Wednesday, February 29, 2012

That's Why It's Called Art

Anyone who reads this blog is well aware of my love of cross stitching. But today, I thought I would entertain you with a different interest of mine: drawing.

I haven't done a lot of drawing because I'm such a freaking perfectionist and if it doesn't look "gallery worthy," I usually just toss it in the old trash bin. But here are a few of the things I thought might be worth keeping:

My "bear" period:
Just fooling around with animal faces:

Oops. I guess maybe I was still a little in my bear period there. This next one I drew while waiting for Joey to finish his occupational horse therapy on a hot summer day.

This was from the passenger side of the car with the door and window wide open. What you don't see are the flies.

Then I kind of got into a national monuments phase:

I'm ashamed to say that my capitol building was drawn on copy paper. That's right. Good old fashioned crap paper you put into your printer. I didn't have a sketch pad at the time. Just the urge to draw from a photo I saw. I keep this one in a plastic sleeve because it really is kind of the best thing I ever drew.

This is called "Half Finished White House:"

Unlike our government, which seems to be blowing itself up quite well without the help of any radical Islamic groups.

Wow, this post kind of wrote itself. I need to get out the actual sketch pad and show you my pathetic attempts to illustrate one of my children's books. I'm thinking of taking an art class this fall at the local community college. I've promised my oldest son to make it at a time when he's not there because I wouldn't want to embarrass him or anything.

Tomorrow, you get to help me figure out how to make a craft area out of a desk and a recliner chair in my bedroom. Pictures to come.

(Copyright to all drawings Chelle Newton, 2012. Please do not copy without permission.)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Bloggess Likes Me On Twitter!

Good Lord, I have finally reached my life's goal. The Bloggess is following me on Twitter! Now I just need a few witty things to say and some awesome taxidermy to offer up on the alter of her awesomeness. Suggestions welcomed.

If you haven't yet crossed over to the dark side (i.e. buckled under peer pressure to join Twitter to follow your favorite celebrities), please make an account and follow me so I won't be tweeting random comments just to Jenny Lawson. Because then she is going to think I'm a crazy stalker and I don't like this fact to be something people are aware of. Stalking loses all of its mystery and loveliness if the person you're stalking gets completely creeped out by you and then blocks you.

And stalking and lurking are two different things. Who knew? At least, I think they're two different things. I don't lurk much; I read and comment. So, I think I would probably fall much more under the stalker-type category. Which is why I try not to over-comment. Of course, anyone who knows me knows that I over-post. I'm on and off Facebook all day long with my 2 cents and have written over 400 blog posts since October 2010. (I'm sure that Justin is relieved that I have shifted some of my talkiness to another medium besides his ear. He has to get some work done sometime. It's actually amazing he can work from home with me in the house at all.)

Trust me when I tell you that I don't actually tell you everything, because there are some things that are not going to entertain. (Constipation, cat barf, dog's anal glands - see? You didn't want to know.) And then there are things that would entertain, but would also lead to Justin divorcing me because I shared TMI on the internet. After all, he has a professional reputation to uphold and my writing about his job being a little stressful is much better than, say, writing about how he's going to die from sleep deprivation if the middle of the night calls don't stop soon. (Ooops, but the people he works for have no idea he's married to me, so I think we're okay.)

If you haven't figured it out yet, I'm a little loopy from lack of sleep. I'd been doing great on a new regimen of melatonin, benadryl, and ambien (the fact that I can take all of those things at once must make me the poster child for drug tolerance), but last night my combo failed me and I was twiddling my thumbs and hoping The Bloggess was awake and tweeting at midnight. Sadly, she wasn't, so I finally got back to bed. But now I'm going on 6 hours of sleep, which is about 6 too few for me. I don't see a lot of activity in my day today.

Speaking of activity today, here's what my plan is. Shower and then work on this:

This is a swap I am doing with a friend from high school. We each picked one item off the other's list. She's finished mine. Obviously, I haven't returned the favor, although I am working on it every spare minute. Never again, 18 count aida fabric. Never again. You and I just do not get along. And I won't tell you what it is because she wants to be surprised, although I think I'm only about one picture from giving it away at this point.

I plan on doing nothing but stitching and laundry today, with a little crock pot dinner thrown in for good measure. If I can stay off of Twitter...oh look. 25 new tweets...maybe I can skip the shower. And the family doesn't really need clean clothes or to eat tonight, right?

Monday, February 27, 2012

Sunday Night Chit Chat on Monday Afternoon

Okay, I'm a little late. But better late than never. Plus, I'm not always sure that anyone is really gonna be interested in the little crap that I am doing at the moment. It's kind of like that guy tweeting that he's on his deck. Does anyone really care?

(For the record, I think my next tweet will be my search for a psychic. It's on my bucket list and the one we found in Savannah was out to lunch when we arrived. Maybe that's a sign?)

So, here's what's going on with me right this minute:

What am I Reading? The Minimalist Woman's Guide to Having it All by Meg Wolfe. Justin laughed at the fact that I was reading a book on minimalism. Find the irony in that statement - 300 pages about becoming a minimalist. But I downloaded it for free, so ha.

What am I Watching? Jumping back and forth between my twitter feed (because it's new, so it's addictive) and my facebook feed and thinking I should really get some lunch and switch the towels over. Nobody can ever say my life has no meaning. (Catch that irony right there?)

What am I Listening to? Birds outside, the humidifier humming, and the sound of my typing. Time to turn something on because this is a little dull.

What am I Cooking/Baking? I don't have anything planned for this week, but I managed to save half of two crock pot dishes last week, so we are having one of them tonight. Maybe I'll make the kids some cookies from the roll of dough that's "almost like baking." According to Marie on Everybody Loves Raymond.

What am I Happy I accomplished this week? I finished my very first Christmas ornament. I cooked two crock pot meals. I finally got to the mall and got Joey some jeans that actually fit him. (How fast can one teenager grow? It's like if a tree falls in the forest, does it make a sound?) I can actually hear him growing right now, all the way from the middle school. I also balanced the checkbook, paid the bills, got the kids' bathroom fixed by our handyman (and painted!). I just paid off two of our credit cards, making that three paid off in February. Awesome. I can see my iPhone in the distance!

What am I Looking forward to next (this?) week? Hopefully seeing my dear friend, attending my first meeting of the local embroidery guild that just started up, seeing my therapist on Friday, not having to go anywhere today or tomorrow.

What am I Thankful for today? I am thankful that Justin has a job that is allowing us to continue to have a roof over our heads and food in our stomachs. (His hours, not so much, but the overtime is awesome.) I'm thankful that winter seems like it's not ever going to arrive and spring will be early this year (making that one wrong groundhog). I'm thankful that I woke up this morning. I'm thankful for the ability to spend time on my favorite activity - making beautiful things. And I'm thankful that Faye over at The Carolina Stitcher will be mailing out my lovely butterfly pouches that I asked her to make for me to hold my sewing and what not.

Have I bored you with enough trivia about me yet today? Two posts in one day. I think I need to back away from the computer.

I Need a Twitter Tutorial

I am guessing that somewhere, there is a tutorial on how to do twitter? I guess I just assumed that you jump on there, set up an account, and suddenly you will be tweeting back and forth with celebrities like The Bloggess and Wil Wheaton. So far, I have one follower.

So, obviously I don't know what the hell I'm doing. I wasn't even going to ever do Twitter at all, because I already have so many time wasters in my life that I'm not exactly hanging out in real life anymore. And it's kind of a bad idea to tell your husband to stop talking to you because you have get out this Facebook update, right? Especially when he's a man of few words.

For those of you who are interested in finding me on Twitter, please follow me at "ChelleNewton" - I would LOVE for you to follow me. Whoever was the anonymous poster in the last response section who said she signed up just to follow Jenny Lawson and thought that was an awesome reason to get sucked in, that's where you can find me. Or you can email me at the address on the right hand side of this page and give me your "twitter handle" and I will follow you and send you a tweet.

Right now, I'd give anything to get a tweet. How sad is that? But I am following Penn Jillette (of Penn and Teller) because he randomly sent The Bloggess a picture of himself holding twine. Totally unsolicited. I don't know why Nathan Fillion won't respond to her request for a picture of himself holding twine, but she says she has closure because the universe sent her Penn Jillette. Anyone who is famous and would do that just because somebody probably tweeted to him that Jenny really wanted a picture of a famous person holding twine is made of all kinds of awesome. (And I'm really starting to talk way too much like a teenager here. Obviously.)

I tried to find Ryan Gosling, but do you know how hard it is to know which Ryan Gosling is the real Ryan Gosling? So I guess I'm not going to be stalking him on Twitter. I'm hopeful of locating Taylor Swift (probably also hard to find) and some other celebrities though. If you know of any, please leave their handles in my comments so I can stalk them too.

And obviously Twitter has taken up way too much of the past two days and now I'm writing about it. But when I got offline yesterday to work on my sewing project (a swap with a friend), I discovered that one whole section was off by one stitch and spent two hours ripping that section out and praying I have enough thread left over from that section to redo it. So you tell me which is more productive: Twitter or "unsewing" for two hours?

Oh and if you're bored and feel like giving me a proper lesson in how to use the damned thing, please contact me. I've got leftover soup thawing in the sink and it's not laundry day. If I don't spend my time learning another useless social media tool, I'm just going to be productively making something pretty for a friend, so... you know...

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Bloggess Got Me!

I have been fighting the urge to sign up for Twitter ever since it came out and those stupid commercials showing the dad tweeting that he was on the deck started playing because I thought, "Really, who wants to know that I'm sitting on my fat ass watching cable movies?"

And then, The Bloggess got me. I accidentally clicked on a link to her twitter and it opened up the sign up page and there you go. I am now officially on Twitter at @ChelleNewton. I have no idea how this thing works, but I started following a few people it says I know and hopefully I will figure out today how to "tweet" something stupid that I am doing. Like sitting on my fat ass watching cable movies.

So, if you're on twitter, let's talk about sitting on our fat asses together!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

How Do You Do Those First Anniversaries After...?

The warmth and happiness roses.

I was going to write something upbeat and positive today, but I don't know that I'm going to achieve that.

Tomorrow, Justin's mom and dad would have been married 49 years. I know my mother-in-law has been dreading this first anniversary without Justin's dad and Justin is pretty emotional about her having to go through it. These are the times that I wished we lived closer.

While I was eating my lunch (cheesecake - don't judge me, life sucks sometimes and cheesecake makes it better), Justin came to me and asked if I thought we should send his mom flowers tomorrow, even though it's quite expensive to do it. He also asked me what we should put on the card.

You see, every year, his dad would get his mom a dozen yellow roses. Yellow roses are the friendship rose, and that is so very appropriate, since they were always the best of friends. In fact, I'm sure she'd love it if he was around so she could yell at him for no longer being around. But yellow also stands for warmth and happiness and I know that he would really want her to be warm and happy.

So we picked out an FTD arrangement and I made the purchase, even though it wasn't in the budget. There are some things more important than money and this is one of them. A great big one of them.

He wasn't sure whether it would upset her or not to get the roses tomorrow, but I think if it was me, I would be very comforted that my children remembered this tradition. I am also hoping that she is more touched than upset. It's so hard to navigate all those first anniversaries after such a huge loss.

I think that yellow roses are the best gift we could give her on this first anniversary without her husband. I know how much his loss is hurting her. I can't imagine losing Justin and we've been married for almost 24 years. Losing a spouse after almost 49 years of marriage...well, I just can't imagine what that must be like.

She left the shoes he took off the day of his heart attack last year - they haven't been moved since.

I took this after the funeral in July and put it into her shadow box.

They're still waiting there for him.

Losing someone so important to you is an indescribable loss. There has been so much tragedy in the past year of our lives. I keep thinking it has to get better and it seems like it's just getting worse. How do we face such huge losses or potential losses without losing our minds?

Nothing too inspiring here today. I'm just very sad about everything.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Making of a Christmas Ornament

Well, here is something that is just way cool. I have become a "user" on youtube and I now have my own video channel. (No thanks to Blogger, who won't let me upload my slideshow!)

You can go to the link above and watch my very own youtube video. Not bad for a totally non-technical person!

Not sure if I'm going to do this again, but it was sure fun figuring out how to do it!

Happy viewing!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Blog Hop from Off The Deep End

Today over at they are having a pinterest blog hop. If you'd like to link up to your pinterest account, please feel free to grab the coding from the linky thing you see.  As for me, I expended all of my energy power for today by power cleaning the boys' toilet and bathroom floor and replacing the disgusting toilet seat with a brand new, shiny white one, so I am off to sew and hopefully finish my first Christmas decoration. Assuming I don't end up taking a nap.

I am so excited about this new Christmas ornament project (we haven't had new ornaments in years!) and learning how to do more on my Mac Book Air than just hop onto firefox and see what's going on over at Facebook. Apparently, this thing will do everything but cook for you. I'm a little worried that blogger won't let me upload the slideshow when it's finished because I was having trouble with it yesterday when I tried to upload the first part of it. If not, I can hopefully upload it at some other site and put up a link for you. And I will also post a picture of the finished piece. In the meantime, here is a picture of the framed cross stitch piece that is third prize in Malea's raffle. It turned out so well that I would love to keep it or give it to her for her birthday next month, but I already committed it to the raffle, so in it goes. There are still lots of tickets left, by the way! You can email me if you'd like to get a chance at the awesome prizes.

I am hoping to get a post together on chronic fatigue syndrome and post-exertional malaise and just what that means, but right now I have it, so time to go sew and rest! Hope your day is going great. And if you follow me on Pinterest, I promise to get back over there and pinning again soon. Life's been a little bit crazy and Pinterest has not been at the top of my list. This in no way means I'm not addicted to it though. Let's see your links if you use pinterest!

Sunday Night Chit Chat on Monday

I needed a writing prompt and found this lovely one from Carla over at My 1/2 Dozen Daily. Since I have loads of things I could write about, but I would really rather work on getting my first Christmas ornament finished and the slideshow put together and somehow posted on this blog, I'm going to go with her Sunday night questions and hopefully have something a little more substantial for tomorrow!

Little House in Old Historic Savannah, GA
(Apparently, I missed the prompt to add a favorite picture, so I'm adding it now!)

What I am Currently Reading? I think I'm reading The Hostile Witness by Rebecca Forster. It's really a good book, but I keep getting distracted by my Words with Friends games on my Kindle Fire and by the time I catch those up, it's generally time to become unconscious. I don't read a lot during the day - maybe a little at lunchtime, but again I am getting distracted so much with WWF that my reading is suffering. I'm sure I'll get back to it.

I also bought Nicholas Sparks' Last Song at the airport when I was coming home from my parents' house and have read about half of it. I'm not really sure if I'll finish that one. It's a little more aimed at the teenage set (the movie starred Mylie Cyrus, for God's sake), so we'll see if that sits or gets finished.

What I am currently watching? Right this minute, nothing. But Justin and I have been planning on getting The Hangover, Part 2 on demand for several days, so maybe that movie tonight. Except that he's been up since he got called for work at 4:15 this morning, so I think I will probably watch House tonight. I try to keep the television off as much as possible during the day, but I do end up on the stupid sitcoms around 3:00 usually.

What Am I listening to? My personal Pandora station. It's a mixture of pop, country, and 80's rock. Right now, there's Katherine McPhee's Over It playing. I've never heard her music after American Idol. I stopped listening to the radio for a long time because it reminded me too much of the job I lost in 2010. The station was set to the local pop drivel all day long and no one was allowed to touch the dial. It was kind of traumatizing to be forced to listen to Beyonce and Lady Gaga over and over. Sometimes silence really is golden.

What Am I cooking/baking? Nothing today, I don't think. I am pretty sure we will be having something like hamburgers on the grill tonight or maybe making breakfast for dinner. I did a couple of crock pot meals last week and we have half of each saved in the freezer. Justin is going to be too tired for anything fancy tonight, so I figure it's going to be something simple.

What are you happy you accomplished this week?
The two crock pot meals. I'm thrilled that I am able to actually put together a meal now and I owe it to the Slow Cooker Revolution cookbook. I'm still pretty lame in the actual cooking department. I'm also happy that I got my trip to the primary care doctor out of the way, since it involves an hour+ trip one way. He's pleased that I am fairly stable with my fibro/CFS and we have a (mostly) good handle on the pain. I am also pleased that he was happy to sign for my handicap placard with no questions asked. When your doctor is validating your handicap, it's really quite a relief when you have an invisible illness.

I'm also grateful to my facebook friend, Sunshine, for walking me through creating a slideshow. I am putting together slides of my progress on my first Christmas ornament, which I hope to finish sewing today. The slideshow is coming along and I am hoping to either post it on the blog in the next couple of days or upload it to youtube and give you a link.

What am I looking forward to next this week? I got a call from Hobby Lobby saying that the cross stitch piece has been framed and is ready for pick up. I can't wait to see what it looks like and I promise to post up a picture as soon as I have it. I'm also looking forward to getting the new shower door installed in the boys' bathroom and putting in a new toilet seat. Justin yanked the molding out over the weekend, but it still stinks in there, so hopefully replacing the toilet seat, cleaning the ceramic tile, and replacing the shower curtain with a door will take care of it. I am also looking forward to "finishing" my Christmas ornament and receiving my Cafe Press order with Malea's ribbon and carnation on my hat and keyring. Lots of sewing this week, hopefully.

What am I thankful for today? That the snowstorm went south and we got nothing. I like a good snowstorm, but I am very ready for spring and don't mind that it seems to be coming early. I'm also thankful for my internet friend who skyped with me to help me with my slideshow so that Justin didn't have to try to help me figure it out. And I am, as always, grateful to have food in my pantry, a roof over my head, and clothes for my kids. Granted, Joey really needs some longer jeans, but overall, we seem to be fitting in with the rest of the world and not going around naked, which is a good thing. And I am thankful for my furry pets, who make my world a brighter and happier place.

Now, I am off to Hobby Lobby and Lowe's (to pick up an elongated toilet seat because Justin really thought the toilet was round. I made that same mistake, but forgot to tell him when he went out yesterday.

Hope you have a wonderful week!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

It's ConFESSION time!

Oh I have such guilt! I think Justin should just take my credit cards away and take all of the numbers out of my computer.

I've really been good. I have. But I have used the credit card four times in the last week for things that were not essential and I'm going to hold myself accountable right here on my blog. Maybe you can tell me if I was being unreasonable in saying, "I'm not ever going to use my credit cards again for anything except gas, groceries, and prescriptions." Because really, even though it was a daily challenge to myself, it was more about stopping the unbelievably excessive usage.

So, here are the charges (and I don't have exact amounts, so keep in mind these are estimates):

$31 to order Jamie a laser that is supposed to make his playstation work again. He gave me cash and I ordered it for him. I do still have the cash and haven't spent it on crafting supplies yet, so I'm not too upset about this one.

$4 for two books from One was entitled "How to Grow Your Blog" and I though it was worth the $1.99 to get some ideas on how to gain more readers. It was a total rip off. I already do everything that he suggested except twitter (which I will be dragged onto kicking and screaming - I waste enough time on Facebook and Words With Friends already). The second book was from the Jack Reacher series that my mom loves and it actually looked really good and was on sale for $1.99. I really have to have some leeway in book buying every month and I think $4 for the entire month of February (up to today) is below budget.

$40 at my own Cafe Press Store. I bought a birthday present for my best friend and a hat and a keychain for myself. These were all planned purchases, but I still feel guilty for whipping out the credit card and using it for this. But how else was I going to buy my own online stuff?

So, there you have it. This is what I spent money on this week that I did not use cash for. For me, it's really low, but it's still using those damned cards. What do you do when the internet is always in your face asking for your money? How do you resist the urge to just type in your credit card number? If there is anyone out there reading this who does not order things off the internet, I would love to hear from you because I'd like to know how you do it.

Every single one of these charges will be paid immediately upon arrival of the bill. It's not that I didn't have the cash for them. I did. But my computer won't let me put cash into it to pay for stuff, so I'm kind of stuck. And wow, hasn't Amazon really taken over the internet market? 3 of the 4 charges were through Amazon. It's amazing, their marketing ability and how, with the kindle, they now have one big "BUY THROUGH US" tool, isn't it?

Today is a "no spend" day, unless I go to the grocery store for Justin because he got called for work. Again. Whoever keeps breaking shit for this client of his is on my list right now, because I hate it when he is called on what is supposed to be his day off. The problem with working from home is that you are always working from home. The boundaries are gone, people. I don't recommend it except for the lack of commute and being able to work in your pajamas. If you want to have any separation of work and home, you simply cannot work there.

So, did I epic fail with my spending challenge this week?

Saturday, February 18, 2012

This Moment

One special moment in my day. As inspired by Tasmanian Minimalist. Catch one special moment in your day and post up a picture and then link up to it in the comments.

Obviously, it was going to be the animals, right?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Budgeting With Kids

Most of you probably are aware that I have recently put myself on a spending challenge. I have decided that I will not add to our credit card debt except for things like groceries and gas, which will be paid for at the end of the month.

This was the result of a non-stop spending spree that happened after Christmas. Because I have trouble with impulse control, I got started shopping and then, because I was just using credit cards and the internet, I didn't exercise any restraint and kept spending.

I started posting my challenge days on Facebook, saying that I was trying to see how many days I could go without adding to our debt. Last check was I think day 31, but I got my credit card statement (one of them) yesterday and saw that the last charge before the spending challenge started was on January 19th, so apparently, I was counting wrong. Big surprise there with my math skills (or lack thereof).

Anyway, I've been doing really well ever since I decided to challenge myself every single day when I got up in the morning that for just that day I would not charge anything on the credit card except for prescriptions, groceries, and gas. (If you're wondering why I'm not using a debit card so that it comes right out of the checking account, it's because our bank now wants to charge us a fee for use of the debit card and I'm not willing to pay it. Plus, it makes it easier to balance the checkbook when all of the items we've bought are on one bill every month.)

I held myself accountable when I had to buy needed chose to buy cookies and bottled water at the airport in Charlotte when my plane got delayed due to mechanical difficulties. I think a person with severe anxiety and a fear of flying is entitled to cookies when they realize the plane they were supposed to fly on maybe had a fuel leak (although it turned out that they probably just spilled some fuel on the runway, but still). I had texted Justin that I really wanted cookies and was having a panic attack and he texted back and said charge the cookies, for God's sake!

So here it February 16th and I have been really, really good. I think any statement that comes in the mail will not have anymore charges from me from the last month.

Except for a couple of things that really were out of my control. Because they involved my kids. My middle kid, specifically.

What do you do when the thing that your kid wants to buy is only available through an online store and they have the money to buy it but you don't want to put it on your credit card? You take their cash and charge it. And then the cash gets spent and you have a charge on your credit card. Which is exactly what happened to me yesterday when Jamie wanted to buy some kind of laser to fix his Playstation because it's not playing games correctly.

I've learned to dread the question, "Can I check something on Amazon?" because it always means I will be clicking on the "one-click" buying option to get him something he's saved his money for. I love having his cash, but I have to get a system in place to pay the credit card charge before I spend the cash. The bank is out of the way and we don't get there that often, so having a little extra cash comes in handy.

Plus, I'm going to admit that I put the cash he gave me into my little stash. There, I said it. I should have taken it downstairs to the family cash drawer but I didn't. (Sorry, Justin. I promise I'm going to pay that charge!) I've been holding myself to spending cash only when I go out and my little nest egg had gotten somewhat smaller with my trips to Hobby Lobby. (Hobby Lobby is my new crack. I want a $200 Ott light with magnifier for my sewing and a $200 wooden chest to store my sewing materials, but so far, I've been able to restrain myself.)

The Ott light is looking really good because we lost one of the floor lamps to old age in our family room and my eyes, being almost 48 years old, have a little bit of trouble getting the stitches into the right holes on the little tiny holed fabric I am using for these Christmas ornaments I'm making. I'm doing a lot of unsewing and am frustrated because I know that if I just had proper lighting, I would spend more time putting stitches in than taking them out.

But I digress.

Here's my question. If you've made a pact with yourself to not use your credit cards and then the kid brings you cash and asks you to order something for him, what do you do? Maybe I should look into one of those prepaid Visa cards for him. He could give me cash and I could load it up and he could do his own ordering. Come to think of it, that isn't a very bad idea. I got one in the mail the other day and held onto it just to see how it works. It's not a credit card and I don't think there are any debit fees attached to it. It might be a good thing for when Ben goes off to school too, because we can just transfer money onto it for him when he's running low and needs Ramen noodles.

Anyway, I have no idea what day I am on, but today is a no spending day for me. (I suspect Justin is going to offer to run over and pick up my prescriptions for me, so that doesn't count as me spending, even though all of the drugs are for me.) It's rainy and I'm going to spend the time working on a new section of information about Malea's treatment and making up a couple (hopefully) ornaments, because I just got an email saying my finishing forms are on their way. I think I know what I did wrong on the first prototype and am anxious to try again. I am hoping not to ruin anything else that I've put hours into sewing.

Just an FYI - raffle tickets are still for sale for $10 for Save Malea. If you are interested in winning one of the prizes, please contact me at the email listed on the left side of this page.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Today I'm Over Here:

Today, you can find me writing about teasing and bullying over at Off The Deep End.

I had a doctor's appointment yesterday, so I haven't been on to write much the last couple of days. I'm trying to get my sewing stuff organized without the appropriate equipment, so it's been a struggle. And there's the ever present oh my God, why do I try to do so much??? question.

Check out my post over at the other site and some of the other ones while you're there, if you have time!

Holy Crap - I Won An Award!

Many, many thanks to Sammyleia for my very first award! Wheee!!!!!

I'm so touched. I've never won anything in my life! Sammyleia is one of my all time new favorite blogs about trying to pay off debt, save money, and how difficult it can be when you have all those fabulous places to go with your credit cards. She's also into decluttering and I love how she holds herself accountable for every single penny. There's nothing like having to fess up on the internet about how much you've just spent on that pair of pants that was on sale when you weren't supposed to be spending money that makes you cringe at yourself. (I speak from total experience.)

Okay, so the rules are that you have to nominate five other bloggers with less than 200 followers (which means I can't nominate The Bloggess, but I think she's got more than enough followers and should send some my way anyway) and then shoot a comment their way to let them know they've won the award. It's a great way to promote what you're all about and make someone feel good at the same time.

So, in no particular order:

1. Jen Daisybee at Suicidal No More: Choosing to Live With Schizoaffective Disorder. Jen is an amazing woman who is working and going to college and just trying to find the right medication combination to allow her to keep doing it. She's amazing and also a fantastic writer. Her blog is awesome and you should check it out if you have any interest in mental health issues.

2. Roo at Nice Girl Notes. Roo is just tons of fun. She draws fantastic stick people and speaks really good gangsta and is the chick I would want to hang out with if Jenny Lawson wasn't available. I suspect she's way too cool for me, but I love her anyway. And if she has more than 200 followers, I wouldn't be the least surprised, but since it doesn't say on her sidebar, I'm putting her on here and letting her know.

(Wow, this is harder than I thought! I read a lot of blogs that everyone else likes. I can't nominate The Carolina Stitcher or The Twisted Stitcher, two of my favorite sewing blogs.)

3. I need to give a shout out to my other website and I'm pretty sure we don't have over 200 followers yet. If you haven't been to Off The Deep End to check out all of the cool writers over there, please do. We are a bunch of mommy bloggers who like to talk about things like which prescription meds give us the best "I don't give a crap" attitude and why the neighbors are annoying the shit out of us. There are some pretty cool writers over there (in addition to me) who deserve a look. Those girls keep it together and up and running in an amazing way.

4. Greg over at Telling Dad. I am almost positive he has way more than 200 followers, but again, it's not on his sidebar. I love reading a blog from a dad's point of view and his commitment to his wife, family, and firetruck are simply amazing. He's funny and f-bomb free. And his wife calls him a dork all the time. The fact that he will talk about that is something I just love. Oh, and his little girl is to die for cute.

5. Teri over at Diary of a Mad Hatter. Teri is one of my fellow writers (and a founding person) over at Off the Deep End and she is amazingly smart, funny, and interesting. And she's pregnant, so I am going to have great fun following her through all of those symptoms I did three times and don't miss in the slightest.

So wow. What a great way to start off my day! (And here I thought going shopping for fabric and doing the laundry were going to be the highlights.) Again, thank you so much, Sammyleia. I think I have a girl crush on you. I am seriously contemplating moving to Australia just because shopping with you looks like so much fun.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

You Can Win Something!!!

Good morning my friends!

I don't know if you've paid much attention to the left hand side of this blog, but if you'll take a quick peek, you'll see a link to my best friend's website and information for a raffle we are holding for her.

You can read more about Malea if you click on the link at the top of the page, but the short story is this: Malea is suffering from stage 4 metastatic breast cancer. Her doctor with her HMO has told her there is nothing more that she can do and that she would be welcome to find another provider, so she did. The catch is that because she's going outside of her insurance company for treatment, they won't pay.

And cancer treatment is freaking expensive.

Here's where I'm hoping you'll help me out. And the neat thing about it is that you can win prizes!!!!!

I put together a little raffle (date to be decided shortly) and I have three things that you can get a chance to win for just $10. $10 isn't a lot, right? And you can buy as many chances to win as you want. Here's what is up for grabs:

First Prize:

An autographed copy of Stephen King's 11/23/63:

See? He really signed it!
This is a first edition brand new never been touched by anyone except the purchaser, the author (wow!), and myself. And that's really his signature. If you are a Stephen King fan, you really should buy a chance to win this book. Because, in a few years, it's going to be worth a lot of money. So you could either keep it because it would be so cool to have it or you could eventually sell it and pay off your mortgage. (Well, probably not pay off your mortgage, but autographed King books are going for something like thousands of dollars. Go over to eBay and look for one of his first books and check out the bidding prices.)

Second Prize: Handsewn "Love Quilt:"

This beautiful quilt is queen sized (I draped it over my king sized bed so you could get an idea of the size of it.) It speaks for itself, but I have to say that I absolutely love this quilt.

Third Prize: Handsewn (by me!) Breast Cancer Cross Stitch:

This is currently at the hobby store being framed. It is approximately 7" X 7" square and will have a white wooden frame. And it states: "Where there is life, there is always hope." That sums it up folks!

If you would like a $10 chance to win one of these fabulous prizes (where's Vanna White when I need her?) please contact me at and I will give you information on how to get tickets. You don't have to be present to win.

That's all for today, since it's Valentine's Day and I would like to spend some time with my sweetie, who took today off because his job is trying to kill him. I also have to drive to Maryland to see my primary care doctor about a horse some new symptoms that have been bothering me and that's a pretty big trip, since he's an hour away.

So, contact me! Please! You'll help my friend keep on getting her chemotherapy and you might win something nice in the process.

(Sorry, I can't use the paypal button for this, because they hate helping people it violates some strange terms of use policy.)

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Christmas Ornaments - Already?

I am clawing my way through making prototypes (for lack of a better word - samples?) of the Christmas ornaments that I will begin taking orders on to help benefit the Save Malea organization and I have finished two designs. Here they are:

I thought I would whip through the second one, since it doesn't look that hard, but see where it says "blessing" and "20" and "12?" Those are stitched over one thread on a 32 count piece of linen. For those of you who don't know what that means, let's just say I need bifocals on my bifocals to see that. It took me pretty much an entire day to stitch the second one.

The first one is done in breast and ovarian cancer colors, which is why I picked it, since all proceeds from ornament sales will go to help Malea pay for her cancer treatments. It ended up being a little larger than it was supposed to be because I didn't have any 32 count fabric at the time and the larger the count, the smaller the end product. So this one will go into a frame either for me to keep or for us to use as a door prize or something at one of the events.

You'd never guess, but I got the colors backwards on the second ornament - the "JOY" was supposed to be red and the border was supposed to be green. That's the "joy" of Christmas colors - as long as you're using red and green, it really doesn't matter where you put them, right?

I discovered after my disaster with trying to finish the first ornament that I did several things wrong. My mat board was way too thick for an ornament (that's $7.99 down the drain to learn a lesson - ouch!) and that what I really need is some metal finishing forms made especially for ornaments. Those have been ordered and are on their way.

I also discovered that apparently gluing was not my strong suit in kindergarten, because I had it all over me, the ornament, and the dining room table (which is luckily covered in glass to protect it from, well, me). I went back and begged Vonna at The Twisted Stitcher for some help and in response, she reposted a ton of tutorials on finishing ornaments. (She's really awesome. If you like needlework, I highly recommend her blog.) I think I see now why I was having so much trouble and what it is that I need to do to get them finished properly.

Right now, I am concentrating on getting one example of each design finished while waiting for the finishing forms to arrive. I think there will be four Christmasy ones, the small breast cancer design that came from this:

(design by Kristin Herber of Dragonfly Stitches; now at Hobby Lobby to be framed), and another ribbon ornament which I will offer in any color you like that will correspond with the cause of your choice. I found a great free design online called "Kylie's Heart" that is a heart with a ribbon in the center and was designed to remember a woman who was lost to domestic violence. So sad. Apparently, she was an avid cross stitcher and so they designed this little logo for stitchers everywhere to use for any cause they were passionate about. That one will be available in any color, as will the smaller one from the above picture, although I suspect I will mainly be doing pink for breast cancer and purple for fibromyalgia, as well as all kinds of cancer. But, the point is, you can request colors!

Today, I will be making a sample "Merry Christmas" heart which involves some metallic thread, so I suspect there will be a lot of cursing again. This hobby is supposed to be relaxing, but when I can't get it right or am having trouble with the materials, I find that I do a lot of sighing and swearing. Once I get the design done, I will post it up for you.

I plan to have a page where you can go directly and order your ornaments. But that's assuming I can figure out how to actually put an order form online that comes back to me directly. For this one, I will be able to use the Paypal button, since I will be selling a product. Joy!

Although this is a work in progress and taking a little longer to get going than I had hoped, I am plugging along with it. I know once I start making them and get a little practiced at the designs and figure out all this finishing nonsense, it will start to go very quickly. And just think - you could actually order some handmade Christmas presents months ahead of the holidays, maybe even before you've paid for last Christmas! (Oops, shouldn't have mentioned that debt, right?)

On March 1, 2012, I will be attending the first Embroidery Guild of America meeting of the new Winchester chapter and I am hoping that some of the women there will have done Christmas ornaments before. I plan on taking all of my finishing supplies and throwing myself on their mercy. Hopefully I will have a bunch of ornaments stitched up by then and can beg some charity finishing. And I am extremely excited to have finally found a group of needleworkers in my area. The only thing about my hobby that I haven't ever liked is that it's kind of a solitary one. But no more!

Okay, sauntering over to my supplies to "kit up" the next one. Hopefully, I will have a picture to post later today. (Ever the optimist!)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

When Did You Breakaway?

I'll spread my wings and I'll learn how to fly
I'll do what it takes til' I touch the sky
And I'll make a wish
Take a chance
Make a change
And breakaway
Out of the darkness and into the sun
But I won't forget all the ones that I love
I'll take a risk
Take a chance
Make a change
And breakaway

Wanna feel the warm breeze

Sleep under a palm tree
Feel the rush of the ocean
Get onboard a fast train
Travel on a jet plane, far away (I will)
And breakaway

(Lyrics courtesy Kelly Clarkson)

How old were you when you became an "adult" in your own mind?

Forget about what it means to turn 18 or 21 in a legal sense. When did you, deep down, feel that you were really on your own? That you needed to depend on yourself or your spouse? Or adjust your thinking so that you weren't still thinking of your parents as your primary family after you got married and had kids?

For me, I was 47. Yep. It took me 47 years to realize I wasn't a kid anymore.

Justin recently told me that it seemed like I got stuck emotionally somewhere in my teenage years and I would be the first person to agree with him. Things happen that can cause you to stop developing and maturing and yes, definitely, I would say that up until last week, I was still stuck somewhere in the high school years. (Just as an aside, I think Justin was born an "adult.")

I've always been extremely close to my parents, especially my mother. But there was one thing that I could never quite understand. For some reason, when I got married and had children, my parents expected me to grow up and become independent. I didn't really know how to do that and so I fought it with everything I had.

All my adult life, my parents have lived within an hour's drive of where ever I was living. In some cases, we lived much closer to them than that. In fact, when Ben was born, we were actually living with my parents while we tried to claw our way to home ownership. (I really do feel bad about that. That could not possibly have fit into their plans.) My parents were always there for me to depend on and I always felt that they would "rescue" me. They were always my safety net. And every time they would talk about moving, I would panic a little inside (okay, a lot) because I still needed them.

As they got older, they started talking about how much they hated the winters in Virginia and West Virginia. We're technically in the south, but we still get a lot of really cold weather and a good amount of snow. And they don't like it. But I think they really hesitated to move further south because of me, Justin, and their grandkids living here. 

About two years ago, they began to seriously talk about moving to South Carolina. I suspect a lot of research and travel and house hunting took place that I was unaware of, simply because they knew I would blow a gasket if they talked about moving somewhere so far away, I would need to get my achy butt onto a plane and fly to see them. Or drive an unrelenting, pounding two day car ride. (Traveling is tough for those of us with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. Driving is one of the hardest things to do, because it's so hard to shift and stretch and ease our muscles.) Also, I wanted to know that if I wanted to go out of town for the weekend, the grandparents were going to be close enough to break up a party at my house if the neighbors called. Or come get a kid that had an accident with the stove. Or whatever nightmare scenario a mother can come up with regarding her kids during her absence.

And the plain truth is, I had never gotten to a point emotionally that I could let my parents go. No matter how much I knew that they would be happier somewhere warmer, I didn't want them to move. In fact, I was being selfish and immature. But in my mind, it didn't make sense and (in a true teenage way of thinking), they were trying to move just to get away from their clingy daughter. I couldn't see that what they were really doing was leaving to live somewhere that would make them happy.

Until they actually moved and I traveled to South Carolina (by plane) to visit them for five days.

I felt a physical "click" in my brain as I boarded the first plane to head to the Charlotte airport for my transfer to another flight. All of a sudden, I was this adult person, flying to Savannah to visit my parents. Their house is no longer my house. They have downsized and I no longer have a room at my parents' house. They have a guest room, but if the whole family comes, there will be air mattresses in offices and overcrowding.

I felt another "click" on the night that my mom got angry at me for something I had written for the Off the Deep End site. I understood her being upset and I felt really bad that she was upset. But I also realized that what I had shared was mine to share or not and that I am separate from my mother. I don't have to have her permission or approval to make decisions anymore. Believe me, that was huge. I've always been a mama's girl and I've always wanted to make my mom happy. And, more important, I've wanted my parents to be proud of me.

What I realized on this trip is that they probably are not proud of what I am doing online and they do not understand why I do it. It does hurt that my father doesn't read what I write on my own blog and it also hurts that what I do sometimes upsets them. I don't want that to happen and I think everyone wants their parents to be proud of them. 

After Justin's dad died, I think one of the things that helped him was his mother telling him that his dad used to brag about him to everyone who would listen. I think there was always a bit of doubt in his mind as to whether his dad approved of him and, unfortunately, I don't think his dad actually ever said the words, "I'm proud of you." But he knows now that his father was proud of him and that means a lot to him.

I may never know whether or not my parents are proud of me. They have picked me up when I have fallen down and they have lived through my battles with bipolar disorder when I did things that I am actively ashamed of still. I have done a lot of things I am not proud of, but this writing thing, this blogging...that I am proud of. And I write about my life, so yes, I share a lot. It really is a balancing act as to what to share online. It's a different world now than when my parents were growing up and they are very private people. The fact that I put myself out there in such an open and honest way I think not only upsets them, but it also scares them. I understand their concerns, but where the adult part comes in is that I know that I can make a choice. I can continue to write about my life in an open and honest way or I can shut it down and stop sharing.

I guess I would like to have it both ways. I would like for my parents to be proud of my writing and I wish my dad had the time and interest to read what I write. But what I have come to understand is that I don't really "need" their permission to do it. 

I spent a lot of time thinking during this trip and came to several "aha" moments. I realized that my primary loyalty now lies with my husband and children. My parents will always be top of the list in importance, but it's time to grow up and be a wife and mother. I have to take care of business at home and home is with my husband and kids.

I also realized that I can make my own choices and don't need my parents' permission. I still think about what I am writing and whether or not it would upset them if I put it out there. But I know now that it is my decision whether to do it or not. That was a huge "aha" moment for me. I could be understanding and sad that I upset my mother, but that didn't mean what I did was wrong. It just wasn't something she would do.

And I realized that it's okay that they now live 600 miles away. It's still kind of hard to realize they have moved - the other day I picked up the phone to call my mother and was half way through the number to the house in West Virginia when I realized no one was going to pick up the phone. And burst into tears. I knew they weren't there, but I needed a few minutes to catch my breath and remember that it's okay they aren't there anymore.

Just as my parents made the decision to go somewhere warm where my dad can grow his business and they can be warm year round, I can make the decisions in my own life. I can decide what I write, what I spend my time doing, what causes I support, have my own political opinions, and parent my children the way I want to parent them. I don't always need their approval. I love them more than life itself, but I suddenly understood (and this should have come a long time ago) that I am an adult and it's time to take charge of my life. And that's exactly what I am going to do.

My therapist thinks I made leap years of progress in the last two weeks. I think I did too. I'd still like it if my parents were proud of me, but there are lots of people who are in professions that their parents don't approve of and they live with that. That doesn't mean it doesn't bother me. It just means that I realize it's time to make my own choices as to what is best for me.

In other words, I grew up.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Christmas Ornaments and The Spending Challenge

Just a quick update on what's going on with a couple of things.

I am working on creating special Christmas ornaments (like you see above) to sell to help raise money for Save Malea. I will be sewing up a bunch of sample ornaments this afternoon and look forward to getting your feedback on them. They will be available in both the breast cancer theme, a fibromyalgia theme (purple ribbons), and Christmas themes.

Okay, also I wanted to update you on how my spending is going. I think I'm doing remarkably well!

I had to purchase supplies to make the ornaments, but I took that out of my little nest egg and paid cash and didn't charge it! Yay, no adding to the consumer debt! Well, I did have to purchase finishing forms online and that was a $30 charge to the credit card, but I am allowing for some costs in relation to the fundraising.

The only other thing I have charged this week is $300 for Ben's next crown. He has an enamel defect and the dentist is replacing all (yes, all) of his teeth with crowns. We had three done last year and will have another three done this year. Two are covered at 80% by insurance and we pay the amount of the final one, which is now up to over $1,100. Which is why we can only do three. This was a necessary charge, so it doesn't count as something I impulsively spent money on.

I am getting ready to put up a page with an "I want this" list. Things I don't really need, but would really like to have. Today, some lighting so that I can see my sewing tops the list. I would also love to have a wooden chest to hold my thread, as it is kind of getting out of control. And a little table beside my sewing chair would be awesome as well. If you'd like to see what I'm talking about, please go check out Vonna at The Twisted Sister and click on the "Our Home" tab at the top of her blog. There is another link there called "Our House" and you can see her little stitching area. It's awesome and I'm in lust for something like this.

I'm off to try to get some ornaments stitched up and ready for finishing. Hopefully, there will be a demand for these (people love handmade Christmas ornaments that aren't made by a five year old, right?) and I will be able to raise some money for Malea.

Oh and it's snowing. They just closed schools at noon today. Virginia is so weird when it comes to snow. If you have it, you are guaranteed school closings, so I am assuming no school tomorrow as well. Having lived in various states up north when I was growing up, we went to school no matter how much snow was on the ground because up there, they knew how to keep up with the roads and how to drive in it. Virginians seem to just panic. It's just snow, people!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

How Is My Spending Diet Going, Anyway?

Remember all those months ago when I said I was going to go on a spending diet and then started keeping track of my spending?

Yeah, well....that didn't work out so well.

I had the right idea, but I just didn't have the willpower to curb my spending or my credit card habits and once I got started at Christmas, I just couldn't stop the spending. When I realized that the packages were still arriving long after Christmas was over, something just kind of clicked. Finally. You'd think that all these years of credit card bills and interest and car payments and student loans and mortgages and figuring out how we were going to get from check to check, it would have clicked years ago. Spend less than you make. A simple concept. Very hard to do when you have credit.

But 22 days ago, something clicked (I actually felt a click in my brain) and I realized it has to stop. I need to be smarter about our money and I need to stop charging on the credit cards. Having credit is not a license to spend, spend, spend. And I think I finally get that. Pay off the debt. Pay off the debt!

I recently went to South Carolina to visit my parents in their new home. I wanted to take my spending challenge with me and see how I could do. I didn't take all of my credit cards, but I did take two. You know, just in case. But my goal was that I would only spend the $100 in cash that I took with me and, with any luck, I would actually bring cash back to add to my little savings that I started a month or two ago. (Some money from Christmas, a $20 here and there from spending money my husband took out of the bank - just to see if I could save up a little nest egg of cash. And I've only touched it once, when I was buying some clothes from a girl from Craigslist, which was a conscious choice, since it involved actual cash.)

I want to start holding myself accountable, which is why I have been posting every day on Facebook how long I have lasted on this particular attempt to curb my spending (day 23 today). It feels like a permanent change. I don't know why. How do you determine when you've really changed your feelings about how and when you spend your money and on what? How do you determine what you really need and what you just want to have but don't need?

So, here's how my $100 broke down in South Carolina. Sadly, I did not come back with any cash.

$10 at Subway for lunch at Dulles before my first plane left.

$3 at the Charlotte airport for bottled water. Really? $3 for water????

$3 on the second plane for a small tube of Pringles chips. (Captive audience, anyone?)

$12 at Walgreens when I got to South Carolina for products they wouldn't allow me to carry on the plane.

$36 at the Off Island Thrift Store (which is the most awesome thrift store I have ever been in if you are ever in Hilton Head, by the way). $31 of this was for a birthday gift for my dad. He found an ottoman for his office and I bought it for him for his birthday, which happened to be the day we were shopping. $5 was for a shirt I found that was perfect to go with a pair of purple sweatpants I have but didn't bring with me. I got home and discovered that the shirt is just a bit small. I wish I had tried it on at the store, but that's a $5 lesson for me. I was thrilled to be able to buy my dad a gift that will make him think of me every time he puts his feet on it.

$3 at KFC for a drink while we were waiting for my mom to finish at the doctor. I would have spent more, but their oven was not working properly for biscuits. That was a bummer and would have been worth the extra $1.

$36 at the Airport souvenir shop for a Savannah t-shirt, a Nicholas Sparks paperback to read on the plane, bottled water, crackers, and sun chips. A total rip off, but they've got you once you get through security and I hadn't been able to find the t-shirt anywhere we went while I was visiting.

$7 at Burger King at the Charlotte airport for lunch.

$1 for the lady in the restroom (my very last dollar) who apparently cleans each stall every time someone uses it. She sang a welcome song every time someone came into the bathroom and really made my wait so pleasant. I gave her my last dollar as a tip because she really deserved it. Anyone who can remain cheerful working in an airport bathroom deserves a tip.

I just added this up and it amounts to $111. I didn't have any money left in my wallet by the time I got back to Dulles, so I must have had a bit more than $100 in cash with me or I don't remember one or two of the charges correctly (I didn't save receipts).

I used my credit card three times while I was gone. The first purchase was a $5 kindle download, which I discovered wasn't something I wanted to read within three pages and returned. I am waiting for a credit on that. And yes, I hate to take money out of an author's pocket, but if a product is not to my satisfaction, I will be returning it. As a writer myself, I really hate to take back my money, but if the book is poorly written, I feel that the fault is the writer's. If I published something that bad, I would hope that people would tell me it was bad and then I would fix it.

I ran out of minutes on my phone and ended up charging $36 to reset my cell phone plan. I am waiting on an $11 credit for "topping up," which it turned out was not the way to pay for extra minutes. The $25 would have been charged on the 14th, so I just moved my billing date up by 14 days.

And I charged $6 at Mrs. Fields for cookies and water when my second plane was delayed. I was fighting a severe case of anxiety and claustrophobia as the delays continued and we were moved from gate to gate and I just needed cookies. I texted Justin, who texted back that I didn't need permission to use the credit card for cookies when my plane was delayed, but I was working so hard not to charge that I was waffling on the cookies.

In the end, the cookies won, I finally got onto a plane, and we took off an hour and a half after we were supposed to.

All in all, I feel that I did remarkably well with my spending on this trip. Normally, if I am on vacation, I would just pull out my credit cards for whatever I want. This time, I was able to not do that. In fact, I didn't even take all of my credit cards.

I feel that I have had a huge revelation and I'm not sure why. I just know that I don't want to spend money anymore. And if you've met me, you'll know this is very strange.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

I'd Rather Be In Hawaii Right Now

Oh, how this is where I would like to be right now! Anyone else tired of winter yet?

Justin and I watched Groundhog Day last night and the thought that was going through my mind was that if I got stuck on the same day over and over, I would not want it to be when it was cold and snowy outside. Bill Murray makes a statement in the movie about a day he had that he would have liked to live over:

I was in the Virgin Islands once. I met a girl. We ate lobster, drank piƱa coladas. At sunset, we made love like sea otters. *That* was a pretty good day. Why couldn't I get *that* day over, and over, and over...

After coming back from a place where it is always warm and where it was about 65 degrees the entire five days I was there, stepping out of the Dulles terminal into the Virginia winter was a bit of a shock. I never needed the jacket I took down in South Carolina, but I needed it the minute I stepped off the plane to get my bag and felt that cold air.

Granted, the winter here has not been bad. We even have buds on the trees. But I see that the forecast for is for rain after an inch of snow tonight, with a high of 39 degrees tomorrow. Right now, I'd much prefer the South Carolina weather. I just went to the weather check I have set to my parents' zip code and hit the button and it's currently 69 degrees down there.

I. Am. Cold.

Apparently, the groundhog saw his shadow last Thursday and we can expect six more weeks of winter. Does the groundhog ever not see his shadow on February 2nd? I can't remember that spring ever comes early. It's usually after a rainy April with chilly temperatures.

I like spring and fall in Virginia a lot. But I don't like winter and I don't like the summer heat. I would like to find a place to live either on a beach like the one above, or where the temperature stays at 70 degrees all year long.

Does that place exist? Probably not. Well, the beach does, but we're never going to be millionaires, so I can pretty much mark that off of the places we could consider buying a house.

I guess we should have one good snowstorm to say we've experienced winter. It just would have been nice if it had happened while I wasn't here.

And while we have that snow and rain tonight and tomorrow, I'm going to pretend we live on the island in the picture, because that looks so much better than where I am right now!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

How Would You Feel?

Today, I just have one question for you.

How would you feel if you were fighting stage 4 cancer and your insurance company refused to pay for your chemotherapy drugs?

I'll bet you'd be really angry and really upset, am I right?

Well, that's what happened to my friend, Malea, yesterday. Her first chemotherapy appointment to receive the drugs that her doctor has determined will be the best ones to put her into remission was yesterday. Because she has insurance through a very well known HMO, she was hoping they would agree to at least pick up the cost of the drugs.

Especially since (a) they have told her there is nothing further they can do for her and (b) her doctor told her that she was free to find another provider. Oh and I forgot the fact that her husband pays a shit ton of money for health insurance.

And yet, when they went to the pharmacy to pick up the drugs, she was told that coverage was denied. She had to pay over $1700 yesterday for her treatment. That's cash, people. She is supposed to go for more chemo on Thursday, another $1,700. And, as her treatment continues, that number is going to go up.

Malea's out of money. Her family is out of money. And I'm out of ideas. Well, not completely out of ideas, but her costs are so high that I don't know how to get the money rolling in.

That's where you come in. You have three choices to help.

1. Go to Save Malea and click on the donate button. This puts money directly into her chemo account.

2. Go to my Cafe Press store Chelle's Pet Project and buy anything. There is a "Save Malea" section and you are welcome to buy any of the products I have put in there with the pretty logo that Malea and I designed with wonderful artist Tierra Lalk of Tierra Designs. All the profit from any purchase in the Cafe Press store will go directly into Malea's bank account as soon as I receive it.

3. Contact me directly by email (CNewton724 at gmail dot com) and ask to purchase a lottery ticket. We haven't worked out all of the details yet, but first prize is a chance to win an autographed copy of Stephen King's 11/23/63 and the drawing will be on March 3rd. We're still working out the other prizes right now. Each ticket costs only $10, or you can buy more chances for $20, $30, $40, etc.

I know that most of you reading this don't know me. And I know most of you don't know Malea. But I am going to go out on a limb here and tell you that if I lose her because her insurance company refuses to pay for her treatment, you can bet I'm going to a little bit more than devastated.

Let's not let the insurance company decide her fate. Please go to one of the places I've suggested and help a girl out.

Thank you.