Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas 2011 has come & gone...

The whirlwind that is Christmas prep & family celebration has already come and gone for another year. It all goes by so quickly any more...guess I'm gettin' old!

I probably had more fun and thought more about the blessings in my life this year than I have in many, many years at Christmastime.  This is not because there was more "stuff" under the tree or because I bought someone an extravagant gift (or two or three) which I couldn't really afford.

It is because I am able to enjoy:

  • A new job in the field I've come to love so much in a community which is a terrific fit for me.  It sure doesn't hurt that I have much more earning power there, either....SOME of my financial worries will abate somewhat and I should be able to pay for a greater portion of Tori's schooling now, which is a big weight off of my shoulders. I should also be able to save more.
  • A new attitude of gratitude. I credit a lot of this to my love of change in my life, and my ability to roll with the punches. Yes, some of those punches have knocked me flat at times these past two years; however, I have come out on the other side in much better places.
  • Family. I have an amazingly supportive, loving family. Doesn't mean we don't ever have our differences - of course we do. It fills my heart up, though, to know that they always have my back and I, theirs. My brothers and sister, and their spouses and kids (and those kids' spouses) are so important and special to me, and it was such bright joy to spend Christmas Day itself all gathered at Kev & Sonja's celebrating, catching up, and just enjoying being together.  
  • Friends such as no one should have a right to have.  Again, the support and love from my friends, some back in my life after decades (thanks to Facebook), some with whom I've been friends since I was 6 or 7, some who have come into my life more recently but with such love it catches me off guard, is truly something for which I am overwhelmingly grateful.  They check up on me, help me with the 4-legged family members when I need help, offer me a shoulder when the tears flow, and just love me unconditionally. 
  • Tori.  What more can I say? She's sometimes judgmental and gives me the "MOM!" look more often than I like, but she is such a joy to me.  Such talent in that girl - and she keeps on rebounding from disappointments and rejections in a way I don't think I ever could.  I am so glad to be her mother <3

So come on in, 2012...give me what you've got! I'm ready and looking forward to another wonderful year of chaos!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Comfort & Joy, Sister-style

Going to baby myself a bit today....over-did things yesterday and my ankle is screaming at me, so today it's R-I-C-E all over again to try to get this pain under control.

relaxin' in my KN pj's chosen with LOVE!
When I woke up today, I found my very favorite, 13 year old jammies to don. They're Karen Neuburger in a washed-out plum color with a leaf pattern, still soft and comfy after all of these years. My amazing sister, Claudia, gave them to me back in 1998 when I was going through treatment for thyroid cancer. She gave me two sets, and while the other one (with adorable snowmen on it) wore out several years ago, these are still going strong, just as I  :)

These jammies bring me so much comfort and joy - every time I put them on, I remember how much love went into selecting them for me. When you no longer have a thyroid and have to be off meds for weeks in order to prep for ablation therapy/treatment, you are always cold...chattering teeth cold.  Claudia wanted me to be wrapped in warmth, and so she gifted me with these amazing warm, indulgent pj's.  She also gifted me with the unquestionable knowledge that she loves me more than anyone has a right to be loved. For this, I am eternally grateful.

As I wear the jammies and nurse my health issues of another type today, I will carry her love around with me. As I take time to indulge my creativity and make more cards and tags, I will feel her influence, guidance, and love enveloping me and know that she is proud of me and my accomplishments. And I will, always, love her back!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Winding down and starting up

Well, my two week hiatus from work is winding's been nice, but I'm ready to begin my new adventure at Sunrise Senior Living at Tuckerman Lane.  My ankle sprain forced me to be a bit more sedentary and introspective than I'd planned, but that may have been divine intervention to force me to just BE.  Gotta run down to the new facility today for some pre-employment detail stuff, and then Chicks' Night Out at Donna's for Raclette, wine, friends, and board/card game fun. Can't wait to laugh and just hang out with these four amazing women.  I think that the photo below is about 8 years old, but we haven't changed all THAT much since then :)

Here's to a Friday full of everything joyful!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Just added to BlogHer!

So, I finally, a year after discovering BlogHer and subscribing, updated my profile and added my blog to their directory.  Yay! Going to spend some time today surfing through their offerings and bookmarking some other womens' blogs for ideas and inspiration.

So far, my blog topics have been mostly related to politics, my pride in Tori's accomplishments, creative pursuits, and musings about the mundane & every-day.  I have often been told that I write as I talk....quickly, knee-jerk, and with some humor sprinkled in.  You'll have to tell me if you agree!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

a few things on my mind....

1)  T-Mobile really needs to fix their holiday-themed ad...."Walking in a 4G Wonderland" truly, truly sounds like "Walkin' in an orgy wonderland."  No matter how many times I hear it.

T Mobile's 4G Wonderland (or is it Orgy Wonderland?!??!)

2)  Saw a promo for a new show on ABC premiering soon - about two guys who dress up like women to get jobs. Hasn't this been done multiple times before? Aren't there any original ideas?

ABC's Work It - Really?

3)  I bought a lot of fresh ingredients at Wegman's tonight to make several delicious soups & stews so we have healthy meals ready to go when I start the job with the commute from hades.  Will spend the next couple of days making stuff in the crockpot and stockpot.  And the house will smell divine!

4)  Have plans for the next several nights with family and friends. Feel so very blessed to have so many wonderful people in my life. I know I say this a lot, but it's true.  It never ceases to amaze me.

I am so glad to have the ability to type what I'm thinking, even if it's pretty mundane. Sometimes, it's just the process of getting stuff on paper that starts creativity flowing.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Forced laziness

Well, I know that when I'm at home, I'm basically lazy, but this is many things I wanted to get done in between jobs and I've spent the last 5 days laid up with a sprained ankle.  pretty, huh?  God sure has a weird sense of humor!

I am able to put weight on it now, so maybe my dining and living room will get cleaned today. Tori can help get decorations up.  It's onward and upward!

my feet/ankles aren't all that attractive normally, but this is ridiculous!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Holiday Card Boot Camp Days 4 & 5

Wow, so much inspiration! So many cool techniques and "toys"....    Must. Use. What. I. Have. On. Hand.....  (yea, right!).

For the most part, I've stayed true to wanting to use what I have and not buy exactly what the pros are using/what's on the class supply list. I did make a trip to Michael's, A.C. Moore, and my local scrapbooking supply store, PhotoScraps, this week to get a few "must HAVE's", such as the Tim Holtz Distress Inks in the limited edition Holiday colors and the Martha Steward Dove punch. Just had to have them!

I believe the dove card is probably going to be the one I "mass produce" for the majority of people this year. It's elegantly simple and doesn't take a lot of time to put together, but is still handmade and gorgeous (If I do say so myself!)  It was originally designed as a card into which a holiday letter could be fit, but I doubt I'll do that...most likely it will look just as it does in the photo below.

Hope you're enjoying viewing my work as much as I'm having fun creating it!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Holiday Card Boot Camp - Day 3!

This is a technique I've done before but use way too infrequently - dry embossing. This time, the space around the embossed snowflakes is heat embossed and the snowflakes themselves are sanded & inked, making them "pop".  The bird in the circle window is actually a cupcake topper I found at World Market - there are also stars, reindeer, and something else in the package.  I love finding items not typically meant for paper crafting and incorporating them into my projects!

This is probably my favorite card so far. Today is day 4 so I'll be using those ideas as I create tonight...about to go watch the videos...wonder what treat is awaiting?!?!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Holiday Boot Camp Day 2

I am not a big photo card maker, so instead of using a photograph, I took a holiday-themed napkin, decoupaged it to cardstock, and took it from there.  It's pretty close to the sample, but enough different that it's my own. It was also really easy to make and didn't take a ton of time - I think this may be a staple for my cards this year, for some special people on my card list.

I haven't sent cards the past two years, so if I manage to get at least 40-50 in the mail this year I'll be really happy. Putting work into making my own ups the odds substantially, I think :)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Holiday Card Boot Camp: Day 1

Card made following Kristina's tutorial....

I'm rather happy with how it turned out! :)

card making boot camp day 1

Just watched the how-to videos for the Holiday card boot camp day 1 and I am really inspired to make more of my Holiday cards this year.  The past few Christmas Seasons have been full of melancholy for me as I muddled through my separation and divorce and our family dynamic changed drastically as Tori graduated from high school and moved on to  college/other adventures.

Now, I am feeling a new energy and a renewed sense of the value of self.  Let the Holiday Season begin, 2011 - I am ready for you!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Starting new things left & right!

I'm starting an amazing creative endeavor tomorrow - an online card making class!  Taught by the amazingly talented Jennifer McGuire & Kristina Werner, it will help me grow my artistic side to new levels, and I am so excited!  I made a few cards today as thank-you's to some new folks I met, to tell them I appreciate the time they've taken with me to help me figure out what I want in a career and a work day.  It felt wonderful to be creative and work with color and design.

Look out world - I'm ready for BIG things!!!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Parenthood at 3:30 a.m.

Parenthood, both the actual being a parent and the show on NBC, are pure joy these days, sprinkled with a bit of angst and frustration.

Tori continues to amaze me.  I know I'm her mom, and I'm supposed to be proud and love her beyond words, but - wow.  She weathered a summer full of rejection and down-time, at times questioning what on earth she was supposed to be doing with her life (as all of us do from time to time).  Now, moving into the autumn months, she has hit her stride.  Working two part time jobs - one in food service and one in retail - as well as performing in a cult-classic musical show for which she was specifically recruited - she is so busy her head is spinning. But she is finally loving life again.  And it's wonderful to behold.

The Braverman clan of NBC's Parenthood is also back this fall, and I am once again hooked.  These characters feel like members of my family, which is to say that they're both immeasurably special/worthy of love and frustrating at times.  I've never seen so many issues confronted at once by television characters.  Christina is wound so tightly she may explode at any moment. Her love for her family, especially her children, is admirable, but does she have to be so anxious about everything? I just want to give her some xanax and a glass of wine!  Others who I am both fascinated by and want to smack this season include Hattie, Julia, Adam, and Crosby. And what's with Sarah, having even one iota of a doubt about getting involved with Jason Ritter's character?? Duh!

It may seem silly to blog about a tv show, but I am trying to just write, at least a little, every today. On this, my 48th birthday, I am going to start blogging every day, even if it's one sentence or one paragraph.  I have projects I want to re-open, and things I need to write. In order to move forward, I need to write daily.

So, here goes....

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Weekend adventures

This has been a good weekend - a good mix of relaxing, work around the house, and family time. For the first time in a good while, Tori and I spent the bulk of Saturday and Sunday together, which was really nice.

Saturday, we took Lucy into Downtown Frederick for First Saturday's Dog Days. While we had wanted to dress her up in her Ariel costume, she's outgrown it, so we dropped by PetSmart and got her a cute little tie-dye style t-shirt and some bows to put in her ears. She looked adorable! She wasn't nearly the best costumed dog there - many were simply adorable and very creative. We especially loved the young girl there with her two golden retrievers - they all had matching leg warmers and headbands. Still, we had a great time just walking around and "ooh-ing and aah-ing" at all the adorable dogs.

Today (Sunday), we just hung out at home. Highlights included laughing until I thought I'd puke as Tori read exerpts from a website with auto-corrected texts. They were ridiculous! Then we worked together to make my mom's (Grammy's) cabbage & dumplings for dinner. That was a really nice experience. We've been laughing a lot together today. I am remembering why I love being a mom!

So, now it's on to a new week. Ugh!

Friday, August 5, 2011

been a long time, but this article is so important...

I know it's been a long time since I posted, but someone sent me this yesterday and I feel it's so accurate and so important to share. I may have different political views than some of my friends. However, I believe that this article is relevant whether you have a (D), (R), or (I) after your name.

Arrogance of being President while being Black

I don't think anyone was under some real illusion that the election ofBarack Obama actually means the end of racism in America . I'm pretty sure that the president-elect knew it better than anyone. After all, he saw it
every day, from the moment he announced his candidacy. To some degree, he saw it within his own party during the primaries. And he saw it in all ugliness during the general election. For half of this country, he was
"That One". No matter how big and clear his victory was. No matter how smart he is. No matter how decent he is. No matter what a true patriot he is. No matter how optimistic and positive his vision for America was. All
that didn't matter. Because at the end of the day, he was still black.

I'm quite old. I remember, vaguely, where my parents were on November 22,1963. I've seen so many presidents. Some were feared, some were hated,some were adored, some popular and some not. But all of them, without exception, were treated with the highest respect deserving the office of the president of the United States .

That is until a black man won the right to occupy this office. It's been13 months now, and in the eyes of so many, Barack Obama is still that one. He is being disrespected and at the same time being held to the highest
standard of any president I've ever seen – and not just by the Republican side! He has to perform three times better than any president in history,and even that may not be enough.

For the media, he is many more times just "Obama" than "President Obama".hey create scandals out of nothing issues. It took them at least 6 years to start giving Bush a small part of the shit he deserved. It took them 6months to begin crap all over Obama because he's yet to fix the catastrophe that was left for him.

They use condescending tones when they talk about him, and only mildly less condescending when they talk TO him. With anyone else, CNN wouldn't dare go to commercials every time the president speaks, like they did
during that summit on Thursday. They wouldn't dare be counting how many minutes George Bush or Bill Clinton were talking. Chris Mathews wouldn't dare make an issue out of Ronald Regan calling members of congress by
their first name, like he is not actually the president. They fully cooperate with the Right-Wing smear machine when it comes to presidentObama's national security performance – even if almost every independent
and military expert actually thinks that he's a terrific Commander-in-Chief. You'll never see them on TV, and virtually no one from the Left, in congress and outside, defend the president on this matter.

I don't care about the Far-Right. They're just crazy ignorant Neanderthals. It's the way the beltway and the mainstream treats this president that is shocking. On Thursday, almost every Republican had no trouble interrupting him in the middle of a sentence. They looked like they're going to vomit every time they had to say "Mr. president". They all had this Eric-Cantor-Smirk whenever he spoke. Then they went out and
started to spit their stupid talking points, to the delight of the media. Sarah Palin, a woman who can hardly read, thinks that he was "arrogant" towards John McCain, and somehow this is an important news. Because you
see, "Obama's Arrogance" is the talking point of the day.

Oh, those talking points. He is arrogant (because he knows the facts better than all of them combined). He is an elitist (because he uses big words that they don't understand). He is weak on national security (because he actually thinks about the consequences). He divides the country (well, he did that the day he had the audacity to win the election). Worst of all, he actually thinks that he's the president. He even dared to say so on Thursday. How arrogant of him. You'd think that previous presidents didn't have any ego. Somehow it turned out that the one president who treats even his biggest opponents with the utmost respect – is the arrogant one. I wonder why?

I expected that his winning the Presidency would bring out some ugliness, but it's been far worse than I imagined. The racism coming from the Right is obviously clear and shameless, but there's also some hidden and maybe subconscious and disturbing underline tone behind some of the things that I read here and throughout the Left blogosphere, even before the end of Obama's first year - 'He's weak, he's spineless, he's got no balls, primary him in 2012'. It'll be dishonest to deny that.

The fact is that for millions in America, Barack Obama is this uppity black man (Not even a "real" black), who received good education only due to affirmative action, and has no right to litter the sacred Oval Office
with his skin color. They just can't accept the fact that the president is a black man, who unlike his predecessor, was actually legally elected. But what's really sad is that it's not just the fringe, its deep in mainstream America .

Barack Obama's ability to remain above all this slob, to keep his optimism and his strange and mostly unjustified faith in people, while continuing to gracefully deal with an endless shitstorm – is one of the
most inspiring displays of human quality I have ever seen. And I can only hope that the Cosmos is on his side because God is and He never makes a mistake.

Sometimes, they make me feel ashamed to be a white man!!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Retribution & Justice, or Murder & Revenge?

This has been a difficult week for me, in more ways than one. Probably most difficult was hearing the news on The TODAY Show on Thursday that one of Tori's LHS '10 classmates is charged with first degree murder down in Ocala FL, in a horrific crime. She was one of 6 people who participated in a scheme to torture and murder a 15-year old boy, then burn and dispose of his charred remains in paint cans. Truly unimaginable.

This young woman is 18, same as my sweet daughter. She had many of the same teachers in our school system as Tori, many of the same acquaintances, many of the same role models. She has loving adoptive parents, family members who raised her and her siblings as their own children to give her a better chance at a productive life. These adoptive parents have to be so terribly devastated - I can't even imagine.

Tori is now living down in FL, not too terribly far from where this classmate aided & abetted in this terrible murder. She is hearing, both out and around and on local news, that many people feel that these 6 people who took the 15 year old's life, should "hang in public," "be shot and tortured while we all watch," "burn at the stake," and "die a horrible death - kill 'em!"

I thank God that, though I was raised to support the Death Penalty and see criminals' lives as worth less than spit, as an adult I have come to realize that state-sanctioned killing is no more just than cold-blooded murder. The legal process to put someone to death is lengthy, costly, and cruel - not only to the accused (or actual) perpetrator(s), but also to those who loved the victim. It breeds hatred and loathing, depression and guilt, and really does not deter other people in society from committing crimes that may carry the death penalty as punishment. My parents, even my mom who was one of the most kind and generous people I've ever met, believed that our tax dollars should not be spent to feed, clothe, house and even educate prisoners accused of more heinous crimes. Thus, I believed this, too.

Then, I became a parent. Bruce and I did our very best to raise Tori with compassion, a strong sense of right & wrong, a sense of selflessness, and the knowledge that if she based her life on the Golden Rule - corny as it may seem - she'd have opportunities to a happy and fulfilling life. So far, so good. Thank God she has (mostly) understood and lived by the principles we hold dear. I mean, we're all only human. We make bad decisions, probably more often than we'd ever like to admit. Some of those bad decisions have serious consequences. I feel truly blessed that Tori has grown into a beautiful, moral, productive adult. What made her "get it," and Charlie not?

Charlie Ely's bad decisions have led to a first degree murder charge in a state which sanctions the Death Penalty. I have never known her well, but nonetheless, she is a mere 18 year old raised with the same principles taught to her as we taught our 18 year old. No matter how heinous the crime, she does not deserve to die to set an example or satisfy society's desire for revenge.

Capital Punishment is not a deterrent - and it is horribly expensive to society, both in terms of financial and moral bankruptcy:

According to a survey of the former and present presidents of the country's top academic criminological societies, 88% of experts rejected the notion that the death penalty acts as a deterrent to murder. (Radelet & Lacock, 2009)

The exorbitant costs of capital punishment are actually making America less safe because badly needed financial and legal resources are being diverted from effective crime fighting strategies. Before the Los Angeles riots, for example, California had little money for innovations like community policing, but was managing to spend an extra $90 million per year on capital punishment. Texas, with over 300 people on death row, is spending an estimated $2.3 million per case, but its murder rate remains one of the highest in the country. (NOTE: The LA Riots began the night Tori was born, in the same year as Charlie)

The high price of the death penalty is often most keenly felt in those counties responsible for both the prosecution and defense of capital defendants. A single trial can mean near bankruptcy, tax increases, and the laying off of vital personnel. Trials costing a small county $100,000 from unbudgeted funds are common and some officials have even gone to jail in resisting payment.

Human rights advocates and civil libertarians continue to decry the immorality of state-sanctioned killing in the U.S., the only western industrialized country that continues to use the death penalty.

Further, the death penalty is not necessary to achieve the benefit of protecting the public from murderers who may strike again. Locking murderers away for life achieves the same goal without requiring us to take yet another life. Nor is the death penalty necessary to ensure that criminals "get what they deserve." Justice does not require us to punish murder by death. It only requires that the gravest crimes receive the severest punishment that our moral principles would allow us to impose.


While it is clear that the death penalty is by no means necessary to achieve certain social benefits, it does, without a doubt, impose grave costs on society. First, the death penalty wastes lives. Many of those sentenced to death could be rehabilitated to live socially productive lives. Carrying out the death penalty destroys any good such persons might have done for society if they had been allowed to live. Furthermore, juries have been known to make mistakes, inflicting the death penalty on innocent people. Had such innocent parties been allowed to live, the wrong done to them might have been corrected and their lives not wasted.

What galls me most is that many of those calling for these young peoples' blood to spill are likely anti-choice. They most likely would have done all possible to protect these 6 peoples' lives in vitro, but now that they're born and have made extremely poor choices in the most heinous sense, these anti-choice want their lives snuffed out.

I'm sorry, but this is not justice. It is not retribution. IT IS MURDER. And why is it ok for us, as a society, in MY name and the name of others I love, to kill when we consider killing to be the most serious of crimes? Makes absolutely no sense to me. Never will.

Today is Easter Sunday. Christians just spent a week of introspection, asking God to forgive their human frailties, to shower them with Grace. Jesus' death and Resurrection have given us all hope. My greatest hope is that Charlie finds her way back into productive society. When it is her time to die, she'll face the greatest Judge she'll ever face. I pray that she makes things right and accepts His greatest gift: forgiveness, granted if only it's requested.

And while I certainly don't understand why or how she could have ever made the choices she's made, I wish for her the love of her family and of God, that such love will rehabilitate her heart and soul. And that such love will keep Florida from taking her life in a misbegotten attempt to "make things right." Killing is NEVER right.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Croneyism at its worst

Bush I and his cronies met today and are still lying about the first and second (and continuing) Gulf Wars. It is amazing me, seeing them around a table being interviewed by Brian Williams on NBC's Nightly News, lying with no compunction, some even contradicting the lies of others. And Cheney smirking his now more skeletal evil smirk all the while. It all makes me sick.

The first war was about oil, no doubt about it. The 2nd, junior's way of avenging his daddy's attempted assassination. Interesting that Cheney was in a bunker as the planes hit on 9-11, as if he was expecting it? It all just drives me nuts. I know this is rambling and a bit paranoid, but come on - Bush, Cheney, Baker, and even Colin Powell, 20 years later, still trying to pull the wool over the Nation's eyes. Truly disappointing.