30 September 2009

HNT - Head Cold


“A family is a unit composed not only of children but of men, women, an occasional animal, and the common cold”
~ Ogden Nash

A steamy shower and antibacterial soap are critical in battling a head cold *CLICK*



28 September 2009

Pics and Sicks


Everyone around me has come down with the crud. Seems once school is back in session the germies start their vacation moving from person to person until they infect everyone. We've been battling this at home (Cam and Delaney have both succumbed) and at work (most of the accounting department has been out at least one day over the past two weeks). I had hoped to escape the germies, but they won the battle.

I started sneezing uncontrollably on Sunday. Yesterday I went into work and by 2PM, the "non-drowsy" cold meds coupled with a lack of caffeine had me feeling like this:

This morning? Well, it wasn't very pretty!

And honestly, this couldn't have come at a worse time. We are in the final - CRITICAL - steps of a western region consolidation. Today is the last full work day before all files are transferred to the new consolidated company and it is my responsibility to make sure everything is ready to go.

But you know what? The consolidation will progress without me. As much as I'd like to think I am indispensable, I know better. The world will not come to an end, and hopefully a day at home will help me kick this crud!


I watched a pretty cool video the other day titled How to take amazing cell phone pictures. It's an interview with a professional Seattle photographer/artist touting the virtues of using your cell phone camera - as limited as it is - to make "art"

I thought it was a pretty cool concept, so decided to use mine more and came of with these pics using the black & white setting on my 1.3 megapixel cell phone camera. I haven't done any editing of these - they are just straight from the phone. It's kind of fun!



I'm considering participating in WWC using nothing more than my cell phone camera. Now that would be a challenge!


Armchair Football Mom


It was a momentous football weekend! Cam returned to the playing field after 6-weeks of appearing on the Injured Reserve list ... and boy was he excited!

His weight division has two teams. A Saturday team (similar to the JV team structure in High School) and the Sunday team (equivalent to the Varsity squad). After not being able to physically participate in practices for six weeks (Cam did attend, but couldn't do much of anything other than watch) I didn't expect him to play much of the game on Saturday night, and knew he'd just be suiting up for Sunday without any play time. It certainly wasn't the first time I was wrong ...

As it turned out, Cam not only played the entire game Saturday night, but he played a full possession series on Sunday as well - a possession that lead to a touchdown. WooHoo!!

I wanted to give y'all a look-see at one of the things I think is terribly wrong in this league. Cam is #41. He's what they call a "double stripper" He is just a few pounds away from the max weight allowance for this league and is limited to playing center or guard on the offensive line in Sunday games (they play "high school rules" on Saturdays so he is allowed to play any position on Saturdays).

See #49? He is one of Cam's team-mates. Although there is a maximum weight in this league, there is no minimum weight. We've seen a lot of these smaller kids with some pretty significant injuries this season (#49 included). They meet the age requirements (12-14 year olds) but are physically much smaller than many of the other players.

Anyway ... I digress ... Cam had a wonderful time both Saturday and Sunday and even told me it was worth it to go to all of those practices even though he couldn't play just to have the opportunity to play in these last few games of the season. I am more than proud of his dedication to this very difficult season for him!

Now, can we talk weather?? It was sunny and beautiful when we got to the game at 1:30, but by the time we were midway into the game these clouds rolled in. We got lucky and just had a few sprinkles, but it was looking pretty dicey there for a bit.


27 September 2009

Sunday Secret


When he started demanding I show him the receipt for grocery shopping, I bought a package of condoms on my next shopping trip. When he looked at the receipt, he complained about how much I spent on fresh fruits and vegetables, but never asked to see another receipt.


25 September 2009

Friday Wrap-Up


Did you see?? Did you see?? Clearly, Bank of America reads my blog because just this week they announced that they modified their Overdraft Fees And y'all thought I was just another egotistical arrogant every day blogger!


As I was waiting for Cam to get out of his team meeting last weekend, I noticed one of the fathers decided to make his team affiliation permanent. See that logo on his left leg? Ummm ... yeah ... that's a tat ...

He could have at least picked a good team *giggle*

You can make it bigger if you want *CLICK*


Speaking of football, there was an incident at Cam's practice on Tuesday - a bit of a scuffle and retaliation - it was handled by the coaches and all was well ... or so I thought until I pulled up to drop Cam off at school Wednesday morning and was met by the principal.

There are times when I really wonder if there shouldn't be some kind of test issued to determine if people are fit to have children ... or not ... I might have a difficult time passing such a test. Anyway ...

Tuesday at practice, Cam and another teammate we'll call "Linens" (because it's as close as I can get to his name without using it) went up against each other. This was Cam's first practice since returning from his back injury, and he was fired up. He beat Linens off the line ... and then went overboard with his victory celebration (seems he missed the humble lesson in church the other week).

So ... Linens is embarrassed ... and pissed! Linens decides it would be a good idea to cheap-shot Cam in the back as Cam was walking away. Linens knocked Cam down and in the process knocked the wind out of him.

Coaches witnessed the events. Yelled at both boys telling them that if either one of them acted like that again they'd be done with practice and possibly out of the next game. All is well and good, right? Nahhhh ...

Seems Father Linens called the head coach that night. Claims Cam face-masked, punched and then kicked Young Linens in the ... ummm gonads. Wants coach to suspend Cam for a game. Fortunately, coach had seen the incident and knew that wasn't what happened. Tried to calm Father Linens, who then said, "If you're not going to take care of this I'll find someone who will."

Enter in the phone call Father Linens makes to the school principal. Now understand, there is NO LINK between school and football. Middle school does not have a football team. But Father Linens wants principal to talk to Cam because Cam threatened to "kill" Young Linens. Yes, the story keeps getting bigger and bigger. Principal tells Father Linens that he'll talk to Cam only if Father Linens agrees that principal will talk to Young Linens at the same time. Father agrees.

As I drop Cam off at school, principal meets me at my car. Tells me a parent has asked that he speak with the two boys regarding something that happened at practice the previous night. I ask why he's involved since this isn't a school issue. He tells me Father Linens is concerned the issue might carry over to school. He assures me Cam is not in trouble (he better not be - it had NOTHING to do with the school). Fine. Whatever.

To make a long story short short story long, I have to wonder what motivates a parent like Father Linen. Was he pissed off that the coaches "sided" with Cam? Did he make the phone call to the school trying to get Cam in trouble? Or was he worried that Young Linens might lose his cool at school and do something stupid?

Unfortunately, after talking to the coaches and listening to the town gossip hearing from other parents, it appears there was quite a bit of malice intended. I'd like to believe that was absurd - that it was just a misunderstanding - but my heart knows better.


One of the benefits of having only one liquor store in town and earning frequent drinker points. OK ... maybe I don't have a frequent drinker card, but I'm in there enough that the owner knows me by name, and makes beer suggestions based on what he knows I like.

Tell me this little contraption wouldn't make even a bottle of Bud Light look good!

This one *CLICKS* bigger too!

*EDIT* I've been using my mad google skills to attempt to find a source for this. What I've learned is that this was a promotional piece given out by Beck's last year (2008) right before Octoberfest. I did find an article that listed a link to purchase the item, but it's no where to be found. I'll talk to my guy at the liquor store and see what he might be able to do for me.


23 September 2009

You Lie!


No! This isn't a political post, but I couldn't resist stealing South Carolina Congressman Joe Wilson's thunder.

As it turns out, we all lie *gasp* Surprised, aren't you? A recent survey conducted by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment to mark the launch of ‘Lie to Me’ Season 1 on DVD, revealed that men tell twice as many lies as women - six fibs a day on average compared to only three fibs a day by women.

Since I have absolutely no idea why men lie ... I mean seriously? What woman ever gets upset when a guy is honest and says, "No dear, I'm not coming home any time soon. I'm having more fun with Joe than I ever do with you."?

Women? Now I completely understand why they lie! Evil men *wink* Here are the top 10 lies women tell.

1. Nothing's wrong, I'm fine

2. Oh, this isn't new, I've had it ages

3. It wasn't that expensive

4. It was on sale

5. I'm on my way

6. I don't know where it is, I haven't touched it

7. I didn't have that much to drink

8. I've got a headache

9. No, I didn't throw it away

10. Sorry, I missed your call

Hmmm ... so it looks like women lie most about money and thieving their men's things. Interesting ...

So what is it men lie about??

1. Nothing's wrong, I'm fine

2. This will be my last pint

3. No, your bum doesn't look big in that

4. I had no signal

5. My battery died

6. Sorry, I missed your call

7. I didn't have that much to drink

8. I'm on my way

9. It wasn't that expensive

10. I'm stuck in traffic

Wait! You mean he isn't stuck in traffic every night at 9:30?? And the signal and battery on his phone aren't always bad?? I think I'm starting to understand why husband wanted to get rid of our land line now ...


22 September 2009

When Kindness Matters


Out here in the blogosphere, there's a lot of talk about how people suck. I've certainly engaged in that type of banter. Heck, tales of husband are often prime "people suck" fodder. But guess what? There are moments when people make your day - and not because they give you something to complain about.

Things have been going fairly well with Cam after the explosion this summer. Going back to school - staying busy with football and church activities - just returning to a productive routine seems to have made a tremendous difference.

* NOTE TO SELF * start researching options for next summer early. There will be no Devil's playground idle hands next summer.

In the past, I've shared with you some of Cam's social challenges (Gee, I wonder where he gets those from?!) I cannot tell you what the root cause of these issues is - whether it is environmental (being "new" in a small town, racial components, etc.) or whether Cam is just one of those kids who is different enough that other kids (and some adults) don't "get" him so choose to stay away from him - ostracize him.

So, last night was "Monday Night Football" in the Land of Lincoln. Cam decided he really wanted to ride with "the guys" and didn't particularly want mom tagging along. I dropped him off at "the field" (don't get me started on the inability of adults to communicate effectively via email, this is a *happy* post) and he found a ride with Coach John, Coach John's son and a Coach John's son's non-football friend.

That in itself was a wonderful gift! I've been running around like a chicken with its head cut off these past few months. This gave me a night off - a few hours to just sit and be quiet - something I don't get much of these days.

When 7:30 rolled around I started to get a bit worried. The game started at 5:00 and should have been over by 6:30 at the latest. Did I screw up? Was I supposed to pick Cam up from the game? No ... I distinctly remember Coach John telling me he'd drop him off at home. I decided I'd wait until 8:00 before going into full panic mode. It was just a few minutes after 7:30 when Cam walked in the door - with a take-out food container.

It just so happens that Coach John's wife works with me. She has become a friend - someone who has had similar struggles in raising her kids - someone who has wonderful advise and an amazing ability to listen and not judge. She and Coach John had taken Cam out to dinner, with their family, after the game.

This might not seem like anything unusual, but it is unusual in my world. This just doesn't happen to us. People in my town have never been this nice to Cam - never invited him to parties - certainly never taken him out to dinner. I actually cried when I discovered what they had done for Cam. I'm hoping I'll be able to manage my emotions when I thank my co-worker for her kindness this morning.

A little dramatic? Maybe, but you know what? It's the little things that can make such an unexpected, positive impact in people's lives. You could see the pride on Cam's face - a moment of feeling like he fit in. And me? I was overwhelmed by the kindness towards Cam - the kindness towards me - and the feeling that we mattered.

Have you ever been on the receiving end of something small that just made your day? Feel like sharing?


20 September 2009

Sunday Secret


When I hear a story about yet another mother who kills her child and then herself, I don't think "How could anyone possibly do that?" No ... instead I remember what it was like to think that might be my best option.


18 September 2009

Friday Wrap-Up


*CLICK* to big

Good news on Cam's back injury. He has healed quite well - pain free for the past two weeks - progressing well with his physical therapy. The doctor says he can go back to "light" practice on Monday.

Anyone else think that's a bit of an oxy-moron? Light football practice? We aren't talking no pads light ... no, he can wear full pads and practice "light." How much compliance do you think I'll get from Cam on that? How 'bout compliance from the coaches?

I'll admit, I'm a bit apprehensive about Cam's return to football, but he has been so supportive of the team during this last six weeks - attending all practices - attending all games - he earned this second chance. Hopefully he can get through it without breaking something!


My bank has changed it's debit card practices. It now issues NSF fees based not on the actual balance on my checking account, but on the available balance. The available balance is the amount in the account that has been "promised" but not paid. So, if I go to the market at 9:30 the night before payday, use my debit card for the groceries knowing that my payroll will be direct deposited at midnight,if that purchase puts me at a negative PENDING balance, I'll be assessed an NSF fee EVEN THOUGH the money won't be paid to the market until the following day ... when funds WILL BE available. This was a $105 lesson.

And the kicker? When I log on to my bank account, the default screen is to the actual balance of my account, not the available balance. In this instance, the default screen showed money in my account, but when I clicked on the little, obscure link way up in the left hand corner of the screen, it showed my available balance to be in the red.

I wasn't happy. Right now $105 is a TON of money for me and I think the bank's practices here are - at best - misleading, and bordering on fraudulent. The issue here is that the money is still in my account - it hasn't been paid to the vendor - it hasn't left my bank nor my bank account - yet the bank is assessing an NSF fee?


Have I mentioned that I am a morning person? I'm one of those obnoxious people who wakes up in a good mood ... at 5:00 AM! My take on the start of the new day is that it hasn't been spoiled by my actions or inactions. It's a fresh start. That's why I'd rather watch a sunrise than a sunset any day, and this one was beautiful!

*CLICK* to big


17 September 2009

Vlogging for Winners


As promised! I'm actually getting the drawing done within 48 hours of ending the contest! Let's see if I can get the packages out by early next week! Just in case you have a Nazi employer
workplace internet filtering like I do and YouTube is blocked, there is a spoiler at the end of this post.


What? You didn't watch?


You couldn't spend four minutes of your day watching me be - in the words of my dear son - LAME!?!


There isn't any way I could persuade you??


Fine then! And the winners are ...


"She Who Shall Not Be Named" (nor linked)



... and a bonus winner just because I can ...



Move along


Looking for this???


Move along. There is nothing to see here ... well, no Thursday Nekkidness.

There will be a vlog a little bit later. Time to draw the names of those lucky blogiversary winners!


15 September 2009

Fucking Tennis ...


“If I could, I would take this fucking ball and shove it down your fucking throat”
~ Serena Williams

I don't know, I thought it was quite creative and offered a great visual. Seems the tennis snobs think differently. Why is that?

Certainly the famous outbursts of Jimmy Connors, Andre Agassi, Ilie Nastase and John McEnroe were at least as bad as Serena's one-liner. They may have been great tennis players, but all four of them were known for verbally abusing officials, destroying rackets, and throwing temper tantrums ... and the fans cheered! Yet in this instance, sports commentators and fans are calling for a suspension in addition to the $10,500 fine already imposed.

Let's look at the facts ...

1. There wasn't a foot fault. Replays of the "infraction" that triggered the call, the eventual double fault, then Serena's outburst, show that her foot was not over the line on the serve. For those of you not familiar with tennis, the line judge called a foot fault on Williams when her foot supposedly went over the line during her serve. This would be similar to an umpire in a baseball game negating an out at second base during an otherwise successful, game deciding, double play because the second baseman's foot didn't quite touch the bag.

2. The line judge overreacted. If it wasn't enough that the line judge made a very bad call, she escalated the situation by throwing her own tantrum and "tattling." The head judge then penalized Serena another point - match point.

3. Serena didn't have a meltdown, she was pissed off. Sure, she dropped a few "f"-bombs and pointed a few times with her racket, but it lasted all of 10 seconds. Serena, in the heat of a massively important match, lost her cool and said some things she admittedly regrets.

4. The role of a referee/umpire/judge is to be invisible - to let the players decide the match themselves. The line judge put herself at the middle of the action and let her own inability to handle an angry player, and her reaction to that player, decide who won the semifinal at the U.S. Open.

I have to wonder, in a sport that still retains a faint whiff of the men-only country club atmosphere, and in which women are still "required" to uphold a feminine image when performing (short skirts and makeup are standard equipment), if the call for a heftier fine and suspension doesn't have more to do with the "discomfort" of seeing a woman be aggressive, competitive and vocal. In other words, acting like a man.

For the record, Kim Clijsters (Serena's opponent in the fatal match) ended up winning the U.S. Open women's singles. No one will remember that, though.


14 September 2009

It's True! It's True! Look Who's Two!


Actually two years and two days 'cause I missed my very own blog birthday! I was a little preoccupied with favorites, fat, flab ... and then there was fantasy football ...

Anyway, it all started [HERE]. My first post had five comments, and probably five readers - the same five people who were friends from a mommy list, and bloggers themselves who bullied encouraged me to start my own blog. I left that mommy list long ago, but of those five people, four are FaceBook friends and three still kind of blog.

My first "real live" commentor? Real Live Lesbian!

After 3 months of blogging, I'd managed to lure in come to the attention of Jay and g-man and it kind of blossomed from there.

I look back through my blog posts and see that so much has changed and so much has stayed the same. I look different, I feel different, but I sure keep producing the same results ... which leads me to believe I'm still doing the same things. Hey! I may be slow, but I'm not completely oblivious!

There have been challenges along the way. People who didn't like what I had to say who kept me on my toes and made me rethink my position, and some who were just plain mean and malicious. All have helped me to grow and for that I will always be thankful!

Last year I did this big production for the blogiversary, this year? Meh ...

What I would like to do is a little drawing for anyone who leaves a comment today (remember, you must be willing to give up a mailing address should you win). Kind of my way of bribing you to keep reading saying thank you for keeping me on the straight and narrow, picking me up when I was down and for being (generally) great people!

And no, this isn't an attempt to validate myself through comment numbers. In fact, if you are a lurker who isn't comfortable leaving comments, feel free to send me an email and I'll include you in the drawing. It's just a little way for me to give back to those of you who have given so much to me.

I'll draw one name for every 10 (or portion there of) comments/emails. I'm not going to tell you what the prizes will be because I'd like to personalize them for those who win.

Ready! Set! Go!!!


13 September 2009

Sunday Secret


It wasn't until someone else said it, but I realized yesterday that I am every bit as much a single mom now as I was before I married husband. There is no need to fear being alone - I am already alone.


12 September 2009

To HNT or not to HNT?


I want to thank everyone who stopped by Thursday to see my external flaws (or at least some of them). ASM's idea, along with an abundance of support from both those who participated, and those who visited, made for quite an emotional Thursday in HNT-land. For me, the timing couldn't have been better.

You see, I'm having a bit of a love/hate relationship with HNT right now. I enjoy the creativity - attempting to capture the emotions and the feelings of the moment with nothing more than a $125 digital camera, some free photo editing software and me. Being creative brings me great joy and feelings of pride and accomplishment. I had been neglecting my passion for creativity, and HNT gave me an outlet with the added bonus of some very positive feedback.

18 months later, and a short two week break from HNT, I find that I am really having a difficult time with the perceived and/or manufactured competition that is clearly visible in HNT. There are a handful of bloggers (four that I can name off the top of my head) who post their favorite HNT's for the week. Appearing on one of these lists is a huge honor especially if it's the right list but it also, in my oh-so-very-humble opinion, fosters a sense of competition and preference between participants. I'm not saying this is true for all who participate, but definitely for some (read that as me). I'd be surprised if I am the only one who has ever felt this way, and even more surprised if anyone else actually admits to it.

I don't want this to come across as me badmouthing anyone who publishes a favorite HNT's post every week. One of these bloggers - whose list is quite well known - is one of my favorite reads each and every day, including the day favorites are posted. Although I've never asked, my guess is that publishing a list of favorite HNT-ers is done entirely out of admiration for those who do HNT well ... "well" in the opinion of the blogger publishing the list. Really no different than having a blog-roll on your side bar. But there is a downside too.

There are some HNT-ers who have never appeared in one of these "favorites" lists, and never will. Not because they aren't "playing" HNT well. Not because they aren't abiding by the HNT guidelines. Not even because their photography isn't wonderful. No, they won't make a favorites list because their style of HNT is not consistent with the type of blog that publishes a favorites lists, or maybe because they are male (there is a significant gender bias in HNT). I find that ... well ... bothersome.

As bloggers, we are all out here for encouragement and validation - among other things - whether we participate in HNT or not. Yet frequently I see 50+ comments on a female HNT that is sensual, erotic and/or just plain in-your-face naked. The well thought out, creative HNT that shows nothing more than what one might see at a grocery store? That HNT-er is lucky to get 3 comments. I don't care what anyone says, HNT-ers, although a supportive community, can be a cliquey, fickle and hypocritical bunch too ... and I've been right there with them.

Sure, I do the retro HNT on the first Thursday of the month - a self imposed reality check of sorts - and I've even had one other HNT-er regularly join me on that venture, but I've also been far too caught up in the "competition" to be a favorite, pushing my "limits of comfort" in hopes of making a list. I think there are many HNT-ers who participate, in part, to help overcome low self-esteem. I certainly can't be the only one, but when it starts being more stressful than fun - more competitive than creative - is it really meeting the intent of HNT? I can only decide that for myself.

I often refer back to this specific HNT guideline (from Osbasso's site):

It's very important to not be dissing other's submissions! We're all going to have half-hearted entries from time to time. None of us is better than the other. One the other hand, it's completely acceptable to heap praise upon those that deserve it! [emphasis mine]

Am I dissing an HNT submission by not commenting? Am I looking at it and thinking "EGADS! What the hell were they thinking?" but just quickly closing the browser window so as not to be one of those people? Is a favorites list nothing more than "heaping praise" on those who deserve it (I won't even get in to how much that word deserve bothers me) or is it encouraging others to participate in HNT in a certain way? I don't know.

What I do know is that I was in tears (literally) after posting my HNT this week. It sat on my blog for over an hour before the first comment was posted, and that was from Osbasso (in other words, it felt like a charity comment). I found myself so completely wrapped up in concerns surrounding what others thought that I had no pride - no appreciation - for the creative work I'd done. I knew the pic of my "flaws" wouldn't make anyones favorite list - it just didn't meet the criteria - and that bothered me too (but I did check Friday morning, hoping maybe I was wrong).

Is all of this the "fault" of those who publish HNT favorites lists? Of course not. Are people so hung up on their blog numbers that they'll do anything to increase them? Do HNT-ers base their self-worth on the number of comments they get? I can only answer these questions for myself, and I'm somewhat ashamed to admit that my answer to that last question is a resounding "YES"

I'm not sure what this means for HNT as part of my blog. I appreciate the concept, but not where it has led me over the past 18 months. I enjoy the opportunity to be creative, but cannot seem to let go of the competitive side. I've made some wonderful friends through HNT and know that most of those friendships will suffer if I leave the community. It really is a difficult situation.

... or maybe I'm just pissy because my fat, flabby belly didn't make a favorites list ...


09 September 2009

HNT - In The Flaw


In last week's HNT, Another Suburban Mom encouraged other HNT participants to post a picture this week of a "perceived" flaw. I've not participated in HNT for the past couple of weeks, but thought this was as good a time as any to jump back in. Flaws are my specialty!

Yes ... I know ... I should not be so critical, but the truth is that I *am* flawed, as is everyone. Some of us wear our flaws on the outside, some of us are able to hide them on the inside, and in some of us (like me) our outside flaws are nothing more than a visual reminder of our inside flaws. I am not, nor will I ever be, a "classic" beauty.

My skin is loose and flabby due to decades (literally) of losing and gaining weight. I've lost - and gained - 100+ pounds three times. I can't even begin to count the number of times I've lost (and gained) 50 pounds or less. At my thinnest I was a size 8. At my heaviest, a size 24. Right now I'm somewhere in the size 14/16 range. I've abused my body with food, and it shows.

My stomach will never see anything even resembling flat and tight. If the stretched skin from the repetitive weight loss - and gain - wasn't enough, the surgery during my pregnancy requiring an incision from pubic bone to belly button, followed by a subsequent c-section (5 months later) using the same incision site, sealed the deal.

I have become the master of hiding my belly. You've seen pictures of me laying on my back, or with my arms stretched over my head - both ideal ways of hiding the extra skin - and fat - that plague me. I hate my belly and every time I look at it (far too many times each and every day), I remind myself of how disgusting I look.

I am ...

If you really want to see one of the many flaws ... *CLICK*


The World *Is* a Little Smaller


I worry ... more than I should some times, and this little snippet of my life has been no exception. I've become quite skilled at, when facing stress, hyper focusing on the stressor, and going through the motions in the rest of my life. It's been two weeks since this all happened and I'm now trying to find a balance.

Cam's phone was returned the following day. Fortunately, with the exception of an unrelated little "issue", it appeared to be clean. Cam may have thought he was playing with the big dogs, but fortunately it seems he was looking for approval more than he was looking to become a career criminal.

I spoke with SGT Jones, albeit briefly, regarding my legal options to keep the 18 year old Things #2 and #3 away from Cam. I learned that there is little that can be done. Unless a minor is abused (sexually or physically) by an adult, the courts will not issue a protective order. My only recourse is to keep a close eye on the situation and attempt to "catch" Things #2 and #3 in some sort of illegal activity. Frustrating to say the least, especially since if I ever find them anywhere near Cam again, it will likely be me that winds up in the middle of illegal activity - assault.

My challenge is to keep an eye on Cam while allowing some bit of freedom. As I mentioned earlier, I downloaded the Chaperone/Child software available through my cell phone carrier. I was able to set child zones - 1/4 mile radius areas where Cam should be (home, school, etc.) as well as areas he shouldn't be (Things #2 and #3's neighborhoods). I receive an alert - via text message and email - any time Cam enters or leaves one of those zones. I can also locate him at any given time via the GPS tracking.

I went through Cam's contacts on his phone. I asked him about each person - dialed each number to verify what he told me - and set password protected controls on his phone that allow him to make and receive calls to and from people on his contact list only. I downloaded the contact manager on his phone so that I can access his contact list from any computer, insuring he has not made changes. I also check his phone and text activity EVERY day and randomly ask him for his phone to view text content as well as to view any pictures he may have sent or received.

I spoke with the principal at the middle school. Heading the PTO may be a serious pain in my ass bring challenges at times, but being active in the middle school has allowed me to develop an excellent relationship with the principal. I gave him the details of what had been going on. The principal has been at the middle school for 17 years - he was quite familiar with Thing #2 and shared some additional insight (it wasn't good).

I checked Cam's schedule to see if he was sharing any classes with Thing #1 (13 year old) - he was not. I had the principal move Cam's locker to the other side of the building, minimizing any potential contact. I told the principal that Cam was NEVER to walk home from school - bus only - and he was to get off only at his stop. The principal has been extremely helpful in all of this.

I'd love to tell you all that this is behind us - that it was nothing more than a little blip in the radar - and maybe some day that will be the case, but it isn't yet. Cam started back to school last week which has been extremely helpful. Between school, football, and church activities, he is busy with "good" stuff. I am approaching this from a different direction than I've traveled in the past. I am not taking away the good stuff, but rather am encouraging the good stuff - filling all of his spare time with good stuff - no matter what the cost (time or money) is to me - as long as he participates fully in the activity. My hope is, that over time, he'll start feeling better about himself and will prefer that positive attention over the negative attention.

Yes, I know ... parenting should have been this way from the start. It wasn't. Once Cam hit middle school I made the assumption that he would do the "right" things, after all, that's what he had been taught. I didn't pay as much attention as I should have - I was too wrapped up in my own wants, needs and dramas. That was a luxury I was taking that I did not deserve. Cam is one of those kids who will always push boundaries - always use his keen sense of logical argument to attempt to justify his actions - both to himself and to me. I must always be alert and aware. It's tiring, but necessary.

I do think Cam and I have a better relationship now. He has seen me make mistakes (big ones) and be publicly accountable for them. Most days, he doesn't like me or the limits I've placed on him. This isn't a popularity contest and I am not bothered by being called "stalker mom," in fact I think it's quite flattering. I continue to remind him that when he shows a history of being responsible within the new limits (months, not days) I will expand them - a bit.

We've been through a lot over the course of the last two weeks. I'll be honest - I am emotionally and physically drained. I know I need to take care of myself but it's just going to have to wait. I'm not exercising, I'm not eating well, and I sleep like I did when Cam was a newborn. I'm not complaining - this is the price for the decisions I made previously - the price to Cam could have been far greater.

Why the picture of Alastor "Mad Eye" Moody (any Harry Potter fans out there)? A year or so ago, a friend of mine who knows both Cam and I quite well, told me that I reminded her of "Mad Eye." At the time, I thought she was nuts, but I now realize just how keen her insight was.



08 September 2009

The World Gets a Little Smaller - Part VI


"He's afraid of what the physical punishment will be when we get home - and he has reason to be concerned."

SGT Jones did a double-take when I said that, followed by one of those extremely uncomfortable, elongated pauses. He asked if he could talk to me - alone. We left Cam in the interrogation area and went to the lunch room.

SGT Jones asked me if there was abuse going on in the house. Yes - sporadic physical abuse directed toward both Cam and I in the past, emotional and verbal abuse occurring occasionally now. When was the last instance of physical abuse? For Cam? About 18 months ago. About 12 months ago for me. SGT Jones told me he had some information he'd give to me before I left - resources that I might need.

Although it seemed to last forever, it was a relatively short conversation. It was also the first time I had been honest with a complete stranger regarding the chaos behind the walls of what appears to be such a lovely home ... and I picked a police officer. SGT Jones was not sympathetic, instead I could sense from him his disgust for my past inaction. What he couldn't know was that my own disgust with my past inaction was far greater than his ever could be.

We walked back into the interrogation area and sat down. SGT Jones explained to Cam that he understood that it had been a difficult year at home - one that was full of fear at times - that he could understand why Cam might not be telling the entire truth, but that it was critical that he do so.

I looked at Cam, touched his knee and through emotional tears said, "I know that I have failed you in the past - that I have not kept you safe when that should have been my only priority - but you have my word that I will NEVER allow that to happen again. Whatever you say here will stay here. If there is any indication that you are not safe at home, you and I will leave immediately."

You know, there was really no reason for Cam to believe me. I let him down once, he has no reason to believe anything will be any different in the future, yet he seemed surprised at my honesty with SGT Jones, and my commitment to him (Cam) with SGT Jones present.

SGT Jones went through the questions again. Cam answered in the same manner he had previously. It appeared that although Cam was definitely a part of the home break-in (a crime that was never reported, therefor Cam could not be charged) he really didn't know anything regarding the "mischievous" crimes going on in town, nor did he have any idea how he was being used by these two 18 year old "friends."

SGT Jones asked me if I minded if he spoke with Cam alone. I'll admit to being a bit apprehensive, but I knew that nothing said during that time could be used against Cam. I allowed it and left the area.

About 5 minutes later, SGT Jones called me back. He gave me an envelope with information on domestic violence and resources in our area. He had me sign a document allowing him to keep Cam's phone for investigative purposes. He explained to both Cam and I that he was initiating an "informal" no contact order between Cam and Thing #2 (18 year old) and that any contact between the two of them could result in legal actions, sending Thing #2 to jail, then he walked us to the door.

It was a relatively quiet afternoon. I did call husband to tell him - briefly - what had happened. I explained that I expected he would NOT bring this up with Cam - that I had handled the situation and would continue to handle it. He was receptive - maybe even relieved - to hear of my actions and expectations.

The next 24 hours would be filled with worry. What would SGT Jones find on Cam's phone? How was I going to insure that Cam had no contact with Things #2 and #3? Was I going to find myself smack dab in the middle of the criminal justice system with Cam at my side? Would Cam run away? Would husband respect my boundaries?

It was only Tuesday night, but it had been one of the longest 48 hour periods of my life.


04 September 2009

The World Gets a Little Smaller - Part V


I never told Cam where we were going, but it became fairly clear - rather quickly - that we were not headed home. Cam asked, as we turned left instead of right, "Where are you taking me? To the police station? Because Thing #2 ran in the house to get a muffin?"

I explained to him that we were not going to the police station because of a muffin, but because in addition to him giving Thing #2 permission to go into our house after I made it clear he was not allowed, the police wanted to question him (Cam) regarding crimes that were occurring in town. I explained that Thing #2 was a suspect in these crimes and now, he was too. We followed SGT Jones to the holding/questioning area - a room about 20' x 20' with a single desk, three chairs, gray cinder block walls and a minimum security cell just like the one pictured.

SGT Jones began questioning Cam - about his association with Thing #2, about the mischievous crimes going on about town, about his whereabouts at certain times and on certain days. He asked Cam if he had ever used drugs (yes, he had - pot - but of course only once). He asked Cam if he knew anything about the crimes. Had he seen anything. Had he heard anything about what was going on (Cam denied knowledge of either). He asked about the break-in into Thing #2's house (Cam gave details). About 1-1/2 hours into the questioning, SGT Jones asked if Cam had a cell phone (yes) and asked me if he could see the cell phone (yes).

It was at this very moment that I realized just how little I knew about Cam's cell phone usage. I had no idea who was in his contact list (all three of the Things involved). I had no idea who and what he had been texting. I had no idea what SGT Jones might find on that phone. There were many text conversations between Cam and Things #2 and #3 (the 18 yo's). Nothing obviously incriminating, but certainly things that raised flags. SGT Jones decided to keep the phone for evidence/investigation.

Throughout most of the questioning Cam was clearly upset. SGT Jones shared with Cam that he was being used as a tool. That his 18 yo "friends," Things #2 and #3, would throw him under a bus should they get backed into a corner. SGT Jones was very firm with Cam - clear the air now - share all that you know (good or bad) - because if I find out later there will be legal consequences.

SGT Jones left Cam and I alone for a few minutes so that I could reinforce - mother to son - how important it was for Cam to be honest. We talked - we cried - Cam was scared - I was scared.

SGT Jones didn't realize that he was fighting not one, but two fairly strong forces. In addition to Cam's "loyalty" to Things #2 and #3, Cam was fearful of what husband's reaction would be once he got home. There was yet another defining moment when SGT Jones came back into the room. Cam looked at SGT Jones, looked at me, then cried, "He's (husband) going to kill me. I'd rather go to juvy than go home."

I looked at SGT Jones and said, "He's afraid of what the physical punishment will be when we get home - and he has reason to be concerned."

It was my personal integrity on the line. It was time for me to come clean.

Need to catch up?

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4


03 September 2009

The World Gets a Little Smaller - Part IV


"I'm heading home real quick and then going back to Thing #2's (18 yo) house"

I got that text at 11:37AM. My initial thought was, "Thank goodness he's letting me know where he is going." My second thought was, "I bet he thinks there is no way I'll be home again since I was just home an hour ago." I went with my second thought.

My supervisor - who has three young boys of his own - has been extremely supportive through this time. I went into his office Monday and gave him the basics of the story. I let him know that I might need to take off with little more than a "I've got to go" as I headed out the door. He also worked with me to alter my work hours when school started, keeping Cam's time home alone to a minimum. I gave him a quick, "I've got to go!" as I ran out the door.

Our house is on a corner lot making it quite easy to pull up a block over, get a full view of the house and never be seen, and that's exactly what I did. I saw Cam, and who I thought was Thing #1 (13 yo) sitting on the front stoop, the garage door wide open. I needed to make good on my threats or I was going to dig myself a deeper hole, so I called the police department and asked them to dispatch SGT Jones to my house.

As I waited for SGT Jones to arrive, the boys closed the garage door and headed down the street on their bikes. SGT Jones arrived about 30 seconds after they left. I gave him a description of what the boys were wearing and told him it was likely they were headed back to Thing #2's (18 yo) house. He took off down the road and I went inside waiting for SGT Jones to call.

Not a minute later I got a phone call from Cam on his cell. In a disgusted tone of voice he asked, "Really mom? You called the police because Thing #2 went in the house to get a muffin?"

I responded, "I'll be right there," and hung up the phone.

Thing #2? It was the 18 yo that was at my house? Now I knew there was going to be trouble. Thing #2 is on probation and any violation of that probation results in automatic jail time.

Cam called me two more times during the 3 minute drive. I let both calls go to voice mail. I pulled up to Thing #2's house where SGT Jones was speaking to him by the squad car and Cam was sitting on the front porch.

SGT Jones walked up to my car and asked me what I wanted to do. Cam had told Thing #2 that he (Cam) had talked to me and I said it was OK for Thing #2 to run into the house real quick. When I asked SGT Jones what would happen if I pressed trespassing charges, he told me Thing #2 would be arrested, would need to post $100 bail to get out of jail, a court date would be set, but that it was probable that the charges would be dropped since Cam gave "permission" to Thing #2 to go into the house. This was the first of many legal lessons I would learn this day.

I loaded Cam's bike into the back of my car, SGT Jones had some final words with Thing #2, and Cam and I headed to the police station with SGT Jones right behind us.

We'd spend the next 3 hours and 17 minutes there.

Need to catch up?

Part I

Part II

Part III


02 September 2009

The World Gets a Little Smaller - Part III


**I've deactivated - and deleted - anonymous comments as there seems to be some sort of high-school pay-back antics going on in the comment section and I'm just not even going to entertain this crap on my blog - not now - not again**

Tuesday morning started off well. Cam seemed to have settled down a bit, realizing that the constraints I was placing on him were "reasonable" although a bit more strict than he would like.

I also had the opportunity to speak with Thing #1's mother. As Thing #1 (13 yo) has been a friend of Cam's for a while, this was not the first time (fortunately) that we had a conversation. I explained to her why I called - that I was concerned that Cam And Thing #1 were making some very poor decisions when they were together. I went out of my way to not place blame on anyone.

She told me she was experiencing much of the same behavior from Thing #1, then she shared a story with me regarding a 3rd "friend" (we'll call him Thing #3). The story was that Cam and Thing #1 were "coerced" by Thing #3 to break into Thing #2's house. Cam acted as lookout while Thing #1 went into the house looking for two MP3 players, and some pot that Thing #3 claimed belonged to him.

What is interesting is that I overheard a panicked phone call from Thing #1 (to Cam) on Sunday regarding the theft of the MP3 player and threats of the police being called. Things were starting to go from "feeling" wrong, to being wrong.

I thanked Thing #1's mother for sharing the information and informed her that if I found her son at my home again, without an adult in the house, I would call the police. Thing #1 has two older siblings who have been in trouble with the police - Thing #1's mother begged me to not involve them. I told her I wouldn't, as long as Thing #1 stayed away.

I was crushed by the information regarding Cam's involvement in the home break-in. I cannot even put into words the devastation I felt. I was struggling with Cam's decision to be a part of something like that, my motherly instincts that wanted to protect him, and knowing that the "right" thing to do was to report the crime. I had HUGE conflict, but knew that doing nothing was the absolute worse example I could set for Cam. Doing nothing is what got us where we were at that very moment.

I stopped at the house after speaking with Thing #1's mother and confronted Cam. He admitted he had been a part of the home break-in. I left Cam at home and stopped at the police station on my way back to work.

I spoke with SGT Jones. I talked to him about what I suspected, and what I knew. I learned from him that Thing #2 was NOT a 16 year old local boy, but an 18 year old local "man" currently on probation for drug related offenses. I learned that Thing #3 was an 18 year old "man" as well and had a history of police contact through one of the neighboring towns. I also learned that there had been many "mischievous" crimes occurring in town - mailboxes knocked down and/or vandalized, yard ornaments being moved from one house to another in the middle of the night - and that Thing #2 (18 yo) was a suspect in the crimes. Cam was now guilty by - at the very least - association, and possibly just plain guilty.

SGT Jones agreed to meet me at the police station at 3:00 PM. I agreed to bring Cam in to discuss not only the home break-in, but these other "mischievous" crimes as well.

An hour later, I was calling SGT Jones to my house. It was only 12:00 noon.

Need to catch up?

Part I

Part II


01 September 2009

The World Gets a Little Smaller - Part II


*If you want to catch up, Part I can be found [HERE]*

Monday Morning rolls around. One of the down sides to the real-time GPS monitoring is that it requires Cam's location security setting to remain ON (not set for Emergency 911 only) and it gives him a *warning* screen (i.e. "You can be located" message) when he turns on his phone. Unfortunately, I cannot secure those settings and he has access to change them.

So, what's the first thing he does Monday morning? Why yes! He changes the location settings so that the real-time GPS monitoring is deactivated. I send him a text message and tell him he has two options, (1) change the location setting to ON, or (2) lose the phone. He has 15 minutes to make a decision.

After several vulgar (understatement) text messages from Cam, and me responding in a "firm but loving" manner (texting allowed me to breathe), I told him it was in his best interest to abide by my rules. Now, understand that although Cam has been mad at me once or twice (or maybe a bazillion times) in the past, he has never retaliated in anger with vulgar language - NEVER. His final response to me was (this is the EXACT message I received):

I dont want to! Dont u fucking get it already?! IM 13 I DONT NEED UR HELP AT ANYTHING I DO!! IM NOT A FUCKING LITTLE KID ANYMORE! LEAVE ME ALONE! And just an FYI u dont even count as a mom 2 me right now. [Husband] is more of a parent then u!

Ummm ... yeah ... do you think he was attempting to push buttons? Somehow, I managed to keep my composure and not jump in my car, drive home and slap the living shit out of him, and instead continued to responded in a firm, but adult manner. He finally turned the location security setting back to ON.

One of my strategies last week was to show up at unexpected an unannounced times. Cam had been instructed that, under no circumstances, was he allowed to have anyone at the house without husband or I being there. Any guesses to what I found when I went home early for lunch? That's right! I found two of his "friends" at my house - Thing #1 (the 13 year old that has been a friend of Cam's for a couple of years) and Thing #2 (who I was told was a 16 year old, local kid, that Cam had met through Thing #1). They were just on their way out the door, obviously trying to be sneaky and leave before my "normal" lunch time. Little did they know that I would no longer have a "normal" lunch time.

I stopped all three boys in the driveway. I explained to ALL of them that Cam was not to have anyone at the house unless there was an adult present. I informed them that this would be their only warning - that the next time I would call the police and charge them with trespassing. I also told the two "friends" that if they were actually going to call themselves Cam's friends, they might want to consider helping him make better decisions, otherwise they had no business calling themselves his friends. The three of them rode away on their bikes.

Cam kept me in the loop regarding his whereabouts throughout the rest of the day and I didn't come home to anything other than what I should have come home to. I wouldn't be so lucky on Tuesday.