Friday, March 30, 2012

Stitchy Update!!!

Time for a stitching update. I haven't been feeling too well in the last couple of days, so I got lots of stitching time in. Here's where I am on my love quilt square.

I'm anxious to get to the embellishment in the diamond so that you can see what the point of this piece is. (Although I think I did post a picture of the finished piece in an earlier blog post for comparison. I'm not enjoying the white portion at all, as the pattern is very hard to read. I don't think I'll be buying anymore patterns that I have to download. Back to 123 Stitch for my patterns!

Here is how I'm coming on my swap with my friend in Washington.

This is slow progress, because the holes are so tiny on 18 count aida and the fabric is so much tougher than 14 count. I wonder why that is? I try to put at least a few stitches into this one every time I get out my WIP bag.

 Here is my April cottage progress.

I got to the hobby store and picked up the DMC substitute for the hand dyed thread they left out of my February order, so that will be the one I do next after this one. The May cottage pattern is out, but I am waiting to order it until they kit it up.

I had really been admiring Clancy on Carrie's Cross Stitch. She was upset that she had tried to finish him into a pillow and thought she had ruined him. I suggested that she send him over to Faye at Carolina Stitcher, as she does professional finishing at a really good price. Here's what I got in response!!!

Not only did Carrie send me the magazine with Clancy's pattern, she also sent me all the thread and apologized in her note for not having a brand new bit of one of the colors, so she was sending me one from her stash to complete the threads! Carrie, you are awesome and I will be really excited to start on Clancy. I have a piece of 14 count aida fabric that will work perfectly for this one.

I have not touched my princess at all. It seems like three is about as many as I can work on at a time, although I don't see why I can't put more into the rotation.

I've been thinking about creating a cross stitch blog and moving all of my updates over to that, but then I'm wondering between this blog and that one, when I would get any stitching (or anything else, for that matter!) done. It's a choice between writing and cross stitching and I still like to get some reading in there sometimes. I have about 7 or 8 library books and I'm only on the third one and I had to renew them for another three weeks so I can give myself a chance to finish them. To make a long story short, I'm wondering if it's time to set aside the "serious" writing for awhile and concentrate on a cross stitch blog. I have no idea how many of you read my blog for the funny stuff (or the more serious writing) and how many read for the stitching updates. Any comments on what you'd like to see here would be appreciated. Keep the stitching with the other non-niche stuff or do a separate stitching blog?

I'm lucky that all of my hobbies involve not being active with my health issues and that they keep my mind busy. I also finally got an iPhone last week (thanks to my wonderful husband) and discovered the game Draw Something. Wow, is that addictive! My user name is Chelle724 if you want to play!

Okay, time to stop rambling and get stitching.

Till next time...

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Coincidence? Eeerie? Spooky? You Decide

I was going to post a stitching update today, but I think I am going to save that for tomorrow, because the weirdest thing happened to me yesterday. I opened up my email and found this story that had been forwarded to me by a friend from high school. She received it from her dad.  Here's the story:

The Sandpiper

by Robert Peterson

She was six years old when I first met her on the beach near where I live.

I drive to the beach, a distance of three or four miles, whenever the world begins to close in on me. She was building a sand castle or something and looked up, her eyes as blue as the sea.

"Hello," she said.

I answered with a nod, not really in the mood to bother with a small child.

"I'm building," she said.

"I see that. What is it?" I asked, not really caring.

"Oh, I don't know, I just like the feel of sand."

That sounds good, I thought, and slipped off my shoes. A sandpiper glided by.

"That's a joy," the child said.

"It's a what?"

"It's a joy. My mama says sandpipers come to bring us joy."

The bird went gliding down the beach. Good-bye joy, I muttered to myself, hello pain, and turned to walk on. I was depressed, my life seemed completely out of balance.

"What's your name?" She wouldn't give up.

"Robert," I answered. "I'm Robert Peterson."

"Mine's Wendy...I'm six."

"Hi, Wendy."

She giggled. "You're funny," she said. In spite of my gloom, I laughed too and walked on. Her musical giggle followed me.

 "Come again, Mr. P," she called. "We'll have another happy day."

The next few days consisted of a group of unruly Boy Scouts, PTA meetings, and an ailing mother. The sun was shining one morning as I took my hands out of the dishwasher. I need a sandpiper, I said to myself, gathering my coat.

The ever-changing balm of the seashore awaited me. The breeze was chilly but I strode along, trying to recapture the serenity I needed.

"Hello, Mr. P," she said. "Do you want to play?"

"What did you have in mind?" I asked, with a twinge of annoyance.

"I don't know. You say."

"How about charades?" I asked sarcastically.

The tinkling laughter burst forth again. "I don't know what that is."

"Then let's just walk."

Looking at her, I noticed the delicate fairness of her face. "Where do you live?" I asked.

"Over there." She pointed toward a row of summer cottages. Strange, I thought, in winter.

"Where do you go to school?"

"I don't go to school. Mommy says we're on vacation."

She chattered little girl talk as we strolled up the beach, but my mind was on other things. When I left for home, Wendy said it had been a happy day.  Feeling surprisingly better, I smiled at her and agreed.

Three weeks later, I rushed to my beach in a state of near panic. I was in no mood to even greet Wendy. I thought I saw her mother on the porch and felt like demanding she keep her child at home.

"Look, if you don't mind," I said crossly when Wendy caught up with me, "I'd rather be alone today." She seemed unusually pale and out of breath.

"Why?" she asked.

I turned to her and shouted, "Because my mother died!" and thought, my God, why was I saying this to a child?

"Oh," she said quietly, "then this is a bad day."

"Yes," I said, "and yesterday and the day before and -- oh, go away!"

"Did it hurt?" she inquired.

"Did what hurt?" I was exasperated with her, with myself.

"When she died?"

"Of course it hurt!" I snapped, misunderstanding, wrapped up in myself. I strode off.

A month or so after that, when I next went to the beach, she wasn't there. Feeling guilty, ashamed, and admitting to myself I missed her, I went up to the cottage after my walk and knocked at the door. A drawn looking young woman with honey-colored hair opened the door.

"Hello," I said, "I'm Robert Peterson. I missed your little girl today and wondered where she was."

"Oh yes, Mr. Peterson, please come in. Wendy spoke of you so much. I'm afraid I allowed her to bother you. If she was a nuisance, please, accept my apologies."

"Not at all --! She's a delightful child." I said, suddenly realizing that I meant what I had just said.

"Wendy died last week, Mr. Peterson. She had leukemia. Maybe she didn't tell you."

Struck dumb, I groped for a chair. I had to catch my breath.

"She loved this beach, so when she asked to come, we couldn't say no. She seemed so much better here and had a lot of what she called happy days. But the last few weeks, she declined rapidly..." Her voice faltered. "She left something for you, if only I can find it. Could you wait a moment while I look?"

I nodded stupidly, my mind racing for something to say to this lovely young woman. She handed me a smeared envelope with "Mr. P" printed in bold childish letters. Inside was a drawing in bright crayon hues -- a yellow beach, a blue sea, and a brown bird. Underneath was carefully printed:


Tears welled up in my eyes, and a heart that had almost forgotten to love opened wide. I took Wendy's mother in my arms. "I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry," I uttered over and over, and we wept together. The precious little picture is framed now and hangs in my study. Six words -- one for each year of her life -- that speak to me of harmony, courage, and undemanding love. A gift from a child with sea blue eyes and hair the color of sand -- who taught me the gift of love.

NOTE: This is a true story sent out by Robert Peterson. This happened over 20 years ago and the incident changed his life forever. It serves as a reminder to all of us that we need to take time to enjoy living and life and each other. The price of hating other human beings is loving oneself less.

Life is so complicated, the hustle and bustle of everyday traumas can make us lose focus about what is truly important or what is only a momentary setback or crisis.

This week, be sure to give your loved ones an extra hug, and by all means, take a moment...even if it is only ten seconds, to stop and smell the roses.

This comes from some one's heart, and is read by many and now I share it with you.

May God bless everyone who receives this! There are NO coincidences!

Everything that happens to us happens for a reason. Never brush aside anyone as insignificant. Who knows what they can teach us?

I wish for you, a sandpiper.

Here is the story I wrote in 1979 or 1980 (please remember I was only in 10th grade at the time):

God's Gift

I was sitting on the shore of the icy New England coast, drowning my sorrows in the beauty of the sunrise when suddenly I felt that I wasn't alone.

Wondering who would brave the cold blustery morning, I turned and saw a small child of six or seven wearing faded blue jeans and a dirty ski jacket. She sat down beside me and asked me my name.

I said, "I'm Sara. Why aren't you at home? Won't your parents be worried?"

"No. They know I come to the beach every morning to watch the sunrise. I'm Elizabeth and I'm seven. Are you  new here?"

I didn't want to talk and didn't feel like going into my problems with a small child, so I was abrupt with her and told her I had to get home. Oh, how I hated lying to those innocent blue eyes, but how could I explain the emptiness I felt from the recent loss of my husband and the grief that was keeping my feelings locked up inside of me?

I trudged up the beach to my lonely house, which I had rented for the fall, leaving Elizabeth standing at the edge of the water, gazing wistfully out at the ocean. Although I wouldn't admit it then to myself, I loved the friendly little girl who so obviously loved life as I hated it.

 When I next saw Elizabeth, it was a week later. I was taking a walk on the beach in the afternoon sun. It was warm for October, with the last days of Indian Summer lingering on and, with all the tourists gone, the beach was a wonderful place to be.

As I strolled along the beach, I saw a small figure playing in the sand. When she saw me approaching, she ran up to me and begged me to come see her castle. Charmed by the thin blonde hair and large haunted blue eyes, I allowed her to tug on my hand and lead me to see through a child's eyes the wonders of the sand.

She then begged me to come meet her mother and have some coffee. I refused, but asked her to show me where she lived. She pointed to a large, old house on a rocky ledge overlooking the sea.

Seeming indifferent now, she went back to building her castle and I continued my stroll.

Three weeks passed and I didn't see Elizabeth again. Although I was reluctant to admit it, I had missed her idle chatter and unspoken sympathy for a grief she couldn't understand.

Finally, I decided to go to visit her at her house. When the door was opened, I observed the resemblance of Elizabeth to her mother. I told her I had come to see Elizabeth. She asked me to come in and sit down. As I glanced about the room, I noticed how bare it was of any toys, even though it seemed to be a child's playroom. The woman followed me into the room with something in her hand.

"I'm sorry, but Elizabeth died two weeks ago of leukemia. We brought her to the beach knowing how she loved it. We wanted her final days to be happy, so we brought her to the place she loved the most."

I was struck dumb with shock.

"You must be Sara?"

It was more a question than a statement. I nodded.

"She wanted you to have this."

It was a small picture of a seagull etched into sand baked hard by the sun. I thanked the woman and left the house wondering how a small child could have given herself so freely to me when she herself was dying.

Now the years have passed and I walk alone on the beach. But I still remember the small child who so willingly extended friendship to one as remote as I and I marvel at the gift God gave so freely and so quickly took away again. The picture holds the place of honor in my small house, not rented now. It hangs proudly above my fireplace, a bold statement of the brief friendship of a small child.

So there you have it. The story written by Robert Peterson is over 20 years old. The story I wrote is over 30 years old. My story is fiction. His story is true. The stories are so close in plot and character, it's almost as if I had a premonition. The story, God's Gift, was typewritten and graded by my English teacher, who gave me an A-/B+, which wasn't bad considering the lack of development of character. It was never published anywhere.

So what do you think? Mr. Peterson lost his mother. Sara lost her husband. Wendy gave Mr. Peterson a picture of a sandpiper. Elizabeth gives Sara a sand etched picture of a seagull. It is almost the same story, except that I didn't have as much dialog or character development. And mine was not a true story. Or it wasn't at the time I wrote it.

The strangest thing to me about the email story I received yesterday is that I had forgotten about my story until I read Mr. Peterson's. I had forgotten I had saved it, even when Justin's best friend lost his three year old daughter to leukemia in 2010. I wrote The Butterfly Princess (click on the link on the illustrated picture on the right of the blog for the children's story) in honor of Juliana. In high school, I did not know anything about leukemia. Now, I know more about cancer than I would ever want to know. Life is short. And I don't believe in coincidence either.

Today, I wish for you, a sandpiper.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A Spending (And Saving) Update!

A long time ago, many many months ago, I started writing about how we are trying to reduce our debt. I realized that I haven't done a spending update in a long time. That's mostly because I have been spending much more time cross stitching than blogging lately and because we have been busily working towards paying down our debt. I wanted to post when we had something to say.

I found out a few weeks ago that we are getting a fairly large tax refund and, since I found out, I have thought about numerous ways to use the money. (I've probably spent it in my head about 1,000 times or more.) We can pay off more debt. We can put money towards our family vacation in June with my parents at the beach. We can get the doors installed in Justin's office (this is a priority). We can buy Joey a new bike (also a priority). We can put most of the money in savings.

We will probably do a combination of these things. The state refund came and we immediately transferred that to savings. We are now waiting on the federal refund, which is pretty large. We will also transfer that over to savings until we decide what to do with it.

In the meantime, I have been working on curtailing my impulsive spending and paying off credit cards and I am happy to say that I have been making quite a bit of progress. Justin has had tons of overtime, which helps immensely. It hasn't been very good for any of us mentally that he is working around the clock, but we sure do appreciate the ability to make a lot of progress on some of that consumer debt.

I decided that in March, I would write down what I spent every single day for the entire month and at the end, I would figure out where I spend money that I shouldn't or where I am spending money in excess of what I am budgeting. I am planning a blog entry at the end of March with some interesting results.

In the meantime, I am so happy to say that I have paid off the furniture we bought when I was employed and thought we had extra income. We took out a two year interest free loan and I continued to make the $100 payments every month. This month, it was down to $200 and I just went ahead and paid it. I am so happy to have this monkey off my back, because every time I got the bill, I was reminded that I lost that job right after we bought the furniture.

I have also paid off my Old Navy card, my Visa card, my Mastercard, and our Lowe's card. I also made a substantial payment on Justin's Mastercard as well. And this month I was able to send a sizable payment on our joint credit card that is used for groceries, prescriptions, gas, Ben's tuition and books, and anything else that is a "necessary" expense. That one is going to take a little bit longer, but I am hoping that it will be paid off by the end of the summer and we will be able to then pay it off on a monthly basis. We decided to use the credit card instead of the debit card as soon as Congress passed whatever law it was that caused the banks to start charging more in fees. I simply won't pay the $5 a month to use my debit card for transactions. (Thank you, Congress. You have helped me so much!)

We have also managed to get our savings balance back up to a comfortable amount. It feels like a luxury that we are able to decide whether to put money in savings, use the refund entirely for the credit card, or get some of the things we have been needing. Our icemaker permanently died in the refrigerator and we are spending about $8 a week on premade ice because we go through it so fast and having ice cube trays wouldn't produce enough ice. So, we need a new refrigerator and now we can plan for it. It would cost us over $400 to replace the icemaker and we've been wanting a new fridge for awhile anyway.

I also will be happily writing a check to my mom to pay for a portion of the beach house she rented and I will be calling the home improvement guy to get him started on the doors for Justin's office. That is something that I have been wanting for him ever since he started working from home. His job can get extremely intense and loud when things are breaking and some days he spends entirely on the phone on conference calls. Having doors would allow him more privacy and me more freedom in my house to do things that might involve noise. He will be able to close the doors to alert me that I shouldn't interrupt him. It's a win-win.

It's very nice to be able to say that, for the most part, I have been very very good about not charging things. I have been taking money from the cash I had saved up whenever I wanted to buy something that wasn't an online purchase. I think I have decided to take a cash allowance for myself every month to make sure I don't have to charge anything except my monthly cottages kits from 123 Stitch (which will end in December, obviously). I have been using the library again, so no book downloads in weeks and weeks. And I've only been clothes shopping once in the last two months. I've looked at clothes online a lot, but I've been really good about not actually ordering any. Sometimes just putting it in the checkout cart and leaving it is an awesome thing, because when I come back the next day, I usually decide I don't need whatever it was. The exception is that right now I am in great need of summer pajamas, sandals, some Keds type white sneakers, and shorts that fit around the waist, but I have been very patient in waiting and hopefully some things will go on sale shortly.

I will be back with an interesting list of my March spending for those of you who come to my blog because you are on spending diets. Just have to get through the 31st and then I can add up what I spent for what. Hopefully, it won't be awful! It feels like I've been good, but it adds up really fast, even when you are paying cash out on a daily basis.

I feel grateful to be in a position where Justin has a job and gets paid for any overtime he works. I hate that he has to work it, but if he has to, then the paycheck being bigger really helps with our budget.

I'm Crabby Woman

So obviously yesterday I was feeling a little cranky and crabby about the influx of children into my house and was not quite sure how to handle it with the mother. Clearly there are issues.

To me, the major issue is the difference in ages of the children. Because Joey is 13, he has certain privileges that would not be appropriate for children who are 8 and 6. And he is allowed to do things that they would not yet be allowed to do.

This isn't a problem when they are hanging out outside and often they will get together just to play their Nintendo DSi dohickies. Joey is only into Mario and Sonic and Kirby, so it's not like he's playing Call of Duty or anything.

When it becomes an issue is when these much younger children want to play in my house. I no longer have toys for small children and I don't keep fruit snacks and goldfish on hand anymore. The youngest child, who is in kindergarten, gets easily bored when they play here and will wander around my house asking if he can get into my hot tub, checking out my pantry, and making me generally uneasy because I am probably watching R rated movies on cable. Yesterday, he was eating at my kitchen table while Ryan Gosling was getting naked with Rachel McAdams and, while you can't really see anything in the movie, what's going in is pretty clear and I don't think his mother would approve of him watching it.

When you think about it, in fact, almost everything that is on television these days is something that you wouldn't really want a 6 year old to watch. Even the Cartoon Network. I wouldn't want my 6 year old watching South Park or King of the Hill. My 15 year old finds them hilarious though and I'm fine with that. Because he's 15. If you have cable, you need parental controls until your kids are teenagers. What happened to The Love Boat and The Carol Burnett Show and Happy Days? Too tame for viewers now, who want to be entertained by 16 and Pregnant or Intervention. Joey doesn't have cable, by the way.

I guess having sports on while they visit is a child-friendly option, but it certainly isn't an option for me. In my fantasy apartment (in which I live alone and visit this house sometimes to spend time with my husband and my kids), sports of any kind are blocked from my even having to view them in the lineup. It's also very pink and purple and has a sleep number bed and lot of cats. (This is a fantasy. If you would like to add anything to make it more testosterone free, please let me know. With three boys and a husband, I need a mental place where there is no pee on the floor and the jeans aren't covered in mud and sweat.)

But, to get back to my point, it's probably much more my issue than Joey's, because he is very happy playing with these children. Clearly, there is a communication problem between me and the other mom. And there is also an issue for me of there being no understanding from the other mom that I am not physically capable of caring for her children in addition to my own 13 year old. (I don't really take care of Jamie and Ben anymore, except for washing their clothes and yelling about grades. Otherwise, they'd prefer I don't spend my time with them.)

I did the elementary school years three times and it was hard for me to parent my own children. Between having bipolar disorder (which, many years ago, before I was diagnosed, made it impossible to be a good parent) and fibromyalgia (which makes getting around and going up and down stairs and fetching meals, etc., etc. very difficult at best), I struggled to get my kids to the age where they can be independent and take care of themselves, for the most part. And now we're there and Joey's friends are half his age.

My own kids understand that I have issues with noise and they were raised to keep it down in the house. Seriously, if you came over, you would probably never know I have three boys. (Which might be a little strange, now that I think about it.) I've had people come over and say, "Where are the kids?" or "Don't you have three boys?" or "Wow! It's so quiet in your house. Can I come live here?" The answers are: The kids are here, but they are very quiet; Yes, I have three boys, but I gave them all their own technology to keep the fighting to almost 0; and It depends on who you are, but probably not because I don't have an extra bedroom right now. Check back with me when Ben moves out.

One of my friends suggested that I put a sign up on the door when it is too early for these children to ring the doorbell or not a good time and letting them know that when the sign is up, they are not to knock, ring, or peer hard into my windows to see what we are doing. When I told Justin this suggestion, he countered with "It wouldn't make any difference to them." Unfortunately, he's probably right. They haven't been taught that when they are shooed out of their house at 7:00 in the morning, they are not to go immediately across the street and wake up our teenage boys by ringing the doorbell repeatedly. This. Is. Not. Okay. Why is this not obvious?

It's clear to me that I have a problem. Me. Myself. And I am looking like the weird one on the street because I don't like noise - construction or children. I am becoming the cranky neighbor that yells about the lawn mowers, the dogs barking, the kids playing, and the old car that sounds like a Harley that comes out when the temperature goes above 60.

When did I become my grandmother? It's sad, really. I should be in the prime of my life. And in most ways, I am very happy with my life. I just don't want to allow everyone else's children to be a part of it and that's a problem for my kids. I'm working on it. It would just be nice if I had a little bit of "give" on the other side.

Monday, March 26, 2012

You Want to Come In Again????

After unplugging the alarm system, the beeping stopped. I felt like such an adult. I handled it. Me.

And then I got scared when it was time to cook dinner and sent Ben out for burgers.

Justin came home today and I have to say I was happy to see him. Maybe not as happy as the dog, but very happy. Somehow the house seemed empty without him. How that can be with three kids is beyond me, but there you have it. I enjoyed my time (except for the constant doorbell ringing by the neighbor kids inviting themselves into my house. I mean, seriously, if I wanted to have more children, I would have had them. I am done with having elementary school children.)

The problem is that while Joey is miles above his classmates intellectually, he is very behind socially and he gets along much better with younger kids. Unfortunately, those younger kids live right across the street and aren't supervised so much. (In fact, the kids disappear on a regular basis while the mom probably lies on the couch and puts a wet washcloth on her forehead to help with the headache of having two boys that are only two years apart and extremely rowdy.

With summer coming, I am trying to figure out ways that we can avoid the constant doorbell ringing and I'm not coming up with anything. It's not that I don't like children. It's just that I'm at a point in my life where I usually don't feel good and I need quiet. That's a big part of having CFS and fibromyalgia. Any sensory input that is annoying is amplifed ten fold. By the time I kicked them all outside, I was ready to have a nervous breakdown.

On another note, I have been stitching away on my love quilt square and have made a bunch of progress.

The next square will not have a stitch in every single square. I have no idea what I was thinking. I'm a little flustered that I'm not making more progress. After I finish the basic design, I have to go back and embellish it with metallics to put the hearts in, since it is a heart theme. The square is due on June 1st, so because I have a deadline and I am now seeing how much work this pattern really is, it's the only thing I'm working on. And that makes me sad...which is not what a hobby is supposed to do.

Of course, having small children running around my house yesterday didn't help. I was watching The Notebook and stitching when the 5 year old came down saying he was hungry. Since it was so close to dinner time, I sent him over to his house to see if his mom wanted him to have a snack. He returned 10 minutes later with a full meal to eat here. I think she was trying to send me a message or something. There are a lot of unspoken conversations with these neighbors. Why is it so hard to confront someone about the behavior of their children? She never hesitates to call me when Joey does something, so why am I afraid to broach the subject of the fact that because she isn't supervising her children, they are ringing my doorbell on a minute to minute basis and inviting themselves into my house?

I am lucky to have the excuse that Justin works from home and no friends are allowed in while he is working (which is most of the time). This reason for not allowing the small people into my house is something I am very much looking forward to this summer, when this will become a major problem.

The worst part was that I had to turn off my movie (The Notebook) and it was coming up on the scene where Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams are getting hot and heavy and the mom across the street had sent over an entire meal for her son. Because I don't allow my kids to eat in their rooms and Joey follows this rule religiously. So I had to put rugrat number two at the kitchen table and he had a direct line of sight to the television I was watching. I missed the naked Ryan Gosling scene and I was not happy. After he was finished, he set his juice drink and remaining crackers down on the skirt I was drying flat on the dining room table. (By this point, hyperventilating.)

And in case you are wondering where all this enmity is coming from, this mom is the same mom who accused me of letting Joey watch pornography in his bedroom while her son was here. She has a problem with our unlimited internet, but she still sends her kids over. I checked the history - it was all Mario Brothers and Pac Man, but because her son was acting "sheepish" when he came home, that was her first thought.

And then there was the golf incident in which her husband came home from a golf date with Justin with alcohol poisoning and said that Justin had brought the alcohol. Justin brought water.

So, yes, there are some huge communication problems here. In addition, she's been trying to "save" me to her particular brand of Christianity for over five years now. Every time I have a problem (like my mom getting sick), she insists on praying with me. Thank you, but my religion is really none of anyone else's business.

I would love to see Joey develop some friendships with kids his own age. Unfortunately, his answer to that is that the kids at school don't want to hang out with him. As a mom, this seizes my heart and makes me want to strangle every single one of those children. There are quite a few kids on our street who are close to Joey in age, but he is never included in their games and it's really starting to upset me. He's at the age where he realizes he is different and he realizes that it puts people off, but he can't help it.

Are we any closer in the tolerance of differences department than we were 20 years ago? Sometimes I think we haven't made any progress at all. Middle school kids are still cruel because they are looking for an in with the "cool" crowd and hanging out with the autistic kid is just not "cool." It's a shame. As a parent with a child who has special needs, I wonder why all of the advertising about how many children are on the spectrum and all of the autism awareness (April is autism awareness month) hasn't seemed to make any inroads into the stigma surrounding autistic kids. It makes me so sad that the only people Joey can find to play with are 6 and 8 years younger than him. He seems happy though, so maybe that's what counts?

Justin came home from New York today, bald and handsome.

The JJ's Angels team raised over $22,000 and they are almost at $300,000 for the event. This money goes direclty into the coffers of the researchers and they are making progress. That's the kind of cause you can get behind in a big way. I haven't been brave enough to get my head shaved (I'm really attached to my long hair), but Justin is representing the family. I can see this being an annual March event for him.

The kids had off from school today for a teacher workday (in which they prepare the grades that will make me scream at my middle child that you are so much smarter than this!!!!)

I realized a couple of days ago that the middle child will be old enough to get his learner's permit at the end of the month. Where does the time go? But, to bring this post back to my point, I am happy that my kids are as old as they are and much more independent. With my illnesses, it's just too hard to take care of younger kids and I don't appreciate the assumption that I will babysit whenever my neighbor needs a break from her kids.

I keep thinking of that line from Baby Mama. "Bitch, you don't know my life!" While I would never call my neighbor the "B" word, I am having a repetitive thought that every conversation I have with her is about her health issues (we've lost count of the useless ambulance trips to the emergency room across the street) and I am never able to explain my own issues and why I can't do the babysitting thing. I think a phone conversation, or even a face to face, might be a good idea at this point. Because I'm not sure what else to do.

Not that I expect that to make a difference. I've tried before. I really have.

So this is where I end today, because it's dinnertime and I want to stitch some more and I am really having fun playing on my new iPhone.

I haven't been posting as much after the drama I had last week when I offended another neighbor with some things I said in my blog. They weren't meant in a mean way and I immediately apologized and edited out the "offensive" part of the post, but it left a bad taste in my mouth and a slight fear of expressing myself here. But if I can't talk about what's going on in my life, what is the point of continuing to blog? I have a choice. I can take the blog down or I can write about whatever moves me. Today, I choose to write about my life.

There was a writing prompt yesterday about what things you don't write about on your blog. There isn't a lot of censorship for me and when that's true, I guess people are going to get upset with you. You can't please all of the people all of the time.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

And Then the Beeping Started

Justin is off to get his head shaved for St. Baldrick's. I wanted to go, but it's a long drive over bumpy mountain roads and my fibro is notorious for acting up if I sit in a car for over an hour.  And the event is being held at a tiny pub in Syracuse where there will be 500 shavees with all of their supporters. Last year we seriously could not move because it was so crowded, it was 2 degrees outside because it was, well, Syracuse in March, and I was hyperventilating with a panic attack within two minutes of walking in. Thank you so much, panic disorder. Then again, Justin wasn't happy about how many people there were either. But that's kind of different from needing a paper bag to breathe.

So I stayed home to happily (I thought) stitch for three days and maybe run out to Best Buy later to return the blu ray player that didn't come with a network adapter or an hdmi (?) cable. Justin went out yesterday and got a cable, but the plugs are on the "wrong" side of the television and of course it wouldn't reach from where we could put the player, so he got frustrated, I got frustrated, and we decided the whole thing would go back.

I figured there would have to be something on cable and, if there wasn't, I would just stream movies on my Mac and sew.

Then the beeping started.

This always happens when Justin leaves. Something goes wrong that I can't figure out how to fix. I get frustrated and yell at him. He gets frustrated and yells back, because how the hell is he going to fix it really from 300 miles away.

The dog was barking a couple of times last night and we didn't know why. Now I'm thinking it's because our stupid inactive alarm system was beeping for no reason.

One time, many many years ago, the smoke detector started beeping right after I had gotten the baby down to sleep. I was petrified that it would wake up the just out muppet that had taken me an hour to soothe to sleep. And I was frustrated because the man of the house was at work and I knew nothing about the smoke alarm. What the hell do you do when the smoke alarm starts beeping anyway? (And now that I think about it, is it a smoke alarm that's beeping right now, even though the security system is telling me that there is a motion detector failure downstairs on motion sensor five? I don't have any idea which of the multiple sensors we have is number five. Seriously, who looks at these things? I can't find the manual and we cancelled the direct call service, so I can't call the alarm company to ask them.)

Wait. It's not the smoke detector. I know because I just went and stood under it and the noise was not coming from that.

I went back to the kitchen and unplugged the machine from the electrical outlet. It beeped a couple of times after that, but then, as I stood there to try to figure out if the beeping was coming from the sensor on the door to the garage or the control panel, it stopped beeping.

I've called Justin twice. He's on the road in the rain in a little sports car, driving through Pennsylvania. He doesn't have any idea what the combination is to make it stop beeping. Apparently, it's some combination of pressing the buttons, but it's been too long for him to remember.

For now, it's stopped beeping. Apparently.

I figure it will start up again though, because I found the manual and somewhere in between the symbols that are supposed to be English, it says that it will start beeping again in four hours.

It's been a lot of years since this happened before. I freaked out, tried to make the smoke alarm stop beeping by ripping it out of the wall and knocked myself across the room. I called Justin and yelled at him, more out of frustration that I couldn't fix it and that I had almost electrocuted myself. I don't remember how I got it to stop - I suspect I put new batteries in it.

But now I'm an adult (well, much more than I was when I was 27 and had my first baby) and I feel like as a competent, adult woman, I should be able to take care of this. Except I can't figure out where the beeping is coming from and I've replaced all the batteries, and I've disconnected the power source, and it's not connected to the alarm company because we were cutting costs a couple of years ago and cancelled the monthly payment so we are not longer their customers. I'm kind of running out of options here.

The last time I talked to Justin this morning, he had decided I was going to freak out and I reassured him that I wasn't going to freak out. He's on the road and the last thing I want to do (now that I'm a normal, rational adult, right?) is ruin his three days with his best friend.

So what is a mature, rational, competent, adult woman going to do when she can't figure out what's beeping when her husband is gone for three days? And why is this an issue? I pay the bills, balance the checkbook, keep up with the kids' schedules, make sure everyone gets to the dentist and the doctor, refill the prescriptions, dole out the chores and the rewards, have the sex talks (even though they're boys), do the dishes, the laundry, call the home improvement guy when something needs to be, it's a Saturday. Can I call him on a Saturday? I wouldn't want someone bothering me on a Saturday because her house is making her want to hide in the corner with her teddy bear and her blankie.

If the beeping starts up again in four hours, I'm calling my dad. He won't know either and he's 600 miles away, but it will make me feel better.

What is it that makes me turn into a totally dependent person whenever Justin goes away for more than two hours?

I wouldn't be that person if my house hadn't started beeping at me. Things were supposed to just go smoothly (aside from the dog wanting to walk in the rain) and I was going to enjoy three days of chick flicks and sewing.

I may have to let the dog sleep upstairs tonight if I can't figure this out. I do have a 20 year old upstairs who is fast asleep that is fairly good at electronics. He built himself his own gaming computer. But I suspect he isn't going to have any idea why this thing is beeping because it's not a computer. Maybe the 15 year old will know? (He's also still asleep, by the way.)

Women live on their own all the time, right? Any ideas?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Love Quilt Square

As it says on the left side over there (<~~~~~), I am stitching for Love Quilts. I chose a pattern from and I'm stitching for Charlotte's Kids. Charlotte was a devoted cross stitcher who donated many, many squares for quilts for children with catastrophic illnesses. She passed away in 2008 and you can now sew a square for a child in her honor. I chose the girls' theme (for obvious reasons, with three boys and a husband), jumping at the chance to work on something else pink!

Here is what this will look like (hopefully) when I am finished and ready to mail it in.

Hearts and Flowers by DJ's Dreams
The picture looks a lot lighter than the actual colors are. The pattern was $2.49 and then the only other cost was for the fabric (aida = cheap!) and floss (also cheap). They request a donation of $3.00 when you send in your square to be added to the quilt, so I will be forwarding my monetary donation along with my square. The 14 count aida is much easier to stitch on than the 18. Clearly 18 is when my hands throw in the towel and say forget it.

I wasn't able to really do much of anything to help when Juliana was sick, so I am sewing this square in her honor. Unfortunately, I chose a pattern where every single square is stitched...I won't be making that mistake again. The top half of the diamond took me 12 hours of stitching today. Whew. Justin and I figured out that I probably put in almost 1600 stitches just in the diamond. That's a lot of freaking stitches!

Which is why I haven't been online to post to my blog or to read many others. I am finding myself more and more moving towards wanting to make this a stitching blog, although I am sure I will have days when I have a rant or a rave. But after the drama with my blog post last week, I find that I am reluctant to express my opinions publicly, even when it is meant in a funny, humorous way. I get that not everyone gets me. I don't even get me! And I greatly appreciate all of the supportive comments you guys left for me. So thank you - you rock!

I will be working on some other WIP's this weekend, as Justin is going to New York for St. Baldrick's to have his head shaved, also in Juliana's honor. So it will be me, the three kids, and the animals for three days. These are the times I'm happy to have a big dog and an adult son still living at home! I've asked Justin if I can go get a Blu Ray player tomorrow so that I can stream chick movies all weekend while I sew. I should be getting something out of my Amazon Prime membership, after all. If I can't find a little more variety than I have found so far, I will be switching back to Netflix at the end of my Prime membership.

I am also thinking it's time to go ahead and get myself a new phone. After I couldn't enter the drawing at the orthodontist's office yesterday for a new iPad because I don't have a smart phone, I think I finally got to the point where I think I need it. I won't get unlimited minutes, because I'm not really a huge talk on the phone person, and that should keep the monthly cost down. Justin is saying I should probably just go ahead and get an iPhone and I'm on board with that!

Happy stitching to all my crafty friends and happy weekend to all of my other followers.

Monday, March 19, 2012

What Month Am I?

You probably thought my next cottage would be February, right? Um, wrong.

Any guesses?

Turns out, I didn't order one of the colors for the February cottage. I have all of the supplies for both March and April, so I thought I would stitch up one of those while I wait on May to come out. I figure I can order the one color of floss that I'm missing when I order the May kit. Of course, the one I'm missing is the predominant color in the picture.

Oh and also I cut the fabric into 8 1/2" by 8 1/2" squares this time, so I will be sure that they fit into the frame. Without cutting off my thumb. Yay me!

Here's my new start:

Yep, decided to go with April, because it's my favorite color. March just wasn't quite as pretty as February or April. I might just have to order a frame when I order the May kit, so I can frame this when April gets here. And then I would have that expense out of the way. (I'm only using one frame and plan to switch out the months with one frame, kind of like a calendar.)

More stitching tomorrow. I was having trouble with my eyes again (damned makeup!), so I had to stop for the night. Thought I would catch you up.

This was the only thing I worked on today. I kept interrupting myself. Every time I sit down to stitch, I think of something I need to do, or the dog wants to go out or come in, or the cat is howling because he's too fat to get down from the table top he hoisted himself onto. Hope to work on several different projects tomorrow. This is a down week for me as far as appointments go - a couple for Jamie in the afternoon and a couple for me, but tomorrow I won't need to go anywhere until Jamie gets home from school. Hoping my eyes are cleared up by tomorrow morning! (I have no idea how the same brand of makeup in a different color will flare my allergic reaction - pink is bad; green is good. For my eyes, I mean. How stupid, right?)

Crawling Under a Rock/Wishing You Were In Peru Without Knowing the Language

Do you ever do something so profoundly stupid that you wish with all of your heart that you could crawl under a rock and never have to look into the face of the people you know ever again?

Something so dumb that you think okay, now I have to move, because there's no way I can ever show my face again to anyone that knows me.

Welcome to my bipolar world. A world I have no idea how Justin lives in, because everything I do affects him in some way.

In almost 48 years on this planet and going on 13 years since my diagnosis, I have spent countless hours in therapy, taken numerous (some mind-numbing and soul sucking) medications, and worked incredibly hard to overcome the problems that stem from bipolar disorder.

In fact, I look back on the person I was 13 years ago and cringe. That person disgusts me.

I try not to look back too often, but when I do, I don't even recognize the woman I was. My therapist agreed with me just last Friday that I'm no longer that person. Even though I still have a lot of problems and my anxiety, PTSD, and agoraphobia are crippling, I have, for the most part, gotten to a place where my bipolar symptoms are not something that I have to worry over terribly much for the most part. They still make it impossible for me to work (along with that pesky anxiety, PTSD, and agoraphobia), but mostly, in my day to day, secluded life, I am able to function without constantly wanting to give myself a lobotomy after doing more stupid things in one day than most people accomplish in their entire lifetimes. (It helps that I don't see anyone but Justin on most days.)

I have gotten to this place with major hard work and a lot of mistakes. I have lost so many friends that I have now lost count. In fact, I can count on one hand the number of people who probably would list me as their friend in "real life." It's two. And one of them is my husband. I come across much better in the online world than in the real world, obviously.

I have done things that I can't believe I've done and said things that were so mortifying that I wanted to bury my head under my covers and never come out.

Last week, I wrote a blog entry that I thought was fairly humorous. I hit publish and didn't think anything further about it. Until I opened up Facebook (after a really great therapy session where my therapist and I toasted her, I mean my success at overcoming my impulsiveness) and found a message from someone I had always greatly respected and admired. My post had offended her in a number of ways and I was absolutely mortified. I apologized profusely in an email, immediately edited out the portion of the post that was problematic (why, oh why do I never see these things as being problematic until after they are?), and realized I could never show my face in public again. I was humiliated, depressed, upset with myself, mortified, embarrassed...well, you get the idea.

I was ready to shut down the blog. Completely. I'm still not sure I shouldn't.

Because I don't know if I might make that same mistake again and hurt or upset someone that I like. In fact, in all likelihood, I will write something egregiously stupid on here within a short amount of time, because this will become just another memory that I will suppress or distort so that I won't have to beat myself up (literally) because of it.

My mother always told me that I am my own worst enemy. I know for a fact that she's right, but I don't know how to change myself enough to get to that point of not embarrassing myself mightily on a regular basis. No matter how much hard work I do or how many drugs I take, I still don't seem to be able to handle relationships without figuratively shooting myself in the foot.

As much as I tell myself that being bipolar is just another illness, just like heart disease, diabetes, fibromyalgia (yay me again!), because it makes me say and do things I wouldn't do if I didn't have it, it's harder for me to live with than any of my physical illnesses. If I could get well, but only get over one of my diseases, I would get rid of the bipolar and keep the fibro.

Because physical pain comes and goes and you live through it somehow. But mental anguish over your behavior after doing something stupid? Well, that's forever.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Two Finishes!

I've promised you finishes and now I'm delivering.

Malea's finished piece for her birthday. We found the frame at AC Moore for 81 cents. I think if I had realized how difficult it was going to be to get the needlework into the back, I would have been willing to pay at least double that. But, you can't really see that I cut it just a shade too small in the picture. I don't know if she'll continue to notice that every time she looks at it or not. I have to hope not.

It really bothers me when I put several hours (or more) into stitching a project, only to ruin it when I try to finish it and have to chuck it out. Luckily, this pattern is very easy and very fast, so if she would like a replacement in a frame with a better back, it wouldn't be hard to do.

I have finally truly finished January's cottage:

My snowman now has the top of his hat and I am ready to move on to the February cottage. I got an update from Country Cottage Needleworks earlier this week that they have designed the May cottage and it should be out in stores by the end of the month. I'm a little behind, but I have all of the patterns and supplies and, since I'm not doing a stitch along, it's not like there's a deadline.

I spent the day yesterday working on the Love Quilt square and got this far:

The metallic threads for the design in the diamond came yesterday in the mail, so I'm pretty excited about that. I am not sure whether to do all of the background work before doing the detail work on the diamond or do the detail work and then finish up around the main pattern. Probably do the background first, which is usually the rule.

After a few hours of working on this, my right thumb was screaming with arthritis and I discovered that I actually can stitch left handed. It's a lot slower, but I bet if I practice, I could get pretty good at it.

Lastly, my friend jokingly asked me where her cross stitch was and I admitted that I had been guilty of not working on it. Seriously, the 18 count aida thread is killing my hand. I don't know if it's because the needle is so tiny or the holes are so small that it takes more to pull the thread through, but I did pull it out last night and got just a few stitches in.

Anybody know what it is yet? I'm going to try to do at least a few stitches a day so that she will eventually get her part of this swap. Next time, I'm going to choose a pattern that is stitched on linen!

Now you are updated. My hand feels a little like hamburger, so I am going to go search for a particular pattern online that I am looking for (for an unusual project) and possibly read today and rest my hand and wrist up so I can do some sewing tonight.

P.S. I spent all day yesterday in the recliner in front of cable movies. Does that count as watching television? The NCAA tournament has taken over the channel I normally watch in the afternoons, when I get my Everybody Loves Raymond and Friends fix, so I have been channel surfing and catching some great movies. I don't think I'm ready to give up television in any way. Luckily, I don't have to.

Friday, March 16, 2012

I'm Not Really Finished

Yes, I finished it! Yay, me!

All of a sudden, I'm all about cross stitch (as I sit here with thread hitting my left arm and a brace on my right wrist).

The frame for this looks something like this:

Courtesy Country Cottage Needleworks
It's a beautiful frame made by Crescent Colours and retails for $43.99 through 123 Stitch. This is why I will only be buying one frame and switching them out. I don't think this is the cutest frame of the choices available.

And I just realized that my poor snowman is missing the top of his hat, so I guess I'm not completely finished with January just yet. (Three stitches, yeah, yeah...)

More stitching on the love quilt square today. Gotta get that big pink diamond done.

I met a guy yesterday (ok, my new masseuse) who doesn't watch television. Like, ever. So, I was wondering if I could go even a day without tv. Well, I know I can, because I don't generally watch television when I visit my parents (Golf channel anyone? No? If the scenery wasn't so pretty, I'd want to throw a remote through the television. Love ya, Dad!) But, when I'm at their house, I'm usually talking to my mom and slightly distracted from the fact that I'm missing King of the Hill. The last time I was there, I made my mom watch The Middle, Suburgatory, and Modern Family with me and I think she thought I had lost my mind.


Back to the question. If I give up television, what the hell am I going to do while I stitch? Because I certainly can't be alone with my thoughts. (Believe me, the last place anyone wants to be is inside my head.)

Till next time...

P.S. Don't you think not having the top of his hat gives my snowman character?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Stitching Update

I promised you a finish and an update yesterday and I am sad to say that I delivered neither. It seems as if every time I sit down to stitch, I remember someone I'm supposed to call or an email I need to send or I feel an overwhelming urge to check facebook and twitter to see what everyone else is doing.

But...I decided I would go ahead and show you where I am on the things I am working on. (On which I am working? Probably.)

I will (yes, I will!) finish January this morning, but here is the first in the monthly Country Cottages:

I sent my mom a picture on my phone last night and she shot back with, "Is the cottage leaning?" Um, why, yes it is, Mom. Thanks for noticing! (Just kidding, Mom. Love you!) What actually happened is, as usual, I got off by one stitch and then the entire thing got jiggled around. The "J" is too low, because I somehow miscounted where the snowflakes went or the cottage is too high or something, but I'm going to leave it because I think it's kind of cute.

Also? I may have to restitch it, thanks to cutting the fabric too small. This very possibly will be too small for the frame (I haven't ordered it yet - it's $50!!!), which will mean a complete redo. I'm going to go ahead and do the other ones and save it for the end if I have to redo it.

In other news, I started my Love Quilt square.

I got the pattern from Patterns Online and they just sent the pattern for me to download. The theme is hearts and this will be really cute. The design is done in metallic thread in the diamond. It says "love" and there are hearts all around it. I like it because it's pink and girly. This is due by June 1st, so I need to make sure I get stitches in every day. I'm waiting on the metallic threads from because I couldn't find them at the hobby stores.

I made a little progress on my Spring princess:

This is absolutely a loooong term project!

I finished this for Malea for her 38th birthday (yay!):

It's a smaller version of the one I did for the raffle and I personalized it with her name and the other words. My mom and I went back and forth on whether it should be faith or believe and we decided faith fit better and it really means the same thing. I plan on making the larger design in purple for fibromyalgia, because it was such a fun one to stitch.

Unfortunately, when we purchased the frame for it while I was up there on Tuesday, we neglected to check the back and it turned out that there was a very small section into which to insert a photograph. It was not intended for needlework. I had brought my mounting board with me and I was going to cut it and stick it to the mounting board and put in the back of the frame, but the framing definitely did not go as planned. We ended up tearing off the cardboard back with the stand on it and I accidentally cut the fabric just slightly too small, so you can see where it started to unravel on the bottom where I was trying to get it into the frame. (I am waiting for Malea to send me a picture of how it turned out in the frame and will post it when she sends it.) I've learned a lot about finishing from some stupid mistakes I've made.

I also tried to cut off my thumb with my rotary cutter while I was cutting the mounting board we ended up not using. Luckily, it doesn't need stitches - at least I don't think it does, but I've been a little squeamish about checking what's underneath the bandage. I figured that was going to happen eventually, since I pay about as much attention to what I'm doing as our hyperactive golden retriever.

Yesterday, I finally figured out how to make my bedroom space work and I didn't spend any money at all!

Joey had two bookcases in his room and it was crowded. We had gotten a nightstand from my parents before they moved which has two very generous drawers in it. I transferred all of his Wii controllers and what nots to one of the drawers, put his games under the television where they belonged, rearranged the books, and stole took back the bookcase you see behind my chair. This is where I spend most the day while the kids are at school either writing or stitching. I have a small television on the entertainment center directly across from the chair and the bed is off to the right, out of the picture. Luckily, we have a large master bedroom with pretty good lighting. When the kids get home from school, the light is around the other side of the house and I usually go downstairs to the family room to watch the big television and sew under my new Ott light that I bought last week.

I'm heading off to go finish January now. I will post up a finish picture, hopefully later today!

Monday, March 12, 2012

1 in 91 Children

I opened up this post by fellow blogger, Caffeinated Autism Mom and there was the number of children diagnosed with autism staring me in the face. 1 in 91 and she says the CDC is getting ready to release new statistics. World Autism Day is coming up on April 2nd and it would truly be awesome if they would release the numbers in conjunction with that, but it almost seems as if they want to hide it away so nobody realizes just what an epidemic we have going on here. As she put it so well, if 1 in 91 children was being kidnapped, there would be screaming from every corner of the country and all over the halls of congress.

I won't repeat her article, since I know you're smart enough to click over there on your own. I haven't written much about Joey lately, but I thought I would share a story with you to show you just how hard this problem is to deal with on a personal level.

My youngest has been mainstreamed in school with "neurotypical" children since the first grade, always with some assistance and, for the most part, I have been very happy with his teachers. He is now in 7th grade and they are beginning to discuss what they call "sensitive" topics, i.e. what happens when we humans reproduce. I got the letter in the mail a few weeks ago and we are always allowed to opt our kids out of these classes if we don't want the schools telling them about biology, but we also get the schedule of what they are going to talk about and I think they are doing a much better job of covering all of the angles than I ever could.

The other kids were a cake walk as far as "the talk" goes. I have not been able to sit down with my youngest and talk to him about sex for the life of me and I had been struggling with the fact that the other kids were going to know way more than Joey did. It's time. He's 13 and starting to go through puberty. He has the right to know these things.

A week or two ago, he came home from school and was acting extremely embarrassed. It turns out that was the day he learned about sex and he had suddenly figured out that I was one of those "girl" people and that his father and I must have done something in order for him to get here. I offered to answer any questions, but he didn't want to talk to me. So Justin told him that if he had any questions, it was okay to come and talk to him anytime and that it was also okay to feel uncomfortable talking to me about it. It was a little hard, because I've always talked to my boys about everything, but I want him to have the information, so if he wants to talk to Justin, yay that he is still communicating to someone. (And I know Justin won't steer him wrong. Heh.)

Then, Saturday night, he asked me if he could go to a sleepover next month with his friends. They had been scheming away and had already gotten permission from my neighbor (mom to two of them). I told him I would have to think about it and he wasn't so sure either because it would mean sleeping away from home. He was concerned they wouldn't like to sleep with a light on. I was a lot more concerned with the fact that he is a teenager and they are in kindergarten and second grade. I told him I would think about it and came in to talk to Justin.

I thought it was a horrible idea. Because this neighbor had called me in the past when Joey was in his bedroom playing with her son and her son had insisted they shut the door because he was afraid of the dog. They were playing Mario Brothers and Pac Man on the computer (I checked his history to make sure), but she called me about five minutes after H got home, saying he was acting "sheepish" and she wanted to know what they had been doing in Joey's bedroom with the door shut and unlimited internet access.

I was horribly offended. Because (a) Joey had no idea at that point that sex even exists and (b) that she would think I would allow anything to go on in my house like my then 12 year old showing her 7 year old porn on his computer. The only reason the door was closed was because she had imparted her irrational fear of dogs onto her son.

Jump ahead to now. My son is learning about sex in school. Her sons are gluing glitter to colored paper and learning about 2 + 2 = 4. She's accused me (unfairly) in the past of allowing something unsavory to go on in my house between our children, pissing me off royally and making the current rule no computer use at all when her children are here (which isn't too often) and never having the door closed. Sleepover, at night, at her house? I don't think so. I don't think I have to spell out why for you.

On Friday when Joey came home from school, he wanted to talk about the sleepover. I told him he wasn't going to be able to go. He was terribly upset and I had to explain why he couldn't sleep over at his friends' house. I gave him an edited version of the fact that he had been on the computer with H and the door was shut and their mother was concerned. He was learning about things in school that her kids aren't and I just couldn't take a chance. I was telling him no to protect him. His response: I'm so mad at myself for having the computer on while H was here.

He thought it was his fault. And he also said: Mom, I don't have any friends my own age from school.

There it was. My son has no friends because he's different. I've known it, but it really slaps you in the face when he knows it too. And I'm crying just sitting here thinking about the fact that he can't go to a sleepover with his only friends because they are so much younger than he is. I just can't take a chance that one of the kids might say something innocent about something or nothing and my neighbor might think something happened and Joey could get into a whole lot of trouble.

I told him I was just protecting him because that was my job. He was upset. I was upset. I'm still upset, although I suspect he's gotten over it by now. But what I can't get over is his saying that he doesn't have friends his own age.

This is autism.

This is our reality.

This is our son's reality.

What happens now?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Missing in Action!

I've been busy, busy, busy while hoping my hand will heal up enough to go to the embroidery club tomorrow. Assuming I can get past the panic at the idea of being anywhere at 10:00, especially with people I don't know.

I went through all of my "WIP's," better known as "works in progress" this morning and I have four currently in different stages of progress. After finding Becky Bee's Stitching Hive and discovering that she did the Autumn Celtic Princess, I just had to pull out my Spring one and get back to work on it.  Here's where I am with this project:

I'm actually a little further along now than I was when I took this picture this morning. I spent about an hour in my wrist brace and after doing a bunch of carpal tunnel exercises working on it. There are four seasons (of course) and each princess is a different color. If you don't remember, winter looks like this:

I think I did winter first because it's my least favorite season and, as I always tell my kids, you should do the hardest job first and then the rest seem easy in comparison.

Here's where I am with my January cottage:

I have also signed up to sew a "love quilt" square for the Love Quilts site. They make quilts for critically and chronically ill children and you can sign up to stitch a square for a child. Mine is a hearts pattern and is due June 1st, so I have a deadline for one of these projects. You can check the site out by clicking on the link to your left at the top of this entry.

I have lots of projects I haven't begun yet and I spent a bit of time this morning going through everything and trying to get it all organized. It's hard when you don't have anything to organize things in, but my projects aren't so out of control (yet) that I really have to have any kind of new storage. I'm keeping my finishing stuff and fabrics in the dining room cabinet, since that's where I will finish any new ornaments, and the patterns, floss, and sewing projects are all stored in a large sewing box and plastic floss boxes. It's really kind of sad. Someday, I hope to have my very own writing/sewing/massage chair room, but for now, I'm happy with my little corner of the bedroom. But not happy enough to show you my pitiful pictures yet, because I don't want to go out and spend money on making it look better.

Sorry to cut this short, but I found out that sewing with the brace allows me to work without further injuring my hand, so I'm off to put a few stitches in something else. I have two projects for friends that need to be finished and I hope to add a couple stitches every day to each one. And I will also be finishing two ornaments that I completed and adding another one for March to my list of "to do" items.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

I Like Big Butts and I Cannot Lie...

Sunday's Junk Food Haul

If I didn't know better, I'd say he is trying to sabotage my diet...there are still three bags of pretzel M&M's in the cabinet.

And the Pup-Peroni's are not mine.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Dear Really Annoying Loan Guy

I made the unforgivable mistake of thinking that the new home loan refinancing offer letter we got in the mail might actually net us some savings on our mortgage. And calling them.

Oh, the horror.

I would really like to write an email to the loan guy who will. not. leave. me. alone. but Justin says to just ignore him. But if I did write the letter (to his supervisor), it would go something like this:

Dear Person in Charge of Mike:

I called your 800 number last week because I got a letter in the mail from your company saying we would qualify for significant savings on our mortgage when the HARP program goes into effect. Now I'm wishing that I had chewed off my foot instead.

Please consider doing some retraining of your loan officers (or anxious salespeople answering the phones) and including the following instructions on how to deal with potential new clients.

1. Listen. Seriously, this Mike guy? He wouldn't shut up. And it was obvious that he was reading from a script. And I think he also was manic. Have you thought about handing out lithium with the morning coffee? You might want to consider it.

2. Do not use your potential client's first name repeatedly in the initial conversation. It's rude and disrespectful. Especially when you can't get it right. Your guy called me Cheryl, Shell, Sherry, and a bunch of other mangled versions of my first name ever other sentence. If I'm not a client yet, I should be Mrs. Newton. Also? My name is Chelle and it's pronounced "Shelly." If you don't listen (see number 1 above) and get the pronunciation right, I can promise you that you're going to offend the person you're talking to.

3. Do not call your potential client back the second you get into the office. Especially after she tells you that she is on disability. She will not appreciate being awakened early to discuss potential mortgage modification with you.

4. Do not continue to call, email, stop by the potential client's home for cookies (okay, I made the last one up) every 15 minutes to try to close the deal. They are not going to feel like they are top priority and that you are really working with them. They are going to feel harassed. In fact, I'm considering a restraining order against Mike and your company.

5. Do not call or email the client (or stop by for cookies) after she has told you that she will call or email you when she is damned good and ready. She will not appreciate it and will, again, be considering a restraining order.

6. Consider slowing down and memorizing your script. No one appreciates hearing the pages rustling and having their first name inserted into the blanks at the beginning of every paragraph. Know. Your. Shit. If you sound over eager, that's probably a turn off. If you have no idea what you do and how your company does it? Also a huge turn off.

7. Do not make shit up just to appease the potential client. Her husband is smarter than you and will immediately shoot your theories on interest rates, credit scores, and how mortgages work. And he will be annoyed that you are annoying his wife and tell her to ignore you.

8. Do not expect the potential client to whip out a credit card and give you a $500 deposit on the first call. It ain't gonna happen. She doesn't even know you and you're asking her to add to her credit card debt. And by the way, just because her husband works from home? That doesn't mean he's standing right next to her waiting anxiously for the deal you have to offer. He's working (hence the term "working from home"). If she says she has to wait to talk to him about all of the crap you've just slung at her, give her a chance to do that. If you email her or call her again within the next ten minutes, you've lost the sale. Guaranteed.

9. Finally, do not, under any circumstances, refer to her husband by his first name. This is not a pair of shoes. This is a fucking mortgage and you don't know these people. Be respectful or you will lose the sale. No, Mr. Newton was not  available to pull out his credit card just because he was working from home. He was going through audits and the fact that you didn't respect that? Lost you the sale.

In short, please teach your people to slow down, be respectful, not ask for money when the person is asking you to reduce their monthly mortgage payment on the first phone call, ask if it will be Visa or Master Card, talk so fast that the person can't understand you, hound them until you make them want to change their email address and phone number, wake them up the minute you walk in your office door in the morning, or tell them that they're wrong.

None of these things will get you a new client.

And I forgot to add to my list that it is totally uncool to tell me how much "all of my clients love that I'm so available and here's my personal cell phone that my mother calls me on."

Honestly? I don't want your cell phone number. I'm shopping mortgages and I already have a perfectly good husband. Now tell your guy not to call me again or I will be going down to the courthouse to file for that restraining order.


Mrs. Newton


I got home at 3:30 yesterday from taking Jamie to the dentist and getting my own teeth cleaned. There was a message on the voice mail and and email from this idiot asking if we weren't ready to move forward with the refinancing. I promptly wrote him an email telling him he obviously didn't hear me on Saturday when I told him that we had decided to pay off some more debt before refinancing and pointing him to my blog to use as a learning tool. I can only hope he read it and will take some of my advice. Because really, no one should have this kind of thing foisted upon them.

P.S. I sent him a P.S. email after the link up to tell him that all email from him was now marked as spam and I have caller ID, so if I was him, I wouldn't call and try to badger me into changing my mind. So far, no calls or emails so I think I finally got through to him that I was tired of his relentless pursuit of our mortgage. Sheesh. Now if I can just get the tv law firm I called about the SSRI use during pregnancy to stop calling.