Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Call to Action! Fundraising for My Dog, Maxi's Surgery...

I put a widget on my blog and have set up a GoFundMe page for my 8 month old Great Pyrenees who was hit by a vehicle over Thanksgiving weekend and had a very expensive surgery a week ago. Any donations are greatly appreciated, even if you can't do much. Every drop helps fill the bucket! Even if you can't donate, please share the GoFundMe page with your own social media connections for me if you wouldn't mind. I really like GoFundMe and have donated to many causes, some complete strangers to me. So many great causes out there :) and my doggie is worthy - she is a sweetheart!

Help Maxi

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Driving and Crying - Guest post on RachelintheOC

One of my guest posts has just been published on bestselling Amazon author, Rachel Thompon's blog, RachelintheOC.com.

I'm giving you a warning that this post is not rainbows and unicorns and is sensitive material. I want to also further state that I have my mother's full blessing to share this. Her support was vitally important to me in the decision to talk about this publicly.

Your discretion and respect are requested in what I'm sharing. I've seen what can happen when people bare their soul on the Internet and sometimes it's not pretty. As a matter of fact, I have a post in mind to write about that very subject. Life isn't pretty all the time. On occasion, it's pretty crappy.

My post, Driving and Crying, is about one of those crappy days I've rarely talked about. If you're wanting to laugh today, this isn't the post for that. However, if you're interested in further learning about my life journey, please read my post and your comments are welcome.

As you know, Rachel wants my "deep, dark secret" kind of posts. Her most recent book, Broken Pieces, focuses on painful pieces of her life. She and I met and connected online long ago and found that we shared many broken pieces and that we were willing to talk about them in order to help others. I proudly share my thoughts on her blog because her focus is on healing through sharing.

I wouldn't share these things if I didn't believe good will come of them. If I can help even one person come out of the shell of shame, hatred, or blame, I've done my job.

Rachel, thank you for your support and the opportunity to spread awareness on your platform. It's an honor that you have chosen to once again promote me with my post, , Driving and Crying.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Caught on Video (in a good way)

As I said in my Miley Cyrus post, sometimes you hope to God you aren't "caught on video" at times in your life, but this time, I am totally okay with sharing my videotaped moments.

I joined Toastmasters this summer. I thought it was only for public speakers. I had no idea that it would expose me to things like video communication. Here are my very first taped interviews as both the host of the interview and as the subject of the interview. Big thanks to Todd Austin for coordinating these videos.

Note to those considering interviews: Don't sit in a chair that swivels. You'll want to swivel.

This is sort of representative of my voice and demeanor. I'm a lot more animated and I think I talk faster in "real life" actually, and with a bit more inflection, but in case you ever wondered what I sound like, this is me!

Here I am being interviewed for the first time ever:

And here I am as the host:

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Got Balls?

Sometimes, lovely things happen. This week has been quite lovely because I got to guest post for Sophie Lizard (don't you love people with cool names like that?) at Be A Freelance Blogger with my post:

Sophie is an awesome person and has a great website for freelance bloggers. I once did a 30 minute session with Sophie and I must say that she truly knows her stuff. I got a raise with a client because of the advice from that 30 minute session. Please check out both my post and her blog. You'll be glad you did.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

My Reason For Disliking Miley Cyrus' Behavior Might Surprise You

Everybody's talking about her. Who? The tongue-wagging, twerking, titillating (yeah, pun absolutely intended) Miley Cyrus. Everyone has an opinion an I am no exception. I just feel the need to explain mine so that you understand where it comes from. In this understanding, you will know me and be able to relate to me better as a person, like it or not.

I judged her harshly while others in social media defended her and lifted up praises to her holy name, screaming, "She is woman, let her roar!"

My reaction (screamed aloud at the television) was more along the lines of, "Holy... what the hell? Miley, you slut!"

We don't always watch the Video Music Awards at our house, but decided to catch it this year. When my twelve and fifteen year old girls told me excitedly, "Mom, Miley Cyrus is on," I was anxious to see her. I was anxious, that is, until the minute she stuck her tongue out, which I think was about two seconds into her arrival on stage.

We all know what happened after that. More tongue, more twerk, more Uhh - Mah - Gawd!
Yes, Miley, I see your tongue. Now, put it back where it belongs, young lady! I hate it when little kids try to lick me and now I'm terrified of ever meeting you in person. You say you stick your tongue out all the time because you don't like to smile? What are you, four years old?
Yes, Miley, I see you pointing at your va-jay-jay. I know you're a big girl and we don't have to spell the word s-e-x around you anymore. I get it. You're not a virgin and you want the world to rally around your public pubic point-a-thon.
Yes, Miley, I see you simulating a sexual position with that poor little Thicke boy. You have now somehow ruined the image I have of his father and the fond memories I have of watching him on TV when I was young. I'm not even sure how you did that to me, but you somehow put ick all over anything Thicke. Shudder!
Yes, Miley, I saw your new video for Wrecking Ball and no, it does not remind me in the least of the Sinead O'Connor Nothing Compares 2U video. As I recall, she didn't seductively lick a thing, much less a sledgehammer, in order to get me to like her. Phallic symbolism, anyone? Cough, cough. Ahem. Furthermore, Sinead did not get nekkid and straddle a giant metal ball (poor set cleaning lady, ewww) on a chain in order to show me her vulnerabilities.
Sinead's was art. Yours was tart.
Okay, so there was my opinion. Now the surprising part.
I really like Miley Cyrus and I still consider myself a fan of her work. I think she is extremely talented. I love her music and her acting ability. I love the ever-so-rebelliousness of her lyrics doing what they want to whomever they want, whenever they want. You're right, Miley. It's your mouth, your house, your life party and you CAN do what you want with it and it's okay.
So why am I coming off like a hater? Let's look at some options:
  1. I'm a religious nut, judging Miley unfairly. Nope!
  2. I'm afraid she'll influence my teen and tween age girls. Negative!
  3. I'm jealous because she's got better boobs than me. No way! I've got curves, girls...
  4. I'm a goody-two-shoes and have never seen such atrocities... my eyes, my eyes! Wrong again.
The truth is, I don't like Miley's behavior because she reminds me of... well... a younger version of me.
Miley is... my mini-me!
I should clarify that I don't behave that way anymore. But oh my sweet baby Jesus, she reminds me of exactly where I was so many years ago. I was no better. I acted sleazy, rebellious, filthy; and I was proud of myself.
I cursed like a sailor. I showed too many strangers my body parts. I tried to be seductive, thinking it would gain respect and make me feel... loved. I was pathetic, lost, broken.
And I had no idea.
Video footage of my ultimate immature period of life would put Miley's to shame. My hope is that all persons possessing such video footage have passed on or become morally accountable to a higher power and have burned the evidence. There were no teddy bears involved, but there were definitely beer bongs and fellow girls gone wild in attendance. And I... wanted to be their queen.
Now, so many years later and after tons of soul-crushing therapy, I know that deep hurts caused my behavior. These were painful events so deep that I couldn't even understand their depth or form them into intelligent thought patterns.
Don't worry. There will be a book someday.
The point is, I am now embarrassed about how I behaved and I feel that it's probable that Miley will someday regret her actions. And as I well know, you can't take them back.
Am I glad I went through all of the things I went through in my life to get where I am today? You bet! I know I wouldn't be who I am without going through rape, divorce, betrayal and all of the life tragedies I endured.
My loathsome past actions are part of my metamorphosis into who I have become today. I am still proud of myself no matter what I did.
I just don't want to have to see Miley go through what I went through. I worry about what happened to drive her to the same extreme outward manifestations of pain I displayed.
For me, it seemed fun at the time. In retrospect, it was just a sad representation of my lack of self worth and my need for attention and love, at whatever crazy and humiliating cost.
I'm angry with her. I'm disappointed. I'm afraid she might not go through this period, but get stuck in it instead. I'm afraid she's in with the wrong crowd and can't find an escape route because she isn't looking for one. She probably doesn't even know she needs it. It's hard to see through the clouds of misconception.
I know how it works. I loved it. The attention made me popular, but at what cost? In the end, the payoff was short-lived and I paid dearly with my pride.
I scream at her because she is a previous version of me. I wanted someone who genuinely cared for me to scream at me and tell me I was doing wrong. But I wouldn't have listened. I would have only labeled them a hater.
Me. A hater of my former self? Am I allowed to do that? Yes, in my own home. But face to face, I would give her advice if she asked for it. I'd give her counsel. I'd give her my love.
Have you ever yelled at your children for their childish choices and ways? Do you still love them?
Miley, I love you, but that doesn't mean I have to like you right now.
Peace, out.
Tongue, out.
Rant, out.
I hope you understand.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Grammar Schmammar. Is It Important? Yes, It Is!

I used Grammarly to grammar check this post because I have so many paid blog posts to write, I don't have time to look stupid.

Yes, folks, it's that time. There were some excellent connections made with many companies at BlogHer '13 in Chicago and I am currently in talks with several of them to review products, receive gift cards to blah-blah-blog about them, and rant and rave (which I already do quite well).

This puts me in a position to announce that I have reached an important benchmark in my writing career. You may do this all the time on your blog, but it is the first time I have received offers for actual monetary compensation or gift cards instead of just product.

More importantly, these companies contacted me. The ones I have contacted and really wanted to blog for (coming close to groveling or begging on hands and knees, saying, "Please, please, please let me represent you!") whom I met at BlogHer, haven't given me the bat of an eyelash, the time of day, or a snowball's chance in hell to prove myself a worthy product hawker.

Whatever! Phooey on them, right? Who needs chocolate and new cars? Don't answer that.

Fortunately, the companies contacting me are ones I am still quite interested in promoting. I won't be promoting or participating in random blog whoring, but taking honest looks at things I would have tried anyway.

The most exciting part is that Grammarly contacted me out of the blue. They weren't at BlogHer. I don't even know how they know I exist, but I knew they existed. I had been to their site before and wanted to use the paid program, but just didn't have the bank for it yet.

Lucky me, I was invited to participate in a free trial! It's perfectly timed because I have a lot to write and a short time to write it. I have many paid/unpaid guest posts and pieces backed up I need to write and Grammarly can save me time by helping me proof them.

I do not have time to look like an idiot.

Let me give you an example of how important spelling and grammar can be. My husband is becoming computer savvy in order to start some side businesses. The other night, I came home from Toastmasters, and the hubs excitedly told me, "Guess what! I bought (popular website domain name) - I can't believe it was available!"

Full well knowing that domain name was probably NOT readily available, I replied, "Did you spell it right?"

The response was something along the lines of, "Oh, crap."

Proofreading, people! Yes, it's that important to know how to spell and how to use the English language properly.

I am admittedly the grammar and spelling Nazi in my home. I'm quite proud of it.

The other night, I got to be Grammarian and Ah-Counter at my Toastmasters meeting. I couldn't believe how many useless words we all used in our speeches. Yes, I even used, "Um..." once while giving my grammarian report to the group. Yes, I noted it to the group at the end of my report. Sigh...

As writers, we are being judged with each letter we type, each sentence we structure, and each phrase we make come to life (or let die a horrible slow death).

Bad spelling and grammar can be deadly to your writing career. What if JannaBobanna123 is actually an agent who just happens to be reading your blog post?  You could be the next big thing, but not if you confuse 'your' with 'you're'.

Repeating these mistakes ad nauseam is unforgivable.

Invest in a good grammar checking program! At the very least, use your built in spell-check religiously. I know I do. Even if I catch an error months later in a post (yes, it's happened rarely), I go back and correct it. It's never too late. You never know who's scrolling through your archives.

Stop! Collaborate and listen... to Grammarly, that is. I just tested and corrected the preceding post material and scored 87 out of 100. It caught 7 errors. I now know that I overuse the word "and" which results in run-on sentences. What? Me? Run-on sentences? Not a shock.

It's like having a cheap editor. The best part is that Grammarly can't argue with you over your plot.

I had one spelling error I hadn't caught and a grammar issue or two I wouldn't have caught. All in all, I'm pleased with my result and would recommend Grammarly to take your writing to the next level. We can all use an extra brain to further our career. I'm impressed that this particular brain is computerized. I'm also a little pissed that it's obviously smarter than I. I am? Me?

Oh, heck. Back to Grammarly...

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner! (Not really... it's Creative Bioscience product and stuff)

Recently, I paired up with Kate Pilkington of The Nested Blog, Jennifer Bosse of Defining My Happy, and Amy Miller of Addled Living for an awesome giveaway. The winners have been chosen!

The winner of the prize pack is Laura Hickey. The prize pack included:

- $25 Amazon Gift Card
- $20 Gift Card to store of your choice
-3 months free ad space on Defining  My Happy (promote business or blog!)
-3 months Bioscience Product (www.creativebioscience.com)
-Spa kit including locally hand-made lotion and soaps & a pedicure kit

It was decided that the spa kit would be given away as a separate runner-up prize, so the winner of that item is Ana Nouri.


Thank you, everyone, for your participation. I hope to be able to give you more cool prizes in the future!

Kate, Amy, and especially Jennifer (who ran the whole shebang) - I couldn't have been paired up with better bloggers for my first giveaway. Hugs!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

End of Summer Giveaway! Gift Card, Diet Pills, Ad Space...Yay!

Well, the summer is winding down and we're all tired. Personally, I'm tired of my kids, tired of my messy house, and tired of being tired in general. We can all use a little refreshing, especially as moms, eh? What's better than an END OF SUMMER GIVEAWAY? Whoop, whoop... nuttin', honey!

The time has come for me to post my results and give out the three months of Creative Bioscience weight loss supplement products as per my agreement. Although I had some delays due to my Lyme disease, I have completed the 3 months of supplements and I did manage to lose 15 pounds total (and keep it off) without even doing the dieting part.

Although I will not be continuing the pills, I do feel they met my particular need, which was to jump start my weight loss journey and lose some poundage off of my roundage. I met half of my goal and all things considered, I'm quite happy with that. I still ate what I wanted and did nothing but take the pills and do some light exercise. I think that's how weight loss supplementation pills should be done, so that's what I did.

My favorite of the 3 pills I chose were the African Mango 1200. If you are the winner, you can choose any 3 products adding up to a 90 day supply. Take 3 months of the same thing or 3 different ones to see what you might like.


I have paired up with three other bloggers (thanks to a well-timed invitation by the lovely Jennifer Bosse at Defining My Happy) and the pot is sooooo much sweeter! Please join in on the Rafflecopter fun to win prizes from Jen Bosse, moi, Kate Pilkington at Nested, and Amy Miller at Addled and give your tired butt a nice little end of summer gift!

Prize pack includes:
- $25 Amazon Gift Card
- $20 Gift Card to store of your choice
-3 months free ad space on Defining  My Happy (promote business or blog!)
-3 months Bioscience Product (www.creativebioscience.com)
-Spa kit including locally hand-made lotion and soaps & a pedicure kit

The contest runs until August 20th at midnight. Enter now and good luck!
The winner of the prize pack is Laura Hickey
It was decided that the spa kit would be given away as a separate runner-up prize, so the winner of that item is Ana Nouri
Thank you, everyone, for your participation.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Survival of the Fittest: My First Amtrak Ride

I recently went on Pee-Wee's Big Adventure Cindy's Big Adventure to BlogHer '13 in Chicago. Although I did not end up in a giant Tyrannosaurus Rex's mouth with a waitress named Simone, I did, of course, come home with writing material from my trip. I have so much material that it will take many blog posts to tell my tales. I may have to start a mini-series.

At first, I thought I would drive. Silly me. I checked the hotel website and saw that it was $49 per night for big city parking. Don't you want to kiss me before you... well, you know.

A Lyme disease flare cemented the decision to ride the rails and off to the train station I went. I excitedly boarded the train (business class, thanks to my mama's generosity) and took a picture to prove how happy I was about it.

I settled in, picking a single seat so that I could work privately on several projects I carted along with me. Instead, I did nothing. I rode the train and felt important. In business class, you get a few perks. Waiting in my seat was a copy of The New York Times newspaper. Oh joy, look at the front page story!

In case you can't read the fine print, it says, "Train Derails in Spain." Wait, it says what? Is that a passenger train? Yes, of course it is! Not only was there a story on the front page about a horrible train accident, there was another train accident story inside. Double joy! I must say, reading The New York Times quite depressed me. Gloom and doom are totally not my thing and I had been excited about my trip before picking up the news.

I painted my fingernails in the cafe car at a table by myself while some young men drank beer before noon and played cards at the tables behind me. I drank coffee, which eventually prompted a trip to the loo. I managed to urinate in the awful little bathroom which smelled like a port-a-potty. I held on to the handrail with a death grip while simultaneously balancing in hovercraft position over "the hole of the unknown." It was terrifying.

Returning to my seat, I put the paper of doom out of sight and watched the world go by my window seat, fast and slow, boring and somewhat exciting. The train ride was a bit bumpy, but I tolerated the bumping and swaying rhythms just fine. That is, until we did the "this is normal for this train, folks" backing up part at Union Station. Then, I got my first taste of sea-sickness in Chicago. My second and third cases of sea-sickness were compliments of the cabbies and shuttle drivers in Chicago, but the train backing up was the worst. I resisted the urge to hurl, for there were no barf bags on the train, you see.

Overall, the trip to Chi-town on the Amtrak train was uneventful. I didn't die. How bad could the trip back be? Well, worse, of course.

I got to the train station in Chicago for my return trip half an hour early, as instructed. After wandering around quite lost, I asked for directions and found my spot in line where I waited for the half hour and then an hour more. They were working on the train doing, "mechanical work," and there would be a delay.

I wondered to myself why they couldn't just lie and say they were doing maintenance. That sounded so much better. And safer.

As we boarded the train, I noticed brake pads strewn about near the wheels. Brake pads? BRAKE PADS! Hold on, they were working on the brakes? Yep, the conductor with the great sense of humor confirmed that indeed they had been working on the brakes and the train was as good as new!

Well, whoopee, I'm going to die.

I texted a few people, just so they'd know the cause of the crash. I envisioned the headline, "Brilliant aspiring writer dies in horrible passenger train crash. Brakes to blame." Alas, there was no crash. I did not die.

At least, I assume I'm not dead. If I am dead, it is good to know there is blogging in the afterlife.

Settled in again with many projects still to be done (which I never did), I realized the trip home would be a long one. The woman directly behind me was obviously very ill and she coughed approximately every 3 minutes like clockwork. As the trip wore on, she began to sniff between coughs. She was still on the train when I got off. So yes, she coughed and she sniffed toward the back of my head... the whole 3-1/2 hours.

As if that wasn't bad enough, about an hour before I blissfully disembarked, a woman got on with her three small children... in business class. A wide-eyed, squealing toddler, clearly over-stimulated, plus a kid about three who wanted to ask everyone everything known to man, and a kid about eight who did mind his own business. The mother was clearly frazzled. It was entertainment, but not the good kind.

I considered the trip on the Amtrak as I exited and deemed it a good melting pot experience. Amtrak, thank you for not killing me. I could not have driven those Chicago streets on my own and am thankful for your transport of my weary body. In the end, you served me well and your soft pretzel was wonderful, even though it had no salt on it and the package clearly stated it would be salted. I forgive you this gross oversight since it was a sealed microwaveable package and this was obviously a factory defect. The nacho cheese covered this sin effectively, thank God.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

This Little Piggy Didn't Go To Market. He's Dead.

I think I may have to change my route to work. It's a bunch of crap. Literally. The hog farm on the west side is getting the better of me. Don't know about hog farms? Don't move to central southern Illinois, or you just might find out.

Understand that hog crap is fragrant enough on its own. My ex-husband's father hauled hogs. It was a terrible stench. I rode along once. Quoth the raven; once, never more.

During a short period of time when we lived with his father and step-mother (a period of time akin to being in hell), my ex would go with his dad sometimes for extra cash and come home late at night, too tired to take a shower. And then he'd crawl into a twin size bed with me. They had no air in the house and we slept upstairs. His brother's dog held a flea circus in our bedroom nightly and my ankles were covered with bites.

Satan, if you're looking for ideas for a new Infernal Hell Room #whatever, here you go:
  • You're in a room with your ex for eternity
  • You're in a room with your now divorced ex in-laws for eternity
  • You're constantly bitten by fleas
  • It's hotter than - well... here
  • It stinks like hog crap that will curl your nose hairs

Brilliant idea, I think. But I digress...

I travel this hog farm road nearly every day. I have two sets of current family that direction and I do some part-time work in that direction. It would be out of my way to go the way of the flowery road which hath no smell, you see. I can usually endure the brief time of holding my breath or simply inhaling the horrible stink in the interest of saving time and gas money. However, lately there has been a development making me think of changing my route.

Dead pigs.

I travel the road at a different time than I used to due to a schedule change. One day, I noticed something different. There was something pink at one of the doors of the hog building. It was - gasp - a dead pig. What on earth happened, I wondered? Then I saw that there was not just one pig, but many placed outside various doors to the hog housing units. I wondered if there was a plague. Perhaps some terrible pig illness was wiping out the pigs! It's hogmageddon!

I dismissed it, but my curiosity was rekindled when I noticed that there were dead pigs many days thereafter. Wait, this meant it was normal. My new schedule must take me by the hog farm when the dead pigs come out. That sounds like a great novel, "When The Dead Pigs Come Out," by Cindy Brown. I shudder at the thought that this is the book I'll be famous for...

My horror had turned to understanding in that light bulb moment. We run a very small farm here and we always lose a certain percentage of what we raise. No matter if it's chickens, dogs, sheep, etc., the strong survive and some inevitably die. It is expected. So on a farm with hogs by the thousands, I should expect a few dead ones, but out where traffic can so easily see it?

"Traffic" is not a very accurate term for the amount of cars likely passing that hog farm. It's rarely traveled by most. It's stinky, bumpy, rocky, and you have to have moves like Andretti to avoid the potholes. But I, oh yes, I... I take the road less traveled and that is how I gain all of my wisdom in life, friends. Well, not ALL of it, but you get my drift.

I thought back to the documentary I recently watched about people trying to go Vegetarian/Vegan and I recalled that they went by a random hog farm and found dead hogs outside with flies buzzing around their exciting find. The people were horrified. I was horrified as well when I watched that documentary. Now, I'd found new perspective.

If you have a farm with X amount of pigs and X percentage of the pigs expire on a weekly basis, you must get rid of the dead bodies somehow, it stands to reason. I'm still curious as to what they do with them, but I'm a little too nervous to stop and ask. They do get rid of dead bodies, after all. One can never be too careful when asking too many questions of a stranger who regularly disposes of dead bodies, I think.

Their process is likely a lawful one. They are never left out for long periods of time. And yet, I'm sure flies are instantly attracted to such a feast as dead pig carcass. And if you happen by during the time they are "out," you just get an eye full. Oh, and the thing which is making me consider changing my route... a nose full.

Dead anything stinks. But multiple dead pigs mixed with live hog crap... well, that just adds a whole new dimension to the word "EWWWW!" You either call on your higher power, "Oh, Lord God Almighty!" or you curse when you smell it, one of the two. Sometimes, the two get combined. It's practically an automatic reaction and I think if researchers were to take the time to study it, they'd find that response to be involuntary in the majority of test subjects.

Ah, another episode of life in the country. My new query to you, friends, is this:

Where do the dead pigs go?

Is there an incinerator, a virtual Hogocaust at Porkwitz somewhere that I am not aware of? Do they bury them in mass graves? Are they made into food to feed to other pigs Soylent Green style?

If you have a theory (especially a funny one), I'd love to hear it.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Memories - Like the Cobwebs of My Mind

When was the last time you thought about youthful things? I thought about it recently because I had a visual trigger.
Triggers can be visual, auditory, taste, touch, etc. They cause you to remember things long forgotten. This is what I had forgotten:

When I was a little girl, I made these baskets with my grandma. She taught me and I thought they were the coolest things. They were tucked away, a long forgotten fond memory of many colors and patterns.

Recently, I started doing home health care. At one home, I spied this little beauty and a flood of memories returned. Strange how I thought they were gone. I'd forgotten these little baskets ever existed. I'd forgotten making them with my grandma. How could I forget such a treasured thing? I loved doing these and had many of them.

I think I made these at about the same time I made crocheted wire hangers. Lord, they were ugly, but they kept the clothes on the hanger. I just now remembered those, too. How many other things my grandma taught me have been forgotten? These memories were tossed into the abyss of my brain... lost forever, or perhaps just until a trigger signals their return unexpectedly.

It shocks me to realize how many things must be stored in the abyss. Will they ever return? Are they filed away for all of eternity? Am I brain damaged?

If I recall, these baskets were sewn together with a needle and thread, but I don't remember how to make them. Surely I am not the only one who made these in the 70's. Did anybody else make these? Do you have a triggered forgotten memory you can share? I'd love to hear about it.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Creative Bioscience Update

I haven't written much lately, and I'm having severe withdrawals. This post won't help with that too much, but it's something to get me started again. Plus, I'm obligated.

A few months ago, I started a blogger challenge put on by Creative Bioscience wherein I would try three of their products, blog about my choices, my results once during the duration, and once at the end, and then I would receive three more products to give away to my readers.

I agreed to try Raspberry Ketone, African Mango, and hCG Zero, each for one month. To be quite brief, here is my view of the products so far:

Raspberry Ketones - didn't work
African Mango - worked pretty well
hCG - just started, so not sure yet

I have lost 15 lbs of my goal of 30 so far and it's pretty much all from the African Mango pills, I believe, coupled with some dietary changes. We shall see what the end results turn out to be, but so far, the African Mango is my winner. Stay tuned for the end results in a month!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Dumpster Diving? Yes, I did!

I received one of the worst calls a parent can get last week. I glanced at the phone and saw that it was the Junior High. I assumed it was a robo-call. Alas, it was not to be so.

"Mrs. Brown?"
"I'm very sorry to tell you this, but..."

Now, friends, let me just pause here for one second and tell you that what goes through your mind in that moment is absolutely a worst case scenario. It just is. You can't help it! I expected them to tell me that she had been lost in a tragic dodge ball accident and they needed me to come identify the body.

As it turns out, it may have been just slightly worse than the death of my little angel.

"...your daughter threw away her retainer at lunch and didn't tell anyone until all of the lunch trash from all four grades had been collected and taken out. You're going to have to come and dig through the trash with her to find it."

I quite sensibly replied, "She should do it herself since she is the one who threw it away." The secretary informed me that she didn't think my daughter would do it by herself. I believe she was most likely right.

I must admit that the human being in me let a curse word slip out after I hung up the phone.

Don't ask me why, but for some reason, I thought we would be going through the trash indoors. When I arrived, the secretary informed me that we would have to have the janitor get the trash out of the dumpster outside and we would have to sort through it out there on the ground... in the freezing cold. I was not pleased. I also didn't have an extra $300 for a replacement retainer, so there was really no option.

The only upside? They had rubber gloves we could wear. I put them on over my winter gloves and said, "Let's get to this, kid!"

As it turns out, junior high trash is pretty much... ummmm, slop. Pigs would have loved my job that day. I did not love my job that day. It was one of those days when you regret your choice to become a parent. "I wouldn't be out back by the dumpster digging through trash if I didn't have kids," I mused. Then I looked at my poor sweet kid who was nearly in tears and banished the thought.

She loves that retainer. It's really a bite plate which keeps her bottom teeth from hitting the roof of her mouth and cutting it, but it essentially looks like a retainer, so that's what we all call it. She wanted braces so badly, but her 12 year molars weren't in yet, plus we couldn't afford braces for her after just shelling out $5,000 for her sister's, so we decided the bite plate would at least address her most pressing problem. She is only required to wear it at night, but she's so happy to have anything resembling braces that she wears it day and night. She'd only had it a few weeks.

"Mom, I didn't mean to throw it away," she choked with watery eyes.

"I know you wouldn't throw it away on purpose, honey. We just have to find it, that's all."

I knew her poor stomach had probably been in knots, wondering how much trouble she would be in with mom and dad. As I stood there contemplating the possibility that the people at the nearby Aldi's were likely wondering if we were homeless and foraging for food, I decided to give my daughter a pass on this one. I didn't yell. I didn't complain. I minimized my displeasure to mild facial display and frequent sighs of exasperation.

The janitor had a broad idea of which of the nine bags of rejected lunch might contain the buried treasure. The first bag out had broken and sploshed all over the ground. It was a mishmash of chocolate milk, salad, orange slices, and cheeseburgers with soggy buns from the chocolate milk. It was truly disgusting, but we knew we had to find the thing. He pulled out two bags and I was able to wrangle the third from the outside of the dumpster. We started digging and putting all slop into new trash bags in cans the janitor brought out.

It seemed like days, but I think we were out there a little over an hour. These were LARGE bags.

One bag down. Take a deep breath. Two bags down. My daughter found the rest of her lunch, but no retainer. I was already working on bag three and bag four... well, I was going to have to actually get down in the dumpster for that bag and I really didn't want to do that. ARGH! Are you kidding?

"Okay," I said, "we've got to be close, so let's just keep digging. Hey, let's sing a song to Jesus and see if he'll help us find it." Truly, it was not with great faith that I suggested this. It was more out of boredom and for entertainment. "Ohhhh, Lorrrrrd, please help us to find this retainer in the garbage, pleeeease help us Jeeeeesus." It was awful - horribly out of tune and ridiculous sounding.

I looked down and couldn't believe my eyes. There it was.

"Oh my God! Here it is! Thank you, thank you, thank you! I prayed we would find it and we did. Let's clean up this mess and go!"

My daughter's response melted my heart. She said, "Mom, I prayed all day too. But I didn't pray that we'd find it, I prayed that you wouldn't be mad at me."

I could barely choke back the tears. In that moment, I realized that this wasn't about a material thing. It was about love, anger, and grace toward those we love. She is a good kid and a joy in my life and in that moment, I knew I made the right decision not to be mad about the situation, but to show her what a mother's love was really made of - the willingness to dig through sloppy trash for her daughter's mistake - and be kind about it.

I had to pick up the food on the ground so the school wouldn't be plagued by ravenous critters and my plastic gloves scraped the ground and tore at the fingertips. I couldn't even feel my fingers anymore, so I had no idea that my winter gloves underneath were soaked with slop liquids. I threw them in the trash on the way out and had no qualms about taking a loss on the $1.50 Walmart gloves. That, I could afford!

What would you have done? Grace? Punishment? Bought the new retainer? We thoroughly bleached and scrubbed that puppy, let me tell you. I swear, it's cleaner than brand new. And I love my daughter no less than before the dumpster diving. She's totally worth it.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Scavenger Hunts - Gremlins and Prizes, Oh My!

My daughter went on a scavenger hunt recently. She stated quite emphatically that she had the "most fun she's ever had." She's twelve. I believe her. There was even a cool mom involved. It wasn't me.

I can remember going on scavenger hunts when I was a kid. I even did it once for a job at a "fun day" event. I had the required safety pin in my purse and other items which I'm sure won us the trophy. There was no trophy, but I wish there had been. When in its organic state, my purse is a thing of wonder. You never know what buried treasure you might find in there. There could be gremlins in there, too. I'm not sure. I could stick my hand in there for my wallet and lose it, you just never know.

I can be very competitive and brave when necessary. I'm also great at doing research. So when I saw a scavenger hunt challenge on Firepole Marketing, I played my what the heck card and threw in my hand.

As it turns out, I'm finding that online contests often result in... well, things I don't want to do. But the competitive nature in me is strong, so I comply. Some contests are full of self-promotion, like the Top 25 Circle of Moms contest where I had to get my peers to vote for me, and the Firepole Marketing contest where I had to get people to comment, Tweet, share, etc. and another contest I just received word I was a finalist in recently where again, you have to vote for me to win. Here's where to vote for that one. I'm number two.

Please be advised that I despise doing this to my readers. I hate it. I usually don't even enter a contest if I know I will have to bother people to vote for me. I like contests where I do one particular thing and it's voted on by a higher power and I win or I place or I don't. They usually don't tell you, however, until after you've already entered the contest that you'll be required to do this, so you're kind of stuck.

I was happy that I didn't have to ask for votes for the Firepole Marketing Great Online Marketing Scavenger Hunt, however. It honestly would have ruined it for me. But it is a lot of work. Each task I complete earns me points and points mean winners and prizes. There are hundreds of people participating, so I even have to keep score for three other contestants to be kept in the contest. I told you, it's not all fun and games. It's hard work. But the point is to help you grow and gain in certain categories like:
  1. Networking and Guest Posting
  2. Social Media Mastery
  3. Multi-Media
  4. Writing, Reading & Researching
  5. In Real Life
The duration is long. Five weeks and over 100 challenges. Firepole Marketing can really help you out if you market anything online, including yourself. This contest is hitting me at a very busy time and I'm struggling to stay in it and be productive. My post here about it gets me some points, though, so I'm killing more than one bird with this stone!

Do you participate in contests? What have you won? What do you love and hate about online contests? Have you ever done an online scavenger hunt? If so, tell me about it!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Tell Me About Your Husband, But Don't Touch Mine!

In honor of this being a post-Valentine's Day post, I'm going to talk about my honey-bun, my sugar snap, my lover boy. I don't call him any of those things. Barf! But yes, I am referring to my husband.

First, however, in honor of it being President's Day, I must channel my inner George Washington and admit that I chopped down the cherry tree. I've heard that may not even be true, but I'm using the analogy anyway.

Without being too enigmatic, I'm trying to say that I told a lie. I didn't mean to. Blogger made me do it., I swear! I told you in my last post it was number 100, but it wasn't. I didn't look closely enough and Blogger combined my drafts and my published posts, which equaled 100. I'm actually only on number 90. My bad. I'm sorry and I'm sure you forgive me and could care less. Moving on...

I talk a lot on this blog about myself. Okay, fairly incessantly. Okay, incessantly. Don't get me wrong. Other people are important to my daily life and I need them to exist - like my husband, my kids, my mom, my dogs. Today, I want to introduce you to my husband because he's honestly the most awesome man... ever.

Hands off. He's mine. Finders, keepers. Losers, weepers. Wah, wah, wah. I got him and you didn't. Phhhhht! So there. He's awesome, I tell you. He not only has provided me with a good life and works very hard as a Union Boilermaker, I can give you a long list of his awesomeness.

  1. He let me quit working to take care of him, the kids, the house, and all things he cannot accomplish whilst working insane hours. He works so hard, I feel bad that he has to do anything at home. But alas, I cannot cook. Therefore:
  2. He cooks. If he were not a Boilermaker, he'd be a chef, and a good one. He loves to cook and does so unless he is super exhausted. Then we eat microwaved boxed food that I cook. Or spaghetti, which is a meal I manage to cook and not make fire alarms sound.
  3. He has hobbies he's passionate about, like beekeeping and raising sheep. He supports my hobbies as well.
  4. He's artistic. He paints. He draws. He sings. He plays guitar. He writes. He even juggles, like throwing it behind his back and over his head and under his leg and crap. He's good!
  5. And my favorite... he carves. Just look at these beautiful pieces he's done...




Last but not least, he's just hot! I love him more than words can say. We're perfect for each other. Our strengths complement each other and so do our weaknesses. We learn from each other. We're a rock for each other. He's my spiritual rock. We rock as a couple. It will be ten years this summer and we are still happy as clams together, however happy that is ??? I hope they're happy. Hmmm. Suddenly, I wonder how happy clams really are... note to self: investigate the validity of clam happiness.

We're goofy together, smart together, stupid together, and committed to each other fully. We trust each other and support each other. He's my biggest fan and he doesn't have to read my work very often to believe in it completely. He tells me every day how much he loves me and how wonderful I am. That right there covers a multitude of sins.

We met on a blind date. It wasn't our date. You see, he... oh, never mind. I'll tell you all about it on our ten year anniversary this summer. It's a cute story :0)

Everybody, meet my husband, Neil Brown.

Now, tell me in the comments a little bit about what's so great about your mate!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Carolyn Fallon on Diabetes - guest posts today!

Dear Readers,
I was recently acknowledged by my peers for supporting and promoting new bloggers; fresh new faces, all pink and rosy and full of wonder about this whole blogging adventure, eager for advice, exposure, and a shove in the right direction (a nice shove!) This means a lot to me and I am flattered to be seen in this way. How timely it was to be distinguished in this manner. Today, on my 100th post, I am presenting to you a blogger who deserves a shout-out and a heck of a lot more following, Carolyn Fallon. Normally, this wouldn't be something I would address on my blog, but I am on a bit of a health jag right now and her health-based blog is quite good - good enough that I want you to take a look at her writing and give her a follow if you are health-minded as well. I was pleased to be contacted by someone with a site worth sharing. Trust me, if you contact me about guest posting and your site is crap, I won't do it. Hers isn't crap, it's great! Please give her the exposure she deserves.   -- Cindy Brown

Type 2 Diabetes Prevention Tips for Kids
Not too long ago, one of my younger cousins was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. This was a complete shock to my entire family. Although I knew she was struggling with her weight for quite some time, I didn’t think that she could actually develop type 2 diabetes. I was wrong.

Even worse are the additional consequences that can result. According to information from Syracuse’s St. Joseph’s Cardiac Hospital, if diabetes is left untreated, it can lead to such issues as blindness, heart disease, and even neurological problems! After learning all of this, my family made it a resolution to work together this year to get my cousin back on track and prevent anyone else from developing this terrible disease.
The first thing my aunts and uncles did was get rid of all the junk food in their houses. Instead of throwing all of it away, we gathered it all together and donated it to the local food shelter. I don’t mean to make it sound like we gave the “bad food” to the food shelter, but we felt better about donating it and letting people decide if they wanted it or not instead of just throwing it all away.

4 Nutrition Tips for Type 2 Diabetes Prevention
When it comes to prevention, one of the main factors of prevention is a healthy and nutritional diet. Below are a few tips we have used ourselves through this process of fighting type 2:
  • Make a list of different fruits and vegetables that your family likes and tape it to the fridge as a reminder to eat at least three things from the list every day.
  • Rather than choosing junk food as a snack, freeze grapes and serve as a healthy frosty treat that will satisfy that craving for something sweet! Here’s a great site with more healthy snack ideas for your kids.
  • Stay away from foods that contain high amounts of sugar, trans fats and saturated fats.
  • Eat organic whole grain foods that do not come from genetically modified crops.

Getting Kids to Eat More Fruit: Make a Delicious Smoothie!

Making fruit and yogurt smoothies has to be one of the best ideas ever to get kids to eat healthier. Smoothies not only introduce more fruit into their diets, but the live cultures that are found in yogurt give them their daily dose of friendly bacteria to help regulate their digestive systems. It also serves as a great breakfast, snack, or even a delicious dessert!

In my smoothies, I prefer to use a  flavored yogurt such as blueberry, vanilla, or strawberry. For juices, I use a variety of orange, pineapple, apple, or grape juice. Depending on which flavor of yogurt I use, I will add in different fresh and frozen fruits such as strawberries, peaches, pineapple, apples, pears, red grapes, green grapes, blueberries, kiwi, star fruit, or mango.

Here's a favorite recipe we enjoy:
     1 cup blueberry yogurt
     Handful of small frozen strawberries
     1 fresh kiwi fruit
     1/2 cup apple juice
Mix it all together on high speed in your blender and you'll have an icy fruit smoothie that will give kids an extra boost of vitamins and energy.

4 Exercise Tips/Activities That Families Can Do Together
Getting regular exercise another important factor when it comes to type 2 prevention and management. Here are a couple of our tips:
  • Take a leisurely bike ride to the park with the family. Pack a healthy picnic and spend the day running around and playing games together.
  • Get a bunch of the neighborhood kids together and play dodge ball, kickball, soccer, capture-the-flag, tag, etc.
  • Go swimming together at the lake, the river, or the local pool club.
  • Take a hike into the forest and see how many edible plants, animals, and types of trees your family can identify. Take a reference book along to see if you're right and remember to never eat anything you can't clearly identify.

Carolyn is a 20-something year old with a passion for life, fitness and overall well-being. She is an avid cyclist, golfer and has been known to bust some serious moves on the dance floor. Check out Carolyn’s blog at Full-On Fit! or connect with her on Twitter @CarolynFallon.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Hip Hop Abs - Everyday Underwear Style

Go ahead. Laugh. That's why I filmed it ;0) My husband said if I put it on YouTube, it might go viral and Ellen DeGeneres would have me on her show to dance and laugh with me. Or more likely, at me, which would be great. You know, perhaps I could entertain her for a change.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Sexy Body, Where Are You?

Well, well, well… it seems that I am suddenly important enough to get free stuff (very few good offers for this) and be constantly bombarded with requests for guest posts (will I do them AND will I host them?) and for this I am thankful, even though it is time consuming and requires a lot of research on my part.

There have been a couple of opportunities lately which are right up my alley and I wanted to start talking about anyway on my blog, so rock and roll. Here we go! Everyone repeat my battle cry!


Creative Bioscience has given me an opportunity to try their diet & weight loss supplements for 90 days for free if I will talk about it. Just so happens that:
  1. I am on a quest for health recently since I am feeling much better.
  2. I could use a jump start.
  3. I researched the company and found them to be legit and I found one product on the shelf at CVS (however, not at my hometown Wal-Mart or Walgreens) which made me feel better.
  4. Um, free.
  5. I get to be HONEST (you know I’m all about that) about my experience with the products and then I get to give away products to my readers as well at the end!
Did you catch that last thing? I get the products for free and then I get to give them to you for free! We all win.

I have chosen to try 3 different products instead of one product for 3 months and tell you what I think of each as I try them:

Raspberry Ketone Plus
African Mango 1200
hCG Zero Capsules

I have a weight loss goal of 30 pounds. I have already begun an exercise program and it and a few dietary changes have bagged seven pounds already, so I’m excited to see what some supplementation will do. That’s weighing first thing in the morning, naked, after I’ve peed, by the way.

You can apply for this challenge as well if you are a blogger with enough traffic. Please follow this link for more information: http://www.creativebioscience.com/90-day-weight-loss-challenge.html

If I like the stuff, I’ll be letting you know. If I don’t like the stuff, I’ll be letting you know. I’m all about natural options, so I’ve chosen hormone and stimulant free versions where possible.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Sports Mom Blues

I dislike sports. The only reason I ever attended a game of any kind was easily attributed to one of several factors:
  1. A friend wanted to go.
  2. There was a cute guy there I wanted to see.
  3. I was in band, so I had to play for the games.
  4. My dad took me.
  5. My kid is in a sport.
Sigh. Enter the gates of hell.

I am not one of those parents who screams at full vocal throttle for their kid. I go and support my young 'un, but I don't travel to all the out of town games nor do I go to every single home game either. Some do, but I simply cannot. I provide enough presence to be considered supportive by the general public and make my kids happy that I go to see them... and then happy that I don't go see them sometimes, too.

I don't know how people have the time to go to all of their kids' events. My daughter is in volleyball and she has practice after school every weekday for several months. If there isn't practice, it's because there's a game. Either way, it's an extra trip to town for me since she normally rides the bus. It's an extra 45 minutes - just driving and waiting - out of every day for me. If I go to a game, it's about three hours of my time. I could be doing productive things, like... anything!

Then there's the money you spend. All that driving costs gas money. Then there's:
  • Special shoes
  • Knee Pads
  • Another pair of knee pads because the first ones just didn't do right
  • Sweatpants
  • Jacket in team colors
  • Three pairs of shorts for practice
  • Athletic fee
  • Cost to get into games
  • Money for daughter for snacks before/during game
  • Water bottles required for practice or she has to run laps
  • A small gift for your "sister" partner for each game
  • A ball to practice at home with

Not even kidding. I'm prepared to start digging change out of the couch to pay for food.

Another reason I have the sports mom blues is the abandonment. I brought my other daughter. She sat with me all of about 15 minutes and I was glad to have the company. I decided to go to concessions and maybe surprise her with something. She did say she would be starving by the time the game was over. I spent approximately a thousand dollars on treats for us.

"Yes, I'll have a nachos supreme, a taco in a bag, a Cherry Coke and a root beer."
Teen response, somewhat audibly: Wah-wah-wa-wah-wah

"You're out of Cherry Coke? (figures, that was what I wanted.) Okay, I'll just take one root beer and we'll split it."
Teen response, somewhat audibly: Wah-wah-wa-wah-wah

"Yes, I want everything on both of those."
Teen response, somewhat audibly: Wah-wah-wa-wah-wah

"Ummmm, hmmmm. Liquid cheese or shredded? Hmmm. Yes, liquid cheese, please."

That sounds so gross now that I'm saying it out of context. Liquid cheese. Go ahead. Say it! It sounds gross, doesn't it? And yet, I want it slathered all over the food. Sigh - gates of hell, people - gates of hell.

I began calculating how to get my surprise back to my seat when my daughter suddenly appeared.

"Oh good, you can help me carry this."

Her response was less than desirable, "Ew, what is that?"

In an effort to make it seem more palatable, I replied enthusiastically, "Nachos supreme and a taco in a bag! You can choose whichever one you want. I thought I'd surprise you."

"I don't want anything right now anyway. I'm going downstairs."

I knew what this meant. I wouldn't see her for the rest of the night.

"Uh! I thought you were starving," I gently reminded her.

Apparently, she ate cookies in stealth mode before we left the house. No wonder it took her so long to go back into the house for that water bottle! Little sh... poopie head.

Great. I knew I had to eat all of the food myself or it would get soggy. Nobody likes soggy, liquid cheese infused chips. Nobody.

So, like a pig, I sat by myself and ate both the nachos supreme and the taco in a bag, which were essentially the same thing on a different bed of chips, feeling like a total dork, while my daughter holed up with her friends in a corner, oblivious. I slunked off to a less conspicuous spot to pig out.

After that, bored to tears, I wrote this blog post long-hand on the back of the only pieces of paper I could find in my purse, the back of a gas stamp card and a napkin. I silently wished I had brought my laptop or owned an iPad. My daughter played for all of about ten minutes an hour before and now I had to wait until all volleyball games for the other grades are complete before I could take her home... all six games. Sigh. Again.

Did you know it takes a really long time to write something like this long-hand?

And holy moly, my butt was killing me! I'd already been in pain from the other game I went to this week. My back, my aching back! I felt ninety. Old ninety. Not young, spry ninety. Sitting on a plank of wood for hours on end is definitely a chiropractor's dream. They ought to troll games and slingshot business cards into the crowd.

That's right. I not only write, but you can hire me as a marketing consultant as well. Come on, you know a chiropractor would be remembered if he walked up and down every row saying, "Your back will be killing you tomorrow." Then whispering and leaning in with the card pressed into your palm, "Call me." He winks as he walks away.

The hours drag on. I look up and pretend to care about the other games when I hear a lot of cheering or noise interrupting my writing. Suddenly, both daughters run up to me, "Mom, it's time to go!"

Whoops! Game is over? Hey... who won?

Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Meanest Letter, Ever!

Dearly Beloved,

With blind trust, I write this, hoping that you will heed my desired wishes. I'm not sorry to tell you that I do not want to help you with your charity project, even with the 20% commission incentive. Though I have never met you before, I can say that you repulse me.

Thank you for contacting me also about the investigation. I'm glad nobody else knows we are in communication. I am so sorry that huge amount of money has been laying dormant in your account unclaimed for so many years. Still, I don't want it. Stop trying to give it to me. I'm sure someone else would like your money. I can't - and won't - help you. Ever.

I know that you are fast, friendly, and flexible, but I do not need your low rate interest loan or fast money. No fast money. No dirty money. No money, no money, no money!

It is terrible that you are a widow and that you have colorectal cancer and heart disease which cannot be cured, but I still do not wish to take the distribution of your wealth. Furthermore, I don't care about your cancer. Really. And I don't care if you think that's mean of me to say.

I do not wish to come together with you, Abdul, and "reason what you have to share with me." Your trade and the important role I play in its $186 million is of little concern to me. I have bigger fish to fry. Go jump off a Nigerian cliff. I have laundry to do.

I am not in the market for a new car today and if I were, a stranger sending me an e-mail would be the last place I'd start looking. Leave me alone!

It is fantastic that I have won the Yahoo Microsoft Euro Lottery. Heck, I don't even remember entering! However, you can keep your money and shove it where the sun don't shine, brother.

Wow, thanks for quoting me some scripture in your Western Union message. It is great that you cannot deceive me because your Bible says, "What shall it profit a man to gain material things and lose your soul?" You are very insightful, but your guilt trip is not working. Keep thumbing through that book, though, charlatan.

Additionally, thank you for paying the fee for my bank draft so my DHL package can be delivered. Whew! I wonder what is coming from Britain for me? Still, I do not feel comfortable giving you a copy of my driver's license. Shove it, mister!

I am so glad you contacted me about the problems with my PayPal, Chase, and other bank accounts I didn't even know I had. If I want to re-activate them and verify my information, I will go through their actual site and I would never be caught dead clicking on a link you sent me in your faked e-mail. Bite me!

Sincerely yours,
Cindy Brown (a.k.a. Fed up with my daily junk mail folder contents!)