29 January 2010

Friday Wrap-Up


What a week! Fortunately it was one of those that started out really rough (understatement) and got a bit better each day. If I have to choose, I'll take one of those weeks over one that starts out great and gets progressively worse any day!


I'm considering adding a new member to our family. No, I'm not hoping to be the first woman to give birth to nonuplets (yes, I did have to google that). I MISS MY KITTIES!! Well, specifically Gizmo.

Husband has custody of the cats - all three of them. It made sense for them to stay together, and three of them in the apartment would have been too much, but I do miss them. I posted that thought on Facebook.

*SIDE NOTE* Call me a stuck-up bitch trying to hide part of my life if you want, but seldom do I "friend" people on Facebook who read my blog. If you've asked and I've declined, it's nothing personal, it's just that I use Facebook to keep in touch with extended family and Aunt Vicki in Spokane doesn't need to read all of the gory details of my life.

Lo-and-behold, one of my local friends has TWO cats that need to be re-homed as her new apartment does not allow pets.

Radar and Scooter may become new family members, assuming they are neutered, have their shots up-to-date and are indoor cats. We shall see ...


One of the posts this week that generated quite a bit of discussion was the Mistakes are Yours to Make post. As is often the case, a few people read far more into that post than was intended, but a few people honestly didn't realize they were making it more difficult for folks to comment on their blogs with word verification - so they changed it. Howard over at In Purple I'm Stunning was one of those people.

But something else came up in his post that made me think. This is not a slam on his commenters, but one did mention there are things about my blog that she doesn't like. Of course there are! Shucks, there are people who stop by here and wonder why the hell I'm even blogging. I'm OK with that.

That said, I have to wonder if there are things I am doing unintentionally (or maybe even on purpose) that annoy you guys. I'm not promising that I'll change anything, but take this as the one and only invitation you'll ever get to BLAST me at will. Seriously!

I won't be responding to any of that input (unless someone is asking for clarification) as it would certainly be defensive, but I am always looking for ways to improve the blog without losing its usefulness to me. Go ahead! Fire away!


I've been doing a little self-promoting on Fridays, posting my favorite photo from my Project 365 blog for the previous week. I was pretty proud of my pics this week and couldn't limit it to just one, so y'all get to see two of them today!

Hope y'all have a GREAT weekend!


28 January 2010

Thursday 13 - Late Edition


*NOTE* A special thanks to Vixen who sent me bunches of Thursday 13 banners

I've slowly been shifting my thinking from who I am to others, to who I want to be. This brings up thoughts how I spend the greatest portion of my day (at work) and the idea of exploring new career paths which eventually led to this list:

~13 things I wanted to be when I grew up~

1. A Lawyer - I was in 6th grade when I first considered this option. My fascination with law and the legal process has remained strong.

2. A Doctor - Another field that I have explored and dabbled in for many years. While in the Army, stationed in Korea and working in the Sexually Transmitted Disease Clinic, I looked into the Physician Assistant program, but never had the self-confidence to make the commitment.

3. A Musician - Music was actually my declared major when I first headed off to college. When music became more work than fun I decided I'd never be able to make a living at it.

4. A Trucker - I've touched on this one before. Driving is something I love to do and getting to see the country - from coast to coast - is an added bonus.

5. A Bakery Owner - Not too long ago I started looking at bakery franchises - specifically a bread baking franchise.

6. An Airplane Mechanic - When I took the ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) in high school it pointed me in that direction.

7. An Architect - I started looking at this in high school after an architectural drawing class. When I bombed out of the Music Major option I dabbled in Engineering for a few semesters.

8. A Fire Fighter - When I was really young (maybe 5?) I started having recurring dreams about fires - being caught in them - and decided it meant I should be a fire fighter.

9. A Chemical Engineer - I worked for a large corporation for 7 years that specialized in innovative products. At the time I did not have a degree and was told pursuing a degree would significantly improve my career path. Nothing like choosing the most difficult degree!

10. A Farmer's Wife - OK, I know that isn't technically a career, but there was a time in my life when I was actively seeking ONLY farm boys to date. Why? Because I wanted to be a farm wife - have 8 kids - home-school them - grind my own wheat for flour - milk my own cows. I still have moments, when driving through Podunk, that I long for that lifestyle.

11. A Paralegal - I guess that technically I was this, for a short period of time. It was supposed to be a career path but turned into a "job" when it became clear that family responsibilities were not going to be shared between husband an me, and Cam's needs were not being met as he was spending 12 hours a day unsupervised. I may revisit this one at some point.

12. A Poet - During my teen years I was convinced that I was prophetic beyond my years and that *my* poetry was something special (Oh to have just a smidgen of that idealism again). I was published several times but quickly learned I would never earn a living with my poems.

13. A Veterinarian - I am convinced that 80% of all little girls who fall in love with animals dream of becoming a veterinarian and playing with puppies and kittens all day, every day.

What you'll notice is that I never wanted to be what I am - an accountant. It was a career I kind of fell into many years ago and one that, when dreams need to be set aside, seems to always be available to me.

What about you? What did you want to be when you grew up? What do you want to be now?


27 January 2010

A Proclamation of Love?


Awwwww ... isn't that sweet? What could be more romantic than a billboard announcing your undying love of another? It's the stuff little girls dream of ... if they are psychotic, scorned lovers!

What? That's right! These billboards of a "happy couple," displayed in New York, San Francisco and Atlanta, were purchased by YaVaughnie Wilkins, the "other woman" in an 8-1/2 year affair with Charles E. Phillips (co-president of Oracle Corp. and potential successor to Oracle founder and CEO Larry Ellison).

The URL on the billboard? It led curious visitors to a web site containing personal photo albums and love notes from Charles to YaVaughnie.

YaVaughnie isn't speaking directly to the media, but through her cousin claimed the web site was created as a gift for Charles' 50th birthday. YaVaughnie also claims the billboards were not an act of revenge, but rather her way of reclaiming her version of her relationship with Charles.

Really? So the fact that YaVaughnie thought Charles was divorced in 2003, then learned last summer that he was reconciling with his wife had nothing to do with this?

Rumor has it the billboards have since been removed and the web site was no longer active, but my guess is YaVaughnie's mission - acting like a psycho bitch from hell reclaiming her version of her relationship with Charles - was accomplished.

Through a spokesperson, Charles admitted, "I had an 8½-year serious relationship with YaVaughnie Wilkins. My divorce proceedings began in 2008. The relationship with Ms. Wilkins has since ended and we both wish each other well."

I'm sure he means that from the bottom of his YaVaughnie fearing heart ...

So, what do you think? An act of revenge, or a proclamation of love? Tell the truth, haven't you wished you could pull off something like this? Helping karma out just a little bit?


26 January 2010

Size Matters


If you've been following me for a while you know that weight is ... well ... a weighty issue for me. My relationship with food is so far off the "normal meter" it isn't funny. I know that, and I don't like it, but as of yet I haven't figured out how to change it.

I have eluded to the fact that I recently regained my significant weight loss from two years ago and am now back into that 16/18 I was so sure I'd never see again.

Like most people, I'd like to be accepted (i.e. acceptable to society, acceptable to myself) no matter how big or small I am. I guess it's no surprise that I found hope in a recent CNN.com article titled Will 2010 be the 'year of plus'?

There was a lot of attention when Glamour published pictures of naked "plus sized" models. So much so that it appears V Magazine, a "forward thinking" (GAHHH! I hate that phrase) high-fashion magazine recently did it's own tribute to curvy women - the "SIZE" issue.

These are some amazingly gorgeous women!

These "plus-sized" models are all a size 12. In a country where the average size for a woman is a 14, I have to wonder just how "plus" they are, but setting that aside, they are most definitely not the traditional women we see in high-fashion editorial spreads, and that is good, right?

As much as I am frustrated with a society that I believe is preoccupied with - and judgmental of - fat overweight women, why is it that I look at the above photo and think, "She looks beautiful on the left with her fat rolls covered up, but that picture on the right? Acckk!"

When I look at the photo on the left, the first thing I see is a beautiful face, a woman who exudes sensuality and self-confidence.

I'm embarrassed to admit that when I look at the photo on the right, the first thing I see are fat rolls.

Here I am complaining that, at my current weight, I'm not acceptable to myself society and yet I am perpetuating the problem.

I debated closing comments for this post. There will be those who believe I've written this post in an attempt to generate compliments. I'm not sure I want to hear their negativity - it just adds to my own - and it couldn't be further from the truth.

What I want to hear is how those of you who DON'T think this way came to that place of self-acceptance. How do I change those strongly held convictions that no matter how "good" I might be on the inside, it's the outside that really matters?


25 January 2010

Mistakes Are Yours To Make


Hey! Come here! Can we talk? There are a few things bloggers do that I find extremely annoying. Now, I realize that I am NOT a blogging expert, that I am NOT the blogging police and the blogging world is NOT full of people who are even the least bit concerned about what irritates me, but ... but ...

Here's the deal. Chances are these things don't just irritate me, but irritate a lot of people. No! Really! And they might even be keeping people away from your blog, something a lot of us claim doesn't bother us ... right after we blog about how no one reads us anyway so we might as well quit blogging.

Here, in no particular order, is my top ten list:

1. Slow load times. Some blogs are so laden with "stuff" that they take more than 3.7 seconds FOREVER to load. Vinny, over at The Big Leather Couch recently discovered he had a problem with this (and quickly made the changes to address it). If your blog is slow loading, I'm not going to take the time to wait so that I can read it then leave a comment. How do you check page load times? Free tools, of course! An easy tool to use (with TONS of information) is available [HERE] at Pingdom.

2. Word verification. Seriously people, most of us have no need for word verification. Yes there are bots out there that will generate unrelated comments, but they are usually anonymous commenters. Disable the ability for anonymous comments (I had to do this just last week) and get rid of your word verification. If you make it difficult to comment, I won't!

3. Truncated reader feed. Most people who read blogs regularly have them set up as feeds in a reader. If you are supplying a truncated feed, you had better be able to catch my attention in your first few sentences. Most of you don't succeed. I'm not going to click on your blog entry if I'm not interested in the first few sentences, and I might miss a great post. Usually, folks who do this are caught up in number 4 on this list.

4. Stat counter obsession. GUILTY! If you have dedicated entire posts to informing your readers of your latest blog stats, you are wrong. We don't care how many hits you had yesterday. It doesn't matter how you attempt to phrase your gloating it, or what your motivations are, it comes across as tooting your own horn and NO ONE enjoys reading it! Self-promotion gets old after a while.

5. Using social media for nothing more than announcing your posts. I use TwitterFeed to announce my blog posts on twitter. There is nothing wrong with using social media as a tool to increase readership, but if it's the only time you show up on Twitter or Facebook, you are wrong.

6. Being too apologetic. When many of your blog posts start with "Sorry I haven’t written for so long," it's either time to dedicate yourself to more regular posting, or it's time to quit blogging. We all go through times when we need a break, but none of us want to read an apology blog.

7. Changing the location of your blog. It is only a handful of bloggers who ever "outgrow" the blogging platform they originally started on. If you are moving your blog every three months because your neighbor found you, or the guy you were dating told all of his creepy friends about your HNT pics and now you need to hide, it's time to consider why you blog. I'm not going to follow you from place to place.

8. Focusing on quick traffic rather than loyal readers. GUILTY! There are some weekly memes that encourage reader loyalty and bring in loyal readers, and some that do little more than generate high numbers for a day. If you are spending more time trying to get those spikes in your stats than you are about growing your readership, you're just stroking your own ego.

9. Writing for search engines instead of your readers. You can always tell when a blogger decides Search Engine Optimization is the key to becoming a famous blogger. Titles don’t make sense, keywords appear in posts for no real reason. SEO is another great blogging tool, but when I start feeling like SEO has become more important than me as a reader, I'm moving on.

10. Not Replying To Comments. GUILTY! (on my Project 365 blog) Blogs are two-way communication tools, but many bloggers forget that. Just as you want your blogging validated, readers want to be validated too. ANSWER THEM! Maybe you can't get to all of the comments every day, but at least make an effort to get to most of them most days. If you aren't going to respond to comments then at least be courteous enough to disable comments from your posts.

Any of you guilty of any of these? Got justifications for why you do them or think I'm being too anal retentive, obsessive-compulsive, picky? Tell me! Tell me!


24 January 2010

Sunday Secret



22 January 2010

Friday Wrap-Up


What a week! It's been a busy and emotionally draining few days. I've had to come face-to-face with the results of my decisions over the past few days, and although there is a strong sense of moving forward, it still takes a lot out of me.


Monday I had the opportunity to face the results of my financial decisions. Sure, many of those financial decisions were based on Husband controlling finances, but that does not absolve me of the responsibility for those debts. I hired an attorney and will be filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

I had hoped to avoid this situation, but even with Husband covering the mortgage, I cannot make minimum payments on my credit cards, make student loan payments AND keep a roof over our heads and food on the table.

It's ironic that, before I moved out, Husband told me, "I could have helped you but you needed to learn a lesson" (I won't even get into how wrong that statement is) yet when he discovered my name was coming off the mortgage with the filing of the bankruptcy (don't worry Karen, I'm still on the title and am protecting my interest in the asset) he started to panic. Guess he had the opportunity to live with the decisions he made too!


Tuesday was the PTO meeting I was dreading. Turned out my strategy of just getting through the next few months and focusing on the future was a good one. The only little hiccup was during Walk-A-Thon planning discussions. Seems good business sense tells these folks that when the economy is bad - when you are concerned about raising less money in the event - you should RAISE the minimum pledge amount.

I think I may have gotten them to rethink their position when I mentioned that doubling the minimum pledge requirement for participation might just decrease participation by more than 50%. The complete ignorance of the fact that not everyone lives the life that they enjoy is beyond frustrating, especially when they flat out deny that doing something like this negatively impacts the segment of our students who most need to feel connected and supported by the school.


Speaking of school ...

After being called into the principal's office for making a teacher cry AND causing her to lose sleep, I've decided to handle that situation a wee bit differently as well. What began as me advocating for Cam has deteriorated into a power struggle between me and the school, and Cam is caught in the middle.

I am emotionally disengaging from the situation having come to the realization that it really doesn't matter if I am right or wrong, unless I approach this from what the school is legally required to do, it's just going to continue to be unresolved. Cam starts a new term Tuesday and I have enlisted the services of an advocate to attend Cam's IEP meeting with me the first week of February. This time my ducks are in a row ... I think.


My favorite picture this week from my Dana Does Digital Project 365 blog??

Have a great weekend everyone!


21 January 2010

Thursday 13


It's that time of the week again ... although I could have sworn it was Saturday when my alarm went off this morning! Yeah ... wishful thinking!

For the most part, I've handled the emotions of the move well, but there are times when I find myself missing THE House and THE Family. Usually, I quickly come to the realization that what I really miss is what I hoped they would be - not what they were. As an exercise in reality, I thought I'd post this list:

~ Thirteen things I DON'T miss about THE House and THE Family ~

1. Cleaning litter boxes. I do miss my three kitties, but I don't miss being the only one who ever did the "dirty work" for them.

2. Scheduling my bath/shower to insure husband had enough hot water for his shower.

3. Walking through the garage and seeing the unfinished 1974 VW Bug project car that was purchased in 2004 and remains unfinished even though over $10,000 has been put into tools and parts to finish it.

4. Hearing the garage door open in the evening and bracing myself for the chaos that would likely ensue if husband had a bad day.

5. Having dinner ready at 7:00PM only to have Husband show up at 9:00PM without so much as a phone call to let me know he was going to be late.

6. Listening to Husband yell at the cats for meowing ... they are cats!

7. Living as a single parent in a two-parent family.

8. Watching Cam go without while Delaney's every whim was satisfied.

9. Hiding my passions because they were usually ridiculed.

10. Being told I was not deserving of Husband's affections.

11. Seeing Cam pick up some of husband's undesirable behaviors and attitudes.

12. Being required to leave the grocery receipt on the counter for examination.

13. Asking Husband for a hug and often times being denied (but I do miss hugs - terribly).


20 January 2010

It Isn't Easy Being Green


Growing up in Seattle, I've always had tree hugger roots. Get it? Tree hugger ROOTS? I can hear the collective groan as y'all read this.

Anyway, that part of the country has always been a little more aware of the environment and our impact on it. Maybe it's the fact that Washington has it's very own rain forest, or maybe it has something to do with all of the rain causing mold on brain. Either way, the three R's - Reuse, Reduce, Recycle - were drilled into my head from an early age.

As is sometimes the case, this desire to be ecologically responsibility has ebbed and flowed over the years - mostly ebbing the past six years. There was quite a bit of mocking and ridiculing that went on when husband and I were together, and responsible consumerism was one of those things that was often mocked and ridiculed. Rather than stick to my values, I gave in to the pressure of wanting to be loved and accepted.

Over the past 6 weeks, I have been living the life that matters to me. Often times I don't even realize what is happening until I just feel good about some goofy thing and then start over-analyzing reflecting on why I'm feeling that way. It is usually the result of doing something that is important to me without having to be concerned about being mocked. Living the "Reuse, Reduce, Recycle" lifestyle in one of those things.

The other day I stumbled upon an article over at The Alternative Consumer discussing 5 easy ways to be a better consumer in 2010. Now I'll be the first to admit that some of the "Go Green" websites are WAY over the top, but this one seems to be pretty mainstream for the most part, offering sensible ideas and products to help us all be more aware and responsible consumers. Their top 5 (with my sensible adaptations)?

1. Smarter buying habits, as in, Do I really need this? This one is easier for some of us than it is for others. If you don't have a lot of disposable income many times you are asking yourself, "Which of these things do I need most?" But if you're in a position where you are trying to decide whether you should buy the new DROID because you are eligible for your "New-Every-Two" upgrade, or if you should keep your original LG Chocolate that, although not cool looking, does absolutely everything you need it to, opt to wait on the upgrade until your phone no longer works (Can you tell I had that conversation with myself recently?). It's true! You really can text without the use of a QWERTY keyboard!

2. Buy local and seasonal foodsLocal Harvest has a great website that allows you to find local Farmer's Markets and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs. When you buy local and seasonal you not only get better quality, but you help reduce the use of fossil fuels to transport consumables from across the country - or the world.

3. Fashion – I've learned that I get just as much use from clothing I purchase at thrift and consignment stores as I do from that brand spankin' new "Made in Indonesia" shirt hanging on the rack in WalMart. Yes, I do have to commit to taking the time to sort through a lot of trash to find a treasure, but the hunt is part of the reward.

4. Reuse, Recycle – It will cost you a few minutes, but finding a place to donate that old cell phone or that CRT monitor not only helps someone in need, but it keeps heavy metal laden electronics out of the landfills. I have become a HUGE fan of my local FreeCycle groups. FreeCycle allows me free access to items I might need that someone else has no use for, and allows me to give items I no longer need or use a new life rather than a permanent home in a landfill.

5. Product Lifecycle – This one is difficult for me, but I'm working on it. I find that my recycle bin is 80% plastic product packaging. The experts claim you should evaluate how a product is made, where it comes from and what makes up its component parts, and purchase the "greener" versions. I'm working on it.

*NOTE* You can find the entire article [HERE]

Do tell! Do you think the whole "save the planet" movement is idiotic? Do you try to do little things to lessen your impact on the environment? Or are you one of those organic clothes wearing, cloth diaper using, free range chicken eating people?


19 January 2010

Reach-Out or Hand-Out?


I work just 2 miles from where I live, and with a one-hour lunch, it makes sense to come home for lunch. As a bonus, I get to watch some of that quality day-time TV while I'm here. My favorites? Wife Swap or Cheaters (only because Jerry Springer isn't on until later in the afternoon).

As I was watching yesterday I saw a commercial for ReachOut Wireless. Have you heard about this? It's a government program that is designed to provide discounted or free cell phone service to income-eligible consumers. It includes a FREE cell phone, FREE minutes every month and services like Caller ID, Texting, and Voicemail.

Here's what I find disturbing. Guess how "Income-Eligible" is defined? The web site says you generally qualify if you are currently enrolled in a government assisted program such as:

* Food Stamps
* Medicaid
* Federal Public Housing Assistance or Section 8
* Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
* Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
* National School Free Lunch Program
* Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)

Really? So now the government is rewarding those on government assistance with FREE cell phone service? Someone please explain to me how this encourages anyone to try to do better for themselves. Lose your food stamps - lose your cell phone. Lose your Section 8 public housing - lose your cell phone. I'm thinking if you want to keep your cell phone you better stay in public housing and on food stamps!

As I was navigating the website in utter disbelief, I started reading the ABOUT US section. In part it read (emphasis mine):

REACHOUT WIRELESS™ believes that cell phone ownership is a right and an important tool for individual success in today’s world. Everyone should have a cell phone without the need for a contract or a high credit rating. People should have the right to always know what their cell phone service will cost and no one should have to pay more than they want or can afford. REACHOUT WIRELESS™ believes in making the cost to own & maintain a cell phone as low as possible.

*shakes head*

Cell phone ownership is a right? I love my country, but when I read about programs like this, I really worry about the future. We've clearly broadened the definition of right from basic needs and freedoms to materialistic wants.

What do you guys think of this? Is it a good program or is it yet another handout that keeps people dependent on the government?


18 January 2010

I Need To Let This Go


I am usually pretty good at stating my opinion on things, and then letting them go. When I don't have an opportunity to discuss something that has upset me, I tend to obsess mull it around in my little head for far too long. I've had one of those issues for about six months now. My guess is that neither of these people even read the blog any longer (it was amazing how many readers I lost when Cam and I finally moved out), but this isn't being done for them. I'm being selfish today. Pardon me while I do a little brain purging.

When I was still with husband, there were two very verbal (via email usually) commenters on my situation (no, not my favorite trolls Snugs and DoggyBloggy). It's fair to say that any negativity I hear hurts my heart, but when someone is completely off base, yet believes they are right - when those same people take those beliefs out publicly, spew them to mutual friends, claiming they *know* things that I am too embarrassed to publish in the blog - when they claim I am abusing my son - that is beyond hurtful. That is simply hateful.

There were many accusations that I was so greedy - so materialistic - that I was choosing money and a big house over the safety and well being of my son. These accusations were so far off I didn't even know how to address them. Even funnier, one of those making the accusations has admitted spending issues that have put her own family in financial peril. The other one routinely plays the single mother, financial sympathy card, then boasts about traveling without her children to meet up with friends.

Now, I am open minded enough to take into consideration that, in both these cases, what I "know" is limited to what each of them has shared publicly. That there might, indeed, be more to the situation than what they've shared. Neither of these people - people I've know through blogging for years - could find it in themselves to give me that same consideration. Instead they spread half truths to mutual friends via Facebook, through email and in person. I cannot think of any possible good for this type of behavior.

I share a great deal on this blog. I regularly bare my soul and expose my shortcomings. I don't post things in an attempt to make myself look good. In fact, it's not unusual for me to post very painful personal flaws. I do this not as an invitation to be beat up, but because we all have those flaws and I believe the only way to make ourselves better people is to face the reality of those flaws.

I live in a world where I've seen, first hand, the the damage and destruction gossip brings. I've heard all of the excuses these types of people make for their actions, none of which make any logical sense. I have spent far too much time and energy wondering what motivated these people to do the things they did and have come to the realization that I will NEVER understand their motivations - and that is a good thing.

Although I've all but eliminated both of these people from my cyber life, occasionally our paths cross. I'll read a comment they've made on a blog we both read, or I'll see another blogger post some glowing recognition of one of them. I want to just SCREAM at the top of my lungs what arrogant, hateful things these people have done to me behind closed doors.

But I don't, and the only reason I don't is because if I do, I become just like them. And that thought is far worse than knowing the things these people have said and done when they thought no one was looking.


17 January 2010

Sunday Secret



15 January 2010

Friday Wrap-Up


It's been one heck of a week. I have been drowning in school issues surrounding Cam. Not only did I have issues with the homework website and Cam's math teacher, but those resulted in me receiving the following email from the principal:

From now on, I would prefer that any correspondence with the core teachers come through me. I will make sure your concerns are brought to the teachers attention in a timely fashion and that the teacher responds to the concerns through me. Hopefully this will help eliminate some of the tension that is occurring. This would only apply to the core teachers. Feel free to e-mail [the vice principal], [the social worker], or [Cam’s special education case worker] and continue to cc me when you e-mail them.

Anyone want to guess how well that went over? If you guessed, "Like a turd in a punchbowl" you'd be right! You want involved parents, but you won't let me correspond/contact the teachers directly? You've got to be kidding. Off to the school I went.

The good news is that within 45 minutes the issue was resolved. In other words, I will be corresponding/contacting the teachers directly. The bad news is that I made the math teacher cry - apparently several times and over a period of 3 days - because she felt I was questioning her professionalism and integrity. She was right! I was!

This came down to my lack of warm-fuzzy communication. As I told the principal, I communicate directly so that I can resolve issues and move forward. I don't have time to make sure no one's feelings get hurt. Doing the warm-fuzzy thing just muddles the communications.

I was told I should consider trying harder to be nice. I responded that the Math teacher should consider trying to grow a thicker skin. I heard a lot about it being an uneven playing field - parents can question the actions/abilities of teacher but teachers cannot question the actions/abilities of parents. I agree. That is the case. It's what happens when you choose to go into any service type industry whether that be working in retail or being a teacher. I have empathy, but it doesn't change anything.


Husband switched from drama-free to drama-inducing this week. He called me Sunday night and just let into me about finances. Seemed overly concerned about how my "uncontrollable spending" (i.e. his refusal to contribute to BASIC household expenses) might require him to pay off my debt. I really wanted to hang up on him right after explaining that marriage meant it wasn't his debt and my debt, but rather our debt and he should have considered that when he was telling me he could have helped but felt he needed to teach me a lesson. Instead, I sat there quietly and repeated, "I am taking care of my finances. You need not be concerned."

I did call him back about 30 minutes later to ask if something happened that I needed to be aware of. Did a creditor show up at the door? Had someone called? He explained that he was under a great deal of stress and his actions had NOTHING to do with me. He then told me he thought to himself, "Wow! I was really being a dick!" about 10 seconds after he hung up the phone. I told him that I was thinking that about 10 seconds into the conversation.

Umm ... hello? Did it ever dawn on you that might be a problem you needed to work on? Personally, I think he now has no one to dump on like he had when Cam and I were living in the house and that is EXACTLY why he called and dumped on me. It was a gentle reminder - at a perfect time - as to why I left.


I'm off to another church conference with Cam this weekend. You might remember
the Birds, Bees and Purity post from this time last year. This is the second conference in that series - this year dealing with manners and modesty. It starts tonight with a "formal" (i.e. Cam has to wear a tie) dinner at which I will be Cam's "date". He will learn about taking his date's coat, pulling out her chair, etc. Cam should do exceptionally well in this portion of the conference. I am, after all, the manners maniac.

I am really looking forward to the modesty portion of this conference, especially since I have one of those low pants wearing, walk like a penguin to keep them from falling completely off, kids. When he is with me, Cam knows I better not see his underwear hanging out of his jeans. He can wear his pants low, but he better have a shirt long enough to cover what should be covered by his pants. I have no doubt this requirement is overlooked when I am not within screaming distance.

I also have pretty significant issues with modesty of middle school girls. Seriously, have you seen some of the stuff the 12-14 year old crowd is wearing? Padded and push-up bras, cleavage bearing tops, bare midriffs, jeans so low the red lace thong hangs out like a whale tail when they sit down. I'm so glad I don't have a girl!

Anyway, there will be a fashion show - kind of a DO's and DON'T's, if you will, with the adults wearing over-exaggerated versions of inappropriate middle school dress, and actual middle schoolers wearing a more modest version of the same outfit. Should prove to be quite interesting!


Don't forget I've got the Project 365 blog - Dana Does Digital. I post a picture a day, a quote and a little blurb about the events that led up to the picture. It's kind of like a Facebook status update blog style. Here is yesterday's photo:


14 January 2010

Show and Tell


It's that time of the year again - Delurker Day! Anyone willing to expose themselves??


This was kind of fun last week so I thought I'd do it again!

~Thirteen things I'd like to do but will likely let some
irrational fear keep me from accomplishing

1. Play clarinet or saxophone in a community band after not playing for almost 30 years

2. Get my Commercial Drivers License

3. Spend a year living in abroad with Cam, preferably in Africa

4. Go to law school

5. Become an LPN (I still haven't decided what I want to be when I grow up)

6. Show my photography in the gallery at church

7. Take oil painting classes

8. Buy a "hobby" farm and live off the land

9. Spend our summers as Work Camper's

10. Learn to speak Spanish

11. Move back to Washington

12. Become a CASA volunteer

13. Fall in love


12 January 2010

Public (School) Nuisance


I have one of those kids that doesn't do well in the traditional school environment. I have no doubt that some of that is due to environmental factors. It would be foolish to think that seven years of single parenting topped off with another seven years of living in an abusive environment haven't shaped Cam's personality. When you add in neurological issues (for those who aren't aware, Cam has been diagnosed with both Aspergers (an autism spectrum disorder) and ADHD - you can read about that HERE and HERE) you've got teachers that struggle, a parent that struggles AND a kid that struggles, for success in the school. Frustrating doesn't begin to describe it.

I haven't always been diligent on my end of things. There have been times when I was so preoccupied with my own struggles that I pretty much became hands off with Cam's education. That hasn't helped the situation. One of the things I was looking forward to with the move was getting a grip on this again.

Cam struggles with organization. This isn't uncommon for kids Cam's age, but with his additional neurological challenges, it becomes a critical issue. Not only does it negatively impact his performance in class, but it makes just getting the homework home half of the homework battle.

Thank goodness for the internet, right? Most schools, including Cam's, have websites now that allow parents to see what homework is assigned as well as checking grades in "real" time. Cam's school also has almost all of his text books available online making homework accessible even when he forgets his books. These tools are invaluable for kids like Cam and parents like me ... as long as they are updated.

In the past, I've had problems with the homework website being updated. There have also been significant issues with the Parent Portal (real time grades) containing accurate information, but when I've attempted to address these issues with the school I've gotten the proverbial brush off.

Since Cam returned to school after the Christmas break, I've made a dedicated effort to keep on top of the homework issue. Each day I check the homework website and save a screen shot of the information. I print that out and hold Cam accountable for completing the work.

Each morning I send an email to all of Cam's teachers confirming the listed homework was done and attaching scanned copies of the homework (this is one of the accommodations listed in Cam's educational plan - teachers are required to accept scanned homework as well as the homework Cam physically turns in). Yes, this is cumbersome, but it's what has to be done to keep Cam successful. When no homework is listed on the website, I include that information in the email I send.

School has been back in session now for six days. Of those six days, the homework website has been accurate only three days. Two of the days there was absolutely NOTHING listed on the website, the other day there were two teachers who didn't include homework assignments for that day. Looking at the Parent Portal, I discovered that Cam had taken a grade hit on all three of those days.

Fortunately, I save all correspondence with the school/teachers and fired off an email yesterday that said, in part:

I have been extremely diligent with checking the Team 8B website daily, insuring Cam's homework is completed, scanning and emailing all homework to teachers when it is due. I don't believe it is reasonable that Cam is receiving reduced grades for items that have been emailed to you when due and/or for homework assignments that never appear on the Team 8B homework website.
I know ... I know ... more drama, but the lack of accountability in this school drives me nuts. I understand that Cam is not an easy kid. I get that, at 13, most kids are getting their homework written down in their planner and the homework website isn't so critical. But Cam is not "most" kids.

It frustrates me to no end that teachers want to hold kids accountable, yet they don't want to be accountable to parents. Yeah ... yeah ... I know ... teachers (at the middle school level) have 100+ kids to keep track of. They make mistakes. They can't give each kid special attention. Blah, blah, blah. I've heard the excuses and they are just that - excuses.

I am a parent who (usually) is extremely involved in my child's education. I have been a member of the PTO for three years now. I regularly communicate with teachers and administrators to address issues as they come up. I attempt to support the teachers and administrators in an effort to promote a united front in Cam's education. I am held accountable for my actions or inactions by those same teachers and administrators, so why is it that they are not accountable to me?

I will be pleasantly surprised if anyone from the school takes some ownership of this issue. My guess is that I'll hear a lot of "I told Cam ..." which somehow absolves them of all responsibility to tell me.



11 January 2010

A Shot of Mommy Wants Vodka


I don't know how many of you read mommy bloggers. Quite frankly, I find most of them to be ... well ... dull. But there is one exception - Aunt Becky from Mommy Wants Vodka. Aunt Becky is actually my neighbor. Shush! 30 miles is still a neighbor when you live in the puckies! She's smart, she's funny and she is probably pretty pissed that I lumped her in with mommy bloggers even though she's what I consider an "altered" mommy blogger. Maybe it's the vodka?

So, she's been doing all sorts of cool stuff on the internets lately. In addition to her blog, she now has a group on Savvy Source (Aunt Becky's Band of Merry Pranksters). I've not had the best of luck with online mommy groups, primarily because they all want you to believe that they never force their kids to eat cold macaroni & cheese and hot dogs right out of the package for dinner. In other words, they all want you to believe they are perfect. Aunt Becky brings reality back to mommy-dom ... and I love her for it.

I'm babbling again, aren't I? Focus ... fucus ...

Aunt Becky is having this contest and one of the demands things that will get you an entry is completing her little personal interview. Although I'd love to win the $50 Amazon.com gift card, I'm actually doing the interview because her questions were friggin' hilarious. You don't believe me? Cross my heart, hope to die ... you know the rest ...


1) Dave and I have a long-standing feud over cheese in a can. He thinks it’s food of The Gods while I think it’s probably Of The Devil. Your take?

What's that you say? You think in order for cheese to qualify as food it must require refrigeration and have the ability to grow mold? Pfffttt! Cheese in a can is a delicacy and is best served on fried SPAM - especially if you use the decorative tip and make little cheese flowers.

2) Is there any way you can think of to make the elder Gosselins go away? I AM ALL EARS.

Ahhh John & Kate ...

I say we (well, not ME, but all of you wackos that watched the damn show) created this monster. Your punishment is to live with the elder Gosselin's until their children turn 18, or until you learn to turn off reality TV!

3) Who is your ridiculous “I can’t admit this to anyone in polite company lest I be banned from life” crush?

I am not one to have celebrity crushes. Hell, I can't even put a name to the face of most of today's celebrities. I'm lame like that. But I have ALWAYS had a thing for this man:

I wouldn't even tell him to pull his pants up. Instead, I'd just pull them the rest of the way down!

4) If you could fuck it all and pursue your dream (assuming, of course, you were going to be GOOD at it), what would that dream be?

OK ... I know this might surprise some of you, but I would be a long-haul truck driver. Seriously. And this has absolutely nothing to do with my other “I can’t admit this to anyone in polite company lest I be banned from life” crush Lisa on Ice Road Truckers. I had the dream first damn it!

Imagine ... me driving a semi, Cam riding shotgun. I could home school him at truck stops from coast to coast. Geography would be his specialty.

I'd even know enough about my truck that I could fix it myself rather than having to look all cute and everything, parked on the side of the road, hoping the "manly" truckers would stop and help me. And no! It has nothing to do with the fact that I couldn't look cute if I tried! And no! I'm not jealous bitter! *grumble*

5) They say “living well is the best revenge.” I think they are wrong. Do you?

I think it depends on how you define "living well." If that means heading down to the pawn shop to pick up a shotgun, then off to WalMart for some ammunition. Well? They might be right!

6) What is the most humiliation you’ve experienced in public that you’d be willing to admit to The Internet?

I've got 45 years of humiliation, most of which the internet already knows because that's how I play the blogging game.

There was the time I made a heart shaped cake for my parents on Valentine's Day and, due to limited decorating space, wrote "Happy VD" on the top.

Or the time we were on a family vacation, traveling through the Grand Canyon making a stop at a crowded observation point and when I got out of the truck I announced (very loudly), "It's so hot I could ejaculate!"

Or maybe you find poop funny? Growing up in the Seattle area it wasn't unusual to find myself at the waterfront. One particular time when my mom and I were out and about a seagull took a dump on my head. My mother - the compassionate woman that she is - pointed at me and through uncontrollable laughter said, "I always knew you were a shit head!"

Is it any wonder I grew up into the fabulous person I am today??

7) Are you honest with The Internet? Like, if I came over to your house tonight (heh)(I’m coming over, yo)(heh) would I be surprised at who I found?

As you know, you *could* come over tonight being that we are neighbors and all, and you would find EXACTLY what you'd expect to find - I know that might terrify disappoint you!

8 ) If you could have one talent that you don’t currently possess, what would it be?

I'd like the talent of enjoying exercise. It has to be a talent, right?? I mean I've never seen a marathon runner with a smile on their face until after the race is over! That right there is talent!

9) There’s not always room for Jello. Is there?

Only if it's in a kiddie pool with half-nekkid women ... or in a shot glass!

10) What’s your guiltiest of the guilty pleasures?

Sushi. I know ... I know ... not very extravagant, but I love sushi and since I can't convince Cam that raw fish is a good thing, it's an event that allows me to go all by myself, drink Japanese beer, and fill up to the gills with raw fish! Nom - nom - nom!


08 January 2010

Friday Wrap-Up


A few of you asked how the IT server migration turned out last week. That wonderful idea to shut down the server that hosts the accounting software on the busiest day of the accounting year? Yeah ... well ...

They assured us they'd make our server the priority and it would be back up in 30 minutes. Can anyone guess how accurate that was? We were back up 1 hour and 47 minutes after they took us off-line. Even better? My employer let everyone go at 2:30PM on New Year's Eve and IT was walking out the door promptly at 2:30PM. Guess where I was? That's right ... sitting at my desk trying to get through the work that had to be completed before I left. I was here until 4PM.

Golly! If I'd have had that 1 hour and 47 minutes of WORK TIME during the WORK DAY, I could have left at 2:30PM too! Bitter? Just a wee bit.


Speaking of bitter and work ... We were notified today that the natural gas will be shut off to our building beginning at 11AM and will (hopefully) be turned back on at 1PM. This means we will have no heat in the building for those two hours. Granted, the IT department isn't in charge of this shut down so it might actually last only two hours, but again, is the middle of the word day the best time to do this?

I went to the "Big Dog" and inquired about making the day a "casual" Friday (we don't have those here - men are required to wear ties daily and women are encouraged to wear skirts/dresses) so that we might be better able to keep warm during the gas shut down. And the response was?? I'm wearing a dress today!


Thanks for all of the feedback on the PTO issue. I've decided that I will make my position on the matter clear, then let it go. I will vote against any measure that excludes any parent from being a voting member of the organization and will continue to use my "executive board" member vote to advocate for the student/parent population not represented by the PTO membership.

Then I'll be grateful that most of the "executive board" members have younger kids and will likely continue running the middle school PTO rather than moving on to the High School PTO!


Confession time ...

Remember when I told y'all that I was adding the Project 365 Blog (Dana Does Digital - if you haven't been over there you're missing out, so here is a little preview to entice you)?

Anyway, I mentioned that didn't foresee it changing anything about this blog. Well, that does seem to be the case, but something is changing this blog - LOD!

LOD you ask? Why yes! Lack Of Drama! I didn't realize how much I blogged about the craziness that my life had become until there wasn't so much craziness to blog about. Now I'm really struggling to come up with things to write about.

I must keep reminding myself this is a good thing!




07 January 2010

Thursday Thirteen


I needed a little inspiration this morning and remembered a little weekly meme called The Thursday Thirteen. It challenges you to blog a list of thirteen things - any thirteen things - on Thursday.

Cam and I have officially been in the new digs for a month now and I thought it might be fun to come up with a list of thirteen things I've learned since we moved into the apartment:

1. Dishwashers are not mandatory - doing dishes by hand is actually relaxing.

2. The laundromat is very quiet at 8AM on Sundays.

3. No one should be allowed to have 2 dogs and 5 cats in a 2-bedroom apartment.

4. The shrieking voice of the owner of the 2 dogs and 5 cats, yelling at the dogs to stop barking, is far more annoying than than the dogs barking.

5. Although parking spots are not assigned, there are expectations.

6. Neighbors who live upstairs have little concern for the noise they make when tromping down the metal staircase.

7. A dining room table is optional, and usually does little more than serve as a flat surface on which one piles stuff.

8. The world does not come to an end if you eat dinner in the living room.

9. A water heater small enough to fit under a kitchen counter contains enough hot water for a 14 minute, 27 second shower ... and no more.

10. Homework becomes less of a battle when you have control over the power cord for the Xbox.

11. It is possible to make bedsheets and thumbtacks look like stylish window coverings.

12. You can't bake too many batches of brownies.

13. It feels good to know the place you call home really is your home.


06 January 2010

Ignorance Isn't Bliss


I sometimes wonder what gift it is that people have that allows them to deal so well with ignorant people. All I know is that I don't have that gift. My solution? Grab them by the shoulders and shake them forcibly until the common sense settles in. Not surprisingly, people aren't usually receptive to that type of coercion.

I joined Cam's middle school PTO in hopes of eliciting change. I have always been one of those people who believes if you want the right to complain, you better roll up your sleeves and be willing to put in the work to address your complaints. Nothing frustrates me more than sideline parents - the ones who are quick to point out what they feel is wrong but when you give them an opportunity to be a part of the solution, they tell you why someone else should fix it.

There have been significant demographic changes in Cam's school the past three years. His first year there the school was still a middle school/high school (grades 6-12) with about 100 kids per grade level. When the district opened the new high school last year, they also adjusted the attendance boundaries for the middle school, pulling in kids from nearby, less rural communities. The face of the school changed drastically. What was once a student population that was 98% white is now a student population that is roughly 30% Hispanic - many of those households primarily Spanish speaking.

I saw this as a good thing - the lack of diversity in this area has always been a concern of mine. Unfortunately, the majority of the membership of the PTO (parents of that original 98% white student population) are uncomfortable with this change.

I attempted to bring in "outsiders" last year as when I took on the PTO President position, but became frustrated with a "core" group of parents (mothers) took it upon themselves to circumvent the PTO process and make decisions outside of the group. I should not have been surprised when that same "core" group took over leadership of the PTO this year.

After a rather contentious (i.e. I called them on their shit) November PTO meeting, I sent the following email to the current President and Vice President of the PTO:

L & S,

As was probably evident in our last meeting, I am EXTREMELY concerned with the direction in which the PTO seems to be moving. Rather than harbor ill feelings, I thought it was best to lay it all out here.

The issue surrounding only the "executive board" voting on PTO issues is HUGE for me. By nature, PTA's and PTO's tend to be exclusionary in their practices. In my opinion, it is those exclusionary practices that make it so much more difficult for us to get involvement at the middle school level. One of the things that drew me to the PTO here was the lack of formality - feeling like my voice mattered - that this wasn't some club for the stay-at-home moms where I just didn't fit in.

Now, I started feeling things changing last year when I was President. I have no doubt that logistics and friendships play more of a role in this than any blatant attempt to "control" the PTO, but the conversations that the two of you (and that often included the principal) were having last year outside of PTO meetings started to, in my opinion, compromise the integrity of the PTO. I know it wasn't intentional on the part of either of you, but it was not unusual to hear about a plan long after it had already been discussed outside of the confines of a PTO meeting.

I will tell you that in the few meetings we've had so far this year, I can't count the number of times a meeting topic was opened up with the words, "S I were talking ..." I realize that the two of you talk frequently - that your friendship extends outside of the PTO, but when it starts sounding like the two of you are making decisions outside of the group (decisions that impact the entire group) and then bringing them to a meeting after you've already decided how you'd like them to go, it feels exclusionary.

Now, maybe I'm the only one who feels this way - or maybe I'm the only one who would ever speak up - but experience tells me that if one person in a group is feeling a particular way, it's likely there are others who do to.

So, what now? I've been doing a lot of research on PTO/PTA/School Group bylaws and voting practices. There is a TON of information on the PTO Today website (www.ptotoday.com). Generally accepted practice for these types of groups is that ALL members of the PTO/PTA/School Group vote after a motion is made, seconded and discussed as long as there is a quorum present. The issue is one of proper procedure for voting rather than allowing only a handful of people to vote (I've attached a copy of "simplified" Robert's Rules).

Ultimately, the "executive" board members will decide, but I want you both to know that I will continue to advocate for ALL members of the PTO having a VOTING voice in how the group conducts business, what activities it supports and the direction we head in the future.

I've always believed the PTO should be a means to empower parents - to encourage them to participate in the education and growth of their child/children - to be a part of the educational community. I hope the PTO continues in that direction.

Let's just say that email didn't go over well. Seems both L & S were offended by my perspective and have now gone out of their way to exclude me from all PTO communications.

Cam has only 5 months left in this school. I'm not making any headway in altering the "elitist" attitudes of the PTO. Try as I might, I can't get them to see that the world is much bigger than their neighborhood and they are really limiting themselves by keeping "outsiders" away from the group.

Is it time to just drop this and move on as it will no longer directly impact me or Cam after this school year, or is it a fight worth continuing to fight?


05 January 2010

Is It the New Math?


Can we all agree that there never was a year zero?

I know ... I know ... no one really gives a hippopotamus poop, unless you happen to be an anal retentive, literal thinking math geek like me. C'mon! I know I've got to have at least one reader who can empathize with my struggle to let the truth be known!

I am tired of magazines, newspapers, television shows and *cough*BLOGS*cough* compiling their "Best of the Decade" lists, because ... the decade isn't over!!

That's right people, just admit it, there was no year zero. Now, I won't be one of those crazy Republicans who claims you're a Jesus hater if you consider 2010 to be the dawn of a new decade, but I will call you wrong. The first decade was a TEN year span from 1-10. The first century? A one-hundred year span from 1-100. And yes, that means the first millennium was years 1-1000. So why are you all insisting the decade ends when the new year's last number is "0"?

You don't seem to have any problem referring to midnight as 12:00 AM, and noon as 12:00 PM, although one would think that 12PM would follow 11PM, and 12 AM would follow 11 AM, but you refuse to admit that the decade doesn't start until next year?

So why the insistence that the new decade starts this year? I can only think of two possible reasons: (1) you don't know any better (but my readers are so smart this can't be the case); or (2) you are a bunch of lemmings who jumped off the decade cliff (again, just not possible if you are one of my readers). It's just not logical! Stop the madness!!

Look, I'll call it "twenty-ten" instead of "two-thousand-ten" if you'll just agree that the new decade doesn't start until NEXT year! Deal?

*EDIT* Thanks to one of my equally geeky readers, [HERE] is further proof that I am justified in my decade arrogance!


04 January 2010

Pardon Me While I Pull My Hair Out


Year end duties at work have my full attention right now. As soon as I sort through the muck I'll be back to piss you off entertain you!

You can always click on over to Dana Does Digital where you know you'll find a picture a day ... and even a few words to go along with them!


03 January 2010

Sunday Secret



01 January 2010

Friday Wrap-Up


Happy New Year!

2009 was an interesting year, to say the least! Some might find much that was wrong with it, yet I am one of those people who feels there really isn't such a thing as a "bad" year - just years that offer lessons and years that offer growth. I think 2009 held a little bit of both for me!

I'm not one who does the whole New Year's resolution thing. I prefer to do a little reflecting on how I can make myself a better person and keep those things in the front of my mind, striving towards them whether it is January 1st or August 17th.

I'm excited about this coming year. I've cut the ties that had been holding me down and look forward to see where this new life will take me.


Don't forget to visit the new Project 365 blog - Dana Does Digital! It's up and running with picture 1 of 365 posted.

I'm working on a blog roll of Project 365 blogs, so if you are participating and would consider your blog content to be rated R or under, leave me a comment and I'll add you to the list. I'm trying to keep the Project 365 blog somewhat family friendly!



And...here we go!

1. Last night I ate Chinese food, took a nap, then rang in the New Year with a great bunch of friends on Blog Talk Radio!
2. I am REALLY looking forward to this year.
3. The funniest thing I've heard in a long time was Kim attempting the ABC's in her intoxicated state last night.
4. I'm out of toilet paper ... so where do we go from here?
5. He said "What's up?"; she said obviously not you.
6. There's a golden ring on the carousel and it's up to us to find it.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to having no plans, tomorrow my plans include dinner with my step-daughter at husband's house and Sunday, I want to get laundry done and mentally prepare myself for the looming five month, gotta go to work every day, span of the year!