"Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. " -Helen Keller

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year

Things I Learned In 2011

2011 was a wild, stressful, fabulous, and wonderful year and I'm still trying to figure out how it's over.
  • I learned that a crocheted penis is one of the greatest ice breakers you can have with you at a conference for women. I heard "Oh My God, is that what I think it is? Can I take a picture?" more times than you can even imagine this past summer. I wonder if a crocheted boob would have the same impact...somehow I doubt it.
  • I learned I can indulge my crafting habit, make some money and embarrass my oldest son all at the same time. Yes, I've made more Beanises since then and people are actually paying me for them.
  • I've learned that someone very close to me is suffering from infertility and it makes me angry that I can't just snap my fingers or wiggle my nose and make it all better for her.
  • I learned that I have both more patience than I ever imagined and, at the same time, far less patience than I imagined. My dear friend Rys and her family shared our house for about 3 1/2 months after their house was totaled by the Hurricane Irene floods. I love them dearly. I would open my house again to them in a heartbeat if they needed it...but, man oh man am I glad to have my space back. Honestly, I don't know how the Sister Wives make it work so seamlessly over such a long time because it is tough having that many people from two families under the same roof.
  • I had it confirmed that my husband is a truly wonderful man. He didn't even blink when I talked to him about Rys and her family coming here and was truly amazing about having them here. I don't know many men who would willingly open their house for that extended period.
  • I realized again that my kids rock. Bedroom switches were put on hold, space was given up, and, for the most part, toys and possessions were shared and they welcomed Rys and her family into our house.
  • I've found out I absolutely adore my Nook. Yup, the Nook hits the top of my list for coolest pesents this year.
  • I've learned that while the process of filing your eBooks onto shelves or organizing them by genre, author, etc isn't that complicated, it becomes infinitely more complex when you load 330+ files/books at once and have to categorize all of them at once. It took me 3 days, use of my Nook and my computer, and I still have 9 books somewhere on my Nook that have avoided being put on a shelf.
  • I've learned that many editors do a half-assed no-assed job when it comes to editing books that are put out digitally. When an otherwise good book is interrupted by paragraphs that go from normal width and appearance to a tiny column that is so narrow that only THE or A is short enough to not be hyphenated, someone has NOT done there job.
  • I also learned that Calibre is a life saver for anyone who owns an eReader. When you've bought a bunch of books for your Kindle app and then you've received a Nook for Christmas, it allows you to change formats so YOUR books can continue to be used on your new eReader.
  • I've also found that Calibre saves you from the previously mentioned half-assed editing. It's a problem when you have a book named The Story of XYZ and some lazy assed so and so has embeded the file with the name Microsoft word File - T. That really becomes a problem when you have multiple files with that fucked up naming issue because that fucked up Microsoft Word name is what shows up when you unknowingly load the poorly named files onto your ereader. Then you have 10+ books that you can't tell the difference between until you run them through reformatting in Calibre.
  • I've really learned to love my hair this year and want to know if I should keep it purple when I dye it again or if I should pick another Manic Panic shade.
  • I've found out my middle son is turning into a huge football fan and a Steelers  fan at that. He wants a Polmalu jersey...which is kind of appropriate with the hair Joey has.
  • I've learned that I still know more about computers than my children and that gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling.
  • I've learned that my baby sister is a bit of a hard head and have to thank her for the Christmas miracle her hard-headedness brought about.
  • I've learned that I'm not quite as resigned to never having a fourth child as I thought I was. I was hit with a serious case of baby lust and caught up in a bad case of regrets and what ifs when I found out a friend who was pregnant with her youngest daughter when I was briefly pregnant with Eva just gave birth to her third child, a beautiful little boy. Feeling I thought were long behind me reared their ugly head.
  • I've learned that once again my husband has fallen on the crappy end of the medical odds and he is already dealing with diabetic neuropathy in his feet. Diabetes fucking SUCKS.
  • I've learned (or re-learned) that I am truly blessed to be surrounded by a fabulous family and wonderful friends. We have a roof over our heads, food in our fridge, clothes on our backs, and my husband has a steady job with great benefits. I am blessed.
I hope each and every one of  you who take the time to stop by and read my blog realize just how important you are to me. While I do write for myself, I'd be lying if I said it wasn't pretty damned great to know there are people out there reading my words and caring about me. Y'all are fabulous. And, to my dear friends, the savvy women I treasure, my blogging and crafting sisters, I truly love each and every one of you. I hope you all had a fabulous Christmas (or whichever holiday you recognize) and I hope 2012 brings you happiness and your heart's desire.

    Friday, December 30, 2011

    Late to the Game

    I've been out of touch the last (almost) two weeks and I have no excuse other than the fact that I got totally overwhelmed by holiday preparations, family stuff, and life in general. I promise that I thought a lot about blogging but that old, trite observation that the more you do something, the easier it gets is so true. After missing a few days of blogging, it seemed harder and harder to pick the pen back up.

    While I was in my 2 week blogging funk, I missed an amazing post by my personal Queen of the blogosphere, Mel. In her Occupy Blog Street post, she talks about how 99% of the bloggers out there never get recognized for their work, their writing in any significant way. She implores us, the 99%, to
    Occupy Blog Street. Sit down on your blog and write something today. Hit publish. Read everyone equally — mixing the 1% and 99% together to create a single entity. Ignore “best of” lists. Declare 2012 as the year of telling YOUR story and then tell it. (Though you may only get to December 21st because that’s when the world will officially end. We’ll all understand if you miss blogging those last few days of the year since none of us will be around to read those posts.)
    Since I missed Mel's original post, I want to say here and now that I am that 99% and I have been guilty of worrying too much about the responses a post got or didn't get. I have worried too much about what kind of stats my blog had and why certain writers had more followers than me. 2012 will be my year. It will be a year of writing for myself, writing from my heart. I will do my level best to write every day and, if I miss a day or two, I will forgive myself and jump right on back into writing.

    In an effort to expand my horizons and to truly mix the 1% and the 99%, I need help from each and every one of you. I need recommendations. I need names and links to posts of yours I might have missed out on and I need blog recommendations from you. Now, your personal posts don't have to be something overwhelmingly jaw dropping or inspirational. I just want it to be a post that means something to you (hint...any post on your blog). And, the blog recommendations...please point me to a favorite of yours. It could be a blog with 2 followers or more than 100. I promise I will check out each and every post and each and every blog you recommend.

    Bring on the linkage!

    Saturday, December 17, 2011

    20(ish) Questions - Christmas Style

    I am stealing this from Stacie, who stole it from Danifred, who in turn stole it from Rebecca. I think I'll also steal Stacie's idea and think of this as sharing instead of stealing!

    1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? I really prefer wrapping paper. I truly love carefully wrapping a present and doing fancy wraps with the ribbons.

    2. Real tree or Artificial? REAL...I honestly tried to talk myself into a pre-lit artificial tree a few years back and I just couldn't do it. I love the smell and feel of a real tree. I don't even mind cleaning up the needles after the holiday. I have too many memories tied to a real tree.

    3. When do you put up the tree?
    We usually put up the tree between the 10th and 15th...not any earlier because it's a real tree.

    4. When do you take the tree down? We take the tree down around January 7th. Epiphany (or the end of the 12 days of Christmas aka when the three wise men visited the baby Jesus) is always on January 6th and we leave our tree up until then.

    5. Do you like eggnog?
    Yes, I love eggnog. I love it by itself. I love it in coffee. I also love it spiked...yum yum.

    6. Favorite gift received as a child?My parents were always great at picking out gifts. I remember loving my Barbie Townhouse and the full set of the Black Stallion books I got.

    7. Do you have a nativity scene?
    I do. It's not my ideal set but I like it.

    8. Hardest person to buy for? I honestly don't have anyone that is hard to buy for. Guess I'm lucky that way.

    9. Easiest person to buy for? My sons are all easy to buy for.

    10. Mail or email Christmas cards?
    Snail mail cards

    11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? Dunno, I'm such a sappy sentimentalist that Something about every gift has made me smile.

    12. Favorite Christmas Movie? I really love White Christmas and Miracle on 34th Street

    13. When do you start shopping for Christmas?
    I always mean to start early but I usually don't.

    14. Ever recycled a Christmas present? Nope

    15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? cookies and fudge and stuffing...just not together

    16. Clear lights or colored on the tree? Colored everywhere and I really want some of the new LED lights.

    17. Favorite Christmas song? I have a soft spot for all Christmas music...just not until Thanksgiving. One of my favorites is "Mary, did you know?"

    18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? depends on the year.

    19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer? Sure can - Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donder, and Blitzen...Rudolph cam later

    20. Angel on the tree top or a star? an angel - beautiful, lacy, and lit

    21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning?
    Christmas morning

    22. Most annoying thing about this time of year? I get annoyed when the music and the decorations start in the beginning of November.

    23. Favorite ornament, theme, or color? I have no theme. My tree is decorated with everything from imported Italian ornaments to paper ones made by the kids.

    24. What do you want for Christmas this year? if my Christmas fantasies came true, I would be the proud owner of a Kindle and either a smoking fast laptop or a tablet computer.

    So, can I talk any of y'all into joining me in my Christmas thievery sharing? Pretty please.

    Friday, December 16, 2011

    Friday Night Leftovers: the oh crap there are only 8 shopping days left edition

    It's time for Friday Night Leftovers hosted by the fabulous Danifred of Sippy Cups Are Not For Starbucks...
    • I am so proud of Marty. He just got his second promotion in ROTC. He is seriously kicking ass.
    • We just got Marty's ROTC pictures back. He looks so grown up.
    • The creeping crud has invaded our house and it won't go away. There has been at least one sick kid at home every day for the past week and a half. Please dear God let us be better for Christmas.
    • My tree is up and it's gorgeous. I got an almost 10 foot tree for only $50 because I offered to talk about them on my blog. Post coming soon.
    • Gabe and T were in the Christmas concert at school the other night, Gabe was just thrilled beyond belief to get to perform in front of everyone.
    • Gabe is once again ahead of his brothers in one department. Because Gabe decided it was appropriate to go into the bathroom at school with his eyes closed, he managed to slam the door in on of his friend's faces. The poor kid got hit in the nose and Gabe had to go talk to the vice-principal. That makes 2 visits in less than half a school year.
    • I got to do lots of Christmas shopping today, including my shopping for the angel tree. I had so much fun and it truly put me in the Christmas spirit.
    Head on over to Danifred's and check out the rest of the leftovers. Y'all have anything you want to share with us

    Thursday, December 15, 2011

    My Turn To Give Back

    Y'all, I have been given the most fabulous opportunity to really spread the Christmas cheer. EdenFantasys is hosting a program called Eden Gives Back for a second year. The Eden Gives Back program asks the EdenFantasys community to raise money by either donating your gift cards or donating points (and EdenFantasys donated double the value of the point the community donated). They also asked a few lucky Eden community members to volunteer to go out and shop for charity with the money raised. EdenFantasys and the community they've built really are about more than sex toys.

    Tomorrow, I get to go out and shop for two beautiful little babies who were listed on the local Salvation Army Angel Tree...Areceli who is only 1 yr old and Gabrielle who is also only 1. I am so excited because the incredible generosity of this community means that I get to fill those little girl's dressers with all kinds of pretty things and maybe make their parents' holidays a little easier. I will also be able to buy some toys which will fill the need for fun stuff to round out the donations of clothes. Ya know, honestly, I'm not sure what the best part of this experience will be for me...maybe it will be shopping for little girl's stuff after years of buying for my boys, spending someone else's money, or really getting to dive into the spirit of the season.

    Seriously, y'all, if you haven't checked out EdenFantasys, give it a chance. Not only do they have all kinds of fab products, but the people that hang out there are pretty damned cool too.

    If you are in a position to give back this season, what are you doing this year? Do you have a special tradition, a unique way to give back to the community you live in?
    Sexy Christmas gifts from EdenFantasys - the sex toys shop you can trust!

    While I will receive a gift card from EdenFantasys, all opinions in this post are entirely my own.

    Tuesday, December 13, 2011

    The Secret Sperminator

    How would you feel if a newspaper came to you and told you your husband or partner had donated sperm to at least 9 couples and at least 3 of them were pregnant? Additionally, he had done this completely without your knowledge and didn't plan on telling you until after the children were born.

    That is the situation facing Kathy Johnson, *"former Mrs. Alabama, a former director of the Alabama Broadband Initiative, a former director of Children First Foundation and director of the Alabama Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy." Mrs. Johnson's husband, Bill, a former top state official and Republican gubernatorial candidate in Alabama, has been working in New Zealand with the recovery effort from the deadly earthquake. While in New Zealand, Bill decided to pursue a desire to be a biological father, a desire he should have given up when he married a woman who had had a hysterectomy. Not only did Bill pursue this without his wife's knowledge but he pursued it without going through the rigorous screening processes in place in New Zealand's fertility clinics. He chose to go through online donor registries to meet women who wanted to get pregnant. Additionally, Bill compromise the very values he claimed to believe in during his campaign (values I don't share). Instead of holding tight to his anti-gay marriage stance, he donated to at least one lesbian couple.

    Furthermore, Bill Johnson is now upset about the newspaper story dealing with his activities. He *"said publication of the story would make it difficult for him to stay in New Zealand. 'I've been trying to get my wife over here, my family over here ... so I can be around for these children,' Johnson said, according to the Herald." As if what he did wasn't bad enough, he had been trying to uproot his wife and family and move them to the other side of the world when he didn't even plan on telling them about the babies until after they were born. This secret sperminator is truly a scum sucking bottom feeder.

    How would you react to something like this? Kathy Johnson has (so far) reacted with class and dignity. I think I might have gone for the cut his balls off response. Weigh in with your opinion.

    Quote marked with a * are taken from a story on al.com
    More information can be found in a Montgomery Advertiser article

    Monday, December 12, 2011

    For Shame: a major corporate fail

    Every once in a while, I read or hear a story that really disappoints me, that is really disheartening. Today was one of those days.

    TLC has a new reality show called All-American Muslim. It follows the daily life of 5 Muslim American families and lets us get a peak inside their world. The families being followed offer a cross section of society...everyone from a couple of newly weds to a local football coach are featured on this show...and each family involved has said they are part of this show because they want the rest of America to know they are just like them. Basically, the show seeks to show the human face behind the religion and to remind the rest of America that Muslim and terrorist are not synonymous.

    Sadly, a corporate powerhouse, Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse, has chosen to listen to an extreme conservative group called Florida Family Association who says that All-American Muslim is *"propaganda that riskily hides the Islamic agenda's clear and present danger to American liberties and traditional values." Instead of standing by their professed all American values, Lowe's has pulled all their advertising from this show. They are trying to appease people by saying *"Individuals and groups have strong political and societal views on this topic, and this program became a lightning rod for many of those views," the statement said. "As a result we did pull our advertising on this program. We believe it is best to respectfully defer to communities, individuals and groups to discuss and consider such issues of importance." If this was a program about being Jewish in America, no company would dare pull their advertising for fear of being labeled anti-semetic. How dare a corporation like Lowe's treat Muslims differently and hope to get away with it?

    Grassroots movements are already starting against Lowe's. California state senator Ted Lieu has publicly stated he might call for a boycott or even pursue legislative action if Lowe's doesn't change there position. While I think legislative action isn't necessary, I do support a grassroots boycott. I for one will be driving across town to Home Depot until something changes.

    Meanwhile, if you want to get a true picture of what it means to be a Muslim in America, check out the TLC show, watch this video

    or check out any of these following websites...
    Muslims in America: A Statistical Portrait
    5 Myths about Muslims in America
    The National Muslim-Christian Initiative
    A Common Word Between Us and You

    Weigh in with your opinion and tell me how you think people should handle this?

    All quotes marked with a * were taken from an AP news article about this situation

    Friday, December 09, 2011

    Kristin vs. the tree

    This weekend, we'll be going out to get our Christmas tree. We always wait until at least the second week in December because I have to have a real tree. We tend to make a bit of a production of getting our tree. It's part of the whole Christmas celebration for us. A few years ago, we added a new element to our whole Christmas tree production. We started tying our tree to the wall. Yes, really...we tie the tree to the wall.

    A number of years ago, before Gabe was born, we were setting up our Christmas tree. We had this phenomenal tree, about 9 ft tall and super full, and we had a nice, new big tree stand to put it up in. Vic and I had managed to get that big mother up in the stand and we were letting it stand so the branches could settle open. We had filled the stand with water and I finally had a chance to sit down at the computer.

    Well, I didn't get to sit down very long. In less than 15 minutes, I heard a shriek from the living room. As I rounded the corner I saw Marty clinging desperately to a branch of the tree. He's leaning back and the tree is leaning way over. I don't know how the hell he kept that tree from hitting the ground, but he did. However, whatever he did to tip the tree emptied at least a gallon of water from the stand onto the ground. It was such a mess. With help from Vic, we got the tree re-situated in the stand. It was once again secure...or so I thought.

    Later in the day, it was time to decorate our behemoth. We had almost all of our ornaments on...the Sesame Street ornaments, my imported Italian glass ornaments, the ornaments we got on our honeymoon. The tree was looking truly gorgeous. All that was left was for Marty to hang the Grinch ornament. Now, Marty has a unique tradition with that Grinch ornament. In his mind, it's an ornament so it HAD to go on the tree but it was that mean old Grinch so it needed to be hidden. The problem that year was the way Marty decided to get the Grinch into the inside of the tree. Marty decided to go under the tree and come up on the inside of the tree in order to hang the Grinch in his hiding place. Wanna know how that worked out? *Not too good. Marty went up, the tree went over, and then, the tree hit the ground. All the ornaments save the Grinch were already on the tree and the tree was on the fucking ground. I had horrific visions of broken ornaments and having to undecorate the tree to be able to resecure it in the stand. I think there were only two things that saved Marty's life at that moment...1) only two ornaments broke and neither broken one was special in any way and 2) despite the screws from the tree stand biting deep into the tree when it fell, all it took to get it standing straight and tall again was to rotate the tree a little and tighten the screws again.

    At that point, I decided enough was enough. I was going to fix it so that damned tree couldn't ever go over again. I marched out to the van and got the twine that had secured the tree to the top of the van. Then, I went up the hill to our shed and found my drill and to eye bolts. I hauled my trusty two step metal step stool out of it's corner and put those damned eye bolts into the wall studs.  I was standing on the top step of my step stool with the twine tied to one eye bolt. I leaned forward a little bit to wrap the twine around the truck and, that's when it happened. As I was leaning out (just a little mind you), I felt my foot slip. I think my foot must have been a little damp from my trip outdoors to get the tools because I sure as hell wasn't leaning far enough to account for the fall. The foot slipped, the knee loudly popped, and I hit the floor in the one small area I could hit without banging my head. My knee popped so loudly that I thought I had broken it again.

    So, there I was, lying on the floor in an immense amount of pain and the damned tree wasn't even tied to the wall yet. A trip to the **ER in an ambulance assured me that my knee wasn't broken. A smart husband made sure the tree was secured to the eye bolts in the wall before I got home. And, the tree stayed upright for the rest of the Christmas season. I think that while the tree may have won the battle, I definitely won the war. To this day, our trees get tied to the wall before even one ornament goes on it. I even learned two very important lessons that day...1) step stools are evil bastards that ambush you when your feet are wet, and 2) the tree never wins.

    So y'all, your assignment is to share one ridiculous holiday story with me. Maybe something that makes me feel not so alone in my klutziness. Spill it!

    Wednesday, December 07, 2011

    A Day Which Will Live In Infamy

    Despite the fact that I have some awesome What The Fuck Wednesday material, I won't be running it today. It just seemed wrong to be laughing at idiocy on a day when some of the last heroes of the Greatest Generation are gathering for the last time.

    Today was the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Many of our brave men lost their lives that day and the lucky ones who survived have had the National Pearl Harbor Survivors Association to be a part of. Not only does this December mark the 70th anniversary of Pearl Harbor, it also marks the end of the National Pearl Harbor Survivors Association. Since the 7,000 to 8,000 Pearl Harbor survivors are old enough that travel is a big issue, the National organization is disbanding. I just want to take a moment to offer a final salute to the men, the warriors, the generation that did so much for us.
    Marco Garcia/AP Photo

    Tuesday, December 06, 2011

    Tasty Tuesday: Happy Happy Birthday!

    To celebrate my birthday, I decided that I'd share the birthday cakes I made for T and Gabe's party this past weekend. Gabe specifically requested a Draclea (Dracula in Gabe speak) cake and T asked fora Princess's castle cake.
    Both these cakes were made with the chocolate cake recipe from last Tuesday. They were absolutely delicious. If you try out the recipe, let me know what you think?

    Monday, December 05, 2011

    In Which I Made An Ass of Myself

    I didn't have a very good afternoon. You know those cheesy motivational posters that tell you to be the best you that you can be. Well, I definitely wasn't the best Kristin I could be this afternoon. We've had a few things go wrong lately (my van isn't behaving and Vic's also needs a repair & a few other stressful things) and I let it all get to me. Marty and I ended up arguing over me helping him with math (which hasn't happened in ages) and then my mom called. She was returning Gabe's phone call and, when they were done chatting, she got me on the phone. She offered to go to Marty's appointment with me later this week and, instead of being grateful that she wanted to help out, I got snarly and snippy because I assumed she was offering to come because she didn't think I could advocate for my son.

    Once we got through dinner and the kids were settled in watching the Charlie Brown Christmas Special, I called my mom back to apologize. That's when I really started to feel like shit. I could hear the tears in my mom's voice and it made me want to cry myself. My mom truly only wanted to help because she was worried about the car situation and worried because I was so tired. My mom was also hurting because of the physical therapy she went through earlier today and that brought emotions to the forefront. I apologized and apologized again.We had a great conversation and I had her laughing by the end...but, I still feel like shit for reacting the way I did. So I decided I had to apologize publicly.

    I love you mom and I'm sorry. I know you only were trying to help. I never want to make you cry.

    Saturday, December 03, 2011

    The Crash After The Sugar High

    Oh my God am I ever tired. Today was the dual birthday party for T and Gabe. So, in the past few days we have busted ass cleaning the house and getting ready for the party. I also baked and decorated two kick ass cakes...a princess palace cake and a Draclea (Gabe speak for Dracula) cake.

    We had a houseful today. Counting our children, there were 18 children here for the party. There were also 7 adults from the family and 5 (I think) guest parents. It was loud, crazy, wild, and wonderful. They bounced on the trampoline, had sword battles, beat the crap out of a pinata, and ate tons of cake. The look on T's face when all the kids were singing happy birthday to her and Gabe was just priceless. She looked thrilled beyond belief. And Gabe had a blast. Some of his favorite people from school and some of the favorite adults in his life were able to be here.

    I took a bunch of pictures but haven't had a chance to edit any of them. I'll try to have them to show y'all in the next day or two. Right now, I'm going to crawl off to bed and get some much needed rest. I am tired.

    Friday, December 02, 2011

    Happy Birthday my Gabriel

    My dearest darling Gabriel,
    I can't begin to express how much joy I experience being your mommy. The simple fact that you exist, that we actually got to bring you home, is a miracle that stuns me to my very core.

    You are such a sweet, funny kid with an incredibly infectious laugh. Sometimes, I see people smile just because they hear you laughing. You truly have a wicked sense of humor which, like most boys, has a tendency to veer towards gross, body humor. I think you must have learned that from your brothers.

    I am also incredibly impressed by the intelligence I see you demonstrate. You may only be in kindergarten but you can already count to 100 and more. You also know that 5+5 = 10 and 6+4 = 10. I got the biggest kick tonight listening to you explain to the older kids that there is a difference between wants and needs and that electronics are a want (although I think I'm awfully dependent on the internet).

    I LOVE that you seem to be developing a geeky streak and you made me so very proud when you walked into the room a month or so ago, glanced at the TV, and said "Are you watching Dr. Who?" How cool is it that you recognize one of my favorite shows already?

    I am so lucky that I get to volunteer in your kindergarten class this year. It has been beyond awesome watching you learn and grow and develop socially. And, I truly love getting to eat lunch with you once a week. I know someday it won't be cool to have mom around but, right now, you seem to love it and I'm loving the time we have together.

    Happy 6th Birthday my beautiful, wonderful, miracle boy! You are the love of my life.

    Love, Mom