Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Inspired

3am, laying in bed and I can't shut off my mind.  For those of you that didn't know my Lauren, she was stubborn, she didn't give up easily when she knew she was right, she stood up for what she believed.  She had a heart of gold, held her heart to her chest, protective to a fault for those she loved.  She stood up against those who would tear down people she cared about, because it was the right thing to do, no matter the hits she may have received to herself. She would rather take the pain from the attacks on herself than to see someone else be hurt. God knows she wasn't perfect. She made bad choices, got herself into bad situations, but that's what you do when you are young. In so many ways that child is me.  I say is, though she's be gone for far to long, because she still lives in me.  She was the epitome of everything I could have hope for in a child. Beautiful, heart and soul, strong willed, righteous, opinionated and smart.  A beautiful soul who care more for others than herself.  Who knew that fighting for what was right was worth more than what she had to endure to gain the outcome.  I'm proud to say she got that from me.

She inspires me.

Its because of her, I go to church every week.  She understood that you don't have to be perfect to be loved, though in her teenage mind (and every single other teenage mind), she struggled with it.  She found in faith a love that knew no boundaries, no judgments only the judgments within yourself, that she and so many others (including myself) struggle with.

It is because of her I strive to teach the same values to all of my children. It is the choices you make that define you for the moment, not your life. You can make bad choices and still be loved.  I felt so much guilt that somehow I didn't do enough, say enough to show My Lauren how much she meant to me, how much I needed her, how proud I am of her, but she knows and she knew then. As much as I hate the thought, it was her time. She still inspires me.

I have been fighting the easy road of giving up. The temptation to let others take the wheel is so great. I've had to re-evaluate my life, but never my heart.  She inspires me not to give up, to be the person that she herself emulated so gloriously in her own most beautiful way, me.

She was and always will be her mother's daughter.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Ah crap...I think I started something again...

Remember when I mentioned that Pirate Monkey can't read a calendar, yeah, totally wasn't kidding.  As I was literally typing up my post from last night, guess who called? She called my phone, KSA's phone and our house phone, didn't leave a message on any of them.  I guess KSA called her back and she thought she was supposed to get the kids back tomorrow (ah no, we've only had them a week, remember? you have them for two weeks then we have them for two weeks). By the time KSA had called her back, she realized her mistake. So much for a courtesy call or message saying "nevermind."  In my medicated stupor (under doctor's care - I have wicked back problems - several herniated discs, a half a disc from surgery relating to an accident almost 19 years ago and degenerative disc disorder throughout my entire back which were seriously aggravated when we were trying to resuscitate My Lauren) I didn't realize that KSA had talked to Pirate Monkey last night. So I texted her this morning. A few minutes later, KSA got home from picking up our Bountiful Basket order and I realized that he did talk to her, so I texted her back saying "oops, sorry didn't realize you talked to.... already." Innocent, right?

Yeah, well, the last time that kind of thing happened I thought I was supposed to pick up the kids and woke up to a flooded bathroom.  I texted her saying that I was running late and why.  As I was going to get the wet vacuum, I realized that KSA wasn't at work (he works from home) so it clicked that he was already picking up the kids. So I texted her back saying "oops sorry I didn't realize .... was already on his way." Apparently by the time she had gotten my texts KSA was getting the kids in the car at her house and she came out screaming (in front of the kids) about stuff completely separate from the fact I had texted her. So not kidding, so much so Blue thought it necessary to get out of the car to try and calm his mom down. Really? What the hell happens at her house that Blue thinks its necessary and appropriate to intervene?  He's an awesome kid, a total peace maker and a pretty good negotiator, but its not his job to calm his mother down like that.

Sigh, that's what I get for taking my meds.  Ugh I hate those things, but I need to walk upright and be able to do stuff, thankfully I have it timed that another adult is around when the meds really kick in so for that hour that I'm a little too happy for my own comfort level.  I've insisted with my doctor that my med levels are at the lowest possible dosage, so I am still able to function, but relatively pain free.  I'd rather deal with some pain then be drugged up around my kids.  As a result of the meds, I have trouble remembering things outside of the regular routine and mornings can be frustrating when I forget I've talked to KSA about something the night before but it doesn't click in my head until later and the oopsie texts occur.

So I guess we'll have to see what this oopsie text caused, hopefully nothing, but historically speaking I have a feeling we are going to have another hissy fit session. sigh....

Friday, January 20, 2012

Pirate Monkey is my friend.....

Uhmmm not so much.

So, again, its been forever since I posted anything, well forever in an internet sense of the word.  I haven’t been necessarily busy, more frustrated than anything else. The mix between taking care of kids, home and trying to accomplish tasks that I have put off because they are either very time consuming and/or emotional draining and avoiding these same tasks while feeling guilty for the avoidance mechanism, then on top of it dealing with the Knight in Shining Armor’s ex and her obsessive need to control and dictate our time with the kids.  You know, because in her mind that how it works in a joint custody situation.  Needless to say, raising My Lauren on essentially my own for the majority of her life with little financial help from her dad (part of which was agreed upon- not looking for a pity party), doesn’t lend me to take that kind of crap from anyone, especially when I have been a major part of Moo’s and Blue’s lives for a better part of 7 years.  Beyond the kids, I have a tendency to be very loyal to my husband (I know – who da thunk it?) especially when he’s being verbally attacked by a psycho-bimbo from hell who has walked away from her children (4 of the 6) not once, not twice but three times in their short little lives, but she’s the victim. Yeah I’m a little bitter, a little holier-than-thou about this one.  But being the bigger person who loves her step-kids more than bio-bitch mom will ever understand, I haven’t ripped her a new one (figuratively or physically) though she most certainly deserves it.  Especially when she tries to use my dead daughter to garner my symphony for her, sadly I’m not kidding or exaggerating. 

So, for the past couple of months we have been seeing a counselor for “family therapy,” with Pirate Monkey (my new code name for her) and her significant other (S.O.).  S.O. is a good guy, kind of like KSA, as I am pretty sure Pirate Monkey hasn’t changed much since the stories KSA told me about when he was with her, S.O. is either a saint or a sadist.  In this particular instance, I doubt there is much of a difference.  Thus far, the therapy sessions have either been Pirate Monkey having screaming hissy fits, where she has been literally kicked out of the room or just simply on the verge of said hissy fits, literally shaking as she speaks and EVERYTHING we may say is a direct attack against her all the while KSA and I are sitting calmly and desperately trying to keep our mouths shut, not to make it worse.  I wish I was kidding.  The last few times we’ve exchanged the kids (from their house to ours and vice versus) she’s avoided contact (thank God) and left it up to S.O. Prior contact over the last few months, she’s either tried to start an altercation (at school no less) or came out screaming at KSA in front of the kids.  If I was truly an evil person (and you have NO idea how tempting it is) it wouldn’t take much to say something to send her over the edge, but as I am CONSTANTLY reminding myself, “we are here for the kids, as much as it would feel good to get all of your frustrations out, it’s not going to ultimately help the kids.”  Did I mention this therapy was my idea? Maybe I’m the sadist… (yeah, I don’t want to think about that one *shudder*)

Anywho, this last session seemed to have some progress, but then again we thought there was some progress after we had a sit down with Pirate Monkey and S.O.  a month or so before the therapy began.  This time S.O. was doing the talking, trust me there was a collective sigh of relief and the tension in the room seemed to lessen so much so, my smile was truly genuine.  Mama Bear retracted her claws a little bit.  Essentially this particular meeting was about scheduling and they brought up a suggested schedule for the first half of the year.  On the surface it looks fair, though I need to crunch the numbers to ensure it and noting the fact the woman has to use a calculator on 3rd grade math and normally can’t read a calendar, yeah I’m crunching the numbers.  I really hope it works out, it’s not going to pretty (on her end) if we have an objection.  Sad part is on first look, it doesn’t seem like it’s going to work out quite the way she wants it to. Sigh, looks like mama bear is going to have to grin and bear it, again. Ba da dum cha! 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A family catch phrase and cheap chicken!

I love stumbling upon writing inspirations.  Even a little thing like a comment from someone I've never met on a blog I've only recently started stalking  following, can be the catalyst for inspiration.

When my brothers and I were younger, we were not the wealthiest family on the block, not even close.  We weren't poor per say, but we weren't given everything we wanted whenever we wanted. Instead of Atari (yes, I'm THAT old) we got the off brand for Christmas, though it did come with some games I think we actually had the Donkey Kong or maybe it was called Donkey King, but at that age I had NO idea what the real one looked like. My brothers and I couldn't wait to be older and have jobs, so we could buy the things we really wanted.

I was about 5 or 6 years old when my older brother, D, was in the Phoenix Boys Choir.  It was quite the coveted position apparently, especially the mustard colored jacket. Oh that thing was ugly with a capital UG, but it was important to my brother.  Other than the exorbitant fees for the privilege of being in the PBC, the Choir would also go on a world-wide tour during the summer.  Again, I was pretty young at the time and don't remember how much it cost my parents, nor exactly how long the tour lasted, but I do remember the yard sales to pay for it and where in lies the family catch phrase: De-rust it, paint it and sell it!

A little back story, my dad was a "collector," ok, reality, now would be termed as a hoarder.  It started in the garage, moved to the family room - turned dad's "office", later to the back yard, and further down the line to the rental property (old family farm land, sold off during the years to the present size of 2 1/2 acres).  As a kid, it wasn't that noticeable, my mom kept it contained to only certain areas of the house, thankfully the rest of the house was normal and clean.  As a teenager, when  it finally started spreading to the backyard, it was embarrassing. I rarely had people over with the only exceptions being close friends, egad, the idea of a party was mortifying!!!

At the time of said yard sales, the hoarding was still relegated to the garage and his office.  All of us in the family contributed, we cleaned out our rooms and closets, my dad found all sorts of things to sell.  He was always the salesman, as long as I can remember he was always selling something, farm tools, insurance, vacuums and later on specialty car parts.  The yard sales were right up his alley.  After a few yard sales, we were still short on the money needed for my brother's trip.  We were running out of things to sell and time. So in comes the family catch phrase: de-rust it, paint it and sell it! My poor brothers spent many a weekend and week night fixing things up to sell, even after the trip was paid for and even if we weren't actually selling anything. Not surprisingly, today its the family joke, heck, my husband uses the phrase although my dad died a year before we met.  Getting rid of all of my dad's "collection" after he died is a whole other story!

Of all the things I've learned from my parents I think frugality has been the most useful, especially in today's economy and back I was really broke, after I had my eldest daughter, when I was feeding myself, her dad and Lauren on $25 a week!  When grocery shopping, I look for the best deals for the limited amount of money I have to spend. Whole chickens are our friends, especially when they are on sale!!! I've never been really good at roasting chickens.  I'm always fearful of under cooking them, so they have turned out dry, but thoroughly cooked.  Instead, following my mother's example, I would usually boil them.  My hubby isn't a fan, but hey, you get two things for the price of one; cooked chicken to use in a variety of dishes and chicken stock, bonus!!! Yes I know, in order to get a really good stock, one should boil the heck out of the chicken and the bones. then the chicken is pretty worthless at that point, but if you take the chicken out, de-bone it, then add the bones back in to the stock, you'll get a beautiful stock and some pretty tasty chicken to boot! Yeah there have been plenty of times where I missed that all important step of removing the chicken meat, but it was thoroughly cooked! =)

We received an older rotisserie from my mom a while back, yes one of those Ron Popeil Rotisseries.  Its pretty cool, we haven't done a whole lot in it, because its tucked away in the cabinet, so I tend to forget about it and its a monster! We have limited space on our counter top as it is, that thing takes up a lot of space! A couple of  weeks ago I pulled out a whole chicken out of the deep freeze, apparently we've been collecting them.  I've been picking up at least one or two, if they are one sale. Since the deep freeze is in another building on the property I forget to look to see what we have before I buy more.  Needless to say, we aren't going to starve anytime soon as long as we have electricity! After about three days of thawing, it was finally ready for the rotisserie.  Didn't do a darn thing to the chicken, beyond taking out the innards and rinsing it off. Stuck it on the pointy things (not a clue what those are called), slid it into the rotisserie and cranked it up.  A half hour to 45 minutes later (didn't keep track), perfection! At this particular meal, I was only feeding hubby, myself and Miss J. My step kids were at their mom's.  We were able to eat off that chicken for several meals.

I actually braved baking a chicken the other day and shockingly (to me) it turned out pretty well. Again, I didn't do much to it:  salt,  pepper, a little lemon pepper, dried rosemary, garlic powder, onion powder and 3 or 4 tablespoons of olive oil, inside the cavity and out.  Plopped it into a casserole dish that it barely fit in, breast up, 350* F for about 45 minutes. A meat thermometer is a beautiful thing! 175* - 8* in the thickest part of the thigh (try not to hit the bone) and the juices run clear. Take it out of the oven, let rest for 10 minutes (for the juices to redistribute and it continues cooking - it really does make a difference). Cut up and serve.  If you don't know how to cut up a chicken, there are some wonderful tutorials online.

Up Next: What to do with the left over chicken!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Makin' changes...

I've determined my blog is a little on the boring side...needs some spice...pictures might be a good idea, hell, even a new format, ack perhaps a few more tabs!!! So while I muddle my way through this, please bare with me.  Hubby is out of town (he's my technical genius) and I have NO idea what I am doing. Seriously - NO idea....

Apparently, the writing bug has bitten and my fresh brewed iced tea

Iced Tea conjures different visions not only in the States, but around the world. No, not the rapper, he's cool and all....

 (get it...cool...ice Tea/T...yeah?  *crickets*   sigh, my hubby is the one full of puny goodness; me, not so much)

I'm sure most countries who have been touched historically by the English Empire or further in history with the various Asian empires, have tea as part of their cultural heritage; the variants abound. Whether it is methods, breeds of tea or even if the tea leaf is even utilized, the same occurs in the States.  Throw in the question of temperature served, hot or cold, the possibilities are endless.  Southern Sweet Tea has become a very popular drink as of late, my personal preferences move toward my drink of choice not rotting out my teeth at the first sip, but that's me.  I also don't drink soda, so that should tell ya, yes I am that kind of person. I do however drink iced tea, and a whole lot of it. No kidding, a lot! Anywhere from a gallon to two a day and have been for a very long time.  My dad would get so upset with us (specifically me) for drinking all of "his" ice tea. At the time, I would scoff at it being "his," but now I get it...I rarely share "my" tea!

As a result, I am wickedly picky about my tea, ok... yes.... I know, its more like anal retentive. It can't be too sugary or not sugary enough and it MUST be brewed on the stove. There is a method of sun brewing tea, especially here in Arizona, otherwise known as Arizona Tea (not to be confused with the bottled tea company).  A couple of tea bags, usually a black/orange pekoe, a gallon size bottle/jug with a lid, fill the bottle with water, put in the tea bags in the water, seal the bottle with the lid and set out side in the sun for a few hours.  For some, this is the best kind of tea, personally I think it tastes sour and no amount of sugar or ice can mask it.   If we go out to eat or stopping by a fast food place for a drink, I normally order the tea, shocking, I know. This is where my home version differs from restaurant. I never order the sweetened tea, because its usually way to sweet and even then I rarely add sugar to it and no lemon!  Usually after the first sip I can tell if the tea has been sitting around for a while, if its actually fresh brewed or from concentrate, or if its been a while since the restaurant has cleaned the container.  Thankfully the popularity of iced tea has grown over the years in the southwest and its pretty rare that I get a bad glass of tea.

If my "picky-ness" over tea hasn't convinced you I love iced tea, maybe this will: one of my most treasured childhood taste memories and one I can relive almost everyday during the hot Arizona summer months is the taste of still warm sweetened tea mixing with the melting ice after a long day at the public pool. It is the most wonderful taste sensation and would immediately calm my tummy down from all of the inadvertent swallowing of chlorinated water.




Iced Tea

  • 2 family size tea bags or 4 individual tea bags (black/ orange pekoe)
  • water 
  • approx 140 grams of sugar, adjust to your own taste, this is just under a cup of sugar, but a little more than 3/4 cup.  
  • 3 quart sauce pot
  • gallon size pitcher
Fill sauce pot full of water, drop ice tea bags in the water.  If they have the strings, either wrap them around the handle or cut them off. If there is a little metal clip, don't take it off, it won't hurt anything and it may cause the loose tea to come out of the bag.  If you have wrapped the strings around the handle, use caution as the paper might catch on fire from the heat of the stove - yeah I've done that a few hundred times :).  Set the pot of water and tea bags of the stove and turn the heat up to high.  When the tea comes to a boil, turn off the heat and let the tea bags steep in the hot water for about 15 minutes.  While you are waiting for the tea to steep and cool down.  Put the sugar into the pitcher.  I normally use plastic, if you use glass I would wait for the hot tea to cool down a bit more.  After the tea has steeped and cooled some, take the tea bags out of the water - I usually carefully squeeze the tea bags to extract all of the lovely goodness from the bags - either use the tea bags in compost or throw away.  CAREFULLY pour the hot tea into the pitcher and stir to dissolve the sugar. Then fill the pot with cool water and fill the pitcher to make a gallon.  Stir again to distribute the sugar, cover and cool.

This is where I will fill a large cup of ice and pour the warm tea over the ice, listen for the musical crackling and popping of the ice and drink down the magically warm and cold liquid that has not yet completely mixed.  In one sip you have both warm tea and cold melting ice, its so very lovely!!!!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

bragging.....WHAT??? you don't already know how awesome I am? For shame, for shame....

I have recently discovered (as in yesterday) a blog that I find irresistibly charming and relate-able (that's a word, right? No matter, it is now): Flourish in Progress.  In the last 24 hours, I have read pretty much every post she's made . I know, I know, pathetic, I am truly not trying to stalk her and I promised her the white truck parked down the street from her house wasn't mine....really, I swear!!!

Liz, I hope she doesn't mind my calling her that, has a segment, where every week - specifically Mondays - she will be doing something that she's never done before or isn't very good at - her Monday Dares. "Dares" rather than challenges or goals, because I agree with her those are rather daunting words.  Coming from a previous corporate job, where we had to write our own yearly reviews and come up with goals for the coming year - the word "goal" is despised.

This particular Monday is about bragging. Bragging is viewed differently all over the world and in many cultures looked down upon.. Though I am a white Anglo-Saxon American female, bragging, particularly about myself, has never been my strong suit - now my kids are a totally different story. Those awesome kids are just that, AWESOME! As for myself, I have always seemed to think that if someone doesn't know already how awesome I am; my telling them about it isn't going to change their obvious lack of intellect. Liz (aka the Queen of Awesomeness, herself), challenged her readers to brag about themselves. So, I,  being her newest BFF, felt obligated to oblige. (admittedly she's not completely aware of this fact, but she'll come around to the idea after I untie her eventually....) The following is what I posted:
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Just over two years ago, my brags would have looked like this:
I'm proud that I have raised a beautiful, talented and smart 16 yr old daughter, essentially on my own. I'm proud that I worked for ten years at a job I despised to ensure my daughter had everything she needed. I am more proud that 8 years into said job, I finally figured out that I wasn't going anywhere, started going to college part time and working full time. Then finally quit my job to focus on school, met the man of my dreams, helping raise my step children (the youngest from the age of 9 months), had a baby and graduated cum laude (that's a good thing, really). Also, I am proud I rocked my teacher certification tests and I haven't slugged the mother of my step-kids, yet (HUGE emphasis on yet).

Then, my eldest daughter died; overdose, suicide, whatever one wants to call it, it doesn't matter the method. The child that I lived and breathed for was gone.

Fast-forward, 2 years, to the present:
I'm proud I get out of bed everyday. I'm proud that I have been able to function mostly...sort of...(ok, truth) sometimes in the real world. I'm proud that I have friends and family that can see past the facade of a functioning individual, kick my ass when needed and love me anyway. I am still proud of all of the previous entries, though I have new perspective on all of it. Mostly, I'm proud that I am raising yet another beautiful, smart and talented (now) 3 year old girl, that in many ways reminds me of my eldest, but is, in her own right, her own individually beautiful self, with a man who has been the epitome of a knight in shining armor, two (most of the time) wonderful step-kids and I still haven't decked the mother of said step-children (though she really really REALLY deserves it on occasions and LORD Almighty knows I would feel better). My step-kids have no idea how much I love them. :)
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One other thing that I thought of after the fact, I am proud I haven't allowed the guilt of my daughter's death completely consume me. It really could have and sometimes I am fearful that it still will.  I have to function, for my kids, for my husband and most importantly for myself.  The guilt, truly, isn't as much of a factor as it was right after her death, but it does rear its ugly head on occasion.

Now its your turn, what makes you puff up your chest about yourself?

UP NEXT: 1 chicken = 3 or more meals!