel "entitled" to (unconditional love, respect 100% of the time, little or no daily drama, overflowing passion, etc.) and the reality of the difficulties in a long-term, committed relationship has been a challenge. I continue to ask questions of myself, and I think that is a good thing.

If I'm not willing to walk away from the marriage, what am I willing to walk away from? What other negativity can I eliminate?

I was amazed at how often I found myself irritated when listening to my favorite radio station in the car. Certain songs - certain news items - a driver who cut me off - and soon I was flipping people off, tailgating and screaming at strangers. I realized just how idiotic my behavior was. Not only did it not make anything better, it made things worse. I switched radio stations, listing to one whose motto is "positive, encouraging radio." The difference was significant and immediate. I started listening to the same radio station in the mornings, rather than getting my 90 minute dose of cable news networks.

Work is a bit of a challenge. I don't want to alienate coworkers - I need those relationships to do my job well - but I don't have to get caught up in their drama either. I began ending conversations that contained more gossip than fact - not in a rude manner, but with a simple, "I'm really busy. Let me get back to work." I've found that, without a captive audience, these coworkers don't bring their gossip and drama to me any longer. Hmmmm ...

The next thing I needed to do was look at my blog reading. This step was - by far - the most difficult. I want to support those bloggers who support me. I want to offer them the encouragement, with a comment or a link, that they often offer me. But I was starting to feel obligated - and I was starting to get snarky with my comments - neither of which indicate support. It was time to clean out my Google Reader subscriptions.

I spent this morning hitting the unsubscribe button. It sucked! You see, there are many amazingly talented bloggers/writers out there whose blogs cause me a great deal of grief. Some write about topics that I find in conflict with my moral compass, some justify actions that I believe are harmful not only to themselves, but to others, and some use a form of humor that consistently degrades others. How many times have I told commenters, "If you don't like what you see here, move on."? Yet here I was, immersing myself in environments that made me want to scratch some one's eyes out. It doesn't mean that I wish ill will on any of them - I hope their blogs are successful in whatever manner they measure success - but it does mean some of them won't be seeing me any longer. My guess is that just as quickly, I'll stop seeing them here too.

I challenge all of you to look at the negativity you invite into your own lives. How do you think your life might change if you eliminated even a fraction of it? I can tell you this, my marriage is still no where near perfect, but I've seen improvement since I started eliminating negativity in other areas of my life.

*EDIT* Got a favorite blog that you think I might enjoy? Something "wholesome" yet content filled? Something funny that doesn't count on humiliating others to get a laugh? Should I be reading your blog but have missed it? Leave me a link - I need to populate my Google Reader subscriptions again!

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20 February 2009

Friday Wrap-Up

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Have you seen all the hubbub about this New York Post editorial cartoon?


Seems my favorite pain in the ass civil rights activist, Al Sharpton, has decided that, at least for the next 4 years, no one shall mention anything remotely associated with President Obama, and any member of the Pan Troglodyte family within the same breath without being deemed a racist. Of course, this cartoon has nothing to do with the two most publicized news events of last week (the stimulus plan and Travis the chimp), but rather is likening President Obama to a monkey. Why have the rules changed? I think that's called hypocrisy! *rolls eyes*

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Jay left a comment on my TMI Tuesday post regarding the high administrative fees associated with the United Way, and I felt it was important to point out that the United Way has extremely low administrative fees (less that 7.5% of their budget – a SUPERIOR rating according to Charity Navigator). If you are ever curious as to how your donation is spent by any charitable organization, this is a great resource!

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Saturday, Cam will be helping out at the “Primetimers” (those in their 60's and beyond) event at the church. The Primetimers are having a Wii bowling tournament and apparently they needed some middle school students to help teach them how to use the Wii gaming system. Cam (and a friend) volunteered, so they’ll spend their afternoon hanging out with the sexagenarians. He makes me so damn proud at times - then he does something completely stupid and I wonder how the same child can be so sweet one moment and so clueless the next. Oh … yeah … we call those teenagers, don’t we?

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I just love Chicago - so many idiots to blog about! The city has installed red light cameras that click a photo of cars running red lights, then generates a ticket (Big Brother anyone?). As if that's not enough, one of the City Alderman has introduced an ordinance that would require countdown signals at intersections with cameras, similar to those on walk lights which tell pedestrians how much time they have to cross a street. Um ... hello? Isn't that what the YELLOW LIGHT is?? A warning that the signal will soon turn red? Goodness ...

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18 February 2009

HNT - Lilies

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They were beautiful - a lovely and appreciated surprise from husband, delivered to my office the day before Valentine's Day. There are good times. Times when I feel special - times when I feel loved - times when I know that he wonders what it is I could possibly want when he provides so much, materially, for this family. I want what seems impossible for him to give.

Is it bad that my first thought when I saw them was, "Now those would be great HNT props!"?



*CLICK* for a bit of creativity


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Blended Families in the Blender

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As many of you know, I have quite the blended family - Cam is my biological son from a previous relationship, D (14) is husband's biological daughter with his ex-wife (who we'll call XW), and T (21) is husband's legally adopted son (XW's biological son from a previous relationship). A flow chart might be helpful, don't you think? This weekend was typical of the blended family struggles, and amazingly, neither Cam nor I were factors in it!

D has been struggling in school this year. As is the case for most (all?) 14 year old girls, she is a mess. Her social life has taken priority over everything else. Most recently, she took XW's 35mm camera to school to use in her photography class and lost it. She has no clue where she last saw it, nor does she seem to feel any urgency to find it. Her response? "Just chill. Give it a few days and it will turn up."

This happened on Thursday. XW decides punishment is in order and grounds her to her room for a week. The problem? This punishment falls over our visitation weekend. XW demands that D be confined to her room here - that we enforce XW's punishment. Hmmmm ... maybe a bit of communication with husband, prior to making this demand, would have been a better option? I don't know, maybe even swapping weekends so that XW could enforce her punishment in her home. Oh, but that wouldn't work - it was Valentine's weekend and she had plans to go out of town. What? Cancel her plans to make D a priority? So we have D all weekend but see her only for meals. Husband, in his true form, refuses to speak to D for 48 hours (Remember, he does the withholding of "love" thing as punishment).

D's only reprieve was church Saturday night. She was given the option of going with Cam and I and decided to go. Initially it was presented as a punishment ("She'll go to church whether she wants to or not") but I explained that church should be an option for her, not something presented as "punishment" - I won! Sorry ... got a bit off track there ...

The car seems to be a wonderful place to talk to teens. I have control of the radio and they can't get out. It's one of my favorite times to talk with Cam, so I thought I'd give it a shot with D as well. During the conversation she says, "When T had his accident ..." WHOA! Stop - hit rewind! What accident?? She tells me that on a recent road trip to Colorado over winter break, the car T was in hit a patch of ice, lost control, rolled over twice and landed in a gully. The car was totaled, but none of the 5 young men had any injuries other than a few bumps and bruises.

This trip was a month ago, and I distinctly remember the voice mail message from T that said, "Just thought I'd let you guys know that I made it home safely." I don't remember hearing the part after the roll-over accident. I now have to decide if I tell husband in hopes that he just forgot to tell me about it, or if I risk that he hasn't heard about this and he loses his mind when I tell him (he often shoots the messenger). I take a risk - he didn't know - SHIT!

He calls T and starts gnawing on him - Why didn't you tell me? Didn't you think it was important? Am I not worthy of knowing? Then hangs up on him and refuses to answer when T calls back.

Then it's XW's turn. He calls her - gets voice mail. Leaves a message similar to the conversation he's just had with T. Needless to say, she doesn't call back. Ah the drama! I felt like I was in middle school!

Tell me what you think. Should husband have been expected to carry out XW's punishment, or were there better options? Does T (an adult) have a "duty" to share details of his accident with husband?

It's no wonder 75% of second marriages end in divorce ...

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17 February 2009

TMI Tuesday #174

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TMI Tuesday

1. What is your favorite charity? Do you you give your time or just money to that charity?

As I wrote last week, Cam and I have been donating our time. It was a bit of a New Year's resolution for us. Our recent focus has been on the food distribution center for our area. We live in a farming community - a community that is often hit hard even when the economy is good - and doing our part, is something that has become important to Cam and me.

I also participate in the United Way payroll deduction program at work, with my contribution going to the local United Way Agency.

2. Describe your bed. What side do you sleep on?

King size with a memory foam topper - no headboard. My side of the bed has extra blankets on it (the weight comforts me). I sleep on the side furthest away from the door. I was brought up in a bit of a chivalrous era where the man slept closest to the door to ward off any intruder that might threaten the family, and that silliness has stayed with me throughout the years.

3. How important is a partner's kissing ability?

What's more important than kissing ability is the desire to please the person being kissed. There is always opportunity to improve the skill of kissing, but that desire to be selfless? To listen to and respond to the needs (in this case, the kissing needs) of others? Far more difficult to learn.

4. Have you ever "taken advantage" of a person under the influence of alcohol? Have you ever been "taken advantage" of while under the influence of alcohol?

If I don't remember, it never happened, right?

5. Ever tried to replay the famous scene from From Here to Eternity? How was it?

Never tried it, and all that I could think of while watching it was, "Damn! That sand is going to cause some chafing!

Bonus (as in optional): What kind of birth control do you use?

I'm past the point of wanting birth control - I needed birth prevention. As husband decided that an outpatient process with minimal evasiveness might threaten his manhood, I went under general anesthesia and has the fallopian tubes lasered away.

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16 February 2009

You're Hovering

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Last week I wrote a post on creative punishments - in short, praising parents who resort to public humiliation of their children in an attempt to get them in line. No, I don't think this is a form of punishment that should be used regularly, but I see no issue with it being used sparingly and as a consequence to the equally severe actions of kids.

There were a handful of nay-sayers to my post, and I'm not surprised. Being PTO president, I am exposed to a number of parents who would never dream of making their kids an example. Actually, they wouldn't have the time to make an example of their children because they spend all of their waking hours making excuses for them, "fighting" their battles for them and yes, even doing their homework for them.

It starts in elementary school, but becomes problematic in middle school - when kids should be learning how to make decisions rather than having them made for them. When learning that there is accountability for poor choices is critical.

Hello? You're hovering. You realize that, right? No ... you probably don't. The media, pediatricians, psychologists and even the college deans call it call it helicopter parenting. I call it raising a generation of kids who have never been given the critical life skills of decision making and problem solving.

Seriously people, you are obsessed with your children. You treat them like little princes and princesses - they are No. 1, MVPs, gifted - and a pain in my ass. You've diligently planned their lives from Baby Einstein videos and their first play date, to their first day of college. You shuttle them from soccer practice, to piano lessons, to karate, and, because they will attend only the best college and must have high SAT scores, to Language Stars Classes before they've mastered English.

You artificially inflate their egos. You give them graduation ceremonies from preschool. You give them a trophy at the end of the season even when they lose. You petition your school to stop correcting papers in red ink because it's makes your kid uncomfortable and hurts their feelings.

They "own" the latest and greatest gaming platforms, have laptops and televisions in their bedrooms and have never had to do a single chore. They have MySpace pages and unlimited texting packages on their cell phones - all before they hit double digit birthdays.

Your kids are not leaded crystal, but if you aren't careful, they may very well shatter. You are coddling and protecting your children to a degree that threatens their ability to, later in life, make good decisions on their own. They do not know how to advocate for themselves because they don't have to. Not only that, but they are learning that they can screw up - royally - and someone will bail them out. There are no consequences for their actions.

Sure, you are trying to create really great kids, but instead you are creating the perception of really great kid kids - they look good from the outside, but when left to fend for themselves, are complete failures.

A few words of wisdom? You aren't supposed to be your kids' best friend, you are supposed to be their parent. If you've never heard, "I hate you!" you are most definitely doing something wrong.

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15 February 2009

Sunday Secret

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My greatest fear? Making a wrong decision. In fact, it is a fear so overwhelming it often times immobilizes my ability to think logically and I tread water for years rather than risk moving forward.

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13 February 2009

Friday Wrap-Up

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GAH! It's been a busy, busy week and it's not over yet. The good news? I'm finally out of 2008. Yes, it's mid February, but in the land of accounting, it often takes weeks to close out the previous month, the previous year? Months, especially when you have three branches to get through. But me? I did it in five weeks - without shredding any critical documents! Yeah ... I'm the shit ... Come on! Flipping the switch to 2009 was a momentous occasion. I said momentous occasion, didn't I? What can I say? I do love numbers ... when they balance!

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A few of you showed interest in seeing the actual shadow versions of HNT (rather than the silhouette versions). Well, here they are! I'm not sure that I like one any better than the other - they are just very different concepts. WooHoo! Bonus HNT!

Yes! It's even a clicker!

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Cam and I have a busy weekend ahead. He has a Valentine's dance to attend tonight. I threatened offered to chaperon, but for some silly reason Cam wasn't very excited about that!

Saturday morning, Cam and I will be volunteering our time in the community. Monthly, our church organizes a day of serving. There are usually 5-8 different places to serve - last month Cam and I spent 4 hours at the food bank distribution center, sorting frozen meat by type and weight, then repackaging it into 20 lb boxes for distribution to the local food pantries. It's a wonderful opportunity for us to give back to the community and opens a great line of communication between Cam and I - giving him more appreciation for what he does have, and a greater understanding of the needs of others. Not sure if we'll go back to the distribution center this month, or if we'll try something else. It will definitely be a loving way to spend our Valentine's Day!

Sunday, my "little boy" starts Speed and Conditioning Camp for football. I don't think I've mentioned that my now 6'-1", 220 lb, 12 year old (He'll be 13 in 2 weeks) has not been able to play football. Why you ask? Well, he's TOO BIG! Ummm ... yeah ... too big for football. He might hurt the other kids his age. *rolls eyes* Anyway, he's grown about 5 inches, and lost about 20 lbs since last year (he'll make weight limits ... just barely), so he can actually play this year. He'll be a double-striper (determined by weight) which means he can play only center or offensive guard, but he can play - and he's excited!

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11 February 2009

HNT - Shadow Puppets

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I confess ... I stole was inspired by this idea. Last week, someone (and I'll be damned if I can remember who) did a shadow HNT. It was a wonderful shot of her head - her hair flowing - playing in the shadows (If you are reading this, please let me know it was you and I'll give proper linkage!). It made me think of playing with shadows as a child - knowing that when I had no control over the "monsters" I heard in the night, I did have control over the "monsters" that projected on my walls.

*EDIT* WooHoo! Thank you to all who left suggestions as to who I thieved from last week. It was Jennybean that was the inspiration, but Elle did a wonderful shadowy HNT as well.

Now? I am still fascinated by the natural distortion of light playing with shadows, and I still remember how to make that little dog shadow!

... and how to make grown-up shadows too! *CLICK*


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Shame On You!

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We've managed to raise a generation of kids with significant entitlement issues. Kids (and adults) who think television, gaming systems and cell phones are constitutional rights. This shouldn't come as a surprise to any of us. We've morphed into a society where anonymity is as simple as setting up a bogus MySpace page, where making a fool of yourself gains instant celebrity status on YouTube and American Idol, and where spanking a child in public can elicit numerous phone calls to Child Protective Services. Yet there is one form of punishment that creative parents are exploring again - public humiliation.

If you read my recent Sunday Secret regarding internet usage in a public venue, you know that I experienced a bit of that type of discipline myself recently. Embarrassment is an amazing motivator. This kid here? According to the Arizona Reporter, young Jerry had several problems with lying, stealing and fighting at school. His parents have him seeing a counselor privately, and at school, and he has participated in an intensive behavior modification program through the local hospital. Unfortunately, they were not seeing results, so when young Jerry found himself in a pickle at school again - with stolen property - his parents decided to approach things a bit differently.

Just this past December, Dennis Baltimore, Jr., 16, walked the streets of Long Beach and Signal Hill for five hours wearing a sign that read: "I have wasted your tax money with dumb acts of vandalism in the public schools."

Seems Jr.'s father (Sr.)received a phone call from his son's school telling him about Jr.'s artistic abilities - the ones he spray painted on school property. The damages would cost Sr. $875. In addition to Jr. being suspended for four days, and ordered by the school to spend several days of his holiday vacation doing community service on campus, Sr. thought a little public shame would be in order.

And just this week? Trenton O'Neal found himself standing on a very public road in Chesapeake, Virginia, a large sign touting his bad grades dangling from his neck. Trenton's response? "It sucks. I don't want to be out here again. I know that much."

Apparently Trenton hadn't been showing much effort in his freshman year of high school. He suffered from the do-your-homework-and-never-turn-it-in bug (some of you know that ailment well). His parents decided yelling, screaming and grounding weren't working, but maybe a healthy dose of public humiliation might.

There are those who stand firm in the fragile egos of children camp - the ones who would dial 9-1-1 and report this "abuse." My guess is, they are the ones raising those entitled kids - the kids who will be living in mom and dad's basement when they are 32, spending their waking hours going up a level (*EDIT* leveling up - thank you Turnbaby) in World of Warcraft.

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Brought to you by the letter "J" - A special thanks for the meme intervention.


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10 February 2009

TMI Tuesday #173

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Welcome to Dana's blog of memes *rolls eyes* Yeah ... I know ... I've been a little lame as of late. I blame it on playing with Biscuit (but it was so much fun)! I'm kidding ... it's Vinny's fault! The good news is there has been a meme intervention. Jay was so worried about my lack of content that he bombarded me with blogworthy news bits in hopes he's be able to pull me from the depths of meme hell, but I needed just one more fix. So dear readers, I bring you ...

TMI Tuesday

1. What do you think is the un-sexiest part of the body?

An enlarged ego. Bigotry. Selfishness. What? You thought I'd say knees, or feet, or armpits? Nah ... every physical aspect has the potential to be sexy, it's the heart and mind that can be the most unattractive.

2. Toilet paper: over, under, or what the hell are you talking about?

Under generally - the kitten has a more difficult time unrolling -and subsequently eating - the toilet paper that is under. When company comes, over - it looks more appealing. SHUUUSH! Yes, I do know how anal it is to change over my toilet paper for guests. But it's not like I have any other quirks.

3. Have you ever called in sick to stay in bed with a sexual partner?

You mean have I ever had some sort of 24 hours flu bug at the same time as my significant other that miraculously cleared up within minutes of calling in sick? Maybe ...

4. Did your parents have a "birds & bees" talk with you? Id so, at what age?

My parents never did the official "birds & bees" talk, but if you read yesterday's meme, you'll know that I did quite a bit of independent study. What's funny is that I knew far more about the mechanics of the actual sex act (although I honestly thought I had "broken" something the first time I had an orgasm) but knew very little about foreplay. First orgasm at 10 - first french kiss at 15 - and the french kiss was scarier!

5. What is one thing a someone could do to you to rock your world?

Love me unconditionally. Help me overcome my fear that the minute someone says they love me, they are really on their way out the door.

Bonus (as in optional):What does sex mean to you?

Ahhh ... sex ...

It has meant so many things at so many different times. Currently, I battle primarily with two meanings. One, purely physical - exertion until I am spent - basking in the pure pleasure of the orgasmic release. The other? A little more complex (and currently missing) - sharing a level of closeness beyond words.

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09 February 2009

Naughty Meme of Firsts

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That darn Biscuit! She knows I don't play well with others, but she tags me for a meme anyway. Pfftt! It's a good thing I lust adore her! Of course there are rules, rules that I'll follow just enough to keep myself out of trouble!

This is Isabella's Naughty Meme of Firsts:
1. Please post these rules at the beginning of your meme.
2. Please include a link to Sex Talk For Men.
3. Please include as many sordid details in your answers as possible -- if you haven't got any, make them up!
4. Tag 3 people. Tagging, schmagging ... I.DO.NOT.TAG! If you are so inclined and lacking inspiration, pick these up and tag yourself. All those rumors you've heard about growing hair on your palm if you tag yourself too much? Not true - I have proof *wink*

1. First French kiss? Those of you who have been reading me for a while might remember that I was 15 before I got my first kiss! Fortunately, kisser #1 (Scott, the trombone player) also gave me my first French kiss. Well, maybe it wasn't so fortunate. I had no idea what he was doing and opened my eyes wide in astonishment. I had heard of French kissing - had no clue what it was. Fortunately, I figured out that when done well, it was actually really, REALLY nice!

2. First boyfriend/girlfriend. We have to go back to Scott again, but I'm not really sure he would be considered a boyfriend. You see, he lived 100 miles away and I saw him only once every 3 or 4 months when my family went to visit my aunt and uncle. Really, no one was interested in the 6' tall, 300 lb girl (I know - hard to believe). I didn't have a "real" boyfriend (someone that would see me during the daylight hours and even if we didn't have sex) until I was 21 ... and he was a raging alcoholic with custody of his 5 year old daughter. Although I don't think about him often, I do wonder what ever happened to that wonderful little girl.

3. First type. Read the answer to #2 and you'll discover that my type was breathing and willing to date me in public - even if he was drunk. Unfortunately, my early experiences reinforced the idea that I wasn't worthy of a long-term, healthy and loving relationship - I still, 25 years later, struggle with that. I really don't have a type physically. Qualities that are important to me are those that lie within the heart and mind.

4. First time you had sex. 16, in a motel room with two other couples, on the floor between the two beds. Yes, I'm serious. Worse yet? Sailors we picked up in Bremerton and who we never saw again after that weekend. I couldn't even tell you the guy's name, although I do remember his last name started with a "Q" - it was stenciled on the back pocket of his dungarees.

5. First celebrity crush. I'm a little strange. I've never done celebrity crushes. Not even when I was a teenager. I always thought the idea of being with someone famous was a silly, illogical idea. Why would they even consider being with me? And what's the use of having a crush on someone that you'd never have the chance to meet?

6. First sexual fantasy. Really? Like first fantasy that I masturbated too? ACK! This is a little embarrassing, but remember that Sunday Secret? The one about my mom's vibrator? Well, the book I found with the vibrator? It was filled with photos of lesbian sex, and those were my first fantasies. Odd ... I still have those!

7. First person you fell in love with. Hmmmm ... I would have to go with Alan (husband #2). And in all honesty, I believe the reason he was the first person I fell in love with was that he was the first person who really fell in love with me. This is likely why his suicide made such a huge impact on my life.

8. First proper sex toy. Good old mom's vibrator! But after that, it was a long time before I had another. How embarrassing - to walk into an adult toy store and buy one? Now? No shame. In fact, I rather enjoy going to the adult toy store and watching all of those who really are embarrassed to be there!

9. First porn video. Sometimes I feel so damn old when I do these memes. Porn was DIFFICULT to get a hold of back in the day. The first porn video I ever saw was homemade and used one of the gigantic VHS recorders. Just so happens it was made by the two people I was laying nekkid in bed with at the time!

You young-uns have no appreciation for how difficult it was to get good porn, or even good nekkid pictures. You used to have pictures developed (your only option) and knew better than to submit a roll of film with those kinds of pictures on it - they wouldn't be returned. Thank goodness Polaroids finally came out!

10. First sexy lingerie item/sexy briefs owned.
Again, remember that they didn't used to make sexy lingerie for those over size 12. I don't think I even owned anything remotely sexy until the first time I lost a significant amount of weight - I was 22? And it wasn't anything more than a silky gown. I was well into my 30's before I bought any kind of teddy!

11. First time giving oral. Refer back to #4. It happened the first time I ever had sex. What's even funnier? *warning* This might be TMI on Monday! I had no idea that swallowing was optional and got quite an ego stroke when Mr. "Q" told me what a wonderful job (pun intended) I had done. My guess is the women he had been with previously knew swallowing was an option.

12. First time getting oral. I was 25! Yep! And I remember it vividly. Why? Well, it was done by a man 20 years my senior - a man who knew what he was doing - and who spoiled it for many of those who attempted it later!

13. First one night stand. Again, refer to #4 ... although technically it was a 2-night stand. Unfortunately, I've had far too many one-night stands - especially in my younger days. I just knew if I had sex with a guy on the first date I'd find myself a boyfriend. Now I realize just how flawed that logic was, but I was desperate for love back then and often got sex and love confused.

14. First dirty book/dirty mag read. The very first was the "How to Make Love to a Woman" book I found on the top shelf of my mother's closet - the one right next to her vibrator. The second? I was ... hmmm ... maybe 12? House-sitting for our neighbors across the street. Of course, I needed to snoop in their bedroom and found several magazines on swinging in their naughty drawer in their bedroom. Talk about an early introduction into the many facets of sex!

So, there you go! Probably far more than you wanted to know about my sexual history, but it might just give you a little insight - albeit a bit pitiful - as to how I acquired many of my current flaws.

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07 February 2009

Sunday Secret

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I have no doubt that some people who read my blog prefer to believe the worst in me - when they stand from a position of judgment, or condemnation, it is far easier to deny that anything I might say or do could possibly touch their own lives. As hard as it is to hear their words, I am grateful for them - they are the readers/commentors who teach me empathy and compassion.

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06 February 2009

Friday Wrap-Up

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I read a variety of blogs - some of them might just surprise you! I actually enjoy one called Steals & Deals. It's written by Mandy and Abby and is a bargain shopper's dream! There are several posts daily (just a *warning*, many are geared towards kids), but with all of us paying a little more attention to our finances, blogs like these can be invaluable! Mandy and Abby also post many giveaways. Now, I'm not a greedy blogger - I don't submit my name for anything and everything - but when something catches my eye I always try my luck. My luck paid off this week!


There was a giveaway this week for a one-year subscription to Relish! - a weekly menu planning service - and I won! My first week of meals (you choose five from a list of 15) included:
  • Sour Cream and Bacon Chicken, Spinach Salad with Chopped Apples
  • Spaghetti Pie, Romaine With Creamy Garlic Dressing
  • Pork and Onions with Orange Glaze, Roasted Cauliflower with Paprika
  • Grilled Sausages in Pitas, Skillet Corn
  • Pistachio-Stuffed Chicken Breasts, New Potatoes in Lemon Parsley Sauce

*EDIT* For those of you who prefer vegetarian meals, they always have at least 5 of those and they offer "kid friendly" options as well!

Not only does
Relish! print out the recipes, but it gives you a shopping list (arranged by aisles). This should really help out in my menu planning. If you want to give it a shot, a subscription is only $7/month. I'll let y'all know how it works out.

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One of these days I’ll actually heed the advice of one of my favorite blogger friends (I hope his ears are burning) who has told me - more than once - that I might want to rethink my position on being so open with information regarding my marriage. I struggle with what is the “right” thing for me to do (because this blog is all about me, not “we”). Do I continue to give honest updates in an attempt to make my reality concrete through words, at the same time letting others know they aren’t alone in their struggles with similar circumstances (my primary motivators for continuing to put myself out there, contrary to those who have suggested my motivators might be nothing more than a desire for a grandiose pity party) or do I take the “safe” path and wait until I can report absolute, measurable progress to avoid looking like the self-absorbed, wishy-washy idiot that I can sometimes be?

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Wednesday’s post on friendship gave me just as much insight in to those of you who left comments as it did in to my own friendship struggles. I am so fortunate to have readers who comment frequently and feel they can be (mostly) honest with what they say. What I saw in your comments Wednesday was that friendships – like any other relationship – are based not on the needs of others, but on our own needs. Each of us has a different criterion for what constitutes a good friend, and we (hopefully) seek out those types of people for friendship. Respect for differing opinions and tolerance of what we see as undesirable traits are not the cornerstones of friendship – honesty, making a connection, “getting” the other person and showing compassion and empathy, even when friends make decisions you disagree with are far better measures of friendships. Guess what? I have far more friends than I gave myself credit for! And y’all make me smile every day!

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For the record, yesterday’s HNT was not a political statement, although I kind of wish I had noticed where I was on the globe and made it one *wink* It’s interesting to see who stops by on Thursdays, leaving a comment, when I’m not flashing tits and ass taking HNT back to a time when it was less of a sex/infidelity blogger playground (not that I don’t enjoy oogling viewing those HNTs) and more of a place for thoughtful interpretation of feelings and emotions through photography. I certainly get far more “Happy HNT” comments! Honestly? The “retro” HNT’s are far more difficult for me to compose than the literally half-nekkid shots are. I like the challenge and will continue to do them the first Thursday of each month. Is there anyone else out there looking for an HNT challenge that wants to join me? Hubman actually went there yesterday – Moose has been a mentor for me – and the father of HNT (not to worry, I have paternity results that prove – to 99.87% certainty - that he is, indeed, the father) does it every week!

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04 February 2009

HNT - Geology

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“GEOLOGY, n. The science of the earth's crust --to which, doubtless, will be added that of its interior whenever a man shall come up garrulous out of a well. The geological formations of the globe already noted are catalogued thus: The Primary, or lower one, consists of rocks, bones or mired mules, gas-pipes, miners' tools, antique statues minus the nose, Spanish doubloons and ancestors. The Secondary is largely made up of red worms and moles. The Tertiary comprises railway tracks, patent pavements, grass, snakes, mouldy boots, beer bottles, tomato cans, intoxicated citizens, garbage, anarchists, snap-dogs and fools.”

~ Ambrose Bierce


It's a retro HNT - *click* will only get you a bigger globe!


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Friendship Failure

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I am not too proud to admit that there are many things I am just not successful at. Usually, these are things that aren't life altering, but there is one glaring exception - relationships - specifically friendships.

I have some personality flaws traits that certainly contribute to my difficulty in making friends. For example, I am very much an introvert. Crowds (defined and any gathering larger than four) emotionally and physically drain me. Make those people strangers and my anxiety level jumps at least tenfold. In fact, it's not unusual for me to "disappear" into a quiet room during such a gathering. I am literally overwhelmed by all of the activity and must acquire some alone time to manage my sanity.

As you can imagine, this type of behavior does not lend itself to meeting new people and fostering new friendships. My anxiety is often misread as aloofness, indifference (there's that word again) and conceit. Add to that my physical stature - which I've been told is intimidating - and I'm not a very appealing party guest. I don't know if I suffer from shyness or some other mental defect but I know the ability to make that initial contact that can lead to friendship has always eluded me.

Fortunately, I've met a handful of great people that have been brave enough to initiate contact. It is difficult for me to reach out to people (although, in my life, email and blogging have somewhat eased that difficulty) - far more difficult than it is for me to isolate myself. But the challenge doesn't end there. Once that initial contact is made, there is that whole maintenance factor.

I often read blog content that references long-term friendships - people who have known each other from elementary or high school - friendships that have overcome distance and time constraints. I don't have those. Not a single one. And it bothers me. A lot.

Not only do I struggle with initiating friendships, but I seem to be a complete failure at nurturing friendships. My best guess is that my apparent lack of attention is the culprit. The problem? It isn't that I don't want to stay in contact with people, it's that I can't imagine they want to hear from me. As I shared earlier this week, my personal life is somewhat of a mess. It becomes clear - even in comments - that many are frustrated with my inaction. My brain translates that to mean they really don't want to be bothered with my troubles - they have their own - shouldering mine as well is just not something anyone wants to be bothered with. I understand that.

It has been that way as long as I can remember. I've had one of those lives where some major drama (often times self-inflicted) has been the cornerstone of my being. I've identified myself with whatever that drama was. When I was young, it was an abusive, alcoholic father. As I got older, something else replaced that - obesity, drug addiction, single parenthood, mental health issues - there is always something standing in the way of me devoting my attention to fostering friendships. I became the child of the alcoholic, the fat one, the single parent. In my mind, I become the drama de jure. I don't necessarily believe others define me that way, but I definitely do.

So how does one get out of that mindset? Where do I start? What does it take to start believing that maybe my friendship has value? That my circumstances don't define me as undesirable? And please, don't read this as pitiful me begging for compliments. What I really want to hear is what it takes to be a friend and keep the friendship strong - the Cliff Notes of Friendship for Dummies. Thoughts?

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03 February 2009

TMI Tuesday #172

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1. When you sleep with someone, how much or how little contact do you like to have?

GAH! I'm not even sure how to answer this question. It's been ... 13 years (?) since I slept with anyone who cuddled - who touched. I know that I long for touch. A hug when I've had a bad day - someone to hold hands with while watching a movie - a hand at the small of my back giving me reassurance - and an arm to hold on to when I am awoken by a bad dream. I do wonder though, if after all these years, I haven't over-romanticized what has been missing.

2. What do you think there is a appropriate amount of time for a divorce parent to date before introducing the kids to the "new" "special" person in their life?

Another difficult question, and one that I'm certain I handled wrong. Although in my case it wasn't divorce (I was never in a committed relationship with Cam's father), but I introduced Cam to a few people that I dated that he should have never met. I struggled with what I thought I deserved (to be able to date) and being the sole caretaker for Cam. There wasn't any family to watch him and I didn't know how to find a "trusted" sitter in a place where I didn't know anyone. I chose my own desires and tried to lessen the impact on Cam.

I didn't answer the question, did I? I think it really depends on the age, maturity and awareness of the kids. This is a decision that really should be driven by the needs of the children - not the desires of the adult.

3. Which ONE do you wish you had more of in bed... romance, experimentation or foreplay?

If those were my only choices? Romance. If I could add one of my own? Intimacy.

4. What do you think makes a kiss great?

Ahhh ... so many things ...

The moment, the passion, the desire, the circumstances ...

5. Describe your sex life in two words.

Self inflicted

Bonus (as in optional): Do you remember a time when you were having sex that you smile or even laugh about now? Do tell....

Hmmm ... I think there were probably too many times to count. Sex can be pretty darn funny sometimes, especially when one has had too many shots of tequila is trying to be creative. Then there are the noises *grin*


TMI Tuesday

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02 February 2009

Indifference

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Indifference. Webster's defines it as "The quality or state of being indifferent, or not making a difference; want of sufficient importance to constitute a difference; absence of weight; insignificance." It's not a bad thing if it's what one feels when choosing between Burger King and McDonald's, but when it creeps into a marriage, it's disturbing.

I haven't given any updates on husband and me for quite some time. There are several reasons for this, the primary one being there really hasn't been much change. It's been a year since the physical abuse that led to family counseling, and 8 months since husband last acted out toward Cam or me physically. This should be good news, right?

Well, in a sense it is, but what I've learned is that the fear that it will happen again does not diminish. Husband's rage is so unpredictable - so intense - that when something sets him off, I find myself immediately switching to survival mode. There is a moment of fear, but that is quickly replace by action - keep mouth shut - remove Cam and myself from the immediate area - do not attempt to discuss the situation - ever. Now understand, this is not something that happens frequently, maybe once or twice every two months, but the "threat" of it happening is heavy in this house.

The emotional and verbal abuse? They've not left. In fact, I would say that as the physical acting out has decreased, the emotional and verbal abuse have increased. I've learned how to take the brunt of this away from Cam, but even though it's not directed towards him, it impacts him. It sets a terrible example of how people should treat each other.

What does daily life look like? There is little, if any, interaction between husband and me - even less between husband and Cam. We had D (step daughter - for those readers who might be new) with us this weekend and I spent a great deal of time watching husband's interactions with her - comparing them to those with Cam. Although husband does show a bit more interest in D, and backs down when she challenges him (he would escalate a challenge by Cam), there is little quality interaction between them. Most of the weekend was spent watching TV - no substantial discussion regarding anything other than which show was on next. Although family counseling is no longer something we participate in (husband was not receptive to having to change), Cam, D and I continue to attend - not as a family, but as individuals.

What we have now is a house full of people who really don't care, at least on the surface. "Whatever," said with an eye roll, seems to be the theme of this family. It's sad, it's unfortunate, but it's reality ... and I'm sure many of you have been there at one time or another - maybe even now. It's not bad, but it's certainly not good. It is most definitely ... well ... indifferent.

Indifference in my marriage is something new, and it scares me. Why? Because at this point it is placed in a nice, neat, little box, allowing me to see this relationship through logic rather than emotion, but how long will it be before it grows and spills over into other parts of my life? It crept in to my marriage quite silently and exposed itself (How many of you chuckled when you read "exposed itself"?) with a flip of a switch. I still have passion in parts of my life - I don't want to lose those pieces - to let indifference sneak in and take over.

My plan? To coddle and grow those things that Cam and I are passionate about in order to fight indifference. Rather than allow fear to encourage inaction, I'm going to use fear as a motivator. Will it fix my marriage? No, nothing but a sudden smack up along side the head with a 2 x 4 light-bulb moment on husband's part could do that. I've surrendered the fight to save this marriage. I cannot do it on my own. But I'm hoping that if I can generate more passion in other areas of my life, it will overcome the indifference - or at least keep it at bay - right? Right???

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