Sunday, April 29, 2012

Progress Report - Love Quilt

Just thought I would give a quick update on what I have been working and slaving over for the last few days. I am feeling pressured by the pattern I chose for this quilt square because it is much more involved than I anticipated. As my friend, Malea, said, "It looks complicated." Yes, yes it is.

I have finally finished the embellishment in the middle. I kind of wish I had done it in a darker color, but I think you can see it.

I am currently outlining the hearts on the left band. I still have a lot of work to do on this one and I need to mail it by the end of the third week in May. I may have to make a few changes to the design!

Doing backstitch on that big a diamond that has every stitch filled in is hard on the hands. I don't usually do backstitch during the middle of the project, but I decided I was going to end up really frustrated at how long it would take to finish it if I left all the backstitch until the end.

I hope to get back into my rotation soon. For now, I am working exclusively on this one. At least the colors are pretty!


Friday, April 27, 2012

Worst Parenting EVER

I went to Joey's IEP meeting on Wednesday and he got to participate for the first time. He was very full of himself that he got to come to a meeting of grownups to talk about himself. It was really cute until he lost interest 5 minutes in and stopped responding to questions and starting to slide down his chair. Well, I guess that was cute too, because it was so normal.

When Joey was diagnosed with autism back in 2005, I never thought we would get to the point where he is getting perfect scores on his standardized testing and straight A's in seventh grade and taking honors math. His teachers all love him. Of my three children, he is the most motivated to succeed and he has decided he wants to be either an historian or a video game designer. I have no idea why he would want to be an historian (because he's never shown an interest in history until civics this year), but I could actually see him as a video game designer. He's mastered every Mario game in existence for the Wii or the DSi and I can easily imagine him working on video games to make them better. Or just make them up himself because he knows what makes a good video game and he wants to share that knowledge, especially if it means he can kick ass when he plays the neighbor's kids.

I wrote before about the neighbors' kids and how they are creating a pain in my ass by ringing our doorbell early in the morning and right at dinnertime and every ten minutes in between. Because Justin works from home, Joey is not allowed to have anyone inside during the week, so if they are allowed to come in to play, it's an event.

Last Saturday, Joey went out fairly early. It was a beautiful day - sunny and about 70 degrees. He was out for maybe 30 minutes and then all of a sudden he was in the door, barely holding the dog back from escape, with his little friends saying they needed to come in. "Mom, we're dying from the heat." "No, you're not." "Yes, we are. We're dying from the heat!"

Justin was standing at the door and said, "Joey, you guys need to play outside. It's a beautiful day."

Joey: But we're dying from the heat, Dad!

Me: OUT!!!!

About 45 minutes later, Joey came in and sat down in the recliner and I could see he was crying.

Me: What's wrong, Joey?

Joey: Can I come in now?

Me: Of course you can come in.

Joey: I thought you meant that I couldn't come inside.


Oh God. My son thought he wasn't welcome in his own house! He thought he wasn't allowed in.

Of course, I reassured him that he was always allowed in his own house. It was just that we didn't want the entire neighborhood coming in.

And then I followed him around the house and hugged him incessantly until he begged me to leave him alone. And then I hugged him some more. I was still hugging him when it was time for bed.

He cried. I cried. It was a fabulous moment of bonding that I wish had never happened.

I keep thinking I've been a bad parent and then I go right ahead and top myself.

Autistic kids are literal. They take what you say as an absolute. When I shouted "OUT!!!!" Joey believed that I meant he couldn't come in.

For my next trick, I will beat him with the cat. That way I can get parental cruelty and animal cruelty all in one blow.

Is there a gadget for bad parenting I can stick on this blog? I should come with a warning label.

I think I'll beat myself with the cat. He deserves it - he eats way too much and I don't like the way he looks at me.



Thursday, April 26, 2012

How Do I Make Lemonade When Life Keeps Giving Me Prunes?

And here's what happened this week...

Malea had her regular CT scan last week and on Monday she called me to say that the cancer has spread into her lung tissues. She also has pleurisy, but they can't drain the fluid because of the high risk of infection. She started advanced chemo yesterday, but they are again out of money because the treatment is so expensive (at least $2500 a week). Malea is a 38 year old mother of four and expecting her first granddaughter on August 1st. Her youngest child is 12. If you can help with any amount at all, please go to There is a paypal donation button on the site. Believe me when I tell you this is a person we need here for the long run. Please help if you can.

The day after this horrific blow came, my oldest son came to tell me that he's decided he doesn't want to transfer to James Madison University after he completes his associates degree. He wants to quit school and get a full time job and save towards moving out. Somehow, I saw this coming, as he has not been enjoying his student/teacher observation for his education course this semester.

Ben currently works about 8 hours a week at the local retirement home as a waiter and he wants to go full time there. He's gone to human resources and asked to apply for a job in the security department. I can only pray that it pays more than the restaurant job, because he simply can't live on what he is making there unless he lives at home with us. Which neither of us wants.

I am torn about his decision because on the one hand, he has a good point that spending thousands and thousands of dollars on an education degree doesn't make a lot of sense if he doesn't want to teach. And yes, thank God he figured that out now. He is talking about doing online courses while working full time. I haven't ever seen any desire on his part to actually work that hard, so I doubt that will come to fruition. I made him promise me he would finish the associate's degree, but if his job goes to full time this summer, I can see those last four courses just drying up and blowing away.

But I guess I have to let him make his own decisions and learn how hard life is on his own. Justin said to him, "You have no idea how easy you have it here." He wasn't trying to make Ben feel bad. He just doesn't want him to repeat our mistakes. Justin didn't finish his bachelor's degree and it has closed many doors in his face over the years. Yes, he is amazingly successful considering he doesn't have a degree, but I know he wonders how much more money he could have made at a better job with one.

I sat down with Ben yesterday while I paid bills to give him an idea of the cost of living in the house we currently own. He finished up his state tax return and we started going over what it would cost for him to live on his own with a friend. If he's really careful and he can get a job paying a few more dollars an hour, I believe he could swing it. Of course, he isn't taking into consideration the fact that the car we gave him will inevitably need repairs or that he might want to buy food.

But he's thinking it through and not just dropping out, so I trust him to do what's best for him. I can remember feeling all important and grown up when I moved out for the first time into a place of my own. I worked selling furniture at a store that no longer exists and hardly made any money. Between Justin and myself, we could barely pay our small bills at that time. But I do believe it's important that Ben learn things himself and not through us because the lessons stick better when you learn them yourself.

It's a shame that things are so backwards in our house, because I think we've set a lousy example here. Justin does not have a degree, but he is amazingly successful at what he does. Of course, Ben hasn't seen how hard he worked and how much learning he had to do on his own to get there. He's trained himself to be a computer engineer because it pays to support his family. He never had a choice as to whether he would work or not because he had his first child when he was 20 years old. Ben's age. Thank God we're not going to be grandparents that I know of.

Me, on the other hand, I went in and dropped out and went in and dropped out and finally completed my bachelor's degree in 2001, coming out with approximately $50,000 in student loan debt.  Do you know what you can do with a four year psychology degree? You can hang it on your wall in a pretty frame to look at while you try to scrape up money for your student loan payment while not working. Okay, so that's really what I'm doing, but it happens to a lot of people in this economy.

So, with my example, clearly there is a ring of truth to Ben's observation that lots of people with college degrees can't find work. Of course a degree would give him an edge, but he will at least have a two year degree (if I have to register him, pay for the last four classes, and drive him to class every week). He's willing to work a 40 hour a week, low stress job and, while he does that, figure out if going back for a bachelor's degree would be a good idea or whether he is happy without it.

He's got a level head on his shoulders and he's smart. He's just not worldly smart and that's where I get truly afraid for him. I feel like I haven't done my job well enough for him to understand how the real world works and I don't like the idea of watching my child struggle to make the rent money.

He is entitled to make his own choices. Hopefully he will work for awhile, discover that his job is mind numbing, and decide to go back to school. He's talking about maybe doing a business degree at some point, so I know school isn't completely off the table.

We always want our kids to do better than we did. Unfortunately, the cost of a higher education makes that difficult. And the job market is horrible where we live. He's very lucky that he is already working and they like him and are willing to give him more hours or switch him to a new department. And he likes his job. I just hope he can like it 40 hours a week and be responsible enough to finish that two year degree.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Hermiting for Days

I have been extending my IHSW to every single day. Stitching is my life. I generally try to catch up on blogs and write my own in the morning and then spend the afternoon and evening stitching, in between laundry loads and dishes and trying to remove pet hair from various surfaces.

Here is an update on my projects.

This is what I'm dealing with on my Love Quilt square. I am trying to get the backstitching done in the diamond in the middle. I changed the color to a dark pink instead of metallic because I know that metallics probably wouldn't wash well. I was trying to do this after it got dark outside last night and decided it might be easier in the daylight. It isn't.

Here's where I am:

Can you see where I've started the embellishment in the diamond? Actually, when I look at the pattern on here, maybe it would be easier to work from the picture instead of the actual pattern. You wouldn't believe how hard it is to see what I'm doing. Magnification doesn't help. It's the pattern from hell.

In other works:

I obviously haven't gotten very far with my HAED. But I have made a little progress. It's all blue for awhile.

I may have posted this one already. I didn't get a chance to work on it this weekend. I realized I'm cutting my June 1st due date for the hearts and flowers quilt square kind of close and the embellishment is taking awhile to figure out. I will get this back into rotation this week.

And lastly, I started my February cottage. If you didn't see my finish to the April one, check back a couple of posts. (Too lazy to find it to link it, but I posted it about 3 or 4 days ago.)

I will be spending the remainder of today trying to finish the embellishment on the Hearts and Flowers square. Once I get that done, I will be able to breathe a little easier that I will make my due date on that one and work a little more on my other pieces.

Hope you had a wonderful IHSW!


Monday, April 23, 2012

Can You Be Your Own Advocate?

I wrote this post back on June 1, 2011. Almost a year ago. I invite you to go read it here.

If you want the condensed version, I talked about how humbling and shaming it is to have to go to the psychiatrist's office, where they all look at you like you're going to do something "crazy." How the med students are giving you glances they think you can't see. How it makes you feel like less than a person.

For all of the work of all of the people who are trying to put an end to the stigma of mental illness, I'm afraid there has been absolutely no progress. Well, you might say, it's only been a year. But I once again find myself having to address this issue.

To be honest, I don't want to address this issue, because the incident that occurred on Friday made me feel so small and so ashamed that I wasn't sure I wanted to ever write anything about my illness again.

But here's the thing. There is such a thing as the Mental Health Patient Bill of Rights. It comes in various forms, but in every case, the number one credo of the Bill is "You have the right to be treated with dignity and respect."

I assume that this means not only by your psychologist or psychiatrist, but also by their staff. Apparently, my psychiatrist's staff did not get the memo. And if I didn't love this psychiatrist so much and think he was worth the effort to drive to another state to see him, I would be doctor searching right now. Because it's the staff at the mental health center that makes me feel the worst about my mental illness.

I have written in the past that my psychiatrist, "Dr. J." is a brilliant, intellectual, educated, compassionate man who is willing to "talk shop" with me about my illness. He never sticks to my 15 minute med check, because he enjoys talking to me. He takes my input about what I think my medications are doing for me and what needs to be changed. He respects me when I say "no" to a medication and doesn't try to force it on me. Basically, he makes me feel like a human being with an illness.

Not so his staff.

When I see that I am getting low on my medications and they are going to need a refill, I make sure that I have an appointment so I don't have to go through his staff to get them refilled. Last week, I made an error in judgment by asking the pharmacy to call in for a refill on my ambien the day before I had an appointment. If I'd thought it through, I would have waited and just asked him to refill it when I went the next day. I would have walked out of there with the scripts in hand and not had to deal with the woman who says she is his nurse, but who I suspect is actually a minion of Satan whose only job is to demean the patients and make them need years of therapy to recover their self-esteem after she destroys it.

When I went to see Dr. J. on Wednesday, he wrote me a 6 month prescription for my anti-anxiety med, sent a six month prescription for my anti-depressant to my pharmacy, and said, "Oh, I see we refilled your ambien yesterday."

What would that mean to you? To me it meant that he had either called it in or sent it electronically, so I didn't question him. I didn't even think to question how he had conveyed the prescription to the pharmacy, because I totally trust him.

Except the times that he forgets. He readily admits he has a touch of ADD and sometimes he will write a prescription and forget to fax it to the pharmacy. I should have remembered that.

I saw him on Wednesday. On Friday, Justin went to get my prescriptions. One of my fibromyalgia drugs was there. The ambien was not. So, I had to call the office. At 3:00. On a Friday.

My primary care physician has told me that they get nervous about prescribing narcotics to people who call late on Fridays claiming to have "lost" their prescriptions or "just realized that they ran out of their prescriptions" because weekends are when people are looking to sell and buy narcotics. I would never have thought of that, because I don't think of my narcotics as being a commodity. But I do keep this in mind when I am looking for refills because I don't ever want him to think I am drug seeking.

I never thought someone would accuse me of drug seeking for ambien. Who sells or buys ambien? Is this even a thing?

Call to psychiatrist's office:

Recording: If you would like to have a prescription refilled, press three.

Me: Pressing 3.

Recording: This is K, Dr. J.'s nurse. We are no longer doing routine medication refills at this time. If you need a refill, please contact your pharmacy or come in on Monday when we have walk in clinic hours. If you would like to leave a message, please leave your name, phone number, mental illness (note: I made that one up), and I will call you back.

Me: Left name, phone number, pharmacy phone number, explanation that Dr. J. had told me he had refilled it on Tuesday but it wasn't there, please call me back.

Return call approximately an hour later:

K: Yes, this is the nurse from Dr. J.'s office returning your call.

Me: (Explanation of what had happened.)

K: Well, it's impossible that Dr. J. sent your medication to the pharmacy. He has to write the prescription.

Me: He told me on Wednesday that he had filled the prescription on Tuesday. Can you check with him?

K: He's not available. And he's out on Monday. There's nothing I can do for you today, since it's close to close of business on Friday.

Me: (Getting really annoyed) Look. Dr. J. told me that he refilled the prescription on Tuesday, but the pharmacy doesn't have it. Can you please check with him and find out what happened to it?

K: You should have asked him when you were in on Wednesday.

Me: I did ask him and he told me that he had refilled it on Tuesday. I assumed that he had sent it electronically, but maybe he meant to call it in and forgot. I need you to check the status of it with him.

K: Well, we aren't allowed to send prescriptions electronically (excuse me???) and if it's here, you would have to come and pick it up.

Me: Well, say it is there. Could you mail it to me? I live in Winchester and you are in West Virginia.

K: Oh no. It's illegal to mail a prescription. We couldn't do that. (Again, excuse me? My primary care doctor mails me a prescription every month because it has to be filled in person and I live an hour away from his office. I doubt he would break the law.)

Me: Well, can you please check with him and see where my prescription is?

K: You should have asked him about it on Wednesday. I don't think there's anything I can do about it until next week.

Me: Find my prescription or I will drive to Martinsburg and cut you. (In my head.) Can you please look for my prescription and call me back?

K: I can check and see if he left it for you, but it's pretty late on Friday (3:00 is late???). You probably wouldn't be able to get here in time to pick it up. If he filled it.

Okay, stop. If he filled it???? Are you freaking kidding me????

At what point in this conversation did I start to feel like a little kid being scolded by her mother for putting her hand in the cookie jar without permission? And what happened to the being treated with dignity and respect portion of the mental health bill of rights? Does this only apply to the actual treating physicians and not their staff?

I understand that there are people who try to get multiples of their prescriptions. I understand that they deal with people who are made unreasonable by mental illness. I understand that they feel they have to "protect" the doctors from us crazy people. I don't like it, but I understand it. What I don't understand is why I couldn't possibly be right in that the prescription got lost somewhere and maybe she should get off her butt and try to find out why.

We left it at she would check and see if she could find it but for me not to expect anything to happen on Friday. Luckily, I was assuming this would happen when Justin didn't get the refill when he picked up my other prescription and had enough ambien to last me nine days. What if I had been out?

Dr. J. has told me that he believes that the most important thing in keeping a bipolar person stable is getting a good night's sleep. I am finally in a good sleep routine and getting the sleep I need. I don't have insomnia for the first time since I was six years old. I'm stable and rational. And I am just as much a human being as this "nurse" is. Which is why it infuriates me that she tried to make me feel as if I am six years old and asking for something I'm not allowed to have. In other words, she made it very clear that she didn't believe me and that I was a drug seeking mental patient who just wanted to get high or sell my drugs to someone else to get high. High on ambien. That's pretty funny, when you think about it.

When I hadn't heard anything by 4:00, I called the pharmacy and had them check. They still had not received a refill request from the doctor. So I called the doctor's office back.

Me: I would like to leave a message for Dr. J. personally. Not for K. For Dr. J.

Receptionist: Oh, I'm sorry, hon, but Dr. J. does not return patients' phone calls.

Me: Explanation of why I needed to talk directly to the doctor.

Receptionist: Oh, yes. Ms. Newton. K found your prescription on his desk. She asked me to tell you that she will see if we can make an exception and call it in for you.

Make an exception? Again, excuse me???? This is not a controlled substance. It is called in routinely. When Justin was having trouble sleeping last year, he called his doctor to explain the circumstances and they didn't even ask to see him. They just called it in.

Again, dignity and respect. Simple dignity and respect.

I got a call from our pharmacist, who is wonderful and knows all of my medications, around 5:00 that the prescription had been called in and was ready for me.

This is what I have to go through to get my regular prescriptions filled. It's ugly. It's demeaning. It makes me feel less than human. It makes me feel ashamed. It makes me feel as if I am seen as a drug seeking patient.

I am none of those things. I have the right to dignity and respect and to be treated as a human being. I don't care if I am raving and out of my mind. I still have the right to those things. I have the right to be listened to. Having bipolar does not make me less than a human being. It does not make me less than that "nurse" who lied to me and refused to help me.

They made the mistake and I paid for it by feeling awful about myself.

And I didn't get an apology. Of course. Why should they apologize to the mental patient?

I am going to close this with a quote from John McManamy, author of the blog Knowledge is Necessity that I found this morning:

"Keep in mind," I told my audience, "a lot of us view the world through the eyes of artists and poets and visionaries and mystics. Not to mention through the eyes of highly successful professionals and entrepreneurs. We don't want to be like you."

It was as if I had let rip a roof-rattler and everyone was too polite to laugh. Then I blurted out: "To me, you all have flat affect."

Kelvin grade frozen stony cold silence.

Really, why would I want to be like my psychiatrist?

This struck a chord in me. Only in this case, why would I want to be "normal" like the "nurse" who was so nasty to me? I'm fine with being like my psychiatrist, because he gets me. And he treats me like a person.

His nurse. Not so much.


Sunday, April 22, 2012

There's No Shame In the Word Medicine

I've been stitching all weekend.

I have also been working up to a post about how I was treated by the nurse at my psychiatrist's office on Friday when they lost my refill. I am hoping to be able to write about it by tomorrow, because if we are not our own advocates, we will never end the stigma and we will never be accorded the basic dignity to which we are entitled.

It's hard to write about because they make us feel "less than." They condescend. They treat us like drug addicts. They tell us we are lying. They make the mistake and then, without investigating, they blame us.

We shouldn't have to feel ashamed to need our medications. And they shouldn't automatically assume that we are lying to get refills. It benefits no one.

I go out of my way to make sure the doctor gives me refills when I go to the office. And yet, these things still happen all the time. I will share the "conversation" I had with the nurse on my blog tomorrow and I will be writing a letter to the doctor to let him know this is not the first time this person has treated me this way.

In the meantime, I hope you've had a happy weekend.


Saturday, April 21, 2012

International Hermit & Stitch Weekend

You might have noticed my new blog gadget over there on the right hand side about the IHSW. It's a totally amazing thing where a bunch of women who have never met, but love to stitch, decide that they will all have a hermit and stitch weekend. We get nothing out of it except for some progress on our WIP's and the knowledge that our sister stitchers are also setting aside the weekend for stitching.

The rules are loose and I can't remember which blog sponsors this weekend every month and I will try to find it so I can link it. You're allowed to take care of the house, blog, read a newspaper or book, or just hang out in your jammies. But the point is that one weekend a month, we try to dedicate time to working on our cross stitching at some point.

I think it would be really awesome if we could do one of these stitch alongs as a weekend getaway somewhere central to all of our locations. There's nothing as fun as getting together with people who share your passion whatever it might be. I've never been to a get together with other bloggers and I would really like to go to one.

I was reading Jenny Lawson's book (The Bloggess) and when I got to the part where her blogger friend talked her into going to a blogger conference, she was totally terrified and confessed (in the book) that she was really not good at relationships with other women. Mostly, I think, because she thought they wouldn't like her and she has horrible generalized anxiety disorder and she spends most gatherings hiding in the bathroom until it's time to go home so her anxiety doesn't make her mouth spit out inappropriate things, even for drunk people.

I can so relate.

Online, you can be the person you always wanted to be. You can be self-confident, witty, worldly, or whatever you would like to be. You can write anything and everything and you don't generally have to deal with people in person. And this is what I'm good at. In social situations, I'm a total disaster. I don't hide in the bathroom, but I do generally leave shortly after I arrive and I find myself struck mute the minute we walk in the door and see people we don't know. And for me to be mute, well, that's just unheard of. I'm a totally different person in person.

Which is why it's so weirdly awesome that I forced myself to go to the Embroidery Guild meeting last month and then I forced myself to go to the Embroidery club meeting the next week. And I have something to talk about with these people. It's like a kid who loves candy walking into Willy Wonka's place. These women get me. In fact, at the second meeting, I was asked for help on the nametag from a woman who doesn't do cross stitch. I was comfortable at all of these meetings because (a) the women are all at least a little bit older than me and some of them are living in the retirement home where the EGA meeting is  held. For some reason, I am so much better with women who are more "mature." For some reason, I always assume that women my age or younger are mean girls and I know it's not right to judge people I haven't met, but I've had enough experiences with mean girls that the company of women who are a little (or a lot) older is strangely comforting.

(B) is that all of these women love to sew, just like me. I have been searching ever since we moved to Winchester for women who share my passion for making pretty things from fabric and thread and just had no luck whatsoever.  Then the EGA chapter was born here and I found the people I had been looking for.

And bonus. Just as I was leaving the last embroidery club meeting, I discovered that the treasurer of our chapter has fibromyalgia. OMG, that is freaking unreal! I found someone not too far from my age with fibromyalgia who loves to sew. I'm already thinking here's a potential real life friend! I'm going to have to be careful to curb my enthusiasm so I don't scare her away. It's like trying to get the squirrel to come and take the nut out of your hand. You don't jump in its face and say "OMG, we have so much in common. Please be my best friend!" Because it makes you look weird and really  mental. And I have enough experience with my "mental" scaring people off to know how to not do that anymore.

Here's a bonus for you for reading this rambling email. I finished the April cottage last night.

I'm working on finishing the edging on three new pieces of the same fabric to do the February, March, and May cottages. I figure it's easier just to go ahead and have the fabric ready. It will save time, even though it's eating into my "real" stitching time this afternoon.

It's supposed to rain here all day tomorrow and I plan to do laundry and stitch. I will post a bunch of updates on my current projects on Monday, hopefully, if I can stick to the plan. (I have a couple of other blog posts that need to write themselves and are rattling around in my mind.)

Happy stitching or happy weekend. Whichever applies.

P.S. I caved to the lure of financial gain and wrote my first post for money. I promise this will not be a usual thing and I will only review products or websites that fit with what my blog is about. I don't know whether to be proud that I actually made money on something I wrote or ashamed. Because I don't want my blog to be ads to make you spend money. That is so not what I'm about. But I honestly used the site and I honestly saved money, so I'm thinking I'll go with proud. Yes. Proud.


Friday, April 20, 2012

Do You Coupon?

I wonder how many people watch that show Extreme Couponing. I watched it a few times and was absolutely impressed by how organized these people are, the stash of goods they got for free with their coupons, how many hours they spent every week couponing, and how they would kick a kid out of a room to use it for product storage.

Okay, that last one never happened (on the show...that I know of...). But I saw lots of basements full to the rafters with groceries that were acquired for free and years worth of shampoo, body wash, toothbrushes, gum, spaghetti sauce, frozen snacks, and on and on. It really was kind of awesome in a really scary kind of way. It almost reminded me of the OCD that hoarders suffer from in reverse. The anxiety at the checkout line as the couponer would watch the total amount go down with each coupon and the panic attack when a coupon didn't go through kind of struck me as a mental disorder on some level. But it was a mental disorder that was working to their advantage, since they were basically paying nothing for their groceries. And they had a supermarket in their home. How cool would that be? Need something for dinner? Go shopping in your basement.

I want to know where the meat coupons come from, because we've never seen meat coupons anywhere. As you know, if you read this blog regularly, Justin is the grocery shopping expert in our home and if I make a trip for him, it results in an inevitable argument. He pairs coupons with sales, he will only buy things if they are on sale, and $300 nets him about double the groceries that it does for me.

I am a firm believer in coupons. It's free money. But I'm too disorganized and too ADD to really get the most that I can out of coupons.

I get a lot of ads for sales at my favorite stores in my email. I'm sure you do too. But wouldn't it be awesome if you could pair an online sale with a coupon?

That's where a site called Coupon Chief can come in handy. I received a request to review the site and I was amazed at how many different stores have coupons on the site. I spent some time maneuvering around and discovered that Coldwater Creek (my new favorite clothing store) participates. Also Target, Hanes, 1-800-Contacts, Old Navy, FTD, and almost any other store where I might shop has coupon listings on the site. And it's all online shopping, which is my forte, considering my agoraphobia.

It took me a couple of days to decide what I truly needed to order. I didn't want to just buy something in order to give the site a review. Then I realized while doing the laundry that Joey's underwear is about three sizes too small and his sweat pants are starting to look like capris (which is not a good look on boys). So I went to Coupon Chief and checked out their Hanes coupons. They have a multitude of available savings for Hanes and I ended up getting a savings of $11.99 which I would have spent for shipping (free shipping) and a $5 off coupon on the final total.

I put a bunch of things in the cart that Joey needed and my initial total was $65. Adding shipping would have made it 76.99, but because of Coupon Chief's coupons, I got free shipping, bringing it back down to $65. Tax was $3.00, making it $68, but with a $5 off coupon from Coupon Chief, my end total was $63. So with the site, I saved $13.99, a significant savings.

I love shopping online and finding a way to bring my total way down. This was a no brainer and I will definitely be going back the next time I need to buy something. They have a variety of different coupons available for each retailer and you can choose the one that will save you the most money.

I'm not an organized couponer. But since this request for a site review was in sync with my savings and spending updates and my attempts to keep costs down raising three boys in an expensive area of the country, I am always happy to have coupons dropped into my lap. No waiting for the circulars every Sunday. No clipping. Just copy and paste the code and it automatically takes the savings off. It's a win-win.

(This is a paid, sponsored post by Coupon Chief. The opinions, however, are completely my own. I highly recommend this site.)


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

It's All About the Animals

Okay, after yesterday's soul wrenching post, I needed to lighten things up a little. Plus, I have wasted most of my morning, so I am going to make this short and hopefully brighten up your day with a couple of pet pictures and one stitching update. (More updates to come, but everything is downstairs right now and I'm not!)

Oh, and I also wanted to point my stitching friends over to Claudette's Heaven and Earth Designs Blog where I will be posting progress on my Fairy on Butterfly project. I haven't put up my first post yet, but there are lots of other neat projects for you to look at if you haven't already. I will be posting all updates on that project over there from now on, so I promise to point you in that direction.


Just a little pet therapy for you.

Geez, do they love each other or what? That dog adores Justin!

Yeah, I'm kinda just the backup here when it comes to the dog. He'll take me in a pinch if Justin isn't around, but if Justin's home, I'm chopped meat. Or less than chopped meat because if I was chopped meat, he'd be more interested in me.

Max takes over my stitching chair.
Yeah, it's kind of hard to accomplish anything when you have a cat as a backrest pillow. This cat will actually try to sneak onto my lap when I'm not looking and he weighs 20 pounds, so when he makes it, it kind of knocks you over.

She tried to eat the roses,
After almost two years of hiding from the dog, Kylie finally is starting to venture out into the rest of the house again. She will even deign to be in the same room with him if she thinks a treat might be involved. And Jack is so patient. It's like he understands she's afraid of him and will lie there very calmly while she investigates.

Obviously, I live for these animals.

But, I promised you a stitching update and I have been working really hard on my rotation. I took this picture so that my friend could see that I haven't forgotten her:

Her skirt is almost done. Once I get the main portion of the project done, I think it will go fast. There are a lot of half stitches in there.

With that, I'm going to close, because it's 10:00 and I'm still sitting here in my pajamas and that just feels wrong. I've never been able to do the pajama day thing unless I'm really sick (as in coughing up a lung) or just had surgery. And even then, I try to at least get into sweat pants.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

It's a Major Award!!!

For those of you who don't know A Christmas Story, please come out from the rock you've been hiding under, because they run it for 24 hours straight on Christmas Eve every year on TNT. If you don't have cable, get the DVD. If you don't have a DVD player, then I can't help you. Maybe phone a friend?

Anyway, I won another award and this one means a great deal to me. It's over there on the right. It's the "I Choose To Live" award and it was given to me by one of my favorite mental health advocates, Jen over at Suicidal No More: Learning to Live With Schizoaffective Disorder. Jen is an awesome mental health advocate who has managed to get herself an associates degree, move on to a four year university, work part time, intern at the mental health center where she was once a patient herself, learned to recognize and manage her symptoms, and get and hold onto her own apartment. This last must have taken a phenomenal amount of determination, because Jen was once homeless and wandering the streets with full blown psychosis.

The I Choose to Live award is given by Jen every year to bloggers who write about mental health issues and basically choose to live, even when confronted with major depression, schizoaffective disorder (also known as schizophrenia), bipolar disorder, OCD, and other psychiatric disorders.

This award applies to me. At one time it wouldn't have. Because there was a time when I tried to choose not to live. I've debated over the last almost two years of blogging about whether to discuss this issue, because talking about suicide or suicidal thoughts makes a lot of people extremely uncomfortable. They don't know what to say or how to act around someone who is expressing these thoughts and they don't know how to help.

I can't remember if I ever shared my story of my suicide attempt when I was 19. I think I did, but I have so many more readers now than when I probably wrote it, so I'm going to recap it for you here.

I was living at home and working as a receptionist at the same office where my mom worked. I had suffered from major depressive disorder throughout my teenage years, a fact which my parents were unaware of. I had a boyfriend from high school that I was "pre-engaged" to - there was a ring, but he told me, "If we're still together in five years, we'll get married." It turns out he was smarter than I was at the time, because five years later, we sure weren't together. In fact, he picked one summer evening when I was feeling at my lowest to break up with me. (I may be getting all of these facts muddled and out of order because that time is really hazy.) I remember driving home, waking up my parents, and sobbing on my dad's shoulder about it. Which was weird, because I always went to my mom for the big stuff. But somehow, this time, I wanted my daddy. (I'm still Daddy's little girl, even though we don't have much in common.)

This was the summer of 1983. Or maybe it was 1984. My mom was having major surgery and my parents were having a rough time with my brother. They decided that it would be best if my dad took my brother away for a couple of weeks so that my mom could recuperate "drama free." (My brother did the best impression of a rebellious, anti-authority, oppositional defiant kid I've ever seen.  My house had a lot of yelling, from which I hid in my room with my nose in a book.)

I had spent the day out at the pool with a male friend and we made plans to go to a movie later that evening. I was despondent about the break up with the boyfriend. I had been fighting depression with no counseling and no drug therapy for years. Nobody knew what was wrong with me. (I wasn't diagnosed with bipolar disorder until I was 34. Isn't that sad?)

What I knew was that my boyfriend had broken up with me because he said he thought I would be happier without him. Obviously, that was eventually the case, but at the time, I thought the world was coming to an end. It seemed like the last straw. I had stopped by a local drugstore and bought two bottles of over the counter sleeping pills, "just to have them in case." In case of what? In case the pain got to be more than I could handle. I figured that two bottles would be enough to just send me to sleep and I wouldn't wake up. I wasn't romanticizing suicide. I just wanted to go to sleep and not be in pain anymore. I'd been in pain since I was 13 and I was tired of being in pain. The breakup was just the final insult added many, many failures and epic teenage disasters.

Because, as a teenager, you know that everything that happens to you affects the world turning. The whole world is you and your feelings and you don't know what to do with them. They're overwhelming. Add hormones to depression and you get the potential for a nuclear explosion inside your brain.

I came home from the pool that afternoon, asked my mother if she wanted anything for dinner, and when she said she wasn't hungry, took a large glass of water upstairs to my bedroom. I uncapped the bottles and poured the pills into my hand. It was a lot of pills. But then again, it was a lot of water. I only thought about it for a second, because I was afraid I was going to chicken out and I wanted to be gone by the time my friend came for the movie.

Fortunately, those over the counter drugs weren't fast enough. When my friend came, the doorbell rang and my mother yelled up for me to answer the door. I was frustrated and angry at that point. What the hell? Why was I still awake and breathing?

I told my friend what I had done. He begged me to go stick my finger down my throat and throw up the pills. I tried, but nothing happened. While I was doing that, he was telling my poor mother, who had had major surgery a couple of weeks before, what I had done. When I came down and said I couldn't throw up, my mother grabbed the empty bottles and rushed me to the hospital, anxiously looking at me every few seconds. I was angry and told her to quit worrying, nothing was happening.

Except that it was. By the time we got to the hospital, my heart rate was up, by blood pressure was all over the place, my breathing was erratic. They bypassed the "make her throw up" routine and went right to pumping my stomach. I overheard a doctor telling Mom, "She's just doing it for attention." If I could locate that doctor, I would so kick him in the nuts and ask him if that pain deserved any attention.

If you attempt suicide now, you earn yourself an inpatient stay in the psych ward at the hospital so they can diagnose you and get you on a drug regimen to prevent it from happening again. In 1984, I got one night in the regular hospital and an hour with a psychiatrist who did no tests, asked all the wrong questions, and made an appointment for me to come back to see her. Classic suicide intervention at that time. And totally wrong. Someone should have been watching me 24/7 until I was stable, mentally. But they just didn't know.

I went to that psychiatrist for a few sessions and decided I didn't need her. And probably I didn't, because she wasn't doing anything for me. Talk therapy doesn't work for bipolar disorder if you don't treat the underlying physiological disease first with drugs.

Years later, after Joey was born, I flipped out so completely that nobody recognized me. And then I took another trip to the hospital after lining the medication bottles (prescription this time) up along the counter and trying to decide if I wanted to take them. I was so flipped out and in so much crisis that I couldn't think of what this would do to Justin or to my children or my parents. I just wanted to be out of the brain that was completely out of control. I couldn't stand the mania anymore or the irritability or the inability to deal with my children. I couldn't stand the insomnia and I wasn't safe around my children. I knew I wasn't safe around my children and I thought suicide would be the best way to take care of the problem. I just wouldn't be around them anymore. I thought I would be doing them a favor. (Bipolar disorder is such a fucking liar!)

And then I told Justin and he took me to the Emergency Room and they admitted me to the mental health portion of the hospital. His leaving me after I checked in was the scariest moment of my life, but I knew I had to do it or I was going to die.

Awhile ago, when I thought I might write a book about being bipolar, I requested all of my records from that time. When I received them, there were so many things I didn't even remember. And the psychiatric records just made me feel a shame I had worked hard to get rid of. I kept the records in a binder with some ideas for the book for a few months and then threw them out. Because I really didn't want my children to ever have to read about the things I did and how horribly I had acted.

And that's the problem. Mental illness causes you to act in ways that make you ashamed. And then you want to hide it. And so the stigma goes on because if you share with other people, you are really sharing the deepest, darkest, blackest part of your soul; the things you did when you were out of control that now horrify you. You want to erase that part of your history and never let it see the light of day.

But if we don't let that blackest part of ourselves see the light of day, the stigma goes on and no one gets help.

I won't ever write about what was in those notes. But I will continue to stand up for awareness of mental illness and erasing the stigma. One in four people is affected in some way by mental illness. This is an epidemic larger than the autism epidemic. Larger than cancer. It's so big, we can't begin to imagine how big it is.

We need to shine a light on mental illness and allow people to get help before they get to the point of thinking it's better to die than it is to live.

I choose to live. Every day, I still choose to live. For Justin. For my children. But especially for me, because I know I still have more to offer to the world. And I would like to see my children get married, have their own children, retire with my husband to the house in the mountains we've always talked about.

I choose to live.

If you are thinking about suicide or know someone who is, please ask for help. There is a suicide hotline in your area. If you are actively suicidal, please call 911 or go to the emergency room. I promise, they will help you.

Those thoughts in my head were lies that my sick brain was telling me. With medication and a lot of work, I am no longer suicidal. But I still have the unwanted thoughts on occasion. The difference is that now I know the thoughts will pass.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Soon They'll ALL Be Driving!!!! EEEEKKKK!!!!

I think we can all identify with this cartoon. It's just so tempting to drive and check that text that just chimed in. Or respond to a text because you think you can pay attention to the road at the same time. Or check your email. Or the you tube video...and then CRASH!!!!!

I saw that video online and it was horrifying.

It's more horrifying because I have a 20 year old driver and, at the end of this month, my middle son will be able to get his learner's permit. And he wants to. In fact, he's already asking which car he will be able to drive and telling me he wants his dad to teach him. I suppose that's because I'm not the world's best driver. Okay, I have trouble concentrating while driving. I work on this really hard. And I put the phone in my purse so that I'm not tempted. Because no text is worth having an accident and possibly hurting or killing yourself or someone else.

The problem is that technology has crashed into our teenagers' driving abilities. If you've ever had to go to a high school to pick up a kid, all you see is kids walking along with their heads down and thumbs going while they text. I think we're raising a whole generation of people who won't know how to have a face to face relationship because whatever is coming in on their cell phone is always more compelling than whatever the person you are with is saying.

Does this mean that survival of the fittest means that only people who are disconnected will be able to reproduce? Cybersex has its place in the lives of teenage boys, for sure, but it's not going to fertilize those eggs.

I was shocked to realize that Jamie will be eligible for his learner's permit this month. I don't know where the time went. All of a sudden, my little boy is not a little boy anymore. He's taller than me. He's got a great personality. He's got a whacky sense of humor. And he's responsible - way more responsible than his grades indicate. He just doesn't particularly care for school and that's not unusual. He does what he has to in order to get by, but his interest is in other things - the sheriff's department cadet program, for instance.

The cadet program makes me feel better about Jamie driving. Because he hangs out with cops, he's constantly telling me if I have made a mistake driving. "Mom, you need to slow down. It's a 25 mile zone." "Mom, you shouldn't have your cell phone out while you're driving." "Mom, you almost drove off the road."

(In my defense, I don't text while moving and I have trouble seeing when the road isn't lighted at night. Which is why I almost never drive at night. And I am careful about speeding since I got two speeding tickets in the same month on the same road five years ago.)

It's been five years since I taught Ben how to drive and I am happy to say that (as far as I know) he has only had one minor accident which occurred in the school parking lot. Only a brand new Volkswagon Beetle was harmed and he paid for the repair so that we didn't have to submit it to our insurance. He told me he talked his way out of a speeding ticket once (probably more than once, but he's only owning up to one). When I asked him how on earth he did it, he said he was just extremely respectful and the officer let him off with a warning. I noticed that he has slowed down a lot from when he was first learning. I don't think he wants a speeding ticket because he knows that we would make him pay for it and he doesn't have the money, being a broke college student who only works 8 hours a week and has to pay for his own gas and cell phone.

I am happy to turn over the driving lessons to Justin this time. When Ben was learning, he had no interest in learning to drive Justin's car because he was scared to death he would damage it in some way. So he never learned to drive a stick shift. Jamie tells me he can't wait to learn how to drive a standard transmission. When I told Justin, he said, "He won't be driving MY car." I agree, because the insurance on a teenager driving a sports car would be through the roof and I don't think Jamie can afford it on his allowance.

"He's not driving MY car!"
Justin actually tried to teach Ben how to drive this car and Ben didn't quite make it out of the driveway. I think Jamie actually believes that he will be allowed to use this car when he gets his license. We need to disillusion him. Justin plans to leave this car to one of his kids in his will, but that won't be for a long time and he figures out who will really want it. I have a feeling it will be Jamie, but then again, we have three sons and who knows?

This whole teenage driving thing is a mixed blessing. It scares me that my kids are going to be out there on the road with all of the crazy, distracted drivers or that they might be the crazy, distracted driver, but I trust my kids way more than I trust the other people on the road. And the blessing part is that you can give them money and send them to the store when it's raining and you're still in your pajamas. Having kids run your errands for you is awesome.

This is just one more reason why I think a move to a non-populated area is a good idea. The roads of Winchester are too congested for my liking. Of course, we moved from a much more congested area almost six years ago and when we go back to that area, I am shocked at just how congested it really is. It scares me to drive there, so I am reminded that it could be worse. But it could be better too - there could be roads with no drivers.

It's too bad we don't want to pull the kids from the current school system, because there are starting to be a lot more check marks in the "reasons to move" column than in the "reasons not to move" column.

My 15 year old is going to be getting his learner's permit in two weeks. Hold me, I'm scared.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

A Little Noise Never Hurt Anybody, Right?

I love spring time. The time when the lilacs bloom. The time when the trees put out leaves and the grass gets green and the pollen is in the air...

I love to have the windows open to get the spring breezes and hear the birds chirping.

What I don't love is living in a neighborhood where the lawnmowers run all weekend and the kids knock on your door multiple times a day and immediately after they knock they ring the doorbell and then the dog goes batshit crazy. What I don't love is the intrusion of sound into my world, unless it is sound of my own creation. What I don't love is the sound of construction equipment from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. every summer.

I've gotten so sensitive to noise that I almost can never have my windows open, which kind of pisses me off. Yesterday, I asked Justin if he could move anywhere in the world when we retire, where would he live. He had basically the exact same idea as I do. A log cabin in the mountains of North Carolina on a big lake. Blissfully quiet. No dogs yapping or kids shouting or doorbells ringing. No construction equipment noise.  No lawnmowers going all weekend long, as people try to catch up on the chores they missed during the week.

I've gotten so sensitive to noise that I have to mute all the commercials when I watch television. If something is repetitive, I get annoyed to the point of discomfort. If they crank up the volume when it goes to the commercial, I am grabbing for the remote.

We live in a very nice neighborhood with very nice neighbors. The problem is that when we moved here, our goal was to own a single family home. We had hoped for a little more privacy with the house, but unfortunately, the only house available was smack dab in the middle of a neighborhood with lots only 1/3 of an acre. Our neighbors on the left can see into our hot tub from their upstairs windows. The neighbor on the right likes to use his deck (and why shouldn't he?) and if the windows are open at night, the voices carry.

I get inordinately irritated by all this noise. It's the normal noise of living in a society and it's not city noise, by any means. But I, for some reason, am annoyed to the point of wanting to move. I can't watch anything on television anymore unless it's a movie on cable with no commercials. I don't even listen to the radio anymore, but use my iPod in the car, often using my serenity sounds tracks.

I find myself similarly irritated to the point of discomfort by the sun beating through my windows. Both the car and the house. As the sun goes down in the evenings, it beats through the front windows of our house unrelentingly. The place where my recliner is situated is directly in the path of the sun as it goes down and I find myself having to move to the couch. It's almost like a personal attack - at least that's how my body reacts. I need sunglasses when I leave the house because my eyes are so light sensitive. No one ever understood why I couldn't wear contacts. When I tried, my eyes hurt so bad that I couldn't leave them in.

The sensitivity is getting worse as I get older. I am constantly telling Joey to lower his voice because he has one volume - loud, louder, loudest. I get angry that the kids are constantly knocking on the door and ringing the doorbell. I hate it when the phone rings. (Which is why I love my iPhone because I can make the sounds more agreeable. But I still hate talking on the phone.)

I don't know if the light and noise sensitivity is a part of the fibromyalgia, but I suspect that it is. Because it is so uncomfortable for me, I actually get extremely cranky and snappy and I don't like my voice like that.

I suspect I will be retreating back upstairs when summer gets here to get away from the doorbell. I have walky talkies purchased for Joey, but he has more than one friend across the street and they all come at separate times and multiple times and we can't figure out how they will work when the kids are constantly wanting to know if he can come out. Because he is so much older than they are, we hope that once he gets to high school, he is going to lose interest in "playing" with kids that are so much younger than he is. Then again, I am happy that he has friends, even if they are so much younger, so I don't want to stifle his wanting to go out to play.

Today, I told Justin (and Joey) that I understood why my mother finally grounded me when I asked for the 14th time if I could run through the sprinkler one more time when I was 13. She got tired of me coming in and out and asking her and she must have finally just had enough. I was a first rate nag and I don't know how she put up with me. I am probably still a first rate nag, but I can control it to a point now. Now I have a 13 year old nag and I guess payback is hell...

I don't know what my point is. It's not that I don't like my neighbors or don't want to be neighborly. It's just that I don't want the noise of everyday life intruding into my space. Maybe that makes me a bad mom, for not wanting to be the house where all the kids hang out. Or a crabby, cranky neighbor. Of course, when the older kids have friends over, they don't come wandering downstairs looking for a snack and force me to shut off the R rated movie I am watching. They also don't want to hang out and talk to me, which is just fine by me. They're here to see the kids, not the kids' mom. And that's just fine.

I sometimes wonder if when the nest gets empty, I will miss the noise. But I really doubt it.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

A Short Poll

I have a question for my cross stitch friends who do large projects (or BAP's or Big Ass Projects). Do you use a mounted frame?

I'm wondering if my HAED would be easier to work on if I used a frame or even a hoop. I never use one and if I need one for this new project, any recommendations would be appreciated. The fabric is so big that it's very hard to not get the thread caught when I am going over and under while stitching.

I noticed a lot of women in my sewing guild and in the sewing club use hoops. I've never liked using them because you have to use the "stabbing" method of sewing and because it distorts the stitches that it is covering, but I have been using the stabbing method more lately because it doesn't tangle the thread as much as sewing just on the top of the fabric. I was thinking some kind of mounted frame might be a good idea.


Let me know how you are stitching your HAED's and whether you would recommend that method or not. I know that Lesli was saying that the snap frame she was using was giving her pain in her neck (literally) and I don't want to add to my pain. If I use a large floor based frame, how would I have to sit to sew? I need a lot of support for my shoulder and wrist while I sew.

Thanks for your input. Just leave a comment for me letting me know what you prefer.

P.S. My HAED choice was Fairy on Butterfly:

Isn't she gorgeous?

Friday, April 13, 2012

What On Earth Have I Been Up To?

I've been stitching up a storm and I can tell you that I am most pleased by the fact that I am in both the embroidery guild and the sewing club. In fact, to borrow Jenny Lawson's phrase, both of these are making me furiously happy and who doesn't need some of that in their life?

So, here's what I've been working on:

April Cottage by Country Cottage Needleworks

Hearts and Flowers by DJ's Designs

Elegant Geisha by Dimensions

Heaven and Earth Designs

So I've put work into all of these projects. The Heaven and Earth Designs, I am keeping a secret as to what it is. It has 20 pages of pattern and each page has approximately 1,000 stitches, so by the time it's done (in about 10 years), it will be around 200,000 stitches. It took me five hours to get the gridding right and I'm still not sure I did it properly because I didn't cut the thread at the end of each line. I am hoping it won't be a nightmare to find when I am ready to pull the gridding out. This will be done a page at a time and I am aiming to do one square (100 stitches) per day. Yesterday I went into the second square, simply because it was the same color and was easier than switching out threads.

I got quite a bit of work done on my Love Quilt square. I had to abandon the idea of doing the metallic embellishment in the diamond. I need to have all of the surrounding area done before I can do the metallic work. And that's okay with me because I hate working with metallics!

I am putting a couple of hours per week into the Geisha (even though it doesn't look like I've made any progress) and I am almost done with her dress. Soon, hopefully, it will look like what it is supposed to look like.

I need to get to work on my cottages because I am way behind. I still have February and March to do and I received May's pattern about a week or two ago. June's design has been finished and will be ready by the end of the month. But I figure I can stitch these at my leisure and will eventually have all twelve months.

So now you know why I've been so absent from the internet. Quite honestly, I've really needed a break from it. I plan to spend the weekend searching for good movies on our new streaming Blu Ray player and stitching a bunch. I can't think of a better way to spend my time!

Till next time...

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A Month of Spending

This is a post I've been putting off for exactly 10 days now.

I decided in March that I wanted to prove that I was behaving in the spending department, just like I told Justin I had been Just like I told myself I had been. So I decided I would write down every single thing I spent money on in March. If the money went out because I had pushed the "purchase" button or written a check or stole cash from myself, I wanted to know about it and what I had used it for.

I'll start by saying there is no more cash stash. It's time to start building up my little "luxury" account again. Because I used it all up in March. But that's okay, because that's what it's there for.

Okay, for those of you who have been requesting that I do a spending update, here's the nitty gritty of my March purchases.

March 1:    $50.00 (Embroidery Guild Dues for the next year - check)
March 2:    $20.40 (123 Stitch - hobby - credit card)
                  $20.00 (counselor - check - budgeted expense)
March 3:    $19.98 (gym bag for Jamie - credit card)
March 4:    $105.98 (contacts for Jamie - credit card)
March 5:    $0!!!
March 6:    $0!!!
March 7:    $39.46 (prescriptions - budgeted expense - credit card)
March 8:    $20.00 (counselor - check - budgeted expense)
                  $ 2.49 (pattern for love quilt square - hobby - credit card)
March 9:    $20.00 (embroidery club dues for the next year - hobby - cash)
                  $40.99 (local sewing store - hobby - cash)
                  $12.36 (Hobby Lobby - hobby - cash)
                  $75.72 (Michaels - ott light and other supplies - hobby - cash)
                  $45.94 (123 Stitch - hobby - credit card)
March 10:  $40.00 (Postage to send raffle items for Save Malea - credit card)
March 11:  $156.48 (Old Navy - clothes for Jamie - credit card)
March 12:  $0!!!!
March 13:  $50.00 (Manicure/Pedicure for Malea's birthday - cash)
                  $30.00 (Lunch for Malea's birthday - cash)
                  $12.42 (AC Moore - hobby - cash)
                  $65.00 (Gas - credit card - budgeted expense)
March 14:  $0!!!!
March 15:  $85.00 (Massage Therapy - check - budgeted expense)
March 16:  $20.00 (Counselor - check - budgeted expense)
                   $39.00 (Prescriptions and groceries - credit card - budgeted expense)
March 17:  $6.00 (Field Trip Fee for Joey - check - not budgeted because we didn't know about it)
March 18:  $0!!!!
March 19:  $70.00 (Sears Repair to tell us it would cost $423 for a new icemaker - check - seriously?)
March 20:  $10.89 (Car Magnet - credit card - "I want it")
March 21:  $22.00 (Lunch with friend - cash)
                  $121.00 (Clothes for me - cash)
March 22:  $16.60 (Preorder Jen Lancaster's new book - credit card)
March 23:  $210.00 (iPhone - credit card - planned expense)
                  $40.00 (iPhone case - credit card)
March 24:  $90.00 (Prescription - credit card - budgeted expense)
March 25  $20.50 (Wendy's because Justin was out of town and cooking scares me sometimes - cash)
March 26:  $0!!!!
March 27:  $38.00 (Autism t-shirts from Joey's school because his design is on it - check)
March 28:  $0!!!!!
March 29:  $95.00 (Massage Therapy - check - budgeted expense)
March 30:  $20.00 (Counselor - check - budgeted expense)
                  $40.00 (Walky Talkies for Joey - credit card - not budgeted but needed to stop doorbell)
March 31:  $110.00 (Malea's fundraiser - cash)

The breakdown:

Let's look at my little hobby obsession. I spent $280.32 on my sewing supplies in March. Lest you think I am overspending in this area, $70 were for a year's worth of dues and I got the Ott light for 60% off with a coupon for $60. So, if you take out those "one time" expenses, I spent $150.32 on sewing supplies. Still too high, but most of it was paid for out of my spending cash that I had been setting aside.

I had 7 days last month where I spent no money on anything.

The budgeted expenses that went onto the credit card are paid off at the end of the month. We use the credit card instead of the debit card because the bank wanted to start charging us a fee when we used it. We said no way and use a credit card instead. As long as we pay these expenses off at the end of the month, we're okay.

The $70 to the Sears guy was an unwise payment. We knew the ice maker was broken. We knew it was going to be expensive to replace it. I am now the official "icemaker," although Justin is doing his part. We have four trays and every time they freeze, we empty them into containers in the freezer. Much cheaper than $423 for a new icemaker.

Kids are expensive. No, it doesn't get better when they grow out of diapers and baby food. It gets worse. Jamie needed clothes, contacts, and a gym bag for school. The walky talkies for Joey are a sanity purchase. I will be putting one on the front step in a weather proof container and one in his room. That way, when the kids from across the street come over and want to know if Joey can come out for the 900th time, they can just pick up a walky talky and ask him themselves. And hopefully the dog will stop going nuts. We just came off spring break and trust me, we are going to need these for the summer. It will save both Justin and me in the sanity department.

The massage therapy is a new expense and I am hoping some of it will be covered by insurance. Most of the time, they don't cover massage, but I found someone who is certified in spinal manipulation and that is part of what is being done. It's all fibromyalgia related, so they really should cover all of it, but insurance would much rather I take a bunch of pills and lay in bed all day. I prefer to find alternative treatments and at least make it to the recliner downstairs.

These are only the amounts that I paid out last month and did not include our monthly bills, which are paid online through the automatic bill pay. They also did not include the regular grocery shopping that is done every Sunday by Justin.

We saved a bunch of money by my staying home when Justin went to New York to get his head shaved for St. Baldrick's. No hotel, because he stayed with friends. He took his car, which I could never ride in for six hours, and it gets the best gas mileage of the three we have. Double, in fact. And no cost to board the dog for two days. I missed going on the trip, but he was there and back so fast, I almost didn't know he was gone!

I'd like to say that April will be less expensive, but I doubt it. We put money towards the beach house that we are renting in June with my parents already. Ben is having crowns done and I am going to have to fight with the dental insurance again because they only covered one of the three we're doing this year and they covered two last year. Because he has an enamel defect, this is not a luxury or cosmetic. He has teeth with no enamel and the ones that do have enamel are losing it rapidly. He needs a crown on every single tooth. To the tune of $1142 per crown this year (yes, it goes up each year, just like everything except salaries). The dentist fights for us with the insurance company and I am hoping the resubmission she sent them last week with pictures of his holy (holey?) teeth will be frightening enough to make them cough up 80% of the second crown. If possible, I would like for him to get four done this year because he's 20. The more we can get done for him, the less he will have to pay for himself when he graduates. (I found myself counting my teeth the other day to see exactly how many crowns he will need. In case you were wondering, it's 28. Thank God he had his wisdom teeth removed!)

I was wondering how many other people keep track of what they are spending. I stopped after March (mostly because it was depressing to see how I seemed to have something to write down every single day and because I pretty much got the result I was expecting). I know I spend a lot in the hobby department, so I don't know if I need to try to reign it in or not. I feel like I have enough things to work on to last me for at least this year and possibly into next year (and possibly longer than that!), so maybe I can back that down and work on what I have. I'm trying to stay off of the 123 Stitch website, because it's just too tempting.

How did I do? (Because honestly, I'm not sure.)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Would You Like Fries With Your Depression?

I've been fighting a case of the downright depression blues. Yesterday, I stood in my bathroom and sobbed because I felt bad about something so blatantly stupid that I couldn't stand the idea of Justin knowing I was crying about it. And yep, sure enough, when I told him later that I had been crying before we got into the argument discussion about how I spend way too much at the grocery store and he does it better, he told me I was being ridiculous.

Of course, a feeling is just a feeling is just a feeling. So, as much as I know he was trying to make me feel better, I also know that I felt hurt and upset and that was okay.

The fact that the March winds have arrived in April, after a particularly long spate of days that were almost summer like is not helping matters. Winchester is known as the apple blossom capital of the world and the fact that it's been gusting up to 40 mph since Sunday and blowing all of the pretty blooms off the trees is bothering me. Why does this always happen every spring? It gets really pretty outside and then boom. We have hurricane strength winds and they blows all the pretty away. Is someone playing a joke? I didn't realize that Virginia was the wind tunnel of the world.

With all of the various weather changes, I have been moving around like I am 80 years old and bedridden. My ankles creak, my fingers crack, my shoulder feels like someone is stabbing me. Fibromyalgia - the gift that keeps on giving. You know that old saying? When in Texas (or where ever), if you don't like the weather, wait five minutes? I think someone got the state wrong.

I am struggling to figure out whether I want to keep blogging about my life, switch over to an all cross stitch blog, or just read what everyone else is posting. Right now, I am adding more and more cross stitch blogs to my reader just to see what everyone else is working on. Of course, then I want to order more patterns and supplies and hand my credit card to the woman at Hobby Lobby and say I'll take one of everything in your stitching department. No, make that two. No, three...well, you get the idea.

When I started blogging, it was because I was desperately in need of a confidence boost. I had just been fired from my job and I had some things to say about it and I wanted people to hear them. Now, I'm wondering if it's run its course. Not everyone can be a Jenny Lawson or that woman on the TJ Maxx "fashionista" blogger commercial. The internet is such a vast place and how do you carve out a place in it? Especially if you're not sure what you want to "be" on the internet?

I've been lucky in that my blogging accomplished its original purpose. But now, I am finding that my focus has shifted almost entirely to cross stitching and I don't want to write so much anymore. Maybe it isn't a passion so much as it was a need that has now been met?

I've mentioned on here before that I wasn't sure what to do with this blog. I still am not sure what to do with this blog. But I think I am at a cross roads. I need to decide. Am I going to keep writing? Am I going to set up a separate blog for the cross stitching? There's a whole community of stitchers out there and I suspect they don't really want to hear me whining. They want to see pictures. And not of the dog.

But, while I try to decide what to do about this blog, here is a video of my dog and cat...we call them Dumb and Dumber. I think the cat is actually "Dumber." The dog would probably title this "Stay Away From My Junk."

Those animals crack me up.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

EGA Nametag Finish!

I finished up my name tag this afternoon and it is now ready to be "finished" so that I can wear it at guild and club meetings. I even got the charms on all by myself! The apple represents Winchester, which is the apple capital of the United States (I think!). White House Apples is headquartered here and we have an annual Apple Blossom Festival coming up in a few weeks. The cardinal is the state bird of Virginia.

The butterflies are a border I added myself. I had some extra space at the bottom and really wanted to add at least one purple butterfly, since this will represent "me" every time I go stitching with a group. I looked at Hobby Lobby and Joann's for charms, but couldn't find anything I liked. So, I just decided to stitch them on myself.

Name Tag Design: Betsy Morgan at Willing Hands
Butterfly Border by Jenny Rasmussen at (free)
Date Begun: 04/05/12
Date Finished: 04/08/12

Now I'm off to work on my Love Quilt square for a bit.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Some Stitchy News

My parents were here for two days from South Carolina and I sadly hugged them goodbye last night. I am so looking forward to June, when we will spend a week together at the beach! Unfortunately, Ben has summer school, so he won't be able to come. I don't know how sad he is about having the whole house to himself for an entire week though.

While my mom was here, we went to Joann's and Hobby Lobby and I got all of the stuff I needed to start on this HAED:

It took us forever to get the thread onto the floss cards (I think there are 49 different colors!) and we were still finishing up when the guys got back from golfing with dinner last night. We were hurrying so fast, we kept tangling the thread.

This is my very first Heaven and Earth Design and it's stitched over one thread on 25 count linen. Like all of the HAED's I've seen, it's a big one, so I anticipate this to be something that will take me a long time to finish. I had to order "glaced" thread to grid the fabric, which will make it much easier not to miscount (which would be a disaster on a piece like this).

Here's some progress on some of my other projects.

This is for my SAL with my friend in Washington state, who finished mine awhile ago. I know it doesn't look like it, but I've filled in a lot of the empty squares and gotten more work done on the bottom of the skirt. I have a ways to go on this one, so will try to find an hour or two this weekend for it.

Progress aplenty on my love quilt square. It's due June 1st, so it's at the top of the pile and I stitched on this almost exclusively last week. I just started the metallic in the diamond, so hopefully a design will be staring out at you from my next picture.

My April cottage is coming right along. When I finish this one, I will have to do February and March before I move on. May is finally here and I got the thread yesterday when I was getting the thread for the HAED. These are quick stitches, but I have so many projects going right now that I'm having a hard time getting them finished.

Last, but not least, this is the beginning of the nametag I will wear when I attend any guild or sewing club related events. Some of it is stitched over one thread, which I thought would be really good practice for the HAED. I discovered yesterday that it works much better when I only use one strand of floss, so that it something I now know for the bigger project.

Speaking of the guild, the director almost tackled me when I came in the door on Thursday and asked if I wanted to co-chair the programs committee for the guild. This means I will be eventually taking over as the chairwoman (person?) and I will be planning what we will be doing at each meeting, getting designers and other needleworkers to come in to teach or give a "trunk" show of their work, planning field trips, etc. I was so excited to be asked, since my self-confidence has been taking something of a beating. I have my first assignment, which is to get the details into place for our field trip on June 7th to Woodlawn Plantation for their 49th annual needlework show. Awesome, except for the fact that we leave at 8:30 a.m. These are the times I wished I drank coffee!

I spent an hour or so cleaning up my blog reading list this morning. There are many that have been posting that I have been skipping over due to lack of time, so I thought it would be a good idea to take off the ones that no longer fit with where I am at the moment. I feel guilty if someone I am subscribed to posts and I don't catch the update and then I feel really stressed out. It feels like there aren't enough hours in the day anymore. We all get 24, right?

And, on that note, I am off for a day of stitching. Justin went down to visit his grandmother, who turns 97 today, so I have my pick of cheesy chick flicks. By the way, did you know that Amazon Prime does not allow you to view movies for free after your first month of membership? Not only did I give them $79 for a year's membership, I also will have to pay a rental fee for any movie I want to watch now that my 30 day trial is up and I forked over my payment. I rejoined Netflix, but they have almost no selection on streaming. You can't even watch Friends unless you buy it on DVD and all of the movies are like 15-20 years old. I know it has something to do with the rights to the movies not being obtained, but what the hell am I paying $8 a month for if I'm not going to get to see the recent movies? I hope this streaming thing catches on soon.